Sunday, July 20, 2014

Seattle Schools' Pre-K "Mission Study" - Day-by-Day Timeline

I will do my best to get this in a linear order but the e-mails were not always provided in that manner.

To note, the trip was March 3-6th so clearly, getting started in early Feb was difficult on staff.  I wonder how the City thought the district had so much travel money to try to send 5+ people to three cities.  

Key staffers involved:
Cashel Toner - head of SPS Early Learning, seemingly the lead on this effort - went on trip
Flip Herndon - head of Facilities, pushed to go on the trip by Toner - went on trip, provided an overview of his impressions vis a vis Seattle (I'll put this up separately as it gives some insights as to what the district's current thinking is.  I have no idea what the Board thinks but Blanford wanted to go on this trip.)
Patricia Stambor - in HR, oversee Strategic Partnerships - had the biggest lift of anyone involved and seems like a good foot soldier in all this.  I note that at the end of all the work Toner thanks everyone but Stambor.  (Public disclosure: Stambor and I know each other personally although we do not see each other on a regular basis.  She's a smart, savvy person.)
Clover Codd -  seemed to be looking for dollars for this effort
Michael Tolley  - seemed to be the guy who was going to provide "bridge funds" to pay for the airline tickets until another source was found (and his funds reimbursed back to his department)
Laura Morrison - principal of Graham Hill and went on the trip (and was eager to go).
Keisha Scarlett - principal of South Shore Pre-K-8 and went on the trip (she got the funding for she and Morrison from LEV)

The e-mails show the following:

- the cost of the trip appears to be about $13,500K for four SPS staff (not including Stephan Blanford).   Again, it is unclear whether Charles Wright's costs (after he backed out of going) were recovered. 
- as late as the second week of February, Patricia Stambor in HR worries that they cannot find a "cost center" nor did anyone have "permission" to go but they were still working on it.  (Superintendent Banda approved it on or about Feb. 18th.) 

- page 308 of the e-mails on Feb. 6th- Cashel Toner writes to Charles Wright about the trip saying, "It is critical that Seattle Public Schools join this effort and influence the formation of these programs." "We will need to take responsibility financially which will build esteem and credibility to this partnership."  Money seems to be a key for SPS to be part of this Pre-K effort.   
 - Page 302 - Feb. 7th Ex Director Kelly Aramaki, who was invited to go, expresses concern over principals going on the trip because:
"I'm nervous about the principals going because that's their 1 week to do budget with their schools."  
 He was concerned enough about that core work to NOT go but that didn't stop either principal from South Shore or Graham Hill.
- page 280,  e-mail dated Feb. 7th , principal Keisha Scarlett, seemingly recognizing that the funding will be hard to find in SPS, says to Cashel Toner "I could probably get the LEVF to cover part or all of this for me.  I don't need to be greedy." 

- -page 261, on Feb. 11th from Cashel Toner to Alex Pedersen (Burgess aide), "Flip (Herndon) just committed after a bit of persuasion - can you fit him in?"   Pedersen replies that they could fit in Charles Wright as well and that the registration is closed but thinks the Chamber of Commerce could add him.  Again, more push (beyond the registration deadline) to get as many SPS staffers on this trip as possible.

- page 245, Feb. 12 - Toner tells Scarlett that she has found funding for Scarlett and Morrison, in separate e-mails, for them to attend.

- page 252 - Cashel Toner to Alex Pedersen on Feb. 12 saying, "I have a firm yes from the following SPS leaders and funding to support them as well."  As the next e-mails show, especially on Feb. 14th, this is not true as SPS staff struggle to find the funds.

- page 221, Feb. 13 - Patricia Stambor to Christine Bath (BEX) - "thanks Chris.  The next big challenge is finding someone who will commit to a cost center."  Bath replies, "Yes, that is the big one.  Was the trip something coming from the Supt.'s office?" Stambor, "Yes, but there is a bit of push back from Ken. Stay tuned." Ken is Ken Gotsch, head of SPS finance.  It's good to know that Mr. Gotsch wants to know how the money is being spent.

- page 211, Stambor to Liz Swartz ( Swartz is SPS' travel agent): "Liz, this is a heads-up.  I still do not have a cost center or permission but I do need to (sic) an estimate..for 5 people." 

- page 205, Feb. 13th, Alex Pedersen at Burgess' office to Stambor, "When communicating with the Seattle Chamber, please note that the School District is covering the costs for all 5 people (registration and flight)."  That wasn't true as Scarlett and Morrison were to have some/all? costs covered by LEV.  Stambor writes to Toner, "I just talked with Alex Pedersen from the City. He wanted to confirm that the District is paying for everyone's registration and travel.  I will need a cost center so I can register Charles and Flip."  Stambor also writes Charles Wright the same day asking for a "cost center" to start making arrangements. Wright turns to Gotsch for help that same day.

- page 204, Feb,. 13th, Gotsch writes back to Wright asking for details of the trip - "Is this a trip to pursue a grant that may pay for the cost of this trip?  Who is going (maybe they have travel budgets)? Estimated budget?"  He then goes on, "If no one has money, we can look to the District's reserves (which means adding to the deficit)."  Meaning, the district would go into debt to pay for this trip.

Feb. 14th is a key day in this timeline as a large number of e-mails fly back and forth. (Stambor may have whiplash by the end of this day and laments she can't get everything done because so many people left early that day.)  Note: Feb. 14th e-mails may not be listed in the precise order but I tried.

- Stambor suggests to Toner on Feb. 14th that a budget person, Linda Sebring, suggested looking into Title One funds or "Org 42" funds.
- On Feb. 14, Linda Sebring in Budget says to Codd and Casel that they could use district "underspend."  
 - Page 398 of e-mails - On Feb. 14, there was an e-mail from Linda Sebring to Charles Wright and Cashel Toner saying that Michael Tolley "has graciously agreed to be the 'bridge' fund if this has to occur today.  I also touched base with Clover who believes she may be able to provide funding from the Strategic Plan Implementation baseline funds.." 

- page 205 - Toner has asked Stambor to make travel arrangements but Stambor says, on Feb. 14th, "Before I have our travel agent book anything I need to prepare a RFPL for all participants which includes an estimate of the costs and the cost center.  I still do not have a cost center." 

