Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Intermediate Capacity Management Committee

The district now has its committee in place.  There are about 32 members.  It breaks down roughly like this:
  • 2 each from the 7 director district regions (14)
  • 2 each from the four special program areas (ELL, Spec. Ed, AL, Alts)  (8)
  • 2 from the Seattle Council PTSA (2)
  • 2 from the City of Seattle government (2)
  • 2 at-large community reps with technical expertise (2)
  • 2 student reps (2)
  • 2 ad-hoc community reps ("for communications) (2)
I do know that Kellie LaRue is on the Committee and this is great news as she knows her stuff and knows how to ask the hard questions.

 From the district:

    The primary purpose of the Committee is to advise Seattle School District staff in its continual process of facilities planning for the short, intermediate and long term horizons. The Committee’s work will include periodic evaluation of and input to the District’s ongoing facility planning activities and implementation of the various facility plans. Engagement will include study and discussion in the areas of demographics, capital improvements and special instructional program accommodations.

    There will be a School Board Work Session on November 2 from 4-5:30 p.m.  The district's consultant, Dr. Les Kendrick, will be presenting a report on demographic trends for our district.

    Updates: In West Seattle, it appears the district will not take the Hughes building back from Westside School and will try opening Fairmount Park instead.  Steve Sundquist also stated at the forum last night that Genesee Hill may be reopened as well (former home of Pathfinder where, ironically, the entire middle school was housed in portables).  Steve also said something about Boren housing these two schools until their buildings were ready.   So Boren is becoming Lincoln South.

    There was also a statement made by one of the incumbents last night, something about how we NOW have the right numbers for capacity.

    I'm sorry but other districts do NOT go through these tortured explanations of how many students can fit in a building.

    There is the legal capacity (as defined by the Fire Department), built capacity (as the district states when it builds them) and then the capacity with programs in place.

    That there are some SPS buildings that have had at least 5 different capacities over the last 10 years is ridiculous and it HAS TO STOP.  It makes planning impossible.  Enough with guessing/estimating - pick a number and stick to it. 

    So what are the concerns out there?   Here are some I drew up from previous reader comments and the work of Kellie LaRue:

    • what effect will these changes have on the NSAP?  Will boundaries be redrawn (as clearly they will be if you are reopening schools)?   What about siblings?
    • it is very troubling that there are schools that will reach their enrollment (or be over) by 2015.  What is the long-term plan?
    • The middle schools seem to be deeply troubling.  Hamilton was designed to have some room and now is maxed out.   Hamilton has 40k fewer square feet than Eckstein and yet its stated capacity is larger than Eckstein (without portables).  This would seem to be an error. 
    • is there to be a cut-off of what percentage of students in any given school are in portables?   
    • when does the number of students in portables trigger the need for a portable with a bathroom?
    • what about leasing portables so there is an "end-date" for their use?
    • What this sobering report from the SAO (via reader Greg) on the costs of using portables.
    Interim/Leased Sites
    • What is the status of the Cedar Park school?
    • What about John Marshall or Wilson Pacific as a middle school?
    • Are you taking into account all the Special Ed needs especially for fragile populations?
    • Should Spectrum seats be at Option schools since set-aside program seats in a neighborhood plan is a clash?
    • AS#1- what can the district do to attract more students there to take the pressure off other schools?  
    BEX IV
    • Will there be a citizens' committee for BEX IV since this planning is going to run right into that planning?   
    • If Boren and Lincoln are in such heavy use, what will the district do about rebuilding under BEX IV as the district traditionally moves school communities out as they renovate?  Will they follow the model of Hale and use portables so the school community stays on-site during the renovations?
    • What about the idea of a kindergarten "village" - all Ks from one region going to a single building for K and then dispersing for 1-5?
    Ideas/Comments?  E-mail the Committee at capacity@seattleschools.org

    Also, the Committee's meetings are public.   Here's the schedule so far with times TBA.

    Tuesday, October 25th,  Thursday, November 3rd, Tuesday, November 29th, Thursday, Jan. 5th

    Yes, I know.  The Board is going to be voting on an intermediate plan before the end of the year so it is not clear to me how this overlaps.  I'll need to put a call in soon and ask.


    Kelly said...

    VERY excited that the fabulous Kellie will be on this committee. Go get 'em, Kellie!

    Eric B said...

    The official name is the Facilities and Capacity Management Advisory Committee (FACMAC)The first focus is on intermediate term (2012-2016), but I'm sure the planning will go into what we need to include in BEX IV.

    The committee does not currently have anyone representing the ELL community. If you know anyone from that community who would like to serve on the committee, please have them send an email in to the committee email address.

    Anonymous said...

    who else is on the committee? Not clear, but are there teachers? I sure hope so because they can really supply the much needed information of what some of the issues are.

    - concerned teacher and parent!

    kellie said...

    Thanks for the compliment Kelly!

    My first concern for this committee is to get as many eyeballs from as many parts of the city on this capacity document as possible. This Intermediate Term Capital Planning document is the summary of the capacity of all elementary and middle school buildings along with the projected enrollment. This document is the foundation document upon which all short, medium and longer term decisions are being made.

    The document was created on 6/29/11 and has not been updated with the
    current 2011 enrollment numbers. SPS staff is working on the updates but the committee does not have a date on when the revisions will be finished.

    I have a few concerns with this document. One of my concerns is that these numbers have not been widely circulated amongst PTSAs and other parent groups. Parents and community groups have great insights into how buildings are actually used and the population in the immediate area.

