Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Seattle Growth Boundaries: Here's the Best Assessment So Far

So the SCPTSA may want the Board to vote first for the Intermediate Plan and then vote down the Growth Boundaries but that may not work.  (It's possible if they adjusted the Intermediate Plan.)

Here's the thing:  It feels like the Board and the staff could have cut up the Growth Boundaries plan, section by section, thrown the pieces in the air and picked 10 off the ground.  I honestly worry that somewhere in there is something that many will have overlooked and/or will not like.

 I want to have faith but when the SCPTSA says the process wasn't good, it wasn't good. 

When Kellie, Meg and others who really see the weeds AND the big picture and are worried, it isn't good. 

When a program gets moved around before its review is finished, it's not good (that would be AL).

When a school gets changed from a neighborhood school to an Option school without a single meeting of the school community, it's not good (that would be Dearborn Park).

When parents cannot understand what is written or what it means,  it's not good.

As usual, parent Kellie LaRue distills it best and I hope the Board listens.  What she has written could either be the roadmap to the future or tea leaf reading for what may come if they don't listen. 

Whatever the Board approves, will it turn out to be disasterous?  Probably not but it WILL set the course for the district to equitably serve students or continue to limp along in a hodge-podge and less-than-clear fashion.  

Kellie's Thoughts

Please prioritize the Student Learning experience first, capacity second and everything else thing else last.  Above all, get 2014 right. 

In my humble opinion, this would be my list of priorities and this list informs my recommendations.

1.     Do the least harm. There will be some change but all change must have a transparent benefit that out weights the switching cost of changes.

2.     A roadmap for BEX would be wonderful but we have to get 2014 right.

3.     We must have a realistic and clearly articulated sense of what limited capacity and negative capacity really means. In many parts of town, the capacity problem will get far worse, before it gets better and it may not get better. It is very possible that continued enrollment growth will outpace the capacity that is coming from BEX IV.

4.     Program placement is important but special education comes first. It is imperative that special education gets first placement with new capacity.  While it would be nice to have advanced learning closer to home for many students, this must come after general education seats..

5.     Feeder Patterns may be what we are constrained to work with, but it should at least be acknowledged that feeder patterns create only an illusion of stability. For communities in the center of a feeder pattern there are real benefits to this plan. However, for every family that lives near a boundary, they will be disrupted with every change, twice. In the current incarnation of the plan, they are getting forced school changes for both elementary and middle school, in some cases more than once each.
On the day of such a large vote, it may seem an odd question to ask everyone to take a brief moment to articulate precisely “What-are-we-trying-to-accomplish” with this growth boundaries project. However, I believe it is imperative with so many changes in the mix, that everyone take a very brief moment to articulate the “Exact Problem” that we are trying to solve.  After all, we are going to be doing this again next year and the year after. We should at least stop pretending that the Annual Capacity Management Plan is going to get any easier.

Unfortunately, I believe the Superintendent has completely failed to articulate a shared vision for what this plan is intended to accomplish. Shared questions build more community than shared answers and I don’t believe we have a shared question for this project.

In the absence of any shared vision, Board Directors and Community Members have attempted to comment and amend this plan according to their individual concepts as to what should be accomplished by this plan. Therefore we have a wild mixture of competing priorities coming from the communities, represented by a raft of more than 25 sometimes-conflicting amendments, creating a level of complexity that makes even the stone-cold heart this operations-manager blanch.

In the absence of a shared vision, here are a few of the individual concepts I have seen come out in the current free-for-all.

·      Some are crisply focused on the nuts and bolts of capacity management and are bringing a sharp focus to ensure that capacity is balanced amongst over-crowded and less-crowded buildings.

·      Some are vigorously focused on program placement and insisting on program placement decisions that forward a very specific notion of what language immersion and advanced learning should look like, regardless of whether or not there is adequate or sustainable capacity to support this notion going forward.

·      Some are very focused on the student learning experience and going to great lengths to ensure that a watchful eye is keep in place to ensure that there are stable communities of learners and are driven by a cost/benefit analysis for any change.

·      Some are trying to ensure that there is a roadmap for the entire BEX IV levy and that there are identified communities with an ownership stake associated with this capital investment.

·      Some want to build the feeder patterns for the three new middle schools.  Regardless of whether or not feeder patterns make sense for this purpose.

That is just a brief summary of the many competing visions that the plan and amendments are attempting to solve.  By simply reviewing this list it is very easy to see why there are so many mutually contradictory elements being presented simultaneously implement.

In the absence of a clear and shared vision, how is anyone to know how to follow the bouncing ball of the ever-shifting boundary lines, interim housing plans and grandfathering or geo-split status? While I do appreciate that updating plans is a confirmation that community feedback is being brought into the process, without a clearly identified set of priorities, there is simply no way for the average family to follow this process without a clearly identified set of priorities. Frankly, even as a specialist on this topic, I have also been struggling to follow the evolution of the plan.


Anonymous said...

The funny truth is that I can't even remember what the immediate capacity problems are!


Anonymous said...

"The funny truth is that I can't even remember what the immediate capacity problems are!"

I'm with you, but "funny" in that sad ironic way. I have absolutely no idea what they're planning on doing or what the landscape will look like. Fortunately no immediate concerns to worry about, either, but really, it's mind-boggling.


mirmac1 said...

Bravo kellie

Anonymous said...

It is just so sad to see the same angst, anger, sadness, hopelessness etc. with these boundary decisions that we experienced with the 2008 closure madness. That exercise in futility literally caused me to check-out of following school issues for a few years, beyond trying to make my child's immediate assignment work for our family.

We are not affected by the latest machinations; however, I am very disheartened to know that nothing has changed with this district, the total disregard for what the affected communities have to say continues which supports the assertion that the school board learned absolutely nothing from their mistakes seven years ago.

Bravo to those that continue the fight and my best wishes to those communities that will be completely uprooted by these changes.

-GHS parent

Anonymous said...

Ok, so here's a reminder of one of the immediate capacity problems--north end middle school overcrowding. For those advocating that we put on the brakes, what logistically and politically feasible solutions do you propose for next year?


Anonymous said...

I can't believe that any board member could in good conscience vote for this plan, given how ridiculous the process has been. I think there are less than 200 people in Seattle (and many are parents) who understand the issues completely and can make sense of this.

I think every board member should be given a quiz about the issues/solutions. If they don't pass, they don't vote. I'm betting most wouldn't get a passing grade, and the quorum would quickly disappear.

- Test Them

Anonymous said...

After almost 2 hours of discussion at last night's John Rogers General PTA meeting, with JAMS Planning Principal, Paula Montgomery and School Board Directors Harium Martin-Morris, and Sharon Peaslee in attendance, I am still baffled by how JAMS will meet the needs of all the students who will potentially be assigned to JAMS next fall.

If anyone can do it, I feel that Principal Montgomery can, as she is well-qualified for the job, but it will not be an easy task, by any means.

As part of her planning strategy, Principal Montgomery will hire Department Head positions this winter for: Math, Science, Language Arts/Social Studies, Performing and Visual Arts, Counseling, and SpEd.

If APP is placed at JAMS, and JAMS assignment is by Geo-split from Eckstein and Hamilton, she and her team will have to figure out how to accommodate:

1. Students, including ELL students, requiring intervention strategies to be brought up to at least grade level.
2. Students working at grade level.
3. Advanced Learners performing one grade level ahead in Math, Reading (and possibly Science?). These would be "Spectrum" students as well as undeclared advanced learners from area ALO schools.
4. Advanced Learners performing at least 2 grade levels ahead in Math, Reading and Science. These would be APP-designated students, as well as undeclared students determined by MAP scores, etc...
5. Former Eckstein and Hamilton students seeking World Language continuum in Spanish, French and Japanese.
6. Former JA K-8 students seeking World Language continuum in Chinese/Mandarin (as well as Spanish).
7. Former Eckstein, Hamilton, and JA K-8 students seeking advanced music (advanced band, jazz band, orchestra, etc...).
8. Former Eckstein, Hamilton, and JA K-8 students seeking advanced science and technology electives.
9. ELL students, representing a very broad range of native languages.
10. SpEd students, composition unknown, but likely to be a mixture of self-contained and inclusion.
11. Services to meet the needs of homeless, low income, and very low income students.

It appears that Principal Montgomery is leaning towards an inclusive "one school" approach to advanced learning, where students are placed according to aptitude, and not labels. I am still confused by how students performing at the "Spectrum" level if there is not a substantial cohort to warrant two levels of advanced learning classes, due to no Spectrum school in the JAMS feeder pattern. This may involve "Walk to LA/SS," and "Walk to Science,"in addition to "Walk to Math."

