Thursday, September 09, 2010

How Are the Reopened Schools Doing?

(Update: feel free to talk about the NSAP plan here as well.)

It's a little early but this thread was requested. Any Sand Point, McDonald or Queen Anne Elementary parents out there who could let us know how their buildings feel, how organized the school feels, how that first day went, etc?

35 comments:

ParentofThree said...

Anyway to open a thread on NSAP for all schools. Sounds like a mess at GHS, and RBHS is almost empty.

seattle citizen said...

John Marshall, closed in June 2007, is "reopened" with a "Lifelong Learning school, a place for elders to get some classes in literature, weaving and the like.

I'm sure the elders thus served are enjoying it.

Michael Rice said...

I was wondering if anyone knew how many students enrolled at STEM on the first day?

RBHS had 357 on day one and 392 on day two.

Jan said...

According to the McDonald PTA website, there numbers in about mid-August were as follows:

Our current numbers are 51 kindergarten students (with a "projected show" of 45 students, or 22 and 23 per class), 6 1st
graders, 11 2nd graders, 6 3rd graders, 2 fourth grade...rs and 1 5th grader.

But, I wonder if perhaps they are "combining" some of the older classes with Queen Anne -- since they are in the building. The QA site indicates that there ate two third grade teachers, which made me wonder if each "school" has a teacher -- but they will combine the classes to get a better "group" of students? The last letter from the QA principal said that the school had 109 enrolled (up from mid 40s earlier last spring) -- while that was before the first day, it is also an option school -- which means no one should have been on their list who did not fill out an enrollment form. The principal also noted that 109 was the EXACT enrollment projection for QA for year one (although I don't know what the grade level breakdown might have been). If the number is approximately that, it seems to me that the District pegged that one pretty well.

Anonymous said...

Sand Point seems to have its act together, work is still being done in the building, but everything looks good, nice library, friendly staff, smiling kids, and an amazing principal. They even put a small playground. If the district supports this school, it will become another success story in the NE.
Signed: New SP Fan

wsnorth said...

Hasn't RHBS been almost empty for years? Our local elementary has 2 new portables - welcome to the third world, West Seattle. They aren't even new - someone else's cast offs, rust, mold and all. In a truly odd twist, the parents applied for a grant to the city to fix some of the issues caused by overcrowding brought on from NSAP. Could it get more bizarre? Love that spirit, but good luck with that!!! The Sealth remodel gets rave reviews from my entering 9th grader. Madison Middle School budget cuts don't seem to be as bad as NSAP dictated early on.

seattle said...

If the current population boom doesn't turn out to be a bubble, Loyal Heights Elementary will be short two or three classrooms in four years. We have historically had about 15 regular classrooms, but have admitted three full kindergartens for each of the last two years, which will bring us to 18 classrooms when they reach 5th grade.

We do have some very nice, if small, portables on site for regular classrooms and enrichment classes (Spanish, music, etc.). Unfortunately, most of them date to the late 40's, when my father-in-law went to school in them.

Central Mom said...

On the closed school beat, here is the latest about the MLK building, courtesy the Central District News.

School superintendent recommends First AME get MLK school building

Anonymous said...

Overall, things are going pretty well at Lincoln.

Both QAE and McDonald staff and parents worked really hard to get the building ready for the little ones - bright color paint in the class rooms, supplies, rugs, etc and lots of time on weekends to get ready, including Labor Day.

The playground isn't in yet but they are installing this week.

Queen Anne is up to about 115 students. Classes are K, K/1, 2, 3 and a 4/5 split. You can see the teachers and other staff on the queenanneelementary.com website.

The 3rd grade is a team teaching environment (two teachers from Greenlake) and the class is mixed QAE and McD students. The teachers are "McDonald" hires and will stay with McD next year when QAE moves to old SBOC building.

The 4/5 is also mixed QAE and McD students. The teacher is a "QAE" hire and will move with QAE next year.

The shared teachers, especially for the 3rd grade, is causing some stir among the QAE parents who opted in to the school for the focus/vision of 21stCentury learning and technology. Now they are in a "regular" classroom for the year. Several parents have already left to go back to their other schools. Most of the kids in 3rd grade are QAE students.

Question for the group - any experience with two schools sharing a teacher (mixed classrooms)? Has this happened before and any thoughts/ suggestions?

Signed: Parent at Lincoln

TechyMom said...

Well, if First AME gets it, I do hope they work with the CCC@MLK people to bring in some of the programming they had planned. There was a lot more that this neighborhood family would actually use in their plan.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent at Lincoln, I have had mixed age classes for my child but mixed classes for two schools in one class? No, I haven't. It sounds like the district is trying but without a regular number of kids for each school, they are trying to cut their costs. I could see where kids from different schools in the same class could be become friends only to have to part when they actually do have to move into their regular buildings. That could be hard because I'm sure in such close surroundings, there's bound to be friendships made.

ttln said...
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ttln said...

As far as Madison is concerned, our budget is impacted though our student numbers far exceed the "functional capacity" for which we were budgeted. Thanks for the kids, but the $$ need to come with. We had 270+ in 6th (originally budgeted and staffed at 227, thanks NSAP for causing stress, internal conflicts, wasting our personal time where we redesigned schedules and programs, and providing a first week where kids didn't have seats in their core classes), 327 in 7th grade (way more than usual), and 306ish in 8th. We gots the kids, we just don't gots the $$.

We were told last year that there would be no bump in Oct. due to the budget shortfalls. My hope is that this will change, too. Just like transportation grandfathering or lack of transportation grandfathering and all of the other "rules" that didn't apply for this year like they told us they would.

Rosie said...

In my first day packet I got a form asking me whether I had any potential kindergartners for the next several years. Seemed like a good step, though of course, people would actually have to fill out and return the form for it to be useful.

Wonder how overcrowdeded Ballard and Roosevelt actually turned out to be. I wonder when we get to know the numbers. I think I remember we get them in October, but my memory stinks.

TechyMom said...

The sibling form in the packet still didn't have a place to indicate No Siblings. So, they still won't be able to tell if unreturned forms represent families with no younger siblings, or get an idea of the ratio of families with and without younger siblings so they can project numbers. It is a baby step, but really, how hard would it have been to add a checkbox for no siblings?

Jan said...

Rosie: people have been asking for some time for the District to do some "advance planning work" by asking for future kindergartner information. It is nice to see that they are now doing it. While it is not conclusive data, every bit of information would seem to be helpful in the process.

Melissa: I agree that the combined classes at QA/McD are a little odd, I guess it seemed to me like a creative way for the schools to get class sizes up to something that seems a little more "normal" for the kids -- and since both schools are underenrolled at the upper grade level, and one is an option school, I suspect that any kids who want to change schools to preserve close friendships might have a pretty good chance. All in all, it sounds like the info from the 3 new schools is coming out pretty well -- which can be nothing but good for the families and the District's pocketbook (I am still not happy about the overall cost -- but now that we are into it, let's hope it goes as well as possible).

Jan said...

wsnorth: My understanding is that you are correct that RBHS has been underenrolled for years. My sense (but I don't know where to find the historical numbers) is that it may be worse this year -- as no one could be "force placed" there -- except attendance area kids, who still had escape routes to option spots at attendance schools, option schools, and private schools. What bothers me the most is that we are paying MGJ well over $200K per year and one of the first things she was supposed to solve/fix was the SE school problem, including RBHS. She was supposed to create "excellence for all" INCLUDING at RBHS, thereby making it a more attractive school and permitting the SAP to be a fair, successful strategy for the SE. I thought that was what the SE Initiative was all about! She failed and -- by implementing the SAP withOUT having fixed it -- she basically gave up on the problem. The price is being paid by so many -- kids at RBHS who still don't have a critical mass of students to create enough classes, and enough academic diversity; kids in overcrowded schools -- if in fact RBHS families simply up and moved to a better attendance district, kids still living in the SE who travel way farther than other Seattle kids to get to option or other schools they actually want to go to.

I am glad Sealth looks so great for your 9th grader -- and it is distressing to hear about the additional portables (but from reading this blog, my impression is that West Seattle is another place where there were problems to be addressed -- but somehow, many of them were not only not fixed, they seem to have gotten worse.)

Bird said...

So what would fix Rainier Beach so that families and students would choose to attend it?

What could the district do to make it attractive?

Isn't it to some extent a case of it not being well attended because it's not well attended?

I really don't know much about RBHS since I have a little elementary student and live in the north end, but it seems like a difficult problem to solve just because the problem is to some extent self-perpetuating no matter resources are invested in the school.

Schools that have involved and dedicated families and students attract more of the same. Schools that have gotten themselves dug into a hole will naturally have a hard time getting out.

I suppose the new SAP was to some extent meant to fix this problem by forcing families into the school, but the truth is you can't necessarily force people into a school. Those with means will find ways out.

Anyway, I'm interested in hearing what folks who have students that could attend RBHS think the solution would be.

Rabbit said...

"So what would fix Rainier Beach so that families and students would choose to attend it?"

Since most of the families living in the RBHS attendance area choose not to send their kids to RBHS, the first thing I'd do if I were in charge would be to ask those families what it would take to get them to send their kids there. And then offer what they want (within means).

Rosie said...

I think best solution for RBHS would be to close one of the south area high schools, but that's a non-starter politically. Last time the idea got any serious discussion -- two years ago (?) -- wasn't the official position that they couldn't because of "rival gangs" or something?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Right, Rosie, that's what I recall as well.

I think there's several things in play but none of them serve the community well.

One is that Rainier Beach HS is that community's high school and a visible community building. It is not as old a school as say Roosevelt or Garfield but it had its heyday. When I was looking up its history, it said they used to have an active aviation program with help from Boeing. Where that went, I don't know.

Two is that Rainier Beach has a lesser building than Cleveland. If it had been RBHS that was remodeled and not Cleveland, STEM would be at RBHS. That's the reason Cleveland is getting the focus. They cannot just let an expensive new building go down the drain.

Three is that the community itself may not be sure of what it wants. I know for certain that they don't want something forced on them as when TAF tried to come in. There is fault all around but I blame the district first and foremost for NOT finding the common ground and facilitating the groups to give RBHS a foundation to rebuild its student body on.

Now RBHS has a small feel and clearly students will get attention (with 2 principals they better) but without a draw or focus, I don't think the population will get any higher.

So, with fewer dollars and a small school population, the district will have to figure out what to do in the next couple of years. But I feel like the SE Initiative was a joke and money mostly wasted and as the district turned away from Aki Kurose and RBHS, they gave all their attention to Cleveland and STEM.

reader said...

But Rosie, they did close a south end high school. They closed Cleveland. STEM isn't a reference area. Not everybody is going to want math and science. People living in the Cleveland area, will now be assigned to RBHS, for the most part. Sooner or later, that will mean students going to RBHS.

Jan said...

Actually, since 9th graders at Cleveland this year are all in STEM, it should have meant more kids THIS year (though some who counted Cleveland as a neighborhood school may have wound up in Sealth's or Franklin's attendance areas) assuming the boundaries were drawn appropriately (not an easy assumption to make). I guess we will all know in a few weeks, when more numbers come out -- but it looks to me like many RBHS attendance area 9th graders aren't at RBHS.

Charlie Mas said...

Cleveland is closed. STEM was moved into the building. It is no different from how Cooper was closed and Pathfinder moved into the building or that Whitworth was closed and ORCA moved into the building.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's the problem: the District only knows how to push students into Rainier Beach. They don't know how to pull them in.

Rabbit said...

"I know for certain that they don't want something forced on them as when TAF tried to come in."

TAF seemed like such a great option for RBHS - I'm not sure why the community shunned it?? The TAF program wasn't "taking over" the entire school, it was only going to occupy half of the building, while the other half remained a traditional, comprehensive, neighborhood school. Seemed like a win-win for everyone. RBHS was severely under enrolled back then (as it is today) so there was plenty of space to move TAF in without displacing or disrupting any current RBHS students. Sadly today RBHS has less than 400 kids enrolled (according to Michael Rice) when the building functional capacity is over 1100. The space TAF would have occupied remains empty today....

The frustrating thing about the whole TAF situation was that I don't recall the local community saying no to TAF but offering other ideas or solutions to fill the school. Rather, their argument was, we like the small school feel and want to keep RBHS small. I get that, I really do, but RBHS isn't a small building.

seattle citizen said...

Rabbit, if I recall that time when TAF was trying to get space in RBHS, there were two important aspects of the counter-argument:

1) Disconnect: If TAF took half the building, and the other half remained regular ol' RB, what does that say? You'd have two populations, one served by extra money, attention, effort, organization, theme etc, while the other would perhaps be left alone, perhaps to languish. There would be a shiny bright school colocated with what the city has deemed a dull, bad school. How would the students feel who were in the original program? Would the original program be supported in developing or innovating? Would it be a competition btween the two programs?

2) Public vs private: While TAF isn't "private," it is a non-scalable program that relies heavily on outside funding. It would be, in RB, an entry point for what many (myself included) consider an inquitable and "pro-reform" entity (pro-reform because it has money behind it, is allowed variances from policy, and edgs us away from a democratic district). It would, in some views, represent an incursion of the reform movement that seeks, in unscalable ways but with the intention of watering down democratically controlled public schools. In this view, TAF is a "taking of public assets" (the building)

Rabbit said...
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Rabbit said...

"You'd have two populations, one served by extra money, attention, effort, organization, theme etc, while the other would perhaps be left alone, perhaps to languish."

So instead of accepting TAF and allowing 400 students, each and every year, to get the extra money, attention, effort, organization and theme that TAF would have brought to RBHS, TAF was run off - and now nobody, not one student at RBHS, gets those benefits.

The school remains grossly under enrolled - the majority of families that live in the RBHS attendance area refuse to send their kids their. It is one of the lowest performing schools in the district, and it has a reputation for violent crime, and rape.

Yeah, hooray, yippee! Success! Nobody gets anything! That's equity at its best folks! Every student, 100% of them, get to be, in the words of SC, "left alone, and languish".

Seriously, I will never, ever, get this mentality.

For the record, inequality lurks all over the district, without TAF, or public/private partnerships anywhere in the picture. STEM, with all of its extra funding, Core24, science and math focus is right down the road from RBHS. Some schools have Montessori, others don't. Some schools have language immersion programs, others don't. Some have IB programs, more AP classes, award winning jazz bands, nationally acclaimed drama programs, radio stations, others don't. Things can be equitable without being equal.

seattle citizen said...

Rabbit wrote, "[Rainier Beach] is one of the lowest performing schools in the district, and it has a reputation for violent crime, and rape."

What indicators are you referencing to show it is "one of the lowest performing schools..."?

Its REPUTATION is what I was speaking to earlier. There have been rapes in other schools, violent crime (I always argue, accurately, that schools are the some fo the safest places for children, but that's another conversation) yet RB, for years, has been singled out and then branded as this violently evil place.

It's not.

If inequity exists all over the district (and I think we could agree that there are problems) then the solution is to solve that as a publicly accountable, democratically-elected-board represented, public school system, not by leasing off parts of buildings in order to contract out equity. TAF, in that respect, was an abrogation of our duties as citizens: It would have been saying, "we failed, you have a try with your semi-private model, the public throws up its hands."

First, I don't think the problems with publics are anywhere near as bad as they are painted in the press; second, even if they were, I would NEVER sell the public system, piecemeal or otherwise, to non-public entities

(And "non-profits" won't work either, unless vetted byan accountable board and/or citizen panel: We've all seen that the "non-profit" NWEA pays its CEO half a million, and "CEOs" of various charters pull in hefty paychecks as well.)

Rabbit said...
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Rabbit said...
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Jan said...

Seattle Citizen: We will never know how TAF might have worked at RBHS -- because those who didn't want it won. But there have been lots of cases in Seattle schools of multiple programs "sharing" a school -- some have worked better than others (I would suggest that cohousing APP with a neighborhood program at Garfield has worked better than cohousing APP with a neighborhood program at Madrona once did). Things have been learned from both the failures and the successes.
But -- getting more bodies into the school, getting a bunch of bodies (teachers and kids) who were fired up about tech-based education, etc. might have been a very good thing for how people (both inside and outside the school) perceive it.
As for letting non-profits "run" schools and programs -- I am certainly not as gung ho over the concept as I was before I started reading this blog. But there are lots of different kinds of nonprofits, and lots of different motives. My sense is that local nonprofits, with reasonable oversight, reasonable compensation structures, etc. are a very different thing than big, national nonprofits funded by (and answerable to) "venture philanthropy" that imposes outside control and accountability (rather than local control/accountability). My observation is that public bureaucracies (which school districts are) tend to want to centralize and homogenize, because it is the easiest way to do things -- and because accountability is pretty diffuse. (If MOST of the buses run on time, but half of the ones at -- say -- Loyal Heights do not), the bus managers may think they are doing a decent job -- because 96 percent of the buses are on time, and 96 percent of the parents are happy. If the task was individualized to the Loyal Heights school -- they might be fired! If most parents are happy with standard curriculum, schedules, etc. -- it doesn't really matter if an AS #1 exists for kids who learn very differently (or parents who envision very different educational experiences for their kids). If your ONLY school was AS#1, and enrollment dropped by 100 kids in a year -- you WOULD care.
There is a baby (individualized, alternative education models with more site based management and more emphasis on meeting the needs of each child) being thrown out with the bathwater of locking out "national" nonprofit-in-name-only educational entities that take "public money" and use it in unaccountable ways to achieve mediocre or worse performance. In my opinion, it's a crying shame.

Steve said...

From an email I received today from the APP Advisory Committee, "the Garfield building was planned for 1500 students but is now enrolled at
around 1900 students."

400 over capacity...

Anonymous said...

Aren't there about 400 kids in APP at Garfield? Would sending them back to their neighborhood schools fix Garfield's overenrollment problem? It seems like that'd be a rotten thing to do to APP, but didn't the district remove a good early learning program from Ballard to make space?
Anne