SE Region Meeting Tonight

I have learned that an informal meeting on issues in the SE region is to be held tonight.

Betty Patu's meeting to hear from SE Seattle families about their educational experiences, and for her to share information about work being done on the strategic plan. 

Monday, June 29, 5 - 7 p.m.
Rainier Beach Library
9125 Rainier Ave. S.


JvA said…
I'm at the meeting. Seattle City Council Member Bruce Harrell just said that the district has put enrollment caps on both Franklin and Cleveland in order to bolster enrollment at Rainier Beach. This is the first time I've heard an official speak of this. I haven't heard about this from the district. Does anyone know more?
Lynn said…
As I recall, the Harrells spoke about this at a board meeting this spring. There was an explanation in the Friday Memo to the board that week. Those documents are no longer available on the district website so you'd have to contact the board office to get a copy.
Anonymous said…
Who was the organizer of the meeting. I forgot to get her name.

JvA, this is what I am hearing.

What I believe may be happening - informally, of course - is two things.

1) the district is telling schools to try to take in X number of students (whether or not it's their capacity or no matter the waitlist). Why? So that the district can hold down staffing. I have heard from all corners of this district that schools believe they are being kept under some "cap" size in order for the district to NOT hire/keep staff. I have no idea who decided when a waitlist moves and how many.

2) the district may be artificially holding capacity in order to route kids to some schools. The district wants RBHS to grow and does not want students who live in that area to go to Franklin or Cleveland. That is NOT part of options schools and I don't believe the district should be doing it.

We also know the district has not clearly explained the tiebreakers and some parents are unhappy about that as well.

Anonymous said…
How did Betty broadcast news of this meeting? So many people who would have participated, didn't because they did not know about it in time.

kellie said…
When it comes to all things capacity, it can get complicated quickly.

With the exception of Rainier Beach, all of the high schools are full or pretty darn close to full. Cleveland and Franklin are both pretty close to their full building physical capacity. While I can't keep track of the variations on numbers that get attached to capacity, the schools are pretty full.

So while, it "looks-like" there are enrollment caps at Cleveland and Franklin, for the benefit of Rainier Beach, the same can be said about Ingraham, Garfield, Roosevelt, Chief Sealth and Ballard. When a school is full, there are very few choice seats ... and there are very few choice seats district wide any longer.

That is one of the many reasons why parents have been very concerned about high school capacity. The rapid decline in choice seats is a sign that capacity is getting tight.

kellie said…
However, none of this is transparent because of the way high school enrollment is reported.

Franky, I find that the tendency to treat enrollment information as if it were top secret and classified creates more problems for enrollment than anything else and I dearly miss Dr. Libros's commitment to transparency.

There are two reasons why all of this is opaque.

High School enrollment is looked at generally as a lump sum number. So folks will look at a schools capacity and think there is room. However, most high schools have very large 9th grade cohorts and so the "extra space" is at the upper grades. If you look at the high school enrollment report, this is true for all the high schools, except Cleveland. There is no real reason why Cleveland could not have accepted a few more students but Franklin is plenty full.

The next challenge has to do with "why the upper grades are smaller" At the moment, there is no way to easily distinguish between actual high school drop outs, running start students and part time running start students in the head count numbers. There is a long hard way, which is to compare the SPS reports to the OSPI reports but ... in all honestly, I have no idea why something so simple, just isn't included in the enrollment report.

All you need to do is add a line item for running start students and you can get a measure of the drop out rate vs the running start rate.

JvA said…
Thanks, Lynn, for the tip, and thanks, Melissa and Kellie, for the context.

As Council Member Harrell was leaving, I asked him about what he had said about the caps and what the basis for the caps was (eg, building capacity?) as I wasn't sure how much Director Patu knew. (One of the themes of her opening statement was that she often learns of district goings-on through her constituency.) But she jumped in and said that "we did that to boost enrollment at Rainier Beach" (a paraphrase, not an exact quote).

I'm a big supporter of Director Patu and hope to talk to her about this again some time, perhaps in a less crowded forum. I almost always agree with her and I know she's fully committed to all SE kids, so I'd like more info on this topic. It seems to me the basis of any enrollment cap for Cleveland, the city's only STEM-focused HS, should be building capacity (understanding that's not as simple calculation, as Kellie noted). I would love to see more interested students pursue science/engineering/tech careers without arbitrarily capping their numbers. There's so much local opportunity in that field, it seems a shame to turn any kids away if we don't have to.

JvA said…
Sebrena Burr organized the meeting. I heard about it through a Facebook post to the District 2 group as well as word of mouth through fellow SE busybodies. :)

It sounds like the idea was hatched only two weeks ago. The follow-up is planned for September. I can email Melissa about it and ask if she can post here the moment I hear the details.

Anonymous said…
Hale's is the only waitlist I have seen move. The number of 9th graders waiting went from 42 to 12 sometime in the last week.

I'm with Kellie - what's the state secret? Also, why not explain how the waitlists do or don't move.

But Kellie, the difference about Cleveland is it's an Option School. No application to it from any region should be capped (unless something has changed about enrolling in Option Schools and I missed it). All enrollment forms should be treated equally. In fact, if an Option School is overenrolled, the second tiebreaker (after sibs) is Geo Zone and then lottery.

Anonymous said…
Choice and neighborhood school assignment are antithetical. It was always a district lie to get buy off on removing choice for parents fearing desegregation. What? 10% choice is ok? 90% get no choice? Parents thought if they had a prayer of admission to escape their neighborhood school, they'd figure out how to work it. They were wrong. In a neighborhood assignment pattern, you can't reserve seats. You never know who will show up in fall. The next step in completing the move to neighborhood schools, change the boundaries to utilize all schools. Ranier Beach will be filled one way or another. Private school capacity is maxed out too, so there's no escaping desegregation this time.

Lynn said…
Cleveland's capacity is 896. Last year's 9th through 12th grade classes totaled 621 students. Junior and senior enrollment is reduced by about 8% for running start enrollment. In order for Cleveland to receive funding for full enrollment, they'd need a freshman class next year of about 310 students. This is Cleveland's problem - the district hasn't adjusted the size of the freshman class to take into account running start enrollment.

The district chose not to allow RBHS students into Franklin this year and the excuse was that more attendance area students will enroll over the summer and seats must be saved for them. I don't recall seeing anything in the enrollment procedures that allows for this. Apparently some rules still aren't being followed.

Lokking at the spreadsheet Kellie pointed out, 341 out of 3,503 freshman last year received an open choice assignment to an attendance area school. Only 22 of those were from RBHS. Where do RB students enroll? Cleveland.
Anonymous said…
Thank you. Sebrena Burr was very articulate and her brother's story is heartbreaking.

It shows how important it is to help students with dyslexia and she gets it. Sebrena made a very compelling tie-in between his death and the school system failure to address his academic needs.

seattle citizen said…
Yes, what happened to "choice"? As was pointed out, 10% of seats were to be choice, and it was my hope that that would help maintain at least SOME diversity. But since there are few choice seats left, north end schools get as white as their neighborhoods and south end schools get as brown as theirs. Our city resegregates.
Anonymous said…
seattle citizen

The north end of Seattle is very integrated regardless of choice. Look at the north end schools numbers they paint a very different picture than what you're writing. Yes, there are a few schools that are located on the northwest and northeast fringe that are predominantly white, but that's a major change from the 80s when most north end school where 99% white.

kellie said…
So what happened to choice?

The limited choice model is really a game of musical chairs. There are enough seats for everyone but only just enough seats. Therefore, you can "choose" to take a seat, that someone has vacated but you can't choose to take a seat that is already full.

The musical chairs part of the game starts with the open enrollment for the option schools. When someone picks an option school, over their attendance area school, that leaves a vacated attendance area seat. The vacated seats are then filled by a choice student ... or ... if the attendance area has grown so that the 9th grade class is larger than 25% of the school's capacity, then it is not filled at all.

In other words, there has been enough overall growth at the high schools level that there are very few if any open seats. It is now more than three years since the middle schools were completely full. It should not be a surprise that as those students rolled up, high school is also now full.
kellie said…

There is nothing in the enrollment reports that would suggest that Rainier Beach students have less choice than everyone else. It is simply that as high school enrollment is growing, choice seats are the first thing to go and Rainier Beach has the largest number of historical students electing a choice seat. In other words, Rainier Beach feels the pain of reduced choice seats more but it is not targeted at RB.

Here is the link to the enrollment report school choice trends. I am including the full link because too many hyper links have been breaking on the new website.

Last year, there were 848, 9th grade choice application and 1048 overall high school choice applications.

For 9th grade at Cleveland, there were 176 first choice applications and 220 9th graders assigned to the school. The Oct 1 enrollment report had Cleveland at 197.

This means that everyone who picked Cleveland as first choice got in and therefore, it is reasonable to assume that anyone from the RB attendance area that picked Cleveland during open enrollment would have gotten in. Plus the geozone should help. (However, I can't find a working link to the high school maps)

Rainier's Beach's enrollment did grow by about 120 students. However, most of that was at the upper grades. 9th grade only grew by 16 students.

kellie said…
Here is the last part of this complicated little story. While RB did have full access to Cleveland during open enrollment, the wait list and post open enrollment is another conversation entirely and the post open enrollment story does support the theory from Harrell and others.

IMHO, folks are correct in that Cleveland is being capped at an artificially low enrollment number. 250 would be an easy number for the school to handle at 9th grade and that would be a full 25% increase or about 50 students over this year's 9th grade enrollment.

Cleveland's cohort size has been closer to 225 over the last few years and the 12th grade class is pretty small at 188. The 12th grade class is a good indication of cohort size and attrition as that class entered under the choice model.

All of those numbers add up to ... Cleveland can clearly take 250 students in the 9th grade and natural attrition will keep the school under its 900 student capacity.

Bottom line: there is no direct exclusion of Rainier Beach from Cleveland. ALL students get the same treatment for option schools. HOWEVER, the effect of artificially limiting enrollment at Cleveland to less than 250 for 9th and 10th grades gives the impression that Rainier Beach students are being targeted.

Once again, when the district limits access to basic enrollment data, the default becomes that rumor and innuendo become the story.

At the moment, despite multiple public records requests, from multiple people, I have still not seen any solid information about next year's enrollment. By "solid information" I mean information that I could get with a phone call at most neighboring school districts.
seattle citizen said…
Zzz, I was thinking g mainly of high schools. There are three north of Ship Canal. Yes, Ingraham (north) has a more diverse draw area and is therefore more diverse, but I know Ballard (south part of NW up to 8th - draws from QA, Mag, Ballard) is getting whiter. Not sure about Roosevelt (south part of NE) but imagine it's similar to Ballard.
JvA said…
Kellie -- My understanding from yesterday matches what you're saying:

The district is using an artificially low enrollment cap on Cleveland in order to bolster enrollment at Rainier Beach. But there is no direct exclusion of kids from the Rainier Beach attendance area.
Anonymous said…
@Seattle Citizen, Nathan Hale HS is also north of the ship canal and is extremely diverse - filled with young people from a variety on backgrounds. - NP
Charlie Mas said…
When STEM started at Cleveland, we were told that the school would enroll 1,000 students - 250 at each grade level. It's described fully in the Board motions for the creation of the school and for the initial software purchase.

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