Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Seattle Schools Capacity Management Work Sesson Recs

The presentation for this Board Work Session tomorrow has been posted.  It's quite interesting.  I note at last night's Capacity meeting for the NE, it was stated that FACMAC would have their recs tomorrow.

It's odd because one page is labeled "Development of Recommended Options" and lists input from FACMAC but clearly FACMAC's recommendations are not part of this presentation because they aren't even out yet.

Okay, wait a minute.  Page 8 DOES have  FACMAC recommendations.  Confusing.  I do not see any link to the complete FACMAC recommendations.

Under Community Feedback:
  • mixed support for repurposing PCP spaces
  • portables?  A surprising amount of support
  • move grade cohorts?  largely not supported
  • maintaining transportation grandfathering?  Mostly supported but I think this is a complete sell job to the Board and public without full information on numbers of students at each school and costs.
For SW and Central Regions, FACMAC recs:
  • provide portables for Schmitz Park
  • open Fairmount Park as neighborhood school (2014-2015)
  • Consider K-5 STEM at Hughes when available.  (I agree with this one.  The private school there has been a good steward of the property but the district needs it back.)
  • Minor boundary change from Hay to Lowell (I see a lot of unhappiness from some Hay parents over this one)
  • Madrona K-8 change to K-5 (yes and finally); boundary adjustment from Leschi and Gatzert (2017-2018)
 For North Region, FACMAC recs:
  • Divide Eckstein geographically into North  Annex at Jane Addams and South Annex at Eckstein (2013-2014) - both 6-8.   I'm okay with this SHORT-TERM but the district needs to be developing another middle school and not two Ecksteins.
  • Relocate Jane Addams to John Marshall for 2013-2014.  I feel sad about this because they will then again get moved.  Two moves for an Option school (and a new one at that) is NOT good.  
  • Develop solutions to accommodate all projected grade 6-8 students in Hamilton building.  A real punt here by FACMAC and I suspect because of disagreements over what to do or what can be done.  APP - don't let anyone shove you around.  If there is to be movement to Lincoln, it needs to be by department or grade level.
  • Develop interim site for Olympic Hills at Cedar Park or other appropriate location.  This use of Cedar Park was brought up by some residents as there is an established arts program in that building and they created a neighborhood park out of the playground.  That is hard to undo but I don't see how the district has any other choice.
Page 10 - Instructional Considerations (I assume this is staff saying this):
- Jane Addams program enhancements for middle school.  I assume this is to beef up their middle school program to look more "comprehensive."  Problem is there is no real proof the district will follow thru AND it's for a program that is now going to move twice over a couple of years.  Seems too little too late.
- 6th Grade Academy at John Marshall.  I have no idea who this is for or what it is to address.

So page 13 starts what I assume are Staff recommendations.  It's a lot of portables and repurposing of classrooms. 

 They are NOT recommending moving the kindergarten from Highland Park or West Seattle Elementary or Schmitz Park to Boren. 

They seem to NOT concur with FACMAC on a boundary change for Hay to Lowell for next year.

They do not concur with FACMAC's rec to change Madrona K-8 to K-5 until Meany reopens.

They do not concur with FACMAC's rec to move Jane Addams K-8 to John Marshall as interim location.

They do recommend moving 6th grade students to John Marshall (if needed).  The entire 6th grade at Hamilton to John Marshall?  Interesting.  OR "alternative scheduling options" - do I see double shifts in Hamilton's future?  They are NOT recommending keeping next year's APP 6th graders at Lincoln.

I see "alternative scheduling options"for Eckstein. Again, double shifts?  They recommend locating Eckstein's 6th grade at John Marshall (if needed).   But NOT dividing up Eckstein into annexes.

For high schools, I had to laugh.  "Reduce number of Open Choice seats in alignment with new program capacity."  Oh c'mon, give this idea up of Open Choice seats.  It was a non-starter (and a joke) from the beginning and has almost no meaning (or hope) now.  Just poke it with a fork and call it done.

I also love under Garfield "fully utilize room availability."  Are they saying that Garfield has empty or rooms that are under-utilized?  I find that hard to believe due to its popularity.

