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Originally published November 6, 2013 at 10:39 PM | Page modified November 6, 2013 at 10:43 PM

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Seattle School Board hears complaints about boundaries proposal

Angry parents, residents and activists unloaded a host of grievances at the Seattle School Board meeting Wednesday where the district’s official school boundaries plan was formally introduced.


Seattle Times education reporter

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Angry parents, residents and activists unloaded a host of grievances at the Seattle School Board meeting Wednesday where the district’s official school boundaries plan was formally introduced.

Many in the crowd, which spilled into the lobby, held signs calling on the board to reject various portions of the district’s proposal regarding schools and programs.

Several speakers debated how the board should handle the controversial situation at the Horace Mann building, where community groups have been operating rent free for months, causing construction delays.

But parents at Wedgwood Elementary School in Seattle’s North End had to settle for holding signs and places on the 61-name waitlist for the microphone. The district’s latest version of the plan, which had big changes for Wedgwood, was posted late Friday afternoon. That didn’t leave parents much time to reserve one of the 25 slots for the public-comments period.

In the new version, kids at that school would go to Jane Addams Middle School instead of Eckstein Middle School, and news of that change roiled the Wedgwood community over the weekend, leading to a PTA meeting Monday night and a visible showing at the Wednesday School Board meeting.

“W e are expecting to go to Eckstein, we are right across the street from Eckstein, and yet they’re going to move us over to another school,” said Lin Nacht. She has a sixth-grade daughter at Eckstein who would have to switch to Jane Addams next fall under the current proposal.

“It’s very stressful to go to middle school. It’s very scary, and she’s gotten there, she’s settled in,” Nacht said.

The reasons for the changes are complicated, but they boil down to this: The district is adding two more middle schools north of the Ship Canal, and those schools have to take in elementary schools previously assigned to other middle schools.

The question all along has been where to locate the Accelerated Progress Program (APP), which serves students from all over the district who score highly on cognitive and achievement tests.

Many of the kids in APP live in the Whitman and Eckstein areas, but they’ve been going to Hamilton Middle School, which is overcrowded, the district’s enrollment manager, Tracy Libros, said earlier Wednesday.

The new plan would keep some APP at Hamilton for now, but also add it to Whitman and Eckstein, which means that those schools would have less room for non-APP students, and could serve fewer elementary schools. Meanwhile, Jane Addams would need to serve more elementary schools to fill its classes.

So the district reassigned Wedgwood and Sacajawea elementary schools from Eckstein to Jane Addams. Kids from those schools already in sixth and seventh grade at Eckstein would move to Jane Addams next fall, too, so that Jane Addams could start with all three grades in place next fall.

It’s all part of the district’s effort to ease overcrowding, make room for even more growth and fit new schools into an already complicated student-assignment plan.

The district released its first draft in September, updated it last month after a series of a public meetings, and updated it again Friday in advance of Wednesday’s board meeting.

The board will vote on it Nov. 20.

John Higgins: 206-464-3145 or jhiggins@seattletimes.com On Twitter @jhigginsST



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