Monday, September 30, 2013

Live Blogging from Meany

 Updates:

- there were full tables and most were about one school or area.  There was a Coe table, a Beacon Hill table (with some hard facts about the changes for that area), a TT Minor table, Montlake, etc.

- I found these to be people who knew their facts and, if they didn't, wanted to find out more.  One man pushed back against the format, asking why staff couldn't explain who thought up the boundaries and explain them.  He was told they just wanted "comments and feedback."  I don't think many were satisfied with that answer.

-Rep Jamie Pedersen was there and he spoke as a father of four (one in school).  I think he's getting a good picture of the issues.

Takeaways:

- this region HAS had a lot of push-pull from the district.  I honestly had not realized how bad it has been.   And, like other regions, the boundaries are NOT taking into account established "community boundaries or geographical features.  For example, one area of Montlake would change and kids would now go to Stevens but up a huge hill by a ravine. 

- NO ONE likes the idea of restarting Meany at Van Asselt.  A Big NO all the way around to Central kids being bused - for three years - to a southend site.  As one table said, why can't it start up one year at Washington (6th grade and this is already on the table from the district) and then move into the part of the building that is ready.  Meaning, do it Nathan Hale style, on-site.  (I will point out this is how the majority of school buildings get done in this country.) 

- Most want TT Minor to be an elementary school.  They believe the numbers are there to support this.  They have respect and understanding for World School (scheduled to move in there after renovation) but feel World School is the wrong choice.

This is a very tough one for me because I have fought for World School which has gotten kicked around repeatedly.  But I would HATE to see them move in and then, a couple of years later, get moved out because...they need a neighborhood school. 

I believe the district needs to offer them the best space possible even if it is not centrally located.  Either lease some Central space or move Van Asselt out of AAA and make that building the World School.  It's a newish building and would be easier to create a 6-12 space there.  Then, redo old Van Asselt for the current Van Asselt students. 

Biggest Takeaway

The research done on Beacon Hill and the impacts of the boundary changes on low-income students.

Seattle Public Schools is pushing students at seven Title 1 schools out of their official city-approved walk zones to their nearby neighborhood grade schools and onto buses to faraway schools. Yet another layer of inequity is that this will increase the use of diesel buses in areas already disproportionately plagued by diesel exhaust and other pollution (as near I-5 and Boeing Field on Mid Beacon Hill). 


Including the entire Beacon Hill area, 4 out of our 6 neighborhood schools (67%) are losing walk zones, compared to 10% for the rest of the city. 

100% (2 out of 2) of Beacon Hill's freeway onramp feeder arterials serve as natural boundaries between neighborhood grade school zones. The district now wants our grade school zones to overlap the freeway on-ramp arterials of Spokane and Graham.  

Little kids walking on-ramp arterials to get to school?  Just no.  

Based on my initial review of the data (presented below), these are the neighborhood grade schools losing their walk zones:

• Maple (Title 1)
• Beacon Hill International (Title 1)
• Dearborn Park (Title 1)
• Graham Hill (Title 1)
• Kimball (Title 1)
• Northgate (Title 1)
• Roxhill (Title 1)
• BF Day
• Green Lake
• John Stanford


I would like to hear the district's response.  (Author's disclaimer: 
Please let me know if I have gotten anything wrong below. The district makes it extremely difficult to understand how the boundaries are changing (the changes are not overlaid on the maps). Also, the new maps do not include walk zones. I did the best I could to parse all the data. Thank you!)


End of Update.
Just getting started.  Not a big crowd right now, about 50 people.

6:40 pm - more people coming in.  Just saw Omar Tahri Garrett walk in (he's quite the outspoken and aggressive activist so this could get interesting.)

Hey, look at the services required by law; ELL, Special Ed and APP.

Principal Mark Perry of Nova is here along with a couple of other principals I don't recognize.  I also see Stephanie Jones of CPPS.  Sherry Carr and Kay Smith-Blum are here, Rep. Jamie Pedersen as well.

More people continue to come in; I'd call it at about 100.

No good interim site  for Meany and "you here know that."  Work with Washington leadership to keep  all kids at Washington or start a new school at Van Asselt.

