Ballard gets squeezed by proposed school boundaries, parents fight back

With Lincoln High School opening in Wallingford and Ingraham High School expanding in 2019, the Seattle school district is redrawing the boundaries for North Seattle high school students.

Until last week, one of the recommended scenarios (.pdf) kept the vast majority of Ballard-area families inside the Ballard High School boundary, drawing the northern line roughly at Carkeek Park. But this option has fallen off the list, and many parents in North Ballard, Crown Hill, North Beach and Blue Ridge are not happy about it.

The new option, called scenario F (above), draws the line at 80th St. instead of Carkeek Park. (In the map, green is Ballard High, brown is Ingraham and purple is Lincoln. There are several versions of scenario F — this is version 2 .pdf — but the northern cut-off remains 80th St. in each).

That means any families to the north of 80th will attend Ingraham High School, which is located up at 135th St., above Bitter Lake. If you live at 24th Ave. and 83rd St., for example, that’s 4.5 miles away. Ballard High is 1.5 miles away.

Then there’s the other option, called scenario H version 3 (above and .pdf). While the Carkeek Park boundary is preserved, the southeastern boundary is at Ballard High School itself: homes to the south of 65th At. and to the west of 15th Ave. — the West Woodland neighborhood — fall inside the boundary for Lincoln High. You could live a block from BHS, but go to school in Wallingford.

“North Ballard parents do not support either of these plans,” explains a new site, North Ballard Parents, created to rally opposition to the proposals. “We support our neighborhood and community all being allowed to attend Ballard High School. Seattle Public Schools shut down the high school serving Magnolia and Queen Anne, and now Ballard is paying the price.”

The organizers of North Ballard Parents have created a petition on which has 1,290 signatures and counting.

Another site, Save Seattle Schools, urges parents to “tell the board and the superintendent you will be voting no on the operations levy in Feb. 2019.”

Seattle Schools says the new scenarios take into consideration the potential changes in the highly capable pathways at the high school level. “We heard overwhelmingly that families want increased and equal access to advanced courses offered closer to home,” explains a November post on the Seattle Schools site.

The Magnolia neighborhood has worked hard lobbying the High School Boundary Task Force — which is tasked with creating the proposed boundaries — to remain inside the Ballard High School zone. One of its primary arguments: the commute from Magnolia to Wallingford would be problematic — as much as 74 minutes each way on Metro.

The task force is expected to present its recommendations to the school board on January 3rd, and the board is slated to vote on the final boundary map two weeks later on January 17th.

Your thoughts on the boundaries? Let us know in comments…

61 comments on “Ballard gets squeezed by proposed school boundaries, parents fight back”

  1. Let’s let Magnolia and North Beach parents fight it out, cage-match style.

  2. This is one of those times you see the true colors of a white Seattle “liberal”.

  3. By the way, there is no such area as “North Ballard” above 85th. Pretty much every city map shows Ballard ending at 85th. Now, maybe they think getting cutesy and calling themselves “North Ballard” is justification to have their snowflakes sent to “Ballard” HS, but it isn’t.

  4. This isn’t about Magnolia verses North Beach. This is about a city that is growing faster and denser than the school district can efficiently manage. You would think that the opening of Lincoln High School would offer enough relief for Ballard’s overcrowding, but it’s clearly not enough. Some of the projections show Ballard overcapacity again as soon as 2021, even WITH the new boundaries.

  5. I’d love for my kids to be able to attend Ballard HS – it’s a 10/10 on great – Ingraham is a 4/10 due to some serious academic challenges. Further, Ballard HS is 1.5 miles away, Ingraham is 4.5 miles away. Even more, my kids are growing up with and making lifelong friends at Loyal Heights Elementary. I’d hate to see them broken up for high School due to this proposal. This white seattle liberal will sure look out for his snow flakes.

  6. Once again the district kowtows to magnolia. Ever since the snowflake woman sued them that her daughter’s civil rights were being violated by not getting into Ballard. Funny how no one’s civil rights were violated before the school was remodeled in 1999. Sorry but if you knowingly and willingly live in a neighborhood with no high school then you go where there’s room. Don’t kick other kids out of their neighborhood school.

