Redrawing the lines

Parents speak out about potential school attendance boundary changes

In 2018, Magnolia Elementary School will reopen, more than three decades after it’s initial closure and over 15 years since the building last served as an interim site for students.

What remains up for debate is how the district will draw up the school’s attendance boundary, and just how many families and students may be affected.

That was the topic of discussion during a public meeting last Monday night at McClure Middle School, as the district evaluates potential changes to the current lines to fill the new school.

Seattle Public Schools presented two new options in addition to the six previous alternatives in drawing new boundaries to accommodate the addition of the 500-seat elementary school.

“Without Magnolia you can clearly tell that we would not have enough elementary capacity, just today,” said Ashley Davies, director of enrollment planning for SPS.

The total combined elementary capacity will be bumped to just under 2,800 with the new school, though Davies noted that not all student residents in the area will attend a public school.

“Every boundary area has a different capture rate,” Davies said.

While few question the need, many parents expressed concerns about the various boundary proposals, with at least three and up to five schools affected. All eight scenarios include Lawton and Coe Elementary, and Catharine Blaine K-8, but the two latest options introduced at Monday’s meeting proposed making Queen Anne Elementary an attendance-area school as opposed to an option school. Such a move would impact all current students at QAE, in addition to affecting the current John Hay Elementary boundaries.

Queen Anne Elementary PTSA President Heath Dixon said during the public comment period that it was disappointing that neither of the new scenarios maintained the school’s option status, and that it’s important for the area to have one, giving families the ability to choose a different school even if they cannot afford

“Not having one is an irresponsible position,” he said.

Dixon also expressed concern that the scenarios presented did not show the number of affected families.

Thus far, Davies said the district has heard that students and families love their current schools and neighborhoods, and that there’s interest in walk zones and transportation options, in addition to more details about the programs and services offered at each school, and the potential for grandfathering.

While some, like those speaking on behalf of QAE families, had broad concerns about the potential changes, others had more specific frustrations. John Locke has a child at Coe Elementary, and lives just blocks from the school, but said that in most of the current proposals, their school assignment would change.

“We have never driven to school, we have always walked,” he said.

Some parents also raised questions about how the district is planning for future growth in the area, and the potential for an increasing number of students in the years to come.

Davies said the district is “constantly working with the city and others on the issue, and that the projection model considers growth over time.

“That is all baked into our projection model,” she said.

Though eight options have already been presented, Davies said there could still be more to come from the district.

“This isn’t necessarily the limit of scenarios we are looking at,” she said.

Another community meeting on the issue will be held in June with revised scenarios, with the final scenarios shared with the public in September. The final plan will be introduced to the School Board in October, with a vote the following month.

For more information on the Magnolia Elementary School boundaries, or to view documents from the meeting, visit, or email with questions.

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