Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Assignment Plan Community Meeting #1

This meeting turned out to be more interesting than I thought but that was mostly due to parents who asked some fairly pointed questions about the waitlist. 

Ashley Davies, the director of Enrollment, was the lead for the evening.  (Flip Herndon was at a Work Session and it will be interesting to see if he handles any of the other community meetings.)

There were about 50 parents who came to Ingraham for the meeting.  There was an issue right from the start because Ms. Davies had brought copies of the Board-approved 2009 SAP and the 2013-2014 Transition Plan which are the documents the district is attempting to combine AND streamline.  The issue was there was no current document available and Ms. Davies did not convey that point to parents.  She did not say when it would be (but the board was told "before Friday.")

She said did not explain why the district thought they could put forth such a hacked-up document to the board and not have questions raised.  She said that the "descriptive information" in the SAP was "helpful" and yet didn't explain why they tried to do away with it beyond "streamlining." 

She did say there would be NO changes to the 2009 SAP.  What she didn't say (and I forgot to ask) is about this issue of "clean up language" which was repeatedly brought up at the C&I meeting on Monday with the board.  PLEASE someone, at the other two meetings, please ask her to define "clean up language" because I perceive this could be a key element to watch over.

She made a couple of statements that either were not true or she improperly phrased her reply. She claimed that there are "no pathways" in the 2009 SAP.  Yes, there are.  She also said, in response to a question about boundaries, that there were no boundary changes.  A couple of us told her, yes, there just recently were boundary changes in West Seattle.

I think this is yet another key topic - boundaries and the SAP.  She didn't say it but I think most parents know that boundaries will be adjusted over the next couple of years as new buildings - Lincoln, the Wilson-Pacific buildings and others - come on-line.  Trying to divorce the two is folly.  

As I said, the biggest issue was the waitlist.  Key problems raised:

- why does it have to be May 31st and not closer to the start of school like August 15 to dissolve the list?  Ms. Davies said that other districts have a May date for dissolving their waitlists, it would move waitlists faster and provide more information earlier on to schools.

She seemed to get tangled up in this issue of moving the waitlist faster, saying there would be "more seats."  One attendee, Heidi Bennett who is another long-time parent/activist, asked how there could be more seats in an already over-crowded district.  Ms. Davies could not clear this up but I believe she was trying to say that there would be more clarity sooner with an earlier dissolve.

- why can't there be TWO waitlists?  This got asked several times in several ways and it primarily revolves around two concerns.

Concern #1 - Option schools not filling because the waitlist gets dissolved too soon.  Meaning, shifts AFTER May 31st could leave open seats that would not be filled even though there may be people willing to take those seats.  This could lead to understaffing at these schools. 

It was pointed out, and Ms. Davies, agreed that dissolving the waitlist would not solve staffing problems.  

Concern#2 - That any open seats - at any school - could be claimed by any new-to-the-district student after May 31st.  That new student's parents could come in,and basically say, "What's open?" and claim that seat. 

This jogged my memory as I recall that former School Board director, Don Nielsen, during a previous SAP discussion (probably around 2002), had stated that it was wrong to allow that kind of thing to happen.  He spoke of parents "investing" in Seattle Schools and so THEY should have first dibs, not people who just got here.

Should people moving to Seattle Schools (especially those coming from local private schools) get assignment to just their attendance area school?  

Should there be two waitlists - one for attendance area schools that dissolves on May 31st and one for Option schools that dissolves on August 15th?

There is also another concern around dissolving the waitlist sooner and that the gamemanship that could go on which would become a major equity issue.  It may be possible, unless definitively prohibited, that a parent could wait to see if spots are there AFTER the waitlist is gone and then move their child into one.  That would only be something that someone with the time to keep checking and then, get down and claim a spot, could do. 

Kellie LaRue asked a major policy point - what is the problem the district is trying to solve?  I had to leave before the answer came but that's a good question.  Is moving the waitlist date so that more families/schools know their enrollment situation sooner?  Is it an accommodation to make life easier for the district more than families?

Here's what it looks like - that all of this is a capacity problem, not an enrollment problem.  Rather than just admitting there is no space, they need to have control of the Enrollment plan to fit everyone.  Having to go to the Board for approval may slow them down.

