Sunday, October 11, 2009

Eckstein SAP Boundaries Meeting

The Eckstein SAP boundaries meeting on Saturday was attended by roughly 150 people (they ended up needing to open more cafeteria tables). There were numerous staff in attendance including Tracy Libros, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, and Special Ed director, Marni Campbell.

Tracy gave her overview presentation (if you attend more than one meeting, come 20-25 minutes late if you don't want to hear this presentation again). They told us that we would be dividing into groups (no one seemed happy about that) and that we would be discussing three questions. There was confusion because the handout with the questions were just the survey on the website. For some reason, we didn't get a handout with the real questions. They were:
  • what do you like about the boundary plan?
  • what did they miss in this plan?
  • what concerns do you have with this plan?
Here is major information I found out (this includes previous research I did before the meeting). Key implementation Issues that will be done AFTER the vote on boundaries but BEFORE the March open enrollment time:
  • grandfathering siblings
  • program placement
  • Open Choice seats for high school (where does the 10% come from and will it change)
  • extent of grandfathered transportation
  • geographic zones for Option Schools*
  • equity of access for advanced learning opportunities
  • transition steps pending final migration off of the VAX system
Other issues:
  • the district is interested in ideas/thoughts on opening the new schools in the reopened buildings i.e. what makes the most sense? Full out, K-5 or just K or K, 1-2, etc. I'm not sure I have a good sense of what would work but what would help is to be some good programming in each (a la Old Hay) AND bring parents in as partners to shape the school. This could be, with the right attitude, a great opportunity to be on the ground floor to shape a school to your vision (or you and your neighbors' vision).
  • on the issue of why Old Hay can be an Option Montessori but not Graham Hill or Bagley, the latter are attendance area schools
  • *Option school geographic zones. May not happen this year so enrollment would be by sibling then lottery. No, I don't know the exact reason why.
  • Advanced Learning in Option schools - I need to contact Bob Vaughn as this question continues to be unclear.
  • I had forgotten but the Board HAD discussed using F/RL for the Open Choice seats but rejected it saying people might cheat.
  • High school boundary changes are not likely to be seen this week as previously said at the Work Session presentation. It is also unclear when we would see this.
As for the meeting, well, after Tracy's presentation, Dr. G-J zipped (and I mean zipped) through 10 questions from question cards written by attendees. Among the questions:
  • will siblings of students in special programs at high schools get most of the Open Choice seats? The answer was no. I think if they try to have Special Ed/ELL programs at the high schools only the most specialized programs will remain. I would agree, it's not the many sibs.
  • transportation for grandfathered students? looking at data
  • there was a question (with a follow-up shouted from the audience which was ignored) about what if there are too many siblings entering, how would that be handled? If a school has two kindergartens and that's maybe 24 per class, could there be a neighborhood with 48 + kindergarteners? I don't know and the question wasn't answered.
  • why the difference in size of attendance area? For safety issues concerning walk zones and/or density.
  • Also, I don't want to be unkind but Dr. Goodloe-Johnson looked at some cards given to her and refused to read them because they were not questions. I get this but she brushed it off saying it wasn't germaine to the discussion and then hastily saying all questions and comments would be answered and posted to the website.
When groups reported out, here were the main concerns (and remember this is the NE/N so it may be skewed in that direction):
  • Number one; grandfather those siblings. Far and away the most comments. Grandfathering of sibs especially for higher level special ed students.
  • Roosevelt versus Hale - this came up several times as people want that baseline of AP/Honors classes available (plus the seat time issue). A few worried that Hale would have to change its program drastically.
  • Skewed F/RL. It seems very odd, as several groups commented, that Sandpoint will be a much higher F/RL rate than all the other elementaries around it. It would be something like 30% versus 5-10%. As well, many questioned the Sandpoint boundaries that veered away from one affluent area.
  • Mapping concerns mostly around odd lines that are not aterials. Many want the use of aterials rather than what seems to be random lines down the middle of the street.
  • More Open Choice seats for high school students to access specialized programs. I was surprised at this but many parents want that access even to schools that aren't hugely popular like Ingraham but who have a good program like IB.
  • Several comments about north Green Lake and their odd jump from Eckstein then to Ballard while the area is within the Roosevelt walk zone.
  • North Ballard parents are not happy to be assigned to Ingraham. Many feel that QA/Magnolia students are getting Ballard and that they should have been split to two schools.
  • Many feel that some schools will become overenrolled very quickly (Eckstein, for example).
  • One principal, Zoe Jenkins from Olympic Hills, asked that none of the information be changed (including maps) from meeting to meeting. Dr. G-J answered that saying it wouldn't but she did do it in a noticably icy manner. (I was taking notes but several people around me commented on it.)
  • Thorton Creek, an Option school, has no middle school feeder. Several comments on this.
  • Several comments on the levy and this plan, especially for the NE, being dependent on the levy passing. What is the plan if the levy doesn't pass?
I came away with a few overriding feelings. One, the grandfathering of siblings (and/or moving the already enrolled sib to the new attendance school) is very important. If the district gets this right, many parents will be much more in their corner. However, if your new attendance school is one of the newly opened schools and it only opens at K, then your current student in the non-attendance school couldn't transfer if they wanted to. That leaves you with a mandatory two-school assignment.

Two, there were a couple of comments about the stress and worry over future boundary movement. Well, the SAP had to change. It hadn't been addressed in years AND people were crying out for predictibility. Is it a case of be careful what you wish for? Maybe. Others were complaining about the stress. I would gently point out that this is what closing schools and their communities faced but even bigger.

There is no easy way to get this done. It is no good to complain about enrolling with one plan and the district changing it. That's life. Things change all the time like bus routes and start times. I get that it is frustrating and worrying but we are in a time of change and for those of you just starting the education journey, you've gotten caught in it. It is likely to be a time of flux and churn and yes, with neighborhood plans you will get boundary changes (but hopefully not for at least 5 years). But the hope and belief is that we will get stronger schools from strong neighborhood ties, right?

79 comments:

Renee said...

Some more comments from yesterday's meetings:

There was some discussion of moving the Ingraham boundary north and east (clockwise). However, a few folks who I spoke with expressed doubt that the Ballard boundary could be moved north as they feel Ballard high school will already be oversubscribed and if anything, the boundary will need to move south, or some Greenlake area students will need to be assigned to Roosevelt.

Enrollment projections Eckstein assume that a few hundred Eckstein area students will choose Jane Addams. SPS does not seem to have a back-up plan of how they will assign students next year if Eckstein is over-subscribed. In the long run, it is hoped that Jane Addams become a Salmon Bay of the NE with a "mushroom" middle school.

hschinske said...

I have no faith at all that the Ballard boundary can possibly remain as far north as 85th, given the inclusion of Queen Anne and Magnolia students in the Ballard area. That's the very population that's been TRYING to get into Ballard and being crowded out!

Note: word verification is "vanned" -- an obvious indicator of all the carpooling people will be resorting to, given the lousy Metro service to Ingraham.