    Even if the numbers are perfect, when something "looks odd" there is a lack of confidence. There have been so many controversial capacity decisions, that folks need to have a lot of confidence that good data is being used for decisions. Standard practice on documents like this is to footnote anything that "looks odd" to build confidence.

    So what looks odd to people?

    SP said...

    Melissa, I am confused about your West Seattle update:
    "...it appears the district will not take the Hughes building back from Westside School and will try opening Fairmount Park instead."

    Was this from the Madison meeting last night or from the Capacity meeting held just before? (anyone from the Capacity meeting here?) At the Madison meeting I did not hear the reopening Fairmount proposal, so I went through the video that the West Seattle blog just posted tonight (2nd video, @ 24 min.). Sundquist was saying that the district has proposed to move "potentially" up to 2 elementary schools (one from both the s. end & n. ends of WS) into Boren for the "near term." What Sundquist said he wanted to work on was to have the Genessee hill (old Pathfinder blgd) remodeled (or "re-do") for a 2015 opening, but he wants to delay the s. end elementary move (out of Boren) and into EC Hughes until after the fall 2015 (he said so that the Westside school will have been at Hughes 5 years). Steve didn't say it but according to the lease, the SPS district would not have to reimburse renovation costs after 3 years.
    Following that, in the video Phyllis asked a pointed question about the Cooper decision, causing a lot of squirming in the incumbent's seats!

    On the West Seattle blog from a earlier post this morning about Madison's candidate meeting there is a very lively debate about voting out the incumbents due to the mess that West Seattle schools have landed in due to the school closures & the NSAP.
    One interesting proposal was put forth in the blog- moving just 5th graders (or 4th & 5th) into Boren from all of the overcrowded schools (n & s ends) to minimize the impact of the disruption out over more schools. An interesting idea worth considering? Especially because there are not just 2 schools which are filled to the brim, but atleast 2-3 in each north & south ends of WS.

    Patrick said...

    What looks odd to me right off is that they don't even attempt to project enrollment changes at the option schools. They just continue the 2012 projections unchanged for the rest of the projected years. Granted that if the school is full the District can "solve" the problem by not allowing students to enroll there, at least if there are comprehensive schools with space that can take them, but it would still be nice to see what demand would be like if current trends continue.

    They show Jane Addams enrollment as flat projected into the future, but we've seen it increase by 117 last year and 90 this year. How long before they need portables?

    Anonymous said...

    Kellie is the only person I deem trustable on capacity issues. And capacity is my #1 issue. I am desperate for school board members who will LISTEN to community input.

    Kellie:: Do you support or endorse any incumbents or challengers in the board election? Your vote is my vote.

    Thank you. 'Desperate Voter'.

    Charlie Mas said...

    Looking at the document:

    * Does the Southshore K-5 capacity number include Pre-K?
    * ML King capacity looks low. I thought Brighton was built bigger than that.
    * Thornton Creek capacity number looks low.
    * Jane Addams K-5 capacity looks low. It adds up to only 525 for the whole building - wasn't Summit closed for being that small?
    * Pinehurst capacity looks ridiculously small
    * McDonald capacity looks high
    * Hamilton capacity 1013? I thought it was 900.
    * Van Asselt is in the AAA; the capacity has to be greater than 557
    * The enrollment projections at Lowell look screwy
    * Thurgood Marshall and Leschi capacity are both understated. They were reported previously as 425.
    * Madrona capacity is grossly under-reported - as is Seward

    lendlees said...

    All of the APP schools are misrepresented in the numbers. The Lowell screwy numbers must sort include Lowell APP, but that should make the numbers close or over 700, TM has more than 450 right now and where in the world did they get the Hamilton capacity numbers? At 920 this year, over 100 students didn't get language and they have used every available space in that building. Not sure where they think they can put 100 more students.

    John said...

    Something's weird about those flat projections for the option schools. Can we get more detailed information about where they come from? So far Jane Addams enrollment has been anything but flat.

    RosieReader said...

    Patrick/Kellie -- On the issue of Option School enrollment projections, it's small potatoes in terms of overall planning, but as the September numbers reflect, Salmon Bay will in the process of increasing the size of its elementary classes by half-again each. But they are doing it slowly, this year by increasing K and 1, which will, then, next year slide up into second grade, etc. Again, it's small potatoes and won't solve the bigger problem of the huge # of coming kindergarteners, but it will help a bit.

    Anonymous said...

    Check the candidate's websites for Kellie's endorsements.

    Chris S.

    Meg said...

    I am on the committee as well. I opened a thread on my blog on it, but will answer questions here, too.

    On capacity issues: yes, I think some of the capacity numbers are off.

    Summit had over 700 kids at peak enrollment, so yes, the Addams building numbers are likely wonky. But maybe not. I'll ask.

    South Shore has a pre-K w/ over 50 kids, but I do not think it is reflected in the capacity.

    I doubt that Thornton Creek's capacity is low. The Decatur building is not giganto, and the capacity has been boosted with portables. I don't know how many portables have long been on site and how many have been added in the last couple of years.

    I'll follow up a little more later.

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    Yes, I had heard Meg was on the committee and yet forgot to mention it.

    That's quite a dynamite duo of Kellie LaRue and Meg Diaz to have on the community. Let's give the district credit for asking them because, of course, those two are not going to take the first answer they are given on anything.

    SP, I said that about Fairmount Park not because I heard it at the Madison forum. I need to review my notes but I am certain it was said elsewhere by Steve. If not Hughes, then I would think it would be Fairmount Park.

    kellie said...

