Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Neighbor to Neighbor Program

This is something that seemed to just spring up on the SPS website (and I have heard that they seem to be scrambling for facilitators).

From SPS:

School Family Partnerships is launching its newly created Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) program, starting with the issue of school bell times. The N2N program gives members of the SPS community (families, staff, community members and community organizations) the opportunity to weigh in and be heard on important district initiatives. Feedback from these discussions fuel change, positively affect decision making and influence district policy decisions.

The N2N discussions for March and April will focus on the district’s decision making process on school bell times. Currently, the district has identified three potential options regarding bell times:
  • Change it to a modified flip of elementary and high school bell times
  • Extend the high school day by adding an optional seventh period then offer students the option of late arrival
  • Keep things as they are
Interested in leading a discussion? School Family Partnerships is seeking facilitators for these meetings. Five facilitator trainings are scheduled:

Wednesday, March 11,
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
JSCEE Room 2776
2445 3rd Ave. S.
Monday, March 16,
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Ingraham High School library
1819 N. 135th St.
Wednesday, March 18,
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
West Seattle High School library
3000 California Ave. SW
Monday, March 23,
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
South Shore K-8 library
4800 S. Henderson St.
Wednesday, March 25,
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Bailey Gatzert Elementary Library
1301 E Yesler Way

To learn more about on Neighbor to Neighbor, the bell time debate, or dates/times/locations for facilitator trainings please visitneighbortoneighbor.www.seattleschools.org or see the flier HERE


NW mom said...

I just got an email about this today. I live in north seattle. Would have loved to have received the email in time to go to the ingraham meeting, which was yesterday. Seems a bit off.

Anonymous said...

One of the recurring criticisms of SPS is that it spends far more on administrative functions than comparable school districts. The "Neighbor to Neighbor" program strikes me as a perfect example of this. What exactly is it and how does it address the priority problems facing the district - capacity, overall academic excellence, achievement gap, etc.?

SPS needs to stop spending money on this stuff and redirect the funds to the schools.


Josh Hayes said...

Yeah, I got both an email and a phone call asking me to be a facilitator. What? Why me?

And then, despite the fact that I live basically next to North Seattle College, they told me to go to the planning sessions in the south -- because by the time they asked, the Ingraham one had already gone by. Not QUITE well-planned, but I give them props for trying.

Jon said...

"Feedback from these discussions fuel change, positively affect decision making and influence district policy decisions"

If the past is any guide, much more likely is that the feedback will be ignored (or creatively framed) if it doesn't support whatever decision the District staff wants on bell times.

Anonymous said...

I think with this N2N program the district wants to show that they involved the whole community in the decision making process.
The problem is with this IMHO that people already showed their opinion in this question and clearly requested bell time change for a long time (on Board meetings, e-mail groups, etc).
Why do we need to start the whole process all over again instead of working out the solution?
- JS

Melissa Westbrook said...

JS because the staff didn't do that outreach I'm not sure they believe what has been said.

They want to control this entire process to present their "findings" to the Board.

Let's guess how that comes out.

Eric B said...

The solutions offered at N2N are also not the same as the ones reviewed by the bell times task force. The task force's preferred option is not presented in N2N. Sooooo you can make your own inferences.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I got an email yesterday at about 5pm. I didn't actually read it until today--which means I missed the Ingraham one. I didn't even know there was on at Ingraham. Also, I live in the north end, but all of the trainings offered are in the south end.

And I agree: didn't we all kind of discuss this ad nauseum last year and come to the conclusion, along with tons of research, that showed that teens need later start times? How much more talking do we need?

Roosevelt Mom

Charlotte said...

I just got the email today too. Read it, went to look at the locations where events are being held and realized that none of them are near me. Then I came here to see what the deal was.

Anonymous said...

Hmm- lots of vocal predominantly north end parents agitate for later start times. Therefore - community engagement opportunities are all in south end. Makes sense if you want to dilute the input from the highly motivated, well informed north end crowd (not to say there are not highly motivated and well informed parents in the south, but certainly there are more barriers to engagement in that area).

suspicious motives

Pro-sleep Mom said...

I went to the first training and I ended up with more questions than answers.
No change plus two other options were presented- Modified flip and Extended high School Day.

The times were shown for the Modified Flip option- it seemed pretty straightforward, but the presenter couldn't answer any questions about the Extended High School Day, such as:
1) What time would after school sports begin- at 2:20 when school is done for the early kids, or 3:10 when it's out for everyone?
2) How would transportation work? Our high schools currently are currently served by 83 buses, almost all for HCC and SPED- would these kids have a choice of time to start school like the metro riding kids? (Equal access laws would assure this- so we could have a lot of buses running twice)
3) How much does each option cost? This information was not provided; the task force has yet to see it either; it's an utterly critical point.
4) If kids can pick their start time, what about teachers? What happens if the balance is off?
5) If there is one librarian, does he/she have to stay for 7 periods? Or does the library close for one period?
6) Can a student take 7 classes? and how would that be funded, since the state only covered about 5 at present?
7) Have any high school principals been consulted on this? It seems like the ultimate master schedule nightmare.

