Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Making Sense of Funding Foreign Language Immersion


To start, I think that foreign language teaching is great and should be started in every elementary school. I would advocate for foreign language several times a week in every elementary versus what we have now which are four foreign language immersion elementary schools that are ONLY open to neighborhood children.

I did a previous post on this subject that covers some of the history. JSIS started as a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland "hey kids, let's open a foreign language school to honor a beloved superintendent." But, where was the discussion about funding, where those kids go AFTER elementary and how to expand the program? Nowhere.
 

Guess what? John Stanford International School was a wild success and left other parents clamoring for more.

It took the district nearly eight years to bring a couple more schools on-line and then McDonald in the last couple of years. (They did also finally get around to figuring out a pathway to middle and high school although those paths are not immersion.)

Next, I have absolutely nothing against the parents in the JSIS or McDonald schools. They didn't create their schools or how people get assigned there. (JSIS/McDonald are more closely matched than Concord and Beacon Hill.)

But I will also say that most people believe these programs should be Option schools. Plain and simple.

So from the start here, I am going to advocate for that change. I'm sure Tracy Libros in Enrollment will NOT be happy and say it can't be done but folks, they are changing the boundaries wholesale by the end of the year. If not now, when? I cannot see it happening if those changes don't come now.

Of course, you can leave the situation as is but, as I am going to tell the Board tomorrow night, let's all be clear that our Board and our district are okay with a totally inequitable program that exists in our district. As long as we say that out loud and everyone knows this, fine. And, that the district and the Board are voting to continue that inequity.

Here are some facts about the funding for these schools:

- every school received a 3-year funding from $75-100K to open. That covered pre-planning, opening year and the second year. JSIS also had grant funding from various sources but that has long ran out.

- the district did help fund McDonald's IAs last year. It seems that funding will not happen this year.

- Beacon Hill and Concord have their IAs funded through different low-income funds including Title One. That is why the discussion about funding IAs is more around what JSIS and McDonald do. However, if Beacon Hill and Concord had to pay for their own IAs, it would be interesting to see what the district would have done. Would they allow better-off foreign language immersion schools to fund IAs but the less fortunate ones would have to make do with just teachers? Hard to say but the inequity would be even more glaring.

- the district did not ever promise to fund IAs and, indeed, is under no obligation to do so. Other programs in other districts function without them. (This is not to say that they don't help; I'm sure it's a better program with them but it is quite costly.)

- the cost of the IAs - per school webpages - figures to be around $1,000 per student.

- to be clear, school groups - whether under the flag of a PTA or a separate booster or special fund group - may raise money to fund a staff position. Duggan Harmon verified that to me. So if your school wants to raise money, fine, but you might consider what Principal Floe at Ingraham has said in his "no" to staffing that way. It's too much pressure on parents. That will become clear later on in this thread.

So what is the issue at hand? JSIS and McDonald are raising over $250k each (JSIS hopes to raise $445k and McDonald hopes to raise $375k) to fund their IAs for next school year. Board policy says that for the district to accept any money over $250k, the Board has to approve it.   That's why it's on the Board agenda.

I looked at both schools' websites and found some astonishing information. I can only say those are dedicated parent communities because that is a helluva lot of money to raise and be on the hook for every - single - year.

The district has had issues in the past with schools raising money for a staff position only then to either not raise enough and/or not get the person they wanted for the position hired. So the district has a new form that has to be filled out that the group raising the money will take responsibility for the costs as, in the past, some didn't and the district was left filling the gap.

Both JSIS and McDonald are pushing parents heavily on the money. McDonald, to my former PTA co-president mind, is being very aggressive. Let's look at what they say.

JSIS

  • They have both IAs and some interns (I think this may be true in any given year at any of the four schools).
  • They wanted to raise $250k last year and raised $270k. This year they want to raise $450k. That is a brave goal. Is it a sustainable one? I just can't imagine that but here's what was said:

Numerous families have voiced their frustration regarding the lack of a dedicated IA in their child’s classroom. We heard you. And we (JSIS administration, staff and parent representatives) believe a dedicated IA is the ideal foundation for every child’s success. To achieve this goal, we need to raise $450,000 or $986 per student, to hire 10 IA’s for the 2013-2014 school year.

McDonald

  • They do a comparison to what it would cost to send your child to a private school (but there really aren't many private schools that do language immersion so it's not exactly an accurate comparison).
  • They note that you could break your payments into $120 a month chunks that would equal $1200 by the end of the year.
  • They put what I might call "muscle" in their "ask": In March, we will begin our direct ask campaign and will phone every McDonald International Family that has not given to ask for a donation and educate them about the Immersion Support Fund. You can avert this call, by giving your lump sum donation prior to the “Phone-A-Thon”. Or you can wait for your call and commit your donation right over the phone. I would not appreciate this phone call.
  • I didn't ask Duggan but I'll ask the director, Karen Kodama, if every teacher in our foreign immersion schools is a native speaker. They claim this is true and that would seem quite a trick to find that many of them.

