Board Discussion of Superintendent's Final Recommendations
New: Online Q&A with Dr. G-J on 1/8 at 11 am.
Bass removed acceptance of Alliance Grant from the Consent Agenda, which means that it gave her the opportunity to make comments on it before the vote. Suggested people who are concerned about the Alliance grant talk with Carol Rava Treat (staff member).
DeBell announced new committees for this chair. I didn't catch all the details.
9:47 pm: Dr. G-J talking about sign-up for public hearing on January 22nd. (Strangely, she said it had been rescheduled because of weather, but that's not true.) Sign-up to speak at this hearing starts tomorrow morning by e-mail.
9:42 pm: Discussing proposed changes to reference areas. Proposed merger of Cooper and Sanislo reference area allows transporation of Cooper students to West Seattle South schools. Bass says this discussion makes it clear why assignment plan changes should happen before any school closure decisions.
9:30 pm: Dr. G-J introduces motions to change District policy as necessary to implement Final Recommendations. Motions are listed in the Superintendent's slide deck starting on slide 16. Details on each policy are listed here:
- Recommendation to close five buildings and to discontinue and relocate additional programs
- Recommendation to rescind or lift portions of three policies or board actions to enable the implementation of the recommendation
- Recommendation to make three elementary reference area changes to enable the implementation of the recommendation
Bass: says that Summit K-12 high school portion and Nova high school are affected by proposal and either shouldn't be or need further explanation about why these two are included but not others. Mentioned Meg Diaz's data analysis and an earlier report (didn't say by who) and wants to know staff reaction to those. Disproportionate impact on the Central cluster, wants to know reason and rationale.
Dr. G-J says "staff goes with students." Can't talk about where staff go until final decisions are made about where students go.
Sundquist: raising question about what legal requirements are for special education students having access to general education students and curriculum. Santorno said it is required for special education students, but not for APP students.
DeBell talking in general support of plan and process. Asking whether T.T. Minor Montessori program should stay with T.T. Minor General Ed program in move to Lowell to keep community intact. Has APP concerns/questions as well. Echoing Director Maier's comment that having 500 families who chose Summit K-12 (an alternative school) being assigned to a traditional school isn't good. Should be given option/priority to enroll at AS#1 or Nova or whatever Summit K-12 program wants. Also Cooper program has made progress on enrollment and academics. Seems to be a lot of pride and some real success there. Needs to be examined closely. If that program is going to be broken up, need to see how to maintain that success.
Carr asking about instrumental music program at Washington Middle School and how it's success will be maintained with loss of students.
Left to be with a child scared by the storm noises; let me know what I missed.
8:53 pm: just returned from tucking children into bed; commenters can let me know what I missed.
Martin-Morris: commended staff on quality of work in final report. Concern with regard to Lowell and having students that live in Stevens reference area go to Thurgood Marshall doesn't make sense since that is within walking distance to Lowell. Other question is around African American Academy. Wondering since building was designed for K-8 space, we should think about using it as a K-8. Looking at Aki which is a K-8 right now (no, DeBell corrected him). Martin-Morris continued that AAA building might serve Aki, a middle school, to better utilize that space for what it was designed for.
Sundquist: commented on process, and his sense that it has been good. An open process that is responding to things we learn is the right way for us to do this, even though it is unsettling for the community. Question: will North and Northeast capacity issues be addressed successfully with this recommendation? In terms of Cooper, concerns about what students those schools will go to and whether these schools will serve those children well. And for APP, two risks in general; political risk of messing with a program, and implementation risk. Believe that now is not a particularly politically risky time since there is administrative/leadership support for this and broad Board support for the program. The implementation moment is more difficult, primarily because of fiscal challenges. Not an easy situation to through substantial amounts of money at to address issues. Design teams will be key to success for changes to all programs. Wants more detail on teams so have high confidence in how implementation will happen.
Superintendent's recommendations: Coming up soon, Dr. G-J will speak. Here's her presentation.
8:20 pm: taking 15 minute break
8:00 pm: CFO's presentation: Don Kennedy speaking. Here's his presentation. Changes in budget since last time spoke since Governor's budget has come out. Change from $39 million dollar projected budget shortfall to $25 million budget shortfall.
Sundquist asks about where/how costs associated with closing schools is going to be accounted for. Don Kennedy says 1.9 million cost to close schools will be 1.4 million in the current fiscal year and .5 million next fiscal year. May be able to use unspent funds from current fiscal year to cover the .5 million the following year so that it doesn't affect next year's budget.
DeBell asks where transporation cost savings (2.2 million) are coming from. Kennedy says $400,000 potential savings from closing Summit and other programs would be in addition to 2.2. million currently in budget projections.
Bass asks whether schools we are being compared to with similar numbers of students also have students with similar needs. Kennedy said in this case compared with Garden Grove School District in California with more minority students, more bilingual students, more students living in poverty, fewer school buildings, fewer staff employees, and better student outcomes.
7:17 pm: Carla Santorno update on Special Education, Bilingual Education, and APP. Here are the slides from her presentation. I would love to hear from blog readers who know each of those programs well what they think about this presentation. The goals/strategies sound good to me overall for special education and bilingual programs, but I don't know enough about them to be sure that the recomendations are good.
Spoke about Summer Institute for teachers to provide professional development to support teachers in implementing these changes.
Sundquist asked about Special Education parent reaction to Superintendent's proposal. Fred Roe said has received e-mail from parents with concerns. Also talked about meetings they have had and are going to have with groups of special education parents. Will have a SEAAC (Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council) meeting tomorrow night from 7 pm to 9 pm in room 2776 at the Stanford Center.
Bass asked about "cohorting", importance of keeping groups of children together. Santorno talks about this being important for all students, but especially for students with disabilities. Spoke about autism programs and parents raising need for middle school cohort in West Seattle and said closure proposal addresses this. Said district hasn't done well in communicating clearly and early enough with special education parents about student placement, and wants to change that.
Also asked public to call main School Board number (252-0040) to contact her to communicate concerns/questions to Mary Bass about the proposal.
7:13 pm: Michael DeBell talking about process. Tonight after Superintendent's Final Recommendations are delivered, process moves into Board members' hands and out of district/staff hands. Implementation of any recommendations approved by the Board will begin soon after vote. Assignment decisions for all affected students in February. Then "goal is to...develop a policy around capacity management...to get 'closures on closure'...we ask your patience as we work through this and thank you for all the passion that you show in support of your schools and your children."
7:00 pm: Rochelle Brown, Meany parent, "burden of budget shortfall being placed on the backs of the most disadvantaged students in our district." Meany is most diverse middle school in the district. Spoke about potential impact on special education students (25% of population).
Brendan Ford, T.T. Minor parent and former Vice Principal at Cooper. Spoke on institutional racism and classism and unfair impact on children of color and low-income children. Wants displaced children to get first priority for any seat at any school, wants design teams to focus on successful transitions for these children.
Bill Butler, African-American Academy. Asked Board members, "What do you want your legacy to be?...You have the opportunity to right a great wrong."
6:50 pm: Nathan Schwartz, Summit K-12 senior, spoke about art program, ability for middle school students to work above grade if desired.
Shelly Williams, Cooper parent, spoke about growth in enrollment, partnerships with local organizations. Said being ignored by Steve Sundquist. Spoke about institutionalized racism and challenges faced by Cooper kids.
Dan Landers, Summit K-12 parent, said Board and staff still don't understand what Summit offers. Says over 400 families choose school despite frequently being threatened by closure.
6:40 pm: Dave Overman, Summit K-12, talked about how long they have been dealing with repurposing/closure proposal, and impacts on school community. Ed Lambert, Summit K-12, not finding a home for Summit will exacerbate crowding problems in northeast closure. Spoke on rigorous curriculum that is open to all students. SPS should work to increase market share instead. Summit K-12 should not be closed prior to other high school discussions, prior to Alt. Ed. Audit, and prior to assignment plan changes. Three high school programs (SBOC, Nova and Summit K-12) are impacted by this plan despite district claim that not considering high schools in this round. Beverly Nielson, Summit K-12, who had three children who spent all 13 years at Summit.
6:30 pm: Adam Ellner, Washington Middle School student, spoke against Washington/Hamilton split. Talked about impact on music program. Also spoke against Meany closure.
Bonnie Wilson, T.T. Minor parent and part of ESP Vision, showing petition of over 1200 signatures against closures. At T.T. Minor, 16 Rainier Scholars out of 25 kids in 5th grade. All teachers Spectrum trained.
Tom Johnston, wants "win-win." Objectives need to be transparent. Was Lowell-APP recommendation about access? financials? building condition? federal regulations? Wants "open and honest discussion" about benefits of splitting program and benefits of keeping it together.
6:28 pm: Meg Diaz, Lowell parent and ESP Vision leader (who did the data analysis posted on our site earlier) spoke on the "failure" of the plan. Not enough money saved, not enough capacity gained. Ignoring lost revenue from student attrition. Massively underestimating closure/move/redesign costs.
6:21 pm: Rachel Miller and Julie Weed spoke for Lowell/APP. Rachel voiced concern about whether district has resources to successfully implement change. Suggests that APP change be delayed until new assignment plan is established. Julie spoke on equity and access issue, suggesting less biased test, more outreach, and other efforts. Suggests working to fill south-end Spectrum (which has capacity) and add new north-end Spectrum (which is full) to increase equity and access.
Jim West spoke (Montlake and Meany parent) on behalf of Central district public schools. Spoke about gang violence and importance of Central district public schools and problem of disrupting so many kids in so many Central schools.
6:07 pm: Public testimony begins; I'm not covering all testimony because I'm multi-tasking at the moment at home alone with my kids.
- Carol Simmons calls out Mary Bass for praise for attending and contributing to a UW Alumni Equity fundraiser breakfast which raises scholarship funds for children who might not otherwise attend college. Also spoke on the Alliance Grant.
- Dazanne Porter testified on behalf of the African-American Academy, covering some of the history and how AAA has been badly treated by the district.
- Ricky Malone (who I believe was past AAA principal) spoke about the uneven impact on racial minorities of closures.
I am very intrigued to hear the Board members' questions for the Superintendent on her Final Recommendations.
Off-topic: Michael DeBell says that Dr. G-J and her husband are attending the Obama inauguration. Cool!