Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lowell to Split This Fall

I didn't complete my thread on Lowell because of the reaction to the first part.  But one of the issues at Lowell that has some parents frantic is the moving of the Special Education services around the building with them getting less room in inconvenient spaces.  What would happen to these fragile Special Ed students with so many new students coming in this fall?  It would worry you if it were your child.

According to my sources, teachers at Lowell were packing up all of today in order to accommodate those space changes (and to allow for construction of new walls to create more classroom space). 

Abruptly they were all called to a staff meeting by Principal King.

He announced that they should stop packing and that this fall's 4th and 5th graders were going to be going to Lincoln.  The new principal would go with them.

Apparently parents have not received notification of this change.  Maybe they received robo-calls or e-mails tonight.  Maybe something will be announced tomorrow.  I don't know.

What a lot of change for one school without any parental input. 

This seems like a move borne of desperation and I cannot see this turning out well if parents are suddenly getting this sprung on them.  


I can't wait to see the press release on this change.

194 comments:

the source said...

Oops, the second principal going to Lincoln was speculation, not part of the story from staff. Seems like a good speculation, but you never know.

the source, again said...

And I think it is the APP 4th and 5th grades that are moving, not the ALO. What we really have here is breaking news, so please forgive where it is unclear. More will be revealed tomorrow when staff can be questioned.

dj said...

If that is true, I am so glad they are only moving the kids who have already been through a split, and whose move doesn't solve the overcrowding issue in the long term. Eye roll.

Patrick said...

Unbelievable that they'd make a change like that so abruptly with no input. (Well, it would be unbelievable in any other organization.)

dan dempsey said...

Surprise Surprise ... I guess the District cutbacks at the Central Office left the SPS unable to communicate this earlier.
{[maybe another executive director is needed]}

----
It is all about priorities this communication stuff, its kinda like "community engagement". It gets done when it gets done or NOT.

(Well, it would be unbelievable in any other organization.)

suep. said...

Lots of things wrong with this idea:

It would splinter the community/program for the second time in two years.

It would disrupt some of the same children for the second time in two years.

It would isolate one portion of the APP school community, weakening the overall cohesiveness and continuity of the program.

It might even split siblings and families between two sites. That could be a logistic nightmare for some families.

Moving out 4th and 5th grade APP would not truly solve the problem of overcrowding at Lowell in the long-run.

This sounds like a rash proposal -- and made without significant (any?) genuine community input.

Why was this announced after the school year is over when everyone has disbursed? The upcoming overcrowding problem has been known for weeks if not months, so there was an opportunity for community input on various solutions. Instead this is being sprung on everyone.

Why doesn't the district instead move the entire APP cohort to Lincoln in the fall, as proposed at a recent Lowell PTA meeting?

Not only would this maintain the integrity of the program for the kids and teaching staff, it would be less disruptive for all involved, and it would open up space in Lowell for the growing ALO program. Nearby elementary schools, Stevens and Montlake are full. The closing of T.T. Minor in 2009 left many Central District children without a local school. Lowell can serve these kids and will likely grow.

I believe the Lowell APP community should say Hell No to this irrational idea.

none1111 said...

This is insane.

Yes, something needs to be done, and fast. There's physically no way all 3 programs can safely fit in that building this fall.

But it's all or nothing. APP north can move to Lincoln, that's a move I can live with, even though I'm not happy it had to come to this -- especially after the school year has ended. But no splitting by grade level. No way. Not only would that be a dreadful plan for the kids and families involved, but as mentioned above by dj and suep, it doesn't solve the problem moving forward unless they plan to keep it a 1-3 / 4-5 split indefinitely. That type of split has been rejected in the past more than once, including a similar proposal by Mary Bass a few years back.

Something else to consider. Lincoln is most definitely not a permanent move. If these kids were to move to Lincoln there would be yet another move shortly thereafter. But to where?? And if that's true, why not just make that move right now?

In any case, it's all or nothing on the APP north move! If this proposal is made official tomorrow, everyone needs to get together on this and write everyone involved, Greg, our Superintendent, Kay Smith-Blum, Sherry Carr, oh just write all the Board.

Charlie Mas said...

When has the District proposed splitting a community like this? Never. There is a reason they haven't done this before.

The District is having enough trouble trying to create consistency in two sites, and now they are going to try to establish and maintain horizontal and vertical alignment across three sites? HA!

They should just move all of north-end elementary APP to Lincoln until they can find a permanent site for them (John Marshall). They need to acknowledge that as inevitable and get on with it already.

And what are they going to do next year? and the next year? Is this supposed to be a permanent fix? If not, why take the intermediary step? Why not just go straight to the new plan? The new plan can only be one thing: north-end elementary APP at John Marshall. This intermediary step just creates additional disruption.

How did this idea go from being too un-formed to mention to families one day to fully committed the next day?

Gee, if only there was some kind of APP Advisory Committee the staff could have gone to.

Anonymous said...

Here is what came out form Lowell PTA board yesterday. Maybe the person that started this heard it wrong. The proposal is to move the entire APP to Lincoln.

Lowell Capacity Update

Dear Lowell Families--

During the PTA meeting last week we had some great discussions regarding our capacity issues at Lowell. In summary, the Lowell community said:

- Special Needs families are most concerned about losing valuable therapy space for a one year capacity fix, and equally alarmed about the safety issue of having more than 700 students in a space alongside physically restricted children.
- All parents were distressed about fire safety, and other physical logistics surrounding the severe over-crowding that the district has created.
- The APP community expressed its strong preference for the APP program to stay together.

One proposal that was communicated during the meeting involved temporarily moving APP to Lincoln to grow and strengthen the program while the district determined a long-term solution for the APP students. The PTA Board is exploring this option along with others, so please keep your ideas coming.

The PTA Board will work through the summer to help address these concerns. Understanding that no solution will meet the needs of every family, our goal is to make Lowell a healthy, safe school for the ALO and special needs students while protecting the strength of its APP program.

We are committed to keeping our parents apprised and informed of the situation as we learn more. But, parents should understand that as of next week (July 1st) the Lowell Link will be shut down and all communication will be going through your SOURCE accounts. Please, if you haven't done so, sign up TODAY. If you received a copy of the newly designed Thursday Note last week, you are good to go. And we are aware that there are a few parents who, although they are signed up with the SOURCE, did not receive the TN. That issue is being worked on by the district and shouldn't affect direct communication, only newsletter distribution.

Please contact any of the board members with your questions or concerns.

Enjoy your summer.
Lowell PTA board

Dorothy Neville said...

Well, moving the whole APP program might make sense, but that's not what staff were told yesterday. Read the new posts from the old Lowell thread for corroboration.

KG said...

And Lowell gets a new lousy principal in Marella Francois Griffin. Just like they had DeWanda Cook Weaver. Poor Lowell.

Stu said...

Wow, this is a bad idea in so many ways, for the APP community, that is. Of course, for those of us who believe that it's the long-term goal to get rid of APP, this actually makes some bizarre sense.

Think about it, if you did the logical thing and moved the entire APP North community to Lincoln, the cohort, such as it is already divided, remains. By splitting the grade levels, ONLY at Lowell, you're going to discourage North families, with more than one APP student, from joining the program, you're disrupting the continuity of the educational experience (only for the North kids) which will drive people away, AND you splinter the parent group yet again. These are the only reasons I can come up with for this move.

If you have to make a move, move the entire APP North community to Lincoln until another building becomes available. Or is that just too logical for this administration?

stu

ArchStanton said...

I have a hard time believing this plan will come to fruition. I think it's the lowball offer (e.g. T.Marshall & Hamilton) that will make parents sigh with relief whenever the final solution is announced (i.e. moving all of APP North to Lincoln temporarily).

Still, just like the announcement of the APP split right before Thanksgiving, this announcement will keep the APP community awake at night instead of enjoying their summer vacation.

When does the improved communication, transparency, and community engagement begin?

SkritchD said...

Moving of the Lowell APP to a new building doesn't bother me, but splitting the split and moving just the 4th and 5th graders? That is ridiculous. I am one furious parent, if that is the plan. Not to mention no warning or input from the parents again.

SkritchD said...

Where on the Source can I read about the decision to move the Lowell APP 4th and 5th graders only? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Gawd, not again. The only thing that's certain is that this move is temporary.

Newsflash: The North End needs another High School, and Lincoln is it. Look at the elementary and middle school #'s. Look at the NE needing a new middle school, darn quick. Lincoln is not home to APP for long, but there's no money to redo a school for APP, so, what will it be? All portables on an old car lot on Aurora? At Wilson Pacific?

Another certainty is that SPS Staff are incredibly biased against APP families. They figure APP can deal with anything, their kids are already rich, privileged, and college bound, so screw them, they aren't part of the district's mission to close the achievement gap, nor does APP help the resume building wizards who'll stake ownership claims to rising test scores, if and when they occur. The lower kids are performing, the easier it is to make big, impressive gains. That's the game in modern education reform leadership.

Were I a prospective APP parent, this uncertainty would keep me out of the program, but also mad as hell at SPS's reigning incompetence.

Private schools must read this stuff and laugh all the way to the bank. We've almost pulled the trigger on that option, even though it would hurt us financially, because we are just sick of being under a constant threat of more harm to APP. Is there a more taken-for-granted program or cohort anywhere in the district? I don't think so. WSEADAWG

JeanB said...

Just so you know, sending the "new" principal with the 4 & 5 grades is truly a rumor.

Let's hope that its a good sign that the district hasn't announced it to parents and that they are already rethinking it.

Look for a petition later this morning.

Anonymous said...

You know this is not a good answer. But it is better than over 750 kds in a building that should only have 400. It is also better than moving everyone as clearly Lincoln can only be temporary. It is also better than one more geographic split.

I don't think this will deter anyone. In fact based on hamiltons increased enrollement, I would expectbfolks to be happy to be in the north end.

NE parent

Jon said...

Seems like crisis politics yet again. Keep denying there is any issue, then suddenly make a decision with no parent or teacher input, saying it is an emergency and there is no time for debate or discussion. We have seen this before.

I don't understand what the district staff might think the advantages are of splitting north-end APP 1-3 at Lowell and 4-5 at Lincoln, but I suspect the majority of parents and teachers would prefer to move the 1-5 program over to Lincoln intact.

After all the delay and denial leading up to this now crisis for Lowell APP, I hope there is still time to switch to something more sensible.

basically said...

"Gee, if only there was some kind of APP Advisory Committee the staff could have gone to."

'nuff said.

Anonymous said...
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dj said...

Jon, I can think of a few "advantages."

(1) the Lowell site remains full (it is overcrowded now but would be much smaller than normal if APP were moved out)

(2) this means that some of the resources that would, could or might otherwise trail the departing APP kids (fundraising base, library, after school activities) do not go poof for Lowell tomorrow, and

(3) as Arch Stanton points out, now, however half-arsed a plan the district might come up with that moves the whole program, APP parents will be relieved.

Of course they shouldn't be. It's not like the last time the district "fixed" elementary APP (two whole years ago!), we ended up with fabled stability.

bf said...

I have heard that although the district suggested the 4th/5th move, that the Lowell PTA is advocating for the entire program to be moved to Lincoln.

Charlie Mas said...

I just got off the phone with Teresa Wippel in the District Communications Department, and she told me that she had no definitive news about Lowell. She said that discussions continue and no decision has been made.

Lori said...

I'm with ArchStanton. My gut reaction last nite when I read this is that it's a trial balloon. Clearly, no one has thought through the logistics. But if they can rally people against this idea, they might get better buy-in for a full cohort move than if they had simply announced the full cohort move from the start.

I'll be anxious to finally see some sort of official word from someone, anyone (PTA, APP AC, the school's administration, the district...)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Charlie, that was on my to-do list.

Interesting that the word was to staff by the principal that this was happening.

Thinking about it, I don't understand taking only the APP 4th/5th grade out. That seems even more isolating. But they would be able to go over to Hamilton and maybe play music there or do other exchanges.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dorothy Neville said...

Yah, discussions continue is appropriate answer. But how very frustrating to have the word from the principal about the split/move and then have that be only in discussion.

The logistics alone! Teachers on their own time packing up for the remodel, told they had a hard deadline this week to get it finished, only to be pulled off it because the construction canceled.

The cost of anyone moving to Lincoln -- perhaps this is the $230K in Capital budget for program placement? Everything must get packed, moved and unpacked (and then all the work packing up the special ed/PT rooms unpacked). Bus schedules are all changed. What about equipment, library, etc? Whether this is 4/5 or all of APP or whatever, it's a mess. And what about the geowalk Zone around Lowell? Would those kids go north or go to TM?

The thing is, there is no reason that this is all just being discussed now after school is out. We knew about the overcrowding for over a month. I heard about the plans to usurp special ed, preschool and Physical therapy space at least a month ago.

Wonder if Operations would be discussing this today? Is this the sort of thing that would come up in that committee?

Anonymous said...

I agree that 700+ in the Lowell building is insane, but this idea is also insane. There are so many unknowns.

I am wondering what they would call this crazy thing. Lowell north? North APP? The schools that have been in the building are called by the names of their future school (McDonald or QA Elementary). Lowell APP doesn't have a future school, do they?

I thought Enfield was bringing transparency and community engagement to the district. I guess this overcrowding that we've known about for months sneaked up on them all of a sudden.

fatigued parent

Anonymous said...

Remember there is already a school at Lincoln. McDonald Elem. has 175 students occupying the main floor of the most useable part of the building, occupying the library, the very small cafeteria for two lunch periods, etc. And the playground is minimal with one play structure. Lowell parents - get ready to paint rooms during the summer.
--McDonald Parent

Charlie Mas said...

I was just about to write a nice little blurb about how the Board should review this decision to confirm that it is based on sound rationale, to confirm that it is consistant with Board Policy on Program Placement, and to advocate on the part of students and families impacted by the move.

Then I remembered something.

The creation of another APP site is in direct violation of the Board's Highly Capable Students Program Policy D12.00.

"The number of self-contained program sites shall not expand beyond the 1993-94 levels."

kellie said...

A lot of the timing issues are because open enrollment was so extremely late. Open enrollment wasn't finished until June so many many decisions that should have been obvious and would typically have been handled in the Spring were just delayed until the end of school. If open enrollment had been in January, then there would have been time to discuss this, plan, etc. But no, we are once again in crisis management mode.

I don't think this split is a great idea but it is better than 750+ at Lowell. Nobody is going to be happy with any answer. That is simply because there are no easy, simple, convenient or inexpensive answers.

It was inevitable that something drastic would need to happen. There are 450 APP students scheduled for Lowell in the Fall. 450 is larger than many (most?) elementary schools. I just don't think it is possible for a 450 student "optional" program with "guaranteed placement" to share space with an attendance area program that also has "guaranteed placement."

You can only guaranteed a building to so many people. Wasn't this the final argument about abandoning the sibling guarantee. They couldn't guarantee the same K seats to both the neighborhood students and the siblings.

