Seattle Public Schools goes public with revised attendance maps

After the original proposed maps for individual schools’ new “attendance areas” came out a month ago, Seattle Public Schools acknowledged a few errors – including different attendance boundaries for Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth High School, which will share a campus within two years. So a new round of maps is out this afternoon – linked from this page.

For West Seattle, the document explaining changes and “rationale” simply says the maps for West Seattle were changed to “reflect the district’s commitment to support co-location of Denny and Chief Sealth.” The district site also now has a page linking to “walk route” maps for indivdual schools. The revised maps are to be introduced at tomorrow night’s School Board meeting and voted on in two weeks; West Seattle’s board rep Steve Sundquist has a community-conversation meeting this Saturday, 1 pm at High Point Library, where he’ll field questions on this and other district/school issues. There’s also an official public hearing Nov. 9 at district HQ. More on all that and the process overall is in the official district news release, which you can download here.

22 Replies to "Seattle Public Schools goes public with revised attendance maps"

  • LP November 3, 2009 (8:34 pm)

    Wow. Ok. That totally changes the “pathway” for Gatewood Elementary kids. I was excited about Denny International & Chief Sealth! Is this a total surprise, or was there some indication that a major pathway switch was going to occur? I haven’t been paying close enough attention because I wasn’t expecting any boundary changes to impact us. Oh well. I’m not at all upset by the change (I happen to think they are all good schools), I will become excited about Madison & WSH too. Just unexpected!

  • Westerley November 4, 2009 (2:26 am)

    This is an outrageous, regressive boundary proposal. The new boundaries direct higher income, white kids to West Seattle/Madison while the lower income, non-white kids will generally attend Denny & Sealth. What a disservice to our schools!

    Look at the census data for 2000. Not a lot has changed since then:

    Here’s a map presenting data for household income:

    And percentage white:

  • Artnewby November 4, 2009 (7:22 am)

    Excuse me? I live on Gatewood, and my kid likely won’t be able to attend Sealth, less than one mile away? How in the world is this an improvement? How about we split the boundary east-west instead of gerimandering?

  • pdog November 4, 2009 (7:34 am)

    What I can’t figure out is how they decided on the borders for Elementary schools! I thought they where trying to make “neighborhood” schools that kids could walk to?

    We live 1 mile from Sanislo, we are even on the same street as the school. Yet we are assigned Lafayette which is over 3 miles away and we have to deal with at least 3 major streets to get there.

  • Amber November 4, 2009 (8:56 am)

    Ditto @pdog – I live two blocks (one of them a hillclimb) from Sanislo and was looking forward to my kid walking to school. The first version cut off Sanislo boundary at a natural barrier the big hill to the west of Delridge – now the cutoff is Delridge itself and my kid will not be in walking distance to his elementary. Boo!

  • westello November 4, 2009 (9:01 am)

    The explanation on the oddities of being closer to School A and yet being assigned a further away School B is that the City is going to cease funding for crossing guards in Fall 2010. The district wants to figure out how to keep it going but in the meantime tried to make the safest walk zones even if they were further away.

    Did they accomplish that? Only you can say for sure knowing your own neighborhood.

    If you feel strongly, let the Board know while there’s still time.

  • rob November 4, 2009 (9:43 am)

    I would like to know how someone came to the conclusion that kids who live about 5 blocks from Sealth (in Gatewood) need to go to WS which is miles away, yet no similar condition exists with WS. There is no one within a few blocks of that school that is going to have to go to another school much further away.

    To those tasked with figuring this out: I know it is an unwinnable game, because no matter where you draw the lines there will be people upset about it. But, you don’t help your cause when you produce something that seems so obviously drawn to keep poor kids out of the middle and upper class kids’ school, and keep the middle and upper class kids from having to go to the poor kids’ school. I doubt that is anyone’s intention, but you need to understand that most people aren’t going to care what your real intentions are when what you come up with looks this bad.

    Looking at this map (the HS one) makes me feel like someone should truly be ashamed of themselves over this. The schools should be treated as equally as possible. Sometimes the geography is going to make that hard, but you need to do your best. This is not your best. This is just awful.

