Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Burning BEX/Capacity Question?

I'm attending the Work Session on BEX tomorrow (and hope to attend the community meeting next week).

So what are your burning BEX/Capacity questions?  I think I've already heard a few:

- what is your detailed plan for middle school issues in the NE?
- what boundary changes might come for 2013-2014?
- which schools can be renovated on-site versus those that will need an interim site?  (BEX staff recently stated at a Board ctm. meeting that they "had" to build with the school community moved but that is just not true in all cases.  It certainly isn't true for most districts in the U.S.  Most build with the school communities still on-site.

What else?

Update:

Here's a link to the presentation.

To note; I find the silence from FACMAC kind of interesting.   The district hasn't mentioned their input in a long time.  However the presentation does say they will be speaking at the Work Session so this should be good. 

From the presentation:

- 71% of entry grade students are at their attendance area school.  
I would also like to know how many are at option schools so you can see how many are at other attendance area schools. 

- Recommended changes: all 5th grade eligible Spectrum students assigned to attendance middle school.
Confusing to me because I thought they were because we have a feeder program already. 

- Add West Seattle Elementary attendance area as the GeoZone for K-5 STEM at Boren.
I would guess this is because K-5 STEM (give this school a name for gosh's sakes) is at an interim site.

- add a distance tiebreaker for elementary/middle schools.  
Hate this one.  Was an issue for the choice plan and I guarantee it will be again.

-Rules for 2013-2014 continue in subsequent years
That IS new because the district website reflects different "permanent" tiebreakers. 

They list the sources for funding on page 14 but leave off federal funds.  They are out there but someone has to get to our elected officials and ask or write a grant.  It is not all levies and state funding.

Hoo-boy, page 15 has a listing of transportation "savings".  We've heard this before.

Non-Construction Solutions (not a pretty list)
- Utilize available homerooms
- repurpose PCP/other space or program placement
- maintain transportation grandfathering
- relocate students to annex sites

Boundaries
Since BEX IV planning will require boundary changes, boundary changes for 2013-2014 are not recommended.

I have to go through the rest of it and ponder what it means.

65 comments:

Josh Hayes said...

Mel, as I recall, we're getting, and are going to get, SLAMMED with middle school kids, right? The BEX seems to be aimed at addressing that, in about five years.

But by then, we'll have been getting slammed in the high schools for a couple of years -- again, if I recall correctly. Didn't someone say that every comprehensive high school in Seattle except for Rainier Beach is fully-enrolled right now? And that wave of middle-schoolers is heading their way, like, right now, right?

So what's the plan to address the increasing HS student population? Or is that even a facilities question?

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Why are boundary changes not part of the plan now?. It seems boundaries are an integral part of the overcrowding.

Anonymous said...

How will special education seats be accounted for in the plans for capacity management? Are we accounting for them to attend their local schools according to NSAP rules? Or, are we just planning to send them all to Ranier Beach HS - where there is always plenty of room.

-sped parent

Lori said...

My burning question: What happens if the levy fails? Seriously, are there contingency plans? Or will the work of developing those plans only begin in late February?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Josh, well, Lincoln is to open as a high school in 2017(?) so that's where some of them will go.

If the levy fails (and I assume you mean just BEX), then they can do it again - with better marketing in 6 months-year. Naturally, that will be disasterous as they need the money yesterday (and are, in fact, spending money on Genesee now).

I would assume they continue to plan but it would be a tremendous problem.

There are federal and state dollars out there for capital needs but I never hear about anyone going to our Senators and Reps and asking for this help (not federal at least).

If Operations also lost, it would be likely the state would have to step in for short-term funding. They could not let the district struggle with 25% fewer dollars.

Anonymous said...
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kgroth said...

Our burning request is to have a plan for our school in place prior to 2013/2014 Open Enrollment so we can message to our families and potential new families if our school is to remain intact perhaps at a new location. I imagine all the other displaced schools want to know the same.

