Thursday, June 23, 2011

Like A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off

Yup, that's our district.  I am almost to the point that I would even take a well-run district with Ed Reform rather than this sloppy mess.

Are these people that tone-deaf?  Yes, they are, the Board included. 

What has got me riled up?  Going to the Operations Committee meeting today.  They had been scheduled to talk about BEX IV but alas, that was put off.  I could go into the other items discussed (before I left early because I was so irritated) but they're not that important.

Here's what just blew me away: they want to move NOVA back into the Mann Building by September 2012.  They will then be renovating Meany for SBOC and SBOC will be housed at Lincoln (about 18 months to two years).   SBOC would move back to Meany in about 2014.
Now let's go back just a scant couple of years.  We just HAD to close buildings.  Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said so.  Mann was a crappy building.  Meany was a failing middle school.  SBOC deserved a home.  So they ended Meany's program, closed up Mann, and moved NOVA and SBOC in together, saying it was a good fit.

It's not like these two groups hated each other; both have such thoughtful people running their programs that it never could have been the case.  But they are wildly different groups with different goals.  

So my first reaction when see the informational sheet for the Board  about moving NOVA back to Mann was "Good for NOVA."  They love that old building and had made it their own.  I'm sure they will be glad to be there.

And, for SBOC, a home to call their own. 

Here's the district's background info:

 The cost of delivering the approved SBOC/World School Academic Program Model at Meany Middle School with the existing collocation of NOVA within the Meany building exceeds the current budget alllocated for this site.  This is primarily due to lack of classroom space as a result of the existing collocation of both Programs within the Meany Building and the anticipated growuth of the SBOC/World School Program.  The cost to relocated the NOVA program to the Mann Buidling and renovate both the Mann and Meany building with single program occupancies can be done within the existing budget. 

Dora Taylor, a NOVA parent, made a couple of telling statements in a Seattle Weekly story about the co-joining of the programs back in 2009:

"The reassurance that was made to the school board by the superintendent," says Taylor, "was that Nova would be moving into a safer building and that it would be 'high school ready'...Neither is the case." 


Taylor says more classrooms will also be needed to accommodate the two incoming programs (Meany housed 419 students this year; Nova had 312 and SBOC had 229). 

How come so many NOVA and SBOC community folks knew this wouldn't work for a variety of reasons?

So why would I be mad?  Let's go with some of the district's own words from when they closed these buildings (all of this comes from Seattle Weekly reporting):


Numerous expenses come with closing schools, including hiring a project manager to oversee the process and "team-building" exercises for staff transferred to new schools, according to district spokesperson David Tucker.

Mann has a $4.2 million backlog and needs $284,000 in seismic work.


The district says its city-wide closure plan will save about $16 million over five years, plus millions more in not having to do overdue maintenance and upgrades at Mann, Hay and three other shuttered buildings. 

Money. 

How much did this yanking around of programs and communities costs us in hard cold cash? 

And as someone who has had to look people in the face and tell them their school is closing, I know the psychic costs to staff and parents and students.  It is stressful and draining and gut-wrenching.

And for what?  To turn around and undo it all a few years later?

Speaking of money, for some reason the district says it has about $4M+ to fix up Meany for SBOC to become the World School.  (Currently SBOC students, in grades 6-12, come in as new immigrants and take classes at the school to become "orientated" to the U.S. and Seattle school system.  Some stay weeks, some months but the idea is to move them into a regular school.   With the World School, it will be a true high school for students who want to stay in one place.) 

Under BEX II, there was to be $14M for a modest upgrade for whereever SBOC ended up.  Somehow that got bounced down to about $10M.  I have been told over and over that it is in reserve for SBOC and I know it didn't get used at Meany because the upgrades there were from BTA.  So where is SBOC's $10M BEX money?  Funny but the BEX website says that SBOC DID get an upgrade.


No, it didn't. 

Now I know that NOVA will be happy to be back in Mann but let's examine what they gave up.  They had fixed up the school.  They had furniture that the district refused to move to Meany (and Charlie, did it ever make it there or get abandoned?)  NOVA will move in and, once again, try to fly under the radar so the district will leave them the hell alone. 

What is happening here?  We have an influx of new students and suddenly this district can't open buildings or find space fast enough.  It's like crazy town.  There's no rhyme or reason to it.

