Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mayday! Mayday! SOS! SOS!

So now do I have your attention?

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.

No kidding.

What is in the new plan?

page 8
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.

Page 9
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.

Page 10
This is where the program pathway documentation starts.  APP will not be assigned to the middle school pathway.  Nor will Spectrum.

Page 11
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.

Page 13
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.

Page 17
Oh look, here's "school choice."  First off, they say "apply for any other school during Open Enrollment through the end of September May 31. 

Page 18
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).

Page 19
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.
page 22
Appendix A of Attendance Areas and Feeder Patterns - gone


Anonymous said...

Wait- what?! Among many other changes, this new plan seems to completely remove the current pathway for APP/HCC students to attend WMS and then Garfield. Please say I'm reading this incorrectly...

For example, would current WMS APP/HCC students from West Seattle still get automatic enrollment at Garfield if this plan is approved?

Regardless of my family's specifics, how dare the district staff try to sneak all these significant changes through without any transparency, community engagement, etc.? We have to talk about later start times for three years, but completely revamping school assignments, waitlists, etc. for EVERY SINGLE SPS STUDENT gets three business days until a vote?

This attempt by central staff to slip through dramatic changes to school assignment plans with not conversation at all demonstrates unbelievable (although not unprecedented) arrogance and gall. To top it off, there's a timeline at the end of the plan that indicates that this has all been vetted through community engagement/meetings, which is complete BS, given that it was not released until 10/30 in the PM!

Is this for real?!

-Seattle Parent

Anonymous said...

This ain't no treat. Clearly a trick.

Someone needs to hunt down Dr. Libros from retirement, pay the good lady a hefty consulting fee, and sit Ashley Davies down with her, in a locked room, for a week. Possibly more. This is so out of control wrong in so many ways and that is BEFORE we discuss community engagement.

Who does Davies report to, and who is that upper management person who let this see the light of day?

Isn't this the same department who had someone else complaining that they did not want to release information because parents might start complaining er 'acting' on it?

Someone call the media while I purchase monkey suits at 50 percent off tomorrow and special deliver them down to headquarters.


Maje said...

I'm not clear on how it will improve things to dissolve wait lists on May 31, then have things first come, first served. Does this mean there will be a line of parents camping out on the night of May 31st so that they can be first on the new wait lists that start on June 1?

Anonymous said...

Here is one crucial item that MUST NOT be allowed to happen. Staff MUST NOT be allowed to insert this wording or take the action in this wording:

The updated Student Assignment Plan also eliminates information on
programs and services, which change frequently, and refers the community to the respective
program offices for the most accurate and up to date information.

No. No. Hell No.

Does not matter what department blog readers choose: Special Ed. ELL. Advanced Learning. Enrollment. In every office whether out of lack of skill, lack of caring, lack of planning, lack of resources or lack of staff, it is beyond frustrating to get timely, consistent information. Let alone that information from a real person. A real person who will confirm the discussion in email. This is and has been the situation for a decade.

And now Ashley and Flip and Larry want to codify this double-secret "changes happen frequently" so just call the program office suggestion? Want to stop issuing hard copy and electronic versions of program pathways and have us dial O for Operator down at headquarters when we want an answer? (Keeping in mind that apparently various departments shut down for months at a time. Enrollment shuts down for the summer? Seriously?) And then, telephone tag using the school directories to share the "changes frequently so don't count on this information" news?

This is not process improvement. This is not customer service. This is not professional, acceptable or even a smidgen plausible as a proposed operating procedure from downtown. This is the opposite of transparency. This is the opposite of student and family first.

And don't tell us that we need some $100K consultant for School Start Process Improvements to offer a different recommendation. Here's how you run a school district: You make program placement decisions this fall in time for discussion and final distribution prior to school tours in the winter and open enrollment in the spring. Publicize program placement in multiple languages and by multiple means of communication before open enrollment. Adjust timelines internally to make it happen.

Argh, me maties. Someone needs to walk the plank.

DistrictWatcher ******who is like the wind tonight is howling

Andrea Ptak said...

All I can say is that if there are parties considering opening new private schools in Seattle, this would be the push to make it so. Take away a guarantee to WMS and Garfield from APP families in the Southend and West Seattle and you will have people scrambling for alternative choices.

So glad we are done with all of this.

Outsider said...

In fairness to the bureaucrats, they caught hell for the October staff surprises this year, and you could say they listened to everyone who said staffing should be solid at the start of school. It sounds like after May 31, only newly registered students (i.e. those who just moved to Seattle) can get assignments of any kind.

Anonymous said...

you all are kinda being seriously silly. Most of you read the candidate endorsements of current and past school board members - Super Larry Good-low Walk-eth On the Water!! [LGL WOW! LGL WOW!]
Here is his parting gift to his doormats!
Anyone want to bet that the grumbling doormats will do the Little Bunny Dance that WA. state house Democrats do when Boeing comes knocking ???? Stomp their wittle feets and shake their wittle paws and hop sternly and frown consterntationally ... and roll over and get skinned.
Sometimes the insider back room b.s. of Seattle 'nice' politics really comes home


Anonymous said...

@ToRoost- Is there a translation to your comments? I don't get it.

@Andrea Ptak- No money for my kids to go private. We should be able to stay public and have the district keep the promise of APP/HCC WMS to Garfield without an abrupt change with no warning. Completely unacceptable.

@central staff- no levy money coming your way when you pull this kind of s$@t.

The only silver lining of my kids getting older is to be done with SPS once and for all. I can't take this anymore.

-Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

How exactly does in work to allow open enrollment applications thru May 31, but also dissolve the wait list on May 31? Instantaneous processing doesn't seem to be JSCEE's strength.


NE parent said...

The sad thing is that waitlisted don't really move until September. And it's because enrollment doesn't move them. So now, what does that mean? No movement at all and everybody goes to where they are assigned? It's less paperwork for enrollment...
We need a complete overhaul of JSCEE.

Anonymous said...

Chomsky said:
"That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital."

isn't there a push to put the district under mayoral control? and isnt there STILL a push to get charters into the state? and aren't the same private capitalists behind both pushes?

i havent been keeping track, but maybe someone should see who these district people socialise with, who they went to college with, who they worked with/for before they came to SPS....

we've been through this outrageous behaviour before.... follow the money, connect the dots....


Melissa Westbrook said...

There will be one waitlist and when it's gone, it's gone.

Yes, if you wanted to create massive upheaval, why not start with the one thing that affects ALL families?

If you wanted to point a finger and say, "just look at that chaos" so that someone - I don't know, say the City - could take over, wouldn't this be what you would push to see happen?

And if you were a couple of somebodies WITHIN the district, pushing this along to happen so you'd keep your snug jobs AND get parents off your back?


Anonymous said...

The proposed plan is particularly painful for students who find themselves drawn out of their school when boundaries change. Grandfathering isn't guaranteed like it was in the 2009 version of the Student Assignment Plan. If the proposed plan passes, grandfathering will be "if available."

From the proposed SAP (paged 9-10):

"Grandfathered Assignments

Enrollment growth and levy-funded construction occasionally result in a need to adjust school
attendance area boundaries. As growth boundary changes are implemented, students and their
families may elect to stay at their current school, through a grandfathered assignment, IF AVAILABLE.

All students enrolled with a grandfathered assignment who stay at the school are continued (grandfathered) at that school through the highest grade served by the school, as long as the school offers the services the student needs; no application is required."

I asked Enrollment Planning what "IF AVAILABLE" meant. This was their reply:

"Grandfathered assignments are contingent upon capacity. If there is enough space to retain students at their current school, through the highest grade served by that school, a grandfathered assignment will be offered to families. No application is required.

However, if there is not adequate capacity for students in change areas to remain at their previous attendance area school through the highest grade served by that school, those students will be assigned to their new attendance area school.

As a general rule, transportation is not provided for students with grandfathered assignments. (There are some exceptions for Special Education students.)"

There are 21 different boundary changes coming up in 2017 for North Seattle. The biggest "change areas" impact schools with moderate-high FRL (John Rogers, Olympic Hills, Olympic View, Northgate, Viewlands, Broadview-Thomson, etc...). There wouldn't be boundary changes planned if schools weren't having capacity how many schools will have grandfathering "available?" Is "right-sizing" school buildings more important than providing continuity?

This is very different from the current assignment plan, which guaranteed that kids who are drawn out of their school's attendance area would be grandfathered.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the current SPS leadership has totally forgotten about the kids.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Toner. Stepford Wife.

Like yeah.

cmj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Sent my email earlier today. Been thinking about this. There's a weird theory were BOTH incompetence and malice are at work. If you want to mess up things wouldn't hiring people who don't really "get" it be a fast route??? I don't know....I too think some have forgotten there are flesh and blood humans behind those numbers they play with everyday. Lordy what a colossal bleeping mess this is and will be.


cmj said...

