Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Seattle Schools Statement on Waitlists

From SPS Communications:

School Choice has ended and waitlists have been dissolved for the 2016-17 school year. 

 School Choice began February 17, 2016, ended May 31, 2016, and waitlist moves continued until waitlists were dissolved on August 15, 2016. 

The August 15 waitlist dissolution date was established to provide greater predictability around student assignment and minimize staffing disruption for schools and families prior to the start of school. Enrollment Planning and Admissions will review this dissolution date prior to School Choice for 2017-18 and recommend changes if needed. 

This year, 5,653 students participated in School Choice and 3,046 students were granted a choice assignment. Although more than 50 percent of families who participated in School Choice were granted a seat at a school of their choice, we understand the disappointment that families may feel if they were not granted a seat at a school of their choice. 

As a result of the growth in Seattle Public Schools and the reduction in elementary school class sizes, choice seats are very limited. Attendance area schools must ensure that they have sufficient space to serve the students who live in their neighborhood, and many option schools across the district have more students who apply for admission than there are seats available. 

To see 2016-17 student assignment information, please visit our assignment look up tool on the Admissions webpage

If you believe there is an error in your child’s assignment, please see the information on assignment appeals webpage.

You'll note there is no information about space that may be available at any given school.  I'll ask but I suspect that any available seats will be held in case someone new comes into the district.  I'm not even sure that principals have any discretion anymore.


Lynn said...

That's a lot of disappointed families. I would like to see data on which attendance areas they live in. That should inform decisions about opening new option schools and possibly converting current schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, what do you mean by "converting current schools?"

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the District can't leave the waitlists in place until the end of September. That would allow them to move kids off the waitlist once they know the actual enrollment (either kids didn't return to the school or fewer new kids moved in than they anticipated).


Anonymous said...

At #1 on the wait list, we were lucky enough to move from our neighborhood school to our first choice option school on the last day. But, I was told that we didn't move, the wait list was dissolved and if it turned out that there was room at the option school after the first week or so of school that we could still NOT move. Only NEW kids to the district could take any open option school seats. So you COULD have option schools with projected full enrollment on 8/15, then when kids don't show up on 9/7 or the following week, those seats go unfilled and the school could be below capacity. Not a good situation with how crowded/full things are everywhere.

The other interesting thing is that it is clear that the principals do NOT have discretion anymore. The enrollment person I talked to said that the schools are told how many classes per grade, kids per each class, whether there are split classes and how many per each grade in each split. So the principal basically gets to decide who the teacher is for each classroom configuration and which names go in the boxes. No room to move things around.

It used to be that each elementary school got a total FTE count based on their total projected enrollment and the school staff figured out the best way to make that work based on what they knew to be the dynamics of the school and individual classes/classroom sizes, etc.

Not much room for site based decision making anymore, even though they know the needs and dynamics of the school better than anyone.

QA Parent

Lynn said...


I meant conversion by the district of attendance area schools into option schools. My thinking was that we clearly don't have enough seats in option schools. If there are attendance area schools where a large number of families are making school choice requests, maybe the district should consider offering programs people prefer. Madrona for example might enroll more students if it offered the same program as TOPS.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jane, I think the reason they don't want to extend the waitlist time is to control the size of the population. If schools get slightly overenrollled, the district would have to give them more money (or an assistant principal.) I think they want to avoid that.

QA Parent is right and this may be what the issue is around the principals contract. I think the principals may be frustrated over what they can control and what they can't. (The Executive Session after the Board meeting tomorrow night is likely about the contract.)

Lynn, I think if you converted Madrona into TOPS 2, it would fill in about a day.

Lynn said...

I'm frustrated over what the principals can control too. There should be very little site-based decision making outside of option schools. Most students have no choice but to attend their attendance-area school and so the programs should be the same at each. I am thinking of things like:

Elementary School:
*number and length of recesses every day
*specialist classes available (music, art, PE)
*minutes of PE each week
*walk to math (or not)

Middle & High School:
*number of languages offered
*requirements for PE waivers
*electives offered
*method in which instruction is differentiated for advanced students (blended or separate classes)

For all schools:
*amount of homework allowed or required to be assigned for each grade
*math curriculum used

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, that's the thing - we, as parents and community, don't really know what the principals can or cannot do. You left off "decide how to implement AL." That's certainly proven to be within their discretion.

Anonymous said...

I did notice a lot of movement on the numbers at my kids school over the last few days before 8/15. I have to give SPS some credit here; they did appear to be trying to move as many as they could before deadline vs letting it just lay static.

- MemoReader

NE parent said...

Pretty much none of the advanced learning waitlists for any school and any grade moved. Even kids that were already enrolled in that school couldn't get into the program.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't understand why there is an advanced learning waitlist anyway.
How is an Advanced Learning seat different from a General Education seat? They are in the same room with the same teacher, aren't they?

NE parent said...

The difference is bussing and walk to math, though some schools allow current students to do walk to math based on their AL designation and not actually being in AL program.