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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Anyone Attend the SE NSAP Regional Meeting Last Night?

Or the Audit Committee meeting yesterday afternoon?

20 comments:

Susan said...

I was at the NSAP meeting, but had to leave early, so maybe someone can report on what happened at the end of the meeting. There were only about 35-40 people there; I got the sense most of them were there because they were concerned about their geographical assignment to RBHS (and they should show up at the Wed night meeting to discuss how to make the school more desirable).

The meeting started with a pretty quick powerpoint presentation about the current boundaries and challenges (some overcrowded schools, some under-utilized schools). Apparently 2010 enrollment was what was expected for 2015. Rainier View and one other SE elementary will be re-opened for next year (can't remember which). They said they plan to hold 10% of high seats as "open", to accommodate siblings and THEN out-of-area students. I asked how many of those seats generally went to siblings (are there REALLY any left for out-of-area?) but she said she didn't have the data to answer that question.

Then they had us split into small groups to answer questions on a worksheet:

1. What are comments on proposed boundaries? (There was one laminated book of boundaries at each table; I never even had the opportunity to look at it, much less have specific comments).

2. Suggestions about feeder patterns in West Seattle?

3. Open choice seats for high schools: is 10% enough? Should it be a percentage of seats or a set number?

4. Rainier Beach HS: What do you think of the five ideas suggested? Any other suggestions?

5. Under-enrolled schools: What programs do you think would attract families to Madrona? AS1?

6. How to address overcrowding at Garfield? (many options given here, from eliminating open choice seats to adding another APP school to adding portables to redrawing boundaries to having a split schedule).

When we were in our small group, a woman representing Community & Parents for Public Schools (?) came up to drum up some business for that organization, giving us a 2-page questionnaire about what's working and not working with SPS.

Hope this is helpful. Again, I'm curious to see if any group discussions or decisions happened after I left.

SolvayGirl said...

Ever out of area kid I know who got into Garfield (4) were siblings. I don't know anyone who was not.

Susan said...

Link to summary of meeting from SPS web site:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/implementation/11_8_10_rainer_beach_hs_meeting.pdf

Susan said...

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/implementation/11_8_10_rainer_beach_hs_meeting.pdf

Not sure why first link didn't appear in entirety. Trying again.

Maureen said...

Here's a live link to the District summary of remarks for the Rainer Beach High School Meeting.

Melissa Westbrook said...

They need to define if the 10% high school choice seats are 10% of freshman class or entire school. They have gone back and forth in what they say.

SolvayGirl said...

Absolutely Melissa...and 10% of planned capacity, or 10% of incoming attendance students (that would definitely be a moving target!)?

Dorothy Neville said...

I do not understand this 10% of freshmen vs 10% of school issue. Seems that if one wants 10% overall, then one must start with 10% of the freshmen, and then after four years, 10% of the school would be choice.

If you have a school for 1600 HS kids, 400 per grade level, then if one starts off by saying we have 160 open seats for choice, then would they accept 160 choice freshmen? No. that would end up with 40% of the school being kids that got in under choice.

I do think the definition of 10% needs to be cleaned up and made transparent. I also think that for kids applying for non-entry level grades there should be some element of choice, but that seems different from what you are saying.

So please help me, what am I missing? Seems to me 10% of the freshman class is exactly the same as saying 10% of the school, over time. But not everyone seems to conclude the same way, so what am I missing?

Dorothy Neville said...

I was at the audit committee meeting.

Much of it was devoted to finishing up their pass through the audit response log. I summarized that here.

Three items to raise eyebrows. The ethics policy violation, the APP transportation letter, and please note the response to the final item, Accountability Exit Item 8 (AE8). Does this seem like a reasonable solution?

SolvayGirl said...

I don't see how the District can keep guaranteeing 10% of the Freshman Class (if that is really how they come up with that number) unless it's based on planned capacity.

If for whatever reason a school gets dozens more in-area Freshman than anticipated, how can it then guarantee 10% spots for kids from outside the area without ending up with, in most cases, an overcrowded school? Again, it creates a moving target.

Can't SPS figure a school's capacity (400 Freshman, say) then use 10% of that number (40) and say that's it? Then if 500 in-area Freshman show up, there would still only be 40 out-of-area kids, and NOT 50, adding to the crowding.

Honestly, I'd love for my child to have access at a popular school, but not at the expense of all the other kids who end up in over-crowded classrooms. That overcrowding will end up affecting the quality of the education.

WV: fists, what we don't want this blog to come down to—verbal or otherwise.

Maureen said...

Melissa, can you explain your 10% reasoning? I'm with Dorothy: 40 in each class = 160 over the whole school over four years. I can't imagine they would say 10%=160 every year, is that the distinction?

(Assuming 400 per class, 1600 in the whole school).

