Wednesday, May 24, 2017

District Picks Medsker as Lincoln Principal

From Superintendent Nyland:

Dear Families:

Ruth Medsker has been selected as the Principal of Lincoln High School, reopening in the fall of 2019 in the northwest region of the district. She will begin her new position in July 2017, as she leads the development of the first comprehensive high school to open in the district since Nathan Hale in 1963. The complexities of opening a high school including development of a master schedule, hiring over eighty staff, athletic coordination, and building strong elective programs like arts and music is a significant body of work. With proactive planning, we are investing in smoother transitions for students who may have to move schools and will be putting into place a rich high school experience for all Lincoln High Schools students.

Tonight's Work Session May Provoke Debate

Kellie LaRue has posted the agenda for tonight's Work Session which includes a section on the 2017-2018 budget.  Naturally, that includes the issue of staffing based on enrollment.  That then brings in the issue of waitlists.  (I also note the inclusion in the agenda of a waiver for 2017 graduates that some readers had asked about.)

Page 15 of the agenda has this question (that I've asked before):

What to do with Last Minute New Revenue?

When the state budget is passed, AND IF we receive more revenue than anticipated, what should be done with that increase?

  • SMART Goal funding
  • More for equity High Needs schools 
  • Fall enrollment/split classroom adjustments 
  • Middle School math 
  • Central admin restoration 
  • Other
Recommendations will be part of the June budget work session. 

Let the Board know your thoughts on spending of any new revenue before the June budget work session.

It is also noted that the district is still waiting for action from the City Council on the funding for two tiers for transportation next year.

Page 11 starts the discussion of waitlists.  Items to consider:

Our goal this year is to notify schools of any adjustments by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 16, 2017. 
This is almost to the day the same time as last year.
Waitlist moves are predicated on staffing, not just space capacity 

Chief Sealth's Self-Examination

Fascinating story from KUOW this morning on teachers and administrators efforts to find out one thing lead to the discovery of another.
Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle had a big problem. As one of the most racially diverse in the Seattle school district, Chief Sealth was known for the disproportionate number of students of color being disciplined and suspended.

Teachers and administrators at the school realized they needed to make some changes.

So they turned to Filiberto Barajas-Lopez, an education professor at the University of Washington. He went into the school to survey staff and students. He began by looking at discipline rates but found there was much more going on.
He says one thing that really stood out was the teachers appeared to be supporting students who were more academically inclined and were generally white.
"Students felt that the response was different and varied and it was problematic. And I think that presents some kind of tension between teacher and students and it creates, to a certain degree, some distrust about whether they feel comfortable asking teachers for support."
What's interesting is the teachers say they did not know this was happening in their classrooms.  And, I would surmise that there could be more than racism to blame for why students don't reach out to some teachers.

There could be cultural issues - is that racism or lack of PD for teachers to make sure they don't alienate some students.

It could be that a student tried once and the teacher was busy/having a bad day and then the student decided the teacher wasn't going to help him/her.

What I really liked was that the school did not try to figure this out on their own and sought outside help.  To me, that's the best and most neutral way to find answers.  (I'll have more to say about this when I write my thread on the Garfield PTSA's meeting with a review of the Honors for All program.)
Barajas-Lopez also said the study results are positive for the students too.

"It's an opportunity to provide students with a platform to voice," he said. "We make a lot of decisions and choices about youth and what's best for them and rarely do we include them in this process. We're hoping that these are important lessons, not only for Chief Sealth, but also for other schools in the district."
It would be interesting to do a survey a year from now and see what students say then.

I requested the survey and the results from the district.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Bombing a concert you know will likely have a majority of tweens and teens?  There's real men for you.  A very sad day in Manchester, England. 

About tomorrow's Board Work Session which will include the budget for next year, the public can attended but there is no public testimony or comment.  However, since staffing will likely be discussed (which would bring in the subject of waitlists), you certainly should write the board (spsdirectors@seattleschools.org or schoolboard@seattleschools.org, the former will reach just the Board and the latter will include senior management including the Superintendent). 

The Board needs your input as backup for any ideas/concerns that they may want to offer as pushback if staff cannot justify its planning.  For example, the issue of waitlists is not addressed in the manner staff is speaking of them in the SAP Transition Plan which is what they are currently working under. 

Moving news from Texas via the Houston Chronicle:
"In the Houston ISD, nearly half of this year's highest-ranking students once struggled to speak English, making them among the largest groups of non-native English speakers to be named valedictorians and salutatorians by the district since 2007."
Congrats to B.F. Day Elementary on their 125th year in service to children in Seattle.  They are the oldest, continually operating school in Seattle.

What's on your mind?

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's 80 Degrees and Here It Comes...

I'm not sure I really see much wrong with this dress code but then, I'm old.








School Board Candidate Updates

Three candidates have withdrawn from the races.

Two are in District 4:  Jeff Jones and Anh M. Nguyen.  Neither showed for the 36th Dems interviews.  (Also not interviewed there but still in the race; Herbert J. Camet, Jr. and Sean Champagne.)

One is in District 5: Michelle Sarju.  I'm a little disappointed about this one; she sounded like an intriguing candidate.  


Seattle Schools This Week

First, the date for Director Burke's next Lincoln High meeting has been changed.  From Director Burke:
The next Lincoln community meeting will be held Monday, June 5th from 6:30-8:30+ at the Hamilton Middle School Commons.  There will not be a meeting on May 23rd as originally planned, due to multiple scheduling and space availability conflicts.  I apologize in advance for the late notice on this change and any conflicts as I tried to fit this event in with the myriad of year-end occasions.

Meeting topics will include:
·         Introduction of Ruth Medsker, Lincoln High Principal starting June 1st of this year.
·         Updates on high school boundaries – HS Boundary Task Force process and work-to-date
·         Answers to frequently asked questions from prior meetings, or process/timelines for still-open questions
·         Facility design updates
·         Dedicated time for student Q&A.  Bring your existing HS student even if they aren’t Lincoln-bound to share their suggestions.
·         Opportunity for small-group networking to launch PTSA, Music/Arts, Athletics community groups.

For families from JSIS, it has been brought to my attention that this meeting exactly conflicts with the JSIS Ice Cream Social, so I will be hanging out a bit later to 9:00 or until they kick us out of the building if anybody wants to join this meeting a bit later.

I am looking forward to seeing folks, especially more students, on June 5th.  If you can’t attend this time, no worries - we will be having more get-togethers later this year.
SPS This Week (partial)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Want to Hear From Some of the School Board Candidates?

Those folks at the 36th Dems* don't let any grass grow under their feet.  Here's the link to their interviews with candidates for many races.

For Seattle School Board they include:

Just Say No, Governor

The Seattle Times issues the throwdown to the Legislature. I'm down with that - no new Special Session.

I'm calling the Governor's office tomorrow and asking him to not schedule one.

Let the Supreme Court take the reins now. Enough is enough.
The Supreme Court should get more directly involved in the state’s necessary effort to reform the school-funding system.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Summer Camp Opportunity for Autistic Youth

Come Explore the Possibilities! Theater of Possibility ("TOP") helps young people give voice to their ideas and dreams! Through fun and zany theater games, improv exercises and role-playing, we explore the dynamics of friendship, family and school. Along the way, we shape powerful emotions and ideas into moving, profound and funny works of theater.

Theater of Possibility for youth with autism spectrum and other ability differences will offer a two-week half-day summer camp for ages 8-13 at University Heights Center, 5031 University Way NE, Seattle, 98103, M-F, 3-6 PM, July 31-August 11. Cost $600.

Dear Readers

Once again, blog business.

Friday, May 19, 2017