First Item - Math Placement
Apparently the district math department (via MAP scores) sent out honors math placements to middle schools based on winter MAP scores. The placement lists were done BEFORE all 5th graders had taken the Spring test. Teachers had been assured that the Spring MAP exam would determine placement. I was told that, for example, at one school 80% of the kids would have qualified using the Spring scores versus about 50% with the Winter scores. There seems to be an issue with seats but if we have qualified kids, they all should get the placement.
The district will probably get a lot of blowback on this issue but may try to dodge it some other way.
Second Item - Facilities
I attended the BEX Oversight Committee meeting on Friday. I was particularly interested in hearing what was happening with South Shore. I arrive a few minutes late and wondered if I missed any info on this topic. (Note: there does not seem to be a Board member attending these meetings regularly. This is disappointing because of the huge amounts of money being spent. The minutes of the meeting never seem to cover the meeting in depth.)
Denny/Sealth - Sealth will be almost ready to be moved back into in September. However, the issue came up (with some discussion) over the readiness. There will still be finishwork to be done as well as the final punch list. Apparently, this was conveyed to the principal and he said it was fine and that they wanted to be in the building in September.
This is quite problematic. It was pointed out (and I agree) that principals should not be making these decisions by themselves (this was without any school staff input, he just let them know it was happening). Member of the Oversight Committee pointed out that it can take longer and be more difficult to get everything done with a population moved back into a building. So if you have a student going to Sealth, there may be work still being done on it when your student comes in September. Why the district is doing this (it was stated this was the "culture of the district") when we have had issues in the past over move-in dates (see Garfield) is beyond me. It was pointed out that there was no problem with Sealth staying where they are currently until their building is finished.
The district is working with City Council members to get school district projects to the top of the City permitting process.
Hale is in its next phase. They have started construction on the new greenhouse for Hale over at the Jane Addams site - it was noted that it will be a very large one at 3,000 square feet. It was also noted that this had been a very "dusty" project because of the concrete cutting. (It had been previously pointed out elsewhere in the blog that there had been some health concerns over the dust created by the project.)
Hamilton will finish on time (they are working 9-10 hour days, again, that's overtime pay). The Committee had visited the site recently and one member said the views from the 3rd floor of downtown were stunning. It was noted that they replicated the old historic front doors which cost less but hadn't done it at Garfield (for reasons unknown). It was also pointed out that they saved the historic window glass but it wasn't double glazed. It was stated that Hamilton was built for 900-1000 but members couldn't get clarification if the school would be full when opened (it seems it will be by the early enrollment numbers). There were remarks made by staff over neighbors who had raised concerns, saying there are always people trying to "slam the district." (I wasn't sure if that might have been directed my way or if Bill Martin just meant the Hamilton neighbors who had complaints.)
Ingraham. It seems the last court date that occurred on this project found for the district. The neighbors against the addition have filed an appeal that will be heard in 4-6 weeks. The district has changed the number of trees cut down from about 75 to 29 and made the courtyard area in the addition smaller to accommodate the change. Several Committee members were very disparaging of the neighbors concerns and expressed exasperation that a few people could hold up a project. It was interesting that one member asked district staff if a mediator couldn't have been brought in to help. Staff demurred and said no but numerous staff including Ron English had spoken with neighbors. The member asked again but didn't it occur to you to bring in a neutral party? Shrugs.
This is the kind of district cultural thinking that hurts us. Why wasn't a mediator brought it? Even if it didn't solve the issue, the district gets to take the high ground. Saying they talked to Ron English (a long-time lawyer with the district who is distinctly non-approachable) signals to me they had no intention of listening to the neighbors at all.
Staff went on to say they were creating some kind of white paper on the Ingraham issue as they felt there were factual inaccuracies being spread by the neighbors. They expressed frustration from the "random calls" from the Mayor's office/City Council offices about this issue.
There was information on the Strategic (tired word) Infrastructure and Maintenance project. Apparently the state has passed an "assess preservation" program for schools that the district is trying to work with. The district has purchased software to organize and chart maintenance projects. They reported (it's true, I swear) that they had hired/moved 2 staff to go through and organize roughly 6,000 maintenance requests. So now, in 2010, we find our district has not had any organized way to chart and order maintenance and we have hire people just to go through the list they do have.
They also said they were working towards a "total cost of ownership" form for each building so that they could understand "why some schools cost more to operate than others". Really? Again, hard to believe it's 2010 and they are just getting around to figuring out this is information they need to maintain our buildings.
Also new facilities info to me. There was mention of Esco which is:
An ESCO, or Energy Service Company, is a business that develops, installs, and arranges financing for projects designed to improve the energy efficiency and maintenance costs for facilities over a seven to twenty year time period.
The district is developing a list of 10 buildings to have audits of their energy use. Apparently McClure has already had this done. One benefit of doing these audits is that a project might then be able to be moved from maintenance to the capital eligible fund (meaning, using a different pot of money for these projects that the state pays into - the state pays nothing for school maintenance itself).
There was also a short presentation about a new Project Delivery manual being create to better track BEX projects from selection of projects to finished projects.
South Lake (a project I thought was long finished). Well, it turns out that they have heating issues in the daycare area (too cold) and that it because of "poor design". It can be "fixed" to a point but you can't correct a bad design. Again, who pays for this fix?
As for South Shore, it seems the Committee got an update in an Executive Session (that meant I had to leave). This could mean any number of things from
- they still haven't figured out the problem (and don't want me or anyone else to report that)
- they have figured it out but don't know how to fix it or
- they do know the problem but not the costs to fix it or
- it's worse than they thought and so they need more time to figure out the situation