Disqus

Friday, May 29, 2009

PTSA News

There is a group circulating a petition to grandfather incoming sibs to a current sib's school under the new assignment plan. It is called Keep Our Kids Together but I don't know who is organized by; there is no info available. There appears to be over 900 signatures mostly NE from the comments. As we have seen from the racial tiebreaker, you can be grandfathering kids for a very long time and the district's desire is to limit transportation costs so the district may stand firm on this one.

World Environment Day

June 5, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Myrtle Edwards Park

Local themes: Save the Orcas! Save the Sound! and Celebrate Seattle Schools Green Action Heroes! A kids march, picnicking, entertainment, displays and booths. Sponsored by Seattle Schools Green Team Network, People for the Puget Sound, National Wildlife Federation, SAM at the Olympic Sculpture Garden, Island Wood.

13 comments:

jp70 said...

Regarding grandfathering siblings, I think the district could come up with a compromise by grandfathering siblings but not offering transportation if the transportation costs were their concern. I thought their concern was more the amount of space available for neighborhood kids when drawing boundaries if you have a lot of sibs.

I believe one of the authors of this petition is a regular poster here. This cause does not affect me as I live 3 blocks from our neighborhood school, but it does affect a lot of families at our school. I understand district concerns, but I also know that lots of families who invested a ton of time choosing the best fit school using choice would probably not have used choice had they known down the road that their younger children wouldn't have a guaranteed school, but by now they are heavily invested in the community as is their older child/children. There are also families who didn't use choice, but were assigned schools far from their home due to capacity issues who had to accept that choice, became to like the school and now may not be able to have their younger child/children attend there or will have to pull out their older child.

Melissa Westbrook said...

JP, I think it's both. The district can know how many kids of what ages live in a neighborhood but can't necessarily know that they will all go to SPS (even if an older sib is there). That's a good question for Tracy Libros.

You get into a thorny thicket when you say "well, I'll just transport my child myself". What about those who can't? Then it becomes who has the ability and/or time to do it gets to have their sibs at the same school. But maybe, in order to have grandfathering, that might be the price to pay. I just know the district doesn't want to get into an equity fight.

StepJ said...

Hi Melissa,

I am one of the authors of the petition.

We are requesting a grandfather of siblings for those families that find themselves caught in the transition period. These are families whose older siblings enrolled under the current plan, and whose younger siblings will enroll under the new plan.

To follow along the current rules of Sibling Preference the older sibling must have attended the school the previous year, will attend the school the following year, and the younger sibling must be coming in at an entry level grade. With these tenants if siblings were grandfathered for children that entered elementary under the last year of the current plan, the grandfathering would last no more than five years. We are certainly not requesting that the grandfathering extend beyond these criteria, or to children that are not even born yet.

Time and time again Tracy has told me the rules of Sibling Preference are written to only apply to an entry level grade as it is easier to accommodate a new student at an entry level grade than a higher grade.

Transportation would be the same as for any child that enrolls under the new rules. Transportation is provided if the school you attend is within your Service Area. Transportation is not provided if the school you attend is outside that boundary. Right now the proposed new rules do not even guarantee a grandfather of transportation for those families that will find themselves on the other side of the service line.

The current method the district uses to predict enrollment is to look at Seattle births rates and the zip codes where the babies reside. They then presume those babies will enter school in those areas in five years time. They do take other factors into account but overall it is finessed guessing.

They do not know about younger siblings, they do not know about children that stay in Seattle but move to a different zip code. They do not know about families that move into the area from out of the city, state or country.

They say not grandfathering siblings as we request will delay the implementation of the plan, but that is a guess.

As an example all three authors of the petition have two children enrolled under the old plan, and one younger sibling yet to enroll.

If we were to move all our children to our new assignment area school, as the draft of the rules list, we would add three children to our new attendance area school vs. one child at the entry level grade of the school the older sibling(s) attend.

No one knows which method would actually be less disruptive -- move all children to the new assignment area school or allow a temporary period of grandfathered siblings. As it is a guess I side with keeping families together at the school in which their children are thriving and in which the family is engaged and supportive. I support putting students and families first.

Stephanie

Shannon said...

I know this is a contentious issue and am pleased people are making themselves heard. Still, from the other side of the fence, I have no children in their reference area school and the years we DID apply to go there we could not get in. Half of the class space was taken up by siblings.

This is the NE, of course.

I think that when the numbers in the seats reflect the capacity from the neighborhood over a few years there is a better chance of the capacity issues being worked out.

I prefer clarity over exceptions.

The word verification says "gethoom" which sounds like a muffled detonation. I hope that is not a bad omen and it is considered informative to share views here and not unnecessarily argumentative. I really wish this issue was not so divisive.

Sahila said...

I cant fathom why this is an issue.... everywhere else in the world my kids have gone to school, the entire family goes to the school - kids (siblings) are not broken up, unless it is to graduate and move on from an elementary to middle or high school... and then the younger kids automatically join their older siblings at that school also, when its time....

Why would any administration choose to break up family groups and inflict stress and logistical difficulties on families by making them get kids to different schools and have to support two or more communities and get to two or more special events around a vast geographic locale?

The only time I have ever seen family groups split up is if the needs of one child were so unusual that they could not be met in the same school or it was in the interests of a particular child's development - intellectual, physical, emotional - that he/she attend school elsewhere....

TechyMom said...

Just a point of clarification...
I know a family with 3 kids who are each 5 years apart. Twice they've had one child enter k when another was entering 5th grade, both times under sibling tie breakers. The eldest was in 5th or 6th grade when the youngest was born, and will be 21 when the youngest leave elementary school, 16 years after the oldest started there. Families with lots of kids, long spaces between them, or both can make for very long grandfathering tails.