- page 187 -Feb. 14th  Stambor to Swartz "Golly, I still do not have a cost center."  
- page 186 - Feb. 14th Cashel pressures Sebring "Can you please provide a cost center?  She cc'd Charles Wright, saying, "Charles, please approve."
- page 186 - Feb 14th, Sebring replies, "Do you know which department this involves?   (Amazing that Cashel thinks she can just tell Sebring to find money without telling Sebring what area(s) this involves.)  Instructional Services? Headstart/Early Learning? Other?  I would need to know where to start to determine which budget manager to talk with about where they have the funding planned."
- Feb. 14 - Stambor to Cashel - "I see that Linda suggested looking into Title One or Org 42." She references Gotsch's remark about going to District reserves, "I am sorry but I am kind of stuck here."
- page 181 - still Feb. 14 - Stambor to Scarlett, "I am really having a tough time finding the $$$. Would you by any chance to able to fund your costs for the trip? $2500.  And do you have money for salt (sic) too (she is sitting here).  I am not having much luck with finding a cost center."  (I don't know who/what "salt" is.)  Scarlett replies, "Yes. Kind of: (...I may be in trouble, but I will push it through."  She then gives a code for New School foundation PK (the funding source for South Shore K-8 via LEV).
Stambor replies that one New School fund has $51K and another has $7400K and asks if Scarlett means the latter one.
Scarlett says "use the PK cost center"
- Still Feb. 14th - Stambor to Swartz - "Accounts Payable has approval for Keisha and Laura to go (grant funded).  I will have to wait until Tuesday for the other approval. So many people left early." 
- page 174 - Feb. 14th, Sebring to Charles Wright, Cashel Toner, Stambor,Tolley, Gotsch, Herndon "Michael has graciously agreed to be the "bridge" if this has to occur today. I also touched base with Clover (Codd) who believes she may be able to provide funding from the Strategic Implementation baseline funds to cover your travel costs.  I have not been able to connect with Flip yet to determine if he has identified funds to use for his expenses but hopefully we can connect next week." She ends saying, "Hopefully we are close to having all of the costs covered both temporarily and permanently."
page 179 - Feb. 14th, Stambor to Sebring, explaining how Scarlett will be funded thru South Shore grant as well as Morrison and Wright through Strategic planning.

- On Feb. 18th Clover Codd suggests to Stambor to "use baseline funds", meaning the most basic funding that the district has available.  It would NOT seem that a junket like this would fall under any kind of baseline especially since pre-K is not a core function of Seattle schools.  She also said it could be "one time ONLY."  
- page 166 - it is pointed out that the Superintendent has to approve the RFPL for this trip.  This is on Feb. 18th.  It's late Feb. and the Superintendent still has not approved anyone to go.
- page 165 Feb. 18th, Stambor confirms to Codd where the money is coming from for Wright's portion.  She notes a code and says "not baseline."  
Feb. 18th - Codd replies, "FOR THIS ONE TIME, please use baseline for travel.  The line item below is really only for USHCA.  We should have a little more left in baseline to cover this." USHCA is Urban Schools Human Capital Academy which is another group that the district is associated with and apparently money has been set aside for (and not for this preschool purpose).  Stambor replies, "I will have to do a spending exemption on this." She also says, in another e-mail to Codd, "This trip has taken sooo much time."
page 164 - Banda approves the travel request.  This is Feb. 18th. 
page 164 - Feb. 18th - Stambor to Marlene Fuller, "The funding for this trip is from 4 different sources.  I am working on spending exemptions for the 3 baseline cost centers.  Hopefully Ken Gotsch will sign off tomorrow so Liz can book the flights."  I note that because this took so long to figure out, it likely cost the district more in travel costs due to late booking.
- page 161 - Feb 18th Stambor to Sebring "Linda, I think the people in charge of budgets will need to move the costs in working with both their budget analyst and with accounting."  Again, no small amount of work for more SPS staff.  Sebring replies, "The more we can correctly charge to start with, the less work accounting has to do to move the charges later. Have you talked with Flip or Cashel where their funding will come from? I am happy to help, however, I feel like I am just shooting in the dark when I am trying to determine who might be willing to fund this travel." 
- page 160, Feb. 18th Sebring to Toner, Wright, Stambor, Gotsch - She says there is not much money in Early Learning's budget that are non-grant funds but "other academic departments might be able to help including:
Title One funds - she notes district has significant under spend from last year "might be an opportunity if this is a Title One professional development activity"
Org 42 "Instructional services appears to have several different Fund 1000 cost centers with unspent funds including: Org 42 including Star Program ($26K+), Teacher Development Fund ($143K+), Professional Develop and Substitute ($47K+) and Instructional Materials ($40K+), Professional Development supply reserve ($43K+)." I note that none of the people attending are teachers.  Also, taking money from "instructional materials" for a trip for multiple staff?  That's the best use of these funds?
-page 160 Wright answers Sebring saying they need the money today and need a "bridge" to buy the airfare. 
- page 159, Feb. 18th, Christine Bath (in Facilities) writes to Stambor with a code for Flip Herndon, head of Facilities, to use for his airfare costs.  

- page 157, Feb. 19th Stambor to Denise McEhinney (not sure who this is in SPS), Stambor discusses how the various personnel will be funding their airfare.  She says, "If there are other cost centers being used, then we will need to do this through a journal voucher at a later time."
- page 155 Feb. 19th - Stambor to Anita DeMahy (not sure in SPS who she works for) saying how complicated the funding has become, "Can Ken (Gotsch) possibly give an okay on spending exemptions for this trip?"

- page 147 - Feb. 21, Stambor to Kathie Davis (another SPS staffer) "Is there a way we can pay for this conference with a credit card - rather than me creating 4 different POs for each cost center? See attached."
- page 145, Feb. 21st, Stambor still not able to book flights.
- page 140 - Feb. 21st Laura Morrison write to Stambor about not wanting a layover in Denver. Stambor replies, "There really are not many choices unless you stay another night and that would require an additional authorization and added cost.  Unfortunately, right now the airfares are significantly higher than anticipated."  So all this figuring out about where the money is coming from?  That time now means the district will spend more on airfares made later.
- page 113 - the airline reservations were STILL not made by Feb. 21st.  It appears it got done sometime between Feb. 21-26th, just a week before the trip.

page 92 - Feb. 27th, Stambor to Melissa Coan (in Budget) - apparently still an issue of covering Flip Herndon's registration costs. "Can you load the funds into the budget or provide another cost center?"
- page 91 - Feb. 27th ,Stambor writes Scarlett saying "..your grant funding is short by $600..."  Is it okay for Kenny Ching to move funds form another commitment item to 7011 so we can cover the costs for the registration and travel?"  Scarlett writes back "Move from $40K for now." (That was a fund that had $40K in it.)
- Page 307 - March 4th Toner says that she met with the Gates Foundation and they wanted SPS represented (and yet did not provide the funds showing that there was outside pressure for SPS personnel to make this trip).  "Hi Shauna, I met with folks from the Gates foundation yesterday and they were very interested in SPS sending a larger team."

- page 86 - March 5th, Stambor to Clover Codd, "On the Preschool Mission trip. I cannot get a refund for Charles' ticket and I (sic) we may have to swallow the conference costs too."  Codd, "Ok, thx." 

Page 12 - March 21st, Stambor asks Annie Boekman (at Chamber of Commerce) about refund for Wright's conference fee.  There is no corresponding answer.


Anonymous said...

"Principal Kelly Aramaki of JSIS" is way out of date. He left JSIS to be the Principal at Beacon Hill where Blanford's child attended, and has been the Executive Director for the Southeast Region (and is the boss of the two principals) who went on this trip.


Melissa Westbrook said...

SWWS, you are right and I will immediately correct it because naturally, that's the most important part of this story.

KIC Family said...

I just wanted to say thanks for putting this all together. It's been very interesting reading.

Charlie Mas said...

Wow. It's a good thing that it was the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the City of Seattle, and the Gates Foundation who asked them to do all this. Had it been the Board they wouldn't have had the staff time or resources.

#TransparencyPlease said...

Melissa and Mirimac,

Thank you. I'm finding the following paragraph disturbing:

"Org 42 "Instructional services appears to have several different Fund 1000 cost centers with unspent funds including: Org 42 including Star Program ($26K+), Teacher Development Fund ($143K+), Professional Develop and Substitute ($47K+) and Instructional Materials ($40K+), Professional Development supply reserve ($43K+)." I note that none of the people attending are teachers."