Normally, I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories. Generally, whatever can be attributed to malice can more easily be explained by incompetence or conceit. At JSCEE, there's more than enough of both to go around.

But this? This goes beyond incompetence. This is more ridiculous than Peaslee ramming Nyland's appointment through over a holiday weekend with minimal notice to families. It was absolutely the wrong thing to do and a rather stupid decision to boot, but it can at least be explained by incompetence. The district needed a supe and if Nyland was threatening to leave in a week if he didn't get a contract(I don't know that he was, I'm just hypothesizing), I can understand the Board President making the stupid, yet well-intentioned, decision to offer him a contract before anyone objected. Hypothetically, there could have been some urgency there.

There is absolutely no urgent need to figure out student assignment plans right now. The deadline to figure student assignments out is months away -- we could even push it out a few years if we wanted to. There is no logical reason to fast-track this, so that even the Board has limited time to ponder the proposal -- unless SPS is deliberately trying to wreck the district. Even high school students could tell you that you should give the public some warning if you're going to change student assignment plans. We've gotten past the point where this can be explained by incompetence. So, as ridiculous as it may sound, I'm going with the conspiracy explanation. Not positive, because I have trouble believing that staff would endanger students' education for their own personal gain, but I'm not seeing another explanation that makes much sense. So, either a conspiracy -- or these people needed to be fired yesterday.

GarfieldMom said...

Here is your Staff Being Ambiguous or Contemptible? test question for tonight.

Ashley Davies

A) is trying to be confusing
B) didn't understand what she was trying to explain
C) is a poor communicator
D) knows she's not really being clear but it's because her boss told her to be as vague as possible

I'll be charitable and guess D.

Anonymous said...

The K-8 school change? Huh. That seems a really significant change, to not allow parents a promise they can move to a big school if needed by a student at 6th. It seems it would hurt K-8 enrollment. And wouldn't that in turn make for more crowded elementary schools? In my neck of the woods, overcrowding is a big worry.

I don't think my K-8 friends know this is in the proposal.

Some of the other proposals, like no grandfathering guarantee, also seem like a significant change. I hope staff and board give some more time to talk through these ideas.


Lynn said...


It's not just option K-8s - this change applies to attendance area K-8s too. Some kids won't be able to attend middle schools based on their address.

Jet City mom said...

My first thought is this will impact the families that can least tolerate the impact, the hardest.

Single parent families, low income families, often are forced to move in the summer but prioritize keeping their children in the same school to minimize disruption to them( which would undoubtably affect their schoolwork and behavior).
To make them change schools whenever they have to move punishes them for something that isnt under their control,

Ryan Hoffman said...

My issue in regards to the enrollment plan is access to special prograns such as the International schools. My daughter is in kindergarten, so I am just stepping into the school system. Wow, it seems tragically disfunctional and unjust. My concern is that that vast majority of international programs are neighborhood schools, and if you aren't lucky enough to have one as your neighborhood school then you are plain out of luck. The one international grade school that is an option school had waitlists so long it was astounding. If all students were chosen for these special programs by lottery, then it would be the luck of the draw. I could see how that would be unfortunate but equitable. However that is not the case. I so desperately want my child to go to a language immersion school but I am starting to see that there is no hope. This year the waitlist for international schools alone were about 250 students. Doesn't it seem unequitable that the district offers such amazing educational benefits to some students solely based on the luck of their address? Most of us are not wealthy enough to up and move in order to access these special programs. Yes some schools might have better art programs or better science programs, but all schools are required to teach those subjects to some degree. But in the case of the bilingual immersion, some students are being offered the chance to become fluent in a foreign language which is giving these students a huge advantage in not only cognitive benefits but the future job market, courtesy of our tax dollars, while my local school has absolutely no foreign language program. None. 0. It is so ridiculously stunningly unfair. I have written letters, been promised a meeting which in turn has been put off for months, contacted the ombudsman (who seemed to agree with me), talked at the school board public testimony, and I want to continue to try to address this. I appreciate any of you who might have some insight into this because clearly a lot of you know more about the inner workings of the school system. Thanks.

Ryan Hoffman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You are right Melissa, this is an emergency. The teacher reassignment debacle is being used as a wedge to stuff changes into assignment policy. Lack of access to comprehensive middle schools is indefensible.

Erasing grandfathering is an attempt to legally acknowledge the practices already being used e.g. when JAMS opened and the whole point then was that there was not space to grandfather everyone at Hamilton: if everybody entitled by policy had stayed at Hamilton there would have been room for only a small a 6th grade and JAMS would have been nearly entirely 6th grade, so the required grandfathering was dumped in favor of a better mix of students. They are anticipating similar situations in future school openings.

Do you remember the sibling assignment rule from the old assignment plan? For decades, a student whose older sibling attended a school got FIRST priority for assignment to that school, so families could be assured they would not have to deal with multiple elementary schools, middle schools, high schools. Tracy Libros was certain that would not work during the first couple of years of transition to the new assignment plan. But after the transition, the sibling rule did not reappear. Families assigned to their neighborhood school did not demand it. But with changing boundaries it becomes more visible.

The new assignment plan trades all of the problems of the old plan for the different problems that families experience in other districts that Seattle is now trying to emulate. Families should speak up - loudly - when things get as bad as the current proposal.


Charlie Mas said...

For those who are not seeing the problems with program pathways that other people are seeing, think of this: the plan says that students are assigned to their attendance area school unless that school does not offer the services the student needs. Sounds innocuous enough, doesn't it? Sounds like HCC students will still be assigned to the HCC pathway school - Thurgood Marshall, Washington, Garfield, for example.
But wait a minute! Isn't it now state law that HC services are part of basic education? Didn't the District commit to providing HC services (it's a service, not a program) to HC students wherever they attend school?
This assignment policy completely eliminates HCC sites and programs and replaces them with HC services at every school.
Some may deny that now, but it certainly paves the way for that change. All it takes is for the District to claim that HC services are available at every school as part of basic education, and HCC is gone.

Anonymous said...

I think staff is trying to ram this through before a new board comes in. Wonder what other power grabs they'll be trying to slip through.

HS Parent

Anonymous said...

Would that statement, "unless that school does not offer the services the student needs" also apply to a student who may need to see a specialist like a speech therapist or reading specialist? Could the District technically reassign your child to a different school under this wording?

Lynn said...

I want to clear something up about grandfathering. Under the current plan, children who move have to change schools already. (And yes - this affects poor children the most.)

The change in the new plan relates to the opening of new schools or redrawing boundaries. When Sand Point and McDonald reopened, they were roll-ups. Only kindergarteners and older students who moved into the neighborhood were assigned to these schools in their first year. The next year they had kindergarteners and first graders, etc. Fairmount Park was opened as a roll-up. This works well for an elementary school as long as there are not a couple of children in each in the upper grades. (I think older children should not be assigned to a roll-up.)

When JAMS opened, the original plan was to make it a roll-up too. Parents of soon-to-be JAMS sixth graders howled that this was unfair because the school would be too small to provide a variety of electives if only 6th graders were assigned. 7th and 8th graders were pulled out of HIMS and Eckstein because they convinced the board this was necessary.

Under the proposed plan, elementary students might be pulled out of their schools to populate another. There's no way of knowing what might happen for a particular school because that decision will be made by staff without board approval and the public notice that provides.

This is the real problem - we do not trust staff in enrollment planning, special education, advanced learning, etc to make the right decisions, in a timely manner and to be consistent in applying them. When board approval is required, we get notice of upcoming changes and can give the board some input. If board oversight is not required, rules can be changed on a whim. Children deserve some stability.

Lynn said...

The HCC situation is curious. Staff is already assigning students to a school that doesn't provide the self-contained classes board policy requires (JAMS.) Planning for another blended program at Madison is underway. I agree that this is worse - but only because it means the change can happen for any region at any time without notice and without community engagement.

Anonymous said...

A brief overview of the plan looks to my eyes like the first truly official, codified elimination of HCC/APP. I agree with Charlie on that point. Furthermore, it doesn't seem like it will require the district to claim services are available - that will be left to the discretion of each Principal. And his or her decision will, of course, be driven by capacity constraints not what is best for the student or what actual services exist at the school.

-SPS parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ryan, you are right on all points about international schools. Many of us pointed this out right when the expansion started happening and pathways were created.

John Stanford Int'l School existed by itself for a long time and staff/parents worked very hard to create a great school. So it seemed logical to expand a very popular program. But they did not do a lottery (as they should have and made them option schools).

As well, you have this terrible unevenness where the north-end elementary int'ls raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund IAs (and IAs are the only way to make a program truly work) and the south-end int'ls don't have to because they can use IAs funded from Title One dollars.

Of course, these programs should be accessible to all but Board after Board kicks it down the road.

Anonymous said...

I find it particularly ironic that they are saying they need to do this "because services change so often." Well whose fault is that?? And to eliminate family complaints about improperly applied policy. Another way to reduce family complaints about improper policy application is... apply policy properly.

I don't think they could physically dismantle HCC anytime soon- with the numbers of kids who stream out of Eckstein alone, the border would have to be down around 65th to keep the school under 1200. Not to mention Roosevelt. Elementary school boundaries are easier to jigger with(since there are more), but Bryant would probably also have to be out of its reference area, since I don't think it can fit an extra 100 kids, and Sand Point and Laurelhurst both have smaller capacities. But they certainly could work to it with this language.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Sleeper, I was thinking the same thing! Does every single district have the same kinds of changes that SPS has? I doubt it.

Kristin said...

This all seems so bizarre and random. It looks to me like somebody within the district wants the district to fail, for whatever reason -- mayoral control, increased private school enrollment, making families flee to the suburbs . . . who knows? I like Sahila's suggestion that we look into the social circles of the top brass at central office. Follow the money, indeed.

I'm completely swamped but if somebody could put together a short paragraph explaining concisely what the problem is and how to contact the school district, I'll make sure to send it out on social media.


Melissa Westbrook said...

My tweets:

Seattle Scls considering overhaul of assignment plan w/o advance notification to parents. Gives more power to Sup.

Seattle Schls massively overhauls student assignment plan w/o much notice to Sch Bd & nearly zero notice to parents.

Carolyn said...

Looks like HCC cohort schools are going away with this language, and could be soon. Absolutely maddening. I've emailed the board to oppose. What else can I do?

Anonymous said...

Some may deny that now, but it certainly paves the way for that change. All it takes is for the District to claim that HC services are available at every school as part of basic education, and HCC is gone.

I'd say SPS already paved the way for no self-contained HCC middle school classes by 1) eliminating advanced curriculum in LA/SS (the curriculum is aligned to grade level standards, and no materials are purchased specifically for advanced readers), 2) eliminating self-contained classes, and 3) leaving AL oversight and decisions to the building principal. They will call it a success, based on performance on grade level standards (students are not being taught beyond standard) and it will become the new model, despite the academic needs of advanced learners going unmet. They will throw in some canned social/emotional program and claim this is supporting their needs. HCC, as a program that meets the academic needs of highly capable students, is already gone.


What now? said...

So, I'm trying to figure out the whole grandfathering-hcc interplay under this new proposal. If highly capable services are offered at the neighborhood high school (which I'm sure the district could claim for any high school with AP classes), would the current GHS kids have to move back to their schools?

Tresanos said...

I am still confused about the waitlist dissolving 5/31. Does that mean a new waitlist will be created after that, first come first served, or is there simply zero movement after 5/31? What if there is a highly underenrolled school that families then want to move in to say September 10th, because for example a student's assigned school has 30 in class, but underenrolled neighboring school is at 20 and welcoming new families (so they don't have to lose a teacher). Do any of you who have read and re-read the fine print have any thoughts about this?

Anonymous said...

I just sent an email to the board regarding this despicable bait and switch, and hope others will do the same.

The district presented one plan in the community meetings (and that plan was bad enough), but then submitted a completely different plan to the board at the 11th hour, with ZERO notice to parents. The board is supposed to serve the kids/families of this district, not kowtow to district staff who thank them for "feedback" but just continue with their duplicity. The board definitely needs to reject this new plan or table it indefinitely.

If the board approves this dramatically altered version of the plan on Wednesday, it's going to completely upend this already dysfunctional district. It will also be another nail in the coffin for the upcoming school levies.

-Seattle parent

Tresanos said...

Never mind, I just tead Melissa's next post and it looks like the waitlist questions are not addressed in the redlined SAP.

Watching said...

Adding onto WSDWG's documents. Here are the district's documents and timeline:

1. September 17th Operations Committee meeting.

2. For Intro on October 7th:

No red-lines.

3. Version for board vote:

These documents are dense. Perhaps I am missing something, but I'm not seeing the May 31st cut-off date, and information related to program pathways.

The board would be smart to take this item off the agenda and convene an Operation Committee meeting of the whole.

I've not forgotten that the district attempted to dismantle Creative Approach schools during Collective Bargaining talks. Attempts to dismantle Creative Approach schools were buried in CBA/ negotiating documents- without ONE word of public notice.

Anonymous said...

Apologies if this is too coarse for blog eyes: WTF.

Sign me


kellie said...

IMHO, this plan is a disaster. It completely and totally removes all board oversight from the parts of the plan that matter to families and matter to work of education, inside the buildings.

By taking all education programming out of the assignment plan and into a superintendent document, there will be NO oversight of the work of education. This new process presumes that every seat, at every school in every program is identical and any detail that makes a seat different is a central admin decision ONLY, with no review by either the board or the public.

