New school maps show minor Ballard changes

The new Seattle School boundary maps have been released with several changes affecting Ballard families. The most-anticipated change is the boundary for Ballard High School (see new map): the northern line remains NW 85th St., but the eastern line has shifted from Aurora Ave. to Greenwood Ave. — and a section around Green Lake has been moved to Roosevelt High.

The new map is above. The old map is below.

“The changes reflect balancing capacity at north‐end schools, preserving capacity at Ballard to accommodate a projected increase in student enrollment, and enabling more students to walk to Roosevelt,” Seattle Schools explained in this .pdf document posted this evening. “Changes requested but unable to be made include extending the northern boundary beyond NW 85th St., because it would have put Ballard over its functional capacity.”

There’s also a small change to the boundaries for both Whittier Elementary School and Whitman Middle School (see new map). The new map is above, the old map is below. The southern boundary, including for Loyal Heights Elementary, has been shifted just a bit.

“The changes reflect community desires to have the Whittier attendance area reflect more closely its surrounding neighborhoods and enable more students to walk to elementary schools within this attendance area,” Seattle Schools said. “The changes also reflect more recent 2009‐10 data; the proposed boundaries for this attendance area were based on older 2008‐09 data available at the time. These data show an increase in the growth for the Greenwood, Loyal Heights, and Whittier attendance area; boundaries were adjusted to accommodate this growth.” Let us know your reactions in comments below…

October 14th: Ballard residents speak out about boundary maps

Ballard High School warns of possible scam

Ballard High School says they’ve received several calls in the last few days from neighbors and businesses asking about a donation drive for a sports calendar. BHS says someone — or a group of people — are claiming to be students and calling around soliciting donations for the calendar, but it appears to be a scam. Kristina Anderson, the Athletic Director and Activity Director at Ballard High School, sent us an email with details:

They are asking for credit card numbers or check routing numbers. No such fundraiser is currently happening in this manner. Another neighbor just reported that she was approached today at her door by someone “who looked much older than a high school student” asking for a donation for a fundraiser to clean up 15th Ave NW. When she refused to donate he left in a very rude and inappropriate manner calling her some choice names. This is all a scam. Do not give these people any information.

If Ballard HS students or family members are engaged in any fundraising efforts on behalf of the school, they should be properly identifying themselves and be able to provide literature as to their cause. Please do not give any type of donation to anyone who looks suspicious or cannot produce additional information when prompted. Feel free to call the school with any concerns or questions.

Mini-grants to encourage walking/biking to school

The Seattle Department of Transportation is giving away up to $1,000 mini-grants to schools, PTAs or other school-related nonprofit groups that encourage students to walk or ride their bikes to school or improve walk and bike safety. All schools, both public and private, are eligible to apply.

“Mini-Grant funds can be used to create a Walking School Bus, plan a Bike Rodeo, organize a Bike Train, create incentive programs encouraging walking &/or biking to school,or purchase new safety gear for school crossing guard programs,” the SDOT website states. Last year several Ballard-area schools benefited from this program. The Bike Commuters of Ballard HS, the Loyal Heights PTA “Undriving” program, North Beach PTA “Pedestrian Safety and Encouragement” program, the Salmon Bay Walking School Bus, and the West Woodland Bike Safety Training program all received grants. Applications (.pdf) must be submitted by October 30th.

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.”

Volunteers help clean up Salmon Bay School

A group of parents at Salmon Bay School spent some time this weekend cleaning up the landscaping surrounding the school, and there was plenty of dead brush and weeds to clear away.

Parents on the school’s gardening committee volunteer their time four or five times a year. They said they’re happy to save the school district a little money on landscaping, and they’re hoping to plant a butterfly garden on the east side of the school in the next few months.

School attendance area boundary maps released

The Seattle Public Schools has just released the proposed attendance area boundary maps. Here’s a link to find all the attendance areas by school. Here is a link to Ballard High School’s attendance area. You can also click on the yellow badge on right of this page to lookup your schools by address.

Parents raised concerns that Ballard students would be bussed to Ingraham High School while Queen Anne and Magnolia students went to Ballard High School. According to the map, the cutoff is NW 85th St. Any high school student north of there will go to Ingraham, south of there will go to Ballard.

As part of the Student Assignment Plan (.pdf) which was approved in June, the district was given the green light to draw boundaries around each school so students will know where he or she will go to elementary, middle and high school based on their address. There will be no more district-wide open enrollment to apply for schools.

The district also announced that it plans to reopen Viewlands Elementary School at 10525 3rd Ave. NW.

The district will hold informational meetings throughout the city to hear feedback on the attendance areas. “I urge families to review the boundary maps and to give us their feedback,” said superintendent Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. “We will be listening, and we will review comments as we evaluate any needed adjustments in the boundaries. An extensive schedule of community meetings; an on-line survey; brochures and comments cards are just some of the ways we are reaching out to as many families as possible.” The meeting for our area will be held at Ballard High School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on October 14th. The School Board will vote on the map on November 18th. The entire plan will be implemented in phases starting in the 2010-2011 school year for students at entry-grade levels—usually kindergarten, 6th, and 9th grades.

Students to take the ‘walking school bus’

Some students at West Woodland Elementary will be taking the “walking school bus” on Wednesday as part of the International Walk to School Day. West Woodland organizer Malva emails that there will be twelve “school buses” walking to school tomorrow with kids and parent leaders, so be on the lookout when you’re on the road. “The event highlights the benefits of walking or bicycling to school for health, for the environment, and to promote safe routes to schools for pedestrians and cyclists,” she writes, “As West Woodland students arrive tomorrow, they will be greeted with a Great Harvest bread stick.”

Apparent suicide near Whittier Elementary

Police responded at 5:30 a.m. to the east side of Whittier Elementary School, on 13th and 75th, to investigate an apparent suicide. “There appeared to be a body on the ground and the police were setting things up for an investigation,” said My Ballard reader Wes, who was walking his dog at 6:15 a.m. Police had the area taped off for much of the morning.

Police tell us they’re conducting an investigation and it “appears to be a suicide.” My Ballard typically does not report on suicides, but given the public nature of this death, we decided to post a short story. (Thanks everyone for your tips.)

Assignment Plan boundary map to be released

As part of the Student Assignment Plan (.pdf), the Seattle Public Schools will release the new attendance area boundary maps on October 6th. The plan, which was approved in June, gave the district the green light to draw boundaries around each school so students will know where he or she will go to elementary, middle and high school based on their address. There will be no more district-wide open enrollment to apply for schools.

Some Ballard parents are concerned because there’s been speculation that Magnolia and Queen Anne high schoolers will be assigned to Ballard, while Ballard-area high schoolers will be sent to Ingraham.

The attendance area maps will be released here once a School Board workshop gets underway at 4 p.m. on Oct. 6th. The district will hold informational meetings throughout the city to hear feedback on the attendance areas. The meeting for our area will be held at Ballard High School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on October 14th. The School Board will vote on the map on November 18th. The entire plan will be implemented in phases starting in the 2010-2011 school year.