West Seattle Needs to Speak Up Now

So we have a lot of talk from West Seattle about how the NSAP has really confused/upended/frustrated/angered many people. And now we are having regional meetings about the transition plan and boundary tweaks to the NSAP. My impression is that Steve Sundquist either didn't listen/didn't get what West Seattle parents tried to tell him during the planning of the NSAP.

(My intel about this situation is that Steve apparently realized there were grave issues in West Seattle and did get some tweaks in the boundaries but that there wasn't enough time left before the vote to approve to do much else. And that points to how often there's this "gotta get it done" mentality in the district and the question is why? Things get put off and put off but when staff says go, the Board says how fast?)

You know the issues in West Seattle far, far better than me. I don't know for sure what the feeling is in West Seattle is about Steve's leadership. I know he's a bright guy who tries to do his homework so I don't know for sure what happened here.

But I'd be very surprised if he didn't run for reelection next fall. So now would be the time to let him know if you are unhappy about any area of his leadership. He needs to know that this matters a lot to you and that your vote may count on it.

No Director, on his/her own, can just make things happen. But it's their job to be able to help their fellow directors understand the nuances and issues of their district.

This is the way to get accountability for his work on the Board. Just as you are allowed to vote no on any specific school levy, you are allowed to vote for a specific reason for reelecting (or not) a Board member.


Anonymous said…
Steve Sundquist? I can state unequivocally from personal firsthand experience that the man does not listen to his constituents.

It's quite the little racket the District has going over in West Seattle...slough off some of the tougher student cases to the already over-crowded (but successful) schools and dump a ton of money into one failing school. Closing at least one critical campus, which would have reduced or eliminated the over-crowding at two other schools, in particular was down right negligent.

Steve did not do his homework before the new assignment plan. The boundaries are a disaster. He is feeling the heat from several PTA's in West Seattle and even showed up at one school recently to see just how bad the over-crowding really is. It takes as long for the kids wash their hands after recess as it does for them to eat...there are not enough sinks for boys or girls. Even the teachers have to line up for the bathrooms because the staff exceeds the number of available adult toilets.

The man has got to go. And, me thinks the Supt. should go too.

Concerned West Seattle Parent
Sahila said…
Not being snarky here, but why cant the community report the state of the school to the appropriate Occupational Health and Safety regulatory body?

These things wouldnt be allowed in factories, offices, restaurants - why are they allowed in schools?

I bet there are regulations about all this...

I ask the Nova parents the same thing... the unsafe conditions - there are laws about this stuff...

I bet SPS would attend to these issues a mite faster with an outside authority breathing down its neck....
dan dempsey said…

I find a lot wrong with this paragraph:
"You know the issues in West Seattle far, far better than me. I don't know for sure what the feeling is in West Seattle is about Steve's leadership. I know he's a bright guy who tries to do his homework so I don't know for sure what happened here."

Steve regularly disregards evidence and cover his irrational votes with pointless anecdotes.

He wanted to close Cooper and move Pathfinder there.

He found it fine to exclude evidence in the high school math adoption and voted to appeal rather than reconsider the HS math adoption using all the evidence.

Steve visited NT Sacramento and stated that he understood that students were graduating at a high rate, when he had been sent the evidence that the cohort graduation rates for the first two entering classes were 37% and 44%.

There are numerous other examples of Steve's failure to fulfill his oath of office. Judge Laura Inveen will preside over a sufficiency hearing for the recall of Director Sunquist on Nov. 18, 2010 at 3:00 PM.

I'll post the 200 word ballot synopsis for Director Sundquist's recall when I receive it.

You can find the Recall filing HERE:

Recall Filing for Director Steve Sundquist.
wseadawg said…
Steve represents the desires of his LEV benefactors who put him in office to the exclusion of, and often directly in conflict with, the desires of his constituents. He is a lost cause, and apologist-in-chief for anything and everything the district does. He listens to no-one, and acts more as a district PR spin doctor than any sort of "representative" whatsoever.

Nice guy, but awful board member.
IvyLeagueMom said…
Wow, where do I start?

