Friday, June 22, 2007

School Capacity

Roy Smith brought up an interesting issue on the tail of another thread but I thought it deserved its own. What is the capacity size at any given building? Would we want schools full to capacity?

In my work on the CAC (and later on), I found that Facilities uses different capacity numbers. It's quite puzzling. There are different factors in determing capacity like teaching stations (actual classrooms), special ed rooms, a teachers' area, etc. What I saw on the CAC is that when a school was underenrolled, many schools found uses for their extra space and were loath to give it up. I get that (especially in older buildings that weren't designed to have an art room as many new buildings do have) but the extra rooms have to do more than be storage or extra room for art projects. The district doesn't help by publishing/stating different capacity numbers (depending on the issue they are speaking on). We need realistic numbers that do not change (unless a new program comes in that requires taking a teaching station).

I recall when my older son started at Eckstein about 100 extra kids were placed in the school based on parent complaints. That was about 10% more kids at the school. This placed a tremendous strain on resources and, to my amazement, the school continued to grow. Eckstein is a fine school, well-run with good academics and a great music program but many parents are turned off by (or reluctantly accept) its large size. I was told that in the 70s Eckstein had 2000 kids (similiar to the story Roy heard about how big Jane Adams was at one time). All I can say is, "Who wants a 2,000 seat middle school?"

Roosevelt was built for 1600, has 1700. Ballard is way overloaded. I was told recently that Hale will be rebuilt for 1400 (they currently have about 1150ish). Hale doesn't want to be bigger but population growth in the north and the fact that we're paying to rebuild their building to 1400 means they are likely to have little choice but to grow.

Capacity seems a little like Goldilocks; not too many, not too few, but what is just right?

39 comments:

classof75 said...

I like bigger schools- in most cases- but smaller class sizes, or at least part of the day in a smaller setting.

I realize that just like cars or purses, we utilize the space that is there for the most part- but if forced to, we can also consolidate functions and make best use of the space.

I attended a high school that had about 1300 students- for three grades
my junior high- 1100 students- elementary about 450.

Some alternative schools may opt to be smaller- depending on their configuration- but schools currently spend basically the same money for facilities, whether they enroll 500 or 1500.

Obviously the larger school is making more use of the space and should be compensated accordingly, instead of being shafted by having fewer dollars per student to spend.

I don't like schools being over enrolled. When I was attending school some schools even had double shifting, which was how districts used to deal with school populations in the 70s, while new schools were being built or remodeled. I wouldn't recommend that.
But, a critical mass is needed to offer support and services and class choice for students.

I see students getting much more attention & opportunities at some of the comprehensive larger high schools, than they did at alternative schools less than half the size

south end mom said...

My understanding from a recent Student Learning Committee meeting is that school capacity will no longer be a site-based decision. I believe this was decided at an Operations meeting, and that capacity will be made by central office.

This does not answer the question regarding how much is too much, but it does look like the District is seeing the trouble of the current policy.

Anonymous said...

My number one concern is if the district forces schools to take on very large class sizes based on what they dictate to be capacity. Where can we look up what they determine what a school's capacity is?

Annie said...

Anon 1:32-

This is bet of a quagmire. When you say the "District" is forcing student size, I don't know who you are reffereing to. A building, through its principal and BLT currents sets any given year's student capacity. Until this year, buildings were allowed to request more (Ballard and Roosevelt) or less (Hale) students than the building's planning capacity. The District does have to honor the reuests to move students from AYP schools under NCLB, so yes, schools like McGilvra and Stevens were assigned students whose parents asked for NCLB transfers. What other instances are you aware of where someone forcesd an increase in students? The only other one that I am aware of is from thw WSJ article that wrote about how former CAO Steve Wilson required students be moved unto Ballard etc about 5 years ago when a parent group put a lot of pressure on he and the Board (i.e. let our kids in or we are walking). I wish that they would have called the bluff, and worried about the students who were already in the school rather than the parents who worked the system into getting what they wanted. BTW, the schools that moved the waitlist that year have never again been the same size as before, they have always taken more students than planning capacity.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, the principal and BLT may have the say but the district puts a lot of pressure on schools to take more kids. I know this specifically to Eckstein and Roosevelt. Roosevelt does NOT want to increase in size and would be happier at 1660-1650.