I end by saying I found it difficult to figure out what was a recommendation and what was an option in this presentation.  I foresee a LOT of questions from the Board.

23 comments:

Jon said...

Wow. So, basically, the plan is to add portables and scramble later wherever there are problems. That's not much of a plan.

Tracy said...

Same observation here while writing our version, re: what are recommendations and what are options. Just a note if it's not widely known, this time, the recommendation (option?) about Hughes would NOT be a case of booting its tenant - we reported last month that Westside School is buying a permanent site - planning to renovate a local church. Westside had no timetable when we published that story, but I'll be following up with them tomorrow.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tracy is the editor of the West Seattle Blog and she should know. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please explain how double shifts help with capacity? It's a new concept to me, and while it sounds like one way to stretch capacity, whenever I try to picture how this actually works I'm left confused. Seems like even if you start one group early and one group late, you're still left with needing space for the whole lot of them during the core/overlapping hours, no?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

What can $435,000 worth of "mitigation" buy for Jane Addams K-8, in terms of teachers, equipment, etc...?

Would the cost of staffing increases that would be necessary to deal with the increased enrollment be included in the "mitigation" funds (i.e. more LA/SS, Math and Science teachers)?

Or, would these funds be put toward a broader selection of electives (i.e. an additional world language, technology electives, etc...)?

- JR Mom

Charlie Mas said...

I think these recommendations look realistic and pragmatic.

That is, of course, presuming that the recommendations to convert PCP spaces or add portables was made with first-hand knowledge of what PCP space is available for conversion and what land is available for a portable.

I think the idea to beef up the middle school offerings at Jane Addams represents a positive and revolutionary change - an attempt to pull students into a school instead of pushing students into a school.

skeptic said...

The recommendations are based on hope. Hoping that enough students choose JA over their overcrowded assignment school is not a plan. It's a wish and a hope.

Mike said...

"This use of Cedar Park was brought up by some residents as there is an established arts program in that building and they created a neighborhood park out of the playground."

How much real estate does SPS have that is NOT for instruction or admin? I am thinking of the Lake City property as well. Why doesn't SPS just sell them off if they never plan on using them as schools again?

Melissa Westbrook said...

How do double-shifts work?

When I had to do it for one year in junior high (as they were building a new one), one shift went from 6 am to noon and we went from 12:30 pm to 6:30 pm. (Luckily, I had the late shift.)

Not fun but that's what you can do.

Mike, it's income. I think they make more income from leasing the land over decades than outright selling it.

The district owns the Oak Tree shopping area land, the land over on Lake City/125th, and even a small forest (but that was deeded to the district and I don't think can be sold). Their most valuable holding is the 9 acres at Seattle Center including Memorial Stadium.

Anonymous said...

What exactly do they mean by "alternative scheduling options?" How do alternative schedules work with transportation? If you have multiple schedules, how can everyone access afterschool activities and sports? What if you have more than one child, both on different schedules at the same school?

sign me,
confused

Patrick said...

Confused, I assume that a school on split shift would need two sets of school buses, one for morning and one for afternoon. The morning shift could do after school sports, and the afternoon shift could do before school sports. They'd probably be able to put all the kids from one family on the same shift. Not ideal, but not the end of the world either.

Mike said...

Melissa:

"The district owns the Oak Tree shopping area land, the land over on Lake City/125th, and even a small forest (but that was deeded to the district and I don't think can be sold). Their most valuable holding is the 9 acres at Seattle Center including Memorial Stadium."

Does SPS pay property tax for those holdings? It would be perverse if they don't since they could make money off the sale AND reap additional revenues via property taxes from private owners.

I also wonder about how SPS insures structures they own and then lease out. I need to go research to see if SPS self-insures. Also would levy funds go to maintain facilities such as Cedar Park and the Lake City building...

Anonymous said...

At the meeting on Dec. 11, SPS staff explained that scheduling solutions at HIMS could include making use of classrooms for every period of the day; so if a teacher has their prep period, that classroom is not left empty, but is instead used by another teacher (who is a "roving" teacher who moves class rooms each period). They also are looking at any other space that could be repurposed.
Another HIMS Parent

CCM said...

