The first one by Nina Shapiro was about the issue of reopening schools just after the district closed schools. It had a couple of interesting things that I hadn't known.
"No one knows for sure why this turnaround has occurred, but one factor is surely an influx of students from private schools due to the recession. The state's 528 private schools have seen a cumulative drop in enrollment of about five percent this year, to 80,000 students, according to Judy Jennings, executive director of the Washington Federation of Independent Schools."
Really? I had heard that they had many more applications at private schools than space. But 5% is a lot. I wonder what it was in Seattle.
"DeBell notes the district went to the city during its 2006 decision-making to ask for demographic guidance, but the city could offer none. Tom Hauger, manager of Seattle's Comprehensive Plan, says that the city does not keep information on how many families live where."
As I mentioned elsewhere, the City didn't have a demographer in 2006 (the position was reinstated in 2007 or 2008). But the City doesn't keep information on who lives where?
"DeBell acknowledges there were "hints" of space needs in the north end several years ago. But he maintains that only in the past two years have all north-end schools begun getting crowded, not just the schools viewed as especially desirable. And he says one of the closures was meant to be temporary: The district closed Old Hay in Queen Anne just this year, in order to move out the bilingual program that was there and get the building ready to accommodate more students."
This one, as a reader previously pointed out, is particularly shocking. We closed Old Hay to get SBOC out? I thought all the closures were to save money (but I guess that's only when you are pushing the plan).
"Whatever the reasons, the district's about-face is going to be costly. Numerous expenses come with closing schools, including hiring a project manager to oversee the process and "team-building" exercises for staff transferred to new schools, according to district spokesperson David Tucker. He could not provide figures for how much it cost to close the schools being reopened, but says that '07 closures overall racked up approximately $2 million in expenses.Now the district projects that it will cost $48 million to reopen the five schools—money it hopes to raise from a levy that goes before voters in February. Some of that work, related to structural fixes, would have been done even if the schools had remained open, according to Tucker."
Ah yes, the dirty little secret of closing schools...it costs money. And $2M isn't chump change. As for Mr. Tucker's statement that some of the work being done on the reopening buildings would have been done anyway, I say ....really? The district does virtually no basic maintenance. The only thing they really care about in the closed buildings is the roof (so water doesn't get in and make things worse) and broken windows (makes the neighbors crazy).
Second story (and I hadn't heard about this) is that the district is going to have PE teachers, starting in 3rd grade, weigh and measure kids.
"The logic, as the school district offers it, is solid: They want to give kids a way to assess their own health and fitness. Part of that process includes determining their body mass index, which is calculated by measuring their height and weight. But the problems if you're a parent are just as easy to spot.
For one, kids are evil. Everyone knows this. And so despite the school's best efforts to keep the measurements private, you can rest assured that some particularly resourceful little bastard is going to find a way to make them public, thus giving them ammo for the kind of unparalleled psychological torture not seen since the more active days at Gitmo."
From the KING 5 news story:
"Dunn says that students have the opportunity to opt out and that letters should have been sent home from the schools explaining the new program. The letters include a request section that parents can fill out if they would like to have their son or daughter excused from BMI testing. But some parents say they never got a letter and their kids have already been weighed and measured. The district says some letters may still be going out."Didn't we learn anything from this when they did this to us? I wasn't the fat kid but yes, I was the shortest kid...every single freakin' year. It was humiliating (plus I was always the last one picked for kickball with my stubby little legs). At least SPS claims it will be done privately; ours were out in the open. And doing it to middle schoolers? Can you imagine the kids with body issues who are already thin comparing notes on who is the "most" thin?
The article ends with some common sense.
"There's nothing wrong with teaching kids right and wrong in school, including when it comes to healthy living. What's good to eat. What isn't. How much you should exercise and about how much you should weigh."