My take from public testimony is that there are a couple of big concerns:
- grandfathering (many, many calls for this to be expanded)
- uncertain pathways to middle school
- boundary changes that affect too many schools and their communities
I cannot urge you enought to collaborate with other parents/schools and get those thoughts to the Board ASAP.
firstname.lastname@example.org (for just the Board) or email@example.com (includes senior management)
Here's what was said during the Board meeting on this topic.
During the Superintendent's comments (way too long again, he's got to get a grip), Flip Herndon came forward to make some remarks on capacity management. He stated:
- As we look at these changes, we realize that there is a student behind every number
- In a city that is growing, there is a challenge for space even with multiple portables and we cannot build fast enough. (That is the first time I have heard a district official say that we cannot build our way out of this problem.)
- While some changes have already happened and others are to come by 2020, the ones coming directly ahead are the biggest in the seven year span for growth management.
- The district has held community meetings in the spring and fall and read all the e-mail on this topic.
- Time is important and decisions need to be made. (Let me just say that staff ALWAYS uses this reasoning and, while true, it is absolutely wrong to rush a decision. See: building closures. Huge, costly facilities mistake.)
- They have been operating under the basic parameters that the Board made in 201
53 and the direction has been to look at new data and they have done that every year. New data may suggest something else but not to redraw boundaries each year.
- There has been one specific request from the Board about Cedar Park with a lot of feedback from parents. Facilities has been looking at that, using the race and equity toolkit and looked at a dozen solutions. (I did point out in my testimony that the promised documents labeled "D" and "E" never made it to the BAR nor did the transportation costs that were directly promised in the BAR to be there. I have no idea how the Board is to make these kinds of decisions without all the data before them that staff promises to be there.)
- one John Rogers parent said that 800 elementary students in their region would be displaced by the Cedar Park boundaries. She documented the terrible condition at John Rogers and asked if the Board could ask Seattle legislators for a "distressed schools grant" to fix John Rogers AND that they put a pause on plans for Cedar Park.
- An Olympic Hills parents said they had done analysis and the new boundaries would create a very segregated school and that they were not alone in their assessment. He noted the letter from the North District Council on this topic.
- A Sacajawea parent said 59 students at their school would have to go to another school with 60% of those students being minority students. She asked for a more "robust" community engagement.
-Another John Rogers parent noted that she could come and advocate because she owned a computer, her job let her get off early to come to the Board meeting, she has a car and she can speak English. her own daughter is biracial and would lose many of her friends of color. She said that her daughter would learn "that part of who she is does not belong at John Rogers anymore."
- An Olympic View parent said they are likely to lose half their school to other communities, splitting kids in all directions. She said they managed to get 100 parents to a meeting to rally. And, that most of those students leaving are F/RL.
- A parent from Viewlands said that they would have 120 students affected by boundary changes. She said they had just reopened five years ago and have spent a lot of time working to create relationships with families.
- Another Olympic View parent said he had wanted his children to be able to walk/bike to school but the new boundaries make that "unrealistic."
- A parent from Green Lake said that many of their students affected by boundary changes would go to Bryant which is also overenrolled. He suggested sending kids to B.F. Day which is about 100 students under capacity.
- Another Green Lake parent said that 12 students who are 4th graders and had been at GL since kindergarten would be drawn out by the new boundaries.
- Another Viewlands parent said her child would be rezoned to Olympic View which is two miles away, across Aurora, NSCC, I-5 and the Northgate Park and Ride.
- Another parent wondered why Whitman would suddenly take a big population drop while HIMS would continue to be overenrolled.
- Another parent said that there were about 100 families in Lake City who could not come to the Oly Hills meeting and were told to go to the Board meeting. She said boundary shifts "hurt poor families." She said the Lake City region was one of the fasting growing areas in the city.
- Another parent, Rosa Rodriguez, is a PTA co-president at Sacajawea but her child would have to move with the boundary changes. Her co-president, Matt Walker, spoke passionately about the relationships that are developed for at-risk kids and how school is "a haven" and he worried about big change for 4th graders who then have to move again in 6th grade.
- I spoke as well and said that the creation of Cedar Park, in its current form, flies in the face of all best practices about not concentrating a high number of F/RL students (plus ELL.) I also stated that it was odd that staff was planning to consider "an assessment of facilities/capital needs for Cedar Park and John Rogers" and I asked if that wasn't something to consider BEFORE boundary changes?
Here's yet another issue sent to me by a Bagley parent:
Zone 124 is the NE corner of the West Woodland boundary. Essentially it covers 65th St to 70th St. and Aurora to Phinney Ave.Board comments
Based on the current growth plan and proposed amendments, our Zone will change from West Woodland to Bagley next year.
Many of the families are concerned about this change and have 2 specific areas of concern.
1. Bagley is going to undergo construction starting in 2018 and will close for 2 years. We do not believe that it makes sense for our children to be transitioned to Bagley 1 year before a closure that will cause them to move again. My 1st grader would have to endure 3 moves in 4 years. K,1 - WW, 2 - Bagley, 3,4 - other school, 5 - Back to Bagley.
2. We are concerned about the safety of crossing Aurora between 70th and 68th. South of those crossing spots the speed limit is 40 MPH and 68th will be the first light that is encountered by traffic. Given the early start times we do not think this is safe for children. King County Metro decided to keep the E-line on Linden Ave instead of Aurora specifically because they were concerned about Aurora crossing in that area.
We think that at least waiting until Bagley construction is complete will allow SPS to the time to determine validity of safety issues.
Directors, to a person, thanked all the speakers. They also said they were inundated with e-mails but working their way thru them. (Director Burke was out of the country but I know he always watches the Board meetings; Director Blanford was late due to an emergency. I believe he came in sometime during the public testimony.)
Director Harris expressed concern about the lack of pathways for HCC and the possibility of Cedar Park being an Option School.
Enrollment's Lesley Davies said they had done a data review in January 2016.
There are a number of amendments that staff wants to make (I will try to get their presentation.)
Director Harris pointed out the HUGE amount of work to be done by the November 2nd vote. Ms. Davies said that they would need to talk to the community. (I will get up the notice of any new meetings coming up as soon as they are announced.)
Herdon said that the earlier that the Board can get amendments to staff, the better because the analysis will be more complete. I can certainly appreciate that but again, the number of challenges and solutions may preclude a lot of early amendments especially if the Board is waiting on data.
Director Blanford said that he wasn't on the Board in 2013 but was watching "and anticipating joining the Board" after the election (a little arrogant on his part) and asked what was the minimum time staff needed for analysis of amendments. Herndon said it would depend on the complexity of the amendment and how many there might be.
He said, "We want to respect the sanity of enrollment staff as much as possible."
I think we that for all SPS staff but that respect thing? Goes two ways and the upheaval for the north end that these boundary changes would cause, both for families and school communities, also needs to be respected.
Director Geary asked if amendments could be sorted (in some manner) for those that were either easier and/or non-controversial. Herndon said that was a procedural issue.