Wednesday, May 18, 2016

This and That Locally

Update: Former state legislator, Larry Seaquist, has dropped out of the race for state superintendent.  He has decided to try to shore up Dems in the state House. 

Lights, camera, action!  Seems like there will be more Viaduct slowdowns.  This from SPS Communications:
The City of Seattle is warning of intermittent "rolling slowdowns" on the Alaskan Way Viaduct starting May 19-May 26 as crews shoot scenes for a major film production.

Seattle Public Schools expects these "rolling slowdowns" could cause some delays for buses heading northbound along SR 99. There will be no filming along SR 99 southbound.

To offset any potential delays, the district is coordinating to have buses leave their station earlier in order to pick-up and drop-off students per their normal schedule.
Northbound "Rolling Slowdowns" Schedule

Thursday, May 19              9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Friday, May 20                   9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 21               7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 22                 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 25           9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; and 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 26              9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.      


More calls for a downtown school from The Urbanist blog.  I generally agree with all that they say but I did note a couple of things in their comments section.

One, the area schools like Lowell and Bailey Gatzert are not full so this may not be as urgent to the district as to the downtown business association.  That said, it's a great idea and it would be equally great if some business (like Vulcan or Amazon) would step up to provide leased space for this to happen.  I have no doubt that there may be a high school at Memorial Stadium someday (the district owns that land) but if they want a K-8, the City and downtown businesses are going to have to work with the district to make this happen.

Two, in the first iteration of the HALA report, speaking on education, they stated that if the City built an apartment building, that the bottom floor could be used for a "charter school." Imagine my surprise because why would the first thought be for a charter school and not to go to the natural partner for the City which would be Seattle Schools.  (I did take a screenshot before they changed it.)

I pointed this out at here awhile back and lo and behold, it got changed to "public school" (traditional and charter schools are both considered "public" although the Supreme Court held that charter school do not meet the constitution's definition of a "common school"). This change was never publicly announced which leads me to wonder what else got quietly changed without public notification.  As well, I attended a meeting in my neighborhood last night and was able to ask who on the HALA committee wrote that section.  Someone is going to get back to me with the answer.

On food and SPS - I'm going to have a thread on this hopefully today.  The district hired a consultant to review the Nutrition program and it's not good.  As well, there was this bit of news that came my way from a source and was on KOMO news:
Since last fall, members of the Bethany Community Church in Seattle's Green Lake neighborhood have been handing out free slices of pizza at lunch time, but not everyone is happy with the gesture.
Steinloski said the pizza giveaway is about connecting kids with adults who care about them.
"We are not telling them a Bible story before they get pizza," he said.

The church serves the pizza just off campus at Nathan Hale, Ingraham, and Roosevelt high schools. It's once a week, just off campus at each school. A spokeswoman for the Seattle School Districts says the church notified them of the giveaway and it was "ok" with it.

"Last week we got a call from a union," said Steinloski. "They said we were taking away a job, hours from employees at school in the kitchen because kids weren't buying lunch."

The business manager for the union confirmed he has complained to the church. Dave Westberg says the union figures the free pizza is replacing roughly 500 purchased meals each week, and that is equal to 20 labor hours.
A couple of observations.

I don't know why the district could say this is ok.  Kids going to a private home to get a free slice of pizza from a stranger?  (They were served outside on the lawn.)   I'm not sure I think that is particularly safe idea.

More to the point is that the district is hurting itself by not doing better on food service.  The report details how and frankly, the district is being penny-wise and extremely pound-foolish.  It not only hurts the district's bottom line, it hurts kids who are not eating good, nutritional meals. The report reveals that those in food service well know the issues but it's the staff at JSCEE that aren't listening.

The School Board meeting is this afternoon, starting at 4:15 pm. Agenda here.

Highlights:

Action Item:
KUOW had a brief story on this first big item which is the resolution from Directors Peters and Burke on alternative assessments for SBAC.  They have wisely created a document which encourages the district to find alternative assessments to meet the needs of all students which will, in turn, meet the feds/state need to encourage students not to opt out.

Not every student tests well and we all know that.  Have a couple of alternatives to the test allows the district and the Board to say, "Hey, you don't need to opt out; here are other ways to show mastery."

Passing this resolution may not change much but with Seattle School district being the largest district in the state, it may encourage other districts to consider doing this and push OSPI to help.  (A new state superintendent might also help.)

Because, is it more important that all kids take the same test or that students show mastery in different ways to graduate?

Intro Items:
Amending Board policies around program placement and school closures.  This would certainly bring clarity and close some loopholes in these policies.  From the BAR:

Re: program placement (partial
Board approval is required for the closure of programs governed by the student assignment plan. The Superintendent makes the final decision on all the placements of programs not governed by the student assignment plan placements. The Board will be informed of upcoming program placement decisions prior to the decision(s) being made and will receive quarterly updates.

The Superintendent is authorized to make the placement and closure decisions of services, except for services governed by the student assignment plan or other Board policies (e.g., Policy No. 2190 regarding Highly Capable services). The Superintendent is granted this authority in order to address time sensitive decisions that allow the district to provide instruction to students as soon as possible (e.g., Special Education services). The Board will be informed of service decisions in a timely manner, and prior to the decision(s) being made, and will receive quarterly updates.

Placement and closure decisions must be aligned to collective bargaining agreements, legal statutes, the Student Assignment Plan, and other Board policies. The requirement for Board approval does not apply to program and class decisions reserved to a Building Leadership Team or principal under existing collective bargaining agreements.
Re: issues on what is a program, service, etc. (bold mine)

It is also the policy of the Seattle School Board that prior to the district decision to close an instructional site, the following steps shall occur. An instructional site is defined as a facility or building that houses one or more Seattle Public Schools classrooms. The facility or building may be one site of a multi-site OSPI-registered school and include a physical location not on a school campus, but is where participating students regularly receive the majority of their classroom instruction. Students are assigned to instructional sites via the student assignment plan (e.g., Middle College and Interagency sites).
Opening a City pre-K at Dearborn Park.  This followed by reduction of Head Start spaces from 430-400.  Are these two actions related?  Somewhat but the Head Start reduction is related to a budget shortfall in the program.

There is also an item about the Board policy on Audience Participation at Board meetings.  I was at the Executive Committee meeting when this was discussed.  (I even got called on to speak, a rarity for these committee meetings.)  There was a two-fold issue.

One, elected officials who wanted to speak before the Board have expressed their discomfort in having to wait their turn to speak before the Superintendent and Board.  There was discussion over how to move them up on the speakers list but, in the end, the discussion was made that elected officials should notify the Superintendent and he would allot that person time during the Superintendent comments.  My only comment?  That they get two minutes just like everyone else.  Do I think this will happen?  Nope, I'm sure that most elected officials will get more time and no one will check them.

Two,  and this is more serious, is that if there are student speakers, they get to go first to testify.  And, there is no limit to the number of student speakers.  Meaning, if enough kids sign up, they get the entire public speaking time at Board meetings.

I told the Ex Ctm that I welcome student speakers but I didn't think it was a good idea to set up a system that could shut out other speakers including parents and taxpayers.

What they have lighted on is that students have to do three things:

1.  they have to sign up the regular way (i.e. phone or e-mail),
2. they have to make it onto one of the regular 20 speaking slots,
3. they have to identify themselves as a current student.

Do I think it probable that all 20 spots will be taken over every Board meeting?  No but I also don't setting it up for that possibility is a good idea.  I also believe that some adults could manipulate students on what they might say in their testimony.  

I note that the first speaking slot is always reserved for a high school student (the high schools rotate student speakers) and they have a student spot on the Board where that student can speak on any issue.

There will be an executive session for the Board immediately after the close of the board meeting.  This is not open to the public.  This is about litigation and a public employee.  I note that the Friday memo from the Superintendent said they were still negotiating with Garfield teacher Carol Burton who is trying to get her job back at Garfield.

10 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

From the article in The Urbanist:
"Seattle is booming right now. In 2014, Seattle added 8,311 housing units and a similar amount in 2015. That level of development has translated into population growth in the neighborhood of 60,000 since the Seattle’s 2010 Census total of 608,660. Looking ahead, 21,600 units are in the pipeline, and even more are expected by 2020, as Mark Stiles reports: 'Of the nearly 58,000 units developers hope to open between 2016 and 2020, almost 36,000 are in Seattle.'”

So the City is approving all of these new residential units and not collecting a penny in impact fees for building schools. Not a penny.

If the City wants to know how they can help the District, this would be a good place to start.

Eric B said...

If high schools have open campuses, then students can go wherever they want to eat lunch. I'm not a fan of churches using schools to recruit, but it's entirely within their right. If they got special dispensation from the district to let students off of closed campuses, that's a different story.

SPS has been asking for impact fees for a very long time.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Eric, I think, as a parent, you might worry about food safety. I think the district - if they "okayed" this - should have told parents, "there is a group at a house handing out free food once a week and large numbers of students are leaving campus to get it." I have to wonder what Risk Management would say to the district saying it "okayed" it.

I agree; students can do what they want but the district doesn't have to say it's okay.

Anonymous said...

SPS has been asking for impact fees for a very long time.

Really? I've never heard that before. Is there any reason the district can't engage the tens of thousands of families in the SPS system to help put pressure on the city, and if not, why hasn't SPS asked us to help advocate for this?

Fees Please

Eric B said...

Melissa, there's a long way between "we can't do anything to stop this" and "we think this is a good idea", all of which might be covered by "the district is OK with this" especially when that statement is given to the church. I would have liked the spokesperson to be more specific, but sometimes they aren't.

Fees Please, I don't know specifically what SPS has done to ask for fees, but Sherry Carr talked about SPS asking the city for impact fees several times over the last few years.

mirmac1 said...

The developmental preschool that WAS at Dearborn Park was moved to the empty Old Van Asselt "support facility" in 2014. Now the space gets handed to a City SPP PreK. Because of course its important for those kids to be included in a community setting, but not preschoolers with disabilities.

Anonymous said...

A truck with a guy handing out slices was parked across the street from Ingraham at dismissal today... Creating a bit of a traffic issue as gobs of teenagers crossed back and forth across the street and stood around his truck.

Ballard

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ballard, yes, and the pastor said he would do it after school (he started before school ended.) I was told that FOX news (national) wants in on this story.

mirmac1 said...

Food handling permit!!??

Elsa said...

Fox news represents the "pro-luring" crowd.