Seattle Schools – Admit by Address

The Seattle Times reports that Seattle is returning to a neighborhood-based system. Given it has been about 30 years since Seattle abandoned that system, this is big news for everyone who lives in Seattle, particularly people who are buying homes in Seattle.

According to the article, this decision passed by unanimous vote last night at 11 p.m.

If we’re going to use our limited resources efficiently, this is a big opportunity to reduce transportation costs, balance out enrollment so that hopefully the vast majority of our schools have enough students in them to be successful,” said board president Michael DeBell.

When people are looking for homes to buy, having a geographically based school system is very important. Not knowing which school your child is likely to attend adds a layer of uncertainty to an already uncertain process. I’m sure this decision will be controversial, but I have to agree that when an entire community is vested in the success of the “neighborhood” school…the system will improve via more outside support. Also, it will be easier to target the schools and communities that need more support than the local community can itself provide.

I went to the school around the corner from my house. I could even see inside the school from my yard. My children always attended the school nearest my home, and I used “which school?” as the basis for my home buying decision. Parents and children from the neighborhood around the school volunteered to help with seasonal maintenance projects and had a vested interest in the school being a safe and attractive neighborhood component.

On all counts, I think this is a good decision. Still I expect it will have as many unhappy constituents as it has happy supporters, until the system is in place long enough for people to forget the three decade old “used to be”.