Saturday, September 06, 2014

Open Thread: Waitlists and Assignments

By request.  Discuss among yourselves.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious about how early entrance to kindergarten works with wait lists since those decisions aren't made until after open enrollment. Are those kids just added to the end of the waitlist for anything other than their neighborhood school. We have a sibling and geozone tiebreaker for an option school but fear that if our daughter is admitted early next year she will have no chance of going to the same school as her sister. -Next year

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who was in your exact situation, and indeed, the younger sibling could not go to the (highly popular) option school her older brother went to as an early entrance kindergartener. The friend was disappointed but had expected to just send the child to the option school in first grade, as a few students inevitably leave, and she thought the sibling preference would put her first on the list, but she'd forgotten that special ed is actually first, and 3 special ed students took the 3 open first grade spaces for their gen ed seat. Or perhaps this was just more movement than usual- I don't know. But the kid didn't get in. The younger sibling finally got in in second grade. Not the path the family was hoping for. Can you wait a year? Move everyone to your neighborhood school?

Anonymous said...

Nope. Sibling preference only applies to entry grades. So, there's no preference at all for siblings in first grade. Special ed students don't have any preference, unless they are in a self contained classroom. Those are assigned separately.

Sped Reader

Anonymous said...

Are you positive about that, sped reader? Not just for neighborhood schools, but for option schools? I don't doubt I have the sped preference wrong (I believe these children were in a self contained classroom, but also get a gen ed seat as part of their assignment, since they are gen ed students first/for inclusion.) I don't have a child that applies to, and only heard from this parent when she asked whether her child would get in for first), but at this option school I've known too many siblings coming in later (when there are long wait lists at every grade) to think they really are just all randomly getting lucky.

Googling sends me to faqs on option schools which lead me to believe sibling preference is a tiebreaker- the first one mentioned, then geozone. Doesn't say anything about entry grades, and this would jive with what I have seen over the years.


Anonymous said...

Here we go:


I'm right, at least about siblings for option schools. Don't pretend to fully understand the vagaries of sped enrollment, though i feel moderately comfortable that that is what happened at least that year at that school (after nsap, same regime), based on the new families I met in that grade. Their students were self contained. There may have been more to it, but I don't know.


Anonymous said...

@Next year: I would recommend talking to the principal at your older sibling's school if you haven't. Ours certainly couldn't pull any strings, but was helpful talking us through the process.

We were in a somewhat similar position a few years back. It did work out for us - but that was one (or two?) assignment plans ago.

Bear in mind that you may have other nasty surprises if your child does enter early. E.g., an early entrance 4th grader who qualifies for APP will only be admitted into 4th grade APP the following year (i.e., re-taking the grade!).

SPS doesn't make early entrance particularly easy!

Good luck!

- early entrant parent

Anonymous said...

I think it's weird that the late start (red shirting) is handled differently than early start. It's not like they send redshirted app kids ahead!


Anonymous said...

My son was early entrance and APP, and it was not a problem at all.


Josh Hayes said...

I'm hoping someone at the district will consider revising how waitlists are moved so that free swaps can be taken. Right now, if you have (I'm making up these numbers for demonstration) 50 kids assigned to Hale who would rather go to Roosevelt, and 50 kids assigned to Roosevelt who'd rather go to Hale, exactly zero of them will get what they want, when those swaps are "free", in that they have no impact on enrollment figures at either school. So far as I know, the district pays no attention to this at all, but I think some of the anguish generated by wait lists that simply do not move could be mitigated by taking these freebies.

Of course, this does nothing to help when schools have no "excess" students to swap with other schools. It's not a solution, but it is a mitigation, and completely free. I cannot figure out why the district doesn't attempt this.

TechyMom said...

Josh, because they want every kid at his or her assignment school. It makes the paperwork easier, dontcha know. Why are those 100 kids asking for something special?

Anonymous said...


I hear what you're saying.

Back in the Dr. Libros era they actually did do a compare for swap opportunities among several elementary schools.

Granted, this was prompted by family efforts as we approached Tracy to let her know of possible swap opportunities. The analysis was done and in fact the wait lists at all three schools moved quite a few places.

