Seattle Schools’ newly approved boundary changes will impact Central District families

At an epic seven-hour meeting Wednesday night, the Seattle School Board voted on several amendments and school boundary changes that will have deep impacts on families with children living in the Central District.

The new boundaries for Stevens, courtesy of the district.

The new boundaries for Stevens, courtesy of the district.

Among the most significant changes is the board’s approval to open The World School, for immigrant children, in the T.T. Minor building. This change comes despite a vocal outcry from Central District families who wanted T.T. Minor to be used as a traditional elementary school. The group cited data that shows almost 500 children living within T.T. Minor’s walk zone and a projected growth to 600 by 2017.

The new boundaries for Madrona K-8, courtesy of the district.

The new boundaries for Madrona K-8, courtesy of the district.

The World School is currently housed in Meany Middle School, which will reopen as a traditional middle school in 2017. Students from Stevens and Lowell would join those from Madrona (K-8), McGilvra, and Montlake in Capitol Hill’s Meany campus when its $14.2 million overhaul is complete in 2017. Currently, students from those schools all feed into Washington Middle School in the Central District.

Several school boundaries also changed, with Stevens Elementary losing its Central District students. Madrona K-8’s boundaries have also shifted.

Seattle Public Schools has a grandfathering policy for elementary school students, who are allowed to stay in their current schools despite the boundaries shift. But students in 5th, 6th, and 7th grade will be forced to attend the middle school dictated by the new boundaries starting next year.

The board also decided Wednesday night to institute an annual process of boundary adjustments. So in theory we could see changes like this every year.

The district has posted a full list of boundary changes for elementary schools with maps to its site. Middle school maps are still pending as of this writing.

12 thoughts on “Seattle Schools’ newly approved boundary changes will impact Central District families

  1. Looks like Steven’s loss is Madrona’s gain. I hope the Squire Park Community and those folks in the Madison/Union/23rd Triangle can get more stability from SPS in the future. I’m sure Madrona will benefit from the new students and from the passion of their parents and community members.

    • Please note that there is no staff analysis for the passage of the amendment that created the new Madrona boundaries. I hope the sheer number of students added aren’t managed by everyone fleeing to private school with all the upheaval.

      • As a lifelong CD resident, former CD student, and parent of now grown CD students, and child of parents who were raised and schooled in the CD, we fled to private schools eventually – over three generations – because our public school options were terrible. TT Minor, MLK, Meany and Madrona had all for many decades been schools with endless problems. Horrible violence (one principalsaid to me, when my kids were stabbed with pencils, slapped, punched, eye glasses broken on the face – “So much worse goes on here”) and even sex on the elementary school busses, awful test scores in the schools themselves, terrible math instruction, the list goes on and on. And both my father (Meany, then GHS) and my husband taught in these schools. Flight to private schools, sending most CD parents in to terrible debt, comes out of desperation for a decent education for our kids. Luckily for me, Nova existed when I was in High School and GHS had massively improved by the time my kids were in HS. The middle and elementary schools though? If you couldn’t fudge the system and get in to McGilvra, Stevens or Washington, you were out of luck for many, many decades. It isn’t the current upheaval that causes flight – it’s an inability to have specific schools address their 50 years of ongoing issues with violence, performance and poor instruction.

  2. Celia,to some degree I agree and cetainly allowing the schools to detriorate is and was a problem. I sent my children to various schools in the CD and they ended up with decent educations, due in part to some the highbly capable programs. I wonder now why the students in the CD do not have access to language immersion and many other programs that exist in other areas. TOPS is a very inaccesible Option. Busing did destablize neighborhood assignments and the constant destablization and upheaval of assignments often does cause flight. Families and community members are never empowered to invest in the schools over time. School are part of the anchor for a neighborhood and provide a place where families get to know each other and learn to work together. For instance in the current round of changes, PTSAs were empowered to organize and represent the interests of their schools, but not necessarily the interests of the the 400 to 500 students who could walk to TT Minor who due to the upheaval have been sliced and diced and dispersed. Remember TT Minor has no PTSA since there is not currently a neighborhood school there. The PTSAs represented either want us gone due to fear of overcrowding or wanted the students to make up for a low enrollment at the schools they represented. Even though a number of these families have contributed to the Stevens PTSA, Stevens PTSA certainly did not advocate for portables for one year so that a more thorough and thoughtful long term plan could be examined. The District has returned to a neighborhood assignment, and these TT Minor area families will for ever be at the fringes of of the other neighborhood boundaries and unable to really invest in a school that will serve them and future students. Fair and equitable treatment along with the development of good programs is absolutely necessary for continuity in advocacy. Only then will sustainable neighborhood schools develop. We can all be a part of the advocacy and solutions if there is a sustainable neighborhood school plan. Constant upheaval does not make that possible. The advocacy for this is not over.

    • Of the students in the TT Minor area, how many over the past decades chose TT Minor as their 1st choice? Not many. Everyone, and I mean everyone, I knew on my block and the surrounding blocks found friends or family to help them by lying about their addresses to get away from TT Minor, and the same happened with Meany. Regardless of all the points you make, if a school (or several, Leschi and Madrona included), have had for decades principals indifferent to violence and failed teaching methods – so parents couldn’t even consider their kids both safe and learning – and a school climate rife with acceptance of these flaws, then the schools themselves become much like penal institutions, where those who have the funds to fight placement and flee do, and those who don’t suffer huge drop out rates later on. (The later drop out rates you should investigate as well.) It’s all fine and good to say “so many kids could walk to TT Minor” but how many actually want to? How many, given the choice, would run as if on fire to McGilvra? The refusal of the schools, their administration, and the PTA’s involved to recognize and aggressively address 50+ years of the SAME OLD PROBLEMS just creates the SAME OLD FLIGHT, regardless of bussing existing or not exisiting. Heck, my mom is 80 this year and even she fled Madrona and Meany, on the charity of the Catholic church because her mother had died. Same old, same old.

  3. I see I typed too fast, did not take time to edit, and left out some commas. Please forgive the earlier typos.

  4. Joanna, It is great that your kids acheived “decent educations.” With an engaged parent like you I would expect so, and yes, we should expect more from so many parents. I don’t intend to solely bash on SPS for the societal and familial problems that impact children. At the same time – I do want to guide us out of allowing programs and anectdotal evididence of success as a pretty wallpapering of a deteriorated SPS structure.

    What so many people are talking about is decades, actually a century, of neglect of broad swaths of society. Sure, in the early 20th century it was perfectly acceptable to ingnore and actively suppress blacks, so, perhaps we can’t call that a failure. Perhas we should say that it is just how things are. We have to accept ourselves for who we are a the moment. Even if that is a bunch of racist dirtbags. But – that was 50+ years ago.

    For the past 50 years we have put some efforts into integration and acting like decent human beings on the surface. Since we didn’t know how to do it right, we just got started. We tried bussing and other stuff. As we should have expected, we had some small success, but, we also broke the system. Administrators lied and cheated to make statistics. They dumbed down the system. They did all but chain kids to the floor to keep the per seat revenue coming in.

    Today we have a 44% drop out rate. As much as we want to believe our kids got a great education – in fact most of them got very poor service for the time they put in.

    Keep in mind – the system has them for 13 years. 13 years (or more). 13 years to build and shape young minds. Imagine what you could do. Now look at the crude, minimal, cruddy education that was actually deliverred, even to the brightest ones. Actually, let’s for a second imagine the brightest kids with the most engaged parents – I expect more than to have read a few Dickens and Shakespear volumes. I expect a few Duggie Howards. But know – even those with the greatest potential are under served by – specaial programs.

    SPS does not have a solid core. They have no business doing all the accessory junk until they can have a core that gets at least 60% to graduate with civic, economic, science, etc skills that they need to build a great city, state, and country. We do not have great schools. We have institutions to hold the average child hostage for funding. To hold those kids mildly protected, un-inspired, and duped into believing they might be prepared for life if they serve their full sentance without complaint or rebelion.

    Also note: I don’t care that I typed to fast, misspelled, left out hyphens or commas, etc. I’m ADHD. I do not believe in the term however. My Attention is directed differently – it is not a deficit in any way. Hyperactive? My ass, everyone else is a bunch of slacker slugs. Disorder? FU! I can make sense of chaos. I can do great things with mud and sticks. It has been hard to find a stable job. But, I finally figured out who I am and how to build my life, to provide value to my community and employers. And I get paid well. And it really pisses me off to have been drugged, shamed, delayed, labelled and put down by the public and the public school system. And I am pissed off and ashamed to see SPS doing it over and over and over to my people. My kind. The folks that make things happen. The ones to dare to take a risk. The ones who do more than they talk. The ones who fight in wars, fight on the street – for justice and equality. The ones who dare to think outside the system of drudgery.

    So let me tell you. SPS has failed for 100 years. You people have labelled and maligned, judged and condemned a million kids. And I’m GD tired of it.

  5. But, a piece of the solution could be granting and evaluating all neighborhoods fairly for accessible walkable schools. If it is thought that this type of access lays a good foundation for all other neighborhoods, why would it not be important for this neighborhood? That can lay a foundation for advocacy.

  6. As far as the plan stands now the middle school students will all attend Washington Middle School until 2017 when Meany opens.

  7. With all due respect to past attendees of Madrona, the principal, administration, teachers and students at Madrona have completely turned over. Unless you think the building itself is cursed, I don’t think experience of twenty years ago has much relevance today.

    If central district parents want quality public schools, we need to engage with the schools that we have now. Madrona’s new boundaries provide a great opportunity for a new, highly motivated group of parents to bring in new ideas and continue to improve our neighborhood school.

  8. carymatt, with all due respect, the idea of neighborhood schools is exactly that. Madrona residents have a walkable neighborhood school, and the families of those around TT Minor deserve the same. 500 to 600 students in the area can walk to TT Minor and about 300 of those students will always need district transportation unless TT Minor reopens as a neighborhood school. Madorona’s boundaries overlap with both Leschi and McGilvra, meaning that students in much of your area have more than one choice of what would be a walkable neighborhood school. Why would you not want us to have a great neighborhood school too?