"The Seattle School Board isn't unsympathetic to parents with more than one child in the public schools, but the board is right to make no guarantees that siblings can be with older brothers and sisters when new school assignments take place next fall.
These parents are caught between a rock and a hard place. Participating in two schools can be inconvenient."I think inconvenient is an understatement for many families.
Now the Times manages to leave a couple of things out. They mention the steps the district is taking to manage enrolling as many sibs as possible but leave out the possibility that some schools could lose all-day K and probably won't let families know until after Open Enrollment. That's kind of big and more than a little inconvenient.
"There won't be portables on every inch of open space and the district must be mindful of the strain that overcrowding places on the cafeteria, plumbing and other parts of a school."
I will just point out that this strain on buildings may only be for a couple of years according to the district. But the corollary to that is that many of the buildings aren't in the best shape to begin with so the strain could be more apparent.
"Imagine: In a household with a third-grader, incoming kindergartner and a newborn, a sibling preference could go on for a decade or more."
And here they get it wrong because the attempt to grandfather siblings is for incoming K's, not younger non-attendance sibs for years to come.
But okay folks, let's leave the Times' out of it for now. This is just us parents. I am speaking from a place of no personal impact and am aware of that fact.
I am personlly quite disappointed that the Board didn't protect parents and say no to this Transition Plan for one reason only. That reason is the fact that two new (and huge) items were put in on a Friday of a holiday weekend for a vote the next Wednesday. The Board should have simply said, "No, we will vote in two weeks. We have a process of transparency here and while we may end up agreeing with these two items, we will not vote on them in such a short timeframe. We will be aware of parents and their concerns and the appropriate notification will happen." End of story.
But that didn't happen. We have a new Student Assignment Plan and Transition Plan. With all due respect to each individual family and their story, that is the reality. We won't know, really know, for about 3-4 years how this plan will shake out based on what decisions families will make. (I didn't pick that number; I heard Director Martin-Morris say this today and he also said it would be bad policy to tweak the boundaries any earlier.) I am sure that there are many parents who will strain mightly to try to figure out the best choice to write down for their child's enrollment.
I feel for all of you. I heard the exhaustion and disappointment in the voices of parents at the Board meeting who felt they had done all they could. I heard the frustration today at Harium's meeting by one parent who pointed out in the Group 3 list of schools that will have capacity issues even before any K sibs are considered. I agree; how could the boundaries be correctly drawn if you have capacity issues even before any tiebreakers?
How could the Board have accepted all this uncertainty as part of the new plan?
But they have.
So go to the tours, go through the Open Enrollment process and see what happens. Get your assignment letter but realize, please realize, that there is a lot in flux. Don't hang all your hopes that you will get what you want but also, don't give up. I predict a lot of movement of waitlists. (And, given that they aren't asking for a reply from the automatic assignments, the district really has no way of knowing how many of those will really stand.)
And, a little advice from someone who has changed schools several times and has put two kids through SPS. It will be all right. There are no guarantees for perfect (and you know that from your own school experience right now). But you would be surprised at the number of people who didn't want an assignment (I hear this from John Rodgers people a lot) but turned out to really be happy.
Remember that your child will take their cue from you. There are life lessons to be learned from challenges and change. As I said previously, let this be a lesson learned about how the district and the Board will back up parents. But also remember to believe in your school even if you don't trust the district and the Board. I am not asking you to move on but to look forward.
Take a deep breath. One thing that works for me when I have something tough to face is to imagine a year from now. What do you imagine life will be like in a year? This churn should be behind us and we'll all have some idea of how this is working. Your child will be in school, maybe a new school, maybe not. But I'll bet it will be okay even if different.