Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

So we are finally here. We've hashed out the SAP, the Board has approved it and what's left is who goes where (at least on paper).

There are many issues to consider when we look at the maps. We may end up needing separate threads.

For example, one thing I will be looking for (and I hope is in the presentation) is an enrollment number attached to each school. I know that some schools will likely be slightly undersized to allow for growth. Know this so that you can help others understand how they came by the size of the school and therefore its boundaries. It's even trickier for high schools as they will have Open Choice seats that may have sliding percentages based on their freshman class size.

I do know that Board members have been thinking about walk distances and the most basic question is: what is a reasonable walk distance for elementary, middle and high schools? The transportation eligibility distances - 1 mile for elementary, 2 miles for middle and 2.5 miles for high school - are set by the State.

Naturally there are questions that inform that answer like:
  • Is the ability to walk with your child or have your child walk important to you? If so, is it more important at one level than another?
  • Do you walk your child to school? If not, would you walk your child to school if the
    distance was smaller?
  • Would you like to bike to school with your child or have your child bike?
  • If you walk or bike, how many city blocks would you estimate the trip to be?
  • Do you cross any arterials using crosswalks or lights?
  • What about being able walk to school for after-school or evening events when you might have more time to walk? Does that matter?
  • How do you get your student to school currently if the walk distance seems too far but you are too close for transportation?
Other thoughts about the walk zone? I think this is important because (1) save the planet, (2) growing obesity/lack of activity for many children, (3) transportation costs, and (4) the challenging geography of our city. Also, in answering the question, could you put what area of the city and/or what school you are referencing?

100 comments:

adhoc said...

The ability to have my child walk/bike/board to school is hugely important to me, but not more so than having him in a school that meets his needs.

Our oldest goes to Hale right now. The school meets his needs and it is across the street from our house. Proximity was a huge deciding factor in us choosing Hale. Last night was the football game and dance, and it was comforting for us to know that he was across the street from our home. With many friends from our neighborhood. Whose parents we know well.

Our youngest son didn't get into Eckstein, our neighborhood comprehensive middle school. He was assigned to Jane Addams. Jane Addams is one block away from our home, and despite how much we value neighborhood schools, we were not convinced that Addams could meet our sons needs. In addition we felt the school was unstable as we think the building is at risk of being re-purposed at any time. So we opted for a Shoreline school, the next closest thing to a public school close to home. It's not that far away, at about 2 miles, but to far for him to walk/bike/board at age 12. He should be able to bike/walk/board, as our older son did by next year or the year after.

For the record we sent our oldest son to Salmon Bay in Ballard for 6th grade. It was not a good experience for us to have a school so far away from our home. His commute was over an hour each way, and our involvement with the school was not strong. We frequently missed evening events at school because it was a 40 minute each way drive in evening traffic, with a 2nd grader in tow. Besides it being out of our neighborhood it was also an all city draw for middle school, so my son made friends all over the city from as far south as Seward Park, which made play dates difficult to say the least, and less frequent. I didn't like that experience at all. Neither did our son. We moved him to a school much closer to home the following year.

Proximity of a school is very high on my priority list, but not higher than having a school that will adequately meet my sons needs.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Adhoc said: "Proximity of a school is very high on my priority list, but not higher than having a school that will adequately meet my sons needs."

I totally agree. We were lucky to have Graham Hill's Montessori Program less than 2 blocks away from our home for elementary. Montessori was a perfect fit for my energetic, kinetic learner and I loved our 5-minute walk to and from school. I was very active in the PTA and participation at the school introduced our family to other neighborhood families who became close friends and remain so to this day even though our kids all went off to different middle, and now, high schools.

Despite that wonderful experience at our neighborhood elementary school, we could not have a similar experience for the remainder of my daughter's school career. As adhoc noted, the school must "adequately meet my [child's] needs."

Neither Aki Kurose nor RBHS would do that, so we were forced to look elsewhere. Regular readers of this blog know that we chose the private route for a variety of reasons and my child has blossomed and thrived.

However, the downside has been the same as Adhoc's "out of neighborhood" experience. Participation in evening school activities is not as easy, nor is the driving required for "play-dates" (Can I even call them that once the kids are middle-schoolers?). We did, at least, choose schools that did not require a trip on I-5 during rush-hour, so it hasn't been too bad, and certainly not any more difficult than families at all-city draws like TOPS, Salmon Bay and the AA Program have experienced...and I don't see those schools having a problem with enrollment.

SO, yes, a school close to home is ideal, but that school has to meet many more needs than an easy commute.

reader said...

Do you really think there's going to be a big storm? I think not. There might be some crying about high school boundaries, but everybody knows what could and probably will happen. Everybody knows that the 3 really popular high schools are going to have very tiny boundaries; that's already been cried hasn't it? And, since all the schools (or at least all the ones I know about) are packed to the gills, I think lots of people are going to be happy to go back to their own neighborhoods and be packed in closer to home. That's sort of a feature of having done the closures this year already.

ArchStanton said...

The ability to have my child walk/bike/board to school is hugely important to me, but not more so than having him in a school that meets his needs.

I'll echo that sentiment. The closest elementary to us is about five short blocks away. Before our oldest was K age, we were certain that we would walk there along with our neighborhood friends. After touring we felt that a different school that was about nine long blocks away would better meet her needs. The distance wasn't an issue, but terrain, and two major arterials meant that we drove most of the time. Still, it was close enough that we could easily be involved. Now she attends a school that meets her needs a few miles from home with no chance that we'll be walking or biking. As much as I would like to be closer to school, I wouldn't pull her out to be able to walk or bike.

Maybe it's too much to expect, but when they consider walk distances, I hope they consider things like terrain and arterials. There are lots of areas that, although they may be close to a school as the crow flies, you'd be hard pressed to find a safe direct route or terrain that you'd be willing to let a child bike alone or pull a trailer-bike on.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I do think there will be a squall at least. I think the middle school boundaries might be surprising. I think also that people who are near a foreign language immersion school might be wondering if it will be their attendance area school.

It would be great if there were just a few issues here and there. But I don't think a yawn is going to be the general reaction.

Sahila said...

I find it hard not to grin when people here talk about walking distances and issues such as terrain getting in the way of walking/biking to school...

I grew up in New Zealand, in Dunedin, which reportedly has the world's steepest street:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_Street,_Dunedin

now, I had to walk up and down a street called Ascog Street (not far behind Baldwin St in incline), (public) bus for 40 minutes, and then up and down either Stuart Street or Rattray Street (again very steep streets and also major aterials) in the city centre to get to school, twice a day, 200+ days a year, rain, hail, snow or shine...

And I did this, unaccompanied by adults and in charge of my younger sister, from the age of 7...

I think we're spoiled and we mollycoddle our children in the 21st Century...

Charlie Mas said...

There will be a few storms which we can already predict.

Ballard High School's attendance area will include Queen Anne and Magnolia and therefore will have a northern border too far south for a lot of people. Ballard's attendance area could include all of Ballard if the District re-opened Lincoln High School, but that would make Ingraham's attendance area - and subsequent enrollment - too small to make good use of the facility. The District could pretend that is intentional to allow greater access to the IB program there, but I doubt they care enough to bother. They are much more likely to tell folks in the north end of Ballard to get over it.

No matter how the District draws the Roosevelt High School attendance area, people are going to whine. The southern border will be the Ship Canal and it will have to extend to Laurelhurst in the East, so it cannot go very far north at all. Again, re-opening Lincoln would go a long way to improve access to Roosevelt, but I just don't see that happening. Instead, a lot of people living just northeast of Roosevelt will find themselves in the Hale attendance area and those just northwest of the school will be in the Ingraham zone. They aren't going to like it, but the District will claim they have no choice.

Check to see how many students live in the new Rainier Beach High School attendance area. My guess is that it will be close to 2,000 and it will include a lot of the space around Cleveland High School. Their concerns about mixing gangs is apparently over. They will put this many kids in the area because they fully about 250 of them to be at Service Schools, about 125 of them to choose an Option School, and about 600 of them to choose some other attendance area school. The attendance area will have to be this big for two reasons: One, there is so much ground to cover with Cleveland becoming an Option School. Two, given the expectation that half of the students in the attendance area will choose another school, they need to put this many kids in the attendance area to boost the enrollment.

At the middle school level the interesting questions will be where the District draws the lines between Washington and Mercer, between Madison and Denny, and between McClure and Whitman.

Continued...

Charlie Mas said...

