Monday, November 22, 2010

Just Two Days Left for Program Placement Proposals

Finish them up today and send them in tomorrow!

The deadline is November 24.

24 comments:

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Has the District placed any programs suggest by parents/non-staff in recent history? Just curious.

Charlie Mas said...

The answer to SolvayGirl1972's question is subject to some interpretation.

Two years ago I proposed moving the Spectrum program at West Seattle Elementary to Arbor Heights.

The District rejected it out of hand. It was regarded as too dumb an idea to even discuss.

The next year I proposed it again and they did it. Did they do it in response to my proposal or did they do it in response to Director Sundquist's recommendation of it? I'm thinking that without Director Sundquist behind it, it would not have happened at all. So does it count? Depends on what you think motivated them to consider and accept it - the idea on its own merit or Director Sundquist.

dan dempsey said...

Sorry Charlie .... this one is not about your wisdom...

about Arbor Heights and merits or Sundquist.........

I say entirely Sunquist and Zero on Merits.

Director Sundquist was the driving force behind merit free closing of Cooper and merit-less giving it to Pathfinder, which produced the merit free chaos of overcrowding and confusion in Northern West Seattle elementary schools.

Anonymous said...

What is the business of closing/moving AS#1 from the PInehurst Building and moving in all of the special education preschools - 8 programs currently located in 7 neighborhood elementary schools north of the ship canal?

Parents in the Special Education Preschool community do not know a thing about this proposal. Some of their little 3 year olds would be bussed 6 or 7 miles to school - each way. Is this a PLAN - is there any stakeholder involvement.....or is this just a way to boot these programs out of elementary school where they are not wanted because they "take up space?"

Kim

Charlie Mas said...

I managed to type up twelve of them and send them in via email.

Here's my list:

1. Duplicate Thornton Creek

2. Duplicate Salmon Bay

3. Duplicate TOPS

4. Add language immersion at Sand Point

5. Add language immersion at Wing Luke

6. Extend Van Asselt at AAA to a K-8

7. Open Wilson-Pacific as a middle school

8. Re-open Fairmount Park

9. Make Montessori programs Option programs

10. Make language immersion programs Option programs

11. Move Spectrum from Muir to Madrona

12. Move north-end elementary APP to the north-end

Now we wait to see what - if anything - will happen.

emeraldkity said...

this seemed a relevant place to put this.

From the flyer for the program opening in the Horace Mann building-

the program will focus on three core principles:

Rigor: A challenging academic program preparing all youth for college, work and citizenship.

Relevance: Learning experiences that students find engaging and meaningful to their current and future lives.

Relationships: Small schools provide the opportunity for students and teachers to know each other well resulting in close and supportive bonds between and among students and faculty.

kellie said...

Kim,

I don't know if the preschools that are slated to move have been informed but they are indeed in buildings that are over-capacity at the moment.

This new rollup analysis shows how many classrooms are available at each building and for View Ridge for example does not have enough classrooms left for next years K class and so moving the preschools is a one time solution to the continuous over-crowding.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/implementation/
elementaryk8classroomrollupanalysis.pdf

Anonymous said...

Kellie,

what I am really asking is : is moving a hundred Seattle Public School preschoolers with special needs to a "center" good for the preschoolers and families ? Is there actually a PLAN to renovate and staff a stand-alone building and playgrounds - is there funding identified to do this -
or is it, as you say "a one time solution" to overcrowding ?"


I don't know if it would be a bad thing of not - but without a PLAN, it is feels like warehousing.

Kim

kellie said...

Kim,
I know very little about true best practices in pre-school special ed so I have no opinion on the merits of the co-locating topic. I imagine there are folks here on the blog that do know about best practices and I bet this would make an interesting thread.

I do know the capacity issues and I know the district "needs" those classrooms at the over full schools for next year's Kindergarten classes. I also know several of those programs have already been shuffled. Quite of few of them were at the (now closed) Marshall building.

So this looks like a capacity decision rather than a best practices decision.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kellie. Yes, you are correct that a number of preschool programs have recently moved and several were housed for many years at the "lovely" Wilson-Pacific site. (not Marshall) when no school wanted them (there was plenty of space at the time)

I understood that years ago, the special ed department was going to evaluate and assess where all special education programs were located and create a plan for the future. Never heard of this happening. So programs have been moved to "space available" locations. Unfortunately they have often been treated like unwanted step children. I know that teachers try to keep this from families - who have enough on their minds.

