Skills Center - I was glad to see this has not gone away. As you may recall, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was trying to create a Skills Center for CTE (career and technical education) and there was some sort of funding from the state that was being sought.
There will be four programs next fall according to Shep Siegel, SPS CTE head. (He did not hand out materials to the public and I will try to get them but there is a brochure available.)
- Aerospace science - which I believe is to not to be at a school but off-site (KC airport?)
- Digital animation somewhere at Seattle Center (maybe in conjunction with Center School)
- Health Sciences at West Seattle High School
- Cisco at Cleveland
This is all work that is part of the district's mission statement and aligns with OSPI. It is specifically age targeted (and not grade level) for students 16 and over and could help students with credit retrieval issues.
It could get funding through the state and the feds but yes, you have to get that money from them.
Most CTE centers have a core campus which I believe was the original idea but we are going to have a distributive model around the city. They believe this will solve some transportation problems (but I have my doubts on that claim). Mr Siegel that they could open other sites later. He also said they could offer evening classes.
It does not replace CTE currently in high schools. High schools would offer prerequisites for more advanced classes at the CTE locations.
Mr. Siegel said because of cable tv shows like Dirtiest Job and others, students have become more aware of jobs that are out there. (So why no CSI Seattle? Just kidding.)
He did point out one issue that plagues the district. There was to be an engineering program at Hamilton and they invested in $500k of equipment and it is sitting in a closet because they were not able to open the program due to space. (This was true at Garfield as well for Project Lead the Way and I don't know if that has changed.)
Director Patu was very disappointed that there was nothing for RBHS. She said they knew "RBHS needs 'lift me up' help". The answer was that there is something planned for RBHS but these early programs only need minor construction work and there is only $2M in funding.
Director Patu was not deterred. She said that RBHS needs the help now and how is it that Cleveland is getting yet another program and RBHS has nothing. She said IB was a year and a half off and "I'm not very happy with it." (I applaud her polite and yet pointed statements. This is how a Director expresses unhappiness with staff recs/work.)
When Holly Ferguson tried to say there was only $2M total, Director Patu pointed out that if there were partnerships in place, something could be happening (and alluded to this as a previous discussion).
Mr. Siegel then said that he was "guided by people doing capacity management and they told me where to put the programs." Big red flag here. I understand what is being said but Betty is right; something should be put into RBHS and they should have been at the top of the list even if it took the whole $2M. That's just my opinion but if we want to sustain this school, I believe that's what should have happened.
Holly said they are leveraging programs that are already there instead of starting cold. I can only say that you have to start somewhere and Cleveland has been the beneficiary of a lot of district largess.
Peter asked if they were beyond the point of no return. I wouldn't think so but the question didn't get answered. He also said they had not seen a budget and he had authored an amendment for the Board to see this. Mr. Siegel said the Board had but Peter didn't think this was so. Peter said, "My time is limited and I hope others will see that through going forward."
Harium said that it will go to A&F and the budget would have to be approved.
They then talked about some Board policies being revised under nondiscrimination. Betty was surprised to find out that there was an Office of Equity and Compliance and not happy that it was in HR. The retaliation policy was pulled from this group and will be worked on later.
They then discussed high school graduation requirements. Staff is proposing that they increase LA by 1 credit (from 3 to 4). As an example, they showed how many students are already graduating with the extra credit and at Hale it is 92% but all are over 65%. However it is noted that there are some LA electives that may not meet 12th grade LA standards.
They estimate this would cost $510k across the system for about 6 extra teachers. Then there would be about $850k in new textbooks.
They are also considering requirements around world languages. Looking at the last three years of graduating classes, they found that 55% graduated with 2 WL credits.
The issue here, according to Harium, is communication to parents and students. There was a discussion around 8th grade outreach and robocalls to 8th grade families.
There was also mention that the State Board got rid of the 150-hour graduation requirement but that there is still a requirement for 1,000 hours of instruction and that will be up to 1080 by '14-'15.
So we finally got a look at this Policy. There are several key elements to this policy (I'm not going through the obvious academic ones):
1) Indicate how the school staff and community has been involved in making the recommendation to use alternative basic instructional materials, including information on how the school-based decision matrix was used in this process; and
I don't know this term "school-based decision matrix." Does anyone else? Also, I wonder if a principal really wasn't interested or didn't want to do this, what recourse would teachers/parents have?
2) Identify school-based or grant funding that will be used to support the purchase, upkeep, professional development and training on these materials
This is a big issue. It was said that the principal could use his/her "discretionary" money (how much could that be any one school) or someone could write a grant (but you might need grant money every year so that's an issue) or the PTA could raise funds. So you could have a principal at a low-achieving school who desperately wants to try something new but has a Sophie's choice between an elementary school counselor or this new method. Or you have a school that has a principal who doesn't know how to write a grant and has a small PTA.
Meaning, it would seem that better off schools would be more likely to be able to gain a waiver than poorer schools. It would seem to me that the district is creating a policy that is not accessible to many.
3) Schools for which a waiver is granted must take all relevant district and state assessments and must show gains on those assessments for all segments of their population in order to continue using the alternative basic instructional materials. If gains are not made other multiple years, the waiver may be revoked and the school will be required to return to district-adopted basic instructional materials.
The "for all segments of their population" was added by Director Martin-Morris and has that NCLB-feel to it. I'm not disagreeing as there is no number attached to it but, again, for some schools with more challenging populations, it might be a difficult bar.
Also, the policy says it goes from the principal to the EX Director. It is reviewed and a recommendation made to the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning. That gets reviewed and then those two recommendations go to the Superintendent. The Superintendent's decision is final (with no appeal).
Peter pointed out there wasn't language about existing waiver schools, period of time for a waiver or newly opened schools.
Betty then asked, "What if more than half the schools asked for this?"
It was kind of funny to see everyone look around the table. Kathy Thompson quickly said that it was the Superintendent's decision and Holly Ferguson said they hadn't had a a lot of inquiries and if there was interest, they would have asked.
I had to smile. Of course there aren't inquiries. One, the district hasn't exactly been open to this idea and I'm sure that got transmitted to principals. Two, there is NO policy so no one has any idea of how to ask.
Harium said Betty's point was valid and Peter said it was the Superintendent's decision.
I left after this discussion.