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Thursday, December 20, 2012

NE Middle School Options

Here is the Excel sheet for the options for the NE middle school situation.  My understanding is it is a combo of ideas from staff and FACMAC. 

During the Work Session the discussion went as follows:

- They were first discussing what appeared in the presentation and what FACMAC was recommending. FACMAC was recommending an Eckstein split - North and South Annexes.   Director Peaslee clarified that this was really a split and not a temporary annexation.  The answer was yes.

- There was also this discussion about Jane Addams and beefing up its middle school offerings to fill the school.   (They called this "mitigation.")  But, as Director DeBell pointed out, how long could that go on and how could the district afford it?  (And, if they did this for JA, why not all K-8s?)

- One interesting thing is how the district seems very committed to making sure that Eckstein North would have the same things as Eckstein South.  Phil Brockman spoke of the great music at Eckstein now and how they would have to find a "great" music teacher for Eckstein North.  Which is great but are we making sure ALL schools with music offerings have the same kind of attention?

- Director Carr pointed out that even if the district committed to mitigation to beef up JA's enrollment, wouldn't it go away?  The answer was yes.

- There was also input from staff about how unhappy people are with the situation at Eckstein.  Pegi McEvoy said the students couldn't make through the lunchlines.  Now, I have absolutely no doubt that is wildly true at Eckstein but there are MANY middle and high schools in this district with the same situation.  There has to be a better reason for change than that one.

- McEvoy also said annexing would be problematic because of CBA issues.  This gets cloudy in the later discussion as you can see.

- Both DeBell and Carr, towards the end, spoke up more forcefully.  Carr said they can't have schools with empty seats when others are overcrowded (speaking of JA).  DeBell also weighed in about not being able to have the same offerings for the 6-8 experience at a K-8 as for a comprehensive middle school.  It sounded like he was not going to make apologies for it (and he shouldn't).

One issue that needs absolute clarity to parents is that K-8s are a different animal than a comprehensive middle school.  And, that parents who make that K-8 choice need to understand that the issue of offerings - both in-school and after-school - will not change for them once they have a middle schooler.  That is how the district sees it and it is the trade-off for being in a K-8.

Is it fair or equitable?  Maybe not but no one gets all that they want.  Comprehensives get more because their tradeoff is much larger populations.  K-8s get a smaller and more homey school but, in return, less money because of fewer students (and the ability to pay for more).

- Then we got to the "new" pages and options for NE middle schools.  It came out of nowhere and, as you can see, that is one complicated Excel sheet.  Director DeBell said "we aren't going to debate this all tonight" but that scenario 5 looked good.  How he could determine that in a quick first look at the page, I don't know.

But let's walk through them:


Scenario 1 - divide Eckstein into a north and south annex.  This really does nothing for Hamilton.  And, I find it interesting that there is some perception that everyone in the far north is dying for their own Eckstein.  I suspect far north parents might have their own ideas of what a middle school for their kids should look like.

JA would move to John Marshall for 3 years under this plan and then into their new building in 2016-2017.

The down-the-road look says this option doesn't nothing for the future.  Nope.

Scenario 2 -  Jane Addams co-houses with a new comprehensive MS rolling out in 2013-2014.  Again does nothing for Hamilton.  It also would create a situation where JA would probably get middle school enhancements because of the new middle school and then see them gone when they move to their new building. 

In both Scenarios 1 and 2, JA would stay in one place until their new building was ready.

Down-the road, not really helping AND I see an uneasy co-existence between two schools in one building.  

Scenario 3 - Create a 6th grade academy for Hamilton and Eckstein students at John Marshall.  This appears to solve capacity issues for both schools and, of course, would be a 3-year commitment starting in 2014-2015.  Phil Brockman said that there is research to support such an academy (and I believe one exists over on Bainbridge). 

It doesn't state it but I assume JA would stay in place until their building was ready.  

I find this scenario interesting.  Down-the-road, it allows time for the district to actually CREATE the two new middle schools needed and could be an interesting experiment as long as sufficient offerings were available.  A good possible bridge. 

Scenario 4 - New roll-up of Wilson-Pacific middle school at John Marshall starting in 2014-2015.  This would solve capacity issues for both Eckstein and Hamilton but no numbers are available.  This would, of course, mean boundary changes.

JA would stay in place.

Seems like the most complicated in some ways with both boundary changes AND creating a new middle school.  And, you may end up with students who might need to change middle schools again once the new middle school and the new W-P are on-line.  Not fun for those students.

Scenario 5 - Boundary changes for 2013-2014 in which 6th graders/new students from Olympic Hills, Sacajawea, and Rogers would now be assigned to the new middle school at JA.

Laurelhurst 6th grade (now assigned to Hamilton) would go back to Eckstein as well as any new students to Eckstein.

JA AND Pinehurst would share John Marshall starting in 2014-2015.

It does NOT fully help issues at Hamilton.  In fact, I'm not sure they can be sure of the numbers.  My rough gauge is that Eckstein might be down about 250 students.  While that is much better, that there is not a great impact to Hamilton with Laurelhurst leaving is troubling.

