Sunday, November 10, 2013

Slow the Train? Have a One-Year Plan? Full Speed Ahead?

As I wrote for the Seattle Schools This Week thread:

FINAL Work Session: Growth Boundaries - Wednesday, November 13th,  5:30-7:30 pm This is big because it will most likely be the first viewing of Director amendments to the plan and the discussion around it.  If you can only attend one meeting, this one is it.  The agenda has no presentation attached (and I doubt it will until Wednesday but I will put it up as it becomes available.)

What do you think the Board should be focusing on during this Work Session? 
Specifically what do you think must be done for 2014?  (For example, open JAMS to provide relief to Eckstein and Hamilton.)  What would be your top three items?
Is there anything that should not be done for 2014?  (As Director Patu has said, leave the SE boundaries alone for now since they don't have an overcapacity problem at this point.)
Should they keep working on this 2020 plan?  If yes, why.   
If not, why not?
I urge you to write to the Board with these thoughts.  PLEASE, if you write to the Board or the district, put your subject in the subject line.


apparent said...

“What Must be Done for 2014?” Top 3 Items: JM = north APP MS + ?, Expand ALL Attendance Area Boundaries, JAMS = JAMS + JA K-8 interim until 2016

1. John Marshall Middle School (952ms/852k8) must be reopened in Fall 2014, preferably as a fully comprehensive middle school, including moving all north Seattle APP MS (currently about 550 students) intact from Hamilton Middle School. Cohouse north APP MS at John Marshall either long-term with another smaller option program(s) (e.g., Pinehurst K-8), or else cohouse north APP MS at John Marshall short/long-term with attendance area schools needing interim space.

2. When boundary lines are redrawn for 2014 or later with north APP MS cohoused in John Marshall Middle School, larger attendance area boundaries must be drawn around Eckstein, Hamilton and Whitman middle schools (i.e., revise Version 3), and also around the new Jane Addams Middle School (i.e., revise Version 2). These lines must not reflect any future north Seattle APP MS pathways in any of those buildings, all of which already require more neighborhood attendance area seats.

3. When boundary lines are redrawn for 2014 and later, keep all north Seattle APP MS intact long-term at John Marshall Middle School; or in the alternative draw a smaller attendance area boundary around the new Wilson-Pacific Middle School, but only if it is is already determined that north APP MS will move intact from John Marshall Middle School as soon as Wilson-Pacific opens in 2017.

“Is there Anything that should Not be Done for 2014?” No APP splits, south ES or north MS

4. Do not make a mess of all Seattle neighborhood attendance area boundaries by splitting north APP MS or south APP ES without supporting advanced learning task force recommendations. So that north Seattle APP MS can move intact into John Marshall Middle School, return to the original SPS-recommended option (Version 1) that Jane Addams K-8 will stay put until its new building opens on the Pinehurst site in 2016, cohousing with Jane Addams Middle School by using portables, without 1/3 north Seattle APP MS students who will be routed to John Marshall.

“Should they Keep Working on this 2020 Plan?” Why or Why Not? Maybe . . . .

5. They should only keep working on this 2020 Growth Boundaries Plan if Superintendent Banda and the SPS board now place north Seattle APP MS intact into John Marshall Middle School for Fall 2014. Then those released seats (at Eckstein, Whitman, Hamilton, or Jane Addams middle schools) will be immediately available for attendance area students and other programs. In the alternative, this chaotic process should stop now because the changes currently recommended in Version 3 (and Version 2) will cause havoc but will not hold. The “do-nothing option” is much preferable to splitting south APP ES and north APP ms and freezing bad boundary lines throughout the city now.

Anonymous said...

How does this sound as a crazy amendment like compromise?

What about they keep the feeder patterns that they set up but that they draw geo-zones around the middle schools.

So that I5 and 85th is a Geo Zone for JAMS and I5 and the ship canal is a Geo Zone for Eckstein. This way they could still send enough feeder schools to JAMS but folks that are close to Eckstein can get in on the Geo Zone tie breaker.

- north seattle mom

Anita Miracle said...

► What do I think must be done for 2014? A: By 2016 SPS needs to have in place*:
. □ Better policies for determining a) who qualifies for advanced learning programs (including periodic qualification assessment of existing students) and b) how those programs are instituted,
. □ Better projections regarding future enrollment, informed by expert demographic analysis,
. □ Aggressive plans to acquire (beg, borrow, or steal) new property for the district and reclaim leased property (e.g., Lake City Professional Bldg.),
. □ The BEX IV buildings planned for 2016 actually built.

► With that as my wishlist for 2016, my top three items for 2014 (for N, NW and NE) are:
. □ Repurpose Memorial Field, using portables, as a temporary site for the APP program currently at Lincoln.
. □ Using John Marshall and Lincoln as interim middle school space along with the existing Eckstein, Hamilton and Whitman schools, assign/reassign 6-8 students based on geography (e.g. say, North of 75th, East of I-5 goes to Eckstein) rather than feeder patterns. This will be a temporary set up for the next two years.
. □ Carve out interim space, if possible, for the APP Middle School, Indian Heritage, and Pinehurst K-8 programs at J. Marshall, Hamilton, and Lincoln. If there's not enough interim space for all 3 of these programs, put up more portables at Memorial Stadium and use that site as an APP K-8.

► Is there anything that should not be done for 2014? Yes, we should hold off on
. □ Making boundaries for JAMS and Wil-Pac until at least the new E-STEM K-8 building at the Pinehurst site is ready for that programs and the Jane Addams building is free for JAMS
. □ Making any decisions regarding feeder patterns or the lack thereof.

► Should they keep working on this 2020 plan? NO!

► Why not? SPS leadership, as outlined above, needs to a) come up with solid plans to get more land and buildings, b) get a better handle on enrollment projections, and c) reengineer APP before it makes longer terms plans. Otherwise we'll just continue this routine of constantly putting out fires. With gasoline.

Jon said...

At this point, I think the entire boundary plan process is so messed up, so full of politics-driven want-to-haves instead of need-to-haves, that they should go back to a minimal plan.

A minimal boundary plan should only contain things that can answer the following question with a strong yes: "Will this change definitely improve academic outcomes for children affected in 2014-2015?"

That should limit changes to dealing with severe overcrowding that will occur in the 2014-2015 year and nothing else.

Lynn said...

Anita Miracle,

Did you really just suggest that we:

Repurpose Memorial Field, using portables, as a temporary site for the APP program currently at Lincoln?

Here's some data for you:

Expected 6-8 north end enrollment for 2014-15: 4,422.
Capacity of Eckstein, JAMS, Hamilton and Whitman: 4,247.
6-8 anticipated enrollment at JA K-8: in excess of 300.

And you think we should move a bunch of elementary students to a portable farm at Memorial Stadium. I'm not convinced that's necessary. Could you explain your reasoning? My numbers above do not take into account the 225 or so new seats available at Lincoln next fall.

Anita Miracle said...

Yes Lynn, I did suggest that we repurpose Memorial Field, using portables, as a temporary site for the APP program currently at Lincoln. My rationale is two-fold:

. 1) Create enough interim space north of the ship canal to accommodate the surge of gen-ed and special needs students at all grade levels in the neighborhoods from [N, NE, NW] 145th St down to Lake Union and its canals. The north end will need interim sites until at least the BEX building and renovation is done, and probably until the district, city and/or state comes up with some more buildings for SPS in the north end (and no doubt elsewhere).

. 2) Remove APP from the north end at least until SPS leadership comes up with better criteria and assessment policies for the APP program. APP should be there for the learners who truly need a special program. But neighborhood assignment and option schools need to accommodate the majority of advanced learners as part of their programs.

Your data suggest a shortage of about 500 6-8 seats in the north end for 2014-15. While even that number means overcrowding somewhere, please know those projections were made with incomplete analysis of demographics and development and are probably low. Also capacity needs to take into account classrooms not seats as some special-needs groups take up fewer seats per classroom.

I don't like the idea of moving elementary students. But I'd prefer to move the relatively privileged kids who populate APP North to the Seattle Center than move the at-risk ELL, FRL and/or SpecialEd elementary kids to John Marshall.

Would moving APP 6-8 to a portable farm at Memorial Stadium and leaving APP 1-5 at Lincoln create a similar amount of interim space such that
. a) An interim middle school program could be established for the entire north end by assigning students in this interim period to Whitman, Hamilton, John Marshall and Eckstein;
. b) There's room at Lincoln or another school for the Indian Heritage and Pinehurst K-8 programs; and
. c) There is minimal disruption to all the K-5 and K-8 schools in the north end?

If so I'd support that over what I proposed earlier. I'd rather not see any elementary students moved.


Anita Miracle said...

Clarification to paragraph 5 above:

I don't like the idea of moving elementary students. But I'd prefer to move the relatively privileged kids who populate APP North to the Seattle Center than move the at-risk (ELL, FRL and/or SpecialEd) elementary kids who populate Jane Addams K-8to John Marshall.

Lynn said...


4,247 plus 300 is 4,547. That is not 500 less than 4,422. Yes, middle schools in the north end will remain crowded until Wilson-Pacific is available.

I'll be really surprised if you find many people who join you in advocating for moving north end students to a portable farm at Memorial Stadium. What if the board agrees - but chooses your children rather than the privileged kids in APP?

You're certainly thinking outside of the box.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Laurelhurst takes priority over the walkable Wedgwood Elementary community at Eckstein? Or why any bus transported kid would take priority over a walking kid.

Also isn't it SPS policy to keep elementary cohorts together into middle school?

Walk the Walk

Anita Miracle said...

I misunderstood your figures and came to a projected shortfall of 500ish as follows:
= 4,422 [Expected 6-8 north end enrollment for 2014-15]
plus 300+ [6-8 anticipated enrollment at JA K-8]
= 4,722+
- 4,247 [Capacity of Eckstein, JAMS, Hamilton and Whitman: 4,247]
= 475+ (which I rounded to "about 500")

It sounds like you wanted me to subtract the JA K-8 Middle School impossible to show that we don't need to displace APP @ Lincoln to have enough room for the entire north end middle school population. I remain skeptical of the district's projects for the reasons stated in my second post on this thread.

In any case, I have revised my recommendation to the board such that it's the APP North Middle School Population that is moved south of the canal rather than the elementary APP who I'd keep at Lincoln. Your post helped me realize that this was a more equitable approach. Note: the move doesn't have to be Memorial Stadium, though I'm not sure there's other space available. I picked it because it's close, easily accessible by transit, and there's room for many portables there.

Thank you,

Anita Miracle said...

Hey Walk the Walk,
I believe it is current SPS policy to keep elementary cohorts together into middle school, but I don't think it's good policy. I think assignments to middle school should be made according to geography, especially during the interim approach I'm proposing in which 6-8 graders on the south end of NE would go to John Marshall or Hamilton instead of Eckstein. After WP and the E-STEM K-8 are built (finally making room for JAMS) then SENE might be reassigned to Eckstein.