I have BOXES of documents proving Sundquist's incompetence/collusion, immorality. West Seattle did not have a capacity problem before Sundquist got his claws into it. We now think his number one mission was to procure a new home for his constituents at Pathfinder. Pathfinder had lobbied three times for the Cooper building, once in 2003, 2006, and successfully in 2009. Cooper was built FOR the Cooper children, and was the ONLY school in Washington state that did not have to be legally desegregated in the early Seventies.The Board knew they were going to neighborhood schools the next year, so Sundquist had to RUSH to procure this building for them, and 2009 was his LAST chance. You know why? Because the Cooper building would have been full for the 2009-2010 year and he would not have been able to ever get that building for them again. Pathfinder was offered many alternative sites, but, can you believe they were allowed to (and did) turn them down? They said they would not accept any building other than Cooper. When he did the bait and switch of Arbor Heights for Cooper, it was against district policy to bus children from the North Cluster to the South, where their was capacity. So the "relaxed and massaged" (their words) the policy to make it work for them, and bussed the Cooper kids out of cluster anyway. I am so tired of seeing four different buses stop on the end of my street to pick up a group of former Cooper kids to go to six different schools when their is a perfectly good elementary school half a mile away, I hate to make this next statement, but it is true. I no longer have much sympathy for the Schmitz/Layfayette/Alki trifecta. When we were fighting like hell, to keep that school open,trying to raise money for legal fees, we kept telling EVERYBODY, "please help us, this will devastate our children, and you are going to be overcrowded. The children have to go somewhere." I think theses people just laid low, because after seeing the monstrous and illegal way he treated Cooper, nobody wanted to really line up to be next for his guillotine. We tried to have community meetings, people from those communities did not show up to help us,and Sundquist avoided us and would not return our calls. We had to go to a closure meeting at Pathfinder just to get him to look us in the eye. He in no way represented the Cooper community. Finally, he came to one of our meetings, he brought another board member with him, and said, "I can't answer any questions because this would constitute a board meeting, and we don't have a transcriptionist here." Which leads me to that point in the audit when they lied and said, "We didn't know we needed minutes for this meeting." They know what constitutes a board meeting, even if they all met at Burger King.

Charlie Mas said…
Here are the simple facts.

The total functional capacity of the four attendance area elementary schools in the Madison Service Area is about 1550.

The total enrollment of the four attendance area elementary schools in the Madison Service Area is about 1750.

This is with Pathfinder full.

The District recently closed two schools in this area, Cooper and Fairmount Park.

This is a simple butts and seats problem and the solution is obvious: re-open Fairmount Park as an attendance area school to relieve the overcrowding and to right-size the capacity.

There nothing else for it. No "tweaking" of attendance areas will change the number of butts and seats.

Moreover, since the District has to add a language immersion program in West Seattle (it takes two elementary programs to support a middle school program and there is only one elementary program in West Seattle right now), the District should place a language immersion program at Fairmount Park. To make access to the program more equitable, enrollment to the program should be done as it is done for Option schools.

With the additional capacity of Fairmount Park in the Madison Service Area, the capacity will match the demand. With a language immersion program at Fairmount Park, students will be drawn out of the attendance area schools to further relieve the overcrowding.
IvyLeagueMom said…

Had Pathfinder been moved into Arbor Heights building, NONE of this overcapacity would have happened. But guess what? SUNDQUIST CONSPIRED WITH THEM TO GET OF THE CLOSURE LIST!!! Anyone who emails me can have copies of these emails between him and the AH PTA, which, by the way, I am making ten thousand copies of, and if he has the audacity to run again, will be handing them out to anyone and everyone. There are five pages, but here are two of my favorite quotations,from the then co-chair of the Arbor Heights PTA

1) "I was always prepared to defend Arbor Heights from closure (AH vs. Roxhill, AH vs. Gatewood,etc.), but not replacement... That being said, replacing the AH program with the Pathfinder program is not a good idea... Furthermore, I spent the day crunching number (sic), reading reports, and attending the meeting with Steve Sundquist. So far, we have hatched several plans..."

2)" If we want to keep Arbor Heights open, we need to give them a sacrificial lamb. If we move Pathfinder to Cooper,the District will claim there is no savings there and even if it were the better option, they need money today and the move is on. We have to serve them Roxhill on a plate to reduce the overcapacity in the Southend...Our best shot is the School Board because they are different than the District."

