TAF & Seattle Public Schools Letter of Intent

Thanks to Melissa Westbrook, here is the Letter of Intent between TAF & Seattle Public Schools.


Letter of Intent

Since September 2005, The Technology Access Foundation (TAF), a nonprofit educational corporation, has been meeting with several key Seattle Public Schools (SPS) members including the Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer, several school board members, middle and high school directors, and principals to explore a partnership to bring TAF Academy (a 6th-12th grade school model with a theme of Science, Technology, Engineering. and Math) to Rainier Beach High School.

After a year of discussing strategies and issues, we have determined that TAF and SPS will collaborate to bring the TAF Academy model to Rainer Beach High school with the following parameters:

  • TAF Academy will collocate with the current Rainier Beach program.
  • There will be a total of 525 students (75 students per grade) enrolled in TAF Academy.
  • TAF Academy will start in September 2008 with a 6th, 7th, and 9th grade class.
  • Implementation will be contingent on the simultaneous review and refinement of the current Rainier Beach program. This plan will be developed by the Rainier Beach staff with a funding mechanism that assures equity between programs.
  • Potential negative impacts on enrollment and or program of the non-TAF school at Rainier Beach High School will be analyzed and mitigated before moving forward.

The Seattle School Board plays a critical role in this collaboration. The full Board must approve the idea of the partnership and the Board's Student Learning Committee (SLC) must approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines items such as the partnership intent, community engagement, impact on the students, community and District, roles and responsibilities, and schedule, etc. The MOU will answer critical questions to ensure the partnership has the desired intent-to provide a high quality educational option to the students in the Rainier Beach area.

TAF and SPS will regularly report progress of the MOU actions to the SLC. Upon final approval of the work, TAF and SPS will develop a legally binding Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) that specifies how TAF and SPS will operate the school once it has opened. The JOA must also be approved by the Seattle School Board.

TAF and SPS will prepare necessary materials to have this proposal introduced to the Seattle School Board on November 15, 2006 with a vote on December 6, 2006 to approve the idea of the partnership and give SPS permission to work with TAF to create the MOU and present it to the SLC.

Dated the 25th day of October 2006

Seattle Public Schools, Raj Manhas

Technology Access Foundation, Trish Millines Dziko


Charlie Mas said…
I couldn't help but notice:

"After a year of discussing strategies and issues, we have determined that TAF and SPS will collaborate to bring the TAF Academy model to Rainer Beach High school... "

There is no room for any other outcome.

Despite a year of talking within a small circle, the timeline was talk in a larger circle seems very rushed and a little backwards. The Board is supposed to vote on the proposal before the MOU is written. In the absence of the MOU, where all of the critical questions will be answered, what does the Board have to vote on?

If the full Board approves the idea on December 6, they are delegating all of the authority over this thing to the SLC. The Full Board may not be able to come back, after the MOU is written, adn say no to it then.
Anonymous said…
I was surprised today when Beth and I were talking to Director Butler-Wall that she hadn't seen the letter of intent yet. She looked it over and she openly admitted she was troubled by tone. She said it sounded more done than exploratory. She didn't say much else to my issues about TAF Academy (but she hadn't read their website so she was hearing this for the first time). I think I need to shoot off an e-mail to the Board members and see who has read what. I urged her to vote against it if there is not enough clear input from all sides. If it takes more time to do this right (or decide not to do it at all), so be it.
Anonymous said…
My kids are in college now, partly due to and with support from TAF. I've only started to actively tune into this issues after the recent article in the PI. I'm glad I found your Blog.

Personally, I'm glad to see that TAF has stepped up. I haven't heard much of the details of the Academy, but know enough of the organization and Ms. Dziko to know that they would only have the best intentions for South Seattle kids. I've watched my kids and several others flourish in their after-school programs and would LOVE to see them able to have that impact on a school level.

I can only anticipate that our misinformed and often misrepresented community will somehow end up squabbling like crabs in a bucket until this opportunity passes and our kids are still and largely left mis-educated. The saddest thing however, is that many of the faces who are against this opportunity have sat by and done nothing of their own will. Where is THEIR proposed solution and money to back it? Ms. Dziko is rich - she has humbly served our kids for over 10 years with nothing to gain but Karma. These people and the School Board should really look at their own motives and contributions before ruling out those of someone else. The best interest of ALL students, not politics, should be the only factor considered.
Anonymous said…
As the person who crafted this Letter of Intent and as the founding director of TAF, I think it's important for me to comment on the letter and process.

About the process: Yes we have been talking to the District since September 2005. In every one of those 13 conversations, the RBHS Principal, the Director of High Schools, and the Executive Director of the Teachers Union were in attendance, except 4 of them. They each had an opportunity to tell their respective constituents what was going on. TAF made a choice to try to get District approval of the idea first instead of making a promise to the community that we couldn't keep. Then we wanted to walk together with the District as partners to work with the community on how this may work out. Right or wrong, that was our strategy. I can't say that in hindsight we'd do it differently, I just know we learned a lot and we're ready to move on to bring a great educational choice to the students.

The board is actually voting on the spirit of the partnership and giving permission to explore all of the things necessary to determine if this will work. That's it. TAF needed some form of commitmennt before we could spend anymore time and money. This letter was edited and approved by the Board's Student Learning Committee which is composed of Chery Chow, Darlene Flynn, and Sally Soriano. I cannot speak to why Brita Butler-Wall has not seen it. But if you read carefully, the Student Learning Committee must approve the MOU and we must report progress to them every month. At anytime it may end up that this doesn't work.

TAF has been serving Seattle Area students of color for over 10 years. We created TAF Academy to give the students an opportunity to be successful in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. We choose Southeast Seattle (RBHS specifically) because there are no choices like TAF Academy available to them.

I am very happy to answer any questions you may have, and I encourage you to look at our website for updates on TAF Academy and answers to frequently asked questions.

Finally, we have no problem being challenged for our ideas, but we don't think it's fair to be challenged based on misinformation. We're transparent. Just ask.

Thanks, Trish Millines Dziko, Executive Director of the Technology Access Foundat

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