Changes to Eckstein attendance area to be introduced at tonight’s School Board meeting (UPDATE)

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…

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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.

Regards,

Harium Martin-Morris

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.

Sincerely,

Tony Provine

RBCA President

 

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)

 

Rebecca November 7, 20139:49 AM

They’ve moved on to other Introduction Items now, so I think that’s it for the Growth Boundaries discussion. Thanks for following along.

Rebecca November 7, 20139:48 AM

Martin-Morris, clarifying to Peaslee: Our amendment would roll back to the NE section of the Growth Boundaries map to Version 2, with a few other details needing adjusting.

Rebecca November 7, 20139:15 AM

McLaren: Talked with Jane Addams principal about this?

Staff: Not at this stage. Executive Director, yes. Hamilton, yes. All agree on the three classes per grade model as a strong one. From Advanced Learning Task Force two years ago. Meeting scheduled this Friday with Jane Addams representative.

Rebecca November 7, 20139:13 AM

Smith-Blum: We owe it to families to involve them on a deep level in the strategic planning. Much I like about the amendment, but feels it’s most important to bring it to the families affected.

Quality of the program first. Buy-in from families AND instructors. We missed an opportunity, but it’s not too late.

Rebecca November 7, 20139:09 AM

[It was at this point on the night of the meeting that I could no longer continue the live coverage. However, I am now (Thursday, November 7) filling in my notes from the rest of the event.]

Rebecca November 7, 20139:07 AM

DeBell: Tried to work backwards from a completed WIlson-Pacific timeline

Rebecca November 6, 20138:36 PM

Martin-Morris: Feedback received so far: 90% of folks were almost there with Version 2. Needed some tweaks. “Version three throw everyone for a loop.”

Rebecca November 6, 20138:35 PM

DeBell: Goal is not to just keep APP happy. This affects all North end schools. Want to make them all balanced. Idea is make every middle school balanced.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:33 PM

Smith-Blum: Engagement with APP families at the various affected schools?

Carr: Not happy! Feedback clear: Not happy with direction of Plan 3.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:31 PM

DeBell: Students get good start, teachers are hired and trained, not taken from other schools, reduces disruption (plan 3 maximizes disruption), increase diversity in these schools. (3 would create the lowest poverty/least diverse schools in the district).

First take on the planned amendment.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:29 PM

DeBell: APP cohort in Jane Addams, cohort size of 270. Relieves overcrowding at Hamilton. Again at Wilson-Pacific in three years, and again at another predictable interval in a predictable way.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:28 PM

DeBell speaking about APP. Says he’s the lone supporter of a three-site option.

Significant growth problem. If we stick to middle attendance area as a unit, we get overloaded programs.

Exploring APP students in North Seattle, and breaking them into new units not defined by middle schools. Enrollment balanced at three sites, with targeted sizes of 270 students (three classes per grade in 6, 7, 8).

Rebecca November 6, 20138:23 PM

DeBell: Dearborn Park question.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:20 PM

Important note from someone watching at home:

If amendment info is due to staff by Friday, any weekend coffee talks you might have with School Board Directors about their amendments will HAVE NO EFFECT.

[Note: Not sure if the NO EFFECT is now correct; however, we are unsure at this time (Thursday, November 7) of the workflow between staffers, Directors, and suggestions made over the coming weekend by parents.]

Rebecca November 6, 20138:19 PM

Patu: Question about Kimball being sent so far away.

Staff: One of the goals with construction is to “right size” the schools.

(More on Central area stuff…)

Rebecca November 6, 20138:17 PM

Peaslee: How do you (staff) want us to work with you on writing these amendments?

(Have Board members not done this before? Written amendments to Items? Maybe she just means these in particular?)

Staff: In writing, by Friday.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:15 PM

Carr: Lot of misunderstanding with our families about how much of this happens NEXT fall.
Staffer: Some families concerned about changes next fall, and some farther down the road (2nd grader now becoming a 6th grader eventually).
Carr: More info about how Jane Addams happens by the fall. Too much a leap of faith right now.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:12 PM

Program placements also to be considered: APP, special ed, for example.

Question time from board members.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:11 PM

Staffer: School student numbers growing, and will continue to do so. Capacity being challenged. Many points of feedback considered from many groups. Challenging task and deeply personal to families. Not taken lightly, but must be addressed.

Many interconnected, moving pieces.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:08 PM

Intro Item NUMBER 5. Smith-Blum joking that it’s a small one that will be moved through quickly. Ha ha.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:06 PM

DeBell does not agree with Patu’s closure talk statements.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:05 PM

Patu addressing now that the school system did not support the program. Talked of closing it, repeatedly. That talk goes not serve the students needs.

Rebecca November 6, 20138:04 PM

School as a lighthouse of the community. Nice turn of phrase, Director Patu.

