Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Tuesday Open Thread

The Times and a bone - more on the district needing to work with downtown for a school.  Yes, creative ideas would be good...if this were an actual need AND priority. 

What is fascinating is that it was stated at the BEX IV meeting at McClure that staff IS working on looking at space, etc. 

One, you'd think that BEX/facilities staff might have better things to do (but we also thought that about Dow Constantine, the Mayor and the City Council and yet the arena was their obsession for the last couple of months). 

Two, why is this so important?  Maybe we should send Banda and the Board separate e-mails and ask them to rank order a downtown school in the list of "what needs to get done in SPS".  

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

our Rainier Beach High School got a big write up in NYT's Sunday paper.



mirmac1 said...

It seems BEX/Facilities staff works for Holly Miller and the city DOE.

Here's what your're going to do..

Nice for the district to inform us, "the general populace" on the plan for Comprehensive Elementary Schools. It's this kind of hoop jumpring that keeps our district off-balance and stumbling.

Steveroo said...

Did I read that right? 150 seats (6 classrooms) to be reserved in each new Comprehensive 650-seat elementary school and not used for regular classrooms, so they can be used exclusively for City programs before and after school? If that's so, then the City should foot the added capital cost of building those 6 classrooms in each of those (eventually 11) schools. But is the City proposing to fund that enormous capital cost? No. Instead, kids who would have been in those 6 classrooms (or 2 classrooms, in non-Comprehensive schools) will be in housed in... guess where... six (or 2) more portables per school!

uxolo said...

Thank you, Mirmac1.

Why is Holly Miller meeting with Pegi? City job or as a member of the Board of Directs of the The Finance Project (see www.financeproject.org)

(also note, Miller is former Exec Director of the New School Foundation that created South Shore K-8 and some say, has been crafted to become a charter school)

from the Finance Project website, one of their accomplishments:
"The Network of Independent Charter Schools is designed to support teachers, administrators and trustees develop best practices and collaborate with one another and to help independent "mom and pop" charter schools succeed. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, it delivers a comprehensive and integrated array of services and resources--free of charge--to help improve the capacity of teachers, administrators and trustees at independent charter schools. The Finance Project helps develop content for the Network of Independent Charter Schools website in the areas of charter school management, financing and governance."

Unknown said...

I am baffled by what Holly Miller wrote. The City cannot dictate to the district what the district will do or build.

I found some of what she said to be either wrong or unclear but what is clear is that the City, via the Families and Education Levy, feels itself quite empowered.


Anonymous said...

It looks like my FACMAC question has been answered on the BEX thread. I am putting the answer here for all to see. It is as I suspected. Community members on FACMAC, which had by far the most insight into the needs and population numbers in the community, Deep Sixed the Downtown idea on BEX.

My question is why district administrators are then insisting on committing MILLIONS to the idea. My answer is likely the usual: behind the scenes politics.

It doesn't just smell, it stinks. And I will not vote for BEX with the downtown school on it, because it says I cannot trust district decisionmakers to act on behalf of parents.


The other thread note:

Anonymous said...
Re Facmac and the downtown school: what I heard was that facmac took the budget line item to $ 0 (zero) and deleted the idea at the end of last year, then it was put back on as $3 mill for "a study" over the summer by powers beyond facmac, and they haven't been able to get that $3 mill reallocated b/c it's out of their control. They only give recommendations, after all, nothing binding. The Board is the final say. Talk to the Board. And use that equity term they're really doubling down on - ie, putting the SLU kids at Lowell on Cap Hill is equity for the school that lost so much of its student population, and the $ 3 mill could go to improvements at Lowell as equity ... just saying!

from Another anonymous poster

mirmac1 said...

I agree Melissa. Equally baffling as her statement re: Creative Approach Schools:

"We were interested because of the potential of using this approach to implement Levy investments in low-performing schools. Issues like schedule flexibility, curriculum flexibility and staffing stability are key to helping this(sic) schools improve and the Levy provides as close to sustainable funding as anyone is likely to find. We gave very direct and clear feedback to...Enfield..., but no changes have been made....

Obviously the supermajority requirements are silly and unsuited to schools who staff maybe the part of the school's problem...unfortunately, this is not likely to be of any use with Levy schools."

Oh, was the City DOE and Levy Oversight committee going to pay for salaries for extended day? Textbooks? Were taxpayers going to be double taxed for the same thing? I figure she must've been envisioning those "mom and pop" charters using Creative Approach...

Anonymous said...

I don't think Melissa called this out explicitly enough for blog readers - the Times has an opinion piece touting the need for spending millions right now to 'leverage' developer interest in a downtown school. I diagree with this 'small' expenditure to begin with. We don't have the money. Period.

