It's been some time since we last covered what's going on at our by-many-beloved neighborhood elementary school, John J. McGilvra. Our last coverage, in fact, was in December when we reported that McGilvra had again been given the highest quality-education rating by the School District. It was just about this time last year, however, that we reported something that was quite controversial: the fact that the District had reneged on its ten-year-old agreement with McGilvra's PTA. That agreement had limited class size in the School in return for parental funding of special programs. We wondered what impact, if any, the District's decision had so far had on the School.
We had heard, anecdotally, that some parents who were concerned about larger class sizes had decided to remove their kids from the School or, in other cases, not to send their children to McGilvra in the first place. If this, indeed, has happened it's not something that is obvious to the School District. According to Enrollment Services Planning Manager Tracy Libros, McGilvra experienced an increase of almost 30 students year over year. The 2011-12 enrollment is 298, as compared to 269 students during the last school year. That represents an increase of five students, on average, per grade level (kindergarten included). It had been rumored that the District would be increasing the School's attendance-area boundaries for next year in order to further increase enrollment at McGilvra, but Libros reports that "there are no plans to change the assignment boundaries." This is not to say, however, that there will not be further increases in enrollment at McGilvra during the next school year, since it is not at what the District considers to be the School's capacity. Projected enrollment for McGilvra is, in fact, listed at 305 in the School District's official recommended budget for this school year.
Seattle Schools, incidentally, takes exception to the use of terms such as "abrogated" or "reneged" with regard to the action it took on what originally was a 20-year contract with the McGilvra PTA. In the opinion of the District, it simply exercised its right to pay the PTA $60,000 representing the discounted value of the school portables the parents had purchased for the School ten years earlier. That was an option provided for in the contract, so from Seattle Schools' point of view the contract was completed as agreed, neither rescinded nor cancelled. It was simply contractually terminated at the tenth year.
A potential impact of that termination is what it might portend for the continued private financial support of McGilvra by parents and friends of the School. So far, it appears that concerns were overblown. McGilvra's PTA just completed a very successful fundraising dinner and auction which, according to auction chair Shyla Wilcynski, was attended by over 300 guests and netted over $150,000 in proceeds for the School. She reports, in fact, that this year is the first in which ticket sales, sponsorships, and advertising for the event covered all costs.
|Big turnout for the 2012 McGilvra Auction|
So if the District's action last year is having a negative impact on McGilvra, the reaction is perhaps too subtle at this point to be noticed, at least with regard to community support. The whole issue of private fundraising for Seattle Public Schools, incidentally, was the subject of a front-page Seattle Times article earlier this year in which McGilvra's position as one of the top schools receiving private funding was highlighted. A related article the same day cited the determination by McGilvra's parents to continue raising funds, reporting that their efforts had already brought in $300,000 to the School "this year" (a pre-auction estimate).
There's more to this story--and we'll be following up with a later posting.