Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Waitlists

There was a question about waitlists as some parents are hoping they will move and that their younger child can join an older sib at the older sib's school. I asked Tracy Libros, head of Enrollment, about them.

"We are handling them centrally. We are constantly reviewing data and identifying where we can move waiting lists and then calling families. It doesn’t happen instantly – but it happens pretty quickly! (For instance, I worked Labor Day weekend to get as many calls as possible made before school started.) "

So that's your answer for now. I would counsel patience because people do move around but it may not be until October. How many might move is anyone's guess.

I honestly believe Tracy except for one thing (and this goes for the overenrollment and any other issues that will come up in the next 2-3 years with the NSAP). That one thing is that they really don't know for sure how it will all play out. You can't ascribe past attrition patterns to a new student assignment plan. It's a whole new game.

Now, of course, we have said here (some of us) that maybe the overenrollment is not about the district not being able to properly forecast but rather, that this is by design so that parents will give up and go to a school that has room for their child and with a smaller class size. It is cynical to think the district would know that they will have a large number of extra kids and do little to prepare.

I was told that Queen Anne Elementary had more students show up than were expected and that the principal told parents he didn't have the authority to hire another teacher (even though the numbers were there). I'm not sure how that is playing out.

30 comments:

ParentofThree said...

If the overenrollment was "by design" then you would think that the district would be ready to staff these underenrolled schools (like QA Elem)so that when the parents cried uncle, they would be ready for them.

But instead you see staffing issues at both under and over enrolled schools.

I guess that is equitable.

Elizabeth W said...

To answer the question from an earlier thread about why the district doesn't make the obvious swaps when there are pairs (or more) of children who would clearly prefer to trade their current assignment with someone on their school's wait list and vice versa:...

...there are two issues here.

The first is that such trades ought not to be made at the request of anyone on the waitlist. System integrity requires they be made using a pre-defined algorithm/processing phase. To do otherwise opens up possibilities of graft and magnifies inequities of access. Because of this, very few designers of assignment/waitlist schemes would support making ad hoc swaps.

There exist plenty of acceptable schemes for achieving these swaps, and they are used in other school assignment systems. However, they are more complex than our current system, which brings up the second issue...

The district has (IMHO) made it clear that they are not interested in providing or maintaining a more complicated assignment system. Their focus for school assignment has been on making things much simpler, even if that means forgoing modest improvements.

Of course, if it's your child it's not a "modest improvement" to you. However, given the scope of the district's other problems, lack of attention here shouldn't come as a surprise.

StepJ said...

The wait lists disolve on September 30.

For split families the window to wait it out is rapidly being nailed shut.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you Elizabeth for fleshing that out.

Thanks Step J, that was an important point I should have put in.

seattle said...

During the summer of 2009, Tracy told me that she expects to see less attrition in the grade 5-6 transition*, so I'm not 100% sure that they are only using past attrition rates.

I also remember from the budgeting process late last school year that the school budgets are due to be reassessed on Sept 30th based on actual enrollments. The principal should have authority to hire a new teacher then. Whether there will be any good teachers left at that point is another question.

seattle said...

Whoops, forgot to add my note. The changes in 5-6 attrition was based on her experience doing a similar process in another district, Nashville maybe?

StepJ said...

I'm wondering about the mystery wait lists in the NE that are moving?

Nearest to Jane Addams is John Rogers which had a zero wait list for K. Sacajawea had a very short wait list. Wedgwood admitted all younger sibs. for K.

The wait list at View Ridge has only barely moved. Number one was offered a spot last week and declined. Number two accepted. No movement beyond that.

Why the wait to add a 3rd K at Jane Addams? They have lots of space. Parents that live near it are talking it up and view it as their neighborhood school and want to attend. Isn't that what was supposed to happen?

It doesn't make sense to have the word get out that the District will 'punish' you with large class sizes if you choose JA.

Anonymous said...

Oh - the Queen Anne Elem situation is way more screwed up than that.

First, they were told with 110 kids they would get 5 teachers. But they are past that number and still at 4. So class sizes pushing 28+ in multi-age class rooms and enrollment is still open. The district says no - wait until October 1st and find out what the final number is, like every other school and if you get more staff and the kids have to move once, no big deal.

In the meantime, sharing a building with McDonald, it affords the oppty to share teachers. Sounds great, right?

Except on Sept 1st, the brilliant minds in the district decided to give McD another teacher based on their projected enrollment for McD. So staff was hired, kids were shuffled around, QAE kids were moved into that McD class to even out class sizes and make a full 3rd grade. Everyone is happy, right?

