Seattle Schools' Growth Boundary Meeting at Hale

It was a full house but frankly, not as full as I thought it would be (and certainly not the crowd that Charlie had - Tracy Libros said there were at least 250 people at Monday's event).  

There were three legislators there - Rep. Jamie Pedersen, Rep. Gerry Pollet and Senator David Frockt.  I saw just two Board members - Director DeBell and Director Peaslee (odd that Martin-Morris wasn't there - this is his region).  There were also several members of the FACMAC committee.

I sat at a table with parents worried about several issues but they seems resigned.  I also sat with two reporters from the Roosevelt News.  They worry over losing diversity at their school and overcrowding.  I set them up to talk with Shauna Heath. 

Big Picture
A couple of themes I came away with that I hope ALL parents understand.

This is a serious situation (and probably more serious than the district is letting on although Flip Herdon did let two things slip that should have been the canary in the coal mine - more on that in a minute). 

One, there will be pain.  To many, many families.  I wish it were otherwise but this is a big messy situation with many moving parts that will NOT be solved even within five years.  Even a great district would have problems figuring this all out. 

That pain may take the form of:

- confusion over the next several years.  The district is NOT going to get it all right.  No one could (although it would be helpful if they listened to a couple of really savvy professional planners that are parents in the district who would be happy to lend their expertise). 

- roll-outs of one grade level, 6th grade, and the desire for parents for their children to have a "complete" comprehensive middle school experience.  That is not going to happen because they will not be at a complete comprehensive middle school.  I am certain the district will do what they can to mitigate (and maybe throw in some things other schools won't have) but it is not rational to believe it will be the "exact" same experience other students will get.

- boundary changes continuing over the next several years.  This was one of the things Herdon said that caught my attention (and he said it twice).  So they may start one way and then find out that they have to tweak things.  The upshot is - boundaries will NOT be stable for several years and no one should count on that.  

The other thing Herdon said is about the process is "We don't have a great answer for all the questions."  Meaning, this is a moving process and, for once, I actually believe the district that no firm decisions have been made.

- kids who have been in elementary together and now will split at middle school.  I was a parent and I know the value of these friendships.  We moved when my older son started middle school and he didn't have the same friends.  The same for my younger son when he started middle school but we managed to keep some of the old friends AND made new ones.  It can be done and children survive these life changes.  (I don't know if this is a NE obsession but I hear it more often in that area's meetings than any other area.)

Two, grandfathering.  This issue came up several times and one person - to great applause - said, "You need to settle this issue NOW so that people will know and worry less."  Naturally she meant that the district needs to grandfather all kids and their siblings. 

What Tracy Libros told me is that if your child is currently at their neighborhood school and the boundaries change, your child can remain at that school through the highest year available.   If you move within the new boundary, your child stays.  BUT if you move anywhere new that is NOT within the new boundaries, your child can complete the school year at the school but would have to transfer to the school within your new boundaries. 

What about sibs I asked?  She said it was a difficult situation that they are working on.

I can only say what I said when neighborhood school enrollment became the new norm - the plan will not work as it should and/or will take many more years to be fully in place if you grandfather sibs.  I think the district feels this way as well.  Yes, the district's stated priority is keeping families together but that may not end up being the reality.

Three, behind closed doors.  Look, there are wants and desires on the part of many people up the food chain.  DeBell wants to see the entire LI plan enacted.  Is that the most important thing to get done with so many other capacity/facilities issues?  Nope but don't count on him backing off.

President Smith-Blum has the desire for Wilson-Pacific to look as she believes it should (with an extra administrative building between the elementary and middle school).   The majority of people at the planning meeting I went to months ago said no and yet it's still out there.

In short, you can go to these meetings but we may never know what is truly in the minds of district staff and Board members (and whatever other powerbrokers who are whispering in their ears).  There's ALWAYS a backstory.


- The presentation was presented to an incredibly quiet crowd.  People were really paying attention even if it did not seem they always understood what was being said.

- looking at the Interim Site list Year-by-Year,  I noticed that they had Loyal Heights AND Bagley in John Marshall in the same school year, 2018-2019.  I asked and it turns out each will take a half-year turn in the building.  Apparently.

- the crowd didn't seem to particularly like the table discussion time and my table refused to write anything down.  One guy said, "Divide and conquer."

- Documentation.  Parents want to see:
  • a  list of buildings and their capacity.   
  • a list indicating how many NEW seats there would be at any BEX IV building.  The example given was Bagley - just how many more students will it fit or will it just be a more comfortable fit for an overcrowded building.
  • a map that shows the old boundary lines and the new ones 
I wish staff had at least said "There's a 'stated' capacity but it depends on what programs are in the buildings." 

