Friday, July 27, 2007

Open Thread

As requested, an open thread post. Fire away, rant, question, give advice or speak your mind on any education-related topic.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

why doesn't beth post on this blog anymore?

Anonymous said...

She mentioned in an earlier entry that she was travelling?? Perhaps, she is still out of town.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Also, Beth is pursuing a post-grad degree and I think a lot of her energies are going towards that endeavor.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't the school district closing a south end high school? As reported there are about 1000 open seats between Cleveland and Rainier Beach.

Scared for Seattle's Children said...

Why do all the good leaders leave Seattle Schools and only the mediocre remain? The newest chief financial officer only stayed a few months. He must have figured out quickly the dysfunction of the district. Count all the leaders that have left or were forced out in the last 2 years (finance, operations, curriculum and instruction) and have been quickly hired by other institutions. Doesn't it make you wonder what is really happening with the board? ed. directors? assistant supts.?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's the news item on that last topic:

"Seattle Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Art Jarvis is leaving to take over as interim superintendent of Tacoma's school district.

Jarvis took over Seattle's finances in January after a career as superintendent of the South Whidbey and Enumclaw school districts. He starts in Tacoma next week.

Seattle Public Schools faced a $35 million financial crisis in 2001, but that was largely resolved when Jarvis took the finance-director job. He oversaw Seattle's $500 million 2007-08 budget, which the School Board approved July 11.

Jarvis began his career as a junior-high and high-school teacher"

First, he likely wanted a superintendent position (that happened to the other superintendent candidate - the superintendent job opened up in his district in Philadelphia) and took it.

Second, well, yes, I think there's a lot of dysfunction but I have to put my faith in Dr. G-J and Carla Santorno to turn it around.

This last post does give me pause in thinking about how to vote for school board. We turned over the majority last time and even though it was what I wanted at the time, I'm not sure it was the best thing. If we do the same thing in November, we will end up with another year of a learning curve with 4 new members.

Why isn't the district closing one high school? Because the population is out there to fill those high schools. If many of the kids from the south end who are going up to north end schools, they would likely, under a new assignment plan, stay in the south end.

Anonymous said...

Art Jarvis wouldn't have stayed on at SPS that long, he retired as the Enumclaw Sup before coming to SPS as an Interirm CFO. I bet he was working at SPS as a retire/rehire employee, which would have limited how long he could have worked.

He took the Tacoma job as a interim, and given that he is a former Sup, it is probably a great transitional job and he may be able to do it without having to un-retire.

It is probably darn hard for a retired Sup to take a subordinate job (even temporarily), so it makes sense that he steped in to fill a job that became open during the last bit of the former Sup's tenure, in the middle of the Sup Search, and now can be filed (with a non-interim person) a person of this Sup's choosing.

Teacher said...

Where to begin...
The question about seats in the south end is a good one. The original demographics, as shared by Supt. Manjas, indicated that there were as many as 1000 open seats between those two schools, with the population that lived in the area and that would counted those students who chose to attend north end schools.

Also, we must remove the 4 current members of the "activist" board, they have done nothing but worsen the situation. At least 4 new member would be a good redeeming start. It seems that the real leaders of Seattle are beginning to fight for the community.

There is already talk that the new administration made too many changes in hurrying to throw out the old leaders and to bring in new. Several trusted people were shown the door because of the politics. This is what happens every 3 or 4 years. Then everyone starts over with the "Let's believe they will do well! Staff would like to see these experts start something and then keep to it.

The teachers of this district are working just as hard as any in other district's, the downtown administration (including the current academic officer, her assistant supt., ed. directors, curriculum director) carry the responsibility blame for this mess and they are still there.

Anonymous said...

"Teacher" is correct in that the real change needs to happen with the downtown ed. directors and their managers. They are the people that affect the schools. The board loves to talk and vote but they only hear what these people present.

Does the district administration survey teacher and staff to check work place morale and faith in their leaders?

I also read about the 1000 open seats in the south end high schools in the original demographic information (the 1st proposal Raj pulled back).

