West Seattle schools: Crowded 1st meeting for K-5 STEM at Boren

That’s only about 2/3 of the overflow crowd that filled the Schmitz Park Elementary cafetorium – and the hallway outside, and even the stage and its stairs – for tonight’s first meeting about K-5 STEM at Boren, the new “option” elementary that Seattle Public Schools plans to open in West Seattle this fall. The district officials who led the meeting, executive director of West Seattle schools Aurora Lora and head of planning and enrollment Dr. Tracy Libros, repeatedly expressed surprise at the turnout. Many questions were asked, many suggestions offered, and additional details emerged. We are heading to HQ, where we will write the full story and also upload video of the entire hour-and-a-half meeting. Lora promised that there will be another meeting soon, “someplace bigger.”

ADDED 11:31 PM: Here’s our video of the entire hour and a half meeting, which began with a short PowerPoint, followed by Q/A:

ADDED 2:57 AM: Now, the key points:

First, one more mention of the crowd. Every seat was full, and more chairs were brought in. People stood against the walls, sat on the stairs to the cafetorium stage, even sat on the floor. From the reactions of Lora and Libros, you might have thought they expected to see about 50; instead, our rough estimate would surpass 300.

We saw kids, we saw teachers, we saw administrators – the only district official who spoke besides Lora and Libros was math/science manager Dan Gallagher (it was explained that while Dr. Catherine Thompson, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, had been spearheading the project, she couldn’t attend because she was at the School Board meeting, which is why, we surmise, West Seattle’s school-board rep Marty McLaren wasn’t there either). Amd of course, there were parents. The format began with a PowerPoint presentation that, as Lora cautioned, was short on facts because much remains to be worked out and also included a Q/A period, a chance for people to make suggestions and voice concerns, a six-minute video about a STEM elementary school in Minnesota, and even a spotlight for two teenagers (one a former Madison Middle School student) who attend Aviation High School in the neighboring Highline Public Schools district.

Information about the new school before the meeting had been sparse – this bare-bones news release, and yesterday’s announcement that an Arizona educator, Dr. Shannon McKinney, had been appointed as principal. (We subsequently interviewed Dr. McKinney by phone; here’s our followup story.) But more did emerge:

*Admission, as previously announced, is by application. If the number of applicants exceeds what they think they an accommodate, there will be a “lottery” to decide who gets in. In subsequent years, tiebreakers also will be siblings and geography, Libros said.

*Meet-and-greet with principal Dr. McKinney is set for March 13 – she officially starts in early April, but will be arriving in the area in mid-March to get settled.

*A “design team,” with parents, teachers, community members, and “business partners,” will be created to shape what the program will be like. Applications will be due by March 2nd; the team will be chosen a week later, and will meet regularly throughout the spring. (We aren’t seeing a link for applications yet but will follow up with the district Thursday.)

*Questions/answers will be posted on the soon-to-debut website for the school.

*There will soon be an online survey for West Seattle residents, to ask what they want to see in the new school.

*An open house to meet teachers and get an update on the program will be scheduled in the spring.

*Boren is still envisioned as a temporary location, though – this was in response to a question – the possibility it could be a permanent location is not necessarily entirely out of the question. “The number of years it’ll stay at Boren will be determined by which (permanent location) school option we go with, and how long that will take,” Lora said. That is in turn tied to the process of deciding what will be in the BEX IV levy package that will go to voters next year.

*The district is hoping to create a STEM pathway between the new elementary, Madison Middle School, and West Seattle High School. Asked why feed into Madison and WSHS, district officials said mostly to balance out enrollment, since Denny/Sealth are both already full, and apparently then some.

From the Q/A:

*How many classes/students do they expect? Looking around the room, Libros quipped, “I think more than we were projecting … We’re going to accommodate as many children as we can.” She said they would not be averse to combining grades if necessary. Lora added that teacher hiring will be done to match early projections but

*Will this school use rigorous Singapore Math (which would be a departure from the district-wide curriculum)? The Design Team will make the decision, said Lora, and if they want it, “we will support that.” She said that decision would have to be made early on, to facilitate teacher training.

*How will teachers be hired? A hiring team with the principal and design-team members will be created, said Lora, and would initially draw from in-district candidates.

*What about class size? “Comparable to what they are throughout the district,” said Libros. That means 26 max for Kindergarten through 3rd, 28 max for 4th and 5th.

*Will there be advanced-learning opportunities (such as the Spectrum program) at the new school? Not determined yet.

*What will the schedule be? Not determined yet, either.

*What’s being done to prepare the Boren building, in its second year of vacancy, ready to reopen? Libros and Lora said the facilities team is working on that right now.

*Is this school’s existence meant to pre-empt improvement of STEM education at all schools? No, promised Gallagher.

Several attendees voiced concern about whether K-5 STEM at Boren could be a diverse school. First, there were the aforementioned Aviation HS students, one of whom assessed the gender ratio at her school as 70 percent male, 20 percent female. (Later in the meeting, a show of hands was requested for who might send girls to the school, and who might send boys; the ratio in the show of hands appeared more like 60-40.) Then, looking around the room at meeting attendees, one woman described the scene as looking “like a Dave Matthews concert.” Also, former School Board candidate Joy Anderson suggested that West Seattle’s sizable Somali-immigrant population might be interested in the school and not getting the word about it, so she advised the district reps to schedule an informational meeting at West Seattle Elementary School in High Point and to be sure to have translators (they responded by calling it a “great idea”). When another attendee asked how a diverse student body would be ensured, Libros said the only real way would be to ensure there’s a diverse applicant pool.

Before the meeting’s closing round of suggestions/comments ended, an attendee announced to the crowd that she wanted to be sure they knew about the DESC homeless-housing project planned about a block away from the south side of the Boren campus, and invited them to attend the February 21st public-comment meeting about it (information here). She brought a stack of informational flyers, but drew a chorus of voices asking “website?” – she mentioned the ongoing coverage on the North Delridge Neighborhood Council website and here on WSB.

What’s next for the school plan? District officials promised lots of info online – including questions/answers from tonight, particularly those they didn’t get to answer in person. We’ll also look for word on another meeting. Open enrollment is less than two weeks away, starting February 27; Dr Libros said those who apply for this during open enrollment will find out on April 16th if they got in.

83 Replies to "West Seattle schools: Crowded 1st meeting for K-5 STEM at Boren"

  • SpeakLoud February 15, 2012 (9:14 pm)

    It is so clear from this meeting that those in the ‘office’ have no idea who we are-what West Seattle is all about-and obviously they do not read the blog, anybody’s grandmother could have told you there was gonna be a huge turnout for this meeting but apparently SPS had no idea of that…….

    BUT this (STEM) could be a REALLY good thing for West Seattle IF they can get the diversity right (and by right I mean balanced-which I understand is out of their control but they have to make a better effort to get a more diverse pool of applicants-which they hinted at being willing to do) and if they can just follow through with a high quality education.

