Disqus

Friday, July 08, 2011

Lowell APP to Lincoln Next School Year

From our readers:

Dear Lowell Elementary families,

After hearing from the Lowell community at our community meeting last week, in addition to feedback from an online survey and personal conversations, we have decided to move APP students in Grades 1-5 to Lincoln for the fall.

I want to apologize to our students, families and staff for the timing of this decision. I know this has been frustrating for many of you. We are putting proper systems in place to ensure this will not happen again.

Moving APP to Lincoln for the 2011-12 school year not only provides a short-term solution while we look long term at our growing APP program, but it also presents an opportunity for additional capacity at Lowell. We will be looking carefully at how we can work together to ensure that the ALO and Special Education programs at Lowell will be vibrant and successful. We will work closely with you and the community in the next school year on these issues.

We are working on the details and logistics of this move and we are compiling answers to the many questions you must have. We are working on issues about transportation, resources and other logistics. We will have more information in the next few weeks, including answers to frequently asked questions that we will post on our website at  http://bit.ly/lowell-2011. You may also email us with specific questions at LowellAPP@seattleschools.org.

We look forward to working with the entire Lowell community on strategic long-term solutions for both APP and the school. I know this solution is not ideal, but I appreciate you working with us to make this the best possible situation for our students. Thank you.

Sincerely,


Susan Enfield, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

54 comments:

Patrick said...

Well, good. This is probably the best option that's doable in time for next year.

I wish she made some mention of long-term planning for APP, though.

Charlie Mas said...

"We are putting proper systems in place to ensure this will not happen again."

I wonder what she means by that. I'm thinking that she doesn't mean anything at all by it.

dan dempsey said...

Patrick,

You need to be patient.

Moving APP to Lincoln for the 2011-12 school year not only provides a short-term solution while we look long term at our growing APP program,

NSAP is in. APP has been around a long time.
So now the district shall begin to look "long term".

It takes a crisis to even begin to think long term in this district .... because the rule of thumb is ... make it up as we go along.
-----

We will work closely with you and the community in the next school year on these issues.

Even though we rarely use community engagement and did not do this in regard to creating the current mess.
-----

" I know this solution is not ideal, but I appreciate you working with us."

as I make this stuff up as we go along.

Sincerely,

Susan Enfield, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

Steve said...

If there was ever a time for the Lowell PTA (or is there now an APP PTA subset?) and the APP AC to ramp up their activities, this is it. I think we either have a shot at a true long-term solution for APP (and all of Advanced Learning), or it will be a slow death to the program (split into multiple pieces, dissolve into the schools, etc.). I don't know that there's going to be a middle ground that many people will be excited about.

Now, we get to tell our 8-year old that he won't be returning to the school he just started this past year, which he liked. A lot. I feel as if we should all videotape these conversations with our kids and make them available to those tasked with fixing this mess.

bf said...

What's going to happen to the Lowell walk zone kids? Will they have a choice? Will they be bussed? They won't need a Wallingford bus anymore.

David said...

I think it is hard to understate how bad the timing of this decision is.

Two months before school starts, all these children and parents are moving to a new school. This is not merging two existing programs or joining an existing school. This is moving to a new location and setting up a new school. A principal has not even been assigned yet. And school starts in nine weeks.

Charlie Mas said...

It's not just an interim principal. They need a music teacher, a PE teacher, an art teacher, a nurse, and more.

Lori said...

Remember, they assigned a third administrator to Lowell shortly before the year ended for unknown reasons. I started suspecting a few weeks back that they intended to split things all along; one of the principals will stay at Lowell, one will go to Lincoln, and perhaps the Assistant principal will also go to Lincoln if the numbers support the position.

Anonymous said...

It's a program without a school, so it's school, but not a school. It needs all the services and staff, yet on the books what is it?

Anonymous said...

They really need to put out more information soon. Would PE, librarian, music, and Admin staff go with APP or stay with the ALO and Special Ed? It was an APP school before an ALO school so they should move with the APP kids.

