Monday, July 25, 2011

Want to move your child to Lowell?

This is a sort of weird idea that just struck me, but I'm pretty sure that I'm right about this.

With the entire APP cohort moved out of Lowell, the school building's enrollment next year is likely to be about 250 in a space that can easily accommodate 500. The Lowell building will be nowhere near capacity.

As a result, there should be plenty of space available at Lowell for any student who chooses to enroll there. Are you unhappy with your child's elementary school assignment? Do you think Lowell would be a better choice for your child?

Lowell should be available to any elementary student anywhere in the District. Transportation, however, will only be available for students living in the Lowell Transportation Service Area. The current map will clearly need to be updated as it suggests transportation available to half the city.

If you're not happy with your child's assignment - or your children's assignment if you have siblings assigned to different schools - and Lowell is an attractive option for you, you appear to have a golden opportunity to enroll your child there.

I may be wrong about this, but I'm not sure how. The District would have a hard time keeping your kid out of Lowell given their rules for out-of-area assignments. The District says that students from outside the attendance area can be assigned to an attendance area school on a "space available" basis, but there is no definition - that I can find - for "space available".

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

They may have physical space available, but if they don't have the teachers there to fill that space, it will functionally cap out based on staff.

Plus, too much flexibility for SPS staff to absorb und SAP.

- Doubt It's in the Cards

Anonymous said...

I am not sure why anyone would want to do this. Lowell/Lincoln families haven't heard information on anything about how either school will run day to day. Will either school have PCP? Who knows. Will either school have a librarian? Who knows?

I don't think it's a great time to join either school. It's going to be a transition year for both sites, to say the least.

Lincoln Parent

Charlie Mas said...

If the school attracts enrollment, the District will provide the funding for the teachers.

Lincoln Parent might not understand why anyone would want to move to Lowell in a time of such uncertainty, but let's remember that predictability is only good when the predictable outcome is good. There are a lot of folks who are deeply disappointed with their school options and would be happy to trade it for what is behind curtain number two.

Kristin said...

Charlie is right - staffing is based on enrollment. New hires, new families and new students offer a great opportunity to create a really fantastic school.

Charlie Mas said...

This window of opportunity could close - and fast.

You never know if the District will suddebnly realize that without APP at Lowell, they have about 250-300 more seats in the Washington Service Area than they need. That could lead to the long-threatened closure of Montlake.

Or, a more attractive option, the creation of an option program at Montlake.

Hey, maybe it could be a language immersion program that feeds to Hamilton instead of McDonald. No... too late for that. Some of the District's decisions, such as the language immerision progam at McDonald are irrevocable while others are written in pencil on tissue.

Anonymous said...

Last year it did not happen at Madison. Because the district artificially capped the enrollment at a lower number (based on their projections for the NSAP) than the school's enrollment in previous years, even though there was room and even though kids tried to get in, they were turned away because of the cap.

When questioned, the district denied any "cap" existed, but the Principal at a PTSA meeting gave parents information about the cap and why Madison could not accept any more students than they were funded for in the spring. Teachers in the BLT later also verified this problem.

Because of the cap, the incoming 6th grade no longer could have 2 balanced "teams" and had to disband the system. So the real salt in the wound is now SPS claims that Madison & WSHS are at "capacity" but that is the lowered artificially capped capacity and not what has traditionally been their full enrollment.

signed,
Messed up system at best!

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

Charlie, I hope that is gallows humor as opposed to an actual suggestion. Why on earth would anyone suggest replacing a healthy and full existing neighborhood school at Montlake with an option program, when there are schools in central (Lowell now, Madrona, Bailey Gatzert) that are under capacity with neighborhood schools and could actually use an option program?

Charlie Mas said...

The previous Facilities staff played a lot of political games with the "capacity" of schools. The new people at the head of Facilities don't play those games.

HOWEVER, staff changes, so we need a clear, documented process so we don't have to rely on the good intentions of the staff to be assured that things will handled honestly in future.

Charlie Mas said...

dj, I was semi-serious. There is a dedicated contingent within the district leadership - they may still be there; they may be gone now - who had some kind of hate on for Montlake. I thought they would take this opportunity to make another run at it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't know if I agree with "hate" for Montlake by staff. Montlake has a swell program that is beloved by its neighborhood.

It also has a tiny and very old building that can't really be built bigger that the district keeps pouring millions into to keep going. It is very unlikely the district is going to rebuild a 300-seat school so something will have to give at some point.

Just a thought.

Meg said...

the district has to do some backfilling if there's an increase in students over the initial allocation.

But there's a reason principals can't simply do a back-of-the-envelope calculation and tell parents how many teachers the school will get due to an enrollment bump: backfilling is not done strictly according to the WSS.

Adjustsments made after initial projections and allocations have considerably more discretion exercised by district administration. Rounding rules (e.g., teachers aren't necessarily rounded to the nearest whole or half, and PCP calcs aren't made after rounding is completed) also change.

There are likely a bunch of good reasons for families to consider Lowell's general ed program, but don't make the assumption that the staffing for 2011-12 will have any kind of guaranteed/formula increase if an enrollment surge is permitted.

StepJ said...

I suspicion enrollment at Lowell might show as closed for the coming year.

This is just a guess on my part as I don't know how flexible the new custom enrollment system is.

If the going forward intention is to move APP at Lowell/Lincoln to a new northend location then all of the APP seats at Lowell perhaps have been released for General Ed. assignment.

But, if this decision is still up in the air, and the system does not have flexibility beyond actual changes to the programming then the school will still show as full.

The folks that answer the phone/greet the public in person do not have authority to override the system and give assignments to a school that shows no seats are available.

At current I suspect a parent would have their student added to the wait list at Lowell vs. actually obtaining assignment.

BL said...

To date, gen ed enrollment has not opened up at Lowell.

Kathy said...

Meg,

Great to have you back!

I understand increased school enrollment does not necessarily equate to proportionate increases in individual school funding.

My understanding is dollars are allocated to schools based on a three year enrollment average. So, while the state provides additional funding for increased enrollment..our schools don't necessarily have proportionate increases in funding.

Obviously, this is a problem in schools with growing enrollment.

Do you know anything about this?
Are AAFTE formulas based on enrollment averages?

I suspect this is the manner in which the district holds back "Performance Management" dollars.

Do you know anything about this.

SP said...

Kathy,
I've never heard of a 3-year ave. enrollment used for the school's budget, unless it was new for this year.
My understanding from working with the annual spring budget (through the school's BLT) is that the AAFTE's are all based on enrollment projections that the district comes up with somehow (that rarely reflects what is happening/has happened/will be happening in reality in the school).

That's why the budget process is so disruptive, especially when teacher RIFs are directly linked to these AAFTE projections. A couple of years ago the projections were so low that RIFs were rampid, and then when the actual enrollment numbers were confirmed, there was a mad scramble for rehires.

A totally backwards way to work any budget. Just check out the spring budget pages for each school (online somewhere- my old links don't work).

Speaking of which- does anyone know how to convert the old simple SPS links into a working new link? Is there any magic formula or are we just out of luck?

Dorothy Neville said...

Speaking of the budget projections and unnecessary RIFS... This year during budget workshops when some school BLTs had shared with board the very unlikely low-ball enrollment projections and how that was going to affect teams that worked well together (ie, after RIF and rehire, not likely to get same staffing back) some of the board was sympathetic, but NOT STEVE! He more than any of them was most concerned about overstaffing and then being forced to pay for that staff if enrollment really didn't go up. He was more concerned about that scenario then the disruptions of unnecessary RIFS.

Damn I wish those workshops were recorded.

apparent said...

Rather than speculating on the possibility of this thread topic, just check out the Lowell Elementary SPS website, which you can click onto from the Schools Directory. Several of the newly posted Questions and Answers on the abrupt Lowell/Lincoln transition address new transfers into Lowell Gen. Ed/ALO in Capitol Hill for Fall 2011. They do say that they are currently accepting such applications. Any interested families should apply right now.

Kathy said...

"My understanding from working with the annual spring budget (through the school's BLT) is that the AAFTE's are all based on enrollment projections that the district comes up with somehow (that rarely reflects what is happening/has happened/will be happening in reality in the school)."

SP,

This is my area of concern. I believe funding formulas for AAFTE are based on 3 year enrollment averages..not reflective of school enrollment and needs.

However, I need to learn more about actual AAFTE formula.

In times of increasing enrollment..the district is able to hold back dollars for HQ instead of releasing them to the schools.

This year the district is holding back $1.6M (or ($1.9M) for "Performance Management". These dollars will be allocated via the Chief Academic officer. I believe we NEED those dollars in our classrooms.

I think I'm getting off topic.

Stu said...

But, if this decision is still up in the air, and the system does not have flexibility beyond actual changes to the programming then the school will still show as full.

I have to agree with StepJ on this.

Until they know what they're going to do with APP moving forward, i.e., are they going to split the program again and have some move back to Lowell, they can't fill the building with other kids. If they did that, and then tried to move APP back into the building, they'd have to then kick out the kids who just came over. Not even THIS district could miss this, right?

stu

Meg said...

There are a couple of different issues here; I'm going to spout off on what I think I know in a couple of different comments.

AAFTE

I forget what the acronym means, precisely (anyone?), and am just a little too lazy to look it up right now, but AAFTE refers to the student answer of full time equivalent. One kid doesn't always equal 1.0 kid worth of funding. I do not know how to factor in contact time, IEP and the like, but I do know an actual person does not always equal 1.0 AAFTE of funding. I don't know if that helps, since it's pretty vague.

Meg said...

Melissa, Charlie - I hope this isn't rude thread hijacking.

Performance Management Funding

The district names 3 sources (page 38) for creating a performance management fund.

1. Title I (federal money, aimed at helping struggling schools. ~33% of all Title money must be held back for prescribed spending). Until the 2009-10 school year, buildings with 40% or more of their students eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch were given Title I funding. In February 2009, the then-Superintendent informed principals that the FRL threshold was being raised to 55%. She claimed SPS needed the money to pay tutoring companies, and that those expenses were mandatory. It was a mix and match of truth and bullshit - SPS is required to pay tutoring companies, but only as much as SPS is required to set aside (the tutoring company payments are part of the required set-asides for Title). The set-aside functions as a cap. SPS doesn't have to spend a penny more than the set-aside. Given that Performance Management appeared at about the same time, one is inclined to guess that the actual reason for raising the threshold was to create a slush fund. This last bit is obviously speculation on my part.

2. LAP (Learning Assistance Program). It's basically a state answer to Title. It also has lots of rules as to how it can be spent, but not as many as Title, and doesn't have required hold-backs. During Goodloe-Johnson's tenure, though, the percentage directly allocated to schools steadily dropped

3. FRL money. You know, the money schools get for the Free/Reduced Lunch eligible kids at their school. I don't have more data or hard data on this. Sorry.

2010-11 Performance management funding was listed by the district as being $5.2M. If it's $1.6M for the coming year, that's a big reduction. It raises a couple of questions. Will the Title I threshold will be lowered (I'm not going to hold my breath)? Is the performance management funding really decreased, or is it now split into a couple of different funds with different names - performance management morphed into the School Improvement Framework, after all.

seattle citizen said...

"If the school attracts enrollment, the District will provide the funding for the teachers."

Absolutely. For a number of reasons this WOULD occur. Could be an interesting opportunity for teachers, too, depending on what is envisioned to be set up there...

Anonymous said...

What a nice spot for some TFA "teachers".

Oompah

apparent said...

Stu,

not advocating here, just wondering, but don't you think that the possibility of an APP return to Lowell Elementary has now been foreclosed by the successful petition to keep this particular cohort together?

Unless the northend elementary APP cohort shrinks, under what circumstance can this goal be accomplished at Lowell? At most, some northend APP students could perhaps be given an optional space there in some future configuration, but this would fly in the face of the unified cohort that won support, leading to this present Lincoln move. It is now hard to imagine any future northend students being bussed across the Ship Canal to Capitol Hill again, so where would any Lowell APP students come from?

Again, not advocating anything here, just trying to understand what's happening.

Stu said...

Apparent -

First, like most of us here, I don't KNOW anything. Every time I try to guess what the district is planning, I'm reminded that they really don't have a plan. I do have my personal beliefs, though.

I believe that the district ignored the problems at Lowell so that they could use the overcrowding to split the program again.

I believe that they tried to "sneak" the 4th-5th split in there, while school was on break, and that if they had been successful they would have made the argument that the "cohort" wasn't so important after all. That would have lead to more splits.

I believe that they are basically "doing away" with Spectrum, making it less of a distinct program with fewer seats and shared classrooms, so that they can eventually move APP-lite into at least 8 buildings (2 in each general region) and make THAT the only real advanced learning. (They'll lower the qualifications a bit to fill it up and guarantee seats . . . that'll get some kids out of the overcrowded schools as well.)

I believe that after this one year at Lincoln -- it's possible they could do a second Lincoln year but that doesn't change my point -- they will move to split the program into three, if not four, separate buildings. Not sure if they would keep TM where it is or shift it somewhere else but they will consider putting some central and "southern" northeast families -- yes, across the ship canal -- back at Lowell; they'd then have a new Northend building and something for the West Seattle/Queen Anne/Ballard bunch. This gives them four high scoring "buildings," regardless of what other community is sharing with APP. That shows big improvement in test scores in just two years! They MUST be doing something right, right?

I see no evidence that the district cares, in the long run, what happens to APP. I think they'd like to see it either moved to more neighborhood based schools or a completely optional program, with no busing of course. I truly hope they prove me wrong!

stu

Charlie Mas said...

As stu wrote:
"[i]I don't KNOW anything. Every time I try to guess what the district is planning, I'm reminded that they really don't have a plan.[/i]"

The District is making this up as they go. There is no plan, per se.

What they do have is an ad hoc list of general preferences and stated beliefs.

Among the stated beliefs, they have some that they will act on - so long as it is something they were going to do anyway. They also have some that they aren't willing to act on, and some that they don't really hold.

Ask any of them and they will say that they "support advanced learning". Ask any of them what they have ever done in support of advanced learning, however, and they will either say that they have allowed it to continue (tolerated it), or they will name things that actually damaged it.

Ask any of them and they will say that they oppose social promotion, but almost no child is ever held back.

Ask any of them and they will say that they want desperately to provide under-performing students with early and effective interventions, but we have no such interventions.

There is no plan. There never has been one. They can't see past September. Actually, they can't even see September from here.

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

Actually, they can't even see September from here.

What's funny -- ok, not "ha, ha" funny -- is that the district seems genuinely surprised when faced with the idea that there's going to be school again in September. It's almost as if they make these half-assed decisions during the year and breathe a sigh of relief 'cause their job is over. "Oh wait! There's school again next year? Nobody told us!"

stu

PS - Off subject but Meg, if you're reading this, is there any way to make a "crappy chart" of actual savings from transportation changes?

NESeattleMom said...

Will the general ed/ALO students at Lowell go to Washington for middle school? Last year at Hamilton there is a list of "feeder" elementary schools which did not list Lowell, which provided the most students the past two years.

Anonymous said...

i had considered putting my child in the lowell/lincoln but it has been too much transition for him.
i think i will wait til next year and see how things go. any lowell lincoln parents or kids excited about the move to lowell lincoln?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
i had considered putting my child in the lowell/lincoln but it has been too much transition for him.
i think i will wait til next year and see how things go. any lowell lincoln parents or kids excited about the move to lowell lincoln?

7/28/11 4:49 PM


Anonymous, your above question will be deleted if you don't sign with a penname (er, keyname?). As incoming APP parents, our kid and our family are indeed excited about the move to Lowell APP @ Lincoln (or whatever).

We attended the tour and talk last night, and in the sunshine the upper floors which house the APP classrooms are filled with light, and high ceilings and wide corridors unlike the Lowell building. On the school corner is Rocking Wok Chinese restaurant, and a block away are Archie McPhee's, a favorite ice-cream haunt, and parks, restaurants and movie theaters (even mini-golf and boating nearby!).

We're sad that so many current elementary students are having to move or split or endure more big changes, but we're relieved are joining this year rather than last for that very reason. Also, this year every student will be in a new school, so our new APP kid will be in the same boat as all the others.

As for the future, after years of chaos caused by this shambles of a school district maladministration (in contrast to many excellent schools and teachers), we are now one optimistic charter family in the apparent establishment of a northend APP elementary site somewhere in place of previously bussing every northend student across the Ship Canal (southend students are already being bussed to Thurgood Marshall).

Here goes!

1 family

NESeattleMom said...

Our family is excited that our son is going after one year at Lowell to the 3rd grade at Lincoln. We're excited that his sister's Hamilton concerts will often be at "his" school auditorium. I'm thinking that evening events will be easier. If there are things at both schools on the same night, we can attend both. We haven't mapped out the exact schedule yet since we don't know after school classes yet, but we are excited. I hope there is a good play ground, and that the library, music, PE and art work out OK. We will miss being in the same school as the Special Ed kids. When my daughter was at Lowell in 3rd, 4th, 5th grade, she really enjoyed skipping recesses to spend time with her special buddies, or helping them go down the slide, etc. She would come home with stories of special moments. But we are glad that the cohort (split though it is) is sticking together for the next year, without sending the 4th and 5th graders off on their own. My son is glad to be going there where he remembers Science Night two years ago when HIMS was there. I hope the teachers will take advantage of the location and walk to the three nearby parks sometimes.