Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

Not on the district's homepage but of note:

The Enrollment Service Center will be closed to the public from July 13 through Aug. 7, 2015, allowing for necessary new school year system transitions. During this time, students and families will be unable to access or submit online choice or admission forms. Additionally, the Enrollment front counter, Enrollment Service and Customer Service mailboxes, faxes, and Enrollment phone lines will be closed.
These services are closed during the transition to reduce significant backlog, including incomplete documents received during this shutdown period, which would delay the timely enrollment of new students once the updated system is online. The Customer Service phone lines and receptionist desk will remain open to the public to serve those who need to contact other JSCEE internal personnel or departments. Enrollment will re-open its doors again on Aug. 10 at 8:30 a.m.​

I'm a bit perplexed as to why Enrollment phone lines/counter/mailboxes have to be closed.  I mean they can still answer basic questions on enrollment issues, no?  Or is the website supposed to suffice (unless, of course, you don't have a computer)?
NCLB is coming back up as a topic when the House reconvenes in July.  Apparently there are several amendments that are coming from conservatives.  One is pretty funny - it would allow schools to keep federal money but opt out of the federal regulations that come with it. 

As the movement towards getting rid of the use of the Confederate flag gains momentum, a good question from the Washington Post's Answer Sheet?  What about the nearly 200 schools named for Confederate leaders?  What about Confederacy-themed school mascots?

School systems are becoming more sensitive to the potential for controversy over names, according to a 2007 study by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, which found that it has become much less common for schools to be named after people, as school districts opt instead for names that are more generic, such as geographic features or patriotic themes. 

One perspective on why the City's Department of Education and Early Learning backed down on revoking the Families and Education grants to Emerson and Sand Point might be that Councilman Tim Burgess is in a tight race with Jon Grant and John Roderick in the at-large race in District 8.  Burgess got asked at a recent forum about this issue and apparently it was a spirited discussion.  Maybe he didn't realize that his advocacy about what he thinks best for Seattle public education would be something he would be challenged on during the election season.  Between the Mayor's huge $900M+ transportation levy (which includes some dollars for transportation issues at schools) and the City's new preschool levy, I think we might hear more about this during the coming campaign season.  

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

The Enrollment Service Center will be closed to the public from July 13 through Aug. 7, 2015, allowing for necessary new school year system transitions. During this time, students and families will be unable to access or submit online choice or admission forms. Additionally, the Enrollment front counter, Enrollment Service and Customer Service mailboxes, faxes, and Enrollment phone lines will be closed.

Is there ANY consequence whatsoever for unbelievable BAD customer service?

(Rhetorical question)

The arrogance.

Not even a manned customer service desk at the glass palace for enrollment?


Spank them. Failing a levy is the ONLY way to spank them.

They are like petulant children, running amok. Who even thinks up this stuff? They just went through a major computer transition (remember the power schools migration?) without closing enrollment in this way, and now this? They didn't pull people off the enrollment desk at JSCEE during that massive transition.

Voting for different Board director will do nothing. The JSCEE machinery has grown insensitive to rebuke. They seem to thumb their noses at Board directors who dare to question them (remember the post-math adoption vote - staff sent an email telling schools to feel free to adopt the other material nonetheless? Remember Charles Wright's performance about bell times at the retreat years ago??) SPS's ever rotating Supers seems to have no affect anyway. Only spanking them this way will get their attention. We can all pass it 6 months later, but failing it first will be a shot across the bow. Wake them up.

They are 'planning' BTA in the dark anyway. This will help provide guidance to help them understand that their customers are mad. Really mad. Not putting up with their BS anymore.

No doubt about 70% of readers will disagree; I can respect that. That is democracy in motion. But, I feel a sense of hopelessness, unless and until a levy fails, the glass palace gang are going to keep on keepin' on. Something has got to shock them into paying attention and losing the attitude.

Frustrated Liberal.

Anonymous said...

Ron English is on my mind. You've mentioned a few times a post coming about this. Is that on the way.


Po3 said...

I kinda agree w/ Frustrated Liberal.

I get not enrolling students - but not even pick up the phone for nearly a month.
And just NOW posting this information?


Anonymous said...

Randy Dorn just issued a blast at the governor and legislature, which has been congratulating themselves on a great education budget. He says it doesn't meet the McCleary-ordered mandate of fully funding education. Bet he's persona non grata in Olympia today. Wonder what the court will think.


mirmac1 said...

From Ken Gotsch, Asst Supt of Business and Finance:

"Unfortunately, the State budget that has been adopted is $1.3 million lower than very conservatively forecasted, so no new State resources. (The PPI factor was lowered from 5% to 4%, costing the District $ 1.1 million in local levy revenues. Year 2's PPI factor of 0% will cost the district almost $11 million.)"

Interpret this for me. Are we in fact worse off than we were before? Or is this just the usual spin to keep the Board and every one off balance.

Watching said...


Will you please provide entire document?

I noticed that the entire state budget is $19B per year. SPS's operational and capital budget is over $1B per year. Essentially, SPS's expenditures equal 1/19th of the entire state budget. Astonishing.