The bottom line here is that you can't run a neighborhood based assignment plan at capacity. You can run a choice program at capacity because the last person in gets the last seat, no matter how undesirable a seat that may be.

You simply can't run an assignment based system at capacity. It can't be done. There has to be excess capacity for the assignments to work. Moreover, there has to be excess capacity at every grade level and in every part of town.

It is not surprising that APP is feeling the brunt of this issue. APP is the only program with a guaranteed placement in the new system. So where are the big issues. Garfield, Washington, Hamilton, Lowell. It is only a matter of time before TM is on that list.

ArchStanton said...

The creation of another APP site is in direct violation of the Board's Highly Capable Students Program Policy D12.00.

Like that matters. They'll just change the policy after the fact. Or not. But you already know that. ;-)

Charlie Mas said...

Okay. A whole raft of conflicting thoughts here. That's in addition to the whole Decision made/No decision made ambiguity.

1. The District should have engaged families in the development of this solution, but if the decision isn't final, then maybe there is still plenty of time to engage families. But they haven't engaged families to date (or have they?), and will they engage families even if they have time?

2. This didn't follow the usual program placement process, but it also appears that the program placement process wasn't used for any program placement decisions this year.

3. Splitting north-end elementary APP would be a violation of the Highly Capable Student Programs policy D12.00, but this is the same policy that the Board voted to suspend on January 29, 2009 when they split APP.

4. When the Board voted to suspend the policy and split APP two and a half years ago, they also voted to direct the superintendent to review the policy and recommend revisions. She totally neglected that direction from the Board and the Board totally failed to follow up on it. Gee. I bet they wish that they had fixed the policy when they were supposed to.

5. The three Board Directors representing the north-end are all up for re-election. Is this a good time for them to piss off some of the most influential student families in the north-end? Politically, the timing is perfect for the APP community.

Maureen said...

I'm copying Anonymous at 9:48 here (this blog requires you sign a name of some sort or you'll get deleted):

It does seem rash and short-sighted, yet given the options, it may just be the least-worst alternative. It simply isn't safe to cram over 700 students into Lowell.

As far as minimizing disruptions for the kids, this proposal at least keeps grades together. And for every family that would be split among two schools, there may be a family that welcomes being close to siblings at Hamilton.

Anonymous said...

So true, Kellie, so true.

And so said, so many times, to so many board members, on so many occasions, by so many people, only to be met with "We need to right-size our schools to save money and be more efficient."

So, Board, how's that "efficiency thing" workin' out for ya?

I hereby nominate Meg Diaz's goats for School Board. They couldn't do worse.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, WSEADAWG

wijoli said...

I read this blog frequently and haven't ever commented. But this announcement upsets me so much that I have to write. We just decided to move our incoming 3rd grader to Lowell this year -- for one thing so he could finally be at the same school as his brother (who will be a 4th grader at Lowell). We would never have moved him had we known about this.

I can't believe (well I guess I can unfortunately) that the District would make this decision with NO input from current Lowell parents (at least that I know of). It's really horrendous. Beyond our family's individual situation, I think it is extremely important to keep all of the APP kids (1-5)together from Lowell -- not just move a couple grade levels. I don't mind moving them to a north end school, but they should be moved together.

Steve said...

I emailed Nancy Coogan (exec director for the Central Region), and she said to call her to discuss. I'll post after I get ahold of her. In her email, she also said:

"So you know communication is sending out correspondence inviting the community to a meeting for input."

I wonder if this is input on this plan to move 2 grades to Lincoln, or on the whole range of ideas. I think it's been the MO of the district to narrow the options before engaging parents, and then get feedback on the narrow option. I hope that's not the case here.

And it needs to be said again...the communication around this stuff is just incompetent.

ArchStanton said...

Is this a good time for them to piss off some of the most influential student families in the north-end? Politically, the timing is perfect for the APP community.

If we were still in SPS, we would be entering 4th grade and staring down another split. If nothing else would have made me refuse the MAP test by now, this would be it; I'd be so pissed. I am pissed on behalf of our friends and peers that have to deal with this kind of BS again.

Dorothy Neville said...

No matter what the story, no matter if this is just an idea tossed out to get a reaction and prepare folks for change, change MUST happen. I do not know the proper solution, but listening to the Special Ed parents and Staff speak at the last board meeting was compelling. The overcrowding and the usurping of Special Ed and PT space is an accident waiting to happen, not to mention a lawsuit in the works. No, a lawsuit was not threatened, but listening to the compelling accounts of how detrimental the overcrowding would be makes it pretty clear that a lawsuit could happen and the district would not win.

And Amen, Kellie, the voice of reason. But the rumors of the extent of overcrowding were out there before the open enrollment figures were in. Advanced Learning would have known how many students of each grade were accepted to APP and would have at least a rough guess of how many would enroll, so those rumors seemed plausibly realistic.

lendlees said...

PTA Breaking News
Dear Lowell Families-

It has come to the attention of the Lowell PTA Board that the District has plans to move only the 4th and 5th grade APP classes to Lincoln for the upcoming school year, 2011-2012. The Board does not support the split of any one of our valued Lowell programs, and is working diligently to keep the APP program together. But, as we stated before, having 700+ students in one building is not an option from a safety, health and well being perspective.

Gregory King made the announcement to the teachers at a staff meeting yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. The PTA Board has begun to voice our concerns to the district, and we hope that the district will reconsider this decision. We remain optimistic as the district has yet not notified Lowell parents of its plan, and read this as a good sign.

We will keep you apprised as the situation unfolds.

Several parents have created a petition to lobby to keep the APP cohort together. If you would like to be added to this collective voice, go to: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Keep-Lowell-APP-Together-Fall-2011/

Lowell PTA Board

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It has come to the attention of the Lowell PTA Board..."

So calm but I found it pretty funny as if they had received a memo.

A second to Kellie as the voice of reason (and hopefully a member of the School Board someday).

"But no, we are once again in crisis management mode."

She's right there. Every time we turn around. RBHS is at a crisis level. Lowell is at a crisis level. Wait for the doors to open this fall at Garfield - whoops! where did all these kids come from?

"You simply can't run an assignment based system at capacity. It can't be done."

Again, correct and boy is the district finding this out in spades.

I know that the district has sent out an RFP for 5 closed buildings. NOT that they are opening them but obviously to gauge what the costs would be and how useful it would be to open 1 or more. Fairmount Park was on the list.

I agree with Kellie that this is built on how late the enrollment process got to be. But it was no mystery that Lowell was squeezed too tight.

It's almost as if they don't want to believe this stuff is happening until it is right on top of them.

Peter Maier proudly told the Metro Dems yesterday that enrollment is up, partially because of the NSAP. I about did a spit take. One, because of these kinds of overcrowding issues and two, because where is his proof of that?

JeanB said...

Please sign the petition
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Keep-Lowell-APP-Together-Fall-2011/

Anonymous said...

There are north end families who are not fleeing to Shoreline now, due to the NSAP guaranteeing them a seat at Eckstein. So, from that perspective, the NSAP probably is boosting enrollment, at least up north.

With Eckstein already over-crowded, it will be interesting to see what happens in the fall.

North End Mom

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a link to the petition.

Kerry said...

Lendlees, Stephanie Bower, anyone who knows,

How can new families get on the PTA distribution list? SOURCE still lists our old school so I assume we will not be getting updates on this situation anywhere other than here.

I'd like to be on the official school and district lists if anyone can tell me how.

Po3 said...

They could solve two overcrowding problems by moving 4,5,6 APP to Lincoln. I would love a small enviroment for 6th grade!

Anonymous said...

Kerry -

From what I understand, families new to Lowell this coming year won't be transferred over to Lowell on the Source until the first day of school. The district moves you over on the source, not the school (this is what I have been told).

disgusted yet again

Anonymous said...

What bothers me greatly is that the information so far has been secondhand and from the PTA, not directly from the District.

I'd like to hear what options are on the table and what is planned for 2012 before outright dismissing the proposed 4/5 move to Lincoln.

This would be a huge disruption for families, and it's frustrating for families that may have made other choices had they known...yet here we are.

Ideally, the 1-5 cohort can stay together, but I'm also willing to roll up my sleeves, paint, and make the best of it, so all kids will be in a safe environment for the year.

-Unsigned

dan dempsey said...

From "Say What?" land:

Well.... I sure hope that some of the Central Admin that got those raises are in the group that planned this.... I sure would not want them leaving for better jobs elsewhere. Thus leaving the district with less qualified administrators to plan this type of improvement.

Peter Maier should take several bows for the NSAP .... making every school a quality school ... no matter how many pieces it is split into.

SkritchD said...

There will be community meeting regarding the potential move of APP 4th and 5th graders. That meeting will be at Lincoln School on Monday, June 27th, at 7pm, in the auditorium (4400 Interlake Avenue N).

Stu said...

I don't think this split is a great idea but it is better than 750+ at Lowell.

Everything you say is true, Kellie, but I think it misses a larger point. Forget about the promises that the district made when splitting the program initially, they have, and forget about the equity between elementary school sites 'cause that's not realistic either; this is a much more serious "split" than the previous one because it disrupts the cohort in a much more insidious way. It changes the APP experience for half the population -- very different programs for the south and north, which by the way, will end up being a complaint about how "good" the north end has things -- and require ANOTHER duplication of services. It splits families between neighborhoods and changes the nature of the cohort.

More importantly, many of us feel as though we didn't do enough as a whole community to fight the initial elementary split and that, by dividing the APP community into two different schools, the district took some bark out of our bite. While APP as a program is supposed to be a single entity, each building has no choice but to advocate for itself.

This latest move must be fought by a uniform APP community that has to refuse to let the district dilute the program in any way. If this goes through, and succeeds, it's the first step to APP throughout the district and the loss of the true self-contained program.

If this ends up happening, it's a HUGE deal. The district knows this too; you can always tell how big a deal it is by how they announce it. They've known about the overcrowding for a long time, before enrollment was closed -- remember it's a test-in program and isn't subject to "choice" -- and waited until the summer vacation, when families were heading out of town and not paying too much attention, to make this announcement. They're inefficient, dishonest, manipulative, self-involved, and tend to avoid fact-based or logical and/or long-term solutions . . .they're not stupid!

stu

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

I agree with you, Stu, that APP families need to be united about this.

It would be super, however, if parents from other schools would be supportive of APP in this as well. If people are thinking long-term and looking at the burgeoning numbers at a lot of schools, they need to realize that this sort of thing could happen to any school. You just ended the school year, and, hey, don't mind us, but we'll be shipping several classrooms off to another site next year, because this school is overcrowded and we didn't plan ahead. You don't mind, do you? Hey, Bryant parents -- I imagine if the district decides to put a few classrooms of your kids at Sandpoint or Lincoln, that will be ok, yes?

The NSAP is supposed to provide predictability. Predictable unpredictability isn't exactly what that is supposed to mean.

Anonymous said...

So, now it's about 3:30 and still nothing official from the district. They announced this about 24 hours ago to the teachers. Supposedly there is a meeting on Monday, and still nothing???

What in the world are they thinking?

kellie said...

Stu,

I am not actually missing the larger point about the quality of education at stake and/or equity issues. I was simply not addressing them as the district completely did not and does not address quality or access to education in the NSAP in any way. If they did, Montessori and Language Immersion would be option programs.

FWIW, I agree with you completely on the education issues. The previous split and this split is NOT in the best interest of education or gifted education. It is only in the best interest of logistics and safety.

However, I do think the APP community really does need to get a handle on the logistical issues if they are going to make a persuasive argument about quality of education issue.

A school can only be guaranteed to so many people. To me that means, that APP (and Spectrum) should only be housed at option schools. Only option schools can turn away some types of enrollment.

As long as APP is at popular assignment schools (Garfield, Lowell, Hamilton) this problem is going to repeat itself.

Steve said...

I just received this letter from the executive assistant of Dr. Enfield's office, written by Nancy Coogan. (Any typos are mine as I had to transcribe it). She said this letter is being sent to parents today:

June 23, 2011

Dear Lowell Staff and Families:

In Seattle Public Schools, our goal is to provide a safe and welcoming learning environment for all of our students, including those in general education, in special education and in the APP program. We have been excited to see the APP program expand at Lowell and throughout the district, but this growth has put significant enrollment pressure on our schools.

During the past few weeks, as we considered the latest enrollment numbers, it has become increasingly apparent we will not be able to accommodate the growth we are experiencing at Lowell.

We are studying a number of options, including moving the APP fourth and fifth graders to Lincoln School for the 2011-12 school year. Expanding Lowell Elementary to Lincoln would ensure that we have adequate space for all students, including those with special needs remaining at Lowell. This would be a short-term solution to give us time in upcoming months to develop a long-term plan for APP enrollment.

We would like your feedback on this option. Please join us at a Lowell community meeting:

Date: Monday, June 27, 2011
Time: 7 p.m.
Where: Lincoln School auditorium
4400 Interlake Avenue N.
Seattle, Wash. 98103

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at necoogan@seattleschools.org. We look forward to meeting with you on Monday.

Sincerely,

Nancy Coogan
Executive Director of Schools, Central Region

Anonymous said...
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kellie said...

Mel,

Thanks for the kinds words. However, I am far too reasonable to ever run for School Board.

That said, the Lowell situation was very predictable to parents on the ground. It was a fair surprise to folks downtown and this is mostly because of the late enrollment and the part where downtown rarely has the insights that parents on the scene do.

More folks tested that typical due to letters to all high scoring students on the Map test. More folks qualified than typical due to the prescreening effect of the MAP test. So you have more qualified folks than a typical year.

Add to that a much higher than typical acceptance rate. Middle school at Hamilton has made APP more attractive to families in the north end. AND more folks from the north end are willing to leave their now overcrowded schools.

Both of my students are APP qualified. However, I never seriously considered sending them to Lowell and Washington. But things have changed.

Also Peter is right, the NSAP has increased enrollment but this is mostly seen in summer enrollment. Under the old plan, families new to the Seattle area did not typically enroll in public schools. Part of the choice system was that the last one in (summer moves) gets the last seat (typically not desirable). In the north end, families would be assigned to Aki Kurose for middle school if you enrolled in the summer. Under the new plan, you can move over the summer and get a school. This has increased enrollment but mostly at already over-crowded schools.

Linh-Co said...

Charlie Mas' idea of boycotting the MAP and MSP tests is not so crazy after all. Until we all unite and say enough is enough, the district will do whatever it wants.

ArchStanton said...

APP is important and it is just as important as the non APP programs are. Moving all APP students to another school so suddenly would be detrimental to the ALO students and families. If that is the goal then moving the 4th and 5th graders first will give the ALO families an opportunity to build up the PTA etc which is dominated right now by APP families.

You are absolutely right in saying that it would be unfair to the ALO community at Lowell to remove the support that the APP community provides. But, it is equally unfair to continue using APP as a convenient pawn to move around at will to prop up other schools whether it be for test scores, PTA funds, volunteers, or dealing with capacity problems. This problem is the district's making, not APP's and to blame APP for being selfish yet again for simply wanting to keep what little cohort remains intact amounts to kicking the whipping boy just a little more.