- Cedar Park and JA are going to be overrun with portables (seemingly with a large amount of Cedar Park's capacity coming from portables - not good).

- APP got mentioned repeatedly.  Many tables stated that the district just needs to settle this question.  A couple of people pointed out that some parents might choose APP over Spectrum so that their students don't get split up from friends.

A couple of tables said Wilson-Pacific should just be an APP school so that the neighborhood schools could have ALL their capacity for their students.  I have advocated for an APP school for years for two reasons.

One, out of sight, out of mind.  For the educators, administrators and parents who do not like it, none of those kids will be in any neighborhood school and for you, it'll be like they don't exist.

Two, it just makes it easier to run that program and, as stated, would give all the capacity in a neighborhood school to neighborhood children. 

-  One person pointed out that she didn't get why McDonald was created as a LI option school with JSIS next door.  And what about LI for the NE

- NO last minute boundary changes when this gets to a Board vote.  That particular request should be made by ALL at every single meeting.  No one gets to pull a last-minute switch.

- Hilariously, people were calling out specific plots (numbered on the maps) and saying, "Well, that part should go to School X."  That said, the maps do look somewhat gerrymandered and again, if the district is not giving reasoning behind each and every boundary change, well, then people will make their own requests.

- BIG issue: why are we not discussing high schools?  Parents said they felt like they would be back here in a couple of years to discuss high schools.  (I also pointed out to my table that with Franklin and Roosevelt gaining light rail by about 2020, that would be a game-changer for their enrollment.)

- Diversity.  Surprise to me but it got brought up several times (including by the cub reporters at Roosevelt).  I can only say that this is likely very low on the list for the district (considering what they are trying to get done - find seats for everyone - and that the last time they tried to do something, they got their hand slapped by no less than the US Supreme Court). 

- Some suspicion over what is happening at Thornton Creek's old building.

- A claim that there were four downtown parents at one table and their children "had nowhere to go."  Not true but it's a good story. 

- Portables.  If we have to have them, they need decent drinking water and bathrooms.  Good luck with that.  Not affordable (but I would think they would bring in bottled water at least.)

- What will happen to Pinehurst and its students?

- Are we moving chairs on the Titanic?  Is the capacity problem too huge? (It is and the district isn't being completely truthful on the magnitude of the problem).  I'll have a separate thread on this one.

- I pointed out without an Advanced Learning director and real options/decisions on AL programs, all this moving around of APP and Spectrum students will be a problem.  (Shauna Heath - head of Curriculum and Instruction - told me later they do have an interim director but frankly, he's just keeping the place afloat and not making real decisions.)  I also mentioned they need to do something about the Mann building because of the domino effect it has on so many communities and projects.


Anonymous said…
If the decisions really haven't been made yet, North End APP parents should be advocating now against a split. All of the North End APP students at Wilson Pacific. All of APP 6th grade at Marshall should be acceptable if you know you're avoiding a split.
If there's not room for all the elementary students, offer a limited number of seats in a language immersion school.

FixingClosures said…
The capacity problem is too huge and we are just shuffling deck chairs without dealing with the real problem. We need more space. Nothing is going to help short of acquiring new buildings (or trying to get the building that were leased/sold just a few years ago back). We just don't have enough room for all the kids, especially in the north, without acquiring buildings.
Remembering Lowell said…
On a 1-8 APP program alone in Wilson-Pacific, there is no way the district will go for that. Their goal in the splits always has been to spread the test scores of APP around and use APP parents to fix up other schools. APP is a tool for them to solve problems, to be moved around and used. There is no way they are going to give that up, put all those juicy test scores in one building. There is nothing attractive about that for district staff. It is not going to happen.
Charlie Mas said…
In the absence of any statement about the rationale for any of these decisions - program placement, boundary changes, feeder pathway changes - they all appear arbitrary. That makes it impossible to accept the decision. It also makes it impossible to argue against it.

We need more transparency to participate effectively in this process.
Lori said…
All of APP 6th grade at Marshall should be acceptable if you know you're avoiding a split.

I respectfully disagree. The current 5th graders at Lincoln will have spent the majority of their elementary years in an oversized building designed for teenagers. At some point, this cohort should be allowed to have a normal school experience. Being isolated in another interim building and cut off from 7th and 8th graders is not acceptable for *any* population and is a wholly separate matter from whether APP is split or not.