One table is talking about downtown.  All from Coe.  Questions about demographics and numbers.  Worry over not changing boundaries at Coe as it is quite full.  Want to be considered in the plan and overcapacity now.  Going to ask why not?  Why doesn't Queen Anne Elementary grow larger?

Will have more on table discussions.  A lot of nice, considerate, thoughtful people here.

Table Comments

Table #1
Central elementary.  Love reopening Meany but the 3-year interim plan (at Van Asselt) is universally disliked.  Reuse TT Minor.

Madrona isn't packed; couldn't we use that as well?   Roll-up aspect of Meany and middle school is developmentally important.
Wants answers but district is only taking comments.  Herdon doesn't know how plan was developed.  Tolley says we are "desiring to collect feedback and that's not our format."

Table #2
Coe table can't believe numbers given and are wondering why their boundaries are not even being considered.  Lowell can't take all their overflow.  Wonder why Queen Anne Elementary can't have a bigger geozone or if they might need it to go back to a neighborhood school?  Resent QA Elementary able to stay low while others are overcrowded.  Coe is the only ELL school in their area (including Magnolia).

District said that plan can/may be revised before vote.

Table #3
Omar Tahri stands up to speak.  Graduate of SPS.  Never bused but walk to school.  Wants TT Minor reopened for neighborhood school.  Wants AAA reopening.  Another woman spoke up in support of reopening TT Minor, has a proposal for the district (42 and 43 area on maps).

Table #4
Montlake parents.  Meany is fine with them but they do not want to have a three-year commute to Van Asselt.

Table #5
From Madrona K-8, myth that if all kids in area came, it would be full.  He says it is not full and they want more "great people."   Appreciate the "area" splits, "boundaries by their nature are disruptive" and wants boundaries drawn by seats and ignore geography for a minute.  Doesn't know why McGilvra's boundary isn't changing and why Stevens is cut back.  Don't include portables.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

If the District insists on Van Asselt for a roll-up of Meany MS, it will very likely cause a very poor start for Meany that will be difficult to overcome. Families will likely go private or switch to option schools in greater numbers and Meant will be stuck with kids whose families had no other choice than an hour long bus ride to the south side of town.

That is not the right way to do this.

CHM

Anonymous said...

It looks like the district is going to recreate all the same tension in the NE in other parts of town. They must enjoy the mess.

There was a lot of tension in Lake City area over proposals that would leave the local school as a non-geographic program and bus the local kids to a roll up middle school.

So it looks like they are going to send the kids from the Meany area as far south as possible so that they can have a non-geographic program in Meany as long as possible, that ironically draws heavily from the Van Assalt area.

Why can't they just start Meany in Meany and give the World School Van Assalt. Everyone would be closer to home. Anyone know?

- north seattle mom

Ryan said...

The World School has rejected Van Asselt for a couple of reasons. 1. They don't have enough funding to do the necessary renovations and 2. It is located too far south to serve the immigrant families coming from northern areas such as Northgate and Lake City. They would like a central area school. Biggest truth be told, they would like to remain at Meany. It has served them well.

TT Minor is on the table for them mostly due to location. It is, after all, an elementary school that will have to be repurposed to serve secondary school age children, and, even then, the World School is not totally sure it will meet their needs in terms of capacity and specific desired buildings ammenities. The parents of Area 42/43 have reached out to the World Schhol and are trying hard to come up with a solution that meets both of our needs. It is quite a difficult ask, but one we will continue to attempt to handle.

Lynn said...

Hi Ryan,

Did they refuse the district's request to move to Meany - or the neighborhood's? It seems strange to me - no program my children have been involved in has ever been given a choice about where it is located. Is the district working with you on this?

Thanks for the information.

joanna said...

Also the table where the woman advocated to reopen TT Minor, was a very full table of parents with the same goal. It was standing room only at that table. The only reason I am mentioning this is because you indicate a table of ...parents in some of the other reporting.

uxolo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
uxolo said...

Why not consider the old Orca? (Being saved for a charter school?) Good access to I5 and light rail might make it work for the World School.

Anonymous said...

Orca is still too far South. I commute part of the week via bus and connect to light rail or the milk run#36 from the north end. The commute takes close to an hour easily and that's not including getting to Northgate. It takes another 15 minutes to walk from Othello up to Van Asselt or from Columbia to ORCA (Xing MLK and Rainier). North of 90 would be better for access.

