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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Open Thread for Meany/Nova/Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center

28 comments:

hschinske said...

I'm wondering whether the relationship between Nova and Garfield will be able to continue with Nova being farther away. Currently the schools share a health center and Nova students are able to participate in a number of activities and sports at Garfield. I believe they can also take classes there, but am not sure of the logistics (presumably it's on a space-available basis?). I know one of my daughters at Garfield goes over to Nova now and then after school to hang out with friends who go there, and presumably Nova kids come over to Garfield in the same way.

I'm also concerned, as I said on the other thread about Lowell, about what's going to happen to the shuttered buildings. Could the Horace Mann building be used as an extension of the Garfield Community Center? I understand they have a small farm; could that become a P-Patch? Is there any space for a farm or garden at Meany?

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

I think that students from NOVA will still be able to go to Garfield - either for classes, which isn't very common, for the health center, for sports, or to see friends, which is the most common reason for visits. I don't know how easily Garfield students could drop in at NOVA following the move.

It would seem wrong to house anything in the Horace Mann building after NOVA is moved out because the whole idea is to capture the savings that would come from leaving it vacant. If the District still has to heat it, power it, and maintain it for some other purpose, they might as well just leave the school in it.

hschinske said...

"It would seem wrong to house anything in the Horace Mann building after NOVA is moved out because the whole idea is to capture the savings that would come from leaving it vacant."

My point was that someone else would pay for it, as is happening at places like University Heights. I'm concerned that the building would get stripped, walls bashed in for copper wiring, all that. How can the district keep that from happening?

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

I understand that the District wants to close the Horace Mann building - primarily to avoid the expense of fixing it up. I could make some cutting remarks about the District and their responsibility for the building condition, but it wouldn't change anything.

So first, given how building condition is driving all of these decisions, I'm glad that the District has decided that the NOVA Project is worth saving even if the Horace Mann building is not. I'm also glad that they found a very suitable new location for it.

Meany is on Capitol Hill on 21st between Thomas and Republican. It's next to Miller Park and close to the intersection of 23rd and Madison. So it's a quick bus ride on the 48 (or bike ride or walk) along 23rd to or from Garfield and a quick bus ride on the 8 for about twelve blocks to or from Broadway and Seattle Central Community College.

I don't think that there will be much mixing between the S.B.O.C. and NOVA at Meany. I can definitely see students from the S.B.O.C. earning credits for teaching their native language to NOVA students. I can definitely see them sharing a garden/farm on the property. I think it would be great if the cafeteria prepared vegetarian and vegan meals - which would also be halal, of course. I'm sure mixing will be encouraged, and I hope it will happen, I just don't think we'll see much.

There was a lot of talk from the District about how NOVA would provide the SBOC with a good model of how to make Alternative Learning work, but they don't have to share a building for that.

The Summit high school IDP will also be there, and I'm confident that these students will find a safe and welcoming home at NOVA.

Best of all, of course, the S.B.O.C. has been allocated capital money for renovations to their new home. This money is already set aside for them and now we know that it will be spent on Meany. I'm sure both schools will benefit from this money.

seattle citizen said...

Just an observation:
On opening this blog, I noted that there are about seven new threads, one for each school/program closure/movement. I then noted that a couple schools has one or two comments, a couple had three or four, one had seven...and APP had 23.
a) dividing these threads up is, well, divisive. Can't we all comment generally? Is this "divide and conquer"?
b) I hope that the APP stakeholders can continue to contribute to the other threads;
c) I hope that stakeholders in the other schools can step up their commentary
d) I hope that everyone is advocating for everyone (a repeat of "a", but necessary!)
Carry on.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Viewlands did get its copper wiring stripped out. And now the district has contracted with the City to replace it and in return the City has allowed various artists to use the space - for free - in order to watch over the building.

Charlie Mas said...

Wouldn't an alarm system be cheaper?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Don't know, Charlie. This is what one of the artists in the building told me.

John B said...

