Thursday, May 07, 2015

Executive Committee Meeting

The Executive Committee Meeting meets today at 4:30 pm.  Here's the agenda with two very important items - the partnership agreement with the City about their Seattle Preschool Program and Charles Wright's $1M+ Start of School Transformation Project.  The agenda also includes the draft Board meetings' agendas for the next month.  

The May 20th agenda is a huge slog of capital projects but also includes review of the Covenant Agreement of Sale for MLK to FAME, RTTT funding for more "community-school partnerships," an OSPI Math/Science grant for middle school science for $1.5M and, of course, buying more portables.  It also has the introduction of the Seattle Preschool Program Partnership agreement.  (Please note that for the draft agenda, not all items are live-linked.)

The June 3rd agenda has the approval of the SPP partnership and RTTT funds as well as introduction of an item "Research Activity and Test Administration Procedure" (I'm thinking this is based on the Beacon Hill testing scandal), a 2-year extension of the lease for the Nordic Heritage Museum at Webster, naming of Genesee Hill and Wilson-Pacific buildings.

There are also some changes to two Board policies.  One of them is Policy 1240 when supplementary materials to any Board action coming before Board have to be available to the public AND the Board.  It would give staff the leeway of publishing any supplementary information only 24 hours before the Board meeting.  I think this is bad policy unless there is an emergency.  If the Superintendent and staff cannot get the work done in time for the public and, especially, the Board to review it thoroughly, then the Board should just pull that item from the agenda.   

Seattle Preschool Partnership Agreement
 I have only read thru this once but my first surprise is that it is something of a "let's agree to work together AND we'll iron out the details later."  It is a vague document to be sure.  

Let's start with the BAR as that is also crucial to the agreement.

Should the District choose to become an SPP provider, the per student reimbursement amount is expected to cover all costs providers would incur.  Later in that paragraph it states:

The City will reimburse all costs due to the District as negotiated through this biannual agreement. 

So this is good as the "expected to cover" language means that the City may not be certain how much costs will be for their program.  Given that the City wants the district to eventually do its enrollment (and I'm unclear if they mean just in district schools or for the entire SPP), those are costs that are not related to per pupil spending.

Staff will continue to work with the City to flesh out any potential costs to the District of being an SPP provider. This information will be used to inform the Board as it considers whether to become a SPP provider. Individual agreements will come forward to the School Board for approvalthrough as required by School Board policy. 

Here's where I get worried. The City needs to know WHAT those costs are - to some degree - before anything is signed.  Doing this piecemeal is not the way to go and it is the surest way to unhappy surprises and "we can't stop now - it's for the kids"  excuses.

From the agreement:
- page 2.

Collaboration means we agree to share resources and expertise through the preschool to 3rd grade continuum. The School District has expertise in instruction, assessment, professional development, and enrollment practices. Seattle early learning providers, as participants in the Seattle Early Education Collaborative (SEEC), have expertise with appropriate developmental practices for preschool age children, assessments of child development in multiple domains, professional development in curricula appropriate for preschool age children, and community engagement and family partnerships. By aligning these resources and expertise, we will increase the capacity of the City and the District to serve the growing number of families in our community and address the public demand for equitable educational outcomes for our children.
That sounds fine except for that first sentence - "...we agree to share resources and expertise." Does that mean equally share? Does it only mean the items listed below or are those just examples? I don't want the district on the hook because of vague language.

- page 3.

The parties agree that neither City nor District funds will be used in ways that divert funds intended for exclusive purposes. As the District opts to contract with the City to provide preschool services, the costs associated with these services shall be reimbursed in accordance with the City’s standard reimbursement for providers of preschool services.

First sentence, great except for that phrase "exclusive purposes." We all know, from past experience, that the district has been able to use money - from both capital and operations - for all sorts of things. So how "exclusive" is exclusive?

Second sentence, "standard reimbursement for providers of preschool services." Does this contradict the BAR in that the BAR language promises to reimburse the district beyond just per pupil funding and this sentence is less clear on that point?

City funds will not be used to supplant state, District, or federal funds for District functions, nor will the District divert District funds solely intended for K-12 or purposes to provide SPP services. 
Again, good to see but "solely intended for K-12?" Again, I worry that the district will find a way around this to serve the SPP.

- page 4

Here's where we get to actual classrooms but again, vague.

Whereas the SPP Implementation Plan states that “[the City] will work directly with Seattle Public Schools to determine the District’s participation level each year” and consistent with Section 9 of Ordinance 124509, which states that the City may contract directly with the District, the City and the District, with the approval of District administration and Board of Directors, will negotiate the number of SPP classrooms the District will contract to manage annually.
The first sentence is good because it seems to give the district an out to its participation from year to year. But the use of the word "will" - twice - is troubling.

The City and the District will biannually assess the costs associated with the District’s administrative responsibilities in relation to SPP and negotiate an agreement.

So I find this confusing given the other wording on page four. The first paragraph says the City will "work directly" with SPP to figure out SPS' participation "each year." But the second paragraph says they will be reviewing the costs every two years. Participation = costs so should this align?

Whereas continuous quality improvements and evaluation of results are critical to the success of SPP, to the extent possible, the City will include district- appointed representatives in conversations about emerging policies, plans, and course corrections.
Who would those be? Staff, Board members, parents? And being part of the conversation means nothing if you don't have a vote (if it involves ANY changes to SPS' relationship to SPP). That a pretty meaningless sentence if you ask me.

Though the City intends to centrally manage applications for and enrollment in SPP for the 2015–2019 SPP demonstration phase, it will work with the District to create enrollment access in district facilities.

This is interesting enrollment news because I thought the City really wanted to get SPS Enrollment to do this work (but maybe the City wants to keep some information to itself for awhile). And I do find that last phrase "to create enrollment access in district facilities" troubling because it again supposes that there will be access/room in district facilities for SPP.

Additionally, the City will work with the District to create a plan for decentralized enrollment for SPP beginning in the 2019–2020 school year, or sooner if feasible.
Could they mean "centralized" as in the district's central Enrollment office will be doing this all of this? As well, you note it says "enrollment for SPP" and not "enrollment for SPP at SPS?" I would take that to mean that the City wants SPS to handle ALL enrollment in SPP.

- page 5

This page talks about SPS working with SEA "to ensure the District can meet the requirements of SPP." It also notes that the City will pay for PD for SPP teachers at district-operated sites. Will this impact upcoming collective bargaining with the union?

Whereas continuous quality improvements and evaluation of results are critical to the success of the District, to the extent possible, the District will include City- appointed representatives in conversations about emerging policies, plans, and course corrections pertaining to early learning.
So here we see the reverse of the earlier paragraph on this topic, with the City-appointed reps having "conversations" with the district. I guess we could suppose that the City, like the district, would have no real vote in whatever comes at the end of the conversations.

-page 6.

This page talks about "embedded coaching" for all SPP teachers/assistants, there is no mention of costs. Does the previous City promise to pay for PD also include coaching costs? This section is silent on that point.

Whereas the City and the District are acutely aware of District space-constraints and community concerns over the allocation of space in District-managed buildings, the District is eligible to apply for City funding for facilities improvements, expansions, and renovations for the purposes of providing City- funded early learning programs. Certain rules and restrictions will apply in the event that funds are awarded.

That's good that the City has facilities dollars but again, the issue is that there isn't room for the K-12 students. Why would the district find space at schools to build for pre-K students especially given pre-k has to have its own bathrooms and playground space? I just don't see this happening but I'm sure the City has a plan.

Unless otherwise amended, this Agreement shall be for the period commencing upon adoption by the Seattle City Council and the District and ending on August 31, 2019.

This proposal would start June 1, 2015 and end on August 31, 2019. A little odd that the start date is on one page and the end date on another.

Start of School Transformation Project

In a nutshell, I'd say this item is an admission of defeat. Charles Wright is deputy superintendent for Seattle Schools and he wants between $1M-2M for a consultant to do the following:

in order to provide the Seattle Public Schools an independent review of its Start of School processes: Enrollment Projections, School Budget Allocation, Site-Based Staffing, Staffing Process, and Recruiting; and support with implementing accepted recommendation, with any minor additions, deletions and modifications deemed necessary by the Superintendent, and to make any necessary actions to implement the contract.

The Start of School is a year-long combination of six major processes that determine resources schools will receive, when schools will know their enrollment projections, the programs in their buildings, and whether they need to hire or displace staff. The six major processes that make up Start of School are: 1) Weighted Staffing Standards (WSS), 2) Enrollment Projections, 3) School Budget Allocation, 4) Site-Based Staffing, 5) Staffing, and 6) Recruiting. It includes more than 20 central departments and all schools working together to complete 24 processes.

I call this a defeat because aren't there people at JSCEE who are paid to figure this out and, to name names, Ken Gotsch (budget), head of Enrollment (whoever that is now), Dana DeJarnatt (HR) and Mr. Wright himself?

