Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Seattle School Board Meeting Tonight

In advance of the Board meeting, I wanted to point out a couple of things, some of which Charlie and I have pointed out in the past.

One, just to let you know, the speaker list is NOT full so you can call up and still get on. 

Two, staff has a bad habit of waiting until the very last minute - particularly on Intro items on capital issues - to fill in the blanks.  They like to leave "placeholder" notations.  That might be okay on Friday but not on the day of the meeting.  This is a public entity and the public has a right to know what the budget is and who is doing the work within 48 hours of a Board meeting.  This "last minute" fill-in stuff is a disservice to the Board for their oversight work and to the public.  

Three, continuing on putting items with blanks on the agenda, I note that while JSIS's request for approval for their funding of IAs seems to be complete, the one from McDonald does not.  The wording of the document:

PLEASE NOTE:
A signed “Request for Advance Commitment to Expend” form must be received by G&FC
before approval can be given. Only the principal/program manager can make/sign this request.
Included on this form is the school’s commitment of how the expense will be covered if funding should not materialize or the agreement is rescinded by the funder after a position has been staffed or an expense has been incurred.  Forms without this information will not be approved. (emphasis theirs)


As I pointed out to the Board, why make a rule if you are not to follow it? McDonald's form needs their principal's signature on it to be approved tonight.  Otherwise, the Board should vote no. 

What is quite the surprise is to see the Wilson-Pacific item amended.  Well, not that it was amended but that staff seems to be changing the history of this project's budget. 

Here's one of the major changes to the W-P BAR:

To reiterate, this does not change the project budget. Escalation was always assumed and
included in the project budget and the shifting of funds occurs completely within the
project budget.


In my wrap-up of the Board meeting two weeks ago, I pointed out an exchange between Director Carr and Eric Becker of capital projects.  There was an escalation in the architect's fees and she wanted to understand the issue. 

Director Carr carefully talked Eric Becker through this issue.  He said that the change to this contract was "solely related to budgeted escalation." 

So far so good but then he said "the previous contract was negotiated with no escalation."  Director Carr said, "I get that but my question is was it assumptions or is it absolutely no escalation?"

Mr Becker said it was not having escalation and then having it. 

Director Carr pressed him, "We won't see this repeated?" and he said, "It's fair to assume it's one time unless we have 'odd events.'"  She asked why the escalation was NOT there to begin with and he said he wasn't here when the budget was negotiated.

And yet now, the W-P item says that escalation "was always assume and included."  I know what Director Carr said and I took careful note during the exchange.

I wrote to the Board and urged them to correct this error.  Rewriting of district history should not be allowed.  Ever.  

(And I don't want to hear any tortured explanation about me not understand.  I've seen this before and so I know exactly what it looks like.  It looks like someone either doing CYA or trying to rewrite district history.  Either way, no.)

15 comments:

robyn said...

Melissa,

Can you comment on this language in the WP attachment? My understanding is this is not true. Does it matter? Is it worth pointing out to anyone?

X. TIMELINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION / COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
The Wilson Pacific Elementary and Middle School’s new designs have been developed in conjunction with teachers, staff, administrators, parents, community members, and other stakeholders. The Wilson Pacific School’s Project will support the District’s current educational goals as well as providing flexibility and parity.

robyn said...

Sorry, and to tack onto my question, does the above language mean there is no community engagement timeline since "the designs have been developed with teachers, staff, administrators, parents, stakeholders, etc?

mirmac1 said...

Here is the site recording the design and community engagement process:

School Design Advisory Team

Community events

Anonymous said...

That attachment about WP is completely NOT true.

ASK BOARD TO ASK STAFF FOR NAMES of who was engaged and what they said - call out the truth.

Every engagement community I have heard of has been against most or all of the changes as absurd -

I don't think AS # 1 has been consulted either - not sure how much they could really want to be 1 K class and 1 1st grade, etc up on the 3rd floor of an 850 person MS - they have to wish for something better, such as the Decatur building when that project's done or the Nordic Heritage museum or something. Don't know, but I'd be floored if they'd been asked and I'm 100% confident no one else was engaged or if they were they were entirely against what they saw - that's how the no lockers/no auditorium/atrocious parking and bus lanes stuff has been uncovered.

Signed: insider

Anonymous said...

By WP attachment being an exaggeration, by the way, I mean the X. Timeline not Mirmac ... .

Signed Insider

Melissa Westbrook said...

Robyn, it means whatever staff wants it to mean.
It would be great if Pinehurst spoke up but I think they feel lucky to have dodged a bullet.

All we can say - and should say, out loud and over and over - is that Wilson-Pacific is not going to turn out well. Regrets won't be enough.

robyn said...

I am trying to get the message out about WilPac. Does anyone remember the bumper sticker "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention"? Well, that certainly holds true here.

I just posted this on my school's website:

I'd also like to point out that the Elementary where ALL APP K-5 kids will go is designed the SAME way as what I lay out below. So, even if you are not in WilPac MS zone, you should be concerned if you have younger kids in APP.

The lack of auditorium is a BIG concern. I'm not saying whether the K-8 should go there, but designing the building to include the k-8 creates HUGE problems. Lincoln HS using the fields is a big concern. Safety of kids getting on/off busses and dropped-off by parents is a HUGE concern due to wacky lay-out.

I apologize for not being able to make this more clear.

