Ballard Lab Closure

I have this message from Gail Longo on the Ballard Lab closure:


1. The Ballard High School (BHS) Child Development Lab is operated by a non-profit Community Learning Partner that serves both high school students and children. Our on-site Lab school provides licensed childcare to families of 20 preschoolers. Teachers are college graduates and Montessori certified. The Lab is housed on campus in a designated childcare facility that was newly constructed in 1999.

2. In 2003, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Office of Community Learning welcomed two new members to the Community Alignment Agreement, The BHS Family and Consumer Sciences Department (a branch of the Career and Technical Education Division of SPS) and the Casa Maria Montessori Lab School Program

3. This partnership gives high school students a direct field- site where they can apply classroom knowledge to real life situations in a meaningful way. High school students receive occupational education credit and certificates from the Washington State Training and Registry system (STARS) for completing 20 hours of training.

4. The alignment agreement inspired our partnership to host annual workshops in education for students and families .We obtained grants and successfully co-hosted forums focused on optimal brain development and emotional literacy. These events brought educators, families and communities together.

5. Today this model partnership is threatened from changes stemming from the Seattle School District’s New Student Assignment Plan. The existing childcare laboratory space will now be needlessly ripped out and our successful program will be terminated.

Money from State, city and community was invested in the construction of the Child Development Laboratory at Ballard High. Because of the high deficit in the SPS budget, it is very expensive to create new childcare centers in schools. Our program
has been in place and operating for over 6 years and it seems wise and preferable to retain it.

6. Elected officials and scientists support our program. King County Council members, Larry Phillips and Bob Ferguson have both voiced their support. Inspired teachers like Dr. James Ha and Dr. Helen Buckland from the University of Washington, and Dr. Jeff Ojemann , neurosurgeon from Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, all support the value of this program.

Dr. Temple Grandin , a leading scientist with extraordinary talent who has autism wrote to us saying that :”It is extremely important for students to get hands–on experience …hands.-on jobs will help create the next generation of scientists”

Gail Longo, July 27,2010


dan dempsey said…
Yep Yup, just another of the many reasons to Recall the Seattle "5".

Look here clearly the 5 Board members welcome their recall and discharge. They are all for such accountability.

If it works -- trash it.
If it offers suitable alternative options destroy it.

Hey it just must happen to make the New Student Assignment Plan work.

Note: on Monday July 26 in Inveen's court room two actions were heard appealing the New Student Assignment Plan boundaries. This LAB Closure is an assignment Plan boundary problem.

Evidence was presented by May Ovalles and Gordon Glasscock describing the chaotic state of affairs that existed at the time of the vote approving the chaotic mess. The failure of the Board to do much other than nod at the confusion that produced this Ballard Lab closure, is far to common in their arbitrary decision making. Accompanying this the boundaries drawn aggravated racial imbalances at 12 schools in violation of previous agreements with the State.

It seems to get money the District makes agreements but then forgets the agreements once the money is in hand.

Chris Jackins is an amazing resource. His memory is a bit longer than the Central Administration desires.

There is certainly no shortage of motivating factors to recall this crew.
dan dempsey said…
Anyone written to the Board for a response?
zb said…
Is this shutdown a result of the space needs at Ballard for a larger number of high school students. If so, does someone have a solution that accommodates both needs?

What is the targeted use for the facility & how can both needs be satisfied?
dan dempsey said…

You have it. Ballard is over subscribed because of the NEW SAP boundaries.

About 80 Ballard Students need to be going to Cleveland STEM option in 2015 to make the NSAP work for space deprived Ballard.... and that is "work" with the LAB school closed to produce more space..

The NSAP was poorly thought out and in fact it was chaotic at the time the Board approved it.

The transportation savings are also in doubt.

The demographic re-segregation violations at 12 schools are NOT in doubt as those come from the District's current projections.

Gordon Glasscock finds his children now assigned to Ingraham HS. They will need to make multiple transfers to get there rather than getting a straight on bus ride to Ballard. There are several neighborhoods with the same problem the Glasscocks face.

We have no idea what evidence the Board actually considered in making the NSAP boundaries as RCW 28A.645.020 was unfulfilled by the Board as usual.

In legal action the Board originally tried to satisfy the court by providing only the one sided materials that Holly Ferguson gave the Board. Inveen would not buy that so then came the public records extraction of 50,000+ pages.

Net result Ballard Lab school gets closed. Superintendent gets one-year contact extension as the Board narrowly evaluates the Superintendent only on Strategic Plan as outlined in #8 HERE. State Auditor finds Board largely incompetent and Recall and Discharge papers for Carr, Sundquist, Maeir, DeBell, and Maier are filed.

The failure of the Board to satisfy the Open Public Meetings Act is sufficient grounds for a recall. These five directors have more than sufficient charges against them to get a recall petition approved.
I'll let Gail explain but the space was absolutely built for day-care/preschool. It's a little people space. What I think happened is that they needed the space for special ed needs because they caved to pressure from north Ballard parents who did not want to go to Ingraham. That is my understanding but Gail lay this out for people.
WenD said…
This makes me mad. I know Gail Longo. One of my youngest attended her after-school Mandarin program at Cinquegranelli, when the Ballard lab school was just taking shape. Had we stayed in Seattle, I would have lined up to enroll my youngest 2. My oldest, a Hamilton/Summit/Hale alum, always enjoyed seeing the littles at the pre-Ks that used to be on site at Hale and Summit. I'll have to ask, but I think there was either a class or an opportunity for the older students to help out at the Summit pre-k.

