Middle School & Enrollment Discussions

Communities and Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS of Seattle) has organized two opportunities next week for parents to talk with district staff about hot topics: middle school and enrollment. From the newsletter:

CPPS Annual Meeting: "What's Up with Middle School Education in Seattle Public Schools?" Panel & Discussion
Wednesday, April 30
Meany Middle School
CPPS Annual Meeting: 6:30 - 7:00pm
Middle School Panel: 7:00 - 8:30pm

Why do we find the middle school years so educationally challenging? What do we really want? Join us...

We know that some district middle schools are considered "good," popular alternatives and others are not; some folks shy from the public middle schools altogether. What's up? What is present or lacking in Seattle Public Middle Schools?

The panel includes:
Ruth Medsker, SPS Middle Schools Director
Bob Vaughan, Director for Advanced Learning
Princess Shareef, Meany Middle School Principal
Michael Tolley, High Schools Director
Several involved middle school parent advocates

Questions & Answers about the Seattle Public Schools Enrollment System/Process
Many people are confused and frustrated about school enrollment. In order to help, CPPS is hosting a meeting for parents and caregivers to get info and answers from Seattle Public Schools Enrollment & Planning Manager, Tracy Libros. Join us!

Thursday, May 1, 7 to 8:30pm, John Stanford Center

School choice: Fact or Fiction?
How does the school assignment process work? Why did I get a school I didn't choose? Tie-breakers: what are they and how do they work? Waiting lists: Does my child have a chance of getting in? How do they work? How/when/why should parents inform schools if their child will not be attending? School enrollment for 2008/09 is happening now. Wait lists begin to move May 1! Come learn how the system works, ask questions about your child's enrollment or find out how to be prepared for next year.
Questions/comments: kerry@cppsofseattle.org

For more information, see the CPPS newsletter.

These are exactly the kind of parent-driven, community-driven opportunities for discussion and involvement that I believe our district needs (and that we have talked about on this blog).

Please show up in large numbers to make the most of these opportunities.


old salt said…
The Bryant library was packed last night as Don Kennedy,Tracy Libros, Sherry Carr & Harium Martin-Morris took questions from the incoming kindergarten parents of the NE cluster.

That cluster added 4 new kindergarten classes for next year. Last night Don Kennedy said that one more would be added before school starts. They are currently doing walk-throughs of each building to see where they can pack those extra kids in.

Parents of incoming kindergarten children asked district officials to override this year's enrollment for that cluster or add more classes to Bryant. Parents currently in NE schools asked which programs in their buildings would be sacrificed to make room, art, music, library? Mr. Kennedy maintained that they would find a solution without overriding enrollment or moving programs for next year.

One parent asked why a new school was not opened in the Sand point building with the 5 kindergartens then addinga grade each year, such as happened with the New School. She wanted to know if it was because the district didn't attach enough admin money to kindergarteners (.5 AAFTE)to run a school. Mr. Kennedy said the WSS had its problems & implied that there would be some adjustments to WSS in the future.

No one asked, but there was some talk among the parents about the district not being willing to open schools in the north end while closures were happening in the south end, to avoid charges of inequity.

According to the demographics reports presented at the meeting more growth is expected in the whole north end over the next 10 years.
Charlie Mas said…
Nice report, old salt!

Thank you!
seattle citizen said…
Speaking (not) of middle schools, didja see the articles in today's papers about new salaries for our fine police foces? It seems they might get a raise: starting officers will get a base pay of 64,000 in 2010. Here's the base pay for a teacher in Seattle, first year, range from BA to PhD:
So I guess educators would do well for themselves, financially, to start arresting youth instead of teaching them.
No disrespect to the fine offivers of SPD, but why our are teachers only earning half what the police do?
Jet City mom said…
currently police make about $23.00 an hour for new recruits after leaving the academy.
What do new teachers make an hour?

One mediocre to poor newish teacher on this blog makes $39,000 last year base salary, not including extra salary and benefits. Given a 182 day work year / 8 hr day, that translates to almost $27 an hour- about the same pay as a current officer makes after a few years.

If the Seattle teachers are interested in the deal the cops are considering, are they then also going to willingly adhere to suggestions made by a panel appointed by the mayor like the police?

In exchange for the increases, Seattle Police Officers' Guild members would agree to all changes proposed to the officer disciplinary system by a mayor-appointed panel earlier this year.
I was there last night as well and I'll be posting soon. I heard a few different things I'd like to add.
anonymous said…
That's right, in the NE cluster there is no middle school north of 75th street - and the cluster goes all the way to the Shoreline border at 145th st.

There is also no middle school East of Eckstein at all, no middle west of Eckstein until you cross over I-5 and into Wallingford in the North cluster, and no middle school to the south of Eckstein until you cross the Montlake Bridge and go into the Central Cluster. That's why Eckstein is huge (largest middle school in the state), holding 1250 kids, many in portables.

Meanwhile, Summit, situated further north in the NE cluster (110th st) is in a building that holds almost 1100 students but has only 600 kids enrolled. Imagine that?? That leaves 500 empty seats. 500!! It just seems logical to move Summit to a right sized building, and use Jane Adams to add capacity in the over crowded (and growing) NE cluster.
old salt said…
Last night Harium said that he hoped to see a high school at Lincoln in 2 years & a K-8 somewhere in the NE cluster.
Jet City mom said…
I'd like to see Summit move to the Lincoln building as a K-12 all city school. It would be great- more central location- appropriate for a out of the classroom oriented school.

The Lincoln build is huge & would also easily accommodate other programs, like AS#1, with whom Summit already shares philosophy and yellow buses.

By moving to a more central location, both schools could utilize more fully city buses- and share resources.

I make this comment as a community supporter of alternative education for 30 years as well as close ties to Summit-K-12
Charlie Mas said…
Summit could fit into one part of Lincoln and there would still be room for a comprehensive high school in the other half.

The building has a capacity of about 1600 - that's how many Garfield students are there right now.

If Summit were in half of it - which would allow Summit to grow to 800 - there would still be room for an 800 student high school in the other half.
I agree with Charlie. But Hamilton is in Lincoln for the next two years so nothing would happen before them.
Charlie Mas said…
Actually, Lincoln is so big that Hamilton and Summit could both be there.

Hamilton is less than 800, Summit is less than 600. That's less than 1400 and Lincoln will easily hold 1600.
Charlie, reading your numbers it dawned on me that there isn't any reason that Summit couldn't move into Lincoln and share with Hamilton. Somehow I got stuck on "Hamilton is there for two years" but if it's big enough, then Summit could be relocated there and the district could start repurposing Adams.
Maureen said…
Has anyone at Summit expressed an opinion about being moved recently? A few years ago their rep to the Alt Schools Coalition did say they would prefer to be more central. Does Summit share resources with Hale? Would it hurt them to be so far away from a comprehensive HS? Lincoln doesn't have great facilities for elementary, but JSIS was there during their remodel so it must be workable (and the park is quite close).

If they share buses with AS1 then moving them will make AS1 even less viable. Maybe they should move too (as Class75 suggested). What's the history on co-locating programs? APP/Madrona was, I hear, a disaster. Coho/NOMS looks more like a merger. Any other examples?

Just thinking out loud...
Jet City mom said…
When Hale was fully enrolled- it was difficult for Summit students to take classes at Hale, although a few did. However because Summit and Hale had different start times, the classes weren't aligned and most classes were full.
However, I don't know what the situation is now, with lower enrollment at Hale, they may welcome Summit students & Summit students do participate in Hale sport teams.

I think alternative education is critical to Seattle and needs to be supported and it appears that status quo is not working, at a time when parental participation in the school is stressed, Summit doesn't have enough committed parents to operate the parent group next year. I think a more central location for Summit would facilitate participation.

BTW did anyone see the study citing that Seattle only has 12% of high school students enrolled in it's public schools?
anonymous said…
I also value alternative education. Our family has personally benefited from sending our oldest son to an alternative school for grades 2-5. The problem is not with alternative schools, it is with logistics and capacity. Summit does not fill up it's large building, and their enrollment is declining every year. AS1 is just a mile or two away from Summit, and is very very small(270 kids for a k-8 program), and is also steadily losing enrollment.

The district would be wise, in my opinion, to move these schools to a more central location (for transportation costs), AND merge or co-house them. Neither the Jane Addams or Pinehurst buildings would sit empty, they are in prime locations in clusters that need the extra capacity.

I hope the district (being pro-active as they are) will look into why these two alternative schools have declining enrollment. Is it their well below average test scores? Is it their inconvenient location... way up north, or is it the bad publicity that they received as a result of the district threatening to close their programs year after year? Whatever it is I hope the district addresses the issues and finds out if these programs are salvageable. And if so, they step in to help instead of letting these programs spiral downward like RBHS has.
hschinske said…
I couldn't get the link provided by classof75 to work, and couldn't find the article mentioned by searching the America's Promise site.

Helen Schinske
Maureen said…
Helen, I finally got it to work by going to americaspromise.org then cutting and pasting the rest of the address in two steps:

Refresh (and told no such page)

(Then spin yourself counterclockwise three times and throw coffee grounds over your left shoulder!)

Then paste
Refresh, and it worked!

I think the 12% figure is because of the definition of the Seattle metropolitan area. Look at page 3, the green splotch they are using is much bigger than the Seattle School District. And the column header is: "HS Students in Metro. Area Served by Focal District"

It looks like the "Focal District" is Seattle (numerator) but the total # of HS age kids (denominator) goes from Everett to Tacoma.
Jet City mom said…
I got the link from my subscription to the Chronicle of Higher education
its from the 4-1-08 issue
Jet City mom said…
if you do a search for americas promise cities in crisis it is one of the first hits
hschinske said…
"I think the 12% figure is because of the definition of the Seattle metropolitan area."

Maybe I'm being dense, but I didn't see the 12% figure as representing anything at all except the fact that out of all the kids in those 44 school districts in or near Seattle, the Seattle School District is home to about 12% of them. Whether that's lower than it should be or not, I've no idea, but 12% is not a shocking number in that context.

Helen Schinske
Maureen said…

The more interesting number is the the SPS graduation rate (p.10) it's 67.6% which seems awful until you realize that Seattle is actually #7 out of 50 cities. 43 did worse than we did! Then look at the table on p.12, I think it means that SPS ('principle district') actually graduates at the same rate as the suburban communities within the metropolitan area (the overall urban rate is 57.6 so Tacoma or something must be pulling down the average?)

I've only looked at the tables and skimmed so I might be misinterpreting. I should really read the thing before I draw conclusions.

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