    Quote of the night ‘it looks like a Dave Matthews concert in here’

  • MarcO February 15, 2012 (9:38 pm)

    I walked away with the feeling that I was being sold a house in an unfinished planned community – only there isn’t yet a plan for the rest of the community. Sure, I can get in now before everyone else wants in but I have to live with the construction for a year and I’m not really sure I even like the neighborhood…
    Only this isn’t a house, it’s my kids.

  • a February 15, 2012 (9:52 pm)

    What a waste. We don’t need an option school we need neighborhood schools. This makes me so angry.

  • WSTroll February 15, 2012 (9:54 pm)

    Why would it need to be diverse? Why not just representative of the W Seattle population? It should probably be as diverse as the people in the picture.

  • Annon February 15, 2012 (10:19 pm)

    If you want your children to go to a diverse school – West Seattle Elem has room. Not that I am not for diversity, I just think people like to talk diversity but when faced with actually going to the school “not my kids!” is the refrain.

  • Oliver February 15, 2012 (10:28 pm)

    Shocking. The district was caught off guard by the number of people who showed up. Oh, the irony.

  • Huh? February 15, 2012 (10:33 pm)

    The vacuum I just left sucked out all my enthusiasm. Where are the leaders? Doesn’t anyone have a vision for this school. Wait, wait, wait and see. By the time this thing gets up and running my kids will be in middle school.

  • Athena February 15, 2012 (10:42 pm)

    I agree with many of the comments above. With only a few weeks until open enrollment ends.. .how is a parent to make an informed decision. Why would someone leave their school (especially if happy with it) to take a chance that SPS will get it together to make it work. I LOVE the idea of STEM but not willing to take a chance on my child loosing his slot in a great school. Additionally the comment at the end about the new establishment coming to the neighborhood surrounding Boren doesn’t give me the “warm fuzzy’s” either. I think this is going to be a phenomenal opportunity for West Seattle children- just not great timing for my oldest. Additionally- if we are dealing with overcrowding in ALL the schools in West Seattle why can’t they take a percentage of students from each area to make sure that an equal amount of students are chosen from the north end of West Seattle & South end.

  • AIDM February 15, 2012 (10:57 pm)

    I think this STEM option could be a great thing for West Seattle. But I have to echo SpeakLoud’s comments that SPS is pretty clueless. This is the first time that I have interacted with Aurora Lora and I am very underwhelmed. I actually think that she could be the source of some of the trouble with West Seattle. It pains me to think that all of the great principals and teachers in the area have her for a boss and that she represents West Seattle to the rest of the district. It blew me away that she had essentially not additional information beyond what has already been mentioned in the blog and the SPS website and that she had to defer most questions to the enrollment coordinator.

  • Neighborly February 15, 2012 (11:03 pm)

    Did someone actually say “Why do we need diversity?”???!!!

    So sad to see so little focus on social studies when, clearly, not all kids have socially-conscious parents.

  • Fiver February 15, 2012 (11:24 pm)

    For those of you who weren’t present and are wondering about the diversity discussion at this meeting, I recommend that you watch the video when it is uploaded. I don’t know if it will be shown or if the posted picture captures it, but the crowd was clearly not as diverse as our West Seattle community as Speakloud mentions. Here’s a recap of some points I remember. An attendee made a well-received suggestion that SPS take efforts to make non-English speaking households aware of this new program since the communications and meetings had not included translation so far. It had already been announced that ELL students could attend this school and receive services there, and someone pointed out that the STEM focus could be a great fit for some children with diverse language and cultural backgrounds who excel at math. There was also a desire expressed to prevent an extreme gender imbalance at this school after a student from Highline’s Aviation High School said that school was about 70% male. There was also a suggestion that students from other parts of Seattle could be offered bus services from some West Seattle community centers where before-school care was offered. This could broaden the socioeconomic diversity by allowing students from other parts of the city to attend even if they didn’t have a adult to drive them here for the school start time. Lots of interesting input coming from people talking face to face, not commenting anonymously.

    • WSB February 15, 2012 (11:43 pm)

      Video’s up now. Still finishing the toplines – since I wound up standing for the whole meeting, I could only take quick notes on the iPhone, and am reviewing the key points to make sure the summary doesn’t miss much.
      P.S. To Fiver’s point, because I have a sore spot for the inference that there is something wrong with people commenting online without “real names” (believe me, I see nastier discourse on Facebook, where theoretically you have to have a name and a face, than on sites like ours where we have and enforce rules) – The huge crowd in that room was just as anonymous as commenters here, aside from the fact that being in the same room meant you could generally tell races, genders, age ranges. Nobody prefaced their question or comment with, “Hi, I’m Tracy from Fauntleroy.” I agree that it’s great for people to get together in one place and discuss in real time when possible, but most of those opportunities go underutilized (the other dozen or so community meetings we attend each month, like the Metro open house just blocks from Schmitz Park, overlapping, where I stopped on the way, don’t all together add up to the crowd at SPES tonight). People here are certainly welcome to use their name if they think it will make a difference, but we believe they have the right not to, as did everyone who gathered tonight.- TR

  • Mike February 15, 2012 (11:44 pm)

    “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics” as an ‘option’? Why not just have this in all Seattle schools?

  • HMC Rich February 16, 2012 (12:23 am)

    It seems to me they will be rushing to get the school going. I think they should wait a year and get the curriculum, staff, admissions, and final home of the school worked out without so many unknowns.

    The SPS people tried to sell the school as best as they could but did not have enough information to satisfactorily answer most of the questions. They should have run that video much sooner. It would have helped their cause. Also getting the projector to work properly might have helped more.

    Plus, I think it should start as K-5 and add a year every year until they reach k-8. Who wants to go to a school for one year if you are a fifth grader?

    I hope the new principal doesn’t need very much sleep because she will have her hands full.

    I have to say, I find nothing wrong with 70 to 30 male vs female ratio or if it was reversed. I would hope that it would be closer to 50/50 but I really do not see a problem. I do hope there is diversity and frankly expect it.

    Yes the former Cooper students were robbed by the Seattle Public School administration, but this isn’t Cooper. In fact it isn’t anything yet. Time will tell, but I think they are rushing into it and I don’t know if that first year is one I want my son attending.

  • Brontosaurus February 16, 2012 (1:03 am)

    @Oliver I enjoyed that irony too :-)

    Tonight’s meeting was so crowded, I’m sure we were breaking fire codes by having all those people stuffed in there.

    I came away both excited about the prospect of the new school, and also concerned that the district is trying to pull this all together at the last minute. I’m not sure that I want to risk my kid’s education by applying to this school.

  • ferryboat February 16, 2012 (6:53 am)

    Without watching the entire posted video can anyone tell me if there was any discussion on the specialists that students would see throughout their week? For example, music, PE, library, art, etc. I would hope that even though it is a focused STEM school that they would want to still have well rounded students.

    • WSB February 16, 2012 (7:36 am)

      Ferryboat – Yes, they promised it would be a well-rounded curriculum. Not JUST science/tech/etc. They still have to meet all the other requirements.

  • Fiver February 16, 2012 (7:12 am)

    Sorry TR. Nothing wrong with anonymous commenting…I’m doing that here too. Just want to note the contrast between the negative comments that quickly appeared here with the tone of the meeting, the (more inclusive) ideas and concerns voiced there, and some of the pre and post discussions among attendees. Thank you for bringing the unbiased coverage to those who couldn’t attend and providing us a moderated place to discuss the good and the bad.

  • ghar72 February 16, 2012 (8:31 am)

    Ferryboat and TR, I took away from the meeting that visual arts wouldn’t necessarily be in place the first year. The question of PE/music/art didn’t specifically come up. All I heard was about art and Aurora made it sound like it depended on the number of students who enrolled. Something along the lines of if there are more students there will therefore be more teachers and therefore more money for visual arts. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what visual arts are? She also said numerous times that the design team would basically be making up the curriculum. I would assume that means they can’t just keep out PE/music/art, but…
    Our oldest won’t be in K until 2013 and boy am I happy we don’t have to make the school decision this year. It’s a whole lot of “we don’t know yet.” And you’ll have to make the decision of whether to enroll before they know.
    I do want to clarify one thing in your summary, Tracy. You wrote that admission is by application. There was a lot of confusion about how wait lists/school selection/etc works. There are no special requirements to get in to the STEM program. You would just put it down as your first choice during open enrollment. Like I said, I’m new to SPS, so “application” to me means there’s a more rigorous process to getting accepted. To those SPS veteran parents, it probably means something different. So just wanted to clarify for others new to to it all. They did talk about tiebreakers and that siblings are number one tiebreaker followed by geography. They said this first year would not have any tiebreakers and there was a lot of rumbling in the crowd about why geography couldn’t be a tiebreaker this year since one goal of the school is to alleviate overcrowding in WS. This was never answered, but maybe if enough call Marty McLaren and discuss it, it could happen. Like mentioned earlier, they were not expecting this turnout and/or interest in the STEM program. My takeaway is that b/c they weren’t expecting such a big interest, they wouldn’t need to use a geography tiebreaker, that there would be plenty of room for all who want to attend.
    I have to say though, this was my first interaction with SPS and walking into that school at 7 to see the line wrapped around to just get into the auditorium, it pissed me off. It speaks volumes towards disconnectedness in the community. Why do they not plan for more rather than less? And why would you plan the informational meeting on a night when the person spearheading the project can’t attend? That makes absolutely no sense. She (Dr Catherine Thompson) should have been there and so should have Marty McLaren. They should have scheduled on a night when the school board wasn’t meeting.
    Last comment…Aurora said that she has experience starting up a STEM school in another state. She said she wouldn’t be on the design team but would be willing to come to the meetings to lend her input. Why in the world would she NOT be on the design team??? Are there others in the SPS we don’t know about that have experience starting a STEM program? Wouldn’t you want someone involved that’s done this before and might know what works and doesn’t? She did say though that if you aren’t on the design team, you can still go to their meetings and observe. I did appreciate that and what seems to be some transparency.
    Edit to add: I did come away from the meeting with some excitement about the STEM program. It could be a very exciting school. I’m just so glad we have a year to see how it shakes out. It’s one of those things that could go either way and do you want your kid to be the guinea pig? The experiment could be for many years so…

    • WSB February 16, 2012 (8:55 am)

      Ghar – the word PE went by somewhere. Your point about clarifying “by application” is a good one, so I’ll add something like “requesting assignment,” which is what it basically means. Re: the design team – obviously we haven’t had one out here actually creating a school program from scratch, but I covered the ones that were part of the Denny/Sealth project (which had three parts – renovate Sealth, build a new Denny, demolish old Denny and create athletic fields/park-like space), and they didn’t have the executive director of schools position in district structure at the time, so there was no one comparable participating, but there were high-level district officials involved – Don Gillmore, who at the time managed the BEX program (Denny/Sealth was funded by BEX III), led the “former Denny site design team” meetings. Since the design team seems to be the next big step, I’m asking the district today for more specifics on how to apply, who will coordinate it if not Lora, etc. – TR

  • Lola P February 16, 2012 (8:33 am)

    I couldn’t make last night’s meeting, and am heartsick at the comments above. Technology Access Foundation (TAF… http://www.techaccess.org) is located right here in Seattle and has been working with students from Seattle, White Center and Federal Way for over 15 years. TAF Academy is a 6-12 grade partnership with Federal Way School District and has been successfully up and running for three years. In fact, a new TAF Academy, in partnership with the Renton School Dist. is slated to open next fall. TAF has been trying to partner with Seattle School Dist for at least seven years, but the district won’t meet TAF’s criteria for a partnership, particularly the responsibility for community engagement and the commitment to providing teachers who are willing to be held accountable for their outcomes. Wanna see how a successful STEM program works, contact Lisa Johnson (lisaj@techaccess.org) for a tour of TAF Academy in Federal Way. Tell her Lola sent you. Full disclosure: I served as a classroom volunteer, then Board Member, then Board Chair for TAF.

  • Optimistic February 16, 2012 (8:44 am)

    The Design Team that the district spoke of will play an instrumental part in the success of this school. The team will be made up of administration, teachers, community members and interested parents. If the true spirit of this team is focused on a collaborative approach in building a successful curriculum and school the sky is the limit. I was at the meeting and I too am surprised at the comments that Aurora Lora made about not expecting that crowd. How could they underestimate our interest in having our kids attend a school that is not bursting at the seams. The capacity issue needs to be addressed. From the their comments it would appear that anyone who wants in the first year will be accommodated. What if that is 3, 2nd grade classes? With no clear pathway for middle school this plan is short sighted at best. I would like to hear more talk around the future for the kids that will attend this year and next.
    Credibility – good leaders earn it and good leaders use it to influence action and build strong teams. SPS has a credibility problem. They have none. The underlying tone and spirit of the group last night was distrust and skepticism. I wish SPS would truly listen to the questions being asked, truly understand who we are and what we want for our kids. Our kids deserve greatness. Being collaborative and listening to each other is are pathway to that greatness.
    The Design Team for this school is key. Get in on the ground floor, build credibility and influence change.

  • ghar72 February 16, 2012 (8:50 am)

    Lola, One person asked about whether the district would be doing a nationwide search for STEM certified teachers. District reps didn’t seem to know what she was talking about. Community member then went on to ask if the teachers hired would get STEM certification. They wrote that question down to be answered on the website.
    And another comment about art. A community member asked if the program might consider being STEAM (A stands for art) instead. Aurora said no plans but something design team could discuss. Here’s a link to a site discussing that I found in another forum: http://steam-notstem.com/

  • kayo February 16, 2012 (9:09 am)

    I was at the meeting and was amazed by the size of the crowd. I am very intrigued by this school, however a couple of things are making me think twice. One is the fact that you have to take a giant leap of faith and will lose your seat at your neighborhood school if you get into the stem school. That is a big risk, especially with another round of boundary changes looming on the horizon that will very likely impact my family. I wish the district would come up with and commit to a long range plan for dealing with capacity issues as that would greatly help families like mine in making this decision. I know the potential for boundary changes affecting younger siblings is an issue for a lot of families. In addition, as the parent of a girl, the gender imbalance definitely concerns me. Girls are great at science and math, but I want to make sure her voice is not drowned out by louder voices (this is a concern at any school for us). I also think the district should consider keeping this school at the Boren site. It is a great location for science based inquiry with some amazing scientific exploration opportunities just a short walk away. It would be great for the Delridge community to have a school at this site and a huge source of pride for us. Knowing there was a geozone used in a tiebreaker for sibling enrollment would also provide us with encouragement to move our older child. One of my biggest sources of excitement about stem was stated so well by the kids from Aviation High. This could be a place where it is cool to do science and math and love for inquiry and exploration is truly nurtured. Having a dire lack of all things science in my own early education (and despite that becoming a scientist), I can only imagine that if this is done right, it could really be great for the kids who attend.

    Oh and that video about the school in Minnesota made me want to move there. I wanted to go to that school. They should have shown that first and had the technical glitches ironed out!

  • SpEd mom February 16, 2012 (9:26 am)

    Take it from me, it is common knowledge that some option schools think it is an “option” to teach children with special needs, many of them cognitively normal or, in fact, highly-intelligent. It is not an option, it is federal law and a civil right.

    • WSB February 16, 2012 (9:41 am)

      For those interested in applying to be on the design team, the form is at the very bottom of this page:
      District spokesperson Lesley Rogers pointed me there in response to my queries this morning. She also says K5STEM@seattleschools.org is the e-mail address where you can send questions, though they aren’t guaranteeing a personal response to every question, but they do intend to include Q/A in an “FAQ” section online. No date for that next, promised informational meeting set as of this hour but we’ll keep checking – TR

  • parent February 16, 2012 (9:57 am)

    what about enVision math?

  • WSParent February 16, 2012 (10:04 am)

    One question from last night that was NOT answered: how does this STEM program differ/compare from a Spectrum program. Yes, I know “spectrum is for kids a grade or two ahead” but what I want to know is, do they compare on a ‘challenge’ level? If STEM schools are more of a challenge than the ‘general education’ found at SPS schools, perhaps Spectrum parents should be made aware of this.

  • Huindekmi February 16, 2012 (10:07 am)

    Perhaps what the district should take away from this heavily attended meeting is that EVERY school should be teaching a more rigorous science and math curriculum.

  • SpEd mom February 16, 2012 (10:39 am)

    Right on Huindemi! WSParen, a popular model for STEM is “project-based learning”. From another thread, the new principal was supposedly pushing this at her last school where some scores dropped 50%. If you want your child experimented on, by all means have them in a “project-based learning” environment in the 2nd grade. There are many expert studies that question its effectiveness.

  • Cori February 16, 2012 (11:32 am)

    Regarding the comments about Aurora Lora: Having spent much of last year working closely with her I can say that you should not base your judgement on one meeting. She is the best thing that has happened to the less functional schools in West Seattle in the 10 years I’ve had kids in SPS. She has high expectations of the principals she supervises as well as great communication skills to bring about improvement. And she does not have any control over enrollment.

  • Lucian February 16, 2012 (11:46 am)

    Applications to be a member of the design team are at:


    (which in small-url form is http://bit.ly/K5STEMdesignteam ) The FAQ is up at http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=1464392e4d3debe013da1824556fc054&pageid=261258 or http://bit.ly/K5STEM )

    I was at the meeting as well, and was pleased that my two main concerns (‘should we really hyper-focus on tech?’ and ‘how can we get diversity in race and gender?’) were shared by many parents there. If enough of us have enough free time to be on the team, I think we’ll get a good program out of it.

    Also, I want to share a story from the book Freakonomics. They studied high school selection in Chicago, where every student is assigned to a HS, but you can enter a lottery to be assigned to the HS of your choice. So you have three groups of students: those that didn’t enter the lottery, those that entered and got to go where they wanted, and those that entered and had to go their assigned HS. They studied the outcomes of the students in all three groups in terms of their success in college.

    As you might expect, the group that won their lotteries did better in college as a group. The group that never entered the lottery at all did worse. And the group that entered and didn’t win? Did just as well as the group that entered and won.

    The moral is: if you care enough to worry about it, your kid is going to do well. I’m excited about sending my to-be-2nd-grader to this school if only because *all* the parents there will have cared enough to make an explicit choice. The STEM part of it almost doesn’t matter.

  • I Heart WS February 16, 2012 (11:46 am)

    I am shocked at all of the comments like: “unplanned”, “unfinished”, “trying to pull together at last minute”, “short time to get it together to make it work”, etc. I assume that those of you who post have been actively following the capacity management issues and therefore, you should know SPS just came to a decision about opening a STEM school to address, in part, capacity issues only a couple weeks ago!The decision to open a STEM school was based upon feedback from the community, faculty and administrators. I attended capacity mgmt meetings, participated in surveys sent to me from SPS and followed along about the pros and cons of the various options presented to remedy our overcrowded schools for the short term. Ultimately, the STEM school and addition of portables to existing schools was the decision based upon the COMMUNITY feedback. We should not be shocked by the fact that the school only has through the summer to get up and running. Within two weeks of the STEM decision, SPS hired a principal and has a plan to put together teams to design how they want the school structured. There is a vision: it is STEM. Of course a meeting this soon after the decision would not have many answers. Also, I’m not so sure that it’s an “experiment” — I mean they are hiring trained, certified teachers and an experienced principal. If anything, maybe the STEM portion is not fully composed, but if nothing else, I’d like to believe the students will be learning and will have a curriculum much like they do at Lafayette, Schmitz Park, Gatewood, etc. It can’t be that hard – they just need decicated staff and classrooms — right? (I know I’m opening myself up for some comments here) We (WS fams)wanted another school to alleviate overcrowding. We got one – now let’s do what we can to support it. Believe me, I’m no huge supporter of SPS either — they’ve certainly made mistakes, I just gotta think that all of the nay-saying negativity (valid or not) can’t help.

  • WSParent February 16, 2012 (12:06 pm)

    I heart WS – I agree with you! Yes, I may want my kids “experimented” with – project based learning has it’s advantages! I wish I had it growing up instead of being herded to a classroom to sit at the desk ALL day long “learning” with no activity/hands on.

    I liked one mans comment last night. He basically said look, this is NOT a school for everyone. This is not supposed to be a school for everyone, it’s focus is STEM. If your child doesn’t have an interest it a heavy STEM study program, why would you send them there?

    I am frustrated at the negative comments about the principle. Do your research online.

    I am frustrated with people trying to make this school what it’s not supposed to be. Some people will look for anything to grip about.

