Friday, June 24, 2011

Pull the Trigger

The District is dragging out a number of decisions that should have been made already. In most cases they should just make the decision because they have only a single viable option. There's no decision to be made.

1. Re-open John Marshall as an elementary option school and the site of north-end elementary APP.
They need to bring north-end APP up north and there is no other building that will hold the 500 students in the program. John Marshall would allow space for the APP students and a small general education program as well. That would help to relieve some of the overcrowding in the northeast. Enrollment in the general education program should be by choice only. That would bring a lot of advantages. It would give preference to APP siblings and keep families together. It would allow the District to cap the enrollment of the gen ed program so they aren't guaranteeing enrollment to two different groups. It would evade any need to alter the attendance area boundaries. If the option program were a language immersion program or a Montessori program it would make access to these programs more equitable. The school can meet at Lincoln until the John Marshall building is ready for them.

2. Re-open Fairmount Park as the site of Madison Service Area Spectrum and an option program.
The District needs to increase elementary capacity in Madison Service Area. Lafayette, in particular, is overcrowded. This solution would increase the elementary capacity as needed and free up about 100 seats at Lafayette. Designating the school as Spectrum and an option program would attract students immediately, give enrollment preference to Spectrum siblings to keep families together, and evade the need to alter the attendance area boundaries. If the option program were a language immersion program or a Montessori program it would make access to these programs more equitable.

3. Re-open Wilson-Pacific as a 6-8.
The District needs additional middle school capacity in the north-end and Wilson-Pacific is the only suitable property. It will probably require a tear-down and rebuild from the ground up. The demolition and construction can start right away, but the school can't start for a year or two. Even then, it will probably have to meet at Lincoln until the new building is ready.

4. Build a neighborhood elementary school on the old Denny Middle School site.
The District needs additional elementary capacity in the Denny Service Area. The creation of a new elementary school in West Seattle will allow the District to re-draw the attendance area boundaries as needed. Alternatively, the District could designate the school as an option school so they won't have to re-draw the boundaries. If the option program were a language immersion program or a Montessori program it would make access to these programs more equitable.

5. Re-open Van Asselt as an elementary school.
The District needs additional elementary capacity in the Mercer Service Area. The creation of a new elementary school will allow the District to re-draw the attendance area boundaries as needed and re-purpose the current Van Asselt at AAA as a needed K-8. This need is less urgent. The school won't have to meet at an interim site before the Van Asselt building is ready - if they start now.

6. Join with the Rainier Beach community to make a plan for Rainier Beach High School.
The District cannot and should not try to make a plan on their own. They've tried it and failed. They need to work with the community instead of trying to impose a solution onto it. They need to ask the critical question: What would it take for you to choose Rainier Beach High School for your child?


Po3 said...

Note how many times you used "re-open" in your post.

West Seattlite Parent said...

The new "Denny" elementary should be the replacement for Roxhill, it would fold in the 350 students and include capacity for double that, and would fix having 2 elementaries so close. It should open as a neighborhood school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The district has asked for RFP on the following buildings: Boren, Columbia, Fairmount Park, John Marshall, Mann and Van Asselt. This does NOT mean they will reopen all of these but they are giving them a hard look.

Charlie called out three of these and we know Mann is a likely go.

I wonder if Wilson-Pacific will appear on BEX IV as a new middle school project (because there is no renovating that building) since it's not on the RFP list.

Laura said...

Wilson Pacific is too large a sight for just a 6-8. The district needs to think much bigger. Roosevelt High School sits on a sight about 60% the size. We need a mushroom model k8 on that sight perhaps with APP there.

Anonymous said...

Why designate Fairmont Park as "the site" of Madison-area Spectrum? Why not just offer Spectrum at Fairmont Park too?

Lafayette Spectrum works! Replicate success, don't dismantle it!