Next paragraph says the district then has to figure out how to pay for the whole thing. So, let's sneak that school right into the BEX queue. What a load.

The comments set the Times straight, as usual.


mirmac1 said...

I have it on good authority that:

a) the CAS MOU will be amended (not enough in my view)

b) it will live its short life until the new CBA comes into effect.

c) the schools that submitted applications are not out in la-la land w/ regards to innovation.

d) the new CBA will have stronger language that defines the process and criteria with regards to any future Creative Approach schools.

Anonymous said...

mirmac1, can you explain your post a little to me-- i guess i know a little about creative approach but not enough to know exactly what you are saying and i feel dumb! sorry!

mirmac1 said...

Well, in a nutshell, the original Creative Approach Schools MOU which allowed waiver of district policies and CBA provisions, was permanently enjoined by the court. This was after Director Peaslee saying it had seriously deficiencies, not the least of which was how it was negotiated in the first place.

Now, Ron English is proposing an amendment of this deficient MOU to include Board review and approval. Director Peaslee and others (including teachers and families) STILL have strong misgivings.

It looks like the amendment has the votes to pass. But the MOU is only good through the remainder of this CBA (summer next year).

Through negotiation of the new CBA, the district has the opportunity to get it right. No loyalty oath, no displacement of teachers who don't want to give up their employment rights, more community involvement (less LEV, OSC involvement).

Word is the eleven applications are not "out there" in terms of curriculum or other building matters.

Does this help?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I did have to laugh.

Why are they passing this Creative Approach thing at all when it will be totally revisited in Feb? What's the point?

kellie said...

At the Bryant meeting last night, Superintendent Banda, clearly stated that there were significantly higher priorities for BEX funds than a downtown school. He received a round of applause.

I think it is safe to say that SPS is not interested in using BEX funds for a downtown school. Folks that care about this issue should contact the mayor and city council.

Anonymous said...

yes, but sorry if i am being really dumb--
so... they will pass this, schools will be approved, and then it is not valid anymore when the new CBA happens? Or it just changes the meaning of it? I don't quite get yet how all of this works together...
This seems like a long annoying process if it is all for nothing. I find that kind of hard to believe! I mean, I can believe it, it just seems weird.

kellie said...

@ mirmac

I believe your reading of Holly Miller's memo is completely incorrect.

Holly Miller is focusing on the money that is attached to the Family and Education Levy and it is her responsibility to see that the Family and Education money is spend in accordance with the policies and procedures that were outlined in the process that created that levy. Pretty straight forward stuff.

One of the items in that levy was expanded pre-school and additional health facilities. She is clearly stating that the City is committing to spending $62 Million on preschool for high poverty and at risk students. This commitment clearly follows best practices that shows that early childhood investments help close the poverty gap.

mirmac1 said...


Why does this letter to Pegi sound like a done deal? Where was the community engagement? Steveroo's question is valid.

I guess I've read enough emails and memos that suggest the city thinks of itself as the shadow school board with my levy money.

kellie said...

To answer the questions about the space allocated in this memo.

I don't think Holly Miller is telling the district what to do as much as she is trying to recap what the district was telling her. There is nothing on that list that hasn't been discussed at multiple public meetings.

That said, I have always taken great objection to the term 650 student school for the new buildings and I have yet to get a good definition for this. It is my best guess that this is a school with 26 homeroom and a projected usage of 25 students per homeroom. I would vastly prefer the new buildings are described by the number of homerooms as that is a fixed number.

If my 26 homeroom school guess is correct, then I suspect that most of these schools will actually have about 500 students. This is because large schools like this will naturally become homes for multiple special education programs. It seems to me that at least 6 of the 26 homerooms should be dedicated to special education. As much as the capacity issue have impacted general education, special education has truly suffered.

The district is obligated to provide special education including pre-school services. Specialized programs like medically fragile or self contained autism are space intensive. Additionally while all students will benefit from new facilities, special education truly feels the impact when placed in buildings that were constructed before special education was included in neighborhood schools.

Special Education should get first share of new spaces.

That said, I would have vastly preferred that there was some clarity on the topic in this memo. Something to the effect of, "The City understands that the extreme lack of capacity in public school facilities will severely limit the ability of the Families and Education Levy to execute on our intended goals. What can we do to help?"

kellie said...

@ mirmac,

It "sounds" like a done-deal because it is a memo. Memos sound official. She states "With respect to current Seattle School District planning, the following guidelines are tentatively in place." She is referring to SPS guidelines for space utilization.

It is standard practice to repeat back what you heard at a meeting to ensure that everyone is literally on the same page going forward.

My bet is the meeting went like this.

City - Because of the Family and Education Levy, the City of Seattle has a lot of money to spend on Seattle Public Schools and we would like to spend it this way. BTW, the "this way" that we want to spend the money seems to align with best practices to help high poverty and at risk groups. We want to make certain that the students that need services the most get those services.

