Update: K-8 STEM at Boren, ‘early learning center’ at Schmitz, APP in West Seattle, new maps & more proposed in draft ‘Growth Boundaries’ plan for Seattle Public Schools

4:30 PM: Seattle Public Schools is out with its “Growth Boundaries” proposal, and there’s one big headline for West Seattle (along with multiple others): The plan includes the community-driven suggestion that West Seattle’s STEM school, in its second year, stay at Boren and become K-8 STEM at Boren “in the future.”

STEM parent representatives are here (in scarves, in our photo) – they just heard, and they’re smiling. Boren was intended to be the school’s temporary home, and you might recall that the district had proposed in May that the current Schmitz Park Elementary campus become STEM’s permanent home when it’s vacated after the completion of the new school at Genesee Hill. The STEM PTA counterproposed last month that either they move into Fairmount Park Elementary when it’s reopened, or that they stay at Boren and expand to a K-8. They got key community support too, from groups including the North Delridge Neighborhood Council. And now – that’s the draft proposal.

Fairmount Park, meantime, is still proposed as a neighborhood school once it reopens next fall – its expansion and upgrade work is under way right now:

And here are the newly proposed West Seattle attendance maps – first, for the Madison service area, which would include Fairmount Park:

FP is also proposed as part of an “optional” West Seattle pathway for students in the top-level-gifted APP program:

And here’s the other attendance-area map, showing what feeds into Denny:

(ADDED: Even more detailed maps are posted now on the district website – one for each individual school – see those here)

(back to original report) The plan also proposes:
*The current Schmitz Park Elementary campus would become an “early learning center”
*The former EC Hughes – which Westside School (WSB sponsor) will vacate after finishing their new campus – will become the “emergency/interim” campus that Boren had been

Meantime, we are at the School Board work session that is about to start, with lots more information about what is being proposed here, and we will be reporting here “live” as it happens – stand by!

4:37 PM: The board briefing is under way. They’ve been told that the citywide changes proposed today would unfold between now and 2020-2021 – “not all at once.” We’ll add more document links as soon as we can. First group of topics is special services, including “academically gifted” (APP), and the new proposal for an “optional pathway” at Fairmount Park and Madison is explained as taking some pressure, potentially, off the existing south pathway (Thurgood Marshall to Washington); the north region is proposed for two full pathways but the south APP numbers are described as too big for one, not big enough for two.

4:47 PM: The full West Seattle-area International School pathway is now proposed too: Concord or Highland Park (both remaining primarily “attendance area” schools as well) to Denny to Sealth. Next: Elaboration on STEM, and the proposal for K-5 STEM at Boren to become permanent as eventually K-8 STEM at Boren – the timeline for expansion, district managers explain, would be tied to the need for Arbor Heights to co-locate at Boren over the next two school years while its school is rebuilt. Asked to specify a year, district managers say 6th grade would (under this plan – which isn’t final yet) start in (updated, per document) 2015-16, with 7th added 2016-17, 8th added 2017-18. They point out, a few minutes later – as had been noted in the proposal from the STEM PTA – that this plan means there will be an option school in each of West Seattle’s two service areas, Madison (Pathfinder K-8) and Denny (now, K-8 STEM).

5:17 PM: No updates re: West Seattle because the board had just spent a lot of time extensively discussing one proposal for another part of town (re: Pinehurst K-8). But now it’s time for some general discussion on the program proposals districtwide – and board member Michael DeBell said he’s particularly pleased about the K-8 STEM recommendation. Meantime, we should note that West Seattle’s board member Marty McLaren is not here because she is ill.

5:34 PM: Now they’re on to the boundaries – see the maps higher up in this story. One line on the overview: “Strong emphasis on continuity of current elementary attendance area boundaries” – of course, in West Seattle, there will be some change with Fairmount Park becoming an attendance-area elementary when it reopens next fall.

6:07 PM: The boundaries were not discussed in detail – so we don’t have any extra enlightenment to share beyond the maps shown above (click here to see larger sizes – it’s the “map packet” sent out to media earlier). One West Seattle datapoint here – district managers are suggesting “implement(ing the) optional APP pathway in West Seattle to mitigate Washington MS APP enrollment growth until Meany BEX IV project is completed.” One more reminder – these are all proposals, and not final until the board’s votes following a round of public meetings that’s about to start.

Now a few more Southwest-area details – district managers correct their earlier verbal mention of the start date for middle school at Boren; as the documentation says, they’re proposing fall 2015 for 6th grade to start there. The Arbor Heights co-location over the next two school years (fall 2014 to summer 2016) would be the last “interim” usage of Boren, and EC Hughes (once Westside leaves) would become the interim/emergency space in this area. (It was used that way before Westside leased and renovated it.)

6:28 PM: Tracy Libros from district staff warns “this isn’t going to fix everything – it’s going to get worse before it gets better” regarding handling growth. Meantime, as meeting wraps up, a reminder that the LONE community meeting planned in West Seattle to go over all this is one week from tomorrow, Wednesday 9/25, 6:30 pm, in the commons at West Seattle High School (3000 California SW). If you have questions or comments, e-mail growthboundaries@seattleschools.org. The meeting’s a wrap.

94 Replies to "Update: K-8 STEM at Boren, 'early learning center' at Schmitz, APP in West Seattle, new maps & more proposed in draft 'Growth Boundaries' plan for Seattle Public Schools"

  • wsmama3 September 17, 2013 (4:55 pm)

    I could not possibly be more happy for the K-5 (8!!!) STEM community – the PTA, families and community really backed something better happening for all West Seattle kids. This plan really addresses what our concerns were. Thank you for the story!

  • Debbie September 17, 2013 (5:09 pm)

    I’m so glad SPS looked at our proposal and the corresponding data. It Just Made Sense!

  • NW Mama September 17, 2013 (5:13 pm)

    Any idea how they are defining an “early learning center”? It’s a large campus for preschool!

    • WSB September 17, 2013 (5:34 pm)

      NWM – I have to go back to some documents I didn’t see till shortly before the meeting. … OK, here’s the language in part of the documentation – “Consolidate some West Seattle special education preschool services as part of an Early Learning Center to serve students with disabilities along with typically developing peers. Locate at current Schmitz Park building after Genesee Hill building opens.”

  • OnGraham September 17, 2013 (5:18 pm)

    If this draft holds, two “specialty” tracks, STEM and International, are in the Denny service area. Will be interesting to see how that impacts Sealth/West Seattle HS service area planning down the line.

  • Brontosaurus September 17, 2013 (5:25 pm)

    Thank you SPS for listening to our school community, and giving the STEM option school the opportunity to grow and to be available to as many students as possible. This is wonderful news, not just for our school community and future middle-schoolers but for the North Delridge neighborhood which has long hoped for a permanent school in the Boren building.

  • MrGluck September 17, 2013 (5:42 pm)

    YES!!! Huge thanks to our incredible K-5 STEM parents and the greater West Seattle community for pushing for this.

  • Fairmount neighborhood parent September 17, 2013 (5:58 pm)

    Perhaps I am looking at the Madison map incorrectly, but it appears that those who live across the street on Fauntleroy from Fairmount Park Elementary will still be in the Gatewood attendance area. Under this proposal, they would bus my child to Gatewood rather than let us walk one block to Fairmount. How does that make sense?

  • Raincity September 17, 2013 (6:00 pm)

    what about the boundary lines for the new Genesse hill school? Since its moving much farther south the lines should be adjusted to be more equitable

  • pagefive September 17, 2013 (6:15 pm)

    I agree with Fairmount neighborhood parent. The boundary for Fairmount Park looks pretty small compared to Gatewood. Is population density that different in these two areas? What’s the capacity for the renovated Fairmount Park building?
    And congratulations to STEM K-8! Look forward to being part of this wonderful school community for another 7 years!!!

  • RS September 17, 2013 (6:17 pm)

    Are there links for the maps?

  • Burned out on SPS September 17, 2013 (6:17 pm)

    So glad we bailed on SPS and pulled our kids out all together. What a train wreck. Over crowded schools with a Lord of the Flies atmosphere. No thanks.

  • RS September 17, 2013 (6:21 pm)

    What year would these changes take place for? Sept 2014, or 2020 as the maps seem to indicate?

  • Bonnie September 17, 2013 (6:36 pm)

    Fairmount neighborhood parent, I would assume that is correct. If you look at other boundaries they have kids who live across the street from Roxhill going to Arbor Heights and kids who live 1/2 mile from Denny being bussed all the way to Madison.

  • Trickycoolj September 17, 2013 (6:42 pm)

    If I’m reading this correctly, a chunk of High Point is moving down to Fairmont Park? If so, cha-ching! My home just got a new selling point.

    Seems like an oddly shaped boundary but growing up I lived in the token neighborhood that swapped schools every other year as attendance fluxed since we were on the border.

    • WSB September 17, 2013 (7:05 pm)

      Tricky – I haven’t been able to look closely at everything yet but when FP was closed in 2007, its program was “merged” with what was High Point Elementary, creating West Seattle Elementary.

  • maureen September 17, 2013 (6:45 pm)

    Thank you so much for covering this!

  • KR September 17, 2013 (7:34 pm)

    Has anyone overlaid these maps with a real street map?

    We are so very close to several borders that it is hard to tell where we are. I’m also flabbergasted that I will be able to throw a ball from my house to Fairmount Park but will have to go to another school.

  • Goodguy September 17, 2013 (7:35 pm)

    Looks surprisingly good in general. I really like the direction in programs in the neighborhood. The only issue I see yet is that Lafayette is overcrowded but had its boundary expanded to bring more students. That makes no sense at all for an overcrowded school. A new neighborhood school is opening to relieve overcrowding but it serves a tiny area. It would be an improvement if the capacity were evened up a little… say, Fairmount Park picks up a little from Lafayette and Sansislo, which I understand is overcrowded, maybe a block or two across the street. Good to hear there are early learning and AP programs coming to W.S. in addition to a strong STEM program.

  • WS Jade September 17, 2013 (7:51 pm)

    If EC Hughes will become the new interim school, why can’t Arbor Heights be located there for two years while they rebuild?/ It is much closer to our attendance area than Boren and wouldd be much better than trying to have two elementary schools in one school building.

  • george September 17, 2013 (7:51 pm)

    The South/SE boundary for Lafayette looks ridiculous. Why ship those kids so far away?

  • wsmama3 September 17, 2013 (8:04 pm)

    I’ve sat through about 10 meetings on this – and Tracy Libros says “I can make only one school have the perfect boundary” – They are looking at trying overlap actual physical location, who would attend, who MIGHT attend, who might leave, who would walk, etc… It’s a next to impossible job with (as you can see) messy results.

    That said – I know SPS is planning “walking the boundary” groups where the community can actually walk (or drive) the boundary AND there is the community meeting on Sept 25th from 6:30-8 at West Seattle High School where SPS staff will collect feedback.

  • Nate September 17, 2013 (8:55 pm)

    Here’s a page with links to the elementary school boundary maps. http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=296812

  • Arrow September 17, 2013 (8:56 pm)

    WSJade – I suspect that Arbor Heights is too big to fit in the EC Hughes location. (It is really a fairly tiny school)

  • J September 17, 2013 (9:15 pm)

    APP would only come to West Seattle at Fairmout if there are enough students to create a strong chohort (at least one full class per grade). If you have a child who might qualify, but haven’t tested because Thurgood Marshall is so far away, having them tested this year will help them have the realistic numbers to make this decision. Deadline is October 3rd for testing. Spread the word.

  • Wowzers September 17, 2013 (9:30 pm)

    So Schmitz is already at 600 students which will be the capacity of the new school (inside – not portables) and the boundary looks like it is almost doubled. Further south, further west and almost the same north. We will cut 2 streets or so off to the east. The school will have 1000 kids!

  • HP Gal September 17, 2013 (9:45 pm)

    When will Highland Park Elementary become an International School?