The RFPs were due April 22nd.

The BAR states they need to figure out whether to do this work over the summer in time for the 2015-20116 school year or push it out another year. I cannot believe anyone could think - at this late time in the current school year - that a project of this magnitude could get done and be ready for implementation by Fall 2015. But that's what staff wants.

No one can say this is not needed or important work. But what exactly has Mr. Wright been doing all this time? Figuring this out? I think he could have asked any principal and gotten the same answer.

It is very painful to see this district struggle and struggle over operations. It feels like the district hires seemingly smart and capable people and yet, it's start over time. Again.


Anonymous said...

Wondering if you have any insight into why Sue Peters and Betty Patu keep pursuing adding an SBAC discussion to the board agenda as opposed to doing it in the ECM.
I do commend them on being the fly in the ointment,but it's painful to watch.
Sherry Carr and Marty Maclaren seem to think the ECM is the best place for this and there will be opportunity for public input.
What's your take?

If you didn't get a chance to watch last night,I think I started at 5:20,but the slow train wreck started before then.

In the Ointment

Bob Roberts said...

Mr. Wright proposes to hire temporary consultants to do the ongoing work of the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent, at 4x the cost.

The consultant will recommend splendid-sounding system and procedural changes which, given the same people in HQ, will after a time prove useless.

1) Vote no.
2) Please ask for Mr. Wright's resignation effective tomorrow morning.

Lynn said...

The May 20th agenda includes an intro item for the purchase of portables for 2015-16. Staff expects they will need to purchase 14-17 new portables. Poor Schmitz Park is expected to get three more. (That would indicate an enrollment increase of 75 students.) How many portables will that make for them?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did not get to watch the Board meeting last night. Peters and Patu DID go to the C&I ctm which would not vote it out of committee to even discuss. So I think Peters and Patu tried to take another shot at it.

I'm not sure that was the best course of action given the rest of the Board's indifference.

Lynn, I saw that the Superintendent visited Schmitz Park recently and yet his Friday Memo notes don't reflect that staff or PTA said anything to him about the overcrowding. I find that very hard to believe.

Lynn said...

Sue Peters and Betty Patu are not on the Executive Committee and cannot add items to the EC meeting agendas. Reading the minutes of the April committee meeting, it appears a board member tried to attend and was not allowed to stay.

From the minutes: Erinn Bennett noted today’s meeting was noticed for an Executive Committee meeting and so therefore there can be only 3 Board members present. Ms. Bennett noted there will be an update provided to the Board on Special Meetings. John Cerqui explained if there are 4 Board members who attend a committee meeting, it
should be posted as a Special Board meeting.

I think Carr, McLaren and Peaslee are attempting to silence them.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, someone is blowing smoke because the Board office has put - at the top of every committee agenda - "Board Special Meeting: Committee X.

So that IS notification that there may or may not be multiple members present. I have been in the room when more than three Board members were present (with Ron English right there). They cannot vote but they can be part of the discussion.

I call BS on that.

Unknown said...

Lynn and Mel-- The restriction of not allowing a sitting board meeting to attend a committee that they don't sit on is interesting. I've been in C&I committee meetings last year where Director Peaslee was present even though she was not on that committee at that time. I can't recall if the other 3 were there as well. I wonder if this wasn't supposed to happen then, and the just started enforcing it? HMMMMM

BUT-- They are addressing this issue by updating the policy as will be discussed in the Executive committee today. The BAR say this:

"Both policies received additional edits to call out that Board committee meetings are Special Meetings of the Board. This revision establishes broad compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and allows for the attendance of additional Directors at committee
meetings beyond the three serving members. Staff is working on additional edits to Policy Nos. 1240, Committees, and 1010, Board Oversight of Management, to address this clarification, and anticipate bringing the proposed amendments to the Board in June."


Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, they have been printed "Special Meeting of the Board" on committee agendas for several months now, almost as if they wanted to cover their bases if multiple Board members showed up.

Anonymous said...

Marty McLaren is running for reelection. Her position on the SBAC is going to cost her in terms of activist support. Without activist support, her campaign will go nowhere.

David Edelman

kellie said...

I think Charles Wright's proposal is a great indication of just how care Dr. Tracy Libros applied behind the scenes with great acumen to the start of school process.

