Thursday, January 17, 2013

No Clear Answer for the NE

I attended today's Operation Committee of the Whole where some important issues for school year 2013-2014 were discussed.  Those would be transportation and what to do in the NE middle school region.

The regular Operations Committee meeting went over some sundry items but President Smith-Blum, who came in late, explained she had been at a meeting about Yesler Terrace.  Apparently there will be a large number of very low to moderate income level apartments coming in there and this is something for both the Board and staff to consider in the future.

The Transportation presentation was a bit confusing as there several new options in addition to the current one.  The long-term goal is to get to three tiers - each an hour apart - so that they can flip elementary and high school start times, with high school getting a later start time.

Staff had recommended shifting 26 elementary schools 10-15 minutes earlier and 30 minutes earlier for four K-8s.  This, according to staff, would imporve sevice levels for all the schools with a more consistent drop-off and pick-up time.  It would also save about $230K from transportation.  (I believe the four were TOPS, Salmon Bay, South Shore and Jane Addams but they are not listed on the sheet.)

Director Carr, who had not been part of past discussions, cut to the chase.  The district needs to make a decision on these times and it needs to be done soon.  Carr said they have a $16M shortfall in the budget and those cuts have to come from somewhere as Central has been cut to the bone.   Director Peaslee pointed out that those earlier times for the K-8s would be in line with what times other middle schools start.

That recommendation got moved forward for Introduction at the next Board meeting on January 23rd.

Which brought us to the main event - what to do in the NE middle school region?

Pegi McEvoy explained the three new options and I either missed the staff's true recommendation or she didn't actually say but I believe they are recommending the "no feeder patter or boundary changes."

Tracy Libros of Enrollment stated that they would then have no boundary changes for the enrollment plan.  But that they would have a "planning principal" in place for a JA Middle School by Sept. 2013.
(Also, it appear the recommendation is to give Thorton Creek one more year of preference to Salmon Bay after the sibling tiebreaker.)

Ms. McEvoy said they had received 500 responses to their e-mail query about which option community members favor.  Here was the breakdown:

                             6th Grade Academy            Co-location at           No change
                                                                               Jane Addams

Support                                  57                                   162                          182
No Support                            95                                     78                            19

As you can see, No Change got the most support votes and the least no support votes.  But co-location received a lot of votes as well.



Phil Brockman, the head Executive Director, said he had spoken with each of the principals in the region.  Hamilton wanted support for master scheduling and room utilization.  They said if they had more wireless in the building that they could free up some computer areas.   Eckstein asked for help with supervision at school and with better utilization of the hallways and lunchroom.  And Jane Addams has four new classrooms opening up over the summer.

Then we started with the discussion and Director DeBell, in the first in series, came in first.

He said that he felt that the change in the staff recommendation didn't really cover a multi-year look that would daylight the costs of these mitigations.  He said that continuing mitigation isn't a solution which is why he was enthused with opening the middle school at JA.

Then Pegi McEvoy mentioned that one issue that also needed to be considered in the decision is that program placement decisions are to be made in March.

DeBell came back again saying that the district HAD opened new schools - multiple ones at once - and it had gone fine.

President Smith-Blum then carefully walked through the charter that showed costs for each plan.

Director Carr said they should be moving in the direction of a new middle school.

Director DeBell again said that it was "really important" to look at the multi-year plan but we still have no idea when the budget will get better.  "All we are doing is deferring and paying mitigation costs."  

It was pointed out the JA K-8 principal, Debbie Nelsen, would be doing the principal planning for the new JA Middle School.

Then Director Martin-Morris chimed in about the "multi-year approach."  At this point, it felt like Carr, DeBell and Martin-Morris were tag-teaming each others' talking points.

Ms. McEvoy pointed out that they would have to mandatorily reassign about 180 students who thought they would be going to Eckstein.

DeBell came back and said he appreciated that issue and was sensitive to it but, "like the dollars, we are going to do mandatory reassignments anyway (the next year) so why wait longer?"

Carr asked about boundary changes and Tracy Libros said they would be out by winter of 2014 (either December or January).  She said it would be long process and promised that no one would be caught off-guard.

Director Peaslee asked about what schools would start the roll-up at JA and would a redraw of the boundaries change that?

Libros said that it was likely that Olympic Hills and John Rogers were likely to end up at JA Middle School but Sacajawea was uncertain.

Then Peaslee asked a question about the planning principal and McEvoy said something that set off alarms in my head.  She said that the planning principal would be at the JA site and planning for "Eckstein kids in the north annexed area."  Apparently, it could be a rollup OR annexation.

Smith-Blum asked about the possibility of students assigned to Eckstein one year and redrawn elsewhere the next.  Pegi said that was an option but that they had given parents the option to choose one school if they had two children.

Tracy Libros also gave a bit of interesting info about JA K-8 - they had 46 new 6th graders who were NOT roll-ups from their 5th grade.  Meaning, JA is attracting in new students at the middle school level.

Both Brockman and DeBell said that making the open commitment to a new middle school would signal families to start thinking about it.  DeBell said they "missed the boat 5 years ago" and I believe he meant making JA a K-8 and not a middle school.  He made it sound like they didn't have all the data.  (That is not true; they knew this middle school issue was coming.)

DeBell, to me, came off a bit cold in his next statement which was that JA K-8 has to move and "that all has to be figured out."  So it's okay with him that 180 students who thought they were going to Eckstein next year aren't and that JA K-8 has to just adjust to any co-location or move.

Ms. McEvoy asked if each director could weigh in on what their preferred rec was.  The results were somewhat surprising.

Sherry Carr said she was torn.  "I like signaling the direction but I also recognize that we have caught a lot of people unawares.  I could go either way."

Martin-Morris said that he wanted to start on JA Middle School right away.  He said the money and the "long view" were his primary reasons and that there would be "pain" in all of this.  He said that doing nothing except paying for mitigation would be "paying for that privilege."

President Smith-Blum said that if they start the roll-up but then find the next year that they don't have continued space for JA K-8 and have to move them out, then there will be a large cost to moving JA K-8 twice.  And, that it is just as much a financial consideration as mitigation costs.  She also suggested pushing more kids towards JA K-8 in order to ward off as many from Eckstein as possible.
Director McLaren said that she while she was sympathetic to parents that she was learning towards opening JA middle school.  She said she wanted to see JA K-8 kindergarten "capped".

Director Patu said her question was - how is this affecting current JA K-8 students and the programs in existence there?  She said that moving schools affects communities and that the district tends to do moves and not give it much thought.  She said she was leaning toward no change.

Director Peaslee said she was in favor of no change along with Director Smith-Blum's idea of more enrollment at JA K-8 for middle school.

DeBell didn't weigh in but it was clear from his multiple previous remarks where he stands.

So, if you were keeping count - that's 2 for JA Middle School, 2 for no change and 2 undecided.  It appears that if you have a POV, you work on Director Carr and McLaren (sorry ladies).

Analysis

There's a lot to be said here.

One, I believe the mitigation costs are a bit of a red herring.  The district knew that they would be having to do more (and, in fact, I predict that even if they open JA Middle School, they STILL will pay out some costs anyway).

Two, as President Smith-Blum rightly points out there are costs no matter what they do.

Three, no change doesn't mean "do nothing" and I think it's a bit unkind to say that as if staff will all sit back and do nothing for the rest of this year on this issue.  No change means long-term planning and lots of it.

Four, it is somewhat disingenuous for Director DeBell to say "hey, we've opened new schools before."  This is NOT just opening a stand-alone school and he knows it.  It is opening a new middle school (as opposed to elementary) AND co-locating it with an established program.  No, it's not the same thing.

Five, I would point out that waiting for new boundaries would allow the pain to be shared rather than one small group of students and parents having it one year (and then again, possibly the next).  Sometimes the sting is lessened if you know a lot of people are sharing it.

Weigh in as you like.


84 comments:

L7 said...

the North End blog

Melissa Westbrook said...

Uh L7, this was all that was discussed. If there had been discussion of any other areas, I would have reported it.

Anonymous said...

1. Melissa - thanks for reporting on this meeting.
2. I wish you were more neutral on this issue since your kids are graduated.
3. If Tracy says the new boundary maps are coming out in Dec/Jan 2014 that means we will go through this chaos all over again next year just like this year - only on a much bigger scale!
4. In my opinion the only way to get SPS to start planning for a JAMS now is to open the school now in 2013-14. Otherwise they will just kick the can down the street until next year.

Seattle dad

Anonymous said...

I think the same than Seattle Dad, if we agree on the No 3 plan called "Do nothing" the District for sure will do nothing for a year and next year we will have an even bigger problem.
Start JAMS now

Melissa Westbrook said...

Why should I be neutral (asked in a neutral tone)? I attend the meetings, read the documents and yet I have to be neutral?

If you have been following along, there WILL be chaos next year no matter what. JA Middle School is not going to do much at all for capacity management issues so I"m not getting this push.

They didn't wait to plan the schools they reopened previously and no, they won't wait on this either. You forget - this is NOT about one school. It's about the whole region. There is no way they can turn away.

Better to plan well and do less harm, than a quick decision that has ramifications for years to come.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Tonight in the meeting the district said that Sacajewea possibly could feed into W-P instead of JAMS. Assign them now to JAMS and then change the boundaries AGAIN in a year to affect these same kids? Tear their new community apart?

All boundaries should be drawn, then we'd know the end goal. People keep saying that we should be moving toward the district's longterm plan, but that is hard to do without the information we'll have after the boundaries are redrawn.

Also, after boundaries are redrawn, the 6th grade at JAMS could start in 2014 with ALL of the kids that are going to be going there (including probably some from Wedgwood and maybe Viewridge areas), which would give them more of a critical mass for a good first year (more than 150 kids). Start JAMS now and the program will be designed before the other families get there. I would think they'd want to be involved.

Sounds like (from the meeting tonight) we could be quite a ways along on the boundary redraws by early next fall (even holding some input meetings this spring.)

It seems shortsighted to shift ~150 kids to a new school (and expect them to start a new program in 8 months) and begin to push out a school of ~600 kids in 2013 to gain about a 100 spaces TOTAL between Eckstein and Hamilton. 100 spaces is just not enough to justify it (especially when the principals and staff at Hamilton and Eckstein say they can wait a year!)

~slow down, you move too fast

Anonymous said...

And thank you, Melissa, as always for trying to recap events and conversations and then sharing your opinions, which are clearly delineated from the events.

~slow down, you move too fast

Anonymous said...

Melissa:
Would the new JAMS option mean another APP split next year (on middle school level this time)? Somebody suggested that on the APP blog.
HIMS mom

assignments web said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Slow Down, very well put. And not a single Board member addressed that no real capacity management shifts would happen if JA Middle School opens.

HIMS, I have no idea. In my letter to the Board I pointed out two things. They need to give the Pinehurst community a real answer and APP cannot be kicked down the road any longer.

I would hope that APP would not be split again but given the silence from Advanced Learning and everyone else, I just don't know.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Catherine said...

Reposting for 8:13 anon since it's not signed "I would like more information on the central administration having been 'cut to the bone,' as Director Carr puts it. Can anyone direct me to detailed information on what has been cut? Why are we still paying for two special ed directors? Will Dusseault's position be filled? Is this statement by Carr really true. It does seem as though they have cut lower level folks and shifted work to the building admins, but what about the higher ups? What do they do? What are their responsibilities? My apologies if there is another thread on this... please direct me there. Thank you."

I think that question should go straight to Director Carr - because I scan this blog and the news fairly regularly, and I've seen nothing about it, and the last number from 2010, was that SSD Admin is 12% above the national norm in central admin staffing (based on urban districts per student.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous who agrees with Seattle dad,

Something tells me your tune would be different if you had a fifth grader who was affected by all of this.