Parent

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

I like to look at the positive wherever I can. I think it is great that Dr. Enfield listened to what the Lowell community had to say, and changed her original decision based on the feedback she received. She did this with the Martin Floe firing too. MGJ never listened to her community, or the board. This is is one big step in the right direction.

David, what would you like to have seen happen to resolve the Lowell overcrowding? Personally, I think Lowell got a decent deal. The APP cohort, teachers and staff remain together, and move as a group. What's so bad about that? There is a different school housed in Lincoln almost every year and those communities haven't complained at all.

Steve, maybe when you talk to your 8 year old you can be positive, and treat the move like a grand adventure where he/she will get to explore a big, new, building, with all of her friends. It's all about the presentation.

Po3 said...

So essentially, they have "reopened" another school. How many does that make, since they closed all those schools?

And would this been avoided if TT Minor had remained opened, as the data suggested?

Lori said...

BB, thanks for the positive spin. I think a lot of us know that and are happy with the decision. Yet, it's still disappointing not to learn a little bit more today. Simple things, like which principal will go where, could have been decided and announced today.

And I empathize with Steve's situation telling his son. Yes, we will put a positive spin on it. Our daughter will be happy to stay with her friends. But, not uncommon among this group, she is very anxious. No matter how positive I spin it, she will spent weeks this summer "worried" about her new school. We already went through it last year when we moved to Lowell. Heck, she already spent half of June worried about what teacher she'll get next year (and I'm not exaggerating).

I share this with all of you because I think the district needs to know the actual impact this has "on the ground." Yes, in the end, the kids will be fine at Lincoln and they'll learn their way around. But if I share the news now with my child, I will spend the summer listening to complaints about how life isn't fair (since she loves Lowell), and what if she gets lost at her new school, and where will her classroom be, and what if the other third grades aren't on the same floor, and what if she can't find the library, and what if the bus doesn't know where to take her, and what if she doesn't like the new principal or the new PE teacher or the new art teacher.... I've been through this once. It ain't fun to do a second year in a row. And a third next year, since this sounds like a 1-year solution.

Anonymous said...

I am grateful that SPS took parent input seriously, yet am saddened that there wasn't a chance for the kids to say goodbye to the Lowell staff and the friends that are remaining.

I'm left feeling relieved that there weren't any new surprises today, yet overwhelmed at the unknowns and work ahead. We still don't know what staff will remain at Lowell and what staff will come to Lincoln. There are also several new teachers to be hired.

It's not exactly the experience I imagined when we first enrolled in SPS...

frazzled

Anonymous said...

BB - Great post, thank you for seeing the positive in the situation.

And realize that there are many other parents in the past years besides APP who have had those difficult discussions with their kids (Summit, Cooper, etc)... it isn't fair, it isn't right, but you are not the first and definitely not the last given the latest capacity updates.

As for hiring "last minute", there were newly opened schools last year that hired classroom teachers 1 day before school started. Did it suck? Yes. Did it all turn out okay? Yes.

Take a deep breath and jump in and be positive and make it happen!

---signed, been there, done that

David said...

BB said, "There is a different school housed in Lincoln almost every year and those communities haven't complained at all."

I bet those communities got more than two months warning.

BB said, "The APP cohort, teachers and staff remain together, and move as a group."

Sure, until next year, when another elementary APP split is likely.

Susan said...

David,

I'm looking forward to meeting you and your positive attitude when our kid starts at Lowell, uh, I mean Lincoln in 8 weeks.

Susan

Anonymous said...

Well, we never considered Lowell because of it's location -- moving "north end" APP to the north end is a definite positive for us (especially in combination with a north end middle school site).

I think there are a fair number of other north end families who will feel this way -- and, I think that means that SPS should be considering APP growth into the future, at both Hamilton & north end elementary APP.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was me
(zb)

Anonymous said...

It's not just an interim principal. They need a music teacher, a PE teacher, an art teacher, a nurse, and more.

Yes, and the nomadic Lowell APP students should at least have some familiar faces next year and into the next phase (wherever that is). It’s the least the district can do to bring some level of continuity to the kids’ experience.

We promised my son last year that his first year at Lowell (for 2nd) grade would be the last elementary school change for him, after already changing schools in 1st grade. Last year was a hard transition for him, with a fair amount of anxiety. This year was supposed to be where he started to see the payoff -- returning to a familiar school, knowing the drill, a place where he could really feel that this is “my school.” We promised him: No more school changes.

Well, now we have no choice. We’re putting a good face on it for him and emphasizing the friends he will still go to school with (like a family moving houses). But, really, he’ll have a new teacher, a new building, will have mostly classmates he doesn’t know…it’s going to be a lot like a another new school. AND he’s facing another move in a year or two wherever the APP group goes next. That’ll be FIVE elementary schools in six years by the time he finishes 5th grade.

Could he AT LEAST have the continuity of administrators, a librarian, music, art, and PE teachers for the next three years (wherever they are actually housed)? Please.

-Needing Continuity

Anonymous said...

To needing Continuity and others,

I would just gently suggest that any parent who makes promises or gurantees to their child about school should be very careful about what promises they make. Coming out at the end of a very long time in SPS with my kids, one thing I have learned is not to promise anything. Teachers quit, classrooms move, principals change - all these can happen over the summer without your knowledge or input.

I know that all kids need reassurance, and some deal with more anxiety about change than others- I have one myself. But having that child meant I had to learn that I cannot make any guarantees or promises, and that in fact, life was not going to be full of guarantees or promises. Unfortunately, part of growing older means that you do need to help your kids learn that lesson. (Example: Try college application time for anxiety and the realization that you are smack up against forces you can't control - and that even if your child did everything right, its still not enough sometimes. That one's an an eye-opener)

I am not trying to minimize the feelings here or the situation. But the reality is, you cannot guarantee things that are out of your control. And neither can Seattle Public Schools.

I certainly wish the Lowell community best of luck, and hope the move goes well.

Signed,

Veteran

Anonymous said...

Amen Veteran. The best way to assure continuity, if that's your highest priority, is to keep your student in their neighborhood school. If you signed up for APP, then "continuity" isn't your highest priority, by definition.

What about APP students in the Lowell walk zone? What is the status? Lincoln? TM? Choice of the 2?

-Bike to School

joanna said...

I would assume that since APP is the the program with the largest numbers that at least some of the specialists such as the art teacher etc. will move with them. How many specialists can the other program at Lowell drive? I think this should be a concern both for the students and for the budget.

David said...

Susan, a positive attitude does not make reality disappear.

Lowell APP will be at Lincoln temporarily next year. After that, all the children will have to move again, most likely split across two other schools, making three elementary APP sites total.

That is reality. Ignoring it and smiling doesn't make it go away.

wsnorth said...

Sadly, with SPS you can't promise your kids anything. Promises of "10% open choice seats" (and many many more) are just here today, gone tomorrow with this district.

It's so sad, incompetent, disruptive, evil, even.

Why don't they just leave it at Lincoln, and be done?

Melissa Westbrook said...

And what about those who remain behind at Lowell?

If APP isn't in Lowell, I have to wonder if Lowell's building will make the BEX IV list? Kay said the Central area had a lot of kids in private schools; maybe more would come back if there is room at Lowell.

kelley said...

I you all are so unhappy with SPS why don't you move to private schools. Do you realize how hard it is to run an organization that serves 47,000 students, 60% who live in poverty, speak 100 languages, over 15% children with disabilities and is on the front page of the paper every other day for things that a few people do to mess it up for the rest of us? Get a grip!! Your children are very blessed to have parents who have time money and energy to be involved and have brains that work at a very high level.

brilliant said...

