The Plight of Schmitz Park

Schmitz Park Elementary is one of many schools that will be affected by new enrollment boundaries that were agreed on in 2013 but now will affect the school differently given the huge and continuing growth in SPS.

Meaning, what was agreed to before is not going to play out as thought.

Schmitz Park has been trying, very hard, to explain to district staff what is happening (and what will get worse).  This subject of enactment of these new boundaries came up at the Executive Committee meeting yesterday.  This is what my notes reflect:

Flip Herndon said they were "between a rock and hard place."  He said there was no space at Alki for portables.  He said SP had space but not "infrastructure."  The interim director, Brent (something) said, "We really need to make these changes."    Director McLaren was there but said nothing.

Here's what Schmitz Park sent to parents and has told the district (bold mine):

At the community meeting at Alki Elementary on Monday, November 3rd, a large group of West Seattle parents and community members voiced their concerns on the implementation of boundary changes in West Seattle for the 2015-2016 School Year. 

The Growth Boundaries Plan was approved by the Board in November 2013, however, the timeline for implementation only gave specifics for the current school year (2014-2015) that were tied to the re-opening of the expanded Fairmount Park facility. The remaining changes were planned for roll out as capacity became available with the new buildings being constructed at Genesee Hill and Arbor Heights. 

Although the Genesee Hill construction schedule has been delayed and a new opening date of September 2016 has been given, Enrollment & Planning intends to implement the new attendance areas next year. These changes will move 2 areas from Alki Elementary (estimated 37 current students, who can remain at Alki by choice under grandfathering, and an undetermined number of new, incoming students) into the Schmitz Park attendance zone and bring out projected enrollment to 630-650 students for 2015-2016.

As a PTA, we have requested that no changes be made to attendance areas in West Seattle until the new building is ready. 

Today, Schmitz Park has 612 students, 
  • 17 portables, 
  • 16 in-building rooms, and
  •  only 1 bathroom each for boys & girls 
  • (excluding the 3 toilets in the kindergarten wing for our 96+ kindergartners to share.)  
  • We have 4 lunch periods. 
  • We have 2 morning recesses. 
But the biggest concern is the fact we have shortened learning periods because of the time it takes to move children through the building and, in some cases, we have had to reduce PE/Music/Library frequency because we simply cannot accommodate every class in a given week. The building struggles to serve the students we have now – yet plans for next year will expand our assignments.
In addition to our physical limitations, there are other impacts to this change:
  1. Pay for K: full day kindergarten at Alki is free. Schmitz Park and Lafayette are the only 2 elementary schools in West Seattle that do not qualify for funded full day kindergarten.
  2. Currently enrolled students in the designated areas who opt to stay “grandfathered” at Alki will lose transportation. Transportation is not provided for students outside of their assigned attendance area.
  3. Hiawatha, Schmitz Park’s on-site after school care, has a wait list of 45+ students due to our over enrollment and limited capacity. SPS no  longer provides transportation to students to off site after care. Incoming families who are not already on the Hiawatha wait list will not have after care available unless they can organize their own transport off site.
The Growth Boundaries Plan should be amended and implementation should be delayed until Genesee Hill is ready for students. A meeting between leaders and staff at Alki, Schmitz Park and Capital, Facilities & Enrollment Planning should occur immediately to evaluate alternative options that will appropriately serve both schools’ students.
Emily Giaquinta
Schmitz Park PTA Legislative Co-Chair. 

One bathroom each for boys and girls in the whole building?  Four lunch periods?  I'd be willing to bet there's a lot of hurry-up at SP by staff if only because of the sheer logistics of getting everything done in a day.  

I'll jump in here and say that telling SP - or any school community - to suck it up for a couple of years, in the state they are in currently, seems vastly unfair.  But that appears to be what the district is saying. 


Po3 said…
but but but..we have a task force in place to study shortened lunch and recess...and in 18 months we should have an analysis that concludes over crowding schools results in shortened lunch time and recesses, but will they discover it also impacts learning time?
Anonymous said…
This is really a shame. This used to be a top school in the district - especially for PE in the mid-late 90s - but has had challenges addressing racial, developmental, and social disparities in the building over the last 5 years (due in large part to the number of students in the building).

I have nieces and nephews in the building who can't catch a break because of all the focus the administration has on logistics.

SP Alum
Anonymous said…
You all don't get it.

The problem isn't Schmitz park,



Whereas, Schmitz Park techincally can.

