Packed house at Ballard school boundary meeting

Nearly 200 people packed Ballard High School’s library Wednesday night to participate in a community meeting about the controversial proposal to create Seattle school boundaries. “I thought it was going to be packed,” Ballard High Principal Phil Brockman told us as the crowd gathered. “But not this packed.”

Tracy Libros, who heads up enrollment for the school district, ran through a Powerpoint of the proposed student assignment boundaries, which were released October 6th. Libros said that the district is looking “at all the boundaries” to make possible changes. “We do believe that the initial proposal did not balance out the enrollment in the north end high schools, so we’re looking at that,” she said, explaining the new maps will be released on November 3rd. A school official told us the possible changes aren’t due to bad or incomplete data, but part of “continued refinement.”

Parents split into groups to discuss their concerns and questions, which were later read to the room. “The North Ballard community is very, very concerned about being cut off,” said one parent, referring to the dividing line at 85th St. that splits Ballard High to the south with Ingraham High (on 135th St. NW) to the north. Many other parents agreed. “I’d like to go to the defense of the families of the neighborhood of North Beach, Olympic Manor, the Blue Ridge area and Green Arbor (near Carkeek Park),” another parent said. “Any of our kids can get on a bus in those neighborhoods and be to Ballard in 15 minutes. And any kids that takes a bus from those neighborhoods in Ingraham takes an hour to an hour and a half.” One group even walked to Ballard High from 85th for the meeting, explaining that it took just 25 minutes.

While North Ballard residents felt cut off, some didn’t mince words about the fact Queen Anne and Magnolia kids will be attending Ballard High under the new boundary maps. “Obviously Queen Anne and Magnolia have a right to come to Ballard, but why aren’t they fighting the fact they sold Queen Anne High School several years ago? They should go to Ingraham,” one man said to a thundering applause. “Have them build their own (high school),” exclaimed another. Another parent brought up the new boundary that divides Whittier and West Woodland Elementary schools. “It will fragment the Whittier Heights neighborhood,” she said.

“I know that a lot of people in this room are not happy, but all I can tell you is that’s where the data lead us to,” Libros said. “When you put all the numbers together of where the students live and where the buildings are located, that is where the first proposed boundaries, which do need adjustment, landed,” she said. “There are certainly convenient buses in some cases, but not necessarily capacity at those schools for all these students.”

Another key issue that was repeated through the night is the grandfathering of siblings. “We want to keep our families together,” one man said, advocating a guaranteed grandfathering plan. “When our next son or daughter is coming up, we want to stay with that school.” While the district is proposing a 10 percent open enrollment provision, which would leave a tenth of a school’s enrollment to a lottery system, many expressed concerns that it’s too small to account for all the siblings and special circumstances. “We’re not doing it because we think it’s a good idea to be mean,” Libros said in response. “Seriously, it sounds like a no brainer, and it is in a sense, except we don’t know until the boundaries are adopted and we actually look at the students that are going to that school…. But to just stand here and say all siblings are grandfathered, I can’t do that because we don’t know if we can’t support it physically. It’s absolutely a high priority.”

A few parents raised concern over the short span of time between the release of the refined maps (November 3rd), the school board public hearing (November 9th) and the final board vote (November 18th). The district assured the crowd that they’re taking the community’s feedback seriously. “We really do welcome your input and comments,” Libros said. “We truly welcome your comments.”


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super_v
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super_v

Will the woman who was signing people up to mobilize parents for future meetings please post contact information here?

Thanks.

h2o_girl
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h2o_girl

I disagree that people who knowingly and willingly live in a neighborhood without a high school have the “right to come to Ballard.” They do not.

Dumb
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Dumb

“Have them build their own (high school),”

Because you know, no one in Ballard has to pay for any schools but their own….

Mindy1
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Mindy1

I was present tonight. It was terrific to see the amount of neighbors present. My oldest child will enter kindergarten next year, so the new assignment plan does not affect us much right now. Talking with others in the small group really made me feel for the families that have a son or daughter in a school already but may be in limbo as to where their next child will attend–if they will be allowed to attend the same school as their older sibling. I also feel for the families who reside close to where the boundaries have been drawn. A couple of parents in the group stated that they live 5 minutes from a school but have been dealt a school 20 minutes away. It doesn't make sense.

I understand that there are going to be outliers in reference to any school. I'm just wondering how we can generate more equitable and logical results.

Drew
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Drew

Because people in Magnolia or Queen Anne pay less school taxes than those in Ballard??

gt
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gt

Those of us in the north part of Greenlake would be happy to trade our Ballard spots for Roosevelt (1.2 miles from our house as opposed to the 3 miles it is to Ballard). Does anyone know how many spots those of us that should be attending Roosevelt will be taking from students that should be attending Ballard, again considering their proximity to Ballard and ours to Roosevelt?

Jules
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Jules

Oh, but there WAS a high school on Queen Anne, called….Quenn Anne HS! And the Seattle SD closed it.

h2o_girl
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h2o_girl

Of course not. I just disagree with the 'right to come to Ballard' language. I can walk to Ballard High in 20 minutes. Why should someone 4-5 miles away have priority?

phinneynotballard
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phinneynotballard

i understand the frustration of parents whose assigned school is located farther away than another school, whether it be Ballard HS, West Woodland, etc. But I am just floored at some of the comments I read that seem to be completely blind to the obvious fact that because of where our schools are located, and where our kids are located, that this situation has to exist (short of course of having folks in QA and Magnolia “build their own school,” which is possibly the most ignorant thing I've ever read). We don't live in perfectly appropriated space, with even amounts of residents or students in perfect little circles around perfectly spaced facilities. Why is this concept so difficult for so many people to accept? It doesn't matter where the north boundary is placed – there will be upset parents and students. And it sucks. And sometimes life sucks. It was shortsighted of the district to sell off QA HS years ago. It sure would be nice to have that facility again, but we can't undo that. Instead of spending so much time fighting something that will be inherently unfair to many people regardless of where lines are drawn, this would… Read more »

DavidB
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DavidB

Boundaries had to be set and there's no way to please everyone.

The comment saying that Queen Anne & Magnolia residents should “build their own school” is ridiculous. Obviously another school is not going to be built in this economic environment and Ballard is the closest school to these residents.

eric
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eric

while i really don't have a “dog in the fight” (no kids) i can certainly see where some ballard residents woulb be a touch upset at kids from QA and magnolia going to ballard HS while they have to ship there own kids out of the neighborhood.

QA had a HS and it was closed and sold and turned into condos – lol, really?? – maybe the residents there should have fought harder for their HS?

all this said, at the end of the day, the schools will decide what THEY intend to do and everyone will have to accept it or start checking out private schools..

Kay
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Kay

Queen Anne High was closed in the early 1980's. Demographics in the entire city are different now than they were then. It was short-sighted to sell the building, but it is a done deal.

The only viable option for a new high school is Lincoln in Wallingford, but that would cost tons of money that the district doesn't have.

I am on 70th St, with a kid starting Kindergarden next year. Under this plans she'll go to West Woodland rather than Whittier, which is closer. That's life. Both schools have active communities and good reputations. I'm glad to be living in a community where that's the case.

Catherine
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Catherine

Lincoln regularly houses high school programs now. There's no reason they couldn't start a program there whenever they want to other than they want to operate buildings at capacity and Lincoln wouldn't be at capacity.

cal
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cal

“Have them build their own damn school…”

I think I'm just not going to have kids…

bp
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bp

Why is it ridiculous? I agree the “own” part is silly, but building a new school should be part of the discussion. I doubt the QA and Magnolia kids and parents are thrilled about crossing the bridge all the time.

Apparently the school district is going to spend the money to open 5 schools that closed. $45 million dollars for that. That's about what budget deficit was they tried to close the past two years. Stupid decision making is what it is.

Ballardmom
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Ballardmom

I don't know the answer to your question, but I had thought of that too. Roosevelt is a perfectly fine school (I have many friends who went there). My guess is, is that Roosevelt is already overcrowded because it draws from such a large area that's why you guys are getting sent to Ballard and Ballard kids are getting sent to Ingraham. Sigh. It makes little sense to me.

Ballardmom
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Ballardmom

The comment is ridiculous because of two things: it would take many years and not solve the problem immediately and it would cost millions of dollars. The Seattle School District doesn't have that kind of money right now and there are bigger priorities: like keeping teachers paid, and making keeping other school buildings that are about to fall over from falling over. Many of the SPD school district's building are badly in need of repair (for instance Whitman which all our kids will go before the big much debated high school) but the district has not been able to afford it yet. Being a part of our school's PTA I see how much money has to be raised each year just so a school can have normal school programs – stuff that we took for granted when we were kids. If there were money to be spent it would be a good plan, but there is no money to be spent on this without taking away from other schools. But if you'd like to try and raise 10 million dollars for the cause feel free.

facebook-1137996016
Guest

the district is going to spend $14.5 million to reopen McDonald for a few hundred elementary students.
Seattle has already housed Ballard high school, Roosevelt high school and Garfield high school in the Lincoln building for two years apiece, how will it cost them more per student to reopen Lincoln as it's own high school, than they are willing to spend on buildings they haven't been taking care of?

Ballardmom
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Ballardmom

You either must not have kids or must not be on your PTA or must just not listen to the financial information. “There is no reason they can't start a program” – there is a reason. It costs A LOT to open a new school. You have to pay the staff (office, teachers, principals), you have to make sure the building is safe and up to code, you have to buy supplies, you have to have liability insurance – all of this adds up to millions of dollars that the school district does not have. Like I said in a last post, if people really want new schools open, they can try to raise money to do it. Or they can get involved with the government and try to force more money to go towards schools as it should be doing.

Ballardmom
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Ballardmom

See my above comment – it doesn't just cost to have a building it costs A LOT to have what is inside the building.

sdrake1958
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sdrake1958

It's funny to witness this all over again. Again I ask, does everybody here shop only at Safeway? Why then so much faith/trust in a broken system? I guess being pro-choice only applies to abortion then???The more a government does FOR “the people”, the more it does TO it's faithful sycophants. I can't wait for single payer government run health care next. There won't be any bitching with that will there. “For the people, by the people”? Can a government please all the people all the time? Hope. Hope and change. Barf out

Balllardad
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Balllardad

The Seattle School District would save $500,000 annually by allowing Ballard kids to attend Ballard High School.

According to the Seattle School District website, Roosevelt High School will be under-enrolled by 408 students in 2015. Additionally, the school district has allocated 493 Open Choice seats at Ballard, Garfield, and Roosevelt. The school districts own estimates indicate that there are 901 open seats at these three high schools.

The district will pay for 1802 extra bus passes (901 to transport Ballard kids to Ingraham and 901 to transport kids from other neighborhoods to Ballard, Garfield, and Roosevelt).

$486,540 per school year = 1802 bus passes x 9 months/school year x $30/bus pass

By more equitably distributing kids between Ballard, Garfield, and Roosevelt, and reducing Open Choice seats the district will save $2,500,000 over the next 5 years.

Sir Camp-a-lot
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Sir Camp-a-lot

I, for one, welcome our new Queen Anne and Magnolia overlords…..

Catherine
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Catherine

Actually, I'm a 18 year PTA member, and still have a kid in the system. And have looked through the SSD budget line by line as well as individual building budgets line by line. The incremental cost of having a building open, isn't where the majority of the costs are.

Code… they already have the occupancy cert on Lincoln, they don't have to do much code work that they aren't already planning.

Regardless of WHERE you put the additional kids, you have to pay for teachers and supplies. Lincoln, or portables in the Ballard parking lot which they will do because their assignment plan will force them to.

So your incremental costs are custodial and admin.

fanisse
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fanisse

Best line *ever*.