Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Public Hearing on Boundaries

I attended and spoke at the Public Hearing for the SAP Boundaries last night. All the Board were in attendance as well as the Superintendent. The newly-elected Board members were not there and I saw no press that I recognized. The testimony was audio-taped. I would say there were roughly 50-60 people in attendance (not a big crowd at all).

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."
Lastly, I had a dad come to me at the end of the meeting with some interesting data about Laurelhurst. Bruce Taylor is another one of those number-crunching parents I love. He figured out that Laurelhurst is likely to come out of this plan way underenrolled. And, that if they invest money into Sand Point, it might be wasted as many parents, if they learn there is room at Laurelhurst, will not enroll at Sand Point. You could end up with Sand Point being at 150 or less and then it will simply not work. His premise is that even if you do open it, it should be an Option school to draw in students and parents.

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.


Robert said...

I got an email from Kay that she has been out of town (in Texas) since the election... I believe she returns tomorrow.

Central Mom said...

The advocate to make Madrona K8 an Option school was incorrect. Not ALL the K8s are Option Schools. Broadview-Thompson isn't. Catherine Blaine isn't.

The lack of consistency lies w/ the District's continuing refusal to categorize/define alt school programs.

FHS85 said...

I was under the impression that the "boundary bubble" was within 3 blocks of the boundary line, not the school.

Maureen said...

There was one advocate for Madrona being an Option school who made the point that ALL the other K-8 were option schools.

Nit picky point: This is not true: Blaine and Broadview Thompson are not Option schools.

There was one speaker for Orca and grandfathering transportation

The TOPS people are worrying about this as well--over half of our kids won't be transported after the transition. And, possibly worse, if they then are driven (so to speak) back to their own service areas-they will not have a guaranteed spot anywhere since they won't generally be in entry grades.

I'm thinking that there should be an additional tiebreaker for Option schools during the transition: Kids who are coming from an out of service area Option school get preference after siblings and before geographic zone. (Note--do not take this to mean that I feel that all alternative schools are equal and interchangeable--I don't.)

I don't understand the 'bubble' thing, at all.

Melissa Westbrook said...

FHS85, you are right; I misread my notes. I'll correct it.

Central Mom said...

Friends of McDonald have a really strong point. Not that the District should have known about their work...but now that they do, it should be taken into boundary consideration. If the community has been taking care of the school grounds in the District's absence...and then they're cut out of attending the reopened school...that's the kind of community relations the District really doesn't need.

zb said...

I don't get the comment about racial make up of the schools (i.e. Franklin v Ballard). It's true that there's a huge disparity in the proportion of different races in the schools. But, the new SAP does *not* make this worse. Franklin is 5% white now (95% non-white). Under the new assignment plan, it's predicted to be 9% white (91% nonwhite). So, although a huge difference between Ballard & Franklin will still exist, it won't get worse.

This complaint argues for a FRL tie-breaker for choice spots, but it is not a flaw of the new SAP compared to the old one.

h2o girl said...

Re: the two buses to Ingraham from Ballard - also remember many kids will be waiting for 20 minutes on 85th & Aurora at around 7:15 am for their 2nd bus. Dangerous and so frustrating. At the community meeting at Ballard High last month Michael DeBell told us he was advocating for yellow bus service for the Blue Ridge area - I emailed him later to please consider it for all the kids that would have to wait on Aurora.

Here was his response:
"I spoke with Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson this morning about the challenges of using Metro in the proposed Ingraham area and she was quite receptive. A formal plan will have to wait until January when we vote on those implementation issues, but I believe the Board recognizes the problem."

So hopefully they'll do the right thing here.

Jen said...

I was the speaker right after Melissa W and my take on the night was slightly different. My opinion is that by far, the most important point brought up last night was logical school boundaries. By this I mean that people close to the schools should be in the schools. This was spearheaded by the Loyal Heights groups. They had quite a turnout, and good for them. My neighbor was the second speaker and we both spoke on being very close to Bryant, but surprisingly taken out of the boundary area. McDonald and several other schools were brought up on this point also.

