Monday, September 18, 2006

Early Coverage on Raj's Phase II Recommendations

Superintendent identifies four more schools to close, move - Seattle Times

Three more schools to close - Seattle PI

In addition to the obvious contradictions in article titles, the PI and the Seattle Times articles have different details and nuance.

Summary recommendations, a full report, and a schedule of hearings are all posted at Phase II on the Seattle Schools website.


Scott said...

Here's the District's press release. http://www.seattleschools.org/area/news/0607/Supts_Prelim-PhaseII.pdf

Anonymous said...

Still no word on the relocation of programs at Wilson-Pacific or John Marshall.

I like the conversion of Broadview-Thomson to a K-8 and the idea of putting the autism inclusion program there. This will allow students in that program to skip a building transition at the sixth grade. Plus the District needs the addtional middle school capacity in the north.

The AS1/Summit merger was the only viable option they had. I only hope that the communities directly impacted will put their efforts into making the co-housing work rather than opposing it. If space allows, it sounds like a positive for both programs.

I was a bit surprised by the choice of Roxhill in West Seattle, but it shows how much more weight was given to facilities criteria. This may be the only closed school that will see their population dispersed - at least between two sites. It would have been true for any West Seattle choice.

I believe that the decision to not decide on a school to close in the Central Area was INSPIRED. T T Minor was the obvious choice but got immunity through the early one-time merger with MLK. Let's remember that while T T Minor took in the current M L King students, they did not take the future would-be M L King students. The future students - that is to say the M L King reference area - went to McGilvra. The TT Minor/M L King merger was not a true merger.

This decision, as described in the report, did read as a bit of a slam on the Board, but I'm not sure it was meant that way. It could have been just sloppy writing or a biased reading on my part. Still, they do go on about how the best choice was taken away from them. When those 44 M L King students are gone, so is T T Minor - unless they can work some kind of a deal. Maybe T T Minor could get another waiver by taking the low-incidence special ed students from Lowell.

In the same way I got a whiff of editorialization about the Central Area meetings. The sense I got was that the meetings were not productive because the participants were not cooperative. How did I get that vibe?

Clearly there is more work to be done in the Central cluster and no one there - not at any school in the area - should feel comfortable, although Lowell was the only one mentioned by name:

"Based on existing demand, another closure in the Central area must be examined. However that examination must occur in conjunction with the many other, related issues. These issues include the need for additional capacity in the Accelerated Progress Program (currently housed at Lowell), as well as a need for additional capacity in the Capital Hill/Eastlake/Roanoke area."

Given the elimination of excess capacity, I'm not sure how the District is going to find the necessary flexibility to make any of those changes.

Roy Smith said...

The AS1/Summit merger was not the only viable option they had - they could have relocated some of the programs at Wilson-Pacific into the excess space at Summit, relocated the remaining programs elsewhere throughout the district, and shut the Wilson-Pacific building. Closing the Wilson-Pacific building would generate about twice the annual cost savings that closing the Pinehurst building would, and this approach would have allowed the excess capacity at Summit to be utilized without overcrowding.

In addition to causing an overcrowding problem, the AS1/Summit merger removes all possibility of either program being able to expand if the demand increases in the future. Although maintaining excess capacity can be costly, it doesn't make sense to sacrifice all future flexibility in the name of reducing excess capacity.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point, roy!

While some might suggest that the Jane Addams building is not a sufficiently central location for the programs at Wilson-Pacific, it's not as if Wilson-Pacific is such a central location.

And aren't they looking for locations for the programs that are now at John Marshall? Couldn't one or two or all of them go to Jane Addams?

I don't see how the district cannot help but to sacrifice flexibility when eliminating excess capacity. For example, if they want to relocate elementary APP, where can they put it? There's no excess capacity anywhere, let alone an extra 470 seats.

Oh, wait! There are an extra 470 seats in the Central Area. All the district has to do is close a school in the Central Area and move the APP students into it. I'm sure that will be immensely popular. Fortunately, since the building will remain open they wouldn't have to stage a public hearing about the change.