There did seem to be a belief that Enrollment isn't doing much during the summer and Ms. Davies hastened to dispel that  belief.  She talked about the "clean up" that Enrollment must do during the summer.  But, if the waitlist moves earlier, wouldn't that clean up happen earlier?  Why, of all the SPS departments to close (or power down) in the summer, would Enrollment be one of them?


Eric B said...

I think it's not a question of Enrollment powering down over the summer as much as it is of them dealing with lots of stuff that gets thrown their direction. I would assume that a lot of notifications that people are moving (within, into, or out of the district) show up in the summer. They also have to get from all of the assignments that have been sent out to parents to actual class lists for the schools. Given the state of SPS IT, I can imagine that is an awful mess with a lot of hand work.

That said, I think that the stated goals of dissolving the waitlists early make no sense. Davies said outright that this doesn't fix the problem of predictability for the schools. She was hanging her hat on it being for predictability for parents. Many parents in the audience said they didn't care so much about predictability as long as the waitlists moved, and the district could deal with lack of predictability by telling them when the waitlists would move next.

Many parents were uncomfortable that the plan for dissolving waitlists May 31 depends on actions yet to be taken (making it a staff priority in May, etc.).

I proposed a solution last night (and will go to the Board with it) as follows:
Don't change the official waitlist policy now.
Notify parents and schools that this year is a pilot project to determine if the May 31 approach works, and that they don't expect to move the waitlist after May 31.
Do everything they can to move the waitlists by May 31.
Hold the waitlists open over the summer, just in case.
See if they need to move the waitlists again in late August.

Then it's a pilot project that accomplishes the same goal as the policy change, but it's all within current policy. If it works, it can be enshrined for next year. If it's a disaster, we still have the waitlists and can move them in August.

kilngoddess said...

The eventual "answer" to Kelly's question - because she had to ask it more than once was "Predictability."

Kelly and others quickly pointed out that, with the capacity issues and the fact that many parents do not convey their intention to move their children out of the dictrict before the end of the year, or summer, if at all - "predictability" would not be the result of moving the waitlist date.

As I wrote on the SFT page and to the directors - "One of the most telling moments in the room tonight, by far, was when a community member (Kelly) remarked that everything the district is doing with the transition plan, particularly in regards to the wait-list dissolution date change, might help the district staff, but would do very little to really help district families."

Anonymous said...

Again, Hale moved their waitlist in mid June when they realized that the freshman class was smaller than anticipated. Hale requested and got permission to admit 30 of the kids on the 9th grade waitlist. The other grades did not change all that much. Does this mean that they will do these moves sooner if the list dissolves on May 31?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, I thought the SAME thing - call any waitlist change a "pilot." Absolutely agree.

HP, I guess that's the plan.

I think it much better if they move the waitlist sooner but I also see their could be problems/hiccups.

I'm with Eric; pilot this first.

Po3 said...

So if I was on the waitlist for School A, didn't get a seat. Over the summer, I could unenroll my student in SPS, then a week later re-enroll and get the seat.

Are there any rules are in place for un-enrolling then re-enrolling in SPS.

Anonymous said...

Or couldn't they just try to move more quickly and take care of the wait list issues before May 31, even without a pilot or a change? Aren't all the wait list issues district-driven? School choice happens earlier, AL testing happens earlier--they just need to figure out eligibility and make all the initial assignments, then address the wait list shuffling to fill available slots. If they work through all that sooner, they'll have better numbers for planning. Numbers won't be set in stone--they can't even with the May date, since people come and go over the summer--but they'll be as good as possible. And by NOT dissolving the wait lists they'll preserve their ability to facilitate last-minute changes if summer enrollment cganges result in unfavorable numbers (too high OR too low) for some schools. Not having the wait lists means they lose some of their ability to address enrollment problems.

The problem doesn't seem to be that the wait lists last too long, just that the district doesn't move through them in timely fashion.


Melissa Westbrook said...

No Po3, you have to be new to the district. If you were there last year, it wouldn't be possible.

HF, good points.

Anonymous said...

Another problem is that schools are not always notified by parents that their children won't be attending the following year. So when someone doesn't show up at a school in September, who gets that spot if there is no waiting list? Why can't they fill the spots with the waiting list by May 31st, and then keep the waiting lists to use when school starts and there is space?


Anonymous said...

Why, then, would I bother to enroll my kindergartner until the end of August? Wait and see what my options might be. Ah, yes, let the gaming of the system begin...


