Monday, January 14, 2013

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday,  January 14th
Opening day for the Washington State Legislature.  Here's where the rubber meets the road on education.

For those legislators who don't want to raise taxes, tell us what you would cut elsewhere. 

For those legislators who say we don't need more money for public education, tell us how you would spend the current dollars better.  What would you cut and/or what would you add?  (I'm pretty sure the "private sector could do it better and cheaper" will come into play at some point.)

Curriculum&Instruction Meeting from 4-5:30 p.m. Agenda includes Creative Approach Schools update, professional development waivers and parent-teacher conferences and alternative learning experience schools or program revisions.

Wednesday, January 16th
Committee of the Whole: Strategic Plan from 4-5:30 p.m.

College Goal Sunday from 6-8 p.m. at Roosevelt High School

Thursday, January 17th
Operations Committee meeting of the Whole from 3:30-5:15 p.m.  Agenda

There will be a number of construction contracts viewed at this meeting but it stands out in importance for two things: reviewing the 2013-2014 transportation services standards and "capacity management/NSAP- comparative data reviewed."

These two items will give guidance to what the interim plan will be for 2013-2014.  From an e-mail from Director Peaslee:

Thanks to all who have provided input into our very public capacity planning process. Public involvement is playing a significant role and we are working very hard to land a plan that most will be able to support. 

My community meeting last night was packed with parents from almost every impacted school in the north end. We reviewed two scenarios that I asked staff to compare to each other. Scenario 3 would lead to a 6th Grade Academy. Scenario 5 would lead to a roll up of the Comprehensive Middle School co-located at Jane Addams with the Environmental Sciences K-8. 

The overwhelming demand from the majority present at the meeting was to delay any changes to middle school assignments by a year, allowing for adequate planning and complete information on the new programs. Some parents expressed the contrasting view that Eckstein is unacceptably crowded and enrollment must be reduced in the coming year. 

Pegi McEvoy and her staff are now working on an alternative scenario, and will present this to the School Board during the Operations Committee on Thursday, January 17 from 4:15 to 5:15 at John Stanford Center. The public is welcome to observe. The School Board will vote on the final proposal at the regular legislative meeting on Wed, January 23.

Update: an e-mail from President Smith-Blum indicates that yes, there will be another scenario to come out at this Operations Committee meeting.  I'll see if I can find out any advance details.


So yet ANOTHER scenario to come out?  Will this be the one that says hold tight for another year and give real and needed planning a chance because of the wide-ranging implications for the entire district?  We'll see.


Saturday, January 19th
Community Meeting with Director DeBell from 9-11 am at  Caffe Appassionato,
4001 21st Avenue W.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any new scenario should include the firm date by which boundary changes for 2014 will be available for public review.
--Boundary watcher

Anonymous said...

My sources inside SPS tell me that the boundary changes will also include a Guiness-record breaking game of musical chairs to be played city-wide.

-NEDad

Melissa Westbrook said...

Boundary, do you mean 2013-2014 or 2014-2015?

Anonymous said...

2014-2015 (sorry). Given the level of impact, the date and review process needs to be well-defined.

Boundary watcher

Melissa Westbrook said...

Agreed. I hope this new option/recommendation/scenario is to hold tight. There are too many ramifications if a quick (and poor) choice is made.

And, at this point, with the constant changes, it would see ill-advised to come out with something completely new without vetting.

Wonder what FACMAC thinks?

Josh Hayes said...

Well, it's this week, so...

I'm told that NOVA was on lockdown for a time this afternoon (Monday); anyone know why?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Nova and the World School went to Shelter in Place mode a bit after 2p. I'm a parent and happened to be at Nova at the time. From my point of view, the two schools coordinated well w/one another, students and staff secure in classrooms quickly. The all-clear was given before 2:30.

I don't know the details, but it sounds like there was an armed robbery of a home in the area and the district called for security measures.

Enormous thanks to our school staff for their support of our students.

-owlhouse

Anonymous said...

HIMS also had an earthquake drill in 6th period today.
HIMS mom

mirmac1 said...

Love how that new safety initiative has improved communication with families...NOT!

Recently I have taken it upon myself to let Banda/his expensive PR people know that, maybe, they should use the fancy robocall system to let us know WTF is going on!