And at the Operations Committee meeting, was any of this discussed?  No, they were too busy saying what a good idea this is and yes, yes we must bring it to the community.  But see to get NOVA back in Mann, they already asked for an RFP   Their tight project timeline starts July 22 so I'm not thinking they'll be a whole lot of discussion going on.  (They did kind of look embarrassed that this didn't get brought up to these communities BEFORE school ended.) 

Harium they needed community engagement but it's "just just an idea."  No, it's not.  There was not ONE mention of how painful it is that all this money and time and energy just got wasted by moving NOVA and SBOC in together.  No measured talk about not making these kinds of expensive mistakes again.  No, it was just move on. 

This is real money being wasted by all this running around like chickens with their heads cut off.   It is sad and very disturbing when you consider all the building needs in this district.

51 comments:

Sahila said...

Just remember Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, where crises (incompetence) are manufactured so that the white knights of ed deform can come into town to rescue us all...

But really - these people are just plain clueless.... no political savvy, no management savvy, no empathy, no financial nous, no foresight, no critical thinking skills.... how on earth they manage their own lives, families, relationships, homes, businesses, jobs I don't know...

and WV = "rewardin".... rewarding whom and for whom????

Sahila said...

You know what I do when things get in a real tangle in my life/job/head and I dont know what to tackle first?

I dont just keep tinkering willy nilly, playing "whack-a-mole" with every issue that comes up....

I stop - halt - stand still.... and I step back and take a long hard look at the situation and all of its connective tissue...

Then I start to unravel all the knots...

And I figure out a starting place to take action to put things back on track...

What is so hard about that?

Its not like they dont have the bodies and resources to do a good job...

Time for a complete clean sweep...

Josh Hayes said...

I think your second paragraph is more apt, Sahila: this isn't malign neglect, it's just plain stupidity.

I think there's also a sense, in most useless bureaucracies like SPS Central, that doing something, no matter how dopey, is preferable to doing something that's, you know, useful, and that might involve, you know, thinking.

Never ascribe to malice what can more easily be ascribed to incompetence. If nobody said that before: dibs!

Jan said...

Sahila has made me a believer in Klein's Shock Doctrine -- and I continue to believe there was an element of it in MGJ's running (down) of the District.

But I agree that this seems more like clueless ineptitude -- coupled with that wierd amnesia thing that SSD does, where they either can't (or they claim they can't) remember all the bad stuff that happened just a little while ago (but but but -- even when they were the ones that made it happen? Nope, guess not even then!) -- and so every decision is made in this sort of strange vacuum.

But here is what I think has happened. The decision 2 years ago to close schools was horrible, horrible, terrible, and awful. It was unjustified based on the facts -- the claimed "excess capacity" was a mirage; I am at a loss to think of how it could have been handled worse, in terms of inaccuracies and lies told to school communities, bad faulty data. Really, the whole thing was bad beyond belief.

Many. Chickens. Now. Roosting. So -- what to do, when ALL the decisionmaking was flawed? They are evidently making plans to reopen the closed schools as fast as they possibly can. Fairmount? Mann? And more to come. It is really really bad -- but it would be worse if they refused to open those schools now. THAT would be worse.

Anonymous said...

I also wonder if the people making these decisions view the students and staff as commodities to be moved around like canned peas during a store remodel. Melissa is right in that the psychic damage being done to the affected people does not seem to register with anyone in this district, much less the actual monetary costs of this close-then-open policy.

Observer

Jan said...

To Sahila's point -- what is now needed is a thoughtful "reset" by the current interim Superintendent. Because it was Pottergate (and not any of the myriad WORSE failings of MGJ) that ushered her into the job, she acknowledged that a reset needed to be done on the trust issue, and she has at least done SOME stuff to address that issue.

But it needs to be done in virtually EVERY thing that MGJ touched. That woman was toxic poison in every possible way.

They evidently ARE doing a sort of "reset" on the school closure issue -- by reopening everything they haven't yet sold. But it would sure be great to get an acknowledgement -- from the top -- either the Board or Dr. E. of what is going on, and why.

I am frankly thrilled that NOVA gets Mann back -- it has bugged me every time I drive past that building to think of the displacement of that program from that site.

