Monday, August 18, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, August 19th

Audit& Finance Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda
Wonder if the Committee might consider where money was taken for the various staff members to go off on their preschool junket.

Update: Wonder no more, there is nothing on the agenda about the preschool junket or replacing those funds from the various sources that were used to fund it.

Lots of interesting items like:
- redirection of selected lease and rental earnings to General Fund (because, really, why do buildings need maintenance?)
- policy for unpaid holidays for reason of faith or conscience
- restrictive covenant agreement terms review
- downtown school financing options

Wednesday, August 20th
School Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm.
I am aware that a rally over the Garfield field trip rape is to occur outside of headquarters right before the meeting at about 4 pm.  Supporters of the student and her parents are also likely to be at the meeting.


Selected Action Items

There are a couple of items related to the starting-up of school including the renewal contract for fresh produce and contract for milk/juice products as well as ORCA cards.

One interesting thing about the ORCA cards is that the cost is about $2.4M but 95% of that comes from the state with the remaining 5% coming from the Operations levy and state general funds.  (I had thought the district paid much more of this cost.) About 7500 students use ORCA cards. Additionally, the new ORCA "Business Passport" is based on "actual student-per-ride usage from the prior year." 

Other start-of-school-year items include various contracts for services to students from Seattle Children's Hospital, various birth-3 years old agencies, UW Experimental Educaiton Unit, Fairfax Hospital, Overlake Hospital, and the Children's Institute.

There is also an Action item for the Public Works contract for purchasing, moving and setting-up of various portables.  I note that the original contract was for just over $876K and there were over $325K in change orders.  That's a pretty high number for change orders.  The contract was for 30 portables at 18 schools.

According to the change order document, most of the change order work was relocating 13 portables to seven schools.  And, for some reason in the contract, four portables were purchased but costs for locating them were not added in.  How do you miss that you'll be needing to install portables?

There is also an item about a new boiler at Broadview Thomson and new burners at 15 schools.  It appears this was partially paid for by an OSPI Energy Grant Fund.  It appears that Wilson-Pacific is getting one of the new burners.  That confuses me that they plan to tear down W-P and then, what? Save that new burner?

I also want to note that the district is NOT providing full budgets on these items.  I think a document that basically says, "This was the budget" with just the total, sales tax, etc. IS not a budget.

There is also the contract item for Dr. Nyland.  It is interesting because Dr. Nyland is asking to be paid a daily rate for actual days worked, rather than salary plus benefits.That daily rate is $1,537.41.  That daily rate is for 260-day year, minus 42 days for vacation, holidays, and personal days.  It allows for one sick day per month that can be cashed out if not used. 

The attached contract takes the annual compensation that Superintendent Banda received, including salary and employer paid benefits, and divides that amount by the number of days to be worked by district senior management. The annual total is 218 days, which reflects a 260 day year, less 28 days of vacation, 12 holidays and 2 personal days. Under this contract, Dr. Nyland will not receive paid vacation, sick time, holidays and will not receive any medical/health or pension benefits.

The contract is thru June 30, 2015.  If Dr. Nyland choose to leave, he is required to give the Board six months notice (but there is no penalty if he doesn't).

- Naming the new building at the Decatur site, Thorton Creek School.  This seems to have widespread school and community support.

Selected Intro Items

- amendment of Board policy 2015, on Selection & Adoption of Instructional Materials to include a beefier bullet point bias in materials:

Eliminate in all textbooks and instructional materials, including reference materials and audio-visual materials, bias pertaining to sex (gender); race; creed; color; religion; ancestry; national origin; age; economic status; sexual orientation including gender expression or identity; pregnancy; marital status; physical appearance; the presence of any sensory, mental or physical disability; honorably discharged veteran or military status; or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. 

- amendment of Board policy 6010, on School Funding Model.  This particular BAR is quite vague and less-than-fleshed out.  The amendment itself also has some less-than-clear wording like:

Provide the basic staffing for school - adjusted for substantive size differential considering non-instructional costs.

Would someone like to take a stab at what that truly means?

