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Friday, May 29, 2009

Wednesday's Board Agenda

This is going to be one interesting Board meeting (and I have to miss it so people, take notes). The agenda is finally up and it is long (I think this will be a longer meeting than usual).

What's on it?
  • Carla Santorno, CAO, will be giving what is called a "science update"
  • We lost not one but two lawsuits and now the district has to pay. One is this: "This law firm is defending the District in a lawsuit involving a former certificated employee who has alleged that the District failed to accommodate her disability and wrongfully terminated her employment. The contract modification from $245,000 to $295,000 will pay for defense costs in this case." No, I don't know what this one is about. UPDATE: the Times reports that the plaintiffs (the PIC parents) will donate $150,000 of the settlement to the Alliance for Education. That is very classy and shows the depth of their commitment to public education.
  • Second case, well, they finally settled on a cost for the Supreme Court case over the use of the racial tiebreaker in assignments. On the upside, not as much as it could have been but it's $800,000. So between the two cases, that's over $1M.
  • A vote on the new bus/bell times. Still nothing under research or best practices.
  • Introduction item is the Student Assignment Plan: Description and Processes (so we need to get reading before the meeting to see if anything new and unexpected has crept in). I need to verify which draft is correct (I'm assuming the one attached to the motion but it isn't dated). The next part of the Assignment Plan is the "School Boundaries". Interestingly, I note that the motion says "implementation for some schools in 2010-2011". Did I miss something? I thought this plan was for every school but maybe the plan is to be written and approved and not fully implemented?
  • Really good news and very interesting: a motion to go forward with what are being called "Skills Centers" (vocational ed). There is a feasibility study attached to the motion which I only glanced through but has a lot of good info on King County jobs, previous CTE, etc. The motion does say it could have implications for grad requirements and/or school assignments. I am very jazzed about this because (1) more opportunities for training for kids who don't go to college and (2) they are starting with some "Green Tech" courses.
  • A very gung-ho motion for alignment of high school curricula. The schedule is just quick and across the board (math, science, social studies and LA). Man, not wasting any time.
  • The calendar at the end of the agenda is huge. Of special note:
    Board work session on student assignment plan: how boundaries are drawn, Wednesday, June 24, 4-5:30p, Auditorium (be there or forever hold your peace) immediately followed by a Public Hearing on the 2009/2010 Budget
Oh, and I'm thinking a few people might sign up to speak.

13 comments:

anonymous said...

Anybody notice this on page 12

"Based on continued enrollment growth in the Northeast area, the School Board may reconsider its November 2008 determination that the Jane Addams building should house a K-8 rather than comprehensive 6-8 middle school, and if additional elementary capacity must be created to accommodate the present and anticipated K-5 population. This issue would be addressed by separate School Board Action, considering capacity management and capital levy planning activities."

anonymous said...

This school is doomed before it even gets started. With all of the uncertainty and the threat of closure who in their right mind would sign their child up to attend this school? The enrollment will surely drop next year and then the school board can say they want to close it because it was unpopular and under enrolled.

It smells bad, very very bad.

Jet City mom said...

I am cranky.
Just so you know & I know my rant is preaching to the choir but still I have to add my frustration.

My oldest didn't get into Summit K-12 when we first applied over two decades ago and eventually attended private schools and although my younger daughter only attended Summit K-12 for six years through the end of middle school ( during which time I was very involved in the school and district inc parent chair)-

I am just sick> about the hasty booting out of Summit- without a thoughtful & accountable plan for the staff and students, some who have been at Summit-K-12 long before Goodloe-Johnson has been in Seattle & would have been there long after she is gone****
All that was bad enough-
but seeing that the district doesn't even have a plan for the building that they will stick with for more than forty minutes is mind numbing.

Charlie Mas said...

A very full agenda. I think this reflects a healthy sense of urgency from both the superintendent and the Board.

I don't know what might be in Ms Santorno's Science Update, but there are some things that I am definitely hoping for. I would really like to see this District acknowlege science as part of the core curriculum (along with reading, writing and math) and take it more seriously K-12. I would also like to see high school students get the opportunity to take more science by gaining earlier access to advanced classes.

The report on the State Performance Audit from Mr. Kennedy could be juicy as we are all hoping for some remarks about how the list of Capital Projects is determined, how they are budgeted, how they are bid, and how they are managed.