    Thanks for the multiple shout outs. I am fairly optimistic about this committee. SPS is doing something very new and this committee is jointed chaired by SPS and Seattle Council PTSA so I am hopeful there is going to be real community voice. I am also so grateful to see so many familiar faces on the committee. I am not the lone capacity junkie on the committee so I am hopeful that many voices and a good conversation can create some better solutions.

    There are a few questions that I don't have a clue about but I will follow up on anything that is posted so please continue to post away. For the answers that I do have some ideas about, I am going to continue to try to get official SPS footnotes added to the document. I believe it is incredibly important for there to be community confidence in how capacity is measured if there is every going to be community buy in to solutions.

    There have been too many random numbers thrown about and I really want there to be a generally accepted set of numbers for everyone to use.

    Patrick said...

    Five years ago, Thornton Creek had either no portables or just one. Now it's up to five, I believe. I don't see where they could put another one without seriously limiting playground space, which they need having so many kids.

    Summit's enrollment for its last three years was under 600 and dropping, for K-12. Jane Addams is still under 600, but it's increasing every year. Most of the growth so far has been in the K-5 grades. I expect that the middle school grades will enlarge more as the bigger elementary classes reach 6th grade.

    SP said...

    Thanks, Melissa- Reopening Fairmount Park was mentioned numerous times over the past year by Steve until the district recently came up with many people think of as a very inflated $11M to reopen (and also lowered it's functional capacity way down from the 350+ range to 220-250!). Yes, a bit small, but for the short term would have helped if costs were actually lower.

    Because Huges is considerably larger (and the district is finally recognizing the capacity issues in WS), maybe the district had to come up with an inflated $11M on FP to rationalize kicking the Westside kids out on the street- incredibly short-sided planning!

    I recall with the original closure controversy (the round before Cooper) at what was High Point (WS Elementary) that at numerous community meetings with Sundquist families were questioning the district's projections & the Board's conviction that the High Point enrollment would actually be going down ("there certainly won't be families moving back into the new High Point in those samll townhouses") whereas the community & city planners knew that the high-density project would be a huge expansion & bring a ton more kids to the schools. And we now have inherited a mess which could have been avoided.

    Meg said...

    Capacity for Van Asselt @ AAA. Planning capacity (from 2006) for the AAA building as a K-8 was listed at 639. The current 557 may be low. Sq footage for the building is pretty substantial, at 101K sq ft.

    McDonald's planning capacity (from back in 2006?) was listed at 403, with 23 teaching stations. So maybe current listed capacity of 421 (w/ 25 in portables) is okay? Anyone from McDonald?

    I have deep concerns about the projections. The Mercer service area currently has 2,857 K-5 students, and is projected to have 3,232 for 2012-13, going up to 3,754 by 2015-16. Given the waveringly upward line of K-5 enrollment trending in the service area, it seems aggressive. The Aki service area also has aggressive projections. Anyone have some observations on why the projections might not be overly aggressive?

    kellie said...

    The option school information is interesting because of the option to assign vs guarantee to attend.

    The purpose of this capacity sheet is to measure the places where the district is obligated to manage capacity when more students are guaranteed access to a building than there is space in the building. As such Garfield can have a capacity problem but Nova can't. This is simply because enrollment can turn away a Nova applicant when they can't turn away a Garfield attendance area student.

    So for projections, they did a simple roll up that show no changes as changes are made for reasons other than attendance area student growth.

    Maureen said...

    Madrona capacity is grossly under-reported - as is Seward

    Charlie, are you missing the division of K-8 capacity numbers into K-5 and 6-8? Seward looks somewhat reasonable if they are assuming 25 kids per gen ed classroom (ha!). Although it looks to me that they are only counting the standard size gen ed classrooms so are leaving out 3-4 self-contained special ed rooms (about 30-40 kids in PreK-5 Deaf/Hard of Hearing and 8-10 Level 4 self contained, which may make sense if everything is going ICS), as well as a few small random rooms that you could conceivably stick 10-12 kids into. I assume that over enrolled schools are using spaces like that some way. Projected enrollment looks ok to me if all Level 4 kids are assigned full time seats in gen ed classrooms as they should be. Too low by 30-40 if special ed is being counted separately.

    Patrick said...

    As such Garfield can have a capacity problem but Nova can't.

    I understand the point, but it seems to continue the District's pattern of considering issues as "problems" only if they inconvenience District administrators, not if they inconvenience mere kids or parents.

    whittier07 said...

    Hi Kellie:

    Just wondering about a snowball effect ... the 1st report shows the following estimates for Whittier:

    2011-12 431 - school is actually enrolled @ 460
    2012-13 437
    2013-14 425
    2014-15 450
    2015-16 444

    If the estimates are a "smudge" off (by about 30 students) for ALL the schools in the Whitman service area, that would be about 270 extra kids in the NW needing an additional 8 - 10 classrooms. Do these small mis-calculations usually balance out from under-enrollment at other schools?

    Also, the report shows the school capacity use @ over 100% ... from your knowledge what is the "overage" number needed before SPS makes any adjustments?

    Anonymous said...

    Thank you Chris S. for pointing me to the endorsements page. I found Kellie's name on Michelle Buetow's site, but that's it. But maybe not everyone asked for an endorsement? This is my litmus test for school board candidates. My school and neighborhood are a mess because of the horrible capacity issues and lack of response from the district. So Kellie or anyone else out there, if there are incumbents or challengers who you think will be smart and active on this issue, please post them.

    'Desperate Voter'

    kellie said...

    Here are a few of my comments to some questions posted.