At the core of this issue, the KIDS are the most important factor. It is simply wrong to dramatically uproot their expectations AND send them to a school that has been thrown together at the last minute. This is a transitional and important year in a child's education--- and at this point, to throw a child into a school that has been slapped together at the last minute is not only irresponsible, it's criminal.

Also, I moved into the Wedgwood area eight years ago because I knew my child would be going to Eckstein. That meant a complete offering of electives and a top-notch music program. I am furious that all of a sudden those choices will no longer be made available to me.

~DONE with SPS

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, Central has been cut back. It did take awhile but it has happened. That said, I'm not sure how effective the Ex Directors are as well. Might be a good question to ask principals. I am also troubled by the very large capital staff (but that comes out of capital funds, not operations).

To Done's point, what really upsets me is that, once again, it is the Option school that takes it on the chin. Truly, the Option schools are the lesser children of this district and, when push comes to shove, they bear the brunt of changes (that affect their programs).

And the district DID say, and repeatedly, to those families that they would not see changes next year.

uxolo said...

Melissa has an incredible history having studied the enrollment process and capacity of the SPS properties for many years. I see nothing biased in her reporting and appreciate her knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Sent to the school board ...

Dear Directors:

Please consider NOT extending the Thornton Creek preference to Salmon Bay for another year. Salmon Bay had a large wait-list for 6th grade last year and it is the ONLY choice that the NW has if they believe Whitman Middle School will not work for their middle schooler. It does not make sense to keep busing students from the NE to Ballard.

Please give NW students access to the middle school option at Salmon Bay ... they should not be left on the wait-list in preference of NE students.

Thanks for your time.

NW Mama

Noreaster said...

The immediate JAMS assignment seems crazy with such a short timeline. The kids who get assigned there next fall end up in an untested, small, patched-together program that may or may not be connected to the MS of JA-K8, nobody knows, which won't be anything like Eckstein or Hamilton.

This whole thing is shameful. The district knew it had this problem 4 years ago when it started JA K-8, and then they did NOTHING. Same applies to APP, and capacity in general city-wide. Instead of solving the problems, they wait until communities are pitted against each other, and call that "community engagement".

Need Support said...

I'm glad to have Ex. Directors in our schools. Sometimes principals don't do their jobs. Having an Ex. Director gives me another person to go to.

Audrey said...

When we talk about splitting APP multiple times, I am confused. I guess I need an example of what is happening. Are we talking about the kids that are in APP going to a different school than the rest of their class? or is there another split that is occurring or feared in this JAMS scenario?
Thanks,
ALRich

Audrey said...

Melissa - thank your for your continued diligence in bringing us the issues over the years.

Please explain why the JAMS option does nothing "much at all for capacity management issues" in the NE? The doc that the BOD used last eve seems to say that it could potentially move 368 kids out of Hamilton and Eckstein. Somewhere I read that JA would have capacity for up to 1000 for Middle school. Is that not true? Is that not a good option? Please play devils advocate on the JAMS a bit more if you can. It seems it is the choice of the majority right now, no?
Thanks,
ALRich

Be careful what you wish for said...

There are about 150 kids in 5th grade living in the attendance areas of the schools that the district has identified as possibly rolling up to JAMS immediately (this is different than the 113 enrolled in those 5th grades because of the old school assignment plan / choice system and option school enrollment). Moving Laurelhurst kids (75 enrolled in 5th grade there - but the number living in the attendance area likely varies somewhat) from HIMS to Eckstein does very little to alleviate capacity at Hamilton.

How would they get to 368 without splitting APP?

There is not enough information about how this plan would actually play out for a vote next week.

Anonymous said...

NW needs another option school.
Also NW Mama

NW Mama 2 said...

NW needs another option school.

Anonymous said...

Audrey-You have to compare the numbers to the numbers in the "no changes" column. Under no changes, the JA K-8 is projected to have 255 middle school students. Opening JAMS increases it to 368, for a difference of 113 additional students total. If you look at Eckstein and Hamilton's numbers in the no changes column vs the JAMS column, you see that the net effect is that Eckstein would have 75 fewer students and Hamilton only 38 fewer under the JAMS option. And no, it is not the most popular option. No changes is. And rushing a slapped together middle school to open by September in a completely undefined co-location situation with the K-8 is certainly not the first choice of those of us whose children will be sent to this disaster in the fall.
-Hoping for better.

Anonymous said...

Actually Thorton Creek needs to be K-8 so those kids can continue their program instead of having to go to Salmon Bay for 6-8. I would bet that a lot of kids in Thorton Creek would go to JAK-8 over Eckstein. Option schools have waitlists. We should be expanding them rather than contracting them.

So if this issue continues up to High School does that mean that Ingraham will be forced to expand? I have heard that they have room for more but don't want to get any bigger.

HP

Po3 said...

IF JA is converted to a MS, where will all the K-5 students go?

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Po3, the E-STEM K-8 program at JA will move to Pinehurst in its entirity, JA will become a middle school only.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Audrey, you may be misinterpreting what I am saying.

I am NOT against the creation of JA Middle School. It should have been done from the time they closed Summit.

But I am not for opening it next fall. And, since the primary issue seems to be capacity management and Hoping for Better laid it out quite well (thanks!) about the numbers.

It simply does not help Eckstein or Hamilton that much next year so why the rush? I would guess that most of the kids in the new middle school will be the ones forced there and there would not be many "volunteers".

As for APP, the issue is cohort size. It is pretty important to have a stable number of APP kids together to provide the classes they need. If you break up APP, you dilute that size and you dilute the program.

Peanut said...

Looks like most Thornton Creek students go on to either Salmon Bay or Eckstein:

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/area/board/10-11agendas/011911agenda/martinmorrisamendment1actionreport.pdf

Anonymous said...

oh the irony, they couldn't make Jane Addams a middle school when they closed Summit because they had no where else to put all the extra elementary students. Now here we are again, and they can't make Jane Addams a middle school, because there is no where to put all the elementary students. But the difference this time is they already opened all of the closed schools so what happens now.

I guess the plan is to scare everyone into moving to the suburbs.

