Decision nears on high school boundaries

A controversial but necessary realignment of Seattle’s public high school boundaries continues to move forward as it races toward a Jan. 31 deadline.

With the (re)opening of Lincoln High School in 2019 in Wallingford to help relieve the pressure on Roosevelt and Ballard high schools, a re-zoning of the north Seattle high school boundaries is imminent.

Lincoln will take in a maximum 1,600 students when it opens in September of 2019, leading to tough decisions and some strange scenarios for rezoning.

One of the most-discussed scenarios, particularly as it raised the ire of parents in the Magnolia neighborhood, was option H version 2. In this situation, Lincoln High School would envelop Wallingford and Fremont, south Green Lake and over to the Ballard bridge, as well as the entirety of Magnolia and Queen Anne.

“My concern is that it is pitting neighborhoods against each other,” said James Wagar, parent of a freshman at Ballard High School. “We want to do what we can to keep Magnolia students at Ballard.”

This huge swath of schools across the Lake Washington Ship Canal was the topic of much public comment at a Jan. 5 school board meeting. Ultimately, the board narrowed the options down to two for the task force (a group of 20 parents and teachers) to analyze. Neither option moved Magnolia’s students.

David Shepard, another parent of a Magnolia student, said his neighborhood made travel to Wallingford unfeasible.

“It’s more than an hour commute to Lincoln High School every day,” he said. “Magnolia is not designated as an urban village so there’s infrequent transit service. Ballard is our closest neighborhood high school.”

On Friday, Jan. 5, the task force looked at the two options, called “Scenario F version 4.2” and “Scenario F version 6.” Both proposals acquiesced to parents from the Ballard High School community in not shifting Magnolia and most of Ballard.

In 4.2, Lincoln’s student base would include Wallingford, Fremont, a section of the Roosevelt neighborhood across Interstate 5, reach south across the ship canal and claim all of Queen Anne Hill right up until the Central Business District.

Ballard High School would still have the largest demographic shift, sending 588 estimated students to Lincoln, while Roosevelt would send 492. North of Greenlake, portions of Ingraham, Nathan Hale and Roosevelt would be swapped. Lincoln would have an estimated 1,080 students in its swath.

In “Scenario F version 6,” the portion of Lincoln High School south of the ship canal remains largely the same except for a portion near the Magnolia Bridge with very few households if any. North of the canal, Lincoln would not cross I-5, but would spread north between 3rd Avenue Northwest and I-5 to encapsulate the entirety of Greenlake. Ingraham’s boundary would come south to meet it, keeping all of Roosevelt’s student body east of I-5.

This proposal would take more students from Ballard (636) as well as Roosevelt (603) for a student population of 1,239.

Both scenarios had the same Highly Capable pathways, with Lincoln as the North Pathway, Garfield as South, West Seattle as West and Ingraham as the optional pathway.

At the Jan. 17 board meeting, a new map — referred to as “Scenario F version 4.3” — was introduced. In that map, the boundaries for Lincoln and Ballard are the same as they were in version 4.2, with minor adjustments for the Ingraham, Nathan Hale, and Roosevelt boundaries.

This map will be presented for action at the board’s Jan. 31 meeting — just days before advance registration for Seattle high schools — with four “areas for consideration,” that could be changed, All four are located north of the ship canal. Meanwhile, an amendment introduced by School Board Directors Eden Mack and Rick Burke would move the north-end dual language immersion pathway from Ingraham to Lincoln in 2019-20 and establish a southeast DLI pathway (students entering ninth grade the year from the Hamilton DLI pathway would continue the pathway to Lincoln, tenth graders would have the option of transferring, and all others at Ingraham would be grandfathered).

Flip Herndon, associate superintendent of the Seattle School District, said that in Lincoln’s first year, it would likely only have a class of underclassmen, leaving juniors and seniors to graduate from where they attended previously.

To view the proposals online, visit