Disqus

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Let's start this conversation about BEX (again). 

I like the BEX staff that I know.  They are bright and hard-working.  A few of the very problematic people are gone and that is truly a good thing.  That said, I have never been confident in the choices that the BEX staff has made over the years.

Here are my problems with how BEX staff works. 

One, there never seems, despite their use of the word "scenarios", any real evidence that you see them saying "if A, then, B but what about this ripple to C".

 No school is an island and there are ramifications to all these choices and it's NOT just about capacity. 

It's about what happens down the road.  That there is little evidence of this thinking is troubling.

Two, we ALWAYS get to this point.  It's two weeks from when the Board HAS to vote for a list and it's rush, rush, rush to the Board.

Three, the list is full of questions and last-minute changes.  That is wrong and unfair to everyone. 

That said, they need a "list" to present to the public.  However, as Director Carr astutely observed, months and months ago, "we need a narrative" to present to the public.  Why these buildings?  How will it help? 

Four, however, a list, any list will do because the district will end up making changes if they want to.  Remember, you are voting for a pot of money and not really a list.  

They likely will do nearly everything on the list but it is possible for:
  • things to drop off (see World School in BEX III), 
  • things to morph to the next list (see Hamilton), 
  • things to go overbudget (see Garfield),
  • things to go under-budget (see South Shore and were did that extra money go?)  
  • for the order of the list to change (see Roosevelt and Garfield).
Five, we WILL keep having problems if we do not keep up with basic maintenance.  Everyone - from DeBell to me to union staff who work on these problems - keep saying this over and over.  And yet, we still underfund maintenance.  It's folly to do so.  

I am first going to quote Kellie LaRue.   The district should have hired her to consult a year ago (not that she asked) because she knows what she is talking about beyond the view of the district.

Here are some words from Kellie:

I have said this a dozen different ways. For all intents and purposes, everything is already FULL. This conversation is not about one full building that is close to one empty building. This conversation is about one full building that is next to an over-full building that is next to a dangerously overcrowded building.

If anyone seriously believes that some building in the NE has a mysterious pile of extra space squirreled away, you simply need to consider the Special Education factor. Many of the enrollment numbers are blurry because Sped has different classroom ratios. Moreover, the NE is desperate for additional Sped facilities.

Arguing about "Is School X as over-crowded as School Y?" doesn't solve the problem. The problem is that the district is not able to solve the capacity problem out of its own resources.


Let's look at one severe problem, the middle school overcrowding in the NE.  According to the BEX list, this may not be really addressed until 2017.   That's about 4 years away. 

Is the problem going away?  No.  So what is their plan?  That's unknown.  Well, that's also unacceptable.

Both Kellie and reader Lance came up with an idea that I think works.  It's something that can happen now and it's not permanent but if you really want relief, this is it.

For 2-3 years, until more capacity is online, move 6th grade Hamilton and Eckstein to John Marshall.  Yes, I can hear the howls but kids, what would you suggest?  There are many good sides to doing this.

First and foremost, you instantly relieve the capacity at those schools. 

Second, the music students could have access to nearby Roosevelt and working with its jazz band.  I think that could be a big plus to many students.

Third, John Marshall could be fixed up fairly quickly. 

Would I have done this for my sixth grader when either of my sons had been at Eckstein?  In a heartbeat.  I always thought Eckstein too crowded and frankly, I wish middle school were 7-9 and not 6-8. 

Another idea (also Kellie's) about Thorton Creek.  I agree that two K-5s operating on the same space is not a good idea.  In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say it's a dumb idea and I can't believe the Board is going along with it.

Also, in playfield-starved Seattle, we are going to give up that kind of space? 

Kellie's suggestion is a land-swap.  Something at Magnuson for something at TC.  That way you spread out the kids and help calm the situation over a larger area.  Apparently there is interest on the part of Parks but not the district. 

(And beware of the one-sentence answer from the district on how "it can't be done."  That's a sign, not that it can't be done, but that the district doesn't want to do it.)

I suggest that anyone who has a concrete idea for a situation that is part of BEX, write up a couple of paragraphs.  I will compile these  and sent them off to the Board and the BEX team and even FACMAC (who I suspect will have thought of/heard all of them already). 

It's the eleventh hour but it might be worth it.

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

I realize there are a lot of tough decisions to be made, but I really dislike the idea of isolating the sixth graders in a temporary location. Sixth graders do not all only take "sixth grade" classes. An arrangement like this would likely have ruined my child's experience, making the advanced language class (with 8th graders) impossible, the choir class (lots of 7th graders) unlikely, and advanced math options probably minimal as well. After school activities would also likely be minimal. I get that we have to think creatively, but it would be a shame to deny sixth graders access to appropriate courses.

HH

Unknown said...

HH, why couldn't advanced options be given/accommodated? I think the district could work around that issue.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, a group of Hamilton parents have been fighting for years to get 6th graders access to advanced math classes, which were available to 6th graders pre-APP split. Years. I don't hold out hope that 6th graders would have access to advanced options should they be isolated from 7th and 8th graders. Schools couldn't justify the small class sizes that would result for those few students. Band, Orchestra, math and languages all have multi-age classes that allow for advanced options. These would go away with a 6th grade only cohort. Do you seriously believe 6th graders would have access to jazz at Roosevelt?

realist

Anonymous said...

Would all the 6th graders from Eckstein and Hamilton fit into John Marshall? I know that sounds like a strange question, but I was under the impression that the incoming 6th grade classes at Eckstein could be as large as 500 kids (or more) in the coming years. I don't have any idea of how many are expected at Hamilton, but to all fit at John Marshall, there would have to be under 750, total, unless they can add portables.
-JR Mom

Maureen said...

It seems to me that if you want to move a subgroup of MSers to JMarshall you should move the 8th graders not the 6th graders. Maybe just the Spectrum and/or APP 8th graders and have them access advanced classes at Roosevelt (or maybe just share teachers with Roosevelt.)

If I were splitting off 6th graders, I would send the Hamilton 6th graders to Lincoln. But that wouldn't help Eckstein unless you redrew the boundaries.

We are building MS capacity but not HS capacity (Tracy Libros admitted that this will cause problems down the road). Maybe it's time to roll a bunch of 8th graders up to the HS buildings. Get those portables (back) in there now and when the MS capacity comes on line, the crowded HSs can go back to serving 9-12 still using the portables.

aghast said...

Splitting 8th grade from the 6-7 cohort would result in loss of access to different level classes, just as would splitting off 6th graders. Splitting the 6-8 cohort, just for one or two schools is a bad idea. It's about as inequitable as you can get. It shouldn't even be an option.

Anonymous said...

@aghast

By your equity argument, starting a comprehensive middle school as a roll-up, with only 6th graders the first year, would also be inequitable, and shouldn't be an option, correct?

- North End Mom

Maureen said...

The advantage of splitting off 8th graders and giving them access to a High School is that they would still be able to take advanced classes. Teach all of the standard 6-8 classes at Eckstein and Hamilton, including above grade level classes for the 6th and 7th graders.

It's about as inequitable as you can get

I'm sure you realize that this statement isn't true. We can all think of many many scenarios that would be less equitable.

Unknown said...

Realist, yes, I do believe they would be able to access jazz at Roosevelt. Carrot, remember.

Why couldn't there be some advanced classes for some students? Eckstein and Hamilton both have Spectrum and math classes could be for whoever tests in (and between the two schools, I'd bet money it would be a full class).

How is it inequitable if they would have nearly the same classes they would have at their middle schools? This is temporary, remember?

The howls would be much louder for 8th graders than 6th graders so that's why 6th grade would be better.

Eric B said...

One of my big concerns about the Magnusen/Thornton Creek swap is that there isn't a lot of road-accessible buildable space in Magnusen. As near as I can tell, the only space is right in the southwest corner by Sand Pt Way and 65th St. This is about a block from sand Point elementary, so the boundaries would be goofy.

It looks like all of the other land has turf fields (that's not going away after the fight to build them), is already built out and occupied by various nonprofits, or is not accessible by road, or is a wetland.

Eric B said...

One more thing--I think the Intro item for BEX has an asterisk by Thornton Creek, with a note that some other option about siting may be considered. There isn't time to figure this out before the Board vote in 2 weeks, but there is certainly time to have an agreement in principle with the city before the levy vote in February. If that asterisk isn't there, then all that needs to be done is put it there.

Anonymous said...

I have a 4th grader in spectrum who could possibly be affected by a 6th grade at John Marshall as proposed. If this is temporary (ie my current 1st grader isn't affected 3 years later), I wouldn't oppose as long as he had access to 7th grade math, spectrum LA, and Jazz band. The inconvenience of bussing instead of walking, not getting to go to school with his sister, etc. etc. would be outweighed by the capacity issues we're dealing with now that will get MUCH worse in 2014 which is a huge class of kids at every NE school.

JP

Anonymous said...

@Eric B
If an option program was placed at Magnuson (i. e. the current Thornton Creek School), and the new assignment school built at the current Decatur/Thornton Creek site, then there would be no boundary issues (at least not due to the proximity of the option school to Sand Point Elementary).
-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

I expect the district would provide SOME advanced options for a sixth-grade only cohort, but not the full range. For example, they might provide both Spanish 1 and Spanish 2, but probably not Spanish 3. I'm not sure how kids could get from John Marshall to Roosevelt during their 5-minute passing period, either, so don't know what your ideas are re: "access" to Roosevelt for music.

Access to appropriate levels of math has been an ongoing issue at Hamilton, but perhaps Eckstein has a better record and could help push things forward in that area...? Not sure.

HH

Anonymous said...

re: Arbor Heights
I still haven't heard a decent response to the question: Why not have AH move into Schmitz Park school as soon as it is vacated (for the 2015 school year)? It would get AH out of their horrible old school 2 years earlier than scheduled now, and it would leave the Boren school open for other projects like the STEM non-decision. It might even free up more options to start an AH rebuild sooner as well.

Also, it would kick the "unoccupied" status 2 years down the road for Seattle occupancy permits (to avoid the extra code upgrades if it remains empty > 2 years).

-----SP

Anonymous said...

