There was quite a different focus at this meeting than the Eckstein one I attended. And that focus was the high school boundaries.
So first, did you know that the Ballard area goes north almost to N 125th? I didn't but several Blue Ridge, Crown Hill and other far northwest parents assured me it did. (I should have asked, "When people ask you where you live, you really say Ballard?") I don't mean this in a snarky way, honestly, but it's just not what I always thought.
Many people did not like the format for the meeting (big surprise) although somehow, this meeting had a much longer Q&A at the end than did the Eckstein one.
Focus points from the reports out from groups:
- high school boundaries - number one with a bullet. People were incensed that QA/Magnolia got to keep together as a group and not Ballard kids. This was mentioned several times. [I had been surprised, when I saw the maps, that they didn't send QA in one direction (Franklin) and Magnolia in another (Ballard). Franklin was a big choice for QA in the early '90s when Ballard was (gasp!) a terrible choice. Franklin also has room. ] But I digress. This lead to the number two issue....
- splitting up neighborhoods. It was felt that there are mapping issues that split up neighborhoods. One woman in my group said that she felt it would be fairer to at least divide the kids up 50/50 (or close to it) so that it wasn't 25% in one direction and the other 75% in another, leaving the 25% feeling punished. People were very firm in their belief that it hurts schools to break up communities built in elementary/middle schools.
- grandfathering siblings, again an issue
- not enough option high schools. Parents from Salmon Bay felt their kids get pushed off in all directions. I did point out that there was Center School and Nova but they shrugged at that. Not sure if they meant they wanted a new one or not.
- Huge Metro concerns over the assignment of "upper" Ballard to Ingraham. And they have a case. There's one bus that takes kids from upper Ballard to BHS. All the kids in upper Ballard would have to take two buses - one stopping at Aurora to change - to get to Ingraham and it's a long ride. This is an issue of considering that our traffic moves better from north to south than west to east.
- Thorton Creek got a mention as to where they would go for middle school.
- Maple Leaf is now assigned to Green Lake instead of Olympic View. I hadn't noticed that and it is weird.
- Many parents said high schools should be open choice and that there shouldn't be assigned high schools. They seemed to get that kids need that choice.
- Equity issues should have been solved first (I almost laughed at that one because it makes sense in a perfect world but won't happen before the new SAP.)
- Someone liked the font the district used for the presentation.
- People said they bought a home in Ballard to be at Ballard. My reply to that is that buying a home based on getting into a school, for a view, etc. is dicey. Things change. I repeat, things change. It's life. It's not that I don't get buying into a neighborhood but to believe that it will remain the same forever is just not realistic (and fyi, Ballard has changed about 180 degrees from when I moved here - I wonder how old time Ballard folks feel?).
- Huge outcry over the announcement that the high school boundaries in particular are fluid at this point. Tracy did her best but people were not happy. They are all realizing that if the new maps don't come out until Nov. 3rd, then everyone - whatever your boundary beef is - has just 2 weeks to convince the Board of their point AND show a workable solution.
- those Ballard folks are feisty. They spoke out during questions, lots of applause (Don Kennedy didn't even try to tell people not to applaud as he did at Eckstein).
- I will say that I did hear one very unkind remark which was "Why don't QA/Magnolia parents fight for their own high school instead of taking ours?" Wow. Well, they did. They went all the way to the Supreme Court for somewhere to put their children. They have advocated for YEARS for a school and nothing. The district HAD to find somewhere for them to be. Is it the best solution? I can't say but no damning parents for something you want as well.
- I said this elsewhere but it bears repeating especially for parents of elementary students. They grow up. They get opinionated and they will want a choice of high school. And guess what? It may not be where all their friends go. (This idea that kids have to go to school with ALL the same people from K-12 is a mystery to me. Are you still best friends with someone from kindergarten?) They may want to go to a different high school than big brother or big sister. It happens. And then you may be kind of rueful over your fight to make sure they all stay together. Pick which is more important to you and fight for it - keeping sibs together all along the way OR the ability to get into a high school that has the programs that most appeal to your student. You can't have both in this SAP.
- Arrival info for every bus stop, not just a few timepoints.
- A telephone number you can call to quickly get real-time arrival info when you're waiting at your stop.
- An updated website that makes it easier to find arrival info when you're waiting at home.
- Enhanced mobile tools for iPhones, text-messaging and other mobile devices.