...continued
The most likely source of complaints, however, will come with Eckstein. Since the attendance area for Eckstein will have to extend to the northern and eastern boundary of the district, it cannot extend very far south. A lot of folks living close to the school, but south of it, will find themselves in the Hamilton attendance area. There's no way out of this. Perhaps the newly renovated building and the presence of APP at Hamilton (and the music program they brought with them) will make it more acceptable. Also, Hamilton will be shedding about 275 students from the southeast. No other school will experience as radical a change in demographics as Hamilton.

Because the JSIS is filled with the students living within seven blocks of it, it doesn't cover enough territory. The District is re-opening McDonald to take up the slack. It would be great if they placed north-end APP there, but they won't. The attendance area for Beacon Hill, and the language immersion program there could also be contentious. These really should be Option Schools. The District will be re-opening Sand Point to help meet the demand in the Northeast Cluster, but I'm not sure when McDonald and Sand Point will really be ready to accept students. The District claims that it takes three years to make the school buildings ready. Can they lease space anywhere?

I don't really expect much contention over the drawing of the elementary lines. I suspect that folks who want one of the schools in their area will be satisfied with another school in their area. Are there folks who are going to get really hot about whether they get Wedgwood or View Ridge? Lafayette or Schmitz Park? There may be some spots where the school on one side of a border is markedly better than the school on the other side of the border, but there won't be many and District isn't likely to respond to complaints about it.

No matter how hard the storms blow on any of these, I don't think the District will budge.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

In the southend, the attendance area for Graham Hill could cause some contention—especially since it appears that sibling preference wlll not be available for the Montessori Program.

Right now GH draws from a wide area that reaches north to Genessee and as far south as Pritchard Beach (it has gone close to Skyway in the past, and may still).

One reason Graham draws so far and wide is because a number of the families living within walking distance are members of the Orthodox Jewish community and choose religious schooling for their children. Another is, of course, the Montessori Program. I will be curious how this all plays out.

ArchStanton said...

And I did this, unaccompanied by adults and in charge of my younger sister, from the age of 7...

Uphill, in the snow, both ways, barefoot, no doubt. I did this, too as a latch-key kid from a single-parent family in the projects. I also took care of my sister and prepared dinner when we were left alone in the house at an early age. I also took public transportation all over Seattle by myself for entertainment in elementary school (and was propositioned by perverts on two occasions). People do what they need to to get by. Even if it builds character, it isn't necessarily all good, healthy, or wise.

I think we're spoiled and we mollycoddle our children in the 21st Century...

Sure we do/are. We put them in protective car seats instead of letting them ride around loose in the back of a station wagon. We have child labor laws to ensure they have a chance at an education instead of immediately becoming productive members of society. I mean, come on - surely there's a middle ground here.

Are you suggesting that I should be willing to trailer bike my seven year old (and out of necessity, my 1 year old) 5.5 miles to and from school along major arterials, in bad weather, and short daylight hours?

I used to ride my bicycle everywhere about ten years ago, but the traffic density has increased so much that I feel much less safe today. Perhaps Dunedin has not seen quite the same increase in traffic.

Sorry if this comes off snarky, but I knew after a few posts on walk zones, someone would start making points about laziness, pampered kids, and obesity.

Maureen said...

Having been associated with an alternative school with a five cluster draw for the past 11 years, I have never really understood the claim that people are more involved/volunteer more at schools when they live close to them. I have seen virtually no correlation between how close people live to our school and how much they volunteer. I suppose it's different for schools where the only reason you go there is because it is close by.

It would make my life much easier if we could walk to school, but I would never choose a school just because we could walk there. In reality, I think there are not that many schools in Seattle that most K-5 kids could walk to safely on their own (and I'm actually a real Fre Range Mom.)

Is this thread only about the transportation aspects of the new SAP? Charlie has introduced a laundry list of topics (Inside info? Informed speculation? Crystal ball?!) that deserve comment.

dj said...

I echo adhoc and SolvayGirl -- I'd rather have a neighborhood school than not, but I'd rather have my kid in a school that meets his or her need than a school that we can walk to. And given the wild variations in quality/programming in schools south of the shipping canal, that's a real tradeoff for many families.

I won't fight the fact that any line-drawing obviously zones my house for Madrona. But I certainly will fight actually sending my kids there unless the district commits to changing the program.

Sahila said...

actually, it was downhill from our house and uphill to school, and downhill from school and uphill to our house... with the 40 minute bus ride in the middle...

Going to school in winter it was dark in the morning, and dusk was falling in the afternoon at 3.30-4.00pm...

And I was fortunate enough to have shoes...

And I do remember being let out of school early one afternoon (I was about 10) because a snow storm was sweeping up the South Island, getting off the (public) bus (which ran only every hour) and running along the road and up our hill, being overtaken by it - blizzard conditions... quite exciting really!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen, tell me the topics about the SAP and I'll open a thread.

dj said...

I wanted to add, were one of my kids to attend Madrona, I'd walk them there; we live across 34th from the school, and 34th is a busy street with fast cars that particularly in the morning do not slow down at the crosswalks as required. Garfield, which is 11 blocks from my house (a little under a mile), I expect that my kids will walk to and from during daylight hours alone, although like many people I'm keeping a careful eye on the rather unfortunate crime situation at 23rd and Cherry, and based on that crime situation, would never let them walk to or from Garfield if it were dark out. I'd also buy a bus pass, because I assume we wouldn't get one (due to distance) and the 3 is incredibly convenient for us (the stop is on our block and the bus has a Garfield stop).

Maureen said...

Melissa Not all of these are in Charlie's post, but here are some I think we will need threads for: High School boundaries and open seats (or do we need separate posts for each HS?); K-5 to MS feeder patterns (maybe a separate thread for the NE, especially if they redesignate Addams as a MS?); Option School Access (how they are distibuted wrt MS attendance areas, transportation, geographic zones); Immersion and Montessori Schools(balance between immersion and gen ed seats given neighborhood seats required and with note to how sibling preference will work); Transition policies (re sibling preference, transportation, reopening or redesignating buildings)... What else?

Shannon said...

I think that there will be upset. Currently, many many parents are unaware of the impending changes in the plan. Honestly, they are!

I think that's because the decisions to this point feel like process which is something which many people tune out of.

Once there are definite lines between neighborhoods and schools I believe the grapevine will carry this information to people who have not cared yet.

Last weekend I met a mother of an incoming K kids for the 2010-11 school year. She lives near JSIS but not very near. They have neighbors who went there and since the mother is Japanese speaking, assume their child will go there.

When I explained that she will soon know what their default school will be, she was startled.

I think there are many in that situation.

Also, the issue of South End equity should surely emerge with greater voice?

Regarding walk zones... we are

Michael Rice said...

Hello

SolvayGirl1972 writes:

Neither Aki Kurose nor RBHS would do that, so we were forced to look elsewhere. Regular readers of this blog know that we chose the private route for a variety of reasons and my child has blossomed and thrived.

I know you chose what was best for your child. However, I have to ask. What you were looking for in a high school and when did you take a tour of RBHS?

If you are looking for academic rigor and a strong fine arts program, we are the place for your child. It is impossible for a school to be all things for all students, but I just encourage all southeast families to come take and tour and see for yourself.

jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SPS mom said...

Could you start a thread on the MAP testing?

Questions that come to mind:

Will the results be used to evaluate teacher performance? How much testing is too much testing? How much class time (and library time, depending on where the testing is set up) is now lost due to the three times a year testing? Will students have testing fatigue before they even get to the WASL (or whatever it's named)? How does the testing benefit advanced learners? If a student tests 3-4 grade levels above the norm will there be differentiation in that direction?

And also - how long will MAP testing continue in this District? It is currently being funded by a Gates Foundation Grant and overseen by Broad folks.

just-a-mom said...

If you are looking for academic rigor and a strong fine arts program, we are the place for your child.

Some of us know recent Rainier Beach grads and don't need to take a tour to know that it's not the right place for our children. How many of your students have attended 4 year universities outside of Washington State? How many attend the UW in an Honors program? What are the average SAT scores or GPA even?

A school is about the culture, and I've been around, through, and in RB to know it's not a culture of academic excellence.

Let's consider afterschool activities. Do you have competitive academic extra-curricular program? A note-worthy speech team, math league, or science club? Do your students travel across the country for choir or band?

Having a host of AP classes does not a strong academic program make. Where are the Honors classes before AP to have these children succeed?

Even your own principal admits that you aren't there yet. (I've heard him say this several times.) Why don't you? Furthermore, I've heard other staff members at RBHS resent the new AP classes because it takes away from providing remedial services to existing students. I know that Betty Patu falls in this camp.

I'm more than miffed that Cleveland is an option program, as this will force everyone to RBHS.

Unacceptable. Completely.

Charlie Mas said...

Maureen, no crystal ball, just informed speculation.

When thinking of how the attendance areas will be drawn for middle schools consider the fact that Eckstein is the only possible choice for students living in the northeast corner of the district. Starting there, move the boundary line south and west until the school is full. You won't get much further south than the school itself - and that's without ranging too far west.

As for Ballard High School, it is the only possible choice for Queen Anne and Magnolia - they aren't going to Garfield. So starting at Denny and Fairview, go west all the way to the water and then north until the school is full. You'll get north of the school, but not much further - certainly not as far as folks in the northern part of Ballard would like.

For Rainier Beach you have to start in the southeast corner of the district, go east to the Duwamish, and then north. You'll encompass enough students to fill the school rather quickly, but you'll see that the area will have to be much bigger than that.

If Garfield's attendance area starts at the Ship Canal and goes south, staying on the east side of Lake Union down to Denny and Fairview and then going to the water, it will fill up just a bit south of the school. Franklin needs to take over there.

Franklin's attendance area will go south from the Garfield line. The school will fill up before you get very far south of its building, and then all of the rest of the territory south of that point will be in the Rainier Beach attendance area. The District can't make the attendance areas for Garfield or Franklin any bigger because the vast majority of people in those areas will likely accept those assignments. There isn't space for them all at the schools. The District can oversize Rainier Beach's attendance area, however, because about half of the students won't accept the assignment.

The data on how many students live where for the past couple years is available on the District web site. The count of how many are at their nearest school, at service schools and at option schools is there also.

There is absolutely no evidence of any demand whatsoever for a S.T.E.M. program at Cleveland (or anywhere else for that matter). The District made no effort to collect any such data and none is self-evident. While there is interest in math education, it is not for the brand of math education that Seattle Public Schools provides.

Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence to indicate that Seattle Public Schools can create a S.T.E.M. program at Cleveland (or anywhere else for that matter). The District has never done this successfully and has made a number of abortive attempts at creating similar programs at Cleveland already. Barring a very strong and effective marketing campaign (not to mention a totally unprecedented one), Cleveland is going to see its enrollment drop.

Both creating the program and enrolling in it represent a leap of faith that defies understanding. I don't really see Cleveland's S.T.E.M. program attracting big numbers. I could be wrong. I'm often wrong. In this case I actually hope that I am wrong. But, as my father used to tell me, the race does not always go to the swift nor the contest to the strong... but that's the way to bet. I'll go for the higher probability shot here and reckon that Cleveland will draw a whopping 100 students or less to the new S.T.E.M. class of 2014.

The folks who live near Cleveland and choose it now are probably choosing it as a sort of default. When the District sends them a piece of paper telling them that their default choice is Rainier Beach, I think they will stick with the default.

nacmom said...

There will be upset. I agree with Shannon. Many, many parents really are not clued in. Many are just starting to be. The issue of siblings is about to be a big deal as many families will wake up and realize they gty the thought they had, they do not and they've just been drawn out of their school(s).

Also agree middle and high school boundaries will be contentious. None of us will be surprised b/c we've been following/speculating for over a year. When it's all brand new, different than what you thought and siblings no longer gtd, people will be mighty unhappy.

Charlie Mas, are Sand point and mcdonald certain to re-open?

Shannon said...

Anyone else been invited to be a "Family Connector" during the SAP consultation process?

From an email from Lowell Link, an excerpt from our Principal. Family Connectors are being offered training on Monday night.

"...The primary duty of a Family Connector is to be a liaison between the Family Engagement Team, and families in the school community so that staff can understand how engagement is going and work to support more families being involved. We are committed to providing volunteers with the information and support that they need for the role of Family Connector....."

I would be interested in the way this role works and hope it provides for feedback from those not attending meetings. The pulse of the community, so to speak.

Shannon said...

I would also be interested in hearing how MAP testing has been going. My son (3rd Grade) did it last week and said it was "fun" but he was a bit freaked out when the questions became too hard and got worried he was not clever enough.

I wonder whether the teachers are going to use the data in parent conferencing next month?

Stu said...

I think we're spoiled and we mollycoddle our children in the 21st Century...

Sahila,

I don't know how old you are but, unfortunately, times have changed. Look over the boards; look at the concerns about criminal activity at intersections; look at the wish for security cameras in schools; read the papers about the rash of street assaults in the city . . . add to it the national concern over abductions and the fact the traffic has increased exponentially over the years -- and, once the rain comes, the roads are slick -- and we would not let our son walk to elementary school alone.

Oh wait . . . middle schools and high schools start so early it's dark and, should he stay for an after-school activity, it's still dark!

These are not safe times and our children are not experiments. If you want people to choose neighborhood schools within walking distance, give them really good programs within walking distance.

stu

Josh Hayes said...

Charlie sez:

When thinking of how the attendance areas will be drawn for middle schools consider the fact that Eckstein is the only possible choice for students living in the northeast corner of the district. Starting there, move the boundary line south and west until the school is full. You won't get much further south than the school itself - and that's without ranging too far west.

Well, ahem, aren't you forgetting both Jane Addams (which encompasses middle school kids) and AS1 (which, for the moment, is also a K-8 school)?

I realize that you may mean that Eckstein is the only choice for families who desire a comprehensive middle school. But SPS would like Addams to be taken seriously, and while they probably want AS1 to just go the heck away, let's not enable that, shall we?

Still and all: you're right in the long run. AFAIK, there are only three middle schools north of the cut (Eckstein, Hamilton, and Whitman), and I bet the expected numbers of MS kids way oustrip the capacity of those buildings.

Sahila said...

Stu - I'm 51... raised 3 kids in New Zealand and Australia (they're now 29, 27 and 22) and now have this youngster who's aged 6...

My kids were sometimes driven (when we way lived out in the burbs/boonies and there was no bus service), sometimes took public transport by themselves (in the city - they were 5, 9 and 11, and then again as teenagers) and sometimes walked (on three separate occasions in three different countries when (high) school was between half a mile and two miles away...)

I think its good to give kids these experiences... gives them street smarts and the confidence to look after themselves... you've got to let kids out of the cocoon sometime, and I think its better to start them gradually as young as possible. I have friends in Europe who have taught their kids to ride the metro by themselves, from about the age of 10/11... these kids are mature, independent, sensible, confident, not afraid of trying new things and encountering new situations, are not afraid of people, are go-getters - if they want to do something, they find a way to do it and are not always counting on parents to make it happen - very healthy, in my opinion...

The Dutch version of a school bus:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/simeon_barkas/2926176767/in/set-72157607444870494/...

kellie said...

Josh,

While you are correct in that Jane Addams and AS1 are options for middle school, just like Salmon Bay and Broadview Thompson are also options, the new SAP "guarantees" every child a seat at a "comprehensive middle school." It is not guaranteed for any middle school seat but rather a comprehensive seat. So therefore the lines are going to be drawn around the comprehensive schools.

The district does need families to select these middle school options in order for everyone to fit comfy cozy around here, because there is simply not enough space. However, these "option schools." are options that must be elected and will not be "assigned."

So therefore I agree with Charlie's assessment that the Eckstein boundary is going to be much smaller than folks think. Also MGJ said at her coffee hours last week that she did not believe that the demographics demonstrated the need for a 4th comprehensive middle school north of the ship canal. With that information it means that the entire area north of the ship canal must be divided up between the three schools. Those boundaries will be surprising to anyone that hasn't been following this closely.

MGJ also also said that every geographic zone will have a K8 option. How that is going to work, I have no idea as the K8s are not spread very geographically.

adhoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
adhoc said...

Wow, MGJ actually says that there is enough MS capacity in the 3 comprehensive middle schools north of the ship canal to accommodate all kids that live north of the ship canal? That blows my mind.

This year, without the new SAP, all 3 comprehensive middle schools were full with a waitlist. Even the 4 option schools (AS1, Jane Addams, Salmon Bay, and Broadview Thompson) could not relieve enough pressure from the comprehensives. Whitman which generally never gets a waitlist had a waitlist this year, and was unable to move it. Hamilton had their highest waitlist ever at almost 80 kids, and Eckstein had a 160 kid waitlist. Whitman and Eckstein didn't move their waitlist at all and Hamilton only moved a couple of kids. North Seattle families who did not do on time enrollment, or who were new to the district were being offered space at Aki Kurose in South Seattle.

