Monday, March 19, 2018

Memorial Stadium: What Part of "Memorial" Does the District Not Get?

A story in the Times caught my eye about a young man earning his Eagle Scout recognition, Peter Gockowski, who wanted to clean up the wall of honor at Memorial Stadium.
Gockowski learned the stadium was built in 1947 to honor Seattle high-school student alumni who died in World War II, and he saw their names on a memorial wall outside. Nearly 800 people are listed.

Noticing that the wall was partly obscured by trash-strewn, overgrown hedges, the would-be Eagle Scout obtained permission from Seattle Public Schools for a cleanup.

He and a half-dozen other Boy Scouts made good on the plan Saturday, removing seven bags of garbage, including beer bottles and pizza boxes, he said, and trimming the hedges to better exhibit the service members’ names.
PictureI recall, maybe a decade ago, when the district was shamed in this manner for not keeping that area clear and presentable.  The district PROMISED to keep it clear.

These are SPS students who fought and died in WWI.  Apparently, that means nothing to some in district leadership. 

And district officials, including Board members and staff, were recently there to sign an MOU and didn't notice the conditions?  


From the PI on the history of the stadium (partial):

1948: President Harry Truman speaks at Memorial Stadium, which also was the site of the first local television broadcast — a tie football game between West Seattle and Wenatchee.

1951: On May 29, War Memorial Shrine bearing the names of 762 Seattle schools graduates killed in World War II is dedicated.  

April 21, 1962: Memorial Stadium hosts the opening ceremonies for the World’s Fair.

1967: Memorial Stadium becomes the first high school stadium in the country to have artificial turf.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Seattle Schools This Week

 Update:  there are some interesting items on Wednesday's Board agenda.  For example:
  • Engaging Families for High School grant-funded project - anyone?
  • Approval of four separate successor collective bargaining agreements between Seattle Public Schools and International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 609 for September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2020 - for intro and action.  Again, Intro and Action on the same night should be for emergencies.  I'm assuming the negotiations have been going on for some time so where's the fire?
  • Seattle Teacher Residency Program Funding (Exec, March 15, for approval) Approval of this item would provide authority for the Superintendent to dedicate $251,000 for the purposes of the Seattle Teacher Residency (STR) Program in the 2018-2019 school year

    This residency program seems to be doing very well and keeping teachers at Title One schools.  A good investment, it would seem.
But the Board agenda item that made my jaw drop was this one:

Termination of Ground Lease at the Lake City School  (Ops, March 8, for consideration) Approval of this item would approve early termination of the Lease with Lake City Professional Building, LLC in the payment amount of $6,193,000 for the Lake City School to provide for increased flexibility to meet capacity needs of Seattle Public Schools (SPS).

While the District does not have an immediate need for the property, this lease buyback provides greater long-term flexibility.

The Lake City Professional Center is a 2.68-acre or 116,927-square-foot site that is owned by the District. The District entered into Fifty-year Ground Lease with Two Additional Twenty-year extensions with Lake City Professional Building, LLC in 1986, a 90-year agreement to reach conclusion in 2076. This agreement allowed Lake City Professional Building, LLC to improve and construct what was necessary to turn the location into a professional center.
This Board Action Report seeks approval to seek early termination of the Lease with Lake City Professional Building, LLC for the Lake City School to provide for increased flexibility to meet capacity needs of Seattle Public Schools (SPS). SPS would take over management of current building rental agreements and start receiving that rental income.

Fiscal impact to this action will be the payment of up to $6,193,000 for the lease buyback out of the Capital Fund. The amount Lake City Professional Building, LLC is requiring for the purchase is higher than the appraisal completed in 2016 due to the market increase and requirements for termination written into the Lease agreement.

Including annual operating costs, it is estimated the District will receive $690,600 in net tenant revenue per year ($940,000 less estimated annual operating costs) after the purchase. The total cost of the real property is expected to be offset by lease revenue received directly by SPS instead of Lake City Professional Building, LLC within a 9 to 10-year period. SPS is not anticipating the need for this facility within the next 7 to 10 year period.

Readers may not know but it had been suggested by members of the public - years ago - to do this action.  The answer was no, it would cost too much to break the lease.  Well, I guess push came to shove.

And the district entered into a 90-year agreement? I think I know what former legal counsel probably negotiated that one.

I do find that last sentence about "receiving that rental income" an odd one

Lastly, we've heard the "we'll save money and make money" story before from the district. I'm not buying it this time.  That's $6M+ out of capital dollars for this.

end of update

A very busy week in the district.

Tuesday, March 20th
Seattle Special Education PTA meeting, JSCEE, 7-9 pm

Wednesday, March 21st
Board meeting, starting at 4:15 pm at JSCEE.  Agenda.

I'll just note that the interviews for semi-finalists for the superintendent job start the next day.  Wonder if any people in the audience at the meeting might be possible candidates?

Thursday, March 22nd
The Board will be interviewing semi-finalist candidates for superintendent from 8:30-3:00 pm at South Seattle Community College.  These sessions are not open to the public.

Friday, March 23rd
The Board will be interviewing semi-finalist candidates for superintendent from 8:30-3:00 pm at South Seattle Community College.  These sessions are not open to the public.

Saturday, March 24th 
Community meetings with directors
Patu - at Raconteur from 9:30 am-11:00 am
Burke - at Greenwood Public Library from 10 am to noon
Pinkham - at Northgate Public Library from 3 pm to 4:30 pm

I note - still no community meeting from Director DeWolf.

Of interest: 

Summer Learning Opportunities
A compilation of district resources and program offerings. In addition, please check with the front office of your student's school for information about summer learning opportunities.

Port of Seattle Internships
Not yet posted but this is the page to check if your student in interested.

The Port offers internships for graduate, undergraduate and high school students in various fields of study including but not limited to: Accounting, Auditing, Construction Management, Engineering, Environmental, Finance & Budget, Human Resources, Marketing, and Planning.

The Port of Seattle is accepting applications for our internship program through April 2018. ​New college internship opportunities are posted each week. High school internship applications will open mid-March.

A Real School Leader and Thinker

Super important article to read - this is HOW we can help students who struggle AND have behavior issues.  More of this, less collecting data. 

A Deeper Look at the Whole School Approach to Behavior
(from NPR) about vice-principal Mike Essien, assistant principal at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School (MLK) in San Francisco.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Open Thread

There is a deeply moving interview on NPR with the family of a Parkland, Florida high school shooting victim.   The victim was Carmen Schentrup and her parents are Philip and April and their surviving children, Robert, aged 18, and Evelyn, aged 14 (who was in the same school as her sister).
"People constantly say to me, 'I can't imagine what you're going through,'" he says. "Well you should. You should try to comprehend your daughter — who you are so proud of, and who was just beginning to live her life – being riddled by bullets. Being told, when the medical examiner gives the body back to the funeral home, 'You can't see her. We have to spend days working on her body. And maybe, maybe you'll be able to see her then.'"

"Think about that," Philip urges. "And then come tell me why we can't do things to keep our kids safe."

"It's unimaginable, but I think we need to imagine it," April says. "I know we need to act. We need to do something more than pray and console each other."
I ask you to try to imagine the worst for your own child if only to key in on the gravity of the situation.  Of course, it is the most horrible and frightening thought you could have as a parent.  But we cannot accept this as a norm and we have to act.

Board Announces Opportunity to See Superintendent Finalists

Update 2: Here's the district's Superintendent Search 2018 page. 

The district wants parents and the public to submit questions in advance if people are unable to attend the Town Hall on March 29th (details below).
  • Questions may be submitted for consideration to
  • At the April 4 Regular Board Meeting, the Board anticipates voting to authorize contract negotiations with one finalist.
  • At the April 25 Regular Board Meeting, the Board anticipates voting on a negotiated contract.
end of update

Update 1:  from the district on the format for meeting the finalists for superintendent on March 29th.

The March 29 forum will be broadcast on Channel 26 for people who can’t attend in person. 

The schedule looks like this:

  • 5 to 5:30 p.m.  Unstructured time for attendees, board members to talk. The public can submit written suggested questions during this time. These moderator will organize questions by theme and narrow the number able to be asked within the time period.

         5:30 to 6:15 p.m. The first candidate will provide a 5-10 minute introduction and then answer the questions collected from the audience and presented by the moderator.

         6:30 to 7:15 p.m. This process will repeat for the second candidate.

         7:30 to 8:15 p.m. This process will repeat for the third candidate.

End of update

The Seattle School Board will be meeting in Executive Sessions on Tuesday Thursday, March 22nd and Wednesday Friday, March 23rd at South Seattle Community College to interview semi- finalists for superintendent and then consider their choices.  These sessions are not open to the public.  I don't know how many people they are interviewing.

Then, on Monday, March 26th, there will be a half-hour Executive Session (I assume) to name the finalists at JSCEE in the Board Conference office.  This meeting is open to the public.  This may be 2-3 candidates.

The one public forum with the finalists is on Thursday, March 29th.
Public Forum for all members of the community to meet the finalists for the next Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. It will be held on Thursday, March 29 from 5:00-8:15 p.m. at the John Stanford Center Auditorium. It will also be broadcast live on the District’s Channel 26.
Interpreters will be onsite for Amharic, Chinese, Spanish and Somali languages. Other languages including American Sign Language are available by advance request.
I have inquired as to the format of the forum.

I note that the lag between announcing the candidates on Monday the 26th and the forum on the 29th gives time to research each candidate.  That will be helpful.  I would caution to not dismiss anyone out of hand (unless they are formerly from Oakland or D.C. or anywhere a candidate left under a cloud.)

I do have faith that our district will find a great leader.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kent School District Doing a Slash and Burn for their Budget

Hard to believe but.... (from KOMO-tv):
Families are fuming over a plan to eliminate 127 teachers from the school district. The cuts are projected to save $18 million, but the fear is that it will be students who pay the price.
The teacher layoffs are set to take effect this summer. In addition, nine administrator positions will also be eliminated.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Just a Guess but Apparently Trump Will Stoop to Anything to Deflect

What's the latest deflection (I mean besides trying to get away from the Russian issue and Stormy Daniels via firing Rex Tillerson by tweet)?
After a gunman marauded through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month, conservative commentators — looking for a culprit — seized on an unlikely target: an Obama-era guidance document that sought to rein in the suspensions and expulsions of minority students.

And this week, President Trump made the connection, announcing that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will lead a school safety commission charged in part with examining the “repeal of the Obama administration’s ‘Rethink School Discipline’ policies.”

Great Letter from a Maryland Parent

The author,Morna McDermott, wrote a letter to Baltimore County Public Schools and published at her blog, Educationalchemy.  It's titled, "Letter for BCPS Parents: My Child is Not a Pipeline."  (Thanks to parent, Carolyn Leith, for the heads up.)

Like this mom, it's super important to be asking these questions NOW.

Why We Need to Fight for Gun Restrictions

Update from The Stranger:

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to support a student walkout over gun control scheduled for tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Guest editorial from The Stranger, Why I'm Walking Out With Students Tomorrow, by Dr. Kim Schrier. She's a pediatrician who is running against Dino Rossi in the 8th.

From the South Seattle Emerald, another parent, Brenda Williams, speaks up.
As a parent of two Seattle Public School kids, I’ve talked with other parents whose kids describe a deep desire to participate in the 17 minutes of action called for by national student leaders on 3/14/2018. The planned national action provides a platform for student/youth voices and is particularly important to many SPS youth.

While some schools will hold assemblies or conduct classroom discussions, how is SPS leadership supporting the students who will walk out?  Some kids describe the difficult choice they have to make, that of walking out or being punished (ranging from unexcused absences to being barred from playing in that evenings’ sporting events).
end of update
If you have older children, tell them to walk out of school tomorrow for 17 minutes.  Just 17 minutes.  (I'm assuming it's harder at elementaries unless parents organize something.)

Let us know what your school does.

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Tuesday Open Thread

Good news from the district about Sacajawea Elementary:
On Monday, March 5, the Sacajawea Elementary School community celebrated improved access to classroom technology for students.

With help from the Power Up technology grant, technology funding from the district and a private family foundation, Sacajawea will be one of the first Seattle public elementary schools to provide one-to-one computing for every 3rd, 4th and 5th grade student.
The district also had an update on Racial Equity teams and the program is now in 42 schools (out of 99).  No word on why other schools don't have them yet.
The good news includes:
  • Aki Kurose, Denny International and Asa Mercer middle schools are at the top in the state for gains made by students of color.
  • Olympic Hills Elementary, Rainier View Elementary and Cleveland High students of color scored significantly higher than the statewide average on the 2017 Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Five of these six schools have had Racial Equity Teams in place for at least two years.
Heads up for a great speaker at UW - Diane Ravitch, Saving Public Education in the Trump-DeVos Era.  I've heard Diane speak and she's great.  Free tickets.

What's on your mind?

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Curious Case Of the Push to Keep Superintendent Nyland

There's an op-ed at Crosscut from the president of SEA, Phyllis Campano, and the president of the principals' association, Paula Montgomery about the issue of the superintendent search.

Apparently there are still people that think the Board will suddenly collectively slap their foreheads and say, "I coulda have a V8."  (Older parents will get the reference but basically, it's "Hey, we're doing idiots.")

Is the process selected feel truncated and somewhat rushed? Yes.  However, here is my reply to the op-ed and I think I have some valid reasoning.

And I have to wonder about those who want to upend a process that is way down the line, with money spent on a search firm and candidates waiting to be interviewed.  What would that look like to district detractors for the Board to do that?  But maybe that's the point.  To undermine the Board.

Here's my reply to the op-ed: