I had questioned the costs for the "upgrade" for a 2nd computer lab. There are two pots of money in the BTA III levy for Cleveland. One is capital and one is technology. The one for technology is for $1.1M. The one for capital is for $1.6M is stated as "Academics- Curriculum review and any capital work to facilitate STEM school implementation." The company, Project Lead the Way, that is providing the engineering curriculum clearly told me they asked for nothing more than a wired classroom. Cleveland is new building and is fully wired. That would be the technology money going for either computer stations or laptops. (Dr. Enfield stated this last night in terms of what they need for technology.) I believe the capital pot of money is quite nebulous and the district isn't quite sure what they need the money for but they are clearly worried about having enough money.
(FYI, I'm going to do some research tomorrow and look other STEM schools in Washington state and elsewhere and see what they did to start up and what they are using for materials.)
Dr. Enfield also said;
- New Tech Network, the company that is doing the start-up for STEM, has been working with SEA
- Under implementation, she said that 10 teachers would take a 2-day trip to shadow STEM teachers at other schools, there would be a 5-day intensive professional development for the Cleveland STEM teachers, a leadership academy workshop for the administrators and they would be using LAP dollars for math enhancement for current students to get them up to speed before the fall.
- The Board is to vote on the NTN contract on Feb. 3rd.
- All current Cleveland students are guaranteed to get in as well as priority for their incoming sibs.
Harium: What is the criteria for success? I would like to see something "thicker" here to gauge the program. How do we know if the program is doing what it needs to do?
Enfield: We are developing an agreement with staff that they will sign in terms of commitment to the program. Those who don't will get super seniority to go elsewhere (there's a gift to those teachers and I'll bet you'll see some younger teachers at Roosevelt, Garifield and Ballard get moved).
Harium: Will teaching be open to all district teachers?
Enfield: No, it first goes to Cleveland teachers.
Harium: How do we know we have the right teachers with the right skill set?
Enfield: We're working with staff and the SEA, NTN training and some who don't feel up to it will leave.
Maier: Beyond 4 years, what is the expectation for spending the $600,000 a year for the extended day - that's a big investment for one program.
Enfield: We looked at successful models and what is essential for success for a STEM school. This may not be an on-going cost but it provides extra prep for students. [So does this mean the extended day is temporary? Hard to say.
Maier: what about some $100K-$300K for lab upgrades? He asked if it were in BTA III.
Enfield: It is projected funding out of BTA III but they are getting the money now from BEX and paying it back. [Keep track of that bouncing capital ball, kids.]
Maier: Are the LAP funds all out of Cleveland funding?
Enfield/staff guy: (italics mine) No, there will be a redistribution of LAP funds from other schools (the state budget did not cut LAP funds). [Okay, so here's what Betty Patu astutely predicted: money will be taken from other schools for STEM.]
Sherry: I would like to see an accounting of the repurposing of funds from other schools for Cleveland. How much of the two-thirds that you anticipate the district spending on this will come from other programs?
Enfield: will get that to you
Sherry: NTN has a lightweight website and I'd like to know more about them and who they are.
Enfield: will get that to you
Sherry: How will we know we are succeeding with this program with kids all over the city who choose it? Meaning, these are students who are likely to be successful at any high school so how do we know we are reaching new students looking for rigor?
Enfield: Well, we will be looking at antedotal evidence [but she didn't mention surveying initial students and parents] for how students react to the program. [Sherry seemed happy with this answer but I was baffled.]
Carr: If there are a limited number of seats - 100 for each grade, 9th and 10th initially - what will happen if more apply?
Michael Tolley said they are expecting to be at 900 students when the program grows into 4 years. [Good for them, that would fill the school.]
Patu: will they need a certain GPA?
Tolley: no GPA. [Then he said something about use of the geographic tiebreaker and sibling tiebreaker which confused me because of her question.]
Patu: What guarantees of success do we have for the money being spent?
Dr. G-J - STEM is not the first step. SE Initiative was so we have been laying the groundwork for success. There is no guarantee but staff is doing all it possibly can to make it succeed.
Steve: We have a budget deficit. What I would like to know is this all or nothing? Or can we scale back and then scale up as it grows?
Enfield: we had a lengthy budget process to pare back without hurting the quality
Kennedy: we have a timed budgeting sequence and so some things need to be decided in advance. Can talk about it later during my budget piece. [I haven't heard this piece yet but it certainly sounds like when the Board votes it'll be a "hurry up" vote.]
Kay: teacher development costs under NTN contract at $100K first year, $150K year two, etc?
Enfield: Correct so total NTN contract is $500K
Kay: she references TAF (TEchnology Access Foundation and their programs) and how long they took to find the right teachers
Enfield; There are links to sites at NTN with other schools and their models especially New Tech in Napa. She also referenced site visits for the Board.
Kay: What about the summer tech program?
Tolley: Summer tech is more a recruitment for Cleveland students so they could see themselves there. [I never heard this before, anyone?]
De Bell: I sense that many of my colleagues are like me; enthused but skeptical of the costs. Are there less expensive models to look at?
Tolley: the district staff couldn't come up with the program on their own so we have to go outside. No comparable program to NTN
De Bell: yes, but a quick web browse shows many other models. Where are they with costs?
Dr. G-J: I can show you a matrix of programs we looked at.
De Bell: I'm skeptical about the extended day model. The SE Initiative did not move Cleveland ahead; what is different here?
Enfield: The extended day work will be purposeful and work to help the program.
Dr. G-J: Performance managment shows the SE Initiative did increase academic performance with significant gains at Aki and Cleveland. [Clearly, this is not what De Bell understands to be true and I'd have to see it myself.]
There's no reading between the lines to see that the Board is worried. They want this to work, they think it's a good idea but the money is a lot for the state of our budget. I don't blame them for not wanting to make a huge, costly mistake.
I still believe that have Cleveland operate as Sealth and Ingraham do - comprehensives with a rigorous program embedded would work the best. It wouldn't cost as much, you could go slow and get it up to speed (especially with funding). With IB, anyone can take a class - you do not have to commit to a program. This allows teachers who see a promising student to nudge them over. Maybe they could have a STEM program with some crossover classes to encourage those students.
I think the problem of the money - both from where we fund it (where is it all coming from and what other programs/schools have to sacrifice for it) and how huge the start-up costs are are - are really troubling the Board. I don't think this district is in the right place and time for a full-out program but it's not my call.