At that time there was only one person in charge of moving wait lists, so unless you provided the alert about easy swaps there would likely be no extra attention. If there really was/is only one person in charge of the wait lists for all the schools in the District, well...

If the parents with kids on the wait list at Roosevelt and Hale can possibly connect, so they can alert enrollment that #1 on the wait list at Hale is in the Roosevelt area and vice-versa, then perhaps the swaps you describe will be recognized and done.

But, without that request for extra attention there will not likely be extra analysis lent to the situation.

Like TechyMom, I do believe the preference is that we just stick with our Attendance Area school.

But, sometimes if you ask nicely and come prepared with actionable information you may get an extra bit of attention.


Anonymous said...

Thanks all input on early entrance and waitlists for option schools. It sounds like early entrance K students are just tacked on the end of the waitlist regardless of tiebreakers. I feared this was true but hoped otherwise. I wouldn't mind the neighborhood school except that they currently have about 80 kindergarten students all placed in the same classroom and being team taught be three teachers. I'm very concerned that my early entrance kindergartner will get lost in that crowd.

-Next year

kellie said...

With regard to early entry and option schools. This is one of those "known issues." I remember it being discussed (extensively) at the time the NSAP was adopted. At that time, early entrance was even worse. if you decided to do early entrance, you were assigned to whichever school in your cluster had space. Aka the only school in your cluster without a wait list.

It was decided that the early entrant getting their assignment school was enough of an improvement, that was sufficient. At the time, there was also a big conversation on whether or not sibling preference at option schools should continue, because guaranteeing the siblings at option schools but not "assignment schools" was potentially not equitable. So the decision to keep sibling preference but not extend sibling preference to early entrants was the decision at that time.

This was in large part because it would make wait list management much more complex. This would in effect give siblings as early entrants the ability to jump the wait list and well ... nobody likes to see their wait list number increase, instead of decrease.

kellie said...

I just took a look at the wait lists for high schools. StepJ is quite correct in that Tracy Libros was very open to feedback from parents who really examined all of the area wait lists. StepJ and a few other parents did some remarkable work examining wait lists in order to help minimize split siblings.

At the high school level, you simply need some space for the dominos to fall to make those "swaps" happens as Josh pointed out. It appears that Ingraham is the choke point. Ballard, Hale and Roosevelt are all pretty full. Ingraham has some but not a lot of room. If there was away for Ingraham to move their waitlist, that would likely create enough space for the other swaps to start.

Also interesting is that WSHS has a wait list. That means that Rainier Beach is the only comprehensive high school without a wait list. That likely means there will be fewer choice seats next year.

Anonymous said...

Hale has a huge freshman class. I think it is around 375 while 'normal' size is around 300. Does anyone know how the other high schools are doing?

Also, they projected a drop in enrollment when they cut funds last year to Hale (and other schools). So will Hale get that money back now?

Official enrollment numbers come out in October right?


kellie said...

@ TechyMom,

I know it looks that way, but at least at high schools, it is more complicated than that.

In theory, all of the high schools were drawn so as to leave about 10% of the seats available as choice seats. Now this is not "technically" possible, because at capacity, all schools are right-sized. However, "option schools" create the effect of choice seats via "swaps."

For example, Roosevelt was drawn so that it was "right-sized" for the area. Then it was hypothesized, that about 10% of the Roosevelt attendance area would select an option schools (Nova, Center, Cleveland STEM). Those seats, then become available as choice seats. Roosevelt historically had a high attendance area count and a low option school count so that 10% guess was in line with the historical enrollment patterns.

Each high school was drawn based on the historical choice information. At the opposite end of the spectrum was Rainier Beach where most students picked option schools. As such the attendance area for Rainier Beach is the largest in the district with well over 2,000 attendance area students in that zone. There is a clear expectation that those students will elect the seats vacated by other attendance area students who elected an option school.

So the bottom line of high school is that the students who elect option schools, open up a seat at their attendance area school and then it is a game of musical chairs until the various schools are unable to move their wait lists. As all of the students on a wait list are already enrolled at another high school, all of the wait list is effective a swap.

