Upcoming Board Work Session and Board Meeting
The first annual school reports will be released by Seattle Public Schools (SPS) on November 9th 2010, which will provide a snapshot of school performance on common academic measures. SPS wants parents, students, and the community to know how each individual school is doing – from test scores to absence rates to student proficiency – so we all can learn from and act on the information to make our schools better.
In order to ensure excellence for all, the district needs to know how each school is currently performing and make improvement plans based upon that information. To be successful, we will need the community’s help. These school reports, which will be released annually, are meant to kick-off an ongoing community conversation about what needs to be done to make our schools better.
At the school level, the new performance data and the district’s improvement plans will help leaders focus on what is working well in schools, identify areas that need additional support, and guide how the district responds to those needs. Schools that are excelling for all students will be recognized; schools not making performance gains will receive focused support, resources, and interventions.
There are to be regional meetings about these school report cards because (1) most people don't know they are coming out and (2) if you read about your school and don't like what you see, you may be upset. You might also disagree, be happy, etc. Apparently the district (with the Alliance's help) is hoping to work with the Seattle Council PTSA to set up these meetings.
Giving credit to the Seattle Council PTSA, they are asking the district to think about unintended consequences and how to talk to parents so they clearly understand what they are being told and how it will help them support their own child at school.
The District is very sensitive that these are not "report cards" but school reports. They are not intended to judge but to share information and inform conversation about schools. It will include basics including average class size, average daily attendance, student gains in testing, and school progress status and percent of school progress criteria met.
I note that at the beginning of every agenda they approve the minutes from the past Board meeting and other meetings. For some reason, they seem to think the agenda from the past Board meeting (with vote outcomes) can serve as minutes. I would disagree but I don't know what the legal definition of minutes is for this purpose.
On the agenda is a resolution to sell school construction bonds. The district needs to do this in order to accelerate the BTA III schedule especially for the reopening schools.
They will also be approving several revised Board policies on fees for damage to school property and restitution. (This is mostly about giving out laptops at STEM.) What is funny is that they state that
"The law requires that the School Board adopt procedures to make sure that a student or student's parent/guardian's right to due process is protected before District fines are assessed."
So these are policies directly affecting students and parents and under "Community Engagement Process" there's..."none." Sure, that makes sense.
Then's there approval of the contracts for other SPS staff. The one for Office Professionals and paraprofessionals show that they would get a 1% raise for two years but again, only if the levy passes (or the district finds "alternate funding"). Oh and under Community Engagement, it explains that it was a closed door discussion but that the Alliance's Our Schools Coalition provided a set of their objectives for the final agreement. I love the way the district picks and chooses who they will and will not listen to (even as they take meetings with both). I guess the trick is to have one group who works for you.
Where's the principals' contract for Pete's sake?
There is also an action item to extend the waitlist period for 2010/2011 non-attendance area kindergarten siblings. This will be an intro/action item rolled into one because of the timing. It would be for Lafayette and Stevens as I believe the other schools with issues (like View Ridge) have successfully cleared those students from their waitlists. All other waitlists dissolved on Sep. 30th.
Out-of attendance area siblings not placed with their older sibling by March 31, 2011 would default to the regular Open Enrollment process for school year 2011-12.
Intro Items include the sale of the old MLK, Jr. Elementary property to First African Methodist Episcopal for $2.4M. This one is a little troubling because the Board procedure is to sell to the highest financial bidder unless a proposal has substantial support to youth education/social services for at least half the building. Bush School would have give the district $5.6M (over several years) but First AME's bid includes substantial support for youth education activities for at least 40 years. Is the district really going to monitor this? I mean, great but how will you know it is happening and wouldn't you have to go to court to prove it? What is also interesting is that the Superintendent has the final say over any final additions, deletions and modifications to the contract. This is one contract I'll have to read.
The Board is also offering a Board resolution about the state audit. Well that didn't take long. The draft Resolution was tepid and now it's lukewarm.
"WHEREAS, the “Accountability Audit” identified additional areas for improvement in the
areas of governance and management oversight; and "
Look, I don't want anyone throwing themselves on a sword but the Board was called out in a very public way. I think saying they have "identified additional areas for improvement..." is a little self-serving. They don't note the multiple years that some of the items had been pointed out. They don't note that some of the items speak to ethical issues in our district (you are left to wonder why the new Ethics officer and ethics policy, maybe they speak for themselves). There's a lot to read between the lines here. I am glad and grateful for all the items they outline here to be done. Let's hope the Board makes sure that they GET done. That's their job. I note they say they want to make sure the "audit response work is successfully implemented" but nowhere do I see "completely."
There's a placeholder item about Teach for America and it won't be available to view until the end of Tuesday .