Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Seattle Education Updates

Talk about fast and furious - there's no end to public ed news in the summer.

In the "wish we had more School Board members who do this," there are two City Council candidates, Mike O'Brien and Catherine Weatbrook who ask the hard questions (sadly, in the same district - # 6).  Publicola has an article about the HALA report and Councilman O'Brien's pushback to the Mayor on some of the data.

O’Brien also laid down a serious prerequisite. He says he only agreed to sign off on the mayor’s grand bargain  if his own independent analysis confirmed the mayor’s staff analysis that the new proposal bested O’Brien’s in terms of housing production.

O'Brien also challenged the make-up of the committee which did not seem to have too many neighborhood activist folks but lawyers and housing folks.  It's good to have "experts" but what about the people who know their neighborhoods (or school district)?  O'Brien:
What I told everyone was, if you’re going to do anything on there that affects neighborhoods, just know that you don’t just get to roll out a recommendation and it’s going to be blessed. It’s gotta come through a council process.”

In talking with Weatbrook, I find exactly the same "we want to get this right so for the good of the city, I'm not going to just accept everything you say without independent verification " attitude that O'Brien has.  And Weatbrook really cares about schools and especially the impacts to the district from the growth Seattle is experiencing (and why the City seems less-than-interested in supporting the impacts to SPS). 

I saw an SPS tweet the other day on the subject of Enrollment vs Admissions from E. R Alvarez who I believe is the new head of Enrollment (but I can't find her name at the SPS website - big surprise).

How is Enrollment Planning different from Admissions?
Admissions, formerly known as Enrollment Services, performs the day-to-day public-facing functions around enrollment.  
Admissions:
- enrolls new students,  - changes students between schools, and - receives waitlist information from parents, etc.

Enrollment Planning analyzes student enrollment data and works with other teams to respond to district resource questions in an equitable and efficient manner.

Enrollment Planning:
- calculates enrollment projections,
- studies the district's demographics,
- determines class numbers at option schools and
choice seats at attendance area schools,
- changes school boundaries when population trends change, and
- produces maps using student data.


I find the use of "admissions" to be odd because it sounds like you have to be admitted to SPS when, in fact, anyone can enroll.

And speaking of positions at SPS, I got a bit of info from a reader which led me to review current job openings.

The newest opening isn't even listed at SPS and it's for a new position - Chief of Schools.  The job will pay between $144,387.00-$199,480.00.  It's listed under "internal opportunities." 

The Chief of Schools oversees EDSs which are responsible for working with principals to insure that high quality teaching occurs in every classroom and that each school’s culture promotes equitable outcomes in student learning through a welcoming, supportive and culturally responsive environment.  The central charge of the Chief of Schools is to develop, support and hold accountable EDs as powerful agents of school improvement.

Overseeing the Executive Directors is the main job of this person.  I'm puzzled as to what Michael Tolley is doing because I thought this was his job.  

I like this one "qualification and competency" for this job:

Is astute and keenly aware of the interests and motivations of others, and acts with integrity in a politically-charged environment. 

Yes, good luck with that.

Other job openings:

- Director of Enrollment and Planning Services - $120-135K
- Director of HR Data and Systems - $95-131K
- Senior Research Scientist - $75-104K
 
From the City's Art Beat blog, a story about the Creative Advantage program, a partnership program with SPS and the City.  The story features the Seattle World School. 

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Chief of Schools oversees EDSs which are responsible for working with principals to insure that high quality teaching occurs in every classroom and that each school’s culture promotes equitable outcomes in student learning through a welcoming, supportive and culturally responsive environment. The central charge of the Chief of Schools is to develop, support and hold accountable EDs as powerful agents of school improvement.

Please define for me "equitable outcomes".

Is there an emphasis on presenting the opportunity for each student to maximizing their learning?

Again what is an equitable outcome?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

There is no requirement for SPS to work with the "Chief of Schools". How incredibility bold, this mayor has got to go. The Mayor seems to have endless amounts of money for unnecessary things. Perhaps a recall effort should be started.

Let's hope the new board tells the city where to shove it.

SPS Parent

ConcernedSPSParent said...

I read it as the "Chief of Schools" is a SPS position not local government.

seattle citizen said...

The Chief of Schools position IS listed in the SPS list of open positions linked above, so I'm unsure why people think it isn't, or that it's a position affiliated with the mayor.....

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, it's an SPS position but honestly, the number of people at the top gets bigger and bigger. Cut the ED directors and you don't need this person.

Lynn said...

Wait. They want to pay someone up to $200K to oversee five executive directors? What is Michael Tolley going to do then? I would like to see creation of every new non-school based position require board approval.

Off topic (kind of) - weren't there rumors that Charles Wright would be leaving? Any updates on that?