And my guess is the "guaranteed" assignment will bring even more North Seattle families back to SPS. That is the families who live in Lake City, Cedar Park, Olympic Hills, Northgate, and Meadowbrook who really have no middle school. Currently the overwhelming majority of these families choose private schools, Shoreline schools, or option schools because they didn't want to bus their kids an hour each way to Hamilton or drive their kids to Whitman. If Charlies predictions are right, all of these far north neighborhoods will now have access to Eckstein. And most of them will choose to go there (I know if I had access to Eckstein, neither of my kids would have went to Shoreline). What is the district going to do when this happens? Has MGJ thought about any of this?

For the south part of the N and NE clusters there may be a small amount of wiggle room at Hamilton since south end kids will surely get pushed out next year. But there were far fewer south end kids assigned to Hamilton this year because APP north moved in and took up most of the excess space in the building. So the wiggle room won't be much.

It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out over the next couple of years.......

10/4/09 7:23 AM

LynneC said...

What Charlie's saying about the NE middle school and high school boundaries rings true to me, but I'm wondering how those boundaries will work with the concept of feeder schools. Does Hamilton become a feeder school for Roosevelt for families living in Laurelhurst? Or does the feeder school concept just involve elementary schools feeding into middle schools?

Carolyn said...

So far our daughter (in 1st) biked in all but 5 days out of the school year. She wants fenders and rain gear for when the rains begin (and knowing her, she'll keep biking).

We are 1/2 block outside of the walk zone for the elementary she attends, and are inside the walk zones of 2 other schools. We also have a child entering K next fall.

Since the plan came out and sibling preference has been demoted, I've been thinking - maybe I should have chosen our (current) reference school, to ensure that out kids would be at the same school. But I would have had to have been a mind reader to do that. I doubt we'll get drawn into our current school, but I can't predict how it will work out for the other 2 schools.

My questions:
1) what does it mean to have a transition plan? The SAP can't be implemented until they have a transition plan. What is the timeline for approval of a transition plan? Will parents have an opportunity to provide feedback on this plan? Or did the board put a transition plan in place to ease concerns, only to reveal that the plan is "we're implementing the SAP"?

2) How will siblings be handled, and over time, how will siblings be handled when boundaries change? There is no way that we could have anticipated the SAP and acted in a way to ensure that both our kids are at the same school. I think sibs need to be grandfathered for a period of time. But the board essentially says "can't put 2 butts in one seat, suggest a solution." Well, as proposed the sib assignment is lottery. How about allocating based on the grade of the youngest sib - which would provide the max overlap? Or how about letting all sibs in with a solution for over-enrollment in place. The "sibs problem" would give the schools a way to see how their over-enrollment solution works out. Anyone else have a better solution to the sibs problem? The coordinated bell times makes this all the worse. I occasionally travel for work. It's unlikely that one parent will be able to get both kids to school on time. Note that even if we wanted to, there is no guarantee that we could move both children to our new assignment school. We could ask that they be moved together, but there is no telling where we would go if we asked for that, though it would be a school with room in 2nd grade classes, and not likely to be one we would choose.

3) How will the district handle over-enrollment? The past SAP let the district shift students to fill schools. No more. The number of incoming students will be too big some years because of errors in projection (esp these first few years), classes that are big by chance (baby booms), and families moving near a school (precursor to boundary changes). How can a plan be rolled out without a plan to handle over-enrollment?

4) How does NCLB factor into this? Will students at NCLB failing schools be assigned to another school that is not over-enrolled? or will over-enrolled schools also need to plan to absorb additional students?

Carolyn said...

LynneC - The feeder plan is only for elementary to middle school.

Anyone know the format of the meeting this Tuesday? It's a board "work shop".

Stu said...

I have friends in Europe who have taught their kids to ride the metro by themselves, from about the age of 10/11.

We can sometimes be a bit overprotective of our son, I know, but there's no way I would let our 10-year-old ride the metro on his own, there's no way I would allow him to walk 1.5 miles across major arterials on his own, and there's especially no way I would allow him to do these things in the dark.

There have been times when I've felt uncomfortable on the buses in Seattle, and there are times I've almost been hit by cars, even while crossing at the light.

I think our son is incredibly responsible and, perhaps, he won't be as "street smart" as others around him . . . oh well.

stu

Josh Hayes said...

I hear ya, Stu. I checked using Google maps and was surprised to find that from my house to AS1 is not "a little over a mile", as I thought, but rather 1.9 miles. And that's on Northgate -- no way I let my kids walk that way, nor, of course, bike that way. There's a pretty good, safe bike route that'd be only a bit over 2 miles, though, and I'd let my kids do that if they go together. Fortunately, we have yellow-bus transport and a very short trip (about ten minutes each way, since we're LIFO both directions).

But again, that's an option school, so it's apples and oranges compared to assignment schools.

Charlie Mas said...

Feeder schools are only between elementary schools and middle schools. The middle school attendance area boundaries will run along the lines of elementary school attendance area boundaries.

There isn't a feeder pattern to high schools, so the high school attendance area boundaries will not necessarily mimic the middle school boundaries or even necessarily run along elementary school boundary lines.

Yes, there are other middle school options in the northeast, namely Jane Addams and AS#1. When the District reckons the size of the Eckstein attendance area they will adjust for the expected number of people choosing those schools as well as students in APP, service schools, private schools, and out of district schools. They will base their estimates largely on historical rates. Unfortunately, there are no historical rates for Jane Addams (although there are for other K-8s) and they may be very wrong in their expectations for private and out-of-district choices because the guaranteed access to Eckstein is sure to have a big impact on these numbers.

Remember that they promise a seat in the attendance area school for every child that wants it. Eckstein is big, but it will be full before the border gets ten blocks south of the building.

Hey, this could be good. If they expect more than actually show up and they draw the attendance area too small, then there will be lots of room at Eckstein for families drawn out of the area who want to choose it.

On the whole, however, I think that they are doing their best work here as Hamilton may appear to be the most improved school in the District thanks to a big switch in the demographics, the addition of APP, a re-invigorated Spectrum program, a new music program, a new principal, and a new building. Now if they would only do a makeover like that at Aki Kurose or Rainier Beach!

The Transition Plan is a political hot potato. The Board is throwing it to the Superintendent saying that they wrote the Policy but implementing it, including the transition plan, is the Superintendent's job. The Superintendent, at the coffee time at Hamilton, tried to toss it back to the Board. It won't work.

First, she doesn't really want the Board to participate in the decisions, she just wants them to share the blame. I think that her political instincts and skills are better than theirs and she's going to go straight to full implementation and successfully blame all of the resulting suffering on them. That means no sibling preference at all. Forget it - I think it's gone. For the next four or five years there will be a lot of families with students at different elementary schools.

NCLB may not be the complicating factor that people think it is. The law gives the District a loophole for schools that are full. But, for schools that are not full, you can consider the REAL tie-breakers for available space to be: NCLB, siblings, lottery.

This whole thing will, of course, bring unprecedented transparency to the whole question of school capacity and enrollment. We will know, with perfect confidence, how many seats are available in each grade in each school. We will know, with perfect clarity, how many seats are saved for students who might join the school mid-year. For data junkies like me, this is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Shannon said...

"We will know, with perfect confidence, how many seats are available in each grade in each school. We will know, with perfect clarity, how many seats are saved for students who might join the school mid-year."

Charlie,
I'm interested in how this differs from what occurs now. Do we not know how many seats are available because kids shift around with choice?
Also, Where will we get the data on the number of kids coming into each K-grade and seats saved?

Just curious.

Shannon

Melissa Westbrook said...

I concur with Charlie on most everything he said. I think that Eckstein will start north and stop when it's full. People might be surprised (and don't you be surprised to hear the word "lawsuit" get thrown around). Charlie also said re the super,

"First, she doesn't really want the Board to participate in the decisions, she just wants them to share the blame."

Absolutely. She's a clever person and I think you can go back to her record in Charleston and read between the lines. She is very careful about covering herself.

I do disagree, though, on the sibling transition. I think too many Directors have heard an earful about it. What I think will happen is that there will be a 2-3 year transition period for siblings. They will throw this bone to families but absolutely will not guarantee every sibling of each student currently enrolled. Not if they really want to see this plan work sooner.

I think a 2-3 year transition is fair.

Look, we are changing something that has been only tweaked in the last 10+ years. It is possibly the most major item that affects parents and students throughout the district. There will be pain, there will be adjustments but I think it will work. Let's realize that we are retaining some choice and that transportation costs are killing us. Let's be fair to people who have a difficult job to do.

That doesn't mean don't do due diligence and lobby the Board as hard as you or your neighborhood want. It's kind of like school closures in that for the SAP some people will want the lines drawn one block extra to include their street and then be happy (like "don't put my school on the closure list and you're happy").

adhoc said...