Helen Schinske

dj said...

I believe when we discussed the proposed SAP last winter, many many people remarked that many of the very people who wanted the SAP because of the predictability would be disappointed to find out that they weren't getting, specifically, a predictable assignment to the school that they wanted. I can't imagine that the district *could* have a SAP that only divided schools by major arterials, unless the idea is that it's fine for one school to maintain a forest of portables and the neighboring school to have some half-empty classes.

And, by the way, south of the shipping canal, 30% FRE would be considered "a small FRE population." In the SAP -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- only Montlake and McGilvra will have FRE populations lower than that in central and south. Which doesn't mean that the Sandpoint lines look all that logical to me, but I'm not sure what the district is supposed to do given that it has one group of parents complaining about "neighborhoods" being "split" and another complaining about being closer to one school than another and having a line that sends them to the farther school. Something has to give.

Keepin'On said...

I firmly believe that they cannot make this plan acceptable, nor make it work, until they deal with the high school question. Programs and challenge need to be spread out equitably between the high schools. There needs to be a plan to deal with capacity in the high schools. Currently, our high schools are very different, and are not serving all students equally well.

I would hope that they would perhaps implement the plan with the elementary grades and middle schools first, and then have some time to deal with the high school question.

I am concerned that the sibling question is beginning to overshadow the high school issue.

Aurora said...

Relevant to assignment area plan? How segregated are your schools and what impact will the SAP have on this?

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/10/11/790762/-Book-review:-Rich-Benjamins-Searching-for-Whitopia

Dorothy said...

I understand that a 30% FRL rate is not horrible. The galling thing is that Sandpoint Elementary looks gerrymandered to contain the local FRL population into one school. Without even having the near neighbors attending the school as well. That's just not fair to the FRL population or the school. It's isolating when the other well established schools will lose FRL population.

The Sandpoint Housing (at Magnusson Park) is slated to grow as well. I believe they were having trouble getting funding for the planned Phase 2, which would provide maybe 100(?) new units for families. However, last I heard, if the Children's Hospital expansion plan gets approved, with the purchase of Laurelon Apts, they will be required to help provide affordable local housing and they have been talking with Sandpoint Housing about partnering.

And walking safely is completely not considered. My house in Hawthorn Hills is a 1.2 mile walk to the school. Perhaps a little less as the crow flies, but the only access to Sandpoint Way from my house is South over the Princeton Bridge. Then about a half mile Northeast along a state highway with no sidewalks.

Sandpoint Elementary ought to serve the local families of Windermere and the low income housing at Sandpoint (Magnusson Park) which is nearby. The Burke Gilman Apartments ought to be in either Laurelhurst or Bryant communities. Those apartments are also more than a mile from Sandpoint Elementary and the walk would be all on the State Highway with limited or no sidewalks.

(full disclosure. My only child is at UW so this isn't relevant to my family. I served on the original Neighborhood Advisory Committee for Sandpoint Housing, helping with the original management plan, but am not current with information there. I have been on the board of the Burke Gilman PDA for 6 years. While I am disappointed that my Hawthorn Hills neighborhood was given a school that is very much not in our neighborhood or walkable, I could live with that. I am much more incensed with the treatment of the low-income communities.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Keepin'On, tough sell. I asked Harium this question weeks ago at his community meeting and he was firm in his no, the plan has to roll out all at once. I don't know how the other Directors feel.

To Dorothy's points, keep in mind Sandpoint is slated to open with portables so those students seem to get a little worse deal out of it. (Portables are not the end of the world. Many schools deal with them but it certainly isn't a great thing.)

dj said...

Oh, I have no position on whether the Sandpoint school zone is logical or appropriate. I have just been listening to parents speaking about 30% FRE as if it's some incredibly high number, and think that perspective a bit . . . skewed.

LynneC said...

I also live in Hawthorne Hills in the new Sandpoint school attendance area. My concern is that opening a new school by definition involves challenges in terms of building a strong school community and a supportive PTA. Drawing a "neighborhood school" boundary by picking little bits and pieces of existing communities, virtually all of which are on the other side of a major arterial from the school, only increases these challenges. Taking all of the local public housing and directing it to just one school makes building the school community even more difficult, and also decreases the diversity of the surrounding schools. Meanwhile, none of the Windermere neighborhood, right next to the school and in easy walking distance, is included in the Sandpoint attendance area. Like Dorothy, my kids are old enough that this won't affect me. But there will be much work ahead for the new district families assigned to the school if these boundaries stay as is.

Renee said...

Just for some perspective on FRE, Olympic Hills is my reference school under current and proposed plans. Current FRE is 70% and as proposed would be 64%.

Many neighborhood families have been attending other SPS schools or private schools, but, many are optimistic of what may happen in the future at Olympic Hills.

Stu said...

I firmly believe that they cannot make this plan acceptable, nor make it work, until they deal with the high school question.

I agree and think it all comes down to, surprise, equity. Didn't MGJ even use that word in her most recent ramble? If you want to challenge the plan, that's really the only thing that can, across the boards, be considered unfair. Neighborhood boundaries are always going to be open to interpretation, populations will move and change, but the idea that an AP student can't get AP classes, or a music whiz-kid can't have an established music program, is where ALL these plans will fail.

stu

southend girl said...

Regarding the question as to why Bagley and Graham Hill Montessori would be treated differently than the new option Montessori at Old Hay - yes, we know Bagley and GH are attendance schools now. But why couldn't the Montessori programs at those schools be treated as option programs? There has to be some consistency.

Central Mom said...

Agreed, south end girl.

Would painting the building of a standard K-5, say West Woodland, or Arbor Heights, the color yellow, suddenly make it an option school because the district defined all option schools as those that are yellow? Sure, it would meet the district definition, but it wouldn't pass the sniff test with anyone. Not the public, not the consultants, not the lawyers.

This current definition of "no assignment area = option school" is equally ridiculous.

And the longer the district waits to address it once families are back in their own neighborhoods, looking even harder at equity in programming than they are now, the more it's going to bite the district in the behind.

adhoc said...

Why are we moving to a boundary assignment plan for high schools? High schools are all so unique and each have very different offerings. I get the need for a new SAP for elementary and middle schools - it keeps kids closer to home and saves on busing, but HS students ride Metro. Does it really matter to SPS which high school each student goes to?

I understand, and fully support the need to standardize offerings and have a baseline of courses at each high school, that is equitable. But I also really appreciate that each high school has it's own unique culture, flavor, and specialty offerings, and that students can pick and choose, and rank in order, which high school best suits them.

With the new SAP only kids living in the boundaries of Sealth and Igraham will be able to get an IB diploma. Only families living in the Garfield or Roosevelt boundaries will have access to an award winning, nationally recognized jazz band. Only families living in Ballard's boundaries will have access to bio tech. Only families in Hales boundaries will have access to the Coalition of Essential Schools model of inclusive/integrated classrooms and academies.

