Sunday, January 15, 2017

Seattle Schools This Week

No longer happening.

I'll have a fuller explanation in another post about the district but frankly, it's just not worth my time.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 Legislative Updates - Levy Cliff Edition

From Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page:

The bill, HB 1059, simply ensures districts don't have to lay off teachers and staff and cut millions this Spring, but delays it until full funding is supposed to occur.  That's all it does.

Every member marked R voted NOT TO DELAY THE LEVY CLIFF.

It squeaked by anyway, thank goodness.


Out of the Mouths of Students

I really enjoy walking the halls of any of our schools.  You never know what will be on a bulletin board or wall.   Roosevelt had this sign on the wall recently.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Would You Contribute to More Equity in Seattle Schools?

Charlie asked this question elsewhere:
I wonder how things would be different if there were an education fundraising group in Seattle that was less political and less in the pocket of the Chamber of Commerce than the Alliance for Education.

Would people contribute to it generously? What sort of grants could it make (or should it make)?
This is a question that comes up with some frequency around PTA fundraising which is inequitable in Seattle Schools. 

I'll first say this - bless each and every parent/grandparent/family member/community member who helps to raise money for any school.  You encourage the belief in public education (and I believe students remember this later on in life) and you strengthen public education with your support.

But yes, there are schools in communities who have children whose parents have more stable lives and are able to support their learning both before they start their K-12 education and after they start their K-12 education.  And, they have both the time and wherewithal to fundraise to support their child's school.  I will note that in some instances, the money raised for one school means more funds for another.

If parents at one school are paying for maintenance of their building or supplies for their building, that's money the district doesn't have to spend.  Theoretically, that's how it should work but I don't know if that's always so.

And, at least at this blog and at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page, there are parents and community members who want to try to make things more equitable for all schools.  Lend a helping hand if only on the theory that a rising tide lifts all boats.  (But many people do it for just for the good of children.)
Bellevue Public Schools enjoys the support of the Bellevue Schools Foundation.
We raise funds to improve student learning through district wide academic initiatives, curriculum material, training opportunities for teachers, and an array of programs that meet students' special needs. Our donors help bridge the gap between the basic funding provided by the State of Washington and what Bellevue students need to truly excel.
This sounds a lot like what the Operations Levy here in Seattle does.  They provide assistance mostly for district-wide initiatives (counting on PTAs to shore up individual schools which in Bellevue may be roughly equal but certainly isn't here in Seattle.)

I would like a foundation that is devoted solely to raising up schools, one by one, with as little direction as possible from business and more direct interaction with teachers, principals and students rather than senior management of JSCEE.  (Meaning, schools apply for grants on their own without the district's input which they do already.)

I'm wondering if people would support such a foundation.

Friday Open Thread

Superintendent Nyland, along with other superintendents throughout the region, laid out the problem with the levy cliff yesterday.  There's a good Q&A on the issue.
“This is a critical issue for our districts and for the 420,000 students we serve,” said John Welch, PSESD superintendent.  “The $228 million we could lose beginning in 2018 if the current levy lid is not extended translates into fewer teachers, bigger classrooms, and a lower quality educational experience for the students.
Meanwhile, over at the Washington Policy Center, it's all about breaking "a promise" to taxpayers to sunset this legislation.  They completely ignore the fact of the outcome of not extending it for a year AND the fact that the legislature has not completed McCleary.  That was a huge promise that has not been fulfilled.  Basically they are saying, "you districts knew this was coming and you already get a lot of money that you spend incorrectly so too bad."  

One issue the district might consider in all this boundary/SAP/school openings discussion - there are new charter schools opening next fall right in Seattle.   One is a middle school in the International District (eventually a 6-12.)  Another is a 6-12 school in West Seattle.  A third high school located in South Seattle is going to continue to expand to a full 9-12.  I have no doubt that people will continue enroll in these schools.

Now, of course, it is a bit interesting that, despite the fact that the last law didn't hold up in court and there was a lot of hair-pulling and chest-beating over how hard this was on the kids in those schools, they are going forward.  But if the Supreme Court decision brings forth the same result, no one can say they didn't know.

Governor Inslee has declared January 2017 to be School Board Recognition Month.  Thank you to all those who step up to serve in this mostly thankless job.

Something fun to let the kids know about; names for full moons like Lunar Wolves and Worms.

Another fun thing that might interest kids; someone is building a database for animal farts.  It's all science, you know.