Arbor Heights and Pathfinder are suspiciously silent through all of this.

We LOATHE Sundquist. I find what he did to the Delridge community a polite version of ethnic cleansing. Apparently, Pathfinder children are more valuable that Cooper/Delridge kids. They won't LIVE in this neighborhood, but they will be bused through it to get to our beautiful school on the hill. I personally signed three of the four Board recall notices, just to get rid of him, I figured, the other three are just a bonus. I find him to be an elitist opportunist, insincere, and a liar, at the very least.

Oh, an FYI for West Seattle. The Superintendent can SHUT a school down after it fails AYP three years in a row, with no vote from the board. So, lobby her to shut Pathfinder down and reinstate Cooper as an elementary school, it is the only way to get rid of the portables. BTW, in 2009, Cooper wasn't even in any step of failing AYP when they closed it, Pathfinder was in step two, another embarrassment for West Seattle. The last year of Cooper, those children did better on the math part of the WASL than Arbor Heights, amidst moving boxes, packing, substitutes, and English as a second language whole lot of crying. DO you know why they finally admitted to closing Cooper? Pathfinder had a lousy building, we did not, and Pathfinder needed a building...

The Cooper Community is broken, and we need our school back, our Autism Program, our Somali population, our YMCA School program, our environmental program for urban kids. Pathfinder is now an elitist remedial school, thanks to Sundquist, which would have survived anywhere. On the backs of the Alki/Schmitz/Lafayette/Gatewood/Concord/WS Elementary/Roxhill has that school survived.

We are still waiting for the Department of Education's Compliance Review of the Closures. Since the judicial system doesn't seem to take racism, discrimination, mismanagement, fiscal incompetence, or fraud, seriously.

I am sure the Pathfinder supporters are going to be up in arms about this post but, you are welcome to all of my documents and legal briefs. I will even pay for the photocopying. Nobody will want them because they know the truth, and the consequences of their coveting the Cooper building. I am waiting for some Native American Karma to come back to bite them.

So, West Seattle Needs to Speak up now? I think the villagers may burn down the castle. Sunquist has caused a whole lot of problems for an entire community.

IvyLeagueMom said…
PS. If I have to run for school board myself to get rid of that man, I will...
Ivy, those are some strong words and I would like to see your documents at some point.

In defense of Pathfinder, I think they turned down buildings but only because they were as bad or worse than what they had. You do remember they had their entire middle school in portables?

As for AH, I would be careful in ascribing to Steve words the AH PTA wrote. He might use the same language. If he did, then you have a great case. But he can say he could not control what AH said.

Again, Pathfinder should have gotten a new building over South Shore. Plain and simple and this issue would not exist. There is not one K-8 building in all of West Seattle and, at the time, Pathfinder was the only k-8 AND alt in all of West Seattle. But you had forces moving against that happening as well and the Board went along with it (I believe they had pressure from the New School Foundation).

Charlie, Tracy very forcefully told us at the drop-in meeting that there was enough space in West Seattle for all the students. I think she primarily meant for high school but she seemed to think there was no capacity issues in West Seattle.
SP said…
Ivy, As far as I recall, I don't ever remember Pathfinder as a whole (i.e. PTSA or administration) ever directly lobbying for the Cooper building (or any other existing school building), much less three times. Do you have anything to back this up?

I do recall the Pathfinder community lobbying hard every time a new Levy was coming up, asking for funds to rebuild their school, in its same location. It was the District that came up with the closures several years in a row, not Pathfinder, and forced the ENTIRE West Seattle community to a "them vs us" situation to save their own schools, which is inexcusable of the District. Remember, Roxhill, AH, Gatewood, West Seattle Elementary & Fairmount Park were ALL on the chopping block!