Anonymous said...

hummm… So is top down working well in the SPS?

If schools were given a great deal of autonomy then many of those Top Heavy SPS downtown jobs could vanish.

In the current high tech age, a bottom up operating mode is very realistic.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of info about the central office in this SPS adopted 2015-16 budget p50-67:

http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/News/Whats%20New/adoptedbudget16.pdf


Care about SPS

mirmac1 said...

So WTF role does Misa Garmoe play? She was lesser qualified successor to Phil Brockman, who was supposedly the go between of School Operations and fill in the blank.

Anonymous said...

Interesting - they are always insisting that Central Admin is less than 6% of the total budget, but if you look at the document "Care about" linked to above, there are some fairly, well, "crafty" ways of breaking up what most of us would consider Central Administrative functions into smaller chunks:
Teaching Support = 9.5%
School Admintration = 6.1%
Other support services = 15.5%
Central Administration =5.8%
All of that adds up to a whopping 36.9% of the total budget. Seems beyond disingenuous to me - and now they want to add another layer??!! Ack this place is soooo dysfunctional!

reader47

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader 47, I have said what you are saying all along. That the Board does not realize this is troubling.

Anonymous said...

He says he only agreed to sign off on the mayor’s grand bargain if his own independent analysis confirmed the mayor’s staff analysis that the new proposal bested O’Brien’s in terms of housing production.

WOW does this bring back memories of SPS staff prepared School Board Action Reports. So many SBARs were based on fantasy without any regard for facts.

Amen to more School Members with a questioning attitude. (rather than rubber stamping)

-- Dan Dempsey

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

Dan, bonuses would produce Beacon Hill times 10. I will judge each school by the lowest performing student. AKA

US Marines

Another Name said...


See Page 38:


CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION
11 Board of Directors $ 4,377,610 $ 2,603,840 $ 4,270,653
12 Superintendent's Office 5,263,869 5,515,745 6,418,660
13 Business Office 5,790,899 6,207,175 6,980,623
14 Human Resources 4,685,999 4,705,558 5,283,638
15 Public Information 490,227 500,189 623,449
21 Supervision of Instruction 11,886,009 14,331,199 16,131,620
41 Supervision of Nutrition Services 766,624 916,965 904,898
51 Supervision of Transportation 1,125,084 1,648,618 1,876,805
61 Supervision of Maintenance and Operation 836,484 1,010,144 1,093,617
TOTAL CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION $ 35,222,804 $ 37,439,433 $ 43,583,963

Since 2013, the district has added $4.2M to "Supervision of Instruction". Total central administrative expenditure is $43.5M. Central administrative should not be above 5% of budget. Do the math.

Another Name said...

Just noticed: Since 2013, Central Administration has grown by $8.3m.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Right and they moved $14M from the Capital budget to the General Fund and I have never heard what they are spending it on. Why the Board did not press them on this issue, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Dan, bonuses would produce Beacon Hill times 10. I will judge each school by the lowest performing student. AKA

US Marines

------
If that is true, then we definitely need to stop excessive sentences for small non-violent drug crimes so there will be enough room in prison for fraudulent school employees.
Given the sentences in Atlanta, would SPS school employees choose to cheat for bonuses?

In Atlanta there were jail sentences

178 teachers and principals were found to have corrected answers entered by students. The size of the scandal has been described as one of the largest in United States history.

Teachers who confessed to cheating blamed "inordinate pressure" to meet targets set by the district and said they faced severe consequences such as a negative evaluation or termination if they didn't.

On April 1, 2015, eleven of the twelve teachers accused of being involved in the scandal were convicted on racketeering charges.

Sentences

Donald Bullock: Weekends in jail for 6 months, $5,000 fine, 5 years of probation and 1,500 hours of community service.
Sharon Davis-Williams: 20 years in prison, seven to serve, $25,000 fine and 2,000 hours of community service.
Tamara Cotman: 20 years in prison, seven to serve, $25,000 fine and 2,000 hours of community service.
Michael Pitts: 20 years in prison, seven to serve, $25,000 fine and 2,000 hours of community service.

Dana Evans: 5 years in prison, one to serve, and 1,000 hours of community service.
Angela Williamson: 5 years in prison, two to serve, $5,000 fine and 1,500 hours of community service.
Tabeeka Jordan: 5 years in prison, two to serve, $5,000 fine and 1,500 hours of community service.
Diane Buckner-Webb: 5 years in prison, one to serve, $1,000 fine, 1,000 hours in community service and first offender treatment.
Theresia Copeland: 5 years in prison, one to serve, $1,000 fine and 1,000 hours of community service.
Pamela Cleveland: 5 years probation, home confinement for a year from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and community service.

