Thursday, December 31, 2009

Transition Plan To Be Presented to Board

Here is the Transition Plan that is to be presented to the Board next Wednesday. Reading through it quickly, I don't see any major changes. Transportation is Appendix A, right at the end.

I certainly feel for all parents. It is a lot to absorb and considering some of it may change in a year or so, even more work is in store.

There are also a few other items of interest on the Agenda.

1) Dr. Enfield's report is on curriculum alignment and STEM. Should be interesting.
2) interestingly (and maybe I just never noticed before) but they have the minutes of work sessions and the retreat on the Consent Agenda. Are there actual minutes of these meetings or just agendas?
3) Interesting capital items. One is for McClure to get some energy efficiency work done under a Washington State Department of Commerce grant. From the agenda item:

"McClure Middle School was awarded a grant during the last legislative session under
sponsorship of state Rep. Reuven Carlyle. The grant is intended for capital improvements that
will improve energy efficiency at McClure Middle School and will be performed under an
Energy Savings Contracting Demonstration Project."

Big thanks to Rep. Carlyle for helping with this effort!

Two, is for Old Hay updates. The problem is it comes under BTA II, not BTA III (where there is currently money set aside for it). Ditto money for Rainier View Elementary. Here's where, as usual, things get confusing. BTA II didn't have money to reopen these buildings. So if they are taking money from BTA II for two of the reopening buildings, why is there money in BTA III for the same thing? And what was the original use of the BTA II money going to Rainier View and Old Hay?

(This is why I harp on the BTA and BEX money. It flows from here to there and back and there is almost no way to say where the money really goes. Someone in the district likely knows but you try finding out.)

Three is work on Salmon Bay and Loyal Heights. I have no problem with the work but frankly, Salmon Bay should be on BEX IV for a rebuild. It is a very old building (1931). From the Meng report:

"The building was partially up-dated in 1970, but has had very little work done to it since then other than new copper water piping and partial replacement of the old wood windows.
Virtually every system and finish in this building is 40 to 80 years old and basically worn out."

(Just an aside. One troubling thing to note about many of the older buildings is that they all have fire alarms but most don't have fire sprinklers or emergency lighting.)

Four, good job district. They saved money on the South Shore work and are using the savings to pay for a new roof for Bailey Gatzert. I wish we could see this happen more often and I wish they would not overdesign buildings so there would be even more savings to pass on for other projects.

Thanks to our readers for this alert on the posting of the Agenda.


Anonymous said...

From the transition plan, "Students new to the district at any grade will start with an assignment to their attendance area school. New students eligible to enroll during Open Enrollment may also apply for any school during Open Enrollment." So, am I reading this right? If you're coming from another district or a private school (therefore new to the district) you are guaranteed a spot at your attendance area school even if you are not in an entry grade. That's different from what I understood before!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Catherine, I'll have to check on this. I believe that it was the case, as I reported previously, that newcomers are getting a gift in their attendance area assignment. However, after September 30th, they can only have their attendance area assignment and cannot choose an Option school even if there is space.

It is unclear to me, however, how the district can say there will be definitely be space after September 30th for any newcomers at their attendance area school given how full some schools are already at this point.

reader said...

Well now here is something very interesting. For all who are following the difficulties of students with disabilities especially autism being thrown onto the caseloads of already busy resource room teachers who don't know very much about these disabilities in the first place, it almost seems like the district is now beginning to make a distinction between resource room and ICS. Here's what the transition doc states:

"For 2010-11, students entering grades K, 6, or 9, and students new to the district who need ELL or special education resource or integrated comprehensive services (ICS) will be assigned to their attendance area (or linked) school."

Interpretations, anyone?

reader said...

Hmmm... a different reader...

The way I read that is that students with disabilities get dumped at their local school, without any other choices. Otherwise, why make the distinction between students with disabilities, (ELL, ICS, resource room) and all the rest, at all in the manual? Will they get any options at "options" schools? Seeems like... no. Will there be ICS at TOPs? Salmon Bay? Orca?However, it could just mean that the special ed department, wrote that piece blindly... without any consideration to what was already in the student assignment document.

reader said...