If the distance tie-breaker were still in effect, then there would be likely be more movement as "zero-cost" swaps like Roosevelt-Hale and Ballard-Ingraham would be able to happen, because all the students from those schools would be at the top of the wait list. That is what made the elementary swaps so much easier. Most swaps were for schools that were geographically close and most folks on the list were there as split siblings.

The one notable exception to this was WSHS/Sealth. Because of the Denny-Sealth campus, Sealth and WSHS were not drawn so as to reflect historical choice patterns. They were drawn so as to match the elementary school feeder patterns. As such, Sealth was drawn way too big and WSHS was drawn way to small. That means that Sealth does not really participate in the swaps as they are too-full from the attendance area.

kellie said...

@ HP,

For enrollment, there is a 4th day (today) count and an Oct 1st count.

The Oct 1st count is the big one because the State provides funding based on the Oct 1st numbers. We have been ending each school year with about 200 or so more students than are enrolled on Oct 1st but those students are not funded by the state.

In the past, they have made adjustments for schools based on the 4th day counts, particularly when there is a wait list because then they are confident that the numbers will hold until Oct 1st and the state budget is finalized.

Hopefully, they will be making these adjustments quickly because there are a lot of schools in the same place with "higher than expected" enrollment.

RosieReader said...

Hi Kellie. I wish we could see what you have access to! Can you explain a bit more about your comment that Ingraham has some open space? My understanding is that our 9th grade class is around 400 students, way more than we've had in recent history. I'm sure there's room at the other grades, but not so sure about 9th grade.

I'll bet someone could develop a computer program (an app, really) that could sort among the waitlists to let the "even swaps" happen, according to some priority list. Of course, the District would have to provide the data. Not me, of course, I learned programming on type cards.

kellie said...

@ Rosie,

Wow. 400 9th graders at Ingraham. If that keeps up, then Ingraham will be about the same size as the other large comprehensive schools.

With HP reporting 375 9th graders at Hale, that is also a big cohort. Does anyone know the sizes for Ballard or Roosevelt?

But back to your comments. With 400 9th graders, the "open space" is most likely upper grades. I think the official capacity number is around 1300. Until the full by grade enrollment is published, it is really not possible for know the nuances without actual data and the rest is aggregate numbers.

However, on an aggregate basis, since high schools operate on a master schedule the theoretical available capacity is the capacity - the total enrollment, rather than a pure cohort set up as in home room based elementary schools.

Again, theoretically, with smaller upper graders, that means that Ingraham likely has a bit of space, in the all things relative category.

kellie said...

As for a wait list analysis, enrollment publishes some great High School Enrollment Data

This has the last five years of enrollment data as well as a nice chart that show the number of students that leave an assignment area and go into an different assignment area high school. For last year, there were 277 "swaps" and in total for all 4 grades is 1796 swaps.

With that data, it become pretty easy to do some quick statistical analysis of the wait list to see what is likely to move. But nothing moves, until one school starts to move their list.

Anonymous said...

@Rosie Reader

Ingraham high school has 'space' because the District is blowing up it's attendance to 1,600 students. Via portables. Because it has got fields. So it will keep going upwards. In contrast, comparison....

Hale is Critically FULL and can't handle what's matriculating to it in the next two year AND it has no real room for portables, and like, they JUST finished "BEXing" it - with no real additional capacity (brilliant planning SPS!!! Note- all before Joe Wolf got here) . So Hsle can't shoulder more load.

AND Roosevelt is FULL with 1,700 kids - MORE THAN GARFEILD HAS - and Roosevelt has no space for portables (unless you count the football fields) and it too just finished its "BEX".


Ballard high school is also completely FULL with no space for portables and it to was "BEXed" so it's not like the District can go back and add another floor for capacity purposes.

And of course, Queen Anne/Magnolia are STILL missing their high school (more excellent planning on the part of the District - because they sold it for peanuts).

Which then makes one hop scotch over the tiny but wonderful boutiques of Center and Nova to the next geographic comprehensive Garfeild, that is crazy FULL and also was just "BEXed" so no way to add capacity there via another floor and it can't take portables either (unless you want to consume the football feild).

So yes, this is why Ingraham will blow up: there is no where left to go.

Even with Lincoln coming on and Ingraham blowing up, the north is screwed.