Anonymous said...

The problem here isn't the waitlist management or the ideal date to close the waitlist. The problem is the student assignment plan. Hale's waitlist only moved in June, because that is when someone bothered to notice the school was seriously under enrolled. That could have been noticed by May 31 or the day after open enrollment for that matter. And here's what is going to happen: the only lists that will move will be schools that are very under enrolled. Two spots here and one spot there will just be ignored. The district will hold those spots because they have no idea what will happen over the summer and they have guaranteed people they can attend one school. Not one school within three miles of your house, not one of the three closest schools to your address, no, one school. A good demographer might be able to predict those numbers with some degree of accuracy, but that doesn't seem to be a district priority, so every year is one big crapshoot. What May 31 does for the district is get current parents off their backs, many of whom have more knowledge about individual school numbers and patterns, than any of the highly paid "experts".


Charlie Mas said...

If they could move the waitlists by May 31, then why haven't they ever done so?

If it serves their interests to move the waitlists by May 31, then why haven't they ever done so?

If it is better for everyone to move the waitlists by May 31, then why haven't they ever done so?

Here's what I think: I think that they won't move the waitlists any more before May 31 than they ever have, they will simply abandon the work on that day.

Anonymous said...

I think Charlie is spot on. This has more to do with easing staff workloads than helping families.

When our son got off a wait list in Sept. he was able to get into a high school that was far closer for our family. It was a HUGE relief.

There is always movement in the fall. Why not keep the waitlists and make one last effort to satisfy families who want a different school?

SPS must become more attentive to family needs than its own. My kids are out of college now and I am still waiting.

S parent

Anonymous said...

I just want to make sure that the question of the distance tiebreaker doesn't get completely lost. Last night there was some discussion of this (I think after you left, Melissa).

For some schools (neighborhood schools) the distance tiebreaker has been instrumental in keeping communities together after boundary changes that split a neighborhood right down the middle. Letting kids from the same neighborhood keep going to school together (provided there is room, as there was in our case) facilitates shared transportation and childcare, after-school playdates, bike trains, etc. However, there is a conflict between the District's goals of providing neighborhood-oriented schools and providing lots of choice. Someone suggested that the distance tiebreaker stay in place for neighborhood schools but be eliminated for option schools and that makes a TON of sense to me.

As boundary changes continue to roll out, other schools will likely have the same experience of inaccurate predictions, leading to open seats at neighborhood schools with reduced boundaries. Keeping the distance tiebreaker allows as many kids as possible from just outside the boundary to keep going to school with their neighbors, as I believe is intended.

--Keep The Distance Tiebreaker for Neighborhood Schools

Anonymous said...

Dissolving the Wait list on May 31 will not work for families unless there are planned changes to the current process of how the Wait lists are managed. I would want to hear from Enrollment what changes they will make so that the Wait lists will actually move.

In my past 8 years of experience the day the Wait list moves the most is after the fourth day of school. That is the day that any hold back seats for students that might move into the district over the summer, confirmation of no shows, and services such as SpecEd are released.

Will this practice be revised to perhaps overbook a school based on the number of hold back seats that normally open up at a specific school? What other changes in process are intended so that Wait lists will actually move before May 31?


Anonymous said... usual, Charlie makes excellent sense. And glad that Kellie persevered. Ms Davies is really really new to the District - this would be her first year on the enrollment battle lines - I think she's a wee bit out gunned by parents who have dealt with SPS's gamesmanship for way too long. There seems to be a general consensus that May 31st is too early given all that happens over the summer. Why not something like mid August if they want time before school actually starts to work out the kinks?


NE parent said...

Another reason May 31st won't work for the waitlist cutoff..the new HCC testing scheme. Kids K-2 now get the Coagt screen first. This is happening Oct-December. If they pass the screen, then they can take the full test. This is going to delay AL placement even more, and families might not know whether their kids qualify until May anyway.

Tresanos said...

StepJ and NE Parent, great points. If I were a new school board member, the points made by Kellie and Melissa would also sway me. I hope the new board members can weigh in on this and craft a motion to amend the staff proposal to change to an 8/15 waitlist? Or will it be too late, handled by old board?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, that's a great question, Tresanos, in the broadest sense.

Next Wednesday is the last Board meeting for this Board make-up. The Board has several big items (maybe more; the agenda isn't up yet).

