Thursday, October 02, 2008

Board meeting of October 1, 2008

Several items worth mentioning from last night's Board meeting:

Capacity Management signals move for Summit
In the Work Session on Capacity Management that came before the meeting, the Board strongly signalled their interest in relocating Summit K-12 and re-purposing the Jane Addams building as a neighborhood K-5 or K-8. They could begin by moving some students in next year, sharing the building with Summit while the District prepares an alternative location for Summit. I have to believe that a move to Lincoln or John Marshall would be a positive change for Summit as it would put them in a better fitting space with a more centalized location and better transportation access for an all-city draw school. It is possible that the new school created at Jane Addams could be an international school.

Engagement Protocols for Strategic Plan
I posted about this before, but it bears repeating. The Engagement Protocols for the Strategic Plan consist exclusively of outbound communication by the District and does not include any provision for actual engagement. Moreover, none of the projects are currently meeting the minimum standards set out in the protocols. It is weird to me that no one on the Board noticed - or asked about - either of these facts. Members of the public, however, can raise these questions by sending in their input on the engagement protocols.

High School Math Adoption
There was a bit of a confrontation between Director Martin-Morris and the new Math Director, Anna Maria delaFuente. She presented a timeline in which the staff came to the Board with a textbook recommendation by 3/15/09 and the Board approved one no later than 5/6/09. Director Martin-Morris asked if they weren't putting the cart before the horse and that the Board needed to set a curriculum before the committee could recommend a textbook. Ms delaFuente responded that the State had set the curriculum and that regardless of whether the course of study was the Integrated Math 1, 2, 3 or whether it was Algebra, Geometry, Algrebra II, the set of knowledge and skills that students are expected to learn is the same set, just in a different order. Director Martin-Morris, who appears to be getting more and more impatient with the staff's habit of bypassing the Board and usurping the Board's responsibilities, said that it is the Board's job to determine the course of study and wouldn't the Board's choice of path (1,2,3 or Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II) greatly influence the textbook choice. Ms delaFuente said, essentially, that it would not. She said that both styles of textbook supported the work and that the primary determinant was the teacher. She stated that either type of book could support either path and that the books were only the materials - that the materials supported the teacher's work rather than dictating it. This clearly shows that Ms delaFuente has no idea what is going on in our classrooms. It has been my observation that the textbook guides the teaching rather than the teacher picking and choosing elements from the text.

Ms delaFuente said that a committee would be formed to advise on the textbook adoption. She said that although it would be a staff committee, they were toying with the idea of making some of the meetings open so the public could confirm that everything was above-board. Director Bass noted that the last committee that was convened was discredited as having been stacked with people who came to it with a clear and strong preference for one type of instruction over another and that the committee was seen as a sham. Ms delaFuente said that it was up to the Board to oversee the process and assure its transparency and honesty. Director Bass asked how many student family members would be on the committee and Ms delaFuente repeated that it would be a staff committee. This was a funny moment. Ms delaFuente had given each of the Board members a copy of the state law on textbook adoption and a copy of the District Policies (C20.00 and C21.00) on it - as if to school them on these rules. Director Bass then made reference to the Board Policy which CLEARLY states that the Instructional Materials Committee and the Adoption Committee must include parents and families. So there was Ms delaFuente caught in the ironic position of not having read the Policy that she had distributed to the Board and getting schooled herself. Awkward. Ms delaFuente quickly recovered and assured the Board that the Policy would be followed.

$24 million budget shortfall for 2009-2010
Don Kennedy presented on the budget and announced that right now they are looking forward to a $24 million budget shortfall for the 2009-2010 school year. And that's before they know all of the increases in expenses. This news was greeted with an odd non-response. Perhaps people are just used to the staff announcing financial ruin at the start of every budget cycle only to announce their fiscal strength at the end of every budget cycle. Board President Chow took this as an opportunity to encourage people to encourage the state legislature to act on fully funding education. Director DeBell expressed his pleasure at getting this news so far in advance. It was a lot of happy talk for a $24 million budget gap. They will discuss the budget shortfall and strategies for closing it in finance committee meetings.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I attended the Work Session on Capacity Issues in the north end (I didn't see you Charlie). (I'll do a longer blog later).

Yes, indeed, it seems Summit is likely to have to share their neighborhood and/or vacate at some point (interestingly, there was no discussion of the pesky point of where to move them. They will not be closing anytime soon because there is a legal procedure to close a school and I didn't hear that mentioned. But, I think that Summit may not exist in a couple of years.

Actually, I'm going to stop with that paragraph because looking at my notes, there's a lot of nuance and detail that would be better served in a longer piece. I'll try to do that tomorrow.

dan dempsey said...


Thanks for the math recap. I am living in Bellingham and teaching at Lummi Nation School so I won't make it to many board meetings.

Let us transfer Ms. delaFuente's line of thinking on high School math to elementary school....
...hummmm seems like there is an Everyday Math pacing plan that teachers are to follow.

I never could get Ms. Wise or the board to define the required grade level necessary skills in math as mandated by board policies D44.00 and D45.00....

So how exactly is it that the teacher is going to be deciding what the students will learn and the text is not of suppreme importance in High School.

Sure does not work this way
in k-5, or to my knowledge in 6,7,8

Charlie, I think you nailed this spot on in your analysis. The board needs to be really involved in this as the administration's track record is pathetic in regard to math curricular selections.

For high school, what do you select for kids coming out of the k-8 disaster of Seattle Public Schools math texts?

anonymous said...

Just because the district has not identified a site to move Summit to yet, doesn't mean that they won't. After all they have not yet even confirmed that Summit will indeed move.

I have not heard at any community meeting, board meeting, or by any official or parent a suggestion that Summit will be, or should be closed. I have only heard that the program would either move to a new site, or co-house with another program at their site.

Melissa, why do you keep suggesting that the district will close Summit? Do you have some information that we don't have?

Melissa Westbrook said...

You must not have heard the presentation by staff to the Board or attended the Roosevelt community meeting. Staff clearly listed closing Summit as an option to the Board. This is in the Power Point presented. As well, several speakers at the Roosevelt meeting said "get rid" of Summit.

As I said I'll blog about the staff presentation to the Board but it was fairly clear that the Board and the staff want the Jane Addams building for a program other than Summit.

I have no inside knowledge other than the years of experience of being in this district, listening to staff, superintendents and boards talk and understanding some of the nuances of their language.

anonymous said...

Melissa, if you have access to it, can you post the link to the power point presentation where the staff listed closing Summit as an option. We live across the street from Summit and have many friends who attend the school who would not be happy with that proposal. Our friends at Summit don't seem so opposed to moving the program, but they would not be happy about closing it.

I attended the Roosevelt community meeting, and I heard many parents say that they want Summit moved out of the Jane Adams building to make room for a new k-8. I heard other parents mention co-housing Summit with a new program. But I didn't hear anyone suggest closing Summit, the program. I must have missed it in the power point?

That's not only alarming, it would be counterproductive as about 50% percent of Summit students live in north and NE Seattle. They would all need to be accommodated at a neighborhood school which would just exasperate the over crowding situation even more.

Jet City mom said...

From the Summit K-12 BLT report

Tommy Rose then came and spoke with us. I've copied here what Sabia sent out earlier:

I am summarizing here what Tommy told us about the capacity issue which is currently being discussed by the District.

He said that there are basically 3 options on the table right now being considered for Summit: co-location, re-location and repurposing. A timeline for decision making was handed out at the SPS Board Meeting last night, and that puts us (Summit) in the category of working on draft recommendations for submission to the District at this time.

The timeline is below:

July-September - Staff work

September 15, 16 - Community Meetings

October 1 - Board Work Session

October 2-8 - Develop draft recommendations

October 8 - Send draft recommendations to Board Executive Committee and Program Placement Committee

October 15 - Board Meeting - Introduce draft recommendations to current Assignment Plan (annual item) and capacity adjustments needing Board approval

Oct 15-Nov 12 - Public comment period

November 12 - Board Meeting - Board action on recommendations needing Board approval

December 2008 - Superintendent action on other recommendations

dan dempsey said...

In regard to the budget shortfall, it was known that the past years budget was out of balance as at the meeting when MGJ's salary was increased 10%, it was stated that the coming budget was seriously out of balance and that money would be taken from reserves to finance the current year.

Now Cheryl Chow wants the public to go get more money. Odd thinking, perhaps she should read the auditor's report about how Seattle spends money.

Remember the Phi Delta Kappa curriculum audit that dealt with academics. It was critical of the district in a variety of areas and so was largely ignored by SPS. If the district is going to toss money here and there for audits perhaps it would be wise to heed them.

It seems that a huge number of consultants reports are financed so the district can pick and choose via a Cherry Picking plan to support whatever they wished to do in the first place.

I am still waiting for D44.00 and D45.00 ....... perhaps we need a consultant to recommend to the School Board that the School Administration follow school board policies. Is this a no brainer or what???

So why has the district ignored this idea for over two years???

They wrote the policies in 1985. Is not 20+ years enough time to read them?

dan dempsey said...

WOW!! this nonsense just goes on and on apparently unchecked.

Look at this:
I received the following comment on my Blog.
Seattle teacher said...
Last month at an inservice training for Seattle School district on Math Leadership Training, some teachers asked about Singapore Math. Most didn't even know the books were in their school. Ms. Anna de la Fuente admitted that the use of Singapore is optional and alluded to the fact that it was "adopted" in order to get the school board to approve the adoption of Everyday Math.

Before the Singapore books were bought, the publisher and a Singapore math trainer had tried to deter Ms. Rosalind Wise from buying the Extra Practice book as it was not anything but that. There are no explicit lessons, just worksheets. Ms. Wise was advised to buy the textbooks and workbooks, but went ahead and bought the Extra Practice books despite the warning.

When dishonest administrators run the district, the rest of us suffer.
When Sally Soriano voted for this adoption she was under the impression that the district was buying the whole package of 1 Singapore text book and one matching workbook. She was very surprised to find out that a grade level package for Singapore consists of a textbook and a workbook for each semestert for each grade level. That makes four books per grade level not the two she was led to believe by staff were the complete package.

The district purchased only a $6 extra practice book, one for each grade level. That sure does not sound like what Michael DeBell was expecting either.

I can say that Brita Butler-Wall was honest and told me that she trusted the judgement of the SPS hired professionals. I told Brita that looking at a decade of track record in SPS math I saw no reason to trust any administrative decision maker in SPS math selections.

So now that the SPS board is aware that the Administration used a retail price $6 boondoggle to put an inferior curriculum in place in the form of Everyday Math, who will be held responsible and what does the district intend to do about the current mess that Ms. Santorno has created.

Will Anna-Maria delaFuente care to explain Ms. Santorno's position and how all this is going to fit into the big picture of k-12 math and the coming High School Adoption? Likely she will not explain.