Work Session on Capacity Management Transition Plan

Prior to last week's Board meeting, there was a Board Work Session on the 2012-2013 Student Assignment Plan (vis a vis capacity management). 

  • they will be trying to link schools with fewer ELL services to those with more to provide more access to students who need those services
  • they will be starting the new "World School" for SBOC at Meany.  I'm not sure exactly what this entails
  • for Special Ed, they are going to try to do the same linking idea as for ELL students. 
  • for Advanced Learning, they want to try to figure out what is a "real" ALO and what guidelines are given for schools that want ALOs.  Good question but you'd think AL would be able to answer that one right now.  Kay said she wants to see consistency in ALOs.  Tracy said the IB process at RBHS is moving along well.
  • for International Education, they have feeder patterns set up except for needed two more elementaries for Denny.  The Superintendent said these would be made in the context of budget considerations.  She said they knew these were popular but had to be picked in context of buy-in from adm. and staff.  Kay said if we are opening new schools that placing them at those schools might eliminate that issue.   The Superintendent also said something interesting about some parents wanting some neighborhood schools to be choice schools (international education) and some don't.  No kidding.  If you have a popular program in your neighborhood school, I'm sure you wouldn't to see it change to a choice school.
  • A somewhat silly discussion ensued over the high school Open Choice seats.  The point was being made that the NSAP number of 10% was just there as an example.  That is NOT how I remember it OR how I reported it.  But I guess that's the new district revisionist history.   Michael said it was just a "target" number.   There is a fairly complicated formula to figure out how many seats there will be in any given year but they continue to say this is an easy-to-understand student assignment plan. 
  • Sharon brought up an interesting point on the NSAP.  She said she had heard from a number of parents unhappy over not having the school closest to their home be their neighborhood school.  She asked if proximity couldn't be a tie-breaker.  Michael explained how proximity used to be a driver in the old pland and is in direct conflict with a guaranteed assignment.  Sharon wasn't dissuaded and asked if proximity couldn't come before lottery.  Michael said it would be a significant "complication."  Sherry said, "Predictibility was important but also a process that was fairly transparent and straightforward."  I think that day is a ways off until all the kinks in the transition years get worked out.
  • Sherry asked about Montessori assignments.  Tracy said that a student needed to get into the general ed program but ALSO must apply for the Montessori program. 
  • However, for Spectrum it has been decided that if your child is in a Spectrum program in 5th grade, they only need apply to their middle school (and not also to Spectrum).  Meaning, if you are in Spectrum in 5th grade, you will roll into your middle school Spectrum school.  However, you MUST enroll in both your middle school AND middle school Spectrum program if you are only Spectrum eligible and have not been in the program in elementary.
  • Interesting data on economic diversity.  The question was whether we need a tiebreaker in this category.   Looking at the data, it looks like we get more F/RL students through Open Choice seats than just regular enrollment at the high schools with the lowest FR/L (Hale, Ballard and Roosevelt).   It was pointed out that they currently have two years of students enrolled under the NSAP and two years under the old so the data is tentative.
  • Changes for parents of twins and multiples  (or people who have children entering the same grade) - if your family lists the same schools in the same order for both children, their application will be processed that way and assigned that way (even if they are entering the schools with different programs).  They will be waitlisted one directly after another.
  • They are likely to change the boundaries for John Stanford which would impact B.F. Day and McDonald.  This would not affect students currently assigned at Stanford but, of course, it would affect incoming siblings.  I absolutely understand the unhappiness for parents in that area but I can only point out that (1) this is a transition plan and there is no more surge capacity and (2) you have a hugely popular program.   Marty seemed concerned that sibs would be split but Tracy said they could  not keep kids together who are assigned under two different boundary plans.  Michael was trying to figure out walkzones and requested a walkzone overlay for the maps.
  • Sharon again pressed on the proximity issue as a tiebreaker.   Rachel said it wouldn't be hard to do from a logistics standpoint but it was a philosophical question.  Tracy said she wasn't sure of the impact.  Michael said it was too late for this year but could be on the agenda next year.
  • For geozones, there are no changes recommended for Salmon Bay K-8.  It may be possible in the future for South Shore K-8 but because they have an entering grade of Pre-K, it is harder to model.   Thorton Creek's geozone may be revised to take pressure off Wedgwood and View Ridge.  Kay asked if there were any school discussions about this and Tracy said no.  One idea here from Harium is a bus stop at the NE library for Salmon Bay students.  Michael asked that there is an examination of the geozone around Queen Anne Elementary because of crowding at John Hay.  Betty said there were concerns about Cleveland's geozone but Tracy said she hadn't heard from them.  (I was a little mystified how Michael's request was an easy yes but not Betty's.)


Dorothy Neville said…
I hate hate hate geozones around Option Schools. Hate hate hate. I do understand the small one around TOPS, but now that Lowell has plenty of room, couldn't that be the attendance area school for Eastlake and no more geozone preference? Please explain to me why the TOPS geozone is still needed. Perhaps I am missing something.

As for the Thornton Creek geozone issue, look at the map. It has nothing to do with proximity to the school and everything about telling folks at Wedgwood and View Ridge, "Look, your school is too crowded, so we are giving you preferred access to Thornton Creek." At the same time, SPS is telling parents in the rest of NE Seattle, "Sorry, but you don't get an opportunity to try Thornton Creek, even if you live just two blocks away."
Charlie Mas said…
When the District established five new ALOs in southeast Seattle, Dr. Vaughan promised the Board that they would not be just "ALOs in name only".

So he must already know what a "real" ALO is. Otherwise, what was his basis for that promise?
seattle citizen said…
A week or so ago, "the departments of Education and Justice jointly released new guidance emphasizing that public schools may voluntarily consider race in order to achieve student diversity."

This guidance apparently related to the Ballard/Kentucky Supreme Court decision of 2007: Districts are now afraid to use race at all, yet the guidance offered by Ed and Justice suggest that they CAN use race.

Was there discussion about this new development at the Capacity meeting?
Anonymous said…
I'm sorry to say that I don't think Dr. Vaughan has much to say about the matter. He does his best in a highly politicized arena.

