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    Mercer International Middle School Capacity

    School Board Approves Changes to Mercer Attendance Area Boundaries

    Impact to families living in Hawthorne and Kimball attendance areas

    Issue

    Mercer International Middle School has more students than can fit in the school.

    Throughout the fall and winter, we asked families to provide their input about potential changes to relieve enrollment overcrowding at Mercer. Thank you to everyone who responded. The video and information on the background on this issue and a summary of the feedback received.

     

    Latest News

    On Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, the Seattle School Board approved changes to the attendance area boundaries for Mercer International Middle School, On Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, the Seattle School Board approved changes to the attendance area boundaries for Mercer International Middle School, Aki Kurose Middle School, and Washington Middle School, beginning with the 2021-22 school year.

    image of a map-see PDF map

    The approved scenario changes the Mercer attendance area boundary so that the Kimball elementary feeder area attends Washington Middle School and the Hawthorne elementary feeder area attends Aki Kurose Middle School.

    Students currently attending Mercer will be automatically grandfathered and remain enrolled at Mercer through the end of grade 8.

    Current 5th grade students at Hawthorne and Kimball, who have older siblings enrolled at Mercer (in 2020-21 and 2021-22) must apply for a grandfathered assignment to Mercer during Open Enrollment for School Choice for 2021-22, this February. These students must submit a school choice form, with their older sibling’s student ID number included, during Open Enrollment, between Feb. 1 and Feb. 26, 2021.

    Current 4th grade students at Hawthorne and Kimball, who have older siblings enrolled at Mercer (in 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23) may apply for a grandfathered assignment to Mercer during Open Enrollment next February 

    All students who do not have siblings currently enrolled at Mercer in sixth and seventh grade, will be assigned to their new attendance area middle school (either Aki Kurose or Washington) when they enter grade 6.

    The Assignment Lookup Tool and Address Lookup Tools will be updated to reflect these assignments by Friday, Feb. 5, 2021.

    Transportation will be provided for two years for all students in the Kimball feeder area who attend Washington Middle School if the district is providing to/from transportation for students beyond what is mandated by law.

    How this change was decided

    The Seattle School Board considers and votes on any boundary changes. District staff work develop potential options to first discuss with school leaders, the broader school community, and then to take to the School Board.

    Guiding principles for boundary changes were set by the Seattle School Board in 2013 but were not ranked. In 2020 district staff — aligned with the current strategic plan — prioritized racial equity, then proximity, program continuity, and fiscal impact, when developing boundary change scenarios. District staff reviewed aggregated demographic characteristics of southeast Seattle students potentially impacted by changes, and discussed student benefit, unintended consequences, and mitigations with school leaders.

    Six elementary schools were feeding to Mercer: Beacon Hill, Dearborn Park, Hawthorne, Kimball, Maple, and Rising Star.

    Shifting the Rising Star feeder area out of Mercer was not recommended due to its Equity Tier 1 status and its recent elementary attendance area boundary changes with Maple and Wing Luke. Shifting the Maple feeder area out of Mercer was not recommended due to its recent elementary attendance area boundary changes with Rising Star and Dearborn Park, and its proximity to Mercer — all Maple residents live within the Mercer walk zone. Mercer is within the Maple attendance area and Maple does not border another middle school.

    Removing Rising Star and Maple from further consideration left four schools for potential boundary change scenario development (Beacon Hill, Dearborn Park, Hawthorne, and Kimball). District staff did not consider shifting portions of multiple feeder areas to retain the neighborhood peer group of current fifth grade students.

    All Kimball feeder area residents reside within the Mercer walk zone, but some reside within the Washington walk zone as well. No other feeder areas are entirely within the Mercer walk zone. Some Hawthorne feeder area residents are within the Mercer walk zone; some are within the Aki Kurose walk zone.

    The Beacon Hill area has the smallest enrollment count at approximately 144 students in grades 6-8, the other schools had enrollment counts as follows: Hawthorne (170), Dearborn Park (189), and Kimball (221).

    Beacon Hill was considered but no scenarios impacting Beacon Hill were presented. If a dual language school was to be impacted, Dearborn Park made more sense for the long-term goals of the Dual Language pathway and its size. Dearborn Park has the highest percentage of students of color and English Learners and the 2nd highest free and reduced-price lunch population.

    Two potential scenarios were proposed to the Operations Committee of the Whole of the Seattle School Board.

    On Jan. 6, voting members of the Committee moved to introduce Scenario A.1 (impacting the Kimball and Hawthorne feeder areas) on Wednesday, Jan. 13, with action taken on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Recordings of School Board meetings are available here
     

    What Happens Next 

    Feb. 1–Feb. 26, 2021: Open Enrollment for School Choice/School Choice Applications Available Online
    Open Enrollment is the best time to apply to change your student’s school for next fall. However, choice assignments are not guaranteed, and we do not expect to have any choice seats available at Mercer during the 2021-22 school year. Learn more about Open Enrollment.

    Resources

    Frequently Asked Questions 

     Updated Jan. 28 2021