  • Mrs. A September 17, 2013 (9:56 pm)

    So happy for the STEM community! It’s a wonderful option for West Seattle families and staying in a central location just makes the most sense.

    @WSJade – AH might be too big to fit at EC Hughes(the SPS info lists EC Hughes as having a capacity of 304), but it’s going to be a tight squeeze at Boren too. If you think EC Hughes would be a better location than Boren for 2 years, please let SPS know your opinion.

    Regarding FP, perhaps the enrollment area was kept small to allow for a sizeable APP cohort? I believe the new capacity should be about 500, which would allow for at least 1 APP class per grade.

  • Lesley September 17, 2013 (10:03 pm)

    I was curious about Highland Park and if that would affect Concord or be in addition to??

    • WSB September 17, 2013 (10:12 pm)

      In addition to, according to how it was presented. But as you can see if you follow the links (which are also in our story) to the maps and documents, this is all very complex and many-layered … we will do our best to write some followups between now and the meeting next week, to get beyond the toplines, and it’s great to hear various viewpoints on what you all are finding as you look through everything with your own perspectives – TR

  • Lesley September 17, 2013 (10:20 pm)

    from what I gather they’re looking to open Highland Park as an international but nothing changes at Concord. That’s how I read it.

  • WSTroll September 17, 2013 (10:22 pm)

    The boundaries for Lafayette seem to be unchanged. Still completely ridiculous.

  • Nate September 17, 2013 (10:23 pm)

    wowzers here’s a link to the current attendance boundaries for SPE: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Maps/boundarymaps/pdfs/AA_ES_SchmitzPark.pdf

    It’s too late in the day for me to judge the size difference between the current and proposed attendance map, but a doubling feels like a stretch.

  • Mrs. A September 17, 2013 (10:26 pm)

    @OnGraham – The materials given out at the board meeting indicate that the APP at FP would track to Madison Middle school. So, Madison would have an additional “specialty track,” as you call it. Hopefully this would lead to WS high school providing more AP/challenging classes for kids from Madison.

    As for STEM being in the Denny service area, I believe an individual student’s middle school and high school assignment is still based on address (with APP as an exception). So, regardless of whether someone attends an option elementary in a specific service area (i.e., STEM or Pathfinder), they could either attend 6-8 at the option school or attend their neighborhood middle school, and their neighborhood high school.

  • Civik September 17, 2013 (10:33 pm)

    Looking at the map, are they seriously considering the top of the hill at 55th and charlestown a ‘walk zone’ for elementary kids to Alki?

    Do they even bother looking at topographical maps or do they just want us to drive?

  • Westseattlemom September 18, 2013 (12:00 am)

    The proposed boundaries for West Seattle came out today. Lafayette’s boundaries have increased?!
    This school year the students at Lafayette will lose 11 weeks of computer lab because of standardized testing? Did you know that? Bigger schools = longer time taking tests in the computer lab. Our students are disadvantaged by the current population size! AND now the boundary is INCREASING!!! Is the district trying to run off involved families, passionate about education? From my perspective it feels that way!
    Lafayette is OVER crowded; but we’re not getting a new building, any upgrades, or additions to handle the populations surge. Our school office isn’t even handicapped accessible!!! I’m livid because the $232 million education levy I voted YES on has NOT improved anything at Lafayette, and our boundary is NOW GROWING??!!
    My family moved to West Seattle because it has great schools. We’re not fancy, or in some elite group. We just want, and believe ALL students have a right to a “good public education!!“
    In 2011 the district assigned Lafayette a principal. It ended in scandal-she left in March- thankfully. This experience was NOT an example of “good public education.” The next year, in 2012, the staff and parents took part in hiring a new principal. This WAS an example of “good public education.” The staff and community was excited to have a new principal. Unfortunately, in December of 2012, the district offered her a mid-year promotion. So we finished out last school year with an interim principal, again NOT an example of “good pubic education.”
    Has the district conducted any studies to predict Lafayette’s population size for NEXT year and the year’s to follow?!! My child attends preschool a few blocks from Lafayette Elementary. This school has a growing population. The Pre-K and Preschool class sizes have doubled in the last few years. Many of the children will attend public Kindergarten in the fall of 2014!! And there are many more youngsters who are a few years away.
    However, over-crowded schools with huge populations do not offer a good experience to students, school staff, or communities. Over crowding makes a school more volatile (we had 4 new teachers hired this year!!). This instability means families of means to go to private schools. This year 3 families on my block left Lafayette to pursue different educational opportunities because of instability and morale. This huge boundary is just another blow…

    The point is EVEN despite ALL of this Lafayette is a great school. AND I support our teachers and staff!! However, as a tax paying, public school supporting, family I really need to know the district has considered ALL the public school’s in West Seattle. Why is Lafayette the ONLY school with a boundary that is increasing in West Seattle? It has a population WAY above the designed usage for our school building! Shouldn’t Lafayette have a reasonable population now that 3 new schools are opening in West Seattle? And shouldn’t our population and boundary be brought down just a little bit?

    I find the district’s boundary campaign a slap in the face: “Walk The Boundaries.” Is Mr. Banda, panning to walk ours? It is HUGE!! Maybe I can turn his walk along our boundary into a fundraiser to support our overcrowded school! Any money raised will go to pay for my child to have the same amount of computer time as a child in a school with smaller population!!!

    Tax Payer, Public School Supporter, Lafayette Mom

  • shihtzu September 18, 2013 (7:26 am)

    Civic, I have the same issues with the map. I believe this is why they have the survey you can fill out regarding geographical oddities. I’m going to suggest they push the NW border to 55th and Charleston so more people have a hope of walking to school.

    You can find the instructions and survey on the SPS website. Fill it out!

    I really feel badly for people who live a few blocks from a school, but have to go to a school that is not walkable.