SeattleSped said…
I wish what you posted would be true, but one look at this and you can see that the change for SpEd is NOT like the change for ELL. SpEd would have linked schools for self-contained programs (except they like to say "services" because it sounds better.)
Actually SE, the DOE announcement was mentioned by Harium but only in passing.
dj said…
Dorothy, I am with you. Particularly since the geozone folks actually have a double guarantee, as they also are guaranteed berths in their neighborhood schools. Combine it with the sibling preference and the access to option schools is pretty illusory for the rest of us. Chuck the geozone.
dj said…
Also, question from the twin placement--does that mean that whatever preference numbers the twins have with essentially be averaged so that they can link? Or is there some other way they are doing it? I have twins, and it affects my strategizing, since an average means it is pretty unlikely that that average would be high on the preference list, so I wouldn't want to try for a long-shot school with linked twins.
DJ, I'm not sure I understand your question and I don't want to give you incorrect info. I would check with Tracy Libros and the enrollment office.
kellie said…

Essentially, one of the twins will get two seats. Both twins are put in the lottery. The twin with the higher student assignment number will get two seats. No averaging, just random.
Anonymous said…
The guaranteed Spectrum seat in middle school is great for some and completely unfair for others. A parent may have tried to get their child into a Spectrum program in grade school but was wait listed and now may have less of a chance to get their child in Spectrum in middle school since they will have to get in by lottery.

Which brings up another question with school that are dismantling their Spectrum program. Will they still have a limited number of Spectrum seats? Since the Spectrum students aren't in one classroom, it doesn't seem like they would, correct? Or what is the school fills with reference area kids? Will they take away Spectrum seats? And then if someone loved their AOL school, but wanted a guaranteed Spectrum seat in middle school, they could move their child the essential a program similar to their AOL, but called a Spectrum program for 5th grade to get their guaranteed spot; or not move their child, as most wouldn't, then risk not getting the advanced classes in middle school as there is a wait list at most North end middle schools for Spectrum.

Looks like this is opening up a huge can of wormsl

Anonymous said…
Can anyone tell me if Bryant is considered a true ALO school, or one "in name only"? Even though I heard that Kim Fox comes from a gifted learning background, I haven't seen any change for my 3rd grader in ALO versus what my older child received a few years back. (other than getting a new report card.) Both are spectrum or APP qualified, we just chose not to move from the neighborhood school. Bryant is in it's 2nd year of having ALO status and doesn't live up to expectations. The strong teachers have always done well differentiating, with or without the ALO name, but the school overall doesn't seem to have developed an obvious ALO plan. It would be helpful to have something laid out so that parents know what to expect with the new report cards or when trying to advocate for more challenging work for their qualified children.

It is also disappointing to think that parents who were committed to neighborhood schools, particularly with ALO programs, now will be at a disadvantage when applying to Spectrum programs in Middle School. In order to guarantee my son Spectrum at Eckstein, will I have to transfer to View Ridge or Wedgwood for his last 2 years?

NE ALO Parent
Anonymous said…
Weird spectrum news. Hope it's to force middle schools to make more seats available for advanced classes for everybody.

dj said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
dj said…
Kellie, thank you for answering. Now, as this is not obvious to me -- does a family want a higher or lower student assignment number? It is not intuitively obvious to me whether "higher" is the better or worse of the two numbers, for assignment purposes.
kellie said…
@ dj,

There is no "better number." It is a reasonably fair system now. The intention here is that by linking the twins, one twin is essentially given two seats at the lottery and one twin is given zero seats at the lottery.

Under the old system, each twin had their own unique lottery number. As such, both twins needed to "win" in the random lottery in order to be assigned together. In that system system, you had two chances to be assigned or not assigned to your choice school - possible outcomes - both won, both lost, one won/one lost.

In this systems you have one chance for both students in the lottery for choice seats- possible outcomes - both win, both lose.

So there is no advantage to the assignment number. Each student still receives their own unique lottery number. The student assignment number is used to determine which student has zero seats and which student has two seats in the lottery.

Clear as mud?
kellie said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
kellie said…
I agree with Dorothy that the GeoZone issue is quite troubling.

IMO, alternative schools (or schools with alternative instruction) should be more open, not less open to choice. I believe the decision to make language immersion and montessori schools neighborhood schools was a huge disservice to families.

The GeoZones (If used this way) essentially replicates at the alternative schools, the same situation at JSIS. It restricts that alternative instruction model to only the families that live nearby.

Geozones should either be the size of the entire middle school service area or they should be the "postage stamp" size that they were described to be in the NSAP framework. Manipulating them in this fashion is not being done for academics, it is only being done because of poor capacity management decisions.
Anonymous said…
Choice Rules Says

As a choice school believer I love geozones. We won't ever get more choice schools without the mechanism. Who would want to see their building converted to a new innovative choice program if the neighborhood were to be denied access? We need more, not less, great choice programs. (This is not a shoutout for charters. Hate them.)

I remember that the district was clear that among the many reasons for geozones was capacity management. Also, promoting walkability. Where it falls down as usual is failing to include the community and school in the discussion of expansion and contraction of the zones. Thornton Creek's situation is horrendous. The district has treated that school community horribly from what I can see.
Anonymous said…
Once and for all the school board needs to suck it up and make all montessori and language immersion schools choice schools. FIX THIS. FIX THIS NOW.

The district has been pigheaded about this for years and it keeps biting us in the butt.

Make the geozones around the schools largely the same as current neighborhood boundaries. Slowly draw the circles tighter, reducing area ownership and increasing access. This is not difficult. The staff and board just need to get it through their heads.

Oh, and at choice schools, sibling is a tiebreaker, so you wouldn't have the ridiculous JSIS situation of sibs getting left behind by redraws of boundaries.


dj said…
Kellie, I am sorry, I am not understanding. In plain English, is it that the twins are treated as one student and that "one student" is randomly assigned a lottery number? (as opposed to what I understood from your original post, which was that each twin would get a number, and then one of their numbers would be the one that would "count"). Sorry to keep asking, but based on past experience I do not think I can call central admin and get a straight answer.
Anonymous said…
Dorothy as a politically active mom in Eastlake with an incoming kindergartener, I say with some insistence: give it a rest on TOPS and Eastlake. The neighborhood and school are working well together after a decade of awful relations. Eastlaker Dad Jules James and school board candidate Michelle Buetow and some wonderful TOPS families solved what the district couldn't or wouldn't and now my younger child actually has friends to play with because families live here instead of fleeing a child-averse school and city community. My preteen grew up with none of that. The current status really is a minor miracle. Don't tear down this neighborhood or that school. And P.S. Lowell is straight uphill, across multiple busy streets, the loudest section of I-5 in the state and needle-strewn no-mans lands. It is not our fault the district screwed up capacity on North Capitol Hill with TT Minor closing, advanced placement and lack of a plan for special education students. (Yes, thanks to parents like James and Buetow I have learned to follow this district like a hawk.)

Do you live near Thornton Creek or another geozone? If so, be active in that community to reshape the boundaries. If not, MYOB.

Usually a Lurker but Today Proudly Eastlake Lifer
Anonymous said…
Hey, Eastlake Lifer. Sound entitled much?

Your neighborhhod wants guaranteed access to a successful school whose entire purpose is to serve as an alternative for parents who have different values than or whose kids are not properly served by their local schools. That is arrogant but understandable, as there is no other elementary school in your neighborhood.

But that is not all you want. You also want to be drawn into a regular attendance area zone and given guaranteed access to not just one excellent elementary school (TOPS) but a second one as well (Montlake), while many kids in the district don't have access to even one good elementary school. I find that mindblowing.

I voted for Michelle Buetow in the end, but her leadership on this issue made me wonder whether she was actually committed to closing the achievement gap and to providing quality schools for all the kids in the city.

--Stirring the Pot
Patrick said…
Dorothy, I think I am missing your point in the 2nd paragraph. I thought anyone who lives within two blocks of Thornton Creek is in either in Wedgwood or View Ridge's attendance area.
kellie said…
@ dj

That is a good basic question.

Every student is assigned a unique student id number (think social security #). This number is used for everything - transportation, report cards, etc. This is the number that would be associated with "your permanent record."

During open enrollment, every open enrollment applicant is also given a lottery number. That lottery number is unique to that year's lottery. Assignment that is done by lottery uses this lottery number to rank choice applicants for school assignment.

They are using the higher student assignment number as a consistent and impartial method for choosing which lottery is assigned two seats and which lottery number is assigned zero seats.

For example twin #1 has the higher student id number and twin #2 has the lower student id number. In the lottery twin #1 is assigned two seats and twin #2 is assigned zero seats.

If in the lottery twin #1 gets an assignment to your choice school, both twins are assigned. If twin #1 does not get an assignment, neither of the twins gets an assignment. The number for twin #2 just disappears.

You get one lottery number for two seats. Under the old system, each student had one lottery number for one seat and both students needed to win the lottery to be assigned together.

Hope that is more clear. This assignment rule is really the result of the work of Stephanie J. Stephanie lobbied for many years and each year the assignment rule got a bit of tweak. I believe this rule actually accomplishes what she set out to do. Twins now have a fair chance at being assigned together - at both an attendance area school AND at a choice school.
Bird said…
...I can only point out that (1) this is a transition plan and there is no more surge capacity

Ha! That's a good one. The only reason there is no "surge capacity" at our school is the district stubbornly refused to alter the boundaries for two years so that we've had successive K class size of 90, 100 and 100.

Not only did this reduce the "surge capacity" that might be used to add sibs, it also compounded the sib problem as each large K class admits more sibs to split.

This is a district created debacle. The district needs to step up and admit they haven't been aggressive in dealing with it, and not put off a solution for yet another year (and I'm not talking a minor boundary tweak here)

Tracy said they could not keep kids together who are assigned under two different boundary plans

Did she say why they "could not" keep kids together? I really doubt there is some physical impossibility here. This is a choice the district is making. They need to own it.
kellie said…
@ Usually a Lurker but Today Proudly Eastlake Lifer

I feel your pain, more than most. The reason I have been so active in capacity issues for so long is that my family also lives in a former "dead zone" under the old SAP.

I live in what would have been the University Heights school area. The closest schools are Montlake to the south, JSIS to the West, Bryant to the East and Wedgwood to the North. As such, I lived too far for my daughter to get into any of those schools and even if applying during on time enrollment would only get assigned to whatever school happened to have space that year. So I get it.

The "TOPS issue" was just one of the many broken things that drove this whole NSAP. It wasn't about "predictability." It was about enfranchising families that truly did not have any local school option, like the families in Eastlake.

I am genuinely torn about the the TOPS geozone. I think it is a good compromise. The geozone is small enough that Eastlake families have a local and walkable school AND there is still room for choice families.

The Thornton Creek geozone is none of those things. It is so large that it effectively removes any option for any family anywhere to choose this school.

That is my issue with Language Immersion and Montessori. I definitely think the neighborhood should get access but access does not mean shutting out the rest of the district from unique opportunities.
TechyMom said…
What about opening a middle school at Meany (co-located with SBOC) and using it to take some pressure of Eckstein and Hamilton? Meany is right on the 48 and 43 lines, so it's an easy commute from the U district, Wallingford, Fremont, and not too bad from Laurelhurst or Sand Point. All are 30-45 minute metro trips on lines with frequent service, and with any transfers happening at Montlake, rather than downtown.

Also, Lowell's attendance area should boundary should move west to the water, taking the overflow from John Hay. It should include First Hill, South Lake union, part of Downtown, Belltown, and maybe Lower Queen Anne. The #8 bus goes through these neighoborhoods right to Meany. If Lowell fed to Meany, it would be easy for kids to get there. This would take pressure off of both John Hay and McClure.
Anonymous said…
Stirring the Pot:

Eastlake does not WANT to be drawn into Montlake's zone. It does not WANT to be drawn into Lowell's zone. In 10 years it never lobbied for either as far as I know - and I watched. This community is so far from entitled, and so far from the upper middle class white Montlake community that it is clear you have no idea what you are talking about. Do you know how many children in this neighborhood come from low income families? That's right, most of us are renters. Do you know how many do not come from a one mom, one-dad family? Do you know how many are not white kids? Do you know how many have significant learning issues? This is a small, active community who works hard for the few and growing families who are trying to raise kids here. This is not entitlement. This is hard work.