Friend of a Teacher said...

The community has no idea how bad the "educational side" of downtown is. My teacher friend told me that the educational coaches are in turmoil. At one point they were all fired and then that was rescinded because the union jumped in.

Also, she said the general teaching corp does not trust downtown because of how the quick math adoption decision was handled (sounds like it was a done deal and not what the math coaches wanted). There had been a teacher focus group that did not recommend Everyday Math. In fact, for most SPS teachers, except North Beach, this will be a step backwards in math instruction.

Anonymous said...

Scared for Seattle's Children-

I am guessing from you post that you are either new to SPS or don't know that much about the org structure. There are no Asst. Sups. Carla Santorno let a few people go when she came on in "curriculmn and instruction," but the people she let go needed to be shown the door. Some people retired (not all that uncommon when you have a massive change in adminstration), but on the whole, the Learning and Teaching staff (i.e. the academic side of the house of SPS) has been stable with the exception of Phil Brockman being the interim HS director. He is a principal at heart, and I am sure that Dr. G-J will fill the job with a person she and the CAO want.

As for the Ops side, much needed housecleaning and leaving has been done. Mark Green was part of an old guard, and while being a very nice man, was at the heart of some very dumb decisions (the first closure proposal in 2005). Having looked at Fred Stephens' credials, he is FAR more qualified to be a COO than Mark Green was. It was the former CFO who got the financial house in order, Art Jarvis was a temporary CFO who came out of retirement to fill a gap created.

The "Ed coaches" are super minor leagure jobs. I can't claim to know what has been going on at that level, but they have no power. The people with educational decision making power are the CAO, her assistant CAO Michelle Corker, and the Ed Directors, all of whom are stable save the high school director, who is someone doing two jobs until a proper ed director can be hired.

Who should be worried are the poor building adminstrators (principals and APs). Listened to Dr. G-J on NPR, and I think that we wil see a much needed house cleaning of some pretty more people.

I think things are finally looking up around SPS land.

Anonymous said...

"how the quick math adoption decision was handled"

Hmmm, I am thinking your teacher friend is not really plugged in to what has been happening, because anyone who has even watched a Board meeting on TV knows that it took two years for this decision to be made.

Anonymous said...

"how the quick math adoption decision was handled"

Hmmm, I am thinking your teacher friend is not really plugged in to what has been happening, because anyone who has even watched a Board meeting on TV knows that it took two years for this decision to be made.

Anonymous said...

By "poor" building adminstrators, I meant underperforming, not that on the whole the building adminstrators should be given sympathy. That is the level where the most damage is done, and there are a lot of people who need to go.

Annie said...

Beth posted from Scotland, said she was there for the summer. I think Melissa is doing a great job of keeping the board up!

Anonymous said...

I was on the Math Adoption Committee. The long timeline for the math adoption was because of the CAO. The recommendation for the adoption was given to the CAO when she came. She sat on it and waited, then announced a completely different decision than the recommendation.

Mind numbing how someone can find hope is that!

ultimate fan said...

Re math adoption and anon 10:18's post - what was the recommendation of the Math Adoption Committee?

|>or0T|-|y said...

Is the name L3RN a sign that the district is cool?

Roy Smith said...

Melissa, thanks for the open thread!

In response to the questions about closing a south end high school, I wonder if it might make sense to close either Rainier Beach or Cleveland for a year or two, reinvent it with an improved focus on academics and with heavy support to start out with at the district level, and reopen it, perhaps under a new name?

Anonymous said...

Like TAF or something like that???

Melissa Westbrook said...

What purpose would closing a school for a year and then reopening be versus putting resources into it and marketing it heavily in the spring? I'm not leaning either way; I'm just wondering about the usefulness of closing one for a short period of time.

The TAF situation was handling poorly on both sides at RBHS but there were efforts made to get TAF into Cleveland and Cheryl Chow was uncooperative and unhelpful and the TAF people, obviously, went elsewhere. I do believe if the Board/staff reached out to TAF and a perspective school location, it could happen.

I've said this before that you need people willing to champion a cause. That generally means senior management or Board members. John Stanford believed in dual language education and put his considerable muscle and charisma behind it. (Of course, you can also get a poor outcome namely, the Center School which was championed by Don Nielson.) The point is that things can change but you need a voice to do it.

Roy Smith said...

Melissa, the potential advantage of closing a building for a period of time may be to erase, at least partially, a legacy of poor performance and worse public perceptions. Essentially, it is an effort to make a comprehensive break from the past. I'm not really arguing for it - I'm more asking the question of whether some of the schools are in such bad shape that a drastic break from the past like this would be a good idea? I don't know the answer to the question, but I think its worth asking.

The reinvention could perhaps be something like TAF, but I would advocate closing the building first, and then figuring out AFTER it is closed how it should be reinvented. Also, figuring out how it should be reinvented needs to be a very open process that engages the community to the maximum degree possible.

If the plans are made ahead of time, and particularly if the plans are made without adequate community involvement, then the appearance is that a school community is being kicked out in order to make room for some special interest. To a certain degree, I think this is the impression people got with the TAF proposal. (It was certainly the impression I got of how people reacted to it.) I have no idea whether this impression was justified - I didn't pay very much attention to the details of the controversy.

I guess the questions really boil down to:

"When you go to reinvent a school:
a) Can it be done best by making the existing school evolve into something new, or is it better to shut the old failing school down and make a deliberate break from the past?
b) What does the community want a reinvented school to be, anyway? Is there any kind of consensus?"

It is impractical (not to mention expensive) to attempt to make every school be all things to all people, but without a clear vision and consensus on point B, I think that we may end up trying to do just that, no matter what other details surround the process. Then, when the (reinvented) school is not all things to all people, there will be the predictable outpouring of frustration and anger. I would much rather see SPS make realistic promises that it delivers on than have SPS make unrealistic promises that can only end in tears.

With that said, how focused is the Southeast Initiative? Do the details still need to be decided? Are the goals clear and focused? Is it clear how achievement or non-achievement of these goals will be measured, and how non-achievement, if it occurs, will be dealt with? All I have seen is the executive summary which lays out a framework that this can all happen in, but doesn't seem to have much in the way of details.

Is the Southeast Initiative enough, or do some of the schools need a more dramatic break from the past and their troubled legacies?

Deidre said...

"What purpose would closing a school for a year and then reopening be versus putting resources into it and marketing it heavily in the spring? I'm not leaning either way"

Personally, I would never send my kid to a failing/under enrolled school that the district simply promised resources to in the fall. I just wouldn't. I don't trust them to bring the goods. I use "when, then" a lot in life. When you clean your room, then you can go to the park. When the school is acceptable, then I will explore it for my children.

If the school were closed and then re-opened a year later as a new Program, Academy, etc , and the district had already put the work and $$$$ into the school, I would be much more likely to check it out.

It happened at under-enrolled Latona, when it was reinvented as the John Stanford International school.

Roy Smith said...

I ran across this quote in another blog in the comments on this post and I thought it intriguing. I think it is self-evident that anybody reading the Seattle Public Schools blog believes that education is valuable; the question is, is this belief still held in the larger community?

Communities are having to pass laws against dropping out of school with higher and higher age limits and more and more punitive measures, but it appears to be to no avail. Kids no longer see any value in education, largely because they see their parents, older siblings or younger aunts, uncles and cousins who went to college and are being crushed under loads of student loans - or worse, their jobs still don't pay enough to raise their standard of living any higher than the people they know who work at walmart or burger king.

This problem is fast creeping up the middle class ladder - it's no longer confined to kids in poor neighborhoods. Whereas the poor and middle classes used to believe a college education was a "ticket to success," now they don't. And if a college degree has no value, they think to themselves, then why get a high school diploma - after all, it's only good for getting into college.


Unfortunately, this is nothing more than hearsay for me at the moment - the author doesn't provide any references or sources, and I am not aware of any myself.

Kathleen Brose said...

