This Month's Closure Timeline

[Updated 1/4/09 7:20 pm with Special Education Advisory meeting]

I can't believe the kids go back to school tomorrow. We've had such a nice relaxing holiday together that I'm not excited to return to the daily grind. Luckily, my kids are excited. They love their school, their teachers and friends and miss them.

But beyond my usually reluctance for holidays to end, this year I'm particularly loathe to see tomorrow arrive because it means 24 days of intense, emotional discussions and debate on the school closures proposal.

Here's what's happening this month that I know about. Please add other events in the comments and I'll edit this post to include them.

Two school/community meeetings scheduled for December 18th (Cooper and SBOC) were postponed and need to be rescheduled, but I haven't see new dates yet.

And if any additional buildings are proposed for closure in the Superintendent's final recommendation on Tuesday, public hearings will be scheduled for these buildings as well some time in January.

Monday, January 5, 8:00 am, e-mail or call (252-0040) to sign up to testify at the Board meeting

Tuesday, January 6, 4:00 pm, Superintendent releases Final Recommendations, Stanford Center

Tuesday, January 6, 6:30 pm, Educators Students & Parents for a Better Vision of Seattle Schools (ESP Vision) planning meeting, Garfield Community Center

Wednesday, January 7, 5:00 p.m, Educators Students & Parents for a Better Vision of Seattle Schools (ESP Vision) rally, Stanford Center

Wednesday, January 7, 6:00 p.m, Final Recommendations introduced at School Board meeting, Stanford Center

Thursday, January 8, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Special Education Advisory & Advocacy Council, Room#2776 at the Stanford Center

Monday, January 19, 8:00 am, e-mail or call (252-0040) to sign up to testify at the Board meeting

Tuesday, January 20, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, Rescheduled public hearing at Lowell (1058 E. Mercer St.)

(From District website) "Individuals who were on the public testimony list for the original hearing of Dec. 18 (rescheduled due to inclement weather) have first priority to testify. Individuals on the original list will be contacted by phone and/or email. Others may sign up to testify on a space-available basis. Email or call 252-0042. Sign-ups will be accepted until noon on the day of the hearing. After that time, sign-ups will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis at the building site if space is still available."

Wednesday, January 21, 6:00 p.m, School Board meeting Stanford Center

Thursday, January 22, 6:00 p.m, Final public hearing, Stanford Center

Thursday, January 29, 6:00 p.m, School Board vote on Final Recommendations, Stanford Center


dj said…
Out of curiousity, what's the over/under on the kids actually going back to school tomorrow? On time? The snow is accumulating -- modestly -- on my street.
Maureen said…
We have about an inch in Greenwood and it's still coming down. I'm sending my 14 year old out the door somewhere tomorrow whether school is open or not!
We have four inches at my house already. I wish I could say that it was a conspiracy to keep everyone home until they release the new plan on Tuesday but I think if the Sup had that much pull she would use her power for good.
Beth Bakeman said…
The National Weather service forecast is predicting 1-3 inches of snow for Seattle, but claims the temperature will raise over night and that it will turn to rain before the morning.

Who knows what that means for the streets and school. Some schools in Pierce county have already announced late starts.
Charlie Mas said…
As of this moment...

All Seattle Public Schools will open on time today, Monday, January 5, and buses will operate on regular routes.
Jet City mom said…
where's the salt?
anonymous said…
I just received an enrollment and registration information card in the mail. It shows the new dates of open enrollment as March 2-31, 2009.

It also says that "students affected by building closure or program changes will receive their new assignments in the mail at the end of February. If they do not like their assignment they can apply for a different assignment during open enrollment."

I knew the open enrollment dates had been pushed forward, but this was the first I heard about early/priority assignment for kids affected by closure. Interesting.
seattle citizen said…
I read in the paper that they're already using salt (last night)...

sigh. Salting slush, great!

