Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Friday Memo Surprises on Boundaries

During the discussion at the Boundary Changes thread, I was asked to create another thread on what readers found in the Friday Memo on this subject.

One reader noted that two of the attachments that were supposed to be in the original BAR are finally at the SPS website.  (And use that in any argument you want to make about going forward - information was not given to the Board and the community in a timely fashion.)


Attachment DGrandfathering and Fiscal Impact Data
This is quite the terse and less-than-fleshed out fiscal document.

Attachment E - Community Meetings Feedback (62 pages)

From the Oct 21st Friday memo - 2017-18 Growth Boundary Feedback and Consideration
(via Green Lake parent)

This memo is organized into four categories as was mentioned at the School Board meeting on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 when the Growth Boundaries BAR was introduced. The memo covers the following topics: grandfathering recommendations, Cedar Park planning, requests to review specific change areas, and highly capable cohort pathway planning.

Kellie LaRue (I've put several of her comments together)
For example, it would take 21 portables to grandfather everyone, but only 11 portables to grandfather everyone except John Rogers and Olympic Hills. Therefore implying that Olympic Hill and John Rogers will need 10 of the 21 portables to grandfather their two schools. Except that Olympic Hills is moving into a brand new huge building. How is that possible?? It means that you can't trust the rest of the analysis.

My favorite little part. Area 66 is one of the easiest places to just say yes. Area 66 is a small area of 43 students that is 19% ELL and 62% FRL, being geo-split from McClure to Meany. Meany is going to be 95% split from Washington and therefore all of the programming focus will be matching Washington and there will be little attention paid to this small group. These McClure students just want to be grandfathered at the school that has plenty of space for them.

The reason why this is no OK, is because it would be "inconsistent." Never mind that during the 2013 geo-splits some areas were split and other grandfathered based on capacity. Also never mind that Whitman was promised grandfathering. Now we are going to be concerned about consistency and split these 43 students away from a school that has over 100 empty seats. 
SPS has purchased large number of portables every year since 2009 and we have over 200 portables district wide. Some of those are not very portable any longer but some of them are very portable. The four portables at Hamilton were permitted for only one year and they need to moved elsewhere next year. There are also still portables at the Old Schmitz Park budding that could be re-deployed.
Gerry Pollet has been an incredibly gift to SPS. He has worked consistently to get additional money and to always be available.

Cedar Park was not part of the BEX IV plan, Gerry had secured the money to make Cedar Park an interim facility so that BOTH Olympic Hills and John Rogers could be rebuilt. It was a shock to many when at the very last moment, Cedar Park became an attendance area school under Growth Boundaries.
It would be excellent if Gerry could secure funds to accelerate the rebuild of John Rogers as that would actually solve multiple capacity and segregation/integration problems. John Rogers has been on the BEX planning list for many cycles. 
 North-end Mom on Cedar Park:
Here are some FRL numbers (dated May 2016, from OSPI):

Sacajawea, 25.7% FRL
Olympic View, 38.6% FRL
John Rogers, 40.2% FRL
Olympic Hills, 74.6% FRL

The official FRL estimate for Cedar Park is 69%. In my opinion, this is very conservative, because it includes portions of the Cedar Park attendance area that would go private rather than send kids to a school with high FRL.

Under the 2017-18 growth boundaries plan, almost all the FRL and ELL kids in the region will be assigned to either Cedar Park or Olympic Hills, instead of being distributed between four schools (as they are now). As a consequence of opening Cedar Park as an attendance area school, the FRL and ELL population of John Rogers, Sacajawea, and possibly Olympic View will drop sharply. More importantly, actual kids will be re-assigned to a different "neighborhood" school mid-way through elementary school, and many of these kids qualify for FRL and/or ELL, and are least-equipped to handle the transition.
Go Eagle Staff:
At least the memo makes it very clear that HCC will be placed at Eagle Staff and will be geosplit from Hamilton.

That section doesn't contain any "options" making it clear that it is a done deal. 
North-End Mom:
For those of you following the ever-growing list of "what to do with the "extra" kids at Cascadia," there is a new option in the above-mentioned Friday memo:

"Option 8: Cascadia split and Olympic Hills serves as an Option Site for HCC similar to Fairmount Park.
North end boundary changes would still be implemented in order to provide capacity relief. Requestsfor testing have already ended and historically very few students in this area are eligible for HCC, so itis not likely that many students from this area would attend HCC in the first year. More families in the northeast may start testing since there is an option closer to them. Keeps HCC integrated rather than creating another standalone HCC school. The Olympic Hills community were not planning on housing HCC in their building, so this would be new information that would have to be communicated and the school would have to plan for this."


Is there no memory of how this idea was received when Director Peaslee proposed it back in 2013? That they would resurrect this repulsive and convoluted plan to split the high-poverty kids out of Olympic Hills in order to make room for HCC kids in the shiny new building is beyond comprehension!
Green Lake parent:
One of many things that bother me about the document is that it doesn't include any analysis of alternatives for Eagle Staff's boundaries so that Whitman's enrollment doesn't see a drastic drop to half it's current size next year. Is this on anyone's radar?! Board or SPS staff???
Me:
 You might want to get masses of people to the next Board meeting. This is about to get very, very real.

93 comments:

Anonymous said...

The memo makes it clear they will move part of HIMS HCC to REMS, but is there any way to tell what size HCC cohort they plan to have at REMS and how many HCC they expect to remain at HIMS? Also, I thought the proposed boundaries essentially filled REMS with neighborhood schools, leaving no room for an HCC cohort. Do they need to adjust all the boundaries again to make this work? (And really, isn't this what we expected them to do in the first place???)

HF

Anonymous said...

After seeing many of the inconsistencies in what the district has told families, I do not know how much of the memo from enrollment planning should be believed? Regarding grandfathering and the statement that Viewlands cannot house anymore portables I am wondering if this is even true? There seems to be a huge amount of land (both paved and unpaved) around the school.

Aghast

Viewlands parent said...