(NOT saying it should!)

So, there are kids, they've got no where to go, and yet, they have to go somewhere.


That is why Schmitz Park is getting hammered. It is all because ALKI is the real problem. That is why Brent is not suggesting they delay implementing that board adjustment, it is because he knows he can't because ALKI can't take it!

Guess what? There are more Alkis out there. Schools that must take more kids because they are attendance area schools, but, cannot because every single broom closet in the school is fully used AND they legally cannot take another portable, so they have to carve off territory to neighboring schools.

It's the kids who suffer. And there ARE going to be more problems in Sept 2016. Hamilton? BIG PROBLEM!! Beacon Hill? I am looking at you. Bryant? Expect an emergency boundary redraw to Laurelhurst. SpEd? You are going to continue to be treated like some kind of movable feast. Pile in preschool? Seriously?

Dr. Nyland needs to get FACMAC on this, because they are the ONLY ones who hold the triangulation between true enrollment counts AND true enrollment roll-up projections AND true number of homerooms IN geographically relevant terms.

This mess is the gift of Steve Sunquist and Michael DeBell and Peter Maier that keeps on giving. They closed and sold schools courtesy of Maria Goodloe Johnson, aided and abetted by Banda who was told repeatedly this is a problem, but, who did nothing. Nice job, boys and girl.

Because of awful decision making of this Board and Kay Smith Blum, the immediate past president, Washington Middle School is going to become a shanty town of portables. And Lincoln is a major construction zone that is like a derelict flop house piled in with whatever kids that get scraped into it (without any actual program placement rubrick OR community(ies) input). Funny that Dr. Nyland won't consider providing classrooms to interagency INSIDE THE GLASS PALACE. Is it that he is afraid to see actual students?

Why move interagency high school kids into an elementary school (Lincoln) or across the street from a elementary school (Hay), when, he could bring them into one location and really put his arms around some of the most vulnerable kids in the system? Does he think of them as too scary?

Yes, so the Schmitz Park problem was entirely predictable and they let it slip into a crisis but the problem is really Alki. Should we even mention the perpetual cycle of split siblings that goes along with constant inch-bugging of boarders?

Queen Anne and Magnolia have a big, big storm brewing - there is simply no where to go. They are surrounded by water on 3 sides. They need a high school. They need to pivot CBK8 into Magnolia and make the CB building a smaller comprehensive high school, and, they need to do that NOW so that in 3 years it is ready so that entire peninsula won't hit a crisis.

At least SPS is not getting the downtown school for the 47 students there. That would not have helped with West Seattle's problems or the Magnolia/Queen Anne problems, or, the brutual high school north problem. And, it would not have even been a good solution for the New Holly rebuild.

By the way, who lost their job in the glass palace for allowing Schmitz Park to tip into 17 portables?


Flip can go now. Please. Larry is not a keeper either.

(Pssst: Schmitz Park, did you hear about the secret emergency plan to emergency lift out your 5th grade into the 'basement' of Madison? Shhhhhh....)

Marty is a really, really nice and caring lady, but, she is in over her head and too deferential to staff. She represents us parents, not the Supe's Cabinet. Staying quiet is not what I expect from my elected officials.

Facilities Planning

Simple Solutions said…
There is a solution here but it would involve a large number of families being OK with moving for a year.

E.C. Hughes will be available in 2015.

Divide SP, provide ALL of the infrastructure (no sharing of teachers or classified staff) and transportation that will be needed temporarily, and move to Genesee HIll (reunited!) in 2016.

You can adjust the boundaries to account for Alki. Draw a North/South line in the SP attendance area and stand firm. No gerrymandering or protracted public input. All over the country new schools open and lines are redrawn without any grandfathering. The population grows, the boundaries shift, you change schools, you get over it. I went to 3 different elementary schools for this very reason as a child. There were always other kids that I knew that were also going to the new schools. No child was scarred for life. Seriously.

Parents will need to suck it up and the district will need to get over the fact that it is going to cost them money no matter what they do. What is best for the children's learning?

Then, in 2016, get Roxhill out of the pit they have been occupying and into Hughes.

FYI, according to the MENG reports from 2009, the actual SP building (sans portables with spaces used as intended) was designed for 217 students. That the district has allowed it to get as bad as it has is outrageous.
ws said…

That 5th graders to Madison plan was floated several years ago as well. I really do not like it. And lets be honest here, with the numbers as they stand today the new building will have a portable on day one.
Anonymous said…
@Facilities Planning: Lincoln is not an Interagency site this year. There are a few small programs there along with APP and Licton Springs. Or did you mean that it is going to go there next year?


Lynn said…
Simple Solutions,

Using Hughes as a fourth and fifth grade annex for Schmitz Park next year could work. I think that makes more sense - less friends split up, less transition for the younger students. Maybe SP could even set up a before and after school care program in the portables left behind.

The district would have to bus those 4th and 5th graders and set up a library at Hughes. I think that's a reasonable cost.
Anonymous said…
Yes, Lincoln is an interagency this year, that is merely part of the construction noise and dust and solvent odor the kids are subjected to as parts of Lincoln are getting rehabbed. Crews wonder in and out. Port-a-potties are one the asphalt.

Basically, to raze the Wilson Pacific buildings, all the things that were there, save the Cascade children, got pushed into Lincoln, along with Ballard's SpEd program and Hale's SpEd program. No thoughtful program placement or school placement process at all.

People come and go in that site. Construction workers take the playground play stuff the PTA bought (to try and make up for the fact there is no playground) and use it as construction barriers. Really. I am not making this up. Nice. Major development is happening right across the street, roads are closed, traffic in the morning is 'cumbersome'. The Lincoln kids don't get access to a gym in proportional to their numbers (instead, 112 kids get the gym 50% of the time, and 700 get 50% of the gym, rather than splitting it 85/15 to make it fair for all kids), so, Lincoln kids have to double up during their infrequent PE classes -- 2 classes at the same time in one gym. 5th graders -- all 30 of them in a class -- get a measly TWO tables to eat at for their lunch. Two tables, that is the same number 1st graders get -- only there are fewer in a first grade class and their bodies are considerably smaller. The building adminstration does what it can, they are NOT the problem. It is JSCEE. Jon Halfaker? Doesn't care. He was asked about the risk assessment for mixing high schoolers with elementary aged children at Lincoln, and he was unresponsive (think, "talk to the hand" and you get the picture). The Lincoln kids will be there til Sept 2017. Before anyone says, "boo hoo, they are APP kids, let them eat cake", remember, this could be the same callous disregard the district will show to your community too one day. At the end of the day, these are just little kids. That's all. Little kids breathing in glue for the floors that got laid down, hearing the constant pining in their classrooms from the cement trucks and cranes. Some class rooms are less impacted than others. That is about as good as it gets.

Maybe Schmitz Park could go the port-a-potty route too? KIDDING!

As for breaking apart West Seattle Kids by using EC Hughes, the District already thought of this, secretly of course, but didn't get the money to upgrade Hughes.

Facilities ?Planning?

Anonymous said…
To be clear - this thread is about Schmitz Park, not trying to diffuse and pull the focus off of them and how those kids are getting screwed over - by incompetent and unrepentant "planners". (On another thread, didn't I read about how Ms. McEvoy is now tackling lunch and recess along with other duties including transportation, security, and my personal favorite, bell times? Yeah, how's that going?).

The 'screwed over' part is just the 'symptom'. The 'incompetent planning' part is the actual disease -- and that disease process is an equal opportunity screwer of other regions too. Wish it wasn't so. And, West Seattle isn't done yet! Just when elementary is finally tucked into bed with the implementation/opening/biggering of Boren STEM AND Fairmount Park AND Genesee Hill AND Arbor Heights, BAM!! the middle/high school capacity crisis will arrive in West Seattle. Who knew? I am being facetious. Of course, everyone in those schools knows. Just JSCEE seems to not know. It is depressing.

Facilities ?Planning?
Anonymous said…
@Facilities Planning…. also not meaning to divert the topic from SP but I am curious and concerned about what you bring up regarding Lincoln.
You say Interagency is there this year but a few weeks ago the Principal said in the weekly newsletter that the the programs at Lincoln were these:
Main Building: APP@ Lincoln program =687 students
North Wing: Native American Education program Its enrollment count is included in the Licton Springs below
South Wing: Licton Springs K-8 program =116 students
South Wing: Special Education Medically Fragile program =6 students,
Auditorium: CTE Nursing Program will move from the Wilson-Pacific site
Auditorium Building: Special Education 18-21 transition programs =19 students

No mention of Interagency so either you are mistaken, or SPS is purposely hiding its presence at Lincoln. I'm not sure how I would feel about Interagency being there (they have to go to school somewhere like all our kids after all) but I sure do have a problem with it being covered up! What is that all about?

Also, the construction issues- where is this taking place, I have not seen the evidence of it that you report but that sounds pretty bad if so.

I hate that so many of our kids all over town have to spend 6-7hr a day at these overcrowded, rundown, under maintained, underfunded dumps (so many schools fit this description I won't list them, there are too many)

What I really hate is that we all just have to suck up whatever crap this district throws at us. It's such a distraction from actually EDUCATING KIDS.
And if your school doesn't currently fit that description above - lucky you. But, don't get too complacent because one day it might be.

SPS sucks
Anonymous said…
People here mention putting Catherine Blaine K8 into the old Magnolia School.

1. The park next to it was sold to city. No portables will be able to go in there, compared to the current building which has a lot of space for portables.

2. Magnolia is going to get many more kids - have you seen the amount of housing going into Interbay? And the housing is turning over to young families on Magnolia hill too. CB K8 can't really fit in the old Magnolia School now, and they certainly won't fit in there when the new kids start coming from the housing boom in Interbay - and Lawton, the other school on Magnolia, is really tight on its lot and doesn't have space to expand.

So the K8 has to stay at the current building. It may even have to just become a big elem. in the not-too-distant-future to accommodate elem. growth in Magnolia/Interbay and a little overflow from west QA, possible.

But advocating for it to move to the old Magnolia bldg and put a HS in the K8 space is a fail. New property must be acquired for that HS.

What about the city-owned bldgs. at Fort Lawton? Some could be repurposed, and others torn down, and a HS and all the associated facilities -gym, fields, tennis, etc - could be added. The space is there and it even has an arterial going up around the hill straight to it - nice access for HS, MUCH better place to put a HS than smack in the middle of the business district where NO ONE would be able to get business parking ever again.

So look at the real long-term future - I don't think putting the K8 in the old Magnolia bldg is viable, numbers-wise, and I don't think putting a HS in the middle of the Magnolia low-rise business district will fly, but maybe putting it at the buildings right at the edge of Ft Lawton- where the gym and old army office complexes were - would work.

Signed: Wondering
Folks, this is what I mean when I say our district doesn't run well. This kind of issue should not be happening over and over.

You need to tell the Board this and loudly. Because senior staff have their own agenda and own plans and this stuff? Not so interested.

The basics need to be right.
Not Equitable said…

I feel like it is hopeless trying to talk to the Board. Armed with very good numbers last Spring related to WilPac, the Board (Peaslee as driver) blew us off as haters of Pinehurst. WHAT?!? She never had a community meeting to see our numbers nor would she look at them through e-mail. She just blindly trusted the district staff's bizarro 5-year trailing rolling averages that didn't even include Viewlands, etc, since it was closed during the trailing time periods.

To bring this back to SP, I bet the same bizarro numbers are what led to this disaster. It makes me SICK to hear that all of those kids have one bathroom! The testing requirements put undue strain on the libraries where my kids are so I can't imagine what it's like at SP.

It's lawsuit time. Hold them to their "Equity for All".

P.S. I have a kid at Lincoln and it's annoying, but not that bad relatively speaking. Yeah, the gym thing isn't equitable, but we have plenty of bathrooms! Let's keep this thread to SP to not provide support to the APP parent stereotypes.
Anonymous said…
marty's letter as reported on the West Seattle Blog

Simple Solutions said…
Surely the $200,000+ that it will cost to move more portables could instead be used to utilize E.C. Hughes for a year. I like Lynn's suggestion that 4th-5th could be moved. Or, better yet, how about the large number of K or K-1st? If SP is up for fighting the district for more sensible solutions than more portables, I know the vast majority of WS will rally behind them!
Anonymous said…
If Schmitz Park is SO overcrowded, then why does the district/school continue to assign non-attendance area kids to the school? I know of one child (current 2nd-grader) who spent K & 1 at her neighborhood/attendance area school and just got into SP for 2nd. It doesn't make sense!

Anonymous said…
@ West Seattle Parent

If the school was built for 2 classrooms per grade (which I'm pretty sure is the case for Schmitz Park), but the District has been feeding in 4 classrooms per grade, by adding portables, if there is "space" in any of those 4 second grade classrooms, then the District will fill it (but neighborhood kids should get priority over out of attendance area kids, if there is more than one kid vying for a seat).

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
There are five second grades classes at SP.

-too many kids

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