So, does this matter?

Does this mean that in the future, we only put foreign language immersion schools in wealthy communities that can pony up or poor communities where some costs can be covered by the feds?

Last, is this system equitable to anyone?

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

This actually seems a pretty sensible setup to me. It seems to allow more government money to go to low income neighborhoods and let more well off neighborhoods raise local money to make up the difference. Two schools in lower income areas are getting external funding. Two schools in higher income areas are getting funding from parents. It appears to roughly add up to the same thing for the kids: extra IAs. Isn't this a good thing?

Regarding making these schools option schools - perhaps, but that really doesn't address the real problem: supply isn't meeting demand. I'd be curious to see how many immersion schools it'd take to actually meet demand. 8? 12? More? And, if so, what are we doing something to get there? Are the funds available to open these programs in other lower income areas? Can other schools tap into the same sources of money that Beacon Hill and Concord are?

Immersion Fan

mirmac1 said...

But the government money going to Concord and Beacon Hill meant to support the ELL students learn the language while staying at grade level. So what happens when their IAs are spread out over non-Ell? That is misspending restricted-use funds. And the ELL students are left to sink or swim. All so that others may have an immersion option. Is math in Mandarin so vital?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Immersion Fan, you miss the point. The burden on the parents in the higher end neighborhoods. That's huge. And every single year? With that kind of pressure?

And, what about a middle-class area? No immersion for them (or at least no IAs) because they have neither the low-income ELL students OR the fundraising chops?

That's a good question on the demand.

Anonymous said...

Since these are neighborhood schools, parents HAVE to fund these, and aren't given a choice. Yes, it's "voluntary," but it sounds like a lot of pressure is placed on the parents to fall in line.

I know families can choose to send their child to another school, but it means a lot to many families to have their kids where the other kids around them are. If immersion isn't available at no cost to families, it shouldn't exist. It also shouldn't exist if it takes more expense to have these schools. Immersion is a nice to have, not a must have.

pickles

Anonymous said...

I can reason out why this makes sense but my gut reaction is a strong 'this feels wrong'. I think my gut would be less gutted if these schools were option schools not neighborhood schools. Then at least there would be a reason for a wild departure in operations and in parent expectations. But as neighborhood mandatory attendance schools? It feels bad and I suspect to many parents in other schools across the district it looks bad.

The individual calls at home to ask for a 4-figure payment is another place that my gut says ick, even if it meets the letter of the fundraising guidelines.

I will be interested to hear the board's reasoning on the request, especially Director Carr's as they are in her area, I think?

SavvyVoter

Anonymous said...

Before dismissing language immersion as altogether too costly--or saying it can't be done in middle income neighborhoods--I think there's value in having a conversation about whether immersion can be done less expensively. Are some languages more expensive than others (e.g., because they require different materials or more IA support)? Is the half-day immersion model more or less expensive than full-day? Would there be cost savings if only a single immersion language were taught rather than two (e.g., due to better ability to keep class sizes near capacity)? Other districts do it, why can't SPS? (If we had a dollar for every time someone has asked that question, we could fund all the IAs anyone could ever want!)

Re: the fundraising burden on parents at some schools, yes, it's a lot to ask. The significantly higher target for next year at JSIS is particularly striking, and I'd be curious to hear whether the IA funding issue in the current year was the concern of a small but vocal group, or the parent community overall. I suspect the fundraising numbers will ultimately help tell that story, as those who feel this is excessive are unlikely to give at such high levels. If the JSIS and McDonald targets are not reached, it simply means the school has to make do with fewer IAs, shuffling them around to best meet the needs. I do think it's outrageous for principals to make comparisons to the cost of public schools though--sheesh!

Overall, however, I'm still confused about what the heart of the argument is...

Is it outrage over the fact that these programs are more expensive to run using the current model--even if the feds cover it in some cases and parents in others, so there's no additional cost to SPS?

Is it outrage over what is asked of parents in some schools--in which case there are many non-immersion schools that deserve to be similar targets?

Is it anger over the fact that these schools were converted to neighborhood schools instead of options?

Is it anger over district inconsistencies, changes, etc?

I understand there's a lot of passion on this issue, but I feel like a lot of issues are getting conflated here and it makes it hard to see how any one concern truly holds up. It's also confusing when one minute the argument seems to be that it's unfair that the "higher end" Wallingford/Greenlake area families get this option and others don't, while the next minute it's expressed as concern for those poor Wallingford/Greenlake parents who are asked to contribute so much!

Like I said before, I agree there are issues that merit discussion and potential changes, but I think it's crucial to first tease out what the true concerns really are.

HIMSmom

Char said...

Immersion schools work best when there is a high proportion of native speakers. By reverting to a neighborhood model, these schools- Concord excepted - have given up one of their keys to success. No amount of funding can make up for this deficit. Char

ben said...

It would have been very attractive to have language immersion as option when we were picking schools. But on a purely logistical note I don't see how you could convert language immersion to a standalone option program given our school buildings and student populations. Where exactly would we put it?

Ben

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think I made it pretty clear what my concerns are.

Yes, if they don't raise the money, the understanding is that they then will only hire what they can afford.

Ben, are you asking how you could convert these schools to option schools? That would be a question for Tracy Libros. Make their Geozones bigger or don't make them a straight neighborhood school but have one-third/one-fourth of the seats by lottery. You might get more native speakers.

Charlie Mas said...

Ben asked where would we put a language immersion option school.

I am completely confident that we could put one in the Latona building.

I think we could and should place others in the Concord building, the Beacon Hill building, and in the Wilson Elementary school when construction is complete there. I think we should equitably distribute them around the district, you know, just like the School Board policy requires.

Operationally they would be handled much like Spectrum is handled now - a self-contained program with a set capacity within the building and with a separate assignment process.

Anonymous said...

HIMSMom—for me it's "all of the above." All of those are concerns, but the biggest concern is that they are designated as neighborhood and not option schools—combined, of course with the capricious nature of program placement in SPS. How the heck can parents make a good choice about where to buy a home when the rules, programs and borders keep changing?

Solvay Girl

Jet City mom said...

with the capricious nature of program placement in SPS. How the heck can parents make a good choice about where to buy a home when the rules, programs and borders keep changing?

Which is why the Eastside suburbs have more families and diversity than Seattle does and a lower % of children attending private or homeschool.

Incoming Parent said...

QAE raises large sums of money like this too. Our auction pulled in $150,000 before the employer matching money came in (they are hoping that will be another $50K), and our fall fundraising drive (they sent home an envelope and said "donate what you can") raised $66,000. And we only have 279 students because it's such a new program. When we reach full capacity in a couple years, I would not be surprised if we are in that $400K range. I think that money is going to funding our IAs in the kindergarten classroom, art, and PE. I know last summer we also paid for some staff training in project-based learning. But as a parent who doesn't live on Queen Anne and can't afford to give $1000, I never felt pressured or excluded by the fundraising, like, nobody is cold-calling my house to say "Why haven't you given us our $1000." That would drive me out of the school, frankly. And it seems even more inappropriate to do that in a neighborhood assignment school.

Lori said...

Interesting article on this issue in Seattle's Child from September 2011.

http://www.seattleschild.com/article/a-global-education

From the article, Given that language immersion is such a desirable curricular approach, why are the city’s international schools neighborhood schools, rather than option schools, to which a larger pool of students could apply?...

“The question of neighborhood vs. option schools keeps coming up,” says Karen Kodama, the district’s much-admired international education administrator and John Stanford’s founding former principal. As neighborhood schools, access to a broader diversity of students is really limited, she notes, especially at the North end’s John Stanford and McDonald Elementary schools.

At Beacon Hill and Concord International School in South Park, however, many of the students speak English as a second language, and the language immersion programs there allow students to become proficient in both their native language and in English. Both schools serve extremely diverse student populations: children whose families are new immigrants to the U.S., children living in poverty, children with a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Making Beacon Hill and Concord option schools would exclude some neighborhood kids, who have the most to gain from the global curriculum.

As the district was developing its New Student Assignment Plan (NSAP), a group of international school principals proposed several options: making some international schools option schools and others neighborhood schools (but the district said they should all be the same), and drawing smaller neighborhood boundaries around the international elementary schools, so that a percentage of the seats would be left for students outside the boundary. This option could have been especially effective at Beacon Hill and Concord, says Kodama, as both schools wanted to increase the number of English speakers to ensure they had a 50/50 model (50 percent native/heritage speakers and 50 percent English speakers), especially in their Spanish immersion programs.

Kodama says misunderstandings between the district and the international school principals kept this idea from happening; where the principals thought such an option could take effect with the unveiling of the New Student Assignment Plan in 2010, the district was looking at 2015.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, Wilson Elementary is slated to be the new APP elementary. As much as I think language immersion is great, I'd like to make sure APP elementary has a home, too. Not to bring up APP again. But if we are thinking about immersion around the district, I agree that the north needs one. This is reminding me that I have been wondering about district land in Ballard- is the situation there the same as the NE? Or are there any buildings SPS owns over there?

Those fundraising goals are stunning, and my family would not be able to do it, especially not for more than one child. But then, I think that the price of full day kindergarten here (especially without a real half day program) is shameful, and a burden on middle class families.

-Ballard wonderer

Garfield Mom said...

I have one child in private language immersion. The other one has moved on to SPS.

Tuition varies depending on grade level (preschool to 8th grade), from about $17K to $20K per year. Plus there's an annual fund and an auction to raise additional funds of about $500K.

