Friday, November 07, 2008

The District Is Going to Lower the Boom (But Since They Seem to Think It Can Wait, Here's the News)

The district and Board are going full-speed ahead with closures. Seattle Council PTSA President (and whirling dervish) Sharon Rodgers e-mailed PTSA leaders yesterday with information from an Executive Board meeting of the School Board. What she let us know is depressing. From the School Board agenda for next week:

  • Release of Preliminary Recommendations November 25, 2008
  • Building-based Hearings December 15, 16, and 18, 20081
  • Release of Final Recommendations January 6, 2009
  • Introduction of Closure Motion January 7, 2009
  • Final Hearing January 22, 20092
  • Action on Closure Motion January 29, 2009 (special meeting)

1 Building-based hearings are public hearings that will be held in any building that is proposed for closure for instructional purposes. The purpose of these hearings is to gather public comment about the specific building recommended for closure. The times and locations of the hearings will be set once any buildings recommended for closure are identified.
2 This is a public hearing held to gather public comment about the entire closure recommendation. The time and location of the hearing will be set once any buildings recommended for closure are identified."

"This timeline requires that the budget, staffing and enrollment processes be delayed. With a School Board vote by the end of January the budget and staffing processes will be delayed by although the timelines for classified and certified staff notifications could still be met. The enrollment process will be delayed and families would be notified of their Fall 2009 assignments by the end of May, 2009."

(The Board is seeking to change a Board policy that required a two-week notification in public newspapers because it would delay this timeline. They are voting to change the policy so that, basically, everything they need to get done will be done and they can close schools by September. That's the bottom line. They state, in the motion, that:

"Specific community engagement was not sought for this amendment. The need for the amendment was discussed during the School Board meeting on October 29, 2008, and at that time the School Board amended Resolution 2008/09-02 to include direction to the Superintendent to develop a new communication provision for Policy H 01.00. This amendment is a response to that direction."

Please note that you have to read to Agenda to access this information. It is STILL not on the district website even though we are talking about closing schools and delaying enrollment notification.

Oh, where to start?

First, the Board is ELECTED. They are voting on a motion to change policy that we ELECTED them to create and enforce. It is funny how they cherry-pick what policies to enforce or not enforce and which ones are of supreme importance. They are changing a policy that affects ENTIRE communities and, indeed the look of the entire district, but still, they feel absolutely no need to ask or even inform parents and others.

Second, Board, why don't you and the staff just go out there and twist that knife a little harder in the backs of these schools? You could:
  • make first announcements about who's on the list ...right before Thanksgiving
  • then, having the hearings ...right before the Winter Holiday break
  • then, announce the final list...a couple of days after we get back from the holiday break
Could you make what is probably the most painful decision a district and Board make a little more painful for those communities? Could you leave them twisting in the wind during what is supposed to be a happy, thankful time? Could you send people, some of whom are likely already suffering from the economic decline, into the holidays with a cloud over them about where their children will go to school?

You may remember, I believe this work DOES need to be done. But this breakneck speed? This horrible timing? Talk about tone-deaf.

I had been told (and I know exactly what staff member told me and the rest of the Committee during the last closure and consolidation) that the legal process took a year. I took this person at her word. Well, I looked up the RCW and no, it's a 90-day requirement but as you can see from above there are union issues of notification of teachers, public notification, etc.

When I found out we were going back to doing closures, I told some Board members that it was hard work last time but I would be willing to help again. I was told that the Board was taking this on themselves (and that's to their credit).

I attended the Board meeting of the Seattle Council PTSA last night where this was discussed. Sharon told us that the criteria (or "guideposts" as they are apparently being called) are mostly around, as I suspected all along, building condition and site.

As you may remember, the State Auditor's report said we have too many buildings for too few students. The Auditor's report also said SPS did NOT do enough basic maintenance. I had also reported here that for many years the district has not been funding enough for basic maintenance (we are down to 1% of the General Fund instead of the OSPI suggested 4%). I believe the district is swimming in backlogged maintenance and is looking for a way out of fixing the worst buildings. This would also explain the odd statement by Facilities' Don Gilmore who had stated at a meeting for Denny/Sealth that the district might want the Denny property for a new elementary school to be built after closing 3 unnamed elementaries. It may be that some properties are so bad off, it better to shutter/sell them and build one good new one.

This is me connecting the dots. Neither the Superintendent nor the Board have said this is the reason for the hurry up closures AND building criteria being the most important. But it seems to be a logical explanation.

Also, to note, the closures will happen below the ship canal. I want to point out that in the '80s closures, all the schools closed were in the north end. During the last round of closures, we closed schools everywhere but the northeast/north (because they need the capacity). The Committee also left it to the Board and staff to close a Central area school because we did not feel we had enough information to make the decision. That decision was never made and I believe it will be now. It is likely that they will close between 5-7 schools.

I could go back and look at the building condition reports but I can think of some candidates for closure. One issue, though, is that there are some good programs in bad buildings so that would be interesting if the district felt the need to move a good school because of a bad building.

It's always rush, rush, rush in this district. It's always about money. It's always about moving from one crisis to the next. It is so exhausting to keep up and to keep some sense of perspective.

I'm a bit disgusted by it all.

63 comments:

SolvayGirl1972 said...

It is fast...but it almost has to be if they are going to close schools for the 2009-10 school year. Already the enrollment dates are pushed up a month. So, if you live somewhere with an undesirable school and are applying to a private school as a fall-back, you will have to put down a hefty deposit to hold your spot in case you don't get the public school you want.

If they had to push enrollment out any further, people would need to irrevocably commit to the private schools. With closures looming, but not decided by January, more people would look at private schools, which could result in more/different under enrolled schools.

The District is really between a rock and a hard place on this one...and believe me, I have no real love for their procedures and/or policies. I can, however, see why they want to proceed on this matter quickly.

However, as we have all discussed, I'd like to see them make some drastic cuts in Admin first.

TwinMom2003 said...

It is exhausting.

It is a constant ricochet from crisis to crisis like a horrifying pinball game.

If the district can never get ahead of the "ball" so to speak, to be proactive vs. reactive, I don't feel any hope.

Maureen said...

Melissa, you said "It is likely that they will close between 5-7 schools....I could go back and look at the building condition reports but I can think of some candidates for closure."

Would you care to share? (I promise to keep in mind that they are just based on your educated opinion.)

spsmom said...

Well perhaps moving with speed is warranted in this case, after all, the district has had several years and rounds of reports, evaluations and community meetings around school closure. It seems at this point to be redundant. It needs to be done, they already have the data, maybe it's time to move swiftly and get it done. I for one am looking for a time when the dust is settled, all schools that need to be closed are closed, the WASL is reformed, the new assignment plan is completed. Whew! Let's get going.