Overcrowding at Lafayette is caused by the absence of any viable Spectrum elsewhere anywhere south of the ship canal! Nobody I know will trust the district's flimsy promises and move their kids away from Lafayette and their friends and siblings in Regular program to some "new" Spectrum at F.P. especially after what's happened at Lawton. But new families will enroll at Fairmont for Spectrum if they live nearby and they can keep siblings together there. Spectrum does not cost more to run than Regular, so why limit it?

EVERY qualified child in Seattle deserves access to a Spectrum seat close to home!

-Spectrum access for ALL

Josh Hayes said...

Laura, are you counting the enormous sports field as part of the Wilson Pacific site? A whole bunch of schools use those fields; they're not currently tagged for W-P use (though I suppose they COULD be if a school requiring athletic fields went in there).

If we leave out that field, I really don't think the parcel's all that large. Certainly big enough for a comprehensive 6-8 school, but that'd wind up with, what, 700 or so kids? A pretty big school.

Laura said...

Yes, Josh. I'm counting the whole parcel. I believe it's all school district owned. Such a centrally located site should be maximized. If they need to build new anyway, I think they need to go big. Keep in mind the sprawl that's currently there us mostly single story. They could replace with three stories. Two separate buildings and get a very large capacity. It would really be a shame to only have 700 kid capacity building, like you suggest, on that site. Any new building(s) in the North need to have larger capacities, than ever before, in my opinion only.

Charlie Mas said...

I was thinking they could build a 1,000 student 6-8 at Wilson-Pacific and fill it with about 300 students from Whitman, 400 students from Eckstein, and 200 students (APP) from Hamilton.

KG said...

I think we should all leave this up to the new board whom will be elected in November as this currnt board can do very little correctly.
This will be ther only logical way to a logical plan.

Eric B said...

It would take at least 6 years to build a new elementary at the Denny site - funding, planning, construction... How long is the lease on E.C. Hughes to Westside? Enrollment problems are way too time-variable to be building a building in response to enrollment pressures right now.

Charlie Mas said...

Eric B, six years? No. It didn't take anything like that much time to build the New Denny Middle School on the Chief Sealth campus.

Anonymous said...

@ Spectrum access: I'm with you.

They put all this emphasis on getting APP in the south end, when it serves a relatively small population. Spectrum is (by definition) more accessible to more students. In the north end, it's not uncommon for parents to keep their APP-eligible kids in a Spectrum program close to home. Some Spectrum programs—like Lafayette's—are that good. (Tho strangely, like Lowell circa 2007, those successful schools are targets for meddling.) Meanwhile, in many south end neighborhoods, if you don't quite test into APP, you're S.O.L. The quality of Spectrum programs is so variable, and you're lucky if you find one at all in the south end.

I wish the district would stop messing with APP (tho they should fix what MGJ broke, dammit) and put attention and resources where its really needed: Spectrum.

- Southmom

David said...

I think you could summarize your post, Charlie, as that the district needs to reopen every school they can as fast as they can.

Anonymous said...

I think money could be saved and a good education could still be had for gifted students, by combining the APP and Spectrum students into and Honors Program. The honors program could start in middle school. Every child who passed the test for the honors program would be guaranteed a space at the school in their reference area. This would save on bussing, while still providing advanced education opportunities for current Spectrum and APP students. It would also help alleviate the overcrowding in APP schools.

Why wouldn't something like this work in our middle schools?

Anonymous said...

TO Why wouldn't something like this work in our middle schools,

First you have to get the prinicipal and staff on board. There are staff and admin folks who do not want an APP and/or spectrum program even if they have one now. So it is a long haul. As it is, you have kids who qualified (spectrum) for honors classes, but are in with gen ed because there are not enough "seats" to accomodate them. And that's ok by the district and the principal.

- water carrier with leaky bucket

Jan said...

To: Why wouldn't something like this work:

I think it works great for Spectrum/ALO kids, and may work well for APP kids who are very close to the Spectrum cutoff. But there is a huge variability (long thin tail) of APP kids -- and for those at the other end (the Einstein end), honors Spectrum type classes -- a year or a little more ahead -- don't meet their needs. We are already failing to meet the needs of some of these kids, though the stronger the cohort, the more likely that they will find challenge through (and a social group with) their peers, and the more possible it becomes for an APP teacher who is good with differentiation to teach to their level of learning. The more you spread them out, the less possible this becomes.

dj said...