The only classes that have two adult native speakers in the classroom are the preschool classes. Starting in first grade, there's just one per class. Class sizes range from 15-20. There's probably less need for the extra adult native speaker because a significant number of the kids in the school are native speakers.

I don't know the answers to any of the questions raised here. I'm a huge advocate of foreign language immersion schools, not a fan of how SPS does it.

Anonymous said...

An interesting article for someone to write would be an analysis of the number of schools who use PTA funds to pay for teachers or other staff, and how this may have changed over time. I know within our PTA it is a highly contentious issue; there are what most would call "basic" needs, but many parents are opposed to having the PTA pay for staff they believe the District should be providing. There is a concern that the District will grow to expect PTAs that can must the funds to continue to pay for staff, and not budget for those positions.

In addition to staff, in this category of "things the District/State should be funding" I put things like recess monitors, professional development, and basic classroom supplies. It's just amazing what isn't funded in most public schools...

- Fund Our Schools

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting statements from Ms. Kodama; thanks for that.

The district owns the land for the Nordic Heritage Museum but I

I think it has a very long lease.

Fund Our Schools, that might be very hard to track but yes, the district is glad for and leans heavily on parents for all kinds of things.

It makes for a very dysfunctional situation (and a dependent one for the district).

Anonymous said...

Melissa, yes, you made your concerns clear, by my point is that they don't hold together well in your arguments. For example, you say these programs are too expensive and put an unfair burden on parents to help fund them--and so you are going to advocate that they be option schools instead, so a different group of parents pays? That's inconsistent.

I suspect the reasoning behind it all goes something like this, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

1. The way SPS currently does immersion, it's too expensive. We recognize SPS doesn't generally pick up the extra tab, but there are some issues with the appropriateness of federal ELL fund use in some schools, and issues with the fundraising burden on parents in others. SPS needs a more sustainable model for immersion, or should scale back or drop it.

2. If SPS wants to continue supporting this model anyway--since federal and parental funding seem to be filling the gaps--these should be option schools instead. This allows equitable access to this program across the district. That may reduce access to immersion for some ELLs in some neighborhoods, but may result in greater ELL student participation in others, especially if the district provides transportation services. This plan would add a new challenge of figuring out where all those neighborhood kids currently in immersion would go, which would particularly be a challenge in the north end since kids at JSIS and McD are clustered in relatively small and contiguous geozones, but we're confident the district could redraw boundaries to work this out, especially if additional transportation is added to address the serious shifting necessary. We recognize that many Wallingford area families will no longer have a walkable neighborhood school.

3. (This one would then logically follow.) Given this objection to parent fundraising burden as noted in 1, this issue must be addressed universally. It's not just an immersion issue. How about a more equitable cap on the amount an individual school can use, and beyond that it all goes into the pot to be shared among all PTAs? Or a ban on parents funding things that SPS should be covering?

HIMSmom

Melissa Westbrook said...

HIMS, you're making a linkage that I'm not.

I'm not linking the funding with them being Option schools. Two different things.

So to recap:
1)equity - this is a district-program that only certain neighborhood kids can access. I have tried to think of another one but I can't. This is something that many Board Directors has said should change so it is not just me.

We just carry on this inequitable system because that's the way it's been?

2)IAs - are they so necessary, in every classroom, that pressure comes from the principals for parents to fundraise enormous sums every single year?

The direction should come from the district to the principals to hold the line on IAs for these schools until the district can help pay.

3)foreign language immersion is a more expensive model so why did the district create something they don't fully support financially? I have NEVER advocated for it to go away (and I wish people would quit bringing that up).

There are several neighborhoods that don't have schools to walk to. It's a reality and until we get new buildings that isn't going to change.

As far as fundraising, well, that is a discussion but, it would seem, not one that the Seattle Council PTSA nor the district want to have. So we here can discuss it but if they aren't on-board, it doesn't matter.

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

Anonymous, I'm sorry to have to eliminate your comment but you did not give yourself a name. But to answer some of your comments:

"I think we should rejoice that parents are trying to creatively fill the gap so their students don't suffer. I would rather spend $1000 per year on public school than $10,000 on an "affordable" private school option."

Okay, BUT is that the case for every single parent in the school? You know that for certain? Probably not and the idea that a neighborhood elementary school wants you - over 6 years - to give about $1k per year(plus you may have a kindergarten and there's more money) seems like a lot.

"How much are families spending on soccer, electronics, etc., dinner out."

I didn't say Wallingford was affluent but clearly, the PTA thinks every single parent can give $1k. But understand, in this economy, many families have already given up going out to dinner and other expenses so they may not even HAVE that money to give up.

No one is forced to give this money but clearly you can see the pressure.

And BOTH schools have nearly doubled their fundraising goal over one year. Again, a lot to ask of parents.

No, we can't have some of these schools be option and some not. It is still inequitable and Board members have voiced opposition to this idea.

SeattleMom said...