I believe that WMS has had teachers use each other's classrooms before - I know our son's reading teacher held class in someone else's room (or maybe they just shared the room - I can't remember for sure).

Not ideal for classes that need a lot of materials/textbooks though- but for reading it seemed to work.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, that idea of teachers using other classrooms was also brought up. Again, not ideal but a way to buy some time.

Anonymous said...

I guess I disagree with the premise that the district should cater to certain people to somehow attract them to a building. Assign area 6th graders to the Jane Addams K-8 and be done with it. The previous promise for comphensive middle school only, as some sort of immutable truth needs to be dropped. Move preschoolers to a single (or dual) site. Case closed. Jane Addams provides as god an option as anywhere else and certainly meets middle school standards.

Parent

Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Parent, that would violate the NSAP and option schools. Frankly, maybe we need to go back to alts, not options.

Just because a school has a particular focus doesn't make them alt. They could just as well be a neighborhood school and take assignments.

I like K-8s for those who like them but they are increasingly becoming problematic for middle school assignments.

Anonymous said...

When I went to public schools in St. Louis, all schools were K-8 neighborhood schools and high schools. Only the gifted program was separate and 5 - 8.

We went private for grade school for a number of reasons on of which is the warehousing of kids going through puberty in middle schools. If JA had existed back then, we would have definitely considered it as Eckstein was already huge.

HP

Anonymous said...

Garfield teachers routinely share classrooms, allowing the classrooms to be used for all six periods and to maximize efficiency (except for the teachers, of course). I'd like to know where they are finding the extra classrooms that Garfield isn't using. I've never seen them.

GHS parent

Anonymous said...

All I see is more disruption and half-assed solutions for SW - West Seattle. How many portables can we cram at Schmitz Park and Lafayette? Let's retake Hughes instead of planning ahead. And we're heading for a crisis at the high school level with about a thousand kids beyond the building capacities in a few short years. Yet, the district estimates that the combined populations of Chief Sealth and West Seattle will SHRINK by 180 kids over the next 4 years. Insane.

What in the hell are they smoking downtown? WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Sure, it's nice to have K-8s for people who like them, and 6-8's for people who don't. Choice is a beautiful thing. But when you're out of options, you're out of options. The hand wringing is ridiculous. And the solution isn't even painful. Fill up JA, as part of JA K-8. What would people do if they had a real problem? Typical Seattle.

Parent

Jan said...

I second GHS Parent's observation. They started tossing teachers out of GHS classrooms during prep periods a couple of years ago. I thought that "space" had already been reclaimed -- unless things are less crowded now than they were then.

As for JA -- I guess I have to applaud the district for NOT going back on its "promise" of comprehensive assignment middle schools (though I agree with the commenter who spoke of the benefits of keeping kids OUT of the big, understaffed middle schools -- after putting one kid through that, we made other arrangements for the younger ones). With option schools, there are two headwinds -- they will get screams from "assigned" JA parents who wanted their kids in a comprehensive school -- AND there will be complaining from JA school and staff (even though they might welcome the numbers) because one of the great things about option schools is parent buy-in to the school's special vision/focus/whatever. Not sure exactly what that might entail at JA, but I assume that parking angry, disgruntled families there (who wanted their kids in Eckstein's orchestra or jazz band, or soccer program, etc. etc.) is NOT the shortest route to a harmonious school family.

I just wish I could shake the thought that if the numbers of families impacted were smaller, the District's fidelity to its "comprehensive middle school assignment" policy might be less robust. When the numbers of families impacted dwindle -- or those families are stuck anyway (APP, SPED, etc.), the concern about maintaining NSAP integrity seems to wilt.

And on option seats -- I would still like them to keep the concept in -- and work (long term) towards solutions that free up enough capacity to revive that option. I realize it is dead now, but it was a really good, useful option, especially for SE kids. Let's keep it and in some future BEX universe, see if they can plan sufficient capacity to revive it.

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