Showing posts from January, 2009

Back to the Question: What Do We Do With All the Closed Buildings?

The PI had a follow-up closure story on the buildings that will now be closed. Some history: "The district owns 27 closed school buildings citywide and an assortment of other properties, many for years. Some are leased out to community groups, and four of the district's long-shuttered school buildings are in the process of being purchased, said property manager Ron English. (Here's a link to the Facilities Master Plan with all the properties the district has. See page 39-45 for the chart .) But of the five buildings closed in 2006 and 2007, only one -- Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary in Madison Valley -- was declared "surplus," paving the way for it to be sold. On a tiny, 2-acre lot, it's too small to be used by the district in the future, English explained. Usually, though, the district errs on the side of keeping its buildings, even if they're not immediately needed, he said. It still owns the former McDonald Elementary, a 1913 building near Gr

No Special Education Programs Next Year

From comments made by AutismMom on a previous thread: " Special education has been treated pretty equitably by the closure process. The only problem I saw, which has been raised, was that of the EBD dispersal. Minor and Meany EBD students shouldn't have been dispersed. That seems unfair to a historically and grossly underserved population, overwhelmingly minority. BUT!!!!! I did attend the special education ptsa meeting Thursday night along with around 200 others. MGJ was there as a "guest speaker"... but said practically nothing. She simply pointed at people asking questions, selecting people for Fred Rowe to answer. Her child was there running around. While cute at first, many people thought her lack of ANY participation and the fact that she brought her child... represented a lack of serious attention to special education. Would she have done that at ANY other meeting? (edited 1/31 per AutismMom's request) The big news dropped here was that Fred said &quo

An Invitation to Hold the District to Their Promises

Danny K mentioned at the end of another thread that it is "time to hold the district to their promises." And I agree. Here's my proposal. I'm inviting parents whose children are being displaced by the closures to become contributors to this blog for one year. I want a commitment of at least one post per month and the topic is: A year in the life of a child/children/family affected by school closures. You can focus on your child/family, other child(ren) at your school, or an overall picture of what is happening at your school. But I want it to be specific...I'm not looking for things like "The district is failing us as we expected."...but more like "We were supposed to get extra money for X by Y date and it hasn't happened." I want to find out what promises these families receive from the district, which ones are kept and which ones aren't, what surprises if any they face along the way, and what they want the public, staff and Board m

Deconstructing the Final Vote

So I won't go blow by blow but here are some impressions from the Board meeting last night to vote on the final recommendations. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. Even though she came out of this with her final recs in place, doesn't really seem like she won. The amount of anger at her and the repeated remarks about her salary are going to be tough to overcome. (Raj had a built-in niceness that even if you disagreed with him, you never felt angry at him.) I find this argument that there is a lot of racism involved in these decisions somewhat mystifying. The top tier of leadership in the district is all black. About 40% of the Board is minority. What I hear more is this is more socioeconomically based anger than being about race. They perceive Dr. G-J as being out of their socioeconomic class and therefore unable to relate to them. She got a lot of hissing and booing. She said letters to parents at whose children will be moving will be sent home next week. Director Maier asked

FYI For Summit Upper Level Students

So I did figure out something (and who knows, maybe this was very apparent to others but I did check with Tracy Libros in Enrollment), that the Summit 8,9,10th graders (now) will get a pretty good bump into whatever comprehensive high school they want. The reason is that Maier's amendment says for any over enrolled school that they apply for (after they receive their letters of assignment and if they reject the assignment), the first 2 tiebreakers (sibling, then reference/region) apply and THEN the priority placement they get from being displaced. Well, there is no reference/region for high school; the whole city is the region. So for those Summit students, after the siblings get in, they are next in line. And since there is no school that will fill its entire freshman class on siblings that means they pretty much get whatever they want. That means Roosevelt, Ballard or Garfield. For people who wanted an alternative experience, it's not much but it does allow them a

