Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Introducing Myself -- and Closures, Times Two

Thank you to Beth for inviting guest bloggers.

I moved to Seattle in the summer of 2006 and enjoyed (cough) the project of enrolling my kindergarten-aged child in the public schools months after the school choice period. After weathering a mistaken placement, my daughter landed in the Montessori program at T.T. Minor. While we were happy with her experience with the program, and enjoyed being able to take her to a neighborhood school that we could walk to from home and work, we moved her to Lowell this fall to start first grade.

So now both schools are slated for closure, and my daughter will perhaps be on to school #3. I am gathering from various discussions and blogs that this closure shuffle and the attendant displacement and displeasure is something of a biannual rite. At least, I suppose, I do not have to second-guess my decision to move her to one school from the other.

8 comments:

Lara said...

:( I feel your pain. I've been in Seattle only 1 year now, and my daughter has been enrolled in 3 schools over the last 18 months. Her current home is AS#1. What luck.

And next comes the new assignment plan! Yes, the kids will all be grandfathered in at their current schools, but I've got a littler one who will begin kindergarten in 2010. What if the new plan makes a more desirable school easier to get into? Does my daughter make the jump again, or should I keep sending my kids to different schools? Or perhaps we just move on to other systems with more stability... The district is not making it easy to hang around.

Good luck to you.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Lara's dilemma underscores my belief (and apparently former board member Dick Lily's) that the new student assignment plan should come first (horse) and then any closures needed after the District sees where the under enrolled schools shake out under the new plan (cart). Capacity could look very different than it does now.

Under the current timelime, some families may find themselves in a less desirable school to one that could be attained under the new assignment plan--resulting in at least one more session of musical chairs. But the music won't stop there either as the new plan will probably result in at least some new schools over or under enrolled, entailing perhaps at least one more round of school closures.

At the least, the District could for now concentrate on the worst buildings and leave the rest of their experiment for later.

zb said...

"Or perhaps we just move on to other systems with more stability."

This is my refrain, the reason why our child isn't in the public school system. These Lara & the post-writer are making the comment more eloquently than I can, because they get the greatest unpredictability (those who move into the system after the on time enrollment period). The choice advocates always forget about this relatively large group of people (>30%, I believe), who can move next door to a school, and can't attend it, because they moved in June (so that their kid's schooling wouldn't be disrupted).

School closures can't wait for the assignment plan, though, 'cause the assignment plan needs to include the school closures. I'd be comfortable with using building quality & location as the main driver of the closings, but I thought that's what the system had done, primarily.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am sorry this has happened to your family. It must be a hard discussion to have with a little person. It's a hard choice to have children at two different schools but I'd do it if my older child was very happpy where he or she was.

I am a little discomforted to find that despite being told that the Board was handling the closures that actually staff is and the Board is just going to decided. It is unclear to me just who came up with the criteria, staff or the Board. And the reason, it gives me pause is because (1) this is probably the hardest decision a Board member can make. I hope every Board member visits every school on this list (whether it's a school closing or moving or receiving). There is no substitute for walking through a school. (2)staff, as we see already, molds data to support their cause. And that's not just having supporting data but cherrypicking. If they use one data point (say #of 1st place choices for AS#1 then it should be a data point for ALL schools on the list). Unless this process has fairness and consistency of use of data written all over it, you'll get a lot more distrust and angry people.

But is it really just about building location and condition? No, of course not. First, how fair could that be given no school has control, at all, over either thing? Second, you would see a different list if it were just about building condition and location.

I do believe that a new assignment plan would have given us better information about who goes where but apparently closures can't wait.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Why is it that closures can't wait but trimming Central staff can? I'd like to see some major cuts there first combined with perhaps the closure of one or two schools that are the worst of the worst. Then implement the student assignment plan and work from there.

another mom said...

SolvayGirl1972, you are right. Indeed, why don't they trim central and other staff and find other ways to economize first.With the budget deficit at anywhere between 24 and 40 million dollars it will need to be done at any rate. One or two school closures now and then roll out the new student assignment plan with additional closures if necessary. Maybe it's because it makes too much sense?

Charlie Mas said...

It continues to confound me why the District is closing Lowell.

This exercise is supposed to have two purposes - to eliminate empty seats and to reduce costs.

If we are trying to eliminate empty seats, then why in the world would we think about closing Lowell - a school that is totally full?

If we are trying to reduce costs, then why in the world would we thing about closing Lowell - a school with just average non-instructional expenses?

Closing Lowell does not further either of the stated purposes of this exercise.

Beth Bakeman said...

To me, the Lowell closure seems like the most politically and ideologically motivated of all the proposals.

I believe Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is doing this because it is what she believes is right, both for APP and special education. In last Wednesday's remarks at the Board meeting, Dr. G-J gave no indication of backing down on this proposal at all.

Thiking purely pragmatically, I think the best thing for Lowell parents to do is to advocate for improvements to the proposal, rather than dropping the proposal. I've seen some creative thoughts here and on Harium's blog about alternative locations for the north-end APP site. And I hope Lowell APP and special education parents are also thinking about what they can/should advocate for in terms of promises around the upcoming changes to the assignment plan, as well as getting clarity around what the plans are for APP middle school.