Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pinehurst News

Well, a report out from the public hearing last night that I believe is worthy of its own thread. 

From reader Danny:

I attended the Pinehurst K-8 (aka AS#1) public hearing last night.

It was just that, a public hearing for public testimony. No more real information was gleaned from it other than how important the school is to the community of people who send their kids there.

One testimony of note was School Board Director Peaslee waited patiently and testified last with no time limit and put on record that the options of temporarily locating at the Decautur bldg while waiting for a permanent co-location with Thornton Creek are absolutely viable solutions. She also stated that it doesn't make sense to close a program due to low enrollment while there are waiting lists and empty buildings in the district. She also stated that she had a conversation with Thornton Creek's principal John Miner who told her Pinehurst must be saved and is on board with the co-locating option.

First, thank you to Director Peaslee for doing the work to make sure that the district's decision is backed up by evidence.

Second, the Decatur building is to be empty.  Putting Pinehurst in there next to Thornton Creek - whose principal says it would be okay - and allowing those two programs to possibly grow and thrive (and keeping a K-8 option in the NE) seems like a good road to try.   I cannot say for certain - as was the case for African-American Academy - whether it is district inaction/disinterest that caused Pinehurst numbers to drop so low but I believe it was a big factor in those numbers. 

Given the district has stated no plans for the the building and that it will cost more if they leave it empty only to reopen it in a few years (and it's not as if we haven't seen that happen), I think this would be a good course of action. 


katie said...

Frankly, I find it offensive that the district was willing to push Cedar Park into service because they didn't have enough interim capacity but there weren't willing to push Cedar Park into service to serve an already existing community, that is being displaced for one reason, there isn't enough interim capacity for the JA K8.

If this capacity situation hadn't gotten so out of control, Lincoln would have been available as interim housing but it isn't because things have just gotten too crazy.

mirmac1 said...

I will write to the board urging them to consider this use of an empty space. Crazy!

Meg said...

Closure threats caused Pinehurst's previously stable and thriving enrollment to crater. Enrollment at the school was stable for many years, climbing from the 250 range in the late 1990s to just over 270 in 2005-06, when the first closure threat came in.

The next year, enrollment dropped by 60 kids. It held steady for another year, when it was threatened AGAIN, and dropped by another 20 students, and then stabilized and then threatened and... lather, rinse, repeat. Current low enrollment appears to be caused almost entirely by district administration's continual threats.

It's really gross.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And there you are - data.

Josh Hayes said...

And let's not forget that enrollment services have consistently told interested parents that there was no room for their children at Pinehurst. (I've also heard staffers steering people away from "that hippie school". No kidding.) It's impossible to think of this as benevolent neglect: it's an intentional attempt to kill the school. I can't but believe that the district will fight this suggestion (moving to Decatur) tooth and nail.

katie said...

Hey, they are planning to put 23 portables at Jane Addams anyway, they should at least give them to Pinehurst, since they are evicting them.

Ragweed said...


Just to be clear, the discussion about either moving Pinehurst to Decatur or some other arrangement for co-locating with Thornton Creek is still in the preliminary stages. Pinehurst is going to be meeting with the TC community and starting a conversation about how we would best go about this, in order to make it work. In order to lower our per-student costs, we would probably need to operate as a separate program, sharing a common principal and administration with TC.

But there will be two years before the new building is finished, so we would need to be in an interim site until then.

John Marshall would be the sensible interim - it would have space for the Pinehurst population at least for 2014 and 2015, under the current plan to roll-up WilPac in stages. It would also pull 150 or so students out of the overcrowded north east while added capacity is being built, and could reduce the need for a few of the portables. Ending the program does nothing to help the capacity issues in the north end.

Interestingly, Superintendent Banda's recommendation regarding Pinehurst claimed that John Marshall would not be available as an interim site for Pinehurst, because it would be used to house the Jane Addams K-8 through that period. Not only is that completely contradictory to the proposed Growth Boundaries plan, it also seems to operate in a world where 700 plus 150 is more than 952 (the districts official number for the capacity of John Marshall).

