Saturday, May 14, 2011

Anyone Interested in Demographics?

This is the first I've heard of this and echoing Kellie LaRue who forwarded it to me, I don't know what to make of it.

SPS Demographics Review Task Force Application
Date: Thursday May 19, 2011
Time: 9:00 am - 10:00 am 
 Location:
John Stanford Center
Notes: SPS Demographics Review Task Force Application
Due Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seattle Public Schools is looking for a few volunteers from the community to participate on a Demographics Review Task Force.

Current demographic projections suggest that up to 7,000 new students may enter Seattle Public Schools over the next 5 years. The total student population could rise from 47,000 students today to 54,000 students over the next 5 years impacting every school in the District.

The purpose of the task force is to review the impact of demographics on the New Student Assignment Plan and Capacity Management for 2012 and beyond.

The task force will also review national best practices, clarifying planning assumptions and current SPS enrollment projections.

Who: SPS staff, local experts and community participants

When: Weekly meetings beginning May 31st with a report to Superintendent and Board by June 30th

Where: John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence

If interested, Please contact:
Janet Chin
(206) 252-0102
jchin@seattleschools.org

Please include your name, school, phone number an email address.

8 comments:

David said...

That does not seem like that big a deal. That is an increase of under 3%/year over five years, a total increase of under 15% after five years.

Moreover, more students means more funding. State funding is per pupil, so, the more students we have, the bigger the budget.

It does mean that the school district made a mistake closing schools a couple years ago, which is what many parents told them at the time. Now, the district will have to reopen some of those closed schools at considerable additional cost.

Anonymous said...

"made a mistake..." the understatement of the year. Or rather, the $64M, yes, million, dollar question. Who the hell was running Facilities when Go-Lo-Jo said we MUST close schools? Oh yeah, Stephens, Potter, Martin. Don't worry though. Now we have Pegi McElvoy! SHE knows what's what. She would've known that you close a building for two years in the city of Seattle you must bring it to code to re-open. Yeah, right! One of the stupider decisions made by Central Admin....

Mr. Ed

Melissa Westbrook said...

David, it wouldn't be a big deal for most districts but we struggle with the students we have. I wish I could say I have faith in the leadership to guide the district's growth.

The district will have (by fall) reopened 5 closed schools at just a facilities cost of about $50M. Not chump change when you consider all the other buildings that need help and now we have more undermaintained buildings back online.

David said...

That seems more like an issue of competence than anything, Melissa. A 3%/year increase in students would not normally be a problem, except that the district staff will make it (or already has made it) a problem?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Agreed.

dan dempsey said...

The task force will also review national best practices, clarifying planning assumptions and current SPS enrollment projections.

.... there is that Best Practices phrase again ... Beware.

none1111 said...

A 3%/year increase in students would not normally be a problem

Yes it would. This isn't a math problem, where you can just add 3% capacity to each school every year.

Even in the best scenarios, the fixes are very "sticky" in nature, and involve a lot of students, families, money and questions. Capacity doesn't get added in 3% increments. It requires opening new schools, each of which requires drawing new boundaries (w/domino effects), forcibly moving families, snuffing kids' friendships, changing access to special programs, you name it.

Also, will the new students arrive with equal distribution around the city? 3% more at each school over each of the next 5 years? Not hardly. There will be pockets of growth and pockets of stagnation or even decline. The lack of good demographic data led to closing schools that obviously shouldn't have been closed (okay, this is probably giving the district too much credit, but the point is valid).

If the district is truly looking for better demographic data, that would be great news. Sadly, we're all so jaded now (myself included) that every move the administration makes is looked at with suspicion.

David said...

I don't think dealing with growth requires forcibly moving families. If you plan ahead, you can have spare capacity available, fill it over years, and have new schools opening as the existing become overcrowded. If you make the new schools attractive (such as with low class size initially, or offering popular alternative programs), people will want to go there, especially people nearby, no forcing required.

As I see it, the problem is that the district does not plan ahead but only reacts, not dealing with capacity issues until a school is bursting and it becomes an emergency.