Enrollment News in Seattle Schools for 2019-2020

In what seems to be an annual event when enrollment patterns show themselves in SPS, we see that the patterns for this year appear to point to some trends.

Here's some news to use in consideration of enrollment, from the Seattle Times:
Census data show that for the first time in roughly half a century, Seattle’s under-18 population exceeds 100,000. It happened after a sudden bump in the number of city kids — and that’s a little surprising, because it’s something that hasn’t happened in decades.

In 1980, Seattle’s under-18 population stood at 87,000. Thirty years later, in 2010, it had only inched up to 95,000. And for the first half of the current decade, that number remained basically flat, even as the city grew at a record-breaking pace.
Then, from 2015 to 2017, the under-18 population shot up to 115,000.

Not exactly a baby boom, to be sure. Still, it’s a change, and passing that 100,000 mark again seems like something of a milestone.
The city’s under-18 population peaked in 1960, when the census tallied 167,000 kids. They made up a whopping 30 percent of the city’s population at that point.
Again, here's a link for schools with waitlists.  What does it tell us?

High Schools (9th grade only)
It would appear that many high schools, including Lincoln coming online in Fall 2019, are popular, with Cleveland STEM HS having a whopping 124 students on their 9th grade waitlist. Roosevelt HS has the longest 9th great waitlist at 87.  Garfield follows at 68.  Lincoln HS has 53.  Franklin HS and West Seattle HS both have 34 on their lists.  Ingraham has 32. (And these are Gen Ed students, not HCC.)

Middle Schools (6th grade only)
There are not long waitlists at any middle school except for Mercer (and sad news, they are losing their great principal, Cris Carter, and a couple of teachers) which has 27 on its list.  Hamilton has 22 on its Gen Ed waitlist and 13 on its HCC waitlist.  JAMS has 17.  Eckstein has 10 while Washington has 8.

But you know where the big numbers are? K-8s especially the Option Schools.

On the low end you have the long-time favorite TOPS with 35 in 6th grade and 18 in kindergarten.
Salmon Bay - 37 in 6th grade and 43 in kindergarten.
Pathfinder - 19 in 6th grade and 71 in kindergarten.
STEM K-8 - 22 in 6th grade and 42 in kindergarten.
Blaine has 21 in 6th grade.
And the biggest one? Hazel Wolf with a waitlist across ALL grades with 51 on the 6th grade waitlist and a whopping 128 on their kindergarten waitlist.

What is this about? Smaller school? Continuity across 9 years? Programming?

Elementary Schools (Kindergarten only)
Fairmount Park has doesn't have a huge kindergarten waitlist (13) but they do have kids at nearly every grade level on a waitlist.  Also in the 13-14 kindergartener waitlist range; Thurgood Marshall, Loyal Heights, Arbor Heights and Daniel Bagley.
JSIS has 65 kindergarteners on their waitlist; McDonald has 97.  Dual-language schools? Yes, please.
Beacon Hill Int'l has 28, Dearborn Int'l has 11 Ks on its waitlist and Concord Int'l has 5 Ks.

Here are some comments from readers over frustrations with enrollment, starting with
sage, Kellie LaRue.
The SPS's current practice of halting wait list movement, based on the presence of students from Rainier Beach is abhorrent and inequitable. That practice was championed by former SPS staff members Michael Tolley and Flip Herndon. The practice was advertised as "protecting Rainier Beach's enrollment" by not allowing students in this attendance area access to the choice system.

IMHO, this practice is indefensible. Rainier Beach families do have choice and they exercise this choice by enrolling in public charter schools and other districts. This practice is direct cause of lower total enrollment in SPS.

That said, the approach you are suggesting is direct violation of students assignment rules. Students are placed on the wait list in a specific order based on the assignment rules and tie breakers outlined in the Student Assignment Plan. The order of the wait list needs to be respected.

There are few jobs that the school board needs to do every year and one of them is approve the Student Assignment Plan. The Student Assignment Plan can be anything but it must be public and approved by the school board. This is the because the SAP is the way that that tax payer funded services are delivered to the public and as such public oversight is required.

The bottom line is that this practice of artificial enrollment caps, artificial staffing capacity and stilted wait list movements needs to be brought into the daylight and re-examined. 

@ unclear,

The current approach is not student- or family-centered. At all.

Yes, and that is the point that so many families keep raising to the board.

There is this notion downtown that the best way to create "staffing and hiring stability" is to hold the line on the choice system. That is what created this mysterious staffing capacity. Other districts get to set building budgets early in the year and do targeting hiring.

But the simple truth is that enrollment in Seattle is just plain challenging. Seattle will have 110 schools next year. That is 110 places where students can show up. It is virtually impossible to perfectly match students and teachers.

Most districts have less than a dozen places for students and teacher to land. Therefore it is pretty straightforward for other districts to do strategic hiring much earlier in the year.

Seattle has a lot of challenges, in large part because the state funding model is just not designed to support a district with "110 places.' Because of this, Seattle really does need to embrace more flexibility in the process and leverage the choice system.

The changes that have been made in the last few years to reduce flexibility and increase rigidity have made the system adversarial to families, without actually creating the hoped for staffing stability. IMHO, these polices are the direct cause of system wide enrollment decreases.

One hard to miss data point. The first year of the NSAP, there was a serious challenges with split siblings district wide. Right after open enrollment there were hundreds of split siblings in every corner of the district . But the district worked proactively with families and community volunteers and by the end of September there were only 7 split siblings. Two years ago, there was once again over 200 split siblings and there was no serious effort to reunite these families. How can anyone be surprised that split siblings lead to enrollment decreases???

The unfortunate result is that when families leave the district, teachers get displaced. Enrollment needs to be family friendly in order to create staffing stability. It is not an either / or situation.  
WS Parent
It seems to me that unnaturally limiting choice more severely impacts the kids farthest from educational justice. This is not aligned with the new Strategic Plan in any way. The Board should look at the Student Assignment Plan through a racial equity/socioeconomic lens. If they do, and look at how many students who are underserved are left on waitlists, someone would take action. Maybe this would break up the idea of holding onto the staffing stability model (which would seem to be more about staff than students), and instead focus on empowering students and families to make choices that work best for them.

Fairmount Parent
There is a separate wait list for each school and a student can only be on one waitlist. The number one student on Lincoln’s waitlist must be offered a space there before anyone else. Trading seats at popular schools to get around the waitlist order disadvantages students from unpopular schools.

Eric B.
Waitlists don't move because the system doesn't let waitlists move. I would like to believe that's accidental, but it's getting harder with each passing year of the same problems. With a little flexibility, dozens to hundreds of students could get their preferred choice of school. The last time I looked (spring 2017), you could move 250 to 300 students to their preferred school and every school was still above its budgeted headcount

Enrollment watcher
It's not that there is not room at Lincoln. It's that they don't want to let anyone *out* of Rainier Beach specifically. I am not sure if they are protecting other schools this way now, too, only moving waitlists until it would let an extra child out of this or that unpopular school. I agree it is a terrible way to run the system and is being fully exploited by charter schools now.


Number Looker said…
Name of School Change in Enrollment Predicted by District Total # on Waitlist Summary (all the different grade levels and special programs (AL, moderate intensive, access, distinct, SEL, Montessori, HCC, focus, deaf/hard of hearing) added together)

Hazel Wolf K-8 -2 344
Salmon Bay K-8 -15 166
Cleveland HS -44 155
Pathfinder K-8 -1 149
Louisa Boren K-8 -5 136
Roosevelt HS -321 134
TOPS K-8 1 107
JSIS -6 95
Ballard HS -256 92
Garfield HS -294 79
Catherine Blaine K-8 -179 76
Hamilton MS -33 68
Fairmount -33 62
Lincoln HS 556 (new school) 61
West Seattle HS 34 47
Magnolia 246 (new school) 41
South Shore K-8 3 41
Mercer MS -116 41
Ingraham HS 41 37
Thornton Creek 13 37
Franklin HS -134 34
Jane Addams MS 66 33
Arbor Heights 11 31
Daniel Bagley -41 27
Thurgood Marshall -103 27
McDonald -4 25
View Ridge -77 22
McGilvra -8 21
Orca K-8 -26 21
Loyal Heights 68 20
Eaglestaff MS 47 18
West Woodland -7 17
Dearborn Park -38 16
Hawthorne 5 15
Maple -3 15
QAE -37 13
Eckstein MS 54 12
Whittier -36 12
Lawton -75 12
Bryant 22 11
Alki 5 11
Wing Luke -22 11
Washington -68 11
Olympic Hills 79 10
Kimball -2 9
Stevens -33 8
Genessee Hill -44 8
Center School 9 7
Graham Hill 2 7
John Hay -30 7
Leschi -34 7
Franz Coe -47 7
Concord -7 6
Madison MS -12 6
Broadview-Thomson K-8 -52 6
Rainier View 5 5
Olympic View -26 5
Hale HS -77 5
Madrona 19 4
MLK 4 4
Green Lake 2 4
Highland Park -13 4
Montlake -34 4
Adams -43 4
B.F. Day 12 3
Lafayette 10 3
Greenwood -6 3
Wedgwood -26 3
Dunlap -48 3
Bailey Gatzert -8 2
Viewlands -33 2
Lowell -80 2
Sealth HS 53 1
Emerson 23 1
Denny MS 12 1
Sand Point -12 1
Laurelhurst -18 1
Van Asselt -19 1
West Seattle Elem -32 1
Cedar Park 85 0
North Beach 71 0
Gatewood 13 0
Whitman MS 12 0
Licton Springs K-8 10 0
South Lake HS 9 0
Cascade K-12 -5 0
Middle College -6 0
John Rogers -11 0
Roxhill -16 0
Sacajawea -16 0
Meany MS -17 0
Decatur -18 0
Aki Kurose MS -21 0
Ranier Beach HS -29 0
John Muir -32 0
InterAgency -35 0
Cascadia -36 0
Northgate -40 0
World School -55 0
McClure MS -64 0
Nova HS -65 0
Number Looker said…
So, for example, the district predicted that Fairmount Park would lose 33 students and after open enrollment it turns out that Fairmount Park has 32 students on the waitlist. So, the district is basically nuts. Because there is a waitlist for every single grade at Fairmount Park, but they predicted the school would lose 33 students.
Anonymous said…
What does it mean that Seattle has the largest number of kids ever at 100,000 but the lowest public school enrollment in 10 years (that the district didn't foresee)?

Or, does this data mean that the predicted low enrollment is bogus?

Or what is going on??

kellie said…
I have some serious concerns about the high school waitlists.

At the last budget work session, the enrollment projections and the budget cuts were discussed in detail. At that meeting, staff made it clear that they were aggressively projecting a decline in high school enrollment based on a projected increase in Running Start and some lower show rate numbers for high school.

If staff has followed the process they have used for the last few years, (and without the corresponding enrollment numbers, this is a pretty big IF,) then the waitlist starts at the same point of the budgeted "staffing capacity."

Sadly, this wait list process is a self fulfilling prophecy. When students are not given their first choice for high school, they are substantially less likely to be enrolled in September. Which will generate the lower show rate number. Which in turn causes more cuts.

But conversely, when students are given their choice assignment, they are more likely to "show" in September, which is more likely to preserve enrollment and preserve teacher jobs.

Cleveland, Garfield and Franklin do not have capacity issues, and have taken staffing cuts based on an expected drop in enrollment for next year. All three of those schools have waitlists. Artificially limiting the enrollment at this schools is causing teachers to lose their jobs and preventing students from getting a choice assignment. It should be a no brainer to move the lists at these three schools.

Ballard and Roosevelt have capacity issues. It is incredibly unlikely that the wait list at these schools could or should move.

A wait list at Lincoln must be some sort of cosmic joke. Seriously? Any family that is eager to start a new school should be welcomed with open arms.

Stem Stepper said…
The Cleveland waitlists are 124 students for 9th and 24 for 10th grade (and 6 students for access or SEL in 9th and 10th grade).

So, isn't it possible for both things to be true? More students want to start high school at Cleveland than there is space for. And the district could also be right in their prediction that there will be a lot of students in 11th and 12th doing Running Start or not showing for a variety of reasons. This could be supported by the lack of any waitlist in 11th or 12th grade. Or maybe they just decided not to tell us about potential 11th/12th grade waitlists.

They release so little information it's really hard to know what's going on.

The main thing is that their crummy predictions and failure to explain things in a straightforward manner have real world repercussions. Families choose charters or private school. Families move. And the families least able to devote time and attention to this or to react based on what the district does are most impacted.
Stuart J said…
What would also be interesting to know is where students from a particular waitlist are from, and what their motivation is for wanting to go elsewhere. There can be any number of reasons: family logistics, specific program of interest at a school, wanting/needing a social change, sports team, activities like music or debate, etc. This information would help in some cases to point to areas where the service area school could make some changes.
Anonymous said…
Given the district’s complete failure to implement a Core 24 plan, a larger cohort drop-off rate for 11th grade next year wouldn’t surprise me. Next year’s 11th graders are the part of the first cohort to be hit with the new requirement, and last we heard, things don’t look good. It was something like 20% who were not on track to graduate after 9th grade, and it’ll probably more like 30% after they finish 10th this year. If schools are expecting cuts next year—and are thus even less able to provide the classes students need—outside options will that much more essential. The quick way to make up credits is via RS. It could be that SPS is realizing it has totally screwed up the Core 24 response and will essentially need to push many more students to RS.

Anonymous said…
The #s for "special programs" are looking very concerning. Why aren't these students being naturally integrated? Why are they waitlisted?

Anonymous said…
@ Reader The way I read the the list above is that the first number lists the overall change in school enrollment for Fall 2019. The second number then combines all the students on the waitlist which would include general ed plus all special program students.

Ex Thurgood Marshall -103 27

So the school is expected to lose a total of 103 students from all combined programs. The school also has a 27 student waitlist from all combined programs.

kellie said…
Mel, Thank you for posting the census statistics about the under 18 population. That matches my understanding of Seattle demographics.

I have posted many times that long term enrollment projections are supposed to be wrong. When you are predicting the future, it is an uncertain art. As such, the most important part of projections is WHY ARE YOU WRONG.

Back in 2013, my personal enrollment prediction for 2020 was 60-65,000 students. This was based on Seattle continuing with 30% of students enrolled in private or other districts and the City of Seattle's growth projections. It turns out with 115,000 under 18 year olds in Seattle, SPS should have at least 60,000 students, even with 30% in private school, and probably closer to 70,000.

So the big question is why not? Where are these students going?

Before Nyland assumed the reigns of the district, there was widespread enrollment growth, proportionate to the growth in the City of Seattle. Now, SPS is losing enrollment while the City of Seattle is still growing.

It is time to get some serious focus on this issue. We need some outside help. In 2013, Education Data Solutions (aka Les Kendrick) provided some significant help in terms of global enrollment trends. We need an enrollment and capacity task force and we need to get serious about enrollment.
Anonymous said…
@Number Looker Fairmount Park’s enrollment is going to decrease by about 30 because the students on the waitlist won’t be admitted. Our large 4th and 5th grade classes include many students with choice assignments and have pushed the school over capacity. Students on the waitlist are likely to come from underenrolled schools (Highland Park and Sanislo for example) and the district will not allow them to transfer.

Fairmount Parent
Anonymous said…

Where are you getting the number of 30% of Seattle children in private school? Can you please cite the source for that and how that data is being collected and by whom?

kellie said…
@ Core 24,

While it would seem pretty reasonable that Running Start could be a Core 24 solution, it really isn't.

Running Start is a fantastic program and it really works for a lot of kids (based on the enrollment numbers). That said, it also does not work for a lot of kids. There is substantial increase in accountability that many 16 and 17 year olds are just not prepared.

Once again, it would be straightforward for the district to collect data on why students select Running Start but they don't, so we don't have any real data to work with. Just theory and speculation.

It does not take much, for a student to NOT be on track to reach Core 24. There are hundreds of reasons why students are not track. Running Start will be a great solution for some, but I strongly suspect that the vast majority of Running Start students will be the students who were on track to graduate already.

Anonymous said…
Hi Kellie--I just did some back of the envelope numbers.

If there are 115,000 kids from 0-18, I would guess that about 28% of them would be 0-5 and not starting school yet. BTW, no idea if this is accurate, just a guess!

This would leave approximately 71,300 school age kids in Seattle. If 30% go to private school, then 49,910 would be in SPS. That is pretty close to the enrollment number.

I am shooting from the hip, no idea if this is correct. Let me know what you think.

Anonymous said…
@ kellie, Oh, I fully agree RS is not a good solution. I just meant that the DISTRICT might be thinking of it as such, and hence they may incorporating it into their projections as some sort of fail-safe since they've royally screwed up by not addressing this problem.

Anonymous said…
I strongly agree with Kellie's idea of a capacity/enrollment task force.

I know one thing that SPS should look at immediately, and that is increasing the number of k-8s. In West Seattle, Denny and Madison are strong middle schools, but both are large. This is really hard to navigate for some kids. I have known families, especially with kids who have executive function/organizational challenges/ attention issues who leave SPS at 6th grade because Denny or Madison wouldn't be a good fit. Keep in mind these are families who love their West Seattle public elementary schools! Even kids without organizational/attention issues can find the homework and organization needed at middle school challenging. But if these kids are navigating these sorts of issues, and they are also in environment of close to 1,000 other kids, they can really flounder and get lost.

A lot of families with rising 6th graders would love a smaller k-8 environment for their kids, but they can't get in. As you can see, the demand at Pathfinder and STEM in West Seattle is huge at 6th grade, with very long wait lists. The families who can't get into Pathfinder or STEM often look at private schools, the Summit charter school, or Vashon Island.

SPS could get a lot of these families back on board if they had k-8s. If I were on a capacity committee, I would look at any elementary with decreasing enrollment projections that were at possible risk of future closer and ask if they would be interested in a k-8 model. I bet those schools would quickly go from declining enrollment to waitlists.

Anonymous said…
30% would be a big jump from even 4 years ago. When I looked (it's on OSPI, salut) I could find 26% if Seattle student enrolled in private schools, but only if you included preschool. It was 22% if you just included k-12. I have no doubt the percentage has grown, and now there are charters to add, but 30% has historically been an exaggeration(though it varies by part of the district- very high private school enrollment in the central and SE, low in the NE).

Enrollment Watcher
Number Looker said…

Normally OSPI has private school enrollment numbers on this page:
They seem to be updating it at the moment. The file is usually in that gray "Private Schools" box on the right. They're required to track the info so I'm sure it will be back.

Meantime, this article is enough to show that there are a ton of students in private school in King County:
"More than half of the 81,974 students enrolled in private school in the state go to school in King County and 43 percent of the state’s 512 private schools are in King County."
Anonymous said…
As of the latest census and intervening American Community Surveys up to 2016, here are some visualizations. Even as of 2016, the private high school enrollment rate from these Census surveys was conservatively 19.5%, and that's now two years old.


If you factor in children not in private or public school (home-schooled, unschooled and the like), I believe the rate of non-enrollment in public schools does push into the 27%-30% range, but I can't find data for that at the moment. OSPI has been unreliable data-wise lately.

Even we stick to the 20% number, that is about twice the private enrollment as the state generally, and Seattle is among the top cities in private enrollment regionally and nationally.

This is not a ringing endorsement of Seattle Public Schools.
Anonymous said…
Using OSPI's data for last year, I got the following:

About 15,450 SPS-area K-12 kids enrolled in private instead.

SPS K-12 Oct enrollment last year: 53,775

Total K-12 public + private: 69,225

Therefore, private about 22% of Seattle enrollment.

(Unless I'm missing something, there's a decent chance that 30% figure came from people messing up the calculation and dividing the private enrollment by the public enrollment, rather than using the combined figure as the denominator. That sort of thing happens all the time. Private enrollment IS fairly close to 30% of what SPS enrollment is, but that does not mean near 30% of Seattle students are in private K-12.)

Anonymous said…
You also need to know the total number of school-aged kids living in Seattle to account for home school and those attending school out of district (public or private in suburbs). Private is 22% of public enrollment, but non public enrollment of all school-aged kids living in the city would be a different number, im guessing larger percentage.

kellie said…
reposting for anon, who is most likely unsigned "number looker" before it gets deleted.

As of the latest census and intervening American Community Surveys up to 2016, here are some visualizations. Even as of 2016, the private high school enrollment rate from these Census surveys was conservatively 19.5%, and that's now two years old.


If you factor in children not in private or public school (home-schooled, unschooled and the like), I believe the rate of non-enrollment in public schools does push into the 27%-30% range, but I can't find data for that at the moment. OSPI has been unreliable data-wise lately.

Even we stick to the 20% number, that is about twice the private enrollment as the state generally, and Seattle is among the top cities in private enrollment regionally and nationally.

This is not a ringing endorsement of Seattle Public Schools.
kellie said…
Apologies folks. My post was much clearer in my own mind than the on-screen-reality. And thanks everyone for all of the great data follow up. This blog can really be an amazing resource.

As to my post and the 30% .... I was speaking about my own personal 2020 enrollment projections and therefore was speaking in a double or even triple subjunctive as I was thinking about "what happened!?!?"

As I have posted many times, I think of the Nyland era as an era of mythology, where data was anathema to a good story. The explanation for all of the enrollment shortfalls, (year after year) was "housing prices" and there was no further examination into why enrollment was growing significantly less than expected and then actually reversed course. "Housing prices" was a nice compact answer that insulated everyone from looking more closely at what was really going.

During that time, I both blogged and testified that "housing prices" was a nonsense answer because Seattle was still growing and the school age population was still growing. The Seattle Times article with the census prep information confirms this. But there have been many other sources that have also confirmed this over the last few years.

What I meant was that even if SPS reached a 30% opt out rate (which would be very high), then a lot of kids are missing. I had a very large range of 60,000 to 65,000 and a big chunk of that range was based on opt out rates. Just a few percentage point of opt in vs opt out is thousands of students.

The Nyland era brought us a wide variety of policies that have directly resulted in declining enrollment and significant budget shortfalls. The nice thing about this Seattle Times article is that it makes it virtually impossible to hide this declining enrollment behind "housing prices." There are more than enough school aged children. Families are making other choices, including charters.

Why?? That is the important question.

Anonymous said…

I have difficulty following your explanation here. For clarification could you point to exactly where you arrived at the number of 30% of Seattle school age children in private school and how that data is verified. The census data measures children in pre-school, along with children in grades 1-12, which distorts the “private school” capture rate. Do you have another source for the numbers you reference?

kellie said…
@ Salut, I was talking about a hypothetical scenario from 5 years ago.

kellie said…
@ Number Looker,

Thank you for making that handy chart.

It really shows which schools have taken a staffing cut that have plenty of demand. A few of the schools on your list have capacity issues and this is a good thing. But many of the schools have plenty of physical space and have worked hard to attract enrollment.

Last night families from Dearborn Park testified that they were doing the hard work of building their school and wanted their waitlist moved. They were projected to lose 38 students and they have 16 on their waitlist.

I know there are a bunch of other schools on that list in the same situation, just a few are Stevens Elementary, Center School, BF Day, Lowell.
Anonymous said…
Can Kellie or someone please explain the Total Student Count on the monthly enrollment report versus the P223 Total Student Count and the P223 Total Student FTE. I am specifically looking at high school enrollment and know some of the differences are students in the building versus at full time running start. Also the decline in enrollment listed by Number Looker would be from which number above? Thanks.

HS parent
Number Looker said…
The district's predicted change in enrollment is the first number after the name of the school (positive if SPS predicts the enrollment will increase and negative if SPS predicts the enrollment will decrease). These were the numbers the district provided on pages 22-24 of this file:

The second number is the total number of students on the waitlist summary report the district provides here (but with all the grade bands and special programs given added all together to give one waitlist number per school):
Anonymous said…
One thing that I'd really like to see with the waitlist data is actual enrollment projections. For option schools where enrollment is restricted, it probably doesn't vary too much from projections, but for neighborhood schools that have to take everyone, it might.

I started looking at schools closer to me and am thinking about View Ridge which was projected to lose an astonishing 77 kids (15%!!!!!) with a waitlist of 22. Where did enrollment land? Were the projections simply terrible? If not, why doesn't there seem to be a much greater push to figure out what is going on and why enrollment is dropping so fast.

NE Parent
Anonymous said…
One: If a school has physical capacity for more students, why is the district not moving those students into the school? What is the district's rationale for not moving students?

Two: It seems absolutely bonkers to be opening a brand-new school--Lincoln HS--expressly to deal with lack of HS capacity in the North End and then not let the new school do its express job, which is TO ENROLL STUDENTS. Anyone have insight?

What's Lincoln HS Principal and its school board member, Rick Burke, saying about this?

Concerned Parent
Anonymous said…
They should not be opening Lincoln. It is bonkers they are planning on opening Lincoln this next year while also stating high school enrollment is dropping and they are carrying out draconian cuts to the other high schools.

The district has said they don't feel comfortable hiring ANY new teachers. They will likely be pulling from other schools instead to open Lincoln.

Multiple diverse programming (including HCC) and duplicating an administration would necessitate allocating large amount of resources to open a new school. There may be some classes with very few students. They should delay its opening.

It makes much more sense for those students to stay at their previous neighborhood schools until we figure out what is happening with high school enrollment.

For those who have not been following, even if the Levy money ends up being able to be utilized the district is still in a budget hole and stated they will be cutting due to the enrollment decline.

So they have stated they plan to be taking away a draconian amount of teachers (10-15) from high schools such as Roosevelt, Garfield, Ballard and also Ingraham, Franklin (6 from Franklin). They are planning on opening Lincoln which will drain resources from those schools. I have serious concerns.

Some of the loss of teachers is due to some enrollment drop but also due to overall district enrollment dropping (& wanting to shelter lower income schools) and loss of core 24 funds.

kellie said…
@ Core 24,

Fortunately, your very reasonable hypothesis is not true.

At the budget works session, staff made it very clear that the reason for the big uptick in projected Running Start enrollment was based on

1) State-wide increases in Running Start
2) SPS recent increases in Running Start.

As always, I need to note that we have no real data on Running Start and this is just my hypothesis but ... Unfortunately, I think those assumptions are faulty.

The increase in Running Start is not truly district wide as there is some serious variation in participation on a school by school basis. Additionally, there has been a significant increase in Running Start at the schools with capacity problems - Roosevelt and Ballard. It is just as reasonable to presume that with the opening of Lincoln, Running Start enrollment would dip back to historic levels because of more capacity at the schools.

There are ways to figure this out, but it would require time and attention.

Anonymous said…
SPS needs to learn to beware of unintended consequences. When it created a new strategic plan that doesn't even mention the educational needs of white and Asian kids that already meet the minimum academic standards, parents of those kids are finding other schools where their kids are a priority. Parents with resources (and Seattle has plenty of those) are moving to private schools. If SPS won't look out for these kids, their parents will.

What I don't understand is why SPS leadership doesn't feel obligated to provide reasonable educational opportunities to all of Seattle's kids. Parents are voting with their feet on this issue.

Fed Up
Anonymous said…
I am confused. Didn't voters pass a law a while ago, mandating the state to lower K-12 class sizes (Initiative 1351 I think): 17 students/class in K-3 and 25 students/class in 4-12? Based on the document that Number Looker posted, SPS wants to fix its budget wholes by increasing class sizes in K-3 back to 26, in 4-5 to 28, and in 6-12 to 30. How can that be legal?

Lincoln Mom

kellie said…
@ HS Parent,

High School enrollment and the corresponding budget is the very definition of opaque.

Here is the enrollment report that HS Parent is referencing.

Total Student Count is the number of human beings that are enrolled at the school. This is the total number of people who receive any type of service and these student may or may not actually attend any classes. This includes full-time Running Start. This is the everyone number.

The P223 Total Count is the total number of students who attend classes on a day to day basis. This does not include full time Running Start.

The P223 Total FTE is the Full Time Equivalent number. The State of Washington ONLY pays for the classes for which a student is actually enrolled. So if a high school student only has 3 classes, they are a .5 FTE. The FTE number is the total of all the fractional enrollment.

The State of Washington will pay for up to 1.2 FTE status for Running Start. So a full time Running Start student who takes Band ... will add 1.0 to the Total Student Count and then .2 FTE to the P223 FTE column. I have no clue if they are counted in the P223 total count.

There is one more number, not on this report that matters. This is AAFTE. High school is only funded based on Average Attendance (the AA in AAFTE). So the State of Washington only FUNDS a school based on AAFTE, not any of the numbers on the report you are referencing.

Anonymous said…
Thanks Kellie. So what is the change in enrollment on Number Looker's list? If a school like Garfield is losing 294 students from which column would that be subtracted?

HS Parent
Anonymous said…
Citizen Initiatives in the State of Washington can be suspended by the legislature after two years with a simple majority vote and within the first two years of passing if 2/3 of the legislature votes to suspend it. That is what happened to 1351.

Sorry, it super sucks.I agree.
-Powerless People
kellie said…
@ HS Parent,

The report that Number Looker used for their list, labeled the column as AAFTE, which is a totally different number.

For example, in the board report Number Looker cited, Ballard is projected to have 1643 students for the 2019-2020 school year, with a year to year budget change of -256 student from the previous budget year (2018-2019) of 1899 students.

Likewise, Garfield was listed in the board report as 1376 students for the 2019-2020 school year. This is a year to year change of -294.

I will be writing a couple of threads soon about what I see happening.

I think SPS is charting a course without considering parents AND aligning with the powers that be.
Anonymous said…
O.K I took a look at those reports and noticed the dates. They are not working off of actual enrollment! The report dates are from end of Feb and were projected enrollment numbers. The waitlist information should be correlated with actual enrollment numbers from Spring.

Does for example the waitlist kick in after they hit their Feb projected numbers? So in this case would this mean they actually have more (waitlist number) students than they projected for high school?

We can also assume all the kids on a particular waitlist are out of neighborhood kids as neighborhood kids have a spot.

HS Parent
kellie said…
@ HS Parent,

The primary reason that I still blog about this stuff is because this information is so opaque and I want to empower the next batch of advocates on these topics. It took me quite a few years and a lot of help from other advocates for this to make some sort of sense.

In the absence of DATA, all we have is conjecture and innuendo. It is beyond perplexing to me, that SPS actively chooses to withhold public data in such a way that all we have is conjecture and innuendo, over and over again. This creates distrust, when it would have been so easy to create some transparency and buy-in.

As I have mentioned a few times, NOTHING about the enrollment picture will make any "sense" without the corresponding post-open enrollment numbers. I do not have those numbers. Those numbers should have been released with the wait list numbers. Those numbers are available via a public records request. Sooner or later, this numbers will be on a budget report.

But for right now ... the ONLY numbers that I have are the Feb 2019 BUDGET PROJECTIONS for the 2019-2020 school year and the wait list numbers.

It is a pretty reasonable supposition that enrollment planning, enrolled students up to the Feb 2019 projected enrollment number and then started a waitlist. But that is ONLY a guess.

If there were MORE students in the attendance area, the Feb 2019 projected enrollment number, then enrollment would have been required to enroll those students and the waitlist would have started at some higher number. Conversely, it is also possible that a waitlist was stated at some lower number.

A little transparency on the part of the district would go a long way to build parent trust, during this time of extreme budget cuts. But ... that stopped when Tracy Libros retired.

Anonymous said…
@Powerless People: Thank you for the clarification. I did not know that Initiatives could be this easily overruled!

Lincoln Mom
kellie said…
@ Concerned Parent,

One: If a school has physical capacity for more students, why is the district not moving those students into the school? What is the district's rationale for not moving students?

The rationale is "staffing capacity." That is the official answer. Not a good answer. Staffing capacity is determined by the 2019 Budget Projections and therefore becomes a self fulfilling prophesy as a school will not be enrolled past whatever number was set by budget in Feb.

Two: It seems absolutely bonkers to be opening a brand-new school--Lincoln HS--expressly to deal with lack of HS capacity in the North End and then not let the new school do its express job, which is TO ENROLL STUDENTS. Anyone have insight?

BONKERS is now my new official word to describe this process. Both Lincoln and Magnolia are brand new schools and have HUGE waitlists. Additionally schools that have worked hard to increase their enrollment have waitlists.

IMHO, this practice is indefensible. But .. this has been going on for a few years now, with painfully predictable results.
Anonymous said…
The guiding principles are actually very simple, and are working very well.

No, you fundamentally don’t get school choice with the exception of a few option schools which are necessary to guarantee seats at other schools. Choice was dead with NSAP. Everyone knows this and always have.

No, we aren’t allowing a wholesale white flight or school starvation just because OTHER buildings have physical space. It is perfectly reasonable and necessary to maintain balanced enrollment at the expense of choice, which is largely for racist purposes. RBH and other south end schools have grown steadily since the enrollment process has removed choice as a meaningful goal. The previous choice system completely starved minority schools of resources.

No, we don’t care if people leave the district. It’s a free country. By all means, save us the expense of your kid’s education. You’re welcome if you show up, and also welcome not to. We won’t be bullied by the privilege of a relative small number who choose other alternatives.

Higher ratios are to be expected with the budget we have. It is not simply an enrollment issue.

It’s not a mystery or a bungle.

Anonymous said…
@Kellie Thank you. I agree that it is crazy that they are working off of Feb enrollment projections and not actual enrollment. The fact that we all have NO IDEA when and how the waitlist kicks in is not good public relations. This greatly affects allocation of staff & teacher jobs & of course ultimately our students. I would guess they would make it transparent if they wanted it to be transparent. Perhaps this enables them to manipulate school enrollment as much as possible to control staffing and funding.

Maybe someone should do a FOIL request for open enrollment numbers? It might help illuminate the process if for example we can conclude the waitlist kicks in if their "target projection" from Feb is met.

So if a school ends up with many more students in Fall what happens with teacher allocation and funding? Maybe this also depends upon the school and the Tier.

HS Parent
kellie said…
Concerned raises a number of great points about the opening of Lincoln and the high school enrollment.

The communication around the high school cuts has been terrible. Cuts are happening at high school for 4 reasons and frankly when the cuts were communicated to schools, staffing reductions should have been broken down in these 4 categories so that both faculty and families could follow along.

1) Overall WSS cuts. (only at Tier 3 and 4 schools)
2) Removal of Core 24 money (all schools)
3) Year to Year Enrollment Changes
4) Boundary and Program Changes (Garfield, Roosevelt and Ballard)

Concerned Parent is correct that for many schools the changes due to enrollment are a very small part of the budget cuts. However, the enrollment changes are the most alarming for many schools. This is because the "boots on the ground" at many schools are highly skeptical that these "conservative budget projections" match the reality they see.

There is profound concern about RIF'ing teachers simply to rehire them in the Fall. This only applies to enrollment changes and is not impacted by the other categories.

They still need to open Lincoln one way or another. While Garfield, Ballard and Roosevelt have done great work being so overenrolled, it is important to remember that when these schools were rebuilt the target enrollment was a mere 1400. That number was swiftly revised to 1600. But the portables that were placed for "surge capacity" were on temporary permits and need to be removed.

kellie said…
Reality just did a beautiful job of narrating the mythology behind these changes. Quite frankly, if Realty was actually describing the on the ground reality, I would be behind that plan.

But unfortunately, we have a few years of this "staffing capacity" experiment and there is just zero data to support that mythology.

The mythology is the SPS is holding the line to prevent all the privilege of white flight, in order to protect RBHS. But the schools that have been the most impacted by these policies are Cleveland, Franklin, Center School and Seatlh. The schools that have benefited the most are the Public Charter Schools who are swiftly gaining enrollment.

I agree completely with this statement. It is perfectly reasonable and necessary to maintain balanced enrollment at the expense of choice. The NSAP does a very good job of balancing enrollment and choice. But "staffing capacity" practice has directly harmed south end schools by directly limiting the choice options for south end families.

In the first few years of the NSAP, south end schools did grow. And the old 100% choice system was inherently racist. However, the introduction of "staffing capacity" has caused enrollment reductions at Franklin, Cleveland and Sealth as well as caused substantially lower than expected enrollment growth for the entire SE area.

This lower total enrollment corresponds nicely with the increase in Public Charter School enrollment. It is notable the these new charter schools are located in the south end.
Eric B said…
There are two more significant results of the staffing capacity policy that disproportionately impact students of color and low-income students.

1. Students at underenrolled schools who want to choose another school are not able to leave. If only students at overenrolled schools get a choice, then (on average) more privileged students students will get school choice. In practice, this means that a student at Ballard or Roosevelt gets some school choice, but students at Rainier Beach and Franklin don't get much at all.

2. If a school has a waitlist, they cannot enroll students from out of district. So if a student at a school is forced out of Seattle by gentrification, they cannot get back into their school to complete their diploma where they started. This was specifically highlighted as a problem by the Cleveland principal.

The staffing capacity policy driving people out of district may have been helpful in the worst of the capacity crisis. At that time, the district probably breathed a sigh of relief that they didn't have to find classes for all of the students showing up. In a shrinking district, it makes no sense to open the door for students to leave.
Anonymous said…
@Kellie While I do agree "they have to open Lincoln one way or another" and that the other high schools were originally designed for less population, we have to consider Tier 3 & Tier 4 high schools will be facing draconian cuts otherwise.

This will greatly impact staff & students.

Opening a new high school right now in the face of a supposed "trend" of declining high school enrollment and severe budget cuts really makes no sense. There is less harm done to students & staff in waiting to open Lincoln. I am sure they can find another use for Lincoln for the next year or so while they figure things out.

In addition, I am guessing Lincoln could also be in trouble if their enrollment fails to grow due to declining enrollment trends. I already have my doubts Lincoln will open and be able to offer similar coursework as the other schools in the vicinity. They have plans for the future but for next year we have heard already about specific courses they are lacking in comparison to neighboring high schools. Mediocrity for everyone should not be the goal.

Spreading resources even thinner should not be the result.

They need to re-evaluate and figure out the data better or we could eventually end up with school closures.

I personally think they should first hire a data expert prior to making such a large move of opening up Lincoln. Opening a new high school takes a ton of resources. They will only open with two grades, multi-programming (kids with various levels of math & science) and do not have the older population to full the classes. They need to offer enough electives and duplicate the administration. All done with only two grades and very few students in comparison to other high schools.

Anonymous said…
Kellie, you don’t get out much. Franklin, Cleveland, and Sealth are absolutely thriving schools with a great breadth of offerings. This was never, ever the case before. So what that they lose staff? So are many, many schools. They will add them back in fall. An unfortunate staffing arrangement, but one that optimizes utilization.. In addition to the thriving in the SE schools listed, RBHS is growing at a decent clip. The people that care the most are the privileged. Maybe the district should just directly cam choice. Then people wouldn’t be so shocked or surprised.

kellie said…
@ Reality,

You and I may be talking about completely different time frames. The NSAP started in 2010. The NSAP with its balance between enrollment and choice has greatly benefited south end schools.

Staffing capacity started later and its was first applied to Franklin and Cleveland around 2014. I am referring specifically and only to staffing capacity which was designed and targeted to limit the choice options for specific zip codes.

I was very specific in my comments and I stand by them. The schools that have been "hurt" by staffing capacity are Franklin, Cleveland and Sealth. North end schools have not been hurt by staffing capacity. These schools are already full and therefore are not hurt by artificial capacity limits.

Furthermore, I have in no way stated or implied that these schools are not thriving. In fact my entire argument is that these schools are THRIVING. They have long waitlists. There are many families who want to go to these schools and are being turned away every year. I include Rainier Beach in this list as well. Rainier Beach has been attracting many families from out of its area and out of the district.

And as Eric noted, when there is a waitlist, students from out of the district who want to attend these schools are unable to attend.

There have been FIVE YEARS of public testimony from south end families about the "unintended consequence" of this policy. Bruce Harrell publicly testified that his constituents were frustrated by the artificial enrollment caps at Cleveland and going elsewhere. Franklin has testified about unnecessary budget cuts, while having a long wait list, for multiple years now.

it is just plain mythology that the people who care the most about choice are the privileged. It is reasonable to presume that the people on the waitlist for Franklin, Cleveland and Sealth, have demographics similar to those schools. Cleveland is 80% FRL. The school was designed for cohorts of 300 9th and 10th graders. SPS has limited enrollment to 225. That means there are 75 students every year, who are most likely not privileged, who are turned away from Cleveland. These families most likely then make "other choices."

kellie said…
@ Concerned,

Not opening Lincoln, will not protect any tier 3 or tier 4 schools from "draconian cuts." As I mentioned earlier in the thread, the biggest cuts to high school are coming via the cuts to the WSS and the cuts to the Core 24 money. The cuts for opening Lincoln are tiny as only about 200 students are moving from Ballard and Roosevelt combined to Lincoln.

Tier 1 and Tier 2 schools were held harmless and are only getting cuts directly related to enrollment decreases.

I hear your concerns about Lincoln and but fortunately for everyone, the lengthy waitlist for the school is a great sign. Hopefully downtown will move the entire waitlist and that will push Lincoln to over 600 students. That would make Lincoln about the same size as Rainier Beach on day 1. Most importantly, moving the wait list now means that year 2, Lincoln will be most likely be 1,000 students and be able to offer a robust course selection.

While we don't have the actual enrollment counts, the wait list pattern strongly suggests that high school enrollment is likely to be much stronger than the 2019 Budget projections would imply.

Here is a link to the enrollment projections SPS submitted to the State of Washington at the beginning of this school year. Just a few months ago, SPS was projecting reasonable high school enrollment growth.


Number Looker said…
The district needs to run the choice/capacity issues through their own equity toolkit. The idea that people of color need to be protected from making choices about where to send their children to school is crazy.

Have you looked at those district reports that show where the students attending each school live? At every school, students are coming from all over the place. It never happens that you pull up a school and the students just all live in that assignment zone. Doesn't happen.

Families of color make choices about where to send their students all the time. They choose option schools:
South Shore is an option school and is 46.5% Black/African American, 22.9% Asian, 9.3% Hispanic/Latino and 8.2% White. Cleveland is an option school and is 24.8% Black/African American, 50.3% Asian, 11.3% Hispanic/Latino and 7.8% White. Orca K-8 is an option school and is 20.7% Black/African American.

There are 4 charter schools in Seattle with a higher percentage of Black/African American students than SPS (Green Dot Rainier Valley, Summit Sierra, Rainier Prep Charter School, and Summit Atlas). Green Dot Rainier Valley is 76.6% Black, 2.8% Asian, .6% Hispanic/Latino and 10.3% White. Those families all wanted to make choices about their students' schools.

Why doesn't the district use its own toolkit about these issues?!
old salt said…

You have a short memory if you think that Franklin, Cleveland & Sealth have "never, ever thrived". In fact making Cleveland an alternative STEM school drew students there from all over the city through choice.

The goal of the NSAP was not to end choice. It was to decrease the transportation budget, replace the assignment circles with regular boundaries and give predictability to school assignment.

When we spent 2 years planning the NSAP many people wanted an income tie breaker to replace the racial tie breaker that was denied after the PIC decision. Preserving at least 10% choice seats (and as many choice seats as were physically available in a building) was specifically designed to prevent historical neighborhood segregation from completely determining school diversity in each building. Now that we have room in more buildings to fulfill that promise, why is the district acting like it was never part of the NSAP?

I'll tell you another group that is dramatically negatively impacted by the new district policy ending choice, which is sped. Sped services are very different school to school as are gen ed opportunities for sped students. These days assignments for sped students are being made with no input from the iep team, school based staff,or the parents or even the sped department. They are being assigned and even moved around year to year by the enrollment office.

Boy do I miss Tracy. It never use to be about just trying to make it easy on the folks at JSC at the expense of school communities, students and families. And she was always transparent so at least we understood when she asked for sacrifices.

Anonymous said…
Old Salt, sure Cleveland is a sought after science program nowadays. But back in free choice days, before then, it was a dump that rivaled RBHS. In fact, a big fear, probably racially informed, was that Cleveland vs Beach gangs were going to predominate the assignment process. Massive police protection was already necessary (supposedly) at rival sporting events. One year, only 17 people chose Cleveland. The fact that it now has a waitlist, is an enormous testament to the success of the NSAP and the idea that yes, it’s ok to go to school with your neighbors. But are people going to Cleveland for the science, or to avoid RBHS? RBHS still needs protection from starvation. The district isn’t protecting people of color from making choices, it’s protecting some schools from utter starvation due to choice. In fact, it’s protecting all schools from this flight phenomenon no matter where they are. There is simply a minimum, below which, a school cannot be allowed to fall.

As to sped. Back in those days. Cleveland was ironically a famous sped dump. Aspeger programs were put in, and filled up with students from the Roosevelt area. Roosevelt had a new addition, was incredibly popular, and couldn’t be bothered with special ed. Sped wasn’t added to support students, it was placed at Cleveland to protect white people from providing sped or serving a diverse student body at schools like Roosevelt where very loud privileged families drive decisions. Nearly all sped are served locally now. That is also a huge improvement. Sped never really had choice, and it’s programs have always been capacity stop gaps. Nor should it have choice. Sped is supposed to be driven by the iep process. When that doesn’t happen, sped families have automatic rights and procedural safeguards. Yes, those are cumbersome but still available and feared by the district. All delivery of education is variable depending on location. That isn’t sped specific or location dependent.

A 10% set aside was always a farce. What? All the white schools are going to have 0 set aside, because they are utterly overfull. But, everyone else sets aside 10%? That doesn’t support desegregation. The 10% was always a privilege ploy. Better to simply say that choice is for option schools and to cap off enrollment thresholds. That basically is what we have.


kellie said…
Thanks Old Salt,

With the just plain hutzpah shown by Nyland in "reinterpreting" all of the protections for families written into the NSAP as "staffing capacity" I had completely forgotten about the 10% set aside for high school. I am confident that almost nobody downtown will remember this at all.

While the 10% high school choice seats was a major guiding principle of the entire NSAP process, I don't think it was ever written into the final document. The great irony here is that with the opening of Lincoln, we finally have enough capacity in the system to actually honor those choice seats. But it would require a lot of families reminding downtown that choice really matters at high school.

The truly frustrating part, is that downtown is deeply disturbed by the "declining enrollment." Declining enrollment means budget cuts, fewer resources for projects, curriculum, equity initiatives. etc. But at the same time downtown behaves as if they are "helpless" in the process and have no agency or ability to influence this.

When the simple truth is that our choice process gives downtown all the information they need. It gives them real world data on what families want. They only have to decide that this information is worth respecting.

kellie said…
@ Reality,

There is simply a minimum, below which, a school cannot be allowed to fall.

I agree with you completely on this point. There is a dark side to unmitigated choice and that dark side starves certain schools (mostly poor schools) of resources. That is the primary reason for the migration from the old 100% choice system to the NSAP with a balanced approach.

I also agree that original intention for this "staffing capacity" was indeed to protect RBHS from "resource starvation". That said, we are 5 years into this process and the data does not support the hypothesis.

The direct result of this process is that resources have been removed from Cleveland, Franklin and Sealth, as enrollment has steadily declined at those schools and the overall total enrollment for high school in SE Seattle has declined. While simultaneously, public charter schools are swiftly growing in the same area.

SPS does not control the choice process any longer. There has always been inter-district transfers and now there are charter schools.

Frankly, I think the most insulting part of this process is the entire notion that the ONLY way to protect resources at RB is to remove them from adjacent schools. That narrative absolves downtown of the requirement to invest heavily into RB. There are more than enough students in the area to fill all the schools and a minimum commitment to Rainier Beach should be independent of the enrollment at Franklin, Cleveland and Sealth.
kellie said…
Anyone who cares about capacity issues or high schools, needs to be concerned about the treatment of Rainier Beach. Period.

While over-capacity issues have flooded Ballard, Roosevelt and Garfield, there has been ample physical high school capacity in the south end. The addition of 500 seats at Ingraham along with an attractive program, has really helped capacity issues.

Attractive programming and robust supports for south end schools should be a requirement. Period. And the consequence of "staffing capacity" has been to further entrench the differences and pit south end schools against each other.

There is a reason why Tier 3 and Tier 4 schools are facing "draconian cuts" while Tier 1 and Tier 2 schools are mostly being held harmless. It is absolutely critical to the health of the whole high school system that Tier 1 and Tier 2 schools get supports first.

Anonymous said…
Many of the north end high schools were not popular until they were remodeled. RBHS needs a remodel that will make it attractive too. Also, the city of Seattle needs to work with the Rainier Beach community to improve safety. Having a state of the art building with nice spaces will help RBHS immensely and is long overdue.

Stuart J said…
my hunch is that until a few years ago, there were a number of Highline families who sent kids to Sealth or West Seattle, and would continue doing so if they could. There’s a chance the school age population in north Highline has simply dropped. Evergreen HS is now a comprehensive school, not three small schools. But I think trimesters will drive a lot of people to looking for alternatives, and if Seattle wanted more students, they could easily find them. The enrollment process for charters is much easier than the enrollment process for out of district into Seattle.

I have not looked at Charter enrollment, but the Summit school at Roxbury, which is both middle and high, is definitely pulling in some Highline families. So is rainier prep.

Seattle could also probably recruit in Renton for similar reasons to Highline.

Some districts do care about enrollment loss. One parent at Aviation HS who's from Kent said that their family got a call from Kent asking if they really wanted to send their child to Aviation, and saying that their were fiscal impacts for the district because of a kid going out of Kent for high school. In my opinion, Kent could also probably pick up some out of district students if they had a later start time than 7 30 am.
I'll weigh in here on a couple of comments.

"Kellie, you don’t get out much. Franklin, Cleveland, and Sealth are absolutely thriving schools with a great breadth of offerings. This was never, ever the case before. So what that they lose staff? So are many, many schools. They will add them back in fall. An unfortunate staffing arrangement, but one that optimizes utilization.. In addition to the thriving in the SE schools listed, RBHS is growing at a decent clip. The people that care the most are the privileged. Maybe the district should just directly cam choice. Then people wouldn’t be so shocked or surprised."

Could you use a better tone? Thanks.

Also, it's important to not over or under hype anything using "never" and "absolutely." Because I note you've had to backtrack on those terms and it might be better to not start from that place.

So what if they lose staff and get them back in the fall? This is no way to run schools. Do you have any idea of problems in staffing and morale with this system? The district drives out teachers at a time when they can least afford to.

I'll say more at the Friday Open Thread but the disrespect shown to Sped students and families all around - by the district, legislators and even other parents - is shocking.

The reality check would be to fill schools with room AND a waitlist and see how it plays out. Then the district would have a real look at what works and what doesn't and how to help.

"But are people going to Cleveland for the science, or to avoid RBHS? RBHS still needs protection from starvation. The district isn’t protecting people of color from making choices, it’s protecting some schools from utter starvation due to choice. In fact, it’s protecting all schools from this flight phenomenon no matter where they are. There is simply a minimum, below which, a school cannot be allowed to fall."

Well, the district could ask parents but they never do. I suspect that people go to Cleveland for both your reasons. However, as you say, RBHS is slowly picking up speed. A new building will surely help.

The 10% set-aside seats WAS highly touted...in discussions because people wanted access to the Biotech program at Ballard, Garfield/Roosevelt jazz bands, Roosevelt's drama curriculum, etc. But was it written into the NSAP? Nope.

"But at the same time downtown behaves as if they are "helpless" in the process and have no agency or ability to influence this."


"I also agree that original intention for this "staffing capacity" was indeed to protect RBHS from "resource starvation". That said, we are 5 years into this process and the data does not support the hypothesis."


"Frankly, I think the most insulting part of this process is the entire notion that the ONLY way to protect resources at RB is to remove them from adjacent schools. That narrative absolves downtown of the requirement to invest heavily into RB. There are more than enough students in the area to fill all the schools and a minimum commitment to Rainier Beach should be independent of the enrollment at Franklin, Cleveland and Sealth."

Double yup.

HP, a couple of things. One, I am so happy that RBHS will get a new building. However, the early details are troubling. Why build to 1600? Folly. Why will it cost over $200M? I call BS on that one. As for the City and the neighborhood, many of us have long said that the safety of the students in the building is the district's responsibility but the safety of the students on the way to school is the City's. It's one reason that more RBHS students got ORCA cards - the walk to school, even within a mile could sometimes be problematic.

Anonymous said…
@Kellie " The cuts for opening Lincoln are tiny as only about 200 students are moving from Ballard and Roosevelt combined to Lincoln."

To open a new school that serves few students, in relation to the other Tier 3 & Tier 4 schools, and offers multiple level of programs & courses (with few students & no older students) and duplicates administration takes a ton of money. Where is this money coming from? The district has already said they are not hiring ANY new teachers, so they are pulling "more than their share" of teachers and staff from the other high schools. We know 10-15 teachers (6 from Franklin) will be cut from multiple schools. Pulling 200 students should result in little impact to the other schools, but not if they are getting the lion share of their staff & faculty and money from the other schools.

Rainier Beach also would not be an analogy to a small sized Lincoln as the Tier is higher which means the resources provided by the district would be different for the two schools.

In addition while they are opening a new high school, they are simultaneously predicting a "severe" enrollment decline for the high schools as a "trend" and cutting from Tier 3 & 4 high schools based upon this "trend". Therefore I really believe they need to hire a data expert and do much more to better predict enrollment trends prior to opening Lincoln next year. I remain

Anonymous said…
To be more clear, we have been told 10-15 teachers (with the exception of Franklin cutting 6) will be cut FROM EACH of these schools Garfield, Roosevelt, Ballard & Ingraham and perhaps other schools as well. I understand some of the cuts have to do with the overall district enrollment decline (Tier 3 & Tier 4 high schools taking it for the district overall) and loss of 24 credit funds. However, these cuts are brutal and will really hurt those schools and students. We also don't expect less crowded classrooms, but much more crowded classrooms in those schools, lots of cancelled classes, less staff & teachers, closed libraries etc. with the removal of portables & staff.

Anonymous said…
Instead of treating the projected HS enrollment declines as a given and then cutting staff accordingly, wouldn't we all be better served by SPS developing approaches that reverse the outflow of HS kids to Running Start, private schools and out of district schools? We would all benefit from SPS becoming more attractive to the population that is leaving the district. I don't see how SPS can cut its way to excellence.

Fed Up
Anonymous said…
@ Concerned, Lincoln is not going to be a school that serves few students. It may only be "pulling" a couple hundred from neighboring schools this year, but it will also be taking in a bunch of 9th graders from its own zone. It's also a roll-up start, with only 9th and 10th grades in year 1--since it's way to disruptive to move a student for their junior or senior years (meaning a "small start" would be the case regardless of when it opens). In 2021 Lincoln will have three grades of students, and could already have 1000 students--not a small school. It could be at, or over, capacity by the following year, when it begins serving all 4 grades. Shifting some teachers from high schools that are sending students to Lincoln makes perfect sense, and as kellie said, the majority of cuts are not due to enrollment, but rather due to WSS and COre24 cuts--so would happen regardless. Lincoln isn't really the problem here (and could be seen as a solution, if the district were to use it to allow more choice).

@kellie, you said "Frankly, I think the most insulting part of this process is the entire notion that the ONLY way to protect resources at RB is to remove them from adjacent schools." Agreed. I would add that this seems to be the district's philosophy on other issues as well, not just enrollment. For example, it's how they deal with racial disparities in academic performance outcomes. Need to narrow the gap? Reduce advanced options for higher performing students! Want a curriculum that can be consistently implemented across the district? Go with something simple that meets the minimal bar, even if that means a loss of rigor for many (because SPS won't support other schools/teachers to rise to a higher level?). The district seems to consistently operate under the philosophy that equity is achieved by removing things rather than adding things where they are needed.

all types
Fed Up, ha, ha, ha.

Oh wait, you're serious. And, you want the district to behave in a serious way like find out why people leave? You're right but good luck with that.

Anonymous said…
@all types My point is they are simultaneously expressing dire consequences of loss of funding due to a yearly ongoing trend of severe loss of students. If they are wrong, Lincoln will grow. But if they are correct, opening Lincoln right now makes little sense. If they are wrong the schools facing cuts will end up in a big mess this Fall, as staff will have been cut and they will have many more students. Bottom line is they should get better data.

However, right now just for next year they are predicting -325 Roosevelt, -254 Ballard, -394 Garfield and so on. The predicted enrollment (and what if it ends up being lower?) for Lincoln next year is 554. In addition, across the entire district and throughout grades they are predicting a loss of students.

Anonymous said…
Someone had also posted here in one related thread that the school districts in our vicinity were nearly all projecting a trend of loss of students. However, as they are smaller school districts the loss of students this next year may not have as much of an impact as in Seattle. The school districts predicting growth were much farther south etc. That would indicate that there may be some validity to the SPS predicted trend of loss of students.

Anonymous said…
"I'll say more at the Friday Open Thread but the disrespect shown to Sped students and families all around - by the district, legislators and even other parents - is shocking."

Are you going to say more on this Melissa? I'll concur that there seems to be something going wrong in special education. Everybody going their own way, making up their own rules, encouraging taking sides against families. Well, the latter has always been around, but the other stuff seems to be descending to a new level of looseness.

Anonymous said…
@Concerned, Roosevelt, Ballard and Garfield should be relieved to lose students to Lincoln this year because they have been overstuffed for several years and using many portables that were placed on their parking lots and their fields. The best outcome would be for all the schools to go back to an enrollment close to their capacity, without the need for portables and other drastic measures.

Reader, what more is there to say? Read the Seattle Special Education page at Facebook; it's heartbreaking.

The Legislature couldn't get this single part of McCleary done in a whole session? C'mon!

Sped students get moved around like checkers, hopping here and there for services.

It's a disgrace.

And, I, along with many of you had high hopes that Director Geary, whose child has special needs AND served on a Sped legal court, would be the beacon that would carry this issue forward. It does not seem to have played out that way.

Anonymous said…
@Momof2 Losing students and operating within capacity would be wonderful in an ideal world. I don't think you understand the full picture of the cuts to the Tier 3 & Tier 4 schools which are taking it for the loss of students and impacted budget disproportionately for the entire district K-12. A trend of losing students COMBINED with many more cuts than should be happening (which would be actually proportionate) to the actual loss of students Momof2 is what makes this so aweful. I don't think you grasp the scale or context fully of what is happening. The schools are NOW facing closing libraries, 10-15 teachers being lost per school and there will actually be MORE not less overcrowding in the school and in classrooms due to the loss of teachers and classes! Kids who need access to the libraries who do not have computers at home will be affected.
kellie said…
@ Concerned,

The cuts to Garfield, Ballard and Roosevelt are very concerning. Not opening Lincoln won't help and would only make things worse as there are just not any places to put more portables at Ballard and Roosevelt which would be required if Lincoln was delayed.

As I mentioned up thread, downtown has done a terrible job of clearly communicating these cuts. It would have been best if downtown had broken out the cuts by category so folks could follow along.

My best guess for breaking down the cuts looks like this for Roosevelt. But I have to note that even I haven't been to follow the math terribly well. And I can't' even make an educated guess about the cuts at Ballard and Garfield.

1) Cut to WSS - 3 teachers.
2) Loss of Core 24 Money - 6 teachers
3) Enrollment drop of 325 - 11 teachers.

I have a serious concern about the enrollment drop of 325, because I just don't believe it. My best guess is that only about 100 current 9th graders are being shifted to Lincoln and that the incoming 9th grade class will be at least as large as the graduating 12th graders. So my best guess is that enrollment is really only going to drop by about 100 students or 3 teachers.

My best guess is that at least 8 teachers are being released that will need to be hired back. But even in this event then Roosevelt will have only a hundred fewer students but with 12 fewer teachers. Those are pretty draconian cuts.

But again, that is my best guess as downtown has just not released this level of detail.

Anonymous said…
@Concerned, I understand your concern for the overall cuts. I was only addressing the right-sizing of the schools which will be possible when Lincoln opens.

On the topic of the budget cuts, last year I attended the meeting at the Broadview library when Denise Juneau was having a series of meetings around the district as the new superintendent. During the Q&A, I asked directly about the new teacher's contract that had just been signed or was about to be signed. Stating that I had heard there was a projected deficit of $50 million the following year because of the levy cliff, I asked why they had approved $50 million in salary increases. Supt. Juneau gave me a dismissive answer, referring to their 2-year budget that would account for upcoming revenue and stating that there wouldn't be a deficit.

I agree that we can't have confidence in the school district leadership and it's about to create even more problems for the students.

kellie said…
There is a good reason why so many people who would not normally pay any attention at all to capacity and enrollment information, are following this topic very closely this year.

At the budget work session, the board raised serious concerns multiple times that the enrollment projections for many schools just did not make any sense.

Staff's response was very clear. Staff stated that they were being "very conservative" with enrollment.

As I have stated many times, this is just bad fiscal practice. You are "conservative" with your budget cuts, (which would mean aggressive) and then you need to be as accurate as possible with enrollment. Pairing aggressive budget cuts and low balling enrollment at the same time means that it is virtually impossible to follow the cuts.

Staff also stated that they had no plans to make any adjustments to budget because of enrollment until June. IMHO, that is just pure madness. It's BONKERS.

Schools have their post open enrollment numbers. I would strongly encourage any school facing budget cuts to get your post open enrollment information and pressure downtown to make appropriate budget adjustments now. For many schools, adjusting enrollment now would have a substantial impact on RIFs and empower schools to make an appropriate master schedule.

Anonymous said…
I have heard Ingraham, as well as Franklin are also facing severe cuts as well. I have no idea if any of their cuts will be restored if the state and levy situation changes for Seattle. I have heard the other schools you mentioned Kellie will be facing the same cuts no matter. I don't think the levy situation makes any difference. I am not certain if this also pertains to librarians as well or if they will all get reinstated (at all Tier schools) if the levy situation changes.

kellie said…
@ Concerned,

Once again, because the district has conflated budget cuts and enrollment cuts, almost nobody (including me) can really track what would be restored and under what conditions.

Downtown is asking for a lot of trust from staff and families. It would be helpful if that was matched with a little clarity and transparency. Some flexibility about shifting enrollment would also go a long way to building trust.

Setting some enrollment target number in February and then not touching the number until mid June is utter madness and does a great job of creating mistrust and suspicion.

kellie said…
Per the budget document from the board work session, here are the budget cuts for the comprehensive high schools by tiers. As I have stated, the cuts are significant and very hard to follow, particularly with little to no confidence that the enrollment predictions are accurate.

Tier 1
Rainier Beach -29 students -2.2 staff

Tier 2
Sealth +53 students +.6 staff
Franklin -134 students -5.0 staff

Tier 3
Cleveland. -44 students -2.6 staff
Garfield. -294 students. -11.2 staff
Ingraham +41 students -.8 staff
Nathan Hale -77 students -4.4 staff

Tier 4
Ballard. -256 students -12.8 staff
Roosevelt -321 students -13.8 staff.
West Seattle +34 students +.4 staff
Eric B said…
In its most current budget, Ingraham is losing something like 3-4 FTE because the principal and faculty budget committee prioritized retaining a full time librarian. That was also with enough students that would have warranted an FTE or two over last year if we were using last year's WSS. That said, I understand that post-open enrollment numbers are well higher than the budget (shock!), so some of those FTE may come back.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for all the information, Kellie! It's appreciated, as always. This is a very grim situation, but information is helpful.

To add to the picture, my son is a sophomore at Garfield, and he says that the kids have been told that 15 teachers are being cut, based entirely on seniority. Everyone is aware of which teachers are being cut, and the kids and these teachers are devastated to lose many enthusiastic, talented young teachers.

The identified teachers are taking vacation days to job search, there's crying in classrooms, and there's resignation that this is all a done deal. The expectation among the students and parents I know is that there will be chaos in the fall when there are many more kids present than are currently predicted by the district, and the teachers who have been cut already have other jobs because they're excellent and they can't afford to wait around for SPS to try to hire them back.

More kids are considering running start as a result, which may further contribute to the decrease in numbers. It's all so predictable and so sad.

-Seattle parent
kellie said…
@ Eric B,

Thank you for that update. I have also been hearing from multiple schools that their numbers (shock!) were much higher than the projections and more in line with community expectations.

But here is the problem, you noted "so some of those FTE may come back."

At the board work session, the board pushed back on the "ultra conservative" enrollment numbers multiple times. Some of the numbers are just too low to be credible. Staff's response was very clear. No changes until June.

The reasons stated was that "even if" the post open enrollment numbers were higher, they wanted to take a "wait and see" approach, because they "lacked confidence" in the September show rate.

I can't even begin to describe how damaging that notion is. The budget for high school behaves very differently than any other grade band. As such, high school budget cuts becomes self-fulfilling prophesies.

As the teachers are cut, the master schedule is reduced, and then families make "other plans" because they can. The State of Washington has over a dozen pathways to graduation and high school students can make those choices. There is even a move to make the community colleges, high school degree granting institutions so that students can skip Running Start altogether.

I would strongly urge high school families to contact the board and request that budget changes are made NOW, not in June.

kellie said…
Thank you Seattle Parent.

The situation you are describing is happening at all the high schools and very likely at many elementary and middle schools as well.

That said, the situation at high school is particularly troubling, because the high school cuts then cause students to leave and thereby justifying the cuts. A significant part of the high school budget cut was based on an INCREASE in Running Start enrollment.

But as you mention, this is a chicken and egg problem. Students who would NOT normally consider Running Start are ONLY considering Running Start because of the cuts. I would also strongly urge you to email the board about this observation.

As someone with a finance background, I can completely understand why the budget office is "being conservative." However, SPS is in the education business, and as such, the damage this budget practice is causing to education is BONKERS.

Also, any old timers on this blog, will recognize this problem. During the closures, the "process of discussing closures" was the thing that actually was causing the drops in enrollment that justified the closures. In 2010, the district brought in Les Kendrick to do an analysis to determine if SPS really did need to open new schools. That presentation was shocking, because Les's analysis proved. what community advocates had been reporting during the entire closure window. There never was any need to close those schools and they all needed to be reopened.

This budget practice is going to cause the enrollment shortfalls it is predicting. There is still a tiny window to save a handful of high schools teachers, but it is possible the damage has already been done as the best teachers are already securing "other jobs."

Anonymous said…
This is a valuable comment thread — thanks to all who are participating. Thoughts:

1) I just requested post-Open Enrollment assignment numbers for all SPS schools. I asked for the data as of any post-OE date. Hopefully this flexibility will make it easy for them to send me something quickly. I will send the data to Melissa and post it in whatever open thread is the most recent one when I get it.

2) The Reality commenter makes a great point that under the current system, we can’t just open up all the wait lists because doing so would drain RBHS of students. This commenter astutely points out the Cleveland wait list does not necessarily reflect demand for STEM but may just reflect desire to flee RBHS. In my opinion, pleas to simply open up all the waitlists based on building capacity are misguided at best. Reality’s viewpoint is underrepresented here, and I was glad to see it. Reality — thank you for sharing your perspective.

3) Kellie noted above that she believes artificial Cleveland capping began around 2014. FYI, I was very closely listening to rumors that this was happening, and the first time I ever heard it announced publicly was by Bruce Harrell at a Betty Patu community meeting at Rainier Beach Community Center on 6/29/15. I asked Betty about it at the meeting, and she said it was being done to protect RBHS.

4) Kellie makes the critical point that now that South Seattle is being served by charter schools, artificially capping waitlists will not solve the underenrollment issue at our least waitlisted schools. (I believe Kellie thinks that it never would have solved the issue due to private schools, out of district enrollment, etc., and I may disagree on the extent of the efficacy of this approach, but now that charter schools are in the picture, this point is entirely moot.) She stresses that now that charters are in the picture, the artificial capping of waitlists in the current system will harm ALL Southeast schools, and she is 100% correct. I fear that we’re now in a vicious cycle that will decimate our SE public schools.


—SE Mom
Anonymous said…
5) I know Tracy Libros worked very hard, had good intentions, and was extremely skilled at using her knowledge and experience to manage enrollment. I was sorry to see her so overworked in the 2013 boundary adjustments. However, she also allowed some racist boundary changes to occur under her watch, and it seems she did not create a system that could be operated by others.

6) I’m still stunned that staff proposed only reinstalling 50% of staffing after they learn how wrong their pre-Open Enrollment projects were, come this fall. I have not had a lot of time to attend committee meetings, but I would like to attend a meeting where this is discussed and see someone try to defend this proposal. Truly: WTF?

7) Reality points to how schools like Franklin and Cleveland are thriving, with great breadth of offerings, and therefore the current system is working. While this may have been somewhat true in the past, the wheels are now coming off the car. With the district coming up with phony enrollment projections based on pre-OE data and saying they’ll only restore 50% of staff in the fall, this leaves schools like Franklin without the staff they need to fund that breadth of offerings. We cannot pretend otherwise.

8) As others have mentioned above, to me, all of this points to one conclusion: The district’s methodology for per-school allocation of funding for staff, ostensibly based on student attendance, needs to be completely revised from scratch. The funding model needs to ensure that kids at each comprehensive attendance-area school have access to a minimum curriculum. Just look at Washington Middle School to see what can happen when there’s no floor on what a school is forced to provide. The lack of any waitlist at RB and Aki suggest to me that these schools need more resources to attract families. Let’s start with things like ensuring kids can take middle school world language and various advanced learning classes no matter which school they attend, and no matter how many other kids sign up to take them, and fund appropriately. The education you can get at SPS should not be so heavily dependent on address, not if we don’t want to lose all our SE students to charters.

—SE Mom
Anonymous said…
I know this sounds tin-hatty, but does anyone else suspect that the relative size of enrollment loss projections are based on where staff wants funding to go?

Like, with all of the issues at Washington this year, why would staff project WMS as losing only 68 kids, while projecting Mercer as losing 116? Common sense would indicate that SE HCC families who had been headed to WMS would reclaim their spots at Mercer, as I know multiple families are doing.

However, if they are using the projections to artificially manipulate where funding goes, then their approach of using pre-Open Enrollment data (WTF???) and only giving schools back 50% of their staff funding (WTF???) then makes total sense.

I’m looking forward to getting the OE data I requested and seeing how far off their relative loss projections were. If my tin-hat theory is true, I will see extreme variability in the relative losses among schools.

And the thing is, it makes sense for the staff to want to shift funds to underfunded schools. But to do it in an underhanded way of manipulating enrollment projections isn’t fair to families.

I could also be totally wrong. If they were more transparent in the first place, they wouldn’t have to say things like “no collusion” at committee meetings.

—SE Mom

kellie said…
Thanks SE Mom. I really appreciate your comments.

I should add to this conversation, that I have spoken with Betty Patu about this issue extensively over the last three years and Betty has agreed with my conclusions.

The artificial caps at Franklin and Cleveland were implemented around 2014 as a way to "protect" Rainier Beach. Everyone agrees with that "original noble intention." But all policy decisions have unintended consequences and by 2017, it was clear that the unintended consequences was declining enrollment for the entire SE and weakening of Franklin and Cleveland, without any evidence (only mythology) of corresponding improvement at Rainier Beach.

During the same time period, both Bellevue and Mercer Island closed their doors to out of district enrollment and it is just as reasonable to suppose that enrollment increases at RB were nearly identical to the drop in out of district enrollment.

High School in Seattle operates as a "network." We have 19 distinct high schools in Seattle and simply put, the "entire network" is only as successful as the "weakest point." While I am in not way implying anything weak about RB, RB is the only Tier 1 high school. I am trying to put out that supports to Rainier Beach, real supports (AKA money!) benefits the ENTIRE SYSTEM.

The worst of the "unintended consequences" of the artificial enrollment caps, is that it absolves downtown of just putting extra money into our only Tier 1 comprehensive high school and makes that money contingent on enrollment that is "re-directed" from the adjacent schools (Cleveland and Franklin).

The bottom line is that there are more than enough resident students in SE Seattle to fill all of the high schools (that is why Charters have opened there!) and because things work as a "network" NO SCHOOL benefits from weakening another school.

For folks in the northend, who think this might have nothing to do with you or your schools, think again. 70% of high school students have TWO VALID addresses (divorce rate, etc). When SE schools are weakened, there is a soft migration to other schools and this definitely contributes to the over-crowding.

SEattle Parent, I do agree with much of what you put forth. However,

Everyone is aware of which teachers are being cut, and the kids and these teachers are devastated to lose many enthusiastic, talented young teachers."

I think it's hard to lose any teacher. And being an older teacher doesn't make them any less talented or enthusiastic. I wish you would consider how that might sound. Of course, kids really like younger teachers but a good teacher is a good teacher.

SE Mom, I think you and Kellie should be running Enrollment for the district. Great thoughts.

On Kellie's thought about those who don't want to worry about SE high schools, just remember - EVERYTHING ripples in this district. Don't think because it's not your school or region, it won't matter. In the end, it's all going to spread out and affect schools. The nonsense happening at Washington Middle School? I'm pretty sure parents, students and staff didn't see this coming with a new principal. And, if her slash and burn ideas take hold, what school is next?

See what I mean?
Anonymous said…
Melissa, Thanks for your feedback!

The only reason I mentioned "young" teachers is that the cuts are based on seniority, so it seems that all the teachers being cut are young teachers. Maybe that's off-track, and I certainly meant no offense against older new teachers. We're very sorry to lose any teachers at Garfield.


-Seattle parent

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