    This is public education. It’s not going to be any worse than where your kid(s) are now, but hopefully it will be better. If that’s not good enough for you then perhaps parents should look at Lakeside or Bush and go the private school route.

  • Charlie Mas February 16, 2012 (12:18 pm)

    I agree with I Heart WS. This represents some really excellent responsiveness by the school district. They are moving to open this school just as fast as they can.

    Yes, the district created a lot of the problems they are now trying to solve, but please make the distinction: it was the previous leadership that created the problems and it is the current leadership that is solving them.

    As for the questions that have not yet been answered, that’s not a problem; that’s a benefit. This is what it looks like when the district allows the community to participate in the decisions and design. If they came to you with all of the answers that only means that you didn’t get to help decide what those answers would be.

  • WSParent February 16, 2012 (12:38 pm)

    I’d like to inject that to me ALL public school education is an ‘experiment’. Look at the different math programs being taught in WS alone. Who your teacher is. The school. Where the school is located. The building condition. Who the childs friends are.


    We all have one common goal – to make the best choices we can for our children – whom are all different!

  • pattilea February 16, 2012 (12:51 pm)

    Dear Ms. Thompson,

    My husband and I attended last nights meeting for the STEM school. We left feeling as uninformed as we were upon arriving.

    There was a much larger crowd than anticipated.The auditorium was jammed, the halls were filled around the doors to the auditorium, and people were outside listening thru the opened windows.

    This was crazy but still there is a great interest in the school without many answers from the district.

    I just don’t know how I could blindly send my kindergartener to this school although it sounds great………….but? Who are the teachers? What is the curriculum?

    Last evening many questions were asked but and over and over, the moderators answered by saying the question would be referred to the design team. They often said they are working on this or working on that. Nothing concrete was presented. (Why wasn’t the design team at the meeting.)

    I believe that, based on the excitement, there could be an awesome school in the making. Is the district rushing to make this happen for the 2012-2013 school year? What about making concrete plans and putting all the pieces of the puzzle into place before offering a school that has such a vision?

    When will the Principal be walking in to her office? Does she already have a plan for the school? If not, when will she have a plan? We should know her plan before choosing the new program.

    I feel that the parents are being asked to choose blindly by March 9 and all that is being offered is a great concept.

    We love the idea of the STEM school, just like we love the idea of tax reform or of better health care or more parks. But we want to make an informed decision about our children’s future. And the district is asking us to make our choices on a fuzzy concept. We need better information to make our decisions by March 9th.

    We want concrete information about the program and its curriculum . We also would like another meeting, in a sufficiently large venue, for the presentation of that more concrete information before the March 9th deadline. If these requests can not be met, we request such a meeting be held as soon as possible and the the deadline be moved to a date after the requested meeting.

    We’re flying blind and need help for the district.

    • WSB February 16, 2012 (1:05 pm)

      Pattilea – If you were in the overflow crowd then you may have missed some of this, but a couple of answers are in our story above. The design team wasn’t there because it has not been formed yet. Unlike say an architectural project where there is a “design team” made up of various people paid to work on the project, school district “design teams” are made up of community members as well as district employees. I’ve covered a few of these processes and expect to cover this one, and it’s interesting, to say the least. We have links earlier in this thread that will point you to the application form, if you’re interested in being part of it. As for when the new principal walks into her office: April 9th. A meet-and-greet is scheduled March 13th. The backstory on why this is “rushing” for 2012-2013 is because it emerged from the “capacity management” process in hopes of drawing off some students from overcrowded West Seattle elementaries, though the district also acknowledged they didn’t expect that to make a significant dent in year one. Otherwise – your note and others like it may bring new information when you get answers, so please let us know if/when you hear back – we have inquiries out too regarding when another meeting will be held, etc. – TR

  • ghar72 February 16, 2012 (12:56 pm)

    “Experiment” wasn’t the correct word choice. I suppose “work the kinks out” would be more accurate. I think experiment came across as negative and I don’t feel that about the STEM school. I agree that the potential for it is great. And Charlie, yes! I think it’s super exciting for the design team and oh the possibilities! But some can’t dismiss the unknown. If your child is in a great school, to give that up for a school that has a curriculum yet to be determined, that’s a big leap. And if you feel you’ve been burned by SPS in the past, an even bigger leap. It’s got to be hard for people to put aside issues they’ve had with the district in the past. I could feel that from some in the meeting last night.

  • Jiggers February 16, 2012 (1:09 pm)

    I should have one of my hotdog/espresso stands ready to go at the next meeting…lol

  • Cheryl February 16, 2012 (1:11 pm)

    You know what’s surprising to me? That SPS was “surprised” by the turnout. Really? Haven’t they been listening to us at all? .

  • pattilea February 16, 2012 (1:26 pm)

    Thank you WSB. I “was” unable to hear everything, from my hallway viewpoint! I just reviewed the video meeting.

  • kayo February 16, 2012 (1:27 pm)

    I second pattilea. If there was a little more time and a little more information we would probably go for it. I am just nervous about losing our seat at our attendance school and then if boundaries shift being stuck if things don’t work out. They moved the enrollment process up a few weeks this year and everything feels very rush rush. Not a good feeling when you are taking about school for your kids!

  • GreatSoFar February 16, 2012 (1:46 pm)

    “I wish the district would come up with and commit to a long range plan for dealing with capacity issues as that would greatly help families like mine in making this decision. I know the potential for boundary changes affecting younger siblings is an issue for a lot of families.”

    I view the fact that, rather than do the above, higher ups and a group of mostly Schmitz Park parents, drove this thing. When will those in the ed reform community, who profess to bring private business smarts into the equation, start using those smarts for long-range planning (even if it’s to have enough seats for parents at a meeting!)?

  • SpEd mom February 16, 2012 (1:55 pm)

    “Ultimately, the STEM school and addition of portables to existing schools was the decision based upon the COMMUNITY feedback.”

    That is not what I have heard, observed and read from the public record. There was a vocal group of parents and a (to be expected) push from downtown admin and business interests to push this experiment to K-5 in our district, in our neighborhood. Was this really the best investment in time and energy, given the very real capacity issues we face?

  • Another WS Mom February 16, 2012 (1:57 pm)

    Can anyone comment on the process to obtain a waiver to even teach Singapore Math? I have heard that it is no easy task.

  • wsmom February 16, 2012 (2:38 pm)

    Are any of the West Seattle elementary schools truly working with a clear vision that is predictable, well designed, and consistent across curriculum and grade level? It seems to me that our schools are all in a period of transition due to overcrowding, new principals, or new boundaries. For most school communities many of these changes are out of the parents control and the school or district provide few opportunities for the community to be involved and truly make changes.

    If you are unhappy with your current school, here is your chance to get on board at a school that is inviting you to participate in school decisions concerning curriculum and “vision”. This school will be what YOU make it.

    If you are new to the district with an incoming kindergartener, it may be possible that the only difference between STEM and your neighborhood school is that STEM’s transition during this difficult time for our community will be transparent. What do you really know about your neighborhood school? What is it’s vision? How is the curriculum consistent across grade levels? What ideals do the teachers, administrators and families share that help to support educational goals?

    At least at STEM you know you are getting teachers who are all on board working towards a common curriculum goal- likely they will be teachers who are passionate about this approach to teaching and learning. They will need to work hard to prove themselves and this concept. I find that intriguing and very refreshing. While I agree that we all need more information and possibly an extended enrollment period in which we can decide if this school is right for our families or not, this may be a better or at least more promising educational opportunity than some of the neighborhood schools we may be deferring to, or reluctant to leave.

  • MaryCooks February 16, 2012 (2:39 pm)

    This is literally across the street from me (and my neighborhood is as safe as anywhere in WS thank you very much). Since it’s an option school, my kid probably wouldn’t be automatically assigned to it. It looks like a great idea but I think I’ll keep her at Concord, which she adores.

    I echo other sentiments of wanting more math, science, etc. in ALL Seattle Public Schools.

  • Athena February 16, 2012 (2:40 pm)

    I agree Kayo.. I think most everyone supports the idea of a STEM school and we understand that this is OUR decision based on feedback given at the capacity meetings. It is just scary to think that a decision needs to be made now by parents before we are fully informed. I know capacity issues need to be addressed asap, I just want to see the STEM school succeed. Parents are just wanting a little reassurance before giving up their slots in current neighborhood school. (especially since there is a possibility that new boundary lines could be drawn)

  • StringCheese February 16, 2012 (3:02 pm)

    You don’t have to sign up at open enrollment. If you want to know more, you can wait as late as September to request a seat at the school. They even stated that if they got more requests later on, they would still be open to adding additional classrooms. This is less than ideal from a planning standpoint for the district but it does give a bit of wiggle room for families who want to wait to talk to the principal, see what teachers sign up, and follow the direction of the design team when it is assigned. The downside, you are not guaranteed a spot (which is nearly guaranteed during open enrollment) but at least you will be making the decision with open eyes. If it’s already full, well, then you’re no worse off than you were before. Just a thought…

  • WS pre-K Mom February 16, 2012 (3:52 pm)

    FYI – If anyone is concerned about the development of the DESC homeless shelter near the Boren site, they should view their website. The website states it will provide “66 units of affordable housing with supportive services for homeless men and women living with serious mental/addictive illnesses or other disabling conditions.” The address will be at 5434-5444 Delridge Avenue SW (the Boren site is at 5950 Delridge Way SW – less than a 1/2 mile away).

    The public comment period on the DESC has been extended to MARCH 1, 2012.

    DESC website:

    Public comment page:

  • WSMOM February 16, 2012 (3:54 pm)

    I am confused about the aprehension regarding the teachers. They aren’t hiring aliens from outer space – they are pulling teachers from the district or elsewhere. Maybe even teachers at current “neighborhood schools”… *gasp*

  • StringCheese February 16, 2012 (4:41 pm)

    Why the sarcasm WSMOM? I haven’t sensed any apprehension on this comment stream, just curiosity. I know that when my daughter entered school, I went and met the teachers. You want to see and talk to the people who will be working with your child 6 hours a day. Do you not ask parents from other grades about the teachers your child might have the next year? Do you not have opinions as to which teaching style might be better suited to your child’s learning style? Why wouldn’t parents want to know who the teachers are? Better yet, why wouldn’t you?

  • I Heart WS February 16, 2012 (4:45 pm)

    @ SpEd mom: I’m not sure what you heard, observed or read from the “public record”, but the decision to open a STEM school and add portables as a short term solution to capacity management was in part based upon community input. What was the purpose of the surveys and community meetings then? I’ve spoken to a number of families who supported the STEM option as a means to address the capacity problem. I am fully aware that not all people (it seems, yourself uncluded) do not support the idea as a way to solve it. However, short of finding millions of extra $$ in someone’s pocket to open or refurbish new schools, bussing kids to outside reference areas or redrawing boundary lines — STEM at Boren is a better option to invest time & energy for a short term solution in my opinion– oh yeah and I guess apparently according to a stranding-room-only-crammed-full-of-people-at-last-night’s-meeting’s opinion, too.

  • JH February 16, 2012 (4:55 pm)

    Is there before and after care at this school?

  • 1st/5th grade Parent February 16, 2012 (5:34 pm)

    I don’t remember the numbers specifically, but I seem to remember that when new schools have been reopened in the North end of Seattle, it has taken a couple of years for the new school to reach full enrollment. I don’t know if this will hold true for our new STEM school or not, but if it does, it could mean that our children would have the potential of having a better teacher:student ratio than at their current neighborhood school. I think if the idea of a science/math focus sounds appealing to you than you should jump on it. From my experience in Seattle public schools (both my own personal experience and that of my children) the classroom teacher makes the biggest impact on the education and experience for your student. My 5th grader has been at the same school for 6 years. Some years have been outstanding and others have been just ho-hum. Love the school as a whole, but it really comes down to who the teacher is for the current year. I don’t see not having all the information upfront as a deterrant from enrolling to the STEM school. Sure it might be a “gamble” but I think it’s a good bet that it will turn out great. Honestly, if I had an incoming kindergartener, I don’t know that I would be excited about going to one of the overcrowded neighborhood schools. And this will sound crazy, I’m sure, but 1 school year is not going to make or break your child’s education. For those that are waiting to see how the STEM school shapes up before making a decision. The way I see it is that we have an opportunity to help create this new school, to shape what it will be. Be part of the change you wish to see.

  • Cindertang February 16, 2012 (6:16 pm)

    WS pre-K Mom actually the homeless shelter will be one city block from the north end of the school. Right across the street from the super 24 store.Good luck to them.

  • undecided February 16, 2012 (6:24 pm)

    good pts 1st/5th grade parent!

  • Theo February 16, 2012 (7:56 pm)

    How about more Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in ALL West Seattle Elementary Schools?! As well as in all Seattle Public Schools?

    This feels like a ploy to address overcrowding by attempting to make the course work appealing. I’d like my child to receive STEM where he’s currently attending.

  • SpEd mom February 16, 2012 (9:00 pm)

    I heart WS, if you look closely at the written record, NO ONE seems to want to take responsibility of pushing STEM, yet it is ascribed to “the community”. If you talk to various staffers and district officials, there was considerable backroom negotiation. What was the point of the surveys and community input? To give the illusion that we actually have a say.

    The money would be better spent on an interim site for a neighborhood school – boundaries will be redrawn in any case.

  • Betsy February 16, 2012 (10:30 pm)

    I am really surprised that SPS has not considered (or vocal parents have not demanded) year-round elementary school to relieve overcrowding issues. My hometown of Reno started about ten years ago when facing a crunch of incoming students. My nieces and nephews loved it, and it was easier for them to stay on track without such a long summer break. There are some scheduling quirks to work out, but basically by using the existing facilities 100 % of the year instead of 75%, you gain, um, well, about 25% more capacity. Actually you increase capacity by 33% if you base your rate of increase on the original capacity. But I digress. I think year round neighborhood schools would be a great option.