FYI

Anonymous said...

The Coe table needs to do their homework. In the final set of numbers, QAE is slated to have higher enrollment than either Coe or Hay. The BEX $ for QAE will build a gym and more classrooms to accomodate this.

QAE Parent

Anonymous said...

What about this crazy idea...

Move the language immersion program from MacDonald (or one of the two schools in Wallingford) to a new school in South Lake Union that will also house the World School.

This will distribute access to the language immersion concept, plus give a central location for the World School students.

Central Seattle gains Language Immersion access, and South Lake Union and Downtown and can still have their NSAP options of Lowell (and or TT Minor).

(just brainstorming)

Ann D.

Lynn said...

Ann D,

Where would you build the school? Who would pay for it? And would parents of five year olds want them attending school with high school students?

I'm not saying it's a bad idea - those are just the questions that come to mind.

Anonymous said...

QAE Parent,
To be more clear, the Coe parents are confused why there can be 30+ children in the 1st grade classes (because there is no classroom space left to put a new class) while QAE gets to keep smaller class size, even though there are Coe children wait-listed for QAE. SPS doesn't own the playground at Coe, so portables are not an option. There is nowhere left to grow, and even the district projections have Coe at 600+ in the coming years, and the school was built for 450. Why is nothing being done to the Coe boundary? Why is Hay going to continue to have the QAE geo-zone, even though their boundary was cut dramatically? Why does Coe continue to serve ALL ELL children from QA and Magnolia? Something has to be done- the growth boundary plan has completely ignored them.
Coe Dad

Anonymous said...

World School has been kicked to the curb too many times to count by the district. TT Minor should never have been closed. Another crap legacy of Goodloe-Johnson. But World School must not be made to wait for another building. If the neighborhood wants TT Minor, give World School nearby Madrona K8 which the community has never embraced, and repurpose BEX funds to renovate Madrona for High School instead of TT Minor. If that does not work, then unfortunately the Squire Park community loses this one. And yes, that would be very unfortunate. Stevens is too full.

Neighbor Mom

TechyMom said...

Neighbor Mom, that is a great idea. As a K-8, Madrona probably has some labs, tall toilets, and other things a secondary school should have.

Anonymous said...

Coe Dad,

Thanks for the clarification - agreed the Geo Zone for QAE should be evaluated now that Hay's boundary has been shrunk and some moved to Lowell.

The QAE lower grades are full and new students are being added. As far as available space, portables will be a reality at this time next year. Due to the extremely small size of the lunchroom, there are already now 3 lunch shifts.

As reported in the blog post, making a request to change QAE to a neighborhood school is problematic- what if not all parents want Project Based Learning and Tech focus? Each MS assignment area has an Option School and QAE is it for the McClure area.

Here's hoping that school leadership on QA comes together for a common solution vs. pitting schools against each other. Each school has challenges right now with capacity, they are just different.

QAE Parent

Anonymous said...

Towards the end of the meeting, someone stood up and said the district was still going to be short of seats even after they finished moving everybody around. She said we should ask for money, isn't the school board doing that already? How much are they asking for, what can we do to support that? Garfield is stuffed, is the money for another new highschool?

Future Bulldog

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I would agree with World School using Madrona K-8 but that would means someplace for those students to go. That said, it's better than TT Minor.

What Gail(the woman who mentioned asking for state dollars) is advocating is that YOU, yes you, contact your state legislator and urge them to find state capital dollars for Seattle. We can use every dollar we can find.

(That said, I don't support Cedar Park being reopened and the huge amount going to reopen it. I'm going to count it in my "fail" list of BEX IV projects.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh, and I did leave out my own comments.

A woman had said there's a "wild card" and that's charters. What happens?

I was happy to help out.

I explained a charter could come into a region, take students (good or bad, depending on how you view it but the public schools around it lose dollars).

BUT, the real wild card are the conversion charters. I explained how it works and how one small group of people - teachers - could upend an entire community with a signature.

I told people to keep their ear to the ground because yes, we will be able to get early notice that a conversion could be coming. I also noted that if our district loses even ONE building, it will throw a lot of facilities' issues off.