Anonymous, APP and Spectrum students are also not distributed randomly across middle school service areas, so you are likely to end up with variability in program size that will make it more likely that kids cannot access all of the advanced classes they need (something that has been seen with the APP middle school split into just two sites).

Jan said...

Charlie -- you KNOW how the District refuses to be "dictated to" by parents -- even parents armed with facts and historical knowledge, and who love their (and their community's) kids and only want what is best for them. Maybe they have the same aversion to being "dictated to" by necessity? As in: "I don't CARE if it is the only possible solution! I didn't think of it myself, and so I am darned if I am going to go along with it!"

dw said...

My only objection to the Marshall idea is that it's awfully close to Green Lake Elem to talk about putting a general education program in it. Green Lake has spare capacity (something you can't say about its neighbor schools).

Is Marshall in a good enough condition that it can be reopened in the fall? And if so, why is McDonald going through a multi-year rebuild?

I think there's no question Wilson-Pacific is going to be a middle school again within the next five years. But what do you do with the programs in Wilson-Pacific now?

I don't think there's any need to make W-P a K-8 school, given Viewlands is opening. The capacity problems are south of 85th.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't think it's a case of not wanting to be ordered about, even by circumstances. I think it's just their "Don't do it until it's the very last possible moment", "Crisis, crisis, crisis" culture.

Jan said...

Charlie -- that sounds plausible, but then, how to account for things like spending tons of time and District goodwill on things where there is NO crisis -- like changes to the attendance policy, alignment/standardization of science curriculum, etc.

There does seem really to be this odd dynamic where they do just want to do whatever it is that they think up -- and nothing that anyone (or any circumstance) dictates to them. They just want to sit and play with taxpayer/grant money however they feel like it. Good work, if you can get it, I guess.

seattle citizen said...

dw, John Marshall is in fair shape. It's currently occupied by a couple of small groups leasing space (including a tutoring company called Applied Scholastics Academy....hmmm...) so it's likely still got all its copper plumbing ;)
Three years ago when it was shut down, it was in fair to good shape for its age. It's no spring chicken...I'd imagine it would need at least 400-500k to get spiffed up to servicable, plus another million or so to make it more like an elementary - beyond that, the sky's the limit, eh?

seattle citizen said...

whoa. Check it out. Part of John Marshall has been rented to a private school!

Anonymous said...

re John Marshall rental : interesting, I must say. If you read far, you'll find L. Ron Hubbard, as in, yup, Scientology.

who knew...


GreyWatch said...

@ dw - The greenlake capacity is why I never understood why they decided to reopen mcdonald. they are pretty close to each other.

Charlie Mas said...

One of the reasons that Seattle needs so many schools is because they are so tiny.

A lot of the elementary schools have capacities of 350 or less (real capacity, not ginned up numbers to shoehorn kids into every nook and hallway). Even the biggest high schools hold only 1600. My high school had about 2800 students and I was in a graduating class of about 750.

The District wants to rebuild the elementary schools to hold closer to 500 students, which sounds like a lot, but it's really only about three classes of each grade and some special purpose rooms.

Anonymous said...

dw & Grey Watch, Green Lake doesn't have much spare capacity. It is a small school with reconfigurable open-style classrooms. You can only cram so many students into that open-style set up. It doesn't even have a cafeteria. Plus it contains a program for students with severe physical/motor disabilities that requires dedicated large classroom space in two different areas. It had 3 kindergarten classes in 2009-2010 and wouldn't have been able to sustain that kind of enrollment for multiple years. It has 2 full kindergartens for this fall with a waiting list.