Regarding a grade 6 move to JM:
I would not be opposed to it if it was truly only a one year rotation. It would be preferable to the unimaginable crowding at Eckstein in three years (when my kids would first arrive), if no other relief is provided.

Regarding the TC/Magnuson land swap:
I have some friends in Parks - Field Scheduling/Attainment. There is no expressed opposition to a land swap. But, they also say there has not been an inquiry from SPS about the possibility.

Also, lots of questions. Magnuson is not a walkable location for a large portion of the NE. For that reason it might make sense to build a MS there. If that was the case would JAK8 remain where they are? And presume Pinehurst would not be demolished and could share space with another displaced program in the area such as home or world school.

What will happen at the current TC site? It is a very walkable location for many students in the NE. Would there be any elementary seats added at this location? If yes, Attendance Area or Option?

My concern is if there is intent to add Attendance Area elementary seats at Magnuson then children that can walk to school now will be bussed. That will create another poisonous round of infighting in the NE. Which kids will be thrown on the bus so to speak.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

@StepJ

Middle School at Magnuson: $80M, and too close to Eckstein for reasonable feeder patterns?

-JR Mom

Anonymous said...

$80m? Ouch. Are all the costs to build at Magnuson so high?

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

All of this comes down to trusting the district. As a parent who has been in the north APP program for five years, I don't recommend trusting the district. I personally would NOT believe anything the district says about something being short term.

Lincoln was supposed to be short term. There is currently no end in sight.

-fool me once

Anonymous said...

$80M is the cost of the new middle school at Wilson-Pacific, at least that is what I remember from one of the ever-changing spreadsheets.

I figured a new one at Magnuson would cost about that much, too.

-JR Mom

seattle citizen said...

"No school is an island"

Unless it's a charter school.

"and there are ramifications to all these choices and it's NOT just about capacity."

Unless you're a charter operator, then you don't care because the ramifactions of your capacity and enrollment are disconnected to the ramifications for the rest of the PUBLIC schools.

seattle citizen said...

I agree with Maureen on the 8th grade instead of 6th idea at John Marshall. For quite some time, the fifties and sixties I believe, Marshall was an adjunct to Roosevelt.

What if Roosevelt became an 8-12 and ran an 8th grade in the Marshall building? Crazy? Crazy as a fox!

seattle citizen said...

OR Marshall could become a commnity school, open 7am-11pm, serving K-12 in a variety of modes including digital and distant (with satellite schools in Mexico, Ethiopia, and Hanoi), hosting adult ed and day care, networking social services, eyecare and healthcare, providing space for arts groups...
Oh, wait, that idea has already been floated for teh Marshall building and nixed. I guess charters are just better and we wouldn't want to, you know, compete with them with more Choice, CAS and Alternative schools...

Eric B said...

@North End Mom, TC Option school is a much better choice for Magnusen. Thanks for pointing that out. In that case, there might also be savings from only having to put a wing on TC/Decatur to bring it up to 650 seats for the attendance area school. Proximity to Sand Point might also be a plus, since they could share some bus service.

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

Eric B, the boundaries between a school in the SW corner of Magnuson Park and Sand Point Elementary would only be goofy if they were both assignment area schools. If the Magnuson Park school were an option school like Thornton Creek or the Jane Addams K-8 program, that wouldn't be a problem. Thinking about it, Magnuson might be an even better location for Jane Addams than their current location from the point of view of field trip and science observation (and much better than Pinehurst). It might also cost less than building on as small a lot as Pinehurst.

Anonymous said...

Is the suggestion to split off NE 6th graders just a random idea from the community, or is it a proposal that district staff are considering? They proposed splitting off 4th-5th grade APP students from Lowell - bad idea that didn't get far - so I just want to know if this latest idea is actually being considered. So far those thinking it would be ok don't seem to actually have incoming 6th graders.

observer

Maureen said...

I think the psychological impact of splitting off the 6th graders (who know they are already headed for a new school) is different than splitting off 4th and 5th graders who are less mature and, in the case of APP, might have only spent a year or two at Lowell. I see Melissa's point that it might be more difficult to split off the 8th grade (since they are looking forward to being the Big People on Campus I guess), but I disagree. I figure they are already halfway out the door (I know my 8th graders were) and might look at it as a step up towards HS and enjoy being in a building without the 'little kids' (especially if two or more MSs fed in to the interim building.).

If you have to split off a grade, I think 8th makes more sense--especially if they might be able to interact with the HS kids (6th grade is too young for that and I can't imagine they would be able to access Jazz at Roosevelt--three years too little experience and a big gap with the 9th graders). The 8th graders would be in a continuum with the RHS 9th grade and that could work. Same for math, language and possibly other subjects.

JA Parent said...

I think a lot of Jane Addams families were hoping that Magnuson would be considered. I talked briefly to a board member about it, and was told the district was reluctant to try any more land deals with the city. It certainly didn't sound like they were going to pursue it. Too bad.

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is a community idea to split off 6th graders.

I can only say that if there is no other idea out there, then everyone should just be willing to (quietly) and hold on for another 4 years.

Honestly, people are unhappy, want something to change and yet, where are the other alternatives? If there are none, then why bother complaining?

Anonymous said...

