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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Keep Your Eye on the Bouncing BEX Ball

 Two more updates.

This from the Board agenda as a change to the BEX list - an addition of RBHS for seismic issues and I note the new amount is at $694.9M.

Also, below are notes from a parent who attended a meeting at Jane Addams last night.  This is THEIR reading of what they heard. Anyone else attend who heard the same or different?

Here are a few details about the BEXIV bombshell delivered last night at a meeting at Jane Addams.

District Staff present included Pegi McEvoy, Lucy Morello, Kim Whitworth. Sharon Peaslee was also there, as were at least two FACMAC members.

The Jane Addams K-8 community rejected the Oct 10th proposal, because the enlarged Pinehurst building proposed to house their program was only adequate for 2 classrooms per grade at elementary and 3 cohorts per grade at middle school. The Jane Addams K-8 BEX Task Force group met with District Staff on Friday, and explained to them that the program must have 3 classrooms/cohorts per grade, K-8, in order to fit their instructional model.

The Jane Addams K-8 program will get a brand new building on the Pinehurst site (total building replacement). The school/program will be re-named. The new building will be large enough to house a 3-up configuration, grades K-8.

Cost of new building: $40M
Opening date: Fall 2017
Capacity: 680
Teaching stations/classrooms: 35
(includes choir, music, and art rooms and 2 science labs, SpEd, ELL, etc...)

Environmental habitat building
Green roof
Greenhouse
Landscape to support interation with environment
Outdoor environment to complement classroom learning
Building that supports emphasis on music, the arts and PE


In order to meet a capacity of 680,a 3rd story is required for part of the structure. SPS will request a code variance.



Program: Option E-STEM (environmental science/STEM label), ELL, Self-contained SpEd, Spectrum, on-site childcare.

No room for a developmental preschool.

Jane Addams Middle School would not open until 2017.

There is no intention of moving the Jane Addams K-8 program from the Jane Addams building until the new building is ready for them in 2017.

To cope with middle school enrollment, Pegi McEvoy said that they were looking into rolling up the new Jane Addams Middle School in the John Marshall building prior to the availabilty of the Jane Addams building in 2017. There was no official start date mentioned for this roll-up process, or what schools would make up the feeder pattern for Jane Addams Middle School.

Sharon Peaslee and Kay Smith-Blum were credited for their advocacy of the Jane Addams K-8 program, and for pushing for the $15M increase in BEXIV in order to accomodate adequate programming for the Jane Addams K-8.

104 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the following posting I am copying the last 3 comments on the Eckstein letter thread in order to move the updated discussion here.

And tip of the hat to Board member Betty Patu on the Rainier Beach seismic upgrade. She appears to work hard to be sure her area of the city doesn't get the planning shaft. RBHS is a bit of a 'pile'(but at least it is still open!) It would certainly be reassuring to the community to know the shambles won't collapse in the next earthquake.

SavvyVoter

Anonymous said...


Jan said...
So, as I read this, we are now "back" to "destroying" ONLY ONE school community -- Pinehurst's current alt program? If this all works, I am truly glad for the JA community -- it sounds like a great school, and destroying it by amputating a third of it would have been a sorry waste.

But I can't help feeling like we are all supposed to just say "yay" now and walk off the field -- ignoring the fact that there seems to be no solution here for Pinehurst's kids.

Maybe they can house them at WP with APP (option programs tend to get along well, because neither can "force" the other out through growth). If not that, is there ANY credible plan, ANYwhere for where that community can go? (I am assuming it could move some distance and survive, but probably NOT all the way to, say, RBHS.

10/16/12 1:25 PM

ben said...
I also am very curious if the Pinehurst parents/PTSA have organized and if they have an official position yet?

I should add at the meeting last night the status of Pinehurst was raised several times and everyone was very careful to say the JA community did not want to displace another school. One other option apparently still on the table by the district is whether to build out the north field instead. That being said, its incredibly irresponsible in my book to propose to eliminate a school without at least specifying a transition plan at the same time.

And back to my original question, the district will be building /setting up 3 large middle school's system wide. That's nearly 3000 more projected kids. Lincoln HS will only house 1500? kids. Where does the district plan to put all the other kids when get to 9th grade?

Ben

10/16/12 2:21 PM



Josh Hayes said...
@ben, the Pinehurst community has only started to respond to this, but that's because this was literally out of the blue. I can't help but feel this is by design: district folks wanted to rush this by and make it a done deal before anyone could mobilize in opposition to it.

The fact is, yeah, Pinehurst has gotten two "school of distinction" awards in the last five years; yeah, we had the highest MSP reading score in the city last year, and on and on. (The ultimate frisbee team won their division last fall, too!) None of that matters to the district, because kids are all interchangeable widgets to them: it's just a question of getting seats somewhere, and then the problem is solved, as far as they're concerned.

I don't think that the Pinehurst K-8 community is wedded to the building per se. But there's no proposal for relocation as far as I know, and I suspect the hope is that we'll just shut up and enroll at some, you know, normal school. As it stands, since my youngest child is now in 7th grade, if we're tossed out next year we'll just home-school for a year before high school (or maybe go to Salmon Bay; it is after all our "local" option school, a mere four miles away). I feel bad for the families with younger children at Pinehurst, though, who were encouraged to enroll there by the district's promise to support the school. I've learned by now that everything, everything, the district says, should be ignored. It might be true, it might not, and there's no way to know which it is until something actually happens. Certainly I'm interested to hear whatever proposals the district has for the future of current Pinehurst students, but equally certainly, I won't believe a word of them.

10/16/12 3:14 PM

Eric B said...

@Ben, excellent question about high school capacity. The only answer I have points back to the BEX presentation to the Board. At the high school level, we're predicted to be seriously under capacity everywhere but SE. At the end of the planning cycle, SE has ~800 more seats than students, SW has ~500 less, North has ~1000 less, and Central has ~900 less, for a grand total of ~1600 fewer seats than students. As noted, that's after we build out Lincoln. You can quibble with the projections--I'm using high numbers. However, the "high" numbers assume that things go on about as they have under the NSAP, so they're really more like "medium real" numbers. Kellie had some good explanations under the initial BEX thread. If we go back to "medium", then the whole system is just about even. The really terrifying thing is that we had 11% more K students in the North region and 14% more in SW than projected, so the projections appear to be low at this point.

One thing's for certain, RBHS will be full.

Josh Hayes said...

Eric, I realize Center and NOVA are small, but do you have numbers on how their enrollment relates to capacity? A couple of hundred, maybe? Obviously, if we're about 1600 short, that's a drop in the bucket, but it provides a teeny bit of flexibility (if, of course, parents are convinced to enroll their kids there so as to avoid the crush of the completely full comprehensive high school).

And in the face of all this, it sounds like we'll be about one whole high school short. Since the district will be running around squawking about this in, oh, three years or so ("Gallymanders! Gallymanders! We could never have seen this coming!"), is there anything at all in this current BEX proposal to mitigate for the approaching wave of high schoolers?

Anonymous said...

I'm the parent of a child at John Rogers who will be headed to middle school in 2015. Does anyone know:

1) Can they really hold off opening both comprehensive middle schools until 2017? It seems like a long time, given how over-crowded Eckstein is, and I thought Hamilton and Whitman were full, too.

2) How does a roll-up comprehensive middle school work? Does it start with just sixth grade and adds a class each year? How does the funding for that kind of thing work? Will there be a full selection of electives, Spectrum, band, etc... for the first couple of years?

3) Will the Jane Addams middle school kids get a bus to John Marshall?

4) Is there still room at Shoreline schools for middle school students from Seattle?

Thank you!

-Otter Mom

Tracy @ WSB said...

I came here to see if you guys had scratched up anything new, after clicking through the agenda for tomorrow to the "edited attachment" - which also has a slight change for Arbor Heights, now listed as 2018 instead of 2019. The list (not a PPT): http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/12-13%20agendas/101712agenda/20121017_BEXIV_ProjectSummaryList.pdf

Have an item up on our site now too, as AH plans a rally before tomorrow night's meeting.

Anonymous said...

Where is the downtown school'research money' on the final list? Did it get dropped or is it lurking in small type?

DistrictWatcher

ArchStanton said...

District Watcher asks: Where is the downtown school'research money' on the final list? Did it get dropped or is it lurking in small type?

Melissa posted somewhere: Keep in mind, though. and this IS key:
you are voting for a pot of money, not a list of projects.
Did you get that? Money, not projects.
Under the law, the district, once the vote is yes, gets to do ANYTHING they want with capital money as long as it is capital needs.


That's where the downtown school money is. They just need you to pass the darn thing. They'll take care of the rest.

Eric B said...

@Josh, I don't have numbers right on me, but my recollection is that Center School is about 250 and Nova is about 350-450. Someone please chime in if I'm wrong. You're correct that this puts us about 1 full high school short. The problem is that there's no land to place a high school, so we're looking at portable farms at our existing schools. Those will probably be done under a BTA levy since they're smaller projects. I wouldn't say that people will say that nobody could have foreseen the need for high schools, but the current BEX is maxed out and not fully dealing with the "blowing up right now" issues.

@Otter Mom,
1. Probably not, but I'm not sure how they get a building sooner while still keeping the Jane Addams K-8 school together. It's a tradeoff with two bad options.

2. It sounds like they would add 6th one year, then 7th, then 8th. How you get a full complement of sports, electives, languages, advanced options is a big hairy problem that will take some money. That's part of why school planning needs to start very soon.

3. Students in interim locations should get transportation to the school.

4. I dunno.

Charlie Mas said...

Josh Hayes wrote: "I've learned by now that everything, everything, the district says, should be ignored."

Do not ignore it. When the District promises you something you need to pay close attention because you never know what will happen but you can be absolutely certain that whatever they promised definitely will NOT happen.

seattle citizen said...

So did anyone hear ANYTHING about Pinehurst (nee Alternative School #1) at the Jane Addams meeting or elsewhere? Did anyone hear "understanding the Pinehurst community's concern, we will..."?

Anything?

seattle citizen said...

So did anyone hear ANYTHING about Pinehurst (nee Alternative School #1) at the Jane Addams meeting or elsewhere? Did anyone hear "understanding the Pinehurst community's concern, we will..."?

Anything?

Charlie Mas said...

Here are the enrollment reports for the option and service high schools. The October 1 enrollment totals for grades 9-12 are:
838 at Cleveland STEM
340 at The NOVA Project
285 at The Center School
127 at South Lake High School
130 at Seattle World School
388 at Interagency
169 at Middle College

Otter Mom, good questions.

1) The District will not hold off opening the new comprehensive middle schools for the north until 2017. They will open them at interim sites and do roll-ups.

2) A roll-up comprehensive middle school starts with just a sixth grade and adds a class each year. The funding for that kind of thing is a little funky but they make it work. There can be a full selection of electives such as band. If you check you'll see that a lot of middle schools don't offer much in the way of electives. World languages don't usually start until the seventh grade. There's no problem offering Spectrum for just the sixth grade since it is just the LA/SS block and nothing more. The band and sports experiences are different due to the absence of upper-classmen. The sixth graders are the performance band and the varsity team the first year.

This arrangement, obviously could result in split families since there is no opportunity for the older child to join the younger child in the new school.

3) The Jane Addams middle school kids will get a bus to John Marshall. There will be enough of them to make a yellow bus practical. I don't think they will not be expected to ride METRO.

4) I believe that there is still room at Shoreline schools for middle school students from Seattle. Many left with the NSAP and I don't think Shoreline has grown to fill those empty seats.

Charlie Mas said...

I really, really like the idea of AS#1 sharing a building with APP. That would be ideal. Could AS#1 fill their half of the building?

Benjamin Leis said...

@Charlie. Are you assuming APP will be split into NE/NW? Otherwise I can't see how Lincoln + Pinehurst would fit in the same building.

Ben

Anonymous said...

I thought the future Wilson Pacific middle-schoolers were supposed to start at John Marshall in 2015 ... I can't imagine there is room for both populations (WP and JA).

NW Mom

Josh Hayes said...

Charlie sez:

"I really, really like the idea of AS#1 sharing a building with APP. That would be ideal. Could AS#1 fill their half of the building?"

I suppose that depends on what building we're talking about. Location matters, but the problem is right now NOBODY with any pull has proposed any relocation at all. All they've offered is to "work with the Pinehurst community", which seems to be something along the lines of how grief counselors work with hospice patients. (aggh, sorry, I need to curb my bitterness!) So, how many students are you thinking here? 500? 200? What?

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the plan is for the John Marshall building. On at least one of the more recent proposals, it had it listed as an interim site for Olympic Hills Elementary (from 2015-17)?

Opening in 2017:

Olympic Hills Elementary
Jane Addams K-8@Pinehurst
Jane Addams Middle School
Wilson Pacific Elementary
Wilson Pacific Middle School
Meany Middle School

How will they have interim space needed for these projects!

-North End Mom

seattle citizen said...

Speaking of Wilson Pacific, an important program there now is the Indian Heritage program.

As colonizers moved west across the county, Native peoples were given reservations, only to have them taken away, or vastly reduced in size, as the colonizers decided they needed those lands, whether for gold or for 160 acre homesteads. The Indians under Moses (North Central WA) lost their reservation in the 1870s. So did the Wenatchii. In the early 1860s, here in Seattle, the local Indian agent decided that it was well past time for the Duwamish to get their promised reservation, so he wrote to Washington to ask for it. The local settlers (legend has it that it was EVERY local settler, hastily wrote to Washingont demanding that the Duwamish NOT get a rez. They didn't.
In late 1999, one of the last acts of President Clinton was to grant the Duwamish tribal status. Days later, when Bush's administration came in, that recognition, freshly printed and in the hands of the Duwamish, was yanked away.

So Indian Heritage was given a meeting place, a longhouse of sorts, at Wilson Pacific 16 years ago. In all the planning for WP, did anyone consider that ripping this community out if its home would be yet another example of the dehumanization of Native Americans, the easy failure to see a people and destroy them by accident?

Wilson Pacific, the site, has room for a middle school AND Indian Heritage, perhaps in a sort of community school as envisioned by Kate Martin.

Indian Heritage cannot be moved, without first making yet another treaty, this one inviolate.

seattle citizen said...

Does anyone else find it odd that in the midst of all the discussion about traditional and comprehensive school needs in the north end, two of the most innovative and creative programs, Pinehurst and Indian Heritage, seem to be given little attention? The district has its CAS MOUs, the state might vote in charters, everyone seems to agree that a variety of options is necessary, yet here we are rolling over two option schools with nary a whit of evident concern.
Odd indeed.
(back the debate for me; just had to get that out.)

ConcernedSPSParent said...

I am a bit confused, if JA K-8 moves to Pinehurst what is the need to bus JA middle schoolers to John Marshall?. I am obviously missing a basic fact here:)

Josh Hayes said...

I think the idea would be to move JA to John Marshall as an interim move to free up the JA building for occupation by the (proposed) comprehensive middle school. But I could be wrong!

Anonymous said...

@Concerned SPS Parent-
Current Jane Addams K-8 Environmental Science students will stay intact in their current building until their new school at the Pinehurst location begins in 2017.

Middle school students currently in the Eckstein service area who will soon be assigned to the new Jane Addams comprehensive middle school would potentially be bussed to an interim site like John Marshall.

It's going to be somewhat confusing with Jane Addams now being used to describe two different populations.

@Josh Hayes-
Pegi McEvoy stated last night at the Jane Addams community meeting that the current Jane Addams K-8 community would not be moving to an interim site and would remain intact on the current campus until the new site is ready in 2017.

-bamboo

Anonymous said...

@bamboo

Did she say anything about an interim site for Wilson Pacific?

NW Mom

seattle citizen said...

JA (in an old alternative school building where that program was closed) moves to John Marshall (an old alternative building where that program was closed) and thence to Pinehurst (a current alternative building where that program will be...?)

Does anyone keep track of what happens to students once their alternative programs are closed?

And again, why are these programs closed when the whole world is asking for alternatives?

Curiouser and curiouser.

Anonymous said...

As#1/Pinehurst co-housed with APP could be fantastic because it would allow for wider busing for AS#1 and would give APP families an option to have non app sibs at the same location.

-Preserve choice

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Thanks bamboo.

Anonymous said...

NW Mom -

She (Pegi) did not say anything about the interim WP site.

She said that the current plan is for JA to remain in situ. The entire JA community noted the "current plan" and there were several questions from parents asking why they should trust the district when it never keeps its word.

As a JA parent, I wouldn't say this is being universally viewed as a happy outcome for our school. We love our location and many, many people are worried that moving to a tiny much more urban site with no green space to speak of within walking distance is going to be very damaging to an environmental science school. A green roof and LEED building can only go so far and doesn't mitigate for being on 15th in Northgate without nearby green space for the type of work our students do.

JA Mama

Po3 said...

When all is said and done and the levy passes, is the district bound to do what they said they were going to do?

I recall voting for a levy that had text books and then recall being told there was no money for text books.

And didn't the World School have $10 million from the last BEX levy, where did that money go?

What projects will get shorted due to cost overruns as seen at GHS?



Anonymous said...

I know this is off-topic but could you please start a thread to deal with the proposed staffing cuts the District just announced today? A letter went home to APP@Lincoln parents saying that the District was going to cut a full time class-room teacher and a half-time PCP (art) teacher. We have a 1 - 25 teacher/student ratio so I don't understand why we are losing a classroom teacher.

Are any other schools losing staffing?

APP@Lincoln Parent

Anonymous said...

Staffing is based on the October 1st enrollment numbers at each school. Schools may gain or lose staffing when adjusted through WSS. You would need to find out what the cut-offs are. I know one is @ 451 ... the next lower???

NW Mom

Anonymous said...

So the BEX levy does not guarantee the proposed plans will be carried out and "the district" (Who is that anyway?) can just do whatever he/she wants in terms of new buildings, remodels, retrofits, etc? Sounds exactly like what always happens to special ed space in buildings. When there is a space crunch, sped services are the first to be tossed to closets, portables, or entirely different buildings.