It was slightly odd to reopen a school like McDonald so close in proximity to Green Lake, but it did help to relieve the pressure there as well as (primarily) at John Stanford. And all those schools operated as open schools at the same time at some point in the past. If boundaries and program placement make sense (which, of course, is an ongoing challenge) then in theory Marshall might make sense. Although it is a huge leap.

Green Lake Parent

Josh Hayes said...

Thanks for the clarification, Laura.

Charlie, do I need to get you into my math class? :-) I kid, I kid! But your point is well taken - except I didn't think Whitman was particularly overcrowded by comparison with Hamilton and, especially, Eckstein. Isn't that where you'd want to pull kids from? Like about 450 from Eckstein, 350 from Hamilton, and maybe just a hundred or so from Whitman?

I thought I remembered reading that Marshall was, on the district's five-level scale, a four, where one is "in great shape!" and five is, well, Wilson-Pacific, i.e. a teardown. Maybe I have that wrong, but I dunno. There's also no real playground, just lots of asphalt, and it's enough of a schlep to Green Lake playground that it's not plausible as a recess location.

Anonymous said...

Re: Spectrum - You would think that the district would be doing more to support Spectrum, if only to relieve pressure on the APP programs. But now we have this dismantling effort underway at Lawton and Wedgwood, where they plan to evenly distribute the Spectrum kids into the regular classrooms. This will break up any cohesiveness among the kids, plus force all the teachers to provide wildly differentiated materials, which we all know will lead to at least some of them resorting to the give-'em-an-extra-worksheet solution.

And no, I don't think a district-identified label means all that much. ANY kids who can do the work should be put into an advanced cohort. In fact, EVERY kid deserves to have a school where an appropriate level of instruction is available. Kids do not have one-size-fits-all needs, so I don't know why the district seems to be moving in that direction.

This weakening of the Spectrum program will drive families, like ours, to transfer to an overcrowded APP school(our kid just barely tested into APP this year, but we chose Spectrum for the local neighborhood and program cohesiveness. Joke's on us) or into private school. We are giving this new model one year, then we'll either move districts or go private. We thought about transferring to an APP school, but that situation looks like it has blown up this year, too. My kid simply does not have the time for the district to get its act together - middle school is just around the corner.

Frustrated parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

This issue of building size is valid.

Charlie's right; we have a lot of old(er) buildings that are small. Some of them have a large enough site (like McGilvra versus Montlake) to build bigger. Since capacity management is now such a huge issue, look for that as a driver of what schools come under BEX IV (rather than it being more about the worst buildings).

That Passionate Teacher said...


Charlie doesn't need remedial math...his idea would open that building at 90% capacity.

It's an intriguing idea. Nice one, Charlie!

Anonymous said...

Charlie: If you're suggesting moving Spectrum out of Lafayette, you're completely nuts. It's a thriving program in a thriving school, built and supported for decades. Most Lafayette Spectrum kids live right there in the upscale Admiral neighborhood, so you'd be exporting kids - and their parents, and their resources - away from their neighborhood school. Bad idea. And an insult to the parents and community that have built and curated that program, turning it, and the school, into a thriving community asset.

As others above had said, the last thing the district should do is mess with successful programs. Is that the reward for high parental involvement, supportive nurturing behavior and support, along with teaching excellence? Moving your program instead of replicating it elsewhere? What a ridiculous policy. I hope that's not what you're advocating Charlie. Over the years I've read many of your suggestions that border upon the same "kids as widgets" mentality that they have downtown, and I think you overlook the value and strength of having a great school, within walking distance, in your neighborhood, for all kids of extra benefits, volunteering opportunities, and such, without having to hop in your car or hop a bus. Those things are huge for Lafayette.

Frustrated parent, I so sympathize with your situation. If your kid is happy and well served, keeping them in the neighborhood, near friends and community is a solid choice, and you're probably not depriving them or holding them back. Lots of kids enter APP in later years and do just fine, so don't sweat that you're depriving your kid of anything by not jumping to APP now.