In Eckstein's case, Superintendent Olchefske made the decision with the principal, on their own, with no building/parent input. In fact, the only parents they notified were the parents of the students allowed in (I have a copy of the letter sent to those parents.) The rest of the parents had no idea the student body was increasing by 10%. In that case, again, parents made threats to walk and no one called their bluff.

Anonymous said...

I know that my children's elementary school was called by the district this year and asked to take more kids. They had to scramble to hire another teacher and find space/move things around to make it work without having a significant class size increase. Eventually they are not going to be able to find any more space if this happens every year and class size is going to suffer.

I like small(er) schools said...

We are at AEII - a K-5 alternative school with about 300 students, which seems to be close to the max of the building's capacity (I didn't check the district site to confirm).

Our principal has said that the upcoming change in the funding formula will have a damaging effect on smaller elementary schools, including ours, regardless of whether they are fully enrolled or not.

Given that some of the NE Seattle elementary schools are smaller due to building size (not because they are under-enrolled), the district's push to bigger schools is worrisome to me, if they are implementing a funding formula that disproportionately impacts schools, based on their capacity, forcing smaller schools to either grow (who is going to build the portables-the students?) or face repercussions in funding.

Eric B said...

I have two areas that I have questions about - one, how does the use of portables alter the equation? Does this just bump up the capacity? In that case who cares what the capacity is if they can just throw up another portable?
The second area that I don't understand is how the schools and district deal with the fact that elementary schools seem to only be able to grow by large leaps. If a school has 2 (full) classes in each grade level, they can't exactly add 50 students. They would need to add a classroom at each grade level - about 150 students. Otherwise class sizes would be so small that the school couldn't balance their budget or they would have the untenable problem of having 3 classrooms in some grade levels but only 2 at others. It seems nearly impossible for k-5 schools to change their size significantly no matter what their building can handle. Can anyone clarify this for me?

Roy Smith said...

All of the various implications of the capacity and class size discussions make me really question the long-term wisdom of the push for school closure and consolidation. It would appear that SPS may really be shooting itself in the foot for the long term by trying to get rid of what is perceived as "excess capacity" in the short term.

Some examples:
1) The north end has more students than capacity in the estimation of many people. Over the years, I can think of two high schools (Queen Anne and Lincoln), two middle school (Summit and Wilson) and at least half a dozen elementary schools that have been closed or re-purposed in this part of the city. Most of the elementaries and Queen Anne High School have been sold by the district and the Wilson-Pacific building has been allowed to deteriorate perhaps to the point of uselessness (though at least the property is still available). Hindsight being 20/20, were these property management decisions wise for the long term?

2) Almost everybody is currently pushing for smaller class sizes. Although lower student/teacher ratios are achievable by merely hiring more staff, smaller numbers of children/classroom require more physical classrooms. I think a lot of people think of both of these as components of "smaller class sizes".

3) Some people (such as myself) and some educational researchers feel that larger schools make it more challenging to achieve positive educational outcomes, and might even be less cost effective. I have been told that at one point (before the latest round of fiscal troubles) SPS itself was really pushing to have more, smaller schools based on the idea that smaller schools could be more effective educationally.

4) About 25% of Seattle's children are not in the public school system (mostly either private or home schooled). This number is generally considered to be this high because of lack of confidence in Seattle schools. Additionally, Seattle has one of the lowest percentages in terms of overall population of children of any major city in the U.S. Again, this low percentage may be indicative of the fact that families with children do not have confidence in SPS, and so decide to reside in the suburbs when they otherwise would prefer to live in the city. If public and parent confidence in SPS is restored to the level most of us would like to see, it is entirely possible that many of these families would then like to move into SPS. Where are we going to put those students?

These factors seem to point at the fact that closing school buildings (and even worse, selling off "excess" school district property) in an effort to reduce facilities dollars spent per student may have a negative impact that is much larger than the positive impacts that we can realistically hope for out of the additional money that might be made available for purposes other than maintaining school buildings.

Anonymous said...

I have a question for Roy, and the others who are anti large schools? If you have a large school, of say, 1500 students, with class sizes of 20 kids per class, isn't this much much better than what we have now which in a lot of cases are smaller schools with 32-36 kids per class? I say this because our son went to Salmon Bay last year (300 kids), very very small for middle school. Yet there were 32 kids per class. I didn't see any benefit of the "small school" theory at all.

How else does a large school affect the outcome or experience of school?

Anonymous said...

"or they would have the untenable problem of having 3 classrooms in some grade levels but only 2 at others."

Happens all the time at Lowell. There's one extra-large class currently moving through, and they've had to have a couple of teachers change grade levels each year as a result. That's on top of the regular issue of having more kids choosing the school at each grade level, so that there are generally more classes at each grade level (I forget what the distribution is currently, but a typical scenario in the past was one first grade class gradually expanding to five fifth-grade classes).

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, a discussion that leads to more questions. I found the last post about even a small school having large class sizes to be true. It is amazing the variation from school to school on class sizes and you'd be surprised. Some schools (I remember this from Whittier) try to keep K-2 deliberately smaller for the younger ages (and beginning readers).

I still believe that closing schools will be of some benefit. I think the issue was that the Boar/District wanted to do it equally throughout the district even though, as Roy as stated, we have different needs and population distributions. In the last round of school closures in the '80s, something like 80% of the schools closed were in the north end. That's why I was sad that many in the south end chose to call it racist that we were closing schools there even though the same thing happened in the north end 20 years ago. I am honestly hoping that streamlining this district and putting resources and a laser-like focus on the schools that we keep is going to produce good benefits for ALL the district.

Roy also brings up an issue that dogged the CAC, the Board and the District. What's the right size school? If you are a district, it's the cost to run the school while producing the best academic outcomes.

Facilities had initially tried to persuade the district to adopt an elementary level size of something like 400-550 which was rejected. That said (and I'd have to go back and check my documentation), the Board agreed on something like 350-450. I can't believe how many people said those were "huge" schools. I think there's this one-room school house idea of school size but I don't think from a financial viewpoint, it's viable. Plus, as has been pointed out, it doesn't necessarily translate into a smaller class size. Until every single building is renovated/rebuilt, we will always have some small schools (mostly elementary) because of building size.

So what size should an elementary building be? Middle? High School? Keep in mind that many other states have much larger schools than in Seattle.

Kathleen Brose said...

Until Queen Anne and Magnolia have their own neighborhood high school,
there will not be enough seats available in the north end of the city, especially if they want to keep the high schools smaller. The majority in these communities do not want to bus their kids across the city to a high school that has room, like Ingraham, Rainier Beach or West Seattle.

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME!

Roy Smith said...

I have a question for Roy, and the others who are anti large schools? If you have a large school, of say, 1500 students, with class sizes of 20 kids per class, isn't this much much better than is much more likely that most or all of the students will have a personal relationship with one or more faculty members, and it is also what we have now which in a lot of cases are smaller schools with 32-36 kids per class?

In terms of academic outcomes, some research suggests that overall school size can matter as much as class size does. This effect results from the fact that in small schools, there is a much higher level of personalization in the relationships between faculty and students. (See, for example, this report: Knowing and Being Known: Personalization as a Foundation for Student Learning for more on this subject). Some other research suggests that the most effective school size depends greatly on the type of student population being served. Since Seattle has a very wide spectrum of student populations, this indicates that the most effective system may be one in which all sizes of schools are available from fairly large to very small.

Speaking from my own experience, when I was a child I attended an elementary with slightly under 200 students. My classes were always right around 30 students. Even if the option had been available to go to a school that had 450 students but only 20 (or even 15-18) students per classroom, both my parents and I would have declined. The reason is that at a small school, the students and faculty all knew just about everybody in the building. There is no way this could happen at an elementary school with 450 kids attending. I think that this level of personal relationships has a direct impact on academic outcomes, particularly for students who are educationally "at-risk" in one way or another. By the way, I am one of those people that considers an elementary school with 350-450 kids to be "huge".

That all being said, in my opinion small schools are no more a cure for all our problems than smaller class sizes, increased parental involvement, or a revised assignment and transportation plan are. These factors all can contribute to successful schools, but none guarantee success. There are small schools that are horrible. There are large schools that do a pretty darn good job.

I feel that there is a valid role for small (and even very small) schools in SPS, that they can and should exist, that they can produce great educational outcomes, and that they can be or are cost effective. I am not anti-large school, and I am not of the opinion we should be immediately rushing out trying to make all of our schools smaller. I generally feel that incremental change creates better outcomes than revolutionary change, particularly in education. I think we should very, very carefully examine any proposals to close or consolidate schools that are based on hypothetical cost savings to a) really figure out if those cost savings will materialize, b) what the real consequences on academic outcomes will be, and c) what long-term costs or financial risks (such as, "we might actually need a high school to serve Queen Anne someday?") might be present, particularly if the plan is to sell what is currently excess property. These last costs and risks are usually not included in the data that makes the financial case for closures, consolidations, and property sales.

For anybody who is interested in more information about small schools and small schools research, here are some resources:
Small Schools Project (Foundation promoting research and resources for effective small schools)
Research Articles on the Cost Effectiveness of Small Schools (3 research papers)
Articles and Research about how Student Achievement is affected by small schools and school size (7 research papers)
Gates Foundation Coalition of Essential Schools (Educational arm of the Gates Foundation; they advocate several approaches for reforming education, including small schools, notably the "multiple schools in a building" concept)
Rethinking Schools Online Summer 2005 issue - Is Small Beautiful? The promise and problems of small school reform (single topic issue)
Articles and Research from the Small Schools Project - Arranged by Topic (many, many research papers)
National Clearinghouse for Education Facilities Resource List - School Size/Small Schools (very long list of research papers and other resources about small schools)

Anonymous said...

can someone explain how parents in schools Buy Down class sizes? i've heard this term in reference to Stevens, who used parent fundraising to keep classes small.

how does this fit in with District-mandated capacity?

will the district override parents if more planning is done centrally?

should parents of existing students be able to keep prospective students out of popular programs by keeping class size down?

i've never understood this issue.

Charlie Mas said...

This is another reason that program placement must be done at the same time as setting reference areas.

A building's capacity can be roughly gauged by the number of classrooms, but it can only be set when program placement is known.

Here's an example:
Say an elementary school has eighteen classrooms. Could the school have three classes per grade of general education classes? Well, strictly speaking, yes, but when you start allocating the rooms you would more likely use twelve of them to have two general eduction classes per grade. Of the six remaining, one could be used for an art class, two or three might be needed for special education classes (or for special education pull-outs). One of the classrooms might be used for instrumental music or it might not; music could be done in the cafeteria/auditorium instead. i have also seen rooms dedicated to drama or used as resource rooms. I'm sure there are other possible uses. If the school doesn't have a gym, one would have to be reserved for indoor P.E.

That said, it can go the other way as well. I have seen schools use spaces that were not intended as classrooms - including closets and the ends of halls - for classes. I've seen one large classroom divided into two small ones.

Some schools can add portables, some schools cannot. There has to be space for them and, believe it or not, some schools don't have any such space. Lowell, for example, completely fills its lot, the playground is actually city property.

Without knowing the number and type of Special Education programs at a school, there is no telling what the building's capacity really is. Without knowing if some non-classroom spaces can be pressed into service as classrooms, there is no telling what the building's capacity really is. Without knowing what classrooms need to be reserved for art, music, P.E. or drama, there is no telling what the building's capacity really is.

And if these variables are presumed fixed, and are essentially set when the reference area is determined, does that preclude changing them in response to changing needs?

If students are guaranteed seats at a school so the District assigns 38 fourth grade students apply, does the school create one section of 38? two sections of 19? one section of 30 with 8 fourth graders in fifth grade classrooms? How will they manage that?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Buying down class size is a confusing issue. I had always thought it wasn't possible and that there was some line that PTAs can't cross in that area. Obviously, there is some way to do it.

The issue of site-based management would allow a lot of this to occur. I'm not sure the district cares where the money comes from if a school has the funds to buy-down class size. However, I believe that Carla and Dr. G-J are likely to sit down and decide to pull back on site-based management, more to allow Dr. G-J to get a clearer picture of what is happening at each school than necessarily trying to gain control.

McGilvra is at capacity, I believe (being a school that uses funds to buy down class size). However, a school like Hale has been able to fend off growth for awhile now so there must be some argument schools can use about capacity. As Charlie has pointed out, capacity depends on the programs in the school like special ed which might mean a school looks like it is under-enrolled but the rooms are being used differently.

As I mentioned before, NCLB came into play for buying down class size at McGilvra this past school year. Madrona did not meet its AYP and the district had to, under NCLB, let parents there know and allow them to transfer to another school in the region. McGilvra was obiliged to take some of those students, buy down or not. I don't know any actual numbers.

Morgan said...

Roy, How do you explain Eckstein, the largest middle school in the state of WA, having the highest test scores of any middle school in the district. Not that I am a huge fan of test scores, but its what we have to measure, so I'm using it. My son goes to Bryant. It is a very large elementary, about 560 kids. Large class sizes too. They have one of the highest WASL scores in the city too. I have personally seen the benefit of a large school. We transferred from a small (250) kid alternative school. In the large school (Bryant) we get things like a science teacher, and science lab, a music room and full time music teacher, full time librarian, stellar after school program with so many choices that you can't decide which class to pick, and so much more I can't list it all, but you get the idea. I'm not saying that all schools should be large, I'm just saying that you can't condemn them for being large. There are definately benefits.

Anonymous said...

Roy says "Even if the option had been available to go to a school that had 450 students but only 20 (or even 15-18) students per classroom, both my parents and I would have declined. The reason is that at a small school, the students and faculty all knew just about everybody in the building."

I would personally have my childs teacher in the room with 18 kids, give my child much more individualized attention all day long, every day, than be in a smaller school with 30 kids in the class, where they did not get as much individualized attention, have a class that moves at a much slower pace ,had to sit on a rug for an hour while 30 kids do show and tell, etc., just so the "other" staff in the building knows who they are. Doesn't really make sense in elementary. Perhaps, in middle and HS, but then there are not many 250 kid middle/HS's.

Morgan said...

Also, forgot to add that at Bryant, while we do not know every student, and every teacher personally, we know plenty. The principal and head teacher both know my son very well (and not because he got into trouble either) and say good morning to him every day. Another thing to ad, ad our small (250) kid school all of the kids went to recess together, at Bryant they stagger it, so only two grades at a time are out together. So, it is actually much more manageable than the small school recess. Large schools have more options. They are not the void institutions that Roy makes them seem.

Roy Smith said...

Morgan, I am not condemning large schools, and I am not saying that they should not exist.

Quoting myself (in a previous comment): That all being said, in my opinion small schools are no more a cure for all our problems than smaller class sizes, increased parental involvement, or a revised assignment and transportation plan are. These factors all can contribute to successful schools, but none guarantee success. There are small schools that are horrible. There are large schools that do a pretty darn good job.

I feel that there is a valid role for small (and even very small) schools in SPS, that they can and should exist, that they can produce great educational outcomes, and that they can be or are cost effective. I am not anti-large school, and I am not of the opinion we should be immediately rushing out trying to make all of our schools smaller.


For me and my family, and for many other families, small schools work. They do not work for everybody, and I never claimed that they did.

Morgan said...

Hi there Roy,
I wasn't directing my large school vs small school theories at you. I hear so often "How big" Eckstein is", and get questioned by everyone...."How could you send you kid so such a laaaaarge school?" I'm just tired of it. I am definately not anti small school in any way, but I am personally happier with larger schools. In fact I truly believe you get much better resources at a large school. For instance at AS1 there is not a strong sports program, not a great band program, not a huge selection in after school classes, no honors classes, etc. Please don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this, and this is the trade off you make to have a small school, small class size, tight community, etc. There are many great things about small schools, but that shouldn't negate all that comes with a large school. For my children sports play a big role in their lives, and they really appreciate playin on a school team. My kid also really excelled in the band, and is hopefull of a music scholorship. I hope Seattle keeps both large and small schools. What seems like inequities and differences could really be translated to choice (assuming we still have choice with the new assignment plan).

south end mom said...

To each his or her own. (Therefore, we need to find ways to analyze student capacity issues in regards to the student assignment plan.)

Anonymous said...

i now understand the program and reference area synergy that Charlie explained regarding use of classroom space. but i still don't understand the buydown.

is it that the school parents can fund an additional teacher to bring down the student-to-teacher ratio in a large class?...and if so, in that case, do the teachers operate in the same physical space, or do they take the reduced class size, move it to an additional physical space, and then say there is no room for additional enrollment?

also is it that they can purchase, say, an "elective" program like art, put it in a classroom, and thus bring down available rooms?

it seems to me that this is a crucial issue for the full community to understand in redoing reference areas.

Roy Smith said...

