The QAE PTSA and other parents from our school attended the June 19th community meeting on the Magnolia School Boundaries. There was a large crowd including parents from all the schools in Queen Anne and Magnolia. Here's our notes from the meeting:
Boundaries Survey - Great Response from the QAE Community! SPS sent out a survey at the end of May to all families who attend schools in the Queen Anne and Magnolia areas. Queen Anne Elementary had 287 responses, the second most amongst all the schools. Thanks to our community for being so involved! QAE's overwhelming choice amongst the 13 options was Scenario C with 71% of our families selecting it as one of their top three options.
Top Boundary Options from the Survey Ashley Davies, Director of Enrollment Planning at SPS, presented the scenarios that received the most votes in the boundaries survey. She said that nothing was final, but the original 13 options were likely narrowed down to these 5 or 6 options. She did mentioned that any of them could be tweaked as needed.
Scenario C - one of the original six options. No change to QAE or John Hay boundaries. Portions of the current west and north Coe area are re-zoned for Magnolia and Lawton. (The QAE PTSA recommended this as one of the scenarios that does the best at adding capacity for growth while minimizing disruption across schools).
Scenario D - one of the original six options. Similar to C, but with slight change in Blaine/Magnolia boundary dividing line. (The QAE PTSA recommended this as one of the scenarios that does the best at adding capacity for growth while minimizing disruption across schools).
Scenario H - Switch to all schools becoming attendance area schools, no option school in Queen Anne/Magnolia cluster.
Scenario J - Magnolia becomes the option school, all other schools are attendance area schools.
Scenario M - Blaine becomes a K-8 option school, all other schools are attendance area schools.
Scenario K - while this wasn't one of the top options, it appeared that they were also considering this. In this scenario both Blaine and McClure are middle schools, all other schools are elementaries. QAE remains an option school and no K-8 at Blaine.
Magnolia School Construction Costs & Potential Delay SPS received bids on the Magnolia School construction that were approximately $5 million over budgets. The district will likely re-look at the project and see where they can cut costs and get new bids in the fall. This likely means that the opening of Magnolia may be delayed from the beginning of the 2018-19 school year to the 2019-20 school year. This change to timeline might take away some of the sense of urgency in drawing new boundaries. There was a concern from the audience that if new boundaries are drawn this Fall, they might have to change again prior to the school opening.
Fort Lawton Development Discussion Some members of the audience brought up the planned development of new housing on Fort Lawton by the City of Seattle. This will add more children to the Queen Anne/Magnolia area. Audience members were advocating that the school district and the city consider using some portion of the Fort Lawton area for a new STEAM (science and environment, technology, engineering, arts, math) school.
Recap - May 1st Boundaries Meeting at McClure
The meeting had three sections: Opening Remarks, Break Out Sessions, and Comment Period.
Opening Remarks: Ashley Davies – Enrollment Planning for SPS
Opened with introductions of SPS staff and SPS Board Members
Introduced parent leaders from all 5 schools who recently met to uncover common ground and solutions to capacity issues for QA/Magnolia (Heath Dixon, Ian Stewart, and Karrie Sanderson are the QAE parent reps on this group)
Ashley walked through the presentation, highlighting the new material. The new materials included:
QA/Mag Middle School student density
Walk zones for all schools in QA/Mag
Neighborhood counts vs. capacity for all of QA/Magnolia
Proximity Polygons for all schools in QA/Mag that show the closest school for each polygon.
Two new Scenarios assuming that QAE becomes a neighborhood school – Scenarios G and H
Starting point "Pro / Con " list of each of the scenarios presented
Break-out session: Posters of the currently proposed 8 boundary scenarios (A-F) in the attachment were on the walls around the room. Attendees were encouraged to view each scenario and write comments on a comment sheet about what they saw as the pros and cons for each scenario.
A bit more info on Scenarios G and H:
Scenario G - This scenario redraws ALL boundaries for every school in QA/Mag cluster so each school is under their 'right sized" capacity. However, this scenarios shows the similar section of the current Coe area STILL assigned to Lawton as in scenarios A-F. Scenario G, the attempt draw boundaries that keep all schools at or below capacity, results in a significant increase in students who are disrupted from their current schools and there are STILL kids from QA that have to get bused to Magnolia.
Scenario H – This scenario is an attempt to keep all kids who live on QA (east of 15th Ave) in QA schools (Coe, Hay, or QAE). However, both Coe and Hay remain OVER their capacity in this scenario. Basically, if you want all QA kids to go to QA schools, both Hay and Coe will be over capacity. And the necessary boundaries are drawn in such a gerrymandered way that students 2 blocks from Coe would have to go to QAE.
Open Comments from Attendees:
Using a lottery system, attendees were invited up to speak and share their thoughts on the current set of scenarios
Most speakers were focused on scenarios G and H since they were new vs. the previous meeting
Many speakers were from the current Coe community and they spoke passionately about NOT having to bus their children from QA to Magnolia, so they were advocating for Scenarios G and H which turn QAE into a neighborhood school.
Several non-QAE speakers discussed an idea to make QAE a neighborhood school and then creating an Option School “cohort” within QAE with any extra seats going to neighborhood students assigned to QAE. QAE parent leadership at the meeting expressed that there is NOT support for this idea (nor do we have full details of what the idea entails)
QAE speakers spoke about:
The important role QAE already plays toward relieving capacity for Coe, Hay, and other schools.
The importance of having an Option School that meets the learning needs of students who might not thrive at a more traditional school.
The large increase in number of students that would be disrupted in Scenarios G and H, compared to A - F for little to no real gain in capacity relief for the schools that are requesting QAE become a neighborhood school.
Recap - March 29th Community Meeting at QAE
On Wednesday, March 29th, Ashley Davies, Director of Enrollment Planning for Seattle Public Schools, met with Queen Anne Elementary parents to discuss the current status of Magnolia Elementary boundary plans, and how that might affect Queen Anne Elementary. Thanks to all those members of the QAE community who were able to attend. We had a packed house!
We learned that based on direction from two School Board Directors, Ms. Davies has been instructed to research a variety of additional scenarios for changing attendance area boundaries, including the possibility of changing QAE from an option school to a neighborhood attendance school, keeping QAE as an option program but moving it to the new Magnolia campus, and maintaining QAE with no changes.
Ms. Davies was clear that this is only at the investigation stage, and she was clear that they will consider all of the impacts of these changes, including the number of students impacted, how changes are implemented, impact of grandfathering students at current schools (particularly at an option school), walkability, and future growth projections.
Ms. Davies noted that this would be the first time an option school was changed to a neighborhood school, so it would not be a casual change. There is plenty of time for QAE families to make our voices heard on the subject. The timeline for decision-making:
Community Meeting at Hay Elementary next week
Spring meetings with Enrollment Planning Team
September 2017: Enrollment Team makes 1 proposal to Operations Committee
October 2017: Operations Committee introduces final proposal to School Board
Later October 2017/November 2017: School board action (decision)