Assignment-plan transition back before School Board tonight

The draft transition plan for the second year of Seattle Public Schools‘ new Student Assignment Plan comes before the School Board tonight. (If you’re not attending, you can watch it live right now on cable channel 26.) Reviewing the draft plan today, we noticed it does not include a possible change previously discussed to address West Seattle’s challenges – possible “dual feeder” schools to balance out the two major public high schools’ populations. We checked with West Seattle’s school board rep Steve Sundquist, who confirmed that’s not currently under consideration. We asked him about his view of key points of interest for West Seattle families – read on:

On a major matter of interest, Sundquist says: “The capacity issues at the elementary schools in the northern part of West Seattle (Alki, Lafayette, Schmitz Park, and Gatewood) will be analyzed as part of the upcoming capacity review (over the next few weeks).”

Also in north West Seattle, he notes this: “The district has committed to increasing levels of academic rigor at West Seattle High School and Madison Middle School. The precise meaning of that is still being worked out, but will probably include more AP classes at WSHS and perhaps more science, and at Madison, the growth of the Spectrum program introduced there this year. I mention this because it will likely affect the enrollment choices families make under the Assignment Plan.”

Though there’s no plan for the “dual feeders” mentioned earlier, Sundquist does point this out, regarding some possible changes in who goes where: “One thing not yet visible is that students in the Dual Language program at Concord ES will have an automatic pathway on to Denny MS and Chief Sealth HS if they stay in the dual language program at MS and HS. It’s not visible yet because the oldest students in that program at Concord are only at 3rd grade, I believe. I plan to offer two amendments later this week that I will try to get passed on January 19. One will offer current students at Denny an automatic path to Chief Sealth if they wish to follow it, and similar treatment for students at Madison to West Seattle HS. The other is a choice tie-breaker to advantage West Seattle/South Park students in competing for out-of-attendance area slots at Denny, Madison, Chief Sealth, and West Seattle HS.”

There have been some transportation concerns, and Sundquist told us a change may be on the horizon when the board sees the proposed transportation plan on January 19th: “There has been discussion of a new yellow bus service running north/south in West Seattle (perhaps up California Ave SW?) to better serve Madison MS students. I expect to see that in the upcoming transportation service standard (two weeks away).”

Again, the draft transportation plan – which is being introduced tonight, and will come up for a final vote at a future meeting – can be read here.

8 Replies to "Assignment-plan transition back before School Board tonight"

  • (required) January 5, 2011 (9:48 pm)

    “The district has committed to increasing levels of academic rigor at West Seattle High School and Madison Middle School. The precise meaning of that is still being worked out,…”

    Sounds like a lot of bull cloaked in tough talk. West Seattle High and Madison don’t just get better because administration supporters decide to talk tough. The problem is, Seattle Public Schools are really not improving. Sure, the rhetoric sounds good, like the Obama-esque tough talk we all like … but I am waiting for proof of improvement. Do this year’s classes have to wait for these vaunted “increasing levels of academic rigor” or what? Put yourselves in our kids’ shoes — would you want to be in there, in one of these schools that the Seattle Public Schools essentially admit stink and need improvement, but “that is still being worked out”?

    Shame on Maria Goodloe and crew. She’s proven to be a quarter million dollar a year waste of space.

  • Kayo January 6, 2011 (6:07 am)

    So does analyzing the capacity issues of the northern part of West Seattle mean a change to the neighborhood zones? Really would be nice to know if that is the case since we have a kid starting school next fall.

    • WSB January 6, 2011 (8:40 am)

      Kayo – The district has a conference call for reporters in a few hours as a followup and we’re planning to be on it, for questions such as that – TR

  • Carl January 6, 2011 (10:05 am)

    The school district has a lot of data here:

    I encourage everyone to sift through this data and do your own analysis. I’m personally glad the “dual feed” is not a focus. Neither our High Schools nor Middle Schools had a wait list last year…meaning all those that requested to get into those schools got in. Dual Feed would only mean the district would be on the hook for transportation (spending more money) for those children to those schools.

    In early 2008 DeJong, Inc. presented their 10 year projection to the Seattle School Board:

    In reviewing current enrollment data with this projection it is evident that enrollment has improved (in fact we are at a 10 year high) vs their projection that we would have been at an all-time low. This report shaped the assignment plans and the closures of schools. In West Seattle, Alki, Arbor Heights, Gatewood, Lafayette, Schmitz Park*, and West Seattle Elementary are beyond functional capacity. The district’s functional # for Schmitz is incorrect and the principle is working to get it restated. It should be 375 students with current enrollment at 418. Next year Schmitz may receive another portable bringing its portable count to 8, five of which have homeroom classes. Lafayette and Gatewood may also be receiving portables. The numbers point to the need of reopening one of the recently closed schools and remodeling another to add capacity.

    District Archives:

    For all those concerned, reach out to your PTAs and work as a focused group to help improve the situation. If we had the level of parent involvement in the Middle and High Schools as we do in the Elementary Schools, I’m sure the standards would continue to rise. Thanks Steve Sundquist for your advocacy for our section of the district.

    • WSB January 6, 2011 (10:13 am)

      I’m on the media conference call now and the answer to the question above is that there are no proposals currently in play to change West Seattle boundaries for next year, even as part of the aforementioned “capacity review.” But school-board members do still have a few more days to get amendment proposals in for consideration when the final vote comes up Jan. 19th. – TR

  • Melissa Westbrook January 6, 2011 (12:07 pm)

    FYI, the Board will only be accepting amendment ideas through tomorrow, Friday the 7th instead of the previously announced date of Monday the 10th.

    This was confirmed at the meeting (and by Michael DeBell in a follow-up phone call). The change was made at the discretion of Board President Sundquist but Michael didn’t know why.

    If you have issues/concerns that you would like addressed in an amendment, let Board members know by tomorrow.

  • teachermom January 6, 2011 (4:21 pm)

    Parents need to submit the amendments to the plan! The WSN issues need to be addressed now. The proposed “wait and see” strategy will only make your students suffer needlessly. Clearly there are problems. Why the district is unwilling to resolve them is a mystery. Three under enrolled, new programs in the northern region of the district, but we get “wait and see.”

    • WSB January 6, 2011 (4:27 pm)

      I’m writing a separate story here in the next few hours after being in the news conf this morning so if there’s anything anyone cares to bring to our attention directly for that story, feel free to e-mail me at

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