Friday, March 11, 2016

Hamilton Capacity Issues 2016-2017

We were already discussing  Hamilton on the the thread. As indicated there the principal Tipton Blish was still looking for ways to deal with next year. Events have moved forward and the following update was in the most recent HIMS newsletter.

Update on Hamilton Capacity Planning for 2016-2017
As previously discussed in our newsletter, Hamilton will be pushing to upwards of 1,200 kids this fall. Although it’s not much consolation in the near-term, the numbers will decrease the following year with the opening of Robert Eagle Staff Middle School.
To handle the overload, Seattle Public Schools is looking at two options:
Putting portables on the outside playtop. 
Adding a Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) to one of the North Seattle middle schools, like Whitman, as a precursor to the opening of Eagle Staff. Seattle Public Schools has stated that this option is unlikely given the expense of setting up an HCC cohort

Update for Hamilton Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) Students
For the 2017-18 school year, Seattle Public Schools has indicated that HCC students who live in the Robert Eagle Staff and Whitman service areas will move to Robert Eagle Staff when it opens in the fall of 2017. Grandfathering for students may be possible subject to space availability at the middle schools they are attending, however, there will probably be no room at Hamilton.

District Info on Capacity:

110% rule on page 6:

City Permitting Status:

This does seem to confirm the final occupancy inspection never was finished.  Following up with the city I've been told.

  • The record shows a gymnasium with an allowable occupant load of 1149, a commons/dining hall of 957 and a fitness center or 56. These are the only areas which carry a limit.
I still have a followup question to see if there are any other fire safety related limits.  Interestingly I seem to have triggered an inquiry in the planning department. The inspector said he would be contacting the district and would email back any more info.

Cohort Size

According to  district estimates this year's 5th grade cohort is approximately 189 students at Cascadia. The 6th grade cohort is ~325 at HIMS and JAMS together. That shows how the cohort roughly doubles in size going into middle school as HC students join from neighborhood schools.  A rough estimate for the number of REMS 6th graders for next year would be in the 180 student ballpark.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for following this. Based on the lack of comments, I think the HIMS capacity issue will be a surprise to many people. I also think SPS has under-projected HIMS enrollment for next year. I know many 5th graders in neighborhood schools in the NW who tested into APP or privately tested and got the required scores. I am surprised by how many are going to HIMS from our neighborhood elementary.

Please post any responses you get to your inquiries regarding HIMS enrollment next year. I am somewhat expecting a mid-summer move to Whitman (only school with room?).

Benjamin Leis said...

I added some information from the city about the missing permits. This is turning out to be quite interesting.

Anonymous said...

If you look at Hamilton the same way SPS does, by looking only at numbers, perspective changes a bit.

First, they look at right-size capacity (it's 973, not the 850 I've seen posted lately).
Second, they find 110% of that number and that's when they determine no more kids will fit in the building. For Hamilton that's 1070. (and 2 lunch shifts would let this number pass the occupancy loads you just posted Benjamin)
Third, at that point they look at adding portables, reconfiguring spaces, hiring staff, moving a cohort, etc.
Projections are 1172, so SPS sees this as a manageable overage of 102 kids.

Flip Herndon didn't specifically mention Hamilton, but indicated (at the BHS meeting) he's considering asking the city for a departure for portables to address current SPS capacity issues. He also said, about Hamilton specifically, they are considering reconfiguring spaces and hiring additional staff.

Good Fit

110% rule p6:
Hamilton capacity p8:

Anonymous said...

A Hamilton administrator said the facilities people already came in and looked and determined they could not reconfigure the flex spaces into classrooms. I can't imagine what sort of other reconfiguring they could to. There's not much left to work with.

CascadiaMom said...

The 2007 birth cohort (children who are currently in 2nd and 3rd grade) was the largest birth cohort in US history. More children were born in 2007 than any other year. I have a daughter in this cohort and I am very concerned that SPS does not seem to have budgeted any additional space for this huge demographic bump that will hit middle school in 2 years and high school after that. I wrote to the SPS demographer who did not specifically address my questions.

If you think Hamilton is bad next year, just wait 2 years when the 2007 babies arrive in middle school.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know what the enrollment figure is that "breaks" HIMS next year and when SPS will have a better idea of the numbers. I wonder if their current enrollment projections include all the APP qualified kids in the zone that stayed at their local school and the 5th graders who've recently tested in on appeals/private testing. From our tiny school, it's at least 10 kids going to HIMS next year that weren't at Lincoln this year.

Cascadia Mom, this problem will be better (probably not as good as SPS thinks, though) after 2016-2017 since the new middle school is opening and taking some relief off of HIMS.

Anonymous said...

The allowable "occupant load" for the school, in terms of fire and other safety, would count students plus all the adults in the building, both staff and parents/volunteers.


Anonymous said...

Anyone have a guess as to when we'll know where our kids are going to school next year if we live in Whitman/Eagle Staff zone?

Anonymous said...

So if the city doesn't allow portables on the blacktop, then my kid and the other NW HCC kids will be sent to three different schools in three years? Hamilton, Whitman, and Eaglestaff? How is this in the best interest of any kid during middle school years? Hamilton is packed this year, but by off-loading the NW kids next year they are being given a pretty crummy deal for middle school. I'd hope that there is a way to make things work for one more year at Hamilton so the NW HCC kids are shuffled around all three years. I hope that Tip, the admin, the PTA, or our School Board members will advocate for something to be done so our NW kids can avoid the chaos of going to three schools in three years. No matter how people feel about HCC, I think most people would agree that this would suck for any kid.

And these are the same kids who will potentially be pulled out of their high school in order to populate Lincoln High School when it opens. Awesome.

NW mom

Anonymous said...

I know there have been all sorts of explanations for why a Lincoln annex can't work. But seriously, at this point it's probably time to challenge that notion. What exactly do they mean by "lack of space?" Lincoln has 1600 seats right there, almost 600 more than they are expecting to need between Cascadia and Licton Springs. Agreed, those seats aren't "pretty" and they aren't "ready." But this is crisis mode. The school district needs to make exceptions and do things differently. I have a child at Cascadia and certainly don't want those kids to be squeezed any more than they already are. But for goodness sake, 4 or 5 classrooms that are just sitting there dusty and empty and unused? Why can't Hamilton have that? If getting a few classrooms next door up to habitable levels is faster and cheaper and easier than hauling in portables or moving entire programs or having classes that spill out into the hallways of Hamilton, then that's what they should do.

It's just one year

Anonymous said...

@ NW mom,

If it comes down to needing to relocate a subset of students, there are other ways it could be done. I don't think they've settled on how it would be implemented if that's the route they end up taking. They could, for example, just move the incoming HCC 6th graders to Whitman for the year--either all of them, or just those who will be moving on to Eagle Staff the following year. That would avoid the "3 middle schools in 3 years" scenario.

Anonymous said...

I know we are just mentioning solutions, but you can't just send the 6th grade app cohort in the Whitman service area back to whitman. That wouldn't be "equitable". All the APP kids would need to be sent back to their neighborhood middle schools before that can happen.

It would be helpful to know the enrollment numbers then pad them a bit for people waiting on scores and private results.

Anonymous said...

Sure you could send the 6th grade Whitman HCC kids to Whitman. It's the middle school with the most 6th grade HCC students this year - enough that they could create a viable cohort within their neighborhood school.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this on the saveseattleschools blogsite, you might want to know about:
"A Message from your Board of Directors...

Dear Friends of the Edmonds School District,
The School Board will interview six semi-finalist candidates this Saturday, March 19, at Edmonds Woodway High School, Great Hall, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. We are starting at 8:30 a.m., instead of 9:00 a.m. as previously noted. The meeting is open to the public and observers will be able to provide written feedback.
The six semi-finalists are:
Dr. Deb Clemens, Superintendent, Cheney, WA
Matt Handelman, Superintendent, Coeur d’Alene, ID
Dr. Flip Herndon, Associate Superintendent, Seattle, WA
Dr. Kris McDuffy, Superintendent, Arlington, WA​
Dr. Carolyn O’Keefe, Deputy Superintendent, Northshore, WA
Dr. Chrys Sweeting, Assistant Superintendent, Puyallup, WA
After the initial round of interviews, the candidate field will be narrowed to three. The finalists will be in the District March 28, 29, and 30 … one candidate each day, where they will have the opportunity to tour schools and meet with staff and administrators.
There will be a Community Public Forum to meet the three finalists on March 31 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mountlake Terrace High School Theater. Community members will have an opportunity to ask questions and complete feedback forms to share with the School Board. If you are unable to join us at a Forum, it will be streamed live. Please visit on the actual date, March 31, to view.


Anonymous said...

I know we are just mentioning solutions, but you can't just send the 6th grade app cohort in the Whitman service area back to whitman. That wouldn't be "equitable."

Uhhh, you mean like they *couldn't* pull all the Eckstein HCC kids and make them help populate a brand new program at JAMS? You do realized that they move HCC around at will, right?

JAMS had a long planning period, but that's because it was a whole new school starting up. Whitman is already operating. It really wouldn't be all that difficult to add an HCC LA, SS and science teacher and offer those classes, as well as add an Algebra 1 class.

Anonymous said...

