Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Board Discussion of Superintendent's Final Recommendations

Overall sense: Sounds like most of the Board members are supporting most of the Superintendents Final Recommendations. I can't picture this Board giving the recommendations an overall "no" vote. I can imagine them making a few adjustments/changes before passing it. Mary Bass seems to be the most skeptical of the proposal, but does not seem as opposed to this proposal as she has been to past ones.

New: Online Q&A with Dr. G-J on 1/8 at 11 am.

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Bass removed acceptance of Alliance Grant from the Consent Agenda, which means that it gave her the opportunity to make comments on it before the vote. Suggested people who are concerned about the Alliance grant talk with Carol Rava Treat (staff member).

DeBell announced new committees for this chair. I didn't catch all the details.

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9:47 pm: Dr. G-J talking about sign-up for public hearing on January 22nd. (Strangely, she said it had been rescheduled because of weather, but that's not true.) Sign-up to speak at this hearing starts tomorrow morning by e-mail.

9:42 pm: Discussing proposed changes to reference areas. Proposed merger of Cooper and Sanislo reference area allows transporation of Cooper students to West Seattle South schools. Bass says this discussion makes it clear why assignment plan changes should happen before any school closure decisions.

9:30 pm: Dr. G-J introduces motions to change District policy as necessary to implement Final Recommendations. Motions are listed in the Superintendent's slide deck starting on slide 16. Details on each policy are listed here:

9:12 pm:

Bass: says that Summit K-12 high school portion and Nova high school are affected by proposal and either shouldn't be or need further explanation about why these two are included but not others. Mentioned Meg Diaz's data analysis and an earlier report (didn't say by who) and wants to know staff reaction to those. Disproportionate impact on the Central cluster, wants to know reason and rationale.

Dr. G-J says "staff goes with students." Can't talk about where staff go until final decisions are made about where students go.

Sundquist: raising question about what legal requirements are for special education students having access to general education students and curriculum. Santorno said it is required for special education students, but not for APP students.

DeBell talking in general support of plan and process. Asking whether T.T. Minor Montessori program should stay with T.T. Minor General Ed program in move to Lowell to keep community intact. Has APP concerns/questions as well. Echoing Director Maier's comment that having 500 families who chose Summit K-12 (an alternative school) being assigned to a traditional school isn't good. Should be given option/priority to enroll at AS#1 or Nova or whatever Summit K-12 program wants. Also Cooper program has made progress on enrollment and academics. Seems to be a lot of pride and some real success there. Needs to be examined closely. If that program is going to be broken up, need to see how to maintain that success.

Carr asking about instrumental music program at Washington Middle School and how it's success will be maintained with loss of students.

Left to be with a child scared by the storm noises; let me know what I missed.

8:53 pm: just returned from tucking children into bed; commenters can let me know what I missed.

Martin-Morris: commended staff on quality of work in final report. Concern with regard to Lowell and having students that live in Stevens reference area go to Thurgood Marshall doesn't make sense since that is within walking distance to Lowell. Other question is around African American Academy. Wondering since building was designed for K-8 space, we should think about using it as a K-8. Looking at Aki which is a K-8 right now (no, DeBell corrected him). Martin-Morris continued that AAA building might serve Aki, a middle school, to better utilize that space for what it was designed for.

Sundquist: commented on process, and his sense that it has been good. An open process that is responding to things we learn is the right way for us to do this, even though it is unsettling for the community. Question: will North and Northeast capacity issues be addressed successfully with this recommendation? In terms of Cooper, concerns about what students those schools will go to and whether these schools will serve those children well. And for APP, two risks in general; political risk of messing with a program, and implementation risk. Believe that now is not a particularly politically risky time since there is administrative/leadership support for this and broad Board support for the program. The implementation moment is more difficult, primarily because of fiscal challenges. Not an easy situation to through substantial amounts of money at to address issues. Design teams will be key to success for changes to all programs. Wants more detail on teams so have high confidence in how implementation will happen.

Superintendent's recommendations: Coming up soon, Dr. G-J will speak. Here's her presentation.

8:20 pm: taking 15 minute break

8:00 pm: CFO's presentation: Don Kennedy speaking. Here's his presentation. Changes in budget since last time spoke since Governor's budget has come out. Change from $39 million dollar projected budget shortfall to $25 million budget shortfall.

Sundquist asks about where/how costs associated with closing schools is going to be accounted for. Don Kennedy says 1.9 million cost to close schools will be 1.4 million in the current fiscal year and .5 million next fiscal year. May be able to use unspent funds from current fiscal year to cover the .5 million the following year so that it doesn't affect next year's budget.

DeBell asks where transporation cost savings (2.2 million) are coming from. Kennedy says $400,000 potential savings from closing Summit and other programs would be in addition to 2.2. million currently in budget projections.

Bass asks whether schools we are being compared to with similar numbers of students also have students with similar needs. Kennedy said in this case compared with Garden Grove School District in California with more minority students, more bilingual students, more students living in poverty, fewer school buildings, fewer staff employees, and better student outcomes.

7:17 pm: Carla Santorno update on Special Education, Bilingual Education, and APP. Here are the slides from her presentation. I would love to hear from blog readers who know each of those programs well what they think about this presentation. The goals/strategies sound good to me overall for special education and bilingual programs, but I don't know enough about them to be sure that the recomendations are good.

Spoke about Summer Institute for teachers to provide professional development to support teachers in implementing these changes.

Sundquist asked about Special Education parent reaction to Superintendent's proposal. Fred Roe said has received e-mail from parents with concerns. Also talked about meetings they have had and are going to have with groups of special education parents. Will have a SEAAC (Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council) meeting tomorrow night from 7 pm to 9 pm in room 2776 at the Stanford Center.

Bass asked about "cohorting", importance of keeping groups of children together. Santorno talks about this being important for all students, but especially for students with disabilities. Spoke about autism programs and parents raising need for middle school cohort in West Seattle and said closure proposal addresses this. Said district hasn't done well in communicating clearly and early enough with special education parents about student placement, and wants to change that.

Also asked public to call main School Board number (252-0040) to contact her to communicate concerns/questions to Mary Bass about the proposal.

7:13 pm: Michael DeBell talking about process. Tonight after Superintendent's Final Recommendations are delivered, process moves into Board members' hands and out of district/staff hands. Implementation of any recommendations approved by the Board will begin soon after vote. Assignment decisions for all affected students in February. Then "goal is to...develop a policy around capacity management...to get 'closures on closure'...we ask your patience as we work through this and thank you for all the passion that you show in support of your schools and your children."

7:00 pm: Rochelle Brown, Meany parent, "burden of budget shortfall being placed on the backs of the most disadvantaged students in our district." Meany is most diverse middle school in the district. Spoke about potential impact on special education students (25% of population).

Brendan Ford, T.T. Minor parent and former Vice Principal at Cooper. Spoke on institutional racism and classism and unfair impact on children of color and low-income children. Wants displaced children to get first priority for any seat at any school, wants design teams to focus on successful transitions for these children.

Bill Butler, African-American Academy. Asked Board members, "What do you want your legacy to be?...You have the opportunity to right a great wrong."

6:50 pm: Nathan Schwartz, Summit K-12 senior, spoke about art program, ability for middle school students to work above grade if desired.

Shelly Williams, Cooper parent, spoke about growth in enrollment, partnerships with local organizations. Said being ignored by Steve Sundquist. Spoke about institutionalized racism and challenges faced by Cooper kids.

Dan Landers, Summit K-12 parent, said Board and staff still don't understand what Summit offers. Says over 400 families choose school despite frequently being threatened by closure.

6:40 pm: Dave Overman, Summit K-12, talked about how long they have been dealing with repurposing/closure proposal, and impacts on school community. Ed Lambert, Summit K-12, not finding a home for Summit will exacerbate crowding problems in northeast closure. Spoke on rigorous curriculum that is open to all students. SPS should work to increase market share instead. Summit K-12 should not be closed prior to other high school discussions, prior to Alt. Ed. Audit, and prior to assignment plan changes. Three high school programs (SBOC, Nova and Summit K-12) are impacted by this plan despite district claim that not considering high schools in this round. Beverly Nielson, Summit K-12, who had three children who spent all 13 years at Summit.

