Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sherry Carr Meeting and Transition Plan

I attended Sherry Carr's Community meeting this morning where the topic was largely the Transition Plan and its implementation. Apparently there is a new draft of the plan and, as has been reported elsewhere, it seems some changes are afoot. (There were other parents at this meeting and so if you were there, help me out.)

Topics at her meeting:
  • She did a quick update on the issue of taking BMI measurements in PE classes. She said that she had pushed back on this because of the sensitive issues about it and that Dr. Enfield agreed to think about making it opt-in (rather than opt-out). Apparently this will be discussed at the next Board Curriculum and Instruction meeting.
  • The overwhelming point by most parents was that they had been promised that all would be clear once the Transition Plan came out and that is not true. Sherry concurred and said that she thought the Board would see more data at the last Board meeting and that didn't happen. (Just as an FYI, after each Board meeting, the President and VP of the Board meet with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson to debrief and that is where this issue got discussed.)
  • Tracy is compiling some new data to try to narrow down where the problems might surface. There is a draft document (which I can't seem to find at the website, help!) that Sherry had that showed a chart. The columns across the top had data sources labeled, "Parent survey", "classroom analysis", "district data", "early registration" and "2009-2010 data" . The columns on the left were labeled with school names. What she is trying to do is to use the data to group schools into Group 1 (confident sibs will get in), Group 2 (uncertain) and Group 3 (significant capacity challenges). I barely got a glance at these groups but Group 3 was not the usual suspects like Bryant and View Ridge. So we need to wait for Tracy to finish this document and there may be a better idea of the hot spots.
  • Sherry was asked about making an amendment for grandfathering siblings. She said she an "amendment is a huge deal" and that she would need a lot of solid data to compel her to do so. She feels it might be too much of a gamble to find out they can't handle it on the first day of school.
  • There was much discussion over the issue of leaving space for students new to the district. I can see this very much as a sore point because it's one thing to say that in order for the new SAP to work, then they can't guarantee grandfathering siblings. It's another thing to hold a few seats and someone moves in the district on Oct. 1 and gets that seat (if they live in the attendance area). This is so different from what used to happen. I wish they had gone for a middle ground and said that new students could have a seat at a school with space in their middle school service area. So you aren't trucking them off far away but you aren't denying a K who is already here a seat with their sibling. That's how I see it.
  • Along with the above issue, was the question of capacity. Okay, so you set aside a few seats for people who move to the district. But at what point is full "full"? If you have reached 32 kids in a 4th grade class, how much bigger could you take it before you'd have to say to an newcomer "sorry" and find a less full school?
  • There was also discussion around the issue of uncertainty. The Transition Plan has an awful lot of September 30th dates which leaves some parents twisting in the wind all summer. My suggestion was to call people after they get their assignment letter (like starting in May after they have had time to digest their assignment) and ask them if they are accepting their assignments. (This could start in April for those K,6, 9 students who get an automatic assignment to their attendance area school with the option of changing it during Open Enrollment.) The point is for the district to find out as soon as possible who is taking what assignment. They may not reach everyone but they will at least get some response and be able to gauge earlier how this is all shaking out.
  • I need help here from other attendees but what I thought I understood, on the subject of how to decide which non-attendance K-sibs get in, was a lottery. Meaning, if you have 15 non-attendance K sibs on a waiting list and you end up with 10 slots that can be filled, each of those 15 will get a lottery number and that would decide it. (That's if there is any space left after attendance area sibs.)
  • Two attendees spoke very passionately about the ICS model (Integrated Comprehensive Service) and Special Ed. The first mom was worried that schools wouldn't have the same kinds of ICS and that her student, who is thriving at Bagley, might have to leave in order to get the services she needs. The other mom felt that services were not adequately given (she mentioned Montlake and McGilvra) and that some parents were starting to call lawyers. She also felt that Marni Campbell, the head of Special Ed, was not being truthful in how services really are being delivered (she called it "Marni's blarney"). Sherry said the last report Marni gave the Board was a couple of months ago. Sherry recommended that the parents file a "story" with bullet points to the Superintendent (they have already met with Dr. Enfield) and cc the Board.
  • There is also the issue of Hamilton not having the same Special Ed services available as other middle school service areas. This is definitely on Sherry's radar. Sherry also mentioned a possible amendment about special ed services but I didn't hear any specific wording on that.
  • Issues at JSIS were also in the discussion. Parents are concerned about not being able to get into Hamilton as their feeder if they have moved out of the area. (I was confused here because I thought you got a feeder school "in" if you had gone to JSIS.) Sherry said the Transition Plan was silent on this issue but that she was considering a one-year amendment for the current JSIS 5th graders for a feed to Hamilton. She said one-year so that they can see how it shakes out for enrollment at Hamilton. She said that Tracy was discouraging her on this amendment because of the wants of parents in other parts of the city for similiar draws. That school is also a bit of a wild card as it will now have APP, Spectrum, and be an international school plus be in a brand-new building (which can be a draw for some parents). Hard to know how many kids will want in.
  • There was a question about the issue of new kids to the district versus established families? Sherry's answer was that they had looked at other districts and it seemed that going forward with whatever the new plan was needed to be the first priority.
  • Then, there was this finding that the grandfathering of transportation had dropped from 5 years to 2 years. Uh oh. This is not good news for some schools. There was also a little discussion on the issue of transportation savings which needs to be carefully tracked. When I was on Closure and Consolidation, I saw the transportation costs and, for all-city draws, they were huge. I think that like the overall SAP, the transportation is going to need a couple of years through the plan to know what money is really being saved. It may look small right now but I have to believe if you are transporting fewer kids throughout the city, we will see some savings. Money is money, folks.
(And, at the risk of getting flamed, I will gently point out something I heard at the last Board meeting. There were comments by several parents at JSIS about native speakers not being able to continue on at the school because they didn't live near JSIS. They continued on to say that it really helps - both ways - because native speakers learn from English speakers and vice versa. This is all great BUT we - have - no- money. Seriously. We have these established schools and good teachers and yes, it would be an added help/benefit to have students who are native speakers. But we're not in a time and place to afford to do this. The schools are not going to fail to thrive on this one point. They just won't have this added benefit.


