Monday, September 26, 2011

District Announces Co-Principal for Lowell

The district is announcing that Rina Geoghagen has been appointed the co-principal of Lowell Elementary.  She will continue to oversee Lowell at Lincoln as well as work with Greg King for "success at both school sites.

It is also stated, "In addition, Marella Francois will not be joining the Lowell staff." 

While this makes some sense, it costs more to have two full principals for any one school.  Given that it is "one" school but at two locations, I guess there was no choice but to make her a full principal.  It sounds like she has been doing a good job, both now and throughout the summer. 

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Consider - Lowell is in two separate facilities (one in Wallingford, the other on Capitol Hill). There are over 400 students at the Lowell APP site at Lincoln, and then there's the existing neighborhood population and special ed students at Capitol Hill. When the school year started, Greg King was trying to split his time between the two campuses, with very limited success. This left Lowell@Lincoln with an Assistant Principal (Rina G) and Marella Francois, the new 'co-principal' who never appeared at school. Naming Rina G as co-principal is not a new position. It's just putting a person in to the role who will actually appear at the school and assume a leadership role.

Lowell@Lincoln Parent

Anonymous said...

Yes, as L@L parent says, Rina was left in the position of doing the work of a full principal, she just wasn't getting paid for it. I am glad she now has the pay and authority of the role she was actually doing.

The whole Marella situation is quite odd. I never did see her. I like how it was a throwaway sentence in the announcement, too. It was: " In addition, Marella Francois will not be joining the Lowell staff." Nothing further will be explained, I guess.

Another L@L parent - now if we could just have a real name for our school.

Charlie Mas said...

Will Lowell be getting a different administrator in lieu of Ms Francois? Surely the work is still there even if the worker is not.

zb said...

"Will Lowell be getting a different administrator in lieu of Ms Francois? Surely the work is still there even if the worker is not."

Surely indeed. Because, of course, there would never be an administrator without actual work to do.

(yes, snark and sarcasm, and unrelated to the particular situation at Lowell@Lincoln, which I know nothing about)

KG said...

Francois-griffin is one of the worst principals in school district history. It would be better to have no principal than her. Just ask employees who worked under her in the 1996 Meany magnet school failure. Institutional memory. Yes.

dj said...

Maybe this has been answered, but does anyone know why the school is being maintained as one school in two sites? Is there genuinely a thought that the district will return APP kids to Lowell? Are there advantages to the one-school model (I would think one would be that you could have less administrative staff, although having two principals doesn't make it sound that way; the news about the music program -- which from what I understand cannot provide the same service at two sites as it had at one -- suggests that there may be some actual disadvantages).

I am just curious what the idea is behind keeping the school as "Lowell@Lincoln" rather than treating it as a separate school entirely.

anonymous said...

Well, DJ, having the Lowell community as part of the neighborhood school brings the overall test scores up. That could be why the district isn't separating them. Just a thought.

momster

David said...

Although there is probably some truth to Momster's explanation (that the district wanted test scores and PTA funds from APP at Lincoln to be credited over to ALO and special ed still at Lowell), I think the more likely explanation as to why they weren't split is that there wasn't time. In typical fashion, the district sprung this on Lowell nine weeks before school started. There wasn't time to divide up everything, create new administration and new PTA, and all the other ugliness. Best of a bad situation and all that.

David said...

By the way, it is worth pointing out how foolish this entire situation at Lowell is. Look at what happened to Lowell. The district took what was once the top elementary school in Seattle and split it in 2009, mismanaged it for two years, and now shattered it into pieces.

TechyMom said...

There may not be enough kids for a 3rd administrator. There are not 700+ kids in the combined programs as expected. A lot of people left. For example, 2nd grade ALO is down to one class, where that cohort had 1.5 in 1st grade and 2 in K.

Anonymous said...

APP is a program. Lowell is a school. They are treated differently by the district and the Board.

If APP were given a school designation then any moves or changes would need Board approval. As a program, it can be moved at the will of the district.

The question is how it will play out for next year. Will Lowell (the building) be able to open enrollment to more students when APP is technically still part of the school? The meeting notes from Kay Smith-Blum's visit also mention the possibility of a Spectrum program at Lowell. But don't they have ALO at Lowell? And what form of Spectrum?

The district needs to refine its vision of advanced learning, clarify the differences between programs, and provide some consistency in the administration of ALO/Spectrum/APP.

my two cents

Laura said...