I think what the poster meant, as far as inequity, was in response to the idea of pulling out only the 6th grade HCC kids vs a full 6-8 HCC cohort, making REMS essentially a roll-up with a temporary one-year stop on the way. Those kids would get hit with double the challenge the first year JAMS kids did.

That said, SPS has set a precedent for the idea of moving the *entire* REMS HCC cohort a year earlier. Colocate a planning principal at Whitman, hire a couple initial teachers and staff, and call it REMS@Whitman. It could happen.

good fit

Anonymous said...

6th grade HCC students need the appropriate classes and access to a comprehensive middle school. They would have both at Whitman. They do not need to pass 7th and 8th grade HCC students in the hallways.

Anonymous said...

"JAMS had a long planning period, but that's because it was a whole new school starting up. Whitman is already operating. It really wouldn't be all that difficult to add an HCC LA, SS and science teacher and offer those classes, as well as add an Algebra 1 class."

But part of what went in to the planning process for JAMS was creating the new culture for the school, balancing how all of the diverse needs of the programs and students would fit together in to one cohesive school. APP would never be a real part of Whitman because it's just a year of warehousing kids for a year. It's setting our kids up to be separate and different. (Unless the real plan is to make Whitman the new NW APP school permanently???). The Whitman admin is proven to be unwelcoming of advanced learners since they got rid of Spectrum and blended all of their classes. You think the admin would let the district just add a few APP teachers and have a separate principal, basically a school within a school? That doesn't seem like a good set up for anyone, especially the APP kids who would have to walk the halls.

And what about music? This is a HUGE issue! Whitman is grade-based music and not ability-based, and it's been this way for years. Whitman parents have tried to work with the registrar and the admin to make music ability-based, but admin/registrar won't budge. I've heard the band teacher is a good guy but most students drop music after 6th grade because it's pretty low level, no room for advanced kids. There just isn't a culture of high level music. They have a tiny jazz band, nothing comparable to Sr. Jazz at HIMS or even Sr. Jazz in year one at JAMS. So what would happen to current Hamilton music students who are advanced and are expecting to be in higher level Band, Orchestra, and Sr. Jazz next year but wouldn't be allowed to do that at Whitman? How is that equitable? Are we telling these kids (mine included) that they should drop band and sign up for a random elective next year at Whitman?

Here's an idea...let's send the NW 6-8th APP kids to JAMS for a year until REMS is opened. JAMS already has an APP cohort, APP teachers and curriculum, and ability-based music. JAMS has a huge piece of land where portables could be easily added. Many of the HIMS APP students already know the JAMS APP students from when they went to Lincoln. It would allow NW APP kids to have continuation of their academic and music classes, with an admin and staff that are already set up to handle the needs of APP students. The new REMS principal could shadow and work with the JAMS principal all year as he/she establishes REMS. Instead of having to create a whole new APP (and music) program at Whitman, why not allow the kids to attend that year at JAMS?

I imagine that JAMS and Whitman have about the same population and capacity to take more students and portables. And it may be an easier sell to NW APP families in terms of academics and music instruction.

NW mom

Bigger Boat said...

To have the least disruption, how about sending just the incoming NW 6th grade HCC kids to JAMS? They get to join an already established cohort with all the benefits of that and it's already there. If possible give them the option to stay there if they want when REMS opens if they want the consistency of one school for the 3 years of middle school. Grandfather the current HIMS kids so as not to completely disrupt the entire school (sports, music, teachers, etc) and those kiddos who have already settled in there. They'll be gone in 2 short years. Seems like the simplest solution.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the map, sending kids who live in Ballard to JAMS seems like a really bad idea.

Anonymous said...

good fit, pulling just the 6th graders does not make it essentially a roll-up, because Whitman already IS a comprehensive middle school.

Anonymous said...

No easy solutions here. But if NW HCC kids are to end up at REMS in 2017, then I'd be concerned about splintering the cohort starting in 2016, by sending some but not all to either JAMS or Whitman for just a year. I think a 1-year visit to Whitman seems like a particularly bad idea given what I have heard about the existing culture and practices for placing (or not placing) students in the most appropriately challenging classes available, and potentially disrupting an existing program that's simply not set up to meet the needs of a distinct program such as HCC.

If the long-term idea is to put HCC at Whitman, then administration, teachers, PTA and the community need to be on board -- and have district support -- to make it a successful transition for everyone from the get-go, not a few painful years down the road.

Still, I think finding overflow space at Lincoln should be looked at seriously and creatively as a first solution. JAMS is an interesting idea if a 1-year-only solution must be found.

Another NW mom

Anonymous said...

@ Another NW mom, what did you mean by this: "But if NW HCC kids are to end up at REMS in 2017, then I'd be concerned about splintering the cohort starting in 2016, by sending some but not all to either JAMS or Whitman for just a year"?

The cohort is grade-based, and NW HCC kids are already moving to REMS the following year, so how does having them go to JAMS or Whitman for a year "splinter" the cohort? If anything, doesn't it PREVENT just such a splintering, since they wouldn't spend a year making friends at Hamilton only to get pulled out the following year? Instead the REMS-bound HCC 6th graders would all be together in a nice stable cohort that will move together the following year.

Re: Whitman's attitude toward advanced learning, if they go that route I would think access to HCC-specific classes would be guaranteed, along with the option of Algebra for those who qualify. Other than that, HCC really isn't so distinct. It doesn't seem like it needs to be that disruptive to join the Whitman community for electives.

Anonymous said...

"The cohort is grade-based...the REMS-bound HCC 6th graders would all be together in a nice stable cohort" Can you clarify? Are you assuming only incoming NW HCC 6th graders would be sent to another middle school next fall, and not those rising to 7th and 8th? Recent precedent indicates otherwise.

Splintering could occur both by design (which kids, in which grades, get reassigned, and which--if any--are grandfathered, in 2016 or in 2017) and also by family choice (again, in both 2016 and 2017). There are already NW families who have chosen to go to JAMS, and I believe many more would choose to go and stay there IF they can get their kid enrolled. Ultimately, who will end up in the HCC cohort at REMS in 2017 and will there be a sufficient critical mass for a strong start? I mean a critical mass not only of kids, but also experienced HCC teachers, and active, experienced HCC middle school parents who will, for example, help set up a strong music program from the start, based on FOMAHI.

For the district, families peeling off and shrinking the initial HCC cohort at REMS might look like a good idea from a numbers perspective but it doesn't lend itself to the establishment of a strong program for HCC kids in the initial years.

"I would think access to HCC-specific classes would be guaranteed" One would think, yes. But it's awfully optimistic given what I've heard about the difficult years of transition and loss of program fidelity when APP kids were moved into Hamilton from Washington several years back. JAMS is a different story, as it was a new school, had lots of planning time, and HCC kids and parents weren't interlopers, as we would be at Whitman. Again, mention of only Algebra indicates you may be discussing only upcoming 6th graders? What about Geometry and Algebra 2?

The idea of a single year at Whitman is particularly daunting, as experienced HCC parents and teachers seem likely to waste a LOT of energy explaining and defending the mere existence of the HCC program, to the inevitable (and understandable) resentment of others at Whitman. I'd love to be wrong, but I would predict philosophical resistance, accusations of inequity, and logistical arguments against maintaining HCC-specific classes and guaranteeing HCC students their next-level math class. And how would the district make sure that at least some experienced HCC teachers in each subject area came along for the ride to help maintain program integrity? What a waste of energy for a single year.

Instead, it would be much better for energy to be directed to preparations and planning for the opening of REMS in 2017.

But if the district is actually trying to put HCC at Whitman and then leave it there long-term, then let's find that out now and direct energy accordingly. Numbers-wise, there is a good argument for putting HCC at Whitman long-term. But from what I hear, it's otherwise not a good fit with the current administration and culture. Everyone who cares about the pathway for NW HCC kids needs to know where to put our energies, individually and collectively.

On the discussion of cohorts and the integrity and success of HCC programs, here's a link that includes Guiding Principles for Accelerated Progress published by APP AC in Fall 2013. It includes a minimum of 270 for critical mass (assuming each grade has at least 90 kids) in a middle school HCC cohort, as well as "principals, teachers and counselors that are truly committed to and experienced in supporting highly capable and 2e students and their education, can support a self- contained classroom model for core academic subjects." This document was updated and referenced during the planning and school board battles, er… decision-making process of fall 2013, where the course of both JAMS and REMS were set.

Another NW mom

CascadiaMom said...

Just wondering if you have heard anything back from the fire marshal about the capacity at HIMS?
In my experience working with city employees, you have to constantly hound them to provide information that they have said they will provide.

If there's someone that parents can email with this question, please post on the blog.

Anonymous said...

JAMS is expecting to be at full capacity next fall with roughly 950 kids. At least that is what the principal said at the open house a few weeks back.

Pinehurst Mom

Anonymous said...

I spoke to principal Blish recently. He told me he thought they may have figured out via scheduling a way to accommodate all the expected kids at HIMS next year.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone happen to make the PTA meeting at HIMS last night? Curious what was said about this topic.

Bigger Boat said...

I wasn't able to make it to the meeting last night but full details will be in HIMS newsletter next week. However, in scanning the board agenda for tonight 3/31, on Board Acton Report:E, I see there are 2 portables listed for HIMS...