Tuesday, December 02, 2014

No Matter What the Rhetoric, the Question Remains: Is Nyland the One?

The Times had a brief article last night when the news broke about the one-week extension for public input on the appointment of Superintendent Nyland to be the permanent superintendent which has now expanded and there are some very interesting quotes.

The action slated for a special meeting of the board on December 10 at 4:30 p.m.  The Times says the Board hasn't decided if they will allow comments.

- apparently there will be discussion at the Board meeting Wenesday when this is introduced.  (Normally, the discussion at Intro is limited so we'll have to see.)

- The district has this e-mail for "interested parties" to weigh in - SchoolBoard@seattleschools.org.

- The Times notes that Nyland came from Marysville, serving nine years there.  I'm finding some very telling stories out of Marysville that may be clues to the kind of superintendent he may be.

- Peaslee said the board usually introduces and votes on superintendent job offers in the same meeting and that Nyland’s would have been no exception.

Yes, that is true but under normal search circumstances or an emergency.  This is nothing but an installation.

“But because there was no public process leading up to this vote, we are delaying action for a week so that people may weigh in,” she said.

Well, at least she's admitting there was zero public process.  How about admitting zero public notice?

Whether public comment will be taken at the special meeting Dec. 10 has not yet been decided, Peaslee said.

So a week of comments and then none?  On the most important decision the Board makes?  If that's the case, NO ONE should show up next week and just let it be an empty room with just suits and the Board.  Maybe that would send a message.

The Board had nice things to say about the Superintendent in the evaluation and said Nyland had "clarity of vision."  If that's true, I'd have to ask, "Whose vision?"  because I have listened to Nyland speak many times and spoken with him privately a couple of times and have never heard him express HIS vision for our district.

The Coffee Chat (fairly rough notes, sorry)

It started with me getting there early and seeing the Superintendent wandering the halls (he got there early as well).  A little chit-chat and then I asked him a couple of questions.

On the Gates Foundation grant - I asked him if Marysville didn't have procedures around grants.  He said there were a couple of boxes of old policy books there but mostly he signed them and then told the Board.   (Now, of course, my instinct was to gently state, "But now you work someplace new."  Instead I said, "I get you being the new person but what about the person who put the agreement in front of you?  Didn't he or she know?"  Shrug.  "What about Legal?"  Shrug.

On the student data breach - I told him that he had said, at the last Board meeting, that families had been notified "electronically" about the breach.  I asked him about the issue of how many of those families may not have e-mail so how could all be notified as his letter to the Department of Education states.  He said he didn't think they had all been notified.

Kind of shocking to hear a superintendent say that he signed a letter to the feds that had untrue info.  He said they are trying to get a hard-copy letter out (but he didn't say whether it would go to all families or just the ones without e-mail) but the "translations" were difficult to get.

Then we went in.  I missed the first part of the meeting (it started late and I was doing an interview with KING 5).  When I came back in, the room was fuller - I'd say about 5 SPS staff, a couple of Neighborhood House staff, several reporters and about 25 parents/community.

Question: (I didn't catch the whole question but it was about the NCLB waiver).
Nyland said basically they had to set aside money (it was not lost). He said only a dozen students had requested a change of school (so much for that huge exodus).  He also said that it was about $2M set aside and that sometime between Jan-March, they would be able to release that money back into the General Fund.

Question: Schmitz Park overcrowding.  This parent is now concerned about middle school in W. Seattle.  What assurance do we have that Madison won't be overcrowded in 3 years?

Nyland: Capacity issues are a challenge as we create neighborhood schools.

Flip Herndon - worried but not sure it will be a big problem.  Talked about the expansion of K-5 STEM to K-8 and taking pressure off Madison.  He also said kids could transfer to K-8 STEM in 6th grade.

Question: did you crunch the numbers for that because Schmitz Park has 17(!) portables and it will be 19 next year. (The parents call their little portable village, Schmitzville.)

Question: Fairmount Park has APP kids, where do they go?
Flip - starting APP at Madison (although some may still go to Washington).

Question: But the district isn't saying this and does Madison have capacity for Spectrum and APP. We were told by Stephen Martin said there was no plan for APP in West Seattle.
Principal at Madison is waiting for info from district.  Many don't want to go to Washington.
Flip - Said that might a question for C&I department.  (No staff from that department were available.)

