Parents ‘strongly oppose’ boundaries that would separate Capitol Hill school from Central District kids

Stevens parents are afraid proposed growth boundaries would mean a significant loss of diversity for the school.

Stevens parents are afraid proposed growth boundaries would mean a significant loss of diversity for the school.

The nature of Seattle’s new system of “neighborhood schools” has guaranteed one thing — nearly perpetual change in the “growth boundaries” that define where students must live to attend the city’s public schools. But the latest revisions to Seattle Public Schools’ new set of border proposals has a group of neighborhood parents who have been working on the updates for months rankled at what they see as a potential loss of diversity from closing off the Stevens Elementary attendance area to families living south of Madison.

In a letter sent to school families, members of the Stevens attendance committee say they “strongly oppose the proposed expansion of our boundaries to the north and east.” “These expansions would displace the south-of-Madison group of families and siblings that are already integral to our community and who bring Stevens much of its diversity, only to replace them with other families,” the message reads. “Our community does not welcome this solution, which does not appear to solve our capacity issue while negatively affecting diversity at Stevens.”

The latest process to adjust Seattle Public Schools’ borders kicked into high gear over summer and continues this with meetings and a formal SPS survey to finalize feedback on the next adjustments — CHS documented the preliminary boundary proposals here: Proposed Capitol Hill elementary school ‘border’ shifts address more kids, new middle school in 2017.

On Friday, SPS released a series of revisions including pulling back the southern Stevens boundary from Cherry to Madison while expanding north to Boyer and east to Lake Washington Blvd and Madison. The Stevens parents also object to the potential move of the English Language Learners program from the school and a plan that could have Stevens kids ready for middle school busing to South Seattle while the district prepares to rebuild the Meany campus.

SPS is collecting feedback to hear what parents have to say:

Seattle Public Schools seeks feedback on newest growth boundary recommendations

Seattle Public Schools is updating attendance area boundaries to accommodate enrollment growth and new construction. An initial draft of boundary changes was provided in September, offering families, staff and the community time to weigh in and give feedback.

After hosting five community meetings and receiving thousands of emails and suggestions, new recommended boundary changes are being proposed. These can be found at: For more information, including supporting documents, see the following:

We are asking for new feedback on the recommendations via a survey at: Please take this survey by Oct. 21. Input through the survey will be included in the review.

Next steps:

  • District seeks public input via a survey from Oct. 14-21.
  • School Board Work Session on the boundary proposal from 4:30-6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17 at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence. (The public is invited to attend, but public testimony will not be taken.)
  • Revised recommendations will be sent to the Board for the Nov. 6 meeting
  • A School Board vote is scheduled for Nov. 20.
  • If approved by the School Board, implementation of some of the new elementary and middle school boundaries will begin for the 2014-15 school year, although many boundary changes cannot go into effect until Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) capital levy construction projects are completed.

For more information on the growth boundary project, please visit

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 4.46.34 PMMeanwhile, parents in the north of the Central District are pushing Schools to reconsider the future for the TT Minor campus at 18th and Union.

371 students attended Stevens in the 2011-2012 school year. Of those, 46% were identified as white in the district’s demographics survey — right at the district average, according to Seattle Public Schools.

Below is a sample letter the Stevens group is asking parents to send the school board. The board next meets this Wednesday. Parent representatives from around the city are expected to attend to also push for better boundaries for their neighborhood schools.

Sample Letter (to edit as you wish)—please send as soon as possible to the following email addresses:

To: [email protected]

cc: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],[email protected], [email protected],[email protected], [email protected], [email protected],[email protected]

Dear Ms. Smith-Blum and Seattle School Board,

I am the parent of a Stevens Elementary School student. I am writing to express my concern about the proposed Stevens boundary and program changes and the Meany middle school transition plan.

The 10/11 recommendations would eliminate our ELL link program and remove from our boundary the families between Madison and Cherry who are integral to our community. We understand that there may be a need to reduce enrollment at Stevens, but we cannot support a plan that removes these families while replacing them with other families by expanding our boundaries to the north and east. These changes would largely eliminate the rich diversity that makes Stevens a unique school in the district. Changing three of the four boundaries also unnecessarily disrupts many families without accomplishing the goal of addressing the current capacity issues facing Stevens.

The Stevens community has worked in the past six months to identify our top three goals for capacity management: (1) preserve our existing programs; (2) preserve the diversity of our student body, and (3) manage capacity so as to preserve outdoor play space and avoid the installation of portable classrooms. We hope that you will take these priorities into account in your decision-making process.

With regard to the Meany middle school transition, I strongly oppose bussing students to Van Asselt. This decision would have negative outcomes in the short term for students spending two hours a day on the bus, and in the long term for the Meany community after many families move their kids to option or private schools to avoid three years of such bussing. I hope the district will choose a solution that places our middle school students at Washington or Meany until the Meany refurbishment is complete.


Don’t forget the Sincerely part!

In the meantime, Lowell, Capitol Hill’s other public elementary school continues its amazing mission to educate children from the western side of the Hill all the way to downtown…. and beyond.

The original Lowell boundary proposal is below — unlike the Stevens set, the October revisions for Lowell don’t appear to be significant. If you’re a Lowell parent and beg to differ, let us know in comments.

Full disclosure: Jseattle jr. attends Stevens Elementary.

6 thoughts on “Parents ‘strongly oppose’ boundaries that would separate Capitol Hill school from Central District kids

  1. “Nearly perpetual change in the growth boundaries” – that’s the issue. With big fluctuations in the number of school age children in Seattle one of the toughest challenges may be providing constancy for students, families, and communities. I assume that student “grandfathering” and sibling “grandfathering” can mitigate changes for individual students and student families, but I think the communities, particularly the Elementary School Communities, are going to have to be flexible.

    If we’re going to do neighborhood schools, the main criteria should be GEOGRAPHY- distance to my school. By that measure, I’d say the revised school boundary draft is a step in the wrong direction for the CD. John Muir feeds into Meany Middle School- that’s a hike. Other zones, like McGilvra, look more gerrymandered to my eye.

    I’m excited to see how it all plays out, but I’m a little concerned that parent and community advocacy is going to hamstring the school system.

  2. You will be hearing more on this from others but here are a few facts
    The Board’s own guiding principles support reopening TT Minor and research on health supports that the guiding principle are good for students/

    TT Minor is in a neighborhood that is constantly being disrupted and will always need transportation until the school is reopened. The children living in the walk zone now for TT Minor now number 478 and are projected as follows: projected 2017 581, projected 2022 583. We were projected to grow and have been doing so for many years. 478 is a whole school of students.These are not just nearby students, they are in the walk zone.

    Just within the two recent boundary growth proposals students here have been sliced and diced with proposals of where they would attend school involving 4 or more schools. Each proposal has represented a new plan to divided up a neighborhood of students.

    The district and Board have a chance to correct a monumental injustice of a former board action closing the school while they kept schools open where fewer students lived and where even fewer students can walk to school and with less diversity. If they believe in ensuring that the greatest number of students as possible are served by walking to neighborhood schools and extend that to diverse populations, they will reopen TT Minor as a neighborhood school.

    More than 500 future students live here and their families are working to ensure the stability and health of them and their community.

    The Squire Park Community Council voted unanimously to support reopening TT Minor as an elementary school ASAP for the good of the children and the neighborhood. The entire neighborhood, the young, the old, the parents, the community activists, new residents, long time residents support this action.

    This will profoundly change the proposed student growth boundaries and they are asking for this to be done as soon as possible in order for it to be rolled into the assignment plan now when disruption is unavoidable. Do it now in order to bring stability and predictability to the entire area now. And, do not change any boundary for area 42 and 43 until TT Minor is ready as a neighborhood school. Letters or emails to the Board and Superintendent supporting the reopening of TT Minor as a neighborhood school will be greatly appreciated.

    • @Joanna- It would be great to have TT Minor up and running. You’re probably right that, due to the geography, the Squire Park community will continue to be sliced and diced into other Elementary Schools (Stevens, McGilvra, Madrona). So what is the District’s position on reopening TT Minor as a neighborhood school? Is there a good alternative location for the World School, which is currently slated to move into that space?

      • Seeing a group of 20+ – YES, TWENTY – elementary students at 21st & Union, waiting for the bus to get to Stevens, is enough to tell me that we need a school in our neighborhood to service these kids! My family loves the Stevens community but it seems ridiculous that there is an elementary school up the street that they could all walk to, and they aren’t.

  3. The Board is at least talking about us. Yesterday the Washington discussion was called Meany boundaries, which seems more to the point, since Washington has current boundaries. Either way it is the same discussion.

    2. Work Session: Growth Boundaries

    Discussion of major issues:
    • T. T. Minor
    • Washington Middle School Boundary

  4. Dear Seattle Schools Board Members,

    Maple Leaf is a solid Northeast Seattle neighborhood with a strong sense of community and neighborhood pride. Our community has very natural geographical boundaries including a western edge at I-t, a northern boundary at Northgate Way, and an eastern boundary at Lake City Way.

    Please reconsider your proposal to send Maple Leaf children to three separate elementary schools, three separate meddle schools, and (likely) three separate high schools including schools on both sides of I-5. We understand the pressures the school district is facing and want to work with you to find a solution that makes sense.

    Cathy Vaux