This could be a problem

I knew that I had read it somewhere, so I went looking for it and I found it. From page 107 of the .pdf of the appendices of the preliminary report on capacity management : APP students living in each specified region would be assured fo a seat in the APP program serving their region, with transportation provided. Students could apply to attend the APP program in the other region; assignment would depend on space available. School bus transportation would not be provided. This, essentially, grants everything that Director Maier's amendment would have granted and more, since it also applies to future students. Since this was not altered from the preliminary report and since the preliminary report was included in the final report by reference and since the final report was included in the Board Motion by reference, this is now the assignment plan for APP. In short, families can choose between Lowell and Thurgood Marshall - or between Hamilton and Washington - and could get an o

Final Vote on Closures

Updated amendments (Sundquist & Maier) and the Superintendent's Update presentation are posted on the web site . Maier apparently listened to Charlie today. ****************** 9:00 pm The emotional intensity tonight at the Stanford Center was overwhelming. I feel sad and exhausted and I'm going to bed. 8:20 pm Meeting adjourned. 8:10 pm Moving on to rescind School Board policies as listed in the agenda and making changes in reference areas. Unable to continue due to crowd shouting. Now continuing but I can't hear a thing. DeBell speaking about SBOC co-location with Nova at the Meany building. "Wish we had a newly rennovated stand-alone building for the SBOC, but we are at a period of scarcity and we cannot do that." Could not hear votes, but it sounds like both recommendations passed. 8:05 pm Sundquist reading revised final motion. Vote : Yes (5) : Sundquist, Carr, Chow, Maier, DeBell; No (2) Bass, Martin-Morris; revised closure plan passes . 7:5

Closure Meeting On TV Tonight

I just read on the West Seattle blog that the School Board's meeting tonight with the final vote on closures will be televised tonight on cable channel 26. See Seattle school-closure vote tonight: District says it’ll be on TV for details.

Dick Lily at Crosscuts; "All this means closure opponents will spend the day hoping for a miracle.

Dick Lily, former School Board director and now a contributor to Crosscuts (online zine), weighed in on the amendments submitted by Board directors yesterday to the final closure plan. If I didn't know his hair was already white, I'd think it turned white. He genuinely sounds upset (not tearing out your hair upset but not happy at all). His read: "Given the widespread and reasoned opposition to this round of closures (seven schools were closed in 2006), the longer term question will be where the district goes from here. Much of the goodwill and confidence that school families bestowed on Goodloe-Johnson when she arrived two years ago has evaporated. One can see the district’s central office building down in SODO as the new Fort Apache, where the folks in charge are alien and unconnected to the interests of the community they’re sent to serve." And, he doesn't mince words on the Board: "Similarly, many will see in Thursday’s vote a stunning lack of s

Times Weighs In (Did De Bell Tip His Hand?)

The Seattle Times had a column , a story and an editorial this morning about the closures. The story was about if the district doesn't lose any students in the closures (or very few) and how much money they could save over 5 years ($12.6M). From the article: "The district also hopes the economy will work in its favor, said school-board member Harium Martin-Morris. "A lot of people who might have chosen private schools in the past won't be able to do that as much." Hmm, I said that here and it got pooh-poohed. The economy is getting worse so time will tell. What did De Bell say? "Board President Michael DeBell points out that the district plans to open one new school as well as close five in an area where it might attract more students — and more money. That school will be a new K-8 in the northeast part of the city, where a number of schools are overcrowded, with long waiting lists. And he says he probably will support amendments to Goodloe-John

C-SIPs now online

The District has finally fulfilled a long-standing promise and has posted the Continuous School Improvement Plans (CSIPs) to the web. They were supposed to have been posted by November 30, 2008. These are the plans that used to be called School Transformation Plans and form the District's compliance with WAC 180-16-22. They sometimes make for interesting reading and you can search them for specific items. As you read them, notice how many discuss goals for raising students from Level 2 WASL results to Level 3 WASL results. And notice the dearth of schools that set goals for raising the number students with Level 4 WASL results. It's not on their map. They simply aren't interested in it. Here's another item to look for. Schools with Advanced Learning Programs are required to make mention of their programs in their CSIP to retain their program certification. Believe it or not, that is the only requirement - mention the program in the Plan document. Yet a number of el

Defense of the AAA in the Times

The Times today (1/28/09) ran a guest column by Gayle Johnson in defense of the African-American Academy.

