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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Board Votes to NOT Open New JA Middle School Next Year

If I had to say, it seems that Director McLaren was the swing vote.  It came down to equity even as Director Martin-Morris tried to say that equity was only about school quality.  It's also about how you treat parents and students as you move in that direction.  I'm surprised he doesn't see this.

DeBell spoke out someone angrily about the vote saying the Board lacked courage.  He said public expected clear and decisive action when there is an obvious problem.

This is somewhat unusual to have directors debate a vote AFTER the vote.

McLaren also said she believed in clear and decisive action "seize the bull by the horns" when it needs to be done.  This was a difficult decision, she stated.  "But I strongly believe we are signaling our purpose as a district to put the needs of our most challenged students and families first as we go forward."

Laurelhurst will now go to Eckstein instead of Hamilton.

Carr, I want to put a big "checkmark" next to what DeBell said.  Message to Board and management team is that you need to do something.  She said that 3 out of the 4 directors north of the ship canal wanted this.  (I get that but DeBell is NOT in the NE; Martin-Morris, Peaslee and Carr are.)  As well, directors are responsible in their votes for the ENTIRE district.

Smith-Blum really gave some very statesman-like remarks.  She thanked all who sent her e-mails and thanked the staff.

I get the feeling a lot of these remarks are directed at those not in the room.  I'm sure the yes votes are going to get an earful from some parents and, of course, the powers that be.

156 comments:

Anonymous said...

Setting the actual vote aside for the moment, Martin-Morris's comments were the exact reason that he is my least-favorite board member. He is a minority. He certainly should not vote solely through a minority lens but he darn tootin better at least acknowledge the challenges that ethnic minorities as well as those with low incomes have in our system. He should be sensitive to the issue. And yet he contines to be second only to DeBell in tone deafness to equity in quality programming. His take on the NorthNorthEast was: schools should reflect their communities. So the NorthNortheast is more disadvantaged than my district. Whatever. We'll just cram a school through and promise quality. ATTENTION MARTIN-MORRIS: IT DOES NOT WORK. NOT WITH COMMUNITIES LACKING RESOURCES. And it certainly doesn't work with a district like SPS that has a rotten planning track record.

So it is not his vote...no it is his failure to even recognize the issue...that I find so offensive.

If he ever wants to represent the minority community on this or that poohbah board, I hope someone takes the video of the meeting and plays it for the nomination group. Then I hope someone nominates McClaren in his place instead. And plays her portion of tonight's comments. She doesn't live in the affected area. She doesn't have a pony in this race. But boy does she "get" it.

Disgusted and Done

Anonymous said...

I just sent out my thank you email to Director Peaslee and to those who voted yes. At least we have some time to think about what we want to do about this, and we will be looking at the Jane Addams K-8 program.

Lake City Parent

mirmac1 said...

Thanks to Director McLaren for not allowing the bullying tactics of the minority coalition to sway her from her thoughtful position. She has seen how inept preparation for a new school (K-5 STEM) leads to lots of hurt families. They are the ones who suffer most directly.

I believe the (formerly) powerful group of board members and privileged interests made this a test case of their power to influence post-Enfield/DeBell era.

Hurray for the triumph of the TRUE silent majority. Those whose interests are usually subjugated to those of a powerful few.

Disgusted and Done, I absolutely agree with you. Except I would not attribute DeBell's tactics to tone deafness. He has a agenda that he will hew to come hell or high water, as long as it fits his model of the universe uber alles.

(I recall the irony of DeBell's campaign for the "quiet majority" to keep his BFF Enfield in place. What a farce!)

Anonymous said...

Methinks DeBell doth protest too much. He wanted clear and decisive action? Me too. Four years ago when the need for a new middle school was indisputable. Who were the veterans on the board at that time? Er, why...DeBell! And Carr! And Martin-Morris!

DeBell's now the better part of a decade too late by his own clock for taking decisive action.

And the decisive action he wanted tonight was very questionable in its merit. In addition to being clear as mud thanks to the nondecisive action of district staff. Did anyone watch Paperman and co. trying to talk through the financials? It was rubbish. The whole exercise of analysis was a house of cards no matter what solution folks favored. An unexpected $1 million out of the general fund for a new kitchen at JA next year. What a load!

But in the world of Corporate Business...which is the world of DeBell and Carr and Martin-Morris one Must Take Action...(because you can always parachute out before the consequences hit the fan.)

DistrictWatcher

Benjamin Leis said...

I sincerely hope, the district starts planning for 2014-15 right now instead of waiting another year to do this again on short notice. Although this time I agree with the vote, we can't defer forever and the only chance of a successful rollout is some real planning. Ideally the board would just have a followup vote in the next few weeks.

Ben

Anonymous said...

This was absolutely the triumph of the powerful few. The JA k-8 community screwed over two thousand middle school students out of a decent education for another year so they could have exactly the facilities they want just the way they want them. Great job, guys.

Overdone

Anonymous said...

@ Overdone: When the leadership of the Seattle Council PTA, the high-net-worth schools, the leadership of FACMAC, and the most outspoken parents with the most active email lists all live and socialize in one geographic area and are advocating for (no surprise) their own community, (hint, not the area up by 130th) tonight's vote can hardly be seen as The Triumph of a Powerful Few. The area doesn't have any historical power. It doesn't pass the straight face test.

But if you want to argue over the wisdom of the decision itself, go for it. Good people throughout the area will disagree, no doubt.

North of 85th

Anonymous said...

It's a politically diffuse and large geographic area of politically unpopular people vs. a small, vocal k-8, of whom all the vocal few I saw at meetings are pretty privileged looking white people.

Not buying the pity story. This is a straight win of back room politics. The powerful few get what they need, everybody else be damned.

-overdone

Anonymous said...

@Overdone

You must be new around here. If you think the community around 130th has more political capital in SPS than the Bryant and View Ridge and Laurelhurst communities, I've got a nice market value house in Vegas to sell you.

