Thursday, November 13, 2008

Let's Talk Closures

School closures are on a fast track. The Superintendent will make specific recommendations to the Board in about two weeks. Two months after that it will be all decided. So what makes sense to you?

Here's what makes sense to me: Close schools where we have excess capacity.

Rainier Beach High School has more excess capacity than any other building; close it. Most of the students can find a seat at Cleveland, the rest can find a seat somewhere else. Of the 409 students at Rainier Beach in the October 2006 count, 246 lived closer to Rainier Beach than any other high school and 62 lived closer to Cleveland. There is room for those 308 at Cleveland. The rest can find seats at the schools near them or other schools. Closing Rainier Beach High School will save a lot of operational dollars because it is such a large, sprawling building and so expensive to power, heat, and maintain.

Central Cluster elementaries have a lot of excess capacity and so does The African-American Academy; reconstitute the AAA as a K-5 and place it at T T Minor. This will satisfy the federal mandate that the AAA reconstitute, will put it in a building well-suited for it by size, location and configuration, and will take up the excess capacity in the Central Cluster without closing any buildings. T T Minor students can either join the AAA or move to another school in the cluster.

Aki Kurose has a lot of excess capacity; close it. The program is under federal mandate to close or be reconstituted. A turn-around simply isn't possible without consistent leadership and the school will have four different principal in four years. Just close it and open a new middle school in the Southshore building. The District will save money because the brand new Southshore building will be less expensive to operate than the Sharples building where Aki Kurose is housed. The New School was going to move into the Southshore building, but they can move into the African American Academy building instead.

With these three moves, the District can close Rainier Beach, Aki Kurose, and Columbia. There are other changes needed - for example, there is excess capacity in West Seattle elementaries - but these moves are obvious and low impact.

41 comments:

zb said...

I think the building has to be taken into account. They're closing buildings (programs, should, at least theoretically, be movable). So, the maintenance of the building, and whether the building can sustain the kinds of programs required needs to be taken into account, too.

Also, we need to take into account where the kids live (not just whether there's at this moment over capacity). Little kids should not have to be shipped across the city for school, and if that means keeping some under-subscribed schools open, we have to do it.

Trish Dziko said...

Charlie, T.T. Minor has a very successful Montessori program. Two of my 4 children there are in that program. What would you do with that?

If you moved AAA there, would you force AAA to do the Montessori program?

Would you just trash the Montessori program or would you move to someplace else?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I can see the wisdom in closing under enrolled schools like Rainier Beach, but the stats show that over 1600 current high school students live closer to RB than any other school.

It's obvious that the school is not currently giving the neighborhood what it wants. If the District does close the school, I hope they will consider reopening it with a new administration and a desirable curriculum to attract students back. No one down here really wants their kids on Metro for an hour+ each way.

I'm guessing that the stats are similar for Aki Kurose as well. So, these schools are not under enrolled because the kids live elsewhere; they're under enrolled because they've been rejected by a VAST majority of the families in the neighborhood.

Closing them without planning for desirable alternatives in the near future will sentence southend kids to long bus rides for a long time.

pollyanna said...

Charlie, if RBHS closes then there will be a lack of capacity in the south end. Your figures only account for the 400 or so kids currently enrolled at RBHS. What about the droves of families in the RBHS community who reject the school and go north, go private, or go out of district to Mercer Island? I believe these families would stay local if they had satisfactory school options in their own community - nobody wants their child to have to travel across town, or pay high for private school, or send their kid to ANOTHER SCHOOL DISTRICT. They do it out of desperation.

Instead of shuttering the RBHS building and dispersing the kids to Cleveland, I would propose re-inventing RBHS - in a big way. I would propose polling the community to find out exactly what they want in a school? What it would take for them to stay in their own community? Close RBHS for a year, work on it, and open it as a brand new school! Perhaps it could be a math and science magnet? A strong college prep school? A TAF academy? Whatever the community.

Roy Smith said...

