Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tours and Choices

It seems we are starting tours (some occurred already). Let us know your thoughts on any tours you have taken. What do you want to learn from a tour?

I see a couple of people of posed questions about AP in high schools. I'll try to get to that (I'm not sure there is an all-in-one document at the district).

What other questions do you have about a school that someone here might be able to answer?


Sue said...

I have been on a few tours - middle and high school. All were excellent. It seems the elementary schools have their tours in March, but many middle and high schools had them in February, with perhaps one more in March. It's not necessarily a problem, but it is interesting.

What I have always wanted to see on a tour is a tour guide willing to say to people who show up who are touring for their 2 year old or unborn child - "Man, WHAT are you doing here?" Those people always crack me up.

Regarding AP in high schools - the only place 9th graders can take AP classes is Garfield. Unfair, but there you have it. Apparently the district feels that is the only school in the district with AP capable 9th graders. That may be true, but it would be nice if the rest of us had some options as well.

Oh, and as far as choice goes - why oh why do we receive assignment letters in late May, early June? Lots of private schools are going to rake in the non-refundable deposits before then.

SolvayGirl said...

Keepin'On—private schools are already raking in heir deposits (I know a number of families who have sent checks off to the various Catholic high schools as their fall-back). The alate May/early June date means that some families will also be losing at minimum a month's tuition. Many have to register and select classes, try out for cheerleading, etc. at the Catholics long before they get their public choice assignment. At least some will elect to stay.

Sue said...

Oh I know SolvayGirl- why do you think I am so cranky about it! LOVE writing checks because the NSAP which is so efficient predictable and wonderful is actually, slow, inefficient and frustrating.

reader said...

Ha. Private schools I know about, will require 25% of the year's tuition if you back out in May. You can't blame them, they've got to plan also. So, people are losing a lot more than the deposit.

If you do get on one of those "waitlists" at your favorite public school, and then are given a seat in September after the waitlist moves... Then, you will owe the entire year's tuition at your private school. In that case, do you think anybody would still go to the pubic school? After being legally required to fork over the entire private school tuition? Uh. No. Your favorite public school might be good, but not that good.

wsnorth said...

We are not going to hear until May or June? That is terrible! I thought the whole "VAX" excuse meant they could at least just input the requests, push the button and get the results without all the "manual work". This just keeps getting worse and worse!! Why woule it take over 2 months to process a couple thousand applications?

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue said...

Yes wsnorth - you have to enroll in Spectrum, open choice, etc during March. Letters will be mailed in late May.

I think NSAP this year really means: Not So Awesome People.

seattle said...

We live in Seattle and our son went to SPS K-5. This year for 6th grade he is going to a Shoreline school because he didn't get into our Seattle neighborhood school, Eckstein. Oddly the district now considers us a "new family" to the district - so we have guaranteed assignment into Eckstein this coming year, for 7th grade. We received our assignment letter this morning. I'm not sure if we will send our son there though - he's settled into his Shoreline school quite nicely, and moving him again would be another uneccesary disruption.

Thanks for the ride SPS......

Unknown said...

@Keepin' On:

Well qualified 9th grade students have been taking Human Geography at RBHS for the past two years and will continue to have the option into the future.

wsnorth said...

Sully, how did the district "find you"? If you don't decline that position, will they hold it for you until the school year. Is that the way it works now? In our area a huge % of the kids go to Private schools, will they be holding assignments they have no intention of accepting?

Sue said...

Thank you Theo - that is good to know. Only one class though? Any science or math? Just curious.

seattle said...

The district didn't find us. We applied back in October or November (I think) when we heard that we were within the Eckstein boundaries. Our son was still new to his Shoreline school and we weren't sure how he'd adjust and we wanted to keep our options open (for the record he's adjusted just fine).

With the NSAP I'm not sure how long the school holds a spot for a student? You would think that once a family called the district and let them know they were not using their spot it would go back into inventory, to allow another family in, however that is not how they did it last year. Our son was assigned to Jane Addams and when we decided we did not want to send him there we called the JA principal to let her know. She told us she had no control of assignments and asked us to call the enrollment center and let them know. When we called the enrollment center they told us they could not remove our son from the JA roster until 10 days after school started at which point he would be considered a "no show".

Our older son is currently a 9th grader at Hale. We got an assignent letter from the district for him this morning too. It confirmed that he would remain assigned to Hale next year for 10th grade. Not sure why they sent that letter out as we had no plan of changing his school next year?? Just wasted postage.

ParentofThree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ParentofThree said...

Wait a second, what assignment letters are you waiting for? Everybody knows what their assigned elem, MS and HS assignment is today.

Option schools: At the MS level they are probably going to be tough to get into, and there is going to be limited transportation. So if you are waiting for a spot at TOPS for 6th grade v. Private school then yes you are in a tough position.

