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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Seattle Schools: Getting Into the School You Want

A reader asked for a thread about the status of their out of attendance area siblings getting in this year.

I know we did hear from a Denny/Sealth reader in the Open Thread Friday this week who said the waitlist at Sealth had not moved at all. 

The reader who made this suggestion had a troubling story out of Bagley Elementary so I hope she will repeat it here.  Apparently parents who wanted the Montessori program at Bagley were told it would be better to apply for the regular program and are now languishing on the regular list and somehow out of area parents are getting into the Montessori program. 

It sounds very frustrating.  What are you seeing?

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

A friend who ended up with her third choice school for her Kindergartner - Jane Addams- has been pleasantly surprised. She was told the wait list at Olympic View had barely budged, so she took herself off the list and moved her older child (2nd or 3rd grade) to JA. Don't think she had any issues moving the older sibling to JA since she didn't mention any, but I could be wrong there. Anyway, she is quite pleased with the way things turned out for her, even though it wasn't what she originally planned on. After meeting the principal and some of the staff though, she felt she made the right decision for both kids, and is excited for the K-8 configuration. So one case where the wait list turned into a positive - undoubtedly in the minority, but positive nonetheless.

Up north

Anonymous said...

I have questions for you and the readers. How many 5th grade classes are at 32 kids and, Melissa, where is the report on AL you promised for this weekend? Curious about both subjects.

Grateful Reader

dan dempsey said...

How about a list of schools with NO wait-lists?

HS
West Seattle
Rainier Beach
and ??

MS
??

K-8
??

Elementary
??

Miss Info said...

Up north,

I have friends who were assigned to Addams when they were trying to opt out of Aki, and are also very pleased. Initially they hadn't wanted to go that far at all. They say the staff goes above and beyond for ALL the kids and it shows.

Their child is thriving so much so that they are chosing it on purpose for their younger children as they reach middle school.

Grateful, I believe at least one APP 5th grade at Thurgood Marshall had 32 kids that first year after the split. As I recall, though there was zero spare room, the teacher kept things under control.

dj said...

We got our kindergartner into our first-choice school for him. (OK, our first choice school among "regular" schools -- I would have loved, eg, to have had language immersion as an option -- but I am not complaining). We did a lot of leg work to figure out which school would be our best target, and we were right.

Wondering said...

Does anyone know when they will adjust staffing for buildings that did not meet projected enrollment and those that exceeded it? Or will staffing stay status quo?

Anonymous said...

@wondering: I've been told through the rumor mill that schools will be notified of adjustments this week, but I don't know when staffing moves will happen.

Waiting

Steve said...

We were waitlisted at West Woodland, but there have only been two placements off the list thus far. Our daughter is going to BF Day, and we're actually really happy there. Great school, strong principal, and a packed first PTA meeting. Even if we happen to get into WW, we'll likely stay where we are.

seattle citizen said...

I have heard that the district wanted as solid a head count as possible last Monday (sept 12) so as to make adjustments.

It is always unclear, tho', how and where the funding for added FTE appears in the fall - Budgets are supposedly set in the spring, then adjustments are made in fall...These adjustments might come from a variety of sources (if they come):
Fed or state monies added; district hold-back for this purpose...or some other magical place that principals appear to have access to, some mystery money pot somewhere that is hard to pin down but from which money appears to those who can summon it: Separate budgets, perhaps, fill this mystery pot: "Extra" money for some sort of project or initiative, maybe some cash floating around that wasn't spent on, say, transportation is shifted...Who knows.

My point? It's hard to say what sort of FTE will be added to a given school, and from where those monies came.

Given the district desire to address class size and schools, etc, early, one could imagine that some of these issues of FTE could be solved by...next week?

But then there is the hiring freeze - we hear tell of a summer freeze (?) that made schools stand still in their hiring processes, hold off on finalizing interviews etc, for existing jobs. So there are a lot of subs in the buildings, too. How these will translate in the FTE funding dance is anybody's guess.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Grateful, it's not going to happen this weekend. I overpromised and I am currently editing the report for the Roosevelt neighborhood about building issues around the light rail station for a Public Hearing tomorrow night.

I promise by Tuesday.

StepJ said...

I believe Bryant cleared their entire wait list for K, and all siblings got in.

John Rogers and Laurelhurst each added 1 additional K class very early May/June, and all the siblings got in. I believe Rogers cleared their entire wait list for K.

View Ridge also added an extra K class and all siblings got in within the first week of school starting.

I feel for the parents at Bagley. I know they tried absolutely everything so that this exact scenario would not happen.

whittier07 said...

All 'out of attendance area' siblings were admitted at Whittier.

Anonymous said...

the sibling wait list situation is ridiculous. sibs should have been accommodated in the original plan. it makes me so angry to hear other parents complain about large class size due to "letting all the sibs in" (View Ridge – this year and last). the sibs belong. divisiveness does not.

-Diane

biliruben said...

I'm toured early for my fall '12 K at Addams and I really liked the school, principal and staff.

We are leaning towards making it my first choice this winter, though I'll have to do a few more tours.

Charlie Mas said...

Surely there is room for anyone who wants it at Lowell. Isn't there?

Anonymous said...

Step J-
Your info about John Rogers is somewhat incorrect. The out-of-area K sibs were let in last Spring, but John Rogers was NOT given an additional K class to help accomodate them. I don't think that others (non-sibs) on the wait list got in.

There are still just 2 K classrooms, and, last I heard, they are very full (28-30 kids).

North End Mom

Anonymous said...

Parents begged for help in managing enrollment problems at Bagley montessouri program as the new enrollment process had unintended consequences there.