One single building. The ripple effects would be felt.

I looked around and I think I saw some stunned faces.

I also want to note that Suzanne Dale Estey was there but oddly, not Stephan Blanford who would represent this region and who has a child at Beacon Hill. Sad because he missed a good opportunity.

I actually haven't seen Mr. Blanford at many events. Let me know if anyone sees him at the Ballard event.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa - Madrona K-5 kids could go to the reopened TT Minor and to McGilvra. McGilvra was originally slated to grow in this BEX but that plan was dropped early on. Portables could happen at McGilvra and permanent space could be added by realigning BEX funds.

Madrona 6-8 students living on Capitol Hill would go to Washington and Meany. There would be room.

Madrona K-8 is more convenient to mass transit then many realize, as it hugs the east side of the CD, with major arterials nearby. Fine for high school commuting. It also has a history of attracting kids from outside the area. Not too long ago a substantial portion of the population was bused from South Seattle and even Renton.

I want World School to have a permanent great facility. Madrona K-8 is a newer building. TT Minor would get less $$ put into a re-open as it already operated as a grade school. That money would be diverted to Madrona upgrades to host high school classes.

Also, the Central District already has TOPS K8, so the larger area would not be losing that type of school option by converting Madrona K8. Actually,I believe that TOPS already serves many Madrona-area families.

We are all so jammed at the seams, and Madrona K8 has struggled for so long to fill its building - it seems like a win for the community as a whole to consider this. Also, the schools to which current Madrona elementary kids would be reassigned - McGilvra etc., have good reputations so although there is no denying there would be an impact on those students, the option for a strong education, not far from their current school, would remain.

Neighbor Mom

Sam said...

North Beach elementary is losing a HUGE chunk of its very safe walk-zone. Kids in that area will need to be bused to Loyal Heights and kids in the new part of North Beach's zone will need to be bused.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sam, I think you and every parent that sees MORE busing needs to point that out. Maybe I can make a list and we can present it to the Board.

Anonymous said...

Sam - When I looked at the maps, it seemed that the North Beach students who were previously in the North Beach walk zone would be moved to the technical walk zone of the Loyal Heights. I'm not familiar with how realistic all the walk zones truly are.

I'll review again tonight, but I put links to all the maps with my notes here: http://midbeaconhill.blogspot.com/2013/09/seattle-public-schools-to-shut-low.html

--Mid Beacon Hill Mom

JvA said...

Sam - You are right, and I'm updating my post and calculations now.

JvA said...

Sam / Melissa -- I re-reviewed the maps. A small part of the North Beach walk zone (north of Golden Gardens) is being rezoned for Loyal Heights, and falls just outside the Loyal Heights walk zone. I have added North Beach to my list of schools losing walk zones.

I looked at the Loyal Heights proposal, and I don't see any areas where families would be removed from that walk zone without also being in the Adams walk zone. So there is no net loss of walk zone that I can determine.

I've recalculated my numbers, and here are the changes:

* 28% of Title 1 neighborhood grade schools losing walk zones compared to only 12% (--previously listed as 10%--) of non-Title 1 schools.

* Out of the 11 (--previously listed as 10--) schools citywide that are losing walk zone areas, 4 are on Beacon Hill.

* Including the entire Beacon Hill area, 4 out of our 6 neighborhood schools (67%) are losing walk zones, compared to 13% (--previously listed as 10%-- )for the rest of the city.

Thank you so much for pointing that out!

Kathy Barker said...

The casualness with which folks suggest "using" other schools is shocking. Really, do you want to decide which schools deserve to be closed or not? WHich community should suffer? Is this any different than the district closing schools?
Kathy Barker

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I 'm in a different position. I DID have to decide what schools to close (using district data which was not complete).

Look, we are in a crisis - yes, a crisis situation - and to carry a school that for year after year is underenrolled and you have another school waiting - year after year for a home - I don't have a problem with hard choices being made.

Syd said...

"It takes another 15 minutes to walk from Othello up to Van Asselt or from Columbia to ORCA (Xing MLK and Rainier). North of 90 would be better for access. "

It actually takes less than 5 minutes to get from the Columbia City light rail station to the old Orca building. And it is very pedestrain friendly. I take the light rail to Columbia City every evening, and walk right by there.