A fun (and funny) video, maybe not to show the kids - might give them ideas, is a North Carolina principal who lets students know school won't be happening because of weather and then proceeds to have a Ferris Bueller day to himself at school.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cedar Park Info Meeting

Update: from North End Mom,

The Cedar Park Planning planning meeting announcement has been updated. Cedar Park will be opening as an Expeditionary Learning Focus School! I don't recall Expeditionary Learning being discussed as one of the possible options during the meeting back in December???

The new announcement:

Cedar Park will be opening in the fall of 2017 as an Expeditionary Learning focus school. Come learn more about Expeditionary Learning and what it has to offer ( Let’s start planning for the opening of an AMAZING school. Bring your best ideas about how we can start Cedar Park with a BANG! We can do it!

Who: We need YOU All parents, guardians and interested community members are welcome!

Fascinating how this school just morphs from thing to thing.

end of update 

Given that even opening Cedar Park seems to be in doubt (at least if you were at the budget part of yesterday's Work Session and saw not Cedar Park opening listed as a possible cost savings.)

What even more curious is the day and time.  It's January 20th at 12:30 pm.  A Friday in the middle of the day.  Curious.

From SPS:

Come learn about the latest updates for Cedar Park Elementary.  Let’s start planning for the opening of an AMAZING school.  Bring your best ideas about how we can start Cedar Park with a BANG! We can do it!
Who: We need YOU All parents, guardians and interested community members are welcome!
Date: January 20, 2017
Time: 12:30-2:00
Where: Cedar Park Elementary staff room (13224 37th Ave NE)

Watching the Work Sessions

Here is a link to last night's Work Sessions on the budget for 2017-2018 and the SAP Transition Plan for 2017-2018. 

I note that the microphone for Geary/Burke did not appear to work as well as the others so if the sound from them is different, that's why. 

Friday Memo of January 6, 2017

The Friday Memo for January 6 doesn't have much in the way of news, but it does form a pretty nice round up of the news from the past month.

For example:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Student Assignment Transition Plan Work Session

Update 2: It looks like Amendment one is NOT going to pass (grandfathering).  Director Burke is going on a very long-winded explanation about why he (appears) to be voting no.  Blanford and Geary are saying it's equity versus equality and it's not fair to the kids who will be going to RESMS.

Geary is trying to make a point that all the parents in the room that want grandfathering will be there for their kids, no matter what.  (Not sure that particular lands well with these parents.)

Pinkham was worried people would think he would support this amendment in order for there to be more room for Licton Springs.

Final vote 2-4-1 with Peters and Patu in favor and Pinkham abstaining because of the pending vote on room for Licton Springs.

Live Blogging from Budget Meeting

Update at 6:29 pm : yes, the Work Session on the Budget is still going.  Staff wants a consensus tonight (which is not what the Board expected.). I think there is a big squeeze on the Board but they are pushing back.

Consensus seems to be this is no way to run a district (and that not opening the Cedar Park is a non-starter for at least three directors.)

End of update

Everyone is at the table but Director Patu.  Lots of staff who seem surprisingly cheery for a serious budget meeting.

Superintendent is saying this is a manufactured crisis and on the Legislature.  Director Geary and other staffers were in Olympia this morning, visiting Seattle delegation.  "The stalemate continues" there.

Note: this is being broadcast on Channel 26 and live-streamed at district website.

There will be a press conference with 35 school districts tomorrow about levy cliff.

OSPI To Dismiss Itself From Dorn Lawsuit

Update from the Columbian:

But former superintendent Randy Dorn, who originally filed the lawsuit in July in King County Superior Court, said he plans to continue the legal action as a private citizen.

Read more here:

end of update

From OSPI Communications and Superintendent Reykdal:
On this, my first day as Washington state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, I have directed agency lawyers to take immediate steps to dismiss the Superintendent of Public Instruction from the Dorn vs. Washington lawsuit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Budget Presentation for Work Session

Seattle Schools' staff will be making a budget presentation at tomorrow's Work Session about the 2017-2018 budget.

The presentation for the budget portion of the Work Session has several interesting points/questions:

Among the "guiding questions" on page 3 are these ones:
- Are people more essential than other non-staff items in eliminating opportunity gaps? 

- While reducing the budget, how can we continue our goal to address opportunity gaps?
 - Because we will need to reduce school funding, how should we identify schools that need the most help/funding? 

So it looks as though the district will fund schools differently (see pages 20-21.)