Growth Boundary Fallout and Infighting

A heartfelt message from David Elliot, principal at Queen Anne Elementary expressing some anguish for a situation out of his control.  (Principal Elliot's data on QA/Magnolia growth/enrollment.) I was aware of the unhappiness at Coe over their tight quarters AND that there was some advocacy for QA Elementary's   geozone to change to include more neighborhood students but it looks like it went a step farther.

I feel this is an important part of the discussion and find no fault with concern on the part of any parent.  But when you pit school against school, it does no good.  The fine regional group cited in the message is no more but I believe each region should have its own group just to prevent this kind of distrust and unhappiness.

To note: this blog hears from many parents on many topics.  If you are planning something at your school or region and believe no one outside the school or region will find out, you'd likely be wrong.  It might make sense to step back and ask yourself, "How would this look to outside eyes?"

Mr. Elliot's Message:
I want to inform you today about an ongoing discussion regarding the Growth Management draft proposals from Seattle Public Schools and it’s impact on Queen Anne schools in particular. I am writing this for our QAE school community but with the understanding that it will very likely be read by a wider audience. Because of that I am struggling with the content. I am well aware that just about anything written can be understood in different ways and used by others in ways the writer did not intend. However, I have been dismayed that the discussion about the draft recommendations has taken a negative tone in our community and my intention is that this letter will help reverse that. 

First, if you are unaware of this discussion I apologize for bringing you into it and you may feel free to stop reading here and go on about your day. 

Given that, I want to begin with a statement that my intention with this letter is absolutely to reconcile and not to inflame. If I state something as fact you obviously know that it is how I see it personally and professionally as Principal of Queen Anne Elementary. I will not attempt to argue for or against any point of view, just that we need to be civil, respectful and truly believe that all of us have the best interests of our schools and our children at heart. Years ago I had the privilege of meeting John Stanford when he was the Superintendent of our school district and he shared something with our small group that has stayed with me years later. He spoke about how in his life he believed he had to take every conversation, every interaction at face value. If someone complimented him he took it to heart and would not look for some ulterior motive or wonder if they were trying to get something from him. If someone said “I love you” he embraced it and if someone had something negative he had to try to understand and solve it if he could. The interesting part is that I got to see evidence that he did live that philosophy out. I shared the story of this discussion with a friend and soon thereafter my friend walked into an elevator occupied by Mr. Stanford and his son. My friend is not shy and felt the need to test my story so he turned, looked at him and said, “Mr. Stanford, I love you.” Without hesitation and with nothing on his face but appreciation the reply was “Thank you, I love you too.” I’ve lived with that memory for many years and certainly have not lived by it as I wish I could but I hope the spirit of that can be alive in any of our discussions about what’s best for our schools, our children and our community. 

Our school community of Queen Anne and Magnolia has worked closely together for many years, with that cooperation aided by an organization called Successful Schools in Action that served us for about six years. The collaboration between schools was intentional and included principals, teachers and parent organizations. We shared resources, programs and space. When overcrowding issues came up about six years ago and we disagreed with the district proposal the principals developed a solution of our own that included Coe adding a new kindergarten instead of John Hay because of the negative impact another classroom would have had on Hay. I believe that evidence is abundant that our community has a history of working together and that I personally have been committed to that collaboration. I am certainly willing to be involved again.

When the draft proposal for the Growth Management was announced it began discussions for all of us. Every school has been touched by it in some way, either being included or not being included in the recommendations. At QAE we looked at a proposal of 525 students and a significant high needs population on this site and have many questions. The buildings we live in were deemed unsuitable for an elementary school almost thirty years ago and a few bathrooms, Wi-Fi, an elevator and some new floors do not change the basic nature of the buildings and site. Those concerns are of paramount importance to us, to our students and concerns we will be discussing among our community in the weeks and months ahead. I have asked for a site visit from facilities leadership so they can see for themselves our concerns about spaces. At other schools in our region the issues are different but just as real and just as timely. 