Summit K-12 to become a K-8
(Seattle PI)
Plans announced for new school, additional classrooms in Seattle


So now it is official, there will be a "traditional K-8" in the Jane Addams building. Summit will either move or be closed - the decision apparently hasn't been made yet, and as far as I can tell there has been no discussion over where it would move to, so my bet is that it will be closed.

I expect Summit's enrollment will drop rather precipitously, even if in the end, it does get moved to a new building, so even if it does get a new building, Summit will continue to struggle because it has taken another body blow from the district, which doesn't support it.

I think it is unlikely to expect that a K-8 in Jane Addams will make a material difference in the overcrowding at Eckstein, until families can be convinced that the new K-8 will have the same sorts of opportunities for music, sports, and electives that Eckstein can offer.

Other decisions meant to relieve overcrowding in NE Cluster elementaries (quoted from the articles):
1) Change the student assignment plan for next school year to give students in overcrowded areas access to nearby schools not in their cluster. That's nice, except that who's going to take them up on it? The four elementary schools in the south end of the NE cluster are overcrowded because parents want their children at those particular schools, not because they don't have other choices.

2) Conduct "efficiency evaluations" at several schools, including Northgate and Olympic Hills elementaries, to better use existing space for more classrooms. Again, this does nothing to address the actual concerns of parents in the most badly overcrowded schools.

I have my doubts as to whether a K-8 in the Jane Addams building will attract as many students (particularly from the overcrowded areas) as people are hoping. Families who are at Laurelhurst, Wedgewood, View Ridge, and Bryant elementaries aren't looking for an excellent school outside of their neighborhood; they want to send their kids to an excellent school in their neighborhood (which they already have), and they want to know that they have access to it and that it won't be bursting at the seams. The Jane Addams K-8 doesn't fix that, and can't, given its location, even if it turns out to be a really good school (which is also not guaranteed at this point).

At the middle school level, Eckstein isn't overcrowded because there aren't other options; it is overcrowded because families have rejected the other options. I suspect that families who already want to send their children to Eckstein won't be attracted to the new K-8 unless and until the middle school program there proves itself to be comparable in quality to what Eckstein already provides.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

The people I know in the community would be happy with a good comprehensive school that had a climate of high standards and student safety (both are missing now). There are hundreds of students in this neighborhood who plan to attend college and we need a school that will prepare them for that. But if we're just daydreaming, here's what I see:

1) Utilize the performing arts center with a terrific program (drama, music, art)--but again, the standards need to be top notch (currently the music program is anemic). The drama program is a partnership with Broadway Bound which is a good start, but it has been geared to at-risk kids; it would need to be all-encompassing.

2) Utilize the location--the school is right on Lake Washingto, just blocks from the Pritchard Beach Wetland Restoration Project, and about a mile from the new Audubon Center at Seward Park. This makes it a perfect place to put an Environmental Science magnet. I know the Audubon Center has been working with RB already, so it's definitely doable.

Maybe showing the at-risk kids in this community the natural wonders of their neighborhood would be a big step in motivating them to see the opportunities the world offers.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

OOOPS...should have stated what community I was discussing: Southend/Rainier Beach--just in case some got it confused with the post on the NE overload.

TechyMom said...

Would it work to put TT Minor's Montessori classes at Madrona or Leschi? I think both have room.

Could AAA take over Thrugood Marshall, Leschi or Bagley-Gazert instead? Why TT Minor and not these? (honest question, not snark) TT Minor is a better program than some of the others, and is at the northern end of the Central Cluster, farther away from the current AAA location. There also seems to be more demand in the northern part of the Central Cluster, so rather than pushing those kids south, maybe it makes more sense to re-use one of the southern buildings? Thurgood Marshall is right by the I-90 entrance, and might be a good location for all city transportation (I don't know for sure, but it seems like it might be). I haven't heard much about Bagley-Gazert. Does anyone on the list know anything about this school?

If you close/move AAA, could Summit move to their building? That location has already been used for all-city draw, so maybe it would be a good match? That would also offer an alternative program in the South End, which doesn't have many.

Or, could Summit use the RB building? It seems like the performing arts space would be a good match for their program. Maybe another magnet school (K-12 IB?) could be started later to fill the rest of the space? I imagine some changes would need to be made to let little kids use a former high school, but I think some changes would need to be made to any building Summit moves to.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Problem is, Charlie, we don't yet know the effects of a new assignment plan. If people get less choice and less busing, they may stay local and some of these schools may fill. However, your plan does have merit.

Rainier Beach. I think no matter what, high schools that have large numbers of south end students will still have them (like Ingraham) unless southend high schools become more attractive. Pollyanna is right - the questions to ask might be, "What are the major reasons you don't choose a southend high school?" Is it more safety than anything? Is it lack of other motivated students? Is it lack of programs? And, "What would it take to get you back?") RBHS is making mighty efforts but it could help to know what is truly motivating people's decisions.

I think the reference areas might get bigger in some regions simply because the district is going to close schools. So there are no little kids who are going to be shipped across the city for elementary but their reference school might indeed be farther away.

Instead of T.T. Minor, I'd try merging Madrona and AAA. They have some similarities that might make it work. Would all of AAA kids fit? Probably not but then, if the school were moving, not all of them would join. I think moving Aki out into the new South Shore building would be a great idea and New School into AAA's makes great sense.

Roy Smith said...

If you close/move AAA, could Summit move to their building? That location has already been used for all-city draw, so maybe it would be a good match? That would also offer an alternative program in the South End, which doesn't have many.

Yes, the program could probably be moved there, assuming the facility is adequate to support the high school part of Summit. However, I am willing to bet that many of the students currently there would end up in other north end schools rather than take the very long bus ride to the extreme opposite end of the city. Even though Summit is an all-city draw, the bulk of its student population, particularly at the elementary school level, lives fairly close to the school (the same effect is even more pronounced with AS#1 and AAA). Summit as a program would survive, but the student population it serves would largely come from a different part of the city.

TechyMom said...

Roy,
I think that's ok.

The South End has very few alternative programs. I wonder if some of the problem Summit has had in filling its seats is that it has to compete with AS#1 and Thornton Creek? It wouldn't have that problem in the South End.

Some of the kids at Summit will move to other nearby alternatives (AS#1 and Thornton Creek). Some will go to the new K-8 in the same building. Some will go back to neighborhood schools. Some who currently take a long bus ride will continue to, or will now have a shorter bus ride. Some may decide to take the long bus ride.

To use myself as an example, Summit at AAA would probably be my #3 choice, behind TOPS and McGilvra, both of which I have little chance of getting into. It was further down the list at its current location. Parents in Central often list 8 or 9 schools, and are still assigned to one they didn't list. Is it the same in SE?

Charlie Mas said...

Excellent Questions! Thank you all for participating in the discussion.

solvaygirl1972 and pollyanna are correct. Rainier Beach High School and Aki Kurose are under-enrolled despite having lots of local kids who could enroll. The schools are under-enrolled because they have not provided their community with whatever it is that their community wants or needs. I, too, hope that the District will consider what the community wants and needs and will re-open Rainier Beach when they are ready to meet those needs. As for Aki Kurose, I think the Southshore building will meet the demand without needing to re-open Sharples as a middle school. Aki Kurose, however, would provide the district with a much-needed interim site in the southend. So the attractive alternative for the local kids in middle school will be Southshore and for high school it will be a totally new, re-invented Rainier Beach that will re-open with a focus that meets the needs of the community when the space is needed.

In answer to trish dziko and techymom I think they are right. I think Thurgood Marshall would be a better choice for the AAA than T T Minor. Thurgood Marshall is a larger building, it is closer to the arterial streets, and nearly all of the students now at Thurgood Marshall could fit in the open seats at Leschi. So let's say Thurgood Marshall instead.

I will note that T T Minor does not mention any Montessori program on their 2007 Annual Report in which they provide a long list of programs at the school.

