Move kindergarteners to Boren? 5th graders to Madison? New ‘options’ for West Seattle school crowding

How might Seattle Public Schools address crowding issues in the two years before BEX IV-funded projects start coming online (assuming voters approve the levy next year)? During a work session (open to the public to observe but not comment) at 4 pm today, the School Board will look at some ideas from district staff. We have a preview, via the slide deck that will be shown to the board – see it here. It details what the district sees as the trouble spots, and lists some “options,” including, for schools in West Seattle:

*Move Highland Park, Schmitz Park, and/or West Seattle Elementaries’ kindergartens to Boren
*Move Schmitz Park 5th graders to Madison Middle School
*Address Denny IMS crowding by adding portables or “reducing choice”
*Address Chief Sealth IHS crowding by adding portables or “reducing available choice seats”
*Other schools are suggested for possible combinations of portables, repurposing prep space as classrooms, etc.

The presentation also notes: “Since BEX IV planning will require boundary changes, boundary changes for 2013-14 are not recommended.” But it does suggest “(adding) West Seattle Elementary attendance area as the GeoZone for K-5 STEM at Boren.”

31 Replies to "Move kindergarteners to Boren? 5th graders to Madison? New 'options' for West Seattle school crowding"

  • raincity December 5, 2012 (11:41 am)

    They suggested the first two items, 5th graders to Madison and Kindergarteners to a separate facility back in Nov 29, 2011 meeting.
    From my memory the 5th graders to Madison was met with a very strong negative response.
    I would have hoped that some new ideas would be on the table by now.

    • WSB December 5, 2012 (11:50 am)

      Thanks, RC. It has been such a busy news morning that I just wanted to hurry up and get that out, but didn’t get to go back into the archives for the link. We’ll see what the School Board has to say this afternoon. Also, note that this is related to the meeting announced earlier this week for next Tuesday (December 11th) – I will add that info back to this – that’s where people need to go to speak out … TR

  • add December 5, 2012 (12:45 pm)

    “Reducing available choice seats” at Chief Sealth? How can it go below zero? Which appears to have been the number of “choice seats” that were available the past 2 years.

  • RS December 5, 2012 (12:55 pm)

    Kindergarteners from a bunch of unrelated schools to Boren? Are they NUTS? Time to start writing letters…I’m not sending my son to a school far away from home when I can walk to my neighborhood school. Who’s stupid idea was that?

  • Bonnie December 5, 2012 (1:03 pm)

    Sounds like opening STEM didn’t help the overcrowding.

  • confused in WS December 5, 2012 (1:35 pm)

    What are “Choice Seats” at Chief Sealth????

  • Euripides December 5, 2012 (1:35 pm)

    The suggestion not to alter the assignment boundaries because they may need to be altered for BEX IV is also disturbing to me. They clearly made mistakes with the previous boundaries and assignment plan, simply in view of the overcrowding everywhere (not even counting the trauma inflicted on parts of our community), which makes it reasonable to assume they will make mistakes with the next plan as well. And the plan for BEX prioritizes a small but useable school (Schmitz Park) over a school that is barely useable (Arbor Heights) – and only if one stretches the definition of useable.

    I’m seeing more and more reasons to vote NO on BEX. I’m a parent and I have kids in these schools, but I have no reason to think that the District has any idea of what it is doing.

  • Bonnie December 5, 2012 (2:28 pm)

    confused in WS, I am not 100% sure but I am thinking the ‘Choice Seats’ at Chief Sealth and Denny are seats for kids assigned to other schools to choose to go to Chief Sealth or Denny. So if they are assigned to WS and want to go to CS they can put in a choice form and maybe they could get in. I don’t know how many actually got in this year who don’t live in the boundary area. (and btw-I still can’t figure out why the WS boundary area is less than a mile from CS so instead of kids walking they have to take the bus all the way to WS. Just plain dumb in my opinion)

    • WSB December 5, 2012 (2:36 pm)

      Bonnie is correct – though I don’t know how many of those seats (as another commenter wondered) actually exist now – there was a group of students who had been going to Denny who weren’t even allowed into Sealth, which has been officially overcapacity for two years now, as some had warned would happen when the boundaries changed…

  • vote yes on BEX December 5, 2012 (3:37 pm)

    Euripides, Schmitz Park is a usable building, for under 350. The school is at 540 now and climbing, and completely inadequate. And there is no room in any neighboring school to accomodate the growth. If you vote no on BEX it will take AH even longer to get a buiding that is safe, well past 2018 for sure, and no school in the Madison service area will have enough appropriate seats/teaching spaces for teachers/restrooms.