But, on the other hand, some kids, like my daughter, did fine, but not great in Spectrum, then got into APP and took off like a Rocket, not just because of the appropriate level of challenge, but because the community of parents and teachers know how to work with so-called "gifted/highly capable" kids.
What we didn't realize, until my daughter went into APP, was how much her emotional needs were going unmet at the local school.

Because APP has been such a good experience for my daughter, I'd almost forgotten the painful 2 years she spent in Spectrum, even though she did well academically. She also had lots of problems that go along with G/HC kids: Taking everything way too seriously, being too rigid and inflexible, carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, etc.

It bears repeating over and over, that, while APP has a few Einsteins in it on one end, and some really strong Spectrum kids who can handle it too on the other, the middle of the curve really is full of complicated, bright, but chock-full-of-issues kids. Not necessarily behavioral, but often emotional, communicative, self-esteem, depression, and lots of other stuff the local schools often don't have support for. I'm not sure about IQ levels and such, but I can say a lot of APP kids just seem to see the world through adult-like lenses, and if you were 10 and worried about global financial meltdown and climate change instead of how the Mariners were doing, you'd probably be best served in APP. APP always was, and always is, by definition, a Special Needs Program, that happens to be a refuge of last resort for many kids and families who struggled through many programs and schools until they found their "Godsend" program.

People need to realize that a good two-thirds of APP kids don't come from rich families or neighborhoods, so the elitist label doesn't fit. Are they active and do they advocate in troops? You bet. Because the program means everything to their children and family. Diminishing APP is more than the equivalent of a salary cut; it is literally a lifeline for many families whose nerdy, outcast, perfectionist kids have nowhere else to go.

Please, everyone, always keep that in mind when you discuss APP. Thanks. WSEADAWG

Anonymous said...

WSEAWDAWG, beautifully worded piece regarding APPStudents. One of our two kids went to Lowell, leaving a fabulous school of the time-Greenlake-where the Principal told us "we can do Spectrum, but if she tests into APP, send her to Lowell". She found her place almost instantly, and we could feel it. We were never in the upper socioeconomic arena, drove a 14 year old car, and still rent. Always bristled at the comments inferring otherwise. Thank you for stating so eloquently many concerns regarding serving these students.

Three years to go.

Erin said...

Wilson-Pacific really should be a middle school.
1. It's between .5-1 mile from 4 (maybe 5) elementary schools, Bagley is less than a mile away. We don't need more elementary schools. We need more good elementary schools in the area.

2. The number of elementary aged kids in this neighborhood is small compared to the other side of Aurora. W-P is hemmed in by I5 and Aurora and Northgate to the north. Using it as an elementary would mean lots and lots of bussing which means high transportation costs.

3. However, this part of town does not have a middle school nearby. Distance wise we are closest to Hamilton, but even that is 40 blocks away. Whitman is really far away, and Eckstein is on the other side of I5 and hard to get to.

4. The ballfields are really needed in this neighborhood. Most of the homes are multifamily or really small postwar houses with tiny yards. They are the only open space that is safe for kids to travel to in the neighborhood since they don't have to cross a major arterial to get to them. The playfields are used for all sorts of school and rec teams. Personally, we take our kids there all the time and I would really hate to lose the playfields even a little bit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, WSEADAWG! Your commentary is right on the mark.

-another frustrated SPS parent

Anonymous said...

WSEADawg. What you said.

But everyone at Lafayette and any other school who still has a functioning Spectrum program, beware. SPS has their eye on the achievement gap reduction prize and it's that at all costs. Meaning, if they have to change to cluster grouping w/ their Spectrum programs to achieve it, that's what they are going to do. And you can bring data, write letters, advocate for the program all you want and it'll fall on deaf ears. All it takes is staff support and a few vocal parents to lobby the district to stop that awful, tracking, label-inducing, self-esteem ruining Spectrum program that those elitest parents want for their special children. Happened at Lawton, happened at Wedgewood, will happen elsewhere I guarantee you.

SPS has even changed their website...(the cluster grouping part is new)

The program is guided by four core principles:
1) Provide a rigorous curriculum.
2) Provide an accelerated curriculum that focuses on student proficiency in grade level expectations and one grade level beyond or more in reading and mathematics
3) Bring district-identified students together through self-contained or cluster-grouping strategies to form classroom rosters.
4) Provide instruction by teachers familiar with the needs of students who are academically gifted.

If you're seeking AL opps for your kids, hope they get into APP b/c though it's overcrowded and at risk, it seems a far more secure program than Spectrum which can evidently be changed at the whim of any school and delivered in any manner the school chooses to deliver, even if it doesn't align with the real intent of Winebrenner and Brulle's cluster grouping model (which is delivering AL opps to kids in schools where there is no AL program. Not to replace an exisiting program.)

All AL parents should try to go tonight to the APP meeting to hear what the SPS has to say. We all need to work together bail water out of the sinking AL program if any programs are to survive.

cluster grouing skeptic

Lori said...

Thanks, WSEADAWG, for your wonderful post describing the social and emotional needs of a lot of APP kids. As the parent of one of those "complicated, bright, but chock full of issues" kids, I totally get it, and while I try to explain it myself on this blog from time to time, you've written a far better post that I ever have!

The potential Lowell split angers me precisely because I understand that the program is not just about academics. Elementary school is a critical time in a child's life to learn how to make friends, how to interact in groups, and how to exert influence and practice leadership skills. If you don't have a relevant peer group, you can practice none of these things.

I watched this happen with our child at our neighborhood school for an entire year, and when no one wanted to play the games she suggested at recess and no one laughed at her jokes or invited her to birthday parties, she eventually gave up even trying to fit in, and became sullen, sad, and lonely, and she didn't have the knowledge or experience to understand why life was so dang hard and frustrating.

Now, at Lowell, she has found her tribe, and she finally gets to be a normal kid, suggesting games at recess that others do in fact want to play, taking her ideas to the Student Council and leading an initiative for something she's passionate about. It's absolutely amazing to see the transformation that's occurred, and it's not just due to her grade level peers but rather to the exposure to like-minded kids of all ages, particularly the older kids that serve as mentors and inspire her.

The last day of school, she couldn't wait to go thru the Lowell year book with me, pointing out kids from each grade level that she knows and interacts with. I won't bore you with any more personal stories, but I have no doubt that splitting up the grades would truly diminish the school experience for all of the kids. The cohort needs to be sufficiently large to allow all of the kids to work on their social skills in the optimal environment; elementary APP should have as many kids in it as any other elementary school does, and the grade levels need to be together. Socially isolating just a few classes at a separate location is actually offensive to me and shows that the district just doesn't understand this program.

MAPsucks said...

Cluster grouping skeptic,

You have a right to be skeptical. The "cluster grouping" model is based on MAP subscores, numbers that are NOTORIOUSLY variable. To determine a child's place by their subscore is to play craps with their education.

Jan said...

WSEADAWG: you are right about the frustration that occurs when the District -- instead of spending its time/effort on what is wrong, seems to want to spend it on wrecking what is(was) right.

But as for Lafayette: I thought it was EXTREMELY overcrowded (i.e., becoming a "what is wrong" school). Is that not the case? Because if the Spectrum program there is still self contained, and the school fits everyone, I would NOT want to move those kids. If it is overcrowded, and something has to give -- what would you suggest?

Anonymous said...

that's just it. there aren't any guidelines surrounding cluster grouping district wide (why, because they're throwing the spaghetti at the fridge to see what sticks.) There is no DISTRICT WIDE protocol with respect to this cluster grouping rollout, schools are just randomly going about it and as such, aren't following the basic structure of cluster grouping. How can anyone evaluate cluster grouping results, when one school does it one way, and another does it a whole other way ?

At Lawton, all Spectrum designated kids will be Group 1. No one else, regardless of MAP score. (now, I realize that eligibilty to TAKE the Spectrum test is somehow related to MAP scores... or at least that what SPS originally said, and it seems (from a prev. comment on another thread) that they rescinded that threshold at some schools). We don't know how other kids will be assigned a group, aside from outgoing teacher recommendation. It's possible MAP scores will be used in that classification.

Who knows how Wedgewood will do it? An earlier thread implied it may be by MAP score. If so, what do you do about a Spectrum designated kid who doesn't test well and gets lower MAP scores? Do they go in the gifted cluster (they passed the congitive test) or in another?

It's a disaster waiting to happen.

Oh no, maybe it's not -esp if the test scores of the Spectrum kids fall - and there you see, your achievement gap is reduced.

Who said it earlier... Mediocrity for all. Indeed.
-cluster grouping skeptic

Anonymous said...

cluster grouping sceptic,

It is not about learning, it is about capacity. Spectrum by and large was placed at elementary schools that had the capacity to be a 3 up. So that there was one class room for spectrum and then two for general ed. In other words, for self contained to work, the students needed to be assigned to the school in nice tidy numbers.

There was room for neighborhood kids, spectrum kids and their siblings but only in very specific numbers. Under the new geographic assignment plan, specific assignment numbers are only possible if Spectrum is placed in an option school, not an assignment school.

These model worked in the past because the schools could turn away extra neighborhood kids and extra spectrum kids so that they could maintain the nice tidy numbers to make the three up program work. Most of the popular programs had waiting lists at every grade for both programs. The waiting list is what made the program.

A few years ago, you needed to live within 4 blocks of Wedgwood to get into Wedgwood. That was because all the K seats were taken up by siblings from the spectrum and general ed program.

Now, the neighborhood kids get the first seats, so both the general ed students and the spectrum students are in odd numbers.

I don't think this a conspiracy to dismantle Spectrum. I do think that nobody considered that the nice tidy numbers was what made self contained Spectrum, self contained.

If you can't have self contained, you are going to have cluster grouping. So look out Lafayette, unless Spectrum moves to the new West Seattle "option" school, then Lafayette will have cluster grouping soon enough.

- ne parent

wseadawg said...

Jan: For starters, I suggest re-opening Fairmont Park ASAP, and immediately re-working all of the boundaries in the North End elementary schools. They are absurd right now, with kids living South of Schmitz Park assigned to Gatewood, and kids even further South assigned to Alki, the Northernmost elementary in West Seattle. Some kids currently at Lafayette should probably be at Alki, and some at Alki at Schmitz or Gatewood. I would not put Spectrum at Fairmont Park, but a Montessori instead. West Seattle Montessori was hugely popular in the Triangle, but moved to White Center due to redevelopment. As a result, there is a solid demand for Montessori in the North end of West Seattle. SPS could clean up at Fairmont Park if they did it right. I believe some former Cooper families from Delridge would be drawn to Fairmont Park as well, as the commute is as easy, or easier, to Fairmont Park than Lafayette, via Avalon Way to the N and Sylvan Way to the S.

It's going to take 2 or 3 years to get the schools properly balanced, because the NSAP was far too much change, way too fast for West Seattle.

The whole North End got spun counter-clockwise when they closed Cooper and inserted the formerly, centrally located Pathfinder in that spot. Pathfinder needed a school, but putting an option school on the periphery of the cluster really screwed up the neighborhood maps, shifting everyone counterclockwise.

The Cooper under-enrollment was always due to its neighborhood boundary including a huge Port Terminal, Steel Plant, a huge park, a city greenbelt, and Golf Course inside it's "neighborhood" while Sanislo, just south of Cooper, had a wait list.

The cold, hard fact is that Delridge North has no neighborhood school anymore, in a fast-growing area with lots of little kids who get bussed 3 2 miles West to Lafayette, creating an artificial, and unsustainable, flow of kids. We will be living with the Cooper mistake (or travesty) for a long time, maybe forever, unless they rebuild Genessee Hill for Pathfinder someday. I'm not holding my breath for that, but I see no other workable solutions. Even were Genessee Hill to be rebuilt as a neighborhood school, it wouldn't help the North Delridge/Cooper Area kids bumped out of Cooper. What a mess. Thanks SPS.

wseadawg said...

Oops. I meant to say "bused 2 miles" not 3 2.

wseadawg said...

Boy, the more I think about it, the more obvious it becomes. West Seattle North needs to reopen 2 schools, not one. Fairmont Park, and a new Genessee Hill Elementary. Schmitz is full, so is Alki, so is Lafayette. Meanwhile, my neighborhood is crawling with so many kids, every sport league is adding teams every year. West Seattle not just growing; it's BOOMING!

How about getting ahead of a problem, for once, SPS?

Anonymous said...

I disagree, ne parent, I think that Spectrum is deliberately being dismantled at Lawton and Wedgwood, for both capacity management and to improve classroom MAP scores.

I do not have a problem with clustering for Spectrum/ALO kids, if it were being properly implemented. The fundamental principle behind clustering is to put the top-testing kids into cohorts within only 1 or 2 classrooms. This is to reduce the range of instruction for the teacher, to allow teacher specialization/training for advanced learners, and to establish the critical mass/camaraderie that is needed for kids to feel that it is ok to plow ahead on the academic material without being ridiculed or held back by classmates.

But this is NOT being done at Lawton or Wedgwood. Both of these schools are evenly distributing the high scoring kids among all the classrooms, which goes completely against the clustering model from beginning to end.

This is NOT clustering whatsoever, no matter what the administrators are calling it. It is a deliberately formed heterogeneous classroom, period. Now every teacher in every classroom will have to provide widely differentiated material for all subjects except for math, which will use a pullout model. And no thought has been given to what happens if you have too many, or too few, kids to fill out an advanced math class. That is not even a secondary thought, because the overriding factor is that the homeroom teacher will now get credit for the child's MAP scores, and who cares about whether any of the children's needs are getting met.

This has nothing to do with providing for any child's education, Spectrum or Gen Ed. It has everything to do with raising individual teacher's, and school's, MAP scores by distributing the high scorers evenly among the classrooms. They are fighting over who gets the high numbers, and to heck with the kids.

- frustrated

Robyn said...


You are on the Task Force. These are some good ideas! The link for Capacity Management that Melissa posted shows J Marshall reopening in 2012 as a middle school. Is that really the proposal leaving APP out in the cold again, or could it be a "cover up" for APP 1-8 going to J Marshall.

Given those slides, what are your latest suggestions based on what may/may not be new info?

Anonymous said...

actually "frustrated" (and I am too btw, b.c I am an advocate for keeping the self containted model)... at Lawton, they aren't evenly dividing Spectrum students up among all classes. If the cohort is over 11 then it will be split into two classes (but not more). The approved proposal is here: http://lawtonelementary.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Spectrum-Proposal-revised.pdf

KEY to this is that Spectrum kids will all be put in "group 1" (not in group 2. The way Lawton is doing it too is that just Spectrum kids are in group 1. (so no teacher identified, but not tested kids -they're group 2)

Minimum Spectrum cluster is 6. So in a 11 cohort group, they all stay in one classroom. Classrooms look like this:
Classroom A - Groups 1,3,4
Classroom B - Groups 2,3,4,5
Classroom C - Groups 2,3,4,5
(Spectrum kids only in classroom A)

If grade cohort is 12 or more, it can be split into two classes. )
Classroom A - Groups 1,3,4
Classroom B - Groups 1,3,4
Classroom C - Groups 2,3,4,5
(Spectrum kids in classrooms A and B, not C)

I have no idea how Wedgewood is doing it.

You are correct though that replacing Spectrum w/ cluster grouping was not winebrenner/brulles intent when devising the model. It's not meant to replace a self contained model, it's meant to serve gifted kids who had not had access to AL before.

All under the consenting eye of SPS AL dept. Whether b.c they don't care, or are too weak to advocate, I don't know. It's a shame though.