Keepin'On said...

Yes it is fast Melissa, but I think we could all look back at the botched process a couple of years ago, and make educated guesses as to what buildings will be closed this time. Last time they lacked the guts to follow through, this time they do not. I have no problem with the board moving quickly to finish the job they should have finished the first time we went through this!

At least we all know now why The Superintendent got the big raise- it was so she could be the hatchet-woman for the district and she wanted hazard pay.

Eric B said...

The claim by the District is that this needs to be ramrodded through fast because of the $24 million projected deficit. However, this deficit is in operations, and closures typically do not save a large amount of money in operations in the near term - in fact they cost money in the near-term because of transition costs and the loss of students to other districts). So it seems like Melissa's contention that this is to get rid of maintenance backlog is reasonable, but it doesn't need to be done so fast.

spsmom said...

Eric B, why shouldn't the project move quickly? All of the research has been done. The criteria has been set. All of the reports have been compiled. Communities (parents, students and teachers) have given their input. Buildings and programs to be closed or consolidated have already been identified. 4 YEARS AGO, AND THEN AGAIN 2 YEARS AGO!!

I mean really, why should it not move quickly? Why drag it out AGAIN? Why have this district in perpetual turmoil? Someone, please tell me why?

TwinMom2003 said...

SPS Mom,

Just from curiosity...decisions have already been made 4 and 2 years ago?

I hope the data referenced is not from the study and company that provided the enrollment forecasts. If that is the case then decisions are being made with incorrect information.

Making decisions with incorrect information will be a tsunami compared to current turmoil.

Personally, I would like calm reasoned decisions to end the turmoil and return to solid footing. I really, truly hope that the current decisions being made are made from solid information so that the district can right itself.

spsmom said...

Twinmom, what incorrect information are you referring to, specifically? The information and data used was solid and sound enough for the district to move forward with closures two years ago, what has changes since then? And, does it really need to be completely re-done, and dragged out? Again?

Joanne said...

This whole thread reminds me of why I liked MGJ. She seems to be the only person in this entire district, in ions, that can light a fire under people's behinds and get things moving. She is not a procrastinator. She is not a processor. She stays on task, is efficient, and moves forward. She said in her interview that she had no tolerance for "the Seattle process", and thank god for that.

God speed MGJ!

TwinMom2003 said...

I am talking about the enrollment projections. Very far off the mark north of the cut.

I am just hoping that is not the info. that will be referred to in deciding what schools to close.

Especially, as district wide enrollment was up this year.

TwinMom2003 said...

SPS Mom,

I am not trying to be adversarial - just to understand.

QA/Magnolia and the NE Cluster are in total crisis because of the inaccurate enrollment forecasts.

If this is the same data to be used for school closure info. I only fear that more ruin will come to the district.

S. said...

Melissa, you wrote that all the closures will happen south of the ship canal. Is that for sure?

SPSmom said...

Twinmom where did you get this information...."QA/Magnolia and the NE Cluster are in total crisis because of the inaccurate enrollment forecasts." ???

The enrollment forecast was not inaccurate - quite the opposite. It was precisely accurate and clearly predicted the lack of capacity and over crowding issues in the NE cluster - 4 years ago!!! Our favorite Superintendent, Raj Manhas, and his school board, armed with the information, CHOSE to do nothing about it. Nothing, nada, not a thing. It was almost criminal.

MGJ is moving forward. She is getting the job done that should have been done 4 or 5 years ago. She does not sit on things, process forever, and ultimately do nothing like Raj Manhas did. I respect her for that, and am encouraged to see her looking at the data and moving on it. She is also looking at solving he NE middle school over crowding issue NOW - before it happens. Lets support her in this, and not get stuck in the drag yet again.

SPSmom said...

S - Summit will likely close or move and they are north of the ship canal. But other than Summit, I can't imagine any school north of the ship canal closing with the current lack of capacity/over crowding issues in the N/NE and NW clusters.

x said...

No... Manhas did NOT choose to do nothing. He had a plan, but there were a few sacred cows in the plan. He had the audicity to put Montlake on the closure list. A school way too small to be an elementary school and to have good economies of scale, in a decrepit building, and one that would bring a lot of cash in if sold. But then, boy did the crying start!!! and so did the process: Go from school to school until we find the points of weakest resistance. Close those. Clearly, that has not been the best method either. Now we're probably going to be re-opening Viewlands... which was a point of weak resistance.

Eric B said...

SPS mom-
You seem to indicate that you don't mind the process going fast and with minimal public input. That maybe fine, but what if the proposals don't make sense? throughout the last closures and consolidation process many proposals were put forward that were almost silly - closing Alki, for instance or moving Pathfinder to the Boren building, to give two examples. Thanks to the public process these bad ideas were scrapped. Maybe the district will make great choices based on good data - in which case all will be fine. However, if they don't then the speed may hurt the district. The point of my original post is that there is not a strong financial reason to push ahead so quickly, so why do so except for your desire for the "dust to be settled"?

SPSmom said...

X, you're bringing race (Montlake) into this argument, again, as you usually do.

I was not referring to closure when I said Manhas did nothing, please re-read my post. I was referring to the lack of capcity and over crowding issue in the NE that he knew about, had data on, and chose to do nothing about.

Please, don't distort.

To Eric B, I would say, that I 100% agree with public input and community engagement. I guess I just feel that on this subject it has been done, over and over again. I just don't see the reason to go through it all over again.

Scott R said...

deja vu all over again...

Last time I remember our stacked bar charts showing numbers of kids affected in each quadrant. Of course southeast took the lion's share of the pain.

The Board is limiting its options for drawing students into these schools. Lots of south-end kids go to north-end schools. If the Board finally moves to constrain school choice and promote neighborhood schools, where will these kids go?

This talk of having to get it done -- it's wrong-headed. It only squares when it's not your kids' school that's on the block.

Where's the vision for populating our public schools with everyone's kids?

SPSmom said...

Scott R, where are you getting your mis information??? Your statement could not be further from the truth......."The Board is limiting its options for drawing students into these schools. Lots of south-end kids go to north-end schools. If the Board finally moves to constrain school choice and promote neighborhood schools, where will these kids go? "

The board is NOT limiting families choice options. They have not proposed limiting choice. It is not even on the table as a possibility. In fact Families will have the EXACT same choice that they have now. The only change in the assignment plan will be that families will have guaranteed access to their neighborhood school.

Furthermore, the vast majority of kids leaving the Southend going north are in HS. The new assignment plan will NOT affect HS at all. High schools are not neighborhood or reference schools.