------
I doubt any of the Atlanta racketeers have a teaching or administrator's credential any longer. Anyone at Beacon Hill school convicted and sitting in prison?

Those cheaters that got caught will be hoping for the elimination of the check-boxes on employment applications that ask about committed felonies.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I believe E.R. Alvarez is the admin to Brent Kroon, who seems to still be around, and still interim. Tracy Libros is a hard one to replace.

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

I think that Michael Tolley delegating oversight of the oversight of principals is going to result in another round of nothing. He doesn't ask much of the education directors and now the whole thing will be even one step further removed. I can't understand why these people are not direct reports to the Superintendent, even the placeholder Superintendent that we have now who really should have more accountability as to how these education directors operate. And how do they operate in regards to the Special Education Director of Student Services?

Reader

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget the 100s of special education central staffers - feeding at the trough. Formerly called "consulting teachers", to describe what they did NOT do. Many have less than 5 years experience. Now they are called "program specialists" - to let everyone know what they do NOT know anything about. How could they? They have no experience. There are also myriads of special ed supervisors, and triplicate executives. Nearly all unqualified, and on their paths out of special ed. Some, were never in special ed at all. They need to prove that they have expertise in collecting as much salary as possible, for wasting as much money as possible hiring outside consultants, and spending plenty of dough sending students to maximumally expensive out of district placements. They also get to practice complaining about students with disabilities, a useful skill when these bureaucrats subsequently move out, and up the food chain.

Reader 48

Anonymous said...

If SPS thinks it's going to be business as usual in special ed come November 14th they are in for a very big surprise.

New board accountability is on its way, so the bloated central administration staff better start looking for SPS teaching positions or a different employer.

--The hand

Melissa Westbrook said...

The hand, I agree but I'm sure the powers that be have a plan.

Any actions on the part of a new Board majority (whoever that turns out to be) will be viewed as interference or micromanaging. Nyland will complain, loudly and in public. The drumbeat will start that SPS can't get anything done because of these new people on the Board.

Joe Wolf said...

E.R. Alvarez is Enrollment Planning'a admin. Brent Kroon is the interim director.

mirmac1 said...

But as long as SPS is marginally in compliance with IDEA, and OSPI continues to receive citizen complaints like that at Stevens, then Nyland's complaints will ring hollow.

Anonymous said...


As for SPED, Nyland and his gang have had plenty of time to do the right thing, but have refused or worst they simply don't know what to do. That's going to change either by the new board's will or by a court order. The board works for the public (students) not Nyland. Nyland is by the way a only temp, so he should be used to enforce the board's will on the district. The time has come for the board to micromanage SPED compliance! The time has come to split off SPED management from teaching and learning. The time has come for a separate board committee for SPED oversight.

I hope ALL of the new board candidates understand who they are accountable to and it's not Nyland. One of the most important responsibilities of the new board will be hiring a long term superintendent who works for the students and demands the best from the SPS staff.

--The hand

Anonymous said...

The hand wrote:

The board works for the public (students) not Nyland.

Theoretically yes … but….

Given the number of times past boards have preferred CYA over meeting needs of students, I am not sure for whom the board works.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the super, I thought it was very strange for Nyland to invite board candidates to his office for a meeting. What do you suppose happened at the meeting? Is it normal for the superintendent to hold a candidate meeting?


--The hand

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hand, yes, that was very odd and has not been the norm in the past.

Catherine said...

Thanks Melissa for the summary. I'd like to add here, that Mike was told long ago about the lack of community engagement in the HALA process, and did nothing. He knew there had been a community engagement in the Low Rise Code Corrections, and let selected HALA committee members gut the proposal that he tried to push through. So while we are saying about the same thing now, this is a recent change and he's come my direction.

Anonymous said...

@ Catherine
So glad you added your comments here. I have been very disappointed about Mike O'Brien's overall stance on the HALA recommendations as well as handling of other District 6 issues that should require critical thinking, representation of all constituents, public discourse and disclosure. It seems that the pushback he is getting is forcing a change in his story. He will not be getting my vote in the upcoming elections and I hope everyone makes their voices known in every district through the voting process.
-Dist6 Parent

Dist6 Mom said...

Thanks for the info - I always think that SPS administration is bloated and that more money could be diverted from that to the individual schools. Why is Mr. Nyland still allowing more new hiring in Administration. I thought he would start combining jobs and weeding things out there.

Catherine said...

@Dist6 Parent - thanks! There are a lot of "channels" of information, but Melissa (and her team) rock! and I so appreciate everything they do day in and day out for public education in Seattle. That's another area in which I differ greatly from Mike. My son graduated from NOVA - and I'm a huge supporter of Seattle Public Schools. That the HALA report tosses Seattle Schools under the bus is unacceptable.