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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Capacity Management Work Session, Part 2

As I started this thread, I went to look for the handouts that were available.  Here is the link to the agenda for the handouts.  However, I am very annoyed that I cannot easily locate the one that I thought was the most interesting.  What this means is tomorrow I have to call Tracy and then have someone send me the link because, of course, you can't find a darn thing at the new website.  This also means sending a letter to the Susan Enfield (and the Board)  to request that every single thing staff hand out be posted.   (Sorry to be grumpy but it's tiresome to have to do this multiple times in a week.)  More on the interesting handout at the end of this thread. 

Kathy Johnson of Facilities did the overview.  The agenda said "responses to comments and questions from the March 16th work session" and the answers are on Slide 5.  It's boundaries, moving programs, geographic zones for options schools, portables (which remember this because it states "temporary capacity") , opening Rainier View and Viewlands and using surge capacity. 

The presentation, on slide 3, says what they need from the Board by June is to
  • adopt the trigger metrics
  • adopt the common criteria for opening, repurposing and closing schools
  • adopt the framework for the annual capacity management report
Maybe Dorothy (who also attended) can help me out here but I don't think I've seen the second item in print.   The first one is within the presentation (slides 15 and 16).  I think the third bullet appeared on a handout at an Operations Committee meeting.

Harium stopped Kathy to ask a question which I found kind of shocking given how long he's been a Director.  He asked her if secondary meant middle AND high school.  Yes, it does.

Kathy said it was fortunate they have the portables from Hale which have now all been moved (I believe to all elementary schools).  This is good except that (1) portables tend to become part of the permanent landscape in our district and (2) it now precludes using the same kind of building process* for other schools.

Part of the handouts included a calendar.  Tracy stated that they get two sources of input in creating the calendar; the Oct. 1 enrollment figures and the live birth info from the Health department.

Betty asked about how they deal with projections that end up being wrong.

Rachel Cassidy, the district demographer, stated that each year they reset the baseline to reflect what has actually happened.  The higher number becomes the base.  (Of course this flies in the face of the current enrollment projections which seem, in many cases, to be lower than they should be given the current enrollment.)

Kay also asked about consistently high levels of enrollment that are not reflected in the numbers.  Rachel said she would have to look at the school.   What is interesting is that Enrollment seems to only want to use data from the NSAP and NOT past trends.  Betty pointed out that RBHS' projected enrollment for next year is 351 when it's 450 this year.

Then they moved on to Slide 6 about what short-term solutions there could be for 2012-2013.  For example, at Blaine they made 3 classrooms into 4 by adding a wall.

This is all good and well but (1) whether it's portables or a new wall to create a classroom, you still have the same number of bathrooms and the same amount of gym/cafeteria space and (2) BTA money slotted for maintenance fixes gets smaller and smaller as the district does this kind of work.   I also believe that if we are doing this, we need regular updates on what was promised to be done with this money and what is now being done with the money (and what promised work at the other schools is now NOT going to happen).

Michael said that he wanted to talk about bringing new buildings online as he has heard this growing chorus from communities.  He said he would like a feasibility study about what the Census says about growth/migration patterns.   Rachel said not all the Census data has been released yet.

Tracy said that they use the Census data to figure out their market share.  (I pause to wonder if waiting every 10 years to find out your market share is the very best we can do as a district to know this figure.)

Then she said something quite startling.  She said that Madison Middle School is underenrolled and the elementaries areound it are full so maybe they could break up the elementaries and have Madison be....grades 4-8.   (I had a couple of West Seattle moms from two different elementaries say no way to this idea.)  I can't see it myself but it would really be a Sophie's Choice for parents whether relief from overcrowding would be worth all the oddities that a 4-8 school would have.

Slide 7 has "grade reconfiguration" as an intermediate-term solution for 2013-2015.

Peter urged parents to have regional parent groups such as the one in QA/Magnolia (Successful Schools in Action - which I believe is just elementaries) and now the one in West Seattle (that I don't know the name of but if you do, please let us know).  I had advocated for this way back when they were talking about a new enrollment plan.  Regions really should join together to advocate for their issues.  The Board really listens to this kind of mass group and you would get a lot more traction.  I'm surprised the Seattle Council PTSA never advocated for this kind of regional grouping.

