After Seattle Public Schools staff presented a revamped proposal for “capacity management” next year – basically, how to relieve overcrowding – we asked West Seattle’s newly elected school-board representative Marty McLaren for her reaction. She in turn asked if we would publish her call for YOUR thoughts. So here goes. (If you didn’t see our story earlier this week, it’s here, including a link to the presentation made to board members last Wednesday.) You can comment here or contact her directly; the board is scheduled to get a more-or-less-finalized proposal for introduction at its January 4th meeting, and a final vote two weeks later. Her message to you:
I’m very interested in hearing views from West Seattle people about the short term options that the community/school district committee (“FACMAC”) has recommended to alleviate overcrowding at elementary schools in the Denny and Madison Middle School areas.
Background: The short-term solutions offered are intended for the year 2012-13 only. By identifying these options as soon as possible, we pave the way for open enrollment to commence on time in March, 2012. Open enrollment will allow families wanting their children to attend programs outside of their normal assignment area to request those assignments.
These short-term solutions for the coming year are intended to allow time for the district (with community participation) to design mid- and long term plans for program placement and for opening more classroom space to meet our projected rise in number of students.
So far, after extensive brainstorming and soliciting opinions from many members of the community, the district is recommending:
Madison Service Area: Opening the Boren School site and placing an option school there. If that does not draw off sufficient students in the 2012-13 year, the district is proposing to add temporary portables to Gatewood, Lafayette, and Schmitz Park. After consideration, moving 5th graders to Madison was not recommended.
1. Feedback requested: My impression is that, in this event — Boren not drawing enough students to alleviate overcrowding) most parents in each of the elementary schools prefer to add portables, despite the great inconvenience entailed, because they value keeping the community intact. Please let me know if I’ve misunderstood.
Denny Service Area: Similar to the above — Opening the Boren School site and placing an option school there. If that does not draw off sufficient students in the 2012-13 year, the district is proposing to repurpose available classrooms at Arbor Heights and Roxhill, and to add portables to West Seattle Elementary. After consideration, moving kindergartners or 5th graders to Boren was not recommended.
2. Feedback requested: Similar question to 1, above: Is it true that the parent communities of Arbor Heights, Roxhill, and West Seattle favor the district recommendations of repurposing classrooms or adding portables, should opening Boren not relieve overcrowding at their schools?
About the Boren option school proposal: I’ve heard two possibilities mentioned: a) That Boren be a STEM elementary school — that is, with a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics focus, or b) that it become a language immersion program or international school. It could then feed into the Denny Middle School /Sealth High School pathway, as Concord already does. A third option which I’ve recently heard of is STEAM — parents at Hawthorne in SE Seattle are working with staff to create a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.
Here’s what I know about these possibilities:
STEM: I’ve spoken with one highly respected, experienced, and accomplished West Seattle teacher who has expressed great interest in helping to plan such a program.
Language immersion: I have little experience, except that my brief visit at Concord Elementary in the fall impressed me tremendously. There’s an abundance of spirit at Concord, and community engagement is clearly very positive there. At our recent Board work session, some staff members said that it could be difficult to put a language immersion school into place in the short time we will have; others have disputed this.
STEAM: I only know that many Hawthorne parents are very enthusiastic about this idea.
3. Feedback requested: Please let me know what you think of the above possibilities. (Caution: I know it’s tempting to suggest other ideas for 2012-13; I think the time for that is past. However, other ideas are definitely welcome for the mid-term and long-term planning which will commence in earnest in January.)