I think the point about the limited time from the second proposal (read "last proposal") to the vote was spot on. People were reeling to get something together for last night's meeting and gather community support. In addition, many of the boundary changes were unexpected by people who thought because of proximity, they were safe. Several instances of historically being in the boundary, staying in the 1st proposed boundary, and suddenly being drawn out of the boundary were made. I think that is where the shock came from. I think everyone knew the maps were changing, but they didn't know there was any concern/argument/mixed opinion about their particular streets or neighborhood.

Yes, sibling grandfathering was brought up a lot too, so I did want to confirm that.

Also 2 people spoke about the Eckstien/Roosevelt jazz/orchestra opportunities that were not availalbe elsewhere. Their children wanted/needed to be at those schools, but because of changes in boundaries, they would be at Hale and Hamilton (?) without those programs.

h2o girl said...

Oh and once again Melissa, THANK YOU for attending and speaking at this meeting, and reporting back on it for us. You rock.

hschinske said...

h2ogirl, as I've said before, it's possible to change at the Northgate Transit Center. Still not ideal as far as time goes, but safer than Aurora.

Helen Schinske

Bruce Taylor said...

Regarding Sand Point, here is the larger point, which I made directly to Directors Sundquist, DeBell and Maier after the meeting:

It makes no sense to spend $7 million to open Sand Point Elementary (350 students with portables!) while Laurelhurst holds 174-211 students less than its functional capacity.

The empty seats at Laurelhurst will likely be filled by Hawthorne Hills families fleeing Sand Point Elementary, whose projected FRL population will be dramatically higher than Laurelhurst, View Ridge and Bryant.

Sand Point will crater, and the $7 million BTA investment will be wasted.

Instead, Sand Point should open as an option school with a compelling program -- language immersion for grades 1-5 -- with geographic preference for the Bryant neighborhood, similar to what South Shore wants. The geographic preference will help to ensure that Bryant -- where overcrowding is the worst -- will get relief. Language immersion is the single best way to get rapid parent buy-in for an option school, and it will work perfectly at Sand Point, because the ELL program is being moved from Bryant to Sand Point. Language immersion works better with native speakers in the classroom.

Parents around the district have asked -- over and over and over -- for language immersion. The District's typical pushback is that language immersion schools are difficult to staff and roll out quickly.

That's baloney. If the district wants to do something, they'll do it. For instance, a year ago during the NE capacity management process, board members told us that Sand Point couldn’t reopen because it had tenants, because it had no certificate of occupancy, because it had no playground, because its capacity was too small, and because it would take three years to build out. Then the district changed its mind, and suddenly SP will open on less than a year's notice.

Staff has been working hard on boundaries, and converting Sand Point to an option school at this late juncture would makes it very difficult to project enrollment for LH, VR and Bryant. But if Sand Point opens as a K-5 instead of K-1 and if the district guarantees that all siblings will be placed together, the school could fill pretty fast.

In addition, Sand Point International students could be given the option to attend Hamilton International Middle School, which would ease overcrowding at Eckstein.

A small additional investment in language immersion could make Sand Point a slam dunk.

But I'm worried that with the adoption deadline only a short time away, the board/district will say time is too short, and they'll piss away seven million BTA dollars on a building that's predestined to fail.

Time is short -- program placement suggestions were due weeks ago -- but the District released these new numbers for Laurelhurst only last week. (305 kids in a 450-seat building? Come on!) The school board needs to take more time and get this decision right.

blumhagn said...

Some more data: in the 2008-09 school year, only about 80% of the kids living in the Laurelhurst assignment area (again, 2008 assignment area) went to Laurelhurst. You would get some of those students back if they were choosing to go to neighborhood schools.

This plan will cause massive turnover across the District. At the high school level, only 30% (Ingraham) to 60% (Ballard) of the students at the schools live in the assignment area. The other schools are between 40% and 50% or so.

On the transportation side, one idea that some parents are pushing is yellow bus transportation from hubs to high schools, particularly to Ingraham and Cleveland where Metro access is awful. In the North Beach area, you might have two or three yellow buses that all leave from the Whitman/Soundview Playground parking lot at a given time. The benefit to the District is you might be able to run two trips with one bus because you're not running around the neighborhood picking up kids by the ones and twos. Transport home at the end of the day might be problematic, but I would sure give up a Metro pass to have direct transport to school.

Bruce Taylor said...

Blumhagn, where are you finding that 80 percent figure? That doesn't look right to me.

StepJ said...