    I have multiple serious concerns about measuring capacity with regard to special education. This document does not accurately reflect special education in the district. Mostly, it is that the needs of special education is hidden and I believe it needs to be transparent.

    1) Special Education PreSchools.
    The way that Special Education PreSchools are shown on this chart is that they are simply deducted. For example, Jane Addams has a very low capacity number for such a large building. It is because for the purposes of this chart, the classrooms that are allocated for the special education preschool simply do not exist.

    I have asked that these classrooms are added and that a PreK line is added to every single school where there is a PreK program.

    2) Special Education Utilization.
    I have asked that there is a column added to weight the utilization of a building. Right now they are using a simple model of number of students in a building over capacity. While this is "accurate" it again does not give transparency to the needs of special education students.

    For example, Thornton Creek has three rooms for 4(b) special education that are capped at 8 students each. Thornton Creek is showing that they are -44 students. However, if each special education classroom was weighted to reflect that those classrooms are "full" then TC would be 6 students over capacity.

    I think the transparency is important because if TC is shown at negative 44, there is tremendous community pressure for TC to add extra students. This pressure is actually pressure to crowd out the autism program.

    Likewise Wedgwood has a medically fragile program. You would need to add 31 students to show actual utilization. If this was done, the building would show 120% utilization rather than 109% utilization.

    I think that the committee really needs a special education expert to really point out the places where things don't "look right." There is a space on the committee reserved for anyone that might be able to fill this role.

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    Voter, if this issue is your litmus test, then you can consider the following.

    All the incumbents had input from communities during their tenure over the district's growth numbers. They all chose not to believe/act on that information. Peter Maier says the conditions changed but others saw this coming and he still did nothing.

    All the incumbents except Harium voted for school closures (based on the faulty data).

    I myself have not talked extensively with the challengers on this particular issue. I would venture that Kate and Michelle know it quite well. I do know that all the challengers have a commitment to engaging more with families and communities around issues like capacity management.

    You have a great opportunity tonight to ask the challengers - in depth - at the event at Seattle University. None of the incumbents accepted the invitation so you have the challengers right in front of you.

    Anonymous said...

    The enrollment projections for Madrona K-8 signal that there is no plan for any kind of school improvement over the next 5 years. It is grossly under enrolled this year (capacity 453, enrollment 315), and it is projected to remain equally under enrolled through 2015/16 (capacity 453, projected enrollment 15/16 - 334).

    Meanwhile, TOPS, a successful school a couple of miles away, and a big draw for many Madrona families searching for an alternative to Madrona K-8, has the exact same capacity as Madrona K-8 (453), and is projected to run comfortably over capacity by about 50 kids for the next 5 years, with about 500 students enrolled in K-8.

    Madrona K-8 is a beautiful, newly renovated and highly underutilized building. In a data driven district, hopefully these numbers can be used to force a change at Madrona K-8. Immersion K-8, Spectrum K-8, TOPS II - any number of ideas that have been proposed over the years that would make the school attractive to more families. TOPS is running at 501 students this year, Madrona at 315! Under capacity should be as much of a red flag as over capacity, but a much tougher problem to solve. Instead of a simple "where can we put them?" the question is a much more difficult, "how can we improve this school to make it attractive to more families?".

    But SPS must ask and answer that question. These seats should not go empty for the next 5 years in a district that is in desperate need of more capacity.


    kellie said...

    Fairmont Park was mentioned at the Capacity Meeting. They said that the district plans to honor the five year lease with Westside school. They also said that they plan to engage the community to make Boron a very attractive option. We did not have time to go into detail as that was one bullet point on the district overview.

    kellie said...

    @lendlees and Charlie,

    I have asked them to re-examine Hamilton. Hamilton has 40,000 fewer square feet that Eckstein (without portables) and has a capacity of 50 more students. While it is possible that the new building was built so efficiently that this could be possible, at a minimum, there need to be a footnote to explain that discrepancy.

    I think the Hamilton question is a bigger deal because that 1,013 capacity number was used to determine the timeline for a north end middle school. If that number is too high, then plans for another middle school need to be accelerated. I would urge anyone at Hamilton with information about the building capacity to email capacity@seattleschools.org with your comments.

    As for the other APP numbers, I think there should be a new "school" added as SNAPP to denote the north end APP group. That would be much more transparent.

    kellie said...

    @ Charlie and Maureen,

    My bet would be that Seward's PreK numbers were simply deducted from the capacity of that building in the same way that they were at Jane Addams. If that is the case, the the capacity of Seward would be up 100 for 4 classrooms and the enrollment would be up between 30-40.

    Again you would really need a weighted utilization to show that those 4 classrooms were fully utilized.

    I have some real concerns about special education visibility in capacity planning. While there may be some logical reason that this report is solely focused on K-8, I would really like to see it expand to include every grade at SPS as PreK - 12.

    kellie said...

    @ Patrick,

    I completely "get" your point. I am genuinely happy with Pegi McEvoy in the room as she continually redirects parts of the conversation back to teaching and learning where it belongs.

    But back to technicalities, the "demand" side of programming is a separate process, that needs to be independent of empirical capacity. While families may rightly feel they are intertwined, for decision making they need to be separate.

    IMO, many of the truly bad capacity decisions that have been made over the last few years, could have been averted if there were widely agreed upon metrics to measure capacity. It was just too easy to politicize this process using "functional" capacity. With politicalized numbers, you can justify any opening or closing. As Mark Twain said, so long ago, "lies, damn lies and statistics."

    If solid, rather than constantly shifting numbers had been used, it would have been nearly impossible to have closed schools in 09. Because of that, I am deeply committed to getting solid numbers in place and visible.

