Sunday, October 13, 2013

Growth Boundaries Questions

I note some running threads through the various regions and their threads on growth boundaries. 

For example, there seems to be confusion over how JAMS will open. 

Could you write one single burning question (per commenter) that you are either confused about OR seems in direct contradiction to the comments made by parents/community.  

I will try to get them together and send them off to Tracy Libros and Flip Herndon.

Also, tomorrow morning is the sign-up for speaking at the School Board meeting on Wednesday, the 16th.  It starts at 8 am so do it first thing.

If you want to speak, you must either call 252-0040 - you will get an automated instruction.  OR, e-mail boardagenda@seattleschools.org.  Include your legal name, phone number, e-mail address and your topic.  You will be given priority if your topic is on the agenda as an action or intro item.  If you do NOT give complete info, your name will NOT be on the speakers list.  You will not receive notice you are on the list; check the agenda on Wednesday morning.

A couple of other things:

- two minutes is a short period of time.  Practice timing yourself and don't say "thanks for letting me speak" or other filler.  Use your time to make - your - point. 
- if you sign up and want to cede your time, you MUST be there to cede it over.  No one can come to the mic and say, "So and so can't be here and so I'm speaking in his/her place."  Not allowed.
- you also cannot speak and then have the next person cede their time to you.  It's two minutes per speaker. 
- bring handouts and give them to Teresa Hale, Board Adm.  Board members like to have these to refer to if they choose comment on what they have heard during the Board remarks.  Make these easy to read. 

62 comments:

Lynn said...

How can the board vote to create new APP sites in the SE and SW regions when new service delivery methods will be required and have not been defined?

If I could have a second - why are we rebuilding the school on Genesee Hill when West Seattle will have an 800 elementary seat surplus when BEX IV is complete?

karen said...

Lynn, I appreciate your civil posts. My question in no way means to take away from the South's issues. I am worried about my current 3rd grader at Linoln.

Question: How on earth is there any equality for the current APP-enrolled and APP-qualified 3rd graders in the Whitman APP service area? They have to go to John Marshall as 6th graders with a teeny, tiny cohort (with presumably few math options, no programs, sports, etc.) and then move again to Wilson Pacific for 7th & 8th grade.

Anonymous said...

JSIS and McDonald are listed in the "out" column of Hamilton feeder schools. Are these students included in the Hamilton projections, or is there no longer a guaranteed pathway for language immersion?

HIMSmom

pam said...

I have seen this "800 seat surplus" comment before referencing West Seattle, can someone help me find where that information is coming from? Thank you!

Lynn said...

pam,

Attachment B page 19 from the first growth boundary post on Friday. The original BEX plans did not call for creating permanent elementary at Boren.

pam said...

thank you Lynn!! I appreciate your help.

Anonymous said...

My two questions:
1. How can the district justify two option schools, which have huge geozones that make them options in name only? Will the district please improve equity district-wide by moving one of the programs to another part of the district, returning the other school to a neighborhood program, and shrinking the geozone so that others have access?

2. Please clarify the transition plan. Any solution that involves any group of students being sent to a 6th grade only school is a non-starter as students will not have needed middle school resources: course offerings, orchestra, clubs, sports, et cetera.

-uncertain

Anonymous said...

All, note that the 10/16 board meeting agenda is posted and includes a the growth boundaries discussion includes recommended action from Banda stating: "I move that the Board approve the attendance area boundaries (Growth Boundaries), feeder
patterns, and option school GeoZones as shown in Attachment A to the Board Action Report, and direct the Superintendent to take any appropriate actions to implement this decision."

uuugggh. starting to look for an escape hatch, but planning to push back first.

-uncertain


Anonymous said...

Another couple questions:

What additional resources is the district willing to provide to new middle schools to help offset the challenges and limitations associated with "rolling up" a new school with small initial cohorts?

How will the district ensure consistent implementation of middle school APP across the various middle school sites, especially given the short ramp-up period for teacher training, the lack of a clear curriculum, and the relatively small cohort sizes?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

>>>>Could you write one single burning question (per commenter) that you are either confused about OR seems in direct contradiction to the comments made by parents/community.

There are not enough schools with ABCD to have all the kids with disabilities' needs met in each middle school service area, equitably and predictably. The plan is missing. How can you draw boundaries when you haven't accounted for the 13% of the students with special needs, especially since their needs are space intensive.

-sped parent

Eric B said...

Where will APP MS students from the Wilson-Pacific area in 6th grade in 2014-15 go to school? Hamilton? Somewhere else?

