Thursday, November 21, 2013

Seattle Schools Growth Boundaries; Faces from the Fight






25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Melissa - thank you very much for your live updates during the school board meeting last night. I really appreciate it.

Jane

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Melissa, I second Jane, thank YOU.
How sad it is to see the hopeful faces of these students who went to the Board Meeting, waited to be heard for hours instead of doing their homework at home in the belief that they will be listened to.
- Really sad

Anonymous said...

The only concern I heard for the neighborhood kids involved in the north middle school debacle was from HMM, who said that there must be "equity," in that if we are going geo-split the kids from Eckstein, we have to do the same for the kids at Hamilton.

That is their take on "equity."

There was much concern about the needs of this option program and that option program, there was some concern expressed for the APP kids, but the neighborhood kids? Not so much. It's as if our kids are widgets. Filler for whatever program they wish to stick in a building...unless you live in Wedgwood, of course.

- done w/sps





Anonymous said...

Incredible job, Melissa! This is your magnum opus. If anyone tells you you are not a journalist, you'll hear me laughing at them all the way across town!

Chris S.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@anonymous
If you don't want your comments removed, you must sign them (blog rules).

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

As I tell my kids, just because you don't get what you want doesn't mean you weren't heard.

I was actually annoyed that KSB was asking about the future 8th grade APP students and couldn't they be grandfathered because they will have so many transitions - well, guess what? Some of the future 7th grade students will have gone through the same number of transitions. Current APP 6th graders that started APP in 1st grade also went through the first split and then the last minute move to Lincoln. Some of them also wish to be part of a high level band - one that wouldn't exist without a big enough cohort of 8th graders. Some of them will also need access to higher level math - classes that may not exist without a big enough cohort of APP 8th graders.

I actually thought HMM had a valid point. Why should just one class of students, just one portion of a program, get special treatment?

I will be glad when we can stop the whining and move on.

-unnamed parent

Libby said...

Thanks for the excellent coverage, Melissa. This blog is such a valuable resource to those of us in the SPS community and beyond.

Anonymous, comments are removed if they don't include a signature of some sort. It has nothing to do with your sentiment.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Melissa. Great coverage. And thank you for posting some pictures. Photos really add to the story and reminds us all these are real kids. I loved seeing that blond kid with the HIMS sign...I thought that all APP kids had crowns and dollar bills hanging out of their pockets. But he seemed like a nice kid who just wanted to stay at his school and keep playing in his band, taking his foreign language, continuing with his friends on the ultimate frisbee team. Imagine that! Post more pics please.

-They're kids

kellie said...

I can truly say, that was the most painful meeting I have ever sat through and I sat through all three round of school closure meetings.

Anonymous said...

@they're kids. Don't overdo it. Gets a bit obvious

subtle

Anonymous said...

Because my kid and community is affected I watched from home last night soup to nuts and boy were there a lot of nuts. I posted under a couple of the other meeting threads. Here is the longish summary of impressions. It is less about specific votes than the way the meeting went down. After braving the full show, the emphasis is on down as in thumbs down.

From the way Smith-Blum and DeBell acted last night, strike them both from the holiday party list and please never invite them to the same party again. In the most important meeting of the past few years, they were more focused on throwing middle school digs at each other than addressing the problems at hand.

DeBell was the bitter old professor. If looks and words could kill, our board would be down a few bodies this a.m. He downright growled a few times as he lashed out at Smith Blum. And Peaslee. Staff seemed respectful toward him, more than Smith Blum, but I'm not sure why. He kept lecturing about topics - language immersion, special education - that must be fixed, without providing guidance as to how to do it.

The end of the night was weird with Smith Blum giddily employing everyone to really, really, really vote for her on a Madrona amendment. Like some 12th grade prom contest. The nicest words staff could drum up for her goodbye is that she was never dull and meetings with her were 'fun'. Talk about damning with faint praise. It looks like they are glad to see her walk. It was just one term for her, right?

