Wednesday, November 18, 2015

School Board Meeting, Part Two

Carr restarts meeting, mentioning the number of Action Items to get thru (and says that some Board members had previously left during Intro items - I didn't know this - and as long as there are four of them, they can do the work.)

Action Item
Collective Bargaining Agreement with Automotive Machinists (for Intro/Action but AGAIN, that action was supposed to be for emergencies.) Passes 7-0

Transportation Standards and Revised Bell Times for 2016-2017
All the tv people jump into action.
Pegi McEvoy talked about updates since introduction.  Appeals process added, sunsetting of Hazel Wolf transportation due to move from interim site to permanent site, formatting, updated district eligibility.  (Mentioned something about Sped transportation that I didn't follow.)  Went thru PowerPoint and mentioned "heroic work" by staff and she thanked many by name.

McEvoy talked about "streamlining" and cost-neutral re-routing that may be able to happen but only if schools volunteer because of the disruption it may be for some schools.  Would be a "community conversation."

McEvoy mentioned the issues with Sped parents over transportation.  Not sure if I followed it well but she said IEPs drive Transportation.

Passes 6-1 (Blanford said that it was unfair to Tier Three students.  As well, Carr noted that SPS pays 3x more than any other district in the state for transportation.  She's right; something needs to change.)

Approval of the Student Assignment Transition Plan for 2016-2017
Flip Herndon talked about the work.  Received "a tremendous amount of feedback" from calls, e-mails and community meetings.  As a result, we realize more work to do, work in front of you, this is a one-year transition plan.  

Other modifications but in a year, working with community and new Board, will have more changes.

Ms. Davies followed-up about feedback with community and 2009 SAP is still intact.

Two policies changes on waitlist dissolution date and distance tiebreaker.  Based on feedback, with waitlist dissolution date, we still anticipate making waitlist moves mostly by May 31st but the waitlist will NOT be dissolved until August 15th.  Gives us the year to see how process works in anticipation of the next SAP.

Peaslee - by keeping waitlist in place until August 15th, keeps Option Schools in loop?
Davies - so it will be possible if there are some shift that happens but looking to make waitlist moves by May 31st so that will make greater predictability for schools.  (I'm not sure what this all means.)
Herndon - we did hear concerns from Options Schools about waitlist and their existence.  They value those schools and are not trying to undermine them.  Trying to be more efficient and move waitlist sooner.  Referenced AL and the waiting for eligibility which creates shifts.

Peaslee - with Option Schools, concern is losing FTE.  And always a lot of high demand.  Option after filling seats there after August 15th?
Herndon - depends on movement earlier but hoping to follow-up more diligently with families.  Can also look at trends for schools and grade level. Fiscal reality to being able to "meet educational needs across district."  Can't say 100% "no staff adjustment" but trying to get the best data on what is happening earlier.

Carr talked about staff being able to "balance" assignment and so, then, might skip someone on the waitlist to balance another school.  (This I did not follow well.)

Blanford called enrollment "doing your magic" and worries over community trust in the process.

Peters - clarify that version voting on does not remove any pathways?
Davies - all that language is in the plan tonight.
Peters - just two changes?
Davies - updating language - programs, school names

Vote - 7-0 yes

Well, I am sorry because I just messed up and deleted all the minutes I had on this discussion.  I'll try to reconstruct later but this passed 7-0.

2015-2016 Board Governance Priorities and Superintendent Evaluation Instrument, SMART Goals

 The amendments 1 and 2 (same goal item) will be discussed first and then voted on before the entire item itself.

Amendment 1 
McLaren (amendment sponsor) spoke first.  Board considered language over several work sessions and inclusive language.  Board has fluctuated language and she wants to emphasize AA males.  She says research shows inclusive language doesn't work and invites bias.  

I do understand why this work is important to call out for specific groups and the work in SPS has started with AA males but why calling out all the groups will dilute/hurt anything is still unclear to me.  The other amendment doesn't put all groups together.

?  Carr - back to "AA males and other underserved groups"
McClaren - right

 Blanford - will support this amendment.  Talked about "targeted universalism" and how targeting one group helps other groups (versus lumping groups together under one umbrella.)  He referenced a district in Montgomery County in Maryland and how this has worked.  (I would have to ask if that growth is solely because of this initiative.)
He said "Black lives do matter."

