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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Board Meeting Tonight

A couple of updates before the Board meeting tonight.

One, is that there is a Board Work Session before the Board meeting on what the district will be doing with the MLK, Jr. Elementary building. There have been several bids from various groups (both public and private) that were discussed here in a separate thread. It will be interesting to see what the decision is.

Two, the speakers' list is full. The majority of comments will be about the SAP Transition Plan. I predict another long meeting given how much detail there is to the plan.

Three, the idea to rename Old Hay with Casper Sharples has been rejected. Apparently the family did not want the building named after their relative. From discussion at previous Board meetings, I believe the issue is largely that the Sharples name was originally attached to a middle school and the family is unhappy that now the district wants to use it for an elementary school. The new name that is being put forth by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is ...Queen Anne Elementary. Oddly, even though this is the first time to see this name, the Board will vote on the renaming tonight as an Action item. (Update: This is under Action items BUT the motion itself says Introduction with action in two weeks. So the final name will not be voted on tonight.)

Fourth, on the Consent Agenda, the item for approval of the Families and Education Levy contract for Family Support Workers for 2009-2010 has been struck off. Hmm, I hope that's just temporary.

26 comments:

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

Totally off topic, sorry.

The enrollment office just posted the school open house/tour schedule.

It is alarming that most schools ar only having one tour this year. One!

Only a few schools have two tours scheduled, and no schools have more than two.

Families best check the tour dates at the schools they are interested in and put them on your calendar. If you miss one you may not get a second chance.

seattle said...

Continued: RE school tours

What's worse is that some schools that only offer one tour, have tour dates that over lap with other schools. For instance NOVA and Ballard each only have one tour scheduled and they are on the same night, at the same time! And Franklin, South Lake and West Seattle each offer only one tour, yet they are all three on the same night and at the same time!

Here is a link for those interested

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/OpenHouseSchedule.pdf

seattle said...

Oops my link got cut off above. I'll try again

http://www.seattleschools.org
/area/eso/OpenHouseSchedule.pdf

TechyMom said...

Lowell has 4 tours and an open house scheduled (from Lowell Link)
January 28, 2010
February 2, 2010
February 4. 2010
February 9, 2010
from 9:45am to 11:15am.

Lowell will also hold an Evening Open House on February 11, 2010 from 6:30-8:00 pm for prospective parents.

Maureen said...

ann, That is the Open House Schedule. Tours are scheduled separately. Option schools won't have tours until March from what I hear. (After everyone gets a neighborhood school assignment letter).

TechyMom said...

Does anyone else find it ironic to name an option school after the neighborhood where it sits?

Anonymous said...

Before anyone panics, it's entirely possible to tour a school without going to an open house or official tour. Most tours that we have ever been on have NOT been pre-scheduled. In fact, I'd go so far as to say, it's BETTER to go on your own, since you're not getting a glossy bells and whistles tour showing you how great everything is.

Go on your own and you'll what the office staff is REALLY like, how the classrooms REALLY operate, and since you'll be speaking one-on-one with the principal/vice-principal/counselor/free teacher, you'll have the chance to ask more questions.

We stopped considering a highly-regarded alternative school when our daughter was entering K because of the way we saw 2 of the three K classes behaving-and it wasn't just a bad day. We also chose the school we did because of the receptive office staff and the encouraging words of the K teachers who interrupted their break time to talk privately with us.

Just a thought.

dan dempsey said...

"The new name that is being put forth by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is ...Queen Anne Elementary. Oddly, even though this is the first time to see this name, the Board will vote on the renaming tonight as an Action item. "

Must be an emergency if introduction and action are happening in one move.

Central Mom said...

Another hot topic tonight will be the tabling of the GeoZone tiebreakers for Option schools. A couple of folks testifying. A bunch of neighborhoods ticked off by the perceived sneaky way Staff tried to get rid of it. The usual "change it at the last minute and maybe no one will notice or protest."