"Dedicated Space" means nothing.

Signed, Sped Parent tired of the shuffle

Patrick said...

JA Mama, I agree this is not a completely happy outcome. The JA building is terrific and a great fit for the environmental science program. And even though the District sees option programs as movable, parents enroll in schools that are convenient to their homes and when they move it's a problem. To say nothing of its effect on Pinehurst.

However, it's a lot better than closing JA completely, or arbitrarily reassigning half the students to other schools. Sections of Thornton Creek are within easy walking distance of Pinehurst. Some garden space will be a priority for the new school.

biliruben said...

As a response to perhaps the 3rd question raising strong concerns for the Pinehurst community at the meeting last night, Pegi suggested that, since Pinehurst and Jane Addams were similar in many ways (that says much about what central admin thinks of option schools, since I don't know how they are similar), that Pinehurst students might get "super seniority" or something at Jane Addams, or perhaps another option school.

I have no idea what Pinehurst thinks about that.

My thought, though I don't think there is money for it, would be to move Pinehurst to Cedar Park. It's the right size at least.

Charlie Mas said...

For APP to be a viable program, it needs a certain critical mass. It needs a cohort big enough to form a learning community. At the elementary level that's about 250 students. Not only does that number work out to the number of classrooms that we would deductively reason are needed, but we also have empirical evidence. We have seen programs of this size do well. With over 500 students at APP @ Lincoln, there are enough elementary APP students in the north-end to form two viable programs.

District officials have made it clear that they want APP to be more accessible geographically. Board policy calls for programs to be placed close to where students live.

These factors lead to the expectation that north-end elementary APP will be split and placed in two locations. One of these locations is going to be Wilson Elementary School. That's pretty clear. The other should be east of the freeway.

At 250 students, each APP cohort will not be big enough to fill a school on its own. More than that, most folks, both within and outside the program, want APP to be co-located with a general education population. If APP is placed in an attendance area school, there is the possibility (some would say the probability) for a capacity conflict when two different populations are both guaranteed access to the building. A better choice for capacity management purposes would be to co-locate APP with an option program. Co-locating APP with an option program would also allow families with a child in APP to have non-APP siblings at the same school, which keeps families together.

So, for a variety of reasons, co-locating with an option school is the best possible outcome for APP.

Wilson Elementary School is going to be very close to Bagley. Too close, I think, for both of them to be attendance area schools. Moreover, since Salmon Bay is going to be in the Whitman service area, there is no current option school for the new Pacific middle school service area. That region will need an option school. By placing an option program at Wilson, the District will allow families in that service area access to an option program, and they will avoid the need to re-draw attendance area boundaries. Given the waitlists at option schools, there is an unmet demand for option school programs in the north.

Charlie Mas said...

I've looked ahead at how the middle school service areas might look after three new middle schools are brought online (Pacific, Jane Addams, and Meany), guessing about what K-8, Option school, elementary APP site, and attendance area schools will be in each middle school feeder pattern.

Most of it is pretty straightforward and easy to reckon. There are only a few schools that could go one way or another.

Mercer looks really full; it could lose a feeder elementary to Washington. Could it be Hawthorne?

West Woodland, Green Lake, Laurelhurst and Sand Point also should not be presumed to go one way or another.

I can't really venture a guess about where the northeast elementary APP will land. The most likely candidate I can see is the expanded Olympic Hills, but that's not a great solution. A less likely outcome would be for it to go into the new Thornton Creek building along with the current Thornton Creek program, but I just don't see that happening. I don't have any other ideas even as strong as these.

Anonymous said...

Still confused about having two schools on the one Thornton Creek site. Seems like we would be creating some unnecessary rivalry between kids and probably among parents. Also can't see how those small streets can handle 800 cars daily.

Patrick said...

Still confused about having two schools on the one Thornton Creek site. Seems like we would be creating some unnecessary rivalry between kids and probably among parents. Also can't see how those small streets can handle 800 cars daily.

If the bell times are staggered on school days it shouldn't be too bad. I'm sad about the loss of playfields, though.

kellie said...

@ Charlie,

The reason why you can't find a home for NE APP is because there isn't one. IMHO, there shouldn't be one.

The current plan as written essentially wipes out every option program in the NE with neither regard for the programmatic success or failure nor the residence address of the students served.

Jane Addams - You will get a new home in six years. Guess what happens in six year. By that point, there will be two new boards and probably a new superintendent. No one will be obligated to give you that building.

AS1/Pinehurst - We are going to work with you.

Thornton Creek - Please take note of the new footnote in the presentation. We may use BTA funds to combine the two schools into one school. Guess what will happen once we combine an "option program" with an attendance area program. We will have a Lowell situation on our hands but in this case there will not be an extra interim building to relocate you or an obligation to provide that type of service so please look at the solution provided to Pinehurst.

Three option programs either gone or going from the NE so that "attendance area" services can be provided.

Moving APP into the NE would mean displacing some option-style-option, as you can't displace attendance area students. But wait, that has already been done.

The great punch line. After all the option programs are gone and attendance area programs are all in place, the NE will still have a severe capacity shortage.

In the last round, Bryant was the only school to have a new attendance area school added to both the East and the West of the attendance area. Bryant is still just as crowded.

Anonymous said...

I see the plan to build a new $40M building that would have a capacity of 680 students by removing Pinehurst K-8. Consider this before you support such a move:

1. Pinehurst has a ~3.2 acre triangle-shaped lot, with no parking. Check it out in Google Earth.
2. Jane Addams currently has a ~18.4-acre plot. North field is ~6.9 acres. North field is a much better option.
3. There is a school shortage - why demolish a school that the district just spent $$ renovating?
4. Pinehurst is Seattle's first alternative school and provides a unique educational choice for parents.

If you have $40M, consider building a new building somewhere else. Magnuson? North Field?

kellie said...

(Cont)

As for the very reasonable argument but ... those APP students are from the NE, shouldn't they get to stay in the NE. So are the students at JA, Pinehurst and Thornton Creek. The changes to transportation with the NSAP fundamentally changed the populations of option schools.

At this point about half of the students at TC, JA and Pinehurst are the students that would be served by an attendance area program in those building. But that is not relevant.

All of this boils down to a fundamental and unshakable truth. You can NOT run an assignment system at 100%. The maximum optimization you can ever get is 95% and 90% is more typical. The NE is running at something like 150% of its building capacity. Something has to give.

The solution to not enough capacity is ADDITIONAL capacity. Reshuffling the deck chairs might get you a dash more wiggle room but it doesn't get you the necessary additional capacity.

That fact that this conversation has advanced as far as it has is evidence of how the over capacity issue has reached a critical mass. If JSIS had been an option program, it would have been treated just as roughly. There would be a conversation every year about relocating the program. Simply because there are more students in Wallingford than can be served by the local schools.

At this point, districts without option programs begin to discuss year round schooling and shifted scheduled.

Anonymous said...

Something I've been wondering about is the concern about car access to the Thornton Creek site. The school site is one block north of 75th, which is a medium size arterial, and a few blocks east of 35th, another middle-sized arterial. The school itself occupies three blocks, so you have six streets that contact the school (4 north-south and 2 east-west). From a distance and not knowing anything about the neighborhood, that seems like about as good a situation as you could ask for, short of being directly on an arterial.

Contrast for example Whitman Middle School, with roughly the same number of students as the combined Thornton Creek site. Whitman borders one arterial that's smaller than 75th, and really only has one other side street for decent access. It's not a lot of fun to get kids into Whitman, but it's certainly doable. Eckstein is a similar situation as well.

Am I missing something here? Is Thornton Creek really that much harder to access?

Eric B said...

Anonymous @ 8:04am was me--I accidentally pushed something that posted before entering my name.

Anonymous said...

The Thornton Creek situation isn't all the district's fault. It's also Thornton Creek's. It has been clear for years that the district needed to use the rest of its lot for more seats.

It was given plenty of time - YEARS - and multiple options to expand as an option school. It was given the choice to double its size in the elementary grades or to keep its elementary size and add a middle school.

In all cases the principal and parents refused to expand its program, saying it would ruin its current program.

So now that a general education school is going on the lot, it is duplicitous as well as totally unrealistic to claim that the new building might ruin its program.

P.S. The TC NIMBY neighbors really need to sit down and hush up. There is a traffic rush around almost every neighborhood school every day. Wedgwood/View Ridge neighbors can get over it. The HUGE View Ridge playfield is also blocks away and Magnuson is right down the street. They have more playfield space than most of us.


"The Privileged NE Needs A Reality Check"

Anonymous said...

NW Mom (or anyone else) - do you know how we can find out what the Oct 1 enrollment numbers are?

thanks.

APP@Lincoln parent

Jamie said...

APP@ Lincoln parent,

Scroll up this thread to where Charlie posted a link in the comments to the enrollment numbers.

Patrick said...

Jane Addams currently has a ~18.4-acre plot. North field is ~6.9 acres. North field is a much better option.

That was addressed at the meeting. I think it was Lucy Morello (the District staff person other than Peggi) said North Field has issues with liquefaction making it unstable in an earthquake. She said they will continue to study it as an option, but it's unlikely to be buildable.

