The nature of Seattle’s new system of “neighborhood schools” has guaranteed one thing — nearly perpetual change in the “growth boundaries” that define where students must live to attend the city’s public schools. But the latest revisions to Seattle Public Schools’ new set of border proposals has a group of neighborhood parents who have been working on the updates for months rankled at what they see as a potential loss of diversity from closing off the Stevens Elementary attendance area to families living south of Madison.
In a letter sent to school families, members of the Stevens attendance committee say they “strongly oppose the proposed expansion of our boundaries to the north and east.” “These expansions would displace the south-of-Madison group of families and siblings that are already integral to our community and who bring Stevens much of its diversity, only to replace them with other families,” the message reads. “Our community does not welcome this solution, which does not appear to solve our capacity issue while negatively affecting diversity at Stevens.”
The latest process to adjust Seattle Public Schools’ borders kicked into high gear over summer and continues this with meetings and a formal SPS survey to finalize feedback on the next adjustments — CHS documented the preliminary boundary proposals here: Proposed Capitol Hill elementary school ‘border’ shifts address more kids, new middle school in 2017.
On Friday, SPS released a series of revisions including pulling back the southern Stevens boundary from Cherry to Madison while expanding north to Boyer and east to Lake Washington Blvd and Madison. The Stevens parents also object to the potential move of the English Language Learners program from the school and a plan that could have Stevens kids ready for middle school busing to South Seattle while the district prepares to rebuild the Meany campus.
SPS is collecting feedback to hear what parents have to say:
Seattle Public Schools seeks feedback on newest growth boundary recommendations
Seattle Public Schools is updating attendance area boundaries to accommodate enrollment growth and new construction. An initial draft of boundary changes was provided in September, offering families, staff and the community time to weigh in and give feedback.
After hosting five community meetings and receiving thousands of emails and suggestions, new recommended boundary changes are being proposed. These can be found at: http://bit.ly/GrowthBoundaries
. For more information, including supporting documents, see the following:
- October 16 Board Action Report
- Attachment B: Reference Materials
- Attachment C: Summary Information on Public Input
We are asking for new feedback on the recommendations via a survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/
s/7BKFRS3. Please take this survey by Oct. 21. Input through the survey will be included in the review.
- District seeks public input via a survey from Oct. 14-21.
- School Board Work Session on the boundary proposal from 4:30-6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17 at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence. (The public is invited to attend, but public testimony will not be taken.)
- Revised recommendations will be sent to the Board for the Nov. 6 meeting
- A School Board vote is scheduled for Nov. 20.
- If approved by the School Board, implementation of some of the new elementary and middle school boundaries will begin for the 2014-15 school year, although many boundary changes cannot go into effect until Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) capital levy construction projects are completed.
For more information on the growth boundary project, please visit http://bit.ly/GrowthBoundaries
Meanwhile, parents in the north of the Central District are pushing Schools to reconsider the future for the TT Minor campus at 18th and Union.
371 students attended Stevens in the 2011-2012 school year. Of those, 46% were identified as white in the district’s demographics survey — right at the district average, according to Seattle Public Schools.
Below is a sample letter the Stevens group is asking parents to send the school board. The board next meets this Wednesday. Parent representatives from around the city are expected to attend to also push for better boundaries for their neighborhood schools.
Sample Letter (to edit as you wish)—please send as soon as possible to the following email addresses:
cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ms. Smith-Blum and Seattle School Board,
I am the parent of a Stevens Elementary School student. I am writing to express my concern about the proposed Stevens boundary and program changes and the Meany middle school transition plan.
The 10/11 recommendations would eliminate our ELL link program and remove from our boundary the families between Madison and Cherry who are integral to our community. We understand that there may be a need to reduce enrollment at Stevens, but we cannot support a plan that removes these families while replacing them with other families by expanding our boundaries to the north and east. These changes would largely eliminate the rich diversity that makes Stevens a unique school in the district. Changing three of the four boundaries also unnecessarily disrupts many families without accomplishing the goal of addressing the current capacity issues facing Stevens.
The Stevens community has worked in the past six months to identify our top three goals for capacity management: (1) preserve our existing programs; (2) preserve the diversity of our student body, and (3) manage capacity so as to preserve outdoor play space and avoid the installation of portable classrooms. We hope that you will take these priorities into account in your decision-making process.
With regard to the Meany middle school transition, I strongly oppose bussing students to Van Asselt. This decision would have negative outcomes in the short term for students spending two hours a day on the bus, and in the long term for the Meany community after many families move their kids to option or private schools to avoid three years of such bussing. I hope the district will choose a solution that places our middle school students at Washington or Meany until the Meany refurbishment is complete.
Don’t forget the Sincerely part!
In the meantime, Lowell, Capitol Hill’s other public elementary school continues its amazing mission to educate children from the western side of the Hill all the way to downtown…. and beyond.
The original Lowell boundary proposal is below — unlike the Stevens set, the October revisions for Lowell don’t appear to be significant. If you’re a Lowell parent and beg to differ, let us know in comments.
Full disclosure: Jseattle jr. attends Stevens Elementary.