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?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Open thread and Lowell open house

A new open thread. What's on your mind, APP parents?

Also, by request, an announcement about an upcoming open house event at Lowell on June 9 at 6pm:
FOR NEW FAMILIES WHO WILL BE ATTENDING LOWELL IN SEPTEMBER

Enrollment has informed us that student assignment letters will be mailed on May 31. As a result, we are not able to send you an invitation to our Open House for returning and new students on May 25 from 6:30-7:30 pm, however we hope that you will see this notice and plan to attend with your student. You will have the opportunity to visit classrooms and meet the teachers with your student.

In addition the PTA is sponsoring a New Family Ice Cream Social on June 9 from 6:00 - 7:30 pm. Classrooms will not be open and teachers will not be present, however this will be an opportunity for families to meet and explore the halls and playground.
Update: There is an interesting and very active discussion still going on at an older thread, "Severe overcrowding at Lowell next year". Don't miss it.

School Board elections

Several challengers have announced for the upcoming school board elections. I thought I'd start a new thread to discuss the elections, to talk about specific candidates, and to ponder the impact of these school board elections on APP.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Severe overcrowding at Lowell next year

Lifting from the comments over at the Save Seattle Schools Community blog, it appears that Lowell will be badly overcrowded next year.

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.

How is this possible? An all-school assembly wouldn't even fit in the lunchroom. What is it like at other schools?
Another parent writes:
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.

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.
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:
The District will be seriously deficient in capacity for 2012-2013 all over the place:
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.
Update: There is a meeting to discuss overcrowding at Lowell in the library at Lowell Tue, June 7 at 6:30 pm.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Loss of some AP classes at Garfield

In an e-mail newsletter, the APP AC wrote:
At Garfield, budget cuts are being translated to cuts in AP courses and other classes, including the cancellation of AP Calculus BC, reductions in sections of AP Chemistry, and AP Spanish.
APP students at Garfield are disproportionately heavy users of these classes -- I suppose you could go as far as to say that the APP curriculum at Garfield in large part is the available AP classes -- so this seems like a fairly big deal for students in APP at Garfield and APP parents considering Garfield High School for their children.

Thoughts? Ways to deal with this?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ingraham, APP, and the firing of Principal Martin Floe

By request, a new thread to discuss the firing of the Principal Martin Floe at Ingraham (more info at [1] [2]) and how it might impact APP.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

APP kids this summer

It's a beautiful spring day here in May, warm and sunny. I thought might be a good time to start a discussion on sharing what you are doing with your APP kids this summer. Classes or camps you like? Games you might recommend? Resources online or offline that other APP parents might want to know about? Other ideas? Please share!