Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Map Errors Acknowledged

From our friends over at the West Seattle blog, as mentioned previously here, the Denny/Sealth boundaries did not completely overlap on the maps. This, of course, raises the question of why the joint campus for the two schools if not to feed populations (even though technically middle schools are NOT feeding into high schools). Turns out, the map is wrong. They are supposed to completely overlap. Here's what Steve Sundquist told a West Seattle Q&A session this (according to an attendee):

"Mr. Sundquist stated that the “revised” map will be announced on November 3rd, presumably at a scheduled meeting at the John Stanford Center Auditorium in SoDo at 4 p.m."

So, true to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's word, nothing will change at these meetings or until the introduction of the plan on November 4th. (The introduction is on November 4th, not the 3rd as the above participant states.) Then the final vote is November 18th.

So here's the issue. We all have concerns about various mapping issues. The only area I haven't heard about mapping concerns is the SE but I'm sure they have some as well.

So how to get these, in a coherent fashion, to the Board? Here's what I would suggest:
  • that if you are from a region, you ask your PTA to join with any other like-minded PTAs to create a map of SPECIFIC changes to your area. (This is mainly so we don't have millions of full-size maps floating around confusing the issue.) Also, the more people who sign on to an idea, the more play it will get.
  • Make sure the Board gets a copy. They seem to be a visual bunch (Sherry Carr asked for an overlay of current reference boundaries with the new ones and Harium had asked for a chart as well). Get them what they need to help visualize the issue.
  • Offer to take them out on a tour. Many of you know your neighborhoods and why some streets don't work or walk zones are not usuable.
  • If tours won't work, make a video of the walk zone to whereever your issue is and send that to them.
  • Give them real reasons why they should make the change. I don't think saying it divides neighborhood kids is enough (not that it isn't a reason but not enough of a reason to make a change). I would just say that my son didn't go to the same middle school as some of his best friends (one was at Whitman and one at a private school) and they are still good friends to this day. I look forward to attending several high school graduations, not just one. Make it about safety and natural geography/traffic patterns than what you want for your child.
We can't wait until November 4th when new maps will be created. The Board needs to give feedback to staff as soon as possible so that staff can then say how they came up with the borders and why/why not they can't be changed. There is less than 2 weeks from introduction to final vote.

I mean, staff did say something amusing at the Work Session presentation on boundaries. They told the Board that they could give changes up to the day of the vote. Nonsense. The staff would buck any new idea or change within 48 hours of the vote. The window of time gets smaller and smaller.

Maybe we could start, in the comments here, a list of issues and see what we come up with. I know already people are unhappy with/concerned about:
  • the whole Sandpoint zone
  • a small chunk of Bryant down in the southwest around U Village
  • the border on 6th Ave NW dividing Greenwood and Whittier
  • the north end of Green Lake
  • where the high school boundary should be between Ballard and Ingraham

52 comments:

Steve said...

You can also make an annotated "walking tour" using Google Maps. This might be an interesting way for people to share their concerns. I will work on one for my own area so people can see what it looks like, and also post instructions for creating one. Not as good as taking your board member for a walk, but if every neighborhood did this and shared their maps, we could all look at them and this could be a defacto "standard" for the way information is presented.

In the meantime, here's an example of a walking tour of an area near Niagra Falls (randomly chosen). http://bit.ly/VqCge

seattle parent said...

It may be a map error acknowledged by Steve Sundquist, but not by the district. Don't count on it until you see the new map. From the WS blog, a reader noted this:

Maria Goodloe-Johnson actually said something different at the last school board meeting than what Sundquist told parents. (the meeting is on tape on the SPS’s School Board website @ 71 minutes, part 1)

MGJ: We also know we need to look again at the feeder patterns as well as the boundaries for West Seattle.
also: These maps have already been widely distributed. These maps won’t change at this point.
(later- updated maps will be presented at the Nov. 3rd worksession)

So, MJG did not actually commit to any changes, just that “we need to look again.”
Parents, you need to get involved & voice your opinions!

Not only are the feeder patterns currently proposed out of alignment for the Denny-Sealth kids, equitable access to rigorous programs needs to be addressed also in both of our WS high schools.

