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Monday, September 24, 2012

BEX IV Meeting tonight at Madison

School District officials bring their BEX IV road show to Madison Middle School in West Seattle tonight. The event begins at 6:30 with introductions and their slide presentation. They also have a handout. Followed by twenty minutes of Q & A from cards, twenty minutes of Q & A from the floor, and twenty minutes of "Individual Time With Staff".

I hope to be there tonight because I have some questions

Slide 11 of the slideshow "BEX IV Capital Levy: Addressing Challenges in Every Region" says that they will use BEX IV to "Provide equitable program distribution including Accelerated Progress Program (APP), STEM, International Education, etc." How will they do this when the new Board Policy 2200, Equitable access to programs and services, puts the creation and relocation of STEM and international education programs outside district level authority?

The handout shows the intention of creating an additional 366 seats for The NOVA Project. Added to the current capacity of about 340, the school's capacity would be about 700. So I have to ask: Are there 700 students who want to enroll at NOVA? Can the NOVA model be expanded to 700? Can 700 students fit on the Mann property? What community engagement was done around this plan to more than double the enrollment at NOVA? In case you're wondering, yes it is an ADDITIONAL 366 seats. It is clearly labeled "capacity added" and the situation is analogous to Schmitz Park's move to Genesse Hill which shows capacity added of 0-149. Other reports which show the net increase in high school seats show all of the 366 seats as net additional capacity without reflecting any loss of the current capacity of NOVA at Meany.

Four years ago there was a middle school at Meany, NOVA was at Mann, and the World School was in an old elementary school close to downtown. After all of this work is done there will be a middle school at Meany, NOVA will be at Mann, and the World School will be in an old elementary school close to downtown. We will essentially be right back where we started, but the District will have disrupted three communities twice and spent over $100 million. Is anyone going to acknowledge that?

Will the District pay the full cost of moving NOVA this time or will I, once again, have half of the school stored in my basement over the summer?

The site for NOVA has been determined to be the Mann building. How did the site for NOVA get determined? What was the process for that decision?


What, for that matter, has been the process for any of the program placement decisions of the past two years?

Slide 15 shows an intention to modernize a facility for the World School in the Washington Service Area, but there is no dot on the map for the World School. On the handout is says that the site is "To Be Determined". How will that site be determined? What is the process for that decision?

Slide 15 also shows a plan for an "interim" Downtown School, but there's no dot on the map for it. How will the District determine a site for this school?

Where are the projections which show enrollment downtown? The last numbers from the District showed the expected increase in K-5 enrollment in that part of town to be about 70. Why can't Hay, Lowell, TT Minor, and Gatzert meet the demand for K-5 capacity downtown?


If there are so many children downtown, why don't we need a downtown middle or high school?

If the District is committed to placing programs where students live, then should we expect the new Thornton Creek school to be an elementary APP site? That's near a large number of elementary APP students' homes. Why wouldn't it be? Are there other children who are more entitled to a school close to their home? Why couldn't the building be shared?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't hog the meeting Charlie. I want to know what they're going to do with an Arbor Heights on steriods, and Roxhill in a cramped building on the edge of its assignment area.... I'm sure the days of Roxhill are numbered. : (

neighbor

Jan said...

Charlie -- from the slide on the use of the interim facilities, it seemed pretty obvious that the new WP elementary was the destination of APP. BUT -- another REALLY GREAT reason for siting it at Thornton creek is that both schools are option schools. This means that, unlike a neighborhood assignment school, each school can control its census. Frankly BOTH schools are at risk, if cohoused with a neighborhood assignment school, of losing their location to population increases. EACH of these populations ought to be clamoring to be housed with the other, to prevent the kind of devastation that was wreaked on Lowell when the neighborhood program crowded the APP program out.

Anonymous said...

That "equitable program distribution including APP" bit sure suggests another split to me... But maybe (fingers crossed) I'm missing something?

ELB

Anonymous said...

way fewer schools are getting seismic upgrades. It was 60, now 30-something.
-beth

Charlie Mas said...

Which schools got bumped from the seismic upgrade list?

Anonymous said...

Let's assume the levy passes and buildings are constructed as planned - what will the district do with students in the interim? New buildings are years and years away and buildings are getting even more overcrowded. The number of interim sites is limited and you can only add so many portables.

Charlie Mas said...