District enrollment as well as Sherry Carr ultimately listened (but only at the insistence of tireless parents) and did...nothing.

-skeptical-

dj said...

Charlie -- is the district's policy to let in as many out-of-area kids as want in until the school is "full"? That's the $50,000 question.

Even if there were such a policy generally, I wouldn't be surprised if the district weren't holding some room in that school in case it decides the best solution to north elementary APP is to ship some back to Lowell and some further north.

Bird said...

The out of area sibling waitlist cleared by the first day of school for JSIS.

I'd really like the school board to go back and revisit the sibling issue.

I understand that the district had screwed some attendance areas up so badly through years of neglect (NE, anyone?) that guaranteeing sibs seats was an incredibly complicated proposition.

After several years of NSAP that complexity should wash out of the system, and then they need to re-institute a guarantee for sibs.

There will be boundary redraws in the future, and those redraws will put siblings out of attendance areas. Those sibs should get guaranteed seats.

There should be no excuse for redrawing boundaries in way that leaves no room for sibs in the future.

It affects a small number of people, but it has a negative impact that very few people would want imposed on their own famlies.

Charlie Mas said...

dj,

What are the rules and will the district follow them?

The rules, as published, would require the district to admit to Lowell every student who requested Lowell until the school is "full".

"Full" for Lowell was defined last year when they stuffed the building with 570 students.

Elizabeth gay said...

Thanks, Meslissa, for this thread. Our last out of attendance area sibling got into Bagley on Friday morning and we are very relieved. Out of attendance area students did get into Bagley before out of attendance area siblings this year (not yet sure how many). This problem occured because parents have to choose whether to list Bagley Montessori (M) or Bagley Contemporary (C) first and second and can only be on one waitlist. Based on prior history, sibling familes were given the advice that their best chance of getting into Bagley was to list C first. Familes who risked listing M first got in immediately and familes who listed C were all waitlisted. This year our Montessori classes are smaller, so the M waitlist began to clear and spots were offered to out of attendance area students while siblings were sitting on the C wait list. Our last sibling family got into C because someone chose to leave Bagley after deciding that their student wasn't ready to start K after all. It's been very frustrating. Our new principal has been supportive, though. We need a fix so that our sibling familes truly get access after attendance area students and before out of attendance area students (like the NSAP says). We welcome any suggestions!

StepJ said...

Thanks for the update Elizabeth -- woo hoo -- great news!!

North End Mom - Did not mean to report incorrectly. Passing along something told to me by another mom of a John Rogers K student. Thank you for the correction.

Diane - I hear you. All schools in the NE have very large K classes. The boundary of View Ridge pretty much doubled in size under the NSAP. Overcrowding is not on the plate of siblings but on the NSAP. There is not a single school in the NE that does not have very large K classes, or accommodation of number of K classes that the school will not be able to handle if rolled up, year after year, after year. Is there any school in the NE that has a K class less that 26? Please do tell.

Like Bird said there are boundary issues. Families will continue to be split if the voices of parents in the community continue to be ignored and not acknowledged in the drawing/rules of boundary changes, or the straightforward heads up - years in advance that there are a lot of little kids in our neighborhood that will be enrolling in the neighborhood school.

Anonymous said...

The weird thing about Lowell/Lincoln is that they are one school on paper. Staffing is limited, with one librarian shared between two sites and 4th and 5th graders at Lincoln (only) being told they won't have music class this year.

Lowell (Capitol Hill) has the physical capacity to accept more students, but the Lowell/Lincoln staffing is being limited at the district level.

How is "full" defined?

It has also been announced that Lowell APP will remain at Lincoln for next year. Will the two schools as one designation still hold?

-?

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that Lowell on Capitol Hill has music for 4th and 5th graders? I know that Bryant 3rd - 5th grade students will not get music this year, and there will be no art at any grade level.

~yet another parent

Anonymous said...

From the APP blog:

There are arts standards students are required to meet as a school--music included. The 4th and 5th grades at Capitol Hill DO have the option of instrumental music; however, general music is a part of their regular curriculum, for 150-160 minutes a week. (I called and asked a friend whose kid is there--they get music 4 days a week.)

-?

Anonymous too said...

The "two schools as one" setup may have to do with programs vs schools. APP as a program can be moved around from place to place without Board vote; as a school, changes and moves need to be Board approved.

How does Lowell at Capitol Hill strengthen and grow their school if building enrollment is artificially capped for this year (and next?)?

BettyR said...

I hope this is the best thread to post this under...,

I just got my robo-call from Hale high school saying that they've been given 3 new staff based on student enrollment. Chemistry, Algebra II, and a 10th grade "core" teacher. Some students will see a schedule change, but classes will be smaller.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say thanks for this blog. It is interesting to hear the talk and gain a little more insight.
I am in a complicated situation, but am hoping my 2nd grade son can join his sister, a Kindergartener, at our neighborhood school. I thought he would have sibling preference, but no such luck. Preference is apparently only given to a younger child wanting to go to older one's school, not the other way around, even though I followed "the rules," with regards to enrolling my daughter in her neighborhood school.
Also, I was misinformed how to fill out Open Enrollment forms by a supposed Enrollment Specialist and am told I have no recourse for this. I'd like to see the Specialists better informed, or parents passed on to a supervisor for complicated questions they only "think" they can answer.
Wow, thanks again, it felt good to at least get it off my chest!
-Jkmom

Melissa Westbrook said...

JK Mom, I am puzzled. I thought the district preference was for the older child to follow the younger to the - now - neighborhood school. That sounds like what you tried and it didn't work? Your son can't get into his neighborhood school?

Maybe call Tracy Libros if that's the case.