Unknown said...

"... some parents were starting to call lawyers." That has been a pretty idol threat the last couple of years because SPS had a very sharp in-house attorney who handled special ed cases. If the rumors are true and she really is leaving, it may be a whole new game.

StepJ said...

How the tiebreakers would work for out of area K-sibs...

If there were 10 open K spaces available, but there were 15 out of area K sibs. - they all share the first tie-breaker (sibling) so the processing would move to the next tie-breaker (which would not apply to them) which would move onto the third tie-breaker which is Lottery.

Each applicant is assigned a lottery number for each school they apply to. In this instance, the K-sibs. with the ten lowest assigned lottery numbers would get in. The other five would be ordered on the wait list according to their lottery number. Lowest number first and on down the line.

The in-area K sibs. have a guaranteed placement so they would not be participating in the tie-breaker portion of assignment. They are already in.

Changing topics to the release of the sibling data...someone I know was at Sundquist's meeting today. Steve said that the sibling data would likely be posted early in the week - Monday or Tuesday. So you may not be able to find it Melissa because it is not out there yet.

zb said...

"The schools are not going to fail to thrive on this one point. They just won't have this added benefit. "

I think you're wrong on this -- my observation in immersion bilingual classrooms suggests to me that the presence of native speaking students makes or breaks the effectiveness of the class. I don't know what the critical number is -- I'm guessing that it's two, that at least two students must be comfortable conversing in the language being taught in order for the immersion to "work." It could be that the 2 will be available at JSIS without any special tracking for native speakers, but if its not I can see immersion failing for everyone.

I know right now that the main people making this argument are native speakers who are worried about loosing access to a school they like, but I see it as turning into a potential problem for these immersion programs. Of course, talking to the teachers and looking at the data on how many native speakers there are in the ones currently perceived as working would be a good way of finding out if this worry is reasonable. I think there should be a language diversity tie-breaker for those schools for the good of all concerned (i.e. native speakers get priority until some proportional threshold is reached).

Unknown said...

I am highly interested in seeing this chart that Sherry has that is supposed to group the schools into categories of where there will and will not be capacity issues for incoming kindergarten students who have an older sibling at an non-attendance area school. Do you happen to remember where any of the N or NE schools were in the groupings? Really any info would be helpful.

I looked on the school district's website and could not find a chart. I did find this Transition Plan Recommended Changes information, though.


Charlie Mas said...

How can there be so much variance among schools about whether or not they will have room for Kindergarten siblings? Weren't all of the attendance areas right-sized? Consequently, won't they all be about as tight as every other school? Or does the difference come from how many out-of-area students are currently enrolled?

So all of the schools have about the same number of spare seats, but the District expects a greater demand for them at schools with a lot of out-of-area students.

Sue said...

I think to ask five years of transportation grandfathering is too much. We spend so much money on transportation that could be going into other areas, it just needs to be cut back at some point. One year. This gives parents plenty of time to figure things out. Any other district, in any part of the country, certainly does not offer a FIVE year transition plan. They are lucky if they get one.

My position has always been - "Want a school that is not your neighborhood school? Fine, but find your own way there."

Chris S. said...

I agree, Melissa, that the international school/heritage speaker issue in isolation doesn't seem to be "worth the cost." However, in the wider context, I see it as yet another example of the district stressing or squashing some of our most effective and popular programs. It seems lowering the ceiling in just as important in the SAP as rising the tide, doesn't it? What would have happened if they decided to spend the SAP sum on replicating successful programs?

Chris S. said...

Rhetorical questions, of course.

Chris S. said...

And keepin-on, I agree. Another alternative to the whole SAP that was never discussed in public: Parents pay for transportation. Those who can afford it can pay and those who can't can be subsidized. Just like Lunch. I really am curious why this was never an option. So this is not a rhetorical question...does anyone have an answer?

seattle said...

Like keepin'on I was always of the belief that if you want a school other than your neighborhood school, fine, but then you provide your own transportation, or pay the district for transportation.

dan dempsey said...

Ann said:

"Like keepin'on I was always of the belief that if you want a school other than your neighborhood school, fine, but then you provide your own transportation, or pay the district for transportation."

1.) .. The district has not demonstrated that "Every School can be a quality school".

2.) .. Those who can afford paid tutoring or private school can avoid or lessen the effects of being assigned to an academically poor, separate and unequal school.

3.) .. Keepin on's above idea affords an escape for those that can afford transportation out of an academically poor school but leaves those without such financial resources stuck in poor schools.

Remember this district cannot even fix its k-12 math program and now we are to believe "Every school will become a quality school".

Assignment to "Separate and unequal schools" is a far more likely outcome.

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

Where there's a will there's a way.

There is plenty of low income housing all over Seattle. Surely a low income family cound find housing near some acceptable school, no? Seattle also has pretty decent public transportation for MS, and HS students to take advantage of, and for their working parents to commute to work.

This mentality would lead one to believe that we should stop allowing anyone to choose private school or get tutoring (because everyone can't afford it). What else should we limit because everyone can't afford it?? Cars, organic food....??

But again, I believe, where there is a will there is a way. Every private school that I know of offers scholarships to those in need, and most low income public schools offer free tutoring. And of course there is NCLB government mandated tutoring for low income students in low income schools.

Much responsibility falls on families to reach out and take what is available to them.....and being low income is no excuse not to do that.

Lori said...

I'm not sure I understand the ramifications of the transportation grandfathering. Tell me if this example is correct:

A family has their children in a school that used to be their reference school but no longer is. They've been drawn out with the NSAP. Their kids are grandfathered into that school thru its highest grade. They currently take the bus because they live too far to walk. They will continue to be able to take the bus for the next 2 years, but that's it. So when their 1st grader is in 4th grade, they have to figure out their own transportation OR switch to the "new" reference school, which is also too far to walk to, but because it is their reference school, the district will bus them there instead. So you are disrupting the family, taking the child away from her friends, etc but still having to bus that child to school!

Does that make any sense at all? This is the situation at least 2 families that I know of would be in if their bus is only continued for 2 years instead of thru the children's tenure at the school.

Unknown said...

Charlie asked "How can there be so much variance among schools about whether or not they will have room for Kindergarten siblings?"

It really depends on how many out-of area students each school has. A good example is Stevens from a couple of years ago. Because the school happened to have a lot of out-of-area siblings coming in, there was very little room for local students. The threshold distance for assignment to the school was something like 0.2 miles.

Now that situation is going to be reversed. There are a raft of new K students in the assignment area, and they will likely crowd out many siblings.

A school zone may be right-sized for the students who live in that assignment area, but may be overcrowded if there are a lot of out-of-area students currently at the school.


Sue said...

I understand your frustration Dan, but which would you rather have?

District money, which means Seattle taxpayer levy money (remember, we do get transportation money from the state) being spent on buses that take Seattle students to whichever school they would like to go to? Or would you rather see those millions freed up to put into the classroom?