If you want a seat at an Option HS, there are three and probably no problem getting a seat.

Choice seats for high school is the real crap shoot. So yes, those families are in a pickle if they are weighing Garfield Choice v. Private Schools.

When you break it down, really most families know what school their student will attend next year, which is vastly different from years past.

bryant jean said...

Yes, I got our assignment this morning for our incoming kindergartener. Funny as it said full-day at Bryant. I never mentioned full-day or half-day on any pre-registration material. What if I want half-day? What about the whole, "some elementaries may have forced half-day k." According to the letter, I am guaranteed full-day. Any other people have different experiences in the NE over-crowded schools?

hschinske said...

If there are any AP courses available to 9th graders at Garfield, it's a brand new policy -- they weren't doing that last year. Is this the science acceleration thing?

Helen Schinske

Sue said...

Hi SPS mom-

The assignment letters we are waiting for are for programs in schools, or for option schools or for open choice (HA!) high school seats. So, you may be assigned an attendance area school, but if you want a special program within that school, you will not know that until June. The testing, etc was all done in the fall, so why they couldn't tell you to apply for spectrum at your neighborhood back then is beyond me. Also if you have a child in a school that is no longer your neighborhood school, and you have an incoming kinder-gardener, that K student is now assigned to another school. You have to apply to get them in the same school as older brother or sister.

So, those are the types of letters people are waiting for. In years past everyone applied at the same time and got their final assignment letters at the same time. Now we have this system where you have to wait another two months for an assignment if you don't want the one you received. I wish they had found a way to let you apply for a different school earlier - I mean we all knew what the maps were in December - or November - why drag it out like this?

ParentofThree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ParentofThree said...

My point is that in recent years nobody found out their assigment until after private school deposits were due.

Now only parents waiting on special assignments are in this situation. So this situation impacts a much smaller population. For example, how many families are really considering Spectrum v. Private? I would venture to say, not many. APP v Private a handful just because it is a program that only allows the top 2% to qualify.

It's not perfect, but so much better than before when everybody went to 5-6 schools, ranked them and then waited.

ttln said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

And SPSmom don't forget all of the SPS families trying to get into their neighborhood assignment school but are not coming in at grades K,6, or 9. They are not guaranteed assignment. Many families in my neighborhood full of over crowded schools (Bryant, Wedgewood, View Ridge, Eckstein, and Roosevelt are waiting on pins and needles waiting to hear if they get in.

ParentofThree said...

" Many families in my neighborhood full of over crowded schools (Bryant, Wedgewood, View Ridge, Eckstein, and Roosevelt are waiting on pins and needles waiting to hear if they get in."

Really, how many families are coming in at non-entrance grades in your neighborhood? The poster above just got a letter with a 7th grade assignment to Eckstien.

I am sorry, but I just don't see this as a huge issue across the district.

ttln said...

We will have as many Spectrum seats as student need determines. We won't impose a cap. We have 72 real seats available. Opt into Madison and help us fill our building. Spectrum level curriculum has always been available for those who need such levels of challenge in our buiding. Maybe if parents demand it for Spectrum space, they will raise our 'functional capacity' back to its real/actual level. If you come, we will build it.

wsnorth said...

ttln, is the revised "functional capacity" posted someplace on the district's website? Not sure I'm following.

PS for anyone considering it, Madison is a great choice!

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

And really, why should SPS be making a convenient schedule for people who are considering private school? I am not trying to be argumentative, I am really trying to understand what the incentive would be?

seattle said...

SPSmom the poster you referenced above was me, Sully. My 6th grade son is no longer in SPS, so he is considered "new to the district" that's why he got a 7th grade assignment to Eckstein. Unlike current SPS families, students "new to the district" get guaranteed assignment to their neighborhood school in any grade they apply for. Current SPS families are only guaranteed spots at K,6 and 9th grades.

You obviously don't live in an over crowded part of the district like the NE where schools like Eckstein and Roosevelt get 200+ kid waitlists, class sizes in 3rd grade are routinely 30+ students, classrooms are squeezed onto stages and in teacher lunchrooms, and families living within a few blocks of popular schools don't get in.

Many families, myself included, that live very close to Eckstein, the only middle school in the NE, don't get in and choose to send our kids to Shoreline. In my sons classroom alone (in Shoreline) 6 of the 28kids are SPS kids. Many of those families will want in to Eckstein.

In elementary school despite listing 4 or 5 choices, many many NE families get mandatory assignments to schools that they don't even list on their applications, far across the cluster in many cases. They now (rightfully) want spots in their neighborhood schools.

And, how about the 200 kids on the Roosevelt waitlist? Many of those on the waitlist lived a mile or two away from the school. They are now well within the Roosevelt boundaries. They want in now.