And specifically to James and Buetow. James raised a kid here when there were maybe 3 families left, thanks to the horrid SPS and city policies that left this neighborhood high and dry on the family front. I will grant you that James seemed primarily focused on neighborhood access to TOPS. He deserved to be.

But Buetow only advocated for a neighborhood solution in conjunction with TOPS remaining alternative. In fact, she is one of the most vocal and articulate people I know on preserving alternative schools. I got to know her through her thoughts on the subject. AND she worked on keeping bussing to TOPS from the Southeast minority communities when the former board wanted to cut it. (I know, because I wanted her to spend more time on some other neighborhood issues during that same period.) AND she lost her school board race and kept right on quietly working on some achievement gap issues that she cares about, without mentioning a word of it to anyone on the politicized district/city/Legue of Education Voter/this blog 'in crowds'. And now she is going to kill me for talking about her, but I am an admirer and boy it burns my buns when people who actually lift a finger for their community and their city get torn apart by people who don't offer solutions, just criticism.

And as I said about the other geozones. And for that matter, any district or city issue - If you think schools are difficult, try dealing with Parks and Rec -: If you are a member of a school or neighborhood and think something isn't working, speak up and offer an alternative. If you aren't directly involved and just want to whine in general, well keep right on typing on this blog. It's your right. But your time would be better spent offering constructive solutions. There are a couple of people on this blog who do so. Beside Melissa and Charlie I see Kellie and Meg as offering concrete ideas, not just opinions. I imagine some of you are on the capacity management committee. Bravo. I guess that is why I usually do not comment, because I would rather help someone doing something real for the community. The information on the blog is interesting, and of value because the district is awful about informing us. But most of you couldn't shape a proposal if the modeling clay and mold were handed to you. Instead of actually doing something you would protest that you wanted blue clay instead of red. Like "Stirring the Pot." An apt name.

Usually a Lurker but Today Proudly Eastlake Lifer
Erika said…
It is mid-December and as a parent of a JSIS student, I just found out that my neighborhood school is no longer my neighborhood school for my incoming kindergartner next year. We live in the middle of Wallingford yet the district wants to send us to BF Day next September. Not only is it a neighborhood school in a different neighborhood, it is a school that is very different from our current school. The splitting siblings issue has been hashed out again and again over the past several years, but it is not acceptable to do this to families that are invested in their schools, communities and programs. Predictability was the reason for the drawing of the boundary lines two years ago. Predictability should be granted to existing families first. We are not dangling on the cusp of the boundary zone - we live right in the middle of our neighborhood. We aren't cheating the system. We simply want our elementary-aged children to be in the same school and the same program. Enrollment is in a month. Even if we could look to private schools, we don't have time to do it now. The district has said that this capacity plan is a temporary one for next school year. I think a temporary plan should also be made for the newly displaced siblings.
Erika said…
Quick edit to above post.... the temporary plan should encompass all displaced siblings - new and old.
Maureen said…
I agree with Lurker's view of Michelle Buetow and her involvement at TOPS (I've been there 13 years and spent a chunk of that time pushing back at Eastlake's desire for guaranteed seats--much as I like Jules James.)

For now, I am ok with the current Geo Zone. I am interested to see, however, how many K seats went to GZ families this year and how many of those families get behind the idea of TOPS as an alternative school. (I hear bunches of K families are volunteering so that is great.) I don't like the idea of GZ families having two guaranteed seats much, but at least that way Eastlake people who prefer a small, more upper class school like Montlake will just go there and not try to change TOPS into Montlake K-8.

The GZs at most of the other Option Schools are IMHO much too big. TOPS' is only ok because there are (supposedly) relatively few families living in it. If the GZ attracts many families (or pulls kids from private) then TOPS' zone might be too big too. I'm still annoyed that Tracy Libros kept saying 'postage stamps' and then went and created huge blue tarps.
dj said…
Kellie, I am not asking about what is fair or unfair (nor was I suggesting that I thought anything was fair or unfair about twin assignment). I am just trying to get a factual answer here. Let's pretend I am dealing with non-twin kids. Take that out of it. All I want to know is, in the language of student assignment lottery numbers, if you are trying to get into a school, who gets in first -- the student with the "higher" lottery number or the "lower" lotter number?
Speechless said…
Dorothy, I'm with you. I hate geozones the way the district is manipulating them. I recall that in the original NSAP, geozones were promised for the families who live "just across the street from the school". I have to laugh about how the district continues to say that living within a geozone doesn't guarantee a spot. It guarantees a spot if the number of applications within the geozone is smaller than the number of seats available. It doesn't if the number of applications within the geozone is higher than the seats available, then all the "geozoners" would have to enter the lottery, but not a single student outside the geozone would be considered. What are we looking at for next year? We are looking at "reducing Thornton Creek from three kindergarten classes to two, which will “push” an additional kindergarten class of students to other schools." Reduced capacity + increased geozone = very, very small chance to get a spot at TC for anyone living outside the geozone.
publicanlee said…
I also have a student in JSIS and live in South Wallingford which has been potentially redrawn into the BF Day zone. I'd like to second comments made earlier about predictability and the importance of not splitting young siblings. It's hard on the families and it's hard on the school community.

All of the families of these siblings that are displaced entered the school in good faith. Either they were offered a spot in an additional class or they lived in a boundary that was current for the year of their current student.

I've attended several recent meetings with parents and school board members and a lot of good ideas have been suggested. The district definitely is touting a one-year temporary fix. Let's respect our existing families and find a temporary solution for the district's temporary plan. Let's keep siblings within the neighborhood schools AND the same type of elementary program (Wallingford has two of them). After all, this one-year change for these families will affect us for the next 13 years as language immersion middle school and high school paths will be set.
Anonymous said…
Did she say why they "could not" keep kids together? I really doubt there is some physical impossibility here. This is a choice the district is making. They need to own it.

