Sunday, August 12, 2012

BEX IV Community Meetings

From SPS:

Seattle Public Schools will host three community meetings on September 20, 24 and 27 to share information and ask for comments about building construction projects to be included in the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy package.  Once approved by the School Board, the BEX IV Capital Levy resolution will be submitted to Seattle voters in February 2013.

The community meeting dates are:
Thursday, September 20, 6:30-8:00pm at Whitman Middle School
Monday, September 24, 6:30-8:00pm at Madison Middle School
Thursday, September 27, 6:30-8:00pm at McClure Middle School

For more information on BEX IV, please visit: www.bit.ly/SPSBEX

On this topic, Rep. Reuven Carlyle weighed in on it at his blog.  McClure Middle School is in his neighborhood and he feels that people don't attend it (despite the elementaries around it being full) and that's because of the building.  He could be partially right but most of us know that people will attend a high-performing school no matter the building (see APP).  

But for some odd reason, he goes off on this tangent about RBHS not being full and he complains about the investment of millions of dollars there over the last few years and that they are now implementing a new IB program.  He seems to know the IB program isn't up and running and yet seems to believe the school should be filling.  (It took time at Ingraham, fyi.)  He then says:

But sometimes the under-enrollment is not based on a policy or practice, but instead on what seems like benign systemic neglect of a particular school despite heroic efforts over the years of parents to make improvements. One such school is McClure Middle School, centrally located in the Queen Anne neighborhood.  

If any school can be said to have systemic neglect, it is RBHS.  Yes, they have gotten attention in the last couple of years but only after a decade or more of being left to twist in the wind.  
He then claims that the district's plan hasn't made the headlines of the neighborhood blogs or community newspapers.  He might want to read this blog because we have been discussing it for quite awhile.

He then (and I'll call it naively) says:

McClure is not slated to receive any funding in BEX IV, when I think we can all agree that the school facility—vintage 1960– needs massive investments, if not a total rebuild. Once again, plodding along through another huge levy the McClure community—now serving three major neighborhoods—is left without a strong intervention from the district. 

I have been told that the “bones”—the structure—of the building are solid, and that we need to wait at least until BEX V, in 2019, to even consider a rebuild. But the community was told that exact same thing in BEX II and BEX III, twelve and six years ago, respectively. 

He believes that all these QA and Magnolia parents go to public elementary schools, then scatter away from McClure and it's all because of the building.

This is why it's tough going sometimes with elected officials.  They really think that they know a lot just from their neighborhood.  Or what one district official tells them.  Or what might seem obvious to them.

But he puts out a lot here about RBHS and I'm not sure he's fully informed.  Why he points the finger at them when what he is writing about are capital dollars and the IB program is operating dollars is unclear. 

He puts out a lot here about why McClure deserves a new building without being informed about the huge number of old buildings the district has.  

Or the under-maintenance of most of our buildings.  

Or the cost overruns on several high schools that cause us to have fewer dollars for other buildings.  

Or the overdesign at some buildings that cause us to have fewer dollars for other buildings.  

RBHS?  It doesn't have a new building, either.  It, along with Ingraham and Chief Sealth, won't see any total rebuild like ALL the other comprehensives for a long time.  But I don't think he knows that either. 


Two crucial levy renewals will be on the ballot this school year.  The first, an Operations Levy, funds approximately 30% of the District's operating budget.  Past operating levies partially paid for instructional programs; costs related to full-day kindergarten; a sixth period at high schools; student activities such as athletics, drama and music; bilingual and special education services; textbooks and classroom supplies; transportation and security.  The second, a Capital Levy (BEX IV), funds building and infrastructure projects.  It is expected that BEX IV will, in part, be used to address over capacity issues in the District by creating new or improved classroom space. 

Historically, many PTAs have endorsed the levies, provided a PTA donation to the campaign and school parents have actively volunteered to support passage of the levies. Schools First, the non-profit, volunteer coalition that campaigns for renewal of the levies, has speakers available to come to one of your meetings to share information about the levies and discuss the endorsement/donation process.  Please contact Kerry Cooley-Stroum, who will be on the Scholars at Garfield/PTA Academic Committee this year, at kcs@seanet.com for more information, and to schedule a brief presentation for your September board meeting.  More information is available at www.schoolsfirstseattle.org.