Syd said...

I don't think I understand what losing walk zones means. Graham Hill still has a nice walk zone. It might actually be better. Everything is on one side of Rainier now. What am I missing?

JvA said...

Syd --

My notes for Graham Hill say "Graham Hill families in C2 of the growth Emerson map are in the Graham Hill walk zone but would be bussed to Emerson."

Scroll to the table at the bottom of this post to see all the map links and all my notes:

http://midbeaconhill.blogspot.com/2013/09/seattle-public-schools-to-shut-low.html

I just did a comparison of the maps. Outside of Beacon Hill, I can't make a judgment call about whether the change is a good or bad thing, as I don't know the families or the area that well. That's why I'm limiting my board recommendations to the areas I do know about it (the North and Mid Beacon Hill boundary changes, which everyone is very upset about).

In terms of what I mean by "losing walk zones" is that a school has families in its district-established "walk zone" who would be moved into the bus zone for another school. I'm not counting families who would be moved from the walk zone of one school to the walk zone of another school. The quality of the walk zones is also outside the scope of my analysis.

Thanks for asking!

JvA said...

FYI, this is the testimony I have planned for tomorrow. As you can see, I'm not making any suggestions on any of the other lost walk zones, in case those families are happy with the switch. I still think it's worth pointing out, though, that their proposal did disproportionately affect walkability for families at low-income schools.

Title 1, Beacon Hill Schools Would Disproportionately Lose Walk Zones

1) Under the new proposal, 67% of Beacon Hill schools would lose official SPS walk zones, compared to 13% for the rest of the city.

2) All of the Beacon Hill schools losing walk zones are Title 1 schools.

3) Beacon Hill is the only neighborhood where kids would be taken out of walk zones to cross interstate-feeding arterials, or, in the case of Beacon Hill International, I-90 itself.

4) Citywide, 28% of Title 1 schools are losing walk zones, compared to 12% of non-Title 1 schools.

Please let the kids at Beacon Hill’s Title 1 schools keep walking to their local schools. It’s not fair to force them to start bussing at much higher rates than the rest of the city.

(In the handout only --

Beacon Hill Walk Zone Fixes:

This Maple walk zone needs to stay at Maple, not cross the I-5 arterial of Graham to go to Van Asselt over 2 miles away: [picture]

This Kimball walk zone needs to stay at Kimball, not cross the I-5 arterial of Spokane to go to Maple: [picture]

This Beacon Hill International walk zone needs to stay at Beacon Hill International, not cross under I-90 to go to Thurgood Marshall: [picture]

)

Anonymous said...

The Olympic Hills kids living east of the school are losing their walk zone (the new boundary line is just 2 blocks east of the Olympic Hills property, at 25th Ave NE). The kids living east of the school will be bused across Lake City Way, to Cedar Park, along with kids who were formerly in the John Rogers walk zone.

The Cedar Park boundaries were drawn to pick up every low-income housing area on both sides of Lake City way, between 120th and 145th. The Cedar Park building is old and small, and only 10 or 11 home rooms with an additional 8 portables planned for the site.

The Olympic Hills attendance area has been shrunk by about half, with the boundary line bisecting the Olympic Hills neighborhood, in order to make room at the large, shiny-new Olympic Hills building for NE APP kids.

How is this remotely "equitable?"

-North-end Mom

Lynn said...

North-end Mom,

Where do you think elementary APP should be placed? (I agree that Olympic Hills doesn't make sense.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

North-end Mom, look, I think Cedar Park is a big mistake. I also think a mere $10M (mostly portables) is not going to make it a good building.

BUT when it comes to equity in buildings in this district, forget it. We are all over the map on that issue.

But Olympic Hills was going to get a renovation before it was stated that APP students might be moved there. Your comment has a whiff that somehow this is being done for them. (Sorry if I am mistaking this).

Anonymous said...

North End Mom -- Agree that change doesn't look walkable. :( I don't think there's a 2013-14 Cedar Park walk zone map to make the comparison, so I think I noted the distance/LCW issue and labeled it N/A.

