Seattle schools cope with crowding

Dec 12, 2012

Seattle Public Schools is set to stop busing students to schools outside their neighborhood next year, but that move might cost more money than it saves. The situation dates back to Seattle's move to a system of neighborhood schools instead of district wide school choice. The district continued to give some kids rides to their old schools during the transition. 

That's supposed to end this year, but cutting off bus service for that last 1800 students would flood their neighborhood schools. forcing the district to add expensive portable classrooms. Assistant Superintendent for Operations Pegi McEvoy said the district has done the math.

"That would cost us about $2,2 million. If we continued the grandfathering,of that transportation and kept those service standards alive [for another year], it would only cost us a half a million dollars," McEvoy said.,

Speaking Tuesday at a public meeting on school crowding, McEvoy said staff will likely recommend that move to the school board.

More kids, more portables

She spelled out the transportation issues at a community meeting on school crowding. Even without the busing change, the district will need to add more than 50 homerooms to accommodate growing enrollment. That doesn't even include some schools, such as Eckstein Middle School, which are bursting but stable. Parent Jennifer Biely said that's a big oversight.

"My child was not allowed to carry her binder or her backpack or even go to her locker during passing classes because they would bump things and couldn't get through the hallways. Just because the enrollment isn't increasing doesn't mean it isn't on fire," Biely said.

The fixes are all short-term anyway. If voters pass a capital levy next year, the district will build new buildings and rejigger attendance boundaries to accommodate the new students.