Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Seattle School Board Executive Committee

No time to do a complete write-up to several major items of note:
  • It appears that some changing are coming to EOCs for algebra and geometry.  It looks like there will be some sort of comprehensive exam coming in the next four years.  Michael Tolley reported this as coming from OSPI and that he had had a meeting with high school principals.  Most seem on-board but a few felt there was too much testing and would only want to give it to students who hadn't passed a class.
  • A lot of talk around the agenda for working with the State Legislature this session.  Director Peaslee asked for a clear document around the costs of services to students, where WA State ranks nationally for per student funding, and class size.  She said there seems to be a disconnect between the realities in the district and what the Seattle delegation understands.  She said a few of them seem to think the new money makes up for all the cuts and it does not.  Cliff Traisman, the district' legislative rep, said he agreed and even Senator Ross Hunter knew that the new money was not going to get the Legislature to the 2018 deadline for McCleary.  It was also noted that Sped costs should be pointed out to the legislators (what the district is paying for versus what the state funds.)  
  • It was also pointed out that several legislators - David Frockt, Speaker Chopp, Jamie Pedersen, Gerry Pollet - had worked hard to get more capital dollars to SPS.  There will be a celebratory event sometime in November for these efforts.   (Interesting side note: it was stated that if Ed Murray wins for mayor, the Pedersen is likely to take his place in the Senate.  Hmm.)
  • Math adoption - Director McLaren pointed out that the membership of the adoption committee should include higher ed and include teachers at the grade level being discussed.  
  • Growth Boundaries.  The Operations Committee meeting right before the Work Session on Growth Boundaries on October 17th will discuss the Intermediate Capacity Management Plan to Support Implementation of Growth Boundaries and BEX IV.  I puzzled over this until it was explained it was the matrix handed out at the Growth Boundaries meetings and it, too, may change if the boundaries change.  I'll try to find a link - it's basically who will go where during construction.
  • There will be a survey about the boundaries that may start around October 12, 13th to about the 21st.  I talked to Flip Herndon and urged him to way until AFTER the October 17th boundaries so that people clearly know what is on the table.  He said they were considering that.  
  • Good news - all the Directors stated that they had been listening to input and believed they were hearing valid concerns.  President Smith-Blum stated that in 2008, they had been given good data from the community which was not listened to and they closed schools.  She said she wanted to be sure that staff was listening to community data (example: Central area has two volunteer demographers working on their issues).  Mr. Herndon said that when people see the "Growth Boundaries 2.0, they will see it takes into account feedback."
  • FACMAC.  Well, this was an interesting discussion.  Director Patu stated that there had been complaints that it is not a regionally diverse group.  Mr. Herndon said he was reviewing that and that it was a topic for the next FACMAC meeting (probably next week).  He also said there were a couple of open spots.  President Smith-Blum said it was important to not have too many people from one program.  Director Peaslee said there needed to be a better charter about what FACMAC members can say publicly.  She said there was confusing that some members are giving a personal opinion at meetings that was not the group's.  The Directors agreed that the members should support the committee's recommendations and any recs should come from the entire committee.
  • Mann building.  It was stated that the fencing is up and the portable put in.  Director Peaslee expressed discomfort with finding out there was a partnership from the Times rather than getting that info from staff.  It was clearly stated that any partnership would be for after-hours use of the main building.  Pegi McEvoy said there are options on the table but no updates until meetings to discuss them.  President Smith-Blum emphasized that nothing should compromise the work that Nova is doing on their program during school hours.   It looks like this will be process that will take a long time and much planning.
  • Sped Corrective Plan has been resubmitted to OSPI and the district is waiting for the 10-day review period.  Staff hopes to intro it at the November 6th Board meeting.
  • There is to be a regular OPSI-required review of facilities by Meng Analysis, probably starting in the spring.  This company has done several of these for the district and I think they do a good job.  This means walking through every single building and doing a basic structural/building analysis.
  • Quite the discussion about Pinehurst.  It was stated by Ron English that Pinehurst should be part of the Board vote on Growth Boundaries.  President Smith-Blum, ever alert, said, "Building or program closure?"  He said, "program."  Smith-Blum said closing a program is in the Superintendent's column so why would the Board vote?  Mr. English said well, if the decision is to close the program - a 40-year program - then it seems like it should be included in the Growth Boundaries.  There was silence among the Directors.  Smith-Blum said well, if the Board is now getting to vote on programs, then I'll be happy to vote in more language immersion.  Director Peaslee said she wanted to make sure there were alternatives on this if it were to be included such as not closing the program but relocating it.  Mr. English said there would be some presented at the October 17th Work Session.  Director Peaslee said that they could not vote because it might mean voting down the entire Boundaries plan because of one issue.  Charles Wright stated that public visibility of the closure of a long-time program is important but that yes, this is the domain of the Superintendent.  He said the Board could weigh in but it's the Superintendent's decision and it would create a slippery slope.  Director Peaslee said, yes but Mr. English has been at the Pinehurst meetings and said it was the Board's decision and yet it really is not.  President Smith-Blum settled it by saying that Director DeBell had these same concerns over Superintendent versus Board roles and that they need to stay steadfast to their roles.
Editor's note; I found this particular area of the topic something to ponder.  While I appreciate the importance of the issue, that staff would want the Board to vote on something clearly out of their duties (and then complain about Board overstepping or micromanaging), I wonder if the Superintendent wanted this vote as some cover from the unhappiness that will occur if the decision is made to close Pinehurst.  Superintendent Banda was not at the meeting.
  • Last interesting topic - a code of conduct for the Board towards each other.  Director McLaren offered this up as she said the Board does function well and get many things done but sometimes members are less than careful about stepping on each other's toes (my words, not hers).  She said they had no specifics on this.  Her examples were 1) a commitment to respect each other in public venues including the media and blogs, 2)commitment to confidentiality of information from Ex Sessions and 3) "measured and honest transparency in personal goals." Lastly, she mentioned "a process for holding each other accountable."  Very big stuff.  She said she would work on this with Erin Bennett (who said she would check with WSSDA and other public entities like the City Council). 
          McLaren said this was likely something to be finished after the elections in November.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