Analysis
1) I get the feeling that for some Board members, this was NOT the first viewing of these ideas.  I felt the push was on for Scenario 5.
2) I appreciate trying to be sensitive to JA (and indeed the district should be given they created this school and should not try to shove it around).  However, where is that sensitivity to Sacajawea, Rogers and Olympic Hills?  It seems like south of 85th people are getting a better deal than to the north.  At the very least, the far north end parents should be able to create their own middle school and not be Eckstein Lite. 
3) What is very unclear (and not reflected) is how a new Wilson-Pacific middle school AND a new middle school at the JA building will impact the NW and NE.  Where are those numbers? 
4) I am not surprised to see Laurelhurst coming back into the Eckstein fold.  I could have seen that coming. 
5) What I find amusing is that Scenario 5 seemed to be popular with DeBell and Carr.  DeBell opined that attendance areas are the "backbone" of our system.  (While true, I pointed out that the greatness of the district is the variety of schools.  But when charters come in and take over buildings and populations, maybe that point will be clearer.)


DeBell said that they need to be respectful to JA but that they are likely to stay small without enhancements and that's how they can fit in the space at Pinehurst. 
6) Ah Pinehurst.  There is no future mentioned for that school and no likely space (except maybe to take over Cedar Park after OH's moves out).  This almost seems like a punt to me by the district as in "we'll keep them for a year and then decide."  My sympathies to your community.

NE parents, weigh in. What do you think?  Because now YOU have been offered options. 

As I said in the previous thread, the decisions have to be made in an incredibly short period of time and if the wrong one is chosen, it will have real and lasting ramifications. 

55 comments:

Benjamin Leis said...

1. The district needs to stop being passive-aggressive about Pinehurst. They should phase them out cleanly or give them a new home and not let them hang around dying due to FUD. Its hard to make sense of any plan involving them without knowing the end state. They should also make this decision as soon as possible so parents can make a decision about next year's enrollment knowing what's going to occur.

2. Who is going to rollup into Wilson Pacific, when is that going to happen and where are they going to do it? It seems like at least part of the NE is affected by this and its completely unmentioned.

3. Isn't John Marshall now over subscribed/ I've now seen it mentioned as a space for 6th graders from APP, maybe 6th graders from all of HIMS, maybe JA / Pinehurst, maybe JAMS. It seems like the district needs at least 2 of these groups to move and its just not that big. I think they really need one more interim space regardless of who moves where.


Ben

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ben, reread the scenarios, it's in there under #4 and #5.

That is yet ANOTHER wild card. Who goes where and is that a dogfight for those who want Eckstein? Frankly, I'd go for a new building and a new school because you can advocate more.

Yes, they do need more interim spaces but trouble is, most are filled. We now have just a couple in case of emergencies.

Anonymous said...

How does #2 differ from #5 -- am I being dense?

NEP

Melissa Westbrook said...

The difference between #2 and #5:

- the JA building would share JA K-8 AND the new comprehensive to eventually be in the building (unclear to me if just 6th graders to start or not).

That means boundary changes and far NE students would likely go to the new middle school, taking pressure off Eckstein.

- #5 would move JA K-8 out to John Marshall (with Pinehurst)

Then the new middle school would take the entire building. The boundaries would be redrawn and 6th graders from Rogers, OH and Sacajawea would go there (plus any new middle school students in 7th/8th grade).

Eckstein would lose those students but gain Laurelhurst 6th graders and any new 7th/8th graders to their school.

Jan said...

I am not a N/NE parent -- so I defer to everyone here who is. But. When I look at the spreadsheet, all I can see is that Option 3 looks SO sane and calm compared to everything else. It results in the least number of "red" seats (undercapacity) in the three middle schools -- in fact, only Hamilton shows any, and they show the same or fewer than in any other alternative. It doesn't require a second move for JA.

Assuming ALL Eckstein/HIMS 6th graders are there, it will include APP 6th graders, so that there will be ample math offerings for all 6th graders needing them.

Socially and developmentally, 6th graders always seem to be the "conundrum." Too "old" to be in elementary schools with 1st and 2nd graders, and too young to be with junior high kids. That is a gross oversimplification, I think, but there is some truth to it. If ever there is an age that benefits from being "with itself" rather than being lumped in with older/younger kids -- this might be it.

To me, the only real downsides are things like band/orchestra -- where currently the grades are highly mixed. And I think there could be solutions for that (by coordinating music and having the 6th grade "cohorts" join the 7th/8th bands for their evening concerts, or afterschool jazz programs where the 6th graders could participate in "their" school's programs.

To me, it makes so much sense I assume I must be missing something bad about it. Am I? Also, I don't understand, under #3 where Pinehurst goes, and when.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good catch, Jan. I assume that Pinehurst would stay put for next year under #3 but then what?

I also like #3 but have to wonder about this worry over music. I'm pretty sure the district will provide something and then they go onto the programs at their new middle school.

Again, if they are at John Marshall, there is every possibility of interaction with Roosevelt's jazz band. A huge plus.