Maybe I've just become too cynical after the Lowell eviction, but my faith that the district will mitigate and make things "good" at Marshall is low to non-existent. It will be up to the families to provide whatever "mitigation" is needed, and after 3 years of doing that at Lincoln, I'm growing weary.
Benjamin Leis said…
This in a nutshell is why the district will be able to move APP around where it wants. There is no consensus among the parents about what they want. Pretty much any decision the district makes will make some of them unhappy in large numbers.

In fact, you could say the much the same about this process in general.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said…
"boundaries will NOT be stable for several years and no one should count on that."

Of course. Once an Arbor Heights on steroids opens, then Roxhill will likely disappear.
Anonymous said…
I did a rough count of the number of people there, and it was over 200. Seattle Times said 100, but they were way off.

The process wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The sound off the microphone, as usual, was abysmal (please, get a decent PA). Staff reading through the slides wasn't very helpful and took too long. I didn't sit at a table, but the "report out" from the tables gave a decent representation of what I think people were concerned with. Still, this took a lot of time - I personally would have favored a longer open Q&A.

Charlie's right: without a sense of the rationale behind any of these proposed changes, it all does feel arbitrary, and maybe the people who yell the loudest will get what they want. I talked briefly with Mr. Tolley about something, and he twice said "Well, what would you recommend we do"? I felt like saying "Your job. I am not an expert - you folks are. I can't be responsible for knowing the best thing to do to make sure all kids get a good education." I long for the days when I don't have to follow this stuff as closely as I do now.

- Fatigued
Anonymous said…
The one thing that no one seems to want is another APP spilt, its the interim that some families are willing to accept as is and others want all grades kept together, which incites current HIMS APP families. As a current Lincoln 5th grade and Hamilton 7th grade parent, the best possible outcome is all grades in 2014-2015 of APP going to Marshall for the sake of all the students. HIMS is a great school but this shouldn't be sacarficed for the much hit 5th graders.

APP Family
search4chin said…
FYI: There is a public hearing at Pinehurst K-8(aka AS#1) regarding its closure status. It will be at 7pm and hopefully some good info. will come out.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Benjamin Leis said…
You're lucky you have that option (spectrum vs APP). Most families involved in the roll ups for the new middle schools will not have any choices within the public system.

Po3 said…
High School has to be put on the table it makes no sense to only adjust K-8 and then see what happens.

There are real issues now:

GHS still does not have enough staff for students. Some students only have 4 periods as we approach Oct.
NOVA is influx.
Center's lease is running out - 3 or 4 years left? What is the districts commitment to the school?
RBHS has room but needs upgrades to its building.
When is Lincoln slated to come back as a high school? In time to deal with the large cohorts coming up?
Lori said…
Ben, what other middle schools to date have started with 6th grade roll-ups? Is there history I'm missing?

In the current proposals, the roll-up at JAMS is at least a little more palatable because the K-8 program is in the building and in theory there can be shared resources and access to higher level classes if needed.

But I think we probably agree that we don't want standalone 6th grade at Marshall for anyone, including the kids at Northgate who might get assigned there next year.

I'm curious too about Broadview Thompson, which is a K-8. That's the other school being put into the WP middle school feeder zone, but how many kids might that include? Those kids have the option of staying in the BT K-8, right? And do Northgate kids have the option to switch to BT too, sort of how Jane Addams hoped to draw kids from Eckstein last year to relieve crowding?
Anonymous said…
A roll up for a neighborhood middle school program with a principal for that program and building stability looking forward for the program, with your whole cohort/leadership from elementary school plus a couple other neighborhood elementary schools, is much more palatable than sending off splinters of a specialized, large draw program with theoretical newcomers, and asking them to develop a program alongside the neighborhood one. Apples to oranges.

App at Lincoln parents know how to start a program- they just did it two years ago- and are being asked to again, times two. I can't really imagine the district asking that of other groups in such short order, and worse, other groups crying "entitled!" when the group says "too much." if even a move sounded too hard for your program last year, imagine that plus a split, plus the start up from 4 years ago, and, oh, middle school, not elementary, with only half your leadership. I don't think you can say with a straight face you wouldn't be doing the same thing, looking for other solutions.

Benjamin Leis said…
@Lori: I wasn't as specific as you interpreted my last message to be.

To elaborate: under the transition plan Wilson Pacific and JAMS will start rolling up next year. There are several ways this could play out including just the 6th grade or all the grades being involved. I didn't go into it since at this point the decision hasn't really been made.

