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Too many smart kids at Capitol Hill elementary school

School may be out but administrators at E Mercer’s Lowell Elementary and officials from Seattle Public Schools are struggling with a summer assignment:  how to deal with the prospect of ridiculously overcrowded classrooms before next fall. The solution on the table: carting off the 4th and 5th grade smart kids to Wallingford.

“During the past few weeks, as we considered the latest enrollment numbers, it has become increasingly apparent we will not be able to accommodate the growth we are experiencing at Lowell,” wrote the Seattle Schools administrator in her letter to parents announcing a hastily arranged Monday meeting to discuss the problem.

According to the letter sent to “Lowell staff and families” on Thursday, there will be a meeting Monday night to discuss the situation at Wallingford’s Lincoln School — the planned overflow destination for Lowell’s Accelerated Progress Program 4th and 5th graders. The district’s APP students — “intellectually advanced students who meet eligibility criteria and whose learning needs are not fully met in conventional classrooms” — for grades 1st through 5th had been planned to attend Lowell before moving on to the two district middle schools with accelerated programs.

But with an APP enrollment surge, Lowell is facing the prospect of squeezing 700 students into a school made to serve 500, according to postings on the Save Seattle Schools blog which has been delivering blow by blow accounts on the drama at Lowell. 

One group of parents is proposing an all-or-nothing solution: Move the entire AP program to Wallingford:

For the well-being of our APP children and families, we propose that the district move the entire Lowell APP population to Lincoln to stabilize and strengthen the program, and allow for the development of a long-term solution. 

For many of these parents, the prospect of splitting accelerated siblings across the two schools is a daunting logistical challenge. There is also the value of a consistent and dedicated APP experience. On the other hand, you can’t divide 700 into 500. You can sign their online petition here.

Here is the letter send by Seattle Schools with details on Monday’s meeting.

Dear Lowell Staff and Families:

In Seattle Public Schools, our goal is to provide a safe and welcoming learning environment for all of our students, including those in general education, in special education and in the APP program. We have been excited to see the APP program expand at Lowell and throughout the district, but this growth has put significant enrollment pressure on our schools.

During the past few weeks, as we considered the latest enrollment numbers, it has become increasingly apparent we will not be able to accommodate the growth we are experiencing at Lowell.

We are studying a number of options, including moving the APP fourth and fifth graders to Lincoln School for the 2011-12 school year. Expanding Lowell Elementary to Lincoln would ensure that we have adequate space for all students, including those with special needs remaining at Lowell. This would be a short-term solution to give us time in upcoming months to develop a long-term plan for APP enrollment.

We would like your feedback on this option. Please join us at a Lowell community meeting:

Date: Monday, June 27, 2011
Time: 7 p.m.
Where: Lincoln School auditorium
4400 Interlake Avenue N.
Seattle, Wash. 98103

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at necoogan@seattleschools.org. We look forward to meeting with you on Monday.

Sincerely,

Nancy Coogan
Executive Director of Schools, Central Region

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11 thoughts on “Too many smart kids at Capitol Hill elementary school

  1. Huh, here’s an idea….how about you don’t close TT Minor and sell MLK to the lowest bidder. You know, what ALL OF US PARENTS were saying 2 years ago.

  2. 2 years ago this was predicted – closing MLK and TT Minor was “penny wise and pound foolish”. The APP families are constantly having to defend their program. These are special needs children and the Program is best done all together – grades 1-5.

  3. This is another unfortunate outcome of the antiquated tax system. No one wants to pay taxes so something has to be sacrificed. I still will never understand why people who have children get thousands of dollars in tax breaks. Also, if we now have to pay user fees for state parks and such, maybe its time the school system require user fees. A possible solution for overcrowding and teacher pay???

  4. We already have user fees in a way. They come in the form of a steady stream of fundraisers and auctions all year long. We spend thousands on donations to “public” school every year to carry the lazy and inefficient deadweight out there.

    Here’s an idea…the city should put more effort in properly assessing houses in Seattle and raising the levy or whatever it takes to get people paying what they owe in property taxes for their homes. It’s laughable how low some houses are assessed here especially in Capitol Hill.

  5. 20+ years ago I attended a School Board Meeting at Seward School. Board was proposing to close Seward, for earthquake safety etc reasons. Children paraded in carrying models of portables, depicting the massed portables used by TOPS, then at Stevens, and suggested that TOPS move to Seward.

    School Board thanked us, explained why that plan was impractical, and closed Seward.

    They then counted to 10, and announced a great new plan they’d just thought up:

    Let’s reopen Seward and move TOPS there.

    Yep, what comes around goes around.

  6. Are they not that great or are they too expensive? If you live in this neighborhood and own your home, you probably can pony up the dough.

  7. options for private schools in this area are super expensive, unless you go to st. joe’s, which is affordable as far as private schools go – and then you’re sending your kids to a religious school. as it is, lowell actually serves a lot of the lower income capitol hill families living in apartments through the mid-north part of the neighborhood. it’s not all million dollar homes these kids are coming from – and not everyone, even families in those pricey homes, can afford $30k a year for bush.

  8. ridiculous. in the 70’s my mom had to move us to bainbridge island in order to secure ap classes since seattle pub schools were bussing us 45 minutes to south beach middle school to help all of us get along better.

    now 30 years later you still have to move to mercer island or bainbridge to get decent public education that is part of a continuous system that works elementary to high school.

  9. Good to know, Liz. I had no idea they cost THAT much. They may as well send the kids to those really good boarding schools on the East Coast where half of the class end up in Ivies then.