Sunday, July 06, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week

Friday, July 11
BEX Oversight Committee meeting, 8:30 am-10:30 am.
Unfortunately, whoever runs this group does not put up the agenda nor past minutes in a timely manner so I can't tell you what will be discussed.  I've asked if that could happen and told it would but it doesn't. 

The last minutes are from the meeting in April and have some curious notations.

- The Cost Summary now includes a Budget Transfers Log identifying the source funding as requested. 
The budget transfer log includes a description/reason for the transfer as well as the source of funding for the transfer.
- BEX IV Net Expenditures for February 2014 have been identified and included in the BEX IV Program Cost Summary. Future reports will continue to include Net Expenditures. 

Don't know exactly what "net expenditures" means but I will have to ask for this information.
- A draft of more detailed reports on projects went out on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, with a disclaimer about for BEXOSC members only. 
I find that odd because I have never seen any notation of reports that only BEXOSC members could see.  I'll have to ask about this one, too.

Some of the updates are kind of funny.  For example, Fairmount Park is 75% done and should open on-time in the fall but lessons learned?  Need to manage the schedule.

The cost delay amount on the Mann building has risen to about $82K (my recollection was about $65k).  They now say they have to cut down existing trees to replace the water line. 

Another update - this one on Genesee Hill - states that they should have a column showing the budget versus the final cost on all projects.  Seriously?  The BEX Oversight Ctm members really have to ask for this information to be provided? 

Arbor Heights' project sees that Teaching and Learning is asking for white boards for the classrooms which is an expensive cost.  Director Peaslee is apparently concerned about this cost given SPS has to have computers in all classrooms (for Common Core) and now all schools will want white boards.  

White boards are expensive (the lightbulb replacement cost is about $200 and most schools have to pay for that out of their own budgets).  You'd think the district would do a survey of schools that do have them and find out how well they are received and used.  (I know Brighton got them years ago and many teachers weren't even using them.)  They seem like more of a middle/high school need to me.

A "Commons and Auditorium" is mentioned for Wilson-Pacific which is funny considering how many of us wanted an auditorium.  A converted commons is not an auditorium.  They also claim that the building is being built for "50-100 years" which I find odd given that I have never heard the district make any claim for a building to last 100 years. In fact, even 50 years is something of a stretch.  Here's hoping that W-P will last 100 years.

For some reason, on the BEX Oversight Committee page, there's a review of BEX III with specific projects.  I note this is yet another attempt by staff to write revisionist history as they state they redid the fields and tennis courts at Denny without explanation they were ripping out less than 5-year old fields that they put in under BTA II.  Not good. 

Also to note for Friday is the reply from the Legislature to the latest ruling by the State Supreme Court on McCleary.  What will the legislators say? 

Saturday, July 12th
Community meeting with Director Blanford from 10:00 am - noon at the Douglass-Truth Library.
Might be a good time to ask him what his priorities are since he seems to be more of a critic of the work of others. 

I also note there is nothing on the district calendar for the next three weeks (so there's a break for us all).

However, July 17th is the date that the Sacramento School Board will decide on whether to offer a contract to our Superintendent.  I'll let you know how that comes out.  Then we can ask the Board about next steps.  As I said, I have heard of two (and possibly three) good/great candidates, all local.   (No, I cannot say anything yet.)


#BEXIVPfA said...

Melissa, Thank you for the update.

It should be noted that pre-K classrooms are expected to be placed in buildings with Bex IV dollars.

The city will deny Graham Hill Elementary with Family and Education dollars unless the district pays for a preK portable. Last check, voters doubled the Family and Education levy to support low income students and the city is holding a couple hundred million F&E Levy dollars. The state funds SPS facilities for K-12- and doesn't provide support for pre K.

SPS administration was to sign a Letter of Agreement with the city regarding Preschool for All. Last check, the board was not briefed on Preschool for All. Funding for pre-K for all was not heard in SPS's Audit and Finance Committee.

Lastly, SPS administration will be placing the city's program into SPS this year and before voters have approved funding. There is a funding gap (again, why isn't the city using F&E dollars) and LEV has gotten involved. Talk of getting funding from Gates.

Kate Martin said...

When I was campaigning for school board a few years ago, folks made it pretty clear to me that the BEX Oversight Committee was anything but oversight. People told me there was alot of covering trails and preparing information to be communicated to the public and feeding contracts to their contacts. I don't have any way to verify that, but it was communicated as a problematic situation. -Kate

Anonymous said...

Where is special ed in the Preschool for All debate, or even in the Preschool for All planning? I've heard the itinerant teacher program, which has supported kids in regular Pre-Ks, is being gutted. Who is organizing staffing and compliance, should Preschool for ALL become a reality?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, here's the thing - just like Common Core, this all feels very behind closed doors/behind the scenes work that is now being "presented" to the public (and the Board).

Interestingly, one study cited by the Council report said that Sped kids in what was the "high quality" preschool did worse than those not in a program. I'm not sure there is enough evidence but that was troubling.

I am doing research on this to understand what this all means, especially to established preschools.

And the costs? Tremendous. They are saying preschool teachers in Boston get $70k a year. Plus PD, plus coaching. That takes a lot of dollars.

What's odd is that there is NO mention of facilities except in passing. What is SPS going to do, just give away space?

SPS parents need to get educated because while this may be a good idea in principle, you need to know what this means to our existing (over-enrolled, under-funded) schools.

Why is SPS giving this so much attention?

Anonymous said...

Reader, Sped kids already get state mandated preschools, and state mandated birth to 3 services under IDEA. One would imagine that if Universal Preschool comes to fruition as a public institution, IEP teams (and IFSP teams for 0 - 3) would begin including service in the LRE, eg inclusion services, as they do now in K-12. The absolute LRE would be in the Universal Preschool. Specialed services would be specified for that environment. Interestingly, there is no general education certification for preschool EXCEPT for special education. Because of that, it's not surprising that special education preschools are of the highest quality currently. Also, preschool special education teachers receive a regular teacher's salary which is much higher than non certified, non regulated private preschool salary. Yes, some public school teachers, including preschool teachers, make 70k, even right here, right now, in SPS.

What will be the certification process for preschool teachers? If nothing, or the very nominal degree in "early childhood development", often an AA, then special ed preschools will likely continue to be of much higher quality than Universal Preschool counterparts. And if there is no certification process, then the price tag should be less.

Also a Reader