    So, in my perfect world, there would be a footnote (big surprise!) that clearly stated that "For the purposes of capacity planning, option school enrollment is projected to be stable. An analysis of demand for options schools can be found _____. Decisions to expand option school capacity are made by Teaching and Learning."

    For me, it is about transparency and trust. Without footnotes, it is a guessing game as to how the numbers were created.

    kellie said...

    @ whittier07

    I would greatly prefer to look at a spreadsheet that had just added one column for Oct 1 actuals and one column for the delta between estimated 2015 enrollment and actual Oct 1 enrollment. There are multiple cases where the Oct 2011 number is larger than the 2015 number.

    It would be very helpful for communities to see this "enrollment is higher than 2015 projected enrollment", as that number likely dictates that this is a school with a high probability of a boundary change. Also, that is the only way to answer your question about enrollment for the area. If everyone is over by 30, that is very different that if one school is over by 30 and the next school is under.

    However, staff is updating this and I draw the line for my mental health at rebuilding spreadsheets. My bet is that some other capacity junkie probably has already done this and I hope they post it soon.

    As for the utilization question, the color coding at the bottom should be your guide. If baseline capacity numbers are reasonable, the color coding is also reasonable.

    At yellow, schools can do 110% as surge capacity. Things may not be ideal but they are not likely dangerous. The orange 120 number clearly indicates a problem that is going to need some redress. The red 140 number means that significant action needs to be taken.

    Charlie Mas said...

    Capacity numbers need to be fixed and based on the classroom and PCP space in the building regardless of programmatic usage.

    Utilization - which reflects programmatic factors - is a better measure than enrollment. For example, a general education student would have a utilization factor of 1/30 because there can be 30 of them in a classroom. Some students with IEPs would have a utilization factor of 1/6 because there can be only 6 of them in a classroom. Some students, FRE, ELL or with IEPs, might have utilization factors of 1/18 or 1/22 if the District chooses to count them as such.

    I could easily see this sort of utilization factor included in a collective bargaining agreement. A class of 30 in which 4 of the kids are ELL, 20 are FRE, and 3 have IEPs is not the same as a class of 30 students in which there are 0 ELL, 2 FRE, and 1 with an IEP. It might be fair for the first class to have a total of 24 students while the second class has 30.

    Our capcity isn't just the capacity of our buildings but the capacity of our human resources as well.

    Anonymous said...

    I hope somewhere there will be a discussion and hopefully a plan on the 10% set aside seats in comprehensive, neighborhood schools. Maybe it's futile given the capacity issue. But it will provide some relief for those parents and kids who want options out of their neighborhood schools. My friend has a daughter who is looking at HS next year. The girl is a high achiever at her neighborhood school. But even her daughter knows she barely breaks a sweat in getting A's in her "honors" classes. She coasts and her teachers are telling her she is doing great! My friend wants her daughter to have a cohort like the ones she will find @ Ballard or Roosevelt AP classes where she has to work for her A's or even B's. They have tried Rainier Scholar which they qualified in every way, but their family of 4 makes slightly above the financial cut off . My friend laughs at this because she works 10 hours, 6 days a week because she supports not just her family, but unofficially her parents and siblings when they are in financial need.

    Do you think the 10% set aside seats is still on the table?

    Seattle mom

    Anonymous said...

    If Garfield were to admit 10% of students from outside the currently drawn boundary lines, that would add 165 students (assuming they would base 10% on the 1650 capacity number) to the currently enrolled 1750 (and growing as people move into the neighborhood). There is no cap on enrollment under the NSAP. They are not cutting off neighborhood enrollment at 1490 to accommodate set aside seats. I don't know who would want to attend a school housing 1915 students that was intended to hold 1650. A set aside number of seats combined with guaranteed enrollment for neighborhood families seems as impossible to manage as guaranteeing unlimited seats for qualified self-contained Spectrum (for example) at a popular neighborhood school. It just doesn't make sense. Neighborhood schools are now required to take all who walk through the door every day of the year (and new kids come all year, at least at Garfield). Equity between schools is the answer in this NSAP.


    Gloria said...

    I think the 10% set aside seats at the HS level went out the window this year, and it doesn't seem like they will return. It would be lovely to have some sort of open choice at the high schools, but the 10% seems unrealistic - they would have to enroll 1 kid from outside the attendance area for every 10 kids inside - correct? For HS's that are bursting at the seams already it doesn't seem feasible. To make open choice work they'd have to draw the boundary lines even smaller.

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for the link and for being on the committee. I can tell you right now, the Queen Anne Elementary numbers are way off. We are nearly 230 this year with more students coming every day. Next year, at 300 - which is listed as capacity. That is way above what the spreadsheet shows and wipes out the extra capacity of -65 shown on the sheet for the McClure service area.

    Portables at Queen Anne Elementary? Yes- there are some, we could maybe use 2 but the other two are for childcare right now. If you take away child care and to the fact that we don't have a gym and have a miniscule cafeteria, AND that the classrooms themselves are some of the smallest int he district, I can't see how parents will choose QAE as an option school if they take that route.

    Parent at Queen Anne

    Anonymous said...

    Well, here we are, back to the drawing board, doing the work that should have been done three years ago, made worse by a Gang-of-Four Board hell bent on closing schools no matter how fast the city was growing and neighborhoods were filling up with kids.