Thank you Bruce for speaking out for not only Laurelhurst, but all of the NE, and the best interest of District resources.

I know on a different thread, but I forwarded your Estate Tax comment all over. Tears - it was so funny.

Di said...

blumhagn - i have a feeling that the 20% you quote are not likely to come back to laurelhurst under the new plan, i know of a handful of families that have transferred out of laurelhurst following their K/1 year to go to spectrum/app programs, so w/out those programs, they aren't coming back.

it would be interesting in the NE to study the numbers and see how offering spectrum at every school might impact the enrollment of current spectrum vs non-spectrum schools. i don't see much mention of how that impacts enrollement but it seems if just the next school over has spectrum, there are families willing to make that move.

it would also be interesting to see how many app-eligible kids aren't going to lowell, but would move out of their neighborhood schools if there were a N of the cut APP choice.

i also wonder what a language immersion program at sand point might do to the AEII nubmers - i know serval families at AEII that wanted a program other than traditional, not necessarily AEII, but that's the only other local choice. language immersion at sand point would probably pull at their numbers too.

joanna said...

There were also speakers concerned about the new Steven's boundaries. One who use to be within the Stevens boundaries and me regarding the continuing disregard for at least 300 to 400 students and their neighborhood who were once in the TT Minor area and who have been dispersed again and again. Again Lowell has only attracted around 60 of those students most opted for other schools. Areas where schools are proposed to be open in other areas have no stronger demographic, proximity or neighborhood needs. Madrona would have a better chance of successfully serving as the option that it wants to be if TT Minor was allowed to serve its neighborhood.

I didn't have time to For instance some tried following the Montessori program which had a waiting list at the time of the move. Then after working to make Leschi a good place they were divided between assignment areas to Gatzert, Stevens, and Lowell where, oh right, the current student is not guaranteed an assignment, only the newly entering kindergartner and perhaps anyone else new to the District. I am not sure why the needs of this very significant number of families and their neighborhood continue to be ignored.

leslie said...

What's the likelihood any amendments will be made by the Board at this late date? They vote next week and I just don't see them going against staff recommendations although I remain hopeful.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I could see them doing amendments, I really could. It's happened before (not so much with this Board however).

I could see someone trying to get the bubble amendment through but during transition (as a test) and so we wouldn't see that on this vote.

I could see trying to correct a few boundaries but then it ripples out to other boundaries.

Luz said...

The data the district provided regarding functional capacity is disturbing in the NE, most of the Eckstein elementary schools will be over their capacity by 2015 (note that Sand Point Elementary is expected to be under its capacity):
School/Functional Capacity/Proj. Students 2015:
Bryant 520 520
Green Lake 302 285
John Rogers 325 336
Olympic Hills - w/add'l portables 370 385
Olympic View 445 437
Sacajawea 245 253
Sand Point - Opening Fall 2010 325 291
View Ridge 570 589
Wedgwood 445 452

On the other hand, most of Hamilton's elementary schools will be under capacity by 2015:
B.F. Day 420 324
John Stanford 425 344
Laurelhurst 425 305
McDonald - Opening Fall 2012 395 338
West Woodland 445 443

I believe Bruce is right, which makes the situation even worse.
I share the idea that if the district doesn't make Sand Point Elementary attractive, Hawthorne Hills and Windermere residents might just opt for another school, Laurelhurst being a very attractive option.

Who will attend SPE? ELL students and those students whose parents don't know how to apply for a school other than their attendance area.

NE Parent said...

Bruce & Luz are right on with their analysis of Sand Point, Laurelhurst, and the related issues. Sand Point is a disaster waiting to happen--and with a $7 million price tag.

Wouldn't it be logical to, at a minimum, try to shift some more students into the Hamilton zone since it is predicted to be underenrolled? And we all know an international school/language immersion at Sand Point would really help fix the issue (combined with some boundary re-draws). Hawthorne Hills residents will be lined up to go to Laurelhurst rather a fledgling school, though unfortunately they won't get transportation (which would save the District money, as HH residents will get a bus to Sand Point).

Does the District have the will to get this right--or at least try to solve the issue? I find it very frustrating that the staff are not going to revise maps and that the directors have to propose their own amendments to fix things. That seems daunting for a director. I hope one of them is up for the task and gets adequate staff support.

zb said...