Melissa:

Why are you so "hard" on The Center School? Have any of your kids attended the school? You seem to criticize its existence every chance you get.

The school may have morfed into something different than we thought it would be, but it has been a great place of learning for hundreds of students, if not more. It kept many public school
9th graders in the system, rather than leaving for private schools, including my daughter. She had some wonderful teachers there and thrived in the drama program. Mr. Murphy was her advisor and was a godsend for her success.

With changes coming to the Seattle Center, and if another comprehensive high school is eventually created for these two neighborhoods, it may not be there in the future. However, it has been a great help to the Queen Anne and Magnolia kids who didn't have access to Ballard, Roosevelt or Nathan Hale in the large demographic bubble years.

Charlie Mas said...

Art Jarvis
I'd like to know the story on Art Jarvis' departure. He seemed an odd choice in the first place. Was he hired in an interim role? Was he expected to be long-term but found something better? Was he expected to be long-term but was unhappy at SPS? Did the new Superintendent want him replaced? What is the story there?

Ed Directors
It doesn't help to replace Ed Directors if the new ones are just as corrupt as the old ones. And by "corrupt" I mean basing their decisions on internal political considerations rather than the best interests of the students, data, or an objectively applied set of criteria.

Activist Board
I'm actually pretty pleased with the performance of the Board. What is it that people wanted the Board to do that they haven't done?

This Board has made some tough decisions. In the last four years the District's finances have improved, the Board has moved forward on cutting transportation costs by moving high school students to METRO and by closing schools. They will do move more high school students to METRO and cut more transportation costs with the new student assignment plan. They have successfully completed a national search for a new superintendent. These are all things that the previous Board could not do.

The Board has really pushed reform, unfortunately they got a lot of push back from the Superintendent who was not onboard with any of the reform effort. The Board is continuing to work on tough decisions including program placement, student assignment, and culture change.

Some people complain that the Board has allowed rowdy or disruptive behavior at their meetings. Is this the measure of their competence? If I went to a City Council meeting and behaved badly would that reflect poorly on the competence of the City Council? A mayor was attacked at public appearance, does that make him an incompetent mayor?

Roy Smith said...

Kathleen, it doesn't seem to me that Melissa has been hard on the Center School, except maybe to be critical of the fact that it doesn't seem to very well fill the needs of the community (QA and Magnolia) that it was intended to serve. I say this not from any personal knowledge, but from observation of the continual demand for a comprehensive high school for Queen Anne and Magnolia by families that live in that area.

I have no reason to believe that the Center School does not serve its students well. However, it apparently isn't the "neighborhood high school" that many in the neighborhood have been clamoring for. The "poor outcome" named by Melissa seems to be a school that is a poor fit for the community it was built for, not a badly performing school.

As I understand it, the impetus for the creation of the Center School was not demand for another alternative high school program, it was demand for (presumably traditional comprehensive) high school capacity in Queen Anne and Magnolia. That is not what the Center School has delivered. A school can be great, but if it doesn't meet the needs or desires of the community, then it isn't a solution.

Kathleen Brose said...

Roy:

Thank you for the clarification. You are correct that it wasn't the solution that we were looking for. However, we are thankful for its existence and recognize that it has let some steam out in the pressure cooker assignment system.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ms. Brose, I don't have anything against Center School. But it was created to solve a problem and clearly, from your lawsuit, it didn't. My high school, Roosevelt, is very lucky to have Center's principal, Brian Vance, coming in to guide our school. I do know people who are very happy at Center. But that's not the point.

You say it relieved the pressure cooker but you have still never clearly answered why there was no visible public outcry when Center was created from QA/Magnolia parents over it not being a solution. So a school was created as a bandaid and now what? I still find it sad that we are the time and place that we are with a school that is not what people wanted and the district having a heavy debt from the lawsuit and QA/Magnolia parents are STILL not happy. It's frustrating.

Kathleen Brose said...

Melissa:

It is frustrating and has been for several years that we still do not have a comprehensive high school for Queen Anne and Magnolia. There was a public outcry within our communities that The Center School was not comprehensive. I guess you didn't hear it. The parents that wanted sports, music and more electives for their kids left the District for private schools, if they couldn't get their kids into Ballard, Garfield and Roosevelt. I don't know how many went to Hale but a few have gone to Ingraham for the IB program. Also, a yellow school bus is provided up to Ingraham. I don't know how long that will last. Once that is gone, I expect to see a large drop off of kids going to Ingraham from Magnolia and Queen Anne without provided transportation since it is a 30 minute car drive for the parents or up to 2 hours on Metro,depending on connections.

One reason I keep writing on this blog is to keep letting people know that we still need a new high school in these communities. I know that District personnel look at this blog.

There is a new group of parents of younger children from these communities who are working on this issue now. They have spoken at school board meetings and have also discussed this issue with the candidates at various public forums.

I'm hoping that with a new superintendent and some potential new school board members, there might be some positive movement on this issue. This group has handled itself in a very professional manner and does not raise a rucus at school board meetings. The press hasn't paid much attention to them yet. This group has nothing to do with PICS. I still care about this issue because I care about public education in this city. I want parents to want to send their kids to public schools rather than private schools. "If you build it, they will come."

Our board member, Michael DeBell, is well aware of our wish for a new high school. We have been quite vocal with him.

I hope this answers some of your questions.

Annie said...

Ms. Brose-

Where do you think the $100 millon plus to build a new high school (presuming one can be build on existing district property or that the district can do a land swap with the City or County to get land) will come from? EXACTLY how many students are you speaking of? I am wholy unisterested in the idea that this much money unless you can provide data to support that there are 1,200-1,500 high school students floating out in Magnolia and Queen Anne that cannot be accomidated easily elsewhere.

On a side note, I see that your attorney have yet to seek the million plus they were talking about from the district. Friends who work at DWT tell me that tons of letters have come into the firm pointing out what a PR disaster trying to take money out of the school system as firm profit would be. As the client, have you had a change of heart about this, particularly as you are on this board asking the public (and district staff specifically) to agree to shell out a whole lot more money to grant your "wish"?

Anonymous said...

How about merging Cleveland and RBHS, into one comprehensive High school and perhaps closing The Center school. Use that savings to build a comprehensive HS for QA and Magnolia students, instead of spending money to yellow bus them all over the city, including out to Ingraham. I am not from QA or Magnolia but recognize that all students deserve a neighborhood, comprehensive HS. Anyone who thinks otherwise should challenge their views. How far off track have we gotten???

Anonymous said...

I agree that a merger of RB and Cleveland (into the new Cleveland building) is a option that the District has to consider. But, given the small size of the current RB staff, there is very little cost savings to be realized when compared to the cost of building a new high school. You would save on one principal salary (90k-110K, DOE), two AP salaries (140 Kish), but not all that much (save maybe secretarial and custodial support). There is likely little value in the RB land as compared with other SPS owened properties, so you can't bank on turning a profit by selling the land once the school is closed.

Closing the Center School saves on rent (100K a year), but SPS has invested several million into upgrading the Center House (dumb idea).

Presuming that the new bulding absorbs the Center School staff, you are still needing to hire a ton of teachers, more counselors and admintrators, which eats up all costs saved in mergering RB & Cleveland.

All high school students are switching to Metro, so there is no "yellow bus" transportation savings netted by putting in a high school in the QA/Magnolia area.

Cost of building a new high school? At least 100 MILLION dollars. So, where is the money coming from, and exactly how many kids are going to be served that cannot be served elsewhere at lower cost?

Anonymous said...

The math adoption committee recommended TERC. Everyday Math was the second choice. Seattle Schools excels at getting the second choice. The math selection process had built trust with the teachers. The manager/director for Teaching and Learning was shown the door and a different choice was made. Although, Everyday Math may well work, what doesn't work is asking teachers for their input and then ignoring it.

Anonymous said...

The District will not close Beach or Cleveland because they are afraid. They are afraid of the outcry to save two schools with only 400 students each. Great leadership!

classof75 said...

I see a few groups not being served at all in SPS.
High school students from Queen anne/magnolia who aren't admitted to Ballard- students whose neighborhood schoool has been recently closed, students in south end whose high school doesn't provide equv education program with northend schools.


Now I don't really remember that far back- because the year they closed Lincoln and Queen Anne my daughter wasn't even born yet- but where were students then assigned for high school?

Anonymous said...

Tell me again how Ballard is in anyway closer to QA than Garfield (direct Metro bus ride, FYI)? Wouldn't many of these students be served just as well by giving them a slot at Garfield, which is only oversubscribed becasue it is the only APP site?

Charlie Mas said...

There is no need to close Cleveland or Beach because, believe it or not, there are more than enough students in Southeast Seattle to fill those schools IF the District can make the schools attractive enough to draw the students.

I reckon that the demand for a new high school to serve the Queen Anne and Magnolia neighborhoods would be closer to 800-1000 students than 1200-1500. Unless, of course, the school could draw students out of private schools. In that case it is hard to estimate the demand, but it might well reach 1200 or more.

What would it cost? There would be land acquisition costs and construction costs. The construction costs would probably be on a par with the costs of rebuilding a high school, about $70 million and could come from BEX III in place of rebuildiing Hale. The Hale project could be delayed. The school wouldn't need a sports field with grandstands as it could use Memorial Stadium.

The land acquisition costs could come from land sales. I some ideas about what properties could be sold, particularly if some programs are moved around and buildings re-purposed. There are some buildings in very choice locations that would bring some serious money, like in excess of $10 million.

When I think about the new school being located in South Lake Union I think of the new construction there. It's all office buildings. That's got me thinking about an urban school that looks like an office building.

Let's not overestimate how big a footprint the school would need. Why not build up? I would love to see an architecturally traditional high school located in Interbay, but the South Lake Union neighborhood would do, as would a few others. If it had the necessary open space, a gym, and a performance center, why couldn't the administrative and classroom parts of a high school look like an office building? There would have to be more stairs and elevators to accomodate the traffic between floors, but there is no law that says high schools can be only three stories tall.

Think of any moderately sized office building. How many people are in it during the day? How much parking does it have below grade? When land is expensive, it makes sense for commercial developers to build up. Wouldn't the same economics apply to public buildings?

I'm just spinning out an idea. That's what this thread is good for. I'm not sure about any of it, I'm just suggesting that we be open to the concept.

What would a block in South Lake Union or Cascade cost? What would it cost to put a bit of field, a gym, a performance center, and a seven- to ten-story building on the property? Would it be more or less than a more traditional layout at Interbay?

Anonymous said...

A lock on South Lake Union? Let's see, most of that area is owned by Vulcan or UW, who plans to use it for a future biotech campus. Can't imagine either are for sale, let alone at a cost the District could afford.

$70 million is on the low side, because very few remodels are knock down. Plus, thrown in construction interest, which is much higher when you consider that it would take the district several years to aquire, then get permits for, the building of a new school. I would venture that this is a $150 millon plus idea, and it would not only have to get through the SPS Board, the City would have to buy off via land use varriances and permits.

As for selling buildings, City also limits what the District can sell former school buildings for, and it has taken a long time to (a) close anything, and (b) none of those buildings are even slatted for sale yet. Look at the uproar that happened when the District even thought about selling the surplus property it already has: they now have to wait a year for tennants to try to put in an offer.

Reality? By the time financing were in place (way more than what is slated for Hale on BEX III, some of which you have to anticipate will be eaten up on other projects a la Garfield remodel), land purchased, building constructed, you are still ten years out before someting is built and paying $200 mill with construction interest.

$200 mill for 800 students (who are accomodiated elsewhere as it) with a hope to pull back in more? In a city that has a decreasing number of families with school age children? I am sorry, I think the vast majority of Seattle citizens (those whithout kids, let alone kids on Magnolia or QA) are finally going to put a foot down and not vote for that levy.

Anonymous said...

Here is a thought: do something with the John Marshall building once the programs leave next year.

With all of the talk of lack of space in the North end, which is really lack of space at Roosevelt and Hale, why is everyone ignoring that not only one, but two former high school buildings are already avialable in the north end? Why not remodel/repurpose the Marshall site? Marshall is really close to Roosevelt, and not all that far for QA/Magnolia familes (certainly no further than Ballard for many QA/downtownies). Remodling an existing building on already owned property seems like a much smarter idea than building a new building while you have several avialable.

Kathleen Brose said...

Regarding a new high school for Queen Anne and Magnolia: New doesn't necessarily mean brand new. Reconfiguring existing buildings makes more sense and is more cost effective.

Charlie Mass is on target about the numbers. I believe that a new school would attract students out of the private schools as well.

If the District wants to entice the private school kids back into the public schools, here is their chance. Many of these kids will bring their volunteering and fundraising parents with them.

Whether or not the District creates a new high school for Queen Anne/Magnolia, they know that they have to improve the academic quality of the undersubscribed high schools to attract more families to them.

Every student deserves access to an academically challenging high school, no matter what neighborhood they live in.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Brose,

Truly appreciate your willingness to participate in this blog. I can't imagine that these years have been easy given the lawsuit.

Can you please address the Davis Wright Tremaine "Pro Bono" fees? I and many others are having serious problems with the concept that it was "pro bono" until the decision is considered a victory. What sort of fee agreement did the group sign with DWT? Was it contingent, hourly, blended, costs only, etc.? How is it that one of Seattle's oldest and finest law firms can find itself sucked into this PR morass that casts all of its fine personnel in such a greedy light? I have no problem with someone making a fee - I have a problem with the seeming extraordinary misrepresentation of "pro bono" a concept that used to be considered quite honorable.

Have you and your group as the client been kept apprised of the fees - what exactly is the number? The media reports vary quite widely.

Does anyone know the briefing schedule? Who the attys are that will be defending this expected fee petition? Any chance of amicus as taxpayers to object to the mischaracterization?

Thank you.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's not forget that the District has some extraordinarily valuable property. Old Hay is right on top of Queen Anne; what is that property worth? What is the Magnolia school property worth? What is the M L King property worth? If the District could re-purpose Lowell as a neighborhood school, they could sell the Montlake property and what would that be worth?

I'd rather they didn't sell the John Marshall building, but if they did... Wow. And what about Wilson Pacific? They could get a tidy sum for that land.

Again, I'm not saying they should. In the spirit of the open thread, I'm just spinning out ideas. Dong a sort of uncensored brainstorming. I'm sure there would be a lot of challenges to this sort of thing. It is good to have them pointed out, but I wouldn't presume that they are insurmountable. I suspect that either Paul Allen or the University of Washington would be happy to have a school in the neighborhood. While they are the major landowners in the area they are not the only ones. The Seattle Times also owns property there. I wonder if the Seattle Times space might be available since their primary production operations aren't there any more. That wouldn't be a bad location.

Anonymous said...

Old Hay - site of SBOC

MLK- If sold for massive profit to developer or Bush school, community uproar like never heard before

Keep in mind that the District thought they had a good deal with sealing QA High School, and 30 years later, the option agreement bit and they lost a ton on money.
That may make them wary of selling off schools in growth areas (like Rainer View, if the claims are true, the Old Hay building)

Leah said...

Anon 5:35 AM-

I appreciate your questions, I would love for MS. Brose to answer.

I checked with the Federal District Court (they have a website called PACER that lets attorneys/paralegals/secretaries look up cases and filings online), DWT has not officially made the fee claim yet.

It looks like Mike Madden and the District's general counsel are still the attorneys for the district at this point.

As ultimately this is a business and integrity decision for DWT, I wrote thier managing partner as well as partner Gary Locke to ask them to make a better choice, and am encouraging anyone who feels the same to do so as well.

Ms. Brose typically answers questions, her avoidance to this makes it clear (to me at least) that she is avoiding the discussion. As people I respect (Brita) seem to believe that she is a person of princple, I can only hope that she disagrees with the greed at public expense her attorneys are displaying, and has taken the issue up with them in private. If not, she certainly has no business asking the district to spend tens of millions of dollars to grant her "wish" while at the same time allowing her attorneys to take millions of doallars in profit (DO NOT buy the "it will be used for more pro bono" line, because it will be reported as Harry's Korrel's profit, and shared as income, and we now know that DWT doesn't seem to do real pro bono work).

SPS grad said...

If I remember correctly (I was in high school in 1981 when the district closed Queen Anne), friends from QA went to Franklin as part of the mandantory busing plan. At that time, QA parents were told they would have access to Franklin "forever," and they put a lot of work into building up Franklin. However, when given the ability to choose schools, and after Ballard was rebuilt, many prefered to send their children closer to home, and Franklin became less diverse and less sought after. Franklin was actually a huge arts/drama school in the early 90s, if I recall, and had major remodels done on their building and their auditorium.

Regarding closing an under-performing school for a year, and then re-opening it, that was exactly what Hale principal Eric Benson suggested when Hale underwent its transformation. All the talk on this board about real or perceived differences between Hale and Roosevelt could use some historical perspective, which was that under the old busing plans Hale had become what even the staff referred to as a "thug" school, and was not the choice of nearby parents. Then-superin-tendent John Stanford told Benson "no," but that they could restrict enrollment as they began their academy structure, because, "no one wants to go there, anyway." Information on Hale's reform can be found at
http://www.nwrel.org/nwedu/2002f/t-win.html

This perspective might help in understanding why Hale has developed the way it has, and why there is resistance from staff and some families to the pressure to become "Roosevelt lite."

NE mom said...

"If not, she certainly has no business asking the district to spend tens of millions of dollars to grant her "wish""

Her wish??? She would have no personal gain in having a HS for QA/Magnolia kids. Her kids have already gone through the system.

Given her public notice right now, media, etc., I applaud her for advocating for what she believes in. Forgetting your displeasure with the DWT case, you must recognize that all kids do deserve a neighborhood, comprehensive HS.

Lets put aside our bitterness, and work toward a solution for these kids.

Leah said...

"Wish" is Ms. Brose's word, not mine. Look above.

Anonymous said...

What if we just wait for EMP to close, then put a comprehensive HS in there? We could even site the new skate park on the roof.

Next!

Annie said...

Hehehe

Anonymous said...

Re: Charlie's post and Art Jarvis-

Art was a superintendent who was bored with retirement.

He hired on at SPS in an interim CFP role as a retire/rehire. He is a good man who filled in for awhile, as it made no sense to hire a new COO on the watch of a short timer Sup on the way out.

As it is, the Ops side of the house is getting a much needed new start, with Fred Stephens serving as Interim COO, and I hope applying to be the COO going forward. Steve Nielson was fabulous, and SPS now needs to find an eqaully great CFO who is in for the long haul (i.e. not a retire/rehire).

Art Jarvis is the right fit for Tacoma, who got burned by a bad hire in thier last Sup (poor research by the Tacoma board, as thier last guy was bought out by two other districts) for right now, when they desperately need someone who has Sup experience to get them through to the point where they can try again with another search. I wish him well, Tacoma needs a steady hand to help reign in several years of upheaval that make SPS look like a cakewalk, not considering hat the SPS Board is considered to be a nightmare compared to all other WA School Board (no offense Dr. Butler-Wall, but you all are nortorious to those of us who are elsewhere in WA).

Roy Smith said...

An interesting article in the NYT: A Teacher Grows Disillusioned After a 'Fail' Becomes a 'Pass'

Charlie Mas said...

Hey, I was just looking at the District facilities map and I noticed that Seattle Public Schools already owns some land in Interbay. So they may not have to acquire as much as I would have otherwise believed, thus lowering the costs.

The sale of buildings, whether they be Old Hay or Magnolia or any other, would, of course, only be possible if any programs in those buildings were relocated.