I am going to try to channel Ernest Hemingway and write in short, declarative sentences.
Send this thread to your PTA/PTO president. If for no other reason than to notify them because Seattle Schools is NOT going to until it is all a done deal.
There is a Board meeting this week on Wednesday, Nov. 4th, starting at 4:15 pm.
On the long agenda is this item - Approval of the Student Assignment Plan.
Since the original overhaul of the student assignment plan several years back (dubbed New Student Assignment Plan), there have been various tweaks. Small ones.
But now the staff tried with the Board and is now trying with parents to, basically, sneak in HUGE changes that will affect every single family. This is what I hope the NEW Board will say, no (and hell no) to. If the current Board votes yes, it's a vote against transparency and families.
From WSDWG from Friday, October 30th:
JSCEE staff slipped this in today, at the last minute, and much later than it's purported time of 4:15 p.m. (Total BS. There was nothing on the SPS sight at 4:55 p.m., when I last looked).
The "it?" The red-lined version of the Student Assignment Plan.
BAR with redlined Student Assignment Plan. There is some irony that I write this on Halloween as the red-lined version looks like a bloodbath. I note the BAR has the good grace to no longer say that these are "minor" revisions.
I was looking for it as well and it was verified to me that Board members did not receive this before Friday. As you will read below, many on the Board were very uncomfortable with NOT getting timely information. This red-lined version is NOT timely to the Board or parents. Shame on the staff for this.
I will have a separate thread for what (and where) you can show your displeasure but you should be up in arms over this.
The three major items that are to be changed are the date when the waitlist dissolves AND program pathways AND grandfathering.
The change to program pathways will shift power from the Board to the Superintendent. Understand that the Superintendent already has the power of program placement. But how programs move from one grade level to another was part of the assignment plan and the Board has to sign off on the assignment plan.
Staff has inserted the words "if available" into grandfathering if you move and you want your child to remain in his/her current school. This also comes without notice. Again, if your family moves out of your assignment area, your child will likely NOT be able to stay in his/her current school the next year unless already grandfathered.
Also, if you can't get required services at your current school, you will have to change schools.
This issue was discussed at an Operations Committee meeting in late September. There was NO red-lined assignment plan given to the members of the Committee. It had NO information about program pathways. In the document, the waitlist date was September 30th.
When this item was introduced on October 7th, there was NO red-lined version given to Directors or the public. Again, there was no mention of changing program pathways. There was no mention that staff wanted to change the waitlist cut off to May 31st. It had only been mentioned as possibly in the spring.
This was the same for the Operations Committee of the Whole weeks later. (Director Martin-Morris said, at the last Board meeting, that this was all brought up. Brought up is different from discussed.)
Then came the Board meeting of Oct 21st where this was to be voted on. What unfolded was classic staff action.
October 21st Board meeting discussion
Dr. Herndon was not at the meeting so in his stead was the very new and fresh-faced Director of Enrollment, Ashley Davies. (I have no idea how all these new young staff members so quickly learn the art of the blank face and the quick statements. She must have learned from the master, Cashel Toner, who says a lot but not a lot with any real substance.)
Ms. Davies explains that there are "no changes to the BAR" but they want to have the date of May 31st as the cut-off date for the waitlist. Davies explains that there are multiple documents about assignment because of the many programs and this final document is an effort to streamline it.
Peaslee asks, "Where's this waitlist date, I can't find it in the document." Immediately ears perked up on the Board.
Davies says that they didn't put it in but have decided on May 31st. That is jaw-dropping. Staff came up with a date and, at the very last minute, handed it over to the Board (and the public, I guess) as a fait accompli.
Carr then made clear that the September 30th date that is currently in the NSAP is there. Yes. And this new date will be in the new document? Yes. Carr then says well, that isn't codified here.
Davies tries to deflect by saying there are several non-dates like the open enrollment period.
Blanford asks for analysis on changing the waitlist date.
Davies said they wanted a date before the end of a current school year. She said that Enrollment is closed duirng the summer for "system cleanup" and not much waitlist movement happens in the summer. They wanted more time for staffing adjustments and this would move that up.
To note, Davies referenced "choice seats" twice in this discussion with the Board as if they truly exist. I went thru the Assignment Plan and the only "choice" is for siblings. Every other notation of the word "choice" has been redlined.
Patu asked about "another waitlist" if open seats are available when school starts. Davies said there would be only one waitlist and it would dissolve on May 31st.