And then the survey questions are all open-ended. What kind of data will they get from those?

mirmac1 said...

I attended the WS meeting that started late. Video did not work but that allowed attendees to have more discussion.

The N2N program (apparently "approved" by the Exec Comm last week? Since when does a committee greenlight anything unilaterally?) appears to be an adjunct of the Family Connectors U. As the Supt mentioned at tonight's board meeting, a recent trip to Montgomery County Maryland (one of two districts to flip bell times) used an N2N network.

I must say I do not see myself as an "ambassador" of the district on this or anything. At the same time, the idea as presented by an ingenuous staffer is that N2N is somehow a means to enhance public input into the decisionmaking process. That I'll have to see to believe.

The survey that SPS would like "neighbors" to collect from neighbors is truly difficult to quantify, asking very open-ended questions worded in bureaucratese that may be hard for some communities within our district. In fact, I found the questions so stultifying that, after work and previous meetings, I didn't even WANT to begin filling out.

As it was explained to the 7 neighbors that attended, the survey will actually be processed via a review committee (like an admissions review committee, according to staff) that will actually review every single open-ended question and somehow record it into some kind of comprehensible metric. Hmmm.

When the question of costs for implementation of the three options came up, it was made clear that, um, that was unknowable at this time and won't be known until right before a decision has to be made. Given my experience with how JSCEE and the board make decisions, I found this unacceptable. EVERY decision in this district is based on dollars, even those that involve basic civil rights protections of the most vulnerable among us; that is unless it has to do with something favored by Wright, Clover Codd and the Strategic Plan squad.

I'm not sure I want to invite people to my house to talk bell times and have a ravenous group of K-5 parents demand I make sure their kids get start their school at 9:30(?!) But I can say the majority of those present at tonight's meetings felt strongly that secondary must start later.

Anonymous said...

It really seems like the bell time discussion, and any voting on options, needs to also be done in the context of changing HS graduation requirements (isn't the requirement soon changing from 20 credits to 24?) and HS capacity management (are they considering year-round schedules and split shifts?). If everyone says they prefer the flip option, what happens then if we need to go to an extended day or split shifts in order to provide room for all and opps to get the required classes? (And wasn't there also going to be some sort of task force re: the 24-credit requirement?)


Anonymous said...

Hi, there is a 24 credit task force, but it's slated to meet for about a year. Also, SPS got a waiver, so 24 credits don't get phased in until 2021. Absolutely agree it's all linked and relevant, but the timing is off. - Ramona H

Anonymous said...

Where can I find the options that were reviewed by the Bell Time Task Force?

And I'm another north-end parent who received an email inviting me to participate in training - but only after the training at the Ingraham location was done. I also have no idea why I received a neighbor to neighbor invite - the whole effort seems totally half-assed.


Anonymous said...

I also got the same email and phone message as Jane and Josh. After the Ingraham facilitator training.

I live in the Lake City area. I was invited to train as a facilitator for West Seattle and South Seattle.

Maybe they are having a particularly-hard time finding facilitators for South and West Seattle?

- North-end Mom

Pro-sleep Mom said...

How will an extended day help with the credits without costing a bundle? If kids take 7 classes, will they get funded for 7? or just for 5 as they do now?

I'm not up on this issue, but it would seem like the block schedule used at schools like Cleveland (8 classes within our current bells- and kids have credits to graduate early which could help with capacity) would be a better solution to the 24 credit problem.

It also help with the 1080 requirement as it reduces the passing time everyday.

The extended day does very little to improve bell times. It's only improves things for the high school students who pick it; middle schools are still too early by the AAP standards, and half our elementary schools are still too late.

mirmac1 said...

No. Not a hard time in West Seattle. Apparently the nights and rooms were booked in advanced and everything was ready to go but they couldn't get the green light (cost?). So they pushed it through exec committee at the last minute, right around the time of the first meeting. There will be more N2N sessions in all areas of the district in April, as well as community meetings

Chatted with Dr Nyland today. He said that the district is having a hard time getting families to attend the community meetings. Figures that no matter how much time or effort they spend to inform and solicit input, there will be one group or another that will be very upset with the final decision.

In any case, there is a live link:

N2N and Bell Times

Melissa Westbrook said...

Really? Dr. Nyland says the district is having a hard time getting families to attend community meetings?

Did he bother to consider why that is?

How about:

- pro forma meetings controlled by staff with very little opportunity for real input by parents/community
- late notice of meetings. Usually two weeks or less.
- refusal by staff to consider any other kind of meeting formats

Of course, there will be people upset with decisions. But many times that is about the process, not the actual decision. The Superintendent should not mistake poor planning and organization for lack of interest.

mirmac1 said...

I don't think he implied lack of interest, rather some of the things you note.

I will say that I've seen more attempts at communication with Nyland than his past four predecessors. More informative Friday memos, more (lame) community meetings, SpEd newsletters (meh),... More quantity.

Now they need to up the quality. SpEd engagement is stumbling. What the heck is planned for facilities next year (>1,200 more kids). Just what does the Parent Advisory Council talk about? etc etc