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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Apparently a Cheerful LIttle Earful

From our friends over at West Seattle Blog, a review of the coffee chat last night with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

The number of community members who attended was almost matched by the number of district staffers on hand, but those who came brought up some challenging issues – primarily class size and closed schools.

Here's a great line:

Most of the discussion centered on elementary-level class sizes; if classes hold 28 or more, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said, it’s up to the school’s principal to work with teachers and find solutions.

So get busy principals.

Anyone attend?

21 comments:

IvyLeagueMom said...

I went. She seemed a little defensive, spewed her usual verbiage, and ended most of her statements with, "I don't know, but I promise to get back to you with the answer to that..." I really don't see the point of her even having these community chats, she doesn't know any facts or have answers, just memorized buzz phrases. The Schmitz Park parent really was passionate about how the overcrowding had changed the culture of their school for the worst and the children were using the bathrooms in shifts. My child spent a horrible, hellish, nightmarish year at the overcrowded Lafayette, I had to get her out of there. Those parents said that because of the overcrowding LAST year, the culture of their school had changed even before the New Student Assignment Plan. Chaos, stress, and unhappiness. Being in those halls when the bell rang was like participating in the the "Running of the Bulls" I really feel for her community. We tried to tell them, this would happen if they closed Cooper. Denial, denial, denial Get used to the portables in West Seattle because they are the new norm.

wsnorth said...

"Community coffee" is more like community bull. The meetings on closures, the ridiculous boundaries of the NSAP, and other past topics have drawn crowds of 100 or so parents for every clueless, uninformed district staff member. Now, she wants to "chat"? I can tell her where to put her portables!

wseadawg said...

I am perplexed by the fact that after voting to support levies numerous times over the past 15 years, we still have children sitting in moldy old portables.

I believe that if the wider public realized how poorly SPS has managed the dollars they have graciously donated to our schools via levy support, and that, after hundreds of millions of dollars invested, kids are still sitting in portables - more than ever before, people would be outraged.

I can't believe MGJ's response wherein she punts to the school's principal & staff to make lemonade out of the lemons she dumped on them.

Is there a better example of an utterly incompetent, unaccountable SI anywhere in the country right now? Holy cow! How low can the bar go?

SP said...

I was there also, very poor excuse for "community engagement".
The question came up about elementary classroom limits as per the SEA contract. MJG said she "didn't know for sure", and the new area rep gave only partial answer of "28 per class".
Actually, that's for the 4-5 classes only, with 26:1 in K-3 (as SPS-wide average goals). How could they not know this, with these overcrowding issues brought to their attention daily? There were families with 32 second graders at the meeting, and there are no solutions being offered to ease that problem for the kids in the class (extra pay makes sense for the teacher, but does nothing for the kids crowded in the classroom).

http://www.seattlewea.org/static_content/
certcontract2010.pdf

I think it's time to push the district to re-open Fairmount Park. There are currently 262 kids in the Madison area elementary area over the functional capacity, enough to comfortably start up a school. Look at how many new elementary schools have opened up in the northend with fewer than 100 kids each!

Fairmount Park sits between the most overcrowded schools of Gatewood and Schmitz Park, and could also take Alki kids from that ridiculous south end leg, who would be much closer to FP. Kids from the ex-Cooper area could also be given the chance to go to a school closer to their home, rather than their over crowed Layfayette assignment.

It would also give the opportunity for the maps to be redrawn to where they should have been in the first place, and an opportunity to actually fill the northend secondary schools to match their functional capacity, instead of a 46% imbalance (kids in Denny/Sealth vs Madison/WSHS areas with both sets of schools basically the same functional capacity).

This is a situation which absolutely is not acceptable, and which could have been avoided. It's time to step up and make it right.

ParentofThree said...

Simply unbelievable responses to really basic questions!

I do have to think that even with all her eduspeak spewing, MGJ knows how badly it is going for her at this point.

Her staff must have been mortified by the end of the evening.

IvyLeagueMom said...

Does anyone have any idea how enraged the Delridge community will be if the District reopens Fairmont Park to accomodate the West Seattle North overflow, mainly caused by having to seat the evicted Cooper kids who are now at the overcrowded (and now culturally isolated) Lafayette????? It was suggested that Pathfinder be moved into Fairmont Park, but they complained that their portables would sink on the wetlands (what do you think Cooper was built on?) They didn't even use their portables once they moved, they are still at Genesee Hill. What a huge, unbelievable, mindboggling insult to the Cooper children who were thrown on the sword in the name of capacity management and fiscs crisis. I dare the District to slap the Cooper kids in the face like that. Put Pathfinder in Fairmont Park. They should have moved them there all along, and not caused all of this trauma to these children.

Jennifer said...

The district has now said that classes have to be at 29 before getting any help/support. Not sure who is right, reading the contract language it says that over enrolled is two students above 26, in my mind that is any class with 28 kids but apparently the district lawyers say it’s 29. Strange that MGJ is saying 28.

