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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Assignment Plan Changes Being Discussed Now

At a Board work session today from 4-5:30 pm, the revised assignment plan framework is being discussed. And, based on what I see in the presentation, the details are definitely beginning to be fleshed out.

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4:30 pm

I'm at the Board work session now. I'm impressed by both the types of questions the Board members are asking and the respectful way they are asking them.

They're not getting any answers yet...it's more like Dr. G-J is presenting info and collecting questions, but not really attempting to answer them. There is a Recorder who is taking notes of everything.

4:45 pm
Tracy Libros talking about tie-breakers now. (slides 23, 24, 25)

Amusingly, she started to answer a Board members' question and then stopped herself saying "Oh, I'm not supposed to answer now." So I guess that's the official plan for this session.

4:50 pm
Open to general Board questions. DeBell says "there needs to be a linkage between the assignment plan and program placement." Need to be able to respond quickly to demand by parents to provide equitable programming/access. Spoke about International School programs and what should/would the district do to respond if parent demand outstrips program capacity.

Sundquist asking whether/when revisiting question of closing a high school at the same time since that has real impacts on the assignment plan design/implementation.

4:55 pm
VAX migration project update (slides 27-30)

Martin-Morris asks whether the eSIS (Oracle platform application) can offer families the ability to register directly at schools rather than going to a student assignment center.

5:00 pm
Bridgett Chandler talking about trying to move from 1-to-1 communication (indivdual e-mails and phone calls) to 1-to-many communication (FAQs, online info organized by theme with frequent updates, etc.)

"Dedicated e-mails" means having specific e-mail addresses that would help collect concerns/questions by theme.

Dr. G-J says answers to Board questions from today will be brought to Board work session on this topic next week. May also require additional work sessions.

Board will be voting on Assignment policy on April 22nd. Maier points out that this is high-level policy only...not the detailed plan that will be voted on. Sundquist asks when the vote on the full plan will be.

Draft high school attendance area maps will be shared with public and Board on April 29th. Maier asks --- does this mean high school attendance change implementation is happening first?

DeBell says we have "some challenges in having a fully-developed model" in time for the vote in June. (based on Executive Comm. discussion with Holly Ferguson) District is asking Board to vote on overall policy but only details for high school assignment. DeBell says he and others are not comfortable with this since this type of a decision-making process could have the Board voting for things with unknown implications.

Next week: 4-hour work session (4 pm to 8 pm); one hour on high school math adoption, three hours on student assignment. (Martin-Morris voiced concern that one hour is not enough for that topic. Dr. G-J said if not enough time, decide that time and will schedule additional time then)

Future: April 8th Board work session that had originally been assigned to high school math adoption will be switched to session on student assignment

8 comments:

Johnny Calcagno said...

Can anyone tell me which Broadstripe channel carries the the Board meetings? Or if they are streamed online?

Beth Bakeman said...

I think it's the same as for Comcast cable: Channel 26.

And no, Board meetings are not streamed live online. But are available online later.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seriously, the staff wants the Board to vote on a whole plan with only one part fully fleshed out?

Again, BIG RED FLAG. That is crazy talk and I personally would say, "Don't ever ask me to vote on any major plan if I only get to see part of it."

The district is, in effect, saying "trust us".

Charlie?

Unknown said...

There's no way this can be voted on until people see what the new reference areas are. I know that won't be a fun time for anyone, but it should definitely not be sprung on everyone at the last minute or at any other time designed to escape notice or scrutiny.

Central Mom said...

I was cheered to see Michael DeBell's comment that he is uncomfortable voting on generalities and that he wants more detail, even if it means the high school portion can't be enacted for next year. How many years late are we already? We can wait another one if it means a process of true public engagement.

But, watching this start time rigamarole probably means that it will take additional public voices, and more board voices, to keep the details flowing pre-vote. So get ready to make your voices heard.

Beth Bakeman said...

Central Mom,
I also was glad to hear Michael DeBell speak up.

But just to clarify, it is high schools that will go first (2010). It is apparently middle schools and elementary schools that will be delayed.

Charlie Mas said...

There are some really interesting tidbits in this "framework".

First, on slide 13, this element of the plan:

"Make every school an excellent school; replicate successful programs and site new programs to increase access to excellent programs."

Do we have a definition of an excellent school? I don't think we do. Even if we did, how blithely do they regard this step in the process. I once had a service manual for my car. The car needed some work so I opened the manual to the instructions for the job. It read: "Step One: Remove Engine." I pretty much stopped there. This plan strikes me the same: Step One: Make every school an excellent school.

Second, do we have any example - ANY EXAMPLE - of the District replicating a successful program? [cricket... cricket...] Why do they keep writing this into their plans when they never plan to do it?

Slide 15 represents a rational and coherent plan for Special Education program placement. What a delightful surprise. I will look forward to the implementation of this reasonable plan.

Same for bilingual services on slides 16 and 17. Makes excellent sense.

Slide 18, the plans for Advanced Learning are all messed up. It begins by mandating that every reference area elementary school have an ALO. The District cannot monitor the quality or effectiveness of the ALOs they have now, but they are looking to double their numbers? They think they can mandate schools to develop a model and implement it when the schools don't want to? Bad, bad, bad idea. It just won't work. It will water down the definition of ALO even more than the vague amorphous definition it has now. This will mean schools that have ALOs in name only the way that schools now have Spectrum in name only.

Then comes the continuation of the mistake of locating north-end APP in the south-end. With the new assignment plan the District should find a north-end location for the north-end students. There is no excuse for this bad practice.

Now all middle schools will be required to offer Spectrum. Big mistake. This insures the continuation of weak Spectrum programs at Mercer and Aki Kurose. Spectrum requires a critical mass of students to form a viable program. If there are not enough students they should bring them together from a wider geographic area as they do for Special Education and bilingual. Also, who will provide the quality assurance for these programs? The District? Ha! Why aren't they doing that now? What will change to make them do it in future?

Slide 21 says that "Middle schools that receive students from international elementary schools through the regular feeder pattern will become international middle schools." That means that Mercer will be an international middle school because Beacon Hill Elementary will be part of the Mercer attendance area.

Megan Mc said...

According to the assignment plan framework on the district site:

5. Clusters that combine several reference areas would be modified to:

• Add the flexibility of staggered school opening and closing times as an additional choice element for families, with transportation provided within the cluster. This has an additional benefit of saving on transportation costs.

EH? this has the additional benefit of saving on transportation cost!!!