SPS News and Updates

This story from the Times on Roosevelt's Ruben Van Kempen, drama teacher and director extraordinaire who will be inducted into the Educational Theatre Association's Hall of Fame in San Diego this week.  One interesting item that most don't know - RHS offers the only full-time theater program in SPS with multiple classes.   His legacy (but he's not going anywhere) - this from a student:

"He instilled a belief in me, a belief in following my passions and dreams. Whether I'd gone on to be an engineer or a teacher or anything else, I'd appreciate what he gave me at a really important time."

An accomplished stage director as well as an innovative teacher, Van Kempen has trained and inspired dozens of theater professionals, working from here to Broadway.

They include Chad Kimball, a recent Tony Award nominee in the Broadway musical "Memphis," as well as Noah Racey, a busy performer-choreographer who'll be the lead in the 5th Avenue Theatre's new production of "The Music Man," and Ryah Nixon (who has starred at Village Theatre and ACT Theatre), among others.

Big shout out to Seattle Public Libraries for their support of Seattle Schools libraries.  From their newsletter:

Since 2009, Friends of The Seattle Public Library has given away ofver 20,000 books to teachers from Seattle public schools through its Books for Teachers program.  This year, the Friends has taken book giveaways a step further, partnering with Discover Books and PCC Natural Markets to facilitate the giveaway of 9,000 books to Seattle's schools.

In May and June, Sanislo, Rainier View, and Thurgood Marshall elementary schools received books.  During the upcoming school year, one elementary school per month will receive at least 2,000 books. 

Friends indeed; thanks to all those generous donors!

SPS This Week

Monday, September 17th - Community Meeting with Superintendent Banda at Mercer Middle School from 6-7:30 pm.

Tuesday, September 18th - Community Meeting with Superintendent Banda at Rainier Beach High School from 6-7:30 pm.

Wednesday, September 19th - School Board meeting at 4:15 pm with public testimony at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 20th
  • Operations Committee Meeting from 4-6 pm, no agenda yet available.
  • BEX IV Community Meeting from 6:30-8:00 pm at Whitman Middle School
Saturday, September 22nd
Board retreat from 10:30 am - 5:30 p.m. at El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Avenue S.  The retreat is open to the public but only for watching with no public input taken. 


Anonymous said…
Positive steps and then a ghost from the past. Silas update.


Public School Parent
Anonymous said…
It's actually Ruben and he's certainly one of the best teachers anywhere. Well deserved!

-Former RHS staff member
Someone said…
Parent beat me to it ;o)

Here's the newest SAO report itself as reference in the article

Special Investigation Report
Anonymous said…
Chicago lawyers for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel tried today to get the court to make the teachers go back to work. The court basically told them to sit down and shut up, that the teachers have the right to strike over the Corporate Reform measures the mayor tried to impose on them.

If a couple more unions grew a pair (hint Seattle Teachers who have to bargain this year) the days of business people, Republicans and The Gates Foundation driving ill-conceived education reform would be done. But teachers MUST stand up.

You know why it's working in Chicago? Because, as many media sources have reported, teachers circumvented the local newspaper and the mayor and the business blowhards and took their complaints about dumb ed reforms and lack of funding to the parent community, which largely has backed them.

Learn your lesson Seattle.

Striker Liker
Anonymous said…
It is too bad that the theater program at Roosevelt isn't offered at other high schools too. I am hoping that someday all the regular high schools will offer all the same programs and that if you want something special you go to an option school. Do we even have a performing arts high school? I know the theater program at Hale has been growing by leaps and bounds but it still has a long way to go.

mirmac1 said…
Rahm tried to flip the judge the bird but was rendered speechless (for those of you puzzled by this remark, you need to watch Obama's roast of Emanuel, when he joked about Rahm's unfortunate loss of his middle finger - likely during CBA negos)
Anonymous said…
The drama program, as well as the music programs, are possible because of lots of parent support ($).

Anonymous said…
Same at Hale. It is the parents who resurrected it.

Anonymous said…
Just got this from the SNAPP PTA:


Dear Lincoln Families,

The SNAPP PTA Board would like to take this opportunity to voice our serious concern regarding the recently released Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy plan, which will be voted on by the School Board on October 12th and by Seattle voters in February 2013. If approved, the BEX IV levy will provide capital funding for 6 years (2014-2019) to help with building remodeling, replacement, and new facility projects district-wide.

We are very troubled by the lack of a clearly defined plan for APP@Lincoln and the uncertain future of north-end elementary APP. We are therefore asking families to attend the first BEX IV community meeting, this Thursday, September 20th from 6:30-8PM at Whitman Middle School (9201 15th Ave NW).

We have 3 major concerns at this time:
1: APP@ Lincoln has no clearly designated building assignment in this latest iteration of BEX IV projects. Because the district considers APP@Lincoln to be a program, not a school, they can "slice and dice" us as they see fit to meet capacity needs rather than to meet advanced learners' needs.
2: As a program, our placement is decided by the Teaching and Learning department, which is currently lacking a director and interim director due to recent personnel changes within the district. Without decision-makers who understand the academic, social, and emotional needs of highly capable learners, our school remains an easy target for displacement and disbandment.
3: The district is not utilizing student roll-up data (ie, projecting which middle schools current elementary students will attend based on current elementary assignment patterns rather than home addresses) to assess needs for middle-school capacity. As a result, the district is not building sufficient middle-school seats in our region.

Our community demand has remained constant:
Give APP@Lincoln school status and an appropriate, permanent building north of the ship canal.

Community action is needed NOW:

Help coordinate the rally: contact seattlenorthapp@gmail.com
Attend the meeting on September 20th and be a voice. Click here to view recommended talking points.
Wear red to show your dragon support.
Send comments to capacity@seattleschools.org and email Superintendent Banda and the School Board.
Please copy seattlenorthapp@gmail.com so that we can track the number of messages sent in support of our cause.

Now is the time for our community to be heard, before the School Board votes on the final BEX IV plan on October 12th. Based on the last 5 years of disruption and upheaval, the SNAPP community deserves a plan for our children's futures. Without such a plan, we cannot in good faith support the levy as currently drafted.

We will discuss the levy in more detail at the Oct 2nd general PTA meeting and vote on whether SNAPP PTA, as a membership organization, should support the levy going forward.

Thank you in advance for speaking out and advocating on behalf of our children and community as we work to find an appropriate permanent location for our school.

SNAPP PTA Executive Board


Anonymous said…
In other news:

HIMS families were informed today that in additon to the regular early dismissal days, they will be adding an additional 15 early dismissal days to the school year.

In Oct and Nov students will not attend a full week of school.

In Nov, in addition to 3 early dismissal days, students will not have school on Nov 11 (Veterns Day) Nov 21 (conferences) followed by Thanksgiving break. This means that 7 of the 22 teaching days are impacted.

HIMS Parent
Anonymous said…
APP Dad posted:
" The district is not utilizing student roll-up data (ie, projecting which middle schools current elementary students will attend based on current elementary assignment patterns rather than home addresses) to assess needs for middle-school capacity. As a result, the district is not building sufficient middle-school seats in our region."

Yikes! Maybe this is why middle school capacity is already such a mess in N. Seattle!

-North End Mom

Anonymous said…
Based on the last 5 years of disruption and upheaval, the SNAPP community deserves a plan for our children's futures. Without such a plan, we cannot in good faith support the levy as currently drafted.

I get the frustration of the past few years, but "deserves"? This is the entitlement mentality that gives APP parents a bad rap. Yes, a plan is needed. And without passage of the levy, things will not improve for anyone, APP included.
Anonymous said…
My issue with the levy is that $600 M is a totally reasonable number for a building levy. $100M a year is a reasonable budget for a district this size.

The problem that $100M per year is enough to do the maintenance but it is not enough to pay for the bad management and the enrollment growth.

So who is supposed to pay the bill for bad management? There is often state or federal money for capital projects that are related to growth? I think there is only federal money for banks that have bad management, not school districts.

- north seattle parent
Anonymous said…
RE: retreat at El Centro, will DeBell speak Spanish again?

Mr White
Charlie Mas said…
I went to the first community meeting this evening at Mercer. It was a big nothing.

All of Mr. Banda's answers were pure politics. He didn't actually say anything. And anything he did say he quickly contradicted.

He's not taking any action right away; he's going to start by listening and getting to know the district. Except that he's taking a lot of action. He's moving forward with the initiatives that are already in place. But he's not starting any new initiatives, except for the new initiatives he's starting like the Race to the Top grant application and the BEX IV planning. They want a lot of community input on those things, which they will get as soon as they have made the decisions. But other than that he's going to stay the course. What course? He can't really say. There's going to be more centralized decision-making and standardization. Unless you don't like that, in which case there is going to be lots of autonomy for schools, but only autonomy to do good things, not bad things.

Seriously, it was just a bizarre, empty, political, and self-contradictory ramblefest. He didn't answer a single question. The very first question was about Special Education and he totally fumbled it. The question was about governance. It was about authority. But he didn't hear it. He said that he and his cabinet talked about special education all the time.

There was a question about advanced learning. What do you know, he and his cabinet had spoken about advanced learning just today. Apparently he didn't remember what was said. Then Michael Tolley spoke about APP and got the name of the program wrong.

Actually, no matter what issue you raised, he and his cabinet were just talking about that. They may have been talking, but they must not have said very much because he couldn't report anything about the conversation.

The only thing I really want is some candor, but there was none to be had tonight at Mercer.
Anonymous said…
That is so disappointing Charlie.

mirmac1 said…
Can this be true?

"Just received a note from Hamilton yesterday informing parents of 15 early
release days in addition to the five set by the district."

Twenty half-days!!!?? We all know half-days at MS level means 20 min periods and next to no work. That 180 day calendar is getting shorter and shorter.
Anonymous said…
It's true. By my count, there will be (155) full days, (20) 2-hr early release days, and (2) 1-hr early release days, for a total of 1020 instructional hours. For comparison, (180) 6-hr days is 1080 instructional hours.

a HIMS parent
Anonymous said…
September 17, 2012

Dear Hamilton Families,

Last spring HIMS proposed a calendar that included several late arrival days to support the on-going professional learning of our staff. The purpose of the time is to provide collaborative planning opportunities for teachers and to support our work in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). In early August we learned that the district transportation department would not be able to accommodate the late start days and we needed to consider other options.

After working with the building leadership teams (BLT-A & BLT-B), consulting with members of the PTSA board and other stakeholders it was determined to move to a 2-hour early dismissal schedule, similar to the district directed 2-hour early dismissal days occurring September 26, October 31, February 6, March 6 and May 15 of this school year. In order to provided predictability and consistency we have chosen to have the early dismissal days on Wednesdays throughout the school year. We have now finalized that schedule and I want to share it with you.

As a school, we recognize that an early dismissal schedule places a different and often difficult burden on families. In light of those considerations we have collaborated with our HOST program to create a series of options for students on almost all of the early dismissal days and information about those opportunities will be shared with you soon.

The dates for the 2-hour early dismissals this year are:

September 26
October 10, 17, 31
November 7, 14, 28
December 12
January 23, 30
February 6, 20, 27
March 6, 20
April 3, 24
May 8, 15, 29
June none

In addition to the collaborative planning time for teachers, conferences were identified as a priority by parents and our staff. We have identified November 21, 2012 as a day to hold conferences. As a result November 21, 2012 will not be a school day for students. More information about conferences will be shared as that date approaches.

Throughout the school year I will be sharing with you some of the work of our teachers and its impact on student learning. We are grateful to our community for your support of our Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s).

Cindy Watters
Hamilton International Middle School

Another HIMS Parent
Anonymous said…
Another day of no teaching at HIMS coming up for 8th graders:
Sept. 21 Eighth Grade Skate Party, 9:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Lynnwood Skate & Bowl
School just started and we had one (1) full week of school last week and we won't have another one for months.
- Thank you HIMS (we like you anyway!)

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