Peaslee again said that the date is not in the document so that's not what they are voting on.
Carr said that holding the waitlist until September is disruptive and she and Davies both said other districts around us close theirs at the end of the school year. She also said that they were moving from one assignment document with a firm date to one without a date.
Carr seemed troubled by putting in a date after a vote. She looked to John Cerqui, General Counsel, for help but he never came to the podium. (He may have signaled her off-camera.)
Martin-Morris then offers an amendment to stick the date in. Carr asks Davies if this is a firm date or would it move. Davies said it was firm and if they wanted to change it again, they would come back to the Board for approval.
Discussion on Amendment
Peters asks why May 31st and what the district would do with another 600 empty spots like they had this year? Davies said she couldn't say nothing could happen but "we want to give families more assurance earlier on." That's probably true and it is probably true that there are parents who hold on until way late to a seat. But that doesn't make how this is unfolding any better.
Peters also was the first to bring up the issue of program pathways. Davies said that, previously, parents had been directed to other webpages for info in ELL, etc programs and that it was confusing.
McLaren said she was "uncomfortable" with this and "it's a pretty big change and not documented in the plan and I'm reluctant to approve an amendment that makes such a dramatic change without prior notice." She said yes, they had talked about it some in committee meetings but that the public has not had much notice.
Davies said that staff did tell public they were anticipating a spring waitlist date in community meetings. (And those community meetings? Thrown in with competing bell times meetings right when school started and without all this change being announced.)
Peaslee said she didn't recall detailed committee discussion and certainly no red-lined version. She said she was not opposed to changes but this puts the Board "in a position to vote on something we haven't discussed" or vetted and should delay this item.
Patu was in agreement with Peaslee. She said this was not "transparency."
Martin-Morris said it did come up and both things were brought up. (Again, was that discussion or just noting of?)
Davies said she "appreciated the feedback" on the non-specific date but that it had been mentioned to the community. I don't know if Ms. Davies understands that the Board is not giving her feedback; they are telling her that her efforts are not up to par for transparency and early communications to parents on key issues.
Blanford asked about delaying the issue until next Board meeting. She said that was okay but that they wanted to get info to parents about enrollment.
Oh PLEASE. The staff can't be bothered to get this out BEFORE the Board votes but afterwards, then they are worried for parents.
Carr seemed glad to change the waitlist date because of all the blowback from the staffing changes after school started. That's fine but please don't let staff off the hook for the late notice to parents and the public.
So Martin-Morris withdrew his motion and they tabled the vote.
But Peaslee did circle back to what happens when they have vacancies in September? Carr said staff needed to answer that question.
What is in the new plan?
It would appear that families will no longer get a letter about their continuing assignments or new assignments.
Also, K-8 NO longer have an assignment to their attendance area middle school.
Also, if you have "required services" and they are no longer at your current attendance school, you can't stay there. Oddly, it seems to say that students at option schools CAN stay even if required services aren't there.
Addresses grandfathering if you move.
Want to know where the next City Pre-K class is? South Shore. Because the new plan strikes out the notation that students attending pre-k at South Shore will be assigned to South Shore.
This is where the program pathway documentation starts. APP will not be assigned to the middle school pathway. Nor will Spectrum.
Program pathway about International Schools.
It appears if you choose a K-8, you better be committed because I think it would be difficult to change to a regular middle school under this plan.
Talks about possible enrollment growth/construction of new schools and changes to boundaries. On the one hand, it says you can stay at your current school "through a grandfathered assignment, if available." And if you get that golden ticket, you can stay there thru the highest grade served.
NO explanation of how you get grandfathered.
Pages 14-17 whack thru "Access to Programs and Services" pretty thoroughly.
Oh look, here's "school choice." First off, they say "apply for
Tiebreakers. It's sibling, then lottery for all attendance schools (distance is out for middle school and it appears that the feeder school lineage for West Seattle high schools is gone).
Read how you get on a waitlist.
If there are multiple students added to the same school/grade/program
waiting waitlist on the same day, those students only will only be sequenced by lottery. (They will not move ahead of students already on the waiting list from Open Enrollment or from a previous day.)
This would seem to indicate that you should enroll early because they will NOT be taking all the names on the waitlist into a lottery. If someone enrolls days ahead of you, they'll be on the waitlist before you will.
Appendix A of Attendance Areas and Feeder Patterns - gone