Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Seattle Schools named Washington State Schools of Distinction

From JA K-8 comes this news:

Jane Addams K-8 has been awarded a Washington State School of Distinction Award for a second year in a row! 99 schools in the state received the recognition this year, for outstanding improvements in reading and math, and they represent the top 5% of improvement state-wide. This year JA K-8 was recognized for gains in both elementary and middle school.

Also making the list are:
  • Catherine Blaine K-8
  • Cleveland High School
  • Greenwood Elementary
  • Hamilton International Middle School
  • McClure Middle School
  • Mercer Middle School
  • Queen Anne Elementary
  • Thurgood Marshall Elementary
  • Wing Luke Elementary
Congratulations to all these schools and their hard-working staff, students, and families!


Anonymous said...

JA K8 will be moving to the Marshall building this year. Hopefully, it will be able to maintain its program when it transitions. But, there is A LOT of uncertainty if they are forced to move this year.

Unfortunately, the District's commitment to option programs is waning.

Hopefully, during this move, JAK8 will be able to keep their most of their staff, who are the reason for the award, but with enrollment declines, staff will be cut. So it is very uncertain. Budgets are built out on projections, and so a loss of staff would probably be unavoidable. That is going to harm the quality of a strong program. That is why a move now will be damaging to the progress they've made. Moving will interfere with academics. And, building budgets are suppose to be cut by 20% next year, which is going to impact everyone, but especially a school that has been made to move to a temporary campus.

And, once they are at Marshall, their fate will be unclear: just like the Seward building was built for another community, but ultimately given to a different one once the time came to occupy it, it is not certain who will get Pinehurst in the end, so, JA K8 may be the new permanent school for Marshall. Hopefully, they can make it work at the Marshall building, but, last year, when the District considered this move, the JA K8 community were adamant that would kill their program, because it was too far and families wouldn't go along with the move. If the program withers during the move, there is no way the District will site them as an option into a new building. Buildings must be fully used, (that is why Pinehurst is getting rebuilt, because it was half empty), so it is easy to predict that this will end up as an assignment building. Last year, they were able to successfully make the case that moving made no sense, that it would incur costs to move twice and mean the Marshall building wouldn't be utilized to full capacity because families would skip the uncertainty and years of long bus rides. If common sense prevailed last year, hopefully it will again this year.

If JA K8 stays put this year they won't loose staff, they won't loose enrollment, the program will be stable, and they will continue to make academic progress, which ought to be what the District prioritizes in the first place! I hope they will be able to make the case for their own stability, because to scramble them now by removing them seems very short-sited with some serious long-term consequences for everyone in the north northeast.

This reminds me of what happened to West Seattle programs during the last go round. There were clearly winners (South Shore K8), and there were losers, who still haven't recovered. And now, the District is reversing what it did to West Seattle. If moving the JA K8 last year would have been a mistake (which clearly it would have been, as the program grew and earned another academic award), then moving them this year makes even less sense. It will be even more expensive, more risky, more inefficient, and more damaging to academics than it would have as compared to last year when they didn't end up moving.

All this to say, congratulations to all of the strong schools recognized, teachers can do amazing things working together. I hope all of the recognized communities are left to keep doing what they are doing, nurturing young minds and strong communities! Thank you!

-stay strong

Melissa Westbrook said...

Building budgets are to be cut 20% next year? I missed this - when was this announced and why would that be?

I believe the district will support JA K-8 during the transition if only because they are building a K-8 building. It costs them more to do that and then to put in an assignment building would be foolish.

What do you think should happen for JA-K-8 to prevent some of these issues?

Anonymous said...

@stay strong

You wrote this:
"This reminds me of what happened to West Seattle programs during the last go round. There were clearly winners (South Shore K8), and there were losers, who still haven't recovered. And now, the District is reversing what it did to West Seattle."

South Shore K8? Last time I checked, it wasn't located in West Seattle.


Anonymous said...

Oh come now. First, we don't know who is going to be in John Marshall this year. At all. Everything is still up in the air and will be for at least another month. Probably more. It is unfortunate, but most of us knew it was going to be this way. This was, I admit, always my complaint about not opening JAMS this year- it's not like the district was going to suddenly stop being a procrastinating beast, and if it was always going to be last minute, why not this last minute?

There is no reason to suspect the k-8 would not have gotten this award if it was in John Marshall this year. The award is given for improvement- just being a relatively new school with an engaged parent base especially in the k-3 grades, especially now being the only spectrum school with open spots in the area, means the scores are going to go up. I'm not sure it's the most meaningful award, but they would still have gotten it, and besides that is not what is working at the k-8. What is working is a great parent group and principal, and nothing is happening to them next year. There will still be all that community building and strong academics, and hopefully not in the middle of a portable farm. If it does stay, it might end up experiencing overcrowding the way the rest of the NE has, and THAT actually could harm the program. If they do go to John Marshall, they'll have space for the kids to have music classes not in the cafeteria during lunch (which happens at one of my schools) and hallways not constantly crowded so a few students can work in them for 10 minutes if need be. I can hardly imagine the luxury. Green Lake is right there and a great place for activities and environmental stewardship. It could be great.

The new JAMS principal will I'm sure be looking to pluck off whichever staff does not need to make the move (since the middle school enrollment bump was always meant to be short term), and the pinehurst building is 1) not coveted by any other group and 2) opening shortly.

There are a lot of communities in legitimate crisis; let's stay on task and worry about them. JA k-8 is doing great. The worst that could really happen to them at this point is having to move their wonderful library twice, but if so, instead of chicken littling, grab a box and help.


Anonymous said...

I've always found it troubling when schools are given an honor of distinction shortly after becoming more wealthy and white. I give McClure for example. I'm sure they are working hard over there, maybe even doing some great and innovative work, but the transformation of their student population has been quite a dramatic shift. Their scores has risen in unison with the NSAP roll-up. I wish OSPI filtered out schools with rapidly changing demographics from these awards, not doing so cheapens the distinction for the rest.

Charlie Mas said...


In the BEX III planning there were a number of schools with buildings in poor shape. Pathfinder - at the Genesee Hill building - was one of them. But the District had a deal with the benefactors of the South Shore school that they would fix up their building. Thanks to that deal, Southshore got bumped up in the list of buildings for renovation - ahead of the place in line it would otherwise get. As the dominoes tumbled, the result was the closure of the Cooper School and the relocation of Pathfinder into the Cooper building.

So it wasn't direct, but it was a consequence. Southshore (thanks to the agreement with its benefactors) gets a renovation and, as a consequence, Cooper is closed.

Anonymous said...

As a prospective JAMS mom, the thought of co-housing JAMS with the K-8, using 23 portables is frightening. I hope the rumors are true, and SPS is reconsidering this plan. The over-crowding would be terrible, and I am also concerned about the timeline and duration of the proposed co-housing arrangement.

I've seen the plans for the new building at Pinehurst, and it is not your typical school building. There are a lot of what appear to be complicated elements (i.e. curved green roofs), and there are evidently a number of variances that will have to be obtained from the City for the project to go forward (parking, bus loading, building height, lot coverage, etc...).

I fear there could be construction delays, and I really don't see any way that SPS could guarantee that the interim co-housing arrangement would last for "only" two years. I can't imagine how many portables would be needed if co-housing had to continue for more than than two years.

JAMS needs and deserves a good, strong start. It needs to be implemented locally, in the Jane Addams building.

I wish the K-8 well. They are a strong program, and I'm sure they have what it takes to weather an interim housing stint, if that is what is called for in the new recommendations.

I hope that in a few years there will be a "Jane Addams Middle School - School of Distinction" award announcement. Our kids need and deserve a strong comprehensive middle school.

-North-end Mom

Greenwood Dad said...

Why only point out that JA made the list two years in a row? Greenwood also made the list for the second year in a row. Your "reporting" doesn't seem very even-handed when you are only pumping up one school and ignoring another.

-Greenwood Dad

Maureen said...

just like the Seward building was built for another community, but ultimately given to a different one once the time came to occupy it,

stay strong, can you explain what you mean by this? Seward was closed in the 80s due to low enrollment. TOPS was moved there in 1991. TOPS moved to McDonald in 97-98 during the renovation (the design was greatly influenced by TOPS staff and parents) and back to Seward in '99. Here's a TOPS Timeline. There was a very detailed history article in the TOPS newsletter (that addressed the issue of Eastlake school enrollment in more detail) sometime in the last 5-10 years, but I can't find it now.

JA Parent said...

@Stay Strong

I didn't realize a decision had been made to move JA K8 to John Marshall. Where did you hear this?

Anonymous said...

Mercer, McClure and Wing Luke are also winners two years in a row.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Greenwood Dad, please understand that I find out news in different ways. I saw JA making the list from a Facebook post. I then went to the site, checked for other schools and listed them.

There was NO slight intended. I don't get paid for what I do and I try to put out as much news - especially good news - as fast as I can.

As I said, it may be time for Charlie and I to write a thread about what this blog is and isn't.

Eric Fisk said...

Hamilton improvements are strictly a result of demographic shifts. I don't think it's a good idea to congratulate schools for test score increases. The best measure for schools is the teacher survey results.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm glad the commitment to option programs is becoming deemphasized (although I still think they get more attention and resources than the number of children enrolled in them merits). A general education is the guarantee. It should be the highest priority. Not unicorns or one-offs. Sorry, but that's reality in a pushing-50,000 kid district. There are 49,200 or so other kids who aren't in JAK8 ... and a heck of a lot of people pushing in line for JAMS. Gen ed trumps.

And I say that as a parent w/kids in a special unicorn school. But I never kidded myself that we would be the most important school to the district, I'm used to the roller-coaster (not!) so I'm never surprised.

Signed: Half a Unicorn

ben said...

@Half a Unicorn

That's really kind of a straw man argument. There are 780 kids in the building right now and 400-600 according to the last docs who will be rolling up in the new middle school. Those are the actual numbers. The other 49K kids obviously have their own buildings.

Everyone else i.e. Hamilton/Eckstein gen-ed students are getting what they want a reduction in overcrowding once we as a community get past the infighting on the transition plans.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"..although I still think they get more attention and resources than the number of children enrolled in them merits."

And you based that on...? That's a whopper of a sentence without any detail.

But Maureen, who was originally to get Seward? Go back farther.

Anonymous said...

Told ya'.

Just hope that if they go in, and our buildings leaders are seemingly supportive of this, which I already sensed they were, we make it out. That's the worrisome part, that and loosing staff/enrollment/resources and academic excellence. The light at the end of the tunnel isn't daylight, I fear, but a gigantic headlamp aiming straight at the community.
-stay strong