Margaret said...

As I understand it, an additional meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 17 at Laurelhurst Elementary School at 6:30 (I'm guessing immediately following the one at the John Stanford Center?) This is from the HIMS home page:

Important News for Parents: SPS and the School Board are in the midst of discussing a variety of short-term capacity management plans to address enrollment growth. Whatever plan is chosen will affect NEXT school year (2013-2014).

A summary of the capacity management options currently being considered can be found here. These alternatives include the development of a Sixth Grade Academy at the John Marshall building, where all incoming Hamilton and Eckstein sixth graders would attend the Academy for one year before transitioning to their respective middle schools for seventh and eighth grade. We understand that the Academy option has gained traction and want to alert parents of an upcoming meeting (listed below) with School Board members where interested parents can be part of the conversations and express their views.

Thursday January 17, 6:30 p.m.
Laurelhurst Community Meeting
Laurelhurst Elementary School
Featuring SPS Board Directors Harium Martin-Morris and Sherry Carr, and SPS Assistant Superintendent of Operations Pegi McEvoy.

The School Board will vote on January 23. For official updates please refer to the SPS Capacity Planning & Management page.

Maybe I shouldn't complain, but we live across the street from HIMS and my son is entering 6th grade in the fall...what a bummer we may have to send him to John Marshall for a year...

zella917 said...

I though John Marshall was going to be used for the roll-up into the new Wilson Pacific middie school? If it's used for a sixth grade academy, wouldn't they still need a place to put Wilson Pacific student's prior to it's opening?
Zella917

kgroth said...

Per Director Sherry Carr it seems the District is leaning toward making no major changes for 2013-14, see her email below:

"Thank you for your email regarding our 2013-14 transition plan and short term capacity management. I appreciate that you have shared your perspective and will keep it in mind as we approach a decision. In response to parent feedback, our staff is now assessing the impact and feasibility of making no change for 2013 except for the use of surge capacity. This option, if feasible, would provide an additional year of planning time and allow the District to work boundary and feeder pattern changes in sequence with the planned opening of new schools. We will meet one more time as an Operations Committee of the Whole on Thursday, January 17 from 4:15 to 5:15 at John Stanford Center. The public is welcome to observe. The School Board will vote on the final proposal at the regular legislative meeting on Wed, January 23.

Best,

Sherry Carr"

Jan said...

I too think that the "holt tight for a year and try to get it right for the NEXT year" solution may be the right one here, though I acknowledge that some children somewhere here will end up caught in situations where, whatever solution is proposed, it would have been better for them had it been put into action a year earlier.

I just recall the "hurry, hurry, we can't wait, we have to make these decisions immediately, come what may" atmosphere that prevailed during the last closures. If we had waited a year -- even 6 months -- it would have become obvious that most of the school closures, and many of the lesser "moves" of programs were unnecessary or actually contraindicated.

This feels much more like the District is taking into account 3 and 5 year plans -- and not just reacting in panic to next year's (very real) problems.

And I for one don't mind that the solutions (both numbers of proposals, content of proposals, etc.) keep changing. I know it is frustrating -- but to me it reflects, for the first time in I don't know HOW long -- a willingness on the part of downtown to listen and adapt to what they are hearing.

We are in huge trouble, in terms of capacity, and there are lots of reasons (relating to bad management and less than effective governance) as to how we got here -- most of which relate to an unwillingness or inability to collect good data and analyze it effectively, and a concommitant inability to develop and manage a timeline for decisionmaking that works with fact gathering, community discussion and input, and deadlines for open enrollment and school year starts.

Still -- in 2008/09, it seemed to me that the "commitment" was to preserving the "look and feel" of decisive action, regardless of its reality. It felt to me like the Board thought it more important not to undermine the impression of MGJ's leadership, or the validity of her staff's recommendations than it was to actually observe whether her data fit reality, or to absorb any of the community feedback (anguish, anger, better facts and analysis, etc.) that was generated.

There are no great choices here, only "less bad" ones -- and those will vary from child to child, depending on circumstances. But as uncomfortable as this entire process is -- it still feels better than what was done with the last school closings and the adoption of the NSAP.

Hoping so anyway.