Lowell now has two PTA groups, SNAPP (new) and PALS (now only Capitol Hill). The funds remaining from last year were divided based on last years' student population, roughly 2/3, 1/3. I attended the last old PALS meeting, where a new Capitol Hill board was elected, funds were divided, and all APP parents stepped down from PALS. At the time, the Capitol Hill population expressed a desire to get "APP off (it's) books." They feel it will be easier for them to grow the school, fundraise for grants, and, perhaps, get Title 1 funding.

SPS will have a very hard time, politically, moving APP North, back into Lowell, even if they split the cohort Northeast/Northwest. That's not saying they won't try....

Jan said...

I also wonder if one reason they haven't made the break final is that there is no "there" there for L@L. There is no school for them (yet, at least) except the too-full one they left for them to be "named" for. Lincoln can't be the school, because it is the interim site. All the other "schools" that have been housed there had existing buildings to which they "belonged" when those buildings were usable. L@L has nothing -- except the past association with Lowell. All the more reason, I think, for the north end APP parents to keep the District focused on a permanent home for north end APP. Unfortunately, the biggest board proponent of gifted ed, in my view, is KSB. While I am sure she will remain interested, they have now moved OUT of her district -- and yet have not moved into anyone else's district (not yet, at least).

Anonymous said...

I think it is because they are going to try to split into NE and NW APP. There just isn't enough space to do anything else.

NE APP can easily fit in Jane Addams (at least for now and we know all they care about is NOW) and NW could likely be made to fit in the NW by shuffling some programs around.

But finding a single home for the likely soon to be 500 north end APP students is not probable.

- ne mom

NW Mom said...

NE Mom, I'm a NW Mom with a kid in APP. It's an interesting idea, but my gut seems to think there are a lot more NE kids than NW kids. I guess they could pull it off if "N" kids were put with the NW kids, though.

David said...

We are well down the path of splitting elementary APP into three locations: NE, NW, and S. I would be surprised if anything different happened at this point.

Anonymous said...

QA/Mag would most likely be part of NW as there is no room at TM and for the most part is it just as easy to get to the NW from QA/Mag as anywhere else. As QA/Mag goes to Ballard for HS, the connection seems to be made.

Essentially if you just use I5 as the divider, I imagine the populations would be pretty even. Plus with the NOW PROVEN theory that when the program is closer to home, more folks enroll, you can practically guarantee that a NE and NW program would each have 250-300 kids within a year.

If you back track from the Hamilton numbers of about 150 6th grade APP students that is likely a better indication of program demand.

- ne mom

NW Mom said...

Good point about QA & Mag. I bet that would work out well then.

apparent said...

The John Marshall School building, on Ravenna Boulevard by Greenlake, just off I-5?

Anonymous said...

The competition for John Marshall is going to be fierce. The language immersion programs are going to blow out of their buildings any second now and will potentially require their own middle school if they are maintained as an assignment rather than option program.

I think both JSIS and McDonald have 5 classes each for K and first grade. That is 10 total classes that need to roll up somewhere. They are going to quickly be the next Lowell style emergency.

- ne mom

in the know said...

As a person who was at Meany MS in 96, I know many others on staff that did not regard Ms. Francois as bad or ineffective. May just be a matter of perspective or the disruption of vested interests. The administrators that followed her brief tenure certainly were in the running for worst administrators in district history.

Wallingford Mom said...

NE Mom

McDonald has 2 1st grades, 4 K classes. JSIS has 4 1st grades, 4 K. It is a lot, but not quite 5 classes each.

Something will have to be done regarding Hamilton soon.

Jessica

Erin said...

So there are 14 classes of K and 1 between JSIS and McDonald? Wow! I really, really hope the north end gets a new middle school soon.

Anonymous said...

we are at JSIS and my understanding is that there is currently NO language immersion program after 5th grade. while parents would like the immersion to continue on through at least middle school, so far the district has shown no desire/ effort to make it happen. Hamilton is an international school (global focus), not an immersion school. Under the old assignment plan, JSIS students had priority to attend Hamilton which offers some advanced language classes (but no immersion classes). This is moot under new plan as now Hamilton is their neighborhood school and they are guaranteed seats there anyway. So, it would make little difference to capacity problem to make it an option school. Kids in that neighborhood have to go somewhere. Only other choice is Salmon Bay which is in Ballard.
I think the district should open up Lincoln to co-house language immersion and APP. 1-8th grades for APP and 6th-8th for language immersion. Then Hamilton can be a third middle school in the north end to take the pressure off Eckstein. Wilson Pacific can be the interim school instead of Lincoln.

SPS Parent

Charlie Mas said...

Damn! SPS Parent, that is a really good idea.

APP 1-8 at Lincoln along with language immersion middle school with an all-city draw.