Pathfinder doesn’t need any (yet) portables over at the new building they are actually filling the previously unfilled building. At Fairmont Park they would need lots of portables, seems like if they need to open a new school it could be the small "cooper school" in the Fairmont park building.

Lori said...

A document dated 9/1/2010 on the district website says that the new teacher contract will change the circumstances under which teachers will get additional pay for classroom overages. It doesn't say any effort will be made to reduce class sizes; just that in the future, the trigger for additional pay will be reduced.

Right now, K-3 teachers get more money when the class size hits 28 kids. For grade 4/5, extra pay hits at 32 kids.

The proposal says over the next 3 years, K-3 overage pay will happen when class size is 28-27-27 (so that means one more year with 28 as the trigger, then it goes down).

For grade 4/5, the triggers over the next 3 years are 31-30-29 per class.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/laborrelations/20100901_TA_Summary.pdf

SP said...

IvyLeagueMom,
I am very sorry that Cooper was closed and did not at all think that it was the right thing to do. But are you wanting the Fairmount Park community to never have a neighborhood school again (if the numbers warrant it reopening), just because Cooper was closed? I do not understand how you would not want those kids to at least be able to once again go to a walkable neighborhood school like they used to. Remember, all the Fairmount Park kids were uprooted also.

Jan said...

Reading Seattle Parent and IvyLeagueMom's comments, I am reminded of how tragic it is that the West Seattle community does not have a school board member who cares, at all, about their issues and problems. Bad stuff happens willy nilly, to everyone, these days -- but having a willing ear, and a helpful voice, helps at least a little. Given that I have never seen Director lift a finger, or his voice, to advocate for this community, despite all the wrong decisions -- closing Fairmount, closing Cooper, unbalancing the high schools, it goes on and on and on -- I hope that WS parents show up en masse at board meetings to keep these issues front and center until the board forces MGJ to solve them.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will just state again, for historical purposes and so it doesn't get forgotten, that Cooper didn't have to close. That is, if the BEX III money had gone to Pathfinder instead of South Shore. I know, you get tired of hearing this BUT please, as we go forward in the future with BEX IV planning, please keep up.

This is EXACTLY the kind of ripple effect that happens. It's not just "oh so who cares which building gets renovated". When South Shore, a school in sad but not horrifically poor condition, only a '70s building, got rebuilt and not Pathfinder in a bad building with its entire middle school out in portables didn't, you have to wonder.

Pathfinder not being rebuilt but needing a better space triggered the district to do something. Cooper, in a fairly isolated area, struck the district as the right building to take over. (And don't forget, this wasn't the district's first time to aim for Cooper.) So they forced out Cooper's population (and all the while the parents in neighboring schools warned that those schools would become over populated. Then the NSAP shook this up even more.

The ripple effect from one choice can go straight through a region.

And, of course, there is the disappointment that the district absolutely refused to wait on South Shore because the City had long been considering renovating the Rainier Beach CC which South Shore is attached to. Nevermind that it would have saved dollars and allowed continuity of design for these attached buildings. No, it was "Oh the City will never come around. We can't wait." What's in the Mayor's budget as one of the last Parks projects (and to which I have heard few objections from the City Council); rebuilding RBCC.

Please, going forward, keep this in mind. There IS a reason to want to have input on the buildings that get renovated under BEX IV. What is happening to West Seattle could happen in your region next.

(And just for a going-on-record statement, I believe that Viewlands and Rainier View may be being renovated in case a charter school law passes and the district will just happen! to have these spaces available.)

IvyLeagueMom said...

I too am disappointed that Fairmount Park was closed. A nice little school, great location with beautiful fields and playgrounds. I would love to see the kids from THAT neighborhood have their neighborhood school. But in the name of fiscal savings,ha ha, why should we bus the Delridge kids (who do not live near Fairmount Park) to that school? They are already bussed as far as Arbor Heights in order for PF to have their great building. And a mini-Cooper School in the FP Building??? I had to pick myself up off the floor when I read that. These kids HAD a neighborhood school which was built ESPECIALLY for them. How disrespectful to them. Why should they have to be relocated to a school which is not even closed to them in order to enable the disastrous decisions the District has made on their behalf. Goodloe-Johnson can't reopen Fairmount, it would be political suicide. How much more do you think the Cooper kids can take? When is someone gong to care about them? My kid is on her third school in 3 years and I have lived in the same house for ten years. I am tired of the politicking- WHEN IS IT REALLY GOING TO BE ABOUT THE CHILDREN? I agree that PF should have had a building built for them, but even if PF had moved into Arbor Heights, which was the original plan, we would not be overcrowded in WS North.

Thank Sundquist,it is the only thing he ever did for anyone in WS. He is the WORST thing to have ever happen to us.