  • Kim September 18, 2013 (7:43 am)

    Amazing how the tides turn….. Up until the last few years, most of the public elem. schools have lived in Lafayette’s shadow. When my son was entering kindergarten in 2009, all we heard about was how great Lafayette was. I know a lot of families who pulled from their neighborhood schools and opted in to Lafayette.
    Now that long neglected schools like AH are getting their due attention, the Lafayette families are unhappy? All schools in WS are overcrowded!! Both of my kids’ classrooms have 28 or 29 kids. Wanna talk computer labs? AH lab was a joke until public pressure and a determined new principal raised hell at the end of ’11-’12. I volunteered in the computer lab and finding headphones (yes, headphones!!!) that worked was just the first challenge. And this is what the kids did MAP testing on.
    The disappointing fact is that SPS is too large a district, recovering from years of controversy, mis-management and premature school closures.

  • WSwest September 18, 2013 (8:01 am)

    It seems like it would make a lot more sense to put the APP program at Schmitz or Lafayette. The district’s own data shows that’s where almost all the APP-eligible students in West Seattle are. Otherwise I’d worry the APP program here could be doomed from the start:


    Also, it’s just silly that the north part of the Gatewood boundary isn’t going to Fairmount park just a block or two away. I realize they are trying to preserve some old boundaries, but those have to be changed along with big changes like new school buildings opening.

    Similarly, since the Schmitz school is moving further south, the students at the north/northeast end of the boundary now have quite the distance to travel when they could just walk 2 blocks north to Lafayette. Just seems odd to send kids out of that area when others will be brought in to Lafayette from miles away (almost down to High Point).

    Those are among my suggestions. Hope everyone can convey theirs to the district.

  • Melinda September 18, 2013 (8:25 am)

    In reading this morning’s Seattle Times article, I understand that services for English language learners in middle schools are ALL located to the North and East of us – nothing in West Seattle or the South End! How can this be, with the many immigrant children living here?

    • WSB September 18, 2013 (8:37 am)

      Melinda, I don’t know what specifically you are reading but no, that is not correct. Directly from the district presentation: “Continue to provide ELL services at all attendance area middle schools, including new middle schools when they open.” – TR

  • West Seattle Mom September 18, 2013 (8:25 am)

    Maybe Lafayette is too big and shouldn’t have Spectrum. Move Spectrum. Solve problems.

  • Get it Right September 18, 2013 (8:46 am)

    The point of opening a new neighborhood school, is well, to have a neighborhood school. Putting APP at Fairmount Park is smart because it will help attract families to this new school. Putting it also at Madison as an optional pathway is even smarter. But having such small boundaries where people who live across the street from FP cannot attend, is crazy. Opening a new school should theoretically help other schools with their capacity issues and help them have more sensible boundaries. Lafayette’s boundaries are ridiculous, especially in the south/south east. I’d like to see a walking group try to walk Lafayette’s HUGE boundary lines. It makes sense for the school to keep Pigeon Point given Cooper’s closure, but the area east and south of the gold course makes no sense at all. The new SP school at Genesse’s lines also look massive. While I am super sensitive about not wanting to disrupt the mid-Delridge area again from the terrible aftermath of Cooper’s mistaken closure,and believe firmly in grandfathering, this redraw is their only chance to get a real long term neighborhood school at FP, and if done well, doing so might also actually help other schools with years of severe overcrowding. With STEM staying at Boren, Delridge families would also receive geo-priority for that school if preferred. Neighborhood schools should serve kids/communities near them, yes?

  • J September 18, 2013 (8:52 am)

    You are mistaken. There are plenty of APP qualified students in all parts of West Seattle. 67 currently go to Thurgood Marshall, and a the southern most bus has quite a few riders. Locating an APP program in a central location provides the most equity.

  • smokeycretin9 September 18, 2013 (9:06 am)

    What about children who are already enrolled at Marshall APP program? Would we have to change schools?

    • WSB September 18, 2013 (9:20 am)

      Smokey – it was clearly described multiple times as “optional.” They are proposing this in hopes of taking some pressure off that track with West Seattleites who might rather stay close to home, but said they would otherwise still get placement in the existing “south track” if that is their preference – TR

  • george September 18, 2013 (9:33 am)

    No one has said it, but maybe its time to reasess Pathfinder and reopen Cooper as a neighborhood school. Move PF to Hughes or SP and cap the growth. And yes, Option schools do not have a direct pathway to a middle or high school. It becomes a neighborhood pathway at that point.

    SPS has a 10 year projected growth plan with SP growing YOY and Lafayette basically flat:

    Here is the 5 year projected:

  • Mrs. A September 18, 2013 (9:59 am)

    Yes, you are mistaken. There are many APP qualified students in the south part of West Seattle. And, with a newly renovated FP building giving parents the choice to keep kids here rather than busing to APP, more parents might choose to have their kids tested.
    Putting APP at SP or Lafayette would not make sense in 2 already overcrowded schools. Putting APP in a brand new school to attract enrollment does. Although, I do think the FP border should be bigger.

  • AHParent September 18, 2013 (11:01 am)

    AH temporary housing –

    I think most AH parents would love to go to EC Hughes, however, we will need to be house in another facility by next fall (2014). Right now there is no other facility that can accomodate this time line. Schmitz will still be occupied, Westside will most likely be at EC Hughes for another year or more (unless there has been a change), Farimont Park is set to open as a neighborhood school next fall. Boren has been a temporary site and the plan was to accomodate AH all along. Believe me I personally would not like our school to be housed along side another. There better not be a delay in the rebuild!

  • wsmama3 September 18, 2013 (12:26 pm)

    Fairmount Park has a “small” zone (and while I agree that it’s nuts to have kids bus and not walk across the street) my GUESS after literally 100 hours of these meetings is that they are making the assumption that APP / spectrum parents will opt in and “pull” kids there.

    This is a good idea to have a “pull” to the school (as opposed to a “push” where kids have to go) since it invests the community that opted in to make it awesome. I can say after starting a new school PTA that it’s hours and hours of hard work and calls for an all hands on deck support system. You might not get that from a “push” school.

    The other boundaries might not have huge changes since SPS is making an assumption that families at over crowded Lafayette and SP (and other schools) MIGHT have kids tested for APP and then make a move to FP and ease some of the capacity burden at those schools.