I recall the Pathfinder PTSA each year struggling with the rock & a hard spot they were put into. Many people did not think that moving Cooper kids out was a viable solution and asked the District NOT to do it, that it would create more problems than solving them, but the District told Pathfinder than they were closing the Genessee building and their "solution" was the only option. It wasn't Pathfinder's decision.
The blame should be on the district and on the Board for this one.
SP said…
Actually, there are two huge enrollment/capacity issues in WS, created by the new SAP.
1. Overenrollment in the 4 northend elementary schools (created by "closing" two schools and then drawing the elementary maps they way they did)
2. Underenrollment in Madison/WSHS secondary schools (artifically created by drawing the enrollment maps with the boundary too far north).

Charlie, I totally agree with your assessment of the current elementary school problem (except that I haven't totaled how many in-area kids these figures include & project how long this over-enrollment will last after grandfathering ends), but I only partially agree with your solution.

Yes, opening Fairmount Park could relieve over capacity issues in the 4 northend WS elementaries, and an "option" school designation & with a program draw. That would be the easiest "fix" for the district to un-do the district's self-created capacity issues in the northend elementary schools. But you do not include the information which you included in the Program Placement strand- that the International Language Imersion kids would then have to be funneled to Denny (as the one WS International MS) and not to Madison. This will only create more imbalance in the underenrollment inequities for Madison/WSHS! Charlie, I know you are concerned with the fragility of the Denny program, but please let's help create two strong Middle Schools and not one at the expense of the other.

I think it would be wise to ask the overenrolled northend schools in WS what kind of a program draw they would want for their kids. Maybe it is something different than a language imersion? If I had an elementary school kid struggling with English (especially as a second language, as we did with our kids), I know that I would not want for my kids to go to a school where core subjects were not taught in English, but in a different language such as Japanese. There are lots of other choices such as Montesori which might be a better fit for the situation, which would result in students feeding to Madison as their enrollment area (designated addresses) rather than syphoning them off to Denny.
Anonymous said…
Well Ivy League Mom, get out there and start running then. No one else is stepping up and you are going to need a year to get enough backing to counter Steve's business connections.

You will also have to run a more generally positive campaign than your pointed posts. Collaboration is a fundamental skill for any board member.

But I can't argue your essential point that dismantling Cooper was probably the single worst moment of the new assignment plan and that community, a community with no political voice, absolutely got shafted.

SP said…
For the MS/HS artifically created and inequitable enrollment imbalance between Madison/WSHS and Denny/Sealth, there is only one long term fix- redraw the enrollment maps properly this time.

The district has already created one exception in the SAP rule for WS, (by linking MS & HS together), so they need to de-link the elementary to MS/HS feeder patterns and move the MS/HS boundary further south across West Seattle. This would also help to rebalance the economic & cultural diversity (caused by the current maps), as these lines run in a north/south pattern.

You can't have your cake & eat it also- unintended consequences happen with this fully-linked pattern, especially when its 4 vs 6 schools feeding into the MS/HS.

Not only is de-linking needed to balance the enrollment at some place in the sequence, kids also need "new blood", to be exposed to different kids during their K-12 experience. The elementary-to-MS link is not a sacred tie.

The other argument (mostly form Steve Sundquist) is that there has to be a "hands off" approach to not disturb the West Seattle Elementary kids any further, because of the closures & we have to allow those kids to be able to walk to Denny (2 miles in some cases). What about all of the kids from Cooper and FP who were sent to other schools, and all over the city who have had to endure these same problems, walking past their closer schools now? It's not just WS elementary kids!

We are talking about long term negative impacts of critical enrollment cuts leading to program and service cuts for a whole middle school and a high school! It is inexcusable and absolutely inequitable not to redraw the maps and balance the enrollment, as both sets of MS/HS in WS have almost exactly the same functional capacity. Both sets of secondary schools deserve an equal footing in West Seattle, and this is definitely not the case with the current NSAP maps.
Anonymous said…
Can't the students who attended Cooper now attend Pathfinder?

The fact is, Cooper never attracted many first choices, among the lowest in the district, and less than would fill even 1 kindergarten class. The other school in W. Seattle that attracted almost nobody is/was W. Seattle Elementary. Disrupting that would have been even worse.

Full schools was the intent of the NSAP.

Inquiring Mind
Central Mom said…
Inquiring Mind...
If the proposed GeoZone for Pathfinder is approved, many (but not all) of the students in that area will have a tiebreaker priority, after siblings, to Pathfinder.

