News Blog for Seattle's Wallingford Neighborhood


Open enrollment numbers for Wallingford schools

May 5th, 2010 · No Comments

With a new student assignment plan taking effect this year in the Seattle Public Schools and a new elementary school opening in Wallingford, there’s been a lot of uncertainty among parents about how all these changes will work.

Yesterday the Seattle Public Schools posted open enrollment numbers for all the city’s public schools, based on the enrollment process earlier this year, that provide a somewhat clearer picture of the road ahead.

The McDonald Elementary School, which was opened along with Sand Point and Queen Anne elementary schools to accommodate an increased number of students in the north end, has enrollment estimates significantly lower than were projected in February. At that time, Principal Cheryl Grinager told a gathering of parents at a McDonald meet and greet that she planned open the school with four kindergarten classes because enrollment was estimated at 92 students. The numbers released yesterday show that 52 kindergarteners are expected to start at McDonald in the fall.

The upper grades at McDonald show even steeper declines from earlier projections: five first-graders, six second-graders, one third-grader, two fourth-graders and zero fifth-graders are forecast to enroll this fall.

What impact will these lower numbers have on McDonald? Grinager told us this morning that there will be staff hiring reductions based on the lower enrollmentĀ numbers, and that those numbers will continue to change over the summer. “We are currently looking at two kindergarten classes and an undetermined number of classes in grades 1-5,” she said. “All classes and staffing are subject to adjustments based on enrollment changes.”

Sarah Koch, a McDonald parent who is on the design team for the school, told us that she didn’t find the low numbers surprising, plus she said she knows of some students in the upper grades who haven’t yet registered. Koch says she’s excited for the older students to get some individualized instruction. “In a public school with strapped funds, it’s pretty exciting to have small class sizes,” she said.

Sand Point and Queen Anne Elementary Schools have similar differences between their projected numbers and open enrollment data.

John Stanford International School has a lengthy wait list, as it has in past years.

Hamilton Middle School also has a wait list, despite enrolling fewer students than in recent years. The incoming 6th grade class will be smaller than the 7th and 8th grade classes, Principal Chris Carter explained, because of the new assignment plan. The school used to have an all-city draw, and now its boundaries are confined to the attendance area for five elementary schools (including McDonald, from which Hamilton will get no incoming students) and North End APP (advanced learning program) students.

Carter cautioned that until school opens in fall, he won’t know final enrollment numbers, which is true every year. “Every principal at every school goes through this — you don’t know who’s going to be there till the kids walk through the door,” he said.

Speaking of the new assignment plan, Carter said, “This is uncharted territory for most schools; we’re just flowing with the water at this point.”

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