Wednesday, March 16, 2016

City Wants Childcare Spaces in Seattle Schools for Pre-K Program

Update: Director Peters has offered a second amendment to get rid of the 25% holdback.

 I note that one speaker in public testimony reiterated the City's claim that the benchmarks that the holdback is based on are easy to meet and that even if the district didn't meet all of them, "the district has a reserve and could get the funds there."  

Obviously this gentleman does not understand how state funding for K-12 works but I don't believe that the district can use those common school funds for this purpose.  As well, I would think that most Seattle Schools' parents could think of many K-12 schools that need the funding from the Reserve Fund.

End of update.

In advance of the vote on the continuation/expansion of the City's pre-K program, KUOW had this timely story from reporter Ann Dornfeld.

One important part of the article is this from Councilman ("Godfather of Pre-K") Tim Burgess:
But we face a big, little climb here, because this coming September we have to expand to 39 classrooms and almost 800 kids being served," Burgess said. 
The program is scheduled to ramp up annually, with a goal of 70 classrooms in 2017, and 100 in 2018 to serve a final count of 2,000 students. The City still needs to find a dozen more classrooms just to stay on track for this fall.

But we face a big, little climb here, because this coming September we have to expand to 39 classrooms and almost 800 kids being served," Burgess said.
Some classrooms the city does have its eye on are in Seattle Public Schools. The preschool program is already in three elementary schools – and Burgess says there is potential for huge growth. 
"Nearly every elementary school in Seattle has a preschool program or some form of child care today," Burgess said. "So, working with the city, we’re hoping the district will, over time, convert those existing classrooms that are being used for preschool or child care to be part of the Seattle Preschool Program."
 So parents, the City is not just going after a couple of childcare spaces - they want ALL of them.    I'm sure there are good arguments on both sides if whether pre-K is more important or if on-site childcare is more important.  As governmental entities looking at academic outcomes, the City and the district might say pre-K.  I think many parents might say childcare is more important.  

Depending on how you feel, you might want to consider getting your PTA involved as well as advocacy to the Board.

Back to the Board action, as I previously mentioned in a separate thread, staff decided to roll both issues into one BAR (likely by design) so it is all or nothing for the Board.  Luckily, Directors Harris and Geary wrote a great amendment that will protect the district's funds AND, hopefully, compel the City to follow the fed regulations that the district has to in serving pre-K Special Education students.

Here's the amendment.

27 comments:

Po3 said...

I think it is more than just saying childcare is more important than Pre-K.

It's also assumes that the city has the BEST program in the city and it should be rolled out all over the district.

Can the city demonstrate that their program is head and shoulders above all the rest?

It also assumes that one year of preschool versus the traditional 3-year program is better, because many 3-year programs will be eliminated.

Can the city demonstrate that their one year of preschool is better than three years of preschool?


No and no is my guess.


Linh-Co said...

Just a heads up. Sorry for being out of context. I thought this was important.


A Message from your Board of Directors...

Dear Friends of the Edmonds School District,
The School Board will interview six semi-finalist candidates this Saturday, March 19, at Edmonds Woodway High School, Great Hall, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. We are starting at 8:30 a.m., instead of 9:00 a.m. as previously noted. The meeting is open to the public and observers will be able to provide written feedback.
The six semi-finalists are:
Dr. Deb Clemens, Superintendent, Cheney, WA
Matt Handelman, Superintendent, Coeur d’Alene, ID
Dr. Flip Herndon, Associate Superintendent, Seattle, WA
Dr. Kris McDuffy, Superintendent, Arlington, WA​
Dr. Carolyn O’Keefe, Deputy Superintendent, Northshore, WA
Dr. Chrys Sweeting, Assistant Superintendent, Puyallup, WA
After the initial round of interviews, the candidate field will be narrowed to three. The finalists will be in the District March 28, 29, and 30 … one candidate each day, where they will have the opportunity to tour schools and meet with staff and administrators.
There will be a Community Public Forum to meet the three finalists on March 31 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mountlake Terrace High School Theater. Community members will have an opportunity to ask questions and complete feedback forms to share with the School Board. If you are unable to join us at a Forum, it will be streamed live. Please visit www.edmonds.wednet.edu/ESDlive on the actual date, March 31, to view.
Sincerely,

mirmac1 said...

Great, so after Flip covers up enrollment and capacity shenanigans, and gives away more classrooms to City PreK while Headstart, Developmental PreK and Sped classrooms get moved like pawns - he'll go to Edmonds and do the same to them.

Melissa, i was glad to see Jill catch the doublespeak on use of non K12 bucks as reserve for SPP. She was told by staff that SPS had no "no-strings" money to enroll typical kids in Dev PreKs. Now they be like "sure we can use levy money for SPP if we want!"

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NE Mom said...

I thought that in the last board meeting they wrote an amendment saying that the extra classrooms SPS needed to take from after school care were not to be used for preK. It was only for enrollment projections. This is sooo ridiculous!!!!

Anonymous said...

Why can't they be both? Room used for child care before and after school and used for pre-k during school?

I know a number of the schools near us do that.

- confused

Confused as well said...

"confused" is absolutely right. It's a false choice to say that schools can have one or the other, and I think presenting it as such betrays the writers' negativity about the city Pre-k program. Having the same room used for Seattle Preschool Program *and* for before and after care seems to work beautifully at Viewlands elem... just as one example.

Jet City mom said...

Explain to me why the city cannot use space in church buildings for their preschool.
I remember when both Head Start, CAMPI preschool and other programs aimed at supporting at risk families were housed in church buildings across the city.

mirmac1 said...

I see no reason why not Jet City mom.

If Tim Burgess wants to spread his creation into 70 classrooms (presumably) then he better plan on coughing up some serious rent money and additional administrative and facilities costs.

What I'd like to see is SPS come up with its own home-grown inclusive PreK program (while capacity allows) and give the City a run for its money. The City is having a hard time finding providers because they find the City's conditions burdensome and over-the-top. If the City treats SPS like this, imagine how it treats smaller non-profits.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a shell game to just convert existing preschools in SPS to SPP preschools. What's the supposed benefit? How does increase access to quality preschool? And if we're not ending up with more preschool as a result, what's the point of all the extra cost?

HF

Melissa Westbrook said...

NE Mom, I'm saying this is what Burgess wants but the Board? That was not part of the discussion as these next four spaces are not childcare spaces.

Confused, that's a good question about multiple uses for space. I think one issue is that the City's program is six hours and that may bump into before/after childcare time.

Mirmac1 lights on comments made last night about costs to the district for rent-free use by the City.

HF, yes, that issue of getting rid of existing pre-Ks is a thorny one. The City says theirs is "high-quality" as if they are the only ones that have that.

Getting rid of Head Start will see a reduction of spaces (from 40 to 20) but no one brought that up (probably because Head Start fed funds aren't covering all the costs.)

I think the end game is the City's pre-K program being the only one in Seattle Schools (as well as the further mingling of the City into the district.)

PreK said...

The old board signed the MOU and they were not aware of the 25% holdback, and we have a new board. The 25% hold-back continues to be an area of discomfort.

The state may not extend the levy cliff and Seattle is at-risk of loosing millions of dollars. As well, Seattle may loose approximately $6M if the state does not increase the levy inflator.

Director Peter's amendment provided an opportunity for a full board discussion and this is a good thing.

We have a great board and directors made wonderful comments. Directors want continuity. They made wonderful comments regarding space and potential loss of funds to the district. Burgess wants to have a prek in every school. The potential loss of dollars related to the 25% holdback will soar.

Director Harris made a good point. If SPS fails to fulfill agreement, the city is free to discontinue the contract. I like this idea. Perhaps the way forward is to move along these lines.

Directors never received operational costs related to pre-k and the task force will allow for this information to be vetted.

Anonymous said...

Aren't most of the existing SPS preschools special education classes required under the federal IDEA laws? They are required to take kids on their 3rd birthday (as soon as they age out of the birth to 3 IDEA programs). I don't see how any of them could be legally displaced by a city preschool, unless that city class is including the same age range and providing the same services. So far, it seems like the few city preschools they have are refusing to provide any services or to accept children with IEPs, which is not legal if they are being funded with taxpayer money, and they definitely aren't taking kids that have just turned 3.

There are already capacity issues with the special ed preschools - there are no longer any typical peer models, as there are no spaces left for them, and when my daughter was supposed to have started preschool 4 years ago, there was not a single spot left in any special ed preschool anywhere in the city, so she was not able to go (which was fine with me, really, as there were only 6 weeks left in the school year at that point, and she just stayed on at the Boyer clinic for that time - but given that they were able to tell told me 4 months in advance that there would be no space, you would think they would have been able to get another classroom organized).


Mom of 4

syd said...

I agree, how is replacing what we have already increasing access to preschool?

Our problem is that there is not enough space in quality preschools to fill the need.

Why don't they just convert houses? Some great preschools in Seattle are run out of converted homes. This is a scalable way to increase space over time.

mirmac1 said...

Actually Mom of 4, in its desperation the City has admitted tapping 3yr olds to try and raise their dismal numbers. Some City PreKs had as over ten open slots for months, rather than assign a HeadStart or Dev PreK child to that spot. What a waste of time and space.

How can it be that preschool programs that existed for years before Burgess' swan song serve 3-4 year old very needy children (ECEAP, HeadStart, and IDEA). There can NEVER be capacity limitations when it comes to complying with IDEA and ADA. Period. All other things - like Levy programs, B&A care, etc must come after complying with federal law. Otherwise, schools would be able to continue to claim locker rooms are for Boy's sports - eh, no. Or poor neighborhood schools could be closed to sell building - eh, well MLK Elementary and charters seems to suggest that this kind of discrimination is okie-dokie.

