Friday, January 08, 2010

Transition Plan

I finally got through the Transition Plan part of the Board meeting (but don't ask me about Transportation). However, I have not gone through the slides that she showed (and I couldn't find them online).

So she referenced needing to make some technical corrections to the boundaries pages, saying they are forgotten the text to match the maps.

She said the Transition Plan overview was about timeline/content, kindergarten siblings and transportation (to be done by Tom Bishop). She said Early registration was still going on until Jan. 15th.

Timeline
  • Design teams meeting in January
  • Superintendent decides on program for Old Hay (so what about the rest of the schools?)
  • Principal appointments for reopening schools (keep this in mind: they may shift some good principals - maybe yours - to shore up these new schools)
  • Open Houses for all schools (late Jan-early Feb.)
  • Late Feb-mid March - school visits at all schools (info will be sent at the end of Feb. in a letter to all parents of current and early registration students with their initial assignments and contain info on Open Enrollment if they want to change that assignment)
  • VAX - manual work around it
Recommended Changes to Plan
  • After September 30th, assignments for new students is to attendance area school (or linked school) OR (new) option school if space available
  • If you have an older sibling in a school with a Special Ed program, your family can request for the incoming kindergarten to be assigned there
  • Assurance to families that elementary students and their sibs will not be required to attend different schools.
So far they have 1200 early registrations (as Tracy later says, out of a possible 4400 kindergarteners) and 500 returned surveys. She said they could start running models to see where problems might be and narrow the focus to help those schools.

She said there were 5 strategies in trying to get K sibs in with older sibs.
  1. Use "surge" capacity. For example, when the Queen Anne principals realized they were cramped, they decided to try having the music teacher come to the classroom (big fun for the music teacher) and using the music area for something else. So basically, it's finding extra space in your school to use for a short period of time (1 year, 2 years, 3 years?).
  2. Do modeling as soon as they can to find problem enrollment areas.
  3. If services are moving location by 2015, start now by phasing them out sooner.
  4. Early and aggressive management of waitlist. Her reasoning was if we add students in a surge to a school, it will open up places elsewhere that those students would have taken and more students may get what they want sooner.
  5. Transition Rules for 2010-2011.
Transition Rules
  1. After these strategies, if people are still not happy, they can (and must for it to happen) request to move the older sibling to the younger sibling's attendance area school. This would happen anytime after Open Enrollment closes and before September 30th. (It seems to me waiting until Sept. 30th could leave a lot of people hanging if many parents vacilate until late August to make a decision. I'd say give people until the end of the school year - that's the end of March till the end of June.)
  2. If the two kids are ending up at different schools, they can request staff to find a school where both can go, again after Open Enrollment until September 30th.
Q&A (again my paraphrasing)

Maier - Transition Plan is only 1 year. What about Geographic Zones?
Tracy - the text correction mentioned at the beginning does include Geographic Zones for next year. (She said this was on Page 4 in a footnote; again, I haven't seen a revised document.)
Maier - (he started the string of Directors who worried that the Transition Plan isn't exactly giving people security) People need to know when things will happen and want to have a high degree of confidence in where their child will be before summer.
Tracy - We'll start towards the end of March and April with processing and we will see how it is working by then.

Sundquist - It would be helpful if we can say in the Plan that these decisions are up for Fall 2010 revisions because we will have mined the data and have a better idea how things fall out. Hard to make guarantees with only 500 surveys out of 9,000. He asked about Spectrum at Madison by next fall, a commitment to Spectrum at Arbor Heights ("put a stake in the ground for those folks and take pressure off Lafayette") and the issue of an older sibling in a Spectrum program and an incoming K who can't get in and default back to incoming K's attendance area school. (It is difficult to say what to do in that case as we are trying to help Special Ed parents keep their kids together and Spectrum parents might ask the same thing. He said this to Tracy but looked over at Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. There were no comments from Tracy on any of it.)

Kay - not sticking with the 20% K seats at TOPS for Eastlake?
Tracy - there are not technical limitations as this was always done manually but it was part of the 17 tiebreakers we had and we are trying to streamline the plan.
Kay - gets that but Eastlake is the only community with its closest school that has water on one side and a freeway on the other.

Harium - worried about not settling things for the families. "We built up expectations for folks."
Tracy - Because we have 1200 early K registrations, we can start projecting, many older sibs will be in the same attendance area as incoming Ks so fewer problems, she knows some people will be unhappy/angry

Dr. G-J - "I hear the frustration but we don't have the data for modeling without misleading families. We are trying to be honest aobut what we can do and we can't promise what we can't deliver." (Fair and honest except for the fact that staff didn't write the best survey and could have been collecting the data sooner. No Director mentioned this.)

Carr - Wanted to echo Harium over concerns for families. It was her impression even up to the break that we would have more information on the direction we were doing. She said she appreciated that the document acknowledged the parents' concerns.
Also, on Eastlake and Tops, she said she didn't get why, if those kids are likely to be in the Geographic Zone when enacted and they already had an "in" previously, why not continue for one year?
Tracy - Well, they do have a guaranteed spot at Montlake.

Harium - Well, if not technical obstacles, why not? Isn't it 10 kids?
Tracy - more like 4-6 kids (I'm thinking Eastlake will get their "in" back for this year. Most Directors all seem to lean that way.)

DeBell - this discussion doesn't preclude nearly all kids getting into the school they want. We can't solve all the problems now but we must commit to revisiting the process, year by year, until it is fully implemented.

3 comments:

Maureen said...

Melissa Tracy's slides are here, (the last one is Tom Bishop's) but the technical corrections must be somewhere else (I think they were from the Dec meeting?).

So far they have 1200 early registrations (as Tracy later says, out of a possible 4400 kindergarteners) and 500 returned surveys.

I don't have an incoming kindergartener, so I might not understand this, but why would anyone who likes their neighborhood school register at all? Can't they just walk in in September and show proof of address and get a seat? Is there any advantage to registering now? Especially if you think you might possibly move sometime in the next eight months?

The return rate on that survey brings home to me the fact that normal people (unlike all of us!) are not totally obsessed with their kids' educations.

I think the Eastlake people will get their set aside for next year (I'm sure they will follow through with a Director and get an ammendment). I am a little confused, because their spokesman talked about there 'only' being 10 or 12 kids, but that would be over 50% of the nonsibling spots-not 20% (and remember a chunk of those sibs come from Eastlake as well). Maybe he was talking about K-8, not just kindergarten?

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