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Friday, March 27, 2009

Tracy Wants Your Input

Per Charlie's thread about boundaries, I mentioned I thought that since some K-8s are going to be used as reference schools, that Jane Addams would be as well to take pressure off of Eckstein. But the question was raised that maybe only for elementary, not middle. (The assumption may be that kids who start there will stay for middle school but how many? Enough to take 300 out of Eckstein?) So I wrote to Tracy Libros, head of the Enrollment department and said:

A question came up on the blog as we were pondering possible boundaries. So, as currently put forth, some K-8s would be reference schools. Does that mean reference for elementary only or both elementary and middle? I know the new plan has middle school regions so would Jane Addams be a middle school for its region?

Tracy's reply:

"I’d like to hear thoughts on this from families. As I’m sure you know, we’ve switched the order of the work, concentrating on getting the assignment rules approved in June so the technical folks have enough time (hopefully!) to get the new system developed. Then we’ll work on the boundaries for the fall. (The computer system doesn’t need to know what any of the boundary lines are – just needs to know where to “get” that information, which will be our GIS mapping database.)"

No, I didn't know that we were just working on assignment rules. I honestly thought they were working on boundaries and they were next. The fall is a ways off. I also thought high school maps were coming out sooner. Hmmm.

Anyway, you can read what she said. I'd say put this on the agenda of your next PTA meeting.

On the one hand, they could wait a couple of years and see how Jane Addams does. Will it get enough middle schoolers to take the pressure off of Eckstein so they could reduce by at least 300? That would be great. On the other hand, Jane Addams has to ramp up so it might take a long time to see how well this works out.

What I'm trying to say is they might not have to make Jane Addams middle school portion a mandatory assignment if enough people go there voluntarily.

This also depends on how full Hamilton is but with APP coming in and a new building, I'm sure it will be full. I also agree with one post from Charlie's thread about Hamilton becoming a stronger school all the time. It may make whatever boundaries get set up more palatable however they are drawn.

12 comments:

anonymous said...

How in the world could the district do mandatory assignment to a K-8? They are not comprehensive.

Jane Addams will offer one foreign language, Spanish. And MS students will go to Spanish 2 to 3 times a week. Eckstein offers three foreign languages and kids go to their language class 5 days a week.

Jane Addams does not offer electives, Eckstein does.

Jane Addams will offer a homeroom based middle school experience. Eckstein offers a 6 period day (6 different classes and teachers).

Jane Addams will offer a small band, and kids go to their band class 2 to 3 times per week. Eckstein offers 5 tiers of band and orchestra and kids go to their band class 5 days a week.

At the Jane Addams tour it was said that Addams would offer a couple of sports and a few after school activities. Eckstein offers the full range of MS sports, and countless after school activities, clubs, ski bus, etc.

How can a family be forced to go to a middle school that is not comprehensive? Shouldn't that be a choice?

Charlie Mas said...

Tracy's statement comes as a bit of a surprise for me because according to the New Assignment Plan Timetable, the staff are in Phase II and are modelling plans - that means messing with maps and assignment areas.

This, by the way, is the second time that they have claimed that they were modeling assignment areas.

Now Tracy Libros says that they aren't really doing that.

Hmmm. I think some more clarity and transparency is called for here.

BadgerGal said...

At the meeting in Ballard last night, Tracy did say the they wouldn't get to drawing boundaries until Fall 2009, but that the Rules were due in June 2009.

She also showed a different timeline than what you have posted, Charlie. More of a Gantt chart than these boxes and arrows. The presentation she showed last night was different that what is on the website also so maybe they just haven't posted them yet?

SE Mom said...

Any update from the Ballard meeting on high school assignments and choice seats? That would fall under the topic of "assignment rules."

I wrote directly to Tracy to give her my input about assignment rules for high school - have not had a response.

Dorothy Neville said...

As someone who lives directly East of Bryant and at the current edge of the Roosevelt circle of admission, I have thought about this a lot. I am not surprised at Bryant -> Hamilton, it makes the most sense. But so does Laurelhurst -> Hamilton which was not in AdHoc's comment (from an email she received).