I just posted this to the previous Boundary discussion. Here it is for this thread....
I am not sure why the district memo says that Viewlands can't have any more portables. We were supposed to have three added 2016-2017 but had two added when the district cancelled a teacher in June. Why can't they add that very same portable 2017-2018? Viewlands did reduce K,1,2 class sizes per McCleary this school year. Why if we already have 11 portables did they choose Viewlands as one of the schools to do class size reductions? We are an attendance area school so the district will always be shuffling things to make room for students. So there must be other options considering it is a rapidly growing school. When Viewlands reopened in 2011 it was predicted to open with 80 students. It opened with 180 students and was allowed to fill gradually. Now five years later we have 400 students. Not sure what the long term thinking is for Viewlands but moving students from Viewlands to Olympic View and filling with Broadview Thompson and Whitman kids doesn't add up.
10/26/16, 10:55 AM

Anonymous said...

I still don't see how the district is addressing Whitman's underenrollment. With a HCC contingent moving to REMS, will they be moving feeder schools back to Whitman? Allowing grandfathering? Concerned that this doesn't seem to be on their radar...

kellie said...

There a bunch of things that get clarified in this memo that are very helpful and a few items that create more questions.

The clarification that HCC will be split from Hamilton and moved to Eagle Staff starting in 2017 is solid information. Without that foundational data, it is impossible to even try to get a handle on middle school feeder patterns.

However, now that it is clear that there will likely be up to 400 HCC students at Eagle Staff, the next piece of the puzzle is missing.

When the 2013 board voted to put AS1 (now Licton Springs) into the Wilson Pacific (now Eagle Staff) building, part of that vote was to re-examine all of the North Seattle feeder patterns. It is not surprising that this step was omitted, because the original plan was extremely complex and the loss of Tracy Libros ensured that much of this institutional memory would be lost.

Reducing the capacity of Eagle Staff by 2-300 seats and then adding 400 seats of HCC has definite impacts on the middle school feeder patterns for the entire North end and this should have been examined last Spring.

Last Spring there were two community meetings regarding the opening of Eagle Staff middle school. I spoke to parents who attended each of the meetings and they reported that there were 6 parents at each of the two meetings and Jon Halfaker, the Executive Director for the NW. The same planning meetings for JAMS were packed with well over 100 people, multiple district staff and board members.

Why such a huge difference? Families at Whitman were promised that they could matriculate at Whitman and that Whitman students would not be geo-split, when Eagle Staff opened. These students would be offered a choice to stay at Whitman or moved to Eagle Staff. Hence, there was no compelling reason for these issues to get sorted out last Spring. These issues were somebody-else's-problem.

The memo makes it clear in the discussion of Area 66 that geo-splitting students at middle school is policy and there can be no exceptions.

So now what? How can something this complex be untangled in the brief window between board meetings?

kellie said...

The entire section "Requests to Review Specific Boundary Changes" is very confusing, because of the same middle school issue in my last comment.

This section addresses concerns about Area 124 (West Woodland to Bagley), Area 41 and 44 (Greenlake to Wedgewood and Bryant) and Area 117 (Viewlands to Olympic View). Staff's comments make it clear that from the elementary school point of view these moves are non-sensical.

These changes move students from one crowded to school to another school that is either equally or more crowded. The rationale for preserving these changes, that will most assuredly geo-split students into a more crowded school, is that these changes are necessary for middle school capacity reasons.

The bottom line: These change areas are directly impacting the elementary schools and the change will be most strongly felt by geo-split elementary students. This plan will not help students, families or capacity management for elementary. However, there are some nominal gains in middle school feeder patterns.

Sigh.

The problem is that the middle school feeder patterns for all FIVE north end middle schools are unbalanced. The way you fix a balance problem is by re-balancing the feeder patterns. Not by gerrymandering multiple elementary schools.

Geo-splitting elementary students in order to fix middle school feeder patterns is just ... extremely disruptive and not effective.



Anonymous said...

Kellie said: "Why such a huge difference?"

Also, wanted to add that the parents who have HCC kids within the Whitman reference area were very unclear as to the pathway so they did not attend the Eaglestaff meetings. That is also a large group of parents.
-NW

Melissa Westbrook said...

So now what? How can something this complex be untangled in the brief window between board meetings?"

Yes, they had all these community meeting that solved nothing and gave out very little real information. Now, true to the district's MO, it's "hurry, we have to hurry." Hurray to what? Making terrible mistakes with lasting effects? No thanks.

If you looked at that memo and tried to figure out all those moving parts, well, good luck to you. Does staff give the Board something interactive -with a giant map - that would show "if A, then B" and allow the Board to ask real questions.

It leaves the Board probably standing up for one thing (likely to be Cedar Park) and having to cross their fingers for the rest.

It's no way to run a district.

I was one of four (count 'em 4) people to attend last night's Budget meeting. All is not well, kids, and I have to wonder why the district is NOT being clear on the seriousness at hand over next year's budget.

But one key thing? They seem very of the mind to make decisions on programs like Sped, HCC, dual language and Montessori. Those changes could very well affect the boundaries and may be what is in the back of the minds of staff.

I'll try to get that up tonight.

Anonymous said...

Wait..the approved boundary change of elementary students from Green Lake to Wedgwood returns students to their originally assigned school, Wedgwood, and keeps them at Eckstein. Parents supported the change. It kept them in walking distance. Now the approved change is going to be undone?

Do feeder patterns need to be changed or eliminated? Perhaps middle school boundaries need to be separate from elementary boundaries.

yikes

Anonymous said...

What exactly do people expect the board to do? They will do what they do best...nothing!

Tic Tock

Green Lake Parent said...

Yikes -

I don't believe Area 44 has been assigned to Wedgwood since 2009. So none of the kids who live in that area and currently go to Green Lake ever went to Wedgwood (current 4th graders started Kindergarten in 2012). I believe what those families really want is for their students to be grandfathered, so they can finish their time at Green Lake, and then they are happy to go on to middle school at Eckstein (which makes sense geographically).

Personally, I think that the elementary to middle school feeder pattern should be eliminated. It creates so many problems. In prior years when grandfathering was the norm with boundary changes it was not as much of an issue. But, without grandfathering it means elementary school kids are being forced to change schools for reasons completely unrelated to elementary school capacity. And when staff stand up there at Growth Boundary meetings and tell parents that the reason for these changes is due to opening new buildings and enrollment changes -- meanwhile for many (like Green Lake) it's really about lining up with middle schools -- it feels really disingenuous.

-Green Lake Parent

SPS Mom said...

I would suggest to the district and board that the middle school boundaries are the same as the HS boundaries (there would likely be at least a couple of middle schools feed into each high school.) Certainly the transition from middle school to high school, curriculum-wise, is more important than from K-5 to middle school.

kellie said...