Hey, that's a great idea, Kelley. Let's all leave Seattle public schools, vote in vouchers, vote down educational levies, and leave behind a wreck of a public school system only holding those children who don't manage to get out. There's a plan!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely the art teacher, music teacher and other specialists should go with the APP kids. It's the APP cohort's numbers that made those programs possible at Lowell. We must insist that our kids get the same education opportunities they would have had if all this hadn't happened.

That's only right and fair.

- Realist

David said...

The attacks on APP will never stop, not even when we are down. Thanks, Kelley, for so aptly demonstrating that.

Anonymous said...

APP has been treated shabbily. So too the 2 populations remaining at Lowell. But APP is going to make matters worse if its members are jockeying and whining here for the art and music teacher. It helps none of the populations, most of all APPs.

A better choice is to use this space for all three populations to create a running list of concerns. The district once again has shown the planning prowess of a paper bag. So help downtown. Give them a list of items they need to resolve. Dividing staff is but one of many issues.

-skeptical-

WV says kajack. Don't want to see you kajacking the teachers to Lincoln because you are 'entitled'.

dan dempsey said...

Hey Kelly,

You said:
"Do you realize how hard it is to run an organization that serves 47,000 students,"

Humm so far with a leadership team that continually refuses to intelligently apply relevant data to decision making ... I would say it is impossible to run this organization effectively, under such leadership.

Listen to what Dorothy Neville had to say at the last board meeting. It is clear that leadership's rejection of evidence has produced numerous calamities.

YUP with the current set of Directors it is clearly impossible to run this district in an effective fashion.

Lori said...

Let's not get too worked up over one person's anonymous comments. Realist does not speak for me or the many APP families that I know when he/she says that the APP kids are somehow entitled to take PCP staff to Lincoln with them.

The teachers should have some choice and do what's right for them. Maybe some are tired of commuting to Lowell and would prefer to be at Lincoln. Maybe others prefer to stay at Lowell. Who knows. But it should be their choice, and I don't want to see Lowell families pitted against one another fighting about this sort of stuff.

There are no real winners in this situation, neither the kids who are being moved nor those staying behind asked for any of this to happen. Let's be sensitive to all involved, please.

none1111 said...

Lori is absolutely right. Realist does not speak for all of us.

Let's assume the APP classroom teachers all move with the students (although I hesitate to assume anything these days), but the PCP staff should have the right to choose. Or at least they should have a good deal to say in the matter.

When Lowell was (stupidly) split 2 years ago, the staff was consulted with and given a lot of say in which building they taught at post-split. The same thing should happen now.

looking for the positive said...

BB said: I like to look at the positive wherever I can.

Speaking of looking for something positive, if the program moves to Lincoln and gets a new principal, who knows, perhaps some of the amazing, experienced APP staff that jumped ship might be willing to return. ;-)

At the very least, we could hope for a stemming of the exodus.

BTW Kelley, SPS is not 60% living in poverty. It's just over 40% FRL. It doesn't help your cause to wildly exaggerate or pull numbers out of thin air.

PGE: tool for improvement or decimation? said...

Could the teachers come back with a new principal? Well, not the ones who signed the agreement to leave that states that they won't get a negative report in their file but that they will never ever work in SPS again.

Not unless someone realizes that those letters signed under duress were not in the best interest of the district. Sure, the teachers could improve and should have been afforded the support and PD to improve. But....

Anonymous said...

Absolutely the art teacher, music teacher and other specialists should go with the APP kids. the APP cohort's numbers that made those programs possible at Lowell.

That's only right and fair.


...

Why don't they just leave it at Lincoln, and be done?

The attacks on APP will never stop, not even when we are down.


Right. We are entitled to an attendance area school, entitled to all the specialists at Lowell because we "drive" them", entitled to a special program, entitled to a Lincoln (an interim site school), entitled to a cohort no matter how large it gets hopefully all in 1 school.

--entitled

Stu said...