But hey, Flip's on the job (for now), with his pal Charles, so they will figure it out no doubt, because they are doing such a wonderful job with Wilson Pacific, etc. ( hint - SARCASM).

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.


Anonymous said...

Not adding capacity to Ingraham when it was remodeled is one of the many examples of short-sighted capacity-mismanagement in SPS.

-North-end Mom

seattle citizen said...

Ballard, I've heard, is at about 1750, which is 200 more than it's usual 1550-1600.
All LA classes, I've heard, are near or over the 32 student CBA contract number, quite a few at 34-36 students.
LA (and History) particularly are labor intensive when it cones to grading and offering cogent and worthwhile feedback. Here's the math: 165 students x 5 minutes per essay review = almost 14 hours grading for each essay assigned. Shorter writings? Seven hours.

kellie said...

The Spring Projections had Ballard at 1648. 1750 would be a big jump.

seattle citizen said...

Yep. I'll check the building number, but I'm pretty sure of class sizes. I have it on good authority.

Patrick said...

SPS should jump now and eminent domain the vacant lots immediately south of Roosevelt before mid-rise housing is built on them.

Anonymous said...

So convince me why practice football fields are critical at Garfield, Roosevelt, Ballard ...

Lynn said...

Yes - why?

Rufus X said...

@maureen said
So convince me why practice football fields are critical at Garfield, Roosevelt, Ballard ...

This has been addressed in previous capacity issues threads, and I doubt very seriously that there's much room for convincing, but against my better judgment, here goes:

1) In the fall after school, the fields are used by 200+ students for football, soccer, track, & marching band - not just "practice football fields". And the field use for student activities is year-round.

2) agreements/partnerships with the City of Seattle Parks Dept. for after hours/weekend use for recreational sports;

3) The fields are not suitable for anything other than their intended use. Foundation, surface, plumbing, etc - these spaces were intended for sport use, not foundations for temporary buildings like portables. And even if we ignore all of the above, there are still those pesky problems of common spaces like lunchrooms, bathrooms, and building fire code capacity.

Don't know if that's convincing enough for you, but these are but a few reasons the "football fields" are not suitable for HS capacity expansion.

Lynn said...

I really don't get these arguments when the alternative is split shifts. You really would prefer that to losing the fields? For two 6.5 hours shifts, you'd need schools to be open 13 hours a day. 6 am to 7 pm? 9 am to 10 pm? What do you think would work? How would sports ft into those hours?

1. Clearly the fields would no longer be available for those uses.
2. Rescind the agreements/don't renew them. If play fields are so important - let the city find their own.
3. Do some prep work to make the fields appropriate for portables. Lunchrooms and bathrooms can't be the excuse - see Schmitz Park Elementary School. If you add extra classrooms outside of the building how does that affect building fire code capacity?

Anonymous said...

Our high school freshman reports as many as 40 students in one class. Also, no room to sit at lunch. They sit outside for now - I'm not sure what happens when the weather changes.

There is not a rigid limit on individual class sizes. District-wide, "SPS will maintain an average SPS building ratio of students to full-time equivalent teachers at no more than 26:1 for grades K-3, 28:1 for grades 4-5, and 150-1 for grades 6-12." Average is the key word. For 6-12, the guideline (exact word used in CBA) is 150 students per teacher per day. Per the CBA, the teachers will be compensated for an overload after Oct. 1 (see pg. 84).

2013-2015 CBA


Anonymous said...

@ap - Which high school are you referring to?

Thanks, NP

Anonymous said...

As far as putting portables on sports fields:
1)I suspect that there is much more use of Parks Dept fields by the school district than the other way around. Canceling any agreements would probably just result in canceling ALL sports, as well as really interfering with PE classes (which I believe is a state requiremnt). It would also affect the elementary & middle schools, many of which use parks dept property for PE and recess.
2) Fire safety includes having open spaces for the kids to assemble in the event of a fire or other emergency. In many cases, I suspect the playfields fullfill this purpose.

Mom of 4

Spruiter said...

How do running start students get figured into enrollment numbers? With large numbers of high school 11th and 12th graders taking college classes through running start, that allows for more available seats at the high schools right?