    I live ‘south of the border’ in the Highline District and I must say, it’s nice having a “neighborhood school only” approach. Fewer headaches (so far).

  • Mike February 16, 2012 (10:42 pm)

    Ah yes, the legacy of an idiot leader continues to haunt us all… http://www.npr.org/2011/04/28/135142895/ravitch-standardized-testing-undermines-teaching

  • Neighborly February 16, 2012 (10:48 pm)

    I hope folks don’t sign up for this school, then back out and return to their neighborhood school which has filled with wait-listed students from other boundary areas. Because you won’t lose your spot at your neigborhhood school. As the policy stands, no matter the class size, if you live in or move into a school’s assignment area, your kids can attend. Which leads to 29 kindergarteners in a class.

  • curious February 17, 2012 (7:39 am)

    Someone (a man in the back) at the meeting mentioned a reading/writing program they wanted in the STEM School that worked well, and everyone clapped. What was that? I didn’t right it down and would like more info on it. Thanks!

  • ghar72 February 17, 2012 (8:27 am)

    Curious, I think he said Writers Workshop.
    I went to an open house at Highland Park last night and the principal made it sound like that’s the curriculum most (all?) SPS elementary schools use.
    Neighborly, are you talking about not losing your spot the following year? The way I understand open enrollment, if you request a school and get in, you are relinquishing your spot at your neighborhood school. Am I understanding the process correctly?

  • Rod Clark February 17, 2012 (9:07 am)

    Can anyone comment on the process to obtain a waiver to even teach Singapore Math? I have heard that it is no easy task.

    Comment by Another WS Mom — February 16, 12 1:57 pm
    The School Board took up a new waiver policy at its February 1st meeting.
    As originally written by staff (the same staff who have been denying these waivers for years), the new policy would have made it just as impossible as before, because the decision would have been left entirely in the hands of the same people who have discouraged waivers all along. But on the plus side, it would have been a more elaborate and decorative document. Also, it would have allowed principals to perform several entertaining new levels of hoop-jumping processes before reaching the same result.
    But unexpectedly, Sharon Peaslee introduced and Marty McLaren seconded an amendment that would allow a principal whose waiver request is denied to appeal the decision to the School Board. Director Peaslee then introduced and McLaren seconded an amendment to include district funding in the list of potential funding sources for textbooks bought under the waiver provision. Staff had taken care to exclude the possibility of district funding in the original draft of the policy, ensuring that in the unlikely event of approval, actually obtaining waiver textbooks would remain in bake-sale territory, something not practical for many schools, especially less affluent schools.
    The Board added both amendments, each by a 4-3 vote. Then, after Director Carr voiced strong concerns about “crispening up” the language because of “fiscal constraints,” the Board sent the amended policy back to the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee (McLaren, Peaslee and Martin-Morris, chaired by McLaren), for some additional wording about funding, before a final vote at an upcoming Board meeting.
    As long as the Board remains split 4-3 on this issue, which looks likely for the next two years, schools should be able to obtain textbook waivers as long as they are clearly supportable and reasonable. In short, waivers for Singapore math and other basic instructional materials are on the launch pad and all signals are go, as the School Board is almost certain to approve the amended policy.
    That is why Aurora Lora was able to say at Wednesday’s Boren K-5 meeting that the new school’s design committee could adopt Singapore math and is likely to do so at its first or second meeting. It should also be possible for schools to replace the district’s science kits with other materials. Thank you to the voters of West Seattle for this change.

  • curious February 17, 2012 (9:18 am)

    ghar72 – yes, you are. Once you sign up and get into your school of choice, you give up your spot at your ‘neighborhood school’. Otherwise one child is taking two spots.

    Right, Writers Workshop. Thanks!

  • Delridge Way February 17, 2012 (9:39 am)

    My two cents. I really enjoyed the meeting. To be involved is an option, you don’t have to come, you want to come and be involved. Same with enrolling your child, if you are happy with the school your child is in don’t move them, it is a choice. STEM… that is what it is don’t try and change it. If you want your child to have something else go some where else. As far a divisity just because people were mostly white does not mean that their child is white. I have a mixed child and he would represent. I know a lot of my neighbors are from Africa and I know their kids would attend the school because they live across the street. If you open the schcol you will see who truly lives in the neighborhood and who would benefit from a great program.

  • kayo February 17, 2012 (9:46 am)

    We love writers workshop. It is a great method and has been fun to watch our kindergartner progress with her writing this year.

    Neighborly, as others stated, if you get into an option school you forfeit your attendance area seat. This is exactly why I hesitate, but also I think necessary to force people to commit. Otherwise, the district would make hiring decisions and purchasing decisions based on potentially inaccurate numbers. I just wish the open enrollment deadline could be extended until the end of March so we could at least meet the new principal and maybe have the design committee in place. We will probably hang back and wait and see because of that.

    As an aside, the prospect of boundary changes really needs to be resolved by the district as soon as possible. If enrollment for stem looks promising this year and can take some of the pressure off crowded schools, great. However, I am so tired of being in limbo about this issue, especially with a younger child coming along in a couple of years and a strong parent group at my school advocating for boundary redraws that will affect us. The long range plan needs to be formulated and committed to in a way parents can trust. Either that or they need to guarantee admission to younger sibs if they change boundaries again. There is little trust after the messy transition of the last few years and a good intermediate and long range plan is desperately needed!

    • WSB February 17, 2012 (10:26 am)

      Re: Boundary changes – At the meeting the other night, one of the district officials mentioned there had been a BEX IV work session for the board earlier in the day, and advised people to check out the related documentation. I did, and it’s still not particularly clear where they’re heading in terms of West Seattle rebuilds – some PowerPoints really don’t translate well if you weren’t there to listen to the presentation accompanying them – BUT one clear line was the mention that boundary changes are expected in 2013-2014, to accompany the BEX plan. I can’t go find the link now but if you go to the school board’s section of the SPS website, it’s in the meeting materials from that Wednesday session – TR

  • ghar72 February 17, 2012 (10:42 am)

    I’m trying to work out exactly how open enrollment works. A couple of possible scenarios for our family:
    1. We put Pathfinder as #1, STEM as #2. Of course we don’t get into Pathfinder (b/c who does?!). So does that mean we’re basically in the 2nd round for admittance to STEM? If STEM fills in 1st round then do we wind up at our neighborhood school? And then we’re on a wait list for Pathfinder? Could we request wait list for STEM or do you just get on the list for your 1st choice?
    2. We put Pathfinder as #1 and STEM as #2. We get into STEM. So are we waitlisted at Pathfinder? And we give our spot at our neighborhood school? Or are we not on a wait list b/c we got our #2 choice?
    Thanks for any clarification others can provide! We aren’t attending until the 2013 year, so it sounds like this could all possibly change with the expected redrawing of boundary lines next year.