I think SPS should require each high school to offer a baseline of courses/offerings, but at the same time allow them to have a specialty focus, or have a unique culture.

Leave the HS assignment plan as is, although it might be good to offer 20-25% of each high schools seats up for citywide lottery.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I agree adhoc, but I might event take it a step further. I believe there should be some general lottery slots open at the more desirable schools, but I also think there could be some sort of "application" for special programs just as there is a litmus test for students in the AP Program. A lottery will not guarantee a stellar jazz trumpet player who lives in the southend a spot at Roosevelt or Garfield, nor a science wiz in Wallingofrd the biotech program at Ballard. Why should those kids miss out out a program that could help determine their adult career just because of the luck of the draw?

The School for the Performing Arts in NYC (aka FAME) holds auditions for its public program. Why couldn't Roosevelt and Garfield? Perhaps WASL scores and teacher recommendations could get kids into the biotech program...

I realize that takes more work than running an algorithm, but those specialty programs are the very reason some people are so desperate to gain access to certain schools. I guess the problem is that right now, they are not official "programs," just electives offered at the school.

I only know that I agree that a talented child should not be denied the best high school program Seattle has to offer just because of the kismet of their address. I have said this before...there is NO WAY parents can know they are going to have a jazz horn player, or a math or science wiz when their child is young, so they can't be blamed for not having the foresight to buy a house in the "right" neighborhood.

Di said...

Melissa - "To Dorothy's points, keep in mind Sandpoint is slated to open with portables"

WHAT?? I was not able to attend the Eckstein meeting. Was this in that discussion? Haven't seen/heard mention anywhere else of the actual plan. What exactly is the plan so far for re-opening the school? K only, or K-5? Keep the current leases as is and let the kids have the portables (said in scarcasm but maybe that isn't too far from the truth?!) and current tenants status quo? I just missed Sand Point assignement by a few blocks, and my youngest is entering K next year. My neighbors' fight is my fight. I do belive the conspiracy theroy with zigzagging the boundary to assign the low-income housing to SP - it's the path of least resistance right? A more transient population, less ties to the community, won't put up as much of a fight as they have more important worries, etc? This is just ridiculous. Please tell me I'm missing something and this somehow makes sense to send K kids across Sand Point Way (on a route I consider non-walkable thus would be drivign <1 mile each way next year) for their first formal school experience?

NE Parent said...

Di said "What exactly is the plan so far for re-opening the school? K only, or K-5?"

I talked to Tracy Libros after the Eckstein meeting & she said this isn't decided. They're planning to have design teams look at this issue. She said (& I paraphrase only slightly) that "I think families will want to have the option to have the older child come to the school with their kindergartner, but that's what the design team will look at." I asked when the design team would start & she said "very soon."

I hadn't heard the part about portables either. Very few people are going to pull their older child to go to SP without some attractive program--especially if they'll have to go to a class in portables instead of their current NE school.

I must say that if the District doesn't do something to make Sandpoint an attractive school, it's going to be a disaster. Another mom & I discussed with Director Carr the idea of making Sandpoint an option language immersion school, & she seemed to really like that idea.

What they really need to do is commit to Jane Addams as a K-8 by drawing a K-5 attendance boundary. Otherwise JA is just not going to fill & they'll have no hope of pulling 150 students per grade at the middle school level. JA as an option school with no clear program is going to be very empty next year--they won't have the mandatory assignments at the K level and people won't choose it if they don't think it offers an attractive program and that the District is going to stick with it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The information about Sandpoint having portables was in the BTA III levy presentation given to the Board last Wednesday. Under Proposed Functional Capacity 2015:

250 with portables

And included in the costs to reopen Sand Point under Construction, Tech insfrastructure:
$3,861,000 + $1M (4 portables)

Total cost estimate to reopen Sand Point: $7M.

Eastlake said...

My Eastlake neighborhood's support for this New Assignment Plan hinges on the on-time implementation of the geographic zones for option schools. Montlake Elementary does not have the capacity to seat Eastlake. Nor will we be bussed out of our neighborhood while the school square in the middle of our neighborhood has 500 students bussed in. No more delays!

Bruce Taylor said...

Dorothy is wrong about the lack of sidewalks on Sand Point Way -- there are sidewalks on the east side of Sand Point Way from the Princeton bridge all the way to Sand Point Elementary.

But she is dead-on regarding everything else, including Sand Point's disproportionate impact on low income families -- a result of its kooky gerrymandered attendance area. (It includes all the low-income housing in the area, but excludes Windermere and Belvedere Terrace -- two blocks away! What incredible chutzpah!)

Sand Point is a very unwalkable school from the Hawthorne Hills side. There are only four crosswalks along that stretch of Sand Point Way: At Princeton; at 50th Ave NE; at NE Windermere Road; and at NE 65th Street. The two crossings between the endpoints are inaccessible from the Hawthorne Hills side.

Sand Point Way is divided with a shrubbery boulevard that will make jaywalking children almost invisible. The city will reduce the 40-mph speed limit through that 0.8-mil stretch, but it's still dangerous.

I do think Sand Point needs to be re-opened as an elementary school. It would instantly fill as a language immersion option school. But so would the vastly-larger Jane Addams, which was promised to be the silver bullet that would solve our NE capacity problems.

I see SP as a neighborhood school with an attendance area that includes Windermere and Belvedere Terrace. Even then, it will need to include a big chunk of Hawthorne Hills and View Ridge. But that boundary should be drawn to pull from the area nearest the safe crossing at NE 65th Street.

NE Parent said...

Bruce Taylor said: "[The Sandpoint] boundary should be drawn to pull from the area nearest the safe crossing at NE 65th Street."

I agree with much of what Bruce said, but I hardly think this is a safe crossing either. To get there from Hawthorne Hills or VR, families are going to need to walk down busy 65th & then cross 5 lanes at Sandpoint. I see cars running that light to turn all the time, & can't imagine that changing.

The old Sandpoint boundary (circa 1989 & available if you look at the bottom of the current View Ridge attendance area map) went way up Sandpoint Way and pulled in Inverness, as those people have no walkable school anyway. If you're going to be bussed anyway, it might as well be to Sandpoint instead of pushing people out of View Ridge who actually CAN walk to school. See this walk zone chart: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/maps/08-09/trans/no_walk_areas_k5.pdf .

dj said...

Eastlake, are you saying that your neighborhood demands that it be given TOPS? I'm sure that there will be a geographic zone drawn around the school for some folks from your neighborhood, but TOPS is supposed to be an option school for people in central -- I am expecting that to mean that people throughout the cluster will have genuine access to TOPS as an option school, as opposed to that it will be given to Eastlake with a few choice seats for the rest of the area.

Take a look at the elementary school maps for central. Families in Eastlake are no further from Montlake than families in assignment areas for Stevens, Leschi, and probably even Lowell.

TechyMom said...

Eastlake, your chances of getting into TOPS will be much better under the old plan. Instead if competing with half the city in the lottery, you'll be competing primarily with people in Central who don't like their neighborhood school, and that pretty much means Madrona. There will be peole who really like the program at TOPS, but many fewer that are trying only to avoid a mandatory asssignment. Plus, if you don't get in, you have a guarenteed spot at Montkake, which is a wonderful school. That's a lot better than the distance based leftovers you had in the old plan. At least your local school isn't closed.

TechyMom said...

Sorry, much better under the NEW plan

Dorothy said...

Ah Bruce, you are right about the sidewalks on that side. But there still aren't sidewalk south of the bridge? Are there? I am not sure, there've been negotiations about that. The kids from Burke Gilman would be walking from there.

Can the city finally reduce the speed limit on Sandpoint Way by reopening the school? How do you know that? It's not in the city's jurisdiction. State Highway 513. And as NEParent points out, people are nuts on that stretch of road. Not only would you need speed limit reduced, there would have to be significantly increased enforcement action.

I just checked the official Walk Zone maps. Bizarre, that Hawthorne Hills is told it can walk to Sandpoint but is not in the walk zone for Bryant. Now Hawthorne Hills is a school-less island bordered by arterials so we have to cross an arterial to get to ANY school. My kid attended Bryant and walked. He still walks to Bryant for Boy Scouts. Many other kids on my block and nearby have walked to Bryant over the years. 35th Ave NE is a much safer and saner arterial to cross than Sandpoint Way. And even though it is not considered walkable by the district, the area east of 35th Ave NE and West of 39th would be told to walk to Bryant anyway.

Plus, I missed that about it being only 250 kids. So not only disproportionately FRL, only half the size of the nearest schools. So way fewer family resources. I would bet that the more stable low income families at BG would have time to offer in the same proportion as non low-income parents, just less cash. The Sandpoint Housing is transitional, two year maximum (although that's subject to change?) so those families could tend to be more on the margins of crisis and have less time as well as money to volunteer.

Melissa Westbrook said...

On the issue of Eastlake, these folks, just like QA/Magnolia, have had no school to call their school for years. While throwing them 20% of the TOPS'seats after the sibling tiebreaker is something, it sure wasn't a guarantee.

Montlake is a great school but there are problems. One, yes there are just as long distances in the Leschi and Stevens attendance areas but noon there has to cross I-5. Also in those areas, there are people can walk to their school. No one from Eastlake is about to walk a 5-year from Montlake (and no parent would). So where is the school that Eastlake can walk to? TOPS.

Eastlake isn't going to grow much if any. There are houseboats (limited) and it's a small stretch of land. I don't think it's asking much to throw them a bone (as was done for QA/Magnolia) and give them at least a chance for some of their kids to be able to walk to school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I also forgot to say that with predictability comes the chance that more private school parents may come back to SPS especially to good schools like Montlake. Problem is, Montlake has no room for growth. So what happens then?

TechyMom said...

I expect the Eastlake families will get yellow bus service to Mobtlake. I'm sorry, but I just dint see how that's so terrible. If they don't get bus service, then, yes I agree it's too far and to dangerous to walk.

dj said...

Melissa, the T.T. Minor families no longer have a walking-area school because the district closed theirs. Same with the MLK families. Under the new plan, there are Leschi families who can't walk to Leschi, many of which have easy walks to Thurgood Marshall but won't be able to attend Thurgood Marshall because APP now takes up half the school. The Eastlake families are hardly alone in their lack of of their "own" neighborhood school under the new SAP.

If Montlake can't hold all of the families that are to be assigned to it, that should be addressed through moving boundary lines. But Montlake is again hardly alone in the family of "schools where attendance may be higher than predicted because private school students go public." That is true of every single desirable school that historically has had waitlists, because parents will now be able to guarantee, rather than hope, that they can attend their neighborhood school. Perhaps that is a problem with the entire SAP, but not one unique to Montlake.

If TOPS isn't really going to be an option school because the Eastlake families are "thrown a bone" as you say, central cluster families will not have an option program. Period. Which raises major equity issues in my view in terms of option program access -- we in central don't have an international school and have a Montessori program that is a neighborhood draw, rather than an option school. TOPS is what we have at this point.

Perhaps the Eastlake families would like to argue for moving the TOPS option program to another school in the cluster?

Dorothy said...

My walk to Bryant is less than .5 miles. My walking route to Laurelhurst is .91 miles. My walk to Sandpoint is 1.2 miles. And the driving routes would be comparable for each location.

I have walked to both Bryant and Laurelhurst many times. Both are definitely safe and accessible. Sandpoint along the state highway is not nearly as safe or accessible.

Why am I being assigned to the third closest school and the one that limits walking? In fact, at more than a mile, wouldn't I be provided a bus?

NE Parent said...

In terms of walk zone with all the crossing of Sandpoint Way (for Laurelhurst and Sandpoint schools), does anyone know how the walk zone will work? Currently, crossing Sandpoint Way is not walkable and based on the walk zone maps I believe anyone who has to cross it gets a bus--regardless of whether the distance is less than 1 mile. Will this be changing with the new SAP? If so, what's the basis for the change? If it is unsafe now, I don't see how it will suddenly be safe in Fall 2010, unless perhaps they intend to have dedicated crossing guards at a number of Sandpoint Way intersections.

Di said...

It seems so many of these Sand Point questions can/should be answered by the district at this point, if they do expect to be fully operational for fall 2010. I wonder what it would take to force a community meeting for those that have been slated to attend SP? The district might actually get more parents buying in to the new school if there weren't so mnay unknowns. Or on the flip side this could be the opportunity for neighborhood parents to expose how much of a boondogle this really is, and push that the district instead make the location an option school (which imo is really the only answer, other than re-drawing the boundaries to make it truly "neighborhood")

Central Mom said...

Ahh, Eastlake and TOPS. Been living it a decade now. Some clarification from above:

All Option Schools are going to have geographic zones. That's not under discussion. Every Option school will get neighborhood kids, if the families desire to go there. This is beneficial both to neighborhoods (go to the school on your home territory) and Option schools missions (promotes attendance at "alt" programs, keeping enrollment numbers high, which means the District hopefully stops trying to close them).

It appears from District reports that they're looking for @ 20 percent attendance from local communities to option schools. That's right about where Eastlake, as an entire geographically defined community, is right now, plus or minus 1-2 students a year. And because of neighborhood physical boundaries and housing type, it's unlikely to change. TOPS will never into the foreseeable future be a majority Eastlake school. In addition, geographic attendance zones will not be fixed. If a local population gets too large (or small) for a school, the District says it will change it.

Central District won't be limited to only one option school. Anyone can attend any option school. Central District will only get bussing to TOPS, though, so that's a deciding factor for many, many families. BTW, much of QA and Magnolia are also getting bussing to TOPS. That's its linked Option school under the new plan. Let's think about that one, Central District.

There are historicaly plenty of people in the area that would like TOPS to take a hike and to have a community school here. Come on over Montlake. Grow your school here! Nothing like exclusion to foster very bad feelings. Not good for school or community! Happily, the neighborhood and the school have co-existed much better in recent years, and each appears eager to be involved in each other's mission...alt school, very urban neighborhood. It is the neighborhood kids attendance at the school that has helped both sides.