Anything but Bryant -> Hamilton would have surprised me, actually.

Trying to weigh the minimize busrides, maximize walking, ensure predictability, right-size zones, etc. All of that is really hard. I have come to the conclusion that having entire elementary assignment areas all going to the same middle school area causes more trouble than its worth. The functional capacity of each school is so big, and non uniform, that it just doesn't make sense.

The north north east has no middle school, so it makes sense that the southend of north east must switch to Hamilton. But there's a high school right there in north end of north east, so all those kids should be Eckstein and Hale, while the kids in the south end would more likely be Hamilton to Roosevelt. But the kids in the middle? The ones who live closest to Eckstein? Why not have the middle school boundaries similar to but not exactly the same as the elementary boundaries. It would simplify a lot.

To conclude, I think for kids in the north east, it may become more normal to go either Hamilton -> Roosevelt or Eckstein -> Hale. Neither are currently the norm and will require some adjustments, psychological and otherwise.

But I also think we would get better results, more efficiencies if we get rid of the assumption that elementaries ought to be tagged with particular middle schools. No matter what, there will be kids who can see a school from their house but will be told to attend different one a bus ride away. Insisting that everyone move from 5th to 6th grade as a school unit will just make that happen way more often than it should.

As for the order of things, there is no way people should be discussing the rules for the assignment plan with only hazy ideas of how the district will right-size the boundaries. The map is going to be the most contentious and waiting til the end is going to be bad. Consider one example. Lots of folks hope there is some number of open lottery seating at high schools. But what percent of seats and should siblings be allowed to tag along? Well, some people might be generous with those decisions, until they see what that does to the right sized boundaries. Then there may be uproar and folks will feel hoodwinked.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One thing that seems to have changed (or rather the Board may have thought differently) is Open Choice. I was under the impression these would be set-aside seats probably after sibling. (De Bell had said something like 10% which I thought was way too high). But to have them come as a lottery after sibling, reference area AND economic tiebreakers seems a big "so what". I just don't see that there will be that many left.

SE Mom said...

That is what worries me also. And that is the feedback I am trying to provide to Tracy L.

When I spoke to Tracy last fall at a meeting she seemed to "get" that specialized programs needed to be open to students outside of those living near a particular high school. It seems like a no-brainer.

I don't have the sense that sending email feedback is very impactful. I think going to another meeting may be more productive since Tracy is present and seems to be available often for discussion afterwards.

Charlie Mas said...

I would like to see the rules for high school admission to be:

Reference Area (with the reference area drawn small enough to only 90% fill the general education program)

Siblings

then, for the open choice seats, Lottery

I would like to see the admissions for special programs done the same way (reference area, sibling, lottery), but just for the seats in those programs. So just as students in grades 1-8 can select Wedgwood or Wedgwood Spectrum, as if they were two different schools, students could select Ballard or Ballard Biotech.

The special program status would only be for CTE programs, but I would like to see Roosevelt and Garfield get their music programs certified for CTE credit. Students would have to audition for them to be deemed eligible to seek admission, but it wouldn't be essentially the same programming used for Spectrum-eligible students now.

These are technological hurdles that we have already cleared. I know that they may seem to add complexity, but only for students seeking special programs.

SE Mom said...

I am very much in favor of having high school music programs be identified as special programs with
an audition entrance. Or at least having some proof that the prospective student is a serious or avid musician.

There is only one high school south of the ship canal that offers comprehensive string programs: Garfield has several orchestras and string groups. Franklin, Rainier Beach and Cleveland have NO string programs at all - nothing. Sealth has one very small string ensemble with less than 10 players. West Seattle I believe, but am not sure, has no string programs either.

Charlie's idea to have the high school music programs CTE's makes alot of sense.

Barking up a tree though, because nothing is going to change. If the district can't see to offer a reasonable lottery to an IB program, why would it think that music programs are valuable and should be available to many students?

I like to think of myself as an optimistic person or someone who seeks out solutions to problems, but this whole assignment issue with high school has really got me down.

Charlie Mas said...

I mention the need for separate enrollment for CTE programs every time I see Tracy Libros.

She asks how we would do it. "Just like we do Spectrum now" I say. "Students could enroll at a school or at an academy, which is within a school."

Interesting point - this would make it possible for Cleveland, which could be all academies, to be a "choice" school.

She asks what if the student drops out of the program? Would they stay at the school? The concern is that families would game the system by enrolling in Ballard Biotech just to get into the school and would then drop out of the Biotech program and hope to stay in the building. I answer: "If they dropped out mid-year they would finish the year at the school, but would then be in open enrollment for the next year. The student does not have a seat in the general education program at the school but in the academy. The District could impose a more draconian rule which would require the student leaving an academy at mid-year to take an open seat at a school (or academy) with space available." How is it now done for students who drop out of Spectrum or APP?

The objections can be overcome. The processes and technology are already in place.

Dorothy Neville said...

The "music" programs at GHS and RHS are really two or more separate entities, Orchestra and Band At RHS, Band is separated into Jazz and Concert Band. Jazz is only 18 kids, all upperclassmen (except for an occasional star) who most likely played in the after school Jazz feeder bands as 9th and 10th graders. I do not see how one could easily make music a CTE, but you would have to look at models elsewhere and get feedback from the orchestra and band directors involved. It would be very complex. I'm not saying it couldn't be done, but would be very disruptive. Has anyone ever asked any of the music directors for their opinion? They have years of experience and probably know of districts with such audition models and the pros and cons.

One of the nice things about the way it works now is that any ninth grader can play without auditions, I think that sort of inclusion is considered a plus. A CTE program status and everyone in by audition would complicate that. Would kids audition for both GHS and RHS? In that case, would the directors be required to choose wait lists for instruments because they don't know if the kids they select would attend? Would they woo kids, try to take them from each other? That could get really ugly.

Can you have auditions and a lottery? So let's say that there are 10 spots open for violinists. 30 kids audition. Does the director choose the 10 they want or do they deem 15 competent and they go in a lottery? In that case, it's a different lottery for each instrument?

Injuries? What if a trumpet player gets into a really bad bike accident and has to have his jaw reconstructed. Sorry, too bad, you can't play anymore, you have to leave school?

Would walk-ons be allowed? Or would the whole program be by audition? Let's say my son plays and likes to play, is pretty good, but is not planning to become a professional. But we live in the RHS reference area so no sweat getting into RHS regular school. If he wanted the option to play would he have to apply for the CTE as first choice and audition? Or if he is allowed to join as a walk-on, then perhaps it turns out that there's room for 4 of his instrument in the orchestra and he is better than the 4 currently there. So one of them (an auditioned choice student) gets bumped? Or not?

All this could be worked out, but it's much more complex than IB or Biotech or any other model currently in the district.

What about RHS Drama? Much easier actually to say that could or should be a CTE. It already has classes and the classes are comprehensive, not just acting, but directing, stage managing, lighting, script-writing, lots of skills developed. Would that be by audition? How do you audition a fledgling lighting technician? Is it fair to audition actors and then have some non-audition seats open to kids who might want to be involved?

I'm with you on a lot of things Charlie but not on one. I do *not* see why siblings would get preference, especially any program that fills with a waiting list and lottery. By this I mean siblings of kids who got in via lottery. Siblings of kids who got in via reference area, well, they wouldn't have any problem, eh? Given that the reference area guarantees spots? If the family has meanwhile moved, then too bad, apply for lottery. And of course sibling status means nothing for a program that has auditions.

Jet City mom said...

Reference Area (with the reference area drawn small enough to only 90% fill the general education program)

so for Ballard that is what, 3/4s of a mile?
According to the districts 2006 data- 2262 high school students live in the Ballard near area.

Re: Eckstein- wasn't too long ago, Joe O came to Summit and told them to add a 6th grade class every year for a few years to take up slack from Eckstein. Don't know that, that made Eckstein less crowded, but it did relieve pressure on the students who wanted to attend a middle school in their area.