I'm glad that the district listened to the APP advocates and is moving the whole cohort for the year. I think I would have liked to have seen them commit them to 2 years, so they could really take the time to do some planning, without heading into "crises" mode again in the spring.

stu

Anonymous said...

The teachers should have some choice and do what's right for them.

This totally makes sense to me. My hope would be that the APP program has staff who want to be there going forward and who, hopefully, are committed to seeing the program and students through to a longer-term home. Whether they are new or moving with the program, I still say that continuity of staff in the next few years would help mean a lot. For my son and for the other children, it would at least contribute to the sense that they belong to a school community, despite changing buildings.

--Needing Continuity

Anonymous said...

My understanding -- and I may well be wrong -- is that, administratively, APP at Lincoln would be regarded as essentially a "satellite campus" of Lowell. All the APP kids will still be officially enrolled at Lowell this fall, regardless of what happens the year after.

That probably means some staff and resources will be shared between the two physical sites since they'd still be paid for out of the same budget, etc. The art, music and PE teachers are supposed to serve the entire student population after all, not just the students in one program. I'm not sure how that would work but I suspect they may not get to choose which site they're at, or whether they gave to split their days between the two.

Just an interested observer

Stu said...

That probably means some staff and resources will be shared between the two physical sites

Yeah, I'm not sure how this turned into such a controversy . . .it's so far down on the list of problems. It's just a matter of scheduling, isn't it? So, you look at the enrollment numbers and you have the music teacher go to Lowell for 2 or 3 days and then to Lincoln for 2 or 3 days. Same with Art or PE. Or, they rotate week by week. Music/Art/PE for a week at Lowell then Music/Art/PE for Lincoln.

Again, the salary's the same, the amount of time is the same . . . it's not like you're having teachers drive to Spokane for a day . . it's a couple of miles difference.

So simple a VAX could do it!

stu

Susan said...

This is all very interesting. Promising that parents being listened to but more proof that Seattle schools are choatic. We chose private school 10 years ago for two reasons: Lowell was too far south for a northend young kid to attend and the choas in the public schools. It looks like the northend gifted kids will benefit from the move but the chaos remains.
Susan

Stu said...

So, the next question is when we can have some sort of "work party" to help make Lincoln ready? Or is there a way to help teachers move, when they decide who's going where . . . or anything else we can do to support the students?

stu

Anonymous said...

Stu-

Did you see the email sent out by the Lowell PTA this morning? They are looking for people to help out at both Lowell and Lincoln.

You can access the form here:

http://lowelles.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=235094

Sorry, I don't know how to do the live links.

APP parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kelley, you are right on your points about the make-up of the district. What you are not right about is these parents' right to advocate for their child.

Every single child in this district has a right to have their educational needs met, no matter where they are on the academic spectrum.

Yes, your children take your lead on how you present situations to them. But school changes are a BIG deal to kids as school is one of the constants in a child's life. Ask anyone who had their school closed.

"So help downtown. Give them a list of items they need to resolve."

Good idea, Skeptical, if I thought they would listen. I'm sure APP leaders are doing this right now but the district is not famous for listening to community.

Floor Pie said...

As an observer, I feel strangely hopeful about this development. I really wasn't expecting that the district would change its plans to suit the families' requests, but they did. And it seems like they're giving the parent community what they wanted -- to keep the APP cohort together. It's a start, right?

Both my kids are facing big changes this year (daughter's preschool moved to a new location, son is moving from option school to neighborhood school with an inclusion program). It's a disruption, and it's not ideal, but there's a lot of hope there, too. Children are incredibly resilient, even anxious ones like mine (ours?). I recommend Elizabeth Crary's book Dealing With Disappointment. Good, practical stuff in there.

Good luck, Lowell APP families. (And welcome to the neighborhood!)

Sarah said...

"So, you look at the enrollment numbers and you have the music teacher go to Lowell for 2 or 3 days and then to Lincoln for 2 or 3 days. Same with Art or PE. Or, they rotate week by week. Music/Art/PE for a week at Lowell then Music/Art/PE for Lincoln."

As a former arts teacher, I can say that this isn't an easy fix and is a bit insulting to the PCP teachers. Teachers are entitled to a classroom. Unlike instrumental music, art teachers and general music teachers need a set up room, the same as any general classroom teacher. Imagine lugging gallons and gallons of paint, papers and supplies to 2 different locations. Or 30 xylophones in one car. Or PE equipment. If they are given the same budget and not even a promised designated "space" in each building, the students suffer great curriculum ideas because the materials wouldn't be available. They then resort to what's available to be easily transported, which is a lot of paper projects. They should be given a huge voice in this.

More than any teachers, it's the PCP teachers who need a designated space. I'd like to see their plan for coming up with that. And a decent space (it was a shame to see the music classroom shrunk down to such a tiny size. My student was a special ed buddy and said that they couldn't even turn the 4 wheelchairs around successfully for dances because there wasn't enough room. Also, does anyone know what happened to the music teacher?)

My overall point is, we should provide the PCP teachers with the same expectations we would have of a classroom teacher--they need ample and secure space in both locations, they would need more supplies, and a lot of kudos for lugging things back and forth just to fulfill one job (which I believe to be unfair--but given the circumstances, it doesn't appear that there is another option). They do so much more for Lowell than we sometimes realize, and it's not as easy to just toss them around from building to building as we'd like to think.

kelley said...

What do you think it will take to elect strong leaders for the school board? They are very concerned about re-election and are politically motivated. I agree that the "district" has not done good job with many issues and after thinking about it more today, this move is going to be really hard on kids and families, especially if it is for one year only. Just wondering about how to be more productive with our comments and seeking solutions rather then just complaining.

NESeattleMom said...

My 8 yr. old son is looking forward to going to Lincoln, incidentally my alma mater...

My 8th grader attended Hamilton at Lincoln, now is next door at Hamilton, incidentally also my alma mater.

We all think this is working out OK for us for now--hope Lowell is OK.

I hope they can go to the Wallingford playground for recess. Does anyone know if that is possible?

Also, it will be fun for Hamilton to have their music performances at our son's elementary school.

Will APP be called APP at Lincoln?, or Northend APP? or what?

I think it is not going to go back to Lowell.

Stu said...

Teachers are entitled to a classroom. Unlike instrumental music, art teachers and general music teachers need a set up room, the same as any general classroom teacher.

Sarah,

I agree with you . . . I never said that art and music teachers should be taking their stuff back and forth. I assume, though with this district that's never safe, that and art room and music room will be set up, if it isn't there already because of all the other schools that use Lincoln, for the year.

Perhaps the APP kids share teachers with the other Lowell kids, maybe they piggy back with the MacDonald kids who are; art and music need spaces and I expect Lincoln to have those.

stu

Anonymous said...

Thanking Susan Enfield for "listening and responding" to the Floe and APP messes is like thanking the pyromaniac on the fire department for putting out the fires that she started.

--Fool me once, shame on me; fool me this many times and then say "thanks"????

Maria said...

It seems like we could use an APP Booster Club in Seattle...an avenue for championing our children unabashedly, and gliding past any of their detractors. For example, check out what Puyallup does: http://www.questabc.org/blog/about/
Time to sing out for highly capable kids and their needs!

Bend with the winds of change said...

In Re: Kids worrying over school changes/transfers/etc.

While I realize that kids are all different, it is true that, at least at these young ages, they take strong cues from their parents. If the parents maintain a positive and enthusiastic attitude about moving from Lowell to Lincoln, the kids will generally follow this lead. Even a fretful kid can be channeled at a minimum to reduce stress over a change.

And, never make promises that you can't have iron-clad control over. That is, don't promise that you will never change their school (or whatever) again. S- happens (one of the few things in life that can be guaranteed is that problems will arise) and you must be flexible and help the kids to be flexible too -- which they generally are.