NCLB may not be the complicating factor that people think it is. The law gives the District a loophole for schools that are full. But, for schools that are not full, you can consider the REAL tie-breakers for available space to be: NCLB, siblings, lottery."

Yes, this is true, but if you look at the NCLB "passing schools", you will find that they are almost all schools in affluent neighborhoods, or alt schools, and those schools are mainly full. So if the district has a loophole so they don't have to transfer NCLB students to a "full" school and the schools that do have space are not "passing" schools then where will they place the NCLB kids? I think this may be an issue with the new SAP.

Unless of course they draw the boundaries at the "full" schools purposefully small enough to accommodate for NCLB transfers.

Maureen said...

Also MGJ said at her coffee hours last week that she did not believe that the demographics demonstrated the need for a 4th comprehensive middle school north of the ship canal

I think they are including McCLure with the north end MSs. At one of the Board sessions I was at last spring, a bunch of West Woodland families showed up to ask not to be sent to McClure for MS. I don't know where they got that idea, but if the QA/Mag kids are going to be sent to Ballard, it only makes sense that McClure be included in the north end calculation. The comprehensive MSs are about the same size as the comprehensive HSs. There are four HSs in the N/NE/NW/QA/Mag and four comprehensive MSs in the same area. (Addams really should be a comprehensive MS, just look at the maps--you can see the hole. Of course, by the same token, there should be a comprehensive HS in the middle of QA!)

LynneC said...

I don't know about a lawsuit, but I think Melissa is right about the potential reaction to new Eckstein boundaries. There are going to be a lot of unhappy folks in the areas south of the school that have traditionally sent their kids to Eckstein.

Rose M said...

One question coming out of the Bryant community regards access to adv math at Hamilton. Many Bryant kids have taken Int 1 & 2, a few each year have taken Int 3 at Eckstein based on placement tests.

At Hamilton those classes, now algebra 1, geometry & algebra 2 are for Spectrum & APP students in self contained programs. My understanding, solely from reading this blog, is that it is part of the definition of those programs that those classes not serve kids who are not in the programs, no matter what their math skills may be.

So Bryant kids would not be able to test into those classes. Is that true?

adhoc said...

Maureen, if you include Mcclure you are right there are 4 middle schools and 4 high schools serving north Seattle. However, there are many more HS seats than there are MS seats

Middle school
646 functional capacity Mcclure
1205 functional capacity Ecktsein
970 functional capacity Hamilton
967 functional capacity Whitman

3788 total middle school seats

High school
1274 functional capacity Ingraham
1550 functional capacity Ballard
1229 functional capacity Hale
1606 functional capacity Roosevelt

5659 total high school seats

So there are 1871 less comprehensive middle school seats than there are comprehensive high school seats in North Seattle.

adhoc said...

Rose M, I asked that very question at the Hamilton tour this year and was told by the principal that Spectrum and reg ed students would be mixed up for math. According to the principal all kids whether regular or Spectrum would be placed in the appropriate level math class for their ability.

Not sure about APP??

adhoc said...

"So there are 1871 less comprehensive middle school seats than there are comprehensive high school seats in North Seattle."

To continue on this....

All of the middle schools and all of the high schools north of the ship canal are full so where are the 1871 kids (the difference in number of high school and middle school seats) currently attending middle school? Are they all going to option schools, out of district, or private? Will many of them now come back to SPS for middle school with the new SAP?

And lets think about how the schools themselves might change?

Eckstein will no longer draw from the affluent neighborhoods of Laurelhurst, Ravenna, View Ridge, Bryant, U district. It will now likely draw from the lower middle class neighborhoods of Lake City, Olympic Hills, Cedar Park, Northgate, and Meadowbrook. With the shift in demographics the school will surely change. FRE rates will go up, test scores will go down. If the demand is not there the advanced math, and Spectrum might dwindle away. Will Eckstein remain a desirable school?

And how about Mcclure? Right now McClure draws heavily from the S/SE clusters. If the the new assignment plan boundaries become QA, Magnolia, Ballard, Sunset Hill, West Woodland, what will happen to the demographics there? FRE rates will drop significantly, test scores will go up. Parents may demand more advanced math, and honors classes, Spectrum will grow. And voila McClure may become the next north end desirable school?

It really will be very interesting to see how this all plays out after a few years.

Sahila said...

It makes me sick to the stomach to read some people idly speculating about schools becoming or losing their status as "desirable" schools because of the FRL ratios with 'changing demographics'...

Do you have any idea how offensive, how WASP-privileged, how 'entitled', how disrespectful to children and the people who work with them, these comments sound?

And the worst thing of all, is that the people idly speculating thus probably have no idea what I'm talking about and I cant fault them them for their ignorance and lack of awareness... sickening....

Melissa Westbrook said...

Adhoc, if you think U district is an affluent neighborhood, I think you might want to check again. Relative to some other neighborhoods, it is better off but it is not affluent. Ravenna is also middle-classed but again, I wouldn't call it affluent.

Rose M, there is no Spectrum math in middle school. Anyone can take a math placement test and get into a higher level math class. I checked the Advanced Learning site as well as a couple of middle school sites and did not find one lick of info on this. But unless something has drastically changed, anyone can take a math placement test in middle school.

Central Mom said...

Melissa...back to your original Q about what is a reasonable walk distance. Probably there should be clarification now between walk distances and walk zones. The liability folks in the district and city (this is a multi-departmental entity) who create those walk zones are not in all (many?) cases going to square up with a walk distance.

We'll see on Tuesday whether they tried to use walk zones to inform borders for elementary school draws. But certainly there will be cases when a walk zone will be smaller than a standard 1 mile or whatever walk distance, and kids going to a school will still merit bus transportation despite living relatively near by.

I know this in part because someone on the walk zone committee told me they were receiving a lot of pressure from a number of different directions to revisit walkzones...and one of those pressures is saving transportation dollars...but that the number one issue for the official walkzones will remain safety (and implied...liability), as determined by the committee.

emeraldkity said...

median income in Seattle is $52,000 while that isn't as high as household income in the region or the county- it is still higher than national median.

While I am just as offended as Sahila about the perception that upper income students need academic challenges that lower income students do not, I also would argue that if you can afford to live in Seattle- you are closer to middle class than many people ever get and students in Lake City et.al. are just as likely to make use of decent math classes as those in Hawthorne Hills.

My kids have aged out of the district, but for what it is worth neither has ever walked or biked to school- they have taken city buses and car pooled.
While I don't have a problem with kids walking to school- I am concerned about weight of backpacks- which is a lot- I also have scoliosis which I suspect was exacerbated by my carrying heavy books for a mile or two back and forth from school every day for years- would rather children don't have to deal with that.
While being close to the building, does allow children to participate in after school activities, that being without transportation, limits- I also know that many areas aren't that safe- either because of lighting- or other issues and parents will register their kids for schools just so they will be able to ride a bus.

adhoc said...

Sahila you are becoming more and more abusive every day on this blog.

I rarely agree with your opinions and though I will on occasion challenge what you say, I refrain from insulting you and calling you names. You on the other hand are nasty, and need to continually lash out at people who do not see eye to eye with you.

All I can say is it's no wonder you have been banned from online communications, and run out of, one of the most accepting, inclusive schools, in our district - AS1.

My dearest condolences to the Room 9 school in Shoreline.

GreyWatch said...

adhoc - where did you find the the functional capacity #'s? I ask for several reasons:

1. I think McClure's would be higher. During the MS tour last year, the principal, when asked a similar question, stated the school could physically handle more students, but she wanted to keep the school smaller if possible.

2. I'm curious about how the seat #'s compare to the southend.

3. How many seats exist in k-8's? I know salmon bay supposedly takes 80 new 6th graders each year, presumably with no to little turnover from the 40 in-house 5th graders, for a class size of 120. Curious as to how the seats per grade at 6-8 compare with Orca, Madrona, Broadview-Thompson, etc.

Stu said...

Do you have any idea how offensive, how WASP-privileged, how 'entitled', how disrespectful to children and the people who work with them, these comments sound?

White Anglo-Saxon Protestant?

No one brought race or religion into this context. This is about income levels. In general, are families from Laurelhurst able to donate more money than families in Lake City? Yes. Are families in Wedgewood able to give more than those in Northgate? On average, yes. Cut out one, add another, the dynamics change.

Until the district funds all school equally, and aren't dependent on families to make up the short-comings, schools that represent more affluent neighborhoods will have more to offer than schools that have more lower-middle class families.

