Schools’ revised plan reflects feedback
The district has made several revisions to its school-assignment boundary plan, which includes moving the Jane Addams K-8 school to a different location until its new building is ready.
Seattle Times education reporter
Round Two of the Seattle school district’s proposed overhaul of school-assignment boundaries would send the students in the K-8 school now housed in the Jane Addams building in northeast Seattle to a temporary home starting next fall.
The move would send the K-8 program to the former John Marshall alternative-high school until a new building is ready and speed up the transition of the Jane Addams building to a much-needed additional middle school to ease overcrowding north of the Ship Canal.
It’s one of several adjustments the district has made to the initial proposal it presented last month to ease overcrowding, make room for even more growth and fit new schools into an already complicated student-assignment plan.
After releasing the first draft, the district held five public meetings to get feedback, and nearly 900 people attended.
“Everybody won’t be happy with what they’re going to see, but I think a lot of people will see that we really did listen,” said enrollment manager Tracy Libros.
This latest version won’t be the last — the School Board won’t vote on a final plan until Nov. 20 — and the district stresses that most of the changes will be phased in over several years as schools are renovated or built new.
Other changes to the initial proposal, which were posted Friday evening on the school district’s website, include:
• Reserving the new Wilson-Pacific Elementary School for academically advanced students in the Accelerated Progress Program (APP) and reserving the new Olympic Hills Elementary School for neighborhood kids. APP kids living north of the Ship Canal would all start at Wilson-Pacific Elementary and then attend either Wilson-Pacific, Jane Addams or Hamilton middle schools.
• Keeping Hawthorne Elementary School in Southeast Seattle part of the Mercer Middle School cluster instead of moving it into the area for Aki Kurose Middle School. But that means Kimball Elementary School would shift from the Mercer attendance area to the Washington Middle School area. Wing Luke Elementary would remain in the Aki Kurose area instead of joining Mercer.
• Keeping the children who live in the High Point mixed-income housing community in West Seattle together at West Seattle Elementary, which makes more room at Fairmount Park Elementary School for children from a geographically wider area.
• Keeping the kids in the Yesler Terrace mixed-income housing community in the Central Area together at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School instead of dividing them among Thurgood Marshall Elementary School and Madrona K-8. Gatzert also would stay in the Washington Middle School area instead of being assigned to the new Meany Middle School.
Keeping the kids from High Point and Yesler Terrace together illustrates the kinds of trade-offs that district officials are struggling to reconcile.
Officials wanted to boost the socioeconomic diversity in the surrounding elementary schools, but that might have undermined the efforts of agencies and community organizations that serve the families at High Point and Yesler Terrace.
“That’s a philosophical issue, which way you go with that,” Libros said. “By splitting up that community, we created more diversity, but we destroyed the benefit of a lot of that work.”
In the case of Fairmount Park, the district also heard complaints from parents who live close enough to see the new school, but fell outside the attendance zone, which had to be drawn tightly to accommodate the High Point kids.
“This was kind of win-win,” Libros said. “By pulling the High Point students back into West Seattle where they’re getting a lot of services and so much work’s been done, then the Fairmount Park boundary could get bigger.”
But even in the new version, Fairmount won’t have room for everyone. The district estimates that the Fairmount Park building is the closest school for 715 kids, but it is being built for 500.
It will be the School Board’s job to decide which policy goals should trump when they’re in conflict, said Assistant Superintendent Lester “Flip” Herndon Jr. The board has added a work session next Thursday to sort that out.
“When we have a conflict, we need to know which of these guiding principles the board wants us to continue to pursue,” Herndon said. “What is going to be the overriding principle when you have two or three colliding?”
The district anticipates it will have to make further revisions after hearing more from the board and the public, before submitting a formal plan on Nov. 6, on which the board plans to vote at its Nov. 20 meeting.
About 400 people volunteered to walk the proposed boundaries to see if they made sense. In all, the district has received 2,235 comments since last May and expects more before the final vote.
John Higgins: 206-464-3145 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jhigginsST