"In the very-best-case scenario Laurelhurst would enroll only 288 students. In the more-likely case, Laurelhurst would enroll closer to 251 students."

I don't get this analysis at all. Many schools in NE have surprisingly high "out of neighborhood" numbers (Laurelhurst's situation is a bit different, since it gets those numbers without having a Spectrum program drawing people in). But looking at the current numbers as a predictor of what the neighborhood balance will be in the future is flawed. First the analysis here is completely flawed, since it presumes that all the non-Laurelhurst families at Laurelhurst will leave (not to be expected at all). Second, many of similarly situated families (i.e. Bryant, Ravenna) will make different choices about Laurelhurst going into the future, because they will be guaranteed attendance in their neighborhood schools, without fear that they'll be bussed much further away. Third, the absence of a distance tie-breaker means that Sand Point families are no more likely to opt for (or have access to) Laurelhurst than families in, for example Madrona. Fourth, there will be absolutely no requirement that schools be filled to their "functional capacity" with out-of-neighborhood kids (I'm still waiting to hear how this will be done). All of these factors will influence the ability of Sand Point families to "opt out" of their neighborhood school in favor of Laurelhurst.

Now, I think that there should be a language immersion school, but I would still put it at the Addams K-8, not at Sand Point. There, it might also help relieve pressure on Eckstein's program. And, I think that advocating for a language program is different from the issue of opening Sand Point.

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is what is so difficult in areas that are overcrowded. How will people make their decisions? If we knew the district was grandfathering siblings, you might have a better picture. But in the NE, because of the wealth of good elementaries, many people did not choose their reference elementary. Then you had the boundaries drawn and now people have a different reference (attendance area) elementary.

I think the point about Sand Point is what is the district doing to make this school succeed because the price tag is so high? I said at the public hearing that we know Old Hay got mentioned, from the start, as a K-5 Montessori. Then Director Carr said it might be good for McDonald to be an international school (I don't favor this because I don't see the point of having two so close to each other). And Sand Point?

What we know is that their area got drawn to have the highest F/RL of any NE elementary (by far). It just looks odd. Then, we find out that they are, over a couple of years, going to migrate ELL out of Bryant. Have ELL at Sand Point might lead you to think that it would be a good place for an international school. But these Sand Point people have nothing to hang their hat on.

(I do think the suggestion to make J. Addams an international school is also a good one because it would be a continuous time of learning a foreign language all in one school. And, it would be a great draw to take the pressure off Eckstein.)

Okay, if not international at Sand Point, what would be a good draw? Montessori? Something new? My worry over something new is that staff is stretched thin and I'm not sure I believe they can think up something worthwhile and implement it.

Luz said...

Sand Point and Jane Addams could both become international schools, particularly given that there no international schools in the Eckstein area. Having Jane Addams as an international school would provide the needed middle school path for this plan to be successful, and might actually be attractive to a lot more people with the added benefit of relieving some stress off Eckstein.

Luz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zb said...

What we know is that their area got drawn to have the highest F/RL of any NE elementary (by far)."

I don't know how you're classifying NE elementary, but that's only kind of true, if you only include Laurelhurst, Bryant, View Ridge and Wedgwood (11, 6, 5, 9) compared to Sand Point's 23. And, 23 is not "by far" higher than 11, in my book, in any case. If we include all Hamilton & Eckstein schools as NE, Sand Point falls smack dab in the middle in terms of FRL (and the same is true if we use just Eckstein schools as a reference).

I think as a newly opened school, Sand Point would face challenges not faced by the established schools. But, the size of its FRL population, substantially lower than the district mean (of 40%) is not the concern I'd hang my hat on.

I'll also admit to a suspicion that the Sand Point FRL population might not be as difficult to educate as the traditional population, since a fair amount of the apartment housing in the area is occupied by University students (and fellows). But, that's just guessing with no data.

The data comes from the last page of Data Book 2 (and I used the new SAP numbers, with no assumptions).

adhoc said...

"Having Jane Addams as an international school would provide the needed middle school path for this plan to be successful, and might actually be attractive to a lot more people with the added benefit of relieving some stress off Eckstein."

I 100% agree with this statement, and in fact I advocated for this very thing when the district announced they were closing Summit and opening a new school in the building.