As regards the separate and unequal comment, NSAP already will have the effect of forced assignment to separate and unequal schools. Especially at the high school level, which is why many people agitated for the high schools to be left out of the plan.

Transportation grandfathering for 2 years instead of five years doesn't change that one bit. What it does do is save money. Which we need. Or should we rif more teachers instead, so we can have five years of transportation. I think that giving people the free bus for five years is a nice idea, but one we simply cannot afford anymore. Our budgets, state and district, are in crisis, and hard choices have to be made. Sorry if you don't agree.

Lori said...

More flame-bait, I suppose, but I really don't understand why international schools aren't option schools with an enrollment preference for bilingual children. Shouldn't part of the mission of these programs be to encourage children already learning both languages at home to further those skills in a structured setting? It seems a shame to have these schools available but deny access to them to bilingual children simply by geography.

I know two bilingual families, where one parent is a native-Spanish speaker, the other native-English. Children are being raised bilingual, but at least in one case, the child's English was stronger due to living in America and having fewer chances to practice Spanish regularly outside the home. That family got into Beacon Hill and the child's spoken Spanish has increased dramatically. They are thrilled that they had this opportunity. The other family lives in the JSIS reference area but did not get into the school, unfortunately, which is such a shame given that this child speaks Spanish and would have been a wonderful peer facilitator for those new to the language.

As someone not particularly interested in language immersion as an option for my child, I don't know how I'd feel if a language immersion program was my only guaranteed spot simply because I live near it. Seems like I'm in the minority since so many people are clamoring for language immersion, but I'm sure I'm not truly alone in my thinking.

StepJ said...

Hi Lori,

On the Transportation Grandfathering...

If you still live within the middle school service area of the elementary school you attend - and you also live outside of the walk zone of the school you attend - you will still have transportation.

Where the two year limit would come into play would be like this example: A family that used to live in the Bryant reference area has been drawn into the McDonald assignment area. This family tried to get into Bryant but were too far away and received a mandatory assignment to John Rogers.

McDonald is in the Hamilton Service Area. John Rogers is in the Eckstein Service Area. As transportation outside of your service area is outside of the transportation guarantee in the NSAP - this family will have two years of grandfathered transportation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle, I had a quick glance so I can't say. I'll try to find out on Tuesday from Tracy on the status of the document.

Chris, I think it has been discussed but not in an open and specific way. I think you need a Board member to bring this up and get some real answers from Transportation in order to know if it really makes sense to have free transportation only for free/reduced lunch. But it is true, many districts don't provide transportation at all.

Lori, I believe your example is correct but in order for the plan to work, it has to be implemented as drawn up. There are situations that aren't great for many people. I would guess, though, that the bus ride to the new attendance area school is shorter than the original one.

Also, I do believe the international schools should be Option schools both so anyone has access to them and so you give native speakers opportunity to be part of the program, no matter where they live. But the district says they need those schools to be neighborhood schools. The only thing to do, if they continue to be popular, is to have more of them. Director Smith-Blum has mentioned them at both Board meetings so I know it's still on her radar.

Sahila said...

I wonder what 'low income' reality Ann lives in???

Plenty of low income housing all over the city, plenty of low income housing near 'good' schools? Not in this city, nor any other in the US or the western hemisphere... doesnt take much research to go and find the stats to prove Ann wrong...

from Page 7 of http://www.nlihc.org/doc/mahnsupply.pdf
"As noted earlier in this paper, the number of low income households grew by 2.2 million between 1985 and 1995. Concomitantly, their real incomes stagnated. At the same time, the inflation- adjusted cost of housing has risen, particularly at the lower end of the market. As a result, housing has become less and less affordable, constraining the choices of lower income Americans with respect to neighborhoods, school systems and proximity to jobs.



And low income people are somehow failing in their responsibilities to do their best by their children in getting them high quality educational opportunities... What planet are we living on here?

Charlie Mas said...

Language Immersion programs, like Montessori programs, should, of course, be Option programs if not Option schools. That is the only way to provide equitable access to them.

End of discussion.

The District decided to put predicatability ahead of equitable access. It would have added another variable to their effort to right-size the attendance areas if they had to also predict how many students from each attendance area would choose Montessori or Language Immersion. They already have to guess how many will enroll at an Option School, in APP, in Spectrum, Service Schools, and Special Education programs.

Lori said...

thanks, StepJ. Your example is even worse than mine though!