Hard to believe these people would use funds intended for teacher development, Title 1 students, Strategic Plan Implementation, and materials to provide themselves a trip. I've read through the e-mails and noted that Codd (p.87) asks Nutritional services to provide snacks for a preschool community meeting. I am glad you turned this into the state auditor.

SPS's lawyer- Cierce (sp?) had been charged with drafting the Partnership Agreement with the city. Do you know if this agreement has been drafted and signed?

Graham Hill principal wanted a portable to house preschool because Burgess wouldn't give Family and Ed. dollars unless the district put the portable on the property. Do we know if the district is planning to put a portable on the property for preschool? If so, what is the cost?

Within a month and a half, the district is expected to "pilot" 5 preschool classes. So, we're looking at 5 teachers, 5 instructional assistants, nutritional services, materials, professional development, curriculum etc. Last check, the district didn't have the funds. I'm confident we're looking at several hundred thousands of dollars.

The board remains in the dark.

Banda complained that the district hadn't been part of the city's plan, but district staff are in regular communication with the city.

Holly Miller made it clear that it is SPS staff- not the board that is leading this effort. Staff reports to Wright. Wright didn't have any of this information at the Board Retreat; almost as if the city's major proposal has no impact on the district. Hard to tell if Wright is incompetent, trying to shove this initiative through the door- or both. Either way- the lack of communication with the board is unacceptable and Wright needs to go.

mirmac1 said...

I am trying to remember - how many times did SPS say that the Chamber paid for this trip? I don't even see where they OFFERED to pay, only demanded a check. I suppose, like Stambor's non-answer to Melissa's inquiry (on pg 15), what the public has heard on this subject are either misleading non-answers or lies.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, thanks for the email disclosures and Melissa for the exposure.

These people forget that they can, and will, be found out. My only guess is that getting Gates attention produces some blinding testosterone in this crowd.

BTW, didn't Codd do some Burgess fundraiser with her friend Bree at one point when he thought he'd become mayor?

--enough already

Anonymous said...

If the City wants to implement preschool, they should. They should pay for it, house it, staff it, regulate it, administer it, and operate it. If they want to take it on, go for it.

But, if they just think it is a fantastic idea, and, want their pal, the District to do it, when the District can't even run K12 smoothly, then I don't think so.

Ultimately, this is up to the voters. If Mayor Murray gets his butt handed to him when a resounding NO vote, then, it might, only might, die on the 'table'.

And, who does Flip work for? Them, the City, or us, the District? Maybe he should check his paystub to figure it out.

Is this how it works? Some outsiders get a 'thing' stuck in their head, like, 'we need universal preschool?', and then they just demand the District serve it up, and, the District jumps through the high hoop, regardless of their overtaxed resources, established priorities and nonexistent capacity (management and facilities and budgetary capacities are all negative)just because the City says so?

Hey, I have a great idea, I want 10 more language immersion schools NOW because I think it is inequitable that only Director Blanford gets to send his daughter to one and I don't/can't because of my address. This should be the number one priority. Now. So, all of the staff needs to get on a plane and go to Texas and San Diego because they do great bilingual immersion programs there. And, I don't care about the lack of resources or their priorities. This is my priority to make Seattle an international, global city that will be the gateway to trade and commerce for China. (Did I mention the languages must be either Spanish or Mandarin?).

The only way we escape this poorly conceived but well-intentioned 'plan' (the road to where is paved with what?) is if the childless population of tax-paying voters is convinced this will actually hurt 'the kids' not help them, the kids being K-12 kids, because those kids are currently in a system that is out of space and out of money, and, adding one more thing onto the District's plate, just 'cause Murray and LEV says so, is soooo stupid, words can't describe.

Some of you prolific commenters should get on the Stranger Slog pronto and explain why this hairbrain idea must be voted down. The good-hearted kindly liberals who are generous with their money will vote to tax themselves to provide preschool for all, thinking that is the right thing, the reasonable thing, the moral thing, to do, because, 'it is for the kids'.
Help them know the opposite is true. Start sending out the clear message now, because this blog is great, but, the Stranger Slog reaches far more voters, and, that is the audience who needs to have a deeper understanding of what's at stake, and why this is half-baked and ought to go nowhere. Let the City take it on, I wish them well.

Hey, I am a liberal, tax-loving, ed-voting property owner, and, this will be the first 'no' vote on an ed issue I've ever made. But truly, this is a really bad timing for a thinly stretched organization to undertake. Let is get K12 fully operational (fix SpEd, build out BEX, adopt new LA/SS curriculum, etc).

So, spread the word beyond this blog, because it is too much of a great sounding sound-bite for voters to not support it, and, you know LEV will be pounding away for it, along with Gates and the City.

-spread the word

#TransparencyPlease said...

Clearly, Director Peters does her homework and reviewed City Ordinance 118114.

Director Peters sends a very thoughtful letter to the city with concerns. I am hoping Mirimac can attach this document.

Holly Miller has received this e-mail.

I've not seen any FOIA documents that indicate Director Peters has received a response. Does Holly Miller believe it is the staff- not the board that should exercise oversight! Absolutely outrageous. And where does Charles Wright fit into this picture?

Again, we are weeks away from SPS piloting the city's program.

I hope someone has investigated whether or not the city has been in touch with charter operators regarding this initiative.

#TransparencyPlease said...

-spread the word,

LEV wants the district to provide preschool professional development throughout the entire community! And SPS's response is???

Anonymous said...

Wow. Who knew that identifying a mistatement would get such an unnecessarily sharp response. It would make no sense for the JSIS principal to be part of this, but it does make perfect sense that the two principals boss was on the emails. Excuse me for correcting your mistatement.



TransparencyPlease said...

This project needs board oversight.

TransparencyPlease said...

If any board members are reading: Preschool provides $24K per year in revenue. These dollars will be used to help cover costs related to city pilot program.

TransparencyPlease said...

Preschool classrooms are to be included in BEX IV.

Charlie Mas said...

Where is Charles Wright's multi-page report in which he identifies which current projects will be slowed or stopped by the pre-school effort? Why didn't he think to write one up?

mirmac1 said...

Anita DeMahy is Goetsch's AA. She used to work in the Board office and is a great person in my book.

Gads said...

It will be nearly impossible for the board to get costs related to the city's preschool program. I'm
confident the district will state that preschool costs are "embedded" into the Strategic Plan.

Similarily, travel costs were "embedded" with title 1 expenditures, Strategic Plan costs etc.

Perhaps if the district can't figure the costs of the city's preschool plan, the State Auditor can help identify costs for the board.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"SPS's lawyer- Cierce (sp?) had been charged with drafting the Partnership Agreement with the city. Do you know if this agreement has been drafted and signed?"

I don't know but I did ask at the interim superintendent press conference if anything was going to be announced by Banda, either verbally or in writing, on any new agreement, and I was told no.

Yes, I left out Holly Miller's e-mail on March 18th about "hammering out specifics" to Herndon and Cashel. I would think that any agreement made behind closed doors would not be a good idea.