Melissa,

What about the inequitable access to Montessori programs? In the north, Montessori only exists for the Bagley attendance area. Or the inequitable access to option schools? The Eckstein service area has three option schools whereas the Whitman and Hamilton service areas combined have only one. That leaves not much choice for the latter. There is a lot of unfairness in the system, not just through the immersion schools.

Anonymous said...

I am confused... Do the Concord and Beacon immersion programs have full-time IA's in every classroom?

South End Family

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle Mom, you're right. But what I would say is that Montessori is nowhere near as popular or clamored for as foreign language immersion.

Whitman/Hamilton do just have one option school - Salmon Bay. But they also have 3 foreign language immersion schools.

Southend, it is unclear to me about how much time IAs in any of the schools spend in the classroom. At the least, it's a half-day. Each school has between 7-9 IAs with JSIS budgeting for 10.

A-mom said...

I nominate Northgate for language immersion, 46% of the population is Hispanic.

Maureen said...

SeattleMom, actually anyone in the city can apply to any Option school. (And if Geographic Zones are too big, then that opportunity is meaningless.) It is true that transportation is only provided in a MS service area (so NE gets transported to Thornton Creek, JAddams and Pinehurst and some get a shuttle to Salmon Bay as well.) I don't think SPS advertises this very well.

Note, one reason JSIS and McDonald are right next to each other is that the Board wanted a critical mass to move up together to a Middle School program. Making immersion programs into Option schools would alleviate this issue-- Option immersion kids could feed up together to a more centrally located middle school.

So say they either split the JSIS and McD programs in half and co-housed an option immersion program with a neighborhood program or made one of those schools fully neighborhood and one fully option immersion: The immersion kids could be assigned to, say, Wilson Pacific along with kids from a new north end (Northgate as A-mom suggests?) option immersion program. They wouldn't have to go to Hamilton. Transportation could be provided from SN to McDonald or JSIS and from NN to Northgate. Or, you know what, maybe just no transportaion at all. I know that is inequitable, but maybe not clearly on socioeconomic grounds.

I also think there should be a native language speaker tiebreaker for immersion schools.

kellie said...

There is only one reason why JSIS remained an attendance area school during the change to the NSAP - Bryant. Staff repeated at multiple meetings that they would be unable to draw boundaries for Bryant without BOTH opening McDonald as an attendance area school AND making JSIS an attendance area school.

This was an untenable solution to a very real problem. However, it is a very simple issue. Bryant was incredibly over-full at the time of the NSAP and Bryant was the closest school for over 800 currently enrolled SPS elementary students. That was a real problem that needed a real solution.

However the solution to Bryant is the ONLY physical school in a large geographic area is not to make the adjacent school, which just so happens to the be the school with the longest wait list in SPS an attendance area school simply so that you can draw boundaries.

So here we are a few short year later:

Bryant - still full and even fuller than before.
JSIS - still popular, still full and now has the smallest boundaries of any school.
McDonald - full and only going to get fuller.

So we still have the same issue. It is almost impossible to draw boundaries for Bryant as it is a medium size school with no option for portables. The previous neighborhood schools of University Heights and Ravenna Eckstein are gone.

So something is going to have to give. Even if both McDonald and JSIS no longer offered language immersion, it would be a huge challenge to place enough school capacity in these neighborhoods.

SeattleMom said...

I agree with Kellie. I cannot imagine how school boundaries could be drawn if e.g. JSIS became an option school. The neighboring McDonald and BF Day attendance areas are already huge. It is a shame that the University Height's Center was sold by SPS not so long ago. I am really not looking forward to all the anxiety, stress, and uncertainty that a redrawing of elementary (and middle!) school boundaries is going to cause next fall after we just went through this 4 years ago.

Charlie Mas said...

So the solution is to leave Latona as a neighborhood school and simply relocate the language immersion program.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, you have the devil in you.

I attended th School Board meeting and told them that these schools should be option schools and this kind of pressure on parents for fundraising is wrong. I appealed to Director Carr as a former PTA President and former SCPTA President.

So when they got to the discussion about this issue, it seems like some listened and some didn't.

Carr gets it...in spades. She kind of demurred about doing anything about the status of the schools but seemed to believe it will come. (I pointed out that they were going to redo boundaries this coming year and it's the best time for any kind of changes.)

She said:

"From my perspective, it highlights for all of us that we have an unsustainable funding model. Putting our schools and families in a position to finance programs in a neighborhood school. These are not option schools.

I've asked several times for staff to come back with a WSS formula for these programs, funding model. In an instance where student populations (like ELL) don't cover money for expenses, iit goes to families and it is not appropriate model for a public school system. Or have some option for families to not be subject to it in their neighborhood school."

DeBell said (and this is true to his new nature):
"Principals put forward a plan and we looked at towards a hybrid of choice/attendance for these programs. It's an open question and one that deserves attention at the appropriate time."

Yes, Michael, we can keep kicking this particular can down the road but for how long? I am also interested in this hybrid plan that he says the principals put forward.

We have a funding model, we have a varety of grants and this is a grant generated by parents. This happens all the time.

Uh, no Michael because these are grants OVER $250k that require the Board's approval. This does not happen all the time.

"It is really pointing to we are underfunded school system. This all started with grant money from outside sources and not the case here and I believe these two school communities are doing the right things."

No one said it was the wrong thing. But's not right, either.

He then called it a "Stop-gap opportunity to carry this program forward where school doesn't have ELL."

But he missed the part where the principal from McDonald said that it was NOT one-time but would be annual. The principal didn't even ask when the district might be able to fund these staff positions. Clearly, it is not a stop-gap opportunity.

I unfortunately missed the rest of the discussion but I'll review it when the tape goes up for viewing. I assume they moved it forward but I think it will still be up for discussion.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, if moving immersion out of one of these two schools to plop it elsewhere, why pull it from the school with the well-established program rather than the newer program, that doesn't yet have immersion at the upper grades???

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

I think there are a few conflated issues here.

First, on funding, I don't believe any of the international schools are getting higher funds per student than other schools in the area. I also haven't seen any evidence that they are raising more PTA funds per student compared to other schools in their respective areas. Ignore the immersion aspect for the moment. John Stanford - according to last year's budget - is getting $5802 per student. Concord is getting $7847 per student. If John Stanford manages to raise $1000 per student via alternative means, it's still not closing that gap. It's a strange notion of equity to turn down this money.

Second, on the notion of making international schools option schools, does anyone have a practical plan to make this happen? If JSIS / Latona is made an option school, where is the capacity for the neighborhood. If you move the program, what's a reasonable transition plan? Are you moving the entire existing student body with the program? Or just halting the program for those kids and starting anew with a different set? All of this sounds painful. Ultimately, this is punishing a program for its success when - given the demand - the focus ought to be on replicating it.

Immersion Fan

Anonymous said...

It is a strange notion to speak of equity for one school PTA to raise $450,000 annually and wish for replication at the same time. Not to mention the cost to sustain the MS pipeline every year down the road. What happens in HS?

triage

Anonymous said...

Cost to sustain the MS pipeline down the road? There isn't really a MS immersion program--it's just a class. Instead of your basic Spanish 1 or Japanese 2 class, they take the immersion version of the class instead. If you cut immersion in the feeder schools, you just have more kids in intro level classes. Same number of bodies, same number of teachers.

HIMSmom

mirmac1 said...

And there you have it. DeBell thinks it's just peachy to use ELL students' IAs to support non-ELL students. That's "leveraging" and "hybrid" thinking out of the box. Except it shafts the ELL students.

This is precisely like the misuse of special education funds at Ballard that produced and audit finding and is again under review.

Anonymous said...

"It is a strange notion to speak of equity for one school PTA to raise $450,000 annually and wish for replication at the same time."

Why is raising $450K a requirement? Concord and Beacon Hill are replicating the program without anything near that. And, several other schools are getting similar or more government funding. Even more (most?) schools are already getting more funding per student than John Stanford. On the flip side, I'm pretty sure a number of neighborhood schools already raise more PTA money than JSIS as well.

And, of course, JSIS doesn't have to raise $450K either. If they don't, I'm sure they'll deal, just like they are doing this year.

Immersion Fan

Anonymous said...

Look at the demographic make up of Concord and Beacon Hill. They have very high number of ELL students and a sizable Hispanic population which allows for cost effective dual language immersion program. The budget is not evenly divided out per kid like you think. Money aimed at ELL, FRL, and special ed are supposed to go for their services. If you have a kid who primary language is Trigrinya, hopefully they'll get an IA who'll speak that language and not just plunked down in an "English immersion" class.

Do you have many ELL kids at JSIS and McDonald? If not, I don't think the situations are comparable.

If the district is keen on offering sustainable language immersion, why not take schools with a sizable Hispanic population and make them immersion option schools (like A-mom suggested)? The advantage of learning with native speakers of both language is built in. The other thing with cost, why 2 languages? That seems more costly for an elementary school to bear especially if it doesn't have a sizable Japanese speaking population to begin with.

triage

Melissa Westbrook said...

Immersion, said:

I also haven't seen any evidence that they are raising more PTA funds per student compared to other schools in their respective areas.

What data do you base this on? Other elementaries are raising $300-450k a year? I can only think of one or two that would fall in that category besides JSIS and McDonald.

Also, I didn't say the district is funding anyone more. The only extra funding they get is in the first three years.

As well, the immersion program CAN work without IAs but the schools and their principals have made the determination that they believe it is better with the IAs. If Concord and Beacon Hill didn't have the fed dollars to pay the IAs, what would happen then? Because JSIS and McDonald have a parent base that can raise that money, they get IAs but a poorer school cannot? It's a slippery slope.

Good point, Mirmac. I wonder if the district might get its hand slapped for this by the State Auditor. Are the ELL students getting all the services they are eligible for via these funds BEFORE the IAs work with the rest of the class?

Wallyhooder said...

I'd like to address two issues I find disconcerting about our neighborhood's language immersion schools. This is based on past comments I've read on the neighborhood news blog, Wallyhood.

One is that the schools have divided our neighborhood into what some people believe are the "haves" versus the "have nots". People moved to Wallingford just so their kids could attend JSIS. But when the boundaries shrank, there were many neighbors who were very disappointed that their children would not be going to JSIS. Many were angry that they had to send their children to B.F. Day in Fremont (which is technically as equidistant to Wallingford Avenue as JSIS, both .5 miles, it's just the daunting prospect of crossing 99).

And when the District shrank the boundary further east to Corliss Avenue (dividing the actual street so that the eastern half goes to JSIS and the western half would attend B.F. Day) there was even more backlash. Neighbors were genuinely upset that their kids would not be attending their friends' school.

Neighbors took out their frustration on B.F. Day, saying that the school was far more inferior to JSIS. They cried "foul" because they had their hopes of sending their children to a language immersion school. (By the way, I am not judging these folks, nor am I condoning their anger).

B.F. Day, in my opinion, is a great school; but it gets a bum rap because people in the neighborhood compare it to JSIS or McDonald.

The second observation I've made is that I've heard from parents who have sent their kids to JSIS only to discover that their child was struggling with language immersion. And many of the parents who have told me this first-hand tell me that they didn't know this going in...but the struggle became evident for their children in Kindergarten or First Grade. Some folks had their kids tested out of JSIS for APP, others moved them to Salmon Bay or B.F. Day; but the thing I hear again and again from parents is that language immersion isn't for everyone.

My point here is that I believe a language immersion program should be in an option school. It doesn't belong in a neighborhood model because it truly isn't for everyone. Plus, it's a shame that our neighborhood has been divided by this.

Anonymous said...

Melissa Westbrook said:

"What data do you base this on? Other elementaries are raising $300-450k a year? I can only think of one or two that would fall in that category besides JSIS and McDonald. "

I was remember this thread which didn't list JSIS or McDonald in the top four at the time:

http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2012/01/money-our-schools-and-ptsas.html

I think it's more relevant to look at dollars / student though. JSIS has gotten a lot more crowded recently, and I think it's a fair bit bigger than McGilvra.

At any rate, someone kindly tabulated $ / student of a subset of schools including PTA (this is at least a year old):

Per Student Dollar(with PTA Funds)
Rainier View $10,794.00
Northgate $8,848.00
Roxhill $8,464.00
West Seattle $8,315.00
Hawthorne $8,206.00
Bailey $7,825.00
MLK $7,600.00
Leschi $6,766.00
Queen Anne $6,741.00
Stevens $6,671.00
Dearborn $6,660.00
Beacon Hill $6,345.00
View Ridge $6,318.00
Montlake $6,270.00
McGilvra $6,134.00
John Hay $6,094.00
John Muir $5,854.00
Coe $5,825.00
Loyal Heights $5,348.00
Laurelhurst $5,283.00

Note, this is a subset which someone tabulated. I believe if JSIS hits their target, they'd be roughly on par with QA - still middle of the pack in terms of $ / student.

"If Concord and Beacon Hill didn't have the fed dollars to pay the IAs, what would happen then? Because JSIS and McDonald have a parent base that can raise that money, they get IAs but a poorer school cannot?"

You're arguing a hypothetical situation. Concord and Beacon Hill *do* have IAs. Are you arguing that they should get IAs and that JSIS and McDonald should not?

Immersion Fan

Anonymous said...


Immersion, the surrounding elementary schools raise no where near this amount of money through PTA: Bagley - about 100K, West Woodland - about 170K, Greenwood - about 110K; Greenlake - around 130-140K. 450K boggles my mind. As a former PTA president, I can't imagine the pressure - and I can't imagine pressuring families to donate at that level. Frankly, it just doesn't sound like public school.

Another thing about immersions being neighborhood schools, and not options, is that for students with learning disabilities (particularly language based learning disabilities), language immersion can be a nightmare. And often learning disabilities aren't diagnosed until 2nd or 3rd grade, so families who go to their neighborhood immersion school don't realize it isn't a fit.

I’ve never thought that the variety in our schools jibes with the new student assignment plan. It seems unfair that by virtue of your address, you get better access to programs - spectrum, Montessori, language immersion, ALO, types of special education, etc. However, I also object to the notion that schools should be identical. It’s a conflict. I think the whole NSAP is a farce, though. It hasn’t saved much transportation money, schools forms are still confusing, and the notion of “predictability” is a joke.

Bagley was mentioned before and it is different that the language immersions in that only half the school is Montessori, so if you live in the neighborhood and don’t want Montessori you have another option. However, the only real reason Montessori isn’t part of this discussion is, as Melissa says, it isn’t as popular as immersion and it certainly isn’t so expensive.

A final point: the IA thing seems inequitable to me on another level. Having IAs lowers the ratio of adult to student and other schools can’t duplicate this lowering even if we do raise tons of $ because of limits in the collective bargaining agreement as it currently exists. I’m not saying that this point is the immersion school’s fault or that it’s a bad thing to have more adults in the classrooms, I’m just saying that other schools can’t do it. For the rest of us, even if we raised 200K to hire additional tutors, classroom aides, etc., we’d be capped by the teachers’ contract. I can’t remember the limit – it’s something like half the salary amount a full time instructional assistant (usually special education) is the total amount that can be used to fund extra adults in the classes (regardless of a school’s size or # of classes and teachers). Somehow language immersion IAs skirt this contract limit and it’s not because it’s parents who are funding them.
Northend Mom

Anonymous said...

Perhaps off-topic, but since so much of so many discussions these days will be played out in the new redraws of the (not new, but newly changing) student assigment plan: wallyhood makes the point about neighborhood divisions and it reminded me that i really wish they would draw lines down alleys or the backs of lotlines. I know that sounds messy, butt it is so divisive and unstable to be on the dividing lines. Our neighborhood has 3 elementaries, two middles, and two high schools in a 2 block area because we are at a corner. Many people don't know their neighbors behind them as well, but do know the ones across the street.
northend mom (again)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Immersion, I'm not sure how that list is tabulated or where you got it. From the thread you cite:

"There is no districtwide database documenting PTA fundraising by school"

Is that per student district spending plus PTA spending (taking total PTA dollars and dividing per student)? I have no idea what you are saying here.

I'm not arguing about who gets IAs but how would it look if only schools who had a better-off parent base and could fund IAs look against one that couldn't? Again, is the district only going to open these schools in wealthier neighborhoods and poorer ones? That's going to let out more middle class schools like John Rogers or Loyal Heights.

NE Mom is right about the IAs as I pointed out in the thread. Both schools make a very big point about how having them lowers the class size and they are available for other duties around the school.

Again, any school can do this but I am not for funding staff positions on a mostly permanent basis nor am I for huge amounts of staffing. As the JSIS PTA points out, one-third of their school is the IAs.

I'll have a separate thread about all that was said at the Board meeting. This is now on their radar and I think we may see some discussion around the boundaries (maybe only discussion but who knows?).

Anonymous said...

Melissa Westbrook wrote:

"Is that per student district spending plus PTA spending (taking total PTA dollars and dividing per student)? I have no idea what you are saying here."

It's the last comment on the blog post I referenced. That poster explains how he/she tabulated the data. The gist appears to be that PTA spending on staff is reflected in the budget as a grant and is thus part of the total.

"Again, is the district only going to open these schools in wealthier neighborhoods and poorer ones? That's going to let out more middle class schools like John Rogers or Loyal Heights. "

I'm not sure I'd call30 Wallingford wealthy. FWIW, JSIS has almost twice as many FRL kids (7%) as Loyal Heights (4%) percentage-wise according to the 2011-12 School Reports.

Immersion Fan

mirmac1 said...

OMG! 7%?! There it is!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Poor choice of words about Wallingford - may be better off. All I can say is that the expectation that every family in the school can contribute $1K+ every year is not one that many neighborhoods in Seattle can match.

GreyWatch said...

I have long been an advocate of these as option schools. Given that they aren't, I don't understand why the kids that stick with the program through grade 8 go to Ingraham when they are all in Roosevelt's boundaries. This costs the district more for transportation (bus passes for everyone). With the growth of immersion and APP (which also feeds into Ingraham as IBX), capacity will be a challenge before too long. I wouldn't be surprised if they reopen Lincoln as a language pathway school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I think my gut would be less gutted if these schools were option schools not neighborhood schools."

I think that is very much the feeling of the majority of directors on the Board.

Grey Watch, good observation about Lincoln. It certainly would make sense given the closeness of Hamilton, McDonald and JSIS.

Anonymous said...

Where on the McDonald website does it say" the expectation that every family in the school can contribute $1K+ every year" as you state. Please link me to that phrasing.

From everything I can find and have heard, their goal is 100% participation and "giving what works for your family".

Why are you spending all the hours you seem to have on the real issue of adequate state funding. Instead you seem focused on going after the lowest hanging fruit, the families who pay a bulk of the local taxes to schools, vote to pass additional funding, and then donate money to further enhance their school for whoever's kids show up (whether it's option or not). You should look up how many families there ARE OPTION families.

I applaud these families who do not stand on the sidelines waiting for politicians and bloggers to improve our schools for our current kids. What a ridiculous thread and waste of energy pointing at the school communities fighting over the scraps of being 48th in the country on per pupil spending. Spend some time in schools and less time at board meetings. Go kids!

1300 Numbers said...

Learning proper English Grammar should always be prioritized.