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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Additional Board Meeting Notes

I started this in Charlie's thread's comment section but it got too long. So, to add to the discussion, here are my notes (I left as Charlie arrived).

From my notes:

-the Board office has two new hires so both Joan Dingfield and Pam Oakes are gone. I'll miss them; they are nice people. One new thing; the addition of the first 5+ people on the waitlist to the agenda so you can get an idea of where you might be on the waitlist

-Lots of energy from TOPS parents who very calmly and clearly explained their issue about transportation. Over 50% of their students will lose their transportation, mostly from the southend. They are asking for a community stop model for buses so their students can continue on. Their hope is for the district to fulfill this request for 3 years. (This time request has something to do with a promise the district made, I believe.)

- it was pointed out that a member of the BEX Oversight Committee is doing business with the district and this has not been disclosed (this from watchdog Chris Jackins).

-I spoke on various issues including the West Seattle amendment. I feel like they could have waited until RBHS's IB program was in place (if there is so much room at Sealth). But with Ingraham's IB likely to fill from APP students, I have to wonder if Sealth's might fill more rapidly. It is interesting that this amendment, which really is very region directed, passed so easily. I have not seen that kind of regional protection very often in the past.

- Then there were the Area 4 parents. What I can gather (because I haven't seen a map) is that Area 4 is a small area in the Central district where about 17 families live and have found themselves buffeted around by the NSAP. (Well, first it was closing TT Minor, MLK, Jr., etc.) They talked about needing cohesiveness to build a school community. One father was particularly effective in stating - very calmly - how they came within 12 hours of having the rug pulled out from under them. As well, he stated that the Stevens and Madrona principals and heads of PTSA had no advance notice of the amendment by Director Smith-Blum (which had been withdrawn before the meeting).

-MGJ announced it was School Board recognition month and recognized the Board.

-Sherry Carr said that the next Budget Work Session will have more OSPI categories and that should make it clearer what areas they are considering for cuts. She also said that she had heard some SPS employees did not feel valued during the discussion over the budget but wanted to acknowledge that they appreciate and acknowledge the hard work of all employees (but yes, cuts will come).

- Most interesting item for me - JANUARY 29th at 4 p.m. the State Auditor will do the exit interview for the loooog awaited capital management audit. It is a public event and I expect it to be beyond interesting. Sherry said she didn't know why it wasn't on the calendar at the end of the agenda (one guess).

-Director DeBell stated that there is to be some sort of report on the SE Initiative (and pointed out this started before most everyone sitting up there had come). He said the "work did not meet the expectations of this Board member" but that they learned from what was done. Ah, but what did they learn?

-Sherry has add a 2nd community meeting for the month this Saturday (the 22d) at 8:30 a.m. at Bethany Church (across from Bagley Elementary). Peter Maier is having one there as well at 10:30 so it's practically a two'fer.

-Kay ruefully said that she will never propose a boundary amendment during a full moon again. I think she really learned a lesson on this one.

-Steve gave a shout out to the South Seattle Foundation which gave 26 mini-grants worth $20k to SPS teachers.

-when asked about how the issue of TC and Salmon Bay would be solved (how many years will they do a one-year fix), Phil Brockman was brought to the podium to mention working with AS#1. This led to Michael saying that AS#1 doesn't have the same pedagogy as TC or Salmon Bay.

-on the professional development waiver, quite the show. Michael said:

I feel quite uncomfortable with the direction of trading off professional development for instruction time for our students. I can't support this resolution. We really have to examine this, this is a Faustian bargain. We are keenly aware of the benefits of extended teaching times especially for low-income students. These were models discussed during the work session previous to this meeting with extended day as the centerpiece. What we are preparing here is backing down from the 180 days that we nomially are supposed to provide in our state which is the lowest of any industrial nation. Most have them have 200+ days. This is the wrong direction and in some cases is not even 170 days of instruction and yet all the research tell us we should be providing more like 200 days.

Harium:
I agree with Director DeBell for core values kind of place that the idea of racing to the bottom of the amount of days our students have.

Sherry asked about why C&I approved this and the answer was that it was approved to move onto the Board, not in agreement with it.

Then there was a whole dance (one I have seen before so I knew what was coming). Steve said he understood the sentiments and agreed BUT we are contractually obligated to 3 waiver days for the next 2 years. He said well, we could table it.

Then they had one legal counsel come forth and explain this but really, I'm not sure we have to do it quite like he said. I think SEA might be willing to find common ground on this but there was not ONE mention of even asking them.

Peter then tag-teamed Steve and said well, what's the timetable? Oh gosh, says the lawyer, the Board of Education needs this by March (excuse me, there's two Board meetings in Feb.; they could table it). So if you don't do this now, it'll be May for the Board of Ed and then the district calendar, blah, blah, dogs and cats living together.

Our lead counsel then pointed out they could go into Executive Session or schedule one as this was an HR matter.