@Melissa,

Isn't there a limit to how many portables that can be placed at Eckstein? Is there any room left?

It seems like there is no way to "quietly hang on," even if we wanted to. Something has to be done soon, if Eckstein exceeds the portable limit.

I support the idea for pre-middle school (6th grade)at John Marshall, as long as advanced math, Spectrum, etc... are available.

It would also be extremely nice if the Jane Addams K-8 "mushroomed" to take more kids at 6th grade for at least 2013-14 and 2014-15 (assuming that they get to stay in the building until it become available as a comprehensive middle school in 2017).

-JR Mom

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I personally really like the idea of splitting the 6th graders into their own building. And I have one heading to 6th grade at Eckstein next year. (Provided, as everyone says, that they have Spectrum, Band, a range of electives, and generally what they would have at Eckstein or Hamilton). The idea of isolating them from the older kids for another year is appealing.

We are in the north part of the Eckstein attendance area that would be presumably assigned to JA when (if?) it comes online as a comprehensive MS. I have lots of concerns about building the new MS from scratch. I think Eckstein (and Hamilton and Whitman too) should have to give up a percentage of their established teachers to the new MS to share the burden of hiring, etc. Maybe even the revered Mr. E (band). One of the benefits of moving the 6th graders in the interim is that the established 6th grade teachers could go with them and kind of just keep doing what they are doing, but in a different building.

TC or JAK-12 at Magnuson also sounds much better to me than the current proposals for either of those programs. Why does SPS refuse to think creatively?

@ Seattle Citizen
Yes, Marshall was an adjunct to RHS up until the mid 70's or so, but it was all 9th grade and RHS was 10-12.

NBN

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@Anon @9:04pm
Hmm. "No Established Anything" sounds a lot like what they are proposing for some brand new MS @ JA.
Funny, my 5th grader said "great idea". It just depends on how you look at it. What you see as "banishing", I see as "liberating" to get out of the crowded Eckstein building and have a space all their own. Is a mascot really of high importance?
It absolutely has to be done right so they still get the same educational experience, or it would be disaster. But done right, certainly has potential. I think 6th grade is such a transitional year anyway, that it just makes sense.

NBN

ArchStanton said...

I don't usually do requests (partly because I don't usually get requests), but someone asked for: "a simple graphic with the "10 Donors Funded 91 Percent of Charter Schools Campaign" Vote NO on I-1240. If there were a poster I could download it would be on my car within the hour. As it is, I may make my own!".

But this one seemed like it might be useful for some folks, so I broke out my limited Excel skills and worked something up. I won't leave it up forever since it's not in my usual style, so get it while you can.

You know where to find it.

Anonymous said...

ArchStanton. I see this going viral. Can we send to friends, post on fb - giving ArchStanton props of course.

This is great ! thanks

-no1240

Anonymous said...

@ Maureen,

I think you sum up the difference at a K8. Your 6th graders were in the middle of the K8 experience.

- north seattle mom

ArchStanton said...

ArchStanton. I see this going viral. Can we send to friends, post on fb - giving ArchStanton props of course.

As you like. You can attribute or not since it's just data. I did realize that it should probably indicate YES on 1240 donors to be clear. I'll tweak it in the am.

Anonymous said...

Roosevelt just turned office space into a science lab. My kid has 3 classes of 34+ students. I don't think they have extra classroom space.

-Roosevelt parent

kellie said...

Just to be extra clear, I don't think moving 6th grade out of middle school is a "great idea." I don't even think it is a "good idea."

However, I think it is time that the broader community start to talk about regional solutions.

* Eckstein has 1300 students this year and they will most likely have 1400 next year. There is nothing about those enrollment numbers that are OK.

* Schmitz Park is almost beyond description. A cute little 2-up school that is now a 4/5 up with a portable village. Only first and second grades are in the building, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th are in portables.

It is time to realize that the capacity conversation has shifted from "what is the best option for our students" to "what is tolerable?" to "What is the least awful?"

The reason the conversations around this BEX is so intense is because BEX IV is not a solution it is a band aid that is only going to help the most severe issues.

Moving 6th grade is awful. However, IMO, 1400 students at Eckstein, year round school and split schedules are worse.

I wish I had a great idea. I don't. However, I am very hopeful that a broader community conversation might create one.

Anonymous said...

http://westseattleblog.com/2012/10/schmitz-family-asks-school-board-to-keep-schmitz-park-elementary-open

Another wrinkle for west Seattle

Yumpears

kellie said...

John Marshall was originally the 9th grade annex for Roosevelt. So "in theory" it would make sense for an 8th grade cohort to reside there. IMHO, in practice, it would be impossible for Roosevelt to provide any meaningful support to an 8th grade annex.

This is because the many of the high schools and nearly all of the north end high schools are too stretched to do anything else.

The beginning of increased enrollment is now in 10th grade. That means from 10th grade on down to Kindergarten there is year over year larger cohorts. The current 11th and 12th grade cohorts are of what could reasonably be considered "typical size." In two years all of the modest size cohorts will be graduated from SPS and then we will begin to see some significant capacity challenges at high school.

Right now, there has still be a some limited amount of choice. The theory of the 10% choice seats means that people are still looking at high schools and some families are even getting choice seats. That is not going to last much longer.

