Thursday, October 30, 2008

Board Work Session on Capacity

I attended part of the Board Work Session on capacity issues in the NE/NW yesterday. Apparently the Board meeting was standing room only.

Here are links to various information/newstories:
from the district website, the news release
from the PI
from the Times

From the PI:

"Closing schools is the hardest decision I've faced as a director in this school district," said board Vice President Michael DeBell.

"I don't enter it lightly; on the other hand, I can't continue to keep 9,000 or more empty seats warm, dry, safe, supervised, clean and reasonably well maintained ... that's a loss of resources."

And this passage echos what I have heard about the average kindergarten size in the NE:

"The board also heard testimony from teachers, including Laurelhurst Elementary teacher Lisa Beneson, who said her full-day kindergarten class has 30 students this year.

"I cannot be the teacher I wish to be when I'm spread so thin," she said."

From the Times article:

"Goodloe-Johnson said she views the discussion as an opportunity to take a big-picture look at the district, at a time when it is discussing revamping special-education and other programs, and approving a new plan for how it assigns students to schools.

"Although it's emotional, although it's hard ... the timing is going to help us be comprehensive," she said.

Her intention, she said, is to be able to tell parents what they'd gain if their schools were to be closed or moved."

(Just to interject here, the CAC wanted and told the Board that staff needed to be able to show parents how they were gaining something by their schools closing. They did not do a good enough job in doing that and I felt very saddened by it. I had expected, for example, when the BEX list came out that I would see receiving schools having upgrades made to them because of the influx of students from closing schools but that didn't happen. It would be interesting to find parents whose schools closed and asked them how they feel today.)

Also from the Times article:

"A majority of board members opposed the staff proposal for Northeast Seattle — to put a regular middle school in the building that now houses the alternative school Summit K-12. Those board members said they'd prefer a K-8 program.

Some also noted that using the Summit K-12 site, which has about 30 classrooms, would preclude the need to look at moving Alternative School No. 1, which the staff also recommended."

The principal from Coe, David Elliott, came forward to explain what he and his fellow principals in QA/Magnolia thought they could do which is to take rooms being used for PCP time and turn them into classrooms. As well, there could be upgrades made to Blaine to add classrooms.

(I digress here but Director Maier asked if Blaine wasn't scheduled for a remodel at some point. The answer from Facilities staff was yes. He then said, "I wouldn't want to build at Blaine and then tear down something if a later project occurs." Michael DeBell echoed this sentiment. Unfortunately, gentlemen, you already approved just such an action when you approved Denny/Sealth. We are now tearing apart tennis courts and a baseball field that are about 5 years old. Additionally, you will likely find work done previously at Sealth being torn into because of the Denny/Sealth project. Where was this concern then?)

(I have to make a correction here because I had previously said the "north" had a K-8 in AS#1. But that's the "North" as an area but the "NE" as an area has none (although AE #2, now Thorton Creek, has the space and has said, in the past, that they were interested).

Much of the discussion centered around what to do about capacity issues in elementary and middle school in the N/NE. Indeed, to me, there seems to be a done deal here - Summit is moving and if I were that community, I would move in order to save my school. Staff seems hell bent on closing the program. In the PowerPoint they mention:

"Close Summit through attrition and start a new K-8 by growing the program gradually."

You mean, don't allow Summit to enroll anyone new and let it die in place as a new program builds around it. There was no mention of this option by the Board - they ignored it - but there it is in black and white.

There was some discussion of moving AS#1 and using that building as an elementary but the Board did not seem interested in that move.

Cheryl asked about an academic view about K-8 and Carla Santorno told the Board what she told the CAC a couple of years back. Namely, that there is no clear up or down to either K-8 versus 6-8; they each had drawbacks and pluses. But, the staff made clear that at this time, K-8s are more expensive for the district to run and that is why they recommended that Jane Addams become a middle school.

Sherry Carr asked where would students come to fill up a new middle school (at roughly 850 students)? She said she could see some from Eckstein (under a new assignment plan) plus some from Whitman but not enough to fill the space. However, Pat Sanders, a staff member, stated (and we know from discussion on this blog that it seems true) that many people leave SPS at 5th grade and go to private or to another district (Shoreline).

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said that it would create a middle school in an area of the city that has none. Indeed, students have to travel fairly far (either to Eckstein or Hamilton) to get to a middle school. She also said that several of the K-8s already perceive that they don't get the money they need to address the span of grades that they serve. They may be smaller, she said, but they have more student needs to address.

But Directors Martin-Morris and DeBell seem to favor the K-8 plan. However, I will point out (and I plan to impress this upon the directors if they don't get it), by creating a K-8 in that location AND saying it is for capacity needs (both elementary and middle school), they are saying that under a new assignment plan ALL "traditional" K-8s (that includes Madrona, Blaine, Broadview-Thompson and New School) would be assigned as reference schools. (This is true right now except that it is likely to be easier to get into a K-5 now than under a new plan.)

That means in some parts of the City, you will be assigned to a K-8 whether that would be your choice or not. But, under a new plan, especially in the NE where the reference areas are likely to fill a school, people may be stuck with a K-8.

I personally would not like that. I would like the choice between a K-8 and a K-5 as my child starts school. But I'm not in this situation anymore so I'd like to hear what others think on this issue. How would you feel if your reference elementary school was a K-8 and your choice of a K-5 was likely to be far away, if any? What if that K-8 was 850 students (which would be about the size - if the goal is to fill the building's capacity - of a new K-8 at Jane Addams)?

I favor a 6-8 at Addams (if a home for Summit is found) because I believe Eckstein should be smaller, that a new middle school where there currently is none would fill AND that you would be able to create a stronger middle school program than at a K-8. Here's an example. Eckstein has a stellar music program. To get people to want to go to a new middle school, the district might offer to help a new middle school by "lending" the music director to the new middle school to consult. A strong middle school music program at Jane Addams would then feed into the developing music program at Hale making their program stronger (and therefore, Hale a more attractive draw). This is unlikely to happen at a K-8 where, again, the funds would be lower and it would be more difficult to have a large program. (Although, if you filled Jane Addams as a K-8 at 850 students that would be one heck of a large K-8 - Broadview-Thompson is the largest now at 671 although I believe New School is being built to house 700-800.)

But how to solve the capacity problem without a K-8? Well, I have some thoughts on that but I'll need to do some more investigating. Staff did have some ideas like adding classrooms (a la Blaine at Broadview-Thompson, Rodgers or Sacajawea and/or adding portables). I will stick in here that the idea of reopening Sand Point NEVER came up despite the fact that it was the #1 idea at the Roosevelt meeting. I asked Director Martin-Morris about it and he said it just wasn't possible (permitting, etc.) but I told him that by both staff and the Board not even mentioning it, it makes it look like any new ideas generated by parents/public are brushed aside.

From the PI article:

District staff members also offered their recommendations Wednesday for short-term solutions to ease overcrowding in North Seattle in the 2009-10 school year. Several options were on the table. The staff recommendations included:

  • Moving the alternative Summit K-12 school to another location (not yet specified) and turning its building into a new, traditional K-8 school to open in fall 2009;
  • Keeping Catharine Blaine as a K-8, but renovating it to create more classrooms in existing space;
  • Changing the student assignment plan to give students in overcrowded areas access to nearby schools not in their cluster.

    The staff removed an unpopular recommendation that would have moved Alternative School No. 1 out of the Pinehurst building in northeast Seattle.

    During a board work session before the evening meeting, board members said creating a K-8 in the Addams building in northeast Seattle would provide enough seats to ease overcrowding.

  • Other observations:
    • Director Maier, despite AE#1 and Summit being in his area, seems devoid of concern for them. I spoke to one Summit mom after the Board meeting who said he said told Summit parents that Summit was a "failing" program and seemed to not get their concerns about being included in discussions. Directors Sundquist and DeBell both expressed concerns about due diligence over the movement or closure of any programs.
    • Director Bass was largely silent. She did speak up and say that the district "doesn't stop at the Montlake cut". I think she feels a lot of time is being taken up on this capacity issue and not thinking as a district as a whole.
    • Reading the news articles it seems that neither the Board nor staff are offering any other ideas about how to save money except to close schools. Odd.
    • There does seems to be a tension between the Board thinking a K-8 is a better idea and the staff thinking a middle school is a better idea for Jane Addams.
    School closures? A separate subject.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Resolution on Wednesday Board Meeting Agenda

    The link to the resolution being offered at Wednesday's Special Board meeting is now posted. It is sobering reading. From the resolution:

    "This projected shortfall and the negative information from the state is coupled with a number of audits that have advised that we have significant excess capacity vis a vis our student enrollment. For example, the recent State Auditor’s Report on the ten largest districts in Washington State reported that Seattle Public Schools has 18% excess capacity, compared to other districts in the state. In addition, both the Curriculum Audit commissioned by Phi Delta Kappa and the Capital Department review commissioned by the Council of Great City Schools indicated that our capacity exceeds our enrollment and recommended closing buildings. And as far back as 1990, the Washington State House of Representatives evaluation of Seattle Public Schools recommended reducing the per pupil maintenance cost of the district by reducing the number of facilities in operation.

    The Board does not take the action of building closures lightly. We recognize the hard work teachers, principals, administrators, and families put in to build communities that support students. But the negative impact to all schools and programs we face if the Board does not take this kind of action will be far more painful to our students and families than the closing of facilities.

