Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Seattle Schools Updates

Update from the School Board meeting tonight:

- There are 14 people signed up to speak so there are still open spots.  (Check with the Board office.)
- I missed that the Board is to get the "Internal Audit Annual Report" which I expect to be pro forma given the number of items audited.
- for the settlement item for the Garfield field trip incident, there is now a curious notation - 
(the Board has requested that this action item move to the end of the agenda so that all Board members are present).  I'll take a wild guess that not all Board members will be in attendance until later in the evening.  
- on the Intro item for the pre-K item (and hey, there's that word "universal" - funny how much disagreement there is from the ed reform side on what to call pre-K) 

This motion will be was discussed at the Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee meeting on October 13, 2014, and the item was moved forward for consideration by the full Board, with the change that the date of action would move to November 19, 2014. 
 
The Board was to vote on this November 5 but wisely, they have changed the date.  (To my mind, to vote the day after the election looks a little suspicious.) 

Operations Committee Meeting agenda for tomorrow from 4:30-6:00 pm.
A fairly modest agenda with nothing out of the normal.  

Operations Committee Meeting of the Whole from 6:00-7:00 pm. tomorrow. Agenda

- Growth boundaries implementation with grandfathering and transportation as well as maps. 
- Transportation service standards with "history of transportation reductions," final phase of implementation of NSAP and "Board direction for proposed changes for 2015-2016."  Are we talking about bell times? 

Sorry, no presentation yet available.

18 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Yes, the PreK boondoggle was pushed out at the urging of Sue Peters to consider the election results and to avoid getting SPS locked into anything it may not want or need.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Strange Board meeting so far. The order of things got thrown when not all of Chief Sealth's Mariachi band didn't show up. But they were wonderful.

But then it was announced that OSPI didn't have all the figures for the certification of the Operations levy so that was pulled.

Then, Director Blanford is not here (not sure why) so the Garfield settlement is postponed until after the Intro items. Then they will go into ex session to discuss and THEN back to the meeting to vote.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay so more clarity. After the end of Intro items, that ends the open meeting and then the Board will go into executive session over the Garfield settlement. I'll have to ask tomorrow about the vote.

mirmac1 said...

I believe the executive session is to address board questions that, after five plus months, have not been satisfactorily address, will be discussed during this time. I am glad that the majority of the board refuses to be steamrolled into holding their nose and rubberstamping staff's attempt to get rid of a problem.

mirmac1 said...

I want to thank director Carr and other directors who refused to be railroaded into this major financial obligation by the City or the downtown Chamber. Sounds like the resolution's rejection was pre-ordained. Good.

Anonymous said...

Which "major financial obligation" are you talking about?

Lynn said...

I'm thinking it's Resolution 2014/15-12 Application and acquisition of the Federal Reserve Building for a downtown school.

I wish they'd decided to take it and use it for the World School - but this is better than committing to spending that much money on downtown elementary seats.

Anonymous said...

so what happened to the 'downtown school' -- did the board *reject* approving the resolution? if so, yeah!

if that downtown building is what the staff wants, because they think it is THE crisis in the system that needs fixing, above all other problems, then they need to justify it with data -- not cherry picked data supplied by the downtown business developers so those developers get a school that can then be taken charter... oops - no way would that ever happen... anyway, until staff do that, define the problem in the whole system with real data, then thank goodness this board actually stood their ground and said no, no until you prove this is the problem that needs fixing the most, and, this is the solution that is the best, most economical fit.

really, this building is a solution in search of a problem. when those downtown parents cried about neighborhood school, they need to understand that nobody gets a 'neighborhood' school, they get an attendance area school, which is NOT the same thing at all. and, if they are worried about the densification of downtown, and how that will result in SO MANY families, well, maybe they need to get out more and check out what's happening in terms of development in west seattle or ballard; families will absolutely move into those family-skewed neighborhoods.

signed
what happened?

Melissa Westbrook said...

In short, the solution to "where's the money" for the needed renovation was not answered. Carr flatly rejected non-voted bond because, as I testified and Carr well knows, this district is way in debt for JSCEE and she will not go there. The rest of the Board knows her expertise on this. If some groups/businesses want to come up with the money, great. But there is none available .