Hi, other reader

But the document seems to be saying the special ed resource room is different from special ed integrated comp. service delivery. That's a development, isn't it? So far all the ICS kids have been thrown onto totally unprepared resource rooms where the caseloads far exceed what the audit requires for ICS (10:1 not 22:1!). In our school the resource room teacher can't really tolerate what comes with the autism territory. Gets away with it.

casey said...

Does anyone know if the district has scheduled a parent meeting for students with special needs who will be transitioning into k,6,9 under the new SAP? What is the difference between "resource room student" and an "ICS student?" What if this "label" changes after assignment? Will kids have to change schools to have their learning needs met? Has the district said anything about changing the caseload of special education resource/ics teachers? Seems like current classroom teachers have not been given enough specific information to answer these questions.

spedvocate said...

Ics means special education service (or lack thereof) out of a resource room from the resource room teacher. As far as anyone can tell... ics means there might be an aide in the building. But then again, might not. It all depends on how many other kids are in the building. As far as anyone can tell... ics is only for K and 1, thank goodness. Last year they said ics was for middle school, but then when the dust settled, they ended up putting in inclusion programs instead at Madison, and that was a good thing.

I'm not sure what you mean Casey, by "label change". Do you mean the label of the program change.... or the label change of the kid? The label shouldn't matter... of either. Presumably if the student can't handle ics, (or if the school won't do what the kid needs) they'll have to move to a self-contained program which is likely to not be in the building in elementary school. Middle and High's should have a self-contained program ready and waiting for everyone.... in ample supply with open arms.

reader said...

Well spedadvocate I guess that is just what everybody predicted last year when news of ICS first started going around: schools WON'T provide the services claiming all sorts of just oh so sincere reasons in the child's best interests blah blah et voila those children who could have made it in inclusion programs go straight into self contained classrooms.

One way or another all the riser families who were assured last year that they didn't have to put down "inclusion program" for their autistic children are now feeling mighty ripped off with ICS.

casey said...

Spedvocate, I guess I was just being sarcastic about the "label" word. Thought we were moving away from labels for kids, but looks like we are just changing the names (resource kid, ics kid). I was hoping that we are working towards meaningful INCLUSION of all learners at a school maybe even at their neighborhood school,and it shouldn't matter what kind of services kids needed to learn.

I don't understand how the new SAP applies to kids with special needs - will incoming K students be assigned to their neighborhood school like everyone else? What is a "linked" school? Have these schools been identified yet? How will parents know if their students has been assigned to their neighborhood school or a "linked" school???? Who decides?

Sorry for all the questions. Does anyone know if this information is in writing anywhere?

spedvocate said...

Actually, I think it means a lot more self-contained... and a lot less inclusion, no matter what label they put on the program or kid.

StepJ said...

What a gloomy thing to read on New Years Day.

There is reason to feel for families.

If you have more than one child and all of them are not already enrolled you face endless years of sleepless nights and uncertainty if you make the choice to live in Seattle and have your children attend public school.

I acknowledge the goals and tremendous manual effort Dr. Libros has agreed to, to try and enable Sibling Grandfathering. Yet, there are zero rules and zero guarantees for sibling grandfathering. Even promises from Dr. Libros are not the same as a rule or guarantee. Parents are left to wonder for years if they will have to make the choice of moving their older children to the school of the younger, or to have children at multiple schools. Neither of these unstable or uncertain options are a win for students.

With this transition plan and the zero intent to grandfather younger siblings into the school of the older you also have the precedent to keep parents perpetually on edge. Even once the “Transition Period” has passed, well intentioned parents that have their older children attend their attendance area school in an attempt at stability, may face a boundary change at any time. And with that the choice of moving older children to the yet again new Attendance Area school, or young children at separate schools. Families get to wait on pins and needles until their elementary age children move on to middle school or higher. With the zero promise now to have a younger child attend the same elementary school as the older, no matter what the circumstances – why would any parent believe it would be different for them in the future?

There is a provision to keep all of your elementary aged children together, but it involves moving your already enrolled children to your new attendance area school. Even this provision can go dramatically wrong for a family if they do not follow the rules exactly. Otherwise, you risk having your children NOT assigned to the school of the already enrolled children, and NOT to your new attendance area school.

You may only list on your Open Enrollment application for your entering grade child the school of your already enrolled children. If you list even one more school - even an Option School – you risk the equivalent of a family mandatory assignment.

Overall, it is a gloomy prospect for the New Year. No change in policy to put students and their well being first. No change to treat families as valued customers of District services. No change to view parents as anything other than piggy banks or topics for disparagement (insert MGJ eye roll here.)

Siblings Parent said...

Dear School Board Directors,

If an available non-entry grade seat opens up in an attendance area elementary school, why should it be assigned to a grandfathered attendance area student with no younger siblings, instead of to a grandfathered attendance area older sibling who will later be joined by a younger sibling, so that those siblings can attend their neighborhood school together? Why should that available seat not be given to the older sibling immediately, instead of needlessly and disruptively forcing a child to transfer into their attendance area school at some higher grade in order to join their younger siblings? In short, why does the Draft Transition Plan elementary schools available seats tiebreaker #2 (on Page 19) not include three (3) extra words so as to read: “Lives in attendance area & grandfathered at another school & has younger sibling(s)”?

It has been pointed out to newassign@seattleschools.org that grandfathered attendance area children with younger siblings are situated very differently from grandfathered attendance area children without younger siblings, and should therefore receive priority for available seats. The final Transition Plan elementary school tiebreakers should honor the School District’s announced commitment to the complementary principles of sibling unity and school stability.

School Board Directors, please add this simple, vital 3-word amendment to the Draft Transition Plan when it is formally introduced at the Board Meeting on Wednesday, January 6.

Requested by parents of a 5-year-old older sibling unsuccessfully waitlisted at 1st preference neighborhood reference/attendance area school, Attendance Area Elementary School A, who is now a grandfathered Kindergartner at Grandfathered Elementary School B; and also of a 3-year-old younger sibling, who will have a guaranteed seat in Attendance Area Elementary School A upon reaching school age in 2011 or 2012

SP said...

I agree with your concern and also wonder why non-entry level students "new" to the district (which apparently also includes students who have chosen private school in previous years) would have priority over attendance area non-entry level kids who are already attending and supporting public schools? Doesn't that place more value on ex-private school students, giving them the green light to get into previously difficult & popular school like Roosevelt?

Playing the devil's advocate & along the same lines, to Siblings Parent-
Why should a sibling child get preference over a non-sibling child if they are both living in the attendance area (but currently assigned at another school)? What makes one child have more "value" and priority over another? Shouldn't they equally be given a chance to attend their neighborhood school? Some of these kids may have younger siblings who will qualify soon for their attendance area schools & some have older siblings in another school. How would you explain to these kids that they didn't have an equal chance to walk to & attend their neighborhood school?

Personally, I do not think sibling priority should be used for middle or high school. It may be hard for elementary parents to understand, but by that age kids are wanting to set their own path. Parent's concept of both kids attending the same school many times isn't on the younger student's priority list of what's best for them as individuals.

spedvocate said...

I don't understand how the new SAP applies to kids with special needs - will incoming K students be assigned to their neighborhood school like everyone else? What is a "linked" school? Have these schools been identified yet? How will parents know if their students has been assigned to their neighborhood school or a "linked" school???? Who decides?

Who decides? The people in central office always, always, always decide school assignment... no matter what they tell you. I'm sure they will try to assign you to your neighborhood school... unless it is a popular one that everyone else wants... such as J. Stanford. You're not going there. A linked school is simply the next nearby school that has the program your kid needs, if your school doesn't have it. Sped students have their own, non-published reference areas... subject to change at any whim and without notification or documentation.

Sue said...

Seattle Parent-

Many private school families have other children at public school already. Many don't but some do. Don't tar all private school parents and kids with the same brush please. These parents have frequently given given time and energy to public school, for years. Sometimes public school, especially Seattle's horrible middle schools, didn't work out, and the child goes private for two or three or more years. Then they they want to come back to the system. Are you saying that they don't have the right to attend their attendance area school?

I understand the concern about the seat availability ,especially at crowded schools. I have asked at meetings, if the district is even counting the number of private school students who will be coming back to the public schools. They said No. They apparently feel, based on past history that it is going to be a negligible number. they may be wrong, they may be right. We will find out in the fall, I guess.

Suggesting, if that is what you are doing, that only children who have attended public school all along have somehow earned "jumping the line" rights to the school is disturbing. It was disturbing when the board (I think it was Dick Lilly) tried to make it a tiebreaker a decade or so back, and it is disturbing now. People's circumstances change, and, I may respectfully remind you, we ALL pay taxes to support the schools.

The point of the assignment plan is to give all students in an attendance area access to their attendance are school. Sorry if people don't like it, but it is what we are all dealing with now.

Phernie said...

As usual, you have captured my sentiments exactly, StepJ.

"You may only list on your Open Enrollment application for your entering grade child the school of your already enrolled children."

Exactly. There is no provision to "keep sibs together" (unless they are multiples), so families have to risk losing their older child(ren)'s assignment and splitting up their kids if they participate in open enrollment with their older child(ren). The only time to attempt to move children to a school other than the new attendance area school is after open enrollment. Good luck with that.

It may be possible to gamble a bit with your entry level child's assignment, by shooting for other attendance and option schools, but getting big sister or brother to that school would be the bigger issue, and could only be explored after open enrollment. To be accepted into another school during open enrollment would mean older siblings permanently relinquish their seat at the school to which they've been grandfathered, and yet there is no provision to link older and younger siblings' applications.

casey said...

I fear that you are correct, Spedvocate about decisions being made centrally without a transparent process if your student doesn't "fit" into what services are available at a school - and we know what schools those are.....The donut hole is the repeated phrase “as long as the services needed are available at that school.” Is there a list of which services are available at which schools? How the assignment of kids with special learning needs is handled affects general education capacity at all schools, doesn't it?

Unknown said...

Looking on the bright side, the District did commit to keeping siblings together (at some school) and to grandfathering transportation for students out of their assignment areas.

Yes, it would be nice to have the younger sibling go to the older sibling's school. This is better than the alternative of having siblings separated.


SP said...

Keepin' On-
I think you misunderstood my point. I think that ALL students deserve an equal chance at their assignment area school, if they live within their assignment area. Why should non-entry level ex-private school kids "new to the district" (as per the new district rules) be given priority over any other non-entry level kid, also living in the same assignment area, who also wants to go to their neighborhood school? Also, why should only kids with younger siblings living in the new assignment area but grandfathered in at another school (as suggested by Siblings Parent) all have first priority over any other kid living in the same assignment area?

That's my point- ALL kids should have equal chance at getting into their neighborhood school, if they all live in that same attendance are currently.

spedvocate said...

The fact is... it isn't the "services" that are available anywhere... it's only programs and the staff. They used to publish where all that was, I think they deleted it. You can always call a school and find out which programs they have at any given school. You can also call the school and find out how many seats are available in those programs and how many there will be next year. If you ask any of the central staff... it is an absolute secret, they will not disclose their big secret... because they wish to assign people to available seats without anybody else knowing what's available. Which is, of course, stupid... because you can always find out by asking around.

reader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

What does Marnie Campbell, the head of Special Ed, say to parents who have contacted her?

reader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ARB said...

does this mean that sped students are shut out of all option schools?

spedvocate said...

