I attended Sherry Carr's community meeting this morning. Lots of interesting topics. I came into it about a half hour after it got started but I think I got what the discussion was.
Topic 1 - Getting kids to school from daycare and from school to after-school care.
This seems to be an issue around Olympic View (which I thought had on-site daycare but this is likely another daycare). This is important because it raise several issues.
One is that apparently some kids get yellow bus transportation to and from daycare. I certainly wouldn't have thought this true but I think I understood Sherry to say this was on a space available basis. Many parents there felt this issue needed to be addressed in the new SAP and that space-available was not good enough. I mentioned that walkability was not weighted in the new SAP and only one of several variables used to make the boundaries. I told parents to tell the district how much this means to them. (Also, someone brought up that the walk path from their home took several kids past the house of a registered sex offender. I would have thought the district would check walk paths for this kind of thing because no parent wants that.)
However, I didn't say (but wanted to gently point out) that many other districts have little to no transportation. (I was just talking to friends in Palo Alto and their district has no transportation.) One of our biggest costs in this district IS transportation. Now under the new SAP, if most people stay near home, then the district will see this cost savings right away. However, as Charlie has pointed out, there are issues of transporting kids to Option Schools and high school kids to out of area high schools (if there is room or they get in on an Open Choice seat) on yellow bus if Metro is not available. We still have transportation issues. What I am trying to say is that this district really had a LOT of transportation available and I think the pullback may be traumatic for some if the district says, sorry, that's it.
A woman also brought up whether parents would be able to enroll their student using their work address, saying that it was just more convenient for some parents. I had heard from district staff that a lot of the out-of-district enrollment in the south end comes from parents who wanted their child near where they work. I don't recall seeing this in the new SProxy-Connection: keep-alive
Topic 2 - Alternative school audit. I came in on the tail end of this but it seemed a couple of parents were good with the delay. However, I did smile when Sherry said that it wouldn't be good to have the audit if they couldn't then implement the recommendations. Well, that hasn't stopped the district yet; how many of the APP audit recommendations did they implement?
Topic 3 - High school seat time. This came up in the thread about the district changing to a "D" average for graduation. Parents from West Seattle have been working on this issue for years and have accumulated a mass of information. Basically, if you go to Roosevelt or Garfield, you would get out of school, based on the instructional time (which includes everything except lunch even early dismissal days), on time in June. If you went to Rainier Beach, based on the seat time, you'd get out in July and from Hale, in August. (This, of course, is hypothetical.)
I pointed out, as did someone else in the "D" thread, that this seems odd that the district is hurrying towards curriculum alignment of the high schools and yet this issue has gone under the radar. (I would also point out that I need to read and post the Cohort study released to the Board; Sherry referred to it several times and it looks like it has some good info.) I said my mantra of parents not being detectives and that there should be a baseline (that I think includes instructional time) for every single high school (unless it is an alternative). That means you go into any comprehensive high school and find X number of AP and Honors classes, music/arts in some form, etc. Then each high school has its own focus and programs but you, as a parent, would go in knowing the baseline for SPS high schools.
There was one Hale parent there who got a little prickly over the issue. Look, Hale is a good school that has a somewhat different model (Coalition of Essential Schools - previously discussed in another thread) and he argued that seat time was not the whole story. And he would be right except that the amount of time is so glaring between schools. He also said something quite interesting that I'll have to run past Michael Tolley, the high school director. He said that they did have a large number of early releases/late starts days but that didn't mean the kids weren't in the building. A teacher I know was there at the meeting and we exchanged glances because this seemed odd. The parent continued that the students came and were working on their senior projects, etc. The teacher asked about supervision and the parent shrugged.
I'll have to ask Mr. Tolley but I think you can't have kids in the building without supervision. This was one of the issues at Roosevelt (and other schools) during the WASL. We could not have kids come to the school if they (1) didn't have a specific purpose for being there and (2) had no supervision. So the teacher and I were puzzled over Hale having large numbers of students unsupervised in their building while staff and teachers were getting professional development.
It's definitely on Sherry's radar and I think it will get some play soon.
To me, it's an example of these little waivers here and there and everywhere in the district where there is a rule/policy and yet one school gets out of it. For example, all the other high schools have to start early except Center and Hale. (Even Ballard who had started at 8:30 got pushed back to 8.) Now I get Center because it's downtown. I was told Hale got to stay with its later start because it was "cost-neutral" to the district. I wonder how many schools know that if something is cost neutral, the district will grant a waiver.