School board to discuss boundaries this evening

The school boundary task force will be discussing its two mapping options with the school board in a working session this evening (Wednesday).

As we’ve reported before, both options are similar for Ballard, drawing the line for Ballard High School at 85th St. to the north and 48th St. to the south.

“Staff will use the feedback from the board to create a boundary change proposal that will be included in the Board Action Report for introduction on January 17,” the agenda explains.
In advance of the meeting, the district released this packet of materials (big .PDF file) with the two proposed maps and supporting data.

No final decisions will be made at the meeting — the final vote is scheduled for January 31st — although changes to the existing options could be made. The agenda does not show any time for feedback from the public. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. in the board auditorium of the John Stanford Center, 2445 3rd. Ave. S.

School boundaries boil down to 2 options

Updated: The task force charged with drawing new high school boundaries in North Seattle has narrowed the maps down to two options, according to a report from KING 5 on Friday night. Then the school district followed up on Saturday evening by publishing the two new maps, and it said additional modifications may be made before the final selection.

Here’s scenario F version 4.2:

And scenario F version 6:

Both options draw the northern line at 85th St., not 80th St., including all of Loyal Heights, Whittier Heights and Sunset Hill (minus the Golden Gardens area north of 85th) inside the Ballard High School boundary.

Both maps also include most of West Woodland, drawing the line at 48th St. (we initially reported 50th St.), cutting off the southern portion of the neighborhood. Everyone to the north would go to BHS, everyone to the south would go to Lincoln High.

The eastern line is set at 3rd Ave. The only difference between the two options in our area affects a chunk of Greenwood between 3rd and Greenwood Ave.

Both options also retain Magnolia inside the BHS boundary.

What’s next? On January 10th, the school board is holding a work session with the task force and will determine which of the two scenarios to introduce before the board on January 17th. Then on January 31st, the board expects to make the final vote. Compared to earlier timelines, this extends the process by a couple weeks.

We’ll keep you updated.

Proposed high school boundaries introduced to board tonight

The controversial proposal to redraw the Ballard High School boundary will be introduced to the school board tonight. Just over a dozen Seattle residents are slated to speak before the board — several about Ballard High specifically.

As we wrote last month, the latest proposed maps either exclude a chunk of North Ballard — which would go to Ingraham near Bitter Lake — or move West Woodland to the new high school in Wallingford. Under these scenarios, Magnolia remains in the Ballard High zone.

The meeting begins at 4:15 this afternoon (Wednesday) at 2445 3rd Avenue S. Public testimony is scheduled for 5:30, and the board is expected to discuss the issue sometime after 6:30. The meeting is scheduled to adjourn at 8:30 p.m.

The board is not making any decisions today. It has a work meeting scheduled for the 10th, then the full board is expected to make a decision on the 17th. We’ll keep you updated…

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 Change.org 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…

Local group fights to save Loyal Heights Elementary playground

A group of parents, friends and neighbors from the Loyal Heights Elementary community have banded together to try and save the fate of the playground on the school grounds.

Loyal Heights Elementary is set to undergo a major expansion starting in 2016 to accommodate the increasing demand of the local growing population. The school is set to expand its current capacity of 450 students to approximately 650-800 students and must rearrange physical attributes of the school in order to do so.

The $37.3 million expansion project is currently underway under the direction of Seattle Public Schools who believe that the project “will address current and projected elementary enrollment growth in northwest Seattle.”

Despite acknowledging the benefits that the expansion will provide the local parents and neighbors have some concerns. “While many of the proposed changes will be of great benefit to our expanding student body, we are concerned that the building plans include a severe reduction in outdoor play space,” writes the local group on their website.

According to the local group, the current proposal is set to cut the outdoor playground space in half, leaving 3000 square meters for outdoor activities. “To put that in perspective, a soccer field is approx. 6000 square meters,” writes the group.

The expansion project is set to include a new building that will house one new classroom per grade and recess will be staggered by grade. If all goes ahead as planned the group states that “108-133 students (the equivalent of 10-12 soccer teams) will be playing on a space about half the size of a soccer field.”

The group has created the below table to compare the amount of outdoor play space that the new expansion will offer each student versus other schools in our area:

myballard_school1

myballard_school2

In addition to the impact on Loyal Heights students, the local group is concerned about the impact that the lack of outdoor space will have on the local community.

“This play field is heavily utilized by the community, both after school and on the weekends. It is the only playground west of 24th and north of 65th outside of Golden Gardens. By limiting this play field, Seattle Public Schools will be taking away a valuable public resource,” writes the group.

The group is encouraging locals to write to Seattle Public Schools board members and officials and voice their concerns.

Click here to learn more about the expansion and the local group who are fighting to save the outdoor playground space.

SDOT install flashing beacons at Whitman Middle School

New flashing beacons have recently been installed at Whitman Middle School reminding drivers to adhere to the 20 mph speed limit in school zones.  New flashing beacons were also installed at 10 other schools throughout the city to remind drivers to think about student safety.

Every school in Seattle is surrounded by signs clearly notifying drivers of the lower speed limit and these flashing beacons Before entering the school zone, drivers pass a sign alerting them that they should expect to see students. The “School – Speed Limit 20” sign marks the beginning of the reduced speed zone.

SDOT has now installed flashing beacons along with the school zone signage on arterial streets at more than 65 schools to draw more attention to the reduced speed limit.

Before and after studies indicate an overall reduction in speeding as a result of flashing beacons, with the largest impact on those drivers exceeding the speed limit by 10 or more miles per hour.

To check out the schedule of when flashing beacons will be operating at each school, visit SDOT’s website.

Always remember to stick to the 20 mph speed limit in school zones and help keep local children safe.

North Beach principal heading to Green Lake Elem.

North Beach Elementary School (9018 24th Ave NW) will have a new principal next school year.

Seattle Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson sent a letter stating that the current principal, Joanne Bowers, has requested a transfer to another school and will be assigned to the same role at Green Lake Elementary. Bowers will stay at North Beach through this school year and start at Green Lake on July 1.

“Our plan is to conduct a hiring process that includes the opportunity for the school community to participate in interviews of applicants. An interview committee will be established that will include staff and family representatives,” the letter states.

According to spokeswoman Patti Spencer, the hope is to have the new principal appointed by the end of the school year.

Stranger Alert at North Beach Elementary

North Beach Elementary School (map) has issued a warning to parents about a stranger who has been hanging out around campus.  Some parents forwarded an email (seen below) from the school to MyBallard.

Today (Tuesday), the Caucasian man, about 5’6”, scruffy beard, brown hair, riding a shiny, red bicycle, approached a child while with her family, asking if she would like a toy out of his box.  The parents of course intervened.  Parents came to office and were instructed to call police. Police were called and did not come because the man was gone.

After lunch was over, a student reported running to the fence to retrieve a ball when the bell rang.  The man (who was on the other side of the fence) asked him a question about how to get in the building at night.  Families from North Beach have also had this man near their homes or on their porch.

The principal at North Beach says security from Seattle Schools is aware of this man, who also matches the description of a man hanging out near Loyal Heights School.  Staff at North Beach is said to be on “red alert,” and parents are asked to use all necessary precautions when dropping off their children.

New Seattle school boundary maps approved

Just after 11 p.m., the Seattle School Board unanimously approved the new boundary maps assigning which schools Seattle children will attend for years to come. The vote stretched into the night as directors added amendments to the plan, slightly adjusting boundaries here and there. For the Ballard area, the boundaries for Whittier Elementary/West Woodland and Loyal Heights Elementary/Adams Elementary were shifted slightly from last round of changes. The updated maps and address look-up tool will be available here by next week.

Above is a look at the new Loyal Heights/Adams Elementary boundary change. According to the Omnibus Amendment (.pdf), “Based upon current data, it is believed that moving the southern boundary for the Loyal Heights atttendence area from Northwest 75th Street to Northwest 73rd Street starting at 32nd Avenue Northwest running east to 24th Avenue Northwest, following the jog south in Northwest 73rd Ave at 28th Avenue Northwest to 24th Ave Northwest will result in a projections of 19 students shifting from Adams to Loyal Heights. This results in the projected enrollment at Adams moving from 13 in excess of functional capacity to 20 under functional capacity. Following the streets in this manner also ensures that the students who move into the Loyal Heights atttendence area are within the Loyal Heights walk zone.”

The southern boundary for Whittier Heights Elementary was adjusted from NW 67th to NW 65th St. Students north of 65th will go to Whittier, while students south of 65th will go to West Woodland.

The biggest remaining controversy was the dividing line between Ballard High School to the south with Ingraham High School to the north.

“Many families would’ve liked to have seen the boundary for Ballard to be further north than 85th St., especially those communities, North Beach, Blue Ridge, Olympic Manor, which now largely attend Ballard High School,” explained Seattle Schools Director Peter Maier. “I wish it would’ve been possible… but there simply isn’t the capacity at Ballard High School to do that while we’re serving the entire city.”

From here, a transitional plan will be developed, taking into consideration sibling grandfathering, transportation and educational programs for schools that will reopen. Viewlands Elementary is slated to reopen in 2011.