Tuesday Board Workshop on Closures - LIVE

MOVING rest of Board Workshop "Live" coverage to above thread

5:50 pm: Taking 20 minute break

5:35 pm: Functional capacity presentation by Holly Ferguson. Reviewing planning capacity v. functional capacity distinction again. Staff (with former teachers and principlas) has now done complete walk-through of all elementary, K-8, middle and high schools. Created a database of all rooms in the district.

"Short answer is no" to the question of whether there is sufficient capacity in north end for elementary students, particularly with closure of AS#1 and Summit K-12. Will need space for an additional 200 students if they don't choose to go to Thornton Creek.

Maier: points out that capacity numbers are aggregate, adding #s in N, NE and NW clusters, as presented doesn't answer question about whether there is adequate capacity where students are.

Rachel: says this can be addressed when redrawing assignment boundaries and clusters

Harium: doesn't like this slide (middle school capacity numbers) because it "masks" differences among the N, NE and NW clusters; also asking why Hamilton increased capacity is being shown now even though it doesn't exist yet.

DeBell: raising questions about NE elementary capacity

5:30 pm: Title I presentation and discussion. Mary Bass arrives.

5:20 pm: Transportation analysis. Providing transportation costs for neighborhood schools as well as schools listed for closure/consolidation. Got more money for busing at Lowell than it costs. Taking Board questions on this section. Sundquist asking about how proposed split at Lowell affects transportation costs. Sounds like the answer is no impact, but I'm not sure. DeBell asking whether state reimbursement may change next year due to budget problems.

5:10 pm: Bilingual program review by Carla Santorno.

Initial actions:

  • Defning goals for academic attainment of ELL
  • Phasing out pull-out program and replacing with an improved instructional pgoram and high leverage learning
  • Strengthening the Bilingual Orientation Centers' focs on academic achievement and successful transitions into general ed, including earing credit and access to English-speaking peers.
  • Professional development for IAs


5:05 pm: UPDATE -- full presentation and summary of tonight are posted on district website. Includes not only APP changes mentioned already but also Pathfinder to Cooper, closing Summit K-12 or changing it to K-8 and putting it at Meany, potential to move SBOC to Hawthorne, possibility of discontinuing Center School program, RBHS has several options listed, Montlake program moving to Lowell building.


5:00 pm: Questions from Board members continue for Bob Vaughn.

Harium Martin-Morris: Vision is "lofty", but do we have enough time and resources to pull it off?

Santorno: Following best practices already established.

4:50 pm: ASIDE: Letter to Lowell parents sent home today outlining plan for APP, which now involves a middle school split and a Montlake closure. See the following post and the comments on it.

4:35 pm: Advanced learning programs vision, inviting Robert Vaughn to the table. Carla reviewing slides.


  • Increasing academic acceleration in all elementary and middle schools
  • Increasing the number and range of AP/IB courses in high schools
  • Providing specific accelerated learning options for students working one grade level ahead (Spectrum and Advanced Learning Opportunities) and two levels ahead (APP)

Approach at elementary and middle school:

  • New elementary and middle school advanced learning programs
  • Development of acceleration strategies that can be used in any school

"All socio-economic and ethnic groups represented in these outcomes."

Approach at high school:

  • Expand AP and IB course offerings
  • More teacher training
  • Assist in early identification of candidates for advanced courses
  • Changing grading policies to encourage students to choose more challenging courses

Harium Martin-Morris arrives.

Sundquist wants to make sure understand objectives for families already in APP. Is it access? (closer to home) Is it growth? Which apply to which advanced learning program (APP, ALO, Spectrum).

Vaughn responds in talking about financial situation driving the move/split. "Can offer an accelerated progress program that is better." Will have ability to compare outcomes between 2 schools.

Spectrum program: need to work to make it as equal as possible throughout the city.

Sundquist: what parameters make a situation an appropriate or inappropriate co-housing recommendation? (academic outcomes, social cohesion)

Vaughn: Audit suggested ideally co-location with a peer group that is accomplishing near the APP level. Says not a lot of places in south or central Seattle where that is possible.

Santorno: "It's about planning and intentionality" and buy-in/understanding of the principals.

