Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cascadia Capacity Scenarios

I'm going to try to assemble all the data, pros and cons of the various scenarios here. I'll add on whatever we find out. There are lots of hard choices to be made here unfortunately and some of them affect other groups in the district.

Official SPS Link http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=13505264

"Seattle Public Schools is excited to open three schools at the Wilson-Pacific site in 2017-18, Cascadia Elementary, Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, and Licton Springs K-8. Cascadia is temporarily located in the former Lincoln High School building with Licton Springs K-8 and serves students in the Highly Capable Cohort.
Cascadia’s new building is planned to have a capacity of approximately 660 seats, which is not sufficient to serve all of the students currently at Cascadia given the growth the school has experienced.
The district is reviewing potential options for serving all of the current and future students who will attend Cascadia. Representatives from Capital, Enrollment Planning, School Operations, Advanced Learning, and School Supports have met to discuss potential options given available building space across the district and the capacity challenges across the district.
The District’s Capacity Management Task Force will be discussing this topic at its next meeting on September 14, 2016, 12-1:30 p.m. and there will be additional community meetings to review and share possible options for meeting the needs of the current and future Highly Capable identified students and their families.
Decisions on an additional site to accommodate all of the students at Cascadia will be made prior to Open Enrollment, which begins in mid-February 2017. The district currently anticipates the following timeline for Board review on this decision.
Board Timeline:
November 17, 2016: Board Action Report presented at Operations Committee. 
December 7, 2016: Board Action Report presented to Board for Introduction.
January 4, 2016: Board Action Report presented to Board for Action."

Currently Cascadia has an enrollment of 750 (30 homerooms) and its projected to grow into the 800's.

Growth: 5 year growth projections
Heat Map: Eligible MapEnrolled Map  (About 120 are eligible but not enrolled in the NE)

Status Quo

Cascadia was built with a capacity of 660 under the old classroom size standards and 550 under the new ones. It has space for 6 portables. The current cohorts are largest in 3rd grade (8 home rooms). If this continues there will need to be at least 2-4 more classrooms even at current student/teacher ratios.

Total Seats (assuming 25/portable):  810 or 700. This assumes no portables are needed for the other programs on the site.

Cons:  Strain on core facilities including child care spaces, bathrooms, lunch room, playground similar to at Lincoln but in a much smaller building.  Also if a split occurs, the classroom sizes at Cascadia will be smaller and some of the special-ed flex spaces will be used as intended rather than as classrooms. This may be a significant improvement in the educational experience for many students especially 2e ones.

Blue prints: http://bex.seattleschools.org/assets/Uploads/documents/131028-WPEMS-SDAT-08.pdf
(look towards the end of the slide deck)
Note: Rina has said there are 27 homerooms currently designed in the new building.


Most of my thinking is predicated around the assumption that the number of students will totally overrun this site and a split will happen no matter what so we need to find the most orderly least-worst alternative.

That said, starting a new program in a building is hard and requires a lot of parent effort to create all the supports that exist in the current ones, like after school programs, a PTA, muscial instrument instruction etc.  For reference our smallest HCC site at Fairmount Park has about 164 students but the recommended cohorts size is 2 classes per grade.

Cohousing has its own separate issues with integrating populations and sharing resources.

Decatur Building

This is the official staff preferred alternative. Originally the proposal was to move 150 students over
to the site.

History:  http://www.historylink.org/File/10497   "Stephen Decatur Elementary School opened in September 1961 with a K-5 enrollment of 326."  Note despite rumors it appears to not have been built as a K-2. 

Location:

Homerooms: 13-15 Its unclear if the 15 includes the library or not. Bear in mind at least 2 rooms need to be used for PCP (art/music) and a special ed resource room.
Condition2014 Assessment (See page: 716)   There are a set of improvements like replacing windows/door/sprinkler systems that are recommended. I can't find any evidence of it ever being condemned but given that money has continually been invested that's probably a moot point.
Capacity:  At 20-25 per room somewhere around the 200's.
Staffing: At this size:   .5 secretary. .5 librarian, .2 nurse etc.  (see: WSS formulas on page 30
Principal: Could this be run by John Miner (principal of Thornton Creek) jointly? That would raise the school size and allow pooling of resources like the nurse or library.
Neighborhood Opposition: I'd expect a fair amount given the previous resistance to building the new Thornton Creek building and how this would drive traffic and students on the site up even higher.
Limited Expansion: I have to confirm this but I doubt any portables can be added to the site.

Cedar Park/Olympic Hills


Either of these two buildings have been floated as possibilities in the past. Last June I asked if they were still on the table and was told no. As currently configured the extra space exists at the Olympic Hills site. This could easily be shifted to Cedar Park depending on how you draw the attendance zones. 

Note: The NNE community is concerned about the current Cedar Park catchment zone since it draws a mostly FRL population and are pushing for the district to reconsider it.

Capacity: 300 seats are unused. Cedar Park has space for around 340 officially but  that requires 8 portables. It appears to have about 12 homerooms from the blue prints. 
Busing: Either building is in the far NE corner of the city and less centrally located.  This somewhat mitigated by pulling students only from the Eckstein or JAMS reference area.
Facilities: Cedar Park is a landmarked building and is being renovated without a dedicated library: http://bex.seattleschools.org/bex-iv/cedar-park/.  Olympic Hills is bigger and more full featured. Either one is going to be in better condition than the Decatur building.
Long Term Viability: This would likely not be a stable scenario at Olympic Hills given rising school age populations in the reference zone. There's a good chance of another migration within a few years. Cedar Park probably has more viability.

Thurgood Marshall

I've heard scenarios floated with Queen Anne and Magnolia being switched to Thurgood Marshall.
Capacity: May 2016 enrollment: 516.    Official SPS Capacity: 534   

So this is realistically only possible if you added portables on the site or shifted students. The building is essentially full.

Madrona

This is the back to the future alternative since the program was housed there from the 1970's through 1997.

Capacity:   Enrollment May 2016 (294)  Official SPS Capacity: 352. This cap limit one seems off based on historical population at the school which has been around 450 without portables.

Cons:  Any move of the north end population will likely depress enrollment based on how the program grew when moved closer.  Not even on the official table.


Other Capacity Adjustments to decrease population size:

  • Serve only 3-5 in self-contained classrooms.
  • Tighten requirements. This usually tends to cut against efforts to increase diversity.
  • Provide a compelling alternative on site in the reference area schools like what Spectrum  provided.  Some quick practical considerations: the district just worked hard to dismantle self contained Spectrum classrooms so this would represent a huge reversal. That doesn't make it impossible but all the institutional pressure against is still there. Secondly, I'm not sure if  space exists given the rising enrollments to exactly recreate the old system. Its also unlikely families would transfer back in such cases vs. less families joining initially.  So it would take longer to alleviate the immediate Cascadia issues.

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