This will be a bit rough as I am writing it on the fly. I feel this is important to get out, though. because it has information on the thinking of every single Board member AND marks a significant change from previous Work Sessions.
Previously, I had heralded this Work Session as "vital" and I continue to believe that but the meeting itself did not play out as I thought.
Clover Codd and Charles Wright lead the discussion. Wright noted that it would be his last Work Session as the deputy superintendent (with his departure from the district coming.)
As I also noted in my notice of this Work Session, the staff presentation was 45 pages long and I thought there would not be much time for discussion. Codd stated that staff would present the overview and then ask for "warm" and "cool" feedback. (Warm is "going well or you like the direction" and cool is for not so good.
Wright went thru the presentation in a rapid fashion, noting that, over time, staff realized/knew that a huge list of items in the Strategic Plan was unwieldy and not workable. He said they got the list down from 90 items to about 33 but it was "still too much." He said there were too many projects in the pipeline and not enough time/resources to go in-depth. He said the number of projects (under the umbrella of 33 issues) was too many and yet, "people keep asking and pushing." (And such is the nature of any bureaucracy especially a governmental one.)
Wright also talked about "white space" for leadership (meaning, cracks between duties/projects that get overlooked or not done.) I was also glad that he mentioned that there "is no time to think and analyze" which yes, is crucial for leadership. He said they can't "keep running from symptom to symptom and fire to fire."
I agree with this point and yet, what changed under his leadership? Something may have internally but to outside eyes, I don't see a change in how leadership is working publicly.
The presentation was done in 10 minutes which was quite surprising. Codd went on and said they had a Strategic Plan and projects and planning and a lot of thoughtful work. But she also gently pointed out that the district can't do a 180 degree turn in the work.
Clearly, this was a nudge to new board members about what interests/concerns that they might want to see emphasized. I can think of a handful of things that new board members might want to talk about but really, it's about doing things correctly/legally (see Sped and ELL), fulfilling what has been promised/bought (see Math in Focus), following board policy (see most everything else.)
I don't see the new board wanting to do a 180 degree turn.
Then Codd said staff wanted the board to ask any clarifying questions on SMART goals and the Strategic Plan.
Director Blanford asked what was announced to community around revisions or changes to SP when it was, when we shared it? Staff didn't have the answer immediately available. This was the only question (but likely for a good reason.)
Then Codd did something odd and asked the Board to reflect and take 5-7 minutes to write down issues/comments on district work with the "warm" and "cool" viewpoints. The board, as a whole, seemed taken aback. Director Peters gently pointed out that if the board had been told, in advance, that this was the work for this Work Session, they could have prepared. Codd said yes, that would have been good.
(So I observe that staff didn't send the board anything beyond the agenda so the board did not come prepared with questions about the SMART goals or Strategic Plan nor their observations on how various district work items were going.)
Below is a truncated note-taking list of what each board director said.
Scott Pinkham- didn't get much warm feedback during campaign.
Wanted to share from NA and adding Indigenous People's day, Robert Eaglestaff School, Superintendents have connected with NA community.
Clover - around revisions (re: Blanford's query on Strategic Plan)
"As we implement plan will hold regular check-ins with staff and board and community."
- rollout of socio-emotional curriculum, need to rollout everywhere
- resources and independence can help communities - named Sand Point Elem, took immersion language program and have ELL kids be mentors
- idea of white space, article in the Atlantic Monthly and US teachers have least amount of planning time and little reflection time and working with other teachers.
- more broad and themes
- support for educators and public ed in Seattle as environmental factor
- focus on equity as tool and lens to lift whole district
- recognize that there are smart, passionate dedicated people working for children
- great teaching happening in district
- social studies adoption process went well and was responsive
- good things about programs like aerospace at RBHS, Ballard film, drama at various, athletics and instrumental programs - and why not bring to more students?