Anonymous said...

Where will NE Seattle APP 6th graders go to school in 2014-2015?
Thanks!
NEMom

curious said...

Where will JSIS and McDonald students go to middle school? Why are they listed in the "out" column of Hamilton when they mostly all live in the Hamilton attendance area?

What is the capacity projection for JAMS for 2014 with just 2 schools (OH and JR) feeding into it plus 1/3 of APP? Won't that be an extremely underutilized building, while Eckstein and Hamilton remain overcrowded?

Lynn said...

curious,

If they live in the Hamilton attendance area, they'll go to Hamilton. Students who attend JSIS and McDonald but don't live in Hamilton's attendance area may have to attend their attendance area middle school.

Anonymous said...

Lynn - hopefully that can't be, and the question should be asked about JSIS and McDondald schools. If the only JSIS and McDonald students who go on to get appropriate language classes in MS are those who are in the Hamilton region then this is even less of an option. Are there other pathways in the district for these language immersion students?

-uncertain

Lynn said...

The current rule (from the New Student Assignment Plan) is:

Students attending JSIS from outside of its service area could apply to attend Hamilton and would be eligible for the feeder school tiebreaker. Tiebreakers for assignment to attendance area middle schools are: (1) sibling, (2) feeder school and (3) lottery.

Obviously the rule could change - but I haven't seen that written anywhere. How long do immersion students have to be in an immersion classroom? If they don't to to Hamilton, can't they pick up a new language in middle school?

Anonymous said...

If I live in the geozone for an option school, will the district honor that geozone for 2014-15 enrollment even though the option school (JAk-8) will be temporarily located? I think the answer is yes, but won't assume anything.

NEdad

Anonymous said...

Here's my question: why is the district going through such contortions to meet the needs of APP when the enrollment should really be very straightforward and small by definition? If APP is truly for kids in the 99th percentile, then that would mean roughly 500 kids (1%) districtwide, 1-12. That would be 208 kids for elementary, 123 middle school kids, and 164 high school kids. Heck, we could lower the bar to the top 2% and double those numbers and still fit well within the bounds of a single school at every level. Clearly, by creating more seats for our Lake Wobegone APP program we are cementing a two-track system. Let's stop it and support rigorous instruction in all schools.

Emile

Meg said...

Emile- I'll bite. With two questions.

1. Why do you assume APP is a "Lake Woebegone" program?

2. Why do you think the district is going through contortions to accommodate APP? History and current action indicate, magic 8-ball style, that the opposite is true - that the district is contorting itself in order to harm APP.

Anonymous said...

Emile, that's not a question Melissa can really ask, since your definition of APP criteria is incorrect.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Lynn asked: How long do immersion students have to be in an immersion classroom? If they don't to to Hamilton, can't they pick up a new language in middle school?

By "how long?" do you mean are they fluent by the end of elementary school and thus able to move on to another language? If so, the answer is a resounding no. They are by no means fluent, though they have invested six years into that language. Would we really think it's ok for the district to then tell them they need to switch to another language? That's unbelievable to me.

McDonald was created as a language immersion school precisely to help support an appropriate pathway for immersion students. The idea that the district would now cut these kids off--after they have put in so much--it outrageous. It is hard work to learn a second language. I'm not saying these language immersion programs are a good idea--and anyone who's keeping track has seen plenty of my criticisms of the way SPS does immersion--but since the district has created them, they should ensure a complete pathway.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Are they potentially assuming that all non geo zone attendees of McDonald and John Stanford will be native speakers?

Anonymous said...

No, HIMSmom, I'm not wrong about the definition of APP. From the District website:

"APP serves students who are academically highly gifted (98/99th percentile range in cognitive ability and the 95th percentile range or above in both reading and math achievement). Students who are academically highly gifted present significantly different learning styles, learning pace, and curricular needs that require comprehensive and substantial modification to the general education curriculum and classroom experience to achieve educational benefit."

So, at the very least, let's be clear in asking how many seats are being planned districtwide for APP, and whether it would be financially prudent to tighten up on our definition so we aren't opening up those seats for more students than we can afford to serve.

Emile

Anonymous said...

Are they potentially assuming that all non geo zone attendees of McDonald and John Stanford will be native speakers?

zb

Anonymous said...

The district is trying to shine some much needed light on APP. The public beyond this bloops and AL parents and even the district need to see what has happened to APP. it's super size and it's demographics.

Kooper

Lynn said...

Emile,

How much does it cost to serve an APP student?

Can you imagine a solution where we just support rigorous instruction in all schools without worrying about where APP kids go to school? I think we would make more progress on the real problem if we focused on that.

Do you have an APP student you'd like to send back to their neighborhood school? If not, could you tell me which region you live in? I'd like to go over to that post and share my opinions on where your kids should go to school. I hope it's the NE - because I don't know anything about that - or anyone who lives there. So much more fun when I can pretend it's not real children I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

Emile, the 98th percentile is very different than 99th percentile, which you originally said is who APP should serve before you "lowered the bar" for the sake of argument.

And 98th percentile on a nationally normed test does not necessarily equal 2% of the SPS population. That has been discussed over and over on this site. And heck, I believe the state even funds highly capable services for a little above 2%.

The target numbers you came up with for who you think "should" be in APP don't match the current eligibility criteria.

That said, I would not object to tightening the eligibility criteria to limit the numbers somewhat. The program, as it stands now, seems to be less effective in serving those extreme outliers who really need such a program. I suspect many of those currently in APP would be happy in their neighborhood school IF there were appropriate rigor.

HIMSmom

Green Lake Parent said...

My question:

Please clarify - Where will general ed (not APP) students who live in the new Wilson Pacific MS area be assigned in 2014-15, and 2015-16?

(I have a guess as to the answer, but I can't find it in writing anywhere.)

Thanks Melissa!

Green Lake Parent

Anonymous said...

Lynn and HIMSmom, thanks for looking for the common ground -- I think we've found it in the importance to our system of supporting rigor in all neighborhood schools and ensuring that APP is truly for those exceptional kids who need something truly different.

For the record, Lynn, my APP-qualified middle schooler attends her neighborhood school and is having a great experience. Yes, in the NE -- nice to meet you.

Emile

Lynn said...

Emile,

Can I ask why you had her tested if you are having a great experience at your neighborhood school?

Also - it seems your concern about the number of APP seats was related to costs. What is the incremental cost to the district of an APP seat vs a general ed seat?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, the reason we had her tested simply because things are so tight with capacity that it seemed to make sense in October of her fifth grade year to keep our options open. The deadlines for testing force unnecessary decisions like that. That's all. I appreciate your asking.

The extra cost for APP comes in creating two separate systems. If we could keep APP smaller and for the true outliers, then we would more efficiently be able to build rigorous programs for everyone else. I agree that per seat there is not much, if any, difference in cost. But the systemic costs are significant. The state money reserved for "gifted and talented programs" mostly just covers the cost of testing.

Emile

Lynn said...

Emile,

I'm not seeing the systemic costs. What systems? There's the AL office, but I think they handle AP and IB exams in addition to the annual advanced learning qualification process. We can't get rid of them. Funding per school is the same no matter how many AL students attend.

I would support making more rigorous classes available at all schools. High school principals for instance, should not be able to require that students retake science classes they passed in middle school. If you can manage that, then probably a lot of bright kids who are socially well-adjusted will choose to attend Eckstein and Roosevelt. That will naturally reduce the number of students enrolled in APP - and make lots of people happy. How you'll fit them in, I don't know. You'd have to start with reassigning more students to JAMS. Wedgwood and Sacajawea to start.

Let's make those changes and see how that affects APP enrollment. To accurately find the top 1% or 2% of SPS students, you would have to administer individual IQ tests - the CoGAT wouldn't do it. The benefit of limiting access in that way does not in my mind justify the cost.

So how do you suggest we go about making principals want to provide more rigorous courses? What are the reasons they don't do it now? What are the things you'd like to change in our neighborhood schools? Do it right and more students like yours will choose not to enroll in APP, leaving the program for families whose parents feel they do need it.

Have you done any research on how this can be accomplished? I know parent feedback on the gifted program in Portland that is not self-contained is not positive - so I wouldn't look there for an example. You could ask Spectrum parents what does and does not work in their programs. Maybe the next secret task force should survey APP families and ask them why they left their neighborhood schools.

I have heard 100s of times on this blog from parents who want APP dismantled or reduced to 10% of its current size. One of the most original was an individual who really enjoys watching The Big Bang Theory and thinks only students who remind her of a character on the show really need APP. I haven't heard this message from the district. Maybe that's the point of the current secret task force? I'd like to know.

Gratuitous suggestion for the NE region: the only way to equitably start up JAMS is to assign half of the NE students to it next fall. I think you should send all the girls there and leave the boys at Eckstein. As a child, I read lots of novels set in single-gender schools in England and everyone seemed happy with it.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Another 15 posts for APP, in addition to the 100s on the last 2. Can we change the name of the blog to the "Trials and Travails Of The Tragically Gifted"?

-reader

Anonymous said...

Reader-

That's rich considering you are one of the regular anti APP posters.

If so many posters didn't put all the problems of the district on APP, maybe it wouldn't come up so much. As you can see from the comments in the other threads, APP is THE cause for so many of the district's ills. Kid not challenged enough in the gen ed program? Why, that the fault of APP. Too many "disruptive" children in neighborhood classrooms? Why, that's APP's fault. Kid not challenged enough in the gen ed classroom? Why, that's APP's fault. Kid doesn't have a pony? Why, that's APP's fault.

-unwashed

pam said...

Question:

Is there a plan to eventually close Alki Elementary?

If in 2017 there will be an expected surplus of approx. 800 seats in West Seattle, and if Alki's new boundaries keep it so small that it enrolls only 250-375 students, is the long term plan to move those students to empty seats at other schools, and close Alki?

Thank you Melissa!

Anonymous said...

My question - the District is projecting an 80% increase in north-end middle school APP enrollment from 2013 to 2022 (north middle school APP would go from 549 kids to 989 kids). What is the rationale for this huge increase? It stands in stark contrast to the 20% growth assumed for the District as a whole and the 15% increase assumed for north-end elementary APP.

I have sent several emails to the District asking for the basis for the 80% growth rate assumption but have not received a response. I am very concerned about this growth rate projection as it's probably the basis for the District's proposal to split north APP into 3 different schools. I don't think there are enough APP kids to maintain a viable co-hort at 3 different schools.

Catherine

Soon-to-be SPS Mom said...

On a non-APP topic, I want to ask about option school geozones. Since SPS is so concerned about equitable access to programs and option schools are one of the wonderful things SPS has to offer, it puzzles me that not all addresses are in a geozone for an option school and so will not have equal access to entry.

In the latest Growth Boundaries Attachment B document it's stated that the plan is to associate 1+ option school "for each middle school service area" and "Align option schools with appropriate middle school service areas as boundaries are developed." Does this mean they will change the currently-mapped geozones to be the same as the MS boundary lines to ensure that all families are linked to one option school?

In addition, not all option schools offer an offer through middle school so your option may cease to exist in 6th grade. I want to know if SPS is working toward expanding all option schools to K-8 over time so that alternative educational needs can continue to be met through the middle school years.

Thanks for rolling up our top concerns!

Soon-to-be SPS Mom said...

Another question for clarification--the revised boundaries map shows a list of changed areas and the before and after are labeled as 2013 and 2020. I live in area 85 on the map--we've been assigned to a different elementary school and there's no construction or interim site or whatnot. Does that mean the new assignment goes into affect for 2014-2015 school year or is there additional delay? My daughter is entering SPS as a kindergartener in 2014 so this is an important point for us!

NW mum said...

Attachment B p. 7 of 23 shows Wilson -Pacific MS catchment area as having access to a k-8 option school at Jane Addams.
None of the maps reflect this.
So my question is: is it going to happen?

If I had a second question it would be: Is Cascade homeschool resource center eventually going to be back at Wilson-Pacific, as the maps show?

westSeattleSteve said...

If they close another school in West Seattle, I'd think Roxhill is the logical choice. It is in the worst condition and the Arbor Heights boundary comes right across the street

Anonymous said...

My question: Where will newly enrolled 7th Grade & 8th Grade NE APP students attend in 2014-15?

If I get a second question: Will NNE 7th & 8th graders be grandfathered at Eckstein?

Lake City Parent

TechyMom said...

What are the geozones for TOPS and NOVA?

NOVA was talking about adding middle school awhile ago. Is that happening?

There was talk about making Madrona k-5 awhile ago. Is that off the table now?

Jayne said...

Why is APP not being moved out of Hamilton? It will remain seriously overcrowded and APP will be diluted into three north end middle school sites. It would make much more sense to remove it from Hamilton and have it in two sites.

And one more, sorry. Was the MS and HS at Wilson-Pacific considered? Seems like a better idea than HS at Lincoln.

Lynn said...

Catherine,

There was a technical presentation in July to explain all the forecasts. APP information begins on page 10.

Technical Presentation

Anonymous said...

thanks Lynn for the link - that was very helpful.

In short, the District is assuming that because north-end middle school APP grew by 7% in both 2012 and 2013, it will continue this same growth rate for the next 9 years. Rather than looking at it as a one time increase as Hamilton became an attractive option (and Spectrum was gutted) that will then level out. I continue to be concerned that the District is significantly overprojecting the number of north-end APP middle-school APP. A 7% annual growth rate in APP middle schools for 9 years just doesn't seem realistic to me.

Catherine

Lynn said...

I share your concerns. I hope you can find someone to listen to them. Eden?

Anonymous said...

@Melissa. Here are some questions for you.

1. Does the current GB plan adequately manage both the immediate and long-term capacity short-falls at Eckstein and Hamilton?

2. What is the minimum number of students (overall and per grade level) needed to provide the funding for full comprehensive middle school offerings and services?

3. Under the current GB plan, will JAMS enrollment support comprehensive offerings and services?

4. If the enrollment at JAMS does not support comprehensive offerings and services, will this budget short-fall be mitigated so that JAMS opens in 2014-15 as a comprehensive middle school?

Thank you,

-North-end Mom

apparent said...

Catherine,

your concern about wildly overprojected north Seattle APP middle school numbers being tossed out to justify another split is justified.

The projected north Seattle 80% increase over a 10-year period (569in 2013-14 to 983 in 2022-23 in the technical report linked by Lynn above) is obviously bogus when compared with much, much lower elementary and south Seattle projections.

And especially so since the planned task force on eligibility criteria has not even been formed. Why would the board accept such unsupported numbers from SPS staff?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, here is my question and thank you in advance for asking it!

How can the district possibly justify from the notice and walkability standpoints making this change of Leschi to Meany instead of Washington?

Alice

Lynn said...

apparent,

The task force has been formed. The first meeting was October 10th.

Matthew Cary said...

My question (I guess it's a little leading):

Is the proposal to move areas 43 and 33 into the McGilvra zone really a sustainable, long-term solution? Does it not just perpetuate and extend all the problems around areas 42 and 43 in general?

A couple of other comments:

It looks like there will be no public testimony for growth boundaries at Wednesday's meeting. Is that other peoples' interpretation too?

To TechyMom:
I don't think there has ever been a real proposal to turn Madrona into a K-5. So it's never been on the table in the first place. There's constantly gossip about it, but there's always lots of gossip about Madrona.

Matthew Cary said...

Actually, the reference to no public testimony is for the board work session on thursday. There will be testimony as usual on Wednesday. Sorry for inflicting my confusion on everyone.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Right, Matthew, there is no public testimony at Work Sessions. They occasionally ask the SCPTA President or Sped PTA president for input but that is rare.

skier said...

Matthew Cary - I like your ski picture. I wish I could see it clearly!

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Here's my question - how can an Option school not even be located in its own GeoZone? The new QAE GeoZone is 8 blocks away from the school - at the closest point.

QA Parent

apparent said...

Melissa,

my question stands -- why should the board accept as accurate a bloated and unsupported projected 80% increase in north Seattle MS APP over the coming decade?

And Lynn, thanks for the task force formation update on advanced learning identification, outreach (and criteria too?), but my point is that it will not report until November 29. Will either task force address these APP enrollment projections in their work?

Anonymous said...

QAE's geozone does not surround the school? That's ludicrous. Look, the district can enlarge or expand it as much as it wants or shift it north south east west. The shape of Thornton Creek's geozone got a lot of discussion because it was clearly being used to manage capacity. But one of the many criteria for the things is also that they serve the surrounding neighborhood. Shouldn't be only for capacity. Someone needs to protest loudly.

Thornton Neighbor

Eric B said...

Questions about where APP students who will be in 6th grade in 2014-15 will go to school are answered in the latest update on MS interim capacity management: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/13-14%20agendas/101613agenda/20131016_InterCapMgmt_Attachment1.pdf

Rising 6th graders in JAMS attendance area: JAMS
In Eckstein AA: JAMS or Eckstein Gen Ed
In Wilson-Pacific or Whitman AA: Hamilton (note that this is not spelled out, but there is nowhere else that these students are assigned).

apparent said...

Melissa,

could I ask another question, maybe somebody knows the answer: Has SPS ever considered the vacated MOHAI museum building on the Montlake Cut for use as a possible school?

Because of its picturesque location, the building is not well suited for an attendance area school, but it would actually work great as a permanent location for an option program, for example, Pinehurst Elementary, or Jane Addams environmental K-8, with its trailheads literally leading from the parking lot down into the Arboretum!

Does any reader know what this building is currently being used for now that the museum has moved to South Lake Union?

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