Wednesday, May 03, 2017

News Around Seattle Schools

Update: families from Stevens Elementary are planning to show up at the Board meeting in force to ask the district to release the waitlist on their school. They are underenrolled so they can accommodate new students (some of whom already have sibs there) and not lose a teacher because of...underenrollment.

end of updat

USA Today is reporting that Nathan Hale basketball coach, Nathan Roy, was shot in the leg while standing on the porch of his grandmother's house in L.A.  From KING-5:
He was shot while at an outdoor gathering in the Los Angeles area. Roy was reportedly an innocent bystander in what may be a gang related shooting.
There are still spots on the speakers list for the Board meeting tonight if you are so inclined and have an issue you'd like to raise to the Board. Most of the speakers appear to want to comment on waitlists. Also to note, the Board is scheduled to have an Executive Session right after the meeting. Initially it was about Complaints against a Public Employee, and to Evaluate the Performance of a Public Employee.  The session has since been expanded to include Potential Litigation.  

On Thursday morning, there will be an Executive Committee meeting.  Here's the agenda.  I see a number of interesting items.

1) Discussion with a labor partner: Local 609.  This is the union that represents custodians, kitchen staff, maintenance workers and others.  This is notable because it's not that often that you see open discussion with union reps. But I see from the minutes for last month's meeting that Director Harris made the suggestion to invite labor partners to the meetings to create better relationships.

2) Also on the agenda is the school calendar for next year.  You can see a draft of the complete calendar on page 10 of the agenda.  This is to be introduced at the May 17th Board meeting with approval at the June 7th meeting.

3) Executive Committee meetings are where you can preview agendas for the next two School Board meetings.  Of interest for the May 17th meeting is the acceptance of grants from two PTAs for playground improvements at Madrona and Highland Park.  A big thanks to those two schools' PTAs and other groups that helped with those projects.

There is also a notation about "modernizing" Lincoln for its reopening.  There is no documentation attached but it will be something to monitor to see exactly what updates will be happening there.

There is also an Introduction item for Ethnic Studies. It is unclear whether this means something aspirational or an actual move to create a curriculum and put it in schools.

This meeting also has the Introduction of the grants from the City to fund crossing guards and the two-tier bus system.  

Also at the Executive Committee meeting is the preliminary agenda for the next Board retreat on June 3rd.  (See page 19 of the agenda.)  There are several ideas on racial equity training that include:

Options include:

- Identity Safety Training (similar to April presentation to principals)
Kyle Kinoshita on stereotype threat, Since Time Immemorial curriculum review, Dr. Stephanie Fryberg from UW 


- Increasing equity in HCC, with potential guest speaker Austina De Bonte from NW Gifted Child Association 


- Review of programs that move the needle on equity 



Also in the agenda packet for the Executive Committee meeting is a memo about staff wanting to change the scheduling for committee meetings (see page 20).  The issue?

The current rhythm of the Board meeting calendar does not lead to the most efficient flow of action items through the Board, because the meeting order for a month varies depending on length of the month, the day of the week the month starts on, and holiday breaks. In some cases, staff have to wait 5-6 weeks for items to make it from committee to Board action; at other times, it can be as short as 3 weeks. This inconsistency causes trouble for staff in planning, varying levels of review time for the Board, and slows down the flow of Board business. Staff have been exploring alternative options for the meeting structure and rhythm of Board meetings for the 2017-18 school year.

22 comments:

RPM said...

Thanks for posting the full draft calendar, Melissa.

So, do I have this right? We are adding 20 minutes to the school day 5 days a week for a total of 100 minutes. However, there is a weekly 75 minute early release? I though it was one hour. That's a NET addition of 25 minutes a week.

Couldn't we create more reasonable schedules by adding just 5 minutes to the day 5 days a week and skip the early release? For example, high school could then be 8:55-3:30 and elementary could be 8am-2:15. Doesn't that give plenty of time before high school and after elementary for teachers to meet? Or, since I'm hearing from many friends that child care is a huge issue with the older kid getting out so much later than the younger kid, they could do something like 8:25am-3pm for high school and 9:25-3:40 for elementary.

On another note, I think the comments saying anyone who doesn't like the 3:50pm dismissal is just complaining and no schedule will suit everyone is not helpful. While it is true that no schedule will please everyone, I think it is reasonable to be shocked by the 3:50pm dismissal for high school when the stakes are high, the extra-curricular schedules are less flexible and the vast majority of us had no idea this was on the table when we were advocating for late starts and two tiers.

I also don't think it's fair to say you must support 9-3:50 or you are against late starts and two tiers. I don't have a high schooler, but I was shocked to hear kids are missing 6th period several times a year with this year's schedule and next year, if things don't change, they will miss 5th and 6th periods.

You mentioned you were going to find out why SPS hasn't announced 2 tiers and the 9-3:50 schedule yet. I'm looking forward to reading that! Are they taking feedback? Again, feedback against 3:50 is NOT necessarily feedback against late start and two tiers.

Anonymous said...

@RPM, yes, 25 extra minutes for week. We still haven't seen anything about how that's going to help, either. Will high schools add 3-4 minutes to each period, and will that really benefit instruction? Or will they extend lunch or study hall or similar periods instead, to avoid messing up bell schedules? And thinking about the net effect, if you have 6 classes that's a total of about an extra FOUR minutes per WEEK in each one. Not likely to have a big impact, if you ask me.

What did you mean by your comment that "the vast majority of us had no idea this was on the table when we were advocating for late starts and two tiers"? That WHAT was on the table--the extra 20 minutes per day? There WERE several of us advocating to consider the late start and the longer days together, but those leading the charge on late starts ignored that advice. They saw their opening and went for it, knowing full well that it would create additional challenges the following year. I don't fault them seeing their opening and taking it, but I still think it was a little irresponsible and misleading to dismiss the 20-minute longer day issue when we knew it was coming.

intertwined

Anonymous said...

RPM - Well said!

NE Mom of 3

RPM said...

Hi intertwined,

The 3:50pm dismissal caught many of us off guard. I knew about the 20 minutes and weekly early release. I just had no idea they'd set high school up to release at 3:50pm when there's so much riding on those 4 years.

I agree that SPS should have waited a year to swap the bell times while figuring out the extra 20 minutes/day so we could all provide feedback. Not like they would have listened, but now it's pitting people against each other who are probably on the same page!

Anonymous said...

There WERE several of us advocating to consider the late start and the longer days together, but those leading the charge on late starts ignored that advice.

Yep. And human nature being what it is, the vocal pro-sleep advocates will hold fast to their "victory," despite the real issues with a 3:50 release for MS/HS.

Two tiers good. 3:50 release bad. One step forward. Two steps back.

-flip back

Anonymous said...

Does the SPS District have a policy on cell phone use in schools? Is it up to the individual schools? Does anyone know if their school has one and if so, what is it?

-SE Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

FlipBack, there's nothing stopping you or any other parents from being "vocal." Get on that if you are that upset. It's not like the "pro-sleep" folks are a small number or didn't work for years to get to this point.

SE Mom, no, SPS has no policy on cell phone use. It's probably school to school and, in middle/high school, probably teacher to teacher.

Anonymous said...

RPM - Great points and well said.

Athletes routinely leave school between 1:30 -2:00 pm to get to games as is - I shudder to think what next year will bring. Late start aligns with adolescent sleep schedules and is a good idea, but a two tier release that puts high schoolers out at 3:50 pm is a poor decision.

NP

Anonymous said...

Does two-tier release refer to district-wide release times for primary vs. secondary schools, or just secondary ?

As newbies to Seattle schools (coming fall) the later start times are firmly in our PRO column. A 3:50 end time seems perfectly reasonable, unless I'm missing something obvious only to Seattleites. Our current standard school day runs 7:50-3:35 but with sports or electives schedules routinely start as early as 6am and finish at 5:30pm. For those advocating for the later start, wasn't there an assumption for a corresponding later finish?

Release at 1:30-2pm for sports seems crazy early.

FNH

Anonymous said...

Last year, the school day for MS/HS was 7:50-2:20; this year it's 8:45-3:15; and next year it will be 9:00-3:50. There are currently elementary schools on a 9:30-3:40 schedule, but with a change to 2 Tiers, elementary schools will be at Tier 1 (starting at 8:00 next year).

You will learn the one constant in SPS is change.

-brace yourself

Anonymous said...

I agree with RPM's statements above. I did realize that both moving the start times and adding the extra 20 minutes per day would get my middle and high school students out at 3:50, and wrote many letters opposing the late release. I also have been made to feel like I'm complaining, but it is absolutely true, that wanting your older children to start at a healthy, reasonable time, like 8:45, does not mean you support the extra addition of time to the day. It seems like both changes shouldn't need to happen at the same time. Moving to 9 - 3:30 is better.

This affects MANY kids and not just public school athletes. Many musicians who participate in after school jazz and marching band programs, drama, dance teams, volunteer groups, kids who need tutors, who help watch younger siblings and those who take long bus city bus rides will be affected. My own child will be starting an after school job next fall. I realize it's hard to get elementary kids out of bed to start school early, but many of us are thinking about college in the near future where our kids grades, extracurricular activities, jobs and yes, sports, are a pretty big deal. I wish there could be some compromise.

3 in MS/HS

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will have an update thread but I will -again - gently point out that the district cannot afford to bring in so many multiple issues when their main job is academic outcomes.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I understand the frustration of tier 3 (I have a child with a 9:40 - 3:45 pm bell schedule this year), but repetitively using the term "snowflake" is not going to help your argument at all. Every bell time has it's huge disadvantages and I don't think parents are protesting the 9 am start, but rather the 3:50 release. I don't think it's due to their inconvenience, but due to high school specific issues. Kids in high school having huge academic workloads, high demands from extra curriculars, AP testing, SAT prep, job experience or to earn spending money, driving school, and a way more competitive environment to get into college. Parents (not just parents of athletes) are concerned that a 3:50 release will not leave enough time to do all that is demanded from them or do it in a quality that will allow them to excel because they are up until 2:00 or 3:00 am trying to get it all done.

None of these parents are advocating for other tiers to release at 4:05 or start at 7:45 am. They have legitimate concerns about their stressed out teens trying to get it all done and now looking at even less time (35 minutes less) to get it done. They are looking out for their kids just as "Come On" is looking out for theirs.

Can't we all work together? This is what is wrong with politics and it is sad to see parents act in the same manner.

Parent for Peace

Anonymous said...

So..... 3:50 is too much for my kid, but 4:05 is fine for your kid. Suck it up!!

Come on!!!

Lynn said...

High school parents should be complaining loudly about the longer school day - that's what's causing this problem.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RPM said...

Melissa, yes, I agree the SPS mission is academic outcomes, but our kids won't be competitive in the work force or college without being well-rounded human beings.

We have studies showing starting at 8:30 is better for high school kids, but are there any studies about how well kids learn at 3:30pm? I mean, many of us slump in the afternoon at work. So, while we can show a later start leads to better outcomes, can we show that such a late dismissal time does NOT negatively impact academic outcomes? How would kids do in, say, AP history if it was scheduled from 3-3:50PM? I wouldn't do well!

I hope people will stop responding to snowflake. I was happy to finally have a reasonable discussion about this so we aren't advocating for/against something without understanding all sides. Like I said above, I was strongly advocating for later start for high school (even though I only had elementary kids), but I didn't understand an outcome of that advocacy would be a 3:50pm dismissal for my kids when they get to high school.

Anonymous said...

SE Mom - yes, some schools have specific cell phone policies. Our middle school principal just initiated a cell phone ban during the day, which I heartily support. Students may access their phones before and after school; during the day all cell phones must remain in student lockers.

PS Supporter

Anonymous said...

I was strongly advocating for later start for high school (even though I only had elementary kids), but I didn't understand an outcome of that advocacy would be a 3:50pm dismissal for my kids when they get to high school.

I fault the district for moving forward with the flip fully knowing more changes were on the way, and then not weighing the full impacts of a later start for HS, or a very early start for ES.

Those who didn't support the flip are doubly frustrated by an even later schedule for next year, because they know their kids aren't getting more sleep. Those who pushed for the flip will stick to their story of "teens need more sleep." Who liked Tier 3? Anyone? It is a result of a bad choice made years ago. And now those who suffered through it will be essentially stuck with it through high school, because the newly proposed schedule changes put MS/HS closer to Tier 3.

-who's happy?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reminder to readers; we do NOT name call here and we NEVER allow any kind of it to be directed at children. Your comment will be deleted each and every time you do it.

Anonymous said...

Brandon Roy coaches at Nathan Hale played at UW and was NBA rookie of year for Portland Trailblazers. Super player fun to watch and retired at age 28 with bad knees.

-- Dan Dempsey