Under the plan propsed in the petition, would that youngest child still have a sibling preference?

Elizabeth said...

I just sent this reply to a message I received informing me of the petition to request sibling grandfathering and a link for the group supporting this campaign. Since I'm reading through this thread here, I thought I'd share:

Thank you for sharing, but I cannot support this petition. If the decisions being made by the district are meant to support predictability in school assignment and to promote neighborhood schools, then it is important and fair to start that process once the plan is adopted. I understand the frustration and turmoil caused during the transition between assignment plans. But while this website (www.keepourkidstogether.org) claims that it is unfair to disrupt families caught in the middle of this transition, it fails to recognize the unfairness sibling grandfathering would cause for families who live within (or move within) the reference boundaries of a given school but can't enroll their children because the school is at or over capacity.

Also, the district has publically proposed and worked towards a transition away from cluster and multi-cluster choice assignment options to a "neighborhood" plan since 2004, so while again I sympathize with the hard decisions placed upon families with kids caught in the transitions, the degree of unfairness stated by the group seems inflated.

In the eight years for which our daughter has been enrolled in Seattle Public Schools, the district has made a lot of harsh decisions with which we have disagreed, and we have felt like the sacrifices deemed necessary by district officials, board members and a majority of SPS constituents have unfairly fallen upon the same few school communities. The provision of the assignment plan to which this group objects (sibling assignment) does at least apply equally throughout the district, so it is a shared sacrifice to obtain the larger goals of the new assignment plan, a plan for which this group (keepourkidstogether) does state support.

Keep the faith!

Dan Landers

momster said...

i didn't sign the petition - in large part because of the reasons stated by shannon and ellie/dan landers - and because i think the draft policy makes explicit provisions for families to stay together - though not perhaps in the school the oldest is in.

what i would be more comfortable signing a petition for is an analysis after the boundaries have been drafted - to see how many families were in their "reference area" school which is not now their "attendance area" school because the boundaries have changed underneath them.

i agree with ellie/dan that the change to "neighborhood schools" has been coming for a long enough time for people to expect it and plan for it - but the boundary changes are something they couldn't have planned for in any way.

the families with sibling problems would be a subset of the above group, no? so by doing that analysis you would know the maximum number of families who might have sibling enrollment problems - and could then refine from there, with questionnaires or coordination through the schools.

"tenets"

SP said...

techymom,Ellie & momster- good points!

The petition does not support ALL students and ALL families as stated. What about all the kids about to enter K, who have grown up in their neighborhood and made friends there & under the proposed grandfathering plan they could be told, "sorry- no room for you- you don't have an older sibling to get you into your neighborhood school, it's too full!"

Look at the big picture here- let's find a plan that is not just for SOME students and SOME families.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I've had discussions about the sibling tiebreaker with a couple of people. I can't really say for sure at this point what I think in terms of the specifics of this petition. I'm sure if a family had 3 kids they would want it for all three; why stop at 2? But it's something to ponder.

What I don't like is sibling preference for option schools. Those are true choice schools and everyone coming in should have the same chance. I think that's where it is exceptionally frustrating when you want to have an opportunity for something different (say TOPS) and more than half the kindergarten is siblings.

StepJ said...

Agree with us or not I am very happy that more discussions of the new SAP are taking place. I think many families will be taken quite unaware of the changes coming their way.

TechyMom – in the scenario you describe the very youngest sibling would not be included in our request. We cut off our own tail so to speak.

Yes, we do think that overall the new SAP is a fair and thoughtful plan – where it is defined.

The portion that is not defined and not clear is the Implementation phase. This is the portion that our petition addresses where there is no guarantee for predictability and real probability for families being split apart. You will not be guaranteed a seat at your new assignment area school from day one.

Here is a link the latest draft of the new SAP, New SAP May 29 draftShannon – like you we were not able to get into our reference school, nor any of the other four schools that are closer to us than the one to which we were assigned. Given a Choice we would have opted for a neighborhood school. As it is, if we move our family back to our new assignment area school we displace three children vs. add an entry level sibling to the school we currently attend. Which is better or worse? Tracy Libros has told me entry level siblings can be accommodated easier than children at higher grades.

The true culprit that nullifies any provisions in the new SAP to keep families together is lack of capacity. If there was capacity the new SAP would work wonderfully and provide predictable assignment of families to the same school.

Keeping with the tenants of the new plan we would like a reasoned and thoughtful transition that does not harm students and families. Our request is aligned with the promises of predictability and family engagement the new SAP sets out to provide.

Again – agree with me or not I am very happy there is wider discussion on the topic!

StepJ said...

Thanks for the spelling correction Momster.

BadgerGal said...

Under the new SAP with no sibling tiebreaker, I am sure my son who will enter Kindergarten in 2011 will NOT get into the same school as my daughter (who will be a 4th grader at the time).

We were ASSIGNED to my daughter's school, are very ingrained in the school and my son already is emotionally invested there as he accompanies me when I volunteer.

One of the biggest problems for me - as a single parent - the start times are 5 minutes apart but the schools are at least 15 minutes apart. How am I going to do this? Any ideas?

I guess I pull my thriving then fourth grader out of her school for 2 years before she hits the middle school transition? My daughter NEEDS the continuity of the students she has known since Kindergarten - she has a craniofacial disorder and it is crucial she is surrounded by peers who don't "see it" anymore.

I have yet to see data that shows the sibling disruption at entry will be worse than the disruption at higher grades as people move their upper level kids to keep sibs together.