Anonymous said...

A few years ago we sent a kid to McClure for the 6th grade year. For 7th and 8th we chose private school instead. The tiny parochial school we chose made the McClure building look like a palace. The problem with McClure is not the building!

Anonymous said...

A few years ago we sent a kid to McClure for the 6th grade year. For 7th and 8th we chose private school instead. The tiny parochial school we chose made the McClure building look like a palace. The problem with McClure is not the building!

Anonymous said...

Right on Lisa. Its the district and the schools, not really the academics (ok maybe a bit). Its the culture and all the junk that families have to deal with. Who cares what the structure is like.....the important things are much much deeper than the wrappings of the place.

Long gone

Rufus X said...

A couple of things:

Mr. Carlyle writes "I believe that in order for our family and neighbors to move willingly to Lincoln and leave the established and well-functioning Ballard that has been home for so many years..". Wait - so many years? You mean 4? Because I believe it was about 2008 or so that QA/Magnolia high school students were funneled to Ballard HS. Up until then, they had no assigned H.S. But I could be wrong.

Second, I agree with the above posters - it ain't the building, Mr. Carlyle.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that Carlyle thinks the problem with McClure is the building. He has kids going through the public QA schools (our sons are the same age), so he should know QA families do their best to avoid McClure. I know there is a big surge of APP-qualified kids who enter APP for middle school. Some parents were happy enough with the elementary schools on QA to keep their kids there, but they go to Hamilton for middle school.

-it ain't the building

Anonymous said...

Do we know why they are scheduling meetings--are there new proposals or are they revising the proposals or something?

Incoming Parent

Louise said...

One of the main reasons QA & Mag folks don't send their kids to McClure is that QA & Mag folks don't send their kids to McClure. If they beefed up the Spectrum program and other academic offerings perhaps things could (slowly) change. They have at several other schools - Ingraham stands out as one. But parents have to be willing to be the guinea pigs in the early years, and I can sympathize with those not wishing to do so. Carlyle himself sends his kids to Salmon Bay for MS.

JA Parent said...

Incoming parent, I believe the meetings have always been scheduled as part of the process. This is their last shot at public engagement before wrapping it up.

I will say that if a school you're involved with is on the proposal, attend the meeting, and make your wishes known. And follow up with email.

I would not put too much stock in any specifics announced at the meetings. They will always emphasize that the proposal is a work-in-progress until the end, which is certainly true. My school got told unequivicolly what we wanted to hear at the April meeting, and then the exact opposite was on the next draft proposal a couple of weeks later.

Melissa Westbrook said...

JA has it right; BEX IV is evolving and they have promised to keep the community up-to-date.

It is important to note that Superintendent Banda said on KING-5 tv that they were trying to get it down to $600M which is much less than the $800M they were considering. Interestingly, the academic/administrative costs don't go down.

So I hope to see the South Lake Union idea gone.

Anonymous said...

Rueven Carlyle sends his kids to Salmon Bay, which doesn't have Spectrum. You won't find them at McClure. The problem with McClure isn't the predictable cry about "lack of Spectrum". (It has Spectrum. And why is everything always about Spectrum?) The problem is that the school actually has NOTHING at all very good, for anybody. The school principal listens to nobody, not parents, not teachers, not the community. What does she stand for? Nobody knows. The teachers palpably dislike the principal and have filed many union complaints, mostly over the unauthorized 7-period schedule and class overloading. A school is a team. You've got to have a captain that brings people together. What does she say about it? Oh, those teachers are the bad ones resisting my efforts to improve them. Well, she's been there long enough to have developed a cohesive team and to have earned respect. The bullying we see in the students begins with bullying by the school itself. You can't fix one, without fixing the other.

-McClure Parent

Jan said...

What McClure parent says rings so true in "underwhelming" schools. Usually, the principal is the issue. What I don't understand is -- where are the Ed directors? How is this not their exact, precise, number one most critical job? How is it that folks like Bree are busy trying to shovel Martin Floe (who seems to enjoy pretty broad teacher/parent support) out the door over poor test scores, while they allow huge leadership problems like the one at McClure to fester and brew for years! And no -- I don't want this person hired downtown. IF there is a different school level (elementary/high school/alternative) that might be a great fit for a "mis-placed" principal, fine. If it is a good principal who just needs some downtime and might benefit from being an assistant or some other job with less stress for a few years, fine. But it if is just someone who lacks the right caliber of leadership skills to be a principal at all? Then we need to move them out of those positions, and begin finding people who have the desire to really be inspired and inspirational leaders to do these jobs. Bad principals are a management/HR failure -- and ought to be Job #1 for the EDs.

Anonymous said...

The Ed Director for McClure is Nancy Coogan.

She is famous for having as little impact for the good as possible. She ignores problems everywhere and lets them fester.

SPS observer

Anonymous said...

I agree to a degree about Coogan. While I like her personally, she seems to be slow to act on many problem areas in the Magolia-Queen Anne attendance area. Sometimes I think that's just the 'process' though and that process takes a while. So to parents it seems like not much is going on....

Not sure I agree about McClure's leadership though. I think a small group can make a lot of noise, making a problem seem worse than it is. No principal is perfect and it's not uncommon for a principal to face staff resistance to changing 'the way it's been done.' Sometimes that resistance is good because the staff often know what's up, but sometime it's not good. Change is hard, as is finding that cohesive balance.

McClure suffers from an image problem, not altogether deserved, but likely made worse by neighborhood rumors, and certainly not helped by the (uninformed) blog post like Reuven's. Combating that image problem is a big issue.

+also a mcclure parent+

Anonymous said...

Can someone remind me who will be in the John Marshall bldg next fall? Will the school be ready?


Anonymous said...

I think a small group can make a lot of noise, making a problem seem worse than it is.

What "small group" are we talking about anyway? All schools are great, if you ignore the "small group" that they don't work for. That pretty much sums it up for SPS doesn't it? SPS is absolutely GREAT, for quite a lot of teachers and students. But, if the school didn't work for YOUR kid, then the problem is large. I wonder why some parents are so willing to dismiss the issues of other parents? And call their issues "innuendo" or simply "image". I believe if schools focussed on some of the "smaller groups" - then we might close the satisfaction gap.

-McClure parent

Jan said...

You are right, McClure parent. As parents and taxpayers, I think we are at our worst (well, maybe not worst, but in a "bad place") when we define the entire experience through the eyes of our own children, throwing other children and their issues to the wolves -- and I think this is true whether we are among the "well-served" or the "ill-served." Obviously, there is a need for personal advocacy of one's own child, or one's own school. But great decision-making requires that we advocate for the whole system -- the Native American program in a school I have never set foot in, the SBOC that never gets the decent facility it was promised, RBHS and its attendance struggles, APP and its siting, admissions and curricular issues. Moreover, not only do we make less stellar decisions when we think too parochially -- it is also something that District staff instinctively understand and use against parents. They can marginalize any group by anesthetizing their natural support groups with enough "stuff" to make them go to sleep and go away. As various parent groups in Central and North Seattle finally got admission to the neighborhood schools they wanted, how many of us kicked and screamed about the injustices being visited upon West Seattle in the NSAP? I didn't. And I fault myself for it.

Part of this comes from feeling like you can't advocate for really local stuff when you don't really understand it. But some of it is the lack of attention that comes when somebody else's ox is being gored -- but it isn't (thank God) yours -- this time.

You are right that focusing on the discontented groups -- and dealing with their issues -- would increase the satisfaction gap. If enough of us push for it, maybe it will happen.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree that there are areas of improvement at McClure, like there are at all schools I'm sure.

