FOLLOWUP: See the new Seattle Public Schools enrollment projections that led to last-minute teacher-staff changes

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

On Thursday afternoon, the Seattle School Board has 15 minutes set aside for a public hearing on next year’s school budgets.

In the wake of this week’s announcement of teacher-staffing changes at local schools – with Chief Sealth International High School told to cut the equivalent of three full-time positions – some plan to be there to speak out.

When we first reported the changes on Monday, the only attendance projections for next year that were publicly available were estimates made in February and included in the district’s “budget book.”

Today, the district made its newest projections public – the ones, we’re told, on which the staffing changes were based. You can see them here. The local schools with double-digit changes from the February projections are:

Arbor Heights Elementary – 23 more than previously projected
Chief Sealth IHS – 73 fewer than previously projected
Denny IMS – 13 fewer than previously projected
Louisa Boren STEM K-8 – 20 more than previously projected
Lafayette Elementary – 19 more than previously projected
Madison MS – 29 more than previously projected
Schmitz Park Elementary – 13 more than previously projected
West Seattle HS – 79 more than previously projected
West Seattle Elementary – 21 fewer than previously projected

Shortly after seeing those numbers today, we spoke with the district’s enrollment manager, Ashley Davies, about the trends and what they are watching for another potential round of changes in fall.

Davies told us that the projection changes for Sealth and WSHS are because of “fewer 9th grade residents” in the Sealth attendance area and more in the WSHS area “than we anticipated.” She added, “We have seen more students in the Chief Sealth area who have opted into option schools like Cleveland, NOVA, Center School, schools that only get students through the open-enrollment choice process across the district.”
Also, she said, “there were more students from the Sealth attendance area who applied to WSHS than the other way around … The district does have a neighborhood model, but we do value choice for our families, so they can choose another school.”

The school-choice process closes May 31st, Davies said, and that is why these projections arrived with less than a week left in the school year.

Regarding choice, we asked her about the contention/suspicion some commenters voiced that prospective students might have been directed away from Sealth. Davies said, “To my knowledge, there was no instance in which families had been directed away from Sealth … (but) it does come to a point where a school is limited in its capacity and we might not be able to offer as many seats. … Initially, though, we had seen, based on Sealth and WSHS enrollment from last year, we did anticipate more students at Sealth than at WSHS and they do have similar capacities …” But as of now, she said “both have (room) so it’s not an instance where we need to ensure that one school doesn’t get full.”

The trend could continue, she acknowledged, because the north West Seattle increases/south West Seattle decreases are also playing out at elementary schools. She said the district is “trying to find ways to closely monitor what’s going on in the individual attendance areas – some of the things are happening at a pace that we can’t necessarily predict.” One way in which she said they hope to do that is to “partner with school leaders around finding out ways in which neighborhoods are changing and how that will impact their individual schools.”

How this week’s teacher-staffing-change orders will affect schools, we don’t yet know; administrators were told to come up with their plan by week’s end. Meantime, Thursday’s public hearing on school budgets is set for 4:30 pm at district HQ in SODO (3rd and Lander) – if you’re interested in speaking, the agenda says, just show up.

14 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: See the new Seattle Public Schools enrollment projections that led to last-minute teacher-staff changes"

  • Skeptical of School District June 23, 2016 (7:56 am)

    Who wants to bet me that these projections are proven inaccurate come September? This happens every single year. At least they’re just firing teachers instead of closing schools.

  • Stop the Violence June 23, 2016 (8:51 am)

    The multiple reports of police involvement and necessary presence at and around Sealth most likely has something to do with the numbers. We are constantly reading on here about guns at school or robberies on way to school at Sealth and until that changes the enrollment numbers at Denny and Sealth will continue to drop. We live closer to Sealth than WSHS but won’t even consider it as a option.

  • Superoptimistic June 23, 2016 (9:30 am)

    I hear ya, STV.  We go to Stem, and I love the school and staff- but we don’t walk there!

  • Admiral Mom June 23, 2016 (11:55 am)

    This is VERY suspicious. I see a trend here. Lower income neighborhoods/students/families getting the short end of the stick. The district manipulates us blatantly and this is unacceptable. We need answers

  • JR June 23, 2016 (12:39 pm)

     This is just  demographics people, it’s not a conspiracy.  A decade ago it was WSHS on the losing end of the shift.  That “lower income = short stick” comment isn’t in line w/ facts; the money follows the students, and families do get some choice.  In fact, CSIHS was getting a flood of extra resources from the District for its IB program, and was recruiting families from Madison (the WSHS feeder).  This is just the fading of that bubble, and a natural adjustment.   In fact, this will probably move the two schools’ respective enrollments a bit closer to balanced (WSHS has been roughly a couple hundred students smaller for a while now).  I do hope that the District is doing a good job with it’s crystal ball, because even though these adjustments may be justified, they’re still disruptive to the schools’ programs.

    • WSB June 23, 2016 (1:01 pm)

      If you look at the new projections list we linked, in full, it shows WSHS and CSIHS as fewer than 100 students apart next year, if this bears out.

    • manolita June 23, 2016 (3:12 pm)

      I agree “the money follows the students” and that is why the SPS antics are unacceptable. They are deliberately sending the students to WSHS and decimating the CSIHS community. Exchange students wanting to enter the International High School in this are were told there was no room so they were directed to WSHS along with the tuition money they bring.

      Equity and social justice, that is all we want. And proper education to all students across the district.

  • Doree Fazio-Young June 23, 2016 (2:33 pm)

    This whole district is in trouble people. And STV yes we do have some problems at CSI and DIMS with police calls and weapons but I will bet you all Seattle Public Schools have the same problem we just believe in being honest with our community. Take the time to walk in the 2 buildings. I’ve worked at this double school campus for 5 years and I’ve been with Denny for 20 years as a Lunch Lady I believe in these 2 schools I sent my children here and my Granddaughter will be starting Denny in the fall. It seems we always get the short end of the stick here at “The Other Middle and High Schools “here in West Seattle  We need to fix this District and then maybe the Schools will get the proper attention 

  • L.L June 23, 2016 (3:06 pm)


    Today we found out that an ELL student who has attended Sealth
    for 2 years is being told she will attend West Seattle High School  in the
    fall because she  moved into the zone designated for West Seattle High
    School. She still resides in West Seattle. In fact, Chief Sealth is 1.7 miles
    from her house and West Seattle is 3.5.  The student is devastated by the
    news.  I am writing to you because of your experience and expertise with
    the needs of ELL students.  I know you are aware how difficult it is for
    an ELL student to move, find new support systems, learn a new school system and
    to build a new community at a new school.  This is also true for the
    parents. The ELL department has developed a relationship with Z.J.’s parents
    and they freely visit the school and discuss the progress of their children.
    There is also the matter of proximity to the school, Sealth is half the
    distance.   Next year will be her senior year. Her brother graduated
    from Sealth this year.  I don’t know how in good conscience we can deny this
    student the right to attend Sealth next year.  There is also her younger
    sister to consider, who as an incoming freshman has also been assigned to West
    Seattle.  This situation creates a feeling of frustration and helplessness
    for all of those involved.  The best interest of the student is certainly
    not being taken into account with this mandatory unwanted transfer.  I am
    asking that you investigate this situation and intercede if necessary on behalf
    of the student.


    • manolita June 23, 2016 (3:54 pm)

      L.L, I will be happy to provide assistance and connect the family to the appropriate department. I am an ELL family representative at my son’s school and understand the ELL community, their struggles and benefits they bring to our schools. Please feel free to email me directly at

  • fatkitty June 23, 2016 (3:33 pm)

    STV  bashing other schools are not helping the problem, you are part of the problem.  Bashing other schools (or the neighborhood your school is in in Superoptomistics case) is making the problems worse.  You are basically bashing kids by saying one school is better than the other because you are talking about OUR KIDS HERE.  You are saying that the kids who go to WS are better than those who go to Sealth.  

  • Stop the Violence June 23, 2016 (8:56 pm)

    I’m pretty sure nowhere in my comment did I mention the kids attending either schools or classifying either student body as better or worse than the other. I stated my opinion on why the possible change in enrollment numbers. I have been inside and toured the middle schools and high schools in our area and am aware of the pros and cons of them all. I also have a child that for the sake of his safety, well being and education I lost faith in Seattle Public Schools and chose to send him to private school now. The schools are in a competition to receive all the funding it possibly can qualify for but I can assure you it’s not being used on the students or the programs. I hope that Seattle Public Schools can get its act together but it’s now 2016 and nothing has changed they are still as dysfunctional now as they were in the 70’s and 80’s when my two siblings and I attended Whitworth Elementary, Gatewood, South Shore, Denny and Chief Sealth. 

  • Monica June 24, 2016 (8:59 am)

    Four words for you parents.  Vashon Island High Schoool!  I had had it with Seattle Public Schools.  My kids attended MS and HS and they received a better education for it.  Beautiful new HS, great teachers, small classroom size, great sports and activities.  Look into it.

  • Admiral Mom June 24, 2016 (11:04 am)

    Monica, do they have world languages at Vashon?

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