Saturday, October 29, 2016

Lincoln High Reopening Meeting

Kudos to Director Burke for attempting to take on the issue of the reopening of Lincoln High School in 2019.  The estimate of how many parents packed the library was about 300 people.  Staff included Flip Herndon, Michael Tolley as well as Hale principal Jill Hudson (who is on the 24-credit committee as well as being the planning principal for Lincoln.)  She was the only staff member to speak.

Burke outlined the goals of the meeting:


- share work to date and locations for more info
- capture ideas, concerns, questions from the community
- begin the process to build a robust Lincoln High School community

He said this was not the end, but the beginning of this process.

He introduced one of the architects from Bassetti which is handling the remodel, Michael Davis.  (One issue that I did not hear Mr. Davis state nor was I able to ask about is whether $80M is buying a remodel or renovation.  The difference being - to me - remodel is just updating but a renovation would mean gutting the entire interior of some spaces and leaving the brick facade.  The drawing appears to look like that but I don't know.  I also don't know if Lincoln has some historic status and I don't know how much seismic work has been done.  Brick buildings are particularly prone to earthquake issues.)

Mr. Davis said the building was been redone to a capacity of 1600.  That may be an aspirational goal because he then went on to talk about how many rooms are elementary-sized and need to be enlarged for high school kids.  So that does not mean more rooms, it means enlarged rooms.  Kellie LaRue suspects that they will be lucky to be able to have 1200 students in the building.

Additionally, this is a building on just  6.7 acres which is not even standard-sized per district ed specs.  There is no room for any kind of athletic field and that means that the district will now have  a middle school AND high school nearly next door to each other and neither has a field.

Davis went thru the history of the building, staring in 1907 when it was opened as the second high school in the district.  It had additional buildings added and then closed in 1981 but then was used as an interim site for high schools whose buildings were being rebuilt - Ballard, Garfield and Roosevelt.

The current building has multiple entry sites and, for safety/security, there should be just a couple of main ones.  There will be 2D/3D art labs and "academic neighborhoods" in the building.  They will keep the gym, adding a weight room.  They will also keep the auditorium, music and health spaces.  He pointed out that they will take out the current "lame" ceilings and go with the old ones which are more in character with the building.

It seems clear that getting the building ready for a new student population is well within reach of the timetable.  What is much less clear is what this school experience will be for those students.

Then Director Burke attempted to get us in to table groups to discuss various topics around reopening Lincoln but, as one person called out, "You lost that ability about 50 people ago" alluding to the standing room only crowd.  As well, people wanted to ask questions/make comments and hear answers as a group.

There were really a couple of overriding themes to the discussion.

1) Parents want to know - soon, like in six months to a year - what the boundaries are.  As one parent said, "We want to invested in this school but we need to know if we are going to this school."

2) Parents want to know if this will be a roll-up - meaning, starting with 9th and 10th graders and then adding a grade per year for the next two years - OR a geo-split, meaning starting the school as 9-12 and students start at one high school and will then move to Lincoln.   Burke said the roll-up is more expensive for the district to do (to which one parent called out, "We don't care.")

This weighs very heavily on parents' because of their child's involvement in programs and/or sports as well as friendships.

3) What, if anything, will be the focus of the school?  What I found interesting is that parents did not seem to care.  What seems to matter is that the school have solid, solid academics for all students.  Good offerings in AP courses but also in electives.

Burke said he would be advocating for the boundary changes to come no later than November of 2017.
Questions/Comments
What is the timeline for boundaries?
Burke - He said it would be by 2018 but many thought that way too late.

What about IB?
It was pointed out that it takes a number of years to get to accreditation for IB.

Also, a few people expressed interest in STEM/STEAM but again, that is a big organizational lift.

Comment - JAMS opened and year one its operating budget got cut and it continued from there.  There should be a four-year commitment to a decent budget for this new school that is sacrosanct.

Comment from a community member - Concern over sewer issues and earthquake retrofittting as well as parking.