Can somebody name some schools that have actually used PTA raised funds to "buy down" class sizes? I keep hearing about this but have yet to find an actual example.

Anonymous said...

Montlake, McGilvra, View Ridge...I'm sure there are others. I think each of these schools do things a bit differently though in how they use the money.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a couple of years ago when we toured View Ridge class size was 19 kids in k-2. They said fundraising was respnsible, thought they didn't go into much detail. I hear the district has been putting some heat on them, to take more kids as of the past few years, and quite honestly, they should. We are in the overcrowded NE cluster. My neighbor applied for Bryant, View Ridge and Wedgewood and didn't get into one of them. Meanwhile View Ridge continues with their tiny class size. My kid goest to Bryant a half mile away from View Ridge, and we have 30 kids in our class.

Anonymous said...

View Ridge has been taking more kids - next year they are adding a Kindergarten class (so there will be 4) and they did the same thing for the 04-05 year. They find a way to squeeze the kids in and keep class size down when there are large influxes of kids coming in. I don't see anything wrong with them being committed to smaller class sizes - it's good for the kids. My understanding is if View Ridge is your "reference school" they will get you in. The years they end up taking 4 classes they typically will take quite a few from outside the reference area as well, as will be the case next year I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the View Ridge example as well, but no one yet has explained the rules of what school fundraising can/can't impact in the world of BuyBacks as far as the District is concerned.

Is this one of those rocks about to be overturned, only to find a bunch of worms? Are there District rules that guide the spending of this kind of money or that place limits on a particular school's ability to turn students away to keep class sizes low? Who has an answer?

Charlie Mas said...

There are, in fact, no rules governing how a school can spend privately raised money - whether from a competitive grant or from a non-competitive grant (i.e. PTA, New School Foundation).

None.

The District does not have a policy on this and people have started to notice and say that we need one.

What restrictions should there be?

Should there be any?

Should schools be prohibited from using non-competitive grant money on basic education expenses (teachers)?

Should they be allowed, but the District take an overhead bite out of it (as they take from other types of grants)?

My feelings tend towards limiting, if not prohibiting, spending on basic education expenses as that is inconsistent with the spirit of the state law that tries to equalize basic education among districts. That limitation can come in the form of a hard limit or in the form of increased "overhead". For example, if a PTA wants to buy a new carpet for the school library or a field trip, the District doesn't get involved. But if they want to pay for a teacher's salary, the District assesses a sort of luxury tax on that expense. I'm not absolutely positive about whether Music and art teachers are regarded as basic education by the state, but I'm very sure that we would want to defer to the state definition of basic education.

ultimate fan said...

As part of the now board-approved framework for the student assignment plan, there will be "target" enrollment sizes established centrally for every building (e.g., 12 classrooms @ 28 students each or 336 students) and the building cannot decline to take students if it has fewer than the target.

That wouldn't keep a PTA or private organization from helping to pay for co-teachers, coaches or other staff who could reduce teacher:student ratios.

Someone I talked to at the district suggested that any private organization funding a staff position should pay a portion of the PCP time generated - and an overhead charge could be another component of the assessed cost.

As to whether it's basic education or not basic education - it's a bit of a shell game, isn't it?

If a building goes to its PTA and requests $20,000 to supplement the budget/funding from the district, it can be put toward the Art teacher's salary, the Kindergarten teacher's salary or a volunteer coordinator (yes, some schools have a paid position!) - they would need to specify which, of course, but that's not to say it couldn't be designed such that the building's budget pays for the "basic ed" positions and the PTA's $20K pays for the non-basic ed.

Anonymous said...

OK here it is, hopefully very clear. When we were at AEII we used fundraising dollars to buy our class size down.

The district gives you X amount of dollars per pupul. If you take less kids you get less $$$. Since a school can't afford to run on less $$$, if they take less kids, fundraising $$$$ have to make up for the lost revenue. So if each class had 30 kids in in, and you decided to reduce class size to 28 here is how it would look. Let's the district gives the school $5000 (made up figure) per kid, and you will now have two less kids per class, that is %5000X2 = $10,000 per class that fundraising dollars would have to pay the school for. If you wanted to do that in all of your k-2 classes and you had two classes per grade,that would be 6 classrooms, or a total of 12 spots to buy. 12X5000=60,000. It's a very expensive undertaking, and only very affluent schools like View Ridge, Montlake and McGilvra can do it. AEII tried, and failed. To expensive.