    The case to do this work is compelling: the combination of a large projected budget shortfall and the number of outside voices calling for geographically balancing our capacity to our enrollment means this issue can be postponed no longer. The real savings of closure are long-term and structural. It is incumbent upon the School Board to lead a multi-year staged process that will move us toward educating all children with the most effective use of resources."

    There is no good news in this effort. It is going to be painful but yes, it has to be done.

    Plain and simple - the district needs to be operating buildings in proportion to the number of students in the district.

    Plain and simple - the district cannot keeping transporting students all over the city. In the case of programs that are offered only in one location, they need to find central locations for those programs to minimize transportation time and costs.

    I do want to note that in this resolution and the Options for Capacity Planning document (also to be discussed at the meeting), both mention the State Auditor's report saying the district has excess capacity. However, neither document mentions that the State Auditor's report also says the district has too many administrators.

    That's troubling for two reasons. One, it's a bit of cherry-picking to use State Auditor's report when it works for what the district wants to do. But on the subject of too many administrators, they are strangely silent. Two, why is there no mention at all of other efforts to find other ways to cut back other than closure and consolidation?

    Really Avoiding Public School

    I had been following this story of the 13-year old Lake Stevens boy who ran away from home. He ran because he had been homeschooled his whole life and now his mom was going to make him go to middle school. (Parents were divorced and the family was splitting kids.) He had studied survival skills and took off. He was gone nearly 2 weeks (what a heart attack!). He got tired and lost and said, forget it, maybe middle school won't be so bad. He missed his mom and his grandmother.

    He sounds like a very sweet young man and I sure am glad his story had a happy ending.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Board Workshop on Capacity Management

    The Board Workshop on Capacity Management will be this Wednesday, October 29th from 3-7 at the district headquarters with a Special Board meeting after it for one hour (this is the schedule at the Board webpage). The only two items on the Board meeting agenda are (1) for the Board to direct the Superintendent and staff to start looking at program moves and closure and consolidation of schools and (2) introduction of a plan for the capacity issues in the NE/NW. (The first item has a "placeholder" on its webpage for further details and won't be available until tomorrow. I'll update it then.)

    FYI, there is no interaction with the Board during the Workshop (although they are likely to take a break and always like to talk with audience members but keep in mind, they may need a bathroom break) but you can sign up to speak at the actual Board meeting.

    This article about school closures appeared in today's Times. I was surprised to see that this may come as early as next September (I need to check but I had been told the legal process takes a year.) From the article:

    "Even if the district closes schools, that wouldn't save enough to fill the estimated $24 million budget gap next year.

    That hole is partly due to rising costs — including those resulting from an agreement by the district five years ago to raise teacher pay so that Seattle wasn't one of the lowest-paying districts in the area. The School Board also voted last summer to add 102 new positions, even though it expected enrollment to decline. (In the end, it grew by about 300 students.)"

    Also from the article:

    "More school closures are far from a certainty. If the board votes to allow Goodloe-Johnson to start her evaluation, that simply would start the discussion of how many schools might be closed or merged, and how they would be chosen.

    But there does seem to be some momentum in that direction.

    "I'd rather close schools than lay off teachers and increase class sizes," said DeBell. "Or lay off custodians and have schools not be as clean, or lay off security staff and lessen the climate of security at schools."

    There's the pragmatic Michael DeBell talking. There's no way out of this budget deficit and hard choices have to be made. (And as I said before, the only real way to get more money into this district is to get more students enrolled. Is that going to happen? Probably not but cuts may not be enough.)

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Talking Heads Said It Best

    In their song, Life During Wartime, Talking Heads sang:

    This ain't no party
    This ain't no disco
    This ain't no fooling around...

    That was pretty much my reaction to seeing on the district webpage - Building Closures Being Considered - the letter about building closures that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson sent to staff and community members and the FAQs on building closures.

    The district once again (and for once, not of their own making, well, not entirely) is in a bad way financially. From what I have seen and heard over the last week or so, there is a sober mood at the headquarters.

    As I posted recently, the district is facing $24M in budget shortfall for 2009-2010. (Now why it's that much, I don't know for sure.) However, it could nearly double if the Legislature pulls back on I-728 money. Washington state's economy is doing poorly (better than the rest of the country but not great) and voters may send a signal to the Legislature to pull way back on spending. Since education is a huge part of the general fund, that's where the hit will come. And, if I-985 passes, there will be less money for education (as part of the general fund).

    The message I am getting is streamline, reduce and pare down. The district and the Board seem to be looking at closing buildings as a way to get there.

    As clearly as I can state it, the district wants (needs) to close buildings in order to save money. You'll note I said buildings, not schools. No doubt, there will be some programs (schools) that will end. But I think part of the effort may be to combine/co-house programs in an effort to save them (give them one last chance) while cutting building costs (and likely some personnel costs).

    Also, as I previously posted, Don Gilmore in Facilities recently told a West Seattle group that the district might want the Denny site for a future new elementary (while closing 3 unnamed elementaries). That seemed quite odd and off balance to me initially (yes, build a new school in the south end while the north end needs capacity). However, what I'm thinking is that the district is drowning in backlogged maintenance. The Facilities folks may perceive it more cost-efficient to shutter 3 buildings AND build a new one than try to keep up 3 buildings that are in poor condition.

    BUT, this approach does have its problems.

    1) there is a legal process to close a school. Now moving a program may not be the same as closing a building so I'd have to check to see. But I know that legally, it's about a one-year process to close a school. There's no quick savings to be had.
    2) the district would save money in closing buildings. However, they have a tendency to be lax on protecting those buildings (in use or not) and we end up with vandalism and rundown buildings. We should not keep a glut of buildings that are not being protected. Problem is, we don't have due maintenance on the buildings in use so shuttered buildings are the last on the maintenance list. And, which ones to sell/lease?
    3) the State Auditor did not just point out that we have too many buildings for too few students. He also pointed out how top heavy in personnel the headquarters is. I'd like to see some cuts there as well because it seems unfair to make school communities the only ones to lose. It also seems, now more than ever, a little unseemly for the Board to have given the Superintendent a raise after less than a year on the job.

    Also, as clearly as I can state it - there will be NO sacred cows this round of closures/consolidations. There will be consideration of the success of programs AND condition of buildings.

    Wait, you say, didn't that happen before? Yes, it did but now I believe it will be considered in a different manner. The district not only needs to save money but needs to get more students in the district.

    Melissa, that's crazy talk. Close buildings AND yet attract more students? Yes, kids, that's the scenario we need. And there's a couple of reasons why it could happen.

    1) the economy is going south. I hear that private schools are still doing well here in Seattle but penny-pinched folks may take a harder look at public schools (and thus an influx of new students)
    2) give the people what they want. If you have more traditional schools in decent buildings AND predictability in the assignment plan, bingo! I think you'll attract more people back.

    So how does that jive with buildings? The district may not only decide to close/consolidate some programs, it may MOVE some programs if it perceives it needs their building for more traditional capacity. For example, say there was an popular alternative school in a great building in an area that needs more capacity (especially to get back private school parents). Said area has little capacity and several of its buildings are in poor condition. You could move the alternative program to another building and create a K-8 or large K-5 to serve that area in the great building.

    I'm just tossing out scenarios here but the reality is coming at us like a runaway train.

    This district is going to experience some profound changes over the next 3-5 years. The amount of political courage that the Board is going to have to show will be great. They will have to face people from all corners even those who might least expect it. It will take a great overarching vision to make it happen and every decision needs to be explained in that context (and if it can't, it shouldn't happen).

    Educational Items of Interest

    From the UW website:

    The learning of science and math is a civil rights issue, and schools should give students broad participation in those areas as early as possible, says Philip Bell, a UW associate professor of learning sciences.

    Bell will deliver the College of Education's Fall Lecture, titled Pathways to Excellence and Equity in Science, Math and Engineering Learning, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, in the UW Tower auditorium. Admission is free, and a post-lecture reception will be held from 8:30 to 9 p.m.

    People learn about science and math in a wide range of settings -- classrooms, homes, online communities. As such, Bell says, education needs to be understood as taking place across a wide range of associated institutions -- schools, families and after-school clubs.

    Bell directs the ethnographic and design-based research of the Everyday Science and Technology Group. He has a background in human cognition and development, science education, electrical engineering and computer science. He has also developed Web-based learning platforms, designed and studied K-12 science curricula and currently conducts ethnographies of children's learning across social settings.

    To register for this event, visit online at www.UWalum.com or call 206-543-0540.

    Also from Woodland Park Zoo:

    Veterinary Career Day (in conjunction with WSU), Saturday, November 15 from 9:30-12:30

    Woodland Park Zoo's Animal Health professionals are teaming up with professors from one of the top veterinary schools in the country, Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, for this educational event. These professionals will provide you with firsthand knowledge of what it takes to be a veterinarian, while offering a detailed look at exciting career options and trends in veterinary medicine. Hear exciting stories from the field from the zoo's Director of Animal Health, Dr. Darin Collins, and his recent experiences in Indonesia. This informative program will be followed by a private animal-health focused zoo tour.
    This event is for students ages 15 - 22 and their parents.
    Space is limited. RSVP by Friday, November 7th: rsvp@zoo.org or by calling Susan Okazaki 206.548.2442.

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Update and Op Ed

    Well, I'm no fortune teller when I wrote yesterday that there needs to be some political courage about school closures but in today's PI there's a story about the Board making statements about school closures. From the article:

    "This is by no means a commitment to further school closures, but it is an honest realization that we have to look at every possible option because of the severity of our financial challenges," said School Board Vice President Michael DeBell.

    The board plans to meet Wednesday to discuss possible changes to its student-assignment plan, as well as short-term ways to ease overcrowding in schools in Northeast Seattle and Queen Anne/Magnolia.

    But "we now feel we have to widen the scope of this process because of the looming financial challenges we have," DeBell said.

    The projected deficit is a fraction of the district's annual operating budget of about $556 million, but would still mean significant cuts, such as layoffs or school closures.

    No decisions have been made yet on how to resolve the budget shortfall, but "we need to look at everything," said School Board President Cheryl Chow.

    "We have to put everything on the table to consider ... and it costs money to run buildings."

    And the stakes get higher:

    "District officials anticipated a $24 million shortfall in their 2009-10 budget, but say the deficit could grow to as much as $44 million if the state withholds Initiative 728 money because of the economic downturn. The initiative, aimed at reducing class size, was passed in 2000."

    And it could even get worse with this election. Here is an op-ed from the PI urging voters against I-985 that argues:

    "That prospect -- less for schools with no tax cut in return -- is one of the frightening aspects of Initiative 985, the impatient person's poorly considered scheme for addressing traffic congestion by throwing money from all over the state mainly at the problem in the Puget Sound area, probably not achieving much positive and making congestion worse in places. Initiative 985 would divert an estimated $290 million in the next biennium from the state's general fund, which pays for public schools, health care, law enforcement, higher education and other services, into a new traffic congestion relief account. Yes, it would come out of that general fund, the one already facing a $3.2 billion shortfall."

    What the national economy and Wall Street are seeing could be just as disastrous for our schools. Please read up on I-985 before voting on November 4th.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Just Checking and Look What I Found

    So I'm checking the Seattle Public Schools website and I click on information about capacity issues in the north end. They've updated it since the last Board meeting where, apparently, COO Don Kennedy presented an assessment of the different options. And boy, is it through. My head is spinning with the possibilities (and I'm still not sure what their recommendation is). I mean they give conclusions for differing scenarios but what they really think isn't clear (however, there is some spin to their rationales).

    And they also ran through a number of things to carry-over to the assignment plan that had been one year deals. I don't really have a problem with this (and is unclear to me if all of them passed but I suspect so). But a couple really stand out.

    One is the end date for waitlists. Instead of end of October, it may be moved to end of September. That's just about 3 weeks after school starts which is a pretty short time. The way the waitlists currently work once the waitlist is dissolved, you have no chance of getting into a school unless you are a new applicant to Seattle Public Schools and there is room at that school. Waitlists do move but 3 weeks seems awful fast. Maybe it won't matter as much under a new assignment plan but until we know how that will work, it seems a bit premature to do this.

    Two is Center School which they were voting to drop the distance tiebreaker and just have the tiebreakers be sibling and lottery. I know this was the wish of the student body but I have to point out that Center School was originally created to serve QA/Magnolia which had no high school. It hasn't really worked out because (1) it isn't a comprehensive high school and (2) it's very small and can't serve a lot of students. So by changing the tiebreakers that apply to Center School it seems to me a signal that the Board/district staff have plans for another high school for QA/Magnolia.

    Great but when? Where? And how, with budget problems and capacity problems do we justify keeping Center School at the Seattle Center? We spent $5M to fix up the area in Seattle Center and we are paying for a lease on the area. When the Seattle Center gets rebuilt, the Center School will have to move out for awhile and the district will likely be paying for upgrades/costs to whatever the new building will look like. Is this the vision for the district?

    I bring this up because it seems to me the district is NOT presenting a comprehensive vision for the district. This got brought up at the assignment plan meeting I attended. People don't want to attend endless meetings on various topics but want to see how it all fits together.

    When I see things like the idea that we may have a new high school somewhere and that we haven't reviewed how alternative schools are part of the vision of this district (and are all of them are meeting their mission given their above-average transportation costs, something we must consider in frugal times) AND I see different district staff saying widely varying things, I have to wonder about a coherent message.

    So what do I mean about different staff saying varying things? Well, it is clear in this document that staff believe we have too many buildings for too few students; in effect, concurring with the recent State Auditor's report. (And, they find the the 3-year old Ming report as well as other documents is plenty good enough for their opinions and yet we are still paying Ming for a brand-new Facilities report for the BTA levy. Interesting.)

    Then we have the BEX Manager, Don Gilmore, telling folks over in West Seattle that the district may want to reserve the Denny site for a new elementary school in the future (after closing three unnamed elementaries). Fascinating. This district would close not one, not two, but three buildings and then build a new one? (I'm sure the folks up in the NE/NW would appreciate the irony of lack of capacity in their area but the district is already thinking of building elsewhere.) I'm sure there's some reasoning in there somewhere but again, it's staff saying seemingly off the wall things at one meeting with no coherent central vision to give it legs.

    I know we will have to close more schools. There has to be some political courage on this issue. But if we move programs around like pieces on a chess board (seemingly because "there's room") without a clear and concise vision, then we will have many more problems down the road.

    What is our district's vision for the assignment plan, our facilities and where programs are located? Inquiring minds want to know (and know soon).

    At Long Last... Answers on Denny-Sealth

    Seattle Public Schools Facilities Department has finally answered questions that were asked at the public meeting of February 4, 2008. After only six months, the District has answers to these questions. The answers on the web site may still appear as "Response in progress as of 2/8/08" but here are the answers from Don Gillmore:

    On the WEB there were four questions that had the “Response in progress” notation for which you requested updated information. They are:

    1. Pink Room Question #25

    Question: What are current independent security stats for each of the schools?

    Response: Historic security stats for each school are on each individual school website. The information on the website includes disciplinary actions by year related to suspensions and expulsions (click on School Test Data and click on School Outcome Profile and scroll down). In addition, each school website has the “Student Climate Survey” which includes questions related to the school’s general climate (feeling safe).

    2. Green Room Question #4

    Question: Will Boren meet requirements for I.B. Program, facilities and IT? Some for Science Labs?

    Response: The BEX team worked closely with the Sealth assistant principal in planning the move and facilities upgrades during the summer and fall of 2008. At the beginning of school (2008/09) the upgraded Boren facilities adequately met the major program needs of Sealth.

    3. Green Room #13

    Question: What kind of increase in ongoing safety personnel budget will come with co-location? Teachers feel that it is currently inadequate.

    Response: The safety and security budgets are reviewed every year as a part of the normal annual budgeting process. The security budget allocation will be determined in the spring of 2009-10 for the 2010-11 school year. At that time the security needs will be assessed and security FTE assigned for 2010/11. Although some teachers may not be comfortable with this process, it is the normal district procedure.

    In addition, Sealth students will move back to the remodeled site in 2010-2011 before Denny moves in some time in 2011. As a result, the Denny and Sealth students will not be on the same campus until 2011. This time gap provides an opportunity for Sealth to adjust to the new site and become acclimated before Denny arrives later in the year.

    4. Green Room #14

    Question: What is the plan during the transition to a “culture of safety” since it will be an ongoing work in progress?

    Response: Each principal and their leadership teams are responsible for developing safety plans. Since the co-location will be phased in it is anticipated that Sealth will be the first to assess the site and the safety needs. As mentioned in previous discussions, the principals and their leadership teams would examine issues like: separate start times, separate lunch times, or same lunch times with some separation etc. to reduce mixing at the same time in the same places if that is their intention. Architecturally, the entrances and drop off areas are on opposite sides of the campus and qualified middle school children will be on yellow buses while high school students will be on Metro.

    So all of you who doubted that those questions would ever be answered, can now have greater confidence in the Facilities Department, their openness, and the sincerity of their commitment to community engagement.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    FYI - High School Math Adoption

    I just got this information (brief though it is) from the Seattle Council PTSA. I could find no mention of it at the SPS website.

    Deadline: October 24, 2008!
    Seattle Public Schools is now accepting applications for the HS Math Curriculum Adoption Committee for grades 9-12.

    Bernardo Ruiz Coordinator of Family and Community Engagement

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Upcoming Assignment Plan Meetings

    I'll just be brief on these upcoming meetings (the first this Thursday at Ingraham High School at 6:30). It is my understanding that these are to be informational meetings. There will be some historical overview given as well as our system now and what some of the issues are around how kids get assigned to schools. I stress informational because I doubt any real specifics will be discussed. You can bring them up but I'm not sure any real answers will be forthcoming.

    I attended a meeting (by invitation) at the district to talk about the format of these meetings (I believe Charlie attended another one as well). It was a bit confusing because I left not really knowing what the district was trying to get out of these meetings and what parents should leave with.

    I may try to attend one of them but if I don't get there, I hope someone else will let us know if they learned anything new from attending.

    Education Politics

    The NY Times had an interesting op-ed called "Last Call" (this was right before the last presidential debate) and here was the education question:

    "Last year, the federal government reported that 25,000 public schools of (90,000) were labeled as "failing" as a consequence of the No Child Left Behind legislation. There is growing evidence that most schools will become failing schools if the law sticks to its deadline that all children must be proficient in math and reading by 2014. One recent study published in Science magazine predicted that nearly all of California's elementary schools would fail by 2014 under current provisions of the law. How would you change the law so that it helps schools improve instead of stigmatizing them?"
    Diane Ravitch, professor of education, NYU and assistant secretary of education, 1991-1993

    Nearly ALL of California's elementary schools would fail? I'm sorry, any law that creates a situation that would pronounce all these schools as failures cannot be a success. It makes no sense, it surely is demoralizing and if they are all failures, then what? A federal takeover of the entire California K-12 education system?

    I post this after listening to the interviews of both candidates for state superintendent by Austin Jenkins. Unfortunately, both interviews were very locked into the WASL but that seems to be the focus of education today (for better or worse). Here is a link to the TVW website where you can watch these interviews as well as others.

    From the interview with our current superintendent, Terry Bergeson:
    • She believes that math standards should be based on state standards and not standards set by the federal government
    • By Christmas, there should be a decision on science standards which can be taken to the Legislature for a vote
    • Mr. Jenkins, a young and earnest guy, was a fairly good interviewer in that he was relentless on not giving up on a question. He repeatedly asked her why, if she had been working on the WASL for 12 years, she thought the public should give her another 4. He also seemed to get a personal response from her when he asked her about the WEA giving their support to her opponent, Randy Dorn. She said it did hurt as she used to be the head of the WEA and felt very close to the organization.
    From the interview with Randy Dorn:
    • His main focus on the WASL is to use the parts that are working (writing and reading), find another test's math portion that will work for us, and streamline and shorten the test so it takes 2-3 days to give not 2 weeks.
    • He mainly stressed the word "diagnostic" over and over and said the test should help parents, teachers and students.
    • OSPI has been at it for 12 years and we still don't have a workable math and science portion.
    • The Legislature had to force OSPI to revamp the math portion.
    I support Mr. Dorn but with reservations. Mr. Dorn is a former legislator as well as educator so he brings some solid experience to this job. However, he attempt to get a law passed that would have benefited only him and another employee of the Public School Employees union so that they could get retirement benefits from two state sources. (The bill died in the Senate.) That is troubling.

    But Mr. Dorn is very articulate and focused. I agree with the need to streamline and shorten the WASL and most importantly, make it a useful tool for parents, students and teachers.

    Watch Out In Those School Zones

    From the PI's Seattle 911 Blog:

    "Top city brass were in West Seattle on Monday morning to unveil the Seattle police speed van – a vehicle they hope will increase safety in school zones.

    The van's photo radar was first used in July when Seattle officers gave school-zone speed warnings during the last week of summer school.

    Police say the van will be used this year at eight Seattle public elementary schools: Bagley, Broadview-Thompson, Bryant, Blaine, Gatewood, Schmitz Park, Stevens and West Woodland.

    From July to September, 809 warnings were issued, according to the department. The $189 tickets were first issued by the van last week.

    But if you get nailed by the speed van for breaking the 20-mph speed limit, there is a silver lining: The violation does not go on your driving record, and photo radar can only be enforced where school zones are properly marked."

    I've read where and when school zones are enforced and it's somewhat vague. In light of these new vans (plus I've seen a couple of spots where police are parked and waiting), everyone should just slow down near schools. And not just elementary schools but ALL schools.

    Where are the reconstitution plans for Aki and AAA?

    Seattle Public Schools has two schools in Step Five of sanctions under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) elements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA): Aki Kurose Middle School and the African-American Academy. Those schools in step five are required to restructure. When the schools were in step four of sanctions last year they were required to write plans for their restructuring. This year, in step five, they are required to implement those plans.

    So what are they doing? How is Aki Kurose or the AAA getting restructured? Where are their plans? What is being done to comply with the federal law? Why isn't everyone in the District leadership talking about this?

    From the OSPI's description of NCLB sanctions:
    Step Four

    In this step, school districts are required to undertake "school restructuring." The district has one year to prepare a restructuring plan with an implementation timeline for schools in this step. The plan must be implemented the following year if the school does not make AYP again and enters Step Five.

    The restructuring plan needs to include at least one of the following three actions:
    • Replace school staff, which may include the school principal, who are relevant to the school's inability to meet standards;
    • Enter into a contract with an entity with a demonstrated record of effectiveness, to operate the school; or
    • Implement other restructuring activities that are consistent with the principles of restructuring.

    The district must provide technical assistance that emphasizes (a) the importance of improving instruction by using strategies grounded in scientifically-based research so that all students achieve proficiency in the core academic subjects of reading and mathematics, and (b) the importance of analyzing and applying data in decision-making. The district must also continue to offer public school choice and supplemental educational services to all eligible students.

    Each of these schools got a new principal last year. Aki Kurose also got a new principal this year and will get another new principal next year. Yeah, that's right. Four principals in four years for Aki Kurose. How is the school supposed to turn around with revolving door leadership?

    If SPS thinks that they can pass off the change in principals as their version of "restructuring" I have to wonder who is going to allow them to get away with that sort of deception. I don't recall anyone saying that the former principals were relevant to the schools' inability to meet standards. Without saying that, replacing the principals won't count as meeting the requirements of the law.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Instruction Time

    There is an article in the Seattle Times today about the number of hours of instruction a student receives in the 10 comprehensive high schools. Only 2 of the schools meet the criteria of 150 hours of instruction per class per school year.

    I have to say that this is one of my biggest gripes. At Rainier Beach, we have twenty 2-hour late arrival and early dismissal days during the year. On those days, each of the 6 periods only meets for 35 minutes. I don't feel that is enough time for any sort of new instruction, so I have these days be "work and review" days. I hate this for a couple of reasons. The students get cheated out of instruction and the time the teachers spend in the morning or afternoon is usually very unproductive. Last year, for example, most of the twenty days was spent on district-mandated training for a Language Arts program called Reading Apprenticeship. Now I'm sure this is a fine program, but when I talked to our LA teachers about it, they kind of rolled their eyes and told me they were already doing all of these techniques. Of course, as math teacher, I found those days to be a total waste of my time. Is reading important? Absoulutely, it is. I have a sign in my room that says: "Reading is Freedom." I believe that totally and completely. However, I strongly believe that all that time could of been more effectively used, if the math teachers were meeting, working on how to be more effective teachers of math, not more effective teachers of reading.

    In the article, there were many comments about how the methodology used to calculate time spent in the classroom was incorrect. Well, that may or may not be true, but the big picture question about instruction time is very clear. Students don't spend nearly enough time in class. At Rainier Beach, we have a 15 minute break in between 2nd and 3rd period and then we spend 20 minutes at the end of 4th period doing Student Silent Reading. All we need to do to have a 7 period day is do away with those two things and add 15 minutes to the end of the day. Now the students would get significantly more instruction and the students who are struggling in reading or writing or math could take a support class to help bring them up to grade level. That would be a much better way to increase student learning.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Say no to vouchers

    In last night's final presidential debate, John McCain raised the subject of school vouchers as a solution in Washington DC.  Unfortunately, Sen. Obama did not refute the argument as strongly as many of us would have liked.  

    Vouchers are essentially government funded scholarships that enable some poor kids to attend private schools.  They are different from charter schools, which are essentially public schools outsourced to private companies.  (The two are often confused.)

    Vouchers are one of those political talking points that sound great in theory:  give poor kids a chance to go to private schools instead of failing public schools.  In reality, this equates to spending precious funds to add a couple more lifeboats to the Titanic rather than spending that money to save the ship from sinking.  McCain (as Bush before him) touted how the millions of dollars spent in DC gave a few thousand kids the opportunity to attend private schools.  And what about the other kids in the failing schools?  Perhaps this policy approach should be called "Tens of Thousands of Children Left Behind".

    There are many other issues raised by the idea of sending public tax dollars to private schools:

    - Private schools get to decide who they admit or not.   They are not mandated to accept special education kids or English language learners.  They can deny admission to any "difficult" kids.   They can use criteria like athletic skills, if they like.

    - Private schools do not have the same government regulations and oversight as public schools.  No "No Child Left Behind" rules.  No WASL.  No standards for curriculum.  

    - Many private schools don't need the money.  They may not have billion dollar endowments like Exeter, but many have scholarship funds already in place since they understand the value of diversity (including economic diversity) in their student population.   In general, private schools are able to charge more per student than government per-student funding for public schools, and they can usually raise more money in their fund drives.  (All this while they have the ability to use admission requirements to limit children who are the most expensive to educate.)  You certainly don't hear of many private schools who are so short on funds that they are forced to consider 4 day schools weeks.

    This is not intended to be a rant against private schools.  Many private schools do great work for the children they serve.  Many are very generous to their communities.   Many serve specific needs, like faith-based curriculum.  Not all are wealthy.  Parents should maintain the right to educate their children where they want.  But on the subject of vouchers I believe the answer is clear:   Public dollars (more, not less) should be spent on public schools, fulfilling the promise in our country so central to the future health of our society:  that all children deserve a quality education.

    Once again, the District is at risk

    Every year the Board routinely passes a motion about every school having a school improvement plan. Every year it is a lie. Every year it puts the state basic education funding - $200 million - at risk.

    Here's what the motion says:
    "I move that the Seattle School Board approve the method of review of C-SIPs outlined by the Chief Academic Officer, accept the Chief Academic Officer’s certification that each school in the District has complied with WAC 180-16-220, and approve the schools within the District."

    You will notice that the motion is very careful to say that the Board does not, itself, attest to the fact that each school in the District has complied with the law. No. They only vote to approve the method used by Ms Santorno to confirm the fact and they then accept her certification of it. Based on this certification, they attest to the state that each school has a plan that complies with the state law.

    There is, however, no reference anywhere in the motion or in the supporting materials about Ms Santorno's "method of review". What is this "method of review" that they are approving? We don't know.

    Moreover, we do know that it is highly unlikely that even ONE of the nearly 100 school Continuous School Improvement Plans complies with the requirements of the state law.

