Despite the weather, several of us came to last night's Work Session believing we would see some real progress in what the interim plan for capacity management might be for 2013-2104. I left at 7:45 p.m. shaking my head.
Once AGAIN, the district is a day late and a dollar short.
I know staff works hard. I know they want to get input via the public both formal (FACMAC) and informal (community meetings). But it's December 20th (and neigh the end of the world upon us) and NOW they have new ideas? Even as they heard, for MONTHS, that they were not addressing the north end middle school issues?
I guess I could say congratulations to all the NE parents who stood up and said, "You need to solve this." But school starts up on Jan 7th with a "plan" to be presented at the Board meeting on Jan. 9th. Once parents look at these new ideas (and there are five of them), how will the Board and staff know which one(s) parents believe will work best? What school staff believe?
This is holiday break time which means no meetings and no time to walk thru each idea. (I'm thinking of having a meeting of my own simply to gauge what NE parents are thinking and presenting it to the Board and staff.) Having single e-mails come in will only muddy the waters (and that's if parents are even paying attention at this point).
Two MAJOR points:
- the NE has a large number of options now and those need to be vetted and carefully considered. And that means consideration down the road and NOT just for next year.
- it appears that boundary changes are NOT off the table for 2013-2014 AND that major boundary changes ARE coming for 2014-2015. This upheaval of capacity management will now ripple out far and wide. Be aware of that.
I'm going to run through most of the meeting and then get to the NE which is where the real meat of the discussion is.
FACMAC had their recommendations out. This was good but odd because my understanding is that the FACMAC committee did not see this before the Board. I would have thought that they would be the first to read what they were recommending. I'll have to ask the chairs about that.
One chair, Elizabeth Wong, sat with staff and Board members and gave a careful accounting of their recommendations. She put forth that the most important thing is the alignment by the staff of short, intermediate and long-term capacity management plans. "The community needs to see the continuum."
She called for the minimum of disruption to the least number of students from any interim plan with the maximum benefit to as many students as possible.
From their recommendations and those of the staff, it would seem that annexing kindergarteners in West Seattle is off the table. Any problems at those schools, portables will have to solve.
One continuing issues - that I'm not sure many are totally aware of - is where schools that are having a building renovated will go to during that renovation time. Our district is completely dedicated to moving off-site. I have heard various reasons (and I get some of them) but I will point out that it is NOT the norm in most districts.
That this consideration is one of the DRIVING issues on capacity management is troubling. One example is where Olympic Hills will go during their renovation. I think it looks like they may take over the Cedar Park facility (as is the district's right but yes, it will disrupt what the community has been doing in and around it for a very long time).
I did hear an alternative idea for the Central Area (not from FACMAC or staff but by a parent) who suggested that Madrona K-8 move to Lowell and Nova takes over Madrona's building (thereby allowing for the expansion they desire). That would fill Lowell, allow more room at Meany and move the Mann building to the END of the BEX list since it would not be needed immediately.
One good point that was made by President Smith-Blum (and I think most agree) is that the grandfathering of sibs and transportation needs to end sooner rather than later. We need to TRULY see how the plan plays out in real time.
If we have NSAP, the district needs to get on it to full implementation and not continue to drag out these issues. If you choose to go to an Option School, you may have to provide transportation. Is that entirely equitable? No, but again, the district also doesn't have money to spend on transportation. Does that mean that some sibs at JSIS may have to split up? Yes, but other families have had to face down that choice and I'm not sure program trumps the NSAP (and certainly not just one program.)
The Board did ask some questions about all these portables. The costs do NOT include operations and as President Smith-Blum pointed out, those are real costs. Director DeBell also pointed out that the money does not include removal costs in the future nor the impacts on core facilities.
A lot has not changed since staff's last capacity management presentation for areas other than the NE.
They did include adding Hughes as a possibility for STEM K-5 since FACMAC suggested it. They also are considering the FACMAC rec of reopening Fairmount Park as a neighborhood school but not for 2013-2014.
President Smith-Blum, upon noting a portable to be at Stevens, said that she did not believe there was space for it but staff assured here there was. She said she believed that the boundaries in her region for elementaries had really not been thought out and I think that is a direct signal that those will change in the future.
Long discussion over Adams Elementary and the possible loss of their music room which would be a major impact to their program. There had been a possible idea of the students using some space at a nearby community center but DeBell doesn't believe that is feasible. In fact, he stated that Ballard is growing and with "condo towers" going up, they may even have to reopen Webster (which is now a museum). This is the first time I have ever heard him publicly express this concern.
What was interesting on this point about music is that the Work Session prior to this one was about a grant the district is managing to put more arts - in a real and concrete way - into SPS. (More on that later.)
DeBell also expressed that McClure
has seats and like JA, needs to have them filled.
Denny would be getting two double portables. Didn't we just building them a new building and update Sealth and now both are full? Amazing.
President Smith-Blum asked about the alternative scheduling and said she is for "staggered scheduling". Interesting, I'll have to ask her about this.
There was a bright note about how some students at some schools are accessing higher level classes by merely going across the street to another school (Hay to McClure and JA to Hale). There is encouragement that more of this might be happening in the future.
I am going to write a separate thread about the NE but here is the updated presentation with new ideas on pages 26/27. There was a far more detailed document handed out but I will have to try to get an electronic copy of that one. I will try to get that done by the end of the day.