Disqus

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pathetic Public Process & Communication

Several weeks ago, when Raj announced the Phase II recommendations, many people pointed out that Cooper (and other schools) deserved a public hearing held at the school site. (see Public Hearings Needed for Cooper and Other Affected Schools) Some people were even optimistic that the district would hear this request and respond appropriately. But did it happen? No. Instead, the district has responded that the time at the hearings will be split between the two schools. But this information has not been announced or posted anywhere publicly.

In addition, the Pathfinder/Cooper communities have been waiting for a promised letter from the district to "clarify" the Phase II recommendation regarding their schools. (see Cooper/Pathfinder "Clarifying" Remarks "Clarified"). The latest word from the district is that a letter will be sent home through "kid mail" on Thursday, which is after this week's Board meeting and only a few days before the public hearing.

Both of these are clear examples of the district's pathetic public process and communication efforts. If you agree, send a message to feedback@seattleschools.org.

Below are excerpts of e-mail sent to the district on these topics.

***************
From Charlie Mas e-mail to Feedback@seattleschools.org

Oh Feedback,

I certainly hope what you write is true, and part of the public hearing at Genesee Hill will be devoted to Cooper. However, I was unable to corroborate it with any information available about the Public Hearings. With most District staff (and you may be anonymous, but you ARE staff) I have a "trust but verify" policy. I trust you, but please note that I was unable to verify your statement.

The web page regarding the public hearings not only makes no mention of this time-sharing scheme, it says;"Public testimony will be limited to three minutes per speaker and should focus on the school at which the hearing is being held."

There is no reference to the time sharing scheme in the press release about the public hearings.
I checked the Board calendar, the District calendar, and the Event calendar (all reached from the News & Calendars home page of the District web site), but none of them even had any mention of the public hearings, let alone a description of how the time is allocated.

… Come November I don't think anyone will appreciate it when you tell them - after the fact - that they could have testified about Cooper during the Genesee Hill public hearing. How would they know that? Particularly when the most official notice of the hearings appears to prohibit exactly that?

*************
From Amy Daly-Donovan e-mail to district staff and School Board

...I am guessing that you have no idea of the hundreds of hours that parents and staff have spent focusing on this endless process, because if you did you would recognize how utterly unfair and inefficient the timing and release of these various “clarifications” have been.

Our joint Public Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday October 10. If this letter does not get delivered to kids until Thursday afternoon (and I do have concerns about the use of kid-mail here, isn’t this important enough to warrant proactive outreach to the Cooper & Pathfinder communities, rather than relying on the fairly unreliable “kid-mail”??), there is a good chance that families may not actually receive it until Friday. That gives our two communities only one or two days to understand and process what is being proposed.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

One question that I still have; where is the money coming from to make Cooper a K-8? Have Pathfinder or Cooper been told anything about this? What about ORCA?

I've been researching the upcoming levy and am told there is roughly 2/3 of the money left in BTA II to be spent. Great. We have a backlog of problems, money to fix them but, apparently, no time? I think part of the problem is Facilities' ability to oversee big ticket projects versus many smaller ones.

But Board and district alike both agree that no elementaries will be touched during this BEX III bond (it's a bond this time, not a levy) measure. Their rationale is that they won't have completed the work on the Phase II closures so elementary issues are still up in the air. That's disingenuous. They have a really good idea who will be touched and who won't. Their problem is that the elementary schools that rise to the top of the list to be fixed are white, middle-class schools and the contrast with the closure of mostly minority schools, well, how would that look?

Beth Bakeman said...

Charlie and others, maybe "Feedback" is listening a little. Today the Board calendar has the public hearings listed and has labeled them with both school names (Pathfinder/Cooper; and AS#1/Summit)

Anonymous said...

To Melissa's question - Pathfinder was told in an informal conversation that Cooper only needed about $50,000 to convert to a K-8, and in fact in the 9/18 proposal it specifically states "We would expect to see costs of approximately $30,000 to relocate the Pathfinder K-8 program to Cooper. This would come from the need to purchase additional K-8 equipment that Cooper does not currently have, as well as the possible need to make minor building modifications for a new childcare provider."

Anonymous said...

I was told by Mark Green that the capital for the closures and consolidations will come from BTA II. He told me that the money will come from cancelling the projects at the schools they are closing.

That doesn't quite ring true for me because they will still have to fix the roof at Viewlands whether it is filled with SPS students or rented out.

The other thing that doesn't ring true is the idea that an elementary school can be converted into a K-8 for $30,000 or $50,000. Ummm... what about science labs?

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but one of Pathfinder's big complaints about Boren was the need for changes. To change an elementary to K-8 you need:
-science labs
-lockers
-gym space
-art space

and I probably forgot something else. I could check the list TOPS put out when it was suggested that they move to an elementary.

I think they are playing fast and loose with this money.

Roy Smith said...

AS#1 operates in a building with no science labs, which of course is not ideal for a K-8. Maybe the district thinks that because a school is an alternative K-8 means that it desires substandard facilities.

Roy Smith said...

Having said that, the AS#1 community is fine with its situation, but if Pathfinder currently has science labs then it makes no sense to slide backwards.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that is one reason they want to move AS1 because they know that the WASL is going to test science and they need that school to be someplace with science labs. Of course, that is completely a different thing from not supporting AS1 previously with labs. Why is it important for some middle/K-8 schools and not others?

Roy Smith said...

Since AS#1 has a very high WASL opt-out rate (usually above 50%), and the district knows this, I doubt making AS#1 more competitive on the WASL is very high on anybody's agenda.

I heard a theory/rumor recently that the ultimate (unstated) goal is that a few years after co-locating Summit and AS#1, the two schools would be merged into a K-8 that would serve as a feeder school for Nathan Hale. I have no substantiation for this, but it does raise lots of interesting questions - like why does Nathan Hale need a feeder middle school in a district with school choice? Unless reducing choice is on the agenda somewhere, too . . .

Anonymous said...

Regarding this from Melissa W ...
"Excuse me but one of Pathfinder's big complaints about Boren was the need for changes. To change an elementary to K-8 you need:
-science labs
-lockers
-gym space
-art space

and I probably forgot something else. I could check the list TOPS put out when it was suggested that they move to an elementary.

I think they are playing fast and loose with this money."

I hear you - and there has been no breakdown at all about what that $30K would actually fund. I have not actually been to the Cooper building, but from district info (such as square ft) it seems like the gym and library space would be OK. But if the proposal of having both schools housed in the building is approved, you bring up some good questions about space for things like art, culture studies, and middle school amenities (lockers, lounge space, etc). Not to mention science labs - we DEFINITELY don't have that now, with our MS classes housed in sub-standard portables. More evidence that this is less than a half-baked plan!!!

Anonymous said...

Regarding this from Melissa W ...
"Excuse me but one of Pathfinder's big complaints about Boren was the need for changes. To change an elementary to K-8 you need:
-science labs
-lockers
-gym space
-art space

and I probably forgot something else. I could check the list TOPS put out when it was suggested that they move to an elementary.

I think they are playing fast and loose with this money."

I hear you - and there has been no breakdown at all about what that $30K would actually fund. I have not actually been to the Cooper building, but from district info (such as square ft) it seems like the gym and library space would be OK. But if the proposal of having both schools housed in the building is approved, you bring up some good questions about space for things like art, culture studies, and middle school amenities (lockers, lounge space, etc). Not to mention science labs - we DEFINITELY don't have that now, with our MS classes housed in sub-standard portables. More evidence that this is less than a half-baked plan!!!