Well - on Sept 13th - 12 days later- we learn that OOOPS! McD shouldn't have gotten an extra staff member, enrollment was much lower than projected (at about 60 kids). So - pull a teacher (the least senior one, NOT the one that was just hired) and start the kid/school/ teacher shuffle.

So these kids will get moved at least twice, if not more, when all this ridiculous stuff is over.

And let's remember, QAE was supposed to take the pressure off of Coe and Hay and other reference schools. Well, 110+ is a pretty good start toward that goal. The principal, parents, and staff personally recruited families all summer to get to this number. The district did NOTHING to help. Now, that the number is high, they are getting screwed.

The shuffle of kids isn't final yet - the McD and QAE staff and principals are figuring that out and the changes in classrooms take place on Monday next week.

Oh - and for those who think Lincoln can take extra high school kids, wait at least 2 years cuz that's how long McD is there.

A Parent at Lincoln

Emily S said...

We just got word this evening that they will be adding a K/1 split at Jane Addams to alleviate our large class sizes!

I guess they are also allocating more PE and art time too with the greater numbers. Not sure if they are adding any more classes at other levels, but there seem to be many new families at the school this year at all levels.

StepJ said...

Emily S --

Happy for your school. Glad you will have smaller class sizes.

StepJ said...

On the bummer side - would seem to suggest wait lists in NE will not be moving.

Emily S said...

So sorry to hear about the mess at Lincoln. I hope things get sorted out soon. It is very frustrating to feel like you are being punished for choosing an option school, or taking a risk on a new school, both of which help alleviate crowding at other schools.

Anonymous said...

Emily,
Awesome news for your kids! AND....Your news for JA extra staff gives me hope that we can get approval for another teacher and only have to move kids once.

Parent at Lincoln

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that in the Eckstein AA only View Ridge has a wait list with siblings. Apparently the rest of Bryant's siblings were granted a spot this week. It's great news except for the VR families, hope the district keeps all families together.

Hopeful

Anonymous said...

I really think the School District needs to allow families who have younger siblings on a waitlist to stay on the waitlist past Sept. 30 and not dissolve the waitlists at the end of September as is current practice. I can see why having new families with no connection to the school be able to transfer in after Sept. 30 might be disruptive - but for families that have kids in two different elementary schools, having to juggle 2 schools is much more disruptive than moving your 2nd child to the older sibling's school after Sept. 30. Catherine

LinJaneAddamsMom said...

I'm a Jane Addams parent who spoke with Tracy Libros from enrollment last night at the school board meeting. She did not indicate that waitlists were not moving overall in the NE sector. Rather, her comment was that looking at the kids currently enrolled at JA and where they were waitlisted, they were not far enough up the list to expect much movement. I got the sense that they are really looking at this school-by-school, student-by-student. Now, that may mean the waitlists aren't moving overall, but that isn't what she said to me.
Also, it sounds like they are first putting time into trying to get those siblings taken care of. Between that and the Garfield overenrollment issues, they seem swamped.
It does seem reasonable for parents of the split siblings to request that they be allowed to stay on the waitlists after Sept 30th, but drop any non-sib waitlisted students on Sept 30th. That would seem to be a justifiable position for them.

krod said...

I agree with Catharine completely.
I would rather move my younder sib to older sib anytime to be able to go to school together. Sept 30 deadline is like a time bomb.

In the past, at JSIS, there were a few kids move after waitlist disolved, and kids from private school took spots right away. I think younger sibs should be able to keep the waitlist status longer.

crow said...

JSIS still has siblings on the waitlist. I hope very much that the district is checking addresses for some of the people who "moved" over the summer into the John Stanford neighborhood.

I am quite sure there are a few empty apartments being rented for the mailing address.

Anonymous said...

Crow - the District will only verify addresses if someone reports what they think is a false address to the District. i.e. they won't proactively investigate addresses. John Hay families ran into this issue this summer when we were trying to figure out why kindergarten enrollment increased so dramatically at John Hay (and not at Coe or at Magnolia schools or other parts of the city - just that one part of Queen Anne).

Jan said...

Am I the only one who will not be happy if the District exchanges transportation costs for the cost of hiring staff and outside investigators to trail people around, wait outside their houses in parked cars at 6 in the morning (like they did with the Wrotens), and staff the resulting hearings to litigate what beds kids are sleeping in at night, and where they eat their cheerios in the morning?

It seems to me that if they had done what they intially claimed they would -- established "excellence for all" city-wide BEFORE implementing the SAP, we wouldn't be having these discussions about whether desperate families are "cheating" to try to avoid the schools they don't want to go to, but that the SAP has consigned them to.

Charlie Mas said...

If they did what they were supposed to do, increase equity of access to popular and successful programs, they would have made JSIS an Option School and then the addresses wouldn't matter.

Let's remember that the only reason that JSIS isn't an Option School is that each Option school further complicates the determination of the right size for the attendance area boundaries.

As it stands, there is no alternative school in the Hamilton Service Area. It should have been JSIS and McDonald should be the attendance area school for that neighborhood.

Hamilton is, in fact, one of only two middle school attendance areas without an Option School. The other is Denny, which could also have one if the language immersion program at Concord were also so designated.

Jan said...

Right, Charlie -- but, that would have potentially alienated a bunch more parents (those who live in what would have been the assignment area for JSIS/Concord -- who then would have had to get in (or not) to those schools by lottery). As I look at the SAP, the District "gave" out as many "goodies" in terms of assignments as possible -- assuring that as many parents would, on paper at least, be happy and they could just ignore the minorities (RBHS parents, N Seattle kids going to Ingraham but wanting Ballard, etc.) -- or lull them, too (along with all the split sib families) with the promise that maybe lotteries, 10% choice seats, etc. would work out for them "later" -- after the deal was done and they were stuck. And, it worked! It was either incompetent (if they didn't know how it would play out) or dishonest (if they did, but failed to tell either the Board or the public) -- but it worked!

krod said...

Is there anyone who report false address using SPS website? I am not comfortable doing so because it says it doesn't gurantee 100% confidentiality. At JSIS, I know some people are not living in neighborhood but attending school somehow (some are coming from Shoreline). Being on waitist, I really want to report, but I don't feel comfortable.

hschinske said...

krod, you could try doing so from a Seattle Public Library computer. I don't see how they could keep any data from that.

Helen Schinske

crow said...

krod -- I reported the family I know to be lying about their address. I haven't heard any response, however.

krod said...

Thank you for the suggestion. I will try to do it at library.
In regards to the address, even though you have a second house/apartment, you have to live there in order to use the address to get in the school, right?

Crow: Hopefully, they are investigating even though you haven't heard from SPS. Since we are on waitlist, it is extremely important that SPS does the right thing. One or two spots really count.

Anonymous said...

Agree that JSIS should be option school. McDonald school and BF Day could take over the neighborhood boundaries. The JSIS program is such a popular program in a neighborhood with a high density of rentals. Parents do move to go to this school. The school is being "swamped" with new students in K & 1st grade this year and in upcoming years. There simply is not enough classrooms at JSIS and the small real estate doesn't provide room for portables. The district has NO plan for this overenrollment at JSIS..they believe it is 2 year bubble. However, they don't spend time in our neighborhood and see the toddlers/babies I am seeing!

Related to comments on address cheating. In past years, JSIS families have been turned in due to lying about addresses. If you know it, report it.

joanna said...

I am interested in enrollment figures district wide and am frustrated that the following link was taken away:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/SSR/main.xml

Reading the blog has given me some clues. But, I haven't seen any discussion regarding enrollment at Thurgood Marshall or Lowell outside of APP. I am also particlularly interested in Leschi, Madrona, Stevens, McGilvra, TOPS, and NOVA

Charlie Mas said...

Let's remember that even if JSIS were an option school it would still have a small geographic zone around the building. Students living in that zone would have preferred access to the school.

The big change at JSIS would not be enrolling (almost exclusively) kids living within a few blocks, but the ability to cut off enrollment when the school is full.

StepJ said...

Charlie,

I disagree a little bit. If JSIS were an Option School they would not have any more say as to their enrollment numbers than they do this year.

Complete and total control of how many kids are enrolled at a school has transferred to Central.

Attendance Area schools or Option Schools no longer have any say.

As examples look at Thornton Creek which had a 4th K class added this year, or Jane Addams which started the year with 33 - 34 kids enrolled in each of two K classes. Admittance and assignment were determined by Central and not the local school.

IF, JSIS were an Option School then all seats would be open for enrollment. If there were more applicants than seats determined available (by Central) then Sibs. would have first priority to get in.

For 2011-2012 if more Sibs. applied then available seats (as determined by Central) then Sibs. that live within the Geographic Zone would get in first, siblings outside of the Geo Zone would get in second, non-sibs. that live within the Geographic Zone would get in third.

If there are still seats available (as determined by Central) then any available seats would be determined by assigned lottery number.

A Principal or BLT committee no longer has any say or sway as to class sizes or who is, or is not given assignment to a school.

A Pricipal can contact enrollment with a kind request to admit additional kids from the the wait list -- but, they do not have any control any longer over who, how, or how many are admitted to their school.

Attendance Area school or Option School -- no difference.