    Gotta love the "if we knew then what we know now" I've heard them all say. Really? How come I and dozens of others knew it, from the addition of kindergarten classes at several schools, full & expanding pre-schools, swim classes, soccer & baseball teams, etc., etc. And I didn't even have the same degree of access to the almighty "data" the Board had? Maybe because, unlike the board's fealty to LEV & local deep pockets, I actually gave a damn.

    I particularly love Sundquist's "mistakes were made" comment, versus an actual statement of ownership like "I was wrong" or dare I suggest "I'm sorry, and I've learned from my mistakes." Nope. Not coming. Never.

    No REAL accountability, no contrition, no atonement, and no change. Hence, no re-election, I hope. WSDWG

    kellie said...

    "Pinehurst capacity looks ridiculously small"

    I looked at this again and I think the Pinehurst capacity is right on and a great example of what happens when the capacity numbers are more political than real. I have been in the Pinehurst building and I attended the formal meeting about the proposed AS1 closure held at Pinehurst.

    The building is very small. During the hearings, multiple people testified that at 250 enrollment they were very full and were using every room in the building. I had felt that the 300 (ish) number that was being touted for their capacity just seemed weird.

    IMO, 250 is a just right number for this building. As Pinehurst is so close to the Eckstein/Whitman border, I wish they had been given transportation to both of those clusters. Pinehurst is quite far from most of the Eckstein Service area and most of the natural north end area that would select Pinehurst is not transportation eligible. I think that was another political decision rather than a student focused decision.

    With some enhanced transportation to the area immediately around the building, AS1 should be able to fill Pinehurst. (if they are just left alone for a year or two.)

    kellie said...

    @ Parent at Queen Anne and other Option School Questions

    I am going to take another pass at answering some of the option school enrollment projection questions.

    Because of the guaranteed assignment based on a students address, the attendance area school's projections are intended to show the growth of students living in that attendance area. Since options schools do not have attendance areas, option schools don't have growth in students living in an attendance area.

    That may sound like twisted logic (and I needed to check those sentences a dozen times) but it is another thing to footnote!

    To do a capacity based projection, enrollment would predict how many students from a particular attendance area would select the option school. Enrollment would then subtract these students from their attendance area and add them to the option schools. Since options school assignment is both optional and done by lottery, any prediction would be little better than a shot in the dark guess.

    For example to model the expect growth of 65 enrolled students at Queen Anne Elementary, enrollment would need to subtract 65 students from specific attendance area schools. Since this is an impossible task to get right and the net-net is that there is no change in aggregate district enrollment, the model just shows flat enrollment.

    This also applies to APP, to model APP growth in a capacity model, there would need to be a corresponding subtraction from the attendance area of the APP student. In this case, there could be an argument made that based on historical data, you could make a slightly more educated guess. However, it would be more guess than not.

    Hope that helps!

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    10% set-aside seats for high school - ah, yes where did that go. The Board and the district are notably quiet on that issue and I'm pretty sure are hoping it dies quietly on the vine.

    Totally unfair. We don't have cookie-cutter high schools for the precise reason that it is important to have different offerings to attract (and keep) kids in school. This was a basic tenet to the NSAP and I'm not even sure it ever got used. You cannot replicate every program at every school.

    I'll write a thread on the Madison forum but I was quite shocked to hear Harium say that no, not everyone should have access to the IB programs. What? We only have two programs (with Rainier Beach to hopefully come on-line in two years). But if this district is pushing academic rigor, then those programs should be accessible until they exist in all regions (not at every high school, just each region). Harium seemed to think it would just have to wait until that happened but what about the kids who want it now?

    This district cannot create opportunities and then only allow the kids that live near that school access to them.

    Anonymous said...

    I get that as QAE grows, we take from other schools. However, the starting point is all wrong. We are ALREADY at 2014-2015 projections and next year when we get three full kindergartens and only lose 20 5th graders, we are at 2015-2016.

    I hope you get the October #s for all the schools so the starting point is valid.

    Thanks for serving on the committee.

    Parent at Queen Anne

    Maureen said...

    One way to estimate the impact of Option School enrollment would be to see where the current kids enrolled come from and assume the same distribution in the future. Not perfect, but not a shot in the dark.

    G, are you trying to subtly point out that Garfield already has at least 10% of their seats set aside for non-neighborhood (APP) kids and that is contributing to their capacity problem? (About 25% of GHS kids are APP identified but some number of them live in the GHS attendance area.)

    kellie said...

    @ Parent at Queen Anne, You are not alone on that issue! There are a significant number of schools that are over the 2015 number. This changes the service area calculations tremendously and I don't think any reasonable recommendations can be made without updated numbers.

    @ Maureen, That is a way to estimate for the handful of option schools that are growing. However, most of the option schools do have relatively stable populations. Option assignments are done by lottery. While there may be a greater probability that the students would come from areas that are historically popular as there are more applicants from those areas, a lottery is still a chance and not a prediction.

    This method may make some of the option schools "look odd." The standard way to deal with numbers that look odd is to simply footnote "X, Y and Z schools are options schools with a growth plan. The forecasted numbers do not reflect anticipated enrollment growth. Expected 2015 enrollment is X, Y and Z."

    If they did subtract from certain schools, you would then need to footnote, every single school and the subtracted numbers to create the same level of transparency. Neither method is perfect and I prefer the simplicity of placing the growth in the attendance area.

    Anonymous said...

    I'm still confused about the capacity numbers.

    The district folk at the capacity meeting clearly stated that the portables outright change the capacity number for the building so if an elementary had a capacity of 350 and then placed two portables, the new capacity number is 400. However there is no change in core facilities.

