Friday, September 27, 2013

Seattle Schools Updates

Saturday sees three Director Community Meetings:

Community Meeting with Director Martin-Morris at Diva Espresso on Lake City Way from 9:30-11:30 am.
Community Meeting with Director Smith-Blum at Capitol High Library, 425 Harvard Ave. E from
10 am-11:30 am
Community Meeting with Director Patu at Caffe Vita, 5028 Wilson Avenue S. from 10 am to noon.

From Central District News, a story about unhappy Central area parents and elementary school choices.  What's interesting is either no one checked in with the district on the use for TT Minor or chose to ignore what the district is planning (to reopen TT Minor for World School).  I think there are valid points here, though.

Parents and residents in a northern swatch of the Central District, from Madison Avenue to Cherry Street and from 14th to 23rd Avenues (called Areas 42 and 43) are hoping to influence the school district to reopen TT Minor as the area’s elementary school.

The group’s impetus for forming is a recent projection that Stevens Elementary School will surpass its current capacity for students in the next several years. As a result, Seattle Public Schools has proposed boundary changes that will reassign students near Stevens’ southern boundary to either Madrona K-8 or Lowell Elementary. The group would prefer the district reopen TT Minor.
The school district is fielding feedback on its proposed boundary changes at several upcoming meetings, including one on Monday at Meany Middle School from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. The neighborhood group will be present at the Monday meeting to express their thoughts on TT Minor.

New SPS assignments announced today by Superintendent Banda.  First, Jon Halfaker, principal at Washington Middle School, is to be the new Executive Director of Schools for the NW region.  This is really kind of sad because I think Mr. Halfaker is quiet, effective principal and I think it's a loss for Washington.

Also, Patricia Guenther has been appointed as interim principal at Washington; she is currently assistant principal there.

Both appointments start October 1. 


Ever wonder about the voice of the "robocall lady?"  She's a real person.  The story from Parent Map.

13 comments:

Ryan said...

Melissa - We are not ignoring the district plans for World School. It is very much on our radar and members of our group that have personal relationships with World School administrators have given them a heads up on our behalf. We are going to do everything within our power to come up with a LONG TERM solution that is best for EVERYONE. Thank you for your post, though. We think we have some valid points too. See you Monday.

Full link to CD News to review our valid points:

http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/2013/09/neighborhood-group-organizes-to-ask-sps-to-reopen-tt-minor/

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ryan, it was not mentioned in the story or your points so I assumed it was not being considered.

What's your answer for World School?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ryan, you said this at the story:

"The district, by promising the World School to TT before delivering it’s growth boundary changes plan has forced the Area 42 and 43 parents to be the bleeding hearts of the Seattle Public School system. Although we are very sensitive to the needs of the Stevens, the World School, Madrona, and Lowell, sometimes you just have to put your kids first. It is not fair that we have to solve these big problems."

I think there are some in the district that might differ with your assessment as "the bleeding hearts" of the district.

As well, don't you think the parents at Stevens, Lowell, Madrona and World School could say the same about their students? But yes, you have to advocate for your own child.

I always say that this is a very geographically challenged city and the placement of the schools was not always the best.

joanna said...

It was difficult to advocate for anything here until the District was clear and transparent on what would happen under the new planning. Actually several current Stevens parents have let me know that they did go to some meetings last spring and got shut down when they tried to talk about TT Minor. All would be fine. I had heard from them and well...I guess I should not say more. A

joanna said...

I want to add that this has been an issue ever since the area 4 was proposed to be reassigned in 2010.

Sim Simma said...

Melissa, my point is that it is difficult to advocate for other schools when I have to worry about my own children. That being said, I would love to meet with the World School and the board at the same table to discuss possible solutions that may suit us all. Where should the World School go? That is a difficult question. What I am proposing is that putting it in a neighborhood school that could easily serve 400 walking students may not be the best option. But, the World School is definitely not our only issue here. There are families in this neighborhood being split (I'm talking siblings) by this boundary change, as well as 20 kids on the same block going to 4 different, assigned elementary schools. This is chaos. We need long term plans based on numbers and long term projections. My neighborhood is currently exploding with kids. Doesn't it seem likely that the board could give the World School to TT Minor and then just take it back a year later because of capacity issues? Where are the kids? Around Stevens, Madrona, TT Minor and Gazert...

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/enrollment%20planning/WhereSPSstudentsLive-all.pdf?sessionid=4679ce8b98fd83bda1c8bd66db3c7428

We will be offering some more data and educated proposals on Monday after we get together as a group to prepare.

Ryan said...

Sim Simma is Ryan, for transparency. I apologize. The previous post automatically used my google account.

Kat said...

Melissa, thank you for your comments and for posting this on your blog - I know you get a lot of visibility. Just want to chime in to support Ryan and ensure everyone that we are thinking of the World School in regards to TT Minor. We know that the kids and families at the World School are the most disenfranchised in the district, and that they have very few people advocating for them. Our group reached out both personally and professionally to the World School staff and have let them know of our arguments. It breaks my heart personally to even think about advocating against a permanent home for the World School. Nonetheless our CD neighborhood kids do deserve to be at neighborhood school and not shifted from one to another as the winds change because we are 'bus-able' (read non-walkable, though my kids ride their bikes to Stevens, which they could not do to Madrona where we are slated to move).

The district is proposing bussing our neighborhood middle school kids down to Old Van Asselt during the Meany roll-up. If they are considering doing this, and can find funds for renovations, I think Old Van Asselt might be a better solution for the World School and allow TT Minor to be used as a community school. OVA has a much larger capacity (which the World School needs) and is closer to where many of the immigrant and refugee families live, as the demographic shift has taken much of our diverse populations further and further south. The problem is that the World School has very little money (relatively) from the BEX levy and TT needs much less renovation than OVA. Once again, however, if the district can consider this for Meany why not for the World School?

katie said...

There have been many people that have suggested Old Van Assalt as a much better home for the world school, than TT Minor. The central area is growing very very quickly and really never should have lost TT Minor in the first place.

During the last round of crazy, it was suggested multiple times that the AAA building would have been ideal for the world school and it is a beautiful modern, updated facility. A very nice building, near where the kids live and not a good location for an elementary school because of its proximity to other schools. Many of the boundaries in that area are bizarre because of using AAA as the Van Assalt school.

However, someone was hell bent on moving Van Assalt to AAA. If Van Assalt goes back to Van Assalt, I think that might mean that 100% of the MGJ closures were reversed.

TT Minor is not a good spot for the World School and waiting for TT Minor means adding two more years until Meany is opened. If the World School goes to Van Assalt when Nova moves back to Nova then Meany can re-opened at Meany much more quickly.

TT Minor still won't be available for a few more years just because the money isn't there to re-open it until the second half of BEX but finding a real home for the World School is important and placing them at TT Minor just sets them up to be evicted, when the enrollment grows in the CD, just like they were on Queen Anne.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sim/Ryan
"We need long term plans based on numbers and long term projections."

That would be the best but not going to happen. One, because the short-term is so explosive and two, the district is no good at long-term anything (sorry).

You are quite right that the district could fix up TT Minor for World School and then take it back if they realize it's a mistake and/or decide they need it. The World School has gotten kicked around. The issue for them is as for Nova - they need a central location. Putting them down at old Van Asselt won't work.

(And those demographics show that while much of the immigrant population is to the south, there are very large numbers right along the northern edge of the district. Central would be best overall.)

I do agree, though, Katie, (and I advocated it) for World School to go into AAA. The tradeoff for being further south is a very nice and decent building. But, as you say, someone was hellbent on putting in Van Asselt. I heard from some teachers there that it is a difficult school for some of their students to negotiate because of the stairs.

Continue on to push other options but do play the game of "what if" so that when you give these options to the district, you'll have answers to pushback.

seattle citizen said...

Katie writes, "If Van Assalt goes back to Van Assalt, I think that might mean that 100% of the MGJ closures were reversed."

John Marshall Alternative was the first school closed by MGJ. I believe the closure of Summit was first discussed under MGJ.
Now, under Supt Banda, Indian Heritage is moved out of its space and merged elsewhere, and Pinehurst is in desperate need of support or it, too, will be closed.

John Marshall Alternative, 30 years old at its death, will never be "reversed" back into existence: That alternative school's building is destined for mainstream capacity management in the N/NE, along with Summit's and Indian Heritage's buildings. Unless people rally to save it, Pathfinder/AS#1 will be the fourth alternative school closed to make room for gen-ed expansion in the N/NE. (Okay, Indian Heritage wasn't closed outright - they were merged with Middle College at Northgate, but still....Merge, close...)
FOUR public alternative schools closed in....five years, just in the NE. And the reformers want to bring in charters (less-public alternative schools) to the city, "for those struggling kids..., you know, the ones traditional schools don't serve?"
Hmmm....I smell a rat. See it, too. Hear it. I hear it gnawing.

Josh Hayes said...

seattle citizen, I can't disagree with your sentiment - it's no surprise, is it, that administrators want schools to be uniform, all the same, for ease of administration? - but I will pick a little nit here. Pathfinder is its own self, and is not connected to AS#1. Perhaps that was a slip of the keyboard, and you meant to type Pinehurst, not Pathfinder?

But yeah: alternative programs seem to be anathema to the district at the moment. How on earth did so many of them get started back in the day? Less emphasis on centralized control? Who here has a long enough institutional memory to comment on this in an informed fashion? (WV would like someone to helpDis. Please!)

seattle citizen said...

Thanks for the correction - I meant Pinehurst, yes. Another alt school that starts with "P", whoops!