Sunday, June 15, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week

Again, high school graduations are continuing so congrats to all students and their families.

As well, Thursday is the last day of school for all students so enjoy these last days. 

Wednesday, June 18th
School Board meeting, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda.

One trend I see that is somewhat disturbing is the number of items now on the Consent agenda.  The Consent agenda gets decided in one fell swoop.  It seems to me that an introduced item should also later be an action item.  I believe that some of these decisions are made in whichever committee the item comes out of (meaning the committee sent it forward to the full Board, it was intro'ed with little fanfare and the decision gets made to move it to the Consent agenda in the name of expediency.) 

But when you are talking about Board policies - the real foundation for all work in the district - it seems troubling.  Some are on the Consent agenda and some are on the Action items.  What's the reasoning? As well, there are items that are major expenditures that are also being moved to the Consent agenda.

One item to bring to your notice - so it won't come as a surprise at a later date - is a change in Board policy on "High School Grade and Credit Marking."  I would suggest reading this one thru if you have students it would affect.   This is Policy 2420.

There is also an item to amend the costs of Student Fees and Charges which include full-day K, Athletic Participation Fee and Food Service.  Athletics will stay the same and Food Service is to be addressed separately.

Full-day K will go up $1, from $283 to $284.  The dollar is to help their fee processing.  It is noted that in 2010-2011, the cost was $207 a month.

There is also an Action item on Rainier Beach High School receiving $4.3M via a continuing SIG grant.  The school will get a full-time parent coordinator in addition to a family support worker for this school year as well as increased tutoring, meeting with teachers and changes to bell schedules for CTE.  This is a good thing but there was this notation:

Regarding RAD designation and the potential for state takeover of Rainier Beach High School, the RAD designation is part of state law amended in 2013. In relation to the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG), the federal law says that states can take over SIG schools if allowed by state law. RCW 28A.657.030 is the state law in Washington on this point.
The law allows OSPI to take over a school more easily from districts that have not accepted SIG funding or are not improving. Rainier Beach has demonstrated significant improvement over the past three years and has been approved by OSPI for SIG funding based on our proposed grant application with accompanying strategies. In addition, SPS has already received SIG grants in the past for 3 schools. 
It's good to know that RBHS is improving and there would appear to be no reason for the state to take it over. 

The Highly Capable Student Program State Grant is up for introduction.  I am puzzled that the grant application is not there as it was available at the Curriculum and Instruction meeting last week.

Then there is the double-whammy of Race to the Top money and the Seattle Teacher Residency.  To understand, there will be just over $200K in General Fund dollars for this next year.  This item is to get $355K from RttT.  "Philanthropic funding" (probably the Alliance?) is giving about $925K.  So, for just one year, to run this program will cost almost $1.5M.
The district budgets - Operations and Capital - will be introduced.  There will be a Public Hearing on the Budget next week on Wednesday, June 25th from 4-4:15 pm if you want anything to go into the public record before these budgets are voted on at the next Board meeting.

Intro on approval of doing the Bell Times Analysis.  This might be an interesting discussion.

Thursday, June 19th
Operations Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm. No agenda yet available.

Audit&Finance Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda (note: this is in the auditorium, not the Board conference room as usual).

Saturday, June 21st
Community Meeting with Director Peters from 11 am - 12:30 pm at Magnolia Library.


Lynn said...

The kindergarten fee looks odd to me. Last year the fee was based on the estimated cost of the expected number of classrooms which the state would not fund, divided by the number of fee-paying students. I would not expect the cost per paying student to be the same two years in a row.

In my experience with private schools, this is what happens when costs are lower than the prior year - and the school does not want to reduce tuition.

Anonymous said...

The link for Policy 2420-High School Grade and Credit Marking was actually the link for 3520BP - Student Fees and charges.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, hit publish without adding the link for Policy 2420 -

It is an interesting document. Much of the reasoning seems to be focussed on administrative ease.

There are 148 class of 2014 students with too few credits for 10th grade standing and 586 class of 2015 in the same situation. What I find puzzling is that if SPS knows these students aren't passing classes and being promoted to the next grade, why does SPS have policy that requires a certain amount of progress before help is available?


Dusgusted said...

The board will approve $5M for Head Start, and the district will increase Head Start by 20 slots. Why do we need the city to step-in?

The district will introduce District Score Cards. Costs unknown. Given students will take Smarter Balanced Tests and reliability/validity haven't been determined--we are looking at another enormous waste of time and resources.

mirmac1 said...

The district and the Alliance have been blithely moving with STR since last year. This grant, which exceeds the threshold requiring board approval, has been forced to a vote. Otherwise, the Alliance and Road Map Project would have been content to keep it on the downlow. 34 teacher interns have already been hired.

Pg 38 shows the philanthropic donors.. Within a few years time, it is expected SPS will carry 50% the cost of this new shiny thing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well darn you, Mirmac1, because that link was such fascinating reading that I had to read the whole thing.

I have a lot of questions about it and I think it may need a whole thread by itself.

Johnny said...

The city boasts Universal PreK.

However, the city will determine curricula and direct agreements. Is this legal? Isn't it the legal responsibilities of SPS board to direct curricula?

I also note that SPS will be voting on Head Start. The city intends on incorporating Head Start dollars into their program. Will these dollars be allocated to the city and all programs be put under city control? It seems the city is trying to have educational authority..which is given to the board.

mirmac1 said...

STR is a flippin' boondoggle.

re: Pre-K, seems the City wants us to subsidize preschool for middle class families because it wants "diversity" and inclusion. Why don't they care that disabled preschoolers are being pulled out of private preschools and herded into a single building? Oh...right. Never mind.

Charlie Mas said...

At my daughter's high school graduation the students wore gender-specific cap and gown colors. The girls wore white and the boys wore blue. What's up with that? In what way is their graduation gender specific?

mirmac1 said...

STR will cost $1,875 per student (at the three "partner" schools) for 2014-15, and this cost will grow every year. This is NOT a sustainable effort. And SPS is expected to shoulder more and more of the burden every year.

Look, if the UW isn't doing its job preparing new teachers, then SPS should partner with a university that does. That would be FREE!