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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Attended the NE Regional Meeting Last Night

I attended the NE Regional Meeting on the NSAP transition plan last night. I estimated at least 65 people in attendance. Tracy Libros of Enrollment led the meeting with Phil Brockman, NE Executive Director for the NE there as well as Ann Chan, the new Chief Talent Officer (although I note that the district doesn't label that office as such). I would have loved to talk with her about TFA but not enough time.

I did manage to hand out information about TFA to about 25 people and only one of them had heard of it (and he was a teacher). I had to leave before the "reports out" but here's what I wrote Tracy:
  • I think maybe you should not do as big/long an overview. I think parents were confused and it seemed to take a lot of time. It's not that it wasn't good information but I think parents want the time to ask questions and/or discuss.
  • I think the number of transition plan topics are too many. I think you should be asking about geographic zones, open choice seats, and capacity and building management/utilization. I think asking parents, especially in other regions, about West Seattle or Rainier Beach or Garfield isn't going to help you or them. I think the majority of parents want to know about the zones, the open choice seats, non-attendance area siblings but most of all how we are going to face capacity management are really the key issues.
  • Which brings me to the discussion tables. My suggestion is to scale back the topics (see above and depending on region) and then ask people if they want to self-divide into one topic tables. I got the feeling from my table that some people really wanted to suss out middle/high school capacity issues. It might get you some better info/suggestions if people do want to concentrate their efforts in this way. You could still have a couple of tables where any/all topics could be discussed.
  • Also, I thought you were pretty clear about the non-attendance area sibling issue and surge capacity being maxed out but maybe you should just state what you did say last night and tell people that's it. Meaning, you said that there is no ability to do more surge capacity this school year BUT that some attendance area sibs do get in. Then say, we really can't and won't be able to do more. Because while I see it wasn't on the topic list, it came up anyway and I didn't know how to tell this guy that there wasn't much more that could be done.
I think it might help to say that this NSAP is going to continue to be a work in progress. There's nothing that can be done about that. You took in more students than you had anticipated and that kind of surge is just another thing to be worked into this plan. It is almost a living, breathing entity.

I am hoping that things might be tweaked by the next meeting. I really think there might be more useful information/suggestions to come out of these meetings for both the Board and the staff if there were more time for questions/discussion, fewer table topics, and one-topic tables for those who want to discuss just one thing (with a couple of tables for those who want to discuss all topics).

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was at the meeting and it was really quite embarrassing from my point of view. The district folks couldn't/didn't answer one question directly. The questions were reasonable. Garfield folks wondering why issues there weren't being addressed, why the boundary lines were so narrow in some cases and large in others, what was the district going to actually do to address the amazing shortfall of middle school seats north of the ship canal, why is Thornton Creek being asked to house 10 portables and destroy their successful program (and be in possible health code violation), why is Sand Point so underenrolled while the neighboring schools are bursting at the seems...

The list went on. No real answers. One person, I think a teacher, asked for the district to truly participate in community engagement and provide some answers or follow up to the common threads of the evening. District folks said that would be difficult to achieve. Makes you wonder...

wseadawg said...

Of course the district folks can't honestly or sincerely answer the community questions, because they are entirely too busy and preoccupied with far too many district led initiatives all going on at one time.

The community's needs and desires do not trump the desires of the Ed Reformers. Those go first.

This will not change one bit until MGJ and several Board members are gone.

Anonymous said...

From the PG & E self reflection rubric the district evaluates its teachers on:
Professional Responsibilities, 4c:
Unsatisfactory:
The teacher’s communication with families about the instructional program or about individual students is sporadic or culturally inappropriate. The teacher makes no attempt to engage families in the instructional program.
Basic:
The teacher adheres to school procedures for communicating with families and makes modest attempts to engage families in the instructional program. But communications are not always appropriate to the cultures of those families.
Proficient:
The teacher communicates frequently with families and successfully engages them in the instructional program. Information to families about individual students is conveyed in a culturally appropriate manner.
Innovative:
The teacher’s communication with families is frequent and sensitive to cultural traditions; students participate in the communication. The teacher successfully engages families in the instructional program, as appropriate.

-goose

Eric B said...

Does anyone know of projections of future high school enrollment based on current boundaries? This is really the key to driving the boundary changes.

For example, Ingraham's student population is in quite a bit of flux. The total attendance numbers aren't changing much, but grades 10-12 have about 30% of students living in the current assignment area, while grade 9 has about 60%. Does this mean that the school will fill up over time? If so, does it make sense to move assignment area from Ballard to Ingraham or parachute in APP students?

Anything they put out now won't be right, just because there's a lot of uncertainty. But any data is better than no data.

Thanks!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, my table had a discussion about this and it proved a little circular because (1) the functional capacity of a building changes with the program (or district whim), (2) the district seems to be not so good at forecasting populations and (3) if we did have a new high school, its location might dictate what the boundary shifts might be. Given that we couldn't bring any new building on-line in less than 3 years (if we had to redo Lincoln, it could be 3 years but a new building, that would be far off).

So the district really has people tied up in knots because we have no real data except for the October numbers to go on.

Eric B said...

I guess what I'm asking for is a projection that says something like:

Last year the following happened:
X% of SPS 8th graders became 9th graders.
Y% of 8th graders in their neighborhood school (and Z% went to these other schools).
We have how ever many 6th, 7th, and 8th graders this year.

If all of these percentages hold constant, we can expect a certain number of high school students at each school from our current 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes.

The percentages won't hold constant, but it's the only way we're going to get halfway reasonable data. If I had the source data, I'd do the math myself in a day or two. Unfortunately, I don't have the source data readily at hand and it would be a heck of a lot easier for SPS to do it.