It's not race, it's not religion . . . it's finance.

stu

I truly hope the district isn't including McClure in the N/NE discussions . . . besides not being "North" of the Ship Canal Bridge, it would really just be playing politics to include those numbers in any sort of N/NE relief plan.

adhoc said...

Take all of the emotions out of the equation and you will find that the affluent schools have higher test scores and performance than do the schools with a high percent of low income students.

This is not my opinion, it is a fact.

Look at the numbers.

Look at any of the upper middle class and more affluent schools and you will find higher test scores, more advanced classes, more involved parents, a lot of extra curricular activities, Spectrum (Eckstein, View Ridge, Laurelhurst, Wedgewood, Hale, Roosevelt, Ballard, Whittier, North Beach, Montlake, McGilvra, Stevens, Salmon Bay).

Now look at schools that have a high percent of FRE students (RBHS, Cleveland, Aki Kurose, Franklin, Madrona, Hawthorne). You find lower test scores, less parent involvement, more focus on remedial work, a focus on passing the WASL instead of art/music/recess, you find less honors and AP classes. You find less motivated students.

This is a simple fact. Easy to verify if you look at the numbers. It has nothing to do with my values or opinions.

If you are offended by this by all means work to change it.

Sahila said...

And affluent neighbourhoods are STILL predominantly WASP...

adhoc said...

Graywatch here is the district functional capacity PDF. It lists the functional and planning capacity for every school in the district and was updated August 2009.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/functional_analysis3.pdf

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks Central Mom for that clarification on walk zones versus walk distance; good to know.

And for Pete's sake, the new SAP IS going to change some schools. There's no debating it and it's not idle speculation. The north end will likely be more white as that's who lives here (and yes, it has a not-so-nice historic reason but here's the outcome in 2009). When the district does this forecasting, is it idle speculation? No, it's their job and as intelligent parents, we have the right to try to suss this out to see if we can help the process from a parent perspective. That's what this blog is about.

And, lastly if anyone here finds the writing or posts morally reprehensible, please, go elsewhere but spare us the lectures.

adhoc said...

"Until the district funds all school equally, and aren't dependent on families to make up the short-comings, schools that represent more affluent neighborhoods will have more to offer"

And, district funding is just one part of it. There is so much more.....

Middle class and more affluent families are for the most part able to pay for tutoring when their kids need it, they will find a way to pay for after school foreign language classes and chess club, private music lessons, SAT prep classes, they go to visit college campuses, and travel and learn about other cultures. They go to museums, and the zoo, and the library, and they have nutritional meals and a good nights sleep.

When a school has an overwhelming majority of kids from these types of families, with this type of privilege, the culture of the school reflects it. Kids (in general, there are of course exceptions) are more motivated, parents are more demanding, there are more advanced classes, and college prep. Parents volunteer more, they donate more money, they are on the PTSA and the site council and the BLT.

another mom said...

Adhoc, one thing missing here. Middle school has 3 grades and high school 4. It does not seem like a stretch to me that district-wide 1800+ more seats are necessary than at the middle school level. Also, when S and SE students are no longer allowed to choose Hamilton or McClure it is quite possible that everyone will squeeze-in. Some years Whitman held about 1000.

another mom said...

Just a quick edit to my previous comment. 1800+ students North of the ship canal. Sorry about that. So it looks to me like they may be about 200 short but those students may be in the k-8's.

SPSMom said...

K-8s have around 180 per school in grades 6-8. There are now 4 or 5 in the northend. That makes about 700-800 MS seats.
Students in 5th grade at a K-8 will have the option to stay or go to their assigned comprehensive middle school. Most stay, others who leave will have their seat filled by those coming from K-5s and want a small MS experience.

Stu said...

Also, when S and SE students are no longer allowed to choose Hamilton or McClure it is quite possible that everyone will squeeze-in. Some years Whitman held about 1000.

I just don't believe they're going to kick all those S and SE students out of Hamilton and McClure. I know they're redrawing boundaries and moving busing around but isn't it just Mercer and Aki Kurose down south for Middle School? How's the quality of those programs and what's their capacity. Are they going to be able to handle the entire S/SE population? What about NCLB?

stu

adhoc said...

Ah, you are right another mom! middle school is 3 years and HS 4 years! So of course, my numbers were wrong. Thanks for catching that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stu, I would believe it. They want to cut transportation costs and Hamilton, for one, won't have room anyway. There's also Denny and Madison in the SW with Mercer and Aki Kurose in the SE. Aki Kurose is the one that is struggling but it does have the SE Initiative backing it.

another mom said...

Stu- there should be a transition from the old to new SAP and that should provide some buffer. However once the new SAP is fully implemented, I don't believe that the seats will be available for students in the S or SE at Hamilton or McClure.

adhoc said...

Stu they are right. There will be no room for S/SE students at Hamilton once the new SAP is in place. Remember they have to guarantee every student a seat at a comprehensive middle school and the NE is over crowded. There just won't be any room.

I'm not sure about Hamilton? We'll have to wait and see.....

reader said...

I haven't heard that the plan is to kick anybody out of Hamilton and/or McClure. It simply is to stop assigning new 6th grade S/SE students to QA/MAG and the N/NE. Given that there is no room in any of those clusters, that is reasonable. Perhaps there will be no more out of cluster bus for those who remain... that too is reasonable. But, I bet they'll keep the bus until the current crop graduates. New this year, the S/SE bus will now even stop a white kid's houses... previously they had to drive to a minority kid's bus stop and be allowed to ride if there was enough space (and there's always was enough space).

Once again, NCLB doesn't generally apply to middle schools. They don't get title 1 funding... except for a couple K-8's. K-8's get it because they have elementaries; AS1, Madrona, Broadview Thomson. For some reason, Aki also receives Title 1 funding. Theoretically middle-schoolers, who chose those failing K-8's, or were assigned to Aki, could be transfered to a middle school meeting AYP. But, so sad, every middle school is failing AYP, so there's nowhere to go. Actually, New School is the lone middle school which is not failing under NCLB. See here. I guess all middle schoolers who wish to leave Madrona, AS1, Broadview Thomson, or Aki.... should just demand a seat at the New School... oh yeah, bring your lawyer to the transfer meeting. The whole bit about "we'll transfer you to another failing school in your cluster if it meets our bus routes"... doesn't really pass muster. I doubt if it would pass a challenge under NCLB either.

BTW. How does it happen, that students are assigned to K8's like Addams or Madrona... if they didn't select them? Are their elementary portions "neighborhood"?

adhoc said...

Enrollment did mandatory assignments to JA this year for elementary, but not middle school. They couldn't do mandatory assignment to the middle school because it is not comprehensive. No sports program, no after school activities, no electives, etc.

FYI NCLB MS students were offered transfers into JA middle school this year, but with no yellow bus. They were given metro passes.

SE Mom said...

Just to clarify, Adhoc - no mandatory assignments to alternative schools, including some
k-8's. But, k-8's do offer sports programs and after school activities. And, JA does have a middle school girl's soccer team this fall! Kudos to them for getting a team together so soon!

adhoc said...

SE mom there are different rules for every K-8.

There absolutely were mandatory assignments to JA k-8 this year, for elementary school (about 20% of their elementary assignments actually). But none for middle school because it is not a comprehensive middle school.

Remember JA K-8 is not an alternative school, it is a traditional school, just a K-8. So it was used as a neighborhood school this year, though not a reference school.

Not sure what the district will do with JA next year with the new SAP, though I hear that it will become an option school. As an option schoo it wouldn't get mandatory assignments for any grades.

And I'm so happy to hear they have a girls soccer team now! At the open house they promised families a full middle school sports program which didn't materialize so I'm glad they are getting some programs up and running.

adhoc said...

Still no after school program for JA k-8 either. They tried to work something out with the YMCA but they did not have enough kids to make it happen. I know a few middle school families in a real pickle because they were promised an after school activities program that of course never materialized and now they are stranded without after school care.

Moose said...

Charlie's analysis of the boundaries all seem logical. With all due respect to him though, common sense and logic do not always rule the day when it comes to decision-making by SPS. (Cooper was closed by what logic?) I am not making any bets about boundaries.

Stu said...

There absolutely were mandatory assignments to JA k-8 this year

Didn't the board vote last June, in an amendment by Sherry Carr, to commit to Jane Addams as a K-8 through the 2012-2013 school year. And wasn't it determined, at that time, that it would be an option school only with no mandatory assignments?

stu

adhoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
north seattle mom said...

Moose,

I also agree with Charlie and Mel's logic on the boundaries and I also agree that SPS has it very own person brand of logic that can't be explained but I think there is now a clear logic to last year's closures - Transportation Costs. The majority of the closures and relocations last year was driven by transportation costs.