"Some outsiders get a 'thing' stuck in their head, like, 'we need universal preschool?', and then they just demand the District serve it up, and, the District jumps through the high hoop, regardless of their overtaxed resources, established priorities and nonexistent capacity (management and facilities and budgetary capacities are all negative)just because the City says so?"

This would appear to be somewhat true. I don't get how the City believes the District can take this on financially.

Charlie Mas said...

I am often surprised by the City's ignorance of the school district. Of course, I am also surprised by the legislature's ignorance of school and education issues. It is very easy to expect the impossible or demand the ridiculous when you're ignorant of the reality. City officials made a whole basket full of presumptions when they cooked up their pre-school plan. Few, if any, of those presumptions were based in fact. We see the faulty presumptions they made about the school district's resources. There are a number of other faulty presumptions at work when it comes to the operation of a pre-school.

I'll bet that there are a lot of readers of this blog who, like myself, were active in one of the many co-op preschools here in Seattle. Any one of them probably knows more about the operation of a pre-school than any of the decision-makers who brain-stormed Pre-School for All.

Anonymous said...

Check out the NY Times article that Obama will be touting the expansion of preschool in dozens of cities in upcoming speech.

What convenient timing. Wonder if Burgess and Co. are linking this initiative with possibly being rewarded by the Democratic machine for their "hard work". That would be so surprising.

--enough already

Joe Wolf said...

Re. Graham Hill portable

Portable placement at Graham Hill this summer was - as at several other schools - to support the roll-out of the Access SpEd delivery model.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The City can talk with whatever charter operators they want but 1240 doesn't cover pre-school. Not for a free-standing one nor one within a school. Not to say that a charter could not include one but they won't get state funding for it (but could get federal dollars if they cover Sped preschool or via Head Start, etc.) This is my understanding.

Reader47 said...

This is an appalling story of waste - both of time and money and frankly, I hope the auditor DOES get involved because there's borderline malfeasance at work here.

As others have said -SPS can't even efficiently run what they are "mandated" to run - k-12 - and now, the city just thinks they can willy nilly add on this huge project, with huge price tags and monumental lack of understanding on the available space at SPS. What a resounding debacle all around.

Anonymous said...

I find this so frustrating. Many parents, including myself, have been advocating for better collaboration between the City and SPS in order to find more buildings/properties to accommodate growth (K-12), since it is obvious that BEXIV will not solve our capacity shortfalls.

I'm sure this pre-K "mission" will be lauded as an example of SPS working with the City...yet it misses the point entirely.

We need more space for K-12!!!

- North-end Mom

TransparencyPlease said...

Joe Wolf,

Thank you very much for checking-in.

Enough already states: "Check out the NY Times article that Obama will be touting the expansion of preschool in dozens of cities in upcoming speech."

BTW: The board better get-on this project- or they will be charged with failing to oversee district operations.

This preschool program absolutely has a bigger picture. That is the reason Murray met with Arne Duncan. The dems want to tout some kind of accomplishment.

Just Saying said...

"The City can talk with whatever charter operators they want but 1240 doesn't cover pre-school."


Do you find it odd that LEV/ City wants access to both Schmitz Park and Decateur for preschool? Two entire schools for preschool??

Just Saying said...

", I hope the auditor DOES get involved because there's borderline malfeasance at work here."

It is absolutely my hope that the State Auditor becomes involved. Thanks to mirimac/Melissa for FOIA, research, reporting etc.169

Patrick said...

The dems want to tout some kind of accomplishment.

Funding and space for K-12 wouldn't be enough of an accomplishment for them?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not sure I get what this "Learning Center" is to be except a preschool. That it will be so large as to need not one but two district buildings is troubling.

As I said, I filed with the State Auditor and I have written two detailed e-mails to the Board on this issue. I strongly suspect they had NO idea how far this has gotten or that staff will tell them - to their faces - "you can't have this math curriculum, too expensive" - and then move the earth and sky for some staffers to go on a junket.

There is no reason why one Board member and one staff member could not have gone and that's it.

But Burgess and LEV want what they want and clearly staff is willing to accommodate that.

Anonymous said...


This is outstanding reporting. It is detailed, informative and thought-provoking. Thank you for doing this - I look forward to seeing the state investigate this, it's incredibly important.

On a somewhat related note, I'd just like to gently point out that your sharp first note in the comment section really undermines the professionalism you show in your reporting. When a reader points out a small detail that is inaccurate, that's an opportunity to correct it and ensure that other readers don't dismiss your reporting because a minor fact is wrong. Instead, you responded sarcastically: "SWWS, you are right and I will immediately correct it because naturally, that's the most important part of this story." I understand that it must be frustrating to get what seem like minor critiques after putting in so much work to an incredibly important story. But really, the only reason I even mention it is that your work is so far above and beyond most blog writing - you are doing important, investigative reporting here. I really just want this blog to be taken more seriously than the Times when in comes to SPS. Continuing the professionalism you show in your reporting in the comments section would help increase the credibility of this space as a whole.

-Faithful reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Faithful, thanks for the input.

I have no problem with corrections. I do take issue with how it's said. I find it interesting that I get taken to task over words and yet it seems my readers can say anything and that's supposed to be okay with me.

Kindness works both ways (especially, as you point out, I work very hard on ferreting out information).

mirmac1 said...

I agree regarding Melissa's great work. I just turn over docs. She does the hard stuff. Kudos : )

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Agreed lp. The tone wasn't there. As a disinterested party, it seems you do have a problem being corrected. Might as well own it. Or say you don't mind being corrected as long as it accompanied by much thanks for your work, which would also be honest.

Thank you for all your work!
-just saying

mirmac1 said...

I can attest that there is a burnout factor involved.

Anonymous said...

I was not making a jab. It didn't make sense to me why the JSIS principal would be copied on these emails or make the comments about budget time until I confirmed where Kelly Aramaki is now. It would be like identifying Cashel Toner as the principal of Loyal Heights rather than her current role. I have no idea why Melissa jumped that hard, no tone was intended.


NW parent said...

Oh for god's sake people. So occasionally Melissa is snippy. Who cares? I would be too if I just published a long, thoroughly researched expose and the very first comment is someone pointing out how one fact is "way out of date" without saying anything else, like thanks for your efforts or "great info, except you have one fact wrong," etc. Give her a break.

Anonymous said...

Read the comments on the other thread about preschool - this is even more nuts than I realized -- the City MUST 'own' this.

If they want preschool - then they should do it - leave SPS out of it.

CCA commented about all the planning the City did to launch preschool, including dealing with Headstart and the othe funded preschool programs. It's mayor Murray's baby - him and burgess - so if they WANT it - fine; but then THEY got to do it, and not dump their grand scheme and vision that comes from THEIR burning desires and priorities on the school district, because, you know, the school district is rather busy and has negative resources.

So they, the city, make promises to
The voters about their high moral rectitude and about how great this will be, etc - then they leave SPS holding the bag?!?

This is why I am really glad Banada is going. A really leader would have stood up to this crap and said that nice, Mayor Murray, the district of seattle looks forward to getting the graduates of your city preschool program into our Kindergarten classes when they are 5; we can give you feedback after the first few years if we have any to share; but in the mean to
E we are a K12 system with so
E preschool only as it pertains to SpEd, Headstart, etc -- and do this has nothing to do with us. It's your priority, your vision, your 'plan', and we wish you well, But how dare you presume we are going to take this on. Don't you know how badly underfunded we are -- afterall you were in the legislature underfunding us all those years so badly we had to sue you- and we one. Also, I'm wondering why you want to set my priorities--I'm not trying to set yours. So, stop trying to use the bully pulpit and start leading - really leading -- you want preschool - we both agree that's fabulous -- now YOU make it go.