But we need resets elsewhere as well -- in math curriculum, in Performance Management, in MAP testing. Sahila is right. It would be SOOO great if the Board would require that District Administration just STOP. Reassess the entire situation. Every single thing that is running around madly outside its box and costing a fortune (RBHS principal issues, Lowell principal/staff issues, NSAP issues (overcrowding, program placement, obvious errors by MGJ in failing to make LI and Montessori into option programs).

Then -- they need to come up with two things:
1. the Fall 2011 plan (evidently involving moving part of Lowell, but what else?).
2. The 2017 to 2017 plan -- involving whatever other schools have to be opened, whatever other boundaries have to be moved, and rules have to be changed, under NSAP.

But I would hate to see it limited to facilities. There are so many other places where MGJ either took a bad situation and made it much worse, or where she took a reasonably good situation and ruined it. And then, Dr. E and the Board have to tell us in what order they can start fixing stuff, and how long each thing is likely to take.

If you tell me that you can't get around to reevaluating Discovery Math for 3 years, because you have to find roofs and bathrooms for all the kids first -- and get RBHS straightened around, and a levy passed, and an IB program started (and one expanded) -- I can live with that. I don't like it, but I think 700 kids in a building that fits 450 trumps bad math books.

But I want the plan. I want a "real" strategic plan -- not one built around ed reform bullshit, larded with lies about teacher support and dollars into classrooms, when what they mean is forced teacher attrition, dollars for consultants, coaches, high stakes testing, and Big Ed companies.

I want a strategic plan focused on spending the District's money in the best possible way so that the most students possible learn as much as they possibly can, in the time (and with the money) that the District has available to accomplish that task.

Catherine said...

Considering what other plans SPS had for Nova, namely Move Nova to Lincoln, spend $3million on "their part of Meany, move Nova back to Meany, then move Nova somewhere yet to be determined in 2014 or 2015.

Remodeling Mann for the $1.3Million that was "too expensive" for MGJ and FS, move Nova back to Mann after the remodel, and give SBOC more of what they were promised long ago - a High School. That might make sense... given where we are now.

Anonymous said...

OMG. My kids will have this all over facebook in a matter of no time. How "real" is this? How real is anything in SPS? I am spittin' mad. The Nova community has worked and worked to make Meany home. They went through months of design committee meetings with the district this year- took kids on trips to see cool design aspects at other schools, only to then have to tell them that in facct, there is no $$ to do anything for Nova at Meany. The whole process fizzled a few weeks back- and I was very skeptical. My fear,? The district would make some crazy decision over the summer when the community was dispersed. Argghh.

Bitter, bitter sweet. Dora and EVERYONE else in the community was right.

So what now?

Nova mom of 2

Anonymous said...

I am almost to the point that I would even take a well-run district with Ed Reform rather than this sloppy mess.

Oh no you di'nt! MW, get back on track, fast, and don't go sayin' that junk! You are playing with fire and you don't know it.

Think about it: What in the hell was the cause of all this in the first place? What was the 5 year strategic plan? What was pushing the legislation in Olympia, management's position on the most recent union contract, standardized testing and Discovery Math? ED REFORM, BABY! ED REFORM!

Put the gun back in the holster! Easy now...there you go. You don't want to hurt anybody, right?

I hear you loud and clear, but don't for one second think the Ed Reform crowd is bothered by this stuff at all. Their kids aren't in our schools. They supported MGJ and 4 members of this board. They blame teachers for everything and help create the top heavy yet incompetent staff at SPS.

Don't you all remember MGJ telling us all how these closures would save the money it took to heat and light these buildings, and put more dollars in the classrooms?

Stop laughing, crying, shaking your heads and grabbing your weapons.

The answer is not to embrace Ed Reform. The Answer is to turn out 4 members of this Board. Lets get on with it, shall we? All aboard now!

WSEADAWG

JvA said...

If one thing can be said about this administration, they're certainly not stingy about providing you with blog material.

Charlie Mas said...

I sometimes wonder if Dr. Enfield will have to walk back every single thing that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson did.

dan dempsey said...

My Granny always said:

"When uncertain or in doubt....
run in circles scream and shout.
"

If the SPS could have confined itself to those actions we would have been better off by tens of millions.

Instead it was when uncertain or in doubt.... close a bunch of schools .. move kids all over the place ... then move them back.

Good thing Dr. Enfield decided to raise some central admin salaries ... we sure don't want to lose any of those "highly qualified" "high demand" folks to some place else.

Also I am totally amazed at the continually screwed up k-12 math direction.... So they blew $1.2 million on the HS math adoption ... because it fit so well with the k-8 no results math program.

Now they say the SPS cannot switch to a recommended math program instead of the adopted mathematically unsound set of textbooks because there is no money. .... These folks have no more to spend on sound instructional materials and practices ... but there is money for central office raises ... there is money to move school personnel and programs from one place to another .. close schools .. reopen schools.

"Like A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off" .... No I think it is highly paid "experts" throwing darts at the idea board. One year the hit is close schools and then next year the hit is open schools.

The consistent thread is the district refuses to intelligently apply relevant data to making most decisions. The four directors up for reelection have rarely ever applied relevant data to make a decision.

Most Turkeys I hear are too stupid to come out of the rain. I have no idea what beheaded turkeys do... Rrom my childhood I know what beheaded chickens do from personal experience. -- They act like SPS decision-makers.

dan dempsey said...

I think I am in need of the reassuring speech about transparency and accountability. Director Sundquist and Dr Enfield need to tell me again how they are restoring confidence in the district. My confidence in the district is taking a dip from really low to even lower.

Max said...

I spent my freshman year in high school attending countless school board meetings, ASC meetings, ASC marches, planning and promoting marches, and attending countless community meetings; Why? So as to try and stop the school board from moving my school The Nova Project from the Mann building.

I did not go after this goal like a crazy chicken with my head cut off (which is how the district seems to be handeling everything these days) but instead with real information, real hard fact provided to me by my own knowledge and research, fellow Nova students, and/or parents/community members that spent COUNTLESS hours analyzing data provided by the district.

What where my main argument points?
1. Nova's community would be tragically affected by the move. Result after move: Nova struggled through its first year in the new building. Most old Nova students said it was one of the worst times for the school.
2. It would cost the district MORE to upgrade the Meany building then the Mann building. Point proven. And now the architects are telling them the same thing.
3. Census data was pointing to a RISE in school aged children living in Seattle, yet the district still says it needs to close schools. And now they are scrambling for new schools.

It is infuriating to me that even thought the district is supposed to serve the STUDENTS and the COMMUNITY yet they seem to have no interest in listening to them OR doing anything that helps them. This argument is something that most people on here already know but at this point I am so infuriated that I had to reiterate it one more time.

The district needs a complete overhall. I can't believe that they have been able to continue like this for so long. I am full of shock and frustration, and have honestly NO faith that the school district as an entity can make any sort of smart long term decision.

I am SO glad I am graduating soon.

Anonymous said...

Max: So good to hear from you. And thanks for all your hard work and fighting the good fight. You were right, and you did the right thing then, and you're doing the right thing now. It's good to remind these self-serving, self-centered @$$holes that they are doing a great job of ruining what should be some of the best years of students lives with all this "change is hard" bullshit. Change for the better? Or change to pad somebody's resume?

These changes have not just been hard. They've been mind-bogglingly ill-conceived, ill-executed, and literally the polar opposite of what should have been done.

Hate to say it, Max, but welcome to much of Corporate America, where merit and talent take a distant back seat to who you know or who's ass you're willing to kiss. Sorry you had to learn it so young, but you've gained a treasure trove of valuable life-lessons earlier than most. WSEADAWG

Anonymous said...

If we are going to take a stroll down memory lane, let's not forget there was an amazing inexpensive way to just make a world school.

Move Summit into Meany with the SBOC - instant World School!!

But no. All of the "savings" from the closure round came from NOT needing to fix Mann and from NOT transporting students to Summit. How has that worked out?

Ugh. Banging head on wall now.

- ne parent

ArchStanton said...

@WSEADAWG: Ditto

@Max: Thanks for providing a student perspective. We don't always get to hear what the kids are feeling - to some degree because we are trying to shield our kids from all the turmoil.

I think it would be great if the next public testimony could feature student after student (no grownups) giving voice to the issues that SPS mismanagement has created for them. Nova, APP, Cooper, overcrowded schools, split siblings, et al...

Because it's all about the kids... right?

BB said...

"They evidently ARE doing a sort of "reset" on the school closure issue -- by reopening everything they haven't yet sold. But it would sure be great to get an acknowledgement -"

Jan is right. Slowly, we must undo all of the expensive, senseless things that MGJ did, including running NOVA out of Mann and co-locating them with SBOC. Kicking Nova out of Mann was a stupid idea and everybody knew it, and everybody said so, but MGJ just steamrolled on - as usual. Now it has to be undone, and at a huge expense to the district.

It's costly, yes, and much money has been wasted, but it's work that needs to be done. Just like re-opening all of those closed schools. Costly, but it must be done.

I do wish the district, Dr. Enfield, and the school board would acknowledge how much money was wasted under MGJ, and how much it will cost to right all of her wrongs.

Anonymous said...

What about the West Seattle and all of the displaced Cooper Kids??????

signed,

Cooper parent beating her head against wall

Anonymous said...

@BB: Perhaps the most disheartening and upsetting thing about SPS leadership is their complete inability to ever admit they do anything wrong. Accountability? Never. Excuses, excuses, excuses, claiming surprise, or blaming the community is what they do instead.

They are as talented at manufacturing excuses as they are at manufacturing crises. The Lowell Building Has to Close! It's old and unsafe!

Now they find themselves in a real crisis, and the sky is falling. This is what you get when you develop a pattern of dishonest behavior all in an attempt to disguise and hide the fact that big donor's are calling all your shots and pulling your puppet strings: Panic, hasty decision-making, and compounded error.

But what really, really bothers me today is the fact that Enfield & Co handed out a bunch of raises to Central Admin staff claiming that a "market study" indicated they should be paid more, and in order to "keep her talent."

This is how the "human capital" theory works. Screw the teachers for few percent while giving raises to the incompetents in SPS who create so many of the problems in our schools.

And MW: Vacuuming dollars upwards to hand out to your cronies is another hallmark of Ed Reform.

The more I think about those raises, the more furious I become. I want that money back. Time for more press, petitions, and a shame campaign against SPS Central Administration over it. Those raises need to be reversed.

WSEADAWG

dan dempsey said...

"the school board would acknowledge how much money was wasted under MGJ, and how much it will cost to right all of her wrongs."

Well that is just NOT going to happen ....
because four directors are running for reelection this year.

Those directors would need to drop out of the races, if they were to acknowledge that repeatedly ignoring evidence to follow the Leader MGJ had cost tens of millions of dollars and in the process done nothing to improve student learning.

It is absolutely amazing that MGJ and her board screwed up most every aspect of the system ... MGJ & CAO Enfield did a number on academics while MGJ alone screwed up everything else ... and the Board approved it all ... often by a 4-3 vote.

============
Seattle is supposedly a city with a highly educated population. After multiple state audits showing what losers the board is, if any of these directors are reelected, then it will be clear that the "highly educated" tag is just propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Nova reasoned, asked, pleaded, marched, stomped, petitioned, data-shared, testified, explained, drew, and went to court in attempts to stay at Mann. When all that failed, the school rolled up it's sleeves, mourned the loss, and got to work.

The final year at Mann and the first year at Meany were filled with disruption and uncertainty. (Remember reports of district folks and movers coming into to classes to do walk-thrus, take measurements... Remeber we had to put all our volunteer energy into moving our furniture when the district wouldn't?) And now we're going to do it again?? But maybe it will all be ok because remember how much Nova loved their old building?

Before the move, the community tried to explain how connected design and program really are. We shared concern that in addition to not having lab facilities or being seismically sound,the Meany maze was/is not at all conducive to Nova's program. But guess what? Those crazy hard working Novites have spent 2 years making Meany home. The school has new classes and programs that fit the new space, and won't work at Mann. They've invested in equipment that won't be needed at Mann.

No matter how great Nova at Mann was or could be again- this lack of care, understanding or capacity to see 24 months down the road is absolutely unforgivable. The board and downtown staff should admit wrong and ask all the same.

In Nova's competency based measure for growth and learning, SPS would get no credit.

-Owlhouse

Melissa Westbrook said...

Max, if you are turning 18 before November, register to vote. Then vote in the School Board elections and tell your friends the same. You are right; this needs to stop.

And folks, you are right.

Some acknowledgment of a failure of MGJ to make sound decisions has hurt our district and cost us money. This acting like it happened long ago is nonsense.

Yes, the district does keep me busy but again, time and money on everything but academics. When you have this much churn going on, it takes attention away from the goals of the district.

When does it stop?

Po3 said...

I think you need to change the title of the post to include "Maria Goodloe-Johnson PhD" so that this post comes up in a Google search with her name in it. This, the Lowell situation, overcrowding at Garfield are a direct result of her management decisions. All made despite facts and figures to indicate that they were wrong headed decisions.

In fact, everytime a new crisis arises as a result of the Maria years - her name should be in the title. And I would change the Lowell post below to include her name...

someone said...

@Jan AMEN SISTER!!
I want a strategic plan focused on spending the District's money in the best possible way so that the most students possible learn as much as they possibly can, in the time (and with the money) that the District has available to accomplish that task.

And I with you Dawg on how angry I get over those raises - I want that money back too - and I want it to go directly into a classroom, do not pass go.
I have worked for some incompetent government agencies in my time, but SPS takes the cake - hands down, bar none. If any of those existing Directors running gets re-elected..oooooohh I don't want to think about it!

Patrick said...

It's not just Maria Goodloe-Johnson. She bears a lot of the blame, but the Board went along with everything she did. The District office staff failed to plan or give realistic estimates of costs or benefits of the changes.

It matters because we must not assume the now that MGJ is gone everything will be fine from here on out.

BB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sahila said...

Someone needs to close the loop here...

What is happening IS ED DEFORM.... this is what it looks like... in every District where this agenda is being played out... if you cant take my word for it, go check it out... look at NY, Chicago, LAUSD, all over the country...

MGJ came in and did her job... the Directors did their job... Enfield is doing her job...

I'm not saying that this IS SHOCK DOCTRINE tactics necessarily.... much of it COULD BE just plain incompetence - which is what ED DEFORM (with its strategic plans, closing schools, deprofessionalising teaching etc) looks like, all around the country...

So, while its OK to get mad and to stomp and to cry etc.... what are we going to DO about it?

Because as long as the ed deform agenda is alive in this town, nothing will get better...

DONT GET MAD - GET EVEN.... for our kids...

Kick ed deform out of the district/state....

BB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BB said...

If instead of moving NOVA and SBOC to co-locate at Meany, MGJ decided to keep Nova at Mann and renovate the building, Nova would have likely had to move out of the building during renovations anyway. Many school communities have been forced out of their space while their buildings are rebuilt, remodeled, or renovated.

I think moving Nova back to Mann is a good move all around. It's great for Nova - they will be back in their beloved building, and it will be completely renovated. And it will be great for SBOC too. They will finally have their own home, a World School - in a nice renovated building. Why wasn't this proposed in the first place instead of the ridiculous proposal to shutter Mann and co-house SBOC and Nova at Meany?

But here we are. Tasked with reversing yet another one of MGJ's follies, and footing the bill to boot. We must move on though, and despite what could have or should have been done, and the tragic waste of precious dollars, we have to right the wrongs.

I think this moving Nova to Mann is a good move. I do hope though, that there is plenty of community input and engagement, and that any decision made will take that feedback into account.

Charlie Mas said...

I have a strong feeling that, in the revisionist history of the District, it will be believed that NOVA moved out for the renovation.

Po3 said...

Wasn't the Mann building rented out already?

Melissa Westbrook said...

It is rented out but the lease ends this October.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's the story on the NOVA assets and the District move.

To start you have to know that NOVA is not a traditional school. Consequently NOVA did not use its space at Mann in a conventional way. Mann has big, wide hallways that run the length of the building on the ground floor and the second floor. These hallways had couches in them, creating a number of little discussion spaces. The classrooms, as well, were furnished largely with couches instead of conventional student desks. The couches were a motley collection of donated and found pieces. They were all pretty old and some were in fairly nasty shape.

Funny story. The NOVA team name (Dead Rats) has its origin in those old couches. Yes, it's true. Rainier Beach are the Vikings, Garfield are the Bulldogs, Ingraham are the Rams, and NOVA are the Dead Rats. It is also true that the NOVA school colors are black and black.

The District didn't have the couches on their property inventory for NOVA so the District refused to move them when moving the school. That was true for a lot of NOVA's stuff, including art, books, musical instruments, small appliances, and more. Storage space was found for a few of the couches in the best condition, but the rest were lost. My basement was the storage space for a good part of the rest of the stuff. For some reason the District required NOVA to move out of Mann within a few days of the end of the school year and wouldn't allow them to move into Meany until a few days before the beginning of the next year, so everything had to be stored over the summer.