And with the economy being as bad as it is, I'd expect many private school families will want in to their neighborhood schools now too. Schools they couldn't get into under the old plan.

Don't underestimate how many kids will want in to popular schools. I know it may not be this way in your neighborhood, but believe me it's going to be a circus this year in the NE

Sue said...

Tom I certainly see your point, that the district has no reason to make it easier for families considering private school. It would be nice, but you are right, it is not their job.

However, until this district can guarantee equal access to a high-quality, appropriate education to every student in every neighborhood, families will hedge their bets and apply to private schools.

In years past, you found out your assignment in March, well before deposits were due. Now it will be June, and many families who are not fortunate enough to live in an area with a good school, are out of money and out of luck.

wsnorth said...

The wait is not just about Private school tuition, waiting until May just adds more months of uncertainty and stress! Now families won't know for sure what High School they will attend until June (or later for the wait lists to clear)! How long do people have to accept their assignments after they are received in late May or early June? Whatever people thought about the old plan, didn't we get our assignments much earlier than June?

Jet City mom said...

When I just had one child- we didn't learn till end of August what school she could attend. Since that was not good enough, we placed her in private school where the teacher was able to contact the kids during the summer.

The problem with notifying so late, is that then you are more likely to have movement from the wait lists into the school year, making class configuration more difficult for teachers and principals.

She was finally notified in late October that there was room in the program we had hoped for, but by that time we felt it was too disruptive to change.

Her sister on the other hand knew by the end of the school year where she was going to attend & her teacher had taken advantage of that by having students in his current class write introductory notes to the kids- which was a big thrill.

He also hosted a potluck/kickball picnic at the end of the summer so that parents and students could meet each other before school began.
I was amazed- this was public school?

When she was a rising 9th grader, the high school counselor met with students ( in the spring)to give them plenty of time to pore over course selection. (knowing what courses are in demand early, also allows more time to optimize schedules and have wise hiring choices)

Chris S. said...

Yes, in over-capacity parts of the district we have trouble believing guaranteed assignments based on the maps. But I think we are justified in feeling uncertainty about what the school we got assigned to look like in the fall? How many kids in a kindergarten class? How many portables? If assignment letters have been sent out, can principals be informed about their current enrollment projections? This all depends on how option school enrollment shakes out, not to mention returning students from private or neighboring districts. I don't think anyone can predict - it could be fine or as Sully says, somewhat charitably, a circus.

StepJ said...


One thing you said concerned me as I have heard other parents say the same thing.

You won't have any time to decide if you accept an assignment or not.

If you list a school on your Open Enrollment application and are assigned then you have made your choice with no time to think it over. Whatever school is listed on the letter you receive at the end of May is the school you have been assigned to.

If it is a school other than your attendance area school then you have forfeited your assignment at your attendance area school.

So please be certain of any choices you list during Open Enrollment as you may get one of them with no opportunity to change your mind.

SolvayGirl said...

As for why it's an issue with private schools...the District needs to be keeping their enrollment numbers up. Forcing parents into this waiting game will cause many to opt for the private school, thus losing another body (and attached state/federal funding).

SPS has shown a c'est la vie attitude about the loss of students to private school for decades—an attitude that has resulted in the loss of many families with the means and inclination to actively support their child's school.

Maggie Hooks said...

FWIW -- the open enrollment forms, which are supposed to be available now, are not up yet.

ttln said...

'functional capacity' for our building,at least, was set by the # of in coming 5th graders from our feeder schools. This year our 6th grade capacity is 227, down 72-73 from our previous #s of 300. Carlilse was told this new # was our cap. Killing us slowly over the next three years. Our program works with 900 in the building.

Sasha said...

Maggie, the enrollment forms are there

sixwrens said...

Late enrollment notification also makes it difficult to arrange for after school care. It's another place to lose your deposit.

Brian said...

We just received our assignment letter for entering K at JSIS. The letter came in the mail either Friday or Saturday (2/26 or 2/27). It says: "Your child has been assigned to the school listed below for the 2010-2011 school year." (Melissa, I could send you the whole letter via PDF if you want to see it).

Lori said...

Sully said "And with the economy being as bad as it is, I'd expect many private school families will want in to their neighborhood schools now too. Schools they couldn't get into under the old plan.... Don't underestimate how many kids will want in to popular schools. I know it may not be this way in your neighborhood, but believe me it's going to be a circus this year in the NE"

I agree with Sully. I know another family who couldn't get into an oversubscribed elementary school in the NE last year, got a mandatory assignment to a school they hadn't toured and decided to go private. They called the district earlier this year and were told that yes, their child is considered "new to the district" even though he has a student ID number from the previous mandatory assignment and that yes, he is now guaranteed a spot at the school for which he had previously been waitlisted. The family asked how it is possible that there is room this fall when there wasn't room last fall and they were told basically that the schools will be given enough staff to meet the demand. Of course, that doesn't account for the fact that some schools are literally out of room. They are left wondering if it's better to stay put in the private school versus finally getting a spot where they want to be only to find it's so crowded that their child won't get a decent education.

And I don't think schools will have final numbers until as late as September when all of this shakes out.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a link to the enrollment forms.

Jet City mom said...

RE money and private schools
While I think the public district should serve everyone- but their first priority should be children currently in the district- it is also true that while the economy is tough, private schools are not hurting & some have very generous scholarships for families.

Some families may need to switch to private- but there is a certain contingent that is never going to be hurting & they often have as a priority commitment to education not only for their own children, but other peoples children.
( and while you may ask " why aren't they putting that effort into public schools" , I would reply " they are to a point- but they also want their money and effort to move forward")

The lack of concern for timely notification of families doesn't just affect those who are considering private or homeschool education, but extends to those still trying to support the district and their children.

Tours are a very telling slice of the school, IMO.
At some schools- it is very dependent on the parent volunteers and their knowledge.
Within the same school- you might get someone with accurate info and some one who is clueless.

At Summit, I went on a tour when my daughter was in middle school, in order to get a better idea of the high school, the woman who was giving the tour was an elementary school parent & staff & she gave information that I knew was inaccurate.
It wasn't a case of her trying to whitewash problems, just she didn't know all the ins and outs of the course scheduling.
IMO, it is better to say you don't know, than to give wrong information.

Other schools like Garfield have an evening session and take it very seriously, principal makes a big effort to participate as much as possible, teachers are in their classrooms and give presentations- it was very impressive.

I was also very impressed with Nova, teachers took a lot of time, students were able to visit during the day, and I felt like we had a good impression of how the school worked.

When the principal isn't at the head of the PR ( which a tour is), I would ask why.
This is their chance to reach out to the community and present their building.
If they are too busy to be fully involved- at a tour which is only held a few times a year, then I expect they will be too busy to get back to current parents when they have questions and concerns.

Jet City mom said...

( I meant switch to public :o )

Melissa Westbrook said...

Assignment letters used to go out much earlier but the VAX and the new SAP are making that impossible for at least a couple of years. Look for earlier letters either next year or the year after.

Theo, I hadn't heard anything about RHS 9th graders taking AP Human Geography given that all the 10th graders have to take it. Where did you hear this?

Jenni, I wouldn't take any "guarantee" except to your assignment school. If you are in the NE, there is the distinct possibility of only half-day K.

"She was finally notified in late October that there was room in the program we had hoped for, but by that time we felt it was too disruptive to change."

This is precisely why you should not give up on getting into a school. Many people, even after 2-3 weeks at a given school, are reluctant to move thereby opening up a space at another school. It's surprising how often it can happen (but no guarantees with the new SAP).

Phernie said...

We're one of those "split sibling" families, so the letters we received yesterday felt like SPS was pouring salt on our wound.

If we ONLY apply to our oldest child's school (our former reference school) for our youngest, and don't get in with all of their capacity making measures, they've promised that our oldest can go to our new attendance school.

Nope. Can't do it. We will not remove our child from a school she is thriving in, away from all of her friends, to attend a brand new opening school at a temporary location. We would prefer to split up the kids next year than do this.

So, like others have mentioned, we are applying to private school and will forfeit a deposit and a couple of months of tuition if we hear back at the end of May that our youngest can actually go to our current school (our first choice). It pains us to do this. I had previously believed I was an ardent supporter of public schools. However, I have zero confidence in this district.

Trade off? We hate to punish our school, but we cannot afford to donate any money to our school this year, and perhaps not next year also, if we are spending all of this money on a private school deposit.

Dorothy Neville said...

Melissa, Theo teaches at RBHS and that's what he said, not RHS.

I wonder, if you forfeit your deposit to a private school, could that then count as a donation to the school for a tax deduction? (assuming the school is 501c3)

Cara said...

Our family has been on tours of Garfield, Nova, Sealth, Cleveland and Franklin so far. Our 8th grader goes to Washington and is assigned to Franklin as we live in SE Seattle. He wants to go to Garfield because that is where most of his friends are assigned, but also likes the programs at Nova and Sealth. In every school I saw dedicated teachers and principals, and am feeling that wherever we end up he will get a good education; good enough to get him into a 4 year college.

Jet City mom said...

This is precisely why you should not give up on getting into a school. Many people, even after 2-3 weeks at a given school, are reluctant to move thereby opening up a space at another school. It's surprising how often it can happen (but no guarantees with the new SAP).

