Open Enrollment for choosing a school in Seattle Public Schools closes on March 6th, and school tours wrapped up last week. My family is choosing a middle school for our daughter. We toured Hamilton, where my son went, Hazel Wolf K-8 (formely Jane Addams), Licton Springs K-8 (formerly Pinehurst), and Lake Washington Girls’ Middle School (private).
Lake Washington Girls’ Middle School had the best presentation- they had all the girls in the school either give tours or get up during the presentation and do show and tell for the range of stuff they do in the school. The public school presentations were joyless in comparison and sounded more like they were pitching to the Gates Foundation instead of to neighbors with 11 year olds.
All the schools offer variations on the trendy STEM / STEAM / E-STEM project based learning scheme. I’ll leave Lake Washington Girls Middle School out of the rest of this article as it’s in Capitol Hill and not part of the open enrollment decision, but the presentation alone helped justify the big private school $$$.
In terms of location, Hamilton is smack in the middle of Wallingford and is everybody’s default school. Salmon Bay is the K-8 alternative in our transportation zone so you get bus service, even though it is located in Ballard. Hazel Wolf and Licton springs are in our area for now because their buildings are being renovated, but Hazel Wolf relocates from Green Lake to the Northgate area after next year and Licton Springs relocates from Lincoln to north of Green Lake the year after that. Here’s a link to transportation zones:
Here’s the striking differences in terms of size and makeup of the student body in each school:
|Demographics||Licton Springs||Hazel Wolf||Salmon Bay||Hamilton|
|Students in grades 6, 7, 8||66||193||374||974|
|Average class size||21||24||27||30|
|Demographics- Free / Reduced Lunch||53%||36%||11%||11%|
|Exceeding typical growth- Reading||58%||57%||52%||55%|
|Exceeding typical growth- Math||70%||63%||45%||61%|
And for those that like data, here some interesting numbers from the teacher, parent, and student surveys (if you follow the link, Hazel Wolf is listed as Jane Addams, and Licton Springs is listed as Pinehurst):
|2013 to 2014 staff survey results||Licton Springs||Hazel Wolf||Salmon Bay||Hamilton|
|Teachers- Healthy community||97.10%||92.70%||87.90%||85.00%|
|Teachers- School Safety||88.30%||91.40%||86.50%||74.30%|
|Teachers- Learning environment||89.20%||89.20%||92.60%||85.60%|
|Teachers- School Professional Community||81.90%||77.10%||48.90%||53.90%|
|Teachers- Helping kids that struggle (MTSS)||79.60%||74.00%||48.20%||55.10%|
|Teacher Survey Average||87.22%||84.88%||72.82%||70.78%|
|Family- Healthy community||91.40%||86.90%||88.00%||76.70%|
|Family- School Effectiveness||87.50%||77.30%||64.70%||72.50%|
|Family- School-Family Leadership Opportunities||71.90%||68.90%||65.50%||48.80%|
|Family- School-Family Partnerships||82.10%||73.60%||62.40%||64.50%|
|Family- Welcoming/Culturally Responsive||81.00%||72.10%||71.20%||58.20%|
|Family Survey Average||82.78%||75.76%||70.36%||64.14%|
|Students- Healthy community||67.30%||75.90%||69.80%|
|Students- Belonging and Identity||72.70%||73.90%||75.80%|
|Students- Learning Environment||45.80%||49.50%||58.50%|
|Student Survey Average||61.93%||66.43%||68.03%|
Hamilton is huge and offers a great diversity of curriculum, particularly in music and language (Spanish and Japanese). We know it from our son’s experience, and it’s a good place for a kid to be if they are able to manage their time and pursue all the opportunities the school offers. It’s a bad place to be if your child is struggling or might get lost in the shuffle, as the school has undergone a ton of changes in curriculum and administration over the last few years and at this point it’s really just a collection of some great teachers and some bad teachers, not a cohesive operation.
In terms of the K-8 Schools, Hazel Wolf looked best to us. They have a very good and stable administration, diversity, and seem to have great results from their students. While smaller and alternative, Hazel Wolf is still traditional in the sense that they focus on fundamentals and science in particular. All the survey data for their school is also solid.
Salmon Bay was well written up here in Wallyhood a couple years back and focuses on hands on learning. It’s a very desirable school in terms of everyone wanting to be there, but has had administrative turnover and seems to struggle with math and community satisfaction. Licton Springs is just too small for us and doesn’t offer curriculum choices like a foreign language.
Anyhow, that’s our wrap up. Our likely sort given our child is Hazel Wolf, then Salmon Bay, then Hamilton. Anyone else going through the same choices and have something to share?