Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BEX IV Meeting at Mercer

I attended the BEX IV meeting at Mercer middle school. It was horrible.

There was a presentation followed by questions off cards followed by questions asked aloud. I have no idea why there were two different question methods. It didn't matter. No matter what the question, the answer was gobbledy-gook.

I asked why the District is determined to create 700 additional elementary seats in the McClure service area (200 at Queen Anne and 500 at South Lake Union) when the District's enrollment projections show that the capacity shortfall is only 70 seats. Please remember that this "shortfall" doesn't account for any students who may leave the area for APP or an option program outside the service area. Ms McEvoy, someone I had previously regarded as candid and apolitical, gave me a bizarre and contorted response about - believe it or not - APP. She seemed to say that the District was building the school at South Lake Union for APP. When I asked her if that was what she meant, she said no in very strong terms. I was finally, after way too much effort, able to assist her in saying that the estimate of enrollment demand in the McClure service area was totally wrong. So why didn't she just say that? What are the correct numbers? She doesn't know. They don't have another estimate, but they believe that the current estimate - the one they are presenting - is completely wrong.

Community engagement isn't going to work if the District is so resistant to the possibility that they are wrong about something - especially when they know they are wrong about it.

My question was just one of several in which citizens asked rational questions based in fact and got nonsensical answers from Pegi McEvoy. People asked about the small size of the middle school planned for Meany. People asked why the construction comes before the program planning instead of after it. People asked why the plans to add capacity in the Washington service area also far outstrips the estimated need for capacity. People asked what benefit comes from closing Roxhill. Pegi McEvoy did not offer a rational response to any of these questions. She was a disaster. She could not have damaged the District's credibility more if she tried.

38 comments:

Jon said...

Yes, that jibes with the impression I have gotten of Seattle Public Schools capacity planning administration for the last few years, since the school closings, that they use simplistic analyses that are often obviously wrong, are defensive and unwilling to admit error or adjust the first plan they throw together, and delay and delay then finally use crisis politics to force their initial plan though as the only possible solution.

The question is, what can we do about it? We're all stuck with this office as it is. How can we fix (or at least mitigate) the dysfunction?

mirmac1 said...

Yeah, I got a garbled non-answer last week on just how much impact the darling K-5 STEM at Boren was having on capacity issues in WS.

Po3 said...

QA capacity numbers? McClure is not full, nor is QA Elementary and they haven't brought in portatables to handle the "short-term" capacity issues.

So I have a hard time believing they need 700 seats. 70-100 seems about right actually, which means that they need to fill their schools and use a few portables before a $32 million school is built.

Oh and isn't there also space at TOPS?

Come on, my BS meter is ringing loud and clear and would really like to know who/what is driving this SLU project.

Charlie Mas said...

Everyone I spoke with privately acknowledged that the entire BEX IV process is completely ass-backwards. They are deciding what to build and where before they determine their need for buildings and locations.

Program placement planning needs to come before construction planning.

Every single person, Dr. Thompson, Mr. Wolf, Ms McEvoy, everyone acknowledged that the process was wrong-headed, yet none of them believed that they had any ability or authority to fix it - or to even stand up and say that it was backwards.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Pegi said at the Eckstein meeting that Capital Projects decides project (after the process) and THEN C&I decide programs. That's backwards.

This issue of not having data at the ready for these meetings also came up at Eckstein. Why they would think that enrollment numbers wouldn't be important to have on-hand is hard to understand.

Anonymous said...

Po3
You are correct in the McClure is not full.

But you are wrong about the overall elementary capacity on Queen Anne.

John Hay is more than 100 students over capacity. Queen Anne Elementary (QAE) will be full (at 350) this fall as the enrollment builds from Kindergarten up. Coe is at capacity.

When the district counts enrollment in the McClure cluster, they are NOT including the 250 students currently at QAE. And since QAE is slated for 450 students in the near future, they are way undercounting potential enrollment at McClure.

QAE is slated for BEX IV funding in options 2 and 3. Those dollars are for adding classrooms to accomodate the additional 100 students projected (to 450) as well as a gym and other community spaces i.e. a lunchroom that are non-existent now.

When the property at 4th and Boston was abandoned 20 years ago and deemed unfit for students, the new John Hay was built. Yes, the recent upgrades to the QAE property made is usable for an elementary school but it is not ready for 450 students in any way, shape or form. Current classrooms are 70% of the size of a typical elmentary classroom and there aren't enough to hold the students.

The discussion on QAE needs to be separate from the SLU school discusion. The McClure projections are wrong and QAE needs the upgrade.

QAE Parent

TechyMom said...

Is it possible that the SLU school would be in the Meany middle school area rather than McClure? Depending where the boundaries are, it could pick up some of the growth in first hill and capitol hill, as well as SLU, which would show up as crowding in Washington with the existing maps.

Jon said...

Charlie, interesting that no one thinks they have the ability or authority to fix it, but I'm not sure I understand why not. Can you elaborate? Why can't they just start doing capacity planning and BEX IV planning together? Don't all these people work right next to each other? I must be missing something. What exactly is stopping them? Why don't they just do it?

dan dempsey said...

"She could not have damaged the District's credibility more if she tried."

I had no idea that when it comes to public engagement there was anything there to damage.

(1) TFA => no public engagement (propaganda sessions provided by TFA were substituted for the public engagement)

(2) School Board testimony time reduced to 2 minutes.

.... need I continue? etc. etc. etc.

================

The following is how SPS leadership performs

Every single person, Dr. Thompson, Mr. Wolf, Ms McEvoy, everyone acknowledged that the process was wrong-headed, yet none of them believed that they had any ability or authority to fix it - or to even stand up and say that it was backwards.

WOW -- these folks like the Board and the Superintendent -- show little ability to accomplish much other than serve "the powers that be".

The SPS superintendent, Board, and central administration are apparently simply agents of the Oligarchs no matter what the topic or issue.

Po3 said...

QAE,

Your capacity figures still don't add up to needing 700 seats in the area. And the QAE upgrade creates additional capacity. I am not saying that capacity issues don't need to be discussed for QA; it's when I hear that they are using faulty QA numbers to justify the need for a $32 million SLU school my BS meter sounds.

In a quick real estate search, there are about 20 places for sale right now in SLU. All are studios, 1 or 2 beds. There is one 3 bed for $2.2 million. If I was a parent looking for a place to live, this area would not hit my radar since the places for sale would be small and expensive for a family of 3 or 4.

So, is there some huge development planned that has larger and affordable housing? And if so, when do they break ground on it?

Josh Hayes said...

All right, then, if they don't have the authority (and responsibility) to effect change in a broken policy, who does? Or, more to the point, who do they believe does? The Supe? The Board? The Grand Panjandarum?

Anonymous said...

There's Magnolia school which housed Coe for 1-2 year when Coe was burned down. The reno + the rebuilt cost of Coe after the fire was around $25.5 million.

We got space in QA/ Magnolia cluster.

-sky isn't falling here

Someone said...

That's an excellent way of phrasing it Josh - who do they "think" has the authority? And why aren't they at least asking for permission to change it? The worst that could happen is someone tells them "no" - but it just seems beyond goofy to acknowledge it's backward and then abdicate any need to fix it. But then, come to think of it, how else would SPS operate? aiyiyiyi

Anonymous said...

I have lived on Q.A. for 30 years and we are seeing more young families move here. In the past month 2 homes on our street have gone on the market and received multiple offers. One sold to a young professional couple (who plan on kids) and the other sold to a family with older children.

Some years ago we helped form the Center School, which I believe is an all city high school now. I suspect Ballard H.S. is full now that it is serving Q.A. and Magnolia. It does not surprise me that our elementary schools are busy and these higher enrollments will ripple through middle and high schools later.

If the District wants a SLU school, however, they should get financial support from the businesses whose workers would benefit. Time to step up, Amazon and the Gates Foundation. Just don’t add strings related to unproven ed reform agendas.

Seattle Public Schools need to improve also. They have to stop being emergency capacity planners and get back to academics. The math curriculum must improve but they refuse to look at the data to make adjustments. It sounds like their construction management. No critical thinking.

S parent

Anonymous said...

Po3

I just want to make sure that people understand that the needs for improvements at QAE are real and right now - especially with projections of 450 and neighboring elmentary schools being full/overfull.

The SLU issue I can't speak to - agreed that if that happens, it should be funded by all the companies that are driving growth in that area.

QAE Parent

Charlie Mas said...

QAE parent. We get that Queen Anne Elementary needs additional capacity. The BEX IV plan includes an expansion of the building to add 200 seats. I believe that will address the need.

In the larger perspective, the McClure service area only needs another 70 elementary seats according to the District's enrollment projections. QAE may be overcrowded, but the facilities guys reported last night that Lawton, Blaine, and Hay are under-subscribed.

There is no demand now, nor is there any predicted demand, for the 500 seats proposed at the South Lake Union elementary.

Po3 said...

"There is no demand now, nor is there any predicted demand, for the 500 seats proposed at the South Lake Union elementary."

Yet there are 500 plus living breathing students in Lincoln that need a building.

Ironic.

Charlie Mas said...

One of the most surprising revelations, for me, was the news that the World School is now projected to have an enrollment of only 400. The World School, when it was moved into Meany, was supposed to grow to an enrollment of 600. When did this number change?

Anonymous said...

Charlie,
for real... the facilities guys said Lawton, Blaine and Hay are undersubscribed? Is that way out in the future? Can't be now or in the near future.

Lawton is at capacity I think. I remember from capacity meetings several years ago that portables aren't an option there b/c of the footprint of the school on the property.

Blaine.. not sure whether they're at capacity, but only a few years ago they had to subdivide classrooms (and adding portables maybe???) to accomodate growth.

And I think the kids at Hay are having class in the hall b/c they're packed. Right?

McClure isn't full now but since QAE is an option school and (I was told) isn't counted in the MS enrollment projections. If those kids move the McClure, it'll be full in no time.

That's not to say that other areas of Seattle have a better or worse situation of course.

-shorty

Anonymous said...

Charlie-

Do you know the answer to this question? I was at the Eckstein meeting and about fell out of my chair when they showed that Hamilton had extra capacity for years into the future. Everyone who is in the building, knows that this is not true. Is APP really not counted in projected capacity numbers? From the other posts here, it sounds like elementary option schools also aren't counted in middle school numbers. How can the district possibly get a handle on enrollment if they aren't counting the kids?

-in disbelief

Sick of it said...

Honestly, if you really want to talk over capacity, West Seattle has you covered and then some. SPS really screwed us with the Cooper building closure, and let's see - Fairmount Park a few years back, allowing Westside School to lease E.C. Hughes, etc. We're left with 475 kids in a 325 capacity school (Schmitz Park), most all North End schools already overcrowded, and the South end projected to explode with capacity in the next few years. And let's not forget the decrepit buildings such as Arbor Heights, where kids have to wear COATS in class because of heating issues! STEM - please. I'll be anxiously awaiting the number of kids who actually enroll there to ease capacity at other schools. I'm willing to bet it doesn't do much at all for the already overcrowded North end. We needed a neighborhood school! SPS does a great job at pitting communities against each other - whether that is North vs. South - West Seattle, or North End vs. South End. That's about the only thing they do well.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't suppose it is lost on anyone with a sense of history that Summit K-12, with an enrollment of less than 700, would have been able to share Meany with the World School.

I don't suppose it is lost on anyone with a sense of history that the District pulled NOVA out of Mann and now they want to move it back to Mann.

Anonymous said...

What they seemed to be saying with the numbers is that the Hamilton service area has enough middle school seats for those that live in the Hamilton boundaries. What wasn't shown is that Hamilton, the building, is full.

When they looked at adding portables for individual elementary schools, didn't they look at actual enrollment and overcapacity at each school?

What doesn't make sense is how crowding at individual schools impacts the BEX planning. There's a disconnect between overall numbers and individual schools and programs.

confused

Charlie Mas said...

in disbelief, you are correct. The district does not count the APP students at Hamilton as taking up any of the capacity there. Consequently they perceive that school as having lots of room now and long into the future.

No kidding folks. The District enrollment planning folks count all of the SPS middle school students who live in the Hamilton service area and they count all of the seats at Hamilton and they declare that there is plenty of room at Hamilton for all of them.

They neglect to consider that APP students take up about 350 of those seats so there are 350 less seats than their counts show. They know that. They know that APP is there. They simply choose to ignore the fact. They choose to be wrong.

Let's cast our memories back to the days when the NSAP was proposed. At that time the District staff said that they would consider the programs in the school and then right size the attendance areas for the available seats for neighborhood kids. If Hamilton had a total capacity of 900 and the District expected 300 APP students there, they would say that they had 600 seats available for neighborhood kids.

But that's not what they are doing. They are counting all 900 seats as if they are available for neighborhood kids even though they know that the seats have already been taken.

Lori said...

Has anyone directly asked what the plans are for Hamilton and APP long-term, given the fact that they aren't counting APP in future capacity numbers?

I suspect that they already have a plan, something like moving APP out of Hamilton and up to Wilson Pacific, which BEXIV lists as adding 1,000 new middle school seats.

The only thing that makes sense about not including APP in the Hamilton numbers is if in fact they have already decided to relocate the program but just haven't announced it.

Anonymous said...

I am so frustrated by the horrible planning of the powers that be in this district. A school in SLU is a terrible idea and a slap in the face to the families over here in West Seattle whose schools are bursting at the seams and suffering from woeful neglect. My kid goes to Lafayette, and the school is also hugely overcrowded and the facility is in bad shape (not as bad as Arbor Heights, but still pretty bad.). How is it that my kid's teacher can't get peeling paint fixed, but we can talk about $32 million for a new school in a part of town where it is not needed? I am so very unimpressed with the lack of solid leadership and misguided decisions of the past which have led us to this point of crisis in West Seattle (yes, crisis). How can these people seriously consider closing yet another school in West Seattle (Roxhill) while they open a pet project school in SLU? It is not right. It must be stopped. I wish I knew how and I wish I had any faith that there was real leadership at district who care about the kids in this part of town and might actually listen.

Frustrated North Delridge Mom

dj said...

I don't actually see why, if a school were needed in SLU, it would be incumbent on Amazon and Gates to raise money for it.

I do have a question about how the district goes about choosing where to open schools and/or build schools. Under the old system, if a school filled, you capped it and additional kids had to go elsewhere; now, obviously, kid's are entitled to a particular school. But what school? As I posted in another thread, there is a half-empty school near SLU right now (Lowell). Is it that kids in SLU (if all of this new development materializes and indeed is filled with kid's) specifically are entitled to a school within easy walking distance? I'm less interested in what the right answer is to that question (my opinion is that it is cheaper to bus kids a short distance than to open a new school, but others might think the importance of a walking-distance school outweighs cost savings) than I am in whether the district has any guidelines or policies according to which they make these decisions.

Dave doc said...

Ms. McEvoy is way over her head. She was a nurse in the district prior to whoever put her in this lofty position (her crony Enfield) without any credentials other than good first aid classes she used to give. Possibly the new super will be able to see throufh the smoke and mirrors at the district headquarters. Ask her about CPR and she will have ALL the answers.

Anonymous said...

Ms. McEvoy may be in over her head. But not because she's a nurse who knows CPR. I know a few good RNs who are having successful careers as congressional legislators and hospital administrators. They are competent and capable because they can lead, manage, plan, analyse, troubleshoot, and most importantly know how to juggle workplace politics. I think Ms. McEvoy is in a tough place. The Superintendent has gone AWOL. Ms. McEvoy has few answers for the powerless many and many answers to the powerful few.

real world

mirmac1 said...

Real World, I don't accept that. There is no reason to believe that McEvoy will be gone the same day as Enfield.

Yet, she must feel empowered to do the right thing, speak the truth, not just soothing maxims.

IF she wants to be taken seriously, then that is what she must do.

ws said...

Hear, hear Sick of it.

Projections for Schmitz Park next year. All of 5th, all of 4th, all of 3rd and one 2nd grade class will be in portables next year (15 portables total).

Only K and 1st will fully be in the school building itself. Its beyond ridiculous.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I don't actually see why, if a school were needed in SLU, it would be incumbent on Amazon and Gates to raise money for it."

I would agree if the issue was "needed." It isn't. It's wanted and there's a different between a need and a want.

There is no data that either the City or the district has presented. There are other schools in that area that have room. We have schools with buildings that are over-capacity and/or in very poor condition.

And where is this land to build on? Hard to build a school on air.

Josh Hayes said...

ws, that's just astonishing - it's as if there isn't really a school there, but some sort of Hooverville. I knew overcrowding was bad there, but I had no idea it was that bad. Thanks for the terse, grim, truth.

Sick of it said...

Oh, and ONE set of restrooms for the entire school at Schmitz Park! Yet, STEM is supposed to affect the enrollment at SP next year. Please. Schmitz Park is actually a good school with a great principal, utiizing Singapore Math, with a very active PTA. Oh, and in a nice neighborhood next to the actual Schmitz Park. I'm sure there are some folks who are intrigued by STEM, but let's face it, it's at Boren, and it's still an experiment! A new school is badly needed. Yet, I also see the issues with Arbor Heights and agree that they need a new school too. Reality? Will West Seattle REALLY get two brand-new schools, PLUS reopen Fairmount Park or EC Hughes for STEM? I have no faith in SPS that this will actually happen.

Also, I believe I saw some data that showed that Madison would have excess seats in the future. How can that be, when ALL of the North WS elementaries are basically bursting at the seams? Does anyone know the actual capacity of Madison?

Melissa Westbrook said...

How does Schmitz Park feel about moving to a new site?

mirmac1 said...

Sick of it,

The capacity problems are in the K-2 grades, a bubble that won't hit Madison until say 2015. Yes, ironic that Madison will suffer reduced allocation because of how the boundaries were redrawn for MS attendance areas, while Lafayette has well over 500 kids.

Is is unfortuante that those who pushed the K-5 STEM faddish bandaid were not thinking of the other 2,500 K-5 in WS.

Sick of it said...

Well, the old Genessee Hill site is only maybe 4 blocks away from Schmitz Park. From what I understand, Genessee (old Pathfinder) would be the site of the new school as there is more space at that site and the lot is level (Schmitz is not). From what I can tell, most all would have no issues moving. As for what they would do with the old Schmitz building - who knows, but I believe there is some sort of protection involved because the land was donated by the Schmitz Family for the sole purpose of building a school...95% sure it can never be sold off.

Charlie Mas said...

I have heard from some folks at the World School and the District is completely wrong about the prospective size of that school. They still expect to need room for 600 students. I don't know where the District got the 400 student figure.