Anonymous said...

thanks, melissa, but, please elaborate? did the resolution to get that building NOT proceed -- and if that is so, was it just because it was an unfunded mandate?


this may seem like quibbling, but, that is the wrong reason to vote no.

it should not have passed, but, not because of the lack of funds (or just because of the lack of funds), if it was urgent, they could justify with a strong, data-back narrative to the voters. It should have been voted down because it had NO strong, data-back narrative for why this was imperative amongst all of the other total capacity problems. High school north is a quantifiable problem, and, staff haven't not explicitly spelled out a plan to deal with in (at least, not in public) ( in private? high school in shifts is being planned). In fact, staff have not clearly delineated the scope of what specific capacity problems the district as a whole is facing (type of problem, location, timing of when it hits -- you know, basic details needed to define and triage).

so, did this get voted 'down' by not passing? what was the vote? 0-7 in favor of the resolution?

what happened?

Anonymous said...

FYI, I just thought I'd pass on this link to Highline bond issue. We transferred from SPS to Highline, and have found communication so refreshing. They have been very open and transparent about the capacity issues there, and seem to have a clear plan. Also of note, they have a mobile app for all communication, which reaches more families, as not all of the population have computers and internet at home, but most have smartphones. (Can translate to other languages as well). Seems like a good thing for SPS to do. Anyway, here's a link to the bond plan, with two brief videos explaining the problems and the plans:
http://highline.schoolwires.net/building

-Rare Commenter

mirmac1 said...

Pardon my shorthand. There was no vote last night. But if you looked at Richard Best's and Flip Herndon's faces, there may as well have been.

The resolution would grant the interim Superintendent the right to obligate this district to millions in debt. To me, that is reason enough to reject this resolution. As we have seen Supts come and go. As I told the board, they and those boards that follow them, will get to deal with this heavy financial burden.

Cherry-picked data is right. Did you know that the school-aged children living in the downtown core jumped by 25% last year!!! That would be from 38 to 48 students. oMG! And that adding to Lowell, BG and Hay will cost millions MORE than remodeling the concrete bunker on 2nd Ave. Except if you leave out Lowell and its total upgrade to present code your costs go down sharply (thank you for pointing that out Director Peaslee).

So I guess I jumped the gun on the whole "reject" thing. Just watch the video when it is posted. Now who wants to wager that this won't get pulled from the action agenda November 5th so that the City, Chamber and Times can pound the "dysfunctional" board for turning away "freebies".

Anonymous said...

@ Mirmac
“Cherry-picked data is right. Did you know that the school-aged children living in the downtown core jumped by 25% last year!!! That would be from 38 to 48 students. oMG! And that adding to Lowell, BG and Hay will cost millions MORE than remodeling the concrete bunker on 2nd Ave. Except if you leave out Lowell and its total upgrade to present code your costs go down sharply (thank you for pointing that out Director Peaslee).”

Cherry Picked Data?! First, the number of students you're citing is only a small portion of downtown. Second, even if capacity was only added through Bailey Gatzert and John Hay (leaving out Lowell), the cost per additional student is still $95,037 vs. only $80,616 per student in the Fed Reserve building. Why didn’t you mention that?

@What Happened?
“not cherry picked data supplied by the downtown business developers so those developers get a school that can then be taken charter... oops - no way would that ever happen...”

Maybe I’m missing something. Melissa has dedicated significant effort promoting the idea that the a downtown school at the Federal Reserve Building is more likely to taken over by a Charter School than any other Seattle school. I too would be against this; however, none of the examples she gave seem to represent our situation in Seattle (please do a little digging into each of the examples) and I find nothing specific to the downtown/Fed situation in 1240. Again, maybe I’m missing something here. Specific legislation relevant to the claim would be helpful.

-Downtown Dad

Anonymous said...

The Federal building school is one of the worst ideas to ever come out of SPS. Potentially 100s of millions into a screwing old building, come on man! Bus the 50 kids 2.5 miles to another school and stop the insanity.

Did they spend the 5 million yet to study just how stupid they are?
I they fire the JA that came up with the idea?