I didn't say anything about ignoring a group, or that you couldn't/shouldn't advocate for your child or any group of children. I'm not dismissing anyone, or I didn't intend to. But I am concerned when I read such broad brush absolutes like "The problem is that the school actually has NOTHING at all very good, for anybody. The school principal listens to nobody, not parents, not teachers, not the community. What does she stand for? Nobody knows. The teachers palpably dislike the principal …"

While this may be the experience for some it's not for all. Or most,I'd venture. That's not the view merely through the eyes of my children, it's speaking to many families and kids directly. Discussing those issues/concerns with the leadership directly and not via a comment is probably the most direct route to resolution. (and I'm not saying that you haven't gone that route, perhaps you have) And sometimes resolution to problems involves a compromise.

My comment was intended to provide another viewpoint - which is- not everyone is unhappy at McClure, the building, the teaching, the staff/ admin. Many are happy to be there. It's important for people (especially prospective parents) to know that side too. That's not advocating for sweeping problems under the rug or ignoring anyone/any group- discontented or otherwise.

+also a mcclure parent+

Rufus X said...

Some numbers - I think I've done the math, but feel free to check my calculations.

From Seattle Schools website:

Number of SPS middle school students who reside in the McClure area: 640

# of SPS middle school students residing in McClure attendance area who are:
**enrolled at McClure - 358 (55%)
**enrolled at Blaine - 146 (23%)
**enrolled at Hamilton - 52 (8%)
**enrolled at any other SPS middle school - 84 (13%)

2011-12 McClure enrollment: 483
# of enrolled students who
**Reside in the McClure attendance area - 358 (76% of enrollment)
**Reside outside the McClure area - 125 (24% of enrollment)

Info on page 27 at this link:


Anonymous said...

Great info! So around 1/2 (55%) of the possible students in the neighborhood and in public school wind up attending McClure. I believe that was posted above too. Then there's many who go to private who aren't counted. That means significantly fewer than 50% are served at McClure. This indicates nothing about the satisfaction level of those attending.

But, from this we see there is actually 1 other school less popular with its residents - Aki Kurose which attracts 48% of the possible students: 529 of 1091 attend Aki.

One other notable thing. The percentage of students from outside the school will likely drop to much lower numbers next year because the district is discontining the busses from the southend starting 2012-13 and students will not be coming from Mercer, Washington, and Aki service areas. Those areas account for 90 students. Without them, school size will drop below 400.

-Number Lover

Anonymous said...

Discussing those issues/concerns with the leadership directly and not via a comment is probably the most direct route to resolution.

Not really. The principal doesn't respond, doesn't answer email, hides even, and ineffectively manages problems - she prefers to simply blame somebody else for everything.

Look. Teachers speak with their feet, when they aren't speaking directly. Last year the school lost 8 teachers. 8! Out of what? 15 or so. This year it's at least another 4 or so. They can't hire a new LA teacher and keep them more than a year. And when teachers do speak directly - many say they wish to leave. These are people hired by the pricipal. You can only use that "Nobody likes change. Those teachers are bad." line once. After that, it's just an excuse for failed leadership. Not to mention the huge backlog of union complaints against her, largest in the district - which may well wind up costing the school money. I'm sure there are excuses for that too.

But, I am genuinely glad the school works for you, and for many others. It is a great neighborhood and it should have an excellent school.

-McClure Parent

Anonymous said...

With an incoming 5th grader, we decided to be proactive and take the McClure tour during 4th grade last spring.

While my child would love to go there because her friends will be attending, there is no way would choose the school.

The principal essentially said, on a TOUR for prospective parents.....

We will not do anything special or differentiated for your kids here (either for the advanced or those who are behind). Our job is to teach them 6-8 curiculum and nothing more. So don't come here if you expect more than the basics.

What the heck? Hell no we aren't going to McClure - and we live just blocks away. We are in one of the public elementary schools on QA with a strong leader who works with staff where each child is seen as an individual and their learning plan is treated as such. It can be done and is being done.

A principal who would say that at a tour strikes me as someone who is trying to weed out the future parents/students who may ask for more. That is a huge problem. And if teacher turnover is as high as reported by McClure parent, that speaks volumes as well.

QA Parent