Second Part of Last Wednesday's Work Session on the Transition Plan

Time got away from me but here's the rest of what my notes reflect from last Wednesday's Transition plan Work Session. (I am writing this under duress as my heart is very heavy after yesterday's Audit and Finance Committee meeting which Dorothy and I both attended. It was so disheartening. I will write that thread today.)

Kathy Johnson of Facilities went through a long explanation of our policy on functional capacity and how other districts figure this. She said that OSPI doesn't keep any stats or have a rec on capacity calculations which I find interesting. For the record here is what the district is stating (now) as functional capacity:

Functional Capacity at SPS is the target number of actual students that can be assigned to a school; accounting for school programmatic elements based on student demographics and service needs. Central Office calculation based on uniform space utiliation assumptions such as class size, homerooms and PCP offerings. SPS includes portables in capacity calculations. F/C is not how the school chooses to use their space. (italics theirs)

Note there are two slides for functional capacity: Slides 9 and 10. Slide 10 talks about how it is applied to buildings.

She mentioned that some other districts like Lake Washington are going to a K-6 model. She also said other nearby districts had declining enrollment except for Lake Washington (they will have 425 students more over the next 5 years).

What was interesting were the definitions from the National Center for Education Statistics (2005):
  • overcrowded - larger than design capacity from 6-25%+
  • at capacity - within 5% of designed capacity
  • under capacity - enrollment is less than design capacity by 6-25%+
  • secondary schools are more likely to be overcrowded than elementaries
  • doesn't include portables/modular in base design capacity
There was a handout of 2008 and 2010 (no I don't know why 2009 isn't there) Building Functional Capacity. There was also one for 2010-2011.

Steve: I have schools in my district that feel full and wonder how to accommodate additional students next year. They understand keeping full but the question is how many central office wants versus school's wants. Amen, brother. It is hard when a school is used to having a couple of rooms for other purposes and how full is full?

Kathy said they resolve that working together. She said the Executive Directors will be working with principals on that issue.

Then there was a weird interchange with Sherry asking about changes in numbers (Hamilton dropping 50 seats. Don Kennedy said that they wouldn't have an explanation until Fall (2011). Kathy jumped in to say they will have it in January but not a "data run-thru".

Steve: on boundary requests, we set an overarching design to hold boundaries until 2015. Mr. Kennedy said they should try not to do any changes in year one or two and see how it goes.

Tracy stated that the deliverables - enrollment report - will have a capacity management report and the NSAP transition plan and in April/May the Board will be asked to vote on criteria for making changes.

Kathy referred to Slide 13 - Sample Metrics (where the type is so small as to be unreadable).

Michael said he would be strongly against moving towards 110-120%. He said there would be significant disruption in the academic environment.

Kathy said the idea is to get head of it - to see the trend coming.

Steve: on Madison, communities in West Seattle are trying to figure this out. Are we beyond boundary fixes and have to add new capacity? (Note; that means a new building or renovated building)

Tracy said in creating the Transition Plan for 2011-2012, to "beware of unintended consequences".

So the vibe I got was that staff realized that there are growing pains to the NSAP but that they are reluctant to do anything big. However, then we got to Garfield.

There was no discussion of the district knowing this was coming and not having a plan. Ideas include:
  • split schedules (Auburn and Eastlake School districts are doing this). They said next Wednesday (which would be today the 8th) there would be 3 possible scenarios presented and a letter to the community would go out.
  • Optional program at Ingraham.
  • changing the boundaries (there were maps outlining the various changes)
Sherry said there was growth in the north (RHS and BHS) but what about Cleveland assumptions.

Steve said that a split schedule seemed like a mitigation point to him and would be transitional.

Kay pointed out that expanding Nova's geographical zone would do little as Nova is full. She said she would rather push south with Garfield's boundary than north. Betty concurred.

Kay seemed to think the student might like the split schedule and the opportunities it affords.

Sherry also seemed to lean towards pushing the boundaries south. She liked the idea of the APP/IB strand at Ingraham. She said that moving more students into RBHS would reinforce the need for good programming.

Michael said Map F would be precluded and that the problem is to ind balance across all the schools and that RBHS is the challenge. He said the district needs to have a convincing case for families to move to RBHS and that's what the boundary change could do. He said Franklin is full at 9th grade. He agrees with Harium who said the boundary changes should be their last choice.

Tracy said she was hearing good informational feedback from the directors and it was what she needed.