Magnuson Park would be nice in my opinion, but it's a City park and a long and rancorous process has produced an uneasy agreement about what to do with all parts of it. All or most of the Navy buildings are landmarked, so most of what's left is being used by community groups, heavily booked athletic fields, or wetlands. Not saying it shouldn't happen, just expect some disagreement.

Anonymous said...

My cousin who works at the Indian Heritage school said that most of the kids had moved over to the Middle College at Northgate and that only a few kids doing online studies plus one teacher were left at Wilson Pacific. Not sure if she is correct or not.

Well, that is really sad about TC. We looked at TC but chose private instead because TC ended at 5th and you had to go all the way over to Salmon Bay if you wanted to continue the program. TC should be made K-8.

HP

Anonymous said...

To The Privileged NE Needs A Reality Check about Thornton Creek's unwillingness to move:

I am no longer at Thornton Creek, but I was there four years ago for the most recent round of "We'd like to move your program and take your building." You are right that the parents, staff and principal opposed the move, but you need to know more of what it was about. Thornton Creek was told to move to what was then the K-12 Summit school, where Jane Addams K-8 now is. At the same time, Pinehurst was supposed to be closed. Thornton Creek was expected to move, displace a program (Summit K-12) that was going to disappear, expand to a K-8 and probably absorb some of the Pinehurst alternative students. The community adamantly opposed the move under those circumstances. Thornton Creek would have been set up for disaster and did not want to be responsible for ruining Summit K-12. Of course, Summit K-12, first slated for a move, ultimately ended up closed entirely instead. Pinehurst got a reprieve and Thornton Creek stayed where it was. While Thornton Creek might have thrived as a K-8, those circumstances just were not going to work and Thornton Creek really did not want to be responsible for the death of the other programs. Thornton Creek lost its larger option area draw, which extended to the west side of Green Lake and into Ballard. They lost transportation for kids there, too. Like other NE schools, they've expanded to have more kindergarten students come in and more portables. They have too few bathrooms and facilities for the number of kids there now, but that is the same as any number of other schools. But I don't think it's fair to say that the current situation is all Thornton Creek's fault for not expanding or moving earlier. (And by the way, the program has been moved through the years and has had several rounds of threatened moves. It was originally at University Heights in the U-District.) Let's work together to solve problems, not point fingers.
--Former TC parent

Anonymous said...

The NSAP has had zero impact on the enrollment at Madrona K-8. There are 275 students, with remarkably low class sizes at 2nd grade (18), 7th grade (21) and 8th (27). There is plenty of room there to put a couple hundred kids. I know we've been down this road before, but since nothing has changed at Madrona with the NSAP, doesn't it seem like a waste of a beautiful building with middle school facilities to just let it alone because, well, I'm not sure why anymore, when it is is only housing 100 middle school students, and is 225 students below capacity, at least. TT Minor closing did not affect the enrollment, neighborhood assignment has not affected the enrollment. Chronic under enrollment at Madrona is a failure at the district level. Let's put it in play as a solution to overcrowding elsewhere.

There are only 182 students at Lowell. Seems like a great place for downtown kids to go to school, and there is plenty of room.

Madrona neighbor

Unknown said...

"That was addressed at the meeting. I think it was Lucy Morello (the District staff person other than Peggi) said North Field has issues with liquefaction making it unstable in an earthquake."

Okay, I would take that statement very lightly. I say that because Hale, built at a lower level, sits on pilings. I've read the reports on Hale and frankly, was wondering why they didn't just move it across the street because of that issue.

If they can build safely at Hale's site, then I'd guess the upper level of JA would be just as safe.

Anonymous said...

"Okay, I would take that statement very lightly. I say that because Hale, built at a lower level, sits on pilings. I've read the reports on Hale and frankly, was wondering why they didn't just move it across the street because of that issue.

If they can build safely at Hale's site, then I'd guess the upper level of JA would be just as safe."

I agree

The Corps of Engineers is constructing a new office on the Duwamish River floodplain. Engineering companies in Seattle are very familiar with building on piles that meet earthquake standards. As an added advantage, building on piles facilitates use of an energy-efficient geothermal system.

-piledriver

Eric B said...

@Melissa, just being a devil's advocate here, you would need to answer the government waste hawks who will ask why we're spending $5 million more to build on a somewhat unsuitable site plus another $60-80 million for a new school when we have an existing school that we can convert for much less. How do we explain that saving one smallish K-8 program worth $65-85 million?

Given past history of mismanagement (even if virtually all of the players are gone or indicted), it's a tough argument.

SPS Mom said...

The JA community would certainly prefer to stay on the upper field site if possible. There's an engineer JA dad who is reviewing the feasibility study that was done on that area. If it's possible, that is very likely what the community would advocate for (we certainly don't want to displace Pinehurst!)

~JA mom

Maureen said...

kellie said: All of this boils down to a fundamental and unshakable truth. You can NOT run an assignment system at 100%. The maximum optimization you can ever get is 95% and 90% is more typical. The NE is running at something like 150% of its building capacity. Something has to give.

The problem with dumping the Option programs is that they are the only capacity management tool the district has left itself. True, transportation is expensive, but it is a short term and variable expense, not a capital expense. Rather than dismantling the Option programs, SPS should consider changing the Option School tiebreakers so that kids coming from overcrowded neighborhoods have priority at Option schools and should increase the transportation area for all of the Option schools (using community stops). If they are going to break up APP further, they should site the new APP programs to either co-house or link with Option programs and piggyback on (state funded) APP busing to reduce transportation costs further.

If Option programs are dismantled and SPS continues to try to run neighborhood schools at 100% of capacity, they will have to change boundaries and rotate portables constantly to balance capacity.

Patrick said...

I'm not a geologist, but my mom is and we both come from earthquake country. Pilings are not more dangerous than other foundations, if they are sitting on good soil. If the soil is cheap fill (such as one might use to make a level athletic field on sloping land, before 1989), it is likely to be difficult or impossible to build on. I don't know if Ms. Morello has already consulted a seismologist, but if she has I'd defer to the seismologist's opinion.

Charlie Mas said...

Eric B., Kellie has your answer: we need them both.

kellie said...

@ Eric B,

That math is a little off. That is because one number is for NET capacity after you zero out the already existing capacity and the other is for NEW capacity.

Something that has not been discussed yet is the part where to create this expanded capacity you have to take capacity off-line first. That also has a cost involved. The already existing and in use seats at Pinehurst are lost for the two years during construction.

Additionally with NEW capacity at a new site, you build in more flexibility for boundaries, programming and expansion options.

The most expensive thing you can do is to build something that may or may not fill. (Madronna - pretty building, not full).

A huge Pinehurst building is a big risk. A Jane Addams upper field is a much smaller risk.

Anonymous said...

Eric B said...

"@Melissa, just being a devil's advocate here, you would need to answer the government waste hawks who will ask why we're spending $5 million more to build on a somewhat unsuitable site plus another $60-80 million for a new school when we have an existing school that we can convert for much less. How do we explain that saving one smallish K-8 program worth $65-85 million?"

@Eric B: My understanding is that they are not proposing to renovate Pinehurst. They want to demolish it and build a new building in the same spot. Not only does that add demolition costs, but it takes capacity out of the school system. Isn't that why they want to build new buildings in the first place? Either way, they are proposing a new building, so let's compare apples to apples.

@Patrick: If the Corps can build on fill in the Duwamish, I am confident that engineers can overcome the challenges of north field.

-piledriver

Kristin said...

Pinehurst parent here...we are working on creating a committee...hallway rumor is that the district is refusing conversation with our faculty and so we are going to be attempting to get them to talk to PARENTS at least...they did tell all of us they would talk to the "Pinehurst Community" right? Rumor is that NOBODY in this community has been able to get facetime...someone correct me if I'm wrong. We are reporting things as we hear them at http://www.SavePinehurst.org and there will be LOTS of talks happening at Positive Seattle this weekend...you are all invited!!! Bouncy house, rummage sale, cakewalks and more will be there, a good time for all and hopefully not our last Pinehurst Community event...come be a part of it if you can!! Will be at Pinehurst K-8 school this Saturday starting at 1pm!!!

TechyMom said...

Why isn't year-round school or extended day on the table? It seems like these would be much cheaper options.

In year-round school, there are 3 "tracks," each going 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off, with one on vacation at any given time. This works pretty well for elementary school. It has the side effect of reducing summer learning loss.

Extended hours seems better for high school, so that kids can still have summer jobs. My high school had extended hours. There were classes available from 7-4, with 10 periods. You were required to have a 9AM class, and that was your homeroom. There were two lunch periods. You could fill in your classes however they fit. If you had a schedule hole, you could take a study hall or go off campus. There was room for electives, acceleration, and credit recovery. I even had a friend who graduated in 3 years by taking extra classes. This is different than double shifting, where you require some kids to have all their classes really early and some to have all their classes really late. It uses the building more efficiently, and gives kids more schedule flexibility.

Eric B said...