That does not mean that the Cooper community will get their school back, but for those families who place a priority on orientation to that building, they will not be completely disenfranchised from the facility.

The district also mandi-assigned some Cooper families to Pathfinder when Cooper closed. (This was against policy to not mandi-assign to Option schools, but the District also did it at Jane Addams.) That means that some Cooper families are in attendance at Pathfinder now, though I don't have stats on how many.
dan dempsey said…
Here is the Ballot Synopsis from the Prosecutor's Office for the Recall of Director Sundquist.

The hearing on Nov. 18 will be to determine the sufficiency of charges filed. If the charges are sufficient for recall, then the final wording of the recall synopsis will be determined.

The Recall Synopsis is what appears on the Recall petitions on which 32,000 valid signatures will need to be gathered to force a recall election on Director Sundquist.

If the Recall petition is approved, we will be looking to organize signature gathering after Thanksgiving.

From RCW 29A.56.130
(2) The synopsis shall set forth the name of the person charged, the title of the office, and a concise statement of the elements of the charge. Upon completion of the ballot synopsis, the preparer shall certify and transmit the exact language of the ballot synopsis to the persons filing the charge and the officer subject to recall. The preparer shall additionally certify and transmit the charges and the ballot synopsis to the superior court of the county in which the officer subject to recall resides and shall petition the superior court to approve the synopsis and to determine the sufficiency of the charges.

From RCW 29A.56.140
The superior court shall correct any ballot synopsis it deems inadequate. Any decision regarding the ballot synopsis by the superior court is final.

From RCW 29A.56.150
Time Limitations
(1) The sponsors of a recall demanded of any public officer shall stop circulation of and file all petitions with the appropriate elections officer not less than six months before the next general election in which the officer whose recall is demanded is subject to reelection.

the sponsors of a recall demanded of any other officer shall have a maximum of one hundred eighty days, in which to obtain and file supporting signatures after the issuance of a ballot synopsis by the superior court.

BUT MAYBE here we might go again:
If the decision of the superior court regarding the sufficiency of the charges is appealed, the one hundred eighty .... for the circulation of signatures begins on the day following the issuance of the decision by the supreme court.

180 days after Nov 18, 2010 will be around May 18th, 2011.

Director Sundquist's position is voted on November 1, 2011 (I believe). 180 days before that is around May 4th 2011.

Thus 32,000 valid signatures or more for the recall of registered Seattle voters need to be collected before the end of April 2011 for submission to the King County Elections Office to force a recall election within 45 to 60 days of submission.

Any registered Seattle voter can be encouraged to sign all four petitions: Sundquist, Carr, Martin-Morris, Maier.
Anonymous said…
Central Mom, lots of K8's have mandi assignments: Madrona, Blaine, Addams, B.T. The only real policy is that students not be "mandi-assigned"... to middle schools, and that they have the right to attend a true comprehensive middle school. But that sort of forced assignemnt hasn't happened since Cooper is an elementary. Were any students denied access to Pathfinder? It sounds like not, it sounds like they were actually assigned there. If so, IVY-League Mom doesn't really have any reasonable beef at all. Here we have a school that was quite unpopular, unable to fill its building. Now we have another school, with some different staff, with greater popularity filling up the space. Cooper students used to the building (and the relatively unpopular program) still have access to the building, had "priority" assignment there for the first year, and likely know many of the students. I seem to recall that Cooper students were given at least an option to go to Pathfinder, but that might not be correct. The programs mentioned like the autism programs, are still in the same school. So again, this is a beef in search of a problem.

Inquiring Mind
kellie said…
I was looking at some old files and I remembered this map of the number of students and their nearest middle school.


It showed that in 08 there 522 students for whom Madison was their nearest middle school and 1201 for whom Denny was the nearest middle school.

It seems like no matter how you draw the line, it would be hard to balance things. Can someone more familiar with West Seattle, please let me know if there is a more natural way to balance things out?
SP said…
Kellie- (...maybe old fashioned "free choice" as before, for HS & MS?)

