High School Boundaries - What Do You Want to Know?

Update: the latest from the district and the High School Boundaries Task Force.

end of update

The Board is to have a Work Session this week (Wednesday - with two of them - one for high school boundaries and one for Budget; I will let you know when the agenda is available which one appears to be going first).

What questions DO you want to see the Board ask/that you want an answer for?  
Please don't say, "A plan for how they will deliver HC services to all the high schools."  It's not going to happen anytime soon.  (I will update the Seattle Schools This Week thread with the resolution on HC high school services by Directors Geary and DeWolf.)

I worry that much of the discussion may be - yet again - taken up by where HC students will go.

One question I have is where have the Executive Directors been in all this?  They oversee high schools.  I never once heard Mr. Jessee state that EDs had meetings with their region's high school principals and what unified messages they heard from those regions. 

Here's a concern from another reader:
Something, that is very difficult to factor for are those families that are willing to rent and move to obtain the school assignment they desire.

It is not against the rules to move to a new rental within boundary. Or to rent and move to a new establishment within the boundary of the school you wish to attend and then rent/lease/airbnb your home until after graduation.

With all of the new construction around BHS and RHS these are two schools quite prone to this legal practice to obtain school of choice. (Provided you actually move and live in your new rented abode.)

With the recent lack of wait list movement this practice is becoming more frequent. (Based on personal knowledge.)

There is an impact to not moving the waitlists that falls beyond the control of Enrollment Planning.

I wish they would consider movement of waitlists to attempt to meet parent demand and a more predictable flow of enrollment.
I note that in years past, the district would investigate reports of people whose children attended a school and yet did not appear to live in the enrollment area.  I don't think the district does that anymore but they may have to consider it.

You might say, "Who can afford that?"  Well, if you have two kids in high school and you really want Roosevelt over going to private school, it would be cheaper.
Yet another reader:
The number of housing units being added in the Roosevelt corridor, many within a few blocks of Roosevelt light rail and some being added at the fringes near LCW, along with proposed zoning changes near RHS, makes one wonder if Roosevelt boundaries drawn now will even hold until 2021. 
Having lived in that area, I concur.  It's going to be a dogfight to be in Roosevelt.

Highlights from the discussion at the last Board meeting on this topic:

As I mentioned, Directors Mack and Burke led this discussion because they are on the Operations Committee. You'll see more of their comments.

- Burke wanted a "small number of viable scenarios" from staff for HC, dual language, grandfathering, etc.  He seems worried about unintended consequences from not clearly parsing out "if then, then that or this?" for scenarios.

- Mack, as I previously reported, listed factors to determine the boundaries as stated in the Student Assignment Plan.

-The discussion of a downtown high school came up with Geary asking when that might be able to come on-line.  Herndon said that would depend - and then threw out the idea of a levy, separate from BEX V, just for that school.  (I like that better than having two high schools on BEX V - new downtown and RBHS - because two high schools will take up a huge amount of funding.  I question whether it would pass.)  He said 2022 but Kellie LaRue and I think it would be much further out, like 2025 because of funding and having to negotiate with the City.  He also stated that the model for the downtown one - given it has to have a stadium - is Union City, NJ where the stadium is on the roof.  It cost $165 M but that was several years ago.  I put that price tag at $200M.

- DeWolf said he had a lot of email but mostly from Ballard and wondered about other parts of the city.  Herndon said they had heard from parents, a few students and teachers.

- Harris said her community meetings were many HC parents wondering about the program for high school.

- Director Geary always has good and then puzzling statements.  She spoke of "trying to engineer a child's education" but it was unclear to me if she meant that was good or bad.  I actually think most parents DO try to guide their child's education.  She also said, in Board comments, that parents were trying to "rationally bring emotional passion before us" in their testimony on boundaries.

- President Harris asked a key question, "What about the PASS (principals association) contract and putting in HC to Lincoln?  Does that violate the contract?"  Mike Starosky said there was nothing in the contract about HCC or planning, just that if a new school opened, there would be a planning principal.  He said she was "doing the best she can" with direction from the Board and Superintendent.

- Burke wondered about the boundaries being viable if returning HC students then would bump out students from further out. Geary chimed in and said that she wanted "an anchor" for boundaries.  (She said this was a contradiction of herself because she had previously stated that they have no way of knowing the future and how the boundaries would stand).

- Mack stated that the Board's plan to return HC students to their regional high school would not change from 2021 but the transition time was the thing.  Burke agreed and spoke of "portables and mitigation."

- Pinkham said he thought that the schools would be even more racially imbalanced with the return of HC students to their schools.  Herndon stated that they can project enrollment but not demographics and, with a growing city, those demographics are changing quickly.

- Harris spoke of the need for funding and mitigation for AL classes.  She also mentioned how the district cannot undo what the city has done for decades with zoning laws.  Herndon said she was correct that it is an urban city and the busing attempts had "impactful" results.  He said the transportation costs to the district and students being very far out of their communities are two big issues.  The goal is for every school "to be a fantastic school."

- Pinkham seemed irritated at the focus on HC (perhaps not realizing that where those students go highly impacts the boundaries).  He also stated that he wished that among the languages that he sees on signs in schools, that there would be a Native American language as most of the schools sit on indigenous land.  He said he realized that not many people spoke the language but it would honor that heritage.

I also note that both Geary and Burke spoke to their families histories of NOT going to the closest school.  It was the first time I have heard Geary acknowledge that one of her children had been in HC at Ingraham.

Burke said, "Where you go, that's your community.  He called walking "a convenience" and talked about the spirit of compromise.  I'm not sure I would agree about the "convenience" because the ability to have kids walk and bike to school is a big issue both for costs and health and community.

Pinkham spoke of flashing back to when Native American children were taken from their homes and forced into non-Native boarding schools.  But he also said, in thinking about what we say to kids, "home is wherever I am."

I will again say that this idea of keeping kids together from K-12 really surprises me.  I don't have issue with wanting to stay in your region but kids are resilient more than you may know and they make friends and find their way.  It puzzles me about keeping kids together because what happens when they go to college?  Will they fall apart without that cohort?  (And the number of times in public testimony that "cohort" was used made me smile given the pushback against an HC cohort.)


GLP said…
I would like the Board to ask staff to review each change area, and speak to the following:
- Has there been analysis of transportation, walk-ability, etc.?
- Is the change to this area driven by capacity or another factor? (for example, aligning with middle school boundaries)

If the Board has not received full analysis of the survey parents completed in Nov/Dec on high school boundaries, I would like them to request it. There were 5,000 respondents and 2,000 comments. This was one of the main ways for parents to give input and I haven’t seen full results posted anywhere.

Anonymous said…
I also must respectfully disagree with Director Burke (and I have met him a few times and been very impressed with him). With the traffic situation in Seattle and the impact that driving has on the environment, I think that walking (or biking) is a necessity. -TeacherMom
Anonymous said…
I want to know why staff did not actually produce a map that works with HC pathways continuing when staff was asked to make one. Lincoln boundaries would need to shrink in order for the pathways to continue, but given how much less disruptive it would be for all the attendance area students in the north end, we should at least see what that would look like.

Anonymous said…
I would prefer to see boundaries drawn that allow students to progress together from K-12. Combining several elementary schools into a middle school provides an opportunity to branch out and make new friends within the support of a child’s long term community, I worry about the effect of splitting just a few students from an elementary school into a different middle school than most of their classmates. There’s no reason to add to the stress of those years.

I know of other districts outside the state that move all students (both attendance area and those with choice seats) into the next school together to provide the consistency of the community.

Something else I’ve seen is an Assignment Plan based on pyramids. Several elementary schools progress into a single middle school which flows into a high school. This set of schools is paired with another set. The paired high schools offer different programs (one AP and one IB for instance) and students are allowed some flexibility in choice between the two.

Fairmount Parent
GLP, I requested to see those comments and was told that it would take until March. I have only heard what Mr. Jessee has said but yes, a real report would be useful.
BL said…
Pinkham's idea of including a Native American language on the schools' name signs is a wonderful idea. I'm completely in favor. We should especially start with Sealth. The incorrect "th" on the end of that is an outrage. Let the sign include his real name: siʔał (pronounced much closer to "Seattle" than "Sealth"). Seattle students of all students in the country should at least learn this.
M Mom said…
There has to be some flexibility in the alignment of boundaries between elementary to middle to high school for students who are bullied or ostracized at one school. Some flexibility and choice is necessary and the old transition assignment plan allowed for this. We can't force students being abused by their classmates to stay with those abusers all the way through high school. It's cruel.

But I agree that it's also crazy to separate small groups of odd-man-out students (whether they're SPED, HC, ELL, Maple Leaf residents, etc.) from their cohorts and force them to recreate a new group of friends every several years.
Anonymous said…
I want to know why the board and admin are trying to spread HC to all highschools when in some places there isn’t the pipeline in place to produce high numbers of students having prerequisites for advanced coursework by 9th grade. This is a backwards approach, IMHO. Start the other way around: add one year ahead in every elementary school, plus two years ahead math and one and two year ahead science in every middle school, THEN dissolve pathways and cohorts at the high school level. This current “plan” is silly and drops kids into schools that won’t be able to serve them.

Turn Around
Anonymous said…
sleeper, aren't they presenting a version of that option in Fv4.2?

David said…
I'm so glad I'm not the only person who cringes when people say "Sealth" as though it sounded like stealth! The regular pronunciation of "Seattle" is much closer to the Lushootseed pronunciation; see the image of the correct Lushootseed spelling here: http://www.historylink.org/File/5071
It would be wonderful to see if a Lushootseed/Salish course couldn't be introduced at at least one high school. Or maybe on a rotating basis at different schools. It's an amazing language with quite a lot of literature we are fortunate has been written down (and in many cases recorded spoken). Some linguists say that Salish doesn't really distinguish between verbs and nouns, and some sentences appear that have no vowels.

Another language with local relevance that would be wonderful to see covered maybe at elementary level is Chinook Jargon. This was the old trade language up and down the Northwest Coast, with elements from various First People's languages as well as English and French but with a simplified grammar. It's the origin of so many placenames around here that we all know: Tilicum, Tyee, Alki, Sahalie, etc. Chinook Jargon was spoken routinely by locals even into the 20th century.
I want to know why the board and admin are trying to spread HC to all highschools when in some places there isn’t the pipeline in place to produce high numbers of students having prerequisites for advanced coursework by 9th grade."

Yes, Kellie has pointed this out and I concur. Harris said at the last Board meeting that there will HAVE to be dollars and mitigation in place to make this work. There is no magic public school fairy to do that.

I have to wonder if HC will end up being like the CSIPs - just another box for staff to check that doesn't really exist in reality.
Another NW said…
I want the board/staff to outline grandfathering options for those of us enrolling our current 8th graders very soon. Will there be grandfathering for 10th graders not in a change area to Lincoln?(e.g. Ballard>Ingraham, Hale>Ingraham). Any choice enrollment priority to say Ingraham if living in a change area so students can just start 9th grade in 2018 at the high school they would be moved to in 2019?

Another NW
James Wagar said…

Responses to our public records requests confirm that no transportation study or analysis was done by the task force or staff related to any of the boundary map scenarios.

We have made the board aware of this.

Anonymous said…
Thanks, @James.

That's shocking! How can the board make a sound decision w/o a transportation analysis?

Anonymous said…
"I also note that both Geary and Burke spoke to their families histories of NOT going to the closest school." Yes, but traffic has also gotten ten times worse probably since their kids attended. Its going to get even worse especially traveling through downtown from north to south etc. https://projects.seattletimes.com/2018/one-center-city/
Anonymous said…
As a parent of a student who soon will be in high school and is not in HCC, I want to know what the directors think will change when/if HCC pathways are dissolved and neighborhood high schools serve all HCC students, too. I don't want to know a vision (like more equity or more rigor) -- I want to know what it means on the ground -- like for course offerings. Will there then be an increase in honors and AP classes offered? Will there be a basic standard set of honors and AP classes offered at each high school in the city? Sorry, Melissa, I guess in a way I'm asking what the plan is for HCC, but I'm asking because when I think about the disruption of returning HCC to neighborhood schools in terms of the enormous resulting boundary changes, I wonder what comes from that return for non-HCC students. I'm not at all an HCC hater and HCC students live in neighborhoods, so I'm certainly not saying they shouldn't (or should) go to their neighborhood school. I just want more details about what it means for the schools for them to return (besides potentially being more crowded).
Well, ABC, I was being somewhat facetious. Of course, you can ask and it's a great question especially because 1)some pushback from some principals, 2) cost and 3) the idea that more available rigor will somehow mean more diversity. I mean, in high school, anyone can take any course so no testing needed.
Anonymous said…
In high school students must have the pre-reqs to take the courses. You can not just walk into them.
NP, some AP classes you would need to but not all of them.
Anonymous said…
The new boundary maps have QA and Magnilia joining for middle school, and then pulled apart for high school. Isn’t there existing policy through SAP that middle schools/high schools should align or is that something they “hope for?”
Worried Mom
GLP said…
Worried Mom - No, there is not an existing policy that middle school boundaries align to high school boundaries. In fact, they have not been aligned in the past. From the "2009 Student Assignment Plan" when the current high school boundaries were first drawn and SPS moved from the choice system to attendance area schools:

"There are not feeder patterns from middle school to high school. Each attendance
area high school has its own geographic attendance area." page 7

During the current boundaries process the High School Boundaries Task Force has tried to align middle schools to high schools in some areas. But, it's not feasible to do it everywhere. Unfortunately, given that there is no high school on QA or Magnolia, and there was a huge swell of push back from Magnolia when earlier maps assigned them to Lincoln, I don't see how there is any way QA and Magnolia will end up feeding to the same high school in this round of new boundaries. Hypothetically that could change in the future if a new high school was opened downtown or at Fort Lawton. But, that would be quite a few years from now depending on how it all played out.

At least in the case of QA and Magnolia there would be a large group split to each high school, rather than a few kids split off by themselves. And, personally I've been impressed to see how well my high school daughter has kept in touch with friends at other schools, both through social media and the fact that we still live relatively near those families despite different school assignments.

GLP said…
Melissa - That is ridiculous. The survey I'm referring is different than the one done through Thought Exchange. It was later in the fall, was conducted using Survey Monkey, and the link was sent out to all SPS parents. I use that tool frequently through work and it has easy reporting options that can be configured quickly, which would provide a basic report with all the comments. I do think the data from that survey should be fully analyzed (beyond what can be done in Survey Monkey), and themes should be pulled out from the comments. If Enrollment Planning does not have time to do this, another SPS department could take on that analysis (REA -- Research, Evaluation and Assessment, for example). When it comes to data Enrollment Planning acts like an island and doesn't collaborate with other departments. For a big initiative, like high school boundaries, it's appropriate that other teams would provide support. If data isn't analyzed and shared publicly before March... well, that's just too late and it feels like a pointless exercise. This was emphasized again and again as a key way parents could give input, and that the input would be used to inform changes to the maps. I really want to see evidence that is true and not just an empty gesture to allow the district to say that parents were engaged. Sigh...

James - I was 99% sure that was the case. Given that no transportation analysis was done, I would like the Board to at least ask the staff to revisit each change area that is being moved from a school that is walk-able, and reconsider if those changes are necessary/appropriate. Walk-ability should be prioritized. It's better for our kids, for the environment, for the district budget, and traffic is only getting worse in this growing city.

Anonymous said…

hum as for walkability don't forget the student from west seattle who commuted to IBx at IHS so choice is should trump foot access. but yeah not making lhs a pathway was a braindead attempt to kill hcc. then staff were told about those things we connected to hcc and kellie who know enrollment better than anyone at sps. and they pulled away from hcc for all. that darn state and their laws. the only zero cost option is limited pathways. the only limited interruption plan is at lhs. duh.

funny how quickly they ran away from that million dollar prediction.

no caps
Anonymous said…

really intriguing article in vox:


says most cities are reflecting from redling from days ago. it also says sps has done little to change that as most boundaries are drawn to perpetuate those racial groupings. i would argue look at the wms boundary which buses students past washington to go to meany including those that are just blocks away!

no caps
Still Frustrated at Greenlake said…
We have an 8th grader and a 10th grader and would like to know if the younger will be allowed to stay at the same school (in our case Roosevelt)as our older student. As far as I can tell our youngest will be forced to move to Ingraham for 10th grade while our oldest remains at RHS. This is just unacceptable on many different levels not to mention it would mean 4 different schools in 4 years as our youngest was forced to move from HIMS to Eaglestaff for this school year.

James Wagar said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
The elementary schools don't align with high schools in a clear path. As an example, you have kids going to Wedgwood Elementary who live on the the north side of 95th and can easily walk to Jane Addams Middle School and Nathan Hale High School. There are also kids on the south side of Wedgwood who can easily walk to Eckstein and Roosevelt. All Wedgwood kids go to Eckstein for middle school but those south of 85th (the street Wedgwood is on) go to Roosevelt and those north of 85th go to Hale.

James Wagar said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Wagar said…
[Sorry for the deletions (I was working on mobile and didn't know the deletions would clutter the feed)]


I'm all for walkability and my students walk(ed) to grade and middle school and it's great.

I don't think it's equitable, however, to prioritize walkability for some students if the trade-off is to materially extend the commute of other students.

The one resource students have in equal amounts is time.

We have pushed to keep students between NW 85th and 80th at BHS while continuing to advocate to keep Magnolia there as well.

While our knowledge and efforts center on the boundaries impacting BHS and Magnolia, we value and support the same principles district-wide.

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