But isn't it to late do anything now? The school opened this year as an Environmental Science and Math school. A principal was appointed, staff was hired, and almost 400 children are attending the school. What would you say to all of those families who chose the school/program and are now enrolled?

Bruce Taylor said...

ZB, under the new boundaries, Laurelhurst stands to lose 40 families to Sand Point, 28 to Bryant, 15 to John Rogers, 15 to Wedgwood, 14 to View Ridge and 7 to McDonald. LH currently enrolls 1.35 children per family. Laurelhurst exports a VERY small number of students -- it's a China vs. USA imbalance of trade.

To address your thoughts:

"First, the analysis here is completely flawed, since it presumes that all the non-Laurelhurst families at Laurelhurst will leave."

Question for you: Using the current proportion of out-of-area families, Laurelhurst 2015 will have 251 neighborhood kids in a 450-student building. What do you think the number of out-of-neighborhood kids will be in 2015, after the last of today's out-of-boundary students "graduate"?

"Second, many of similarly situated families (i.e. Bryant, Ravenna) will make different choices about Laurelhurst going into the future, because they will be guaranteed attendance in their neighborhood schools, without fear that they'll be bussed much further away.

Wha? You just argued that out-of-boundary families -- many of whom were force-assigned to LH because neighbor schools were full -- won't leave Laurelhurst. But now you're saying they will -- or that they'll choose the neighborhood school for incoming K -- making Laurelhurst emptier.

Third, the absence of a distance tie-breaker means that Sand Point families are no more likely to opt for (or have access to) Laurelhurst than families in, for example Madrona.

But families in the Sand Point boundary will have far greater INCENTIVE AND MEANS to ask out of Sand Point into LH.

INCENTIVE: Sand Point Elementary FRL numbers may be in line with other schools around the city, but families in SP's boundary aren't comparing to the rest of the city! SP's FRL will be 209% of LH, 256% of WW, 383% of Bryant and 460% of VR. From a consumer standpoint, Sand Point Elementary looks like a loser.

MEANS: Look at the boundary map. Many families assigned to SP will be geographically equidistant to Laurelhurst. LH is walkable from much of Hawthorne Hills. Transportation is not so easy from Madrona -- or from John Rogers, for that matter -- once yellow buses are discontinued.

Fourth, there will be absolutely no requirement that schools be filled to their "functional capacity" with out-of-neighborhood kids."

Fantasy Island is not located in the NE cluster. Laurelhurst will not sit one-third empty while kids attend classes on the stage and in the play court at Bryant.

Now, I think that there should be a language immersion school, but I would still put it at the Addams K-8, not at Sand Point.

That would work fine except for one thing: the Sand Point location is required to relieve overcrowding at Bryant.

And the board members I spoke to after Monday night's meeting believe that Jane Addams needs room to grow at the middle school level so it can relieve overcrowding at Eckstein.

Sand Point can and will work FABULOUSLY as a language immersion option school with a tiebreaker preference for Bryant families. It will relieve overcrowding at Bryant and throughout NE Seattle. ELL will be perceived as an asset, not a liability. If it's too hard to ramp up with Japanese and Chinese, then make it Spanish-only.

Otherwise, the $7 million is wasted on Sand Point. It would be another reason to vote no on the BTA levy.

Chris said...

We noticed at Peter Maier's community meeting that the Hamilton service area appears NOT to have an option school. The map is confusing because the WORDS Salmon Bay are in the Hamilton area but the building icon (and the actual building, I can attest) are in the Whitman area.

This in my opinion is a(nother) good argument for making McDonald an option school.

Of course Maier said "we can't do that, we'd have to re-draw all the boundaries." To which I would say "you also want this plan to last another 20 years, therefore do it right."

zb said...

"But families in the Sand Point boundary will have far greater INCENTIVE AND MEANS to ask out of Sand Point into LH. "

Oh, plenty of families at Madrona (to use the chief exemplar) will have incentive & means to use Laurelhurst, too. So, in 2015 Laurelhurst (using neighborhood boundaries) will be under-enrolled by a bit over 100 students. Those 100 spots will be available to the whole city (and, there will be 300 kids at Sand Point). I simply don't believe that would "destroy" Sand Point.

How many open spots will Laurelhurst have next year? That's the real question for how it will affect Sand Point's enrollment.

Dorothy said...