I'm getting well toward my area of incompetence here, but I believe that there is a difference between building on fill in a relatively flat area than building on a hillside. On flat ground, the liquified soil all stays in one place (mostly), while it wants to roll down off the slope.

That said, there are very few engineering problems that can't be solved with money. As long as you're not breaking the laws of physics, it's just a matter of how big the pieces need to be.

Unknown said...

TechyMom, we may be getting there so you are right to raise this issue.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Mas on APP and Pinehurst cohousing:

You are COMPLETELY wrong about most APP parents wanting to be cohoused with a neighborhood or option school and being fine with the 500 child program being split into two. Be clear to readers - you are not a parent in the program, you do not attend the PTA meetings, you have not surveyed the north end APP parents. It is irresponsible of you to state that you know what the parents want any more than you can say what parents at any other PTA or school "want". North APP has taken multiple surveys, and while most parents would stay with the program if it were cohoused, the overwhelming first choice is to remain a full 500+ child school - ONE SCHOOL. If the question is clear: "Do you want to be divided into two 250 child schools?" (which is the prerequisite you acknowledge in order to be cohoused) the answer from north end APP parents is overwhelmingly NO. And when you say APP and Pinehurst could be a good fit b/c they're both options, you are also wrong. APP is a guaranteed pathway to all children who meet the testing threshold. APP cannot say "we are limited to 500 seats b/c Pinehurst has the other 150, so sorry." Thus if 550 kids qualify for APP and decide to come, they get a seat. A true option school such as Salmon Bay or Jane Addams can say we have met our number, and won't take more 1st graders, but APP cannot do that. Any school cohoused with the large north end APP contingent faces the squeeze.

Signed - APP parent tired of Split talk

Anonymous said...

@ Former TC Parent

I wasn't around for that push for TC to take over Summit but I agree that was baloney. TC had no time to prepare. And pitting alternative schools against each other is double baloney.

But since that time it has been very clear that the district needed both the TC space and the program to grow to handle NE enrollment. The principal and TC community did nothing over multiple years. They dug in their feet on their program 'as is'.

Given that the whiz bang planners downtown generally give no notice of destructive and crap program changes (Pinehurst K8. Jane Addams. Lowell + APP. etc.) it is unfortunately on Thornton Creek's own head that it didn't chart a course for itself when offered. They were smart enough to be collaborative but they refused.

And as for the petition going around the neighborhood to keep those grounds from being built on? They are owned by the district. It is cost effective and more importantly necessary to expand seats in that neighborhood. Too bad those same neighbors would never deign to send a petition around for more school funding from the state, or competent leadership downtown or something that would benefit all SPS kids.

"The Privileged NE Needs A Reality Check"

PS: Good luck to Jane Addams and Pinehurst to not having your alternative school programs dismantled. As Melissa pointed out, the language used to get BEX passed is not legally binding. Once they get the money they can and will do whatever they want. Even if it has no bearing on the promise. You can ask residents in West Seattle for specific examples.

Anonymous said...

No one has answered my question. Can someone help? Is any money slated for the downtown school in the final version of the BEX projects? The issue was set aside on this blog because of the Eckstein blow up but I am not willing to let it rest. It is against every bone in my body to have any scarce dollars sent off to that project right now.

Also has anyone noticed that the front page of the seattle schools site is completely out of date? It talks about a BEX list that has changed faster than Romney tapdances. No wonder the community is confused. The information issued by the district on its own front page has nothing to do with reality heading into this key board meeting.

DistrictWatcher

Jan said...

District Watcher: I think the answer to your question is -- no one can help. There is nothing the District could say or do (in terms of putting downtown OFF the table) that they could not "undo" as soon as a levy is passed. And clearly, levy projects have changed before, so it isn't like there isn't precedence.

On the other hand -- this has ALWAYS been the case. The real issue here is not this single "downtown school" project. The issue is the undue influence that big corporate dollars are having on our political process at all levels -- and the fact that we don't seem to be able to consistently pick leaders who can stand up to it when the requests are bad. I agree that if the LIST had a downtown school on it, I would vote against it because it would just be so blatantly bad that nothing other than a "no" vote would suffice. But the only "fix" for this (other than to come up with some constitutional ways to keep "money" from meaning "speech") is to consistently and clearly advocate for people and decisions that are best for all children -- and to join what needs to be a growing, roaring civic debate about the "price" of democracy and what "representative" government is all about.

At some point, I suppose it is possible that a downtown school WILL be a good use of district funds. But NOT now.

Jan said...

APP parent tired of split talk: It is nice to hear this argument. While I often agree with Charlie's position, I disagree on this one (no SNAPP kids -- no vested interest, other than caring about delivery of educational models that work for specific kids -- including gifted).

The smaller each pod of APP gets, the less influence they have for their kids. I am distrustful of the "250 kid" statistic, and think that as there are still huge differences in giftedness in the APP population, the larger you can keep the group (travel is a tradeoff, I know), the better it is for the kids in the program. More social opportunities. More opportunities for the few kids who should be doing trig in 4th ro 5th grade, and less ability for the District to just turn APP into a "Spectrum self contained" model -- and then devolve it into "clustering" within classrooms.

On who to "house" it with -- the old Lowell model worked pretty well, because the SPED population was pretty stable, I gather. But unless you can get a whole building (and even then -- what will you do with growth?), I still think that an "option" program is a much better bet than any attendance area program. I anticipate the explosion at TM sometime in the next couple of years -- and then what -- we will have APP as a "nomad" program in the south as well? APP OUGHT to have a pretty stable size, except to the extent the District is growing. If it does not, then either the criteria are being monkeyed with, or there is an "inflow" coming from the fact that it is finally north of the ship canal, but that should presumably level out in a year or two, and become a stable (but maybe higher) number. Right?

Anonymous said...

@ Jan: I understand that ultimately the district could do whatever it wants with that BEX money.

But if the downtown school appears nowhere on this BEX list - which has grown substantially in money amount from a few months ago to handle debacles like the Jane Addams fiasco - then every single school community and project has the right to scream bloody murder if the district tries to slip funding for downtown in ahead of those named in this final project list.

I hope in the coming years there are more district watchers than me. No doubt behind the scenes the DeBell/Queen Anne/Vulcan cabal will be working the backrooms to go around the board vote and slip this project in, which I find highly offensive because it undermines the public input process which rejected it via public meetings and FACMAC.

DistrictWatcher

Benjamin Leis said...

@Jan - I have several concerns with trying to maintain the single north end cohort.

1) The cohort is at the tipping point of being too large for a single building. Given 10% growth in the district over the next few years and APP's recent increases its not unreasonable to think this will happen. If at some point it will need to be split, then we might as well plan for it now.

2) Splitting the program among several sites increases access for families that have logistical challenges reaching the current locations. We've already seen that happen with the move to Lincoln. I wonder how many more families in the SW for example would attend given a more convenient location.

3) I don't see much evidence that the first split has increased/decreased the district's benign neglect. Given a pressing system wide issue the APP parents are fairly motivated and should be able to make coalitions and advocate as a whole for say 2-4 school sites.

4) None of the problems with APP's treatment at the district level are going to change without a general shift that is independent of how the cohorts are split be that curriculum standardization, resourcing etc. APP as a whole is always going to be a small percentage of the total system and easy to ignore if the powers that be want to.

Ben

Jan said...

District Watcher -- If BEX passes, and if the SLU school pops back onto the list, I will be there screaming bloody murder right along side you. The danger I see is that there will be a big money carrot dangled at some point to lure the district into diverting money to this deal -- and those that dangle the carrot are pretty good at accounting. It will be big enough to entice as much tax money as they can pull away from the project list. I hope we will not be the only ones screaming, because that carrot will be talking pretty loud!

Jan said...

Ben: if what you say is true, and one school won't do -- then I agree with your points. Also, at that point, MY biggest concern (dilution of the cohort to the point where it can be "folded into "regular classrooms" with "differentiated instruction" to clusters of kids) would seem not to be a problem, or at least not as much of one. I do hope, though, that someone gives some thought to the "outlier" problem -- the issue WMS and HIMS had when they split -- and at least one school, HIMS, lost access to math acceleration beyond the norm, because there weren't enough students to offer the higher levels. The bigger the group, the more likely it is that you have the population concentration to serve disparate needs.

Jan said...

Tracy -- bless her accountable, transparent heart -- is conceding that we are building all these middle school seats -- and aren't even touching the looming "high school issue" that will follow. There just isn't money to do it in this round. This whole thing is Luke, blasting out of the Death Star while it explodes right behind him. We are hoping the space ship can keep pace with the force/speed of the explosion! Yikes!

Charlie Mas said...

SNAPP is not most folks within or outside the program.

Anonymous said...

I'm an APP parent, too, not SNAPP. No, we don't want to be cohoused, for the reasons outlined above. I am also very concerned with critical mass at the 250 kid level- it won't work. And isn't half the point of sending your kid to an APP school getting a critical mass for math or reading groups?

I also have kids at 3 schools, and can't imagine choosing a particular option program for one of my kids to keep them close to the APP one(who WOULD? Oh, you, child 1, are very happy at your neighborhood school or don't qualify for APP, but we have decided to privilege child two's education over yours, so you're moving!), and I can't think of a worse culture fit than Pinehurst and APP. The carpool line alone would devolve into WWIII. I feel terrible for Pinehurst. The district is so anti-option school right now.