That would pull a lot of kids out of Hamilton - about 400 - and, perhaps, relieve the need for an additional middle school in the north-end.

It would also relieve some of the enrollment pressure on Mercer and Denny, the other schools that roll up from language immersion programs.

It would allow APP students to be in their own school for elementary (as it was) and in school with other students - the language immersion students - for middle school (as it is).

Lincoln, centrally located north/south with good access from both I-5 and Highway 99, is an ideal location for an all-city draw school.

The building has a capacity of about 1600 (or more) depending on how it is utilized. The north-end elementary APP would be about 450 students, north-end middle school APP would be about 250, and I think the language immersion middle school would be about 500 if it drew from all of the various language immersion elementaries. Let's remember that not all of the students in language immersion elementary schools would choose to continue to a language immersion middle school - particularly if it were at Lincoln rather than in their neighborhood.

That's about 1,200 students. They should fit very nicely into Lincoln. Even if I'm off by 20% there would still be room for all of them.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh! Bonus from SPS Parent's idea: north-end elementary APP students won't have to move again. They are already in Lincoln.

Middle school students, APP or language immersion, would only have to move as they enter sixth grade - when they would change schools anyway. The school is already a 1-5. It could start as a 1-6 next year and roll up to a 1-8 over three years.

That would also mean that the District would have three years to complete the build out.

The District could put the S.B.O.C. at John Marshall temporarily (instead of Lincoln) while they are fixing up Meany.

They could just move NOVA back to Mann right now.

zero population growth said...

"So there are 14 classes of K and 1 between JSIS and McDonald? Wow! I really, really hope the north end gets a new middle school soon."

I really, really hope they start pumping birth control into the water supply up there! WOW-it's like the 50's baby boom all over again!

Carliegh said...

Charlie,

I agree, that is a good idea. I have a daughter in 1st grade APP. I've heard lots of parents with older kids saying the 1-8 idea sounds good now, but not when our kids are older. The addition of the immersion kids should help, though, right?

My question is what do those kids do for field space/after school sports, etc.? If I understand the concerns of parents with older kids not wanting the 1-8 it's due to lack of middle school programs. I'm not starting a sports debate, I'm simply curious about fields since band, etc. could easily be accomodated at Lincoln. Lunch? That's another story!

hschinske said...

I really, really hope they start pumping birth control into the water supply up there!

I'm assuming that's a joke, but really, lots of kindergartners does not equal lots of big families. They could all be only children for all you know.

Helen Schinske

Lori said...

Using Lincoln as an APP 1-8 and middle school language immersion program is intriguing, but I think logistics might be a problem.

I know the school was designed for 1,000 or more high schoolers, yet it can barely handle 600 elementary students right now when it comes to lunch. There are 3 crowded lunch shifts, with some kids having to eat lunch in the hallways because the cafeteria doesn't hold them all. We've also been told that we can't have any evening events with food at the school because the cafeteria is too small to handle it. Kind of a bummer when you're used to having nice community-building events with potluck meals on site.

Maybe staggered start times would help if you tried to make this a 1-8 school, but ultimately, the school wasn't built with little kids in mind. Half the lockers go un-utilized because the kids can't reach them this year. And this will sound silly, but a lot of time is spent going up and down big staircases; from a kid's perspective, the "long distances" to get to lunch, to recess, to PCP activities means less time to enjoy those things.

Then there's the playground. Parents worked hard to get access to the grassy frontlawn area instead of the concrete areas where the district wanted the kids to play, but we can't put permanent play structures in place due to the trees. It'll work these next 2 years, but it's not perfect or even up to snuff with what other schools get.

Don't get me wrong; I am pleased with how Lowell@Lincoln is going so far this year, but I'm not convinced I'd want it for a permanent home for elementary northend APP. And yeah, these sound like minor complaints, but lunch, recess, etc are not minor things to our kids. I'd really prefer to see elementary aged kids in an elementary school designed for their needs.

Anonymous said...

Lori-

We are also at Lincoln. Early in the year I asked why the lunchroom was so small. I knew larger schools had used Lincoln, Garfield and Hamilton, and I wondered how they dealt with lunch. The answer was that Kidsco was put in the basement and took up some of the lunchroom space. If Lincoln were to be used as a true elementary school, Kidsco could be moved to another part of the building which would allow the lunchroom to be larger again.

I hope the district looks at something long term very soon for north APP. My kids are on their third elementary (k in neighborhood, Lowell, Lincoln) and I wouldn't want them to start Hamilton just to move again. The district needs to realize our kids are not widgets, and they deserve a real school.

Lincoln Parent

Anonymous said...

I have a question about Lincoln, and I wonder if someone here knows the answer. My kids are in APP at Lincoln, and we are told there are two groups in the building - APP and MacDonald. I wonder if there isn't another program there, too. I have parked on the south side of the main building and there are older kids and adults sitting on the stairs there frequently, and the double doors there are open. Anyone know what that is?

Curious

Anonymous said...

when Lincoln was used as a high school, afterschool sports used the fields and tennis courts and tracks/trails at lower woodland and greenlake. its a 5 minute walk from Lincoln. Lower grades can be put on main floor to reduce stairs. lockers look like same size as the ones at Lowell to me. Does Lowell have a field for playground? don't remember seeing it on my tour. lunchroom used to be much bigger. Lincoln has many gyms and one could probably be converted to an extra cafeteria. i'm not conversant with facilities inventory, unless the district kick out another school pop., is there even an empty building now that is completely suitable for elementary kids that APP can move into?
SPS Parent

apparent said...

The John Marshall School Building on Ravenna Boulevard and 65th Street between I-5 and Greenlake is a beautiful old building (needing renovation) that is vacant and large enough for what you suggest.

Anonymous said...

John Marshall is not that big. It is not tiny but it is not that big.

A big issue with comparing buildings is that capacity changes based on age specific programming. A middle school is very space efficient. The capacity of the building can be set for each homeroom having 35 students and every room being used. Elementary schools are not nearly as space efficient with an average class size of 25 and specialized program rooms.

The rule of thumb is that a building that could be a 1,000 student middle school would only work for about 750 as a K8 and about 600 as an elementary. IIRC, JM was set at about 750 as a moderate sized middle school. That would make it a very large elementary or a Salmon Bay or TOPS sized K8.

- north seattle mom

SeattleMom said...

FWIW: The John Marshall Building is currently not vacant. SPS has been renting it out. Current tenants include Liftime Learning Center (for seniors), Seattle Youth Soccer Association, NW Girls Choir, SAGA School (German preschool), another preschool plus others. While SPS probably has a clause so that they can break the leases anytime they want, people should be aware that these organizations (mostly non-profit) have invested a significant amount of time and money to move into the building. Some of them might even benefit yourself. In that regard, a truly empty building (Wilson-Pacific?) would be less harmful for the APP program to move into.

apparent said...

Don't all such leases include an explicit clause allowing the school district to regain possession whenever it needs to return the school to its original purpose, signed knowingly by each of those organizations?

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone is still reading this post, but I will put in my two cents. To Apparent, what SeattleMom is saying is that just because the district can take Marshall back, does not mean that it is an ethical thing to do. Just as you did not like having your child displaced at the last minute from Lowell, people who are using that building now would not like losing their building at the last minute and scrambling hastily to find and fix up another space either, it is a hardship especially for those with children in the preschools. Now, I must admit to a bias, my children have all tested into APP and we're planning to join the program at Hamilton, but if the middle school APP program is put into a school that only has APP, then we will probably stay at the neighborhood school, as we believe it is more important to attend school with kids from all backgrounds and different abilities. Marshall would not be big enough to hold APP and another program. If APP does move from Hamilton,I hope the district would put the SBOC there with the language immersion kids, then it will be a real international school

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

The JM discussion is potentially moot. All of the tenants have already been warned that the leases are short term and notice will be provided at some point.

My son plays for Seattle United and SU is one of the tenants. SU knows they are going to need to find a new home when the district takes back the building.

ne parent

apparent said...

I'm sorry, I don't see the ethical issue, is there one? All those tenants signed their leases with their eyes wide open, a fact presumably reflected in their rent.

More importantly, isn't the whole point that these are actually Seattle public school buildings? Is somebody arguing that they have now been turned over to private hands without any public process? Why should't they be used again for the very purpose for which they were built -- teaching school age-children?

NESeattleMom said...

To Anonymous 9/28/11
Is the SPS Evening High School still using the south part of Lincoln? They used to have that space. Marella Francois was listed as the principal of that school last year

Erin said...

FWIW: The John Marshall Building is currently not vacant. SPS has been renting it out. Current tenants include Liftime Learning Center (for seniors), Seattle Youth Soccer Association, NW Girls Choir, SAGA School (German preschool), another preschool plus others. While SPS probably has a clause so that they can break the leases anytime they want, people should be aware that these organizations (mostly non-profit) have invested a significant amount of time and money to move into the building. Some of them might even benefit yourself. In that regard, a truly empty building (Wilson-Pacific?) would be less harmful for the APP program to move into.

Anonymous said...

All the tenants at JM have notice to vacate for March 2013.

- it is already done.