Comment: A woman said that the area is considered an urban village and there are upzones for townhomes without parking.  She said they should be considering who will be living in the area over the next several years, not just the population now.

Comment - If Lincoln is to be an international school, will local kids still get in.

Comment - Wondering out loud if McDonald and JSIS were included in the enrollment estimates.

Comment - A parent with a child at Garfield who has been to five schools and is now on an AP track.  She is worried there will not be enough science classes at Lincoln.

Comment - The girls' locker room at Lincoln is much smaller than the boys' locker room.

Comment - STEAM would be better than IB.  IB at Ingraham is an example of the haves and have nots.

Comment by Principal Hudson - She said that there is already one high school graduating students with 24 credits (I assume she means her own school, Hale) and it can be done.  She said, "I would not worry about the 24-credit options." She said it was an opportunity for "great things."

I would note that the district is struggling to find teachers for foreign languages.  Between finding the teachers and finding the space for these classes, I would worry less if she only worried more.

As well, Kellie LaRue made a very important point.  The standard planning time for a high school is two years.  High school is not homeroom-based (like elementary) nor is it grade-level based (as is middle school.)  It is master schedule-based and that will be key to getting the 24-credits that every single high school student will need to graduate.

Comment - One parent said that the "Green Lake Triangle" students can moved around frequently with boundary changes.

? Are Queen Anne/Magnolia students coming here?
It's likely that some of them will.

Comment from me at the meeting - Good news, medium news and bad news.  The good news is that the district is NOT opening a "new" high school; they are reopening a high school that existed for decades and, to this day, has a dedicated alum group that will support these students.

The medium news is that the Mayor and the Superintendent are meeting on planning for a high school at Memorial Stadium.  Now that is years off and under BEX V but, in about a decade or less, there will be another high school so students who are from Magnolia and Queen Anne will then go to that high school.

The bad news - which Director Burke did mention at the top of the meeting - is this worry over the budget for next year.  Some of us believe the district is using the McCleary issue as the subject line for "never waste a good crisis" to put forth what they want to see happen with various programs.  It's certainly not all crying wolf, though, and that means an impact for all schools.  So will that be fewer planning dollars for Lincoln?  Hard to say but it needs to be out on the radar.

? There is no sports field here, "What are you thinking for athletics?"
Burke said that was an issue.  He said that Lower Woodland, while not adjacent, is a possibility.  This caused a murmur thru the crowd because many parents know that Lower Woodland is in constant use and if the City grants usage to Lincoln, that's less time for other groups.

Someone did ask if there could be more sports fields added to Lower Woodland but no one seemed to know the answer to that.

?- Why not use Interbay for a new high school site?
Burke said that it probably was not a viable option.

I'll interject here that I believe it was a real mistake to not put a new high school in at Wilson Pacific.  The space would have been enough for an athletic field.  It is slightly more distance from Roosevelt to Lincoln (about 2.5 miles) than Roosevelt to Wilson-Pacific (2.2 miles).  Both are centrally located and both near major transportation arteries.

? - One parent asked what would be "an enticement" to get people to come to Lincoln? 
Burke said it may be trying to find "the least worst."

? Who is responsible for the timeline for this process?
Burke seemed stumped on this point and said he would have to look at the policy.  I would find it difficult to believe that the Board could not have some sway on this issue.

Comment - This parent said she would be worried for juniors and seniors and said in New Jersey when this happened, kids could be bused to a nearby high school for some classes or athletics.

Again, that's certainly a possibility but the district would probably not like spending the money. 

25 comments:

kellie said...

My capacity concerns are based on the conversion of the large gym to 13 home rooms. This conversion is being done to push up the general capacity number for Lincoln.

However, I not confident about this plan. The campus does not have fields nor access to a nearby pool. As such all PE requirements and any high school athletics will need access to the gym.