Question: Can't there be subject tracks in APP in certain subjects.  Why no advanced curriculum for science.
No real answer to that one.

Question: How to improve ELL for those students?
Nyland - Being new and I don't know details about ELL and what we are doing and what more we can do.
Bernardo Ruiz - I'm working with Veronica Gallindo on a  partnership with Stanford U. with profs rolling out on-line program to train ELL teachers and classroom teachers.  There's also professional development going on.

Question:  plan for Federal Reserve building? (This parent was worried money might be taken out of BEX IV and her school was last on the BEX IV list.  This concern was not addressed at all in the answer.)
Nyland: We didn't have the money to buy it under the government's plan, X number of kids there.  Never referred to Flip nor did Flip speak up.

Problem is this issue is ALSO on the Board agenda for tomorrow night.  I talked to Flip before the meeting and he says he doesn't know how much the Board will allow them to bid (if that is the decision to get involved with the auction for the Federal Reserve building).  The bid starts at $5M on December 5th.  Why none of this got said at the coffee chat, I don't know.

Question: Special ED  - leadership - 8 directors in 5 years, no head and recent director is on leave.  What are the plans to stabilize leadership?

Nyland - Feds under watch every quarter and state every week. Interim director doing compliance work, meeting deadlines.  ombudsman, "You are right, we have all noticed this issue."

Question: What is the long-term plan, in 3 years - Madison will be overenrolled so will W. Seattle High.
Some boundary shifts have helped but majority of schools are overenolled.  What is plan?
What about Hughes?
Nyland - You are right about a lot of kids coming, bought in portables, next bonds
Flip - last BEX levy, 2B worth of work to be done, have to "chunk it out" not sure what to do with Schmitz Park or EC Hughes (will be coming back in June 2015) and a couple of other buildings once leases are done.  (Not sure which buildings he is referencing.)
Next levy, BTA IV, Feb. 2016, BEX V 2019, sounds far away but it's not.
BTA has been on maintenance levy and technology, fields. BEX around capacity but conversation about capacity but that has to get prioritized and we talk to community.

Question: Knowing stress and strain on youngest students and families, choosing schools only to have to change, lose transportation.  Is everything being done? joint use being discussed?  May not cost as much and can happen sooner.

Nyland - 'we're trying a lot of things" we are using spaces like this but they are few and far between.

I'll note here that - jointly - Schmitz Park and Alki - have come up with some ideas of their own.  It appears that Alki is connect to Alki Community Center which has two classrooms available that could be broken into four classrooms.  It would only be for one year.  As well, the district has promised a review of space at Alki which has a couple of oversized classrooms but no report has materialized.  

It seems to me that some mitigation is needed for Schmitz Park who has really taken on a huge number of kids (now over 600 kids and 1 bathroom each for boys and girls and 3 toliets for 96 kindergarteners to share).  

Question:  this classroom is one used for Middle College high school.  What is commitment does SPS have to alternative ed?
Nyland - Seattle has a lot and my background is small high schools - has to be the right time and place but there is no space left really.  Some kids need a theme or particular area.  Should have more at middle school.  

Question:  parent at Fairmount Park - In 1995 recruited for alt program, at Native Heritage and had great success and now at Middle College.  I found myself juxtaposed between SpectrumAPP with my daughter and she'll be fine, but my concern is other end -  SPS "supports' alt but I don't see it.  There are many of us working for years and good at what we do but we don't have a voice.  Plainly asking, how to advocate for those kids and not just APP kids?

Nyland - Impressed about Seattle which is WSS and does allocate more for some of the smaller and higher-need schools.  Compared to other schools getting basic formula, we are providing more.  Marysville had Indian heritage, Tulalip paid for two extra teachers as did the the district and recruiting students to have viable program.  Costly model. 

Question: work for a community partner, losing 35 kids to Sanislo and more later on, concerned about safety and walking across Delridge to school.  There has not enough communication about families what are happening - we are a "a verbal community" and High Point isn't represented here tonight.  (I note the walk zone for Cedar Park Elementary, when it opens, is of deep concern to parents there as well because of Lake City Way.)