And I'm with Solvay, there should be a standard number based on capacity--not a number that goes up with the number of neighborhood kids who enroll.

Dorothy, thanks for the Audit summary.

So he (deBell) wants to visit the ethics policy and make sure we follow something more like the city and are clear about indirect financial interest (but we already do, just nobody had a copy of it then and therefore the discussion stayed vague and theoretical).

So no one could pull it off the website and read it to the rest of them?

And Holly Ferguson didn't know that MG_J didn't disclose her Board position until AFTER the NEA contract was signed. Wow.

Unknown said...

SolvayGirl -- I agree that the 10% set aside may well result in an overcrowded school in years when more students than expected come from attendance areas. I'm not sure that, from the District's perspective, this really is a problem.

Parents want everything. They want to select their school and they want that school to include exactly what they think belongs there. The truth is, though, that one school probably can't be perfect, and the District is forcing parents to choose between alternatives.

E.G - lot's of people seem to want Garfield. The District is willing to let an awful lot of them go there, but that, in turn, means it will be overcrowded. So the family has a choice -- do I want to get into Garfield, even though it's really crowded which might impact my student's class choice or my student's ability to get onto sports teams or whatever. Or will I, instead, opt for my second choice school, which isn't nearly as perfect as Garfield, but which has other strengths, and isn't overcrowded.

I suspect that the District anticipates that some, at least, will opt for their second choice, which will, in turn, lower overcrowding at the A-list school.

Personally, I like forcing that choice. I get sick of the entitlement mentality that you hear all too frequently that the haves should get it all, and screw the lowly who have to suffer at the inferior schools. By way of example -- those who feel that at their school, three levels of orchestra are critical and need to be kept at all costs, and if there's no string players left to support a real music program at another school, who really cares?

Jan said...

Rosie:

I agree that we can't really have everything. Even if all schools are excellent (they are not -- but let's assume they are for this discussion), they will never be identical, and someone wanting the best drama/musical program will be at a school that has a regular one, someone who wants the full blown orchestra will be at a school with a start up orchestra, etc.

But, I disagree that the district should use overcrowding to "force" the issue. That unfairly shifts to the kids the brunt of decisions that the adults are paid (well) to make. Not enough room at Garfield? Well, the District needs to grow a pair, and make the hard boundary decisions so that the population works (and the population of some other, underenrolled school works better as well.) Otherwise, we should just fire the lot of them, open enrollment entirely at all schools, and let the parents and kids duke it out for resources. Eventually, it will all work out, right? I am only partly kidding here. If they intend to "manage" this by just allowing for chaos and overcrowding to rule until enough parents flee, what are we paying all this money, and spending all this time, for the NSAP for? If that is truly the District's game -- it is flat out pathetic.

And, as for orchestra, it is not the zero sum game you make it out to be. Lots of musical minds a lot brighter than mine have developed the multi-tiered orchestra/band/jazz band levels that exist at RHS, GHS, Washington and (maybe?) Hamilton and at a host of other area high schools (Shorecrest, Edmonds Woodway, Newport, etc.). The solution to the problems of other schools isn't to kill the geese presently laying golden eggs for hundreds of our kids. It is to roll up our sleeves and do the necessary work to start successful programs elsewhere. I have no doubt that if the ONLY huge program now existed at Roosevelt -- many people would be concluding that the Roosevelt program represented maximum musical capacity for the District, and that it should be dismantled and "shared" around at other schools, like some plate of devilled eggs. Well, there are 2 big programs (maybe more, depending on what is going on at Ballard and Sealth) -- and growing ones elsewhere. I have been around youth music in Seattle now for almost 20 years. There are plenty of other talented and interested musical kids to populate other music programs (and the multiple levels that are required to compete in state, regional, and national competitions). We just need to make it happen.

Unknown said...

Jan,

The district posted a whole series of proposed changes to boundaries earlier this week that are geared towards relieving the overcrowding at Garfield. (They're at the same page as the posted "geo zones" for the options schools.)

My prediction? Parents are going to scream bloody murder. I can hear it now: "the nerve of the District to consider moving the border for Ballard from 85th to 80th. We have 'the right' to go to Ballard, and will never step foot in that ghetto Ingraham." "Redistricted into Franklin, just so more APP kids can squeeze into Garfield? Over my dead body." "Rainier Beach? They've got to be kidding."

What I'm saying is that the District is doing just exactly what you think they should be doing -- acting like grownups and proposing very unpopular changes to the boundaries. Now, let's sit back and watch the parents decimate the idea. Because, as I said in my original post -- we want it all. There is no ability to compromise or to consider the bigger, District-wide issues. Or if it's not a lack of ability, it's a lack of willingness to do so.

ParentofThree said...

