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Monday, October 02, 2006

AS#1 Position on Phase II Recommendation

From an AS#1 parent, Lucy Sloman, I got the letter that the Building Leadership Team (BLT) sent to Raj. Below is an excerpt:

By an unanimous vote, the AS#1 Building Leadership Team rejects the consolidation of AS#1 and Summit at the Jane Addams building, as a part of the district’s Phase II budget plan.

There are many reasons why consolidation of these two programs is not good for Seattle students, including:

§ Jane Addams’ building capacity is 700 to 780 students; the current enrollment of the two schools is well over 800; typical enrollment of the two programs would result in almost 900 students in the Jane Addams’ facility. Overcrowded facilities and/or the use of portables does not support student learning or the programs of either school. This is a disrespectful approach to the committed communities and programs of AS#1 and Summit.

§ Seattle School District’s alternative schools and their programs are not interchangeable, or necessarily compatible in terms of educational philosophy and program components. It is misguided to assume that alternative schools are all the same.

§ Co-location of programs has rarely if ever been successful. Seattle School District representatives have confirmed this. Furthermore, educational trends are to small and moderate sized schools, which this school would not be. It is disrespectful to treat our kids as interchangeable, portable, puzzle pieces to be thoughtlessly moved about until the financial puzzle is solved.

§ Reducing choices for middle school students does not address the District-identified, unmet needs of north end students and schools.

......Please join us in an effort to find acceptable solutions, which do not require that we yet again waste valuable energy fighting the district instead of focusing on serving our children’s educational needs.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure this letter is the best argument. If the current enrollment is "well" over 800 (what does that mean - 810,820,830?), it seems odd to say "typical" enrollment is almost 900. Where are they getting these numbers and why isn't the enrollment closer to 900 than 800?

The educational trend, at least in high schools, is to co-house smaller schools within larger buildings. It's not an easy thing to do (see NYC), but two schools, K-12 and K-8, at less than 900 is not big.

I'm not sure how this reduces choices if both schools still exist.

I say this not to defend the district's plan in this case but just to point out the likely holes in this argument.

I also find it very interesting how many schools tie themselves to a location. TOPS practically said they would be destroyed if moved (which doesn't say much for their program). The discussion at the work session on student assignment talked about how to locate alternative schools in locations that made it easier for parents to access and less expensive for the district to get them there.

AS#1 has huge transportation costs for such a small school. I'm sorry it's not reasonable to keep doing the same thing when the school could exist at another location not that far from where they current are. The locating of Summit as a K-12 at Addams is not good at all for transportation costs but at least if Summit and AS#1 were together, they both get to exist AND the transportation costs go down.

This seems like another case of a school saying we want what we want and nothing else will do.

Anonymous said...

Summit's transportation costs might be lower if the school were located at Lincoln.

It could co-house there with an APP 1-8.

Both programs are all-city draws and the schools could share buses.

Lincoln would be lost as an interim site, but it would be replaced by Jane Addams.

Moving APP out of Lowell would allow the District to repurpose it as a neighborhood school, increasing capacity in Capitol Hill close to Eastlake. Montlake could close and the reference areas could be re-arranged.

AS#1 does not have an excess capacity problem and should not have been dragged into the solution for another school. If there is a problem at AS#1, that problem is the condition of the Pinehurst building. The solution for that would be for the District to put a Pinehurst renovation on the BEX III levy. Alternatively, the District could fix up another building for AS#1 - McDonald leaps to mind.

If AS#1 were moved to McDonald, it might be able to share buses with Summit and APP at Lincoln.

The Building Leadership Team at AS#1 didn't make the arguments I would have made, but they are right to say that the operations tail shouldn't be wagging the academics dog.

Anonymous said...

Good idea, Charlie. I had suggested the Summit/APP thing at Lincoln also because Summit was willing to become the feeder high school for Hamilton as the international high school (something not addressed yet by the district). You would then have all the international schools close to each other for both community and staff support and collaboration.

If they still HAD to rebuild Hale (I'm talking to Fred Stephens in Facilities today about it), well, they could have those kids and staff just walk across the street to Addams. After Hale is done, they could turn it into a K-8 or middle school. Lincoln is more valuable as a good building than an interim building. I might just push on this one because it makes a whole lot of sense.

Roy Smith said...

AS#1 is not interested in tieing itself to the Pinehurst location (at least for the most part - there are a few who want that specific building, but they are a small minority). AS#1 would be happy to move if it was a move to a location (even possibly a co-location) that met the needs of the program and would enable AS#1 to maintain its unique identity and autonomy. Additionally, the school as a whole wouldn't mind moving south since having an all-city draw at the extreme north end of the district is a little non-sensical. However, forcing AS#1 to move to a building that is too small for the total number of students and not properly configured for co-location does not even come close to meeting the minimum criteria (not overcrowded, maintain separate autonomous program) that AS#1 would have to see to not fight the proposal.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Melissa W re the strength of the AS#1 position. For all of those who argue that school closures are not necessary, I guess if they haven't yet accepted that Seattle schools are under-funded and under-capacity, it looks as if these decisions are elective and capricious. The earnest people who wrote that position paper must be in the latter camp - or they would never expect to be able to keep, with no compromise, their <250 student school whose enrollment has declined over time.

For one, I can't see the support for the assertion that the district's proposal to co-locate the two schools "assume(s) that all alternative schools are the same". None of what I've read mentions merging the two, even over time - so you have the <250 school preserved, with the same principal, the same staff, and the same community - as would Summit. There are many districts who would not propose half as much in a funding crisis.

And I guess I disagree with Charlie that AS#1 should never have been considered in this phase. They actually are under capacity if their enrollment is around 200 and their planning capacity (per district) is 282 - but even if they were at capacity, their size, declining enrollment, and transportation cost invite scrutiny - and are unfortunately just not affordable as is in this climate. Education trends may well be toward smaller learning communities, but the State of Washington is not funding such an environment and doesn't seem likely to in the near-term.

Likewise I don't see how moving AS#1 to McDonald is a reasonable solution. There are no savings to be had with such a move - and it is about savings just as much as it is about academic outcomes.

Anonymous said...

Where is the report that puts the enrollment of AS#1 at 200?

The last data I have, admittedly a year old, is the October 1, 2005 enrollment count of 273 and the building with a planning capacity of 282. Nine spaces is NOT excess capacity.

Anonymous said...

I agree 9 spaces is not excess capacity.

The Times reported "around 200" a few (?) weeks ago in the story about the impending proposal. I thought that was a pretty significant drop from 273 in 2005 and wondered if the reporter made a mistake, but I asked Sally Soriano and she confirmed.

That the AS#1 position stmt cites "well over 800" for the two communities combined, with Summit at 663 last year and AS#1 at 273, means something's off and likely in both schools - otherwise they probably would have called it "well over 900".

The actual counts are happening today, aren't they? But it always takes forever for a layperson to see them...

Roy Smith said...

Enrollment for both Summit and AS#1 are down this year. Coincidentally (or not), the last 18 months has been spent by the district examining "what elementary and alternative programs should be closed", clearly implying that all alternative programs are at risk, particularly those that serve K-5. Families are less likely to enroll in programs whose future is in doubt, hence the decline in enrollment numbers.

Typically, both programs have no excess capacity.

Anonymous said...

roy smith says that Summit typically has no excess capacity. That contradicts the District's repeated statements. After reading the data, I would pretty much agree with roy.

We all know that Summit was fingered for closure by the Superintendent last year and that could play a role in reducing enrollment, but here are the last several years' enrollment, by the October 1 count, for Summit.

2000 . . . 635
2001 . . . 612
2002 . . . 657
2003 . . . 679
2004 . . . 743
2005 . . . 663

The 2005 enrollment is almost exactly the average enrollment over this period (665).

The planning capacity of the Jane Addams building is stated as 823, so there are - statistically speaking - 160 empty seats at Jane Addams - about 20%. Even at the peak enrollment, 2004, there were 80 empty seats - about 10%.

At 80% to 90% of planning capacity, Jane Addams is relatively full - more than Green Lake, Genesee Hill, Stevens, Arbor Heights, Hawthorne, Gatzert, Brighton, Lawton, Gatewood, Northgate, Roxhill, Concord, T.Marshall, AAA, Muir, Broadview-Thomson, Olympic Hills, BF Day, Cooper (for now), Leschi, or The New School.

Although 160 or even 80 seats may sound like a lot, on the whole it isn't that much. Broadview-Thomson has, by the same algebra, 248 empty seats - 34% of the building's capacity. There are a number of buildings with more open seats than Addams. They include BF Day, the AAA, Cooper (for now), Leschi, Broadview-Thomson, and The New School.

Moreover, those seats at Jane Addams aren't all K-5 seats.

So I would have to agree with roy that Jane Addams is not guilty of excess capacity - despite repeated statements to that effect by the District leadership.

Anonymous said...

Just an fyi, Pathfinder shows "excess capacity" because we have two empty portables, and one that is used for special ed and other tutoring programs (the capacity numbers include portable space). We also use a classroom (teaching station) for the art room, one for the library, one for our culture studies program, and one used as offices for specialist staff (such as tutors, OT/PT, SLP, etc.), as there are no smaller offices/planning spaces in the building. I'm going by my own knowledge here, so if I've mis-stated anything someone let me know!

Anonymous said...

according to information from historical Seattle
Jane Addams was built to accomodate 1000 students in the Shoreline district, although at one point it saw 2,200 students pass through its doors each day during a period of double shifting.

http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=3668