I totally agree with roy smith that the decision to use Jane Addams as a K-8 is horribly misguided. It won't address the overcrowding at Eckstein nor will it address the overcrowding at Laurelhurst, Bryant, and View Ridge. It demonstrates a grotesque misunderstanding of the community's needs. Providing out-of-cluster transportation to undesirable schools even further away is not a solution either.

The way to address overcrowding at Eckstein is to create another school that has what Eckstein has - a comprehensive program and challenging curricula. The upper grades of a K-8 can't do that, but a middle school at Jane Addams could.

The way to address overcrowding in the elementary schools in the south end of the northeast region is to create another school that has what they have - a local presence. A K-8 at Jane Addams can't do that, but re-opening Sand Point elementary could.

In answer to techymom, the AAA building is too far south for the mostly northern families of Summit. Putting the school there, or at Rainier Beach, Wilson-Pacific, or Aki Kurose, would repeat the mistake of putting an all-city draw school too far from the center of the city. The right location for Summit is John Marshall. Lincoln would be a distant second.

Charlie Mas said...

There is overcapacity in the elementary schools of West Seattle. Does anyone have any ideas for right-sizing the capacity there?

TechyMom said...

While I agree that Marshall or Lincoln is a better location for Summit than AAA, and that Sandpoint is a good location for a north end elementary school, I just don't see it happening. The district wants to close buildings, not open buildings they've already closed. It seems possible to convince the powers that be to repurpose a school that's currently open, but it just doesn't seem possible to convince them to open a closed buidling.

Charlie, do you think it is? Convince me...

agibean1958 said...

Can you, Charlie, or someone else explain to me why you'd move Aki into the New School building and move the New School to the AAA? Why not just move Aki to AAA?

Why in the world would you not just leave the New School as is and move it to another building almost, but not the same? Why would Aki work better there than at the AAA?

I think I've asked this before, and I don't recall seeing an answer that makes sense.

My daughter was a student at the New School and I'm just not seeing a good reason to move a program from a building that was designed with input from parents to suit a full day PRE-K to 8 for children specifically from the general area. In this case specifically, the building and program go together.

Charlie Mas said...

agibean1958 asks an excellent question: "Can you, Charlie, or someone else explain to me why you'd move Aki into the New School building and move the New School to the AAA? Why not just move Aki to AAA?"

The AAA was built as a K-8. It is not configured for use as a 6-8 middle school. Southshore was specifically built to be used as either a Pre-K-8 or as a 6-8 middle school. Consequently, while The New School could use either building, only the Southshore building is properly configured for use as a middle school.


Then agibean1958 writes:
Why in the world would you not just leave the New School as is and move it to another building almost, but not the same?"

The New School, of course, isn't in the Southshore building. It is at Columbia right now. So leaving it "as it is" really isn't an option. Whether The New School moves to the Southshore building or moves to the AAA building is a wash for them. They both represent a change from "as it is".

agibean1958, and I suspect a number of other New School folks, is trying to create the impression that The New School is already in the Southshore building. That's not true. agibean1958 writes about "I'm just not seeing a good reason to move a program from a building"

If the goal is to have the building and the program go together, the solution would be to put the new southend middle school at Southshore rather than at the AAA. The New School can move right into the AAA no problem. It is configured for a school like theirs, it is in the right location for them (less than a mile from Southshore), and it is the right size for them. The AAA building is NOT, however, suitable for a 6-8 middle school. Southshore IS.

pollyanna said...

I have to disagree with Charlie in his thinking that families in the south part of the NE cluster would not come to a new school at Jane Adamms.

The families that live in the south part of the cluster complain about sending their kids to John Rogers, and while distance is a factor, I don't think it is the deal breaker. John Rogers, which is the only school in the NE cluster that has excess capacity occasionally, is the furthest north elementary school in the NE cluster and consequently it draws many families from the Lake City, Cedar park and Jackson Park neighborhoods - these neighborhoods have a high population of low income, and lower middle class families. Their test scores, while not bad, are certainly not anywhere near as high as Laurelhurst, View Ridge and Bryant elementary schools which draw from some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city.

