Growth Boundaries Plan

First, the headlines:

The big winner is K-5 at Boren, soon to be K-8 STEM at Boren.

The big loser is Pinehurst K-8, soon to be closed and clearly treated with bad faith.

APP breaks even, getting everything expected, most of it where expected, some of it in difficult spaces but with an extraordinary accommodation that should prove very beneficial in the long term.

There isn't likely to be much fighting over the boundaries, the fight will be over the transition plan that dictates who goes into interim sites, when, and for how long.

With regard to STEM, the District staff showed itself to be surprisingly reasonable and open to discussion. With regard to Pinehurst, the District staff showed itself to be dishonest and downright mean.
With regard to the APP sites, the District staff showed itself to be surprisingly thoughtful.
With regard to the transition plan the District staff showed itself to be timid, but politically savvy.
The Board, at every step, showed itself to be un-focused and a bit clueless.

Here's the presentation.

Some details and thoughts after the jump.

STEM at Boren

The K-5 STEM at Boren community didn't like the original plan for their school to re-locate to the Schmitz Park building. That building is too small for them now, doesn't allow for growth, and is too far north. They made an excellent case for remaining at Boren and expanding into a K-8. That would allow them room for growth, pull students out of Denny, and provide equity of access to alternative programs for students in the south end of West Seattle. District officials heard the argument, saw the sense of it, and agreed. This is an incredibly positive sign. This is evidence of a District process that actually did listen to the community and actually did change their plan when a good case was made.

Pinehurst K-8 (AS#1)

Pinehurst K-8 loses everything. They lose their building, their program, and their dignity. After delivering a beat-down on Pinehurst at the Board presentation, I think Ron English is going to visit each member of the community at their homes to abuse them individually. The presentation included a series of slides that began with the lie that no decision has been made yet, although Mr. English said that the decision will be announced today. We're supposed to believe that the night before the announcement the decision still had not been made. Really? The slides then listed a number of ideas for where Pinehurst could go and a bumper-sticker rationale for why that solution won't work. It reminded me of the GEICO commercial featuring Dikembe Mutombo blocking shots. There was a grim sort of joy expressed in rejecting every one in a long series of ideas for saving Pinehurst. The District showed itself to be completely closed to any reasonable discussion of the fate of Pinehurst, but they are cruelly pretending to be open to talk. This is exactly the sort of bad faith that damages the District's credibility and public trust. Just be honest with people about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Let's not kid ourselves, though. Pinehurst isn't working. People aren't choosing it. Other alternative schools are having no trouble attracting students, but Pinehurst's enrollment has not grown. Thornton Creek is bursting at the seams. Salmon Bay is fully enrolled. Jane Addams K-8, a school with no more assurance of continuation than Pinehurst, has grown dramatically. Pinehurst, on the other hand, is a K-8 with an enrollment of 150. But the staff didn't confront these facts directly. They didn't come right out and say "There isn't sufficient public demand for Pinehurst to justify continuing the program." Instead, they acted like they would like to keep the program, but - oh dear! - they can't find a building for it. That's just false. It's as false as their claim that they haven't decided yet.


The APP recommendations fell out as expected in general terms: two north-end 1-8 pathways (Wilson-Pacific and Olympic Hills-Jane Addams), one south-end 1-8 pathway (Thurgood Marshall-Washington), and an alternative 1-8 pathway for West Seattle (Fairmount Park-Madison). This is exactly what we have been told to expect since presentations in April, May, and, especially, June. The predictable details - that Wilson-Pacific would be one of the north-end pathways and that Thurgood Marshall-Washington would be the south-end pathway - rolled out as expected. Even the choice of Jane Addams Middle School as the top half of the other norh-end pathway went as expected. The surprises were the other choices. In hindsight, though, they aren't really all that surprising when you realize the real key to APP placement - move no neighborhood student. APP is already in Thurgood Marshall and Washington, so those placements don't push anyone out. Wilson, Pacific, Fairmount Park, and Jane Addams don't have any students yet, so no one is pushed out of those schools. Olympic Hills is getting a big addition that will double the capacity of the school and APP students will go into the new seats there. Madison is under-enrolled and has space for the APP students who might choose it, and the students who might choose it probably all live in West Seattle anyway.

There was a pitch to make K-8 STEM at Boren the APP pathway, but it was rejected. The Fairmount Park-Madison pathway is no different from the other pathways - APP co-housed with an attendance area program. And, frankly, there's enough demand for STEM to fill the building without APP.

The Board noticed that some of the middle schools have five or six feeder schools while others have only two or three. You may have noticed that as well. The reason is APP. Because the District needs to allow for the possibility of as many as 500 APP students at Washington, the school can only draw from three elementaries: Thurgood Marshall, Leschi, and Muir. To allow for a large APP cohort at Pacific, that middle school only draws from Wilson and Northgate. Broadview-Thomson is also in the service area, but B-T is a K-8 and I don't know how many students will leave it for Pacific. Jane Addams, likewise, has only four feeder elementaries to allow space for the APP cohort in the building.

Oddly, the Board seemed surprised and upset by the split of the north-end APP cohort. You'd like they had never heard about this idea before. They heard about this in June and didn't blink. Have APP families been contacting them and saying that they want to keep the cohort together? This Board reaction was unexpected. But the Board didn't react to the elements of the plan that they should have found objectionable.

The Board is supposed to focus on policy and governance and is supposed to stay out of management and administration. The decision to split the APP cohort in the north is an administrative decision and the Board should stay out of it. The placement of those programs, however, needs to conform to policy. The policy that governs program placement is Policy 2200, Equitable Access to Programs and Services. That policy sets the priorities for program placement. Among them is this one:
3. Place programs or services where students reside;
Take a look at the heat map for where APP students live on slide #44 of this presentation to the Board in April. The APP students don't live anywhere near Olympic Hills, which is at the northern city limit. The northeast elementary program should be much, much further south, closer to the hottest part of the heat map in the Sand Point attendance area. The political reality of not displacing neighborhood students with APP - which is NOT a criteria for program placement - has trumped proximity for students, which IS a board-directed priority. A compromise is available. The northeast APP location can be changed to Decatur. That building will hold 300+ students and is about halfway between the north and south edges of the draw zone. The Decatur building will be vacant when Thornton Creek moves into their new building, and it is already a K-5, so it will be available for immediate occupancy.

Strictly speaking, Jane Addams is also too far north, but there is no way to trim Eckstein's attendance area down to only two or three feeder elementary schools. That's a practicality that cannot be overcome.

Dr. Libros did note that in the south-end the middle school location closest to where the students live would have been Meany, rather than Washington, but, she noted, that would have create a dramatic demographic imbalance between the schools. This is absolutely true. If Meany were the APP site, then it could only have two or three feeder elementaries, and they would have to be Montlake, McGilvra, and Stevens. That would have concentrated a lot of affluent and White students in Meany while concentrating a lot of minority students from low-income homes in Washington. Under the proposal, Washington will be about one-third APP and two-thirds neighborhood students. This District projections assumes 130 APP students stay in West Seattle taking the alternative route to Madison. While I see the sense of this choice and I absolutely support it, it puts demographic balance - not a policy 2200 priority - over proximity - which is a policy 2200 priority.

The Board asked whether there was a decision made to co-house APP with attendance area schools rather than to co-house it with an option school or to create a stand-alone APP site. Mr. Tolley said that it was, in fact, a decision, but he didn't offer any rationale for that decision. When asked by the Board for a rationale for the decision he answered that the decision had been made earlier in the year (he didn't offer the name of the person who made the decision or their rationale).

The Transition Plan

I don't expect a lot of fighting over the boundary changes - the changes are small and necessary. I don't even expect much fighting over the school and program changes (STEM, APP, Pinehurst). The fighting will be over the transition plan. Decisions need to be made about when the new schools will start and where they will start. Who will go into John Marshall and when will they go? Will Meany start at Van Asselt a year early or will it wait until Meany is ready? When will the West Seattle APP alternative start? The Staff gave the Board some choices - option 1 and option 2.

The Board should check itself. This is a perfect time for the Board to say "Our focus is policy and governance, not administration and management. The choices for the implementation of the transition plan are clearly administrative decisions, not policy decisions. Therefore we will not interfere with this decision, but delegate it to the superintendent and his staff." The Board should stay out of this fight entirely.


I was surprised to see that the Decatur building will be left vacant. Thornton Creek will get a new building and will move into it, but the old building, the Decatur building, will remain standing vacant.

Downtown School

The attendance are for Lowell has been expanded to include all of downtown. This area used to be in the Hay attendance area. Hay is full and Lowell has over 300 open seats. I had hoped that this would end the foolish talk about a downtown school. Oddly, Director DeBell claimed that it did not and that he still held out hope for the creation of a school downtown that would be "walkable" for downtown families. This was a silly thing to say. The streets downtown and the walk zone rules would preclude any walkable school downtown. Elementary students are not expected to cross arterials to walk to school and downtown is criss-crossed with arterials, so no school location downtown could be "walkable" for downtown resident students. Lowell is their best choice and now, reasonably, it is their attendance area school.