Well...even assuming best intentions from Staff, the public DID notice and parents ARE calling them on it.

dan dempsey said...

Length of school day????

Speaking of sneaking one through ... is the following in that category?

On Board Agenda Introductory Item D3 (Transportation Service Standards), I am curious why section G of this amended motion has been significantly and substantially changed from the Section G in the original motion of June 3, 2009 yet the required strike-through notations and red lettering is not used to indicate these changes. How can the public engage in Board decisions when they are not informed?
Section G is now titled BUS ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE AND SCHOOL START/END TIME SCHEDULE. The original motion had the start/end times for High, Middle and Elementary schools included in section G, so why aren't they included this time? Instead, bus times have been swapped for bell times. Why? Where are the school Start/End times promised in the title?
Also, the June motion had an attachment showing the exact times specific to each school, so shouldn't it technically be attached this time as well? Why isn't it? Further, language has been added in this section asserting the supposed authority for the Supt. to set the length of school day, outside of Board oversight.
These aberrations, omissions and (secret) additions make one wonder whether there's a hidden agenda to lengthen the student day by moving the start times earlier. So when will parents know whether the start/end times of their school are being changed?

Central Mom said...

In the same way that the West Seattle blog sometimes covers the issues raised here, the Eastlake blog has started doing the same. So I thought I'd give a shout-out. It's eastlakeave.com. Ex-PI reporter blogs. I think he's attending tonight because Eastlake is impacted by the geozone delay. The usual issue here...

The funny thing is that the school and the neighborhood are getting along much better now. We've united under a commonality: Strong Dislike of the Current Superintendent's Approach. LOL.

Central Mom said...

One more thing from me...I can answer that question for TOPS and Salmon Bay. In the last workshop on the SAP, staff promised grandfathering of transportation to current students (good!) but...(small typeface here)...everyone has to start an hour earlier.

Remember how a year ago the board decided it wasn't safe to have little kids waiting around in the dark pre-7 a.m.?? Apparently safety concerns are out. $$ savings are in. And the presentation of the $$ savings from that workshop was one of the most convoluted, no-explanation pieces of financial data I've seen yet.

Unknown said...

To counter/clarify Central Mom, Tom Bishop (head of Transportation) came to Salmon Bay last night to give more info to the TOPS and Salmon Bay parents about the proposed change from Tier 2 to Tier 1 start time. The meeting was well-publicized in the Salmon Bay community, and, presumably in the TOPS community too.

As Mr. Bishop explained, the start times for both schools next year will be 8:20, and the absolute earliest elemntary bus pickup for either school will be 7:20, so this is not inconsistent with last year's comments or concerns.

In advance of the meeting with Mr. Bishop, the Salmon Bay parent group asked the parent groups at the other K-8s how the earlier start times were going for them this year. (All the other K-8s besides TOPS and Salmon Bay have the earlier start this year.) While there have been some minor adjustments, they all reported that it has been very positive overall. Indeed some K-8 have requested even earlier bus pickups in the mornings, to allow more time for district-provided breakfasts. Again, this is with a Tier 1 start.

As Mr. Bishop acknowledged, there is a possiblity that a middle school child at Salmon Bay might have an earlier than 7:20 pickup next year. But, as Mr. Bishop pointed out, lots of MS students currently get picked up earlier than 7:20, so again, there's nothing inconsistent with anything said or done last year or this.

Just thought a few more facts might be helpful, before people get worked up about an aspect of the proposed transition plan that's actually not an issue.

The District has a fiscally solid reason to make this change, it will save $1 million. I had been skeptical of that figure until hearing hte explanation last night. Now I believe it. This is a really bad year budget wise, and we are all going to have to mkae sacrafices. As a Salmon Bay parent, I'd prefer to make as many of those sacrafices outside the classroom. But, of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion about where those sacrafices should be made.

Central Mom said...