Most of the families involved are not going to have any options but to go where the district assigns their children. There will be kids in John Marshall and in several portable fields. I'm going to guess many of them are fairly concerned.

To your larger question. No I actually don't personally agree that a stand alone 6th grade at John Marshall is necessarily horrible. To me it entirely depends on the planning done and what classes are offered when it opens. Not to say it couldn't go south but I'm open to the possibility that it could be done effectively. I'll add as a product of a K-6 system I'm less hung up on a "comprehensive" middle school experience. I'd be OK with that as well.

However, I think at this point those concerns are moot. The building has to be in use because we need the seats.

That's ultimately why we can't expect the option schools to draw off all the "extra" kids next year. There's not enough spare capacity in the system for that to be possible. JA ballooning this year was a one-time capacity fix that can't be repeated.

The only capacity question that hasn't been explored much yet that I'm curious about is whether its really necessary to start both middle schools this year. I'm assuming the answer is yes but haven't seen any numbers one way or the other.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Josh Hayes said…
I have to agree on the high school issue. We've heard a lot of screaming about middle school capacity, and building it up to match the demand -- but where does the district imagine those kids will GO two or three years down the line? Lincoln, I guess, should draw off some of the strain, but I can tell you that Roosevelt is bursting at the seams (1800 kids! Yikes), and that's BEFORE this big demographic bulge starts rolling in. Someone had better be planning furiously, down at the ol' JSCEE, for where all those kids are going to go when so many of the high schools are already at or over capacity.
Eric B said…
Lincoln will help, but it won't solve the high school problem. The only real hope of solving it is to add one or two more high schools, but that can't happen until BEX V. If we're lucky, someone can convince Patty Murray to lean on the Pentagon to sell/give the Interbay Armory property to SPS for a new comprehensive high school for Magnolia/Queen Anne. That plus improving Rainier Beach might get us through.

IMHO, high school would be distracting enough from the immediate problem that they shouldn't be talking about it now, but they should be laying out when they'll talk about it.
Lori said…
Lincoln is slated to come on-line as a high school again in 2019, right?

That's not soon enough for today's 5th and 6th graders. As a 5th grade parent this year, I fully expect to be going through this exact churn again in 3 years when there is nowhere for us to go.

I can picture a future where my kid is back at Marshall in the fall of 2017, this time for a standalone 9th grade high school roll up. Wish I were kidding.
Sabine Mecking said…
@ Lori: I think you might be right. I vaguely recall that Lincoln High School is supposed to open in 2017 in an interim location while its permanent home, the actual Lincoln High School Building, is being renovated 2017-2019. I guess interim site means John Marshall now. My youngest actually went to preschool there (until they were kicked out by SPS this summer), and my now 5th grader might end up there next year. I guess we will be looking at a long connection with the John Marshall Building. It is actually a nice, old building (imho), and the freeway is not too bothersome noise-wise although particles in the air e.g. from tire wear on the freeway (according to a chemist friend more worrisome than car exhaust) should be considered/measured before putting SPS students in there (again imho).
Anonymous said…
Back at Marshall in Fall 2017? Heck, some of the kids might not ever have to leave! Next year's Wilson-Pacific 6th graders are slated to be there for all 3yrs of middle school, so they'd finish up just in time to stick around. They could spend more time at the "interim" site than any other SPS school.

I hadn't thought of that before, Lor, but UGH, it's probably not that far fetched!

Anonymous said…
Oops, didn't mean to sound overly familiar. Should have been "Lori," not "Lor." :)

Benjamin Leis said…
There are a bunch of not very pretty scenarios I've been imagining for high school 5+ years out. Its possible we could switch to a longer year school-year and double shift some of the existing buildings. I think but am not sure that was done during the baby boom here. A wait for BEX 5 means 7 years until its up for a vote + 2 years at least for construction of any new buildings.

(I sent my letters to the school board last year during the BEX planning process about this issue)
Po3, Lincoln, according to the sheet given out last night, is scheduled to be a high school in 2019.

Which is good because about that time, the light rail station at Roosevelt will come on-line (and more density will have built-up around it).

The district (and the City) do have a commitment to Center School but if the City decides to redo the Center House, I have no idea where Center School would go in the interim AND will the district be able to afford a new lease price (inevitable) from the City?

RBHS does need upgrades but when is a good question. I have to wonder if they could make BEX V but maybe there could be other monies from the state.

Ben, I have heard from others in the know that it may be quite likely, if this rapid growth continues, that a small number of schools might have to double-shift. This was done in the past but I don't think anyone would be happy.

