New Seattle school boundary maps to be released – UPDATE

UPDATE 10/6 7:15 PM:
The new maps are out. Here’s the elementary zones for our area. You can see the other maps for middle and high schools here. We’ve attached the full-city elementary school map to this post. A screen grab of the new zones is below.

Original Post:
The Seattle school district this week takes a step toward creating ‘neighborhood schools.’ A set of maps will be released Tuesday afternoon that will redefine the way students are assigned to elementary, middle and high schools and put an end to the ‘open enrollment’ system that allows parents to apply for their children to attend schools throughout the district.

Crosscut describes the change :

It’s pretty simple. If you live within the assignment area of School X, you are guaranteed a place at that school. (It’s “a guaranteed assignment, not a mandatory assignment,” stresses school board president Michael DeBell in a reassuring nod to families worried about potential loss of school choice in the new system.) A collection of such “attendance-area” elementary schools makes up a “service area” of “feeder schools” for each of the city’s 10 middle schools. And each of the now nine comprehensive high schools will have its own attendance area. Thus, based on residence address, a family will be able to predict exactly what schools their children will attend from kindergarten to graduation. A simple registration process (including proof of residence) will suffice.

Crosscut goes on to note that Miller Park’s NOVA High School program at the old Meany School will be one of 14 ‘option’ schools that students and parents can choose if there is room and the student meets proper criteria. The Crosscut piece is also worth checking out for its analysis of the issues of race and money that the new plan addresses.

The soon-to-be-released proposed boundaries are part of the Seattle Public Schools New Student Assignment Plan that was approved in June and will move forward in its most concrete way yet with the release of the maps prior to Tuesday night’s school board meeting. The complete plan is attached to this post.

The existing ‘cluster’ for the Steven’s Elementary, for example, covers the entirety of northern Capitol Hill. Students living within that boundary have had priority for enrollment at the school but also faced the possibility of not being able to attend the school because of high enrollment of students from outside the neighborhood.

With the new assignment process, the children living within the new boundaries will have guaranteed placement at their ‘neighborhood’ school. Where the lines are drawn has the potential to redefine some neighborhoods in the city :

Ballard parent Jerri Harden says the effects could be long-lasting. “Arbitrarily drawing boundaries takes away that sense of community,” she says.

Harden lives almost two miles north of Ballard High, where her kids go to school. It’s an area where there’s anxiousness over the new maps. They identify as Ballard, but worry they may be drawn into Ingraham High’s boundaries, on the city’s northern border. Harden is with the Seattle PTSA, and says there are other neighborhoods with similar concerns. Still, she supports the effort to move away from school choice toward a more fair system.

“I think that’s the main issue. That there’s quality- equal quality – in all of the schools, so that none of the schools are over enrolled, which is what choice has done to some of the schools,” Harden told KPLU News.

Once the new maps are released, an extensive public process has been planned with nine community meetings before the School Board revisits the proposed boundaries on November 3rd. The School Board votes on the final map November 18th. The plan will be implemented starting next school year.

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