I agree. The district is opting for this method since it is easiest way out of this mess they have created in Wallingford.

Clearly parents with younger siblings need to assess the sustainability of their neighborhood school boundaries before enrolling a child, especially if it is a popular school.

Wally Parent
Meridian said…
Please guarantee incoming K students a spot at their siblings' school during this transition period for attendance area schools! Shrink the John Stanford Int'l School boundaries significantly if need be to make this happen.

Since many families in that area seem to have about 2 kids on average, this should be a short lived issue that will fizzle out on its own. It is extremely stressful to have a child who entered a school under the old SAP and her 2012 incoming sibling may not get in.

Please create predictability for current families in SPS and keep families together!
Anna said…
"Marty seemed concerned that sibs would be split but Tracy said they could not keep kids together who are assigned under two different boundary plans." But they have been assigned to the same boundary plan until now. How can families feel that there is predictability – an objective of this assignment plan – when the boundary changes after only 2 years? And then this decision is made with so little time that families impacted are left with few options, no time to change course. We are invested in our school and were assigned there by the New Assignment plan. We have 4 years left at JSIS…we don’t want to fragment our time and energy across 2 schools. No one wins with that plan, least of all our kids.
dj said…
Just to note, those of you with siblings at JSIS arguing for "predictability" are arguing for less "predictability" for families who live in the JSIS boundaries but do not have students at JSIS currently. So it is not just "predictability" you want, because your "predictability" comes at a "predictability" cost for other families.

I have kids at two different elementary schools. It isn't ideal, but it is doable.
Dorothy Neville said…
Lurker, please reread what I said. I specifically asked about TOPS separately to find out what I might be missing there. The other geozones are strictly capacity management *not* walkability.

My understanding that Eastlake had particular geographic challenges and was scrod with distance tiebreaker. Under those conditions, negotiating for a small geozone to TOPS made sense. But the district is abusing that idea at other option schools. All I wanted to know with respect to TOPS and Eastlake is now the we have more capacity in the area -- with APP moved out -- and now that we have predictability with attendance area schools, do we still need a geozone in Eastlake for TOPS? It was a question, not a conclusion. Perhaps we do, but perhaps we do not. As Maureen said, we need data on how this affects the demographics at TOPS as well as answers to my questions. We do not need geozones around other schools, and if we do have geozones, it should be strictly a couple blocks each direction and for walkability. Nothing else follows good principles for opportunity of access.
Phyllis said…
I agree with publicanlee and ask the School Board find a solution for these families: "Let's respect our existing families and find a temporary solution for the district's temporary plan. Let's keep siblings within the neighborhood schools AND the same type of elementary program (Wallingford has two of them). After all, this one-year change for these families will affect us for the next 13 years as language immersion middle school and high school paths will be set."
Catherine said…
I thought the SS Board claimed this new plan was for predictability in assignments. Seems like the latest plan is not any more predictable than before, and maybe even less so. Am I remembering wrong?
kellie said…
@ dj

I didn't think you asking about fair or unfair. I was simply commenting that after three years of tweaking this, I think it finally works!

Siblings (if the paperwork is filled out just so) will be assigned with the "lottery number" of the student "with the higher student id number." That "lottery number" could be the higher or the lower, you will have no way of knowing.

In essence, one sibling gets a lottery number that covers both (or three) siblings. The other sibling(s) lottery number is then removed from the system.

In effect, there will be ONE lottery number to cover the family.
JSIS Parent said…
I agree 100 percent with Erika'sand Publicanlee's comments regarding JSIS.

I would add that JSIS is made up of families who have committed to a unique learning environment. It is unreasonable to not provide the same opportunities to our younger siblings and to have to split them up. The boundary change two years ago was supposed to add predictability. We bought a house in the neighborhood, within the boundaries, and then get assigned to another school (BF Day) in different neighborhood (which crosses multiple busy arterials- not safe to walk). it sure doesn't feel very predictable to me.
Anonymous said…
TechyMom @ 11:42-

Where would you put Nova? Nova and SBOC currently co-house @ Meany.

seattle citizen said…
I second Nora's question - If a new middle school co-housed with SBOC in the Meany building, where would NOVA go?

NOVA just moved what, three years ago...
Eastlaker, if you think that your neighborhood lives in isolation in this district, you'd be wrong. Do one thing in one place and there are ripple effects far and wide. We ALL have a right to be concerned about what capacity management happens where.

So Bird, you are saying if the district altered the boundaries smaller, they could fit the sibs?

Techy Mom, won't work. First, the World School is eventually going to fill Meany (and hence exiting NOVA). Second, SBOC needs to have its promises finally fulfilled.

What is "this blog 'in crowds'"?

"The district definitely is touting a one-year temporary fix. Let's respect our existing families and find a temporary solution for the district's temporary plan."

Unclear, you mean the boundaries for JSIS? What is the temp solution? JSIS really can't take a portable (according to the district and I seem to remember a fairly small footprint).

I don't always stick up for the district but I will here simply because it is a NEW plan. It is going to take years to implement and shape. Did they shape it perfectly? Clearly not. But NO plan can be so radically changed and not have growing pains (tough ones at that).

I am not advocating splitting sibs. But they have done a lot of surge capacity work in two years and there's not much left that can be done. If you are at JSIS but somehow have Day, I would advocate that at least you get McDonald for the foreign language immersion.

But saying you want to keep sibs together, so then what happens to the other kids eligible for the school? Are you saying shrink the boundaries such that you fit all the possible sibs of current students?
TechyMom said…
I would move Nova back to Mann, where they want to be anyway. I thought that was being discussed for the time that Meany was under construction (Charlie posted something along those lines a couple months ago?)
kellie said…
Predictability was always a very bad word to describe the NSAP. IMO, it was never about predictability. It was about "access to a local school."

When distance was used as the final tiebreaker, approximately 50% of the students in Seattle did NOT have access to either a local elementary, middle or high school.

Eastlake did not have access to ANY local elementary school. Lake City was did not have access to Eckstein as their walkable school. They were bused past Eckstein for middle school at Hamilton because Eckstein was full. QA/Mag got whatever random high school space was open that year because they lived too far from both Garfield and Ballard - the two closest schools.