My concern is how these issues have been addressed. As we were beginning our own QAE discussions it came to my attention that the Coe community was suggesting that changes be made to our Option School status in an attempt to alleviate the overcrowding on Queen Anne. While there may be some merit to this suggestion I was completely taken by surprise that this was advocated in the public forum of the Growth Management feedback sessions and then through a postcard campaign to Superintendent Banda. While I would be willing to meet and discuss this proposal I am stunned that this was done without any engagement with me personally as the leader of Queen Anne Elementary or with our greater community. I believe my history will show that I am willing to collaborate and communicate. I will meet with anyone in any forum to discuss this—I simply ask to be included. 

I believe the paragraph above is factual and I want to move on from here without rancor, without name calling, without blame and with a deep belief that we all care about our kids, all our kids. I gave ten years of my life to the students and community of Coe and I still care deeply for the staff, many of whom I hired, and for the parents I developed relationships with. If you don’t know us at QAE I can assure you that our focus is to provide the best possible environment for every child who walks through our doors—to love them and support their academic, social and emotional growth while they are with us. I know the same is true at Coe, John Hay, Blaine, Lawton and McClure. If you are interested in finding out what kind of people we are, what we believe about kids, what we believe about education—you are welcome to visit at any time and come to your own conclusions about our school.

I believe the first step is to continue to inform our QAE community about the realities of our school site, the data that SPS is using to make decisions and long-term projections for our school. We have created a page on our website that reviews the available data. You can review it here.

I will invite a discussion if one is needed about the issues facing us, with the deep understanding that we all care for our own schools and for the greater community of schools in Seattle.Q


mirmac1 said…
I think the Principal's statement is very well put and nails it.

I have heard undercurrents of resentment that the new, improved special education service delivery model may sited at certain schools. I would remind the mutterers that for students who need anything beyond resource room (you know, the 1:89 on the autism spectrum), there is NO guaranteed assignment. Even though the law says they are, purportedly, general education student "FIRST!" and, under the law, will be served in the school they would attend, but for their disability. Sorry for the obtuse phrasing but it is Federal law.
Unknown said…
Wow. I really appreciate the analysis and data that he's posted on the QAE site.

I wonder if this look has been taken for other North end schools "Real" capacity?
Anonymous said…
It's a very well written and respectful letter. I'm hoping David Elliot has already initiated the conversation with all of the schools in Magnolia and Queen Anne??
I also appreciate the data that he put together. It appears he is using numbers from the last projection report. Even the district's "high" projections seem to be well below the reality of what is happening in QA. QAE is struggling with a very limited amount of space and without many of the basics. Kudos to them for continuing to attract so many families with such weak facilities. Why is the district filling QAE with 25% from "other areas" when there are children from Coe and Hay wanting/needing to get in as well?? Is that an option school must? Coe has over a 100 kindergartners this year, and that sort of growth is not sustainable in a school meant for 450 (currently at 515). Coe is the only QA school that can't add portables for more space, so I assume that is why the principal felt like she should suggest some possible solutions, instead of just complaining?? It is unfortunate the Successful School In Action group dissolved. It sounds as though they were the driving force behind the communication and collaboration that Mr. Elliot speaks so highly of. I guess the real question is- why isn't the executive director filling that role?
TS, great question.
Anonymous said…
School Design:

A problem with Coe is the amount of wasted space. Future remodels and new constructions should consider a more efficient use of space that puts students first.

Coe alumni
mirmac1 said…
TS, that is the philosophy of "option schools". Except in our current situation, that must go out the window. Why should language immersion schools or STEM schools be permitted to control their enrollment while the rest must absorb the influx? Conversely, why must the district feed the the "option school" scenario when enrollment is in crisis mode? Who must we serve? The dual language, alt school, STEM, Montesorri, APP/Spectrum group? Or the neighborhood, special education, ELL, every (frickin') else crowd of which the vast majority of us count ourselves among? At the same time, I do not wish to feed the divisive beast the previous SPS administration has mindlessly created. For that reason I appreciate Elliot's carefully worded letter. I could not aspire to his thoughtful politic.

As for the Successful School in Action group going away, I can't speak to that. But I fear that those who push charters or Creative Approach schools can find it too convenient to disappear when the rubber hits the road...
Anonymous said…
@mirmac: "I have heard undercurrents of resentment that the new, improved special education service delivery model may sited at certain schools. I would remind the mutterers that for students who need anything beyond resource room (you know, the 1:89 on the autism spectrum), there is NO guaranteed assignment."

My understanding is that there is no implementation plan for that new service delivery model. Have you seen concrete proof that options are expanding come 2014-2015 for students with disabilities closer to home?

Anonymous said…
We live outside the Queen Anne area and drive our child to QAE because it's a fantastic school with incredible staff and a focus on using technology to teach kids that we found appealing. Our neiborhood school is OK but very under-resourced compared to QAE, and without the community feel that QAE has.

Option schools are not supposed to be just a way to relieve crowding in an area, they're supposed to be an alternative to a neighborhood school. If you need to relieve crowding, build another neighborhood school. The district had the choice to do that when they moved the World School out of the Old Hay campus and created QAE. They chose an option school instead.

Queen Anne as a community is getting some relief with the boundary changes moving downtown into the Lowell reference area. That will help at John Hay. That Coe isn't getting any of the benefits of that change is uncool.

But taking away a program (like what is happening to Pinehurst) is a pretty cruel way to solve overcrowding at a nearby school. That Coe organized a letter writing campaign around taking away our program is hurtful. I think you can hear that in Mr. Elliot's letter. And as a family that isn't affluent enough to live on Queen Anne, it comes across as elitist to say that QAE should only be open to the extremely affluent Queen Anne neighborhood. Just like it feels unfair that only families who can afford to live in Wallingford get access to language immersion.

Because I don't live on Queen Anne, I would be open to moving our program if necessary. Maybe we can be that downtown school that the district seems to like so much? With our tech focus, being in SLU would be a natural fit, and not far from where most of our students currently live. But I obviously don't speak for our whole community--there are plenty of parents who chose QAE for its proximity to their homes.

I just wish the parents at Coe had talked to us about all this and about how we can find solutions that work for all of us, instead of organizing a letter-writing campaign asking to have our program dismantled and/or access to it limited to only the wealthy few.

QAE Parent
mirmac1 said…
reader, I have heard from Tracy Libros herself. And from the mutterers.
Anonymous said…
Siting of special ed services in the new delivery model: First cut of the list has been out publicly since Sept 17. It's in the narrative "Growth Boundaries Handout" pg 2 - this is not the slideshow. Has Special Ed weighed in on these? I haven't seen anything here. For ease, I will cut/paste below (forgive any wonky formatting):

Designate capacity for intensive ("self‐contained”) special education continuum services to support  new service delivery model. Space is set aside at these planned sites:

o Arbor Heights   o B. F. Day  o Broadview‐Thomson  o Daniel Bagley  o Graham Hill   o Hawthorne o Highland Park o Leschi o Lowell o Loyal Heights o Olympic View o Pathfinder K‐8 o Queen Anne o Schmitz Park at Genesee Hill o South Shore PreK‐8 o Stevens o Thornton Creek o Van Asselt o View Ridge o Wing Luke
                                   Location of sites may change based on final design of new service delivery model and due to changing student needs over  time. Because the new model under development consolidates some services, [Note: footnote cut off?]  
   Consolidate some West Seattle special education preschool services as part of an Early Learning  Center to serve students with disabilities along with typically developing peers. Locate at current  Schmitz Park building after Genesee Hill building opens. 

So -- those are some changes. I know that some of the north end has advocated for SpEd to be at the new Olympic Hills rather than APP, b/c it's a neighborhood use and more effective for SpEd to be in the new ADA compliant building than the older Oly View. Several of those buildings are on the remodel or new list - Bagley, Thornton Creek, Loyal Heights, Arbor Heights. That's part of why the "new" capacity of the "new" building isn't as big as people think.

I wonder how staff, public, or Board can consider boundaries without the SpEd being fully landed. If these schools change out, how does that impact a school's boundaries? Apparently BF Day's are being shrunk so it can accommodate a lot of SpEd - has the impact of that on the BF Day community being fully vetted? Is it an appropriate school for SpEd? Should SpEd be put in older schools or newer buildings or does the district not consider that at all?

Signed: Questions
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Coe parents are suggesting solutions to a troublesome situation that is impacting their children. QAE community should not take it personally. Seems odd that anyone would describe it as hurtful. It is hurtful to not care about what is happening at other schools in your neighborhood.