Yes there are definitely more MS & HS kids in the southern half of WS, but previously free choice seemed to "naturally" balance the enrollment of the 2 sets of schools. The district even had a name for it, "north-south migration" and also "the swirl."

The problem is that many of the Denny/Sealth assignment area kids this year accepted their default assignment, and the traditional migration north didn't happen as the district predicted. At Denny, 86% of this year's 6th graders accepted their defaut assignment (73% at Madison). At Sealth 70% of their in-area 9th graders stayed with their default assignment vs. only 49% at WSHS (this data from p. 51 in the new "Key Facts & Data" report online). It's a downward spiral trend for sure.
seattle said…
Jane Addams is 100% option school now for all grades.
ttln said…
why starve a middle school that is one of only twelve in the state to receive the 'school of distinction' recognition for three consecutive years?
Maureen said…
Inquiring, Pathfinder is an Alternative School--policy is no mandatory assignments to Alts. (The other K-8s you listed are neighborhood K-8s).
Central Mom said…
Inquiring Mind...Maureen is correct. And so am I. The superintendent went against stated policy and mandi-assigned students to both Jane Addams and Pathfinder for expediency's sake in managing capacity. It was a one-year thing in both cases. The schools themselves had no choice, and neither did the students.

Just saying because, well, it's another example in the past couple years of policy being overwritten on the spur of the moment.
wsnorth said…
"West Seattle Needs to Speak Up".

Well for those of you not from West Seattle, we Did speak up! We took to the streets, we sued, we attended dozens of meetings by the dozens and hundreds. We tried reasoning, we cried at board meetings, we gave testimony, but we were slammed, blindsided, misled and ignored again and again. If you look back at the way this all unfolded, it is like a great con.

9 nice objective criteria were laid out, then they were all ignored! If most of what they did is not illegal, it sure should be, and it certainly is immoral.
Anonymous said…
Ok. I get it. Pathfinder is an alternative. I believe that. Aren't they all just plain old "option" schools now? Is there any such thing as an "alternative" anymore? That label seems to have been deliberately dropped.

In any case, the claim was that Cooper students were being forced out of the building and scattered to the wind. Now, people are saying they are forced "in". Which is it? Come on now. How "alternative" is Addams really? And, weren't students force assigned there? I know some people who were.

Central Mom, I don't think the decision was spur of the moment at all. There was tons and tons of debate. Eventually though, decisions do need to be made.

I guess I don't understand the WS capacity issues at all. We have popular schools overcrowded. Just like in every part of the city. Is this situation different than QA or the NE? That is inevitable if the goal is, as stated, to run at 100% capacity. We had unselected schools closed, as in other parts of the city. We have most people attending their assigned schools. So, what exactly are the capacity and feeder pattern problems?

ttln said…
the difference is, at least in Madison's case, that it was a school with a wait list, a popular choice. the NSAP lines and functional capacity caps prevent it from remaining the choice program it once was. it is not the same as 'popular programs' in the NE with programs that need to be closed. this is more a snuff job.
ttln said…
-with less popular programs that need to be closed- i meant to say.

the swirl that balanced buildings and the pull from the SE filled our building plus a wait list. we do good work and have been recognised by the state (not the district- they are killing us in spite of results).
the imbalance created was done even after a call came promising it would be fixed.
kellie said…
Seattle Parent and ttln,

Thanks for the info on Madison. It is very helpful to understand that this is/was a unique situation because of the geography of the school in the NW corner of West Seattle and the former wait list situation that drove a full school budget.

My curious question here relates to the bussing. Under the old plan, both Hamilton and McClure were also full with a wait list but they were not full with local students. They were full with students leaving the south end and therefore their wait list status was dependent on the bussing.

I am not saying this is good or bad but just that bussing created some additional dynamics that are no longer at play. So is the "ask" for WSN that they get enhanced bussing because of their unique geograpahic location. That would certainly seem to be a reasonable ask and if that is indeed the ask, how much bussing would been needed to have Madison at full enrollment.
Anonymous said…
What's the problem at Madison? Is it underenrolled? Are people not choosing it? Is there not bussing there? There still is choice. People can still choose it. When you talk about "swirl", it's pretty obfuscating. What exactly do you mean? Who selected it? Who didn't get their choice? ... Or, are people simply not selecting it?