It would have been one thing- if we had actually realized that movement on the waitlist that late was a possibility.
But I don't think the district has ever been that transparent with parents, so they had some idea of what the options were.
Because we hadn't known about it, we hadn't talked about it & they don't give you any warning, they just call you up one day and you have to decide yes or no.
I hate that.
Same thing happened when we applied to Salmon Bay for 7th.
Got a call one day- albeit it was before the new school year, but hadn't had a chance to really talk it over with my daughter- so I said no.

SP said...

Has anyone seen a copy of the 2010-11 Enrollment Guide for Parents yet? I'm wondering if it was not published this year? In the high school section, previously there was a handy page listing all of the AP & IB classes each HS would be offering, as well as well as CTE, World Language, Arts, etc. offerings.

If this is not available, it will be more difficult to compare the offerings at the high schools, and also to find out if the high schools are actually increasing their AP/IB class offerings as promised by the district (as well as each school offering atleast one AP class in each of the core subjects- History, LA, Science & Math, as promised).

Does anyone know about this?

Unknown said...


If a child is ready for AP Calc or AP Stats as a Freshmen then the student is ready and would be placed in those classes. It's really about preparedness.

Unknown said...

@ Melissa re: AP Human Geo for 9th.

I am the teacher for APHG at RBHS. I had 9th grade students last year and I have a 9th grade student again this year. We do not mandate it for all sophomores. It is a sub for World History 3 for students who are willing to put forth the effort and feel they are prepared for the course.

wsnorth said...

Seattle Parent said...
Has anyone seen a copy of the 2010-11 Enrollment Guide for Parents yet?

I'd love to see this, also. I've been looking today, finding little bits and pieces of advanced/honors high school offerings here and there - nothing comprehensive.

seattle said...

Wow. I thought Seattle Parent just over looked the 2010/11 school guide, but that is not the case. It is not online. It doesn't exist. Anywhere.

Could the district really be that callous and out of touch? I mean good grief it is the first year of a new student assignment plan. A plan wrought with last minute changes, tweeks, and amendments. Parents are more confused than ever before.......and no enrollment guide? Seriously?


Maureen said...

And I just noticed that the Option Schools are all linked to maps of their Middle School Service areas with the label of "Attendance Area." Nowhere does it say that you can attend any Option school in the District but that transportation will only be provided in your Middle School service area. And to make it worse, Salmon Bay is only linked to the Whitman map, when they will receive busing from the Hamilton area as well.

I emailed Tracy about it this afternoon and she responded in 33 minutes! If only everyone at SPS were as responsive!

Megan Mc said...

The Alternative Schools Coalition is hosting a Family to Family Enrollment Fair for all option schools on March 13th from 10-12 at the
John Stanford Center (district HQ)
2445 3rd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98134 US.

You're Invited!
Join us for a morning with Seattle's Option Schools. Meet with families from throughout the Seattle school district to learn about these unique schools:

K-5s- Queen Anne, Thornton Creek
K-8s- AS #1, Jane Addams, Orca, Pathfinder, Salmon Bay, South Shore, TOPS
High Schools- The Center School, Nova, STEM@Cleveland

Talk with enrollment personnel about how Option Schools fit into the New Student Assignment Plan, and learn how to enroll and apply.
Open enrollment for all schools is March 1-31, 2010
Registration available onsite.

I'll post the information to the main page when we get closer to the event but it seems appropriate to post to this thread now.

lizge said...

Isn't this the 10-11 enrollment guide? http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/story.dxml

SP said...

lizge- all I find from your link is:
"The page you requested was not found on our server".
The previous years' "Choice" guides were approx. 50 page booklets, one for elementary & one for MS/HS

Unknown said...

Why do we have to submit another copy of the admission form, certificate of immunization, birth certificate, parent's id, and proof of address again when we participate in Open Enrollment if we have already done early enrollment?! I'll be calling the enrollment office tomorrow. I just shredded copies of early enrollment forms and docs last week!

Anonymous said...

Nova's open house rocked!

It was great to see so many students and parents interested in our alternative education program where there is something for everyone in terms of the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

Anonymous said...

By the way, there is a movie called "The Race to Nowhere" which is about student assessment testing, something that we have been discussing on this blog in regards to "teacher's performance".

There will be a showing of it on Mercer Island, March 2nd at 7 PM at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.

To see a preview of it, go to:


and look in the right-hand column.

SE Mom said...


Look on the enrollment checklist. For returning students you only need to complete and submit the choice form. I thought it was confusing also but the checklist helps.

h2o girl said...

Sully -
Why should they need to do an enrollment guide, when everyone will just go to their neighborhood school? No enrollment guide necessary!

/sarcasm off now

seattle said...

I understand why the District is not publishing an enrollment guide this year. The guide would clearly show the inequity between our schools, and with choice so limited, parents would be angry (or angrier).

Imagine if Hale were your assignment school and you looked at an enrollment guide and found that Roosevelt offers 10 or 11 honors classes and Hale offers none.