It's crazy to imagine our kids shuffled around town due to the BEX changes. I think kids do better in a familiar environment and feel more comfortable about their school, teachers, and friends they make. I went to 6 elementaries around the world since I was an Air Force Brat. I naively thought that if I settle down in one house my kids can get the experience I didn't have, growing up going to school with all the kids in their neighborhood. Instead I'll be guiding my kids on how to adapt and thrive in new schools like what I had to do.

Pinehurst K-8 Parent

Anonymous said...

I agree with sped parent. The burning question for sped is how will our access be equitable like the access of gened students. At the recent Special Education PTSA meeting a SPED IA reported that regularly kids she works with are sent around the district to wherever there is room, not whatever makes sense for them in terms of where they live or what they need.

sped parent 2

seattle citizen said...

What is the plan for Indian Heritage? This program should be grown, perhaps into a community school model. It's currently at WP, and should stay there in a separate building.

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, I had to delete your comment (give yourself a name per our policy) but it is an important question:

I would like to know which elementary schools they are planning as "feeder" schools to Wilson Pacific.

"I would also like them to take programs into account when they draw boundaries. IE ... you can't draw boundaries to fill a school with attendance area kids and then have it also accept kids for Spectrum from outside the attendance area. The # of kids in the program needs to be subtracted from the school's capacity."

This is a REAL and burning issue.

As capacity needs - just plain old space for attendance area kids - becomes crucial, what happens to the programs beyond what is absolutely mandated?

This is a central thesis from BEX whiz Kellie LaRue and I believe she is right. What happens to the gradual squeezing down of programming simply to fit kids?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the 12/5 Capacity presentation:
1. How is it possible that Eckstein is not listed on the Middle School slide (29)?
2. I don't understand how "Maintain transportation grandfathering" is a capacity solution?
- RB1986

Melissa Westbrook said...

RB - I'm thinking Eckstein isn't there because they already put in portables? I don't know.

- maintaining transportation grandfathering is a triage solution (which is about where they are at) and not a capacity solution.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I was at Eckstein a few weeks ago and don't remember any new portables. Can anyone confirm?
In the Eckstein service area they think transportation could influence 5 new homerooms? I don't get that. Most NE elemenatry schools are already full and I don't think a bus would influence many NE families choice of schools.
- RB1986

Maureen said...

... add a distance tiebreaker for elementary/middle schools.
Hate this one. Was an issue for the choice plan and I guarantee it will be again.


I would like to know if staff has a specific reason for this. Are there attendance issues for families who have chosen schools far from their homes? Are they pressuring SPS for transportation? Are principals complaining?

Lori said...

Well, they'd better be thinking about the impact on Eckstein if they go ahead with an ill-conceived plan to either keep Lincoln kids at Lincoln for 6th grade or move them to John Marshall as a Hamilton "annex," which would effectively cut them off from the rest of Hamilton, isolating them and denying them a comprehensive middle school experience.

Seriously, hasn't the current 5th grade cohort at Lincoln sacrificed enough? They endured the Lowell/TM split; they got kicked out of Lowell 2 years later; they are housed in an inappropriate facility with an inadequate lunchroom and playground. Now this?

Sorry, but if this comes to fruition, we'll just opt into Eckstein for middle school. And I will encourage others to do the same. My child is not a chess piece for them to move around randomly to suit their whims. At some point, they need to consider the cumulative impact their decisions have on particular populations.

And, yes, I'm mad. I try to be polite when I post, or at least sit on my hands til my anger subsides. But not today.

Anonymous said...

RE: Eckstein for next year. It's my understanding that the incoming Eckstein class for next year is smaller than the class that entered this current year, thus it would not be an INCREASE in students.

~don't shoot the messenger

Eric B said...

The "no boundary changes for 2013/14" largely came from the Board. To their credit, they recognize that boundary changes are disruptive and controversial, and they just don't want to get into it any more times than they have to. The general position was that other changes are not as disruptive. That said, "minor" boundary changes were largely considered to be on the table.

Also, this is heard third hand through reliable sources. It's not the exact words that the Board used, nor is it likely to represent every Board member.

