Sunday, October 11, 2009

Open Thread for Anyone Who Attended the Washington SAP Boundaries Meeting

I'll be following up with my report out on the Eckstein SAP boundaries meeting.

18 comments:

sbw said...

I did not take notes during the meeting at Washington yesterday so I am writing completely from memory here.

The meeting followed the same format as Melissa reported from Eckstein. Participants were given one index card on which to write a question. SPS representatives present at the beginning of the meeting included: Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Don Kennedy, Tracy Libros, and Mary Bass. The questions were organized by volunteers and addressed by MG-J and Tracy Libros according to topic. Some questions were passed over as too school specific. Others addressed
• sibling placement. Dr. Libros pointed out that it would be considered in the tiebreaking process.
• equity between north and south. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson responded to this question as if it had been addressed ad nauseum to some other audience. She said that needs of schools would be addressed individually by something that sounded to me like a school-improvement team. Schools in need of more attention would get it. Those needing less would get less. Criteria for assessing need were not clarified.
• high school boundaries not considering metro routes, requiring some students to take three buses to get to school. Several factors were considered in drawing boundaries, metro routes were only one of those factors.
• how much access would children outside of attendance areas have to international programs? City-wide, a bit more than now because programs in the north will not be filled to capacity. Beacon Hill became an international program to meet the need of the neighborhood in which it’s located rather than to meet a greater need for international programs in the south.

Following the thirty-minute breakout session, small groups reported out on their comments and concerns.
• The new SAP is attractive because it increases predictability.
• The boundaries for Leschi and John Muir elementary schools divide the community of Mt. Baker.
• Parents who want to understand what sending their children to a neighborhood school really means, need to see projected demographic data that includes free- reduced-lunch and single-parent family info for each new attendance area.
• It is unclear how the District has collected demographic data for each attendance area. For example, how do they know they know how many children in each neighborhood are transient, homeschooled, attending private schools or schools in other districts? Where is this information made public?
• The only Spectrum program in the central area is located in the southernmost school. This will require kids living in Montlake and North Capitol Hill to travel quite far. If there is only one Spectrum program in each area, it should be central to all elementary schools in that area. Or, there should be more than one program in each area.
• The SAP seems to be driven on school capacity projections that neglect the need for families to remain intact.

At the end of the comment period, one community member asked for time for individuals to speak. Don Kennedy said it wasn’t on the agenda. The community member said that he would make the time, standing to say that although he had supported the public schools and that his child had been successful within the system, this process of reviewing the SAP was not a dialogue and that families had a right to contribute to making Seattle Public Schools world class.

This was the first time I had attended a community feedback meeting with SPS. I was surprised by a couple of things. The turnout was relatively low, leaving me with the impression that there were more volunteers and SPS employees than attendees. While I was impressed by the organization of the meeting, I was (and still am) shocked by the adversarial attitude of the District representatives toward its constituency. I went to the meeting thinking that SPS wanted to hear from community members and that we were doing a community service by participating in the public school decision-making process. I left with the profound sense that the public is a thorn in the side of the school system.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SBW, thanks for this information. I'm surprised the turnout was so low; I thought all these meetings would have high turnout.

Many people at the Eckstein meeting also felt the format was wrong. They wanted an open discussion so they could hear the questions and comments in a group.

It might be interesting to try to refuse to group and start asking for the microphone at one meeting.

ArchStanton said...

I went to the meeting thinking that SPS wanted to hear from community members and that we were doing a community service by participating in the public school decision-making process. I left with the profound sense that the public is a thorn in the side of the school system.

I'm sorry to say that's about par for the course. Excellent summary, by the way. Keep it up and they'll put you to work around here.

dj said...

Sbw, thanks for the reporting.

One question I have for you is whether the district representatives did anything during the meeting to explain its conception of what an "option school" will mean under the new plan. Are they envisioning schools that are basically neighborhood schools with transportation rights for other people in the area, or are they envisioning all-access programs with a small number of neighborhood seats set aside?

BTW, the FRE data are available on the appendices on the SPS page about the SAP, along with projections about the racial composition of schools. They also provide projections about non-native English speakers and special education populations. Nothing about single parents, though.

emeraldkity said...

Stop me if I missed something, but is all this shift to " neighborhood" schools supposed to " save us money by reducing busing somewhat?

If I understand it right- some areas have buildings that are more than half empty, some areas have buildings that are overflowing- so instead of putting fabulous programs in the half empty buildings we are closing schools in the sparse areas and reopening buildings in the packed ones.