This is just one small example. These types of inequities exist across the district, and an enrollment guide would shine a brite light on them.

Of course there is no enrollment guide this year. Duh.

seattle said...

I've been thinking...

I'd love to see a Seattle School Board with specific "positions".

for instance:

A math director (like Dorothy or Dan Dempsey)

A budget director (like Meg Diaz)

An Alt/option school director (like Megan MC)

An information analyst (like Charlie Mas)

A community Liason director (Like Melissa Westbrook)

A curriculum director

A policy director

TechyMom said...

It's not a book, and the link is kind of burried, but this web site seems to contain a lot of the same kind of info that was in the enrollment guide.

This is linked from the Open Enrollment home page, but it's down in the quick facts section, in the middle of the last sentence, and not clearly called out in the bullets at the top of the page. It is not highlighted and called out like the enrollment guide used to be. Theentire open enrollment process is pretty clearly de-emphasized in this and all the other district communicaitons.

SolvayGirl said...

Sully—what a great idea! You should send that suggestion to the Mayor's office. Perhaps one way he could "be involved" would be to suggest a change in format for the Board. We'd still elect them, but rather than running to represent various Districts, they would run for one of these specialty positions.

The McGinn could claim he did something without actually taking over.

seattle said...

Techymom, thanks for the link, but it doesn't have much information. It's the basic stuff that is easily accessible online and listed in each schools annual report.

The enrollment guide on the other hand listed much more data. It had the type of information that one can only now gather by checking each schools website individually (that is if the website has the info and it's up to date and correct). It listed whether a school had AP/IB classes, and if so, which ones they offered. It listed whether a school offered foreign language, and if so which languages they offered. Music offerings, before/after school care, full day k, and so much more.

And, it listed the info "spreadsheet style" in columns by school, so you could easily compare information and data.

ttln said...

In class today, I went over the open enrollment period, explained what kids needed to do to make choices AND copied the forms for them. I have handed out three so far.

My one hope is that someone is doing the same for other students and families in every building and in every neighborhood. It is the only form of action I feel I can take that subverts their reliance on complacency to make their plan work. The level of injustice and lack of integrity saddens me to no end.

Jet City mom said...

CPPS has an unofficial enrollment guide.
I can't post links very well- but I just googled seattle enrollment guide and it was the third choice

Charlie Mas said...

There is nothing like the old Enrollment Guides.

I'm kind of surprised that they are absent as there was a lot of talk about things having to be done in time for the Enrollment Guides to go to print.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

It probably wasn't possible for SPS to print an enrollment guide with so much up in the air?

For instance, how could they print which schools will offer full day K and which will offer 1/2 day K? They won't have those answers until AFTER enrollment.

Plus having an enrollment guide would obligate SPS to provide the services and offerings that they commit to. In other words they would be held accountable, and as we all know SPS avoids accountability like the plague.

mamashines said...

I attended a tour at Wedgwood today and the principal sounded sure that all schools will have a full day kindergarten option. She said that pay for K will be $200 a month.

Parents led the tours. Our parent was very thorough, but we did run out of time. The principal left time for questions at the end. There were very few parents there.

Dorothy Neville said...

Re enrollment guide. A teacher from Roosevelt posted a note to the LA Adoption google group a couple weeks ago that they've been mandated to have an AP class available in LA starting in the Fall. But they don't yet know how and what that will be. So that's one small bit where there can't be good data in the enrollment guide -- departments are still deciding what to offer.

seattle said...

Emeraldkity, the CPPS enrollment guide is based on the old student assignment plan, and addresses entollment for the 2009/10 school year. Their information is completely outdated as we have the NSAP this year.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, I see the fine hand of Dr. G-J here. First, we weren't going to have tours. That got stopped and so all the schools have at least one. No explanation given for why that would be the case when it has been practice in this district for years.

Now, no enrollment guides. I should have been tipped off because normally staff, especially Tracy, always harp on getting stuff done because "we have to get the info to the printer". Reflecting back, I didn't really hear that during the SAP process. I think they knew they weren't going to publish any.

I'm sorry to be a bore and say this AGAIN but why do parents have to become detectives to learn about this district, its schools and its programs? I've said this for more than a decade and now, with a new SAP, we still have this issue. Unbelievable.

Dr. G-J really thinks she is going to force people into fewer and fewer choices until they give up and just go to their assignment school.

I have to say that I do enjoy a good fight and while I have no illusions about any kind of "win", I do believe she underestimated the parents in this district. It would be nice if the NTN was her undoing but I think not. But she doesn't have all the cards and she might not want to believe she is that secure in what she is unleashing (and I choose that word deliberately).

Sue said...

Oh I think it is deliberate. The tours I have been on have been extremely low attendance. Parents probably feel like - well we have no shot at anything but our neighborhood school, so why bother? The district has not really bothered to correct this impression.

