Saturday, June 25, 2011

What will happen to elementary APP?

After a major meeting on June 27, a parent summaries the district's new plan for Lowell APP:
Here's the short version:
There is no plan.

July 8 was given as the date for releasing the short-term plan for next year. There was no presentation of plans beyond next year.

The short-term options were given as:

1) Keep everyone at Lowell (not an option due to safety)

2) Move 4-5 APP (there was clear and repeated parent testimony against this plan)

3) Expand APP to 3 sites (the few supporting this option most likely hadn't gone through the first split)

4) Move all APP to Lincoln (this seemed the clear preference of APP families, though several expressed concern about the viability of Lowell if all of APP were to move)

Under cons for moving all of APP to Lincoln (as presented by the District), there were suggestions about reductions in PCP options (there would be music/PE or art/PE, but not music/art/PE) and another note that some may not get transportation to Lincoln (no details on who would lose transportation or why).

If the cohort would be split - again - it would be North, Central and South, with Central and South feeding to Washington. North was defined as North of the ship canal.
Earlier, over on the Save Seattle Schools blog, Charlie Mas wrote:
I think the District would like to have four elementary APP sites: Thurgood Marshall for South Seattle, Lowell for Central Seattle, a location in the north-end, and a location in West Seattle.

I think they would like to open the north-end location next. If each school needs about 250 students to form the critical mass necessary to support a viable program, then they could almost form two from the current program at Lowell. That would take 250 students out of the building and fix the overcrowding there.
Another parent added:
We are all caught up in the current crisis, but I urge everyone to think a bit ahead and look at where this all is going.

As Charlie said, we are headed toward elementary APP split across three or four locations.

Many APP parents are fine with further splits of elementary APP as long as at least one of the locations is in the north. Some parents might be fine with splitting into 3-4 elementary locations, including one in the north, but only if Lowell continues to be one of the locations. And, some APP parents might be wary of further splits and the shift to regional programs, preferring we move back toward one city-wide elementary APP program.

But the path we are on now is 3-4 regional elementary APP programs: one at Thurgood Marshall, probably two in the north, maybe one more in central or south, and nothing at Lowell.

Whichever of these options you might prefer, it would be a really good idea to be thinking about it now rather than just letting whatever happens to APP happen.
Please see also the new thread on the Save Seattle Schools blog, "Lowell: What to do?", and the comments there.


Mercermom said...

As a TM parent, I am very concerned that splitting APP into four regional programs will result in the extreme variability in quality and size that has plagued Spectrum, making it very popular and strong in some parts and non-existent in others.

Anonymous said...

APP AC and Lowell PTA,

What is the next course of action for both groups? Will each come up with a recommendation and a postion on these options? Are you still actively working/communicating with the District after yesterday's meeting? Will we have another meeting after the District has more details on all options? If the drop dead date is July8, we should have a meeting/deadline this Friday. I hope the spliting of the 4th/5th is off the list now.

This was also posted on the save seattle school blog just to make sure someone from APP AC and Lowell PTA did not miss it.

Lowell Parent

Anonymous said...

Having read all the posts and comments on both blogs and the APP/AC minutes this year I see issue that has not been mentioned; the differences in the various APP programs resulting in the splits (talking about both elem and middle school.) As a HIMS APP parent,I am not convinced that the students at HIMS are getting the same curriculum/education as the WMS students. I am fairly certain there has been no collaboration between staff at the two APP middle school. Not sure about TM and Lowell collaboration.

I heard that there is an APP curriculum that was developed and sent to the middle schools, but also understand that this curriculum was not imbraced by some teachers. (Why they have this decision making power is unclear.)

What has also struck me this year is the lack of collaboration between HIMS and the IHS/IB program. My student was told that a few assignments were prepare them for the GHS program. You would think that HIMS APP would want to retool to gear students to IHS/IB. Granted this was the first year, last minute program added to the menu of options, but at the very least you would expect the HIMS APP teachers to meet with IB teachers to learn about the program.

What we have is a lot of throwing mud at the walls and seeing what sticks. The lack ongoing collabroation between the different schools with APP programs will only get worse as more APP sites are created resulting in a completely fractured program- regardless if the Lowell cohort is kept together next year at Lincoln.

