Friday, May 27, 2011

APP middle schools overcrowded too?

By request, a new thread to discuss the overcrowding at Hamilton and Washington. From a parent:
Principal Chris Carter reported that there would be five sections of APP for 6th grade next year .... There were projected to have 3 classrooms for 6th grade (similar to this year) but were quite surprised to have 2 additional classrooms added ... I understand that Washington is also expecting to have 5 classrooms for 6th grade APP.

In order to make the master schedule work, they are removing all prep periods from the classrooms ... It is very likely that even more students will be added during summer enrollment.

Principal Carter did not report this but it sure seems that APP at Lincoln might become a necessity as there just isn't any room at the main Hamilton building. It was also mentioned last night that Washington was as or more crowded. So that means that BOTH APP middle schools are severely overcrowded.

APP is growing. The entire district is growing. Closing schools was a huge disaster for the district and really for APP.
Another middle school parent added and asked, "The 5 classes is a surprise, does anyone have feedback on avge class size? how will this affect language sign-up(of which there are limited availability)?"

Does anyone know more about the situation? What is the capacity and expected enrollment for Washington and Hamilton next year? If the 6th grade class is this large and future 6th grade classes will be equally large, what does that mean for projected enrollment? Is there any ability to handle the growing APP population in the two current locations, Washington and Hamilton, or will a new site or third site become necessary soon?

It appears almost all the schools APP are full and have no room for growth. Some will be so badly overcrowded that there are no spaces that all the students can assemble, bathrooms may be overloaded, and parents are concerned about fire danger and evacuation times. And the entire school system is projected to grow over the next few years by by 15%.

APP has had three splits in the last few years designed to deal with overcrowding, but most of the schools APP is now in appear to be at least full and, in some cases, bursting far over capacity. What is the solution?


Dorothy Neville said...

Teachers will still have a prep period, (that's in the contract) but they will have to vacate their classroom to do so. Some teachers (probably based on seniority in the building) will still have a classroom in which they teach all or most of their classes, but other teachers will be transients, moving from room to room. This will of course affect humanities teachers more than science teachers (will there be enough science lab classrooms?).

So is this a surprise to anyone? Splitting middle school APP, hosting North End APP in a building closer to people's homes, along with anti-gifted education movement at RHS and Hale, more eligible kids are attending.

In the last year before the split, there was an increase of 12% from rising 5th graders to enrolled 6th graders. In the two years post split that increase has been 35% and 43% respectively. Is APP growing faster than the district?

Last three years, percent of elementary school kids enrolled in APP has increased, 2.68%, 2.73% and this current year 2.94%

Middle school percent of kids in APP has fluctuated 4.73%, 4.48% and this year 5.05%

High School percent of kids in APP shows increase: 3.1%, 3.27%, 3.41%

Email me if you want the spreadsheet yourself.

hschinske said...

When was the change made to allow APP eligibility to be retained indefinitely if you stayed in an ALO program? I think that might have something to do with the larger numbers entering at middle school; it would be interesting to track where they come from.

Helen Schinske

Greg Linden said...

I'm a little confused about the capacity issue at Hamilton. According to a recent briefing (PDF), Hamilton is at 70-80% of functional capacity for the next few years. That doesn't seem to jibe with the reports from parents. Anyone know what is going on with these numbers?

Meg said...

Greg, my understanding is that they didn't count APP in Hamilton's capacity numbers.

Greg Linden said...

Thanks, Meg, that's weird that they would do that. Does anyone know the capacity and enrollment numbers for Hamilton and Washington including APP? And how far they are and are about to be over capacity?

Anonymous said...

Did Principal Carter mention how many new teachers were being hired for APP at Hamilton next year? After having an inexperienced APP teacher this year, I'm not looking forward to more inexperience.

Meg said...

"Weird" is a very polite way to put it. I would use stronger language to describe SPS's capacity planning.

Oct 2010 adjusted enrollment (from the P223 enrollment forms):
Washington: 1,061
Hamilton: 853

Planning capacity (I'd supply the link, but weirdly, it looks like capacity management has left the SPS website?):
Washington: 976
Hamilton: 950

Functional Capacity (I don't think I have the latest numbers here, and I forget where to get them. And functional capacity is a crock.):

Washington: 1,031
Hamilton: 890

Projected enrollment:
Washington: 1,068
Hamilton: 855

kellie said...

