There were some other key, important things said at both the School Board meeting last Wednesday and the Board retreat yesterday. I'll just group information under headings but note by M (for meeting) or R (for retreat) where I heard it.
To note, both of the Washington State Principals of the Year, for high school and K-8, came from Seattle Schools. Keven Wynkoop, principal at Ballard, and Keisha Scarlett, principal at South Shore, were the winners. Mr. Wynkoop is one of several of our high school principals who actually attended the high school he now leads.
Native American students (M)
President Peaslee noted that she wished that the Indian Heritage program would be revitalized especially in high school.
came in conjunction with the large contingent of Native American
parents, students and community members who were part of public
testimony. They said they wanted a program for high school and hoped it
could be at Chief Sealth where the largest numbers of their children
Special Education (R)
Michael Tolley said that this is a high priority for staff in his department.
Advanced Learning (R)
It was reported that the work is wrapping up and that the two taskforces are joining together to present a joint report of recommendations to the Board. He said that should be delivered to the Board by fall. (I note that this allows yet ANOTHER year to go by before anything is changed. On the other hand, it may give the Board time to write an actual policy before they do anything.)
Director Carr said she recently went on a tour of John Marshall and that it is looking great especially as an old building being refurbished.(M)
Director Carr seemed surprised that the costs at Wilson-Pacific had gone up - it's now at $116M. (M)
There was a lot of discussion, with legal counsel, about Wilson-Pacific possibly being landmarked by the City of Seattle. Legal counsel, Ron English, explained that the building could be torn down even if landmarked if the parts under question can be removed and then put back. He seemed to think that only the Native American murals are part of the landmarking but I noticed that not all in the audience were in agreement. He said he wasn't an expert on landmarking but that the district has the "best lawyer" in the city working on it. (How much is this costing for the district to fight this landmarking?)
Director Blanford asked about costs escalation because of a change in schedule if this landmarking comes through. This answer was yes, it could be a factor in costs. This will come up before the City on July 2nd.
(R) Flip Herndon said that he was looking at the SPS joint agreement with Parks. I think this is a serious signal that the district really wants to rethink how its facilities are used by other entities/groups.
Bell Times (R)
A very intensive plan was laid out for how to approach this topic.
What staff referenced was a method used in Montgomery County in Rockville, Maryland called Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N). The goal is to get a greater number of people participating than in just traditional district meetings. Groups (or a facilitator) can use a district "toolkit" and set up meetings on their own. (Yes, this does set off bells for me as who is documenting what is said?)
Here's a link to Montgomery County district's Bell Times page (with a 6-minute video on the issue).
It was an interesting presentation from Pegi McEvoy and Bernardo Ruiz. Ms McEvoy noted that Sec'y Duncan supports this idea. She then talked about getting input from other people than local "sleep experts." She said they could ask other communities with "different needs." She mentioned church groups and others.
Director Blanford said that it would be good to use groups other than PTAs because PTAs could be "biased one way or another." I would think it would be possible to any group to have a bias, one way or another.
Mr. Ruiz emphasized asking questions to a larger group like "how would your entire family be impacted by this change?" and "what activities will be negatively impacted?"
Director Carr seemed a little taken aback by the presentation as she thought it would have the entire plan laid out (and not just a framework).
They also said there may be unanticipated issues like child care providers, Special ed impacts, and labor negotiations. They also stated that "key known impacts" would be "decreased support for level 1 schools and decreased direct support for principals and executive directors." They said there would be outsourcing work needed that would require a project manager (15 months at about $280k) plus polling and analysis staff.
Staff also piled on saying it would impact 15 Strategic Plan initiatives, net workload for analysis for next 9 months at 6 full-time dedicated staff, 8 out of 9 departments expect an impact to their baseline operational work.
Staff also seems disappointed that they may not be able to hire someone to look for grant money outside of the region/state. If money is the issue - as it always is in our district - finding money would seem to be a good investment.
Charles Wright also mentioned enrollment issues for parents and that the bell times issue would make it difficult to address those.
Of course, when you see on the Priorities list under Operations these items listed at "low," you have to wonder:
- filling vacancy of Manager of Enrollment Planning
- filling vacancy of Demographer (I heard this was filled but this was what was presented just yesterday)
- filling vacancy of Director of Capital
Director Martin-Morris recently attended a
presentation of work by students at Thornton Creek. He said it quite
impressive and wished that other students would be able to share their
knowledge this way. (M)
Martin-Morris and Director
Blanford, in announcing their next community meetings, said theirs had
been low attendance as of late. (M)
In something of an ironic statement, the facilitator at the Board
retreat said that all around the table should be thinking of "benevolent
(R) Charles Wright, deputy
superintendent, said at the meeting that he had lost sleep over the
priorities. He said that the cabinet needed "clarity" and that the new
staff had "inherited" these things and that Board members with more than
one term might be able to give historical context.
also said that there was no implementation plan for the Strategic Plan
but stressed that yes, working was happening. (Yes, quite the
disconnect because that means that staff is just going off their best
judgment of how to implement it without a clear vision. Again, too much
to get done means the whole thing should be streamlined and scaled
He also mentioned a "Socio-Emotional Supports plan" that I have never heard of before.
He also mentioned an "organizational culture survey" but I don't know if it would be districtwide for staff or JSCEE.