As I previously reported, I attended last week's Growth Boundary meeting at Eckstein. I estimate that there were about 50 people there, many from Green Lake Elementary and Sacajawea Elementary. Staff in attendance included Enrollment's Ashley Davies, Facilities' Flip Herndon as well as Board member, Jill Geary.
The next boundary meeting is this Tuesday at Hamilton at 6:30 pm. and on Thursday at Mercer MS at 6:30 pm.
There was no formal agenda handed out but there was a PowerPoint. However, there were nearly 50 pages of maps. Printed out on very nice paper in color. I cannot imagine the cost for this. There was one single regional map (West Seattle.) The maps are not all that useful because they don't show the original boundaries, just "retained" or "implemented"boundaries.
And yet, when Director Geary went to look at the maps, she asked, "Where's the big one that had it all on one page?" It was not there. That is a fascinating thing to know that there IS one map with all the changes and yet, not handed out nor put up for general viewing at the meeting.
Not a whisper about high schools.
(My aside is that staff had not properly prepared for this meeting. There was no signage anywhere to the front of where the meeting was. Even Mr. Herndon was wandering around. As well, the meeting did not start on-time. That's a problem for a one-hour meeting. Also, they didn't have the microphone working for 20 minutes. Tough to hear in a cafeteria that echoes.)
Here is the staff's list of amendments.
- If your school may be affected by boundary changes, you will get a letter - twice - from the district. Once to let you know of the possibility and then, if your school is affected by a change.
- There was quite the wordsmithing by Ms. Davies about what different votes would mean. The Board already voted in boundary changes but now staff wants new ones. Indeed, the Board may want some new ones (see Cedar Park.) The Board has to vote in any new changes via amendments.
- It does appear that the district is changing some of the Cedar Park boundaries to not have kids cross a very busy street but that doesn't change who is to be enrolled in the school.
While boundary changes are important, I think the MOST important item for parents to be aware of is that grandfathering is NOT going to happen in most cases. This is interesting because in the last round of boundary meetings, in April 2016, the district said this:
• Grandfathering means that students are able to remain at their current school through the highest grade offered.
– Aside from instances where new schools are opening, SPS aims to grandfather students whenever possible, based on capacity at the impacted schools.
– More information on grandfathering for 2017-18 will be provided in the fall community meetings.
• Transportation is not provided for grandfathered students.
Now yes, the district doesn't guarantee grandfathering but they certainly make it sound like it probably will only happen where new schools are opening. That was in April so we had the same capacity issues and now? Here's what the district says now on grandfathering.
It appears it won't happen in middle school.
On Sped and grandfathering, they said they will "try to minimize any changes or impacts."
Highlights of questions from audience:
- one teacher said it appeared that 45% of students in the district will be displaced in some way and that school staff and parents need to see the data.
- also, how will the district support schools that experience change in demographics? We know that some schools that have a high F/RL population suffer if those number drop just below the cutoff for supports.
- Why is there no Teaching and Learning staff here to answer questions. Ms. Davies first said they weren't needed and then said she had talked with T&L but couldn't answer any questions on that issue. So maybe they need to make sure someone from T&L is there.
- Why isn't there any analysis on using portables for grandfathering versus all this rearranging? Staff seemed to want the audience to believe that the use of portables is already large and the goal is to cut back. I'll just note that when staff wants portables, they bring them in.
- What big theme was how this splitting up of communities will hurt them. One woman pointed out that her school had worked hard to create a community spirit for fundraising and that it has literally taken years. She said that would change will all this rearranging.
- Green Lake Elementary explained they are the only neighborhood school with two dual language programs.
- There was also a complaint about being redrawn out of a school, only to get to a school that has no more spaces for childcare.
- Apparently there is a spreadsheet with more data and Ms. Davies promised that would be made available.