- ne mama

Patrick said...

NE mama, yes. The District makes me think of a canoe being paddled down a river by a beginning canoer, running into one bank, frantically overcorrecting, running into the other bank, too busy responding to one crisis to anticipate the next one.

One year new students have to put their choices down in order and they might get nothing that's at the same end of the city that they are, so to fix that they made neighborhood schools the priority. But now that neighborhood schools are the priority, option schools in underschooled neighborhoods are getting squeezed out. Of course they could have started assembling real estate at the same time as adopting the NSAP, or had a process for changing boundaries a little bit every couple of years instead of stretching them to the breaking point. But that would have required looking ahead past the current crisis. Or they could have seen many former schools sold, leased out, or landmarked and unusable as schools any more, and prepared for the time when they would be needed.

mirmac1 said...

Catherine,

We actually paying for THREE SpEd directors: Jim Thorp (who has never shown his face), Bihoa Caldwel, and Stacey McGrath-Smith. Haven't you noticed the improvement...? Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

the APP parent leadership seems be to pushing hard against the ”no boundary changes in 2013” option. I'm not seeing how co-housing JAMS with JA K-8 this coming year -- against the desires of both populations -- makes for a better outcome for APP. Could someone explain this to me?
North End Pop

Anonymous said...

I believe the APP community is concerned that if the District goes with the "no change" option now - but then in June realizes they can't accomodate all of the students at Hamilton and Eckstein, they will decide to suddenly shift 6th grade APP to somewhere else. With only 2 months to plan for a new school. Much like they did 1 1/2 years ago when (after school got out), they announced there wasn't enough room for APP at Lowell and thus APP would have to move.


APP mom

Anonymous said...

Can anyone give a report on the current status of thinking of the 3 directors who cover this region? Harium, Sherry and Sharon? I know the full board has the final say, but these three will carry the most weight in opinion I would think.

SavvyVoter

Anonymous said...

APP is also worried that if JAMS waits a year then Jane Addams might not be full enough in 2014 when the E-Stem program is scheduled to move to John Marshall. If the building looks a little too empty, that is a great excuse to split APP as a way to make a nice starter middle school.

There are a lot of folks in APP that think the only strategy the district has to start new middle schools is to take half of APP and move it in. Three grade bands, most of the students play music, teachers that are clearly identified with the program to move with the students. It makes a nice package.

Three new middle schools - North end APP gets split 50/50 into Wilson Pacific and Jane Addams and then Washington APP gets moved to Meany. Hence so much of the APP panic.

- old school rodeo

Anonymous said...

I would agree with APP mom, and say it is a real possibility. As we learned to our dismay 1.5 years ago, if there isn't room, APP is the moveable piece. I would say certainly an option to move APP middleschoolers to one of the empty wings in Lincoln or JM.

Been there before

Anonymous said...

It is true, they should not pretend that opening JAMS in 2013 is reasonable because they "have done it before" with elementary schools. It is irresponsible.

this email tally thing is equally crazy - it is not real data and they should not treat it as such.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the APP community is
overreacting.

It's understandable that they want to protect their kids, but they are effectively trying to throw others under the bus - in an even uglier way than they were thrown under it - by advocating for the new middle school to open this year. Even if that's not the intent, it comes across as not caring if others are treated as badly as they were.


--NNEr

dw said...

I believe the APP community is concerned that if the District goes with the "no change" option now - but then in June realizes they can't accomodate all of the students at Hamilton and Eckstein, they will decide to suddenly shift 6th grade APP to somewhere else.

I concur with your guess. There's good reason for APP parents to be concerned every time there are any changes, whether they are burgeoning populations, changes to boundaries, program placement, you name it. After being pushed around, split up, practically spat on for years, I fully expect those parents to be watching their backs at every turn.

Rumor has it that some of the directors, in particular Kay Smith Blum (who should know better!) and Harium (who has never understood) are in favor of splitting APP into several buildings around the city. Essentially completing the destruction of the program. People need to start speaking up to the Board NOW if you want to prevent this from happening.

It's easy to imagine APP getting thrown into the mix because it's convenient timing along with all the other changes, but it really shouldn't be that way.

Anonymous said...

The email tally is not anything special. The emails sent to capacity@seattleschools have been tallied every week for years now. It is not a vote. There is no prize for getting the most emails.

What would be more helpful would be if everyone that was so happy to send an email about this would also send an email to their legislators asking them for help for Seattle Schools. The bottom line is that there is just not enough schools for all the currently enrolled students.

BEX is going to help but not enough. That will become clear when they try to redraw all the boundaries and once again there are just certain parts of town where nobody fits.

- north seattle mom

Lori said...

I agree that the email vote tally is a horrible way to make decisions, and I can't believe they are giving it so much credence. There is NO WAY that the email responses represent the community at large.

Similarly, this blog represents the views of a self-selected population. Many here seem to think that the communities that would roll-up at JAMS this fall don't want to do that. I have recently heard about a PTA summit that happened this week, and as I understand it, those communities are not necessarily opposed to the idea, but they don't trust the district to pull it off well.

It would be great if someone who was at the PTA summit would come forth to talk about it. It sounds like there was actually more consensus about how to do a possible JAMS co-location than one would believe if this blog were their only source of information.

I also do think Lincoln families should be concerned about getting moved again in June. I've heard that at some NE elementaries, all of the 5th graders did AL testing this year because they want to avoid the over-crowded Eckstein if at all possible.

So, if the district thinks Hamilton can hold X number of students next year, but suddenly X+Y enroll, it seems very possible that someone will have to vacate Hamilton, and I think we all know the most likely candidate.

NE member said...

I believe no option is the better option. Co-habitating will put undue stress on the extremely successful Jane Addams K-8 program. The facility and resources available are not set up to support such demands. For example, there are only two functioning science classrooms. One is occupied full time by two grade levels (143 students), while the other, less-equipped, science class room is shared between an environmental science class, two art classes, and another grade level of science! I believe that Jane Addams could handle an increase in numbers to their middle school, however trying to co-habitat Jane Addams and another middle school will not be serving the students adequately. Before moving forward with any plan, I highly suggest visiting Jane Addams to see the layout of the school, and to truly see the amazing program they have developed and how they have stretched to serve their increasing population of students. The no change option is the better option in order to adequately plan to meet the current NE school placement needs. You can increase the enrollment of Jane Addams K-8 current middle school with the vision and structure of the K-8 model. I highly encourage every interested party in this decision (directors, board members, NE parents) to visit Jane Addams before next Wednesday to see the success of Jane Addams K-8 and the impracticality of the co-habitation model.

NE community member

Anonymous said...

Savvy voter- I was at the meeting yesterday and can report that they are split. Harium wants to open JAMS for 2013. But he represents the folks who are screaming about the overcrowding at Eckstein. He said "doing nothing isn't a viable option". (I echo the sentiment that no changes isn't "doing nothing", it is taking the time to plan and do it right.) Sharon said she is leaning toward no changes for 2013-14 with a heavy marketing campaign of JA K-8 to draw as many students there voluntarily as possible. Sherry Carr said she is on the fence and could go either way. Her primary concern seemed to be around the budget.

I just heard that Michael DeBell postponed his community meeting that was scheduled for tomorrow to January 26th. A rather cowardly move.

And tabulating votes on this is outrageous. For starters there are over 1200 students in Eckstein. But only 140 of them are going to get the shaft. Easy for the other 1060 families to drown us out. When you talk about 6th grade academy and sharing the burden equally, they quickly change their tune to no changes. Funny how people can live with the overcrowding if the alternative is moving their kids out.
-Hoping for Better

Anonymous said...

Lori-I wasn't at the meeting, but my understanding is there was some consensus around opening JAMS for 2014, not 2013, and around several basic planning steps to be taken between now and fall of 2014 to ensure that it is done in a thoughtful manner.

As for the APP families, piling on for opening JAMS is pretty short sighted if their goal is to stay together at Hamilton. Opening JAMS for next year only reduces enrollment at HIMS by 38 students for next year. That might not be enough to help HIMS for next year, and most certainly won't be for 2014. APP should be advocating hard for 6th grade academy.

Could someone tell me why the push is on to open JAMS right this moment but no one even bothered to do the impact analysis regarding the old "Scenario 4" of beginning the roll up of Wilson-Pacific MS?

-We Need More Buildings

Anonymous said...

"APP is also worried that if JAMS waits a year then Jane Addams might not be full enough in 2014 when the E-Stem program is scheduled to move to John Marshall. If the building looks a little too empty, that is a great excuse to split APP as a way to make a nice starter middle school."

old school rodeo -

The current plan does not include moving Jane Addams K-8 to John Marshall in 2014. Board members and District staff have repeatedly stated that they do not want to move the school twice. From their point of view it is too expensive, and they need John Marshall to start Wilson Pacific MS. The only way that the Jane Addams building will not be full enough is if the Jane Addams K-8 program is moved out before moving to the new building at Pinehurst. The APP community, and parents from the southern part of the Eckstein Service area are pushing hard to send Jane Addams K-8 to John Marshall ASAP (presumably to protect their own communities from going there) - but the indirect result of that would be that the new JAMS would not be large enough on its own and would need part of the APP cohort to fill the building.

This is a complicated issue with many moving parts. There are hundreds of families who live on the edges of the boundaries who have no idea if they will be drawn into JAMS, Eckstein, or WILPAC. And many aren't even aware of the coming changes.

There are just too many unknowns to start down this path in 2013.

-tired of the bullying and fear mongering

Anonymous said...

The APP community, and parents from the southern part of the Eckstein Service area are pushing hard to send Jane Addams K-8 to John Marshall ASAP (presumably to protect their own communities from going there)

Please don't judge all APP and Eckstein parents by a vocal few. They don't represent all viewpoints. Your presumptions only contribute to the vitriol.

-count me out

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did report on the current thinking of all the directors as they stated it last night in the thread.

The ones on the fence are Carr and McLaren. I do not believe there is any budge room for any of the other directors.

"The current plan does not include moving Jane Addams K-8 to John Marshall in 2014. Board members and District staff have repeatedly stated that they do not want to move the school twice."

Ah, but as President Smith-Blum said last night, if they open JA Middle School and it fills faster than they thought, they WILL have to move JA K-8 out in 2014-2015 to John Marshall and it's a huge cost to move them twice.

There is a gamble in all of these scenarios with no change being the least gamble with the fewest students affected.

First, do no harm.

Anonymous said...

I am not excusing the district for this mess. Our past has brought us to the present.

But I can also assure you that some parental opinions are getting more attention than others as a near-term plan is put together.

If a leader of a constituency offers solutions that benefit her/his constituency and puts the weight of the burden elsewhere or if a leader of a constituency cannot be civil in tone or thoughtful...those opinions don't matter as much as the parent "leaders" think they do.

Nor will those "leaders" be invited to work constructively on longer-term planning.

We may be a mess, but we're no longer hostage to bullies and demanders. I thank our new leadership for that.

"Breathing fresh air inside"

Anonymous said...

@count me out-

It is a good reminder that there is diversity of opinion among all communities. But when leaders of SNE schools and APP are sending letters to their community urging them to flood the district with emails in support of starting JAMS in 2013, it's more than just the vocal few. It's the vocal leadership, which has a more significant impact.

And it is an important point that if the E-STEM K-8 is moved to John Marshall in 2014, the ways to fill JAMS will pretty much be:

-split APP and put half at JAMS
-pull the 2014 6th, 7th, and 8th graders OUT of Eckstein and reassign them to JAMS.
-draw the feeder boundaries more broadly than people expect to pull in enough kids- that potentially means many people who expect their current 4th grader will go to Eckstein will be surprised next year.