Eric B said…
In theory, a new high school could go into the next BTA. It's not really the way it's supposed to be done, and it would push the levy amount way up, but it is a capital levy. That would be maybe 5 years out. BEX V is 5 years out from the vote, 7 years to construction if design and site acquisition was done under BTA.

I hate to be the dark cloud of doom, but there are no ideal solutions. If we're lucky, we'll find reasonably OK solutions instead of a bucket full of crap.
Anonymous said…
Hi All,

My husband (a capacity planner) and I have run the numbers, and I think there is a way to have it almost everything. We need to check our numbers and run it by a few folks before we share it widely, but if we are correct, then this option should exist:

--APP elem at Lincoln until moves together to WP elem in 2017.
--APP middle schoolers stay at Hamilton until WP MS opens in 2017 (there will likely still need to be portables at Hamilton no matter if APP leaves or if we don't.)
--WPMS neighborhood kids roll up at John Marshal in 2014 and moves into WPMS in 2017. (feeder schools would become Bagely, Northgate and Olympic View).

(And yes, APP middle school shares with neighborhood kids, but APP elementary will likely fill the WP elem building up right away.)

--JAMS neighborhood kids role up at JAMS starting in 2014. JAK8 could stay until 2016 and they might be able to do it without more portables, but I'm uncertain.

This works because Greenwood stays at Whitman instead of moving to Hamilton, and Bagely goes to WPMS which is much closer to anyway.

The overcrowding at Eckstein is reduced (though not eliminated) by sending Sacagawea to JAMS starting 2014. It might make sense for Wedgewood to feed into JAMS too, but in 2016 when the JAK8 is no longer there...

I'm working on being able to share the details and proof more widely by this weekend. I'm relatively confident that the analysis is solid, but I've learned that it's always good to double and even triple check your work. :)


I believe Eden and her husband are two of the very smart people who know planning and have some good ideas.

The district should listen to them and several others.
Anonymous said…

Our model is showing that the middle school portion of Broadview Thompson is already going to be full just with their own kids coming up from the elem portion.

But, Salmon bay seems to have a fair amount of room in their 6-8 grades. But again, I need to verify before I swear on the numbers.
Anonymous said…
Looking forward to seeing your numbers, Eden. It definitely doesn't seem like MS APP could possibly remain all at HIMS without some capacity expansion. I thought portables were a long shot, but who knows?

A similar option--and one that is more under SPS control--might be to annex a part of Lincoln for use by Hamilton. If there are concerns about 6th graders making the short walk, it could be easily solved by holding 7-8th grade classes there instead. LA/SS classes would be a great option, since they are block classes.

Anonymous said…

I'll put that idea in the hopper.

Seems like a reasonable solution if Lincoln isn't getting more populated by other elem kids.
Anonymous said…
There are numbers and there are realities. APP rejecing a Grade 6 rollup for their kids, instead staying at Hamilton, but suggesting it for the JAMS and WilPac GenEd students? The viewpoint is defensible but it will not fly politically.

Speaking of politically, were Patu and McLaren at the South End capacity meeting? If so, what were their comments? What were the comments from Carr and Peaslee? What was Martin-Morris's excuse for not attending?

Anonymous said…
Sacajawea to JAMS also unlikely to fly politically. Again not disbelieving number analysis, but if you've watched the district as long as I have you'll know that politics trump data 9 times out of 10.

Greenwood dad to be said…
I'm going to be a parent this winter so I'm watching this with interest. But it wasn't all that long ago that I was a student in a Southern California school district that was going through a similar growth spurt. They had closed a bunch of schools in the late '70s but by the early '90s they were reopening them as fast as they could. I was in the GATE program, a CA version of APP, in elementary and middle school.

Because of the growing enrollment, I was shifted around a lot. Starting in 4th and 5th grade I was bused across town to a school where the advanced cohorts were put into a single class shared with neighborhood students. We were tracked into a nearby middle school for 6th grade. But the entire school was uprooted and moved across town to a new location for 7th and 8th grade so renovations could be done to the school's original campus.

In 8th grade a boundary change was made to the high schools, so my cohort was split in half. People I'd been in school with since kindergarten were sent off to one HS while I went to another.

Through it all, as a kid, my friends and I adjusted just fine. Kids are very adaptable, more than their parents realize. My parents were very upset at each of the three big upheavals I experienced in school, but in retrospect it wasn't warranted. So I understand where Seattle parents are coming from, I too would like to know where my kid will be going to kindergarten in 2019, but the idea that APP cohorts might be moved or split is probably not a serious issue to the students themselves.