As per usual, I agree with Meg, "weird" is a very polite turn of phrase for this.

From my understanding from speaking with folks on the BEX oversight committee, Hamilton was "intended" to be an 800 student middle school. It was supposed be cuter and more intimate than the classic 1000 student middle school. That was the "plan." Note that the plan was also heavily influenced by the neighborhood that didn't want the building rebuilt any larger.

So I have always found the 950 number to be quite a head scratcher. I can understand how the "capacity" number for older building might suddenly be switched up to match all the changes in teaching and contracts, etc. However, Hamilton was just re-built. It was just designed. There can't possibly have been such a huge change to warrant a school designed for 800 students to suddenly have a planning capacity of 950.

The idea that 950 students can be in the building as long as there is 100% space utilization with 100% fully enrolled classrooms is something that should have been prominently noted on a footnote somewhere. I imaging the jump from 800 to 950 can be accounted for with a jump from classroom utilization of 5 classes per day to 6 classes per day.

kellie said...

Back to Greg's question about the capacity team's report. That report did not account for any "non-geographic" communities like APP. So the number that was reported is most likely the number of middle school students that currently reside in the Hamilton attendance area. However, without proper footnotes on the report, it is only a good guess.

Back in the day of the "proposed APP split," the reason that the north end APP split was proposed for the Hamilton building was that under the not-yet-revealed NSAP, there were simply not enough students that would live in the new Hamilton zone. The argument was that the lower density of students in the Hamilton zone would "guarantee" that this was a long term home for middle school APP because the neighborhood was not capable of filling the building on their own.

Now we enter into the actual real live NSAP. The Hamilton zone has gotten a brand new school, McDonald, that will be full soon enough. BF Day added extra classrooms so they will be even more full. JSIS has also added a third cohort so more students. They also added Laurelhurst to the Hamilton zone, even though Laurelhurst is far closer to Eckstein. West Woodland, as always is quite full.

So we now have the fabulous game of potential future NSAP meets the real live NSAP. Potential future NSAP had 3-4 relatively small schools feeding into Hamilton. Real live NSAP has 5 soon-to-be medium or large schools feeding into Hamilton.

So the bottom line here is that the north end needs a 4th middle school. Until there is a fourth middle school, everyone is going to get quite cozy.

Who eventually winds up where is going to be driven by which building becomes the fourth middle school.

sp. said...

A couple of details about Hamilton:

The renovation of the building was begun BEFORE APP was split and assigned there. It was too late for the architect and contractors to change much by the time the split happened.

Consequently, the school has "pod" classroom design in which there are some open, communal spaces that can't actually be used as regular classrooms. I'm not sure, but this may be contributing to the usable space-crunch at Hamilton.

--Sue p.

Anonymous said...

I don't think much could have been changed about Hamilton even if the APP split occurred earlier.

IIRC correctly, the Wallingford Neighborhood Council had a lot to do with the planning process and they were very insistent on the small footprint. I think the district wanted to add one more floor but the neighborhood got that rejected. I imagine they will not be very happy when they find out that their small middle school is stuffed with 1000 students and all the extra traffic that brings.

Anonymous said...

I don't think much could have been changed about Hamilton even if the APP split occurred earlier.

IIRC correctly, the Wallingford Neighborhood Council had a lot to do with the planning process and they were very insistent on the small footprint. I think the district wanted to add one more floor but the neighborhood got that rejected. I imagine they will not be very happy when they find out that their small middle school is stuffed with 1000 students and all the extra traffic that brings.

Anonymous said...

How about grades 1-8 APP at Lincoln as the solution?

Anonymous said...

I think APP middle schoolers need the comprehensive middle school experience but I could be wrong. What do folks think about a self contained APP middle school vs a comprehensive one?

Anonymous said...