All banda did was sit quietly in his office. Like a useless stick. He did that with everything - with SpEc, with T&L, with Capital. Yeah, I'm glad he's out of here.

His lack of outrage at the City regarding the psuedo plans for universal preschool is shocking. Don't call it diplomacy -- call it dereliction of duty.

CCA, please spread the word out to the Stranger Slog, etc - so that the preschool levy fails.

Perhaps Mel and you can call the Stranger and give your facts to their reporters.

-spread the word

Anonymous said...

Maybe the city should have tried to be a better partner with Daybreak Star up at Discovery Park instead of shrugging off all their requests for help to chase the "golden apple" of universal preschool stuff with SPS. The city has a failing track record, in my book, when it comes to supporting education. All they do is let the "don't touch our fields" people get out of control when the district needs to build, they don't try to help with sidewalks or traffic measures, and then they want us to give up k12 classroom space?

Put the downtown preschool they want in the giant city hall. Start there, and three years from now, come back to SPS with a plan.
Signed: don't trust

Joe Wolf said...

Reply/response to TransparencyPlease

- You're very welcome. When there is a chance to replace speculation and uncertainty that is time well spent.

Re. your statement 7/20/14 9:50 PM "Preschool classrooms are to be included in BEX IV":

With all due respect that statement leaves out a lot of important history and context.

- SPS has included a two-classroom + support space wing/pod designed specifically to support before- and after-school childcare, in every new/replacement school since the CIP I program in the early 1990s (Muir, Leechi etc.) So this is not something new to BEX IV.

- The plans are vetted by the State Department of Early Learning early in the process so they can be licensed by DEL as child care facilities. This means, yes that they can support Pre-School. And SpEd Pre-K. And SM3/SM4 Self-Contained special ed. And primary grade GenEd.

It does not mean the intent behind the spaces was Pre-School, and that difference needs to be made very clear.

The link below is to the current Board-approved K-5 Ed Spec. The section on *childcare* begins on Page 55.

TransparencyPlease said...

Very much appreciate having historical context and additional information regarding BeX IV/ Preschool- Mr Joe Wolf!

Thanks for stopping by.

mirmac1 said...

Thank you Joe.

Just know that it burns my craw that SpEd students are moved hither and yon for capacity's sake. Yet this year, when a giant leap is made to model an inclusive, efficient SpEd service delivery is in full swing, I hear or read about the hassle and expense for adding portables for the Access model, a model that finally offers a "continuum of alternative placements" as dictated by IDEA. For years the same hassle and expense has been in place for guaranteed assignment for non-disabled students in the name of neighborhood assignment.

SpEd students are the only students protected by Federal law to attend the school they would attend if not disabled, or one nearby.

I appreciate the considerable effort you and your team have gone to in the crazy capacity chess game.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Melissa - that is a LOT of info to sort through and chron and describe for readers. Not just the facts, but putting it in perspective of the budget and cost centers and SPS workings. Thanks. I'll work my way through the 407 pages so maybe my questions are answered in the doc, but lots of red flags here.

I'm a big supporter of the concept of preschool. And preschool for all, especially families who would otherwise not be able to afford it. But the fact that the city sees SPS as being a mandatory participant is concerning to me for many reasons. There is the obvious lack of space and money of course and the fact that SPS has enough to say grace over w/o adding in anything else.

But for me the biggest red flag is WHY? I have this bad, bad feeling that it's so we can slap curriculum in front of these children, get them on the academic path, and of course (in order to see how it's all working) start to assess/ harvest data/ test etc. Preschool is about playing, taking turns, sharing, sitting still at circle time, resolving differences, gross and fine motor skill practice, it's running and singing and doing art and dress up -- everyone (preschool parents and voters) should question what this Preschool for All will actually be doing in class before voting for it.

W/ the correct early childhood learning focus I would happily vote to have the City roll it out. If they can't provide more details, then it will probably be the first education funding/ levy I've voted against.


Anonymous said...

I am strongly supportive of the idea of universal preschool. However, I don't think SPS should be involved in this - currently they have 99 problems and pre-k isn't one. There is no way that they can take one another major program - they can't even effectively manage the district as it currently stands.

Obviously we as a city need to discuss whether SPS should be involved in the universal pre-k proposal.

To side-step that for a moment though, I'd like to focus on the facts of this article. It seems incredibly damming, no matter what your stance is on universal pre-K, SPS involvement, and space considerations. Imagine for a moment that you are a person who believes SPS should absolutely form some sort of partnership with the city for this program. It seems to me that it would still be illegal for the district to re-appropriate funds that have been designated for other purposes (Title 1! Teacher Professional Development! Instructional Materials!) and use them for staff members' trips across the country - to something that is not within the district's core mission. You'd think they'd be a little more careful about funding issues after the Silas Potter scandal. Also, how useful do you think this trip actually was? I have a hard time believing that it helped SPS employees in any of their core functions.

-Faithful reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did let some reporters at different media outlets know about this story.

I will put up Herndon's report back to the district. It's been highly touted; I'm not sure I find it all that specific but you can be the judge.

Again, if you use longer than a two-word moniker, your comment will be deleted.

mirmac1 said...

I thought it was a bunch of platitude with no specifics about the programs he flew across the country to see. Just more of the platitudes we hear from the Chamber, LEV, and the City.

Anonymous said...

why was my comment deleted? (at 3:21pm)

are my initials (lp) not enough of a pseudonym?

my comment wasn't important, but I do want to know if it was removed because I did something incorrectly.


Anonymous said...

About monikers- do articles count?


Stop the madness


Smell the Stupidity


Vote No preschool

-- those would be deleted? Yes, an article or preposition such as 'the' or 'in' is a word, but I wondered about if the intent is two 'words' and you get an article for free.

Your blog, your rules.

And, THANK YOU!! Your endless efforts and work must be exhausting, dispiriting, crazy-making, exasperating and maddening. But, the value of your work is extraordinary, and your contributions are invaluable, critical, necessary and irreplaceable. Charlie said he never quit because there was always some fresh problem to out, plus the old unresolved ones to continue to shine a light on. You are relentless, but I can't think of a more worthy area to focus such a high-intensity vocation on other than public education. It really does matter, and it defines us as a society.


Does 'the' count?

mirmac1 said...

When in doubt, contract.

Just Saying said...

I support increasing access to prek for low income families.

However, we're involving SPS facilities, funding, curriculum, professional development, transportation etc. What about legal costs with potential lawsuits etc,? These actions require board oversight.

Jet City mom said...

Doesnt the city of Seattle offer support for low income families to find preschool?

When educators take trips to other districts, why is it always to the east coast?
Why dont they look to Portland, San Francisco or even Kirkland?

Anonymous said...

I get it: Murray and Burgess are shooting for waaaaaayyyy bigger targets: the White House and the Feds. One wonders if the end-game is, somewhere back in the deep recesses of their brains, to feed for life at the trough of the Majors aka the Fed civil service, like Ron Simms and Governer Locke.

