Sunday, June 12, 2016

Seattle Schools This Week - June 13-18, 2016

Monday, June 13th
Curriculum&Instruction meeting, JSCEE from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda
Once again, a jam-packed agenda which would seem to mean little discussion.

Tuesday, June 14th
OSPI is have a series of forums on the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which replaces NCLB.  There will not be a forum in Seattle but one of the closest ones - in Everett - will be on Tuesday at the Everett Community Resource Center, 3900 Broadway.

The next one in our region will be July 19 at the Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien.  There will be a webinar on August 1st.  

Wednesday, June 15th
School Board meeting, JSCEE starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda 

It a large agenda.  Luckily, they moved many food contract items to the Consent agenda.

- Both this agenda and the C&I agenda have contract info with all the non-SPS facilities that provide Special Education services.  So if you ever wanted to see who SPS contracts with (and how much they pay for) specialized services, it's in these two agendas and their accompanying documentation.  A large number of items on the Intro list are in this category.

- The Written Rules of Student Conduct document will be voted on.  I note that it will be translated into seven languages to serve both students and parents.  Additionally, the district did meet with reps from the Equity and Race Advisory Committee, the City's Race and Social Justice Committee on Racial Disproportionality in Discipline, principals, and students from both Hale and Garfield as well as staff members in different related departments.

- the Principal CBA will be introduced even though the contract is not done.

- Both the Operations and Capital Budgets will be introduced.  The General Fund is just under $790M (with smaller amounts for the ASB fund and debt service fund.)  The Capital budget is just under $275M.

Sad to see that the district had to move almost $1M from the General Fund to the Debt Service Fund just for interest on the bonds for the JSCEE.

I defy anyone to read the notation for the Capital Fund on page 3 and tell me what it all really says. Meaning, that's a lot of jargon there.  A chart might have been more helpful.

Thursday, June 16th
Executive Committee meeting, JSCEE from 11:00 am-11:15 am.  This is a closed session but I have no idea what it is about.  I would think if it were a closed session that all the directors would be there, not just the members of the committee.

Operations Committee meeting, JSCEE from 4:30-6:30 pm, Agenda not yet available.

Immediately following the Operations meeting there is a "closed meeting, per RCW 42.30.140" from 6:30-7:30 pm.  Hmmm.

Friday, June 17th
Last day for all seniors.  And, that night marks the start of graduation season with Rainier Beach, Nova, Ingraham, South Lake and Roosevelt all having their graduation ceremonies that night.  Graduation schedule.  
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education, the on-time graduation rate for the nation's public high schools has reached another all-time high.
Eighty-two percent of the class of 2014 graduated with a regular high school diploma within four years, as measured by the Education Department's Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, or ACGR.
The graduation rate rose by a full percentage point from the prior year and by 3 percentage points since 2011, when the department first started requiring states to calculate and report graduation rates using this method. Graduation rates in roughly half the states reached or exceeded the 85 percent mark for the class of 2014.
Saturday, June 18th
Director Community meeting with Director Blanford at the Douglass-Truth Library from 10 am-11:30 pm.  

I want to congratulate all members of the Class of 2016; you did it!  
And parents, great job as well!

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why isn't the PASS contract public ? The BAR states that it is to be "attached upon completion of negotiations." Where can the public find out what it is that is being negotiated?We definitely want to know what is going on in this contracting process.

reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

I agreed but as long as they get it on the agenda for a vote apparently, that's enough. This is just Intro so we may not see it until a couple of days before the vote at the next Board meeting.

Anonymous said...

Nice heads up on contract approvals for special education.

Northwest School of Innovative Learning (NW SOIL, nice name isn't it?) - now there's a vague contract for special education. Who are these students? And more importantly, why isn't our district able to serve them? This is the largest of the district's special education contracts - yet almost nothing was presented to the board in the agenda in the contract. How many students and what is the tuition we're paying? The district says it's a "day school" required because the district doesn't have day schools - well, yes we do have day schools - 77 of them. The website for NW SOIL is also vague. No curriculum, techniques, nothing. Basically a blank check. And a big one. The board should be much more diligent with these special ed contracts to nowhere. THese also contribute to cost growth in special ed - and add very little to our students.

CHILD - another large contract - serves students almost identically to the district. Nothing special. Just another self-contained warehouse. Why should some students be warehoused at CHILD - but others in the district? I'm sure there are public schools in SPS, where students have a worse experience than at CHILD - but, isn't that always the case? At least with CHILD we can see the tuition, and the number of students served. The tuition for CHILD ranges from $60,000 to $111,000 per year and we can see the number of contracts. This really illustrates why the district doesn't want these EBD schools in the district to get out of hand - doing so costs them dearly. Also good to look at Overlake - $80,000 tuition per student.

The explosion in growth of these contracts - has all occurred in the last 8 years. At the time of the 2007 audit - there were practically no out of district placements. Now with all the new administrators - we've got gobs of these placements.

Behind every one of these placements - is an expensive (and painful) district failure. The board should be actively inquiring about those failures.

Speddie

Charlie Mas said...

Both the proposed policy for Advanced Learning and the proposed Superintendent's Procedure fail because they do not require a curriculum for HC students or for Advanced Learners. In the absence of curricula there is nothing really promised and nothing enforceable. The mysteries remain: What is HC services?? What is Spectrum? What is ALO? How can we tell if a student is getting them? How can we tell is the school is delivering them?

Without curricula we can't tell. More than that, without curricula the school and the teacher are without needed guidance.

It's not an oversight in the policy and procedure - it's a total failure.

Anonymous said...

Wow those are some frighteningly long documents - I wonder how much gets lost in trying to keep track of whats being stated?

Looking at the budget, I wonder about the semantic differences between the categories "Student and School support services", "Business Services" and "District Leadership Services" - why do I have the nagging feeling that's how they can "pretend" that they only spend a small percentage on the admin aspects of SPS?

reader47

Anonymous said...

That is 100% what has been going on, reader47, and it has infuriated me for years.

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader47, I have been saying that for years - what they say is "administration" isn't always clear.

Anonymous said...

I know - I've seen it discussed here many times - this is just one of first budget docs where it's slightly (only slightly) clearer where some of that "fudging" might be happening.

On page 56 of the budget doc linked to in the agenda - it says "Central Admin" is 5.9% - However, I think most people would see some of the items listed under "student support services" as more properly belonging in the Central Admin bucket - printing, warehouse/distribution, and insurance are a few that make me go hmmm...not to mention how they have very very carefully only put the SUPERVISION of certain activities under Central admin (ie nutrition services, transportation) but the actual DOING of those same activities under "student support services".

I find that an extremely questionable distinction and if I were a school board member (over my dead body) - I'd be pounding away at that element - it's a distinction without a difference, a manufactured silo that 99% of people in the "real world" can see through.

That kind of disingenuous behavior (to be kind) draws into question everything else about this budget frankly. I doubt they care though, eh?

reader47

Melissa Westbrook said...

From the district on the budget:

"To share feedback, families, staff and community members are invited to attend a public hearing at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, June 23, in the John Stanford Center auditorium. The public may also comment during the regular School Board meeting on July 6, prior to adoption."

And naturally you can write the Board at spsdirectors@seattleschools.org.

Anonymous said...

Speddie,

You raise great points. My question to you or others is whether there is an external audit process not only for the budgets, but also for how the levy money is spent? If not, isn't there an education reporter with a fine toothed comb??

- NEM

Melissa Westbrook said...

NEM, I have given reporters info, for years, on this issue. None of them want to do the work. But then again, my efforts have mostly been rebuffed with vague answers.

Anonymous said...

Research has shown---
that many students especially girls have difficulty with the (k-5)elementary to (6-8)middle school transition.

This gave rise to an increase in k-8 schools.

The district better have a really good plan for the student transition from a k-5 into a 6-12.

Having taught in k-8, 7-8, 9-12, 10-12. I preferred k-8 to 7-8.
I liked 9-12 and 10-12 equally well.

I found k-8 far superior to 7-8 for middle level kids.

The problem is keeping kids focused on learning. That is probably more a teachers and curriculum issue along with good administration than any other issue.

In a few years when my granddaughter goes to sixth grade, my preference would be for her to be in a school without 18 year old students.

She is currently in second grade in a k-8 school. Having moved from a k-5 school for first grade due to moving to a new house.

It would be nice if parents had more options that were not a long bus ride away. Unfortunately the public has very little input that is thoughtfully considered by this district.

Most requests for input are a sham. It appears decisions have already been made. These requests for input often seem to be a legal inconvenience that the SPS must tolerate but rarely uses.

DD

Anonymous said...

Why can't they ever finish old work before taking on new initiatives.

Interestingly (and maybe I just never noticed before) but they have the minutes of work sessions and the retreat on the Consent Agenda. Are there actual minutes of these meetings or just agendas?
Interesting capital items. One is for McClure to get some energy efficiency work done under a Washington State Department of Commerce grant. From the agenda item:

"McClure Middle School was awarded a grant during the last legislative session under
sponsorship of state Rep. Reuven Carlyle. The grant is intended for capital improvements that
will improve energy efficiency at McClure Middle School and will be performed under an
Energy Savings Contracting Demonstration Project."

Two, is for Old Hay updates. The problem is it comes under BTA II, not BTA III (where there is currently money set aside for it). Ditto money for Rainier View Elementary. Here's where, as usual, things get confusing. BTA II didn't have money to reopen these buildings. So if they are taking money from BTA II for two of the reopening buildings, why is there money in BTA III for the same thing? And what was the original use of the BTA II money going to Rainier View and Old Hay?

(This is why I harp on the BTA and BEX money. It flows from here to there and back and there is almost no way to say where the money really goes. Someone in the district likely knows but you try finding out.)

Three is work on Salmon Bay and Loyal Heights. I have no problem with the work but frankly, Salmon Bay should be on BEX IV for a rebuild. It is a very old building (1931).

CT

Melissa Westbrook said...

DD, to my knowledge there is no school in SPS that has a 6-12. There's just 6-8 or K-8 and 9-12.

Anonymous said...

Melissa look no further than Old Van Asselt, the district's sped dump. Preschool through college. Preschoolers with disabilities that the city doesn't want to serve all the way through transition students, who incidentally, are still practicing, preschool activities like circle time. There's no walkable business district near Old Van Asselt, so 21 year olds practice the great skill of sitting in a circle and wandering around the neighborhood. Also, the district is trying to add an EBD dump there too. Bring back those expensive out of district placements, and put them in a school where the only people they will terrorize are the disabled preschoolers and disabled adults pretending to be preschoolers. All in a dilapidated building without anything else. No ski bus, football team, band practice for these kids. Maybe CT would like this school for her granddaughter.

Reader

Watching said...

Time for a line- item budget??

Watching said...

Budget- page 8:

"Indicates that Support Services include the costs of processing
payroll, paying bills, administering programs,
managing grants and hiring staff. It also
includes the costs of our technology team, our
delivery drivers, warehouse staff and
insurance."

Support services consume 19% of the budget.

I can't look at Support Services without considering the costs of legislation and unfunded mandates. Some pieces of legislation are 45 pages long. The district seeks to remain compliant with these laws- which must rack-up administrative costs. Clearly, funding technology teams and administering programs falls under the category of Common Core and SBAC.

At one point, I noted that $8M was going into Common Core and professional development. I've also seen enormous costs related to implementing the teacher evaluation system. Then, there are costs related to implementing 24 credit requirements. What are technology costs related to SBAC testing?

What a mess.


Watching said...

A few more budget related thoughts:

As a result of the state lowering the levy inflator, SPS lost $6M times two...or $12M
The district received funds to lower class size, but levy dollars must pick-up 25% teacher salaries or- $12M. We're looking at considerable dollars- just here.

Page 33 of the budget shows and increase of approximately 100 elementary teachers and 100 new aides.