Quoting one parent:
Lowell has announced that 5 new classrooms are to be added for next year. They currently have 575 enrolled, and by my estimate, 5 new classes would bring enrollment close to 700. The building capacity is 485 and no portables are permitted.Another parent writes:
How is this possible? An all-school assembly wouldn't even fit in the lunchroom. What is it like at other schools?
Lowell is so full now that I can't even begin to comprehend where five new classrooms are going to go. To remind people who aren't at Lowell, the APP program was split two years ago partially because Lowell was "too crowded." The number of students there at that time? 531. Apparently not only is Lowell no longer overcrowded with 570, we have room for 130 more. Insane.According to the Seattle Public Schools Facilities Department, in a Jan 2011 report, "Capacity and Planning Management" (PDF), Lowell has a "functional capacity" of 490, current enrollment of 545, and is already 111% of capacity. If Lowell went to 650-700 students, it would appear that it would be at 133% - 144% of capacity.
133% - 144% of capacity would appear to be far outside of the norm and puts it in the district's category of "severely over capacity" (over 125% of capacity). According to the document, the most overcrowded school in the district right now appears to be Gatewood at 116% of capacity.
Back over to the comments on the Save Seattle Schools blog, a third parent adds:
The thing that makes me mad is how predictable all of this was. The only time I ever talked one-on-one to Dr. GLJ was well over a year ago at one of those public meetings and I asked what their plans were for capacity at Lowell (eg, move APP to another building? change boundaries?) and all she would say is that each school will deal with capacity issues in their own unique ways and they would just make things work. There was no plan to prevent overcrowding; only a promise to react. How is that acceptable? And yes, she may be gone, but the entire enrollment department should have been working on solutions here and other crowded schools rather than standing idly by waiting to try to put out fires.Update: According to a post at the Save Seattle Schools blog, "Capacity Management Briefing", Lowell is not alone in this problem, and part of the problem may be how the district counts students in APP and other option programs. From the post:
How is it that I, a busy working mom with no background in demography, could see that the capacity issues in the NE would eventually affect Lowell, sooner rather than later? Year after year of adding new K classes at the feeder schools means not only more kids who may qualify for APP but also more interest in transferring out of overcrowded schools. Add in promised spots to neighborhood kids, and your hands are literally tied. So while the news isn't entirely surprising, it is entirely frustrating.
The District will be seriously deficient in capacity for 2012-2013 all over the place:Update: There is a meeting to discuss overcrowding at Lowell in the library at Lowell Tue, June 7 at 6:30 pm.
Elementary schools in every part of the city except the Hamilton and McClure service areas will be at or over capacity.
Elementary schools in the Denny service area will be critically over capacity.
Four middle schools will be critically over capacity: Aki Kurose, Eckstein, Mercer and Whitman.
The numbers for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 just get worse.
Here's the worst news of all: the District does a perfectly terrible job of counting students and counting seats. The numbers shown to the Board are "adjusted" numbers. They are adjusted to discount students in option schools, students in APP, and students in K-8s. So, although the District reduced the student count for these populations, they didn't discount the school capacities for these populations.