Thursday, November 07, 2013

Pinehurst and Its Fate

At the Board meeting last night, the fate of the Pinehurst program was discussed.

There was an Intro item on the agenda to end the program.  Before I left the meeting, I was handed a sheet that outlined the idea of AS-1 and Indian Heritage joining together.  It's a pretty thoughtful piece of work that would co-join the goals of both programs.  (They want to be at Lincoln for the interim and them move to W-P; that part confuses me because they want to be K-8 and that wouldn't work at that location.)  The Indian Heritage High school would be part of Ingraham which has the largest number of Native American students in the north end.  They would then move to the new Lincoln High (or again at W-P but it won't fit).  I think this could have legs but it would take more than one Director to get any traction.

Ron English ran through the issues - that Pinehurst costs $8k per student compared to $5k at larger schools.  They could put Pinehurst at Van Asselt but most of Pinehurst's students come from the area around the existing building.  Move to Decataur after Thorton Creek moves out but then you the expense of a building that isn't full.

But Director DeBell was pretty cold on the idea of keeping either program.  He said that "there is nothing absolute about any program or school."  He said it can't be "necessitated" to keep every single program.  He said that the parent demand for either program is not there.  He said if there is demand, "it is not evident."

I waited and thank goodness, Director Peaslee pointed out the very obvious and real point that neither program has enough district support and have been on the chopping block, making it very difficult to increase enrollment.  (Not to mention how badly the Native American program has been underserved by the former director.)  To not acknowledge the district's role in what may be the demise of these programs is wrong.  

(I had stated no one else stepped up and spoke up.   I was mistaken and must have somehow skipped through it on my Tivo. )

Director Patu was impassioned about the need to think of communities and what these schools mean. For the second time that night she asked what is more important - money or programs?  A tough question.  But she said she felt that the program had not been supported.

DeBell said that when Phil Brockman was in the district, he worked with the principal to try to help increase the enrollment.  He didn't want to let the statements stand that no one on staff was trying to help support Pinehurst or the Native American program.

(I'll just say that I believe DeBell but I have also seen the effects of a constant threat of closure and that DeBell didn't want to even acknowledge that was strange.)

Smith-Blum said she looks forward to staff vetting this new proposal.  She said they need to find out from parents what it is that works for their children in the program if that can be found elsewhere for them.


Anonymous said...

I thought Director Patu spoke up in support of Pinehurst, too?

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll review the tape but that's not reflected in my notes.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Northend, I did review the tape and I somehow skipped something. Director Patu did indeed speak up. I have corrected my accounting of this portion of the meeting.

Anonymous said...

Could someone say more about Pinehurst? I have been reading this blog for about 5 years, and for all those years only remember comments about Pinehurst / AS-1 closing. I've never heard about the focus of Pinehurst's curriculum. -And there you go! no wonder the enrollment has dwindled.


Maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

District expenditure per student at RBHS is $10,650 (Ingraham is $7049, Roosevelt is $5841).

What does South Shore cost? For '12-13, SPS says $8,936 per student. I'm thinking that doesn't include what the New School Foundation gives them (and certainly doesn't include the amortized cost of that gorgeous new building.)

Do Ron English's numbers control for demographics? For the value of serving kids who truly fall outside the neat bell curve and NEED alternative education? We test for extreme academic abilities and make some attempt to meet those kids' needs. It is worth spending a bit more to hold on to the kids who can't succeed in a neighborhood school but don't fall into an academic category that gives them an alternative.

Josh Hayes said...

I can provide some info about Pinehurst; no doubt others will want to emphasize different aspects of the school. It is a well-knit community, and that's something that struck me about the place when my son first started there in kindergarten (he is now in 11th grade). Every kid knew who all the other kids were, unlike all the other schools I visited.

The curriculum is project-based, especially in the middle school grades. It is also heavily experiential: lots of hands-on work, lots of field trips. There is a conscious and serious effort to promote social justice and equity. The student body is pretty darn diverse (mirroring the district as a whole surprisingly well), both racially and SES-wise. Pinehurst, and AS1 before it, has always had a significantly higher-than-average rate of SpecEd kids, with documented IEPs (district average a bit under 15%, at Pinehurst a bit over 30%). We have also in recent years had a couple of developmental preschools sharing the building. I assume they will have to find a new location when the building is razed.

The school fought the mandated testing program for years, but when Summit was closed and some of the staff merged into AS1, the opt-out rate fell dramatically, and now most kids take the tests, although the teaching staff does not "teach to the test" in any concerted way.

They have a terrific ultimate Frisbee team, and have led the league in "spirit" for the last three years running! Pretty good for a middle-school sport when the school only has about 60 middle-school age kids.

Certainly it's not for everyone. Some kids thrive in a rigidly structured curriculum, and feel comfortable with rows of desks. Some kids shrivel up in that kind of environment and need a school that teaches the individual child; IMO this is Pinehurst's aim: a truly child-centered educational experience. Both of my kids will have spent their first nine years of school at Pinehurst/AS1 by the end of this school year, and I cannot imagine that they would have grown and learned as much anywhere else in this district.

Maureen said...

Oops, South Shore's numbers do seem to include grant funding. But why are their Special Ed expenditures over $12K per student when Pinehurst's are only $7436? And isn't it odd that 9.7% of SS's students qualify for Sped services when 46.6% qualify at Pinehurst (TOPS is 16.6% for comparison.)

Does SS have a medically fragile or even self contained program?

Julie said...

I just got an email back from Sharon Peaslee saying the two programs are working together to come up with proposal and will be gathering signatures. It looks like they will need community to step up and support the petition. I hope it helps their cause.

And thank you Josh for the information on Pinehurst.

All for One and One for All...

Anonymous said...

After years of refusing to admit students with disabilities, back when it was "New School", in true darling of the district "charter" form, SS now has an EBD program and an Autism Program. Which is a lot for 1 school. Both are pricey. (The district has gotten real secretive lately, and everybody who knows anything quit, so info might not be 100% accurate.) AS1 only has resource room, which is cheap. But, there's a lot of them.

Eddie Speddie

Anonymous said...

To me Pinehurst sounds great and I wish every school was more like it. But it's a boutique school and doesn't fit into the equity equation. I see the same problem with the Indian school. Shouldn't the focus be on assimilation? As in assimilation of non-Indians into the native cultures of the Americas.


Ragweed said...


I was the one that gave you the proposal, which was crafted by myself and some other members of the Pinehurst Community in conjunction with Sarah Sense-Wilson and other members of the Urban Native Education Alliance. It has a lot of support in the Native community locally.

The K-8 portion of the program is envisioned as either a small, self-contained K-8 if it can be fit into the construction, or a K-8 pathway with K-5 at Wil-Pac Elementary and 6-8 at Wil-Pac Middle school. Ideally the pathway proposal would have a single program manager to insure continuity between the two.

Wilson Pacific was the home of the previous Indian Heritage High School and it has a lot of resonance with the Native Community, which is why that was the proposed location. Other locations could be considered, but the Native community feels strongly about that site. They also feel strongly about having one or both of the Wil-Pac schools named after Robert Eaglestaff, as was promised at his funeral.

As for the future high-school location, I think that would be worked out down the road. There is some desire in the native community for a separate high-school program at Wil-Pac to provide total K-12 continuity. On the other hand placing the program at a larger high-school would give the IHHS students access to comprehensive high-school classes and opportunities. The main thing is that the Native Community wants the Indian Heritage High-school program opened next year.

John Chapman

Amy said...

I sent the following e-mail to the board after hearing that there was quite a heated debate at the October 17th Work Session On Boundaries wherein one board member insisted that we'd had several years without a closure threat before this last. Another challenged this assertion, and was so aggressively rebuffed by the other that they actually apologized.

Trusted Board Members,

I just wanted to make sure that all board members have accurate information as to when Pinehurst AS/1
last faced a closure threat. This link announces AS/1 overcoming a closure threat in December 2010.

Then last year we were added to the BEX IV one month before the board approved it.
I believe the fact that the school was not promised a new home, once again, reduced enrollment.

I'm sure you can see how these constant threats of closure and/or homelessness might impact our enrollment numbers, thus increasing per student costs.

Thank You,
Amy Levengood
Pinehurst Site Council Chair

Ten Phil Brockmans would be no match for closure threats every one or two years.

Ragweed said...

Those who want to know more about Pinehurst can go to this page. Look in the menu under "About" for an overview of different aspects of our program.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"As in assimilation of non-Indians into the native cultures of the Americas."

You'd have to explain that to me. Do you mean we should include the entire history of our country - including Native Americans and African-Americans and Mexicans - in our curriculum? Because if so, then yes. (I'm not trying to leave any group out so please don't get upset - this is an example.)

Our children need to know the entire story - good, bad and ugly - and not the "well, that was a shame but let's move on." Because then it overlooks the contributions to our society and to the fabric of our society from the groups that built up our our country.

Anonymous said...

Cochise -- your comment is interesting in light of this piece regarding native children in foster care in Seattle that was in Crosscut this week:

Native Intelligence

"It is impossible to talk about these imbalances without accounting for a long and painful Native history that includes pioneers giving Native people smallpox-infested blankets, moving Natives to reservations, sending their children to boarding schools (to “kill the Indian and save the man”) and removing Native children from their families at a huge rate (25 to 35 percent of all Native American children) before the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978."

It parallels the contention that black students are also not being served in a culturally appreciative manner by Seattle Schools. Or that boys are also being disproportionally punished for normal behaviors. Or the fact that history lessons seem to overlook contributions of anyone who isn't a white male.

Our standard instructional approach and curriculum isn't inclusive - not even of different learning styles. We can do better. Why can't we have magnet schools in Seattle? It seems like things are going more towards standardization rather than personalization and Common Core and No Child Left Behind waiver requirements are only squeezing more students into one way of learning and thinking.

Ann D

search4chin said...

Thanks to everyone who has commented.

I wouldn't call Alternative School #1 (aka Pinehurst K-8) a boutique school by any means. The word "boutique" screams of elitism. AS#1 (aka Pinehurst K-8) is as far from elitist as could possibly be imagined. Words like "holistic" and "equity" are the cornerstone of the school. Holistic, inclusive approaches to every child, parent and human that crosses the threshold and equity for all are truly what defines the school and not just because I pulled them from their website. It actually happens there.

The district has had the school/program in its crosshairs since it began and for the decades to follow, but for some reason it has lasted for 40+ years.

It's because of the ever growing small community that keeps coming together to again educate the public of what the school is about and again fight for its existence.

This is why I, not only as an AS#1 parent, but also as a Native American man can tell you that this school and its community is a perfect fit for the collaboration with Indian Heritage School. AS#1 has had similar struggles as Indians and the Indian Heritage program, including name changes and land stealing.

AS#1 will give the Native community the respect it deserves and when this new proposal gets some steam behind it, it will thrive, just as the kids at AS#1 thrive.

Danny Littlejohn
Alternative School #1(aka Pinehurst K-8) Parent
Ho-Chunk Nation tribal member

Ragweed said...


"Our children need to know the entire story - good, bad and ugly - and not the "well, that was a shame but let's move on." Because then it overlooks the contributions to our society and to the fabric of our society from the groups that built up our our country."

I could not agree with you more. If every school was willing to take this approach, there would be less need for a school like Pinehurst. But for the most part the bad and the ugly are ignored, downplayed, or neglected. At the Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice, I was struck by how many of the curricula proposed in various workshops - from Holocaust education, to the history of slavery, to examining the production methods of common consumer products - were already part of a time-honored curriculum at Pinehurst. Shutting down the school moves the district backwards in that goal.

Anonymous said...

Someone on another thread mentioned the amount of space at Lowell. Any chance the Pinehurst/Indian Heritage program could be there for 2-3 years until WilPac Campus opens up?


Anonymous said...

Could Pinehurst go to JAMS or Eckstein for 2 -3 years until some space like Decatur (old Thornton Creek) or the Nordic Heritage building in Ballard/Crown Hill or Wilson Pacific opens?

If Eckstein is split 6/-8 to start JAMS, both schools do have space for less than 200 kids for a couple years. Probably Pinehurst could take over the Eckstein portables, until the school grows back into them again. By 2017 or so both Middle Schools are huge again (seriously, maybe Kellie or Eden can post the numbers predicted).

The size of the kids coming up at Eckstein and JAMS is why APP can't stay there permanently - but Pinehurst is smaller, and could stay for a short defined time, then move to a permanent home like the Nordic heritage site (too small and historic to ever be a neighborhood school, museum moves in 2016) or share Wilson. At that point the middle schools would need their own space back anyway.

This way, APP doesn't get kicked out again from JAMS/Eckstein, Pienhurst gets a temp home, and Hamilton can still use a Lincoln South Annex. It seems to be the least moves for the fewest people.

What am I missing? Why does this seem obvious?

And can SOMEONE bring that up in director meetings this weekend?

signed - trying

Julie said...


If you read the other thread on downtown school, you'd realize your suggestion will be opening an another can worms...