SPS - That sounds like a great idea. However, our schools are full and we don't have any space to execute these great ideas. The money is awesome but we don't have classroom space for preschool, after school programs and health centers.

City - What do you mean, you don't have space? Did you just close schools?

SPS - Don't remind me! Yes, we did close schools but now schools are growing and we are out of space.

City - But isn't there a $650 Million levy for capital coming up, will some of that capital money be available for programs that the Families and Education Levy supports? We have a lot of money and we want to give it to you.

SPS - Ummm, not really. While in theory, $650 Million capital levy is a lot of money and you are describing best practices for high risk groups, we have a lot of priorities.

City - I am so confused. I have $62 Million for early childhood education. $62 Million is a lot of money. Early childhood eduction is really important. Perhaps, I wasn't clear, the City is going to pay for ALL of the costs associated with early childhood education, you just need to have a classroom. Are you saying, you are going to charge rent for the classroom.

SPS - No, we are saying, we don't have a classroom but maybe we can find a place or two to put a portable.

I am exaggerating because I wasn't in that meeting. However, I have been in enough meetings in my life and I have read enough Dilbert to be able to accurately describe the meeting that generated the memo.

mirmac1 said...


As always, I greatly value your perspective. And I have a child in Sped so am glad they are actually recognized as general education students...finally.

But I am the Alice in Dilbert world. I will bring out the Fist o' Death if this stuff is pre-ordained without considerable public input.

I am familiar with how these meetings go. I simply tire of the veiled (or not so, ergo Burgess popping up at PTSA meetings 'round town) implication that we, the Seattle Public Schools, are beholden to bureaucrats, who contribute but a small portion of the $212M levy placed on taxpayers like you and me.

They wield it as a bludgeon to tell Banda he must do this or that: downtown school, CAS, etc.

mirmac1 said...

Sorry clueless, can't help you. I just think there was feeling of not penalizing those 11 schools that put together an application. Whether they will be "grandfathered" don't know, but expect so.

Anonymous said...

The Downtown Seattle Association is pushing the South Lake Union Downtown School hard. Amusing things to be learned by reading the DSA website, which I just did.

The Top News on the site is a push to have members write to the board and ask for a school.

The Top News on the site quotes one Andrea Miller from Queen Anne - who just happens to be the author of the Opinion piece the Seattle Times ran this week. Nice coordinated PR push.

The Top News on the site quotes TERRIBLE worries:

>>John Hay might be - wait for it - 105% oversubscribed for 2012-13. (Cry a river to parents in the NE who have been oversubscribed for 10 years.)

>>Bailey Gatzert (off Yesler in the CD) might be 116% over capacity in 2012-13. (So it makes abundant sense to relieve the overcrowding with a Bright New School in South Lake Union which is nowhere near Bailey Gatzert.)

The DSA lists a huge range of neighborhoods, including Capitol Hill, as part of 'downtown'. Then it breathlessly claims that Seattle's 'downtown is one of the few in the WHOLE U.S. lacking a downtown elementary or K8 school.' (So Capitol Hill is sometimes part of downtown and sometimes not? Because Capitol Hill has a lot of schools a lot closer to the kids than SLU would.) Oh, it claims Seattle Center as part of Downtown too, via the 'Uptown' neighborhood. (Center School, an SPS high school, is there. On prime property too.)The 'We Have No School' argument is weak. Very weak.

It also says a downtown school would benefit parents who work downtown. (Really? Because neighborhood schools enroll by residential address. Want to make the school an Option school? Then aside from a geozone setaside for very nearby residents, Downtownie access would be Luck of the Lottery.)

The DSA - much like the Seattle Chamber of Commerce - exists to benefit The Downtown. They, on behalf of the landowners and business people and developers) are doing major work lobbying for Downtown on the school issue.

Too bad they couldn't use that same gumption to advocate for All of Seattle's Students. Because in that case, this proposal wouldn't be getting the time of day in this BEX cycle.

A SLU is a gee-whiz nice-to-have. What we're talking about resolving on this BEX is "Dire, Unsafe, Unsanitary, Unworkable."

I don't want to see a penny going to SLU. Not for planning. Not for negotiating. Not for building. Talk to the taxpayers 'next time'.

"Astounded by the Hubris"

Anonymous said...

Wow! You can comment on the Downtown Association's article.


Anonymous said...

"Astounded by the Hubris" says:

I am reposting the post below my first one, because no one signed their name and doesn't that mean it will be deleted? However, the link associated with the comment goes to something posted on 10/1 by the DSA on its blog. The article I refer to was posted on 9/17. So the DSA has double stories on its front page. Can't get much pushy-er than that, can we? LOL.