    I strongly encourage you all to read the law: WAC 180-16-220.

    You will see that it requires every school to have a school improvement plan, that every plan must be based on a self-review, that students and families must have an active role in the self-review, and that every plan must contain specific elements including discussions of the use of technology, educational equity, non-academic student learning and growth, and family involvement.

    Most of our Continuous School Improvement Plans are missing most of these elements. All of them are missing at least one of these elements. We are unquestionably out of compliance with this law.

    Of course we have been out of compliance with this law for years without notable negative consequences. So what difference does it make? The State Board of Education is supposed to enforce this law and they pointedly refuse to do so. So if the cops won't bust you for it, then it must be legal, right? At least for all practical purposes, right?

    Well that sort of pragmatism will only take you so far.

    There is another state law, RCW 28A.645.010. This law allows any citizen to appeal any decision of a school board to superior court. If a citizen, pretty much any citizen, pays the $200 to file in superior court and serves the District with a notice of the filing, they can challenge the Board's approval of this motion.

    I know that the District staff isn't concerned about compliance with the law, and the Board isn't concerned about compliance with the law, and the State Board of Education isn't concerned about compliance with the law, but I suspect that a superior court judge might actually have some respect for the law and expect it to be followed.

    By failing to comply with this law, the schools, Ms Santorno, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, and the Board create a risk that any citizen with an axe to grind could hold up 40% of the District's budget for several months - the time it would take for the District to comply.

    I have warned them of this risk for three years and I warned them again this year, yet they refuse to comply with the law. I don't know why they roll these dice.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    More on Assignment Plan and Capacity Issues

    There's a Board Workshop re Student Assignment Plan, Wednesday, October 29, 3-7 pm in the Auditorium followed by a Special Board Meeting re 2009/10 Student Assignment and Capacity Recommendations at 8 pm.

    I wouldn't go mixing those two up. I believe the Board Workshop is just to work on the new assignment plan which will encompass many issues including capacity issues in the north. The Special Board Meeting is just about the tweaks for the current assignment plan for the 2009-2010 school year. Whether these tweaks survive to the new and improved Assignment plan remains to be seen.

    So if you have nothing else to do for 5-7 hours during that time period, you should make plans to attend.

    Dualing Op-Eds for Terry Bergeson

    A few threads back I posted an op-ed in the PI by David Marshak, a professor education, about Terry Bergeson, the state superintendent. He felt she had started off with the best of intentions for the WASL and allowed it to slowly get out of control.

    Now there is an op-ed in today's PI defending her. It is by former "education" governor, Gary Locke, and Bill Brinstein, the chairman of the state Higher Education Coordinating Board. They contend she has done a good job. (Mr. Marshak's op-ed had the word "tragedy" in it and this one has the word "triumph", hence the dualing titles.) From their op-ed:

    "Today our students have the nation's top SAT scores among states that test at least 50 percent of their students. We have quadrupled student participation in Advanced Placement courses. We see record numbers of students with record test scores applying to our state's colleges and universities. And we are strengthening our career and technical education programs."

    They assert:

    "The process of reforming and bolstering academic standards is messy, but to claim that the process here in Washington wasn't managed simply doesn't square with the facts. Bergeson led the difficult but rewarding work of building partnerships with classroom teachers, parents, higher education institutions and business leaders to prepare all students for college, careers and citizenship."

    Here's where I would disagree. Oh, she managed the process here in Washington but did she do it well? No. Is there clarity after nearly a decade of wrestling with the WASL? No.

    She built partnerships with parents? When and where? Do parents get real and concrete information about how their student is doing in school from the WASL? Not really. Do teachers get real and concrete information about their students from the WASL? Not really.

    I do not support their premise at all especially from a former governor who sure made a lot of promises to education that weren't kept.

    A New High School Choice for SPS?

    Here's something I missed on tonight's Board agenda; okaying a joint agreement with Highline School district (directly south of SPS) as Highline's Aviation High will be housed in the Museum of Flight by fall 2010. There was this article about it in today's PI. From the article:

    "Technically, the site is on Seattle Public Schools' turf, about one-third of a mile from the district's southern boundary. So the two districts want to strike a deal, one that would allow Highline to build and operate its school at the new site and to ensure the Seattle district benefits from having the high school within its boundaries."


    "There are still key points to work out. Seattle school officials want Highline to promise a certain number of the high school's spots to Seattle students, for example, and that the agreement would be reviewed annually. There are also logistics to consider, such as whether transportation would be provided to the school, and if so, which district would be responsible for paying for it. Highline opened the magnet school in 2004, offering a traditional college-prep curriculum with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math courses.

    The school has been housed at temporary locations since it opened. It is a public school, but has capped enrollment at about 400 students and has a rigorous application process."

    We don't have any real magnet high schools(okay, Center School) so this would be a first. I looked at their FAQs and they are pretty hardcore on the aviation part. I tried to look up how their admissions process works but could not access the page. I'm not sure how many SPS students would try to access it given how far south it is.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    North Capacity Plan(s) to Be Unveiled at School Board Meeting

    Capacity plans for the NE/NW/QA/Magnolia will be presented at the School Board meeting tomorrow (it's from 6-9 p.m. at the headquarters). I am unable to attend. Here is the link to the agenda item. From it:

    "A Board work session is scheduled for October 29, after which it is anticipated that – based on the work session as well as on public input – a revised motion will be developed to reflect specific recommendations on capacity issues. This will allow for additional Board consideration and public input prior to the November 12 meeting at which action on these issues is scheduled."

    They are considering making tweaks to the student assignment plan this year based on items that would sunset for the upcoming school year. They include:

    • Extend provisions for dual waiting lists at John Stanford International School to other dual language/international school programs.
    • Eliminate the distance tiebreaker for The Center School and for South Lake Alternative School.
    • Move the waiting list deadline from October 31 to September 30.
    • Establish provisions for processing applications of twins/multiples.

    Eliminating the distance tiebreaker for The Center School is an interesting one because normally only alternative schools have no distance tiebreaker. While The Center School is considered a "non-traditional" school, it is NOT alternative according to the district. But, from the agenda:

    "Since tiebreakers for The Center School would then match the tiebreakers used for processing applications to Nova, the coding change does not require additional research and is easy to implement."

    So The Center School would be processed like Nova, an alternative school. In fact, they had the distance tie-breaker precisely so more QA/Magnolia kids would have first crack at it because they have no comprehensive high school in their area. I know Center School wanted this because they wanted more diversity but it also means that QA/Magnolia kids lose out. I wonder if this is because they intend to create a high school for them in the next year or so.

    There appear to be other recommendations such as giving dual-cluster status to Olympic Hills and B.F. Day so that kids outside the cluster could get transportation to them - I don't think many parents will be interested in this option..

    Also on the agenda:

    - an update on the SE Initiative by Carla Santorno, CAO

    - voting to approve almost $700,000 for a review of all buildings for the BTA levy. They said at a BTA levy meeting that this would create a database but the language in the agenda says "Provide the District an update to the existing 2006 data base on the existing condition of our school facilities and the academic adequacy of said facilities."
    It also says:
    "Provide a more transparent process for public understanding and participation in the capital levy planning process."
    Well, it might be more transparent for the next round of levies but certainly not for this one as the public nomination period for buildings will be over before this is finished.

    -the Board will also be voting on its Legislative agenda which is:

    The 2009 proposed agenda is focused on three areas:
    • Support of the basic education funding task force recommendations
    • Support for increased funding in core operating and capital areas
    • Support of the Core 24 high school proposal

    Interesting that they are supporting the Core 24 high school proposal without discussion with parents. I don't know if I missed these discussions but I wasn't aware they were soliciting opinions on this subject.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Education Advisors to the Presidential Candidates

    Next Tuesday, Columbia University's Teachers College is holding a fascinating event live on the web. I'm guessing it will be more interesting than the debate happening this week between the two candidates, particularly for those people who want to know what education policy might look like under the next administration.

    On Tuesday, October 21st, at 7 pm, Teachers College will host "Education and the Next President," a debate between Linda Darling-Hammond, education advisor to Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, and Lisa Graham Keegan, education advisor to Republican nominee John McCain. It will be Web Cast live. See the website below for more information: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news/article.htm?id=6695

    Student Assignment Meetings Announced

    Tell your friends, your neighbors, anyone you know with a child who may be enrolling in Seattle Public Schools - the district has announced public meetings on this issue.

    Here's the web page at the district's website.

    Here are the meeting dates:

    Thursday, October 23, 2008
    6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    Ingraham High School
    1819 North 135th Street

    Interpreters: Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese

    Monday, October 27, 2008
    6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    Rainier Beach High School
    Paul Robeson Performing Arts Center
    8815 Seward Park Avenue South

    Interpreters: Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese

    Saturday, November 1, 2008
    10:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
    John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence
    2445 3rd Avenue South

    Interpreters: Amharic, Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Tigrigna, Vietnamese

    It doesn't say on the website but I believe they are still aiming for a new plan for enrollment in Spring of 2010 with students under the new plan (well, many of them) starting in Fall of 2010.

    I cannot emphasize enough the need to attend a meeting to get a full story. The next meetings after these will likely be in Spring 2009 and will probably have one plan with several options. The time to tell the district what you want is NOW.

