Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Just Jupiter's creepy eye (courtesy of NASA/A.Simon)
Looking at the Seattle Weekly, I was taken aback from the official photo of the former principal (for now) at the Center School.

There are no Director community meetings this Saturday.

Wishing all your little goblins and witches a Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow is Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday.  Seattle Center has weekend of activities.


Anonymous said...

its an artsy school and an artsy photo. Is there a connection to her handling of the student with the incendiary device?

Not Vogue

Melissa Westbrook said...

Unsure except the district says it was something about "protocols." I perceive the issue is around what was done or not done before the incident.

Anonymous said...

I think Not Vogue was asking if there was a connection between her photo and her handling of the incident. Or did I misinterpret?

Po3 said...

"The school effectively implemented their emergency plan on Monday, and I want to thank the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Center staff for working with us."

I have wonder if different protocols had been used the prior week by the principal the incident could have been avoided on Monday.

I also looked up the Staff Survey and see that the Center School principal ranks fairly low among staff.

I also have heard there has been a fair amount of staff turnover under her leadership.

And of course there is the Greenberg issue, in which I do not recall any public support extended by this principal, only staff, students and parents.

So seems like there is a lot going on with this principal that is impacting the school community. May be time for a change in leadership.

ben said...

I just assume based on some previous comments that the investigation is more around whether she ignored reports about the student prior to the incident occurring.

Meg said...

I can't line up high school enrollment numbers.

At the end of September, Natasha Rivers filed an enrollment report saying that there were 14,000 high school students (I'm assuming this is headcount).

Typically, high school enrollment bumps upwards by several hundred students between September and October counts (+562 in 2008-09, +296 in 2009-10, +383 in 2010-11).

The p223 summary of HS enrollment for the October count is 13,786, a DROP of over 200 students.

There are apparently 736 Running Start students total - 243 of those are "college only" (presumably full-time at a college). The 243 does roughly correspond to the drop. And frankly, the remaining 500-ish correspond roughly to the enrollment bump SPS typically sees at the HS level.

Did SPS make a mistake with Running Start students? Maybe? It's hard to say, because access to enrollment data is painfully limited.


JSCEE staff reports Garfield enrollment at 1,585 (AAFTE at 1,505). This is also weirdly low - Garfield's only dropped below 1,600 students once since 2001, and then it was by 5 students. Adding to the odd nature of GHS's numbers is that the gen ed waitlist was over 100 students (71 for 9th, 24 for 10th, 14 for 11th and 8 for 12th).

Do these numbers look off to anyone else? What do you think it might mean?

To me, it looks stange enough to merit careful examination and even recalculation.

kellie said...

I am also having a hard time parsing the high school data. I can't find a line item anywhere for running start counts in the head count report. I can only find them on the P223. Moreover, while the budget allocations show the contact time reductions for ELL and Sped, I can't find where the contact reductions time for Running start is calculated in the budget allocation.

Looking at high school numbers was another reminder of something McCleary needs to cover. Unlike K-8 enrollment, high school enrollment is not funding by the Oct 1st count. Instead high school is funded on the average high school enrollment with the presumption that the drop out rate means that you do not need as much high school staff.

In theory, this funding model is supposed to incentivize high schools to retain students so that they retain funding but .... In practice, it may very well be a chicken and egg situation where less staffing actually helps to create drop outs when there are fewer adults working in the building.

Just one more funding anomaly at the state level.

Anonymous said...

Hi. In case this is of interest to families...

The original screening at Thornton Place of I Am Eleven sold out but there was enough interest (from a showing on Tues in West Seattle and people who wanted to be notified if tickets become available) that the filmmakers added another screening in Seattle !!

Details below:
Tues 11/4 at 6:30 at Thornton Place IMAX
Link to buy tickets is here:

The screening has tipped so it's going forward.

The film

Do you remember when you were 11?