Peters - both amendments move in same direction and are both specific.  Not sure in conflict.  She said I'm confused and wished they had done this in a work session and not with amendments.
? if we pass first amendment, do we consider second amendment?
Carr - vote on first one and if passes, that's the end of vote.  But then, she changed that and said no, discussion of both amendments first and THEN a vote.

Martin-Morris - we did have a robust discussion about this and there was a division on Board but majority that evening decided on change of language.  Blanford and M-M did NOT want the change. Pleased that McLaren has put forth this language.  Said that there was concrete data from Oakland and Montgomery County that it works.  Don't want fighting over "the crumbs" instead of doing the work.

Amendment 2
Peaslee spoke passionately about making sure that all groups are called out but the focus is on AA males.  She worries that without that, it looks like the only focus is AA males.  
Patu said that she didn't want groups put together but wanted to focus on AA males but making sure that the success for that group makes for progress with other groups.

Carr thinks amendment reads as an increase in scope.

Peaslee said no added scope and asked staff about making sure of language.  And used McLaren's own chart to show what challenges all groups have.

Carr asked about Peters' question about legal issue.

Blanford said he wasn't an expert but listening to Martin-Morris' remark about edu-speak.  He thinks difference between amendments is that #1 is targeted universalism but #2 is not.  Because focus on all populations gives teachers ability to not focus on any of them. 

Peters asked again, both of these put language back in SMART goal about AA males and that seems to be direction we all want.  But #2 does say focusing on AA males, so how does that dilute the scope?

Blanford, "not interested in getting into a debate" standing by remarks.  (Wow, that's kind of rude.  She asked a question about the amendment and he seemed to snarl back.) 

Peters said she wasn't creating a debate and wished they had a presentation about this issue.  Read the sentence to ask how it didn't serve the SMART goal.

McLaren pointed out another statement to talking about different groups.  

Peaslee said original language as McLaren called out.  What Peaslee did was to write in "students, including"  all these groups.  Just defining the underserved populations but not diluting the focus.  She feels they have an obligation to do.

Peters - she wants to have more explicit language and she appreciates both efforts here.  I like having more explicit description about who will benefit.  

Blanford will remember conversations on this issue and believe they were robust.  Had several directions and believes research shows focus on one population helps all populations. 

Peters said they did not get a total presentation about this work and more members of the Board had more background than others.  Important issue that should have been more deeply dis 

(Nyland and Carr having a private confab here.  Hmm.)

Amendment #1 vote - passed 4-3 - clearly a divided Board here (at least on language issues).  Peters is right; both amendments get back to what they all wanted but does leave out naming of other underserved groups.

Amendment #2 withdrawn (with regret by Peaslee that other groups don't get to be identified in goal and hopes new Board may address this)

Amendment 3
Carr's amendment about language that got dropped.   

Nyland spoke of reorganized rubrics around principals and parent satisfaction.  Will add back language that got dropped (somehow.)

Approved, 7-0

Then the vote on the actual agenda item occurred.  It passed 7-0.

Superintendent Contract Raise and Extension
Carr went over the Board process for this item.   She said nothing had changed to the contract but just to the BAR. (She didn't want to say that Peters took her name off the BAR item.)

Peaslee then went over the accomplishments of 2015 including SBAC performance (outperformed the state but the scores were low.  I need to compare the test scores from last year with this year because I haven't seen that data from the district), no longer on fed watchlist for Sped, legislators found $25M for capital needs (and that was Nyland? I didn't hear legislators say that but I'll ask) and creation of Title IX office (yes, based on a terrible incident - Nyland didn't do this on his own.)

She also said that Nyland has been working 15 months.  I'll have to ask about that because I thought he started July 2014.

Patu said Nyland had worked hard but could not support because of the issues out in schools.

Peters had the same issues with this item as per Patu but mentioned the strike.  Glad for raise to be donated back.  She also said no one has asked community - teachers, parents, etc. - about Dr. Nyland to become permanent superintendent and that was not supported by Board.  She said that some issues are about lack of state funding but there is a mixed review of Nyland's work by her.  Pointed out good things being done in district but also the issues of the strike, principal changes, staffing issues in October, etc.  Parent satisfaction with district has dipped to a new low.   Mentioned issues of lack of fidelity to math materials.

(There were at least four Board members holding up their heads with their hands.  I don't know if this is weariness at the hour or if they are exasperated with Peters.)

She said that it has been a difficult year so far for teachers and parents.

Thinks that evaluation should have come first and THEN a offer of a raise/contract extension.  Thinks maybe June could be a better time for this.  Believes it's a "circular argument" about superintendent pay because superintendents HAVE left even when well paid.

She said she is conflicted about vote.

Peaslee said raise was proposed by Board, not Nyland and that part of it is part of a COLA (and the raise is below the district average.)  Note to Peaslee: he's incredibly well-paid already. That he's getting a little less than others get in raise is just not an argument.

Said strike was "in the plans and WEA was planning it."  Said resolved the strike without legal action. (Some in audience not so happy with these statements.)

Martin-Morris,yes he is the highest paid superintendent but largest district with most employees.  He said it was the complexity of work  and no one goes into education to make money .(Yes but the Mayor and the Governor still make less. Are their jobs less complex?)

He said paying less would get candidates who would "use Seattle as a stepping stone."  Pretty laughable.

Carr said "extremely important" to get well-qualified superintendents.  Pleased with progress so far.  Said she was the "biggest tightwad" over the last eight years but this is a wise investment.

Vote - approved 6-1with Patu  the "no" vote -kudos to her for the courage of her vote since she will be staying on the Board and working with Nyland.)

Okay, poke me with a fork, I'm done with this Board meeting.


Anonymous said...

Any mention of the difficulty of the new bell time at Lowell for special education students?

Anonymous said...

The sped "transportation" issue is that if Lowell moves to 7:50 start, then students with medical fragility will have to get up at 5am at the very latest. The med-frag busses are extraordinarily slow because of lifts. And many of the students at Lowell have hours of medical procedures that they must do BEFORE they get on the bus. Seems grossly unfair. Why wouldn't the principal have mentioned this before?

The Usual (SPS don't give a crap attitude)

Anonymous said...

How about switching one of the Tier 3 schools to Tier 1, and switching Lowell to Tier 3. I know from dealing with an elder who needed hands on care, that it takes a long time to get ready in the morning. With the low incidence SPED kids at Lowell, care should be taken to optimize their daily learning. That would mean a later start time.

Melissa Westbrook said...

GL, nothing specific but McEvoy did mention issues around Sped student transportation.

Lynn said...

I believe the original proposed transportation standards said that students who receive special education services would not receive transportation if they choose to attend a school other than their attendance area school. The Special Education PTSA pointed out that a student's IEP determines whether a student receives transportation and the transportation standards can't override that.

SF said...

I love sue peters.

Jan said...

Melissa: thank you so much for doing this. I have occasions where I am required to simultaneously listen to (and digest) group conversations -- and write them down coherently. Frankly, I crash and burn as often as not. I don't know if it is my age, or my particularly neurological skill set -- but it is really hard (for me) to do it well. I am amazed that you can do this, and do it so well. I am in awe.

Anonymous said...

its really funny the non reps that have not have a raise in 6 years and had two years of furlough days had a 2.9% raise, so I am not sure where this 5% is below the average

sigh - not again

Watching said...

Nyland told the board, before the vote, that he would put his raise back into the general fund. At the time, I believed Nyland would not accept a raise for the remainder of his term. It is my hope that Nyland didn't mince words because he needs to build trust with the community.

I couldn't understand why Peaslee and Carr kept pushing money at him.(!) The guy said NO and we need dollars in our classrooms. Very odd.

mirmac1 said...

Wow Melissa. Great job toughing it out at the meeting! Attending district is hard work and producing such thorough notes too!

Anonymous said...

" As well, Carr noted that SPS pays 3x more than any other district in the state for transportation. She's right; something needs to change.)"

Some reasons this might be so:

We are the biggest district in the state.
We contract out for transportation.
We have a shortage of drivers and need to have competitive wages.Also, high cost of living.

Granted, providing for services for people that never ride the bus is inefficient, but
instead of making people sign up for services and maybe even pay, they took away grandfathered transport for kids living outside the catchment area of their school.Kids whose parents could not drive them to school.
Second part of the plan was to take away grandfathering altogether. Second part didn't get by this time around.