Rosie...Thanks for those facts. I'm usually a good fact-giver, but just feeling testy today, I guess. The mtg. wasn't quite as trumpeted at TOPS, but I'm sure some folks went and will report back.

If kids aren't standing outside pre-7 a.m., that's good.

Did he say how much it costs to make 1 bus run for either school? Or can you provide a breakout of how the $1 million savings is achieved? Neither of these came out w/ any clarity at the Dec. Transition Plan workshop. Thanks!

Maureen said...

CentralMom, Tom Bishop told us that every bus has a fixed cost of $52,000, whether it does one run or more, plus a lower amount (I wrote down "1/2 the rate") for time spent. So costs are really driven by the number of buses required.

Grandfathering everyone for five years will basically entail running two parrallel bus systems for quite a while. That would add a net of 23 buses given the current distribution of schools between Tier I (early) and Tier II (late start). Since most of the yellow buses service K-5s (Tier I MSs and HSs are largely Metro) that would require 247 buses for Tier II and only 178 for Tier I. (This year it's 224 vs. 194). That would make costs go UP by over $1,000,000.

Moving the TOPS and Salmon Bay buses (20 or so of them I think) to Tier I will make costs go DOWN by about $300,000 for a net savings of about $1.3 million.

....Saving MUCH more than word verifications's "acent"!

(Anyone else who was at the meeting--please correct any of my errors!)

Unknown said...

I think the "1/2 the rate" comment is that the District pays a flat fee for the first four hours for a bus, even if it only uses it for 2 of those hours. But any time needed after those first four hours is at a far lower rate, half the hourly rate of the first four hours. Right now, the SB and TOPS buses only service our schools, so the District pays for the four hours, morning and afternoon, yet uses them for less than that amount of time. By pushing us to Tier 1, they will be able to use them at SB and TOPS, and then also at another elementary school, allowing the financial efficiencies to kick in.

Or at least, that's my lay-person's, non financial interpretation of how Tom explained it.

Maureen said...

"SB and TOPS buses only service our schools"

Rosie, do you know this to be true? If it is, I'm wondering why our start times had to change at all for this (09-10) year, and why they are so often still late.

Unknown said...

No, I got it wrong. In fact my own daughter's bus comes from McClure now that my head is screwed on right.

The point he was making is that for next year, they would need X number more buses for Tier 2, and that those buses would only be used for one school, unless they made the proposed changes.

Sorry. Brain fried. And I didn't even go to the Board meeting.

Central Mom said...

So, three things on transportation...Rosie and Maureen, thanks for all the details!
1) If K-5 students aren't standing on the street alone in the dark, pre-7 a.m., then that's most important. And don't roll eyes. It does happen when parents are up against a wall w/ getting to a job.
2) If Tom B. improved his performance over his original Dec. workshop presentation, then mea culpa double and props to him. Few are the staffers I've seen who've made efforts to dramatically improve performance and outreach.
3) Given the budget, if your school cares about grandfathered transportation, which is paramount to TOPS, parents need to stay on it w/ the Board. I wouldn't be surprised to see an attempt to reduce the 5-year plan.

Josh Hayes said...

This is all good information, vis a vis transportation, but I'm still completely fuddled about where transportation for option schools will be provided in the coming year. When we had the nine zones (NW, NE, N, W, Central, E, SW, S, and SE) it was pretty straightforward, but now? Officially, my "assignment" option school is Salmon Bay, close to 4 miles away, while my kids now go to AS1, about 1.5 miles away. Are they not going to have transportation next year? Who knows?

This is a critically important question for many parents, and we don't have any answer to it. How can we expect parents to choose to send their kids to an option school unless they know whether or not bus transportation will be provided?

Megan Mc said...

Josh, I wrote to Tracy Libros about the transportation issue for Option schools. All students currently attending an option school will continue to receive transportation to their option school for up to 5 years but the transportation ends with that student. New students at an option school that live in the same neighborhood as a grandfathered student can use the transportation if there is room and only as long as the grandfathered student is enrolled.