1. The building is shaped like an E. Apparently, this will create HUGE problems for kids getting to classes on time with only 5 minutes to spare. I hear the U shape of Hamilton is already an issue, but the E shape is much worse. Imagine going from the far end of the E on the 3rd floor to the opposite end of the building on the 1st floor at the same time as 850 other students are trying to maneuver through the E.

2. Originally, there was a science lab in each "wing" of the E. Each wing was a grade level (6, 7 or 8) so movement between these wings was minimized/non-existent. Designing the building with the K-8 inserted into two floors of one wing removed the segregation of grade levels in each wing. Now, only the middle wing of the E has science labs. The K-8 kids will be using them as well as the 6-8 comprehensive middle schoolers. Again, there are huge time and safety concerns related to the layout.

3. The outdoor areas between the wings are safety concerns since the prostitution/drug ring on Aurora is only 2 blocks away. There is concern that those areas will become "places of business" in the after school hours. There are no site lines from the street into these "coves".

4. As I said above, the lack of an auditorium is a big issue as well as the one gym for a k-8 and comp MS. The auditorium is an issue since there are not really any alternatives for performances like SPS wants us to believe. There won't be an ability to use the lunch room for all-school assemblies since the K-8 and MS kids need to eat! SPS is trying to minimize the impact on the community from Lincoln's use of the sports field, but it will be problematic.

5. I was told any good principals will look at the layout of the building (the E shape) and walk away from the offer to be principal at WPMS. Good principals will apparently know the nightmare of getting kids between classes safely and on time. They also will not want to deal with the scheduling nightmares associated with numerous schools and programs sharing the fields, science labs, common lunch area/performance zone, etc. etc.

6. The E shape limits the number of portables to 6! We will need those on day 1 (I think).

7. The k-8 is sharing a library with the comprehensive middle school. So, aside from scheduling issues, there is a concern that the comprehensive middle school will have "babyish" books, or the K-8 will have books inappropriate for elementary students.

I could go on and on with how INSANE this is, but I will see if any of this settles with you all before I post more.

robyn said...

Before anyone jumps down my throat about being anti-Pinehurst, that's not true at all. My opinion is we need to find a more suitable answer than stuffing a k-8 in a MS without much thought. I don't know where. If we got rid of the stupid "E" designs and built rectangles, could a thrid building be built on the same property? I've also heard Decatur mentioned.

I wrote this, too:

I have to also throw out there that the new designs with the K-8 built inside the "comprehensive middle school" allow Pinehurst ZERO growth room. So, all of our tax dollars are being used to build an INSANE building that allows a program good-enough-to-be-saved NO room to grow! So, then what? Best case scenario is PH becomes a more stable and desirable program due to no closure threats. Then they'll need to move to a bigger, more suitable building for a K-8. WPMS is left with an imbedded k-8 that ruined the design efficiency of a building meant to last 50-100 years?!?

Any taxpayer in Seattle should be outraged.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Robyn, to note, the BEX Oversight Ctm will be talking about the Wilson-Pacific design at their next meeting, on the 11th at 8:30 am at JSCEE. You cannot say anything at the meeting but it would be great to show up with a handout for members.

There should also be a call that if it's called "BEX Oversight" that they truly have oversight. They don't and they admit that much.

The Board doesn't.

So who has oversight of the design of our school buildings?

robyn said...

The crazy thing, Melissa, is that the architects were directed to re-design the WPMS to include the K-8. It can be placed there by the Board, but why on earth is a 50-100 year building being redesigned in such an odd way? SPS staff says it was directed to do so by the Board.

Thanks for the heads-up on the meeting. We are working on a flyer.

kellie said...

I have absolutely no clue what part of the plan provides "flexibility and parity."

At every Wilson Pacific design meeting I attended, the teachers, staff, administrators, parents and community members, all raised significant and substantial objections that were not addressed. They were typically dismissed as not in the budget or not in the ed spec.

Now, I have no issue being ignored in a meeting. I am used to the parent point of view being dismissed. But it was most surprising to me that when "guest principals" joined the meeting to give their feedback, that the feedback of other middle schools principals were just as easily ignored as the parents.

There are serious flaws with the Wilson Pacific plan. The Wilson Pacific project is the centerpiece of BEX IV with the largest project budget and the execution of this project has ripple effects on every single student in the north end. This project needs to be re-examined, not just marched forward blindly in the name of keeping-the-schedule.

Anonymous said...

Can we not daylight this to the media somehow?

Kp

Melissa Westbrook said...

KP, the media is not going to listen unless there is some real action. Meaning, a large group of parents doing something to get the district's attention.

The dialog at last night's Board meeting about W-P does not bode well for any kind of change. (I'll write a short separate thread but the Board seems very satisfied with the public engagement.)

Ragweed said...

Growth big concern for Pinehurst. We are projected to have full K + 1 classes next year (24 + 25, respectively) if you roll that enrollment up through the net three years, with not other growth, we go into 2017 with 180.

But Decatur would only work if there were serious transportation exceptions. There are 6 Native students in K5 in the Eckstein feeder schools (at least in the 2012 School Data Summary). The demographics with limited transportation would be a disaster.

Anonymous said...

@Ragweed
How many Native students live in other attendance areas (ie JAMS, Whitman, future Wilson-Pacific)?

- North-end Mom