It's not the end of the world for a couple of years if this is the best option.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, Eckstein is so much worse than you give it credit for. I walked the halls the other day to check it out- it's suffocating. I would never send my child there, though I moved to this area to send them to these schools. I don't know why the overcrowding is given such short shrift on this blog- did one of the Eckstein parents annoy you? It is significantly worse than other schools, especially in the area. It's really terrible there, and the Jane Addams Taj Mahal of space up the street is embarrassing in comparison. Eckstein parents have been promised for years that the district was "just about" to fix the overcrowding problem, send your kids, we'll fix it next year- enough. They have the means to deliver now- they should. It has never struck me as super hard to divide the elementaries- they should just add View Ridge to the list, and then done. VR extends up to parallel to JA anyway. No need for a dogfight. People are not that attached to the Eckstein building- they just want a decent comprehensive middle school to send their kids to.

The problem with option 3 is course offerings and program continuity. 1) 40% of APP students enter at the middle school level- which will just be another year of elementary for the kids already at APP, and a terrible transition for kids coming in from completing their elementary schools other places. There's also the higher level math issue- there are not enough 6th graders to command higher level math classes or music programs, but there are plenty between the 6-8 graders. It shafts the advanced 6th graders.

I think the district should just shut down Pinehurst, just give these people a chance to move on. It was a great program, but it can't work right now, no need to just let it limp along before starving it to death in 2014.

-tired of watching and waiting

Anonymous said...

@ tired, I disagree that option 3 means reduced access to higher level math, or that it means "another year of elementary" for APP students. If the entire cohort of incoming 6th graders moves, they should have access to most of the same courses still. At HIMS to date, 6th graders have generally not taken math with older grades--there were just multiple levels of math for sixth graders. In other subjects, APP students should still get their APP-level sixth grade science and LA/SS.

The biggest issues would likely be with music and languages, but with a combination of both HIMS and Eckstein sixth graders, it seems like there should be enough kids for a fairly robust program with multiple levels of band and orchestra--although the choir program may suffer from the split. Re: languages, they should be able to provide both beginning level AND immersion level, which would not have been the case with an APP only sixth grade option as proposed earlier.

All in all, I agree option 3 may be the best proposal of the bunch--provided the district actually makes a decision with plenty of time for planning and then actually carries through with the planning.

HIMSmom

biliruben said...

The district better start building the portable farms at John Rogers, Saq. and Olympic Hills. My family, and I'm guessing a very large portion of others at Jane Addams, are going to decline to go on this forced death march outlined in option 5, if that's what the decision ends up being.

I fail to see how, short-term, taking 600 kids and replacing them with , what?, 250 in the Jane Addams building helps anybody, except of course the lucky kids who are left at Eckstein.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I have some questions about Scenario 3 - the 6th grade academy.

You said that under the current proposal it "would be a 3-year commitment starting in 2014-2015." Does this mean it wouldn't start until Fall 2014? If so, was there discussion about what happens in 2013-14?

Also, any idea if the academy would be structured more like a middle school, with periods and different teachers, or rather like an extension of elementary school, as tired suggested?

Peeling the onion

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tired, I never said the situation at Eckstein wasn't dire. Ever. I know it is and I know because it was crowded when my sons were there and it's EVEN more crowded now. The issue of "everyone can't make through the lunch line" is true in a lot of places and that was my point.

I don't get your point of how new APP students coming in at 6th grade would be worse off at an academy than the actual middle school itself.

The academy idea grows on me because it is NOT creating a long-term school but a short-term one. Let the planning for a real school take its time and they get that one right.

Anonymous said...

The 6th grade "academy" (you can't call it a school) is yet another short term solution, which is exactly why I think it's a poor choice. It's a lot of disruption for one year. I don't have faith that the district could do it well. Where do they go the year after? We don't really know, do we?

Are there going to be splits and redrawing of lines which guarantee yet another transition, with loss of friendships, etc? I wish they could quit piddling around and make a plan that gets them through their middle school years without another transition.

-parent of a 5th grader that's already attended 3 different schools

Anonymous said...

I'm a future View Ridge parent, and to me it makes sense that it would feed to JAMS. I would have no issue with that at all. Granted I'm several years out but I am not married to Eckstein at all.
-VR 2014

Anonymous said...

Future VR parent -

I'm a current VRE parent and a current Eckstein parent and while your kid/s are years away from middle school, it makes sense for you to have a different opinion.

My 6th grader walks home every day. My husband drops her off every morning (it's a straight shot of 75th). The close proximity is one of the reasons we chose Eckstein over Jane Addams. I'd have a big issue with having to get my middles schooler up even earlier than the current 6:30 am time, to catch a bus that drives past a school .85 miles from our house.

And to those who commented it is a mess, it is way over crowded and desperately needs relief before the larger sized grades enter, BUT I've been very happy with the staff and my 6th graders education thus far.

Parent of kids at 2 way overcrowded schools

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent of 5th grader - it would be a temporary school for about 3 years (unless it was some overwhelming success). That's it.

It does not involved the district trying create a new middle school on the fly (recipe for disaster). A one-grade academy? That they can handle.