I will say that some other aspects of these proposed boundary changes appear needlessly complicated, and I am curious to see the final results of Eden's promising suggestions.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
1 last item: Hamilton portable capacity is limited not by the district but by the city, whose land surrounds it. Taking part of the park is not an option. There are a couple buildings in the district where you'd think portables would be the solution but cannot be because of city land.

Charlie, did you see Board members at the meeting you attended? At the one I was at, they just listened and circulated. Good luck getting an opinion out of them publicly.

If others attend the WS meeting tonight, let us know what Board members attend. I'll put up an Open Thread.

New Greenwood Dad, first, welcome to the club. You will find it a wonderful but really taxing club to be in.

Second, you are way ahead of the game in your calm outlook. Kids mirror the worries of their parents and, while it is very important to fight for good academics, realizing you can't get everything you or your child wants is an important lesson.

Good for you.
Benjamin Leis said…
I have one piece of advice for anyone trying to come up with independent counter plans for the transition period. If you're proposing to significantly affect another school, the right thing to do is to reach out to their PTA and discuss your ideas with them.

Anonymous said…
-In response to Melissa’s comment - "A claim that there were four downtown parents at one table and their children had nowhere to go."

I was one of the downtown parents who Melissa is referring to.
The representative chosen to scribe and present our table’s issues to the larger group did not quite voice our issue correctly. To be fair, out of respect for the fact this was a North End meeting, Downtown/SLU parents did not spend a lot of time giving the rest of the table a detailed explanation. Downtown/SLU parents were not claiming that we don't have anywhere to send our kids, like all parents in the district we have an assigned school. We were voicing concern over the fact that we don't have a neighborhood elementary school to build our growing community around.

The following is a section of a letter sent by John Hay(JH) to existing JH parents living downtown. I am including it below as it frames part of the issue nicely.

Why did John Hay’s boundary change?
John Hay has over 550 students enrolled and is overcapacity. The proposed boundaries were drawn to account for current and future student enrollment. The current boundary is unusually large and encompasses neighborhoods growing quickly in population density. The enrollment boom from downtown students has outpaced district growth, growing by 21% over the period 2007 – 2011, versus 9% for overall district enrollment growth over the same period. Downtown neighborhoods are home to over 700 children aged 19 and under. Population of children under 5 years old has increased downtown by 60% between 1990 and 2010, and increased by 27% in Queen Anne for the same period. The growth planned for downtown neighborhoods includes development of over 10,000 residential units in the near term.

Thank you,

Joe Wolf said…
As one of the SPS staff supporting these actions, my perspective:

"- looking at the Interim Site list Year-by-Year, I noticed that they had Loyal Heights AND Bagley in John Marshall in the same school year, 2018-2019. I asked and it turns out each will take a half-year turn in the building. Apparently."

Melissa, you asked me to clarify this, and I responded to you clearly and directly. There was no "apparently" about it. If you need additional context or clarification on an issue in the future, please don't make your follow-up a snarky, patronizing sidebar in next morning's blog post. Just ask.

If the two parents who are smart planners are who I think they are, I count them both as professional peers and friends, and I am deeply grateful for their insight and advice regarding SPS' planning challenges. To insinuate (again) otherwise is just plain wrong. I encourage you to contact them yourself and verify my statement here.

Joe Wolf, K-12 Planning Coordinator
Seattle Public Schools
Mike, thank you for that clarification. It's too bad that it came out that way from your table speaker.

We have discussed a downtown elementary here many times and no one is against it. But, as the Superintendent told the Mayor, there is room at area schools for every single downtown child. There is not for areas of NE/N and West Seattle.

I'm all for it and I have to wonder why downtown businesses are not jumping in to aid this idea.

Joe, that probably came out differently than I wanted it to. I meant that's quite the logistic lift for both schools AND the district. Not that it wouldn't happen. I didn't mean it in a snarky manner.

Also, you haven't been in the district long (or not at your current post) but most of us have had the experience of seeing parents with professional status attempt to give data or ideas to staff only to be ignored. If things are changing, great. But allow us who have been here a long time a some allowance for disbelief.
Charlie Mas said…
The District is good about talking about mitigation and promising mitigation, but they are terrible at providing mitigation.

I know that I have said this countless times before, but I will say it again.

The APP community needs to opt their children out of all standardized tests until the District fulfills all of their commitments to that community.

Stop taking the tests NOW. Stop taking the MAP. Stop taking the MSP. Take only the HSPE and the EOC because they are required for graduation. Refuse everything else.