So here you have a family that already "took one for the team" by having to send their child 50+ blocks further north than the desired, reference area school because of the district's failure to plan for capacity for so many years. They deal with it and attend John Rogers and now maybe don't want to move, but learn that in 2 years, they won't get a bus to the school anymore? To a school they didn't even choose in the first place but are now established at? So they can now drive the 50+ blocks each day or switch to McDonald, and again, get a bus to McDonald.

It's a zero sum game for the district because they are still busing that child. But it's a huge hassle for the family. What a raw deal.

SolvayGirl said...

Ann said: "But again, I believe, where there is a will there is a way. " That's a pretty common sentiment among people in this country and can apply to many people and many situations. But in this case, I think you are being unfair to many low-income students and even not so low income.

For may parents, for many reasons, driving their elementary-aged child to/from school is just not an option. Here's the most common reasons that could impact this ability.

#1: They don't have a car. Many low-income families rely solely on public transportation, and they don't have the time to shlep a child to/from school on Metro. You certainly don't want a 5-yr-old riding Metro unescorted!

#2: Both parents (or the single parent) work and their schedules do not allow them time to drive/pick up the child. They need to leave for work before or just after the same time the child needs to get to school. Usually, the only kids who can be driven to school are ones with a parent at home or a flexible schedule—usually not low income.

And as for Ann's comments about low-income housing being near good schools, I agree with Sahila and will also add the factor that low-income people without personal transportation need to live close to where they work, which also may not be near a "good" school.

Something else Ann needs to consider. May low-income parents are also ESL parents and not able to navigate this highway to hell we call the Seattle Public School system. Sure, the highly-driven immigrant might be up to the task, but so many are struggling just to survive, and honestly have no clue that their assignment school might not be a good "choice" for their child.

In a true, positively-functioning PUBLIC school system, a child will not be penalized because of their misfortune of birth to parents who, for a multitude/variety of reasons, cannot or will not do everything in their power to secure their child(ren) the quality education that suits their specific needs.

Lori said...

No one has commented on this potential bombshell yet, from the latest version of the plan dealing with surge capacity, here is one possibility that has been added:

Eliminating full-day K classes (including Pay for K), and offering only half-day K classes at some schools.

I wonder if it would say in the letter families get in March that full-day K has been eliminated at the reference school and half-day is the only option! wow.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good catch, Lori. What page is that on?

Lori said...

found it in Appendix A, page 22. Previously, I had chuckled at the suggestion that office staff be moved into RVs on the playground, but that has now been deleted and some new options inserted.

I imagine it's cheaper to have one teacher teach twice as many kids by offering AM and PM half-day K instead of hiring extra teachers for full-day K with office staff in a rented RV!

Of course, this is only a *possibility* among many offered for handling the surge, but if I had an incoming kindergartener at a popular school this fall, I'd have this on my radar just in case.

dj said...

Ann, so if a child can't persuade his or her parents to find one of these cheap apartments near great schools that you posit are available, too bad for the kid?

I would think that we'd be more concerned about the kids of parents who you are identifying as unmotivated. Not less.

seattle said...

I live in NE Seattle and I can tell you that there are 4 low income housing projects within a mile of my home. One near Sandpoint/Magnuson, one near Nathan Hale HS, and two in Lake City near 145th (and those are just the ones I know about that are in my neighborhood). Living in any of these low income housing projects would allow families access to great schools and great public transportation.

All I'm saying is that some responsibility does have to fall on a family to make appropriate choices for their family.

When my kids entered school we were low income, so I've been there. We were disatisfied with our public school choices in the south end, and so we applied to private school and got full scholarships to two very popular, coveted, private schools.

There are options, but families have to want them and then reach for them. They are not always just handed out.

Dorothy Neville said...

Ann, do you have any idea how to get into one of those low income residences? Do you know what the waiting lists are like and the criteria for acceptance? It's not simple. Not to mention getting a spot in one of those apartments before open enrollment, being clued in enough to know about open enrollment. Being able to navigate the system, even being able to get to the enrollment center. As you've pointed out, the schools are loathe to accept transfers after Sept 30th.

The new assignment plan ought to help, but that's yet to be determined.

Unknown said...

"Eliminating full-day K classes (including Pay for K), and offering only half-day K classes at some schools."

Lori and Melissa - where is this found? Can you include a URL to the document you are referencing? Thanks!

Maureen said...

Here it is: Revised Transition Plan, half day K reference is on page 22.

SE Mom said...

To get into low income housing, application often is made through Seattle Housing Authority. Wait lists can exceed one year. There are criteria for priority status on wait lists, including homelessness. Applicatants can choose wait lists. But, the general idea is that an applicatant would accept whatever housing opened up first - I think it would be difficult to actually get into housing in a certain neighborhood by a certain school and have it all happen during Seattle Schools open enrollment period.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Maureen. I wish the district made their site easier to navigate and find things.

Unknown said...


And just out of curiosity, if you didn't give me a link, how would I have found it? On their NSAP Implementation page there does not seem to be a link for what you gave me.

Maureen said...

Seattle, it's linked to through the "Archive of Board Meeting Activity Page. You follow the link for this week's agenda and THEN follow the links on the agenda item to get to the Revised Transition Plan. Oh, so easy!

dj said...

Ann, you are missing the point, in my view.

Kids don't make decisions about where they live. To the extent that (let's just assume you are entirely correct about this) parents have the flexibility to move near good schools, kids don't. Kids can't take responsibility for finding new housing and making sure they can access good schools.

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

DJ I was originally responding to Dan Dempseys post that said that if the district limited transportation to only your neighborhood school then only families with money for transportation could escape bad schools. To that I say, no, not true. As I listed, they could move. And, yes, I know there is a process and there are waitlists, but we do have the capcity to plan, no? If there is a one year waitlist then you apply a year before your kid goes to kindergarten or at worst you kid goes to the crappy school for one year and you move as soon as your waitlist clears. It can be done.

And no, DJ, of course kids don't make the decision to move to housing near better schools. But neither do they make the decision to participate in open enrollment (still necessary for choice in the new SAP), or to try for one of the 10% lottery seats at a better high school, or an option school. They don't decided to get themselves tested for APP, or Spectrum either.

Making these decisions are a parents responsibility, whether low income or wealthy.

SP said...

Maureen & Seattle,
The unfortunate thing is that the older draft version of that document is still posted online, under the SAP Transition page. They added a different new document, "Follow-up to Transition Plan Questions and Recommended Changes", but didn't update the one you are talking about which is now included in the agenda to be vote on (with all of the considerable changes).

Do be aware that Steve Sundquist said at his Saturday meeting that more documents will be posted on the SAP Transition website before Wed.'s vote, including placement and timing of Spectrum programs and other enrollment projections from the district.

Central Mom said...

Seattle Parent///
The new transition plan is attached to the board agenda. It's not on the SAP page.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Of course, Central Mom, that's the first place I'd look on the website for it.

SP said...

Central Mom,
The original, older draft version of the Transition Plan for 2010-11 is still on the SAP webpage, under Implementation. That was what I was warning readers about- it's still not been updated to the newer version, so even though it is on the SAP Implementation webpage, do not use it:

Central Mom said...

Exactly Melissa, exactly.

Actually, you have to go into the agenda, select the transition plan and then click on THAT link to find it.

Helpful, eh?! Excellent public notification!

Tami Oki said...

The problem with the feeder school tiebreaker for JSIS is that incoming 6th graders are after APP, attendance area and siblings. APP is the unknown, as it's not clear how many 5th graders not going to Lowell will qualify and choose Hamilton. It is possible with a location north of the ship canal that the numbers will go up. Further, recent experience tells us that new buildings have historically gotten higher numbers of enrollees than in previous years.

The worry is that with 37% of the class being outside of the Hamilton service area, there will only be 15 kids in each 6th grade immersion language class. What kind of support can a school give to a program with such small numbers? In the current era of budget cuts, can that be supported? In the coming years, I don't think it will be much of a problem as there won't be many people who try to get a student into JSIS who doesn't live in the Hamilton attendance area.

sixwrens said...

Eliminating full day K and replacing each class with 2 1/2-day K's would not solve the incoming K problem. There would be twice as many kids moving into 1st and where would you put them?

sixwrens said...

Re: Hamilton APP. I think it's not uncommon for APP kids in strong north end elementaries with true ALO offerings to stay put and maintain APP status. I would expect many of these kids to rise into Hamilton. Agree that this will negatively affect the feeder tiebreaker for all Hamilton area schools, with a potentially big impact on the language immersion program.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And so you see, to my mind, a major flaw in how the thinking is in this district. They cannot see down the road. "What are the possible outcomes to this decision?" I have said and I'll say again, I believe many program placement decisions are starting to be made on building condition. It seems if you were thinking about it, you wouldn't move one program (APP) into a school that is already a feeder school for another program (foreign language immersion). (Yes, Hamilton is close to JSIS but again, are you doing the best thing for all 3 populations - attendance area, foreign language immersion and APP)? I think a lot of district decisions come with a shrug "it'll work itself out".

WallingfordMom said...

The JSIS/Hamilton feeder issue will likely work itself out once the current group of students at JSIS all reach Hamilton, since JSIS will likely fill from its own reference area from now on.

It seems a bit unfair to me to give priority to APP eligible students enrolled in an AOL (but not attending Lowell) priority to Hamilton but deny the JSIS students not in the Hamilton reference area that are clearly already part of a cohort.

Lori said...

sixwrens, the cynic in me says that SPS doesn't think much beyond 1 year or so when filling schools. My first grader was part of a bubble that needed 5xK classes. Those kids are now in 4x1st grades, and there is talk that it might be 3x2nd grades next year. Class size seems to be irrelevant any more. They're gonna do what it takes to make it work, even if that means 30+ kids/class with no PCP rooms, so the kids are crammed into their homeroom with nowhere else to go during the day except recess and, a few days per month, gym.

I posted a question on Harium's blog this morning to ask if we can find out which schools are talking about this option (half-day K) and how and when parents would be notified. What's strange to me is that this option was not in the earlier version of the transition plan. Someone, somewhere, decided to add it, which strongly suggests that there is at least one principal out there with whom it has been discussed.

Here's the whole section:

Consult with principals about possibilities for creating temporary surge capacity. Where there are significant capacity challenges, the extent of surge capacity will likely require such steps as, for example:

Using most or all PCP rooms for regular classrooms.

Using libraries part of the day for part-time resource, ELL, or itinerant services.

Using child care space during the day for other purposes.

Not renewing leases with outside groups that provide preschool programs.

Converting computer labs to mobile labs.

Putting portables on playground space.

Eliminating full-day K classes (including Pay for K), and offering only half-day K classes at some schools.

Filling classes to contractual limits at the beginning of the year (to provide more K seats and to condense number of homerooms needed at upper grades). This implies being prepared to pay overload costs if needed over the course of the year.

North End Mom said...

I posted this on the Board Meeting Agenda thread, but it belongs here, as well:

The sibling grandfathering data analysis is now posted online under the Transition Plan item on the agenda:

Stu said...

It seems a bit unfair to me to give priority to APP eligible students enrolled in an AOL (but not attending Lowell) priority to Hamilton but deny the JSIS students not in the Hamilton reference area that are clearly already part of a cohort.

I misread this a few times but finally figured it out . . .wanted to post something to clarify what's going on.

Students who are in Spectrum or AOL programs can not advance to APP at Hamilton without actually testing into the program. Students test in to APP in all different grade levels; if a student doesn't take the test 'til 5th grade, they can still get into Hamilton or Washington 'cause those are the only middle school APP programs.

I know some families, who are happy with their neighborhood elementary school, who have their children test every year just to keep their eligibility for APP. They had planned to move their child to APP before they even knew that it was going to be closer than WMS.

It was probably semantics but it was reading to me like you were saying any "advanced learning" student could go to Hamiltion.


Unknown said...

From North End Mom: The sibling grandfathering data analysis is now posted online under the Transition Plan item on the agenda:

I just read through most of this information and it is appalling to me. Did the district not foresee any of these issues when they drew the NSAP boundaries? It seems like the data they used to create boundaries was outdated. What the district really should do is NOT implement the NSAP until the Fall of 2011 so they can more accurately draw boundaries based on capacity issues and projected attendance.This seems ludicrous to adopt new boundaries only to maybe have them change several times over the course of the next few years because the attendance projections they used were inadequate. This is definitely NOT the predictability parents are looking for. Or is the district too vain to put the brakes on this for the time being? I support attending neighborhood schools, but not when it is going to have such a huge and unsettling impact on our kids.

WallingfordMom said...

Stu -- My understanding is that you can maintain your APP status if you are in an ALO program at an elementary (sorry, not AOL) and then transfer into APP at Hamilton or Washington. Maybe I am incorrect about this, but this seems to be what sixwrens is saying as well.