My husband and I have raised two sons and put them through SPS. It is important to give them consistency and continuity. BUT life does throw curve balls and you cannot protect them from all of them. Friendships do change and I can tell you that the ability to add NEW friends is a good thing. (My son has friends from first grade and friends he made new in high school. It's a good thing.)

Also, those 6th graders will meet up - together - for 7th and 8th grade at their feeder middle school.

Anonymous said...

Peeling at 8:00am asked:

"You said that under the current proposal it "would be a 3-year commitment starting in 2014-2015." Does this mean it wouldn't start until Fall 2014? If so, was there discussion about what happens in 2013-14?"

Does anyone know the answer?

Curious

former eckstein parent said...

I have to laugh as I remember the years of NSAP meetings where the main reason for changing the assignment plan was to give families predictability.

I agree that the 6th grade academy would work. Not ideal, but not terrible either. And it seems a little more fair than the other options.

I have sent 2 kids through eckstein. At eckstein, 6th graders are treated differently. They are 'eased' into middle school. They are taught self-advocacy, note-taking, organizational skills, etc. Many 6th graders are very young developmentally compared to 8th graders. I see an advantage to having the whole program focused on helping kids with that transition.

I also think that there will be the opportunity to offer advanced classes with that many 6th graders, especially if it includes APP & Spectrum. Also those advanced classes will not address the top performing kids just like they don't now. 3 levels of orchestra or 3 years of foreign language or 3 years of high school math still leave some kids participating in those classes for the social experience rather than to be challenged. Having elective choices at a comprehensive middle school does not mean that you get your choices or that the choices available are appropriate for you.

fyi 5th grade parents, sometimes you will find your child having to choose between an appropriate level of math & an appropriate level of music or foreign language, etc. Not every class is available every period & sometimes there are too many kids to allow them all to take a certain class.

Anonymous said...

That's it. 3 years is a child's entire middle school span.

So, three years worth of middle schoolers would go to the combined "academy" for 6th grade (Eckstein+Hamilton?), then transition to their neighborhood/assigned school for 7th/8th? The 6th grade would "split" for 7th/8th? For one cohort, isn't it possible they could attend the academy, transition to their neighborhood school for one year, then be transferred to another school after boundary redraws? Three buildings in three years.

You also have the issue of having siblings at two different buildings, starting at the same time, and not by choice.

-not buying into it

K said...

As a teacher at Eckstein and a parent whose children will go here, I would vote for changing the boundaries.

It's not the best option, but none of them are perfect.

A 6th grade academy would be my second choice, but because it offers such a short-term solution it's not my first choice. What the 6th grade academy will be, or how great it could be, is up to the families and the staff. It could be an amazing opportunity. On the other hand, transitions are hard for kids. Transitioning to a new school and then transitioning again is disruptive and disorienting.

Redrawing the boundaries eases the press on Hamilton and allows Laurelhurst families a closer school. I can't imagine crossing town east to west to get my child to school. It's silly to have extra capacity in the farthest northeast corner.

The disruptive thing about boundary changing is that Eckstein is doing a beautiful job of adapting to meet the needs of the kids who are coming to us from the Lake City area. If we move to scoop up Laurelhurst we have to shift back again. It sounds easy, but it's not all that easy. Parents will need to really communicate and work with the school to make the reorganization a smooth one.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I had that wrong - the 6th grade Academy WOULD start in 2013-2014. I'll correct that. (I think I was tired because it's right in front of me.)

Former, thanks for those insights.

Anonymous said...

Also, I would add that a split Eckstein is the WORST idea.

First, it's insulting to the independent school that could or should exist to meet capacity. Melissa's right, an Eckstein Lite is a less-than.

As a parent who endured the district's fiasco of boundary changes and split-siblings, I would suggest the district guarantee that younger siblings of current Eckstein students be given seats at Eckstein.

K

dw said...

HIMSmom said: "At HIMS to date, 6th graders have generally not taken math with older grades--there were just multiple levels of math for sixth graders. "

Not true (anymore). This year there are many (maybe 25?) 6th graders taking Algebra at HIMS. They are spread out among, I believe, at least 4 classes, and all of them are multi-grade classes. They can't all be in one section because scheduling doesn't permit it (think band/orchestra levels, language). This would be difficult, if not impossible, in a "6th grade academy", there just aren't enough kids to make it work.

I agree that instrumental music would also be tough, though after thinking about it more, if the HIMS contingent includes all of APP (my assumption, can anyone verify this?), the Eckstein/APP kids alone would have a lot of musicians.

Not excited about any of these options, but at this point it's more a matter of which is the least terrible.

Anonymous said...

In previous documents, plans were shown that would have future Wilson-Pacific middle schoolers attending John Marshall as an interim location.

Any thoughts about where they will go now?

whittier 07

Melissa Westbrook said...

K,you open quite the kettle of fish with that request BUT I think it valid. Question is, would it be possible?

Between Eckstein and Hamilton, I'd better there would be enough kids to front an advanced math class. And music? Again, a smaller group but between Eckstein and Hamilton, they'd have enough for music.

Melissa Westbrook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Whittier, it looks like there is only Scenario 4 that would start a roll-up of Wilson-Pacific.

