Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Resolution on Wednesday Board Meeting Agenda

The link to the resolution being offered at Wednesday's Special Board meeting is now posted. It is sobering reading. From the resolution:

"This projected shortfall and the negative information from the state is coupled with a number of audits that have advised that we have significant excess capacity vis a vis our student enrollment. For example, the recent State Auditor’s Report on the ten largest districts in Washington State reported that Seattle Public Schools has 18% excess capacity, compared to other districts in the state. In addition, both the Curriculum Audit commissioned by Phi Delta Kappa and the Capital Department review commissioned by the Council of Great City Schools indicated that our capacity exceeds our enrollment and recommended closing buildings. And as far back as 1990, the Washington State House of Representatives evaluation of Seattle Public Schools recommended reducing the per pupil maintenance cost of the district by reducing the number of facilities in operation.

The Board does not take the action of building closures lightly. We recognize the hard work teachers, principals, administrators, and families put in to build communities that support students. But the negative impact to all schools and programs we face if the Board does not take this kind of action will be far more painful to our students and families than the closing of facilities.

The case to do this work is compelling: the combination of a large projected budget shortfall and the number of outside voices calling for geographically balancing our capacity to our enrollment means this issue can be postponed no longer. The real savings of closure are long-term and structural. It is incumbent upon the School Board to lead a multi-year staged process that will move us toward educating all children with the most effective use of resources."

There is no good news in this effort. It is going to be painful but yes, it has to be done.

Plain and simple - the district needs to be operating buildings in proportion to the number of students in the district.

Plain and simple - the district cannot keeping transporting students all over the city. In the case of programs that are offered only in one location, they need to find central locations for those programs to minimize transportation time and costs.

I do want to note that in this resolution and the Options for Capacity Planning document (also to be discussed at the meeting), both mention the State Auditor's report saying the district has excess capacity. However, neither document mentions that the State Auditor's report also says the district has too many administrators.

That's troubling for two reasons. One, it's a bit of cherry-picking to use State Auditor's report when it works for what the district wants to do. But on the subject of too many administrators, they are strangely silent. Two, why is there no mention at all of other efforts to find other ways to cut back other than closure and consolidation?

26 comments:

Megan Mc said...

This is from the KUOW website:

School Closures: This Time, Faster
10/28/2008

The Seattle School board will take up the possibility of closing schools on Wednesday [Tomorrow]. A spokesperson for the district says if schools are selected for closure, it would happen a lot faster than last time. KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher has more.

LAST TIME WAS 2006. RAJ MANHAS WAS SUPERINTENDENT. HE WAS UNABLE TO PUSH THROUGH ALL THE CLOSURES HE WANTED. THE PROCESS INCLUDED COMMITTEES AND THE PUBLIC. MEETINGS WERE TENSE. EVEN VIOLENT. AFTERWARDS, MANHAS RESIGNED.

SCHOOL DISTRICT SPOKESMAN DAVID TUCKER SAYS IT'S TOO EARLY TO KNOW WHETHER SCHOOLS WOULD CLOSE BEFORE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR. BUT HE SAYS THAT'S ON THE TABLE. BECAUSE THE DISTRICT NEEDS TO DEAL WITH A BUDGET GAP OF 24–MILLION DOLLARS BY THEN.

THE LAST ROUND OF CLOSURES WAS POLITICIZED AROUND RACE AND POVERTY. SCHOOLS TARGETED FOR CLOSURE IN THE WEALTHIER, WHITER NORTH END WERE EVENTUALLY SPARED, EXCEPT FOR ONE. THE REST OF THE CLOSED SCHOOLS WERE IN SOUTH SEATTLE, HOME TO MORE PEOPLE OF COLOR, AND FAMILIES LIVING BELOW FEDERAL POVERTY GUIDELINES.

BUT TUCKER SAYS THE SOUTH END IS STILL WHERE MOST OF THE DISTRICT'S EMPTY SEATS ARE. WHILE THE DISTRICT AND THE BOARD ARE TALKING ABOUT CLOSURES, THEY'RE ALSO TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO OPEN UP SEATS IN THE NORTH END, WHERE THEY'RE IN DEMAND.

classof75 said...

I want to attend the meeting tonight- but was trying to do some research and for the life of me I cannot find the district link to each high school and where students actually attend who live in that high schools region.
Does anyone know what I am talking about? I think I had the link from a recent post on this blog.

thank you.

seattle citizen said...

here ya go, classof75:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/maps_data.html

Denise Gonzalez-Walker said...

Class of 75--I think the data you're talking about can be found on the district's new assignment plan page, under "Maps and Data"

Here is a link:

http://tinyurl.com/5p5ny2

seattle citizen said...

oops, here's the full link:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/maps_data/index.dxml

seattle citizen said...

bah! one more time

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/maps_data/index.dxml

hmm, it's chopping it off, try again

seattle citizen said...

hmm...

add

ata/index.dxml

to end of my link!