That's true on QA also. McClure is not full buildingwise, but there is a waitlist. It does seem that capacity has been artificially limited. This isn't a calamity, or even something that should be fixed.

If Madison is underenrolled because of the number of students in the neighborhood, that's really not a problem.

Anonymous said…
The additional dynamics due to bussing was a problem, and an expensive one. Bussing, just because, really isn't something we want to do.

Sounds like the huge "problem" is people actually staying in their neighborhood. Gee.

Anonymous said…
For equity's sake, the administration needs to be policed to make sure that schools with building capacity and grade level capacity make the extra seats available to students across the district (leaving aside a few seats for kids moving to the neighborhood during the year). There is too much anecdotal evidence of the district calling schools full when they are not, just because MGJ doesn't like school choice.

Signed, A Skeptic
Anonymous said…
We don't need more policing especially for something that's a non-issue. Seattle's going to neighborhood schools. Seattle process/hand-holding has got to end at some point. I think it's a great thing. White flight was never equitable either.

Anonymous said…
The NSAP was never about a purely neigborhood school system. It was always sold as a neighborhood guarantee with limited choice. They are backdooring in a pure neighborhood model to the detriment of many folks.

In a world witj substantial patterns of racial and economic residential segregation, neighborhood schools are not a response to white flight, they are a capitulation to it.

Signed, A Skeptic
SP said…
Inquiring said,
"What's the problem at Madison? Is it underenrolled? Are people not choosing it? Is there not bussing there? There still is choice. People can still choose it."

Choice is still included, but the district used "enrollment engineering" outside of the SAP rules. For example, last spring the district put an enrollment cap at Madison (well below their functional capacity), not allowing more students who wanted to enroll under the "choice" label. This was totally inequitable and basically forced the more southern end kids to stay with their default assignment at Denny.

As you can see from the new data that was released, approx. 70% of the kids in the Denny/Sealth area accepted their default assignment for both of these schools. There are a lot of reasons why this happened, but the one I've heard most from parents is they thought the district wanted kids to go to their neighborhood schools now, and for MS, no more yellow busses makes the commute by Metro not an option for many kids.

"Inquiring"- What's the big deal? For one, why should the 2 northend secondary schools in the penninsula that is WS, suddenly lose 35% of their enrollment (as projected by the district for 2015) which means severe cuts to programs and services, when the other 2 secondary schools are stuffed full & running full swing? What happened to "equitable schools in every neighborhood"? It's not supposed to be each neighborhood sinks or swims here, is it? I thought this NSAP was sold with "every school will successfully float" assurances.

The boundary line between the 2 sets of schools can be re-adjusted to balance enrollment more equitably (and also re-balance some demographic and diversity issues as well). Right now, the boundary line for the combined MS/HS areas is shaped like the letter "r". The longer leg on the SW side for Madison/Denny almost touches Lincoln Park with not many kids (but those who live there are within easy walking distance of Denny/Sealth). The top section of the "r" border is just north of the densest part of High Point.

Instead, if the MS/HS border line was drawn straight across all of WS and moved south to include part of High Point (as determined by proper enrollment data), both the enrollment and the diversity issues would be more balanced for BOTH sets of secondary schools (like they were before the NSAP!).

BTW- with this plan, both MS & HS Lincoln Park kids would no longer need bussing, freeing up more yellow busses/Metro pass resources for the kids living close to the border (with the current map, it's 3 miles from the north boundary to Denny/Sealth, so the kids in that area are currently bussed also- they actually live mid-point between the 2 sets of schools in that area).

The point? Get the maps right and the schools will be balanced also!
Charlie Mas said…
For folks who aren't familiar with how things are in West Seattle, I offer this primer.

Historically, all of West Seattle was a single middle school region so that any student in West Seattle could choose either middle school with transportation provided. There was a pretty significant amount of flow in each direction - some north end kids going to Denny and a lot of south end kids going to Madison. Under those rules Madison was full with a waiting list and Denny was under-subscribed.

Now, with transportation to Madison limited to those who live within the attendance area of four elementary schools, families in the southern end of the peninsula have lost access to Madison and the enrollment is way down. Similarly, families in the north end have lost access to Denny.