In Scenario 5, it has them in John Marshall starting in 2016-2017.

5th grade parent said...

Melissa,
Just last month at a presentation at Sacajawea Elementary, Sherry Carr reported there would be NO changes for the 2013 class of 6th graders. Any idea why this has suddenly changed? Such a short timeline to implement so many complex programs.

Anonymous said...

I am a parent of a 5th grader in the NE part of the Eckstein attendance area who would be assigned to the new JAMS if it is really up and running in September. I am honestly pretty stressed at the idea that a new MS would be created from scratch in that short of time. I have heard that the 6th graders from JRogers, Sac, and Olympic Hills could amount to as few as 120 kids. In scenario 5, you are taking those kids out of Eckstein, but also adding back in 6th graders from Laurelhurst. That must be 50-60 kids or so (totally guessing on this). So your net improvement to Eckstein capacity is maybe 60-70 kids. And 50-60 kids out of Hamilton. This does so little to solve the capacity problem and at such high cost to those 120 kids that I can't even believe it is being suggested. Does anyone really think they can get an equitable middle school up and running by September? Not to mention the situation of having to share the building with JAK-8. Sorry, but given the demographics of the far north families you are talking about, option 5 sounds like flat out economic discrimination in my mind.

NBN

Anonymous said...

I think you could open a dynamite middle school in that amount of time if there is funding to get input from the JR, Sac., and Oly Hills staff as well as early hiring of the new middle school staff. There is a lot of opportunity when you build a school.
I know 60 kids doesn't seem like a lot, but it is two classrooms. Right now, Eckstein doesn't have any extra classrooms. Having two open up would really help. We have 13 classrooms that are portables or old fashioned module classrooms with paper walls. How many more can be hauled in and put up?
None of the options are perfect, but at this point something needs to be done. Eckstein should not be as big as it is, and we need to make an investment, even if it's a rush order, on a long term solution.
K

Anonymous said...

@Kristin, I think there's an equally valid argument to be made that a 6th grade academy would actually ease the transition to middle school. Rather than starting at a big place with a lot of older kids when you don't really know many, by the time you transitioned to the "real" MS you'd know a lot of your fellow 6th graders going in. On that note, I was thinking that while it's a nice idea to have the HIMS and Eckstein kids mix a bit, there might also be some value to trying to keep certain classes future-school dependent to help promote a smooth transition. APP kids would naturally have that already (for the core APP classes), but it would need to be more intentional for the others if a priority.

@dw, thanks for correcting me on the changes in HIMS math this year- I meant to include that but forgot.
I don't know how feasible it is, but I imagine there's a chance the current scheduling constraints that necessitate spreading 6th grade Algebra students over multiple mixed-grade classes could be minimized in a 6th grade academy. Since the range of courses would likely be reduced (e.g., a slightly smaller # of band/music options?), and with no conflicting 7th-8th grade class scheduling to work around, it seems like if there were two sections of Alg I they could find one that worked for anyone qualifying.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Don't forget there are lots of kids at places like Laurelhurst and in Spectrum that live in the new JAMS area... it would be way more than 60 kids.

hitting middle school in '14

Anonymous said...

Don't forget there are lots of kids at places like Laurelhurst and in Spectrum that live in the new JAMS area... it would be way more than 60 kids.

hitting middle school in '14

Melissa Westbrook said...

5th grade parent, short answer - pressure. Hundreds of e-mails and phone calls to the Board.

This is fine, this is what parents should do.

BUT

the Board has to consider ALL the ramifications, ALL the region and look down the road.

We hire a superintendent and elect a Board for their leadership. They have hard decisions to make and my hope is that they decide on one, give the best explanation for their decision and enact it (without wavering or waffling).

Yes, it would be more than 60 kids (more like 200 by my quick count).

On that note, I was thinking that while it's a nice idea to have the "HIMS and Eckstein kids mix a bit, there might also be some value to trying to keep certain classes future-school dependent to help promote a smooth transition."

It's one year. Are you seriously that worried over your kids mixing with other kids from another school for one year? That if they don't have all their classes with kids from their-then middle school, it will hurt their social life in the future?

I'm teasing at some level but really folks, it'll be okay.

Anonymous said...

@Melissa

According to the spreadsheet I have in front of me, the 6th grade annex would open in John Marshall in 2014-15, and run through 2016-17.

I like the 6th grade annex scenario (scenario 3), but my only concern would be that it would be a very crowded annex. The John Marshall building has a stated capacity (with portables) of 940. The max enrollment projection for the annex is higher than that for 2016-17 (1002 kids).

I think that maybe combining scenario 2 (expanded JA K8 middle school to attract more students) with scenario 3 (6th grade annex) might work?

-JR Mom

NW Mom said...

If the new 6th grade Acadamy happens as a solution, does that mean that the APP Program will basically transition out of Hamilton - possibly (likely) for good? How might that affect the remaining APP kids at Hamilton (the current 6th and 7th graders) - seems like it would or could weaken the program, there might be teacher attrition, how might that impact transportation to Hamilton, etc. Other impact that I might not have thought of?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I think you have a different read on some parent concerns and are making light of the importance of friendships and some level of stability in middle school. Frankly, your response is patronizing. It's not the mixing that's the issue with a 6th grade academy, it's the leaving after one year. 6th grade is a transition year, and having it as a one year isolated "academy," 7th grade becomes a transition year as well.

parent

Anonymous said...