    I think there really needs to be an additional column (or perhaps a footnote a la Kellie) that has original building capacity and then another column with portable use capacity. So many buildings are overrun by the use of outside portables. Sure there are seats but are there resources in the building to support this?

    Let's find lasting educationally sound answers

    Anonymous said...

    "Because of the guaranteed assignment based on a students address, the attendance area school's projections are intended to show the growth of students living in that attendance area."

    Some families with young children are choosing to move out of the Madrona K-8 attendance area, and conversely, others are choosing not to move in with small kids. Under enrollment at Madrona K-8 becomes a self fulfilling prophecy under the NSAP. There will not be growth of students living in this attendance area if the school does not attract families. Pleases, SPS, fix Madrona K-8!


    Erin said...

    @Kellie and Meg

    I have sent an email with my thoughts to the capacity group but I also want to ask here. Can you request that the team look at Bagley's numbers as well? The numbers are way off in both what the building can accommodate with our current programming and the enrollment projections. We have Montessori, ICS, Inclusion, and whatever they are calling the new Continuum model. The space is maxed out at 393, but the document says we are under utilized. The special ed capacity/utilization issue is very real and needs to be addressed before this can be a useful document.

    Just to note as well, Bagley did not have portables used by SPS as of Fall 2011(there are two ancient portables used by the childcare program, not the school). The portables arrived in the spring and weren't even fully wired and operational until this summer. So there were not 49 kids in the portables as of Fall 11, someone is smoking the good stuff downtown.

    Erin said...

    Well actually this is Fall of 2011 and I am an idiot who can't read a calendar. Sorry Cap project people!

    Meg and Kellie - you are doing yeoman's work. Thank you.

    Anonymous said...

    what about my endorsement?


    kellie said...

    Yes, Bagley is yet another school where Oct 2011 enrollment is significantly higher than the 2015 projected enrollment. Something is going to have to give at Bagley. Just like the current Spectrum issues, Bagley is just too small and capacity is too tight for that building to run two programs and Bagley has three programs.

    As for portable notations, this is a place where transparency is working! All of the previous versions just rolled the portables into the total counts. This version has capacity with and without portables and a total capacity number. I think it would be better if there was also a percentage of capacity in portables column. That would make it really obvious where the extremely overtaxed buildings are. (Schmidz Park with 10 portables and 46% of their capacity in portables is the clear winner!)

    SeattleSped said...

    I'm posting a comment made by a very knowledgeable SpEd parent:

    Kellie, there are staffing ratio's for all special education classrooms.

    I think it would be safe to calculate programs based on level

    Level 3 - 12 students (range may go up to 15)

    Level 4 - 9 students (range 8 - 12)

    Level 2 - 22 students

    The district is contantly changing this - but basically, some sort of calculation like this will always happen.

    All of these students with disabilities also appear (or should appear) as general education students. AND, they all occupy 2 seats. That is, they need to be counted twice for space. They have a seat in a general education classroom, and they have a seat in a special education classroom. Those are both required by law.

    The other thing is, the special education community is pretty dedicated to equitable student assignment. And that means, should a program be full in a building, NEW PROGRAMs must be added if eligible students live in the neighborhood. EVERY OTHER STUDENT GROUP HAS THIS RIGHT. If students without disabilities move into the neighborhood, space is found. If APP is full, more space is found. Students are not simply told to go somewhere else with space. That has been the situation for students with disabilities forever. Not sure how this impacts decisions, but it needs to be accounted for.

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    Just to be fair, Spectrum doesn't have this right. If it's full, it's full and it doesn't matter how many students live in the neighborhood and are qualified. They can get in the school but not in the program.

    kellie said...

    @ SeattleSped,

    I have been emailing the person that sent me those comments to get some clarification.

    I am very clear on both points
    * Sped Students should be served close to home
    * Sped students are both general ed and special ed and occupy two seats.

    It is for those two reasons that I have been arguing that special ed students should be visible on the capacity documents as BOTH an enrolled student and Weighted as a sped ed student AND visible at the enrolled school.

    The issue that I am trying to get clarified is about special education with regard to the balance between visibility and confidentiality. There are some folks who seem to think that putting the program on the capacity chart is breaking confidentiality with regard to special education. In other words, even admitting that there is a program or students in the building on the capacity document is breaking confidentiality.

    I find this a bit of stretch but I am not a special eduction attorney so I just don't' know.

    What I do know is that if special eduction is just subtracted from a building without any footnotes, it makes it impossible to build a transparent plan. There are multiple buildings on the capacity chart that seem to have bad capacity numbers. The numbers are way too low to be believable. They are extremely low because both the students and the classroom were just subtracted and made invisible.

    There are also multiple buildings that appear to be under-utilized when in fact they are way over-subscribed. This is because the special ed students were not treated as both a general education student AND a general ed student.

    I know how to make this work for the purpose of measuring capacity as that is a text book example of facility utilization. (i.e. really easy) But I don't know about the legalities of special education and what information can be public and what can not be public. I am really hoping that a community member with that type of experience either can join the committee or just feed me the answers.

    kellie said...

    Back to Portables and the capacity document.

    While the utilization of portables is now visible and that is a giant leap forward in this conversation, the accuracy of portables is an open question and this is a case where there could be some errors. I am hopeful that parents looking at this chart can send feedback to capacity@seattleschools.org if there is inaccurate portable information in the capacity calculation.

    There are many reasons for portables at a school and only one of those reasons is classroom space. Some schools have portables that are owned by child care providers and they do not belong in a capacity calculation as they are not classrooms.