The state legislature changed the high school assessments AGAIN last session. The state will begin administering the 11th Smarter Balanced comprehensive math assessment in 2014-15. However, the state will need to continue to offer the math EOCs through the graduating class of 2018. Starting in the 2014-15 school year, OSPI must provide for students opportunities to take the 11th grade Smarter Balanced comprehensive math test, a new yet-to-be-developed 10th grade comprehensive math test (from Common Core math content), and the EOCs. Students in the graduating classes of 2015 through 2018 would have to pass both EOCs (Algebra and Geometry) to graduate or one of the new comprehensive math tests to graduate.

--- swk

mirmac1 said...

"It was also noted that Sped costs should be pointed out to the legislators (what the district is paying for versus what the state funds.)" While they're at it, they can point out what district is paying for GenEd versus what the state funds...

And the board should demand greater transparency of where all that extra state money went. It didn't ALL go to counselors and an occasional assistant principal. How much went to Common Core BS, PG&E trainings, bonuses and merit stipends, IPads for administrators, employee investigations and lawsuits etc etc.

sped reader

Charlie Mas said...

I love this talk about the Board role and how the superintendent and the staff like to bring non-policy items to the Board for a vote.

It is brilliant, just brilliant, for the Board to call the superintendent on this move.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, it was a bit of a squirmy moment because none of the directors was fooled. Charles Wright manned up and said yes, it was a public issue about Pinehurst and should be openly discussed but it was the Superintendent's call.

I think Smith-Blum's push "well, I'll be glad to bring up and vote on foreign language immersion" was good as it then was quite clear that if this door opened, the Board would go thru it.

Josh Hayes said...

Thanks for the info about the Pinehurst discussion. It's true that Mr. English has been at some pains to suggest that Banda's closure recommendation is just a recommendation, and that the Board will decide. From your description, however, it's clear that it is solely Banda's decision. Does this mean, then, that the die is cast, and the school/program is toast? That there is no possibility of colocation or movement of the program?

Frankly, I doubt Mr. Banda is concerned about blowback. I'm sure the Times would laud this as a sensible move in the face of crowding in the north end and a failing program blah blah blah (insert usual lame Times verbiage here). This is the way a school ends: not with a bang, but a whimper.

Anonymous said...

Oh, boy, I want to send KSB a BIG bunch of roses. Don't always agree with her but so sad to see her go.

Chris S.

mirmac1 said...

On the contrary Josh. I've found Varner and crew are primed to jump on Banda's case for anything and everything. Gotta to help him off-balance so the Alliance and friends can swoop in....

Crownhill said...

Just to clarify - KSB was suggesting she'd vote for or against language immersion expansion if allowed - one could read the language of your post either way. I'm guessing against, as its my understanding this is a DeBell pet project, right?

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, KSB meant FOR - she mentioned getting some foreign language immersion for the Central area.

mirmac1 said...

Yes, unfortunately LI is the priority du jour.

Charlie Mas said...

Director Smith-Blum is doing what Director DeBell, the Alliance for Education, and Lynne Varner always say that they want the Board to do - focus on policy and governance and butt out of administration and management. Except that these folks don't really want the Board to do that. They only say that because it is a convenient stick they can use to beat the Board. In truth, these folks all want the Board to intervene on their behalf.

Director DeBell goes off on rants about not writing procedure into the policies, and then he writes a procedure-filled policy for waivers for instructional materials.

Lynne Varner chides the Board for micromanaging and then wants them to take action against the MAP boycott at Garfield.

The only parts of the Growth Boundary updates that should interest the Board are the creation of new schools (that reminds me: when, exactly, did the Board vote to create the new school APP @ Lincoln?) and the program placement decisions and the Board should only review the program placements for compliance with the policy, not for the wisdom or quality of the decisions. Nothing else about the Growth Boundary update is a policy or governance matter. None of it requires a vote of the Board.

Yeah, take a moment with that. The Board should not be voting on the Growth Boundary issue at all. It's not policy. It is an administrative and management decision and it should be delegated entirely to the superintendent.

mirmac1 said...

I agree Charlie. So the Board should butt out of the K-5 STEM at Boren recommendation. If the Superintendent and staff think this is more important than ensuring appropriate space for secondary in West Seattle, then its rejection is a no-brainer.

NW mom said...

I thought it was K-8 STEM at Boren? So some secondary grades there as well?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of testing - my 10th grader at Franklin just told me they administered the MAP test in math to her today. Wth?? It clearly states on SPS website that MAP testing is only for K-9th.....

Any other 10th grade and above parents have their kids tested as well? I tried to opt her out last year but hey were in the middle of the second round so I didn't make a big stink since I (mistakenly) thought that was the last time she'd take it......aaarrgh!

~franklin parent

mirmac1 said...

If in doubt, OPT- OUT!

Catchy, eh?

Anonymous said...

Thought this was an interesting tidbit from the SPS website:

Recommendations to the Board Coming Soon

The draft information from September 17 is now obsolete. New recommendations will go to the Board on October 16, and will be posted with the Board agenda on October 11. These recommendations will contain changes as a result of community input. Please check back for updated information and for directions on how you can provide feedback on the October 16 recommendations.

TC

Melissa Westbrook said...

Obsolete? Well, then they better not release that survey until AFTER the Work Session. Otherwise,why bother?

Charlie Mas said...

Yes, mirmac1. The Board should butt out of decisions around the placement of K-5 STEM at Boren. The public should have input, but the Board should only have input as members of the public, not in any official capacity. If they were wise, they would avoid the appearance of official involvement by not providing any input as members of the public.

Anonymous said...

A couple APP and SPED 'advocates' seem to hijack every other thread. Melissa thank you for the blog rules reminder about thread jacking and helping the parent community keep talking about many other important SPS issues. Makes the blog overall more helpful and informative. Keep up the great work.

Grateful

Melissa Westbrook said...

TC, where did you find your info at the SPS website? I'd like to put this up in a separate thread but can't find it.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

What TC posted is on the Growth Boundaries page.

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=294923

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Yep, that's it. Sorry, should've added the link. Thanks, StepJ.

TC

Linh-Co said...

Janet Zombro, the Math Program Manager, is no longer in that position. I don't know what the back story is, but this could delay the elementary math adoption.

mirmac1 said...

Can I put money down on "next Tolley buddy on the displaced principal list"?