Sunday, April 05, 2015

Seattle Schools This Week

Editor's note: I have mostly stopped doing this as the district's calendar is available at their website.  I'm going to concentrate on those meetings/events likely to have the greatest impact.

Also, another thought.   I have been going to district meetings - of all kinds - for more than 15 years.  The audience, especially for Work Sessions and Committee meetings, is almost always the usual suspects. 

Before the filing deadline for the School Board races happens in early May, I just want to point out that AFTER that filing, suddenly there are all these concerned citizens with concerned faces. They have never previously been seen at Board meetings or any other type of meeting but suddenly, now that they are running, they are very interested in what's going on.  A couple of Board meetings is not going to bring any one up-to-speed.  
Monday, April 6th from 4:30-6:30 pm
Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee
This looks to be quite interesting for several reasons.  Agenda

Reading the minutes of the last meeting is also good reading:
  • An African American Male Think Tank Task Force exists.  Who knew?
  •  The district couldn't get teachers to be on the Middle School Social Studies Adoption Ctm because  "Unfortunately, principals are working on the Smarter Balanced Assessment and could not sacrifice teachers to participate on the committee."  However, I note the presence of several teachers on that committee so somehow this got worked out.  I will say that almost having no teachers on a curriculum adoption committee because of testing schedules seems wrong.
  • Also on that adoption subject: The Purchasing Department informed Kathleen they may have to shorten the second public viewing to two weeks.    
  • There also seems to be some kind of issue in resolving Policy 2015, Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials.  Sadly, it is not explained but they mention this is the third month in a row it is on the agenda. 
One is that Directors Patu and Peters have now put their BAR to Request Suspension of Administration of SBAC and/or their Use for Accountability Measures on the agenda.   I would say it's a little late now but frankly, with news coming in about opt-outs and suspensions (see the thread on Garfield), maybe not. 

Here is their new resolution.  Basically, they would like it suspended and state that:

The district could instead continue to administer the MSP and HSPE tests to meet federal and state accountability measures. Failing that option, The Board requests that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, suspend the administration and use of the new Smarter Balanced assessments, and/or for accountability measures for the 2014-15 school year and until such time that the assessments are proven to be valid, reliable and fair, as required by federal law.

Under Alternatives:


Do not adopt the resolution. This is not recommended because the prediction by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) that an unprecedented number of Seattle Public Schools students district-wide will fail the new Smarter Balanced tests indicates that the tests are invalid and inequitable, and therefore should not be used for school, student and teacher growth and accountability measures (including Adequate Yearly Progress and graduation requirements). 

Smarter Balanced test scores will be are currently slated to be used to meet federal school accountability requirements yet will inequitably and falsely indicate unprecedented and mass failure across all schools. 

The agenda item also has the Resolution for SPS to suspend SBAC.

Also on the agenda is an update on Special Ed work.

As well, it looks like Charlie's nagging may be paying off as on the agenda are the required Quarterly reports on program placement. But wait, there are six attachments but some are just the policy itself and some appear twice.  I'm confused why that is.
  • Fire Science Program at Rainier Beach High School, open September 2015
  • Numerous changes in Sped program placements
  • Attachment 5 is a chart of Linked Middle Schools for Student Services and Programs: Grades 6-8
They are apparently rewriting the policy on Title VII: Indian Education Formula Grant Student Eligibility.  (Amazingly, the Feds still use the word "Indian.")  I suspect this policy is being rewritten after the district was found out of compliance on these issues three times by the Feds.

Also on Monday,
Seattle Council PSTA meeting starting at 7:15 pm.

The meeting is at JSCEE from 7:15-9:15; several invites/reminders have gone out to PTA leaders in the past 2 weeks but everyone is welcome.

After our short business meeting, Ken Gotsch (Finance, Budget, Grants) will be doing a presentation on school budgeting. Then we will break into round tables with staff including:


Stephen Martin, Supervisor of HC Services and Advanced Learning will be at Seattle Council PTSA's General Meeting on Monday, April 6th, as part of our round table discussions.

Ken Gotsch (school funding)

Flip Herndon (Capacity, enrollment planning, BTA, Capital projects.)

Bernardo Ruiz (school-family partnerships, equity and race, Native American education)

Eric Anderson (enrollment data, student assessments)

Michael Tolley (T & L, SBAC, Common Core)

Shauna Heath (C & I, MS social studies adoption)

Stephen Martin (Supervisor of Advanced Learning)

Margo Siegenthaler (Ombuds for SPED).

