"Do you know what grit is?" Cronas asks the students. "It's when you work really, really hard on something and you never give up on it."
Next, the deep breathing. Cronas squeezes a rainbow-colored ball as he speaks quietly.
“Let’s all practice our breathing with the ball and my voice. Ready? Go. In. Hold … one, two, three, four, five, six.”
"This is not rocket science. This is Education 101. Kids need to feel safe. They need to feel respected," Cronas said. “They need to know that the people at their school love them and will give them the structure they need to succeed."For the School Board meeting tonight, the public testimony list is nearly full. Most of them, including me, will be speaking to the Seattle Preschool Program Service Agreement. Others are speaking on discipline, recess, nutrition policy, lunch times, and deaf and hard of hearing.
On the City Pre-K program, I am sensing a low-key campaign by staff for the program which seems to insinuate that it is expanding in SPS even before a vote has been taken. There's this video at the district's website about the program. There's nothing wrong with having a video but I would expect, from the district's side, that the video would be far more information and less hearts and flowers. That's the kind of video I would expect to see from the City side but maybe the City produced this one.
The Executive Committee agenda for tomorrow's meeting is finally available. The Executive Committee reviews the agendas for the next two upcoming Board meetings.
The Board meeting on April 6th sees just a couple of Action items and no less than 26(!) Intro items, with 22 of them BEX or BTA project approvals. One of the new Intro items is a board policy on Data Privacy which I'll have to learn more about as this is a long-term special interest to me.
The Executive Committee agenda also includes documentation on the Superintendent's evaluation which makes for some interesting reading. He only gets a "Basic" in customer service but "Proficient" in most areas including Special Ed.
One big item (see page 58) coming up for the Board is amendments to board policies that would require:
Board approval for program and site placement and closure recommendations from staff or the Superintendent.
Memo Reader alerted us to some interesting finds in the last Friday Memo.
Highly Capable Records Breach (partial:)
Yes, we did make adjustments but continue to have technical / capacity challenges. HCC processes 5000 students – closer to 10% of our SPS students than the 2% funded by the state. We are not linked into the student computer systems; therefore huge amounts of work need to be done by staff. It typically takes four months to process the new requests each year. And this year we have been pushing to speed the process up so we can do early hiring.That's a fascinating stat - 5,000 students applying for HCC programs. See that complaint about the computer systems? Wait, there's more of that.
Folks, between HCC and this news, I am baffled. For years, this district has asked for (and received) money to align these computer systems. This issue of non-compatibility continues to happen and it's just downright ridiculous at this point.We completed our three days of program review and program requests. One common thread is a large number of departments that are not able access data through our existing processes. Departments invent their own home-grown systems because they can’t get the systems to talk with each other. DoTS will eventually (mid-year 16-17) see increased levy money. Meanwhile, we have a dozen projects that are crying for support. We will see if there might be a way to speed this process along. It is taking incredible amounts of duplicate time and energy to keep parallel systems.
Staffing and Budgeting (partial:)
Water Stations (from Flip):
Schools received enrollment information last week and some are asking for further review. Enrollment services looked at the history of our projections and reduced our expected growth from 1200 to 800 – still somewhat higher than what we experienced last year. Some schools are pushing back – saying they expect to grow by more than we project. One particular trouble spot are the four high schools in the SE: Rainier Beach, Cleveland, Franklin and Garfield.
Staffing will go out to schools on February 24th. The state is giving us more primary teachers – with no increases at intermediate. And we will be held accountable for using those teachers at the assigned levels if we hope to receive that money. Principals will need to create smaller classes in primary grades; larger classes in intermediate grades. And there will likely be more splits.Program Placement:
The board has expressed concerns that some programs are moved, added, deleted, without board awareness. “Program” definitions are difficult in every district – so the following may or may not technically be “programs.”
However, know that the following placements are either under consideration or underway:Those last three? I cannot understand how either "program" can be considered for expansion when the district doesn't really support the locations they currently have. As for the last item, I don't know exactly what it means; I'll ask for clarification.
- Cascade Parent Partnership phase out of “high school” program for running start.
- Open Doors Youth RE-engaged (alternative graduation route) is being explored with Seattle Colleges.
- International Dual Language pathways are being considered for expansion
- HCC pathways are being considered for expansion
- Grants that have gone away are being considered for ending employment
By mutual agreement, we suspended the performance pay for principals and are redistributing that money – partly to salary; partly to PD and joint planning around our closing the gap work.
We have filled out applications to the state for all of our schools (98) to receive money for one water bottle filling station. The closing date is February 19th and then will take several weeks for us to know if we received the grant money. I'll let you know if/when we receive notification.