If the school grows, sure, great idea to start a new one, let energized people get in on the ground floor to craft a new APP model in a neighborhood where students live, let people opt to it, if they want. But that is an entirely different proposition from dividing it up and losing the resources and culture of a school that needs a good size (certainly more than 2 classes per grade! You can barely cluster at that level) to function.

Anti-split parent

Anonymous said...

I am incredibly disappointed to hear that SOME Eckstein parents (and families feeding into Eckstein) are lobbying HARD to push Jane Addams to move out of their building ASAP so a comprehensive middle school can start there right away.

Eckstein parents - I'd really like to hear from others of you - do you really believe that the Jane Addams program should need to move TWICE so that the NE comprehensive middle school kids don't need to move at all??? Please reassure me that the people who indicate they are speaking for your community do not represent your views!

There is no reason that the comprehensive MS that will eventually end up in Jane Addams can't start at John Marshall (which is where those parents are proposing the JA K-8 should move asap.) I can't imagine a reason that makes good sense for why the comprehensive middle school should get priority for the JA building, except what seems to be a sense of entitlement from SOME of those parents.

If the rationale for this pressure is based upon the belief that the Jane Addams building should be used by students who live in the local neighborhoods, you should know that the Jane Addams K-8 program is made up almost entirely of students currently in the Eckstein MS feeder area. According to 2011 enrollment data, the ONLY assignment schools that have more than 15 total kids going to JA are, in order of quantity, John Rogers, Olympic Hills, Sacajawea, Olympic View, Wedgwood, Sandpoint and Bryant - all in the current Eckstein MS feeder area. These are the neighborhood kids. In fact, John Marshall is closer to many in the Eckstein feeder area as a whole than it is to MOST of the JA families.

I just keep coming back to the feeling in my gut that, even though the parents that have been lobbying to take over the JA building are getting what they want, they have no compassion or understanding that other parents don't want their children moved multiple times. Truly, if Eckstein is so crowded, please, come to the vibrant, diverse, growing, E-STEM, Spectrum school that is JA K-8, but do NOT push others aside thinking that your needs are the most important.

And don't even get me going about the lack of concern about the Pinehurst program...

~Signed ~ Appalled at the lack of compassion - is this what you're modeling for your children??

Anonymous said...

@ "Appalled at the lack of compassion - is this what you're modeling for your children"

Exactly.

Either the militant Ecksteiners don't understand how cliched me, ME ME, now, NOW NOW they are in their demands, or they don't care.


In either case, their advocacy has turned into something destructive and frankly it smells really bad in that area of town right now.

"The Privileged NE Needs A Reality Check"

Anonymous said...

How could the Jane Addams K-8 program move to John Marshall as an interim site? The district needs John Marshall as an interim location for the new Wilson-Pacific Middle School. Wouldn't Jane Addams take up too much of John Marshall? Would there be enough room for Wilson Pacific to roll up there if you move an entire 680 student school there intact? Plus, co-housing a K-8 with an assignment area middle school wouldn't be a very good plan. Doesn't it make more sense to roll up both JAMS and WPMS at John Marshall at the same time? I can't imagine that the district wants to redraw boundaries and feeder patterns more than once! If those roll ups started in 2015 (it will take that long for everyone to fight over the boundary changes and feeder patterns) each school would only have to fit 6th and 7th grades there which seems more manageable (although might require portables the second year), and doesn't co-house comprehensive middle school kids with elementary-aged kids. Plus it would give you a critical mass to start the new schools with. Then they move over to their respective new schools in 2017.

I don't know how this helps Eckstein in the next two years - and I understand that there are serious issues at Eckstein now. We all need to do some creative thinking about that - but I do think that the vocal 'Concerned Eckstein Parents' will get more support from folks in other parts of the city if they start showing some empathy to other school communities and looking at the big picture a little more.

- we can all do better

Anonymous said...

A question for the Jane Addams parents-

If your program stays in the Jane Addams building until the new building is ready (2017), will you be expanding the middle school past a 3-up, in order to provide an "option" for kids in the area who are otherwise looking at a bus ride to an interim site (John Marshall)? In order to do this, you many have to ramp down the elementary grades (temporarily), by taking 2 kindergarten classes, rather than 3, so as to fit within your destination building, come 2017.

Do you know if this is the plan, or is the intention for the Jane Addams program to stay in the building (through 2017) as a 3-up "chimney" K-8, which I don't believe provides much access for kids wishing to enter at 6th grade?

Thanks.
-Potential JA K-8 Parent

Anonymous said...

Please excuse the typo in my message, above. "Many" should be "may."

-Potential JA K-8 Parent

Spruiter said...

I don't expect that we would reduce at the elementary grades, but if there is demand, we will likely ramp up the middle school sections for the next 2 years, thus helping to alleviate some of the immediate capacity crunch at middle school.

Those larger middle school cohorts would have already graduated by the time we would have to fit into a new building as a 3-up chimney model in 2017.

There would need to be some building modifications to make enough space, but the district will need to be making those modifications anyway to prepare the school to become a comprehensive middle school.

Anonymous said...

Hi Potential JA K-8 Parent

The district will not finalize any transitional planning decisions until after the BEX levy lands.

However, one of the many proposals being considered is expanding our middle school for the next couple of years to help alleviate capacity issues. A version of that would then have us sunset the expansion once the new JA & WP middle schools start their roll ups, so that we would be back down to proper size in time for the move to our new 3 up only building. This would not impact the size of our current 3 up elementary program.

Dan Suiter
JA Parent and BEX geek

Anonymous said...

@Spruiter and Dan Suiter-

Thank you for your responses. I'm glad to hear that there is talk of expanding the middle school at Jane Addams K-8. I hope that these plans will be finalized and announced well before open enrollment. Waiting until after BEXIV passes to start figuring out capacity management decisions affecting the 2013-14 school year seems a bit ridiculous.

Unfortuately, it sounds like my child, and his classmates, will be on the bus to John Marshall, since they will start middle school in 2015-16.

Does anyone know if SPS has ever launched a complete comprehensive middle school (or two?) as a roll-up at an interim location? I am deeply concerned about the quality of education my child will receive during such a crucial time in his education.

-Potential JA K-8 Parent (but not likely!)

Anonymous said...

Potential J-A K-8 Parent -

Come check us out! More and more parents have been deciding that our program is a great fit. Strong academics, awesome leadership and a really great focus. And just - nice school atmosphere. It's a nice school, and unlike that Large Assignment Middle School down the road, we're all about playing nice and trying to accommodate people.

:)

Winston

Anonymous said...

At the SB meeting last night, it sounded like they are planning to use the Jane Addams building as an interim site and roll up the middle school there. Not sure how that would work, space wise, but it would be great not to have to bus the kids away from their neighborhood.
-North End Mom

Louise said...

North End Mom,
But what about the 600+ kids already in the building? What was the plan for them? I'm very confused now. I've read that the plan is to keep the current JA K-8 intact in its bldg until Pinehurst is ready for them to move into. Now you're saying that the JA bldg is going to be used to roll up the new middle school? Argh. It's hard to keep up with all this.

Benjamin Leis said...

It would be lovely if the district would treat the transition plans as first class and document them along with the building plans wouldn't it.

My interpretation of one of the possible plans is to leave JA K-8 in place and start rolling up the middle school at the same time in the building. That would probably mean a sea of portables in the parking lot.

You'll probably wish your kids were getting bused to JM else all things being equal.

Ben

Anonymous said...

Agree with Ben in the desire for planning, forethought, and overt communication. If the school district would operate in such a manner parents could strive with the District to achieve solutions vs. all of these inter-battling contingents.

To Ben and other families at JA that believe the same. I offer the following with no disrespect. This is a slight tap to one check to gain your attention vs. full slaps to two above and two below. And the inevitable kick to the curb.

Before the parking lot is covered with portables you will first… lose your dedicated music and art rooms. You will lose the full size classroom used to store instruments, and the full size classrooms that some teachers are using as their second offices. Or, the full size classrooms used just to store extra stuff. You may have Art on a Cart like Bryant where art supplies are wheeled to individual homerooms because the dedicated art and music rooms (music room = lunchroom) have been converted to home rooms. You may be like View Ridge and Bryant where Kindergarten kids have no PE as there is just not enough room in the gym to accommodate the space and time needs of a 5 up or 4 up school. Or, a lot of the schools in the NE that cannot schedule ALL SCHOOL events without doing shifts as the WHOLE SCHOOL of students and their parents do not fit within the actual school structure all at the same time.

If other area schools are an indicator, your playground will likely be covered with portables before your parking lot.

I just want to point out the genuine realities of the overcrowding in the area. I do not wish you malice or ill will. Actually, I am one of those evil Eckstein area (not yet attending) parents that has been advocating for the continued health and well-being of your program and the program at Pinehurst.

I don’t think it is right, nor will I advocate for kicking your school to the curb. But it is also not right to blithely disregard the impact of the dire overcrowding at the schools of your neighbors when actual physical injury is occurring when kids just try to walk down the hall between classes. That is the reality. And no, we cannot all attend Jane Addams if we want to; as it is an Option School and all that apply cannot get in.

Like a poster in a different thread I believe as a whole (NE) we can better advocate for the benefit of all of our kids if we are united.

Thornton Creek has uttered these statements before you, being isolationist amidst a world of hurt. In choosing to ignore the enrollment storm occurring around them for numerous years and in their own way giving the finger to the suffering neighbors all around them. Gosh no, we won't go even three or four up, our kids are doing great so f u neighbors.
As a result they are now on the District radar as a program to be eliminated even though they are enormously successful.

To reiterate, I don’t believe great programs such as Thornton Creek or Jane Addams should be eliminated. Just trying to give a warning that when you have no empathy to your neighbors and you are greatly outnumbered you will be at the center of the target.

False scare tactics (the parking lot will be covered with portables, you won’t want to be here) just won’t work as the majority of us in the NE are experiencing conditions far worse and we know what you are saying is not true. We (the overcrowded majority) are at true wolf. When you cry wolf we recognize the fanged, furry, devouring creature that roams our hallways every day is not what you are trying to evoke.

I ask you to reconsider your words and vs. try to scare and intimidate consider looking at the big picture as united we all might succeed. With no empathy the alts. will fall first (just from being outnumbered) but then all of us will lose in the end if we are not a united front against the District, or any entity that would pit us against each other at the expense of our kids.

-Battled scarred NEster

Anonymous said...

Dude, there are like 7 toilet stalls at TC. 1 boy and 1 girl's bathroom, at one end of the building. It's tiny. The whole school building could fit into one wing of Bryant. Music at TC is in the cafeteria, too, and we've got loads of portables. There are several 3 up grades, to help deal with capacity, though of course it absolutely does not work with the program or our building, just like no program works when it gets too big. I have read that TC is the most overcapacity building, facilities wise.

I agree with you about the tone of these conversations and what happens when you make yourself an island and gloat over your neighbor's problems, but don't lump TC in there. We are right there with you, overstuffed to the breaking point and scared about middle school capacity. Many(most?) of us are fine with the playfields being used for a big elementary- that's the neighborhood you hear yelling so loud, not the parent community.

-NE parent

kellie said...

IMHO, the reason for the intense frustration around this BEX is that BEX doesn't solve any of the problems. This BEX simply mitigates the worst of the facilities issues without solving any of the issues that created the problem.

We are trying to fill a $2 Billion facilities hole with a $100 Million shovel. This means that we can't do anything that is needed fast enough and most likely the hole will even grow deeper than the shovel can fill.

In other words, it is unlikely that the $100 Million per year from this levy will even be able to keep pace with the new problems let alone deal with the already existing ones.

kellie said...

@ -Battled scarred NEster

Your points are excellent. I truly appreciate your attempt to paint the picture of what a rough situation everyone is in and I applaud any calls for collaboration. The only way any of this is going to get better is if we work together.

However, you are missing two key but very subtle and easy to miss points in your argument.

1) The push back over the expansion at Thornton Creek is not from the school. It is from the neighborhood. Those fields are used by the entire community. The other day I heard a group of very upset catholic school parents that were furious over losing their sport fields. They felt it was "bad enough" that the over crowding had already chased them out of public school and to lose the fields was just too much.

So please be clear about the fields vs the school. The Thornton Creek School itself was 250 students a few years ago and now is a 400 student school. The school is as overburdened as all of the schools.

2) By my estimation we need 2,000 elementary school seats in the NE. That would be north of the ship canal and east of I5. None of the plans come even close to this number.

So the net-net is that after we consume ever square inch of field space and art room space, we are going to still be in the midst of a capacity crunch.

So my question is "where do we draw the line before we start looking for solutions."

Benjamin Leis said...

@Battle-scarred NEster.

I'm keenly aware of Eckstein's overcrowding, I expect some of my own kids will be going there and many of my neighbors are potentially affected by it as well even sooner. I'd also add from everything I seen it do, the JA community is looking globablly to what's best for the whole NE. Its never tried to officially oppose the move during either proposal for a new site but focused instead on "OK how do we make this new building work".

My somewhat blithe comment at the end is aimed more at the notion that doing a rollup of the new middles school in the building is going to be better than doing a rollup in an empty space at JM (Of course, I think the district has overcommitted that building as well). The reality is that its going to be quite crowded and sub-optimal for everyone in the JA building during this process. That's probably unavoidable unfortunately.

Ben

Anonymous said...

Dear battle-scarred NEster -

I'm sorry you've been through the wringer – I do empathize with all of the families with children in the crowded NE schools - and I think you have made some assumptions that aren't accurate:

The Jane Addams community is NOT minimizing the crowding in the NE at all. We recognize it, we've reviewed all of the data and know it exists - and we do empathize. We all have friends with children in those schools. We just don't see how moving 600 kids back into the very crowded NE schools (because this is where the JA students live) is going to help - it will only exacerbate the crowding. We are just trying to find a solution that works in the NE and doesn't kill our program (notice I didn't say hurt our program - we know this is going to hurt our program.)

Jane Addams is NOT lobbying for our school to be a 3-up. In fact, we asked to be either a 3-4 or even a 3-5. A 3-up is simply the minimum we feel that would give us enough students to maintain our spectrum, ELL, and SPED programs and provide enough of interest to be able to attract MS's from the area. If we were to become at least a 3-5 for at least the next few years until 2017, that would help alleviate crowding at the MS level, but parents won't opt for the JA program if they don't have good reason to believe they won't be displaced.

We don’t actually have any useable teaching spaces that aren’t being used for classrooms currently. We are trying to get the district to do some remodeling to transition some potential useable spaces back to classrooms, as they will need to do for a comprehensive MS, but that hasn’t been done yet. The historic figures being tossed about by some as JA capacity are from when class sizes were 40+ students (with no space for ELL, SPED, other support services.) We aren’t as packed as sardines as many in the NE, but we’re not sitting on a bunch of unused space, either.

Isolationist is not what we are. In every discussion I've participated in, the effect on other schools, children and diverse populations is brought up. We are working hard to partner with Pinehurst to help them advocate for their community - and reaching out to the other schools in the NNE.

I certainly agree with "we can all do better" - and we are trying to look at creative solutions that are equitable for all students and, in particular, not harmful to our more vulnerable/less-represented populations in Seattle. We do want to collaborate (although we are also trying to not see the district as the adversary that we need to fight against.)

Signed, @Jane Addams and trying to figure out an equitable solution for all

Anonymous said...

@Jane Addams..... said:
"We don’t actually have any useable teaching spaces that aren’t being used for classrooms currently."
Really? There are 581 students at Jane Addams (388 elementary and 193 middle school), according to the Oct 1 numbers. That's 581 students in a building that can supposedly handle around 900 middle school students, and you are saying there are no empty useable teaching spaces? If that is the case, then the district should definitely make it a priority to reconfigure space in the JA building.
I can understand the Jane Addams program being a 3-up (elementary), in order to help create much-needed elementary capacity in the NE, but I’m having trouble understanding the need for a 3-up K-8 instructional model. There are several very successful K-8s in Seattle that have only 2 classes per grade level, and some have diverse populations. I don’t understand why Jane Addams' needs are so different from say, TOPS (2-up, grades K-8) or Salmon Bay (2-up grades K-5, 4-up grades 6-8)?
Do you have SpEd inclusion in elementary, or is it self-contained? If self-contained, why would that enter in to the 2-up -vs- 3-up discussion? Also, I thought there was a blended Spectrum model at Jane Addams. Does this require additional classrooms?
Is Jane Addams currently a 3-up K-8, or is this a future goal? I'm asking, because, from the Oct 1st numbers, I see only three grade levels that look like they could be called a full 3-up; Kindergarten (76 students), 2nd grade (75 students), and 6th grade (83 students).
I know the Jane Addams program is very good program, but I hope you realize that it is a punch in the gut to the rest of us in the North Seattle, when the (potential) optimum learning environment for an option program is given priority over resolving the overcrowding in our comprehensive middle schools. If Jane Addams would have been willing to go down to a 2-up model (at least for elementary) at Pinehurst, the new middle school in the Jane Addams building would be opening 2 years earlier (2015 -vs- 2017). Making all the other families in NE Seattle wait 2 more years for relief, so that you can have your optimal differentiation of instruction, seems a bit, well… inequitable...don't you think?

- Trying to make sense of this

kellie said...

@ - Trying to make sense of this

Enrollment numbers alone only tell part of the story. Special Education has their own enrollment ratios. JA has a developmental preschool, an ELL program and a self contained special ed program at the elementary level. That is 5 homerooms that are fully utilized but the enrollment for those rooms is substantially below the 125 seats that 5 homerooms represent.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kellie.

I can see how those 5 classrooms would affect the overall building usage.

Do you know if they factor into the 3-up configuration, or are they in addition to the 18 classrooms required for a 3-up elementary configuration?

-trying to make sense of this

kellie said...

@ trying to make sense of this

I am not a JA parent so I don't have any insight into how the JA community are calculating a 3-up configuration in their plans or proposals.

But that said, I am often unclear about how the target number for a building is calculated too.

Historically, when buildings could be used as either a middle school or a K8, SPS used a 25% differential to describe capacity. So a 900 student middle school would be a 675 student K8.

So by my reckoning, Jane Addams is full. Sadly, the crowding in the NE is intense enough that "Full", is now plain ordinary full, rather than cramped, crowded, crazy full.

SPS Mom said...

To explain how Jane Addams parents are viewing a 3Up vs. a 3/4mushroom and a 3/5 mushroom, see below. These are all gen ed classrooms with integrated spectrum - the SPED and ELL kids and space are additional:

3Up - this would be 3 gen ed classes at each level - using 28 as an average class size for K-5 and 30 as an average class size for 6-8, we'd have 774 kids, plus SPED kids. (These class sizes are somewhat arbitrary, but it will help to have something near to realistic to figure enrollment.)

3/4mushroom = 3 classes each level K-5 and 4 classes at 6-8. Using same class sizes, the gen ed enrollment could be 810, plus SPED kids. This is actually what we'd prefer if we were living in a more perfect world than we are.

3/5 mushroom = 3 classes/level K-5 and 5 classes 6-8. Total students, not counting SPED, would be 900 (which we'd need to see if it could fit into the building.)

We have discussed going to 3/5 until we move in 2017 to provide whatever relief we can for MS seats until WP opens and we have a place to move - then with the moving on of those classes, we'd work our way down back down to a 3/3 (unless we could figure out a way to stay a 3/4.)

Hope that helps to clarify our thinking.

Anonymous said...

Currently at Jane Addams we have three classrooms per grade at K, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 2.5 at 4th, 1.5 at 5th. 3 cores at 6th grade, and 2 cores each at 7th and 8th. The Sped self contained classrooms are in addition to these.

-bamboo

Spruiter said...

Regarding the Jane Addams building, here are some details:

We actually have 3 self contained SPED classrooms, plus the developmental preschool. The ELL program uses a room that is smaller than half a classroom.

We currently have 3 classes/grade from K-3. There are 2.5 4th grades and 1.5 fifth grades. 6th grade has 3 sections and the 7th and 8th grades both have two. We are still fortunate enough to have our onsite after-school childcare in the building in two rooms, but those rooms are not suitable as teaching stations according to district standards (and yes - I recognize that many crowded schools are using spaces as classrooms that are not up to standards). Our middle school art classroom was turned into a 4th/5th grade classroom this year and now middle school art shares one of our two science labs with a science class. We will need 3-4 additional classrooms next year as our full cohorts move up. We have a choir room with built in risers that isn't being used much now (the choir practices in the band room) and the district is planning to convert that room back into a classroom next summer. We also have a ramp room - an old lecture hall with a ramped floor - that is also scheduled for renovation. We have also identified potential space in the locker rooms that could be converted into more classrooms, but that would require substantial work to get there.

The district can renovate 3 or 4 classrooms within the building at a time in order to avoid triggering major renovation requirements - which would result in a much more extensive (and expensive) process to bring everything up to code. It is our belief that the district's intent is to renovate 3 or 4 classrooms each summer to bring the building back online as a middle school by 2017.

The impression that the building is full of unused space that could be used as a comprehensive middle school overnight is just not true.

So as Kellie said - the Jane Addams building is full. We acknowledge that other schools in the area are dangerously overfull - but that does not mean that we have a ton of wasted space in our building. Yes there is potential for more space to be carved out of the building, but that doesn't happen overnight.

Most of us at Jane Addams who have been working on BEX-related issues fully accept that the building needs to become a comprehensive, assignment middle school again. We do, however, feel that the best way we can help alleviate the significant immediate capacity needs in the NE is to stay where we are, as an option school, until we move into a new building in 2017. We would prefer that building to be on the upper field behind our current building so we can stay in our immediate neighborhood, and so we do not damage another school in the process. We continue to push the district to fully assess the feasibility of that plan.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the Janes Addams community said that there was no way they should leave their building because looking at the BEX plan numbers, comprehensive middle school seats would be overbuilt with the addition of Wilson Pacific coming on line. Now that they've been promised a pony, whoops I meant to say 40 million Dollar building, suddenly they now say of course their building should become a comprehensive middle school... So which is it, either the district with Wilson Pacific at 1250 is providing sufficient middle school seats in the north, or it is not.

So, which story are you picking or sticking with? How many middle school seats does the north need, and remember how you said you would become a mushroom in order to avoid being kicked out of your building? Now, of course with the pony on deck, apparently you couldn't possibly become a mushroom in the Jane Addams building. Do you even know what the portable count at Eckstein is? Seriously, you damage your own case when you switch your story. The north needs a solution for all of the children, both elementary and middle school students, as well as special Ed, so it's not about you, it's not about Eckstein, it's about every single one of us, and it's also about the tax payers, who now face a $700 BEX instead of a $650 BEX because of your new building.

Bottom line: with 1,250 seats, and leaving the portables as is, the north will have enough middle school seats, and that is thus what we should do. With bex already at $650, we really should not tip it any higher to build beyond what is absolutely necessary.

--signed, go back and look at the numbers

Anonymous said...

If I'm reading the emails correctly from the Jane Addams parents. They want a K-8 with an elementary portion as large as Wedgwood (when it is not over-stuffed), and a middle school portion nearly 1/3 the size of Hamilton. This would give them the differentiation of instruction they seek at the elementary level, with ample elective choice for their middle school students, and hopefully enough offerings to attract students away from the new comprehensive middle school slated to go in the Jane Addams building, as 3-up in grades K-5 does not completely fill a 3-up middle school.

I thought the whole idea of offering K-8s as option schools is because some families seek the continuity of a K-8, and they are willing to sacrifice the perks of the larger elementary school and/or the bells and whistles of the comprehensive middle school, for the more intimate/nurturing K-8 environment.

The Jane Addams community is convinced they can fill this thing, and they have apparently convinced some members of the school board that they can fill it, too. They have convinced these school board directors that it is OK to blow away the educational specifications for a K-8 (650 seats, according to the documents on the BEXIV webpage), to gamble levy dollars on the success of the Jane Addams program.

The Jane Addams community is apparently now proposing to put this monstrosity of a K-8 building on the upper/north fields at Jane Addams, because 1.5 miles to the west (Pinehurst) is too far from the neighborhood. If this happens, there would be a 700(+)-seat K-8 next to a 900(+)-seat comprehensive middle school, next to a 1200-seat high school. Never mind that those fields are used by community sports groups - that is an amazing density of kids in one area! This makes even less sense than cramming a 700-seat building on the Pinehurst site, or putting an additional elementary school on the Thornton Creek site. Yikes!

SPS dug their own grave with this one. Instead of looking a few years ahead, and limiting the elementary portion of the Jane Addams K-8 to a more reasonable size (for potential relocation of the K-8 and/or expansion of the middle school grades), they crammed the kids into the building in the name of capacity management, resulting in a 3-up configuration for some elementary grades (with evidently some pretty small class sizes at some grade levels), and this is what the Jane Addams community now feels their children deserve.

In a perfect world, we would all be able to design the perfect pseudo-private school experience for our kids, on the taxpayer’s dime. That is not reality. What we have is a NSAP that is centered upon middle school feeder patterns, with the guarantee that there will be a seat for each child from the feeder pattern schools at their comprehensive middle school. There is also the reasonable expectation that the comprehensive middle schools will be safe, and placed where the kids live. The educational specifications for a comprehensive middle school (according to the BEXIV webpage) allow for a capacity of up to 900 (not 1250 or 1300+). With a few exceptions, K-8s are option schools, and should be viewed as supplemental schools within the NSAP. There is a demand for K-8s, but we have to make certain that the needs of those within the middle school feeder patterns are met, or else the assignment plan is not supported. This should take priority over the design and construction of an unprecedented K-8 model.

It is time to rein this pony in!
-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

I just re-read my post (above). I haven't been reading emails from JA parents...I've been reading their blog posts, with apparently not enough caffeine on board this morning!

-North End Mom

Unknown said...

Wow. Look what this district has done to engender so much ire and unhappiness. And yes, I put most of this at their feet. When I see this kind of statement:

"Thornton Creek has uttered these statements before you, being isolationist amidst a world of hurt. In choosing to ignore the enrollment storm occurring around them for numerous years and in their own way giving the finger to the suffering neighbors all around them. Gosh no, we won't go even three or four up, our kids are doing great so f u neighbors.
As a result they are now on the District radar as a program to be eliminated even though they are enormously successful."

First of all, very unkind to say this about an entire community. Second, John Miner, Thorton Creek's long-time principal, is ALWAYS at BEX meetings and has never tried to advocate for his school above any others. I have never seen him do that.

Lastly, Thorton Creek is not and has not been on anyone's radar to be eliminated. I'd like to know where that statement comes from.

Deep breaths. I get your unhappiness but sniping away will not help.

What WOULD help is a regional meeting with a regional plan that you can present to the Board.