Thursday, June 01, 2017

Seattle Schools Waitlist Updates

From SPS Communications, waitlist updates.
Although more than 50 percent of the students who participated in the choice process received a placement, many students are still on school waitlists. Typically, staff do not move waitlists that positively or negatively affect staffing at attendance area schools. Due to the $50 million budget shortfall for 2017-18, the district is conducting additional analysis around waitlist moves.
I would call out that "typically, staff do not move waitlists..."  That may be true but that has NEVER been made transparent.  The Board should not let this kind of thing stand.  ALL parts of the Enrollment process should be clear and be explained in totality.
As a result of this additional analysis, waitlists at attendance area schools will not move until district staff review updated spring staffing allocations in mid-June. Waitlist moves at option schools will continue through August 31 based on current school staffing and available seats in classrooms.
Sorry to those who had hoped to hear sooner.
During open enrollment, students may apply to attend an option school or another attendance school if seats are available. Maximum seat capacity is determined by the staffing allocations made in February not by the physical capacity of a school building.
This has been our process for the past 15 years.
Again, I talked many, many times with former head of Enrollment, Tracy Libros, and she NEVER mentioned this.  So I really have a hard time with this "for the past 15 years."
The budget shortfall, due to the Legislature’s inaction to fully fund education, means the district has less room for error and limited ability to mitigate schools who may lose staff because of waitlist adjustments.
Okay, but the school that might have received students will now be underenrolled and THEY will lose dollars.  I think it better to see which schools are the ones that parents want to fill and address issues around schools that are not as popular.
In addition, in response to the waitlist analysis, the following actions will take place:

Option Schools Waitlist moves at option schools will continue through August 31 based on current school staffing and available seats in classrooms. Admissions will continue to notify families when a seat becomes available.

Please make sure that your contact information is up to date. Families have 48 hours to accept or deny a seat once contacted by the Admissions Department.

Attendance Area Schools Waitlists at attendance area schools will not move until district staff review updated spring staffing allocations in mid-June. Waitlist moves at option schools may have a cascade effect and allow for additional movement of attendance area waitlists.

Once updated staffing has been determined in mid-June, families granted a seat at an attendance area school will be will be notified directly.

On August 31, we will dissolve the waitlists for all schools.

We appreciate our families’ patience and understanding as we review the needs of all schools given our current fiscal climate.
Well, apparently parents have no choice except to wait.

The next Board meeting is Wednesday, June 7th. I suggest showing up in numbers.

47 comments:

kellie said...

It is *somewhat* true, that enrollment has filled schools to their staffing allocations over many years.

However, that said, in the past there has been a near 1:1 correlation between a building's capacity and their staffing allocation. That is no longer true and as such, negates their entire statement.

During the choice era, to which this statement is referring. A school's design capacity and staffing allocations were equal. They had to be equal. Because popular schools had long waitlists, they also had known and transparent enrollment caps and these caps were typically discussed during tours and open enrollment. For example, Eckstein Middle School always had the longest middle school waitlist. The school was capped at 1100 and it was widely thought that was as "full" as the school could be and run efficiently.

The same was also true for all elementary and high schools. Each grade had a known and transparent cap, that corresponded to the design of the building. This was necessary to justify turning students away and giving them a mandatory assignment, often at a very far away school.

The distinction with this year is that many, many schools have had their enrollment artificially capped at a staffing level well below their building's capacity.

Anyone remember when Cleveland was first made an option school and it was proudly announced that the 9th grade cohort would be 300 students? School is capped well below that number and has been for a few years, despite copious community testimony.

Whitman's capacity has long been known to be about 1,000 students but yet they have been artificially capped well under 600.

This statement is misleading in many ways.

Anonymous said...

Well then, they must have included the 10% choice seats in their staffing allocations if they are setting capacity based on those allocations rather than on building capacity. So where are those seats accounted for?

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

The last 5 years SPS has predicted a drop in enrollment at our neighborhood elementary school (numbers below the currently enrolled students). The school population has been growing an additional 15 to 20 kids each year. Despite 5 years of this well documented growth trend, SPS continues to predict 30 kids will vanish each year in the initial staffing allocation (wishful thinking?). I don't think this is a problem unique to our school. Why are the projections always so off?
Bad Math

Anonymous said...

@kellie--have you ever considered running for SPS school board? Now could be a good time to step in with Director Geary hoping to take Jessyn's seat in the 46th. It would be great to have someone who understands the learning needs, challenges and interests of all students and knows how the District "operates"...you fit that bill!

Please

Anonymous said...

I agree. Kellie, please run!

Momof2

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think Kellie lives in Director Geary's district. Kellie, do you?

One interesting note, I do live in Director Geary's district.

Anonymous said...

Melissa: you would also be a great choice. It is important we find someone who has broad perspective with experience from multiple schools and has had kids with different needs addressed (or not) through various programs.

Please

Jami Kimble (parent of 2 elementary students) said...

I would also love to see Kellie or Melissa on the board!

kellie said...

Thank you to everyone for all the kind words.

I stay in this conversation about capacity, because at this point, unfortunately, I am the institutional memory on this topic.

That said, I don't think school board is a good fit for me at this point. I have tremendous respect for all the good folks that are willing to run and commit so much of themselves to public service and public education.

kellie said...

I re-examined this press release and the only possible explanation, I can find is that there really isn't anyone left in enrollment from the "choice era" that truly understands the "swirl" that happens when waitlists move.

I can certainly understand that you would never move every single waitlist at every single school but there are many "strategic" wait list moves that can be made that are neutral and/or have minor changes.

Eagle Staff and Meany have waitlists. There is no excuse for waitlisting any family that wants to start a new school, when you have geo-split families to open those schools.

You "simply" move the waitlist at Eagle Staff and Meany and then this "temporarily" overloads those schools by just a wee bit. At that point, you can then move the waitlist at Whitman and Washington for the same number of spaces that were emptied and ... viola! Eagle Staff and Meany are right back at their enrollment targets with no meaningful change at Whitman or Washington. The foresight to strategically move the waitlist takes a wee bit of experience and a willingness to serve families and learning communities.

There is a small chance that this could cause McClure to lose a staff person but frankly, McClure is under their enrollment target already and is most likely going to lose a staff member no matter what happens. IMHO, it is the fear of an implication like this that keeps enrollment from taking any action that would prioritize families and learning communities over protecting the budget allocations.

The vast majority of the executive directors were here during the choice era and likely understand this. However, enrollment was unwilling to listen to school principals last year, so I doubt they are "taking input" from anyone.

Anonymous said...

" Director Geary hoping to take Jessyn's seat in the 46th." Told you so.

Geary you are a joke.


Good riddance

Anonymous said...

What? Geary hasn't even made it half way through her term. Does she need to resign from the school board before throwing her hat into the 46 LD ring?

WTF

Anonymous said...


Geary is not committed to the school board.

No member of the legislature, during the term for which he is elected, shall be appointed or elected to any civil office in the state, which shall have been created during the term for which he was elected. Any member of the legislature who is appointed or elected to any civil office in the state, the emoluments of which have been increased during his legislative term of office, shall be compensated for the initial term of the civil office at the level designated prior to the increase in emoluments

Wash. Const. Art. II, § 13

FYI

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Geary is free to pursue this opening; she's not running per se so it's okay. I admit it takes me aback somewhat; I did not know she had higher office aspirations. I am told there are about seven people competing for this spot. The vote takes place on June 10 and the winner takes office June 12th.

According to Board policy, the Board would take applications for her positions, interview candidates and vote on their selection. The winning candidate must get 4 of the 6 remaining votes

Anonymous said...

Her FB page confirms she asking for votes. That's campaigning

https://www.facebook.com/jillgearyseattle/

She was elected to serve out 4 years and committed to that.

Personally I think she should resign from the SB regardless of the outcome on June 10th.

It's obvious she sees her SB position as a means to an end. If you look back on the comments made on this blog back during her campaign you will see that a few people speculated Geary was simply using the position as a stepping stone to higher office.

Melissa, you defended Geary against that reality.

WTF

Melissa Westbrook said...

WTF, I meant not running in the traditional sense. She is campaigning for PCO votes.

I'm not sure I defended Geary "against that reality" - I probably said she was very committed. Did I know her personally and that she had higher aspirations? No. Maybe that's a question I should ask all candidates.

I can say that sometimes people do present themselves one way in a campaign and then shift after they are elected.

Anonymous said...

Melissa-- I agree with others that it would be great if you would run. You often provide thoughtful comments which illustrate your commitment for quality public education that serves all kids. At the same time you also understand equity issues in education. Public education is at risk and I think you are one of the few who understand the big picture and what is needed in Seattle. You would provide the leadership the board needs right now.
-KM

Anonymous said...

Not to pry but I believe Geary featured you in a cover photo on her SB election FB page.

I assumed for that to happen the two of you were very tight. Perhaps Geary was simply using this blog and your readers to her advantage. She sure seems like an opportunist now.