The greater issue here is equity in programming from the District, and also its failure to define and strategically place Option programs throughout the district. In addition, although I generally think Mary Bass to be ineffective, I give her huge kudos on pointing out over and over that Central District has borne the brunt of the programmatic and physical plant changes over the past few years, with little to no acknowlegement or amelioration from Central Staff. Wouldn't it be nice to see some great programs and investment in infrastructure in this part of town for our K-8 kids?! (And SBOC and NOVA.)

dj said...

Central Mom, thank you for the clarification. Although I think a lot depends on how the district ends up defining "geographic zones" around option schools, which I think they strategically have avoided doing.

One question, though -- I thought QA was getting an entire option Montessori school. Are they getting transportation to both? Or am I wrong that they are getting an entire Montessori option school?

Bruce Taylor said...

DJ, the point of re-opening Sand Point is to relieve the immense pressure on Bryant, Laurelhurst and View Ridge, which are all crammed to the gills.

Making Sand Point an option school would only draw more students out of the north end of the NE cluster, which solves nothing.

And why should we believe the district is capable of creating a compelling option program at Sand Point when they utterly failed at Jane Addams K-8 just last year?

Central Mom said...

DJ...Yes, apologies...you are correct and I was wrong. On page 34 of the Boundaries report in the SAP it puts the McClure service area to Old Hay, not TOPS. I had TOPS in my notes from earlier, but Old Hay appears to be the call now.

Central Mom said...

And for what it's worth, there is not a lick of similarity between a Montessori program (Old Hay) and TOPS.

Catharine Blaine on Mag. can serve some parents looking for a K-8 experience. But two things there...CB is NOT an option school. It's an attendance school. Openings for out-of-area families are unknown to me. And TOPS and CB don't have identical programs. Back to the mishmash of the District's Option school definitions and the ramifications on the community.

dj said...

Bruce -- there are actually two of us on here with similar handles (dj -- me -- and di -- not me) -- I think you're responding to di, because I have no opinion re: Sand Point as an option school.

reader said...

What is the "options" middle school for QA/Mag in that case? Salmon Bay?

dj said...

Believe me, Central Mom, you are preaching to the choir here re: option schools. I don't think of them as fungible; I don't understand how anyone could think "Montessori" and "language immersion," e.g., are offering parents the same thing as long as the program *isn't* a "traditional" school.

adhoc said...

Why are Catherine Blaine K-8 and Broadview Thompson K-8 both neighborhood schools with attendance areas while Jane is an option school with no attendance area? It doesn't make sense to me.

Unless of course, the district is planning on re-purposing JA in 2012/13, which may very well be the case.

This year only about 68 families selected JA as their 1st choice. The rest of the students either got mandarory assignment to the school or listed it as their 2nd, 3rd or lower choice. What's going to happen next year without mandatory assignment? And when all families are guaranteed a seat at their (great) NE neighborhood schools? Who will choose Addams? And what will the district do if they have an 800 seat school with only a handful of students in it?

As for Sandpoint, I wonder the same thing that Bruce Taylor does....if SP were an option school where would all of the students currently in their boundaries go to school? What other NE schools have space to absorb them? I also agree that SP as an option school would draw heavily from families trying to get out of a mandatory assignments to Northgate, Olympic Hills, even John Rogers. So would really relieve any pressure in the Bryant, View Ridge areas? Not so sure. And can you imagine the inequity cries from the rest of the district if the NE had 4 option schools (AS1, Thornton Creek, JA, and Sandpoint)?

I think SP needs to be a neighborhood school, however, I think staff needs to draw the boundaries in a way that makes sense, is community friendly, and as walkable as possible.

To me oe of the most troubling aspects of the new SAP is the number of families who are close enough to walk to a school but are being bused to another school. Isn't this counter productive to "neighborhood schools". Isn't this counter productive to saving transportation costs. I'd love to see the data on true cost savings (in transportation). Meg???

Stu said...

DJ, the point of re-opening Sand Point is to relieve the immense pressure on Bryant, Laurelhurst and View Ridge, which are all crammed to the gills.

Making Sand Point an option school would only draw more students out of the north end of the NE cluster, which solves nothing.

And why should we believe the district is capable of creating a compelling option program at Sand Point when they utterly failed at Jane Addams K-8 just last year?


Bruce,

I'm not sure I completely understand part of this. An option school could ease some of that overcrowding by offering a program that's appealing to even those who go to Bryant, Laurelhurst and View Ridge, for example a language program.

The bigger part of what you wrote, however, is that the Jane Addams didn't really fail, the district did nothing to make Jane Addams attractive as an alternative to other neighborhood schools. They announced a K-8 but then backed away from any sort of commitment to keep the program going. They never gave it a chance to succeed. If they made Jane Addams a neighborhood-based language immersion K-8, it would fill! That's 700 - 800 NE students, freeing up a nice amount of space at all the schools in the cluster, even Eckstein!

stu

Renee said...

Re: Jane Addams - I am hearing very positive things about the principal and the parent involvement. And, despite the positive impact of the proposed SAP changes to the Pinehurst/Olympic Hills/Lake City/Northgate neighborhoods, I think there will still be families in these neighborhoods who will choose Jane Addams until the neighborhood schools reach their full potential.

Melissa Westbrook said...

A few last thoughts on the Central Area. It has really been buffeted much more than almost any other area under closures and movement of programs.

Also, just on the point of centralized Option Schools, when I was on the Closure and Consolidation committee, we had suggested moving TOPS to Madrona (which was not filling its K-8 building) which would allow Montlake to become a K-8 in the Seward building. Do you think a Montlake K-8 would fill? I did. Plus TOPS would then be centrally located.

I'm not advocating it now because of all the shifting that has already happened in that area. Plus TOPS would probably need some portables/capital changes. But I sure would rather pour the money into TOPS at Madrona than to keep pouring money into trying to keep Montlake's building viable.

It's the big picture.

NE Parent said...

I'm not sure of the right place to post this, but I have a question about Broadview-Thompson and Viewlands. Broadview's stated functional capacity as of Jan. '09 was 723, with current enrollment of 717. But the new SAP appendices state that Broadview will have a functional capacity of 530 in 2015 (with 511 projected students). Why the decrease from its current functional capacity?

Plus the District proposes to spend $11.1 to open Viewlands--which borders Broadview--and put 420 students there. Maybe that capacity is needed, but why aren't we also using all of Broadview's space as well?

Michael said...

Frustrating is living on 39th Ave NE and being on the side of the street that designates us for SP. Its a six block walk to Bryant but now we are facing a DRIVE ( either bus? or ourselves ) to SP. Sorry, but I am not sending my little one over two arterials and a STEEP hill.

And now I am reading about the FRL levels versus the surrounding schools makes me think the gerrymandering is real...