Good point. So, what would your preferences be between:

(1) APP 1-8 unified in a school with no other programs

(2) APP 6-8 at three locations in a school with other 6-8 programs with room to grow

(3) APP 1-8 in a school with another 1-8 alternative program, still having APP 1-5 and 6-8 at other locations

(4) APP 6-8 in the current two locations, shrink general ed reference zones for Hamilton and Washington, open 6-8 general ed elsewhere to make more room at Hamilton and Washington

And is there something else you'd prefer more than any of those?

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt a comprehensive is best for our kids. When they were younger, we thought a 1-8 would be great - but now that they are actually in middle school we realize the benefits of them being surrounded by other kids from outside the program. They definitely add value to their experience.

Anonymous said...

The "room to grow" comment made me laugh.

The only way there is ever going to be room to grow is if APP is moved to yet another new location and I don't doubt this is the most probable answer.

I think APP re-unification is a pipe dream. While John Marshall is an ideal all city location, I just don't think we are going to see any more all city programs in my lifetime.

The list of possible middle school "new" options in the north end is very limited.

Building re-opens
John Marshall
Wilson Pacific

Both would be very expensive to reopen as the buildings are in extreme disrepair.

Program conversions
Broadview-Thompson K8
Jane Addams K8

Both BT and JA were built as middle schools, are in excellent shape and as such could be converted back to comprehensive middle schools very easily and inexpensively from a facilities point of view. However, the obvious issue of relocating the elementary population is significant. Neither school has a very large middle school population but both have very large elementary populations - large enough to fill a brand new elementary building on day one.

What do both of these options have in common? The relocation of APP. Moving APP into any of these locations automatically fills the building to a reasonable point. If there are going to be at least five 6th grade classes at Hamilton, then by the time there is a forced move, it is a reasonable guess that there would be 15 classrooms. 15 classrooms of APP goes a long way to making for a full comprehensive middle school to give confidence to the general ed families.

- color me cynical

Renee said...

I'm still a bit foggy on the true expected # of incoming 6th gr APP kids, plus the # of non-APP for a full picture on the total expected (at this pt) 6th gr enrollment 2011-12. How do those figures compare with 2010-11? And if anyone has access to these #'s or projections, I'd also wonder then what the rest of the bldg enrollment is expected to be: ie just 6th gr APP + non-APP; and the whole school 6th - 8th Fall 2011? We currently have 90 APP 5th grders at Lowell, of course not all will be attending HIMS and many more non-Lowell kids have tested into APP for 6th gr. I had heard 110 APP 6th gr incoming fr. the registrar and Principal, so i'm not quite getting how this translates to 5 classrms? What is the # students actually expected at this pt -THANKS if anyone has this info handy Id really appreciate it!

Renee said...

SOrry , in my post above Im wondering specifically about Hamilton, not Washington. Thnx.

Anonymous said...

I was at the Hamilton PTA meeting last week. There were about 20 parents there for the Q&A with Principal Carter. At the meeting Principal Carter reported that they are expecting about 950 students total for next year.

IIRC, he mentioned that for the master schedule for 6th grade, they would have

5 APP classrooms (up from the projected 3 classrooms on the draft schedule)
2 Spectrum classrooms (up from one this year, and projected one class)
5 General Ed classrooms

He did not discuss the master schedule for 7th and 8th grade, as the questions seemed to be directed at the incoming 6th grade. As such, I would expected it to be a nearly straight roll up from the current 6th grade class.

Classrooms are assigned with at least 30 students so I am guessing that means 150 APP students at Hamilton and about 360 6th graders. Those numbers would make sense with a projection of 950 total.

- current Hamilton Parent

Anonymous said...

FYI, Hamilton's Oct enrollment for 2010 was 853. So it looks like they added 3 more classrooms for 2011 over 2010 - 2 for APP and 1 for Spectrum. So it does seem that the "growth" is all advanced learning focused.

But that is only a guess. Nothing really will be clear until the master schedules are published.

- current Hamilton parent

Anonymous said...

Its amazing that at Hamilton, almost half (40%?) of the incoming 6th gr will not be coming from the APP program, apparently - as we now have 90 at Lowell and maybe 75 are going on to HIMS. Thats less than the current 3 classes at Lowell. WIth a total of 5 APP classes, that means a large proportion of the incoming APP 6th graders are "qualified" per testing, but have not been learning curriculum at the APP level approx 2 grades ahead. Will this impact the rigor and depth of the 6th gr APP curriculum being taught next year? Or am I overhtinking how this works...??