I don't think they will move the boundry lines at GHS, they will remove APP students. A smaller group of parents that they will have to listen "scream."

Jan said...

Rosie: I think your description of the "meetings to come" is pretty accurate. Grim, but accurate. But I still think it is the District's job to propose what it thinks is the best solution (bearing in mind that it created this problem last year by refusing to take on the unpleasant issues then) and solve them. I think District administrators were craven cowards last year -- presented data that they knew, or should have known, was wrong or underdeveloped, and KNEW they were creating problems that would require a second fix -- to falsely generate support for an unworkable NSAP. I think they have made commitments that they will now renege on, because they have no shame, and no honor -- but I still think it is there problem to deal with the problem they have created.

How not to be where they are? If they had come in, in year one, and really WORKED the SE Initiative -- given the school some great programs, seriously reduced class size and beefed up academic and other support to kids there, dealt with what I have heard are discipline issues (if those rumors are correct), and made meaningful improvements to Ingraham, they could have drawn decent, defensible boundaries after three years. They might not have been wildly popular, but they would have been more popular than they are now -- and the District would have tons of cred for actually walking the walk, and not just talking the talk. But they didn't, and here we are, watching parent groups claw and tear in a zero sum game that didn't have to happen.

Also -- I don't believe that asking the District to NOT dismantle programs that are working is asking to "have it all" -- whether the programs are APP, orchestra, the Ballard Montessori preschool program, the Roosevelt LA electives, or any number of other programs that MGJ has destroyed in her quest to reform Seattle schools. We pay this woman a fortune. She needs to start growing successful new programs, not just dividing and/or killing the ones that already exist. SSD had many problems before MGJ arrived. As far as I can see, she has fixed none of them, and added many more. I am not looking forward to watching parents argue over the scraps, but I hugely blame the Board and MGJ for bringing such a paltry basket of goods to the table.

Maureen said...

I attended the NE NSAP Transition last night.

If any of the parents who are concerned about sibling issues are reading this, I wanted to let you know that I have had a, somewhat more constructive, thought that didn't occur to me in our group discussion.

You may already be pursuing this but I didn't hear it discussed. I think you should approach the Board with the idea that you should be allowed to work out your own multiple school sibling trades. The idea is that if you have an assignment to View Ridge, but you want Bryant, there is probably someone at Bryant who would love to be at View Ridge. The two families should be allowed to file a sort of joint assignment application and trade spots. PTAs could facilitate this. Of course, that probably doesn't help someone who gets assigned to McDonald or Sandpoint (unless you worked up a bogus trade with someone who knows they are going private--but you didn't hear that from me.)

The only other constructive idea I can think of is strongly advocating for a 'pull' program (like immersion) to go into Sandpoint. Sorry, but the suggestion that the borders should be redrawn so sibs can fit was not appealing to me (and more importantly, not very realistic I think.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I get sick of the entitlement mentality that you hear all too frequently that the haves should get it all, and screw the lowly who have to suffer at the inferior schools."

Who says this stuff? I have never heard one person ever say "Screw those people near low-performing schools - I've got mine." Never.

There shouldn't be overcrowding at all. Fit the boundaries right and there won't be. End of story. But the district knew what would happen at Garfield and did nothing. And it wasn't about sports, it was about having a full class schedule.

If the district's answer to Garfield is to throw out APP students (except for those who live in that attendance area), well, okay but again, they knew this would happen. They want other parents to rise up against APP and say that's the best thing to do. Ballard has had its boundaries bounced around but Ingraham still isn't full.

More on this in a separate thread.

Dorothy Neville said...

"The idea is that if you have an assignment to View Ridge, but you want Bryant, there is probably someone at Bryant who would love to be at View Ridge. The two families should be allowed to file a sort of joint assignment application and trade spots. PTAs could facilitate this."

Maureen, I love you and all, but this makes me really squeamish. I think perhaps you have such a high view of folks, such optimism, that it seems like a workable plan.

Me, I see resentment, backbiting, lobbying PTAs for favors, cliques and corruption. Those in the know getting moved and those not in the know then finding out and getting really bitter.

But hell, what's wrong with a little corruption? A friend who has had multiple kids at Garfield (more than two) is A) ticked that youngest child still there has to deal with the crowds and didn't get a full schedule until the end of September and B) completely nonchalant about cheaters at GHS. Said that all her kids including the ones that have graduated knew and were friends with multiple address cheaters that don't even live in Seattle. NBD. So she doubts the attendance boundaries being too big is the issue, just more cheaters.

Maureen said...

Dorothy, you may be right, it just seems so inefficient that there could be two kids in seats at two high demand schools that would both be better off if they could switch. The McDonald/Sandpoint thing I intended as tongue in cheek--or at least acknowledging that it could be abused. That might be a good enough reason not to allow it.