Monday, September 01, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, Sept. 2nd
Superintendent Nyland will have a press conference at JAMS followed by a ribbon-cutting for the renovated school at noon.  He will also be at the ribbon-cutting for Fairmount Park Elementary at 2:45 pm.  (I'm taking ideas for questions to ask Superintendent Nyland.)

Wednesday, Sept. 3rd - 
 First Day of School

Superintendent Nyland will be visiting several schools that day including Rainier View Elementary from 9-10:30 am, then the World School from 11-11:30 am.  He will join World School students for lunch.

School Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda

I note that the family of the Garfield field trip victim is organizing a rally before the meeting and I expect a fair number of people to again press the Board to do more.

 They have a fairly long agenda but I suspect that they will whip right thru it as the Consent agenda (with an unusually large number of items) will be just one vote and the Action Items may or may not generate any discussion.

They are to vote on the Comprehesive Correction Action Plan (CCAP).  I would think from the attention from the story in the Times, that the Board might have some questions.  But the Board seems unwilling to truly press the staff on these issues so maybe not.  (The Times also had an op-ed about the difficulties for immigrant families to access Sped services.  What saddens me are that some of the issues are the exact same issues my husband faced decades ago when his family immigrated.  I would have thought that major issues - like dialect differences and asking children to translate - would have been addressed by now.)

Intro items (selected):

- one is the "redirection of selected lease and rental earnings to the General Fund."  As usual, I find the BAR confusing.  It's a procedural item (as they have done this before).  They want $2.6M for the General Fund from these earnings.  But mum's the word as to WHAT they are using it for.  Maybe someone on the Board will ask for an accounting of this spending.  (Seeing as you'd think these kind of building-related funds would go to actually taking care of our buildings and I'm pretty darn sure that's not what they are using the majority of funds for.)

- another one I find somewhat troubling (and I saw this at the Operations committee) is amending the Board policy on Holidays to add in a new law passed in 2014 and to add in a token new holiday.

In 2014, the legislature approved Senate Bill 5173, which amended RCW 1.16.050 to entitle school district employees to two unpaid holidays per calendar year for reason of faith or conscience or an organized activity conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization. (To note, employees already get two unpaid days so there is no cost to this one.)

In 2014, the legislature also approved Substitute Senate Bill 6078, which also amended RCW 1.16.050 to call out the Friday immediately following the fourth Thursday in November as Native American Heritage Day.
This one surprises me.  I thought that most Native Americans did not approve of Thanksgiving to begin with so designating a holiday the day after Thanksgiving seems tone-deaf to me.  (I missed the discussion in the Legislature about this so I may be wrong.)

Friday, Sept. 5th
Superintendent Nyland will be at the 9:30 am ribbon-cutting for Dearborn Park as it becomes Dearborn Park International School.

Saturday, Sept.6th
Director Peaslee's first Community meeting in many months.  It's from 3:30-4:30 pm at the Northgate Branch Library.

Odds and Ends

Hmm, the Seattle Times is conducting a survey about their "Education Lab"  ("you could win a $100 gift certificate").   I took it and they ask you how many individual stories you have read.  I was pretty surprised at the number of stories I either passed on or missed. 

Speaking of being heard online, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (you know the Common Core assessment our state signed up for) is asking for anyone to participate in their "Online Panel."  They say it will take three hours (but you can take two days to finish it).   I haven't done it but it appears you choose a content area/grade level (and contact info).  This will take place between October 6-17, 2014.

Communications has hired a new staffer to replace long-time employee Teresa Whippel.  Her name is Stacy Howard and some comes from Seattle U from Media Relations and has worked as an assignment editor at KOMO-tv.  She has a daughter in SPS.


Lynn said...

The BAR for redirection of selected lease and rental earnings to the general fund notes that the funds have been redirected to the general fund for several years and are already included in the 2014-15 budget. The resolution to authorize the redirection is required by law. I find it interesting that the resolution states WHEREAS, Capital Projects funds are sufficient to meet the demands for new construction and improvements. This is a requirement of RCW 28A.335.060.

My point is that I suspect they can only redirect rental revenues to the general or debt service funds if the district has sufficient resources in the capital projects fund to meet the demands of new construction and improvements. Clearly we don't have sufficient resources in the capital projects fund. See the minutes of the June A&F Commitee meeting for discussions of financing the modernization of TT Minor and this August memo on downtown school financing options.I also suspect the resolution should have been passed before the 2014-15 budget. No matter though - neither the board nor the superintendent are concerned about following the letter or spirit of the law.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good catch, Lynn.

Catherine said...

RE the Garfield mess: I ran across a quote shared by Rei on Daily Kos: "The day I'll consider justice blind is the day that a rape defendant's claim of "She consented to the sex" is treated by the same legal standards as a robbery defendant's claim of "He consented to give me the money": as an affirmative defense."

mirmac1 said...

The personnel report shows many teachers with a hire of 9/1/14. Any time preparing before must be on their own time.

I see the former K-5 STEM principal is gone. Same with the former public records officer

Charlie Mas said...

The revised school funding policy retains the language that called for the funding scheme to be transparent so families can understand how their school was funded.

Yeah. Try that with the Center School, South Lake High School, The World School, or The NOVA Project. They are not funded through the WSS and there is no transparency at all in how their funding was determined.

Sylvia said...

I'd love for the school board to get rid of Alliance for Ed. They have been less than partners. As a matter of fact, I'd say that the Alliance has a political agenda and they area a force that is used to create division and conflict.

I am tired of the Alliance working with the business communities, LEV etc. to attempt to silence the voices of parents and teachers.

Lynn said...

What I noticed in the personnel report is that whoever prepares it believes every K-8 school is an alternative school. Broadview-Thompson, Catharine Blaine, Madrona all hiring for alternative school positions.

Lynn said...

The Advanced Learning webpage was updated today.

Anonymous said...

The middle school portion of K-8s is an option school. I think that's why the K8s show up that way.


Lynn said...

The Services and Programs page of the Advanced Learning website includes this new information:

HCC (formerly APP) Schools (2014-15)

Grades 1-5: APP@Lincoln, Fairmount Park or Thurgood Marshall elementary schools
Grades 6-8: Jane Addams, Hamilton or Washington middle schools
Grades 9-12: Ingraham High School (Honors/Accelerated IB pathway), with Highly Capable Services offered at high schools Districtwide.

Has the superintendent decided that Garfield is no longer an APP school?

Lynn said...


They're listed in the Personnel Report as Alternative Schools not Option Schools. Alternative schools are defined by Board Policy C54.00. These schools don't meet that definition.

seattle citizen said...

I helped create C54.00. While all alternative schools are option schools, the reverse is not true. Alternative schools continue to struggle to maintain their identity. ONLY actual alts should be advertising alt positions (and there is, btw, a "alternative" endorsement available for teaching certs and alt schools might note candidates who have that endorsement.

Eric B said...


I haven't read the specifics of the financing plans for the TT Minor and Downtown School, but there has been discussion about taking out loans against BEX revenue to accelerate projects where the interest rates appear to be lower than the cost escalation rate of major construction. That gives the District the opportunity to move construction ahead of when the levy money comes in. That's a pretty reasonable scenario for using financing for projects, but that may or may not be happening here.

Melissa Westbrook said...

ERic, I did not hear this at viable from any Board member or from Flip Herndon at the Audit&Finance meeting. Who did you hear have this discussion (because Dr. Herndon went thru every possible scenario, including this one).

So APP is now HCC - was there an announcement of this?

Lynn said...


It was one of the task force recommendations. (They are available in the Friday Memos now.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, yes I saw that but I was unaware that the change occur.

As we know from the Math Adoption Committee (and seemingly some cannot accept the Board's decision to this day), taskforce recommendations aren't the final word.

Watching said...

Policy 6010 and revision:

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

I suspect this will allow for continuation of Urban Residency Program and each recruit costs $30K.

Lynn said...


In the case of advanced learning, Shauna Heath is the district. I'm pretty sure that the recommendations of this task force will be followed. There is no one else to approve or reject them.

Watching said...

A4E contract:

"Under this umbrella, AFE outlined three core investment priorities:
 Leadership Development: Supporting and developing strong effective leaders throughout SPS, including the School Board, Superintendent and principal corps
 Effective teaching: Supporting evidence-based contract reform and new teacher training and support initiatives
 Academic rigor: Investing in curricula and programs that set a high bar for all students and making college-ready a reality"

Excuse me, but the Alliance for education does not have any business deciding curricula and teacher reforms Curricula is the responsibility of the school board and teacher reforms fall under the jurisdiction of SEA.

We don't need A4E to act as a shadow school board.

The document goes on to say:

"Maintain communication with project managers to stay current with progress and providing problem-solving assistance as needed
k) Provide support to project managers on report development to assure substantive,"

Translation: Get funding from Gates and have SPS push Gate's initiative. Then, we hear "let staff lead" and "board is not to micromanage".

Lynn said...

You could ask the Superintendent:

1. When will Fairmount Park and JAMS have full websites up and running?

2. How many failures in supervision have occurred on Garfield field trips in the last ten years?

3. Will he be enforcing board policies for the nine months he'll be with us?

4. To whom should policy violations be reported?

Anonymous said...

Please ask how we are supposed to trust the schools to keep our children safe during school sponsored activities. When it is clear to parents that in the Garfield case existing policies were not followed and the solution is task forces and more policy rather than a plan to enforce existing policy, how can parents have any confidence that school employees will put our kids safety above their own convenience and reputations?

Also, ask if the district has a plan to come up with a comprehensive technology policy that addresses the reality of how Google is being used right now in HS and MS at the request of teachers and the implications surrounding data collection and our kids. It seems to me the technology is changing so fast that the district got behind on this issue. In a tech savy place like Seattle shouldn't we be ahead in this area? On a related note, whose job is it to teach Internet safety? Is that 100 percent on the parents or do the schools have some role in teaching our kids how to protect themselves online if they are the ones requesting that young teens and Tweens use Internet based services for school assignments?

Also, why was The Source down all Summer? Shouldn't parents have access to Spring test results sooner than the first day of school? And what is the point in sitting in an orientation where the teacher wants to tell you how he plans to use The Source but he can't bring it up to show you? Is this going to happen every year? A two week period should be more than enough. Again, we live in a town with fantastic IT talent. Is the issue with personnel or with the product itself?

Thank you Melissa!

Gen Ed Mom

Charlie Mas said...

I wonder what HC services are provided at high schools districtwide.

I like the idea of asking the superintendent if he will be enforcing policy, how he will be enforcing policy, and to whom policy violations should be reported so he can know to enforce them.

Stu said...


It looks like someone caught the Garfield APP omission; it's been updated as:

Grades 9-12:
Garfield High School (Accelerated AP pathway, with classes open to all students) or Ingraham High School (Honors/Accelerated IB pathway).

With Elementary and Middle APP schools now divided three ways, I still think they're on their way to diluting the numbers enough so they'll HAVE to get rid of self-contained classrooms.

One more split in the next year or two and then it's "we just don't have the numbers we need" and APP becomes what Spectrum was supposed to be. And, since principals can decide what Spectrum is, kiss that goodbye.


Lynn said...

Garfield's "Accelerated AP pathway" has been added to the list of APP schools. Can someone describe that pathway and what it offers that our other high schools do not?

More interesting to me is that the "Accelerated AP pathway" is available to some (but not all) HC students. How does the Advanced Learning office determine which students can access this unique HC high school program? The WAC says that: Each student identified as a highly capable student shall be provided educational opportunities which take into account such student's unique needs and capabilities. Will they be reviewing each student's unique needs and capabilities to determine whether they need access to the "Acclerated AP pathway" or if their needs can be met at their attendance area school?

Just kidding! Those were rhetorical questions.

Students at Ingraham are provided with a program designed for highly capable students and access to a highly capable cohort which helps support their social and emotional needs all the way through graduation. Oh and their counselors receive training in the academic and social needs of HC students.

Students at Garfield are provided with access to Marine Science, Genetics or Environmental Science as freshmen, access to a highly capable cohort which helps support their social and emotional needs all the way through graduation, and counselors trained in the academic and social needs of HC students.

At every other school, HC students receive access to counselors trained in the academic and social needs of HC students.

Any student identified as HC by the eighth grade can access IBX at Ingraham. Only students who were enrolled in APP at HIMS, JAMS or WMS needs the unique program available at Garfield. (If those students enroll at Garfield, their unique needs include the right to transfer to IBX for their sophomore year.) If you are homeschooled, attend an alternative school or private school in the eighth grade, move to Seattle after the first week in October of your eighth grade year or are just not identified until after the eighth grade nomination period, you don't need access to a highly capable cohort to support your social and emotional needs all the way through graduation.

That totally makes sense. It's super equitable too!

Anonymous said...

Garfield's "Accelerated AP pathway" is just what you say it is, Lynn--earlier access to a science elective, the presence of a larger highly capable cohort, and counselors presumably familiar with and trained in the academic and social needs of HC students (although I seem to recall counselors have too many students for this to really be meaningful anyway).

The continued use of "accelerated" in reference to APP/HCC seems to be a stretch, doesn't it? When it's really just a single subject? And remember, this exact high school scenario is what we now have at middle school, too. Middle school students accelerate in science, but no longer in LA/SS. APP/HCC has become almost wholly about the cohort, not the coursework. That may work for some, but surely isn't the best bet for many others.

At least the HCC name is more accurate now...


Anonymous said...

On another note, has anyone seen the results of that APP LA/SS curriculum review that Education Northwest was doing for SPS? I heard they submitted their report a few weeks ago. Is it available anywhere?


Anonymous said...

Why Marine Science, Genetics and Environmental Science before Chemistry and Biology? I would think at the least a basic knowledge of Chem & Bio is necessary for those three classes.