That's one problem, but it's different at high school. While Madison is regarded as the more academically challenging middle school, Chief Sealth is the more academically challenging high school. Again, historically, there has been a lot of flow between the north and south ends of West Seattle for high school as well.

Historically, about a third of the population at each of the high schools has come from the other half of West Seattle. If the District holds the out-of-area enrollment to 10% it will be a constraint for the community - and an arbitrary one at that.

The West Seattle community needs the freedom for a third of the students at each high school to come from the other half of the peninsula.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the complement, Charlie.

SP said…
Good enrollment primer, Charlie, although I do have to partially disagree with your academic assessment of Madison & Denny. Check out the new data reports- Madison has received state awards for the most improvement again (a whopping 13% increase in 8th grade Science), but slid back 11% in 7th grade writing.

Actually, it's been at least three years now that Denny has become the "middle school of choice" for those looking specifically for academic rigor, in particular all those eager to attend the IB program at Sealth after middle school. Denny has had the Spectrum program & Honors draw whereas Madison has not supported the separate honors model, and has also not wanted to house a Spectrum program either. As many Madison families over the years know, the self-selected "challenge" program theoretically included in each classroom at Madison is only as successful as the teacher who supports it, as well as the student who accepts the additional work (...when have you seen a 7th grade boy "choose" to do more work than their friends are doing, rather than having to step up to a more rigorous built-in program?).

So as an example, out of our 5th grade class, twice as many kids chose Denny as previous years, and all I spoke with said they were choosing it because of the separate Honors classes, which will help towards the IB program.

This focus on rigor continues up to High School. At the end of 6th grade I recall the Madison principal, Dr. Hudson saying that for the past several years more and more kids were going to Sealth from Madison, and she specifically said, "and I mean the "really TOP students" are now choosing Sealth." Because of the linked schools, more and more students are choosing Denny as well.
wsnorth said…
The attendance area maps in West Seattle were clearly gerrymandered. NSAP criteria were flaunted with no reason nor rationale forthcoming. A blindfolded kindergartener with a compass and a protractor could have done a better job!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the explanation. So, it sounds like the district actually solved a problem: the perception and bias against Denny. Additionally, it has enabled a neighborhood schools to predominate (the goal), same as absolutely everywhere else in the district. No, I don't see any "need for freedom" for 1/3 of the students to have some sort of extra special choice and transportation. This whole thing sounds like total sour grapes in search of a problem and scapegoat.

wsnorth said…
Inquiring, I think you missed a fact or two. The boundaries is WS were not drawn to minimize bussing, they were not drawn to maximize attendance at neighborhood schools, they were gerrymandered to fit some strange political agenda. I think Seattle Parent described it well. hundreds of families that live a mere few blocks form one school or another are assigned to much more distant schools. Students are bussed to Denny when it would be closer or a similar distance to have them walk or bus to Madison. Capacity could easily have been balanced, providing more access to the International Programs at Denny/Sealth or the excellent but traditional education programs at Madison/WSH.
Anonymous said…
What is the size of the IP program at Denny? Is it limited to Spectrum kids? Or are all kids part of it? At Sealth, it is a program kids apply into. It would seem to me that the IB label for a building belies the truth in actual kids benefitting from the program if it only serves a limited number of students. If all kids aren't in IB, then what is in it for the other students packing the school to the gills?

I for one am tired of program names being used to legitimize the NSAP scam. We all know that Spectrum capacity is limited in the MSs across the city. To say that the NSAP for West Seattle is the best for all kids because it allows more numbers to feed into a limited capacity program's space lottery is ridiculous.

-emotionally drained by the fight in WS
Anonymous said…
Sorry, IB, not IP

wsnorth said…
I'm exhausted by all this, too. My wife won't even let me discuss any SPS issues at home except as they pertain directly to our kids! Enrollment should have been balanced, like they promised.

Balanced target enrollment for each middle school and its feeder elementary schools to create predictable feeder patterns from elementary to middle school FAIL

Availability of Open Choice seats at all attendance area high schools for students from other attendance areas to enroll through school choice FAIL

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