Thursday, December 15, 2011

Short Term Capacity Management Proposals

The Board and the public got our first look at what is very likely to be the set of solutions to capacity management problems for the coming year.

Here is the presentation made to a Board Operations Committee of the Whole last night.

This presentation lays out the need for additional capacity - school by school - and the solution for each school.

I'll give you the short answer: portables.

49 comments:

Jon said...

Things that caught my attention:

They're adding portables everywhere.

They are not reopening lots of buildings quickly, not even some of the ones that are easier and cheaper to reopen like Van Asselt. Only building being opened quickly is Boren. Portables, not reopening buildings, is the solution they recommend, lots and lots of portables.

Reopening Lincoln for full time use isn't even considered as an option.

They don't want to add Spectrum to the undercapacity Lowell building, no reason given other than that they want more time to consider it.

Projection on costs of portables ($135k to buy, $35k + $1.3-2k/month to lease) seem optimistic (about half of what has been reported elsewhere).

The discussion is entirely of elementary schools. There is no plan for middle or high schools (or thought toward solutions at the elementary level that also help middle and high school capacity like K-8 option schools).

They claim all of these recommendations come after community input (and my understanding is that the community input would have led to quite different recommendations, much more of a focus on opening buildings and new alternative programs). Maybe they took some community input, but they seem to have ignored it.

Eric B said...

Did they post up the data on input given at the community meetings? As I recall, this largely matched the preferred alternatives given at community meetings. Notably, the plans for K or 5th grade at Boren were dropped, as was the Montessori preschool takeover (Graham Hill?). I was never convinced that the student population that would go into Van Asselt would support a school long term, particularly without adjusting boundaries and making it an attendance area school. Finally, it's important to get kids into Boren this year, since the costs to re-open go up by 10 times if they wait another year.

Middle and high school planning will happen later this year. I think it's important to have some kind of plan from the Advanced Learning Advisory Committee on what to do with Spectrum and APP at Lincoln before they make program changes. It would feel pretty stupid to put Spectrum in at Lowell and then move it out again next year after getting a better plan for advanced learning programs.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't like the Boren plan of Ks and 5th graders. Maybe Ks who don't already have a school experience but to take kids who have had 5 years in a school and then take them out and put them somewhere else seems wrong.

Again, I am so worried.

I get this is interim but we need to more on fast to the next phase as it is bearing down on us. In 8-10 years, the light rail at Roosevelt will be there and if they get the density they expect, it would likely change the boundaries around Roosevelt. What then?

I wish I had great computer skills because I would create a map with overlays of programs and services and populations so that you could clearly see gaps and plan accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had great computer skills because I would create a map with overlays of programs and services and populations so that you could clearly see gaps and plan accordingly.

Great idea Melissa. Perhaps one of our new board members could request this from Staff. It seems like a no-brainer to see what the District really looks like.

Solvay Girl

Anonymous said...

The link to the presentation isn't working.

yumpears

JSIS parent said...

Who can we contact to complain about this? I thought they had settled on changing the boundaries for JSIS, and now they're back to music room/portables and only if those aren't "enough" changing the boundaries. This is MADNESS.

JSIS parent said...

I just sent an email to Sherry Carr. No idea if it will do any good.

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

So JSIS has to take on portables, despite the fact that all three of the neighboring schools have room.

McDonald has lots of room.

Why incur the extra cost of a portable when a sufficiently substantial boundary redraw obviates the need? The boundary redraw will have to come eventually anyway.

What a waste of money.

Anonymous said...

Can I make a request for links at the next level up for pdfs & presentations? Then I look at where they were sourced, as well as downloading the link myself (and, sometimes, things are just organized enough that I can find other related info).

Not sure what the right way to do it, but, I think I'm thinking a link to the sponsoring page, followed by a link to the specific pdf.

(zb)

Anonymous said...

Why do the Boren costs go up 10X if deferred for a year? I'm presuming there's some technicality related to requirements for upgrades?

It's pretty clear to me that cost is driving much of the decision making.

Are they being short-sighted about cost? Are there places where opening schools would be cost effective, but being missed in the analysis?

Or are we really just in a place where cost is driving all the decision making?

(zb)

Charlie Mas said...

I believe the costs associated with Boren are steeply higher in 2013 than in 2012 because the building would be over two years empty at that point.

After two years of non-occupancy, the rumor says, the District loses some sort of "occupancy permit". After that, the entire building has to be brought all the way up to the current code before it can be occupied again.

So let's say that the old code called for a fire alarm every 100 feet and the new code calls for a fire alarm every 50 feet. A continuously occupied building doesn't have to install the additional alarms but a new building or a newly occupied building does. If Boren is left vacant for another year and THEN a school is moved into it, the City would regard it as newly re-occupied and require the District to bring the building up to the current code. If Boren is occupied in the fall of 2012, however, the City will regard it as continuously occupied and not require any work to the new code, only to the old code.

I have never seen any source documents on any of this, but I have heard the story dozens of times.

Tracy @ WSB said...

The two-year clause is in here:
http://www.cityofseattle.net/dclu/Publications/cam/cam314.pdf

TR said...

Sorry, URL got cut short, let's try that again:
http://is.gd/ZVdhIw

Anonymous said...

One alternative that doesn't impose a capital cost suggested in these comments is to prioritize re-drawing the John Stanford boundaries v adding portables.

Would the community support this option without grandfathering siblings?

Are there remaining transition exceptions in the system? or would grandfathering be a new precedent? Would that then mean that all boundary changes would include grandfathering for siblings?

(zb)

FedMomof2 said...

Good news that the K and 5th grade to Boren ideas were not selected.

Does anyone know why STEM is the program of choice to drive attendance of Boren as an option school? Did the West Seattle community voice their interests in this kind of program for an option school? I am in interested in learning what drove the program selection process.

Also, does the creation of a K-5 STEM program in W.S. now create the need for a similar middle school STEM program? We have a STEM high school, so.... If so, would it need to be in W.S. or not?

Thanks for any insights!

FedMomof2

FedMomof2 said...

Good news that the K and 5th grade to Boren ideas were not selected.

Does anyone know why STEM is the program of choice to drive attendance of Boren as an option school? Did the West Seattle community voice their interests in this kind of program for an option school? I am in interested in learning what drove the program selection process.

Also, does the creation of a K-5 STEM program in W.S. now create the need for a similar middle school STEM program? We have a STEM high school, so.... If so, would it need to be in W.S. or not?

Thanks for any insights!

FedMomof2

Anonymous said...

As much as it offends me, the idea of filling the population starved Madison with elementary school kids is still less expensive than opening Boren.

Keep Denny and Sealth over crowded with portables and make Madison a 5-8... Maybe only the "year ahead" kids get put there so they can be sixth graders instead of fifth. Then they can graduate early...
Or move 8th graders to the starved WSHS and make Madison a 5-7. Still less expensive to use space being made available in these two NEWLY remodeled buildings.


-Glad it's not my issue anymore, but it still chaps my hide.

Eric B said...

ZB, I think they (we) are trying to minimize the number of schools that are re-opened. In addition to the capital costs, adding a school brings in a whole big whack of operating costs as well (heat, lights, principal, janitor, etc.). Boren is a temporary site for whatever happens in the WS North region. I believe that the top option was to have the students move over to Fairmount Park in the long term. That may push more students into the WS North area, but not sure how the attendance areas will work.

I'll post the numbers once I'm home, but I think the music room and portables at JSIS got higher marks from the people at the community engagement meetings than changing the boundaries. If people felt really strongly about this, then they should have shown up and voted.

GIS software makes the maps that Melissa refers to. They definitely use it at District HQ, but I don't think the databases are generally available to the public. Back in the beginning of the NSAP, Tracy Libros was lukewarm to giving me a copy of the database, which was far more than I expected.

kellie said...

I can second Eric on this. I am not a fan of the portables everywhere strategy. That said, a portable adds known capacity to a specific building and as such there is a reasonable expectation about both quality and attendance of that newly added capacity. Quality matters to families and known attendance matters to a district with limited fiscal resources.

From a global and fiscal perspective, it makes more sense to open a school than to portable every school in the area into insensibility. However, opening a new school means picking an assignment plan for that school and that is not an easy choice.

A new attendance area school means you need to redraw boundaries - a very painful process for both staff and the community, not to mention the split siblings. Moreover, this is very time consuming and as we all know - tick tock goes the clock on this, we are out of time.

A new option school avoids the messy boundary disputes. However, this creates a lot of fiscal uncertainty. There is uncertainty about whether or not that particular option will draw families away from the over crowded schools. The bottom line is that the school is overcrowded because people want it. The new option has to be more attractive that an already attractive school. That is a tall order.