Right now, for all intents and purposes, Garfield should have a closed sign as there really aren't any choice seats. In about two years, there won't be any meaningful number of choice seats at Roosevelt or Ballard and most likely Ingraham and Hale as well.

I really want people to have a district wide conversation about north end middle school solutions, not only because the situation has moved past any easy solution, but also because the same questions will need to be applied to high school very very soon.

Here are some very challenging education questions
* annexes for single grades - pros/cons
* how do you start new comprehensive schools
* what is the minimum definition of comprehensive.
* What is the value if any of repurposing option space for assignment space
* year round schooling for capacity issues - pros/cons
* extended daily schedules or shifted schedules for capacity reasons - pros/cons
* What would "enough" facilities actually look like and how much money would it cost?
* How does an urban district acquire new land for new facilities?

These are all valid questions for the middle school issue. Pretty soon, they are going to be urgent questions about high school.

Anonymous said...

@Kellie
I think it makes more sense to put the 6th graders at John Marshall. There's been some talk on this thread about how John Marshall once served as the 9th grade annex for Roosevelt, so why not put 8th graders there now. Since the NSAP, a good portion of the 8th graders at Eckstein now track to Hale, so I think it would get messy during the 8th and 9th grade transition if all the 8th graders from Eckstein were at John Marshall, especially if there was any overlap/support from Roosevelt at John Marshall.
-North End Mom

Spruiter said...

Would there be any way to draw some students from the Whitman service area down to McClure? Based on current enrollment (373) and published capacity (675 without portables), it looks like McClure has space.

I understand that the goal of the NSAP is to put attendance seats where kids live - and more away from magnet/option programs that pull kids to different parts of town - but in the interim - it might be something to consider.

I don't imagine that it would help Eckstein or Hamilton as that would be too far out of the way.

And in response to JR Mom asking if Jane Addams would mushroom at middle school for the next two years to help alleviate capacity issues at Eckstein - yes - the intent is that we would mushroom at middle school for the next few years to accommodate families who opt in.


Anonymous said...

Spruiter, interesting idea, but why not add Hamilton for re-draw zone (i.e. B.F. Day, or W. Woodland)? If you are looking at distance and bridges, these Hamilton feeder schools are closer to McClure than some of the Ballard ones feeding into Whitman. This would give Hamilton some breathing room and help McClure up their enrollment.

PS mom

Anonymous said...

@ PS Mom I like your thoughts on this. At one point, maybe even now, BF Day was/is drawing kids from the north slope of Queen Anne -- it's not like the ship canal is the Berlin Wall. If McClure is underenrolled then district, use that extra space to relieve the crowding on the north end. Sheesh.
signed,
Checkpoint Charlie

Anonymous said...

A couple other thoughts on the suggestion to relocate Hamilton and Eckstein 6th graders to John Marshall:

1. That would mean three schools in three years for those kids. They'd come from a bunch of different elementary schools, be at JM one year, then move to their real middle school. Thinking a couple years further, that's four schools in five years. Quite a lot of turmoil.

2. In addition to the above, these kids would go in knowing that the new friendships they make are likely to be temporary, as they'll be splitting again the following year. Or, some may not really bother to invest in these friendships in the first place. Sad, but true.

3. Keep in mind that Hamilton is also the North end APP site. While I'm sure they could still offer the official APP classes at an interim site, I think it's an important consideration when assuming the district would provide sufficiently advanced options. Melissa mentioned Spectrum math, but that definitely won't cut it. APP math (6th HH) isn't sufficient as it is, and access to the new Algebra class is already too limited. Access to higher level classes is an issue beyond just math though, and I'm not at all convinced that APP kids would have the same opportunities for advanced courses in a 6th grade only school as they currently do at Hamilton.

HH

WallingfordMom said...

Hamilton is in the BF Day Attendance Area. You'd be sending kids who live across the street from Hamilton to McClure.

Anonymous said...


Actually, if a rollup happened at JM for middle school with the goal being to open both Wilson-Pacific and JA comprensive MS's in 2017, the 2013-14 6th graders would stay at JM until High School as would the 2014-15 6th graders. The 2015-16 6th graders would have 2 years at JM then go to their new MS and the 2016-17 6th graders would be in JM just one year.

~a regional solution is what we need

Anonymous said...

@ Regional solution

The rollups of 2 middle schools couldn't fit at John Marshall.

Jane Addams is already impacted by being booted from its facility. It has no say in its enrollment for the coming years. If the district makes us huge or artificially makes us small, our community has to deal with it. And we will, but this is more change for us. (Note that Thornton Creek for years has refused to grow. We are not doing that.)

Eckstein parents refuse to take any pain. They whine about the present, refuse a forward thinking solution. They have already succeeded in displacing us from our building. Enough, OK? Enough.

Nothing will be good here but 6th grade at John Marshall for Eckstein and possibly Hamilton sounds workable. 6th grade APP at Hamilton too? Don't know much about that part. But the plan fits better than anything else out there at the moment, and at Jane Addams we've heard them all.

Disgusted Near North 130th

PS: The next thing I'm sure I'm going to hear is someone whining about their students inconvienent band practice site or somesuch with 6th grade at JM. Get over it. Or get busy helping find a solution instead of bellyaching.