Shut out? You can write an option school choice down on your SAP paperwork. But no... they don't/won't really use that for assignment... other than as a weak guide indicating parental preference. What type of program do you want? And at which school? Most alternative schools have nothing... or only have very, very highly restricted self-contained classrooms.... so that the kids basically have nothing to do with the rest of the school. They like "alternative"... so long as it isn't too alternative.

seattle said...

spedvocate , here is a list of our alternative schools. Can you describe the "highly restricted" special ed classrooms at "most" of these schools? It's not good practice to make blanket statements such as you did about alternative schools, without providing facts and data to back it up.

Here are the schools

Salmon Bay
Thornton Creek


seattle said...

Spedvocate, also, you should be clear about whether you mean "alt" or "option" schools. The list of schools that I provided above have historically been considered "alt" schools, but now, under the NSAP, they are considered "option" schools. There are many more "option" schools besides the alts that I listed above (Center school, New School, Jane Adams, and more). Were you refering to all "option" schools in your statement above?

spedvocate said...

Ok. (by option school, I specifically meant the elementary portion that Aurora was asking about... not middle or high school btw.) I'm not really sure of the difference between an "alt" and an "option"... there may be a difference, but it's sort of splitting hairs for the purposes of this discussion. Here's what they used to list... and I'm not sure they still list these anywhere:

(just elementaries here)
AS1 - no programs

Salmon Bay - no programs

Thornton Creek - highly restricted autism self-contained - for severely disabled

TOPs - highly specialize deaf (restricted in that it only serves that one limited group)

Pathfinder - restrictive self-austim contained program; may have an autism inclusion program now, inherited from Cooper.

ORCA - restricted new emotional/behavioral program... self-contained no doubt as they all are.

Addams - restricted autism self-contained. I believe they claim they doing "ICS", which is just resource room.

So... in that list, I only see that Pathfinder has any sort of inclusive programning. and that is, only if the Cooper students didn't end up getting placed somewhere else in the move. All the rest are highly restricted, self-contained programs... narrowly tailored for a very few students.

Maybe that one thing at Pathfinder is what Aurora wanted. ? Will they allow her to select it? They are now just placing the kids into schools without any programs (self-contained ok)... so it may not even matter if there's a program, it's simply up to central office. Will they honor her choice for the first time in history? Or maybe Aurora wanted one of those highly restricted things, in that case she MAYBE could select one and only one option/alternative.

spedvocate said...

Oh yeah, a few more:

J. Stanford - no programs

Beacon Hill - no programs (I think)

spedvocate said...

And oops I meant:

New School - new EBD program, restricted and self-contained

Orca - no programs (I think)

Blaine - no programs (I think)

... see what I mean by a lot of "no programs"

ARB said...

Personally, I would be most interested in access of IEP students to South end option schools (not distinguishing btwn alt v. option). ORCA? South Shore (fmrly New School)? Allegedly, Sped students have a right to know what their general ed placement would be... Maybe I am misreading the new plan, but under the new SAP are they allowed to try for option schools or are they automatically placed in the assignment school?

Charlie Mas said...

In the absence of programs, shouldn't we assume that students with IEPs are served in a general education classroom? Isn't that the new policy?

spedvocate said...

The absence of programs isn't really what you think... it's really the presence of the "un-program"... only for new people who don't know about the programs everyone else already has. And, the un-program program is only available at schools picked by central staff. (read the donut hole: blah blah blah, we'll assign you like everyone else IF SERVICE is available. Well duh, service is just staff, and they assign that staff... so that really means: we'll put you anywhere we please and deem "right for you".) And, you've got to qualify those too. Which makes the un-program suspiciously like programs. So, a rose by any other name is still a rose... except this rose has no petals, dirt, or... oh yeah, no staffing. But you can always sign up for self-contained... perhaps that was the point. So all those restricted programs, and all the new ones, those are available but not anywhere, as Aurora asks.

spedvocate said...

Allegedly, Sped students have a right to know what their general ed placement would be.

They do? Even if that were true, there is no way to prove what your placement would have been if you were somebody else. People have gone around and around on that, for years, decades. Almost every year they say you'll be assigned like everyone else. Or better, you were assigned like everyone else, really, believe us. Every year it turns out not to be true. Provably. Nobody else has a "linked service area" do they? That really amounts to a an internal reference area which is secret, unpublished and ever in flux. To give them credit, they do try to consider people's wishes. And, it isn't all bad. Your choice is just simply much, much less, and your assignment not transparently determined.

seattle said...


