As usual, though, they ran out of time as the staff couldn't get to thru the presentation in the time allotted. 9I know staff wants to explain but they waste time at the beginning going over what the Board already knows. It's fine to have a longer written presentation but that doesn't mean going over every page during the presentation.) There was also this document, Service Area Analysis.
The community meeting next week on BEX/Capacity Management on Tuesday the 11th was noted. We were told there would be some way to listen to the meeting via computer but I'll have to get details on how that will work.
It was noted that Phil Brockman, Executive Director of K-12 Operations, is leading the work on program placement.
Kay Smith-Blum noted that slide 8 talked about the "equity and access framework" and that they had said they would have one last year and still don't. She said she felt it was important to get done. DeBell said they would talk about this at the end of the presentation and Pegi McEvoy said that they asked Brockman to do this work because it has to be integrated with T&L.
Tracy Libros in Enrollment went over a few student assignment issues. She said this year's transition plan should be the last one. I did finally get what was meant by this:
Spectrum 5th graders eligible will be assigned to Spectrum at middle school (can switch to gen ed).
They mean ANY student eligible (but not necessarily in a Spectrum program in elementary) will be automatically assigned to Spectrum in middle school (but can opt out).
They have no permanent site yet for K-5 STEM.
They appear to be ready to bring in a distance tiebreaker. And, IMPORTANT TO NOTE because this is not what was said a couple of days ago when I wrote my thread about this last transition plan - What is approved for the transition plan WILL STAY IN EFFECT for the future.
Director Peaslee asked why distance wasn't used for high schools if BEX IV building is going to cause boundaries to be redrawn (as it is).
Tracy said distance is primarily an elementary effect as middle and high schools have wider boundaries.
Peaslee pressed on and said there were concerns in Ballard over where the line would be drawn between Ballard High and Ingraham High.
Director Carr stepped in and said that there were the 10% high school set asides. She talked on about how this was for integration and access, etc.
DeBell also said that a distance tiebreaker for high school would negate the 10% set asides.
This is near nonsense as there are NOT 10% set asides (it is based on the size of the freshman class) AND it has not been possible to have them in most cases for most high schools.
They effectively don't exist and so I don't understand this pretense that they are real. It is entirely hit or miss for parents and students if that opportunity exists for the high school they want to access.
Of course, no one - staff or Board - said this.
They then moved on to the issue of ending grandfathered transportation for students using it to continue on at a school they had been enrolled at before the NSAP.
It is quite clear that staff want to extend it and I'm not sure the Board got full information.
The issue is this - there are schools that may receive more students because of it and they are worried about those outcomes vis a vis capacity management.
But wait, let's think this through. It is just as likely that students leaving a school might relieve overcrowding stress as create it by moving to their attendance area school. In fact, many students might have stayed at their original school because it was a more popular school so it would seem very possible that their exit might mean less crowding.
I recall that the number is about 1800 students district-wide. I would guess that most parents won't want to pull their child from a school that he or she is already established at (even if they have to figure out their own transportation). And, the movement might even relieve some crowding.
Director Patu asked about Orca being worried about 200 students who will lose their transportation so this question is already out there in the ether.
I can see this being a problem (as it was noted) at schools like Orca, TOPS, etc. but as Director Carr pointed out, part of the NSAP was to save transportation costs. She also said if it were mostly older students (meaning 4/5th graders in elementary), the issue would be gone soon.
DeBell did say something kind of funny at this point "Some 4th and 5th graders might think it kind of cool to have a Metro pass." Director Peaslee pointed out that many students in big cities ride public transportation to school but many also walk to their closest school via "walking school buses."
This moved the discussion to about Slide 12 where we are told that, yet again, "capacity verification" has been made and it did change. Frankly, this is so much smoke and mirrors. The district is desperate for room and it looks like they are going to take almost every available space in buildings. It also notes:
Where lower program capacities have been established, many schools will need to continue to operate at previous (higher) capacities pending planned construction.
Lucy Morello noted that some secondary schools had "teacher buy-downs with fewer students."
Slide 13 has Closed/Leased Facilities but did not name all of them. Hughes and the Lake City property could likely be available but my read is the district doesn't want to make them available.
Slide 14 also mentions where capital funding can be found but there is no mention of federal dollars (which do exist but it would take work to get them). The district does have a lobbyist; can't we send him to see Murray, Cantwell or any of our Congressional reps?
There is also the curious case of Slide 15 which tries to show how some transportation savings could occur AND the costs for opening new schools. Director Carr tried valiantly to get to the heart of this issue but staff stuck to this idea that these costs were just staffing.
As this talk proceeded, Director Smith-Blum brought up a key issue - playground space. Many elementaries already have portables and if you bring on more, you have less playground space. She was especially worried for Stevens as she knows that school well. President DeBell noted that these compromises needed to be vetted to communities to see what their responses are.
There are costs to opening a building that may or may not be covered by BEX funds. It's things like moving costs (both for new furniture but also teacher items) as well as some technology costs. It is worrying when these costs are not acknowledged out loud (or even questioned) by either staff or the Board.
They then went over slides specific to middle school service areas. Staff says that portables will be needed in many places where grandfathered transportation would be sunsetting. Again, I'm not sure how they can be so sure on this issue how many students would stay or go.
I was quite surprised to see the need for so many at Van Asselt at the AAA building as that is a K-5 elementary in a middle school building. They must have quite a large boundary if they need more space.
One big issue for a couple of areas of the city (namely, Eckstein, Hamilton and West Seattle) - annexing some students off-site for a couple of years. While I can see some downsides (and there are surely both to this idea), I think for a couple of years, it's just not the end of the world. (That said, I'd get it in writing that it isn't a forever deal.)
So where would this be?
- West Seattle elementary would have its kindergarten classes at Boren (co-housing with K-5 STEM). Again, some downsides but on the upside, perhaps opportunities for those kids to access some of the kindergarten STEM programming. Also, Schmitz Park might have their kindergartens at K-5 STEM. (I think it would be one school's or the other's, not both.)
- the other option would be to move the 5th graders at Schmitz Park to Madison Middle School
- Hamilton APP 6th graders (APP at Lincoln 5th graders) at Lincoln. This actually doesn't seem all that odd to me precisely because of the closeness of the two schools and the APP program. Again, it's one year and I would believe those students would have access to much of what Hamilton offers. I would NOT support any roll-up of these students to John Marshall.
- Eckstein's entire 6th grade could be annexed to John Marshall. This wasn't on the slides but I know it has been considered. This may be unlikely as staff says "they don't need additional seats." I heard from one parent there is a hallway in Eckstein called "suicide alley." It sounds like it's getting pretty cozy over there.
Keep in mind, while these ideas would relieve the overcrowding, they add transportation costs.
FACMAC does NOT support this idea of annexing students.
Since these are such area-specific suggestions, I would hope that the district would have specific community meetings just for this discussion.
What was interesting were schools NOT on these lists. JSIS, Eckstein, McDonald - aren't they all full or near full? It was noted that Laurelhurst had been complaining about losing money over underenollment but had since taken in Special Ed and ELL programs.
I had to leave at this point so I did not hear the FACMAC response.
I continue to worry over how fast this is moving with so many uncertainties and moving parts.
December 11th - Community Meeting at JSCEE
December 19th - Work Session on BEX/Capacity
January 9th - Intro of Final Plan
January 23rd - Action on Final Plan
Feb. 13th - BEX IV/Operations levies vote