- certain staff who go out into community
- principals who are well-regarding and beloved and knit together communities
- budget is slowly becoming more understandable
- same as Scott, more complaints than compliments
- early learning work has been well-done and complaints about kids in seats and "excited about that"
- recovery from labor negotiations was well-handled
- and points about smart and committed and active staff
- Soup for Teachers and outreach there
- bell times
- Noel Treat's return
- John Cerqui's good work
- budget issues more transparent and roadshow
- earlier hiring of teachers
(I note that all the directors express remorse at the number of items and that people often complain more than compliment.)
- capacity crisis and portable farms and lack of FACMA
- class sizes
- no middle school math adoption
- perception that district is against option or creative approach or alts
- creative approach got a CBA to get rid of them
- Middle College without explanation, pedagogy and curriculum
- something Sound and Youth Foundation that Middle College is there
- EEU kindergarten closure
- not nimble in reacting to controversial situations
- Garfield issues including rape case, transparency, MLK march
- murkiness of investigations and timelines
- how superintendent was hired and raise
- CSiPs are lacking
- lunch and reces were collective bargained
- not enough arts
- lack of transparency on Board and leadership travel
echo a lot of Leslie
not timely or reaching enough people, most of government has this issue
- capacity challenges
- lunch and recess
- disconnect between central office and on the ground reality to schools
- assessments, time and resources that central thinks is not the reality
- lack of access, time and quality that enrich like libraries, arts, PE, great programs but sense but not living up to our promise and not fully supporting them and becoming lesser, bait and switch
- website - I know this has been worked on and still have a hard time and I do
- middle school math
- too much standardization and that we have diversity in population and used to have more options - a push for the same box (maybe CC or SBAC or economies of scale)
- lack of concern for parents concerns, lack of respect
- too many settlements in general
- problem with culture of fear and intimidation - out of rubric and this needs to be put back.
- number of people about principal moves, not well explained
- language immersion and cohort in SE and where do they go after elementary school and his daughter is one of them
- recovery from labor negotiations - several principals that were not well supported after over
- bell times vote, many e-mails and were upset about many students will benefit but not all students.
- budgeting around staffin adjustments is not transparent
- elementary math adoption - teachers complain about implementation
- staff adjustments (on heels of strike)
- not good in family interaction. on scorecard falling downward
- more good news getting out there
- closing of achievement gaps and include disabilities to see that those kids are included
- saw Paper Tigers and trauma informed curriculum
- like Leslie don't close something without offering something else, explain clearly how we are serving those kids, Middle College from WS to N Seattle and alt is looking at a computer
- fulfill curriculum materials adoption
- community engagement - deliberate in sequencing in story, walk a mile in others
- building student skills in all classrooms as learning progression. Voc ed are great and I said when running, idea of wood shop, etc. we should have those opps and people really like it.
- fostering a culture of innovation and amplify and repeat successful programs
- assessments - wrote it down as assessment transparency, as a parent I should be able to see it
- capacity management, hard working, more pro-active
- a lot already mentioned
- Middle College lack of transparency
- transparency with community in the now and things just dropped on them. have to tell ENTIRE district
- Principal updates to communities
- website - app for phones - his own laptop isn't working
- district isn't being truthful - Loyal Heights feels magnet school is being built,
- delay tactics to get feedback - own experience,
- community had to check numbers and found them different from district
- staffing and teaching AP/IB and Gen Ed getting lesser teachers
- leaders on curriculum
- bell times not benefiting all students " a few students not all"
- ORCA cards
- decrease in native enrollment "that's the trend" where are they going?
- enough transparency, not enough parent engagement, when we change things we get feedback after it's done
-Sped - no one returns calls
- programs in our schools and parents say we have variety of programs, why can't all kids access the programs after-school
- language immersion, need more teachers,using IAs to teach
- programs that are contracted for - City contracts, they changed them and if we sign something, we need time to read and vet it
- enrollment sends kids to where they want them to go, schools underenrolled, enrollment should be in the schools
Clover thanked them for the imput. I thought it odd how Director Blanford said nothing about the program for African-American males students that he, former Director Martin-Morris and Mr. wright had championed.)