Consider - just maybe - that there were compelling arguments for both courses of action, but that yours wasn't chosen this time. To pin it on backroom politics by Lake Cityites means you are making zero points for your perspective. Because people are laughing.

North of 85th

mirmac1 said...

Yes, that IS amusing.

Attending the many board meetings that I do, it is quite apparent those speakers who say "it's not fair my kid can't go to JSIS" or "let those other kids go somewhere else, Eckstein's halls are crowded!" versus the beat-down, kicked to curb families. Flame me if you like, but I believe in giving voice to those that have none.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Ideally the board would just have a followup vote in the next few weeks."

Ben, not sure what vote you are talking about.

"This was absolutely the triumph of the powerful few."

What?! The parents at JA K-8 are powerful as compared to those at Eckstein? Nope. I think it more the triumph of listening over being reactive.

Anonymous said...

Consider that you are not actually as sad and downtrodden as you think you are, and in fact your myopic focus on your desires and dislike of other people(who are NOT that different from you) has allowed your community to push so hard for itself that you have created further gross inequities. Those communities are not nearly as powerful as you say they are, though I can see that you want that to be true because then you can do anything you want to them- literally pushing your neighbor's children out into the streets for classes while you keep choir rooms- and say "well, they are privileged, so they deserve it." I've been so immersed in this I know the numbers by heart. This is nothing but stinky political dealings. This is absolutely not a "just" outcome.

-overdone

Anonymous said...

And, yes, JA k-8 is wildly powerful compared to Eckstein. It's a small, vocal group, compared to a large, diffuse one, focused around geographic boundaries rather than an opt-in choice school. Those create radically different political communities.

-overdone

Melissa Westbrook said...

Overdone, bitter just a little?

C'mon, "we're going to push what we want to hurt those 'privileged' kids?" No.

And yes, they ARE powerful; I've seen that with my own eyes. I've also seen very hard-working people who created a great middle school.

Funny but I told the Board that I thought the staff's new rec was all politics and now others think the vote was all politics. Interesting.

name said...

If Eckstein and Hamilton schools are so horribly over crowded why is everyone clamoring to get in and stay in? I don't hear families saying they want to move their kid out to a less full school, I her them calling to push others out or keep them out. Even with over crowded elementary schools new families are pouring in to the area. forcing the JA k8 families and all the NNE families to suffer through years of unplanned transition is WAY more unfair than having Eckstein and Hamilton kids live through one more year of crowding.

JAK8 Parent said...

Man, if the Jane Addams K-8 community is the "powerful few" we really suck at this.

Anonymous said...

"Overdone" apparently misses that JA will give its pint of blood for the cause shortly. Either they will be out of their building and bused south for a number of years...or jampacked with a second program... a year from now.

No one is a "winner" here. All the options are miserable. The fault does not lie with any parent group.

And frankly, from what I can see, this vote is the tip of the iceberg. The amount of enrollment and program upheaval in not just the northeast but throughout the district will continue for some time because of a deficit of past planning. The administration of today is holding the bag on the errors of its predecessors.

But the staff of today doesn't get a pass. SPS administration needs to start performing in a more professional manner rather than performers in a three ring circus. It feels like we're on a bad non-amusement park ride, which is very disheartening. They seem to be very nice and well meaning people. But are they effective? I darkly have some doubts, even though I do not want to.

SavvyVoter

Anonymous said...

"of whom all the vocal few I saw at meetings are pretty privileged looking white people."

Thank you Sir or Madam for your blatant prejudice and racism. On Jackie Robinson's birthday and so soon after MLK day - you know, the man who urged us to judge people by the content of their character.

If you act or speak in public like you write on this blog, I'm not surprised you don't get what you want.

PrivileagedLookingWhitePerson

Anonymous said...

Confused on the Bryant suggest a possibility of Bryant boundary changes for 2013-14?

--Confused

Anonymous said...

Sorry...that should say:

Confused on the Bryant part...did anyone leave open the possibility of Bryant boundary changes for 2013-14?

--Confused

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the irony of the supposed need for decisiveness, in that the last round of decisiveness actually led to this problem. The JA K-8 was promised to people, and then, within a year, the downtown Einstein's began the "Oops! Forget about where all those kids will go to middle school!," followed by a 3 year, "Oh, well" until the crisis is upon them.

I'm not going to attack any group as being selfish for relying on a promise the district made to them and expecting the district to keep their word. Yes, reality sometimes forces change, but past experience favors going slow, as every cocksure decision they've made has blown up in their face thus far.

I feel for the people crammed into overcrowded buildings and portables with uncertain futures. Its ridiculous for certain. And it's going on, BIG TIME in West Seattle too.

While I can understand the plight and feelings of people who feel they got gored by this vote, I still think we should hail it as a victory of the new board over the old MGJ Board.

Lets see who doesn't run for re-election now, because their pride is hurt and they don't like not getting their way.

This should be good.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Two thousand middle school students will not be screwed. First of all, Hamilton gets rid of Lauelhurst either way. And the plan is for Jane Addams to accept a large amount of students. But they will go there by choice instead of being forced. There will still be relief for Eckstein as I believe JA will attract plenty of new 6th graders.

I would like to mention that no one wins if BEX fails. I am absolutely appalled that anyone who knows that we have a capacity issue would even consider voting no. I'm appalled that some have considered using BEX as some sort of leverage with the board. I'm appalled that some have suggested voting no because another group is getting a new building and they are not. Vote yes because you know it is the right thing to do.

-Vote for BEX

NE member said...

@overdone...

Destroying JAK-8 will not solve overcrowding ... there are still over 500 students being served in the school currently ... pushing them out doesn't make them disappear... encouraging more middle school students to attend would alleviate the overcrowding in the other schools - yes.. so lets do that! Forcing a big change overnight will create more problem for more families than is necessary. Mushroom the current JA k-8 and when the time comes ... those students /families who want to move to the new e-stem program can move and those who would like to stay in the new comprehensive middle school can stay and everybody is happy - even you.

Anonymous said...















Overdone: Actually, the JA "choir room," art rooms, and part of the library will be converted into classrooms just to accommodate typical growth for next year.

Researcher











mirmac1 said...

If you agree with taking time to do things right, and with the directors brave and thoughtful decision, I urge you to write and tell them so.

It would be a nice gesture and would warm their hearts.

Anonymous said...

My son was at JA for two wonderful years. He was a minority in his classroom as a US born white native English speaking male. JA has fantastic diversity.

This school has had to fight with the district on multiple issues since its inception. The district owes it to them to make their move as smooth as possible and to keep their community intact. The district shuffles kids, Principals, programs, and buildings around randomly, like a deck of cards. SPS seems to be incapable of long-term vision and solves all of its problems in short-term crisis mode. They fragment communities left and right, after parents have devoted time, emotional energy, and finances to building the heart of a school. Kids need stability. By ignoring middle school capacity issues, the district created this whole freaking mess to begin with. Yet it is unreasonable to ask a 500+ school community to fragment on your behalf.

Ann

Patrick said...

Man, if the Jane Addams K-8 community is the "powerful few" we really suck at this.

Hahah, yep. Somehow we powerful few managed to get no representatives on FACMAC and are definitely going to be losing the building of our choice in three years, maybe less. Some "triumph".

Anonymous said...

This seems to be a victory for thoughtful planning.

When the district dumped $800,000 into New Technology Network tools for Cleveland ... it was because of the need to act rapidly for Cleveland was to be an option school under the NSAP.

Finally the Board stands up to the haphazard rushing caused by poor planning. Hooray for the four board members that acted.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Long time experience here as a political observer:

There wasn't much brave at all, or even at risk for Patu - this NE drama is roughly 20 miles away from her bailiwick. She gave her vote to her friend Peaslee rather than side with the act now trio of DeBell, Morris, and Carr, who represent a LARGER SHARE of the families impacted by this decision than other board members such as Patu or McLaren. I have to give props though to Peaslee - it was brave of HER to stick her neck out and propose this, and she got the votes for her side to win tonight. You can predict this sort of back scratching again soon. Why? Because even though Seattle has great schools and committed parents who fight hard for their kids, we have a bumbling District, a deer in the headlights new Super, and an archaic, parochial, fiefdom mentality with district Directors. If we really want to do something brave, we will move to either expand the number of people on the Board to force more consensus building rather than these petty two and three person alliacnes...OR join the 21st Century and move to at large elections so that Directors will not have to be beholden to any powerful few in any one area, but instead can look out over a larger landscape and make better policy.
-Be Fair and Less Petty

Anonymous said...

Very proud of the four directors who did the right thing tonight. I am sure it wasn't easy. Thank you for listening and making a thoughtful decision.

-Relieved

Anonymous said...

Congratulation to the JA k8 who tirelessly worked incredibly hard to prevail and secured the vote to pull them apart next year. Grab a clue. If you can't follow this, that's fine. Watch it 'in action' as it unfolds in real time during this 'planning year'.
-curious

Anonymous said...

"Overdone" I don't even know where to begin with you. I was at this meeting and the ones before it. I am pretty sure you were the one that stormed out as soon as the vote was over. I'm surprised that DeBell didn't storm out with you. But I digress. Calling the JA K-8 the 'powerful few' is a joke. And saying that the "vocal few I saw at meetings are pretty privileged looking white people" is beyond the pale. Where do you come up with those observations? Because you couldn't be more wrong. You are just bitter you didn't 'win'. Well, no one won tonight. But because of the four reasonable directors, the new JA middle school will be thoughtfully developed and not rushed. My last comment directed towards you is that you stated, "I've been so immersed in this I know the numbers by heart." Really?? The distract staff couldn't even give straight answers on the "numbers" the last few meetings. The "numbers" were a moving target. If you truly attended all the meetings, you would know that.

I also must respond to 'Be Fair and Less Petty'. Patu did not give her vote to her friend Peaslee. This vote tonight was not about backscratching. It was more about head scratching. What you had were the three non north end directors listening to the facts and deciding to vote thoughtfully for what would be best for all the north end students and families. The north end situation is still a mess and must be addressed immediately. But by delaying the rushed start of JAMS, the board avoided compounding the problem. It is time to move forward.

-Oly Hill Dad (and I don't think I looked too privileged at the meeting)

Anonymous said...

It has been a long and hard fought battle.

Some fought for self. Some fought for all.

There has been a growing swell in all areas of the NE to lend a shoulder, expertise, and what political clout may be had to a successful launch of JAMS.

It feels like the unified tie was severed tonight.

Going forward it is likely to be each small group to itself, to suffer or survive as they will.

The regional PTA meeting and other outreach was not an attempt to bully, but to cohesively problem solve. In your fight to go it alone, you have won.

As an observer I fear that your battle won may be a war lost. The neighborhood got smaller tonight.

I find it to be a sad outcome.

Coward

Anonymous said...

Coward,

Since Sacajawea, Olympic Hills and John Rogers parents all advocated to postpone the start of JAMS to 2014, how can this possibly be Jane Addams "going it alone"?

You are making veiled threats and alluding to bullying. Could you please explain, rather than speak in code?

-perplexed

PWP said...

Directors Peaslee, McLaren, Patu and Smith-Blum indeed did indeed act with courage and decisiveness last night. Please email schoolboard@seattleschools.org to let them know your appreciation.

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone put on the brakes.

Mr White

Charlie Mas said...

Director DeBell went on for some time about how this had been known problem for seven years and this was the time for decisive action.

That simply isn't credible. He was on the Board for all of those seven years - along with Director Carr and Director Martin-Morris. Those years were the times for decisive action. It rings false for them to advocate for taking prompt action.

