Thursday, September 15, 2016

Keep Calm But What's Up with The Growth Boundaries?

Today is the Operations committee meeting where they will be discussing proposed boundary changes. The Committee will then take a vote on whether to move them forward to the full Board for approval. Agenda.

Off the bat, this 92-page document is going to take a lot of surveying and analysis.  There are many moving parts here and I'll be interested to see what the district tells communities at the meetings on this issue that start next week.

I also worry that the Board will not fully understand what is being considering, how if affects regions and, as well, the entire district.  There needs to be a micro to macro picture presented.

Also, to note, the Work Session document from yesterday had added pages about options for the tiers for transportation.

The discussion starts on page 40 of the Operations agenda.

Implementation of these amendments will allow for a more efficient use of school building capacity. Staff estimates that these changes would result in fewer portables at the affected schools, and each portable currently costs the District approximately $160,000.

The fiscal impact of these changes from a transportation perspective requires a more granular analysis and is difficult to determine at this time. The amendments could produce savings, increase costs, or be cost neutral depending on whether the number of students who will need transportation increases or decreases as a result of this proposal. After detailed enrollment counts take place at the end of September, staff will produce a more detailed analysis of transportation fiscal impacts prior to the scheduled introduction date of October 12, 2016. 
With the approval of the Growth Boundaries Plan for Student Assignment motion from November 20, 2013, progress toward the end-state 2020 boundaries is to be phased in gradually, at the discretion of staff. The new boundaries, as well as location of services and programs, are intended to be implemented in phases in alignment with the BEX IV construction schedule and enrollment changes. Some changes were already implemented; others cannot be implemented for several years because they are dependent on completion of BEX IV projects. 
Also to note:

Additional Meetings:
  •   January 12, 2016: JSCEE Meeting with Sanislo and Denny principals to discuss moving
    Sanislo into the Denny feeder pattern
  •   February 17, 2016: Sand Point Elementary School Meeting with Sand Point and
    Laurelhurst principals and Sand Point PTA president to discuss 2017-18 boundary changes
  •   February 20, 2016: JSCEE Meeting with Sand Point, Laurelhurst, Thornton Creek, and
    Bryant principals to discuss 2017-18 boundary changes
  •   May 6, 2016: B. F. Day Elementary School Meeting with B. F. Day principal, B. F. Day
    PTA president, and vice president to discuss 2017-18 boundary changes 
From the ever-smart district facilities and capacity expert, Kellie LaRue:
Please note, there is NO separate document with just the changes. The changes start on PAGE 24 of the attachments to the meeting agenda. The pages are numbered up to page 23 but there are no numbers after that to note all of the other changes.

Also note, that NOT INCLUDED is the list of scheduled boundary changes for 2017. This is ONLY the amended boundary changes.

Now, I have to say that the proposed changes are shockingly sane. A huge complaint about growth boundaries was that they were shifting small areas from one over-crowded school to another over-crowded school. The majority of the “changes” are actually removing the change and leaving things the same. 
But here is the BIG PROBLEM and it is on the LAST PAGE of text right before the maps start. (again there is no page number to reference). 
They are recommending formally that there will be NO GRANDFATHERING at the majority of the changes. This means that they are actively planning to Geo-split elementary students.
They also finally admit that there are some problem with the whole Cedar Park situation that will need some further examination.  
The maps are really quite good and do a great job of highlighting what is going on.  
Another reader points out:
View Ridge and Wedgwood get grandfathering in 2017, but nobody else?  See p 47.

The chart reveals that they are doing it for those schools because of "small numbers of students."  I think it will still be hard on other communities.

Cedar Park
This group, the Cedar Park Racial Equity Analysis Team (CPREAT), was charged with providing recommendations to the School Board that will minimize and mitigate disparate impacts of boundary and assignment changes when Cedar Park Elementary School opens in 2017-18.
Taking steps to assess the demographic balance, program placement, and economic status of students attending Cedar Park, John Rogers, and Olympic Hills is a move towards providing racial and educational equity. Enrollment Planning has utilized the Race and Equity tool and worked with the Equity and Race Relations team and impacted school communities to evaluate alternative scenarios to the Board’s approved plan in order to assess impacts of the proposed changes in regards to economic status, English language learners, special education students, and school demographics.

The recommended mitigations as developed by staff (including the principals of Cedar Park, John Rogers, and Olympic Hills elementary schools, the Executive Director of Schools- Northeast Region, the Director of School-Family Partnerships and Race and Equity, the Director of Enrollment Planning, and the Associate Superintendent for Facilities and Operations) are listed in the full Racial Equity Analysis (attached as Attachment C). 


kellie said...

Thank you Mel for posting all of this.

I think it is important to remember the context of these Growth Boundary changes and the subsequent geo-splits. The vote for Growth Boundaries was in November 2013 (three years ago). However, the data that used for that vote was based on the enrollment data from earlier. In other words, the vote in 2013 did was not based on 2013 enrollment data but 2012 enrollment data.

How many 1,000s of students have been added since 2012. How have the 2012 projections matched the reality of 2016 enrollment. That is the ONLY question that should be driving a geo-split. A geo-split has a huge impact on families and a 2017 geosplit should not be based future-boundaries created with 2012 data.

At a bare minimum, a decision of this scope, should be examined from the point of view of this year's enrollment data.

IMHO, every boundary in the North Seattle should be re-examined. They have decided to scrap 50% of the proposed changes. What about the other 50% makes them credible, particularly with no grandfathering.

Anonymous said...

Going through the various scenarios, it is interesting how the question of maintaining John Rogers Title 1 designation keeps coming up


Anonymous said...