Like I say, it would be nice to know there is an INTENTIONAL PLAN in place and it does not become pitting one group against another vying for space.

Kim.

Jan said...

Kellie and Kim:

Here is what bugs me. Having gone to neighborhood assignments (not that the NSAP doesn't have problems there-- ask the north Ballard folks assigned to Ingraham), there now seems to be this presumption that only the neighborhoods count -- and all participants in all other programs (preschool, APP, Spectrum, etc.) have to just be willing to jump up and move/split, whenever it is inconvenient for them to take up space in a neighborhood school. I am not saying they have grandfathered rights, in perpetuity, to stay where they are -- but their concerns get NADA as far as I can see. The closed preschool program at Ballard, this new scheme of moving all the preschoolers out of crowded buildings, the Lowell APP split, the immediate "go to" of moving APP from GHS, etc. NONE of it is being with any discussion of the needs of the "moved" programs or the benefit of the school. It is all just like moving furniture (except they are kids, and relationships with teachers who may not go with a program when it is split)to fit the whims of the latest (faulty) NSAP population projections.

This latest plan reminds me of the overly hasty move of NOVA into Meany -- a building that was clearly a "worse" solution for that program than the perfectly good Horace Mann building they had used so happily for so long.

kellie said...

Kim - I think there were programs at both Marshall and Wilson Pacific. IIRC, they moved 4 preschool classrooms from Marshall to Greenwood.

But the bottom line is that the district really does seem to treat these programs as portable. I don't think this is appropriate as the "programs" are filled with neighborhood kids.

An underlying issue of the entire NSAP is that it is nearly impossible to run a neighborhood system at 100% capacity. A neighborhood systems is by its nature space inefficient and therefore requires excess capacity. Without any excess capacity to absorb the natural year to year variations, the district will need to continue this "program shuffle."

hschinske said...

An underlying issue of the entire NSAP is that it is nearly impossible to run a neighborhood system at 100% capacity.

Repeated for emphasis. Excellent point.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

The thing about special education is that students are entitled (absolutely) to a placement they would have received if not disabled, to the maximum extent possible. This entitlement is called the right to a "least restrictive environment", LRE. In preschool, there is generally no school assignment for preschoolers who aren't disabled since the state doesn't provide universal preschool... although there are a few exceptions.

Arguably, the LRE for a preschooler is actually a private placement, a head-start/ECAP placement, or a district preschool like New School and Thurgood Marshall, mixed with other non-disabled preschoolers. ECAP has special set asides for disabled students. The district has a lame "itinerant special education" services model for private preschools. And, I'm not sure about the other district regular preschools. Those regular placements should be the first placements considered for disabled preschoolers. Unfortunately, there aren't many of those type of placements and students are sent to "developmental" preschools.

There isn't really any special preference for developmental preschools at Ballard HS, or at another elementary location. These typically aren't "neighborhood" kids in the developmental preschools, they're bussed in from anywhere and everywhere. Parents expect to transition at K, so the actual location isn't really that important in preschool. I happen to think that a large school (or 2) dedicated to preschool programs is a great idea because it reduces the isolation of 1 teacher here, another one there, with no peers or real program. The issue about moving preschools, or clustering them, is a bit of a red herring.

Preschool programs have often been dumped in very undesirable schools: Madrona, T. Marshall, Roxhill... and then the district puts other sped programs in the same undesirable buildings, expecting kudos. "See, we added an autism program at Madrona? You can graduate from the the preschool into the K-8 and never change buildings." Gee, but we live in the NE and didn't ever want to go to Madrona in the first place.

The best placement for preschool is at the UW in the EEU, Experimental Education Unit, serves birth - 7 in an inclusive Preschool/K program. It's also the district's largest out-of-district contract. No union teachers there. SEA is all too happy to contract out special ed, and the services are FAR superior to anything offered by the district.

sped parent

Anonymous said...

The thing about special education is that students are entitled (absolutely) to a placement they would have received if not disabled, to the maximum extent possible. This entitlement is called the right to a "least restrictive environment", LRE. In preschool, there is generally no school assignment for preschoolers who aren't disabled since the state doesn't provide universal preschool... although there are a few exceptions.

Arguably, the LRE for a preschooler is actually a private placement, a head-start/ECAP placement, or a district preschool like New School and Thurgood Marshall, mixed with other non-disabled preschoolers. ECAP has special set asides for disabled students. The district has a lame "itinerant special education" services model for private preschools. And, I'm not sure about the other district regular preschools. Those regular placements should be the first placements considered for disabled preschoolers. Unfortunately, there aren't many of those type of placements and students are sent to "developmental" preschools.

There isn't really any special preference for developmental preschools at Ballard HS, or at another elementary location. These typically aren't "neighborhood" kids in the developmental preschools, they're bussed in from anywhere and everywhere. And, they don't stay long. Parents expect to transition at K, so the actual location isn't really that important in preschool. I happen to think that a large school (or 2) dedicated to preschool programs is a great idea because it reduces the isolation of 1 teacher here, another one there, with no peers or real program. The issue about moving preschools, or clustering them, is a bit of a red herring... it just isn't that important. Of course good equipment and environment, not too far away is important.

Preschool programs have often been dumped in very undesirable schools: Madrona, T. Marshall, Roxhill... and then the district puts other sped programs in the same undesirable buildings, expecting kudos. "See, we added an autism program at Madrona? You can graduate from the the preschool into the K-8 and never change buildings." Gee, but we live in the NE and didn't ever want to go to Madrona in the first place.

The best placement for preschool is at the UW in the EEU, Experimental Education Unit, serves birth - 7 in an inclusive Preschool/K program. It's also the district's largest out-of-district contract. No union teachers there. SEA is all too happy to contract out special ed, and the services are FAR superior to anything offered by the district. People do backflips to get in.

sped parent

Anonymous said...

The thing about special education is that students are entitled (absolutely) to a placement they would have received if not disabled, to the maximum extent possible. This entitlement is called the right to a "least restrictive environment", LRE. In preschool, there is generally no school assignment for preschoolers who aren't disabled since the state doesn't provide universal preschool... although there are a few exceptions.

Arguably, the LRE for a preschooler is actually a private placement, a head-start/ECAP placement, or a district preschool like New School and Thurgood Marshall, mixed with other non-disabled preschoolers. ECAP has special set asides for disabled students. The district has a lame "itinerant special education" services model for private preschools. And, I'm not sure about the other district regular preschools. Those regular placements should be the first placements considered for disabled preschoolers. Unfortunately, there aren't many of those type of placements and students are sent to "developmental" preschools.

There isn't really any special preference for developmental preschools at Ballard HS, or at another elementary location. These typically aren't "neighborhood" kids in the developmental preschools, they're bussed in from anywhere and everywhere. And, they don't stay long. Parents expect to transition at K, so the actual location isn't really that important in preschool. I happen to think that a large school (or 2) dedicated to preschool programs is a great idea because it reduces the isolation of 1 teacher here, another one there, with no peers or real program. The issue about moving preschools, or clustering them, is a bit of a red herring... it just isn't that important. Of course good equipment and environment, not too far away is important.

Preschool programs have often been dumped in very undesirable schools: Madrona, T. Marshall, Roxhill... and then the district puts other sped programs in the same undesirable buildings, expecting kudos. "See, we added an autism program at Madrona? You can graduate from the the preschool into the K-8 and never change buildings." Gee, but we live in the NE and didn't ever want to go to Madrona in the first place.

The best placement for preschool is at the UW in the EEU, Experimental Education Unit, serves birth - 7 in an inclusive Preschool/K program. It's also the district's largest out-of-district contract. No union teachers there. SEA is all too happy to contract out special ed, and the services are FAR superior to anything offered by the district. People do backflips to get in.

sped parent

Charlie Mas said...

Let's pull a couple things out of this discussion.

First, Kellie's observation that:

"An underlying issue of the entire NSAP is that it is nearly impossible to run a neighborhood system at 100% capacity. A neighborhood systems is by its nature space inefficient and therefore requires excess capacity. Without any excess capacity to absorb the natural year to year variations, the district will need to continue this 'program shuffle.'"

And then Jan's observation that:
"there now seems to be this presumption that only the neighborhoods count -- and all participants in all other programs (preschool, APP, Spectrum, etc.) have to just be willing to jump up and move/split, whenever it is inconvenient for them to take up space in a neighborhood school."

Both of these are correct. When the NSAP was being written I had a very candid conversation with Dr. Libros and she confirmed these ideas.

The neighborhood programs are geographically locked into position. There are other communities which are non-geographical communities - alternative programs, advanced learning programs, ELL programs, and some Special Education programs. Because these communities are not geographically based, they are portable.

As a result, they are the only programs available to be shifted from place to place.

The strong priority given to neighborhood programs gives the attendance area school programs the first right to every building. Only after all of the attendance area programs are sited does the District look for space for the non-geographic communities.

Now that I have written that, I'm sure every single person aware of the Cooper/Pathfinder decision will dispute it. That certainly appeared to be a situation in which the District put a non-geographic community into a building ahead of a geographic one. I think, however, that the District's overriding motivation in that case was to close a building at any cost and the building they wanted to close was Genessee Hill. Remember the District's confidence that there would be plenty of space available at elementary schools in West Seattle even after the closure. Yes, they were wrong, but they never consider that possibility before the fact nor do they ever admit it after the fact.

The programs with non-geographic communities are the ones that had to move because they are the only ones that CAN move.

The fatal error that the District committed (aside from the hubristic confidence that they were absolutely right) was that they never counted the non-geographic communities. They didn't count them at all.

When calculating enrollment and demand to right-size capacity they didn't count the enrollment - and particularly the demand - for the non-geographic programs. If they had, they would have added to them rather than eliminating them.

I had hope that the new Capacity Management Policy would require the District to consider demand, and it does. But it continues to require the District to match capacity to enrollment instead of demand. Moreover, the superintendent's procedure for Capacity Management pointedly excludes demand as a data point. It is up to the Board to require an assessment of demand, and they simply aren't up to noticing the oversight.

Maureen said...

It's worse than that Charlie, not only are they ignoring demand for programs,like alternative schools, they are using seats at those schools for capacity management so they can run the neighborhood schools closer to 100% of capacity.

So even in the case where it is difficult to move a program as a whole, they are using seats in those programs to make more effective use of space at neighborhood schools. They are diregarding the fact that manipulating the alternative schools' enrollments in that way can undermine the strength of the programs and possibly reduce enrollment in those schools over time. And you can't madatorily assign people to alts, so capacity will be even more poorly utilized in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Please, please remember that elementary aged children with special needs DO HAVE GEOGRAPHIC COMMUNITIES! They are our neighbors and, have little or NO CHOICE about where their unique needs can be met. And they are unwitting pawns in the capacity game.

Kim

Anonymous said...

My children were models at the EEU (developmentally typical children in inclusive classrooms with special needs students), and I do agree that it is the very best preschool, both for special needs children and typical children. However, it is very expensive to run the program. The EEU gets funding from several sources, city, state and federal, and also holds a very successful auction each year (when my children were there, the auction raised $750,000) to help pay for the program, which provides OT, PT and many many TAs for every child who needs the special services. The adult-child ratio is 1-4 to 1-6 in the classrooms. EEU teachers all have to have at least a master degree in education; I do not know if they are unionized or not, but they are UW employees (so have all the benefits that state employees get). I wish all special needs children could be served in programs similar to the one at the EEU (which is nationally recognized); but in this state, where we cannot get an income tax passed, and where the state does not fund education fully, I do not think SPS would ever be able to spend the money needed for such a program in K-12. I wish it was possible though, I really believe that such a program would lead to more children being able to function more independently when they reach adulthood, and therefore benefit all.

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

SPS parent, you are simply uninformed. EEU operates at a fraction of the cost of the district. Did you know that? The district "contracts" with the EEU because it saves the district money. Cold, hard cash... plain and simple. For example, students with autism, in district kindergarten programs, cost more than $20,000 per student. That doesn't even count the bloated central office management costs which adds even more cost with no benefit to the student. At the EEU, these same kindergarten students are educated for around $6,000. That is a huge savings for the district. And, EEU educates typical (non-disabled) students for FREE!!! District pays nothing for them. (I believe they now pay for the bus.) With the EEU, the district continues its freeloading off of special education monies.... District receives state and federal money for each and every student with a disability, and turns around and educates lots of other people with that same money. The main source of funding at the EEU... is the Seattle School District, as well as a few other school districts too.

Yes, the EEU raises a lot of money at the auction (the figure you describe doesn't count the costs of the auction though). The net is signficantly less. But, none of that money goes directly to the school, it's for the endowment and is generally used to reduce the salary gap between teachers at EEU and the teachers in the district. And that gap is pretty big. No, EEU teachers are NOT unionized. Isn't it funny that SEA doesn't care about unionization, or salary gaps, when it comes to special ed? Yes, they are university employees... which are much LESS generously compensated than district employees.

Here are some ways that the district wastes money. Unionized TA's are a huge cost for the district. And they are paid about 3X the rate at the EEU. All district TA's get "state benefits" along with union perks... tenure, vacation, etc, etc, etc... though they are essentially non-skilled workers and have 0 degrees in anything, much less training or oversight in disability. Pretty ridiculous in this day and age, and very costly. All EEU classrooms have a graduate student assistant teacher. Why doesn't the district have a program like this? There are no "coaches" or high-priced "consulting teachers" or even higher-priced "managing consulting teachers" at EEU either. Having really good University faculty is probably the single biggest win for students at the EEU. These are also available to the district in most cases. Does the district wish to take input from the UW on behalf of special ed students? Hell no! They run the other way as fast as possible.

Long-time sped watcher

Anonymous said...

I do know that EEU teachers make less than SPS teachers, but so do private school teachers. And the turnover for teachers at the EEU is quite a bit higher than at SPS. In fact, I know several former EEU teachers who are now working for SPS (they are teaching at my children's schools right now). I stand by what I said. The district might not pay the EEU a huge amount of money, neither does ECEAP, but it costs the EEU much more than what the district and ECEAP pay to educate the children. Think about it, they provide full services including speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy for every child who needs it. Those children with high needs have their own TA/aide who are with them individually throughout the class period. All this is not free. Yes, they are able to take advantage of the graduate students who need to fulfill their teaching hours, and therefore have a rotating group of these students that go through the program as aides and TAs. But they still have to pay for the therapists, the overhead, the research, the meals, etc. I doubt very much that all that is provided could be paid for with $6000 per student per year. Especially when the classes are held to less than 18 students per head teacher. There is obviously a great need for this type of program. If you think you can provide these services for $6000 per year per student, perhaps you should start your own school, I am sure the district would be as happy to contract out to your school as they are to the EEU.

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

And unless the requirements for TAs working for SPS has changed in the last 10 years, TAs have to have an AA degree as a minimum requirement.

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

SPS Parent, all of the services you describe MUST be provided to all special education students by law, no matter the school. Perhaps you aren't aware of that. ALL schools have to provide related services (therapy) and integrated classrooms to students with disabilities (age birth - 21 yo). The district DOES have these available. They just aren't as good, they cost a lot more, and they serve fewer students with extreme challenges. At the preschool level, the district gets very few typical kids enrolled... but there are some.

A few corrections. First of all, EEU doesn't provide 1-1 aides to anybody. (My child has always had a 1-1 in the district in gen ed, but NOT at EEU) That's against their policy and they don't believe in it as an educational model. There is an aide per classroom along with an assistant teacher, who is a student. The district could replicate that. Sometimes an extra aide is provided to a difficult classroom... true in the district also. If you look closely, all the aides are not attached to 1 student. Ask the principal, or anybody in charge. Sure there's lots of support available, but most of the support is in the form of graduate students working as assitant teachers. Those aides make the absolute minimum wage and do NOT have an AA. It may be true that district aides have AA's but that doesn't mean much to the kids. They also make around $15-$18/hour with a full benefits package. Ka-ching. Secondly, let's look at EEU related service (speech, OT and PT). This is also very minimal, the most minimal the EEU could get away with. My child received the service there. It is not pullout, it is not 1-1 nor 2-1. It is delivered to a group (as in the whole class) as "integrated" service. It is also not particularly great because it is never delivered in a more intensive way, even if you need it. That type of service is WAY cheaper than the standard delivery available in public schools. It is also perhaps not as good. Great "related service" is never a reason people attend the EEU. They go for the inclusive school with a great foundation. Thirdly, the research is part of the University, which is a research institution. That isn't something that you would bill to students or even to the school. It really isn't about service, it's part of normal research. That research is available for use by anyone, including SPS.

You are absolutely right, I could not, nor could anybody else replicate EEU as it is part of a major University. It isn't strictly a cost issue though. The intent is that the programs be "replicable". Otherwise, why would the University have the school as a model in the first place? And yes it is more expensive to educate a student with special needs than a typical child. But lets look at the waste we do have in special education at the district before we think of throwing up our hands. Why do we have two directors of special ed, neither qualified? That is expensive. For years, we had no director and it was fine. Those people are 2 or 3 times the cost of a teacher, and the students already are in schools with principals and leaders. Why do we have dozens of consulting teachers? They never consult, nor teach? These are very expensive making double or triple the salary of a teacher. Why do we have "managing" consulting teachers, who manage 1 or 2 adults who do very little? Why do we have special education "coaches"? Some of these district "coaches" have scant or no teaching experience. They don't provide a benefit to teachers anywhere. Shouldn't that "coaching" be the job of the "consulting teacher" if it was even necessary?

Long-time sped watch