Blaine, Beacon Hill, and JSIS are unique schools but they are not alt or option schools. They are neighborhood schools. New School is not an option school either (though they will become one next year). So you shouldn't include them in your assault on Alt/Option schools.

You say that Salmon Bay has no special ed program, however, per their 2009 annual report they serve 95 special ed students? How are they serving them?

You say As1 has no program, however, per their annual report they are serving 25 special ed students. How are they doing that?

You say Orca has no program, however, per their annual report they are serving 37 special ed students. How are they doing that?

Thornton Creek and Pathfinder do have self contained Autism programs, but they also have many other special ed students integrated throughout the school in all classrooms. Same for Tops. They have a hard of hearing self contained program, but many other special ed students in all classrooms throughout the school.

I think you are being to harsh on Alt/Option schools. How do they differ from regular, neighborhood, assignment schools?

Maureen said...

spedvocate, I'm not fluent in all of the different categories of special education so I'm finding it difficult to interpret your posts. It seems to me that you are saying that the alt schools don't serve some category of students. Many of them house specific programs (like the Deaf/HH programs at TOPS), but those don't seem to count. I expect that many (all?)of them have Resource Rooms for kids with IEPs (as TOPS does), but those don't seem to count. So I assume that most of the non alt schools offer services to kids in some other way that does count? Can you describe what it is that you would like to see offered at the alt schools?

(Just to clarify my point of reference, TOPS does has a 'self contained' program for middle schoolers, with a teacher and an IA, that has kids who attend gen ed classes on a subject by subject basis. Is this what you would like to see offered at the alts, but for K-5 as well as 6-8? Or are you saying that alts should serve all kids in the classroom full time with individual IAs as necessary (that is happening at TOPS now as part of the inclusion movement.), did non-alts offer this earlier?)

I want to be clear that I am not being snarky about this, I just always feel like I'm missing some part of the jargon when posters start talking about special ed services and I want to understand.

spedvocate said...

Ann, I'm talking about the 50% of sped students who are more than level 2. I'm assuming that Aurora fits that bill or she wouldn't have been asking about assignment. There's no assault on any school. I'm just saying... Aurora can choose those alt/option schools, (and that has always been true) but it is highly unlikely to really be available to her...regardless of what she writes down on the form, and it will be decided by central staff, nothing else (that too, has always been true). So looking at past performance, the alt/option choice MAY not be really available especially since those schools have no staffing (and have chosen that) for students with more needs... unless it is to be dumped into the self-contained classroom around the corner, which is really more like an appendage to the school.

Yes there are other students integrated in all those schools, but they have very limited extra special needs. And they try very had to keep it to the: specific learning disability category. Salmon Bay does have a lot of students with special needs, and a lot of services... but only in the middle school. Again, not this discussion.

spedvocate said...

Maureen, exactly... when you say a school "houses" a program, you really make the point. The program just happens to be in the building because... it has to be in some building. The self-contained things, can be anywhere and they are shuffled from here to there every year. Aren't all the deaf kids at TOPs shuffled off to Eckstein in 6th grade? That sorta implies that they never were true members at TOPs general program. SAP is different for them. None of the autistic kids at TC matriculate with the whole school to Salmon Bay (some new, other autistic kids get sent to Salmon Bay). Doesn't that say that those autistic kids weren't really true members at TC, with all the priviledges (and school assignment rights) afforded others? Whatever "alternativeness" and/or "cohort" that was important to maintain for the other kids graduating to Salmon Bay, was not important, or available for the autistic kids.

There aren't any alternative inclusion programs in elementary schools. I guess that's the point. So even if Aurora does get one of her alternative choices, there won't be any staff at the school (other than the minimal amount available in the resource room which is designed and staffed for SLD only).

Marlon said...

i think should be an alternative for this

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