My daughter attends Nova and participates in Orchestra at Garfield. I think it would be more difficult but not impossible to do this if Nova goes to Meany. Several Nova kids take music classes at Garfield, and as I understand it, kids can take any other classes at Garfield if space is available. On question I have- how did they come up with the building condition scores? The Preliminary Report document repeatedly mentions the building condition scores, but I don't see any explanation in there of what they mean. Obviously Nova could use some updating as far as energy efficiency (new boiler, etc.), but I don't think anybody there thinks the school needs a Garfield-style gutting & makeover. I'm curious about how much it really costs the district to maintain the Mann building (and what the costs would be to shut it down, move, etc.).

Melissa Westbrook said...

They rebuilt South Lake for a modest $14M. The district seems to have a problem with just basic maintenance especially once they close a building. My feeling is they intend to sell off some properties.

Unknown said...

I just have a comment in regards to Helen's comment about Nova students taking classes at Garfield. My daughter was a Garfield student last year, but she was miserable there, so she transferred to Nova this year. She was taking Japanese at Garfield and wanted to continue with it there this year. There was room for her in the class, her teacher was looking forward to having her back and it would have worked with her Nova class schedule. She was denied access to the class and in fact we were told that no non-Garfield students would be allowed to take classes there, due to the large number of students they have. I don't see the student body shrinking in the years to come, so does this mean that Garfield classes are off limits to outside students permanently? We feel somewhat cheated, due to the fact that in the past, Nova students had taken classes at Garfield. We were not asking for a seat in a class that was to capacity or over-enrolled; there was room in the class.

Sorry that this got off subject of the building closure.

Charlie Mas said...

Christine, who told you that your daughter couldn't be in the Japanese class? Was it Ted Howard? If not, check with him. If so, contact Michael Tolley.

Charlie Mas said...

I didn't see a thread for Meany, so I guess this is the appropriate one.

When I heard the proposals, my first concern was for Central Region middle school students enrolled at Meany. Where will they go when Meany Middle School is closed?

The preliminary proposal says "DISCONTINUE Meany program and reassign students to other schools based on where they live"

Well, what about the Meany students who live in the Central Region? Where will they be re-assigned? Not to Washington. That school is totally full. So these students will have to be bussed out of their reference area to... Hamilton? Mercer? McClure? I'm thinking Hamilton. The proposal doesn't say.

This isn't right. When the staff were considering the idea of putting Pathfinder at Cooper, they ultimately rejected the idea because it would mean that about 30 students in the West Seattle-North cluster would have to be bussed to a school in West Seattle-South. Yet the fact that the decision to close Meany Middle School would require 150-200 students to be bussed out of their region isn't even mentioned. It should have been a deal-breaker as it was for Cooper.

The solution, of course, is to make more room at Washington. They can only do that by moving some students out, and that means APP.

Hamilton Middle School has an enrollment of about 700. Their new building will have a capacity of about 1,000. From those numbers it may seem that Hamilton has almost but not quite enough room for APP, but Hamilton has A LOT of out-of-region students. If the out-of-region students were sent back to the schools in their home reference area, Hamilton would have plenty of room for APP.

With APP out of Washington, all of the local students could get in.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's another thing...

Meany has a building condition score of 47.34. There were buildings with higher scores that were closed for being in such bad shape, but the District moves two programs INTO Meany with this score.

The report describes Pinehurst as having "a very poor building condition (55.32)" which is 8 points better than Meany's. T T Minor is closed and described as having "a very low building condition" at 54.61 - 7 points better than Meany. The report says "the poor condition of the Lowell building makes it a better candidate for closure, not for continuing to accomodate students". The Lowell building condition is 53.72, 6 points better than Meany.

Was this move somehow predicated on the presumption that they will use the capital funds committed to S.B.O.C. to fix the place up?

Oddly, they seem to think that this represents a big move forward for NOVA. The report says "The Meany building has a significantly higher condition than Mann (18 points higher)".

Unknown said...

It would be a good project for NOVA kids to research and explain the criteria and scoring used in the closure plan. My impression is that the data elements are vaguely defined. What does number of seats mean? What does the square footage encompass? How does a condition score in one school really compare to another school? Are the scores from one building really comparable to those from another? And does the school district have an obligation to maintain historical buildings... Is the Mann building headed down the road of Queen Anne High School or University heights?

This would be a perfect NOVA student project, and it would provide the very sort of information that seems to be lacking in the districts analysis behind the proposal.

north seattle mom said...

I think that is brilliant. The board asked if the district had done the walk around at the schools to determine functional capacity and they admitted that they had not. I think it would be a wonderful student project for students to do a functions capacity analysis of the district. I think the Nova students would likely make an incredibly reasoned proposal.

Melissa Westbrook said...

From the last closure experience, I think that's a GREAT idea for Nova kids to step in and research this. They had 3 students who came to every single meeting (every one of them for the entire time). It was astonishing to see their commitment.

Unknown said...

Charlie,

Yes, it was Ted Howard that said my daughter could not take the class at Garfield.

I see that he is allowing Nova students to be in the orchestra and music classes at Garfield; I can only assume that he feels that these kids have something to offer to the Garfield school and is making allowances for them. I'm glad to see that Mr. Howard is giving these kids the opportunity to benefit from Garfield's proximity; however, I wish that he were open to allowing other kids to as well.

By the way, who is Michael Tolley?

Thank you.

Charlie Mas said...

Michael Tolley is the Director of High Schools and Ted Howard's boss.

I suggest that you contact him. He's a pretty right guy who believes in following the rules. If the rule is that your daughter can be in the class, then he will see it done.

Unknown said...

Thank you Charlie. I will see if there is anything that Michael can do for us. I appreciate the info.

samdinista said...

Does anyone know the capacity of Meany? It seems to me that relocating Summit K-12 and NOVA to Meany could be advantageous for both communities. At current enrollments, that would be about 1000 students. Does it make sense to co-house these two programs?

north seattle mom said...

The Meng report lists Meany as 813. But as we know facilities seems to have flexible definitions of capacity and often picks other numbers.

John B said...

It looks like the current enrollment of Summit is 532 and Nova is 312. So it would seem that those 2 programs could fit at Meany. But that would make too much sense. It seems the district is looking for some justification to keep the Rainier Beach building open.
The problem is that Meany has a lower building score (47) than the buildings they are planning to close. What does the district propose for improvements to Meany? And if there are no improvements, I fear that Meany will be slated for closure in the next round.

anonymous said...

Summit and NOVA would fit at Meany as not all Summit families will make the move to Meany. Some would stay and join TC, and others will filter into their neighborhood schools. The problem is that there would not be much room for either program to grow. But then again, that is the case for most schools.

Charlie Mas said...

I think Summit and NOVA would both fit at Meany, but Summit and the S.B.O.C. would be a better combination. The S.B.O.C. is a 6-12 program, which is a better match with Summit.

The strongest reason for the S.B.O.C. to be in the building, however, is because the money for fixing up Meany belongs to the S.B.O.C. Without the S.B.O.C. kicking in their capital, Meany doesn't get renovated.

When you try to figure if the programs will fit, you have to ask the question about the new, renovated Meany, not as it is currently configured.

But if NOVA didn't go to Meany, then where would it go?

Well the first choice would be for it to stay at Horace Mann. It could also go to T T Minor - that would be a shorter distance move and a bigger step up in building condition than the proposed change to Meany.

Cara said...

Hi there,
Meany parent here. Since there's no thread for us, just wanted to let you know that the Meany community is very committed to showing the board why we have a program worth saving. A few reasons have already been mentioned, such as no room in the cluster for current students to transfer to. Many of us chose Meany over other middle schools because it is a small school, it has integrated advanced learning opportunities, a fabulous group of teachers and administrators, an integrated arts program and a new arts festival that was a huge success last year. We are open to sharing the building with another program,but that would have to be researched more fully. It came as quite a shock to us that we were on the chopping block, so we are rallying now to show Seattle what we are all about.

Cara

Beth Bakeman said...

Cara,

Welcome! This is the thread for Meany, so I've renamed it to make that clearer.

Cara said...

Thank you!

Cara