Dr. Libros

I want to end with a shout-out to Dr. Tracy Libros. She is the person in the District who did the bulk of this work. She is also the person in the District who made the most reasonable decisions - to restrict the attendance areas of APP middle schools, to leave STEM at Boren, to keep APP at Washington. It is Dr. Libros who took in the input from the community and found a way to make it happen. Dr. Libros has always been candid, open, accessible, and reasonable. This growth boundary work contains hundreds of decisions, all of them inter-related. It was a huge effort and it appears to have been done very well.


Charlie Mas said…
Ah! I need to add this link to a District page on Growth Boundaries. It includes the email address for comments and a link to a FAQ page.
Anonymous said…
I agree that Dr. Libros did a lot of thoughtful work, but the two areas where I think the north end plan goes very astray are two areas where I sense she was pushed by other people into doing something that she knows is directly against good capacity management.

(1) There is flat out no way that a cohort of APP students and the neighborhood students can share the Olympic Hills building. The "empty seats" you mention as accommodating those students do not actually exist in demographic terms, only in the "they're new seats" shininess. Right now there are so many kids squeezed so tightly in the far north of the city - ie, the few kids at Pinehurst (150! way less than an APP split) can't even fit at Broadview Thompson, a big k-8! An APP cohort of 2 classes per grade level cannot fit into the new Oly Hills building alongside the neighborhood kids, if you look at the actual demographics of the neighborhood. It's growing. Lots of new housing units in Lake City. Have you spent much time around the Bitter Lake Community Center and seen the growth up there? Across 99 from it? The new seats are needed for the kids who are already there, their younger siblings, etc. Those "new" seats at Oly Hills are full. Busing kids from other parts of the north in is crazy. The APP students will be crowded out by the neighborhood within a couple years of opening, so it will be yet another fiasco.

This data is a known - that's why the district is reopening Cedar Park, why they want Jane Addams K-8 to keep drawing some of the K-5 away from the north elementaries - because they're full up there too. And remember, the district has to expect that kids who leave SPS for Shoreline could come back! They have to plan for the kids who live in that area, which makes Oly Hills full, not for just the kids who attend current Oly Hills - that's a disaster just like Lowell on Cap Hill capacity was. So, there is no capacity rationale that supports Oly Hills APP pathway -- the only reason this decision is made is political, not at all based in the demographic data of the area. It's a bad decision for the Oly Hills people, b/c they get outsiders stuffed in their school, and it's unfair to APP b/c they'll get shoved along again in a few years.

Must get moving - more later.

SIGNED, More Later
Anonymous said…
Stevens Elementary boundary change should help alleviate over-crowding though with the price of housing and lack of affordable and suitable units for renting it will also increase the economic segregation of the school.

Ann D
Lori said…
Thanks for the summary, Charlie. Can you clarify what is on the slides for northend MS transition? Option 2 for the JAMS and WP schools in particular is confusing.

I am being told that Option 2 means that all of the Lincoln 5th graders, even those slated for WP, will go to Jane Addams for 2-3 years. I can't believe that they are considering busing kids from Queen Anne, Ballard, etc all the way to Jane Addams. But if not that, then where exactly are the WP-APP kids going in the interim?

ws said…

I’d like to believe you that the boundaries won’t be fought over, but looking at Schmitz parks boundary changes and I can’t believe what they are proposing. Looks like the boundaries are getting much larger and the school is already at 600 this year. 600 students and that with smaller upper grades. What’s going to happen when they age out? The new building will have portables before construction is finished.
Lori said…
"The Board asked whether there was a decision made to co-house APP with attendance area schools rather than to co-house it with an option school or to create a stand-alone APP site. Mr. Tolley said that it was, in fact, a decision, but he didn't offer any rationale for that decision.

That questions is "answered" in the FAQs. I put "answered' in quotes because the answer is a complete misrepresentation of the literature regarding best practices for the academic, social, and emotional needs of highly capable kids. Even the 2004 study cited in that answer does *not* support their claims. I wrote a longer post about that study on the APP blog last night.

I suspect they also used the controversial document the APP-AC put out in April 2012 about the glories of co-housing to support this decision.
Charlie Mas said…
The APP-AC opposed co-housing with attendance area schools. They concluded that it inevitably leads to a capacity fight and the dislocation of APP.

The APP-AC supported only co-housing with an option school.
NW parent said…
I'm a little confused by the major redrawing of the Hamilton boundaries. Isn't Hamilton considered overcrowded at present? Even with the addition of options schools to possibly alleviate some of that, isn't adding 3 schools (Bagley, Green Lake and Greenwood)going to swamp the possible offset?
Anonymous said…
They are taking out APP, though, and Laurelhurst is removed going forward, as well.

Anonymous said…
NW Parent:

With the boundaries as proposed, Green Lake Elementary would add little enrollment to Hamilton, as most of the proposed attendance area for Green Lake already feeds to Hamilton.

As far as the addition of Bagley and Greenwood, I believe they're offsetting that by moving APP to Wilson-Pacific.

-- D's mom
WS parent said…
I am confused about the Fairmount Park boundary - it is teeny tiny. If you look at the map it looks like Gatewood is about 3x the size of FP and Schmitz Park is almost 4x the size.

Parent-to-be said…
Seems kind of strange to ask people living across the street from North Beach to go to Loyal Heights. If the boundary for Greenwood above 85th were moved two blocks west, to 8th, then you could get enough capacity free at North Beach to include the immediate neighbors, while allowing the folks in Greenwood to send their kids to the nearest school. Win-win.
Anonymous said…
I totally agree that importing kids from Eckstein and Hamilton service areas to an APP program at Olympic Hills is a mistake. There is way too much development going on in the Lake City area for that situation to last very long.

Also, if I'm reading this correctly, the only Spectrum school in the JAMS service area will be at the JA (E-STEM) K-8 @ Pinehurst. The K-8 has it's own internal middle school pathway, so I would assume most of those kids would continue on within the K-8.

JAMS will have a Spectrum program, but will have no Spectrum program in any of the attendance-area schools in its feeder pattern? That doesn't seem right.

SPS should put Spectrum, not APP, at Olympic Hills. This program could serve the families who want Spectrum, but don't necessarily want to go the K-8 route. Also, as a Spectrum program does not have aguaranteed assignment, enrollment at Olympic Hills could be managed much better with than if it housed APP.

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
JSIS and McDonald as option schools? Downtown finally had the spine to do the right thing. #decadeandcounting

NW parent said…
Hmmm, that was not clear to be from the 30 pages of presentation materials about APP. Is it 100% being moved from Hamilton to Wilson Pacific?

Thanks for the replies.
Anonymous said…
My interpretation of the John Marshall interim site plan is that next year it will serve 2-3 groups:
- general 6th graders rolling up the new neighborhood Wilson-Pacific middle school;
- NW pathway APP 6th graders (also W-P); and
- POSSIBLY the NE pathway APP 6th graders (JAMS), depending on which option they go with.

I interpreted the materials to mean that NW pathway APP 6th graders will go to John Marshall. Does that seem accurate?

I'll be curious as to what they'll call the interim school, and whether it will be different for different kids? "Wilson-Pacific at JM" for some, "JAMS at JM" for others? As an APP student you could be classmates with kids from another "school." :)

Anonymous said…
Can someone please define "quad modular core space?"

It seems as though my 4th grader (and his peers) at John Rogers will be the lucky kids assigned to the Jane Addams building with either:

Option 1: 15-16 portables + quad modular core space.


Option 2: 22-23 portables + quad modular core space

Does "quad modular core space" come with bathrooms?

How are they going to schedule lunches for that many middle school AND elementary kids at one site, with one lunchroom and kitchen?

How many portables are currently in use at Eckstein? 12 or 13? And that over-crowding is considered scary and unsafe?

I know things are tight in the NE, but these are the only options on the table??? I don't think I can put my child into such a ridiculous situation, especially for his transition to 6th grade. If either of these are passed, we are done with SPS.

Anonymous said…
The Greenlake boundaries were changed and significant swaths were drawn into Bryant and Sacajawea boundaries. Making JSIS and McDonald option schools had quite a ripple effect.

FRL for some NE elementaries-

Olympic Hills: 73.5%
John Rogers: 37.9%
Sacajawea: 24.4%
View Ridge: 6.8%
Wedgwood: 9.1%

It is kind of obvious why they chose Olympic Hills for elementary APP, and JAMS (Olympic Hills and John Rogers) for middle school APP. It's not too different from the Lowell/TT Minor/Thurgood Marshall split and reassignment. Hamilton was around 55% FRL prior to APP being placed there. It was 13.3% FRL as of 2012-13.

same old
Anonymous said…
Where are the proposed geozones for MacDonald and John Stanford? I cannot find them. If they are not yet posted, do we know when this will be available? I cannot find any information.

Will we continue to a middle school based on our enrollment at one of those schools, or by address? By address or language immersion school will net different middle school results for us.

SPS Parent
Anonymous said…
Trying to piece it together for my own understanding I see three options being presented for APP middle school kids in the north.

1. All North transitioning (entering 6th grade or newly eligible)APP at John Marshall for two years. Then split into North at Wilson Pacific and NE at Jane Addams. Those currently at Hamilton will be grandfathered.

2. The same as #1, only at the Jane Addams building vs. John Marshall building.

3. Move all of North APP MS to John Marshall starting next year for two years. Split into North and Northeast in the 2016-2017 school year. No grandfathering at Hamilton.

Anonymous said…
@same old
You forgot to add Olympic View, FRL of 30%, to the schools feeding into JAMS, but I get your point.

-North-end Mom
Chris said…
Seriously!? We are are just a few blocks away from 145th in Lake City. My daughter (now at Hale) was bussed to Hamilton. Then they changed the boundaries, and my son is at Eckstein in 7th grade. According to this NEW plan, he would go to Jane Addams. It says part of this plan would be implemented next year - will they allow students to finish at the school they're at?
Anonymous said…
I think both options presented for JAMS next year are roll-ups, so only 6th graders, and probably 7th and 8th graders who are new to SPS, will be assigned to JAMS next year.

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
disgusted @JR

If they do portables like eckstein then there will be no bathrooms, lunch room, gym, library, or any other common space added with the portables. Just add 430 extra kids to the space that's there. That is a lunch duty no one volunteers for.

Oh, and they won't be temporary either.

Sorry for you.

Anonymous said…
Wow! Looking at the new boundaries, Cedar Park is going to have an extremely high percentage of FRL students, since the proposed Cedar Park attendance area includes a number of low-income housing projects on both sides of Lake City Way.

Plus, these kids will be assigned to a school with over 40% portables from day one.

Not cool.

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
I know it's not funny, but I can't help remembering all the push behind the new assignment plan was to 'give people what they want, predictability around their school assignment.' That was the one priority cited trumping diversity, auditions for special programs like jazz bands, lotteries for CTE programs, walk ability, alternative school transportation, neighborhood investments in sites...

Well, this is no more predictable than the old assignment plan, probably less.


NW mom said…
I hope they eventually change the name of either Jane Addams K-8 or Jane Addams MS. It's totally confusing.
Josh Hayes said…
I think that the fact that Pinehurst has ANY students in the face of well over a decade of the district saying the school was going to be closed Real Soon Now is a minor miracle. Is that 150-student bump in enrollment at the already bursting north end schools taken into account, or does the district assume all those kids are just going to vanish?

I also wonder if anyone at the district has the courage, when they contrast Pinehurst with the "successful" option schools in the north end, to address the obvious ethnic and SES factors, and the hardly-alternative schools that go under the aegis of "options". (Not looking at you, Thornton Creek: you guys walk the talk.)

Honestly, if I were a Seattle parent looking to put my kid in kindergarten, or indeed any grade from K-8, I would run, not walk, out of this district. It makes me deeply sad to think that kids in this district will no longer be able to get the terrific education my kids both got in their nine years each at AS1/Pinehurst. It's the district's loss, but management will be celebrating, I have no doubt.
Anonymous said…
Why not keep north APP at Hamilton, and have Greenwood and Bagley feed into Wilson Pacific instead of Hamilton?

Doesn't that make more geographic sense *and* bring less disruption? With half of APP at JAMS, there should be enough space at Hamilton.

Anonymous said…
Charlie, I do not know exactly where the NE elementaries are located so pls excuse possibly ignorant question. If the Decatur building is to be empty, why can't Pinehurst move there? My kids were models at EEU, and several of their friends went onto AS1, which was a great school for special ed and ELL students. Those populations are shuttled around so much, it is unconscionable to keep moving them around.

Anonymous said…
@ StepJ, I'm curious to know where you got that third option you mentioned: "Move all of North APP MS to John Marshall starting next year for two years. Split into North and Northeast in the 2016-2017 school year. No grandfathering at Hamilton." I didn't get that sense that any of the options involved relocating current HIMS APP kids, but want to know if I missed something...

Anonymous said…
I'd rather not split app middle school at all- maybe all to W-P, and allow for more balance between the two NE middle schools, and then Hamilton can still take on some of the NW burden. The APP middle school cohorts will be too small otherwise.

Anonymous said…
shuffled around

Anonymous said…
Re: why not to keep half of north APP at Hamilton, my guess is that such a split won't reduce numbers quickly enough. Given how overcrowded it is now, and with continued increases projected, splitting off half the APP sixth graders next year just doesn't do the trick. Getting rid of all the APP 6th graders, however, might. In a few years, however, when all the APP kids are gone, it will be interesting to see how the numbers look then. May be lower than anticipated.

Anonymous said…
HIMSmom: you may be right, but I'm curious as to the numbers. Looks like they are adding 3 new feeder schools to HIMS as well. WPMS would be the closer school for at least two (Greenwood, Bagley) and about the same for the third (Greenlake). Is +3 feeder schools -1/2 APP really a capacity reduction?

NW mom said…
They're also taking Laurelhurst out of Hamilton.
search4chin said…
How can you say that Jane Addams K-8 doesn't have assurance of continuation?

The whole point of displacing Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) is to construct a building for Jane Addams K-8. They have every assurance that they will continue.

The district is keeping their fingers crossed that all of the 150 Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) kids and families will give in and enroll them with Jane Addams K-8 because that's what's moving to the Pinehurst location anyway.

They keep avoiding the question regarding their promise to the Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) community that they'd work with the community to market the school and leave the school alone to get the enrollment numbers up. They will continue to avoid that question and continue to damage the districts credibility and public trust unless we keep calling them on it.

I don't have a solution for the district as a whole other than to thin the top and try and stop the constant turn over of personnel. Noone remembers this agreement from the 2010/2011 Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) closure threat.

My most recent issue with this years closure threat is their use of erroneous information and avoidance of answering any relevant questions. I've sent several emails this week, last week, last month, the month before that and so on trying to get any update on this current closure threat. Mr. Redman, the 'communications rep.' isn't even giving me a auto reply anymore. I agree the decision has been made and I'm not holding my breath for a reprieve at this point.

Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) parent
Anonymous said…
HIMSmom -

I'm getting that from page 39 of the presentation, Option 1. "...transition all north end middle APP from Hamilton to Marshall starting 2014-15..."

But that is my take after reading. I could be interpreting different than intended.

Anonymous said…
FYI - Moving Green Lake to Hamilton will not have a big impact. Although you can't tell from the maps, at least half of Green Lake's kids go on to Hamilton already. The kids in the upper grades (and those who graduated in the past) all came in before McDonald opened. So, a large portion live in that area and are assigned to Hamilton by address. Also, Green Lake is a small school. I would guess -- thinking about this year's 5th graders -- that moving all of Green Lake to Hamilton is maybe an increase of 25 kids who would have gone to Eckstein under the current system.

Also, under the proposed plan McDonald and John Stanford will be option schools and Green Lake will be the assignment school for that whole Wallingford area. So, it wouldn't make any sense to have it feed into Wilson Pacific.

Green Lake Parent
Lori said…
Can anyone clarify what the plan is for Thornton Creek?

The new building will hold 600+ elementary students. Does that mean the option program moves into that new building along with a small, attendance area school, OR, is the option program expected to nearly double in size? Sorry if I missed this discussion somewhere.

Charlie's comment that the option program will vacate its current building, which will then sit empty caught me off guard, I guess.
Anonymous said…
The stats for cost at Pinehurst have a bit of a funny smell. They are underenrolled (thanks, district!) so might the facilities overhead weigh in more heavily on each student? Is this accounted for? Staff FTE for less-than-maximum class size? Also always must adjust for special ed enrollment.

In the bad-ol days they always tried to rationalize closing AS1 because of their "failing" test scores (they refused testing at a higher rate than the rest of us). Then they caved, took the tests, got good scores, got an award and Viola! they are not failing but they are "expensive."

Chris S.
Charlie Mas said…
@Lori, the current plan for Thornton Creek is to build a new school building on the property and move Thornton Creek School into that building, leaving the Decatur building vacant. I, too, was surprised by this plan. I don't know how this will impact the size of the school.

The original plan was to leave Thornton Creek in the Decatur building and put a new school in the new building on the property. I had been led to believe that the District needed all of that additional capacity. I guess they no longer think that they will.

@Chris S., the costs for Pinehurst are directly due to the low enrollment. I'm sure that we would see similar costs for other under-enrolled schools like Lowell and Rainier Beach High School. The comparison to other K-8s in the presentation was chosen to make the school appear an unaffordable luxury.

@CCA, the District could move Pinehurst to the Decatur building. It would require some capital expense since the Decatur building is a K-5 building and Pinehurst is a K-8. They would have to change some bathrooms and add some science labs, but it could be done. The District is saying that they can't do it because they want to raze the Pinehurst building a year before the Decatur building becomes empty and they don't have an interim site for that year. Seriously, they are proposing a permanent solution for a temporary problem.

In truth, the District is closing the program because they don't see enough demand for it.

I should note that the Decatur building is not in great shape. That has never been an impediment for APP families before. They happily took Madrona (pre-renovation) and Lowell and have flocked to Lincoln.
search4chin said…
I've asked the district and board in direct words if the promise to the Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) community from the 2010/2011 closure threat agreement to market the school, support the school and leave the school off any closure lists could be why the numbers aren't matching.

Is that why they may have beefed up the staff in preparation to market the school and also beef up the enrollment numbers? No answer.

The enrollment numbers at Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) are a direct result of the districts lack of support and the enrollment offices role in misinforming families who are looking for an option school.

search4chin said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
@Charlie wrote: Madison is under-enrolled and has space for the APP students who might choose it, and the students who might choose it probably all live in West Seattle anyway.

From what I'm hearing, Charlie, Madison is already full, or dang near it. And if you look at the enrollment of it's feeder schools, it makes sense that if it isn't today, it will be very soon, before Fairmont Park comes online. I'm hearing Schmitz Park, Lafayette and Alki are all up in numbers again this year over last. If that holds true, Madison is already facing a Hamilton & Washington scenario before this thing gets out of the blocks.

Does anyone have Madison's capacity #'s handy, btw? Thanks.

search4chin said…
I've also asked them why they continue to support Madrona K-8 even though their enrollment numbers are declining faster than Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) numbers.

I looked at Madrona K-8's website and read they wear uniforms and push discipline like some military academy. Why do we even have a school like that in the district? Who's rich kid goes there anyway?

Anonymous said…
According to the 2008 Capacity Mgmt #'s, Madison can handle about 888 students, and last year they were at 834, before the rising tides from overcrowded Schmitz and Lafayette come rolling in.

I don't see the room at Madison for 100+ APP kids in the future.

Anonymous said…
@ StepJ, I think "transition" is a key word in that plan. I read that mean a roll up, rather than a wholesale relocation.

Anonymous said…
Charlie, out of curiosity, what is the "extraordinary accommodation" you mentioned that APP is getting? Just the fact that they are creating space to fit the demand? Or did I miss something?

Anonymous said…

Last year's Madison enrollment was 752. The Intermediate Term Capacity Planning Schedule from June 2011 says capacity is 993.

Maje said…
@NW mom -
The Jane Addams part of the name comes with the building. Once the K-8 leaves, they'll get a new name with the new building.

In the mean time, looks like there will be a Jane Addams K-8 and JAMS.
mirmac1 said…

The enrollment at Madison is 754 according to administration. There are a number of flex spaces and open areas that could easily be converted into classrooms.
Charlie Mas said…
@HIMSmom, The extraordinary accommodation that the District affords APP in this plan is reduced competition for space in schools, particularly middle schools.

Look at the designated APP middle school sites - Pacific, Washington, and Jane Addams, and you'll see that they have a reduced number of feeder schools. This is to allow space in the buildings for the APP cohort. You might be tempted to dismiss this as just good planning, or even discount it further and consider it just competent planning of the most ordinary nature, but I remind you that it is a standard of planning they did not set in their previous models.

Hamilton continued to appear on District planning documents as having hundreds of open seats - even when the school is stuffed to the gills - because they neglected to count the APP students in their planning model. This time they not only counted the APP students in the building, but they counted them first and then only added as many neighborhood students as the remaining space would allow.

They also took care that there were enough general education students to form viable classes and not to allow the concentration of special needs students to exceed a workable level.
Anonymous said…
You can change a school name while leaving the building the same, and the k-8 really should. Thornton Creek got a new name (still housed in the Decatur building) about 5 years ago. Have a contest! And add some much needed clarity to this mess.

Charlie Mas said…
Here are a couple of interesting additional points about the APP designated middle schools.

Because the plan anticipates needing a seat for every qualified APP student at those schools, and because not every qualified APP student participates, there will be space available at those schools for out-of-area students. This will be particularly true at Washington where there will be space for about 500 APP students even though they expect about 130 of them to choose Madison instead.

That means that the siblings of APP students will have a real chance to get assigned to same school as their APP-qualified brother or sister. That's nice. And they can ride the APP bus on a space available basis.

It also means that the schools should be somewhat available for other out-of-area students.

It is critically important that the West Seattle APP alternative be attractive and draw students out of Washington. If they don't, then Washington could be about half APP instead of one third APP. It would mean a real difference in the school's culture.
Charlie Mas said…
More discussion of these issues at the Operations Committee meeting tomorrow.

Here's the agenda.
Charlie Mas said…
Operations Committee tomorrow will discuss:

Jane Addams at Pinehurst Ed Specifications (M. Skutack)

Purchase and move, set up Portable Classroom Modules at multiple
school sites (E. Becker)

Approval of Contract with King County Metro for ORCA cards (B. Westgard)

Board Policy 4260, Building Use (R. English)

Pinehurst program update (R. English)

Wilson-Pacific Project Co-Location Briefing (E. Becker)

Growth boundaries plan introduction (T. Libros, J. Wolf)
search4chin said…
Great, so the district lawyer is going to be the one to deliver the final blow to Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1?) Could that be because they're afraid of a future lawsuit?

Benjamin Leis said…
@search4chin - The district couldn't probably fit the 150 Pinehurst kids in JA K-8 anymore even if everyone opted in. The enrollment there is now at 780?. There's neither room to squeeze large numbers of kids in at the Jane Addams building during the transition years nor are their extra seats once the new Pinehurst building is done either. I assume they mean to let everyone filter out to a mix of reference area schools and what option seats happen to be available. Its a pretty lame outcome and I feel bad for everyone there.

Viz a viz: Madrona K-8. You couldn't be more off base. It's definitely not a rich kid's school.
When you see a public school with rigid discipline and uniforms its almost always serving poor minority students (And I think that's also kind of terrible)


Anonymous said…

APP at WMS remains much smaller than before the HIMS split. Teachers who once taught APP all day now teach APP only half day. There is room to grow once Meany opens.

I don't think the school's culture is in any more danger than it was five years ago pre-split.

Anonymous said…
There may not be room inside the building, but the Jane Addams site has a big parking lot.

-North-end Mom
search4chin said…
Well, it sure seems hinky that the district and board would support a failing program and leave a thriving program like Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) to flounder like they have for years. My theory is, Madrona K-8 is someones pet project and until it is explained I'll hold to that theory.
dw said…
The principal says there will be a contest to rename JA K-8, so calm yourselves, people, your disambiguation issues will be resolved soon.
Name said…
Why don't they co-house Pinehurst at madrona? Their anti-racist focus might be a welcome addition to the CD.
Name said…
Why don't they co-house Pinehurst at madrona? Their anti-racist focus might be a welcome addition to the CD.
Josh Hayes said…
I for one will be fascinated to see how they cram 600 kids into a three-acre site and meet all necessary codes. I'm not a clever architect, but it just seems impossible to me, unless they want basically a zero-line footprint - but since it IS a K-8, surely they'll want playground/field space? There's no way to reconcile those things on that lot. I wish them the best of luck there, but do not be surprised if the district comes back and says, hey, guess what, we can only squeeze 400 kids onto this site. They have a history of making promises and then going back on them at this location. Hold their feet to the fire on this!
Josh Hayes said…
And "Name", that's a fine idea, but I think you misunderstand what the district would like to have happen to Pinehurst. They want it to go away. They don't want to find solutions that would allow it to persist.

Good idea, though - I also liked the idea of cohousing it in Lowell, since it has all those empty seats and is much more central than the far northeast Pinehurst location. Too bad the district doesn't want it to continue.
Name said…
Maybe the Pinehurst families could occupy the Mann building until another place is found. I am being serious. I think they have a lot in common with the groups that were protesting the lack of Ed opportunities for black students.
Name said…
Maybe the Pinehurst families could occupy the Mann building until another place is found. I am being serious. I think they have a lot in common with the groups that were protesting the lack of Ed opportunities for black students.
Name said…
Maybe the Pinehurst families could occupy the Mann building until another place is found. I am being serious. I think they have a lot in common with the groups that were protesting the lack of Ed opportunities for black students.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Charlie. Yes, I was thinking of "extraordinary accommodation" as something "above and beyond" what should reasonably be expected. But since good planning is not typical in this district, any such occurrences are in fact extra-ordinary!

Anonymous said…

Have to agree with the comments about Pinehurst. The way they are presenting it is just mean,

But as for lack of demand - again, we don't know what Pinehurst demand would be without the constant closure threats. If you look at the enrollment decline in the last 10 years, it drops in 2-year steps - each drop after a closure attempt by the district. Families with the resources went private at Clearwater, one of the Waldorf schools, etc, or homeschooled. A lot of families touring Thornton Creek this year said that Pinehurst was their first choice, except that they heard it was going to close. The demand is there, its just that too many people are gun-shy that the district is out to get them. No other Option school has had to lice under that cloud of uncertainty.

John Chapman
Charlie Mas said…
There are some weird little elements in this BEX IV/Growth Boundaries plan. They are the result of ideas getting set early and the District's obstinate refusal to change their mind on things - or least their inability to re-visit their prior decisions when situations change.

For example...

The District thought they needed additional elementary capacity around Eckstein. They considered a number of bad ideas and finally settled on a plan to add a whole additional school building on the Thornton Creek property. This school building was supposed to be an additional attendance area school to relieve the overcrowding at Bryant, View Ridge, and Wedgwood. Only now they are saying that they don't need the building for that. Yet they are building it anyway. Now it will be the new home of the existing Thornton Creek program and the District will leave the Decatur building vacant.

I don't begrudge the folks at Thornton Creek their new building, but I have to wonder if the Decatur building is so bad that it's rebuild needs to be done in BEX IV along with Arbor Heights. What is the building's condition score? Does it belong at the front of the line?