  • blanktruck November 4, 2009 (10:10 am)

    I am quite happy with the new maps! My kids now do not have to attend the “middle and upper class kid’s school”. Come on, Denny/Sealth is a great program! We are very happy to be assigned there.

  • hope to be in 10% November 4, 2009 (10:49 am)

    We live within walking distance to both Madison and WSHS and are “keeping our fingers crossed” that we’ll be able to get our kids into Sealth with the 10% of open seats during open enrollment and possibly Denny if there is room.

  • rob November 4, 2009 (11:03 am)

    in case it wasn’t obvious, i was being sarcastic in labeling the schools as i did.

  • BA November 4, 2009 (11:03 am)

    I want to second blanktruck. The new maps will mean my child’s school will move from being a Madison feeder to being a Denny feeder and I couldn’t be more pleased. I don’t mean to slight Madison but we are very excited about what’s going on with the Denny program under Principal Clark and the staff. (While I can understand Westerley’s concern about the census data and the current maps, he/she should be aware that there are plenty of folks, white, Hispanic, African-American, affluent, poor, etc. who feel very fortunate that they live within the Denny/Sealth borders). The reality of WS’s school age population and the our current building capacity (i.e. more kids live in the south leaving an excess of capacity in the north) means that one of the traditionally “south cluster” schools needed to be funneled into Madison/WSH so Gatewood, West Seattle Elementary or Sanislo was going to be connected to the more distant Madison/WSH. I completely understand the frustration of Gatewood parents who will be connected to WSH while Sealth is mere blocks away but the same was going to be true for WS Elementary and Sanislo parents as well. No matter how you feel about the new maps and assignment plan, it can’t be denied that the school board faces an incredibly difficult task and it will be impossible to generate a plan that won’t be hard on a good number of folks. Change is very difficult, especially when our kids are impacted.

  • jeunglady November 4, 2009 (11:10 am)

    Still no resolution with grandfathering in younger siblings? That is my biggest concern right now.
    I hope they will allow for that.

  • Westerley November 4, 2009 (1:13 pm)

    Both West Seattle and Sealth are strong schools. I love what is happening with Denny and Sealth.

    The question is: What is best for our community, our schools and our kids well into the future (not just for us today)? It is a boundary that allows both schools to grow from a diverse base that is distributed roughly equally by income, race and other factors. Let’s learn from the past.

  • Slider November 4, 2009 (3:24 pm)

    I live within walking distance of West Seattle and I sent my child to Sealth because it is a much better school academically and the staff is 100% behind the IB program, where as the staff at West Seattle from the principal down doesn’t care about students that need to be challenged academically and feel that the trade school approach to academics is Ok for all students. I’m just hoping that the board grandfathers younger siblings in so my daughter gets the same chance at a great education that my son is getting at Sealth.

  • Lura Ercolano November 4, 2009 (5:25 pm)

    I have been reasonably pleased with both Sealth and West Seattle High School. One daughter graduated from WSHS in 2008, and is now away at University of Michigan. Her education was not trade school. Second daughter selected Sealth because she wanted to study Japanese, which was not offered at WSHS. Both high schools have been mostly good.

    I do wish that some proportion of seats was being set aside for students who are selecting a school based on something like the IB program, or a foreign language that is offered at a single school. The district CAN ensure that every school has quality programs, but they really can’t – nor should they try to – ensure that the exact same set of courses is taught in every school.

    I recognize that any assignment plan will have pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, but switching from choice to no-choice is a major, sweeping change, and I am not confident that the school board has recognized all the positive reasons that some choices were occurring.

  • Slider November 4, 2009 (6:26 pm)

    Lura your daughter had to opportunity to take honors classes from 9th grade on at West Seattle that is not the case anymore. If your student wants or needs honors to be challenged in 9th grade they can’t get it at West Seattle.

  • jsrekd November 4, 2009 (9:31 pm)

    Slider – I hear you loud & clear – our eldest son attends Sealth, is excelling in Japanese & IB…and we really wanted that possibility for our two younger son. (Who are both involved in music as well…nothing for them at WSHS….)

    – and now that won’t happen – unless we make it into the 10%. We are currently in the “walk zone” of Sealth (on Gatewood Hill) and yet will have to travel over double the distance to attend WSHS. Doesn’t make sense.