Preschool is their passkey into the fed club? And, they are paying their dues to get that passkey by making someone else pay for their career climbing? They are doing it on the backs of k12 kids by diverting time/money/resources etc of SPS to a nonexistent mandate?

Sheesh. If Mayor Murray and Burgess want preschool, great. They should do it. Not sure about the need in The Highlands or in Madison or Laurelhurst; but hey, universal is universal, so I guess that's just another part of their brilliance I simple am too daft to understand.

Just like I dont get that neither Ken Gotsch or Banada intervened with a LOUD "NO!" to spending diverted money from budgets like Title 1. If there was no money, no Superintendent discretionary slush fund to pay for the trip, then misdirecting money from other pots is beyond not cool -- it is State Auditor time once again. And Blanford? Doesn't he get any of this? Does the phrase "K-12 public education" mean anything to him? And Flip? Could he grow a pair? This has all been delegated to him and Tolley, both should have said in clear unequivocal terms it would be nice to have, but, it can't be done right now. Their 'just following orders' shows them to be nothing but followers marking time til their next gig. If they won't speak up or out when they see something wrong, because they are too busy reading the political tea leaves rather than doing right by the district, then good riddance when they go.

But the City can and should do it, because preschool is critical for economically underprivileged children, so that would be an excellent thing for the City to do with their time, money, facilities, and resources.

No one has any problem with the concept of accessible, 'high quality' preschool for all. Many see the underfunded K12 system that is struggling now and have HUGE problems with the District being told by Murray and Burgess that this is now a highest-priority action item for them to deliver.

What about fixing bell times? What about fixing SpEd? What about middle school math adoption? What about disproportionate disciplin? What about the operating budget deficit? What about the high school crunch? Really, preschool, now? And the collective wisdom of 30+ staff warning more than $100k each in the Glass Palace, and not one of them, in plaine-spoken, clear language, can say, "No. We have zero capacity to handle this, we are scrambling as it is. We have phenomenal churn, and to many hot issues to fix with not enough staff. We can't add another unfounded mandate. This can't happen. No way. But you guys do it".


Anonymous said...

Equity will be easier with ALL kids getting preschool. It's that simple. This is a real mountain-molehill thing. I'm just waiting for someone on "the blog" to call it a "gate". Let's see... Pre-K-gate? Mission study-gate? How about inevnted-scandal- we got ours- not now, maybe later-gate?
Or, don't those poor people already have free pre-k-gate?
I mean come on, your precious APP program has it's ever-expanding group of "too bored for regular school" kids pretty well taken of, how about throwing a bone to the unwashed masses?


Art Lover said...

APP is funded by the state, and we receive federal and state funding for Head Start and the state program.

The district will be spending $1.4M on the city's pilot project and the city has NOT been provided.

We're not just looking at APP, here. We're looking at a district with approximately 50% of K-12 students living in poverty. We're looking at an unfunded city program.

Any effort to make this look like an APP issue- is stupid.

Art Lover said...

Clarification: APP is funded by the state. We receive federal and state funding for existing preschools within SPS that serve high poverty students.

The district will be spending $1.4M on the city's pilot project and the city hasn't provided funding.

Art Lover said...

Oh yea= the district was looking to take Title 1 dollars to fly execs around the states. That will help those kids living in poverty.

Why didn't the city pay for exec. travel?

Anonymous said...

Reading through these comments, SPS is and always will be the the bad guy no matter what it does. Burgess and Murray will get naught but mild rebukes and some sympathy for "trying." After all, it's not their fault SPS is such an awful mess. The politicos can't lose in this because as many wrote here, we all support early childhood education. While it would be lovely to have a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" moment here, Tolley and company are no Don Quixotes. Not if they want to continue to live and work in this town. It would be rather naive to think SPS and its board are somehow immune to the cynical political pressures at play here. Their best move is for the citizens to speak up as you have.


Ragweed said...

I think any competent leadership in this district should be very serious about cooperating with the city on the Pre-K proposal and finding space within existing schools to support universal pre-K - in exchange for a major committment from the city to find property that could be given/sold at a discount to SPS in order to build additional schools, as well helping to identify money for renovation / building schools.

If this were done as a true partnership, it could be a really great thing.

Disgusted said...

Perhaps the district can take down that ridiculous Academic Warehouse. How about the millions of dollars spent on research to throw a bone to the unwashed masses. Eh?

We had administrators screaming for a raise because teachers, that make 1/3 of administrators got a raise.

Perhaps we could throw funds, spent on administrative raises, to the unwashed masses.

Burgess felt it necessary to spend taxpayer dollars to take SPS admin out to dinner. Perhaps Burgess could have foregone the dollars spent on a nice bottle of merlot to throw to unwashed masses.

Anonymous said...

Astounding hypocrisy is displayed on this site where any bright child who isn't allowed to reach absolutely 100% of their potential causes outrage yet poor children should wait for pre-school until other pressing issues like bell times are addressed.

Van Gogh

Realist said...

I absolutely think the district should cooperate with the city, but the city needs to provide funding for administrative support, programs etc. The city will want the district to pick-up the bill.

Shall we see the district's proposed funding model that was city rejected because it was too high?

Wright has not been forth coming with the board. Why would anyone believe him?

The board should have any and all funding proposals reviewed by he state auditor.

Realist said...


No one said poor children should wait. The city should provide funds. The city is sitting on over $100M in F&E dollars.

What is the problem??

Realist said...

How about LEV funding the program until the city provides funding? Heck, Billy gave LEV over $4M to promote charter schools.

There is plenty of money out there. Why doesn't the Road Map project fund the pilot program? Remind me: How much funding did the Road Map project get?

Why doesn't VanGough feel the district should be reimbursed?? Ridiculous.

This reminds me of TfA. We have ALL kinds of groups, with PLENTY of dollars, pushing for initiatives, but they don't want to provide the funding.

Reimersement please said...

Lastly, the city funds EIGHT people to work on the pre=k program. Is anyone suggesting the city does not/ should not pay for this initiative?

Let's see: Eight full time people. How much do they cost?

Why does Van Gough not suggest the city, that is sitting on hundreds of millions in Family and Ed. dollars provide the $1.4M for the preschool pilot program?

Ed said...

I agree with Ragweed that this needs to be a "public" education initiative. That being said, all the chamber/corporate types need to be shut out.

As far as the budget games being brazenly played by staff, I can only quote Charlie: "Seattle Public Schools suffers from a culture of lawlessness. No one enforces the rules (whether they be superintendent procedures, board policies, state law or federal law), so no one bothers to follow them. Typically, no one even bothers to check them before making decisions - decisions which often violate the rules. This culture of lawlessness pervades the District and not only makes all kinds of abuses possible but actually encourages them."

Monica said...

This is the culture that Banda and his carpet bagging mindset has fostered here.

Anonymous said...

@van gogh

This isn't either/or. SPS IS responsible for k12, with some preschool (SpEd, Etc.). They don't have capacity to add another thing. But that's okay, because the City can do universal preschool --- this is their baby. They can do it. Problem solved. Wait - it wasn't a problem in the first place - it was a made-up false problem with false urgency. The City was deep into preschool planning 10 years ago - they can revive that work and move forward.