    Also – with a K-8 STEM option some capacity might be helped at crowded schools since the “where is STEM going?” question has been answered (and that was 99% of the time a parents concern in opting into STEM at Open Houses or at least the one concern I heard the most!).

    Also FP has a lot of upcoming condo development that will be pushed into the school so they have a smaller boundary with a lot more density in it forecasted.

    There is not a single school that is not effected by this – but thinking big picture is needed. Sometimes the reasons WHY?! might make sense – even in this funky business of drawing boundaries.

    As for the AH rebuild and where they go – the STEM PTA will reach out to the AH PTA and community to figure this out. If there are options, how to make it work if there are not – we will make this work. While co-housing is not ideal it will work and we would never start advocating for AH to stay at AH or wait. We want what is best for that community too – many of our families are from that school and that is how we’ve decided to approach all these messy situations.

  • Mom 2.0 September 18, 2013 (1:20 pm)

    Does anyone know if there’s an update on the accelerated funding for Arbor Heights? That seemed to be the big “IF” when the WSB wrote about the plans for the school last month. It seems there’s a lot riding on the District securing those funds.

  • pjmanley September 18, 2013 (1:30 pm)

    Optional, attractive programs co-housing with neighborhood schools always means very small boundaries and eventual overcrowding if both cohorts thrive. T. Marshall has a very small attendance area boundary, which still resulted in overcrowding as APP grew in the South End.

    I caution the optimism that one APP class at each grade level is enough for a solid APP program. APP has no set curriculum, despite years of promises for one, and promises that it would never be split again until a curriculum was in place. Oh well. Here we go again with Ready, Fire, Aim.

    A true, high quality APP program needs two classes at each grade level to ensure quality, but that may not occur until later grades as more kids test into the program. (The Mushroom Effect) That means split grade classrooms in the early years, for awhile at least. Nobody wanted them, but they worked out well at T. Marshall.

  • Hmmm September 18, 2013 (2:16 pm)

    Just want to point out that not all schools have computer labs like Lafayette (in case you were wondering). :) Also curious if the 11 weeks that the labs are used for the test are due to test prepping (yikes!) or actual test taking (yikes, too!). From what I understand, it is a school-by-school choice to test kids in the fall unless kids are new to the district or kindergartners, so maybe there should be some pushback on that from parents? Even with those 11 weeks taken up by test prep/taking at least they are available to kids at Lafayette for part of the year. I do feel for Lafayette families though. The district has handled so many things poorly at Lafayette over the last few years. I can definitely understand the frustration. I sincerely hope things get better with the new principal!

  • WS choices September 18, 2013 (2:31 pm)

    @pjmanley, I agree with your caution. But just wanted to add that I think (hope) that a WS APP optional path could meet the needs of those of us who have students that are APP qualified but not enrolled. I agree that it won’t be the same quality of the established APP elementary program at TM, but for some families who might want the option of access to curriculum 2 grade levels ahead, it might just be enough. We didn’t enroll in TM because we didn’t feel our kids needed the whole APP package –which includes cohort, emotional and social support. It would be tempting to enroll in an APP WS option path just because of the legal guarantee of access to advanced curriculum.

  • evergreen September 18, 2013 (3:06 pm)

    I am flabbergasted that the district is proposing a permanent K-8 STEM at Boren. What a smart decision! The STEM PTA is a powerhouse and spent countless hours creating a rational plan with supporting data for this transition. I am so, so grateful & will no longer need to investigate private middle school options. Thank you!!!

  • evergreen September 18, 2013 (3:24 pm)

    As a K5 STEM parent, I welcome AH to our campus. I feel that we are both underdog communities in WS and can support one another in becoming really strong schools. It will work out if people remain flexible and creative in solving any minor problems that may pop up. And I think it will be fun for the kids, particularly if there is some chance to interact and become friends — after all, most of them will likely attend the same high school. It definitely opens up more carpooling opportunities for families!

  • A September 18, 2013 (4:41 pm)

    Time to move out of Seattle.

  • Mary September 18, 2013 (5:06 pm)

    I’m frustrated that once again the blog is used to criticize other schools. I don’t know why any school would be considered an “underdog” when it’s not a competition. And the thought that Lafayette parents weren’t supportive of Arbor Heights needing a new building doesn’t mean the current overcrowding at Lafayette is in some way deserved. All kids deserve great schools, so why does it feel like a competition?
    As for Lafayette having a computer lab, that was chosen to be one of the specialists, like PE or music. Each school chooses different subjects (for example, Alki has Spanish), but again the idea on the blog seems to be that Lafayette somehow got something special. The kids do not “prep” for the testing, and we have headphones the same as Arbor Heights. Every school has its issues, but it’s frustrating that Lafayette is sometimes portrayed as a school of rich snobs when in reality it’s just a bunch of regular people trying to their best, just like everyone else.

  • Mary September 18, 2013 (5:13 pm)

    Sorry, I accidentally submitted my comment before I mentioned my original thought–yay for K-8 STEM at Boren!

  • alkiparent September 18, 2013 (8:40 pm)

    I have a child at Alki and will have a K student in 2 years, when the rezoning will go in effect. So, unless they grandfather us in at Alki and allow my 2nd child to attend Alki, I will have my kids at two different schools. I know families in this same situation now where sibling priority is not being honored and how hard that is for them, and with the redrawing of the lines (as one person pointed out–the doubling of the Schmitz area) enrollment is going to make this harder.

    I want to know about how SPS intends to honor sibling priority.

    My other concern is whether demographic information has been properly used in the redrawing of these lines–there may be more kids in some of these areas than these schools can handle.

  • Lynn September 18, 2013 (8:42 pm)


    Fairmount Park will not have a Spectrum program – so that will not be a draw to bring families voluntarily in.