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Op-Ed on Math Wars in Sunday Times

    This is a good op-ed from Ted Nutting, a math teacher at Ballard high school who teaches, among other courses, AP Calculus. He is clearly on the side of old-school math and makes no apologies for it. From the piece:

    "The problem is national in scope, but in Washington state our difficulties can be traced principally to Terry Bergeson, superintendent of public instruction for the past 12 years. She oversaw the writing of our state's weak, vague math standards, basing them on a "reform" idea to promote "discovery" learning. This has turned teachers into "facilitators" who "guide" children in learning activities. It has promoted "differentiated instruction," placing students of wildly differing abilities together where some students cannot do the required work, often to the detriment of those who can.

    She has moved away from rigorous testing. The "reform" math she champions encourages such things as journals, portfolios and group projects that tend to form large parts of classroom grading systems, while test results are relegated to a lesser role. The math portion of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), aligned to her faulty standards, tests math skills at a low level. Even so, about half our 10th-graders fail it."

    He talks about his own experience:

    "My experience tells me that we can fix this, and quickly. I am the Advanced Placement calculus teacher at Ballard High School. I don't teach Bergeson-style. I tell my students what they need to know, they do problems to understand how it works, and they demonstrate their knowledge and understanding through testing. Up until this year, we've insisted that our students who take AP calculus actually be able to do the work.

    We at Ballard have by far the best AP calculus program in Seattle Public Schools, based on AP test scores. I have no special magnetism or charisma; I'm not a cult figure for teenagers. I have high standards and I require the students to work. If they don't work, they know they will probably flunk. But they do work, and I am proud of them. I also have the benefit of having an older textbook that doesn't fit the "reform math" model, and most of my students have had an excellent pre-calculus teacher the year before."

    But he admits most of the other math classes follow the "reform" model and

    "Since we find that many students in our classes cannot do the work, we dumb down the courses."

    He goes on to say,

    "Unfortunately, things are changing, even in our school's AP calculus classes: We're starting to admit unqualified students, and our program will soon begin to deteriorate."

    I don't know if this is an opening shot against the Roosevelt model (via the district's wishes) of putting all students in an AP class.

    He does point out the North Beach abandoned the reform model and stuck to Saxon math with great results.

    "North Beach did this with reluctant agreement from Seattle Public Schools because the PTA paid for the books and because the superintendent supported site-based decision-making. North Beach's passing rate on the WASL rose from 68 percent in 2000 to 94 percent in 2004 — and yet, every year parents worry that real math will be scrapped. Recently, the school has had to seek waivers to avoid having to teach the district's "reform" math."

    He does on to talk about what is happening with state math adoption:

    "The Legislature had required that the new mathematics standards be based on (among other things) the standards of Singapore, consistently a leader on international tests, but Bergeson's initial submission of texts ranked Singapore Math, that country's official curriculum (and a superior one), dead last out of 12.

    Most school-district administrations have gone along with Bergeson and share responsibility for this mess. Even as an uproar arose nationally against the programs Bergeson promotes, Seattle started using two of them in elementary and middle schools."

    It may be too little too late but I'm sure glad he spoke up.

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Increasing Crime at Roosevelt

    I had heard about these incidents at and around Roosevelt and now they made the news in today's PI.

    There has been an uptick in crime around Roosevelt, mostly robbery with assault. Only one incident that I know of happened near the school on the sidewalk outside the school grounds.

    (Interestingly, my co-president witnessed it - she knew the student since he was in kindergarten - and rushed to try to help. I myself stepped in to break up an assault at our get-ready day at Roosevelt between two girls at the start of school. Those of you who know me know I'm pint-sized and yet I was surprised at the number of adults who praised me and yet said they wouldn't have stepped between the two girls. I get that I could get hurt but who is going to intervene if adults don't? That said, I would likely only call 911 or shout at attackers on the street because of the possibility of a weapon being involved.)

    I give our principal, Brian Vance, props for sending home information (as well as via e-mail to those who had provided an address) telling parents these incidents had happened, what was being done to try to protect students and what students need to do to protect themselves (i.e. be vigilant and try to avoid any groups of kids they don't know).

    This is not unheard of activity around high schools. But this crime wave around Roosevelt has the suspicious ring of gang activity. We're hoping not.

    What doesn't help is that we have a couple of slumlords around the Roosevelt area (indeed, the entire block across from Roosevelt is boarded up houses). They own close to 60 properties that are in various states of decay. The area does look rundown and may have led these thugs to believe that it is a neighborhood that doesn't care. Which is not true but it is near impossible to get these slumlords to change their ways. In the incident near the school, many people sprang into action to help the student, coming from the school, the QFC near the school and from houses. I hope that this shows these thugs that good people will not ignore crime and will rise up against them.

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    Former Bellevue Super Dies

    Highly influential former Bellevue superintendent, Mike Riley, died yesterday. He was 58. Here is the story from today's Times.

    I bring this to your attention because Mr. Riley brought real and concrete change to the Bellevue School District. Whether you agree or not with what his vision was, he was a force for change. He had left Bellevue district to work for the College Board that administers SATs and AP tests.

    When the Bellevue teachers were on strike this fall some of their grievances stemmed from his legacy of trying to laser-focus curriculum and encourage all students to aim higher. The teachers' complaint was the the curriculum was too automated and left them with little room to individualize.

    Interestingly, an article in the Times during the strike had a chart that laid out his legacy. I had read it (and saved it) intending to blog about it because the results were so striking. Here is some of it:

    In 1997 and 2007 (my apologies, I tried to do this in a chart format but couldn't make it work)

    Number of students taking AP exams: 210/2,263
    Number of AP exams taken: 297/4,794
    % of all 9-12 grade students participating in AP testing 4%/40%
    Low-income grads with AP/IB on transcript N/A/75%
    Dropout rate 17%/10%
    National Board certified teachers 1 (in 2000)/158
    AP test by:
    African-American students 2/70
    Hispanic 6/169
    Graduates who took (and earned a passing grade) in at least 1 AP/IB class
    55%(2002) /83% (2007)

    This is important because it seems Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is going in this direction. Many of you may not know because you don't have high school students but next Wednesday, all freshman, sophomore and juniors are going to take the PSAT (the preliminary SAT which normally juniors take and determines National Merit scholarships). The district received a grant from Boeing to do this. Normally, it costs about $18 to take the test. In the letter sent home:

    "The purpose of the test is to give all students an opportunity to experience taking a college readiness test and to identify students who might benefit from advanced coursework. Even if your child has not yet decided to attend college, I urge you to make sure he or she participates."

    I'm not sure I agree that freshman should take it but I give the superintendent credit for trying it. What is unclear is how many students will show up that day. The letter doesn't make it clear but no student has to take the test. I'm sure some will skip out on it (it will take most of the morning to give and most schools will have shortened periods in the afternoon). Seniors are to work on their senior projects.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    Who Mentioned Education at Last Night's Debate?

    It was Obama. When McCain and Obama were asked to rank what order they would place different issues (entitlement reform, health care or energy) to work on, Obama said energy, health care and then, instead of entitlement reform, he said education.

    "And, number three, we've got to deal with education so that our young people are competitive in a global economy."

    I was really pleased and surprised even though it was only one sentence and the only mention of education. It seems to rank high in his mind.

    For the record, Senator McCain said (and I'm just putting in the last sentence because it covers the question), " But we can do them all at once. There's no -- and we have to do them all at once. All three you mentioned are compelling national security requirements."

    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    BTA Meeting

    I attended the first community meeting to discuss the future BTA levy. I came away somewhat confused and not feeling good about public engagement. There were 3 staff members, 1 Board member (Peter Maier) and about 8 members of the public.

    One thing to correct from the get-go that I erroneously stated before is that this is a maintenance levy. This is NOT a maintenance levy. It is the smaller scale capital projects in the areas of buildings, technology and academics. Maintenance, as it was explained, are projects without a hammer (landscaping, painting, small repair). The BTA projects range from roofs and window replacement to carpeting. It is a workhorse levy as I termed it previously but it is not a maintenance levy. (My apologies for any confusion.)

    Here's the PowerPoint that was presented. As Charlie mentioned in my post announcing the meetings, it's not all that helpful and somewhat tedious. There were 5 pages of "district" information which I was told they are required to say at every meeting. It was annoying because yes, we did run out of time at the end of the meeting for questions and discussion.

    Here's the district's overview:
    "The purpose of this project is to provide the voters of the Seattle Public Schools the opportunity to approve a new six-year Buildings, Technology,
    and Academics levy (BTA III) in 2010 thus renewing the BTA II levy which expires in 2010. The scope of work will outline a four-phased project. Phase 1 will be the hiring and management of a consultant contract to evaluate building conditions and develop cost estimates for the BTA III levy. Phase 2 will be to gather stakeholder input on the identification of future BTA III projects. Phase 3a will be environmental review, if necessary. Phase 3b will develop a draft project list along with levy amounts for review and approval by the Seattle School Board. Phase 4 will be the levy document materials preparation and filing of said documents with King County Elections.

    So we are in Phase 1, hiring a consultant. I had been confused about this because we had just had a survey done 3 years ago. From the PowerPoint:

    "Evaluation of the condition of the buildings at 87 sites which include open schools, inventoried/surplus schools, Memorial Stadium, and John Stanford Center. Also included are the academic adequacy and a seismic evaluation of these same buildings."

    From the first survey done by a company called Meng Analysis:

    "In the fall of 2005, Meng Analysis was commissioned byt he Seattle Public Schools to complete a comprehensive survey of the School District facilities. The School District prioritized 80 schools that were to receive building condition surveys, and 73 that were to receive educational adequacy surveys.