The school has rebuilt its couch inventory, but they don't need as many because there's no space for them in Meany's narrow halls.

I guess they will have to find all new couches. I also guess that the District will refuse to move NOVA's unofficial assets when the school goes back to Horace Mann.

Anonymous said...

As maddening as this is, and as much as I regret that Nova wasn't just left alone, one not-so-small win is that at least they're not remodeling Mann to accommodate Garfield overflow. That would have been truly dirty.


It Won't Go

Anonymous said...

From my freshman on hearing the news
"They're just not gonna let us have a home, are they?"

Jerking a community around like this is awful. Even if it is to return to the mythical Mann building.

pop! goes the weasel

Anonymous said...

Garfield overflow - that did come up in GHS PTA meetings. Mr. Howard has said that Garfield can not say no to any student. It will never be too full to add more students from either the neighborhood or APP. Parents asked if the Mann building could be used, and Nancy C said it was leased and would not be available. She certainly implied the current lease holder had the building for the foreseeable future. Perhaps she already knew that NOVA was getting the school back or perhaps no one told her, but because no one actually lays out the plans, it certainly seems like she misled the GHS PTA. Happy for NOVA, if this is what they want, but some transparency is needed.

syd

Charlie Mas said...

syd, it is not uncommon for the District to claim that something is impossible, then, soon thereafter, announce that they will do it. Examples abound.

* Impossible to re-open McDonald.

* Impossible to re-open Sand Point.

* Pointless to move Spectrum from West Seattle Elementary to Arbor Heights.

The determining factor seems to be who suggests the idea. If it is suggested by a member of the public, then the solution is rejected out of hand as impossible and the person who suggested it is just ignorant. If it is suggested by a member of the staff, then the idea is perfectly acceptable.

Now we have the idea of putting students back in the Mann building. Impossible when suggested by a member of the public. The clear path when suggested by a member of the staff.

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me, did all the school board members rubber-stamp the MGJ Plan for Expensive Disruption, or were there some voices of reason, some holdouts on the board?

It was a couple of years ago. Please refresh me as to who was listening to and looking out for us families, and who was rolling over. Thanks.

- Southmom

Sahila said...

At Soutmom... coincidentally, Dora posted a piece on this just today...

here:Seattle School Board’s Voting Record: Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes

Anonymous said...

Harium and Mary Bass voted against the closure plans. They were the only ones. Everyone else pushed forward. The rationale was the the closures were critical to ensuring the financial stability of the district once the big cuts to education funding started right about now.

Well, there were right about big cuts to education two years after the closures but they were wrong about enrollment projections.

- ne parent

Jan said...

It Won't Go said: "As maddening as this is, and as much as I regret that Nova wasn't just left alone, one not-so-small win is that at least they're not remodeling Mann to accommodate Garfield overflow. That would have been truly dirty."

Eeeeeee! This is like nails on a chalkboard. The displacement of NOVA was not caused by, was not liked by, many GHS folks -- my family among them. The trashing of GHS was not in any way the fault of, or deserved by, GHS students -- any more than the trashing of NOVA by the move was the fault of, or deserved by, NOVA students.

Those at the top are served best when school communities begin to tear at each other -- because it means we have lost our sense of community and taken our eyes off the ineptitude (or worse) going on "up there." So, let's not.

One of my early thoughts when this plan was announced was -- wasn't it a good thing that GHS DIDN'T end up using Mann as an "annex," because it was available for NOVA to move back to, given that the District now has other plans for Meany. But the spin you put on it seems to me to be much more negative and divisive.

Go after the other "victims" of District mismanagement if you want -- but I won't be joining you there.

Jan said...

Syd -- yes -- but APP is not the problem at GHS -- because virtually no one can "join" it after 8th grade. So all growth comes from whatever the growth is at WMS, which is a totally known quantity each year.

I think Kellie nailed this one -- no one correctly predicted the effect of "certainty of access" on general program growth in the attendance area assigned to GHS. Because I have lived in Seattle for so long, I never confronted the situation Kellie describes pre NSAP -- you move here in June with a 6th grader and a 10th grader -- and find that the only schools they will assign you to are RBHS or Cleveland for 10th and Aki for 6th. Now, that is a total non-issue at any time. The District has totally handed over any ability to control student population size at ANY school, other than option schools, or in any program, other than option programs.

