Friday, September 08, 2006

District Ideas for Phase II - A Sneak Preview

In 10 days (9/18), Raj is going to announce his recommendations for at least 3 additional school closures as part of Phase II of the consolidation and closure process.

Above is a memo by Holly Ferguson outlining what the district had in mind for Phase II back in July. Since both the promised 8/18 posting by the district of schools to be considered for closure in Phase II and the scheduled community meetings to discuss those ideas were cancelled, we have no idea if this is still an accurate picture of the district strategy.

Notice the mention of a "Phase III" of the closure process.

Notice also that "co-location" seems to be a new strategy for handling this issue. In the North, the proposed co-location is of several alternative schools or programs. In the West, the proposed co-location is of a traditional school and an alternative school. Neither of these ideas make sense if the district believes what stated in the recent Board Policy on alternative education and what is presented in the Alternative Education Committee's final report.


Anonymous said...

I hadn't seen this memo before but it troubles me about West Seattle. I still believe that the district intends to close a building to move Pathfinder. I'm not sure there is that much excess space but they sure need (want) to move Pathfinder and I think Cooper is it. The sad thing is "be careful what you wish for" because although Pathfinder would find a better facility in Cooper (at least newer), there are no dollars for a K-8 conversion and, at best, they will probably only get lockers and some restroom fixes.

On another note, Charlie, do please write something as a rebuttal to Nickel's opposition to I-88. He needs a tweak.

Anonymous said...

The obvious solution in the Northeast is to consolidate AS#1, an alternative K-8, into Addams with Summit, an alternative K-12, and close Pinehurst. Anything other than this would be a surprise. Would it violate the Alternative School Policy? So what? The District violates policies all the time. Apparently they're more like guidelines.

This memo, all of the recent discussions about K-8s, and the need for more middle school seats in the North make it look like the District intends to make Broadview-Thomson into a K-8.

There has been no reference to Phase III nor any discussion of capacity needs in Capitol Hill / East Roanoke as part of the BEX III planning. Kathy Johnson, who is the lead person on BEX III planning told me that she never heard anything about any of it. Can you say "silos"?

There would be some fussing, but the obvious solution to me would be for TOPS to move to Madrona and for Seward to become a neighborhood school - a building swap. Both buildings are K-8s of similar size and vintage. The District needs less neighborhood capacity in the CD and more in Eastlake. So repurpose the building in the CD from a neighborhood program to an alternative program and repurpose the building in Eastlake from an alternative program to a neighborhood program. Then the District would not have to close T. Marshall or Leschi, although it might allow the closure of Montlake.

That might sound good to a lot of you, but the District won't think of it. Even if they were told of it, they still wouldn't think of it. They will think much more conventionally.

Bailey Gatzert doesn't have much excess capacity and T T Minor has immunity from closure as a result of the one-time consolidation with M L King. The problem in the Central area is that the Leschi building is newer but the District wants to retain the Thurgood Marshall name. I foresee the Leschi building with the T. Marshall name.

No matter what building is closed in West Seattle, there can't be another consolidation because there isn't another building with enough space to take all of the students. That means that the learning community will be dispersed. There's a lot of talk about Cooper, but the schools all around Cooper are at capacity. Gatewood looks a lot more vulnerable to me, based largely on the available space in neighboring schools.

As for Pathfinder, I don't really have any good ideas of my own nor any idea of what the District might do. Oddly, there is no provision in the BEX III planning for the capital costs of making a building work for Pathfinder. Just as there was no provision in BEX III planning for the ORCA K-8 conversion or any number of other program changes with capital costs. Can you say "silos"? I knew that you could.

As for Wilson-Pacific, I'm sure that the District will close the building and move the programs. They will not be slowed by the fact that they have no plans or ideas for new locations. That didn't keep them from pushing out South Lake High School or the programs at John Marshall. Like Scarlett O'Hara they will just think about that tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's hard to notice the absence of something, so let me point it out: none of the Superintendent's proposals for Phase II were developed with the benefit of community engagement.

He may recommend moving AS#1 in with Summit, but he hasn't talked to either community about that.

He may recommend making Broadview-Thomson a K-8 but he has no market research data on whether or not the community would enroll their children in it.

There has been no contact with the wider community about which school to close in the CD or which school to close in West Seattle.

There hasn't even been the sort of meetings with select individuals over the questions of Pathfinder and Wilson-Pacific.

The District - starting with the Superintendent - does not perceive the community as having a role in the development of proposals. The District - starting with the Superintendent - sees the community in strictly a reactive role, never a proactive one. They do not value the community as a potential source for solutions, only a potential source of problems. They always feel that they need to come to the community with proposals instead of asking the community for proposals or working cooperatively with the community to develop proposals.

Since they don't speak to the community before developing their proposals, they not only lose the benefit of the community's creativity, they also fail to address the community's goals and fears when putting their proposals together. Consequently, the proposals rarely address the community's goals and often fulfill the community's greatest fears.

This is a culture dysfunction. Culture flows down from the top. This culture dysfunction is at the top - it is the Superintendent's fatal flaw.

Anonymous said...

Well, I can only speak from what I heard at the public hearings but parents all over the district want K-8. Salmon Bay is alternative and caps its enrollment, Whitman is huge so I do think that if they make B-T K-8 it would fill up. It was built as a middle school and so you avoid those rebuild problems (although if you look at the Meng report, B-T has not-great scores).

Pathfinder has gotten a lot of face time after they were so upset over the Boren assignment. It is clear they want to take over an elementary school - the question is which one. There is no K-8 in the SW so it would probably fill up but again, where's the money for renovation to become a K-8? Again, it's a mystery.

I have a call into the head guy at Meng about their analysis; I'll let you know what he says.

Beth Bakeman said...

Looking forward to hearing what you find out at Meng, Melissa.

But to be clear, Pathfinder does not want to "take over" an elementary school. Pathfinder wants a building in good condition that will meet its eductional / programmatic needs.

If the district could come up with money to rebuild Pathfinder on its current site, eliminating the need to house the middle school in portables, I'm guessing the community there would be thrilled.

And I agree with you and Charlie both about how strange it is that there is no money set aside to make whichever building Pathfinder is in appropriate for a K-8.

Anonymous said...

In reference to Charlie Mas' comments about no community engagement or meetings with "select folks" for the Phase 2 recommendations - there actually were a few meetings the week of August 14 with principals, PTSA reps, and SEA reps of all potentially affected schools. I didn't attend, but the one held for the West Seattle-South community (I think around 6-7 schools represented) lasted all day. No decisions were made, but apparently many options were discussed and the group at least got some insight into the background on some of the issues at hand.

So while I agree that a more proactive, engaging process is sorely needed (and would actually HELP the district if they would only see it that way), it isn't entirely true that the proposals were made in a complete vacuum.

Anyone who attended those initial meetings - please correct me if I'm mistaken!