Watching said...

"Unfortunately, the State budget that has been adopted is $1.3 million lower than very conservatively forecasted, so no new State resources"

With the levy swap and levy funding caps...I was afraid this was going to happen. Essentially, the district should get used to the fact that they need to be fiscally responsible and not waste dollars on useless/non-sustainable endeavors. I'm glad that the board would not allow the district to expand Amplify.

The teachers got a raise. Shall we expect our highly paid administrators to ask for a raise, too?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mirmac1, I, too, saw this statement and went, "What?" Is the district saying that the district is not getting more money? I don't get it.

Too late, Watching. They already did. I'll post the latest doc.

mirmac1 said...

Here you go Non-Rep-Upgrades-5-14-14-Thru-5-26-15

mirmac1 said...

"is $1.3 million lower than very conservatively forecasted"

This leaves room for questions like what do you call conservatively forecasted?

Benjamin Leis said...

I missed the decision on Amplify. What was decided exactly?

Anonymous said...

This song goes out to that 4 week shutdown, 'everybody needs a little time away'.


Garfield Mom said...

I'm willing to give the district a little benefit of the doubt on closing enrollment communications during this time. For one, it might help the transition go faster if they don't have to be interrupted by calls and emails all day long. For those not directly involved in the transition, their time may be better spent reaching out to families who have already submitted forms that are incomplete so their enrollment is ready to go when the transition is finished. It's a lot harder to get that work done if you are fielding calls and emails all day, especially ones you can't answer -- I imagine that a lot of the calls and emails they get involve questions that can't be answered without access to the system. It's not at all productive to spend time repeatedly having to tell people via phone or email that you can't help them because the system is inaccessible. I can definitely see how not closing could lead to a significant backlog that would affect not just people who have already sent in forms that aren't complete, but also those who submit enrollment packets after the transition who would end up at the bottom of the pile.

I don't think it's an enormous burden for people to not be able to call in with a question that can't be answered or to have to refer to the website for the answers to basic questions for a few weeks. I ended up enrolling my kid at the beginning of the summer last year and we had to wait all the way until August to talk to a counselor about choosing classes. Mildly annoying, but it was a consequence of enrolling in the summer, and everything turned out perfectly in the end.

If they don't close, it may lead to a mess that won't be sorted out before the start of school, which would be worse. I just can't get worked up about it and I definitely don't see incompetence, arrogance, or lack of concern for families in this action. That's just too knee-jerk for me to swallow.

Jet City mom said...

The Native Youth Enrichment program at the UW, is looking for middle school aged youth in Seattlr, to participate in a 4 week ( non consecutive) AWESOME that will include lots of STEAM curriculum and field trips.
Please have interested students/ guardians contact Kerrie Murphy at 206-543-1646.
Starts next week on the 6th.
The program is aimed at empowering Native youth in self advocacy & encouraging STEAM( science, technology, engineering, art & math) education & career goals.
Our theme this year is ENERGY. The first week will be the more formal curriculum using e-textiles & robotics.
It will include some computer programming, as well as the math & science behind electricity.we weave indigenous traditional knowledge and culturally relevant activities throughout all the curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Everything I am reading states that the new state budget is funding class size reductions in K-3 that were recommended in the McCleary decision. I went back and read the decision and the recommendation was 17:1. If they are truly funding lower-class sizes in K-3, how in the world is Seattle going to make it happen? Capacity-wise?

The legislature gave more money this past school year to lower class sizes in kindergarten (20:1 in title I schools only), but did that actually happen in SPS? Does the state make/ensure SPS lowers class size if they are given additional funding, or can SPS use all of that extra cash for whatever they want?

My son had 29 in his K class this year. My daughter had 31/32 in her 1st/2nd grade classes. Their teachers need relief.


Anonymous said...

3 weeks! I hope they have all of the people who would ordinarily be staffing the desk, etc doing something else? Don't they already have *most* of the kids enrolled? School assignments came out months ago now and at least our forms were checked when we dropped off the option forms. How much else is there to transition over?

NE Parent

Lynn said...

Class size reductions will be phased in over two years. (See page 129 of this document: http://app.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2015-16/Htm/Bills/House%20Bills/1106-S2.htm.) Initiave 1351 required the funds to be spent on hiring certificated teachers but this budget does not - it just increases funding given to the district. I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for our district to spend the money on new teachers when we can hire consultants for Charles Wright's projects.

Lynn said...

I found this in the (not yet passed) House Capital Budget:

Distressed Schools (91000404)
The appropriation in this section is subject to the following conditions and limitations:
(1) $10,000,000 of the appropriation in this section is provided solely for renovations of Magnolia elementary school and E.C. Hughes elementary school.
(2) $5,000,000 of the appropriation is provided solely for the replacement of the Marysville Pilchuck high school cafeteria.
State Building Construction Account—State. . . .$15,000,000
Prior Biennia (Expenditures). . . .$0
Future Biennia (Projected Costs). . . .$0
TOTAL. . . .$15,000,000
K-3 Class-Size Reduction Grants (92000039)
The appropriation in this section is subject to the following conditions and limitations:
(1) $10,000,000 of this appropriation is provided solely for Seattle public schools to provide additional state assistance for public school facilities necessary to support all-day kindergarten and class size reduction in kindergarten through third grade.
(2) The remaining appropriation is for the K-3 class size reduction construction pilot grant program specified in section 201, chapter . . . (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill No. 6080), Laws of 2015, 3rd sp. sess. to provide additional state assistance for public school facilities necessary to support all-day kindergarten and class size reduction in kindergarten through third grade.
(3) Within the remaining appropriation, a maximum of $750,000 is provided for the office of superintendent of public instruction to administer the K-3 class size reduction construction grant pilot program. The office may not use these funds for indirect costs.
(4) Should Seattle public schools have received additional state funds, in excess of the block grant provided in subsection (1) of this section, through the K-3 class size reduction construction grant pilot program, Seattle public schools may receive the amount provided by the calculated grant in the pilot program in excess of the block grant.
(5) The funding provided in subsection (1) of this section may not constitute local funding available to the Seattle public schools in order to be eligible for state funding assistance through the school construction assistance program pursuant to RCW 28A.525.166.
State Building Construction Account—State. . . .$200,000,000
Prior Biennia (Expenditures). . . .$0
Future Biennia (Projected Costs). . . .$0
TOTAL. . . .$200,000,000

Link: http://app.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2015-16/Htm/Bills/House%20Bills/1115.E2.htm

That sounds promising.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'd love to think $10M would a lot between two schools but not one that has been closed for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lynn!

Writing this up in case others are interested. The state budget proposed class size allocations for the next two years. High poverty schools are defined as schools with >50% FRL.

Kinder class size- 2015/2016 is 22:1 and 19:1 in high poverty schools
Kinder class size- 2016/2017 is 18:1 and 17:1 in high poverty schools
1st grade class size 2015/2016 is 23:1 and 19:1 in high poverty schools
1st grade class size 2016/2017 is 21:1 and 17:1 in high poverty schools
2nd grade class size 2015/2016 is 24:1 and 22:1 in high poverty schools
2nd grade class size 2016/2017 is 22:1 and 18:1 in high poverty schools
3rd grade class size 2015/2016 is 25:1 and 22:1 in high poverty schools
3rd grade class size 2016/2017 is 24:1 and 21:1 in high poverty schools

Maybe the union can use this additional funding during bargaining to demand SPS actually use the extra funding to reduce class size. If the state was smart, they'd only offer the additional funding to districts who use the money to lower class size. In the short term it would save the state money, while also nudging districts along to find space.


PreK said...

The city's prek agreement will be introduced at the board meeting. The district promises that draft documents will be completed for school board meeting.

"The budget proposal, budget narrative, and Service Agreement are currently in development between
the City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools. Drafts of these documents are attached. Final
documents will be completed for School Board Introduction."

However, the BAR indicates that many documents are still in development.

Again, Seattle Public Schools is complaining that they don't have enough administrative staff, and the city wants to hold-back 25% prek funding; this funding is considered "performance pay framework". The district needs administrative staff to carry-out the prek initiative and the board needs to insist that the city provide full funding- upfront.

PreK said...

I also note that the Executive Committee asked staff to develop an umbrella policy that identifies all current
Board policies that could be impacted by the Partnership and proposed Service Agreements.
Staff are currently working on this review. The timeline for the development of this policy is for
District staff to bring this work forward to the August 10th Curriculum and Instruction committee
meeting and also to the August 12 Executive Committee meeting.

Will the city reimburse the district for staff time? Where is the framework?

Anonymous said...

The answer to everything city + SPS pre-k should be a flat no. No, no, no, no, no. Let's figure out where where going to 2+ extra classes for K/1/2 in at least most schools first maybe?

NE Parent

Lynn said...

There's a board special meeting tonight to evaluate the performance of a public employee. Any idea which incident is being addressed? There are always a few to choose from. As I recall, the hand-slapping elementary music teacher is gone. Maybe it's Carol Burton or Beryl Miller. Ron English? The principal at Stevens? (Wouldn't it be a shocker if principals were fired for failure to provide special education services?)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, I suspect it's either Ron English or Beryl Miller (the SPS staffer who vetted the Garfield student accused of sexual assault on the Garfield New Orleans trip). Probably the latter.

Anonymous said...

What are commas are good for?


An appeals court has agreed with an Ohio woman who said her parking citation should be tossed because the village law was missing a comma. (more)

Perhaps it's time to stop harassing teachers who try to teach grammar...?


mirmac1 said...

The latest budget stalemate and $2B shortfall:

Senate Dems are holding out for HB 2214. This bill speeds up the requirement for passing the SBA to graduate. I don't like this.

Lynn said...

I don't like it either. That bill needs to pruned so that it just addresses dropping the biology requirement (as requested by the board of education.)

Lynn said...

Preliminary state-wide SBAC results have been released: http://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2015/PrelimSmarterBalancedResults.aspx