I hate salt. When I moved out west, we looked at our 1965 Corvair convertible, beautiful apple red, pristine...topsides. Look underneath and it was a corroded mess. We left it back east to continue rotting. alas.
anonymous said…
I don't like salt either. My preference would be plows, but can we realistically afford enough plows for the once every 4 or 5 year big snowstorms? I like the eco friendly de-icer too, but the city was not prepared and they ran out of it. So then what.....???? We allowed 6 or 7 inches of snow to shut our city down for almost two weeks. Two weeks! Our airport closed for several days, planes were delayed and to say travel was a mess is an understatement. Amtrak stopped running trains in/out of Seattle for several days. Metro was only running 50% of their buses. Garbage and recycle wasn't picked up for two weeks, and became a health hazard. There were thousands of car accidents and injuries. There were people who were homebound for weeks - and older folks who simply couldn't walk in snow. There were Lost wages from people who couldn't get to work. School was closed for three days. Retail sales plummeted the week before Christmas, at the shopping peek, because people couldn't use the roads to get to stores. And we had mass power outages.

Seattle was effectively shut down.

In this case I would vote for salt. A little salt every 4 or 5 years, when the plows aren't enough and we run out of de-icer will do far less damage than the damage the salt does.
seattle citizen said…
hmm, ad hoc, I'm not convinced. We used salt where I grew up, but the roads were MUCH less steep. I'm not sure salt will address the issues of people getting out (will be able to salt EVERY side street?) We won't be salting the sidewalks, so the elderly will still not be able to walk. Amtrack won't salt its rails, and they won't pour salt on the jet wings...

It WAS a mess, no doubt. Lots of post-event analysis to be done. But it IS rare, and in our city's case there frankly might not be a lot to do. This is one of the most difficult cities, topographically, that I've ever seen!
anonymous said…
I grew up in Brooklyn NY, where we got a couple of snow storms that dropped 3-8" of snow every winter. All streets were clear before 8AM, including side streets. Trains and buses ran at 100% and on schedule. Garbage was picked up. Adults went to work. Kids went to school. Retail businesses were not affected. Our city functioned as usual.

I agree that Seattle is a difficult city topographically, but.....we could have done a lot more and a lot better. The city was unable to clear even major arterials like Northgate way. They didn't pick up trash for two weeks. That is just unacceptable.

Salt would have helped tremendously. Preparation and enough de-icer would have helped tremendously.

And BTW, I'm not trying to convince anyone, I'm simply stating my rationale and preference.

Salt VS. doing little to nothing.

I vote for salt.
seattle citizen said…
Hmm...Brooklyn is, if I recall, fairly flat. I grew up in Northern Westchester, a bit hillier.

They plowed the main roads right away, sanded, and occasionally salted. The side roads (many, and long) were next on the list after the main roads were plowed.

We used chains, the Corvair (rear-wheel with engine in back), kept a bag of sand in case of getting stuck...Drove carefully or not at all. Many snow days (we used to all pile into the FRONT of the bus, trying to get weight off the back wheels so the bus couldn't get us to school! Not very safe, but we were kids..)

New York City is famous for being relatively car-less. The theory has it that no one on Manhattan owns a car; why would they? It would cost a zillion dollars to store and they can always bus, subway, train, ferry, or walk...New York is MUCH more snow-friendly than Seattle, with its commuters in cars.

I'd like to see more plows, stand-by non-articulated buses (the ar-tics are useless in snow) garbage trucks WITH plows...Anyhting but salt! Save the salmon! Save the Corvairs!

(spoken by one who was able to fly out, on time, on Monday morning the 22nd, thus escaping all the chaos for over a week!)
Charlie Mas said…

I have a report that the principal at Montlake, Claudia Allan, has sent out an email announcing the removal of Montlake from the closure list.
Ben said…
If Montlake doesn't close, where does that leave the latest plan for Lowell?

Any thoughts?
Sahila said…
If that Montlake report is accurate...

What kind of pathetic, unprofessional organisation is this, that additions/deletions/changes to the Plan are made known in such an adhoc fashion and that news comes from individual schools instead of the District/Board?

What are the rest of us supposed to do - sit around biting our fingernails to see what our fate is?

The mind boggles at the amateurishness of the management and communication process....this really, really sucks...
Charlie Mas said…
It is pointless to make conjecture about what this rumor/news about Montlake might mean for Lowell or any other school.

The only wise course of action is to wait until the real news is disseminated tomorrow. The report about Montlake may prove true or it may prove false. Either way, the principal at Montlake should have sat on the news for another day. This standard of professionalism - in which the Montlake principal gets early notice and gives early notice - should not be surprising.

I believe that information wants to be free, but holding the news until 4:00 pm tomorrow wouldn't have compromised any ideal.
rugles said…
I got the Montlake email.

Why shouldn't the Principal tell the parents whats going on? Isn't that her job?
Ananda said…
Montlake was never on the list. It was only mentioned as a potential option.
Roy Smith said…
Emailing the Montlake parents that their school is not on the closure list a day before anybody else knows for sure what is happening only strengthens the perception that Montlake has an inside track with the school district.

It would not have hurt anybody if the Montlake principal had sat on the information for a day, and by not sitting on it, the principal has furthered the impression that Montlake somehow gets special privileges that most schools don't get. I don't think this is necessarily fair to Montlake, but this is the kind of circumstance where perception is reality. Sending that email may not have been wrong, but in this environment it was most certainly stupid.

(This all assumes that the Montlake principal in fact has accurate information. Maybe he's wrong - it wouldn't be the first time a principal got left in the dark by central district administration.)
Beth Bakeman said…
All the principals of all affected schools have been notified the day before the announcement by the district at every step of this process.

But they are also given strict instructions to tell no one, not even staff/teachers at the school, until the announcement is made officially to the public.

And yes, Amanda, Montlake was definitely "on the list" of the Superintendent's Potential Final Recommendations from December 9th.
anonymous said…
During the last round of closures the Principal at our school received the news about the fate of the school the day before the official announcement was made. He was asked to keep the information confidential and he did. The principal told us that principals at all affected schools had been notified the day prior.

I think this is common practice at SPS. The Montlake principal used bad judgment in leaking the info prior to the official announcement.
dj said…
Beth, I don't know that it is true that the affected principals have had an email in advance.

The Lowell principal received an email before the original round of proposals letting her know to come to the school board's meeting, but didn't know that it was because her school was targetted. She assumed all principals were getting that notice.
dj said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
Dj that may be what the Lowell principal told you because the principals are asked to keep the communication confidential. It would be quite awkward, not to mention a breach of confidentiality, if she shared the proposal with you prior to the announcement, or even if she told you that she knew the outcome but couldn't share it yet.
dj said…
adhoc, does that mean that the Montlake principal has breached confidentiality?

It is possible that the Lowell principal is lying. However, this is what she said weeks after the initial announcement, and to my understanding she didn't go to the initial school board meeting because she didn't realize that she had been notified about the meeting specially because her school would be closed under the proposal.

I have no reason to think she is lying about that. All I am suggesting is that I am not sure that all of the principals, at all stages, have been getting communications that are specific about what is happening. Perhaps they are now.
Beth Bakeman said…
Dr. G-J herself said in an earlier interview (maybe the KUOW one?) that she was notifying all affected principals the day before any announcements, and then asking them not to share the news with anyone until the public announcement.

While that may have not happened 100% due to normal stuff (like sick days, communication glitches, etc.), I doubt Dr. G-J would say that publically if it wasn't true.
Josh Hayes said…
I know a couple of administrators at schools around the district and they confirm the policy of advance notification with the requirement of confidentiality.

However, they and I both wondered why. Why notify principals, and tell them they can tell no one about it? It can't help them with planning, because they can't tell anyone: they can't consult with teachers or staff. All they can do is watch the next 24 hours with sick dread, or guilty euphoria. Why bother telling them first? The only thing I can think of is that it prevents possible bad-press outbursts by principals at the announcement. I'm not a manager, so maybe there's some management angle here I'm just not seeing.
anonymous said…
After our principal was notified the day prior (this was during the last round of closures) he attended a long meeting. If nothing else it must give the principal some mental preparation and time to process the situation prior to the public notification. I think it's a good thing, and if I were a principal I would appreciate the professional courtesy.
Cari Jones said…
The Cooper Elementary school closure meeting is scheduled for January 13th at 7PM at Cooper Elementary in the Library. Please attend and SAVE COOPER!

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