    When we asked WSHS principal Bivins, what advanced classes they offered, he listed history, math, etc. They weren’t “honors” classes, they were just the most advanced they had….


  • concerned for Madison November 5, 2009 (6:54 am)

    Did you know that Madison cannot run with the two teams per grade level model with the incoming projected number of kids? These boundaries have, in effect, stopped our school from functioning the same. We are currently a “School of Distinction” and are happy to be so. What we do is working. The way we run our programs will drastically change once these new boundaries come into play. Our students will not be exposed to the same kinds of family style teaching if we drop to only 800 kids in our building. We should have around 900-930 to keep our programs in place. Losing 100 or so kids will mean the loss of staff and the breakdown of our teaming structure. It will be a sad day for our students and our staff.

  • ws parent November 5, 2009 (8:32 am)

    To: hope to be in 10% and jsrekd-
    Good luck on the 10% wish to get into Sealth…

    Look at the math of the 10% choice seats being promised. A high school with 1000 seats will set aside 100 choice seats, for all 4 grades. That’s only 25 seats for each incoming class for kids all over the city who want to go to Sealth. Remember that siblings will get first chance at those choice seats, if the sibling priority for high schools is approved. How many seats will really be open?

    Last year there were almost 200 students from the SE & Central district who were attending Sealth (this year it’s closer to 250). From the north end of WS there were 196 going to Sealth last year. Next year, Cleveland will not be an appealing option for many SE students who do not want a narrow math/science focus, and who do not want to go their assigned schools of Rainier Beach & Franklin, for whatever reasons.

    To make the #’s worse, the district’s published “assumptions” are that 5% of both WSHS and Sealth students will sign up for Cleveland’s STEM program. If that dosen’t happen, there will be even less seats available!

    So, get used to it- many north end families who are looking for academically challenging programs & classes are going to have to urge WSHS to work with what the community wants, and offer what is equitable for all high schools. A good start would be honors level classes (not add-on options) for 9th graders, like Sealth already offers, in preparation for the higher level AP classes that colleges are requiring these days.

  • ws parent November 5, 2009 (9:18 am)

    Westerly & others concerned about the change in demographics-
    The district has now put projected demographics on their website. Go to the SAP page, to maps and then to DataBooks for the schools (it’s after the maps).

    Denny’s Asian population will go up 8%, Black & Hispanic almost stay the same, and White down by 5%. Madison’s is almost the opposite, but more dramatic: Asian down by almost 10%, White up by 22%, Black slightly down by 3%, Hispanic down by 8%. Interestingly, F&RL (income levels) don’t change at Denny 65%, but at Madison would go down from 43% to 26%.

    At the high school level, Sealth’s Asian population would go up 6%, Blacks down by 5%, others roughly same. WSHS ‘s Asian would go down by 9%, Black staying almost same, Hispanic down by 5%, and White up by 12-21% (depending if you believe their “assumptions” that 5% of WSHS will voluntarily sign up for Cleveland’s STEM program, or not). F&RL rates both go down- Sealth down by 8% to 56%, WSHS dowm by 11% to 33%.

  • ws parent November 5, 2009 (9:36 am)

    …more surprises on projected demographics

    Sorry, I forgot to include the biggest for last:
    Under the maps section you will find the Assumptions, for projected 2105 enrollment.

    Denny capacity 930, enrollment 930
    Madison capacity 1061, enrollment 661

    Sealth capacity 1183, enrollment 1063
    WSHS capacity 1164, enrollment 756

    At the HS level, they actually break down the Assumptions, showing the estimated # of kids going to other schools (Garfield, Center/Nova, Cleveland’s STEM & other Open Choice seats). I still find it very difficult to believe at 5% of most of the HS area kids citywide will choose to go to Cleveland (did they even poll families about this?)

    The bas news is that Madison & WSHS will take huge hits- with lower enrollment comes less funding! (down 35% from capacity)

  • Lupe.G November 5, 2009 (1:56 pm)

    Sealth has always taken a “hit” in the past and has risen above to create great sought after programs. I am just happy these new maps give our kids in SE West Seattle the opportunity attend these programs and make them even greater.

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