Unknown said...

Yes, they could and I'd like to know what your data is that they wouldn't.

Eckstein parents refuse to take any pain? What? They have had portables for decades. Are you kidding me, Disgusted? You may not like their complaining but yes, they do have something to complain about.

Don't let the position that the district has put you in blind you to that.

Anonymous said...

@ Disgusted Near North 130th

"(Note that Thornton Creek for years has refused to grow. We are not doing that.)"

Are you kidding me? TC has added an extra classroom every year for the last few years. They have grown well over a 100 students in a few years in their tiny building . They have SIX portables on the playground.

The ONLY reason another portable wasn't added this year is because the City wouldn't grant the permit. Two years ago, SPS planned to add six additional portables for a total of eight. The City only permitted them to add 4 for total of six.

The "TC refuses to grow" is a malicious untruth designed to undermine an option school. All enrollment is controlled centrally. No school has any influence over their enrollment.

You are doing nothing to make your case about "poor Jane Addams" by throwing around untruths about other schools.

- NE parent

Anonymous said...

@Disgusted
Less than 0.5 mi from Jane Addams is John Rogers. It is a small building, designed to be a 2-up elementary. This year, John Rogers grew by 24%. That's right, 24% in ONE YEAR. We have three kindergarten classrooms, and, unless drastic boundary changes are made, we are looking at growing to a 3-up, in portables.

As an attendance-area school, we cannot turn away child who lives in the attendance area, and we take new kids all year long.

After reading the comments on this blog written by JA parents, I am going to try to put a positive spin on our bulging enrollment, and look at is as reaching a "critical mass" so we can provide better differentiation of instruction for our kids.

Please don't complain about "not being able to controll your enrollment. Really. It shows that you are out of touch with what is happening in your own backyard.

-JR Mom

Anonymous said...

@ HH

I am having a hard time following your point. Are you arguing that 4 schools in 5 years is a fundamental hardship instead of 3 schools in 5 years? What about Shoreline where students have 3 schools in 4 years - Is that also too much turmoil? Are you arguing that somehow the district needs to guarantee that students can be confident that any investment in a friendship be stable? or are you arguing that access to advanced math needs to be the cornerstone of capacity management decisions?

Seriously?

The students at Eckstein can't go to their lockers between classes because opening lockers is a hazard to the number of bodies trying to pass in the halls. The master schedule is now so complicated that I don't know one family that got their first choice electives this year.

I don't like any of the options but it seems like two years in normal school might be nice.

- exhausted at eckstein

Anonymous said...

@ Disgusted Near North 130th

I hardly know where to start. You can't have lived near 130th for very long. If you had, then you would know that most of the families near 130th would either get a bus to go past Eckstein to Hamilton or transfer to Shoreline for middle school.

This neighborhood has NEVER had good middle school assignment and now that we finally have one, it is beyond over crowded.

Now I am worried that my second child is going to get stuck with a fake comprehensive school.

- exhausted at eckstein

Anonymous said...

I met a young woman working at a Well Fargo branch in south Seattle who is currently a student at the University of Washington. She grew up in very south Seattle, almost Renton, and her mother drove her to Ingraham every day so she could take advantage of the IB program when she was a high school student. I don't think they would have cared about portables or 34 students in a classroom. All anyone really cares about is the best education possible for their kids. Let's spread it around for everyone. Build new schools in the north, create good schools in the south. At this point, one families' pain is another families' opportunity. Seattle Public Schools could be amazing if they just listened to what families want and need.

Almost out

Anonymous said...

I don't think "Disgusted Near North 130th"'s attitude represents the majority of parents in the Jane Addams community. We are well aware of the overcrowding problems at other schools. While we are disappointed about losing our building, we are trying to present solutions that solve the overcrowding problem in a fair and equitable manner.

@Disgusted - Name calling is not very productive.

- Dude

Anonymous said...

@ exhausted at Eckstein,

I was just trying to make the case that if a group of middle school kids is going to have to face the unfortunate situation of being placed in a temporary location for a single year, it would make more sense to place them with other kids who will continue to be part of their school community the following year. What a miserable situation to be stuck not only in an interim site with more limited access to courses, but on top of that to not really have a lasting cohort to help get you through it.

And yes, I think it IS a hardship for tweens/teens to face transition upon transition. I'm not saying that's the most important factor in any of these capacity discussions, but in my opinion it's worth consideration--and my saying so does not in any way imply that Eckstein's problems are not real or do not merit resolution. Why is every mention of potential other considerations--interpreted by folks as an attack on "their" school??? If we're all in this together, there should be room for consideration of all the factors, which can then be prioritized.

Re: advanced math, nobody said that should be the priority issue. But I stand by my comment that since Hamilton is the home of APP North, access to advanced courses (math and beyond) should at least enter into the deliberations. I believe about 1/3 of Hamilton's sixth graders fall within the district's "highly academically gifted" range. If the district ends up making a split like this, some efforts to avoid weakening middle school APP should be part of the deal.

HH

Anonymous said...

@ HH

"I was just trying to make the case that if a group of middle school kids is going to have to face the unfortunate situation of being placed in a temporary location for a single year, it would make more sense to place them with other kids who will continue to be part of their school community the following year."

It seems to me that the options are
- some students being somewhere for a single year and having one extra transition or
- some students being stuck in a non-comprehensive middle school for their entire middle school experience.

I can only surmise from your fixation on the hazards of the one-year transition that your student won't be faced with both of those options.

- exhausted at eckstein

Anonymous said...

"Why is every mention of potential other considerations--interpreted by folks as an attack on "their" school??? If we're all in this together, there should be room for consideration of all the factors, which can then be prioritized."

It is because all of the options pit one group against another and without taking a moment to consider another side, by default you are attacking another school, not listing concerns.

For all of the Lake City families, our options are a lot more bleak.
- continue with Eckstein until it goes from hazardous to dangerous.
- bus past Eckstein to JM to build a new comprehensive middle school that will never be comprehensive as a roll up
- ignore the fact that a roll up will deny access to advanced courses for multiple years not one.
- attend a K8 that is not comprehensive
- jump on the bandwagon to evict our neighbors from the middle school building so that we don't have to bus to an interim location for multiple years but live with the fact that we threw our neighbors under the bus.

So the part that you never mention that there might be any other consideration sure makes it look like you are not in this with anyone else. The consideration that students should be with a cohort that doesn't include anyone that won't continue with them automatically means that Lake City once again takes one for the team.

I'm tired of Lake City kids being the toss around kids.

- exhausted at Eckstein

Anonymous said...

@exhausted

Well said. Thank you. Taking one for the team IS getting exhausting.

-North End Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Seattle Public Schools could be amazing if they just listened to what families want and need."

Yup.

Anonymous said...

To the commenters following mine, I stand by my comments.

If there has been even one collaborative suggestion put forth by Eckstein, I'd sure like to hear it. I know it is staff's job but they are apparently unable to handle their job. In that absence at least JA is giving them ideas that would do minimal impact to other schools. Have you stepped up? Don't see any evidence.

Understadn T.C. has grown with portables and that's too bad. But I also now know they were offered, more than once, the chance to grow by adding a middle school or in a planned growth of elementary. They wouldn't. Middle school there would be helping all of us now.

Carr and MartinMorris, bord members , created us a few years ago. They could have asked for a middle school in our building but they didn't. They made a program that is thriving and has ttaken pressure off the area in grade school as well as middle. Wus the situation at John Rogers, among other places, would have fallen apart already. The northeast needs our program to work.


Furthermore we welcome your middle schoolers if you do not like your Eckstein or Hamilton situations. We have repeatedly offered to take more middle school students in the interim. I assure you that not being the vaunted 'comprehensive' has been of no detriment to our students.

I will not stand by and see our program thrown down to John Marshall this year next year or the next. Our families will just rebel and overcrowd Ecsktein and grade schools more. And kill our program. We can and will move as soon as another building wherever that lands, is retrofitted and built.

So your turn Eckstein and I guess Hamilton since it seems wrapped up in this now. What are you going to do? I say an overflow 6th or 8th at John Marshall works better than anything else. You have to get back on a bus for band practice? Hey, at least you'll still have access. Defend yourselves all you want, but your continued lobbying to cut us off at the knees, which I and fellow parents have evidence you are doing, is not going to be taken lightly.

Disgusted Near 130th

Anonymous said...

@Disgusted

You are correct that if there had been no other solution implemented (besides the JA K-8) to provide elementary capacity in the Lake City area, schools like John Rogers would be very over-crowded.

I actually think that housing the 6th grade Eckstein students at John Marshall for a few years is not a terribly bad idea, especially if the Jane Addams K-8 expanded their middle school to accept student whose families are willing to send their child to a K-8 (it is not for everyone, I hope you get that). This would share the burden equally amongst Eckstein families, and not put the burden soley upon Lake City families.

This would be a reasonable solution to get us through to 2015, but 2017 is a stretch.

BTW, it was Director Carr who introduced an amendment in June 2009 (which passed), stating there would be no changes to the JA K-8 program through the end of BEXIV planning in 2013. That they are even considering to relocate the program is a gift, in light of what happened to the Summit program. I know that sounds horrible, because I truly understand that the Jane Addams program is a very good program, but even back in 2009 they knew something might have to change, due to the projected middle school enrollment.
-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

In some BEX thread, sometime in the past (how's that for being specific : ) ) I read an idea about moving ALL of Hamilton APP to McClure. McClure has enough space, and will for several years (until SPS can come up w/ a plan for APP 1st -12th (humor me!))

Hamilton's APP is co housed w/ a gen ed+Spectrum population so that's not a huge difference, right?

That would open up a bunch of space at Hamilton, maybe even allowing some breathing room at Eckstein if some of those kids went to Hamilton instead.

I'm just throwing it out there to see if it could work?? Not trying to be insensitive to APP needs.

-mcclure parent

Anonymous said...

How much space does McClure have? There are at least 400 APP students at Hamilton now.

Mom of 2

speculating said...

A move of APP to McClure would most likely exacerbate Eckstein overcrowding because a portion of qualified students would choose Eckstein over McClure simply because of the distance.