Also, I see the Garfield parents filed a 2.5 million dollar claim, but settled for $700,000 which comes right out of the general fund. There is no insurance company involved, just my tax dollars going out of state.

I'm all for funding of schools at an appropriate level, but it looks like SPS just can't manage my tax dollars correctly.

Is anyone accountable for anything at SPS and don't let this Nyland guy fool you, he's not what people think.

Let AmazonPay

Melissa Westbrook said...

First of all, I am one person with a life beyond this blog. If you are that concerned with the discussion - it was an Intro item so no vote - then go watch the tape.

"Melissa has dedicated significant effort promoting the idea that the a downtown school at the Federal Reserve Building is more likely to taken over by a Charter School than any other Seattle school."

That is complete nonsense. Name the "significant effort." I was the first one to say YES to the initial idea (and not Flip Herndon).

mirmac1 said...

Why didn't I mention cost per student? Well, probably because I didn't hear it last night, and I was listening closely. I went back to see previous presentations (and I have posted many) and see no apples to kumquats comparisons.

Cherrypicking 1/2 of the BG area as an "assignment area" for downtown is bogus. But, if you want to go down that road, the cost per student for capacity we need now (not 2022) is hardly a bargain at $1M per downtown student. I am looking at the sparsely populated area within .5M of the Fed building. Until then, we use the LIMITED means we have to try and treat the hemorraghing in the North and SW.

So, no, I don't feel chastened by the few downtown boosters and parents. And I think the majority of board directors agree with me. Ask Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, Matt Griffen to open their checkbooks.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa
“That is complete nonsense. Name the "significant effort." I was the first one to say YES to the initial idea (and not Flip Herndon).”

By “significant effort” I was referring to the post you wrote titled ‘Downtown School; Maybe Something Deeper Happening’, the other times you brought the topic up on this blog, and the comments you made on other blogs. Here are a few excerpts from comments you posted on other blogs.

“As well, there is always the possibility – as happened in Denver – that the building would become a charter school. Under the Washington state charter law, it would be possible for Seattle Schools to renovate the building and start a school only to see it taken over by a charter group. That would not be a good outcome and yet, it’s possible.”
-Sightline

“- there is also the issue of the possibility of the district renovating this building only to see it taken over by a charter school (this is possible within Washington state’s charter law).”
-The New PS

The effort you put into this blog is not lost on me. But just like you push school board volunteers to do the best job possible, I would say the same you. And again, if I’m missing something here let me know, I’m only human.

-Downtown Dad

Anonymous said...

Why this presumption that we WON'T be asking Amazon, Bezos, Allen, Selig, etc. for financial support for the new school? I think everybody who wants to see a school downtown recognizes that we're going to have to get creative, make partnerships with the community and key individuals/organizations, work Olympia, etc., etc. Because the benefits of a downtown school go way beyond education, the other beneficiaries—the City, downtown business, etc.—should also pay. Not 100%, but a significant portion. I said as much when I testified at the last school board meeting: this project will need philanthropic dollars, and I am confident they will be there!

But only if the School Board first votes to accept a $30M GIFT from the federal government. If you accept the fact that the downtown neighborhood is growing rapidly (and it is, despite the naysayers) and will continue to do so (which it will), then we have to take advantage of this opportunity. The District's $50M estimate to rehab and renovate the building is conservative—i.e., it overstates the cost. But even accepting the District’s numbers, it means starting from scratch will cost at least $80M! If we’ll need the seats in the next 5-10 years, and even the conservative estimate of the cost per student is lowest at the Federal Reserve Bank Building (consult the materials for the Board’s aborted 10/8 work session), then how can we pass this up without thoroughly exploring it?

If the Board votes against proceeding with this project, what it’s really saying is that we don’t need a downtown school. Not now, not ever. The demographics—not just in Seattle, but in cities all over America—strongly suggest otherwise. Downtown kindergarten enrollment in SPS was over 70 in 2012, double what it was in 2007. Unless those parents move (probably for the schools), only a few years after concluding that $50M was too expensive, the Board will have to try to find $80M to build downtown from scratch.

Big Steve