--Mid Beacon Hill Mom

Anonymous said...

@Lynn and Melissa

I'm all for APP having their own building, be it at Wilson-Pacific or Lincoln. Either that, or serve all APP kids at their neighborhood school (which doesn't seem feasible, for a number of reasons).

I understand that a new Olympic Hills building was a part of BEX before the proposal to stick APP kids there. All I'm trying to say is that the capacity need is here, in Lake City, and the new building should be used for the neighborhood kids.

Have you looked at the boundaries? The boundary at 25th Ave NE bisects the Olympic Hills neighborhood, sending kids across Lake City Way to Cedar Park. Kids who literally live two blocks away from the new building will never set foot in it, if these boundaries are approved. And yes, part of why the boundaries are drawn this way was to leave room for several hundred NE APP kids.

Melissa, I totally agree that opening Cedar Park was a mistake. In my opinion, it is barely appropriate to use Cedar Park as an interim site, and certainly not appropriate to use it as a permanent school, at least not one that is supposed to house 400 kids.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

@ North-end Mom, You have a valid point, and I think folks do understand the desire of neighborhood schools to preserve capacity for neighborhood kids. That said, I think you can drop the "APP gets a shiny new school" tone from your argument. Anyone who thinks this district is spoiling APP kids clearly isn't paying very good attention. You can't legitimately complain about APP taking up space in existing schools, while also implying it's unfair if APP gets new facilities.

HIMSmom

Sam said...

I did the "walk the boundaries" submission regarding North Beach and Loyal Heights. Half of Olympic Manor, a safe "planned community" with lovely sidewalks and a short walk to North Beach, is now in the Loyal Heights boundary. Those kids need to be bused based on the transportation standards (arterials, etc).

The kids that live in the actual "North Beach" neighborhood would have to walk up a HUGE hill on an arterial (2th NW or 28th NW) with NO sidewalks (or be bused) to Loyal Heights. All those kids are currently not getting SPS transportation to North Beach.

I imagine other schools are in this situation and I don't mean to leave them out...I just know this school and neighborhood well. Forget the irony that no kids living in North Beach would go to North Beach Elementary!

Thanks for adding us to your list.

Anonymous said...

@HIMS Mom
Did I not say that I was perfectly fine with all of APP getting its own building, even a shiny new building at Wilson-Pacific?

I have never, ever said that APP kids are spoiled, and I certainly did not mean to imply this in any way.

-North-end Mom

hart said...

Stephan Banford was at the first growth boundary meeting at Mercer. I did not see Suzanne Dale Estey at that meeting. I went to the Mercer meeting, and like most in attendance felt frustrated that there were no answers to our questions. I decided to attend the Meany meeting to see if the district had changed their approach. Alas.
These are the messages I took away from both meetings:
People in Seattle have embraced their neighborhood schools as part of their vital community, and the growth boundary plans disrupt almost all of those school communities. Families and communities are feeling betrayed and angry at the inconsistencies and changes the district is proposing. We are angry at the lack of answers to questions and lack of transparency in the process.

Families invest time, money and relationships in their schools and deserve to be able to count on a consistent sibling policy that keeps siblings together at their neighborhood school.

A huge part of having successful neighborhood schools is access to safe, walkable routes to school.

North Seattle has a true overcrowding problem that probably needs to be addressed soon, but Central and Southeast Seattle schools can and should get much more time before any boundary or reassignment changes are made. We would all like to see the district slow down and thoughtfully incorporate community input into a better solution than the current proposal.

I hope the district listens.

Cynical SPS Parent

Catherine said...

The North Beach boundary is insane. Kids across the street from the building on two sides of the school... are assigned to Loyal Heights.... 11 lanes of arterials to cross, no sidewalks in some cases, and I think technically still in the walk zone though I'm not familiar with all the criteria. Who in their right minds changes a zone where kids would cross 1 to 3 residential streets, to making the entire area cross that same number of residential streets, plus 11 arterial lanes.

Kids from about 50 houses have to drive through the NB School Zone, to drive to Loyal Heights, because their streets area dead ends entering from the NB School zone... when now they are walking to Loyal Heights.

And Loyal Heights is surrounded by a high density of kids, adding geography to their zone makes no sense.