So of course families living in the south part of the NE cluster won't willingly leave their high performing neighborhood schools full of affluent kids and high test scores, for a mediocre school a half hour away, full of lower income kids, and lower test scores? It's just not going to happen, and is as ludicrous as offering them spots at BF Day, Olympic Hills, and Northgate. Ridiculous.

Ok so we've established that families will not leave a great neighborhood school for a mediocre far away school. But do you think they would leave their great neighborhood school for an even better school? For a school that was unique and offered them something their great neighborhood school didn't offer them?

Lets think about an all cluster (not all city) draw school school at the Jane Addams building. If the district hurriedly throws together a k-8 without community input, innovation, planning, and foresight it will certainly be doomed, we know that. It will be as bad as forcing families into John Rogers, Northgate and Olympic Hills.

However, if this school offers a very attractive, popular, high demand program, that is not offered at Bryant, View Ridge or Laurelhurst, it may have a chance., don't you think?

If the district polled the community and ASKED them what it would take to get them to go north to the new K-8, and then implemented the results of their finding, I think the new school would have a high chance at success. It would fill a gap by providing something to the community that Bryant, View Ridge and Laurelhurst can't.

A k-8 program guarantees access to a small, in cluster, middle school - that's something no parent in the NE cluster currently has, and some want - desperately!

If this school offered a unique program like immersion, k-8 IB, or math and science magnet with traditional math families might not just come to it, they might flock to it. It's something that none of the other "great" school in the cluster offer.

And let's not forget that an all cluster draw school will offer transportation, and will now be filled with a very diverse student body, including all of those affluent kids from Laurelhurst, Ravenna, View Ridge, Bryant and Wedgewood. Test scores will be high, parent involvement will be high, fund raising will be high - and viola, a good school is born!

It would alleviate some pressure from both elementary and middle school, though I don't believe it would alleviate it all.

On Harium's blog he posted this morning that re-opening Sandpoint is off the table. Too expensive. That's really to bad because it seemed like a really viable option, and made sense. What in the world is the district going to do to alleviate the over crowding now. I believe a k-8 will definately help, and is a step in the right direction, but it will not alone solve the issue.

agibean1958 said...

Well, of course, I meant "as is" at its permanent home, not the over-crowded temp location at the old Orca building. I never intended to imply that the New School was already in the new building, which is still under construction.

Please inform me, Charlie, where you gto the information that the Southshore building was designed for use as EITHER a pre-K - 8 OR a middle school. All of the designs and documents I saw clearly indicated "pods" or sections for the three age groups of students-pre-k to 1st or 2nd, upper elementary and middle school. How would that translate to ONLY middle school?

And how exactly, is the AAA NOT able to work as a middle school, while the (new) New School building could? I'm just not seeing the difference.

jp70 said...

I agree 100% with Pollyanna. I think she covered everything I would have posted. Does anyone know if they plan to do anything with the Summit new K-8 to draw NE cluster south-end families and whether they are going to make it a choice school or draw boundaries (can they force families to go to a K-8 with the new student assignment plan or is this going to be a school people can choose).

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't know specs you are looking at but every single one I have seen say that the South Shore building is being designed as a pre-K-8 OR middle school. Every single memo I have ever seen references this. They are ultra-careful to never say they are building this just for New School.

TechyMom said...

There are other K8 reference schools in the district, so the district can, if they choose to, make the new one a reference school and redraw the boundaries. I'm not advocating either way, but they can if they want to.

Roy Smith said...

Charlie, the middle school portion of a K-8 could offer a comprehensive program and challenging curriculum such that it would be an attractive alternative to Eckstein, but it would take time and effort to develop it, and more time for the uncertainty among parents about whether it would be a good alternative to Eckstein to be laid to rest.

Pollyanna, you say "However, if this school offers a very attractive, popular, high demand program, that is not offered at Bryant, View Ridge or Laurelhurst, it may have a chance., don't you think?" Yes, it would have a chance, if that happens, but again, it would probably take quite a bit of time for it to be recognized by parents as being something worth passing on their excellent neighborhood school for.

In short, given lots of focused attention and funding, five years from now the Jane Addams K-8 might be doing what the district seems to think it will be doing next fall.

And that is all predicated on the focus of attention and support being there (in which area the district has a notoriously poor track record), and on it being well designed in the first place.

Now, the decision to create this new school was taken yesterday. In less than 10 months this new school will open. Has ANY substantive work been done to define the program, leadership, or staffing of this new school? All anybody seems to know at this point is that it will use the Jane Addams building and it will be a non-alternative K-8.

Some questions that still need to be answered:
1) Will it have its own elementary school reference area? Will families be assigned to it against their will? (Some parents have a really difficult time with the idea of their kindergartner being in the same building as 7th and 8th graders, particularly in a large school, which this looks like it will be.)
2) How will it fit into the larger middle school assignment plan?
3) Will it take on additional students at the middle school level (like Salmon Bay), or will it serve basically the same cohort that moves through elementary school there (like Broadview-Thompson)?
4) The answer to 3 will probably impact the types and extent of music, sports, and electives that can be offered at the middle school level.
5) Who's going to be the principal? If there is any chance of this being successful, the new principal better be named within a few weeks. Ten months isn't long at all to build a brand-new school.
5) Will it have a Montessori program? Spectrum? What types of Special Ed programs, if any?
6) Will it immediately start out as a K-8, or will it be something else (for instance K-1, K-3, K-5) that will grow into a K-8?

And those questions are just things that come immediately to mind, I'm sure there are hundreds of others.

zb said...

I think people in NE would be attracted to a K-8 at Jane Addams if it had an immersion program --perhaps in Mandarin. The Asian population in NE is pretty robust, and Mandarin would be an attractive option for others as well. I think it could just pull enough students from the other schools to make ease the neighborhood burden.

But, what people with choices desperately want is stability. There has to be follow through and commitment.

Oh, and I'd be happy having some short term instability, i.e. getting rid of the sibling preference for out of reference area students to produce more long term stability.

And I don't think the Center School is viable.

Charlie Mas said...

I agree that families from south of 65th would voluntarily send their children to a K-8 at Jane Addams IF the new school had an attractive signature program and IF the families had confidence in that program. But, since we have no real reason to believe that Jane Addams K-8 would have an attractive signature program and we have no real reason to believe that families would have confidence in that program, there is no real reason to believe that they will choose the school.

If agibean1958 will visit the web page for the capital project for the South Shore building, you will see that it clearly states, right there on the home page "Flexible for use as a K-8 or 6-8 middle school"

If you read the bond and levy brochure, you will see this description of the South Shore project "Changing demographics in the area create a need for a flexible building able to accommodate a K-8 or 6-8 middle school with a capacity of 1,000 students."

This has been the District's claim from the start, one they have frequently repeated. I don't know how you could have missed it.

I hope this provides you with the documents you need to understand my perspective.

The African American Academy was built in 2000 specifically as a K-8.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

This is such a good thread. I hope someone from the District is reading it. Roy Smith brings up a very good point. Within the boundaries of the existing choice program a new school (the K-8 at Adams) or enhanced program (the Southeast Initiative) will be given a "wait and see" approach by families who can choose to go elsewhere.

Couple that with, as Smith so eloquently puts it, the "notoriously poor track record" of focused attention and support the District is known for giving new programs and you have a recipe for failure.

So much is going to depend on the structure of the new assignment plan. I have some hope though that Dr. G-J is really trying to make a difference. She has no proprietary interests in the current system so she is open to suggestion. I'll be attending the roundtable at Columbia Library tonight about why parents are considering/choosing independent schools over public. Just the fact that the District is asking the question is a good sign to me.

Charlie Mas said...

In an op-ed in today's Seattle P-I, Andrew Kwatinetz and Charles Rolland ask: how will closing schools improve academic achievement?

Last time the District closed schools they claimed (though not loudly enough or often enough) that the students would have more and better academic opportunities in the consolidated schools. This administration - which doesn't seem to scratch unless it can be shown to improve academic achievement - has been silent on how these closures will contribute to that effort. The closures have been presented purely as a cost-cutting effort.

They better point up some benefits for the relocated students and their families, starting with Summit K-12.

Comic relief said...

Why don't we move Eckstein to Roosevelt and Roosevelt to Lincoln and a k-8 at eckstein?

RB1986 said...

Regarding the new K-8 at Jane Addams: One of the district's presentations pointed out that the NE elementary schools have enough space to roll up the current students but NOT enough space for the same number of K classes next year. If most of the 6 NE schools have 1-2 less K classrooms next year then that means 5+ K classrooms for the new K-8 (heavy on the K).
It would be super if the district could provide an attractive magnet program at the K-8 right away but even more important is for the parents/families to embrace this new school and CHOOSE to make it a success.

agibean1958 said...

Well, color me stupid then. I admit to not reading every line of the plans, but in the two years I was at the school, do not recall any of the drawings or displays mentioning use of the Southshore building as a middle school only.

But my question remains-I've been in the Aki building many times (daughter attended there). I've been in all parts of the AAA (we considered sending our younger one there), and I've seen the physical plans for the New School.

What makes the AAA building itself unsuitable for a middle school? Unless I've gone completely senior moment-like, my recollection is that the AAA is pretty similar to the building being built in design, in that it is being used to keep older students separate from the younger ones and has a typical catch-all gym/stage and also a smaller theater/lecture area, etc.

Is it that there's not enough science-ready rooms that a full middle school would need? Too small, period? Not new enough?

I'm honestly curious, because I'm not an education geek like most of you, just a former New School parent who finds this blog often has good information about the direction the district is going. It won't affect me personally if your ideas about closing Aki and the AAA and moving the New SChool happen, but since Charlie brings it up every few weeks, I'd like to know how the AAA can't work as a middle school.

Charlie Mas said...

If it is too expensive to ever re-open Sand Point, then why does the District continue to own the property? What's the point of retaining ownership of closed schools if not against the day when we might need to re-open them?

And if we are NEVER going to re-open them, then there is no reason to continue to own them except as an investment. Do we really want the District to manage an investment real estate portfolio for the taxpayers? Do they have that expertise? Is that their core competency?

Charlie Mas said...

Honestly I don't know the details about why and how some buildings are regarded as appropriately configured for a K-5, a K-8, a 6-8, a 6-12, or a 9-12. There are plenty of examples of when all sorts of programs were made to work in all sorts of buildings. Old Hay, Horace Mann, Lincoln, Pinehurst, and Genessee Hill are all examples of buildings that have been home to grades they weren't designed for.

The main reason that the AAA building won't work as a 6-8 middle school for southeast Seattle is because it has a capacity of only 650 students. The South Shore building will have a capacity of 1,000. That's the size needed to provide adequate capacity for a comprehensive middle school in that area.

Charlie Mas said...

Comic relief writes:
"Why don't we move Eckstein to Roosevelt and Roosevelt to Lincoln and a k-8 at eckstein?"

What if Hale moved across the street into Jane Addams, Eckstein moved north to Hale and Eckstein were opened as a K-8?

pollyanna said...

That's brilliant Charlie, and would make 100% sense!

Adamms has about 800 seats, which would be tight but could fit Hale and allow them to remain a small school.

Hale has about 1200 seats, which would comfortably fit all of the Eckstein kids and rid them of the need for permanent portables.

Eckstein has about 950 seats (not including the portables) which would be more than generous for a large k-8 to grow into, and be in a much better location in the cluster to draw the families in the south part of the NE cluster!

Brilliant!

pollyanna said...

The only issue I can see with the above proposal by Charlie, is that Eckstein is the only middle school in the NE cluster and it is centrally located, smack in the middle of the cluster. I would imagine that families in the south part of the NE cluster would not like the middle school to be located so far north, and would probably create a big fuss over it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not bad, Charlie; you should get this off to the Board right away.

But naturally, it's waaay too out of the box. And Hale would be very unhappy. Did you forget - they have a rebuild going and then to have to turn it over to Eckstein (even though Summit could easily be a high school) and you would have to do some remodeling at Eckstein (but they are going to do that at Blaine so it's possible). But will the Board give it a moment's thought?

Nah.

Charlie Mas said...

When the new student assignment plan is adopted every middle school will have its own reference area. When that happens, the reference area for the northeast middle school would be the same if the school were located at Hale or at Eckstein. Eckstein is more central to what that region is sure to be, but Hale is only a few more minutes north on 35th Avenue. Also, if the all-cluster K-8 were located at Eckstein then it would be more central and the younger students would have the shorter commute.

Hale, although disappointed at losing their remodel, will get to remodel Jane Addams and the smaller building will justify their smaller enrollment. It will also justify the District's inevitable decision to add more high school capacity in the north.

Has the work started on Hale? Some changes will surely be necessary (I'm not sure what) to convert it to a middle school. We don't want to tear out newly built stuff to make way for even newer stuff, like we're doing at Sealth.

Megan Mc said...

charlie mas said...
What if Hale moved across the street into Jane Addams, Eckstein moved north to Hale and Eckstein were opened as a K-8?

If the district is really looking for long term solutions then they should take this recommendation seriously.

North end middle school families would have to follow Eckstein to the Hale location - there is nowhere else for them to go. The current Eckstein location would have a better chance of attracting elementary age kids than the Jane Addams location.

Sure it will displace more than a 1000 students, but the district was willing to do it to the 500+ Summit students and they are considering shifting larger numbers of students in the South and Central clusters. Making major changes in the North End would prove that the district is serious about equity issues and isn't just preying on the less privileged schools.

Finally, any closure program that purports to move the district towards "Excellence for All" is going to require a serious financial commitment or they can kiss all these displaced families goodbye.

Comic relief said...

With the unknown status of Summit, what is the status of our alternative schools? Is NOVA at risk of being shut down?

classof75 said...

With the unknown status of Summit, what is the status of our alternative schools? Is NOVA at risk of being shut down?

Havent heard anything- Charlie would have more updated info than I.
The reason why the Summit building is being " repurposed" IMO, isn't because it is an alternative school that serves generally disenfranchised students, but because it is an attractive building on a great piece of property in a part of town that has fewer classrooms than needed for the current public school population.

Nova is in the Central District- in a very old building- across the street from Garfield which of course just opened a state of the art building.
( or close enough for my purposes)
If at some point in time- parents who wanted Garfield raised a fuss to use the Nova site for the spillover/waitlist- it is possible Nova would have to move or close. But I don't see that happening .

Charlie Mas said...

Comic relief asked:

"With the unknown status of Summit, what is the status of our alternative schools? Is NOVA at risk of being shut down?"

Yes. All schools are at risk.

NOVA - like most other alternative schools - is at a heightened risk if building condition is a leading criteria in drawing up the closure list. Because the district has chosen not to spend money to renovate or maintain the school buildings that house alternative programs, these programs are now in buildings in some of the worst condition in the district.

There are, of course, three glaring exceptions to this rule: TOPS, The New School, and the African-American Academy. These schools are all politically powerful. Nearly every other alternative school finds itself in a building rated in the lower half - if not the lower third - for educational adequacy and building condition. That includes

Also, because the alternative schools are generally small, and size is another possible criteria for closure or consolidation.

Some creative person in Facilities (if there are any creative people in Facilities) might decide that it would be a cost savings if AS#1, Summit, NOVA, elementary APP and the S.B.O.C. all shared Lincoln or Wilson-Pacific. While this is obviously a patently stupid idea from an academic and cultural point of view, it would make sense operationally. There is a serious risk that operational expediencies will dictate to academics.

So, is NOVA at risk? Of course. That risk is heightened to the extent that operational considerations drives the decision.

Rachel said...

I have never understood why Seattle doesn't get rid of the system where students or parents get to choose which school they go to rather than going to whichever is closest to their house. When I tell people from other cities that this practice is allowed they are flabbergasted. That way the schools with the fewest students living near them will get closed, and these overprivileged parents won't have any grounds to fight it.