1) Bell Times - all quiet on the western front so I'm supposing the Board is likely to vote for what staff is putting forward as their main option. My take is that they feel voting on this one is a vote for progress towards better academic outcomes despite the unfairness for the 13 schools in Tier Three.
2) Assignment Plan - I think it VERY worth it to lobby for a change to the waitlist date (or, at the very least, make sure it says it's a PILOT change for one year only). Hearing the Board members speak at the Curriculum & Instruction ctm, it is clear they do NOT want to leave the parents confused (and, secondarily, unhappy.) The document presented needs to be crystal clear.

I don't think this Board wants to leave this to the next group but I would hope that this, the most important document for parents, would be something they don't want to get (knowingly) wrong.

3) review of Superintendent's contract. I think this will be an interesting vote. The Board - who makes this decision - has not presented ONE SINGLE piece of evidence to the public or parents why Nyland should get a raise and/or contract extension. Are they waiting until the vote comes up to explain their thinking? I think that is a big mistake.

Because, the majority could leave parents (and maybe some in the public) enraged. How can the district cry poor - across the board - and give Nyland a raise/extension with no evidence?

I think the vote on his contract could influence how parents see the coming levies. And whether it is a vote against one or both levies or just a lack of campaigning by parents to friends, neighbors, colleagues and family, it could hurt one or both levies.

That's a dangerous place to leave the district as they leave.

But it seems that all four of them leaving truly think he's great so it's hard to say what will happen.

Fight until the vote.

mirmac1 said...

The Bell Times vote is linked to incorrect language in the Transportation Standards. I'm told the incompliant language has been fixed but, of course, won't see it until it's posted on the website I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

SPS is not poor, what a load.


Anonymous said...

Could it be the May 31st deadline is a slow way to kill option schools? (And make less work for the district?)

SPS proceeds as usual but abandons the work 5/31 (like Charlie says), then says there isn't enough interest to sustain the programs because of low enrollment even though parents are still clamoring to get their kids into option schools! But too bad the wait list has been dissolved.

The reason I say this is my kids are in an option program and their class sizes are small this year. Big win for them and us, but so unfair to the kids in traditional schools that are bursting at the seams!!

Ugh, there has to be a better way.


Anonymous said...

There's no way anybody can afford to have seats sitting open at Thornton Creek -- right????


Anonymous said...

And yet... there are 70 students in the 4th grade and 3 classes. Must be nice.


kellie said...

Proposed solutions without an attached problem, just create new problems.

It was clear to me that staff really feels that the waitlist movement and management in September is a problem. However, I don't know what problem they think they are solving with this change.

I remember a conversation back, in the pre-closure time, when a very articulate person from Transportation explained at a community meeting, just how challenging wait list moves were on transportation. She explained that every student movement could mean up to 4-5 bus route changes. This then meant that transportation was not predictable for hundreds of families.

This was in the context of the big ... Therefore, we need students at their neighborhood school because too much choice is creating this problem.

I responded that for my family, we were bus eligible for all schools because we did not have a walkable school (we live close to a closed school, that has since been sold off) and we would never be on a school bus because while our school was pretty close, it was over an hour by school bus.

At that time, I had no way to decline transportation. So she was re-calculating bus routes for my students, who did not ride the bus and I had no way to help.

Based on that meeting, the following year, there was a way to decline transportation, so they didn't keep re-routing buses.

Once the problem is daylighted, there was the possibility of a solution.

kellie said...

I want to also give credit to Ashley Davis for running a good meeting. There wasn't the typical "divide into small groups and discuss." She genuinely tried to answer questions.

However, her answers really illuminated how interconnected systems are and why parent feel so much frustration at isolated solutions.

The waitlist isn't just a waitlist. It is also the mechanism by which the option school lottery is managed. It is the way that split siblings are re-united. It is the way that AL testing is implemented and students re-assigned. It is the way that native speakers are assigned to LI schools. It is the way that pathways for special programs are managed.

The distance tie breaker isn't just a tie breaker. It is the also the way that boundary changes are managed.

The legacy of site based management and the choice systems is complicated.

kellie said...

There is one thing that should be a huge red flag to anyone who lives in any location where there is the smallest chance that a boundary change could impact you.

At the beginning of the change to the NSAP, a key value was keeping families and communities together. There were hundreds of community meetings where the rhetoric was .. you can stay at your current school and we will do everything to keep siblings together when we make the change. By the time, it was implemented, this changed to "space available" for siblings.

There is a huge change happening with regard to "staying at your current school." Previously, once you started at a school, that was it. Unless you changed addresses, you could finish where you started.

Now, Grandfathering is ... if space is available.

Anonymous said...

Kellie - I sincerely hope you have passed along these incredibly astute observations to the Board. It's important stuff for them to have, in the absence of adequate info from other sources.


Anonymous said...

The NSAP was sold as a way to make school assignment predictable for families. It is beginning to look like the choice system was more predictable.

-HS Parent

Maureen said...

Let's not romanticize the old SAP! :)

I'm a huge Alt school fan, so I definitely preferred the old SAP, but most SPS families insisted they wanted "predictability." They wanted "neighborhood schools." They got those things exactly as requested. They knew boundaries would have to be redrawn on occasion, but they chose to support the short run "predictability" of placement (not class size or school size or sibling placement or program quality....just a known building to go to.)

kilngoddess said...

Hi Melissa. Not sure you'll get this in time. I'm at the WA Middle School mtng. Regarding "PLEASE someone, at the other two meetings, please ask her to define "clean up language" because I perceive this could be a key element to watch over."

Is there a good specific question I should ask?

Anonymous said...


"They knew boundaries would have to be redrawn on occasion, but they chose to support the short run "predictability" of placement (not class size or school size or sibling placement or program quality....just a known building to go to.)"

There were boundary changes back in 2010, when the NSAP was implemented. The difference between then and now was that there were grandfathered assignments so kids could stay at their established schools, even if the attendance boundaries changed. For several years there was even grandfathered transportation (what a concept!).

I honestly don't think that anyone who has chosen for their child to attend their "neighborhood school" did so thinking that it wouldn't be their child's permanent placement (through the highest grade level offered).

I am hoping that grandfathering "if available" doesn't make it into the latest round of SAP revisions...otherwise there are going to be many, many surprised and outraged families in coming years, but I guess we won't find out what wording makes it in the SAP until late tomorrow afternoon?

-North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, that is why I asked for someone attending any other meeting on the assignment plan ask about the phrase "clean-up language" which both Herndon and Davies used at the C&I committee meeting. What does that mean?

kilngoddess said...

I asked what "clean-up language" meant, specifically. Ashley got out the 2013-14 transition plan and very specifically went through the pages saying they would only be changing language that was outdated - specifically changing things like APP to HCC, and updating the list of schools in Appendixes A & C. She also said they are removing Appendix B "Open Choice Seats" because it is no longer relevant. I honestly didn't know enough about that to ask more questions.

The phrase "if available" was brought up. Her response was much the same as Tuesday, "there are a lot of factors that go into determining if seats are available" she said they hoped a child who ended up in a new boundary after redistricting would still be able to stay at the school they've been attending, but it would just depend on how many seats were needed for the students who were actually living in the new boundaries. So, sounds as if the that phrase is staying.

I also asked about the proposal for a pilot program. She said those comments were run by "the board", but they really need a definite date for dissolving the waitlist, and feel there's too much uncertainty allowing people to think it's not a deadline.

Another parent from Pathfinder suggested they try making all the changes they're talking about making to get the wait-list to move faster, and see if that actually happens before they set this May 31 date, since it seemed they were counting on quite a few uncontrollable factors to make it possible to actually dissolve the wait-list on May 31. Clearly, they chose May 31, and absolutely nothing will make them reconsider.

Sounds like

WSmom said...

I'm wondering what the impact of removing Appendix B is? I don't know enough about this but I was under the impression that the "choice" seats at high school it's referring to are to guarantee a certain number of seats in programs like IB to kids outside the attendance zone. That is what I understood from comments made when the first more extreme redline version came out. I may be completely wrong about this? At last nights meeting Ashley Davis it will be removed because "it's no longer relevant".

On the topic of the distance tie breaker, it was discussed. However peoples concerns about it were met with phrases like. "people will still have a spot at their neighborhood school.", this will make it more equal..."boundaries have to be drawn somewhere" when people pointed out things like living 3 blocks from one school and being zoned to another. "kids who are at a school will be grandfathered in.

I don't think SPS realize people are also thinking about I buy a house that is 3 blocks away from a school when my kid is 3 and then when they are 5 they are zoned elsewhere.