RE: Enrollment forms. It may interest you to know Melissa, that parents all received letters assigning their children to their neighborhood school, and for the regular program. Fine. But, spectrum eligible children, at least for middle school,were not informed on the assignment form that their children were eligible for that program (or any other), and the information stating that they have to enroll in the program is buried on page 4 of the "Quick Facts" that came in the envelope.

One might assume that Dr. MGJ not only wants people to stay at their neighborhood schools, she wants to drive down enrollment in programs as well.

ParentofThree said...

Good point about Spectrum. Parents MUST complete the open enrollemt forms in order to have their 5th graders continue in Spectrum in middle school.

Wonder if it is the same for APP 5th graders moving to 6th grade APP?

Maureen said...

And in the enrollment pages the Option Schools are still said to have "Attendance Area" boundaries (Follow the pull downs from this Boundary Area Maps page). No where does it say that you can apply to any Option school from anywhere in the city but that transportation is only guaranteed from one Middle School Service Area.

I know that Tracy knows about this, and I don't know how hard it would be to fix so I don't know if I should be bombarding them with emails?

The first TOPS K tour was down almost 50% from last years first tour (There were still 40 families and the earlier Open House was well attended, so it may net out).

Tell everyone about the "Family to Family" Option School Fair:

On March 13, 2010, the Alternative Schools Coalition is sponsoring an Option
School Fair at the John Stanford Center (School District headquarters). This
will be an opportunity to meet with families from throughout the
Seattle School District to learn about Seattle's unique option schools.

The following schools will be represented:

K-5s: Queen Anne, Thornton Creek
K-8s: AS #1, Jane Addams, Orca, Pathfinder, Salmon Bay, South Shore, TOPS
High Schools: Center School, Cleveland, Nova

Enrollment personnel will be available to answer questions about enrollment and
the new student assignment plan. You will be able to fill out and submit your
application to option schools at the fair.

March 13, 2010 10 am to noon
2445 3rd Ave. South
Seattle, WA 98134

seattle said...

I just dug out my old 2009/2010 middle/high school enrollment guide.

In spreadsheet format it lists by school and offerings:

Each type of CTE class that each high school offers (web site design, chef school, early childhood education, etc)

Each different world language offered at each high school

The arts, broken down by band, jazz band, choir, orchestra, drama, theater, and photography

Bilingual education

Every AP and IB class offered at each individual school.

Plus a wealth of information on special programs, APP, ALO and Spectrum, and so much more.

Here is a link to the guide (it's still online)


How at a time when parents are disoriented and uninformed could the district do away with the enrollment guide?

seattle said...

Looking at the 2009/10 enrollment guide I see that Franklin offered AP Biology. The only other HS in the entire district to offer AP biology was Ballard. Not even Garfield or Roosevelt offered it.

Franklin also offered AP Chemistry. The only other schools in the district that offered AP Chemistry were Garfield and Ballard.

RBHS offered 7 AP classes last year. That's two more than West Seattle HS offered, and the same amount that Nathan Hale offers.

And, Cleveland offered 8 AP classes!

Garfield offered 15 AP classes, Ballard offered 12, and Roosevelt offered 11.

Ingraham offered 17 standard level IB classes and 11 higher level IB classes

Sealth offered 12 standard level IB classes and 6 higher level IB classes.

This is all information that would take a family hours to research on their own. It was all available on one page of last years enrollment guide.

Josh Hayes said...

Keepin'On writes:

"It may interest you to know Melissa, that parents all received letters assigning their children to their neighborhood school, and for the regular program."

This isn't entirely accurate -- my kids both currently attend AS1, and they were assigned back there next year. I realize this is a minor nitpick, but at least they weren't assigned to Whitman and Viewlands, respectively. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

Sully-you discovered what some of us in S. Seattle already knew-that the perception of all of the high schools being "bad schools" with no rigor is incorrect.

Unfortunately, a lot of parents still "flee" as they like to say without ever looking at them. My older daughter went ot Franklin where she took advantage of the AP and honors classes and got into every college to which she applied. So did several of her friends, who ranged from doctor's kids to at least one recent immigrant.

As for the guide-well, that might be a perfect vehicle to learn this information, but she never even looked at one when choosing a school. She went on the tours provided for 8th graders and asked friends who knew someone at each of the schools for their opinions. So we-although we also looked at the guide. In the end her choice was ok with us and it all worked out.

Someone else asked about APP enrollment for next year's 6th graders. We were automatically assigned. We did not have to fill out anything.

Sue said...

Yes, Josh I know.

I meant for entry grade students. Should have been clearer.

Sue said...

I have a question.

Why are APP qualified students automatically assigned, but Spectrum students are not? If the district assumes all APP parents want the program, why do they not assume the same for Spectrum? Seems it would make the enrollment folk's job easier right?