I would still like someone to come out and say something to the effect of "We still need to figure out the details, but these three elementaries will definitely feed to Wilson-Pacific, and these three other ones will feed to Jane Addams. We will probably add more, but we need to work out the details of the capacity." For example, there's no way Bagley isn't going to go to W-P. Let's just get that on the table now so people can start getting used to it.

Anonymous said...

RE: Eckstein. That sounds too good to be true...
- RB1986

ben said...

@Lori

Your concerns echo those of the Eckstein parents who don't want to be involved in a rollup of a new middle school either.

However, someone's going to have to move since there's not enough space to keep everyone in place. In theory if the district would just make the plan in a non-opaque manner and allow input on the planning process we could all get over the this phase of uncertainty.

Thinking out of the box a little, I grew up in a K-6 district and it worked really well. I don't necessarily see the "comprehensive middle school" experience to be that essential or different from the older system. Nor does a 6th grade middle school rollup have to be a bad experience. Its the implementation details that I think are more interesting to focus on.

Ben

Anonymous said...

John Rogers grew by 60 students this year (24% growth), is maxed out at 307 kids (all gen ed classrooms are in use, and kindergarten enrollment has risen steadily since the NSAP:

2010: 47
2011: 57
2012: 72

Yet, they are claiming that there are no portables needed for enrollment growth, though they will add one if grandfathered transportation ends (slide 24 of the presentation).

I sure hope they take another look at the data.

- JR Mom

Anonymous said...

Lori,

Some of us with APP eligible kids prioritized consistent neighborhood assignment and short transportation times, we are at Eckstein. Some of our friends prioritized self-contained cohort & program, they are at Lincoln. You have the privilege of changing your priority & thus your assignment if you wish.

That privilege is not available for sped kids. Sped families don't get to decide between a specialized cohort or a neighborhood school.

Everyone is suffering under the lack of capacity and a lot of kids will have less than ideal opportunities with these changes. But you can not play, 'we have it worse' if you have any choice at all.

You are welcome to join us at Eckstein.

- eckstein parent

Anonymous said...

Ben, do you have a child in middle school yet? If the system was designed so all of the district was K-6, ok, but it's not. It almost feels like the plan is to warehouse the kids until they know what to do with them. Have you known the district to be good with the implementation part? They are still trying to resolve some of the issues around the move of APP kids to Lincoln. Do you remember the initial plan to move only 4th-5th graders when Lowell ran out of space? How did that go over?

Anonymous said...

Sherry Carr said at her community meeting that Greenlake, Olympic View and Bagley would go to Wilson Pacific. So that is one of the reasons why they don't need to help Eckstein because pulling Greenlake and Olympic View out will be enough help.

Hope someone from those schools reads the blog.


- ne parent

Anonymous said...

@ Ben,

Everyone is impacted in some way because of capacity issues.

I believe part of the question is should a smaller group make a larger sacrifice or should a larger group make a smaller one.

Rolling up a middle school is going to be a huge endeavor. It is not just that the sixth graders will be isolated (or warehoused as someone said), it is also that those SAME sixth graders that need to build a sixth grade experience, will also need to build a seventh grade experience and also an eighth grade experience. It is asking a small group of people to spend the ENTIRE middle school experience in an experiment.

That is a lot more to ask than to ask for all of Eckstein or all of Hamilton to send their sixth grade to an annex.

- I don't have an answer

Melissa Westbrook said...

Uh, Eckstein parent, the kids at Lincoln are K-5, not middle school so I am missing your point. Should all APP kids be at their attendance area school and hope to be served there?

I would agree with the point that if you choose a different type of school for your child (whether APP or K-8 or whatever), no, you don't get the right to a comprehensive middle school experience. The district cannot provide everything everywhere.

Trying to Understand the Math said...

Burning Question:
On slide 27, how does transportation create a need for 36 additional middle school homerooms?
It looks to me like this presentation is filled with double-counting errors.

Lori said...

It was not my intention to pit one group against another when I vented my frustration about the proposal to keep Lincoln 5th graders at Lincoln next year for 6th grade.

I understand that there are no good options out there for relieving middle school capacity in the NE. I empathize with the Jane Addams community, who don't want to be forced out of their building. And I also empathize with the Eckstein community, which is bursting at the seams. And I wish I had answers for special education; I rarely speak up on those topics because I don't have first-hand knowledge and don't feel competent or qualified to opine. But that doesn't mean I don't care or have concerns about the way kids with special needs are treated in this district.

I get it that no one wants to be tagged to do the hard work of rolling up a new middle school in an annex or warehouse or whatever you want to call it. Based on my experience at Lincoln, I do understand the amount of work needed to get a building into shape, the PTA resources and family volunteer labor needed to fill in the gaps for what the district fails to provide.

I really didn't mean to imply any sort of comparison about whose kids have it "worst" and I'm sorry that some interpreted it that way. I'm simply expressing my frustration and exhaustion borne of my own experience the last few years, lurching from one manufactured crisis to the next.

I started touring elementary schools back in 2006/2007, and I started hearing about the looming middle school crisis at that time. It's insane that in 2012 we are barely closer to having a solution, that we have to wait until 2017. We can all agree on that, right?

Anonymous said...

I guess if we maintain the transportation grandfathering we won't need to add 36 elementary homerooms. Where will all those kids go to school - do they just ride the bus all day?
- RB1986

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will agree on the middle school issue. This is not a big surprise and not just the outcome of the surge in enrollment. They knew this was coming and yet, where was the planning.

That is my BIGGEST concern - do I believe that the district staff have really thought out the best way forward or is this a lot of triage? It will be a painful and expensive mistake if they choose wrongly.

Po3 said...

I agree with Lori (and I don't have a pony in the APP race). To say that the only kids who don't get to go a comprehensive middle school next year are north-end 5th graders in APP, simply because they can use these kids as chess pieces is unfair.

If anything they should move the HIMs 7th asnd 8th graders to Lincoln and create a comprehensive middle school in that building.

These willy nilly piece meal solutions for APP students is getting out of hand.

I also agree that spec ed kids get a raw deal...

Anonymous said...

I do not see pertinent information regarding special education in the presentation. ?????

Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Po3, a comprehensive middle school a stone's throw from Hamilton? Hmm.

Po3 said...

Yes, another MS across the street from Hamilotn to solve the overcrowding problem.

What is the problem with that?

Is there some "rule" that says middle schools must be placed X feet away from eachother?

Charlie Mas said...

The information for Special Education appeared on slide 17.

Here's what it said:

Solutions Toolbox for 2013-14
17
1.Non-Construction Solutions
•Utilize available homerooms
•Repurpose PCP (Preparation-Conference-Planning)/other space or program placement


This means that special education programs will be moved based on available space. It means that students with IEPs will go from crowded schools to uncrowded schools regardless of where the students live, and regardless of the presence or absence of administrative support. These moves are in direct violation of district promises and policies and not at all in the students' best interests.

You know, just like they have always done.

Anonymous said...

It is fascinating to me that Hamilton is the problem and that it will be fixed by sending APP to Lincoln. When every single person in the north end knows that Eckstein is the problem. The only reason that Eckstein hasn't burst at the seems is because of all the families that picked APP instead of Eckstein, (not the historical choice but now that it is close and Eckstein is crowded) and the handful of families that picked Jane Addams because Eckstein is crowded.

So the way to deal with this is apparently to set it up so that your choices are now

- guaranteed crowding at Eckstein

- an uncertain future at Jane Addams - is it going to be moved, repurposed or other?

- an uncertain future at APP - is it 6th grade at Lincoln and then 7th at Hamilton or is it now a great big K8 at Lincoln and by choosing APP, you forgo comprehensive middle school.

Crikey. It is not like there were TEN feeder schools to Eckstein or anything such that anybody who can count would be able to add up the number of bodies and know that you need a Lake City Middle School before 2013, which incidentally was why they only guaranteed that the K8 would stay in the building until 2013.

- north seattle mom, where apparently math skills put you on the crazy list as far as sps is concerned.

Anonymous said...

I would very much like to see a copy of the currently proposed Transition Plan for 2013-2014. The same twin language as last year? Any mention of grandfathering siblings if boundaries change?

-StepJ

Meg said...

Hamilton and Eckstein are both real problems. Eckstein CAN take more portables (not that I would advise that). Hamilton has no lot coverage for portables - once they are out of space, they are pretty well out of options. And they are out of space. WMS is beyond overcrowded, too. And there are schools (Schmitz Park, for instance) that aren't just bursting at the seams, but Incredible-Hulking the seams into unrecognizable shreds.

The BEX money is triage money. And there are more at/near emergency-level problems than money to fix those problems.

Charlie Mas said...

I understand how some elementary schools will need more homerooms due to the end of transportation grandfathering... but if there are students who will leave school A for school B, then don't the numbers net out? Won't we save a homeroom at school A?

Charlie Mas said...

I notice that the proposal is to divert only APP 6th graders from Hamilton to Marshall.

Why APP? Why not the language immersion students? Why not Spectrum? Why not general education students from two elementary schools?

Why only APP? Why not APP and the language immersion students? Why not APP and Spectrum? Why not APP and students from two elementary schools?

Is this a good way to serve 6th grade students? If it is, then why not do it for all of the 6th grade students?

This certainly sends the message that APP is not an integrated part of Hamilton or the Hamilton community. Nice message.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh. Nobody has to be in a segregated APP program. Those students already have the most choice afforded them. If they choose NOT to participate in APP then they can certainly attend their own middle schools. They are also free to choose and be selected at any option school. Furthermore, they have already selected a self-contained option and made that segregation their preference and priority.

=reader

Maureen said...

Charlie, I'm too lazy tonight to look again, but I think the south end schools are where the the numbers net out...

Staff is figuring that getting rid of buses will return south end kids to their attendance area schools. Have they actually asked? No way to tell.

kgroth said...

I'm new to public school lingo since my oldest is in kindergarten. Is a comprehensive middle school where there are grades 6-8? Then is a roll-up middle school where it starts with 6th grade only, and they move up each year with a new incoming class to fill the lower grade?

With all the talk of portables, Pinehurst K-8 in Northeast Seattle has the capacity to take 100 extra kids in the building. We are currently slated to move out in 2014 (which could change) but for 2013/2014 we could help alleviate some of the middle school crunch. Jane Addams K-8 said they could take a few middle school classes as well.

We plan to attend the Capacity public meeting on Dec. 11th to discuss further.

Anonymous said...

Charlie re slide 17

Special ed always clusters at the least choice schools. Slide 17 does not even hint that there is will, let alone consciousness, to change that.

writing on the wall

Anonymous said...

Okay Charlie, it looks like SPS is projecting that the incoming 6th grade cohort for Hamilton is going to be larger than the 8th grade cohort that will be leaving. Since there is no space to put portables, the district has decided that the best solution is to expand the APP program at Lincoln to 1-6 instead of 1-5. They can not move the language immersion kids because those kids are the neighborhood children. Hamilton is their neighborhood school and the only school they are guaranteed access to; unlike the APP kids, who have guaranteed acceptance into both APP and their neighborhood schools. As it sounds like Hamilton will have enough room for the neighborhood kids, should they be moved to Lincoln anyway, perhaps causing more overcrowding at lunch there, and leave Hamilton partly empty? How woyld this benefit anyone?
Given the problem that not all of the incoming 6th graders can fit into Hamilton, what would be your solution then?
Disclosure, I have two APP eligible kids who are attending our neighborhood elementary school, one will be in 6th grade next year, and Hamilton is our assignment middle school. We were planing to join APP next year, so I am not too happy about this development, but I do not see a more
palatable solution.

CCA

Anonymous said...

Please excuse the typos, darn tiny smartphone keyboard.

CCA

Charlie Mas said...

A solution?

Any solution should treat all members of the Hamilton community equitably.

The District intends to solve the middle school capacity crisis in the north-end by establishing new comprehensive middle schools at Wilson-Pacific and Jane Addams.

The District intends to begin these schools at interim sites - Marshall and Lincoln.

I would suggest that they form these communities earlier than originally intended and start using their interim sites sooner rather than later.

Charlie Mas said...

The end of transportation grandfathering has to reduce enrollment somewhere if it adds enrollment elsewhere, yet there is not one school in any part of the city for which the District expects any reduction in enrollment as a result of the end of transportation.

kellie said...

As typical, I agree with Meg. Both Hamilton and Eckstein are challenges.

Hamilton is projected to need 4-5 more rooms for 2013. All of the flex spaces (fancy name for the indoor portable option created at new buildings) have been used so there is nothing left.

A few parts are missing:

1) If the K-6 fails to attract enough students from Eckstein to move to APP, then the issue boomerangs back to Eckstein.

2) While Hamilton has only 5 feeder schools, 4 of them are quickly growing and one is pretty stable. So this fix is BEFORE the huge growth at JSIS and McDonald move into Hamilton in 2015. So what is the plan for 7th grade APP and 8th grade APP. It is improbable that a one grade change solution will hold for long.

3) Washington isn't getting as much press but is also crazy overcrowded. Is APP going to be re-united again at Lincoln?

The problem is that there are THREE NEW middle schools planed for 2017, adding capacity for over 3,000 middle school students. It is unlikely that an ongoing patchwork quilt of short term solutions is going to hold for another five years.

So while this is the first volley in the non-standard solutions, it is unlikely to be the last. So regardless of your opinion of APP, it would be wise for folks to pay attention to how this decision gets made because it is likely to set the tone for the entire batch of interim decisions until the magic BEX solutions appear.

Anonymous said...

Send 'em all to McClure. There's plenty of room. APP @ McClure. What's not to love?

-parent

Anonymous said...

So would APP 6th graders at Lincoln be able to walk over to HIMS for music, so they would be able to be in an appropriately leveled class? Or will they end up behind their grade-level peers when they finally make it to Hamilton in 7th grade? What about language? Do they all end up stuck with 1st year language, regardless of appropriate placement, and then they lose ground compared to those same peers who get to start higher?

I understand why those who love to use the "APP kids already have choices" line do so, but I don't think they really get it. For one, these kids didn't make these choices, their parents did. And it's no like they did it to be segregated, they did it to meet their kids' needs. But think about what this plan means for such kids--you go to APP because you are far ahead, need to move more quickly to avoid the risk of boredom-induced failure. So we'll take these kids, plop them in a limited-access locale for a year, then turn them out to Hamilton where they end up in more basic classes than many of their grade-level peers, who had access to those higher level classes at the outset.

I think another thing people forget is that these aren't all current APP kids we're talking about, already at Lincoln. There's a huge influx of new APP kids in 6th grade. If it were me, I'd just opt for Spectrum in 6th rather than spend a temporary year in an elementary school with a bunch of kids I don't know but who already know each other and gave been together for years. That way I'd still have access to highest, level math, language, music, plus school clubs, the library, etc. Then I'd try to switch to APP for 7th grade instead, since I'd still have access and be guaranteed a seat. If many people go that route, how much relief would this "solution" really provide?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

The idea that students have choice is false. If you are a current 5th grade APP student, you have already covered the math and science units that would be covered in the neighborhood school, Spectrum or not. You might have the option of doing the 7th grade Spectrum level math as a 6th grader, but that's about it. It would be like repeating a grade.

Po3 said...

It is just wrong that they use APP and spec ed students to manage capacity. Been happening since they closed all those school that never should have been closed.

Anonymous said...

@kgroth

You asked:
"Is a comprehensive middle school where there are grades 6-8? Then is a roll-up middle school where it starts with 6th grade only, and they move up each year with a new incoming class to fill the lower grade?"

I haven't been able to find a definition of "comprehensive" middle school on the SPS website (if anyone has found one, please post it). It is my understanding that a comprehensive middle school offers a "comprehensive" package of courses, i. e. a range of electives to chose from, including the choice of two or more languages. Comprehensive middle schools are not homeroom-based. They are scheduled in blocks, where kids change classes.

The bigger these schools are the more funding they get, which allows them to offer a wide-range of courses. They are also big enough to provide differentiation of instruction (i. e. Spectrum, Gen Ed, ELL, Sped), and robust music programs. Eckstein, Hamilton and Whitman are examples of comprehensive middle schools.

According to Pegi McEvoy, the target size for a comprehensive middle school in SPS is 1000 students. Big enough to provide all the services it needs to, but not so big that kids get lost.

Comprehensive middle schools are the default route in SPS. They are also the route expected, and preferred by the families of children who enroll their kids in their attendance-area schools, as well as programs such as APP.

It is great that there is room at Pinehurst and Jane Addams. Since enrollment at our north-end comprehensive middle schools is so out of control, you will no doubt have takers who are otherwise concerned for their child's safety at the crowded comprehensive middle schools. These families, however, are sacrificing the elective choice, music programs, etc... that were offered in the track that they chose for their kindergartner 6 years ago.

Those of us who chose to enroll our kids in our neighborhood assignment school are not cattle following the route of least resistance. We didn't all go to our assignment school because we were too lazy to enroll them in an option school. Many of us are there because we want to be there, and we expected that a safe, educationally sound comprehensive middle school, with all the bells and whistles would be there when our kids moved up to 6th grade.

A "comprehensive roll-up middle school" is an oxymoron. It does not exist.

I hope that clarifies the need for comprehensive middle school seats in NE Seattle.

-North End Mom


Mass Exodus said...

No one is mentioning Whitman. I have heard from numerous KIDS recently (ranging from 2nd-5th grade) who have said they are being privately tested to avoid the pathetic educational experience at Whitman. That is the problem. If SPS fixes the horrendous middle school education, people wouldn't need to figure out ways to get their kids into APP to avoid 3 lost years or debt for private school.

And, from what I hear, Spectrum in middle school is a joke. My kid is in APP and I bet the majority of his "50th percentile" friends could easily do the work. UP THE JOKE OF A CURRICULUM FOR EVERYONE AT EVERY SCHOOL!

Anonymous said...

Reposting for anon because it's a point worth understanding:

"The idea that students have choice is false. If you are a current 5th grade APP student, you have already covered the math and science units that would be covered in the neighborhood school, Spectrum or not. You might have the option of doing the 7th grade Spectrum level math as a 6th grader, but that's about it. It would be like repeating a grade."

--APP in ALO

Anonymous said...

@kgroth and @North End Mom -

From North End Mom:
"The bigger these schools are the more funding they get, which allows them to offer a wide-range of courses. They are also big enough to provide differentiation of instruction (i. e. Spectrum, Gen Ed, ELL, Sped), and robust music programs. Eckstein, Hamilton and Whitman are examples of comprehensive middle schools."

Just for clarity - Jane Addams offers gen ed, spectrum, ELL and SPED. We've been very pleased with the differentiation (and I have an APP child attending JA.)

~JA Mom

Anonymous said...

@ JA Mom

That's super! I'm glad you are happy there. Can the building accommodate 200-300 more 6th graders next year? That would help a lot with over-crowding at Eckstein, and would probably translate into more elective choice for all the middle school kids at JA.
-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

We actually talked with the district about our willingness to add 2 more classes at the 6th grade level next year but they felt that parents with younger elementary kids would be worried about it, from what I understand. The JA parents I spoke with were okay with it, even though most had K-2 kids. The other issue is whether the two programs can run next to each other in the same building. We do have an environmental science focus, which is the major difference, curriculum-wise, so our PROGRAM is opt in only.

I do believe (although I haven't spoken to anyone at the district) that if more 6th graders opt into the environmental science program, they'd give us the teachers to take all comers at 6th grade next year. Those 6th graders could do their whole middle school in the program. In fact, I've heard that 5 class homerooms is the threshold for getting the variety of electives at the middle school level. (also, in case there is confusion, our 6-8th graders do rotate through teachers/classes.)

I do believe, also, that we will have a decision made in the next few weeks about whether we'll be able to stay, so it should be known by open enrollment.

The other thing that I don't think is well known is that some of our students walk 1-2 years ahead in math to Nathan Hale HS, so for spectrum and APP students, math-wise, it is a good option (as long as we are across the street from Nathan Hale.

We really do understand the middle school issues in the NE and do want to be part of the solution. We think distributing our >600 kids into NE already overcrowded elementary and middle schools will just create a different crisis and not really solve the problem.

So, we'd love to have more 5th grade parents consider joining us next year. (Heck - 6th and 7th graders could join us, too, and then wouldn't need to leave the program and, hopefully, the building until they go to high school.)

~JA parent

Anonymous said...

I too thought it important to be in a comprehensive middle school when I had a 5th grader. Now that I've spent 6 years in one & gone on the high school I have a different perspective.

I don't think it damages kids to have fewer elective choices for one more year or even for 3 more years. The electives at comprehensive middle school do not match the ability levels of all incoming kids. Kids range up to 5 or 6 years apart in music, foreign language & math. That is why you have middle schoolers doing calculus in the back of the class.

And if you want to compete in music in high school, you will want to think more about private music lessons, lot of practicing & Seattle Youth Symphony. 6th grade music won't make up for that. Practicing 1-2 hours a day will.

The other things you often get with comprehensive middle school is earlier exposure to teen issues. There's the girl bullying, the sex & the drugs & drinking. Not that every child participates in those things, but they will probably be hearing about it or seeing it more than they would in a K-6.

I do not regret sending my children to a comprehensive middle school. But it was definitely a mixed experience. Looking back I think it would have been better to put it off a year. I also do not think the electives or advanced classes were targeted well enough to make a big difference.

High school parent

Anonymous said...

Actually, math assignments at HIMS are not based on program. There are Spectrum kids in the highest level math offered, APP students in a lower, etc. So no need necessarily to repeat a year in math. Science may be another story, but I'm not sure how that curriculum lines up anyway.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

JA Parent wrote:

"The other thing that I don't think is well known is that some of our students walk 1-2 years ahead in math to Nathan Hale HS, so for spectrum and APP students, math-wise, it is a good option (as long as we are across the street from Nathan Hale."

Yep. It makes a lot of sense to place a middle school building next to a high school.

- Tired of capacity mis-management

Jan said...

I would suggest doing one of two things (both of which are more fair than trying to segregate APP 6th grade at Lincoln).

First (from another parent's suggestion on another thread), move one entire department from HIMS to Lincoln. It doesn't make much sense to put science there -- since there are already labs at HIMS, but you could move social studies, English, or math. My suggestion would be math -- since there are probably also 4th and 5th grade APP kids who could use access to the middle school math classes). To make scheduling easier, I would only move ONE department (so kids don't have to make the trip between schools more than once a day). All HIMS kids would still be HIMS kids, and participate in their athletics, music programs, etc.

The other solution would be what I understand to have been Charlie's suggestion, Pick the "group" of attendance area kids that is moving to one of the new schools when it opens, and put the 6th graders of that group of kids (WP@Lincoln, or whatever) together at Lincoln now. But, in my opinion, that would mean making Lincoln an "interim roll up" site -- so those kids would STAY at Lincoln (and the program would grow) every year until the move occurs. For the first year, you could, if you want, combine the two schools' sports, music, and art programs. By the 2nd year, I suspect whatever interim program is at Lincoln would be robust enough to survive on its own. But now, my question is -- is Lincoln large enough for a "roll up" interim middle school AND the north end APP program?

As far as WMS goes, I can't see how we could alleviate WMS overcrowding by moving those APP kids to join the northend cohort -- because the north is where the biggest capacity problems are (so busing kids INTO that area would seem counterproductive). Will the WMS problem go away when they reopen Meany as a comprehensive middle school for the capitol hill/north central kids?

Anonymous said...

And then there's McClure. Are there even 500 students there this year? If that school pulled it's weight, you would significantly reduce capacity issues everywhere. How about put 1/2 of APP at McClure? That would do it. You can't have empty buildings 2 miles down the road and then cry about capacity.

-XMcClure