    Some schools have portables for other reasons. The McDonald numbers seem high because their portables should not be counted as classrooms. The portables are serving as the gym since the building does not have a gym. The portable listed at John Rogers is also not really a portable. I don't know what you would actually call it but is not a structure for 25 students. It could really only fit 10 maybe 12 students.

    If the "total capacity in portables" number for your school does not look right, either post here so that the committee can look at it or email capacity@seattleschools.org and request that they re-examine the facility.

    Maureen said...

    I know how to make this work for the purpose of measuring capacity as that is a text book example of facility utilization. (i.e. really easy) But I don't know about the legalities of special education and what information can be public and what can not be public.

    Kellie, is someone asking how other school districts do this? It seems like a phone call to Bellevue could clear up some of these issues.

    Josh Hayes said...

    Thanks for your take on the Pinehurst issue, Kellie. It's worth pointing out that the building, small as it is, also houses two developmental preschools. I'd love to see enrollment grow as well, especially in the K-3 grades (we recruit reasonably well above that from families disillusioned by their traditional school), but reassigning the building to a traditional K-5, with Northgate Elementary less than half a mile away, and the required move of two existing preschools, doesn't seem to me to provide much help with easing crowding, especially since the building is also rather far from the most crowded schools, as I understand it.

    Jan said...

    Melissa -- the Spectrum analogy is interesting -- but doesn't quite hold. In the case of Special Ed kids -- they HAVE to have the accommodations -- or they cannot learn. It is like the difference between having a seeing eye dog (I can't walk without it) and a dog who is a pet -- nice, beloved family member, etc -- but not "critical" in the same way.

    I am not saying Spectrum is not important -- it is. I am a Spectrum self contained fan (though I think I had better start learning to like clusters, since the program is being sucked into that particular hole, like it or not). But a severely autistic child must have an appropriate placement, or they cannot go to school at all. Clearly, the District does not view Spectrum that way. APP is a little closer -- but again, the APP barriers are to keep non-qualified kids OUT; with the exception of a few borderline kids whom the District may not think qualify as SPED, no one is breaking down doors to get INTO Sped classes.

    No one was beating down the door at my child's high school to get into the special ed class my kid was in. These are "unpopular" classes that everyone else is thankful they DON'T have to take -- and it would be fine with some folks if they just all went off and were housed at the worst schools, where no one wants to go, or the ones farthest away -- or if they just all went off and put them in one building together. That would clearly be a violation of the rights of these kids to go to school with their nondisabled peers. While the District does not do this wholesale, they seem to do it in a myriad of "little" ways -- by simply not making programs (real programs, not "SPED in name only" stuff available across the board -- including the "good" schools that neurotypical kids want to go to. Obviously, a line has to be drawn. Not every school can have every program (austism, BD, dyspraxia, etc.) but aprocess of siting programs equitably does not seem to exist, and whatever process they use is totally opaque.

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    Jan, I was just speaking to SpecEd's point that "all" other student groups get in if they are eligible to be in that building. As I said, Spectrum IDed can but they don't get a program.

    I personally feel that, after capacity, the district needs to get a grip on Special Ed and Advanced Learning. The lack of clarity around these programs is troubling. But clearly, because of the law, Special Ed should come first.

    kellie said...

    Hey Josh,

    I apologize if I was unclear about AS1 at Pinehurst in discussing the Pinehurst building. I was NOT trying to say that Pinehurst should be an attendance area school but rather that AS1 should have expanded transportation for AS1.

    Salmon Bay has transportation for two zones (Hamilton and Whitman) and I think AS1 should have transportation for both Eckstein and Whitman. Since the Pinehurst building is practically on the Whitman boundary, it makes very little sense to only offer transportation to Eckstein zone families that are pretty far away when most families in the Whitman zone live much closer.

    I am glad that there are two preschools at AS1. Those are some lucky kids. That makes the previous arguments about AS1's enrollment even crazier if adding two preschools would have maxed out your building.

    What do you think a reasonable Pinehurst capacity number should be?

    SeattleSped said...

    "There are some folks who seem to think that putting the program on the capacity chart is breaking confidentiality with regard to special education. In other words, even admitting that there is a program or students in the building on the capacity document is breaking confidentiality."

    Yep, that's the canard us SpEd advocates get when we ask what programs are where and what population do they serve. It's a state secret! How do we engage as a Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Committee if we can't get this info out of these folks. If they actually told us something, then they couldn't arbitrarily kick our kids all over town!

    Yes, Jan, you get it. Melissa, I understand how you meant it.

    anonymous said...

    "This district cannot create opportunities and then only allow the kids that live near that school access to them."

    Couldn't agree more Melissa. Further, the more NSAP (and the board) restrict access the more appealing charters will be. Either families need some choice, or charters may get voted in next time around. Something for the board to think about.


    Anonymous said...


    I understand your point about using a flat growth assumption for option schools. But it makes me nervous to apply the same assumption to APP. Unlike option schools, which can turn people away, APP has to take every qualified student who wants to go. If you don't try to model APP growth, you could end up in a situation where an APP school suddenly has 700+ students in a building designed for...Oh wait, that already happened.

    Maybe a simple solution would be to project APP growth for the APP school, but don't subtract the APP students from each neighborhood school. APP students would essentially be counted twice, and then at the end you could subtract out the total number of APP students from total enrollment to make it balance.


    kellie said...


    I agree with the distinction. The double counting is an issue. However, option schools can turn students away. APP schools can't. I had suggested using a ballpark "number of APP qualified but not enrolled in APP"students to create a weighted utilization analysis for each program building.

    I think this could sidestep the student count issue and create a range for buildings where space is reserved.