Anonymous said...

Regarding NBN's concern about starting up a brand new school. Although there haven't been brand new comprehensive middle schools started from scratch in Seattle recently, there have been new elementaries and K-8s started. I think the key here is leadership.

Having Debbie Nelsen at the helm of Jane Addams has been invaluable for us. Both families and teachers have left their schools to join her in the creation of a brand new school.

We started at Jane Addams in year two - eager to be part of building a new community from scratch. I recognize there are differences from being in an option school (where everyone is making that leap of faith by choice), versus an attendance school, as well as a K-8 versus a middle school where you won't have as much time to reap the rewards of all the hard work to get a new community up and running, but please take a minute to consider some of the benefits:

Your students will get to be the first to start new traditions - they won't be saddled with the way things have always been done.

You will benefit from a team of teachers who are brought in at the same time, by the same principal - who all share a vision and a common goal. I can't tell you how incredibly valuable that is (I encourage you to stop by Jane Addams and talk to some of our teachers).

You won't have teachers who are just biding their time until they retire - but you won't have all rookie teachers either. Many of our teachers left desirable posts to realize a dream of being part of starting a new school.

Of course there will be challenges too - my child is in the first of the larger cohorts at Jane Addams - each year we have had to fight for staffing, start the year with subs, and hire new teachers. But those growing pains have also helped to galvanize us as a community.

Strong leadership will be key to making the new schools work (and the old ones too). When I look at many of the under-enrolled schools - it often seems to come down to leadership issues. How can we push the district on this?

I love living in the north end of NE Seattle - we have an intelligent, creative, diverse community - and the demographics are a little more 'real world' than in the rest of NE Seattle.

There will, however, be some very real equity issues between Jane Addams MS and Eckstein MS. My sincere hope is that once the Eckstein community is not feeling quite so frantic about their immediate safety issues, they will be able to acknowledge, empathize, and even help offer some creative solutions to address the equity issues.

Because whether I get my pony or not, I still feel

-We can all do better

Anonymous said...

@we can all do better

Your optimism is refreshing. I agree that landing Debbie Nelsen was the key to the success of Jane Addams. She is a fabulous principal. Does she have any interest in being the principal of a brand new middle school? ;)

Sorry, I couldn't resist that.

In the case of Jane Addams K-8, an option school, there was a need to find a strong leader with a vision - someone to attract both families and staff. There was a need to create an attractive program - one interesting enough to set it apart from the neighborhood schools, yet traditional enough for broad appeal.

Do you think SPS will go to this much trouble for not one, but two new assignment middle schools opening in 2017? I hope that Jane Addams Middle School, has a design team (like Jane Addams K-8 did), is given adequate resources to fund true comprehensive programming, and that it has strong leadership and teaching staff.

However, the reality is that it will be an assignment school, and these are the days of TFA. SPS doesn't have to bend over backwards to get families "chose" this new school. Where else could we go? Eckstein will be full, Jane Addams K-8 (wherever it lands) will be practically inaccessible as a chimney K-8. Our only real choice in the matter will be Shoreline Schools, if there are still seats available there.

So, thanks for the words of encouragement, but I don't share your optimism.

-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

I should proof read more carefully! "chose" should be "to choose," but I'm sure you catch my drift.

If anyone out there has any potential middle school principal recommendations (besides Debbie Nelsen), please feel free to make suggestions!

Thanks!

-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

North End Mom,

You bring up some great points that we can all advocate for:

Design teams for all the new schools, and more excellent principals.

Do we need to wait for the district to put the design teams together, or can an involved group of parents step up and offer to get the ball rolling (as soon as BEX IV passes)? No we shouldn't have to - but sitting around waiting for it to happen won't get it done either.

-We can all do better

PS - but no - you can't have Debbie Nelsen ;-)

Benjamin Leis said...

My random 2 cents. I grew up in a traditional school system that had K-6 elementary schools and where middle school started at 7th grade. For me and my classmates, I don't remember any regrets at not have a comprehensive middle school experience until the next year and the year itself was a good one. Those experiences tend to temper my worries about rolling up a single 6th grade cohort. In the abstract, 500-600 six graders in a single building should provide enough kids to allow for a wide spectrum of leveled classes and extra curricular activities. With the right planning the curriculum could be great. The hard part would be putting that into place and executing on the plan. (But we're just discussing a potential plan) I'd also point out that kids tend to be a lot more flexible about new buildings and year to year changes than adults. We expend a lot of angst over N schools in M years and forming friendships and disruptions. Some of those concerns are real but the kids are more adaptable than we sometimes give them credit for.

Ben

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is a dumb question, but why not make the middle school reference areas more like the high school ones, based on geography rather than elementary school boundaries? They will have to redo boundaries anyway when the new middle schools come online, so just right-size them then, including sending more kids across the ship canal to less-crowded McClure and reopened Meany. Schools get split in the transition from middle to high school, so why not do it at middle school too?

Wondering

Charlie Mas said...

Wondering,

The District wants to create feeder patterns from elementary to middle schools to encourage the elementary and middle schools to collaborate. It is to allow the elementary schools to know where their children are going when they leave and to prepare them for the expectations there.