So SPED uses most transport money.
Wanna bet they'll try to say all services needed are now offered in all schools?
No need for them to travel, or stay with teacher who can actually reach them, or be in community that they feel comfortable in.
Just widgets.

Dead Horse

Anonymous said...

A "wise investment"?? Oh please. If anything, the tensions between the public and District admin are higher than they've been in a long time. I still do not see what the Board sees in him. I know many District employees who've never even met the guy.

And what is the deal with Director Peaslee and her "the public is mean to us" refrain. Actions have consequences. If you don't like the consequences, cease the actions. It's pretty simple.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader 47, that is just Peaslee's tick - she feels underappreciated and attacked. (And I'm sure at some points in her term that was true.) But she did sign up for this, and to get upset when the majority of e-mail is against her stance is strange. What does this tell her? Apparently not much.

Anonymous said...

Surely when the majority of feedback received by an elected representative is against the stance they are taking, it should give said elected representative pause to reconsider whether their stance is actually representing the community they were elected to represent! (rather than complaining that 'everyone is mean').
Before complaining about hurt feelings, Peaslee needs to take a good look at herself. A community elected her to represent their interests and supervise the operation of the public school district on their behalf. If she appears to be disregarding their interests, and providing lax supervision of the district (eg, going with whatever admin tells her/wants to do despite lack of buy in from public) it is not surprising that she would get backlash. Did she forget that it was the community that elected her to represent them and oversee the district on their behalf- she was not elected by the district to sell help district plans etc to the community. I think it takes a special kind of person to be involved in politics or in the public eye and perhaps she was not suited to it. But she has got it dead wrong when she complains about the public being mean. Public dissatisfaction with the district probably is at an all time high, so I understand how it might be overwhelming to a board member, but the negative feedback is not because people are being mean - it is because people are rightly concerned and want their elected board members to do something on our behalf to address the problems in the district.

Tough job

Anonymous said...

@Tough Job - exactly. Could not agree with this more it is because people are rightly concerned and want their elected board members to do something on our behalf to address the problems in the district.

I (probably weirdly) believe, that over time, and in an entirely understandable way, some Directors display a quasi "Stockholm Syndrome" affect - where they have been co-opted into believing that their job is to represent the District to us, the public. That is not actually the job assignment, as Director Peters so ably demonstrates rather regularly.

I'm interested to see what happens with the new Board - who will succumb to the siren District admin song, and who will remember the "real" assignment ;o)


Anonymous said...

As I've written before, Peaslee was repeatedly bombarded by special interest factions within her community, not the community as a whole. She was angered because, in trying to serve the whole community, she was attacked by those with narrow and self-interested agendas that interfered with her wider representation, insulted her, questioned her judgment, her intentions, her loyalty, etc. Yes, she could have handled those instances with more grace, but those who attacked her when they couldn't monopolize her attention or have their own way bear much responsibility for pushing her into a corner. Who among us would not be infuriated when, by reminding people that all accused's get due process and are innocent until proven guilty, she was attacked and ridiculed for "defending a rapist?"

I have my differences with Sharon, and style & demeanor are a couple of them. But, her reactionary, defensive, counter-punching is entirely foreseeable and predictable when you push someone like her over the edge. Right or wrong, this is what human beings will do when you back them into a corner. We should all know that by the time we graduate kindergarten. That some don't and insist on getting everything they want, or else they won't support levies, etc. - Talk about privilege (or blackmail)! Sorry, but if some factions within our communities think Board members should surrender their judgment to the loudest, most e-mail bombarding groups, they apparently don't respect the democratic processes we have in place to prevent mob rule.

Go ahead and advocate for your interests all you want, but don't throw hissy fits when Board members push back and remind you that there are 50k plus other students in the district who all have needs too.

Beware to all who don't think the same thing could ever happen with the new Board. Nobody is immune.


Not all said...

WSDAWG, she said much more in defense of a rapist than that. Many of her remarks on that subject were inexcusable and i have no regrets calling her out on it. The VNESS stuff, I sympathize with her on.

Anonymous said...

WSDWG, the main issue with her speech about the "accuseds getting due process" is that she was completely ignoring the District's and the Board's main responsibility: to make sure that policies were followed before and after the alleged rape and if not, to make that right and make it sure it never happened again. On this blog, Charlie exhaustively listed all the ways that the school and the district ignored district policies that are meant to protect students from harm and to help students after harm has been done or alleged.

As a Board member, there is no excuse for ignoring those major lapses by the school and the district. And to deflect that by claiming that the issue was entirely about the alleged rapist is maddening. There should have been consequences meted out - to the staff involved - and there were none. Even now, as Charlie points out, the District and Board seem to be ignoring their responsibilities to make sure those policies are known and followed. The students of the District remain at risk of horrible, life-changing tragedies and/or assaults happening again because they are not doing their jobs.


Anonymous said...

Melissa I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on why transportation costs are so high. The district will have to consider returning to Two Tier busing in 2017 if they insist on lengthening the school day 20 min. (I assume no one will approve a ~7:30 AM and ~10:00AM start time for tiers 1 and 3.)

I don't want to see the district continue to cut services and programs to reduce busing if the real meat of the costs is coming from other things. Is the size of the district the big issue, is it busing to special programs, or are there other issues as @Dead Horse suggests that aren't about either issue?


Anonymous said...

@Not all said & @Momof2: I'd rather be trampled in a shirt factory fire than pointlessly re-litigate the issue. Minds are made up.

But it was Sharon's comments that went viral and stirred people's anger, much more than the related issue of broken policies, etc. Hindsight is 20-20, but revisionism doesn't help us learn from our mistakes. We either learn from them, or we're bound to repeat them. The point is as much about us - the constituency - as about Sharon or any new board members. Over-the-top advocacy will drive people over the edge, especially those already sacrificing time and family life to do a very thankless job. They're humans, not robots. So far.


Melissa Westbrook said...

WearyMom, transportation is another area where I'm not sure parents have all the information they need to understand the costs. And we switched it up a couple of years back on the promise it "saved" money and yet no cost savings were documented nor was it shown where the savings went.

I think another reader elsewhere pointed out many issues:

- geographically challenged city
- expensive city to live in
- harder to find drivers for this part-time kind of work
- large district, both size and population
- Sped transportation (but I think that gets dollars from both state/feds; someone?)

But that can't be it entirely because of the outsized costs.

Just as it was stated that the assignment plan passed last night was a transition for this year, maybe the transportation plan passed is as well.

I think that it is VITAL, when the boundaries start becoming clearer, that there is a fully-aligned plan for assignment with transportation. And every single cost needs to be be examined.

Again, there are some parent-driven ideas out there that I hope will be considered and if rejected, with a full explanation.

It might also be worth examining how other districts provide transportation.

Anonymous said...

Dead Horse is pretty spot on actually - there is a definite driver shortage, services such as the mandated McKinley-Vento (homeless transports), NCLB related trips and other specialized services that often have to use cab transport all impact costs. Toss in fuel costs, bus monitors...there's a plethora of reasons why SPS's transportation costs are higher.

A 2nd carrier is possible savings measure, but again, you still need drivers. Lots of Districts own their own buses, but the insurance costs are astronomical for a large operation like SPS.


Ed said...

Non reps get regular unfunded raises by the title of "market adjustments" and about 100+ get them each year so that by the third year, every one has one.

Sttick around, you will see.

Maureen said...

If fuel costs are a significant factor, shouldn't transportation costs have decreased dramatically over the past few years? Does the contract include that sort of cost savings, or is it a fixed cost and the contractor collects the savings from fuel price decreases? <a href=">($4/gal in 2012, $2.50/gal in 2015)</a>

Maureen said...

(why can't I edit or delete my own posts anymore?)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen, I had to tweak the settings to try to prevent whoever is intent on harassing me instead of not coming here at all.

Anonymous said...

I don't know enough to answer that Maureen re: fuel costs, but it's something people often forget about when discussing transportation $$.

I do know that the specialized transports have a big impact but those are mandated services (ie SPED, homeless, NCLB) so there's not a huge opportunity for savings there, I'd imagine (plus they do get some offset from State/Feds). Oh and the Orca card program is also part of costs I believe.

Some of the differences between SPS & other districts come due to the nature of Seattle geography/traffic patterns - you could reduce some bus transport costs with "group stops" but in many areas of the city that's problematic - you can't have group stop on Aurora Ave for example.

I think it's more complicated than we might think. Not saying it can't be done. Just not as simply as we'd probably all prefer ;)