The theme that keeps recurring in the memo is "viable cohort." However, because of staff turnover, nobody really knows the source of that phrase.

It is likely surprising to many people that the first time, it was proposed to put a comprehensive middle school in the Jane Addams building was in 2004. At the time, Summit K-12 had been a successful program in that building for a very long time, and the pressure of middle school enrollment growth were already visible in 2004.

There was nearly a decade of conversation about what is a comprehensive middle school before JAMS opened its doors. The conversation focused on what was offered at Hamilton and Eckstein - math that extended to Geometry or Algebra 2 and 4 levels of band and orchestra. Those two items - math and band became the focus of what distinguished a comprehensive middle school from the homeroom based elementary and K8 experience.

In 2013, when the decision was finally made to open JAMS, the conversation then focused on ensuring that there was a "viable cohort" in order to provide multiple levels of math and band, so that the experience would be comprehensive.

Now in the memo, the term viable cohort is used to mean a lot of things and therefore it means very little. Viable cohort as a stand alone phrase is meaningless. Viable cohort for what? What is provided by this viable cohort? What is the minimum necessary to make that cohort viable.

In the case of JAMS, the minimum was Algebra 2 and Symphonic Band.

In the case of Sandpoint, McDonald, Viewlands, Queen Anne Elementary, etc ... those schools started with a small base and then rolled up to their full enrollment.

Anonymous said...

I'm also wondering about the whole Middle School Feeder thing. As Green Lake Parent mentioned above, it seems like the elementary boundaries are getting messed with in order to address MS feeders. Especially if the MS-HS curriculum consistency is important, and the ES-MS curriculum consistency is not, it sounds like this aspect of the problem, at least, could be less complex.

Perplexed Parent

Anonymous said...

The proposed boundary changes and resulting under-enrollment at Whitman mean it may not be a comprehensive middle school in 2017, based on Kellie's definition of a comprehensive middle school. Simple fix to the Whitman mess: keep Greenwood assigned to Whitman. That also frees up space at REMS.

Elementary changes are so sad because many are unnecessary. It feels SPS could start over completely and end up with a smaller set of changes.

It also seems like there are ulterior motives that are not being expressed. For example, Whitman has several very old "portables" on a lot with plenty of space for them. Is the move to make the school smaller an effort to get rid of these portables? Seem like it, but why?

sixwrens

Anonymous said...

What can we as parents do to demand that the district clearly articulate ALL the changes proposed, how they are linked, how they solve capacity and substantive instructional issues like 20 minute additional school day and additional high school credits starting with next year's freshman class, and WHY the changes are being proposed. There seems to be no master plan, just a lot of a la carte changes for which no one can provide coherent justification.

If we better understood WHY changes are being proposed and what problems they SOLVE this would be a much more transparent and well thought out process.

Concerned Hamilton and Cascadia parent

Anonymous said...

I'm just now wading through the posted comments document. I've told our kids they've possibly been in more schools than a military family, even though we haven't moved. And then I read this comment:

I was in the military, which meant moving my children around every year, which has an emotional, social and cognitive impact. I got out of the military to provide my kids with stability. Now they are going to be moved more than if I had stayed in the military.

Yep.

As others have noted, the district needs to reevaluate keeping ES to MS feeder patterns. It is clear from the many comments that parents don't want children forced to move schools during their elementary years, as the no grandfathering plan would require.

Just looking at Green Lake boundaries, you see the issues. The approved boundary changes (areas 41 and 44) would allow students to continue walking to Eckstein instead of busing to Hamilton when GL is assigned as a feeder school to Hamilton (or Eaglestaff??) from Eckstein. Based on the location of the middle schools, and the geographic barriers of Green Lake and I5, it would make much more sense to split the GL elementary zone for middle school, with students going to Hamilton, Eckstein, or Eaglestaff. Delinking ES and MS would allow them to right size schools, and possibly avoid so many forced moves, while making the boundaries more logical.

Should parents advocate for eliminating ES to MS feeder patterns? They might make sense for language immersion, but not so much for neighborhood schools.

-wondering

Lynn said...

No. We should not eliminate ES to MS feeder patterns. Instead we should hire competent administrative staff who understand (and care about) how their decisions affect actual children. They should be starting with enrollment projections that assume no students are geo-split and then make incremental changes to reduce overcrowding to a manageable level. Children should not be geo-split solely because doing it to other children is necessary. Other common-sense rules - don't place two option schools right next to each other. Don't draw boundaries for new schools that concentrate poverty if it's at all avoidable. Take buildings coming online in the next five years into account when making boundary and enrollment decisions today. (Lincoln, Magnolia and Webster)

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure, Lynn. What I see in the comments doc are many families advocating for grandfathering, when some of those ES boundary changes were made for MS assignment purposes, not ES. Trying to optimize boundaries for ES and MS simultaneously has led to some less than ideal boundaries and will continue to create unnecessary upheaval of families and school communities, not to mention continued capacity imbalances.

-wondering

Anonymous said...

The justification for changing to the NSAP was to give families predictability. That trumped economic diversity & magnet programs for music & school choice & walkability & site-based program management, et cetera. All to be ruled out, so that families would have the holy grail of predictability. Well this is less predictable than the choice system, where at least transition year populations could be managed to allow some grandfathering. It doesn't seem like using boundaries makes any sense if they change them each year. What is the point of having them then.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

Looking at the October 2016 enrollment numbers, Hamilton seems to be the only north end school that is painfully over-enrolled.

Eckstein 980
Hamilton 1203
Whitman 855

Hamilton's enrollment seems manageable If 350-400 HCC students are geo-split to Eagle Staff.
Eckstein's number will go down a bit since Olympic View will feed to Eagle Staff.
Whitman's number will drop dramatically since Bagley, BT, Greenwood, Northgate will feed to Eagle Staff.

N by NW



Anonymous said...

RE: Eagle Staff

I looked at the current 5th grade cohort at the Eagle Staff feeder schools ... 283 students.

Bagley - 67
Broadview Thompson - 51
Greenwood - 57
Northgate -42
Olympic View - 66

283 5th graders
150 Licton Springs Students
350 HCC students

783 possible students @ Eagle Staff. Why is SPS saying Eagle Staff will be over-enrolled? Isn't it being built for 1000 students?

N by NW


NE Parent said...

HS Parent,

Whereas you and I may think about things in terms of "this year" and "next year" because our kids only go through each grade once, my experience with the district administration is that they think about things in the long-term, because they are bureaucrats with long careers in school administration. As a result there is a lot of needless collateral damage to families along the way.

Anonymous said...

Predictable school changes from ES, to MS, to HS are way better than interrupting ES or MS or HS for a new school. I have always thought that MS should be geographic rather than with feeder schools. Take Wedgwood ES. It feeds into Eckstein even though some of the kids can see JAMS from their yards. It would make way more sense to split them after ES than after MS. They will be split between Hale and Roosevelt and Ingraham after MS anyway.

HP

Anonymous said...

@ N by NW, Eagle Staff will start as 6-8. So in addition to those 283 (currnent) 5th graders, there will also be a bunch of current 6th and 7th graders from the neighborhood. If the boundaries comprise close to 300 students per grade and they have 3 grades, that's pretty full, especially when you add in LS.

They need to reassign some feeder schools elsewhere in order to make room for an HCC cohort.

HF

Lynn said...

283 5th graders * three years = 849 general education students plus 150 Licton Springs students = 999 students without HCC. I think staff is anticipating moving Whitman HCC to Whitman just to mess with those families.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, according to the Friday memo: "The (HCC) recommended pathways when Eagle Staff opens are as follows:
Whitman and Eagle Staff will be assigned to Eagle Staff
McClure and Hamilton will be assigned to Hamilton"

They will need to reassign some feeder schools back to Whitman to keep it a comprehensive middle school.

Anonymous said...

Lynn-- WMS will drop also when Meany opens and there is an established HCC pathway. Perhaps staff is thinking that site can enroll HCC kids if Eaglestaff, HIMS, JAMS are over enrolled. Who knows. Or maybe they will pull back an elementary school into Whitman. Whitman will be very under enrolled in the current plan and I know many families are very concerned about losing teachers etc. I was told (when I asked) that they do not have plans for yet another HCC program at Whitman.
-BT

Lynn said...

Look at the timing. The REMS boundaries include the listed elementary schools. Any changes would require a board vote next Wednesday. Staff haven't recommended any changes to the board.

In January staff has an opportunity to change the assignment process - this is where HCC families learn where their kids will have a seat. Staff will inform the board that oops - HCC won't fit at REMS. We do have empty seats at Whitman....

Anonymous said...

Lynn--
"Staff haven't recommended any changes to the board."
This problem is being brought up now with SPS and the board. Flip was well aware of a concern that all the feeder schools plus HCC would not fit. Let's see if any boundary amendments are proposed tommorow on Friday. The board has gotten emails about this issue. If not, well people need to advocate!!
-BT

karen said...

N by NW, SPS thinks only a couple of Broadview Thompson kids will leave the K-8 for REMS. They also assume 10% (or some number) of the current students will not attend for one reason or another. Also, as others mentioned above, you are not including current 6th and 7th graders that will be geo-split into REMS.

I think the 350 figure for APP kids you mention is high. I think it's more like 280.

Based on Halfaker's comment that no one program will dominate REMS, I think it's doubtful that a feeder school will be sent back to Whitman.

kellie said...

Back to basics here.

The Growth Boundaries vote next week focused on boundary changes that are a direct results of BEX projected being brought online. As such, the Growth Boundaries vote is very narrow in its focus as the items attached to growth boundaries are directly related to new buildings.

The Student Assignment plan (schedule for introduction in Dec and vote in Jan) is much broader in its focus and has to do with ANYTHING related to how students are assigned.

In theory, Staff could have fixed the feeder patterns as part of Growth Boundaries, but they didn't. My hope is that the Board creates an amendment where they instruct Staff to re-evaluate all north end feeder patterns as part of the Student Assignment Plan.

By creating this type of amendment, they create a timeline where staff has to fix this. IMHO, that is the best of a bunch of bad options.

kellie said...

Eagle Staff was ORIGINALLY designed as a 1,000 seat middle school.

However, the placement of Licton Springs K8 has dramatically reduced the capacity of the school. This is because co-locating separate programs is pretty space intensive. My best guess is that capacity of RESMS is around 700, but we won't really know real world capacity until the school is up and running.

The amendment that created Licton Springs K8, was based on excess systemwide capacity, NOT specific capacity at RESMS. As such, there was a presumption/assumption, that all the middle school feeder patterns would be re-examined in light of that program placement decision.

Due to staff turnover, that feeder pattern re-examination never happened. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, if the Eagle Staff meetings last Spring has been well attended, this problem would have been daylighted last Spring. However, there was minimal attendance due to the promise that students could matriculate at Whitman.

It was only this Fall, when it became clear that the plan was now to geo-split several hundred students was there enough "eyeballs" examining this plan to daylight this fatal flaw.


kellie said...

As a summary, the current plan does the following.

* Eckstein loses TWO feeder schools and shrinks significantly.
* Whitman loses FOUR feeder schools and shrinks significantly.
* Eagle Staff gains FIVE feeders school, HCC and Licton Springs K8.
* Hamilton loses 50% of HCC and gains a feeder school. Net capacity is a wash and the school remains over-crowded.

The net result is that both Eckstein and Whitman become way too small and Hamilton and Eagle Staff are way too big. To make matters even sillier, both Eckstein and Whitman have extremely flexible capacity as both school have space for significant portables. Whereas both Hamilton and Eagle Staff have very inflexible capacity as their campuses are very restricted.

Anonymous said...

"Based on Halfaker's comment that no one program will dominate REMS, I think it's doubtful that a feeder school will be sent back to Whitman."
Karen- I heard that comment as well, but Halfaker is one person and he may have been unaware of the size of HCC. 350 plus is projection at Eaglestaff after HIMS split if it includes all Whitman HCC plus Eaglestaff HCC. They can't split the 350 either and make a cohort of HCC at Whitman, as it would fall below 275 recommendation for a viable cohort.
-BT

Anonymous said...

@ kellie, I agree that the actual capacity of REMS is reduced by the co-siting of Licton Springs. When you guess 700 is a more reasonable figure, are you accounting for the placement of an HCC cohort there, too? The completely different sets of LA, SS and science classes that will need to happen within each grade level will complicate the master schedule and impact capacity.

HF

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn is thinking down the road and please, Lynn, send that thought to the Board about Whitman.

Also, I will be writing about the community budget meeting I attended on Tuesday night at JSCEE (with another one tonight at South Shore K-8 and none scheduled for the north end.)

Because what I have to tell you may throw yet another monkey wrench into the whole picture.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, any way to get out preliminary info on that budget meeting within the next couple hours, before the Lincoln meeting, if you think it's relevant? Based on a comment you had earlier, I think there's something re: HCC. My guess--and this is just a guess--is that they are planning to eliminate high school HCC pathways altogether. Is that it?

do tell

Lynn said...

I'm going to guess they are suggesting we drop: IB, Language Immersion, attendance area K-8s and Montessori. These are all programs that require additional staffing. They are also probably going to say that there's no evidence split-grade classrooms affect student learning (test scores) and that money spent to reduce these could be better spent elsewhere.

kellie said...

@ HF,

My best guess is just that ... my best guess. It could be 800 or it could be 600. I just depends on how many homerooms are available for programming after the K8 has their dedicated space.

That said, HCC has minimal impact on middle school capacity. This is because there is NO requirement for middle school students to have a full academic schedule. At middle school, the efficiency of the master schedule determines how many students get their first choice electives or any elective at all. It does not impact the number of students who can enrolled.

SPS-tired said...

All of this uncertainty and district crap means that families like mine that grew up in and believe in public schools are seriously considering what it would take to afford to go private. I"m tired of my kid being in classrooms that are overcrowded with staff that is under appreciated.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, didn't have time to write the full thread.

The takeaway from the Budget meeting is that the district will have a$70M gap and they are looking for "what you value" to make possible cuts. This is due to salaries mostly.

But what they presented as "SPS Programs Enhanced with Levy" was NOWHERE near all the things that could be cut. What was on the list?

- Advanced learning programs/offerings
- Bilingual programs/offerings
- dual language
- K-8s
- Montessori

and unbelievably:
- Special education services

followed by
- "Others?"

I find this deeply troubling.

Anonymous said...

What advanced learning are they saying costs them money? HCC does not; Spectrum does not. Testing? That is 100% paid for by the state- are those dollars fungible? Are there advanced classes in high school that do? They don't pay for IB, so that doesn't.

-sleeper

SPS Mom said...

The way that you wrote it, Melissa, it almost sounds like the district wants to cut what we most value.... I doubt that is what they meant, but if they did, they came up with a good list of things people would be upset about losing.

I hope that the board will push back hard on this. The cuts need to be made downtown. And most things on their list don't cost extra except for dual language. It's like they are trying to pit communities against one another. Again.

Lori said...

Last I had looked, state funding was capped at 2.3% of enrollment so maybe that doesn't fully cover AL-related expenses.

Anonymous said...

But they just spend that all on testing. The programs cost zero dollars that I know of. What exactly would they cut to save money? Just not identify them next year?

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

They claim that they only get $500K from the State for HCC (but I don't think that includes transportation.). And that they put in $1M. So they spend $1M on salaries and testing and appeals? So I'm asking for the total AL budget.

Anonymous said...

And...what do they put in for each option school and program?

HCC Bargain

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight, Olympic Hills is asking for Cedar Park to be an option school or interim site for John Rogers, and if it's an option school the want to make sure it's not used for HCC. Are they essentially saying they don't believe the kids in their neighborhood have the potential to be HC-qualified? Really? Hazelwolf has a small cohort of HC-qualified students that have worked together through the years. Why couldn't the option schools all save room for 8-12 HCC kids per grade? That would be one table of four in three classes who get pulled out for enrichment. Would having those kids there REALLY make you worry so much about how your kids might feel? You know some HC-qualified students don't need the cohort and blend well in the classroom, but they still need acceleration. If people would stop being so divisive we could work together to find solutions, rather than create barriers. Listen to yourselves. You complain about "those HCC kids" but in reality, they are treated like the rotten egg nobody wants in their school or taking up space they think they should get.

Land Grab

Anonymous said...

I live in Cedar Park and I haven't heard the community talk about not wanting HCC. I heave heard that "they" don't want CP to be an HCC site, who is "they"? I do know that it would be a mistake to co-locate an HCC program and a gen ed program, but it's about the perfect size for a self-contained HCC 1-5 program - and wouldn't come with some of the problems of putting HCC on the same lot as TC.

- CP mom

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but it would be a wildly unpopular idea to give HCC a school of their own when there is a serious effort to split it up, and co-house the program. There is little chance they would put a NE HCC school in a location that is permanent, stable and scalable. That would show the group too much kindness.

Land Grab

Anonymous said...

"The way that you wrote it, Melissa, it almost sounds like the district wants to cut what we most value.... I doubt that is what they meant, but if they did, they came up with a good list of things people would be upset about losing."

They should cut transportation and salaries of management before ANY academic programs are cut. Cutting special ed and advanced learning offerings??!!!This is completely unacceptable, every district offers these programs and are required by law to serve all kids. Is this due to having to lower class sizes and implement the 24 credit requirement? We are supposed to be getting more money not less from the state. I would like an explanation.
If it is due to salaries, then they need to all take a pay cut before our kids suffer. This is unacceptable.
-NW

Anonymous said...

Here's the document in which they give an overview of budget & projected shortfalls, as recently presented to the Board.


Budget Process and Update

I could not agree more that cutting some of the very high salary positions added in recent years should be the FIRST line of defense - but it won't be because "ohhh we just NEED those people"

bleah

reader47

Anonymous said...

In the 2016-2017 Budget Book on page 33 (they call it page 25) is an org chart listing the number of people in each category of position. Here's some areas of "opportunity" to balance the budget

Under the rather ambiguous heading "Director/Supervisor" there were 84.7 in the 2014/15 year and 100.9 in the 2016/17 budget year....hmmmm...

Under "other District Administrator" there were 34 in 2014/15 and 41.7 in 2016/17 - double hmmm..


reader47

Melissa Westbrook said...

1) I would gently point out that if there are continuing issues with HCC being in a building with a Gen Ed program, those issues are the fault of adults, not kids. It's hard to believe that it is not possible to create an inclusive school spirit even with different programs. I think it has a lot to do with who runs the building.

2) I was channeling some of you when I attended the community budget meeting - I suggested cutting the Ex Directors positions.

Anonymous said...

Any feedback from the Lincoln meeting?

The design is at 50% and they have no idea what students or programs will be there. They had no plans for upgrading the auditorium. The plan presented an open courtyard space in place of the covered walkways between buildings. I am curious if removing the covered walkways keeps the buildings separate for code purposes and allows them to upgrade the main structure without bringing the auditorium up to earthquake code.

The boundary discussions weren't supposed to start until ??, but parents are stressing the need to determine boundaries ASAP. Kudos to Burke for having the meeting. Some SPS staff were present, so hopefully they got the message about needing to get serious about high school planning. Well over a hundred parents attended. Anyone stay to the bitter end?

-parent

Anonymous said...

Cedar Park as an interim site for John Rogers is my number one preference. John Rogers desperately needs a new building. If funding can be found to rebuild John Rogers, then I hope SPS will go that route.

IMO, if SPS is determined to split HCC, putting it in Cedar Park as a stand-alone program would be much more preferable than splitting the Olympic Hills school community (with half going to Cedar Park), and shoving HCC into the new Olympic Hills building. Facilities usage-wise, stand-alone HCC at Cedar Park would also seem to be a better option than creating a 1000-student mega campus at Decatur.

As a JAMS parent, I personally think it would be awesome if there could be more neighborhood kids feeding into HCC at JAMS. Elementary HCC is not very accessible to kids living in and around the Lake City area, and there is not much motivation to go the HCC route. If there was an HCC site closer to where kids live, over time there could be more identification of HCC-qualified NNE Seattle kids. There would need to be a concerted effort to reduce the many barriers to entrance in the program, such as convenient testing locations, and more use of teacher referrals for cognitive testing.

It is a long bus ride from Lake City to Lincoln. Participation in after-school activities, sports, etc... is nearly impossible. The bus ride to the new Cascadia building will probably be a little shorter, but not by much. HCC at Decatur would be more convenient for Lake City families, but I find it highly-unlikely that any kids from the John Rogers, Sacajawea, or Olympic Hills attendance areas would be assigned to HCC at the Decatur building, since it would be filled with the many HCC-qualified students within a few blocks of the building. I would bet there would also be a huge influx of local former private school students into HCC if it was placed at Decatur.

Alternative uses for Cedar Park (option school, HCC site, potential interim site for John Rogers, etc...) were not discussed at any of the community meetings held at Olympic Hills@Cedar Park or John Rogers last spring or this fall. The conversation at these meetings was steered toward the official plan, of geo-splitting John Rogers and Olympic Hills in order to open an attendance area school at Cedar Park. There have been no surveys sent to John Rogers or Olympic Hills parents regarding the potential usage of Cedar Park. Those HCC-related surveys sent to Cascadia parents were not sent to parents with kids at any of the attendance area schools in the Cedar Park area. There have been absolutely no community-wide discussions of the pros and cons of placing HCC or an option school at Cedar Park. Before anything is decided about Cedar Park, I would like to see more opportunities for input from families living in the area.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Very disappointed in the lack of leadership from Enrollment Management - Flip Herndon - we've known this was happening for years - you would think there would be three or four options on the table and clearly defined. That these would be clearly communicated so families would not have so much confusion and uncertainty. The public should Demand New Leadership at Seattle Public Schools. Someone more honest and responsive to families.
Nw Mom

Anonymous said...

I was there until the end and there were almost 300 people who were there for at least part of the meeting. Sign in sheets were done at the last minute and there were almost 200 sign ins.

The meeting reminded me a lot of the big 2008 meetings at Queen Anne and Roosevelt where 500 parents showed up over two nights to demand that SPS start re-opening schools, in the middle of the closures. Those meetings directly led to the opening of Queen Anne Elementary and Sandpoint Elementary in 2010.

I hope the district got the message that the graduating class of 2020 is enrolled in high school now. SPS has been focused on Lincoln opening in 2019, that little or no thought has been given to the simple fact that Lincoln could start graduating students as early as 2020. These students deserve to know how to plan their graduation pathways.

- QA parent

kellie said...

I know that Mel will start a separate thread on this, because the Lincoln meeting was a critical meeting.

Obviously there was little or no hard information to share with families, as the purpose of the meeting was to gather questions, not provide answers.

However, even the very limited information that was shared gave me some new concerns. I think there is a rather large disconnect between the current SDAT that is focused exclusively on the physical features of the building and the students who are most likely to be placed at the building.

The planned capacity is 1600. However, I strongly suspect that the capacity will be much closer to 1300 or 1400. Science labs are the gating factor for capacity at high school. Core 24 increases the demand for "lab" based science classes and I don't think they have planned enough science labs.

Additionally to reach the 1600 capacity target, the plan is to convert the large gym into 13 classrooms. This is deeply problematic as that leaves only the small gym. As Lincoln will not have fields or nearby access to a pool, I have no clue how one gym will be sufficient for the PE requirement, let alone be a place to support any high school athletics.

Lynn said...

Here's a link to some relevant information on costs: OSPI Staffing and Salary Data 2014-15. You'll need to use excel to see district level info.

The state allocates FTE funding by position but districts choose how to spend the money.

Some highlights:
State funded positions vs actual SPS hiring

65 librarians - SPS hired 58
99 counselors - SPS hired 80
13 health & social services - SPS hired 49
89 teaching assistance positions - SPS hired 18
201 custodians - SPS hired 260
144 principals - SPS hired 180
10 student and staff security - SPS hired 1
127 Learning Assistance Program FTE - SPS hired 63
78 Transitional Bilingual Instruction - SPS hired 237
7 Highly Capable - SPS hired less than 2

The state allocated $110,211,785 for classroom teacher salaries. SPS spent $147,952,735. The state allocated $8,637,087 for principal salaries. SPS spent $20,507,293.

My thoughts:

We could save almost $9M by limiting the principal salary subsidy paid out of local funds to the same percentage of state funding that we give our teachers. At the school level, we can look at Ballard High School. The state gave us $2,325,015 for 42 teachers at BHS and we spent $3,917,810 on 54 teachers. The state gave us $174,470 for 3 principals at BHS and we spent $468,962 on 4 principals.

SPS spent $1.1M of local funds on technology support salaries.

We spent just $3.7M of local funds on MSOC (maintenance, supplies and operating costs).

Our transitional bilingual instruction salaries exceed state funding by over $10M.




Anonymous said...

I e-mailed the SPS contact (Eric Becker) for the Eagle Staff project. He states that Eagle Staff is being built for 1000 students. 850 middle school students + 150 Licton Springs students.

N by NW

Anonymous said...

@Lynn,

"Our transitional bilingual instruction salaries exceed state funding by over $10M."

Does this mean that the State's data is not keeping up with the actual need? I know the immigrant population is growing in some areas of Seattle, like Lake City.

-North-end Mom

Lynn said...

In my opinion - yes. I can't imagine the district is hiring more bilingual instructional staff than we need.

Anonymous said...

That's what I was thinking, too. Under the WSS, it takes a lot of ELL students to qualify for a full-time ELL teacher at a school (70 students?). Since SPS is no longer allowed to have linked-schools for ELL, and presumably ELL is becoming more spread out, there are probably more ELL instructional staff needed, including part-time teachers and instructional aids. So, they found SPS in non-compliance for ELL delivery, and SPS had to make changes to how ELL students are served, but the State is probably funding them based upon the need of the previous linked-school delivery model.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I have had an evening to think about it (and attend yet another meeting highlighting the lengths we all must go to to clean up a mess the district needn't have made in the first place- Lincoln planning could have started two years ago, solving a lot of problems in the room last night, but it didn't, and now we are here), and now I am really offended by that list. NOTHING on that list happens downtown. I don't even really like Montessori programs, but they is easily more valuable than every Executive director and strategic plan consultant combined. They don't "value" the programs that educate students, but they sure as heck seem to "value" keeping every last downtown staffer employed even in the face of a 10% budget cut. Gross.

I would rather more teachers and fewer principals even WITHOUT a budget crisis, so that seems like an extremely easy grab.

-sleeper

Lynn said...

I don't think state funding is based on service delivery models - it's just based on the number of ELL students in the district.

Anonymous said...

FYI - here is the most recent "executive" org chart, updated as of 10/10/2016

SPS Org Chart

reader47

Anonymous said...

@ kellie, I went back and looked at the Lincoln drawings, and it looks like there are 10 science labs. If you figure they can be used 6 periods a day with 30 kids per class, they should be able to serve 1800 students, in theory, right?

But I do have another question for you. Earlier you had said that if the district did a geosplit and pulled some students from their current high schools to Lincoln, they would probably do that for neighborhood schools but would be unlikely to pull students from "option" schools. Does that include "pathway" schools? For example, Garfield is currently the default HCC pathway school. If they make Lincoln the north-end HCC pathway school instead, would they pull students from Garfield? But GHS is the default, and choosing Ingraham IB/IBX is a choice, so you're thinking that in the former case they'd be vulnerable to a move but in the latter not? Is the same true with immersion, for which Ingraham is similarly a pathway that has to be specifically chosen?

If that's the key distinction--automatic assignment vs. active selection--what happens to HCC students who override the default assignment and opt for their neighborhood school? If they got in as an "option" student, are they allowed to stay? If not, why would it be any different than the IHS situation?

head a-spin

Anonymous said...

As we look at split vs no split considerations, it would be nice to know where and how much space is available in 2017-2018, but ALSO 2018-2019, and 2019-2020. If there is a better option for HCC in one, two or three years, it might be worth hunkering down to wait. If there will simply be no better options in the future than Decatur or Cedar Park, let's make a decision and move on a planning principal.

Think ahead

Anonymous said...

I don't think a stand-alone HCC at Decatur will last beyond a year or two unless it's restricted to grades 1-2. That area is simply too high in numbers of HCC. If the district had a small space for HCC grades 1-2 in the northwest to be a partner to Decatur, Cascadia could be used to keep HCC grades 3-5 intact.

If HCC is to land at Cedar Park, for the good reasons North End Mom has written about, I can see it being more Fairmont Park in style. I don't see it as rigidly HCC only because we would want to allow NNE families the ability to access it immediately.

AS

Anonymous said...

After last night's Lincoln meeting, I'd expect it to be a boon year for private school applications. I can't imagine being the parent of an 8th grader and trying to make an informed choice about high school.

decisions decisions

Anonymous said...

As a Cedar Park family I really hope the district considers placing a STEM option school at the site, and not bussing HCC in. Even if a few more of our kids test in, looking at the heat map it's obvious it's going to be dominated by View Ridge and Bryant kids. No disrepect, but if they have an unused building in their own neighborhood they could use, why don't they so Cedar Park can have a decent option school like every other part of the city? We finally get a new building for our growing neighborhood and it just goes to kids being bussed from another part of town?

trebleclef

Lynn said...

Fairmount Park's advanced learning program began as essentially self-contained blended HCC and Spectrum and is transitioning to self-contained HCC only - a program like this for NE families wouldn't take enough pressure off Cascadia to solve its capacity problem.

I don't think the distance to Lincoln from Lake City is the problem. Last year there were 64 HCC-qualified middle school students in the JAMS attendance area. When the program is available in the neighborhood school, it's likely that most eligible students have been identified.

Here's what I think would help - making room at the schools that send the highest numbers of students to Cascadia and requiring the schools to provide services (designed by the advanced learning office) to their highly capable students. Families should be allowed to choose between remaining in these neighborhood schools and enrolling in Cascadia. This wouldn't pull many students out of Cascadia but it would reduce enrollment over time. Many people would prefer to receive services within their neighborhood school - and trying out those services for a year before deciding to move to another building is low risk for most.

Those schools are Bryant (87 students last year), View Ridge 64, Green Lake 45, John Hay 44, Wedgwood 42, BF Day 36, Blaine 32, Loyal Heights 32.

In all, there were 106 students from Queen Anne and Magnolia at Cascadia last year. By the time they get to middle school there are about 50 HCC students per grade in the region. When the Magnolia school reopens (in a few years?) It would be an ideal location to cohouse self-contained HCC classrooms and general education students.

Anonymous said...

What if Decatur is the interim site for a NE HCC school until John Marshall can be used? I'm sure the District would love to sit an imagine all those HCC kids sitting under the freeway sucking in gas fumes....

Think ahead

NEP said...

Lynn, would the services be guaranteed? Half the battle at some of the schools you listed is fighting against the perception that an HC label isn't worth the paper it's written on. The limited differentiation at our school (which has always been worksheets-based ALO) is very biased toward old-for-grade boys, and a designation of HC is met with thinly-veiled derision.



Anonymous said...

Lynn

Brilliant idea, but the only school on your list with room is BF Day (and Loyal Hts, when they get their new building).

The new building at the Decatur site was originally supposed to be a new neighborhood school, with boundaries re-drawn to ease enrollment at View Ridge, Wedgwood, and Bryant, but that new building went to Thornton Creek. How/where do you suggest that SPS "find room" for HCC students at those schools?

-reality check

Lynn said...

trebleclef,

Hazel Wolf is in your region. Denny has no option school while Hamilton and Madison have two. The rest have just one. The next two option schools should be placed in the Denny and Washington regions.

Lynn said...

NEP - Yes. I think the executive director for the region should be tasked with ensuring services (as designed by the AL office) are provided.

reality check - I did note that room would need to be made at these schools. Boundaries were drawn for the growth boundaries process assuming that these schools would continue to send many students to Cascadia. If we're moving boundaries around, this is the time to make room for them to stay.

Anonymous said...

The geozone for Hazel Wolf stops at Lake City. The attendance area school is a bad idea, but our growing and diverse community needs this building. An option school for our neighborhood is the only equitable solution.

trebleclef

Lynn said...

Many neighborhoods are outside of option school geo-zones. Lake City is included in Hazel Wolf's transportation area.

Lynn said...

How about an attendance area language immersion school with an option to attend Olympic Hills for families that prefer English-only instruction?

Anonymous said...

Lynn,

While residents of the JAMS MS attendance area (including Lake City) do receive transportation to Hazel Wolf, the geo-zone for Hazel Wolf does not cover any of the current John Rogers or Olympic Hills attendance areas. Portions of the Olympic View and Sacajawea attendance areas fall into the Hazel Wolf geo-zone. It is nearly impossible to get into Hazel Wolf these days, unless you live in the geo-zone or have a sibling at the school.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I live in the NE, and agree that Cedar Park is really in a dead space outside both Thornton Creek and Hazel Wolf. I agree that Washington and Denny need option schools, but in Cedar Park we have a small building opening now in an option school desert. A good opportunity. I have also heard from affected families and school staff that an option school is what they want, and an option school is best suited to the site. This seems fairly straightforward. Are option schools more expensive to run? I feel like we already have enough STEM focused schools and wonder what about the arts, but if this is what families want it is at least worth a listen.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Language-immersion wouldn't be a bad choice for Cedar Park, because there is the potential to attract native speakers, but LI schools cost a lot to operate, and I doubt it would be possible for the PTA of Cedar Park to fund hundreds of thousands of dollars towards IAs. Also, SPS would need to provide a pathway to middle school, so there would have to be a lot of planning involved.

Montessori or an expeditionary learning model (like Thornton Creek's) might be options to consider?

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I know! Move Thornton Creek to Cedar Park!

Pot stirring

Anonymous said...

I attended the Lincoln meeting and have a few questions as I ponder the question of what Lincoln could be that would be a draw to families wanting their kids to go there.
1) I don't understand - what is it about Garfield that makes it the north end's HCC high school? Is it the number of AP classes it offers or something more? Doesn't Roosevelt have almost as many AP classes? Is Garfield at risk of overcrowding soon, so there's a capacity need to create Lincoln as the HCC pathway instead? I'm sure that'd make a lot of people unhappy as Garfield is so good and Lincoln, well, who knows. I just don't understand what more Garfield is than AP classes, which Roosevelt and Ballard also provide.

2) Is Ingrahm's IB program hard to get into, or open to any student who wants it? Are the McDonald and JSIS students any more eligible for Ingrahm's IB programs than other students? Do they get preference or an automatic "in" over others who weren't in language immersion in elementary school? I am aware that "international" label at Hamilton is pretty meaningless, I'm just trying to understand the pathway as currently stands. Is there any preferential acceptance?

Sorting it Out

Green Lake Parent said...

Speaking of option schools...

Has anyone seen a map with a geozone for Licton Spring K-8 starting in 2017-2018? (It looks to me like SPS staff forgot to create one... Ooops!)

Also, does anyone know how enrollment caps for option schools are determined, or what the caps are for each of the option schools? I can't find any documentation on this. Is there a set number for each school? Or do the Principals coordinate with Enrollment Planning and make a determination each year on how many to take per grade from open enrollment, controling for class size? Just wondering how this works.

-Green Lake Parent

Anonymous said...

@ Sorting it Out,

Access to AP classes is one big factor. Garfield offers a wider range of AP courses than the other schools. Ballard and Roosevelt are catching up, but I think Garfield still has the most.

Another big factor is the number of HC students--the "cohort." HC students are often out of sync with their peers in many ways-they are cognitive misfits. Consolidating them at one school allows HC students the opportunity to have plenty of other HC students in their classes, which is often key to their social/mental well-being. While other high schools have HC students, the numbers are much smaller, and thus the likelihood of having others in your classes is much smaller. HC services are about the socio-emotional needs of gifted kids as much as they are the academics.

Splitting things up and having a north-end HCC pathway HS and a south-end HCC pathway HS would still probably provide sufficiently sized cohorts for those who need them. Eliminating HCC pathways altogether and sending all kids to their neighborhood school would not.

pro-HCC

Anonymous said...

Watching and waiting for the amendments. Does anyone know what time they would post the latest board recommendations? Supposedly there will be recommendations on whether or not Cascadia should split, and if so--where to send the split off students. I want to see their thoughts on how to handle this situation.

What is the typical time for such announcements to be posted?

Waiting wondering

Green Lake Parent said...

On the SPS website, in the section about Public Testimony at Board meetings, it says: "The Board agenda is posted by close of business the Friday before Board meetings." So, I expect that by this evening the agenda will be posted and it may include amendments that the Board is proposing. That said, when I was at Director Geary's community meeting last Sunday it was clear there was still a lot of work to be done, and it was mentioned that Board members can propose amendments all the way up to during the meeting itself. So, I'm really hoping we will see some amendments today and have a sense of what is being proposed, but guessing that even if we do there could still be more to come.

-Green Lake Parent

Anonymous said...

Amendments have been posted (School Board webpage, agenda for 11/02 meeting).

-North-end Mom

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