  • AJP September 18, 2013 (9:49 pm)

    My eldest daughter will be entering kindergarten in 2015. I would love to have her be in a bilingual program and Highland Park is our geographical school, so that would be awesome. But now I’m wondering if the APP would be better. She seems to be pretty bright. How early do they test them? Anyone have any thoughts on bilingual vs. APP?

  • wsparent September 18, 2013 (10:18 pm)

    Mixed feelings: We’re at Alki now, but will be in Schmitz Park when this takes effect. We’re happy because we can walk to Schmitz @ Genesee Hill, but I’m hoping that that move will not have to be made until AFTER the Genesee Hill campus is finished… if we have to move next year, then my child will have 2 moves in 2 years. When is this supposed to take effect?

  • m September 18, 2013 (10:55 pm)

    @WSwest – our APP-eligible child is about as far southeast in West Seattle as one can be and still be in West Seattle. As previous posts indicate, many children in West Seattle have not tested because of how far they are from Washington MS. And, although eligible, I chose not to subject my child to such a commute each day and to pursue an alternative option instead. A more centrally located West Seattle APP program would more equitably serve all of the eligible children in our community.

  • wsmama3 September 19, 2013 (8:49 am)

    Fairmount Park will not have a Spectrum program – so that will not be a draw to bring families voluntarily in.”

    Lynn –
    I didn’t say FP would have the spectrum program.

    An assumption might be that some kids who are in spectrum (at L or AH or have tested in but not gotten a spot) might be eligible for APP but parents decided not to send kids to TM (or have not even had them tested). Several L and AH spectrum parents have indicated this – meaning it’s possible kids who had not been tested OR are already in spectrum would attend the APP program at FP.

  • george September 19, 2013 (11:02 am)

    wsparent, that is an interesting dilema. SP@GH’s expected opening is in January. So would you rather have your chil make two sets of friends and move, or just move 2 times? I’d take the latter.

  • Laura September 19, 2013 (8:35 pm)

    Tracy, take a look at WSE scores this year (the old Highpoint Elementary). With 90% poverty rate, it shows that excellent teaching and community engagement can bring about change to our most impoverished schools. We talk about equity and justice and how ‘liberal’ we all are in Seattle. But that’s a bunch of hooey. I’m kind of sick of all the attention going to the STEM school and the culture there – what culture? Does the population there reflect the children living on Delridge? It is an elitest idea that allows fearful parents to give their children an ‘advantage’, or at least that’s what it proports. STEM serves an already affluent population whose white parents can afford to buy matching scarves and sit in meetings. Is that what influences decisions? I think if we want to address and actually care about equity, we would invest ourselves in EVERY neighborhood school. We would demand adequate funding and excellent teaching, insisting that the schools serving the poor receive additional supports, above and beyond schools serving children who are already supported at home; and we wouldn’t pull our own children out to get a ‘superior’ experience (which, btw, means less diversity). We would advocate for and participate in neighborhood schools. That’s my 2 cents. Invest where it counts and society wins.

  • fiverson September 19, 2013 (8:37 pm)

    I am surprised to see what looks like a slightly smaller boundary for Arbor Heights Elementary at the same time they are planning a much larger building? I know some neighborhood students don’t attend now and might once the building is better, but that many? The existing capacity is listed as 353 students (projected enrollment is 354 this year) and the planned new building will hold 500-650. Anyone involved in the project know the reasoning behind the smaller boundary? Is there new housing development happening? Will the boundary be redrawn again when it opens? Is it expecting to attract lots of out of area students with the proposed eSTEM program and be more like an option school?

  • Christine September 19, 2013 (11:12 pm)

    Second J. If you have children who might qualify for APP, but haven’t get them tested because Thurgood Marshall is so far away, have them tested this year, so we can get a West Seattle APP up and running. This should be a great option to an overcrowded school and just gives you more options.

    I am really impressed how SPS turns around and how the school board seems to really listen to parents input for the first time in years. We have lots of little kids here and mistakes have been made in the past, but they work hard to turn it all around and we get more and more options. And almost all our teachers are highly qualified and do their job really well. I, for once, stopped whining about SPS. :-)

  • Westseattlemom September 20, 2013 (6:24 am)

    Every school has a computer lab! The district has them because ALL district testing takes place on them! If your child has taken a MAP test; which all do, they did so in a computer lab. When the labs are being used for testing then kids don’t use the computers to learn on. We live in a hub of technology, computer usage is necessary, for ALL kids! I’m not just advocating for my kid. Longer times taking tests reduces computer usage for all kids at all schools! Big overcrowded schools don’t service ANY children well. I’m sick over the size they are proposing to make Schmitz too- a school for 600?! There are 2 buildings not even being used in this plan- the old Schmitz building and the beautiful school West Side has renovated!!
    Seattle Public Schools is miss-managing our schools because the district is too big! The district is bloated and top heave with administrative positions making more then teaches and adding little value. There is a tree specialist. This person makes over 60K to decide which trees can and can’t be planted. I worked as a teacher in a district the size of West Seattle and we DID NOT have all this in-fighting because the district wasn’t so removed from the schools! Seattle Public Schools is TOO BIG to manage all schools well.

    • WSB September 20, 2013 (8:17 am)

      Westseattlemom – The current Schmitz Park is proposed as an “Early Learning Center”; the current Westside, former EC Hughes, is proposed as an emergency/interim school, since Boren is converting back to a permanent school. Both are mentioned above – but like many parts of the plan, many details remain to be filled out – TR

  • West Seattle Mom September 20, 2013 (7:14 am)

    Thank you Laura! I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • ws September 20, 2013 (9:08 am)

    Westseattlemom – not every school has a computer lab. Many have lost them to handle the overcrowding the district has imposed on them.
    Also, Schmitz is alread at 590 kids due to the grossly oversized boundaries thrown at them. the new building will be over capacity if the new proposed boundaries are left as is.

  • Future FP parent September 20, 2013 (12:26 pm)

    Does anyone know where I’d find SPS projected incoming student demographic profiles for Fairmount Park? Also, in looking over the draft boundaries for FP – where is all this new condo growth to occur as someone alluded to above? I don’t see it. The boundaries don’t go over to California or up to Alaska/Avalon as would seem to make geographical sense. The boundaries primarily encompass SFRs – unless King Country is going to re-zone our neighborhoods. They seem ok on the surface without any further information to consider.