As to May 31, they seem to be stuck on it. While Ashley Davies answered questions there were a lot of things she seemed to be unable to answer for someone who is Director of Enrollment and Planning.

There were questions about how they will move the wait list faster and she couldn't answer it. I was the one that suggested trying all these things to move it faster and leave the date as it is for now.

The answer to that and any mention of changing the date was "we need to set a date. Parents and teachers need to be able to plan"

I think parents are not interested in planning so much as getting their kid in the school they really want.

She also mentioned talking to staff in various building and she said that they like the idea of being able to plan better. I would like to know how many they really talked to and how they phrased the question.

I do find it interesting at these meetings that there were no comment cards for parents, the emails of the relevant offices to contact weren't on the slides. Emails were given when I asked but I feel that is one of those things that SPS should just have as standard. Unless Flip was taking notes there was no official note taking.

There were 4 translators that were not needed . There were about 10 people total who showed up including a couple who self identified as this being their second meeting.

One kind of scary thing someone mentioned was...does the district plan to overenroll schools based on past movement to make sure all spots are filled. Ashley Davies was somewhat evasive on this questions. She said well we would need to discuss that with individual schools.

I also asked that if they close the wait list for an option school may 31 and those seats aren't filled are they going to guarantee that they won't lose staff in the fall if they are under enrolled at the time.

I also said that my daughters school and option school runs at about 100%, perhaps a little less in upper grades because our principal makes an effort to fill those seats off the wait list. How is closing it early going to help planning. Well those kids then transfer from somewhere else.

In general we need more of a buffer basically so that if a classroom isn't at max one year, so be it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you to all for the reflections on last night's meeting.

I mentioned the issue of "choice seats" to both Herndon and Davies at the C&I meeting. Pretty blank looks. I asked, "why have this if there are none and almost never have been?" They didn't say what they said to you but this is likely part of the clean-up.

I guess the district could say there IS rigor at all high schools and they have expanded IB to the north and south. But the district made a very conscious effort in years back to NOT have cookie-cutter high schools and it seems sad that some kids cannot get into Ballard's Bio-tech or highly regarded video production programs. Or Roosevelt's drama program (which includes classes.) Or the jazz band programs. And even the STEM at Cleveland program because they are deliberately underenrolling it.

No comment cards - that's odd because there were at the first meeting.

"Does the district plan to overenroll schools based on past movement to make sure all spots are filled?"

As for a pilot waitlist date - they can do this. All they have to do is tell the Board they are trying this for next year and will report back on how well it works. Nothing - as evidenced by their own redlining - is written in stone.

I'm unclear on what you mean - based on past patterns, they will overenroll some school because they know those schools experience a high degree of movement?

kellie said...

Predictability is a relative word, not an empirical word. - Predictability FOR whom ABOUT what?

While Maureen asked people to not romanticize the old choice plan, don't romanticize the change either.

The change did NOT happen because "people wanted predictability" It happened because there were lots of people who did NOT have a choice. The change happened because

* the families on Queen Anne and Magnolia had not choice about high school and got whatever was left over after other families chose and took this all the way to the Supreme Court!

* families in Lake City did not have a choice about middle school, they got what was left over.

* every cluster had multiple dead zones, where those families got whatever was left over.

The old plan was "Choice for Some" based on whether or not you had an address that was close enough.

kellie said...

I am certain that someone, somewhere in the district truly believes that the wait list, closing in May and therefore, effectively NOT existing will give them MORE predictability.

For the schools that effectively lose students in wait list moves, this would "look-like" an improvement because it looks like another school stole their students. But that simply is not correct.

Families on a wait list are an indicator that families are making choices to go elsewhere. The wait list gives them chance to go somewhere within the system. If there was not wait list, the would simply make choices to go out of district or elsewhere.

In other words, families that want to leave will find a way to leave. The wait list empowers more people to try to stay.

Charlie Mas said...

Predictability isn't good when the predictable outcome is bad.

Anonymous said...

So wait. I'm confused. She's saying they can't do a pilot run of the May 31st waitlist deadline date because they need a definite date??? Isn't May 31st definite enough?

No one is saying you can't pick a date - just that May 31st is too early for all the reasons discussed above.


Anonymous said...

