Friday, January 22, 2010

Odds and Ends

Just to be clear about the grandfathering of siblings, here's the official word from the SPS News and Calendar piece on the Transition Plan:

In-coming kindergarten siblings:
The School Board and staff at Seattle Public Schools have a sincere desire to enable incoming, non-attendance area kindergarten siblings to be assigned to the same school as their older sibling if requested by the family. While we are not able to guarantee sibling grandfathering, we are fully committed to making every reasonable effort to accommodate as many kindergarten siblings as possible in their older sibling's school. The Transition Plan outlines a series of steps to accomplish that goal. For families whose preference for the Kindergarten sibling to attend the older child's school cannot be honored, we are committed to a "safety net" so the students will not have to attend a different school. (bold and italics mine)

STEM
STEM Open House @ Cleveland
Saturday, January 23, 2010
9:30 am – 12:00 pm
5511 15th Avenue South
A continental breakfast will be served starting at 9:30 am. Presentations will start at 10:00 am.

Also, STEM will be one topic at the Board Work Session next Wednesday, from 4-6:30 p.m. Also on that agenda is High School Reform/Language Arts.

Interesting article from the South Seattle Beacon on STEM. From the article:

"With about 700 students, Cleveland supports 300 students below its capacity, but principal Princess Shareef said the decision was not based on the enrollment numbers.

"We could function as a comprehensive high school, but with the new assignment plan, the reality is there are more students living in the Rainier Beach [High School] area and Franklin [High School] area than live in the Cleveland area," shareef said. "Therefore, it makes sense to have Rainier Beach and Franklin be comprehensive high schools and have Cleveland as an option school."

Charlie, anyone, help me out here. I hadn't understood that there are not enough students in the Cleveland area to fill the school. My understanding had been that there are many students between RBHS and Cleveland who leave to go to other high schools and, if they all came back, both schools would be nearly full.

Also:

"What I'm concerned about is that I want a balanced program; I want the school to remain diverse. The teachers and families want it to remain diverse, but when we have community meetings, families from our community haven't been showing up," Shareef explained. "I want the Beacon Hill community to understand what is going to be happening here and for them to consider having their kids be students here."

And this:

"I don't get a feel for the community around Cleveland. When we've offered, I haven't seen this particular community be involved," Shareef said. "I don't know if they know about it and know how to access it - that's a big concern for me. I want everyone to be able to access it."

If she is expressing concern over neighborhood outreach, then I hope the district is helping her.

Board Director Community Meetings

(Update: A reader said Harium's blog had a meeting tomorrow; I was going with the Board calendar at the district. So give it a try, I suppose.)
Jan 23 2010 (Sat)
Diva Espresso Lake City Way & 80th NE
9:30 AM to 11:30 AM

There are none scheduled for this weekend. I hope that we see a couple of Board members at the STEM presentation.

Math Adoption Lawsuit (here's a link to their webpage)

Seattle, Washington – January 21, 2010 – A hearing is set for Tuesday,
January 26th, at 8:30 AM, in Room W 842 of the King County Courthouse.
The courthouse is located at 516 3rd Avenue, Seattle. Judge Julie
Spector will hear the the appeal of a Seattle School Board vote last May
to adopt the Discovering Mathematics high school textbook series. The
appellants contend that the school district acted arbitrarily and
capriciously by voting 4 to 3 to adopt a type of textbook associated
with a widening achievement gap between minority students and white
students, and between low-income and other students.

36 comments:

SolvayGirl1972 said...

What about MS siblings? I have many friends who live in the Aki area with kids at Mercer or WMS and another child coming up the pipe. Will their 6th grade siblings get any priority?

Maureen said...

Harium's blog says that he has Coffee meeting scheduled for this Saturday:

Jan 23 2010 (Sat)
Diva Espresso Lake City Way & 80th NE
9:30 AM to 11:30 AM

Keepin'On said...

It is my understanding that for middle and high school, the rules are:

attendance area
Sibling
Lottery.



However, they have changed it may times, so who knows at this point.

Lori said...

Thanks, Maureen. I hope someone who goes asks for details about the kindergarten surge capacities, because families really want to know: which schools are being considered for 1/2 day K only? When will families learn exactly which surge strategies are being considered for which schools so that they can make the best possible choices come open enrollment?

I was really surprised that no one asked for details about these strategies at the Board meeting the other nite (at least not during the part I watched, which I believe was pretty much the entire transition discussion)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hmm, I looked at Harium's list of community meetings at the district and it didn't have that one. I guess I might go with the one at the blog.

sixwrens said...

I suggest you request a meeting with your principal and concerned parents to talk about what will happen at your school, whether they anticipate too many sibs and if so, how they plan to accommodate those sibs. It is beginning to seem like principals will have some influence on this aspect of the NSAP implementation. They also have a vested interest in trying to keep their school community together.

I also have the impression that much of the implementation will be done by hand (!). Does anyone have any real information about how the plan will be implemented? Is the VAX over and done with?

Lori said...

sixwrens, we had a PTSA meeting this week. Believe it or not, but principals have not been given details about what might happen at their schools yet as far as surge strategies go. Yes, the principals are involved locally and working with families to determine how many affected siblings are out there, but the district does not appear to have discussed specific options with specific schools yet. I agree that it's a good idea to be having these conversations as a community at the local level, but people also need to be aware that they may not ultimately have control.

I know from my experience two years ago that capacity decisions get made after open enrollment and the principal does not always have a say in the matter. I don't mean to sound like an alarmist, but the trends lately are all for central control over local control. We need to keep asking what the plans are before they are foisted upon us by the district.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Sixwrens, the VAX is still with us for this year (maybe next). And yes, Tracy said some applications will have to be done by hand but she didn't seem too worried about it (she's done this before).

hschinske said...

Considering the district apparently spent $14 million on migration from the VAX over five years ago, you'd think we'd be through with it by now. (Source: http://www.zoominfo.com/people/Colton_Travis_48045427.aspx)

"Travis joined APQC in July of 2005 from the Seattle Public School District. He was the Enrollment and Technology Planning Manager responsible for forecasting, work order processing, end-user computer support for the Facilities Division, strategic analysis for all student assignment policy and procedures, student appeals and project management for technology initiatives.

"Travis co-managed the $14 million migration of the VAX/INGRES student information system at the Seattle School District onto a Windows 2003/SQL Server 200/.NET platform. He instituted and managed project status and weekly task schedules, developed a change control management system and managed a staff of 12 people responsible for social research, operations, strategic technology planning and data management."

So did this really happen? or was Travis Colton inflating his resume? or what?

Helen Schinske

seattleopen said...

Jut a quick update:
McGilvra's principal DeWanda Cook-Weaver was placed on leave today. Retired Bagley principal Birgit McShane will serve as acting principal.
This is an incredible relief to our teachers and school community. Our school has been in complete chaos since she arrived.
Any feedback about her Ms. McShane would be great appreciated.

Maureen said...

Our school has been in complete chaos since she arrived.

Examples?

dan dempsey said...

I think Harium and Michael DeBell are head to LA to look at NTN schools.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Birgit McShane was principal at Graham Hill when we started in the Montessori Preschool and was there until SPS moved her to start up the Montessori program at Daniel Bagley. She was a terrific principal, and we were all sad to see her go.

Jessica said...

Brigit McShane was my 3rd grade teacher at the old Hay almost 30 years ago. I have no feedback on her as a principal, but I do have found memories of her as a teacher.

owlhouse said...

Adding to the odds and ends-
The Alternative School Coalition is working to host an Option School Fair. We hope to promote understanding of option programs district wide and to assist with enrollment in option schools. We've been in contact with Board Directors and multiple district staff and departments. We envision a family-friendly event, attracting students from across the city, timed with the open enrollment period.

Stay tuned.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Principal McShane, from what I know and hear, is a fine principal. I believe she started the Montessori program at Bagley and was well respected. Sherry Carr probably knows her as Sherry's kids were at Bagley.

Siblings Parent said...

Melissa,

you referred to my public testimony preceding the January 20 School Board vote, in which I unsuccessfully urged the School District to include in its Transition Plan this crucial provision that would allow grandfathered older siblings of preschoolers to transfer in Fall 2010 into their own attendance area school. “Upon request, grandfathered attendance area older siblings at any grade will also be assigned to their attendance area elementary school for 2010-11, whether or not their younger sibling has already reached school age.” As I pointed out, without this Section II.B amendment, the Transition Plan is based on a false mathematical premise and will itself create the so-called “capacity” problem it refuses to resolve.

Your agreement on this point welcome. You write: “On this issue, I think it would have been worth trying to put older sibs at the younger sibs' attendance area school and see how it played out. If the goal was everyone who wanted a neighborhood school at that school, they should have tried it. They seemingly have little data to support their claims and the district is waiting to see how it plays out. Why not play it out at the attendance area schools?”

Actually, Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson’s last-minute January 17 supporting statistical analysis rests on a basic math error, so that the district has in fact no data to support its repeated claim of a “capacity” problem, other than that resulting from this particular self-created artificial clog upon the movement of attendance area older siblings of preschoolers.

Logically, the automatic transfer of grandfathered older siblings into Grades 1-5 of their own attendance area elementary school cannot create any capacity problem, because each such transfer simultaneously opens up an empty seat at the same grade in their grandfathering school. Since the net impact on capacity is mathematically zero; there is no logical capacity objection against allowing grandfathered older siblings of preschoolers to transfer in 2010-11 into their own attendance area school. If you shake a bag with 250 beans in it (i.e. all the grandfathered older siblings), and then open up the bag, you will still find 250 beans in that bag.

Moreover, the Draft Transition Plan refuses to recognize that every grandfathered older sibling who chooses to transfer into their attendance elementary school will also invariably pull all their younger preschool siblings behind, removing that entire family from any need to jostle with other incoming Kindergartners at the doors of the grandfathering non-attendance area school. Effectively, in one stroke this simple fix thus resolves the so-called sibling grandfathering “capacity” problem, which in fact is entirely the product of the Transition Plan’s self-defeating design.

In passing this deeply flawed Transition Plan, the School Board got the elementary math all wrong. They should, could, and still can guarantee both sibling unity and school stability to all grandfathered attendance area children, by amending the Transition Plan now to include the language quoted above. Fortunately, this remains a simple fix. It is not yet too late.

Walter J. Walsh

zb said...

Well, I find that clarification about siblings as clear as mud.

"For families whose preference for the Kindergarten sibling to attend the older child's school cannot be honored, we are committed to a "safety net" so the students will not have to attend a different school."

I presume, at the least, that the last sentence should read "a different school from each other".

But, on top of that, are they reverting back to the "we'll find some school, somewhere" rather than that this "different" school will be the attendance area school, if that's the parent's preference?

Central Mom said...

zb..you've got it.
the district is saying, if it comes down to it because of crowding, what's more important to your family???...

keeping your kids together, or getting your entry level kid into an older sibling's non-attendance school.

no guarantee for the latter. that's what upsets many folks.

BUT...if kids together is most important, the District promises to make it happen. if it can't happen at the eldest's school...or the attendance school... because of crowding, they'll find a school in the service area that has room for both.

does that mean it will be the least-popular school(s)? well, yup, probably. But not necessarily...as demographics and facility size will also have some bearing on capacity in this next year...

krisaamot said...

In a well defined plan it would be easy to guarentee sib's together. Sadly, as several have noted, this is a deeply flawed plan, followed by even worse execution. For example, in our West Seattle neighborhood the new boundaries are cut off 1 block North and 1 block West of our school. The combined area of the New and Old areas are almost 150% larger than the new area alone, plus many families are from out of either area. Those of us cut off were assigned to a school that is not really even in our neighborhood, with much lower perceived quality of education. Therefore, practically nobody will "voluntarily" send their children there. It is impossible to guarentee all families in the combined old and new areas access (our school is overcrowded with portables before all this, btw) access. Of course everyone could see this coming, but the district ignored it. "Sibling Parent's" math would work perfectly in a well designed plan, but not in this one.

Central Mom said...

west seattle is a mess. i think SS sees it and understands it and in fact wants to tinker with the current plan to make the singular issues on the peninsula work out for families there.

but, the staff has insisted that the current computer is not up to the task of handling special coding to address the situation. therefore, they are saying "next year."

is this "fair" to WS parents affected THIS year? no. absolutely not. it stinks. is there a solution? apparently SS believes not...not without the help of upgraded enrollment software programming.

if this is not addressed by 2011-2012, the community should scream extremely extremely loudly. for this year, it seems everyone is at a loss/standstill. i don't have any better ideas. perhaps someone else does.

Lori said...

about the siblings, they are guaranteeing "reverse grandfathering" if the incoming K child cannot be accommodated at the older child's school. This is a subtle point in the documents, but here it is:

If the incoming K student applies just for the older sibling’s school during Open
Enrollment and is assigned to the new attendance area school instead, the older sibling will be assigned to the attendance area school upon request (assuming services needed are available at that school).


The only time that the district will essentially find a school with space for both kids is if the parents list multiple choices during Open Enrollment and the kids are split. Then, upon request, the district will find one school in the family's area with space for both.

So it looks to me like the vast majority of children will be together either in the older child's school or the new reference school. We'll see how it plays out, but some schools are either going to have a large cohort of incoming kindergarteners or the already-large higher grade cohorts are going to be made bigger.

(and if I'm reading this wrong, I'm sure someone will point it out!)

Lori said...

The *problem* with SiblingParent's plan is that the only families that would exercise that option are ones trying to leave a less desirable school for a more desirable school.

The people currently in a school they like mostly do not want to pull our their thriving happy child and transfer them somewhere else in the middle of their elementary school experience. That's why most arguments have been to get the incoming children into that school, NOT to get all children into the new attendance area school.

Mathematically, the *best* plan would have been a bandage plan: rip it off knowing it's painful but then it's over -- all children go to their new attendance area school on day 1, end of story. I'm not advocating for that, but it would have been the only way to avoid overcrowding at certain schools.

wseadawg said...

Yes, West Seattle is a mess indeed. It began last year when the centrally located Pathfinder program displaced the Cooper population, causing a counter-clockwise shift in the attendance areas for all the North end schools, away from their natural neighborhood boundaries. They were actually fine where they were before, already full and right-sized for their neighborhoods.

But now, the dim bulbs at SPS have now made it worse, much worse.

Sundquist tried to alleviate some concerns by giving preferential treatment to those who live near the N/S border in WS, with his attempts to allow 3 schools to feed either Madison or Denny, but how is that fair when everyone else is stuck with what they get? Ironically, Sundquist accused KSB of giving preferential treatment to only K8 kids when she offered her amendment to allow grandfathering of transportation for them. A little hypocritical of him to accuse her of preferential treatment, wasn't it?

Sundquist is great at framing issues in self-serving ways to satisfy himself that he's doing the right thing, yet, he repeatedly talks from both sides of his mouth. He's too often a mouthpiece and an apologist for the district, and seems to have blind faith in their integrity and competency. Meanwhile they tear apart WS neighborhoods he's supposed to represent. I can't seem him remaining popular with all the hell families in WS have been put through on his watch.

wsnorth said...

wseadawg and others you are right on! The district and our director have just caused complete chaos and inequity here in WS. Our "Southern" HS/MS pair will be overcroweded with few open seats, while our "Northern" HS/MS pair will be starved of feeder students and funding. On the elementary scorecard it is even worse! At least 4 boundaries are just insane - cutting off within a block or two of the TRUE neighborhood school. The wrong 2 schools closed, 4 schools already overcrowded and with portables, 2 more listed by the district as too crowded to accommodate sib's, 2 switching "north/south" feeder patterns (with years of trailing sibling issues), 1 (sort of) International school whose students had been promised a path that is now gone. More portables apparently coming, dangerous walk zones created... the only ammendment our director offered was to put some families in our wealthiest neighborhood back in "their" local school. It all makes me ill.

wseadawg said...

WSNorth: Get organized, show up at Sundquist's meetings and give him a piece of your mind. He needs to hear it. Right now he feels that most people support him and only a vocal minority complain. He seems satisfied that he's doing a great job, which, at this time, I can't understand.

While I appreciate some things he's done and tried to do, and generally think he wants to make things better, he's acquiescing in far too many critical changes that are really screwing his constituents long term.

Keep in mind this all comes right after all the arguments last year about how badly the district needed to close schools to save money. Well, how'd that work out?

To create true "neighborhood schools" they are cleaving neighborhoods in half and gerrymandering. And they call it "capacity management."

So, we must burn the villages to save them? Good grief!

zb said...

"If the incoming K student applies just for the older sibling’s school during Open
Enrollment and is assigned to the new attendance area school instead, the older sibling will be assigned to the attendance area school upon request (assuming services needed are available at that school)."

Lori -- I've been repeating this everywhere, too. The problem is, as Melissa has pointed out the district still isn't coming up with a clear statement of the sibling plan with something like a flowchart that shows what happens in different circumstances based on what you write down as your preference. I'm guessing (though it's dangerous) that this is because they hope that they will manage many people (or at least the loudest/most involved ones) by allowing the younger K-sib access to the older kid's school this year.

And, yes, SiblingParent -- your plan could have worked, if they weren't grandfathering current students into the school they currently attend. But, with that grandfathering, students are holding a place in a school that can't be given to an attendance area student.

Oh, and someone brought this up to me -- since students "new" to the school system are guaranteed entrance into your attendance area, why can't a current student just become a "new" one, if they want to return to their attendance area? Withdraw in June from your current school, and then, show up as a "new" student at your attendance area in September?

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

wseadawg, and others, the sad and outrageous thing is that getting organized and being vocal doesn't seem to help. My kids and I gathered and submitted signatures about the boundary lines, more signatures about the imbalance between "north" and "south" HS/MS enrollment, presenting the district's own "facts" back to them. The Madison PTA was equally outspoken on behalf of so many. My wife and I attended a half a dozen or so meetings between us, have emailed every member of the board repeatedly, and met several board members in person, letting them know the facts on the ground - how we and so many others feel! The West Seattle Director can only be ashamed of what he has allowed to happen in West Seattle, other than the addition of the 2 new Spectrum programs. I feel the only things left are to vote with our feet or pocketbooks or both.

wseadawg said...

If nothing else, the comments are in the record, and in a couple years, when more people realize how screwed up and dysfunctional the boundary lines are, maybe then they'll get adjusted so they make more sense to people who live in the cluster.

dj said...

If a family's highest priority is to keep sibs together, there will I imagine be a number of schools in the district where that will easily be possible, because there are unpopular schools that even under the new SAP are likely to end up underenrolled.

The problem is that keeping sibs together is, I think, not actually the highest priority of most families, even those who are making it the centerpiece of complaint right now. I imagine most families have as a higher priority having their kids in a school that they think is a good school. And, once they are in a good school, the next priority is a good school very close to their house. People want to start with those guarantees and then get guaranteed sib linkage on top of them. Because not all schools are equally popular, the whole "250 beans in the bag" argument doesn't work -- parents are not neutral between schools and are going to want to move (or not move) kids strategically.

Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, that wouldn't work because you were in the system already. You probably have to be out of SPS at least a year to be considered a "new" student. They'll pick up on that pretty easily.

Josh Hayes said...

dj, you're right, and there'll also be re-opening schools which are complete unknowns. I imagine if one wanted to get sibs into, say, Viewlands, it would be easy peasy.

Even if you have (WV) trois of them.

Charlie Mas said...

zb, I don't know how long you have to be out of the system to be considered "new" but there is a pretty solid record of how long you have to be out of the system to lose your assignment. Ask anyone who thought about taking a temporary assignment outside the area and was told that their child might not be able to return to their former school.

Sully said...

As soon as you officially withdraw your child you are considered out of the system. At least that is how it was this past year, things change on a daily basis though in SPS, so double check

Josh Hayes said...

Sully, that may well be true:

As soon as you officially withdraw your child you are considered out of the system.

But I bet SPS would make a distinction between "good" things that might come from being "new" to the system, and "bad" things -- that is, you couldn't use this method to be branded a "new student" and hence get a seat in your reference school, but you could sure be dinged as someone trying to manipulate the system.

After all, manipulating the system is THEIR job.