My guess is that the option schools are going to have to be real savvy about pairing new families with existing families outside the NSAP service area.

Director Maier asked the transportation director last night to look at how the limited transportation in the NSAP would affect AS#1's enrollment numbers in particular. If you have ideas about this I suggest writing to Director Maier or attending his community meeting on Saturday. I wrote to him earlier suggesting an amendment that would put AS#1 in the Hamilton/Whitman service area instead of the Eckstein area to balance the availability of option seats.

Joan NE said...

Dan: secret agenda to lengthen school day? The District supports Core24. One HS credit represents 150 hrs of instruction. Thus CORE24means 24 one-year required core curriculum courses in high school(six per school year). Doesn't HS have six periods/day, at present? IF so, Core24 leaves no room for electives.

Based on the concerns I heard parents express at a Marketing presentation at Garfield HS on Dec 3 (the District called it Community Engagement), I expect that there is likely to be a lot of opposition to Core24, even if the school day is extended to seven periods.

Maybe the District anticipates this too. Going to 7-period day will help to reduce public opposition to Core24.

I read/heard somewhere that the District is thinking of having a 7 period day in the new STEM program and Cleveland. Can someone verify this?

BTW, it was announced at the Garfield mtg(in such a way as would be easy to miss) that the District intends there to be a standardized test for every core curriculum class. A Student will not be able to get credit unless they pass the standardized District assessment. The teacher-issued grade of C or better won't be enough now for a student to get credit for a course.

HIGH STAKES TESTING is coming. The BTA III LEvy has $36M that for projects to support CORE24 and high stakes testing.

Joan NE said...

On Transportation presentation at last night's Board meeting:

With a little deductive work, the information presented last night shows that whether the Board decides to keep the transition plan in force for 1 year or 5 years will have a teeny affect on the District's operating budget.

It amounts to about $4M difference in cumulative cost over the five years to choose the 5yr transition plan instead of the 1 yr transition plan.

The District's operating budget this year is just over half a billion dollars.

Saving $4M over 5 years (avg of $800,0000 per year) is very weak justification for choosing a 1 yr duration for the transition plan, instead of 5 years, or more.

Here are some facts. It may help to know these facts to put information you get from District people into context.

1.The annual transportaion budget is about $30 M. This is about 6% of the district's $550M operating budget.

2. The NSAP will save between $1.8M to $2.6M/yr over the next 5 yrs (avg). This is about 8% of the transportation budget and about 0.5% of the operating budget.

3. The District uses roughly 500 buses each day. The NSAP will result in SPS requiring about 50 fewer buses (that's what DeBell said last night), which means about 10% reduction in #buses used.

dan dempsey said...

Dear JoanNE,

Listen to the Wed. meeting online.
Looks like an 8 period day at Cleveland STEM.

MGJ, in the context of the STEM discussion, told the board that the SE initiative was having positive results and pointed to Aki and Cleveland.

WOW!!!! not in math.

Here is my letter to the directors with data.

At Aki in 2009 on the math WASL
here are percentages of Black students unable to score above level 1:
Grade 6 = 70%
Grade 7 = 77%

At Cleveland Black students
Grade 10 = 75%

She did not mention Rainier Beach
Black students
Grade 10 = 64.5%

Where are those positive results?
MGJ needs data not platitudes.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. MGJ seems not to know what the data says much less be able to apply it.

Is the board still buying this load of baloney about the SE Initiative?

Joan NE said...

Dan - thanks.

Do you think the District is ignorant of what their own data says? Or do you think they purposefully misrepresent it? Personally I never feel that incompetence is a good explanation. These people are very smart.

Why might the District be planning for the extended day (8 periods) at Cleveland to be a temporary measure? Could it have something to do with Core24?