Most of the problems with the NSAP plan are really problems of being over capacity, aren't they? The constant niggling with boundaries we have now would have been larger and larger dead zones under the old choice plan. SPS is so much more crowded than it was 6 years ago- all this desire to keep communities together certainly could not have happened under the old choice plan. I watched the attendance area for our neighborhood school get shrunk in by blocks per year between 2003 and 2008. By now more of the SNE would be dead zone than attendance area. And the dead zones tended to be less affluent(Lake City for middle school). I wish the district would use the boundary drawing power to create more equity in the schools than they do (Wedgwood in JAMS, pls, see also Cedar Park and Sand Point), but the old plan would almost certainly have been headed toward less equity, as well. And some of the lack of creation of equity has to do with the tiny, tight margins of error in capacity, so that they need EXACTLY FIVE KIDS MORE, and that means this block and not that, no matter how poor or affluent that makes the school.

I do think what they are doing to Cleveland is shameful, and always think a pull is preferable to a push. If RB is so bad that many kids want to escape it, improve it. Don't make kids stay there, when you'll let kids at Garfield leave if they want.


Anonymous said...

Kellie, that has been what I have observed. We had a friend whose son wanted to go to Hale but was two blocks over in the Roosevelt area. He didn't get in on the waitlist. He went to Roosevelt for 2 weeks and was so miserable because all his friends were at Hale and Roosevelt was too big for him. He transferred to a private high school for the rest of freshman year and then transferred out of district for sophomore year.


WSmom said...

"I'm unclear on what you mean - based on past patterns, they will overenroll some school because they know those schools experience a high degree of movement?"

That is what the question seemed to be getting at.

This was from a comment/question from a parent at the meeting. One of the comments from Ashley Davies is they will be looking at past enrollment or some such thing to help move the waitlist faster.

Someone asked how would you predict that and ensure there are no empty spaces...basically same answer about looking at past enrollment and we need work on implementing it...

So then parent asked (and I"m paraphrasing)...If you are expecting many students to move, would you over enroll a school to ensure that those spaces are not empty at the end of the year. Ashley Davies didn't out and out say no and she didn't say no and she didn't say yes.

She may just have been completely unprepared for the question but it's an interesting question none the less.

I also find it interesting that there doesn't seem to be a real plan in place to move the wait list faster.

She also said the new document outlining changes should be available today because it has to be posted with the school board agenda.

Anonymous said...

I work in an option school. Our kindergarten list in June always has loads of kids on it that never show up (they go to private school and our school is their back-up plan). How is the district going to confirm that the kids who get in to an option school actually want to come before May 31st? If they don't take drastic action in in April and May to confirm seats/move the waitlist, our enrollment in kinder will plummet.

Anonymous said...

It's not so much that the district needs to go back to the old student assignment plan, but how about tweaking the plan they have? How about ending the waitlist on June 30 (seems silly to end it before the school year even ends) but also ending guaranteed seats at schools by that date as well? Instead of your assignment school, those who enroll after June 30 will get a seat at a school within 3 miles (or whatever) of their address. These families could then switch to their neighborhood school if they still want to the following year by June 30. An awful lot of Seattleites live pretty darn close to more than one elementary school. I think the point of the NSAP was to keep students in their neighborhood schools - but if you constantly have to redefine the boundaries - you are shooting yourself in the foot. At least the district would know what they are working with by the time the next year starts.

Current students should absolutely be grandfathered. Why kick one student out to make room for a new student? Then you have two students starting at a new school rather than just one. I don't know. Maybe this isn't fair to newcomers. But if you are new, you're new. You don't already have a lot invested in a neighborhood to begin with. Does it really make that much difference where you start?

Just a thought.


Anonymous said...

Tracey Libros always overenrolled our school for K. We often have a lot during the summer due to kids going to private school, so we started out with higher numbers. We don't find out drops until August, definitely not by May 31st! Everyone I've talked to who works at a school thinks it is a crazy date. Seems they should just be clear and say we don't want to do waitlists anymore.

nacmom said...

I have a few questions:

1) how are wait lists even formed before 5/31 if open enrollment runs thru 5/31??are they formed and then dissolved on the same day?

2) why are we accepting the districts assertion that a date change is the way to fix this problem? I counter that a process change in how the wait lists are moved & managed (or not) in September is the (obviously) better solution.

3) why are student and family outcomes seemingly never considered? Yes, this is a rhetorical question.