  • Amanda September 20, 2013 (2:02 pm)

    Does it look like they are going to combine Roxhill and West Seattle Elementary by 2020? Please tell me I am reading that wrong.

    • WSB September 20, 2013 (2:20 pm)

      That would be quite a far geographic stretch. I have not been able to go back and re-read everything; it’s on my agenda for the weekend. What are you seeing that’s making you think that? – TR

  • Amanda September 20, 2013 (3:08 pm)

    On the map – Page 14 “DRAFT Growth Boundary – September 17, 2013
    Elem School Attendance Area Changes” There is a section over to the left that has a key then ElemAA2013 ElemAA2020. I bet I’m just reading it wrong?

  • wsmama3 September 20, 2013 (6:17 pm)

    Laura – Come look at STEM.
    “What Culture?” – come LOOK. Our “geozone” includes all of High Point and the neighborhood around the school so we have a diverse student population – besides a lot of families who opted in who are diverse.

    At $20 SUGGESTED donation for a scarf, and families being GIVEN scarves through the just ask no questions asked uniform closet – you might want to get your facts straight before you bash a school community.

    As for the families who can attend a meeting – I am for one thankful we have a community that supports the entire school community and neighborhood by doing what they can when they can.

    Neighborhood schools are a great idea – but for those of us who came from those schools the option of STEM (hence the name “option school”) offers something different – Project Based Learning.

    Stop by, ask for a tour. Come to the Open Houses in February – but don’t say hurtful things when you have not vetted your “facts”

  • kayo September 21, 2013 (7:34 am)

    I am a Delrisge resident who is thrilled that the stem school is staying at Boren. It is good for our neighborhood. Many kids from the neighborhood will have a school closer to us and more demographically similar to the population that lives here than the neighborhood school SPS has us placed in. I am also grateful to the stem school for being willing to look past the negative attitudes some people have of this area and embrace the Boren site and neighborhood as their own. Not every child will thrive in a traditional learning environment and I am happy to see that there will also be an additional alternative to the existing middle schools. It all makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Delridge deserves to have a thriving school at Boren instead of an abandoned derelict building. This neighbor is happy. BTW I am not a stem parent.

  • Laura September 21, 2013 (8:17 am)

    I have visited STEM. Nice kids and school. Still an elitist idea that takes our eye off the ball in serving EVERY child and in creating equitable schools. $20 a scarf – blows my mind! And, I’m sorry, but it does seem our district leaders are somehow deeply influenced by matching scarves. The tail wagging the dog. Our focus should be on requiring quality instruction, family engagement, and excellent outcomes from all schools, with particular focus on impoverished communities. That’s how you close the achievement gap, improve scores, and create meaningful change across the district.

  • Westseattlemom September 21, 2013 (9:15 am)

    Ws- my main point isn’t computer labs! We ALL want the same thing- and should expect good schools for all. Mega-schools are the way SPS is going. Pushing 600 kids into any elementary school is disgusting. Most of us attended schools with 200-300 max, Schmitz and Lafayette now have schools at 580+ go by one of these schools on a Friday and look at the secretary & staff they are exhausted. AH new capacity is up to 650. And STEM I know your excited and it’s nice that you invested in your school, but imagine Boren full- it was a high school. The District keeps adding admin jobs at their end and continues to cut basic funding, art, music, all the things that make school fun. This week one of our best teachers, was promoted to a district job, leaving a whole class in flux; the same way they keep leaving local families in flux over our schools. My point is: big mega schools do not service children well AND the district is too big to manage all the schools well!! People have to go down to the district, like STEM, over and over again make the same point to get anything accomplished! Not all schools have a community who can do this. A smaller district IS more intuned to it’s families. Smaller schools, a smaller school district, paying more attention to ALL students is my point!

  • AH Parent September 21, 2013 (10:15 am)

    @fiverson – when comparing the existing AH boundary to the one proposed the new boundary line actually extends a bit further North and East and West of 35th which makes the new footprint larger not smaller taking on a bit of what is currently Gatewood and West Seattle Elem. The current population of AH is approx. 365. AH continues to be a draw to families living outside the AH zone – a fabulous principal, a diverse community, strong parent involvement, awesome teachers, a new building on the horizon, eSTEM emphasis, Spectrum, a new math ciriculum

  • vs September 21, 2013 (11:03 am)

    My family is new to STEM, but I am annoyed by the bashing. I’ve been following the situation closely, and it seems to me that, rather than scarves, the district was persuaded by a very well thought out and articulated counter proposal (odd, because that has almost never happened before). Twenty dollar scarves are no more egregious than the overpriced wreathes and cookie dough I’ve bought in other fundraising ventures. And this PTA, to the best of my knowledge, started with no, or next to no, money.

    Having had children at a variety of schools, I can attest to the fact that STEM is much more diverse than any affluent neighborhood school and many, if not most, option schools. While diversity could increase, it does a reasonable job reflecting the greater Delridge area, and with its geozone gives preference to one of the areas of greatest need. I have no idea how you could characterize this as elitist,giving an additional opportunity to our traditionally underserved area.

    BTW, when we started our SPS journey in this particular area, I felt deeply committed to our title 1 neighborhood school. But within a couple of years, I was basically told in no uncertain terms that they were not interested in meeting the needs of my child. Although I wanted the very best for the entire school and frequently volunteered and “insisted” to the district, my child’s growth and happiness were not sacrifices I was willing to make. Many other families in her class level have left for STEM or advanced learning. So the next time we had a school to pick for K, we tried for the one that we genuinely thought would best meet the needs of our particular child.

    It is the responsibility of the neighborhood schools to serve the wide variety of families that come to them if they expect to retain all of the engaged families who would be excited to contribute. Many don’t, and it’s not possible for a few parents to change that.

