Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Superintendent's Final Recommendations

[Updated 6:30 pm with links to appendixes.]

So I was wrong about there being a meeting at 4 pm today. It was just a media briefing which has already happened.

See Cooper on list of school-closure “final recommendations” on the West Seattle Blog for details.

I'm reading the West Seattle Blog post myself right now and will add more to this post in a few minutes.

Full document of final recommendations is online on district page.

Changes from last time:

  • AS#1 is not closing but Summit is. However, AS#1 must create a restructuring plan and transportation is now limited to two clusters (North and Northeast). "If AS#1 does not meet the metrics outlined in the restructuring plan we will evaluate discontinuing the program for fall 2010."
  • Thornton Creek is not moving and expanding to K-8; instead a new traditional K-8 will be in Jane Addams building.
  • TT Minor General Ed program moved to Lowell. TT Minor Montessori still moving to Leschi.

And a bunch of the options discussed in December (like Montlake closing) are off the table.

The full report is now posted online along with an updated FAQ sheet. The appendices are now posted, but they are very large.

The 20 people who will get to speak during public testimony at tomorrow night's Board meeting are:

1. Carol Simmons, Alliance Grant
2. Chris Jackins, Alliance Grant
3. Dazanne Porter, African-American Academy
4. Ricky Malone, African-American Academy
5. Rachel Miller, APP / Lowell
6. Julie Weed, APP / Lowell
7. Chris Fitzgerald, APP / Lowell
8. Stacey Deveney, APP Split
9. Adam Ellner, APP / Washington
10. Leslie Harris, Capacity Management
11. Felecia Job, Closure Plan
12. Tom Johnston, Closure Process
13. Dan Landers, Capacity Management
14. Dave Overman, Summit K-12
15. Karen Kosoglad, Summit K-12
16. Jane Maurer, Summit K-12
17. Viola Spencer, Summit K-12
18. Cori Jaeger, School Closures
19. Akemi Hart, Sup't. Final Recommendation
20. Meg Diaz, Sup't. Final Recommendation

For those people still wanting to testify, there is another Board meeting on Wednesday the 21st, and then a Public Hearing on Closures is scheduled for Thursday, January 22nd, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Stanford Center.

The Board vote is at a special meeting one week later on Thursday, January 29th starting at 6 pm at the Stanford Center.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I did see some things I thought might happen did happen. Namely:

-new K-8 at Addams instead of moving Thorton Creek
-closing Summit
-moving TT Minor general ed to Lowell
-closing AAA
-moving Pathfinder to Cooper

Sad to see that SBOC didn't get their own building and Nova will have to move. Again, that capital money owed to SBOC better make a grand appearance at Meany to serve their students well.

I would think TC is breathing a sigh of relief. Not because they wouldn't have been a good K-8 (I suspect they would have) but it was a lot to throw at one school. It still remains to seen what face the new K-8 will take.

AS#1 got spared but it is probably going to stay on the radar for the district.

Odd that we all thought it was a Work Session and it wasn't.

TechyMom said...

This is actually quite a bit better...
I'd make two changes.

1) Move Summit to AAA building, and leave Van Asselt where they are.

2) Move Central Cluster Spectrum from Leschi to Lowell, and hire TT Minor's Spectrum-trained teachers to staff it.

I'd also tweak the APP assignment rules to put Central Cluster kids in the APP site closest to their house, rather than all at T. Marshall.

anonymous said...

I think the N/NE portion of the proposal is fairly sound, and I think that the staff has listened to what our community had to say.

A few comments:

I think leaving TC at Decatur is wise.

I think making Olympic Hills a dual cluster draw is wise, though I would love to see it become solely a NE cluster draw. The boundaries could be moved north, which would ultimately relieve a bit of pressure in the south. I hope that the new assignment plan will address this.

I think creating a new traditional K-8 at Jane Addams is also wise, although I don't understand why Summit was closed instead of moved to a more central location? As for the new k-8 I think it should have an attractive program, like traditional math, middle school IB, or something similar. Since it will be an all cluster draw, it will need to attract the families that live in the south part of the cluster as that is where the most over crowded schools are. I still have questions....will the school be a K-8 immediately? Will it be a k-2 or k-5 and grow? After the school accommodates all of the displaced N/NE cluster Summit students, and the autism program how much room will be left to alleviate the over crowding in the NE cluster?

That brings us to AS1. I like limiting the AS1 draw to the N and NE clusters. That is a good move transportation wise. But will AS1 be able to fill their already under enrolled program with a limited draw? I noticed as part of NCLB step 4 mandatory restructuring plan, in addition to limiting their draw, staff will work with AS1 to increase enrollment. I wonder how and what they will do? Staff also notes that if AS1 fails to meet the requirements of the restructuring plan they will close the program in fall 2010. I hope AS1 will take this warning seriously and begin to encourage their kids to take the WASL or work with the district to find a mutually agreeable alternative. If they don't and they move to step 5, the program will surely close.

Will keeping AS1 alive, and adding a new k-8 be enough capacity for the NE? What do you think?

Ben said...

I know we Lowell parents can be broken records, but I can't shake the feeling that SPS and MGJ just don't get APP. Or, rather, that they simply don't like it.

From the report:

"Additionally, because more students will be moved out of Lowell than will be replaced with TT
Minor students, we believe that this recommendation will alleviate the current overcrowding at Lowell, while also allowing some room for growth in either the general education or APP program. "

What APP growth? I still don't understand how moving the location of the (or part of the) APP set-up improves access.

From the report: "The decision to split APP reflects three things: (1) adherence to the guidelines around access to high quality programs—two separate locations and inclusion of students of all levels is expected to make this program more accessible to many...."

Inclusion of students at all levels? Huh? How does having a gen ed cohort housed in the same building improve anyone's access to anything?

From the report: "Two programmatic design teams will be created with this recommendation—one to facilitate the TT Minor/Lowell program and one to facilitate the Thurgood Marshall/Lowell program. These design teams will work on, among other things, how to create a cohesive learning environment for students at all levels."

What does this mean? What is a "cohesive" learning environment at all levels? You mean, what Lowell already had? Did Marshall have it already? If not, why not? Why assume the design team has magic wands?

Central Mom said...

The comprehensive report talks about assigning Cooper kids who live in the Cooper walk zone to Pathfinder. Similar item for Jane Addams K-8.

I appreciate that the District is trying to allow kids to stay in the building closest to home, but I thought that it was against district policy to assign kids to a non-traditional program.

Charlie, Melissa...Am I incorrect, or is policy changing here? And, if policy is changing here, won't that have an effect on the enrollment procedures around other alt and non-standard programs? This may not be top-of-mind for people tonight, but it sure will come into play with the next enrollment period.

CCM said...

"I'd also tweak the APP assignment rules to put Central Cluster kids in the APP site closest to their house, rather than all at T. Marshall."

That could only work if they allow these kids to move with the Lowell kids to Hamilton. Otherwise, they won't be with their "cohort" a they move to WMS.

"Move Central Cluster Spectrum from Leschi to Lowell, and hire TT Minor's Spectrum-trained teachers to staff it."

The central cluster Spectrum program is not successful at Leschi, so I agree that moving it is a good idea - although I actually think that moving it to Thurgood Marshall would be a better solution. Although T. Marshall is currently an ALO, it has been difficult determining exactly how many students currently take part in an advanced learning curriculum. T.T. Minor has Rainier Scholars and more neighborhood kids, so the mix at Lowell will work well.

Getting the buy-in from the APP community on the elementary school split will be difficult until details of leadership and other logistics are released.

Ben said...

"Getting the buy-in from the APP community on the elementary school split will be difficult until details of leadership and other logistics are released."


TechyMom said...

I thought the value of the cohort was not that it was the same kids, but that it was all gifted (weird, smart, likely to be picked on) kids.

Spectrum at T. Marshall would be fine by me too, but I thought there wasn't much room there?

Eric B said...

Policy C45.00 states that an an "indicator" of an alternative school is one where "Students and families have informed themselves about an alternative school and requested placement." Past practice is that students are not typically assigned to an alternative school.

CCM said...

They are moving 80 bilingual (EBOC) students out of T. Marshall to Hawthorne, and my understanding was that many of the remaining students are not Central Cluster kids. How many of these kids will still be given a "choice" to attend T. Marshall if they are out of cluster once the assignment plan comes out?

Which goes to show that making these changes BEFORE the assignment plan makes it very difficult to ascertain exactly how many kids will be assigned to a school.

I believe that T.T. Minor has more Central Cluster kids - and has more immediate neighborhood kids than Marshall.

Correct me if I'm wrong...

Ben said...

Seeing as Marshall's student body is something like 15 or 20% from the neighborhood, I would bet that a higher percentage of TTMinor's kids are from the neighborhood.

North End Mom said...

Central Mom,
I found no mention of walk-zone assignments for the Jane Addams K-8, only that it was to be an all-NE Cluster K-8. It is initially to be populated with students assigned to it that had been displaced from closed/repurposed programs (according to the super.'s report).

If you read about walk zone assignments somewhere in reference to the Jane Addams building, please refer me to the correct page, thanks!

I would think that walk zone assignments, in the case of the Jane Addams building, would be problematic, because it is only about 0.5 mile from John Rogers, a reference area elementary school.

Robert said...

60/ 200 are from tt minor ref area.
45 / 264 are tm


So does this mean that north central cluster has gained an elementary school? That would be a welcome change. But I would leave 5 new elementary schools just to have a proven educational milieu that works... APP/Spec ed at Lowell

Central Mom said...

Apologies North-end mom...shouldn't have tried to shorthand my thought. You are right. No walk zone assignment for Jane Addams.

It says "A small number of K-5 and 6-8 grade students impacted by building closures and/or repurposing who live in the Northeast cluster will be assigned to the Jane Addams building initially."

My point was the assignment. Granted, they're probably mostly talking about kids who are in Summit, another non-standard program. Many may very well choose this as their next-best option. But there's a big difference in the connotation of "priority" vs. "assignment".

For instance...priority could be given to those displaced students who choose to attend Jane Addams and Pathfinder schools...otherwise their assignment would be their reference school, which right now would NOT be a non-standard school. That way, the displaced population would actually have 2 choices, which seems the least the District could do.

Or, if the District wants to standardize the other way, then fine. But it's going down a thorny path because...for the 100th time...it doesn't have its nomenclature straight (and therefore not its transportation not its enrollment standards unified) around K-8s, alt schools, and non-standard programs.

another mom said...

"I know we Lowell parents can be broken records, but I can't shake the feeling that SPS and MGJ just don't get APP. Or, rather, that they simply don't like it."

Yup, that is what it seems to me as well. The 2007 APP Program review team suggested developing a vision, goals, and curriculum framework prior to any reconfiguration of the program. That same report goes on to say the curriculum should be fully functional prior to any change in the program. So much for expensive outside reviews.

"...inclusion of students of all levels is expected to make this program more accessible to many...."

This needs clarification. It is the "inclusion of students of all levels...." that is tricky and I am not sure what it means. To me, all levels implies that all students are academically gifted and need this program, or that all students need access to it? I am just not sure what the proposal is getting at.
The State's Highly Capable Grant(funds the AL office, testing, professional devel, etc.)does come with a few rules.
WAC 392-170 establishes the minimum criteria to determine if a child needs this kind of service.Districts are able to set a higher standard,Seattle does,but they must comply with the minimums. Certainly, SPS could change the APP eligibility criteria.

To go on, the State acknowledges that these students need something other than basic general ed. but gives Districts latitude to develop programs for identified students. Also, required is an educational plan for each student identified for the service. When I last checked the District was still working on this last item.

It is possible that the proposal as written, is in compliance with the grant.


another mom said...

Oh geez, I meant to say that the proposal may be OUT of compliance with the HC Grant. I must need food.

anonymous said...

Instead of assigning families who chose Summit an alt school to a now traditional Jane Adamms k-8, why not assign them to under enrolled AS1. Especially since AS1 will be even more under enrolled with the limited N/NE cluster draw. Wouldn't that make more sense than assigning alt students to a traditional school???

Central Mom said...

um, what's a traditional K-8 ad hoc? Simply those who have not identified themselves as alternative? What does that leave us with? Catherine Blaine and Broadview-Thompson? But the transportation policies for those schools are not the same as for "regular" elementaries. Nor are the middle school academic offerings the same as in a comprehensive middle school.

See what I mean about a thorny path>

momster said...

does anyone know the teacher's union contract well enough to know whether the Summit teachers get first crack at jobs in the new K-8 at Jane Addams, since the building isn't closing? i vaguely recall something like that.

If yes, and if several stay, won't that have a pretty signficant impact on the program there? might be difficult to fit alt teachers into a trad K-8 - and the program seems to have some popularity problems or it wouldn't have had declining enrollment for the last several years.

dj said...

Permit me to directly quote my six-year-old:

"Wait, I thought that they were moving us (the central and southern kids) out of Lowell because they had to close another school. If that school isn't closing, why do we have to move *now.*"

Mouths of babes and all. Anyhow, I think this is a more sensible plan in that moving Montlake into Lowell before the new assignment plan was short-sighted, and I have advocated all along for putting T.T. Minor in there instead of Lowell.

That said, I do not favor splitting up the program at Lowell without a specific plan in advance for doing so that complies with the district's own reviews. And given that the main problem with the Lowell location for attending students is that the northern Lowell kids live far from the school, it would seem more sensible to me to wait until next year and (if the district is as it seems to be committed to splitting the program no matter what else is going on) putting the north-end Lowell kids in a school in the . . . north.

anonymous said...

