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Friday, February 11, 2011

Open Thread Friday

I'll be doing an update on the Town Hall forum and hey! it's Friday. That seemed like a fast week gone by.

Saturday Community Meetings:
  • Director Carr - 8:30-10 am -Bethany Community Church,8023 Green Lake Dr. North
  • Director Martin-Morris - 9:30-11:30 am - Diva Espresso, 8014 Lake City Way NE
  • Director Maier - 10:30 am-noon - Bethany Community Church, 8023 Green Lake Dr. North
  • Director Sundquist - 11:00 am-12:30 p.m. - High Point Library, 3411 SW Raymond St.
Mirmac reports that at the Audit & Finance Committee meeting yesterday that it was stated they overlooked $3.3M during the budget process. I hope each Director gets asked about the budget and what this "overlooked" money could mean for SCHOOLS.

56 comments:

Jet City mom said...

This doesn't have a lot to do with Seattle schools but Hosni Mubarak has stepped down as of about 30 min ago.
:)

Jet City mom said...

I also wanted to post the link to
http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

There is all kinds of searchable info on K-12 as well as post secondary education.

Anonymous said...

No emerald kity, it has everything to do with SPS and this blog as I told annoyed SPS peeps last night watching channel 26.

Anyone see Sundquist and Kathy Thompson's faces at the event. People in power = sudden deer in headlights. They usually live in bubbledom on the board and in HQ and simply do not see and recognize the reality on the street so apparent through this blog. A lot like Egypt.

There is a mom, MB, in North Seattle..won't out her further unless she wants to be public..who does an awesome rif on what Web communications and technology could mean to SPS public school advocacy for parents and ethnic populatgions who don't think they have a voice in the system. Maybe one of you bloggers who knows her can convince her to do a public opinion or training piece here. Given Mubarak it seems pertinent.

-skeptical-

Benjamin Leis said...

We just went to the school tour at Bryant house. I have to say I found the principal's comments a bit bizarre. While stating that expected enrollment was rising by about 30 students she also expressed the hope that she could reduce the number of kindergartens from 4 to 5. The math just doesn't make any sense. I can't decide whether this was just an exercise in wishful thinking on her part or what?

Charlie Mas said...

ben, which Bryant principal was that? Kim Fox or Gayle Everly?

Dorothy Neville said...

I thought this was really fascinating, a look at the latest census figures and race in SE Seattle.


I followed their links to the Interactive map and looked at my neighborhood as well. Interesting to see how the demographics for Southern half of NE Seattle show that the one census block that is diverse pretty much completely aligns with the Sand Point Elementary attendance boundary.

I don't know the geography of West Seattle well enough, but from folks here pointing out the issues with the way boundaries were drawn there, perhaps this data will be illuminating.

mirmac1 said...

What you see in WS, Dorothy is the great 35th Ave SW divide. Back in the heady days of the World's Fair, my newly immigrated parents were redlined by realtors from properties on the "water" side of 35th. My fiesty mom got pissed and told them "why are we only seeing homes in White Center!?"

Not much has changed since 1962.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle had red-lining for a long time so it is no mystery as to why this Seattle looks like it does.

Benjamin Leis said...

@Charlie: It was Kim Fox.

Anonymous said...

And don't forget the Special Ed red-lining: the more "first choice" a school is, the fewer children with special needs. Hard to say how much ed directors are really getting out in front on this one.

Lori said...

Ben, I talked to a neighbor who went on a recent Bryant tour as well. She said the projected enrollment for next year is around 590 students! Every year, it just gets bigger.

Here's what's happening and how the math can actually work. A few years ago, they started adding more and more kids to the incoming K classes, expanding to 5 K's a few times. As those bubbles move up thru the grades, they replace smaller cohorts of children. I think there are only about 70-80 5th graders right now, but there are 120+ K children this year (my numbers are probably no longer accurate, but I think this was how the year started, 5 Ks of about 25 each).

Even if they can have *only* 4 Ks next year, that is still going to be around 100 kids, but only 80 or so will be leaving for middle school. Hence, continued growth. The upcoming bubbles are bigger than the class they replace.

Something's gotta give. Last year, parents were talking about how dirty the kids' bathrooms were, which is not unexpected when you have 20, 30, 40 more kids in a building and don't increase janitorial services. Then you hear this year how the district is going to cut back janitors to save money, and I just wonder what's going to happen to these over-crowded schools who need more support services, not less.

any current Bryant families want to chime in?