  • Get it Right September 21, 2013 (12:26 pm)

    STEM parents – please know that most parents I know in WS are thrilled and amazed by your success, and totally agree that bashing of any kind of any school is completely inappropriate (believe me, other school’s have suffered bashing too so I feel your pain). I’d encourage you to not misinterpret a few angry comments on the blog as representative of WS. As these boundary talks proceed, it is in WS’s interest to remember that ALL schools are trying their very best and want the best for their kids/communities too, and some are just so darn tired/frustrating from YEARS of advocating for their needs without as much success….and as a result, are praying for a bit of relief from the terrible overcrowding ever since Cooper and other schools were closed. From my perspective, hurrah for STEM, and please SPS please fix some of the crazy boundaries that still exist in this version before things are finalized.

    • WSB September 21, 2013 (12:31 pm)

      Please also remember that there is a public meeting – and in our six years of intensive West Seattle coverage, with all the Seattle Public Schools trials, tribulations, and – community-driven – triumphs! – we HAVE seen change result from meeting turnout. Not always, but if you don’t go, you’ll never know, so everyone interested, please remember the September 25th meeting, this Wednesday, 6:30 pm in the WSHS Commons.- TR

  • AHParent September 22, 2013 (3:30 pm)

    If a big jump in middle school and high school enrollment is being predicted in the upcoming five to six years, then wouldn’t it make sense to have a third middle school and high school in WS?

    Pathfinder’s 6 to 8 has not taken off any burden from Denny. In fact there are a number of Pathfinder kids at Denny.

    Like the joint Denny and Sealth international schools, there could be a joint STEM middle and high school.

    Denny is our feeder school and I have student there and while I had the expected concerns of my middle schooler being with high schoolers, I now embrace it. My child is on a seven year campus and her transition from middle school to high school will be relatively seamless. The staff at both schools collaborate to align curriculum. The high schoolers and middle schoolers are kept separate except for mentoring, band and orechestra. The start and end times are staggered so the students are not all on the grounds at the same time. The interactions between the middle schoolers and high schoolers that I have heard about are positive.

    As a parent with a child who will be entering middle school in six years, I prefer that she not be on the Denny and Sealth campus bursting at the seams and crowded with portables. I really hope the capacity scenerios for WS are being well vetted out and planned for by the SPS capacity management staff. We don’t need to be revisiting these issues in five to six years, because of poor planning. We have experienced enough of this already.

  • WSparentoftwo September 23, 2013 (1:21 pm)

    I’m wondering under this plan if students who attend a certain school base on address but now are part of another school zone will have to move to the new school they are assigned to, or will they be grandfathered in to their current school. My child attends WS and is actually quite happy. Would he have to switch to FP next year? Wasn’t sure about that.

  • KParent September 24, 2013 (12:00 am)

    VW- We also thought that STEM would have best met the needs of our kindergartener. Unfortunately he did not make it through the waitlist. I am very happy for those who did get in but the families left in their attendance school now have even less of a voice. Hardly equitable. If Boren is not at capacity (or even if it was) why doesn’t it take it’s share of some of the kids from the very overcrowded schools nearby that really want a STEM education but have not been given the option (pun intended).

  • evergreen September 24, 2013 (12:05 am)

    Laura — K5STEM was open the first year to absolutely anyone who applied, and no one was turned away. Latest numbers show 5STEM is 34% free and reduced lunch, 18% special education, only 50% white. Please compare these numbers to Lafayette and Schmitz Park, and you will see our population is less affluent and more ethnically diverse. Our geozone will draw from West Seattle Elementary, which is 90% free and reduced lunch and 10% white. How diverse is your kid’s school?

  • sam-c September 24, 2013 (3:46 pm)

    so I wonder if Seattle Schools is factoring charter schools (if and when any of those open here) in their decision making…..

  • realist September 26, 2013 (1:52 pm)

    “As a K5 STEM parent, I welcome AH to our campus”

    I understand that K-5 STEM has been forewarned that, come the next BTA levy, Boren may not remain “their” campus.

    WS will experience a crisis situation for high school. The building needs for a high school are far more costly and complex than for an elementary or K-8. Sealth will need the Denny space and Denny will need Boren. Then what? Did the expert demographers at the K-5 PTA think that one through?

  • Ms. A October 7, 2013 (10:31 pm)

    @Laura – I echo the comments of evergreen. STEM is 34% FRL, 18% special ed and 50% white. If you only base your impression on the white moms who have been able to show up to district meetings (and wear a school spirit scarf – which is donated, by the way, to anyone who asks or who volunteers in any capacity), then you are missing the bigger issue that perhaps not all parents at STEM can attend these meetings. So, we have PTA meetings monthly in the evening and invite all parents to attend other events when they can. Since all parents can’t attend meetings, we listened to input from all parents, and the majority of parents told the PTA that they wanted to stay at Boren and expand the STEM program to more kids. Moving us to the old Schimitz Park building would have limited access to just 2 classes per grade, and put our geo-zone in a not very ethnically or economically diverse area. The school district was swayed not by white faces with scarves, but by a level-headed proposal that was supported by our diverse community of parents, our amazing teachers, and the larger Delridge community.

    I agree that we should focus on bridging the achievement gap in low income schools so that every child can succeed no matter their economic background. STEM is doing this – we try very hard to ensure that any student, regardless of financial ability, has the same classroom tools, access to field trips, and access to before- and after-school programs as any “affluent” student. And, to say that STEM is a waste of time is a bit insulting to parents who live in our geo-zone and chose STEM because of the opportunities it affords. In my son’s class, there are kids from Ethiopia, 2nd language learners, and kids with IEPs. And, he loves to go to school with children from so many different cultures. The school community does not reflect only the “north-end” of West Seattle or the “south-end” of West Seattle, but reflects the entire neighborhood. How is this a bad thing?

    @realist – Sealth may need more space soon, but the fault was with the school district for failing to build a bigger school. It would make more sense to add structures to the campus rather than take a building away from a thriving school to meet its needs – which by then will be near 800+ capacity with a middle school.

Sorry, comment time is over.