In almost every meeting, I attending on enrollment over the last dozen years, at some point, Tracy would point out the impact that X would have on the "start of school." Tracy was incredibly conscientious about how all the pieces fit together and and how important it was that all of the pieces from ensuring that there was a bus to a teacher. Tracy took great care to ensure that critical decisions happened a timely fashion, so that each department could do their part.

IMHO, Tracy could do a far better job at this, than an entire team of consultants and I expect she might charge slightly less that the $1-2 M proposed.

kellie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Kellie, let's find out Tracy's going rate, shall we?

Human Research said...

The city's MOU with he district should NO be approved until this item has been vetted in the Operations Committee and Audit and Finance Committee. Any effort to pass this MOU without scrutinizing the impact Prek will have on district's operations, facilities and finances is irresponsible.

It appears the Almighty Executive Committee- which is comprised of Carr, McLaren and Peaslee- has become the self designated clearing house for all types of things.

Lastly, the city's prek program is a research project called P20, The city's MOU with the district( page 4) indicates that prek students will be the subjects of research. The project will be approved by an Institutional Review Board. Institutional Review Board's are intended to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating in research projects. This language must be taken out of the MOU. Nyland, district staff and the board should not sign this MOU - unless this language is removed.

If the city wants to conduct research on children, they should do so within their own facilities.

Human Research said...

Typo: The city's agreement should NOT be approved unless vetted in the Operations and A&F Committee.

Only SPS would allow such shoddy work- and let's see if the Ex. Committee pushes to have the MOU vetted in committees.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Human Resource, Sue Peters tried to bring this up - about students being evaluated - and she got shaken off. I don't know if the Board realizes this and did not ask the question properly.

I'll have a write-up on this because some of what is being said is pretty troubling.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Human Resource, Sue Peters tried to bring this up - about students being evaluated - and she got shaken off. I don't know if the Board realizes this and did not ask the question properly.

I'll have a write-up on this because some of what is being said is pretty troubling.

New Czars said...


Thank you for the link. The Executive Committee is comprised of Peaslee, Carr and McLaren. It looks like we have a new sheriff in town.

"Directors spoke about having only three
Directors allowed to vote in a Board Committee meeting and that the additional Directors in attendance
cannot vote."

It is important to consider this in context of full document. However, note that Peaslee sent a letter to the Curricum and Instuction Committee opposing Peters and Patu's resolution.

New Czars said...

McLaren and Peaslee are beginning to sound shrill. Their actions are becoming increasingly disturbing.

Anonymous said...

The city has various parcels of land around town not being used right? I remember a few years ago there was a story about a man living in a tree on city land on Eastlake. Maybe SPS can do a trade agreement where preschool is added to the elementary schools in exchange for land and money to build more schools. We also need the city council to grow a pair and require new developments - especially multi-housing developments - to pay an impact fee for new schools, mass transportation and infrastructure upgrades, especially sewers, water and power.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, anonymous at 8:00pm is CCA

mirmac1 said...

Bob Roberts - Nyland, Wright AND Echeverria, Garmoe, Hanson, Koon (insert name of overpaid suit here).

The testing resolution was originally put before the board 3/4/15. There have been 2 C&I meetings and 2 Exec meetings since then. What faith should I have that the directors will their heads in the sand will do anything? NONE.

Peaslee's self-serving comments were (as I've heard on numerous occasions) all YOU should do. If she has no duty then what the hell is she doing there? I've heard that same arguments that YOU aren't doing enough: SpEd parents don't have nicely-tabbed binders with talking points to make directors' jobs easier; rape victims just didn't do what she thought they should do; parents should write to D.C. but until then she's compelled to put all of us through hours of an invalid, flawed test and use it to judge teachers and students. She goes onto say that the Exec Comm will develop a "fact-based" resolution. Since when? What facts will they use to rubberstamp Murray's preK pilot? Paying the Alliance $$ for pretty much doing nothing? Hiring more consultants for JSCEE?

Oh, and did you see her backpedaling on bell times? "Any change must work within the 24 credit and 1080 hour requirements." How does weeks of lost instructional time due to SBA testing and its glitches factor into this? If directors' comments were code pushing the least favored option of an extended HS day, I will lay bets that students who already face disadvantages, limited resources or obstacles will have fewer "options" to pick a HS start time and get the classes they need. As it stands now, HS scheduling is a horrendous task that can't even be ready by the 2nd week of school let alone with bus arrival times and class mixes.

And don't even get me started on the City PreK MOU or the costly, half-baked scheme for "transformational consultants" to do the job we just hired 4 or 5 well-paid staff to figure out. Fire them, then you can spend the money on this latest boondoggle