Eric B said...

SPS Mom - you are right, the process did go through, and data was gathered, and schools were closed. Then the process finished. There have been some pretty big changes in the last few years. Some schools populations have risen substantially (e.g. Cooper, which was proposed for closing has 20% more students than 2 years ago), while others have declined. I still don't see that you have given a reason why it will hurt to take time other than impatience.

SE Mom said...

sps mom -

Actually, the new assignment plan will affect high schools. While there will not be feeder paths from middle to high school, families will be assigned to a neighborhood/attendance area high school. There will be choice seats open at high schools so that families can apply to schools outside of their attendance area.

There are many open seats at Cleveland and Rainier Beach. We don't know yet whether the new assignment plan will create fewer or more choices for high school assignment seats for southend families. If families going to northend high schools end up with less access to those seats, than one result could be more kids at SE highschools.

adhoc said...

"families will be assigned to a neighborhood/attendance area high school."

I do not interpret the new assignment plan this way at all.
Under both the current plan and the proposed new plan no student would be "assigned" to any high school. There are two, and only two tie breakers for high school assignment. The first is sibling and the second is distance. These will not be changed under the new assignment plan, so families will continue to have the same choices as they have now. If I have interpreted this wrong please provide a link on the SPS website to correct me, as I am sending my son to HS next year and would like to know.

The way I see it families in the south end really do have a lot of choices. In fact they have as many HS choices as I have living in the coveted NE cluster. SE families can get into any high school in the city with the exception of Garfield and Roosevelt (unless you are APP or special ed). SE families can easily get into Cleveland, RBHS, Franklin, Sealth, Ingraham and Hale. And this year they could have easily gotten into Ballard as they currently only have 2 kids on the 9th grade WL. Then there are the alternatives, Nova, Summit, Center School. In reality, you have the exact same HS choices as I do. I live 3 miles away from Roosevelt, which is about a 1/2 mile to far to get in. So Roosevelt is out for us too (not that we wanted a spot there anyway- our son is going to Hale). We are also to far from Garfield to get in but don't care because we would never send our kid across town, to a school an hour away from our home, on metro. But that's our personal choice.

So what I'm really saying is that in the end my choices are exactly the same as SE moms choices.

Melissa Westbrook said...

- no, I don't want to say what schools I think might be named and I regret that statement (maybe I'll take it out). I have some background in this but I don't want to alarm any community that doesn't turn up on a list.
-SPS, you said a lot of interesting things that I don't necessarily agree with. One is that the high schools will not be part of the assignment plan. I'm not sure where this came from but talking with Board members, YES, the high schools are part of the plan. I do believe students will be directed to a "feeder" high school from middle school with the ability to choose another high school if there is room. So you have a guaranteed high school. There is also talk of a lottery for set-aside seats to allow access for any student, no matter where they live, to try to get into biotech at Ballard, jazz bands at RHS and GHS, etc. I would think, given that there is an IB program in the north and south, that anyone could apply for those. But the Board would never say they are changing the assignment plan and not look at high schools.

Next, you said "the public input has been done" for closures. Not for this round it hasn't. Every single school community deserves the right to express how it feels about what will happen to them. It's the law and it's only fair if only to vent.

No, we don't really have all the info. I say that because we are spending a truckload to have the building conditions assessed (again) and some of the info may be used here. (My thinking is that they are assessing the worst buildings first so that they can make closures decisions but I don't know if this is the case.) They are doing this, they say, for the BTA levy but I'm sure they will use some of the info for closures. They wouldn't be doing this if they had all the info they needed.

Also, keep in mind, if Facilities has a plan, it takes a lot to shake them off. They will make a building look like a poorhouse if they want it closed. It all depends on how they present the evidence to the Board.

-about the buildings being only in the southend. That is what Sharon Rodgers reported out of the Executive Board meeting. Summit is moving no matter what (and their building is not being closed) but where is another question.

-Reopen Viewlands? I only doubt it because, as I read in the newspaper, Viewlands copper wiring got stripped out by thieves. I doubt we have the money to replace it.

-Montlake is a good example of where the district might want to look hard. Again, it's about building site and condition. Montlake's building has portables being used because of its size and condition. BTA money has been poured into it to shore it up. The site size is too small to justify ever remodelling it (because you'd end up with the same number of students at a prohibitive cost to the district for one school). But it is a popular and successful program with nowhere to move so I doubt it would make the list BUT it is a facilities problem that will have to be faced down someday.

I again with those who said the district and the Board KNEW at least a year or more ago that this budget crisis was coming. They could have started the process then. To fasttrack it now in this manner doesn't speak well for public process or community sensitivity. Remember, next time, it could be your school.

(And before anyone says, easy for you to say, you're at Roosevelt. Remember we still have building issues that are still not addressed. We're the largest high school in the district and yet have no security cameras. And I heard that fab new building at Garfield is STILL not right and as well, in the Board agenda, there's movement of yet another $1.5M for change orders. All totaled that's about $102M for Garfield.)

snaffles said...

Are any other High Schools besides Summit being considered for this closure? The Meng report was pretty adament about there being way to much space for High School students. Especially since all districts are considered one for High school students?

Just curious?

I am also amazed at how many dollars are going into Ingraham a 50 year old building voted into the 5 educational and 20 year use clause(16 million repairs and seismic upgrade and 24 million for additon plus the new library and redo of Science area in the last 5 years.) Too bad some of that hasn't been used on some of the elementary schools in the North. But I believe that is because Mr. Gilmore's daughter is there.

SE Mom said...

My information about changes to the student assignment plan came from a community meeting I attended last Saturday, Nov 1st. There were handouts and I took notes.

To find information about the assignment plan, go to "Enrollment" at the District website and then to "New Student Assignment Plan". There are several more community meetings planned and that is posted as well.

There will be a guaranteed assigment to elementary school and a feeder path to middle school. There will not be a feeder path to high school but there will be a designated attendance area. There will be choice seats at schools for students applying outside of their attendance areas.

The plan is supposed to start with the 2010/2011 school year.

I spoke with Tracy Libros at the meeting and she stated that tie breakers or access to "choice seats" have not yet been determined. They could be distance, they could be lottery.

Tracy stressed that they are working on defining operational and academic guiding principles before deciding on how students will access choice seats. For instance, if they want the IB program at Sealth to be open to students in SE as well as SW Seattle, then they would have a lottery rather than a distance tie breaker to choice seats.

There were many other topics of interest discussed including access to quality high school programs in SE Seattle. The SE Initiative would figure into that which I have my doubts about. But, the District is not doing a good job communicating about that to families.

I found the meeting informative and would urge others to attend upcoming community meetings to be informed about student assignment changes.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

To AdHoc
You are technically correct when you say the SE has the same choices as anyone. However, the quality of education offered at the choices that are geographically closer is usually inferior to the offerings in the northend schools.
It would be a lot harder for my child to get from the Brighton Beach area to Hale than to Cleveland. The distance tie-breaker affects us considerably more, as does the matter of transportation via Metro. BTW...I know a couple of kids from the southend who did NOT get into Ballard (as their first choice).
But to me, the problem is not so much the need for choice, but instead the need for equity of programs across the District. As I have noted many times on this site, there are really only three high schools that offer a full complement of courses, languages and electives. All the rest of the schools are lacking in some way or another.
Until the District can do something to make ALL of the high schools match the quality of Garfield and Roosevelt, it will continue to lose students to independent and out-of-district schools. There need to be similar course offerings at all schools AND the level of rigor and expectation needs to be high across the board. Right now an A at one school does not necessarily equal an A at another.

cosmo said...

Solvaygirl you can't have it all. None of us can. You want access to the three top schools in the district, even though they are not in your neighborhood. May I ask what you are willing to do to get your kid into one of them? Are you willing to move to one of the neighborhoods that will allow your child access to the only three schools in the entire district that can meet his/her needs? Or are you just as unwilling to move as You are to have your child commute/ride Metro? What do you want the district to do? They are working on equity. The SE initiative is in full swing and for those who are still not satisfied there is open choice for all high schools in the entire district. All but two schools are available to you. Maybe it's time for you to have some flexibility and work with the system. Roosevelt is the school it is because of the neighborhood it is in, not by any doing of the district. There will never be a "Roosevelt" in SE Seattle, the community and demographics to make that happen are just not there. Garfield is the school it is because of the APP program. It needs to be centrally located. It will never be placed in a school in SE Seattle. So, you're swimming upstream. You're going to have to work with what you've got, move, or commute. Those are your choices.

Charlie Mas said...

The data from the Meng study of school condition done for the most recent round of school closures is still available. It would be a simple matter to enter the data into a spreadsheet and click the "sort" button to order the school buildings in order from most to least decrepit.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Sorry Cosmo...but why can't all the schools offer a full complement of courses, more than one language, arts, etc. and have high expectations? This is ONE city, ONE school district, but the disparity between schools is ridiculous. And I don't believe that Roosevelt is terrific just because of the parents. Do the parents teach the four languages offered? Did they raise extra money to hire teachers?
The District has the power to make sure that standards are high. They have the power to make sure all principals and staff are up to or above par.
The "choice" system has allowed the underenrolled northend schools like Ingram and Hale to be boosted by students from the southend (ditto for Hamilton and McClure), allowing those schools to keep their enrollments high and thus have the funds to offer more courses. For at least a decade, the District has allowed southend students who care to migrate to northend schools, allowing the southend to deteriorate.
The Southend Initiative so far has been all about bringing WASL results up with a few AP courses thrown in. The District is doing very little to change the culture in the southend schools and to create an atmosphere of desirer for learning.
When I moved here 15 years ago, Franklin was a terrific school. Now it has a confusing curriculum of "academies" and no clear descriptions of course offerings.
If, as you say, the better schools are that way because parents make them so, then there is a serious problem with this "public" school system.
And, as for my choices...you left out two others: private or out-of-district--which is what many in the southend who want quality for their children are choosing. As more students leave the District, the budget deficit grows. It would truly be in everyone's best interest for the District to try to make all schools desirable.
When people like you take the attitude that we just have to "work with what we have" or "commute" you're letting the District off the hook.

x said...

X, you're bringing race (Montlake) into this argument, again, as you usually do.


SPSmom, please reread my post. Not one peep was about race. One wonders why you are so afraid of that issue, and assume other's intentions. Try actually reading (and remembering). It works wonders. You could even try reading Manhas' recommendations. Montlake is an extremely small school making it costly, too small a footprint for the number of students, in fragile condition, and sitting on valuable land.

My only point was that Manhas had a reasonable plan, but it failed because it stepped on some sacred cows. The board balked. A point many, many others have made before. I agree with you. Move on. Move forward.

qa_parent said...

Ok. Let me get this straight. The new assignment plan has distance as a tie-breaker. So where exactly do Queen Anne, or more problematically, Magnolia residents get placed? How can they both guarantee assignment at your closest school AND reserve spots for others? If you can't guarantee spots for all the local kids, how can you possibly give spots to people from far away? That is the issue at hand, and nothing anyone has said has addresses the problem. Some years Magnolia residents are placed at Ingraham... other years Cleveland. Those are NOT closest, they are NOT predictable. Nothing has been solved. Yes, some years Ballard is available for some (or even, many) students. Anybody have an inkling of how they plan to solve it?

cosmo said...

So Sovaygirl if you believe Roosevelt is not the school that it is because of the families that support the program, demand the course offerings, volunteer and fund raise, then what makes them a good school? Does the district favor them? Is the district headed by a bunch of racists who want to oppress the south end, minorities and low income families? What does the district gain by keeping south end schools down? Why isn't there a school like Roosevelt in SE Seattle? Please try to answer that question with facts. If you blame the district then give specific examples, funding, etc to show how they have caused the situation. Because i think they go out of their way to make things as equitable as possible...SE initiative, choice program, an exorbinent amount of extra funding to S end schools, etc. RBHS can offer AP classes if they want to, but there has to be interest and so far there is not enough interest. Foreign language....well every school offers foreign language - even little old RBHS offers French to it's 300 students.. So what is it then??? What is the district doing to oppress south end schools? If you respond please don't use generalities, give specific examples. For instance don't say Roosevelt offers 3 foreign languages and RBHS only offers one. I want to know why it is so.

Adhoc said...

"Do the parents teach the four languages offered?"

No, the parents don't teach the four languages, but they do demand that the school offer them. The district requires high schools to offer at least one foreign language. Unless the demand is there for more, a school is not going to offer more. Smaller, under enrolled schools like RBHS and Cleveland just don't get the demand or the interest, nor can they support the extra classes.

Adhoc said...

"Did they raise extra money to hire teachers?"

No, they didn't raise extra money to hire more teachers. It's a numbers game. If you have 1700 students at Roosevelt and 50% of them take foreign language, then the school has to have classroom space for 850 kids. They have to have many teachers to handle that load, so they can support offering 4 languages. Now compare this to RBHS with 300 kids, and only about 25% of those kids take a foreign language. That's only 75 students. Teaching seventy five students requires one teacher. Thus, one language. If you want more offerings you have to go to a large comprehensive HS that can support those offerings. Many posters on this blog have suggested closing RBHS and combining it with Cleveland, to make one large, thriving program. It makes sense to me from both a programmatic and financial perspective.

reader said...

