I attended Director Martin-Morris' this morning and yes, it was all growth boundaries. It was an interesting discussion because it was so specific in some cases (and rightly so - you look at the maps and the lines and have to wonder) and broader in others. I was pleasantly surprised at some of what Director Martin-Morris said (and his tone). Unfortunately, I can't recap right (no time) but I will try to do so soon.
But I put this up as an open thread in case anyone went to Director DeBell's community meeting and would like to report back.
Update: Meeting Minutes
There were about 15 people there, all impatient to talk with Harium.
- one woman from Thornton Creek expressed concern over half of TC being written out of the Eckstein area and there might not be busing. Would there be grandfathered busing?
Harium said they were still working on the Transportation standards and are aware of this issue. He said that despite the changes to the enrollment system, from choice to controlled choice to neighborhood school (with a little choice), their transportation costs had NOT gone down a lot relative to nearby districts. He said there are 26 "exceptions" to the transportation standards (but they are just some of the reason for the costs but not all). It would be interesting to see - on paper - what the issue is. I thought the district's costs WERE going down.
- the biggest takeaway was that Harium said at the Work Session that he did not believe that a single director supports roll-ups. That was the message they were hearing and I believe that they will say no to this idea to staff. My impression is that JAMS will start as a 3-grade middle school. More on this discussion in a minute.
- A couple of parents were VERY unhappy about the boundary changes both for their children and their property values (I assume they perceive the school now within their boundaries is a lesser school.) Harium said nothing on the property value issue except to state that the NE is blessed with many great/good schools. Naturally, parents do not want their children split between schools in elementary.
Harium did point out that they need to balance feeder schools for JAMS and Eckstein so that both can operate at good (and reasonable) levels. He also pointed out that there was a sib preference for waitlists and a PTA mom from View Ridge said yes, several families got their younger children in on the waitlist preference for sibs.
Parents said that the Board said it was important to keep families together and it was pointed out that they could take their older child out of the current school and move that child to the younger child's new school. Naturally, not the solution they want.
Which brings me to takeaway two. At least for Harium, I think grandfathering for younger sibs is not in his thinking (and I agree). I understand parents' unhappiness and change is hard for kids but it is part of life and growing up. If we grandfather in every single sibling, throughout the district, it will be very hard to have an effective enrollment plan.
What was an interesting question is that one mom has a child at VR, has done early kindergarten enrollment and got her child in VR (because the boundaries haven't changed) and wonders if it is a done deal for the younger children or if that assignment will get changed if the boundaries change. I suspect so but Harium told her she should call Dr. Libros.
- another issue was the need to know which boundaries will kick in when. Several parents seemed to think that the boundaries changes would be phased in (and that's true) but I don't think it will be quite as gradual as some may hope them to be.
- Area 78 is a section in Bryant that would now go to Laurelhurst and force those students to cross Sandpoint Way which is a pretty busy arterial. Several people were pretty incensed about this idea. I have to say that between this one and ones to the south around Beacon Hill, the idea of very little kids crossing freeway entrance crosswalks or crossing Sandpoint Way is troubling.
- Harium said there will be a "version 3" of the boundary plan and the district wants community comments to make it the best and final one. He said he welcomes comments individually but hopes everyone sends/cc's them to the boundaries e-mail so that they can be tallying all the requests.
- there is also this odd Montlake area (called a "subset" of Area 41) that got moved to Stevens and the parents there are not happy about this change. They had a map and even Harium thought is seemed off. He said it was such a small sliver that he could not imagine it to help relieve pressure on Montlake. He did say that parents know their area better than staff and to please let staff know of the very specific geographic issues around your schools and neighborhoods.
- I chimed in about World School, saying I didn't support the move to TT Minor because I believed that while World School should have a central location, it was likely that area would need another elementary and it would be wrong to move World School in and then move them again in a few short years.
- I also said what I had heard - repeatedly - at meetings and on the blog which is that no one really wants to co-house (at least neighborhood schools) with APP. I said I served on the Advanced Learning Committee and that we could have been working on AL issues all LAST year in advance of boundary changes and yet we did not. Michael Tolley, Bob Vaughn, Superintendent Banda all made the decision to sit on this issue and yet AL issues, particularly APP placement, are huge issues to the growth boundaries.
- I also advocated for Lincoln to be the home for APP North elementary (and maybe Pinehurst) and that Wilson-Pacific be a middle and high school. Harium said he had thought about this and that it was the MONEY that is the problem. He claims that someone at the end of BEX would lose. I believe the money would be there because you would spend the high school money for Lincoln on the new high school at W-P. I'm going to sit down with some people and cost this out. He did agree with me on the ease of transportation to W-P versus Lincoln (and I know, in his mind, transportation costs are a big deal).
- There seems to be this growing call for Hamilton's APP to annex to Lincoln. I would defer to what that community believes is best for them but it seems like those students have to sacrifice a comprehensive middle school experience and no one else is being asked to do that.
- JAMS. Harium would like to see 500 students, across three grades, enrolled there next year. Everyone at the table agreed that to make that happen is to get the best principal, solid music/science and possibly, Mr. E, the music director from Eckstein. Even a mom from Eckstein said this would a good idea (if tough for Eckstein). Parents seemed willing to support this school but they want to see a real commitment from the district (and it worked for Thurgood Marshall and Queen Anne Elementary to get real buy-in when the district put in great principals).
- Historic geographical boundaries. Got a lot of play and seemed, to many parents at the table, to make sense especially for high school. For example, using 85th as the cut-off for high school.
Kudos to Director Martin-Morris for making sure all voices were hear and being warm and understanding yet firm on where he stands.