Having followed and testified on assignment plan topics for 13 year now, I want to set the record straight on something about parent input. (And Yikes! That officially does make me some version of public school cheerleader / crazy-ocd-capacity-lady.)

No amount of howling or whining from a community has ever gotten the board or staff to change course. From the capacity issues in the old choice plan, to the Queen Anne High School issue, to the school closures to this current version of the assignment craziness. The only thing that has ever caused a change of course is highlighting some cold reality that makes it impossible to continue on the same course.

Future-JAMS parents not-wanting-a-roll-up, did not cause the geo-split. The simple fact that Hamilton could not handle grandfathering, caused the geo-split. This was shown when the year after the geo-split, Hamilton was still 100 students over capacity.

The cold-reality here ... is that this will remove all board oversight from the work of education.

Simply having program placement as a purely Superintendent procedure has already caused the inability for the public and the board to provide input and oversight into the work of education - think the closure of middle college. Historically, the reason the growth under the choice plan was NOT visible to the board and to the public was because the continuous movement of special education "programs" from full schools to less full schools, kept it off the radar.

This new "plan" institutionalizes that process and makes it so that staff can move any part, at any time, with no process from either the board or the public.

It took YEARS to migrate from the old choice plan to this plan. While a too-lengthy process has its own problems, it should not take MINUTES to completely revokes the remaining elements of the choice system.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone tells their neighbors who might not read this blog about this debacle. Tell them to write. to call, to send up flares, to rent airplanes with banners saying in massive letters "SPS CAN'T BE TRUSTED WITH MY CHILD'S EDUCATION!"

I hope Director Peaslee's in-box is full of emails from us pesky public and that maybe just maybe Director McLaren will see Dr. Nyland is not the knight in shining armor she seems to believe. This is nothing less than a power grab. The admin is making it clear they see both the Board and the Public as being in the way of what THEY want to do.

Well gee guys - did you want that upcoming Levy passed? Because as far as I'm concerned, you can kiss it goodbye with these kind of manipulative shenanigans.


Ryan O'Donnell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GarfieldMom said...

Ryan, yes yes yes to everything you said about the immersion schools, and I particularly note your comment about the cognitive benefits of acquiring a second language (especially at a young age). Talk about inequity. For those interested, here's a great summary of the research on the cognitive benefits of bilingualism. The Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual

Anonymous said...

By divesting the Board of meaningful authority and decision-making power, this elimination of programming in the district turns the board into watchers and witnesses only, and no longer "directors" of any sort in our district.

We will have de facto mayoral control of our schools from the guy who can't keep our streets safe or clean by simpling planting a compliant replicant in the office of SI. After reading everything on this blog, and being deeply involved in the national watch dog efforts to protect our public schools over the past 10 years, there is now no doubt in my mind that this is a textbook "executive" power grab not unlike what we've seen with Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Rick Snyder in Michigan.

And it disappoints me even more that SI Larry Nyland's blessings are all over it. There is no way this occurs without his input, compliance, and full support. No way in hell.

We need a new SI that has open contempt for dishonest bureaucrats and promises to clean house in JSCEE. No more go-along-to-get-along, back-stabbing, two-faced Ed Reform toadies like Banda and Nyland. Trouble is, I'm not sure any such people with SI qualifications can exist anymore in urban public education, except for the loneliest of loners with brick $hithouse-thick moral fiber.

I know I've grown much older and crabbier each year in SPS, aging faster than I should. But when and where I grew up, my district had no PR department, because we didn't need it. People just told the truth. What I wouldn't give to see that in SPS, for once.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Nov has only just started and already this school year SPS admin has managed to:
1. Preside over the first teachers strike in decades (largely as a result their failure to properly engage the teachers union and negotiate the terms/conditions over summer and the introduction of last minute introduction of controversial conditions)
2. Outrage many parents with the new math scope in sequence debacle. The newly adopted math curriculum MIF is essentially now just an optional resource that teachers many use, while they follow the new, still in development, district math department scope and sequence. No public consultation or notification. No board input. Huge concern to anyone interested in good, equitable math instruction - (which we finally looked to be getting with MIF).
3. Outrage parents at multiple schools with October staff cuts - district gets enrollment predictions wrong, students suffer.
4. Outrage QAE parents by firing their longstanding principal in late October and disrupting another school by transferring their assistant principal to QAE. Arguably a justified dismissal but why 2 months into the school year and not over summer? 2 communities impacted.
5. This proposed student assignment plan - I don't even know where to start. So many implications. It has potential to affect all students and will basically removed any checks and balances that may have been in place to hold this run-away administration in check. HCC, SpED, International schools, K-8s, families who move house, families who want choice...... all are at whim of district without any board input/oversight (the board represents interests of community). They are either incredibly stupid and tone death to what the community thinks of them or incredibly sure of themselves to try and push this through at the last minute. I guess never being challenged by the board might have given this sense of being untouchable.