What an idea. Let's combine the two most challenged high schools in the district. What would we get then? A really big school that was also the absolute worst and facing the most challenges on a grand scale. Does that sound like a place that would attract lots of people? They already did that in W. Seattle for elementary schools. Now they have a large, mega-bad school: West Seattle Elementary. Unlikely to ever improve. Previously, Highpoint was at least a small, intimate, though challenged school.

RB1986 said...

I graduated from Rainier Beach in 1986. Back then it was one of the top three high schools in Seattle along with Roosevelt and Garfield. The reason for this is it had the Horizon program (now Spectrum). We had some of the best teachers and many AP classes. Two things are needed to get the South schools back on track: 1. The district needs to offer excellent programs and teachers. 2. The neighborhood families need to commit to their local school and stop running away to other public or private schools.

Tom said...

I am not understanding the idea that families can just move to better schools. In the first place, it is not always financially possible to move. Sometimes, you just can't swing it - no matter how hard you try or how many sacrifices you are willing to make. Secondly, when people who really have the time, the knowledge, and the confidence to pursue the best education for their children leave (either for private schools or the already thriving public school programs) where does leave the rest of the children? This is not just about my child, or your child, this is about all the children.

Melissa Westbrook said...

- Ingraham has received a lot of updates (I believe it has been on every BEX). Facilities staff told me that they intend to remodel every single comprehensive high school. BUT I think with all the money they have put into Ingraham (and rightly so, I'm not complaining but questioning), it is unlikely that Ingraham will soon see a remodel on the scale of Hale, Roosevelt, etc. Ditto on RBHS and Sealth.

-Actually, the parents at RHS DO pay for an FTE and a half. That's what we fundraise for because we know how stretched the funding is. There are only a couple of categories for high school funding, if I recall. You are either a smaller high school (1,000 or less) or larger (1,000 or more). RHS gets more money from the number of students but the district doesn't give extra money to RHS because of its size.

-QA, I believe, sincerely, that within the next 3 years, the QA/Magnolia community will have their own designated comprehensive high school. I don't think it'll be in your neighborhoods but I think you will be getting something. You are right that we cannot realign the assignment plan to try to keep kids in their neighborhoods and then not have someplace for every student to go.

-So we've hit on a touchy subject - why are some schools better than others? Does the district favor them? Do they have a more solid community helping them - both parent and business?

One, the district does have to have equitable - not equal - offerings. If the student population is not enough to justify 3 different offerings of foreign language but does offer at least one then that could be judged equitable. But every high school, for example, has to have music (and I'd say both choral and band but that's me), drama, AP and honors and athletics.

Two, I'm not sure I'd agree that the only reason Garfield is great is because of the APP kids feeding into it. It helps but is the only reason?

Three, RB 1986 does lead us to one point. The presence of high achieving kids and a program tends to drive up a school's performance. For better or worse, you get parents who will not settle and who will work very hard for their student's school. When you have dedicated parents it leads to a good PTSA which supports the school in numerous ways.

Four, the SE Initiative is perhaps a lot of too little, too late. The district hasn't done enough to address the high schools in the south end. Indeed, Franklin used to be a sought after high school by QA/Magnolia students and now it isn't. What happened? The district built RBHS a performing arts facility and then did little to get a drama program into the school. Parents choose with their feet and no one wants to wait for things to get better. The SE Initiative may very well pump these schools up and make parents want to try to have good schools in their neighborhoods.

finance guy said...

Hi Cosmo,

At 10:27 you asked "what is the District doing to oppress south end schools?"

My two cents:

Southeast Seattle has a more special needs students. School funding discriminates against special needs students because it fails to provide enough "extra" money to pay the added costs of teaching special needs kids.

How much extra does it cost to teach special needs kids? One 2002 study from the University of Nevada (Educational Adequacy: What is it? What Does it Cost? by Deborah Verstegen) estimated ADDITIONAL costs of $12,279 for each special education student, $4,800 for at-risk students, and $2,400 for limited english proficient students (interesting note -- that study put the cost of no preschool at $13,236 per kid).

Seattle Schools uses a "weighted staffing standards" model to allocate funding. Prior to the 2008 school year they used a model they called "weighted student formula". These models provide enhanced funding for schools with special needs students. But neither model provides anywhere near the additional resources necessary to properly educate these kids -- they provide about 20 cents on the dollar.

Contrary to what you may believe, south end schools do not receive "an exorbitant amount of extra funding". While they get more dollars per student, the gap between what schools have and what they need is greater in the south.

Cosmo, you talk about racism. We are all children of our racist past. For about a hundred years it was legal to deny children an education based on color. When those laws were overturned, racism did not end -- it just became less overt. For another hundred years we had the injustice of "separate but equal". After Brown vs the Board of Education did away with Jim Crow racism did not end. Today one of the lingering forms of racism is school funding.

BTW -- One reason racism continues to persevere is that people who are united in our desire to see great schools fight amongst ourselves.

dan dempsey said...

It's always rush, rush, rush in this district. It's always about money. It's always about moving from one crisis to the next. It is so exhausting to keep up and to keep some sense of perspective.

With a board that will not follow their own policies.... is anything else to be expected?

------------------------
Support for district decisions would be substantially improved if the public had more confidence. The district does very little to earn any public confidence.

snaffles said...

Exactly HOW do parents control what is taught at a High School?

I would think Requirements for Local Technical Schools and Colleges would control what is taught as basic educational needs for High Schools?

Most (I actually believe all) Colleges require Foreign Language--it would be an advantage for all the High Schools and even Middle Schools to have foreign languages, especially in todays global environment. And a choice between 2 languages is best, 3 preferable. Spanish is a base language to many other languages, As is German, Chinese is a great base language for many Asian countries, I would guess Arabic is another solid base language, And Swahili. What is good about a base language is it allows quick transition to the other languages that build from it.

Our Schools are preparing World Leaders, Communication is extremely important, the younger the mind is to learns new word/thinking concepts of other languages-and other countries the better for all of us.

Perhaps the School District needs to hire a Team of Foreign Language instructors--Have the Instructors travel to the schools. A little research will most likely bring the most popular choices down to 5 languages (yes, some will not make the cut--perhaps these could be offered after school by an instructor) and then offer those languages at ALL schools.

We need communication for World Leaders.
And by the way: Sign Language is now considered a legitimate language credit.

I want to thank Melissa and all of you, because this is a great place for communication and ideas!

Keep up the good work!