I'm not accusing you, Anon, of having that opinion, but be assured that if Administration has already made this decision, that accusation will be made.

If this is such a good idea, the next suggestion will be to distribute each grade to a different school. Just think of all the good that can be accomplished!

SkritchD said...

So leaving some of the APP grades behind at Lowell has nothing to do with sustaining higher MAP scores there, right?

Dorothy Neville said...

"That said, the Lowell situation was very predictable to parents on the ground. It was a fair surprise to folks downtown and this is mostly because of the late enrollment and the part where downtown rarely has the insights that parents on the scene do."

Yes, but Mr King discussed the potential dismantling of the Special Ed and preschool space in early April, before Spring Break. He was not surprised in late May. What's wrong with Tracy and Bob Vaughan that they didn't anticipate this issue earlier? Regardless, King did. Someone, somewhere made the decision to shrink preschool space, special ed space and physical therapy space. Someone thought it was fine for special needs and medically fragile preschoolers learning how to use the toilet to have to go up a flight of stairs and share a bathroom with an elementary school at about 130% of capacity. Someone thought it was a great idea for speech pathologists to get to work with kids in the halls, crowded loud halls. At the last minute, someone somewhere canceled that plan.

The question is, who made the decision, who knew about the decision and who changed their minds and came up with the new idea of moving 4/5th graders?

I have it on pretty good authority (but not first hand) that Pegi McEvoy was stunned to hear the parents speaking at the board meeting last week. Stunned. Why wasn't the head of Operations involved in the planning? Construction was slated to start this week or next.

The district cannot move APP 1-5 to Lincoln in 10 weeks because McDonald is still there.

dj said...

Could macdonald br moved to another location (JA?) and all of Lowell APP into Lincoln? Yes, yuck, but why should only APP have to deal with yuck?

Laura said...

Or, DJ, would McDonald be able to move into their permanent location earlier? Is the remodel on or ahead of schedule? They've been working hard on McDonald all year.

lendlees said...

There is plenty of room at Lincoln, even with McDonald there. The PTA and Mr. King and Ms. Geoghagen did a walk-through today.

Also, please remember that until APP moves to a permanent building/school, it is still part of Lowell. The PTA is made up of APP, ALO and Special Education parents and teachers and will continue to operate as a single PTA. APP is a program not a school.

Jan said...

Well -- what to say! I guess I am beyond relieved that they will not be trying to cram 700+ kids, including some of the most fragile Special Ed kids we have, all into Lowell. I wasn't so much worried about lawsuits (though I agree with the poster who saw some potential liability there, if someone wanted to be litigious). I was worried about fire (and any other emergency that might make them need to evacuate the building on short notice) and the incredible stress/harm that would result to the kids and the staff from being that overcrowded. These are little kids we are talking about. To shoehorn them in -- day after day after day -- with no one having room to think or turn around -- it is pretty alarmning.

At this point, it would seem like everyone's preferred solution would be to move ALL APP to Lincoln, while they figure out a "Plan B" for following years.
I guess my main question is: Does Lincoln have enough of the "right kind" of space for the McDonald K, and the McDonald and APP first, second, and third graders? This includes play space, first floor space (for grades that shouldn't be on upper floors), gym and library space, etc?

If so, it seems to me that this is Lowell APP's golden chance to get itself NORTH of the ship canal -- and they should take it and run with it. Once they are there -- and all those north end parents get to actually drop off and pick up their kids up north (and very close to Hamilton), it will be extremely hard for the District to argue somehow that they should move them all back SOUTH again. Possession being 9/10ths of the law -- I think Lowell APP should go "possess" the north end -- and dig in. In fact, it might be worth it to get a presence there, even if it is only 4th and 5th grade -- but I would feel much less certain that the Stanford folks, on the grounds of expense, wouldn't try to pull the 4th/5th graders back down again to central Seattle, if they still have the 1st through 3rd grades there.

cont'd.

Jan said...

cont'd

Frankly, I have been half expecting them to announce any number of ideas -- including possibly getting rid of the neighborhood ALO program, and sending those kids to Stevens and Madrona -- leaving the north end APP at Lowell. (This is bizarre on so many grounds -- first, it is unthinkable for the District to ever oust ANY program, regardless of size, longevity, or any other factor, in favor of APP, its most disfavored child. Second, how strange to send a neighborhood cohort further away -- only to preserve a program that, by all rights, ought to be somewhere north of the ship canal anyway? But, it seemed possible because ALL north end solutions are expensive, given how overcrowded virtually ALL north end schools are (or are projected to be).

So -- to move APP north permanently, which they should have done two years ago, if they were going to split the school anyway, they will HAVE to open another northend building (I guess, either Marshall or Wilson, both of which will be expensive and/or have problems (like Marshall's lack of playground space). Or, I guess they could just leave them at Lincoln permanently, but then Lincoln stops being available for a high school site or for an interim site (except for schools small enough to co-house on an interim basis with APP North at Lincoln). Given how tight money is -- I cannot think they want to do the right thing by APP and actually give it a northend home, so if APP wants to get itself to the north end -- the best thing to do would be to get there first, and then fight for space somewhere.

The "losers," I think are two: First, the ALO kids left at Lowell. They end up having a much smaller neighborhood school, maybe more dedicated than most to providing ALOs, but without whatever "boost" they may now get from association with/proximity to the APP cohort. On the other hand, as my assumption had been that the only other solution would have been to move the neighborhood program out altogether -- maybe this is the lesser of two evils.
2. The South APP walk zone kids who currently go to Lowell. I guess it seems to me that these kids now would go to TM, which will split them from their friends, etc. etc. -- all things that the TM APP kids had to go through years ago, but a hassle nonetheless. On the other hand, at least this way, they will be with the same kids (the WMS kids) they will go to middle school with -- which might be an offsetting benefit.

Sending ALL the 4th/5th grade kids (ALO and APP) to Lincoln -- when the ALO kids clearly live closer to Lowell (which now has room for them) and there is no long term solution that keeps the APP and ALO kids together, seems the strangest of all. The ALO kids would have to move again in a year -- to somewhere because there is no reason to think they will stay with the APP program kids when a permanent solution is found, this solution would split ALO siblings up, just like it splits APP sibs up, it would require transportation for a bunch of kids who otherwise live closer to their neighborhood school.

suep. said...

Two questions for Dorothy: This past year, Lincoln housed two schools - McDonald and Queen Anne Elementary. The year before that it housed all of Hamilton Middle School. McDonald is slated to stay at Lincoln one more year until its own bldg is ready. QAE is now moving out. Why are you saying north-end elementary APP couldn't share the large Lincoln high school bldg with McD for a year? My understanding is that there is indeed room.

Also, are you sure all construction at Lowell is being halted? Aren't the plans to replace the old boiler still moving ahead?

And yes, there will be a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday June 27 at Lincoln. All current and prospective Lowell APP families are urged to attend. We're getting the word out and plan to have a good turnout.

There's the opportunity here for the district to make a sensible and positive decision (move all north-end elem APP to the north-end, and make Lowell a safer, less crowded school), or a bad one (splinter Lowell APP for the second time in two years). Let's encourage the district to do the former.

Jan said...

Dorothy: even with McDonald there, there should be room. ALL of Garfield, Roosevelt, etc. have been there in years past. Even with both McD and Lowell APP there -- aren't we still talking less than 1,000 kids?

I guess I am not sure of how the actual space requirements might work (ideally, you want K, 1 and maybe even 2 kids on the ground floor, etc.). But if those issues can be resolved, there MUST be space.

Jan said...

As for the timing -- one problem this District has long had is that no one ever seems to be able to get out in front of problems in a meaningful way (see GHS enrollment LAST year -- they KNEW they had a huge problem -- and no one did anything. They didn't hire teachers, it seems as though they did nothing! -- until the first day of school). I don't know how much of this is incompetence, how much is fear of being the bringer of bad news (a form of bad management), and how much of it is just plain old vanilla bad management. But no one ever seems to be willing to do "worst case scenarios." They just "pretend" it will all be ok. Clearly, last fall when this situation started to present itself (Lowell ALREADY overcrowded), someone should have said -- gee, what if APP admissions grow to the point where Lowell cannot absorb them. What will we do? What is the plan? Had that been done, had those conversations been started, I think that the right people (Peg McEvoy, etc.) might have been pulled in much sooner. But it seems to me that all this has stayed in "enrollment" -- a department whose job is NOT program placement.

Mr. King cannot just take a part of his school and move it somewhere. Enrollment cannot do this. It requires operations, facilities, program placement -- a whole host of folks. Why are these people not talking to each other until so late in the game?

I will say this though. As bungly as this is going down, I don't place this one ALL at the feet of Dr. E (at least not yet). The seeds of this were sown in the school closure/original APP split mess of 2 years ago, and the GHS and Lowell crowding last fall were a clear warning bell -- but that was MGJ's watch.

But here is what IS Dr. E's (and the Board's) problem. This is a classic, textbook example of the kind of bad management that seems to reign at Stanford Center. How is she going to address the serious management problems (either structural or personnel) that allowed this to drag on so long? What will the Board do to ensure that their oversight of Dr. E results in the necessary changes (structural or personnel) so that we become a more proactive, responsible District?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Also Peter is right, the NSAP has increased enrollment but this is mostly seen in summer enrollment."

And, as I will state to Peter as well, you base this on what data? Cause if you tell me, "oh I heard it from a lot of parents", not going to fly.

And that's because Peter and the Board and the administration cannot have it both ways.

Either anecdotal evidence is worthy or it's not. Peter can't run his campaign on saying this stuff while not listening to parents when they tell him on-the-ground info and he shrugs and says,"Oh but I have no idea how many parents, where they got the info, etc."

So show me the data but otherwise, it's just speculation.

As for Lincoln, no APP of any size can stay there. Why? It's an interim site and I already know one new tenant coming in 2012. (Wait for my next thread.) It needs to stay an interim site because our district hates to build on-site and the next round of BEX is going to see either Whitman, Eckstein or Washington rebuilt. That'll be around 2014.

Jan said...

So -- here is what I think should happen long term (and I need a "magic checkbook" to make it happen, but oh well).

Move ALL Lowell APP to Lincoln (heck, if Hamilton is overcrowded, move the 6th grade there too).

Tear down and rebuild Wilson (saving the murals? :>)) Depending on how crowded people think Hamilton may get -- maybe make Wilson big enough to make north end APP a K - 8 school.

In 2 years, when Wilson is ready, move APP there.

Then, renovate Lincoln to be a comprehensive high school, relieving pressure on Roosevelt, Ballard, and maybe Garfield by redrawing attendance boundaries.

Then, renovate Marshall enough that it can be used as the "interim site" school for any future schools being remodeled.

I am not aware of any other north end schools that might be available -- or maybe I would have different ideas.

Jan said...

Melissa: if they needed to postpone one of the middle school rebuilds by a year so they would have time to demolish and rebuild Wilson as an APP site, would that be possible?

I am sure all three schools need the work, but at least they can house kids there -- the problem with APP is there is literally no room -- NO where those kids can go, unless the District builds them a space.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sure they could but you know what? They never listen to what parents want so what makes us think they would start now?

What is somewhat funny is that the district would like to control all this but see, because of this capacity issue, they can't. They almost have to take all ideas because they do have needs and something has to give.

Anonymous said...

DJ, if you're insinuating that McDonald parents haven't yet experienced "yuck," then please take the time to learn what we've been through this past year. As any of the 3 opening schools would likely agree, it's been a year full of whammies from the District. No small feat to start up a new school, with very little budget, in a temporary building, sharing the space with another start-up school, with our "exploration year" being mandated rather than discussed, among many other things.

The actual McDonald school is slated to be finished in April 2012, but realistically not until June 2012. it's no where near completed for fall move-in.

As to Lincoln - McDonald is now doubled and will occupy all the space that Queen Anne is departing, plus a few extra rooms. McDonald occupies the main floor and the lower /ground floor (called 1st and 2nd floors). McDonald has 175 students next year. Basically, the 3rd and 4th floors are available to Lowell, in the main wing of the building.
The south wing of the school, to the south of the main entrance, is used for night school, and is, apparently, quite dingy.
The north wing (main door and north) on bottom and main floor are occupied by McDonald.
There is a very small cafeteria which McDonald kids will fill with their two lunch periods. It can hold about 100 kids at a time max.
The playground is a joke with one play structure and not much running space.
But, as others note, larger schools have been there, so there must be space. It'll just take a lot of work over the next 2 months.
--McDonald parent

Voice of one said...

I understand the desire to keep the 1-5 cohort together, but not knowing what the future plans are, would you want the entire cohort disrupted for one year, only to be disrupted again a year later? Wouldn't it be best to cause the least amount of disruption as possible?

McDonald parent is right - there isn't much of an outdoor playspace. There's a small play structure in a sea of pavement. Parents may want to check out the space before they advocate moving their 1-3 kids there.

Anonymous said...

couldn't they just set up a few portables at Lowell to handle the higher capacity for the next year (or two) and use that time to come up with a long-term permanent solution?

-mmm

Anonymous said...
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GreyWatch said...

@ McDonald parent - I used to help out in the lunchroom last year when hamilton was at lincoln. There were at least 800 kids split between three lunches. Didn't seem crowded at any point.

play space could be an issue, but they have two gyms, so one could possibly be converted to an indoor play space.

Not sure how McD and QAE dealt with the bathrooms. Did they put in little toilets and low sinks?

If you don't sign, your post is deleted ;-) said...

Reposting Anon's
6/23/11 4:08 PM comment:

Temporarily moving the 4th and 5th graders to Lincoln is not a terrible idea in the short term. It is a band aid and sometimes you need a band aid solution while you work on the long term solution. There are no great options that I have seen. So far this one is the best, but I would maybe consider moving all of hte Lowell 4th and 5th graders and not just the APP 4th and 5th graders.

I do not believe that it is possible, at this point, to move the entire APP program anywhere as the next school year starts in just ten weeks and there is no money for such a large shift.

APP is important and it is just as important as the non APP programs are. Moving all APP students to another school so suddenly would be detrimental to the ALO students and families. If that is the goal then moving the 4th and 5th graders first will give the ALO families an opportunity to build up the PTA etc which is dominated right now by APP families.

Many families with an APP student are already split between schools and I don't think that ,if this is going to happen, it will be that terrible. My daughter is an APP fourth grader and honestly I would love to drive to Lincoln instead of all the way to Lowell. The different grades don't mingle that much and the classrooms don't rely too much on each others supplies or resources. I don't think that it would be terrible. It could actually improve the whole learning experience for them. I also love the idea of putting the 6th graders there too.

I don't believe that there are too many other APP parents that agree with me, but that is my two cents. Is there a petition to move forward with this plan or is anyone going to ask for input from anyone?

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea. How about we make the program that's supposed to be for the top 1%, actually be for the top 1%, instead of the top 5% or 10% and more. If the program were kept to the top 1% or even 2%, there would be no problem fitting into Lowell. When everybody with a private psych can "go to Lowell" for an exclusive education, then we see where that all ends up: Lowell with 700 students and growing. That is thing that was/is completely predictable. Better yet, split it up again. How about an APP in every buliding?

--parent

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the Spectrum program is being effectively weakened, if not outright dismantled, so those kids who do need more of a challenge are being funneled into APP.

What we need is a long term, coherent plan for all top performing kids. I agree that a separate APP magnet-style school is great for those 1-2% kids who thrive in a separate program. But we *also* need programs in every reference area, if not every school, for every kid that is ready and willing for advanced work. Right now we seem to be running away from that idea as fast as we can.

Observer

Anonymous said...

Parent at 10:09pm-

Can you please post name of the psychologist you are referring to?

Interested

Anonymous said...
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wsnorth said...

Jan - this just sums it up in sooooo many ways:

they KNEW they had a huge problem -- and no one did anything

(well, except some staff did something, they LIED to us when we voiced our concerns).

Is doing something better than nothing, then?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that as a staff member, I find out about this letter from Coogan and the meeting set for Monday only because it gets posted on the Lowell Link! I now see that Nancy Coogan wrote this letter to staff as well - but there is, as of right now, no email from her to staff about this. To clarify some things as well, the people who have been assisting us with where things can go, what new shelves they can installed, problem solving the changes in many spaces - and actually communicating with us to try and make the best of the news we WOULD have spaces moved, split up -- were as shocked yesterday as the staff at that 3:00 meeting Gregory called. We were almost all struggling to finsih,l too, as we had been told we had to be out of there at 4 pm. This moving crew didn't get any prior warning either. So, both the moving crew and the staff worked their tails off all day (and days before) trying to do all this, staff still struggling to even get the work done that is the typical part of ending each school year on top of this complete disruption and chaos. And, yes - it was announced by GK at the April 6th staff meeting that we would be getting these additonal students next fall. To tell the special ed. staff they needed to stay after this meeting and that it was their responsibility to come up with solutions as to how they were to cut space out of special ed. space to solve GK's "space problem" was attrocious. But - most of us there have been literally too afraid and intimidated to speak up. Lowell has been in a heck of a mess this entire year. This has become a place that literally makes people "sick" to work at- working so hard to maintain professionalism with parents - and most important, to continually try so hard to make sure that there was no negative impact on our students. To read posts from even a few who question what has gone on at Lowell all year is very upsetting to all of us who have had to endure the horrific treatment that has gone on all year. On-Staff

kellie said...

Mel,

"And, as I will state to Peter as well, you base this on what data? Cause if you tell me, "oh I heard it from a lot of parents", not going to fly."

You know I only base things on data. There is data that can show that the NSAP is contributing to the growth, over and above the population growth. This can be mostly seen in the changes to the cohort survival rate and this is most obvious at high school.

Under the choice system, the cohort survival rate declined. In other words, 12th grade was smaller than 9th grade. This was an artifact of the choice system where new families could not really enter schools that were already full. If you were new to Seattle or moved to a new part of town, you essentially got whatever seat was left over. This meant new families had to go to private or go to surrounding districts.

With the new geographic assignment plan, families can enter the public system at any time in the 12 month year, not just open enrollment. Therefore, there is some natural replacement for natural attrition.

For example, it wasn't the surprise increase in 9th grade enrollment or APP enrollment at Garfield that was a big problem. It was the greater than expected enrollment at 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade at Garfield that was the problem.

So the bottom line here is that Seattle schools has growth because of population growth AND assignment plan growth. Just what we need after removing all the capacity right?

So to loop this back to Lowell, there are two issues. Overall student growth, which means program growth AND lack of available space for any growth let alone specific program growth.

IMO, it is absolutely impossible for two guaranteed programs to share a building. you can't promise ONE building to TWO cohorts. Just talk to anyone that has siblings.

TiredInSeattle said...

The is the short-term issue here, but also the question of where this leads long-term.

In the short-term, it is clear that part or all of Lowell APP will be moving north. Most likely may be all of Lowell APP moving to Lincoln. But that is temporary.

In the long-term, what will happen? Space will be tight, so the most likely outcome is moving elementary out of its temporary location and into several others. That is another split. That will put elementary APP in three or even four locations.

Memories seem to be short, but this was the original plan first proposed in the APP split. Close Lowell, then split elementary APP across many other schools (and use APP children to raise test scores at those schools). It looks like that is the path we are on again.

Dorothy Neville said...

Suep, perhaps Lincoln is big enough, but for elementary logistics, I do not know. So that's perhaps not a stopping point. Someone from McDonald commented earlier that it might be an issue.

As for construction, I was talking just about the construction to reconfigure the special ed and physical therapy space into classrooms, not the boiler.

And I just got reminded of something that was pointed out at the board meeting that one of the new classrooms that was going to destroy Special Ed space was not for a homeroom, but for vocal music. So vocal music was going to get its own room and speech therapy was going to happen in the hall.

And I just got corroboration that this does seem to be something Gregory King cooked up, with the implicit support of Marni Campbell (because she did nothing to protest) and without the knowledge of Pegi McEvoy, who was shocked and upset to hear the speakers at the board meeting last week.

There also seems to be indications that these new walls were designed to be temporary, just for a year, just until APP moves out. So evidently, at least some people in the district already had plans to move APP from Lowell, it just wasn't expected to happen until 2012.

Anonymous said...

Good discussions in the Stranger.

Lowell Elementary Latest Casualty in Seattle Schools Overcrowding Dilemma

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/06/23/lowell-elementary-latest-casualty-in-seattle-schools-overcrowding-dilemma

Lowell parent

idealist said...

What a mess.
This may indeed be something that Greg King cooked up, but don't discount the contributions of the AP - Rina. She is well-known in another district (under another name) for some less-than-savory behavior and cannot be trusted. Anything told to her would most definitely go straight to the ears of GK, no matter what promises of privacy or discretion were made. Tread carefully there.

It is my hope that the interim supe will step up soon and put some of these speculations out into the open (yes, I can hope), even admit to errors made by the previous supe and the current board. Then engage the community and start making plans for Lowell - both short term and long term - so that teachers can focus on teaching and students can focus on learning.
-Idealist? perhaps

Steve said...

For all the Lowell parents attending the meeting on Monday (and I hope everyone shows up), I suggest the following:

1. If the District tries to do the "break into groups, discuss and report back" thing, we all refuse. One single open conversation is the only acceptable format for this meeting.

2. We don't leave without a firm commitment (dates, etc.) from the District for additional parent input into the decision for any temporary fix next year, *and* a long-term fix for the Lowell APP program. I don't believe that any decision can be made at this first meeting, no matter what the "crisis" is.

3. We don't leave without getting a commitment (again) from the District for an actual plan/strategy for the Advanced Learning programs (APP, Spectrum & ALO). Part of the APP problem at Lowell is being caused by problems with inconsistent/non-existent Spectrum and ALO programs. Advanced Learning is either a program or it isn't; it can no longer be a hodge-podge.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"We don't leave without getting a commitment (again) from the District for an actual plan/strategy for the Advanced Learning programs (APP, Spectrum & ALO). Part of the APP problem at Lowell is being caused by problems with inconsistent/non-existent Spectrum and ALO programs. Advanced Learning is either a program or it isn't; it can no longer be a hodge-podge."

YES.

Anonymous said...

I would love to know what the District and the School Board's long term vision is for the APP program. Because the current vision seems to be to help the district manage their capacity problems and to help draw families to previously less than desirable schools (TM & Hamilton). I've watched the newly graduated 8th graders from Hamilton go the 3 different schools in 3 years. We've watched the split of Lowell and Washington. The attempt to get families to move from Garfield to Ingraham. Not all of these changes are bad - but I'm getting very frustrated with the complete lack of a long term vision for APP and watching it instead be used to help solve whatever the latest capacity crisis is for the District. Jane

Bird said...
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Bird said...

I would love to know what the District and the School Board's long term vision...

I've been watching the district for about five years now and I can't say I've ever seen the district make programming based on a long term vision or a thoughtful rationale.

This is extends beyond APP. Look what's happened to BOC's in the district, Spectrum programs, language immersion programs and alternative programs.

As you've noted with APP, programming decisions are always based on one thing -- capacity. The district may say they have a vision, but they don't. Capacity drives all.

Look at the schools and programs and see where they will suffer from too many students, too few students or too highly fluctuating numbers of students, and then think how programming changes will mitigate that.

That'll be the long term plan whether the district knows it yet or not.

Charlie Mas said...

I think the District would like to have four elementary APP sites: Thurgood Marshall for South Seattle, Lowell for Central Seattle, a location in the north-end, and a location in West Seattle. I think they would like to open the north-end location next. If each school needs about 250 students to form the critical mass necessary to support a viable program, then they could almost form two from the current program at Lowell. That would take 250 students out of the building and fix the overcrowding there.

If they had a building in the north-end with 250 available seats, that would have been their proposal for fall 2012.

John Marshall is obvious to me, but what is the potential for a renovation and expansion at Pinehurst?

Anonymous said...

Any walk zone parents that would like to be included in an email discussion about these issues please send an email to me.

-robertnapppac@gmail.com

Ben said...

Having "APP in every building" means the end of APP. This is what SPS wants, and it'll get it sooner or later.

Picture what it would mean to have "APP" at every school. In each grade of every school, you'd have, what? Four, five kids working far ahead of their peers. And how would they be accommodated? They'd be given an extra worksheet every day (or something), while they spun their wheels in the back of the classroom. It would be impossible to meet their needs in a classroom designed for "regular" kids.

It's almost like what we need is a school dedicated to these kids, a school honored and respected by SPS, and not a school used as a pawn, or as a source of fundraising or test scores.

My Sky Falls Brightly said...

The APP community is vitally important to the collective success of Seattle Public Schools. Many families who'd otherwise be sending their children to private schools instead choose to send their children to Seattle Public Schools precisely because this program exists. This subset has the financial means to do so. Others do so because they strongly believe that schools should serve the needs of all children regardless of ability, but particularly because it is often those students at either end of the socio/academic spectrum who lose out the most. The benefits of the APP population are many. As a community of parents/caregivers when advocating for the many changes needed in the Seattle Public School system: level of advanced education; strong parent support within the schools; parents/caregivers working in fields which might directly affect issues of advocacy; economic and political clout; etc.

But I fear that the important resources you represent are also being somewhat squandered. And though many will be offend by this statement, I truly mean no offense. I am simply shedding light on a trend I've noticed here…the elephant in the room, perhaps.

As a teacher at Lowell, it is particularly heartwarming that so many are so very concerned (and active!) about the current state of things. I would, however, ask all visiting and commenting on this site not simply to consider one program over another. Rather, I ask you consider the countless ways in which SPS is failing the aggregate of ALL students. Not simply APP. Not simply SPED. Not simply Gen. Ed and/or ALO. When SPS does its perennial dance of idiocy, ALL students suffer.

They suffer because with each and every misguided, ill-informed or outright purposeful decision made by those in power, the reputation of the District and those of us who are served by or work within it suffer. With each misstep (either purposeful or directly resultant of its uniform incompetence) faith is eroded. This is precisely why those with the financial means are increasingly sending their children to private schools. This is why school levies will begin to fail. I mean, why continue pouring money into a system that so poorly manages its resources. And by resources I mean all resources.

I must then ask this of you all. Please, please advocate for ALL students. As a parent as well as a teacher I am profoundly sensitive to the 'but I'm talking about MY kid" argument. Truly…I understand this very, very well. However, we really ought to be talking about a larger issue here. I fight every single day of my life not simply for the needs of my own child, but everyone else's, too. It is, for me, not a choice; it is an ethical obligation to our citizenry. What we really ought to be discussing here are the consistent and countless ways the District fails to support its one and only obligation, its one reason for existing in the first place - serving and supporting the students of our region. Period.

So…I leave you to consider for just one tiny moment the following: given that the District proposes moving ONLY APP 4th and 5th graders to Lincoln, how would you feel if your child was in the 2 remaining 4th and 5th grade classrooms left behind? How might the focus of your argument change if YOUR child were left behind with no peer support? I know many disagree with the following statement, but please understand that all of the students currently at Lowell benefit from one another socially and academically. I see it every single day. So…what if the District was to leave one APP classroom behind without any other peers with which to interact? What might the trajectory of this discussion be then? How might this change the way you collectively fight for your child's education?

Your (APP parents/caregivers) strength is the power of your collective voice. Please be a voice for ALL students. Be a voice for positive change which results in a stronger educational system for ALL.

Thank you for your passion, dedication and efforts.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, My Sky, thank YOU for a brilliant view from the other side.

I try very hard to see the big picture because I learned long ago that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Anonymous said...

So might it not be worth considering the suggestion from redpuppyone on the Slog that SPS shift some of the Lowell APP to the Thurgood Marshall APP? No new school, no substantial loss of peers for the ALO 4th and 5th graders?

Dad Worried about Lowell

David said...

"Dad Worried about Lowell", Thurgood Marshall doesn't have enough capacity to take any significant number of APP students from Lowell, not without kicking out the general ed children there (which wouldn't be popular). So, that doesn't work as a solution.

dj said...

Dad worried about Lowell, Thurgood Marshall can take a few additional APP students, but not enough to fix the overcrowding problem at Lowell.

dj said...

My Sky Falls Brightly, what would you like the APP parents at Lowell to advocate for, specifically, with respect to the overcrowding issue?

Charlie Mas said...

In response to the question posed by My Sky Falls Brightly, if APP left Lowell, then it would be just like every other elementary school without an APP population.

There are about 90 of these schools, and they somehow manage to struggle on valiantly without APP support. I think that Lowell could do the same.

My Sky Falls Brightly said...

I'm sorry, Charlie. Please reread my post if you like for I never suggested that Gen. Ed/ALO couldn't "manage to struggle on valiantly" nor exist "without APP support." You missed the point completely.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's what I read:

"please advocate for ALL students"

Check!

"consider for just one tiny moment the following: given that the District proposes moving ONLY APP 4th and 5th graders to Lincoln, how would you feel if your child was in the 2 remaining 4th and 5th grade classrooms left behind? How might the focus of your argument change if YOUR child were left behind with no peer support?"

I would feel like it was just like any other elementary school without an APP cohort. The focus of my argument wouldn't change one whit because I wouldn't be counting on the APP classes for "peer support".

So what point of yours did I miss if it wasn't about how the relocation of the 4th and 5th grade APP students would affect the 4th and 5th grade students in the general education classes?

I'm not trying to be obtuse, but that's the point I got from your comment. Did I get the wrong one?

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of not following either. For what should we be advocating?

First MLK was closed and students moved to TTM, then TTM closed and students moved to Lowell. Would the 4th and 5th grade families want to move yet again? I certainly couldn't speak for them.

Ben said...

What I got out of My Sky's post was that APP families are opposed to the shift of APP 4th and 5th grades to Lincoln for the wrong reasons. They're SUPPOSED to oppose it because of how it would affect the kids left behind, not because of how it would affect the kids moved.

Hardly seems like we're working at cross purposes here. And while I think "advocating for ALL kids" is wonderful in theory, it falls apart in practice. I attend MY kid's PTA meetings (if I attend any), I donate to MY kid's school (if I can afford to donate at all), I keep up with what's going on in MY kid's classes. Isn't this what virtually ALL parents do? I barely have the time to keep up with the lives of my own family, let alone everyone else's.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think it's a matter of keeping up with other families per se. I think it's keeping up with the district because there is always a ripple effect (and people miss it every single time). So because Rainier Beach struggles, you think it doesn't affect the other high schools? It does.

I like to think that is one of the main reasons for the existence of this blog - to keep people informed about district-wide issues that could come home to roost. And hopefully, how you can advocate so that we have a great district for all students.

ArchStanton said...

@MySky: Your pleas sound like so much "Seattle Nice". Lots of "advocate for all" without any real ideas of how to make that work. Like others here, I would ask, "What specifically are you asking for?" "What would your vision of advocacy at Lowell look like?" Are you asking APP families to accept the proposed split, or not?

The problem with advocating for others beyond a show of support is that one group's "advocacy" may actually be, or at least be perceived to be, taking over another group and telling them what to do.

Has the ALO community at Lowell requested specific actions by the APP community? Have ALO parents expressed that they would like some part of APP to remain? Has the ALO community expressed support for the APP community, sent letters to the board, or signed the petition?

Part of the problem here is that the district in its usual divide and conquer style, doesn't give groups a chance to unite before pitting them against each other. How much does anyone expect the disparate parts of Lowell to take one for the team when they've only had two years together before the district starts jerking their chains again.

suep. said...

Re: My Sky --

Right now, the kids at Lowell who are being targeted by the district for upheaval are the APP kids. Half were kicked out of their school (Lowell-- and Washington) in 2009. Now the district is proposing to evict yet another group of APP kids from Lowell.

I -- and others on this blog -- have a pretty good track record of advocating for many kids, schools, programs and public ed in general. You can find my writing on the Seattle Ed 2010 blog, Huffington Post and Parents Across America blog.

I drafted the ESP Vision petition in 2008/09 opposing Goodloe-Johnson's Capacity Management Plan and all its ill-conceived school closures and splits. (Over 1,700 people district-wide saw even back then that closing and splitting schools was a mistake and signed the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/espvsn/petition.html)

But I am also the parent of kids in SPS whose schools and programs have been targeted, splintered and weakened multiple times by the district in the past 3 years alone.

So yes, I will advocate for my kids. Yes, they take priority in my life. Sure, I want the best for all kids in SPS and public ed in general, and I deplore the way the district creates so many zero-sum situations.

But I honestly believe that Lowell doesn't have to be one of those situations this time around.

The demographic evidence shows that more space is needed in the Central District for gen ed/ALO (why not add Spectrum to Lowell, btw?), so more space is needed in Lowell for the neighborhood kids. Any space created by moving ALL of Lowell's APP to the north-end, would be filled (to a more sane level) before long.

And as Charlie pointed out, most schools in SPS exist just fine without an APP population.

As for "floating all the boats" -- Melissa's point -- APP families have been regaled with this trope over and over again, especially when the district planned to evict all our kids from Lowell and send them to Thurgood and Hawthorne. While it may be pretty to think so, the fact is, at this point, most of the "boats" in SPS have holes in them, including APP's.

APP families can barely keep their own program afloat. How can they be expected to keep everyone else's boat afloat too?

Sorry but this is at least the fourth battle to preserve my children's school or program in three years that I have been engaged it. An argument can be made that APP is unfairly and repeatedly targeted by the district for upheaval and "capacity management" stopgap purposes.

In a better world, the three programs at Lowell could continue to coexist in the building as well as they have these past two years. But the reality is, there simply isn't enough room in the building for three programs to thrive.

So the Lowell APP community is offering to give up our school building and move to someplace where there is space (right now, Lincoln) -- but only as a whole, and not just the 4th and 5th grades. We do not want to be splintered again.

This is turn would allow the neighborhood children in Lowell's ALO program, and the kids from T.T. Minor (some whom the district evicted from MLK too) to not be uprooted again.

How is that not by at least some measures a win-win situation?

--sp.

seattle citizen said...

Charlie, you wrote:
"John Marshall is obvious to me, but what is the potential for a renovation and expansion at Pinehurst?"

John Marshall would be a great building to use (except for no elevator for students, and staff, who might need one; lack of a playground? Tear up tennis courts and south parking area, plant those in grass, park down street, field house with pool down street, lots of business/social stuff in the neighborhood...)
Marshall could be made usable (at least to a minimum) relatively cheaply.
But Pinehurst? Pinehurst is currently occupied, last I checked. Yes, AS1@Pinehurst is small, but that's a tiny building, if I remember right and one hopes AS1 can grow...if the district lets it...

Charlie Mas said...

seattle citizen, I was thinking more along the lines of what the potential was for a significant expansion of the Pinehurst building on the lot.

seattle citizen said...

Ah, gotcha, Charlie. But isn't that lot sort of small? Hmm...google mapping it, I see they do have some space...

I'm curious, tho', all this talk about rebuilding WP, adding on to Pinehurst...where's the money?

Log said...

Selling school bonds, maybe?

seattle citizen said...

Yes, I guess it would come under bonds or a levey, Log...Melissa has been following the BEXes (Bex I, Bex II, etc...) which are the building and maintenance accounts...Lord knows, I don't know where the money comes from for buildings...It just seems that times are tight.

Anonymous said...

MSFB: APP folks advocate for non APP groups every day.

This thread is about APP kids being moved again, so it doesn't mean they don't care about anyone else. I find that insulting, frankly.

Nobody has to tell me that the whole district is affected by bad decisions. I live in West Seattle. I see the havoc bad decisions wreak on my neighbors everyday, and I fought mightily to stop it.

It's depressing that many presume APP folks care only about themselves, but has any other program been put through what APP has been put through in the last 3 years? APP has no choice but to fight for itself. If it doesn't, who will? That this distracts and disables APP from advocating for non-APP programs for the time bing is not APP's fault.

What I'd like to know is when APP families will stop being taken for granted by SPS staff and teachers? Not all APP families us are rich, powerful and connected. We come from Lake City, Skyway, Rainier Beach, Delridge, and South Park too.

If I had a dime for every time I've been "profiled" by prejudiced SPS staff and teachers just because my kids are in APP, I'd be rich. Why is that okay? WSEADAWG

Charlie Mas said...

You know, it occurs to me that when the District goes to the voters with BEX IV, and asks for money to re-open schools because their enrollment has grown, the voters are likely to contrast that story with the District recent record of selling schools. Not only has the District just sold a lot of them (Allen, University Heights, Fauntleroy, MLK), they sold them all for significantly less than market value. That's going to make a pretty forceful argument against BEX IV.

Anonymous said...

But Charlie, you're missing the story.

The district's financial prowess and prudence demonstrated by selling those properties and closing schools so impressed the public, they are now choosing to send their kids to SPS.

What? Can't you connect the dots? Peter Maier can!

WSEADAWG

seattle citizen said...

And Charlie, look at the school the District rented part of the John Marshall building to...The school using L.Ron Hubbard's Study Technology...I wonder what the connection is between the Church of Scientology and this school, if any? If there IS a connection, I wonder if that would be seen as a mis-step by the district? I wonder if the district even knew this private school used L.Ron Hubbard's methods?

Stu said...

I wonder if the district even knew this private school used L.Ron Hubbard's methods?

I don't know, Seattle Citizen. Scientology . . . Discovery Math . . . they both require a leap of faith, don't they?

stu

Maureen said...

I hope that after the Monday meeting a representative of the Lowell PTSA will post here and let the rest of us know what the community sees as the best option for dealing with the over crowding at Lowell.

I hesitate, right now, to advocate for moving 1-5 APP to Lincoln because I don't know how much usable space is available there and also what the impact would be for the part of the community left at Lowell (if their numbers drop below 450 they will lose significant staff under the WSS).

If only a few grades can move to Lincoln in 2011, 4-5 makes sense to me because of the link with Hamilton and because the kids are bigger and so can use the Wallingford playfield more easily and might even benefit by sharing facilities with Hamilton (lab science maybe?).

I would like to see the District present a plan for APP and for Lowell that looks further into the future than Fall of 2011 and also takes into account the second and third order impacts (on Stevens, Montlake TMarshall, HIMs etc.)

suep. said...

Maureen -- First off, the Lowell PTA is opposed to splintering any of the programs in the school, and supports keeping Lowell APP intact. Because there is no room in the building for all three programs to thrive, moving out APP would solve the overcrowding.

Moving all of Lowell APP to Lincoln would accomplish two things: It would be a first step towards creating a true north-end location for elementary APP, and would free up space in Lowell for the neighborhood kids.

Stevens, Montlake, TOPS are all full. The closure of T.T. Minor left a community of Central District kids school-less. There is definitely a growing need for more elementary space in that part of town. Lowell can serve all of these kids.

I've spoken to parents whose kids have been at Lincoln this past year and others from Lowell who recently toured the building. They all say there is room for all of Lowell APP there.

I don't share your views, Maureen, that splintering two grades from my child's school off to Lincoln by themselves is in any way a good idea.

It would isolate those kids and their teaching staff, splinter the school community -- for the second time in two years -- and would amount to a bait and switch for all APP families who signed up for Lowell during open enrollment, believing their kids would be in one place in the program together, to name just a few problems with this proposal.

As for your idea of the 4th and 5th graders sharing Hamilton's facilities, you've got it the wrong way around. This past year, Hamilton kids have been going over to Lincoln to use its facilities (for music). Hamilton has capacity problems of its own and will be scrambling to find room for its own students.

I've also heard that using the Wallingford Playground, which is more or less across the street from Lincoln, hasn't really been an option for the kids at QA Elem. and McDonald. Perhaps there's a liability and supervision issue.

Do you have kids at Lowell?

Joanna said...

suep, Your statements regarding Lowell as a neighborhood school for the excess students in the region makes no sense. Lowell would be a neighborhood school for the Stevens area. I don't know where you live. Do you want to close Stevens?


Moving all of Lowell APP to Lincoln would accomplish two things: It would be a first step towards creating a true north-end location for elementary APP, and would free up space in Lowell for the neighborhood kids. Lowell is not a convenient nor accessible school for the TT Minor neighborhood. It is accessible for the Stevens Neighborhood. Where are you getting your ideas? Where is the community engagement here?

Stevens, Montlake, TOPS are all full. The closure of T.T. Minor left a community of Central District kids school-less. There is definitely a growing need for more elementary space in that part of town. Lowell can serve all of these kids.

Joanna said...

I need to try again as some of the suep's comments got mixed in with mine. suep, Your statements regarding Lowell as a neighborhood school for the excess students in the region makes no sense. Lowell would be a neighborhood school for the Stevens area. I don't know where you live. Do you want to close Stevens?

Lowell is not a convenient nor accessible school for the TT Minor neighborhood. It is accessible for the Stevens Neighborhood. Where are you getting your ideas? Where is the community engagement here? I am just amazed that you would propose such an idea for others as though those families ideas don't count.

TiredInSeattle said...

We are all caught up in the current crisis, but I urge everyone to think a bit ahead and look at where this all is going.

As Charlie said, we are headed toward elementary APP split across three or four locations.

Many APP parents are fine with further splits of elementary APP as long as at least one of the locations is in the north. Some parents might be fine with splitting into 3-4 elementary locations, including one in the north, but only if Lowell continues to be one of the locations. And, some APP parents might be wary of further splits and the shift to regional programs, preferring we move back toward one city-wide elementary APP program.

But the path we are on now is 3-4 regional elementary APP programs: one at Thurgood Marshall, probably two in the north, maybe one more in central or south, and nothing at Lowell.

Whichever of these options you might prefer, it would be a really good idea to be thinking about it now rather than just letting whatever happens to APP happen.

Anonymous said...

There has been limited community engagement as we just received this info Wed. (or Thurs. afternoon, officially).

The PTA has a clear preference to keep the Lowell cohort togther, but this does not mean that the entire community believes moving the 1-5 cohort is the best option at this time. We haven't been polled and there is certainly pressure to speak only in support of keeping the 1-5 cohort together.

How many have seen Lincoln and walked the halls or the playground? It seems unwise to blindly push for something until we have more details and have heard the District's short term and long term plans.

If the 1-5 cohort moved together, what staff stays at Lowell and what staff moves to Lincoln? Is there even room for recess with that many kids? What would the 1-3 kids be giving up by moving to Lincoln? If moving the entire cohort to Lincoln is not considered a possibility by the District, then what?

If the 4-5 grades were split, what about transportation (would they share the buses with Hamilton?), PCP (will the 4-5 kids still have art, music, PE?), start times, plans for the following year, etc?

Is it just for one year? Two years?

parent

Steve said...

Is the gym where the Monday meeting is taking place anywhere near where the Lowell kids might be moved? If so, I plan to look around a bit before the meeting. I've never been in the building, and it might help to see what the space is like and what the possibilities are.

Anonymous said...

Steve -

The 4th and 5th grade Lowell kids just had their instrumental music concert at Lincoln. It was in the auditorium - the same place that we are supposed to have the meeting. I was curious to see the building, but it was closed up. I don't know if they will let us in this week.

The playground is a concern. There is a small climber, but the climber area is much smaller than the climber area at Lowell. There is no field at Lincoln so all those kids who play kickball and soccer currently at Lowell, will have to find a new game to play at recess.

Little did I know when I was at the concert that I was potentially looking at my kid's school.

Another Lowell parent

Unknown said...

If all 467 APP students are removed from Lowell, there will be only 166 general education students and 34 special needs students left behind.

LaCrese Green said...

Overcrowding at Lowell has brought to the forefront again that the big bad wolf is at the Adm. building. It’s Them vs. We the People. Should this be? My concern is the destructive, counter-productive Big Bad Wolf!

Dealing with them as the underling, will cause them to continue to trample upon us as the case of closing schools, Denny/ Sealth, math, and a host of other issues.

Here’s our chance to turn the tide. How? Let all know: The buck stops here with We the People.

The discussion of what to do with the overcrowding and APP students has taken place on this blog. The pros and cons are on the table with input from teachers, parents, PTSA, and the entire spectrum of the public. Knowing the layout at Lincoln seems to be the only unresolved issue. Where do we go from here?

I say, further discussion is pointless. If after a tour of the building the majority still agree that: “All APP students move to Lincoln and fix up John Marshall as a permanent housing for those APP students.” Then present it as a unified front. Take control and present it as “This is the way it will be done.”

The crises we’re facing prohibits further negotiations, as well as, further delay.

If those who hold the power are not present Monday night, and I speak of the Sup and 7 board members, then stop the meeting until all show up. We do not deal with administrative staff because these 8 represent us and should be our only contact with the District. (Away with staff who attend as a sponge to gather data.)