  7. So the proposal that ends at 80th will have all the kids from 80th- 85th (within the ‘Ballard’ boundaries) drive 5 miles north?! That’s ridiculous. And Magnolia residents knew they weren’t moving into a neighborhood with a HS. Why do they get more of a voice? One positive thing about Ingraham (besides it being a pretty good school), is that kids that play sports have a lot field. Pretty sure the neighbors of BHS have vetoed the lights for sports activities.

  8. Neighborhood families who want to put in time and physical participation have my support. If you just want to write a check, find another school. What makes Ballatd High School successful is the participation of families – current students and their families, alumni families and Ballard High School alumni.


    The new maps put out this week has proposals for the boundary to be at 80th. So, will you then petition to change the official Ballard border to 80th to match up? We wouldn’t not want an influx of more snow flakes.

    The other option put the Lincoln HS boundary at 65th and 15th. So, if you are across 65th from BHS, you go to Lincoln instead of BHS so some kid in Magnolia can go to BHS instead.

    Do the math – the boundary today is 85th. The map options they published have it at 80th. How long before it becomes 77th? 75th? Where do you live OBF? The north is clearly squeezing and already crossing your Ballard border at 80th. Another version of the map wipes out south of 65th and east of 15th. At what point for you does it start to get ridiculous?

  10. So I have my grandson in Magnolia and he has been with the same friends same kids since kindergarten and he will be a junior in High School at that time. I think it’s wrong to uproot kids that are working hard in programs for their own future. These children that are in sports , academic programs, engineering, biotech or other opportunities Ballard High has to offer for the children heading to colleges. Seriously the children already established in Nallard at that time is what needs to be addressed they are planning their future. High school from 9th to 12th grade is a plan don’t mess with their plan.
    If they are incoming Freshman that’s different and seriously Magnolia to Wallingford those children would spend 3 hours a day just getting to school and home!
    I think Ballard High School boundaries should be all of Magnolia / 85th to ballard bridge north south / water to 3rd ave west to east goes to Ballard high school!
    Lincoln would be all of Queen Anne / 3rd ave / 65th/ Greenwood/ Wallingford / Fremont/ and university district boundaries also to Lincoln all the way

  11. Linda Gleason

    From where I live, it is several hours bus time from Crown Hill to Ingraham and back as well, with the main transfer point being on Aurora. Why is it okay for these kids to spend hours on a bus but not your grandson?

    All your reasons for wanting to go to Ballard are fine – except they are our reasons too and WE CAN WALK to BHS.

    Can you list one rationale reason why a kid who can walk to BHS (in one map, literally across the street) should not actually go to BHS so your grandchild can go to BHS? Why should a kid who is significantly closer have to move schools for your kid?

  12. “We don’t like any of these proposals, but we don’t have any suggestions of our own.”

    Sounds like the Ballard I know and love!

  13. TRUTH

    Not sure where you’re getting that. Scenario H version 2 was the one that was recommended by the boundary taskforce based on the guiding principles and data. That version was preferred by most within closer proximity to Ballard.

    These new maps released this week is what everyone is up in arms about….none of them make sense. 80th makes even less sense than 85th in one of the scenarios. In the other 65th and 15th makes zero sense.

    Scenario H version 2 is the “suggestion” I guess

  14. I know a solution. Change the school’s name to “Malcolm X High” and watch everyone flee.

  15. For those people who say Magnolia kids should just go where they’re put is unreasonable, Magnolia did have a school, it is Ballard. They pay the taxes same as everyone else and we are all one city. For someone to say they should go to Ballard because they live close doesn’t make sense when Magnolia students would have to pass Ballard on the way to Lincoln. We want to keep transportation time to a minimum.
    As you can image from my comments, I am a Magnolia resident but I also totally get the arguments from the Ballard folks and they also have merit. The bottom line is the school board has just done a terrible job here with a complete lack of transparency and failure to look at all the variables. The fact they did not look at transportation is a disgrace. Also when one of their tenets favored HC students they immediately put themselves in legal jeopardy, they cannot favor some students over another.
    I think the main problem here is they are trying to reduce the radius of the impact when what they should just do is draw a radius around a all high schools until they reach a limit. The radius should extend outward toward the city borders first and then inward. While it would lead to significant disruption, it’s the right thing to do.
    Oh and they need to put a shovel in the dirt somewhere downtown NOW!

  16. I take issue with the “North Ballard” (is that a real place?) Parents running a negative campaign by falsely describing Lincoln as “a new high school in Wallingford for Magnolia & QA students” in their petition.

    SPS is opening a high school. Period. Who goes there is still TBD.

    If Ballard High School were called something else, perhaps there wouldn’t be such a sense of entitlement.

    This Seattle Times article references a quote from 1907, when Lincoln was built, saying the hour-long commute from Queen Anne was an “extraordinary proposition.”

    I can understand why families with students who might end up at Lincoln are still concerned about the commute 110 years later.

    Queen Anne to BHS and Lincoln are roughly equidistant. Magnolia to BHS and Lincoln are not. Magnolia to Lincoln is a much longer commute than to BHS. This is a legitimate concern.

  17. I agree with RIGHT THE WRONG and PARPAILLOU.

    The current Task Force recommendation is Scenario Hv2, which has North Ballard students attending Ballard High School.

    This article is incorrect. The Task Force’s recommendation has not changed.

  18. “I take issue with the “North Ballard” (is that a real place?)”

    It’s not.

    Maybe Magnolia parents should start calling the North Beach and Blue Ridge neighborhoods “South Ingraham”

  19. @Right the Wrong:

    Mea culpa. I did not glean that there was a reasonable alternative that was put forth and rejected. Digging through the SPS link clearly details the actual case.

  20. The Task Force has not rejected Scenario Hv2.

    It remains the recommended scenario.

  21. Olympic Manor, North Beach and Blue Ridge were never called North Ballard but their kids all went to Ballard High School for severalgenerations. Magnolia had a high school, too. It was Queen Anne High School. It closed the same year as Lincoln – 1981. To say Magnolia kids have more of a “right” to BHS than those north of 85th is a bit bizarre…….

  22. @Old Beave:

    I don’t think anyone has said Magnolia students have more of a “right” to attend BHS than students north of 85th.

    I understand Magnolia’s main concern is the transportation situation between Magnolia and Lincoln. That seems like a real concern.

    “North Ballard” students have attended Ingraham for some time. Maintaining the status quo for them and Magnolia students seems reasonable until and unless there is a downtown high School or one at Fort Lawton.

  23. Drive past Ballard to get to Lincoln from Magnolia? You need a new mapping program. You don’t have to go to 65th to get back to 45th.

    Lincoln is not closer to Magnolia than Ballard, but Ballard is not exactly a walk in the park to get to from Magnolia either. It is not like you can walk to Ballard and are instead being asked to go further away. It is a trek either way, is it not? I frankly still have not heard a rationale argument why a kid who can walk to BHS cannot go to BHS in favor of a kid who is 4 miles away….whether that’s Magnolia or anywhere else.

    I understand it is not the fault of Magnolia that SPS lacked foresight and didn’t keep a high school closer to them. When there were no other viable options other than Franklin, I understood that and could even rationalize 85th back then. However, in my opinion, now there is a viable option in Lincoln so the boundaries should be put back. Saving Mag from going 5 miles to Lincoln to 4 miles to Ballard so someone who is a mile from Ballard to have to go 4 to Ingraham does not add up to me.

    Would Magnolia residents have sued SPS to get into Ballard in the first place after the new building opened if Lincoln was open at the time? Would 85th have ever been made a boundary if Lincoln was open?

    I think kids within walking distance should have first priority. Beyond that, then let kids from outside of that area in. Maybe that means some from Magnolia get in and some need to go to Lincoln. It is also unclear to me why it is a foregone conclusion that all of Magnolia has to stay together.

  24. I think it should be decided based on the amount of property taxes each neighborhood pays. Since Magnolia pays more property taxes than those north of 85th, their children should receive precedence in attending BHS. I’m sure SPS and Mike O’Brien feel this way.


    I prefer the cage match idea. Magnolia Vs. The mythical neighborhood of “North” Ballard.

    Tag team.

    Angry stay-at-home moms only.

  26. @Walk to School:

    “It is also unclear to me why it is a foregone conclusion that all of Magnolia has to stay together.”

    Given the egress/ingress of Magnolia and the bus routes, how would you propose dividing Magnolia?

  27. @long walk

    How about arbitrarily just like SPS carves up just about every other neighborhood?

    It does not need to be geographical. It can be a waitlist just like everyone else. Those closest to the school get first preference. Once private schools and HCC and other transfers are taken into account, the other slots can just go to the waitlist first come first serve?

    Ironically, what I am describing actually happens….except the wait list is filled with kids who are walking distance to BHS and cannot get in. What is wrong with walk to school get first shot, then everyone else?

    @Magnolia United… please say more about how more taxes should allow you to have more say. And please make sure you give that feedback to our schoolboard. I am sure they would like to know that we should be basing who goes to what school based on paychecks. You are trying to employ a private school model in public schools .

  28. @Walk First:

    Waitlisting already exists for open enrollment. We’re not talking about open enrollment, rather boundaries for attendance area schools.

    You’re suggesting Magnolia have more than one attendance area high school and I’m asking you to detail how you’d propose dividing Magnolia to accomplish this.

  29. North half of Magnolia to BHS, South half to Lincoln. I don’t know the exact streets over there so pick a street. Sounds good right? That way, maybe we can get 85th pushed up to 95th and get some if each in.

    If it sounds arbitrary, it was. But based on SPS history of predicting population (check out closing the reopening Viewlands), drawing a line at 85th seemed arbitrary and those of us who live here never really got a rationale reason. Then drawing a line at 80th seemed even more arbitrary. Drawing a line at 65th and 15th is borderline insane.

    The point here is that all the arbitrary lines are in one area, but not others. Do I really think Mag should be split up like that? No. But I don’t think other neighborhoods should have to be split up either.

    I still have not heard a legit reason why a kid who can walk to BHS cannot go to BHS over someone who lives 4 miles away. Anyone?

  30. @Walk First:

    Thanks for acknowledging you’re not really proposing this split for Magnolia.

    I agree with you that students should attend a school they can get to with a reasonable commute.

    An argument against potentially allowing a kid who can walk to BHS to do so is that if they could also bus to Ingraham in less time than a Magnolia student could bus to Lincoln then allowing the Magnolia student to attend BHS and sending the kid who could walk to BHS to Ingraham is more equitable than letting them walk to BHS.

    Equity is one of the task force’s key principles. Equity is about sharing sacrifice as well as benefit.

    I think it’s awful that neighborhoods have been pitted against each other this way.

  31. @Maybe Crawl

    Yes, this really comes down to SPS. I do appreciate your perspective and taking the time to respond thoughfully.

    SPS hosed Magnolia and Queen Anne when they closed QA high and then sold the building. Although there was a lot of noise during the lawsuit and then the subsequent boundary on 85th, I think (at least for me and those I talked to) that there was general acknowledgement at that time that North of 85th to Ingraham as a sacrifice so QA and Magnolia neighborhoods could go to Ballard instead of Franklin at least was rationale. I do not feel the same way though when it comes to Lincoln. I don’t feel someone should go from walking distance to 4 miles away to save someone else from going from 4 miles to 5. In map Hv3, that has 65th/15th as the new Lincoln/Ballard boundary, I would actually NOT support that one because although I am north of 85th and that would put my kids at BHS, I would feel wrong that my kid would go there at the expense of someone who is across the street – that just is not the right boundary even though I would benefit.