AutismMom said...

Interesting post finance-guy. Here are the actual data regarding special education service per cluster.

The average, for ordinary schools in Seattle is 12.8%, with another 1/2 percent served outide regular schools.

% special served in each cluster.

Central 12.7%
Qa-Mag 13.8%
N 15.0%
NE 12.0%
NW 12.2%
S 10.1%
SE 13.8%
WS-n 14.0%
WS-s 16.0%


So, I don't see particularly large special ed service in the South cluster, it serves the fewest. True, NE and NW clusters serve the least number of students after the S cluster. West Seattle (south) is clearly overloaded. Of course, there could be other special education discrepancies not accounted for in the "numbers served" data. For example, what kind of service?

I completely agree with you that the funding differential of a few hundred dollars per student does not adequately meet any significant challenges. Even if it adds up to a few 100,000 dollars at a given school. That is really only a couple teachers... at the very highest end, and does not amount to a comprehensive services required.

seattle citizen said...

Wealth = better schools
An old saw, in these threads, but true. How do we analyze the impact of wealthier neighborhoods on their schools is the question.
Here's my two cents:
1) Money isn't enough. True, wealthier neighborhoods raise more money for their schools, but no so much compared to overall budgets. And poorer schools do get more state and federal money, so maybe that's a wash, or maybe even poorer schools get more money. It hasn't seemed to help.

But money often means highly educated parents, often themselves the children of highly educated parents who were the children of highly educated parents....a cycle of educated parents educating their children who educate their children, geometrically increasing the base-line education of these youth while children of uneducated parents maintain a flat-line of preparedness, if that makes sense.
So if money = more education, then:
2) Parent education and support seem to be the largest determining factors in school "quality." Why?
a) parents educated = children educated = educated school population = education-oriented school
b) parents educated = parent power = more demands on district and school staff: parent/guardians are "on it" and watchful, and also savvy to the system and how to work it.
c) parents educated = less need for "special" services to bring students "up to par" = more at-level or advanced courses.

It comes down to that: Parents who are highly educated get better education for their children.

The problem is how to educated ALL parents so they can advocate for their children. Either that, or the more-educated parents should, as a matter of the heart, give up a bit more and advocate for ALL children because the educated parents have been blessed with a quality education (and often the money that might associate with that) while the poorer families have not.
So:
Transform schools into 18-hour education centers that teach any age. Use the facilities and resources to educate and advocate for ALL parents. Make EVERY parent smarter so they can make their kids smarter. That's MY answer.

Charlie Mas said...

The number and variety of classes that a high school can offer is a function of the school's enrollment. In short, the school can offer any class that at least 27 students want. In a large school like Garfield, that baseline can be met for a variety of world languages. In a small school like Rainier Beach it can only be met for one.

It's really that simple.

On top of that, there comes a chicken and egg problem.

1) There aren't enough students at Rainier Beach High School who want a German class to justify a class so Rainier Beach does not offer German. See 2.

2) Rainier Beach does not offer German, so students who want German classes do not enroll at Rainier Beach. See 3.

3) Students who want German classes do not enroll at Rainier Beach, so there aren't enough students at Rainier Beach High School who want a German class to justify creating the class. See 1.

This same spiralling cycle of diminishing enrollment and opportunity plays out in a number of schools in a number of programs. Leschi's Spectrum program is ineffective because it is small and it is small because it is ineffective.

The cycle can only be broken by the District. They have to pay for a class even if there aren't enough students to justify it. This is a very expensive venture that presents a lot of risks.

First, it is hard to justify a class for very few students when there are other classes that students want or need. It creates a political risk to have an AP Statistics class for twelve students when there are twenty students who want to re-take Integrated Math 1 and have to do it after school. There are complaints like this at Garfield right now.

A second risk is what if you build it and they don't come? What if the District underwrites the expense of that AP Statistics class for three years, four years, five years, and the enrollment never does go up? When should they stop? They have to do it for at least three years to attract the enrollment of students who want the class because they take it as juniors and seniors. So the class has to be there for at least a year before they enroll and then for the two years that they are in grades 9 and 10. Only in the fourth year will you see students enter the class because it was there when they enrolled.

It is a big gamble in a small school.

rugles said...

Why bother talking about closing Montlake, a popular school that is doing well?

Too small to be efficient? Show me some numbers. And if it is too small to be efficient, then isn't it also too small to make much difference in the budget. A little like Ron Sims cancelling the King County Fair.

Is large enough to be efficient but not, better?

"Decrepit"? I doubt the kids care much.

Adhoc said...

I agree with rugles! I would consider any school that is doing as well as Montlake to be efficient. It is popular and it offers outstanding academics. I is successful by all accounts. We should study the school and try to replicate what is working there, not close it. I don't really care if it's building is small, or it's lot is small, or if it is in need of repair and remodeling. Lets let this little gem continue to offer a top notch education to those children it serves. This district needs MORE Montlakes not less.

reader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

Good questions. I'll do my best to answer them.

"Too small to be efficient? Show me some numbers."

The numbers are available, but let me tell you where they come from. Every school, regardless of size, has costs associated with just keeping the building open and operating.

These costs include the expense of the principal, the secretary, a half-time assistant, a half-time librarian, a half-time counselor, and a one day a week nurse. This is the core staffing allocation for elementary schools of less than 300 students.

In addition, there are the costs of keeping the building lit, heated, clean, and in good order - mowing the grass and such. This is no small expense.

On top of that, there are transportation expenses for running buses to and from schools.

If Montlake were to close and that school's enrollment consolidated into Stevens, then all of these costs would be eliminated. The savings would probably run in the range of about $500,000.


"And if it is too small to be efficient, then isn't it also too small to make much difference in the budget."

Is half a million dollars a year too little to bother with? I don't think so. I'm not interested in trying to come up with the money.

While it would be impossible to do any real attribution analysis, I find it very hard to believe that the building - either its location, size, or condition - is a significant contributing factor to Montlake's success. Wouldn't the students - the very same students - be just as successful with the very same teachers and the very same community in another nearby building - such as Stevens?

To suggest otherwise is to either contend that the building is source of the success at Montlake - not the teachers, the students or the community - or to contend that the Montlake success is predicated on the exclusiveness of the community. Are we to believe that the students would not do as well if some of the Stevens students were in the same building or - gasp - the same classroom with them? I cannot find either of these contentions credible.

So if we can have the same excellent results and save a half a million dollars every year, why wouldn't we want to do that?

While this argument might be used in the effort to preserve Montlake, doesn't it implicitly argue in favor of closing Rainier Beach High School? After all, wouldn't it be judged a failure by all of the same measures that declare Montlake a success?

You should be careful about making a numbers argument. If the numbers are shown to go against you, then you could find yourself either losing all credibility or arguing for the other side.

Adhoc said...

Charlie, where would Stevens move if Montlake took it's building? Stevens is full with a WL, so they couldn't share the building with Monlake, could they?

I wouldn't compare RBHS to Montlake because I believe that Montlake is earning their keep so to speak. Though small, they have a program operating at 100% capacity, in high demand with a WL. RBHS on the other hand is not operating efficiently. The school is 2/3 empty, doesn't attract neighborhood families and its performance is very very poor. The majority of families that live closest to RBHS don't choose it. The program is limping along and wasting resources as it goes. I am in favor of closing and/or consolidating RBHS. I would hardly compare RBHS to the thriving, popular, high performing, though small, Montlake.

Surely there are creative solutions to keep a successful program like Montlake alive. Maybe they can share buses with nearby TOPS or Stevens or share a principal and nurse with another smaller school. Have a low maintenance yard, etc.

And yes, you could certainly move Montlake into another building, outside of their neighborhood and community, but would that really work? Most families in Montlake can easily afford private school, but choose Montlake because it is a high performing school in the heart of their neighborhood. Most children walk to school. I don't think it's exclusivity as much as it is convenience, community, neighborhood, and high performance. The very things most of us wish we had in our neighborhood schools. That's why I say we should have more Montlakes not fewer.

I know how important the budget is, especially at a time when the district is facing a deficit, but I believe strongly that there is a broad spectrum of criteria to use to assess how efficient a school is. How successful are they? How popular is the program? Do they perform at or above standard? Do they use best teaching practices? Have low teacher turn over? High ranks from parents and students? Is the program in demand/full? The dollars spent are an important part of, but not the only piece of the efficiency equation.

reader said...

The Times reported that Montlake's roof repair (along with some repairs at McClure) cost $640,000 alone. Then, I'm sure any major upgrade would be many millions. At this point it's unavoidable. It's not about "the kids don't mind", it's about safety, liability, and ongoing major and minor upgrades. So how much can/should we spend on 235 kids? (Fewer than Ranier Beach) 5 million? 50 million? Montlake could have been merged with MLK, but no, that was also unacceptable.

reader said...

BTW. Of course we all wish we had a small, intimate, caring, high performing, neighborhood school... complete with lots of bennies. So, I agree that it would be great to have lots of schools like Montlake, and also great to have schools with reduced class size. But, as a state and as a city, we haven't funded our schools in a way that makes that desire possible. So, it isn't really equitable to fund those things for some schools, because historically they've always had those benefits, but not fund them for everyone, especially when we're going to be facing unprecedented calls to belt tighten... across the board.

Melissa Westbrook said...

My purpose in mentioning Montlake was to point out if you are looking strictly at building condition/site as your criteria to close a building, Montlake would be on that list. Will they close it? Unlikely. (I found it quite amusing that a number of Montlake parents who wrote to the Closure and Consolidation Committee would open their e-mail with "I'm a lawyer" or "My husband is a lawyer"; that set the tone for sure.)

The point is that they can only portable/shore up Montlake for so long. The district is NOT going to rebuild for the same size and the site is not big enough for a bigger school (according to Facilities). As a district, no program can be justified to have a rebuilt building for so few kids. For example, South Lake High School (a re-entry high school) was rebuilt for a modest $14M. Most elementaries are in the $35+M range. The district can't ask taxpayers to pay a high price for such a small number of students.

Yes, program is important but that's not what these closures are about.

pollyanna said...

"I agree that it would be great to have lots of schools like Montlake, and also great to have schools with reduced class size. But, as a state and as a city, we haven't funded our schools in a way that makes that desire possible. So, it isn't really equitable to fund those things for some schools"

Yes, Reader, you are right if every kid doesn't get the exact same thing you could say that is not equitable. So if we go with that philosophy there is a lot of cleaning up to do around this district.

We can start with Roosevelt and Garfield - we better get rid of their strong, competitive, nationally award winning jazz bands because some schools don't have a jazz band at all.

And why in the world would we allow Eckstein to offer 3 foreign languages to their 1250 students, when Salmon Bay doesn't offer any.

And, Salmon Bay should be ashamed of themselves offering only 300 seats in their middle school while mega Eckstein has to serve 1250.

Thornton Creek and AS1 better stop all of those field trips, camping trips and ski programs that my child in a traditional school does not get. If all kids can't have fun then no kids can!

And just whose in charge of Ballard, and what do they think they are doing offering a stellar bio tech program that no other school offers. Get rid of it. Now!

And how snooty are Ballard, Roosevelt and Garfield to offer many more AP classes than every other school in the district, all while poor poor Hale, doesn't offer even one self contained AP class. Well one way to solve that problem. No more self contained AP classes for any school!! Yeah!! No equity issues there.

And while we are at it lets get rid of Roosevelt's stellar drama program and dedicated drama teacher, after all the other schools just can't compete with that. Definitely not equitable.

And why leave out sports. Hale has a no cut sports program. It's simply not euqitable that kids at Hale get a guaranteed spot on their sports team of choice, when kids at other schools can be cut. How did this happen. What have our schools come to??

And Center school better move to a regular building, for gods sake why should they have access to a food court when other kids have to eat cafeteria food. We should protest.

And Nova, well they are riding pretty high with their vegetarian chef. Geez, who let them get away with that? I want a name.

After all if one school can't have something no school can right??

I tried to be humorous, but really, what a sad mentality.

Lately, when I start thinking negatively I think about Obama. I try to imagine what he would say if faced with the same issue. And, lately, I have been a lot more open minded and a lot more positive.

The negativity era, gotta get mine days are over folks. Lets think globally.

Charlie Mas said...

If the Montlake students moved into Stevens, then where would the Stevens students go?

They would go to T T Minor.

If Montlake were closed, then the reference area for Stevens would be pulled north and the reference area for all of the other central cluster elementary schools would be pulled north as well. When the reference areas were right-sized, much of the homes now in the Stevens reference area would find themselves in the T T Minor reference area.

Look, closing Montlake based entirely on the building condition is one possible solution. I happen to think that it's a pretty stupid one. I, personally, think that there are other, better solutions to filling the excess capacity in the Central Cluster.

My preferred solution - right now - would be to convert the African-American Academy to a K-5 and place it in either T T Minor or Thurgood Marshall. That would fill the schools very nicely and it would allow the District to put The New School in the AAA building, put a new middle school in the Southshore building and close Aki Kurose.

Surely the savings from closing Aki Kurose would be greater than the savings from closing Montlake. Surely it costs more to provide power, heat, and maintenance to a building four times bigger.

Moreover, I think that using building condition as the guide for school closures is to have the operational tail wag the academic dog. Operational decisions should be made in service to academic priorities, not the other way around.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Pollyanna, I know you were trying to use humor to make the point (and I get it) but I want to correct some errors in what you said.

-equal does not = equitable. Equal means everything exactly the same and equitable means dealing fairly with all. That would mean, for example as a baseline for high schools, all of them would offer music and drama. Now how much or how it is run is up to the school but in the name of equity, all schools would offer them.

-Hale does have a couple of separate AP classes. That's the irony of their stance on no stand-alone AP; they actually do have them for subjects that which they cannot cover the AP material separately. I think they have AP Statistics and AP French/Spanish as separate classes.

-also, Hale's no-cut policy may mean everyone is technically on the team but whether you get playing time is another question. My son was on the Ultimate team and they never played him and he finally quit. In retrospect, it would have been better and less humilitiating to him to not have made the team at all.

But you made a good point about how programs are diverse in our district. This is one issue I see for the assignment plan as a problem. Past staff and Boards allowed programs like alternative schools and biotech to just sprout up. Now that they want to go back to a feeder system, well, then you get calls for access when it's not possible. That's what should be debated at these upcoming assignment plan meetings.

SE Mom said...

"But you made a good point about how programs are diverse in our district. This is one issue I see for the assignment plan as a problem. Past staff and Boards allowed programs like alternative schools and biotech to just sprout up. Now that they want to go back to a feeder system, well, then you get calls for access when it's not possible. That's what should be debated at these upcoming assignment plan meetings."

I'd like to support folks going to the upcoming assignment plan meetings. The District seems to be genuinely soliciting input and this is your chance! Very few parents went to the one meeting I attended.

There are issues of equity in high school programming and this needs to be seriously addressed as part of changes to the assignment plan.
Probably the issue is more basic than one of assignment.

It is a chicken and egg dilema - add more programs at RBHS, for instance, and hope that will attract families increasing the student body numbers and justifying the expense. Or assign families to RBHS and add programs as the school attendance numbers increase.

I would say that it is not equitable that there is really no high school orchestra programs offered in southend high schools. None! There is a string ensemble at Sealth that has less than 10 kids in it.

But because Sealth has the IB program now, we'd be willing to deal with a small music program.
There is no draw for us at the other southend high schools.

I don't buy Pollyana's premise that the southend schools are doing a good enough job because they offer what she thinks families want.

I find it tempting to say that either there should be equitable offerings at all high schools - music, languages, AP, sports, drama - or keep high school assignment as a total choice option.

But really, the district needs to do the right thing and go beyond the SE Initiative to get those SE high schools up to par for all students.

Charlie Mas said...

The District has yet to establish a baseline that all schools must offer. They should.

The District is talking about moving Summit, but hasn't said a word about where it might go. That scares the crap out of people and creates opposition. Doing things this way is cruel and counter-productive. Don't say even one word about moving Summit without talking about where it would go and how that space could be made to fit the program.

The whole idea of using building condition as a criteria for closure is backwards. The building condition is completely under the District's control. They decide who the winners and losers are on that score and then turn around and pretend that it is some sort of natural fact? It's not. Building condition is a direct consequence of District action and nothing more.

TechyMom said...

Maybe this is a dumb question, but sometimes dumb questions lead to interesting answers...

Why is it that that the size of a school's lot has to limit the size of the school? Is there a rule that says you can't build a 4 or 5 story elementary school on a small lot? Whose rule is it? Can it be waved? Has anyone asked?

Montlake is a great program in a great location, but the building is small and in poor repair, and the lot is small. Could that building be rebuilt taller, allowing another 100-150 kids access to that great program? If not, why not?

Then, close one of the low-performing, unpopular programs in the Central Cluster. Surely there must be a bad building that also has a bad program?

S said...

(Following Charlie Mas) "The District is talking about moving Summit, but hasn't said a word about where it might go. That scares the crap out of people and creates opposition."

What does the School Board plan to do with the IEP students at Summit? Specifically, those IEP students who have been to *all* available SPS schools and then told that Summit's program is the *only* program that can properly support and educate them? This was directly from SPS officials. This is one of the elements that highlights the danger inherent in the School Board's speed on this issue.

And as for the information garnered in previous years by SPS.. I had a chance to see the actual rubric used by officials to determine the capacity of a school facility. It actually would have you believe that a 100,000 sq ft building could provide for 850 students if you assume 100 sq feet per child and then subtract 25% for program facility spaces (art space, band, etc.). Funny, isn't it? I would have thought that [(100,000 divided by 100) mulitplied by .75] = 750 students. There was nothing stated about additional factors. If this represents the "high" level of information quality to be found in previous reports, then it behooves the School Distric to slow down and assume a mantel of due diligence and public responsibility.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Techymom, that's a good question. It's just Facilities talk "you have to have X acres for X kind of school". It's probably based on some national standard for space needs (playground for elementary, labs for middle/high school, etc.) But no, I've never seen any real "rule book" for it.

I'm not suggesting Montlake would be closed. Again, I'm just advocating that every building be examined. I imagine that if we had two buildings of poor condition, the district would close the one with the less successful program. Montlake isn't one of those. (I felt in the last closures that the Committee was told there were no sacred cows but as it turned out, there were.)

pollyanna said...

S, an IEP is not a specific service or program. It is term to categorize students that have an individual education plan (IEP). It encompasses a broad spectrum of services. What services does Summit offer that all other schools fail to offer? Your statement is way to vague. AS far as I know Summit does not even offer a special ed program of any sort. They are an alternative school because they have a unique philosophy, with hands on, experiential learning, and a focus on visual and performing arts. hey are not a safety net school. So, how are they the only school that can serve kids with IEP's? I'd go back to the person who gave you this information, and ask.

AutismMom said...

S, an IEP is not a specific service or program. It is term to categorize students that have an individual education plan (IEP).

Well, that is the way it is supposed to work. But no, SPS forces about 1/3 of its students with IEP's into programs. Sometimes good, sometimes not good. Either way, there's no choice for those students. There are a number of those programs at Summit. There's a new autism program K-2 (only)... and there's a 1 of a kind "emotionally fragile" program which I believe is for high school only. In case you think "emotionally fragile" is some sort of luxury spa... some of these kids have been privately and/or residentially placed before being placed at Summit. No doubt at an extrememly high cost. Pricetags for such placements can run up to $200,000 per student annually. So yes, S is absolutely correct that the district should watch it step with regard to those students, and recall in detail the previous commitments and statements it has made to them.