Australian filmmaker Genevieve Bailey travelled the world for six years talking with 11-year-olds to compose this insightful, funny and moving documentary portrait of childhood. From an orphanage in India, to a single-parent household in inner-city Melbourne, to bathing with elephants in Thailand, I AM ELEVEN explores the lives and thoughts of children from 15 countries. I AM ELEVENweaves together deeply personal and at times hilarious portraits of what it means to sit at this transitional age. These young minds provide us with a powerful insight into the future of our world.
These children share their thoughts on a range of subjects such as love, war, global warming, music, terrorism, culture, family, happiness, religion and the future. Each of their situations allows a single glimpse into a young mind, and combine to provide a powerful insight into the future of our world. As straight up and personal as the ’7 Up’ series, and with the comedy and honesty of ‘Spellbound’, this documentary enables us to explore an age where these ‘not quite kids, not quite teenagers’ briefly linger, between the frank openness and sometimes naivety of childhood, and the sharp and surprisingly brave wisdom and knowing of adulthood. As much as it is a story about them, it is a story with them, of what it is like to be eleven today.


Anonymous said...

Just listened to this rebroadcast
on TVW radio.


Anonymous said...

Meg & Kellie - assume you've seen these aggregate numbers as of 10/16/2014 on OSPI site?



Anonymous said...

@ Kellie and Meg

Were the running start kids factored into the October headcounts of high schools in previous years (prior to 2014-15)? Was there a way to find them in the enrollment reports?

If there was some change or regrouping that occurred this year, it seems this might impact high school enrollment/capacity, as well as the budget allocations?

North-end Mom

Josh Hayes said...

Just a nitpick: Melissa, you mean Day of the DEAD, surely? Not Day of the Day?

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Meg, Kellie

They, SPS are just having fun cooking the books! Heck, math is hard! Counting is difficult...

SPS clearly didn't like what the numbers were telling them, so presto change-O, they reclassified different kinds of kids into different buckets and then didn't count them. Neat trick!!

But it doesn't solve the problem for anybody. It actually makes it worse. If you can't see the bad news, you certainly aren't going to be planning for it. (Not that planning is something SPS typically does anyway even with good information).

The principle of Garfield told everybody at the PTSA meeting enrollment was 1,688. Say what you will about Mr. Howard, but I have a lot more faith that he knows how many kids are in his building then Natasha might. He is the one who's got to have a master schedule to get them credits to graduate.

Maybe the folks in the district spent too many years with every day math, so the diffuse and confuse methodology is all they really can cope with.

If Meg can't reconcile the numbers, it is because they are irreconcilable. That should be a GIGANTIC red flag.

Or maybe they could put a preschool in Garfield with all that extra space


Anonymous said...

Ditto on Meg and Kellie - if they smell odd numbers, the numbers are odd.

They know this stuff.

The Seattle Times AND downtown staff and the City better take a really hard look b/c something is wrong if Meg and Kellie can't line the numbers up. And if it's wrong at Garfield, you can bet it's wrong everywhere.

SEA should file suit of some type about these numbers - it should do something for its membership and file for an injunction to stop all teachers being let go until the numbers are fixed/clarified publicly. Perhaps a declaration from Meg or Kellie about the numbers? Because there isn't going to be a straight answer unless SPS has to produce someone under oath to a court or a judge, and verify the numbers.

The Principal says one thing. Downtown tells the state another. It's not that hard to count kids and get totals - seriously, accountability of kids, building keys, equipment, everything seems to be pretty darn low.

I'm seriously thinking this whole darn district needs a couple noncommissioned officers from the quartermaster corps to come in and just make accountability a priority. In the military, you sign personally for "stuff" that is your responsibility. Your car. Your computer. If you're in charge of an office, you sign for all the office equipment. If any of it goes missing, your paycheck gets dinged. Accountability gets pretty high that way.

And personnel accountability? VERY HIGH.

It sounds like SPS needs to improve on a heck of a lot of fronts.

Signed - tired.

Po3 said...

Seems like the numbers are off by 60 students? Seems like those are running start students who are dual enrolled.

That is the only change the district has indicated in their counting this year - they took RS students off the books.

Except they have butt in seat at least part of the day and need teachers.

Jet City mom said...

I didn't realize the Center school was an artsy school.
(But perhaps since Summit is gone, is Nova still around?, it passes for one)
But it is a very unprofessional looking photo. It looks like a head shot for a dating service.

cmj said...

The district has a serious problem with transparency, as the recent capacity issues have demonstrated.

Something I found interesting: someone asked Peaslee "What is the most crucial thing the school board needs to do to regain the public’s trust?" in 2011, while she was running for the School Board. She replied "Engage school communities in making all major decisions that impact their schools and children....Post all district documents to a website for public review." I would love to see Peaslee spearhead this initiative...but it's been three years and, well, campaign promises are rarely kept.

kellie said...

FWIW, I don't think anyone is "cooking-the-books." However, high school funding is pretty byzantine and a bit of extra clarity would be very helpful.

To be fair, a bit chunk of why high school funding is complex is because the State of Washington funds high school differently than K-8. Rather than funding based on the Oct 1 headcount, they fund on the AAFTE (annual average full time equivalent) and that is where many of the challenges arise.

On the budget and the funding allocation reports, there is a headcount and then a mysterious AAFTE without a calculation within that same document. I presume the calculation is somewhere, it is just not in the final document. The state then funds on that AAFTE number. The AAFTE was designed to encourage districts to improve the drop out rate by only giving funding based on the average of the students who start and finish school.

The SPS funding model is then a wee bit more transparent but still missing a few things. SPS then adjusts the AAFTE based on contact time. This is where they reduce the general education teacher allocation by the amount of time that running start, ELL and Sped would NOT be in general education. The numbers for ELL and Sped are included but not running start.

kellie said...

So here is the challenge.

Most people talk about enrollment in terms of the headcount. That is the number that PTAs report. That is the number typically on the enrollment services capacity reports and that is the number with which folks are familiar.

In the case of Garfield, there is an open question about that headcount number and how it is calculated relative to other years. The part that so many people are having such a hard time reconciling the number could simply mean that
* more people are looking than ever before or
* there was some sort of change in the way it was counted

As the capacity pressure continue to build at high school, more and more people are looking at the details in way that was just not true in prior years. This also happened with elementary enrollment and middle school enrollment. As it impacts more people, more people ask questions.

The way things get counted does change for good reasons. Mostly when the State of Washington makes a change in how they fund or want something reported. However, there is no way for an outsider to really know this one way or another.

Superintendant Nyland letter to Garfield was great in that he really put forth the logic for the teacher cut and based on that math in the letter, Garfield should lose a teacher. However, it also opened up a lot of questions on how those numbers are calculated. The school thought their enrollment was 1622 and the district thought it was 1586. The difference is a budget cut.

This then gets more complicated in that Garfield had over 100 students on the wait list. If Garfield's enrollment was so low as to put 2 full time teacher's jobs in jeopardy, one would guess that Garfield would have insisted that the wait list be moved so that they hit their enrollment target.

My best guess is that there is an explanation that has all this makes sense. It is just that it is almost impossible to parse that answer without the AAFTE calculation and the contact time calculation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"This then gets more complicated in that Garfield had over 100 students on the wait list. If Garfield's enrollment was so low as to put 2 full time teacher's jobs in jeopardy, one would guess that Garfield would have insisted that the wait list be moved so that they hit their enrollment target."

Excellent question.

"My best guess is that there is an explanation that has all this makes sense."

I actually don't believe that because if there were, staff would not be withholding data (and data makes the education world go 'round.)

Anonymous said...

From outward appearances, it seems that Garfield has accepted the District's decision without further challenge or discussion? Not sure what they could have done anyway....however, it seems that all has gone quiet?


Gross said...

The Gates funded Seattle Times...Edu Lab is getting into the habit of conducting polls. Of course, the polls favor Gate's backed initiatives such as elimination of teacher tenure.

Anonymous said...

KOMO News has a big report on neglect of SPS school buildings. Guess which one they focus on! Eckstein.


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