SPS School Board Unanimously Approves Boundary Maps

Seattle - On November 18, an important step in the new student assignment plan process was taken as the School Board voted unanimously to approve the New Student Assignment Plan boundary maps. The New Student Assignment Plan and recently approved boundary maps will be phased in beginning in the 2010-11 school year for students at entry-grade levels—usually kindergarten, 6th, and 9th grades.

The final maps will reflect the changes included in an omnibus amendment submitted by the School Board Executive Committee that outlines adjustments for the McDonald, Whittier, Loyal Heights, Alki and Lafayette attendance areas. Two additional amendments were also approved that will be reflected in the final boundary maps. These include an amendment submitted by Director Martin-Morris that amends the Bryant and View Ridge attendance area boundaries; and an amendment submitted by Director Sundquist that shifts an area from the Lafayette area to the Alki area. Links to all of these amendments are included at the end of this news release.

Staff will incorporate the approved amendments to the boundaries into a final set of maps. Those maps, and an updated address look-up tool, will be available on the district’s Web site next week.

The School Board also approved a new Capacity Management Policy that puts systems in place to integrate planning for enrollment trends, functional capacity, demographics and program delivery models; facilities upgrades and capital program development. An annual evaluation of enrollment trends and school building capacity will support this integrated planning.

“The approval of the student assignment boundary maps and capacity management policy represent a sea change for Seattle Public Schools,” said Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D. “We now have a long-needed new student assignment plan that supports our goal of an excellent education for every student. At the same time, we are putting systems in place to ensure that future planning integrates all of the factors that contribute to an efficient, effective district that is structured to support student achievement.” 

During more than two years of extensive community engagement on the new student assignment plan, families told Seattle Public Schools that they wanted a plan that is predictable, equitable, and easy to understand. Extensive community engagement followed the release of the proposed and recommended maps. From thousands of comments received via community meetings; email; postal mail; an on-line survey and public testimony, four major themes emerged and a series of adjustments were made to the maps. The final maps reflect adjustments based on feeder patterns; support greater consistency with District goals; and incorporate a series of adjustments based on specific neighborhood conditions such as walkability, transportation needs, geography, and neighborhood identity.

“I want to thank the thousands of staff and community members who contributed their time and perspectives to the development of our New Student Assignment plan over the past two years,” said Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson. “We know that families with incoming younger siblings are anxious to know if their kindergartners will be able to attend the same school that their older sibling currently attends. That issue, along with questions about the extent of transportation grandfathering, program placement decisions for 2010, and the process for opening new schools will be the top priorities for implementation now that the Board has adopted new boundaries.”

Transition Plan Will Be Developed by Early January

  • The next step is for a transition plan to be developed. The transition plan will consider, among other factors, sibling grandfathering, transportation and developing educational programs for buildings that will open in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
  • Information will be gathered about students who currently attend school outside of their new attendance area boundary, and about the siblings of those students who may be entering kindergarten in 2010.
  • A transportation eligibility analysis will be completed.
  • The Superintendent will make program placement decisions for 2010.
  • The process of preparing to begin classes in fall 2010 for Old Hay, McDonald, and Sand Point will be finalized and will include: Program design teams will be established for schools opening in Fall 2010. Principals will be named for schools opening Fall 2010

Enrollment Process for Fall 2010

Early registration is open through January 15, 2010. Any student who will be new to Seattle Public Schools in Fall 2010 is invited to register. Details of the enrollment process for fall 2010 will be announced as the transition plan is developed.

Open houses will be scheduled for all schools prior to Open Enrollment.

  • In late February, students currently attending Seattle Public Schools who are rising from elementary to middle school or middle school to high school; and those students who registered for kindergarten during early registration, will receive their assignment for 2010 in the mail. If that is the desired assignment, no further action is needed.
  • Open Enrollment will be scheduled during March. During this time, students who wish to apply to change their assignment may do so. If there are more applicants than spaces available, the new simplified tiebreakers specified in the New Student Assignment Plan will be used to determine assignments.

Predictable Assignment Hallmark of New Plan

The heart of the new plan is to serve students closer to home. Students will receive an initial assignment to an attendance area elementary-, middle-, or high school. This assignment will be based on their address. Students may also apply to an option school associated with their attendance area. A student can choose to apply to a school outside their attendance area; that assignment will be based on a series of tiebreakers. The tiebreakers are greatly simplified compared with the existing system. At the high school level, the proposal is to designate approximately 10% of the school capacity for Open Choice seats for students from outside the attendance area, which will provide more equitable access to specialized programs.

Currently Enrolled Students May Remain at the Current School

If a student is currently enrolled at a school outside their attendance area, they can stay at that school through its highest grade under a process called “grandfathering”—as long as the services the student needs are available at that school.

New Attendance Areas Replace Outdated Boundaries

The new approved attendance area boundaries replace a set of school reference areas that haven’t been updated in decades, no longer reflect city demographics, and do not accurately reflect the capacity of the District’s facilities. By comparison, the development of the new attendance boundaries has been a data-driven process, designed to reflect demographic shifts and building capacity more accurately—as well as provide greater assignment predictability while preserving choice options.

Boundaries Reflect Need for Increased Capacity

Enrollment at Seattle Public Schools has been trending up for the past two years, and has exceeded growth projections. This trend is expected to continue through 2015. These projections reveal the need to add capacity in certain areas of the city. Seattle Public Schools needs to balance availability of facilities with where students live now, and where enrollment changes are projected for the future. In some areas of the city, buildings currently in use cannot accommodate projected enrollment, so the proposal is to open buildings to align available capacity to meet the needs of current and projected students. McDonald Elementary, Rainier View Elementary, Sand Point Elementary, and Viewlands Elementary will open as attendance area schools. Old Hay will open as an option school. The funds required to prepare buildings for students and staff have been included in the Buildings, Technology and Academics III (BTA III) levy proposal which was unanimously approved by the School Board today. The BTA III levy, together with an Operations Levy, will be placed on the February 9, 2010 ballot. Opening of buildings would be phased between 2010 and 2012, as follows:

Proposed Building Timing

  • Sand Point 2010
  • Old Hay (students at Lincoln in 2010-11) 2011
  • McDonald (students at Lincoln in 2010-12) 2012
  • Rainier View 2011
  • Viewlands 2011

For more information on the New Student Assignment Plan Visit www.seattleschools.org and the New Student Assignment Web site.

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