John C.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

To Ragweed: Banda's comment about putting the JA K8 into Marshall is a GREAT step forward from a capacity standpoint. That allows the new JAMS to open inside its own building rather than as portables, which is good for those kids. It lets the K8 have exclusive use of the Marshall site that's about the right size for it, rather than continuing to use a larger site, and that really makes JAMS a better spot to start to educate a bunch of local area kids sooner. Please DON'T say that's contrary to the announced plan -- it's an improvement on the announced plan! I'm so glad to hear that! If the district can figure out how to keep all the APP middle school kids at Hamilton until Wilson Pacific opens (maybe through renting the park for portables), then APP won't be in the JAMS site and there should definitely be room there for JAMS and Pinehurst for 2 years. Alternately, if the district decides not to put APP Elem. into Olympic Hills, and put all of APP elem. into Wilson Pacific, that means the spaces on the interim plan that say "Wilson Pacific Attendance Area roll up" are free ... for Pinehurst! So I can think of about 3 ways to find space for Pinehurst, but they all depend upon having a much more rational plan than the one the district is shopping. That statement from Banda is MUCH more rational - and could work!

Recopying the post I forgot to sign.

Signed: still learning

Jet City mom said...

*And let's not forget that enrollment services have consistently told interested parents that there was no room for their children at Pinehurst. *

This is true.
Summit K-12 ran into the same obstacle and while the district was under pressure from the Eckstein community to "reopen" the JA building to take some of the pressure off, little effort was made to fufill prior promises to return Summit to its central location.

Alternative choices are shrinking for students instead of expanding.

Patrick said...

Still Learning, JA K-8 is full for the building it's in. What they haven't done so far is put lots of portables on the site.

I do get tired of people selectively repeating enrollment numbers from four years ago.

Anonymous said...

I think the 900-something number for John Marshall is as a comprehensive middle school. The capacity of the building is lower as a K-8 (because of the way the elementary portion is configured).

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I think North End Mom has it right - the way capacity is calculated is very different based on age of students, b/c older kids have more kids per class. Yes, that changes both Marshall and JA bldg. capacity, based on who goes in the building.

Marshall can hold the K8 w/a few portables - not many - and the kind of creative space usage that every other north north east school has to do, and then they land in a new bldg. Who knows, some of the MS kids might choose to stay at JAMS next year - might be why they enrolled there in the first place, to get a jump on the new MS.

More MS kids can fit in JAMS than K8 kids. Wise space utilization. Saying the bldg. is "full" with the K8 may be truthy (and I use that word b/c I think there's some creative claims of what space is NOT usable, that places like Eckstein and Hamilton have long ago filled and overflowed). For instance, I think a lot of Hamilton teachers gave up having planning period in their rooms this year so that other classes could meet - ie, Spanish in a math room or something -- so even "we're so full" might not actually be the maximum utilization of space, merely a high utilization. (And don't think I'm advocating horrible doubled-up usage like roving teachers w/out permanent rooms, but it's better than school in shifts.)

In a rapidly changing/worsening capacity environment, JA K8 should be happy to get Marshall to itself and land in a brand new building at the end. Seems like a good outcome.

Signed -- space and beyond

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Pinehurst. You are a 40 year school community, and you've been treated shabbily. (in contast, you have to wonder all the meetings the district has been having with squatters in a district building elsewhere).

How about you bunk in with us, in the Lincoln building, temporarily, until you can then move into the empty Thonrton Creek Decatur building?

It's not fun, hanging out in a high school when you have elementary sized little legs, but, it's the people that count, and the people are fabulous.

I know what it's like to be constantly in a state of uncertainty, it's very difficult and wearing. I empathize with you, I'd welcome you into our intern home.

-app mother

Anonymous said...

Maybe Pinehurst should just refuse to leave?


mirmac1 said...

I have been reading "No Ordinary Time" that describes how Blacks in this country were treated 80 years after the Civil War, during WWII. Somehow, I don't imagine it similar to what those in at Lincoln are experiencing. Call me crazy.

My daughter is learning about Cesar Chavez in her history class. Y'know, migrant farmworkers living in shacks, no plumbing, exposed to insecticides, working >12 hours days. Again, call me crazy but...?!

Anonymous said...

That gratuitous nastiness does seem a bit crazy.

mirmac1 said...

It may be. I prefer that kind of crazy, actually.

Patrick said...

Space and Beyond, the rooms in JA K-8 are full. Some rooms are full of elementary students and others are full of middle school students. If the elementary rooms weren't full, their students would be in the surrounding elementary schools, which are also bursting at the seams.

mirmac1 said...
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mirmac1 said...

In retrospect, I could see why my observation could be viewed as gratuitous and hurtful. Sorry. I was reacting to SLP's comment that Pinehurst could just refuse to leave. I read into that a dig at the ACIC neighborhood group that wants to create a support center for their kids (and in my mind should get the chance somehow). I might have mistook SLP's remark.

I have a lot of sympathy for Pinehurst, and African-American students who face discrimination and entrenched attitudes.

Anonymous said...

I was exceptionally cranky yesterday. I appreciate your advocacy for the families who need the most help.
After hearing the comments from the immigrant community at High Point, I wonder if you have an idea how we can assign more students to Madison and West Seattle High without displacing those students? Is there some way the Hughes building could be a part of the solution?

mirmac1 said...

Hi Lynn

I don't profess to be a capacity expert. With that in mind (and as a near life-long WS-ite) I just note this:

Hughes is now one of the few interim, emergency sites available and with the Boren building going to a K-8, the only, smallish, one in WS.

As was noted in a recent SSS thread, WS's HS situation is already critical. Any overflow space that houses facilities geared for comprehensive MS/HS use should remain so. Sealth has been overfull since its opening, and will only get worse.

Hughes would've done well to house attendance area school Roxhill, giving the latter reasonable boundaries, and easing the pressure off WS Elem.

The new community at High Point enjoys lovely open spaces, play areas and a great neighborhood feel. That serves as well (if not better) than every kid going to the same K-5. As a kid, I can't remember when I would shoot the breeze with the other kids on the next block about what happened at school that day.

The district should already have BEX V on the drawing board. It should get off the canard that the old Denny site is, oops!, too small for an elementary. It could hold a MS again (old Denny was designed for 900), but at the expense of (meh) the softball field and tennis courts, next to acres of pavement.

I would not advocate turning Hughes into an AA school, just to maintain the neighborhood unit. I think when nearby residents see the new beautiful FP school they will be proud of their new school. To go along with their new playgrounds, library and new medical clinic on 35th.

By the way, as you may know I LOVE Madison. So do the teachers. I'm very happy the district has seen fit to finally recognize this award-winning school. Again, plans should be in the works to convert the flex spaces into classrooms for the looming capacity crisis.

Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

@ still learning and others,

I understand that putting JAK8 into an interim has a lot of support, but the superintendents report to Pinehurst should be consistant with what is being proposed, or should at least acknowledge the uncertainty. It could easily have said that it would be needed for the APP/WilPac rollup, or JAK8, depending on the final plan. However, the report worded it as if the interim use were final and it would take board approval to change it (which is true, but then the whole idea is that this is a recommendation for board approval). Either way it sends a confused message and seems more like it was written by someone who wasn't operating with current information (which I think is the case - I doubt Banda wrote all the background).

Another amusing bit is that their argument for why we can't have Decatur is that it is not suitable for K-8, specifically it doesn't have science labs et al. Like we have science labs today?

And yea, interim space at Lincoln or any other location would be fine with us.