Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Discussing the Recommendations

I've moved the recommendations out from my earlier live blogging effort to keep this post shorter and easier to get to the comments section.

Also, the earlier district FAQ doc isn't working on their website at the link below right now, so I've uploaded it to my Google site here so you can view it, save it and send it to others.
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8:00 pm

Recommendations are now on district website at: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/faq.pdf.

Also check out the Capacity page for more information over the coming weeks as the district posts it.

Summary below:

BUILDING CLOSURES
Genesee Hill
Lowell
Mann
TT Minor
Pinehurst
Van Asselt
Old Hay (may be temporary depending upon enrollment)

RELOCATED PROGRAMS
Lowell APP to Hawthorne and Thurgood Marshall
NOVA to Meany
Pathfinder K-8 to Arbor Heights
SBOC to Meany
Summit K-12 to Rainier Beach
Thornton Creek (AE#2 to Jane Addams building and becomes a K-8)
TT Minor K-3 Montessori to Leschi
Thurgood Marshall EBOC to Bailey Gatzert
Van Asselt to AAA


NEW PROGRAMS
New K-5 at Decatur
Thornton Creek (AE#2) K-5 expands to K-8

DISCONTINUED PROGRAMS
African-American Academy
AS#1
Arbor Heights
Meany
TT Minor


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I'd recommend watching the West Seattle Blog for live blogging updates.

37 comments:

Priya said...

Re: "the APP cohort"

My daughter is currently a freshman at Garfield, having joined APP in the 7th grade. Her observation is that major friendship groups tend to be geographically clustered. Those children rode the same buses and grew up in the same neighborhood. I have seen this as she comes home talking about "the Ballard kids" and "the Montlake kids" who are all best friends in their respective geographic areas.

I believe the APP program could withstand such a split.

I'm sure there is a great gardening metaphor about splitting and new pots and such.

reader said...

Yeah but splitting it to 2 challenged south end schools seems like a bad idea, although obviously the program can withstand the split. It doesn't reduce transportation costs which is district priority. It doesn't provide access to advanced learning to more students (in a way that putting it in a school with spectrum might) Making APP available selectively was a recommendation. And, it's been tried before at Madrona... evidently quite unpopular.

TechyMom said...

My first impression... Not nearly as bad as I expected, at least for Central. Montlake survived, Summit found a home (though AAA would be a better home), and Thornton Creek will probably absorb some Summit students, so not as much pressure on TOPS as I expected, the Montessori survived, and I think it could help improve Leschi.

Lowell makes me sad. Lowell is a neat old historic building in an interesting, walkable urban neighborhood. I suppose it will make nice condos. Thurgood Marshall has always looked like a minimum-security prison to me, hovering over the edge of a freeway and coated in its soot. There's nothing nearby, and while it's not that much farther, I'd never walk there. It may be easier to maintain, and I do see that it is a good location for an all city draw. I just don't think I'd want to spend my days there, and I'm not sure I want my child to either. Maybe that's snooty of me. I don't know.

SE Mom said...

Can we have a separate post for Summit and Rainier Beach?

The programs are so different and why would you want two high schools (RB and Summit 9-12) on the same site? Also, Summit is all city draw and if moved it would be
anywhere but centrally located.

Is the real intent to kill off Summit? How does having Summit at RB benefit either school other than filling excess seats?

DKrashin said...

Lowell was a fine school. I have doubts about how the district is going to integrate APP kids into the two problem schools they've designated; there will surely be conflicts between the parents, if not the kids.

Wiigee said...

I would like to know more about the Nova and SBOC relocation. I have heard rumors that they would eventually be merged into one school, but I don't see any practical reason to do so given the different goals of each school.

Tiki said...

Angry and heartbroken AS#1 parent of two here.

Yes, our building is old. But what will happen to all the students? And to the work we've put into the building itself?

This whole proposal feels like something cooked up by folks who've never set foot in the places they're making decisions about.

We live in the NW. The Jane Addams building is that much farther away. I currently drive my two kids the 4 miles to school. Will I go further? Sure, we're close to Salmon Bay, but that program is more like a traditional one than the alternative experiential ed we have at AS#1.

Ah, what to do! And worse, how to talk to the kids about it.

What a crappy Thanksgiving gift SSD gave us.

SE Mom said...

Tiki -

There is a link now on the West Seattle blog to more detailed district documents explaining some rational for their proposals.

