Seemingly out of the blue and with no time for real public comment, Seattle School Board member Kay Smith-Blum is proposing that they re-draw the boundaries for Stevens and Madrona K-8. Full disclosure: My family lives within ‘Area 4’ – the proposed area that would be re-assigned.
Here is a link to her proposal and a map showing the potential changes: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/10-11agendas/011911
This is the 3rd time in 3 years that the boundaries for this area have been motioned to be reassigned. 1st with the closing of TT Minor. 2nd to Stevens. And now to Madrona.
Changing the school boundaries so frequently breaks up our community by dividing the families that live together by sending us to different schools. Kids that are just a year apart in age living next door to each other will be attending different schools. It doesn’t allow us to lend a hand to each other as neighbors to raise our families. In this economy, we all count on each other for childcare assistance, babysitting exchanges, and carpools to school.
Please join me and speak up now in order to ensure that our families and our communities can have a real voice in deciding what is best when it comes to our vital public schools. The School Board is considering changing this boundary one year after saying that their demographic projections ensured some stability at least until 2015, and the extent of the ‘community engagement process’ identified in Smith-Blum’s document is that the proposal was reviewed by the Executive Board.
This email will reach all of the board members:
Please feel to modify and cut and paste this message into your email.
The meeting where the proposal will be discussed is THIS WEDNESDAY,
Thanks for posting this – I hadn’t heard. I too live in Area 4, and this is very concerning. We have been telling our 4 year old he’s going to be attending Stevens in Fall 2012, as our daughter attended there when we rented and lived in Capitol Hill (where, of course, we couldn’t afford to buy). He’s been so excited.
I love the line in the pdf about how T.T. Minor is no longer available for use by the district…yeah, because they closed schools the year before a census, despite the influx of young families to the area. And overcrowding at Garfield…these are all things that seemed obvious as potential issues to our community members, but somehow the superintendent didn’t pick up on them.
I’m so disappointed in this school district’s inability to plan ahead.
again? another school? how much can they put our families thru?
Seattle School Board, please be thoughtful and considerate in your decisions as it is very emotional and impactful to many families in our neighborhood.
mother of 2 in this “area”
This proposal ( http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/10-11agendas/011911) is troubling for several reasons.
1. Contrary to the stated policies of the school board, there was no community engagement around this proposal at all and almost no opportunity for public comment. The matter was proposed last Friday and will be voted on tomorrow, Wednesday, at the school board meeting. Some of us are planning on attending the meeting and have requested to speak–you can do so as well by emailing [email protected] THIS MORNING.
2. The transportation argument presented in the proposal does not make sense. Smith-Blum asserts that reassigning Area 4 to Madrona would save on busing costs for Stevens, but the 44 kids in Area 4 who currently go to Stevens require bus service and will continue to require it.
3. The safety argument that it is safer for kids in Area 4 to cross 23rd to get to Madrona than to cross Union and Madison to get to Stevens misses two important facts. First, Area 4 is outside the walking zone of 1.25 miles from Stevens, so those kids will be taking buses anyway. Second, as my neighbor pointed out, there are NO cross walks on 23rd between Union and Cherry and the intersection of Marion and 23rd, situated in the middle of that long run, has been the site of several dangerous accidents. There are lights and cross walks at 17th, 19th and 22nd cross Madison. Children will walk and be safe if they TOGETHER and are all going to the same neighborhood school instead of being shuffled around every year to a different school.
4. Lastly, and perhaps most appalling, the staff analysis of the Smith-Blum proposed amendment includes the assertion that the district could save money by reducing the number of English Language Learners at Stevens and eliminating the ELL program if the kids in Area 4 were removed from attendance at Stevens. This strikes me as discriminatory at the very least. Should the goal be to REDUCE diversity at Stevens so the English-speaking kids can enjoy a great school without the burden of kids who speak English as a second language? I don’t want to speculate about the motives behind this staff comment, but it is nonetheless alarming.
If this proposed reassignment plan is important to you, PLEASE EMAIL THE SCHOOL BOARD TODAY and or attend the meeting tomorrow. It is critical that our voices be heard.
I can’t seem to open the map on my computer–could someone describe the boundaries? I have a feeling our house falls within them…
West to east: 14th Ave to 23rd Ave
North to south: Madison to Cherry
To answer the question all of the Stevens area south of Madison is being proposed to change.