Also, the Lowell community should be very wary of moving into another school, such as Jane Addams. If the staff and community do not welcome APP you will encounter similar issues that HIMS APP families are seeing. (and my view is HIMS APP parents are not really speaking up as you know how we need to walk on egg shells.)

I know they need a solution to this crisis and one will be forthcoming shortly.

What I recommend for next year is to have the APP/AC push hard for alignment across all the programs and collaboration among all APP teachers to ensure that whatever APP site your student attends they are assured access to the same APP curriculum/education. I would also ensure that any teacher lacking gifted education experienced is paired with a teacher with this experience as a mentor.

HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

Without a dedicated building for APP, I don't think there is much future for APP. Sharing is challenging at the best of times. But sharing is nearly impossible if the neighborhood families are always the ones guaranteed a building and the APP families are simply using extra space.

That type of sharing arrangement essentially guarantees that APP will always be a band of wandering nomads in search of home.

The "sharing" arrangement at TM seems to work only because the building is quite large and the geographic zone is quite small. I think it would be even better if TM was changed to an option school and the geographic zone was changed to opt in zone so that the room for APP was guaranteed in the long haul. The last thing APP needs is for TM to become suddenly popular and squeeze APP even more.

For the Lowell building, the Lowell boundaries are simply to large to leave much if any guaranteed room to APP over the years so I believe that APP will be completely squeezed out of Lowell one way or another in the next three years. It seems like in some crazy world, the neighborhood would just like to move APP out and the neighborhood in one grade at a time.

One thing that folks seem loath to discuss is that IMO, much of the issue here is really driven by the failure of Madronna. There is quite a bit of space at that big beautiful new building and as long as there is excess Madronna space, the district will not reopen TTMinor or really do anything to deal with crowding at Montlake, Stevens, McGilvra and Lowell.

Moving APP to Madronna seems ridiculous but there is so much that is crazy here, I am certain it was a slide on someone's powerpoint.

Anonymous said...

For the last 3 - 4 years, I feel like the school district's "vision" for APP has been to use it as a tool to solve their capacity problems. They've either used APP to help draw families to underutilized schools or they've moved/split APP to deal with overcrowding. I think we all need to advocate for the District to develop a long term plan for APP at elementary, middle and high school. In addition to capacity, the plan should deal with the issues that HMS parent raises re: curriculum and teacher training. My daughter is about to start 6th grade at Hamilton APP and I'm wondering if she'll be able to stay all 3 years there or if the District is suddenly going to realize that Hamilton is overcrowded and propose moving APP yet again. Jane

Anonymous said...

" My daughter is about to start 6th grade at Hamilton APP and I'm wondering if she'll be able to stay all 3 years there or if the District is suddenly going to realize that Hamilton is overcrowded and propose moving APP yet again."

I think you have a valid concern; HIMS is at capacity for 2011/12 and a very large 6th APP cohort is coming in, to be followed by another large class. Not sure how long HIMS will be able to sustain the APP population.

HIMS Parent

Anonymous said...

We're fully anticipating a repeat of last night's meeting for middle school APP next year...

Anonymous said...

I asked last night if my incoming Lowell (or whatever) 5th grader would be going to Hamilton for 6th grade. The answer - "I don't have an answer for that."

I think every APP parent in grades 8 and below need to be paying attention. I don't think anyone should consider themselves "safe."


Ed said...

I am pleased that some of the parents are seeing the big picture - unless there is some big APP Elementary Elite Academy up north, there will be three or more APP sites within three years. From a local community, carbon footprint and family convenience POV, this could be a good thing. And yes, cross-school consistency will be a constant struggle.

Being in central, I would hope this would happen sooner rather than later, so that my family can plan around a single school, no matter how imperfect. But the clear barrier is not real estate, competition from neighborhood schools, or APP parental support. It is that the District simply does not have the sheer number of trained, elementary gifted program educators to support more than 2.2 (the .2 is facetious!) locations at this time.

I just don't see how that can be fixed in the short term. What do people think about that

kellie said...

Skeptic - Not to diminish the issue as these issues are around capacity and student learning are huge.

However, to be fair, I think every person in North Seattle needs to be a touch skeptical about where they will go to middle school, not just APP.

Hamilton, Whitman and Eckstein were "full" last year. This upcoming year, all three will be stuffed to the gills and then some as an additional 300 students will be assigned to these three schools over and above this year's very crowded enrollment.

A fourth middle school is desperately needed and re-drawing the boundaries for a 4th middle school will impact every single family as all the feeder patterns will change and quite likely, some elementary boundaries might change at the same time.

The first piece of realistic news I have heard is that they did not auto-answer about middle school and APP at HIMS. Hopefully, that means there may be enough time to work on a plan before next year's enrollment, not after.

I imagine that whoever gets the great joy of being re-assigned to Wilson Pacific Middle School will need to spend time at Lincoln until the facility is ready.

Anonymous said...


I am writing on the APP blog. I don't have to advocate for every population on the APP blog too, do I?

My point was that some APP parents seem to think they are "safe" because they're already in middle school.



kellie said...

Skeptic, I agree with you!

I think that the most important thing is not capacity management but student learning. I hate that capacity management is over running all student learning decisions.

Two years ago when APP was moved to HIMS, the downtown folks insisted that APP had to go to Hamilton. They asserted this was necessary because the unusual geography of Hamilton meant that there were only 350 students for whom Hamilton was the closest middle school and that Hamilton would be so under-enrolled that it was a perfect long term home for APP.

A year later, along comes the NSAP and a whole lot of schools that are not close to Hamilton like Laurelhurst are assigned to Hamilton and suddenly there is not so much room at Hamilton.

Many many parents warned the folks downtown that it was incredibly unlikely that HIMS was going to be a long term home for APP to no avail. The strong desire to close Meany as a middle school over-rode any logical argument.

I am just pointing out that I for one am very grateful that they are no longer sticking to this obviously flawed party line. I am also pointing out that there can be allies to get middle school APP sorted out before the middle school mess is as big as the mess with elementary APP.

FWIW, I have two APP qualified students so this is very personal for me too.

Anonymous said...

The potential MS APP issue is that students are moved midstream as they see these students as portable. (pun intended)

You won't see, for example, a group of 7th graders moved out of Eckstein. You may see the boundries redrawn to move a group incoming 6th graders to a new MS, but at least they will start/finish in one school.

Remember: You have a cohort of APP MS students who attended WMS for 6th; the Lincoln building for 7th and the HIMS building for 8th.

There is no other example of this kind of shuffling at any other MS.

HIMS Parent

Anonymous said...

Why have we not heard anything from the District or APP AC or Lowell PTA? Hopefully they are working hard on resolving this issue and will announce something soon. It would still be nice to at least get an email from them on what they are working on and when we might hear something.

Parent waiting

Anonymous said...

parent waiting-

The district said they would announce something by Friday.

The PTA and APP AC are waiting also. We just have to wait and be angry.


Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

The APP AC is meeting on Wednesday to decide how we should advocate. We will let folks know ASAP.

As I said at the Lowell meeting on Monday night, it is critical that the district finally, finally (after years of asking for this) plan for future APP changes as part of a long-term strategic plan for APP and all of advanced learning. We have requested that the Task Force that will be put together in August not just be about Lowell, but about the long-term picture for all of APP. The district folks at the meeting seemed to be open to this idea, this would be the first time in my nearly 10 years of working on APP issues that we parents would part of the planning process.


Anonymous said...


Do you think the 4th/5th split is dead and off the table? Is the only 2 options are a) move 1-5 to Lincoln for 1 year while they plan for the future and b) the 3 APP split? Is anybody from APP AC or Lowell PTA going to the capacity board meeting tomorrow night? They did not show Lowell being overcapacity at all and show Opening TT Minor in 2015 with a note about depending on APP decision.

Lowell Parent

suep. said...

I was at the meeting and I roughly counted close to 200 people. It was well attended and people were highly engaged.

I just read the district's recap of the meeting, and I find at least one element inaccurate. The SPS notes (possibly taken by Lesley Rogers, SPS PR/comm person -- formerly of Strategies 360 -- who was there?) overstate the support for a 3-way split.

(See: "Synthesis of Community Feedback" at

My take-away was there was not a lot of support for a 3-way split, especially in light of the fact that Lowell APP was already split just 2 years ago, and Lowell has experienced an unusually high amount of APP teacher attrition these past two years, so overall the program is not robust enough to be split again.

In fact, not that many people discussed it that much -- it was a brand new idea only introduced that night, shocking some people -- which is why Shannon spoke up about it and I did as well (both of us oppose it).

Furthermore, an incoming Lowell parent who spoke near the end of the meeting after hearing the rest of us split veterans warn about the ramifications of a splintered and weakened program, acknowledged that those who had not experienced the last split perhaps didn't realize how damaging it could be.

The original idea of banishing APP 4th & 5th graders to Lincoln to take the capacity management hit for the entire school was roundly opposed by most, early on in the meeting, and a call was made from a parent in the audience to take it off the table then and there.

Instead, a significant number of people supported moving all of Lowell APP together to create a true (if temporary) north-end site at Lincoln.

The stay-put idea seemed pretty untenable, especially when the idea of adding portables was explained away.

Another detail: the SPS notes imply the petition with 54 signatures was from the PTA. It wasn't.

Perhaps these are details, but the district has such a shaky track record on accurately reporting facts and numbers, or giving communities what they ask for, I think we should all keep an eye on how consent is reached in all this.

If the district pushes a pre-ordained agenda that damages the APP kids for the second time in two years, then I agree with others who have said that parents may take their outrage to the polls this election year.

It's true that because APP is considered a program and not a school, moving it is not the school board's decision (though it should be). But their job is to direct the superintendent towards sound and fair decisions. So they do have a role to play in this. I appreciated the fact that Directors Carr, Martin-Morris, Smith-Blum, DeBell and Maier showed up last night. I am hoping that Sherry Carr and Peter Maier realize that their unwise votes to split APP and close T.T. Minor in 2009 helped create the crisis our communities are now in. But they have the chance now to try to fix some of that.

And if this truly is a new, post-MGJ era, and Interim Supt. Enfield wants to right some past wrongs, this is a good opportunity to do so.

Anonymous said...

New Petition to keep Lowell APP together for now until the District comes up with a long term plan.


Shannon said...

Dear Lowell families,

Due to the enrollment growth of the APP program at Lowell, we are in need of a short-term solution for capacity issues.

At a community meeting on Monday, June 27, we heard overwhelming support for moving APP students in 1st-5th grade together from Lowell to Lincoln for the 2011-12 school year. This appears to be the best option for our APP families while we look for long-term solutions for our growing APP program.

We recognize not everyone could attend Monday's meeting and as a result, we would like you to have the opportunity to provide input by inviting you to take a short survey.

Click here to take the Lowell Capacity Survey.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Public Affairs at (206) 252-0200.

Thank you.

Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

Charlie Mas said...

I think that the District wants four elementary APP locations: Thurgood Marshall for South Seattle, Lowell for Central Seattle, a location in the north-end, and a location in West Seattle.

I don't think that's a good idea.

I do think we will end up with three sites in the end, but we only want or need two sites right now.

I think the two sites we should have next year are a south-end site for the Washington, Mercer, Aki Kurose, Madison, and Denny service areas at Lowell and a north-end site for the McClure, Whitman, Hamilton, and Eckstein service areas at Lincoln (temporarily), and then at John Marshall.

The south-end program will co-locate with a general education program with an option enrollment (as opposed to attendance area) and the special education program that has long been at Lowell. This program should fit into the building without difficulty.

The north-end program should also co-locate with a general education program with an option enrollment. John Marshall is big enough to hold it until it has the enrollment necessary to establish a third program. At that time, the third program should be established, probably in the northwest. It, too, should be co-located with an option program.

That's what should happen. It's not what is really going to happen.

That said, I don't think the District's vision will happen either.

Stu said...

a south-end site for the Washington, Mercer, Aki Kurose, Madison, and Denny service areas at Lowell

Hey, Charlie? Remember one of the arguments the administration used to justify the initial elementary split was that Lowell was too far North for so many of the South End kids who wanted to go to APP but didn't want to leave their neighborhoods? Good times! There's no way this board is going to admit it was SO wrong and move them back to Lowell.

I think that Lincoln for two years, followed by the North move to Marshall, is a great idea and, at the moment, seems pretty much the only logical plan on the table. As a matter of fact, this plan make so much sense, I'm sure the board will go a completely different direction!