Lakeside Considering "Micro-School" to Satisfy Demand

Seattle is growing and with it, there are more school-aged children.

Most of you know that Seattle has always held steady - at least for the last 30+years - with private school enrollment of about 25%.  At one time, that was a problem for SPS but now, I'd be willing to bet the district is glad so many people go private.

A reader let me know that Lakeside, one of top private schools in our area, is considering opening a "micro-school" to meet demand.  From their newsletter:

The catalyst for this work was a basic supply and demand issue: There is huge student demand to attend Lakeside and comparatively few spots available. Given constraints of campus space and class size, Lakeside turns away a considerable number of stellar students every year. The board anticipated that Seattle's projected growth would only make the demand increase. Furthermore, as independent school costs around the country continue to rise, they wanted to explore how to meet the need for an independent school that is more economically accessible to the middle class.
That last part - about it being economically accessible to the middle class - is followed by this:

Things to know about the micro-school:

  • The Lakeside Board of Trustees has set fall 2018 as the target date for opening the school.
  • It will serve 160 students in grades 9-12. Tuition will be set at approximately $17,000 per year.
  • We hope to start with 80 students, likely freshmen and sophomores, and grow by 40 students each year – one grade level at a time.
  • We hope to lease a site in the general area of the intersection of I-5 and I-90.
  • The school will be separate from but affiliated with Lakeside, with a different educational model, admissions process, and student-life program.
  • The board has approved $300,000 for the research and development phase; a donor gave $1 million toward startup costs.
Lakeside's regular tuition is $32K a year.  I really had no idea it had gone that high.

So between this kind of move by private schools and new charter schools, it will be interesting to see who goes where.

I can say that if the district does not get its act together - to be transparent, coherent, consistent to all students - they will may be less-than-happy with their demographics and how that plays out for resources and outcomes.


Anonymous said…
Reading this just makes me more bitter about the lack of communication and transparency from SPS around the interrelated issues of capacity planning and the location and delivery models for AL. A message like this from the district that embraces the growing AL population and shows intention to serve...would be AMAZING!

We can't wait for other private schools to jump on board. The need is great.

HCC Momvocate
Lynn said…
I'd be interested in this particularly because the original campus is just too far from our home. They could fill several schools of that size. Wish they were starting with middle school actually.
Po3 said…
$128K for high school? No thank you.
But more power to them, I am sure every building they open will be packed quickly.
Kinda brilliant.

Well, the "micro-Lakeside" would "only" be $68K for four years.
Anonymous said…
This is just what all the tax-haven using business leaders in the area love to see. A government system (public education) that can't or refuses to serve students. Now we all have to move to the private sector for rigorous education. They would call it market forces in action. I would like to know what Melissa sees for the future of public education in Seattle. I think these last few years represent the movement of Seattle into the big leagues, city-wise. Where the students of means move to private schools and the students without means are left in what amounts to a government babysitting system. Frankly, I hate to see it happen.

Pessismistic, I should write a thread on your query (I actually was asked to write about what I think Seattle education will look like in a couple of year by a local magazine.)

If I didn't know better, I'd think someone was trying to drive this district into the ground. It's hard to fathom how the majority of our schools are pretty good and yet the management gets no better. And the management has some seemingly very bright people and yet they go in circles.

But, the ed reform movement loves this kind of thing and yes, we will end up with tons of fly-by-night charters and private schools (where you can use a voucher to get in ) and districts will be left with the most high-needs kids and struggle.
Anonymous said…
Smart move, Lakeside. I anticipate demand will be high enough that they will still turn away qualified students. I'm curious if their educational model will include online learning as a means of keeping costs low.

Anonymous said…
Lakeside offers very generous scholarships.

Anonymous said…
I sure wish liberal Seattle would dig deep and look at itself. What's that, Lakeside is making a play to be "accessible for the middle class"? The role of government is just to take care of the poor -- to hell with our shared responsibility for the common good! Seventy-three percent for Bernie but we can't even talk about a capital gains tax, much less an income tax.


Jet City mom said…
There is a lot of money in private education in Seattle.
One private school just purchased a resort in north central washington for a satellite campus.
Anonymous said…
I think this is a terrible idea. So they are going to have two campuses- one for the rich kids and one for middle class kids? How do they think this is going to play out long term?

Teach Everyone
Anonymous said…
Whatever-- I could be wrong but think Seattle proper would support taxes that fund our education system. As you stated many voted for Bernie. The issue is our state government and conservative areas outside of city of Seattle.
Teach Everyone-- I think they are just trying a different model of education out that costs less to operate. The main campus already awards financial aid and middle and low income kids attend, along with the rich.
Anonymous said…
I commend them. Good education should be more accessible in this city, and if Lakeside wants to take the lead in begin the transformation, I applaud them. Lakeside and Northwest School and a few others have gotten out of hand expensive, approaching $30k per year. Our public schools in Seattle don't have room and send kids off to running start. There aren't many good alternatives in the middle, and I hope this changes.

Seattlites open their wallets and hearts to support many progressive approaches to public policy. Things may change soon in terms of compassion for homeless people, but I think the city council is off the rails and a few need to be voted out.

Tax Me
Anonymous said…
Generally, I would happily pay a bit more for education, but I would NOT vote to increase my taxes for our current administrators. I know if we gave SPS more money now, they would hire more "middle management suck-ups" and not put it in the classroom.

As for Lakeside, I think it could be a good idea. We certainly need more private schools spots. I have always been pro public schools, but my kids only get one chance at an education, and I no longer trust SPS to give my child a good one. We are not suburbs people, so we are looking private.

kellie said…
What I find interesting is Lakeside idea that a small high school, akin to the Center School would cost about half. SPS has insisted that small high schools are expensive.

I have a theory on this. It appears that small schools like Center graduate everyone with 24 credits, while the other high schools are 20-21 credits, with many students needing to TA a class to get a .5 credit.

I wonder what the cost per credit issued might be for the various high schools. No clue on how you might collect that data but I'm pretty confident that Lakeside has a good handle on the economic of education.
Anonymous said…
For those who are interested in the concept for practical reasons, searching for "Lakeside" & "Microschool" will yield public articles on the planning.

The school is slotted to open in Fall 2018; they are planning to find a location in central seattle (the I-5/I-90 intersection is mentioned). The school wouldn't offer what we normally consider extracurriculars (sports, performance arts, . . . .).

The school is being targeted towards "middle" SES families (I have no idea what this is supposed to constitute in Seattle) who can afford the full cost of a 17K education but balk at the 30K cost of schools like Lakeside. My read of the articles suggests that financial aid will not be a part of the 17K model. Selective admissions is part of the model (both in admissions and in the 17K price tag).

I wonder, but do not see addressed, how much of the model will include cash payments, from, say, businesses that want to support a downtown school model. I also believe that the cost will be modelled by hiring teachers on an ad hoc basis (although at higher pay) and expecting greater roles from the teachers (i.e. administrative duties, etc.).

So in the comparison to the small public school (like Center School) I would argue that budgets will be different because of flexibility on teacher hiring -- that is teachers will be hired when enrollment is known, by using selective admissions + the price tag to limit who is served by the school, and, yes, to test a new "disruptive" model of education.

TechyMom said…
Private schools typically pay teachers less than public schools, but the working conditions are much better. Small classes, prep time, support from admin and parents for dealing with behavior problems (yes, those happen at private school too), academic freedom, and a more consensus/team based management style are all things I've heard from teachers at private schools.

I could see a small school, with a tight-knit group of dedicated long-term teachers, a small, inexpensive building, and very little admin, being able to run pretty lean and be affordable.
Anonymous said…
I'm not trying to say that it's a bad model. I'm saying it is a bad idea to put it under the brand of Lakeside and market it as a more affordable option. Eventually you are going to have a high school full of bright kids who question why they don't have the opportunities that their peers up north do. I think it is an unwise move politically. Perhaps if they name it something else and it has a completely separate curriculum it will work.

Teacher everyone
Anonymous said…
It's interesting that many people blame the state for the funding problem in SPS. SPS expenditures are north of $15,000 per pupil. That amount puts SPS near the top in the nation. How this district continues to blame the state --- and other citizens around the state --- for its mismanagement of funds would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Anonymous said…
Only in the "microcosm" of Seattle could a "microschool" costing $17,000 with dubious financial aid be considered "affordable."