In my opinion, the JAMS planning team would have had enough on its plate trying to figure out how to serve a population of students drawn from the surrounding neighborhoods, plus students from the former JA K-8. To add to that the complexity of accommodating the needs of both APP students, as well as 7th and 8th grade students from the Hamilton and Eckstein geo-splits is, in my opinion, too much for JAMS.

To tie my post to this thread, I think JAMS is one example of what must be focused on in order to "Get 2014-15 Right."

Using what will be an empty building to solve capacity problems at two different middle schools (Eckstein and Hamilton), and moving students to the new building like widgets is not, in my opinion, a valid approach to designing a new middle school, especially in an area where of town where the needs of the resident students are so broad.

There is understandably some urgency to have the boundary decisions finalized so that JAMS program planning can begin, but I honestly wish the Board will take a step back, take a second look at the task before them, and see that trying to simultaneously solve the immediate capacity shortfalls at nearby middle schools is not an appropriate course for the design and implementation of the first new secondary school in Seattle in 40 years.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Yay Kellie.

BTW, KUOW just did a spot on this mess:


Anonymous said...

Thank you for going, NE mom, and I apologize for being dense, but - Principal Montgomery said she believes APP classes should not/will not be self contained at JAMS? Was she talking just about math(not an APP class), or did she say for everything? I know it's not your pet issue, but she hasn't been to see us (since we keep getting moved in and out- not faulting her), and I know self contained or not would shift many people's middle school plans.


Anonymous said...

Also, don't you walk to everything in middle school? So the way to do it is mix grade levels. Better to have similar speed kids together, but failing that, 7th graders taking algebra can be with 8th graders taking algebra, all 5th period or whatever. LA/SS is harder, since you do ned at least one section per grade level working at about the same place, so 30 spectrum kids per grade level.

Anonymous said...

Everbody on twitter, tweet the new hashtag that's gaining traction:


Maybe we can get that trending by the end of this Board meeting.

They have no business voting on anything right now since they really cannot even define what problem they are trying to solve with the majority of this or even the consistent vision they are relying on to solve whatever it is they are trying to solve. They really don't even know who they are sending where for what. Seriously?!?!! And, SpEd, hello? What are they doing for SpEd and how are going to ensure SpEd's educational adequacy? Mr. Banda, hello? Hello? Anybody home? When the Seattle Council PTSA is sending 11th hour reminders out to stop the crazy train, it warrants at least a second look before you hit "bomb's away". Look at how well that worked out for Seattle the last time the Superintendent did the same maneuver. You are stuck cleaning it up now. Don't leave the same mess for the next Super. Because while you all cycle in and out, we will all still be living here, with split siblings and children on busses when they could have walked.


Anonymous said...

I would defer to Principal Montgomery for the details of how she intends to accommodate both Spectrum and APP-level advanced learners.

At John Rogers, we were most concerned about kids in the middle...those kids performing at least one grade level ahead, but not testing into APP (or in most cases, not even tested for AL). With no spectrum feeder school, there may not be enough kids at that level to fill separate AL classes. It sounded like those kids would be placed in advanced learning classes according to ability, and/or mixed grade level classes.

She is very accessible, and I'm sure she would be willing to meet with APP parents at Hamilton and/or Lincoln.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Good lord, so we're now possibly looking at a new APP model for the NE, too? This sounds like a disaster.

I've been hesitant to embrace the "put on the brakes" plan because I'm aware of the very real overcrowding in some schools, but this is getting ridiculous. To my earlier question, does anyone have politically and logistically feasible ideas for how we could deal with the north end middle school capacity mess for the upcoming year if the board doesn't pass the new growth boundaries and/or interim capacity plan? Please convince me, so I can start sending my own "stop the madness" letters!


sixwrens said...


"Look at how well that worked out for Seattle the last time the Superintendent did the same maneuver. You are stuck cleaning it up now. Don't leave the same mess for the next Super."

And look who was on the board then. Many of the same folks trying to shove this down our throats.

Any plans for an actual protest at tonight's meeting? Honestly,that is what we need. A real outcry. This is BS. It does not have to be this way.

Anonymous said...