"I'll also admit to a suspicion that the Sand Point FRL population might not be as difficult to educate as the traditional population, since a fair amount of the apartment housing in the area is occupied by University students (and fellows). But, that's just guessing with no data."

Maybe it would make sense to get data then. Do you know the above assertion is true? What is the general number of elementary school age kids from the UW housing units? How many elementary school kids are at Magnusson, Sandpoint Transitional Housing? How many are from Burke Gilman Place apartments (subsidized low income housing)?

I don't get the ELL thing. And note, this is with a new model of ELL that is supposed to get kids into regular classrooms much faster. View a presentation at a recent board meeting (one before last?). How many students? All the ELL kids from the entire Eckstein service area?

So the new data book has SPE at 23% FRL? That's a big change from the original boundaries and data which was 29%. Yet the boundaries didn't change that much? How many Windermere families go public? Currently because of concentric circles, they are low in the tiebreaker status which makes private more attractive. How many are at ASB or Villa and are perfectly happy there?

h2o girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zb said...

So the new data book has SPE at 23% FRL? That's a big change from the original boundaries and data which was 29%."

We have to be careful, 'cause there are the "boundary" v "boundary w/ assumption" numbers. And they can be off by that much. But, 6% of 300 is 15 kids -- I just haven't seen that as a major difference.

Although I have speculation about the population based on living in the neighborhood, I'm not sure it's relevant -- 23% is low, by district standards. The characteristics of those students might make a difference to families who have other options than to choose Sand Point, but the numbers aren't relevant to SPS (it's all pretty ethereal calculations).

I think I don't understand the impetus (reason) for Bruce's calculations -- is it to get a language immersion school at Sand Point? A concern that Sand Point will be opene (to high cost, only to close again for being under-enrolled)? As it is, there are a number of schools that are "under-enrolled" (Laurelhurst & Montlake, for example). Laurelhurst will have 100 spots while Sand Point has 300 students. Let's say 50 Sand Point kids end up at Laurelhurst (because they made up the majority of the interested population -- they won't be 100% of it). That will leave Sand Point with 250 students, which doesn't sound too bad (and is still bigger than Montlake & McGilvra).

zb said...

(Oh, and that's all in 2015 -- but we have to get past 2010 first).

Bruce Taylor said...
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Bruce Taylor said...

ZB, the "impetus" for my calculations was to contact LH parents who are potentially going to be affected by sibling grandfathering.

So I entered every single address from the LH student directory into the district's boundary tool. Using those figures, I determined that LH has 251 students living within the proposed boundary. I've sent the spreadsheet to Tracy Libros and to board members.

You claim 100 open seats at Laurelhurst. That's a distortion. By 2015, there will be more than 200 open seats.

Bryant and Hawthorne Hills families ALREADY don't want to cross Sand Point Way, a 40 mph state highway with poor visibility and only two crossing points (Princeton and NE 65th).

The FRL disparity is another reason for them to jump ship. The disparity might not look like much to you, ZB, but you won't be choosing. I could be wrong, but I believe that will be a major problem for parents in this neighborhood.

So, what do I want? I want careful stewardship of BTA dollars. I don't want to see $7 million pissed down the drain on a school with no chance to succeed (and which is projected to add only 134 seats of capacity).

LH enrollment 11/9/2009: 462
Projected 2015 LH + SPE: 305 + 291 = 596

$7 million to add 134 seats in a school that will probably fail?

I'm not married to language immersion. Show me a program that makes better sense, and I'll support it. But the NE wants language immersion, and it dovetails with the ELL move from Bryant.

Ryan said...

Concentric circles for a tiebreaker are a GREAT idea. It keeps with all objectives set by the plan and helps as you said people just over a line or street. I think it would really bug me if I was right on a line (so close to being in) and a family 4-5 miles away got the one spot up (after all the reference area kids are in). This is a good idea - have you told or written the board? I guess this only comes into play after siblings right? SO if there were 20 extra spots and 10 siblings wanted to go and then 15 other kids wanted to go....IS this what you are suggesting? In this case - all 10 out of zone siblings get in first then of the 15 that want the other 10 spots....you go by concentric circle? Makes a hell of a lot of common sense. Ryan

Ryan said...

Does anyone have some insider info on the issue of granfathering?

Dorothy said...