  • Ms. Sparkles December 5, 2012 (3:43 pm)

    RS I think the proposed plan is not to offer kindergarten at Highland Park, Schmitz Park and West Seattle elementary at all (free up the “K” classrooms for other grades)

    From a kids safety standpoint I can see the advantage of having a school of only Kindergartners, but I agree the transportation logistics (and SPS would have to provide transportation to anyone a mile or more away from Boren) would be a nightmare.

  • nighthawk December 5, 2012 (3:43 pm)

    Kindergarten is supposed to be a year of transition . Getting kids used to being in school, getting them used to their home for the next however many years. Makeing them go to one building for kindergarten and then switch in first grade is ridiculous.

  • Chris December 5, 2012 (4:17 pm)

    What I’d like to know is how SPS screwed up their planning so bad that just a few years ago they closed schools, and now we are overcrowded. I don’t have any confidence in them to get it right this time around.

  • Bonnie December 5, 2012 (4:34 pm)

    As much as I dislike either idea I think that sending the 5th graders to Madison would be a better option than sending kindergarteners to Boren.

  • StringCheese December 5, 2012 (6:09 pm)

    STEM *can* reduce overcrowding if the district would follow through on their obligations and ensure that the school has the supplies and materials it needs. (Before anyone goes apes**t, I am talking about the basics that every other school already has).
    With the exception of Schmitz Park (possibly one other), the capacity issues being faced are when there are too many kids to fit into the current number of classrooms but not enough to justify opening another classroom. THIS is PRECISELY the type of situation that choice schools help address ~ by pulling a small number of kids from a variety of different schools.
    “But wait!”, you say, “It’s not pulling kids from the most overcrowded schools!” In this first year, no, it’s not. Would you move your kid from a proven school to an experiment that, at the time of open enrollment, didn’t have any teachers or curriculum? Of course not.
    Would you choose to send your child to a school that is leading the way in the next generation science standards, incorporating relevant technology in the classroom, using Singapore Math, and implementing project based learning instead of an overcrowded, overrun school despite its good track record? YES, I think you might.
    I know a lot of families that were thrilled by the STEM concept but simply weren’t the type of person to jump in the first year.
    Imagine ~ meeting the staff, knowing the curriculum, knowing where the school will land as a permanent site, being able to speak to current families… STEM could absolutely help solve capacity issues. Over the next few years, we could grow (if allowed) to 3 classrooms per grade – that’s 450 students that would otherwise be spilling over at other schools.
    What will NOT help STEM assist in capacity issues is assigning it the WS Elem. geo-zone. It makes no sense and goes counter to all I mentioned above. All WS students should have the same chance of getting a spot at STEM. To do otherwise is counter-productive.

  • Ann December 5, 2012 (6:13 pm)

    I do not understand why Fairmont Park is not being considered for a refence school? It seems lke a good solution to help with capacity issues for Lafayette, Schmitz and West Seattle E. More kindergartners entering Fairmont next year instead of all these kids being farmed out to Boren.

    Kindergarten is a big transition and kindergartners should remain in their designated schools.

    I really don’t understand the logic behind the decisions being made by the SPS district.

  • add December 5, 2012 (6:15 pm)

    Issaquah has a separate building for 9th graders, then they move into the high school. Seems like the bulk of the overcrowding is in the elementary schools, so a similar idea for 5th graders might work?

  • StringCheese December 5, 2012 (6:45 pm)

    Ann, a couple of things. First, Fairmount will not be ready until 2014-15. Second, that would require redrawing boundary lines for the short term and then, again, when the new BEX IV projects come into fruition.
    Hughes would work well as an overflow elementary for Gatewood, WS, and Sanislo. Schmitz Park (original building) would work beautifully geographically for overflow from the north end.
    Fairmount would work well for STEM. Again, allowing STEM to fully realize its potential to truly assist in capacity issues in the short term.

  • 44th Neighbor December 5, 2012 (7:52 pm)

    Over my dead body does my child, who starts kindergarten next year, take a bus to Boren when he can walk to Schmitz Park. I’d hate to start my relationship with the district in an adversarial way, but game on.

  • Slider December 5, 2012 (7:56 pm)

    There were 0 Choice seats at Sealth this year. There will continue to be 0 choice seats at Sealth until the attendence areas are redrawn. As a result the IB program will not be able to continue because it was NEVER intended or designed to be just for the Sealth attendence area it was intended to be a city wide draw. Shame on the board for destroying a great program. R.I.P. IB.

  • Euripides December 5, 2012 (8:09 pm)

    Vote yes,
    How many people do you think AH is usable for (and I’m not an AH parent)? It’s a lot less than 350. Do I think the situation at SP is also deplorable? Absolutely. But this district and board seems to have no idea how to plan and prioritize, and continue to think that parents will just suck it up and accept whatever they offer. They just sell us one emergency after another (vote yes or Arbor Heights doesn’t get fixed until 2025!). I’m sorry, but I won’t do that anymore, because I think getting them to actually pay attention to parents and kids will be better in the long run.

  • WSMama3 December 5, 2012 (8:41 pm)

    Ditto 100% with String Cheese.

    SPS needs to start making reasonable, well thought out long term plans. Will everyone always be happy – no, but at least we could get behind a well reasoned plan.

    Please vote yes on the Levy. I am well aware that SPS is FUBAR. But not giving any money directly impacts kids. Literally every kid in West Seattle.

  • Evergreen December 5, 2012 (9:12 pm)

    Feeling marginalized here. I love our teacher at K5 STEM, but the district has left us underfunded for the basics. How will this impact enrollment next year? It had the potential to be a great school & help solve the overcrowding problem, but with no building to call our own, who would transfer their kid from Schmitz Park? No one. It is obvious that this district lacks vision, leadership, and coordination. Planning is so incredibly short-term. I doubt it’s purely due to incompetence since schools are suffering across the country. Budget cuts may have wounded SPS beyond repair. Wish I could afford a good private school.

  • NT December 5, 2012 (9:59 pm)

    I really think Ann’s point is a good one … FP could be a neighborhood school. The boundaries are set to be redrawn in 2015, and doing it one year earlier to coincide with the opening of FP brings relief at the earliest possible time to all the schools struggling with capacity (not just Schmitz, Lafayette and Alki are about to pop, too), plus it could draw off some of the WS Elem. boom and maybe the geozone for STEM could come off the table? Just ideas …

  • Dano December 5, 2012 (10:10 pm)

    … I’ve said this for years, and I’ll say it again…… West Seattle NEEDS to be it’s own school district. If the community put their efforts into making this a reality, we would be the size of an average school district in this country…. We have the tax base to provide the needed resources. Sadly, this is a long term solution that requires hard work, dedication, and staunch lobbying over several years….. And most people are really only “invested” during the years their kids are in the system.

  • WS parent December 6, 2012 (12:03 am)

    Agree with Dano.
    Shipping Kinders to one school is an awful idea. If a grade level of students should be displaced it should not be kindergartners. I’m so nervous for my kindergartner to start school next year under so many questions about what the schools will look like in the next few years. I have confidence in the WS schools because I know the teachers and staff do the best they can under the circumstances, but I am sad that they have to deal with such circumstances…

  • Robert December 6, 2012 (7:12 am)


  • No on BEX December 6, 2012 (7:24 am)

    Voting no. Neighborhoods should break off into their own district. I don’t trust a thing SPS says or does. And I do have a kid in SPS (unfortunately). Private school costs a lot and moving is also a huge expense.

  • Bonnie December 6, 2012 (8:12 am)

    I don’t trust a thing that SPS does either but I am going to vote yes for the children.

  • Raincity December 6, 2012 (8:30 am)

    Moving SPE 5th graders ( or any elementary schools) to the middle school is very disruptive. This is not a situation where it’s either the kindergarteners or the 5th graders have to be compromised. No to both ideas. The current 4th grade class is 3 classrooms this will make no improvement and negatively impact those children

  • Public School Advocate December 6, 2012 (8:49 am)

    Since Not ALL schools across the district or in West Seattle are overcrowded (overcrowding tends to be isolated to certain schools/neighborhoods). There are schools that could take on more students such as Arbor Heights.
    Here are some REAL SOLUTIONS:
    1) Re-evaluate the grandfathering policies for students (and siblings) not attending their neighborhood school 2) make some boundary adjustments 3) Eliminate the “guarantee” to attend your neighborhood school – if there are too many students in a grade then require some students (via lottery, registration date, etc…) to go to another school with space until space becomes available back at the neighborhood school (this is done in other districts) 4) crack down on families using false addresses to attend certain schools

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