From the Madrona K-8 PTA:
According to the PTA, the school/PTA was indeed told to market the school themselves and that Enrollment had done all it could. Additionally, apparently the district seems to think it is hearing too much from these parents on this issue - I'm thinking staff means that they answered their questions so why do they keep asking? That's never a good sign when staff wants parents to go away..Dear Superintendent Nyland-We at Madrona K-8 have been struggling with enrollment issues for years. Enrollment is currently at 250 for next year. Our capacity is somewhere in the 500s. With the loss of our middle school we will have at least five empty classrooms.We recently invited Dr. Blanford to a PTSA meeting to discuss enrollment issues. He listened and offered to talk to Enrollment Planning to get the District's perspective. We then invited Ashley Davies and Faauu Manu from Enrollment Planning to a PTSA meeting to talk about what we can to do work together to improve enrollment and build the school to full capacity.At our meeting, Ms. Davies and Ms. Manu assured us that the District is doing all it can do and the burden is on the PTSA and the school to market itself to parents and attract them to the school. In both meetings, with Dr. Blanford and Ms. Davies and Ms. Manu, parents raised the issue of school boundaries and the fact that the boundaries do not contain enough students to fill our school. No one had an answer to that.A few days ago we discovered that Leschi Elementary will be over capacity next year and the District will spend $100k to build a portable classroom. This strikes me and many Madrona parents as incredibly fiscally irresponsible and illogical. Madrona is about ten blocks away with five classrooms sitting empty.But this is not just about a waste of money or a poor use of space. Madrona's under-enrollment causes hardships for our students. The money follows the students. With budget cuts we are losing a teacher, half of our academic interventionists, half of our Health Team, a PCP teacher, and a full-time nurse. The PTSA is taking on the school's supply budget so money can be redirected to saving staff. We risk losing the great progress we have made in the last few years, largely because we do not have the students to bring in District dollars.We are asking the District to help our school. It does not make sense to build a portable classroom at Leschi while we have empty classrooms and a strapped budget.Equalize the load and send some students from Leschi to Madrona.Thank you.
Madrona was suffering low middle school enrollment for quite awhile so it's hard to understand why the boundaries there weren't redrawn during the last boundary redraws. It seems folly to have an overenrolled school next to an underenrolled one and pay for a portable for the former.
Madrona K-8 PTA members will be trying to testify at this week's Board meeting (agenda). The agenda seems light so there's every chance they will get their opportunity.
Backstory on possible issues for Madrona K-8 from this 2007 Seattle Times story.
Apparently over in West Seattle (Alki, Genesee Hill and Lafayette) there seems to be a similar situation. Here's the letter sent to Superintendent Nyland:
Dear Seattle Board of Directors:
We appreciate the work you are doing to figure out a plan to best accommodate Genesee Hill’s projected 150 kindergartners. We at Alki and Lafayette would like to ask that you include us in these discussions and bring together the West Seattle community to come up with the best solution for our area’s schools. We understand that capacity is a concern and moving one piece of the puzzle affects other pieces elsewhere.
At Alki, we have been experiencing the impact of enrollment projections being off, policy and boundary changes for the last few years now. Here’s a brief recap of what happened at Alki last year:
- During the 2015-2016 school year Alki was enrolled at 411
- During the summer of 2016 Alki was held by SPS at 389 even though Alki had a K waitlist of 9 students
- The waitlist didn’t move over the summer
- Appeals from our Principal to move the waitlist were denied, even when supported by Genesee Hill’s Principal
- At least 4 of the Ks on our waitlist were younger siblings, who were caught in boundary changes (3 Ks were younger sibs caught in other policy changes)
- Before the waitlist was dissolved, the K’s went to their newly assigned geo zone school and took their older siblings, increasing Genesee Hill’s over enrollment
- Alki ended up with: K/1 split, 1/2 split, 4/5 split
- Alki started school in fall of 2016 with 382 students
- Mitigation funding had to be used for split reduction which caused a 3rd straight year of issues for our bubble year;I am also hearing this may be an issue at Stevens Elementary as well.
bubble year = cohort of 89 Ks who in 2014-2015 were shuffled from 3 to 4 classes when 60 were predicted, then in 2015 - 2016 were scheduled to lose a teacher in 1st grade but PTA funded it, then in 2016-2017 some of the same kids started 2nd in a 1/2 split, then shuffled to a new teacher – this would have been avoided if we had been allowed to admit our 9 waitlisted Kindergarteners over the summer.
Conclusion: We believe there needs to be more flexibility for local principals to work together around capacity and waitlist issues. Dissolving the waitlist before start of school is a luxury we don’t have in a capacity constrained environment. Mitigation funds were made necessary because the flexibility of voluntary moves was eliminated.
Suggestion: Create a two-tier deadline to dissolve waitlists. Dissolve the waitlist for option schools before start of school. Dissolve the waitlist for neighborhood schools after start of school, allowing more flexibility and voluntary moves.
As I am sure you have already experienced, West Seattle community is very engaged and we are here to help find solutions to these complicated problems. If there is more information we can provide, please let us know.
Also, this piece to the high school capacity management puzzle from the Soup for Teachers Facebook page:
Bonnie Manley Heidal The high school boundary task force will be looking at Cleveland.
At least two major changes on capacity availability within our buildings are;
1) increased enrollment growth and
2) the addition of two high schools becoming available in the future (Lincoln in 2019).
To that end, the report will include an examination of:
a. Creation of new boundaries for Lincoln High School (directly impacting Ballard, Ingraham, Roosevelt, and Nathan Hale) by Fall of 2017.
b. Exploration of boundary revisions for Garfield, Franklin, Rainier Beach.
c. Exploration of Cleveland continuing as an option high school or changed to an attendance area school, which would then need new boundaries.
d. Exploration and creation of possible phase in timeline for boundaries of 12th comprehensive high school downtown