Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Seattle School Board Meeting - Will the Board Say No to Gates?

Update:  I spoke with the Board office and they are likely to take five more people from the Speaker waitlist.  I believe President Peaslee may have some discretion in this area but that remains to be seen.

Also to note, it appears that the Mayor and the Superintendent will be appearing at Rainier Beach Boys & Girls Club this morning.  I have not been able to find out why nor does this appear on the Mayor's published schedule.  I have another meeting so I cannot attend. 

end of update

Looking at the Speaker roster, it appears that the topic is "P-5 Schools Aligned with Seattle Preschool Program."  Out of 30 spots, all are on this topic, except for 4 of them for the 2015 State Legislative Agenda and on on Lunch/Recess Times.  (I have one spot about the preschool issue.)

Then, there is quite a large waitlist of 30 people.  This may signal the Board may hear 10 more speakers as they tend to open it up if this many people are coming.  Those speakers are mostly wishing to speak on the Garfield staffing reduction/Latin program, a couple about Interagency location, and various other topics.

I had thought the speaker list would be more varied especially because of the data breach, Garfield staffing/enrollment numbers, and the Interagency issue.  But somehow all these people who wanted to talk about the Gates grant got there first.  

I find the main speaker list interesting as many of these names are new (which, of course, is a good thing) but I wonder if perhaps people are being asked to speak (rather than coming on their own accord).  We'll see.

I'll say here what I will tell the Board on the topic of the Gates Foundation grant in support of a preschool at Bailey-Gatzert under the City's new preschool plan.

Let's talk about the big picture.  The big picture is that the City - during the campaign - repeatedly said that they want, dying for a partnership with SPS on this preschool program.  They were never quite specific about what they want from SPS.

A partnership agreement would make this clear BEFORE any program comes into SPS.

Entering into a new program - no matter the early dollars - without that partnership in place is like diving off into a pool of water without knowing its depth.

To note, this grant would leave the district on the hook for costs at the end of three years.  It is VERY unclear what the City would continue to cover and what SPS would.  That should be a "no" right there.

Seattle Public Schools has an opportunity to use our institutional and academic expertise to lead this work and design a model high quality program. 
I have never read that SPS will be doing this.  Never.  The City said THEY were designing the program and may include the district but now the district is doing it? 
Red flag.

Allowing the PreKindergarten classrooms to be taught, supervised, enrolled, and supported, by Seattle Public Schools deepens the alignment opportunity and streamlines resources.
What? That is not what was said during the 1B campaign. SPS will be enrolling these kids?  Won't that be an added cost to SPS for enrollment services?  Who's paying for that?
And, when BTA III was approved, there was money to create a preschool classroom at B-G. It WILL happen without the Gates grant.

But since this preschool would be under the auspices of the City plan, then the partnership agreement MUST come first.  This is what the SCPTSA is saying. 

It's funny because I was just talking to the head of the City's Office of Education, Holly Miller, and mentioned this issue. When I said I thought the partnership should come first she said, "That sounds sensible."

School Board, please be prudent, sensible and fiscally responsible.  Say no to this grant.


Cindy said...

The grant indicates support for prek. However, P5 means many things and the board needs clarity.

Transparency Please said...

P5 is a broad term that includes prenatal-5 years old. From the Gate's grant:

"This investment will support implementing a P-5 campus at Bailey Gatzert Elementary in September, 2014, as well as expansion of the P-5 model with Seattle Public Schools (dependent upon available capacity). This investment will also support the following systems-building efforts: increasing capacity within the SPS Early Learning Department to develop a three year plan for P-5 schools, reinforcing principals’ P-5 pedagogy and leadership, collaboration with the City’s Office of Education to build a more robust PreK-5 working group, coordination with the Educare/White Center Heights P-5 campus in Highline Public Schools to benefit from their lessons learned, and improvement of regional communication systems regarding P-5 approaches. This proposal will support initial costs of implementation, with the understanding that Seattle Public Schools will identify sustainable funding streams."

Is it the intention of this grant to support prenatal campuses?

I've not seen a report from audit and finance on this issue.

I've not seen reports from C and I.

I am of the belief that the public should see reports coming out of the fore-mentioned commitees. From my perspective, it is inadequate to simply say:" Audit and Finance recommends this to the full board"

The Gate's grant comes in conjunction with the district's legislative agenda..which wants "education for all".

Any director that supports this initiative will prove themselves irresponsible.

mirmac1 said...


I expect auto-correct made "PreK" into "prenatal" in your posting.

But with the systematic tracking of our students, these days, you may not be so far off... : )

Transparency Please said...

P5 is a vague term. District documents must specify if they are talking about pre0=5th grade or prenatal-6 years old.

But, who will listen to me?

As we discussed both preschool initiatives, we know that the city's plan will only reach a small fraction of students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think the Board - like on the Federal Reserve issue - will say no.

It makes zero sense to do this (no matter how many sad stories they get told tonight).

Cart before the horse (partnership w/City versus Gates grant).

B-G does have a preschool and WILL be getting a new classroom for one under BTA III.

Movement is there but they need the partnership first.

And if Gates wants to take his money and stomp off, so be it.

Wondering said...

"Also to note, it appears that the Mayor and the Superintendent will be appearing at Rainier Beach Boys & Girls Club this morning. I have not been able to find out why nor does this appear on the Mayor's published schedule. I have another meeting so I cannot attend. "


Thank you for your work. Will the board president, or other board members be at this meeting? So nice of the district to extend work into private communities. It is also interesting to note that the Interm felt administration didn't have enough support.

Transparency Please said...


No, auto correct was NOT involved. P5 can also mean prenatal-5 years old.

Anonymous said...

According to brief piece in the Times re: Mayor's new public calendar: Not listed on the calendar for Wednesday was an 11 a.m. news conference about the Seattle Preschool Program at Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club. It was for media, Kelly says.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, it wasn't on his calendar yesterday.

I'm on both SPS and City's press release lists and got nothing from either of them.

I see tweets about this event from the City and yet the City had zero tweets about the State of the District.