I realize the mandate is to fill every building, but is this really happening? I appears that once again, Ballard is the linchpin. Under the current paradigm, the lab school is disposable. This is a textbook move for SPS. They have no fear of tearing out or destroying new construction, much less programs that have taken years to build up. (I'm thinking of 2, the lab school and the autism program at View Ridge, that fulfill what a community school can be.)

Why don't these programs matter anymore? I won't wait for a reply from the board, but just give the reform gang 2-3 years, because once we're accustomed to the new unemployment average, 10 % even in WA, the idea of a child dev lab, either for learning or for skill set building, will make sense. By then, it will cost 5 times as much to implement another one, but who cares?

Snark aside, there's a lot to lose here, and the provision to relocate should be required. They have a national expert in place right now. Will Gail be able to do this again? Probably not. She's off the political radar, so she doesn't have an in. I suspect it was the BHS principal that helped make this happen in the first place. Longo, her students and children, are expendable. But back to unemployment, and the new average.

I predict that you'll see the "promise" of everyone college ready modified, and for good reason. The debt load alone is going to chase off a lot of fine students, and a lot of not so fine students, from the goal of a 4-year degree (unless we free up the trillions we will spend in Afghanistan. Really? Another $30 billion?) What we once called voc-ed, the old school project learning model, will be rebranded and reborn. It isn't common sense, it's just how the grant writing crowd and the reform crowd hold onto relevance.

This is all in line with the SPS game of wasting other people's money. At some point, Mary Bass will finally be awarded an honorarium for being the only board member to read a budget and speak up. The Lone Voice Award?

The Times ought to be frothing over the loss of this program. Instead, they're marching down the road toward less relevance. Instead of protecting something that makes a school powerful and special, they're in a twist over the City of Everett supplying citizens with plastic bags for the disposal of dog poop.

I really hope this decision can be modified in some way.
Burton Miller said…
The Ballard High School Montessori program looks forward, and should be expanded, not shut down. Anyone who has had children in Montessori - especially where Gail Longo is involved, knows it has great value.

Combine that with the benefits to the high school students who participate, and it seems a great shame that our schools are falling behind, instead of moving ahead. Ballard has a chance to lead, and has chosen to retreat.

I speak to this issue with a very clear and thoughtful voice. School is a serious business, and Montessori is a fantastic learning methodology.

Furthermore, Gail's program has met every goal and passed every test that Ballard High School's administration has set before it. And now they are going to demolish a learning space that was built specifically for this program, without provocation or reasonable explanation.

How many of us have fond memories of learning in school? Character and intellect-building school experiences that stay with use forever? My child LOVES to go to school.
What is unnerving is that Gail's program had the blessing of the district when it started. It was successful but now they need the space. What does this kind of thinking mean for other programs? When is an agreement an agreement?
dan dempsey said…
As Charlie had suggested at one time using Lincoln as a comprehensive high school site might have been the key to making sensible NSAP boundaries. Queen Anne / Magnolia puts a huge load on Ballard.

I at one time advocated for closing NO schools. I wanted to see what the "NEWS" lawsuit brought forth in the way of funding.

My position still is that co-locating services in less than completely filled school buildings is a win-win proposition. A Doctor or Dentist or Counselor or other service provider would make excellent tenants. More schools reduces transportation expense and builds better communities. Tenants pay rent rather than having unused buildings sitting idle.

Where would we be today if this thought had been applied to Queen Anne HS?

Look at the elementary schools that have been closed and reopened.

It is like the "Decision-Makers" have infinite money, little sense of reality, and no imagination.

Note one principal can serve two neighboring small elementary schools.
dan dempsey said…
"How many of us have fond memories of learning in school? Character and intellect-building school experiences that stay with use forever? My child LOVES to go to school."


So what is the position taken by the school Directors on this? ... Gee not our job ... we turned it all over to MGJ and she recommended it. Thus we vote YES.

Thus done deal.
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casey said…
I want to point out that there are many preschools in the Seattle school system - and those that serve kids with Special Needs are moved and closed often without a bit of notice or outcry. As a matter of fact, I believe that there were three Special Ed Preschools located at the Wilson-Pacific site for years - have you seen that place? There were 60 preschool kids there!! Then they moved them to Greenwood and one or 2 got booted out again this year so the school could use the space.

While the district was using Family and Ed Levy money (I think) to build fancy new preschool and childcare sites in schools, which are Privately operated, the PUBLIC preschools for kids with disabilities were located in "leftover" facilities.

Still, even as the "party-line" is that school programs are located "thoughtfully," they are really located in leftover space. NO PLAN, NO PLAN, NO PLAN.

I understand the feelings about the Montessori school, but would love to hear the same outcry about Developmental Preschools serving kids with disabilities. No one speaks up for those little ones.
Jayson Luu said…
The idea of closing the Ballard High Lab is absurd. I'm a Ballard High Alumni, graduated in 2008, and during my final 5-6 months at Ballard, I was an intern for the Montessori School.

As an intern, I've seen the energetic capabilities of the young children as they learn and grow in a safe, clean, and happy environment; the loyal and dedicated students of Ballard High who took the time off from their daily activities, come to the Montessori School to help the certified teachers in assisting with the developments of child basic skills.

Those who proposed and support the idea of closing the Lab are showing negative support for the children and the students. The Montessori Preschool is one of the first step where kids can begin to develop communication skills, foreign languages, art, etc. This is a safe, happy, and clean alternative location for the kids in case of the absence of their parents at home due to long errands or jobs. The Montessori School will have many support from the Ballard High Students.
sixwrens said…
I suspect it's too late to do much. This has been known since last May, at least, when Seattle Times reported on it.

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