What to do about crowded West Seattle schools? Meeting ahead

Will Seattle Public Schools reopen schools? Build new ones? Both? Just announced, three community meetings around the city to talk about “capacity management” – including one in West Seattle. From the announcement:

With enrollment trends indicating growth within Seattle Public Schools boundaries, the District implemented a task force of community volunteers and SPS staff, who collected and studied all available data relative to demographics and enrollment. Their work resulted in the decision to create and implement an Intermediate Term Capacity Management plan to cover the period of 2012-2016, prior to building schools as part of the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) program.

That plan will be explained, and your feedback sought, 6:30-8 pm Thursday, October 6th, at Madison Middle School.

26 Replies to "What to do about crowded West Seattle schools? Meeting ahead"

  • skeeter September 27, 2011 (1:52 pm)

    Are schools more crowded because more families are moving to West Seattle? Or are families staying in Seattle instead of moving to the burbs? Or are fewer parents sending kids to private schools? I’m very curious.

  • Huindekmi September 27, 2011 (2:39 pm)

    Skeeter, the quick answer is Yes.

  • Que September 27, 2011 (3:00 pm)

    Skeeter – There were 2 rounds of closures a couple years ago resulting in the Fairmount Park and Cooper closures. This left West Seattle with 2 fewer elementary schools and the school’s demographer said at that time that they foresaw a downward trend in the school age population.

    However, as the recession has continued, more people have the resources to send their kids to private school, and the condos/apartments that were intended for singles and couples have become more attractive as family housing, and thus, there are more kids in West Seattle.

    Also, I think they underestimated how many strollers were in the parks and the kids in preschool at the time of the previous closures.

    At least, that is my read on it… ;-)

  • Public School Advocate September 27, 2011 (3:12 pm)

    Per community meetings I’ve attended with Steve Sundquist, after a 35 year decline in enrollment at SPS the trend is reversing. There is a combination of factors contributing to capacity issues in Seattle, not just West Seattle.

    1. More families choosing to stay in the city
    2. Some families underwater on their home mortgages and no longer able to “trade up”
    3. Private school enrollment holding steady (contrary to many reports that families are pulling their kids out of private school and enrolling in public)
    4. Population growth in the city

  • A September 27, 2011 (3:41 pm)

    Our son’s kindergarten class has 28 (!!)kids in it. That’s ridiculous!!

  • Tony September 27, 2011 (3:41 pm)

    Large influx of immigrants to WS also a contributing factor…..

  • Cheryl September 27, 2011 (5:11 pm)

    A day late, and a dollar short. Thanks SPS for being “on top of this”… oh wait, they weren’t. Idiots.
    All of us who had babies in 2006 have LONG known, and seen coming, what SPS didn’t/couldn’t. A ton of kids entering Kindergarten this year. And there will be a ton more to come. Most of the gals I know who had babies that year have had 2 or 3 more.
    Get with it SPS. You’re asleep at the wheel on another important trend and issue. Again.

  • Findlay September 27, 2011 (5:27 pm)

    Forget overcrowding and get your student to Seattle Lutheran High School! They’ll get a great education in an environment that you and your student will love!!

  • SP parent September 27, 2011 (6:01 pm)

    It is too bad that families representing over 450 effected students at the now overflowing Schmitz Park will be at their child’s open house at the same time! Kind of poor planning.

  • Mom of 2 September 27, 2011 (6:52 pm)

    Re: SP parent — Yeah, Lafayette’s Curriculum night is at that same time. I was actually interested in attending this meeting. Bummer.

  • babieseverywhere September 27, 2011 (7:07 pm)

    Clearly its partly the uptick in births per family – the 3-4 kid thing is coming back as are twins.

  • Krystal September 27, 2011 (7:46 pm)

    babieseverywhere is on to something. The answer seems obvious, there are a lot of people in this world.

    • WSB September 27, 2011 (8:53 pm)

      I am covering the Chief Sealth PTSA meeting right now and Sealth is over capacity, its principal noted = 1247 students as of this evening, capacity technically 1200 (or slightly less). They are getting extra teachers, but have to figure out how to create classrooms for them. Some classes are over 40 students. So it’s not just an elementary-school issue. (We’ll be writing up the PTSA meeting story separately later.) – TR

  • markN September 27, 2011 (8:00 pm)

    My kids are getting an excellent education at Seattle Public Schools. However, the south end of West Seattle still needs a stromg Spectrum program.

  • LincolnPark September 27, 2011 (9:43 pm)

    The knee-jerk school board bashing seems a little misplaced.

    @Cheryl – Are you saying there was a baby boom in 2006? And you know this because you know a lot of people who had babies that year? Were you also able to predict the economic downturn of the last few years that has impacted where people live and where they send their kids to school?

    If the school board representatives are “idiots”, it’s for taking on a full-time, volunteer position overseeing an under-performing school system with rising costs and shrinking funding.

  • Been There September 27, 2011 (10:12 pm)

    Please, please reopen Louisa Boren School as a permanent school for students and staff. No more keeping it standing by for use on an interim basis. Letting it sit there, empty, does not help the North Delridge neighborhood.

  • BMC September 28, 2011 (8:31 am)

    A – which school has so many kindergarteners?

  • BMC September 28, 2011 (8:33 am)

    Is there any SPS data which shows the number of kids per class for us future enrollees?

  • A September 28, 2011 (9:03 am)

    Gatewood. Imagine, if someone moves into the neighborhood then the size will go up. It’s crazy. It’s not good.

