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Friday, February 08, 2013

Central Region Elementary Schools

I had a question today about the probable fate of the southern end of the Stevens attendance area when the District re-draws the attendance areas in a couple years. It made me realize that there are going to be some changes coming for elementary schools in the Washington Middle School service area when the District re-zones. Let's look into our crystal ball and consider what they might be.

First, the District is re-opening Meany as a middle school. That means that students from Montlake, McGilvra, Lowell, and Stevens will get a default assignment to Meany rather than Washington. Madrona may be in the Meany Attendance Area as well, but 5th graders from Madrona will get default assignment to the sixth grade at Madrona.

One of those schools will have to be the designated Spectrum school for the service area. I would guess Lowell. Why? Because despite any policies or claims to the contrary, the primary determinant in program placement is space available and Lowell has a lot of space available.

Lowell has a capacity of 508 and an enrollment of 182. There are 326 available seats there. Lowell could take a hundred students from Gatzert, a hundred students from Stevens, and still have room for one hundred Spectrum students. I think you can see how silly it is to talk about building a school in South Lake Union when there are over 300 empty elementary seats just six minutes away.

So I think we can expect the Gatzert attendance area to shrink a bit in the north and for the entire southern part of the Stevens attendance area, probably everything south of Madison, to be shifted to Lowell. Lowell's attendance area could grow in the north as well to include more of Eastlake.

Thurgood Marshall is getting over-crowded and it is going to get worse. Thurgood Marshall is following the same path as Lowell, just a couple years behind. All of the schools around it - Gatzert, Leschi, and John Muir - are already overcrowded, too. Knowing the District, their solution is likely to be another split in elementary APP by creating a site in West Seattle. I'm not saying that's the best solution or even a good solution, but that's the one I think they will go with. Look for one of the newly opened schools in West Seattle - Fairmount Park, Schmitz Park, or Genessee Hill - to be designated as an APP site.

Conjecture is easy. Facts are hard. Seriously. It's hard to get any facts. Here is what I could find to use as building capacity numbers and enrollment numbers. Here's a table:

SCHOOL CAPACITY CAPACITY W/PORT ENROLLMENT SURPLUS
Montlake 154 253 232 21
McGilvra 230 279 297 -18
Lowell 508 508 182 326
Madrona K-5 304 304 186 118
Stevens 380 380 379 1
Gatzert 376 376 383 -7
Leschi 379 379 361 18
Thurgood Marshall 383 383 450 -67
John Muir 429 429 461 -32

We need to remember, of course, that these capacity numbers are pretty fluid. So, as hard facts go, these are pretty soft.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to capacity numbers. Love that our school is already over the district's "highest projection" that isn't supposed to happen until 2014-2015. ARGH!

NW family

Po3 said...

Remind me again, why was Meany closed?

kellie said...

Prior to the NSAP implementation, the district released maps that were very helpful for these conversations. These maps showed the location of each school (by grade band - elementary, middle, high school) and drew boundaries as the crow flies between each school. This clearly showed the school physically closest to each address.

The map also included the number of SPS students at the grade band that lived within those boundaries. That very visual representation made it very very clear which schools had a huge mismatch between number of residents that lived close and the number of students the school could serve.

joanna said...

Yes, if anyone cares looking at the maps of where students actually live and the facilities that are available should be helpful, but is not often discussed in several areas including here. One should wonder how many can walk to Lowell that can't walk to Stevens. Do we want walkable neighborhood schools that reduce the number of buses? Why is Madrona not considered as a location for a Spectrum program. There will be much food for thought here.

joanna said...

Yes, if anyone cares, looking at the maps of where students actually live and the facilities that are available should be helpful but is not often discussed in several areas, including here. One should wonder how many can walk to Lowell that can't walk to Stevens. Do we want walkable neighborhood schools that reduce the number of buses? Why is Madrona not considered as a location for a Spectrum program. There will be much food for thought here.

joanna said...

Some of you were on the School Closure Committee and probably know the answer to these questions. Remember TT Minor is also available again, maybe for the World School. I would like to know how the rationale worked to recommend all the plans that did not seem to reflect where students lived. Perhaps there is an explanation. I don't think it has ever been made clear. I have forgotten who from the central region was on that committee. Maybe I never knew. Also remember the central region includes QA. I suppose the two regions in the Central Region should work together better.

