Tuesday, February 09, 2016

District Meetings; Demographics and Executive Committee Meeting

Demography Talk

The talk by SPS demographer, Dr. Natasha Rivers, on January 29th didn't have much new information.  She stated that there are links to her reports at the SPS page on demography.

To note:

- the district is definitely working with the City on housing trends

- she stated that the district had thought they would grow by 1,000 students as they had in previous years but only gained 336.  That number seems much lower than I recall from the fall.

- fun fact: the average age for new mothers in Seattle is 32 and for fathers it's 35.

- the growth in SPS is not equally scattered.  Most of the growth is in the NE/NW, some in the Central area but down somewhat in the SW and especially down in the SE.



- The district hired a local firm, Integrated Economics, that has a fairly sketchy website to do a housing study.  I'll have to ask for a copy of this document.  Naturally, this is to track how development affects enrollment, track cycles, and "using this as alternative to augment estimation models fro enrollment at the schools level."

- Seattle is the fastest growing city in the nation, currently at 662,400 residents who are mostly white (69.5%.)  That number surprised me but I likely was thinking of King County and not just Seattle proper.  There is a concentration of residents from 24-34 with the highest rate of growth of those under age five.  The poverty rate is 14.2%.

- But SPS is not quite 50% white but close.

- There are 2,944 homeless students in SPS.  

- I just heard on KUOW that Seattle is now 10th in density for the nation and will probably close in soon on 9th place LA.

Executive Committee Meeting, Feb. 4, 2016

Ever want to run into every single member of senior staff?  Go to an Executive Committee meeting; the room was packed.  And Charles Wright was there which surprised me because I thought his time in the district ended at the end of January.

Right into the fire came the discussion around the City's Pre-K and SPS.  Not surprisingly, the City has to "move fast" and wanted a commitment for March 1st.  They want five additional sites.

Two of the three SPS sites (enrolled by the City) are still not full, running around 15-16 students when the class size is topped at 20.

So far, the district has met five out of five benchmarks for "performance Pay" and earned $63K.  (This is not bonus money - it's money withheld from the district until they meet those marks.  This arrangement is of concern to Board members because naturally, the district wants the money to cover costs.)

When asking about locations, Director Harris asked about when Schmitz Park leaves its building, what happens to that building?  Dr. Herndon said they "haven't determined the use of it yet."  He ruefully noted that they could put childcare or pre-K in there but the infrastructure of a school wouldn't be there and so it would be expensive.  (There is an issue of the district keeping the building as the Schmitz family gave the land to the district for educational purposes.)

He also said, "Not that we don't upkeep our buildings when they are not occupied."  He must have missed the recent tour of Magnolia and its leaking roof.

There is to be a Work Session on this topic on Feb. 24th and Superintendent Nyland seemed to want to shunt questions off until then.

Director Peters expressed disappointment that all the sites are not filled.  She said it gave her pause in terms of opening more of them.  She said the City needs to be mindful about the situation the Board finds itself in re:capacity issues.  She said she didn't want "a messy discussion at the dais."

There appears to be some kind of white paper that the Board was given on this subject that I'll have to ask for.

Former RHBS principal and now head of DEEL, Dwane Chappelle was in attendance and said the City could work to another timeline.

Director Harris expressed some irritation that the Mayor announced his Ed Summit without including the district.  Apparently the Superintendent and President Patu have been asked for input.  It was also stated that the City only has the dates for the Summits.  (And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for you.)

Charles Wright claimed that other Board members had not expressed the same concerns about the pre-K program but said if the Ex Ctm members were hearing concerns that the district wants to hear their questions.

Director Harris asked why the list for sites for new pre-Ks wasn't before the Committee.  Cashel Toner's reply? "Hmm."  Nyland leapt in saying that the City didn't want the list leaked before they formally announced it.   Harris pointed out that the preliminary list had four sites in West Seattle and that was of concern to her.

The upshot was for the Ex Ctm to move this forward without a recommendation. Normally, a committee only rejects or recommends but staff said the Board could do this new form of movement of a BAR.

There was some discussion about the Seattle Teacher Residency.  It feels like the district would like to continue on but the costs and the lack of relationship with the Alliance may be issues.  It was also stated that the Alliance was using a video to fund raise and it implied a relationship with SPS beyond this initiative.

In Board business, they talked about the upcoming Board retreat.  There was discussion around a facilitator and boy, there's a business.  The people they are looking at make about $200 an hour.

Also, the Board is considering pushing the time for public testimony at Board meetings back to
5:30 pm to try to allow time for more members of the public to get there.  There was some discussion around staff time but the Superintendent admitted that the public testimony was starting later and later.  They are going to announce this thru March and try it, starting in April.  As I stated, they can always change it if it doesn't make a difference but I think that for many people, knowing the testimony won't start until at least 5:30 pm gives them more time to get to the meeting.

There was a good discussion around what policy groups the Board belongs to.  They are going to pull back on one of them within the National School Board Association since former director, Harium Martin-Morris, is no longer on the board of one section.

There was discussion of the work of the Committee and Director Peters said that it was important to have publicly presented rationale about what happens to programs.  She said "we ended up backtracking a lot, on EEU, Middle College and Interagency movement to QA."  She is interested in amended Board policy to cover programs, not just schools.

There are three Board policies that cover programs.  Superintendent Nyland suggested creating an inventory of programs, schools, etc.  Let that sink in.

Are we to believe the district has no such list?  I don't and I have to wonder if that's a delaying tactic.  How can a district not know how many, what kind and locations of programs within its region?

The group was introduced to Heidi Henderson Lewis, Customer Service & District Ombudsperson, Phone: (206) 252-0529, Email: ombudsman@seattleschools.org.

Head of Communcations, Jacquie Coe stated that the district is going to do a refresh on the district website (and later told me that the district does want to get input from the community.)  So someone is listening to the dissatisfaction with the website.

Government relations.  Superintendent Nyland had met with Seattle delegation on Monday the 2nd.  Herndon has asked for $5-10M for an addition to West Woodland Elementary.  The per pupil inflators have been moved down with a loss of $5-6M to the district which they would like back.  Nyland stated that the so-called levy cliff doesn't have to be addressed this session but the specter of having to give out layoff notices was troubling.

7 comments:

Lynn said...

I'm so glad Director Harris asked that question. The board just approved spending of up to $6.5 million on capacity management - including purchases of new portables. Schmitz Park (and it's portable village) will be empty by the end of June. Why are we buying new portables and renovating the Hughes building when we have an empty building and empty portables?

What is Flip Herndon doing if he doesn't have a plan for this building and doesn't have a plan for the high schools as they become more and more overcrowded?

Anonymous said...

And what is the plan for the empty Roxhill building if they move to Hughes (as was supposedly the plan when the Board approved the BTAIV list?

-North-end Mom

Lynn said...

Good point. No plan there either. They've got so much going on they're losing track of buildings.

Steve said...

I believe the expansion is for West Woodland, not "Woodland Park"...

Liza SfT said...

It's a relatively minor thing - but it has been bothering me so much that public testimony almost always starts late and it continues to be scheduled for 5pm. Yay for recognizing it and moving the time! That 30 min difference also might help more people feel they can get there after work.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Steve.

mirmac1 said...

Liza,

While it makes for a long board meeting, the difference these days is that Superintendent comments include staff responses to board questions, bred by community concerns. This is preferable to waiting two weeks until the Friday memos are posted addressing timely issues.