And here, dear readers, is where I left after sitting through nearly 6 hours of meetings that day. So I missed the discussion of:
  • tiebreakers for schools and programs
  • Non-Attendance Area K sibs
  • geographic zones for Option schools
  • HS open seats
  • Sequencing of applications processing
  • Transportation
  • Program placement
Someone who was there - anything of significance here? Did they make it thru the list?

One thing to comment on is the Slide for high school open seats (slide 49) is what the heck is this?

Basically, it would be for 25% of 9th/10th graders of school's functional capacity, if 11th/12th grades is more than 50% of functional capacity, reduce the open seats target so that total enrollment is not greater than 100% functional capacity. They would publish a minimum target of open choice seats at each school each year and it would be a minimum of 10% of 9th/10th grade target enrollment (unless the school's enrollment is already at its functional capacity. The minimums would not change based on changes in attendance area population. May have more than the published minimum if attendance area residents are less than 90% of target enrollment.

Did you read all the way thru that? Why??? It's nonsense, of course and every single middle school parent should push back on it. What kind of voodoo is this? Pick a number and stick with it.


Jet City mom said…
I am writing this under duress as my heart is very heavy after yesterday's Audit and Finance Committee meeting which Dorothy and I both attended. It was so disheartening. I will write that thread today.

Melissa, I want to express my deep appreciation for the work that you & the others on this blog are doing. I understand how difficult it is & how frustrating. Your stubbornness despite stonewalling by the district is inspiring.

I imagine you already know about this site, but just in case others have missed it- we aren't alone in pushing back against the reform agenda.

Not waiting for Superman

She said the Executive Directors will be working with principals on that issue.

Working with..- is one of their answers for everything- do we ever get a followup report on how that is going?
Chris S. said…
Well, I stayed to the end even though I didn't intend to. Sorry, I should have taken notes. Maureen, maybe?

I can add that not only did Kathy Johnson say "will be working with principals," she said they "WERE working with principals" (ha!)and that they would be perfectly willing to return for another "walkthru" if anyone disagreed with their number.

She also said "PCP" space was not counted in functional capacity. So what is the definition of PCP space?
Maureen said…
I do have lots of notes and I'll try to post them soon. (too bad I didn't type them at the time!)

Chris, PCP space would be the rooms used by whichever teacher/activity has been designated in the schedule for PCP (teacher “Preparation, Conference and Planning”) time. That varies from school to school, sometimes it's art or music, sometimes PE or library. It's where the kids go during the chunk of time teachers get every day to go copy EDM handouts and answer parent emails.
Charlie Mas said…
For a preview, take a look at the District's Audit Response Log, which was updated yesterday.

A number of the updates were to push out the due dates for the work that was supposed to be done by now but has yet to be done.

The Board is probably the worst actor in this. The Board hasn't done the work that they need to do in response to the audit. They haven't taken the steps they need to take to step up their governance.

When will the Board step up and demand the annual reports that Policy requires them to demand and review? When will the Board step up and insist on timely responses to their requests for information? When will the Board develop some means for enforcing policy?
ParentofThree said…
Anybody hear the piece on KUOW this morning about AS1? Little tidbit in there about how the super does not need board approval to close a school if the building is going to be used for another program. So she can close the program, not the school, and there isn't anything the board can do about it.

That leaves TOPS, Salmon Bay and any other non-cookie cutter program pretty exposed.
Anonymous said…
Did they give any reason for why elementary functional capacity increased from 24 to 25 students in a classroom? In Jan. 2009 they used 24 students in a classroom.

Was it mentioned why Northgate got 2 portables? Historically, Northgate has been underenrolled.

A parent
Chris S. said…
Kathy Johnson did say class size was a factor in functional capacity, and some changes reflected that. How class size changes, I don't know, but I have heard it is limited by the teachers contract.

And no, Northgate was not mentioned at all.

Regarding PCP space, how would one explain a scenario where the gym, which would qualify as PCP space, is used for a class (homeroom & study hall), yet the school is under 100% capacity?
Charlie Mas said…
I heard the story on AS#1 on KUOW this morning.

I thought it did a good job of revealing both sides of the question.
wave said…
Slides 31-34 -- tiebreakers for Montessori, Spectrum, APP. Why would there even be a discussion of tiebreakers for APP? I thought that you're guaranteed a spot in APP if you test in? Has that changed?
lendlees said…
David-I'm guessing the APP tiebreaker is for those students who wish to attend a different elementary or middle school than their attendance one.