Unknown said…
I have been fielding a lot of questions regarding SpEd and PTSA. Here is my standard email response to questions regarding special education and the "New Model." It is likely SEAAC and SpEd PTSA will have more of a consensus once the interim plan is out there. NOTE: The following does NOT constitute any kind of official response from SpEd PTSA or SEAAC. It's just me.

"We have had lots of questions about these kinds of issues the last few days. The first thing that people need to be aware of is that the current model is only a draft and will be revised by next Friday, October 18, when a new draft will be presented to the board. When the next draft is ready, SpEd PTSA and SEAAC will be primed to review it (as will many other PTA’s.) Final presentation and voting at the school board level will be on Wednesday, November 20 at the regular school board meeting. A great resource page is available at Clicking on some of the links for handouts is very useful.

I have identified four concerns from people's comments:
1. That the new growth boundaries need to support the "New Model" of special education service delivery
2. That English Language Learner (ELL) services are available to any student who qualifies for both special education services and ELL
3. That students who receive special education services are not being redlined or being forced to travel too far to buildings to receive services
4. That there should not be a disproportionate amount of special education services being delivered at one or more buildings.

The handout of linked schools, for some reason, discusses ELL and APP, but not SpEd. The information about the location of "intensive services" at elementary schools is located here: Intensive services are labeled Behavioral, Contained and Distinct in the new model (BCD). Access(A)is the name for “resource room type services” combined with access to general ed for those students in the more intensive models when gen ed access is desired.

(As "Question" noted)The following elementary schools are being designated as capacity for intensive special education continuum services to support new service delivery model (this would include Hawthorne.) Space is set aside at twenty planned sites:

o Arbor Heights (ELL available at Roxhill)
o B. F. Day
o Broadview-Thomson
o Daniel Bagley (ELL available at B. F. Day)
o Graham Hill
o Hawthorne
o Highland Park
o Leschi (ELL available at John Muir)
o Lowell (ELL available at Stevens)
o Loyal Heights (ELL available at Adams)
o Olympic View (ELL available at Olympic Hills)
o Pathfinder K-8 ?
o Queen Anne ?
o Schmitz Park at Genesee Hill (ELL available at Gatewood)
o South Shore PreK-8 ?
o Stevens
o Thornton Creek ?
o Van Asselt
o View Ridge (ELL available at Sand Point)
o Wing Luke
Anonymous said…
questions, what about middle school, boundaries proposals, and sped 2014_15?

also questions
Unknown said…
Location of sites may change based on final design of new service delivery model and due to changing student needs over time. Some West Seattle special education preschool services will be consolidated as part of an Early Learning Center to serve students with disabilities along with typically developing peers. This will be located at current Schmitz Park building after Genesee Hill building opens.

I have coded the schools to indicate availability of ELL services. Schools with nothing after their name have ELL services available in the building. Schools which don't have any services have the "linked" schools after their name. I was not able to identify whether or not there were ELL services available at 4 K-8 schools. These schools' names are followed by a question mark. Of the remaining 16 schools, half (8) have no in-school ELL services and are have a linked school for ELL services. (ELL services are available at all middle and high schools.) This would seem like it would mean families would have to choose between ELL and SpEd services, which is illegal. I need clarification on this issue from Tracy Libros.

The effect this may have on a particular building may mean capacity drops by 100 students or more. This is because in elementary schools, grade banding will mean that for every service, you will need two classrooms. With full implementation of the ABCD model at a school, this will mean four classrooms per school of special educations students (per Tracy Libros.) Different schools may have different combinations of A with B, A with C and A with D. I have not heard that all four services will be available in the same building. As an example if you have two self-contained classroom, your school will also have two access classrooms.

In conclusion, it does seem there has been an effort to identify schools for full implementation of the ABCD model. ELL services and SpEd services should be available in these buildings and fully half do not accommodate that mandate. This point needs some sort of explanation or adjustment. The effect that this has on certain buildings may mean a higher concentration of SpEd students as well as a drop in capacity.

Rollout of the ABCD model this year has been minimal. There are 7,000 students who receive special education services. The rollout has begun in seven schools with the Access (A) program only, so it has impacted about 70 students or 1% of the special education enrollment. From what I have heard from SpEd leadership, there are some kinks in the program that need to get ironed out. I have not heard any complaints from any families who are receiving the new services. People need to keep in mind that the ABCD model AKA the "New Model" of special education service delivery was developed with parental input. It is being rolled out slowly to prevent the kind of issues that happened with the rollout of the previous inclusion model that flopped due to lack of planning and support.

