New classes added to Lafayette, Schmitz Park
To address an unusually high number of students requesting to attend both Schmitz Park and Lafayette elementary, the schools will be adding additional classes this fall.
Schmitz Park will add a third kindergarten class and Lafayette will add a third class at the kindergarten and first grade levels.
According to Seattle School District spokesperson David Tucker, enrollment needs have increased this year, forcing the district to provide more seats in West Seattle schools.
Parents at both schools are concerned that the schools will not have enough space or administrative resources for the added classrooms.
"I was surprised like everyone else,” said Geoff Patterson, a parent with two children at Lafayette Elementary. “It struck me as odd that one of the biggest elementary would be getting two more classrooms."
Patterson described Lafayette as having “good special harmony” and worried that moving certain programs, especially the school’s autism program could disrupt that.
He also worried that office staff could become overwhelmed as well as the school’s librarian—a position that was cut to half time in the spring.
“One concern (I have) is lack of information from the district about what the plan is for these two classes,” said Gina Formea, Lafayette’s PTSA president. “Will they go through the remaining grades at Lafayette and if so, will the teachers follow each class or will Lafayette be getting another set of new kindergarten and first graders next year?”
But Tucker explained that district staff has completed a functional classroom analysis of all schools and only plans to add classes where there is room to do so.
“We’re going to make sure we place students into schools where the facilities meet all their needs,” said Tucker.
Parents are also wondering if the added classes will make it more difficult for schools to transition to the new student assignment plan next fall.
While Tucker said that is a legitimate concern, he also explained that because the district is still operating under the “choice” assignment system, and that students cannot be assigned to schools based the future system until next year.