Then it includes "based on data," providing staff to aid with students in poverty, bilingual students, SPED students, highly capable and another category "academic performance levels."

I don't know what that last one means.

Then, there's this new line "Invest more resources in early learning (K-3)Glad to see that the district is sticking to its core mandate that does NOT include pre-K.

And last:

Provide continuity of programs by attempting to retain core staff levels from year to year.  

- extension of the current MOU with the Alliance for Education until October 2014.  The Alliance appears to want to create a revised MOU by November and have it approved by the Board in December.  It does not say why they want a new MOU or what would be in it.  It states that there would be a "engagement process" (this under Community Engagement in the BAR) and I have to wonder if that would really happen. 

Still in the MOU:

The District currently reimburses the Alliance for the school account work, not to exceed 7.5% of the total school activity for the year. The current MOU raised the cap to not exceed 7.5% of the total school account activity for the calendar year. While the amount is expected to change each year, because it is based on total account activity, it is expected that annually this amount will fluctuate around $120,000. The funds for this reimbursement will continue to come from the District’s operating budget. This, as well as the 15% indirect rate for grant management, will be reviewed to determine if these rates are reasonable and should be continued. This motion would extend the MOU from September 1, 2014 December 31, 2014. 

From Background information:

While the District and the Alliance are independent organizations, the intent of the relationship is to have long-term relationships with the Superintendent, other administrators, teachers, and the Board. The stability of this relationship can transcend the traditional personnel churn that is seen in urban districts and can provide assurance to funders and the business community that the District remains on track with our goals. Furthermore, the Board President and the Superintendent, as non-voting ex officio members of the Alliance’s Board, help ensure alignment between the Alliance’s projects and the District’s overall goals. 

Where to start?  

First, you'll note the neither the Alliance nor the district mention parents.  As well, the concern seems to be over the money the Alliance gets from "funders" and "the business community."  Well, that may be the Alliance's concern but that should NOT the district's concern.  PTA puts in thousands of dollars into the district as well and yet the district seems more concerned with its relationship with the Alliance.

"That the District remains on track with our goals."  The district is supposed to be on track with the Alliance's goals?  I continue to remain amazed at the aggressive nature of the Alliance in defining what the district should be doing.  

- C-CAP Plan and costs.

Thursday, August 21st
Operations Committee Meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm. Agenda not available.


Watching said...

"There is also the contract item for Dr. Nyland. It is interesting because Dr. Nyland is asking to be paid a daily rate for actual days worked, rather than salary plus benefits.That daily rate is $1,537.41. "

Staggering number.

Anonymous said...

$399,726.00 a year. You have got to be kidding me. The job is worth $175K
a year max.

Stop stealing

ConcernedSPSParent said...

The way I read it this is the same as Banda cost the district. It looks alot but that is skewed since he receives no benefits and gets paid for 206 days per year.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that the Alliance MOU re-write is to wait until after the Pre-school vote and then they have some role in Pre-K "alignment" or some such thing.

Also echo the concern around the language of that contract. When did SPS become beholden to the business community? When did SPS stop being a public institution where the business community sets the goals and agenda?

Oh wait, I know. It was when corporations and the uber wealthy got really good at avoiding their taxes so that the state can't actually meet their paramount duty to fund education, and instead they direct the funds into foundations that pick pet projects like Pre-k and South Shore elementary with its 15 kid classrooms to make them look like education saviors...

ugh. This is disturbing. Is anyone on the board noticing that someone has been working preschool into EVERYTHING that the district is working on?


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Aug. 20th School Board meeting:

There will be a contingency protesting sexual assault in Seattle Schools. The media will be there, we've been informed. The family of the Garfield rape victim cannot attend because we are trying to protect our privacy despite the District's violations of FERPA by disclosing our name and address in documents dispensed to the public and the media. Retaliation has been an issue from the moment the assault was reported, and it should have been promptly pre-empted by the School District under Title IX laws. It was not, and this is one facet of the investigation of the Seattle District by the US Dept. of Education, Office for Civil Rights

We also wish to remain anonymous in service of other victims/students without calling attention to selves. We are working 24.7 around the clock to Stop Sexual Assault in High School.