Melissa, a careful read of my prior post should make it clear that no, I am not seriously worried about about HIMS and Eckstein students mixing, and I don't think I gave any indication I was freaking out about it. On the contrary, I was clearly trying to address someone else's concerns about transition issues. No need for the totally off-base snark. Seriously.

And parent, thanks for having my back! :)

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Scenario 5 has got to be the most absolutely horrible way to implement a new middle school:

1) Next year, 2013, north-end middle school students will be forcibly assigned to a building housing a K-8 program, and they are calling it "comprehensive." Oh, and this co-location results in a building that is 170 students over-capacity - that's not a whole lot better than Eckstein - and about 400 of the kids in the co-location are elementary kids, so large sections of the building will be off-limits to middle school kids.

2) The following year, the K-8 is removed to an interim site, and a roll-up middle school started. I've said this before...a "roll-up comprehensive middle school" is an oxymoron. Where will the support come from for "new students" who may arrive in 8th grade, or advanced learners?

I thought Scenario 1 was bad enough -cleaving kids out of their middle school at all grades and calling it an "annex" of the real school. Planning and implementing a "comprehensive" annex in less than 1 year strikes me as highly improbable.

Scenario 5 is just plain twisted. It's as if someone sat down and came up with the worst possible middle school scenario for the kids in the north-end attendance area schools and the worst possible scenario for the K8 (co-location followed by interim relocation), and combined them into the extraordinarily vile "scenario 5."

I completely understand the need for a middle school in the Jane Addams building. I think there will be strong community support for a JAMS that is implemented in a well-planned, well-executed manner, with ample community input.

Scenarios 1 and 5 are absolutely unacceptable implementation schemes for JAMS. Are they trying to manage capacity via Shoreline out-migration?

-North End Mom

jujubee said...

I must say, I *really* like option 3, with the Hamilton/Eckstein 6th grade academy. I am a parent of an APP 5th grader at Lincoln living in the Eckstein attendance area (but I know I may be in the minority in my school community in this preference), so my child would take part in the 6th grade academy if it were to happen.

Why do I like it? First and foremost, it "spreads out" the burden/inconvenience/changes -- no one school or program is singled out to bear the burden of capacity "management". Plus, I see some real potential advantages, many of which have already been noted by others. In one fell swoop, this option alleviates crowding at both Hamilton and Eckstein, creating some much needed breathing room at both schools. It gives the district time to plan for the new middle school(s) that will be in place in several years, rather than throwing something together for next fall. It would give the 6th graders the larger group experience that many of them are ready/yearning for without the influences of the 7th and 8th graders, and so could be a nice transition, as someone else said.

Is it an ideal solution? No, of course not. Like everyone else, I would rather my child go to Hamilton like we expected would happen. But the reality is that all of the middle schools are crowded and something has to give. I see the 6th grade academy as a creative way to spread the sacrifice and maybe do some good.

-jujubee

Anonymous said...

In order for the 6th grade only "academy" option to work, every special education program in both Hamilton and Eckstein will need to be replicated at a 6th grade academy. All of the middle school special ed programs are 6-8. Students with disabilities are entitled to LRE and time with general ed peers as outlined on their IEPs. This is a federal requirement under IDEA. Will the district spring for that? I doubt they know about it.

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

@Melissa

You wrote:
"Scenario 2 - Jane Addams co-houses with a new comprehensive MS rolling out in 2013-2014."

This is not an accurate description of Scenario 2. Scenario 2, from what I heard at the work session, is what they are called a "pull" model, where they commit to comprehensive-level programming in order to attract new middle school students to the Jane Addams K-8, during the interim period only. It is not a co-location scenario. It is a mushroom K8 scenario, and the K8 would remain an option program.

Staff seemed concerned about this scenario, because they could only guess how many kids would choose the K-8 over Eckstein, so it makes it difficult to plan for enrollment/capacity.

Staff seemed more comfortable with Scenario 5, which assigns middle school kids to the K-8 in a co-location "push" model, even though it assigns kids to a non-standard middle school delivery model.

I personally think that pulling families into a K-8 is much better than pushing them into one.

You are correct that this scenario, alone, does not help Hamilton.

-Kim

Anonymous said...

I would hazard to guess that those in favor of a 6th grade academy do not yet have a child in middle school or have no worries about siblings being split in middle school. Our opinions are certainly colored by how each scenario would impact us personally.

My larger concern is not knowing what happens after that 6th grade year. Where would they go next? Would their next school continue the sequence of classes they began in terms of language, etc? As a simple example, Eckstein offers French and Hamilton doesn't. What will be offered at the "academy?"

Unknown said...

I am never surprised at the reactions from some people who feel that if their kids don't stick together K-12, they will be damaged in some way. (This is one of the reasons that Roosevelt can be such a clique school.)

I said I was teasing but apparently that got missed in the "I've got your back". It's a discussion, not a fight.