Also, do not allow them to put us off by saying, “They’ll get back to us or they haft to discuss it further with someone else or they can’t make a decision outside the board meeting, etc., etc., etc..” The decision has already been made and insist they commit to getting on board with this plan and doing all in their power to help bring it to fruition.

If they whine no money, tell them We the People will renovate John Marshall. But before any cough up cash or time, remember. In the past, the Levy stated that certain schools would be fixed. In one case, none fixed except Garfield as a tourist attraction vs. a building conducive to learning. If they can lie about where the money will go, then there’s nothing stopping them from fixing John Marshall with BEX.

Serious consideration to this suggestion will be appreciated and if reasonable act accordingly.

LaCreseGreen@cs.com

Erica said...

I'd really like to know the answers to these questions:

What do people think is the optimal size for an APP elementary school cohort, what's the most number of students, what's the least?

For those eligible students who declined to join APP, have the parents been asked why they declined? How much does geography play a roll?

APP continues to grow, and APP should be accessible to every eligible child. Having more than one location does not diminish the program if each location has enough children to offer a strong community and a broad offering of options.

This discussion should be about a long-term plan to ensure that APP thrives, and the discussion should involve Thurgood Marshall parents as well.

Anonymous said...

Why go to the meeting with an all or nothing stance? We haven't yet heard the District's plans. And frankly, just putting your foot down does not mean you get your way.

We can't all be at Lowell next year. No solution be without sacrifice.

Which solution will be the easiest to implement in terms of getting classes ready for school in just a few short months? Which solution will provide the best overall environment for everyone involved? Which solution will be best long term? Not knowing what's on the table, it's hard to say.

Let's hope we have a discussion, not a standoff.

also a parent

Anonymous said...

Also a Parent -

I am confused. Don't we know what's on the table? The school district wants to move 4th and 5th grade APP to Lincoln. That is the plan they released. What's not known?

Yes, we don't know the plan after next year since the district has said the SBOC will go to Lincoln in 2012 and I am assuming the district will move North Elem APP out of the bldg by then.

Next year is a HUGE issue. The 4th/5th split would be a terrible idea for so many reasons.

Yet another Lowell parent

Unknown said...

I'm not familiar with Fremont, so it took me a while to catch on to the fact that Lincoln is adjacent to Hamilton Middle School. That fact makes it seem a much better idea to send the fourth and fifth graders there, it feels less like throwing them into the wilderness and more like an intermediate step to Middle School. It would not be hard to knit the 4th & 5th graders into the middle school APP community, which is after all their destination whether now or in two years.

If you move Lowell's entire elementary population, it means moving all of those kids again in the next couple of years, right? How is that better for the younger kids?

seattle citizen said...

I don't know if anyone has mentioned the short article in the Times about this move, but it's there. There aren't any comments on it; maybe somebody wants to get a word onto that forum...

Anonymous said...

Unknown,

4th and 5th APP at Lincoln will not be part of the Hamilton APP community since they will be in a different building. Even if the school is in the same area, when will they interact? They would have to walk several blocks to be in the same building.

Everyone,
Please go read comments left by parents who will be affected by this move.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Keep-Lowell-APP-Together-Fall-2011/

Lowell Parent

lil'dragon said...

Is there any way logistically we, as a community of concerned and outraged parents, rally together to help get John Marhsall ready for the fall? Is there and way to skip the step of sharing Lincoln with McDonald for a year and moving to a permanent 1-5 APP school? I am willing to do whatever I need to do to make this as smooth as possible for my daughter. We have just spent 3-4 months selling her on the idea of leaving most of her friends at her neighborhood school. She is just now getting excited and I feel the move is being made so much more difficult with all the mess. I want the cohort to be together for so many reasons, but I would also love to make it to these kids could have the least amount of upheaval and transition as possible. I feel confident in stating that most parents and friends in the community would be willing to work on weekends to get a building ready in order to help achieve this goal.

Anonymous said...

From the Seattle Times:

The district says it is studying a number of options, including moving fourth- and fifth-graders in the APP program to Lincoln School in Wallingford for the 2011-12 school year.

Moving 4th and 5th graders is the proposal shared with parents, but what other options are possible or being considered? Are some worse? Who knows? That's what I'm hoping to find out on Monday.

also a parent

seattle citizen said...

li'l dragon, Marshall shouldn't need too much to be habitable. It has been occupied by a couple of renters, so one would assume the mechanical systems are at least functioning at some level (I believe the district, as landlord, would have been responsible for this.)
The main things I can think of that it would need is furniture and some sort of food service area. There is no cafeteria, per se. The cafeteria space is still there (dual purpose, with a stage...and a very nice sound system unless it was removed...courtesy of the alt school), but the food preparation area, separated from the cafe/auditorium by a folding wall, has nothing left in it. The food prep stuff was removed years ago.

The district delivers meals now, from central location, but building would need the warmers, ovens, etc reinstalled and certified to whatever code pertains.

Furniture might be available through district warehouse?

Planning-wise, there is no elevator, so any child that needed one would be relegated to 1st floor unless other (legal) methods were available to move between floors. There are some classroom spaces on the first floor, approximately four (or five, or seven...if you count other areas that might serve as classrooms)

Second floor has about twelve classrooms or so, as does third. There was a science lab classroom (with shower, etc) on third floor, unless that equipment has been removed. There is a beautiful library on second floor, not big, but built-in shelves and woodwork...

Condition issues as of a few years ago: Overall, everything was okay. Floors good (not great, but good) classrooms tight, no leaks. Old big windows are great, but leaky of air and noise from freeway.

For a play area, if you could get a volunteer with a backhoe to tear out the tennis courts (city or district? don't know) and perhaps regrade the dirt parking lot on the southeast side, and get some soil donated to lay out some grass real quick...yesterday...you'd have a play area eventually. Otherwise, it's a walk to the lake...

If you move in, you have to maintain the cayman sculpture in front, it's getting overrun with weeds. The cayman was the mascot of the late John Marshall Alternative (a cayman was found in Greenlake years ago, and the students then made it their mascot)

Why Not Portables? said...

Lowell sits on a very large lot - with an enormous playfield. In that the district acknowledges that the 4th/5th to Lincoln plan is temporary, wouldn't portables on the Lowell grounds be a MUCH less disruptive temporary solution for next year?

What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

Lowell is not allowed to have portables. There are rules as to how much area is needed to have portables and Lowell doesn't have the space.

forever portableless

Stu said...

. There are rules as to how much area is needed to have portables and Lowell doesn't have the space.

There are also rules (laws!) about sprinkler systems and capacities . . . that hasn't stopped them from cramming more and more kids into the building!

stu

SeattleMom said...

By the way, the renters in the John Marshall Building (some of them preschools) have leases and you cannot just kick them out by the fall. I don't think people should consider the John Marshall Building as freely available to move APP or another program there anytime soon.

seattle citizen said...

Good point, SeattleMom, renters in Marshall have leases. I would imagine them to be relatively short, but who knows? I hadn't thought about that.
Still, it wouldn't hurt to gather info about these leases and get a ball rolling, if Marshall were to be considered as a site.

Stu said...

By the way, the renters in the John Marshall Building have leases

I don't remember the details but isn't there some sort of clause in school rentals that we can kick people out quickly if we need the building? (That's not meant to sound harsh . . . I just mean that I thought there was some legal thing in every public school building rental agreement.)

stu

GreyWatch said...

call me paranoid, but I see them pulling APP out of Hamilton in the next few years. The school is already full, and with a new school in the feeder (mcdonald) pattern and some big classes at JSIS coming through, they aren't all going to fit.

I guess they could pull out Laurelhurst and send them back to Eckstein if a new ms can free up capacity there. Still not sure that would do the trick.

As for connecting 4/5 APP Lincoln students with HIMS APP students, not sure how that would work. Not all APP kids have the same classes and schedules.

Anonymous said...

I share GreyWatch's concern - the 4th and 5th graders going through overcrowding at Lowell probably won't finish out their middle school years at Hamilton, let alone this year's incoming 6th graders.

Eckstein? It's also full.

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

call me paranoid, but I see them pulling APP out of Hamilton in the next few years

You're not paranoid . . . this district does not have much regard for programs in the schools.

There's a big difference between moving a school community and moving a program like APP. Since APP isn't an assignment thing, the district feels they can move it or split it and everyone will be just fine. As the number of students in the program grows, this district will do what it does best; it will look to split the program into more sites, diluting it, and negating what makes it so successful in the first place, the cohort.

The obvious thing to do with a successful program is nurture it, give it space to grow, reward those who've made it work so well. That's not a direction this district takes. They could move APP out of Hamilton but I would guess that they'd just split APP middle school again before they'd do that. I truly believe that it's their goal to have APP throughout the city . . . sort of a glorified, maybe with guaranteed seats, Spectrum.

If I recall, when elementary APP was all at Lowell, weren't the per-child costs actually pretty low, because of government subsidies and consolidation of offerings? I wonder how much that's changed now that they've split things around the city. (Meg?) (It would be great to offer the board a "by the way, did you know that it costs $xxxx more for each child when you split the cohort" argument)

Personally, I would like to see them move the entire Lowell cohort to Lincoln for a year or two before moving it into a more permanent space. Personally, I would like to see the ENTIRE elementary APP program move to Lincoln for a year or two but there's no way they're ever going to re-attach the program.

Lastly, a note about disruption and facilities. Of course it's disruptive to move students around year after year and it should generally be avoided. However, by moving the ENTIRE program, there's still some stability there. The staff and teachers, for the most part, remain the same; the grade to grade interaction and support remains the same; and there's a "we're all in the together" aspect that can have a positive spin. As for playground and gym and cafeteria space . . . this might sound harsh but they can "suck it up" for a year or two if it means future stability for the program. Countless other schools, with every grade level, have managed to use Lincoln; there's no reason APP can't succeed there.

Do not let them split the grades! It will destroy the program 'cause it's much easier to take something apart than it is to put it back together . . . and this district LOVES to take things apart. Remind them of their promises! Remind them that duplication of services -- more principals, librarians, staffing of the split program -- means MORE costs!

I can't be there tomorrow night but, agreeing with an earlier post, don't let them split you into smaller groups and don't leave without some sort of resolution!

stu

Melissa Westbrook said...

For those eligible students who declined to join APP, have the parents been asked why they declined?

They never ask parents ANY enrollment questions. Why are you leaving? Where do you think you might go? Why didn't you choose APP?

Yes, it would be useful info to have but it never happens.

"Which solution will be the easiest to implement in terms of getting classes ready for school in just a few short months?"

Ah, but that allows the district to continue to act in crisis mode.

This has GOT to stop.

We have got to stop living crisis to crisis with no long-term plan (or a vague one).

The district knew this was coming (or had an inkling). I don't think a standoff is a good idea but yes, I think as parents you have the right to stand up to the district and tell them to stop it.

And you definitely have the right to tell the Board incumbents to stop allowing the district to treat parents and students as chess pieces.

Again, put APP 1-8 (or 1-5) in their own building and stand back and watch what happens. All the teachers and principals and parents who have no taste for it - hey, out of sight, out of mind. Watch that building fill up in about 5 minutes. Watch it become one of the strongest schools in the district.

I repeat, other districts do not treat their advanced learners like this. Again, the culture at the district headquarters (and now that it's summer, deadquarters) needs to change.

That Dr. Enfield okayed raises at headquarters as she laid off school staff and now is willing to consider breaking up Lowell's APP (again) seems to indicate that she's is the change agent we might have hoped for.

Anonymous said...

Does pleading to keep the APP cohort together (temporarily) mean that it will stay together? If the entire APP cohort leaves Lowell it seems that it would make it even easier for the District to split it geographically in the near future.

Without a home in Lowell, the program could be easily split and sent anywhere once it's temporary move was over. How does moving as a cohort ensure future stability?

skeptical

Erica said...

For those people advocating putting all of APP back together under one roof, please think: there are over 800 APP kids grades 1-5 right now. That's a large number of children for one elementary school program. Large numbers are intimidating and depersonalizing for young kids, and difficult to organize as parents. With additional growth, add in middle school, the program would top 2000 in no time. There's not a single school or building in the district that can hold that many kids, and would you really want that?

Hopefully one or two people are thinking, no. Good. Than how many kids should be in an elementary school APP cohort? How do you divide the schools and geography to make that happen while allowing room for growth? And how do you create a transition that is the least possible stress and trauma for all involved?

The school board has been horrifyingly bad about ramming decisions down peoples' throats with no time to prepare and no solid plan for the future, but the problems are real and the opposite solution -- no splitting never no way! -- isn't necessarily the best for the kids, either.

Anonymous said...

-- no splitting never no way! -- isn't necessarily the best for the kids, either.

Agree.

What we really need to be advocating for is consistency within the program so when the inevitable split happens there's some strength to the program. What's concerning about future splintering of the program is that the content and delivery of the APP program is not yet clearly defined at each grade level. It seems to be a constant work in progress.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is a coincidence, but with the spectrum program being dismantled into an "ALO" style where kids are assigned here and there with pull outs or "differentiation", can't help but think dispersing APP ES cohorts into 4 or 6 locations follows similar formula. Program changes are announced with little input from the community, again following the SPS MO of community engagement.

The only advantage thus far for APP community has been cohesiveness and unity in purpose and voice. You would loose that (or dilute it) with dispersion.

-not surprised

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...inevitable split"

I'm sorry but didn't this already happen. You must mean more splitting.

I only advocate for all of APP to be together (maybe only 1-5) because maybe then they would be left alone to build a cohesive program.

Stu said...

I only advocate for all of APP to be together (maybe only 1-5) because maybe then they would be left alone to build a cohesive program.

Like they had before the split . . .

I realize the the APP community is growing and, as Erica said, perhaps 800 - 1000 elementary students in a single building might be a bit much. (Personally, I think that would be fine with proper staffing and facilities.) But, I advocate to one extreme because I believe the district is set on the other.

I believe this administration wants to spread APP around the district so that many buildings can benefit from the higher test scores. I believe this administration sees the road to success as teaching as close to the "middle" as possible and, therefore, would prefer to do away with as much special education as they can. They'll integrate APP into standard programs and they'll relegate the underperforming kids, and the poorest kids in the district, to TFA, at least until they can throw up charter schools in the south end. (Which will absolve them of the blame and the responsibility.)

The least of the evils, in my opinion, is a strong APP program in the North and the South. Lowell had 500 kids before the split and was so successful the district just had to break it up. (They couldn't take credit for the success, could they?) Now, with the new assignment plan and the bad economy, we've seen APP enrollment increase; it's time to solidify the cohort. Like I said before, it's much easier to take something apart than it is to put it back together again. If we allow the 4-5 grade kids to be syphoned off, even temporarily, it'll dilute the existing program (more than not having good facilities for a year or two) AND give the administration ammunition. How? That's easy. I assume, for different reasons than the district uses, that the APP students will continue to thrive; I don't believe the educational experience will be as good or strong if there's more splitting, but these are smart kids. If the district splits the program, they'll still be able to point to these kids and show that they're surviving. But I don't want our kids to survive; I want them to thrive. I don't think this board/superintendent understands the difference.

stu

Why not portables? said...

Responding to Anonymous who says "Lowell doesn't have space for portables." Can you explain how you figured that out?

Here's the
satellite view of Lowell.


The contiguous field to the North is a square city block - quite a bit more open space than the footprint of the current school building, actually. Again, why not portables as a cheaper and less disruptive *temporary* alternative?

In the past, Lincoln has served as a home for schools that could no longer use their *entire building*. Just as often in the past, haven't schools that are outgrowing their buildings relied on portables as a means of getting by until a plan (a real plan, with more than 2 days notice for parent input!) can be developed?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, to answer your earlier question about why APP designated kids choose to not partipate in APP. Our family is such a family and we chose to stick with our neighborhood school w/ a Spectrum program v. sending our children to Lowell. Less time on the bus, allowed us to volunteer more/pop up for lunch, kept the kids w/ their neighborhood friends among other things factored into this decision. We were happy w/ that decision until our school (Lawton) altered Spectrum so that it's not really Spectrum, making us question the rigor and whether their academic needs would be met.

I know of several families who have opted to move their APP kids designated kids to Lowell next year b/c of the dissolution of the Spectrum program. 7-8 kids isn't too many but as Spectrum falls victim to cluster grouping, I think you can expect more families to put their APP kids (previously well served in their Spectrum neighborhood schools) to opt into APP. Wedgewood families didn't find out til after open enrollment so that move isn't an option for this year, but could be for next ??

It's not unreasonable to expect other Spectrum programs to change to cluster grouping - so I'd expect more moves resulting from the dismantling of Spectrum.

Good luck Lowell. I wish for all our kids' sake that Advanced Learning was something that was valued and fostered by the SPS. It looks less and less like that every day.

--cluster grouping skeptic

Anonymous said...

Unless they are planning on closing Lowell completely moving the entire APP out of Lowell can't happen by September. The majority of the neighborhood kids who would have/should have gone to Lowell have already opted out to other schools becuase Lowell is so crowded. It will not be possible to fill the school to even 1/3 capaciity before the school year.
And then what happens to Lowell Annual Fund? The entire school raised that money, not just the APP classes. Would we be taking the Annual Fund to Lincoln with us and leaving the remaining 150 students (probably less as I know that in Mrs. McDonald's class alone there are 7 students who have chosen to not return to Lowell). Although my child is an APP student and I don't want her to be relocated, I also am very concerned about all of students at Lowell. I cannot support anything that will put the remaining children in peril either.
My daughter is friends with with children in other grades and other programs and she feels that there is one student body at Lowell and not simply three separate programs.
As an emergency solution, I don't think that the 4th and 5th grade move to Lincoln is so bad. Everyone in my family would love the much shorter commute as well. I think that they should take all 4th and 5th graders to Lincoln so that all of hte Lowell 4th and 5th graders can stay together as they are ALL Lowell students and they are all in the same situation the same things. I love that Lincoln is so close to Hamilton.
I am an APP parent and so far (although I would love to know what other options they are considering) moving the 4th and 5th grades to Lincoln is the best emergency solution I have heard.

Anonymous said...

Unless they are planning on closing Lowell completely moving the entire APP out of Lowell can't happen by September. The majority of the neighborhood kids who would have/should have gone to Lowell have already opted out to other schools becuase Lowell is so crowded. It will not be possible to fill the school to even 1/3 capaciity before the school year.
And then what happens to Lowell Annual Fund? The entire school raised that money, not just the APP classes. Would we be taking the Annual Fund to Lincoln with us and leaving the remaining 150 students (probably less as I know that in Mrs. McDonald's class alone there are 7 students who have chosen to not return to Lowell). Although my child is an APP student and I don't want her to be relocated, I also am very concerned about all of students at Lowell. I cannot support anything that will put the remaining children in peril either.
My daughter is friends with with children in other grades and other programs and she feels that there is one student body at Lowell and not simply three separate programs.
As an emergency solution, I don't think that the 4th and 5th grade move to Lincoln is so bad. Everyone in my family would love the much shorter commute as well. I think that they should take all 4th and 5th graders to Lincoln so that all of hte Lowell 4th and 5th graders can stay together as they are ALL Lowell students and they are all in the same situation the same things. I love that Lincoln is so close to Hamilton.
I am an APP parent and so far (although I would love to know what other options they are considering) moving the 4th and 5th grades to Lincoln is the best emergency solution I have heard.

ArchStanton said...

So; here's a crazy idea:

Given that some people don't think splitting off a chunk of Lowell APP to Lincoln is all bad - some might even like the idea because it meets their families' needs or because it doesn't take all of APP from Lowell leaving ALO & SpecEd to fend for themselves...

Why not follow the Ingraham example? Create a 1-5 APP at Lincoln and make it an option. Find out if "if you build it, they will come" holds any water.

It would set SPS for three elementary APP campuses: a true north site, central and south (which seems to be where we are headed anyway), it would keep a 1-5 cohort at each location, would allow families to keep siblings together, and would provide families some measure of choice in the matter (e.g. a north family with children in K/ALO and APP could choose to keep them together at Lowell).

It also sets up a 1-5 APP that's ready to move whenever they finally create a location to house them.

I'm not sure if I'm endorsing this, but it seems preferable to the current proposal.

Stu said...

First, the idea of an "optional" 1-5 split:

The problem with this idea, in my opinion, is that it dilutes the program again by splitting it into thirds. In addition, since you're now adding the third program, there's additional staffing involved, which costs money, which we only have if the district wants to give raises to administration. Lastly, it gives the district ammunition, as if they needed it, by allowing them to say "see, the APP community doesn't mind splitting the program some more so let's split it some more!"

Next - the moving of the entire cohort leaving too few kids at Lowell: I don't mean this to sound abrupt but, so what? So, EVERYONE would have to make some sacrifices for a year or two? I don't think that's so bad. And 150 - 200 kids in Lowell? Maybe some smaller class sizes, all-school assemblies, one lunch period, and some personalized attention, would be good for the general ed population. Maybe NOT having a building filled to the rafters would allow the special ed kids some breathing room. If nothing else, they wouldn't have to do speech therapy in the halls. Again, it's only for one year 'cause, once word gets out there's lots of room at Lowell, people will come.

Next - funding: Divide the amount of money by the number of enrolled students and the per-student amount goes where the student goes.

Lastly, to "cluster grouping" who wrote about Spectrum:

I don't know how to go about doing this, but couldn't a group of Wedgewood Spectrum parents challenge/petition the school board for permission to move App-qualified students into the program because the program for which they originally signed up is not being offered? This was extreme "bait and switch" but I would think that, in an election year, perhaps a case could be made for some movement in light of the unusual circumstances. The Seattle Times seems to be slowly warming to the idea they can actually criticize the district; perhaps a whole lot of angry letters about "eliminating a program AFTER enrollment closed" could get some attention?

stu

lil'dragon said...

I have to say that I agree with Stu's latest post. Would it really be a bad thing for Lowell to have a small student body for one year? I really hope that us parents can stick together and not start a battle going between APP vs. ALO/ general/special ed. It is a bad thing to split the APP cohort, it is not bad to have a small neighborhood school for 1 year.Like someone said, once word gets out that Lowell has room, people will come.

One thing I have been wondering about... if the education gods are smiling and we find a solution where 1st-5th move together, what happens with art, music, p.e.? I am assuming all those teachers and programs that we saw when we toured Lowell would stay at Lowell. Would they be offered to the cohort at Lincoln or wherever? Just wondering how that would work.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with Stu. It's not like we have a long-standing relationship with the general ed. kids. Remember the district just created this school two years ago. The neighborhood needs the space and the school should fill back up quickly.

I do believe it's a shame to separate the APP kids from the special ed population. My daughter always liked the opportunities she had to spend time in their classroom. Hopefully, the relationships between the programs can continue in the future.

Splitting up the PTA money in a per student way seems like a fair solution.

Lowell parent

Anonymous said...

Since the APP and general ed programs and faculties were distinct, I don't think Lowell will end up with smaller classes after APP leaves. If one of the general Ed teachers was going to have 28 students in the fall, all 28 of them will probably still show up and be crammed into one classroom.

I wonder, though, if the district would give fewer support staff to the school since it would be much smaller.

Susan said...

Many interesting and eloquently worded concerns and solutions are noted here. I truly hope all of you will take the time to attend Monday's meeting and let the District know how we feel. Strength in numbers, right? Is there a way to get more press/PR around Monday's meeting? The problems and solutions to overcrowding and lack of capacity are not limited to Lowell; and the issues surrounding Advanced Learning are not limited to the current APP students. Right?

Record the Meeting? said...

Given such short notice, my family may not be able to attend the Monday meeting. Would anyone be willing to record it and post it on YouTube?

Fremont Mama said...

McDonald have music/art/P.E. teachers, right? If those Lowell teachers end up staying at Lowell and APP 1-5 goes to Lincoln would it be possible for the two elementaries to share those teachers for a year? Were Queen Anne and McDonald sharing any teachers?

Susanne

blank said...

Record the meeting,

Would anyone be willing to record it and post it on YouTube?

Videoing the presenters is probably not a problem, but at events that I've attended where the general public is asking questions and such, signed video releases are often required. I don't know the specifics, but I would not assume that everyone is okay with being put on YouTube.

Not to mention, afaik YT is limited to 10 minute videos, so it would need to be split into a whole bunch of separate uploads.

Let's hope for a great recap of the meeting here.

Anonymous said...

I have two children who have tested into APP, and I just wanted to answer the question Melissa posted: why I decided to keep my children at their current schools. It was a difficult decision, as I liked several things about the program at Lowell very much, especially the friendship groups that the counsellor offers. My children are very much like how some APP children have been described on this blog: very intense, interested in things that are too old for their age, a bit at sea socially with their typically developing peers. However, we decided that it was more important for them to learn to be with these other children, as that is what most of the people will be like when they grow up. I entered the Early Entrance program at the UW after junior high; and was woefully naive when I first entered the work force. There were much knowledge and many skills that others learned in high school, that I did not learn until after college when I started working, since I was always in classes with others "just like me". So, I am not in favor of having the APP program in a separate school. We are just a few blocks away from Hamilton, so I had planned to send my children there for the APP program; but if by that time, APP is at its own school, separated from any other program(s), then we probably will choose not to go into APP. Students in the Early Entrance Program at the UW still get to take classes with kids not in their program; so if my children were not challenged enough in middle or high school, they can go to the UW instead.

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve said...

Hi Ed. The Lowell PTA hasn't come out one way or another on this issue, and have been struggling with all the news/possibilities as we all have. It's fresh cement, and no one is pro or anti anything. Please show up at the Monday meeting with your ideas and an open mind.

Not to say that the district hasn't screwed up, but if that is the focus of the meeting, we won't get anything done.

My hoped for outcomes for the meeting:


1.  Clear sense of what the District is proposing as options for the immediate future (next year), why they have dismissed other options, and daylighting of any new options that the district hasn't considered.

2.  Clear process for how a decision will be made for next year in light of what we know at the end of this meeting.  Again, no decision can be made at or from the feedback provided at this meeting.  But, we must get a clear sense of how the decision will be made, who will provide input, how it will be communicated, etc.

3.  Clear process for the longer-term plan for APP, after we get over the "crisis" of this coming year.  We need a commitment about the process for determining where Lowell APP lands after this next year.

4.  Commitment to the long-term plan/strategy for APP, Spectrum and ALO (all of advanced learning).  If we don't fix all of Advanced Learning, I don't think anything works.  People with APP-eligible kids who might be content with strong ALO/Spectrum programs in their neighborhood schools will opt for APP if their needs aren't being met.  We can't plan if we have this constant influx/outflux of kids in this one program.

5.  Finally, I hope we all (district, board, parents) start to feel a strong mutual commitment to APP and Advanced Learning as a strength of Seattle Schools.  Not a program that can be messed with or taken for granted, but something that should be nurtured and grown.

Anonymous said...

There's another petition calling for not moving APP until there's "a fully funded and credible plan" to make sure Lowell is left on a solid footing:

http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/Lowelldragons

- another concerned parent

Bird said...

It is a bad thing to split the APP cohort, it is not bad to have a small neighborhood school for 1 year.

You know the more I think about it the more I think this whole move 1/2 APP thing is purely motiviated by not leaving Lowell half full, even for year.

The district found Lowell was over full and thought, "Hey, McDonald is now only half full, if we put half of APP there then the McDonald building is full and the Lowell buildling is full. Hooray!"
Then they get their money's worth from librarians and specialists.

As always they figure that APP folks will take whatever you give them, so why not use them to plug some gaps in capacity. The district does this with programs all the time, not just APP.

I realize something must be done for APP, but the district really needs to pull it together and do the right thing for these kids and not just the expedient thing for capacity planning.

Anonymous said...

It is a problem to have a school less than half full for a year, a big problem.

First, there are 166 general education students, but how many of those are APP siblings that would seek to transfer to their neighborhood schools if APP leaves?

Second, I personally chose Lowell because of the broad offerings in before and after school activities, there won't be enough kids to continue those programs, and I haven't had time to try to assess what else we might lose. It matters to funding, and the economy of scale makes a difference, too.

Third, one summer is not enough time to build a school community from the ground up. Someone mentioned Sand Point, but those parents knew well in advance, wanted the school and had plenty of time to organize. Many general education parents don't even know this is going on, because none of the email send out indicated the numbers involved.

Fourth, trying to get families who are currently expecting to go to Stevens, the nearest school, to accept reassignment to Lowell once Lowell has imploded like this is going to be a whole new war.

These are just the problems, but there are also many positives to having a diverse set of programs within the school. Sure, if you all insist on leaving we will either figure out how to rebuild a school community without you or start planning our exit strategies. Personally, I'd like to see you stay. My kids would certainly lose friends if APP moves, and they lose the exposure to different kinds of people that I think helps them prepare for the world.

Anonymous said...

Splitting the cohort and siblings stinks. Yet so does pulling the younger APP kids from Lowell only to make them move again a year later. Physically, Lowell is a better environment for elementary kids than Lincoln.

In my mind, the thought of the North APP being in limbo with no permanent home is more unsettling than a one-year split. Even more unsettling is the thought of over 700 students at Lowell.

It's sad that the district's poor planning has led us here.

another tired parent

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to a different petition for parents who are reluctancly and cautiously not objecting to moving the APP 4th and 5th grades to Lincoln. http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/Lowelldragons/
Please follow the link and sign the petition if you agree with it. If you are not in favor of immediately ripping the entire APP program from Lowell and instead are in favor of a more thoughtful approach that allows for more and better planning for all of the affected students.
I absolutely agree that this situation has put ALL of us in a serious pickle. I also agree that it is a disgrace that this was announced (decided?) after school was finished for the year. I also agree that this has been handled terribly. Having said that I do think that there is another way to approach the situtation than storming the Lincoln Auditorium with this take no prisoners attitude. This approach involves less planning and less thoughtfullness than the district's plan and will put our children and their education in a worse situtation in the long run.

Anonymous said...

A very good post from another threat posted by Lori.....

Thanks, WSEADAWG, for your wonderful post describing the social and emotional needs of a lot of APP kids. As the parent of one of those "complicated, bright, but chock full of issues" kids, I totally get it, and while I try to explain it myself on this blog from time to time, you've written a far better post that I ever have!

The potential Lowell split angers me precisely because I understand that the program is not just about academics. Elementary school is a critical time in a child's life to learn how to make friends, how to interact in groups, and how to exert influence and practice leadership skills. If you don't have a relevant peer group, you can practice none of these things.

I watched this happen with our child at our neighborhood school for an entire year, and when no one wanted to play the games she suggested at recess and no one laughed at her jokes or invited her to birthday parties, she eventually gave up even trying to fit in, and became sullen, sad, and lonely, and she didn't have the knowledge or experience to understand why life was so dang hard and frustrating.

Now, at Lowell, she has found her tribe, and she finally gets to be a normal kid, suggesting games at recess that others do in fact want to play, taking her ideas to the Student Council and leading an initiative for something she's passionate about. It's absolutely amazing to see the transformation that's occurred, and it's not just due to her grade level peers but rather to the exposure to like-minded kids of all ages, particularly the older kids that serve as mentors and inspire her.

The last day of school, she couldn't wait to go thru the Lowell year book with me, pointing out kids from each grade level that she knows and interacts with. I won't bore you with any more personal stories, but I have no doubt that splitting up the grades would truly diminish the school experience for all of the kids. The cohort needs to be sufficiently large to allow all of the kids to work on their social skills in the optimal environment; elementary APP should have as many kids in it as any other elementary school does, and the grade levels need to be together. Socially isolating just a few classes at a separate location is actually offensive to me and shows that the district just doesn't understand this program.

......
Lowell Parent

seattle citizen said...

SPS parent,
Part I:
I appreciate your thoughtful description of why you enrolled your two children who had tested into APP into Hamilton, instead.

I am not a direct APP stakeholder, but have been following the APP saga and other related issues in SPS for quite some time. Those who have read my comments perhaps understand that I am generally a support of the idea of APP, that some students are shown by tests to quite bright, and a cohort model supports their learning.

But one part of your comment struck me, as similar comments I have read here likewise strike me:

Your children are "like how some APP children have been described on this blog: very intense, interested in things that are too old for their age, a bit at sea socially with their typically developing peers. However, we decided that it was more important for them to learn to be with these other children"

I am always sruck by the word "other." It is a major theme in young adult literature, a major theme in life (celebrated by artists, other media and advertisers alike), certainly a major theme in America, with it's diversity, and a theme that is a constant, seemingly, in discussions about APP. One group is APP, the "other" group is not. This otherness, in my opinion, is divisive and leads to unnecessary friction between the APP program and the "general ed" programs.

"These other children" are not some group. They, like your children, are so, so much more complicated (they're similar in their uniqueness: That's about it) than merely the designations "APP" and "Non-APP"

The part that strikes me are your three descriptors: "very intense, interested in things that are too old for their age, a bit at sea socially with their typically developing peers." As you write, there are others on this thread who decribe similar attributes.
(to be continued)

seattle citizen said...

Part II:

I would respectfully posit that these three descriptors can be applied to just about every child in America. In a previous comment, the idea that kids might be interested in things that "are too old for their age" was supported by an example about how a child was interested in global issues. Aren't most kids interested in global issues (though perhaps having an uncommunicated interest)? Aren't most kids socially at sea? And intense? Fuggetaboutit, that describes all sorts of kids...

My point, if I have one, is that I've seen over the years a back-and-forth tug of war between APP and gen ed. It's my belief that this idea that they ARE separate groups, the "others," leads to bickering, a sort of jealousy, ostracism perhaps(of group and student)...

I don't have any answers. As we see in these 180 or so comments, there are lots of good suggestions as to how to support APP. Not so many about the gen ed populations into which APP fits. All I"m suggesting is that most students are intense, old souls at sea and it might be damaging to APP, inflammatory towards those students and taxpayers in the overarching gen ed programs, to suggest APP students are "different" because of traits that every student has.

Bright? No doubt. But more intense? more old soul-ey? more asea with their doubts...more aware of global issues?

Remember the brightness: APP students might KNOW more about their world, but this certainly doesn't mean others aren't INTERESTED - most gen ed parent/guardians would love to see their kids' concerns and questions about the world addressed at the higher APP level; that perhaps they don't see that happening just irritates them.

Your choice to enroll your students at Hamilton seems to recognize this need to avoid "the other," as you indicate yourself: A need to master the social skills, to interact with the incredibly diverse range of kids out in the world...This is commendable and to be supported. I suggest that APP parent/guardians never, ever doubt the intensity, the wisdom, the craving for global connection, the lostness of other students. All kids express these things in different ways, at different levels, and with different sorts of background knowledge.
I've heard of many academically struggling students whose hearts are deep, wise and only looking for opportunity to connect. Just like students that find themselves "ahead."

Unknown said...

Lori,

As a general ed parent, I'd like to say that I understand how heart-wrenching your experience at your previous school was, but Lowell is not that way and that is exactly why I think Lowell is such a special place.

My kids have more social skills than academic skills, and they play very well with APP kids. They interact with kids in other grades as well, on the playground and during after school activities, and I would not be at all surprised if one of those kids your daughter pointed out in her yearbook were one of mine.

I have always stressed inclusiveness to my children, and I want them growing up around different kinds of kids and learning to care for them even when they don't always understand them. From what I've seen, most general education parents at Lowell are similar in that regard.

Anonymous said...

Lori,

As a general ed parent, I'd like to say that I understand how heart-wrenching your experience at your previous school was, but Lowell is not that way and that is exactly why I think Lowell is such a special place.

My kids have more social skills than academic skills, and they play very well with APP kids. They interact with kids in other grades as well, on the playground and during after school activities, and I would not be at all surprised if one of those kids your daughter pointed out in her yearbook were one of mine.

I have always stressed inclusiveness to my children, and I want them growing up around different kinds of kids and learning to care for them even when they don't always understand them. From what I've seen, most general education parents at Lowell are similar in that regard.

Stu said...

I'm concerned by the last couple of posts 'cause, while they are accurate and heartfelt, I don't feel that they're addressing the main issue here.

As an APP parent, I have nothing against any "other" student in the system and I think I resent being considered "exclusionary." Our son has APP and non-APP friends, friends in private schools, friends in neighborhood schools, and interacts with everyone. Diversity is a good thing and I don't think many of us are arguing otherwise. HOWEVER,the issue right now is that SPS wants to split a program in half. Not just move half of the kids to another building, actually dismantle an ongoing cohort by taking two of the grades away.

As a first, second, third grader at Lowell, my son looked up to the 4th and, especially, 5th graders. They lead the student councils and guided him through being an active member of the Lowell community. He adored a 4th grade "mediator" and joined the program because of her example. Removing the 4th and 5th graders from Lowell is not just a disruption to the school, it changes the concept of the APP cohort and makes the "north" experience significantly different than the program at TM.

Now, please notice that nothing I said excludes or criticizes or diminishes or puts down the general education community or the special ed community or Nova or AS1 or the "Lowell" cohort. Non-APP students are leaders, they are followers, they are individuals, they are all special . . .but that's not what this is about. Talking positive about one community does not have to diminish another. If I say my postman is great, it does not mean your postman isn't, and I'm starting to resent constantly -- and I mean for years now -- being put in a position of having to defend advocating for my son's education.

APP elementary is a 1-5 cohort program and has thrived in the system. (Again,notice I didn't say that ALO/Gen Ed/Spec Ed don't thrive . . . not talking about anyone else at the moment!) It was bad enough they felt it was necessary to split the original cohort but this particular split changes the nature of the education experience and moves the district one step closer to dispersing APP throughout the neighborhoods.

Continuity is important in education and that can mean building AND it can mean cohort AND it can mean neighborhood AND it can mean teachers.

Forgive me but, for now, I'm advocating for a particular program within the Seattle School District, one that's been dumped on for years. That doesn't mean I don't advocate for self-contained Spectrum in every cluster, or better Special Ed programs, or ALO, or anything else. It only means that tonight, just for a night, I'd like to see the district do something positive for APP and keep the elementary kids together while they come up with a long-term solution. Then, perhaps tomorrow, we can go back to fighting for every other program they're destroying!

stu

Anonymous said...

Stu,

I think we were addressing specific concerns that parents had mentioned, not trying to answer every argument anyone has raised. Of course I think you should advocate for your child in the way you think is best. I believe I am advocating for both APP and general education, and I am trying to reassure people that Lowell can still be a good place for your kids no matter what, because we have no idea right now what SPS will decide to do.

seattle citizen said...

Stu, my comments were addressing the danger of overstating APP students' qualities, risking the alienation of non-APP parents/guardians (and students, perhaps).
I personally agree that the cohort model is a good one for APP< and that necessitates, to me, a K-8 cohort (or, perhaps, two elementaries feeding two middles...)
While APP students have tested in, and have some very high abilities, I just don't think they're more "intense" or "at sea" than other students, or more interested in global goings-on. To say or imply that they are is divisive. I don't mean it in a mean way, but as a suggestion.

Lori said...

but seattle citizen, when people apply those terms to their own children, I don't think it's fair for you or anyone else to accuse them of being divisive.

The poster you responded to used those terms to describe her kids; are you saying that she is not a good enough judge to know whether her own children have intellectual and sensitivity issues that are outside the statistical norm?

Of course every child is unique and presents his or her parents with unique child-rearing challenges. But there is an entire body of literature about the constellation of traits and temperaments that are prevalent among children with IQs that are 2-3 standard deviations from the norm. Are we not allowed to discuss those things here? Are we supposed to act like the child who is experiencing clinically sigificant anxiety and depression as a result of extreme sensitivity and existential worries is just being a typical kid? I don't think so, and this is the sort of stuff that the gifted education literature describes for these kids.

Most things in life occur along a continuum, and sensitivity is no different. Yes, all kids can be sensitive. But what a lot of us are talking about is sensititivty so extreme that it interferes with normal life and doing regular kid things. I don't see how I'm being divisive if I talk on a blog about these issues. If anything, it seems clear that we need to talk about these things precisely because a lot of people don't understand.

Jan said...

I think that APP needs to create the expectation in the district that they need to be "together" - not split endlessly into smaller and smaller groups. I believe that if the split happens, it will result in a permanent split into (at least) 3 APP sites. Here is my reasoning:
First, if the APP community "goes along" with a one year split of K-3 in one building, and 4-5 across town, it will further degrade the program, but it won't totally "explode" it -- and in fact the 4th/5th cohort may even grow a little, due to a combination of location (more convenient), MAP testing, and wreckage of Spectrum. The District will pounce on this as evidence of "success" (or at least continued robust health) of the program in the new split configuration.

Second, ANY long term solution for north end APP will cost money -- as it will require reopening a closed school, or building a new one. There is no other north end capacity. And the District is short on money, and hates to spend any it has on APP in any case -- because it doesn't want to be associated with this elitist, "tracking" thing, and the District will not want to take any heat for spending any scarce resources on it.

So -- since the split will be deemed a "success," and they won't want to spend money -- one solution is to splinter it into small enough groups that you can just tuck a little APP here, a little APP there -- and Voila! Problem solved. No school populations had to be moved/inconvenienced to accomodate APP. The splintered program can successfully thrive anywhere (as proved by the 4th/5th split, and the earlier TM split). At that point, they can move 4/5 wherever they want -- and for that matter, if the neigborhood continues to fill Lowell, they can relocate the (now smaller) K-3 wherever they want in the central district. Maybe they keep K-1 at Lowell, and move 2/3 to Madrona. Maybe for the north end kids, there will be a permanent split where K-1, 2-3, and 4-5 are all farmed out permanently to whatever building has the most space? Who knows. But once you let them split it by grades, you will never be able to force them to reassemble the group. Promises? They break or forget them all the time! They will do whatever in the future is most expedient -- and spending money on a long term site that houses northend APP is a good candidate for NOT being the most expedient thing.

All this comes from the rot at the heart of the Board. The reason board policies exist are so that the District staff has some board guidance on parameters -- places they cannot go, because the Board has placed limits, through its written policies. When the Board ignores the policies, or refuses to enforce them -- this is where things end up!

And the reason we need these at the Board level is -- there are things that the school community wants -- community input, even MORE community input for ALT schools, thoughtful and well reasoned program placement, etc. etc. These things are Board policies so that they are made (and enforced!?!?!?!) by the people we elect-- and not by bureaucrats who we can't get to.

Anonymous said...

To Seattle Citizen; I agree with you that every child has his/her own very specific straits. I definitely did not mean to say that kids who tested into APP are somehow totally different from other children, since I don't really know children other than my own well enough for any kind of evaluation. My children are very good at academics, but I believe that they are a little delayed in social development when compared to the majority of children (those whose doctors refer to as typically developing; I think there are age benchmarks). So when I used the word other, I just mean other children, who are not delayed in social skills. Sometimes I almost think my older one might be somewhere on the autistic spectrum, except that none of the descriptors quite fit her. That is why we believe that it is so very important for her to be in school with children of all abilities and background, so she can learn the appropriate social skills to function in the world. Even though I went through the Early Entrance Program at the UW, I think that was probably due more to training, than to giftedness. But at least one of my children is definitely very different: she taught herself the alphabet at 9 months old, and learned to read and write at 2 by playing with the leapfrog toys. We were actually almost horrified by this; I wanted her to fully enjoy being a kid, and just learn at the usual rate. It is not so much fun being different when you're young and can't appreciate your uniqueness. She, of course, pays for this with the heightened anxiety and delays in social skills. So, I guess what I'm saying is, I hope that APP will always be co-housed with other programs, and not isolated into its own building.

SPS Parent

seattle citizen said...

SPS Parent and Lori,
I appreciate both of your comments, and hear you. My apologies if what I was trying to write came out sounding like I thought some parents don't take into consideration the ranges of children, the "groups" that their's does not belong too....I think the gist of what I was trying to say (ineloquently) is that I've heard APP parent/guardians make some statements about their children that place the kids into "the group." If (as research seems to suggest, evidently) these are valid generalities, and don't (as often) apply to the non-APP students, then yes, that's all well and good. But if the generalities are broader, and DO apply to lots of other students, but are "taken" as specific to APP by grouping with APP, then that's a problem: It (unconsciously, not divisively: I don't think anyone intends division) separates students, "groups" of students, un-necessarily and to APP's disadvantage.
I know that some generalities pertain, statistically...But I've come to see how the "grouping" (racial, "intelligence," cultural, etc, perpetuates these strict categories that are, well, divisive.
An interesting topic, the ranges, the groups, the blurring of boundries, the challenges of meeting the needs of students even when we must use mere generalities and assumptions. I'd love to carry it on, but this thread is not the place!
Thanks again for the cogent responses to my ramblings.