Dianne Casper
SCPTSA Secretary


This is a GREAT meeting to attend.  Last time, not very many people showed up and there was lots of opportunity to talk to staff.  If you care about any of these programs/issues, you should go.  (Note; Mr. Tolley will almost never answer anything in detail.  I would not waste time with him.  Dr. Herndon is also getting vague but still, ask about high school or BTA IV.  Or as Dr. Martin in AL about HC students. 

Wednesday, April 8th
Board Work Session on Charter Schools/Strategic Plan Implementation Update from 4:30-7:30 pm.

Unfortunately, there are no presentation documents available so I can't say exactly what the conversation will be.

I have to wonder about that Charter School topic as there is just one currently (and it may go under soon).  And, as well, we still await the verdict from the WA State Supreme Court on the actual charter law.  If I were the district, I would not be spending valuable staff of Board and staff on this topic.  But, I'm not the district.

5 comments:

Watching said...

"Do not adopt the resolution. This is not recommended because the prediction by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) that an unprecedented number of Seattle Public Schools students district-wide will fail the new Smarter Balanced tests indicates that the tests are invalid and inequitable, and therefore should not be used for school, student and teacher growth and accountability measures (including Adequate Yearly Progress and graduation requirements). "

But for Director Peters and Director Patu, the district and board would not have addressed serious concerns regarding SBAC and we were heading off of a cliff. I am glad these two directors are bringing this issue into public light.

This is an absolute NO brainer and the board would be smart to approve this resolution.

Vermont has suspended the use of SBAC for AYP:


http://www.vermont.gov/portal/government/article.php?news=5366

Even our overlord- Bill Gates- has advocated suspending the use of PARCC and SBAC to teacher evaluations etc. for a couple of years.

It makes me wonder: What are those people in the John Stanford thinking? Hard to believe that we have a bunch of highly paid administrators failing to think critically.

Watching said...

Even worse- We have administrative staff and Larry Nyland in Olympia advocating for the use of test scores in teacher evaluations and there are serious issues/concerns with SBAC.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Hard to believe that we have a bunch of highly paid administrators failing to think critically."

The problem is when you take your cue not from the Board but outside influences then it's no mystery at all.

Lynn said...

I think a new event was just added to the calendar for this week - a special meeting of the board for the audit and finance committee meeting. I can't wait to see that agenda. What issue has come up for the A&F committee that requires discussion by the entire board?

I hope the increase to K-3 class sizes staff included in the weighted staffing standards for next year is on the agenda.

Anonymous said...

Sort of related to Lynn's question - did anybody happen to see this from the 3/27 Friday Memo re: Executive growth? Something does not compute - added 12 exec mgmt positions yet the ratio of total budget is still only 6.1%???? There appears to be some fancy footwork going on there!

At the Board Budget Work Session this week Director Sue Peters asked the following question: about executive management positions:
In the appendix, budget benchmarking data shows executive management growing from 16.7% in FY10-11 to 23.1% in FY 14-15 as a percentage of total management staff. Please provide context for change.
The District had 15.5 non grant executive management positions in FY10-11 and now has 25.4 non-grant positions, an increase of about 10 positions. When you include all funds, executive management positions went from 18 to 30 positions, an increase of 12 positions. The new positions are as follows:
Office: New title
 Supt: (1) Deputy Supt.; (2) Dir. of Continuous Improvement; (3) Dir. of Project Management
 T&L: (4) Executive Director (ED) of Leadership Development
 DoTs: (5) Dir. of Enterprise Applications
 HR: (6) Asst. Supt of HR; (7) Dir. of Labor Relations; (8) ED of Talent Management
 Ops: (9) Dir. of Logistics; (10) ED of Coordinated Health Services
 Capital: (11) Dir. of Capital Projects/Planning; (12) Dir. of Facility Operations
These changes were due to:
 Restoring executive positions previously cut due to significant prior year budget cuts;
 Adding senior executive positions for improved internal control and program oversight; and/or
 Elevating important management/supervisory positions to executive level management positions.
Seattle Public Schools’ current executive management structure is very similar to most large urban school districts. Superintendent Larry Nyland is currently conducting an independent organization review to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the District’s current organizational structure.
NOTE: The District’s central administration costs were as high as 7.1% in FY10-11. Last year in FY 13-14, this ratio was at 5.8%. In the current year FY14-15 budget, this ratio is at 6.1%, well below the FY10-11 ratio, but slightly above last year and the Board’s target central administration cost ratio of 6.0%.


Doc at:
Finance Update Friday Memo

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