Boundaries & Option School Update

Update Report

Update Date: Saturday, Nov 16, 2013

We had two meetings last week that included discussion of the immersion program at Hamilton;  Karen Kodama's talk to our PTA and the Sherry Carr community meeting at JSIS.

At the Karen Kodama presentation, there was a lot of concern about Hamilton.  Most parent questions concerned the pathway, and Karen Kodama admitted it is a problem.  She again pointed out the issue that the MS teachers need to be dual certified, and her vision seems to be that the language teachers should be teaching some content, not just grammar, so that the classes are more interesting and student choose to take them as electives.

I don't share her vision, and from the parent questions, it was clear most families in the McDonald community would like a more robust program in Sp and Jp. I see a couple of problems with Karen's vision.  First, the language classes should be literacy (ie reading and writing), not grammar anyway, as these are immersion kids.  I can't imagine why they would think that a Spanish or Japanese grammar class was acceptable.  The state of the art language pedagogy always includes content - this is a shift in our lifetimes but still occurred decades ago.  Second, the kids need a core class to also be in the foreign language.  It seems that pretty much one dual-certified Jp and Sp teacher, say in social studies, could teach one core class a day to all the immersion students grades 6-8, so that the immersion classes weren't up against other electives.  There was wide-spread support in the McDonald population for the idea of dual-certified teachers teaching core classes.  Karen did say that a couple JSIS teachers were interested in getting a second certification, but we didn't follow up on who they were.  It's in my to-do list to follow up with her.

I also went to a JSIS meeting on Tuesday where Sherry Carr spoke.  Most of the meeting was addressing the large geozone for JSIS.  One McDonald parent there did bring up the immersion pathway at the end, and there was general agreement in the JSIS crowd that that was an issue.  In an after-meeting in the hallway, the JSIS parents said they felt like they'd been fighting an uphill battle for years about immersion at Hamilton and were also quite dissatisfied.  Among the small group I talked to, there was also widespread support for the idea of having core classes in Jp and Sp, not just an elective that competed with music.  And there was support for working together on this.

Volunteer ask #1: A McD parent who is also on the staff at HIMS said that the principal there does have a work group including parents who are working on immersion issues.   Would anyone from this group be willing to talk with me about trying to participate with that group?  Please let me know via email and then we can follow up.

Volunteer ask #2: Would anyone be willing to work more with the JSIS folks?  I have some names of people it would be good to meet with, and potentially plan a joint meeting sometime early next year.  Please email me if you'd be willing to lead this.

Also, I will follow up with Dan to see if we can start communication from the principal's direction between the three schools about this issue.

Cat Howell
PTA Advocacy Chair

Update Report

Update Date: Sunday, Nov 3, 2013

Dear All,

There is a new revision of the growth boundaries information out. They will again be taking comments.

A couple of changes:

Hamilton Capacity:  there are 5 elementary schools feeding into Hamilton, including McDonald and JSIS.  APP will be  starting at Eckstein (next year) and  Whitman and possibly phased out at Hamilton.  Hamilton capacity issues are yet to be determined.

Geozones.  Everything in Wallingford south of 50th is now in the JSIS geozone.  All of the U District E of 15th is no longer in the McDonald geozone.

The change for McDonald and JSIS to option schools is on the boards for next year.  Many of the other proposed changes district-wide will be phased in later.

Cat Howell
PTA Advocacy Chair

Update Report

Update Date: Thursday, Oct 17, 2013

Last night at the Seattle Public Schools Board meeting, SPS staffers presented the Board with proposed new "geo-zones" (aka "growth boundaries") for SPS elementary and middle schools. To see what's potentially in store for McDonald International:

  1. Go to SPS' Enrollment Planning – Growth Boundaries page.
  2. Find and click Board Action Report for October 16, You'll be directed to a 4-page PDF (titled "School Board Briefing/Proposed Action Report").
  3. At the bottom of page 4 of the PDF, in the "XII: ATTACHMENTS" section at the bottom of the page, click Attachment A.
  4. Go to page 20. McDonald's geo-zone is in pale yellow.

SPS staff also revealed their proposed tie-breakers for incoming students for option schools; in the following order, they are:

  1. 15% of each class will be set aside for native speakers of that language
  2. 1st tie-breaker: siblings
  3. 2nd tie-breaker:geo-zone (the growth boundaries)
  4. 3rd tie-breaker:"all-city draw"—a lottery of all applicants to the school who haven't already been accepted after the first three tie-breakers.

How do you feel about the SPS's proposed geo-zone for McDonald—too small vs. too large? keeps the school neighborhood-y vs. why would an all-city option school even need one? And the tie-breakers—fair or not fair?

If you feel passionately about any of these issues or if you just want to know more, the McDonald PTA recommends that you do the following:

  • Review the Board Action Report for October 16
  • Take the SPS's growth boundaries survey to let them know your thoughts about the proposed geo-zone for McDonald International (hurry—the survey closes by Friday, Oct, 25)
  • Email Sherry Carr, the Board member who represents SPS District II (that's the district McDonald is in) to let her know your thoughts
  • Email PTA Board member Cat Howell and get your email address added to the conversation
  • Attend Sherry Carr's community meeting on Saturday, Nov 9
  • Attend the next PTA General meeting on Tuesday, Nov 12
  • Remember that none of the proposed changes will take effect until fall 2014

Sept 2013 Growth Boundaries Meeting

Meeting date: Monday, Sept 30, 2013 from 6:30-8pm
Location: McDonald Cafeteria

Attendees: 20 people in attendance, most McDonald families but a few with future attendees.

Disclaimer: The information in this document reflects the opinions and summarizes the discussions of the individuals who attended this meeting. They are not necessarily reflective of the school, the PTA, or the McDonald community as a whole. We encourage all interested community members to voice their opinions, be involved, and stay informed on this issue.

Discussion Highlights

It’s important for us to speak often and clearly to the district about what we want for our school and our families.

As much as possible, we should try to raise similar issues so the district takes notice.

We have questions about implementation of the plan, the district’s overall long term-vision for managing capacity, and the long-term vision for immersion education.

Methods for advocacy:

Talking Points

Support the continuity of the immersion cohort.  The immersion schools produce a strong cohort of students who have invested 6 years in learning language.  These children should be able to continue their language studies in elementary, middle, and high school, which is the district's vision for immersion pathways.  The district should take action to avoid breaking up the cohort.

  1. Any child who attends McDonald or JSIS should be automatically admitted to Hamilton, regardless of their home address.
  2. Any child currently attending McDonald or JSIS with bus transportation should be grandfathered into that school with bus transportation.  Please release the transportation plan for redistricted areas as soon as possible.
  3. Hamilton should add classes and teachers to accommodate the coming McDonald and JSIS foreign-language speakers.  In particular, Hamilton should offer content study, not just literature, in Japanese and Spanish.
  4. Determine the capacity at Hamilton.  Align this with the predicted enrollment from the 5 attendance area and two option schools feeding into Hamilton.
  5. Discuss high school program placement and capacity as part of the current Growth Boundaries process.

Expand access to immersion education throughout the district.  The district should designate immersion pathways beyond the 3 current ones.  Other areas of Seattle would like immersion programing.  It is a proven, popular school model and should be expanded.

Release geozone information as quickly as possible, even though the geozone may change from year to year.  Without a draft proposal it is hard to estimate impact of the plan on one's family, leading to significant anxiety.

Make a plan for native-speaker preference at the immersion option schools, and release it as soon as possible.  Also, provide ELL services at the immersion option schools.  The district has committed to providing services where the students are.  If there is a native-speaker preference to attract more Spanish and Japanese speakers, these children should have the appropriate services at international option schools.

Provide an open enrollment process that enables parents to express their preferences and make informed choices.  Forcing families to guess between applying to JSIS or McDonald seems arbitrary and unfair.    (Issues here:  apply for any N-end immersion school, apply for language, balancing languages between JSIS and McDonald)

To read the article and proposal by FACMAC that was recently published, click on the link below. Details include their actual recommendations that the district use data, plan for the future, and put APP in their own school.


More Information

Find more info on McDonald becoming an option school on the Resources & Links page under "Hot Topics."

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