Too bad Martin-Morris isn't going off the board with the two of them. He was outrageously rude to a couple of his board members and downright sullen toward any opinion he disagreed with. His big contribution of the night was a quote to the effect of 'how will this look at the national level?' Who the hell cares! He needs to go burnish his resume on some other government dime. He also called out an amendment of Smith Blum's as 'unethical'. That was strikingly poor board manners. Where was his leadership on Northeast issues? If it was there, it wasn't apparent from the meeting.

...continued

Furious Viewer

Anonymous said...

...continued

Carr was the best of the lot last night. She toed a fine line between DeBell/Morris and the rest of them, calmly citing data and community outreach in her votes. She has been a bit of a cold fish number cruncher with numbers that don't make sense in the first place in past meetings I've seen. She seemed to balance that with community input last night. She was the only one of the seven who consistently acted with the gravity and knowledge I wish the whole board had.

Peaslee apparently is a crusader for her ideas even when they are whacked. DeBell who appeared annoyed by her, gave her a backhanded compliment to that point. I am glad Pinehurst and Indian Heritage will continue. But the body language of staff as Peaslee explained her bunch of last minute amendments made it look like they'd rather get a root canal than deal with her. Ditto Banda. How will she get anything done if she alienates the staff?

And on the Pinehurst/Native front: the expressions and very careful wording of superintendent and staff showed they are not at all on board with keeping these schools open. I am guessing that every capacity issue in the next year will be blamed on the decision to keep those programs going. Which will be a bunch of hooey.

McLaren seemed in another world for most of the meeting. Was she awake? I get the feeling that West Seattle is still a mess and that enrollment will be back on the table again next year, worse than ever.

Patu confounded everyone because she either did not or cannot follow the details and protocol of the meeting format. Then again, she stopped the District from doing damage in the south end, so guessing most will forgive her meeting roughness.

Where was Banda in all this? Avoiding saying anything, from what I could see.

The net result is a few groups of students are getting seriously screwed next year. There is no putting a happy face on the fact that some 7th graders will be ripped out of established schools and sent off for one year to JAMS. I think JAMS will turn out OK in the end, but next year looks to be messy. Worse will be the update of all the boundary lines again next year. Board and staff kept saying it is coming.

In summary: Last night it was clear that parents and staff had worked their butts off, but to what point? So much of this district at the top seems rudderless. So much of the programming and planning seems absent or ill-advised.

I'm going to start shopping for alternatives.

Furious Viewer

Anonymous said...

Unnamed parent,

You probably shouldn't wish for either eckstein music teacher to be moved to JAMS then, because they both believe in keeping 6th graders together for band or orchestra and reserving ability grouping for older kids. If your child is that serious about music, you should try Seattle Youth Symphony where your child can audition for much higher levels of music education than any SPS middle school has available.

As for math, a higher level of the district's math curriculum is no better than the lower levels. Be prepared to learn more about the marketing strategies for TI calculators than you learn about factoring equations unless you are teaching math at home.

I hope in the end you find it adds enough to your child's 6th grade experience to make it worth the sacrifice for the older kids.

-hs mom

Anonymous said...

Speaking of weirdness at last night's meeting, did anyone notice that Pinehurst is now headed to the Wilson Pacific campus as per Peaslee's amendment? Same place I've heard mentioned for

1. an all APP grade school
2. a neighborhood grade school
3. an APP middle school
4. a neighborhood middle school
5. historic designation of current buildings (the mural)
6. home of cascade partnership
7. home of expanded Indian Heritage program
8. and now home of Pinehurst

Let the multi-year jockeying begin, apparently, because all these (well-deserving communities) would more than fill that property.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

@ Furious Viewer

I don't disagree. Personalities matter as much as politics and planning.

Veteran

Anonymous said...

hs parent-

Our child is a current MS student that is getting split from classmates and moved, just like many others. Obviously our child is not thrilled, and we know it's going to be far from lollipops and rainbows, but we're just going to soldier on as usual and make the best of it. I'm just tired of the whining.

I know the district math texts are inadequate, and Hamilton uses the CMP/Discovery texts as well, unless a teacher goes to the effort to supplement with their own materials, but perhaps you know that.

-unnamed

Anonymous said...

Thank you Melissa for your dedication. We are very grateful. I am so very glad that AS1Pinehurst and Indian Heritage did not get killed, at least not this year. My children went to EEU with many of the children in AS1 now, who did not fit anywhere else as well.

As for the rest, sigh. There was never going to be a solution that does not pain some groups. There are just not enough seats, and this is just a bandaid. We need to all write to the legislature and advocate for funding. We have to ask the City Council for a city income tax to pay for new schools. In a couple of years, when the current 3 graders and younger move up, it will be even worse, the cohort population doubled that year. There are no seats for those kids, even with WP & JAMS online. We need to look ahead for solutions now. Or all the rending and infighting will be repeated.

Does anyone know what the big building on N 41st a few blocks west of Hamilton is? Is there any way to buy University Heights and MLK back? We need to find suitable buildings now and find money to purchase or rent them. Anyone know of any?

CCA

Anonymous said...

Oops, big building on N 42nd

I asked this before, got crickets. Does anyone want to consider 2 shifts at the most crowded schools?

CCA

Anonymous said...

What happened to the World School? And the kids in JvA's neighborhood who were getting sent to the 8th closest school? And Beacon Hill International?

CCA

mirmac1 said...

CCA,

My kid was at EEU too! Class of '05 :)

kellie says because theoretically there are enough seats. Just not in the right place, I guess. I've been meaning to pin down Asst Supt Herndon on that question.

joanna said...


I printed an agenda at around 3:00 PM and this change was not on it. Since I had printed my own and was locked out, I did not see where it was until well after the public testimony when the room cleared, and I could actually see the table where the agendas were.

Even Melissa went home before the vote and you and anyone interested in the discussion will have to watch the tape on the Seattle Channel.

Kay's amendment was moved from the Growth Boundaries area to the Intermediate Capacity Planning... portion of the agenda and was the very last one to be approved unanimously after 11:00 PM. It moved all A(A has been going to Madrona anyway),C, and D to Madrona. The only clarification was that siblings are not grandfathered and as is the usual practice would have preference on a wait list.
Amendment 5/(it had been 3 on Growth Boundaries) (Dir. Smith-Blum) – Approval of this item would amend the
Intermediate Capacity Management Plan Growth Boundaries for Student Assignment regarding central district elementary assignments

Anonymous said...

CCA, take a look at MLK agreement with the district. Guess who vetted that bid process? Given it was purchased with taxpayers' money, you think there's leverage. But remember who is our general counsel, Ron English. Hence, crickets...

sigh

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Because my kid and community is affected I watched from home last night soup to nuts and boy were there a lot of nuts."

Thank you for the laugh of the day.

Furious, I may use your assessments in my last analysis of this issue. (But please cut McLaren some slack;she is dealing with an illness.)

EdVoter, yes, what is Wilson-Pacific going to hold at the end of all this? Peaslee seems to think there may be vast amounts of room but I'm thinking not so much.

CCA, your question is all about money. If it got to the point of split day classes, I would suspect the district could beg the state for state capital dollars to buy back MLK,Jr. building. I don't think U. Heights is a possibility. As I said elsewhere, I suspect they are going to need some big dollars to get Lincoln ramped up to be a high school (someday).

I did get another laugh when I listened to KUOW's wrap-up. Reporter Ann Dornfeld mentioned that they STILL had to do the high school boundaries someday and that all this work from the district is keeping her employed.

(When they DO reopen Lincoln, one thing is that there are large numbers of alums who I know will really pitch in to help recreate this school for the kids. Whoever goes there will have people at their backs to help them.)