Community Post

Solutions to Garfield’s Over-enrollment are the Subject of Upcoming Meetings

It is clear that Garfield High School will be impacted  by changes to the current Student Assignment and Transition Plans in an effort to stem continuing overcrowding at the school.  During last Wednesday’s School Board Work Session the two main solutions presented by staff were redrawing Garfield’s attendance area boundaries or creating additional  high school pathways for the students in the Accelerated Progress Program (APP).  School Board member Kay Smith- Blum also asked the staff to assess how a possible expansion of Nova’s proposed Geographic Zone (the area where students live and receive preference for attending an alternative school) boundaries could impact the over enrollment at Garfield.

Currently all APP Students are guaranteed an assignment to Garfield if they choose to go there.  Garfield’s current enrollment is about 1780 and approximately 455 are APP students, while the capacity of the school is about 1680.   Remember a portion  of the APP students also live in the Garfield assignment area and that not all APP students choose Garfield. Neither of these numbers was available and either solution will profoundly affect many  students living in the current area and those who attend programs in the area. *(Please see below for some explanation of the APP Program vs AP, Advance Placement classes which are taught according to  nationally recognized curriculum.)   Other options that were offered included giving Garfield area students priority to other high demand schools, limiting transfers to Garfield and open choice seats, and using other nearby community facilities to add classrooms. Generally the Board seemed more disposed toward adding pathways for the APP students compared to redrawing boundaries. 

Nonetheless, a 9-page document of possible changes to the boundaries was presented.  Some proposals  involve redrawing the Franklin High School boundaries to move the current areas assigned there to Rainier Beach to prevent overcrowding at Franklin if the portions of the Garfield area were to be reassigned  to  Franklin, including Thurgood Marshall, Beacon Hill and part of Leschi.  Like any puzzle one piece affects others.  Another assigns  Montlake area students  to Roosevelt. This may have been  proposed since the current Roosevelt assignment area has fewer resident students than had been projected. Yet, another shows the Lowell attendance area folding into Ballard high school.  These last two  would be especially provocative, as both attendance areas are much more convenient to Garfield than to either of the other high schools, especially true for the Ballard assignment.  What happened to keeping students close to where they live?  

Please see the details:

This is the link to the Power Point presentation:

Central District families and residents should  review these, prepare to comment or ask questions regarding the various ideas that were put forth, and attend the community meetings.  While the timing with November and December holidays may seem not to bode well for authentic community engagement, remember the plan was developed to ensure a predictable, equitable and easy to understand assignments for families and that this work it part of creating the  continuing Transition Plan for 2011-2012 and future phasing-in.  It is worthwhile to make an effort to attend the meeting or to communicate with the Board members.

A draft  plan will be formally introduced to the Board (as an introductory agenda item) on January 5th, 2011 and the  Board will vote on it on January19th.

For full listing of the meetings and descriptions go to:

“Consult and Involve” meetings are intended to be meetings where parents and community members can drop-in  and interact with District staff  one-on-one regarding any of the data:

Thursday, November 18, 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM, Room 2700

Tuesday, December 14, 6:00 PM to 8:00PM

“Inform and Consult”  meetings are general  community meetings in different areas of Seattle for the 2011-2012 Transition:

Garfield HS on November 15, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM (Central District Meeting)


Those not able to make a specific regional meeting, may attend any of the meetings listed:

Nov. 8, 6:30-8 p.m,.SE region meeting, Rainier Beach HS

Nov. 10, 6:30-8 p.m.,NE region meeting, Roosevelt HS

Nov. 15, 6:30-8 p.m., Central region meeting, Garfield HS

Nov. 16, 6:30-8 p.m., West Seattle region meeting, West Seattle HS

Nov. 22, 6:30-8 p.m., NW region meeting, Ingraham HS

Nov. 18, 1:30-3:30 p.m., Drop-in session, JSCEE Room 2700

Dec. 1, 4-8 p.m., School Board work session, JSCEE Auditorium

Dec. 14, 6-8 p.m., Drop-in session, JSCEE Room 2750

Jan. 5, 6 p.m., School Board meeting –Transition Plan introduction JSCEE Auditorium

Jan. 19, 6 p.m., School Board meeting –Transition Plan vote, JSCEE Auditorium

Among other  topics included in the discussion will be development of geographic zones for option schools. The “geographic zone” will provide a tiebreaker for students who live within a defined area in proximity to the school. Option schools include STEM@Cleveland, NOVA, The Center School and AS#1 high schools; Jane Addams, Salmon Bay, TOPS, Pathfinder, Orca and South Shore K-8 schools; and Thornton Creek and Queen Anne elementary schools

Proposed drafts of Geographic areas:

School counts:

*The APP Program ends after 8th Grade and all students who attend Garfield have access to the Advance Placement classes. All nine of Seattle’s comprehensive high schools offer AP classes, some more than others.  A school must
have a large enough number of students ready for these classes to drive a good number AP class.  There are many very bright students who opt into Running Start at the Community Colleges rather than taking AP classes. 

Yes, due to numbers this cohort does drive a greater number of AP classes to the highest levels for Garfield.  If this cohort was to be dispersed  among all the high schools the number of classes available would definitely decline.

APP classes grades 1 through 8 are generally at the top range of the legally allowed student to teacher ratios and the same is generally true for the AP classes at Garfield.  Yes, due to numbers this cohort does drive a greater number of AP classes to the highest levels for Garfield.

To see the District’s description of APP and the students it serves go to:

 “The Accelerated Progress Program (APP) is the Seattle Public Schools Advanced Learning program that serves the needs of students who are academically highly gifted.

The program provides a rigorous, accelerated curriculum in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies that challenges students to apply complex thinking skills when working with core skills and concepts. The curriculum is presented at a significantly accelerated learning pace and focuses on grade level expectations that are significantly above the students’ assigned grade level with a significantly advanced level of complexity and depth.

Service delivery is through a self-contained program during grades 1-8. A cohort-based model is available at the high school level during which students enroll in honors courses and Advanced Placement courses in grades 9 through 12.”

0 thoughts on “Solutions to Garfield’s Over-enrollment are the Subject of Upcoming Meetings

  1. I have long believed that APP programs should be at several high schools spread out around the city, if not in EVERY high school. In Wichita, Kansas USD 259 has very strict boundary rules for attendance and each high school has its own impressive Honors and AP/APP programming. To supplement these programs one high school has an International Baccalaureate (IB) program as well, which is open to students throughout the district who apply and are admitted to the program through testing. I believe spreading honors and APP programs throughout the Seattle district and pushing ALL schools to offer more options for high achievers is paramount to the success of the district.

  2. The APP Program ends after 8th Grade, and all students who attend Garfield have access to the Advance Placement classes. All Seattle high schools offer some AP classes. A school must have a large enough number of students ready for these classes to drive a good number AP class. There are many very bright students who opt into Running Start at the Community Colleges rather than taking AP classes. The District’s information on APP can be found here:

    We have two high schools with IB Programs, which are more expensive to implement than AP classes. I have seen numbers occasionally published showing how many students take an IB class, but no number on how many actually complete the full curriculum offering. I have wondered if the program would be stronger if it was offered at one location so that it would be serving a larger cohort. However, I would need more information to comment further on Seattle’s IB programs.

    AP classes offer students the opportunity to be challenged in areas of interest and talent.

  3. thanks, joanna. i thought it was just AP in high school but was confused by the original post. i also agree that the IB programs can be very expensive and since they have smaller populations i think keeping it centered at one school is appropriate.

    my point was that APP students in middle school shouldn’t been ‘guaranteed’ a spot in one particular high school because it has the most AP classes, but rather the bar should be raised for other schools so that students can get the same quality AP classes at other schools. it seems like this would cut down on the overcrowding issues at garfield.

    and, of course, maybe the district could wait until AFTER a census before redrawing reference school lines!!! something to keep in mind in ten years.

  4. Our Dist 5 school board director, Kay Smith-Blum, has her community meeting this Sat. This could be a good opportunity for people to brainstorm on school boundaries, and coordinate to ensure that our community’s needs will be represented at each of the District’s NSAP meetings. Plus, Kay’s morning meetings are an open forum for asking questions, sharing stories and generally educating one another on our schools successes and needs.

    Dist 5 Community Meeting w/ Kay Smith-Blum
    Sat Nov 13, 10-11:30a
    @ Douglas Truth Library- 23rd/Yesler
    Everyone Welcome

  5. GHS sports parents are planning to turn out en-masse at the meeting mentioned above, to show support for the reversal of recent harsh and unprecedented sanctions against the GHS athletic program.

  6. Good to know, the actions seem entirely out of line. Perhaps there is more to the story than has been publicly shared, but the consequence should fall on the adults NOT the students.

  7. The school district needs to rethink its entire policy on the APP program grades 1-8. Let’s be honest, it has been used to keep Seattle families from fleeing to private schools. Its original purpose was to support families with students who are academically gifted but struggle socially and are challenged in a traditional classroom. We now have kindergartners who test in and are guaranteed a place in APP through middle school with a lot of extra privileges and expense to the district. This system creates an elitism and division among students (and families) that does more harm than good for our community. We need all kinds of learners in each classroom recognizing multiple intelligence and learning respect for each others differences. Let the people who are afraid of real diversity go to private schools. That might fix our overcrowding and create more equity for all students.

  8. APP is one of the least expensive programs to run, if not the least. This is not to say, there are many theories on all of this. You might check out the programs that exist in Seattle here. Kindergarten is not included.

    All nine of Seattle’s high schools offer AP classes. Remember at the high school level efficiency can only be accomplished if most classes (except for special ed.) have close to 30 students in them.

  9. I meant that kindergartners are taking the test in the spring before 1st grade. If all students had access to the engaging teachers and materials that are offered to APP students grades 1-8, I know we wouldn’t have a problem filling those high school AP classes. When half the APP kids left WMS for Hamilton, some of the APP teachers at WMS got assigned “regular” program classes. They didn’t change how they teach those classes. Big surprise, most the students are engaged and doing very well with more rigor. Struggling students have access to one on one tutors. I argue that APP has turned into a different program than originally intended. There are brilliant students who really struggle with school and might even drop out if their needs are not addressed. Most students in APP are enrolled not for these concerns but because their parents want them academically challenged and not in a class with students who might “hold them back”. Separating students by academic achievement might be efficient or the easiest way to educate a large number of students and appease parents in the short run, but its overall negative impact on kids perceptions of themselves(APP=smartest, Spectrum=smart Regular=dumbest)is damaging to all.

  10. As a parent who has benefited from an APP education for my kid, perhaps I’m biased. There is a minimum number of students needed for a program to survive and SPS seems intent on finding out exactly what that number is by dividing the APP cohort as often as they can. Unlike crossroads, after the WMS/Hamilton split (my kid ended up in Hamilton), I saw the quality of instruction drop. I saw an award winning music program cut in half with each part trying to regrow what they were missing. I saw a huge amount of work by parent volunteers to make the transition work.

    These kids are constitutionally guaranteed an education that meets their needs (

    I’m not saying the program can’t improve. I would love to see SPS reinstate the policy of testing all 1st/2nd graders for Spectrum/APP, for example, though I don’t know where they’ll get the money. But spreading the program out to more and more schools will not improve the education at those schools. Instead it will drive APP out of existence.