There are so many unknowns about SPE. You have an affluent neighborhood that has been shut out of the lottery by distance tie breaker for many years, a neighborhood that might be predisposed to go private anyway. Will they enroll in SPE? You have two groups (Sandpoint Family Housing and UW family Housing) who are by their transitional nature, not easy to predict long term how many kids of different ages, not to mention other apartment complexes. You have an unknown number of ELL students, from how large an area? With a new ELL service model. What will that mean?

You have the fact that North End families accepted to APP attend at lower rates than south end -- so that's an option for some (and then will they choose Lowell kindergarten and try for sibling tiebreaker?). If as Bruce says LHE will have significant room, then some will choose that. TC is right nearby and we still have the Gale Shapley Algorithm (do we?). Jane Addams might be more attractive than the complete unknowns.

Seven million dollars sounds like a lot of money for a school that will max out at 350 with permanent portables.

And on my block some of the anger from folks comes from the fact that there are THREE closer elementary schools than SPE. People could accept one, or maybe even two, but three just seems hard to swallow. I know it's an accident of geography, but in order to really see that rationally, one must spend time poring over the details. But it still seems hard to accept that in a neighborhood where the old assignment plan worked really well (until they all had babies at the same time, kinda a tragedy of the commons thing.)

Maggie Hooks said...

The advocate to make Madrona K-8 was likely the PTSA president. I think her rationale is flawed, in that it mainly consists of Madrona has a longer school day and being around middle schoolers is not for everyone. But I think she is casting about for a way to advocate for the families who will be displaced when the neighborhood largely fills the kindergarten next year. Neighborhood families are gearing up to come to Madrona and we won't easily allow the SAP to be subverted or the school to be effectively highjacked.

Maggie Hooks said...

typo -- to make Madrona K-8 an option school.


KW said...

Jumping back to some of the original posts (I meant to post this last night)....

While I agree that grandfathering siblings is huge (and will impact my family), Jen is correct, over half the 40 speakers last night (22 I believe) spoke directly to the issue of being “just over the boarder of their perceived neighborhood school.” She is also spot on that much of the frustration came from neighborhoods that felt securely tied to their local school, being nudged out when the lines were adjusted last week. Makes you realize that “being drawn out” could literally happen to any neighborhood – even those close enough to hear the bells ring.

The soft, or Bubble Boundary amendment, (choice for homes within three blocks of a boundary line) addresses a majority, if not all, of those odd ball boundaries brought up last night. It would eliminate the need to individually adjust each and every boundary line a little to the north hear and a little to the east there and would even serve to inform the district – based upon choices made by homes on the boundaries - when the time to redraw the lines. The McDonald group is a perfect example – we truthfully can’t expect the staff to know all the nuances of a neighborhood. But with the soft boundaries the current families could have a modicum of choice and the district would be able to gather data on where those lines really ought to be. And it is very doable. The district staff has been managing choice for years and will continue to do so for the High Schools. It may not be fun, but it is certainly manageable. While I support the neighborhoods arguing their individual causes, we do have an opportunity to push forward a single amendment that would address most all of them put forth thus far.

Huntese said...

In regards to the McDonald Post. I spoke at the Hearing regarding the McDonald Boundaries. Just to clarify I spoke about my personal story, which includes being a member of "Friend of McDonald" and finding Ironic that I would not be in the Boundary for the new School. But just to clarify I am NOT NOT speaking for "Friends of McDonald". The woman who spoke before me was a teacher at Seattle schools, but she was speaking as a Parent. She brought up being a teacher as point to say she can see many side of the issue. (She was not speaking for all Teachers in Seattle) Likewise I was speaking for myself.

adhoc said...

"Concentric circles for a tiebreaker are a GREAT idea. I think it would really bug me if I was right on a line (so close to being in) and a family 4-5 miles away got the one spot up"

But wasn't the whole point of the "option" seats so kids from all over the district could choose schools that would meet their needs? Should only kids that live near Roosevelt have access to the award winning jazz band? And only kids near Ingraham get the IB diploma program? And only kids near Ballard get bio tech?

I understand where you are coming from, but, think how you would feel if you were a family in the RBHS boundary?? What if RBHS wasn't acceptable to you??? And you couldn't get into Roosevelt, Garfield, Ballard, Hale, Ingraham, Sealth, etc., because you'd be to far away. All the spots would be taken by families that live closer.