Also, for high school wait list even swaps - I'd be pretty upset if my kid was enrolled at an unpopular school, was #1 on a wait list at a popular school, and then was line jumped by a kid who was already enrolled at another popular school. Why should families who live in neighborhoods with popular schools have access to 2 popular schools, limiting other families access to one?

Anonymous said...

Looking at Updated Spring 2014 projections for high schools, revised Spring 2014 based on Open enrollment data:

These are the PROJECTED October Headcounts/ 2014-15 enrollments:

Ballard 1648
Ingraham 1220
Hale 1146
Roosevelt 1712

Is Ballard REALLY 100 over projection?

Garfield 1612
West Sea 1008
Franklin 1294
Rainier Beach 562

Signed: Math counts

Anonymous said...

And absolutely agree with Spruiter about the "jump" effect of wait-list swaps being unfair. In an era of excessive capacity at numerous points in the system, it's not necessary penalizing students - but in this era where almost nowhere has a seat, the effect would be only the "haves" with a "good" seat to swap would be able to do so.

Not a system we should endorse or create.

Signed: Math Counts

Anonymous said...

Wait lists are only moved in a per numbered fashion.

So no wait jumping as Spruiter suggests.

If No. 1 wait listed at Hale is enrolled at Roosevelt, and the No. 1 wait-listed at Roosevelt is enrolled at Hale - they will do an even swap.

But, no number 3 for number 3 or anything to skip one or two on the wait-list.

No need to add drama to an already stressful situation.


Anonymous said...

THanks StepJ for clarification!

Signed: Math Counts (from above)

kellie said...

To add additional clarification, in "effect" all choice spots are trades because several of the high schools are "right-sized" and therefore the choice seats at School A are created by students who get a different choice seat and vacate their seat at School A.

In effect it is a great big game of musical chairs and the wait lists stop moving when there there is no space for the musical chairs to keep going. There is no jumping spots. However, there are schools that can be confidently "over-enrolled" by a few students with the confidence that as the wait lists collapse, more students will leave the school than are placed into the school.

Here is the 9th grade wait list for high school.

Ballard 43
Sealth 19
Cleveland 63
Franklin 84
Garfield 71
Ingraham 28
Hale 51
Roosevelt 18

All of those students are already enrolled at a school. Moving the 28 Students into Ingraham and then moving the wait list from the schools they depart would effectively cause significant movement in the 18 at Roosevelt, 43 at Ballard and 51 at Hale, since those students are the bulk of the wait list. it would also cause some movement at the other schools that are geographically further away.

What this would "look like" to many folks would be trades because everyone will wind up with the same number of students in the end. This is because historically, Ingraham attendance area loses 1.5 choice students for every choice student it imports and as such, it is unlikely that Ingraham would grow very much in that process.

kellie said...

@ Math Counts

There are no official numbers but I have been hearing some pretty big numbers at high school.

There is a systemic flaw in the projections that keep causing the gap between my personal enrollment projections and the official enrollment projections. The official enrollment projections are based on a 5 year average. However a 5 year average is useless when there is a rapid increase every year.

The current 12th grade class is the year where enrollment started to grow as a Kindergarten cohort. As such, it is the first of the larger class sizes that are coming through the system and that means this year is the first year where all 4 years of high school are full with larger cohort sizes AND students who accessed high school via the geographic system.

If you look at the High School Enrollment Data that I posted above, it is easy to see that the cohort sizes for ALL the high school are stable and growing. This is now the beginning of high school enrollment exploding.

Anonymous said...

So I know Joe Wolf has engaged here before re: possible other options for expanding HS capacity in addition to the reopening of Lincoln, but as best I can tell, his additional proposals were all for implementation AFTER Lincoln comes on line. How on earth are we going to squeeze all these kids in over the next four years, before we get that new space?

To note, even after the JAMS split, Hamilton is very full--with an especially large 6th grade class. I don't have final numbers, but over a week before school started there were already about 385 6th graders registered.


Lynn said...

Joe mentioned here that he'd given Shauna Heath info on year-round schedules and split schedules. He said the short-term solution would come from Teaching & Learning. (Makes no sense to me - isn't capacity management what operations does?

I have heard second hand that the assumption is we'll move to split schedules before Lincoln is available. It will take time to set up master schedules for that and would require negotiations with various unions - so I think we'll have some warning. I wish they'd start talking about it now.

Anonymous said...

If we go to split H.S. schedules, won't that completely mess with any idea of swapping high school times with the (now) later elementary school times? Maybe that's one reason staff doesn't seem too keen on pursuing the start time issue?

I'll have a student in high school when the overcrowding hits big time so I am following this closely.


Anonymous said...

Right! I must still be in denial re: the possibility of split shifts or alternate schedules. Completely blotted it out of my memory! Ugh. But thanks for the grim reminder, Lynn.


kellie said...

Opening JAMS did help but middle school is still going to be a challenge. The current 6th grade class is the cohort that was large enough to start triggering the opening of new elementary schools. When that cohort gets to high school in a three years, something will have to be different.

There is no official information. However, I think HIMS is still around 1,000 students this year and the 6th grade class is nearly 400. While both JAMS and Eckstein now have breathing room, their 6th grade cohorts are also close to 400.

I don't know what they will do with Hamilton next year. The cohort scheduled for Hamilton for next year is even larger than the cohort for this year.

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure about JAMS having breathing room. Phase I of the building repurposing did not yield all the classrooms for JAMS to have its intended capacity (approximately 960 students). There are 4 portables onsite, which probably help, but there are still a number of classrooms, including science labs, which will need to come online before the school can comfortably handle more than 750 or so students.

-North-end Mom

Spruiter said...

Thanks step J for the clarification on a wait list even swap, that makes a lot more sense!

Anonymous said...

The district short-sightedly trashed one of the capacity mitigators - Running Start, by moving the HS start times ten minutes earlier. That ten minutes means the difference between taking one class at RS or being able to take two. The more kids who are out of the building for RS classes, the less crowded classes are at school. The HS start times need to be later to take advantage of this bonus.


Anonymous said...

Can't RS classes be taken at end of school day (or in evening) instead of beginning? First 4 classes in HS & then RS classes?


Anonymous said...

@CCA, yes of course there are afternoon classes at the community college. But there are a heckuva lot more of them in the morning, especially the core classes that fulfill graduation requirements, and which the students had planned on taking before the earlier start time messed things up. Maybe next year the high school capacity crunch will be the thing that gets us a later start time...


Bulldog said...

They report at the Freshman night at Garfield that there are 1800 students. They were calling it a "bubble."

Is there anyone at SPS working on High School? What happens when all these students who are in the new middle schools go to high school.

Anonymous said...

"Bubble." That's hysterical!

And very, very, troubling.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I don't see how Garfield, Roosevelt or Ballard will be able to remain 3A schools if they keep expanding like this.


Lori said...

Well, the cynic in me thinks that maybe the Garfield staff do believe it's a bubble!

I fully expect an IBx program at Rainier Beach in the near future to take pressure off both Garfield and Ingraham. What's the current capacity there? Under 600? It's the only place with excess capacity. And what population is the most "movable"? APP.

The question becomes how many/whether any APP students stay at Garfield in the years to come. Because only kids who were in APP in 8th grade are able to access Garfield, it's something of an equity issue not to allow new-to-the district or newly eligible 9th graders to have access. But, if the only 2 APP highschools are IBx programs and they let "new" APP students enroll as they do now with Ingraham, voila, equity is restored. And, they are claiming that all neighborhood high schools will have counselors and a variety of classes to handle highly capable kids, so it isn't much of a stretch to imagine the Garfield option going away, being considered unnecessary. Neighborhood APP kids will still go there (or to IBx) but everyone else will go to a local school or an IBx program.

Not trying to start rumors - just seeing the writing on the wall.

Bulldog said...

Does anyone have any idea what the enrollment at the other high schools might be?

Anonymous said...

If you are in the Garfield boundaries, your child has access to many of the AP classes that the APP cohort accesses, all without having to test in. Because of the APP cohort, there are more AP classes offered at Garfield than at other comprehensive high schools. If the cohort leaves Garfield, will there be enough of a demand to offer so many AP classes? Also, AP does not equal IB. They are different, and I hope the district realizes that IB needs to be a choice, not the only option.

And 1800 at Garfield?! Wow.