Slow enrollment at QA Elementary doesn't deter plans

Enrollment at Queen Anne Elementary School is less than half of what the school district projected, but preparations for the new option school have not slowed down.
The Seattle School District's target enrollment was 109. So far, 46 students have enrolled; all families who have applied for the elementary school were accepted.
Of those 46 students, 25 are kindergartners; there are seven students each for first and second grade, two for third grade and five for fourth grade.
Positions for a kindergarten teacher and first/second grade teacher were posted last week, and QA Elementary Design Team member, Sherri Johnson, expects teachers will be hired by May 25, if not sooner. QA Elementary will work with MacDonald Elementary-also sharing the temporary site at the old Lincoln High School for the 2011-12 school year-to hire a shared third/fourth/fifth grade teacher.
Though enrollment may seem low, both Johnson and principal David Elliott said they weren't expecting as many as the district projected. Part of that has to do with variables in the cluster, such as the fact that Coe Elementary School still doesn't have a principal assignment, noted Johnson.
"I'm not shocked by the numbers. I think getting the publicity out has been challenging," Elliott said. "There are a lot of folks who still don't have any idea of the focus and there is a number of people in the process of making a decision who would like to make a decision if they had more information."
While some parents wait on the district to make decisions about principal assignments, Johnson said some are also on the fence because the idea of a technology enriched school remains unclear.
"The questions they still have are about what a day at Queen Anne Elementary looks like compared to a day at Coe, Lawton or Hay," Johnson said. "For now that's the biggest hurdle, us trying to deliver the message that it's going to look very similar, only with an added technology component."
At the moment, enrollment for the school will be open until the end of September but Johnson said the Design Team is negotiating with the district for an earlier enrollment cutoff of July 1.
"It makes it really difficult for us to plan for teachers and classroom sizes," Johnson said.
While the Design Team works on spreading the word to undecided parents, enrolled families are moving ahead with preparations for the school.
"We have a number of parents who have offered to sit on certain teams and help get the school off the ground," Johnson said. "The important thing right now, before the school year ends is to make sure families are rallied and ready to go on working through the summer on various components of pulling the school together."
In addition to starting a PTA or fundraising branch, there will be a team for researching best practices of other technology schools, a grant writing team and a facilities committee to help with the upgrading of the Old John Hay building (where QA Elementary will be permanently located in the 2012-13 school year). There is also a Web site team, which has already developed, and a communications team.
"We have a long ways to go but we've got a great group of people. I'm unbelievably excited about the hiring process," Elliott said. "As [the] time gets closer I'm more and more excited about the plans for the technology focus and the possibilities I see both short-term and long-term."[[In-content Ad]]