My hope is that anyone urging for a JAMS start in 2013 is okay with any of these outcomes because without thoughtful planning for JAMS they could easily become reality. A JAMS co-location with the E-STEM program that allows them to both stay in the building until the new Pinehurst site is ready provides the middle school support and numbers for a JAMS rollup and the time for careful planning for a great new comprehensive middle school in the NNE, which is clearly needed and deserved by the NNE families.


-watching carefully

Anonymous said...

"Breathing fresh air inside", I am completely confused by your post. You seem to be speaking in riddles.

When you say:

"Nor will those "leaders" be invited to work constructively on longer-term planning.

We may be a mess, but we're no longer hostage to bullies and demanders. I thank our new leadership for that."

who are you talking about? The School Board? The District?

Thanks for clarifying.

--flibbertigibbet


Anonymous said...

@ count me out

"Please don't judge all APP and Eckstein parents by a vocal few. They don't represent all viewpoints."

Thank you for this reminder. I sincerely hope that these parents are both expressing their differing view points to the school board, and sharing their feelings with their school's PTSA leadership.

-tired of the bullying and fear mongering

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bully/Fear, who is bullying or fear-mongering?

Anonymous said...

Didn't FACMAC do some research on this? What is their proposal? Can we see their research?

Obi wan kenobi

Anonymous said...

@ -tired of the bullying and fear mongering

I try to follow this stuff but it is like following the bouncing ball.

The scenarios document that started all of this co-location talk had a very clear timeline on scenario 5 that showed one year of co-location and then re-location of the E-Stem program to John Marshall. So that is where I got the move to John Marshall.

The last BEX doc I saw had Wilson Pacific starting in Lincoln.

So I am not saying you are wrong, I just haven't seen anything in writing that says otherwise. Not that writing means anything when it seems to change daily.

- old school rodeo

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said...

I agree with -count me out who said "Please don't judge all APP and Eckstein parents by a vocal few. They don't represent all viewpoints."

@ -watching carefully re: "It is a good reminder that there is diversity of opinion among all communities. But when leaders of SNE schools and APP are sending letters to their community urging them to flood the district with emails in support of starting JAMS in 2013, it's more than just the vocal few. It's the vocal leadership, which has a more significant impact.

Actually, those letters are coming from one APP parent who admits that this is just her own opinion. -- No school-wide survey on the various options has been taken.-- But she happens to be the PTA president.

As a longtime APP parent, I don't agree that forcing a rushed opening of JAMS in the fall is the best option. And it strikes me as sad and unseemly that anyone from the oft-evicted APP community should advocate for the eviction of another school community. Count me out, too.

Anonymous said...

Call me---I Opted Out And You Can Too.

PTA is more of a problem than a solution. I have written directly to board members and I urge all to do the same. I have told them that the self absorption of the Bryant PTA which is also where the APP PTA head and apparently the Seattle council PTA head came from does not speak for all of us. I don't like the overcrowding at Eckstein and Hamilton and the district and board members screwed up monumentally in their nonplanning.

But our family and others will deal with it. Why? Because some of our neighbors will get the shaft if a ill-planned scramble to locate in JA takes place. Not to mention the JA families who will also get the shaft.

I am embarrassed that our community is acting in exactly the way the stereotypes describe us. I am embarrassed that PTAs care more about moms precious darlings than the good of a larger community. Believe me, you will do more good forming your own opinions and helping out in class than spending afternoons at girls cliques, demanding that you get yours while the rest of the district suffers.

My student is going to learn a valuable lesson that an uncrowded Hamilton and Eckstein next year would never teach him.

better plan said...

The current JA K-8 could be / should be a mushroom model until the new building is ready to be moved into. That alleviates the overflow at the other middle schools and preserves the thriving E-STEM K-8 model. Two Middle schools programs and all of the elementary students (400 in all) can not survive and is unsustainable in a school the size of JA.

Anonymous said...

The "don't move JA K-8 twice" is a strawman. Every school gets moved twice when a remodel or new school is built, except those that are started from scratch. Move out once, then remodel/rebuild occurs, and they're moved back. It's common. See: Greenwood Elem. in a previous BEX cycle. Arbor Heights this time. Wing Luke this time. Every high school. For JA K-8 to say "don't move us twice" b/c it's not fair is demanding special treatment, at the expense of many other students.

Furthermore, if I were their community, I'd want to move ASAP into a building they can fully control that won't be taken from them with no notice. Does anyone really think they will get to stay in the big JAMS building until their new shiny one is done? No. Every year there the threat of being evicted in June based on enrollment will hang over their heads. Can they look a parent touring the school in the eye and say "we'll be here - we're certain of our future"? Not as long as they're sitting in extremely valuable and necessary real estate. Would you enroll your kids there with this level of uncertainty? If JA k-8 is smart, they would value certainty over their building. And that argues in favor of going ASAP to John Marshall (extracting as much extra $ as possible to move), and staying put without the threat of eviction until they have a new building. Every year they stay in their old bldg is a year they massively endanger their enrollment b/c people don't like to choose uncertainty.

-- just rip the darn band aid off already!

Melissa Westbrook said...

First, JA K-8 wouldn't have to move at all if they were left in place (Pinehurst would, though).

Second, no, every school does NOT move. Hale didn't. And the norm in the country is to build in place and NOT move out but SPS lives and dies by doing that.

And "fully control" their building? Only traditionals have that option (and I'm not even sure Schmitz Park was asked if they wanted to move their school to a new location). Options schools are ALL at the mercy of being moved. Anyone who thinks that isn't so might get a surprise someday.

Also, waiting a year allows those boundary changes so the everyone knows where they stand. Seems fair.

Anonymous said...

FYI. The new version of the Transition Plan doc is online (linked to the agenda for the 1/23 meeting).

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/12-13%20agendas/012313agenda/20130123_TRANSITION%20PLAN%20FOR%202013-14C.pdf

At first glance, it appears to be the same doc that was presented at the 1/17 Ops meeting.

-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

JA K-8 is concerned that moving twice will kill their program. It is a legitimate concern that is shared by many within the district. Moving out of a building for a remodel and then back in is much different if you are an assignment school. Plus JAK-8 will not be moving back into their same building. They will be moving to yet another neighborhood. Tough to ask people to voluntarily go through all of that.

NBN

Some Guy said...

Ripping a band-aid off doesn't hurt at all when it's on somebody else's arm.

Anonymous said...

@Call me---I Opted Out And You Can Too.

Thank you for your post. It actually brought tears to my eyes.

- tired

Patrick said...

Just Rip the Band Aid Off -- Actually, no option schools in Seattle fully control their buildings. Under NSAP, the preferred way to resolve overcrowding in neighborhood schools is to kick out an option school, and it doesn't matter how good or how popular the option school is.

The lesson for people who want option schools in Seattle is go charter. I wish that wasn't the lesson, but it is.

suep. said...

I second tired's emotions: Nice post from I Opted Out And You Can Too.

@Patrick - How is that 'the lesson' here? For one thing, a major problem that charters face is finding buildings. There aren't enough buildings currently online for existing SPS needs, let alone charters. And to what extent does any school in SPS 'control' its own building? Cooper was not an option school and it was evicted from its building. So were T.T. Minor, AAA and Meany.

The way I see it, this is is not an option school problem. This is a lack of planning district-wide by SPS, and it is affecting pretty much everyone.

Anonymous said...

Call me and others - I am sorry to see this argument becoming so negative, as school communities are pitted against school communities. I also am sorry that people are attacking hard-working and well-meaning PTA leaders. I have no idea why anyone would sign up for that job - it is truly thankless. I think some people think that the PTA should gather consensus on every single issue - it certainly wasn't possibly with this fiasco of timing from the district. I know the PTA struggles to get people to serve each year - lord knows I would never sign up. But those that take it on have to be more "in the know" than I given the hours they put in and conversations they have with district officials and others and I have to trust their judgment to a certain extent. If I don't agree with every single thing they do, well that's the price I pay for not doing it myself and I am free to send my own emails. I am thrilled that the PTA presidents had a summit meeting (why didn't the district ever think of this?) and I'm going to go with their recs. I'm guessing there are personal dislikes involved here, but I wish we could keep that off the blog. Let's remember who is to blame - the district - and the rest of us are just trying to do what is right for our kids. As for me, my family has benefited from so much cool stuff the PTA has funded or organized, it seems churlish to complain about leadership on this issue.
-if you don't like it, serve next year

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually Cooper, TT Minor, AAA and Meany were closed; their programs were not moved. Minor point but a clarification.

If you don't like, yes, you are right. However, as someone who DID put in years and years I can tell you that there are a few PTA people who don't seek out others opinions, dismiss them and let their own agendas guide their work.

But yes, the district is to blame and that this keeps going on - crisis after crisis - should tell us all something.

These kinds of issues - that could/should have been known to the district and Board - keep coming. That's why we never really get ahead. We never really get to talk about academics (except for MAP which turns out to be expensive and less than advertised).

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said...

Hi Melissa,

Those school communities I mentioned were all evicted for their buildings. The district can call it "closing" a school if it wants, but in all cases but T.T. Minor (which was rented out), the kids from those schools were dispersed in all directions and another SPS school community took over their buildings. So the upshot is the same -- arguably even worse than relocating a program wholesale.

Summit also suffered this fate, but it was considered an option school, and my point was in response to an earlier comment from Patrick which implied that only option schools risk eviction in SPS. Not true; everyone's on the capacity management merry-go-round.

Anonymous said...

To NW Mama,
I'm against thornton creek having another year of preference to Salmon bay, too. In addition to your reasons, it seems unfair that they already have an option middle school (Jane Addams). I plan to write, too.
Another NW parent

Anonymous said...

I found this exhange on the APP blog.

Puzzled said...
I'm not seeing any connection between co-housing JAMS with JA K-8 this coming year (against the desires of both populations) and a better outcome for APP. Why should an APP parent be fighting this fight?
January 18, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Anonymous said...
Puzzled -- I'm dizzy trying to follow all this, but I think this is the answer to your question. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong:

The argument I think I'm hearing is that starting up the JAMS this year would mean some NE students would be assigned to JAMS instead of Eckstein. The Laurelhurst 6th graders would go back to Eckstein, instead of Hamilton, thus alleviating the pressure at Hamilton.

One of many counter-arguments is that not THAT much space would be opened up at either Eckstein or Hamilton for 2013, so why rush and put everyone through all that when everyone could hold out just one more year, allow time for planning, and be clearer on future feeder patterns?

And to your question on how this affects APP...a major concern with the above counter-argument is the likelihood that when enrollment numbers are out in June, everyone will realize that it was overly optimistic to think that Hamilton could absorb all the kids feeding in (including a new crop of APP 6th graders not previous enrolled in APP). Then what? Those who've been around APP a few years have a good idea what ... it would most likely involve yanking APP 6th graders out of Hamilton on short notice and putting them in some other school situation. And the thing is, some of those families lived through the first APP split and transition, then the move to Lincoln and that transition. So such possibilities are all too real.

--Dizzy Lincoln parent
January 18, 2013 at 3:39 PM

(less) puzzled said...
Dizzy, thanks for answering my question. Your explanation makes sense as to why some are advocating not delaying JAMS a year. After thinking it over, however, I feel it is not in the APP community's interest to be advocating for this when the John Rogers, Sacajawea, Olympic Hills and JA K-8 communities want to wait a year.

When the District screws up, APP is first in line to get screwed over. This sucks. It's unfair. To whole families and especially the children themselves. But it's also the reality of how the district operates and that is not going to change whether JAMS starts this year or next.

I'd rather support the communities directly affected by the JAMS rollup by supporting the "no boundary changes" option and take my chances that APP doesn't get evicted from Hamiltons, than alienate those communities with the idea that a marginal amount of extra capacity would make a difference. I say this both from my "do unto others" upbringing and from the strategic point of view that having the support of those communities will help us in the long run.

Thanks again Dizzy. Your explanation really helped me clarify my thinking around this.
January 19, 2013 at 4:05 PM"


Amid all the passion and vitriol coming from some quarters, I find this conversation between ''Puzzled and 'Dizzy' very encouraging.

- North End Pop

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that the reason Thorton Creek goes to Salmon Bay for middle school is because Salmon Bay is a continuation of the same program offered at Thorton Creek. Going to JAK-8 is like going to an entirely different program. Thorton Creek really needs to be made a K-8 like Salmon Bay. Thorton Creek only going to 5th grade hurts Thorton Creek and also hurts neighborhood kids around Salmon Bay. We went private in large part because we couldn't get into Salmon Bay plus it was a long bus ride there, Thorton Creek only went to 5th grade with no guarentee that you would go to Salmon Bay for 6th grade and there was too much turmoil around student assignment. Having the a full program at Thorton Creek would be awesome.

On another note, will there be enough space in the high schools in the northend?

HP

Anonymous said...

The Thornton Creek preference to Salmon Bay is not part of the NSAP ... it keeps getting included in the transition plans. TC parents have had enough notice that the preference will end. Enrollment for Salmon Bay under the transition plans:

Siblings
Thornton Creek
Geo-Zone
Attendance Area Lottery

It doesn't make sense to continue this preference for one more year when students that could walk to Salmon Bay ended up on the wait-list last year. I think there were 67 students on the 6th grade wait-list. There are plenty of NW students that need those places.

exhausted in the NW

Melissa Westbrook said...

It is my understanding that the reason Thorton Creek goes to Salmon Bay for middle school is because Salmon Bay is a continuation of the same program offered at Thorton Creek.

No, it's not the same program; it's similar. To the best of my knowledge, TC and Salmon Bay don't have coordinated programs.

However, we get to this issue time and again - the district creates programs and parents have expectations.

Will foreign language immersion continue through middle and high school?

Will one type of alt have a middle school or high school available?

Would it be better to have Options be K-8s to better provide that continuity of program rather than trying to fund those K-5 kids elsewhere?

The district creates things in a vacuum and then acts puzzled when it doesn't work out.

Anonymous said...

I think it would make sense to make all Option schools K-8 or high school. If you pick a particular program for your child, you usually want to continue the program through at least 8th. There are some private schools set up as either K-5 or K-4 because they feed into another private school that is 5 or 6 through 12.

HP

annoyed NW parent said...

The TC preference to Salmon Bay should have been discontinued with the NSAP. The NE had the alt middle school options of JA or Pinehurst - apparently Pinehurst was too alternative and JA not alternative enough for TC, and they repeatedly refused to expand their own program to K-8. Meanwhile Salmon Bay is supposedly the NW alt elementary and middle school and also the alt elementary and middle school for the Hamilton service area. Yeah right.

Jan said...

Another reason (though less important than those mentioned, I think) that I would like to see the "no change for a year" option is that I would like to see the Board take hold of long-term planning and try to move it to a more responsible time frame. I don't recall these sorts of decisions, with these kinds of deadlines, before the NSAP and the MGJ school closures -- when it was all "hurry, hurry, we have to do this now no matter what -- oops, screwed up the demographics, sorry (a little) but hurry, hurry, now we have to do somethihg else immediately." It is expensive in terms of dollars. It is even more expensive in terms of squandering the good will and support of district families (and it creates the kind of grudging, score-keeping that now goes on -- population X or Y took it in the shorts last time, so now someone else should, no matter what the other benefits/costs of a decision might be.

If we actually want the District to come up with 3 or 4 options -- get ample public comments on those -- revise the options to take into account the incredibly insightful stuff that seems to come out of parents (I am not being sarcastic here) -- then run the NEW options past everyone -- and then present a final, third tweaked version to the board, we simply have to have a different time framework than the one we used under MGJ and Dr. E -- where really one round (with fake community involement and a little tweaking due to Board member input) was all that was involved.

Anonymous said...

May have missed this, but would the numbers work out if 6th grade APP stayed at Lincoln And Laurelhurst at Hamilton?

Just wondering

Melissa Westbrook said...

You mean is it possible? Probably but I don't see how it really helps. It certainly does nothing for Eckstein (or did you just mean for Hamilton)?

The issue is tearing APP kids away from everyone else. That doesn't seem fair either.

active APP parent said...

Late to this party, but as an active parent of an APP at Lincoln 5th grader, I have to object to the characterization of our PTA's effort.

If anything, I have seen the Jane Addams community very actively pushing the sixth-grade academy option, which would be a completely new model for the district, isn't the long-term plan, would cut kids off from the academics and activities a full middle school offers (while somehow transporting kids back to two different mother schools in an attempt to make activities work) and costs the most. Oh, and the John Marshall building isn't big enough, or certainly wouldn't be for more than one year.

From what I understand, many of the parents whose kids would be moved into the new JAMS program next year support it, because the alternative is continuing to put up with the crazy situation at Eckstein. Also, that's the option FACMAC endorsed. This is not just one school community trying to push the pain onto someone else.

But, yes, we're worried that the district, in an attempt to mollify one school community (Jane Addams), will try to make it work with no change next year, only to come back in July and come up with some even-worse option that singles out APP, again.

Anonymous said...

active APP parent,

Where are you hearing the idea that all the communities whose kids will feed into JAMS support it starting immediately? Because that's just not true. At all the recent community meetings in the NNE, parents from the proposed feeder schools (Sacajawea, John Rogers and Olympic Hills) have almost universally stated that they want to wait until 2014. No one directly affected wants to rush this and there are a LOT of unhappy families who are worried that their current 5th graders are getting yanked from Eckstein and will get a second-rate MS experience, especially in terms of missing out on the awesome Eckstein music program.

NNEr

Anonymous said...

Active APP Parent, the irony is rich in your statement:

"the district, in an attempt to mollify one school community (Jane Addams), will try to make it work with no change next year, only to come back in July and come up with some even-worse option that singles out APP, again."

So the attempt to mollify one school community (your words) might makes things worse for one school community (APP). But of course your school community is more important than JA (and the other schools in the NNE). Priceless.

- SMH