What is the District hoping to accomplish with this change?
Are they hoping to draw more students to the building or meet some unmet demand? I am troubled by the decision to move forward with the STEM program at Cleveland without an assessment for the demand for a STEM program at Cleveland. Who wants this? Who will enroll in this school? Will the enrollment be greater or less than the current enrollment (706)?
Are they hoping to improve the quality of education for the students at Cleveland? If there isn't any significant overlap between the students in the proposed STEM program and the students now enrolled at the school, then how does the introduction of this program help the current Cleveland students?
Are they trying to balance capacity management? I'm concerned about how the new student assignment plan will work in southeast Seattle if Cleveland is an option school. There are 1,812 high school students (Fall 2006 data) who live closer to Rainier Beach than any other high school. There are 1,105 students who live closer to Cleveland than any other high school. There's another 1,023 who live closest to Franklin and 1,640 who live closest to Garfield (all south of the Ship Canal). That's a total of 5,580 south-end high school students. Under the new Student Assignment Plan every one of them will get an initial assignment to an attendance area high school.
The functional capacity of the buildings are: Rainier Beach - 1,016; Cleveland - 928; Franklin - 1,447; and Garfield - 1,508. That's a total of 4,899. On top of that, there are about 200 north-end APP students who have seats at Garfield. So there are 4,699 seats available in attendance area south-end high schools. This means, of course, that the District will have to overbook South Seattle high schools by 881 seats and then hope that those south-end students will find a seat somewhere else, or the schools will have to exceed their functional capacity, or some combination of the two.
Of course, a number of these students will be enrolled at a Service school, such as South Lake, Middle College or Interagency. About 12% of our high school students are in Service schools such as these. Some of them - about 300 or so - will choose The Center School or NOVA, but there will not be any slack in the system. Let's remember that there won't be any space available at north-end high schools. Since we can reckon that Ballard and Roosevelt will be full, that will force the balance of north-end students into Ingraham and Hale. The north end students won't be able to get into Garfield (also full) so they will have to accept their Ingraham and Hale assignments, taking up all of the available space in those schools.
In the new Student Assignment Plan every student must get an initial assignment to an attendance area high school. But where will the District make those default assignments when Cleveland is an Option school? They will have to overbook Rainier Beach, Franklin, and Garfield by 1,809 students, an average of 600 students per school. What if these kids actually showed up? It simply would not be workable.
It can be done. The solution is easy. The District should re-open Lincoln as a comprehensive high school and place high school APP there. Lincoln could then be the high school for Queen Anne and Magnolia, so Ballard could be the high school for Ballard. It would also serve students in Wallingford, Fremont, and on both sides of the Montlake Cut. That would take some enrollment pressure off Roosevelt which would take pressure off Hale to become something that it doesn't want to be. By placing high school APP at Lincoln, the district would give the program a location that is easier to reach - right between I-5 and Highway 99 - from all parts of the city (have you ever tried to get to the CD from northwest Seattle?). It would also free up 400 seats at Garfield for south-end students. Finally, it would give the new high school instant drawing power for families in its attendance area.
None of these machinations would be necessary, of course, if the District first confirmed that there is sufficient demand for a STEM school at Cleveland before they moved forward with the idea. Are there 900 students who want to enroll at a STEM school at Cleveland?