Anonymous said...

Joanna-

The school closures done four years ago were not evidence-based. They were done entirely to look good on paper.

My kids were at Lowell at the time, so we were greatly affected and I went to a lot of meetings. Parent after parent showed the district maps of apartments being built, census data and stories of crowded daycare/pre-school centers all over Capitol Hill. Did any of it matter? No.

I believe that those in power at the time knew that they were doing something terrible. I also believe they knew they would be a long way away when it all hit the fan.

-tired

dan dempsey said...

Tired wrote:

"I believe that those in power at the time knew that they were doing something terrible. I also believe they knew they would be a long way away when it all hit the fan."

Not all of those in power at the time are gone ... and some school board members that voted for this are still on the board.

dj said...

Keep in mind that those numbers do not entirely reflect where kids live. There are a ton of kids in Madrona who are attending both public and private schools that are just not Madrona. I also do not think that there are enough West Seattle kids at Thurgood Marshall to sustain a whole elementary school in West Seattle, and I'm under the impression that the schools in West Seattle are in sufficient flux/overcrowded that sending APP over there wouldn't exactly help.

Anonymous said...

"Not all of those in power at the time are gone ... and some school board members that voted for this are still on the board."

I know very well the three school board members who are still serving. I, unfortunately, had to vote to re-elect one of them last time because no one was running against them.

I was really referring to the SPS employees (MGJ, etc) who did these closures to improve their stats for their resume and not for the good of the children left in the mess.

That the school board members who voted for this mess are still serving is one of many reasons I don't think the district is being run as well as it could be. I will vote for the levy, but I wish those school board members were gone. I don't trust them to make the best decisions because their past votes have helped to make our current mess far worse.

-tired

Melissa Westbrook said...

The only director currently on the Board who ran unopposed was DeBell. Everyone else had challengers.

joanna said...

When I say where kids live in terms of these stats, I mean those already in public school. Those alone are very interesting and would provide a clue to where the students actually live and where they are attending school. And, yes it would be interesting to see the percentage of the children living in the Washington MS or Garfield area broken down by grade level who are attending private school. How does that number compare with other areas of the District. In order to make changes in that arena, the community has pay attention to our schools and see to it that they are serving students well with some stability in assignments.

Anonymous said...

Why would the families south of Madison be relocated to Lowell? This community has already had 4 different reference schools in the last 9 years. Why not the northern boundary or the western boundary of Stevens? I am tired of the south of Madison area being bounced around like a hot potato. I've had enough. It is somebody else's turn.

-South of Madison

Anonymous said...
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joanna said...

I agree, why would south of Madison be up for being relocated to Lowell? This is only disruption. If that happened who would be assigned to Stevens? Or wait, are all the students south of Madison to be assigned to a school that is not even located in their assignment area? Please stop and think about this idea. Really, who can walk to Lowell? What is the walk area? Where is the savings in transportation? Where is the idea of neighborhood accessibility? My understanding is that there really is not a capacity problem at Stevens and that the PTSA has communicated this to the District. Some outside of the area may apply, but within the current boundaries is there a problem? Why is Lowell an important facility as a neighborhood school? Tell me how many students total live in regular walk and reasonable "neighborhood" boundaries for Lowell and Stevens. Look at where the students live. If the District is going to continue to bus the students, leave the Stevens boundary as is. There is nothing to be gained there. In the meantime consider strategies that will strengthen Madrona. The logic behind attempting to make Lowell an assignment area school still escapes me. If more students begin living in that area or if Stevens were to disappear as a neighborhood assignment school, then there may be some logic there. I hope no one takes my the one odd suggestion (taking Stevens out as a neighborhood assignment)seriously.

Anonymous said...

Melissa -- your numbers for Thurgood Marshall's capacity are off by about 60.. TM has 2 portables (installed last summer) with about 60 kids in them not recognized in your numbers, bumping up capacity not reflected on your chart.
-- central elementary parent

joanna said...

I just wanted to add to this discussion regarding School Board elections. Remember we the voters really only have power over the choice or if there is a choice within our individual districts. We have no power to determine the candidates or if there are challengers in other districts. In the general we then vote on whatever choice has been predetermined for us.