  • W.S.Mom February 17, 2012 (2:55 pm)

    I have watched the video and read all the comments. This IS a gamble on a new concept. However, I don’t think that it is going to proved any less of an education than is already provided by SPS. If they are implementing this new concept to alleviate over crowing then sounds like West Seattle is getting one problem taken care of whilst providing a very unique opportunity for our children. I like the idea of STEM and will be enrolling our daughter into the kindergarten program. I am sure the first year will be just like any other school anywhere else but by the second year things will be subtracted/ added to the STEM program that worked or didn’t work and make for a stronger program. One year is not going to alter the outcome of our children’s success. BUT, if it is successful (evenly mildly) then what a wonderful gift to our children and community. Where else have parents had the opportunity to participate on a ground-breaking concept by helping formulate curriculum??

    This forces parents to stay super engaged and very vigilant with the school officials and teachers. There will be such a hypersensitivity with what is being implemented (from all) that I doubt this will fail. I am sure that SPS wants this to be successful because funding depends on it.

    I am excited about the possibilities and plan on being a part of the success. I hope the excitement doesn’t spread so the classrooms stay small ;) JK!

  • StringCheese February 17, 2012 (3:36 pm)

    You will only be placed on the wait list of your 1st choice. As for strategy of what to place 1st or 2nd, it all depends on the model they are using this year (which I haven’t been able to find out yet). Basically there are two approaches (which require different strategies):
    1.) Each student ID is brought up randomly and the system doesn’t proceed to the next ID until a placement is found. This means that if your 1st choice if full, the computer will look at your 2nd, etc. until it finds a spot or exhausts your choices at which point you would be placed in your neighborhood school. **With this model, you would want to rank your choices by what you honestly would like in order**
    You would do 1st-Pathfinder and 2nd-STEM
    2.) The system processes all 1st choices first (randomly) until all IDs are either placed or programs are filled. Those IDs not placed on the 1st round would then attempt to be placed in their 2nd choice, etc. **Your strategy here is completely different! If your 1st and 2nd choices are popular (which is highly likely) then there is VERY little chance you will ever see any of your other choices if you don’t have the luck of being placed in the first round. In this scenario, you want to place the school that you are comfortable with that has the most open spots in your 1st position.** Here you would want to do the opposite with 1st-STEM and 2nd-Pathfinder (they seem willing to open more than 2 classrooms per grade at the new STEM school).
    Again, I don’t know what system they are using this year. I couldn’t find it on the website. I know that used #1 when we entered in 2010 but there was discussion of switching to #2 model in future years. You should call enrollment and ask!
    Hope this helps!

  • StringCheese February 17, 2012 (3:39 pm)

    Thank you for that excellent information!!!

  • SpEd mom February 17, 2012 (4:16 pm)

    I’m not purposefully trying to rain on anyone’s parade but, with my years of experience advocating for our children in SPS, I can say unequivocally that parent voices are LAST. AFTER the wealthy donors, AFTER the downtown admin’s wishes, AFTER any vocal special interest.

    I am “super engaged”. To the point of apoplexy. Even so, the next day some other ludicrous initiative is in full-bore. Wouldn’t it be nice if the (bad) changes would end.

    “I am sure the first year will be just like any other school anywhere else…” W.S. Mom, with my seven years in the system, I can say that, for the most part, your neighborhood schools HAVE community, HAVE caring teachers. It’s only when the folks downtown interject themselves that things have the potential for getting messed up. Witness Lafayette. A high quality school. Then Enfield figured she’d tinker with principal assignments. Now, it’s in a uproar. Why? Yeah, I know, no good answer.

  • Marmite February 17, 2012 (6:09 pm)

    I agree with you ghar72 we need STEAM schools not STEM. Bring art and music into the curriculum. Creativity is not only necessary in life but crucial to children’s development.

  • Dano February 18, 2012 (12:48 pm)

    I’ve read several times that folks feel that Susan Enfield “tinkered” with the principal assignments… There is a lot more to these decisions than “tinkering”…. In many cases, the principal may request to work in another building…. For personal reasons… such as career opportunity, proximity to their own home, program interest, etc… Certainly, administration can make decisions based on internal factors… but it always interests me that people outside of the field of education consider that, by being parents of a Seattle student, they are granted qualification to judge these decisions… Sure, parents (all tax payers…) pay the bills…. But consider that those that have spent years in the field might know more than you do when it comes to your child’s education…… I KNOW this is difficult to accept….. It does not diminish that YOU want the best for your child…
    If you require a guarantee that you will have final say on your childs education, your only REAL option is to home school… And even then, are you really assured of the outcome?

  • ghar72 February 18, 2012 (2:53 pm)

    Thanks for the explanation, StringCheese. We aren’t enrolling until 2013, so I’ll wait to see how SPS changes things next year. I’m saving what you wrote though b/c there’s no way I’ll remember it!

  • Carla Rogers February 18, 2012 (11:05 pm)

    This is really exciting news for West Seattle! The prospect of having STEM programs at Boren, Madison and WSHS should make everyone proud and improve the reputations of our North End West Seattle feeder schools. I think it’s a great answer to the capacity issues. I was one of the parent who worked with the school board on this option. To SpEd Mom – there was indeed a lot of community involvement in this decision. I hope folks will support this. The School Board worked pretty fast to get the short term solution in the works. We just need to keep on them for the longer term solution so we can get rid of some of the portables in our schools.

  • HPfamily February 19, 2012 (8:56 am)

    Carla Rogers- Is the location for the STEM option school fixed as being a North end West Seattle feeder school?
    I am curious because that would meant that the Madison/ WSHS zones would have 2 option schools and the Denny/ Sealth would have none.

  • Oliver February 19, 2012 (10:18 am)

    HPfamily – option schools are not north end or south end. They are an option for everyone. Many “south end” kids, including HP residents, go to pathfinder and could go to STEM. The concept is that STEM programs would be added to Madison and WSHS because both schools need improvement in college prep. Denny and Sealth have more challenging curriculum with the IB focus. Many north end families previously choose Denny and Sealth for that reason, now they can’t. Many of us in the middle (actually south of HP, Gatewood area) were in the south end cluster for Denny/Sealth but now we’ve been drawn out of the boundary for Denny/Sealth (despite being within walking distance).

  • jen February 20, 2012 (10:06 am)

    HPfamily and Oliver –

    I think that is a good point to highlight. As an option school The STEM program is for everyone. I believe the next meeting is being planned for a more southern venue. West Seattle Elementary was the suggestion.

    Wherever it is, it might also be a good cookie/bake sale fundraiser location…

  • consistency helps community February 21, 2012 (2:49 pm)

    As a North Delridge resident I sure would like to see a permanent school at Boren. Temporary schools and a boarded up building when it’s vacant has had a negative impact on our neighborhood thus far.

    Glad to see such a large turnout.

Sorry, comment time is over.