    The building condition surveys are a comprehensive report on each of the major building systems for the selected schools, with a qualitiative condition assessment as well as a listing of maintenance and repair deficiencies for each of the building systems. In addition, a structural review was conducted to assess seismic conditions."

    You can see how similar they sound. What is different (and it took me calling Meng to clearly understand) is that it will include buildings they did not do previously as well as BEX I buildings. I had wondered why they just couldn't do the buildings they missed last time (and save some money, budgeted at $600,000-700,000). But, they are going to create a database of the buildings that will allow them to cross-reference what happens and/or is needed. (According to the district, this is all on paper. Go figure. My thought was why didn't they do this 4 years ago?)

    This will likely keep them more-up-to date but it doesn't make a dent in the backlogged maintenance. (The state recommends 4% of the general fund for maintenance, the district had been at 2% about 10 years ago and now is at 1%. I think this is why the State Auditor gave them a wag of the finger for not doing enough preventive maintenance.)

    The district will still have to hire consultants for cost estimates though because, as they stated, district staff are not experts and cannot make those estimates.


    • page 7 is a list of ages of buildings in the district. Fourteen percent of the buildings are older than 1920, between 4-6% are 1920-1949, 20% are 1950-1959, 11% are between 1960-69, 6-7% between 1970-89, 10% 1990-1999 and 16% are between 2000-2009. The problem with this chart, as someone pointed out, is that a building can be from 1930 but have been rebuilt.
    • The district says 13% of bldgs "make a positive contribution to education environment, 19% are suitable buildings, 32% are "compatible with intended use/design but need remodeling and 36% are "not compatible with intended use/design."
    • The district sure sticks to labels that are vague or inaccurate. They still say they are remodeling the building at South Shore (and never call it what it is - New School) and they continue to list Secondary BOC on the BEX II list even though all their money was lost to Garfield's project. They say something will happen for that community but is now 7 years and nothing has happened.
    • Here's the description for Denny/Sealth: "Implementation of the Denny-Sealth Campus Plan, including a new Denny building, new common facilities and a renovated Chief Sealth building. Honestly, does that sound like a joint building? You could read that and believe that each is being rebuilt close by each other with some shared facilities. Why the district can't speak clearly on projects is mystifying.
    • There was some discussion about the athletic fields and replacement of synthetic turf. Turns out they have about a 6 year life, some were installed differently in different situations and thus wore differently. They are hoping for better outcomes this time but it was pointed out that the 6-year life doesn't necessarily correlate with the hours used given how many non-school uses these fields encounter.
    • It was stated that the consultant would be doing their assessments and parallel to that time, school staff would be asked for their input. Also the public can nominate buildings for projects. This is a bit of a sticky wicket because the forms can only be faxed or mailed (possibly handed in at your school's office but you have to hope they make it to the district). The fax number isn't even on the form. Public forms are due December 1, 2008 (although the consultants' work won't be done until Feb. 2009 so why the cut-off is December 1 more than a full year before the levy seems odd). They said that public nominations would be checked against the consultants' findings for any given school and a cost estimate made for the project. It was unclear to me how much weight any given input had. For example, if someone nominates their school for new windows but the consultant says the windows are okay for now, will they still do a cost estimate?
    • There will be Community Meetings on options in March 2009. There will be Board work sessions on the options during March-August 2009. They will announce their preferred options list in September of 2009. Basically, the public gets less than 2 months (October 1- December 1) to nominate schools for projects with 1 month to see the options list (March 2009) and make their choices known.
    I did try to point out that the Facilities department hasn't exactly endeared themselves to many communities and that they needed to be as open and transparent as possible in order to win over unhappy voters. It seems they want to but it has eluded them in the past and given that we had so little time for discussion during this meeting, I have to wonder.

    I also pointed out that on BTA II there was money put into buildings that either later closed (Columbia which used to house Orca but is now an interim building) or are being torn down (Denny). Between the Columbia building and Denny building there were 13 projects. I suggested that they need a long-term vision so they don't spend levy money on buildings with doubtful futures. I got a shrug and was told it wasn't that much money. No district staff person has any business shrugging off taxpayer dollars that have been mostly wasted.

    One thing happened that gave me pause in the district's widely-touted public engagement focus. There was another activist parent at the meeting and at one point, Fred Stephens, who is the head of the Facilities department, went over and sat by him and they had a 10-minute private conversation. Mr. Stephens was clearly not listening to the discussion going on. Now, in a larger meeting, this would have gone unnoticed but it's kind of hard to miss in a room with about 12 people. It felt somewhat disrespectful to the other people in attendance.

    Sunday, October 05, 2008

    Reminder about BTA Community Meetings

    UPDATE 10/6/08 -
    Here is a link to the Powerpoint that will be given at each community meeting.

    Just a reminder that this week are the district-sponsored meetings on the BTA levy (Buildings, Technology and Academics) that is coming up for a vote in Feb. 2010. True to form, these meetings are all in one week. (It is a never-ending mystery to me why all these meetings have to be the same week. I realize staff doesn't like having to work into the evening but it's also the nature of the job they have.) I'm going to the Broadview-Thompson meeting.

    When: October 6,8,0 and 10th from 6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.

    Where: Monday the 6th at Broadview-Thompson in the library
    Wednesday the 8th at Meany Middle in the library
    Thursday the 8th in Mercer Middle School
    Friday the 10th at West Seattle High in the library

    From the district website:

    "SPS is in the process of identifying capital needs and developing alternatives for the BTA III levy that will go before the voters in Feb. 2010. This will be the first opportunity to provide input on what projects should be included as part of the levy process, the potential amount the levy should be, and what percentage should be spent on building renovations, technology and academics."

    BTA 1 ran the gamut of projects with much PBX and other technology updates district-wide as well as several reroofings. There were at least 200 projects done at 60 schools. BTA II had "student workstations" as a label for many projects (but I'm not sure what it means). As well there were "mechanical systems" and library updates done at several schools. What is troubling about the BTA II list is very little work was done for life safety systems. I know that there are several schools that need some seismic work done.

    Also, because of the problems of lack of long-term vision and planning, BTA II had a couple of items that, now, look like money wasted. For example, from the voter flyer;

    "Orca School Science Facilities. Build new science annex and greenhouse to support conversion of the current K-5 program into a K-8 school - $2.25 million".

    This happened at when Orca was at Columbia but now they are at Whitworth. (It could be a small price to pay to NOT have to redo Columbia but it was still over $2M of work that is now sitting there.)

    Another example was this: "Montlake Elementary. Replace old portables at Montlake to provide a safe and healthy environment for teaching and learning - $500,000."

    Yes, this needed to be done but the problem is the whole building needs to be renovated and the district just can't figure out what to do. To rebuild Montlake means it would stay nearly the same size it is now which is about 266. The cost per student to rebuild a small school is prohibitive (its lot size doesn't allow a bigger building if it were rebuilt). I think the district would like to close Montlake but I can tell you from experience there is tremendous pushback from the community. But you can see the problem of trying to keep pace with a building that is getting worse.

    BTA II was for $178M; here's a link to the voter brochure.

    Here are two Big Picture problems.

    One, we are $400M behind in maintenance (and that's not including schools that need a total renovation). There are several reasons why but one key one is that the amount given for maintenance from the General Fund changed a decade or so ago (from 2% to 1%) and the district has fallen further and further behind. Indeed, the State Auditor's report points this out as a major problem for the district. So the district is almost treading water just to stay ahead.

    Two, the district has a delicate job in needing to ask for money because they will look greedy if they ask for too much (even though, yes, they need it) and not asking enough and continuing to fall behind in maintenance. However, the district has angered and alienated a number of voters on several capital issues in the recent past. This is a levy (and not a bond) so it only needs a simple majority to pass. However, the number of voters turning out has gotten lower so every vote counts (especially in an off-month election). As well, our economy has headed south so voters, by Feb. 2010, may be in no mood to give away money.

    I need to check and see if the agenda item at the last Board meeting for between $600,000-700,000 for a consultant to go over schools conditions again did pass. This is a puzzling request to me because a company called Meng just did a very thorough analysis during 2005-2006. It's hard to believe in 2-4 years that work has to be redone again.

    Personally, I think staff knows very well what needs to get done and I'm not sure how much traction either parents or school staff will have in giving input to the district. (It mentions in the BTA II overview that a survey was done of school staffs but I don't know if they are doing that this time.) However, the squeaky wheel does get the grease so I wouldn't be surprised if lots of phone calls and e-mails from a school to a Board member whose region includes that school might not get a little push.

    Is there something at your school that you think needs to get done?

    Friday, October 03, 2008

    Capacity Planning and Management Work Session

    Here is my account of the Board work session on capacity issues in the north end which was held on Wednesday, October 1st, 2008. Please note, this is not verbatim.

    All the Board members were present as was the Superintendent who did the overview sections of the presentation. Also at the table were Tracy Libros, head of Enrollment, and Kathy Johnson, from Facilities who the Phase I Manager (there are going to be two phases for this process; one started already and Phase II in January).

    Here is a link to the district webpage on this subject. Here is the link to the PowerPoint given by staff to the district. No handouts were available for the public but here is a link. (And, they seated the Board members in a u-shape around the screen so it was difficult for the audience to see the screen - the Board had handouts.)

    Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson said the goal of the meeting was to get a clear indication from the School Board on what measures to take for the school year 2009-2010 on the issue of lack of capacity in the north end elementaries.