The same thing is going to happen. The District is going to create a comprehensive middle school in the Jane Addams building. The only question is whether they do it in 2013-2014 or in 2014-2015.

Let's not forget that 2014-2015 was the staff's plan as recently as last week. To suddenly claim that timetable is horribly, horribly wrong is also disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

Look. This is such an obvious decision.

ANY ECKSTEIN FAMILY WHO CAN'T STAND THE OVERCROWDING AT ECKSTEIN IS WELCOME, WELCOME, WELCOME AT JANE ADDAMS.

Got that? Any! All! Come on down. If it's so horrible, you've got an out. So quit your whining. Sh** or get off the pot!

All the whiners just want Eckstein for themselves. They want to kick somebody else out of their beloved school, which of course belongs to them alone. (not to mention screw up a whole bunch of families at JA) Get over it.

-Jane

Melissa Westbrook said...

"She gave her vote to her friend Peaslee..."

Patu absolutely did not do this for Peaslee. Betty AND Marty have a long history of caring about equity and underserved and underheard communities. The four who voted for the amendment do not walk in lockstep and previous votes prove that.

Also, I can only say that I know that Carr made a rather unfortunate remark about Aki Kurose vis a vis the new JA MS (which will have a much higher F/RL population than Eckstein or Hamilton). It seems that sometimes directors can be less-than-thoughtful about regions other than their own and should be considering the district as a whole.

President Smith-Blum, if you listen to her ending remarks, was quite statesman-like. A decision has been made and all should work together to help the NE region become stronger as well as strengthening our entire district.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it's feeling kind of nasty here. I'd like to think of the creation of this new school as an opportunity, and I'd hope that our conversation could be a model for policy making in the district. Stereotyping people in different communities/neighborhoods rarely helps and usually hurts.

Now that we have a WHEN, how can we mobilize to make the new middle school the very best that it can be?

--Sarah

Unknown said...

Only in MDB's fevered imagination is his approach courageous or decisive. His approach typifies everything that everybody is complaining about here about how there is no long-term planning, how nobody thinks about unintended consequences, how half assed and ill considered so much SPS policy has been for the last decade.

I see Peaslee's amendment and its approval by the majority as "transformational" in that it just says no to that kind of dysfunction.

This vote signals that the KSB administration, so to say, is going to do things in a more considered, thoughtful way rather than in the helter-skelter way described above, and that it has the courage to stand up to the dysfunctional business as usual m.o. that typified MDB administration. That's tougher than it might look from the outside, especially for KSB and MMc.

The District has been a mess for over a decade now, and no one can expect things to be cleaned up quickly. But the cleanup begins like this.

Nevertheless, we should prepare for more talk in the Times etc about board dysfunction and a push for mayoral control. When things are actually moving in the right direction you can count on the clueless set downtown to push in exactly the wrong direction.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sarah, interestingly, the one person who spoke for the opening of the middle school next year indicated that the various PTAs want to help support the fledgling JS MS PTA. There's a start.

Anonymous said...

Question about welcoming Eckstein kids to Jane Addams.

Eckstein has integrated Sped classes with 2 teachers, one gen ed teacher & one sped teacher, co-teaching a class with sped & gen ed kids together. Eckstein's self contained classes have kids flowing in & out all day, so parents can just ask to have their child in a gen ed or integrated class for some periods & in self contained for others. That can be changed throughout the year based on what the family wants.

When we toured Jane Addams a few years ago, we were told that self-conatined kids could not integrate into gen ed classes at all & that they don't do co-teaching classes with both gen ed & sped teacher sharing the class. That did not feel very welcoming. (Same story at Hamilton.)It felt more like a way to encourage sped kids to go somewhere else.

Is that still the case? Are sped kids served in gen ed classes by sped teachers in the classroom co-teaching, or are they segregated out? Can kids move in & out of self-contained classes on an individual basis?

- Unsure of welcome at Jane Addams

Anonymous said...

I am glad we now have some time to explore ideas and come up with what hopefully can be the best plan possible.

As an APP alum and a mom of a district student, I would like to respectfully propose an idea for discussion, based on the assumption that BEX passes. Here goes...

First, since the World School and and Nova are being evicted from Meany and it is being turned back into a middle school, I think Meany should become the permanent home of the entire APP middle school cohort, both north and south end. According to the district's projections from this week, they anticipate 863 APP middle schoolers next year. The capacity at Meany when it was a middle school was 813. Add three portables and bam, you have room there for the whole APP program. A PERMANENT home, with all of them together, centrally located as is appropriate for a program that is an all-city draw. This would free up 516 seats at Hamilton next year and 347 at Washington, bringing both schools down below their functional capacity again. You could then send some of the schools feeding into Eckstein, like Green Lake, to Hamilton to help relieve crowding at Eckstein. And the central area would no longer need a second middle school, since Washington would be big enough to hold all the students from that area.

I know APP parents don't like the idea of bussing their kids all the way across town, but hear me out for a minute: I was bussed from the NE to Madrona and then Washington when I was a kid. I spent 8 years riding the bus to school, before spending my high school years at a north end school. And you know what? It was not ever something that was a big deal to me. Honestly, I have nothing but find memories of riding the bus. And I have fond memories of being together with kids from all over the city who didn't think I was a nerd.

I believe the reason the northern middle schools re so crowded is, in part, because APP was split up and half were sent north of the ship canal. Let's put them back together in a centrally located building where they will not be competing for space with a neighborhood program.

APP Alum

Catherine said...

How many years ago was it that SSD did the entire "neighborhood school" conversion so that people would know where they're going to school so there would be stability and predictability? It seems that NE isn't the only place we're having problems, and from what I can tell, the problems are worse than ever.

I'm not suggesting going back, but it seems to me in all the capacity planning, we've got some fundamental bad assumption (s) - that are going to keep us fighting with fellow parents about something the district should have gotten right the first 3 times, instead of focusing on education or community or district accountability.

I'm tempted to think the district is trying to distract us with this, so we don't pay attention elsewhere.

Lori said...

I'm with Sarah. A decision has been made, so let's all move on and figure out how to make it work. For the sake of all the kids in the north end, we need the recruitment efforts to succeed.

I don't have a kid going to middle school this fall, but let me pretend for a moment that I do.

Will someone please give me a compelling recruiting pitch as to why I should reject Eckstein, where my student would likely be able to stay for 3 years, and opt into a K-8 with an uncertain future. I suspect that for many parents that will be the biggest question: what happens to my kid for 7th and 8th grade if we opt into Jane Addams K-8 now? One year in that building followed by 2 years at Marshall? One year in the building followed by 2 years of co-location with lots of portables?

And I'm already aware of Jane's argument that families should switch simply due to crowding so no need to go there. My main concern would be that I want a stable choice for 3 years. There needs to be a clear, compelling answer to that question from the recruiters.

Anonymous said...

Observations:

I thought the stories of DeBell's temper tantrums with this new board makeup were overblown. Then I saw the meeting last night. He just seemed so bitter. He seems worn out. It is probably time for him to contribute in a different way than on the board, as he is clearly frustrated.

Martin-Morris was "personally offended" that people are worried about the minority/FRL issues in getting JAMS up and going. What on God's Green Earth was that all about?

Smith-Blum forgot about having McLaren and Martin-Morris talk and McLaren had to gently remind her. When Smith-Blum has her mind made up she seems to charge forward. I hope in her role as president this year she doesn't forget how important collaboration is. I am not sure it is her strong suit.

On the other hand, Smith-Blum pointed to the debacle of yanking APP out of Lowell two years ago as a reason not to yank the northern Eckstein families over to JAMS next year and not to yank JA around after being promised it wouldn't happen. It felt good that the badness of the APP move has been absorbed by the board, and it makes me hopeful that APP won't be suddenly divided up or moved with no notice.

Watching

Melissa Westbrook said...

Unsure, there were at least two comments about Special Ed and JS MS last night and I suspect that some Special Ed and ELL at Eckstein will make its way over to JS MS.

APP Alum, interesting about Meany and APP.

Lori, you are asking for a case for school that was created under a cloud and will have to move to an interim site before they have a permanent site versus one of the most highly established middle schools in the city. It's a rather apples and oranges comparison.

Is it JA's fault that they are being moved and have to wait for a building? Nope. And, next BEX, I suspect Eckstein will get a new building. Would you reject Eckstein for your child because it would be at an interim with portables?

However, JA K-8, DESPITE its challenges, IS thriving. It has a strong parent community (key to a great school) who know how to advocate. JA's program may have more of what your child needs than Eckstein's. JA's climate may be better than Eckstein's (which can be cliquey).

However, Eckstein has a stellar music and drama program.

If you are looking for stability, then yes, it's Eckstein but not because JA K-8 is not a good school (and might be a great school for your child). If stability is your only criteria for middle school, then there's your choice.



Benjamin Leis said...

Back to my previous point which Melissa asked about, I'm worried that the staff/board won't move on promptly to planning for 2014-15. Since enrollment keeps rising we won't be able to delay changes indefinitely and any of them are much more likely to go smoothly if started sooner rather than later (particularly the creation of new schools) We should really be reengaging in the next planning phase and have a final vote on what it will look like as soon as possible. It would be a tragedy to not start that process until October next year and engage in another rushed high stakes exercise.

Ben




Anonymous said...

@ Lori: How close do you live to Eckstein and in what direction? There are a lot of families who assume they are headed to Eckstein who will be 'surprised' when they are redrawn into a different middle school. Boundary changes will no doubt continue to shake things up.

My family goes to neither Eckstein nor JA. I can't put a plug in for JA but I can tell you that while Eckstein has loyalty based on enrollment pattern tradition and good academics, it is not the best fit for many many children. Middle school is such an important developmental time. It pays to shop around. A different comprehensive middle school, or advanced learning (APP), or K8, or private environment was a better choice for many of us.

Capacity Wonk

biliruben said...

I agree, Lori. It's going to be very tough to sell Jane Addams K-8, including to those already there, if a very specific plan, which doesn't include a move 50 blocks away, isn't set in stone post-BEX passing. (If it doesn't pass, all bets are off - Pegi essentially said it would be disbanded).

That should be the first priority after the vote. Make sure a solid future is drawn out for Jane Addams, then get to work selling that future to relieve over-crowding at Eckstein.

Let's start working together. Giving the overdone's of the world anything more than the time of day is simply poison for our SPS community.

Lori said...

Here's my other question. I watched the meeting last night and heard that people generally wanted more time (20 months instead of 8 months) to plan for success for the new middle school at JAMS and not put that burden on a small group of families, namely those from Sacajawea, Olympic Hills, and John Rogers. The Board wants northeast families to come together and start building the school now.

OK, so which families need to come together to do this? Technically, we don't know the exact stakeholder communities until new boundaries and feeder patterns are established.

So when will those be done? If we want to take advantage of the year-and-a-half planning time line we have been given, we really need those details NOW.

Just as an example. I've heard there is interest in starting a JAMS PTA right away, which is great. My family would gladly send them a cash donation, but until I know where my future middle schooler will be assigned, I'm not going to volunteer for a position on that PTA. Am I alone in this thinking or do we expect people to step up to PTA leadership positions when their kid might still be assigned to Eckstein or maybe even Wilson Pacific?

In the short-term, I think it's safe to say that Oly Hills and John Rogers will ultimately feed into JAMS, but we don't know for sure about anything else. So for now, and until all the dust settles on the new assignment patterns, the burden still seems to fall heaviest on those 2 communities to start planning for JAMS.

And, unfortunately, I suspect that we won't have firm answers about new assignment patterns for another year, so we will be back in the same position we are in now: there will be about 8 months to really get a JAMS PTA going and to really get input from its community on what the school should look like.

