I won't go thru every single person's speech (there were 40 including me). Here are some highlights:
- number one with a bullet (again); grandfathering of siblings. Parents just have such uncertainty about what to do and how they could handle two little children (or more) at two schools. I spoke to this issue in my remarks saying, on the subject of reopening Sand Point, Old Hay and McDonald that all should open as K-5s in order to give those parents the option to have their children in one school. The issue is quite pressing in the NE as many parents may not be able to move Child 1 from an out-of-attendance area school to their new attendance area school where Child 2 will be. There just isn't space. (I have a feeling that even if they grandfather siblings, there will be forced cases of people with children at two schools. I'm just not sure if the district could really guarantee all parents one school for two kids even if the parents are willing to move the older child.) However, this is indeed an issue over all the district as parents from the Ballard area and West Seattle weighed in as well.
- There was one advocate for Madrona being an Option school who made the point that ALL the other K-8 were option schools.
- There was a contingent from Loyal Heights. Apparently in the new version of the maps, the southern boundary was changed that leaves many people who live very close by Loyal Heights now unable to attend it. They brought signs.
- There was some advocacy for concentric circles and distance being used instead of lottery as a tie-breaker. (One person claimed that some elementaries have different holiday dates and early release dates. Really?)
- A guy from the group Friends of McDonald pointed out that his group had received grant money from $15K to $29K to renovate the play area. The irony is that the way the boundaries are drawn, those people are not in the McDonald area. (These are the kind of committed parents that the district wants; I'd rethink those boundaries.)
- Still issues over the boundaries in parts of West Seattle that people feel are going to unfairly influence socioeconomics in that area.
- There were a couple of speakers on the issue of the north boundary for Ballard High School. It is troubling that so many kids will have to take two buses to get to Ingraham when Ballard is so easy for many to get to on one bus. It's one thing to have to get up early to take a bus to school but waiting for two Metro buses (and Metro not always being on-time) is worrisome.
- A very interest take from a single mom with a teenager and an elementary student. She said she does her best to be involved at her children's schools but she worries for parents like herself who want their children at good schools. She said a good school is one with involved parents so that she knows, going in, that there are people there supporting the school.
- One woman got a lot of applause for what she terms "soft or bubble" boundary for those who live within 3 blocks of a school boundary. Under this overarching amendment (which would negate redrawing boundaries), if you live within 3 blocks of a school, you get a ONE time option to decide which one. After that, you are committed to that school for all your children. It's an intriguing idea because it would certainly make a lot of people who are unhappy over walk zones happier. I have no idea how doable this is in reality.
- One guy who lives in the Tangletown area (this is between Green Lake and Wallingford) noted (as I had as well) that Tracy referenced "new" data on McDonald that changed its boundaries. His question was "where is this data so we can review it?" Another speaker said that the new McDonald boundary really made no sense because NE 50th is such an obvious one for that area.
- One woman advocated for assignment news to come sooner so that parents can have more options on what they want to do. I agree but I doubt staff can do it because of the VAX. She said her school, John Hay, had done its own survey on how many people want to go where and could share the info with the staff. Which begs the question: will staff/Board listen to any data that isn't generated by the district?
- More than one complaint surfaced about the amount of time given to this round of maps versus the first round. (There were also people who claimed they had "no idea" the maps could change and were blindsided by the changes. C'mon. This process has been in motion and I suspect the talk of the parking lot/grocery store/playground. At some level you have to accept some responsibility to keep up.)
- Dr. Carol Simmons, a long-time educator, pointed out how skewed the diversity at the high schools was going to become under this plan. Ballard would now be 72% white versus Franklin's 92% students of color. Roosevelt would be 74% white versus Rainier Beach High's 92% students of color. It's a pretty solid point.
- Another example, Roxhill Elementary, would see their F/RL change and they would be almost 90%. As well, two of its boundaries are on the streets where the school sits. This one needs to be looked at for sure.
- One person pointed out a disparity in that some neighborhoods's 5th graders have the choice to move together to middle school and others have been separated. For example, Green Lake kids have been split, with some going to Eckstein and others to Hamilton while Laurelhurst has been kept together and can move as one to Hamilton. (I did ask a Laurelhurst parent why I hadn't heard more from that area about the Hamilton assignment. He shrugged and said, "We got Roosevelt" and that they feel Hamilton is on a quick rise up.
- There is worry in West Seattle elementaries that they are full now and will face the same issues as NE elementaries in just a couple of years. They asked about the plan if that happens and complained about Cooper being closed. (Yes, and there's that ripple I keep speaking of from previous events.)
- There was one speaker for Orca and grandfathering transportation. We haven't heard much about this but I suspect many people don't realize they may not get transportation to the school they are currently enrolled in.
- "We need a rational and sensible sibling policy."
- "We are a victim of our own address."
- "Kids have a right to be with their friends." (That's an interesting social point; should it be part of the consideration for a SAP?)
- "We need to know the plan for future boundary changes; this is nerve-racking."
From his research:
Under the pending boundary proposal, Laurelhurst Elementary’s enrollment will fall from 462 (current) to 305 in 2015 (according the distric’ts projection on page 8: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/DataBook_11042009_Section3.pdf
And my research indicates that the 305-student estimate is far too high. I have checked every address in the 2009-10 Laurelhurst Elementary student directory against the current boundary proposal. (see attachment “Laurelhurst Enrollment.xls”) Looking only at published addresses, 45.6 percent of current Laurelhurst Elementary families (129/283 families, 168 children) live outside the proposed boundary for Laurelhurst Elementary.
The student directory does not include address data for 59 families. Even if all 59 no-address families live within the boundary, then Laurelhurst enrollment will fall by 37.7 percent. In the very-best-case scenario Laurelhurst would enroll only 288 students. In the more-likely case, Laurelhurst would enroll closer to 251 students.
Dr. Libros: I encourage you to look more closely at the assumptions underlying Laurelhurst’s projected enrollment. Perhaps the district’s enrollment model shows Laurelhurst exporting and importing equal numbers of students, which is not the case. Such an assumption could explain the 305-student figure. Very few students leave the neighborhood for other public elementary schools.