Here's a copy of a letter I sent to School Board members and District staff today. I haven't had time to run this by anyone for feedback, so I'm interested to hear what blog readers think of the idea.
School Board members and District Staff,
If you go forward with the closure of any schools or programs, please consider letting the students/families displaced by the closures have both priority enrollment and choice within the cluster where they live.
As Tracy Libros said last night, the current proposal for assigning students prioritized having students closer to home over having large groups of students and teachers staying together in the move. I know some Cooper parents are advocating the opposite, and are looking for a way to have their school program moved intact.
But not all parents/families want the same thing. Some parents may be thrilled to have first priority enrollment for an open spot (after siblings) in a school close to home. Others might be happiest if their children could in large cohort groups along with their teachers. And others might prefer to have first priority enrollment for an open spot (after siblings) in another school within the cluster, whether or not it is the one closest to home. I don’t think the District should make this decision or even try to guess what is best, but instead leave the choice up to the families.
So here is my proposal:
1) After the vote next Thursday, don’t provide families with an initial assignment for their students. Instead, provide families of any displaced students with the option to enroll in any school within the cluster and then run through the enrollment process giving those students first priority after siblings.
2) Then, notify those parents/families of where they were assigned.
3) Finally, allow any parents/families a chance to resubmit an application during the Open Enrollment period so that as they learn more about where their children’s friends and teachers are placed, they can change their mind about what might be the best placement for their children.
Three additional notes:
1) For ELL students or other students with special needs, details need to be provided about which schools offer the programs they need.
2) Because of the changes in the Cooper reference area, you might consider giving Cooper families first choice for any open spot in either the West Seattle North or West Seattle South clusters.
3) For Summit K-12 and AAA students, the priority for alternative school proposed last night could be added on to the cluster priority, in effect providing students for whom the alternative nature of the school is the most important priority at an alternative school, and students for whom location is more important priority within the cluster.