6:30 pm: Adam Ellner, Washington Middle School student, spoke against Washington/Hamilton split. Talked about impact on music program. Also spoke against Meany closure.

Bonnie Wilson, T.T. Minor parent and part of ESP Vision, showing petition of over 1200 signatures against closures. At T.T. Minor, 16 Rainier Scholars out of 25 kids in 5th grade. All teachers Spectrum trained.

Tom Johnston, wants "win-win." Objectives need to be transparent. Was Lowell-APP recommendation about access? financials? building condition? federal regulations? Wants "open and honest discussion" about benefits of splitting program and benefits of keeping it together.

6:28 pm: Meg Diaz, Lowell parent and ESP Vision leader (who did the data analysis posted on our site earlier) spoke on the "failure" of the plan. Not enough money saved, not enough capacity gained. Ignoring lost revenue from student attrition. Massively underestimating closure/move/redesign costs.

6:21 pm: Rachel Miller and Julie Weed spoke for Lowell/APP. Rachel voiced concern about whether district has resources to successfully implement change. Suggests that APP change be delayed until new assignment plan is established. Julie spoke on equity and access issue, suggesting less biased test, more outreach, and other efforts. Suggests working to fill south-end Spectrum (which has capacity) and add new north-end Spectrum (which is full) to increase equity and access.

Jim West spoke (Montlake and Meany parent) on behalf of Central district public schools. Spoke about gang violence and importance of Central district public schools and problem of disrupting so many kids in so many Central schools.

6:07 pm: Public testimony begins; I'm not covering all testimony because I'm multi-tasking at the moment at home alone with my kids.

- Carol Simmons calls out Mary Bass for praise for attending and contributing to a UW Alumni Equity fundraiser breakfast which raises scholarship funds for children who might not otherwise attend college. Also spoke on the Alliance Grant.

- Dazanne Porter testified on behalf of the African-American Academy, covering some of the history and how AAA has been badly treated by the district.

- Ricky Malone (who I believe was past AAA principal) spoke about the uneven impact on racial minorities of closures.

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I am very intrigued to hear the Board members' questions for the Superintendent on her Final Recommendations.

Off-topic: Michael DeBell says that Dr. G-J and her husband are attending the Obama inauguration. Cool!

35 comments:

emeraldkity said...

Michael DeBell says that Dr. G-J and her husband are attending the Obama inauguration. Cool!

Doesn't the Seattle School district have some important community meetings regarding closures of schools around that time?

Lara said...

My guess is that's precisely the reason the vote is not until Jan. 29th.

emeraldkity said...

Im confused- Carla is speaking that all these level programs for high school SPED students that they are relocating out of Summit are offered at all high schools.
Well- I know several families whose kids fall in those categories, and they were told that the two closest comprehensive high schools did not have room for their student & they had to find another choice

My kids and myself are not NT- that is we have neurodifferences. My younger child was lucky to be able to attend Summit for upper elementary and middle school-she needed the continuity which translated as a comfort zone which enabled her to make progress.

Limiting transitions as much as possible for students with special needs is CRITICAL, for their ability to make progress.
She only has slight challenges compared to some of the students served at Summit.
But as it was- I could not ever move the furniture in my house or change my hair for years- because of her difficulty with change- it would have been if I moved my eyes around in my face.
Quite disturbing.

Moving students from a building that they have gotten to know, from their friends and teachers, from their siblings and the opportunity to attend a K-12 school- is going to have a huge negative impact on these families and have repercussions throughout their lives.

Is this what they want to have happen?

anonymous said...

The APP slide presentation does not address an issue that families of twice exceptional children have been raising continuously in the past year(s): what about the rights of children with disabilities to access APP if they qualify? Right now if you have a level 3+ disability and qualify for APP you are SOL in SPS. The many twice exceptional children should now be hearing about steps to right this wrong. We should not have to keep asking.

anonymous said...

I have questions too about the CAO report on special education. For the record, one key area of focus has been left off: families of children with disabilities want more choice or, at least the same amount of choice, that families of non-disabled children have.

I do not understandy why the Meany BIP students being asked to leave, when it is the recommendation of the special ed audit to keep social cohorts together. Also the students who would be going to the south or southeast cluster, shouldn't they be given more choices?

When I looked at the "guidelines" slide I noticed that that continuity of placement was not even considered. That needs an explanation. It's not ok to talk about returning children to their neighborhood schools as if it's a "win" for special ed if it is at the expense of these children's progress.

anonymous said...

I posted just now about the Meany BIP students, I wanted to ask the same about the TT Minor students.

Maureen said...

Does anyone else find Ms. Santorno's slide (p 14) on the SPS Vision for Advanced Learning somewhat less than inspiring?

Advanced Learning Programs –Vision: Every student meets or exceeds grade level expectations and graduates from high school ready for college, career, and life


So is the vision for kids who don't place into advanced learning that they almost meet standard?

...or what's a heaven for?

another mom said...

Maureen, I saw that as well and thought it odd. Isn't that what we want for all students? In the frenzy to close schools,change reference areas,split APP, and shuffle students around so fast it makes your head hurt,they may have forgotten about the vision thing. I do agree with Mary Bass, though. The district should be rolling out the new assignment plan first. As Dick Lilly said closing schools is a crazy way to make policy.

Charlie Mas said...

This bizarre Vision statement for Advanced Learning only goes to show that they don't have a Vision for Advanced Learning.

Charlie Mas said...

Ricky Malone is a past principal of the AAA. She is also the past principal of Madrona who said, at a public meeting, that having White people around the school made her uncomfortable.

Charlie Mas said...

I heard some testimony from a member of the Summit community saying that the Board member from that area felt no special obligation to represent the school just because it was in his District. Did I hear that right?

seattle citizen said...

The vision statement question:
"Advanced Learning Programs –Vision: Every student meets or exceeds grade level expectations and graduates from high school ready for college, career, and life"

Isn't the general vision statement, for all of SPS, "Every student ready for college, career, and life"? I could be wrong, but are commenters mistaking the general vision statement for a specific APP vision statement?

As has been pointed out, the above vision statement is what (one hopes) is the BASIC vision for ALL students. Maybe people are reading it as being written for APP?

Not that I've ever liked the current vision statement, "every student ready for college, work, and life." It somehow seems too matter-of-fact, heartless...There are things IN "being ready" that might be mentioned, somehow, such as citizenship, love of learning, etc...
Furthermore, in this diversified economy, all students are needing to, or wanting to go to college. Plenty of great jobs out there that are not predicated on college.

seattle citizen said...

Charlie, I think you did hear that right, and this was an issue in the last round, where at least one school on the list (that was later closed) was left flapping in the wind, Director-less, until it was pointed out publicly that this school was, in fact, the directors...then there was a whirlwind tour of the building.

momster said...

another mom, i've never understood how the district could do the assignment plan before closing schools.

how do you close an elementary school after you've redrawn reference area boundaries around it based on current and future enrollment projections, in a shape and extent that assures every student within those boundaries a guaranteed seat in it (as the new assignment plan is intended to do - even though students will have some degree of choice and may not end up using the guaranteed seat)?

when you then decide to close the school, don't you thus have a reference area without a school, and have to re-redraw the reference areas so the students in it have a different school as their reference school?

and you can't just redraw one reference area - it's a domino effect.

they have to know what schools they're drawing the boundaries around first - but, actually, i trust that their preliminary work on the new assignment plan is informing this closure recommendation - i.e., they know where kids are and where they're projected to be (Van Asselt ref area +362 students by 2018; NE up hundreds) and this plan reflects that.

(though i'm not saying it doesn't also seem to reflect the sup't and staff's personal biases about APP and buildings that segregate within them learners of one kind from learners of another)

seattle citizen said...

oops, I should have wrote "Furthermore, in this diversified economy, NOT all students are needing to, or wanting to go to college. Plenty of great jobs out there that are not predicated on college."
Yikes. Getting sloppy in my old age!

Charlie Mas said...

That generic vision for Advanced Learning IS the vision specifically for Advanced Learning. Note the analogous visions for Special Education and Bilingual education.

For Special Education, Vision:
We will use an Integrated Comprehensive Service Delivery model in every building and provide self contained programs in each cluster. We will educate students in the least restrictive environment according to their Individualized Education Program

For Bilingual Programs, Vision:
SPS’ bilingual program will be a system-wide instructional program of quality services addressing the needs of all English Language Learner students

For Advanced Learning Programs, Vision:
Every student meets or exceeds grade level expectations and graduates from high school ready for college, career, and life

This is remarkably similar to the first Vision statement in the strategic plan:
All students achieve at high levels, receive the support they need and leave high school
prepared for college, career and life;


This tells us that the District has no vision for Advanced Learning Programs other than the Vision they have for every program.

The kindest interpretation of this would be that they expect EVERY student to be in an Advanced Learning program, if only an AP class in high school. A more reasonable interpretation would be that they have no vision for advanced learning programs.

adhoc said...

Perhaps the District has been working on the assignment plan and has a clear picture of what the new plan will look like, but has chosen not to share it with the community yet?? I can't imagine that the closures and capacity management are moving forward without consideration for the new assignment plan.

seattle citizen said...

wow, Charlie, you're right. I didn't see the slide of APP "vision" nor those others, and I have to say I'm concerned. It's one thing to have a generic Vision for ALL students, even if I find it overly simple, heartless, and inappapropriate for those who choose not to go to college; it's another thing entirely to have THAT vision, then program-specific visions for each program (are there visions for Montesssori? Spectrum? AP? GRADS?) that are merely rehashes (or worse) of the generic.
If there is to be specific visions, shouldn't they address the specific programs? In SpEd and Bilingual, they do, but there's again no "guts" or heart; it's like saying, "we'll have desks."
And APP's says the vision is for students to be at level, for a program that is two levels ahead. Bizarre.

momster said...

adhoc, my thinking is that yes, the district staff has been drafting possibilities for the reference area boundaries based on current and future enrollment, in preparation for rolling out something prior to the open enrollment period.

one could take "choosing not to share it" as a negative characterization of what they might be doing (though i'm not saying that's your characterization) - i think of it as doing all of their homework and analysis so they're prepared for the public meetings.

if they came with a blank slate and no straw horses, it would be chaos and a pretty bad use of the public's time and energy.

interestingly (and again, not in response to your comment), when they adjusted initial closure recommendations and scenarios as a result of the public process, they get charged with 1) not knowing what they're doing, 2) caving to the loudest, whitest, wealthiest constituents, 3) wasting the public's time.

to me, that's what transparency looks like - it's not generally pretty, but it's a good thing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I was surprised to see on the APP slide that the district actually DID say they needed to do more work on Spectrum and ALOs. Will wonders never cease. But there were no specifics.

I think the Directors do get confused over their roles. I think the director regions are only so each director can be the "expert" on the schools in that area so that everyone doesn't have to try to learn as much. I don't think they believe they represent that area in decisions. I think they do feel a special need to be sure to visit PTAs that ask for them to come, know their schools, etc.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, as was noted by Charlie, and in my response comment, evidently some directors don't (or didn't) feel a need to "know their schools"; it has been evident that some Directors have been surprised to find out a school was theirs. Yikes.

another mom said...

You do just what they have done. s/a boundaries for TTMinor are now Lowell's and I believe Cooper boundaries have been absorbed into Sanislo. You get all the cards out on the table. You close schools as you redraw the boundaries. Reference areas are going to change, there is no doubt about that. And this just seems to prolong the anxiety waiting for the details of the student assignment plan. The way this has been done is causing some students to make multiple school changes two years. ML King students come to mind here. Their Montesorri program went to Minor and now poof Minor is gone. And it is entirely possible that I am wrong headed about this. Perhaps the best way is to close now, redraw boundaries, and close more later. I dunno just my opinion.

dave said...

Charlie -

Yes, you heard my comment correctly. I was bringing a statement made by our director at a parent meeting to public light. In November, Peter said, "I don't represent Summit, your building just happens to be in my district." It was fairly upsetting, really.

seattle citizen said...

dave, as Melissa pointed out, strictly speaking a Director DOESN'T "represent" a school in the sense that they speak for school. As I understand it, they ARE to "represent" the school by being knowledgeable about it and being able to provide perspective in meetings with others. So the word "represent" can have a couple of meanings...(being kind to Director Maier)
but...
I can imagine you were upset when Peter said "your building just happens to be in my district." If that's not dismissive, I don't know what is. THAT comment shows that he might not be representing in any sense of the word; how could he, if the school, to him was just some structure that happened to be located in his district?
I can't believe they are closing Summit. There are many places it could go. They said they wouldn't open a closed school, but they are willing to close Old Hay and reopen it later. Why can't Summit go into John Marshall? It would help with capacity and be a great fit.

momster said...

another mom, the "assignment plan" IS reference area boundaries (at least when it comes to elementary schools - and it sounds like they will also be the basis for the middle school assignments, i.e., x, y and z elementary school reference areas will feed intact to middle school #1).

it has to be more comprehensive than combining two pre-existing areas here and there on an ad hoc basis. they haven't been redrawn in - i don't know what - decades? and housing, demographics and populations have shifted in the meantime - they need wholesale reconfiguration.

and it makes sense to me that they have to know what schools they're drawing the boundaries around, as a starting point - with some informed analysis on where the kids are and will be and what-if work being done on the possible boundaries along the way.

another mom said...

Melissa, yes no details on improvements to ALO's and Spectrum. But it is actually on paper in a written document and that is encouraging. Those programs need a good steward who has the time to devote to curricular issues and consisentent delivery. Spectrum is much bigger in terms of population than APP, and seems to always be back burnered. Who is going to have the time to do it? For a long while- probably until he retires-Dr. Vaughan will be consummed with the four schools housing APP. I just don't see as the point person for this one.

adhoc said...

I agree with you 100% momster, and I did not mean my comment in a negative way at all. In fact I meant it in the most positive way.

I believe that the District is in fact doing their job, and NOT making the current capacity changes blindly. They may not be "putting the cart before the horse" as so many have accused them of doing.

My guess would be that they have a pretty clear vision of what the new assignment plan will look like.

They have to do the necessary leg work, research, data collection, and trouble shooting in order to put together a cohesive, sound plan and pitch that plan to the public.

My guess is they are currently doing all of the necessary foot work for the new assignment plan, and though they have not released the plan to the public, this round of closures and capacity management coincides with it. In fact, in addition to the budget deficit, I bet that the new assignment plan is driving some of the capacity decisions that we are seeing right now.

Of course this is all speculation, Just my opinion. I may be all wrong.

momster said...

to the discussion on what a director's responsibilities are, they actually represent the taxpayers in their district and in the city as a whole (note the general election for directors is city-wide) as much or more than they "represent" an individual school, especially if "represent" is taken to mean defending that school's existence to what they might consider (as elected them to do) to be the detriment of the district as a whole.

though i agree peter's choice of words was unfortunate.

AutismMom said...

My take on the superintendent's slides for special education? They look very good, as a strategic vision. They do not have many details so it's hard to know how it will all play out. She seems to have taken many of our points from meetings with Dr. Santorno, so that is a good thing.

But, there are a few issues lingering. The district long ago held a review audit of the Emotional Behavioral Disorders (EBD/BIP) programs. After almost a year.. the findings have not been made public. Why not? Where is it? SEAAC has asked many times. The district always complains that advocacy organizations ignore EBD student. But then, the district itself does nothing to help those students, to reveal findings, or provide adequate programming assuming it is inadequate which the district has always claimed.

So as to the actual plans. EBD students should not be shuffled around. They've already been shuffled a lot. Last year Muir EBD program was closed in the middle of the year (sort of good), Ballard program was closed (students moved to where?), TT Minor programs was started in the middle of the year. It would be bad for the programs and students to move again. It's not clear they were moved in or if they were newly identified... but the program just started. The district does not disclose that information. So, programs at Minor and Meany should be moved to Washington, Lowell, and Marshall. Their small social cohorts in special and general education should be kept.

Cooper seems like a relatively good school. If the school does close, then the best thing is for the programs to stay intact... and that is the plan. It's autism self-contained programs are very highly selected (as are the programs at Marshall). Even though these types of programs are less than ideal, they are highly selected. They do give students access to general access as well. The Cooper autism inclusion program has been more problematic. A few years it closed. Then opened again. That has caused lots of problems for students. At least some of the blame for that falls on the school. But, I think it is a shame to close the best school in the trio: Roxhill, W. Seattle, Cooper instead of the worst.

So, instead of closing Cooper... I would vote for moving Pathfinder to W. Seattle Elementary, which is a nice building. Its current students could stay at Pathfinder. OR they should be given priority enrollment at schools with MUCH LOWER SPECIAL education rates: Lafayette, Schmitz Park and possibly others. At a minimum, special priority should be given to all special education students (including level 1 and 2) to go to schools which aren't essentially self-contained special education schools. I would suggest that all students at W. Seattle be given that priority.

emeraldkity said...

Every year it seems we have a series of meeting regarding a new assignment plan/implementation.

I also find it hard to remember when we have'nt also had huge budget shortfalls as well.

I think it is pretty clear that the captain of this ship doesn't have a navigator and no one agrees on which way to go- even if they couch their language in generalizations that basically repeat/restate
" all children learning & everyone accountable"
without going back and examining what is cost effective and what isn't .

I particularly am concerned about spending $1.5+million dollars for ventilation/air conditioning of the Stanford build. ( which was on the agenda last night) It is supposed to anticipate future need.

For one thing- this district has made it crystal clear they fail at predicting future need in anything.

Another is that if they used alternative sources of power- they would not create as much energy/heat that needed to be dispersed, & the building could be on it's way to be self sustaining & they can get a break from city light to do so.

I do not want money " anticipating" future need to be spent on this when we are closing buildings.

Melissa Westbrook said...

AnotherMom, I became active in the district to try to improve the gifted program especially Spectrum. Now, what is it, 14 years later, nothing. We did get some representation with the district but no traction on any issues. Spectrum is wildly different from school to school so measuring its performance seems shaky at best (unless you just use straight WASL scores which really aren't of any use to gifted kids). You're right; Dr. Vaughn has no time for anything else.

Emerald Kity, don't forget the nearly $800,000 they voted on last night to settle a Garfield contract dispute with the contractor. Great - almost a million dollars because - according to Facilities - the contract was not clear.

Lara said...

on the budget...

I'm doing this from memory, but there used to be 7 closed buildings, and now we're down to 5. Why is the cost savings still projected at $3.6m?

as for the assignment plan...

I agree that they probably have a good sense of what it will look like. They've already had the community meetings, and I believe the timeline says they should be presenting possible models in the next month or so (again from memory, I could be off). I just don't see why if they're so insistent we have to close buildings NOW, what's the big deal in pushing the assignment plan a little faster? Present the models, pick one, and go. If they did it now they could have it done by the end of March (it's not all that involved to implement it), and the two would go hand-in-hand. At least that's better than the backwards approach.

TwinMom2003 said...

Even if they do have a fair idea of how they intend to implement the new assignment plan the technical infrastructure to support the new plan is not yet in place.

To modify their current system to process both the new plan and the choice elements that are likely to remain is not possible in a little over a month.

They are building the new system from scratch - reinventing the wheel so to speak. In my humble opinion even a highly expert team devoted solely to this one task could not build a completely new system, test it, and do all the roll out to the public and internals by the beginning of March.

another mom said...

Melissa- it confounds me that Spectrum has been so neglected. You would think that this district in moving toward a neighborhood system -with feeder patterns to middle and high schools- would fix the lack of consistency in Spectrum before trying to create a new APP model. Spectrum and ALO's are cluster/neighborhood based. If the aim is to have kids closer to home, then provide those opportunities closer to home and do it well. Instead they are obsessed with APP and citing access that is, closer to home, as the reason. A real head scratcher if you ask me.

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