Evidently they thought that Summit and Rainer Beach share an arts focus and that Summit would benefit from being able to use RB's
theater and drama/arts facilities.

Is this something that would be appealing to your family? I suspect that the different academic philosophies between the two programs and the location of RB would trump the advantages of sharing an arts focus.

What are your thoughts?

Tiki said...

We live in the NW cluster. It's a long enough drive to get our kids to AS#1. I can't imagine braving I-5 twice a day to get them to the South end.

And, because we're in NW (not N or NE), we don't even know if we'll be assigned to the newly expanded Thornton Creek K-8.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

On Summit at RBHS—I could see advantages to co-housing the two high school programs, RBHS does have a great performing arts facility. But I absolutely cannot see having elementary students in the mix.

RBHS has a lot of challenges and the location has serious issues. SAARS Market across the street blasts classical music to deter loitering. The apartments across the street have been the scene of numerous crimes. I can't imagine anyone willingly putting their 5-yr-old in such a setting.

And I'd like to hear how the co-location would work. One principal? Shared staff? Drama teachers? Art teachers? Shared classes—AP? Seems like a grand experiment.

How will they separate the younger kids? Where/when will they eat lunch? The campus is open now, would it remain so? Recess?

But honestly...does the District really believe the northend families will bus their kids all the way down to RB? I didn't consider Summit for my child because of the commute from the southend; I doubt that many would make the trip from up north. It just doesn't make sense to have an all-city draw so far south (though admittedly they were too far north to begin with).

And why is NOTHING happening with Aki Kurose? As Charlie Mas has pointed out numerous times on this blog, it's under enrolled and in Step 5 of NCLB. I have no idea about the shape of the building, but I know it's not new.

There's a lot in this proposal that makes no sense at all. I'll have to read the "reasoning" to see if it makes things clearer.

The Kidde Woodward Family said...

I would like to see some kind of estimate of how much money this will save the district. As someone whose school was deeply affected by the last round of closures, I can tell you we are asking a lot of the families at all of these schools, and I'd like to know what we are getting in exchange -- how much of the $24 million gap are we saving here? How many teachers do we NOT have to fire because we're doing this? It surprises me that this isn't part of the announcement. Maybe they don't know, exactly. But it feels like a big question to leave hanging out there.

Liss said...

SE Mom:
Is the real intent to kill off Summit? How does having Summit at RB benefit either school other than filling excess seats?


As a Summit parent who attended the meeting tonight, that was certainly how it felt. The staff and superintendent made it clear that only reason that Summit wasn't on the closure list was due to the Board's interest.

AutismMom said...

The district says it's moving all the effected special education students to "an integrated service delivery model". Yeah right. That just means they haven't thought about it, or aren't disclosing the real plan... or, have no plan.

Lowell houses the districts MOST fragile (medically) and and most highly impacted students. Those are the least likely students to ever be placed in an "integrated service delivery model". Plus, there are a huge number of them... around 50. What is the plan these students? They can't all fit at Green Lake.

TT Minor houses 2 EBD programs (one new this year). Arbor Heights houses 2 generic self-contained programs. Summit houses an "emotionally fragile" program... and an autism self-contained program (K-2) only. Perhaps these students could conceivably be placed in an integrated service delivery model. BUT, this makes no sense outside a plan to do it in the receiving schools... and for all the students in the receiving schools... because that's what "integrated" means.

Charlie Mas said...

On the whole, the closure, consolidation and relocation proposals aren't bad. Some of them, in fact, are very good. The idea to open up Decatur as a neighborhood reference area school, for example. Others need to be questioned, but shouldn't be rejected until we hear the answers.

Question #1: It's really clear that the driving determinant behind most of the selections was building condition. Pinehurst, Genessee Hill, Horace Mann, and Lowell are all being closed for no reason other than their condition. If any of these schools had been recently renovated, they would not have been closed. So the District is closing them largely because the District has neglected to maintain them. Also, they are all alternative school locations. If they were not alternative schools, the District would have maintained them. Do we really want operational preferences and political favortism to drive academic decisions in this way?

Question #2: There are between 150-200 students at Meany who live in the Central Region. When Meany closes, where will these students be assigned? The other middle school in their region is Washington, and Washington is already full to overflowing. So Central Region middle school students will have to be bussed out of the region in violation of the District assignment policy. I suspect a lot of them will go to Hamilton.

Question #3A: Regardless of their commitment to the program, I find it VERY unlikely that many of the Summit K-12 students from the north-end will choose to follow the program to the District's southern border. If the Summit students don't show up, will the District close Rainier Beach High School?

Question #3B: Is this how the District will kill Summit? By moving it as far away as possible from most of the school's students so they will quit it?

Question #4: How long will it take for the District to change the new location for Pathfinder from Arbor Heights to Cooper? Will it happen before the Board meets again? The reason they gave for selecting Arbor Heights over Cooper was so flimsy that it didn't last to the end of Director Maier's first question about it.

Question #5: If one of the goals of the process was to create equity of access to programs and to space the programs out geographically, then why is the elementary APP site for students living in the North-end located at Thurgood Marshall? They say it's because there's no north-end site, but that's simply not true. If elementary APP is going to split into two cohorts, one for the north and one for the south, then shouldn't the one for the north actually be in the north?

Question #6: The APP review specifically told the District to place the program in a school with a population with a socio-economic status and academic achievement similar to that of the APP population. And they chose Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne? Don't any of them know what happened when it was located at Madrona?

Question #7: Just how do these changes address the overcrowding at Eckstein? They don't. There is no new traditional middle school capacity created by these changes.

The needed adjustment would be to create a new K-8 in the North end and make it half APP and half general education. That would bring equity of access to APP by putting the north-end elementary APP location in the north-end, and it would create the needed additional traditional 6-8 space in the north-end. It would also open up enough seats at Washington for the Central Region middle school students now at Meany. They could put it at John Marshall.

nothing1111 said...

Among several good points, Charlie said:
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If elementary APP is going to split into two cohorts, one for the north and one for the south, then shouldn't the one for the north actually be in the north?

Don't any of them know what happened when it was located at Madrona?

Just how do these changes address the overcrowding at Eckstein? They don't.

The needed adjustment would be to create a new K-8 in the North end and make it half APP and half general education. That would bring equity of access to APP by putting the north-end elementary APP location in the north-end, and it would create the needed additional traditional 6-8 space in the north-end. It would also open up enough seats at Washington for the Central Region middle school students now at Meany. They could put it at John Marshall.
------------------

Yes, there are some good parts to the plan, but the APP portion of the proposal makes little sense. Your idea above sounds great, although it could also be done by combining 1/2 APP with Spectrum from Eckstein. Carla has (had?) always said she favored a K-8 arrangement for APP, and also that she favored the idea of having APP and Spectrum together.

One good aspect is that it would allow more fluidity between the programs, where APP mixed w/reg ed would not. i.e. the system would appear less "track-like".

While John Marshall would be a great facility, the district has stated that they do not want to open closed buildings. But look! Ta-da, Jane Addams -is- now available. And of reasonable size and age-appropriate-ness, right?

This opens seats at a hugely overcrowded Eckstein, with a likely trickle-south effect.

Will anyone listen?

Dorothy said...

From West Seattle Live Blog:
"Vaughan says 200 kids identified for APP are not using the program - they’re being “accommodated” at Spectrum and ALOs, “it’s not essential that every highly gifted student has to go into a radically accelerated program.” He says it’s more important to attract kids to Spectrum (the second-level gifted program), which is located in more schools around the city."

Was Vaughan there speaking or was he being quoted from a report.

It is not "essential" that all highly gifted students attend radically accelerated programing? Of course not. First, let's stop with the myth that APP is radically accelerated. It isn't. Second, no, not every highly gifted student needs that particular sort of educational model. No one has ever been forced to go to APP. I always thought the goal was to provide access to that particular sort of education for the students who needed it. Moving the all-city programs that far south certainly doesn't speak well to that.

Yes, there are plenty of kids in APP that could be well served in a quality spectrum program. This is sure one way to "correct" the changes in testing policy that increased enrollment with students who would not previously have qualified. This is sure one way to grow Spectrum. But what about the kids way up north who really are the sort of student for which IPP and APP were intended? An extra hour a day on a bus?

Maureen says 125 Lowell APP kids are from NE cluster. How many from NW and N? How many will decide not to risk the added bus ride and the experiment down south and instead add to the overcrowding up north?

seattlgal said...

"But look! Ta-da, Jane Addams -is- now available. And of reasonable size and age-appropriate-ness, right?"

It is not open, Thornton Creek is moving in.

I think they should have left Thronton Creek right where they were. And opened a north end k-8 Spectrum and APP school at Jane Adamms. There are a lot of Spectrum students living in the NE cluster. They are currently divided between View Ridge, Wedgewood and Eckstein.

There is currently a waitlist at View Ridge and Eckstein for Spectrum seats. Some kids never clear during all 3 years at Eckstein.

Does anyone know what the numbers are? Are there enough Spectrum students and north end APP students to fill a 900 seat Jane Adamms, and would it relieve enough pressure in NE cluster elementary schools as well as Eckstein.

It wouldn't help the Bryant families with access to Bryant, but perhaps if boundaries were drawn differently the over flow Bryant families would now have a home at View Ridge?

hschinske said...

I would like to know if there is a plan to keep the newly shuttered buildings from being vandalized, as has happened with previously closed buildings. Are they simply going to be closed and locked? Could Lowell be rented out to community groups? I have a hard time believing that the building doesn't have considerable commercial potential, given its location.

Lowell is my old neighborhood school, by the way, and it has had the dedicated special ed wing since before I was born. I hate to see it go, and wonder how hard a move is going to be on those kids, and how well they'll be served elsewhere (presumably in several different elsewheres).

If Lowell APP is to be split, it makes no sense to put it in schools where there will be no room to grow. In Priya's pot metaphor, repotting a clump won't help if you're going from one big pot to two pots that each have half as much space.

Helen Schinske

Mary said...

re seattlegal and others' comments about creating an APP/Spectrum school, I thought I'd heard that the sup't does not like segregated schools - does anyone have any specific reference to this?

TechyMom said...

Putting the north half of APP K-8 at Jane Adams with Thornton Creek makes sense. The south half, I see a few options.

First, I don't know anything about Hawthorne. West Seattle might be an ok location, though it is harder to get to than some others. Would it make sense to have 3 APP locations (North, Central or South, and, West?)

APP with Van Asslet at AAA. Van Asslet isn't demographically similar to APP, but it is very successful accademically, and has a well-rounded program. AAA might actually have the "improving" effect on Van Asslet that it had at Garfield but not at Madrona. I do like that this school is being rewarded with a good building. This could be K-8 (will Van Asslet become a K-8?), or K-5, leaving the southern half of APP 6-8 at Washington.

APP with Summit at AAA. AAA is a better location for all-city Summit than RB. I actually agree about the performing arts space at RB, and am waiting to see how security for Kindergarteners will be handled before dismissing it out of hand, but AAA would be more central, and Summit and APP are both all-city, and could share busses.

APP with Summit at Madrona, close Madrona's program. I'm disappointed that nothing is being done about Madrona. Most of it's students don't live in the neighborhood, so closing its program shouldn't have too much impact on Central crowding. If there were some access for the Summit students to ALOs with the APP students, and for the APP students to take arts electives with Summit students, it could also take some pressure off TOPS, since it would offer both well-roundedness and rigor.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bob Vaughn did speak for the Advanced Learning programs.

If you opened a Spectrum/APP school, whether K-5 or K-8, it would fill so fast it would make your head spin. Anyone in these programs knows this. But the district seems to have an aversion to any kind of support for highly capable kids so I doubt this could ever happen.

Summit/RBHS - as Charlie said to me last night, it's like two drunks walking down the street propping each other. NOT to mean that they are bad programs but that the move is not going to help either program in any real way (except to keep RBHS alive which it couldn't if they didn't move Summit there. Better move for Center School to go there but see my Reactions thread for the reasoning.) Yes, I think that staff is trying to kill off Summit.

TechyMom said...

Make that "APP might have the improving effect on Van Asslet..." not "AAA might..." Too many TLAs.

I'd add that placing APP with an alternative program makes sense socially. Kids at alternative programs are more likely to be accepting of the weird smart kids than a general ed population. APP at a tough, low-acheiving, low-income school with discipline problems just sounds like a recipe for bullying to me.

Tom said...

I was at the meeting last night. It is clear that there is a lot of concern about the economic downturn, and how that will further affect the Seattle school budget.

It is also clear that there is a clear preference for "typically developing peers" in neighborhood schools. Alternative schools are out. Special needs kids (from extremely physically fragile to autism to APP to just kids who need something more than to sit in a classroom reading defined curriculum) need to develop typically. There appears to be no understanding that children are different, and need different support systems.

My eldest child is in the APP program at Washington and attended Lowell from the 4th grade. I liked his first school, Beacon Hill. I thought it was great for him to be in a school where there was "the athlete" and "the artist" and "the chess champion." All these kids were special for something, and my kid was special too. I was afraid he would get lost at Lowell, and not think of himself as special, and not be happy. I was unprepared for how happy he was to be with a school full of kids who thought like him about math and science and games. It is true that the kids who had been there for years were close, but that face splitting grin on my kids face told me he was enjoyig life.

What you get in a school focused on a program, one with hundreds of kids and staff is a school where staff can bounce ideas off of one another, where kids can work together (instead of one kid doing all the work on a group project because the other kids think that kid will get them a better grade). Splitting the cohort will hurt the program.

It is very different from the school I attended where the kids were tracked within the school. My group was so small, and we felt different - not in a good way. When I should have been celebrating my strengths, I was trying to fit in with the "typically developing peers."

One more note - are any of you in schools with kindergarten with the school district planning capacity average of 23. I have only seen that in places where the PTA pays for the extra teacher. I don't think that counts.

Southend Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tom, I did think the average class size numbers that staff gave when explaining capacity were kind of off. I suspect that maybe one-third of kindergartens are at 23. (The numbers given were 23 for K-3, 25 for 4-5, 28 for 6-8 and 30 for 9-12). I think the middle/high school number is probably right more than the K-3 and 4-5 numbers.

soparent said...

I understand the concerns, but sometimes I fell the entire discussions revolve around APP! There are lots of kids affected; let's branch out.

Papa Don said...

I'm wondering about how many spaces would now be available for Thornton Creek and Salmon Bay. We just moved to the area and were excited about the possibility of our kids attending either Thornton Creek, Salmon Bay or AS#1. With three choices it seemed like a win-win situation for us. But now I'm worried about being shut out of the alternative schools because AS#1 and I imagine some Summit kids will fill up any possible space increases. It just seems like it will be that much harder to get into these programs if you're not already in them. Any thoughts?

seattlgal said...

How does the middle school portion of a k-8 work?? Do kids have a 6 period day, and change classes like traditional middle school?? They are much smaller so may not have enough students to do this. I know at AS1 the middle school was more like elementary with a few pull outs?? Does anyone know what it would look like at Thornton Creek? How is it at Salmon Bay??

SE Mom said...

TOPS middle school:

In 6th grade the kids have two teachers - science/math and language arts/social studies - plus art and health for half the year each.

7th and 8th graders have 5 teachers and the following for the full year at both grades - math, science, art, language arts and social studies. They have PE, French and health for part of the year. Other electives such as music and other languages are mostly offered before or after school.

The middle school is a separate but attached building from the elementary grades.

mom123 said...

What I hear in the NE...

The "new" Thornton Creek will be full with current students, younger children from Summit for whom the extraordinarily long commute to RB would be too much, and the displaced students from AE1. It will not alleviate the overcrowding at Eckstein because it is alternative. The "new" Thornton Creek will not help overcrowding in the NE - only absorb those whose programs are moving or schools being closed.

The new elementary at Decatur will perhaps help (just because of proximity of location) the overcrowding at Wedgwood. But, as it will be a new unproven program and does not have a magnet such as Math and Science or International it will not draw students from the overcrowded areas of Laurelhurst and Bryant. Basically, it will become a school for mandatory assignments that is closer than John Rogers.

The younger APP children already struggle with the hour bus ride to Lowell. Parents are already telling me they will not send them further away. They will try for Spectrum programs at View Ridge or Wedgwood or go private.

nacmom said...

I too am amazed at all of this. I am a reg. ed NE parent who is shocked that the district just 'undid' the work it took to get jane addams 700-800 seats for the gen ed crunch in NE - currently 758 over capacity and growing... moving out one alt for another of similar size? where's the logic in that? except I do agree that TC's decatur building is better located for easing crunch, but it has only 1/2 the seats... and doesn't address middle school overcrowding. this one is curious and frankly, must be infuriating for Summitt families.

I think the district is too confident that they can move APP kids anywhere and the parents will send them. I already know people figuring out if they can 'fall back' to local spectrum elementary spots in NE, of which, there are, of course, not enough. I agree that only a N and S option for elementary makes sense (or one central, but...). these are little kids and the same reason that summit families will balk at sending their youngest way, way out of their neighbhorhood will be same for APP parents.I like some of hte suggestions for creating a app/spectrum site. it will fill.

to tiki - sadly the district cannot and does not allow for small schools. simple as that. we all know it goes against studies, but I am finding (as I am researching!) that most local districs are similar. big, big, big schools. More efficient to run, so a small school with small classes is quickly becomding somthing only the private schools offer - at a hefty price.

Overall, schools are going to close, we all know that. but some of these recommendations don't make much sense. Sumitt to co-locate with RB? the board has its work cut out for it...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mom 123, I think the new school at Decatuar will have some magnet focus; it just hasn't been determined yet. Phone or call and let them know what you want. I know the Board is not eager to start any program that is new (i.e. math and science) but dual-language would probably work.

h2o girl said...

Dear seattlgal,
I have a 6th grader at Salmon Bay. They do have a 6 period day, changing classes, etc. They have homeroom for 20 minutes, math, social studies, keyboarding for a semester and then science for a semester, an elective (my kid takes band) and a two-hour literacy block of reader's workshop & writer's workshop. This class has only 20 kids in it, which I think is fabulous.

seattlgal said...

The district promised a traditional K-8 in the Jane Adamms building. It is what the families of the NE cluster want. Now they are moving Thornton Creek, another alternative school into that space and growing them to a K-8.

First of all, the Thornton Creek community has repeatedly said they do not want to grow into a k-8.

Second of all, repurposing the Decatur building to a new k-5 will help the elementary overcrowding in the NE, but it will not help with the middle school (Eckstein) overcrowding that will be a train wreck in about 4 years.

The families that choose Eckstein will not choose Thronton Creek. Thornton Creek is an alternative school. Eckstein, as stated in the enrollment guide is a pre-collecge prep traditional school and Spectrum school. They will not be in competition with one another. They are vastly different programs.

In fact Thornton Creek and Eckstein are such incompatible programs, that when Thornton Creek students move on to middle school, instead of going to Eckstein (the neighborhood middle school located a half mile away from Thornton Creek) they get assignment preference and bus service to Salmon Bay, an all city draw school, way out in the NW cluster.

I can't see how the 6-8 portion of Thornton Creek will relieve any pressure on Eckstein.

It may take some of the kids that live north of 110th that do not get into Eckstein and are assigned to Hamilton, but I don't see it relieving Eckstein, which is where the over crowding is.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't think that APP families should reject the proposal out of hand. Consider the benefits of having your children - all of your children - in the same elementary school. After the APP students are assigned to the building, and their siblings are assigned to the building, and the self-contained special education students are assigned to the building, there won't be much space for neighborhood kids. It really won't be much different from Lowell, except that all of your kids will be able to attend the same elementary school.

hschinske said...

I don't think there are very many siblings of APP students who aren't either (1) in APP themselves, (2) enough older or younger that there would be no overlap anyway, or (3) in a neighborhood school they like (frequently in Spectrum, which neither Hawthorne or Thurgood Marshall is likely to have).

I've been in the situation of having twins in Lowell and Whittier, and I would never have thought of putting the Whittier twin at Lowell for a regular program -- the commute wouldn't have been worth it.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

The District has guaranteed that there will be ALOs at both Thurgood Marshall and at Hawthorne for the non-APP students.

Students assigned to the school would get transportation on the APP bus.

none1111 said...

Charlie;

1) As Helen said, there aren't that many sibs who aren't also in the program. There may be a number of first-graders, but I'm sure the numbers quickly decline after that.

2) Most families, ourselves included, would much rather opt for a local, close-to-home Spectrum program for a younger sib who doesn't qualify for APP.

3) As you have said many times, just because an Advanced Learning program is offered at a school, it doesn't mean that it truly exists in a meaningful way. How many kids are currently taking advantage of the ALO at Thurgood Marshall? How successful is it? Parents are going to opt for the best program for their kids, considering all factors - program quality, proximity, etc. I think sibling attendance is unlikely to be a dominant factor if it means sending the littlest kids all the way across town.

For north-end families, there are several good Spectrum and ALO options. Guess what schools they are going to opt for? South-end families don't have the same quality/quantity of choices, and without strong district (and local) support and consolidation of those programs, they will never thrive.

Come on Dr G.L. (and board members), get with the program! It's time to strengthen the programs that actually matter to families in the areas that make sense! Work on building the Spectrum and ALO programs in the south end. Show some outward support for those programs. And leave Lowell where it is, it's one of the most successful programs in the district, and I don't mean just test scores - it's a program that draws families back to public schools and actually serves its quirky kids well. Imagine that, a program/building/location that actually serves its kids.

Successful programs like this take many years to build, but they can be destroyed in a heartbeat.