So, I'm not entirely sure that the extended planning time is going to amount to anything meaningful. Am I overlooking some details? I'd like to be more optimistic, so please tell me why my thinking is wrong and what the mechanism is to take advantage of this extended time frame.

Anonymous said...

@Ben: There cannot be a final vote soon as you envision. There are 3 efforts going on simultaneously. (And this is assuming BEX passes.)

1) JAMS middle school program planning has to commence soon.

2) The decision as to where JA will go, or whether it will stay in a co-located capacity, needs to be made. This is not simple because it means the staff has to work way ahead to understand who will go to Marshall, what will happen with the (trampled on by the district) Pinehurst program, etc.

3) Most painful: Reboundary issues. That work can commence this spring but won't be ready for discussion until next school year. If you live in the far NE quadrant of Seattle, yes, assume you are headed to JAMS. But south of JAMS? First of all, your address may be linked to a different grade school than you currently attend. Secondly, those grade schools may be aligned to a different middle school than you expect. This is the primary reason I am glad JAMS is not commencing this coming year. If you think the district has a handle on where to put all the elementary kids in the coming years...and thus knows what middle school the kids will be attending...you are mistaken.

Capacity Wonk

Lori said...

That should be the first priority after the vote. Make sure a solid future is drawn out for Jane Addams, then get to work selling that future to relieve over-crowding at Eckstein.

Open enrollment ends March 8, 2013. Can they draw out a plan for Jane Addams K-8's future by then?

Or are they going to extend open enrollment? Or even offer some sort of time frame in which parents can change their enrollment choice as numbers start to come out?

For example, in June, let's say we learn that Eckstein is going to have 1,320 students. Do they re-open open enrollment and try to entice families to JA K-8 at that point?

I'm not necessarily looking for answers to these hypotheticals, but I'm trying to just get some detailed questions out there for the powers that be to think about.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I am asking if Jane Addams is welcoming now. Is there an integrated sped program that welcomes sped kids on display now for parents who are making the decision for next year. We are being encouraged to choose Jane Addams for next year to relieve pressure on Eckstein. Well the overcrowding at Eckstein is extra hard on many sped kids.

So if Jane Addams is welcoming to sped kids it would be good to get that information out. (The old information about sped at Jane Addams is what is still being talked about among parents.) Hoping that they may become welcoming at some point in the future is not the reassurance that I am looking for.

Right now, are there integrated co-taught classrooms & flexible self-contained programs?

-Unsure of welcome at Jane Addams

Anonymous said...

In an ideal world, what would be the maximum enrollment at Eckstein? The functional capacity document from 2009 says 1200. Is that accurate? Do parents there feel like it needs to be closer to 1000?

APP Alum

Melissa Westbrook said...

We should really be reengaging in the next planning phase and have a final vote on what it will look like as soon as possible.

Ben, I'm still not understanding. Are you talking about the planning for the new JA MS? Boundaries? There is no vote needed for the former but yes, for the latter.

Lori, they don't have 20 months. They will have to have the school mostly planned by open enrollment in 2014.

The extra time to flesh out that plan and make sure find the right staff, etc. -hat's what those extra months buy.

They will know the boundaries by December 2013 or early Jan. 2014. Then we know who the community at JS MS will be. Naturally, it is likely to be John Rogers and Olympic Hills so they would be the likely groups to consider the framework for a PTA.

Unsure, you could check with Debbie Nelson, principal at JS for the exact parameters of what Special Ed there looks like.

Anonymous said...

Yes, lots of unanswered questions.

@Lori- I am now faced with this decision with my 5th grader. We will go to the open houses at JA K-8 and see what resonates. As for Eckstein being more stable, well the threat is out there that if we chose Eckstein for 6th grade, we could get pulled right back out for 7th grade to start JAMS. I am assuming that we could chose JAK-8 for next year and then switch over to JAMS when it comes online in 2014. Many questions. Do you chose the building or the program? How much mitigation funding will JAK-8 get for next year to try to attract more families, and what additional offerings will be there? Definitely some things for staff to nail down before open enrollment ends. But still a lot less than trying to build a new MS from scratch and negotiate what co-location looks like in 6 months.
-Ready to move on

Anonymous said...

The board chose not to follow FACMAC's recommendation about NE capacity, which was to start JAMS this coming year.

Is FACMAC going to continue working through the logistics of the coming year, or is the group disbanded with the BEX vote coming next week?

Watching

Anonymous said...

Seriously, you live in the same town as me? You think the staff are going to be planning anything? Like a program for JAMS? Funny!

The staff will be full absorbed in boundaries and feeder patterns, etc, etc. maybe even finding someone for SpEd and T&L leadership positions. There are screaming priorities, and they don't involve focusing on JAMS. Reality check. And now, many folks are choked that Eckstein has to suffer through another year being at 140% capacity while the other middle school coasts along at 585 in a building that is rated at 841 seats as a K8. Remember Summit? How would anyone voluntarily choose to go there now knowing it is going to be in transition to be in transition to be a middle school. Good luck with that. Staff won't be there to plan, they are busy, in case you didn't notice. And, the goodwill which was present in the region is gone. Now, they are on their own. Pollyanna called, she said hello, she said she called to say she'll bring tea cakes to your staff planning parties.
- curious

Spruiter said...

Dear Unsure,

Jane Addams K-8 has a new self contained SPED class at middle school this year. I don't know enough specifics to answer your question, but I recommend you contact the MS SPED teachers, Rose Palmer and Tania Pryor, who are both fantastic, and very approachable, for details on how SPED students integrate with Gen Ed students and classes. You can find their email addresses on the district Jane Addams website.

I also recommend that you, and anyone else interested in learning more about Jane Addams K-8, attend one of our upcoming tours.