Hmm. I suspect the FRL will even be higher since folks like us and in Hawthorne Hills can opt for private.

Maureen said...

Central Mom

It appears from District reports that they're looking for @ 20 percent attendance from local communities to option schools.

Can you link to your source please? Thank you!

adhoc said...

Renee said "I think there will still be families in these neighborhoods who will choose Jane Addams until the neighborhood schools reach their full potential."

Really?

Would you pick JA, a school with an uncertain future? The board has only committed to the school as a K-8 through 2012/13 (2 more years). Since the school offers a 9 year program I don't think many families will feel comfortable choosing it.

Further the school doesn't have many extra curricular offerings like a (free) YMCA after school enrichment activity program that almost every other middle school has, or despite the abundance of fields (soccer and baseball) the school does not have a middle school sports program (although I heard they are trying to get a girls soccer team together).

On top of all of this the school has a very weak Spectrum program with a total of about 15 Spectrum students spread between 9 grades. They also do not offer Algebra I to 8th graders as of yet (this is difficult and a set back for kids who are on the college track and need to take Calc/statistics in high school).

And lastly, the school has an 820A start time, while all of the other elementary schools have a 9-915A start time.

Please don't get me wrong, I am not discounting the effort of the JA parents. I know many of them and know they are working. I also think very highly of the principal. She is doing the best she can and is very effective.

However, this school, at this point, does not seem like a real, viable option to attract families away from Eckstein, and the popular well established elementary schools in the NE (Wedgewood, Bryant, VR, Laurelhurst).

In fact only 68 families listed the school as their first choice this past year (and that was prior to the district threatening to dismantle the program and re-purpose the building before it even opened). I predict it will get worse for JA this year as now families have learned of the schools uncertain future, and the district can't do mandatory assignments there anymore.

Dorothy said...

Ok, a couple of clarifications.

First, there do seem to be sidewalks now all long Sandpoint Way, but much of it is slapped together asphalt, not standard width.

Second. There are some 35 mph speed limit signs there, down from the 40 or 45 it used to be.

I know this because I just got back from Sandpoint Elementary where I met with KING5. Man, that place is a dump. AND it is occupied. NSCC vacated their lease in June, but there's currently a small private school using the school. I do not know the terms of their lease. How oh how are they planning to put 7 million dollars worth of work into it between now and September 2010?

Central Mom said...

So, Reader, I typed QA, Interbay and Magnolia addresses into the District's school finder tool. In all cases, the result gave me Old John Hay as the only linked McClure Service Area Option School.

Want transportation to an Alt middle school? Contact your friendly programming folks within the District and Inquire Within as to why no Alt Middle School designation. And Good Luck!

Central Mom said...

Hi Maureen...It's in the SAP...for currently unfilled seats at OPT schools, looks like @ 20 percent local attendance is what the district is planning. Except for Thornton Creek, which is significantly lower, and I'm thinking that's because of the proximity and quality of assignment schools nearby.

Renee said...

adhoc -

If you review the difference between the schools you noted and those I noted, you will understand why some parents will be quite happy to attend Jane Addams for elementary school.

That is some and not all parents.

While much of the discussion on this blog is of schools in affluent and fairly homogeneous neighborhoods, northern Seattle is very different. We have many well-educated middle class families and we also have many immigrants and lower income families all living together. Historically, most of my neighborhood families have gone out of reference area in SPS or to private school.

Maureen said...

adhoc Jane Addams also has an Ultimate team -- they beat TOPS on Saturday, I hear it was a really good game!

LynneC said...

Bruce, you're right on with your reminder that the whole point behind reopening Sand Point is to take pressure off of Bryant, View Ridge and Laurelhurst schools. But it's hard to see how that will happen with present boundaries. Incoming kindergartners will have to attend the school. But what really needs to happen is for the older siblings of those new K's to move to the school. The district needs some of that huge cohort of kids that are now first graders to switch to SP. But with the current boundaries and the prospect of portables, why would anyone want to move their older child from an existing neighborhood school to SP? And if no one moves their older kids there then what you have is a slowly mushrooming school that won't do much to solve the NE overcrowding. Particularly since I can see a lot of families choosing ASB or Villa -- attractive neighborhood options -- over SP. This plan just won't work unless the boundaries make more sense, or unless the district does something -- maybe language immersion is the answer -- to make the school attractive.

BTW, NE Parent you are right. We live up at the top of Hawthorne Hills, sent our kids to Laurelhurst (an easy walk or bike with just one crossing of Sand Point Way right at Princeton) but were always eligible for bus transportation.

Does anyone know how new teachers will be assigned to newly opened schools? Will they be the folks floating around in the district pool of teachers that no school wants to hire? Will there be incentives for teachers from established schools to be part of building a new school program? Is there a sense that the district is even thinking about any of this at this point?

Di said...

(this is Di vs Dj, incidentally)

Bruce, I agree an option school might not be the answer... my point is that there needs to be better dialogue between the district and SP-area parents on exactly how this school is going to be operational within 10 months and why families should feel good about sending their kids there, because I don’t know a single family happy with that school as their proposed assignment.

Just off the top of my head, if not option, how about a N end APP? Or why can’t AEII/Thornton Creek move to Sandpoint and have Decatur a traditional elementary (what % of AEII is already bussed vs neighborhood, surely the district has crunched those numbers?) The last time there was a big bubble in this area, Decatur, U Heights, and Sandpoint were operating as traditional elementaries, and Jane Addams as junior high. Is it that difficult to take a look at the old maps and go from there?? If someone from the district was actually sharing their reasoning on how/why the proposed plan came about, I might find they actually know more than my rambling ideas. But I’m doubtful. I think this is more 'let’s throw a bunch of crap on the wall and see what sticks.' Whoever heard of creating “neighborhoods schools” by drawing boundary lines down non-arterials and asking elementary kids to cross 5 lanes of traffic with a rumor of no funding for even adult crossing guards next year?!

The more info that comes out, the more I think Sand Point as planned is a disaster. Yes, on the whole scheme of things a 28% FRL rate is not a big deal compared to the entire district, but in ‘our little hamlet’ I think the opening of SP as drawn today is 1) taking advantage of the low-income housing, clumping those families at SP as path of least resistance to move to the new school and 2) creating huge logistics issues for families that cannot safely walk, even more so if sib grandfathering doesn’t happen. It is going to take a long time to get the established PTA funding, parent volunteers, and after school programs that make Wedgewood, Laurelhurst, Bryant and View Ridge the schools they are. And we are indeed privileged to have such programs and parental involvement, but if we are embracing the idea of “neighborhood schools” then those schools are the caliber that this neighborhood is expecting. I’m not convinced that Sand Point can be all that or more as planned, much less in 10 short months.

Dorothy said...

"Just off the top of my head, if not option, how about a N end APP? Or why can’t AEII/Thornton Creek move to Sandpoint and have Decatur a traditional elementary"

Too out of the way for an all-north end draw for APP and too small for Thorton Creek. (which is listed in one of the new SAP documents as K8, btw).

I agree that SP is a disaster. I think many Hawthorne Hills families will be tempted to go private if they don't get choice seats elsewhere.

Another aspect of SP as disaster is that the Sandpoint Family Housing is transitional, so each family remains about two years. There's movement to change that, but I don't know if it has been changed. SP Elementary also encompasses Radford Ct, UW grad student family housing. Again, another population without long term stakes in the community. The Burke Gilman community is more stable, I believe. But just like the Hawthorne Hills community, probably not willing to uproot older sibs (assuming SP even opens K5) and would face the task of managing kids at two schools.

Renee said...

In all of this discussion of private schools, know that there has to be capacity to accept new kids into private schools. While it would seem that with the economy in the shape it is, many private schools would lose kids, that has not been the case. Many north Seattle private schools turn away students each year. Families may want to send their kids to private schools, but not be able to do so.

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

I hear you Renee. And I understand what you are saying about the demographics of the north part of the NE cluster, and how JA might look attractive when compared to Olympic Hills and Northgate. But the district is looking to JA to relieve pressure and add capacity in the entire cluster, especially in the over crowded areas (Eckstein, Bryant, VR, WW, Laurelhurst).

JA may be able to attract some Olympic Hills and Northgate families, but it won't attract many families from the other 5 NE elementary schools or from Eckstein with the new SAP boundaries and guaranteed access. I doubt a handful of Ol Hills and Northgate families will be enough to sustain the 800 seat JA k-8.

I don't think the school is doomed to failure however. I think it can not only be saved it could be wildly popular. First, I think JA needs and deserves a firm, long term, commitment from the district. Second, I think it needs a popular theme or focus, like language immersion, Montessori, etc. Then the school would probably grow and thrive.

Ravenna Jen said...

My first grader is currently at her reference school, Bryant, but we have now been drawn out of the boundary (we are quite literally on the wrong side of the street). My incoming kindergartner has been assigned to McDonald Elementary in the Latona area of Wallingford, across the U-District and the I-5 corridor from our neighborhood.

I spoke to both Tracy Libros and Sherry Carr after the meeting, and described the exact situation you mentioned, Melissa--a mandatory 2 school assignment if sibs are not grandfathered and no upper grades are planned for opening schools. Tracy demurred by saying nothing has been decided about McDonald yet, and upper grade levels have not been discounted. When I offered that the only upper grade level students who would likely go there were families that just moved to the area and that I suspected most families would opt to keep their currently enrolled children in their present schools, she simply nodded and told me to send an email to the SPS website. On the positive side, if they do open the full K-5 school, the school could possibly enjoy some of the lowest class sizes in the district, ha ha.

Sherry Carr agreed it was a strange boundary area and repeated her concern about a safe walk zone for the school (it currently stretches across I-5, and she noted the obvious drug activity in that area).

If the district grandfathers siblings, a great many of us will simply fade away and accept the plan. For example, I am fine with my kids going to Hamilton even though we are in the Eckstein walk zone.

Not figuring out this detail of implementation in advance of revealing the boundaries is, in my opinion, a public relations blunder by the district. My thinking is that the answer to sibling grandfathering is "no" but they don't want to say so. Or perhaps it’s yes for some schools, and no for some of the oversubscribed ones. In the meanwhile, parents are doing a lot of fretting about this issue, and will continue to do so until January, when the School Board votes on the transition plan.

Current SPS parents will not want to experiment with their younger children’s education on untested new schools such as Sandpoint and McDonald, particularly if their older children are enrolled in satisfactory schools such as Bryant and View Ridge. Conversely, it will be hard for the district to fill programs with only first born children and those who just move to the area, unless they eliminate sibling grandfathering. I think one of the keys here, as others have said, is to find a program so compelling, such as language immersion, that some parents are willing to take the risk.

h2o girl said...

NE Parent re: Broadview, if you're looking at Appendix C, note that is says the data is only for the K-5 levels at the K-8 schools. So that is the reason Broadview is only projected at 500 or so. Seems like they did it that way to have the numbers of the elementaries add up to the top number it says for each middle school.

This appendix is very interesting. I noticed that they're seeming to deliberately underenroll Roosevelt, which is for many the most popular/successful high school in the entire district. Why would they do this? I don't get it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

You should hammer home to Sherry Carr and Michael DeBell your concerns over walk zones. Both have expressed both interest and concern about this issue and I think would take it deeply to heart in any decisions they make.

Catherine said...

I don't know what the demand is in the area, but I would love to see a K-5 Montessori option in the NE. SP would be a great location for that.

Assuming SP opens as a traditional assignment school, what boundaries would work better than the ones proposed?

Central Mom said...

I think it's a lot more likely that the District tinkers with boundaries around Sand Point rather than putting in a special program. That area of the NE is blessed with some of the strongest schools in the system and other areas, speaking as a Central District resident, not to mention South End, are really lacking.

Either View Ridge or Laurelhurst will have to give up some of its students to change the Sand Point boundaries. Knowing the functional capacities at the schools, and the fact that Bryant is packed to the gills, so no boundary changes on that western part of the zone, what are the community-generated suggestions?

Roy Smith said...

I noticed that they're seeming to deliberately underenroll Roosevelt, which is for many the most popular/successful high school in the entire district. Why would they do this? I don't get it.

I wonder if they are allowing room for families that live in the newly drawn attendance area that would have not gotten into Roosevelt under the old plan (on account of the geographic tie-breaker making the de-facto attendance area a circle with about a 1.8 mile radius) and who would have opted for private schools as a result saying "yes, we'll take public high school if we have a guaranteed seat at Roosevelt!"

As it is, I think that guaranteed seats for those living in the attendance area and Roosevelt's popularity in general will combine to make it so that Roosevelt is always over-filled, at least for the forseeable future.

LynneC said...

Most logical boundary for SP would be to take part or all of Windermere, directly adjacent to the south. I'm guessing that this wasn't done because with the feeder school concept, shifting Windermere kids from Laurelhurst to SP means adding more kids to Eckstein instead of sending them to Hamilton.

Although this doesn't help with the overall walk zone issue because the school would still take primarily from neighborhoods on the other side of SP way, a couple of logical changes to the present boundary would be to eliminate the jog north at 57th and 58th Aves NE and keep the north boundary at 65th all the way east to SP way. At least that keeps View Ridge altogether. Then on the west, use 40th Ave NE (an arterial) rather than 39th as a boundary. BUT I'm guessing that the reason why neither of these things was done is that that would shift more kids from SP to View Ridge and Bryant schools, thus failing to relieve overcrowding at those schools.

Catherine said...

I could imagine moving Windermere to SP, and Hawthorne Hills to Laurelhurst. That would still mean crossing SP Way, but crossing at Princeton and then heading up 47th to Laurelhurst seems like a somewhat better walk from Hawthorne Hills. I'm not sure how to help the low income housing families.

Ravenna Jen said...