  • Cheryl September 28, 2011 (11:49 am)

    @LincolnPark – Yup, I’m sticking to my assessment. Idiots. It’s why I voted against the incumbent/s in the primary, and why I’ll keep voting against them until they’re out. Operating ANY “business” in the red, regardless of the reasons for being in the red, is just bad business. And bad businesses should go out of business IMO, or be bought/run by people who know what they’re doing.
    Frankly, I’m sick of forking over my tax payer dollars so that stupid people can keep running up the tab and spending like there’s no tomorrow. That just doesn’t work for me as a working mom. And it sure as heck isn’t doing my kid any favors either (wrt SPS). I’m more than happy to pay taxes as a property owner, FT worker, community member, etc. I just want my money to be used wisely.
    As for the baby “boom’ of 2006? Well, I’m not sure what was happening in every single state in the US, but I know what happened in Southern CA (where my daughter was born) and here in Seattle (where many of my friends had babies in the same year, and many of whom have had at least 1 more since)… there were lots of babies born. I’m sure the SS Index can confirm the actual numbers, would you like me to go look them up? Or can we just agree to disagree on what a “boom” is, or isn’t?
    Oh wait. I didn’t actually USE the word(s) “baby boom” in my original post. I said tons of babies. Never mind. I shall disregard your snide remarks about my ability to foresee the economic downturn (b/c yes, as a matter of fact, I have seen THAT coming for the better part of 5 years, maybe longer).
    Oh FWIW, MY daughter’s school (Roxhill Elementary) has their Open House the night of the above mentioned meeting too. GREAT planning there SPS / School Board.
    I know we’re not supposed to name call here, but really? How can one not, at the very least, call them idiotic for planning a meeting when so many schools have other events on the same night? Or perhaps that’s exactly why they did it?

  • LincolnPark September 28, 2011 (3:45 pm)

    @Cheryl – I don’t think your logic adds up…
    When a business is ‘in the red’ the owner has the ability to either cut expenses or figure out how to raise revenue (or both). Seattle schools are in the red, so the school board is taking measures to cut expenses – through school closures, program terminations, staff reductions, etc. Those reductions typically make for unhappy parents and are the source of much of the bashing to which I refer.
    Raising revenue doesn’t appear to be an option… especially since the State is planning to reduce funding to the district.
    From what I understand the ‘running up the tab’ you refer to is a result of a number of factors like increased health care costs (not in their control), increased fuel costs (not in their control), pension plan (inherited from previous school boards), and increased school enrollment (predictability of which we can debate – I question whether your personal experience in SoCal and amongst your friends here in Seattle is sufficient evidence to support a claim of idiocy). I am certain there are inefficiencies and misappropriation of funds in the district, but I doubt they add up to much compared to all of the above factors.
    I applaud your passion and your apparent involvement in this important issue. I’m reacting to the ‘throw the bums out’ mentality – first, because I don’t think it fairly applies to the entire school board and second, because I believe continuous turnover will make the problem worse – not better.
    And finally, I really don’t understand why anyone would want this job. From what I understand, they receive a minimal stipend for attending meetings. Otherwise, it’s a full-time volunteer job… and every one of your constituents is angry about something.

  • Neighborly September 28, 2011 (8:46 pm)

    28. Five year olds. In one room. One teacher.
    Walk an hour in those shoes.

  • Westseattlemom September 29, 2011 (2:16 pm)

    I plan to attend the meeting on the 6th. Thank you West Seattle Blog for keeping us informed!! I have a child in Kindergarten at Lafayette and 2 more who will attend there (age 3 and 7mo). I have been very underwelmed by the facilities at Lafayette. I worked as a teacher in CA and have visited many schools. I am surprised that Lafayette only has two traditional Kindergarten classrooms. There are 4 kindergartens this year at Lafayette. We’re among the unlucky; our child is among the 50% in a traditional classrooms designed for children 1st grade and older. The classrooms do not have cubbies, bathrooms, a carpet for carpet time & are so small they don’t have room for imaginary play. What a sad introduction to school.
    Someone mentioned that SPS is in the red. It is true they are in the red for teacher pay and materials. The irony is SPS has lots of $ for facilities. The generous tax-payers passes a school levy 2 years ago; so there is money specifically ear-marked for facilities. The district has been putting it into some schools. Coe in QA was remodeled, as well as other schools in the district. Wonder why they haven’t address West Seattle schools- with a population of 30,000 (adults and children)?!
    The district conveniently planned the meeting on a night most parents from West Seattle schools can’t go. Humm… maybe send one parent to the meeting and the other to curriculum night?

  • LincolnPark September 29, 2011 (4:29 pm)

    Clearly SPS dropped the ball on scheduling of this meeting. They should hear about this, if they haven’t already. Is it too late to reschedule?
    Re: facilities… I just Googled and found an informative site that describes SPS’ ‘Building Excellence’ (http://bex.seattleschools.org/bexoverview.html) program, which dates back to 1995. According to this site, West Seattle has had 7 schools remodeled, renovated or newly constructed under this program. The current ‘Phase III’ (2007-2012) involves renovation or replacement of 7 schools throughout the district. 2 of them are in West Seattle – Denny Middle School and Chief Sealth International, which just moved into new facilities this fall. 2 out of 7 doesn’t seem inequitable for West Seattleites… at least not to me. That said, clearly many more buildings are in need of update too.
    I see from the above-mentioned site that the Building Excellence program is looking for Oversight Committee Volunteers. Seems like a great opportunity for a concerned, involved parent to play a role in facilities upgrade.

  • Mommalinasgrace October 7, 2011 (3:19 pm)

    This is not unusual for SPS the right hand never knows where the left had disappeared to..

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