We covered a fair amount of ground with Harium but a lot on the math ruling/outcomes. Here's what he said:
- the Board will decide what will happen from the math ruling. I asked Harium about who would be doing what because of how the phrasing the district used in their press release - "In addition to any action the School Board may take, the district expects to appeal this decision." It made it sound like the district (1) might do something different from the Board and (2) the district had already decided what they would do. Harium said they misspoke and it was probably the heat of the moment.
- He seems to feel the judge erred. He said they did follow the WAC rules which is what she should have been ruling on but didn't. I probably should go back and look at the complete ruling but it seems like not going by the WAC would open her decision up to be reversed so why would she have done it? He said the issue was that there are statewide consequences to this ruling and that Issaquah and Bellevue (or Lake Washington?) are doing math adoptions and this ruling is troubling. I gently let Harium know that the Board needs to follow the law, needs to be transparent in their decision-making and the district needs to have balanced adoption committees or else this could happen again. No matter how the district or the Board feel, the judge did not throw out the case, did not rule against the plaintiffs but found for them. The ball is in the Board's court and they need to consider this going forward with other decisions.
- He stated that the Board had met in Executive Session on the issue and would make an announcement on Tuesday or Wednesday as to what they would do. I asked if this would be a joint decision with the district and he was a bit vague and said it was a Board decision. So look for that. He did say they would NOT be reviewing all the math materials. The judge's ruling has no force except for a review and I believe that is all they will do. What form it will take will probably be in the announcement. As one person there pointed out (I'm sorry I forgot your name), they shouldn't waste the money appealing if all they have to do to satisfy the ruling is do a review.
- He said they could (1) appeal to the Supreme Court on finding of fact or (2)not appeal and just do the review. But I'm wondering if the Board/district feel like they should appeal in order to try to ward off any future lawsuits. I'm thinking there's going to be an appeal.
- He was asked about the appearance of a "stacked" math adoption committee but he waved that off. I'm not sure everyone at the table was happy with that.
- Also about math, apparently at least some schools are NOT doing 6th grade math placement tests for 5th graders. No reason has been given yet. It's odd because in middle school you are placed according to your ability so that even kids not in Spectrum or APP can take higher level math if appropriate. Anyone heard anything? I heard it was Hamilton not giving the tests so far.
- Also, there was a bit of talk about math waivers. Schmitz Park has one to use Singapore and North Beach has one for Saxon. Apparently, Thorton Creek wants one to use...TERC? Harium thinks the old waivers will stay but new waivers might be more problematic. However, someone from North Beach did go to the last Board meeting worried about the waiver continuing (it has to be renewed year to year). I'd be worried too.
- There was some discussion over perhaps having TWO math adoptions and schools can choose. (This came from Harium himself.) Like this idea? Tell your Director. Also, it seems there are supplemental materials for parents/students use at home (both hard copy and online) but many parents don't know this is available and some schools haven't communicated this well to parents.
- He also mentioned that they would be continuing to update their curriculum policies and the next one was C.21 which I haven't looked up yet.
- I asked Harium if any of the directors had ever visited a STEM school. He said he had but that he didn't know if anyone else had.
- On the budget, the order is to keep the cuts away from the classroom. I pointed out that they have continued to hire (filling empty posts not new ones but still) and that I know of travel plans right now for one school's administrators. He said that sometimes travel funding comes out of grants. I told him that transparency on that issue would help so that it wouldn't be confusing. He said he had paid for a plane ticket himself because he didn't want to use grant money.
- There was some discussion about the unevenness of Spectrum. This lead to a discussion of a possible Spectrum at Sand Point since BF Day is the only Spectrum in that area (and it's just starting). However, there is also Spectrum at nearby View Ridge and Wedgwood. (I say who cares if there are eligible students?) Then that led to a discussion of why not foreign language immersion at Sand Point? What I understand is that the area around Sand Point will have a large number of ELL students with multiple languages. One person thought it was mostly Spanish-speaking students so immersion would be good. If it were just one language, I could see it but if you have kids coming in who don't know English or Spanish, it could be a problem.
- Harium said he really liked the principal selected for Sand Point and had great faith the school would get a good start. He said as well that many parents seemed committment and excited about starting a new schoool. He said that for the positions available at the new schools, they would be posted internally ahead of all other available positions.
I had asked Harium about the possibility of advocating for the money from the expiring stadium tax (expiring next year) going to education (but naturally leaving the portion currently going to the arts to stay in place). He said he hadn't thought about it but wouldn't be against it. So I brought it up at the 43rd Dems meeting as well as the issue of lifting the levy lid. (This was a pretty well-attended meeting for a beautiful Saturday but many organizations that support low-income people are very worried about cuts.)
The reply from Rep. Petersen was that the stadium tax money,when the levy ends, would roll back into the General Fund and that it would be better accessed for education that way. He also said he understood my point about that raising the levy lid wouldn't help small districts and would likely deepen the financial divide between districts but that it was the best short-term solution.
I see what he is saying about letting that stadium tax money roll back into the General Fund but I also see every other program with its hand out. He said the education funding should go back to 50% (as it was in previous years) from 48% which it is now. Do I think it will happen? Maybe but not without a fight. I'd rather see the levy continue and the money earmarked for education. Levy lid? Okay, but things that "short-term" tend to just stay and I have to wonder how much, overall, it will help districts.