The Frisino lawsuit was from a teacher who had an adverse reaction to mold at Hale. The District's efforts to address the mold were inadequate. Instead of removing it they chose to shellac over it - literally. While this method could work, it didn't. The teacher became too sick to work.

It looks like Davis, Wright Tremaine has settled on just 7oz of flesh instead of the pound that they are entitled to.

The bus and bell times vote is important in a couple of ways. First, it establishes areas of authority. The Board has authority for bus times and the superintendent has authority for bell times. Second, it establishes the requirement that they be settled before open enrollment (nevermind that they are coming long after it this year). Third, it is VERY significant that there is no data provided and no best practices provided. In other words, this is crap.

The EDM consumables will get its vote and undoubtedly be approved. They have painted themselves into this corner and they have no other option. I think it is interesting that materials are now paid for out of the District's general fund instead of schools' budgets - or will the school budgets be assessed a charge for these materials? If the costs were passed through to the schools, I have to wonder if the school budgets were assessed a charge for the Singapore materials.

Regarding the New Student Assignment Plan, the Action Report states:
"It is assumed that a majority of students will attend the school designated by their home address."

Really? Is that what our current data shows?

I see that The Center School and South Shore K-8 (formerly The New School) will both be classified as Option Schools. This throws enrollment at them open to all students throughout the city equally - except for those residing in the narrowly defined geographic zone around the school building.

Cleveland's status - as an Option school or an attendance area school - is to be determined later by the Board. Yet another sign of the Board defending their area of authority from the staff.

END PART I

Charlie Mas said...

PART II

I notice that: "All of the programmatic changes, including service delivery changes for advanced learning, bilingual, and special education services, will not be in place for the first year of implementation. Many of these changes will be implemented over a period of several years."

I think that will apply most to Special Education, but this statement will also be used as cover for advanced learning and bilingual.

Look for the Facilities Management Plan, due in the fall of 2009, to include some language about setting capacity to meet demand for these services as well as general education services. I know that Special education families will be looking for that language, but north-end Spectrum families should look for it too.

The transition story on siblings is interesting.

"Entering siblings of current students are not 'grandfathered' but are eligible for the sibling tiebreaker, which is the first tiebreaker for available seats after assignment of attendance area students. The sibling tiebreaker is applicable for assignment to a school, but not for assignment to a specific program within a school."

So if the Bryant attendance area is drawn around your house and you have a second-grader at Laurelhurst, that student can continue at Laurelhurst through the fifth grade. A younger sibling, however, can only get into Laurelhurst if the school is not filled with Laurelhurst attendance area children. So it will go: attendance area, then siblings, then everybody else.

Neighborhood students will take precedence over siblings.

Another interesting point that has not been talked about much:
Neither service area nor distance will be factors AT ALL. So a non-sibling student from Rainier Beach has just as much chance of getting into Laurelhurst as a non-sibling student who lives across the street from the attendance area boundary line. Students living in the service area will get transportation while the long-distance student will not, but geography will have no role in assignment.

I think this could be a big deal if some of the schools don't fill up with neighborhood students.

Note that: "After all Open Enrollment applications have been processed, students may apply to attend any attendance area school with space available during a designated time period. Deadlines for Open Enrollment, waiting list assignments, and 'real time' reassignments to space available will be published annually."

So after Open Enrollment the District will publish a list of "space available". What then? First come, first served? It will be like a land rush!

There is specific mention of Jane Addams. It is shown as an attendance area K-8, but: "Based on continued enrollment growth in the Northeast area, the School Board may reconsider its November 2008 determination that the Jane Addams building should house a K-8 rather than comprehensive 6-8 middle school, and if additional elementary capacity must be created to accommodate the present and anticipated K-5 population. This issue would be addressed by separate School Board Action, considering capacity management and capital levy planning activities."

The Student Assignment Plan dictates that: "ALO will be offered in every elementary school, and is available to all students enrolled in the school." The District is making one of two mistakes here. They are either biting off more than they can chew or they are going to re-define ALO into meaningless mush.

END PART II

Charlie Mas said...

PART III

I didn't see any discussion of how they will provide equitable access to the international schools.

The change in the Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook are good. They distinguish between a pen knife and a weapon.

Regarding the curriculum alignment vote, I can't help noting that it claims that the curriculum alignment for math is complete. It is? Great! Where is it? Where is the APP math curriculum part of it? Where is the part that shows how K-5 math is now aligned to the new State Standards? Where is there any deliverable at all?

I fully support curricular alignment. I have been working for it for a long time. But curricular alignment does not require standardized materials, standardized pedagogy, or standardized lessons. I don't support any of those. Too many times I have seen District staff intentionally swap these words and their meanings around to confuse and deceive. We must be vigilent against that sort of skullduggery.

Finally, the Board meeting will end, as they do a couple times each year, with the reading of a determination of unfair labor practices by the District. I would really like to see the Board stand more firmly on the side of fair labor practices. Maybe if the Superintendent had to pay a five-figure fine for every one of these...

dan dempsey said...

Charlie,

I am not quite so hopeful about Ms. Santorno and science ... I expect more discovery and inquiry. Some core-knowledge about science would be wonderful but unlikely.

I'll be there testifying about the Everyday Math boondoggle. Check Cliff Mass's Op-Ed in the TimesDan

North Seattle Mom said...

Please post anything you learn about how the school boundaries will be drawn. I am very concerned that wealthier neighborhoods in NE Seattle are trying to red line schools to keep out kids who live in apartments, public housing and immigrant families.

Ben said...

1. Bell times are STILL up in the air? They have already announced (not just suggested or discussed, but announced) at least THREE DIFFERENT bell times.

2. Re: "All of the programmatic changes, including service delivery changes for advanced learning, bilingual, and special education services, will not be in place for the first year of implementation. Many of these changes will be implemented over a period of several years."

What does this imply for APP at Thurgood marshall?

NE Parent said...

North Seattle Mom said: "I am very concerned that wealthier neighborhoods in NE Seattle are trying to red line schools to keep out kids who live in apartments, public housing and immigrant families."

What is the basis for this concern? Is it just a fear or is it based on some facts? There are apartments etc. throughout the cluster, so I can't imagine what kind of lines could accomplish this even if people tried. And I am not asking this to attack you--I just haven't heard anything like this elsewhere. Please educate me.

anonymous said...

I haven't heard anything about affluent families trying to redline schools.

But when I think about boundaries diversity is the first thing that comes to my mind.

Between 110th and 145th Ave NE (Lake City, Olympic Hills, Northgate, Cedar Park) there are many more low income families, apartment complexes, half way houses, etc. Lake City is home to one of the largest low income housing projects in the city, and the crime rate in that area is 9 times higher than the crime rate in the south part of the cluster. Meanwhile the south part of the cluster is made up of very affluent neighborhoods and consistently upper middle class neighborhoods (Laurelhurst, Ravenna, View Ridge, Bryant, Wedgewwod).

If we have a MS at JA, and MS at Eckstein and the boundary is drawn at say 85th, with families living north of 85th going to JA, and south of 85th going to Eckstein, we are going to see two drastically different middle schools.

This is something to think about. I am hoping that a boundary is drawn north to south, with something like 35th ave NE being the dividing line (it runs north to south the whole lenghth of the cluster). Or any other boundary that would work to diversify BOTH schools and not divide the affluent from the low income.

north seattle mom said...

I guess dj and I both need to change our monikers. Now there are DJ and dj and north seattle mom and North Seattle Mom.

This "north seattle mom" with no caps, does not think they are red-lining the area. The capacity issues up here are so bad that I don't think they could intentionally do that, even if they wanted to. I do think there is going to be a whole world of hurt in the NE when then do draw the lines because there isn't enough space for anyone so someone is going to need to go.

Therefore, I think that they will likely need to move Spectrum out of the NE neighborhood schools because there are too many families not from the cluster in these programs and they will try to get back some space that way but that is as far as my musings on the topic go -- now off to change my moniker ;-)

ParentofThree said...

Somewhat related:

Pullman school superintendent passes on pay raise

PULLMAN, Wash. —
Pullman School District Superintendent Paul Sturm will not take a $5,000 annual salary increase that was supposed to go into effect in July.

He told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News it wasn't appropriate to take the increase when teachers won't get cost-of-living increases as the district copes with a tight budget.

Sturm's current salary is $128,000.