I have no idea how Lincoln could possibly offer a comprehensive experience for 1600 with this type of fundamental compromise. It seems like a better plan to keep the gym and just lower the capacity. With the 500 seat addition planned for Ingraham also for 2019, this may make more sense to make Lincoln a smaller school with more core capacity for music and athletics.

kellie said...

This once again highlights how desperately the process for boundaries needs to be accelerated. The SDAT for Lincoln is functioning in a far too sterile environment. Without a known constituency, it is impossible to know what is the better option. More gym space or more home rooms? If they add the max number of home rooms, then you have passed along a known problem. (Not enough PE and athletic space)

Additionally, as students are most likely to be relocated from nearby Ballard and Roosevelt, you would expect there might be a need to replicate the some of the features from those schools, biotech and performing arts. I did not notice if there any plans to upgrade or update the performance spaces.

Anonymous said...

As mentioned in an earlier thread, there does not seem to be a plan for a major rebuild of the performance space. From the plans presented at last week's meeting, it seems as though they are purposely detaching the auditorium from all other structures on the site. While removing the covered walkways allows for an improved courtyard space, I think it would keep the auditorium structure from being brought up to code during the renovation/permitting process of the other buildings, perhaps intentionally as a cost saving measure.

-parent

Anonymous said...

Kellie,
Take a look again at the plans. If I am reading them correctly, there will be two practice gyms and a competition gym in the stand-alone building to the east of the commons. The gym(s) they are converting to classrooms are actually two small gyms that were below where we were sitting in the library. It doesn't solve the athletic fields issue but there will be plenty of gym space.
QA Parent

NESeattleMom said...

Do you know if there has been any work done at Lincoln in the performance space? If not, it really needs it. The ventilation system smelled moldy and the carpet in the lobby is horrible. The bathrooms there look like they are from 1973. So, it will be needed if it hasn't been done. The space itself is nice.

Anonymous said...

I often hear rumors that QA students will attend Lincoln. My daughter will enter high school in 2020. All we really want is a normal high school. We REALLY don't want the school to have unusual options or a focus that is going to distract/pressure the staff to be "innovative." I've learned in this district that innovative means, "Let's do things differently, but let's not give extra funding or any training to the staff, they can make it up as they go along." Starting a comprehensive high school is hard enough.
TS

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there is any way they could put the high school on the new eaglestaff site and put eaglestaff at lincoln eventually. The eaglestaff site looks like it could have plenty of room for a sports field and maybe even a new pool eventually if the houses on the south bordering street come up for sale in the future.
nwmom

northwest owler said...

nwmom, changing the Wilson Pacific site to house a high school was suggested over and over again before construction began by FACMAC, Kellie, and other people and groups outside of SPS. The main suggestion was to build a high school at WP, modify Lincoln to a middle school, and make Hamiliton to the north-end HCC school. SPS kept saying that they were too far along in the Eagle Staff planning process to change direction. So if they weren't willing to consider a change during the discussion period about the property before buildings appeared, they definitely won't change it now.

kellie said...

I am not expert of high school capacity, hence my concern about real world capacity vs theoretical capacity for Lincoln. There can easily be a big gap between the two. Garfield, Ballard and Roosevelt had multiple changes after they were re-built to handle extra capacity. It would be nice to learn from this history.

Additionally, there was a parent who commented that when Ballard, Garfield and Roosevelt were temporarily in Lincoln while their schools were being rebuilt, that those schools could only handle 1200.

There was a tremendous amount of institutional memory amongst the parents in the room. The current SDAT is working a vacuum with no constituents so they are not getting access to all of these details.

I wish there had been some sample master schedules to correspond with the floor plan designs. I would also have liked to have seen some building comps. SPS has a very nice capacity document that compares all of the elementary schools. It would nice to have a similar document for the high schools.

This would have basic building information for the high schools - homerooms, science rooms, gyms, auditoriums, lunchrooms, band rooms, orchestra, performance space, etc. That would be a simple way to give people a sense of how lincoln would "feel" as compared to the schools from which the students will be geosplit.

QA mom mentioned 2 practice gyms and a competition gym. The schools I am familiar with, have about that much, plus the fields. So I can't get a sense of how this will work.





kellie said...

FACMAC had recommended using WP as a high school and as a way to save money because you would need to spend less on renovating Lincoln you would not have needed to build Cascadia. It seemed like it would be cost neutral because you could have used the budget for Wilson Pacific and Cascadia to build a very nice modern high school with fields, etc, that could have handled 2,000 students as a magnet school. However, staff said that plan was going to cost an extra $30M and that killed the plan.

However, it turns out that another $60M was added to BTA in order to pay for Lincoln. So the plan that would have solved capacity years sooner, and better optimized properties, would have saved $30M but ... that ship has sailed.


kellie said...

I think the fundamental disconnect about Lincoln is the groups that are focusing on opening the doors and the physical building vs the groups that are focusing on what happens inside the building.

The district is focusing their resources on getting the doors open in Sept 2019, and I have confidence this will happen. However, parents are concerned about the graduating class of 2020 and beyond.

The work that needs to done to create a graduating class is much more complex that the physical plan work. Constituents need to be identified and the constituents are the intersection of the boundaries, assignment pathways (HCC and Language Immersion) and geo-splits.

Until the boundary work starts, everything is guess work. Once there are boundaries, then you can pull the schedules of the students currently attending high school without those boundaries and you will have a very good sample set of the courses that will be essential.

Does anyone know if there is a high school counselor or a person who actually builds master schedules for high school on the design team. That is critical knowledge.

Floor Pie said...

Are we pretty sure that Lincoln will be a high school for kids who live in the neighborhood, or will it be a special school like Nova or some such where everyone opts in?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Floor Pie, no, it will be a comprehensive high school and not an option school. However, if they choose to make it an HCC pathway, that might impact who gets in.

And as for that "we'll rent an apartment so we can stay at school X" trick, good luck. Because if anyone suspects you are doing that - a disgruntled neighbor whose kid had to move to a different school, for example - they can tell Enrollment and they will investigate it. If you are not living in the apartment, they will exit your student from the school. It would definitely be a gamble.

One thing that has always troubled me is that almost no Board member (save maybe Michael DeBell) really knew a lot about capital issues. Board members really defer to staff and it has not served the district well. No matter how hard community members, even those with expertise like Kellie, tell them, they end up with staff choices.

Frustrated said...

What is the logic behind not drawing boundaries until November 2017 and then will they just be preliminary boundaries? If so when would the permanent boundaries be announced?

Anonymous said...

Burke said the plan was to do the boundaries in 2018 and that he wanted to do them in 2017.

- kt

Anonymous said...

I'm Reposting from last Friday's open thread. If are interested in the topic there is quite a bit of info there...

I attended the meeting at Lincoln and had the following observations:

- Rick Burke did a great job of being flexible to the attendees and going with an open Q&A instead of the "divide and conquer" table format of usual SPS meetings. While this was much appreciated, there were some people toward the front who treated it as their own personal discussion with Rick. That was very frustrating to those who may have had different points of view. But overall, I'd take that open Q&A format any time over the table format.

- It would help ease anxiety and allow parents to plan if we knew the boundaries and decision for roll-up vs. GeoSplit in 2017 instead of 2018. It would also give a parent planning community time to group together and support the school, and create a Lincoln community based on existing alumni support. So if Rick can get this timeline acceleration done, that would be fantastic on many fronts.

- There was a lot of talk about making the school an attractive draw with HCC pathway, AP courses, IB, International Language, STEAM, etc. That was very confusing to me (And frustrating as these voices were drowning out others and the ones not waiting their turn, allowing others to talk). Lincoln will be a neighborhood high school, not an option school. You aren't going to be "drawing" kids in with some special program, they are going to be assigned there based on geography. So first and foremost, get those boundaries drawn and communicated. Then focus on making it a strong, comprehensive high school with courses for the "regular" high school student. Any focus can come after that.

-Funding - call your senators and legislators, people, all about McCleary. If the 250+ people in that room went down to Olympia with the same energy and focus and camped on their doorstep for funding they way they just advocated for Lincoln, it would make a statement.

- I did overhear several parents say something to the effect of "Oh well, if my kid gets drawn into a Lincoln geo-split and we don't like it, we can just rent an apt in XX neighborhood for a couple of years to keep our kid where they are". This will definitely happen for those that can afford it and don't see switching to private as an option.

- any rumors you may hear about which students will be drawn into Lincoln are just that, rumors. Nothing has been drawn yet, draft of otherwise. A few assumptions were made for enrollment projections but with how fast things are changing, I'm sure it's a moving target.

- As was mentioned above, By the time Lincoln opens, Ballard and Roosevelt are going to be so crowded and crazy, that getting into Lincoln may seem like a gift instead of a losing proposition.

Future Lincoln Parent

Emily M. Bender said...

I'm curious where the info that IB accreditation takes 5 years comes from. A quick web search suggests otherwise:

http://www.ibo.org/become-an-ib-school/timeline-and-stages/

Anonymous said...

I would discourage pushing for IB at Lincoln for other reasons, not just the accreditation process:

- Opening a new school and trying to provide continuity for existing students will be challenging enough. Adding on the logistics of IB would be insanity.

- Students moving from Roosevelt and Ballard should be able to access the AP classes currently offered at those schools.

- IB creates scheduling challenges. In order to work toward a diploma you need certain classes each year and not getting those classes means not getting the diploma. Scheduling will be difficult enough without the added constraints if IB. AP classes provide more flexibility.

- IB is not recognized by colleges in the same way as AP. You might take 5 AP classes and get college credit or placement for all, but you could take IB classes and maybe get credit for only 1 or 2. Many colleges only award credit or placement when a student has taken the 2 year IB HL course, as opposed to the 1 year AP course, plus the bar is sometimes higher for the expected IB exam grade vs the AP exam grade.

IBvsAP

Anonymous said...

The info about it taking 5 years to become an accreditated IB program comes from the IB director at Ingraham HS.

http://www.ibo.org/become-an-ib-school/how-to-become-an-ib-school/
From official IB link above (IB is an international accreditation): "The authorization process varies by school and IB programme, but typically takes between two and three years."

Step one includes teacher professional development. Lincoln HS has no principal. No teachers. No leaders to shepherd this process. And not likely to have any actual person attached to the building until 2018. Hence, no way Lincoln can open as an IB school. Note: Every SPS high school designated as "international" offers IB.



Concerned Hamilton and Cascadia mom

Anonymous said...

Franklin is an international pathway high school. It is not an IB school.
BL

Anonymous said...

I'll also throw out there the added complications of the new Core24 requirements and how those may create challenges for IB programs, depending on how addressed. For example, the district's 24-credit task force recommended a 3x5 schedule (3 trimesters of 5 classes each) as its preferred strategy for ensuring that students can earn enough credits to graduate. While the 3x5 approach seems problematic on many, many levels, it's perhaps MOST problematic for IB programs, which have set classes that need to happen over certain time periods. If we end up with the ill-conceived 3x5 plan as recommended, it's hard to see how an IB program could work unless it were a standalone program on a separate schedule.

no 3x5

Anonymous said...

@ BL, so what does that mean, exactly? The district's international schools webpage is filled with a bunch of words that don't actually say anything, so it's hard to see the benefits of that "international" designation. What's different about it?

kitty

Lynn said...

Franklin is not an International School. The high school pathway in the southeast has not been determined.

Anonymous said...

Also, IB program costs more money than AP. You need a coordinator etc. Hard enough to maintain funding for the IB programs that currently exist.
-another parent

Anonymous said...

I apologize. I thought that the district had decided on pathways through high school for all of the elementary language immersion programs, and that Franklin was the pathway high school for Beacon Hill/Mercer.
BL