Story Summary

Seattle School District

The Seattle School District has faced a number of financial issues over the last few years. In January 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court said the state had not met its constitutionally mandated “duty” to fund basic education, putting a new challenge in front of all school districts.

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This story has 9 updates
Local News
11/21/13

Parents concerned over redistricting

seattleschoolsSeattle — Just hours after the Seattle School Board unanimously approved a new redistricting and growth plan for the district parents are concerned for their children who will have to elave neighborhood schools and attend different schools miles away from home.

After several weeks of planning and listening to public comment. The Seattle school board passed its redistricting plan with several amendments to ease the minds of many parents.

Not everyone left the school board meeting satisfied. Some kids will have to switch to schools miles from their home.

Will Dixon is concerned for his young son. Dixon likes the convenience of living near his son’s school. With the new redistricting plan, his son will  be forced to go to school further from home.

”I work downtown, so being able to pick up your kid. You would like to know you’re in a position that you could get there without too much of a hassle,” Dixon said.

Dixon worries that in the event of an emergency he won’t get to his son fast enough.

Some parents were relieved to find out that their children will be grandfathered and allowed to remain at their current middle school until they graduate to high school. Other parents we spoke with weren’t so lucky and must live with a drastic change and learn to deal with a new normal.

Local News
11/20/13

Board approves new Seattle school boundaries

SEATTLE — The Seattle Public Schools Board voted Wednesday night to approve new growth boundaries to prevent overcrowding at schools.

The board passed the growth boundaries plan, with about seven amendments.

Students who go to Wedgwood Elementary School will be able to go to Eckstein Middle. That’s what they were pushing for, because of the walkability issue. But not all students who currently go to Eckstein can stay there. So there’s still some unhappy families.

Current Hamilton Middle School students were also hoping to get grandfathered in, but that got turned down.  So students in the Accelerated Progress Program will be moved next year. Some in that program have been moved four or five times before.

Parents complained about the school district’s proposed map in September, because some students would be moved from their existing schools to schools farther from their homes. The board revised the map and offered some amendments, after several community meetings.

Several parents and students voiced concerns about the plan during Wednesday night’s meeting.

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seattleschoolsSEATTLE — The Seattle School Board is scheduled to take action and vote on the latest draft of growth boundaries for the district, but dozens of parents are angered over the proposal that has children bused to schools miles from where they live.

The Seattle School board has heard public comment on the issue for month as several community members have voiced their concerns.

Parents say their children are being shuffled around too much and they need a sense of community and stability.

School board members say boundaries must be redrawn to accommodate exponential growth in the district.

Tonight’s school board meeting begins at 4:15 pm. The meeting is at the John Stanford Support Center at 2445 3rd Ave. S. Public comment on any school issues begins at 5 pm. The public comment portion of the meeting is already full and a waiting list to speak has nearly 40 people signed up.

Concerned parents can still voice their opinion over the boundaries emailing growthboundaries@seattleschools.org.

Local News
11/12/13

School superintendent: We’ve made progress but not satisfied

SEATTLE — In his first year as school superintendent,  Jose Banda has learned just how engaged parents and teachers can be, from protests over what some called a flawed academic progress test to the recent controversy over changing school boundaries.

But Banda, in his address on the state of the district Tuesday, said there is plenty to celebrate.

banda“This is an exciting time to be a part of Seattle Public Schools,” said Banda, citing how over the last five years, more Seattle students are graduating and more are taking college-level classes.

He also said students in the district are now outperforming the state average on state math and science tests.

“While we have made progress, we are not satisfied,” said Banda. “We have a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

According to Banda, Seattle kids are not meeting their reading goals, and there is still achievement gaps. For instance, caucasian students continue to score higher in state math exams than African American students and parents want to see a change.

“It’s the eternal issue of, what are we doing to close the achievement gap,” said Melissa Westbrook, a parent and school activist. “That is the number one thing that has to be addressed.”

The superintendent says he has a new five-year plan that he hopes will address that, including improving systems and communication district-wide to try to meet student needs and getting families more involved.

“It really takes an engagement of our community,” said Banda. “And engagement of our families as our partners to make sure we provide full support for our students.”

Click here to read full report.  Click here to read the District Scorecard released Tuesday.   And click here to read individual school reports.

Local News
11/06/13

VIDEO: Seattle parents sound off on school boundaries

Local News
11/06/13

Are school boundaries working?

Local News
11/05/13

New school boundaries upsets parents

SEATTLE — Parents in the Wedgwood neighborhood are up in arms after the Seattle School District released another attendance boundary map.

Some parents said they feel completely blindsided by the new plan. The new boundary would mean kids living on one side of the street will go to Eckstein Middle School, but kids living on the opposite side of the street will have to attend a different school 2 miles away.

eckstein“It does make you scratch your head,” Debbie Vaughn said. “People move into this neighborhood in order to go to these schools. It’s a wonderful neighborhood. We are a community and kids like walking to school. To just cut that line is pretty startling.”