For many years, John Rogers was hovering just under the threshold for Title 1 funding. The school became eligible for Title 1 a few years ago, and it made a huge difference in funding for much-needed intervention staffing.

The number of kids who need help isn't much different if you have 39% FRL -vs- 41% FRL, but the amount of support the school is able to provide with Title 1 funds, for instance a Math Specialist, is substantial. The PTA from a school with 39% FRL isn't going to be able to provide any more support for intervention funding than a school with 41% FRL. So, I hope you can understand why a school losing Title 1 status would be something to take under consideration during boundary change evaluations.

With the geo-split in 2017, John Rogers enrollment will drop precipitously from about 390 kids to a projected 251 students, resulting in huge cuts in staffing and supports for the kids who remain at John Rogers. Losing Title 1 is a bummer, but, IMO, the geo-split itself will cause the most damage to the school's budget.

-North-end Mom

Benjamin Leis said...

I think it would be useful to attach the map of the shifts:

Fundamentally what is occurring is we have a fixed geographic region which is being redivided because Cedar Park is coming online. This requires all the boundaries around it to shift south and westward and the effect is cascading. I've seen complaints to the effect why are you both adding and subtracting students to School X? Thats explained by the need to move the reference areas around. Likewise, there are complaints of being added to an already full building that don't recognize that more than one segment is moving that compensate for this.

I actually don't think much of the long term issues are avoidable. The Cedar park boundaries as drawn are actually a very regular rectangle with the school at its center and not nearly as gerrymandered as for example when Sand Point was started up.

If you try to shift the demographics, you are going to end up with a much more complicated map (that's not going to be as walkable) and for those schools besides the adjacent John Rogers and Olympic Hills the cascading consequences are probably going to be fairly similar.

Its also probably worth separating fundamental issues like school demographics based on the boundaries versus staffing levels. We could for example, fix a shortfall at John Rogers through budgeting changes to mitigate the enrollment drops.

Anonymous said...


The Cedar Park boundaries, as drawn, are not "walkable." The Cedar Park attendance area is bisected by Lake City Way and 35th Ave NE. Kids living west of Lake City Way will get school bus transportation (community members had to lobby hard to get yellow bus service for those kids!). Kids living in SHA's Lake City Court will be crossing 35th Ave NE somewhere between 130th and 135th (near Fred Meyer)...and there are no signalized crosswalks along that stretch of 35th Ave NE, and was the site of an ADULT pedestrian -vs- school bus accident earlier this year. It is not walkable, but it is how the walk zone is drawn.

Cedar Park will draw from the highest-poverty neighborhoods on both sides of Lake City Way. Currently, those on the west side of Lake City Way (i.e. Little Brook and Jackson Park Village) go to Olympic Hills, and those on the east side of Lake City Way (i.e. Lake City Court and the 33rd Ave corridor) attend John Rogers. Cedar Park, even with the recommended boundary revisions, has the potential to become an extremely high-poverty school...but I guess that is acceptable if the attendance area is a tidy rectangle, and they can save on transportation costs?

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I was part of the Race and Equity Toolkit Analysis Team and brought up the loss of Title 1 at John Rogers. As North-end Mom points out, there is of course the reality of the necessary supports for students at John Rogers. But actually, at the last meeting I said that I felt that statement should be changed to say that segregation will be increasing in the Northeast. The loss of Title 1 is an indicator of the loss of diversity that will be happening at John Rogers, as well as Sacajawea, Olympic View, and Laurelhurst.

The intersection of a capacity crisis, the way boundary lines are drawn, and the housing policies that push people of color and low income families to main arterials and away from neighborhoods are creating a huge impact specifically on minority, ELL, and low-income families. These families will be impacted again in the next few years, as these boundaries will very likely change again. Capacity is creating trama for everyone, HCC families, SpEd Families, ELL families.

I understand that the boundary looks walkable from a map, but there are huge traffic safety issues with the lack of lighted crosswalks, sidewalks and traffic controls. We are VERY concerned about the safety of the students walking from the West of 35th to school.

I am happy to share my experience and the information I have collected with a few other parents with anyone. Feel free to reach out. Please keep in mind, John Rogers will be pushing over capacity in a dilapidated building, hopefuly without rats...


Anonymous said...

My first grader currently attends Viewlands and it looks like our boundary is changing to Olympic View. I have really been counting on grandfathering because we absolutely do not want the disruption of changing schools in the middle of elementary. The kindergarten start was already rocky enough. Plus Olympic View is on the other side of I-5 from us. The website states the recommendation is to only grandfather 4th & 5th graders to stay at Viewlands. Besides writing the school board, what else can we do to keep our kid at the school that has become part of our community? I am really hoping that we do not have to apply as a choice school for a lot of reasons, but one of them being that the timing of choice school notifications makes it necessary for families whose require before and after school care to put deposits down for 2 programs due to not knowing what school we will be in.


Anonymous said...


Director Pinkham is having his monthly community meeting on Saturday, from 3:45-5:15 pm, at the Broadview Library. At this point, it is up to the School Board, so, if possible, this would be a good time for you to connect with him. He may not be aware of the the before/after school care issue for parents who are waiting for open enrollment decisions due to boundary changes and school reassignment.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Thx North End Mom! Good idea. I plan on going.


kellie said...

The official "growth boundaries meetings" start this Thursday at Eckstein. I would encourage anyone who has an issue with grandfathering, boundary changes, or high school capacity to attend one of the meetings.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the OH parents on the Cedar Park race/equity taskforce. Put simply, I do not think that the final decision (which did not involve parents) was equitable. See my blog post on the OH PTA site for more details: