Tuesday, October 14, 2008

North Capacity Plan(s) to Be Unveiled at School Board Meeting

Capacity plans for the NE/NW/QA/Magnolia will be presented at the School Board meeting tomorrow (it's from 6-9 p.m. at the headquarters). I am unable to attend. Here is the link to the agenda item. From it:

"A Board work session is scheduled for October 29, after which it is anticipated that – based on the work session as well as on public input – a revised motion will be developed to reflect specific recommendations on capacity issues. This will allow for additional Board consideration and public input prior to the November 12 meeting at which action on these issues is scheduled."

They are considering making tweaks to the student assignment plan this year based on items that would sunset for the upcoming school year. They include:

• Extend provisions for dual waiting lists at John Stanford International School to other dual language/international school programs.
• Eliminate the distance tiebreaker for The Center School and for South Lake Alternative School.
• Move the waiting list deadline from October 31 to September 30.
• Establish provisions for processing applications of twins/multiples.

Eliminating the distance tiebreaker for The Center School is an interesting one because normally only alternative schools have no distance tiebreaker. While The Center School is considered a "non-traditional" school, it is NOT alternative according to the district. But, from the agenda:

"Since tiebreakers for The Center School would then match the tiebreakers used for processing applications to Nova, the coding change does not require additional research and is easy to implement."

So The Center School would be processed like Nova, an alternative school. In fact, they had the distance tie-breaker precisely so more QA/Magnolia kids would have first crack at it because they have no comprehensive high school in their area. I know Center School wanted this because they wanted more diversity but it also means that QA/Magnolia kids lose out. I wonder if this is because they intend to create a high school for them in the next year or so.

There appear to be other recommendations such as giving dual-cluster status to Olympic Hills and B.F. Day so that kids outside the cluster could get transportation to them - I don't think many parents will be interested in this option..

Also on the agenda:

- an update on the SE Initiative by Carla Santorno, CAO

- voting to approve almost $700,000 for a review of all buildings for the BTA levy. They said at a BTA levy meeting that this would create a database but the language in the agenda says "Provide the District an update to the existing 2006 data base on the existing condition of our school facilities and the academic adequacy of said facilities."
It also says:
"Provide a more transparent process for public understanding and participation in the capital levy planning process."
Well, it might be more transparent for the next round of levies but certainly not for this one as the public nomination period for buildings will be over before this is finished.

-the Board will also be voting on its Legislative agenda which is:

The 2009 proposed agenda is focused on three areas:
• Support of the basic education funding task force recommendations
• Support for increased funding in core operating and capital areas
• Support of the Core 24 high school proposal

Interesting that they are supporting the Core 24 high school proposal without discussion with parents. I don't know if I missed these discussions but I wasn't aware they were soliciting opinions on this subject.

17 comments:

MomAsks.. said...

What is the current tiebreaker at Nova?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Since The Center School is #1 on our list I'm pleased to see we'll have a better chance of getting in. Having attended the Open House last year, I got the impression that they did not get a huge group from QA/Magnolia. Though it is their "official" school it really is an alternative high school experience, primarily because it is so small (only 300 kids), no real sports, band, etc. Personally, I believe it should be considered alternative and that the Distrcit SHOULD create a traditional high school for the QA/Magnolia area.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The only tiebreakers for Nova are (1) sibling and (2)lottery. That is what The Center School would go to as well if the Board votes it in.

I agree with you Solvaygirl that QA/Magnolia should have a traditional high school in their area. But, there is nowhere to put it in QA/Magnolia. They may try to create one at Lincoln after Hamilton is done (it is not in their area but I spoke to some people from that area at the Board Capacity work session and they said it would be okay).

But if they did that then I would have to question the existence of The Center School. It's a fine little school but because we lease the space, it costs us much more money than a space the district owns. Plus, if Seattle Center is redone someday, the City did indicate they would welcome Center School but I wonder if the District would end up having to kick in money and we would still be leasing.

It might make sense to someday rebuild Nova's building and co-house Nova and Center School. They could share a facility and have access to Garfield's facility as well. Nova is proud of its historic building but, to me, it is one of the creakiest buildings in the district (and their boiler is 100+ years old and still works!).

TwinMom2003 said...

I read the twin/multiples provision -- woo hoo!

My husband attended the QA/Magnolia capacity meeting. He estimated 200-300 were in attendance.

I attended the Roosevelt capacity meeting and while the district says that about 250 were present I know first hand many more hundred were present.

In reading through the capacity options for the board meeting, the district is saying that about 500 people in total showed up for both meetings?

Why would they intentionally understate how many people were actually present at these community meetings?

TwinMom2003 said...

to add to my previous post...

I have been reading this blog for just a few months so would count myself a novice.

That said, a couple of other things really bothered me about the document posted for capacity for Wednesday's board meeting.

1. They posted this really late, past the time that people can sign up to testify at this weeks board meeting.

2. Specifically for the NE (as that is where I live.) The major portion of the student population lives in the south of the cluster. The big surge of students coming in, are I believe, families like ours that intentionally moved to this area to attend a neighborhood school.

Not to deride John Rogers - but the district seemed to make space available for all comers for this school -- but as the majority of students reside in the south of the cluster and wanted a neighborhood school -- it was not a popular option to head north.

In reading the options for the NE Cluster, housing an International School at the Summit site was listed as the fourth option?

Clearly, if the district wants to attract students from where they reside (near frankly, flippin' excellent schools) to an area away from their community - it will have to be something that will read to parents, "Attend this school and your childs future success is guaranteed." "This will be worth a commute and attending school away from friends, neighbors, and community."

Just making space available in the Cluster, as with options 1, 2, and 3, will not do it.

Adhoc said...

I agree with twin mom, and said the same thing on a thread on this subject not so long ago. She's right, the schools in the south are excellent, and families will need some incentive to travel north. Without incentive why would these families send their kids on a bus away from their stellar school, their neighborhood and their friends? If the district does use the Jane Adamms building for a K-8 they better make it a very attractive program, or they will not solve their problem, and may make it worse. The 6-8 portion of the new k-8 school might be easier to fill as many families that live north of 110th don't get into Eckstein, and will welcome a new neighborhood middle school. In addition the small size of the middle school will attract some families that are not happy with Eckstein's 1250 kid population.

snaffles said...

Twinmom,
Just in case you check back before the Board Meeting, if there are less than 20 people, you can comment...sign up when you get there.

I have a friend who has a 4year old with a 2 1/2 year old sibling, should she be trying to get them signed up for schools? They live on QA and have not been in the area very long.

This signing up for schools is totally foreign to her. A small town problem, only one school that you go too, the one in town. Perhaps small towns are smarter than we think?

Adhoc said...

Shoreline, a mid size district handles school enrollment the same way as small towns. A couple of years ago I went to Kellogg MS to ask how to enroll my son, and find out if they had space for us as we don't live in Shoreline, we live in Seattle. I went with pen and paper, expecting a long list of school tour dates, enrollment deadlines, checklist of paperwork to fill out, etc. No need for any of it- they told me they did indeed have space, and would welcome my son, and I walked out of the office that day with an enrolled child. I knew as I walked out the door that day that my son had a space at the school. Later, they requested shot records, and I did have to go through some paper work later so that I could transfer the state funding that follows children from the Seattle School district to Shoreline, but that was it!!! Viola. I know it's partly because they don't have choice, but it's also partly common sense.

Compare that to touring 10 schools in Seattle, going to the enrollment center and listing your top schools in priority order, and then waiting a couple of months for any response. Then when you get your response it may not be one of the schools that was high on your priority list, and in fact it may not even be a school that made your list. And now you have very very limited options to change that assignment because every good school is full. You are pretty much stuck with what you get. Why is it so complicated, and stressful? I hope the new assignment plan addresses this.

TwinMom2003 said...

Snaffles - thanks for the info. on signing up to testify. I wasn't aware you could sign up the night of, if space was available. However, looks like for tonight all 20 slots are full.

For your friend on QA -- if she can find time I'd suggest she attend one of the public meetings on the new assignment plan. Looks like they want to implement that for 2010-2011 enrollment at the earliest. That might coincide with when her 4 yr. old would start? Then she could give her preference -- attend a neighborhood school, or keep the current choice options. Although, with the overcrowding, really not much choice at the moment.

Charlie Mas said...

It continues to astonish me that the staff can blithely dismiss the use of certain buildings because the buildings are in poor repair.

That is not a reason not to use the buildings; that is a reason to repair them.

No building, whether in use or surplus, should be allowed to fall into such disrepair that it is unusable. To do so is to essentially surrender the asset. What good is an uninhabitable building?

This is the direct result of years of poor planning, poor practice, and poor policy. For years now, the District has followed a policy of allowing buildings to fall into disrepair to the point that they have only two choices: either a multi-million dollar top to bottom rebuild or closure. And the determination is purely poltical.

TechyMom said...

Does anyone have an update on what happened at the meeting?

TwinMom2003 said...

I watched on tv until a break at 8:30 - can't speak to what happened after that.

As far as capacity, the district did not present any recommendations other than the options they had posted just prior to the meeting, http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/08-09agendas/101508agenda/capacitypresentation.pdf

There was a big contingent from Summit that testified. It was mainly students who spoke, and Cheryl Chow even broke in at one point to ask someone else from Summit to give up their time so all of the students could speak. Their testimony seemed very powerful to me, more so I believe as it was coming from children - pulling on what I perceive to be the heartstrings of the district - inclusion, diversity, equality.

Another testimony that stood out for me was from someone from the NE Cluster Coalition who said that principals in the NE Cluster had been contacted by facilities earlier in the week to talk about converting libraries, art rooms, before and after school care spaces, and special ed. classes to general ed. classrooms. As part of that scenario Special Ed. students would be tutored in the hallways.

Another presentation that stood out for me was from Tracy Libros. She presented enrollment numbers and the district has an uptick in enrollment in all areas of the district for the first time in many years. But, then she put forth that the district is questioning whether this enrollment surge is merely a bubble. I did not understand that change in thought. Tracy was at the Roosevelt capacity meeting when 80 - 85% of the crowd raised their hand to say they had young children at home that would be of Kindergarten age within the next five years.

I myself have a son who was born here in Seattle in 2006. Per Swedish Hospitals, 2006 was a record year of births for them. I am not understanding the jag back to the capacity problems in the NE being a temporary bubble.

h2o girl said...

TwinMom, thanks so much for the update!

Charlie Mas said...

So now come the folks from Summit and they say that this whole issue has totally blindsided them. They didn't see any of this coming.

They also say that they cannot leave Jane Addams and they cannot share it. They absolutely need two dance theaters for their program. This, while other schools are converting every available space into classrooms - giving up art rooms, music rooms, and libraries.

If Summit were to voluntarily accept relocation to John Marshall, I think they could be assured of all of the money needed to renovate that building to meet their specifications.

Count 'em up. Count the kids. Count the classrooms. There are just too many of one and too little of the other. The only solution is to bring more classrooms online. The only space available is at Jane Addams.

There is no other solution. If Summit doesn't jump, they will be pushed.

In addition, the District needs to expand elementary schools in the Northeast. In addition, the District needs to re-open a closed school such as Sand Point.

The poor condition of the buildings is not an excuse not to use them; it is a reason to renovate them. If the buildings are unusable, then why does the District even have them? Don't they have them precisely for situations like this? It makes no sense and is of no benefit for the District to have unusable buildings.

Maureen said...

Isn't much of the excess demand in the south part of the NE cluster? IF Summit is really so entrenched (we have heard from a random parent or two--not an official reaction--so we don't really know), why not open a K-8 at Marshall and redraw the NE and NW boundaries a bit (or make the new K-8 available to both clusters). Why is Addams the holy grail of K-8 sites? It's pretty far away from Bryant/Laurelhurst and close to the relatively underused Rogers.

In reality, I bet Summit would move if they were given some incentive, and they should be. It is a big pain to move and they risk losing up to half their population. They should get something out of it. Marshall is no prize--except for the location. (Now the AAA is a nice building from what I hear...but far from Summit's current population majority...and the political fallout from repurposing it might reflect badly on Summit). I hope someone is talking to Summit's Site Council and trying to work out a deal.

Maureen said...

Actually, I wasn't at the Board meeting--so maybe there was an official Summit response? If so, was it really "no way" or was it "make us an offer?"

TechyMom said...

Madrona is also nice building, under-enrolled and fairly central. Garfield and Nova are nearby, and perhaps some facilities sharing could occur? Same for Leschi.

Perhaps there would be less fallout from re-purposing one of those?