I can hardly wait to see what the dogfight of who gets assigned to Roosevelt versus Lincoln will look like.

Former eckstein parent said...

It is convenient to have your kids together in the same school. But if your kids are 2 years apart & you go through elementary, middle & high school, you can expect they will be 'split' for 8 of your 14 years in k-12 schools. My kids were together for just 3 of their years in school due to their ages. Often they had the same schedule at different schools.

I think it is unrealistic to expect siblings to always be in the same school. As they get to middle & high school & start taking metro or driving, the transportation does get easier. Then they have different after school commitments too.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, it's hard to see how ridiculing something a poster said--or didnt say, in this case--then qualifying it that you are "somewhat" teasing, promotes community discussion. As a fairly new poster here, it certainly does not make one feel welcome. Funny thing is, we were essentially in agreement on the issue.

Confused but ready to move on,
HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Anyone who feels that the recommended scenario (assigning NNE kids to a K-8 for middle school) would be both inequitable and ineffective at reducing capacity issues should write to the school board and tell them this choice is unacceptable. They need to hear from us loud and clear.

- Tell the School Board

jujubee said...

I would genuinely like to be educated about the problem of having middle school siblings split between two schools (if a 6th grade academy would be created). Is it a problem because of transportation? Presumably at least one child would qualify for yellow bus transportation (so a parent dropping off wouldn’t have to drop off at both schools at the same time). Is it because your family resources (time, contributions, events) would be split? This is certainly unfortunate, but, in my opinion, seems more like an inconvenience. Please tell me what I haven’t considered? I’m not being snarky here, I really would like to know.

The academic concerns that have been raised regarding a 6th grade academy (language offerings, special ed availability, continuing subjects in subsequent years) are very valid, and I would hope that the classes/teachers/offerings would be thoroughly planned (I know, maybe I’m being naïve). Maybe these challenges are insurmountable. I don’t know.

What I do know is that someone (or rather, some group) will have to make a sacrifice –move to a new/interim location – in order to create more middle school capacity for everyone. I’ll repeat what I said in my earlier post: the 6th grade academy option allows for a group to make, in my opinion, a small and short-term sacrifice for a BIG payoff – more middle school capacity at the schools where it’s needed NOW.

Unknown said...

Don't ask Jujubee. I'm sure you'll be told you are being snarky anyway.

And no, you are not being naive. Thanks for that big picture view that others seem to miss.

Anonymous said...

But, there's no guarantee that it's just a one year gig. Boundaries will be redrawn at some point, which means another shuffle, and most likely before those same 6th grade "academy" students move on to high school.

Anonymous said...

Boundary redraws are coming for the 2014 school year. That has been discussed at quite a few work sessions, as if it were the plan. Much of the conversation at the work session on this included lots of references to how option 5 was more in line with boundary redraws than the other options. I think that is the primary reason why the 6th grade academy wasn't given serious consideration by the board but rather this reassignment option was the favorite.

So boundary work, similar to the work done before the NSAP, will likely starts sometime after the beginning of the 2013 school year. I imagine a 6th grade academy may begin to seem benign compared to all the folks that will be drawn out of Hamilton and Eckstein in a year.

So yes, there will be more split siblings and lots more surprise re-assignments. Welcome to the new normal everyone.

I suppose with 5,000 new students in the last 5 years, change is coming, even is that is not so pleasant.

On the plus side, after next year it won't be the NSAP, but just the SAP.

- north seattle mom

jujubee said...

Anon @ 8:45p, could you clarify your statement (“But, there's no guarantee that it's just a one year gig. Boundaries will be redrawn at some point, which means another shuffle, and most likely before those same 6th grade "academy" students move on to high school.”)?

My understanding of the proposed 6th grade academy is that it would, by definition, only have 6th graders, who would then move on to their assigned middle school for 7th and 8th grade. Am I right? So for 6th grade students, it would be a “one year gig.” However, the academy would enroll 6th graders for 3 consecutive years (2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17). So in that sense, you’re right, the academy would be around for several years.

In writing this, I realized that the 6th grade academy is not being considered for the 2013-14 school year. That’s too bad. I was (obviously) really excited about it as a possibility for next year.

-jujubee

Anonymous said...

If I'm reading the spreadsheet correctly, it looks like the new NE elementary school (built on the Thornton Creek fields?) will start rolling up at Lincoln, beginning 2014-15. I have no idea what that attendance area will look like, but I'm guessing it will probably take a big chunk of what is now View Ridge and Wedgwood's attendance area.

If either Scenario #1 (Ecstein-North Annex@ JA) or Scenario #5 (Boundary-change option in 2013-14) are chosen, JAMS opens by 2014-15.

Does anyone know what the middle school feeder plans are for the new NE School @ Thornton Creek? Is there any possibility that the new NE School would feed into JAMS and not Eckstein?

If the new NE school feeds into JAMS, would that mean that some kids living in View Ridge and Wedgwood (within the boundaries for the new NE school) would be assigned to JAMS beginning in 2014-15, and not to Eckstein?

Was this discussed at all at the work session?

NE Mama

Anonymous said...

