Changes to Eckstein Middle School’s attendance area and yet another shuffling of APP students and schools — changes made public only five days ago — will be introduced to the Seattle School Board this evening, to be voted on at the following regular meeting of the School Board on November 20…
In a reply to emails voicing concerns about the new Growth Boundary maps released on Friday, November 1, School Board Director Harium Martin-Morris sent the following response:
I am writing in response to your email regarding the November 1st version on the Growth Boundary Plan. As written, I do not support the plan and along with Director De Bell will be offer an amendment that will go back to the previous version of the plan with the following changes:
* Assign NE APP students to the new James Addams Middle School starting in 2014
* Have a maximum of 3 classes per grade level at James Addams Middle School
* Assign others APP to Hamilton until Wilson Pacific Middle School is online. At that point Hamilton would also go to the 3 classroom per grade and all others go to Wilson Pacific
That would mean that the middle school and elementary attendance areas in the NE would go back to October 16th revision with some minor changes basis on community input.
At this time, we have heard that only two Directors are openly in support of the amendment: Martin-Morris and DeBell. In order for the amendment to pass, it needs support from four of the seven members of the board.
If you are in support of the previous plan, Wedgwood Elementary PTA President Terri Green recommends that you “keep sending e-mails to the entire School Board [...] voicing your concerns about the plan released last Friday and attend the meeting at the John Stanford Center (2445 3rd Avenue South) this afternoon at 4:15 pm. We need to turn out in force so the School Board can see how many folks are dissatisfied with the November 1 boundary proposal.”
Contact info for all seven Seattle School Board Directors can be found in this latest issue of the Wedgwood Weekly (upper right hand corner)
On Sunday, November 3, the SNAPP (North Seattle Accelerated Progress Program) PTA said on its website it “maintains its position that splitting the APP Middle School and co-housing with attendance area schools is not in the best interest of our community or helpful with the overcrowding in the north end. Although many APP MS students come from the Whitman and Eckstein reference area, putting APP in these schools would only serve to further crowd them and keep reference area kids out.”
On Monday at a Call to Action meeting at Wedgwood Elementary that over 200 parents attended, many voiced surprise over the revisions made to the previous Growth Boundary maps (released on October 16), as well as bewilderment over why the November revisions were made in the first place. And no explanation for the changes — released last Friday at 7 PM ahead of a Wednesday meeting — were given by the School Board.
Eckstein Middle School PTSA President Tobi Bet, speaking at Monday’s meeting said, “No rhyme or reason to this. None.”
On Tuesday, the Wedgwood Community Council issued a “formal letter of concern” about the boundary changes, which they said “did not allow critical stakeholders adequate time to review and consider the changes relative to potential alternatives.”
And this morning, Ravenna-Bryant Community Association released a letter of their own, which urges the School Board to reconsider the latest boundary changes (via email):
Dear Board of Directors:
On behalf of the Ravenna Bryant Community Association Board of Directors, I ask that the school boundaries proposed on Friday November 1st not be adopted because they do not meet three of the four core values for Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan.
The four core values of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan are:
- Community - developing strong connections between a diverse range of people and places
- Environmental Stewardship - protect and improve the quality of our global and local natural environment
- Economic Opportunity and Security - a strong economy and a pathway to employment is fundamental to maintaining our quality of life
- Social Equity - limited resources and opportunities must be shared; and the inclusion of under-represented communities in decision-making processes is necessary
Our neighborhood schools create a strong sense of Community because families can walk to school, for the school day as well as extracurricular activities. The new boundary proposal would erode this sense of community by forcing kids to attend a school miles away, instead of blocks.
Our neighborhood schools allow families to walk, bike, or carpool to school which not only creates community but also helps meet the City’s Environmental Stewardship goals. Eckstein has a successful walk and bike to school program that would be destroyed by these new boundaries.
The last minute release of the proposed boundaries, given at the late hour of 7 p.m. on a Friday night for a Wednesday meeting, does not adhere to the City’s Core Value of Social Equity. Our community is left scrambling at the last minute to provide alternatives and organize ourselves.
The Ravenna Bryant Community Association urges the School Board to reject these new boundaries, and demands that the Seattle School District create new boundaries that honor the core principals put forth in the City of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan. Please consider moving the boundaries for Eckstein further north, at least to NE 95th, and find room for the APP at Hamilton in the south wing of Lincoln High School.
Tonight’s regular meeting of the Seattle School Board starts at 4:15 PM at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (2445 3rd Avenue S).
The agenda for tonight’s meeting is available here (PDF). Public testimony is scheduled to start at 5 PM for those 25 speakers who were pre-selected; an additional 63 on the wait list), with the Action Items and Introduction Items portion scheduled to start at 6 PM.
School Board meetings are streamed live online (though not for iOS users, it seems) and broadcast on Channel 26 (Seattle Public School TV).
We will have live coverage of tonight’s meeting below, if we can. We’ll be watching along at home, and taking notes.
UPDATE (2:29 PM): It is our understanding from a Keep Wedgwood Neighborhood Kids at Eckstein Facebook page post by Wedgwood Elementary School PTA President Terri Green that the newest version of the Growth Boundaries map AND Director Harium Martin-Morris’ amendment will BOTH be introduced at the meeting tonight, and voting will take place on both at the next School Board meeting on November 20. In case there was confusion on the order of things.
Also, hot out of the Ravenna Blog Email Inbox, a letter on the recent boundary plan changes by Representative Gerry Pollet:
Dear Board members and Superintendent Banda,
As with many of my neighbors, I was also shocked by this last minute change to the assignment plan proposals, which had never been presented at a public meeting. The proposal would dramatically undermine much of the benefits achieved by the District in adopting a neighborhood assignment plan. It is unacceptable that students immediately north of 75th – within sight of Eckstein – would be assigned to Addams.
When I heard from neighbors about this change to the Plan, I reviewed the materials prepared for the Board’s meeting and was dismayed that they do not disclose this impact in plain language. One has to first review the detailed map and wade through the bureaucratic lingo to piece together that this dramatic change to our community would be put in place in September.
Students in the Wedgwood Elementary assignment zone between NE 75th (where Eckstein is) and NE 95th, would be walking to school where there are no sidewalks and a very dangerous arterial on a steep hill to cross. Ironically, our community has been working with the City to improve the crosswalks, signals and speed on NE 75thto allow students to safely cross to and from Eckstein. We can reduce transportation costs and increase safety by amending this plan to resume having Wedgwood Elementary feed Eckstein.
I am all too well aware of the incredible overcapacity problem at Eckstein, coupled with ancient portables and other capacity issues. This latest proposal is not a solution for that problem. As you know, along with my colleagues, I have worked to bring significant funding and resources to reopen and renovate schools to address the overcrowding across NE and N Seattle. We will continue to work with the District to procure funds – and hope that the District will work with the City and your legislative delegation to obtain new properties near the core of our overcrowding problems, e.g., Roosevelt Reservoir and Lake City Pierre properties.
The community south of NE 50th Street had to petition and organize to be kept together with their neighborhood assignment to Bryant Elementary in the last set of decisions. It is disheartening that this effort and commitment to that community would be ignored again in the latest boundary change proposal – again without having provided the community a chance to comment at the meetings. The repeated need to organize communities to have the same discussion about integrity of neighborhoods and stability in assignments undermines the excellent progress made by the District in the School Assignment Plan.
Representative Gerry Pollet
46th District (Northeast and North Seattle, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore)