Monday, October 30, 2006

School Board Meeting Agenda on Wednesday

The agenda for this Wednesday's School Board Meeting is interesting.

I'm sure the turnout will be smaller than it would have been if Phase II were still under consideration, but several people are still signed up to talk about school closures. The merger of Broadview-Thompson and Viewlands with an expansion to a K-8 program is on the table for Wednesday night. This is the one recommendation from Phase II that seems to have support, and so it is being brought up again for discussion by the Board.

Two other school closure and consolidation issues are:

  • Proposed changes to the student assignment plan for 2007-08, which seem to be just a matter of putting into policy the promises that were made during discussions around Phase I consolidations and closures about enrollment preferences for children in the affected schools and their siblings.
  • The extension of several one-year changes to the student assignment plan for another year, with the exception of the Orca preference for enrollment to Salmon Bay K-8 which the proposal would allow to disappear because Orca is moving towards becoming a K-8 itself, adding 6th grade next year, and an additional grade the two following years.
Several people are also signed up to talk about Rainier Beach High School, which I'm guessing, means testifying about the proposal to put a TAF Academy at that school. Some people testified to their opposition to this idea at the last School Board meeting. I'm interested to see if the testimony on Wednesday presents more information about the proposal and the community opposition to it.

I'd like to know what the status of the proposal is. At the last meeting, one person said it was "announced as a done deal." Another person (on staff at Rainier Beach) said that wasn't true, but that the issue (and communication in general) had been handled badly enough that he could understand why that was the perception.

The district does an awful job with communication, and should certainly have included community participation from the start in the decision-making. But, for a moment, ignoring those valid issues, is the decision to have a TAF high-tech high at Rainier Beach really bad for the community? The work that the non-profit TAF has done, focused specifically on children of color, has been extremely successful. From what I can tell, this does not seem to be a profit-driven decision or a move to privatize schools. Rather, it seems to be the work of one talented, committed woman to improve education for children of color.

However, the Rainier Beach High School community may have valid reasons for opposing this proposal, so I look forward to learning more on Wednesday. See Tech foundation aims to open schools and TAF Academy Overview for more details.


Anonymous said...

I think the problem here is two-fold. One, many schools, especially in the south end, feel left out of the loop. It wouldn't matter to them if Barrack Obama came in; they would be suspicious. I agree, I think this would probably help Rainier Beach but they keep saying they can do it on their own. ("It" being become sound and successful.)

Two, the district has a bad habit of having long-term discussions with outside entities and then surprise! we are doing X, Y, Z at School A.

Again, when you throw new programs and/or schools into the mix that have their own agenda (and, maybe more to the point, their own money), it spells trouble. Why? Because the district doesn't have (to my knowledge) a policy on outside groups and their ability to impact SPS. Will TAF make demands for the building or who gets in their program that are not part of any policy and then say they will take their money and leave if they don't get their way? I think that's probably the driver for the New School building.

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