Moreover, in general options schools have two types of families - those that LOVE that particular option and those that HATE their mandatory assignment and will take anything. The odds of getting it right are slim.

Everyone hates portables but they like portables more than boundary changes and spending a lot of money on a solution that might not solve your problem.

kellie said...

regarding STEM in West Seattle.

I want to be clear that I don't live in West Seattle and I have not been involved in any process about which type of program to put into Boren.

Now that said, I have a reasonable guess as to why staff focused on STEM.

In response to the needs for additional capacity, the district repurposed Summit into Jane Addams and opened 5 new schools. With the exception of Queen Anne elementary, those new schools were largely comprised of families that couldn't get into any other school.

The first year of Jane Addams was comprised of a lot of mandatory assignments to very surprised families. Fortunately, Debbie Nelson is one of the finest leaders in the district and she managed to make a lot of things work. Sandpoint, McDonald and Viewlands similarly were comprised of lots of families that couldn't get into another school through the choice system.

With this as a precedent, that means opening a new option school, without an option for mandatory assignments in dramatically over crowded West Seattle North is a risky option.

QA Stem was an enrollment success beyond anyone's expectations. As such, I can see that it would be enticing to try to repeat this success. I am not as optimistic that this is such an easy thing to replicate.

QA Stem was the choice of a very active neighborhood. They also had a very successful and well known local Principal as their leader. I hope that there are similar components to a West Seattle Option school.

Bird said...

Are there remaining transition exceptions in the system? or would grandfathering be a new precedent? Would that then mean that all boundary changes would include grandfathering for siblings?

Unfortunately, the sib survey JSIS parent recently did indicate that there are about 40-45 incoming Kindergarten siblings for the next couple of years.

So there is probably no boundary change, other than a zero sized attendance area, that gets all the sibs in and doesn't also require portables.

If they had fixed the boundaries or made the school an option school, and we hadn't had successive classes of 100, we wouldn't be in this position.

Eric B said...

I apologize, I was completely wrong the community engagement found more support for boundary changes at JSIS than repurposing the music room or the child care room. The latter two got an average of 1.7-1.8, while boundaries got a 3.2 on a scale of 1-4. Portables were not mentioned in the community engagement meetings.

PPtSSA said...

STEM in West Seattle will be a Singapore Math School...if it is not then it won't get any parents to buy in. It will be a rigorous science school that shuns District science kits...that will attract parents.

STEM will work if the District leaves the community alone to do the job of teaching science and math.

JSIS parent said...

@Eric B: But which way does that scale go?

Jon said...

My prediction is that the district gets the Board on the path of adding portables with their estimate of $135k to buy, $35k + $1.3-2k/month to lease, then, once it is too late to change, they say it actually costs 50-100% more, but that it is too hard to change now.

I hate to be so cynical, but I think the driving factor in the district's plan is unwillingness to admit that the closing of schools in 2009 was in error. We would all be better off if district leadership would just admit that the 2009 closings were a mistake. We have to reopen schools now and pay the costs. Adding portables, in the long-term, will cost us more, a lot more.

Anonymous said...

Sad to hear that Lowell won't get a Spectrum program. Since APP left, that school doesn't have much else going for it academically.

Doesn't FACMAC have any other plans to use the building? Lowell only has 8 classes now and isn't likely to get much bigger next year.

That's a lot of rooms to leave empty when other schools are crammed to the gills. Hard to believe the district would just leave them that way for another year.

- Curious

Charlie Mas said...

Jon wrote: "We would all be better off if district leadership would just admit that the 2009 closings were a mistake."

They know it. The District has been spending the bulk of their time fixing the mistakes of the past three years. You think they don't know that? They know it. How would it help for them to explicitly state it?

They won't be done until they have un-done nearly every decision made by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. Nearly all of her decisions have proven wrong and need to be corrected.

Charlie Mas said...

Curious wrote: "Since APP left, that school doesn't have much else going for it academically."

Really? What about the ALO?

If Lowell can't make an ALO work, why should we entrust them with Spectrum?

Is Lowell the best location for the Spectrum program for the Washington Middle School Service Area? Wouldn't Madrona K-8 be a better choice? It's more central to the area. Madrona has unused capacity. It would signal to the community that Madrona is ready and able to meet the needs of high performing students. Also, with Madrona, we would get some needed middle school Spectrum capacity.

Let's face it, Lowell should close as an elementary school and the operation should be moved back to T T Minor. That would make for a better geographic distribution of our elementary schools.

Eric B said...

For the ratings above, 4 means strong support, 1 means no support.

Anonymous said...

So STEM K-5 is code for being able to deviate from the mandated district math and science curriculum? Can you also forgo the Readers/Writers workshop?

Thanks for clarifying.

Anonymous said...

As bold as opening Boren may seem, it is band-aid - and a small one at that - on an already critical patient that needs radical re-constructive surgery.

SPS is institutionalizing chronic overcrowding by not getting ahead of this problem, i.e., not even considering making available enough space to relieve today's overcrowding. It gets worse every year, yet, they aren't even discussing putting enough space on the table to deal with the problems right now.

Come on folks, quit dithering and anemically responding to the problem. Bite the bullet and get ahead of the problem. For once. Good grief! WSDWG

Bird said...

I apologize, I was completely wrong the community engagement found more support for boundary changes at JSIS than repurposing the music room or the child care room.

kellie, aptly pointed out that you would think that families in the school would want to take on portables over boundary changes to avoid splitting siblings.

It's notable that this is not the case at JSIS.

Why not?

I think everyone at the school realizes and has understood since the beginning that the boundaries are too big, and that taking in yet another class of 100 just means kicking the can down the road, adding even more families with siblings that will have to be split in a boundary redraw.

It's crazy-making to have to go to enrollment meeting where staff say we must pick one inadequate short term solution because it's too late this year to pick the best long term solution. --as though we didn't know this was going to be a problem until a couple of months ago.

It's so sad to see Sherry Carr at these meetings, always listening, never effective.

dj said...

Charlie, I think if you were to close Lowell and reopen T.T. Minor, you would have to put in some incredibly attractive programming to get parents to enroll their kids. Remember, T.T. Minor was underenrolled before it was closed. A lot of the families at the time had been kicked there from a closed MLK. The Montessori program was part of the kicked-from-MLK, and started small with one classroom. By the time T.T. Minor was closed, the Montessori program had expanded and had a waitlist.

That program is now at Leschi, and (I hope, anyhow) the district isn't planning to move it again.

So you combine the history of the school with the fact that moving populations of kids around doesn't tend to thrill families (and, depending on when you closed Lowell, some of those kids might be ones who already had been moved from T.T. Minor to Lowell), and I think you would have to do something appealing for T.T. Minor in order to persuade families to send their kids. All you have to do is look 15 blocks East to Madrona to see evidence that Central families don't just enroll their kids in a school because they live by it (and, btw, you could almost certainly solve the "portables at McGilvra" problem by making Madrona more appealing and then moving the Madrona/McGilvra line slightly north. There is no justification for having one school with a forest of portables adjacent to another school with hundreds of empty seats).

Lori said...

Charlie wrote, "Let's face it, Lowell should close as an elementary school and the operation should be moved back to T T Minor. That would make for a better geographic distribution of our elementary schools."

Intriguing idea. Then Lowell could replace Lincoln as an interim site, particularly for elementary kids since Lincoln is not ideal for this age group. Hey, then northend APP could be housed at Lowell until a permanent home is found. :-)

WV says "proqopic" which is an adjective that either means "brilliant and insightful" or "full or snark"

SeattleSped said...

And what about the high-needs disabled children at Lowell? What are they, chopped liver?!

Lori said...

SeattleSped, I'm sorry if my post offended you. It wasn't meant to be offensive, truly. It was just an attempt at levity, borne out of the frustration of not knowing where my child will be going to school for 5th grade. It's hard to see all these capacity conversations swirling around with northend elementary APP specifically left out of the equation.

TechyMom said...

So, I agree that making Madrona attractive is something that needs to happen (and I have ideas on how, below), but...

Adding a 3rd portable at McGilvra is not a big deal. The school is not crowded at all, and the lot is huge. The only real facilities problem with making McGilvra a bit bigger is that the lunch room is TINY. And, I say this as someone who thinks the ideal size for an elementary school is 250-300 students. With a 3rd portable, McGilvra will still be around 300 students.

I also think that (at least some of) Downtown, First hill, SLU, and Belltown, and maybe Lower Queen Anne should be in Lowell's attendance area. For some of these area's it's closer than Hay, for others, it's not much farther. There is good bus service (#8 no transfer) to Washington. Hay is packed, Lowell is empty, and their attendance areas touch.

If Madrona could attract some middle school students away from Washington, it could work. I'd bet a mushroom model K-8 Language Immersion or STEM, plus ALO or Spectrum, would fill it. I know a lot of local families aren't thrilled about the size of Washington, and TOPS takes very few 6th graders. Oh, and the #2 from Queen Anne via Downtown goes right to Madrona for those middle schoolers.

Anonymous said...

I think Charlie and Techy Mom make good points: We really need to ask if the district needs Lowell as an elementary school.

Doesn't it make more sense to invest resources in building up Madrona instead and either move Lowell's ALO students there, or disperse them among other nearby schools? Sounds like there might be room?

- ad

TechyMom said...

I think we need both Lowell and Madrona. There are a lot of housing units in south lake union, belltown, first hill and lower queen anne. With the economy making walkable apartments more interesting, and the trend of raising kids in cities, I think the district is underestimating the growth in these areas. Hay is already packed. There's no room for these kids at Hay. There is room for them at Lowell, and moving some kids from Hay to Lowell will solve both problems.

I'm not sure there's room for this group at Washington, or for the growth currently happening in k-5 in the area between the ship canal and Jackson. That's why I'd like to see an attractive mushroom k-8 at Madrona (or a reopened Meany, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards).

I also don't think that it's ok to kick Hamlin Robinson out of the TT Minor buildign after all the work they've done on it. It's legal, but I don't think it's ok.

SeattleSped said...

Actually, Lori, I was responding more to Charlie's post. Thanks for the consideration, though...

SeattleSped said...

Sometimes it's like yelling into an echo chamber...

Charlie Mas said...

Thanks for clarifying asked if schools can choose not to use Readers/Writers workshop.

Incredible as it may seem, Readers/
Writers workshop is NOT a Board-adopted curriculum. No school is required to use it. There are no Board-adopted materials for elementary literacy.

Charlie Mas said...

As for the special education programs at Lowell, as I have written before, they would move to T T Minor along with the rest of the Lowell students. When I say "Lowell" I mean all of the students in the building. Why would anyone assume anything else?

dj said...

TechyMom, I am not saying that another portable at McGilvra next year would be the end of the world. But the projections are IIRC that McGilvra will be 20% overenrolled in five years. So I expect more portables. And even three portables seems like three too many when you have a building with space so close by.

I do think that the cafeteria issue at McGilvra, and, relatedly, the fact that it is hard to have all-school events there because there is no space for them, makes that building less than idea for taking on a lot more students.

kellie said...

@ Bird,

I agree that JSIS is the exception to every general statement that you can make both about capacity and about this plan. (closely followed by Schmitz Park)

This plan is very portable heavy but it is mostly in places that don't have a lot portables already. I think it should be standard on these presentations that every listed school has the number of portables already on site as well as the percentage of capacity in portables.The easiest way to do this is to simply include the total number of teaching stations.

If that happened, you would NEVER have a proposal that included adding more portables at Schmitz Park. At some point, the entire school is a portable village with a small building attached.

Back to JSIS, it does not escape the notice of anyone that people will continue to move into the area to be able to access that program. Under the NSAP, the district can only control the capacity at option schools. Sooner or later, someone is going to have to acknowledge that you can't draw the boundary small enough and convert the school to option status. IMO, the sooner the better. The constant churn over the boundaries is not good for anyone and at least right now the three neighboring schools have space. That won't last forever.

wsnorth said...

Many of us in West Seattle have long advocated for an elementary language immersion school - not a STEM school.

The solution is so obvious and simple, yet so painful for the district to admit. REOPEN the closed schools and set boundaries back to pre-NSAP. Problem solved. 100%,

Justice said...

Adding portables everywhere but what are they going to put in them?

From the Classified:
SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT SSD has surplus furniture and equipment available to any State recognized public or private school in Washington State. For information, please call 206-252-0568.

Oh I get it, give away the surplus so they can buy new and put the School District further in debt.

Anonymous said...

There is an answer to that!

Years ago, I spoke to facilities about a portable that was being installed at my kid's school. They said it was "cheaper" to get the new chairs, etc for several reasons. The labor charge for facilities to move the supplies to the school was almost the same price as the new stuff as the price of the new chairs included set up and delivery. Also the new chairs were "new" and had a longer life expectancy.

In other words, she said that the surplus stuff was really not useful. Anything that was really useful in surplus get poached by principals and teaching staff that visit surplus. Much of it was from closed schools and had been not in use for over a decade.

north seattle mom