    The timeline is as follows:
    -Oct 1 - Staff presentation to Board
    -Oct 8 - Send draft recommendations to Board Executive Committee and Program Placement Committee
    -Oct15 - Introduce at Board meeting draft recommendations to current Assignment Plan (an annual review) and capacity adjustments needing Board approval
    -Oct 15-Nov 12 - Public comment (it is not known how this will be carried out; there was no discussion)
    -Nov 12 - Board action on recommendations and capacity adjustments needing Board approval
    -Dec - Superintendent action on other recommendations

    Tracy Libros went over the capacity challenges which have been presented at the community meetings. They include:

    -overall decline in K-12 enrollment in the past 10 years by 2280 students
    -shortage of seats for 2009-2010
    -however, kindergarten is trending up the last 5 years; last year's K was 3,160 and this year's K was even higher (preliminary as final numbers were due on Oct. 1) by another 190 students
    -of note, she said that the preliminary numbers show a higher than expected enrollment in Rainier Beach HS, Aki Kurose and Cleveland and it was encouraging to see

    There is a chart in the presentation which shows the numbers needed for North, NE, NW and Queen Anne/Magnolia. They range from 12-17 next year for the North to 4-6 in QA/Magnolia.

    Kathy Johnson then went over the potential solutions but said "there could be solutions we haven't thought of yet". She stressed that the short-term solutions would be part of a long term plan (this was said repeatedly; they obviously heard parents at the meetings). She said that Sand Point, Old Hay and Magnolia schools were all ideas heard for reusing buildings and that repurposing Jane Addams was yet another idea.

    Director Carr asked if they had considered the impact of developments in the north-end and Tracy said yes. (I will say that this question got raised, repeatedly and with great suspicion, because parents in the southend (both southeast and West Seattle) could not believe that with all their developments, especially in public housing, that school enrollments would not go up. I take the impact of developments with a grain of salt given the outcomes in the southend. However, the wild card is what impact a new assignment plan would have if suddenly hundreds of southend kids stayed in the south.)

    Kathy explained that the Jane Addams building could hold 823 and the Summit program has 527 students. She said Pinehurst (where AS#1 is) holds 282 and has 160 students. She said the Board could choose to close or relocate one or both programs.

    (There is some irony here given that it was suggested in Phase II of Closure and Consolidations that because of these under-capacity programs that AS#1 join Summit at Jane Addams and that was largely rejected. More by AS#1 than Summit but, as we see, the proposal went nowhere.)

    Kathy said that Blaine K-8 could be repurposed for a K-5 which would solve their capacity problems in QA/Magnolia but the 6-8 graders would have to go somewhere. She said it would help McClure Middle School to take those students (they are underenrolled) but that McClure did not have the capacity for all these students and that it would eliminate a traditional K-8 in that area.

    (Michael asked if Blaine were reconfigured, what that might do to plans to renovate it? Kathy said that would be considered.)

    Another proposal was to create new classrooms at Broadview-Thompson, Blaine, Sacajawea and perhaps other schools. She said it would create 10-12 permanent classrooms but that funds would have to redirected from other projects to do so.

    Another proposal was to tweak the assignment plan so that out of cluster students could have access to B.F. Day, Green Lake, Olympic Hills and one other (can't read my writing) with transportation.

    (This was not of interest to Board members. As well, most parents at the community meeting I attended also had little interest. It is basically putting their child on a bus to a faraway school. Director Martin-Morris asked if the ancient VAX system used for assignments could do this and Tracy said yes.)

    Another proposal is to relocate programs. This also has a tepid response probably because people fear any relocation of Special Ed or bilingual programs and because it is vague (what programs moving to what schools?).

    Bring on portables. Again, not much interest in terms of creating classroom space because of the fear of them becoming permanent and the cost for high-quality ones (which, again, would take funds from other projects and could impact playgrounds). There was some interest if it was to help a school that is maxed out and have a portable not as a classroom but perhaps as a place for conferences or counseling or volunteers; activities whose space may have gotten pushed aside to create new classrooms for students. Harium expressed concern over using portables to create more classrooms because a school isn't just a classroom but also has other resources that get stressed like the cafeteria and the library.

    Then there were some questions.

    Steve Sundquist: repurposing/program relocation question - can this be done in the time required? Dr. G-J said it would be tight be could be done.

    Director Bass: do these enrollment numbers include southend kids in northend schools? Tracy said yes.

    Director DeBell cautioned against calling this enrollment rise a "bubble" because it could be a new demographic. (I told my table at Roosevelt this as well based on anecdotal stories of people who are coming to Roosevelt who were at private schools and the reality that a trending down economy -okay, tanking-may mean fewer people who can afford private schools.)

    Michael also said that there is community interest in using Old Hay but it has a program there (the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center) and Jane Addams but it has Summit there.
    Dr. G-J said the Secondary BOC could be a conversation after an on-going audit of the bilingual programs is finished. It was noted that a search for a better place for Secondary BOC has been going on for quite awhile and that money ($14M) that they were to receive for whereever they would be relocated had gone to finish Garfield.

    President Chow noted that the most immediate need is the the NE/NW rather than QA/Magnolia.

    Steve stated that repurposing Jane Addams was a community generated solution and had it been looked at? Dr. G-J said yes.

    Harium and Dr. G-J had a bit of an interchange because he asked what it would take to get things done sooner and she said there are 27 parts (!) to the Strategic Plan and this was only one of them and staff could only do so much. Don Kennedy (COO/CFO) added that people working on the VAX migration are also involved in this work so they are stretched thin.

    Dr. G-J said staff recommendations are yes to creating new classrooms and minor assignment plan tweaks but no to portables (unless it was to stabilize a school, not add classrooms) and possible relocations.

    Dr. G-J again stated staff wanted direction from the Board. (Minor note: I realize that the Board has been following this issue - although how strongly by how many members I don't know - but this is the first time they have seen this stuff in a presentation. I find it odd that the Board is supposed to give direction right away. Most people need to actually process the information first.)

    Board Opinions

    Steve: in general, the smallest number of moves to get it done

    Peter: repurposing of Jane Addams and Pinehurst - he said there is "lots of potential". He said Jane Addams could be a K-8 and that the community could help plan the school. He said perhaps they could start next year with 2 classrooms of K-1 and grow the school.

    (What I found disturbing about his comments were not the substance but that he named neither Summit nor AS#1 as the programs in those buildings. As well, he said he needed to find out more about AS#1. Both these programs are in his district; you'd think he would have a little more compassion.)

    He also said he was less inclined to repurpose Blaine and lose a K-8. He said the transportation idea was interesting but would not want to bring another long-term cost to the transportation budget. He said he wouldn't rule out portables but that they were not high on his list.

    Michael spoke at length. He said portables are a last resort. He said relocation of programs should be for efficiency. He said that he felt the transportation tweak to the assignment plan is against the direction they are trying to go for the assignment plan.

    He said that creating new classrooms had to be looked at through the Facilities Master Plan (which is, after all, the plan for facilities). He said he was supportive of repurposing buildings but there had to be a connection between a short-term and long-term plan. He said they needed to engage the communities in those buildings. He said there needed the Jane Addams building for a K-8 because there was no K-8 in that region (which isn't true because AS#1 is a K-8 - he had mentioned other K-8 before, both alternative and traditional so I don't know why this slipped his mind).

    He said they could explore a co-location at Old Hay with Secondary BOC and bring some classes of John Hay (with a waitlist) over. He said the old Board had made a commitment to Secondary BOC and that they (the Board) needed to firm that up. He also stated that he wouldn't want to change Blaine from K-8 to K-5 because the architecture of the building was that it was built as a middle school. He expanded on that saying that Old Hay was built as an elementary but was being used as a middle/high school when those students there needed a building for the ages that they are.

    Sherry said her views were similar to Steve's and that they needed to be strategic in adding classrooms. She said efficiency evaluations are a good idea. She liked the idea of moving Summit but not so much #AS 1. She did say that she did not want to create a whole new type of school at Summit but build on what they had already been doing. I would assume this means no new math/science based school but K-8 international school or K-8 arts school (a la JSIS or TOPS).

    She said that any movement of programs especially Special Ed needed attention.

    Mary Bass, as the longest serving Board member, had more visionary remarks. She said that the district doesn't stop at the Montlake cut and reminded Board members that they need to think of the whole district. (She is right on this point; a plan has to take into account the ripple effects, of which there are always, in the district.) She said she needed more time to think about the presentation.

    Harium stated he felt two things: one, that Old Hay could have better use to support the growth in that area and two, that Jane Addams needed to be repurposed. But he wanted to see the costs for changing anything.

    Cheryl (another person who has been in and around this district for decades) had some visionary remarks as well. She said that because of busing and then because of program placements that a generation of south end students had come north. She said that it is important to not forget that this occurred and that the Board had to think from a district level.

    I feel that it was a good presentation with a couple of issues. One, parents at the Roosevelt meeting really wanted to hear about the idea of repurposing Sandpoint. There was not one word here about that except to name it as an idea. Staff is firmly against this one and so there was no discussion.

    Also there are many parents throughout the region(s) who stand ready to help and yet there wasn't much discussion of that nor how public comments would be given to these ideas. This presentation was different in many ways from the community meetings on the subject.

    It seems clear that Jane Addams will be repurposed but there was no discussion or even ideas of where Summit might go. It seems program placements might help the problem but again, there were no specifics. Most of the Board members seemed to be against portables, assignment plan tweaks or building new classrooms.