Waitlist Work Session/Native American Program Reduced at RESMS

 Here's the agenda which includes the BEX V Work Session on the Facilities Master Plan (which was something of an irritant as it was advertised as BEX V but was really about the FMP).  The Waitlist presentation starts on page 99.

I fear that this thread may disappoint some of you as the actual movement of the waitlists was not the focus of the Work Session on June 25th.

Of interest (in random order):

- Enrollment knows that some schools lose students thru the year but a few - like Interagency - continue to gain students thru the school year.
- On page 101, we see "June Updated Enrollment Projections for 2018-2019".  There are two columns "revised per June" and "revised per February."  The district's count is down by 51 for K-3, up by 48 for grades 4-5, down 18 for 6-8 and up 26 for high school.  Work those numbers and the district is up by ....5 students since February.  Their count for the district is 52,889.
- On page 102, there is a page -  "Projections - Outliers" - something of a catch-all page of stats.  I suspect that the district has always had these kinds of swings among schools but the important fact is at the bottom of the page - "In total, 26 schools identified in one or more of the measurements above. Eleven schools would have a change in teacher allocation of more than 1.0."  
- Waitlists will dissolve on August 31st. Director Mack asked why the waitlists could not be preserved longer but I didn't hear a clear answer. 
- On page 104, there is 2018-2019 School Choice and Waitlists.  As of mid-June, over 2400 students received a new choice assignment.
- Also on page 104, there are 2,736 students on waitlists. That's about 5% of enrollment.

- Page 105, 2018-2019 School Choice and Waitlists is a bullet list of statements. One seems a bit tortured - "Some schools may have seats available overall but not at the requested grade based on the staffing allocated to the school and in these instances a waitlist exists.

I venture that means that the school is not staffed enough at some grade levels to take on new students.  But does that mean the space isn't there?

- Also on page 105, "Nearly half of all schools have reached or exceeded the operational capacity of the building, limiting choice seats."  That's a lot of crowded schools.

- Page 106 is titled, "Waitlists Move for Schools Overcapacity (top 10)".  For example, Ingraham - capacity 1271 has enrollment of 1336 BUT 52 of those enrolled are on waitlists for other schools (in this case, primarily Ballard).

Hamilton, which was always meant to be smaller because of its small facility footprint, has capacity of 978 but enrollment of 1031 but also has 25 kids on a waitlist for other schools.

Interestingly, Roosevelt - capacity 1869 - has an enrollment projection of 1938 BUT has 45 kids on waitlists for other schools.

- page 107 is "Waitlists at Schools with Capacity (top 10)"
Van Asselt has a capacity of 480 and yet has only enrolled 403 students.  But let me point out that the district moved VA into the old African-American Academy which was a K-8.  I really am not comfortable with how the district repurposes buildings and crosses their fingers.

One school on the list - Lafayette - surprised me because I thought it was a popular school.  They are underenrolled by more than 100 students.

The biggest surprise to me on this list?  That Rainier Beach is not there.  I'm sure it's still underenrolled but not enough to make the top ten.

So what high schools are there?  Franklin and West Seattle.  Franklin is underenrolled by almost 150 students which I find very surprising.  And there are 73 students waitlisted to get in which should have prompted a question from the Board but my notes don't reflect that. West Seattle is even more underenrolled - capacity 1215, with enrollment at 937 and they, too, have a large waitlist of 68 students.

Meany, Washington and Whitman Middle Schools are all woefully underenrolled.  There is something wrong that the numbers are off by that much.  What has happened at Washington that so many parents are not choosing it?

- Ballard will be the biggest high school - at 2077 - followed by Roosevelt (1968) and Garfield (1833).  Roosevelt has a large waitlist at 91 but who has the most for high school?  Cleveland at 116 students.  Not sure if STEM-related issues are keeping staff from filling the school - they could take at least 50 more kids according to their capacity.

Nova's numbers continue to drop and that's worrying.  They have a capacity of 400 but couldn't meet their projection of 335 (from their enrollment this year of 312).  They have just 228 students enrolled.  The World School appears to have the same issue. 

- For middle schools Hamilton has the biggest waitlist, 76, while Eckstein which is about at capacity for next year, only has 17 kids on their waitlist.

- For K-8s, there seems to be a huge popularity for some of them.  Pathfinder has 176 students on their waitlist while Hazel Wolf has a whopping 323 kids on their waitlist.  Boren STEM has 132.  Maybe someone should point this out to our new superintendent and talk about replicating successful programs.  Salmon Bay and TOPS both have significant waitlists but they also used to be the most popular K-8s.

- For elementaries, there is a clear away favorite and that's Thornton Creek with a huge waitlist of 110 students.  The closest two after that are Thurgood Marshall at 57 and Fairmount Park at 79.   Here's an interesting on - Cascadia - built for 612 and is slated for 518.  Little Cedar Park will growth from 55 this year to 125 next year with space for 290. 

Several specific school issues:

- so called "tiny schools" like Licton Springs.  It appears that LS K-8 is finally growing but given that the district/Board never had clear expectations for growth, it's hard to justify closing it OR keeping it open.   And, it seems like staff didn't think it would grow because their space has zero growth space.

- From the discussion at the Session, there is growing concern over the rising enrollment at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School.  I see a storm brewing there because it is unclear if just portables are going to solve this problem.

They had 716 students this year for a building that holds 750.  But enrollment has exploded with the projection at 824 but with 842 students enrolled. 

Additionally, RESMS principal Marni Campbell abruptly changed after-school use of her school by the Urban Native Education Alliance.  From a press release by the UNEA:

Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA) was given email notice by Eagle Staff School Principal Marni Campbell on May 22nd stating the UNEA ‘Partnership Agreement’ will be reduced (cut in half) for the new school year and this decision is “non-negotiable”. 

“This displacement of the Clear Sky tutoring and cultural program and Native Warrior Athletics will impact hundreds of Seattle Public School Native learners, families, volunteers, Robert Eagle Staff/Licton Springs learning community and members of our intertribal urban community”, stated Sarah Sense-Wilson, (Oglala), Urban Native Education Alliance, Chair.

Robert Eagle Staff School is located on culturally significant sacred land (Licton Springs). This site is where both Seattle Clear Sky and UNEA birthed as grassroots community driven organization. Our connection to this land transcends time and is a sacred relationship. It is ironic district officials accepted traditional star quilts, Eagle Staff Sculpture and other items of cultural importance in ceremony, as an exchange in good faith to honor the legacy Robert Eagle Staff and in tribute to the urban Native community’s ties and connection with this sacred site. 

Jon Halfaker, Seattle Public Schools Area Executive Director, noted that alternative spaces may be offered at adjacent Licton Springs or Cascadia school. However, UNEA finds these spaces are insufficient for their basketball, fitness, health, tutoring and cultural programming. 

UNEA requested the reversal of the decision, which remains in place for the fall school year despite its opposition to Seattle School’s Educational and Racial Equity Policy #0030, and SPS strategic Plan for eliminating Achievement gap, and its Racial Equity Analysis Tool to ensure equitable access. 
I went over to check the space at Licton Springs and it is very small and tight especially for older, bigger kids.

What I find troubling is that UNEA is a real partner to the district - and has been for years - not just someone renting space.  They partner with many other groups including UW.  So this sending of an email to let UNEA know they no longer can run several programs at RESMS - with no face-to-face - seems odd.

I do recall Marni Campbell - on the opening day of RESMS - participating in a Native American ceremony and she seemed deeply moved.  I have to wonder why a school that is dedicated to a Native American educator and leader, that has - from Day One - put Native American focus to the building would just decide to not have as many programs that serve Native American students in that building. 


Anonymous said…
Please stop with the "Robert Eagle Staff School is located on culturally significant sacred land (Licton Springs)". Why didn't natives pour some of their casino money into cleaning up and maintaining Licton Springs or the old wilson school?

We all know the answer!

Anonymous said…
Lafayette was a popular school when it had a spectrum program. Now that spectrum is gone, the school is just another run-down building that does not meet the needs of it's high performing students like it used to. Apparently MTSS just does not work as promised. I imagine many of the spectrum students have left for HCC or private schools leaving Lafayette with plenty of extra space.

Anonymous said…
Washington was gutted by the opening of HCC in West Seattle as predicted, leaving the smaller cohort of students more vulnerable to hostile actions by administration and others, and pressuring those remaining into private and alternatives. HCC was originally placed in Washington to prop up enrollment and test scores. When they are pushed out, well, you can guess what happens.

Anonymous said…
Washington was "gutted" by the opening of Meany this past year, which was the intention wasn't it? We are a Washington/Meany family and appreciate the current small enrollment at these schools, affording awaited breathing room and accommodating the future growth we can see coming down the pike. We've witnessed a sharp uptick in the number of strollers wheeling around the neighborhood and the parks are full of young families. It would be wretched planning if both schools immediately reached capacity after Meany's opening.

Anonymous said…
Nova has by far the lowest high school graduation rate in the district at 61%.
Anonymous said…
Ballard High is 371 kids overenrolled! Can they fit that many kids with portables? 1706 capacity and 2077 enrolled. 68 on the waitlist! I do know some 10th graders & incoming 9th will be going to Lincoln though in 2019. But it looks like they may remain overenrolled even after Lincoln opening for awhile.
Anonymous said…
When we enrolled for high last year, NOVA was not on the list of schools, because the district has changed it to be a "service school." So I suspect that their enrollment may have dropped because people simply are not aware that it is still an option, or how one chooses it (I have no idea how one signs up for a school that is not on the enrollment form).

Nova's graduation rate is very low because a large number of students from other schools transfer there in 11th or 12th grade when it becomes evident that they don't have enough credits to graduate (basically they are sent there because NOVA is a better setting for getting them caught up - this is why it has been reclassified as a service school). Their 6-year graduation rate is similar to any of the other high-schools.

Mom of 4
JS, no matter what you think Native Americans should have done at Wilson Pacific, that is land sacred to the tribes of Seattle. One thing does not equate with the other.

CDer, well, I don't know if "gut" is the right word but yes, the opening of Meany was to take the pressure off Washington. However, having three middle school buildings running at half-capacity is NOT good. And, I have to wonder where all those students went. If RESMS is full, then redraw the boundaries for Whitman. (I know this could be a boomareng effect but that's on the district.)

Mom of 4, thanks for that info. I'd bet the Board doesn't know this.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, I was using the poster West's phrasing with the word "gutted" in quotes to indicate my disagreement with it - it's not the word I would use at all.

I agree that schools enrolled at half-capacity over the long term is not a good thing, but this was the first year since Meany's re-opening that split half the student population away from Washington. That was exactly the point. (Unless the enrollment numbers are half of the halves, then that's a different story!)

kellie said…
Ah, the annual waitlist drama where the loss of institutional memory really shows.

Washington was extremely over-capacity. However, the district has over-corrected that problem and it is very likely that Washington will struggle with enrollment for a long time. Here are the three corrections that were made to Washington's enrollment.

* West Seattle HCC was redirected to soon to be very over-crowded Madison.
* Meany was opened and more than 50% of the attendance area and will likely be very full very soon.
* The plan to open Meany also included a plan to move one of the feeder schools out of Mercer in order to backfill Washington. That plan was cancelled and instead an addition for Mercer is being built.

It should be noted that Mercer is a great example of how the NSAP was intended to work. Mercer is an incredibly strong school with stable leadership and has really built strong ties with all of their feeder schools. It is no surprise that an elementary would not want to be diverted out of Mercer and into Washington.

kellie said…
Whitman's enrollment problem is also another gap of institutional memory.

The plan to place Licton Springs K8 at REMS was based on extra capacity at Whitman. Staff was instructed via an amendment to the Growth Boundaries plan to make the necessary adjustments to make that work. However, due to staff turnover and other issues, that never happened.

Whitman simply does not have enough feeder schools for their program. Whereas adjactent Hamilton and REMS are going to struggle with significant over-crowding again.

kellie said…
The waitlist process is a way for the district to balance capacity across the district while giving some very limited flexibility to families. However the district simply behaves as if this is a huge burden and should be abandoned.

Another big gap in the institutional memory is that many schools had their boundaries intentionally drawn way too small. This was done because those schools either had long waitlist or lot of split siblings.

Franklin's boundaries are too small for the school. This was done on purpose and the districts refusal to move Franklin's waitlist for several years now is finally beginning to show the problems. The district has asserted that they have limited enrollment at Franklin in order to support Rainier Beach but there is no evidence that this plan has worked.

IMHO, the biggest impact on RB enrollment is the substantial work done at RB to work with their constituents and improve the school. I have been greatly impressed by the efforts of students and staff to lobby for better treatment during BEX. The second big impact on RB enrollment has been that Bellevue and Mercer Island have closed their doors to out of district students and Highline has substantially restricted out of district enrollment. Historically, there have been substantial numbers of SE families who live in Seattle but attend public school in another district.

kellie said…
Nova is really a casualty of the move to dissolve the waitlist in the summer and the lack of understanding of how interconnected enrollment really is with how schools operate as a network.

Historically, Nova would gain a significant number of students in September. When students would arrive at their assigned school in September and find that they had a schedule that was not working for them, many students would punt for either Nova or Running Start.

When the waitlist dissolved in August, this meant the open enrollment was also closed. Families are no longer able to make any choices in September, essentially locking down the entire system.

Nova was then changed to a "Service School" because services school do not have any restriction on movement. But ... another unintended consequence is that now Nova is not listed with the other high schools during regular enrollment.

Dissolving the waitlist over the summer has had so many negative consequences to both schools and families. Nova is just the schools that has really suffered the most because of this change.

kellie said…
I love how they advertise how many families received a "choice" assignment. What is not noted is that there is a minimum number of choice assignments to option schools that must be processed every year or those schools would be empty.

Here is the list of option schools.

Boren, Louisa
Cedar Park
Center School
Licton Springs
Queen Anne
Salmon Bay
South Shore
Stanford, John
Thornton Creek
Wolf, Hazel

A substantial portion of that 2400 choice assignment is simply the minimum number of students who are required to be assigned to options schools and option programs. The refusal to assign students who want to attend schools with more than ample space for those students is effectively following the procedure of "don't want to, don't have to, can't make me."

This report should absolutely break out how many of those 2400 are required to be filled an how many are impossible to fill, because those schools are severely overcrowded (aka Ballard, Roosevelt, etc). The number of seats that could be assigned, is the critical number for a work session like this one.

Anonymous said…
I assume the Marni Campbell decision re: Native American afterschool programming was based on space constraints, but if so, I cry foul. The whole point of “equity” considerations is that you provide additional supports and/or accommodations to groups that struggle, in order to help them achieve at more equal rates. SPS’s Native American population is certainly a group that needs additional support in the name of equity. If Jon Halfaker is willing to suggest there is room available at other nearby schools, why can’t that be used by other groups/activities instead of displacing the NA programs? Stability and ease of access are important factors in achieving equity for underserved populations. Equity does not mean majority rules, although that’s what this sounds like. If there are competing space demands, the group most likely to be hurt by relocation is the group that should be allowed to stay.

I hope that all JSCEE staff, Directors, and Board Members who are charged with ensuring equity—and who are so hung-ho about “equity” when it suits their personal agendas—will take a closer look at this through an equity lens. Maybe there’s something else going on, but on the surface it looks bad.

All types
Anonymous said…

hum i wish i knew more. but na kids should have a program. na history should have a month and sps should stop pushing them around. geez. halfacer should deal/dealt with this. what is his job again?

no caps
WSMom said…
I think Lafayette capacity is a couple of things. One when Spectrum went away many students went to Fairmount Park.

Also Lafayette boundaries are adjacent to Genessee Hill and Alki. I think the boundaries just changed or will change next year to alleviate overcapacity issues at Genessee Hill so I'm guessing Lafayette will fill back up.

Anonymous said…

Does anybody think that Garfield waitlist will move at all on Friday? We are #1 and would love to attend like our oldest did and youngest will.


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