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/

newassign/maps_data/index.dxml

MomAsks.. said...

Melissa, IS there a link to the State Audit you refer to? I would like to read it if possible.

seattle citizen said...

here's a lnk to the audit (if the whole link stays in this comment!)

http://www.sao.wa.gov/Reports/AuditReports/AuditReportFiles/ar1000013.pdf

seattle citizen said...

augghh! why does it DO that?!

here 'tis again, in two parts:

http://www.sao.wa.gov/Reports/
AuditReports/AuditReportFiles/ar1000013.pdf

or add this to end of the first link that got cut off:

portFiles/ar1000013.pdf

Charlie Mas said...

The best way to include a link in a comment is to use the HTML tags.

Here is a link to the maps and data page.

Here is a link to the State auditor's report.

dan dempsey said...

Melissa is correct about:
it's a bit of cherry-picking to use State Auditor's report when it works for what the district wants to do. But on the subject of too many administrators, they are strangely silent.

Look at the Curriculum audit from Phi Delta Kappa, it had a huge number of recommendations almost all of which the Staff is totally silent about.

Pay for a huge number of reports. Cherry pick from each of them what you like and then ignore the rest of the reported items.

{Now I understand why decision making seldom produces improvement in Large Urban School Districts ... folks just do what they want to do ... logic ? data ? ... rarely.}

SolvayGirl1972 said...

So...after reviewing the maps in Charlie's links, I'm very perplexed. How do all of these students from miles away from popular schools with huge wait lists (Garfield, Ballard & Roosevelt) get in when distance is the second tiebreaker? Do that many kids have siblings in the schools of their out-of-neighborhood choice?
When you look at the maps it's amazing to see how spread out all of the populations are--even kids who could attend Roosevelt are at Rainier Beach (I assume for one of the superior sports programs).
Some of these kids look like they have at least an hour+ on metro to get to/from school. That's crazy!

Adhoc said...

Most of the kids that attend the popular schools but don't live in their immediate neighborhoods are kids attending the schools for a specific service or program, special ed, autism, ELL, and many others.

katie said...

Also the demographic data for high school reflects current total enrollment and does not reflect incoming enrollment. It is much more challenging to get into a crowded school at the entering grade. However, at the non-entering grade spots are available based on attrition so the distance factor becomes much more random.

Also by high school, many students have two households. One household could be walking distance to a school and the other could be on the exact opposite side of town. The data is not set up to reflect multiple addresses.

In other words, demographics can change a lot in 4 years so the pictures in the charts is just one slice of time.

Maureen said...

There are about 1500 HS age kids within the walk zone of Garfield but GHS distributed 1200 Metro bus passes last month (as per Principal Ted Howard's report to the APP advisory committee). There are about 1600 kids at GHS. Why are only 400/1500=27% of SPS-enrolled kids within the walk zone going to this popular, successful school?

Adhoc said...

I think a lot of families in the Central Cluster choose private schools for their children, in fact I think that area has the second highest population of private school families in the district. There are about 9 private schools within a mile or two of Garfield (Bush, Valley, SAS, Giddens School, St Therese, Epiphany, Seattle Girls school, Lake WA girls school, Holy Names, Northwest)).

Garfield is a great school but it does have a reputation of serving some or districts most challenging students. Some parents don't want that environment for their kids.

Then add the neighborhood violence like last nights deadly shooting of 2 teens at the Garfield Community Center's teen Halloween party and the Garfield HS student athletes who went on a robbery and assault spree last year, and you find some fearful parents.

There is a large Ethiopian and muslim population in this area and many of those students may go to special ELL programs.

That could explain some of it??

Maureen said...

Im sorry, I was unclear, there are about 1500 HS age kids ATTENDING PUBLIC SCHOOL within walking distance of Garfield. (Based on those cool maps on the Assignment Plan page referenced at the top of this thread) IF only kids outside the walk zone were issued bus passes and IF the 1200 number attributed to Ted Howard in the APP Advisory Committee minutes is correct, then only about 27% of the kids who could walk to Garfield are actually going there. I think that seems strange.

Garfield does have a bilingual program, so I don't think that's it. It may have something to do with on time enrollment--if the families aren't on the ball they miss the deadline and then are assigned to distant schools since GHS fills with APP/sibs and other on time applicants?

Has anyone heard how far away the farthest non-APP, non-sibling freshman admitted this year lived away from Garfield?

Ellen said...

We live in the Garfield reference area, can walk to school, and can give a couple of examples of why our neighbors choose not to go to Garfield.

