Tomorrow night, the Seattle School Board‘s scheduled to vote on setting attendance-area maps for schools around the city, as part of the new Student Assignment Plan changing the district’s prevailing philosophy from “choose any school” to “attend your neighborhood school.” Anyone who wants to get the ear of West Seattle’s school-board rep hours before the vote is invited to Steve Sundquist‘s community chat tomorrow morning, 10-11:30 am, at Delridge Library; meantime, the online agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting includes one amendment that will be proposed to the West Seattle maps (current versions of which are linked here):
Make the boundary between the Alki and Lafayette attendance areas be a straight line on 47th Avenue Southwest from Southwest Admiral Way to Southwest Hanford Street, with both sides of 47th Avenue Southwest being in the Lafayette attendance area.
That would straighten out the “notch” in the current map, as shown below, changing the line instead to parallel where the blue and pink zones now are divided:
The three other amendments involve maps in other parts of the city. Other amendments are possible, but would have to be made by board members speaking at the meeting. This afternoon, we have some concrete suggestions proposed by three West Seattleites involved with local schools through the Chief Sealth International Baccalaureate Program and Gatewood Elementary – they’ve sent us an open letter with their suggestions for amendments to the boundaries – read on for the full text:
The IB program is the result of community activism and support. Before the district invested a dime in the program, West Seattle families, both those living North and South, donated over $20,000 to start the training and accreditation process. In fact, only 20% of the donors live in the new district-drawn Denny/Sealth area.
The vision was for peninsula-wide access to the program, and an ongoing commitment to support students with test fee scholarships, to make sure economics do not become a barrier to entrance.
Parents have been active in securing grants, providing PR support, and facilitating IB information sessions at the school over the past 4 years.
For this young program to survive and thrive, it will continue to need a high level of parent participation. The current plan removes Gatewood from the boundary area. They have an active PTA, and active parents who want to participate in the IB opportunity-which will weaken the program, as well as community support for Sealth/Denny.
Another concern is socio-economic diversity. With the new boundary, only Arbor Heights has over 50% students who do not receive free and reduced lunch. Sanislo has 49.5% FRL students-the rest of the schools in the new district have over 50% FRL. This impacts the ability of Denny/Sealth to raise funds – funds which extend opportunities to students throughout both schools-such as support for music programs, sports, and other extracurricular activities required by the IB as part of the Creativity/Service/Arts requirements.
And lastly, proximity. Many families living on Gatewood hill live very close to Sealth, but will be denied access. In fact students living on Thistle, 7 blocks from school-in what would normally be considered the walk zone, don’t have access to Sealth.
We recommend the following:
. Include Gatewood into the Denny/Sealth assignment area
. Expand the number of choice seats at Sealth to 20%
. Institute geographic proximity as a tie-breaker to allow students in the North End of West Seattle preferential access to Sealth.
Molly Seaverns -IB Steering Committee
Katie Hearn Zang -IB Steering Committee
Kay Yano — Gatewood PTA president
Tomorrow night’s school board meeting is at 6 pm, district HQ in SODO.