At the community meeting at Alki Elementary on Monday, November 3rd, a large group of West Seattle parents and community members voiced their concerns on the implementation of boundary changes in West Seattle for the 2015-2016 School Year. The Growth Boundaries Plan was approved by the Board in November 2013, however, the timeline for implementation only gave specifics for the current school year (2014-2015) that were tied to the re-opening of the expanded Fairmount Park facility. The remaining changes were planned for roll out as capacity became available with the new buildings being constructed at Genesee Hill and Arbor Heights. Although the Genesee Hill construction schedule has been delayed and a new opening date of September 2016 has been given, Enrollment & Planning intends to implement the new attendance areas next year. These changes will move 2 areas from Alki Elementary (estimated 37 current students, who can remain at Alki by choice under grandfathering, and an undetermined number of new, incoming students) into the Schmitz Park attendance zone and bring out projected enrollment to 630-650 students for 2015-2016.
As a PTA, we have requested that no changes be made to attendance areas in West Seattle until the new building is ready. Today, Schmitz Park has 612 students, 17 portables, 16 in-building rooms, and only 1 bathroom each for boys & girls (excluding the 3 toilets in the kindergarten wing for our 96+ kindergartners to share.) We have 4 lunch periods. We have 2 morning recesses. But the BIGGEST CONCERN is the fact we have shortened learning periods because of the time it takes to move children through the building and, in some cases, we have had to reduce PE/Music/Library frequency because we simply cannot accommodate every class in a given week. The building struggles to serve the students we have now – yet plans for next year will expand our assignments.
In addition to our physical limitations, there are other impacts to this change:
- Pay for K: full day kindergarten at Alki is free. Schmitz Park and Lafayette are the only 2 elementary schools in West Seattle that do not qualify for funded full day kindergarten.
- Currently enrolled students in the designated areas who opt to stay “grandfathered” at Alki will lose transportation. Transportation is not provided for students outside of their assigned attendance area.
- Hiawatha, Schmitz Park’s on-site after school care, has a wait list of 45+ students due to our over enrollment and limited capacity. SPS no longer provides transportation to students to off site after care. Incoming families who are not already on the Hiawatha wait list will not have after care available unless they can organize their own transport off site.
The Growth Boundaries Plan should be amended and implementation should be delayed until Genesee Hill is ready for students. A meeting between leaders and staff at Alki, Schmitz Park and Captial, Facilities & Enrollment Planning should occur immediately to evaluate alternative options that will appropriately serve both schools’ students.
To help our cause, contact Emily Giaquinta and Angela Cough (Schmitz Park PTA Legislative Co-Chairs) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share your concerns by emailing the following representatives on the issue:
Enrollment Planning email@example.com
Marty McLaren, Seattle School Board Position VI firstname.lastname@example.org
Israel Vela, Executive Director of Schools (West Seattle) email@example.com