What I meant is the k-8 will not be an alternative school. It will be a traditional school, teaching in a traditional, conventional style, with a broader grade span. A broader grade span alone does not qualify a school to be alternative.

I'm certainly not advocating the Jane Adamms K-8 be used as an assignment or reference school, even though it will teach a traditional curriculum, as it will have a broader grade span, and as such should be a choice school.

What I said was that the displaced summit students, who had chosen too attend an alternative school, might be better served in another alternative school. Instead of assigning them to a traditional new school at Jane Adamms wouldn't they be better served if they were assigned to AS1, another alt school?.

Does that make sense?

mom123 said...

First response was to seek out information on the NE Cluster, as that is the area that hits closest to home.

I don't think the proposal will resolve the capacity issue in the NE. Especially, as Summit is to be closed and more than a majority of those students are from the North and Northeast clusters.

The second and lingering response is one of sadness. All of the numbers being crunched and shuffled are children and their friends, families and their communities. It seems like a very, very, sad night.

anonymous said...

Excellent point momster. If the Summit teachers choose to stay and teach at the new school, won't the new school take on a lot of the alternative nature and culture that the teachers bring with them from Summit?

Summit was not a popular program in the NE.

If the new school takes on the culture of Summit, it may not have a chance of competing with Bryant, Laurelhurst, Wedgewood, View Ridge.

Perhaps something a VERY strong principal could overcome??

Definately something to think about.

André said...

At least they continue to support their self fulfilling prophecy of declining enrollment in the Central Area. Though the boost to private school enrollment will be offset by a poor economy, there is always scholarship and hopes for a brighter tomorrow.

Beth Bakeman said...

Central Mom,
You're right that the current policy prohibits assignment of children to alternative schools. And I completely support that policy. Children/families need to "opt in" to what the alternative schools are offering in terms of philosophy and educational approach.

However, if Cooper students within the walk boundaries want to come to Pathfinder (if that final recommendation passes), I definitely believe they should have priority for enrollment for open spots.

And mom123, I agree about it being a sad night.

momster said...

re the teacher's contract, it looks like they get to take "vacancies" in the building if they are qualified/certified and commit to training and/or changes in the curriculum...

i don't know how "vacancies" will be defined for the new K-8 - though the contract probably has language for that - and i don't know how seniority will play into all of this. but i do know this kind of thing is no cake-walk and the union defends its displaced members fiercely (sometimes it seems even to the detriment of its non-displaced members.)

which is great if all of the summit teachers are gems - not so great if they aren't. (i have no idea.)

contract is here

one section that seems to apply is:


1. Instructional staff associated with a program that moves from one work site to another are assumed to move with the program. A teacher who prefers to stay at the original site may do so, if there is a vacancy for which he/she is qualified/certified and if he/she commits to the training or changes in curriculum as the Academic Achievement or Transformation Plan requires for the next year. A teacher who chooses not to move with the program or to accept a position at the original site (or for whom no vacancy is available) will be displaced and must apply and compete for other positions in the SPS.

2. If a program is terminated and then reinstated within two (2) school years, teachers who were in that program shall have first priority for the re-openings. The teacher will successfully complete the training as required in the school’s Academic Achievement or Transformation Plan and will revise curriculum and instructional methods to reflect the new direction of the program.

3. Prior to terminating a program or the closure of a school, any displaced teacher may choose from the following options: to remain at the original site if there is a vacancy for which he/she is qualified/certified and if he/she commits to the training or changes in curriculum as required in the Academic Achievement or Transformation Plan for the next year or shall select or be placed in a vacancy during Phase II, after those needing 504 accommodation have been placed."

mom123 said...

I've been told by others that the teacher contracts are all about seniority. Any teacher that is being displaced by a school or program closure can bump any other teacher that has less seniority.

If that is true then there may be former Summit teachers at Bryant, View Ridge or wherever if they have more seniority than a current teacher with less seniority.

I can ask my neighbor who is a SPS teacher.

another mom said...

The discussion of the APP split states that it is a new model,and is expected to develop strategies for accelerated learning to be used in any school. I am all for this except there are acclerated models out there AND less than 10 years ago, Thurgood Marshall was an accelerated model. So what happened to it? And why is it APP's responsibility to develop this new model? And isn't APP already an accelerated model?

seattle citizen said...

First, my sincerest condolences to those students, staff and community members who have lost a school or program, or are experiencing chaos in the switches. My heart goes out to all of you.

On displaced staff:

In the last round of closures, teachers who were displaced by the closing of a school got what was called "super-seniority". They were NOT allowed to bump people out of existing jobs; instead, they received a little bit of priority in hiring rounds. It was very confusing, and there were times when open positions were opened to all comers, then closed, the re-opened with displaced staff being able to interview for the positions before outsiders or those merely wishing to switch positions. If no job appealled to the displaced staff member in that "interview first" round, then they could wait until, I think it was mid-May, when all new openings would simply be offered to the displaced staff, and they could take the position if they wanted it. (As opposed to the interview precedence they had in the previous round).
At any rate, there was no bumping. I think bumping only kicks in if there is a general lay-off, a RIF, reduction in force, which this is not. THEN there would be bumping, as senior staff would keep their jobs...somewhere...as those with less seniority got bumped.

So, I THINK there will be no bumping this round. I'm not sure if displaced staff will have a shot at staying in the Adams building; the contract seems vague on this.

anonymous said...

Does anyone know how the transitions will work? For instance, when 1/2 of APP moves into Hamilton next year, will there be enough space for all of the existing students plus the new APP students? Or, will the existing kids for whom Hamilton is not their reference school be reassigned to their reference school?

another mom said...

Adhoc- the report speaks to specific instances where students will be moved to make room for other programs and students. The example that comes to mind is that Bilingual Programs at Thurgood Marshall are being moved so APP can be accommodated. If non reference area students were to be reassigned to make room for any other students or programs, it would be stipulated in the recommendations. I cannot fathom the outcry, if non reference area students at Hamilton were reassigned to make room for even one APP student. That would be an enormous mistake. My hunch is that some of it will be controlled with next year's new assignments to Hamilton. The new sixth grade class may have very few out of area students.

AutismMom said...

The closure/breakup/destruction of T.T. Minor will be the nail in coffin of the "private/public" money arrangement. After killing T.T. Minor, what investor, with any brain at all, would sink big money into SPS for another go 'round? I can't imagine it. And really, it is the public that should be funding the public schools. Private deals undermine that public responsibility. Personally, I think getting rid of big privatization will be a very positive result since the public-private arrangements always (and I mean always) excluded students with disabilities, leaving them stuck in the schools with no extra benefits. I realize that almost all posters here think that such it's aok to exclude some people with private arrangements. The problem is... it's always the same people. I'm sure they would feel vastly different, if the exclusion was applied to them.

Ben said...

"The discussion of the APP split states that it is a new model,and is expected to develop strategies for accelerated learning to be used in any school."

APP is new? Meaning what? APP is expected to develop strategies? What does that mean? The teachers are now charged with developing strategies for use at other schools? The principals? Who?

hschinske said...

My understanding is that Hamilton has plenty of room for half of middle school APP -- in fact I believe Charlie Mas was arguing that it had room for all of them (certainly *next* year, as it will still be in Lincoln, it's got room for anyone).

Helen Schinske

finance guy said...

Autism Mom,

I agree that there are issues with private money in public education, but where do you draw the line? Is it unfair for New School kids to have extras because the money comes from a foundation? What about kids at Montlake Elementary where parents provide hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of extras not available to many south end schools? And what about Graham Hill, where parents can pay extra and get their kids in the highly rated Montessori program? Do these arrangements also undermine the public's responsibility to fully fund k-12 education?

Josh Hayes said...

ad hoc wonders:

Instead of assigning families who chose Summit an alt school to a now traditional Jane Adamms k-8, why not assign them to under enrolled AS1. Especially since AS1 will be even more under enrolled with the limited N/NE cluster draw. Wouldn't that make more sense than assigning alt students to a traditional school???

Just as in the Summit program, about 80% of AS1 enrollment is from the NW, N, and NE clusters. If we could tweak the transportation plan to allow for the NW cluster, we can probably work out ways to get our other kids to school (carpools, escorted metro bus trips, and so on - we're a community: we want to retain everyone).

The problem, of course, is that AS1 is an alternative school, and kids have to opt-in to it. They can't just be assigned there.

It would not surprise me at all to find that a couple of dozen Summit kids - or more - choose AS1 for next year. This would have the salubrious effect of bumping up our enrollment numbers, and we'd have to add a couple of teachers, who might be from the Summit program, which would provide continuity.

And finally, might I add, this is only the Superintendent's recommendation: the Board has not voted on it. Let's not go off assuming that it's written in stone; for all we know the Board will decide that it's better to close AS1 and keep Summit in Addams.

(Well, no, not really, but you get the point.)

AutismMom said...

Interesting to note that students in EBD programs (emotional behavioral disordered), are being scattered to the wind. What about continuity for them? One of these programs was only opened last year at T.T. Minor. (in the middle of the year, I believe) Programs opened 1 year ago, would never simply be closed unless it was a sped program AND especially, an EBD program. What about their social cohorts? After years of district people whining about how bad the EBD programs are, and how grossly disproportional the programs are, the district is happy as a clam to toss them anywhere... or nowhere... Are these really just jail-training? And we all should be paying attention to this.

First the district has avoided making public the year-old EBD review. What does it say? Many have asked repeatedly. Next, the district just says "EBD students will be reassigned to their neighborhoods". Couldn't they at least go with their schools to the new buildings? Why can't Meany EBD students stay at Meany? Why can't TT Minor EBD students go to Lowell? (or Marshall?) Are those other schools simply full of more worthy students?

North End Mom said...

Central Mom,
I see your point about the K-8 nomenclature as it relates to assignment. I find it worrisome, as well. I read through a portion of the mammmoth appendices, and saw that students living in the Wedgwood, John Rogers and Sacajawea reference areas who attend programs slated for closure (elementary and middle school) are being assigned to the Jane Addams building.

I'm especially surprised that there will be middle school assignments to a K-8, as opposed to a comprehensive middle school.

The only reason I can think of for doing this is that all three elementary schools, Wedgwood, John Rogers, and Sacajawea, plus Eckstein middle school (the local comprehensive middle school) are currently overcapacity, and there is probably not room at all grade levels to quarantee a spot in these reference area schools.

AutismMom said...

Finance guy, yes... all those things you mention are problematic. I would draw the line at a dollar amount (I'm not sure how high, but it would be relatively small) I view NEW school as a problem, and Graham Hill to a lesser extent. That sort of funding means that students in inclusion programs are always in classes with 30+ students and with 0 extras.... because well, the big donor, didn't think that was important. They didn't think IDEA applied to them. Or, they don't know about IDEA. In short, the private money circumvents accountability and equity to all students. If that problem could be solved, the private funding might be ok.

Schools that don't serve all-comers should be "private" schools. There are many. If people like private schools, and have ideas on serving certain classes of students, they should fund those private schools. And the bigger the financial "gift", the bigger the problem. If gifts were equitably distributed, with guidelines, it would be OK.

Perhaps private funds should be distributed throughout the district. But how many would give gifts... if it didn't directly benefit their child? Probably not that many.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What I have always understood is that with teacher assignments that seniority is the key although the "super-senority" mentioned might come into play. This is one issue that many parents don't consider. Meaning, closures can affect ALL schools by virtue of senior teachers who are displaced being able themselves to displace less senior (usually younger) teachers. Another issue that is key is to try to get some non-certificated staff at each receiving school. People like custodians and front office staff that kids depend on seeing everyday.

On K-8s, the district has called K-8s that aren't alternative "non-traditional" and they have been in the enrollment guides under "Alternatives/non-traditional". I don't know if the district will continue this way into the future. As to K-8s not offering as much as a regular 6-8 middle school, well, be careful what you wish for. There was a lot of "we want K-8" but K-8s, by their size and nature, are not able to have the same offerings as a middle school. That said, it doesn't mean they couldn't have modest music and foreign language options at least.

Elizabeth W said...

Do the folks making comments (both in this thread and earlier ones) about moving displaced kids around among the various alternative schools really believe the alts are all interchangeable? Seriously?

To me this sounds an awful lot like the student council president and head cheerleader explaining why the band geeks, science nerds, and the smoking-behind-the-library crowd will all be happiest riding to the big football game in a different bus than the "normal" kids.

anonymous said...

Lets not forget that every displaced student who gets reassigned to a new school, will be notified in February of their new assignment. They are basically getting a priority assignment before the open enrollment process begins. That's a good thing.

And, any family that is not happy with the February assignment that the District gives them can participate in open enrollment beginning March 1st with everyone else.

anonymous said...

Melissa, Jane Adamms will probably be a mega K-8. The building can hold over 1000 kids, and it can easily be the largest K-8 in the entire district! It will certainly be large enough to offer everything that the comprehensive MS's offer.

Salmon Bay which has only 300 kids in their middle school offers a full sports program, thriving after school program, full array of electives, band, Int I math, science labs, etc. I hope the same for Jane Adams. If Adamms does offer everything that a comprehensive MS offers will it still be considered non traditional solely due to the expanded grades?

G said...

We are a Madrona family with kids in high school. Having watched Madrona K-8 serve a population of kids that, in the majority, does not live in Madrona, I have to ask why the APP community is now being given the responsiblity for improving 2 central cluster schools when the district has been unable/unwilling to step up to the plate and do that very thing. If Madrona, Leschi, TT Minor and all the rest were schools that served ALL those who lived in their neighborhoods, that produced programs and results that mirrored the schools that are in high demand just a mile or two away (McGilvra, Montlake, Stevens, TOPS), it would be the private schools that would be going through closures, not the public schools. Instead, there is some kind of acceptance of a lower standard, an insulting neglect of schools that serve the historically underserved. They continue to be underserved, and now they are closing or being merged with a cohort of the highest achieving students with the hope that this will be the panacea that makes everyone high achieving. Or in the case of Madrona, just being left alone, and no one I know is really sure why.

Somewhere in this closure plan, the idea that the district itself may have the responibility and ability to improve central cluster schools has not been made clear. The APP community is bearing the brunt of the work. They are the "involved parent community" that is so often cited as the hope for these schools. Please remember the experience at Madrona - it is not going to be that much different, no matter what design teams come up with. There will be a highly gifted program in a building with general ed kids. I would ask that the board look at TT Minor and the improvement it has made, think about how Leschi and Madrona and Thurgood Marshall can improve to serve their neighborhood so the kids living near those schools will want to enroll. I look back with much sadness that my kids, and all the many, many kids in our neighborhood, have gone to school, mostly private, all around this city, because Madrona did not serve our kids' educational needs, nor did it feel welcoming to our families. It is a huge loss to the district, and probably not that difficult to come up with a great solution - look north, to John Stanford, TOPS, Stevens, etc. Shuffling APP around is just masking the problem. Please dig a little deeper and come up with a real, innovative and lasting solution, and families will flock back to their neighborhood schools. We won't need closures if the district can improve the schools it has in these central cluster neighborhoods that are bursting with kids. And the thought that there will not be a middle school between Washington, at Jackson and 23rd, and Hamilton, at 45th St, north of the ship canal, bogles the mind. There are tons of kids in these central neighborhoods. I can assure you so many of these families would be thrilled to send their kids to thriving public schools. Please make them thrive. Don't close them.

uxolo said...

Here's a message in circulation. If you want a better plan, keep writing - to the mayor and city council:

In his latest newsletter (excerpted below), City Councilmember Richard Conlin indicates that the City Council is committed to funding and supporting Seattle Public Schools and recognizes the fundamental value of strong public schools to a city.

"The Council noted that, while the City of Seattle is not responsible for operating, managing or funding public education, the City Council regards successful public schools and a quality education as key to the social and economic vitality of our city and state, and that "… [t]he State should continue to provide for the full funding of K-12 education, which is the paramount duty of the State mandated by the state constitution."

Consider emailing your elected representatives know how you feel about the school district's proposals. After all, shuttered buildings, decreased enrollment and revenue, and fewer neighborhood schools will affect the entire city of Seattle. The Mayor and City Council members should consider how the current proposal disrupts communities and that the possibility of steep enrollment decline is high if this proposal is accepted. It is public schools with successful programs, like APP and others affected in the current proposal, that make Seattle livable. This should be of great concern to them. Let them know that with this current proposal the gem that is Washington and Garfield music is in jeopardy. Let them know that for families who do not choose private school for personal or financial reasons, moving or choosing schools which are out of District may be the only option.

Write to the city council and the mayor at:
Send an e-mail to Mayor Nickels' office using this form:


To read the full content of Richard Conlin's December 30 Making it Work, follow this link.


scroll down to:


Danny K said...

"Getting the buy-in from the APP community on the elementary school split will be difficult until details of leadership and other logistics are released."

From Caddyshack:
"You'll get nothing and like it!"

Let's face it guys, we'll get lots of sweet talk and promises about design teams, and not much else.

And no, I don't know what a "cohesive learning environment" is, although I suspect it has something to do with avoiding fights between kids in the lunchroom.

another mom said...

"APP is new? Meaning what? APP is expected to develop strategies? What does that mean? The teachers are now charged with developing strategies for use at other schools? The principals? Who?"

And that was my point. APP is not new but is now described as a new model and tasked with developing something that can be used at other schools. It's in the document. And yes, who will develop these new strategies? Who will have the time? Won't they be busy adjusting -with the help of the all powerful design teams- to new buildings and other programs? In a couple of sentences,the administration of a program (in existence since 1978!) has been fundamentally altered with no consideration of the educational objectives of that program.The educational objectives of a program have been changed in the context of a capcity management plan. I am not saying that the program cannot or should not change. I am not saying never split the program. But their own outside review told them not to change anything until a vision,clear goals, and an articuluated curriculum was developed AND functioning. It boggles the mind.

G said...

I have to add that in the case of the Madrona neighborhood, families go private in large part because it is easier to get into private schools from Madrona than into the public schools to the north of us. The distance tiebreaker is not kind to Madrona. It is not because families would go private anyway, just that they cannot get into public schools that meet their childrens' needs and the families' demands for a high performing school.

Unknown said...

Yeah, we followed the advice to email our elected representatives. While the response was prompt and courteous, it was a brush-off:

"As I am sure you know, the Seattle City Council does not oversee the Seattle School District . . . "

Megan Mc said...

The district better use the promised Alternative Schools Audit as its guide for the restructuring plan for AS#1. As an AS#1 parent who argued for a sound restructuring plan based on the alternative schools audit, with legitimate support from the district, I worry that the new plan will standardize the AS#1 program and drive current families out.

Without NW transportation (not to mention all city transportation) our numbers will drop if kids can't get to the school. I agree with Josh that we will come together as a community to find ways to get these kids to and from school but it will be a major obstacle for many families.

How can we hope to attract the 70+ students needed to fill our building next year if the open enrollment period ends in March and the audit isn't slated to happen until the Spring? How can we promote our program under the threat that it will be radically changed after the restructuring plan is created?

AS#1 can't absorb all of the displaced Summit K-8 from the N, NE clusters. Many of those children will be left with no Alternative School option. Those families should be guaranteed placement in one of the 3 remaining Alt schools if they so choose. The best option is for the board to direct the Superintendent to place the Summit Program at Lincoln for the foreseeable future.

This proposal feels like a slow death sentence for AS#1 but I have faith in our community that we will take control of the situation and not allow ourselves to be bled out. We will come out of this threat with renewed purpose and passion.

My heart aches for the Cooper, Meany, AAA, TT Minor, and Summit families. Having your program discontinued is so demoralizing. How can the district hope to retain these families when they have been so betrayed. The proposal to scatter these children to the wind is wrong.

If they can forcibly move students about now, what is to stop them from doing it to all families under the new assignment plan? It sure would make things easier for the district to put all those little bodies back in their reference area schools and communities be damned. They could justify it by arguing they need to for ... capacity management and financial reasons.

another mom said...

Someone much smarter than I will probably shoot this idea right out of the water, but I am going to suggest it anyway. A pipe dream

What if...

Close Lowell
Move APP back to Madrona. Move Lowell's Sped. population to Madrona if possible and begin planning for those students to be closer to home. Autism Mom please jump in here and let me know if this is doable and legal. If and when the Sped students leave Madrona, move a bilingual program in to co-house with APP.
Gulp, reassign Madrona population to their neighborhood schools. Some may end up at Leschi,Thurgood Marshall, and Minor.
Donot close TT Minor; population projections suggest that SPS needs this building. Give the neighborhood program a chance to grow.Develop a viable Spectrum Program WITH an ALO as well at Minor. Move the Montesorri program to Leschi.Leschi becomes an all Montesorri school. Spend the time AND resources at Minor and Leschi rather than on design teams at four different APP schools. And lastly close Montlake when the new student assignment plan comes on line. The building is too small and is on property that will not accommodate expansion. Don't hurl too many tomatoes at me.

anonymous said...

Megan, AS1 has been given a reprieve. The District has decided not to close the program. At this point I would start thinking about how AS1 can work WITH the District so that they will support and sustain your program. I would think that AS1 begin planning how to grow your program and fill your building. And begin to think about how you can avoid moving into step 5 of NCLB, which will be sure death to the school. I would imagine the first step would be to encourage all families to take the WASL or work WITH the district to come up with a mutually acceptable alternative assessment. I don't see the District standardizing AS1, but they will, and should hold the school accountable. I think MGJ means business. If the AS1 community resists the restructuring plan she will close the school. It's up to AS1 now as to whether the program lives or dies.

Ben said...

"And finally, might I add, this is only the Superintendent's recommendation: the Board has not voted on it. Let's not go off assuming that it's written in stone; for all we know the Board will decide that it's better to close AS1 and keep Summit in Addams."

My understanding:

At this point, the Board can vote yes or no. That's it.

Belle1 said...

I don't see how adding half of Lowell's APP to T.M. is going to benefit Marshall, and my colleaques at T.M. share this view. If our students don't qualify for APP, then how can "increased access" apply? Also, few believe that APP parents should be expected to "uplift" T.M. through their fundraising efforts or that this would happen. The rationale for splitting the APP program, as explained by the district, seems specious at best. And, to cap this off, our staff has basically been told that we bear responsibility for this situation due to our poor WASL performance!

Beth Bakeman said...

I know this is a minor detail, but is the uniform policy at Thurgood Marshall going to apply to the APP students moved there? Or will the uniform policy change?

The alternative of having some kids wear uniforms and some kids not seems unthinkable to me. Although someone on blog said that injustice is currently perpetrated on special education students in some locations who wear an identifying piece of clothing (t-shirt?).

Megan Mc said...

Adhoc, I don't think the community will fight the restructuring as long as it is done with Alternative Education principles in mind. I am excited about having a clear process in place for us to revitalize ourselves but M G-J has demonstrated that she doesn't understand alternative schools and the district has no experience with restructuring an alternative school. They can't just cancel recess and field trips, purchase boxed curriculum and tell the teachers to read the script and teach to the test - which is commonly done for traditional schools in restructuring.

As for the WASL vs alternative assessment, I'd love to work WITH the district on a mutually agreeable way to prove that our kids are learning. There was no consequence for AS#1 not taking the WASL until we qualified for Title 1 status this year. The new implications of asserting their legal right to opt out of taking the WASL may cause some families to reassess their positions if the district does not agree to an alternative assessment.

My main question, as a member of our enrollment committee, is how do we attract new families to the school, and retain current ones, if we can't articulate what the school will look like next year in time for the open enrollment period?

dj said...

Beth, that (the uniforms) is something we've been told will be up to the principal. Whoever the principal might be.

I have personally often thought it peculiar that the "good" (waitlisted) central cluster schools don't have uniforms and the underenrolled schools do.

reader said...

Autismmom re "scattered to the wind" for children in the emotional-behavior programs: we are also concerned. The SPS new assignment policy and the sped audit are big on keeping student cohorts together - why are these values not applying to EBD students who are affected by closures/consolidations? Is something better being proposed?

anonymous said...

Megan, I would think that AS1 would start the recruitment effort at Summit. Start by visiting a Summit PTA and/or site council meeting and letting their parent community know that Summit students will be welcomed with open arms at AS1. Ask the Summit Principal if you can put a note in their newsletter, or on the web site. Have a special Summit student visit day at AS1!

Let the greater community know that AS1 is committed to working with the District to make the program a strong and successful school. Communicate clearly what you wish to do as a community to meet the restructuring requirements set forth by the District.

Finding an alternate assessment to make sure that the school can show that the students are performing well will prevent it from moving into step 5 of NCLB. That would be a great first step!

There is no need to limit field trips or recess or anything else if kids are performing well on the alternate assessment. All of the other alt schools have plenty of camping, field trips and recess. However if AS1 kids aren't performing well on that assessment, then be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work. That may mean voluntarily limiting the amount of time spent out of class and focusing on academics until kids are up to speed? Or??

AS1 does not have to sell out, but you will have to compromise and have the ability to truly work side by side with the District.

dj said...

I just went to try to find what happens with the recs from here (if they can be amended; if the board can amend them or if they have to vote them all up or down), and couldn't find a source for the process from here.

Could anyone clarify? I posted upthread that I thought the recs couldn't be changed from here (just accepted or rejected), but I am realizing that this is something I was told verbally from some folks who may or may not have known what they were talking about.

Ben said...

I have assumed that the Lowell APP kids going to Marshall will be viewed as "visitors" or "outsiders." We're not creating a new school here—the south-end APP kids will be entering an existing school.

So, yes, I assume they'll be wearing uniforms. After all, they're the newcomers to an existing school, so—even though they will outnumber Marshall's gen ed cohort, and even though the rationale for uniforms doesn't really apply to the newcomers—they will be expected to fall in line.

Josh Hayes said...


I see your point, and I agree that displaced Summit kids and their families are natural recruits to AS1 -- heck, they've been sharing busses for yonks -- but I have to think that rushing out and recruiting Summit families at this point is, well... tacky.

Their school hasn't even been closed yet: the board may yet vote to say "whoa" to the whole thing. I'm sure there are at least a few Summit parents reading this blog and while I admit it looks bleak for that school, I'm not willing to start picking at the bones, y'know whaimsayin?

In the long run, IF Summit is doomed, then, yes, I think there's a good chance AS1 could pick up a few dozen families from the current Summit enrollment. I don't know if that would offset our potential losses from curtailment of transportation -- and come on, losing even NW cluster transport? That includes the U-District, fer crissakes.

I'm eager to work with the district to develop the restructuring plan, as long as the district is willing to work with us. If this is going to be simply a "my way or the highway" session, however, then my choices are walking away or walking to my lawyers' office, and we'll just have to see how it develops.

Adhoc also says:

All of the other alt schools have plenty of camping, field trips and recess.

Um. No, they don't. And in some ways, we don't either: "recess" goes away for middle-school aged kids (much to my son's chagrin!), and while we've had to cut back a lot on out-of-school time, there's no school in the district that even approaches the field work we do at AS1. I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing, it's just reality: we're all about experiential learning. You don't learn just by hearing, you learn by hearing and then doing.

