I went to the task force meeting yesterday. We are fortunate to have very engaged and knowledgeable parent representation on the task force. Most north end principals and about half the south end principals were there. First they discussed the new maps, G, H, and I. G and I are identical in the northend. There was discussion about transportation in H in the Ballard area, and some questions about whether these maps were representative of growth happening now at different rates in different places since they used numbers of current 9th-12th grade residents. The principals talked a lot at this stage about a magic number of 1200 students to have a full comprehensive school. These maps and the direction of the board and staff appeared to be to align middle and high school boundaries to have more continuity in the k-12 pathway. This obviously creates some boundaries very close to high schools, but just one got moved, the change area in the north of Wedgwood. Parents and principals asked about doing this in two stages- one to fill Lincoln, one to right size other boundaries, or grandfathering where possible to allow kids to finish programs. Or just only geosplitting where necessary. Principals in particular advocated that it is very difficult for kids to move midstream when they have begun programs which have very concrete sequences, that there are real consequences to moving them. Staff said they prefer to treat all families across the district the same, so that one group doesn't complain that another is treated differently, and perhaps it is better if pain is just all around the district, so the ones who "have to" get moved(to fill Lincoln) don't feel alone. In the vote, H was the clear favorite, with the addendum of north Wedgwood moving back to Hale, for walkability and to keep it at 1200.
Some task force members brought up the possibility of school choice, that with breathing room in schools people should be able to make choices again, such as students who live 3 blocks from a school but are in a different boundary. This is in tension, to me, with the idea that schools should not go below 1200, and so I am not sure how much choice there will end up being. Staff didn't really engage in that question.
Then the conversation moved to the south end, specifically around Cleveland. I want to mention that everyone in the meeting was very concerned about appearing on the blogs, and so there was some pressure in the room, but I was very impressed with everyone's dedication, and I hope they see themselves as portrayed positively. But most especially the Cleveland representatives, who seemed to have built such a thoughtful school and community. Their school is 868 students with a capped waitlist, and it is hard for them to provide services with a small school. The district would like to consider making it an attendance area school for stability for Cleveland as well as surrounding area schools. Someone asked if they'd be able to provide a robust experience if it was attendance vs option, given that in that facility the very largest it could get was 930 students(well shy of the 1200 number discussed in the first hour). The admin seemed not to consider that a huge stumbling point. They were concerned that codifying lines around Cleveland, since it is already a desirable school, would accelerate the gentrification already happening in that neighborhood compared to some parts of RBHS.
At this point the discussion moved to HCC, and Ted Howard talked about his experience having HCC in the building and how the neighborhood has changed, that he's tried lots of things but it's just hard to serve kids coming in at a 4th grade through college level. I know he catches a lot of flak on here, but yesterday, at least, he seemed like he was just struggling with serving all the kids in his school, and that it was really crowded right now. Most of the principals at this point talked about the difficulty of serving kids at lots of different levels, especially if there are just a few of them in a school. The Franklin principal's executive director brought up that she thought having just a few HCC kids might mess up the tone of the 9th grade academies, since everybody usually takes the same thing, but these kids come in needing different classes. The Hale principal disagreed that kids need different classes, said that she serves HCC kids having them be in her academies(and retake classes), "maybe not their rigor, but other things." The group asked for data from Advanced Learning in order to make a recommendation around south end boundaries, because Garfield's boundaries change based on what happens to HCC.