Rebecca November 6, 20137:57 PM

Peaslee speaking now about some of those various shifts now. (The Pinehurst issue is not one I am very familiar with, but I wanted to mention some of the options discussed for it as they do ripple through the rest of the North/Northeast.)

Rebecca November 6, 20137:54 PM

At this time, no immediate and permanent site for next fall. There are options for other locations in the near term.
Main interim sites considered:
Move to Van Asselt (FAR away), then back to NE. 90% of kids live within 1-1.5 miles of the school.
Move to south wing of Lincoln. Not as far, but other school shifts may happen in that space.
Decatur in 2016. As Thornton Creek will have its new location built and occupied at that time.
Colocation of Pinehurst with Thornton Creek. Concerns: K-5 + K-8, and TC parents not so interested in that. Conversation scheduled this month (November 13) about this topic; supplemental report to School Board with this additional input to come.
Indian Heritage colocation.
Wilson-Pacific colocation.

Rebecca November 6, 20137:48 PM

Pinehurst costs $3K more per student than the other K-8s in the district. Primary driver of the superintendent’s decision.

Rebecca November 6, 20137:47 PM

Pinehurst piece related to Growth Boundaries and Capacity Management items (next two items after).

Rebecca November 6, 20137:45 PM

Closure of Pinehurst K-8 Introduction Item now.

Rebecca November 6, 20137:42 PM

Still here. Into the Halloween candy now. Still two more items to go.

Edit: Dinner eaten before candy.

Rebecca November 6, 20137:23 PM

Two more.

Rebecca November 6, 20137:12 PM

One Intro Item down, three to go until Growth Boundaries.

Rebecca November 6, 20137:08 PM

Just realized that I forgot to have dinner.

Action Items still going. Almost done.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:51 PM

From earlier, via Q13FOX on twitter:

VIDEO: Seattle parents sound off on school boundaries http://t.co/Kka6VBoN0t

Rebecca November 6, 20136:49 PM

Looking at the Action Items on the agenda now. One of them is on the self-evaluation. No boundary stuff — they’re all Introduction Items.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:47 PM

Reconvening now. Harp music off.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:46 PM

The meeting break music on TV is some pokey tinkly clarinet nonsense. I prefer the Transportation Department hold music (that I hear on a semi-regular basis): Garfield and Roosevelt jazz band recordings.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:44 PM

Full disclosure: This is the first Seattle School Board meeting I have watched at length. And I am only two months into my first year as a parent of a Seattle Public Schools student (at Wedgwood Elementary). Attended school in the Bremerton School District myself, so I am a product of a public school system.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:41 PM

For those of you following along at home, either now or reading these comments later after attending the meeting yourselves or just watching at home, I would LOVE to hear about your perceptions of this meeting. I cannot adequately express my own at this time, nor am I sure that would be the right thing to do on this site.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:38 PM

Okay. By my count, of the 27 items listed on the Growth Boundaries timeline on the SPS website, tonight’s meeting was number 25. Decidedly NOT the middle.

And the last item on the timeline is:
2014 Begin phased implementation of Growth Boundaries and ongoing monitoring of enrollment data

Rebecca November 6, 20136:36 PM

BREAK TIME.

But I am behind a bit, thanks to the pause button on my TiVo…

Rebecca November 6, 20136:35 PM

Director Smith-Blum: Answered hundreds of emails on Sunday, and moved out of her home of 17 years. Same weekend. Still answering emails.

Still looking at the deep data. Would like to see a longer time for input, work together in a more meaningful way. Saying that these proposals would not have gone into effect this year, or even the next. (What? I thought it was exactly in those years.)

Rebecca November 6, 20136:32 PM

Director Peaslee: 1000s of emails, being read. Still the opportunity to improve the plan. We’re in the middle of the process.

(Really? The middle? Look at the Growth Boundaries timeline. You cannot possibly say that we’re still in the MIDDLE: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=297824)

Rebecca November 6, 20136:29 PM

Director Patu: No capacity problem in the SE. Where we need to be. Believes strongly in neighborhood schools, and walkability. Trying to save money on transportation, after all. Let them walk.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:27 PM

Director Martin-Morris: So many emails. No staff, hard to keep up, but thank you.

We’re all connected, bound together. Boundary work is one of the toughest jobs, as we’re impacting families directly, personally. We do hear what you are saying.

Working with DeBell on amendment to the November 1 proposal (outline above). Hopefully will get us to a better place.

His regular community meeting on Saturday, November 16 will go on, but needs a bigger room. Posting info hopefully by Friday. Amendment info will be available then.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:23 PM

Director McClaren: I see a lot of concern. It’s heart warming.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:22 PM

Director DeBell: Also working on an amendment (with HM-M, we know) and the middle school boundaries. Hope to minimize the disruption. We will work hard over the next two weeks to get this right.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:17 PM

Director Carr: Still some work to do to in North Seattle. Working on amendment with another Director that may solve some problems. Will discuss it more on Saturday at her District II meeting time. (Location and time listed on the agenda above.)

Rebecca November 6, 20136:14 PM

Wedgwood Elementary PTA President Terri Green, speaking at tonight’s School Board meeting. http://t.co/in32uajwfr

Rebecca November 6, 20136:13 PM

She was the last speaker on Growth Boundaries in our area.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:12 PM

Wedgwood PTA Prez Terri Green. Plans released on Friday are unacceptable. Illogical, impracticable. What happened to walkability. Students will be torn from their current educational environment (pulled from Eckstein to Jane Addams).

“My constituency was not mobilized before because we were happy with prior iterations.” Lots of applause.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:09 PM

Seattle Council PTSA Vice President speaking now. Likens the boundary proposal before the School Board to the problems that took down the Space Shuttle Challenger — problems were known well beforehand, but the launch took place anyway.

The engagement process was a failure. Don’t let it happen again, either.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:06 PM

Another Beacon Hill parent. “Our kids need to be able to walk to school.” Money cut from transportation budget, and now this plan that requires more bussing?

New sidewalks near at least one of the schools in her area that her kids wouldn’t even be able to use.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:04 PM

Speakers on the wait list now getting their shot.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:04 PM

Beacon Hill parent talking now, about boundaries. Wedgwood folks behind her holding up their walkability signs.

Rebecca November 6, 20136:01 PM

Another GB speaker, from Maple Leaf: Drawing the boundaries is tough, we get it. Not enough time after proposal to learn about the new lines and comment appropriately. I-5 is a natural boundary. Hold meetings on the ACTUAL proposals, NOT just the hypotheticals, as was done this time.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:59 PM

Air quality guy talking about John Marshall Building. Close to I-5, and lots of fine particles from exhaust. Indoor recess will not help kids with asthma. Test indoor and outdoor quality immediately.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:57 PM

Beacon Hill parent wanting her school (Kimball) to stay walkable as well. Feeder pattern proposed to change.
Growth Boundary process was insufficient. No non-English options online. Not enough time.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:55 PM

Maple Leaf parent. No understanding of rationals for the Growth Boundaries. One letter with 200 signatures counted the same as one anonymous letter? No meetings after the new proposal? Kids three blocks from Olympic View will be driven way over to Olympic Hills?

Rebecca November 6, 20135:50 PM

Back on.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:48 PM

Directors leaving the dias until the room can be cleared. No feed on the TV at this time, either.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:47 PM

Hard to be too upset about our boundary problems up here in NE Seattle while listening to the people talking about SPS/education and race. The Horace Mann Building situation is just…awful.

Someone yelling A LOT now. Security being called.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:39 PM

The guy speaking now should run for School Board. Charles Mas. Vote for that guy.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:31 PM

From Leann Johnson via twitter, who is at the meeting: only 250 people allowed in the meeting room at a time. As people leave, those waiting outside are allowed in. “Lots of people in lobby,” she says.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:28 PM

Another GB speaker: Portables as a buffer, more transportation choices, strengthen school choice, do not close schools.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:25 PM

Melissa Westbrook speaking about GB. And the Mann Building. And Beacon Hill walk zones. As for GB: Not in support of the November 1 changes.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:17 PM

Okay. Public comment time. Some Growth Boundaries folks sprinkled in the first batch. They’ll be mentioned here as they speak.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:12 PM

They’re 11 minutes into the public comment period.

Rebecca November 6, 20135:07 PM

Ooo, I recognize an APP parent from my kid’s bus stop.

Rebecca November 6, 20134:53 PM

Still doing other stuff. Comment period coming.

Rebecca November 6, 20134:40 PM

Picture of the School Board meeting room at JSCEE, via Q13FOX’s Tina Patel:

http://twitter.com/tina_patel/status/398245504913387520/photo/1

Rebecca November 6, 20134:37 PM

Another live coverage option for you tonight is Save Seattle Schools’ Melissa Westbrook, here: http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2013/11/live-blogging-from-board-meeting.html

Rebecca November 6, 20134:32 PM

Seeing some faces in the crowd behind the current speaker (not boundary related) that are familiar from Monday’s meeting at Wedgwood Elementary.

Rebecca November 6, 20134:26 PM

Banda just confused the name of the city’s ballet performance space with that a textbook company.

Rebecca November 6, 20134:22 PM

Meeting has started. Superintendent Banda speaking. Said over 4,000 email communications have taken place around the Growth Boundaries issue. not sure what the time frame is for that number, tho.

Comments

  1. Will any our self appointed community groups be raising the outcry over KC Metro’s proposed bus route eliminations and changes? Several routes serving NE Seattle are being eliminated or drastically cut back in level of service.

  2. Norm Gregory says:

    Isn’t it Jane Addams rather than James Addams Middle School??

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