When the District fulfills their promises then they will get the test scores again. And not before.
kellie said…
Hello Eden and other new folks to the annual capacity management party.

One thing that people need to consider in their independent analysis and plans is some baseline information about how space has been utilized over the last few years.

The capacity "troubles" have been ongoing in the NE every year since 2006 and the intensity of the issue has morphed and migrated but it has not diminished. During this time, every year, there have been people from the district and the community that have walked all the district, examining buildings, looking for some "extra room" to place some of the extra kids.

Any plan that is based on some "un-utilized space" is unlikely to prove true. Seriously, if a school, in a very crowded part of town, has a room somewhere that could be turned into a classroom, someone else, somewhere has reported this. The space challenges are severe enough that there are lots of eyeballs looking for extra spaces.

The numbers from the district are very challenging to read for parent and community members. They are often hard to read even for folks like myself that have followed this for a long time

The largest reason for this is the impact of Special Education on the reporting. For the most part, extra services require extra space. These more space intensive needs tend to vanish from the reports.

A simple and not very controversial example, is legally required pre-school service. There are some services that the district is legally required to provide to pre-schoolers. These services require a homeroom and typically that homeroom just "disappears" in the capacity report.

So a very reasonable person will look at a building that has a number of 300 and think, hey, I know that there were 400 people there and they can squeeze in a few more. However, if you don't have access to the corresponding information that 4 homerooms have now gone to special education services, this is not visible.

For years now, I have said that we run out of the "easy" space in 2013 and IMHO we have.

At some point, we lose the ability to even continue to add portables and we are very close to that point.

Anonymous said…
@ Eden

I'm confused by this statement:
"--JAMS neighborhood kids role up at JAMS starting in 2014. JAK8 could stay until 2016 and they might be able to do it without more portables, but I'm uncertain."

Are you talking about no more portables than what are at the JA site now (4 portable classrooms), or no more portables than in Option 1 of the District's plan, in which John Rogers, Olympic Hills/Cedar Park and Olympic View kids roll up a JAMS, using a projected 15-16 portable classrooms + quad modular core space by the 2015-16 school year? These projections do not include APP or Sacajawea kids in the mix.

The K-8 is currently filling the building, plus the 4 portables on-site. I believe the K-8's enrollment is approximately 780 students. K-8s use space less-efficiently than comprehensive middle schools, so while it might seem that 780 is not enough to overfill the building, it actually is.

The Jane Addams building, after being re-purposed as a comprehensive middle school, will have a capacity of 960. Its capacity as a middle school is less than that now. Re-purposing construction will take place over the next three summers, so the JA building should be able to house a middle school of 960 kids by 2017 (without portables).

Assuming the K-8 maintains their preferred 3 classroom/grade configuration, with a 6 classroom per grade bump in the current 6th grade class, by the 2015-16 school year there will be approximately 450 elementary-aged kids and approximately 740 middle school-aged kids co-housed at Jane Addams, for just under 1200 total students. This is based upon John Rogers, Olympic Hills/Cedar Park and Olympic View feeding into JAMS.

All this assumes that co-housing will be for only two years (2014-15 and 2015-16), which is dependent, of course, on the new K-8 building being ready at the Pinehurst site in time for Fall 2016 occupancy.

-North-end Mom
kellie said…
Ben's advice while wonderfully polite is no longer very practical. The situation in the crowded parts of town has morphed into

Very crowded
Crowded with borderline safety issues
Crowded with actual safety issues

There isn't anyone in the north end who is likely to reply, oh yeah, repurpose our program! Pinehurst has been is a little diaspora this year, wandering the north end in search of a village of portables. Folks have been looking for creative answers for years now and the public vetting of information has been critical in getting better ideas on the table.

Now there are some extremely NIMBY approaches and some more balanced approached. I think Mike's note above is one of the more reasonable ones about the downtown issues and north end mom pointed out a lot of useful facts regarding Jane Addams.

I really do believe that the vetting of other ideas can lead to better answers.

The bottom line of this round is that there is no space. All we are doing is redistribution of the over crowding so that everyone gets their "fair share" of discomfort.

It should be a warning sign of how much crowding we are examining that the 20 portables at Eckstein is now so normal that the Jane Addams plan is based on 23 portables.

Frankly the only thing that isn't on the table (yet) seems to be shifted schedule. We could get everyone into a comprehensive school with split shifts. But that seems to me to be the worst of the bad options.
Anonymous said…
The one thing I always think is missing in these discussions is institutional memory, of which SPS seems to have none.. does anyone in the NE recall the olden days (or have parents, grandparents, neighbors that do/attended), when Lincoln WAS a high school, Decatur WAS an elementary, and both Sacajawea and Wegewood fed into brand new Jane Addams and Nathan Hale? How many kids were in SPS in the 60's and 70's compared to now? (before the big bust, school closures and bussing?) we have a lack of seats, but are missing a bunch of schools that were closed, sold off, etc the last time the bubble burst. U-Heights, QA High, Cedar Park, etc. this is not the first baby boom seattle (or any other city) experienced. I recall some story that View Ridge was all-portables on the property as the building was built. This situation is not unique! Where are the boundary maps from the last big baby boom? This time let's make a plan for growth that also incorporates closures/consolidations which can be un-done as the population booms next. It seems that every district in the country must encounter this? where are the best practices? the 30-year plans?

Anonymous said…
PS my kids actually prefer the portables. in elementary the tradeoff of lost playground space is not good, but why are we so anti-middle school portables? at eckstein or addams (who both have established tracks and sports fields which cannot be un-done by portables) it just means less teacher parking, right? or am i missing other draw backs in the middle/high school context?
Anonymous said…
For the history buffs: The history of the Jane Addams building through the Summit years:

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Reposting for anonymous, above in case it is deleted for being un-signed.

" Anonymous said...
PS my kids actually prefer the portables. in elementary the tradeoff of lost playground space is not good, but why are we so anti-middle school portables? at eckstein or addams (who both have established tracks and sports fields which cannot be un-done by portables) it just means less teacher parking, right? or am i missing other draw backs in the middle/high school context?"

An answer: Portable classrooms aren't necessarily all that bad, but the problem arises when there are too many portables for the core building facilities to support. At some point, there is not enough room in the cafeteria for lunch, even in multiple shifts. At some point, there are not enough bathrooms, or the existing bathrooms become over-crowded to the point of being dangerous. At some point, kids are not allowed access to lockers, because opening the lockers constricts the hallways during passing time for all those not-so-little bodies.

Eckstein is at this point. Unless "quad modular core space" includes bathrooms, a lunchroom, a library, lockers, etc... then Jane Addams will be in the same shape as Eckstein is now, or more likely worse than that, by 2015-16. Oh, except over 400 of those bodies in the crowded halls will be little people.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
North-end mom you bring up an interesting point. I understand JA K8 has strongly advocated to stay in the building while the new one is built, but honestly why do parents want to keep their elementary kids surrounded by so many middle schoolers? Seems like the teenagers are going to swamp that space if the MS and APP are both rolling up in there as of next year.

Anonymous said…
Ah, thanks Joe. The District is lucky to have you, I hope you will choose to stay with the District so that our kids can benefit from your leadership.

Given your experience and talent, the Superintendent's cabinet needs to have you at their table, so that you can guide them through what is going to be an extraordinarily difficult five years. Given the squeeze on facilities, there simply is no room for forces from without (or from within) to gerrymander or play politicals and interfer with the professionals.

You and the other facilities professional that I am most familiar with are outstanding , and I hope that you will be able bring forth vision for our high school dilemma because it can't wait, despite what the Assistant Superintendent said at this meeting. But, this you know already. He'll catch up to you, he's new.

I want to get you money to build. I'm trying. It is an ambitious target, I know, and certainly it could sure use a lot more attention than what it is currently garnering. There are some strong members of the Board (Ms. Carr, thank you for asking all the right questions), and it remains my fervent hope that Mr. Banda will become the number one cheerleader in the chorus of "get money from the State, get land/facilities from the City. That's the only way Seattle will be able to capitalize on the 10 year enrollment trend (hint, look at incoming kindergarten class sizes) and repopulate itself with the "missing families" who were deflected away to the suburbs back in the day. Spells incredibly great things for our City if the District can manage this growth successfully. Here's hoping. And you Joe, you're a large part of how this will be able to work itself out. I truly hope you don't get headhunted away from us. Can't help but notice that there has been a trend of some of the best talent from JSCEE vamoosing. That concerns me. I certainly hope Mr. Banda will recognize the best and the brightest in his team and ensure that they are protected and know that they are valued. That should be his #1 job as a CEO: get the best people and empower them to do their jobs, that, and, lean hard on Olympia and the Mayor to get resources, and then photograph nicely for the newspaper photographers as he accepts the check.

(And no, Mel wasn't talking about us)

Thank you


Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

COVID Issues Heating up for Seattle Public Schools