Boundary changes for Magnolia students are underway as Seattle Public Schools continues work on Magnolia Elementary.

About 100 parents attended an Oct. 25 district meeting at Lawton Elementary School to ask questions and view the proposed boundary changes.

The historic Magnolia Elementary School is proposed to reopen in 2019, freeing up space at Lawton Elementary and Catharine Blaine K-8 schools.

SPS architect Floyd A. Naramore designed Magnolia School, which opened on 28th Avenue West in 1927 for grades 1-6. The school expanded to grades 7-8, and had several build-outs between 1931 and 1969. Catharine Blaine Junior High School was built in 1952 to address overcrowding at Magnolia School, which later dropped to just grades 1-3. The school was closed in 1984, and later became an interim site for other schools as they underwent renovations. It was closed entirely in 2002.

The school district is now renovating and modernizing Magnolia Elementary, plus adding four classrooms and a gymnasium, in order to accommodate an increase in the student population in Magnolia and Queen Anne. The project also helps SPS comply with the McCleary decision regarding reducing class size. Once open, Magnolia Elementary is expected to accommodate 500 students.

Originally, the school was expected to open in fall 2018, but higher than expected construction bids were rejected in 2017, and the project was rebid that fall. The project cost is $26.2 million, and Forma Construction Company is the contractor. Funding comes from the Building Excellence IV levy.

Queen Anne Elementary head teacher Katie Cryan Leary was tapped by SPS to serve as Magnolia Elementary principal back in April.

The district announced the selection of Queen Anne Elementary head teacher Katie Cryan Leary as the school’s firs principal back in April.

The three proposed attendance boundary changes will be reviewed by the school board in December, and the board will vote on one of the proposed boundary changes in January.

Enrollment Planning director Ashley Davies presented Scenarios B, C and D during the Oct. 24 meeting.

In Scenario B, the Catharine Blaine boundary would move north into the current Lawton boundary, but Magnolia would take the east portion of the current Catharine Blaine boundary, while also taking a southern portion of the Lawton boundary.

Scenario B would create more space for Lawton’s forecasted growth, but it would mean Catharine Blaine would have less room for middle school choice enrollment.

Scenario C would make the Catharine Blaine boundaries the smallest in the area. The Magnolia boundary takes up the east portion of the Catharine Blaine boundary while taking a larger chunk of Lawton’s southeast portion of its boundary. Catharine Blaine would not expand into Lawton.

Scenario C means Magnolia and Lawton’s enrollment is closer to capacity, but families near West Manor Place living close to Lawton would be zoned for Magnolia.

Scenario D is similar to Scenario C, except the Magnolia boundary takes up less of the Lawton boundaries than in Scenario C. If Scenario D is approved, Catharine Blaine would have more room for middle school choice enrollment, but Lawton would be near capacity, with no room for growth.

“Without boundary changes, Lawton and Catharine Blaine will continue to be overcrowded,” Davies said. “We expect to create more space for middle school students with these changes.”

The 2018-19 enrollment for Catharine Blaine is 759, and 473 for Lawton. Catharine Blaine is expected to grow to 886 students by 2022-23, and Lawton is expected to grow-620.  The numbers presented by Davies showed the preferred enrollment would be 595 students at Catharine Blaine and 396 students at Lawton.

Magnolia Elementary and Frantz Coe Elementary School in Queen Anne will to add six new classrooms by winter 2020, increasing capacity at both schools by 132 students.

Catharine Blaine, facing a classroom shortage, is using seven portable buildings, which host a couple hundred students.

Parents with children in the Magnolia and Queen Anne area know McClure Middle School is the main middle school for the Magnolia attendance area. Through the district’s school choice program, students were given the chance to apply to attend Catharine Blaine, even if they didn’t attend Catharine Blaine for elementary school.

Davies said having students move to Magnolia Elementary means more middle school seats will open at Catharine Blaine, creating a better school choice option.

Davies also addressed whether students will get to be grandfathered into their current schools.

“We have two choices,” Davies said. “Either no grandfathering or partial grandfathering.”

If no grandfathering is allowed, students in the new Magnolia boundary will transfer to Magnolia. Magnolia Elementary will host K-5 students, meaning some students at Catharine Blaine would move to Magnolia. They would have to decide between McClure Elementary or applying for Catharine Blaine again.

Partial grandfathering means students in kindergarten through fourth grade would be required to attend Magnolia Elementary, but rising fifth-grade students could remain enrolled at their current school. In both scenarios, grandfathering does not apply to siblings.

Davies answered questions after her presentation.

One parent wanted to know if the portables at Catharine Blaine would remain after Magnolia Elementary opens.

“We plan to remove some, depending on how the transition goes,” Davies said. “But we do not want to remove all, or else it will not help open up space at the school.”

One parent noted many were concerned about space for middle school students after the boundary changes.

“It’s starting to look like there is not enough capacity,” the woman said. “What comes next for these kids?”

Davies said the district believes moving students to Magnolia Elementary will open enough space for middle school students at Catharine Blaine.

The Seattle Public Schools Board will review the scenarios at either the Dec. 19 or Jan. 9 meetings. The board is expected to take a vote in January.

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