Cheryl Chow: reviewing procedure for testimony sign-up; "taken on first-come, first-served basis", "both phone and e-mail systems can take multiple requests simultaneously." No requests received before 8 am Monday are accepted. Lengthy waitlist tonight. Reminding community about upcoming community "workshops" (Thursday and Saturday) and school building hearings (week of December 15th). In addition, individual schools/programs have arranged meetings that are listed on district website.
Asking for moment of silence: "All of us at Seattle Public Schools are deeply saddened by the deaths of two students...We also lost a great champion and supporter of our children...Lea Mong Wilson (not sure about the name and spelling)...a dynamic force in the community. She volunteered at many schools for decades. She helped the kids and families that didn't have a voice, or sometimes didn't have a meal. She will be deeply missed. Her memorial service will be this Saturday, December 6th, 11 am at the Mt. Zion church."
Testimony starts....pretty much what you would expect so far from Chris Jackins and APP parent; 3 minutes is quite short; lots of bell-ringing by Pamela Oakes; I'd strongly recommend parents practice their timing ahead of time.
One APP grandparent ceding part of time to African American Academy parent who calls her talk "You've Been Punked...Oh The Disrespect...or What's Going On." ...found out the principal of Van Asselt had been at AAA the week before the announcement checking out facilities.
[corrections in next two paragraphs below in italics made 12/4/08]
Arbor Heights co-president of PTSA, Suzette Riley, introducing other proposals for closure/merger. Emphasizing how many kids of school come from reference area. "We are a neighborhood school." #1 Wait until Denny is vacant and move Pathfinder there; #2 Close Roxill and move its students to Arbor Heights, Highland Park, and Gatewood; #3 Move Pathfinder to Cooper; #4 Move Pathfinder to West Seattle. Supporting importance of keeping Pathfinder as an alternative school in the cluster.
Second Arbor Heights parent speaking specifically in support of Cooper as the home for Pathfinder. Emphasizing how few students from neighborhood attend Cooper. Saying assignment policy shouldn't be barrier to this move since it is about to change. Third Arbor Heights parent speaking specifically in support of Roxhill being closed with kids sent to Arbor Heights, Highland Park, and Gatewood. Fourth Arbor Heights parent talking again about Cooper and the issue about where Cooper kids can go.
AS#1 parent talking about the rigidity of the criteria. "All schools are not the same." Using the criteria has resulted in mostly non-traditional programs being closed or moved. Also says Meany and Arbor Heights don't meet the criteria at all. Suggesting giving up "luxury of all-city busing." Fails to meet "equity to access" criteria.
Parent talking for coalition of schools on NE capacity issues. Questioning whether there will be any net gain from the proposal. Says Summit and AS#1 students will take up new seats. Recommends Summit K-12 be moved somewhere centrally. Says AS#1 should not be closed because of capacity issues north of ship canal.
Parent speaking on behalf of children with disabilities. Wants to make sure their needs are considered. Pointed out that these issues were not addressed well at last Tuesday's meeting, and that no one on District is overseeing this area anymore or looking out for these children's needs.
Parent advocating for closing high school in south end. Says Franklin should be closed by district standards (No Child Left Behind Level 5, location close to others, building condition poor). Says similar things about Cleveland and Rainier Beach. Argues that not closing high school results in making poor decisions like APP split, Summit K-12 to Rainier Beach, and closing Arbor Heights program.
Another Lowell APP parent, made brief remarks and then ceded time to T.T. Minor parent. "Need to follow through on previous promises..." Assignment plan is not done, needs of children have not been taken into account, and cost savings not significant enough to make disruption to kids and learning worthwhile. Talks about new principal, chess club, Rainier Scholars, Spectrum-trained teachers. Refers to "knee-jerk closure plan." (Bell ringing didn't stop parent, so Chow ends up interrupting, but parent finishes anyhow.)
PTSA co-president at Lowell speaking about special education and APP. Last night, 450 APP parents come together to hear Bob Vaughn, district staffer talk. Questioning savings and busing costs. "There has to be a better way to save money then breaking up a thriving all-city school community..."
Another Lowell APP parent...and another Lowell APP parent...unlike the Arbor Heights parents, these remarks don't seem coordinated across parents, so there is a lot of repetition of parents. Main point seems to be that program is very successful and shouldn't be broken apart. Also point out that it is crucial to children whose needs aren't met elsewhere and who are sometimes badly treated by other children. Concern around proposed new APP locations and transportation time. (I didn't follow this part as well as others because I was also cooking dinner and feeding my kids. But I think the discussion on this blog over the last few days should give you a good idea of what was said.)
A Meany parent..."at Meany every teacher knows every child, and every child knows every teacher." Talking about "superstar" teachers, ability to connect with kids...personal attention. Mentioning Jaguar Arts festival as a example of this. "One of the most diverse schools in the Seattle community." Mentions that Peter Maier is coming to Meany to talk with parents on Friday. Invites rest of Board to come also.
An another Arbor Heights parent...had been signed up with "Pathfinder" as topic, so clarified that before starting. Focusing on district's "core beliefs" being violated by this proposal. Repeats points from previous Arbor Heights parent about being a "community school." Is teacher on Mercer Island who chooses Arbor Heights over Mercer Island schools for her kids...talks about lack of plan for where Arbor Heights kids will go.
Summit K-12 parent ceding time to African American Academy parent. K-5 scholars have always been succesful. 6-8 students struggle in math, but so does rest of the district. Why does Aki (Step 5 school) get Southeast Initiative money but AAA (also Step 5 school) gets closed? "Disband the academy when you close the African American achievement gap."
Summit K-12 parent says current proposal is not without merit (keeping K-12 together, having performing arts space, opportunities for social justice work), but argues for central location because of travel time and already existing access capacity for K-5 and 6-8 in southeast. Working with potential partner schools to develop a consensus-based alternative proposal.
Taking one wait-list parent since one person earlier on list was a no-show...physical therapist-assistant at Lowell in special education. "Arguing over crumbs...forfeiting the future of our children"...talking about illegal wars, financial bailout of Wall Street...arguing for income tax so rich can pay their fair share.
Taking a 6-minute break to set up next presentation by Superintendent on Recommendations for Closure.
Full slide deck of Superintendent's presentation which is coming next is already posted here. See details in next blog post.
Kennedy talking about budget first. Immediate hiring freeze at district. Other budget reductions. Didn't follow much else since I was busy reading slide deck of Superintendent's presentation.
Sundquist making a point of how "unprecedented" budget problems are right now. Inviting community to attend Finance Committee meeting as well as Board meetings.
Kennedy talking about "stuctural" problems with budget, created by way schools are funded and overcapacity problems in district.
Missed a bunch of the meeting while getting kids to bed.
- Sundquist and DeBell nominated for President; DeBell elected (only Chow, Sunquist and Carr wanted Sunquist)
- Sundquist nominated for Vice President; Sundquist elected
- Carr nominated for Member-at-Large for Executive Committee; Carr elected
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson presented flowers to Cheryl Chow to thank her for time as Board president.