Benjamin Leis said...

My understanding of the demographics is that there should be slightly more Kindergartners next year than this one so lets assume 120+ / 5 == 24+ kids per classroom vs. 120+/4 == 30+ kids per classroom?.

Since basically this is out of her control anyway it would have been more refreshing to hear which compromise is going to be made rather than a lot of hedging.

What was also sad was the talk about the cannibalized rooms to make space for the bubble of classes moving up. (When the art teacher literally looks she's going to cry and begs off questions when asked about this I have to wonder if anyone is planning what to do when reality hits)

I also can't see how this is going to work unless the district flat out installs portables in the next few years or moves kids over to adjacent schools.

Jet City mom said...

Then you hear this year how the district is going to cut back janitors to save money, and I just wonder what's going to happen to these over-crowded schools who need more support services, not less.

In several recent threads on this blog, custodians were the ones who saved the day.
( One story on 2-3-11 re:science , another on 2-1-11 re: music program)

How can we possibly afford to cut them?


I also TOTALLY agree with the comment about school lunches.

Students need to be well nourished as well as rested to be at optimum learning capacity.
Families who are low income, depend on the school breakfasts & lunches to help them nourish their children.

Those lunches are not appetizing, they are not desirable & they are not eaten by anyone who is not starving.

Take a tip from Berkeley schools- let the schools grow produce, let them cook it in their own kitchens, let them adapt their menus to suit their community.
( & while they are at it, they need to give students enough time to eat)

MAPsucks said...

Parents challenging the Seattle School District's tainted acquisition of its benchmark assessment software hit a roadblock in court on Friday. District legal counsel sought and won a motion of summary of judgment against the parents' appeal of the district's 2010 renewal of the Northwest Education Association's (NWEA) MAP testing software. Parents had asked the court to void the contract, and remand the decision to the School Board. The court dismissed the case solely for the reason that the parents had failed to seek a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order against the signing of the contract. The contract was signed shortly after the School Board approved the proposed contract renewal.

The first annual contract with NWEA was signed in 2009. Parents contend the predecessor (2009) contract was formed illegally. They assert that the 2010 renewal of the contract is illegal, by virture of the prior contract having been illegally formed. Furthermore, parents believed that the district failed to provide a legally sufficient sole-source justification for the renewal, and the board failed to engaged in an applicable statutory requirement to seek proposals or competitive bids. Parents claimed that, at minimum, the 2010 renewal was arbitrary and capricious, for reason that the product has poor statistical characteristics, and the board failed to make any reasonable effort to determine whether cost-effective, more efficacious alternatives exist.

Among the laws that parents allege were violated in the formation of the 2009 contract is a state statute that prohibits any public officer from holding any interest, whether direct, indirect, or remote, in any contract, without fully disclosing that interest before the contract is formed. Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson did not disclose her seat on the NWEA Board of Directors until four months after the 2009 contract was signed. State law requires that any contract in violation of this statutory provision is void.

If the court's ruling is allowed to stand, then the district can continue to violate procurement laws with impunity and, as long as they execute the contract immediately after board approval, the matter will be considered moot. In parents' opinion, MAP is still an inferior product that comes at a high price in both instruction time and cost. Its selection remains tainted by the Superintendent's affiliation with the vendor at the time of selection. Its proposed application as an evaluation tool for teachers and schools is misapplied and detrimental to the morale of the teaching force.

Parents are reviewing their options at this time.

anonymous said...

Maybe Bryant families could organize on their own, and experiment with sending groups of students/friends to Sandpoint or MacDonald schools together? Both schools have room, and the kids would probably have a much better experience in the less crowded environment. The over crowding at Bryant isn't going to go away - it's a neighborhood school now and must take all comers. And they can't put portables on their small playground. The district will have to change the boundaries eventually, and nobody will like that either.

As for school lunches. They are horrid. Neither of my kids will go near them, and they appreciate junk food. NOVA used to provide hot, vegetarian lunches for their students, but the district forced them to stop several years ago. Now Hale is using their greenhouse to grow food to supplement their school lunch program. Hope the district doesn't squash that too.

Anonymous said...

After that WONDERFUL story about Dave the custodian at Schmitz Park:

http://crosscut.com/2011/02/03/k-12/20601/How-a-school-custodian-helped-fire-up-one-science-program/

How much y'wanna bet he gets riffed or fewer hours or more work. Gimme more of him and less of Holly Ferguson or Cathy Thompson or MGJ.

Mr. Ed

Anonymous said...

Here's another bet for ya. The new Urban Legend for 2011-12 is...wait for it...:

"We cut the Strategic Plan!"

If so, show us the money. Show us the org chart. Meg, we need Meg

grumpy

waiver wondering said...

Can anybody speak about waivers if you get assigned to one of the failing schools? We have been drawn into the boundaries for West Seattle Elementary. I had heard you could get a waiver to be assigned elsewhere. Is this true? Is the best hope to be assigned elsewhere at open enrollment?

Meg said...

Waiver wondering- Under NCLB, you do have the right to ask for an assignment to a non-failing school. You may request a particular school, and although the district is supposed to take your preference into account, they do not have to assign you to your preferred schools.

Josh Hayes said...

I attended the IB information meeting at Ingraham this last Wednesday and came away impressed with the program.

I was also told by the principal that the APP "split" sending some kids to Ingraham is entirely voluntary -- that is, nobody HAS to go to Ingraham if they'd rather go to Garfield. I asked him how many APP kids he expected next year and he threw up his hands - who knows? He's guessing about 60 or so, but there's just no way to know.

On the whole, I'm impressed with the school, and impressed with the kids in the IB program I spoke with (a senior told me they're doing diff-eq and linear algebra in the math class. Wowzers!).

Anonymous said...

Hello all,

I wanted to let you know that I will be offering Architecture 101 classes for students grades 3 through high school during mid-winter break.

The classes will be:

A Fun Forest Project, An Art Park and Playground: The Seattle Center Foundation has proposed the creation and installation of a major new Art Playground on the grounds of the Seattle Center Campus. The Artists at Play Foundation will work with local artists to create original designs that are inspired by traditional playground structures. These playground structures will then be fabricated and installed in green space created on the Seattle Center Campus.

We will be developing ideas for the artwork playground and create drawings and models that will be presented to the mayor for his consideration.

A Hotel in the International District: We will look at hotel design and how different hotels fit the same requirements. There will also be a tour of three hotels in downtown Seattle to get a sense of how a hotel functions as well as the style of different hotels and their scale. Then, based on a specific program (a set of requirements), the students will design a hotel for a predetermined site within the International District.

For additional information, please visit Architecture 101.

dan dempsey said...

Dear MAPsucks,

It is my understanding that if you seek a temporary restraining order and have it granted, but then you eventually loose the case, you can then be held liable for expenses related to the delay.

In regard to the "Discovering" math adoption we initially thought about a restraining order and were informed by attorney Keith Scully not to do so.

Anonymous said...

I would like to shout out to the nice folks in the enrollment office (especially Aimmee) every interaction that I have had with them from the folks on the front lines to Dr. Libros have all been great.

{Father of Three}

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Has anyone found any success mitigating issues with dyslexia?

I understand that there is a good summer program (Slingerland)at the school now at TT Minor... Any info into that would be great or on tutors or such would be very helpful.

seattle citizen said...

Listening, Learning and Responding, a Quarterly Update,is a document that tells us about the Superintendent's engagement with the teachers, parents, citizens, coalitions, foundations, businesses, Reformers, and others in our fair city. It's from December, and sums up engagement since August.

Jet City mom said...

Geri our experience is that they( SPS) would not diagnose dyslexia as such & it is fantastic if a school is actually using something that has been known to help.

We enrolled our D in the Hamlin Robinson summer program- as we had heard great things about the school year program- however, it is mainly set up to teach, teachers how to work with dyslexic students & not so much help for the students- not mine anyway.

Dyslexia affects issues besides reading- you might get more help if you are more specific as to what your child is having difficulty with & what their age is.

Our childs experience at Hamiln Robinson was not optimum, but she had other things to deal with besides dyslexia- and I think for some kids it could be very helpful.

They would be a place to ask about tutors.

Jet City mom said...

Geri, I misunderstood your comment- I just saw the name " TTminor" forgot it was closed & was thinking it was a Seattle school that was using Slingerland.
My bad.

Charlie Mas said...

I thought that Hamlin-Robinson had moved into T T Minor.

Jet City mom said...

You're right Charlie- when my D went there , it was in South Park- I guess I am a little out of the loop .


I admit I have a hard time keeping track of the programs & the buildings that are open or closed.( or what they are calling them)
:o

I don't know what part of the city you are in Geri, but while we didn't have a lot of luck finding private tutors that were helpful/affordable, the owner of the Greenwood Kumon had a teaching style that meshed pretty well with our daughters learning style.

Even though she had an IEP, it wasn't very effective & she ended up going to Kumon several times a week for several years.
Ya do what ya gotta do.

StepJ said...

If the $308 Pay4K tuition Mirmac1 reported on another thread is true - that is well beyond the 25% increase discussed at the Budget Workshop.

Anonymous said...

There is a Wa chapter of the international dyslexia assoc. They have a website with lists of schools & tutors.

www.wabida.org

Rose M

Unknown said...

Check with the UW Educational
Psychology department. They
have a renowned dyslexia researcher
(Virginia Berninger) on staff and
can provide some information.

Anonymous said...

Geri,

Parents from Lawton Elementary in Magnolia have a very active group that is tackling dyslexia identification and treatment in the district and statewide. Check out readonforkids.com. Hey Charlie,this is the really bright side of Lawton!
Spectrum... another story we are still working on.

Signed,
mobious

former tutor said...

Geri, check out the local chapter of the international dyslexic association for tutor references. Orton Gillingham method is great for kids w/ dyslexia. I think hamlin robinson does OG too. There might be reading specialists from sps who moonlight as well.

Goodluck

ws1 said...

mirmac1 and others.

Prior to NSAP and closures, we in West Seattle were making at least some progress with the "North/South" and "East/West" divide.

Sadly, the new boundaries have been gerrymandered to send the "view" houses North (regardless of proximity) and the aparment complexes and projects "South" (again, regardless of locale).

It's bizarre!

dan dempsey said...

NSAP = increasingly separate and increasingly unequal ... great work President Sundquist give yourself a "B".

Paul said...

Was the "overlooked $3.3M during the budget process" money the district had that they didn'tknow they had or an even bigger hole they need to fill?

Or did Joeseph O. still have it?

Or Gerry Lim has in Hawaii and forgot to mention?

mirmac1 said...

The $3.3 M was in a Swiss bank account...No, seriously, it was remaining funds from ARRA that simply didn't make it on the spreadsheet the Board was working from the other night. Sounds like a "cut and paste" error that kinda PO'd some board members.

What concerned me after the revelation is the feeling of "well, it's better to cut more anyway." I'm not sure that the Board gets how cuts to schools destroys good will with parents and teachers. This isn't downsizing to increase profitability, folks. It's creating a fun, safe, creative, nurturing environments where children can learn!

ds said...

I looked at the 9th grade physical science textbooks at the district office yesterday and was alarmed by some of the selections. (Chem & physics texts were available, too, but I didn't have time to look through them).

Although I may have missed something, three of the seven texts appeared almost entirely inquiry-based (i.e., the texts consisted almost exclusively of outlines of procedures for investigations, with very little consolidation of knowledge and/or presentation of factual information): Interactions in Physical Science (published by It's About Time), BSCS Science: An Inquiry Approach, and Issues in Physical Science (pub. by Lab Aids).

A fourth text (Haber-Schaim's Introductory Physical Science, published by SCI) looked like it was written for middle school students, at best.

There were three texts that looked pretty good, including Physical Science: Concepts in Action and Conceptual Physical Science (both by Prentice Hall/Pearson). I neglected to write down the title of the third, but I believe it was another by Prentice Hall.

These texts will be with our kids for a while, so even kids currently in 2nd grade (or even younger if budget crises lengthen the adoption cycle), so I'd like to encourage everyone to monitor progress on this adoption. Not surprisingly, notice to the public about availability of the texts for review was minimal (a memo was posted to the district website on Monday that materials would be available through Friday...this was not publicized in either of my kids' school newsletters).

According to the district's website, review of the committee's top 3 choices is scheduled for 3/7-3/21.

ds said...

As a follow-up, I noticed that the district currently uses BSCS Biology: A Human Approach (bio is not part of this year's adoption process).

Given that the BSCS physical science book seems almost entirely inquiry-based, I'm wondering if the biology book is, too, or if it's more balanced. Does anyone know? How has it worked for your kids or students?

Anonymous said...

Waiver Wondering -

We have several children at Queen Anne Elementary this year who chose us under a NCLB opt out. We would love to have you come and see what we are about and choose us for your school!

The school open house is at Lincoln on March 2nd at 6:30pm.

PAL

Melissa Westbrook said...

Paul, that was a bit of an insider joke but I got it. Thanks for the laugh.

DS, thanks for the heads up. Needs a thread as soon as I can get to it.

Rufus X said...

Open enrollment has been extended 2 weeks, assignment letters sent by the end of May? Outstanding.

another mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
another mom said...

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/

Friday's Need to Know featured two high schools that have been successful at increasing academic achievement and one university's success at increasing the number of college students in math and science majors -particularly minority students. It is well worth watching. None of the usual ed reform group was there. No Gates, no Duncan, no KIPP, no TFA and it was quite refreshing. The principal of Brockton HS is truly an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Katha Pollitt hits the nail on the the head in the Nation.
It Takes a Village, Not a Tiger

--Owlhouse

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice how relevant Dilbert often is to ed reform? Today is one example.
http://news.yahoo.com/comics/dilbert
-- Let Teachers Teach

Unknown said...

Thanks emeraldkity, charlie, mobious and former tutor. Much appreciated!

KG said...

The District overlooked 3.3 million dollars that they had.

Don Kennedy and company truly are jokes!!!!!!!!!!!

Maureen said...

Meg Diaz has two new threads on Dolce and Nutella.

I like this paragraph in one thread:
in previous budget cycles, administrative positions were "shifted to grant" not because it was the best use of the money, but to reduce the burden on baseline money from the state.

And in the other thread:
The thing is, fashionable efforts cost gobs of money. In fashion and education, whether you pull it off well or badly, being at the front of a fashion is expensive. And in education, money spent on new trends always includes the following accessory: administration.

Some lovely "crappy charts" and a photo of shocking shoes back up her points. And don't miss the "Mad Lib!"

Chris S. said...

I got Harium to myself for a little while Saturday morning, and I tried to get him to explain Central Office and the budget to me. I didn't really learn much, except how to bend a conversation around from something you don't want to talk about to something you do.

But some things he said H:Can't use OSPI's central admin definition for budget cuts because it's too narrow, just executives and their staffs. Me: Great, cut that! Executive FTEs have doubled over the last X years. He doubts me. I say Melissa said it and she's usually right on. He blinks.
I go on to complain about the new executive level hires, you know the press release a few months ago? You know the Chief Talent Officer who can't pull her head out of her, you know, on TV and all? Harium tells me they are not new hires, they are replacements. Oh.

Then he goes off on this riff (ooh, unfortunate unintended pun there) about grants in central, and how those aren't included, and I ask about what kinds of activities those cover. So he pulls our this giant spreadsheet of grants....in schools. Very interesting, but NOT my question, dude! It was interesting. But all I learned is that Title 1 needs to be "administered" so there is some FTE in that.

I did learn, that unlike thie kinds of federal grants I am used to (science) indirects (the money you need for infrastructure and administrative support of grant activities) are not separated out of Title 1 anyway, so you can decide you much you need to administer it. I am apparently in the wrong line of work.

Then he went off into how complicated and unfair the Title 1 formula is, and about his DC/DOE trip to get them to fix it. Then other people had showed up, so maybe someone else can take over. Otherwise, there were some interesting tidbits in the national discussion, so I'll be back.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I guess I should send Harium the district own document on Executive Management numbers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen, Meg worked in Tom Ford and his inappropriate shirt style in with ed reform. I cannot beat that.

Melanie said...

Chris

Next time ask Harium if he is aware of the bonuses paid to those replacement "Executives" in order to lure them here.

You know how tough it is to find local folks willing to work for $150,000 a year. SSD has to set out bait.

I don't know about others but I was just happy to land a job. These people live in a different world!

lendlees said...

I just received an email from KSB asking for input on what to do with the $3.3:

PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS!

Just a quick FYI - our Finance Department has discovered a miscalculation of approximately $3.3 million in our favor!

The Board will be discussing this in our next work session on

Wednesday, February 16th
4pm to 5:30 pm.

Based on our last work session, we can possibly make some new priorities.

I am sure the Board would be glad to hear from you!
Kay Smith-Blum, Director, District 5
Seattle School Board