--Parents of the Victim

Transparency Please said...

The city's prek program is actually prek-3. It is still worth keeping an eye on this issue.

I'd love for nothing more than for the board to distance the Alliance from our schools. I'm thinking that SPS needs to remain a self-governing body. I'm becomingly increasingly concerned about the city and the Alliance's role in policy development.

I'll need to read materials related to Alliance, but I'm certain the devil is in the details.

mirmac1 said...

I found it interesting that the original wording for the Board Policy re: School Funding Formula originally included wording to the effect of: "Invest more resources in early learning (PreK-3)"

Fortunately, board members pointed out that the District's mission is K-3, and directed staff to reflect this in policy language.

This is how staffers and the City puppetmasters have tried to insinuate PreK into our district!

Anonymous said...

Why are we getting a "temporary interim superintendent" placeholder-bookmark for a year?

This district has severe issues going on right now.

Remediation od these issues is not best dealt with by a temporary.

It just lets the staff run amok, with nobody 'owning' any decision but yet plenty of decisions will be made. Rather like when Banda-where's-Waldo was here.

Is anybody going to fix SpEd? Get a real middle school math text adopted? Answer the City about PreK (as in: NO, not here -- you City guys provide it). Fix Wilson Pacific? Deal with critical shortage of high school seats? Disproportionate discipline? The train is heading off the rails NOW. REAL decisions need to happen now. With Mr. Wright, Tolley, and Dr. Herndon, decisions will be made, but expedient ones, or career ones.

We will all be here STILL once these guys have cycled through.

This district needs a permanent, well-suited, senior leader who is not in it for the $$ or prestige or career climbing notch.

1 year is too long to dance with a book mark.

Too many things will slide, things that won't be repairable.



Melissa Westbrook said...

"It just lets the staff run amok, with nobody 'owning' any decision but yet plenty of decisions will be made."

Amen. I like Dr. Nyland but I worry he might just be a placeholder (although his record is quite active including the last year). I don't think he will be as passive as Banda (but, he is the new guy and may defer to other senior management).

I'm sure some senior staff see this as a power vacuum (and including Councilman Burgess and others in the City leadership) and may take advantage of it.

" Rather like when Banda-where's-Waldo was here."

Ha! Laugh of the day.

Anonymous said...

The Highly Capable Students Program State Grant is on the agenda, and a copy of the application is posted. I don't see any mention in the BAR that the district is required to have a HCP policy, which they don't. Rather, staff have checked the box that says they agree with the assurances, even though the assurances clearly state the district must have a policy. Will directors sign off on this application even if they know that's false?

Also, does anyone know where to find OSPI's definitions of the types of programs/services provided? I can't find anything. SPS has a lot of things checked, but sometimes the distinctions aren't crystal clear and it's hard to say if all really apply. For example, SPS says GenEd classroom-based services for HC kids include the following, for grades K thru 12:

Curriculum Compacting
Differentiated Instruction
Flexible or Cluster Grouping
Independent Projects
Content Acceleration in General Ed Classroom

How many of these things really happen in GenEd, and at which grades? What's an example of the curriculum compacting that occurs in middle or high school classes?

For Acceleration Services, there's something checked called "Credit by Examination." That should refer to the ability to test out of a class, to get credit for it without having to actually take it. Do we actually have that, for grades 9-12? Advanced Placement (AP) is also listed for 9-12, but 9th graders are no longer able to take AP classes, are they?

Any other areas in the services tables that are "over-checkmarked"?

Finally, the application also continues to rely on that tired old description of the program, that it "provides a rigorous, accelerated curriculum in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies" and that the "curriculum is presented at a significantly accelerated learning pace." SPS just eliminated most of the acceleration portion of the program at middle school (all except science) and high school (except IBX), so that description doesn't seem to fit anymore. (And don't you love how they refer to "the curriculum" as if there really is one?! If there is one, why can't anyone at the district office or our school provide any info on it, after months of inquiries?)


Anonymous said...

Sounds great on paper!

OSPI has a guide for districts, CRITERIA FOR EXCELLENT PROGRAMS FOR HIGHLY CAPABLE STUDENTS. It's from 1999, so some components may be out of line with the current WAC, but it's still a pretty good checklist for districts.

Some items that SPS should address to strengthen services:

4.6 There is a defined and implemented curriculum that provides for scope, sequence and articulation with service or building levels.

4.10 There is a comprehensive program evaluation conducted at least biennially and includes:

A. Use of pre- and post-test data
B. A survey of parents with students in the programs
C. A survey of regular classroom teachers
D. A survey of administrators
E. A survey of students served
F. A program review committee

Organized feedback from parents, students, and teachers sure would highlight areas of improvement.

happy reading

Anonymous said...

KIRO, KPLU, and KOMO are covering the Aug. 20 school board rally to protest sexual assault in high school. They want to talk with parents and students tomorrow. Family of victim requests signs with appropriate statements.

Details with online links to be posted:


mirmac1 said...

Having reviewed the district's "investigative report" of staff actions both before and after the Garfield sexual assault incident, I must say I am no longer surprised by some staff's ability to explain away their incompetence and malfeasance. Plus there is no shortage of consultants, attorneys, and investigators who will assist with this delusion.

I am appalled by the ***-covering by Ted Howard, and those in a position to protect our students.

Every adult at GHS and JSCEE is blameless.

Anonymous said...

Miramac1, I can't seem to access that document from the link. Is it set to private?

a parent

Transparency Please said...

"This is how staffers and the City puppetmasters have tried to insinuate PreK into our district! "

I agree, Mirimac. SPS staff needs to advocate for the city to fund preschool. The city will be receiving millions of dollars via initiative, Family and Ed. Levy, Head Start and other sources.

It is just silly for district staff to offer funding. Then again, there is a reason Burgess is taking SPS staff to dinner.

dw said...

re: the district's "investigative report" of staff actions both before and after the Garfield sexual assault incident

I just read the entire posted document, and it is indeed troubling. But I'm seeing a different "order of blame".

At the top of my list is Westering. The trip was his responsibility and it's his signature all over the documents. His excuse is basically that he didn't know what he was doing, but that's no excuse for craps sake. You get paid big bucks to be an AP. Man up and learn what you need to know!

Next are the 2 teachers. They were also coordinators of the trip, and they brought their kids, which is expressly forbidden. At least one of them managed to list their kid on the form, the other didn't even do that. If something had happened to that child on the trip, who would have been responsible? For that matter, did all the student permission forms even get filed before the trip? The teachers were on site and let things get out of control The whole thing was terribly managed by the AP and teachers.

Next up is Kaiser. What a bunch of bullshit research reports. Of course he's paid by the district (right?), which means he's doing his job to protect the district. But someone independent needs to be reviewing the documents and his reports because they are so slanted it's not funny. At some point attorneys should be held liable for bullshit reporting when it adversely affects students. My guess is this part isn't over, but that's just speculation on my part.

Next up is downtown. They didn't really follow through on procedures, gave crappy advice, and once it was clear what happened, they were (and are) probably running the show. If you think anyone in the building has been cleared to do or talk about anything that endangers the district's position, think again.

Lastly, I do think Ted Howard can share some blame. I think he could have handled things differently (though I doubt he had a lot of freedom once downtown got involved). Where I think he bears blame is that it seems like there had been lax policies in past years leading up to this event. Frankly, I'm not sure who is responsible (sometimes these things are done with a wink of the boss, sometimes they are done behind the boss's back), but you need to set the tone that rules are to be followed, with consequences if they are not.

At the end of the day, someone should bear some responsibility for this! There's room to disagree, but personally, I think Westering should take the fall and the 2 teachers should get serious reprimands in their files. Right now it's not clear that anything is going to happen to anyone, other than the victim, and that's unacceptable.