I, too, attended yesterday's Work Session on the Assignment Plan. While there was good discussion, time ran out and they didn't really talk about the Option schools (which seems to much of the discussion from Charlie's post). I did e-mail Tracy Libros with some questions so I'll let you know what she says.
All the members of the Board were present save Sherry Carr who was ill.
They started discussing high schools first with an interesting chart about capacity now and in the future. What I was most surprised at was the figure for "students at Intervention Services Schools/Programs - 910". That seems like a high figure out of total of 13,554 total high school students. It was indicated that Nova could grow to 340 (from its current of around 300) due to moving to Meany.
Dr. Brown and Mr. Tolley went over intervention programs with the Board. Here I got a little confused because the handout indicates 300 students, not 910 (but it may be that I'm just not reading it properly). This was a slightly depressing presentation because (1) they made it sound like some providers might be exaggerating their numbers of how many students actually attend on a daily basis and (2) there is no coordinated, integrated system. Meaning, these kids aren't really tracked in any meaningful way from the time they enter another school to returning to their original school and everything in-between. How can this be? They had no in-take system and are working on one.
(Dr. Brown also mentioned wanting a truancy officer in each high school. Really? I mean I myself do want kids in school - I stop kids around Roosevelt all the time and ask them why they aren't in school - but is that the highest need at our high schools? And, with what money?)
Then there was the discussion was mostly around Cleveland and it becoming a STEM school (and possibly have a bio-tech program like Ballard's).
Board questions on these issues:
Steve - he brought up the issue of how the services are provided and we found out there was no coordination of them. He likes the idea for Cleveland but said they would need private sector partners.
Harium said that he did not believe the high school figures given matched what they had been given previously but Tracy explained how they got to these numbers (the first numbers given to the Board were done before functional capacity numbers had been completed). Harium also said that the bio-tech program might be a good idea for Cleveland but it is an expensive program because of the needs for equipment and teacher training. Mr. Tolley said they were trying to partner with businesses interesting in promoting STEM.
He also asked about the numbers of AP students at Cleveland. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson gave numbers which were fairly low (under 15 in every class) but said that was good for a first year of AP classes. Harium also asked about staff at Cleveland and it was acknowledged that they need more AP trained staff.
Peter also chimed in about liking the plan for Cleveland but it would take time and money. He also asked where the students not in STEM would go? Tracy said other schools but I would assume that means they would get assigned to RBHS or Franklin.
Cheryl was her cheerleader self (she even said that) as she said how much she liked the plan for Cleveland and that some comprehensives even have small AP classes like Cleveland's. I hate when something like that is set out in the ether. Is it true? If so, are those AP classes at other high schools small because of the subject or the numbers of students who take AP?
Michael brought up the issue of whether we hold seats at high schools for re-entry students. Apparently they do as these kids generally do come back to their original high school. He also mentioned the difficulties of starting a bio-tech program, noting you need good industry mentors and staff that has worked in the industry.
Then they moved on to the tiebreakers. Here's how the economic tiebreaker would work (this is only for high school):
Higher poverty to lower poverty:
If the student lives in one of the 10 highest poverty elementary attendance areas, then the student gets this tiebreaker when applying for 1 of the 3 lowest poverty attendance high schools.
So who are the lowest poverty high schools? Without looking, I'm thinking Roosevelt, Ballard and Hale.
Lower poverty to higher poverty:
If the student lives in one of the 10 lowest poverty elementary attendance areas, then the student gets this tiebreaker when applying for 1 of the 3 highest poverty attendance high schools.
Here I would guess that means someone in Laurelhurst could go to RBHS, Sealth or ? (I would say Cleveland but they are becoming an Option school so that let's them out.)
Lots of discussion here around the economic tiebreaker. Shannon McMinnimee (I love that name) , a district lawyer, came out and gave a lengthy explanation of the use of income in other districts throughout the country. She went through the numbers of students using the racial tiebreaker before the court cases and it was quite interesting because there were only 4 schools involved (Roosevelt, Ballard and Hale for minority students and Franklin for white students). Amazingly, 80.3% of students received their first choice and the number would have been 80.4% without the tiebreaker. And, the racial makeup of these schools did improve because of its use. Also, she said some districts go beyond income to include student reading levels.
Tracy also said that using free/reduced lunch numbers from elementary is okay because it closely matches those in high school (except the high school numbers for free/reduced lunch are much lower). There was an interesting point made that more students may be on this list because of Pay for Play (those costs went up and more students likely did apply for free/reduced lunch in order to get this discount to play sports).
Peter said he had reservations about using a student address for enrollment. He said not all neighborhoods were poor in the same way (meaning you could live in what might be perceived a low income area but cross the street and you have a wealthier area). He warned of unintended consequences. Cheryl agreed with Peter on this point.
Harium mentioned that he, Peter and Mary had gone to a district in Burlington, Vermont and said that they use parent education level. He pointed out that we, as a school district, haven't had a community discussion about diversity and how we feel about it.
Michael also concurred on this point and said he felt it might be better to have a straight up lottery for open choice seats. It would be fair and leave out the complexities of income.
I have very mixed feelings on this point but if we are moving towards a simpler plan, then maybe a lottery is the way to go. If Cleveland had STEM/biotech that would take out the argument of bio-tech being only at Ballard. We have two IB programs, north and south. That would leave the jazz bands at Roosevelt and Garfield (and maybe the drama program at Roosevelt as it is an actual academic program). They could have auditions for the jazz band.
So, I'll do the Charlie thing? Do you value diversity in your child's school and how far do we go with it?
Also, lottery for Open Choice seats or an income tiebreaker?
They just didn't get to this issue and I was disappointed. They ran out of time.
Just as a point of clarification from Charlie's post, Blaine, Broadview-Thomson and Madrona, are all classified as attendance area schools. Why the new Jane Addams K-8 isn't, I don't know. Why New School is an Option school, I don't know especially as they have taken pains to say they are a regular school. Oh wait, that's right, their MOU says they get to have a geography enrollment preference.
If you look at the list of schools that are Option schools, it's all over the place and as some have noted, where's the international schools?
There is a timeline for this process in the handout. The next public meetings are May 5,7,9 with two Board Work Sessions before that on April 23 and 29th. It was verified that there will be no maps with boundaries until the fall.