Thursday, June 12, 2014

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

There is an Audit and Finance Committee meeting today at 4:30 p.m.  Wish I could attend but I have an event.  Here's the agenda which has some interesting items:

- adoption of the 2014-2015 budget book.  This might be interesting since the pick of MIF for K-5 Math adoption.  Of course, until a contract is executed, no one truly knows how much MIF will cost the district.  They had, according to their presentation at the last Board meeting, been willing to spend about $3.6M on enVision.  MIF is more expensive but, as has been pointed out, many of the items that staff pointed to as costs can be mitigated one way or another.

- a loan from the Capital Eligible Program (CEP) to pay for the renovations at TT Minor for the Seattle World School.  They don't give a figure for this loan. 

- one of my perennial favors is on the agenda - JSCEE Bonds annual update.  It's amazing how that building is the gift that keeps on taking from this district.  So much money spent on acquiring that building.  

- Was on the agenda but struck out and tabled - "Property swap at Garfield and South Shore (Rainier Beach Community Center)" with Ron English's name attached.  To the best of my knowledge, the district owns the land at Garfield and South Shore but, of course, RBCC is owned by the City.  I have a query in to Mr. English about this one. 

- Also tabled is revision of a number of Board policies on Fundraising.

Also in the Hmmm category - if you have a child at an elementary school, do they offer headphones for K-1 when those students take the MAP?  Because I recently learned that some schools offer headphones to those students - most of whom don't read - and some PTAs pick up the tab for some schools and the district buys for others.  Was this an unforeseen cost and what does it mean for the scores if some students don't have this aid?

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) gets caught in a "data collecting lie."  This from one of THE sharpest minds in the country on public education (and a fellow blogger), Mercedes Schneider.

As you may recall, NCTQ is yet another (yawn) Gates-funded organization.  She is writing about a NCTQ "report" on traditional teacher training programs where they one.  All the "reporting" came from paper or online documents. 

They had someone pose as a teacher writing to various universities with teaching programs to ask about a teaching program for her college-aged daughter.  When one university politely said that they would be glad to send info on their program, this "parent" told them to send it to a guy who turns out to be a research analyst at the NCTQ.

In fact, the NCTQ used to have on their website financial offers to students who would send them materials (calling them "stipends").  NCTQ has since taken this down but, of course, nothing is really gone from the Internet and Mercedes was able to see this for herself. 

Two sad commentaries on our American thought pattern on gunsOne is from Business Insider on the number of school shootings since 1990, the other a list of school shootings since New Town from CNN.

I normally would not quote someone as stupid as Joe the Plumber but since he seems to represent a large segment of our country that believes liberty is worth some school shootings and mass murders, here's what he said after the UCSB shootings:

"But: As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights."

That man knows how to craft a sound bite.


Anonymous said...

Joe the Idiot broke the Cardinal rule of chivalry and decency, which requires Gentlemen to put Women and Children first. He is a little boy proud of the fact that he never matured into a man. He deserves his place as Public Pariah #1. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Where can we find the 2014-2015 budget book?


Millie said...

Thanks, Melissa. I'm also finding the property swap more than interesting, and perhaps concerning. Perhaps Councilmember Burgess has an opinon on this issue.

Taxpayer said...

The city should have a discussion with First AME. We've already given that building away for a song. The First AME would be a wonderful place for the city to house their pre-school program. Or, is there another agenda?

I also believe Burgess has some explaining to do in relation to his Universal PreK proposal.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know you HAVE to have headphones for the K & 1 MAP tests, because it is actually a separate version of the test (MAP for Primary Grades) that is intended to have the questions asked verbally (except some of the reading comprehension). If there are schools not using headphones, then those kids are taking the standard version of the test (MAP) given to all the grade 2 & up kids, and the scores would not comparable to those of K & 1 kids from other schools (since they are not actually taking the same test).

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

The problem arises when the headphones break or stop working. Then they are in short supply, and at least at our school, the PTA stepped in to buy replacements because it was taking too long to get the replacement headphones from the district.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I don't know if there are issues with having enough headphones - my kids haven't mentioned it, but that doesn't mean anything. I found out completely by random (in an unrelated conversation) that my 3rd grader, along with several other kids in her class, had to stop in the middle of their MAP test because the computer lab was scheduled to be used by another group of kids, and it was almost 2 weeks before they got back to finish the test. I have to wonder if that affects the results.
Mom of 4

Millie said...

In 2012, SPS and the city began discussing land exchange:

Greenwoody said...

Why on earth are K-1 kids being given a standardized test? Shouldn't that not be happening?

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would a PTA pay for headphones for the MAP test? I think it does a disservice to kids all over the district to have a PTA pay for required materials.

The district should pay to fund all the stupid testing that they require. I would be upset to learn my kids' school used PTA money for that. PTA funds should be used for extras and not musts, doing otherwise is enabling the district to continue with their terrible budgeting practices.


Anonymous said...


Point taken. We also shouldn't have had to pay for a counselor position, either, but we felt that it was important, and the district wasn't covering it.

Next year, our projections show we should be over-enrolled enough to the point where our high enrollment numbers, ELL, Sped, etc... should qualify our school for a half-time counselor, paid for by SPS.

The district was asked to replace the broken headphones, and they eventually did, but it took a while (I honestly don't know all the details). Meanwhile, the PTA bought some for the kindergarten classrooms. It is not a typical PTA expense for us.

- North-end Mom

Pm said...

What happened to the no name calling policy, WSDWG? Melissa?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Millie, thanks for that. I note they had wanted to get this done by May 2012. Wonder what happened.

Greenwoody, they will be given tests to all K-1 for Common Core as well.

Melissa Westbrook said...

PM, if you are referring to someone calling Joe the Plumber an idiot, I'm letting that one go on the grounds that he IS widely thought of as an idiot.