And Ragweed - given that AS1/Pinehurst k8/ Licton Springs was almost closed because of the crisis in the north of facility capacity shortage (Dominoes - Eckstein had 15 portables, Whitman had 11, Hamilton was over capacity at 1,100+ which meant Jane Addams campus AND a new middle school at Wilson Pacific was needed just to keep pace - which meant ESTEM K8 needed a new home as JA was being taken over, so, they took your home and they refused to cohoused with you on/in your property (nice!)... Meanwhile a highschool crisis looms and your preschool will now be housed at Sacagawea IN PORTABLES - 5 of them -- yes, and that's a special Ed preschool program... So I would think you above all people would know the district is out of space and the city, if the wanted and could help, would have done so already when Cascade Parent Partnerships was in a bit of free fall because kicking out NW Center (a preschool for special SpEd) was especially percipitous and created a backlash - that the City took sides on.

So yeah, there's no room at the inn, and this is a k12 system ( remember how even K STILL isn't fully funded?), and it still doesn't have enough classrooms just for the K12 kids; so adding 100 more classrooms for 3 year olds and 4 year olds, which is a mere fraction of what would be needed (that's 2,000 preschoolers out of 12,000 in the City), is not sensible. AND that doesn't take into account class sizes: if they are lowered a bit, just for k-3, then, 350 more classrooms are needed. You tell me where those are coming from. Portables? Not so fast: some school properties are saturated, and can't take any or anymore. And BEX IV isn't going to fix anything, it's simply troaging the worst problems in some of West Seattle and the North.

Preschools great. The City should put it's money where it's mouth is, literally.

And APP students, like Special Ed students (some are both), are general ed students too. They are K12 students and they get a seat. That is so stupid to bring this in, as if it has any relevance. The Diatrict has negative Homeroom capacity. Period. Adding 12,000 enrolled 3 year olds and 4 year olds is not workable. Maybe in Detroit, where they ate ploughing under schools, but not here.

-spread the word

Monica said...

"Spending exemptions" indeed!

This is the unadorned face of corruption.

Lord knows Ken should "push back" with every ounce of his office.

Thanks to you for revealing this putrid stuff.......

Melissa Westbrook said...

Picasso, funny how no one used "gate" as all except you. No one is against preschool but if you think this incident is a good example of successful public service, then you clearly see things differently from most of us.

Van Gogh (and anyone else), I have no idea why you are trying to pit different groups of children against each other. That is not the discussion here at all.

Reader47 said...

I got a response from a Board member on an email I'd sent on this matter - they wholeheartedly agreed that SPACE was the number one issue and that the Board members had let the Mayor in no uncertain terms there was no room and wouldn't be any for a long time to come.

Monica said...

I believe there IS space. The city needs to pony up some resources but our 'boom' will pass and there are already facilities that can be utilized.

Maybe the Chamber can pay for the Federal Building. That would help.

Ed said...

When will the state auditor wake up???

Thanks for bringing this to light.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The city needs to pony up some resources but our 'boom' will pass and there are already facilities that can be utilized."

I'll bite; where?

I would not support the district investing in the Federal Bldg if it's for preschool.

TransparencyPlease said...

Perhaps Picasso has a point. I recommend calling this:

Charles Wright Gate

Staff has been working on the preschool projects, with the city, for months. Staff reports to Charles Wright. Charles Wright does not inform the Superintendent' Banda complained that the district has NOT been involved in the process.

Shall we talk about the board retreat? Shall we talk about the fact that Charles Wright NEVER brought=up the district's work with the city during the board retreat? Shall we talk about the fact that the board has been kept in the dark? Sure sounds like Wright is the Gatekeeper, here.

Why wouldn't the district insist that this effort be funded?

Should we think it ok that staff had flown to Michigan- to research preschool curriculum on the district's dime? We're not talking about curriculum for neuroscientists. What about using those dollars for the "unwashed".

Should we look at the dollars the city is spending on BERC Consulting? Should we look at the data agreement that Charles Wright signed with the city? Should we look at the data sharing software etc. that the BERC company wants to align with the district? Why isn't anyone advocating that these dollars be used to provide direct services for the "unwashed".

TransparencyPlease said...

I agree with Melissa. There is NO reason to pit one group against another.

TransparencyPlease said...

I agree with Melissa. There is NO reason to pit one group against another.

Ragweed said...

@spread the word,

That is partly my point - SPS should help find space for preschool IF AND ONLY IF the city makes a meaningful contribution to SPS obtaining more schools. No help with the capacity crisis, no help with the pre-school.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Van Gogh was trying to put children in a pit to fight, he was pointing out the double standard of the adults who post on this blog. All children should be allowed to reach 100% of their potential but there is a a certain amount of anger and indignation that is lacking in regards to the missed potential of poor children who have no access to pre-k vs, the inability of APP children to achieve there highest level of success.
That's known as hypocrisy.

Chinua Achebe

Melissa Westbrook said...

But you miss the point - preschool is not the district's main mission.

Also, the district houses - in 31 schools - preschools thru Head Start, etc. So there may not be enough spaces but 1) not the district's fault and 2) yes, poor children do and can access preschool.

Anonymous said...

The very fact that they have pre-k in 31 schools makes the district the best entity to implement it for all who currently are without.
As I said, folks here on SSS get riled up about APP splits etc.(no performing arts space at WP, for example) but are OK with kicking the can down the road for a few years on pre-k issue.

Van Gogh

Anonymous said...

Van Gogh (plus all of your alter egos), let it go. You're comparing apples to oranges. There is no comparison between access to APP and access to preschool. School-aged children are compelled by law to attend school --- and since they are compelled by law to attend, the state is obligated to provide students with a basic education. Access to programs for highly capable students is part of the state's definition of basic education. Parents are justifiably indignant when a basic education program is denied to their children.

On the other hand, three and four year olds are not compelled to attend preschool and the state has no constitutional obligation to provide such programs for them. But more specifically, most of the commenters here have declared their support for universal preschool for all children in the city. The point they are making is that SPS is in violation of providing basic education to its current students and that asking the district to provide a service outside of its constitutional and statutory obligations is ludicrous at this time.

No one is saying needy 3 and 4 year olds shouldn't have access to quality preschool. No one.

--- swk

Disgusted said...

Van Gogh is just trying to pit communities.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Van Gogh, you are reading into this what you want. No one said to wait but the devil is in the details.

NONAPP Parent said...

...and the special ed. kids?

Art History Professor said...

Enough time to engage in financial shell games;
Enough time to travel to hear about pre-K programs in far off lands....

Not enough time to answers questions from those elected to set policy and direction for the school district.


I wonder if, during any of this, any of these wizards thought to ask how McCleary funding would impact pre-K programs.

McClearly, relying on legislative language concerning "basic education," applies to K-12 education. It does not apply to pre-K (or post-12).

Perhaps all their financial shell game skills to get the funds for the trip could be used to get to gleen McCleary K-12 dollars funneled into pre-K programs.

Yes, it would be nice to have a great world famous subsidized pre-K program. Yes, many of our city's children would benefit from a pre-K program.

But our District does not have the personnel or infrastructure to provide it. Nor does our district have the money to hire the personnel or build the infrastructure for it.

Olympia isn't going to be any help.

Focus. Change some bell times for the 55,000 you are already serving. Roll out your new math program. Take care of your core competencies...