One, they are already in private school through 8th grade, and choose to continue in the private system. The quality of public K-5s in the central cluster are all over the map, and not everyone can go to the school of their choice. There are an abundance of private schools in this area to pick up where the SPS is failing. The quality of public middle school in the central cluster is abysmal, unless you can test into spectrum or APP, forcing more families into private schools.

Two, there is a rigor at Garfield that does not suit every student. We know kids from the central cluster who have been able to get into Roosevelt for drama. Siblings have followed. We know kids who haven't thrived at Garfield as freshman and transferred to both Nova and Summit for the rest of high school. We know kids that start out at Hale because the smaller school environment suits their learning style. These are families who could walk to Garfield.

We have a child who is walking to Garfield and thriving in the honors and AP classes, though was not in the APP program. We were happy with our K-8 and didn't feel the need to attempt to move him prior to Garfield. Choice is alive and well here in the central cluster.

We do not know anyone in the central cluster who does not choose Garfield because of the neighborhood it is in. We live in this neighborhood. The shootings last night were only evidence of what seems like escalating gang violence that we notice in our central neighborhoods. More grafitti, more property crimes, more stories of Garfield kids being targets. This is a problem far bigger than Garfield High School, not associated with Garfield students, but happening around them. But it is our neighborhood, where we live, and if it is the right school for our kids, they are very proud to be Bulldogs.

Maureen said...

Ellen has summarized many of the reasons why High School choice should be retained (expanded?) under the new assignment plan.

Charlie Mas said...

I think it bears repeating that the new assignment plan - as currently contemplated - will not, in any way, diminish school choice.

Families will still be free to choose a school other than their reference area school for their child. And, if there is a seat available for the student based on the number of open seats and the student's position following the tie-breakers, the student will be assigned to that school. That is no different than it is today.

The biggest change contemplated in the assignment plan is to guarantee access to the reference area schools. This should not be misunderstood as a mandatory assignment to the reference area school. I don't know how that mistake could be made, but it appears fairly common.

Of course, if every student in the Garfield reference area accepts the guaranteed assignment to Garfield, that will reduce the number of seats available for students from outside the reference area, but that's pretty much how it is now. If a lot of students who live close to Garfield choose the school it reduces the number of seats available for students who live further away.

By the way, about 360 of the 1484 students who live closer to Garfield than any other comprehensive high school attend an alternative program. That's 24% of them.

In answer to the question about the furthest non-APP, non-sibling student, I believe that last year the distance tie-breaker for Garfield had a radius of 4.5 miles. It reached across the Montlake Cut, but left a dead zone at Sand Point.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

If, like me, you live in the Southend, your "choices" are pretty slim. I only know one non-APP student from our area who got assigned to Garfield for this school year. Right now Franklin or Sealth are the "best" choices and both schools pale in comparison to the three jewels in SPS's crown: Garfield, Ballard and Roosevelt.

Some in our neighborhood are opting for out-of-district to Mercer Island. We're even looking at Renton High School--a closer commute than Sealth.

Adhoc said...

Solvaygirl,

Besides Franklin, Cleveland and RBHS in the south end, you can choose Sealth, Nathan Hale or Ingraham. They all have plenty of space for south end students.

And this year Ballard only has 2 or 3 kids on the WL for 9th grade so that is a viable option for you too.

And don't forget about Center School, Nova and Summit. Non traditional, but definately viable options.

From what I see, the only options that you really don't have are Garfield and Roosevelt. Otherwise every other HS in the district is open to you. Not so bad.

Just for the record, I live in the North East cluster and have the very same choices as you have. I can get into every school in the district except Garfield or Roosevelt (we live 3 miles from Roosevelt which is out of the 2.4 mile range in which they accepted kids this year).

So really, you don't have it so bad. Or at least no worse than anyone else.

reader said...

... and lots of kids are choosing the Vashon Island School District, which has won many awards. Every day, 100 kids from Seattle get on the ferry, and are picked up by the Vashon Island School District's school buses at the ferry terminal. Evidently, they get a great education, without all the problems of SPS.

TechyMom said...

solveygirl, you might also look at Mercer Island High. Depending on where you live the commute may be shorter than Ingraham or Hale. (Not that people *should* have to go out of district, or even out of neighborhood, but it is an option for you to consider in the short term).

spsmom said...

Sounds like Solvaygirl does have a lot of choices, but only finds three schools acceptable - none of which are in her neighborhood, and two of which are on the complete opposite side of town (Ballard and NE Seattle).

So Solvaygirl if NONE of the other many schools you CAN choose from work, then move. You have to make choices in life, and you have to set priorities. Either your neighborhood is your priority, or the school your child attends is your priority. You have to decide that and act accordingly. Or choose one of the other 7 or 8 SPS high school options that are available to you.