More Classrooms in Southwest To Be Added

Thanks to Speducator for the alert about the article in the West Seattle Herald about the district adding classes to Lafayette and Schmitz Park.

From the article:

"Schmitz Park will add a third kindergarten class and Lafayette will add a third class at the kindergarten and first grade levels.

According to Seattle School District spokesperson David Tucker, enrollment needs have increased this year, forcing the district to provide more seats in West Seattle schools.

Parents at both schools are concerned that the schools will not have enough space or administrative resources for the added classrooms.

"I was surprised like everyone else,” said Geoff Patterson, a parent with two children at Lafayette Elementary. “It struck me as odd that one of the biggest elementary would be getting two more classrooms."

There was also concern over movement (within the building) of Lafayette's autism program.

The students from Cooper's program had to go somewhere. Some may be staying at Cooper in Pathfinder's program but obviously, many are leaving. I believe there was room at West Seattle Elementary but it isn't a popular program so many must have chosen Lafayette and Schmitz Park. Lafayette parent, Geoff Patterson, might think it odd to put more kids in an already large program but I don't find it surprising. The district tends to think that successful programs can continue to do well even with more students and the same resources (see Eckstein, Garfield, Roosevelt). Apparently, Lafayette may only have a half-time librarian by spring because of budget cuts.


The SPS "Capacity Management" plan assumed the school population in West Seattle North was declining, despite an uptick in 2008 enrollment and anecdotal evidence which contradicted their projections. Closing Cooper Elementary left 0% excess capacity in the cluster. With continued increased enrollment for 2009, they had to add capacity in the form of portables.

The classrooms added were (2) Kindergartens and (1) 1st Grade - mostly new students, not existing Cooper students.

The School Board plan assigned new students from the Cooper reference area to the already over-subscribed Sanislo Elementary and bussed most of the existing Cooper students to schools in the South Cluster. Less than 10% stayed at Pathfinder.

There have been whispers and informal discussions about re-opening Fairmont Park which closed 3 years ago in the last round of closures. SPS is using it for summer school right now, in part to retain it's certificate of occupancy. Retaining the C/O will decrease the expense if it is reopened in the future. My understanding is if they loose the certificate of occupancy, they must upgrade the building to current code before it is re-opened. If they retaining it as a working elementary, no upgrades are necessary.

I wish the school board had just come out and admitted closing Cooper or Arbor Heights was all about finding a new building for Pathfinder, and not used capacity management and financial distress as a smoke screen.
Charlie Mas said…
At the time the District closed Cooper they gave the Board and the public data that showed that there was just enough capacity available in West Seattle-North.

The District also gave the Board and the public data that showed that the north-end had all of the middle school capacity it would need through 2013 and beyond, which has already been disproven.

So the question is, did something big and unforeseen change which changed the numbers, did the District staff just get it horribly wrong, or did the District staff provide numbers they knew (or should have known) to be inaccurate?

Is there any accountability around these projections? or it is so rife with uncertainty that we can't fault people for errors? And if the uncertainty is so high, then what steps should have been taken to err on the safe side?
speducator said…
So now the District is talking about reopening Fairmount Park? As a neighborhood school? I wonder how long they've been thinking about this.

It would have been so much less disruptive to move Pathfinder to Fairmount Park, than to force all of the Cooper families to leave their neighborhood school.

Does the District have to pay for the transportation costs for Cooper students to attend Schmitz Park and Lafayette? They should, but I thought the long-range plan for the District was to eliminate as much as possible transportation costs.
ParentofThree said…
Capacity Mis-management.

All on the backs of our children.

My only hope is MGJ gets a new job soon, far from Seattle so we can start to rebuild our schools.
wseadawg said…
Duh! Anyone who could fog a mirror knows there's been a baby boom going on all over the city for the last several years. NE used to be dead. Now it's crawling and spilling over with kids. Same with Q-Ann and especially West Sea. But you couldn't tell that to Board members; they always denied it and let on that they knew better. Maybe if they lifted their eyes up off their strategic plan once in a blue moon, they might realize what's going on in the world around them. But I guess its more important to "right-size, align, and standardize (and putrify math education while their at it)" than to respond to demographic needs.

"Kids are resilient," as MGJ likes to say. Expect nothing less than 3 more years of getting jerked around by this administration. With their huge, over-inflated egos and Broad-driven policies, what families and kids actually need has no place in their business plan.

We need to fit into their cookie cutters or else.
dj said…
These sorts of errors in population projection bode quite well for next year, when the district will try to come up with attendance zones for schools. Enjoy.
owlhouse said…
I hope something about this serves Cooper in their court case. Sure, the need for 3 new classrooms doesn't equal an entire school, but we already know that elementary classes are growing next year, even if just by 1 or 2/students each. Clearly, there was not the excess capacity the data showed, not even a reasonable buffer.

Entirely unacceptable.
SpedWatch said…
There was also concern over movement (within the building) of Lafayette's autism program.

Are they moving the autism program out? Or just moving it to a different room? (no doubt smaller). It is an inclusion program isn't it? So the "location" of a room for the teacher should be fairly irrelevant, shouldn't it?

Funny how they always trot out the disability program, when they want to oppose or support new policy, even if it makes no difference at all to the students in the program. EG. Suddenly a big concern over the autistic students in the building... when they don't want new kindergarten and first grade classrooms added to Lafayette. Suddenly a huge concern over least restrictive environment for severely disabled students when they want to fiddle with the APP program at Lowell. But funny that there's no worry at all about the fact that they will be cancelling that "autism" program at Lafayette, and no worry about what that might do to the autistic students.
speducator said…
So what is the situation at Lafayette? We've been told that we can no longer refer to special ed classifications or classrooms as "programs" but as service delivery models. Yet, the administrators at my high school still refer to one of our classrooms as the "autism program".... and as far as I know, there will be no changes for next year.

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