Harium then promptly withdrew his high-minded objection and said he would vote for it.

Steve brightly suggested that they could go into Executive Session right then but he knew no one was going to go for it. No one moved to table it. They voted and only Michael said no.

This has happened before with Peter and Steve. They look quite reasonable and are just "clarifying" but it always turns out "gotta get it done."

12 comments:

Dorothy Neville said...

One point on the Waiver discussion. The state ed board requires applications to be made 50 days before their meeting. So if they tabled this discussion for the next board session, they would miss the March meeting date and therefore the state would not look at (and grant?) the waiver until May. That was the main reason for not tabling the motion until the next school board meeting.

wsnorth said...

Why do you keep going on about West Seattle? "I have not seen that kind of regional protection very often in the past."

Well, it is here now all over the place.

Garfield area residents just got a free pass anywhere in the district, right? Why not one little bone for us in West Seattle. I think Chief Sealth had ONE or TWO open seats this year. Basically, it is full (with room in the 11 - 12 grades).

Students who live in the Central School, Nova, or STEM area just got a free pass, too, right? They happen to live by those "option" schools, so they get first dibs on good/improving schools. APP students, bless them, now have choice at Garfield or Ingraham. Of course, Roosevelt, Ballard, and Garfield area folks have an easy local choice.

Fair's fair, give me a break!

Local is good and green. Bussing kids all over the place is ridiculous. Those yellow busses use a lot of gasoline and belch a lot of pollutants into the air.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anyone can go to Nova. Ditto Cleveland. And it's Center, not Central.

You know who you left out, WS North; SE kids. Where are the choices for RBHS? Once again, they get left out. That's the point. And, passing that amendment AND the APP move to Ingraham almost assures Franklin, RBHS and Cleveland no access to IB. That's fair?

joanna said...

Area 4 = 151 students. It is not clear if that is the total or if it is the total that attend Stevens. The entire area South of Madison currently assigned to Stevens. This is many more than 17 families. Remember there was maybe a day to get the word out and organize.

joanna said...

151 students = total number of students in area 4.

zb said...

I complained about the Garfield opt out, too. As others have said, my suspicion is that this isn't going to get folks much (as with the Admirial opt in) and that's why no one is thinking too hard about it.

The problem with these tweaks about neighborhood attendance areas is that they fundamentally alter the simplicity of the NSAP. Now we have the additional tweak that if you live in two specific attendance areas (Garfield's & a portion of West Seattle) in addition to your attendance area school you have special privileges at another school. Well, and presumably only if you participate in early enrollment (so this option won't be available to some group of people who move into the area after open enrollment). It's drift back to the complications of the old choice system. And that was my biggest complaint about the old choice system.

(I'm not as ruffled about the APP tweaking or the geo zones, because those concern special programs, and options, by definitions).

joanna said...

High school students generally use Metro, and few yellow buses. Cleveland maybe an exception. I am not sure what has been the final plan there.

Anonymous said...

Steve "The Tool" Sundquist has made a name for himself, lobbing softball "clarifying" questions to staff that he already knows the answer to. His supercilious handling of WS parent concerns is truly insulting.

Mr. Ed

joanna said...

I am disturbed by the way much of the transitions NSAP is being handled. Much of it no longer seems like transition but permanent changes. Most feel less upset when it serves a purpose that they may support. A good solid vision is necessary to make neighborhood schools work with some options. I'm not feeling that foundation here.

Politics trumps logic which I guess is unavoidable when dealing with people. So then goes the world. I believe the adjustment allowing Garfield students first dibs at any high school was scrapped. It did not make sense.

joanna said...

Having to do so much simple math looking at maps to check the actual number of students and spaces in all the areas is tiresome. The lack of good easy to read information is disturbing. I'm sorry it begins to feel like that excess space is being created in some areas and that capitol dollars are being squandered on the dance of opening and closing schools. If these are going to work the district must plan to occasionally adjust facilities to accommodate larger cyclic populations if necessary. Families do not deserve these constant changes.

There are many regular citizens out here that could tell much of this was not being well designed, and very little of the information that is driving the changes is in anyway new.

SP said...

Joanna said:
"I believe the adjustment allowing Garfield students first dibs at any high school was scrapped."

Did this really happen in the final vote? In the Transition Plan/2nd revision which came out just before the vote, the Garfield tiebreaker was still listed in the Options section (see footnote #32).
As I understand it, the full version 2 was approved by the Board on Wed.

What I don't see (in writing) is clarification of the Open Choice Board/District discussions. My understanding is that there will be NO "Open Choice" seats at Grafield next year. If this is true, does this mean also that sibling priority is not available at Garfield either for next year, and that they won't even take applications for any out of area kids who are not APP?

joanna said...

I believe I was mistaken regarding the first dibs for Garfield students. Now I think it is still there.