So here goes the post after mine:

Anonymous said...
Wow! You can comment on the Downtown Association's article.


10/2/12 4:57 PM

Charlie Mas said...

I left a comment. It is awaiting moderation.

Anonymous said...

@Astounded by the Hubris:

Please add SNAPP to the list of parents waiting for their place in line for a school facility. You can call us a program or a school, I don't care. Just give us a permanent building and a trustworthy plan for a move in date.

South Lake Union school boosters can join the line. The back of the line. We have been waiting patiently for years and our patience is at an end. It truly is.

I hope the mayor's staff reads this blog. He lost my vote for pandering to the downtown developers. He lives in the NW part of the city. He should know the state of neighborhood unhappiness at SPS overcrowded and undermaintained buildings. Not to mention whole cohorts without a home.

Tired in the North End

Anonymous said...

There is another school meeting for the NE. This is an announcement from the Wedgwood Community Council.

"BACK TO SCHOOL IN NE SEATTE" Thursday, October 4th, 6-8PM
Eckstein Auditorium
For the first time (as far as we know), we've partnered with our neighbor, the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, to host a community meeting for both our neighborhoods. The topic of this meeting is on schools...one of our largest and greatest neighbors.

The meeting has two goals. First, it will give us an opportunity to hear from principals and others working on improving our local schools and how our schools and community can be stronger partners. The other goal of the meeting will be to provide the Seattle School District and oppotuntiy to discuss the upcoming BEX IV levy and hear from the community through a Q&A time at the end. We will be collecting questions during the first hour of the meeting for the School District, so be sure to get there early.

- ne parent

Anonymous said...

I for one and very glad the school board is voting on the revised MOU for Creative Approach Schools.

Yes - it will only be valid until next summer. But our parent and staff community collective spent 100s of volunteer hours putting our plan together and it would be great to get feedback and get a start on implementing the elements that are approved.

QAE Parent

Anonymous said...


Public School Parent

Anonymous said...

Tacoma coverage


Public School Parent

Noam said...

Holly has long been the agent of the downtown business folks and the "faceless cabal" of "Education experts" (sans anyone actually teaching kids) at the Mayor's office.

She is aligned with the charter folks and it would be extremely surprising for her to EVER to caught putting her agenda in writing.

Culture of lawlessness grows like rust.

Carol Simmons said...

At the Seattle School Retirees Association luncheon yesterday, Superintendent Banda stated that there are higher priorities for BEX II funds than the Downtown school, such as safety, security and the learning environment. He also stated that he is not a big proponent of Charter Schools. He was very well received by the luncheon guests. His sensitivity to their concerns and questions was evident in his responses. He was very approachable and much more ebullient than at the School Board meetings and I commented on this to him. There were two wonderful former School Board members present and they too thought he was impressive. I appreciated his remarks about leveling the playing field and the Race and Equity Policy Recommendations. He prefers the term data informed rather than data driven. He is meeting with the Native American community this Thurs. I do think his priority is the education of all students and not big business interests. President Green remarked in her introduction that he is our first "Bilingual" superintendent. He mentioned about the national search for a Special Education Director and for a Curriculum and Instruction Assistant Superintendent. It will be very interesting and extremely important to see who is selected for these positions. He mentioned that he did not mind if they had "battle scars" and that there had been 9 Special Ed Directors previously. I was very impressed with what he said and have not said that about a Superintendent since Forbes Bottomly....

Anonymous said...

HaHaHa...yes, feel free to entery your comments at the Downtown Seattle Association Blog entry regarding a "downtown" school. Just don't expect them published!

Sue in Zen Field

Charlie Mas said...

Gee. I guess my comment is still awaiting moderation.

Eileen said...

"President Green remarked in her introduction that he (Mr. Banda) is our first "Bilingual" superintendent."

WRONG! Mr. Manhas was bilingual.

Anonymous said...

Historic buildings - are additions allowed?

As Cedar Park elementary in the NE area has recently been classified as a historic structure I am hoping a knowledgeable architect or someone with experience with historic buildings has the answers to the following...

Can you make an addition to a Historic building?

And, are there restrictions on what can be placed near a historic building? The specific question, could portables be placed on the same grounds as a historic building?

With the severe overcrowding issues in the NE I would like to know the viable options with properties the District currently owns.

Thank you,

Charlie Mas said...

Yes. Additions are allowed to historic buildings. Think of the addition made to Pacific Medical Center.

And there have been historic buildings that were gutted so that only the facade was retained.

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely not an expert on this subject, but I've sat in on a couple of BEXIV work sessions. From what I understand, it is OK to add an addition to a landmarked building, but only if there is room for one. There are lot coverage restrictions for the building footprint, and the percentages of lot coverage vary, depending upon how many floors are in the building.