I don't know the district well enough to know if the amount of rumor that is being generated about this issue is normal in this situation or not, but there are a lot of rumors floating around. For one school in particular that I have heard comments on, and that "Questions" also mentioned, the drop in capacity may also be attributed to an incorrect room census. Someone from enrollment services went to B. F. Day today to recount the classrooms.

That's what I know/think at this point.
Anonymous said…
Re-posting an anonymous comment so that it doesn't get deleted:

When the District decided to open a new school in 2010 on Queen Anne and selected popular principal, David Elliott, to lead it; one of the expressed reasons was to alleviate crowding at Coe and Hay.

When the District designated QAE as an Option School in order to fulfill their desire to have an OS in every Middle School catchment, it complicated the plan to address overcrowding. When QAE later applied to become a Creative Approach School, it gave that school a classroom student cap and the ability to go around Union hiring requirements. Why shouldn't every school be entitled to these benefits and safeguards for education?

Hay's playground has been taken over by portables and classrooms are being stashed in hallways. Coe has an ELL population that is not being well served and there are safety issues with over-crowding at Coe.

As early as 2008 the Seattle Times coverage showed that Queen Anne was heading toward a capacity issue. It's not clear why the District did not know this or did not act on it.

The three schools on the Hill have much to be upset about. As much as Mr. Elliott is upset with Coe, Coe can be upset with QAE. And, Hay should be totally up-in-arms.

To the District– It's time to clean up this mess. It's going to require compromises on the part of all three schools. It seems reasonable to at least ask that the Board and S/I consider changing QAE's boundaries at least for the short run. 2019 is a long ways away when you are teaching and learning in an overcrowded school.

Anonymous said…
IMHO the reason QAE is a great school is not because you can't swing a dead cat in there without hitting a computer. The tech focus really means a lot of computers. Period. There is no special focus on teaching tech, although the place is awash in devices, and some teachers use them well.

No, the reason QAE is great is that all the teachers and the super parents who are involved are rowing the boat in the same direction. Everyone is pulling together and everyone shows up enthusiastic and ready to work hard and with love for kids and learning in their hearts.

You may argue with me, and I am sure you will, but this is because the principal could hire whom he wanted. I think every principal should be able to. There is a lot of dead wood in the teacher pool, to mix a metaphor, and being able to build a school without that dead wood is huge.

I think the union hiring guidelines help one group of people only, poor teachers. They hurt every other party, most importantly the kids.

Some teachers claim that they can't trust the principal to know if they are good or not. Those of us who spend our working lives in the non-union world have all had bosses like that. Your job is to figure out what your boss needs to succeed, and be part of a team that supports that. The "close your door and teach" model doesn't serve kids.

At QAE, the staff are a team, the parents support it, and the kids benefit. Take all the "tech" out of the school, and it'd still be a great place. Every school should be.

We come in from outside the neighborhood, and are happy to be in a school where you don't cringe every summer, wondering if you will have a good year or not. Every teacher is good. That's why we drive our kids there every day.

Not saying we "deserve" it. If the boundaries change or not is not up to us, and if things change, we'll adapt. But I do believe every school should be able to hire whom they want.

Another QAE family
Anonymous said…

JA K-8 @ Pinehurst is not on the list of Sped schools? Currently, I believe they have self-contained sped classrooms, plus ELL, and I believe developmental preschool classes as part of their program in the Jane Addams building. I thought there were plans for Sped classrooms at the new building at the Pinehurst site?

Also, doesn't Pinehurst (AS-1)also have developmental preschool classrooms housed in their building (which is due to be demolished this year)? Where will these preschool classrooms go?

Seems like they will have to shrink Olympic View by quite a bit, in order to put Sped in there, especially if it is to carry all the NNE sped population.

-North-end Mom
Two things:

Why shouldn't every school be entitled to these benefits and safeguards for education?

Actually, every school can apply for Creative Approach. That QU Elementary did (and it was approved) doesn't mean they got some special benefit. There was work involved.

As for the cap on Option schools, that I do believe is an issue. For where we are now as a district with capacity issues, it makes little sense to cap enrollment - IF there is space in a building - if all the other regular schools are stuffed to the gills. I could see expanding the geozone, for example.