The NSAP has many faults. I am NOT defending it. That said, these "dead zones" that were scattered all over the city are gone. Wallingford students going to BF may cross arterials. However, they are NOT being bussed 5-10 miles away into whatever random seat was left over.

The real issue here is pedagogy. It is crazy for a family to have one language immersion student. That really just doesn't work for the program or the families.

IMO, language immersion should have been an option program from the change to the NSAP. This would have ensured that families that want to support language immersion are at the school and that siblings are together.

At the work session, one of the board members brought up option status for language schools. Sherry Carr said she could easily see needing to redraw these boundaries every year because demand was so persistent.
dj said…
Thank you, Kellie. Now I get it.
Anonymous said…
Yes- there was a proposal from operations committee (?) at the end of last school year to move Nova back to Mann. SPS had not asked if the school wanted to move, or even bothered to tell anyone @ Nova that the possibility was on the table. That option was dropped (tabled?) for a number of reasons, including that Nova has grown, and no longer fits in the Mann building.

It's complicated, but not wanting to move from Mann in the first place does not equal hoping to move back.

We'll all see how things shake out as the World School develops, but for now, Nova is building a home at Meany.

TechyMom said…
Ok, fair enough. I still think moving Nova was one of many very bad choices made by the last administration. We are desperately short of middle school space, and Meany is pretty close the problem area, once you get past the psychological boundary of the ship canal. But perhaps it is too late to undo this one, and we'll just have to throw money at it like so many others.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SE Mom said…
Just saying, for the record, I went to several meetings for the new assignment plan. I heard Tracy promise (more than once!) that choice seats and some access to all high schools would be a part of the plan. I do not recall Tracy ever saying that the availability of high school choice seats would be determined by school enrollment numbers. Yes indeed, revisionist history!
Catherine said…
David Sirota's article - What real education reform looks like - from the Seattle Times Dec 12th issue - as well as the Stanford University the US Dept of Education studies referenced in there, need to be personally delivered to each SSD Director because it's unlikely the staff will.

Anybody have time to do that?
Anonymous said…
To add to Sirota's article:

NYT: The Unaddressed Link between Poverty & Education

Anonymous said…
@SE Mom: I remember Tracy saying it...the year after they approved it, when Garfield was jam packed and the realized they'd screwed up the boundary. Suddenly, the 10% set asides were "if we can swing it, ya know." Which, in a city of chronically overcrowded schools pretty much means "it's not an option, chumps!" It's flexible right, except where there's no possible flexibility. So, what's the problem?

Hey, they do the best they can. Except when they don't. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
@Catherine, @Southie: Stop right now! No, it's the unions, the unions!!!! Head-fake, distraction, waa, waaa, waaaaaa! Hey look, over there, a union - the work of the devil!!

No, not poverty. It's old, bad teachers, not poverty. You're crashing the narrative!!!

Please don't make the wealthy pay their fair share. How will they live? WSDWG
Catherine said…

LMAO - "crashing the narrative" if you could see the fireball I just sent SDOT, you'd understand I darn near live to crash the narrative. Only when necessary of course.
Catherine said… Front page Dec 13th Seattle Times "Schools face $50M in 'glass palace' debt"

Further evidence perhaps that consolidation and centralization doesn't save a school district money? Or maybe evidence that the district administration can't do basic math.
Charlie Mas said…
The NOVA Project could move back to the Horace Mann property, but only if the building were significantly renovated and expanded. NOVA grew, by School District edict, after the move to Meany to better fill the Meany building and to reduce the overcrowding at traditional high schools.

The District has yet to determine a long-term home for The NOVA Project, but it cannot be Meany. Promising candidates include:

* Horace Mann
* T T Minor
* Lowell (betcha you didn't see THAT coming, did you?)

All of these options would require significant capital investment.

Horace Mann could work with renovation and expansion. It could require acquisition of additional property in the neighborhood, such as the former Dilettante Chocolate property now housing Coyote Central on the corner of 23rd and Cherry. That's not a proposal, just an example. This would be an excellent time to make such an acquisition.

T T Minor would require some work to convert it from an elementary to a high school. It's not just a matter of replacing little toilets with big ones and raising the sinks. It would need science labs, computer labs, and performance spaces. It could be done, but don't we really need elementary space there? This would, of course, displace Hamlin Robinson. Perhaps they would be interested in Lowell?

Lowell isn't really needed as elementary space, not with Stevens so close and not if the District would re-open T T Minor as an elementary school - a building closer to the population that needs it. T T Minor is going to be needed even more as an elementary school when the Thurgood Marshall attendance area is eliminated - as it will have to be. Thurgood Marshall will have the same problem as all of the other schools where capacity has been guaranteed to two different, growing populations.

That leaves Hamlin Robinson without a space - unless they are interested in Mann.
Charlie Mas said…
Let me re-state that proposal more clearly:

1) T T Minor is reclaimed as an attendance area school serving the Central District. Hamlin Robinson would have to find new space. Maybe Mann.

2) Students at Lowell are moved to T T Minor, or back to T T Minor depending on your historical perspective. Attendance areas would probably have to be re-structured a bit. Significant renovations will be required to build in the OT and PT spaces for the low incidence program. A lot of the equipment can be moved from Lowell to T T Minor.

3) The NOVA Project moves into Lowell. This location is close to Seattle Central, close to the center of the city (for an all city draw) and, soon, close to light rail. Significant renovations are required, but Lowell needs a lot of work anyway.

4) The District re-purposes Thurgood Marshall as south-end APP co-housed with an option program (maybe the Montessori program now at Leschi to provide more equitable access to Montessori) and divides the Thurgood Marshall attendance area among the surrounding schools. This improves equity of access to a popular program and heads off two different capacity management crises before they happen.
Anonymous said…

Leave the Lowell Low Incidence program alone! They've been under threat of one kind or another for years. Some see it as "warehousing", but it's the only place I've seen with enough of a special ed cohort to create a collegial community between teachers, therapists, typical kids and kids with special needs. Remember the problem with APP being a program and not a school? Same thing with these kids, except worse. Each individual classroom is considered a program. If they were to lose Lowell, they'd be flung to the four winds and stuck in isolation at random portables at random schools with all those therapists on crazy itinerant schedules. Besides, random schools don't each have a full-time nurse, which several Lowell kids require.

open ears
Charlie Mas said…
Hey, open ears, open your ears. I didn't suggest scattering the program over hither and yon. I suggested moving it intact from Lowell to T T Minor.

Think of the choice this way: do we have the high school kids in Lowell and the elementary kids in T T Minor or do we have the elementary kids in Lowell and the high school kids in T T Minor? Where do we need the elementary capacity - up at Roy, or ten blocks south of there at Union?
Anonymous said…

My point about each of the classrooms being separate programs is that they are unlikely to be moved intact.

With TOPS, Montlake and Stevens pretty full now, Lowell elementary capacity is going to be needed.

TT Minor actually seems better for Nova for proximity to services at Garfield which they used to have more easily at Mann, and it's a bit closer to Seattle Central where many do Running Start. A walk down hill instead of a bus ride.

open ears
dj said…
Charlie, my oldest attended both T.T. Minor and Lowell, and I do think it would be a lot easier to convert Lowell to a HS space than it would be to convert T.T. Minor.

I am not sure we really need elementary space at T.T. Minor if both Lowell and Stevens are being used as elementary schools. It is pretty hard to justify bringing T.T. Minor back online when Madrona is sitting woefully under capacity a fifteen-minute walk away. Fix Madrona, and you have a lot more ability to move other pieces around in Central.
TechyMom said…
What about converting perpetually underenrolled Madrona K8 to a HS space for Nova?
Louise said…
Or, move NOVA into Rainier Beach and revive the K-12 school concept by moving Beach into Madrona.
Anonymous said…
They are using the word "temporary" to describe the boundary change to JSIS. Once FACMAC comes out with it's 2-5 year proposals, I suppose they will remove the word temporary from their proposals.

They need to allow the siblings moved out this year to attend McDonald, so families can continue with the immersion model, and they can figure out the longer range plan. Sherry Carr has hinted several times that JSIS would need consecutive boundary changes until it eventually becomes an option school.

JSIS Parent
dj said…
TechyMom, taking Madrona offline completely as an elementary would, I think, require opening TT Minor for sure -- you can't send the elementary kids to the full schools to the north and west, and even Leschi and Thurgood Marshall to the south are at or pretty much at capacity. Plus the 6-8 numbers at Madrona are small, but Washington is full.

Louise, why would it make sense to move the Ranier Beach high school students north of Franklin and Garfield? Plus I think pretty much the last thing that would cause Madrona families to enroll their kids at Madrona would be moving RBHS into the building.
Bird said…
Sherry Carr has hinted several times that JSIS would need consecutive boundary changes until it eventually becomes an option school.

Gah! I always imaginied, given the district's history, that the school would go through several years of successive boundary changes before the district would admit they can't make it work (Smaller, smaller, smaller, microscopic, pop! Option school!), I am, however, appalled to hear that Sherry has that as an expectation.

Is there any possible reasonable purpose to not just doing the right thing now, rather than allow chaos to reign for several more years?

Charlie Mas said…
Madrona K-8 is really needed as K-8 capacity. That part of the city needs more, not less.

Rainier Beach is not a good location for an all-city draw school like The NOVA Project. It needs a central location. Given the use of Running Start classes, it should be one close to a community college.

Lowell would be a better choice.

NOVA students can no longer access the resources at Garfield. Garfield is too crowded for Garfield students to access the resources.

Both Lowell and T T Minor are about the same distance from SCCC. Lowell has better transit and is an easier bike ride in both directions.

Again, do we need elementary capacity at Lowell or do we need it at T T Minor? Look at the attendance area map. The Lowell and Stevens areas are both long north/south columns with the schools in the north end. The same space could be divided into two square areas, one in the north for Stevens and one in the south for T T Minor.
BigB said…
(1) this is a transition plan and there is no more surge capacity and

Melissa, can you explain to me how the "transition plan" is different from the permanent plan? Are they open to tweak the boundaries within the 5 year transition period and then, no more tweaking? In reality, they will be changing boundaries until the end of time.

The district really messed up on this one and they should be making drastic changes, such as making JSIS an option school as others have suggested. Last November, in one of those informal transition plan meetings, I sat across the table from Tracy Libros, with a map between us, discussing the impact of the new boundaries and how it will affect families with younger siblings. I asked her point blank, what are you going to do about these families over here (pointing to the region west of Wallingford Ave) with younger siblings when you are forced to shrink the boundaries? She said, "I don't see that happening". End of conversation. Yet, here we are just one year later.

As it turns out, after 6 years at JSIS and 2 years of sweating it out with the NSAP, we were one of the lucky ones that got our younger sibling into JSIS this year. From the results of a JSIS family survey, it looks like there will be at least 20 out-of-area siblings for next year (compared with 10 this year) if the proposed boundaries go through. How many more families will have to go through this as the boundaries shrink & shrink?
dj said…
BigB, the problem is that you have a lot of families in Seattle who want access to language immersion and not nearly enough spaces for families who want them. So parents are going to move to access a desirable program. Absolutely. The solution is to advocate for more language immersion programs (and new ones, preferably, would be option programs) throughout the city so that families who want them can access them.
Well, a transition plan would imply changes as we transition from the old plan to the new one. Anyone who thought it was a done deal from day one of the first year of implementation must have been dreaming.

I would expect, after 5 years, no more tweaking without substantial reason to do so. I would expect they would have walked through every possible scenario.

But the foreign language immersion schools should be option schools. End of story. This is just ridiculous and you have to wonder why they don't bite the bullet, do the work and get it done during the transition period.

The other option is to get more foreign language into elementaries (not a full-flown immersion program but regular classes). I think that would make many parents happier and you could keep the foreign language immersion schools as is.

But no, we'll just have to live with skirting around and around this issue until someone downtown does something.
kellie said…
If you are interested in some straight up organization dynamics theory, here are some general principals that might be helpful for folks grappling with the whole temporary and permanent aspects of the NSAP.

