Jane Addams, Higher Enrollments and Fed Money
"Jane Addams K-8 could be on its way to closing before it is even opened. And the future of students who are enrolled there this fall is already up in the air.
Debbie Nelsen, the appointed principal for Jane Addams K-8, confirmed Tuesday that the district is working on a plan to create separate elementary and middle schools. In an e-mail to seattlepi.com, she said she did not know what schools would be established."When might we know?
"Seattle Public Schools would not confirm details of the plan Wednesday. Responding to a request for more information on the plan, spokesman David Tucker said the district will post student assignment plan information to the district's Web site Friday in advance of the June 3 school board meeting.
The district is expected to hold a community meeting about Jane Addams on Monday, though no meeting has been officially announced.
Michael DeBell, president of the Board of Directors, did not return phone calls from seattlepi.com. He and Steve Sundquist, vice president of the board, met Tuesday with Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson about the Jane Addams K-8 plan, board Director Harium Martin-Morris said.
Martin-Morris said he did not know specifics, but said the district has unanticipated high enrollment in Northeast Seattle. What initially was thought to be a bubble of interest in the area is turning out to be a trend, he said."
Harium? Seriously? "A bubble of interest?"
So then there's this article in the Times about the uptick of enrollment (is this really a surprise given the economy). From the article:
"During the enrollment sign-up that ended in March, the school district received 400 more kindergarten applications this year than last.
District officials estimate that could mean anywhere from 200 to 500 more students in Seattle schools in September. It would be the second increase in two years — reversing a general downward trend over the past decade.
Officials won't know for sure how many students they'll have until September. While the increase in applications is encouraging, they caution it might simply mean families want a backup for private school in case a parent loses a job."
Why the uptick?
"And some see it as a signal that the public's confidence in Seattle's public schools is growing.
"I'm really excited," said School Board President Michael DeBell. "It shows we're doing plenty of things right."I don't blame Michael for being hopeful that the uptick is due to consumer confidence. I don't think that's the reason but maybe.
So a post was written elsewhere ( by Ben) that said this:
"Yeah, but. Now that the feds are giving us hundreds of millions of dollars (which, we're told, will help "offset" the schools' budget deficit), where does that leave us?"
To that point is this editorial in the Times today that warns that the fed money comes with expectations (and the Times seems worried that the state may not meet them to continue receiving money).
"Now that the Times is saying enrollment will be up (with schools closed and teachers laid off), where does that leave us?"
That may leave us with not enough capacity where it's needed. This upward trend is not a surprise. The projections have been there for at least 3 years and it started last year. But it will not last if we have things like the Jane Addams situation where people feel jerked around by the district (welcome to the party).
"Now that there's word that Jane Adams K-8 will actually become a middle school, where does that leave us?"
It leaves some of us feeling...right (but that's a hollow feeling for the upheaval it will cause). Bravo to all the posts (not necessarily mine) that advocated this - you were right. It might behoove the district, as we have said repeatedly, to listen to the people on the ground, parents, staff and teachers. We know our schools in a way no district staff can.
I'm not sure where this all leaves us. I'm listening right now to a fascinating discussion on KUOW with Scott Oki, a former Microsoftie, about public education. He has a new book, "Outrageous Learning: An Educational Manifesto.", that applies business (entrepreneurial tranformation) to schools. He makes some good points and some funny points (principals as CEO, sound familiar?). This discussion will be available to listen later at KUOW at your leisure.
He advocates a "Mom March" on Olympia or even gasp! the Stanford Center. Maybe that is where this all leaves us.