There may be other examples that have really raised public/parent ire in the past couple of months - I am not abreast with all issues, esp involving SpED, ELL so the list might be longer.
But the fact is there have been at least 5 major public/parent- relation debacles so far this year and yet the district seems oblivious and impervious to it. There really is no stopping them.
It's time to say enough is enough. I've said it in regard to the staff cuts and in regard to the math scope/sequence issue, and I'll say it again now....

Time for a revolution

CL said...

Did anyone notice that all instances of the word Montessori are red lined?


Unknown said...

All references to programs (Sped, ELL, Montessori, HCC, Spectrum, etc.) are redlined/deleted so that changes can be made within Superintendent Procedures, which do not require Board votes.

You might interpret the intent as being an easy way to get rid of some of those programs. In my view, the intent is irrelevant. All thAt matters is that the effect is less transparency and accountability.


Anonymous said...

So the upcoming November 4th board vote is a vote by the Board to divest itself of authority an further limit its own oversight and power on behalf of its constituents, and cede it to a single executive and whatever minions he or she chooses to appoint.

And, of course, Harium MM is "all in" supporting it, lamely arguing it was "mentioned" before.

Could anyone, anywhere, set the bar any lower for staff public engagement & compliance than Harium? What do they have on him? Good grief!


Melissa Westbrook said...

WSDWG, I agree on M-M. I'm going to go look at the minutes from that meeting of the Whole he referenced.

M-M is someone I do not get. He wasn't at the Public Comment meeting/Work Session because he was at a conference. It's the waning days of his term and he still had to go to yet ANOTHER conference.

Anonymous said...

If this board passes the plan, could the newly elected board make changes to it?

North by NW

Anonymous said...

What does this sentence at the bottom of p3 mean? Does this mean staff actually CAN'T make changes to the existing plan without Board approval? Or does "refer to the Superintendent’s Procedures for Student Assignment" adequately specify otherwise?

"Unless otherwise specified, boundaries, feeder patterns, option school GeoZones, and assignment rules remain in effect until there are changes approved by the School Board."

still concerned

Anonymous said...

Enrollment used to be an area where the board directors could trust for clarity and full disclosure as to policy. If this SAP passes that era has come to an end. I would like the board to take back more oversight - such as Program Placement - vs. give away the farm.

I finally read through the red lined document. I've read through a lot of Assignment Plans in trying to help others. I can offer a little more background on how the Wait list works...If you apply during Open Enrollment (at any time), once the enrollment period ends all of the applications are processed together. The Wait list order is determined by the tie breakers. If this plan passes the tie breakers for attendance area schools will be 1. Sibling and 2. Lottery number (removing distance.) For option schools it will be 1. sibling, 2. Geo Zone, 3. Lottery.

If you apply for a school after Open Enrollment ends and there is no space available you will be put on the end of the wait list for that school on a first come, first serve basis. So, if you apply to attend a school the day after open enrollment ends, and you are the only one to apply on that day, you will be added to the end of the Wait list. If two people apply the day after open enrollment ends then the order they are added to the end of the Wait list will be determined by Lottery number. Anyone who applies on the second day after open enrollment will be added after those that applied on the first day after open enrollment, etc.

Hope that helps.


Melissa Westbrook said...

North by NW, yes the Board could revise it. Of course, that would raise all kinds of ire from staff and accusations of "micromanaging" from outside. The new Board will have to make the decision that is in the best interests of students, parents and taxpayers.

Kirsty said...

thank you for keeping us informed. this is concerning and utterly ridiculous.

definitely time for change.

Anonymous said...

If the district doesn't want to have waitlists, they need to quit creating a bunch of different programs at different schools. How about making all schools "good" schools, funding them equitably, giving all schools nurses and counselors so that kids with physical or mental needs can attend their neighborhood school, providing teachers ongoing training in differentiating learning, and only having special programs that are federally mandated.

Oh, and waitlists didn't start moving until the week before school started, and many choice schools did not have seats filled even though they had folks on the waitlist. The whole waitlist process is a farce. There does not seem to be a process at all.

-Elementary Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

It was pointed out to me that most of the 600 seats unfilled this fall were probably not at option schools and maybe not at more popular (for lack of a better word) schools. That might be true but if the district doesn't say, then how do we know?

I understand the need to keep a few open seats especially in neighborhoods where schools fill for people who move into Seattle.

But staff said there would be a plan to fill empty seats at popular schools and yet, it's not in this plan.

There is just too much left unexplained. This is not a plan, it's a template.

kellie said...

I only have the information on the K8 shortfall, based on the information that mirmac posted. I do not have any data on high school.

There were 49 schools that were under projections out of 80 elementary, middle and K8. 49 schools is 61% of all these schools, so that means schools with and without waitlists were both under their projections.

IMHO, a shortfall at 2/3 of the schools, is simply a massive failure of both open enrollment and waitlist management and once again shows the many, many things that Dr. Libros managed behind-the-scenes.

This plan, for lack of a better words, is effectively, an admission that when a district is running at more than 100% capacity, enrollment is hard. Because yes, when there is no slack in the system, enrollment is hard.

Anonymous said...

But this "plan" doesn't solve those problems, kellie, it just pushes the decisions to other departments. It all still has to be figured out and written into the Superintent's Procedures on Student Assignment. The hard work still has to happen, so the the only job this makes easier is the job of writing THIS plan...but they still need a different plan, the procedures. All this does is shut the Board and public out. Aha, I guess THAT'S how it makes their jobs easier!


Anonymous said...

Nathan Hale knew it was underenrolled this summer so they begged to move the waitlist and let the kids who wanted to go there in. They let in 30 ninth graders and that was pretty much it. That still put Hale 30 under the number that enrolled last year in 9th grade and 10 under the May numbers for 9th grade. Still don't understand why they couldn't let more of those kids in who wanted to be there.


Maureen said...

I agree that it was good for Hale to move their waitlist, but if Hale's is moved and Ingraham's and Roosevelt's (etc.) aren't, any gain to Hale, comes at the expense of the other schools. How it nets out depends.

I have never understood why HSs were not permitted to remain open choice in the "New" Assignment Plan. They spent years differentiating themselves all for nothing.

kellie said...

@ HF,

This "plan" does not solve the complexity problem regarding trying assign students to schools that have already used up all of their capacity flexibility. AND .... while in theory all of the complexity gets moved from a public document to an internal procedure document ... that complexity may just vanish.

So the official answer is that I just call, Sped, Highly Capable, or the ELL departments and ask about where my student will be assigned. The official answer will most likely be that ... my neighborhood school will have all of those services so just go there.

When Middle College was closed last year, the "official" answer was this closure was an internal matter, not subject to board review, or public meeting. Therefore, the public and the board do not have any standing to offer an opinion.

However, when a "building" is closed, there are laws that require public notice, public comment and board votes. These laws are based on the idea that what happens inside a building and the building are one-and-the-same. Only in Seattle, do we clearly separate the work-of-education from the location of the work.

Anonymous said...

@ kellie, you're right, and that's probably the goal-- to eliminate complexity from not only the Student Assignment Plan, but also the Procedures. But in so doing, they'd be creating a new complexity around school boundaries, which will need to be changed again--for elem, middle and high schools, all. A district-wide reshuffling. Not fun, but probably what we can look forward to.


TechyMom said...

I think it is time to admit that the NSAP has been an utter failure, repeal it, return to open choice, and start investigating some minor tweaks for people who move here in the summer or turn in their paperwork late, and a modern computer system. This would allow a return to site-based management, which would in turn allow a significant reduction in central staff.

Lynn said...

Are you suggesting that as a capacity management tool? Uncertainty in assignments and (sometimes awful) site-based management pushed families into private schools and the suburbs.

TechyMom said...

I'm suggesting that on every measure I can think of, the current system is worse than the previous one: Diversity, family choice of pedagogy, capacity management, ability for parents and students to influence what happens at their school, central admin bloat, student and family experience, differentiation, equitable access, and probably others I am forgetting. The only improvements are around what happens where previous bad decisions have left coverage holes (cough, Queen Anne, cough), and what happens for new students and those who miss open enrollment. I submit that these could be fixed with minor tweaks to the old plan, without the many downsides of the new plan.

TechyMom said...

The tests have changed, so it's hard to make an apples to apples comparison, but as far as I can tell, test scores and achievement gaps are pretty much the same. That's to be expected, since these correlate to family income and mother's education level, more than to anything that happens at school.