Anonymous said...

I think there are a lot of APP capable kids in the north-end that are not in the APP elementary program because there is no APP elementary school in the north (closest is Lowell in the central area across the shipping canal). Instead, these kids are home schooled, in private school, or going to a neighborhood school and heavily supplementing at home, then they join APP in middle school when there finally is an opportunity to go to an APP program nearby. My guess is all you are seeing here is how many people would be in APP if there was an APP elementary in the north-end.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 8:31

I wouldn't worry about the new kids so much as I would about the new staff. I am certain the kids will be able to handle the material as there are so many changes to middle school, I think you will find that within a few months, it is hard to tell the difference between the new kids and the ones at Lowell.

However, this year we have already had teachers in the APP program without any advanced learning experience and I am not looking forward to more. It really annoys me that they are going to suddenly need to hire more staff at the end of the school year.

I guess those deadlines to finish the testing paperwork was just for entertainment.

Also, these enrollment numbers push the school clearly over 900 and there should be an extra FTE per the WSS. What are the odds that they add that staff person in addition to the teachers? What are the odds that they are still looking for staff in Sept? Wouldn't it be ironic if all the conspiracy theories about TFA wound up with putting TFA into these last minute, impossible to forecast teaching spots. How odd would it be for the close the achievement gap TFA into an APP classroom.

Anonymous said...

Washington is already overcrowded. My child frequently mentions how kids are pushing other kids in the hallways during passing periods as students try to get to class on time.
I think the reason there are more APP students enrolling for 6th grade is the fact that many families who chose to stay at their neighborhood elementaries are choosing APP for middle school. We know a dozen families who are moving to APP for 6th grade. As Helen said, it would be interesting to track where the new APP students are coming from.

Anonymous said...

As a Washington parent, I have heard nothing from the school about crowding this year or next. All planning for next year sounds to be normal and I think there are only 3 sections of APP for 8th grade in the coming school year.

Also, it does not seem possible that there could be any APP location changes this late for next year. Does anyone have any information about the potential for school assignment changes for next year? Or is the speculation about how APP will be housed in the following year? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just remember...
One kid's "over-crowded" is another administrator's "fully-utilized."

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if I gleaned this from other posts or if it is just a total heist of someone else's idea altogether but as a Lowell parent I would like the Supp to consider revising the split so that it is K-8 Jane Adams APP/GA-ALO to the north and Lowell for 1-5APP, K-5 ALO and med sensitive K-5Spec Ed to the south. (Yeah I would close TM and move those kids to Lowell.)

Anonymous said...

Oops. I wouldn't close TM just move APP to Lowell.

dj said...

Anonymous, why would you move the APP kids who are at TM to Lowell? I understand moving the Lowell kids north where they live, but what would be the rationale for moving the kids who are at TM? My kid has been moved twice already (from her original school to Lowell, and then from Lowell to TM) -- what purpose would be served by moving her a third time back to Lowell? (And moving other kids who started at a school and elected APP at TM to Lowell, so a second move for them). What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to check Student Assignment and/or Waiting List Status

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, that info may have moved, can someone provide the current link?

Meanwhile, I would give a strong second to not fixing what isn't broken, please avoid proposing ideas that displace students at TM as part of a solution for addressing needs at Lowell.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have enrollment numbers? I hear Garfield is now 1850. New thread topic? How do you get real enrollment numbers. Lowell has their numbers are they really 700 +


Anonymous said...

APP is severely overcrowded. It seems that opening Lincoln for Middle, and possibly a solely north end APP Elementary is needed (ie..make Lowell only north end APP, or move APP to MacDonald, or Viewlands or one of the other newly opening schools). Hopefully they will get someone to really do some good planning so the kids don't have to move again in 2 years. It does seem that this APP bubble will continue. I know a lot of families that didn't move their kids to APP this year but are planning to move next year. (ie..only one of their kids was tested, or friends moved this year and they are going to try and follow next year).

Anonymous said...

migrating TM’s APP back to Lowell and starting a truly north APP at Jane Adams (other site with room) to deal with north/Hamilton bound students sounds like a great idea to me!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (just above) Is it fair to assume that you are ok with moving TM APP students because you don't have one there? If that is true, then it might be useful for you to understand that whereas Lowell is falling apart (losing lots of great teachers) under current leadership, TM is not. So, I have to disagree and say that even though last year at TM was very rocky, this year many of the kinks have been already worked through and staff and students are, on the whole, very happy. It is a huge mistake to think that upsetting TM to solve Lowell's woes is a good plan.

Anonymous said...

Us/them the district has us just where they want to. I am only thinking of the over capacity issues which are much more difficult than the leadership issues you describe... But if things were so bad at Lowell today why is it going to be subscribed 1.5 X next year?

Anonymous said...

Why couldn't Julie B stay with the Thurgood cohort?

Anonymous said...

I agree I worry about the hiring of new APP staff without APP experience. and yet the kids have to pass a rigorous test to get into APP. can we address WHY are the teachers leaving. at Thurgood marshall and at Lowell.

Anonymous said...

Julie can stay with the cohort right at Thurgood, there is not a capacity issue there.

Please be sensitive to not upseting populations that don't need to be displaced.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand TM has lost a good handful of teachers this year and there are parents that are not happy with the way things are running. and the same is happening at Lowell.

Steve said...

To the various anonymous people posting (or maybe it's all one person?) talking about how Lowell is "falling apart," I'd love to hear your evidence for this. There are definitely teachers leaving, as there are every year at every school. Let us know what you specifically know about what's going on at Lowell.

(For our part, it's been a pretty good year. Our son is happy and is learning, and likes the school).

Anonymous said...

Besides the overcrowding i would like to hear whats going on too at Lowell.

Mary said...

Can someone fill me in on which Lowell teachers are leaving? It is weird that some left in the middle of the year, is that because they were unhappy?

Anonymous said...

My guess -- yes, the teacher left at mid-way because she was unhappy with the building leadership -- but no one, NO ONE, will tell you that. And I believe that others are leaving at the end of this year for the same reason. Lowell has lost much of its heart and soul from the split and from teacher retirement.

Sign me Worried about Lowell's Future

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase a previous Anon....
I think there are a lot of APP capable kids in the southwest-end that are not in the APP elementary program because there is no APP elementary school in the southwest (closest is TM in the central area across the Duwamish). Instead, these kids are home schooled, in private school, or going to a Spectrum neighborhood school and heavily supplementing at home, then they join APP in middle school. My guess is all you are seeing here is how many people would be in APP if there was an APP elementary in the southwest-end. I know everyone wants to believe what a fabulous social melding is happening at TM but it is rough and keeping our heads in the sand doesn't help. The party line at TM regarding hitting, kicking, threatening, pushing and foul language on the playground is - "it is worse other places" and "No adult saw it, so it didn't happen". I guess the kids are learning good evasive maneuvers, but it certainly adds a stress factor. Julie B does do an amazing job, but co-housing two diverse populations (which goes against the recommendations by the panel brought in by the district!) has inherent, unchangeable flaws and doesn't best serve either population.

suep. said...

June 3, 2011 3:44 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess -- yes, the teacher left at mid-way because she was unhappy with the building leadership -- but no one, NO ONE, will tell you that.

If it's the teacher I think you are referring to, I believe parent dissatisfaction and the teacher's health had something to do with this outcome as well.

As for some of the well-respected teachers who are leaving at the end of this year for various stated reasons, that's troubling and disheartening.

Mary said...

These are the teachers I have been able to learn about that are leaving Lowell this year,

Tamra Hauge
Kristen Anderson
Allison Fenzl
Margaret Saunders
Bob Schilperoort

Are there some more? How come no one will talk about it, like someone said here?

Anonymous said...


Lori said...

As I understand it, from that list of 5 Lowell teachers, one teacher is retiring, another is moving to Cambodia with her family for spouse's job opportunity, and another wants a shorter commute to spend more time with her own family. I haven't heard about the remaining two.