I see both sides, really I do, but I have to side with open choice without geographic tie breakers because all of our schools are not equal yet. And, they are all unique and each offer different specialty focuses. Until schools are equitable and equal across the district we need to give families access, little as it may be (10%) to schools that will meet their needs.

Ryan said...

I am only suggesting concentric circles for elementary schools where young children truly need that tight neigborhood and small community. HIgh schools by teh nature of 1000 plus kids are not "small" communities. I agree High School is another bag of worms. I do not think you can possibly justify a child from West Wallingford geting into Laurelhurst over a child from one block off the boundary line in elementary school. That is crazy. Or a kid getting into John Hay from Magnolia over a kid from Queen Anne Ave.

High Schools are different as transporation and level of maturity is so different. Young kids need to be able to walk to (or as close as possible walk to their school and not at the expense of a student being bussed/driven from across town.) I do not think a solution is best for a 6 year old is the same one for a 14 year old.

adhoc said...

"I do not think you can possibly justify a child from West Wallingford geting into Laurelhurst over a child from one block off the boundary line in elementary school. That is crazy."

Ryan, You obviously live in a neighborhood with great schools (Laurelhurst maybe??). But what if you lived in SE Seattle and your assignment school did not meet your childs needs, and neither did the school next to it. Let's say you wanted to get your child into Stevens or Montlake, or Lafayette,or Bryant, or Laurelhurst, but you were not near their boundaries and couldn't get in. What if you were stuck sending your kid to that south end school?

Would you still feel the same way?

It's easy to want concentric circles when you are guaranteed a great school like Bryant or View Ridge or even the new SP, but want to try for another school , like Laurelhurst. They are all great schools, so not much to lose no matter what......

Ryan said...
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Ryan said...
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Ryan said...

adhoc - I had to write this 3 times to not be rude or disrespectful. I agree any child with a special identified need should be addressed first (medical, physical, some schools are not easy to access, austism etc.). I support special needs (not wants) 100% going to the front of the line. I think our alignment ends there.

I do not consider wanting to compete in musical competitons a need, it is a want. I do not think children should from West Seattle should go to Roosevelt over a child who lives one block from the new boundaries. However, those seats will be left to the 10% open choice. This is a High School tiebreaker argument.

All of the concentric agruments for are elementary schools. In which there are no "open seats." So if any spots are open (after ALL seats are given to reference area/neighborhhod children) then and only then does tie breaker come into play. Elementary kids need to be in NEIGHBORHOOD COMMUNITIES.

Are we going to neighborhood schools or not? You can not have it both ways.

Yes I live in Laurelhurst - I have 3 kids in public schools and one on the way. I chose to move to Laurelhurst in a 2 bedrom apt to be at good schools. I do not own a home or a car. I made sacrifices and my kids do to. I made these sacrifices to go to schools and invest in this community.

Please explain why a child who lives one block from a school boundary and is a sibling of a child in the school should have the same chance as a child who has a sibling and lives 5.6 miles away? Again - if your argument is true then the ENTIRE plan needs to be thrown away and started over. You can not have reference areas - supporting a geographic placement and then lottery. That makes no sense.

I understand your theoretical argument and I agree schools are not equal so we have 2 choices.

1) Stop this craziness until all schools are equal or,.....

2) Be consistent in the roll out of this plan. If the number one objective is walkable neighborhood schools....all rules and guidelines should support that statement.

***The only exception would be special needs students. DOnt get me started there my son was just diagnosed with autism so that is another battle I will face.

adhoc said...
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Charlie Mas said...

There are three competing values at work.

One value is predictability and assurance. The current system provides that only for a select few; the new system provides it for all general education students. Concentric circles would only provide it for a select few.

Another is neighborhood schools. The current system provides that a bit, depending on how you define "neighborhood". The new plan does it quite well. While there may be another school that is closer, there can be little contention that the assigned school is not a nearby school. Concentric circles would achieve this end no better than the current system and would utterly fail for a large number of families.

There is, however, a third value, and that is equitable access to quality programs. In this time of limited capacity, students need to have access to schools regardless of their address to effect this value. The current system does not provide it. Concentric circles absolutely does not provide it. The new plan, however, which drops the distance tie-breaker for out-of-area students, could provide this.