6th grade Academy? That is the worst of the worst. Thank goodness the District veered away from that one. This is not a District known for its finesse of implementation. Anyone who thinks that a 6th grade academy is a good idea perhaps has not given thought to what it would actually be like inside of that entity. Perhaps they have, and determined that it would be the lesser of two evils, but, this academy, or any other, would just be a short-term temporary slap-dash orphan as a way to cope with the implementation of another school, and really, given the District’s track record with keeping promises, and given their budget woes, do you really, truly believe that whatever promises would be made with regards to the temporary academy would actually be kept? Do you really think that the District would go whole-hog and pile in the investment in a temporary ghetto? A make-shift community, that would have an expiration date stamped on its genesis papers? What kind of teacher would commit to this kind of temporary ‘pop-up’ gallery school? Without a principal, without a future, without a stable community? You’d never get the highly prized experienced ‘star’ vets signing up for this kind of gig. You’d get 100% pure newbies, is my bet. Possible TFAers. And, with the flat single grade, the richness of offerings would fall flat too. Plus, I haven’t even addressed the social-emotional ramifications of this ghetto pit-stop year. It would give new meaning to the word ‘churn’ (teachers, kids, friendships, community, location). In short, a new low. I believe that a community makes a school, and this or any other academy would be a community-less school, just a weigh-station on the way to a school. Such a lot of effort for such a transitory shelter.

Academy? More like a holding pen. And for what purpose? To avoid implementing Jane Addams Middle School – because the K8 that is interimly housed in that building doesn’t want to leave? Shouldn’t the interim community be housed in the interim facility while they await their building, like the other interim options, APP@Lincoln and STEM K5@Boren? This is issue is bigger than just Eckstein, this is about Meany and Lincoln too!! Before you all pile on and demand a 6th grade academy, think, do you want your future Ballard and Roosevelt 9th graders dumped into a 9th grade academy while the District is figuring out how to implement a high school?? Because I guarantee you, that is what happens next.

This District does not purvey single grade academies. Let’s keep it that way. Because if they do it once, you can bet they will do it again. And again. And, yet again. Chaos will reign. Think about it. An academy is a way for the District to delay implementing the real, long-term solution. This District should never ever be given a tool like that to add to their tool box. Never ever. Besides, the Marshall building won’t be big enough to be a 6th grade academy for more than 2 years according to their own numbers. But, the biggest problem is that it is simply the wrong solution to that problem. The problem is that we have 10 K5s feeding to one comprehensive middle school (Eckstein), when, there is a second comprehensive middle school building already built and under-utilized (Addams). It is a red herring to suggest that there are too many issues moving the K8 to temporary housing elsewhere, that some of those students may end up back at their attendance area K5s, which will result in those schools being over-utilized. That may happen, but, if it does, it does. That is simply a symptom of the broad, more important disease: there simply are not enough seats, not enough middle, and, not enough elementary. Which is why I am voting ‘yes’ to BEX, to help all students everywhere, in West, central and north Seattle.

-academy bad!

Anonymous said...

@academy bad

you wrote:
"This District does not purvey single grade academies."

Well, the District doesn't currently assign middle school kids to option K-8 schools, nor have they established grade 6-8 "annexes," but evidently that doesn't stop them from proposing such "scenarios."

So,, I'm curious...in your kick out the K-8 and implement JAMS ASAP suggestion...where do you propose to interim-house Jane Addams K-8 and Pinehurst K-8? The John Marshall building?

Scenarios #1 and #5 both have the K-8s in John Marshall. Neither of these scenarios adequately address Hamilton over-crowding.

It's more than just Eckstein that needs relief. Hamilton is exploding, and there is no room to add portables there.

As to your assumption that the 6th grade academy would have inferior staffing, why wouldn't a 6th grade academy for Eckstein and Hamilton be staffed by the Eckstein and Hamilton 6th grade teachers?

We have one interim site (John Marshall) and 2 new middle schools to implement by 2017 (JAMS and W-P MS). The 6th grade annex isn't ideal, but at least it treats all Eckstein and Hamilton (and future JAMS and W-PMS)students equally.

Elementary capacity in the north-end has to be considered in this planning process. If both Pinehurst K-8 and Jane Addams K-8 are moved out of the north-end in to the John Marshall building, there will be a loss of about 550 elementary seats and 4 kindergarten classrooms in the greater Lake City area.

Olympic Hills, John Rogers, and Olympic View are already over-capacity and taking extra kindergarten classes, and growth is expected to continue. These schools will be crowded enough until BEXIV projects come on line. Losing the local option seats would make a bad situation much worse.

I want JAMS to be a success. I don't see that happening with a hastily put together "annex" or by forced assignment to a K-8. The 6th grade academy allows time to plan for a real middle school. North-end kids deserve a real middle school.

-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

This whole debacle is ridiculous. We are a rich city in a rich country rearranging deck chairs because we can't do something that people across the world have done for centuries: build enough schools for the number of children we have. Why are we fighting among ourselves as opposed to picketing Olympia, petitioning the federal government, screaming at Bezos et al. To pay their fair share.

--Perspective