In another example of how needs change faster than the solutions, Jane Addams K-8 was created to address a need for both elementary and middle school capacity in the northeast. It never provided all of the middle school capacity that was needed, but it did a pretty good job of providing needed elementary capacity. Now that the building is being re-purposed as a middle school, won't we need to replace the elementary school capacity in that corner of the district? Will Cedar Park provide all that's needed? I know that the school, JAK8 will remain intact, but it is moving a fair distance west to the Pinehurst location. I wonder if it will still provide elementary capacity where needed.

Also, about JAK8, I'm never sure if some option schools' popularity is a result of WHAT they are or if it is a result of WHERE they are. Would they be as full if they were surrounded by attendance area schools with strong reputations and available seats? Will JAK8 be any more popular and successful in the Pinehurst location than AS#1 has been?

Here's another funny thing. Years ago, Wedgwood was the only Spectrum school in the Eckstein service area. Spectrum enrollment was very high and students couldn't get in. So the District added Spectrum to View Ridge. Now the District says that they discontinued the self-contained service delivery model at Wedgwood because they didn't have enough students to form classes. Same at View Ridge. So shouldn't they close one of those Spectrum programs?

If the District ends up deciding to put northeast elementary APP in the Decatur building instead of Olympic Hills -as they really should - then would they still move forward with the expansion of Olympic Hills?
search4chin said…
One of the many things I've asked the district to no avail is, 'what are the transportation statistics for Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1)?'

I'm interested because I know there are families who drive their kids long distances to AS#1 and a lot of the middle schoolers ride the metro bus to school, mine included. So it would be feasible to move the AS#1 program to another location without too much of an issue. Also, with the constant crap treatment, the district could throw us a bone and dedicate a couple of buses to us with designated pickup locations throughout the city.

Anonymous said…
For those asking about Thornton Creek, here is what I know.

The plan at Thornton Creek has changed over time, but it is now true that the option program will occupy the new school building (and continue to grow dramatically there), and the future of the Decatur building is unknown. There are no official plans, but that doesn't mean it won't be used.

Please note: The actual capacity of the Decatur building is quite low; it was designed as a small K-2 school (there is only one girls bathroom and one boys bathroom, and the sinks and toilets are sized for k-2). Thornton Creek has thrived in spite of the building and absorbed tremendous growth through the addition of many portables.

I think the District recognized that it couldn't build a new attendance area school while leaving an option school with long wait lists languishing in portables. (I assume, in fact, that the new construction will require removal of the portables.) Also, a large option school has the advantage of taking pressure off the entire attendance area (a bit from each school).

As for what happens to the Decatur building, it is unfortunate that the timing doesn't work better for Pinehurst. But the building would be a wonderful site for a pre-k program, or a special education program. Maybe it can take some k-2 pressure off the neighborhood schools. It's really not well suited even for a k-5, honestly.

You can get more details

TC reader
Anonymous said…
Does anyone know why the District is projecting north-end middle school APP to grow by 80% from 549 kids in 2013 to 989 kids in 2022? This is way more than the 20% growth rate they are assuming for elementary school APP and for the District as a whole.

Hamilton/Lincoln mom
North end parent said…
Does anyone understand what is meant by "boundary planning capacities" and how this relates to the anticipated enrollment? I am trying to figure out how it is that the size of the Green Lake region has doubled to tripled but the "boundary planning capacities" are less than current "program capacities".
Anonymous said…
Charlie - I don't know where you got the idea that self-contained Spectrum at View Ridge went away because they didn't have enough students to form classes. VR still has the self-contained model for grades 3-5, with 2 Gen Ed and 2 Spectrum classes at each grade level. The Spectrum classes are fuller than the Gen Ed classes, which means that more than 50% of each grade is enrolled in Spectrum. In other words, there are more than enough Spectrum kids at VR to form complete classes.
TechyMom said…
A lot of families use public elementary and high schools, but private middle schools. I wonder if the district trying to plan for that trend reversing?
Anonymous said…
At least in 2009, the Decatur building was among the worst in the district, with a 3.5 facilities score. If is also one of the most overcrowded (the most, maybe, in terms of core facilities/common use space) elementaries. There is no way the number of bathroom stalls they have right now is legal for the number of kids in that building.

If it were up to me, we would keep our crappy little building and go back to being a two-up, small school, let the bubble age out, and the district could use their shiny new building for something else. But if they want the program to become huge, yes, they need to put it in another building. I don't think the program is really scalable in that way, and won't be attractive as a large school, but I guess they are going to do it anyway! Everywhere else around there is so overcrowded people might go just to get away from their stuffed neighborhood schools.

There is no way they will actually leave the Decatur building vacant. They are just not saying what they plan to use it for so the very vocal NIMBY neighborhood group can't plan to mount their campaign against it for years. The district will just put whatever they need to in it when the new TC building is ready for TC. I don't have any inside knowledge, but after years of being in this district, I can't imagine it's anything else.

TC oldie
Anonymous said…
Can't Pinehurst go to Lincoln or Marshall for that one year before Decatur is empty? After all, Lincoln is supposed to be the interim school, and thus for the last two decades has been housing many different schools until their permanent buildings are ready. If Pinehurst asks to be moved there until Decatur is vacated, and some labs are put in, how can the district justify saying no to them when all other schools got to use Lincoln as an interim site? Or they can co-house with APP at Marshall, the new interim building for the district. Both schools used to have labs so they just need to be modernized. The district will need to do the labs anyway to turn Lincoln into a high school again, and prepare Marshall for its role as an interim building. Having Pinehurst at either school would actually save the district transportation cost, since buses can be shared with APP at both. If Pinehurst wishes to fight against this closure, I will be glad to write letters to the Board to support your community. And I think if you put out an appeal to your alumni, they will stand with you. The way your school is being treated is not right. Ask the district why Ballard, Roosevelt, Garfield, JSIS, Hamilton, QAE, McDonald, and APP got to use Lincoln and your school does not! Adams also got modernized some years ago, were they at Lincoln, does anyone know?

Anonymous said…
@ Charlie
I second mlg's comments. VR has more than enough students to fill Spectrum classes, several APP qualified kids stay at VR. There is a strong push from some parents in gen ed who do not like self-contained and would prefer to remove the Spectrum program, but that's a different story.

dw said…
Here's a map of the JAK8 2012-13 demographics.

Note that a big chunk of JAK8 pulls straight out of Rogers, which is a good school but massively overcrowded. Also note how many students come out of Olympic View, which is also a good school, but has no Spectrum, only ALO. In fact, only one "bad" school contributes heavily to JAK8 -- Olympic Hills.

I think the District is thinking:
-- A super-sized Olympic Hills, with an APP program, will a) relieve Rogers' overcrowding and b) be more attractive to the Northeast as a whole (noting that APP enrollment is far lower than eligibility in the four NE school zones)
-- Moving JAK8 into Pinehurst will form up a pattern closer to Pinehurst's now -- which pulls from Northgate, OH, OV, and Sac, all of whom will probably face more overcrowding as the Northgate area adds 1000+ housing units in the next 10 years (and they have Wilson-Pacific as a backstop just in case the city's plan to allow super-sized towers around Northgate goes through)
-- The kids that would have gone to Pinehurst roll straight into JAK8 (though in reality that's already true given how many Pinehurst refugees you run into at JAK8)

It's a reasonable set of conjectures. That said, OH really needs to improve as a school if it's going to attract anyone on the north side of Rogers.
Anonymous said…
Mirmac1: Is that this year's #? From what I'm hearing there are more kids than anticipated this year, and a wave of kids coming in the next few years, not only from the surrounding feeder schools, all of which are seriously over-crowded, but also because the trend of large #'s of people opting for Washington or Denny over Madison has petered out.

How many kids do you think the building could actually hold and still function well? 1000? 1200? Its feeder schools are ridiculously overcrowded, and worse every year, while Madison's popularity among North WS families is skyrocketing.

Anonymous said…
Are McDonald and John Stanford truly going to be option schools that are open to everyone in N. Seattle via some sort of lottery? Or will they be option schools in name only and continue to only serve the neighborhood because their geozones will match their current neighborhood boundearies? In other words, if you don't live in Wallingford, will your child really have a chance of getting into JSIS/McDonald?

Jon said…
Pinehurst should be closed. So should Madrona.

Worse than the low enrollment at Pinehurst are the test scores, especially in math. And this has been going on for years. Look back at 2007-8 for example. They aren't able to teach children. For years this school has been failing at its core mission. A school exists to teach children.

Rather than ask why Pinehurst K-8 is being closed, we should ask why Madrona K-8 isn't being closed too. Look at its test scores. Madrona K-8 is even worse on test scores and also badly undercapacity. Madrona K-8 also is not teaching children. The question we should be asking is why Pinehurst K-8 being closed when Madrona K-8 is not.
search4chin said…
Jon, I don't know the exact particulars on Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1)'s test scores other than for the years you may be questioning, the majority of the school's families declined testing and therefore received zero's for scores of those kids. Someone else can explain it much better I'm sure, but you're wrong that the kids aren't being taught. They are being taught well and the school has received excellence awards within the last couple of years which is one of the reasons the district agreed to keep it open the last time they tried to close it.

You're right in asking why Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) and not Madrona K-8. From what I've gathered, that school hasn't been up to snuff for awhile, but like I posted earlier, it must be someone's pet project.