Vaughn lives a few blocks from Eckstein Middle School and worries her son won’t be able to take the same elective classes if he has to go somewhere else.

“It’s illogical and that’s the frustrating part right now,” she said.

The school district said it is trying to accommodate increased enrollment and new school construction. The proposed changes are also concerning to some parents who worry the district isn’t focused on keeping students together.

“I’m not really wanting to send him off to a new school for 8th grade, then a whole other new school for high school,” Vaughn said.

“They came out with an 11th hour (proposal), what feels like a bait and switch on their proposal on where kids will be going to school,” Terri Green, president of the Wedgwood Parent Teacher’s Association, said. Green isn’t only the PTA president — she’s also worried her two kids who attend Eckstien will have to leave their classmates and their school behind.

“Ripping them out of their current middle school and sending them without all of their friends — just a portion of them to a new middle school — that doesn’t make sense,” Green said. “We’re asking the school board to reject this proposal.”

The school district said  nothing is set in stone just yet and an online petition is gathering signatures from parents opposed to the growth boundaries around the school.

There is a public hearing Wednesday in downtown Seattle at 4:15 p.m. and the public comment sign-up is already overflowing with speakers.

The district wants to hear input from parents and has set up an email address – growthboundaries@seattleschools.org – looking for feedback on the new maps.

The Wedgwood Community Council also released the following statement regarding the district’s proposal. You can read it here.

Local News
09/23/13

Seattle schools to discuss boundary changes tonight

Seattle School BoundariesSEATTLE — Seattle Public Schools is hosting a community meeting Monday to discuss possible changes to attendance boundaries for elementary and middle schools.

The school district said new Growth Boundaries are necessary to accommodate increasing enrollment and new construction. Current students would not be affected, but incoming students could be moved to different schools for the 2014-15 school year.

  • There will be five community meetings for parents. All meetings are held from 6:30-8 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

Monday, Sept. 23 Mercer Middle School lunchroom (Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese and Taglog interpreters will be present)

  • Tuesday, Sept. 24 Nathan Hale High School Commons (Spanish and Somali interpreters will be present)

Wednesday, Sept. 25 West Seattle High School Commons (Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese interpreters will be present)

  • Monday, Sept. 30 Meany Building Lunchroom (Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese interpreters will be present)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 1 Ballard High School Commons (Spanish interpreters will be present)

The school board is expected to vote on the recommended boundaries in November.

SEATTLE  – The Seattle School District is talking about redrawing attendance boundaries for schools in November and parents at Hawthorne Elementary School said the move would destroy their children’s academic progress.

In the last few years the school has overcome low enrollment and poor test scores. If boundaries are changed, parents said it would mean a repeat of low enrollment, which would translate into less funding and community involvement.

When Karen Barrier purchased her home in south Seattle, she bought into her kids going to Hawthorne Elementary. But now Barrier is confused on where to send her kids to school next year with the talk of the district rezoning boundaries.

“We finally got settled, decided we liked where we are, and now we have to think about if we want them to go to a different school,” she said.

“It’s a complicated set of changes they are proposing,” Hawthorne Elementary PTA vice president Mary Murray said.

With the changes, Hawthorne Elementary could lose about 20 percent of its students. “It’s a large portion of our school and with those students,  go teachers who we care about,” Murray said.

More than three years ago, the district switched from a choice to a neighborhood enrollment system, encouraging parents to send their kids to the closest school. Parents did just that, and it was at a time when Hawthorne Elementary was struggling with low attendance and even lower test scores.

“We are going to invest and support people who are not in the school yet to come to our fundraisers,” Murray said.

With the help of private donations and a $1.3 million federal grant to boost its STEM program, the school has made significant progress. It has added more than a 100 students and more than doubled their test scores. Murray said the district is overstepping its boundaries by risking everything the school has achieved.

“It guts the community investment and it basically creates skepticism for families,” she said.

“If you do invest a lot in one school and it gets switched to another, it makes you think about if you are willing to do that again,” Barrier said.

But parent Lisa Jones said she understands the challenge the district is facing to even out class sizes across all the schools. “As long as it is not impacting the kids that are already there and it’s only the new students coming in, I totally understand,” Jones said.

If the boundaries are changed it will only affect new students and current students can choose to stay at the same school. The district said it is too early to talk about the proposal, but parents are encouraged to come and speak at five public meetings that will be held before a final decision is made.

All meetings are held from 6:30-8 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

  • Monday, Sept. 23 Mercer Middle School lunchroom (Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese and Taglog interpreters will be present)
  • Tuesday, Sept. 24 Nathan Hale High School Commons (Spanish and Somali interpreters will be present)
  • Wednesday, Sept. 25 West Seattle High School Commons (Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese interpreters will be present)
  • Monday, Sept. 30 Meany Building Lunchroom (Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese interpreters will be present)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 1 Ballard High School Commons (Spanish interpreters will be present)

Additional information on the growth boundaries project is available at http://bit.ly.com/GrowthBoundaries.

 

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