    I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on “Bus to Ingraham vs Walk to BHS” is the same as “Bus to Lincoln vs Bus to BHS” is an equitable tradeoff. You also have to now add “Bus to Lincoln from 65th and 15th vs Cross the Street to BHS” based on map Hv3. Magnolia has bus in either scenario and “Walk” does not. It then creates busing need where one does not need to be – if there is budget for that, how about just send that add-on bus to Lincoln to serve Magnolia? I do get what you are saying though. Bus to anywhere from Magnolia is painful. Traffic is getting worse in the city and the transportation infrastructure is not keeping up – there are a lot of layers there. I have done the bus to Ingraham with the transfer on Aurora and can validate it sucks too. However, my personal opinion is this: SPS hosed Magnolia and QA – Magnolia in particular as I stated above. That is something that SPS should resolve with Magnolia specifically – if transportation is the key issue, then perhaps add more than normal bus service to Magnolia to get them to Lincoln. Although I really do believe in equity, I don’t believe it is equitable to solve that problem by unecessarily disrupting Phinney, Ballard 80th and above (Ingraham) or 65th/15th (Lincoln), Crown Hill, Olympic Manor and Blue Ridge. SPS needs to own that problem by either putting a school back that is within 2-3 miles, OR providing sufficient transportation

  32. “Olympic Manor, North Beach and Blue Ridge were never called North Ballard but their kids all went to Ballard High School for several generations.”

    So what? So they should go there for ever? No neighborhood ‘owns’ a publicly funded, city school, even if they try to get cute and rename their neighborhood “North Ballard”.

    You want to bet when they sell their Blue Ridge and North Beach homes they won’t list them as “North Ballard” homes?

  33. @Old Ballard

    Agree that “North Ballard” is a little rich and unfortunately distracts from the issue.

    I don’t think those of us in that area think there is a claim to BHS. I think if the area around the school swelled to the point that we got squeezed north, a sane person would understand that.

    You keep commenting, but don’t really comment on the question. Put aside the “north Ballard” stuff for sec – Do you think kids north of 80th have to go to Ingraham so kids in Magnolia can go to BHS? Why or why not?

  34. I agree with Scenarios E, F, or G. All should be acceptable to BOTH “North Ballard” and Magnolia.

    Maybe these neighborhoods should skip the cage match and combine forces.

    There are THREE options on the table that serve their collective interests.

  35. I’m one of the organizers of Magnolia4BHS, the parent/student group responsible for Magnolia’s petition and other lobbying efforts.

    If an organizer from North Ballard Parents would like to discuss the possibility of jointly supporting a specific map scenario (particularly Scenarios, E, F, or G), we would be open to this.

    Based on our intel, all these options are still on the table.

    It seems counterproductive to direct each of our efforts at championing a “zero sum game” scenario between our neighborhoods when multiple “win-win” options exist.

    Message us through our Facebook page if interested:

  36. One issue has to do with the HC (highly capable) programs in SPS. Currently, the program at Garfield is a major contributor to overcrowding at Garfield. To address this, SPS has recommended putting an HC program at Ballard High School (BHS). That specialty program will bring hundreds of additional kids to Ballard, many of whom live outside of the current BHS boundaries. This is one reason that they need shrink the boundaries for BHS. A better option would be to put an HC program at the renovated Lincoln High School. They could then fill Lincoln with kids from Wallingford, Queen Anne, and the HC program. That would significantly reduce the need to aggressively cut the boundaries for BHS.

  37. @SPS Needs a Better Plan:

    I agree with your username, but you’re only partially correct.

    There are currently four HC pathway scenarios under consideration. One of these will be paired with a corresponding high school boundary map:

    1) Lincoln/Garfield
    2) Ingraham/Garfield
    3) Ballard/Roosevelt/Garfield/West Seattle
    4) Eliminate pathways altogether (need to confirm by when)

  38. The HC program cannot have an affect on the selection process. It is discriminatory, there is no way it would hold up in a court of law.

  39. @ THELAW

    I agree with you 100%. If a single non-HC student is displaced in favor of an HC one, it would likely not stand up in court.

    That said, going to court won’t help the non-HC student in the short run, only the threat of it will.

    Like it or not, the proposed policies toward HC students are more favorable than toward non-HC students and the HC pathways and high school boundaries are a joint exercise.

  40. @ANNOYED

    School districts and neighborhoods don’t align. People in the neighborhood of Ballard have no more right to attend BHS than someone living in Magnolia, in fact given transportation needs those in Magnolia should be served by BHS first. Perhaps you are annoyed because you see the name Ballard in the name of the school and then interpret that as meaning it’s specifically for the Ballard neighborhood? Again, neighborhoods do not hold any legal bind to a school in way way and is not an argument that should continued to be peddled here.