Chris said…
Thanks, North-End Mom. Another question - and maybe I just missed the info - but I see nothing about high schools. Are those boundaries staying the same?
Meg said…
Charlie, I have to disagree with you on the district being thoughtful about APP.

The north end does not have enough capacity, and BEX will not give it enough capacity. Enrollment in the north end continues to grow at an astonishing pace. BEX will provide some relief, but not a solution. The district simply doesn't have enough inventory in the north (and so far, appears to have been reluctant to ask the city for help).

In these circumstances, the district is proposing to place two programs w/ guaranteed assignment in a single building (neighborhood and APP). They are proposing doing so in buildings that will pretty well fill with attendance area students. The only outcome will be a building so overcrowded that something will have to give - history in SPS indicates that this will mean more splits or squatting elsewhere for APP.

Disclosure: I do NOT have a kid in north end APP, or in the north end. To balance the north end's overburdened system, north end APP (elem and middle) should be placed in Wilson Pacific, possibly with an option program, until enrollment stabilizes. Stabilizing the assignment and location of that many kids will help stabilize the entire region, for all the kids in it. Do I think it's ideal from an educational standpoint? I do not, on several fronts. But it's the least bad solution, which, given the situation, is pretty much what we're looking for.

The alternatives to what I am proposing may hew closer to an educational ideal, but they utterly fail to take the reality of the situation into account. I feel very, very strongly that moving forward with the the district's current proposal to continue to co-house APP programs w/ neighborhood schools will implement not solutions, but a host of problems. And those problems will be incredibly disruptive to the education of ALL north end students.
Jon said…
search4chin, it is hard to believe that Pinehurst's how test scores are just from people opting out. In that case, the school easily could have shown a huge jump in test scores just by asking everyone to take the test one year, resolving the problem.

Regardless, at this point, no matter what anyone does, Pinehurst K-8 is going to be closed due to low enrollment, high costs, and poor test scores.

But, if that is the criteria for closing an option school, the question everyone should be asking is why Madrona K-8 is staying open (or, at least, why hasn't the Madrona K-8 principal been replaced and a STEM or other program added to attract people there).
Anonymous said…
According to a summary of Levy info, Olympic Hills is to get an expanded and rebuilt school, and be housed at Cedar Park in the interim:

If APP is placed at Olympic Hills, is the plan still to house temporarily at Cedar Park school?

search4chin said…
Jon, If you go to the site you linked to and compare the scores from the 2009/10 and 2010/11 school years for Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1), you'll see the jump in scores that you're looking for.

Charlie Mas said…
Okay. Good to know that View Ridge can fill their Spectrum program. So I guess there really isn't any need to reduce the number of Spectrum sites in that region.

As of yesterday, the District reports Spectrum waitlists of:

JAK8 - 4th grade - 2
Wedgwood - 1st grade - 6
Wedgwood - 2nd grade - 6
Wedgwood - 3rd grade - 2
Wedgwood - 5th grade - 1
View Ridge - 1st grade - 1
View Ridge - 2nd grade - 4
View Ridge - 3rd grade - 6
View Ridge - 4th grade - 2
View Ridge - 5th grade - 1

I find it disingenuous for District officials to say that there aren't enough Spectrum students at Wedgwood to form full classes while they are waitlisting students and keeping them out of the school. They're going to have to explain to me how they can say that there isn't room for them while they are saying there aren't enough of them.
Benjamin Leis said…

The principal at Madrona was just replaced 3 years ago and I believe they have been shifting in focus since then. If you're going to pick on another school you should at least gather the context about it.

Madrona K-8 just like many of the south end schools has few representatives here on this board to defend it. (In fairness: my kids don't attend there either)

Its also in the odd position of not attracting many of its neighborhood reference area children who are much wealthier and whiter than the school's population. I expect capacity needs will probably force more changes there as well but in the interim given the achievement gap across the district I think a little more sensitivity is in order when discussing it.


mirmac1 said…
Madison was underenrolled last year at 752. It was actually projected to go down this year to 743. Surprise! I just checked with the office and enrollment stands at 798 : )

Despite some start-of-year aggravations (shortages of desks, subs, class size etc), I'm very pleased that this great school is showing growth.

The aggravation is that downtown expects the kids and teachers to remain in this cramped state until the October 4 headcount. That is a MONTH of messing around. We want more teachers hired NOW!

My recall was faulty in a previous post. But it is clear that there are is available classroom and flex space to grow.
Anonymous said…
Thanks Mirmac1. And what a surprise indeed! What? WS is bursting at seams with kids? Gee! Who knew? (Sundquist Syndrome?)

I too am thrilled with Madison's rise, but I also see a crushing wave of neighborhood kids heading there in the next few years and I don't see how there'll be room for an APP middle school cohort too. Maybe things will level off, but given the number of jogger moms pushing strollers around WSN, today, I wouldn't bet on it.

Everywhere APP co-houses with a neighborhood school winds up seriously overcrowded and stressing resources. Then comes rivalry and resentment, and principals who have little time for academics because they spend all their time dealing with overcrowding issues. APP can co-house just fine for awhile, but growth always follows it and it winds up the bad guy in a situation it never asked for.

We need good numbers to spot the trends, otherwise, in 2 or 3 years, we risk a HIMS or WMS situation over here, and it won't be pretty or easy to fix.

dw said…
(not sure who this other 'dw' is, but I'm the one that's been using this moniker in recent years)

Charlie said: I find it disingenuous for District officials to say that there aren't enough Spectrum students at Wedgwood to form full classes while they are waitlisting students and keeping them out of the school. They're going to have to explain to me how they can say that there isn't room for them while they are saying there aren't enough of them.

Of course it's disingenuous, everything the district has said about Spectrum over the past 4-5 years has been disingenuous. In some aspects, for much longer (as you know).

There are more than enough kids to support full Spectrum classrooms at both schools, but not in the way the staff wants to arrange them. The problem is that you have a principal at Wedgwood (Cronas) that just doesn't support self-contained AL classrooms, and enough of the teaching staff support him that they've managed to kill any notion of "real" Spectrum at their school.

It's really sad that Tolley, Heath and others are so dead set on dispersing/killing Advanced Learning in SPS. If they took the right tack, it could help a lot with program placement and facilities planning, but instead they are doing it almost 180 degrees wrong.

Instead of praising the (literally unbelievable) growth in APP, which is killing the program, they should be pushing for strong Spectrum (or at least some kind of strongly-supported advanced learning program that can work in all regions) around the city. Every region should have at least one or two Spectrum-designated schools (not just in name, like WW is now), that reaches out and supports the, say top 10%, advanced learners in that region. Those buildings, being regional, can work within those communities to attract and support those kids and families.

Strong support is all it would take to attract families into such programs around the entire city. The program might not look the same in Bryant as it would at Hawthorne, but as long as the district and building staff truly believed in supporting advanced learning, particularly self-contained classes, these programs would thrive. Co-house with an option program to manage capacity.

Such a system would also take the currently ridiculous pressure off APP because families wouldn't feel the need to push their kids into a program that was supposed to be for kids working so far out-of-band that Spectrum could not possibly meet their needs. The whole thing is a disaster, as it is now. APP has become so huge that it's causing problems wherever it's at, and it will only get worse if it gets split and put into even more buildings. Why doesn't the administration understand this?
apparent said…
Agree with Meg (9/19 @8.37am) that putting APP elementary with guaranteed assignments into a growing neighborhood school also with guaranteed assignments is just setting up another future "crisis" in a few years time due to poor SPS planning.

Also think that Olympic Hills location defeats the main justification we were originally offered for this new split, which was to bring APP services closer to the families who use them (along with capacity concerns). For most NE families, Olympic Hills on the northern SPS border is farther than Lincoln, Wilson-Pacific, Thornton Creek, Decatur, perhaps even Lowell; John Marshall too is ideally located for a NE draw.

And agree with Hamilton/Lincoln mom (9/18 @9.44pm) that unexplained SPS projection of 80% rise in north Seattle middle school APP enrollment over next decade needs full public examination, since this dubious projection is now being proffered as the primary justification for moving *all* APP kids out of Hamilton MS (even if the NW kids cut in half the needed APP space by going to the new Wilson-Pacific MS).
NW mom said…
dw - AMEN. Some of the most sensible words about APP & Spectrum I've read in a long time.
TechyMom said…
There are three big differences between Madrona and Pinehurst. They're not differences parents care about, but they are differences the district cares about. They are operational differences.

1) Pinehurst is an option school. Madrona is an attendance area school.

2) Pinehurst is an old building. Madrona is a new building.

3) Pinehurst is in the jam-packed North End. Madrona is in the only-sort-of-packed Central area.

Part of why it's less packed is that there has always been a very high rate of private school attendance in the Central area.
Anonymous said…
Re:Spectrum at Wedgwood
Are the Spectrum students being distributed in clumps of 5 or 6 to Gen Ed classes as I believe was being done the past few years? Or are they back to self-contained Spectrum at Wedgwood?
Anonymous said…
I'm not sure where your reputation info is coming from for schools surrounding Jane Addams. John Rogers, for instance, is a growing, Level 5 school. For those who haven't been following district lingo, Level 5 means decent test scores PLUS a FRL gap of less than 25%.

As already pointed out, Pinehurst families have historically opted out of testing, and I believe students who don't take the tests are counted as "zeros," thus lowering the average scores.