Amendments to Closure Plan

Website now says 1:00 p.m. for amendment announcements. Please stand by. Amendments up; there are 6: Mary Bass asking for Nova to stay in Mann, SBOC in Old Hay, leave TT Minor at TT Minor and Lowell, in total, at Lowell. Basically, leave the Central area alone. Sherry Carr: Allow APP-qualified students who live in the Lowell walk zone to attend APP at Lowell. IMPLEMENTATION This amendment would only apply to elementary school students in the approved Lowell walk zone. For middle school these students would attend Washington, with the rest of the Central cluster cohort. Students could apply to attend Hamilton with the other Lowell students; they would be enrolled on a space-available basis and with no district provided transportation. (She notes that this is only necessary if Mary Bass' amendment fails.) Harium Martin-Morris: Co-locate the K-8 portion of Summit K-12 at Aki Kurose and merge the 9-12 portion of Summit with Nova. (This is a surprise.) Harium Martin-Morris:

NAACP Weighs In

The PI carried an op-ed this morning by James Bible and Phyllis Beaumonte, both of the NAACP. It makes some fairly inflammatory statements and bases them on review of the closure process, its criteria and the data. (I would provide a link but can't find it at the PI website; I'll check again later.) To wit: "The Seattle King Country NAACP is opposed to Johnson's school closure plan because it is likely to disproportionately affect children of color, the poor and students with learning disabilities. " So it has been argued here about minority and disadvantaged children and the movement of Special Ed programs has also been discussed but did anyone find evidence that more students with learning disabilities will be affected? (I'm not sure if they mean versus regular ed popular or versus other closures?) "Now that we have concluded our analysis, we have reached the position that this school district purposely has decided that some children are of valu

Closures on KUOW's The Conversation tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Update from KUOW: "We actually decided not to do a call in segment on this today . We’re just going to get an update from our reporter Phyllis Fletcher about the amendments. There’s a possibility we may speak with a board member." So no call-in to KUOW today. Original post: FYI, tomorrow , KUOW 94.9 FM's program, The Conversation, airing at 1 p.m. will discuss the amendments to the school closure package and what might be coming on Thursday.

A Summit Student Speaks

A bit ago, I posted an entry about The Re-Purposing of Summit K-12 . In comments on this blog, there has recently been discussion of the attitudes of parents in alternative education. This turns the discussion from the children affected to how their parents are perceived. In an effort to bring that focus around to what we really should be discussing, I thought it was time to share a student's perspective. My son, Jacob (also known as CiarĂ¡n), is a survivor of crippling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and major depression. He is a graduate of View Ridge's Spectrum program and has attended Eckstein (Honors), Blaine, and Hamilton. After three years in and out of schools, hospitals, and institutions, he washed up at Summit K-12 in eighth grade, as part of the Internalizing Disorders Program (IDP), at the recommendation of someone in Special Education. He talked about some of his experiences in a piece that aired on KUOW this morning, Summit: A Refuge From Teasing . He al

Updates Before Jan. 29th

First, I just looked at the agenda for the Thursday meeting for final recommendations. Please note: This meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. I make this note because other hearings have started at 6:30 and I didn't want anyone who wants to attend to go late. The agenda goes (1) vote on closures (2) vote on changing Board policies about SBOC and (3) vote on changing reference areas for TT Minor, Van Asselt, Cooper and Wing Luke. The amendments, if any are presented, will come before the vote on closures. Each amendment will be introduced, talked about and then voted on. Those votes will then influence what the final closure package will look like (this will keep Pam and Joan, the Board admins are on their toes; it'll be a busy night if they need to include any changes to the final package of closures.) Second, the minutes from the Lowell public hearing are up on the website. Third, the minutes from the last public hearing last week are also available.

How Do Principals Get Picked?

Many here have asked, how are principals placed? That's a difficult question to answer simply because the district does NOT follow a specific path. In the past they have: hired outside principals (that happened last year for Aki and AAA) picked ( and shuffled) from within the SPS principal pool allowed schools to form a committee usually made up of parents, staff (certificated and non), community members and sometimes (at the high school level) students who interview vetted candidates (vetted by both the committee and SPS Human Resources) With the last one, again, this is done in many ways. There was deep unhappiness several years back when Garfield's committee picked one candidate as the best but the district went with the other one. Being on the committee is a lot of work and people take it very seriously so to have the district go the other way on a decision is hard to take. In the end, no matter what, the superintendent makes the final decision. (Well, there is one p

Please Let Legislators Know We Need Investments in Education

From Kelly Munn at the League of Education Voters: Our kids can’t wait! Indeed, this is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our schools so every child graduates ready for life. Let’s continue to show our lawmakers that we expect change this year. Senate Bill 5444 and its companion, House Bill 1410, provide the framework for the next decade of investments in education. We need to continue our grassroots effort to ensure one of these bills reaches the Governor’s desk. We have two more opportunities tomorrow to testify and show support: Senate Bill 5444 Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee Cherberg Building, Hearing Room 1 Wednesday, January 28, 8:00 – 10:00 AM House Bill 1410 House Education Appropriations Committee John L O’Brien, Hearing Room A Wednesday, January 28, 6:00 – 8:00 PM Hit 'reply' and let us know if you can attend and/or testify. If you’re not able to attend, we’d like to make sure YOUR VOICE is heard. Send us your testimony at info@

Student Essay Contest: A Teacher To Remember

The Washington Education Association is sponsoring an essay contes t on "A Teacher To Remember". Here's the entry form . From the website: Washington state public school students in grades 3-12 are eligible to enter. Students may write about a special teacher who positively influenced them. One grand prize winner will be selected from each of the combined grade-level categories (3-5, 6-8, 9-12). There is a category for ESL/ELL students, and a category for multimedia entries. Here are the categories: Grades 3-5 -- Essays should be no more than 300 words Grades 6-8 -- Essays should be no more than 500 words Grades 9-12 -- Essays should be no more than 600 words ESL/ELL students (all grades) -- Essays should be no more than 500 words Multimedia (all grades) -- Presentation should be no more than two minutes Essays should be neatly printed or typed. Multimedia entries should contain audio-visual artistic elements, (not just a talking head), and be viewable on common Mi

If the Public Offered Amendments...

Following up on Sahila's earlier question, it is the Board who will propose amendments to the final recommendations for closure and consolidtion by the end of the day tomorrow. And, according to Michael DeBell, they will be posted on the district website by noon on Wednesday. However, if we were able to propose amendments to the final recommendations for closure and consolidation, what would they be? I posted one idea on giving any displaced students choice and priority for placement. (see Priority Assignment and Choice ). What would you propose?

Leadership Assessment

At the request of several blog readers, I'm starting a thread to discuss our assessment of the district leadership, staff and especially the superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. My comment on a previous thread summarizes my position on Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. I think Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is going to improve Seattle schools for most children in the district. I don't necessarily like her, I certainly don't agree with everything she says/does, I'm concerned about her lack of support for alternative education, but I am impressed with her and believe she's the right person to lead our district. It is standard process across the country to toss out the Superintendent every couple of years. That won't lead to better schools. We (the community) should work with the current superintendent, Board and staff to improve schools. And in terms of a Board assessment, I think this School Board (overall) is thoughtful, principled and willing to ask hard questions of the Superintend

Updated Info Via West Seattle Blog coverage

Thanks to the West Seattle blog for their coverage of yesterday's public meeting with Director Sundquist. There an important piece of information that needs to be clear because I had stated that I believed they could vote on each school. According to Director Sundquist they will vote for the amendments first (which, if adopted, would obviously change the package vote) and then, vote for the closures in their entirety as outlined in the final recommendations. Thus no school by school vote on Thursday. (It is not clear whether they can't vote school by school or decided not to.) From the blog: "But if there are amendments, he noted, “any and all permutations are possible.” That leaves the door open and now he's the second Director to say this. Either they are trying to look open-minded or there really might be something that they do not agree with in this closure package. Also from the blog this statement from Director Sundquist: "(The compressed tim

March and Rally to Stop Closures

March and Rally to Stop Closures and Support Schools Sunday, January 25 2pm @ TT Minor School, 1700 E Union March to Garfield Community Center, 2323 E CherryRally 2:30-5pm. Come anytime! This is an all-city, family-friendly event with music, food and good company. Come share your school's success stories, voice frustration, or just find out what's going on! Sponsored by ESP Vision

New K-8 at Addams

A request was made for a separate thread on what the new K-8 at the Jane Addams building should be. Here are some choices (although I'm not advocating for any of them, I think it would fill more easily with a focus rather than just being a traditional K-8): middle school IB program dual language program math/science magnet performing arts Also, while we're on this subject, what would the name be? Call it Jane Addams K-8 to honor the building namesake, Jane Addams? (Her name was selected from an essay contest to name the building in 1949. She was a noted American social worker who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. She was the first American woman to win the Peace Prize.) From the archives: J ane Addams Junior High School was the first secondary school constructed by Shoreline School District No. 412. At the time it was being planned, demographic studies indicated the school would serve all junior high students in the area for a long time. Few foresaw the tremendous popu

CPPS statement to the school board regarding closure decisions

TO: Seattle School Board members FROM: Board of Directors, Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle Date: January 23, 2009 RE: The Superintendent's Final Recommendations to the Seattle School Board Thank you for your community service and willingness to lead as board members during very difficult times. We appreciate that your decisions impact the lives of thousands of children and parents. Now that Seattle Public Schools’ closure/consolidation process is in your hands, parents and community members are relying on you to make tough decisions that will provide for financial stability in our school system, and sensitive decisions that will enable our communities to improve and thrive in the wake of change. Two months ago, in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer opinion column, Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS) emphasized our need for a closure plan that is more than a money-saving strategy. We called on district leadership to make direct connec

The Re-Purposing of Summit K-12

In comments on the post School Board Meeting on January 21 , there was a request for a separate post about Summit K-12, as well as much discussion about the decision to close the program. Many people seem to not know about Summit's unique situation in this process. Summit K-12, whether you consider it a program or a school, is doomed, no matter which way the board votes next week, without direct school board action. This post is simply a timeline and assessment of the current situation. Why Summit should be saved is a topic for another post. On November 12, 2008, the school board voted to "re-purpose" the Jane Addams building, Summit's home for the past 24 years, into a K-8 school, as part of capacity management in the northeast cluster. The original School Board Action Report can be found here , as a PDF file. The pertinent suggestion, in Attachment B, is to re-purpose the Jane Addams building for a new K-8 program with decisions regarding the future of the S

Last Night's Public Hearing

An interesting slog. It was a packed house with many Cooper and Summit parents, a smattering of TT Minor and AAA (although vocal) and APP parents (Lowell and Washington). Director Martin-Morris was not there and there was no reason given for him not being (although I know that every director did not attend every public hearing so he probably had a conflict in schedule). This meeting, combined with listening to the KUOW interview with Dick Lily, Michael De Bell and Mary Bass yesterday, has really turned some of my thinking. I do believe that I agree with Dick Lily; the district needs to table this for at least a year . It has gotten so convoluted. Phase II did not go through so this could happen but I believe it would damage the relationship between the Board and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson so they will continue on. However, after listening to the KUOW interview, I think there will be some changes to the final list (although no new schools added). Highlights from the interview Michael

Priority Assignment and Choice

Here's a copy of a letter I sent to School Board members and District staff today. I haven't had time to run this by anyone for feedback, so I'm interested to hear what blog readers think of the idea. ******** School Board members and District Staff, If you go forward with the closure of any schools or programs, please consider letting the students/families displaced by the closures have both priority enrollment and choice within the cluster where they live. As Tracy Libros said last night, the current proposal for assigning students prioritized having students closer to home over having large groups of students and teachers staying together in the move. I know some Cooper parents are advocating the opposite, and are looking for a way to have their school program moved intact. But not all parents/families want the same thing. Some parents may be thrilled to have first priority enrollment for an open spot (after siblings) in a school close to home. Others might be ha