All City Draw Schools
AAA - closed
Summit - closed
AS1 - proposed closure and settled on two cluster draw.
APP - split in half so now 3 or 4 cluster draw areas.

Cooper - in a location with a very small walk zone that will require that the vast majority of students are bussed. Return cooper students to neighborhood schools (maybe or maybe not with transportation) with students in an alt school that are going to need to be bussed anyway.

SBOC - relocated from QA to be much closer to the primary home of their students.

Anyway, just to be clear, I am not saying this was a good idea. I think many fine programs got shredded last year but I think they were consistent with the logic they started with 5 years ago when the district set out to start reducing transportation costs. It seems that the reduce transportation costs theme supersedes all else.

adhoc said...

"Didn't the board vote last June, in an amendment by Sherry Carr, to commit to Jane Addams as a K-8 through the 2012-2013 school year. And wasn't it determined, at that time, that it would be an option school only with no mandatory assignments"

Yes, Stu the board did vote in June to commit to JA as a K-8 through 2012, but just as they voted to commit to JA through 2012, they could vote again to re-purpose the building if need be. But, even if they remain committed through 2012 that's only 2 1/2 years from now. It's a 9 year program, so 2.5 years doesn't make many people feel very secure or eager to choose it.

And as far as voting to make JA an option school, I don't think that was part of that June amendment that Sherry Carr put forward, but even if it was that happened in June, long after open enrollment, which happened in March. Families were already assigned to JA at the time of the vote, I know, because we were one of those families.

We live across the street from JA and personally know many elementary families who got mandatory assignment there this year.

At one of the board meetings earlier this year staff did a power point presentation that showed out of all the families assigned to JA about 20% of the elementary families received mandatory assignment, about 15% chose it as their 2nd or 3rd choice, and about 25% listed it as their 4th,5th, 6th or 7th or lower choice school.

The new SAP shows JA as an option school, so hopefully there won't be mandatory assignments there this coming school year. I have no idea how the district will solve the NE capacity crunch without mandatory assignment to JA or any new buildings open and online this year??? I am very anxious to see what happens.....

Here is a pdf that shows that the district policy on allowing mandatory assignments to JA for elementary this year.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/Board_April_29.pdf

dj said...

North Seattle Mom, the elementary APP split doesn't make sense on your reasoning at the elementary level, because the two elementary sites are still both in the central cluster, so pretty much everyone who had to be transported before still has to be transported, and a similar distance (the exception is the handful of kids in the TM walk zone). The APP middle school split more closely reflects that rationale.

gavroche said...

north seattle mom said...
The majority of the closures and relocations last year was driven by transportation costs.

All City Draw Schools
AAA - closed
Summit - closed
AS1 - proposed closure and settled on two cluster draw.
APP - split in half so now 3 or 4 cluster draw areas.


While this may have been one of the many changing rationales offered by the Board & Supt for these closures and splits, it doesn't entirely add up.

The reason the Cooper kids got evicted from their building, according to Michael DeBell, was simply (and callously) because "Pathfinder needed a better building." No mention of transportation cost savings.

In fact the Supt asked the Board to change policy in order to provide out of cluster transportation for the displaced Cooper students to other schools.
[see: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/08-09agendas/010709agenda/finalrecommendation2.pdf]
So that would ADD to transportation costs, not save money.

The OPPOSITE is true for the TT Minor kids whose Central District school was closed. They were assigned to Lowell in Cap. Hill -- but offered no transportation. But only about 55 TT Minor kids chose Lowell this year--in part bcause there was no transportation offered--so that doesn't seem like a whole lot of savings. (Morever, it was an unconscionable thing for the Supt and Board to do.)

Speaking of which, yes, the closing of Summit potentially cut transportation costs -- as well as cut off hundreds of kids from their school community. I haven't seen the numbers on where all the Summit kids ended up this year, but they probably are still taking buses somewhere, so it's not clear how much of a savings closing Summit was.

So yes, an argument could be made that in some cases by closing some kids' schools and cutting off transportation for them the District saved some money on transportation costs. Strikes me as an pretty inequitable, immoral mathematical calculation.

As for APP, the elementary split moved half of the kids only 3 miles south of where they were. But the north-end APP kids still have quite a commute to Lowell which is in Capital Hill. So aside from those three miles, I doubt the move to Thurgood Marshall saves much in transportation costs.

What's more, the District receives extra (state or federal?) funding for transportation for Special Ed and APP kids, and in fact runs at a surplus. Therefore the APP program at Lowell was NOT a financial burden on the District transportation-wise, but in fact the opposite. So that is not a plausible reason for the split at the elementary level at least.

The middle school APP split is another matter. Logically it should be cheaper to transport north-end APP kids to Hamilton which is in Wallingford, rather than down to Washington.

The same may be true for SBOC -- Meany is apparently closer to home for many of the students. But that still doesn't excuse the District for repeatedly misappropriating SBOC's funds and breakings its promise to create a new school for these kids. (That's been the real SBOC 'cost savings' for the District -- repeatedly reneging on financial promises to these kids.)

The other schools that were closed or targeted -- AS1, AAA, Summit -- as well as APP, have something else in common: they are/were alternative, nontraditional schools, which this Superintendent and Board seem to be hellbent on destroying. Why? Perhaps in a quest to standardize everything into "one size fits all" oblivion.

Another theory is, they are purposely damaging some of the best and alternative choices in our School District so parents will ultimately cry 'Uncle!' and beg for more choices -- and will be offered charters.

Apparently the District may be gunning for TOPS next.....

Josh Hayes said...

Just a minor nit to pick; reader writes:

K-8's get [Title I] because they have elementaries; AS1, Madrona, Broadview Thomson.

Can't speak for Madrona or B-T, but AS1 does not receive Title I funding. We did, for one year, but the following year the FRE threshold was raised and, presto, we were no longer "poor" enough.

TechyMom said...

I do hope that walk boundaries take terrain into account. We're just barely in the Madrona walk boundary at .9 miles (the boundary is 2 blocks from us in 2 different directions). The school is up a steep hill, steep enough that it wouldn't be safe for young child to bike on it. I can walk there in 25 minutes or so, a little less than 20 minutes coming back. I tried it with my daughter once, and it took over an hour. There is no way I can spare 45-120 minutes every morning for the round trip to school. If we were assigned to walk to Madrona (assuming the school had an acceptable program), it wouldn't end up being good for the environment at all. We'd drive, and then, once in the car, I'd drive to the eastside for work, rather than taking metro. (the crazy-early start time doesn't help either).

Perhaps little kids (k-2) should have smaller walk zones? I don't think more than about .5 miles is realistic. That's a 20 minute round-trip for the parent. 3-5 might be able to walk by themselves, in which case, expecting them to walk a mile (20 minutes) is reasonable.

I also don't think it's reasonable for my 5 year old to be expected to cross both MLK and Union. Why are these arterials ok, but 23rd isn't? How do they decide which arterials are ok?

I live a few blocks from a closed school (MLK). I wonder if there are similar pockets near other closed schools where there are no walkable options for elementary?

Both Washington and Garfield are reasonable biking distances and on no-transfer metro routes. I wouldn't be surprised if metro were faster to Washington than a yellow bus.

h2o girl said...

I live near NW 83rd St. I am assuming that my child will be assigned to Ingraham for high school. Not pleased about it, but not feeling like anything I do will change it, and it was nice to read good things about the band and IB programs here the other day (thank you Ingraham Dad). So today I tried to figure out how she'd get there on Metro. It involves two bus routes, with a 20 minute layover on 85th & Aurora at 7:20 am. I have personally seen prostitutes still "working" along Aurora at that time. Ingraham is 3.86 miles from my house. Ballard High is 1.26 miles, and Roosevelt, to my surprise, is only 3.29 miles. It is actually easier to get to Hale and Nova from my house (only one bus route) than it is to get to Ingraham. It's rather depressing.

BL said...

I agree with North Seattle Mom that savings on transportation played significantly in last year's closures. While the transportation savings might be minimal as a result of the Lowell split, I suspect that Team Goodloe-Johnson intends to split the program futher (if she sticks around long enough) and expects less pushback now that the initial split is complete.

SPS mom said...
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hschinske said...

"It is actually easier to get to Hale and Nova from my house (only one bus route) than it is to get to Ingraham."

You can probably add Garfield to that list. Incidentally, it should be possible to work out a route to Ingraham with a transfer at the Northgate Transit Center rather than on Aurora. Not that it's a terrifically convenient route even so, but a bit safer.