Also, with test score averages, the cohort size matters. Comparing a school like Pinehurst, which may have 10-20 kids taking a 4th grade math MSP, to a school like View Ridge, where 100 kids, mostly Spectrum students, are in the 4th grade, is not a relevant comparison.

Pinehurst has long served as a sanctuary for kids who did not fit in well at traditional schools. Pinehurst also serves a high percentage of FRL and Sped kids. In my opinion, the Pinehurst program is valuable, and should not be closed.

@dw (the "other" dw)
Olympic Hills is not a "bad" school! I know some very happy Olympic Hills parents. It is a diverse community that is reflective of the neighborhood it serves, and thus has a high FRL and ELL population, and there are challenges that come along with those demographics.

I agree with Meg that, from a capacity standpoint, importing APP kids to the rapidly-growing north-northeast is very bad idea. A Spectrum program, with non-guaranteed assignment, would be a much better choice, and would provide a feeder school for the JAMS Spectrum program.

Jane Addams K-8 is the only school offering Spectrum (integrated version) in the north-northeast. This has no doubt helped with its "popularity," as parents seem to be drawn to the Spectrum brand, rather than enroll their child in a ALO school.

Especially this year, the JA K-8 was a means of escaping the scary overcrowding at Eckstein. Also, due to the Transition Plan tug-of-war last winter, many families feared that if they enrolled their child at Eckstein for 2013-14, he/she would be re-assigned to JAMS for 2014-15, due to capacity issues at Eckstein. They thought that they may as well start their kids at middle school in the Jane Addams building, if they are going to end up there anyway.

This year at JA K-8, honors classes were introduced at the 6th grade level, to better serve advanced learners, and the K-8 added a second language (Mandarin) and Jazz Band to its elective offerings, to make them more "comprehensive." The outcome of all this was the 6th grade at JA K-8 doubling, from 90 students to 180 students.

Some of the growth at JA K-8 is due to the quality of its program, but a good portion of its growth is due, as Charlie mentioned, to its location (in an area of rapid growth), combined with the inability of SPS to adequately accommodate NE families who would normally chose a comprehensive middle school for their children.

Phew! Sorry for the long post!

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
For those interested in understanding what is going on with the principal at Madrona K-8 please visit their PTSA site:

Ann D.
Anonymous said…
I'm re-posting the unsigned anonymous posting from 1:00 PM, in case it is deleted for being unsigned.

Anonymous said...
"Such a system would also take the currently ridiculous pressure off APP because families wouldn't feel the need to push their kids into a program that was supposed to be for kids working so far out-of-band that Spectrum could not possibly meet their needs. The whole thing is a disaster, as it is now. APP has become so huge that it's causing problems wherever it's at, and it will only get worse if it gets split and put into even more buildings. Why doesn't the administration understand this?"

I think the key to understand the district is this simple answer from the FAQs website:
"Why are you not considering additional Spectrum locations?
Spectrum is a program provided by SPSs for our academically gifted students. It is not required by Washington State law and is beyond the required services for highly capable students.

-reposted by North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
I'm new here, and COMPLETELY overwhelmed and confused. I've scoured the SPS site and all of these comments and am still left with tons of questions. anyone care to help me out?

1. What exactly is the FACMAC and are their meeting minutes public some where?
2. Where can I find facility information about the schools? Meaning, Current name, where, what it was built for, which programs/schools live there now, how many classrooms, maximum student capacity, and what the plans are for the next few years?
3. Why is there a waitlist for Spectrum kids? Last year there were 78 kids that qualified that didn't get served.

Thanks! I'm sure I'll have more questions later.
Jon said…
Ann D, thanks for that link, it is great to see a new principal in at Madrona K-8 as of July 2013. I hope the new principal pushes on locating STEM there, trying to fill Madrona K-8 to capacity, and improving test scores.

Ben, your version of a little sensitivity does nothing to help. The least sensitive thing we could do for the children of Madrona K-8 is fail to educate them and cripple their future, as we have been doing for so many years.

North-end Mom, if Pinehurst K-8 was doing so well teaching children, they could have simply proven that by all starting to take the test and showing higher than average (or at least average) scores. The fact that they couldn't do that means they were failing to teach children. Poor educational outcomes, high costs, and being badly under capacity are good reasons to close or change a school.
Johnny Calcagno said…
@mirmac1 9/19/13 9:59am
Garfield is having similar start-of-year similar problems; October 4th is way too late to mitigate them. Our principal is currently begging to fix the problem before then. It's ridiculous for students to not have classes or to have unqualified subs.

@Jon 9/19/13 1:53pm
I don't have a Madrona or Pinehurst kid, but I strongly challenge the notion that we can only measure student learning by test scores.
Josh Hayes said…
I agree with Johnny C on this one: test scores mean little. Once Pinehurst reached near 100% participation, their test scores were better than average (and particularly good in some cohorts: highest 8th grade reading score in the city a year or so ago, for instance). The school suffered through outright hostility from district management for years: parents were told that the school was full and that they could not enroll while literally at the same time the school was castigated for not getting their enrollment up. It was a deliberate effort to make the school fail, so that Ron English could sigh and say "we tried". Yeah - they sure tried something.

But jon (not Johnny!), you can spin this however makes you feel comfortable. All I know is, this district is maniacal about standardizing schools and squelching anything non-standard. Today it's Pinehurst's, and tomorrow it'll be someone else's turn in the barrel (like I say, Jane Adams K-8 parents: keep a close eye on what the district promises, and on what they actually deliver).
Anonymous said…
I heard that district enrolled too many kindergartners at Stevens Elementary this year and that they are going to have to add a fourth kindergarten home room. Think about the great bubble that will cause pain for years to come. At least the kindergarten classes will be somewhat smaller than 28 students after the split - at least for a while.

Ann D.
mirmac1 said…
right Ann D. And in order to do that, they're going to combined one self-contained autism program into another, taking their classroom. That reminds me when my child's SpEd classroom was located in the indoor playcourt.

How is that fair!? Combine a K-2 program with a 3-5?! Those fifth graders are a lot bigger than those kindergartners. Do we really think there is going to be any meaningful academics in that environment?
Maureen said…
Ann, when you say the district enrolled too many kindergarteners, do you mean they let in kids from out of the neighborhood boundaries? Or just that more kids showed up for their guaranteed seats than were expected?
Anonymous said…
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search4chin said…
Is there any news on the update that Mr. Ron English was due to deliver regarding Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1)'s fate during the 'operations committee' meeting last night?
Anonymous said…
Reposting for anonymous above:

As a downtown parent I'm getting sick of the Seattle School District completly ignoring the needs of downtown children. I've never posted anything about this issue because everytime a downtown parent posts anything advocating for the betterment of their children people jump at the chance to explain why downtown families don’t deserve a voice, or a school. The fact is that there are a growing number of families that are making the choice to live downtown, they care about their kids the same way everyone on this blog does, their not all rich, and they’re in need of stability.

Do downtown kids deserve to be shuffled around everytime the school district needs to find a solution to overcrowding, no. Does downtown deserve a neighborhood school, yes.

Anonymous said…
Maureen -- I don't know how it works. Each school takes all comers. So if the school does well and draws in more kids then the district is screwed and the school loses other space to make room (I.e. playground space for portables).

I know during the school year there is a wait list, even for kids within their assignment area.

It sounds like there is a lot of planning for mediocrity if 30% of Seattle school-aged kids go to independent schools now. If the District did a kickass job they would have a huge facilities issue.

Ann D.
Louise said…
This is a public school district and all children living within it deserve an education. However, sorry, as long as the downtown kids can fit in an existing school I do not find it reasonable that one knowingly and willingly moves into a neighborhood with no school and then demands one be built for them.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Downtown living with children seems cool. But hope that 'critical mass of downtown parent's understands that a downtown school is not the same as a SLU school. Not at all. Sorry.

Also, while there is space at Lowell (seems to be plenty of space!) this district has no business building another school in the downtown area. The overcapacity issues at the existing schools trump the downtown issue.

Mike said…
The only problem with a downtown school is where the funding is coming from, right? If there was a big grant, from or Vulcan for example, that would take care of the problem? But right now, there is no money for it, and way too many pressing capacity and delayed maintenance issues elsewhere to have any chance of making money available for it, correct?
Anonymous said…
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TechyMom said…
When my daughter was a Lowell, she had a classmate who lived in SLU. It was a 15 minute school bus ride, and her parents often walked to pick her up. Broadway really is pretty close to downtown, and there is excellent metro service between the two areas. If you look around the city, you will see that a lot of kids, in a lot of neighborhoods, ride a bus to a school that's just a little too far to walk.

I'd prefer small, walking distance schools in every neighborhood too, but the district's plan is exactly the opposite. They want all elementary schools to be 600+, so that it's cheaper to provide art and PE teachers and principals, librarians, etc.

I agree the district has had a hard time grasping the idea that kids live downtown, just as they have had a hard time grasping the idea that the current trend is for families to stay put in urban areas rather than move to the suburbs. Much of the district management seems to be stuck in 1975.

