The New Student Assignment Plan has been sketched out. We're all pretty familiar with the features as the lines are getting inked in:
* Right-sized elementary school reference areas - matching the student population size with the school building capacity
* Default assignment to a reference area elementary school
* Guaranteed enrollment to a reference area elementary school
* Continued choice in elementary schools
* Elementary school transportation limited to clusters
* Clusters reduced in size to cut transporation distances
* Single middle school reference areas
* Middle school reference areas aligned with elementary school reference areas (feeder patterns)
* Default assignment to a reference area middle school
* Guaranteed enrollment to a reference area middle school
* Continued choice in middle schools
* Middle school transportation limited to reference area school
* High school transportation by METRO
* Continued choice in high schools
Also written, but not as darkly:
* Single high school reference areas
* High school reference areas aligned with middle school reference areas (feeder patterns)
* Default assignment to a reference area high school
* Guaranteed enrollment to a reference area high school
* Some percentage of set-aside seats for out-of-region students at each high school
There are some topics that have only been mentioned, not really discussed:
* General transporation policy for alternative schools
* Transportation service areas for specific alternative schools
* What is and is not an alternative school?
* The possibility of set-aside seats in high schools for specific programs (e.g. biotech at Ballard, Jazz Band at Garfield and Roosevelt, IB at Ingraham and Sealth)
And then there are some topics that have not even been mentioned out loud, but are definitely on the radar and causing concern:
* A rational, transparent program placement process driven by student data instead of principal politics
* The impact of program placement decisions on building capacities and reference area size
* Equitable access and distribution of Spectrum programs - real Spectrum programs
* The possible need for out-of-cluster or out-of-region transportation for Spectrum students to gather enough to form viable programs
* Equitable access and distribution of special education programs
* Equitable access and distribution of bilingual programs
* Placement and configuration of unique programs like APP, elementary and secondary BOC, the programs now at Marshall, and the programs now at Wilson-Pacific
There are almost certainly some items I forgot or didn't classify correctly. I hope people will add them.
Some at the District have hinted that they don't want to discuss some of these last things yet. They have suggested that these elements can be discussed in a second Phase. I don't see how. If the District doesn't consider the impact of program placement on capacity when right-sizing the reference area, they will end up with 580 students trying to find seats at Lafayette. In a similar vein, after right-sizing a reference area for a school, how can the District add a program to it?
I think these unmentionables need to be talked about as part of the whole design. The principles driving the design of the whole should extend into these cases as well. So let's talk about these oddly shaped pieces of the puzzle and where they fit in the big picture.
There are benefits of coming early to the discussion. If you are among the first, then you have a better chance of participating in it, positioning it, even directing it. These little vacuums represent opportunities for activism and advocacy. I don't know that the District staff will be open to suggestion on these topics, but I do know that the ideas with the best chances for acceptance are those that serve all students' interests well - not just the immediate self interests of a small group, and are consistent with the guiding principles of the whole project.