But the district would be wise not to let this fester because clearly there is unhappiness to go around.

Second, please do NOT hijack a thread. I'm going to reprint Mary's info on Sped in a separate thread because I think it good and important information. It will be buried here in a thread about overcrowding in QA/Magnolia.
Anonymous said…
TS wrote:
"Why is the district filling QAE with 25% from "other areas" when there are children from Coe and Hay wanting/needing to get in as well?"

A vast majority of those 25% at QAE are in upper grades, enrolled when the school was being built and people weren't sure they wanted their children to attend. The current QAE geozone sits exactly of the Hay Geozone because of the very high overcrowing there. The new proposed Hay boundaries should help Hay. It is unknown what the QAE Geozone will look like going forward. But if history serves, enrollment planning will draw it in such a way to give preference to the most crowded neighborhood school, which may or may not be Coe.

Also regarding the 25% - are you aware that of the 452 kids at Coe last year, 25% were NOT from the COE attendance area? (that is NOT including ELL students) Why does that happen?? Are you really suggesting QAE shouldn't have 25% non-McClure area kids when Coe has 25% non-Coe area kids? Please evaluate your own situation before throwing stones at another school. I'm sure there are many reasons for both "25%" situations, most of which are about who enrolled when, what grade level the students are in, etc. Not because of some plot to keep Coe (or Hay)kids out.

Bill -
The issue that has caused so many to be upset is NOT about the solutions that were proposed. Making a change to the Geozone should absolutely be considered. This issue IS about the Coe leadership (SPS and Parent) proposing and promoting solutions using incorrect, old data about QAE and making a proposal to change the school from Option format of the school WITHOUT even reaching out to the QAE leadership to inform them. And given the numbers, it likely wouldn't matter to Coe's capacity issue anyway.

What if QAE had decided they didn't have room for the new plan that Special Ed services be located at QAE - and started a very heavy campaign to move them to Coe based on last year's data? And never reached out to Coe about it? Upsetting,right?

1000% agree - where is the Exec Director in all of this?

Moose - where do you see in the QAE CAS a classroom cap component? I am pretty sure you have bad information there. Also - changing the GeoZone boundaries of QAE may or may not make a difference. Just like all over Seattle, ALL the schools on QA/Magnolia are already crowded - be it in the classroom, lunchroom, playground, and/or other areas. - including QAE. No new seats are going to magically appear just because a new geozone is drawn. This time next year, all the schools are still going to be full to the gills.

QA Parent
Anonymous said…
In trying to get news this morning I posted my comment in the wrong thread. Here is my thought.

Anonymous said...
A couple APP and SPED 'advocates' seem to hijack every other thread. Melissa thank you for the blog rules reminder about thread jacking and helping the parent community keep talking about many other important SPS issues. Makes the blog overall more helpful and informative. Keep up the great work.

Unknown said…
I certainly did not mean to hijack any threads. There was a lot of discussion of infighting. And a lot of it is aimed at special ed. I can understand why people do that. I really can. There are probably many reasons, but I think one of the reasons that people feel like SpEd is the enemy is that it is very hard to get accurate information from SPS on many issues, including SpEd. That is why I responded the way and where I did. I'm trying to provide the information that I have with a broader audience and cut down on some of the infighting.
Anonymous said…
I don't get why Seattle Schools is not putting proposed geozone information out with proposed boundaries. The shifting of enrollment between buildings will be driven by this on Queen Anne and in other overcrowded neighborhoods with optional schools.

Does anyone know when the geozone information will be available or why we do not have it yet? Or if we will be able to comment or change them?


Anonymous said…
QA parent,

I merely copied and re-posted an anonymous comment so that it wouldn't be deleted as per blog rules. I hated to see an on-topic discussion point get deleted. Just so you know, my kids are all out of elementary school so I am interested in this as an option school Geozone discussion and not as someone who has a stake in the outcome.

However, it does bring up a question for me. The data linked in David Elliot's letter does seem to cap class size at 26 and 28. I know from talking to others at Hay and Coe that their class sizes are larger. So are you saying that those numbers on the QAE website are wishes, not caps?

Anonymous said…
apologies - did not realize the repost.

As far as caps/class sizes, I don't know if those are real or wishes for the future.

QA Parent
Anonymous said…
QA Parent,
I am definitely not suggesting Coe, or Hay should be allowed to take students from out of zone, I am sorry for not being more clear about that. There does seem to be a lot of wait-list swapping going on between Hay and Coe though. My daughter has quite a handful of Hay zoned kids in her 2nd grade class at Coe (not ELL) and I've heard the same from friends at Hay. And as you said, the older grades are still being grandfathered from the old assignment plan in all schools, which skews the data for everyone.

Which brings us to heart of the problem: Staff are making boundary decisions based on innacurate data and projections. When they provide no rationale/reasoning for their proposals, it opens the door to these kinds of unintentional slights. At 515 students, Coe has already surpassed the district projections for 2016. In the spring they predicted 72 kindergartners and they got 102. It is time to evaluate how these projections are being created and used to make decisions.

It is maddening that SPS never responded when SPU alerted them that the property adjacent to the old North Queen Anne Elementary school (which the district still owns) was up for sale.

Moose, helpful comments all around.
Unknown said…
There are some great questions here.

Why is/was a growth boundaries plan being proposed without the Geo zones for the Options schools included? Seems important to the whole picture for all of SPS boundary discussion, not just Queen Anne.


Anonymous said…
To Eden -

Not sure why you're assuming options schools weren't already included in the growth boundary planning. I believe it was mentioned earlier (or perhaps in Mr. Elliot's mail) that the District has already slotted QAE to grow to handle a similar number of kids as the other QA schools, well over 500. In fact, the data shows QAE is already handling the lion's share of the growth in our district.

McClure District Parent
Anonymous said…
QAE has capped class sizes and the neighborhood schools do not. As long as that is the case, QAE will continue to be in the conversation as a possible solution to the capacity issue.

That being said - I thought QAE's capped class sizes were due to the facilities/physical classroom size, not its status as an option school.

Anonymous said…
To Bill -

It would be great if it were as simple as cap or no cap.

Your question about space/facilities is a good additional consideration. Looking at square footage per student is important. Mr Elliot's email and QAE website have good data on this.

McClure District Parent
Anonymous said…
QAE has district-mandated class sizes, with no special dispensation based on its CAS or option school status. The district determines classroom capacity based on the facilites. With 1/3 of QAE's classrooms at 700 sq feet (compared to the district standard of 1,000), it is no surprise that QAE's classes may be smaller. That said, current class sizes at QAE are 26 for the primary grades, and 28 for the upper grades -- not much of a dispensation at all.

The district reports that Coe and Hay draw 10-13% of their students from outside either of their geozones. That is a problem, given their overcrowding issues, and counter to the very notion of a neighborhood school. Seems to me that the district needs to be doing a better job of limiting enrollment at these neighborhood schools to just their respective geozones.

QAE parent
Anonymous said…
I think Coe and Hay should apply for Creative Option status. Melissa is right. It is available for all. But, if we go down this road, do we in fact make the problem worse. Likely yes. This may be an option that we cannot afford now.

Can we not think communally? While Mr Elliott may be upset about the communication from Coe parents, it's not personal. It's looking at the District and throwing out options to help alleviate over-crowding in two schools. The District has been silent as far as Coe is concerned. And, the District Director is nowhere in site.

QAE is not at capacity yet. As far as the 25% out of area at Coe, it likely is because kids in the upper grades got in when there was not an enrollment crisis. At QAE it is the policy of an Option School to accept kids from out of the area.

Hmmm what are wise solutions to this problem. What can each team on the hill contribute to solving this capacity issue.
Po3 said…
If there is room at QE Elem and students on the wait list then I too would be upset if I was at a over subscribed school down the street.

All schools needs to be packed to the gills - regardless of their Option status or creative approach status.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous in the post immediately before, your comments have been addressed by others earlier.

Mr. Elliot's primary concern is that the Coe communication was done about QAE WITHOUT QAE's involvement or consultation. Surely you can see how these methods, irrespective of the subject, can be taken personally.

It's been mentioned earlier QAE's out of district students are also largely due to upper grades enrollment from prior years. Both schools have same issue.

Yes, Coe is over capacity. And QAE has less space and facilities per student. Hay suffers on both fronts. Which is why solutions should include and support all the schools in our district.

Working with the District collectively to discuss and generate solutions TOGETHER is what's needed, not separate campaigns.

Concerned QAE Parent
Louise said…
Sounds like they should put reopening the old Magnolia elementary bldg on the table.
mirmac1 said…
Louise, the building would have to be extensively upgraded to current codes. Not likely in this BEX.
Unknown said…
To McClure district parent-

Sorry, maybe how I posed the question didn't make sense.

I do assume that the options schools are included in the planning, but I don't think that the Geozones for any of them were defined in the proposed plan (which is now obsolete per the website).

I wasn't paying close attention to the QAE geozone in the proposal, but I'm pretty certain that JSIS and MCDondald did not have defined geozones in the recent plan. They were TBD, as I understood it.

Did I miss something?
Anonymous said…
QAE is packed to the gills - at the same lower grades that Coe is complaining about. Coe has the space for that extra K, based on Elliotts letter, they've done it before.

And class SIZE is not necessarily a fair comparison. QAE classrooms are 900 sqr feet at the most for K, Coe is at 1,200. All of this can be found on SPS website. So the same number of kids is not necessarily equitable either.

To others who asked, the option schools are included in the enrollment projections but the geozones have not yet been drawn

QA Parent
JSIS and McDonald are neighborhood schools and have no geozone.

"..the older grades are still being grandfathered from the old assignment plan in all schools, which skews the data for everyone."

And there may be part of the answer to students at Coe or Hay who had older sibs and are grandfathered in.

This is also why I am against any further grandfathering. It muddies the waters and makes if very unclear how many kids will be at any given school. You can complain the district gets it wrong but the district also doesn't know how many kids are in any given family and how many of those will come to SPS.

I know that statement about grandfathering will not be popular but if we see the problem playing out now and STILL continue on, then no one should complain about getting the numbers right.

Sarah Prichett is the EX Director of the Central area. She is at 252-0103 and her e-mail is

As for "nothing personal" in one comment - it's all personal when it's your child.
Anonymous said…
Queen Anne may be newer to the crunch-time scene. We in the NE have had what, five years to learn that lesson? It's very easy to volunteer another school and step on some toes while brainstorming. That is forgiveable. I've done myself it many times- fortunately mostly in my head or small groups. An organized postcard campaign? Not so much.

Chris S.
mirmac1 said…
It is not physical space so much a teacher:student ratio. It's the difference between saying Hi-See ya versus some (difficult) degree of individualized attention.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said…
reposting for you, Anonymous:

"mirmac1, I don't think you can distill this down to a single thing. Teacher:student ratio is important, but so are facilities. Kind of hard to do proper phys ed without a gymnasium, for example. Or having kids crammed on top of one and other in too small classrooms."

I don't disagree, but I have not heard this observation yet on this thread. There are buildings in WS that have been taxed beyond their physical limits for years, plural. It does have an impact on the prospect for quality, individualized teaching. Yet another factor teachers cannot control, yet will pay the price...
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
I just want to reiterate that QAE is FULL in the grades people are concerned about. There is no room in grades K-2nd. We have three classes of 26 kids in each of these grades. The upper grades are not yet full because FAMILIES have chosen not to move their kids from their neighborhood school to QAE. Neither QAE'S option school status, nor its geozone, impact that dynamic. We welcome anyone who would like to enroll their child at QAE in grades 3-5, and there is no one on our waitlist in those grades.

QAE parent
Anonymous said…
QAE Parent,
When David Elliot was principal at Coe a 3rd kinder was added to help relieve overcrowding at Hay. A 4th kinder was added to Coe this year. The 1st grades at Coe all have 30 students in them, I think one might even have 31. The 2nd grade classes are at 28/29. Class sizes at Hay and QAE are smaller than at Coe (1st grades at Hay are at 23) yet Coe was ignored in the boundary proposal. That is what drove the call to action. I'm not defending the tacky postcard campaign, nor did I participate, I'm just trying to explain why some felt a great need to act. 30+ 6 year olds in a classroom with one teacher (with 7+ non English speaking students) has a way of making parents forget their manners. My apologies on behalf of Coe parents.
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Anonymous said…
Looks like a good outcome for Coe. QAE geozone to overlap completely with Coe attendance area.


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