How do ya'll think about that? Should our district be concerned about providing PreK slots for those not poor enough to qualify for HeadStart or ECEAP? Or should we give them preference over the 420 very needy children served for less than a third of the time afforded City PreK? This is what comes when technocrats and politicians start dabbling in social justice and education.

Chris S. said...

This whole plan should be in the urban dictionary under clusterpickle.

Anonymous said...

Confused,

I wonder if the city preschool program does not want to share space with before/afterschool programs because they want to provide extended day care for the preschoolers. I looked on the preschool application and there is a box to check if you require early morning or late afternoon/evening care.

So if the city realizes that families of children of all ages need on-site before and afterschool care, it is really crummy that they propose displacing existing programs serving older children.

Tee

Next Stage said...

There is another stage to the city's research project.

The city wants to provide day care and see whether students are on par with students enrolled in the city's prek program.

Anonymous said...

SPP - convert the already run city parks and rec preschools first! You've got the space already (many of the community centers have tons of open space during the day) - use it before pushing into an already very overcrowded SPS. I think it's an terrible approach to push so hard into SPS to begin with, but particularly given the SPP's apparent inability to serve kids with IEPs (oh hey, also illegal!) and the overcrowding in SPS that is getting worse rapidly (with no way to even begin to meet the lower classroom sizes in K-2 that are supposed to happen, adding a single SPP classroom in SPS in the next year would be a horribly irresponsible thing for the Board and SPS to approve.

NE Parent

Catherine said...

Flip - don't get me started.

Explain to me why the city cannot use space in church buildings for their preschool... Here's the deal - ANY preschool that has children over 3 hours a day has to go through expensive and time consuming licensing, code upgrades, DEL rgs, DOH reviews, background checks etc, UNLESS they're in a school district leased space. If you're a school district controlled property, you don't have to.

The minimum time to license a pre-school space for more than 3hr/day is 1 year. The minimum cost per room (not rent, upgrade and compliance costs) $60,000. Seattle pre-school problem doesn't have those funds or those times. THAT is IMO why they want the school spaces.

Jet City mom said...

Why would they need preschool for more than three hours a day?
Sounds like they want to offer child care not preschool.

Anonymous said...

Confused and Melissa and Tee:

The reason indeed why preschool space cannot be used by before and after care programs is indeed because that preschool space is used by the preschoolers themselves for before and after care. Maybe at Viewlands the little kids all have families that can come get them at 3 but that is not the case for most preschool parents. Check out for example the CDSA preschools any day at Leschi and Madrona and you will find most of the preschoolers there early before school and then again until 6pm. That's why there has to be separate rooms for those CDSA school age programs and preschool programs.

CD parent

Anonymous said...

It's no secret: To establish street cred within the Democratic establishment, you need to tie your name to an urban preschool program. No matter to these local politicians who live in a bubble that the original research basis was about how to help level the playing field for students in poverty and/or with special needs. For them, it's all about political opportunism and accessing funding for getting to the next wrung of the political ladder or keeping funding alive for their current comfortable level of feeding at the bureaucratic trough. The more preschools that show up in the overcrowded SPS schools, the more street cred at the next political fundraiser. Whether it helps the three and four year children in the most need? Doesn't matter.

People like Tim Burgess are disgraceful, worse than the ones who don't pretend to care. If the other side of the aisle were the perpetrators, the school board would likely be even more willing to stop it. The momentum in this district is alive for gutting this kind of inequity. Soup for Teachers and new parents (especially those who recently moved into Seattle) aren't playing these kinds of games. The you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours "liberalism" in this city is thankfully being replaced by an arc that is starting to bend more toward justice.

--about time

Anonymous said...

Wipe the spittle from the screen before you post again about time. You've lost any ability to carry on a reasonable discussion.

Emotional Regulation

Charlie Mas said...

The Board is taking back control of program placement. The Board has also determined that Seattle Preschool Program is a program. So the Board will control the placement of SPP going forward.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jet City Mom, why more than 3 hours? Why, it's a 6-hour academic day so they can prep them more. I'll have my write-up of the discussion at the Board meeting on this topic but some things that were said during public testimony were astonishing.

"To establish street cred within the Democratic establishment, you need to tie your name to an urban preschool program."

I absolutely agree. I definitely keep up with national education trends and this is way at the top of the list.

One thing that the City has convinced the district about is that all these kids WILL end up in SPS. I'm thinking the majority - given low-income status to get into the program - will. But some won't and there's something about why the City keeps insisting this is true that bothers me.

alex said...

So, this is back, and it is a thing...I had no idea why our child care provider had a new letter for us this week when we thought this issue had been settled already.

So, the City thinks it's progress to close down one pre-k & child care program and replace it with another? That's a win?

And it would be okay for the City to notify us in May if our child's current care provider closes down???? Oh my, all of this, again???

Enrollment is down at our school, so I thought this was over at least for next year.

Who in the City could we register our strong objections to about this? The Council??? The Mayor's office?