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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New FAQ Info

I haven't had time to peruse this myself but a reader said there was new information at the SAPs including about Option schools. I did find this one funny/odd because it is obvious that they don't want to answer the question.

Why is South Shore designated as an option school under the proposed attendance area boundaries?

What distinguishes option schools is that their buildings are not tied to an attendance area. No one is assigned to an option school unless they apply and are assigned based on the approved tiebreakers.

(Not picking on South Shore; our reader pointed this one out.)

22 comments:

Central Mom said...

Let me say that I'm glad the District is reading this blog, out at community meetings (minus the Superintendent of course) hearing questions, and trying to show that they're listening.

The problem is...Recording a question isn't the same as answering it. Answering the question takes more than the communications department updating FAQs. It takes actual cross-departmental involvement.

Central Mom said...

Shoot, the WV for that post was
fograt. I kid you not.

SolvayGirl said...

It seems that the answers to sticky questions appear to be a form of the parental "Because I said so."

zb said...

It'd be kind of funny, if it didn't matter.

I think, that they said that South Shore is an option school because it doesn't have an attendance area. So, really, we need to ask the follow-up question: why doesn't South Shore have an attendance area?

And, I suspect, the answer to that question is, 'cause we decided it doesn't have an attendance area (i.e. the dreaded "because I said so.")

Central Mom said...

After this, someone else can post for a while.

Read this FAQ:

Q: Why not make all International and Montessori schools option schools to create more equitable access?

A: Montessori and International programs are popular programs with families. In some cases, they are housed in buildings that provide capacity to house students in an attendance area efficiently. To make all International and Montessori programs option schools would remove available capacity from a neighborhood and force the redrawing of boundaries to ensure the students there all had attendance area assignments.

Hello District Programming and Logistics???...Hellllooooooooo. Did you hear what your Communications department said? To provide equitable access to true Alt programs like Language Immersion and Montessori, you have to identify them as such, make a roadmap for where they should go, and address the changes it would cause to the SAP boundaries and facilities listed for reopening.

Wouldn't the time to do that be NOW, not after the SAP boundaries are finalized? Or is the current staff and superintendent just planning on dumping this mess on the folks that are in place in the district a few years from now? Because that's what it looks like from out here.

Unknown said...

The district response on language immersion and Montessori schools really troubles me -- and here is why. It has finally really dawned on me that the District "has" to keep available an attendance area school seat for every child (at least at an entry grade level? -- not sure how it works for transfers OUT of an option school). So -- they are now reluctant to create (or designate) programs as option, because they have a school, but can't guarantee that it will absorb any students. It seems to me that the impact on alternate schools will be huge -- and dreadful. They already seem not to like them, because they aren't "standardized" enough. Now, we are adding to that the fact that they will cost more (the cost of each new "alt" seat will NOT be offset by seats in any attendance school. They are already resisting making obviously alternative existing programs "optional" -- for no compelling reason other than that it makes their assignment process more difficult (compelling reasons would be that no one wants the program, etc. -- which is not the case with language immersion). This seems to me to put a lot of very negative pressure on the growth of anything alternative that will bear the "option" label. I wish there were a way for parents to somehow "select themselves" into option schools in a way that would allow the district to feel comfortable subtracting them from assignment seats, so that the ability to start new option or alt programs was enhanced.

casey said...

Have special education program placements been finalized for next year? There are still self contained programs, Head Starts and developmental preschools (there are about 14 preschool classrooms alone, I think), etc? Seems like this would affect a schools capacity - or is there an assumption that all programs will remain where they are. Don't know if this matters. Just hadn't seen it addressed.

southend girl said...

SPS really stepped in it by creating an all Montessori school and designating it an option school. Of course Montessori (and language immersion) are alternative forms of education and should be treated as such. But at least be consistent.

What kind of sense does it make to say, "Montessori and International programs are popular programs with families....", then to go on to say, but...we need regular ed seats instead. What? Hello, there is an unmet demand for these programs. Always a wait list, is this not what SPS wants? I won't even ask the obvious question of why successful programs are not being expanded...

What I still don't understand is why a program, for example a Montessori program at Leschi, Graham Hill or Bagley cannot be an option program, not school, option program. There are already seats set aside for these programs so making the programs options would not be taking regular ed seats away, it would just make the programs available to students beyond those living in the attendance areas.

Why not? A small step towards consistency and equity.

This is sooo frustrating.

wseadawg said...

If they designate too many schools as option schools, doesn't it work against the "return to neighborhood schools" policy and emphasis?

My guess is there's a percentage bar they don't want to exceed or it will disrupt the push back to neighborhood schools.

Kind of like that problem of closing schools, just to reopen a bunch of others a year later.

Megan Mc said...

Southend girl brings up a good point. Why do the Language Immersion and Montessori programs have to be tied to the geographic location? If they offered every service area transportation to an alternative, montessori, and language immersion program then that would go a long way toward restoring choice to the system. Seats would be applied by lottery. Schools with struggling enrollment could add one of those programs to their building when the waitlist demand became big enough at one of the other option programs.

I know that co-housing doesn't save money but it could help the district serve the needs of more than one type of student in the same location. An added bonus is that you wouldn't have to find specialized staff to fill the whole building. It could even be a single class per grade model.

This model doesnt work as well for alternative schools because their programs are not uniform. I believe that all the alternatives should be have all city draws and the district should be creative about how to provide transportation to these programs. Alts are known for being creative out of the box environments - I know we can come up with a solution.

Jet City mom said...

Good questionabout Sped. My guess is that they will try and add seats/programs to what ever school isn't filling up fast enough.

Central Mom said...

Southend Girl...They haven't created the Old Hay Montessori. They've proposed it. We have to pass the levy to create it.

The levy vote is the only leverage I can think of to force the current District administration to address the issue of Option schools...what they are, where they should go and how to provide wider, fairer access to them as AN INTEGRAL PART of the return to neighborhood schools.

To not be addressing this now is madness and in my book money down the drain as far as which schools are slated to be reopened. We don't know which schools need to be reopened until we see the additional option school placement roadmap and the subsequent projected enrollment shifts per middle school service area.

SPS parent said...

I saw this email this morning from a Garfield parent to CPPS. Anyone know anything about this??


"hello,

i have been out of the loop for a while and am not sure
who is currently at the helm.

there is a new .5 p.e. requirement quietly being developed
by the district that will have a huge impact on our high schools
and students' transcripts.

i am on a fact find mission about this movement. is this
action by the district currently on your radar?

so far, everyone is passing the responsibility buck, and the
wac codes they are quoting as the impetus do not, in my
opinion, mandate as such action.

any background information you can offer would be appreciated."

ARB said...

1. Special ed has consistently been given the remaining seats in the emptiest (least chosen) schools. This was supposed to stop with ICS-- is it still going on? Will it continue with the SAP?

2. I don't have a strong opinion either way on South Shore right now and am happy to listen to reasoned discussion on this, but it feels like people on this blog--which often feels dominated by people in the north end--are picking on one of the few south end schools that is working. And, remember, South Shore may be great, but it still will feed into RBHS for local students. I know there are some people who think that RB isn't that bad, but I am not in that camp
right now.

3. I think Montessori and similar "special" schools need to be all option or non-option.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Adhoc, I'm not sure if the person means an additional .5 to the already existing 2.0 credits needed to graduate. I haven't heard about this but I'm seeing the RHS principal tonight. I'll ask.

Central Mom said...

Just a clarification from my end Aurora...and another mom on another thread who felt South Shore was being singled out...

This issue has NOTHING to do with the great community of parents and kids at SS. Keep the program. Draw kids from the area surrounding the school. Fantastic! Just call it a standard program, forget about Rainier View, and invest that money in another great language, montessori or other alt program in the area.

The problem lies with the District's refusal to address standard definition of alt PROGRAMS. If they would do so, we could see kids from all through the district having a shot at accessing great programs. But we can't do that unless the district stops playing games with option school definitions. And they are showing no inclination to stop playing games.

Charlie Mas said...

There is simply no legitimate excuse for not designating the language immersion and Montessori programs as option programs.

The current rationale is the same tautology we got for South Shore:

It is an Option school because it does not have an attendance area. It does not have an attendance area because it is an Option school.

All you have to do is reverse it for JSIS:

It is an attendance area school because it has an attendance area. It has an attendance area because it is an attendance area school.

They are concerned that if the school isn't an attendance area school then some students won't have an attendance area school close to them.

That's a bullshit answer. They don't mind students in the JSIS area who aren't in the immersion program travelling to the next nearest school. It's not too far for them.

How close does the attendance area school have to be? They don't mind students living near T T Minor not having an attendance area school close to them. They don't mind students living near Van Asselt not having an attendance area school near them. They don't mind Spectrum students from Montlake being expected to travel to Muir for service. They didn't used to mind having students living near the border with Skyway travelling to Emerson for school.

How close do the neighborhood schools have to be and why isn't McDonald close enough? Or - better still - why not keep Latona as a neighborhood school and make McDonald the home of the language immersion program?

Charlie Mas said...

Ah! More program placement proposals to make:

Relocate the language immersion program now at JSIS to McDonald.

Make the Montessori program at Graham Hill an Option program with assignment separate from the assignment to the general education program there.

Make the Montessori program at Bagley an Option program with assignment separate from the assignment to the general education program there.

Make the language immersion program at Beacon Hill an Option program with assignment separate from the assignment to the general education program there.

Type 'em up and send them in, folks! Now is the time.

Then, in the coming months, we must absolutely DEMAND an open, honest, transparent, and data-driven program placement process.

Ha ha ha ha ha. It is the most dishonest, political, and dysfuctional process in the District. Not even the Board can get them to produce an honest report.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh! One more: make South Shore an attendance area school.

reader said...

Then, in the coming months, we must absolutely DEMAND an open, honest, transparent, and data-driven program placement process.



Oh really? And how? The program placement process is... we ignored your request, did what we wanted, and posted it on the website... oh, and we don't tell anyone about it either, we just stick it in an obscure spot on the website and hope nobody finds it.

TechyMom said...

Charlie,
Don't forget the Montessori program at Leschi. That should be an option program too.

Charlie Mas said...

Type them up and send them in.

When you do, request a copy of the administrative procedure. The policy requires the established procedure to be available to the public.

You absolutely have to do this or nothing else is going to work. You have to show that you did your part.

Then, after you send them in, write to the Board and tell them what you did and tell them that you will be watching and that you will be expecting an open, honest, transparent, compliant procedure.

Tell the Board that the administrative policy isn't publicly available as required by Policy.

Tell the Board that you know that the process has been corrupt and that it is their job to make sure that it is honest this year.

Tell the Board that you will be watching them to make sure they do their job of keeping it honest.

Make this the issue it should be.

Then, and this is critical, write to the legal department and request the minutes of the Program Placement Committee meetings from last year. They should be public documents.

Let the District know that you're watching and judging.