I attended the community meeting at Garfield last month where SPS discussed “Transition: Year Two”, and the re-drawing boundaries for Stevens/Madrona K-8 was not even mentioned. I am dismayed that they can make these proposals with little to no time for families affected by these changes to make their voices heard. These are our elected officials proposing these changes and our tax dollars used to educate our children and it seems our voice is not heard.
At the community meeting held at Garfield by SPS last month, the SPS official who was speaking was pretty clear that because of over enrollement issues in the “higly desirable” schools, SPS was NOT going to try to keep siblings in the same school.
I think it is terrible for our families, neighborhood communities and schools to have siblings separated, schools changed as a result of SPSs lack of accurate planning.
So now, our neighborhood is looking at the possibility of having been assigned to 3 different schools in 3 years AND the school district will not make a commitment to keeping siblings together.
Thank you. Yep, I am right in the center of that.
i wonder what the impact on stevens’ diversity will be?
my thoughts exactly. this is ridiculous.
They got so much flack and so many voices raised in protest when they redrew the lines and closed schools last time, it seems obvious they are trying to push this through quickly to avoid the delay that comes by actually listening to the community’s concerns and opinions.
We know a family who lived just on the S side of Cherry, so they were out of the Stevens district. They are relocating to the S side of Madison at the end of the month, with a kindergartner starting in the fall – at Stevens, is what they understood. Guess if this goes through they are going to be in the exact same spot again – literally on the “wrong side” of the street.
At the moment only 45% of the students at Stevens currently live in the Stevens area. That area has two schools that they can actually find walkable, Lowell and Stevens.
Are we serious about neighborhood schools?
Currently only 45% of the students at Stevens actually live in the Stevens area, a situation that has been exacerbated by the continuing of out-of-area siblings. Yes, this still means that the area drawn for Stevens has a few more students than it should. Nonetheless, Kay’s plan would only shift that burden to Madrona and do nothing to serve the families in the area that she is proposing to change. This area deserves to be stability and not to be shifted again. If in the 2014, we can work to get TT Minor back as a desirable neighborhood school then the discussion can be had. (I had thought that it could happen sooner.) 400+ students live in the area of TT Minor, a very walkable area. Many of the families here breathed a sigh of relief after TT Minor was closed. If we could not work on that school at least the new assignment gave families a choice of a stable known quantity.
Only 33% of the students who live in the Lowell area choose to attend that school. A few of those may be APP. Nonetheless, this represents a program that is not attracting neighborhood students and allows a large number of APP students to dominate the school. It should probably be all APP. That is another discussion that can be had only if TT Minor is back as a school. Otherwise, leave this area alone and let the areas close to Stevens and Lowell divvy up their areas for balanced numbers….
hey can easily walk to either.
The currently the problem with the enrollment at Madrona is not the number of students living in its area it is the number who choose Madrona. Currently 22% of the students living in the Madrona area choose the school. If a good popular program were to be placed there then the school would eventually be overcrowded with at least 260 elementary age students in the area plus the 150 that would come from the new area being proposed. This does not take into account the number of students that might come out of private school. These families would not then necessarily choose the middle school portion of Madrona over Washington. Remember this would be an attempt to force them to an elementary choice. Most would still be looking to get to Washington if the historical patterns continued, and there is no evidence to contradict that pattern.
I know from experience that students west of 23rd have always qualified for transportation and have never been considered in a walk area. 23rd and MLK are both major arterials.
I fired off a note to the Board, and cc’d Tim Burgess, who’s the Council’s education chairperson. Even though I’m not impacted personally, this sort of stuff drives me completely insane. Don’t bother to follow your own policies, don’t listen to input from those impacted, just go make a decision. And then wonder why many of your constituents wish you’d all just quit so we could start over. Argh.
Yes, and I have attended all school board work sessions and Operation Committee meetings and this was never mentioned. Public engagement was nil. Yes, I concur, email Kay and other Board members. Kay mentioned it once somewhat privately some time ago as an effort to calm some of the Steven’s families who felt they lived closer to Stevens than those down by Cherry. Well, lucky them they have two schools nearby.
I will call on the rest of the school board to shoot down this last minute, sneaky proposal which, incidentally, affects only the poorest part of the new Stevens assignment area.
A quick look through the SPS website did not yield what I was looking for (maybe you can point me to it, Joanna), which is, did Stevens have 3 or 2 kindergarten classes this year? I am guessing 3, since I do recall that all but one of the out-of-area siblings got in this year. Historically, Stevens has added a third kindergarten class every few years, as they have had the capacity. If they had 3 this year, they will have 2 for the next few years, and perhaps that is why Smith-Blum wants to lop off the (poorer) south end of the assignment area.
What does this mean for all the research that the district office did to draw the boundaries in the first place? They looked at attendance patterns, census data, birth rates – they said they had a plan they could stick to for five years.
Families can hardly plan their kids’ education when the boundaries change two months before enrollment begins.
Smith-Blum’s proposal is bad planning, and abysmal process. Like another commenter, I went to a meeting in December about the SAP transition plan, and there was nary a word about changing elementary school boundaries in our neighborhood.
I will contact the school board tonight, and I hope they hear from the multitudes! Tell your neighbors.
Members of the public can call (206) 252-0040 or e-mail [email protected] and give their name, telephone number, e-mail address, and the topic they would like to address so that the district can respond.
I attached a map of Area 4 to the post.
The district has not been as straight forward in presenting the information as they should be. If you look at these pages and do the math, you will see that 79% of kindergartners at Stevens live in the Stevens area. There were about 85 kindergartners, about 65 from the area, and 20 from outside the area. I did get another breakdown that shows where the students go and which areas they leave to come to Stevens. It is not by grade. The whole way that they are releasing this information is disgustingly not as easy as it should be. I guess that may well mean 4 kindergarten classes.
I’m a parent at Stevens (living in Area 4). Stevens generally has space for 2 classes per grade. Yes, historically Stevens has had what they call a “bubble year”, in which they’ve added a 3rd K class. The PTA has paid for this by paying for an additional teacher every year. It’s a bit confusing because every year the teachers have to switch around to accomodate that bubble cohort moving up through the grades, and the rooms get shuffled around too, but it has always worked out. The current bubble cohort is in 4th grade this year (i.e., there’s 3 4th grade classes this year). This year, in addition to that bubble cohort, an 3rd kindergarten class was added to accomodate all of the students that were assigned under the New Student Assignment Plan. So this year we have 3 kindergarten classes, 2 1st grade, 2 3rd grade, 3 4th grade, and 2 5th grade. There wasn’t an extra room for the extra kindergarten class, so we had to eliminate our Spanish classroom to make room for it. Everyone in the school has been very sad that we now can’t offer Spanish to every student like we used to.
The prospect of having to accomodate 3 classes in every grade (which would be physically impossible with the existing building and the district can’t even legally add portables due to minimum playground size requirements) has made many at Stevens, including myself, wonder if we need to take another look at the boundaries. However, everything the district folks have said in the past about the New Assignment Plan regarding boundaries was that they would be looked at in another 5 years, no earlier. And if they’… read more going to do it earlier than 5 years, they need to give us more than a few days’ notice!
I would have to agree with Wave above. Stevens School sounds like it is bursting at the seams and yet, MK8 is barely filling classrooms. The school buildings have occupancy maximums, as calculated by the fire marshal and other regulatory agencies. You can’t keep packing kids in one school when there is another school same distance away, or perhaps even closer, that is empty.
Madrona K8 is set to become a fabulous neighborhood school. With a new Principal asking to have the community’s participation, an active PTA, eager and energetic incoming new families, it is bound to be a success. There is no magic ‘program’ that is going to make this school something it is not. The only thing that will make a difference is if you have a mass of families going who are active in their community and local school. There is no magic wand or pot of money that could make any more of a difference. I truly believe it will become a high achieving and sought neighborhood school when the neighborhood that reflects Madrona is sending their children there.
While I think the delivery of this suggestion was poor (just before a holiday weekend with little or no time for comment?!), the idea is still valid. SPS is finally putting their money where their mouth is. They are actively trying to create neighborhood schools. Historically, MK8 has been under enrolled and the empty seats were filled with kids from all around the district. These kids have tended to be more transient, meaning they move where ever there is a spot. These families typically have not, or could not participate in the classrooms, in… read more e PTA, in whatever way you would expect an adult with a vested interest in the school to participate. Now is the time for all that to change.
To borrow from ‘kbarr’ above: “In this economy, we all count on each other for childcare assistance, babysitting exchanges, and carpools to school.” Let’s make that happen for Madrona K8, not just Stevens, McGilvra, or Montlake.