I should add that the conversation was not just about advanced learning. There was also concerns about the potential capacity impacts of placing APP at JAMS (the building is projected to be maxed out in only 4 years), as well as concerns about meeting the needs of our vulnerable low-income and ELL populations in the NNE.

The repurposed Jane Addams building will include a Teen Health Center, and Principal Montgomery has had experience working with low-income students during her tenure at two schools in White Center (Health Sciences HS and Cascade Middle School), which is good news for JAMS.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Politically and logistically seem to be at odds for this particular issue, HIMSmom. The most workable logistical solutions are not politically feasible. Maybe you should write principal Montgomery and ask her? She may have meant spectrum/honors/alo, thinking rightly that she was not then addressing a crowd especially concerned with the APP delivery model. But I am certainly curious. And if so, I am aware of a lot of parents whose plans that would actually change(not, I don't think, that the district would care much).


Chris S. said...

North-end Mom, that's an impressive list, and I agree in general. However...
1)there is no need to assure continuity for former JA K-8 students because they have the option to stay at JA K-8.

2)Re-making JAMS as the sum of Eckstein and Hamilton seems like a steep order. What languages does Hale offer? In the long run JAMS should probably offer similar, but in the interim, you could get, say, a Japanese teacher, and have walk-to-Spanish at Hale. I know Summit students used to do this for science. That was before Hale was full, of course. Is it too complicated? Could you do a similar thing with advanced music? Just brainstorming here. Remember, no one is going to be getting the ideal for quite some time here.

I do think the planning principal should beware pleasing everyone and focus on doing the basics well. If you can recruit a great person to teach X, maybe X will become part of the JAMS program.

Chris S.

Anonymous said...

Cross posted with you, and pardon me for derailing. I would assume the conversation would mostly not be about advanced learning, and I am glad that planning is getting off the ground for so many different aspects of the school. That just seemed like a big bomb drop for one program in the school, but there are many possible explanations, and again, I'm sure it wasn't the focus last night. I do hope we hear from her soon, though i know she has many different constituencies. The teen health center sounds like a phenomenal idea.


Anonymous said...

I see your points. I don't think long-term that JAMS will be expected to offer 3-4 World Languages, but there is the concern of meeting the needs of kids who have taken first year language, with the intention of completing second year in middle school, so to count for HS credit. Those kids should be accommodated.

One of the more frustrating things is that the various mergers leave very little room for the prospective JAMS parents to have a say in what they want for their child's middle school experience. I don't think we necessarily want to be an Eckstein or Hamilton clone. We would like to have the opportunity to develop our own school identity.

There is also the added complexity of meshing with Nathan Hale's curriculum and approach, which is inclusive, and does not involve tracking.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

This is turning into another Obamacare. "We have to pass this legislation so that we can find out what's in it".


Anonymous said...

We invited Principal Montgomery to visit John Rogers, for our Nov PTA meeting, several months ago. As the Jane Addams building is located within the John Rogers attendance area, we felt there was a pretty solid chance that our kids would be assigned to JAMS, no matter where the rest of the feeder pattern fell, and our parents were anxious to meet her.

I'm sure she would be happy to discuss AL with JAMS with your parent group.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

@Northend Mom -perhaps what you mean is that Hale does not use labels for students? High School by its very nature is tracked. You cannot simply assign students to AP Calculus who have not first completed pre Calc. The same is true for other subject areas. Many high school students take courses that will provide them with the rigor necessary to be successful in college or other post high school endeavors. High school is a "tracked" experience.


Anonymous said...

Sure, call it no labels. From what I understand, the Coalition of Essential Schools model is inclusive, and does not segregate students into self-contained classes.

I'm not there yet (not a HS parent), but that is what I have been told by parents from Hale.

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well and there's a mystery in SPS. How is it that one school is in a national coalition of schools? I was a Hale parent and that was never explained.

Hale does inclusive classes (but still have AP which is open to all) but that was a bit of a fight because it was kind of a unilateral decision given to parents.

Anonymous said...

A longish follow-up from my post yesterday.

HIMS APP needs to be aware that blended learning isn't just a JAMS discussion. It is probably a HIMS discussion for next year too.

When students leave, the $$ for teachers leave too. You will need to check with your principal, but I imagine there will be more blended advanced learning classes rather than self-contained APP classes next year, as the school tries to juggle staffing.

I expect this will be the same situation on the SPED side of special learners too, in regards to those children who need more access to general education than self-contained situations, yet more support than simply time in a resource room. One classroom - lots of blended learning styles. (And let's not forget our ELL population, our kids who need social supports, and -- always -- our general ed kids who easily fall through the cracks as we worry those with extra needs.)

Now more than ever we need teachers enthusiastic about and capable of the myriad needs in a class.

No, I do not think the District is providing enough training opportunities for this to happen. Not even close. The teachers I observe tackling the incredible challenge are either taking large chunks of their personal time to look for more tools to meet each child where he/she is, or is being given opportunities to do so via a site-based principal who brings in PD or pushes cross-functional teacher "learning communities."

For all parents pushing for the Board or District aka downtown HQ to "do something" about the situation, my best advice is put your efforts at a more local level. Push for the best collaborative and supportive (to students, staff and parents) principal you can find. A principal ultimately will impact your kid's school experience more than any single teacher or program.

Look for ways to support your school's teachers - tutoring, sharing new education ideas you run across, rallying a PTA to pay for funds for special summer workshops for staff, providing potluck dinners for teachers choosing to work late into the night on sight, etc.

After tonight the map for next year will be finished, and parents everywhere will be both exhausted and bitter. And frankly, I think the same feeling will exist at the school, downtown and board levels.

But after a needed Thanksgiving break, lets dust ourselves off and recommit to helping not just our own students...but the full community of students wherever we working with school staff to reach all of our learners.

Ed Voter

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous WTF

Why you drag Obamacare in here? Don't you care about the kids?

Anonymous said...

Hale offers French, Spanish and Japanese. Anyone can take AP classes but they do have to have the prerequisites such as pre-Calc before Calc. Anyone can make their regular class into an Honors class. Most teachers ask the kids if they want to do Honors or not and the teachers give them a list of what is required for Honors. All juniors take AP Language Arts but not all take the AP test.


Anonymous said...

North-end Mom--
I share your concerns about the breadth of needs JAMS will need to meet, particularly if there can (and there should be) any guarantees that current 6th and 7th graders transferring in will not lose access to programs/classes they have already been in for one or two years, all within the same school system.

I have also met and was impressed by Principal Montgomery. However, no matter how competent, how can anyone be expected to pull off meeting so many disparate needs, particularly with only 9 months left until doors open??

Yes...there will always be some needs sacrificed during a period of transition. However, this group of incoming 7th and 8th grade Eckstein and Hamilton APP students are being asked to make more than their share of sacrifices...loss of peer groups, loss of teachers (i.e. music at Eckstein) that they have formed closed relationships with, potential loss of programmatic continutity (languages, band, Spectrum), loss of access to existing resource (where is the money for a large FRL group who had free access to a large musical instrument loaner pool at Eckstein?)


Anonymous said...

particularly if there can (and there should be) any guarantees that current 6th and 7th graders transferring in will not lose access to programs/classes they have already been in for one or two years, all within the same school system.

You will note that although this is what the parents and students want, the district is making no such promises. It can't - at least not with a straight face.

Push for the best possible transition - yes. But count on it NO. History shows that you should prepare for the worst. Consider supplementation outside of school, a switch of home addresses or abandonment of a previous middle school program track NOW.

Seen It

Anonymous said...

Whine whine whine and whine.

Listen up. Get in there, roll your sleeves up and do something instead of complain. My end of town we've had to build programs from scratch for years.

Don't look at SPS to do it for you. Ain't gonna happen. The lease is up on your leased Acura. You will now be making due with a Civic. You will get competent baseline education. You want the upgrades you had? The car is no longer available, sorry. You can have the Civic or nothing. If you take it upon yourselves to find an Acura and figure out an affordable and timely way to lease it, good for you and your neighbors. But it won't be handed to you. Not fair? So what? Doesn't change the fact that the Acura has been repossessed.

Get moving.


Anonymous said...

Kellie, Meg & All,
Thank you for your continued support & voices. It was actually in 2006 that our kids' school went through the 1st rounds of closings. Can you imagine being told for the very 1st time at a School Board meeting that "your K-5 school is being moved, and oh by the way it will be morphed into a K-21 next year”!!