Carr: Is objective to increase seats in APP program? Tell us more about identifying and recruiting students who might be eligible for APP but are not accessing program.

Vaughn: Move will create more seats; change in location will increase access; but "there is not a limitless population of students" who qualify for APP; also not necessary that all kids who qualify for APP will choose that proram; some families may choose other schools/environments.

DeBell: How can we "grow" program when located in a reference school?

4:23 pm: Carla Santorno, introduces Fred Roe, acting Director of Special Education, retired Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning from Renton district

Special education vision and areas of focus:

  • Keep student groups together
  • Ease access to enrollment
  • Address transitions
  • Improve access to services
  • Improve predictability and ealry notice of service placement decisions
  • Make services more welcoming (professional development as a strategy for this)
  • Address secondary student scheduling

"Move from where special education is a service, not a place." Work based upon program review and parent feedback in community meetings.


  • Relocate to home clusters as appropriate
  • Determine most appropriate relocation facilities
  • Identify retrofit needs and costs

Working to notify special education families much earlier about where classes and services will be located.

Access to kindergarten students to services in their clusters. Not all details provided tonight, but very soon. Scope includes pre-school.

Once done reviewing students in programs affected by closures, will continue with reviewing rest of special education programs in district.

All decisions made by end of February so parents will have necessary info by the time enrollment period starts.

4:15 pm: Dr. G-J framing discussion, reiteration of vision and goal, financial situation

  • Community meetings in February to discuss budget further; regular meetings throughout city, scheduled in advance as described in Strategic Plan.
  • Fiscal solutions include cutting central office staff and looking for cost-savings, in addition to closures.
  • Status of current assignment plan: "Not all families can access the system of choice. Not all families benefit equally."
  • Focus on continuous improvement to drive performance.
  • Presented a roadmap to move district from "current state" to "desired state."

4 pm: New Board President (Michael DeBell) opens meeting. Harium and Mary Bass are late due to work conflicts.

Turns over meeting to Dr. G-J who reviews agenda. Says handouts will be available to press on full presentation around 5:30 or 5:45 pm tonight.


SolvayGirl said…
So...the one decent program that offered what we wanted and had a chance of getting into (The Center School) with a reasonable commute is now being considered to be discontinued. I'm just glad we started the private school process.
If it weren't for my husband's pension we'd leave Seattle in a heartbeat!
Unknown said…
don't let the door hit you on the way out! thanks!
Sue said…
SolvayGirl1972 -

I hate to say it, but we also made the extremely hard decision to opt out of public school a few years ago, for middle school. This district makes it really hard to stay Good luck.

Evan- never mind.
Charlie Mas said…
It's okay that the analysis of north-end middle school capacity didn't include the students in Queen Anne and Magnolia and the capacity at McClure because they won't reckon in the new assignment plan.

Everything that Bob Vaughan said about the District's aspirations for advanced learning was correct and wonderful to hear.

When cornered, Carla Santorno, finally answered Director DeBell's question about how APP is supposed to grow inside of reference area schools (where APP growth will drive out space for neighborhood students). She acknowledged that they hadn't thought about that yet.
another mom said…
"When cornered, Carla Santorno, finally answered Director DeBell's question about how APP is supposed to grow inside of reference area schools (where APP growth will drive out space for neighborhood students). She acknowledged that they hadn't thought about that yet."

Well they had better think about it and have a plan and soon. Even without growth in the program, APP limits access to the neighborhood program. There were many reasons that APP left Madrona and moved intact to Lowell. One of the reasons that drove the decision was the crowding out of the neighborhood population. The constriction of the neighborhood program by APP caused much resentment.

At least the amended recommendations have the two halves closer to each other. I just disagree that splitting the program is good for the program.
anonymous said…
Wow! I feel like staff was actually listening to the community. The changes in this update reflect a lot of the suggestions that I have seen on this blog, and heard tossed around my community.

The only thing I don't like in this new plan is the possibility of closing Center school and relocating their students at RBHS. Doesn't make sense from a program perspective, although I can see why it makes sense financially. South/Central have only a handful of schools that are performing well, and this is one of them. It saddens me to think it could close. Meanwhile it wouldn't address Aki Kurose and it's terrible reputation and performance, and oh yeah, it's NCLB step 5 sanctions.

The better option was the Aki/RBHS merger as a 6-12 arts focus school. And leave Center School alone. This makes more sense to me.
another mom said…
SolvayGirl1972..you need to do what's in the best interest of your child. You have only one chance to educate your child. The district has left you without other options.The uncertainty surrounding school closures and new student assignment plan, makes me think that you are not the only one in this situation.
h2o girl said…
I would be really sad if the Center School closes as well. I was seriously looking at it for my current 6th grader at Salmon Bay. I understand it's expensive to operate, but if they're going to put the homeschool resource center in there that means the district will still be paying the lease. Why discontinue a successful program? It's a bummer.
Ben said…
Well, Marshall doesn't have much of a neighborhood population as it is.

Anyone but me find it interesting that Lowell, which just HAD TO be shut down because of its poor condition, will remain open, with students from Montlake (maybe) and Minor (even more maybe) moving in?
hschinske said…
The rationale for keeping Lowell open was that the special ed population would be very expensive to move (due to special accommodations then being needed at a number of different schools), *and* that the building condition is not as bad as reported, due to work done on Lowell in the past year or so.

Keeping half of APP at Lowell makes equitable arrangements far more difficult, in my opinion, to the point where it's hardly worth splitting the program at all. If they could find another central location for the other half of APP it might make more sense.

If APP has to split and Lowell has to remain open, the option that at the moment makes the most sense to me is to keep Lowell open as a neighborhood school, starting with the Montlake students and the QA/Magnolia overflow (and keeping special ed, of course), and split APP to B.F. Day and TMarshall. That way Lowell will be a well-off school, but no more so than Montlake already was, and no more than is reasonable given the neighborhood.

Both halves of APP would have roughly the same commute issues, the same assimilation issues, and so forth. Both would be in buildings with socioeconomically diverse populations. Transportation costs would go down, and a large proportion of students would have a very reasonable commute. Elementary APP still couldn't grow, but they can't grow under the current proposal, either.

Helen Schinske
Tracy seemed to indicate that some of the special ed at Lowell might go elsewhere because of changes in Special Ed so there might be a little wiggle room. I doubt it would be much.
Anonymous said…

Who knows if transportation costs would go down by moving kids from Lowell to ANY other building... Right now the district's plan shows they made a net GAIN from transporting the APP kids to Lowell! Remember, they get funding from multiple sources, and it's probably a complex formula.

The other thing to remember, is that the district said they did put the BFDay building on the table, but found it wasn't going to work. I suspect it has as much to do with overall north end capacity as the QA overflow.

We haven't seen the worst of the north end overcrowding yet - it's still coming. And one can easily imagine some kind of westward migration throughout the north elementary buildings toward BF Day out of necessity. Keeping 1/2 APP at Lowell would be far less disruptive to those kids, and would continue to act as a "magnet" to pull them across the ship canal, relieving a good bit of the north end pressures, which are only going to get worse.

Montlake is unlikely to fill all the vacant Lowell seats. A bunch of them will leave for private, and as Mel mentioned, perhaps one of the Special Ed classrooms would move as well, TBD. This means that there would probably be room for at least some of the TT Minor kids as well. I don't think it's smart to be divvying up the elementary (or MS!) APP at all, but if the district absolutely refuses to keep them together, this is probably the "least terrible" solution I've seen. It would keep us with the program.
Thanks! I forget to mention that APP transportation actually BRINGS dollars to the district. That's was really interesting.
hschinske said…
That's true about the transportation funding for APP, but I wouldn't count on those funds continuing in the current economic climate. (It's state funding, by the way -- not federal.)

Helen Schinske
AutismMom said…
Melissa writes:
Tracy seemed to indicate that some of the special ed at Lowell might go elsewhere because of changes in Special Ed

Oh please spare us Tracy. All of the Lowell sped kids are the least likely to be subject to any change in service delivery. The only thing Tracy knows about special ed, is that she somehow has the authority to toss it anywhere at anytime. Not what's needed, equitable, or legal.
Tracy has no such power. She is one of the best employees SPS has and one of the most forthcoming and honest.

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