If the K-5 portion at Madorna become a good popular program then the school would also be bursting at the seams and be overcrowded with at least 260 elementary age students in the area plus the 150 that would come from the new area being proposed. It is not designed for 500 k-5 students. It simply shifts the problem. The issue of the middle school portion is a bit separate, especially in numbers
alright, i’ll say it. this is a whitewash of Stevens. there.
i reserve the right to be wrong, but thought i’d stir the pot.
also, is this a single board member’s legislative proposal or confirmed policy?
Kay is simply trying to manage the mess the district made of the student assignment plan on our Hill. She argued not to close TT Minor, but to no avail. She is also the only director busting her butt to come up with some good programming options for Madrona.
Yes Madrona should have a great new program to entice families but blame district admin not Kay for not getting their act together and providing much much much overdue help in that area.
Stevens is maxed out. Period. It cannot fit another kindergarten class. There is literally no space left. Zero. THE KIDS WILL NOT FIT. Again this is district administration’s problem that Kay, a director, is left to try to solve. Don’t like her idea? Propose your own. Something that can be put in place before enrollment in a few weeks. Her idea is not optimal but there is nothing else out there thanks to lack of staff commitment to solve the issue as they should have.
When did she argue to keep TT Minor open? I don’t remember any statements by her at the time. I would love to see and would be heartened to see that she had something to say at the time even though she was not on the Board at the time. Five of the current Board members were there and heard testimony and supposedly studied the issues (hmm) questioning how the demographics were being skewed and voted for it at the time. Truly I would be heartened if Kay made any public statements. I would also be heartened if she had offered up an amendment during the lease decisions. I believe that I can come up with a plan and will.
I ask myself why this is so upsetting to me. The fact is that North Capitol Hill needs some of the 400+ students from our area and the old TT Minor area to keep all their schools open. Now Madrona also wants some of us, right? I was never treated during the time that my children went to school in the area as though I was an embraced member of either community. There is a real neighborhood here with real people who have cared and worked for the neighborhood and worked to educate our children.
Yes, I suppose that as a neighborhood we were a little asleep when the District gave TT Minor to Sloane and shut it out as a neighborhood school. There were alot of moving pieces with desegregation and empty homes. We scrambled to find a good program and did not as a group work together as well as we should have. Tell me that the people who live very close to Stevens or Madrona actually consider us a part of them. I believe we have to fight for what is currently best for our students and families, not what is good for Stevens or for Madrona. This talk about changing us around in 2011 and then maybe again in 2014 is not the way to go. We are either the Stevens area or give us…
ck a real neighborhood school and plan for it now.
What I would like to know other than the points stated:
– how come that within a year the decision to rezone to Stevens is void and replaced with another ad-hoc decision? What changed? Stevens hasn’t changed. Madison hasn’t changed. Is there insight into the decision making progress or is it mainly an under-the-covers process without public visibility whatsoever?
– is the schoolboard accountable in any sense for the decisions they make? Their decisions have long-term impact on families. Families make decisions to relocate (buy or rent) to neighborhoods zoned for “desirable schools”. Rezoning cannot be a overnight process as such, as it has logistical, financial and emotional impacts on these families. I’m sorry – this is very much like a public contract that you have to adhere to and simply can’t change without giving multiple years of lead time. Show responsibility.
It’s worth pointing out that the current boundary is only a year old and is odd (a long rectangle stretching far south, almost gerrymandered). My kids are not at Stevens, but I thought the current/new border was a bad idea when they did it, and I think this is just reversing a bad decision made last year, not anything else.
But I totally agree with the parent who is saying that the school district just keeps messing with us and changing things around for no reason. In this specific case with Stevens, they probably messed it up the first time, so it’s got to be fixed now, but the whole thing with the school closures before just looked like shuffling around chairs and trying to hide their past failures. Some continuity, reason, and accountability would be really nice in Seattle’s public schools.
This was put into place for the 2009-2010 school year. This is not the first year.
Do you have an idea or suggestion for a solution to this problem?
It is amazing to me that a shift in a boundary of 7-10 blocks can create this kind of conversation. A couple blocks to the north or south defines this? Come on. It is disappointing to me that other communities have rallied to find solutions to support their schools beyond the SPS district and we have not: Powerful Schools to the south & Successful Schools in Action to the northwest. These were grassroots community efforts to strengthen all schools in the clusters instead of allowing the district to determine a family’s fate by mere blocks. This will continue to happen in our area until we embrace Bailey Gatzert and Madrona K-8 and realize all the children end up at Garfield High School and deserve a great education. Not just MY kid and YOUR kid but OUR community of kids.
And Joanna, it is also disappointing to me that you are making comments to divide our community even more. Stevens has gladly embraced the children this year in your area. Madrona would love to do the same. Squire Park also has a school: Bailey Gatzert. There will always be someone on the “wrong side” of the line. Maybe we should rally around all the schools in our cluster instead of trying to figure out where the line falls.
Yes, Bailey Gatzert will be bursting at the seams if any of the plans for Yesler Terrace materialize. How is it divisive to advocate for all the families not to be constantly tossed to the wind here? Remember that Stevens is also a Garfield school. If Stevens has embraced us why are we being in essentially kicked out in favor of the classroom of kindergartners from outside the current area? By the way there are quite a few students in the area you are dismissing as not worth the concern. Ok let us rally around Stevens, a cluster school rather than proposing a shift to Madrona where with a great program there will again be overcrowding. Who will be tossed to wind then? And, why not community engagement or meetings with those affected. With no chance to weigh in or have a discussion this feels like a shove not an invitation.
I can say that I and other Area4 parents rallied in a grassroots fashion to support the school and students at TT minor and then campaigned to keep it open on threat of the district closing it- the school board turned a deaf ear on that facts and our wishes and closed a needed school anyway. We live in a very tight knit community and were excited, for once, to have the promised stability of years of entrance to a neighborhood school, Stevens. I do not have the energy or desire to support every elementary school in the district in the way I feel parents should (just the neighborhood school assigned to us- previously TT minor and now Stevens), nor do I feel it is fair to separate our kids from their siblings and neighbors by placing them in yet another new school after we were promised consistency from a supposedly well modeled demographic plan.
As I have said there are way more efficient ways to present facts and figures and enrollment information than the method that the District has been using which forces me an innocent advocate and citizen to wade into deep water without all the fact and figures which would assist me. I mean wade as I feel that all of these schools could be great choices if the District did not respond to only one of two well-placed citizens who aren’t caring about the families and the effect on neighborhoods.
Only 65 of the current kindergartners actually live in the current assignment area. If some families have to be upset upset the 35 percent who don’t. This seems cruel and goes against my beliefs, on the other hand we have siblings coming from this area also and those who are at Stevens to be grandfathered. Was that part of the plan? Anyway those who pushed to get in from outside the area should not have priority if the District is sincere in its effort to form great stable neighborhood programs. This gives a good 20 seats. At fifth grade only 19 of the approximately 58 student current group live in the area. Do not allow any kindergartners from outside the Stevens area to attend Stevens in 2011. This gives Stevens approximately 60 seats for next years kindergarten class. McGilvra seems have about 31 empty seats. Slice the northern top off of the Stevens area which is still quite close to McGilvra and put in the McGilvra area until a permanent. solution can be found. If need be temporarily give a small slice of McGilvra that is closer to Madrona to Madrona to make room for the north end Stevens group.
None of these should be permanent until a real stable, continuing solution can be found.
There are approximately 70 4th graders, with only 25 living in the area. I am not sure how this has been handled this year. 70 does equal a very good use of space.
I find it hard to believe these facts that you are reporting. Please let us know where you are getting these numbers. As a former parent of children at McGilvra – and knowing how people were clamouring over each other to get in – it does not seem conceivable that there are 31 open slots for kindergarten, as you say, that would not be filled by their own reference area. Where did everyone go? They have had, in years and years past only 20-21 kids per classroom. Now, because of all the changes they have 27 per kindergarten classroom. And you say there will be 31 seats available? Preposterous!!!!
And how on earth is this solution any different than slicing the southern portion off of the Stevens reference area and giving it to Madrona? Seriously? The portion of Stevens ref. area you say that is ‘closer’ to Mcgilvra is separated by the Arboretum?!? That would feel neighborhoody to you? I don’t know many moms who would let their kid wind their way through the back of Broadmoor and the Arboretum to knock on their pal’s door for a playdate…
I hope that when you report all these numbers you will back them up with links to the data. Otherwise you are just fueling a fire that does not need any help.
Real solutions please.
It is already in the Student Assignment Plan that kindergarten fills up first from the assignment area, and *then* any leftover seats go next to siblings of currently enrolled students from out of the assignment area. No need to keep piling on the families who want to keep their kids together in the school in which they are already established – we lost. If the 85 kindergarteners at Stevens this year include 20 out-of-area siblings and that trend holds, then having just two kindergarten classes next year, which seems inevitable given capacity, means no out-of-area siblings will get in. Not all the in-area kids will, either. But not because of siblings.
Joanna, McGilvra has 2 kindergarten classes with 27+ in each. Where will they put 31 more? I know you are upset but please double check what you are saying before you lose all credibility.
Hear hear coffeecup! Three schools in three years is a lot to ask of area 4 families, but something has to be done about the overcrowding at Stevens. My son is in first grade at Madrona and we have been very happy there and I agree with your perspective on the direction the school is taking. While I feel for the area 4 families facing another change, you’ll find that Madrona will welcome you with open arms.
Amen to Karin’s points and you can add Leschi to the mix as well. When we talk about “neighborhood schools,” we do have to own up to the fact that none of the following schools have a majority of their students residing in the reference area (I like the old term): Stevens, McGilvra, Leschi, and Madrona. Parents fight and flee for/from certain schools for their own personal reasons. If we really wanted “neighborhood schools” as parents, we’d enroll that way (instead of working the system, participating in tracking, or moving). I’m hopeful that we are headed in the direction where parents will rally around their school: the one closest to their home (no matter what the district does). Believe it or not, all the schools in this area will provide a great educational experience. We all want what’s best for our kids and most importantly for ALL the kids in our communities. Its interesting that parents seem to loosen up on the whole school anxiety thing as the kids hit middle school…they probably realize all will be just fine by then.
As a Capitol Hill parent, I believe the complaints from Area 4 families are both relevant in general but very wrong in regard to Stevens. Area 4 has been trashed repeatedly by SPS. However, the proposal is almost exactly the right answer for long term community participation in SPS. Stevens has a drastic reduction in parent participation this year with the new boundary which is nothing like a neighborhood community. Many north capitol hill families are either exiting SPS or Stevens, and these are often families that can support multiples of their own children if they choose to stay in the system, via PTA or other support functions. We want those families to stay in, and they are leaving if you do not give them their neighborhood. Despite complaints, which are valid on a “we’re being abused” level, Madrona is a much more relevant school for Area 4’s long term neighborhood participation.
To Jessica–“Three schools in three years is a lot to ask of area 4 families, but something has to be done about the overcrowding at Stevens.” And why is this the thing that needs to be done? How about this time we let another area in our cluster some of the burden of this mess? Why is it that the same area of kids and their families continues to get shuffled around with no regard to continuity? And why was this proposal seemingly railroaded through at the 11th hour with no input from either MK8 or Stevens principals or PTA heads?
Actually, according to the Stevens principal the school could take another three K classes for one more year. So why is the school board voting on this now, with no public input?
Well, if those Stevens families want to pull their kids out and go to private school, there will be enough room for all us poor southern folk who want in. Seems like a win-win.
Your post is offensive in its sense of entitlement: “We want those families to stay in, and they are leaving if you do not give them their neighborhood.” Gross. And I can’t quite fathom why Madrona is a “much more relevant school for Area 4’s long term neighborhood participation.” Relevant racially? Socio-economically? Thank goodness you don’t speak for most of the Stevens parents I’ve talked to.
I think it’s interesting to assume that the southern portion of the Steven’s boundary has neither the financial or time commitment to their school and PTA- I know that does not describe my outlook. I am also a tad put off that northern portion of the boundary has some sort of intrinsic higher value to their desires for what constitutes a neighborhood school than the southern portion. It would be analogous to saying that Washington State has some sort of fractional representation based on our distance from DC. I think that if Madrona becomes an attractive option you will see families that would have traditionally opted out of that school begin to attend and we end up in the same situation. My guess is that by the time that would occur the board would then pull our families (again) from that school into a “newly acquired” and untested TT minor.
Don’t you think the parents of “area 4” (such an awful name) deserve more than 36 hours to argue their case?
What do you mean that Madrona is much more “relevant” school for Area 4? That all the poor minority children should be collected in Madrona? Please explain yourself. Some of us Madrona folks have jobs, advanced degrees and nice homes. Your post is offensive.
A few more points:
1) The old Stevens boundary was north Capitol Hill. Participation rates for the PTA, auction, etc, went up dramatically during those years.
2) The new boundary gave a parcel to Lowell, and added Area 4. Participation rates have fallen off a cliff. Empirically, adding Area 4 has reduced participation rates dramatically.
3) If participation rate goes down, those who can help will leave. 30 students to a class. 20 can help, typically half (10) will, supporting +1 financially (the other 10 that need $), and +2 in volunteer time (the other 20 that need time). Now dilute participation to 15 that can help and 7 will help. It is now +2 financially and +3 in volunteer time to support the 30, much tougher. Too much. Of the 7, half leave. This is empirically true of people’s behaviour, regardless of what people are saying to you in person. North Capitol Hill has a lot of people who don’t want to offend your fantasy. Now you are down to 2 or 3 people who will basically give up supporting 30 students, aka no financial support or volunteers. Net, SPS loses the 5-10 families than would have been happy to help if they weren’t pushing a boulder up the hill. So hooray, win-win for your idealistic fantasy and lose-lose for the 10-20 students who would have received extra help. Brilliant.
4) I would love to think that the distance didn’t matter, but it does, despite Area4Jon as the statistical outlier who is making an effort – supporting a community that is well beyond walking distance. I am also not saying North Capitol Hill has a higher value to our neighborhood,…
t that Madrona is a much more obvious long-term & stable neighborhood that might hopefully drive Area 4 participation rates higher. I fully sympathize (as per original post) that the board likes to abuse Area 4. I sent them email last year when TT Minor was shut and the new boundary was created to the same effect, that the old TT Minor community had been destroyed and participation will be near zero, which has come true this year at Stevens.
5) I grew up in SPS, send my children to SPS, and donate both time and money as much as possible to SPS. I would love to see SPS get 90%+ of potential student age enrollment. Seattle has a lot of money, and getting more parents who can help into the system should be a stated goal. Our current participation rate is one of the worst in the nation, and comments like “pull their kids out … there will be enough room for all of us. Seems like a win-win” will only keep us in the fractured status quo.
6) For those of you bringing up economics and claiming offense, as a reminder, the post was titled “Distance Matters”, as in distance drives participation.
So far the only actual numbers I have presented were for Stevens. First I acknowledged that if McGilvra were to be part of the solution to this, that a small slice of the extremely large area might be temporarily assigned to Madrona or perhaps it would better reflect the long-range projections.
According to the posted material on the district site that I posted earlier here are the stats for McGilvra: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/implementation/index.dxml://www.seattleschools.org/area/implementation/WhereStude
One special note: School is currently under
functional capacity due to
small class sizes
On this note I would say that class sizes might have to increase. I’m puzzled about why the District allow more space per student here than at other schools?
McGilvra has a capacity of 300 students (this is a constantly moving number giving the impression that it is politically motivated) and a current enrollment of 269 students. Open seats may be spread over grade levels. Of the 54 or 55 Kindergarten students who live in the area 87% attend McGilvra (47 are from the area). Contrast that with the 36% of total 5th graders (16) who live in the area attend McGivra. 62% of the total population at McGilvra live in the area.
The presentation of the numbers means doing some math and the total figures for each class are not presented making a complete analysis difficult. As a whole from one other page that is not posted there are a fair number of students from Madrona and Leschi attending the school. Moving this boundary….
bit might be as practical as throwing area #4 to the wind again and in fact might tweak the boundaries to more closely match the long-term population projections for Madrona and McGilvra.
The main point is why is this amendment offered with no public engagement or examination of the idea or the facts? It is literally that area 4 is being pushed around. This not new information. All the Board members who voted for the assignment plan knew this.
If they can handle 3 kindergarten classes doesn’t mean that they should if it already over crowded. Next year they should admit only the kindergartners who live in the area while they figure our if anyone is serious about reopening TT Minor, the closest school for 400+ of these students.
When TT Minor closed, the top choices for the 154 reassigned students were the Lowell at 58 (all by default) and Leschi at 45 (33 by default and 12 by choice), followed by Madrona at 25 (7 by default and 18 by choice), and only 1 chose Stevens.
The data suggests that Area 4 (a subset of TT Minor) prefers to be aligned with Madrona over Stevens by a wide margin.
I still disagree. I don’t think that throwing ‘Area 4 to the wind’ is an accurate description of what SPS is doing. Seems to me they are trying to align this part of the Central Area with a 1. School that has room and 2. School that is closer than the school it is currently referenced to.
Your statement from a previous post: ‘None of these should be permanent until a real stable, continuing solution can be found’ regarding moving temporarily to McGilvra seems to me to further this conundrum of instability for this area. At what point would you suggest moving folks around again?
That chart says nothing about default vs. choice, and certainly does not address which school had room (Madrona, under capacity) and which school had no room (Stevens, consistently full).
I’ve got to take issue with “Participate”‘s conclusion that Stevens Participation is down due to changes in the shape of the attendance area. I’m a new Stevens parent in 2010, from the North end of Capitol Hill, and my perception of “participation” challenges has nothing to do with geography.
1. The PTA leaders, although I’m sure they’re very nice and well-meaning people, come across as dismissive of questions or suggestions from new parents. They’ve been around for awhile. They know what they’re doing. Issues raised by new folks have already been considered, and answers already figured out. Thanks for coming. Eat a cookie.
2. The PTA came into this school year debating whether their financial reserves are too large. No concern about them being too small.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re really happy with the community we’ve found among fellow students and parents at Stevens. We’ve met great people who live on both sides of Madison. And although we’re providing financial support, we’re “participating” with less enthusiasm than we might have had we found a more welcoming and inclusionary environment at the PTA.
Lets get real here. When TT Minor closed it really was only in a second year of becoming a neighborhood school. This, of course, would mean the kindergarten and 1st grade parents, along with others who had remained loyal, were the basic group leading the way to create a neighborhood school The Sloane Foundation plan took it out of the assignment area and we were in an area of no specific expectation. Many from the area were already at Stevens after enduring wait lists to be admitted, as it was usually fully enrolled. When the Sloane moved to the New School many in that program followed those resources and did not necessarily live here. When TT Minor closed the students were automatically assigned to Lowell. Those who could followed the Montessori Program to Leschi since they were grandfathered into the program. The 400+ students for whom TT Minor was the closest school had over decades been disenfranchised from attending the school and attended many different schools.
If we can get even just good leadership, these assignments will not be so tangled. Are we serious about neighborhood assignments with a few option programs? I ask that because a lot of money, time and resources in the District are being used in the name of that type of plan. In that scenario there is not room for Area #4 at Madrona and this could not be permanent situation so the chaos has no merit at all. Madrona could however accommodate a small piece of the McGilvra area in order to balance the population of those two areas.
Lowell should probably close as a neighborhood choice as its reasonable walk area and close by neighborhood overlaps with Stevens. Probably if I lived that close to Stevens I would feel I was in the Stevens neighborhood. TT Minor should reopen with a plan that includes the families here. That would then help some near Stevens feel less anxious. But, wait why would I care about Stevens families? Well, I was president of Seattle Council PTSA and am a strong advocate for all families to be involved and for public education. But, somewhere along the line felt many of our other so-called civic leaders could not be counted among those who care. I challenge the leaders at Stevens to concern themselves with a real solution for all and not just with their own assignments. This will stabilize their neighborhood school as well. If for some reason they want Lowell to remain as one of the neighborhood choices then Stevens has to embrace area #4.
The “closest school” or “by distance” led to chaos too. This could only make sense when you have schools at reasonably placed distances apart and certainly disenfranchises any family not living across the street from a school. It led to some families never having any stable assignment since all the nearest schools filled up quickly. Some don’t really have a nearby school. Natural obstacles obliterate the notion of nearest. What do you do when Lowell and Stevens are close together? What happens when the closest school for 400+ students is closed? Yes, neighborhood lines should respect neighborhood and natural boundaries, along with ensuring adequate space.
What do you mean by rallying around your closest school under the current circumstances? Sometimes citizens actually have to insist that the elected and publicly paid officials work on their behalf.
I’m one of the people that was involved in a serious accident at 23rd and Marion—my son and I were run over by someone turning left onto 23rd from Marion.
I DO NOT want my sons to have to cross 23rd.
This needs more time for public comment.
I don’t know what to think about this. I just moved into the affected area, with a 2-year-old. The proposed changes seem sensible from a transportation perspective; we were considering applying for Madrona anyway, since it’s walkable for us, and Stevens isn’t. However, every well-to-do white parent I’ve talked to has advised me against Madrona school (no, nobody’s given me a concrete reason). This plan seems designed to move the poorest and most ethnically diverse population from Stevens– the kids whose families have limited resources, in a variety of ways– into this school that involved parents with good access to resources are avoiding. Seems like there could be some pretty crappy consequences… mainly for the poor kids (as usual).
This was just a reference to story earlier in January. I have notes from Kay Smith-Blum’s Community Meeting earlier this month that I will publish in a bit. Sorry I have bee so slow to do so. This is not to say that she would not want this to happen. However, with all the current changes and space at Lowell, I don’t think anything like this is being proposed.
Yes, the update is here: http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2011/01/19/schools-direct