The meeting was the usual District staff Kabuki but with a couple of particularly heart-wrenching elements.

The meeting opened with a video featuring the BEX III projects and people at South Shore saying "This wonderful new school building tells our students that the community values their education." That was a pretty tactless thing to show Arbor Heights families. What does the condition of their school building tell their students about how the community value their education?

The District wants these families to wait until 2019 for their school to be renovated. The Arbor Heights community is saying that the school building presents a health risk. They ask, how are these other projects more urgent than fixing Arbor Heights?

The District, however, says that the need to create capacity is more urgent than the need to fix Arbor Heights. They say the money is going to come in over the course of several years and the spending can't get ahead of the revenue.

We also learned that the District has been breaking promises made to the K-5 STEM community. They have no supplies - none - and the two science labs that they were promised would be ready on opening day are not ready at all. Why did these people think that the District would break their perfect record of never keeping promises?

It turns out that the science labs for K5 STEM are on the shopping list for BEX IV.

The District is also jerking them around by not making any decision about their eventual location. The STEM families are presuming it will be Fairmount Park, but I don't think it will be. If it were, then the District would have said as much by now. It could, instead, be Roxhill or E.C. Hughes.

There is no way of knowing what the District will decide. Nor is there any way of knowing how the District will decide. Their process is a secret which they refuse to divulge.

Somehow, through this secret program placement process that no one claims to know or understand, the District has decided that NOVA will be moved back to Mann and that the World School will be moved to TT Minor. No one can tell how those decisions were made.

There was no new information provided at the meeting - not from the District and not from the community. The whole exercise seemed pro forma, ritualistic, and pointless. The Arbor Heights families tried to shame the District staff and the District staff showed that they are shameless.

mirmac1 said...

I tire of hearing the asst superintendents NOT answer questions. It's like their playing a game, how can I speak for two minutes while not saying anything or answering your question. This was so for Brockman's non-answer re: Fairmount Park and for McEvoy's answer for the Downtown School that's now called an "interim site" and slated for 2014 to 2019 (great specifics, folks).

Eileen said...

"The Arbor Heights families tried to shame the District staff and the District staff showed that they are shameless."

Sad but true.

Melissa Westbrook said...


"The District, however, says that the need to create capacity is more urgent than the need to fix Arbor Heights."

They said that? Out loud? I'm thinking Banda needs a walk-thru of that building. It's a disgrace.

And they showed a video with South Shore saying they liked their new building? Unbelievable especially since the New School Foundation practically threatened to take their toys and leave if they didn't get that new building. (This was NOT the South Shore parents.)

What a mess. I have no faith in any outcome.

G n A said...

Banda visited Arbor Heights in May.
http://westseattleblog.com/2012/05/video-arbor-heights-hosts-superintendent-to-be-jose-banda

kellie said...

I believe that the core of the issue is that BEX is really pennies on the dollar for the problems that need to be fixed. It is approximately $100M per year for six years for capital spending.

Unfortunately $100M per year won't put a dent into the deferred maintenance, let alone expand capacity and replace failing building. I hate this argument where "my building is worse than your building because it is falling apart vs my building has more students in portables than in the building."

Simply put, money doesn't solve everything but it would sure help. I wish there was someone with the job of finding money for capacity projects from other sources.

Anonymous said...

Okay I hope I got this right:

Schools from april BEX meetings listed on seismic project list. starred schools are still listed. (forgive typos please)

Aki Karuse*
Graham Hill*
Van Asselt
Wing Luke
Arbor Heights
Boren
Hughes
Roxhill*
Addams*
Decatur (Thorton Creek)*
Eckstein*
John MArshall
Olympic Hills
Pinehurst*
Rogers*
Sacajawea*
Sand Point*
View Ridge*
Wedgewood*
Larelhurst*
Lincoln School
Alki*
Fairmont Park
Gatewood*
Genesse Hill
Lafayette*
Schmitz PArk
Blaine*
MAgnolia
McClure*
Queen Anne
Beacon Hill*
Columbia
Dearborn Park*
Kimball*
Maple*
Mercer*
Whitworth-Orca*
Leschi*
Lowell*
Mann
McGilvra*
Meany
Montlake*
Muir*
TT Minor
Washington*
Adams*
Bagley
Broadview-Thompson*
Loyal Heights*
Monroe (Salmon BAy)
North Beach
Northgate*
Whitman*
Wilson PAcific
Franklin HS*
Ingraham HS*
Rainier Beach HS*
Memorial Stadium

--beth




Anonymous said...

i don't mean to imply it is bad info, just that it was a lot of typing and i hope i transferred it all correctly! :)
-beth

Anonymous said...

@ kellie - I hate this argument where "my building is worse than your building because it is falling apart vs my building has more students in portables than in the building."

Much of the "capacity" issues have been created due to poor policy decisions and the presence of positive feedback loops in certain areas and schools. By contract, negative feedback loops also exist that have perpetuated the capacity issues at certain (positive feedback) schools. People want to go to the schools getting the attention and money and shy away from those that do not. Why can't the district say, "sorry, X school is full, we'll need to send you to Y school until space opens up at X". They did that in my district growing up. We wouldn't be in the same capacity crisis as we are now if that type of "capacity control" measures were in place. Would you rather send you kid to school where it's 55 degrees, rat poop and mold in a class of 18 or have them wait a few extra mins to wash their hands and share a desk in a class of 28? Both are issues that need addressing, yet one is more dire than the other.

~Public School Advocate

kellie said...

@ Public School Advocate

I am not following your argument.

Simply put, capacity problems and building failure problems are management problems. It is not a logistics or tactical problem. Students don't show up in a shocking mass one day without warning. Buildings aren't perfectly fine one day and collapsing the next. Both problems have significant warning signs, years in advance.

Even the infamous baby boomers that took the school system by surprise, took six years from their birth to enter first grade. My mom (born in 46) reminded me the other day that there were 101 students in her first grade class and 77 in her second grade class, because nobody was expecting them. Um, there had already been six years of unprecedented, widely publicized and very well known growth across the country.

The current enrollment was and is entirely predictable because of past policy decisions. I think these feedback loops you mention intensify the situation but they by no means cause it. In many parts of town, there is simply no where to redirect the students.

There are parts of Seattle that were built as family neighborhoods. Due to poor policy decisions, families left these neighborhoods. Then during the school closures of the 80s schools were not closed in a geographically balanced way.

The most glaring example of this was Queen Anne High School and Lincoln High School which were geographically contiguous and in the center of the city were closed rather than say Ingraham and Rainier Beach which were furthest apart and on the opposite edges of the city.

This happened at the elementary level where there would be a chain of 5 geographically contiguous elementary schools closed, creating a vast swath of space where there simply was not an elementary school.

Where are you going to "re-direct" the students when all the contiguous schools are also full? The issue is not a few full schools, it is entire zones with nothing but full schools and parking lots full of portables and the inevitable issue that sooner or later, you run out of permit space for portables.

kellie said...

@ mirmac

I am also frustrated that this issue has dragged on for so long. I first testified about growing enrollment in 2005. A friend asked me the other day how I can still keep plugging at this and all I could say was that my failure to redirect this does not absolve me from trying.

FWIW, I can say that the non-answers from Peggy and Phil give me more hope than the the solid answers from the Manhas and MGJ era. Both were full of very solid and very very wrong answers.

I have been explaining cohort analysis to district personnel for years. When I explained the gaps in the calculation methodology in the projections to Phil Brockman, he got it instantly and took action to help daylight this issue.

When I explained it under the Manhas era, they changed the conversation.

When I explained it to Brad Bernateck and the MGJ era, they changed the source data to match their argument argument, essentially creating their own reality.

I don't disagree with you about the non answers. However, when you are trying to fill a $2 Billion hole with a $100 Million dollar shovel, there aren't any good answers and I would rather deal with someone that understands that.

Jan said...

Boy, do I wish I knew what Kellie knows. Total envy.

I agree, though, that this whole conversation will go really badly if we try to pit one dire need against another -- because we have WAY too many dire needs for the available funds.

I just wish there was a clear analysis, somewhere, of exactly how the District is prioritizing things -- so that we spend every last dollar on dire stuff (which leaves OUT a downtown elementary), and we all know why and how the decisions were made. I recall when Roosevelt was remodeled before GHS due in part to seismic concerns (even though GHS was WAY more run down). Made PERFECT sense to me. I realize we may be talking about schools in MUCH worse shape. But we are going to have to figure out here how to make hard decisions with too little money -- and the best we can hope for is principled decision-making, and NO money to things that don't qualify as "dire," unless all the "dire" stuff has been taken care of first.