Daytime
Feb 13. 8:30-10:30
Feb 21. 8:30-10:30
Feb 27. 9:30-11:30
Mar 5. 9:30-11:30

Evening
Feb 13. 6:30-8:30. All k-8
Feb 28. 6:30-8:30. Middle School only

Principal Debbie Nelsen is also willing to arrange private or small group tours for people who can't make these dates. She is also happy to come to area elementary schools to talk to groups of 5th grade families.

Come visit, meet our amazing principal, spectacular staff, passionate parent community, and awesome students. Learn about our exciting program and decide for yourself if Jane Addams K-8 is a good fit for your family.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ready, there is quite a lot of money that is going to be thrown at JS MS according to the action report last night.

Curious, I absolutely think there will be a lot of planning for JS MS but time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Peaslee's amendment directed staff - not parents...staff!!...to recruit 6th graders to more option schools than JA. Included were Salmon Bay, TOPS and Pinehurst.

Curiously, the amendment said "Transportation from Eckstein service area to Jane Addams, Pinehurst, TOPS and Salmon Bay is already in our budget."

I didn't know that. Bet most families don't either.

So my question: When does that recruitment happen? What does it look like? This is a specific directive, so we need to see a specific plan and action from staff pretty much yesterday as open enrollment is about to commence.

Alt School Mama

Anonymous said...

Spruiter is wrong here. Jane Addams has a new middle school INCLUSION program. Not self-contained. The district promised to add a self-contained program at some point in the future because it has several self-contained elementary programs. The inclusion program is FANTASTIC. You should feel completely welcomed, and it is very flexible to meet your child with whatever his/her needs are. The only question is... Will the district provide more seats and more inclusion programs to Jane Addams as they will obviously need it if they grow more? Without additional special education programming, the capacity at Jane Addams will not grow. All the current students are 6th graders.

There's no better option for a special education student than Jane Addams.

One other point Unsure. The district will never advertise any sped programming for you. YOU need to do it. If you have particular wants - then YOU need to advocate for them. If you'd prefer your kid at Eckstein, bullied and battered - then go right ahead and let the process happen to you - becausre that is what it will be.

sped parent

Anonymous said...

Because I am a little OCD, I sat down with the new numbers released this week. I added up all the predicted 3/4/5th graders at each elementary school in the district, to figure out what the middle school cohort will look like in 3 years.I made the following assumptions.

1. Kids at a K-8 will stay at the K-8 for middle school. (We know this isn't true, but it would have been a lot of work for me to figure out how that all plays out in reality.)
2. Kids attending an option K-5 will all stay together and attend a comprehensive middle school where their option school is located. (We know that isn't true either, but again, a lot of work to figure out how many Thornton Creek kids will go to Eckstein and how many to Salmon Bay etc.)
3. APP will be at Meany when it reopened. All of APP.

Assuming no other new middle schools are created, including no JAMS, here is what enrollment will look like based on current feeder patterns, with their functional capacity per 2009 report in parentheses:

Whitman: 1330 (967)
Eckstein: 1643 (1205)
Hamilton: 897 (890)
McClure: 826 (646)
Washington: 990 (1031)
Mercer: 1249 (861)
Aki Kurose: 909 (842)
Madison: 901 (886)
Denny: 977 (900)

Moral: if you live in the Eckstein, Whitman, or Mercer reference areas, and you have a 2nd through 4th grader, your hair should be on fire.

Also, can anyone confirm that the McClure capacity figure is correct? It seems extremely low...

APP Alum

kellie said...

Wow. There is a lot of intensity on this thread. IMHO, I think there is more than enough merit on both side of the argument. Enough merit in fact to make it clear that there is another problem.

It is my opinion that this level of intensity is typically only seen around school closures and the sense of scarcity and loss that is driven by a closure process. I think this does have to do with programming but it has much more to do with the fact that the NE is just out of space, plain and simple.

There is only so much that can be done by shuffling a few kids here and few kids there and the fact that the conversation has devolved to being about who is getting shifted should be a clear indicator that the NE is out of space.

A geographic assignment system is supposed to run at 85-95% capacity. Surge capacity is supposed to be a temporary solution used as a bridge to get you to a longer term solution.

Unfortunately, the use of Surge Capacity has become the norm and this is supported by tragically flawed capacity reporting that allows very reasonable people to be confident that there is plenty of space "over there."

Eckstein was built for less than 1,000 students, everything over that is surge capacity. It is full and beyond full and out of surge capacity.

Jane Addams was also built for less than 1,000. Because it is utilized as a K8 with a very heavy Sped component, it is also full, it just hasn't maxed out surge capacity.

My recommendation for some time now, has been that we need to get some "leased space" or "space donated by the city, state or feds" in Lake City simply because there isn't any.

BEX will help, but because BEX is a repair and replace levy an idiosyncrasy of BEX is that your capacity actually decreases temporarily while you build the new capacity. Lake City is out of space.

Maybe I am just being too simple about this but it seems to me that when you are just out of space, you need to add NEW space.

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

I think Sharon was wrong in using the word "recruit" and I think she did backpedal a bit.

I think what she meant is make parents aware of the choices they do have. The Enrollment office has a history of either NOT telling parents their choices OR steering them away from some schools (and yes, many parents have told this story over the years).

So it's not so much "marketing" as raising awareness. That some JA parents might be willing to go out to neighborhood schools and answer questions is one thing I have heard that could happen.

Kellie, as usual, is right but I doubt the district wants to spend that kind of money.

Anonymous said...

Why do I get this sneaking suspicion that the Boundary Changes will also include splitting Wedgwood to feed into JAMS in order to moderate FRL numbers/social equity?

--NEDad

nacmom said...

APP alum,

Looking for a place that can house the entire APP MS cohort at it's current size is pointless. It is growing rapidly (like all enrollment) and will soon be over 1000 kids. Multiple sites are a given (and not a bad thing, IMHO), unless they build/find somehting as big as Eckstein to house it.