Nyland - working on getting those notices out.  safety issue is one that Board has asked about. 
Pegi McEvoy - We are working on those walk zones with the City. New chief is all about the data.  No answers now and love to talk to you about that after mtg. 

Question: issue with budget cuts, 5 years ago, Layfayette sharing trans w/other school and the agreement was for Lafayete to take a later start for a couple of years and then switch .  It's hard on working parents. Can this switch happen? Principal told parents to figure it out.  

Basically, no answer.  That is very odd to have made that kind of agreement.  

Question; worried about kids moving from WestSeattle elementary to Sanislo - At W. Seattle they have free breakfast and lunch, academic supports and busing (because of safety) as well as a health clinic with a nurse.  The most vulnerable students are being sent to Sanislo which does not have these supports.

Nyland -  We're looking into it.

End of notes.

I think I will create a separate thread on Nyland but look at his answers.  Read them.

The ones he gave me, the ones he gave parents.

It's like getting an older Banda. Nothing of real substance, vision or that he even understands the issues.

If the Board votes in Nyland, we are getting a figurehead, not a superintendent.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Could it be possible the board wants Nyland to clean house at JSCE and then he will be replaced with someone willing to stay longer term?

The new super could start with a clean slate and staff that understands who's in charge.

--Michael

Melissa Westbrook said...

No

mirmac1 said...

He does seem to shrug a lot. Is it that he doesn't "know", or doesn't care if his customers know.

Po3 said...

Is Nyland the one?

Shrug.

Robert Cruickshank said...

We need a superintendent who will clean up the mess at SPS central staff, ensure that policies are followed, and stand up to the "education reform" movement. There are such superintendents around the country, like Carmen FariƱa in NYC or Joshua Starr in Montgomery County, MD. Surely there is such a person somewhere here in the Northwest.

It is becoming clear that Nyland is not that person. He's not willing to provide leadership in fixing a broken district or addressing ongoing problems. And he's a figurehead for the Gates Foundation. We need a public search, not a sudden move to jam him on the district.

mirmac1 said...

Po3

LOLOL

Libby said...

Thank you very much for attending the meeting and for your thorough coverage - as always - Melissa. Did you stick around for Director McLaren’s community chat? The West Seattle Blog reported that she said “Early on, some of the board members were impressed enough by Nyland to say ‘(he) knows what he’s doing’ but decided to watch him a while longer.”… “So the decision’s been made?” asked one participant. “No, the decision hasn’t been made. We still have to vote,” replied McLaren. To me, this suggests that the Board had no intention of conducting an outside search for a new superintendent. Nor did they express any desire to receive community input. What a farce. I believe their decision to hire Nyland is a forgone conclusion (and has been for weeks). It’s difficult to convey my extreme frustration and disappointment in the Board. There’s some small comfort in knowing that many of you share these sentiments and that, perhaps, we’ll have an opportunity to stop this moving train come next election cycle.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Of course a search could be futile if:
1) some in power try to thwart it
2) Nyland is the choice because he is able to be easily persuaded in any given direction, especially by senior staff or other elected officials

However, I think if cooler heads prevail (i.e. let Peters and Carr design the search), it could be fairly painless and quick.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cmj said...

Reposting for an anonymous commenter

We get the opportunity for someone with local experience and you are advocating for a search. The last searches produced Goodloe-Johnson and Banda. Let's forgot formal procedures and go with the local person.

12/2/14, 7:47 PM


I'm going to disagree here. Nyland was brought in as an interim superintendent -- there really wasn't a search. Banda was leaving and SPS either needed to promote someone or find an interim superintendent fast. Olchefske, Manjas, and Enfield were admin in SPS who were promoted to interim superintendent. Goodloe-Johnson and Banda were found through national searches. National searches, unfortunately, often find people who don't plan to stay long and only see SPS as merely a stepping stone to a greater position elsewhere. Regional searches might avoid that problem.

Anonymous said...

Until the Gates gaft, Nyland looked like we had found a diamond. How about we fire the person that passed the gates grant along without explanation and keep Nyland.
TiredofSearches
TiredofReform
TiredofGates

Anonymous said...

How about we fire C Codd and other reformers!
Former Teacher

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tired, it's not just the Gates grant unfortunately.

As for firing anyone at JSCEE, good luck with that.