  41. Magnolia residents choose to live on an Island. To attend High School, their kids have to travel miles regardless of which school they attend. I say we all rise up and refuse to let their choice be everyone else’s inconvenience.

  42. Even though the growth boundary website says they are recommending Hv2 that scenario was recently “rejected” as a recommended scenarios and the new scenarios linked to in the article are now the front runners. SPS has yet to properly update their website (which is not surprising).

    Also, instead of commenting the best action to take is emailing the school board, the growth task force and the specific school board director for your neighborhood.

    Most of us do not have all the data that SPS does on growth & demographics which is why neither magnolia nor north ballard parents has drawn their own solutions. BUT what we can do is tell SPS what out priorities are. If you feel schools should be assigned by location and walkability then EMAIL SPS and if you feel the high capable pathways should be a top consideration then EMAIL SPS. But please don’t sit on the comments arguing because SPS won’t read these.

  43. I’m fine either way. Either Magnolia will stay at BHS, in which case, combined with the future growth for Ballard (those condos can fit LOTS of kids), it will just be overcrowded again anyway in very short order – in which case, I’d just prefer Ingraham at that point. OR Magnolia goes to Lincoln and there is room for those to the north again. It’s either much easier transportation to a school that is super full, or go another 2-3 miles northeast to Ingraham to a school that is presumably smaller. The stories I hear from current BHS parents I know on how crowded it is make the population of the school the big issue for me over the proximity.

    I do agree with all the transportation concerns voiced by the people of Magnolia. I agree because they are pretty the exact same transportation concerns that were voiced when 85th became the boundary. They are the same transportation concerns that play out every day when kids get on two buses to go to Ingraham with transfer point either on Aurora (lots of life lessons learned at 105th and Aurora) or Meridian depending on the schedule. It sucks. The difference there is that our transportation issues are manufactured by SPS. There is a high school nearby. We just can’ go to it. Magnolia kids have to take multiple buses to BHS right now anyway right? Some bus to get to 15th and then the D line?

    I just don’t see a scenario where both Magnolia AND those to the north both fit in BHS along with kids who actually live in Ballard. That math does not add up when you look at the numbers. In map Hv3, that has both neighborhoods in BUT it comes at the expense of those who live across the street from the school – I just can’t in good faith support a map like that when it favors kids further away over kids close to the school. I’d like to be wrong on that, so if someone has a map with the enrollment numbers that shows this could work, then post it. If anything, if Magnolia stays in BHS, that north boundary will just continue to move south over time as the population in Ballard and Magnolia grow. So, if you are living in that 67th to 85th area, you better keep paying attention, or you will soon be Ingraham Rams also. I never actually thought I’d say that, but those who are just north of 80th are getting that reality check right now.

  44. ” I say we all rise up and refuse to let their choice be everyone else’s inconvenience.”

    What are you going to do, pull up Ballard’s draw bridge and hide behind your moat?

    What this is all about is families north of 85th got cut off in 2008 (?) when boundaries were introduced and their kids were sent to Ingraham, which is, um, err, how do we put this delicately, a more ‘diverse’ school. Apparently for some people living in the fantasyland of “North ballard” that was too much.

  45. @Old Ballard – you’re outdated. not just about 85th anymore. One map has a boundary at 80th, another has one at 65th and 15th for Lincoln. You’re good with kids who live across from BHS not going to BHS? I don’t even live in that area but, that’s wrong.

    Hey I’m all for calling out snowflakes and telling people to suck it up, but the new maps don’t make sense….

    I’m not sure how ‘diversity’ got in the conversation. There is no issue with Ingraham the school or even Lincoln the school. The issue is WHERE Ingraham is, relative to WHERE BHS is, relative to WHERE people live and who gets to go where and who decides all that.

  46. Old Fort… ha!

    I live between 80th and 81st… they are proposing that we get moved to Ingraham high school… Even though we are about 20 blocks away from Ballard high school. The whole thing is moronic. That is why I believe the folks from Magnolia can drive somewhere else. Regardless of what high school they attend, they will have to drive a significant distance. That’s what happens when you choose to is iscolate yourself.

Login or register (optional)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *