Seattle schools plan to ease overcrowding angers parents

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on January 9, 2013 at 8:25 PM

The Seattle School District has a popularity problem. So many students are enrolling, the district is having a hard time finding a place to put them all, and that means more change.
 
As the district announced its plan of action, parents launched their plan of attack.

 "This all looks a lot more like triage than planning," said parent Melissa Westbrook.
 
Two big levies are on the ballot next month that if passed, would address Seattle's overcrowding problem. But the district has to deal with the here and now. Enrollment projections for the upcoming school year require adjustments, say district leaders.

"We're looking at every space available within a school at this point," said Robert Boesche, Interim Deputy Superintendent for Seattle Public Schools.
 
But for parents like Dana Korch, that space is suddenly in a different place for her incoming middle schooler.

"Now suddenly we're being ripped out of that and being sent off into the great unknown," said Korch.

Once bound for Eckstein Middle School this fall, Korch's son would instead go to a newly designated middle school at Jane Addams.
 
It's just part of a proposal that changes where several North Seattle elementary students would go to middle school next year. Too big a change coming too late for some parents.

"I feel like there hasn't been a lot of input from the parents," said Korch.
 
District leaders insist they've been transparent in developing the new student assignment transition plan.

"We have been saying to parents that we are going to have to talk about changes. Not just boundary changes, but also assignment changes," said Pegi McAvoy, Assistant Superintendent for Operations.
 
At Wednesday's board meeting, parents complained they weren't part of the process, and that they were assured as recently as last month there would be no changes. They expressed concerns there's not enough time to create a middle school by September at the already established K-8 Jane Addams School.
 
Under the proposal, Olympic Hills, Sacajawea, and John Rogers Elementary Schools would shift from Eckstein to Jane Addams for incoming sixth graders. Laurelhurst attendance areas would shift from Hamilton to Eckstein.
 
"I found out about it a week before Christmas and I found out about it only as a capacity issue they were looking to address in the future," said Korch.
 
They're addressing it now. And all of these parents are seeking a bigger say before any decision is made.
 
"I wouldn't want a bunch of angry parents a month from now, when I have a levy vote coming up," warned Westbrook.
 
The board is scheduled to vote on the proposal January 23.
 

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