Jet City mom said…
I agree with techymom.
I have a child who attended private schools on financial aid. She would have fallen between the cracks in the public school system, and I expected ( although I am very happy that this wasnt the case) to only have one child, so we felt it was important enough to sacrifice for her education.

Union workers are generally paid more but- but personally, if I was a teacher I would take stability and greater autonomy over more per hour. Which is not the case of course in all private schools, but in the time that her sister in public had three changes of principal, the private school kid had none, and in fact the director only retired a few years ago.

Private schools also have ( at least the ones that we are familiar with), classrooms that are half the size of public school classes, more parental support, better financial support for equipment and supplies, and frankly, more freedom to deal with miscreants.

Demand is strong enough for private schools that the days of kids who were expelled from public school being sent to O'Dea, are long gone, although it is possble that some private schools can help a student who is bored and acting out to get back on track.
When we had problems, the school was very responsive, although the public school was eventually responsive, it likely took longer because of numbers of students, and that was at one of SPD smaller alternative schools. The counselor who reached out to me was funded by a grant, and the grant wasnt renewed. ( it also was life threatening behavior, I was so grateful that her friends and the counselor that intervened.
Both my kids also had learning challenges and the private school provided services that fell under tuition, and were open to whomever needed it, while even with an IEP, the public school did not provide as much support.

I think that Lakeside lite would have a lot of interest, as I have the impression that the school has gotten away from its original mission. It seems to be the place where the elite send their progeny, if they can't afford Andover or Hotchkiss, and studiousness is not always at the forefront.
But it also emphasizes how we are now a town where some have an obscene amount of money, and everyone else is scraping by, some more successfuly than others.
Anonymous said…
Most of the Sanders supports DONT PAY PROPERTY TAXES! Read the demos on them and you will see it's true. Sanders supporters don't understand that nothing is free!

Sanders baked
Anonymous said…
Lakeside lite is a great name!

Actually, Lakeside "original flavor" seems to be much less of a place for the offspring of the elite than it used to be. For that they are to be commended. *And* they have tons of financial aid, if your kid(s) are the kind they are looking for - i.e., super-bright, achievement-focussed, ambitious go-getters, especially kids of color who fit the above profile.

I wonder what kind of students they will be looking for at Lakeside lite? When I first read about this micro-school, I fantasized that it might be a school of the arts. Alas, not. Probably stem- or technology- focused, as all schools seem to be these days.

Anonymous said…
"It's interesting that many people blame the state for the funding problem in SPS. SPS expenditures are north of $15,000 per pupil."

Hmmm- In LI many excellent public schools that are like Lakeside in resources, class size etc. ( under 20 to a high school class etc) in surburban areas were spending upwards of $27,000 three years ago in 2013. Most are spending at least $20,000 and they are good schools also with small classes.

They are districts that have somewhat comparable cost of living to Seattle but HIGH (double-triple) property taxes & a state income tax, but lower sales tax. But they pay some of the highest school taxes in the nation. Very affluent, as well as poor and middle all send kids to public school.
Anonymous said…
Jet City

You said about Lakeside: "studiousness is not always at the forefront." Do you base this on first-hand information?

I ask because I have one kid at Lakeside and one in SPS. Your statement does not match our experience at the school. The vast majority of students are excited to learn and apply themselves fully in class. My kid would say the kids are really academically focused.

As for your other statement that it's a school for the "elite" I can't say. I can say that there are some known last names there, but the majority of families there no one has heard of (like us). There are several other fancy schools in Seattle with similar admission costs like Bush, Seattle Academy and Northwest School.

Anonymous said…
My guess is that "long term stability" for teachers will not be one of the models of the "microschool" (I hate that name). First, the school itself will be an experiment. Second, a significant goal will be to match staff to enrollment.