Still, Lowell isn't farther from you than my kid's school is from us. Oh, and putting downtown at Hay was a big mistake, made to keep APP at Lowell. That will be corrected next year, and then you'll have a school.
TechyMom said…
BTW, I do know that SLU isn't strictly downtown, but they'll both be in the Lowell attendance area, they're both pretty close to Lowell, and they both have good Metro service to Broadway.
Maureen said…
Ann said: I don't know how it works. Each school takes all comers. So if the school does well and draws in more kids then the district is screwed and the school loses other space to make room ....

I know during the school year there is a wait list, even for kids within their assignment area.

I actually do know how it works (for regular neighborhood programs at least.) Anyone who lives in an assignment area is guaranteed a seat. If they live in another assignment area they have to request assignment to Stevens and only get a seat if there is room. Here are the rules.

Under the "New" Assignment Plan (three years old?), no kid in the assignment area can be on a wait list and every school does not take all comers (that has never been true). So is the District allowing kids from outside the area into Stevens? That seems unlikely since Lowell is half empty. I'm guessing there were just lots of babies born on North Capitol Hill five years ago and they didn't move away the way they would have before they were guaranteed a seat at Stevens.

People screamed for predictability five years ago, well they got it, sort of. Predictable assignment. But not predictable class size or number of home rooms, or access to art rooms and gyms and a seat at lunch.
Anonymous said…
Charlie Mas or others in the know..

What is expected to happen to the 150 kids at Pinehurst?

What happens to the building?

NW mom said…
I do not know what is expected to happen to the Pinehurst kids. i suppose the district just intends that they go quietly to their neighborhood schools. It's very sad what is happening to them.

The building will be remodeled and be home to the currently titled Jane Addams K-8 program.
katie said…
The reason why so many folks jump on the downtown folks when they complain, is because they behave as if they were a unique case of an overlooked growing area and the only area of the city without a neighborhood school or area that gets constantly moved. That is simply not the case.

Due to exceptional mis-management, there are multiple areas in the city with no school stability of any kind. There are the areas where SPS sold off most of its inventory. The best example is Queen Anne High School. The families on Queen Anne have not had a high school for as long as anyone can remember.

The same is true for Lake City middle school and multiple areas for elementary schools. Roanoake had nothing forever. The Eastlake neighborhood lobbied for years to get a special set aside at TOPS because they had no school. The University District got whatever space was left over and was routinely bussed past 7 schools to go to John Rogers. Essentially anyone that lives near a closed school has been at the whims of SPS since that school was closed.

Downtown is not alone in its suffering. Nor is its suffering particularly severe relative to some of the other "dead zones." That is why there is such a pronounced jump on downtown complaints. The problem is relatively new and effects a relatively small number of families.

I say relatively not to dismiss your problem but to put it in context. Does downtown have a real problem, yes. Do they need a school, yes. If you were to make a list of all the places in Seattle that are short a school and you simply ordered the list from the largest number of folks impacted to the smallest number, downtown would be at or near the bottom.

I think if downtown is serious about a school, they would be much better served to broaden their view and combine their desires with other overlooked areas. I know I would be much more empathetic to a group that was advocating for another downtown high school that is truly desperately needed for the central area. A combined K-12 campaign would likely get a ton of support on this blog.

For downtown, the high school issue is the most severe, closely followed by middle school. How many more students can Garfield and Washington handle?

The need for elementary is very light. There is plenty of room at Lowell. So a combined K-12 campaign would very likely find district wide support but an elementary only just looks and feels like complaining.
Eden, you should be able to find FACMAC minutes, facilities info, etc. at the Facilities webpage at the SPS website.

What will happen to Pinehurst students? That depends on their parents. They might:
- enroll in their neighborhood school based on their address
- enroll in another option school
- go private
- join together and start a charter (if they had one more year in the building, they might be able to do a conversion charter and take the building from the district. That would be some karma for the district that largely ignored them.)

Why is there a Spectrum waitlist? Because even if your child tests into Spectrum there is no guarantee of a seat. That's just how the district rolls. (And the trend is that it is very hard to get into Spectrum after first grade.)

Downtown school parent, you need to give yourself a name because we don't allow anonymous comments.

Of course the number of families in downtown is growing. Yes, having downtown schools makes sense (Vancouver has them) . I don't think anyone is against a downtown school per se.

BUT, as has been pointed out, there is room at nearby schools for all the downtown children. It may not be exactly where you want it but it exists. Downtown is certainly not, as has been pointed out, the only area lacking a school.

And, we have huge capacity problems throughout the district.

What can you do? Advocate to the Mayor and City Council to get some downtown businesses to join to allow the district to use (or lease) some space. The district has no property downtown that can be used (nor does it have the money to buy in what is likely the most expensive area in town). BUT, if Vulcan or Amazon would allow the district to use some space, I know the district would be happy to create the infrastructure for a school but they need the space.

I know discussions have been happening but I am puzzled at to why no business has stepped up. That leaves downtown families to have to wait in line for a school.

Madrona. Ben, Madrona may have changed principals and I hope that means change. But, families in the area - white families - did try to be part of the school and got rebuffed. Again, that may have been the principal. It may have been the new families came on too strong. I just know it was not a good situation and the district did little to help the situation.

Madrona is a decent building that needs to be filled. Mirmac, did you check with Madrona's office or the Enrollment office on those numbers?
mirmac1 said…
If you mean Madison, yes I checked with the office for the current enrollment. The capacity and projected enrollment are found here.
Oh, I thought you meant Madrona. Big difference.
Charlie Mas said…
The Pinehurst kids are screwed. They don't have anywhere to go. They can't stay in the building when JAK8 moves in for two reasons: 1) the District is going to raze the building and 2) there's no room for them in JAK8.

Usually when a school is closed the District exercises some care to find another home for those students. Well, not really, but they make a show of exercising care and they say that they are really, really sorry as they sweep kids away like dust. The Cooper community was scattered to the winds and the AAA community likewise. MLK kids were moved to T T Minor and then, when T T Minor was closed, to Lowell.

Regarding the need for an elementary school downtown, there is none. The data simply doesn't support it. I know. I've seen the data. I've read it. The bulk of the school-aged children "downtown" live in Yesler Terrace, not South Lake Union. Bailey Gatzert is right across the street.

Families in the north end of downtown have a nearby school: Lowell. There are more than 300 empty seats there. The District has finally acknowledged that fact and included the north end of downtown in the Lowell attendance area. Problem solved.

Will students have to ride a bus there? Yes. But there is no place downtown that would be "walkable" for elementary students thanks to all of the busy streets. We don't ask little kids to walk across Broadway, we sure aren't going to ask them to walk across Westlake or Dexter.

So the complaint that Lowell isn't walkable isn't a valid complaint. No place would be walkable.
Anonymous said…
My daughter attends Bagley (optioned in to Montessori), but we live in Magnolia. Will she be able to attend Hamilton?

Mag mom
Anonymous said…
I'll have to read through this but the State already grants school districts eminent domain, no need to beg the business community for space for schools:

Chapter 8.16 RCW

Additionally, the City and County have been trading development upzones in the Denny Triangle and South Lake Union, leveraging the generated funds to support growth management objectives. Certainly the case could be made that investing those dollars in the urban core towards sustaining families needs such as for schools could be made. There would be less reason to move out to Issaquah if you had better access to schools in the core.


Ann D.
Mag Mom, probably not. There is no Montessori in middle school so you couldn't claim that position.

Ann, I think I've heard this argument before and sure, the district could do this. Do they want to? Probably not as (1) it would antagonize downtown/Mayor/City Council (unless they supported it and I can't imagine that) and (2) I don't think a downtown school is firmly on anyone's radar in the district (except DeBell and he's on his way out the door).

A downtown school CAN be done. Is there the will to do it in the near future? Hard to say. Maybe someone should ask Dale Estey or Blanchard - they seem to be tight with these folks.
Anonymous said…
Can anyone explain what the deal is with Jane Adams Middle school and JAK8 actual locations?

I'm so confused.

Currently the middle school is housing the K-8.

But here is says that the board approved in January that JAMS opens next year at that same site:

does that mean that next year the K-8 is homeless while the middle school starts to fill up, and before the new K-8 opens?

Also, the Capitol projects list from August 2013 I got from Michael DeBell has portables being placed at "Jane Addams" this month.

Where did those portables go? did these get placed at the JAMS middle school site for the K-8 which is supposed to be getting kicked out?

Anonymous said…

There is no Jane Addams Middle School this year. The first students will be assigned to JAMS next year. The options for JAMS and Jane Addams K-8 are listed in the September 17th Growth Boundaries Presentation on pages 37 and 38.

Spruiter said…
in response to your question about the portables at the Jane Addams building, there are 3 portables at Jane Addams this year (2 singles, and 1 double, for a total of 4 classrooms in portables). This was to accommodate the growth of the K-8, option program, which experienced larger than normal growth at 6th grade this year (for a variety of reasons).
TechyMom said…
Another option for a downtown school is to create a small charter school in rented or donated space. I bet a k-12 STEAM school with a solid plan for gifted students and before and after school care/enrichment would do very well with downtown and SLU residents and families with parents working downtown.
Well, letters of intent to create charters are due by October 22nd so we shall see if anyone steps up to create a downtown charter.

That may even be the reason that no business has offered space to the district - cut out the middleman and create their own school via some puppet non-profit.

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