Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Move North-end Elementary APP?

Please discuss the suggestion of relocating north-end elementary APP to a north-end location on this thread rather than on the Program Placement thread.

Does anyone intend to submit a program placement proposal for it?


Robert said...

Why did the District propose splitting APP into two sites at a further south location initially? Because it was never about north kids access! The best reason I have heard is that it was to lower the FRL percentage to get them out of having to provide tutoring for struggling kids at title 1 school. But even I can not accept that our staff is that machiavellian. (But who knows as no reasonable explanation was provided that wasn't refuted by the APP advocates).

Aside from the fact that this would be my daughters third school in four years... What about those Lowell AOL students shuffled from Lowell to wherever after coming from TTM from MLK with no real choice what so ever. I think unless you can fund to keep Lowell open for a few years as a probably underscubsribed AOL school it would be unconcionable.

Stu said...

moved from other thread

Could I suggest getting in touch with the PTA at Lowell before proposing a north-site APP? I do not know what they or the Lowell parents generally would feel about a move, but 100% anecdotally the parents I've talked to who still are there aren't exactly eager to have their program put through upheaval a second time in two years.

I don't want to sound ungrateful but, while I think the Lowell PTA does an excellent job at school-level stuff, I'm not sure it really matters to me what the leadership believes. The whole let's-have-a-unified-front and let's-work-from-within-the-system bad advice last year really hurt and I'm starting to think that, in addition to a unified voice, the board and district need to hear from hundreds of individuals.

I really respect the people who are doing the PTA right now; they do more for Lowell than I ever could and have shown their dedication at every turn. They're smart, focused, and intelligent. That said, I can't help but believe that had there been more protests, demonstrations, boycotts, phone calls, petitions, etc., at the start of the stuff last year, perhaps we would have had a different outcome.

As Charlie so eloquently put it, putting the North APP in the North end "should not even be open for discussion!" It's a specific, written, policy that, surprise, has been completely ignored by the board.

As for uprooting kids again? Take a poll of North End parents and ask would they mind moving one more time if it meant no more 1.25 hour bus rides, if it meant co-housing with an all-inclusive Spectrum program at Jane Addams . . . you might be surprised at the response.


dj said...

My daughter is in the TM half (or 2/5ths) of the split, and I am therefore not at Lowell to observe what is going on or how things are working. I also have only anecdotes, not data, about what parents at Lowell -- APP and not -- think about it.

Obviously what the district should have done if it were splitting the program would have been to put the north-end kids in the north end. But it didn't. So you now have kids there whose lives have been disrupted without moving (they have lost many of their friends and classmates to the split; they are working on creating a new school community; etc. etc.), some kids who were moved into the building as a result of school closures whose lives were seriously disrupted who are adapting to a new school and community; and some people who selected Lowell (particularly kindergarten families) based on what the new APP/ALO model might promise.

So by the end of this year, people won't be in the same position that they were last January.

Frankly I don't know what the Lowell families, APP or not, would feel about moving the APP program north. I am sure there is an argument to be made that it doesn't matter what they think, and perhaps there's no general consensus. But before anyone decides to take on the project of moving Lowell's APP program to the north, I would think it worthwhile to take the temperature over there.

dj said...

Stu, I'm not suggesting that the opinions of the PTA board members matter individually. But I think they actually did a decent job last year of polling the community and figuring out what the majority of families watned.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dj said...

I don't know that moving APP north would mean closing the Lowell building and moving kids again. I'm pretty doubtful that would happen, actually.

Robert said...

Stu no doubt those that benefit would say yeah!

I'm just saying keep Lowell AOL open so that those kids don't have to go through three closures in their short elementary career.

ArchStanton said...

Robert said: Why did the District propose splitting APP into two sites at a further south location initially?

From my previous post in the APP curriculum thread:

I'm fairly certain that that was part of their strategy. I [...] think that they had no real intention of moving APP to Hawthorne and T. Marshall. That was their lowball offer to set an example of how much worse it could be, so that when they threw us a bone of T. Marshall and Lowell, we could feel like we got something, even if it wasn't keeping the program together, or a true North-South split.

My family would be thrilled to have APP move to a North location and I can think of a few other families that would likely support it. Frankly, the biggest impact of the split to my child has been the loss of close friends. I don't expect that her cohort would change much as the result of a move. Possibly some centrally located families would be faced with switching to T. Marshall (whether imposed or by choice).

For all the talk of merging the communities, I've seen little sign of it, so far and I am dubious that many friendships will form across the APP-ALO line - there's just too little time or opportunity. I would not like to see the ALO population at Lowell be forced to move again, however. Keep it open and make it Spectrum-ALO, or something.

Stu said...

Why did the District propose splitting APP into two sites at a further south location initially?

Obviously, everyone has a different opinion about what happened and why. I happen to think they fully intended to close Lowell and move the community, split, to the two South locations. (Careful: They made a big deal of reminding us that Thurgood Marshall was in the "Central" area, just like Lowell, so that they weren't really moving it farther away!)

The reason they gave was that Lowell was in terrible shape (not entirely untrue) and needed millions of dollars of repairs. Since it would be unsafe to keep kids there at all, the perfect places were TM and Hawthorne. Once the point was made that Lowell was in better condition than reported, and that they'd already spent millions of dollars on upgrades since their report had come out, they threw us a bone and kept it open.

Personally, I think ArchStanton's opinion is not sinister enough. I believe that they planned on moving half the kids to join with two failing programs so that they could prop up the test scores in those buildings and, eventually, make APP into a "very special" ALO. By bringing the APP community into these buildings, and by bringing these involved, money/time-donating parents along, the district knew that funding for things like music and art would increase without the district having to actually do anything.

Lastly, as they work to dilute the program, and they will work to dilute the program, their "access" argument will start to take form. There were quite a few people who said that qualified kids from the South end weren't willing to bus up to Lowell and that, if the program moved there, they'd jump at the chance to come. I seem to recall someone's figures showing that, in actuality, more North end APP-qualifies students declined APP than South end . . . which, of course, begged the argument for opening in the North. (But we didn't need capacity in the North, did we?)


Robert said...

Funny we all have our theories as to "why Lowell?" If I am not mistaken it was the realization that they had a lot invested in the play ground equipment that was ADA approved and would be a shame to not have it available for the mobility challenged students in the spec ed program. Had it not been for that they would have a central cluster APP and a south cluster APP.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Stu had suggested moving half of APP to Jane Addams along with making it a K-8 Spectrum school. I think that thing would fill Jane Adams so fast the district's head would spin. It would take Spectrum seats out of Eckstein and make more seats available to general ed. Sounds like a win/win. Would they do it? No and maybe.

No, because it is politically very scary. (I have a thread on this going but again, it's about having the political courage to do what, overall, would work well for the most people. And, it would bring people back into the district, IMHO.)

Maybe, because they have already indicated that they won't keep Jane Addams as is. I don't want to discourage families investing in the school right now but Dr. G-J isn't one to open a door and not go through it and clearly, she left this door open.

I agree that you need to talk to parents and ask them. Talk to Dr. Enfield: she indicated to me that she had a passion for gifted education. Let's put that to the test. Talk to Harium and Peter. But don't let them wave you off and you think, oh well.

Parent power, remember?

Shannon said...

My son is at Lowell - from the NE - and we would love to have the school closer to us. I am not sure how others feel and that should be considered.

My concern is that shifting the program could give the District a chance to dilute or 'undermine' it in some way I have not yet thought about.

Better the devil you know... and all that.

ArchStanton said...

So, now we have two central cluster schools. If they move APP from Lowell to a north site, especially as far as Jane Addams, it's hard to imagine that someone won't complain about the lack of a real south APP location.

What then? Move the south half of the program again (this time from T. Marshall)?

Or maybe continue diluting by creating a far south location in addition to T.Marshall and J.Addams (or whatever north site). Win-win for everybody! (except anyone who cares about a meaningful cohort size)

Then West Seattle, followed by Queen Anne. Something for everyone, Yay!

Charlie Mas said...

I hate to invite trouble, but if the north-end APP students were moved out of Lowell, that would free up about 225 seats there. That would be enough capacity to justify one of a couple of things:

1. Closing Montlake. The attendance areas could be re-drawn without Montlake. Stevens' attendance area would extend north to the water and Lowell's attendance area would cover a lot more ground.

2. Making Madrona an Option School. By bringing a couple hundred seats back online the District could afford to take a couple hundred offline at Madrona.

adhoc said...

I think APP would grow if there were a North site. All of the elementary schools in the NE cluster are very very strong, as are many in the North cluster. Some families of north end APP qualified kids choose to keep their kids in these strong N/NE schools rather than busing out of their neighborhood and having an hour long bus ride each way to Lowell. Many families don't even let their kid take the APP test because they know even if they get in, they are not going to bus them far away to Lowell.

If the program were here and it was convenient I think APP would grow. A lot.

I'm going to keep a close eye on APP growth at Hamilton. I'd like to know if the program grows. Hamilton's APP growth might be a bit slower than an elementary APP North's growth because of social reasons - by the time kids are in MS they have made friends and are established in their cohort. Teenagers may be less likely to embrace a change at that age?? Still, I am betting that APP North at Hamilton grows due the convenient location.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Robert, short elementary career? Just to point out, elementary is 6 years, middle school is 3 (and boy does that zip by) and high school is 4.

another mom said...

"Some families of north end APP qualified kids choose to keep their kids in these strong N/NE schools rather than busing out of their neighborhood ..."

Why is this a bad thing? Non-APP schools that meet the academic needs of APP qualified students should be celebrated.

As I have watched this discussion progress a couple of things occured to me. First, there is a finite number of APP type students that exist in SPS. Second, how much should APP be expected to grow? Third, the Jane Addams gifted academy is a pretty good idea were it not for the politics. Maybe an all city draw accelerated middle school that is an opt-in approach.I would suggest John Marshall for physcial access reasons.

But unless the District sees sustanstial growth or the eligibility requirements for APP change -again-, shouldn't the number of students eligible for the program remain stable? The idea that APP should grow is wierd to me. APP/IPP was a program that targeted students with academic needs that could not be met in a traditional classroom. These students were extreme outliers. And before folks jump all over me, I believe/know that more students in this district could benefit from increased rigor and challenge. The expectation of students from our education leaders in SPS is pathetic see high school diploma with a 'D'.

I guess the point of my rant is decide what you want from a program first, before exhorting it will grow if it was just closer to my house. It is a little more complicated.

Ben said...

If a true north-end APP came online, what would THAT do to the lack of diversity in APP? (The north end being—on the whole—more affluent and white than the south end.)

Wouldn't this further skew the demographics of APP, thus forcing more APP changes in a cascade of poorly thought-out manuevering?

Please note: I am not saying more diversity in APP is a bad thing. Far from it! But SPS appears to have no actual system in place to address this, beyond moving half of a school a few miles to the south.

adhoc said...

In reference to North end families not sending their APP qualified kids to Lowell Another mom posted "Why is this a bad thing? Non-APP schools that meet the academic needs of APP qualified students should be celebrated. "

Another mom I think you misunderstood my post. I don't think it is "bad" for APP qualified kids to stay in their local school if it meets there needs. Many families choose this option - they want a neighborhood school experience for their kids and if their school meets their kids academic needs then great! I agree we should all celebrate that!

However many parents want, and some students need more than their local elementary school can offer. APP consistently offers two years acceleration across the board! For the students who truly need this , I think it is ridiculous that they have to travel across town to get it. I don't condone, under any circumstances, subjecting kids to a two hour bus ride across town. Heck, I wouldn't commute two hours a day for the most fantastic job out there, so I certainly wouldn't expect my kid to do it for school.

Then you asked "Second, how much should APP be expected to grow?"

APP should grow as much as their is demand for the program. Currently every child who tests into APP is guaranteed a spot. So if it were in a convenient north end location and that incentified more parents to send their kids to APP then it would and should grow to accommodate them.

Then another mom said "Maybe an all city draw accelerated middle school that is an opt-in approach.I would suggest John Marshall for physical access reasons."

This is a great idea! I would love to see a true opt in program that was strong, and whole school focused (opposed to a regular school with an ALO)! Another mom you should do a program placement proposal for this idea. If you don't do it please post back and let me know, because I will! I love it.

Ben, are you saying children in North Seattle should not have access to an accelerated program in North Seattle where they live because there are not enough minority families living in their neighborhoods? Can you please clarify?

Robert said...

Yeah, Charlie that does make sense. As a Cap Hill resident I would welcome that change. Not as much as recombining APP at Lowell but we can only expect so much.

Ben said...

adhoc: no, of course I don't think northend kids should be denied APP accommodations. What I'm saying is what I said:

Moving APP to the north could cause SPS to indulge in further tinkering until they totally wreck the program.

Are we now saying that SPS only acts from the best intentions, for the best reasons, and with the best results?

In other words, is there a downside to moving APP to the north? (Or accommodating northend families with a convenient APP school?) No. Would SPS perceive a downside? Could be.

Stu said...


Actually, I do see the downside to moving the community again. That said, I truly believe the best thing they could do is to restore the cohort someplace central. However, there's no way they'll do that 'cause it would mean admitting a mistake and, well, they'll never admit a mistake.

However, IF they're insisting on splitting the program North/South, the North cohort should be in the North. The idea of co-housing the North APP cohort with a comprehensive Spectrum program, all at Jane Addams for example, is great 'cause it also solves the problem of space in a number of other NE buildings.


Anonymous said...

I suspect that in the long-run, all advanced learning will be handled at neighborhood schools, similar to how special ed is moving away from the program model to a model where students' needs are supposed to be met at the neighborhood school. Therefore, the district will be able to say that there is no longer a need to place an APP program in the north end because APP-qualified children will just be taught at the neighborhood school. In fact, there may no longer be a need for APP at all.

I can only speak to our school, Bryant, which has offered no formal ALO or Spectrum in the past. I know many APP-qualified children who stay at Bryant, and the teachers do differentiated learning in the classrooms. According to principals and staff, this has worked well at the school for years now. However, the district has demanded that Bryant develop a formal program for advanced learners that must be in place for 2010-2011. Despite teachers' desire to maintain the current system, local control is being over-ruled. From the Bryant website:

"Seattle Public Schools is requesting that all schools in the district have a formal plan related to advanced learners. This plan is to reflect the strategies and services used to challenge students who are identified as having APP or Spectrum eligibility status...."

I'm no expert on these matters, but it appears to me that part of the new SAP is to make every school nearly identical so that there is no longer a "need" for choice. When we had to make our K decision, I was overwhelmed by the variability in our cluster (Spectrum at WW and VR, ALO at Laurelhurst, and nothing at Bryant) and worried about which school to choose (of course, for our entry year, choice stopped existing and people were lucky to get their reference school...). Future families won't have that worry.

In addition, if APP-qualified kids can be taught locally, there is no need to bus them anywhere. Dismantling special programs ultimately saves money.

So I see what's happening at Bryant as part of a broader strategy to standardize Seattle schools, just like the efforts to standardize curricula throughout the district that I read about on this blog.

Perhaps MGJ's over-arching goal is to dismantle the entire SPS system and make a bunch of cookie-cutter schools that families attend locally (which will ultimately save a lot of money).

Anonymous said...

lak367, Seattle Public Schools already have remarkably low market share, 68% in 2005 compared to the norm of 80-90% nationwide.

Cutting popular programs will drive even more people out of the system. Since much of the state funding is on a per-pupil basis, that will lower revenue.

Cutting alternative schools and standardizing will not save money. It will drive people from the system and cost money.

Ben said...

Comments from the Bryant community notwithstanding, I just can't believe APP-in-every-school could ever work.

What kind of "differentiated learning" do those APP-qualified kids get? A few extra worksheets? Some more silent reading time? Who knows?

Central Cluster Mom said...

It is really great to hear from parents at neighborhood schools that are very happy with the neighborhood model - in a perfect world - that would be the case everywhere.

I think it is difficult for families at Bryant, View Ridge, Montlake, Laurelhurst etc. to understand the need for advanced learning because advanced learning students are being well-served in their school's current model. That is fantastic!

However, as has been said before on this blog, those schools have far less socioeconomic diversity than many schools in the district. The "spectrum of students" are much more similar and result in a more homogeneous academic classroom. Much easier to differentiate.

In the schools where teachers have maybe 6 students working two grade levels behind, another 5 one grade level behind, 9 are working at grade level, 4 are working one year ahead, and finally 1 student is working two years ahead. The teacher is asked to teach five different levels in a single classroom.
That is impossible - I don't care how good the teacher is.

What ends up happening is that either kids are left behind and promoted without meeting benchmarks, or highly-capable kids end of reading through much of elementary school.

IMHO, there must be an option beyond neighborhood schools - since each neighborhood is very different and the resultant neighborhood school may or may not be able to give each child what they need to succeed.

That may not be what SPS is working towards - which means that once again the lower socio-economic areas will suffer while the higher socioeconomic areas of the city "enjoy" their wonderful schools.

Chris said...

6p0120a6095acd970c: Cutting alternative schools and standardizing will not save money. It will drive people from the system and cost money.

mmm hmmmm. And set the stage for takeover/privatization. I don't want to believe it, but it's the unifying explanation for their uniformly bad decisions.

Sahila said...

I just can't believe APP-in-every-school could ever work.

It can work... IF you have a vertical curriculum... as I wrote on another thread, (alternative public) Room 9 Community School in Shoreline is doing just this in math... the whole school - 130 kids - does math at the same time every morning, and kids move about the school to the level they at which they are learning... capable of math 2 grade levels ahead of your peers - then you go to the class that's learning at that level... capable of math 2 grade levels behind your peers - then you go to the class that's learning at that level... the emphasis is kids working at their own ability level, not at grade level... and all classes are a 3-year age span...K-2, 3-5 and 6-8... kids are encouraged not to compare where they are at in relation to their friends and classmates... the focus is on individual achievement, personal bests...

If it can be done in math, it can be done in other subjects...

Australian schools do it... and having the whole school do the same subject at the same time isnt the only way to make this work... you can have kids on individual subject and timetable plans moving around the school to the class which best suits their needs and capabilities

It takes creative problem solving and being willing to take on a new paradigm of what school looks like, how the day works out and it takes adults willing to create a model that is really child centred, rather than a model into which the child has to fit...

Anonymous said...

How's that working out for the kids, Sahila? My school did this in the 1970s, and it was awful for me. As a 2nd grader, I walked to "4th grade" math, which also had some 5th graders in the class. The kids teased me, especially when I could answer questions they couldn't, and I cried a lot that year. I was not socially mature enough for that situation.

It's exactly why I like the APP model for those kids who truly are at the extreme end of the bell-shaped curve.

Sahila said...

I havent heard anything negative about it, yet Lak367... its early days for me...

I think the thing that might make it work at Room 9 is the 3-year age span in each mixed grade classroom and the focus on individual personal best and non-comparison...

My son is in Grade One and still finding his feet, seeing Kindergarten at AS#1 last year was pretty much about emergent learning through play and the move to a more 'formal' learning process has come as a bit of a shock to him ... compared to AS#1 too many 'rules', too much sitting still, he says ...:-(

(wish he could still be learning through play, and he would have gotten more of that at (the old) AS#1 but cant stomach the changes there, so we had to move...)...

He's ahead in knowledge and understanding of concepts, behind in working with all of that with pen and paper...

I know in the first two weeks, he was too intimidated to try anything... my little only-child Leo was only looking at the kids ahead of him in age and comparing himself (as a failure) to them... of course he didnt think to look around him at his peers and juniors to get a sense of the relativity of it all.

He finally seems to have taken in the message that its not about what everyone/anyone else is doing; that all he has to focus on is doing his own personal best and staying on his own personal track...

I havent seen any kind of labelling and teasing relating to children's level of ability in any particular activity/subject at Room 9, but again, we are new there...

I know that my daughter (now 27) had a hard time skipping two classes in her early primary school life and always being behind her class mates in age/maturity; I am thinking she would have done better in an environment like Room 9...

jd said...

Y'all are smokin' something if you think that the Jane Adams location works as a north location. It's waaaaay the heck in the upper corner, and very difficult to get to for much of the N and NW clusters. For where I live, I'd rather keep commuting to Lowell.

And also, there is a persistent assumption that the North is affluent and the South is poor. If you look at the demographic maps for the city, you'll find that there is plenty of rich areas south of the ship canal and plenty of low income areas to the north. The range of incomes is probably greater in the South, which has pockets of deeper poverty than you tend to find in the north, but the North does not equal Laurelhurst.

Mum o 2 said...

I vote for a north-end Elementary APP that is located as centrally in the North as is possible. To me that rules out Jane Addams as it is way east.

I agree that not all north-end students are from afluent families and think that a move to a north-end APP location could encourage these families to test their children for the APP program.

I have requested that my Kindergartner be tested but am doing so with the knowledge that if he does test in - I will still not subject him to a long bus ride to Lowell. So then we leave him where he is or consider driving our car EVERY DAY to get him there. His current school does not have Spectrum OR ALO and I doubt we could get him into a school in the north-end that does have one of those programs. It seems like every K in our area had to add an extra class this year to accommodate all the kids. I almost hope my son does not test out as being an advanced learner because I feel like I will not be able to give him what he needs to learn at that level.

Stu said...

I have requested that my Kindergartner be tested but am doing so with the knowledge that if he does test in - I will still not subject him to a long bus ride to Lowell

Keep in mind that, depending on where you live and how many students are in your area, the bus rides vary from short to long. I always complain about the length of our ride but don't consider, for a moment, it too long for an excellent education....we just have to build the times into our schedules. (For two years, in the mornings, we've had a carpool. )


Stu said...

I vote for a north-end Elementary APP that is located as centrally in the North as is possible. To me that rules out Jane Addams as it is way east.

I agree that Jane Addams is, by no means, centrally located, although that hasn't stopped the North End kids from going to Lowell, Washington, and Garfield over the years. The advantage to Jane Addams is that it's very large, it's due to be re-purposed, and by making the whole building an advanced learning facility, it frees up space in all the over-crowded NE cluster schools AND relieves the pressure at Eckstein.

There aren't very many buildings with the capacity and location to do all these things at once, unless you fix up and re-purpose Wilson, which is very conveniently located for both the North and Northeast clusters.


adhoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
adhoc said...

Central Cluster Mom said "IMHO, there must be an option beyond neighborhood schools - since each neighborhood is very different and the resultant neighborhood school may or may not be able to give each child what they need to succeed."

Yes, I agree. In my opinion that option could be earned autonomy. Those schools that are serving their community well, and performing well on standardized tests, should be allowed to choose whether or not they provide an ALO. Those that are not serving their community well and/or are not doing well on standardized tests should have to follow the districts standardized model (IE offer an ALO)

adhoc said...

Sahila, what would happen if, say, a 5th grader was working at a 2nd grade math level? Would the 5th grader walk to the K-2 classroom for math?

Would the school be doing anything to bring the student up to a 5th grade level, or are they fine with him in a K-2 classroom as long as he is doing his personal best?

And if they did want to help him get up to grade level how could they do it with him in a K-2 classroom?

And, I don't care how much a school works with kids on their social behavior, being accepting, not teasing and whatnot, it would surely be humiliating to a 10 year old to walk to a classroom full of 5-7 year olds.

It all seems so odd to me.

Moose said...

It's ironic that schools like Bryant are being pressured to offer ALO since ALO does not come with any funds from the District to actually do the program. Does that mean that the District is now going to pony up some $ for ALO?

Sahila said...

adhoc - It depends on what's going on with the 5th grader... there is remedial assistance (in-school tutoring) available in appropriate cases...

With the school having a 3-grade multi-age class structure, it is not such a chronological age stretch for a 5th grader to be working amongst (only some) 2nd graders... he/she is probably not the only 5th grader, there are also likely to be kids from 1st, 3rd and 4th grade in the class.

The age thing is also not such a big deal when you consider that often an entire year separates kids in the same class... my son only just turned 6 in July while other first graders are turning 7 now...

I dont know why you would find it humiliating for a child to be accepted by her/his peers and the school community to be working to the best of his/her ability, at whatever level that is...

The problem isnt with how Room 9 does this... the problem is with the beliefs we hold on learning and achievement at a standardised rate for every child...and the messages we send our kids about success and what that looks like...

Central Cluster Mom said...

JD said:
there is a persistent assumption that the North is affluent and the South is poor. If you look at the demographic maps for the city, you'll find that there is plenty of rich areas south of the ship canal and plenty of low income areas to the north. The range of incomes is probably greater in the South, which has pockets of deeper poverty than you tend to find in the north, but the North does not equal Laurelhurst.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

Average FRL% North of shipping canal (including Queen Anne/Magnolia because that is how the APP program was split): 24.4%

Average FRL% South of shipping canal: 58.4%

Source: Washington State Report Card,

In fact, only two schools north of the shipping canal have FRL% over 50% (Olympic Hills and Northgate). There are 12 North end schools with 15% or less FRL%.

South of the shipping canal - there are 19 schools with FRL% over 50% with 14 of those over 75%, and only 5 schools with less than 15% FRL%.

There is a huge inequity in income levels in this city - which absolutely results in unequal school quality. When schools are busy providing the basics - it makes it much more difficult to provide the "frills" - which in many cases includes advanced learning.

I agree with Adhoc that the district needs to provide some standardization for an advanced learning option (ALO) in the underperforming schools, otherwise those schools will never maintain their highly capable students.

But they just can't say "do this" - the support needs to come from the district in the form of teacher training and ongoing monitoring and support (Bob Vaughan in his "spare" time?). Can they do this with the current budget deficit? Absolutely not if it is not a priority with the district.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm sending in a program placement proposal for this today.

Don't let that keep you from doing the same. It can't hurt for them to get multiple versions of the same proposal.

adhoc said...

I'll send one in too Charlie.

And I'm sending another one if asking for a multi cluster draw (N/NW/NE) accelerated middle school with an opt in enrollment policy, perhaps at John Marshal.

I'm not as familiar with the demographics in the Central/S/SE but if there is need for an accelerated opt in middle school there I'd suggest someone send a proposal in for it too.

Stu said...

And I'm sending another one if asking for a multi cluster draw (N/NW/NE) accelerated middle school with an opt in enrollment policy, perhaps at John Marshal.

I don't know if this matters but, if you're talking about something like a dedicated Spectrum program for the area, then you should use the word "Spectrum" in the title. I would think it would be much harder for them to "create" a program than it would be for them to "move/fix" something that exists. By calling for a Spectrum cohort, you're also giving them "more capacity at the individual schools throughout the NE Cluster," something they really need, and "the curriculum alignment" type of stuff they eat up. Plus, by putting them together, you save money.

Just a thought,


Central Cluster Mom said...

Adhoc said:

And I'm sending another one if asking for a multi cluster draw (N/NW/NE) accelerated middle school with an opt in enrollment policy, perhaps at John Marshal.

I think that is a great idea - but just make sure that John Marshal is large enough to incorporate enough students to provide a comprehensive middle school experience. Although many parents of younger elementary kids believe in a K-8 program, once the kids reach 5th grade, they may see things differently.

According to the APP audit - the majority of the middle school students interviewed indicated that what they enjoyed the most about WMS was the bigger environment with different kids from all the programs (couldn't find the exact quote from the audit - it is buried somewhere on my computer...)

In the southend - I'm not sure where they would put such a program - although the central area is left now with only one comprehensive middle school - Washington.

adhoc said...

"I don't know if this matters but, if you're talking about something like a dedicated Spectrum program for the area, then you should use the word "Spectrum""

No, I was not talking about Spectrum at all. Spectrum is a "test in" program. I did a program placement proposal for an "opt in" accelerated learning school. A school that any motivated student could "opt in" to. A school that provided all accelerated and honors level classes. With a multi cluster N/NE/NW draw (actually I'd love to see an all city draw but I doubt the district would consider it as they are trying to cut back transportation and move toward neighborhood schools).

In my experience students that may not test into a "gifted" program, or perform in the top 4% academically, but are highly motivated do as well if not better than "gifted" kids who are not always as motivated.

I think those highly motivated students deserve a chance for acceleration too. If they are willing to do the work then they should be able to access it.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

Stu, I strongly advocated for the JA site to become the north end APP/Spectrum school back when the district was trying to figure out what to do with the building.

But I'm not going to do a program placement proposal for that now, for two reasons.

1) Even though JA K-8 school does little to solve the NE capacity problems the district made the decision to create this school. The school is now up and running. Staff has been hired. The newly formed PTSA is just starting to meet. Families are getting involved. Students are settling in. I think this new community deserves our support. I don't think it would be appropriate, at this point, to propose re purposing their building.

2) JA is a large building but it is far north at NE 110th st and 35th ave NE. It would be a terrible commute for families coming from QA/Magnolia/Ballard/Blue Ridge. And a somewhat long commute for families coming from Phinney, Greenwood, Laurelhurst, Udistrict. I think the Wilson Pacific building or co-housing it at Lincoln with another program would be better options.

Sahila said...

adhoc - arent you really proposing a place for 'highly motivated' kids to go and run away from the nitty gritty of only-averagely performing classrooms/schools plagued by all those problems poor and disruptive kids bring with them???

A place for people who cant get their (highly motivated but really only averagely capable) kids into APP or Spectrum, so please, can they have another refuge, one where they're with other families/parents who obviously value education and support(push)their kids?

Lets segregate our kids out into categories:
*not capable at all,
*average but disruptive, lazy, and socially/economically/culturally challenged
*average but 'highly motivated' and
*highly capable

Groups one and two can have their own schools (and go to hell in a hand basket)
Group three has its own (because their hard work proves they deserve it)
Group four has its own (because we're incapable of doing our best for them without isolating them)...

I'm sorry, but your idea gives me the creeps - its more educational apartheid...

Charlie Mas said...

If the truth were told, I think most families choose Spectrum (and perhaps even APP) not so much because they are running towards something they want as because they are running away from something they fear.

And Sahila is absolutely right about what they fear. They fear disruptive students and unmotivated students and slow to learn students who all suck precious academic time away from their bright and motivated students.

Worse, those other students might not think that being smart is cool so they might create peer pressure to underachiever.

Worst of all, those other students don't put as high a value on education and may contribute to a devaluation of education among our children.

Sahila finds this attitude ghastly, unconscionable, immoral and analogous to racial bigortry and discrimination. I understand that perspective a little bit.

But in the end, I don't accept it. I don't think that I value egalitarianism higher than children's lives. And when children are discouraged or demotivated from pursuing their potential it negatively impacts their lives. I don't think that this political principle is so dear that we may protect it over the quality of life for our children.

If I can defer my children's academic de-motivation you better believe that I will. and I am deeply troubled by anyone who suggests that my children should suffer and be demotivated in sacrifice to their political zeal.

Charlie Mas said...

The less school is driven by politics and the more it is driven by academics the better it will be.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Highly motivated kids may not have the opportunities in elementary schools but that would be the district's fault for not offering it at every school.

Spectrum really thins out at middle school with some having only social studies, other social studies and science. But middle school kids can take any higher level math class they want if they test in (but it's a math test).

In high school, any motivated student can take any class they want (except a few AP classes where you need to have the prerequisites like the foreign language ones).

Sahila said...

Classism, racism and all the other 'isms' that put our kids where they are in the classroom, are embodied and enabled in our current education system and our children's experience of that...

ALL OF THAT IS POLITICS, so its a bit silly to talk about keeping politics or political zeal out of the education experience... it already is there...

Sahila said...

what I meant to say, is that academics are already influenced by the politics of race, class, economic status, culture, gender... there is no way to separate the two, have academics operate in a vacuum...

adhoc said...

Yes, Melissa, I agree - it is middle school advanced learning that I think is the weakest link in SPS. My program placement proposal was for an "opt in" accelerated middle school.

Sahila, except for a few middle schools that offer advanced math placement, Seattle middle schools do NOT offer any advanced learning opportunities or acceleration for kids who don't test into Spectrum or APP. Nothing. Nada. Zip. And actually, they do very little for kids who DO test into Spectrum....that is if they clear the Spectrum waitlist.

There are plenty of highly motivated students who want and need acceleration but for what ever reason don't test into Spectrum or APP. Maybe they aren't great test takers, maybe they were sick the morning of the test, maybe English is not their first language.....

Shouldn't these highly motivated kids have an opportunity for acceleration? And, please don't say "yes, but in an inclusive environment", because right now that inclusive environment does not exist in Seattle middle schools. As I said there is little to no opportunity for acceleration in middle school outside of Spectrum and APP.

Perhaps you should make a program placement proposal for more acceleration at every Seattle middle school. That would be more productive than complaining about my proposal?

Stu said...

there is no way to separate the two, have academics operate in a vacuum

Actually, Sahila, I think I disagree with you on this point. Because of race, class, economic status, and culture, it's MORE important to keep the politics out of the school system. What I mean is that the schools are never going to solve all the ills and nuances of society and the more they try the more they'll fail. It's important that schools try to supplement things when possible, offering scholarships to those who can't pay, emotional support to families/students who need it, but if that becomes the focal point, we lose track of the primary job of the schools; they're here to educate our children.

The more we try to fix one program, move another, help one set of people, the more inequitable the system becomes. This is why so many of us call for language immersion in ALL clusters; quality Spectrum programs for ALL who test in in ALL areas of the city; music and AP at ALL high schools. The goal should be to make all schools good and stop trying to prop up failing programs.

There are hundreds and thousands of different ideas of how to educate and I don't pretend to know what's best or what works. I do know, however, that if the district would look at ALL the schools, through the same lens, they would see the obvious inequities and try to fix the things that are missing in so many places.

We should all hope that, someday, we'll have the greatest school district in the world. However, until that time, or while we work towards that goal, we should at least demand consistent quality and care for ALL students, equal access to ALL programs, and comparable learning at ALL schools. When that happens, we won't have to wait to have great schools; they'll already be here.


adhoc said...

Sahila, for the record, I'm not the racist, segregation seeking parent that you make me out to be.

In fact both of my kids went to an alternative elementary school just so they would learn tolerance, acceptance, social justice and have an inclusive environment. One went through the entire program, the other needed more structure and transferred mid way to a more structured school. We chose a Shoreline school for middle school for our son so he could have access to "opt in" honors. In Shoreline any motivated child could take any honors class they wanted. No tests. No waitlist. Very inclusive. That is what my program proposal was modeled after. Acceleration with no tests. No barriers. An open, opt in model, for any child that sought it.

And alas, we chose Nathan Hale for high school for our son. A somewhat alternative school where their entire premise is built on integration and an inclusive environment. To the extent that they do not offer any separate honors classes, and only a few separate AP classes.

In addition we are a bi-racial (black/white) family. Your reference to my proposal equating to educational apartheid is insulting to say the least, and so far off target it's humorous.

Robert said...

why do post about app always degrade into pro/con... app only blog?

Stu said...

why do post about app always degrade into pro/con... app only blog?

Hmm. . . I guess 'cause this is the APP thread on this blog?

Actually, I think people are expressing lots of different, and intelligent, positions on the APP program here. Most people feel that IF there's going to be a North/South split, the North should be North. It seems that most people understand, and I'm one of the ones who wants to propose it, that Jane Addams isn't actually the best site for a North APP 'cause it's so far away from the other "North" areas. (My counter-argument, which I admit isn't THAT strong, is that this school district is going to re-purpose Jane Addams anyway and I'd like to see it used to relieve some of the capacity issues at other schools. To be honest, a solid comprehensive middle school would be great as well.)

Anyway, this thread was started to have these discussions . . . works for me. Put it this way, it's been a day and there are already 59 posts; I guess people wanted to discuss it.


ArchStanton said...

why do post about app always degrade into pro/con... app only blog?

Because we can't have a thread about a specific issue (e.g. moving Lowell APP to a North-end site) without people weighing in with their opinions on the APP program as a whole.

Sure, we can create APP specific threads so that APP conversations don't dominate threads of more general concern, but it doesn't stop people that don't have a particular interest in the specific issue (e.g. moving Lowell APP to a North-end site) from using the thread as a soapbox to condemn (or praise) the program in general.

I think the consideration for the APP and non-APP interested posters on this blog needs to work both ways. If we are asked to take our APP discussions elsewhere (e.g. specific threads on this blog or a different blog), I would ask that reciprocal courtesy be paid in that others refrain from jumping into every APP discussion to debate the (philosophical, ethical, moral, etc.) merits of the program and its advocates.

Personally, I find that echo chamber tiresome, but if people need an outlet for that dialogue, maybe Melissa or Charlie can create a new Pro/Con APP thread at the beginning of each month.

adhoc said...

Let me be clear. My program placement proposal for an opt in accelerated middle school was not intended to replace Spectrum or APP, it was in addition to Spectrum and APP. I think the APP and Spectrum programs are solid and if anything they should grow and be strengthened.

Sahila said...

Stu - been thinking about your posting...its not possible to educate children UNLESS you do take care of the inequities caused by classism, racism, economic discrimination and segregation, culturally inappropriate learning structures, family/community issues...

These issues totally affect ACADEMICS - you cant keep them out.

And its another discussion again, on the topic of academics - what subjects and content we accept as being necessary to be taught in schools - are formed totally by politics. Who (what class/group of people - such as Broad, Gates et al) decides what school is, how many years, the school day, what shall be taught and from what perspective, who gets access to what courses?

Historically, its never been every day people that have been involved in that....When did Washington or Olympia or SPS come and ask you what you thought school ought to look like for your child? When did they actually ask our children what they thought school should look like?

Its always been imposed from above, and the people who have imposed all of that have had a very real, very overt agenda - feeding the capitalist labour market...

Anyway - back to your point... if its a school's job to educate children (nothing more, nothing less)...
How can a child put all of his/her energy into learning when they are hungry or their body is filled with fats and sugars (cheap 'food') that adversely affects brain functioning?

How can a child feel relaxed enough to put all his/her attention on learning when he/she knows that there's no money for the rent tomorrow and there's a good chance they'll be homeless (again) by the end of the week...

How can a child feel relaxed and focus on learning when he/she has been awake half the night listening to the parents fight and wondering if his/her mother will appear at the breakfast table with a black eye (or worse) or whether the argument/fight will break into his/her bedroom and he/she will be hurt...

To be continued>>>

Sahila said...

Part Two:

If you want equity and access for all kids
"language immersion in ALL clusters; quality Spectrum programs for ALL who test in in ALL areas of the city; music and AP at ALL high schools. The goal should be to make all schools good and stop trying to prop up failing programs. ...

then you do have to provide the scholarships and the social support because so many kids start behind the 8-ball... The programs are not failing, the kids are not failing... they're doing the best they can with what they've got... its the system that's failing...

(In the past it was accepted that there would be a certain degree of failure (collateral damage), but as the pyramid fails and collapses, taking with it more and more (middle class) children and generating more widespread social problems (previously confined to the poor), we have this cry for "reform", because the financial cost (cut into profits) is becoming unacceptable...

I've never yet met a child who doesnt absolutely LOVE to learn, to explore, to expand their experience....and I've never yet met a child who COULD NOT learn... those who dont have the environment to support their love of or style of learning respond in a number of ways - most of which the rest of us more fortunate people find annoying, frustrating and want to push off into a small corner somewhere, out of sight and mind...

Society is failing... but while you can say its not a school's job to fix that (maybe you're right), you cant turn your back on the need... if you do that, you're victimising the most needy amongst us twice, and continuing the cycle of poverty, violence, personal and societal dysfunction and unfulfilled potential for another generation.... and we all pay for the consequences of that...

Academics and politics are completely intertwined...

Which is why I am so creeped out by ideas that generate more segregation...

Stop running away trying to find somewhere where you and your kids will be 'safe'...

It will catch up with you wherever you go (everywhere you go, there you are)...

We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers....

Turn around and face down the monster - tell it: Enough is enough, it stops with me... Fight for all kids, not just your own...

Stu said...


Yeah, I had a feeling right after posting that I might be a bit misunderstood . . . I almost completely agree with you. My point was that I feel that we too often are actually asking the schools to take the role of parent, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods where students aren't necessarily getting the support they need from home, and are looking to solve a lot of the problems of society.

I believe if you build an excellent neighborhood school, with all the "options" that the kids need, without having to bus them out of their area and away from family and friends, you automatically solve some of the problems. Every student deserves a solid education in a safe environment; every student deserves ALL the programs like languages, music, and art; by placing these programs in "select" areas, you're not only depriving the majority of students a chance at a "complete" education, I believe you're creating an imbalance that actually echoes the social problems of the haves and have nots in our society. Instead of addressing the issues, you're actually adding to the problems.

My comment was meant to read more that I believe this district, and probably most districts, are SO concerned with the political and social issues, they forget that their main purpose is to educate. If they build equitable programs that are accessible to all students, THEN they have a foundation on which they can build better social support.

If you have people breaking the rules to get into a popular program, that's a good program and should be replicated EVERYWHERE; if you have waiting lists for a program, like Spectrum, that's a good program and should be supported EVERYWHERE; if you have people begging for more AP courses, put AP courses EVERYWHERE. Engage the students, in a safe and supportive environment, and you will succeed.


Sahila said...

You have no argument from me, then!!! LOL!...

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

"every student deserves ALL the programs like languages, music, and art; by placing these programs in "select" areas, you're not only depriving the majority of students..."

I could not agree more. But are you sure it is the district "placing these programs in select areas"? I thought schools has a lot of autonomy in decided how they spend their funding.

For instance, I know the district funds instrumental music for all 5th grade students, and for every middle school and high school. But even though every school gets funding for instrumental music not every school offers instrumental music.

For example Madrona K-8 didn't offer band/art/recess and a group of parents rallied to change that. But the principal was opposed. She believed Madrona kids should focus on improving their WASL scores, and didn't need recess/music/art. That was a school based choice.

And I am not naive. I know parent support and fundraising play a big part in a schools ability to offer extra enrichment/art/music classes, but lets also not forget that the district funds schools with a high percent of FRE students far greater than they fund the middle class schools. In fact in some cases low income schools get almost double per pupil funding than do middle class schools. In many cases low income schools receive far more $$$ via the extra district/state funding than middle class schools do with their minimal district/state funding and fundraising combined.

So, I'd check to see.....does the district place programs (music/art) in select schools, or do schools themselves pick and choose what they use their funding for.....with some schools just not placing a priority on enrichment and the arts?

Stu said...


I'm no expert but I believe that if a school raises lots of money the can spend it on what the want. The problem, of course, is this only works in schools that can raise money

I remember, a few years back, hearing that Sacajawea Elementary, which a pretty small school in the NE Cluster, was raising $100,000 per year and using that money for arts, smaller class sizes, and other things. This was amazing, for their school but that's one school. Meanwhile, there were all these school in less-affluent neighborhoods with larger class sizes and less options.

However, the district places language immersion programs, or more accurately doesn't place them, and makes them accessible to proportionately few students. I believe that EVERY student should have an opportunity to take EVERY program. (I'm not talking about things you test into; I'm talking about the basics.) I personally believe that, especially in the earliest grades, language, art, music, and science, are incredibly important and make learning even more enjoyable. This district says that it's really all about writing and math; they're not incorrect, just incomplete.

I don't believe that a school could raise money and decide to become a language immersion program; I don't think it's just school-level fund raising that leads to Spectrum or ALO. I don't begrudge fundraising and the subsequent "perks." I do, however, believe that district-sponsorted, and district-funded, programs should be offered district-wide.


adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

"I believe that if a school raises lots of money the can spend it on what the want. The problem, of course, is this only works in schools that can raise money"

This would be a great argument if the total amount of dollars that Sacajewea received from district/state funding and fundraising combined, exceeded the total amount of dollars that other lower income schools received from district/state funding alone.

However this is not generally the case. Sacajewea, with it's lower amount of district/state/fed funding and $100,000 of fundraising combined, received less total $$$ than many low income schools did because the district funds the low income schools far greater to compensate for this inequity.

Some of the district/state funding that low income schools receive is earmarked. But much of it is discretionary - the school has a lot of autonomy in deciding how they spend it.

Now, you are right in that they can not randomly decide to become a STEM school, or an immersion school, etc. But they certainly can use those dollars to provide foreign language classes, art, music, recess, gardening, sign language, drama, etc.

My point is that many low income school communities do not share your and my Values Stu. They do not place the same priority on offering art, music, foreign language. They want reading, writing and arithmetic. They want their kids to pass the WASL.

I lived in a low income Central District neighborhood for many years. I heard this sentiment repeated by many parents. I recall one of my neighbors being angry when her son came home with art work - she said "he can do this at home, I send him to school to learn to read, write and do math".

All I'm saying is check it out. The lack of enrichment and the arts in some schools may not be district imposed, though some things, like language immersion opportunities is.

Stu said...

The problem with using fund-raising to supply languages and smaller class sizes, is that the funing isn't consistent year-to-year. For example, if our school raises money and decides to offer languages, that same money must be raised every year for that same purpose.

I'm not saying that we should have cookie-cutter schools all offering exactly the same thing to every single student with no choice; I am saying, however, that every single student in the district needs to be guaranteed access to the same programs. If a child who lives next door to JSIS can get language immersion, why can't a student who lives over by Jane Addams? And if the district is going to offer a test-in program like Spectrum then they have to offer enough seats, in every cluster, to satisfy the need.


Maureen said...

Another problem with using fundraising dollars to pay for extras is that you can't always arrange to offer those extras during the school day schedule. The principal and staff have to agree to make time for art, music, language, drama, extra matter where the funding comes from. If the staff isn't supportive then the 'extras' get pushed to before or after school and many kids aren't able to participate.

Anonymous said...

Can everyone stop hijacking every APP-related thread to talk about the merits of program and the social woes of the city?! There's nothing wrong with those topics, but the intent of this thread was/is to talk about moving north end APP to the north end. Do we need "hijack monitors" to start deleting posts? :-(

On Topic
Many of the location/configuration ideas brought up here would be great. The problem, as always, is figuring out what is both feasible and palatable to the district.

Having spoken with board members about this over the course of the past year, the JA building is very unlikely to get any portion of APP. We all know there is a shortage of middle school seats in the area, and as long as the building remains a K-8, then bringing any part of the APP kids (elem or middle) into that building takes away potential seats for middle school students in the region. Not to mention that it would be even harder to change to a comprehensive MS, if and when that change takes place.

Let me partially plagiarize from one of my previous posts on another thread:

The best physical site for APP north elementary is McDonald. If you look at the full north region (NW,N,NE,QA/Mag), McDonald is almost dead center, and it's just a few blocks from an I-5 exit. It's absolutely perfect for an all-city draw program. It does have a maintenance backlog that's a bit higher than some of the other elementary buildings, but for context most buildings seem to fall into the $3-5 million range, and McDonald is $6 million. Having a north-but-centrally-located building online is valuable, no matter which program(s) might end up located there.

Because the north end is overcrowded, the only reasonable way to ever move the "north" half of elementary APP into the geographic area it actually serves is to do it when new buildings open - and that's about to happen. Otherwise, it would be putting an even tighter squeeze on the students already there. This is a special window of opportunity coming that's quite rare. Not to mention, this move would also free a bunch of seats in a part of the central cluster, where they will likely need more seats soon.

All this said, I have little confidence that the district would recognize a perfect solution if they saw one. I hope they prove me wrong this time!

ArchStanton said...

McDonald certainly looks interesting. I didn't really know about it 'till you mentioned it.

Can anyone point me to a map that shows all of the district school buildings? I found it annoying last year when we were looking at schools that might be opened, and found that the main map only showed active schools (e.g. no McDonald, MLK, Viewlands).

Some of that info can be found in the school histories section, but if you don't know a closed school by name, you don't know to look for it.

(I suspect this is by design)

Dorothy said...

McDonald and Marshall are pretty close to each other - maybe half a mile apart, and both on the West side of I5, with relatively easy access to it. McDonald has a playground, pretty good sized playground area, IIRC. I don't know the size or configuration of the building, but it sure seems like an ideal North end APP elementary site to me.

Maureen said...

How big would north end APP be? 250ish? McDonald was big enough for TOPS (535 kids) to be there (over 10 years ago) during their remodel. Though I think I heard that a few classes (grades?) were in portables. Maybe they could co-house with some other program? Probably not medically fragile like at Lowell, since I believe something similar is already at Greenlake. Are there self contained Asperger programs in the District?

Anonymous said...


Glad to shed some new light. :-) I'm not sure of an actual map, but here's a list with lots of building information, including many "offline" buildings. There are some buildings that are not listed, however, such as Garfield, Hamilton, Roosevelt. I'd guess that's because they were/are under renovation.

building conditions

In case the link doesn't come through intact, here it is broken up. Just glue it together.

Anonymous said...


Yes, it does seem ideal, doesn't it? If only the district administration sees it that way!

Will someone write this up as a program placement proposal?

John Marshall is convenient to I-5 as well, but it's not really configured for an elementary and it needs more work than McDonald. Some district folks and board members brought up the question of air quality at John Marshall, since it's right next to (below) the freeway, but none of them seemed bothered by a similar situation at Th.Marshall. :-(

Anonymous said...

Maureen said "How big would north end APP be? 250ish? McDonald was big enough for TOPS (535 kids) to be there (over 10 years ago) during their remodel. Though I think I heard that a few classes (grades?) were in portables. Maybe they could co-house with some other program? Probably not medically fragile like at Lowell, since I believe something similar is already at Greenlake. Are there self contained Asperger programs in the District?"

North end APP would pull most of the kids at Lowell this year (not including the current walk zone exceptions), and would probably gather a number of additional north end families that didn't want to deal with the longer commute to Lowell. I know of several families who probably would have picked Lowell if it was closer. So if I had to guess, I'd say it would probably end up above 250. Remember, the percentage of APP-qualified kids that stay at their neighborhood school is quite a bit higher in the north end than the south end. No surprise, just better local options.

I don't know the size of the McDonald building with/without portables offhand, but from visual inspection, it does look like there are 3 portables there right now, one looks like a single classroom size; one looks like the size of 2 classrooms; and a third is larger yet. No idea how the large one is configured inside. In any case, there would certainly be room for co-housing of some kind. Sadly, if the APP kids move from Lowell (to *anywhere* else) they would not likely be able to stick with the medically fragile kids who need some of the physical accommodations at Lowell. But perhaps one or more autism programs would be a good fit? Or maybe north-end Spectrum families would like to co-house? That might relieve pressure on some of the "more desirable" north end schools. This would be good question to bring up at one of the community meetings we're all so fond of, right? ;-)

Lest anyone think by my posts on this thread that I'm pushing for a near-term move out of Lowell for north APP, I'm not. Mostly because there has been so much upheaval that it would be nice to let the kids live out their elementary lives without yet another big change.

But if it's going to happen (and it does seem like it's a possibility), then it makes sense to put the program at the most rational site, and I can't think of a better alternative than McDonald.

Anonymous said...

Last point and I'll shut up for the night.

The building condition document referenced above shows McDonald with a $6 million maintenance backlog, which is above average for an elementary building.

But there are many *currently operating* buildings that have backlogs of $3-4 million.

The point is, the district would not need to spend $6 million to get the building perfect. It will more likely be $2 million to get it on par with other operating elementary buildings. Or maybe $3 million tops if they were aggressively (by their standards) trying to get ahead of the curve.

It'll be very interesting to see what the proposed budgets look like for opening these closed buildings. Look them over with a critical eye, and don't be afraid to call bull---- wherever things don't make sense!

Melissa Westbrook said...

The district has put in about $35M for the 5-6 reopened buildings. I would hope that would cover any costs to reopen them.

I think the general voting public might be quite surprised/shocked that (1) they want to reopen buildings right after they closed buildings and (2) they have to spend major money to reopen them when already in-use buildings need so much maintenance.

But I'll leave that to the wordsmiths in the Communications department. (Naturally, I'm being sarcastic as they don't want the public at large to know any of this before the levy vote so mum's the word.)

TechyMom said...

I'm late to the party on this post, mostly because I've been thinking long and hard about the topic...

I think it would be a terrible idea to move either APP program *this year*. The kids in those programs have had enough turmoil, and so have the kids in the ALO programs sitting in the same buildings. There are kids in the ALO at Lowell who were at both MLK and TT Minor, and we need to leave them alone for awhile.

In addition, the ALO programs need time to grow up. I don't think that its fair to use APP kids to improve a school, but I think that it is more than fair to use APP STAFF to do so. And that's what's happening at Lowell. I imagine it's happening at TM too, but I don't have first hand experience with that. The staff at Lowell has a lot of experience with advanced learners. They know how to recoginize them, how to grow them, and how to handle their quirks. They can train and mentor the ALO staff on how to do this. This is exactly what is needed to grow an ALO that actually works. It's also what's needed to convince the neighborhood families that the ALO is real. It will take several years to do that.

Now, MacDonald, or any other soon-to-open building in the North End, won't be ready for 3-4 years. In 3-5 years, after the ALOs at Lowell and TM are established and running, after neighborhood families have bought into the schools, taken positions in the PTA and ramped up fund-raising, after the kids who have been disrupted by the earlier moves have moved on to middle school, then, and only then, I could support moving both APP programs to locations that would be more convienent for people in that part of the city. North APP to the North End (maybe MacDonald) and South APP to the South End (maybe AAA/Van Asselt). APP STAFF (not kids) would then be able to build another ALO program at each location.

At that point, it's pretty likely that Central will need the capacity anyway, and opening up 500 more ALO seats in neighborhood schools would be very useful. But, that only works once those ALO programs are up and and running and considered 'good' schools.

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