I can no longer get access to the pre-NSAP numbers for GHS -- but they had APP in there, and a reasonable school population. As far as I know, the APP predictions held perfectly. It was everything else that was off -- which was the result of bad boundary drawing and, I suspect, the phenomenon that Kellie describes.

Jan said...

Melissa said:
I am almost to the point that I would even take a well-run district with Ed Reform rather than this sloppy mess.

Hoo Boy! Melissa, I am totally with WSEADAWG on this one. It is EXACTLY like when the SE folks start saying -- bring on the charter schools, NOTHING could be worse than what we have. They -- and you -- are wrong. This is exactly what ED Reform wants. Either they get their way -- or they create so much chaos and disorder that everyone throws up their hands and -- they get their way. Classic heads I win, tails you lose! And sentiments like that are JUST what feeds it.

Sahila has this one by the throat. This nuttiness is a stinky brew of Ed Reform chaos and general incompetence/bureaucracies run amok. But it doesn't stink any less if you double the portion of Ed Reform in hopes of driving out the general level incompetence.

We have to get rid of Ed Reform so we can stop making new problems (and wasting what little money we have to educate our kids). THEN, we need to go back to the task that we tried to start several years ago, of demanding that the Board insist that its employee, the Superintendent, clean up the bureaucratic bog that is SSD central administration. That we have failed to date is too bad. But I simply refuse to believe that it cannot be done.

Anonymous said...

Jan @ 4:13 - sorry I wasn't clear. We're probably on the same page. I meant that it would be dirty for the district to kick the Nova kids out because the school was in such bad shape, but then refurbish for GHS what it had been unwilling to refurbish for Nova - but dirty on the district's part, not on the part of the GHS community. They've been just as much victimized by district mismanagement as anyone.

It Won't Go

seattle citizen said...

"My basement was the storage space for a good part of the rest of the stuff."

Thank you for that, Charlie. It is sooo good to see citizens step up and take care of business when the district can't step away from its "inventoried materials" list long enough to see that the couches WERE NOVA, to a large extent. They were so wrapped up in itemized data that they couldn't see the important things that "weren't on the list," but you in your wisdom did, and stepped up.

Our only salvation, it appears, is to keep stepping up.

Thanks for saving those couches.

peonypower said...

Wow- so very like other decisions- made without thinking and made by ignoring those with the facts. It reminds me of the science alignment. Boom boom went the drum of "all will conform" and now it is on hold indefinitely. Not saying I am sad about that, but another example of money spent, plans made, and all for nought.

Charlie Mas said...

Ready, fire, aim.

Max said...

@WSEADAWG- I have had a very rude awakening to our world. Sad but also very enlightening....

@Archstanton- Before I call as many Nova students as possible to get them to testify I really need to see more hard facts on the move. But I do want to some how tell the board that they SUCK for doing this to the MY community and every other community that they have impacted by moving or closing the school.

@Owlhouse- All I can say is I AM RIGHT THERE WITH YOU!!!!

@Melissa Westbrock- I sadly will not be. But I do encourage every single one of my legal friends to do so and as SOON as I can I will.

@BB- Moving Nova back is not the perfect answer, especially not the perfect answer that I fear most people will think it is. There are so many different things that will need to happen for the move to be successful. The district needs to hold up the promises that it made when moving us to Meany and not promise more things that they will not be able to hold up on. On top of that we have grown since we moved to meany and the Mann will not hold all of our teachers at this point. So I am not saying that moving back to Mann is a bad idea it just need to ba approached carefully.

@Charlie Mass- Speaking of things that need to change if we move again.... I can't believe how long there was stuff in my garage after the move. We have our stuff MOVED!

Lets all keep an eye out about whats gonna happen next....

Charlie Mas said...

This episode highlights one of the primary reasons that the Board needs to be replaced.

There is discussion in the Operations Committee about moving a school and at no time during that discussion do any of the Board Directors on the Committee ask: "What does the community have to say about this?"

Peter Maier and Harium Martin-Morris are on that committee.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, they didn't exactly ask your question, true. But they said that there should be community engagement soon.

No one said, why didn't you start talking to the community about this sooner?

No one said, you realize that by doing this, we are completely upending the SBOC/NOVA move AND the rationale given for it?