Disgusted said...

Art History Professor,

The district has spent a lot of time playing shell games, traveling and looking to fund a
$1.4M pilot program for the city. They don't have the time to answer questions for the board. Their time has been spent creating a pilot program for 100 students. What about Seattle's 55,000 that are in underfunded classrooms.

I hope the auditor slams them.

Anonymous said...

all the wisenhiemers aught to go back and read the preamble. it don't say nothing about K-12, it says "education of all children".
and as I recall, compulsory school don't start until age 8 anyhow.


Film Professor said...

I'm not sure what preamble you are referring to, but the McCleary decision rests on the legislature's definition (rather detailed) of "basic education." Basic education, in the legislatures eyes, is K-12.

I'm also curious if funding a pre-k program only in Seattle would violate the state constitutional obligation to fund a "uniform system" of education.

Tax payers in Shoreline certainly shouldn't be expected to pay for preschool in seattle.

Alfred said...

Hitchcok attempts to make a ridiculous argument using the Constitution.

It is the responsibility of the legislature to define. The legislature defined and funded education K-12.

The Birds said...

Quick, quick call Ron English! There must be some argument English can make because the district won't be able to find the $1.4M the preschool program that they plan on running in 5-6 short weeks!!

Perhaps Timmy Burgess could use the city attorneys, too. Better for Timmy to fund the program. BTW- Did he ever get the Merlot out of his crisp white shirt? You know, the merlot he bought on the taxpayer dime when he took out district officials to SCHMOOZE.

Ragweed said...

@don't trust - United Indians of All Tribes has gotten funding from the Washington Department of Early Learning to reopen their pre-school program at Daybreak Star. I believe it will be operating in the fall.

Anonymous said...

Film Professor, Hitchcock, et al --- The McCleary decision rests in part upon the Washington State Constitution, Article IX, Section 1 - Preamble, which states: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex." Hitchcock is thus correct that the Preamble refers to "all children." But, that's not the end of the story.

Article IX, Section 2, Public School System states: "The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools. The public school system shall include common schools, and such high schools, normal schools, and technical schools as may hereafter be established."

The Legislature has been directed by the courts to define the "common schools" and they have done so, per state law: "'Common schools' means schools maintained at public expense in each school district and carrying on a program from kindergarten through the twelfth grade..." To wit, the common/public schools are K-12. Therefore, the "all children" referred to in Section 1 refers only to those children enrolled in public K-12 schools.

Additionally, the Legislature has been directed by the courts to define the program of basic education. They have done so but to include it here would be too much. Let's just say that "basic education" as defined by the Legislature includes only programs in K-12.

The "general and uniform system of public schools" clause essentially means that the state must provide a consistent and regular (and ample) system of funding public schools (in addition to defining the basic education program) --- meaning that the state must fund basic education, not local school districts through levies, etc. The state provides this uniform funding through the Basic Education Allocation or BEA formula plus any categorical funding programs under basic education such as special education, highly capable, transportation, etc. Students enrolled in public K-12 schools generate BEA and any categorical funds for which they might qualify.

Students participating in any preschool programs housed in public K-12 schools DO NOT generate BEA or any state categorical funding (except certain students receiving special education services birth through age 5). Therefore, Film Professor, Shoreline taxpayers will not be expected to pay for preschool in Seattle.

In conclusion, the McCleary decision and the state constitution is unrelated to the universal preschool program proposed by the city. This program is not basic education and cannot be funded using BEA.

--- swk

Alfred said...

The staff is unaccustomed to understanding that it is the board, not the school district, that sets policy and oversees district operations.

Ron English consistently provides arguments that lean towards district desires.

Banda did provide some enhancements to classrooms. However, those enhancements fall short when benchmarked to other districts.

Why do I want to look directly at Charles Wright and head of Strategic Planning on this one?

Everyone wants to promote the latest shiny penny, and no one wants to do the grunt work.

The board needs to get after this one. At this time, the board is failing to oversee district operations.

It is time for Burgess/ Miller/Murray to realize that they are acting like jack- ashes and provide the needed supports to the district.

Alfred said...

Lastly, the school district will be piloting 5 programs in a few weeks. What is the curriculum? Has the board approved this curriculum?

This is SPS's pilot and falls under the board. It is time for the board to look at this issue.

mirmac1 said...

swk, thank you for clearing that up.

mirmac1 said...

As far as I know, the Old Van Asselt pilot fell through because nobody coughed up $1.4M The two classrooms of half-day Sped Prek remain stuck in that building without any identified supports. Also Childfind, OT/PT therapy and offices. And three classes of 18-21 SpEd Transition students.

Joe Wolf, would you be kind enough to clarify the situation at OVA?

Lynn said...

Here's a list of projected classrooms for the 2014-15 school year for anyone who hasn't seen them:

Special Education

Other Classrooms

Monica said...

Lynn can you interpret that chart please?

How do I understand it?

Thank you.

Lynn said...

I don't understand the differences between SM1-4 classrooms - I think it has something to do with the staffing ratio. Every alternate page beginning with page two shows where we will have special ed preschool classrooms in the fall. The other report shows that we'll have 21 more general ed and six more APP classrooms next year than this year.

Anonymous said...

Only two schools still have Spectrum in the lower elementary grades. So, it appears Spectrum is dead. We bailed on Spectrum and am at APP now.


Lynn said...

Yes - after next year, only Lafayette, Fairmount Park and Whittier will have Spectrum. How's that for equitable access?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Midnight, good call on your part.

I know Whittier adm is pushing to get rid of Spectrum so this may be their last year as well.

#AQuestion said...

The Oversight Committee will consist of 4 mayoral appointments and F&E oversight committee. Aside from the superintendent and one board member, who sits on the F&E Oversight Committee.

Mayor holds too much power, here.

Melissa Westbrook said...

A Question, you point yet another reason I don't like the City's plan. I do not understand if it is a completely different levy why the F&E Committee (plus 4) would be overseeing it. I'm sure there is overlap but I think, at the beginning, it should be a new group (and/or with more Seattle schools' reps because there's where a lot of the heavy lifting with happen).

Anonymous said...

@Ragweed, So are the classes at Daybreak Star going to be ECEAP instead of Headstart now? What about their birth to 3 program? It's probably better to be ECEAP and not depend on Federal funding that could be yanked away anytime for blackmail for tax breaks for billionaires (sequestration, gov shutdown, barf!). But they had a birth to 3 program too, ECEAP does not fund that, are they getting money from the Fed for the birth to three program? That program is essential for the native community.


Monica said...

Really, given the lack of leadership shown by the superintendent the last several years, we don't blame staff in Early Education from seeking to learn more about what other cities are doing.

What seems worse are the machinations of the secretary (regardless of whose friend she is) who apparently works for Wright demanding that everyone hurry up and find ways to get around any semblance of fiscal accounting to find "spending exemptions" for her boss to do whatever he pleases.

I saw precious little push back from anyone and Banda just a rubber stamp. He was apparently busy looking for his next job.

Its shameful, lawless and hopefully the Auditor will help nudge Charles and his ilk, to California with Banda.

Taxpayer said...

I agree, Monica. Anyone that was responsible for shifting dollars needs to be audited/watched, too.

The lawless nature of the John Stanford Center has been going on for years and needs to be stopped.