Phernie said...

I just called the enrollment office with a question and thought I’d share what I learned here.

As I mentioned before, we might have split siblings next year. Furthermore, the new boundary (going down the middle of our street, no less) is an attendance area boundary as well as a service area boundary. Our new attendance area school will not have on site child care. Our former reference school, where our oldest attends, does, and any child can go as long as s/he signs up by the deadline. My oldest is grandfathered for transportation for 2 years to her current school; my youngest can only receive bussing to schools in our new service area.

My question was: how do we arrange for after school care for next year if our kids are indeed split up by the district? My youngest cannot get bussed to our oldest’s school, and our oldest, now in a different service area, cannot get bussed to our new service area for after-school care. All the enrollment office person (very pleasant, by the way) could tell me was that perhaps there would be a bus going by in that general direction and she hoped it would work out for us. We won’t learn whether a bus will take my child to after school care until a week or so before school begins.

CCM said...

The question regarding why Spectrum students aren't automatically assigned has to be because the middle schools have historically limited Spectrum enrollment (WMS carries a waitlist every year as I'm sure so does Eckstein etc.). APP has to accept all that qualify.

That is ridiculous - especially since we have neighborhood school assignment. Spectrum students should be automatically assigned to Spectrum at their Spectrum middle school, no matter how many there are.

Maureen said...

The KeepOurKidsTogether group has produced Help2Enroll Enrollment Supplement.

It is somewhat focused on sibling issues and skims over applying to Option schools, but contains useful information and links. It is all about the process of enrolling-not about what different schools offer.

h2o girl said...

Saw this today on myballard.com:

"On March 24th at the Ballard Library, enrollment staff will be on hand from 5:30 – 7 p.m. to help answer your questions. You can use this opportunity to enroll new students and/or submit School Choice Forms for next school year. Make sure to bring all necessary documents to register your child."

I would think the district is likely doing this in other neighborhoods as well? Do you think they might mention it somewhere?

seattleparent said...

they are, it's here:

seattleparent said...

the end of that got cut off-- it was outreach.html

h2o girl said...

Oh there it is. Thanks seattleparent.

ttln said...

I have a copy of the assignment letter sent to my daughter. Under the heading titled "Students rising from 5th to 6th grade" it states that
'all students have been assigned to their attendance area middle school, except:... Spectrum- Eligible students are NOT automatically assigned to Spectrum at their attendance area middle school. Assignment to Spectrum is by application, tiebreakers apply.'

There are seat caps at middle school? Shouldn't a middle school's Spectrum program capacity be determined, in the very least, by the number of students feeding into the school from the Spectrum programs at the feeder elementaries? Why is this not the case?

Unknown said...

To me, it seems crazy to have an enrollment guide in a year with additional large budget cuts. In the bigger picture, what if you used the guide to base your student's entire high school selection on the fact that just one high school offered a particular elective, and then that high school had to cut 7 or 8 educators, and that meant the loss of that particular elective?

It's pretty easy to weave conspiracy theories about why the guide isn't around this year, but in a year with such massive change and budget cuts, maybe the simple answer is that it didn't make sense to spend all the time and energy creating the guide. I can imagine that the guidance department or the office staff of each school spent hours on it, then someone at the Stanford Cetner spent more time, etc.

It's clear from the comments that some parents found it to be a useful tool, but I, for one, didn't know it existed and thus, won't miss it at all. Overall, though,if we're trying to retain what's "mission critical" this year I'm not sure that letting it go is such a bad idea.

I say this having spent last night listening to the high school principal tell the PTSA how the proposed budget was going to impact us next year. The heck with spending time and money on guides, my eyes are on the real prize -- cut fewer educators.

seattle said...

Not having an enrollment guide is a way to keep parents in the dark, and that's never good....

Jet City mom said...

the simple answer is that it didn't make sense to spend all the time and energy creating the guide.

as opposed to holding meetings regarding school closures- closing the schools and then reopening them again.
Yes I can see decisions are well thought out.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rosie, putting a guide online doesn't cost that much. They update the old one. Then, they have them available - hard copy - at the district headquarters and local libraries. That's far less money than making copies for every school to have.

With a new SAP in place, it IS their responsiblity to let parents know information. That is their first and foremost job in enrollment.

wsnorth said...

Sully, thanks for the AP & IB info. Yes, that is exactly the type of info many parents are undoubtedly looking for - what are the offerings for next year?

seattle said...

An enrollment guide is valuable enough to families that back when the Seattle Times printed their own annual paper back version of a school guide, many families bought them for $8 a copy!

Maureen said...

This document walks you through the choice process under the NSAP:

How to Rank Schools for the Seattle Public Schools Choice Process for 2010-2011. It was written by Elizabeth Walkup, I found it referenced at the Alternative Schools Coalition group.