You might say we have already tried to put attractive programs in to lure families- but really- they haven't.

My general impression although I have not gone through the figures is that we are spending more money to do all this- ( and leave some families like mine who live 2/10th of a mile from an elementary school sending their children almost two miles away), than we would if we did enticed families to attend schools outside the neighborhood.

We then could be actually putting money into maintenance instead of " reopening buildings that we mismanaged", plus we would have the " fabulous programs' to boot.

The economy is in the toilet, people are still getting laid off, Seattle is in the top 20% most expensive places to live, the schools are uneven at BEST, I don't think this is the time to undertake this mess.

none1111 said...

dj said: "BTW, the FRE data are available on the appendices on the SPS page about the SAP, along with projections about the racial composition of schools. They also provide projections about non-native English speakers and special education populations. Nothing about single parents, though."

Okay, I give up. I saw this data recently, but can't find it now. Can you give a link, or even a path of how to get to those appendices? Thanks.

Dorothy said...

none1111. appendix F for elementary schools.

none1111 said...

"on the appendices on the SPS page about the SAP"

and "appendix F for elementary schools"

Thanks, but where is the document itself? On the main SAP page there are links to "Learn More", "FAQ", "maps", none of which have said appendices. There are also high-level and mid-level overviews, the plan itself (July 1 version), but can't find the document referred to here.

I HAVE seen it, recently, so I'm feeling a little boneheaded, but where the heck is it?

Karrie said...

none 1111 -
If you click on the Maps link, they are listed right under the proposed maps.

seattleschools.org/area/newassign/maps.html

vanessa said...

I attended the community meeting as Washington on Saturday. I was also really disapointed in the low turnout of parents. I think that part of the reasoning behind the low turnout at Wahsington is because a significant portion of those students currently live on Capital Hill and based on the new boundary maps, our children will be slated for Garfield which was what most of us hoped for. I also know that this meeting was scheduled late, it was not part of the original list of meetings and was only added after our last PTA meeting.

Maureen said...

Did anyone question the size of Garfield's boundaries? I can't believe they expect to fit all of those kids in--unless they split or move APP. Last year, the circle only went out about 1.5 miles. Maybe they are planning on really confirming everyone's addresses and throwing out the kids got in with fake addresses? How much will that cost?

none1111 said...

Thanks Karrie. That looks like a different page than I saw previously, but the same data.

Some of the middle schools are going to RADICALLY change. Hamilton will change almost overnight from one of the more racially-balanced to the whitest middle school in the district. McClure, similarly, although not quite to the same extent. Washington changes from a predominantly white/asian school, more than doubling the black population, but not an actual majority. It will be a very diverse school.

Are people happy with these changes, or bothered?

West Seattle said...

Throwing this in here as I don’t see any other place to mention West Seattle related SAP info.

I attended the Steve Sundquist meeting at Schmitz Park last night hosted by the Alki, Schmitz and Lafayette PTA’s. The big news was that they were changing the boundaries for Denny/Sealth so they align. This will likely impact the elementary boundaries as well. Then new map will not be public until 11/3.

butter25 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
butter25 said...

In response to None111 - I believe you are using 2008-2009 demographics in your argument (the demographics at WMS changed dramatically with the APP slit this year). The current demographics at Washington Middle School are black 29.4%, white 28.9%, and Asian 29.8%. With the new SAP they will be black 35%, white 30%, and Asian 22%. While I agree that Hamilton will become an extremely white school, look at the neighborhood it is in; the schools will reflect their neighborhoods. I think that misleading parents about demographic changes due to the SAP is irresponsible.

Roy Smith said...

none1111,

I suspect that the people pushing for neighborhood schools (and there are a lot of them) are not overly bothered by the demographic shifts. The new SAP pretty clearly prioritizes having neighborhood schools over artificially creating diversity in schools.

dave said...

Not be beat the demographics subject to death, but here's the link to the summary demo info by middle school. See the last page. none1111 had it right.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/NSAP_ProposedBoundaries_Appendix_E.pdf

butter25 said...

Dave & none1111 - Regarding WMS, the demographic figures listed on the link and page you noted are those from last year (before the split of APP - 2008-2009). The demographics for this year (2009-2010) are already significantly different from those of last year (and are noted in my prior post). I would hate to have parents read these posts and be misled to believe that the new SAP is going to change the demographics as much as claimed here, at least in terms of Washington Middle School.