BTW, the Dept. of Ed. suggested to the District that perhaps they should discontinue PF. It was already in Step 2 of failing AYP, Cooper was in no step at all. Now PF is in Step 3. Guess some children are more valuable than others.

Still waiting for the decision of the Department of Education's Compliance Review. We get upset when we feel the District has violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

IvyLeagueMom said...

OK, I really want to move on with this, but just having to deal with SPS has mismanaged West Seattle Schools, it is bad enough, but having to LIVE it every day is like a being trapped in a horror movie with no end in sight. If it would only get BETTER, I could live with it, but every year in West Seattle, it just seems to get worse.It is so depressing. And yes, our director is incompetent, self-serving, negligent, and let me stop before I denigrate into a slew of words that are unfit to print. Never have I seen one person do so much damage to so many children. I still see a lot of Cooper parents and we unilaterally agree, we will NEVER get over what they did to our children. OK, movin' on, or at least trying to.

wsnorth said...

It is not just Cooper, West Seattle schools were improving and students achieving and now so many schools and children are negatively affected. Lafayette, Schmitz Park are so overcrowded I can't see how it is even safe. Gatewood, too, but at least it has been remodeled in the last 50 years. A little girl broke her arm on the playground recently, and now they won't even let 3rd grade and above play on the playground equipment. "They just want the parents to buy more stuff for them" my prescient elementary student recently told me. It is just sick. Further, it is almost as if the district has purposefully set out to destroy Madison and WSHS. It's twisted.

cascade said...

IvyLeague Mom: The best way to feel some justice is done is to get out there and find someone or select yourself to be a school board candidate and campaign your heart out and recruit other Cooper parents to do the same. Otherwise things WILL NOT CHANGE.

This is the only and I repeat ONLY way to make West Seattle somewhat whole again. Even an eventual court ruling, if in your favor, will have limited impact on the kids that are getting stomped on.

Go get someone feisty. Get them funded. Get rid of Sundquist, who SHUDDER is poised to become President of the School Board. STOP HIM NOW. GET GOING.

Dorothy Neville said...

Our anti-levy website gets a modest amount of traffic. Many people come from links on this blog. Other than that the largest source of traffic is from the post about the school levy on the West Seattle Blog. All I can think (unless it is one West Seattleite coming to read me many times a day every day) is that Tracy Record gets a lot of traffic and people in West Seattle are Pissed and interested in saying No on the levy.

I urge you, it is not too late. Word of mouth can be highly effective. Talk to your friends and neighbors about the issues and why you are voting no (assuming that you are).

Maureen said...

I believe that Viewlands and Rainier View may be being renovated in case a charter school law passes and the district will just happen! to have these spaces available

Is there some "credible commitment" our community could make to ensure that those schools, if renovated, will NOT be used for charters?


(If we were in a "Game Theory 101" Economics class, we would write up a contract to say that we would burn the schools down if they were leased to a Charter. In real life that would be problematic.)

Maureen said...

West Seattle: Who will run against Sundquist? Find someone and support them.

TR @ WSB said...

Thanks for mentioning our blurb on the MGJ meeting. I'm sorry it wasn't more in-depth but there are so many meetings these days (and thanks to Mel for posting a comment pointing out upcoming unannounced meetings, I'll get them into our calendar) it's all we can do to be paying freelancers pretty much every night to help us keep everything covered. BTW I can't speak to how people feel politically but re: traffic, yes, WSB has a decent amount ... currently averaging about 800,000 pageviews a month.

mirmac1 said...

Maureen,

How 'bout Maria Ramirez? She should've beat Sundquist the first time.

Or, another thought is, if the KC Council seat goes to McDermott, we should recruit Diane Toledo.

Or, I'll legally change my name to "anyonebutSundquist" and run.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I'm wondering what "horrifically bad condition" is to you and how bad South Shore had to be before being rebult?

My daughter was at the old building for a year and among the problems it had were random leaks anytime it rained hard-leaks bad enough that whole areas had to be roped off and buckets set out. "Classrooms were crowded cubicles where kids had to climb over each other when all of them were trying to get around the room, and worst of all, a rug that harbored so much mold and mildew (remember those leaks) that my daughter and others with asthma experienced a huge increase in attacks. Our family alone ended up in the ER half a dozen times during the rainy season.

Add to that heat that was often either too low or too high (a problem the soon-to-be renovated Rainier Beach Community Center STILL suffers from, the heating system covered both buildings). Then there was the tiny playground that really belonged to the park system...

I know you dislike the fact the South Shore even exists, but the non-school building where it was originally housed was a threat to the health of kids like my child. I'm sure there are others like it and they should all be fixed. That doesn't mean South Shore's rebuild shouldn't have happened. If they had not begun the build and relocated to another building in the interim, we'd have had to consider changes our daughter's school placement.