Sherry warned against buying into the SPS growth as a long-term assumption.  She said part of the growth has to be the bad economy and that once it rebounds, SPS does not want to be caught with extra capacity.  (She was careful to say that the district is getting better and may well keep most of the new enrollment but that quickly building or reopening buildings might be spending money in ways we shouldn't.)

Michael also raised the issue of not making the Garfield mistake again (thanks Michael).  It would be terrible to have multiple schools, throughout the district, open their doors in September and be very overenrolled.

Slide 9 shows "Options for Community Engagement" for short, intermediate and long-term stretches.  It has the usual ideas.  One thing that struck me is that under short-term, they have "regional meeting but only if more than one school is affected."  Folks, you touch one school and effects ripple out.

Slides 11-14 have the district overview numbers for overall district enrollment.  They give a low, medium and high projection.  They are saying for 2011-2012, the projection could be from 46,650 - 50,286.  By 2015, the projection could be from 47,998 - 65,471.    I find it exceeding hard to believe in 4 years the district could actually get that big and could actually handle that population.

What looks to be the biggest issue is over-capacity at the K-5 level.  They state that for this year, they are at 104% of capacity utilized.  (6-8 is at 85%, 9-12 at 95% and the overall is at 97%.)   It will be about the same for 2011-2012. 

Project out to 2015-16 and it just takes your breath away.   
  • K-5?       120% of capacity.  
  • 6-8?          95% of capacity.  
  • 9-12?      100% of capacity?  
  • Overall? 108% of capacity.
Kathy then jumped to the boundary changes on page 18 and stated the need for predictibility in discussions with the Board around any changes.  She said they already see the growth in Columbia City, light rail issues.  She said there are 116-160 portables in the SPS inventory.  (I need to check this but this is what my notes reflect.)

Michael asked about Options schools and asked for analysis of demand and increased capacity there that might preclude boundary changes.  Betty then asked a funny question which got a funny answer (this is all amusing to me at least).  She asked how a school might become an option school.  The answer was if a new building comes on-line (and that happens ALL the time, right?)

Kay talked about expanding Thornton Creek to K-8 (under BEX IV) to provide some middle school capacity.  (I interject here that yes, you can do that but to get people into K-8s they need to expand at middle school - Kay agrees with that - and you need more offerings like foreign language and sports to attract parents and students to the school.)

Michael talked about building a foundation to make these decisions with guiding principles.  He said that boundaries are important but the surge capacity may have reached a frustration point with communities and trying to push capacity too far.  He referenced a "steam-valve" before this happens.

Kay made a statement that now seems like she looked into a crystal ball.  She said that it seemed to her that Washington was always underprojected and then there's a mad scramble to find staff.  She said they should round up to 10 when in doubt.  (This, of course, is contrary to what Mr. Boesche has said.  Battle looming?)  Tracy said it's a WSS issue and Steve said the district is erring on the side of financial caution.  

Tracy then brought out a map of middle school attendance by residence.  It is a great map and the "interesting handout" I referenced in my first paragraph.  The Directors had it in color which must have been great (the audience had it in black and white) but it still looked good.  Tracy was excited about it and the Directors liked it as a visual method to see a lot of info at once.  It includes maps with different shadings as well as listings of enrollment and enrollment projections.

Coming next is a May 18th Work Session to discuss common criteria, timeline and costs for opening, closing and repurposing schools as well as responses to outstanding questions/comments.  All of these items will be up for a Board vote in June.

I sure wish they would schedule some regional meetings to lay this out to parents.  Decisions are going to be made about how to deal with future enrollment and they will be long-term and lasting.

* What I mean by "building process" is BEX remodels/rebuilds.  When I was on Closure and Consolidation we had a consultant group helping us.  They were models of professionalism and diplomacy.  However, one item that they couldn't get over is how many closed and interim buildings we have.  They said they had never seen a district with so many "extra" buildings.  They also said it is NOT the norm to move entire school populations out of a building that is being remodeled.  The norm is to do it on-site as they did at Hale.

The district likes moving everyone out as they can really attack the building full force and move quickly.  The problem with that is that if there a building issue/change, the timeline goes out of whack but hey, the next school still needs to move into the interim building.  This has happened time and again in SPS and we should do what other districts do and keep the population on-site.   We end up spending more on overtime AND rushing the work.

18 comments:

JvA said...

Melissa, I get this message when I click on the "presentation" link -- does the link work for you?:

"The page you requested:
district.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/10-11%20agendas/040611agenda/capmgmtpresentation.pdf
does not exist on district.seattleschools.org. Please click here to return to the district.seattleschools.org home page."

Anonymous said...

"She said that Madison Middle School is underenrolled and the elementaries areound [SIC] it are full so maybe they could break up the elementaries and have Madison be....grades 4-8. "

If you start with the premise that Madison is very unpopular with locals (you have to be one to know the scuttlebutt). Add to that the fact that Spectrum kids get free-ride seats in advanced learning classes ahead of students that score higher on MAP (the present placement test in vogue). Then, consider that 42% of Madison 6th Grade Students failed the Math MSP last year.

What do you have? A recipe for tremendous animosity (revolt?) towards Sundquist, the Board, the Supt., and anybody else that wishes to flog West Seattle for the sins of the fools that run this District.

BTW - isn't Pathfinder a K-8 and just a few blocks away? Oh wait, 62.5% of Pathfinders 6th Grade students failed the Math MSP. I am starting to see why there are so many private Middle Schools in West Seattle.

Ask any parent or 4-5 teacher in West Seattle if they want to be part of Madison Middle. The former asks what are the alternatives, the latter just laugh at the joke!

Totally Awareness in West Seattle

Melissa Westbrook said...

JvA, I took that one out and the other links are all on the agenda.

Totally Aware, but how do you really feel? Just kidding, it sounds like a lot of frustration out there.

I am confused, though. Madison has Spectrum for just LA and Math, no? Do you have any other advanced classes? For middle school, there are separate LA classes for Spectrum (so that would explain why the kids who score high on MAP wouldn't be placed there) but math is usually done by looking at all math scores (via MAP or placement test). Are you saying only Spectrum students get advanced math? That would be weird (and wrong).

MagParent said...

Successful Schools in Action - which I believe is just elementaries.

SSIA includes all schools in the Mag/QA cluster. (McCLure and The Center School)

Also, the "wall" at Blaine was built years ago by parents and does not extend all the way up to the ceiling.

SP said...

Madison a 4th-8th? Nothing like adding insult upon injury!

First the maps were drawn so Madison was guaranteed to have enrollment cuts (and thus budget/program cuts), and now to "solve" their problem this is their best solution?

Go back and re-balance the maps (10 elementary schools divided evenly into 2 middle/high school feeder patterns). All of the disrution created by the district needs to be redone properly with equitable programs in both sets of schools.

wsnorth said...

Ten / Two = Five and that is how the West Seattle Feeder pattern needs to be divided up. A 4-8 is ridiculous, where on Earth is there a school like that?

However, this is a very unfair statement: "If you start with the premise that Madison is very unpopular with locals..."

I personally know many "locals" whose kids attend Madison and are very well served. The community just had a record breaking fund raiser auction, that doesn't happen when a school is "very unpopular".

Madison has many wonderful teachers, and has won many awards, in spite of the continued abuse heaped on it by the district and board.

What is unfair is that Madison got totally screwed in the NSAP and budgeting process.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, which 5 elementary schools do you think should be feeding to Madison? Or I should say which additional one? It would be easy to say 5 and 5 if the 10 schools were spread out evenly over the WS peninsula, but they aren't. Which ever school you choose, you are asking those kids too go a school that is further away then Denny. I think that a more logical answer given the overcrowding in the WS north elementaries is to reopen Fairmont Park and have that feed into Madison. But something tells me that not a whole lot of WS North folks are going to want to have thier attendence area change out of Schmitz Park or Lafeyette.

WSMiddle

Carla Rogers, Legislation Chair - Alki ES said...

The new parent group lobbying for West Seattle North schools is the West Seattle North Schools Coalition, lea by parents from each of the Madison Middle feeder schools: Alki, Lafayette, SPark and Gatewood. We are meeting once a month and making ourselves known to the school board. We have capacity issues at 3 of the 4 schools now and it's going going to get worse.

Unknown said...

Hi,
I'm part of the West Seattle Coalition of elementary schools working on the capacity issue and a parent of a fourth grader at Schmitz Park. I was at the Wednesday capacity meeting. The Madison triage idea was to move 5th grades to Madison for a period of time, not 4th and 5th. This would give the district more time to find a permanent solution. It was floated as an idea, not as it a focus.

We need to put our collective minds together and list out all possible solutions and vet them against time and money.

On the issue of Madison, all the parents that I know that have their children at Madison love it. It’s a good school, with a building PTA group. A few of us at Schmitz have discussed the option of having our 5th graders moved to Madison, while a new school is built or an old one remodeled. It’s a quick and solid solution that respects the district’s lack of money. Next year we will have 9 classes/programs in portables, so all ideas are welcomed. On Pathfinder, it is an option school with their own focus and methods. It’s located on Pigeon Point, several miles away.

I also know that when talking with the board and the district that they are very aware of the feeding patterns of the elementary schools into the middle schools. Any option being considered would also be vetted on its affect to the feeder pattern.
Carl Sweetland

Melissa Westbrook said...

Carl, I'll call Tracy on this one because my notes reflect 4th and 5th grade and the presentation says "grade reconfiguration". I agree it's just an idea at this point.

MagParent, interesting about the wall at Blaine because Bill Martin of Facilities made it sound like they just built it this year.

They did mention Fairmont Park reopening but this makes me sad. I understand the need for more capacity but it's not a great building and I believe it would need at least a new roof and boiler (and likely more).

Melissa Westbrook said...

I stand corrected - Tracy tells me it would only be 5th grades transferred to Madison and that it is all very protype and just a possibility.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 4/10 1:35

Check your stats and reasoning. This is Madison's first year with Spectrum. None of our data from last year is comprised with students in an "Advanced Learning Program" such as Spectrum or APP. (How did you get the 42%?)

Keep in mind SPark is a feeder school and we have accommodated the advanced math needs for those students coming from their highly acclaimed, non-Spectrum, math program. We also do use MAP scores to help place ALL kids in math classes that match their demonstrated skill levels- all kids have access to "honors" math (note: honors classes in math are now titled according to the content taught, not by H coding).

Our data is our data as presented on the OSPI School Reports page.

Wow, less than a year and the Spectrum label gets us vilified...
-ttln

WV- Madison suffers the wrath of the UNDOERS.

mirmac1 said...

"it is all very protype and just a possibility."

Great, more experimentation. My Lafayette 5th grader would not be caught dead at a middle school. And as a 6th grader in the Denny area, she won't be caught dead at a (shared) high school.

What are we? A friggin' petri dish!?

wsnorth said...

Many parents in West Seattle tried to explain to the district that this would happen, but the staff just wouldn't listen. We are talking people who took to the streets, testified, yelled, and even cried at board meetings, tried quiet reasoning, levied lawsuits... all to no avail!

Anon WSMiddle, fyi, for many years High Point (now renamed) fed into the "North" cluster of West Seattle, there was no reason to change that. Plus, of course, two other North cluster schools were closed (and are being reopened in portables on the playground of other schools).

The district ignored public input and has created a situation that is just heartbreaking now, and any future solution done on the cheap will be gut wrenching. At least they seem to be listening.

wsnorth said...

Fairmount Park should be opened as an International immersion option school. Lots of "Northern" West Seattle parents would choose that.

Problem solved...had the district not intentionally and bizarrely overloaded Denny and Sealth.

Stephen Spencer said...

One of the Hale temporaries is at Eckstein MS.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another portable at Eckstein!?! Holy cow - they need to be on the next BEX. This is just wrong.

Anonymous said...

Please don't put recess on my ceiling. I can't teach when my projector shakes and it sounds like an earthquake over my head.
-madison basement dweller.