I agree that anyone at Lowell in APP should have priority at Hamilton even if they are outside the attendence area. But I question the fairness in giving kids who qualified for APP but opted to stay at neighborhood elementary (and live in another middle school area) priority at Hamilton over the JSIS kids who also live outside the area. The JSIS kids are at least part of a cohort, and a small one at that. You need some sort of critical mass to keep the immersion classes going there.

sixwrens said...

the district pits parents against each other. I understand wanting to keep sufficient numbers of JSIS students together to allow immersion learning. I also think that APP kids that choose to transition into the program at middle school should have priority. The transition in middle school can make sense when academic needs (1 grade level of advancement) are met at the elementary school.

The problem is 2 programs in one school. APP and international student families shouldn't have to duke it out for who gets in first.

Stu said...

My understanding is that you can maintain your APP status if you are in an ALO program at an elementary (sorry, not AOL) and then transfer into APP at Hamilton or Washington. Maybe I am incorrect about this, but this seems to be what sixwrens is saying as well.

I never heard this . . . anyone?

It's my understanding that, if you test into APP, you have one year of eligibility. If you don't go, you can't go the following year unless you retest. The ALO thing doesn't make sense to me, since some schools don't have an ALO program and I know that kids in Spectrum, which is an advanced program, can't just move to APP.


Lori said...

Stu, all elementary schools are supposed to have formal ALO programs in place by the fall. We've been told that APP-qualified kids who choose not to go to Lowell but instead participate in a formal ALO program and receive some sort of ALO report card (instead of the regular report card, I think) can in fact enter the APP cohort for middle school without retesting. If you don't have a formal ALO program or if you go private and try to re-enter SPS later, you need to re-test.

It's late, and I'm tired, but I think this is what I heard at our school a few weeks ago, where they are developing a formal ALO for the first time.

If true, and every school has a formal ALO from this fall forward, perhaps there will be more APP-qualified kids in the north end and elsewhere who don't want to commute to Lowell but do want to be part of Hamilton for middle school.

Dorothy Neville said...

Stu, Lori's right. Been discussed on the app discussion blog. Check the SPS website for verification.

You either need to enter APP in middle school OR attend a K8 ALO, in which case you maintain eligibility? I can't remember that part for sure.

Yup, Hamilton is going to be a much more attractive app middle school for north end families. Look for it to fill. Look for that to impact Garfield as well.

Stu said...

Students who remain enrolled in an ALO school, a Spectrum program, or the Accelerated Progress Program retain their academically gifted or academically highly gifted designations through the eighth grade.

Wow, I completely missed this! I haven't read the discussions about this but it seems that it's another step towards diluting the APP program so they can move it to lots of schools, like Spectrum.

The whole point of APP was to have a cohort learning specific things at a specific time . . . with every ALO different, and different methods of learning and acceleration being used district-wide, how can they be sure that a student who's stayed at his local elementary, using ALO, has learned what's necessary to join APP in 6th grade?

Am I missing something?


sixwrens said...

Elementary students who test into APP maintain their status if they are in a school with formal ALO and they continue to show they work a grade ahead on their ALO report card. I was surprised to find a child could test in kindergarten and maintain status via ALO until middle school! Transfering in at middle school may be a better time to transition students who need more academically but are otherwise doing well in the classroom test in later (2nd, 3rd, 4th). And now its a way out of a less desirable middle school for APP qualified students - though their sibs won't automatically follow.

Look for Hamilton to get popular very quickly.

Charlie Mas said...

The opportunity to maintain APP eligibility by enrolling at a neighborhood school with either Spectrum or an ALO is one thing in the north-end where 80% of schools have one or the other. It is another thing south of downtown. The only elementary advanced learning programs in the Southeast cluster are a Spectrum program at Wing Luke and a new ALO at Graham Hill. The only elementary advanced learning programs in the South cluster are Spectrum at Muir and an ALO at Thurgood Marshall. The only elementary advanced learning programs in the Central cluster are Spectrum at Leschi and the new ALO at Lowell. The only advanced learning programs in the West Seattle-North cluster are the Spectrum programs at Lafayette and West Seattle (no ALOs). There are no advanced learning programs in the West Seattle-South cluster.

If you live south of downtown and your child is APP-eligible, it is very unlikely that you will be able preserve the eligibility at your neighborhood school.

Yes, the New Student Assignment Plan calls for every elementary school to have an ALO - EVENTUALLY. They will NOT all have them next year. Nor will they all have one the year after that or the year after that. Even if they SAY they have an ALO, there is absolutely no quality assurance. Even if they make promises about what their program will offer there is no way to make them keep those promises.

Why would you take a check from these people when you already have six of their checks taped to your cash register?