I appreciated having one combined thread last week to address the "Potential Final Recommendations" presented last Tuesday, but with the upcoming Hearings this week, I think it's time to split out some of the clusters into separate threads. At Katie's request (on a previous thread), I'm starting with North and Northeast clusters where the overall capacity issues combined with the proposed closures create a confusing situation. And even though NW isn't specifically affected by the closure proposal, I'm including NW here because some of the kids who go to AS#1 and Summit (and probably Thornton Creek) are from the NW cluster.
1) I absolutely agree with Katie that Summit should be moved somewhere central (probably Meany) because 1) it would help with N & NE cluster capacity issues; and 2) I don't want to see the number and variety of alternative seats in the district reduced so drastically without a through program review and a clear plan.
2) Thornton Creek needs lots of support to successfully expand in both size and grade band. I don't think the Thornton Creek staff request to expand one grade at a time is feasible, given the current capacity issues and proposed cloures, although I certainly understand why that would be desirable. Pathfinder changed from K-5 to K-8 in one year with virtually no funding and support and the 6-8 grades put in portables across the parking lot from the school, where they remain 9 years later. (see Pathfinder School History for details) Thornton Creek should work to avoid a repeat of that history.
The recent closure proposal has caused questioning of our district leadership about whether or not they support alternative schools. I laughed out loud when Carla Santorno said that some alternative programs benefited from the proposed closures, citing the move of Nova to a "better" building (which is not what that school community wants) and the move and expansion of Thornton Creek. I have news for Carla, being asked to move, expand grade-bands quickly, and welcome many incoming families from a school like AS#1 that has a different educational philosophy is not a desirable situation! I hope Thornton Creek K-8 thrives, and a I believe it can, but only with a ton of hard work by staff and parents, and some luck.
3) And what about the new K-5 school at Decatur? How is the district going to set up a successful new neighborhood school quickly? Will hiring start earlier this year? And what can other schools in the cluster do to support it?
4) The north-end middle school situation and discussion that has emerged on this blog goes far beyond my knowledge, so I'll just mention that Hamilton is affected by the current APP middle-school split proposal.
So what is your take? Have any ideas better than the ones proposed by the district emerged this week during discussions? And do you think the Board and district staff are hearing them?