So, let's say a Lowell walk zone family would rather attend Hamilton than Washington, they would get in via lottery.
A Parent, I didn't hear any direct questions about class size. What is on the draft of the 2008-2010 Functional Capacity is 24 students for elementary in 2008 and 25 for 2010.

For high school they had 28 students for core subjects in 2008 and 30 for 2010.

Also, they claim Ballard's FC goes from 1550-1635, up 85 students. Garfield FC goes from 1508 to 1638, up 130. Roosevelt FC goes from 1606 to 1785, up 179. Really?

Look, I know from Facilities records that Garfield and Roosevelt were each built to hold roughly 1600 students. They KNOW what size they built to. They knew what each room in that building had been built for. Yes, if you took over the counselors office and the nurses office and the teachers lounge, sure, you'd get a lot more kids in. But that's nonsense.

But class size doesn't matter according to Dr. G-J.
wave said…
Ah, that makes sense lendlees - thanks
Sahila said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maureen said…
Sorry to go off topic, but does anyone know who is testifying in front of the Board about PreK-3rd grade tonight? I didn't catch her name (Susan Enfield introduced her).
Engineer Dad said…
Steve Sundquist Muses: "I have schools in my district that feel full and wonder how to accommodate additional students next year. They understand keeping full but the question is how many central office wants versus school's wants."

Yeah, right. We just heard the AM that he plans on overpacking one school in his (our) district with a functional capacity of 325 (400 - including portables) to a whopping 500+ students. Essentially, he wants to kill the school's successful program by drowning it in students. The school's PTSA is outraged. They loathe him.

Wait until the Seattle Building Dept. walks in one day at lunch or an assembly and says - "Sorry, you are over this facility's capacity for toilets and sinks. And, this lunchroom is over occupancy load."

Fight them with building codes folks.

Hint to the rest of you over-crowded schools: The Seattle Fire and Building Depts. are your best friend. Call them on the day your school plans an assembly or during lunch. Tell someone at the Mayor's office that you want an unannounced inspection. The SFD will be there. They are very aware of the over-crowding issues arising of late in some Seattle Schools.

BTW: The lead testing the District did was bogus, The test labs let the water run for 20 minutes prior to drawing samples. We witnessed this my son's school. They did not meet EPA protocols for lead testing.

Engineer Dad
Engineer Dad, good tips, good thinking.
Anonymous said…
Engineer Dad,

Are you confident about this? A few of the NE schools that were crazy over-crowded tried this route and the only thing that happened was that all of a sudden the capacity signs in the cafeterias just disappeared.

Signs that had read 330 capacity were just gone one day and you could just see the fresh paint that was behind the old sign.

Kathy Johnson was grilled on this multiple times and she just kept answering that the rules for schools were different because the code for when the building went into use applied.

- no I am not kidding.
SP said…
Reminder- SAP meeting TODAY

The next Student Assignment Transition Workshop Board meeting is this afternoon 12/09 from 4:00-7:00pm (a change only mentioned at the end of the 12/01 meeting).
Maureen said…
Thanks, Seattle Parent, have you seen an agenda or powerpoint posted anywhere? I don't see it on the Board page and they went all the way through the last set on 12/1.
SP said…
Yes, that's where the agendas have been posted before (at your link), but the last 12/01 meeting's agenda wasn't posted until just 45 minutes before the meeting. Even some the Board members did not get a chance to read it (all 62 pages) before the meeting.

That also was the first notice that the district had pulled all of the West Seattle "Feeder Pattern" concerns & options off of the table, without any Board discussion or notice as to why these were removed. The Board members had to specifically request that it be brought back into the discussion.

So, who is really running the show here? Tracy Libros is always so careful to say, "The district will do whatever the Board orders us to..."
SP said…
Concerning the moving target of Functional Capacity-

From the PowerPoint presentation we were told that "Functional Capacity" was a unique term from SPS, that it can change annually, and is the target number of actual students that can be assigned to a school. SPS also says that it includes portables in the capacity calculations.

Functional Capacity can change as much as 30% from year to year, apparently!

Check out the 2015 Functional Capacities (as listed most recently in the SAP's "Key Facts & Data", chapter 1.
Then compare with the 2008 & 2010 Functional Capacity numbers released from the district at the 12/01/10 work meeting.

For example:
West Seattle Elementary
2008-09 356
2010-10 320
2015 445

There are no notes listed under "changes since 2008-09 to explain how these numbers can vary so much. I thought that the SAP was supposed to be predictable and stable, for families to be able to understand?

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