In general it takes about one half of a life cycles for changes to get into the mainstream of a system. SPS is a 13 year operation (K-12). As such it is 6-7 years before things are well set.

IMO, we have a minimum of six years of significant adjustments to the plan. Moreover, most of those adjustments are going to be things that were significantly discussed during the planning stages. There will be a few surprises but really not that many.

What are the issues that we are dealing with post NSAP in these annual transition plans? - Garfleld boundaries, access and overcrowding at language immersion and montessori, split siblings, 10% set aside for high school, north end middle school capacity, high school for QA/Mag and can Ballard actually go to Ballard if QA/Mag go there, etc.

You can easily make a chart of every concern that was voiced about the NSAP and being to slot each of those concerns into a year from year 1 -7 and begin to work out exactly when each of those issues will hit the boiling point and then need to be addressed in the following year's transition plan. (or emergency plan:)

Every one of those issues was talked about significantly during the transition.

The good news is that there are new folks downtown and I sincerely believe they want to begin to get ahead of this. However, they are out of time and money. So each year the problems become more painful to solve.

JSIS is going to need to become an option school sooner or later. It is just too popular to survive any other way.
Jan said…
kellie: here is what I don't get (and maybe it doesn't matter, as it is now in the past, but somehow, it matters to me):

Who (if anyone) knew (or should have known, because someone legitimate told them or that was their area of specialty) that we were in for 6 or 7 years of turmoil? Because as people raised alarms -- all I remember hearing is -- the boundaries are set for at least 5 years, there will not need to be any changes, etc. etc. etc. Has the Board known this all along? Have the staff? Did MGJ? Did Tracy? Because if they DID -- don't we have some serious dishonesty issues?

And if they didn't -- don't we have some serious management/competency issues? Or is this all really the "best case scenario" we could have hoped for -- that people would tell parents one thing -- and then another, totally different thing would overthrow much of the plans?

I am sitting here today remembering that one of the big things that earned MGJ her bonuses and contract extensions -- and for which she was so praised -- was the NSAP. She gets no credit for the idea/big picture plan -- because it preceded her. But supposedly, she at least got credit for the great implementation. But given that they ignored so many issues that have immediately burst into flames (Garfield, Lowell, capacity everywhere except SE Seattle), geozones, sibling splitting, this sure seems to be a snakebit project to me.
kellie said…
@ Jan,

Turmoil is not a word I would choose to describe this dynamic.

I work with systems. I find the half life rule to just be true. Organizations are designed to be sturdy and to not change too quickly.

The NSAP was a fundamental change in how everything operates. Everything. As such, it will require 6-7 years of one year adjustments until it begins to operate like a stable system.

It takes that long, because it takes that long. The answer is both that complex and that simple. It simply takes time to turn a battleship.

Same thing is true with leadership. Board members are not terribly effective until their second term. IMO, a primary reason for much of the district instability is that we haven't been able to keep a superintendent for more than six years.
Sabine Mecking said…
Here is what Portland Public Schools has to say about siblings and boundary changes: "Under PPS policy, if there are changes to boundaries, students can stay at their current schools, and their younger siblings can attend those schools with their older sibling, even if they live in a boundary change area." (see e.g. under

Why can't the Seattle School Board, Tracy Libros, and others admit that a new assignment plan needs some time to shake down (6-7 years as Kellie says) and plan accordingly, e.g. by not splitting up families each time a school boundary needs to change? Why can't SPS put families first just like other school districts do? They could earn themselves a lot of credit if they did.
Anonymous said…
FYI: Seattle Mom @12/13 10:33 PM is not the same Seattle mom signing off when posting under anonymous. I don't want to confuse readers since I don't know anything about Portland SD and siblings plan.

Seattle mom
WallingfordMom said…

Thanks for finding that information. I have been wondering how typical it is for school districts to split siblings when they adjust boundaries.

We have a child entering K next year who will be split from our 1st grader at JSIS. We were in the boundaries 2 years ago when our oldest went to K at JSIS, with every expectation that our youngest could follow. We didn't move to Wallingford to attend the school, we've lived here 10 years and just wanted a neighborhood school for our kids to attend together. This change is very disruptive and upsetting for our family.
Anonymous said…
I have a question that is somewhat related to this topic. Under the old assignment system, there wasn't much incentive to use a false address because you had no guarantee of getting into a school even if you "lived" close. But under the NSAP there is a big incentive to lie about your address. I know at least two families that have done this, so I suspect the problem could be a pretty big one. Is the District doing anything to look for address fraud now that there is an incentive to lie?

StepJ said…
Link to presentation for tonights Capacity Management Work Session.

The presentation includes staff recommendations per school (boundary change, portable addition, etc.)
Jan said…
Wondering --

Gah! Actually, I agree with what seems to be your sentiment on cheating (people shouldn't). But which of our dwindling dollars do we want to divert to pay for "enforcers" (people who drive around, following people home, camping in front of houses to see if the kids really live there, etc -- which was what they did to the Wrotens when Tony was - um - locationally challenged in terms of whether he lived in Renton or the CD)? The general fund dollars that pay for teachers, books, counsellors? The few maintenance dollars we throw at our half billion dollar backlog?

I vote we spend NO money on this (unless it gets totally ridiculous) and spend the time/money on making under-enrolled schools reasonable choices(the thing we were supposed to have done BEFORE NSAP went into effect), making LI and Montessori schools option schools, etc. That is actually money that will both benefit kids AND cure the lying problem.
Anonymous said…
I recently enrolled my daughter for HS for next year and they asked for 2 pieces of mail to confirm address. It had to be a bill or something like that so if someone were to fake their address they would have to have their bills sent to the fake address.

Also, we went to the Nathan Hale Open House for private school kids and they said that the number of kids trying to get into Nathan Hale from outside of their neighborhood is increasing. They didn't see a problem for next year but anticipate that if it continues that there will not be any choice seats left at Hale.

Anonymous said…
Tracy Libros is either a liar or incompetent and should be fired.

Sign me: trusted her before in West Seattle
Anonymous said…
Tracy Libros is either a liar or incompetent and should be fired.

Sign me: trusted her before in West Seattle

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