While the Southeast Education Initiative was supposed to make Rainier Beach into a "school of choice" for neighborhood families, the District never came to the community to ask them what they wanted there. The PTSA is stepping in where the District failed. It is unclear how the District will respond when the community's wishes are known.
The PTSA at Rainier Beach - now 38 fully paid up members strong - has been active in other ways. They have been trying to get a meeting with District officials to express their preference for a 7th period instead of a second principal. The PTSA doesn't believe that a school of 400 students needs two principals, but they do believe that a school with a lot of struggling students needs more academics and interventions. The school wants more intervention but the District sends them more administration. They don't want more administration; they want more teaching for students. The PTSA voted and decided to ask the District to replace the second principal with 1.5 FTE teachers to take on the seventh period.
At first, Michael Tolley, the Education Director for the Southeast, wouldn't even meet with them. Then, when they tried to go over his head, he was directed to meet with them by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. He sat there and heard what they said, but they report that he has been totally non-responsive to their request. (Mr. Tolley claims that he wanted to meet with them after their initial request but his assistance misunderstood his response. Yeah. Right.)
There is no money in the WSS for a second principal at a high school with an enrollment of 400. The funding for the second principal came from the Superintendent's
In the interests of full disclosure, it's not just about the outrageous waste of a second principal at such a small school, and it's not just about a bloated administration while teaching money is short. The PTSA folks say that the community isn't bonding well with Lisa Escobar. She has alienated some of the teachers - some to the point that they have left the school (although they say that they would like to return if she is gone).
For those new to the District, you should know that there is some history here. About ten years ago Rainier Beach had about 1,000 students and was a treasured community asset. Then the community had an adversarial relationship with the principal assigned to the school. They picketed the school in weekly protests. The District refused to take any action for years. That's when the Rainier Beach enrollment declined. It has never recovered.
This time the District is wielding a rather blunt threat: protest the school and the second principal too loudly and we'll shut it down.
The Rainier Beach PTSA is getting ignored and disrespected by the District, by Mr. Tolley, by Dr. Enfield, and by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. The school and the community are ill-served by the District. The District has failed to meet its commitments to this community and they have obstinantly refused to acknowledge that failure. The Superintendent has said that the Southeast Education Initiative was a success. She will admit no failure, admit no mistakes. She continues to believe that Rainier Beach needs two principals but doesn't need a 7th period. She refuses to meet with the community or address their concerns.
By the way, Rainier Beach had the 7th period programs - paid for by an alum now in the NBA. It was very successful. It was part of the reason that Rainier Beach made AYP that year. That funding proved the value of the program, but it was not forever. It's time for the District to take over the cost of that program.
First step for the community to take back this school: go to the meeting on November 10