I really hope she moves on because her word doesn't mean much going forward if she's not willing to fulfill her election commitment to SPS families.


WTF

Anonymous said...

No, Melissa should not run. She does far more good and impacts far more policies district-wide, not to mention keeps Corporate Ed Reform at bay, via this blog. No blog, no Truth to Power. In the unlikely event that Geary is appointed, Melissa's vetting of candidates for the school board seat is key. Her sitting on the board would be the end of organized citizen pushback to bad SPS policy. And don't think SPS doesn't realize that. Ditto Gates Foundation. The day this blog dies is the day the whole HQ does a line dance out front of Lander and 4th, with copious refreshments served by the Gates Clan. God forbid.

NoCharters

Postscript: Jessyn's bailing in the 46th to grab for a gold ring before she's even served a full term is weak. Very weak. Cannot and will not support her. Another Brady Walkinshaw. What is it with these graspers?????????????

Melissa Westbrook said...

NoCharters, you made me laugh out loud. Yes, I do know that the day I hang this up - for whatever reason - there'll be a couple of places popping corks.

I'll have more to say after this all plays out with the 46th Dems.

NNE Mom said...

Melissa, I think being on the school board would allow you to have an even bigger impact on SPS than this blog. And I would relish your having a bigger impact.

This city is changing fast. And Nyland will be going. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to do good for 50,000 kids who have no vote and therefore no voice in this state. Help us, Melissa Westbrook, you're our only hope. Ok, maybe not our only hope, but quite possibly our best hope.

Seriously, some of us have young children who still need a lot of educating. Some of us are pregnant now. Some of us don't think we're ever going to have kids, but check back in a couple of years and--boom!--whaddaya know? Some of us are forking out major bucks for private school and wishing we could devote some of that money to things that benefited our communities more. More than 1,000 people are moving to Seattle every week now. Some with children, some who will have children. Where do we want our public schools to be in 5 years? In 10 years? In 15 years?

I would be proud to have you helping to decide that. Helping to hire the next superintendent. Please let me vote for you for school board!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments Kellie. Obviously, they (Enrollment Planning) have not been doing this the same way for the past 15 years. I doubt there is anyone that has even worked in Enrollment Planning for the past 15 years. The message is not fooling parents. I wonder who this message is intended to fool?

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Guys...don't discourage Geary...she would make a better Legislator. But eye on the ball...no Geary clones as her replacement.

Please

Anonymous said...

Never say never, but I doubt Geary will be selected. She will have to come crawling back to her board position and be resentful and resented. Maybe she had planed to run for the 46 LD position in 2018 and the current situation forced her hand.

Talk about lack of commitment.

Geary, please resign so you can focus on yourself.

Will

Mr Bigly said...

https://www.jillgeary.com/

WOW!

Oh and look at her words--

"Thanks to your endorsement and our hard work, I am currently serving on the Seattle School Board. Representing you on the largest school board in the state is challenging but it is also one of the greatest honors of my life. I’ve been in the room when tough decisions are made, I've helped manage a budget of over 1.1 billion dollars and I’ve been there to remind administrators that we can and must do better."


So I was off on the budget number it's 1.1 billion....

You people think SPS needs more than 1.1 billion a year


Billion+ district!

kellie said...

@ StepJ,

Thank you! I truly think of you as the Queen of the waitlist and all of the work you have done over the years to keep siblings together and get the waitlist moved at NE Schools. I wish that you could be in charge of waitlist as I think your expertise might be welcome as you really understand how it all works.

Last year split sibling numbers were insane. Over 100 split siblings and almost every one of the schools had space and in many cases the principals repeated requested the moves, but no joy.

I also have no idea why this statement was expected to be persuasive.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mr. Bigly, that 1.1B figure includes both the capital and operations side. If you look at any major urban district, like Boston which largely mirrors SPS in size, spending and amount of kids who go private, they have the same figure.

On the capital side, SPS has a large number of old buildings AND a growing population. You do know that Seattle itself is booming so the competition for good contractors is fierce.

On the operations side, we still don't have high school career/college counselors, family support workers for all the schools that need them and adequate library books. The district doesn't fully fund dual-language schools or the IB program. We still need to update curriculum and technology.

So yes, a billion dollars.

BUT, is all the money that is currently being spent being spent on the right things? That's up for debate.

Mr Bigly said...

It really doesn't how many buckets there are, it matters how much is in each and there combined total. On top of this, SPS uses BEX funds often for general fund expenditures.

So yes SPS budget is 1.1 billion or around $21K per student. WOW that's not poor by anyone's definition.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mr. Bigly, the disrict is allowed to use capital funds for some GF issues; it's legal.

And again, you did not address what we need and what isn't happening because of that need.

not mc t said...



mw, biggly wiggly is not concerned about budgets just that all important seat so coveted and then seemingly relinquished by geary. what a joke i must add. but i am not laughing. i am sure they will do better. every open house geary has i will ask her why her children should have self contained classes but not other hcc kids. and why she should be trusted on the board; shouldn't she resign. oh and why she was so vocal here before being elected and now crickets.

no caps

Anonymous said...

@no caps,
Dir. Geary has her children in self-contained SPED classes? How does that compare to HCC? I thought self-contained classes for highly capable was the law, how can "other hcc kids" not have access?

super confused

Anonymous said...

Any conversation here about Geary and services her children might receive is disgusting and out of line. SPED services for any student, unless they are your own, in SPS are simply none of your business.

InGoodFaith

Anonymous said...

Ever since Geary incensed the HCC "community" by being an equity advocate, this line of discussion about her child(ren) has been allowed here.

No matter that calling children names is not allowed. Discussing placement of students when the parent isn't popular seems to be okay because it's a

DoubleStandard

Anonymous said...

@Kellie, :-) about the royalty. It was the community working together to suss out the wait list puzzle. We knew the rules and were able to present a spreadsheet that showed how the wait lists at area schools could move in order and exchange students. Our work was accepted graciously and was verified and acted upon.

In the current atmosphere the rules are uncertain. It even seems there are different rules on a school by school basis. There also seems to be a dogged determination to not move wait lists even when easy swaps are available. I don't know the reason for this. But, as the true reason is so darkly cloaked it makes me suspect it is something families would not consider in the best interest of their students and schools.

I read on a different thread that a parent had submitted a spreadsheet to show how moves were available for middle and high school this year. I'd be interested to hear if there has been any movement as a result of this spreadsheet.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

I'd also like to call out the current District talking point that having a school maintain its current enrollment takes a teacher from another school. This statement keeps coming up over and over again. A school staying at its current enrollment level allows it to maintain its current staff. It also comes across as an odd statement when the enrollment in SPS is increasing, not decreasing.

What I have witnessed in the past couple of years is a forecast in February that takes a teacher or two away from a school (elementary). When the actual enrollment numbers come in they are well above forecast. However, with numbers over forecast the teacher is still taken away, resulting in larger class sizes and split grade classrooms. It doesn't seem that this method of classroom cuts has much visibility.

-StepJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have never talked about Director Geary's children except to note, as she did, that she has a child in Sped. I ask readers to refrain from making observations that may not be based in fact about anyone's child.

Anonymous said...

For the record Geary used her own students situation as a 2e child for talking points for her campaign and she used the same information as talking points during several seminars she spoke at. 2e is a wide classification and from Geary's comments her student was not severely impacted unlike many many others.

Her legal involvement in helping SPS SPED families seems minimal with only 2 cases showing up in a findlaw search.

I don't see a problem in repeating public information.

My2Cents

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not mc t said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

"For the record Geary used her own students situation as a 2e child for talking points for her campaign and she used the same information as talking points during several seminars she spoke at. 2e is a wide classification and from Geary's comments her student was not severely impacted unlike many many others."

I will let that statement stand because it is true but I'm deleting most of the comments after that.

Let it go please on discussion of her child.

Anonymous said...

I think all school board members should be diligently working on the wait-list/school choice problem and not running for another office.

Regardless of the outcome on the 10th Geary should resign her position on the board.

--Shameless

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not sure I agree, Shameless, but I think she should not run again for School Board. She clearly wants other things and it's not fair to use it as a placeholder.

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Anonymous said...

From Friday memo:
https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/Friday%20Memos/2016-17/June%2016/20160616_FridayMemo_PACKET.pdf

"Waitlists: Enrollment projections were updated earlier this week. We are now projecting an additional 250-300 students for the coming school year. Under our present practice of making waitlist moves only if another school will not lose staff, we could allow about 250 additional waitlist moves. If we were to change practice to move all waitlists at the middle and high school levels where we have physical building capacity despite impacts to staffing, we would allow over 500 waitlist moves and severely impact Rainier Beach, Denny Middle and other schools. Principals will be notified of the staffing impact in both scenarios. For schools with a negative staffing impact, principals are asked to work with staff in requesting volunteers as required by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The Board will discuss the budget and waitlists on June 28."

- MemoReader