I'm withholding judgement on the whole thing at this point. It's clear that the G-J administration wants to push for standardization; it's not surprising that people who regard children as a product also regard schools as factories. It makes the job of administration so much easier. Unfortunately, the "school" part of "school administration" gets lost in that calculus.

If they're serious about sustaining alternative education, they will welcome community involvement in developing the restructuring plan. Time will tell.

squeagle said...

Belle1, thanks for speaking up from Thurgood Marshall! No one but the school board seems to know how plunking APP into Thurgood Marshall will "increase access" to the program. They're showboating, have yet to state how this plan will benefit of the students.

Belle1 said...

Thanks SaraD. I've wanted to post for quite a while, but am paranoid about my employment. . . :)

Unknown said...

Regarding AS#1 and its restructuring and increasing enrollment...

I don't believe there is a lack of ideas of what to do, or even a lack of enthusiasm or commitment to making improvements. Working together with the district will be a welcomed change.

The problem is that the district has never worked together with AS#1 in the past (in fact they've often done things that have directly worked against us), and with the multitude of changes to implement in the coming months, it's easy to see that they won't have time to work with us in the near future. The alternative schools audit is scheduled for "the spring." This most likely means we'll have some information about criteria for the restructuring in "the spring" - ie, after open enrollment is over.

We've got experienced marketing professionals in our school community - we know how to create a plan for effective positioning, and we already have plenty of creative ideas ready to go. The problem is we won't have a clear idea of our vision (the vision that is determined through collaboration with the district) until it's too late. If the restructuring plan is based on the alternative schools audit - as it should be - then how will we communicate to people what the new and improved AS#1 is all about? Anyone who has had any experience in marketing knows that you need to know what your "product" is if you hope to be successful at "selling" it.

Perhaps this means the AS#1 community has some work to do - figure out what direction we're going and hope that the district agrees when the time comes for us to have the discussion (after the new families have already enrolled, of course)

It's just another case of things being backwards. Par for the course, I guess, but it's no fun to be put in a position where you just plain can't do the job properly.

anonymous said...

Josh, obviously I didn't mean for AS1 to go ring Summit's doorbell tomorrow. I meant if and when their closure becomes official.

And, I'm not so sure that MGJ's aim is simply to standardize AS1. She is after all mandated by federal law at this point to restructure your program.

RE alt schools. Many still do a lot of out of class time. When my son was at Salmon Bay we calculated that he was out of his classroom at least 1/5th of the school year (one of our reasons for leaving). And, though the policy is no recess for MS students, my sons teacher let them out during homeroom for over a 1/2 hour every day.

Wen my sons were at Thornton Creek they went on field trips once or twice a week, camping twice a year, Wild Waves, went on walks in the neighborhood. They had a lot of out of classroom time.

And Lara says "Anyone who has had any experience in marketing knows that you need to know what your "product" is if you hope to be successful at "selling" it."

You must be thinking more of re-inventing your "product"? Has the District communicated that you need to do this? I was simply thinking that your students take the WASL and pass it would be a major stepping stone to your success. It will pull you out of NCLB, and all of the mandates that go with it. You would no longer be a Title I school. You don't really need vision or marketing to do that. The only other thing AS1 really needs to do is fill the empty seats in your building. That doesn't really take much vision either if your not reinventing your school. But it will take some work. I guess I'm still not clear on why the AS1 community feels that it is reinventing itself, and that MGJ is trying to standardize the program???

Anonymous said...


you're wrong about the uniforms. Dr. Vaughan specifically said at the APP Advisory Committee meeting in early DEcember that at TM, new admin and staff, along with parents would be deciding on uniforms or not. Also, the reason any school has uniforms is a school-wide decision. If parents and staff had not made the decision at some point to require them, they wouldn't exhist.

That is why some have only color requirements such as at Aki, where students wear black or blue bottoms and white collared tops, but at AAA they can choose a specific plaid in addition to another set of colors entirely.

Belle, I'm sorry you and your staff feel the way you do about APP coming to Lowell and the implications you feel the district is making about test scores. I am the parent of a child of color APP student who would be going there next year, and who is a former preschooler there.

As Dr. Vaughan explained it, the ALO opportunities at TM have already set it up as a place where advanced learning is availailable and wanted. Adding APP will allow for some cross-learning between the two, as well as making APP more attractive to families of color who did not or might not choose an nearly all-white APP at Lowell.

That resonated with our family as we nearly didn't go with the program on racial lines alone. Though the education has been first-rate, our daughter has experienced a couple of incidents of racism from some students. When she attended TM several years ago, she was certainly not the girl who stood out as different because of her race.

I'd like to know, Belle, if your views are shared by your coworkers. If our daughter will not be welcomed at TM, perhaps we'll leave APP. I just want you to know that our family, and many APP families from south Seattle plan to do all we can to make the new assignment work for ALL the kids-not trying ot take over or view your students as "less than", but seeing the move as opening up a world of possibilities for everyone.

A meeting last month of many south nad West Seattle parents ended with a vote of who would not only make the move but work to ensure it was a good one was near unanimous in approval among the 50 or so parents in the room.

Free said...

"At this point, the Board can vote yes or no. That's it.

NOT SO! Mary Bass confirmed last night that the board is still open to influence and the plan still in flux.

Kirsten Wild said...

Belle1, it was really good to see your post; TM has been silent in much of this discussion, and with the lack of a PTA at the school the Lowell community has had a hard time figuring out who to coordinate with to ensure the best outcome for all students.

From the moment the split was proposed with the explanation that it would "increase access" to the APP program I've thought it was bogus - there has been no explanation of how access will be improved. I think the co-housing will be detrimental to both TM students and to Lowell students for a complex bunch of reasons. But up until you piped up no one from TM was backing this up (or advocating for the co-housing, for that matter). Please, even if anonymously, let Board members know of your concerns from the TM perspective. They've heard plenty from Lowell parents. If your co-workers and TM parents have concerns please have them make these concerns known. When it's all coming from Lowell it aggravates the sense that we're spoiled elitists; if it's coming from both Lowell and TM it may make Board members sit up and realize there are some real problems with the proposed co-housing that will hurt students on both sides.

Melissa Westbrook said...

My understanding from past closures is that the Board can support all or parts of the closure plan. They could, for example, say:

-move Summit to Meany because they don't want to close Summit.
-leave Nova where it is in a low-cost building that could easily be remodeled for a low-cost (see South Lake High School)
-find a place for SBOC and make sure their long-overdue BEX money follows them. They should consider this because in order to move SBOC to Meany they will have to amend current Board policy about SBOC. If they move them and don't amend that policy, then they make all Board activity look weak.

As for the Lowell students at Thurgood Marshall, again, Carla Santorno said that the design teams will come in and work with parents about how to join communities. She very much made it sound like two communities joining rather than the Lowell students joining the Thurgood Marshall community. She may have misspoken but I would think it would go that way because such a large group of students in coming in as one cohort rather than several students who had a reassignment.

Again, it's all about the follow-thru.

squeagle said...

agibean, thanks for your comment! I fluctuate between hope and fear for the new TM/APP program. The fear part is that the District's stated reasoning doesn't make sense. It seems what they really want is to change the perception of Advanced Learning — that's the "access" part (it's got nothing to do with testing or long bus rides). I wish they'd say so.
Also, they're making this move in a cost-cutting environment, and I'm skeptical that they will appropriately support both the general and APP programs.
The hope part is...well, an anti-bias curriculum. In multi-cultural South Seattle we have such an opportunity! Where can we go with it?
I want to move ahead with TM/APP, all the while holding the District's feet to the fire. This school's going to need nurturing — by which I DON'T mean one group "uplifting" the other. We all have lots to learn from this. But let's not fool ourselves — that will require educating the parents (myself included) as well as the children.

Ben said...

""At this point, the Board can vote yes or no. That's it.

NOT SO! Mary Bass confirmed last night that the board is still open to influence and the plan still in flux."

Yeah, I saw that. I almost wish it were just a yes/no vote at this point.

seattle citizen said...

I woudln't think that it would be a simple yes/no action on the part of the board. While that might be the case for the final product, in reality they can tell the superintendent that they want something else, instead, and there would be negotiation until a plan was put forth that the board would approve or deny on a yes/no vote.

I understand your desire to have a final resolution, but the process allows for the board to have its say. We must all wait, on pins and needles, for three more weeks. This also allows for further conversation and suggestions that might impact the final plan.

Maureen said...

I think that AS#1 families should NOT all start taking the WASL right away. Instead, they should slowly phase in more kids taking it year by year so that it looks like their scores are slowly improving over time. Evaluating AYP is all about progress, not levels. It will take some work to figure out how to do it so that all sub groups improve from year to year, but the fact that they are starting with all of those zeroes will actually make it easier to fake progress in terms that the District will accept.

At the same time they should work with the DIstrict to set up alternative standards that both can accept. The ALt school audit should address whether or not alt schools can opt out of standardized testing, given that one of the key elements that defines alt in Seattle (according to the ALt report) is alternative assessment.

seattle citizen said...

Sad to say, you are absolutely right about AYP. It's the PROGRESS part. It begs the question, what happens when a school is perfect? It can't progress, so it goes through the AYP steps and is closed as a failure....

Seriously, tho', you are right that given the situation of the WASL usage in reporting on schools, why not work it to your advantage? If you are starting from zero, plan for incremental progress (as reported by WASL scores) in the necessary sub-groups, and the state will be happy.

But more seriously, YES, work with district to develop mutually acceptable alternative assessment tools. This could be a great opportunity to research and pilot some interesting, effective, and much-needed formative and summative assessments that both help the student and show outsiders the successes.

Charlie Mas said...

One the whole, I like the final recommendation.

The solution in the northeast, to repurpose Jane Addams as a neighborhood K-8 is the best possible solution. It would be nice if the District could find a new location for Summit, but I don't know if enough Summit families would follow the program out of the neighborhood to make it worthwhile. The Jane Addams K-8 could either have a reference area or, with a signature program, be an all-cluster draw. Unlike a lot of other people, I don't think that the northeast needs more middle school capacity, but it can't hurt.

I have confidence that the design team can make a strong, attractive program at Jane Addams whether it has a reference area or not.

I applaud both the decision to give AS#1 a chance to prove its worth, and the requirement that they do so. Closing AS#1 did not advance any capacity management effort. The decision about the continuation of that program should be made independently and based solely on the school's merits.

The solution for the central area middle schools is the best possible solution. All of the central area middle school students can fit comfortably at Washington, APP can survive the split, and a north-end location for north-end APP students is a strong positive. It is a positive for Hamilton and Eckstein as well.

I have confidence that the design teams - and a written, taught and tested curriculum - can make APP better than it is now, both at Hamilton and at Washington. I have no worries about the music programs at either school. Rather, I look forward to more challenging electives for APP students at Washington.

The choice of Meany as home to the S.B.O.C. and NOVA is a good choice. I have heard some chatter about how folks from East Africa are uncomfortable with sexual minorities, and that has given me some concerns about how well the S.B.O.C. community will accept the Miller Park location and the co-location with NOVA. Both Capitol Hill and NOVA are known as safe homes for GLBT folks. I'm sure it isn't anything that can't be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Likewise, I am confident that NOVA's concerns about autonomy and security can be addressed.

The solution for the central area elementary schools is a good solution. The weak element is the failure to find a north-end location for the north-end APP students. The District should continue to work to find one so they can comply with Policy D12.00 and Policy C56.00 and good program placement practice. B F Day looks like a strong candidate to me. As for making the co-housed programs at Lowell and Thurgood Marshall work, again, I have a lot of confidence in the good will of the communities and in the design teams freedom to get it right. I expect a lot of APP siblings to be in those general education programs. I expect APP to be stronger and more consistant than it is now, thanks to a written, taught and tested curriculum.

To answer a question, neither Lowell nor Thurgood Marshall could host the Spectrum program for the Central cluster because they won't have enough seats to offer a Spectrum class and a ALO alongside the APP. That said, it should be relocated away from Leschi. That will come with the new student assignment plan. Stevens looks like a good choice to me.

The solution in the South cluster, to bulk up the enrollment at Hawthorne with the E.B.O.C. students, is a step in the right direction and all of the action that is really needed right now.

The solution in West Seattle, to move Pathfinder to Cooper, is the best solution available. Which is to say that all of the other options - including doing nothing - are worse. There will be costs associated with reconfiguring Cooper for use as a K-8, but they will be less than the cost of building one from scratch.

The solution in the Southeast cluster, however, has some serious faults. Using the AAA building as a K-5 is a dreadful waste of a building configured as a K-8. It also makes for some bad reference area options with two neighborhood schools, Van Asselt and Wing Luke, so close together. Finally, it creates a 600-student elementary school, and I don't know anyone who wants that.

A better solution, I believe, would be to leave Van Asselt where it is and put it at the top of the list for renovation on BEX IV. I suggest we put The New School in the AAA building - it is right for them by location, size, and configuration. I suggest that we close Aki Kurose and open a new middle school at the South Shore building. We will save a lot more money closing the Sharples building (Aki Kurose) than we would save from closing Van Asselt. It would provide the District with a good-sized interim site in the south-end which they really need. It would allow the District to start a new middle school in a new building with a new principal, a new culture and, if they like, a new staff. The new building will be close to the high school to facilitate a "pathway" and collaboration.

another mom said...

"The hope part is...well, an anti-bias curriculum. In multi-cultural South Seattle we have such an opportunity! Where can we go with it?"

Yes, and I applaud your optimism. But it is difficult to develop curricula and a vision for the program with staff scattered in multiple buildings, four different principals(2 elementary, 2 middle), potential of staff turn-over, and a highly over-worked program manager trying to keep everything balanced.APP is not his only responsibility. Their own outside review recommended having the "foundational" pieces in place before reconfiguring the program. And I can't wait for the unveiling of the cobbled together curriculum and vision right before the board vote. There is too much cart before the horse here, and this is so typical of the way SPS operates. Looks wonderful on the surface but the details are often neglected or ignored or can not be supported for lack of resources. And right now resources are extremely tight. Holding their feet to the fire? Sure, you can try. Be prepared. This will need constant vigilance.And if you want to know what APP will look like in say two or three years, you need to look no farther than Spectrum. That wonderfully consistent program. Sorry for the cynicism/sarcasm but the District has been fixated on splitting APP for 20 years. The idea that somehow splitting APP will make it better is not new. Look carefully at the language in the proposal. It appears that this Superintendent has succeeded in dismantling two of the oldest non traditional programs in the District. Summit and APP.

another mom said...

Charlie, your sunny outlook on this entire proposal is breath taking to me. You suddenly trust the district? In piecing this together, they have ignored their own reviews. The new student assignment plan with new reference areas should have been tackled first.

Ben said...

Charlie says: "The solution for the central area middle schools is the best possible solution. All of the central area middle school students can fit comfortably at Washington, APP can survive the split"

Sure, it can. If you say so.

Charlie says: "As for making the co-housed programs at Lowell and Thurgood Marshall work, again, I have a lot of confidence in the good will of the communities and in the design teams freedom to get it right.... I expect APP to be stronger and more consistant than it is now, thanks to a written, taught and tested curriculum."

What is this optimism based on?

I have no confidence that SPS wants to do right by APP. I belive MGJ wants to axe it altogether. (We should have APP in every school! Meaning, we shouldn't have APP, because 2 or 3 kids in every classroom who are 2 grades ahead of the rest of the class means those kids' needs won't be served.)

If the desire were to make APP better and stronger, what were they waiting for? The split is certainly not necessary for that.

We have been told it was about building condition. No, it's capacity. No, it's special ed. No, it's equity and access. (No one has yet explained how the split creates more access.) Is it now about strengthening APP?

uxolo said...

Totally agree with another mom, "Sorry for the cynicism/sarcasm but the District has been fixated on splitting APP for 20 years. The idea that somehow splitting APP will make it better is not new. Look carefully at the language in the proposal. It appears that this Superintendent has succeeded in dismantling two of the oldest non traditional programs in the District. Summit and APP."

Supt seems to be good at looking busy. She has been here long enough to have made much better decisions based upon student needs. What accomplishments can we credit her with thus far?

another mom said...

Ben said,
"because 2 or 3 kids in every classroom who are 2 grades ahead of the rest of the class..."

Ben, in some schools this amounts to two or three kids in the entire school. Unfortunately, grouping smart students together is seen as isolating.Rather than considering the opposite.That is that two or three highly advanced students in a school or classroom as truly isolated. Many SPS educators perhaps most have an anti APP bias. It is just the way it is.

Ben said...

another mom: Yes, exactly.

Charlie Mas said...

As I continue to learn about these design teams" and continue to ponder over them, I'm finding myself more comfortable with them.

I have heard about some of the kinds of folks who will be on the design teams and I believe them all to be people of good will. I look forward to the design teams having a free hand and a good deal of authority. Not authority in the sense that they can dictate to principals, but authority in the sense that their recommendations will carry credibility, garner respect and be followed. Principals will follow the design team recommendations because they agree with them and have confidence in them, not because they are compelled to.

I see a lot of change in the District and a lot of reason for higher expectations. How could you not see it? There really are improvements being made. The strategic plan may yet prove real. This capacity management process was really pretty well done.

As for these solutions being the best available, I really think they are. Except in the southeast and finding a north-end location for north-end elementary APP students, I cannot conjure better ones.

Look, I'm not slow to jump on the District when they screw up - and I frequently exercise the opportunity. But I'm also ready and happy to congratulate them when they get things right. And they give us plenty of those opportunities as well.

Robert said...


I guess I have a problem seeing this as a racial or socioeconomic issue. It's an education issue. Lowell/APP is as white as Seattle is... But we are talking about identified gifted students that greatly benefit form the dedicated program that Lowell/APP is and the environment that Lowell/spec ed/ APP provided. Moreover, Lowell/APP has increased their outreach over the last couple of years and I am certain if we (especially those of us in the under represented groups) were all to lend our efforts to those programs we would find much more success then splitting and busing PTSAs around the city.

Lowell is a successful program that has taken decades to develop. Why would the board risk that to the magical non-existing design boards? I am trying to resist my cynical side but we have heard so many bogus reasons now that for me the only one that seems to remain is divide and conquer.

seattle citizen said...

another mom,
please explain your comment that "[m]any SPS educators perhaps most have an anti APP bias. It is just the way it is."
I find this comment somewhat disrespectful of the many, many educators in this city who work hard to meet the needs of ALL students, and must struggle to differentiate instruction in face of increasingly standardized benchmarks.
Please explain.

anonymous said...

I have to say that I agree with Charlie. I think this latest proposal reflects a lot of community input, and represents a 90% improvement over the initial proposal.

I really like it.

My only initial concern is that I think Summit should be relocated to a central site. With 600 students it can be a viable program, especially if it were a k-8 instead of a k-12.

I love the MS APP split. It will help Hamilton fill it's building with kids in the north end. This will reduce transportation costs, and a long commute for north end kids. The added benefit is it will probably draw more N end kids than it does currently because it is closer and convenient. This will surely relieve some of the pressure from Eckstein. It's a win win win.

I love the traditional k-8 in the Adamms building. This too will relieve some of the pressure on Eckstein. It will also give kids living north of 110th st a neighborhood middle school (they can't get into Eckstein and have to bus to Wallingford for Hamilton). And TC can remain a k-5 as they have asked to do. They are the only k-5 alt school in the District. It is a unique and popular configuration and many families choose the school just for this reason. I did.

AS1 gets a reprieve and a chance to prove their effectiveness. They will have the benefit and support of the alt school audit before any future closure proposals come to the table.

I also like Leschi getting the Montessori program. I disagree with Charlie in that I don't think Spectrum should be moved out of Leschi. I think Leschi needs an effective principal, and maybe some new teachers. Leschi is in a fabulous, diverse neighborhood. To the east their are some of our cities wealthiest families, and to the west some of our cities lowest income families. With the combination of Montessori and Spectrum, and with the right leadership and a bit of marketing this school is poised to become a popular one. But it will take some action on the part of the District to make it happen. Left alone, it will probably flounder.

I don't know enough about the SE, S, or West Seattle to comment on those areas.

All in all, from what I can tell, this is a very good plan.

Moose said...

Charlie said, "The choice of Meany as home to the S.B.O.C. and NOVA is a good choice."

It may look good on paper Charlie, but a preliminary audit of the SBOC program recommended AGAINST co-housing.

seattle citizen said...

Summit could easily fit into the John Marshall building; they'd put its many assets to good use and be a welcome addition to that neighborhood. The only problem with the Marshall building is it lacks elevators. A big problem, but one that I'm sure is not insurmountable.

Magua said...

RE: improving APP equity/access:

Current Lowell cohort is:
72% white
20% Asian
8% black/Hispanic/Native American (a.k.a. traditionally underrepresented groups)

Proposed APP North (Lowell) cohort would be:
75% white
20% Asian
5% Black/Hispanic/Native (14 kids, out of ~290, BTW)

Proposed APP South (Marshall) cohort would be:
68% white
20% Asian
12% Black/Hispanic/Native

If there are a mass of APP-eligible students in the South End who aren't opting in to APP today who will suddenly do so because the new program is only 68% white vs. 72% today, I'd LOVE to see the data showing how many of those kids there are.

I say that, BTW, as a parent of a kid who would be in the 12%, and would be psyched to welcome those folks into APP. But you have to show that they exist or the argument is utterly specious -- just like the building condition argument and the building capacity argument.

I agree completely with the suggestion for a targeted outreach program to prospective APP families from underrepresented groups. Rather than a "build it and they (might) come" approach costing hundreds of thousands of dollars (and kneecapping diversity in the APP North cohort too), those of us who have had a positive experience with APP can provide a more convincing argument for why their child might gain from the experience as well.

squeagle said...

seattle citizen, this finding (from the Univ. of Virginia APP audit) may speak to your question about anti-APP bias:
"Many building principals do not understand the need for gifted programming, do not support current efforts and will not provide options within their buildings. A small number of principals view the program as 'promoting institutional racism.' Others view the program as responsible for 'taking away our top kids' and leaving their buildings with poorer reputations than would be the case if the students remained in their neighborhood schools."

When my child tested in to APP, not only we were not encouraged to make the move to Lowell, we were subtly and sometimes overtly discouraged. (We came from a South Cluster school.) Other kindergarteners capable of working at advanced levels were not encouraged to even take the test.

OT but related: Since sign-up for the test is in October, only parents already knowledgeable about / interested in APP, who have some savvy about navigating the school system, are likely to proceed with testing.

The U of V audit recognizes this:
"Kindergarten assessment in October unfairly penalizes students without extensive parent support or prior school experience. ... this practice likely results in over-representation of students from middle-to-high SES and high parent involvement...."

Anonymous said...

Two points, Robert.

1) While Lowell is "as white as Seattle", the SPS population is NOT the same as Seattle's population. It is actually quite different-57% NON-WHITE and 43 WHITE. That tells me that the Lowell (APP) population is drastically out of balance with the overall district population. Lowell is 70% white, I believe?

There are several reasons for this, and while the diversity committee at Lowell IS doing some outreach to families of color and non-English speakers, more must be done.

Also, have you HEARD some of the comments at the Lowell meetings? My family has-and believe me, there's a racial component to the school-and it isn't a positive one-and one that needs some adjustment. Perhaps-MAYBE-placement in a school that isn't so white and isn't so insulated can begin to change that.

Second, as the parent of two older (adult) kids who grew up in a state and town without ANY advanced learning opportunities, I want to say that the BEST thing any district can do is offer multiple options in multiple places for kids with special learning needs, whether they're special ed or gifted in nature. No one school can or should do it all. If the program is a good one, then REPLICATE it and offer it to others.

I don't for a second believe that only those at Lowell are the kids who could be there. I personally know several who chose not to go because of the racial imbalance and/or because they preferred a school closer to home. I know others who never even tested. I know still others who are not native English speakers but didn't pass the testing, or whose parents didn't understand how to appeal.

I could go on, but I stand by my position-that APP isn't the be-all and end-all of advanced learning, that it CAN change in a positive way and that the district, with all its flaws, has, according to Dr. Vaughan, some solid ideas in mind as to how to change things for the better.

FWIW, my son ended up finishing his public education in an alternative program, completely jaded about public schools, having had the best success in a private Montessori. His sister did fine in a pull-out gifted program back east, and later, here in Seattle using AP classes. My youngest is at Lowell, and while doing well academically, still wishes she wasn't the only brown child in her class-or one of only 3 on her entire floor. It's possible to be friends with kids with different academic success.

All other issues aside, I believe that having APP located in schools where some level of cooperative learning and interaction can only be a good thing.

Charlie Mas said...

Moose, I believe that you are mistaken. The review of the bilingual programs actually recommended that the S.B.O.C. be co-housed with a population of native English speakers. It was the negotiated agreement with the Board that called for the S.B.O.C. to have its own building.

Ben, middle school APP can survive the split. 225 students is plenty to form a viable learning community at the middle school level. There are lots of examples of Spectrum programs that are not this big that work very well. The one at Washington is a prime example.

Likewise, the cohorts of 250 or so at the elementary school level are large enough to be viable. Again, consider the size of some of the effective Spectrum programs that you know. They work with populations of 100.

What will make APP better is not the split, but the codification of the curriculum. Not only will this make the program more consistent than it is now, a written, taught and tested curriculum will make the program strong enough to survive a split. Let's face it. Today the program is defined by the teachers. That's not right. The program should be defined by the District and by a codified curriculum.

No, it did not require a split for the District to codify the curriculum. But they weren't waiting for the split to do it. The work was already underway. What were they waiting for? Strong and effective leadership. We didn't have it with Dr. Stump and Mr. Manhas. We do have it with Dr. Vaughan and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

With the performance management system being put in place we can finally demand and expect quality programs. Dr. Stump couldn't go to a school and tell them that their Spectrum program wasn't good enough and that they had to fix it or else. She didn't care to do it and she wouldn't have the Superintendent behind her if she did. Dr. Vaughan CAN do it and he WILL have the superintendent behind him when he does. In fact, he will have the superintendent on his case if he DOESN'T.

Seattle Citizen, sorry to be the one to tell you, but a signficant number of the teachers and principals in the District really don't like Spectrum or APP. It's the truth. They work to discourage or prevent families from learning about the programs, nominating their children for the testing and enrolling their children if they are eligible.

Before my kids were in APP they were in the Spectrum program at Lafayette. Lafayette had a big, strong Spectrum program and a big general education program, but together it had one unified community. It worked. I have seen it for myself; it is possible for a gifted program within a school to be part of a single cohesive community within the school and for everyone to feel well served. That was the expectation and the culture there and it worked.

Ben said...

I can't let the comment go unchallenged that Lowell's parents are a pack of racists.

I've at the meetings, too, and I've seen parents concerned about their kids' education, not people talking about black-and-white.

Agibean, you might believe that a better solution than an APP school is a set-up where every school can meet the needs of every student, but I believe that's a pipe dream. In my son's case, three kids from his kindergarten went to Lowell. Three! The right place for him is NOT in a school where there will be a few kids in his grade who are working at his level!

Ben said...

"Before my kids were in APP they were in the Spectrum program at Lafayette. Lafayette had a big, strong Spectrum program and a big general education program, but together it had one unified community. It worked. I have seen it for myself; it is possible for a gifted program within a school to be part of a single cohesive community within the school and for everyone to feel well served. That was the expectation and the culture there and it worked."

But isn't Spectrum a series of pull-out classes? APP kids are in their OWN classes with their OWN teachers ALL DAY.

Where is the opportunity for interaction, for feeling like we're all in the same school?

squeagle said...

Now I feel I should have included the entire quote: "Kindergarten assessment in October unfairly penalizes students without extensive parent support or prior school experience. As students have only had a short time in school to reap school benefits, this practice likely results in over-representation of students from middle-to-high SES and high parent involvement, and under-representation of students from more impoverished backgrounds, language minorities, and other diverse students."

The District would do better with APP diversity by improving recruitment and facing the misperceptions about APP (and Advanced Learning in general) head-on.

Also, there are the not-so little problems with Spectrum and ALO: waitlists and inequity among the quality of Spectrum/ALO offerings at the various schools. By ignoring that in favor of targeting APP (which theoretically serves fewer students), it appears that they're more interested in making a dramatic gestures than in truly growing the Advanced Learning programs.

Charlie Mas said...

Ben, you're wrong. Spectrum is not a pull-out program. It is a self-contained program. My kids were in classes that were made up entirely of district-identified Spectrum-eligible students.

In short, it was exactly the model that is being planned for Lowell and Thurgood Marshall.

The little kids only know that they are in Mrs. A's class or Ms B's class. When they are older they know that some of the classes are gifted ed classes and some aren't, but it isn't something they waste a lot of time thinking about.

noggen said...


Absolutely, you are so right. Food for thought, look at the demographics for Hamilton pre-APP split and post-APP split. Wow, all this chess play and Hamilton ends up with a less diverse student population.

Ben said...

Thanks for filling me in on Spectrum.

seattle citizen said...

your reference in answer to my question speaks to a reluctance of PRINCIPALS, not "educators."
"Many...principals do not understand...do not support...will not provide options within their buildings. A small number of principals view the program as 'promoting institutional racism.' Others view the program as responsible for 'taking away our top kids' and leaving their buildings with poorer reputations than would be the case if the students remained in their neighborhood schools."

This says nothing about classroom educators or others, which is why I asked another mom for clarification.

Yes indeed, many principals are, per force, required to show "success" and keeping high-achieving students in their buildings helps this. A shame.

Educators, maybe, are also subject to this pressure to keep high-performers in their classroom, but the evidence doesn't suggest this to be a large problem. As suggested elsewhere, in this case it might be a problem of not knowing about APP.

The larger issue is one of meeting the needs of students in all classrooms, differentiating to meet low and high and different learning styles, but that conversation has occured on these posts many times before!

As to the report suggesting that principals "supply options within their buildings", I'm not sure how this would work if APP is best viewed as a cohort. How would individual schools support the cohort model of APP? There wouldn't be enough in each building for a viable community.

Charlie Mas said...

Talk to Dr. Vaughan and listen to what he says.

1) The District knows (and the APP Review confirmed) that the way to increase participation by under-represented groups in the gifted programs - all of them - is through talent development in the general education programs and ALOs.

2) The District recognizes the problems with Spectrum and ALOs - the disparity in program quality and near total absence of programs south of downtown.

Dr. Vaughan is working aggressively on both of these issues.

He is finalizing a codification of the curricula for APP and for Spectrum/ALO. When he has these he can - and will - enforce them. This will significantly reduce the variations in Spectrum and ALO program quality among the schools in the District and the variations in APP program quality among the classrooms in the schools.

Dr. Vaughan is working vigorously to expand the number of ALO programs south of downtown. He has the CAO and the Superintendent behind him. Even in schools that do not have ALOs, the new Continuous School Improvement Plan template will require schools to describe and improve their efforts to support advanced learners in their schools. Every 9th and 10th grade student is invited to take the PSAT, to raise their expectations and as a talent search.

If the District seems focused on developing teaching practices that are applicable in every classroom, this is why.

These are all good and positive things and they are exactly and everything that we would want the District to be doing. If you have constructive suggestions, they want to hear them. They would like nothing better than a workable suggestion that would improve the situation.

It's good to be skeptical, but it isn't good to be cynical. Just as it's good to be confident, but it isn't good to optimistic. Working is harder and slower than hoping or griping, but it is also far more effective.

Moose said...

I could indeed be mistaken, Charlie. I am looking for the preliminary audit online (I thought I read it, but now can't find it on the SPS website) and will post a comment or correction when I find it.

In the meantime however, according to the testimony at the SBOC building on December 16th, the 2006 Board committed six things to the SBOC, one of which was that the program would not be co-housed. (I am not tech savy enough to get a link in my blog entry, so I will just say that look on page 13 of the testimony transcript.) Now I will certainly concede that this speaker could have been also mistaken - but I tend to think not, as her other information checks out.

Ben said...

"It's good to be skeptical, but it isn't good to be cynical. Just as it's good to be confident, but it isn't good to optimistic. Working is harder and slower than hoping or griping, but it is also far more effective."

I believe SPS is being cynical when it talks about the APP split increasing access and diversity.

So there.

seattle citizen said...

Here's where some might be cynical:

Demographic reports, 2007
School, percent FRL, percent white:
(percentages rounded to nearest whole number)
Closed schools:
AAA, 84, 1
Cooper, 81, 18
Meany, 64, 14
TT Minor, 77, 12
Summit, 49, 51

Schools spared:
Thornton Creek, 8, 80
Arbor Heights, 31, 56
Montlake, 12, 68
AS1, 40, 62
Lowell, 7, 68

anonymous said...

Hamilton will serve the students that live closest to Hamilton. What is wrong with that? Haven't we been yapping about transportation costs and how busing kids all over the District is not cost effective? Finally, we have a leader that is doing something about it. She is not just talking the talk she is walking the talk. She is cutting our transportation costs...... and now you yell racism. Sheesh. Give me a break.

Do you really think the District buses kids up to Hamilton from the south end to create a lovely diverse environment?? Do you really think south end kids want to sit on a bus for an hour each way to get to/from Hamilton? That's two hours a day sitting on a bus! Do you think they want to leave their friends, neighbors, community? I don't. The do it because their other south end options stink. Period. That's it.

Do you think north end APP students want to sit on a bus for an hour every day to get to Washington? Do you think they want to leave their neighborhood, friends, community? They do it because it is the only way for them to access the APP program. They are forced into commuting across the district to Washington just as the south end students are forced into commuting to Hamilton for a good MS.

Do you think the tax payers should pay for all of this transportation?

Have you been to Hamilton? Have you spoken with the Hamilton community? Are you aware of the racial tension at the school? Are you aware of the violence? Do you know that for the most part the south end kids hang out with the south end kids, the JSIS immersion kids hang out with the JSIS kids, and they don't inter mingle much? They voluntarily segregate themselves.

We have a Superintendent that is looking at the big picture. She is addressing problems that have been ignored for decades. She is focusing on the south end. I have faith that South end schools are and will continue to improve. Children and families will hopefully be able to go to schools in their neighborhoods. What is so wrong with that? Isn't that everyones right?

Belle1 said...


Your daughter will be welcomed warmly by T.M. staff. Frustration with administration issues would never be directed at students, and I did not mean to give that impression.

noggen said...


My daughter would GLADLY - ENTHUSIASTICALLY travel from our home in the north to Washington if that meant she could go to middle school with the rest of her grade. My daughter would GLADLY - ENTHUSIASTICALLY travel from our home in the north to Washington if that meant she could join those she has seen perform in the Advanced Strings group at WMS.I would go so far as to say my daughter would be thrilled to sit on a bus longer if that meant she could go to Washington.
By the way, SPS actually makes a few bucks toting APP kids to school.

Magua said...

To be fair to agibean, a couple of parents in the Lowell meetings have said some pretty stupid shit.

To be fair to Ben, these have been the exception not the rule. In a school that is 72% white you're going to have a few idiots, regardless of how ostensibly gifted they are. And they certainly have spoken.

I don't worry about them. I worry about the split being mishandled and the South cohort -- slightly more diverse but also smaller -- getting screwed over on shared APP resources. Given the demographic trends favoring N Seattle over time, this has the potential to create a 2nd-class APP program in the South.

One answer is that APP South will grow and become more diverse. I still would like to see data supporting the contention that more people will elect to test for APP and opt in to the program as a result of the split. I am having trouble buying this unsupported argument precisely because SPS has already forwarded a lot of bogus ones already, and each have been debunked.

Also, why are principals/teachers going to be any more encouraging to have their kids tested for APP once it splits? The incentive is to try to retain your talented kids to help keep your building scores up will still be the same.

anonymous said...

Well, you can't have it all. We all have to compromise if it's going to work. I think the vast amount of families want schools close to their home. That is what the families of SPS have demanded in the new assignment plan isnt it? Families having predictable access to their neighborhood schools.

My guess is that your daughter is in middle school, and I empathise with the transition. I can imagine it will be tough.

But for future APP students it shouldn't be tough at all. All, 100%, of the students attending Lowell APP will move as a cohort to Hamilton. All of the TM APP students will move as a cohort to Washington. The Lowell and TM APP students will likely not even know each other.

Ben said...

Magua says: "To be fair to agibean, a couple of parents in the Lowell meetings have said some pretty stupid shit."

Well, sure. (And, yes, I saw your acknowledgment that, of course, such comments were the exception.) The accusation wasn't that some people said some horrible stuff. It's hardly newsworthy that in any group of people, some will be creeps. (There might even be asses at schools that aren't predominantly white!)

No, the accusation was that "there's a racial component to the school-and it isn't a positive one."

not buyin anyuvit said...

adhoc are you or your kids affected by this or are you just blowing here, don't they go out of district to shoreline?

Robert said...

Seriously Agibean?!?!? In all my meetings I haven't... Had I, I would have said something to the speaker publicly and would have acknowledged it in my postings. Nor do I think the community is insular... But again I think we are going astray to say this is about race or economics.

This a successfully implemented program, that took years to develop, for a niche group of students... What is the merit in the split? Are they hoping that it can make two other programs as successful for the primary APP students as well as the gen ed on two sites with limited resources and budget short falls? DREAM ON!

Honestly folks, replicating is great and I would strongly support that... Change is fine... I mean like another building or the other side of town. As long as the predominate emphasis is teaching children with special needs like we have at Lowell/APP/ Spec Ed. But to think that app/gen is the same as what we have now you are deluding yourself. This process has improved a terrible to plan to being just strikingly bad. We are losing a lot more than y'all realize.

not buyin anyuvit said...

papa stay cool don't drink the cool aid.

stop comparing apples to oranges.

you know that spectrum at lafayette is nothing like APP at thurgood marshall.

lafayette is a thriving school that also has spectrum added. the socioeconomic mix of kids and families is very close between their regular and spectrum classes and there are many siblings across programs.

thurgood marshall is a failing school the district wants to stuff with APP just so it will be full. thurgood marshall is nearly empty despite a building boom in the immediate neighborhood including many families with young children.
because the district has neglected those kids and parents don't choose it.

and contrary to your hypothesis I can't imagine many parents will also send regular ed or spectrum siblings along, when they send their APP kids to thurgood marshall.

another mom said...

" The District recognizes the problems with Spectrum and ALOs - the disparity in program quality..."

Charlie, I would love to see where District acknowledges this in writing. Maybe I have simply missed it. And just who is working on the new APP curricula? Current staff at Lowell and WMS? Is this a collaborative process? Dr. Vaughan is not a currc. expert. Did the AL office purchase an off-the-shelf curric? Is staff at Lowell and WMS meeting to be sure that the new curric. articulates from grade to grade with clear goals as suggested by the Univ. of VA reviewers? Is it being tested in classrooms as we speak? Will it be fully functional prior to the move? And what about a vision for the program? Looks to me like the Sup. has created the vision by creating a new model. Dr. Vaughan is being asked to do too much in a very compressed timeframe. What a crushing load of responsibility. It would be interesting to know how much of his time has been spent trying to convince parents that the split is in the best interest of APP. I suspect alot. In terms of access, when APP was at Madrona, it was no more ethnically or socioeconomically diverse than now. And believe or not the two programs at Madrona did interact. I am not saying never split APP, but get the pieces in place first and do not be delusional that this will magically become a wonderful new program. Yup, call me a skeptical cynic.

noggen said...

adhoc, Seattle school district families are poster children for compromise.

not buyin anyuvit said...

adhoc loves charlie's ideas and charlie loves bob vaughan.

but is there anyone here that is FOR the proposal to split lowell, AND who has kids that would be directly affected, AND thinks it is a good idea because it HELPS KIDS? if so, please enlighten us.

because for the rest of you regulars who agree with the district proposal but don't have crying kids at home that don't understand why it's happening, please remember these are real kids not hypotheticals drawn on maps.
(even if some of us wonder that you changed your tune so you can stump for a district job during the assignment plan project or something because you memorized a bunch of maps) no tiresome postings about high schools or nova please! but if anyone reading this is like that, please remember that Lowell was here INTACT when your kids needed it, warts and all it was good enough, and BACK THEN when your kids were small gifted education was a child's right under state law (rumor now APP is invented by the district and runs at their discretion) and demanded a COHORT (tell me is 10 first graders at Thurgood Marshall a cohort?)

fooled you once, shame on you, fooled you twice, add Lowell APP split to your beloved list of broken district promises.

hschinske said...

My understanding is that after elementary APP got its own building, it actually became *more* diverse than during the Madrona period (generally speaking, more black parents became willing to enroll their children at the site than were willing to do so at the co-housed one).

Helen Schinske

hschinske said...

I think Lowell should be split eventually for the purely practical reason that there are too many people in the darned building. But I haven't heard any split plan yet that I thought was really well thought out. The B.F. Day/Marshall idea was the best of the lot, and that didn't come from the district.

Helen Schinske

momster said...

not buyin anyuvit, i don't have children in this round of closures (at least as defined by the final recommendation) but i have had them in recent rounds - and then as now, i'm amazed when people talk about their children crying and/or in great distress about proposed changes.

Assuming they're elementary-aged, shouldn't parents be telling them, "You know what? It's going to be fine. We are going to work with the teachers and the principals and the people at the school district and it is going to be fine."

In my opinion, people who expose their elementary-aged children to teeth-gnashing, garment-rending town halls and board meetings are doing them a disservice - there is enough uncertainty, anxiety and unknown in childhood without making them feel that institutions that are a huge part of their world are at risk.

yes, it might expose them to activism and help them to feel constructive - but even as you do that, you should be communicating a firm underlying conviction that it will all be ok in the end.

Sahila said...

I'm going to put a really, really extreme example out there, but it seems to me to be the obvious end point of Moms perspective at 2.19pm....

I dont think its always a good thing to put it out to children that its going to be OK in the end, no matter what, and for them to trust in the stability/continuity of the institutions in their lives, in society as a whole really...

The obvious endpoint of the logic would be the situation in Nazi Germany, where people didnt take action, acquiesced, went along to get along, enrolled their kids into the Nazi youth movement, and before you knew it, there was WW2 and the Holocaust....

I think kids do better understanding that institutions and systems are really just people and can be changed when they arent working and that its OK not to participate in something thats not working - otherwise we are all disempowered and at the mercy of inanimate behemoths, who get to take on a life of their own....

As, apparently, has this capacity management plan!

Charlie Mas said...

Ben wrote: "I believe SPS is being cynical when it talks about the APP split increasing access and diversity."

Really? I think they are being delusional and/or deceptive. It's a bald-faced lie.

Moose, it is true that the Board promised the S.B.O.C. a stand-alone facility, but that was before the audit. The audit said that it would be better for the students to be among native English speakers and NOT in a stand-alone facility. So there is one document that says something else, but the audit, which you originally referenced, says they should co-house.

Seattle Citizen, thanks for that demographic information. Here's some capacity information:

Empty seats

Closed schools:
AAA, 295
Cooper, 161
Meany, 394
TT Minor, 182
Summit, 291

Schools spared:
Thornton Creek, 31
Arbor Heights, 131
Montlake, 29
AS1, 91
Lowell, -44

So is it the District that disfavors these schools or is it the community exercising choice that disfavors these schools?

not buyin anyuvit will be interested to know that gifted education is not a right guaranteed by state law. State law only addresses the grant available to districts that choose to offer such a program. Districts are under no obligation to do so.

another mom, all of the work that you are looking for is being done as a strategic plan project to respond to the APP review. Talk to Dr. Vaughan. Don't presume either positives or negatives. Yes, it is a lot of work. I know taht a lot of the curriculum work is being done by retired APP teachers such as Sarah Alsdorf.

No one is saying that it will all magically appear. It will take work to create it and it will take work to maintain it and it will take work to fix it when it breaks. All of the people who want it to magically appear need to reconsider.

I said it before, working is harder and slower than hoping or griping, but it is also far more effective. We all have a choice. We can hope, we can gripe or we can work. Which will you do?

Charlie Mas said...

Sahila, you can distinguish between program placement and capacity decisions by Seattle Public Schools and genocide, right?

Sahila said...

yes, charlie, I can....

seattle citizen said...

I think your additional comments added to hschinske's are interesting and important, but I would add that she is right that we DO need to reassure children that they are safe, and sometimes that means shielding them. There is time enough for activism, particularly when they can actually understand the process, the people, and that sometimes it won't end up how they'd like.
Additionally, I wouldn't tell a child "its OK not to participate in something thats not working - otherwise we are all disempowered and at the mercy of inanimate behemoths, who get to take on a life of their own...."
Things hardly ever "work" completely right, and sometimes we need to participate in them anyway. I participate in the United States, even though it certainly isn't perfect...
And if institutions become "inanimate behemoths" to a person, then we are doomed. As hschinke says, it's just people, real people, that we need to interact with to get things done.

Anonymous said...

Ad Hoc, You say you have faith that south end schools will improve. What facts do you base this faith? Or should you say blind faith? Or don't you care because weak south end schools don't affect your kids, who you took out of Seattle school district completely and enrolled in Shoreline? Should we south enders all clog the freeways with our volvos just to be like you? Or should we sign our kids up for Hamilton when it has plenty of openings so we are not robbing anyone in your end of town by shipping them there as you put it in our taxpayer funded buses.

Can we look forward to reading your posts next year about how great the new assignment plan that will force the south end kids back to their neighborhood schools where the belonged and by very presence improve things? As you eloquently put it, "sheesh."

You think we should all just be happy with a school closest to home? Even if that is Aki Kurose where violent assault on a student was not reported to police? What if we want the best for your kids just like you. When will our south end schools improve? Will there be an international focus program added at Aki Kurose by fall?

You said we will receive a letter with our new assignment but can register for another school during the regular process time. How does that help when there are no other choices for us? Should I keep him back a few years until the southeast initiative kicks in?

Please stop the name calling, nobody is "yapping" about race except you. Italian is not a race by the way, black kids can be part Italian.

seattle citizen said...

Point taken, Charlie, and I thought right after I posted that the empty seats number should have gone along with that.

But (obviously, I hope) I was making a point about who's getting the most trouble out of this, the poor and the minorities.

It's true they have more empty seats. But why aren't people in those seats? Has the district supported the schools? Have parents/guardians stuck with them? Or are the schools left to fend for themselves as those most able, the wealthier and the more savvy, pull students out and move them elsewhere.
Under an assignment plan where students had to go the nearest school without choice, would those same schools be filled with a mixed demographic, wealthy and middle class, and poor, minorities etc, all pulling for the school? Would each school have a chance and be supported?

So if parents don't send their students to a school, the school should just die of attrition?

If people have a choice, they'll send their child the "best" school, and the other schools suffer. Of COURSE they do. That's a crappy way to run a district.

Roy Smith said...

Wow, I haven't seen an actual application of Godwin's Law appear in an online discussion forum for some time, and never on this particular blog.

Godwin's Law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Hitler or Nazis or their actions.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wouldn't agree that the District believes there is a quality-level difference between Spectrum programs. Far from it.nd, boy, would I like to see that in writing. They have never given any evidence of it and Spectrum wasn't even in the so-called review of gifted programs.

"I agree completely with the suggestion for a targeted outreach program to prospective APP families from underrepresented groups."

Bob Vaughn has tried so many ways to do targeted outreach. The problem, I believe, is principals and educators who do NOT believe in gifted education, do NOT believe in separate schools/classes and do NOT want to lose bright kids. They believe they should not advertise this program and the district doesn't follow-up and make sure they are letting parents know about it. Maybe going through other outlets like community centers and libraries would be better but how foolish to have to do that because schools won't.

You won't get more diversity in the program until you get a critical mass of kids from different groups who have accessed, learned and been part of APP.

Anonymous said...

Dear Momster, Not Buying It was right when kids get emotional and he or she never said they bring them to activist meetings. I have trouble explaining to preteen why we have to wait in limbo a month for all of this to happen and I don't feel confident to promise everything will be all right. Our kids will be dispersed and they won't see their friends. It's natural they would be upset. Momster please don't sound like you are blaming that parent who didn't do anything wrong that we know of such as making a promise that everything will be all right. Some kids see through that when the parent saying it isn't sure. Maybe your kids would or they were younger. It isn't the parents fault if they don't say the so-called right thing. We parents we still feel bad about so many changes it's so, so hard to watch kids who are doing so well and love school grieve this loss.

Sahila said...

well, Roy, you know that hyperbole is one of the most effective forms of pointing out inconsistencies....
I could have used any other historic example, including ones located right here within the US...

Maybe I just resonate more with the Hitler/Nazi one because of my continental European birth.... I could have drawn attention to US isolationism and reluctance to make a fuss/get involved in that particular event, but then that might have been considered unnecessarily inflammatory/incendiary, mightnt it?

Roy Smith said...

To me, hyperbole seems like the most effective way of ensuring that you are not taken seriously and your points are ignored.

another mom said...

"...all of the work that you are looking for is being done as a strategic plan project to respond to the APP review."

Wonderful that the curric. is being updated. Mrs. Alsdorf is a competent-retired- 3rd grade teacher. Her background is the primary grades and what about the intermediate grades and middle school? You must know that writing a curricular framework takes time. Then teachers need a bit of training before it is piloted. After piloting, it is tweaked where needed and then rolled out.Once all of this happens it would be considered functional. But Charlie, you know that it will not be completed and functional prior to the program being split. The review considered this to be essential before a reconfiguration of APP occurred. I believe that the reviewers referred to vision, goals, and curricular framework as the foundations. Furthmore from the APP review,
"In the absence of guiding documents and tools, the issue of highly- variable teachers will create exponentially larger issues for ensuring quality curricular experiences for all APP students."

This is what parents worry about.

So,program vision, goals, and curricular framework? Workin'on it. Done and functional before the split? Not so much. Again, I am not saying do not ever split APP or change the current program delivery, but at least follow the guidelines set out in the outside review.

anonymous said...

Not buyin anyofit,

Not that it really matters, but since you ask, one of my children is currently in Shoreline for MS, he will come back to SPS next year for HS. My younger son goes to MS next year, and since Shoreline MS is only 7/8th he will need to go to a SPS school for 6th grade. He will go to Eckstein, Hamilton or the new K-8 at Adamms. If the school we choose meets his needs we'll stay, if it doesn't we'll bail to Shoreline.....again. So, no, I'm not just blowing steam.

North End Mom said...

Thanks for posting the empty seat numbers for the schools on Seattle Citizen's list. I was thinking of rounding those up, myself.

I believe those were "planning capacity" numbers?

Thornton Creek (correct me if I'm wrong, TC parents), showed excess capacity using the Districts planning capacity numbers, though they are currently maxed out. This is probably because three of their classrooms are used for self-contained special needs kids, and have a smaller class size than "average."

It sure will be nice when the more relevant "Functional Capacity" numbers are published!

hschinske said...

Seattle Citizen, I think you were quoting momster, not me. Not that I mind, but just to keep it straight.

Magua said...

"You won't get more diversity in the program until you get a critical mass of kids from different groups who have accessed, learned and been part of APP."

No offense, but isn't that sort of saying that there won't be more diversity until they get more diversity? ;-D

As for targeted outreach, Bob Vaughan isn't the guy who should be doing it. No offense -- I'm sure he's a real nice guy and all -- but he's not the guy to be out selling the program to parents from underrepresented groups. They're going to respond to parents like them who have been through the same decisions about entering the program, not a white school administrator with 10,000 other pressing things to do. (Again, no offense, but I think I want him in his office working on curriculum and shared resource budgeting rather than hitting the streets to sell APP.)

anonymous said...

Anonymous, I will certainly acknowldge that there is a disparity between some schools in the south end VS some schools in the north end. But why must every comparison point at Aki? Aki is NOT the only middle school choice in the south end. Your child can go to New School, Mercer, McClure, Orca, TOPS, AS1, Salmon Bay, or Washington (if your child gets into APP or Spectrum) - all with transportation. My own child attended one of the schools that I just mentioned. Why always pick the least popular school (Aki) when you compare? Why try to make the situation dire?

Please acknowledge that you do have some options.

dj said...

Some loosely connected thoughts.

Part of the problem here is that closing schools/moving programs has merged with "improving schools" (and the idea that the closures and mergers themselves will improve schools is all over the district's literature).

For example, moving Montessori to Leschi -- supposedly this will help Leschi. Why? We're talking about maybe 40 students in two classrooms. The program was in MLK, which closed. Now it's in T.T. Minor, which is closing. If putting a small Montessori program in a school would magically improve it, I would think we would have seen that by now.

I have long thought that expanding that program significantly would actually help improve whatever school it's in. Montessori tends to attract involved parents looking for a particular educational approach, and (not that this word isn't overused) Montessori is great branding for a program. But unless the district commits the resources and planning to expand that program -- with qualified, Montessori-trained teachers (part of the strength of the Montessori program at T.T. Minor is that its lead teacher has decades of Montessori teaching experience), moving it to Leschi and expecting a different result than at two prior schools doesn't seem to me wise.

I'm also going to echo what others have said about at least one solid reason that APP isn't as diverse as it could be. Struggling schools really do have a disincentive to export high achievers.

Finally, I was in one of these self-contained gifted programs growing up. I didn't know any of the kids at my elementary school who weren't in my program. Why would I have? I took all of my classes with the same group of kids. It wouldn't have made any difference, one way or the other, who the other kids in the school might have been.

hschinske said...

I have heard of some districts where the test scores of the students who transfer to gifted magnet programs are credited back to their referring schools. I wonder if that would be any use in Seattle?

Helen Schinske

Uppergeorgetowner said...

adhoc - you're wrong about options in the south end. those options may exist on paper, but in actuality these programs have no openings for students not entering at at typical transition point (kindergarten or 6th grade).

Currently there are no openings at tops, orca, salmon bay, hamilton, new school or washington for my son (in the 7th grade currently at summit) should his program close. AS1 is being designated as a North/Northeast option only for 2009, not an all city draw.

Initially we were told that summit families would have the new K-8 program at Jane Addams as an option, and of course now that is off the table as well, as is Meany, which would have been a viable option for some south and southeast families.

If we'd selected those options at the 6th grade transition, we'd have had half a chance of getting in, but not now. They are all full.

The open enrollment process in March means nothing when the programs are already full, and there will be hundreds of displaced families vying for the few available vacancies created by moving families etc.

That leaves only mercer, mcclure or aki. The district should offer displaced families guaranteed admission to the all district PROGRAM OF THEIR CHOICE as a way of making peace with some very angry families getting shafted in this process.

anonymous said...

I wasn't speaking to displaced families when I said that families in the S/SE have several options. I absolutely think that ALL displaced families should be given special assignment priority, and either be assigned directly to the school of their choice, or jump to the top of the WL for the school of their choice. That just seems reasonable. Again, I wasn't speaking to displaced families, I was speaking to the families of the S/SE who are looking at their options under normal circumstances.

Personally, I advocate for a relocation for Summit, not closure. I think that a 600 kid program is viable and should continue in a more central location.

Good luck to you and your family. I hope that you can get into a school that works for you. I know that driving is not an option for everyone, but if you can, then many more schools will open up to you including AS1.

seattle citizen said...

hschinske, you are so right, I misidentified you instead of momster in my comment to Sahila! Yikes! sorry about that. You are very gracious to say you don't mind.

(word verifier! "cutwar", indeed!)

Stephanie Jones said...

A while back, Adhoc said, "I have faith that South end schools are and will continue to improve." Interesting. Where was the faith the Central schools were improving and would continue to improve? Both Meany and T.T. Minor have been steadily improving, in terms of student performance (remember NCLB status often relates to only particular subsets of students not making AYP in particular areas), and in terms of schoolwide expectations and parent/community support. They are truly emergent schools generating increasing buy-in. Apparently, this counts for nothing in the face of undercapacity (although in Meany's case, most of us just feel that the district wants the building, since SBOC + Nova only adds 100 kids; Summit-Meany merge would fill the building much better).

I'd be inclined to agree that undercapacity is the thing, EXCEPT...

Charlie posted these numbers:
Empty seats

Closed schools:
AAA, 295
Cooper, 161
Meany, 394
TT Minor, 182
Summit, 291

But what about these schools (all spared, most even from discussion):
Aki Kurose, 540
Cleveland, 294
Denny, 361
Mercer, 323,
Roxhill, 133,
WS Elementary, 140
Sealth, 510,
Franklin, 430
WSHS, 218, and of course,
Rainier Beach, 897.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to note that several of these are or will be in brand new buildings (unfortunately not centrally located; also unfortunately mostly not housing quality programs or strong parent communities)

Yes, we are paying for the mistakes of past administrations, and yes, closing high schools is complex business, but clearly so is messing with elementaries and middle schools.

In the Central Cluster, I don't see any evidence of improving the quality of education.

SE Mom said...


Just wanted to say that Orca does have open seats for middle school.
The middle school there was started last year and they are not yet up to filling all seats.

That does not dramatically increase your options, but at least it's one more and a good alternative school at that.

Charlie Mas said...

Stephanie, you raise some excellent points - as always. I'll try to address them.

While it is very likely true that T T Minor has been improving, the fact remains that the District has excess capacity in this part of the city, that there are only 206 students in the building, and that all of those students could find available space at nearby schools - schools only about ten blocks away.

I know how much you admire the work they are doing at Meany, but the fact remains that all of the Central area middle school students can fit comfortably into Washington and the District does not have to maintain two middle schools in that area.

While it is true that the S.B.O.C. in its current form has an average enrollment of only about 300, that's because students leave the school after a year or so. Going forward, students will be allowed to remain at the school and earn credits towards graduation. That is likely to at least double the school's enrollment. When that happens, the S.B.O.C. and NOVA will completely fill the Meany building.

You are right that there are a lot of schools with a high numbers of empty seats that were NOT closed.

When the District determined their capacity needs they counted not the students in the buildings, but the students in the neighborhood.

So, yes, there are lots of empty seats at Aki Kurose, Mercer, Cleveland, and Rainier Beach, but there are actually more middle school and high school students in the southeast than these schools can hold if the students attended their local school. The middle school and high school capacity in the southeast is correct for the number of students in the local area - if not for the number of students in the local schools.

Roxhill and West Seattle Elementary were not closed because the District only had to close one elementary school in West Seattle and it was Cooper. Cooper was the best choice of the three because it had many fewer neighborhood students attending, among other reasons.

Although there are a lot of empty seats at Denny, there aren't enough empty seats at Madison for all of the Denny students if Denny were closed.

As for the other high schools, Sealth, West Seattle, and Franklin, the District is committed to addressing high school capacity next year with the student assignment plan.

I know that the capacity management effort does not clearly improve education or result in dramatic cost savings. I don't think we should put those expectations on it. I think we should expect it to right-size the District's capacity, and I think it does that.

TechyMom said...

I'll add that MLK was also improving and gaining community support. Great principal, steadily improving test scores in k-3, created the Montessori preogram, actively marketing itself to this community with strong population growth and high private school attenance.

Madrona OTOH is going the oposite direction, and has a fair number of empty seats (where'd you find the stats?)

It seems that gaining a rep as a "hidden gem" in the cd is the fasted was to get a school closed. Grrr.

anonymous said...

Stephanie and Techymom, which schools in the Central cluster would you propose to close if not Meany and TT Minor, and the Lowell split? I'm not that familiar with the central cluster, but it does seem that schools that were gaining speed and making progress should not be the targets of closure. Are there other schools not doing as well that should have been the targets?

How about Madrona? Should they have been considered? They seem to have a terrible reputation and turbulent history.

anonymous said...

Charlie or Stephanie, I'm curious....

Does the Central cluster have the same capacity issues as the SE in that many students that live in Central Cluster don't attend Central Cluster schools? I thought I read once that the Central Custer had the highest amount of private school families of any area of Seattle. In addition to the many many private elementary schools in the Central area that are full with waitlists, SASS, Northwest, and the Girls school are thriving at the MS and HS level. If the case is that there are students in the area to fill the buildings, who just choose not to attend neighborhood public schools, as is the case with the SE region wouldn't the Central Cluster need to hang on to schools/capacity as the SE does? Shouldn't we continue trying to improve the schools and slowly begin to attract these families back?

Or is this not the case at all. Do most Central Cluster kids attend Central Cluster schools and thus their is over capacity that really does need to be right sized/reduced? I'm not that familiar with this region and now I am curious.

Charlie Mas said...

From the quick analysis that I was able to do with last year's data, it appears to me that there is no great migration out of the Central cluster. There is, however, a significant migration WITHIN the Central Cluster.

There are far more students living in the reference areas of the schools in the south of the cluster than attending those schools and there are far more students attending schools in the north of the cluster than live there.

So, for example, there are 319 SPS K-5 students living in the T T Minor reference area, but only 58 of them are enrolled at T T Minor. There are also about 150 students from other reference areas at T T Minor.

At the same time, there are only 137 SPS K-5 students living in the McGilvra reference area, but 105 of them are enrolled at McGilvra along with about 150 students from other reference areas.

So here we have the District in microcosm - if we keep Aki Kurose open - despite the high number of available seats in the building - because there are enough students in the area to fill the school, then why doesn't the same rationale keep T T Minor open? And if we close Cooper because so few students live in the reference area, then shouldn't we also close McGilvra, where only 137 students live in the reference area?

- Interesting point: of those 137 students, only one is enrolled at a traditional school outside the cluster - at Laurelhurst. Just that one. Eight are at Lowell, three are at TOPS, 105 at McGilvra, and the other twenty are at other central cluster schools - with just as many at TT Minor (6) as at Montlake (6).

anonymous said...

In the Central cluster isn't there also an issue with children shunning public school to attend private schools? Do we know how many total children live in the McGilvra reference area (those attending private and public)? That might be a consideration to use when looking at capacity management too. Especially, if schools are improving, and may be able to attract some of those families in the future.

Robert said...

"The objective in splitting APP is to provide equity and access to all students. While students must test into APP, we have students who qualify who don't attend, and we want to make sure that all of our students have access to this high quality program."

For how many "new" students are they disrupting the lives of 500 Lowell families? And does it account for a net gain if you consider attrition?

TechyMom said...

There are a great many central district kids in private school. There are 12 private schools that I know that offer K, and a few more rumored, less-know schools. The well-known ones have wait lists and are expanding capacity with new buildings. There are also several private secondary schools.

I know one kid who goes to Bellevue schools, and another who goes to Mercer Island. District numbers also show 30-some kids from Central at ORCA.

We don't know how many kids live in the area, and neither does SPS. We'll know after the 2010 Census. I'm particularly interested to do an analysis of SPS market share by race. Most of the white kids I know go to private school. (My family is white, but our block is very mixed as is our preschool).

What Central schools should close? Well, the ones that are underenrolled and have few first choices are Madrona, Gazert, T. Marshall and Leschi. Madrona and Leschi have nice buildings, so SPS won't close them even though the programs are not good. I actually think that putting Montessori at Leschi is a good idea and may help.

Madrona. Ah Madrona. Honestly, all you'd need to do to get people to go to Madrona is to replace the principal with one who is willing to support the needs of the neighborhood families and build a diverse community. By diverse I mean one that is welcoming to middle and upper class families and kids who are working at or above grade level, as well as everyone else. Families like that are not welcome at Madrona. Maybe hire the former principal of TT Minor or MLK? Both were pretty good at building inclusive communities. Or, you could close Madrona's program and move TT Minor or Summit there.

But, for the district, it's all about building condition as far as I can tell. My guess is that they expect that all the schools will change in nature quite a bit based on their new reference area demographics, so the quality of the current program is irrelevant. They want to close the buildings that need work, and they don't care at all what's happening inside those buildings. It makes no sense to parents, but (I guess) it makes sense operationally.

seattle citizen said...

If it's mainly about building condition (district won't close a program in a nice building) then why is Cooper closing?

uxolo said...

An assignment plan needs to happen first.

Write to the Board. In listening to their hemming and hawing last night, seems to me that they need some encouragement to be assertive, to be told that we support them, that many of us support their decision to stop this process.

Not one school should close. The rationale for the supt's closure slides said "instructional" in some cases. When was that part of the plan?

TechyMom said...

This is all pure conjecture, but this is the feeling I get from this process and various district communications.

I don't think they'll close a nice building, regardless of the program in it. I think the district is more concerned with having nice buildings (and not spending money to fix the ones they've neglected) than with what happens inside the buildings.

They felt they had to find a place for Pathfinder, for whatever reason, so they displaced another program. They didn't feel that they had to find a place for TT Minor or Meany, because those are "regular" programs, so are interchangeable with other "regular" programs. We know that's not really true, and that there are vast differences between "regular" programs, but the district sees them as interchangeable.

One of the things about "hidden gem" schools is that they tend to be small. Smallness actually seems to be an important element in being able to change the culture of a school. Why? I'd guess it has to do with tight knit communities of parents and teachers being able to roll up their sleeves and see results. Bigger can make that seem really daunting. So, with the district trying to get rid of small schools, they'll get rid of a lot of hidden gems. Very frustrating for those of us who can't get a spot in the popular schools and won't accept the really poor ones.

Cara said...

Charlie Mas says there's plenty of capacity in the SE cluster for kids to go to school. Unfortunately, Aki Kurosi is our reference school and is not a school we will send our child to. He is a 7th grade student at Meany, which we chose because it was small, racially integrated with ALO's and an integrated arts program. Our son has thrived there (an A student) and became good friends with central cluster kids, who he probably won't be going to school with next year because we don't live in their cluster. We'll try to get in the gen. ed program at Washington so that he can have a shred of his community in 8th grade. Aki is not an option, we'll go private even though I'd rather be saving for college. We know many other parents from SE Seattle in the same boat and they will not enroll their kids in the worst middle school in Seattle. I sincerely hope that Aki will improve, but it can't fast enough for us.

Syd said...

I am not optimistic about the APP split.

Did the design teams become super heros? ;)

I still have concerns about equity.

I can see the music program having enough kids to split into 2 cohorts. Maybe.

The only thing my kid likes about middle school is math, and he is in Int III at Washington. There are 10 kids in that class. How will we be able to offer this class at both locations? My eldest will be in HS next year, but I have two more children coming up. How will their needs be met?

beansa said...

Cara -

As far as I know, the district has to allow you to choose a different school than Aki because Aki is in step 5 of NCLB.

I don't know if you get to pick whatever school you want or if they give you a certain choice, but they cannot make you go there if the school is in step 5.

anonymous said...

Cara Beansa is right. The District is mandated to offer ALL families an alternate school choice when a school moves into step 4 or 5 of NCLB.

Also, I truly do hope that the District makes an assignment exception for displaced students. It seems only fair that these students should be enrolled to the SCHOOL OF THEIR CHOICE, or to the top of the WL if the school of their choice is full.

I hope that your son finds an acceptable home next year.

Charlie Mas said...

Mercer is another option for southeast families. You will probably find it more acceptable in a number of ways. Transportation will be provided if you live in the Southeast Region and outside the walk zone.

Also, as far as I know, Southeast families will continue to get transportation to McClure and Hamilton. Those schools are not over-subscribed, so enrollment is available for the asking.

noggen said...

I'm pretty sure “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) mandates apply to any Title I-funded school in Steps 2-5 of Schools in Improvement