Don’t kid yourselves- north end WS kids will have very little chance in accessing Sealth’s honors & IB programs. If only 10% “choice seats” are seat aside at Sealth for lottery, that’s approx. 100 kids for all 4 grades, or only 25 seats at the entering 9th grade level. Take away for sibling priority, and very few seats will be left for all the SE and north WS kids who want to attend.

Last year, according to the district’s website, 196 kids from “WS north” attended Sealth, and 193 from “central, S & SE areas” attended Sealth. That’s almost 400 kids who potentially would be looking to get the 100 seats available in set-aside “choice” seats (actually less, if the district allows sibling preference at the HS level).

emeraldkity said...

I asked Tracy Libros a ? last night at McClure, because I didn't understand why some elementary schools were so close to the edge of their boundaries ( I suspect it is to make the school population- economically diverse- but I haven't crunched numbers yet).

It wasn't just our closest school that is 2/10th of a mile away but children would be assigned almost two miles away to a completely different neighborhood, but other elementary schools especially in south and west seattle were placed very close to the edge of the automatic admittance zone.

( they also seemed to say that waitlists would be assigned by sibling not proximity)

I made a comment that Seattle has more dogs than children( 45% more!) and are they using hard numbers to determine where children live who are not currently in Seattle public schools?

Libros replied that the census data from 2000 is too old to use and the 2010 data has not been gathered yet- so that is a big NO to the hard data- .

I didn't get to hear much of the actual spiel as I was in the foyer handing out links to this blog, but I did catch that Debell was there as well.

I feel somewhat numb to this whole process- not only am I very concerned about the millions of children who are homeless in south India due to flooding ( where my daughter volunteered earlier this year), but to sit in the McClure cafeteria, it seemed that the greatest concern was that there would be enough Montessori seats and that Montessori would be continued through middle school. ( full disclosure- I don't like Montessori- it was really restrictive for my kids and we pulled them out)

I also didn't get the emphasis on that high schoolers HAD to go to high school with the same kids from K-8. Now IMO, give them a predictable pattern, give them choice but are high schoolers going to shrivel up and die if they have to make new friends?

I realize most of them have elementary schoolers, but 18 yr olds don't hit their birthday automatically being able to handle adulthood- you have to help them build skills- like making friends along the way.

Charlie Mas said...

I suppose this is obvious but no one has explicitly stated it yet:

If the Denny and Sealth attendance areas overlap and match, then the Madison and West Seattle attendance areas will overlap and match, too.

What will this mean for Madison and West Seattle?

As seattle parent noted, there is a lot of exchange between West Seattle and Chief Sealth. There are a lot of families in the north part of West Seattle who prefer Sealth because they consider it the local high school that offers more academic challenge.

As has been discussed in other threads, it is unclear how many seats left open by local students will be available for out-of-area students. The District has to hold some of those seats in case the local students return to their attendance area school in later grades. So even if 100 students from the north part of West Seattle want Sealth and 100 students from the south part of West Seattle want West Seattle, they may not be able to swap.

Roy Smith said...

I didn't understand why some elementary schools were so close to the edge of their boundaries ( I suspect it is to make the school population- economically diverse- but I haven't crunched numbers yet).

I think people are getting too worked up about this point. There are some truly inexplicable areas (like the Sand Point reference area, for instance), but in general, I think its useful to keep in mind that the geographical distribution of elementary schools and the geographical distribution of population simply aren't the same in some areas, and as a result, there will be some odd-shaped attendance areas and some schools that are close to the edge of their attendance area.

This happens in nearly every school district, by the way. Take a look at this map of Edmonds School District elementary attendance areas. Even those unfamiliar with the geography of south Snohomish county will notice some lines that seem really strange on this map. At least a third of the elementary schools are very near the edge of or at one extreme end of their attendance area, and there are some spots where the line runs right through a cohesive neighborhood sending neighbors kids on one side of the line to one elementary and ones on the other side to another elementary.

LynneC said...

Roy, I think that's a good point. For example, I was surprised in looking back at the map of the existing View Ridge reference area to see that the school is pretty much up in the northwest corner of its own reference area, and that students living just a couple of blocks northwest of the school are in the current Wedgwood reference area.

Karrie said...

emeraldcitykity said

"but to sit in the McClure cafeteria, it seemed that the greatest concern was that there would be enough Montessori seats and that Montessori would be continued through middle school."

Can you explain more about what you mean by this comment?

My perception from reading about these meetings so far is that the format does not truly uncover issues but is a forced "group feedback" format that SPS folks in attendence can decide what to answer.

Bird said...

Libros replied that the census data from 2000 is too old to use and the 2010 data has not been gathered yet- so that is a big NO to the hard data-

Someone concerned about advocating for sibling access sent out a questionairre to our kid's class. They were collecting data on how many siblings are going to be coming into the school in the coming years. I couldn't help but notice that the school district has never asked me how many kids I have and whether I'm planning to send them to SPS. I'd be happy to tell them.

I could even help direct other parents in my neighborhood to a website or form to let SPS know that they have preschoolers who will eventually attend SPS.

Does SPS have some other highly reliable data on the number of kids in a reference area? I hope so, otherwise they really should be asking.

WS said...

Hey, thanks for kicking off more discussion here. Regarding introduction on November 3rd, my impression was that it would be the same thing as the maps last week - a work session the day before - and indeed, I see that on the calendar - so while the "official" board meeting component isn't till the next night theoretically, at least per Steve Sundquist, we will see revisions the day before
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/calendar.dxml

Meantime, one person at last night's meeting at Schmitz Park Elementary suggested the information about the Denny/Sealth "error" should be posted on the district website as soon as possible and if it hasn't been, I'm checking with the district shortly to see what their plan is - Tracy at West Seattle Blog

Amanda said...

Another walking safety trouble spot is the new more northern boundary of B.F. Day Elementary (moved north from 50th to 52nd.) it requires children, that live north of 50th and west of Phinney Ave., to cross Market St./45th St. which are major arterials. All of these families are within or right on the district's "Walk Zones" for West Woodland Elem.

If you are affected by this or other walking safety issues Sherry Carr will be hosting her community meeting for District 2 on Saturday, October 17th from 8:30-10:30 at Bethany Church (across N 80th St from Daniel Bagley.)

whittier07 said...

The new boundaries under the SAP have created the following dangerous crossing areas in the NW:

The new boundaries for Whittier have students crossing 15th and 8th.

The new boundaries for West Woodland have students crossing 60th.

The new boundaries for BF Day have students crossing Market Street.

This is unreasonable, especially with crossing guards being cut from budgets.

Roy Smith said...

Have the walk zones for the elementary schools changed with the new SAP? The attendance areas certainly have, but my understanding of walk zones is that they are established in accordance with state guidelines, which are independent of the attendance areas.

For instance, in the case of Whittier, the walk zone is a rectangle bounded by NW 65th St, 3rd Ave NW, NW 85th St, and 24th Ave NW. The old reference area fell completely inside of this except for a few blocks on the southern edge, and some students who lived in the Whittier attendance area were expected to cross 15th or 8th as part of their walk route.

The argument that a new reference area will create new crossing hazards may not hold any water at all, since, as far as I can tell, the walk zones have not been changed.

TechyMom said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see walk zones expanded past the 1 mile mark where there aren't dangerous streets or physical barriers like water. At places where walk zones are bounded by arterials, the district (or the city) could decide that crossing guards are cheaper than busses.

To be clear, I don't think this is a *good* idea, but it could happen.

Transportation isn't defined yet, and won't be until after the maps are approved. No option to vote on the whole thing as a package, by design.

Central Mom said...

Roy, what you said is my understanding as well. I'm sure that walk zones will be reviewed for the new areas, but they are different beasts than attendance zones.

As I mentioned in a different thread, the walk zone committee isn't even a district committee. It has reps on it from the district as well as various city agencies. Their mission is student safety and (not said) not getting sued.

Dorothy said...

The walk zones in NE have changed. According to the old map, I am in two walk zones. I suspect that means Bryant and Laurelhurst. Both of them are walkable for me, both under a mile and crossing necessary arterials can happen safely at controlled intersections.

However, on the new map, I am right in the middle of a brand new NoWalk zone. And the rest of Hawthorne Hills, all of which was in at least one of three walk zones is now in Sandpoint or no zone. Which makes no sense to me.

(Oh, and a big chunk of the new Laurelhurst attendance area is in the Sandpoint but not the Laurelhurst walk zone.)

hschinske said...

Whittier's only a few blocks from 15th NW. I can't see how the walk zone could NOT cross it. What's the alternative -- busing from a quarter mile away?

Helen Schinske

Central Mom said...

What's the alternative -- busing from a quarter mile away?

Yup. They offer it right now. You can put your child on a bus for literally one block if the District walk zone map says there isn't a safe crossing spot for you.

Amanda said...

Our family and neighbors were previously in the walk zone for West Woodland and are now in a no-walk zone for B.F. Day. Increasing the number of students walking to school is a great goal, I don't understand why they have created boundaries that contradict the safe walk zones the district has already established.

whittier07 said...

Sorry, I guess I wasn't clear on my previous post. The Whittier Attendance area has been changed ... quite a lot!

Before, the boundary was 8th ... students were not expected to cross 8th. The new boundary is 6th, so now students will have to cross 8th instead of walking (safely) to Greenwood Elementary which is on 3rd.

More area has been added to the west across 15th which means more students crossing 15th.

The southern boundary has been moved north to 70th ... students that once walked EASILY to Whittier now will have W. Woodland as their attendance area - crossing over 65th.

The northern boundary has been moved to Holman, I would hope these kids would get busing.

The reference area for Whittier used to fall mostly within a safe walk zone ... with the new attendance area, kids may be in the walk zone BUT the walk zone isn't necessarily SAFE.

Dorothy said...

CentralMom, could you give more information about this safe walk zone committee? Did they meet recently to change the map? Because it sure looks like big differences in what is defined as safe for my address.

The new map has the Bryant walk zone very small. Does this mean that they will now provide a bus for kids in Bryant attendance area that live East of 35th Ave NE? They've not done that before.

whittier07 said...

Haven't they already said that they drew the boundary for Ballard High too large? Will the redrawn map not be released until November?

Central Mom said...

So, I think I see what's causing at least some of the confusion about walk zones. On the maps page of the SAP site, they've put links to proposed boundaries, but they've shown current walk zone maps.

I am guessing, but do not know, that they will have to revisit every walk zone after approval of boundaries...at least I am imagining this would be yet another part of a transition plan. Sure, you can extrapolate using current data, but I can't imagine that they won't be issuing new site by site walk zone maps for 2010-2011.

Dorothy said...

CentralMom. The first page of Appendix F has new walk zones that contradict with the current walk zones.

Carolyn said...

As far as elementary boundaries and walk zones, the SAP lists 7 factors that were considered in drawing boundaries, and notes that these are "balanced", but "not weighted":
1) Proximity of students to schools
2) walk zones
3) Efficiency of school bus routing
4) Demographics, including anticipated changes in enrollment
5) Opportunities for creating diversity within boundaries
6) Physical barriers (water, etc.)
7) Elementary to middle school feeder patterns

Also interesting, if you look at the "siblings in same school" website (www.petitiononline.com), and go to their "Sensible Solutions" (under "learn more" tab) it looks to me like many of this groups (dated 6/16/09) were adopted. Specifically, their "solution 3" suggests opening Sandpoint, McDonald, Viewlands, and Old Hay and specific changes to boundaries shifting north and west. This may have just made sense to the board, but they may also be looking to roll out the SAP that minimizes the sibling problem.

In this respect, factor 1) is interesting. If you look at the attendance pattern maps for the schools (maps are in the "archive" section of the student assignment plan), you will see, for example, that the population of students at West Woodland is skewed north, and the boundaries were moved north.

I do think they tried to honor factor 5 - creating diversity - except for the bizzaro Sand Point boundaries.

It could be that I am giving the board too much credit - but maybe not. Maybe they did try to balance all of these things and it was just damn hard.

My point is: if you want a boundary changed, I don't think you work a single issue. You have to consider the balance of all these items, and the impact of the change you suggest on other boundaries.

Sandpoint, I would say is a good example of an easy place to suggest a change to make a more balanced school and possibly improve the schools walk zone.

btw, I am not especially happy with the lines drawn as they affect our family.

NE Parent said...

Carolyn said: "This may have just made sense to the board, but they may also be looking to roll out the SAP that minimizes the sibling problem."

While a number of people have suggested--and continue to suggest--that the District consider the sibling issue when they draw the boundaries, Tracy Libros has said unequivocally that siblings were NOT considered when the maps were drafted.

I continue to believe that if the District slightly "underdrew" certain popular elementary schools (like JSIS) it could grandfather siblings--giving current families predictability that their kids won't be split--and also keep a little wiggle room so that the school won't be overcrowded once people move to be within the boundaries--giving future families that same predictability. (I don't live near JSIS--just think this generally makes sense for popular schools like this).

whittier07 said...

They certainly didn't try to minimize the sibling problem at Whittier or West Woodland ... both of these schools had large areas that were shifted to other attendance areas. Whittier had the south end of its current area shifted to Adams & W. Woodland and W. Woodland had it's southern boundary shifted to BF Day ... which helps fill BF Day but leaves Whittier & W. Woodland with MAJOR sibling problems. Also, both Whittier & W. Woodland are pretty full which doesn't leave too much room for older siblings to transfer with their incoming K-students = parents with children at two different schools.

Carolyn said...

re: West Woodland - look at the attendance pattern map. There are more students north than south, so the shift in WW boundaries may have reduced the sibling problem for that school. But it didn't solve it.

Still, sounds like the lines drawn had nothing to do with sibs.

My original point stands: if you're concerned about boundaries make your argument about more than walk zones. Address the other issues and consider how other boundaries would need to move.

whittier07 said...

Remember that some of those students in the north used to be in the Whittier reference area ... so, when these families now have an assignment to their new attendance area school (W. Woodland) what happens to their older siblings that can't get a space at W. Woodland? Parents with kids at two different schools are going to have a hard time with drop offs/pick ups, volunteering, attending school events, etc. The new SAP doesn't change anything for me but I really feel for these families that sent their children to their reference school and have now been drawn into a new attendance area.

Central Mom said...

Dorothy...That Appendix F overview map isn't granular. Looks like a rough snapshot linking the SAP to walkability. The school by school walk routes, I believe, would still have to come post-boundary decision. Tracy Libros' staff should be able to clarify the map intent and walk route map timing.

Elizabeth said...

On 10/13/09 at 11:07 AM Roy Smith said...

There are some truly inexplicable areas (like the Sand Point reference area, for instance),

...

I don't think Sand Point is inexplicable once you remember that we're also building middle school feeder patterns.

If you explore walk distances using gmap-pedometer, it appears that the entire proposed Sand Point reference area is within a 2.0 mile middle school walk zone of Eckstein. In fact all of Bryant, Sand Point, View Ridge, Wedgwood and all but the tiniest portion of Green Lake appear to be within the Eckstein walk zone. Only Bryant shows no evidence of being "right sized" to the Eckstein walk zone.

Similarly, McDonald's Northern border appears to have been largely chosen to stay within the Hamilton walk zone.

Our middle school population should be about half that of our grade school population (3 years vs. six). However, I would not be surprised to hear that there are more of them to bus. The proposed plan manages to get more than half the surface area assigned to Eckstein within its walk zone, with no Eckstein buses needing to pick up kids South of NE 90th.

A couple caveats: I haven't found a reference for 2.0 miles for middle school walk zones for the new SAP, and Gmap-Pedometer is not a high-accuracy tool.

Keepin'On said...

Whittier 07 I would gently point out that what you describe at Whittier is happening all over the city.

People who have invested even more time in the system, with kids in high school, are being split apart as well, ie; one kid at Ballard and one who will now be assigned to Ingraham. Or Roosevelt/Ingraham. Or Ballard/Ranier Beach. The list goes on.

The district needs to grandfather entry level siblings only for one year, while this plan shakes out.

WV=fuglybil. No kidding.

NE Parent said...

Elizabeth, thanks for the link to that gmap tool. I used it to map Sandpoint Elementary, the Magnusson transitional housing, and Radford court. All of them fall just outside the 2-mile walk zone for Eckstein. This is also consistent with Appendix E to the new SAP showing that none of those areas are in the Eckstein walk zone.

Also, my understanding is that the 1-mile elementary/2-mile middle school walk zones come from state law. I don't believe a district can refuse to offer transportation if people fall outside those limits (though I've never seen the actual law on this if someone here has that information).

I do agree that some of the middle school assignments seem to be loosely tied to walkability to a middle school.

whittier07 said...

Wasn't trying to be a "nimby" ... just posting what's being discussed at Whittier. I'm actually really wanting to hear from other elementary schools who feel that the boundary changes don't necessarily make sense.

Elizabeth said...

NE Parent -- what you get for distance depends on how strict you are about placing the location of the school (front door? on the property? through unused gates?).

Thanks for the heads up on the appendix E maps. They do seem more conservative than gmap-pedometer.

I do think transportation costs are a big part of what's going on, and would say that "loosely tied to walkability" might be a little understated.

Dorothy said...

Central Mom. There are walk zones and walking routes. Feet First seems to have created walking routes. That's not the same thing as a walk zone, is it? When I tried to view a walk route, my browser crashed. Twice. Probably my fault. But I could view the old walk zone map that showed all of Hawthorne Hills in one, two or three walk zones. According to the map on the cover of Appendix F, I am very clearly in a No Walk Zone, which makes no sense and is clearly different compared to the older walk zone map.

Dorothy said...

Elizabeth, I think you nailed it. Some of the seemingly inexplicable boundaries are to right size elementaries not for functional capacity of walkability or such, but to provide full chunk feeders to middle school. I've never thought that was a wise idea. Do we really need to preserve complete elementaries going to the same middle school? Sure, it's nice, but look at all the costs in busing elementary school kids and the problems with creating a new, very small school that will not serve its local community. Why will kids be bused north to Sandpoint when the kids right next door will be bused south? Is it really because we are putting middle school feeder patterns as a higher priority?

dj said...

Whittier07, there are also a lot of parents who put their kids in choice schools (1) under the "old" system and (2) with the understanding that the district was planning to maintain the "old" system sibling preference, which it publicly was planning to do until this spring. Those parents were playing by the rules too, and are in exactly the same position as parents who opted for their reference schools who are now drawn into another school.

whittier07 said...

Absolutely! Whittier (as the NW cluster Spectrum school) also has the problem of parents who wanted their students in a Spectrum program and now their younger siblings will have a hard time getting in the school. Does North Beach still have an autism inclusion program? If so, that's another program where parents will have a hard time keeping their siblings together.

Keepin'On said...

I do think that is part of the district's goal.They are counting on this to force all families back to their neighborhood, by not accounting for sibling. I am not saying this is bad or good - it is just what their motivation is, and has been clearly stated by the district staff.

"you want a special program that bad, parents? Then you will have to choose - what is more important - neighborhood or program."

The problem lies in people who, in good faith, went to their reference school and now find themselves drawn out.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Couldn't the District at least have a permanent sibling clause for people whose older child(ren) attend their current reference school? That would certainly be fair, esp. if they did not provide transportation.

I know this won't help parents whose older children are at an out-of-reference school, but it is, at least, a start. I would assume that people living close to any of the borders might be squeamish about enrolling their first child in a school with the knowledge that the border could shift sometime in the future for subsequent children. That might be enough to make a new family go the independent or homeschool route.

And don't think more independent schools won't spring up in response to this chaos. Some of the best, relatively affordable, non-religious and popular independent middle schools are less than 15 years old (Seattle Girls School, LWGMS, Explorer West).

emeraldkity said...

there is a North Seattle education resource fair this Sat (17th) 9-11 am

St. Alphonsus Family Center
1415 58th Street NW
Seattle , WA 98107
This is a great opportunity for busy parents to quickly survey many local public, independent and catholic schools available to residents in North Seattle. Free event. Free parking

Public schools from what I can tell arent represented but invited,
If I was SPS admin,I would want to size up the competition, you can bet applications will go way up.

Mum o 2 said...

I live west of greenlake and have been moved from Daniel Bagley reference area to West Woodland. According to the appendix F map I am not in a walk zone. Yet my son and I walk to Daniel Bagley together every Monday. Admittedly, the Aurora crossing makes me VERY nervous. All I can do is be careful and model that for my children. The walk to West Woodland will be .2 mile farther and cross 2 big streets (65th and Phinney/Greenwood). And it will be up over Phinney Ridge - good exercise!

I think that our fair city is filled with big streets, LOTS of cars, and lots of landscape barriers (hills/water/ravines/etc). I really don't think it is possible to map out the Elementary school boundaries in a way that everyone's walk is safe and easy. I will just deal with what we have to do and make it work somehow.

I am not happy that I may have children in two different schools and am hoping for a sibling preference program - hopefully one that does not involve yanking my older son out of his established comfort zone and thrusting him (and me!!)into a new community. If that is the choice offered - I may choose to stick with the two different schools.

emeraldkity said...

The walk to West Woodland will be .2 mile farther and cross 2 big streets

Funny this is how far(.2) we live from West Woodland but our kids would be assigned to Fremont.
I guess Tracy is right.
You have to draw the line someplace!

I would like to see comparative numbers from how many kids can currently walk- to how many kids in the new plan.

dj said...

I agree with Mum of 2. There is no possible way that the district can do all of the following things around every school: put every elementary school in the geographic center of an assignment zone; split no neighborhoods; have every house have a safe walk route to school; have each school filled but not overcrowded; make certain that each person attends the closest school to his or her house; ensure that there are no places where people who currently attend the same school and are friends won't attend different schools. We aren't building suburban developments; we have preexisting schools in preexisting places, and we have to work with what we have. To think otherwise is to be unrealistic.

I am sure that there are places where either the district has its capacity projections wrong or where there are relatively simple changes that can be made to the maps that will be more logical on one or more of the factors I've listed above. But the maps don't fail because every single person doens't get all of the things I've listed above.

Bruce Taylor said...

Dorothy, I don't think the Sand Point boundary is gerrymandered because of middle school walk areas. It's gerrymandered because Sand Point is meant to ameliorate the overcrowding of View Ridge, Bryant and Laurelhurst. The proposed boundary takes a bite out of all three of those attendance areas.

Walkability to Sand Point is not good for most of the school population (although I think the crossing at 65th is perfectly safe). But capacity is a bigger problem. Bryant can't accommodate five kindergartens.

I'm more concerned with Sand Point's disproportionate FRE numbers under the proposed boundary. I don't believe swarms of parents will go private because they don't like the walkability -- ASB, Villa, UCDS aren't any more walkable. But parents will opt into private if Sand Point's FRE numbers are dramatically higher than the surrounding schools. That would accomplish capacity management in a perverse way, but it would also make SP too expensive to keep open.

There aren't huge numbers of kids in Belvedere Terrace and Windermere, but they need to be assigned to SP. In trade, some of the low-income housing should be assigned to the other three elementaries.

Jane said...

Does anyone know why Bagley Elementary goes from 15% free/reduced lunch to 50%? This is a significant change. My guess would have been that there are a lot of neighborhood kids that currently go to Bagley - so I can't figure out why there is such a big change.

Dorothy said...

Bruce, I am basing my points on some analysis done by someone else. I read it on an email list, so don't feel like I can share that or the name of the person without asking.

The analysis (which looked good to me) showed that the real demographic problem is Bryant, not VR or Laurelhurst. Sandpoint Elementary, however, is better situated to take attendance boundaries from VR or Laurelhurst, but geographically best from Laurelhurst. Instead, Sandpoint is taking the Eastern portion of Bryant reference area. Looking at a map, it makes much more sense for that south east corner to be reassigned to Laurelhurst. That would also increase diversity and decrease the concentration of lowe income kids at Sandpoint. However, that area is in the 2 mile walk zone to Eckstein. So they could be using that as the overarching factor. Minimize sending anyone in the Eckstein walk zone to Laurelhurst, because they are too committed to the feeder school concept and do not want to send kids in the Eckstein walk zone to Hamilton.

Mum o 2 said...

Jane - as far as I can tell it is a combo of a few things. The northern boudary moved up to 97th. There are new low-income housing developments in that area.

If you look at the demographics map you can see there is a 'hot spot' of red signifying a large school-age population in the area north of Bagley. This is over Wilson-Pacific which is an old school. There is a rumor that they use this address for all homeless children and children with addresses that must be kept confidential. I do not know how true this is and I do not think that anyone will tell us if this is true or not. I am not sure I should be even perpetuating the rumor!! I am guessing that most of the shift can be explained thru the developments in the 'hot spot' area.

I am hoping this means DB will get an additional staff person for Title I. Anyone know what the % cutoff is for this??

Elizabeth said...

On 10/14/09 at 2:59 PM Mum o 2 said...

There is a rumor that they use this address for all homeless children and children with addresses that must be kept confidential. ... I am not sure I should be even perpetuating the rumor!!

...

My opinion is that you shouldn't perpetuate it, though it would be appropriate to politely ask someone in a position to answer with authority.

Although the 2000 data is not as current as one would like to absolutely refute the rumor, a visit to the US Census Factfinder website will demonstrate that in 2000 there was (a) substantial population density in the area, (b) substantial numbers of kids 5-and-under, and (c) a high poverty rate.

There are plenty of reasons why families may not be feeling a high level of trust in the district administration, but I don't think gossip and rumor are really going to help us get to an eventual position of functional trust or, if that's not possible, detente.

Mum o 2 said...

Elizabeth - you're right. I should have followed my instinct!

Elizabeth said...

on 10/14/09 at 11:54 AM Bruce Taylor said...

I don't think the Sand Point boundary is gerrymandered because of middle school walk areas. It's gerrymandered because Sand Point is meant to ameliorate the overcrowding of View Ridge, Bryant and Laurelhurst.

...

Ah, but you see, there are many ways to ameliorate that overcrowding without making the Sand Point region look the way it does. Overcrowding issues do not have to be solved by opening a school close to the location of greatest congestion.

For example, had the district proposed re-opening Cedar Park Elementary (3737 NE 135th), they could have then shifted the Olympic Hills reference area to the West and South and shifted all the other schools proposed to feed to Eckstein to the South. There's plenty of room within each such reference area to do just that while still keeping each school within its reference area. (And probably increasing the number of kids who can walk -- most of the proposed elementary areas within the Eckstein draw have schools located in their Southern half.)

Opening a new school close to the greatest congestion is likely to be a less disruptive plan as the number of boundaries that move dramatically should go down.

The district could instead open Sand Point but divide the currently proposed joint Sand Point and Laurelhurst areas on line running from the NW to the SE so as to balance expected density of kids with the capacity of the schools. This probably would have split children from low income housing developments more equitably between Laurelhurst and Sand Point. It also would have had the same number of children crossing the highway, though at more points.

I am proposing that they didn't do it that way because it would have required offering bus transportation to more middle school students -- everyone in the Laurelhurst reference area, plus half of the Sand Point area. The proposed plan buses middle school students from all of the Laurelhurst reference area plus (probably) a very small part of the Sand Point reference area.

klarue said...

Howdy, I am the person that sent the email that Dorothy is quoting regarding Sandpoint and NE demographics.

SPS used to have full market share analysis on the website. I can't find it any more but I had a downloaded copy that I shared with Sandpoint families. The analysis showed how many students that attend SPS live in each reference area. In the case of Bryant this was over 800 elementary students and expected to be over 900 by 2013, Laurelhurst on the other hand only had 250 students in the reference area and was expected to remain at about 250 by 2013.

Those numbers clearly showed that Bryant needs to have its attendance area shrunk (or just clone into two schools) and LH could expand its attendance area in an neighborhood SAP plan. The more natural place that Laurelhurst would have expanded into is now proposed to be the Sandpoint area.

Under the choice system, families in the Bryant reference area have been turned away for years now. Under the new SAP, the district can not simply assign these families to whatever school happens to have space or more correctly, has space that can be converted to an extra classroom.

Elizabeth's analysis is also correct and there are many ways to help this crowding and depending on which new buildings are opened, then the new boundary lines get drawn. Sandpoint and McDonald are both in the south part of the cluster not ideally situated to help with this crowding in the Bryant area as Sandpoint adds 250 seats in an area that is already well served by Laurelhurst.

As Sandpoint is just too close to Laurelhurst to have a natural attendance area, the logical choice would be to make it an option school, just as they are doing with old Hay on Queen Anne. However, making this an option school doesn't solve the Bryant attendance area problem.

The old UHeight building would have been perfect as it was much larger and located much closer to the Bryant dead zone. However, that building was sold three weeks ago so Sandpoint is the only building available in the area.

The district is trying to solve multiple problems in the NE with this plan roll out and the maps show their best attempt to manage competing priorities.
1) guaranteed assignment for students currently in oversubscribed areas and dead zones.
2) creating a feeder pattern for all the north end elementaries into the three comprehensive middle schools that are geographically too close to make natural feeder patterns. In other words, everyone lives close to Eckstein and very few families live close to Hamilton.