Now as for an above poster saying what's wrong with View Ridge buying down class size. Nothing,if there is plenty of space to accomodate everyone. There is not in the NE Cluster. Why should one school have 30 kids and another 19? Talk about inequity. Then you say "they take everyone in the reference area". Isn't this a bit selfish? Don't we still have choice? ISn't this what choice is all about? How can you turn kids away, knowing there is room in the classroom for them? How did you handle it when you were an integration positive school, before the lawsuit?

Anonymous said...

Just to add a bit more. After our attempt at AEII to buy class size down failed (I didn't suport it by the way), plan to, which was much less expensive was to buy a 1/2 time reading, and math teacher. They were paid hourly and this was a much less expensive undertaking. It allowed the younger grades to have a 1/2 size class (13) for reading, and the older grades to have a 1/2 size class (14 kids) for math, as they were seperated into two groups for these subjects. We didn't have to turn any kids away, and yet reduced class size in critical core subjects.

Anonymous said...

View Ridge Kindergarten class size was 21 last year, not 19. My friend with a Kindergartener at AE11 said her class size was 24. It's not like AEII has huge class sizes and and it's not like View Ridge isn't saying yes when the district asks them to take more kids and it's not like it doesn't have portables and are doing everything they can about trying to stay committed to smaller class sizes including some very creative space planning.

Also - John Rogers has historically not been full.

I wish we could focus on how to increase capacity and allow schools decent class sizes rather than rip on schools that try to make it work. Other schools that can afford to buy down class size have chosen to use their money different ways. Having a child with special needs, I have found the small class size to be essential to my child's education at her young age.

NE Seattle has capacity issues period. THe school district says they plan to expand View Ridge to hold 535 by the year was it 2030 or something like that? I think they need to expand capacity a lot sooner than 2030.

Anonymous said...

By the way, in the older grades, I believe View Ridge does the same thing as AEII with math and reading.

Anonymous said...

"Having a child with special needs, I have found the small class size to be essential to my child's education at her young age."

I think everyone with a special needs child would say the same thing, however only those fortunate to live within the View Ridge reference area will have 21 kids in their class.

As for John Rogers, they are now full. They are the NE cluster dumping ground. Everyone that applies to View Ridge, Bryant, Laurelhurst and Wedgewood that doesn't get in winds up dumped into Rogers. They have been full for a couple of years now.

As for AEII having only 24 in the class it is because they are alternative and the district can NOT place kids their. They have to choose it. AEII gets a small waitlist, but they clear it every year. Then they have a few kids no show, who choose private school. This leaves them with 24-25 kids in k-2 classes and no waitlist. It also doesn't help that the district prevents mid year transfers, as they have no chance to gain a couple of kids later in the year.

Anonymous said...

when we are talking about access to good programs, i don't find it at all equitable to allow schools to buy down class size if they have any sort of waiting list at all.

hire extra teachers to help with the larger class size. add additional programs like art. all good. but not ok to deny basic access. and believe me, i'm a believer in small class sizes. it's simply not a fair way to approach the subject, in my view.

if the district is going to allow it, which i don't think they should, then how about a sister school policy? wealthier schools may not buy down class sizes without raising double-money. the second half of the money goes to a sister school that has less abundant resources.

Anonymous said...

I find the View Ridge parents perspective to be very elitist. It's that me, me, me attitude that brings down our schools. It is human nature to fight for what's best for your kid, I totally get that. But the elitism stinks.

Anonymous said...

Why compare View Ridge to AEII? AEII is an alternative school. Compare it to Wedgewood and Bryant, two neighbor traditional schools. Both have 30 in a class. So now it is 30 VS 21.

That's a huge difference.

It's not that I want to take that away from View Ridge. It's just that I think all kids deserve a smaller class where they get individualized attention, and move at a quicker pace (have you ever sat through 30 kids doing show and tell for an hour and 15 minutes?) It's unbearable and unreasonable for a 5 or 6 year old.

Of course, if you pull the plug on View Ridge's 21 kid class, most of those parents will bail and head for private school, and it will hurt the district even worse. The only reason most View Ridge families even go to public school is because View Ridge is like a private school. It's very insular, as you can't get in unless you live in the reference area, tiny class sizes etc.