I don't interpret the silence on the blog as people not wanting to talk about it. I interpret it as lack of concern, but who knows. Every school has turnover from time to time. It isn't necessarily an indictment of the school's leadership. My child has had a wonderful year with a teacher who is new to the school, and I've heard similar praise from other families who have other, also-new-this-year teachers. If we get as good of candidates as we got last year, I don't see what there is to worry about.

Anonymous said...

That does seem like a lot of teacher movement. I don't know the circumstances, but something has to be going on for a principal to pull his own daughter from the school mid-year (Feb) and move her to TM. A disconnect between leadership and teaching staff would seem apparent if that situation couldn't have been worked out within the 2 or 3 sections offered per grade.

TM parent

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher at Thurgood Marshall and I am offended by the comment that anonymous left. I deal with every concern parents or children bring to me. I have never said nor have I ever heard anyone say that "it is worse other places" or "no adult saw it so it didn't happen". Julie deals with everything that is brought to her attention and does it well. I suggest that if you really feel this way you talk to her or your childs teacher.

Anonymous said...

Reading all the comments above, it seems apparent there is lack of camaraderie between some at Thurgood Marshall APP and Lowell APP. That is one thing you can say about the APP split. It successfully destroyed the solidarity of the APP community and pitted us all against each other.

CCM said...

I don't necessarily see it as "pitted against each other" - I see it more as parents trying to convince themselves that their child is in the "better" situation.

No one wants to be at the school with the most problems.

Frankly each location has its issues (as does every school) and it would be nice if we could focus on solving those issues without continuously pointing out how "bad" it is at the other location.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @ June 6, 2011 9:24 PM -
I'm not reading too much in to the Lowell principal moving his daughter during the school year. Considering her peer group would be moving on to Hamilton and she wouldn't, it makes sense to get her socialized with the other cohort. And as far as it happening mid-year, there may have been personal factors driving this. They are, after all, a family - not just a principal and a student.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that the Mr. King's daughter won't be going to Hamilton or Washington since her older sibling goes to Lakeside.

--Lakeside mom

Anonymous said...

total number of teachers lost from Lowell this year is 8 so far

Anonymous said...

Considering King and his family have been on mercer island for a while, I'm not sure why King's daughter moved from one SPS school to another.

Steve said...

You know, I suggest the APP blog follow a policy that the Seattle Schools Community Blog follows, which is to not allow people to post comments without some indication of who they are. There are so many "anonymous" comments on this thread, and it is a.) hard to reference a specific one in a reply comment, and b.) hard to keep track of which "Anonymous" is saying what.

At the other blog, they've handled this by saying that you have to at least give yourself a name (any name - anything!) at the end of your comment, or else the comment will be deleted. This is a very low bar, but I think it will help the conversation a lot.

On this thread in particular, there have been some things said that I think people want to challenge, respond to, or follow-up on.

- Steve

Anonymous said...

I think this topic is more important than where any individuals children go to school. Can we please keep on track and not feed the trolls.

Anonymous said...

I think this topic is more important than where any individuals children go to school. Can we please keep on track and not feed the trolls.

- Not Steve (but i do agree with his previous suggestion).

Steve said...

Thank you, Not Steve!

Greg Linden said...

Thanks, Steve, it is a problem. I'll put a short notice above the comment form asking parents to use their real name or at least pick pseudonyms.

"Not Steve", this thread has gotten off topic. I've been looking for an opportunity to intervene. Now seems like a fine time. Lowell and TM folks, if you want to keep discussing whatever is going on at Lowell and TM, please move to the open thread. This thread is supposed to be to discuss the APP middle school situation.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

I also agree with Steve's suggestion about a name, any name.
It would be an important change. Thanks for that suggestion.

It's also not cool, in my book at least, to talk specifically about other people's kids...I would even suggest that maybe those comments could be edited out by Greg in the future?

We have no idea what issues there might be in other families, or even in the situations of staff leaving. Usually these things are pretty complex and problematic on many levels to discuss in any public forum.

What things look like from the outside might be completely different from what is really going on. I have learned this about schools, teachers, and also with my own 2e son.
I respectfully ask everyone to please be sensitive to this.