- review of functional capacity numbers
- review of comments from the upcoming community meetings (tonight and Saturday)
- review of questions/concerns raised after November 25th
- review of potential final recommendations (a little early it seems to me and I have to wonder why they would do this except to draw a line in the sand to the Board)
- 3.6M in building savings from closures (hard to believe you could see this much in one year)
- Hiring freeze 2.0 M
- Central Office reductions 5.0(!)
- Transportation 2.0M (interestingly, there was brief mention of talking to principals about bell times - could later start times for middle and high schools be on the way?)
When pressed on details, Mr. Kennedy had few. I feel like this is a very optimistic savings projection.
Then, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson spoke on closure issues. She again talked about the difference between planning capacity (a formula) and functional capacity (how a building can be used based on programs in it). Later on she went into each building's planning capacity and I was astonished at some of the numbers. One, because I found, just in some documents I have at home, at least 3 different numbers (varying from 2-20) in planning capacity for some buildings and two, because, if true, some of the more popular schools (Roosevelt and Eckstein, for example, aren't overenrolled at all; huh?).
She announced that staff is now currently walking buildings to determine actual functional capacity. She didn't say which buildings but I'm assuming it's only the ones named, in whatever way, in the closure list. She said a team of teachers and principals were doing it. Seems a little after the fact.
She said that the first closure (I'm assuming the one that the Committee did) "didn't address functional because buildings closed had small populations and moved into buildings that had excess capacity." I'd have to check my notes for the validity of that statement because, off the top of my head, I'd say we DID look at functional capacity because we, too, had to consider what programs were in each building.
She also said "We understand the process of closures better now." and that there is less excess capacity in the buildings than before. Again, not sure that's true on both counts.
Then she went through every school's planning numbers. The numbers were very interesting; some schools underenrolled by a lot, some overcapacity by a lot. I started counting and we have at least 20 elementary under 350 and half under 300. That's a lot of small schools. I was astonished to see that Montlake's planning capacity is...200 (even though they have more students than that via portables). (I said this on Harium's blog but Montlake is going to have to be addressed someday. Their building is in terrible shape (despite the portables and pumping maintenance money in) and the site is very small and so it can't be rebuilt much bigger. Something will have to give someday soon.)
Other standouts from this information:
- AAA's planning capacity is 639 - that's going to make one huge elementary school for Van Asselt. Is this what is needed?
- Following up on that, why is Van Asselt afforded growth and not Summit? Moving Summit in with RBHS, affords little growth to either program and isn't that the point? If Summit were moved to Meany (813) capacity. At one point, Summit was over 700 students and I honestly believe they could get beyond that number in a central location.
- the numbers out of the NE were amazing - Bryant 67 students over, Laurelhurst 115 students over(!), Sacajawea 79 students over (I've been in that building and I don't even know how that's possible). For elementary schools, that's a lot of extra kids. Interestingly View Ridge is one kid over but maybe they were maxed out.
- New School is being built for...1,000? My initial reaction was why and even more so as the report continued.
- She got to middle schools and yes, the black hole of excess capacity. School after school has too many seats and too few students. Only Washington and Madison are overenrolled. Yes, Eckstein doesn't appear overenrolled because they put their planning capacity at 1267 ( and they have 1193). Please, we need to get past these larger middle schools. Given how underenrolled Hamilton is (950 capacity/670 enrollment), there's room to roll back Eckstein. I doubt it will happen.
- The high school capacity numbers seemed off to me and I'll have to do some checking. Roosevelt is allegedly 1741 capacity and 1675 enrolled. Huh? I have never seen that capacity number ever on any document. As well, Ballard's is 1554 and again, I've never seen that number before.
Can you say backpedal? It may not be "fiscally feasible for Summit to go to RBHS" and they may just close Summit? Did someone not do their homework before suggesting this move in the first place? Again, Summit deserves a chance at a central location and there are a couple but the Board is not pressing the staff on all options (Meany, Lincoln or John Marshall).
Again, astonishing - merge RBHS at Cleveland. A little out of left field but okay.
Another closure? There will be excess capacity at New School so they may close an additional elementary or scale back New School's grade levels. Say WHAT? They are building at this capacity for New School's Pre-K-8 program (which, frankly, would be huge at 1,000) but they also said they did this in case they needed a middle school. And now, they realize it not going to fill and they have to do something about it? They are creating more capacity in the south end? If I were on the Board, I'd press hard on this one.
Close Aki (we were all wondering when they'd get to this given that Aki is level 5 under NCLB and hasn't been restructured or reconstituted as mandated.) Move to RBHS. As well, the Bilingual Family Center would move to RBHS.
Rethinking moving Pathfinder to Cooper. Yes, that should be considered given that the last time staff was thinking about Pathfinder moving they said there were only 2 potential sites in ALL of WS/SW for a K-8 and one was High Point and the other was....Cooper.
AS1 and Summit - $936,000 (each)
Now, it was pointed out by some Board members that they want to see transportation costs for ALL the schools on the list and not just a select few. I absolutely see that these costs are way out of line but Lowell's is unlikely to get a lot better, AAA is closing, ditto AS1 (and those are still maybes) and again, put Summit in a central location and watch those costs go down.
It was funny but Director Bass asked for those extra transportation numbers and said she didn't know how hard it would be to find them. I thought, "It shouldn't be that hard but I wonder if she has had difficult getting figures in the past." Transportation costs stemming from closures (how kids are now getting from point A to Point B) should be sussed out but I don't know if it will happen.
Director Bass also said that she felt that giving certain "special dispensations" for one school doesn't strike her as fair (not to mention adding a layer of complexity to the assignment plan).
Director Martin-Morris AND Director Carr both expressed concern over the capacity issues in the NE and what losing the buildings that Summit and AS#1 in habit. (Side note: I neglected to write this down but found it in another summary of the meeting: The Northeast Cluster Coalition advocated to keep AS#1 open and giving Summit a central location so the populations of those two schools would not overload the new k-8 at Jane Addams.)
Director Maier said that they need to look ahead at how this will all work with the new assignment plan. It's huge and complex but he's right. I hope Tracy Libros is able to do some forecasting based on the choices made.
Director DeBell carefully pointed out that the district is "an organic whole". He said last time they expected to keep more students and didn't and that they do have $500,000 more because of new students enrolling this year. He wants to keep it that way. He also said that clearly parents want alternatives and the challenge was to provide them while making sure that they have rigorous curriculums.
Director Carr also said at the Tuesday work session she wants to talk about the ELL/Special Ed kids and where they will go. As well, she said they had made a commitment to Secondary BOC from dropping them in BEX III and need to honor that commitment.
Director Bass also mentioned naming opportunities including MLK, Sharples (which is what South Shore used to be called).
Director Chow also said that it was important to remember that they are talking about children's lives. She also said if we want to restrict kids to one cluster or region - 1,000 kids go north for high school - then they had to have quality schools to go to.
It feels like the Board is not inclined to close Summit and is looking for other solutions. I expect some pushback from staff so this should be interesting.
Additionally, there were Board elections. Michael DeBell is the new president, Steve Sundquist is the VP and Sherry Carr is the Member-at-Large.