Q. Which current school communities will be affected by the new elementary school at Site 52?
A. This boundary process will make the final determination. The nearest elementary schools to that site are Smith and McAuliffe, so they are likely to be the most affected. Other schools may be involved to a lesser degree in order to balance school populations so that no one school in this area is overburdened compared to the others.
Q. Why isn’t Blackwell also involved?
A. The charge of the committee is to revise the elementary school boundaries to determine which students will go to the new school at Site 52. District policy requires the committee to consider the impacts on families’ continuity with their school and community so it has tried to minimize the number of schools involved. Blackwell’s enrollment is projected to remain stable for the next seven years, with little room to take students from other schools. Instead, the focus has been on the two schools closest to Site 52, Smith and McAuliffe. Mead Elementary is adjacent to those two schools and its boundaries have been changed in some of the scenarios to balance enrollments.
Q. What about Alcott?
A. In the last boundary process, some neighborhoods on or near the Sammamish plateau were included within the Alcott Elementary boundaries. The number of students already on the plateau as well as projected growth and the number of classrooms available created a need to shift some students to Alcott. The addition of one more elementary school on the plateau will create more capacity for students. However, recent and projected growth is expected to fill those classrooms: at least one school is projected to be over capacity within five years in each of the draft scenarios. The committee is considering whether any of these neighborhoods, which have expressed interest in moving to plateau schools, can be accommodated in this process without causing schools to fill beyond their capacity.
Q. Will Alcott lose the Quest program?
A. No. Right now, Alcott has six classrooms dedicated to the Quest program. While three to four full-time Quest classrooms of students who live on the plateau will move to McAuliffe Elementary, three Quest classrooms will stay, and others may move from other schools in the district.
Q. How will this process affect special ed students?
A. Current contained classroom programs will stay in the schools where they are now. In addition, there is a district transition program for high needs special education students at Mead Elementary. Those students will continue to be served there.
Q. Why are parents not represented on the committee, as they were the last time?
A. Parents who served on the committee during the last boundary change process made it clear that the experience was very uncomfortable for them. They received many direct complaints from other parents unhappy with the process. Given the high level of emotion that a boundary process can elicit, the committee did not feel comfortable asking volunteers to take on difficult work that puts them into the public eye in a way that can be quite negative. PTSA leadership members were given the option of participating on the committee or an alternative process of broad-based community surveys via the district website and public meetings. This second option was selected.
Q. Why isn’t Site 52 being built as a larger school if all the scenarios end up with schools over capacity?
A. The size of the school had to be determined when the bond measure was proposed in 2005 for the 2006 election. The size was based both on enrollment projections at that time plus a judgment on what the voters of the entire district would support in the complete bond measure, which also modernizes 11 schools. Unfortunately, because the district has more classrooms than it needs on the west side of the district, the state considers the district to have excess capacity and will not provide any state subsidy for new school construction. Thus, the new school is being paid for entirely out of district bond money.
Q. Why didn't the committee include four portables at Site 52 in all the scenarios or have Site 52 go over capacity at any point?
A. Adding a portable to Site 52 will cost $100,000 that is not in the facilities budget, so adding four portables will cost about $400,000. The committee did consider configurations that would have put Site 52 over capacity but did not include them in any of the scenarios selected for presentation.
Q. Was the completion of 244th taken into account? When will that happen?
A. Yes, that was taken into account by the committee. The city of Sammamish has told us that it will be completed by the end of December 2008.
Q. Why do all the scenarios have a school or schools going over capacity? Will boundaries be redrawn again in a few years?
A. The volatility of development on the Sammamish plateau means that changing boundaries may be needed again in the future. Enrollment projections depend on knowledge of planned development and are estimates of how many children will live in those future developments. Development plans can change or be delayed and more children or fewer children may move into a new neighborhood. The committee’s goal is to determine boundaries that will be viable for as long as possible.
Q. Why are the Vintage neighborhoods split between two schools?
A. The Vintage neighborhoods currently are split between two schools. A high number of students live in these neighborhoods: the neighborhoods on the west side of the proposed boundary lines house about 150 students. The committee looked at adding these Vintage neighborhoods that are projected to go to Smith to Site 52 but that sent the new school significantly over capacity.
Q. It seems that Smith has taken a hit with overcrowding for some time now and while the plans do give the school a break for a couple years, the numbers return again later. There are some south neighborhoods that are being sent to Smith in all of the scenarios. Why would those not be sent to the new school when everyone else in the southernmost neighborhoods seems to be going there?
A. During the early years of these projections, Smith Elementary is reduced from 32 classrooms in use to 23. However, most of the development over the years of these projections will happen in areas that are closer to Smith than any other school. Smith has the greatest number of portable classrooms on site: as the population grows, those portable classrooms may be needed again. Much of this development is expected to take place in years four through seven of these scenarios. Keep in mind, the later the development, the less certain these projections are. Specific development projects may be cancelled or delayed, in which case the Smith population may not grow as much as expected.
Q. Will next year’s 6th graders still be able to attend their old school (grandfathering)?
A. The focus of the committee has to be on the overall impact of new boundaries for the next five to seven years. Any decision on grandfathering is part of the implementation of new boundaries. The committee will certainly look at grandfathering when boundaries have been set and implementation work begins.
Q. Will anything be done to help smooth the transition for students who have to move?
A. Each school and program will welcome the new students. As part of the implementation of the new boundaries, each school will develop its own transition plans, involving staff, parents, and students. A core team for Site 52 has been formed under the leadership of Mary Cronin, who will serve as principal.