School board narrowly approves capacity management plan

By a vote of 4-3 on Jan. 31, the Seattle School Board approved the annual capacity management plan and updated student assignment transition plan in hopes of making room for an ever-growing student population.

In West Seattle, the capacity plan will result in a mixture of solutions, from transitioning unused or otherwise spoken for spaces into classrooms to placing portable classrooms on site.

The main changes with regard to student assignments include the specific plan to make the West Seattle Elementary attendance area the geographic zone for K-5 STEM currently housed at the Boren Building on Delridge Way S.W. (K-5 STEM is an option school for kindergarten through 5th grade focusing on science, technology, engineering and math).

There will also be changes to tiebreaker rules when a student wishes to attend a school outside their attendance area. For elementary and K-8 schools, if there are available seats after attendance area students are in place, tiebreakers will go to siblings, then to distance from the school, then to a lottery. For middle school, it will go siblings, feeder school, distance, lottery. Most high schools have only sibling or lottery tiebreakers, but in West Seattle feeder school determination is a tiebreaker as Seattle Public Schools tries to balance the populations between Chief Sealth International High School and West Seattle High School. Sealth has more students and more capacity issues currently.

These changes are all a way for SPS to manage student population over the next year. They are hoping Seattle voters will pass operations and building improvement levies on Feb. 12(ballots should have already arrived in registered voters' mailboxes), providing funding to improve and expand existing or build new schools over the next several years.

To read more on capacity in Seattle Schools, please click here. To learn more about the levies, please click here.

Capacity solutions for West Seattle schools:
Arbor Heights – Transition unused space into a homeroom and repurpose PCP

Highland Park – Repurpose PCP

West Seattle – Place one or two portable classrooms on site

Pathfinder – Place one portable classroom on site

Schmitz Park – Place one or two double portables on site

Middle School
Denny International – Place two double portable classrooms on site and reduce the number of choice assignments (meaning less students outside the geographical area will be accepted)

High School
Chief Sealth International – Instead of placing portables on site, they hope to reduce the number of open choice seats (just like Denny above)

From SPS:

Enrollment is projected to grow by 7,000 students over the next 10 years. The annual capacity management plan and new student assignment plan transition plan addresses immediate capacity needs. If approved by voters on Feb. 12, renewal of the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy would provide capital funding for long-term growth.

The annual short-term capacity management plan was developed following input and feedback from the community, staff and School Board. Input was considered from more than 500 attendees at community meetings and from more than 1,225 public comments in December 2012 and January 2013.

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