I wholeheartedly agree that the "Lakeside Lite" concept is a terrible one. If there is demand for a school that is more focussed in its offerings and available at a lower cost and at a different location I think intertwining it with the real Lakeside is bad for both Lakeside and Lakeside Lite. Intertwining will inevitably draw comparisons and misperceptions. I also wonder and question what it means for Lakeside, in terms of how Lakeside is managed and for Lakesides budget and fundraising.

Joseph Rockne said…
One benefit of creating a second school would be an ability to avoid the need to provide financial discounts to attend the main campus. If you can't afford the $31k you could go to the less expensive alternative school. They would have a higher financial yield per student at the main campus.

Anonymous said…
Bernie supporter here. I pay a hell of lot of taxes. All the Bernie supporters I know, pay taxes.

Anonymous said…
One would hope, given the demographics of the surrounding area, that Lakeside Lite would provide significant financial aid to qualified kids from the south and central neighborhoods.

It's hard to believe they're doing this for money (don't think they really need any). But knowing Lakeside, I'd guess that there is probably some big, purposeful, heavily-thought-out educational mission behind this new "micro-school."

Eric B said…
Unless Bernie supporters are living under a bridge (while possible, didn't match the demo I saw at Key Arena), they all pay property taxes. Many or most of them pay it as a part of their rent. Just because they're renters doesn't mean their landlords don't pay taxes on the buildings they live in.

And before you pull out the "they don't see the bill" argument, I own a house. When property taxes (or insurance) went up, I got a notice from the bank saying the escrow dollars are now going to be X per month instead of Y. Yes, I could have looked up the exact changes from the previous year, but I'd be pretty surprised if most people do that.
Anonymous said…
"they all pay property taxes." You are wrong, as Clinton correctly pointed out "They live in their parents basement. Are you calling Clinton a liar?

BTW, Sanders is irrelevant and is the only Socialists I know of who owns 3 homes and drives a $220K car.

Reality bites
Anonymous said…
There's no proof that a renter sees the $1200 tax increase in their rent, while there is proof that home owners will see a $1200 tax increase on a $620K home if all these levies pass. Low income SHA renters have NEVER shared the local tax burden due to excessive tax breaks for SHA properties, low income housing levies and subsidized rent. If Seattle enacts rent control part of the system provides for property tax freeze or tax limitations on properties under rent control. In that case where do you think the city looks to make up the short fall?

It's much easier for a renter to move or walkaway than a home owner. Just because a group thinks handouts at other peoples expense are good, shouldn't mean property owners get taxed out of their homes.

Sanders baked
Anonymous said…
As a renter, I can assure you that my landlord passes on ALL increases, and that rents in this city are extraordinarily high and can be raised virtually overnight. What renters don't get is that mortgage tax deduction - a loophole for the wealthy and anyone who can afford to own a home. -NP
Anonymous said…
I think Lakeside is climbing in to a techie initiated bandwagon on "disruptive" microschools. I did a quick search and found a lot articles promising the hype I associate with startups. I think it's different from the ed reform/charter models because the concepts promise to be "individually tailored" and child centered. But, I think many plan on managing this individualization with technology.

(altschools, NOLA schools, and the Kahn Lab school, for examples).

Lakeside's high school plan seems like an extension -- since many of the examples are for younger kids.

Greenwoody said…
Lakeside isn't the only school doing this - look at Seattle Academy's plans:

SPS is totally failing families in this city and doing so quite deliberately. The board won't step in and do anything about it, so Nyland and Tolley and their ilk are able to repeatedly gut effective education in favor of the fads their education reform friends keep pushing.

Until the school board steps in and fires Nyland and Tolley and demands better instruction and insists that SPS staff work with parents rather than against them, you will continue to see a growing exodus toward private schools. One has to wonder if this is deliberate.
Anonymous said…
I think it is deliberate. The cynical elimination of Advanced Learning opportunities for all students has clearly been planned. And you are correct to target Tolley as he is the last holdover from MGJ when AL removal started in earnest. It is fundamentally a means of catering to the "business" of education. Drive the high achieving students into private school while draining their parents pockets. Set up "business-educational partnerships" with the private schools to educate students toward valuing short-term profits. Previously, AL opportunities and some great teachers in SPS gave parents without a lot of money but desiring rigor in education an option. Now, the "education bubble" is mirroring the "real estate bubble" and the high salaries paid to the new influx of tech workers. And the best SPS teachers who were fundamental in enriching and developing AL programs are retiring. Others are moving to private school to avoid the constant hectoring from downtown.

In the end the SPS will devolve into just another big city "troubled" school district. All the kids (of all colors) eager to learn will have fled to greener ($$) pastures. All the private schools in Seattle whose entrance is based on testing or ability offer scholarships to low income students of color operating at a high achievement level. They already cherry pick these kids out of the public schools - thus giving the impression that high achieving kids of color are not getting into advanced learning programs in the public schools. I know this because I have seen it. UCD, Evergreen, SCDS, Lakeside - they offer full ride scholarships to these deserving students. I think that is great, but by removing AL and other educational programs from the public school system they remove any incentive for anyone else to remain there if they possess the means to get out.

I'm a naive idiot in that I would not have predicted this. I would have thought that a top-notch public school system would be attractive to businesses trying to recruit the best workers. Instead Seattle is going down this other path....


Anonymous said…
If SPS did it's job - providing the means for all of its students to achieve their academic potential, there wouldn't be any demand for all of Seattle's private schools. Parents that prioritize their kids' educations and don't see a way to fulfill that need in SPS will find another way. They'll move to the suburbs or stay in Seattle but attend private schools. These are not bad people. These are good parents looking out for their kids.

We need to focus our attention on the root of the problem, SPS, and not waste our time with moralizing about these parents and private schools.

Anonymous said…
Families choose private schools for other reasons than just academics - a faith based education being one of the reasons. Stability and predictability, smaller class sizes, more personalized attention, and college counseling also make the list. Even if SPS provided more solid academics, they can not offer some of the intangibles that private schools offer. That said, SPS almost seems intent on disenfranchising students that other districts would embrace and serve as part of their basic mission to educate all students. I'd agree with @ack that the district is headed down the wrong path. Anecdotally, when we attended the Open House for Bishop Blanchet, what impressed us most was their emphasis on serving and supporting all students. We felt they truly wanted the best for all students, and they would support students whether they wanted extra challenge or needed extra support. Isn't that what we want for all of our children?

Jet City mom said…
I was just at SAAS Saturday evening for an event, which was my first opportunity to check out the STREAM building.

They are planning to build new middle school classrooms, but the middle school has been housed in Temple de Hirsch for decades, as new facilities have been built for SAAS and consolidated from their locations blocks away, it makes sense that the middle school is included.
Anonymous said…
I don't know. The idea of all these multi-million, super-state-of-the-art, tech-savvy, slick, STEAM-STREAM-totally green new schools popping up all over Seattle makes me slightly depressed. There's something even immoral about the sheer amount of money being spent on this kind of education for the privileged few, when so many schools around the country just need books and paper and pencils. I mean ... yuck. It just feels .... repellent.

Anonymous said…
For sure, stop building multi-million dollar football stadium for public HS would help buy more paper and pencils in the state of Texas. How about whittling down the number of admin people @JSCEE? Surprising to find the city of Seattle has more than 10,000 employees with 1 in 5 making more than $100,000. Yet begging for more expanded hours for our local library is a dead end. The 2007 recession hasn't ended you see. In the meantime, people are checking out fewer paper books and more e-books. Is that greener? No worries, if you are depressed and feeling repellent, Seattle with its 10,000 city employees will open our parks, sidewalks and green belts to camping for the down and out to counteract this privilege. Because public spending of $60 million/ year isn't enough. Living in....

Alice's world
Awk, you hit many notes I hope to in a future thread.
Jet City mom said…
I think it is great that it is a green building, and I wish Seattle schools were as interested in that as other districts.
Deferring maintanance I expect causes greater waste both of money and materials in the long run.

But if I had to chose between excellent staff and a state of the art building, I would pick staff every time.

But then I liked the old Garfield building better than the new one, even though my mom said that it was old when she attended in the late 40's.

But still, staff makes a difference.
Does anyone think the administration of SPD has improved since they moved into the JSCCEE?
No, Jet City Mom, I do not.
Deborah James said…
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