My youngest was in 2nd grade, and now he's in 11th. I guess things haven’t changed…For all the years families have put into these issues, we move things only inches. But each inch is worth it as it directly impacts many student's lives each year.

My main takeaway- promises from the district are like puffs of wind, and unfortunately will not hold even year to year. Do not count on any promises, however solid they seem. Sorry, but it has been the case at least since 2006.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your efforts to bring a bit a sanity back to this process. You distilled the entire package so well and highlighted what really needs to be asked. Indeed what problem are they trying to solve and take care that the proposed solution does no harm.I do hope that at least four Board Members read what you wrote and take heed.


Anonymous said...

@ MC
I concur. I hope the Board takes the time to read past the subject line on Kellie's email.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Is there a feel or knowledge if Amendment 4 will pass?

If the Intermediate Capacity Management plan passes and Amendment 4 fails then NE APP kids will be heading to Eckstein not JAMS. (Thank you Mr. Wolf for clearing that up for me.)

And not positive…but, it reads like kids will only be pulled out of Eckstein and reassigned to JAMS or Hamilton if amendment 4 passes. The staff proposal says assign vs. reassign. Only Amendment 4 talks about reassigning kids that live within the new JAMS boundary.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is so well done. We've turned into a district where everyone wants their student's specific and exact needs met in exactly they way they want them to be met. Ack. In light of this, I think #4 is especially important to keep in mind:

"4. Program placement is important but special education comes first. It is imperative that special education gets first placement with new capacity. While it would be nice to have advanced learning closer to home for many students, this must come after general education seats.. "


HIMS mom

SB said...

I talked to someone in the SPS planning department who said the elementary boundary changes in NE Seattle won't take effect for several years, once the new schools are built. Everyone I've spoken with thought the changes started next year, even SPS staff

kellie said...

Thank you everyone for all the positive comments.

@ Lori, that is what actual inspired my note, I am having trouble trying to follow the real immediate capacity problems vs the plans.

@ HIMSmom, as another HIMSmom myself, I am painfully aware of how badly north end middle school needs to be solved for 2014. I am crazy-frustrated that the already complex process of getting middle school right has been over-burdened with needlessly complex plans.

There are some very serious capacity problems that need to get real attention. These problems have been overlooked. I expect that we will emerge with "some" north end middle school plan tonight. Even if it is a bad plan, there needs to be a plan so that all the principals can get to work.

kellie said...

@ Test them,

This plan is now complicated enough, that I don't know if I would pass the test. I am a specialist in capacity management. I know my field and I really understand the underlying drivers of the problem. And I am having trouble tracking all of the pieced, particularly all the amendment revisions.

Typically amendments are intended for small changes to highlight unintended gaps that occur in the implementation of broader policies, like the Sherry Carr amendment that addresses the the few blocks of Cowen Park. The size and scope of these amendments are truly parliamentary process in their nature.

kellie said...

@ Seen it,

I agree with your completely! Push for the best, plan for the worst. Great way to thing about this process.

kellie said...

@ Westie,

Thank you! I was at all of those closure rounds 04-05, 06-07 and 08-09. During that time, I testified that the demographics were growing. It was such a painful process and that is why I hang in there but only on this one topic.

kellie said...

@ SB

That is partially correct. Presuming that something passes, the elementary school boundaries changes for JSIS, McDonald and Greenlake will change for next year.

Area 208, University Park, south of Ravenna will also be assigned to Laurelhust starting next year, but the other two areas scheduled to go to Laurelhust will not go just yet.

Finally, while the elementary boundaries may or may not be implemented in 2014. The "future" boundaries are what will determine the feeder patterns for the 2014 middle school boundaries and implementation of the various splits.

This is a big deal for schools like Olympic View where the future boundary is very different from the current boundary. This could also be an issue around Wedgwood. There are future changes for the elementary boundary that will create gaps in the middle school boundary.

Anonymous said...

It appears that Principal Montgomery is leaning towards an inclusive "one school" approach to advanced learning, where students are placed according to aptitude, and not labels.

Huh? Spectrum and APP designations are based on aptitude testing. You still need to have objective standards and cutoffs for how students are placed (and I would argue MAP scores alone are insufficient). As far as what's on JAMS plate, how is it any more than HIMS needs to handle? GenEd, Spectrum, APP, language immersion, SpEd - all in one school. A principal's job is to serve the students/programs assigned to the school.