Knowing the functional capacities at the schools, and the fact that Bryant is packed to the gills, so no boundary changes on that western part of the zone, what are the community-generated suggestions?

Actually, the Bryant attendance area grew on the western boundary (from 15th Ave NE over to 12th Ave NE) and in one area, it now stretches north of its traditional NE 75th St boundary.

From my point-of-view, the traditional western boundary should remain at 15th Ave. NE, and the McDonald attendance zone should stop there, as well. This would prevent our neighborhood of University Park from being bisected by the Bryant/McDonald boundary, which runs down Ravenna Blvd. And the pocket neighborhood north of U Village--within walking distance of Bryant--wouldn't be sent across I-5 either.

Why add families to the attendance area when so many are being displaced?

Dorothy said...

Sandpoint Housing at Magnusson and Radfort Court could still go to SP, they are super close. But Burke Gilman ought to attend Laurelhurst, they are much closer to that. So if Windermere goes to SP, that leaves room at Laurelhurst for Burke Gilman. That increases/spreads diversity and reduces the disparity of low-income concentration.

The whole western edge of Bryant and Mcdonald in the U district. That's another big mess.

Eastlake said...

I appreciate all those bloggers throwing “a bone” by providing a few seats at our neighborhood’s school (Seward) within the TOPS program. But please understand the proposed Option School Geographic Zones are more than just buying off the locally aggrieved.

Our District should include Option Schools to challenge the mainstream, to vent dissatisfaction, or to experiment academically. But our existing system encourages political juggernauts protecting their “alternative” status quo.

Placing some neighbor-students (estimated around 20-30%) will help temper the castle-on-a-hill mentality natural among the alternatives. Geographic Zones will encourage program evolution over entrenchment, inclusion over isolationism.

So we need the delineated Geo Zones included into the November vote for more than just Eastlake’s few stranded students. We don’t want to undermine the momentum for change with delay.

Maureen said...

Eastlake You say:Geographic Zones will encourage program evolution over entrenchment, inclusion over isolationism.

I'm sorry, I absolutely don't understand this (and I am trying). I honestly don't see how saving spots for people who are there only because they can walk to the building will encourage "evolution and inclusion," unless by evolution you mean becoming more like a neighborhood school. If people with in the Zone wanted to attend an Option school, they were welcome to request it, just like everyone else--they were in no way excluded.

Please help me understand your point.

Maureen said...

Central Mom said (way up top!) It appears from District reports that they're looking for @ 20 percent attendance from local communities to option schools.

I'm sorry--I don't see a 20% of the school population target for Geographic Zone seats.

The SAP doesn't seem to have any numbers at all, and the Assumptions Appendix C (page C-1) says (no numbers for TOPS or Salmon Bay - weird - typo?):
• In order to maximize the utilization of existing elementary capacity within each
Middle School Service Area, seats that were not filled at each Option School based on changes in transportation eligibility were assumed to enroll a
percentage of students living within each Option School’s walk zone.
o AS #1 – 20% of students within the walk zone
o Orca – 15% of students within the walk zone
o Jane Addams – 25% of students within the walk zone
o South Shore – 25% of students within the walk zone
o Thornton Creek - 7.5% of students within the walk zone


But it says "seats that were not filled at each Option School
based on changes in transportation eligibility" I'm not sure that is the same thing as People in the Geographic Zone will fill 20% (or 25% or 7.5%) of all of the seats--just that some of the seats won't fill because of the lack of transportation -- so maybe 20% (or whatever) of the kids who live in the walk zone will end up filling some of those seats.


On a related note, it looks like (p. C-9) they aren't planning on Montlake or Adams being filled with attendance area kids as of 2015--so maybe it makes sense for the target for TOPS and Salmon Bay to be 0% so as to help fill the attendance area schools:

In 2015:

School, Functional Capacity, Projected Students Assigned

Montlake, 275, 180
Adams, 445, 393

In practice of course, even with no 'zone,' the nearby people would have the same chance as everyone else in a lottery--at TOPS that chance has generally been about 20%. With reduced transportation, it should be even higher.

Central Mom said...

I don't think "no zone" would fly with the active communities around Salmon Bay and Eastlake Maureen...and it would also not make sense given that Geographic Zones have been adopted by the Board as the first tiebreaker for Option Schools. That ship has sailed.

Good people can disagree about the size of the geographic zone, (and I think ALL people can agree that District enrollment projections are not exactly stellar) but I don't think a geo zone fight is going to do much to further the cause of alt schools in the eye of the District. And it isn't much fun to be in a community up in arms about the issue. Most folks I know would rather be doing productive work within their nearby school.

Sahila said...

You know... we dont really have to fight over who gets to get into the few alternative schools left...

What we need to do is turn around this Districts quite obvious strategy of killing off alternative schools (AAA, AS#1, Summit, movement of Nova into a smaller, poorer quality building, the 're-labelling' of Alternative to Option and re-designating a whole slew of non-alternative (in the strict pedagogical definition)schools and programme) and push for the District to open/replicate more alternative programmes...

Then we could stop fighting over access to the successful programmes and the beautiful buildings...

Charlie Mas said...

The District can manipulate the geographic zones in some pretty interesting ways. We all presume that they will extend 2-5 blocks around the school building, but there's no reason to believe that.

Consider the possibility that the geographic zone for any other Option school were drawn to engineer the disproportionate representation of a specific demographic - not just students who live close to the building.

Consider the possibility that the geographic zone for SouthShore might cover all of the Rainier Valley but exclude the more affluent communities on the lake or the middle class neighborhoods near the top of Beacon Hill. That would be consistent with the M.O.U. that the District has with the New School Foundation, wouldn't it?

If the geographic zone is big enough then no students from outside it would be able to gain access to the school. You might wonder why the District has been saying that living in the geographic zone doesn't guarantee assignment. That would be true if the school were over-subscribed by students in the geographic zone. That would require a zone much bigger than the few blocks around the building.

Why haven't we seen the geographic zones yet? Is it because they will be surprising and controversial?

NE Parent said...

h2o girl: Thanks for the Broadview information. I had missed that it was just the K-5 part, so that makes sense.

I can't believe how many big issues--including the geographic zones, transportation, sibling grandfathering, program placement--they are planning to leave to the transition plan. I would hope they give the community a real opportunity to provide feedback on this, but it will probably be similar meetings to the boundary "feedback" sessions, and scheduled over the holidays to boot. Not exactly ideal (or even mediocre) community engagement.

Charlie Mas said...

I have a friend who works for the District and is attending one or more of these meetings. He was concerned about how he would answer people's questions, but I pointed out to him how easy it really will be.

No matter what the question, the answer is "That hasn't been decided yet."

The trickier questions - the ones we want answered are: "Who will decide it?", "When will they decide it?" and "How will they decide it?"

There are no answers to those questions.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh! Wait! I just realized! The answers to those questions is:

"That hasn't been decided yet."

dj said...

Charlie, I suspect the reason the geographic zones haven't been rolled out yet is that they are going to be wildly, wildly different from option school to option school.