Helen Schinske

Sahila said...

http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/news/2928636/A-really-wild-way-to-grow-kids

for those of us who think that we need to provide more challenge for our kids, including maybe, having them learn how to deal with their (urban) environment...

dj said...

Sahila, I am not sure why an article suggesting that kids benefit from climbing trees and playing in the rain should persuade me to let my small children cross busy streets where I know from personal experience with those streets that the drivers do not slow down for kids despite laws directing them to, or why older kids should be expected under cover of darkness to navigate the thicket of drug dealers that congregate at some major school intersections (23rd and Cherry, for example).

Sahila said...

Change the cityscape... dont run away and hide in our houses.... reclaim our streets.... make it uncomfortable for the drug dealers and prostitutes and gangs to do their thing... make them leave - they dont want to be observed doing what they do - if enough of us get back outside, they'll leave...

Walk the streets, frequent the parks, go out after dinner for a walk around the block...

Get more community policing - minus the guns the police carry. Get the council and police to enforce traffic laws; put in physical speed-reducing measures; having people out en masse will automatically reduce traffic speed...

Build community, so that everyone knows everyone else and has a vested interest in keeping the streets safe... get-togethers, festivals, block parties, movie nights, beautiful building competitions, holiday lights.... lots of cheap, easy ways to build community and push the undesirable elements out of our cities....

Leave them nowhere to go but the industrial areas....

If we all hide behind our fences and curtained windows, they've won... we're their prisoners and our kids are cheated out of a full life....

Next thing you'll say is that it will take years (and you're not willing to risk you child's safety to do this).... maybe it will take years, but when would you like to start, and if you dont, who will? The sooner we start, the sooner the streets will belong to all of us again and this problem will be solved....

Stu said...

Yes, Sahila. Yes. We must change everything and fix everything but here, at least for the moment, we're trying to work on one part, the education part.

You say we have to start somewhere; this is where I start. I choose to work to fix the educational system; I choose to believe that, with a solid education, fewer people will take to the streets; I choose to believe that many of your other changes come with a better educated populace; I choose to build community around community schools

The first step is better schools not sending my 10-year-old to a crappy neighborhood to prove a point. Our family does take a walk around the neighborhood each night. That doesn't mean we're stupid enough to walk where SPS would like our son to walk.

stu

6p00e54ecc9eb48833 said...

The idea that kids need to walk excessive distances or dangerous routes to save money is just another example of the preposterous reduced expectations we have for government these days. How about we demand quality public schools with a full complement of academic classes and arts offerings, reasonable class sizes, programs designed to serve all different abilities and learning styles, and appropriate support services (including transportation, nurses, etc.)? And demand an appropriately graduated progressive income tax to pay for it? And demand a school board that will throw out on her can any superintendent who won't be an advocate for the kind of education our kids need and deserve? When we think something is really important in this country, we find the money and the political will to do it (see prisons, corporate bailouts, Iraq). I guess our kids just don't rate that highly on our priority list.

Sahila said...

To 6p00e54ecc9eb48833...

I started here less than a year ago saying all of the things you've just said, and we're no closer to any of that... no one here wants to look at the bigger picture and say its unacceptable... they complain here and then accept what's happening in the district... sheep to the slaughter, bleating, bleating, as they walk along the path made for them, and obediently putting their heads in the stocks to be executed.... no-one here seems to want to put their money where their mouth is and DO something...

Cant believe how much we are letting the Superintendent get away with, cos we wont challenge the Board whose job it is to rein her in, wont get it together, wont make noise (except in whispering amongst ourselves, cos its not nice to be loud and blunt - or raucous and crass as some would call it)...

Melissa's thread about flexing parent muscle...

What would happen if people said 'enough is enough' and kept their kids home from school until something changed?

You know what - kids are not going to miss out getting into college if they miss a few days of school...and in the process, they'll learn some valuable lessons about governance, responsibility for the world we co-create, citizenship and engagement...

Maybe people will get a rude awakening with the unveiling of this plan....maybe that'll be the torch that lights the fire....maybe then they'll be willing to get off their arses and DO something to say 'no more'... sure hope so....

IRONY PLUS.... WV IS VOTING!

LakeCityParent said...

adhoc said...

Eckstein will no longer draw from the affluent neighborhoods of Laurelhurst, Ravenna, View Ridge, Bryant, U district. It will now likely draw from the lower middle class neighborhoods of Lake City, Olympic Hills, Cedar Park, Northgate, and Meadowbrook. With the shift in demographics the school will surely change. FRE rates will go up, test scores will go down. If the demand is not there the advanced math, and Spectrum might dwindle away. Will Eckstein remain a desirable school?


We live in Lake City and are solidly middle class. Our daughters don't qualify for reduced meals. They're both in Spectrum and doing very well. They have belonged to their school chess teams and have attended after school art and drama classes. We are zoo and Pacific Science members. They have visited historic sites and museums. I volunteer in both classes and the library. Quality education and challenging curriculum are very important to us, despite not being affluent. We sacrifice in other areas to provide these opportunities for our children. Please do not generalize.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

Lake City Parent do you honestly believe that Eckstein will not change at all with the new boundaries and new draw? Honestly?

Do you really think that you could replace the Laurelhurst, View Ridge, Wedgewood, Bryant, Ravenna, U district families with Lake City, Olympic Hills, Cedar Park, and Northgate, and have the same school with the same outcomes?

I know many people that are low income or middle class that provide very well for their kids. I live in Lake City too, and we are lower middle class, and we provide all of the "extras" for our kids too. We value education, and support them in their endeavors.

But I also see the other side of Lake City. Lake City has the highest crime rate north of the ship canal. There are pockets of extreme poverty. There are projects that police won't go to a call to without backup. There are many mixed income apartments. And drug dealers. There are many families for whom English is not their first language. You'd be hard pressed to find any of the above anywhere in Laurelhurst, or Bryant or View Ridge. Just sayin...

adhoc said...
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SE Mom said...

Geez..these replies are getting personal...stay on the topic at hand, please.

Stu said...

SE Mom,

Actually, although I think it is getting a bit personal, I think it is on topic. Sahila has some very specific ideas about education, some of which I agree with and some I don't. However, I feel that trying to change everything wrong with the world is as equally ineffective as watching from the sidelines. Sahila accuses us of not being involved but everyone of us, just by being here, is trying to come up with that magic bullet, that one idea, that will find it's way into the thought processes of this board and superintendent.

Over the years I've disagreed with board decisions and various superintendents. However, never before have I felt that so many in power cared less about the families in this district. The blatant disregard for planning ahead, or measuring the effects of their actions, or using real numbers, or demanding accountability, and the unwillingness or inability to remove the politics from their decision making processes, has stunned me.

I might disagree with many of the voices here on this blog but I truly appreciate their efforts at being heard.

stu

SE Mom said...

Stu, I very much appreciate the different points of view on this blog and don't in the least mind strongly stated and passionate opinions.

Once comments get personal in a negative way, the larger message is lost, I think.

Josh Hayes said...

I would be very surprised to see the Northgate neighborhood kids assigned into the Eckstein cluster: I expect them to be schlepped over to Whitman (for one thing, it's a straight shot on the route 75 bus).

Given the locations of the three north end MS, and leaving McClure aside for the time being, it's clear that Eckstein will have to ray out to the north and northeast and a little to the northwest, while Hamilton will pick up everyone who's not too far from the Ship Canal, and Whitman gets everyone else. Isn't that what everyone expects?

As for h20girl, you might also look at buses that go up 15th NW and then transfer to the 358 at Aurora and Northgate, which is incrementally less sleazy than Aurora and 85th (I live east of Aurora off 100th, so I know the neighborhood). And isn't there a metro bus that shoots up 3rd Ave NW? Your child could get off at 3rd NW and NW 130th and walk about 3/4 mile from there to Ingraham.

Mum o 2 said...

The only day I walk my child to school is Mondays - that is my day off from work. The other 4 days he goes to before/after school care and is bussed from there to Daniel Bagley. We live .8 miles from Bagley and have to cross Aurora. Unless some miracle happens and they build a pedestrian bridge - I would not let my son cross Aurora for many years. He is 5 now.

It generally takes about 20-30 minutes to walk to school. We actually prefer to bike - that takes about 15 minutes.

Mum o 2 said...

SAP question - will the rules for early enrollment change at all? My younger son's birthday is Sept 7th and we may want to apply for early enrollment. Right now it seems that he would basically get whatever empty seat there is. In our area (south end of North cluster) it looks like ALL the elem schools had waitlists which means he would have to go out of cluster. Would this be that same in the new SAP?