The reality is simple/ugly for JA,as it is for every N end school : any underutlized capacity will be 'remedied'. No school is full until they've had their capacity "revised" up several times and are exceeding it. I recall the target enrollment for JA K-8 was 850, when it opened, so that it would pull 450 (!) middle school kids. It has nowhere near that number and Now we need more. much more.

oh and votes to 'do nothing' are hardly courageous, especially given the 10 year notice on this growth! Having some schools and all of their students/staff overcrowded, while others have plenty of space is not equitable either! It's bad planning. Or no planning...

Josh Hayes said...

It's hard to see how anyone would send their child to Pinehurst at this point for anything but 8th grade next year -- the school has no assured future. I love my little school, and it'd be a fantastic fit for lots of kids out there, but it's hard to talk parents into signing up for something that could well disappear after 2013/14. If I had one ask, moving forward, it would be for some degree of predictability: if you plan to dismantle Pinehurst, I can live with that, but just say so. It may seem like 150 or so kids can be safely ignored, but that's not ethical: tell us where we're going.

Anonymous said...

Correction: I somehow missed Stevens in my calculations. updated numbers:
Whitman: 1330 (967)
Eckstein: 1643 (1205)
Hamilton: 897 (890)
McClure: 826 (646)
Washington: 1160 (1031)
Mercer: 1249 (861)
Aki Kurose: 909 (842)
Madison: 901 (886)
Denny: 977 (900)

And, here is how it looks if you include APP at it's current locations:

Whitman: 1330 (967)
Eckstein: 1643 (1205)
Hamilton: 1314 (890)
McClure: 826 (646)
Washington: 1396 (1031)
Mercer: 1249 (861)
Aki Kurose: 909 (842)
Madison: 901 (886)
Denny: 977 (900)

APP Alum

NW parent said...

Josh, I hear you. I'm sorry how Pinehurst has been totally absent from the recent discussions.

Anonymous said...

I think that the undertone to all of this is that there are certain schools that have "status" and other schools that don't. For parents who yearn for status schools (like Eckstein and Hamilton), there is no good alternative in their minds. They are status schools because they have special programs (or are located in the wealthy neighborhoods) that parents think will prove that their precious is the smartest kid of the bunch.

This is why Jane Addams doesn't have parents pounding the doors to get in and why schools like Whitman, which is just an basic middle school, is treated like the smelly basement room no one wants to go to.

Why on earth the district put APP in at Hamilton, at a school that was already on the ascendent because of its new International status, I will never understand. Wealthy neighborhood+international+imagined smarter-than-thou-kids=perfect place for status seekers.

Therefore, what I would like to see is a new middle school put in the underserved northern part of the NE that has all of the status programs. APP, International, free puppies, whatever. Give it every single bell and whistle that Hamilton and Eckstein have. Then you'll see the status-seeking parents rush to get in there. And, let's give the south end schools the same status and special programs.

That said, I don't understand why this is all just being dealt with now. The influx of more students isn't a surprise. We saw this coming during the baby boomlet that occurred 5 years ago. Why is it being dealt with as a surprise?

My feeling is that there is a key problem that the board can't talk about. That there is something going on that is a small but powerful tail that is wagging the school district dog. And this is why the board looks like a bunch of bumbling nincompoops even though I have attended enough meetings to know that they're not.

Hamilton reference area mom of an average but great kid

Anonymous said...

Kellie- You are absolutely right. The bottom line is SPS needs more buildings and fast. Everyone who has been passionate about this debate on all sides should band together and swamp SPS and City Hall with letters telling them they need to start looking for some deals. I am not sure the city or the state have a clue what we are facing here. Developers shouldn't be allowed to build anymore high density family housing without building a school in the area to go with it. Large local corporations like Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, Nordstrom, etc, as well as the Gates Foundation should be asked to chip in for the good of the community. The property owners of Seattle are not going to be able to foot the bill for the amount of capacity needed. Someone else needs to come to the party. How about we all organize around letting people know the magnitude of the problem and getting some help?

-ready to move on

Anonymous said...

@ Hamilton ref mom - I think you've hit on something. There will be a shiny new facility @ Wilson Pacific in a few years and a revamped, pumped up program/facility @ JA. That will change perceptions a lot, especially if 2 other things come to pass that I fully expect (but am not joyous about):

APP either fully out of Hamilton or split up.

Not a lick of facilities money for significant updates going to Eckstein for more than a decade. Probably closer to 15 years. And continued overcapacity crowding during that same period.

SavvyVoter

Melissa Westbrook said...

NE Dad, I don't know that will be the reason but it was said that that could happen to both Wedgwood AND Sacajawea.

There was no vote to "do nothing."

I agree they never should have put APP at Hamilton (and said so at the time)but Wallingford a "wealthy neighborhood?" Hmmm.

Well, I did have a meeting with the Downtown Association about capacity issues. I know SPS staff have had many meetings with City Staff and officials from these companies. They seem to all think it's the district's job to provide schools. But not if we don't own land and not when we have such a crush of kids.

Yes, maybe we should organize on this issue.

If we did not have these capacity issues, Eckstein would be on BEX.

Anonymous said...

Hamilton ref area mom said, They are status schools because they have special programs (or are located in the wealthy neighborhoods) that parents think will prove that their precious is the smartest kid of the bunch.

Please. Give me a break. Hamilton was not what you call a "status" school until it was renovated and there was a shift in the demographics.

We fully expect the program to be moved or split again in order to seed another new school. It's just the district MO. APP will then be simultaneously loathed and desired by yet another community.

Anonymous said...

Melissa:

When I referred to Wallingford as wealthy, I was referring to the housing prices. Have you looked at house prices in Wallingford? They are sky high. There is no way a middle class family could buy a house here now.

Hamilton mom in reference area

Anonymous said...

Also, at the first PTA meeting of the year, the Hamilton principal said that there were something like 950 kids at the school this year. The year before, the principal told us that 1000 was the limit of kids allowed at the school in terms of fire codes.

Then an APP parent told me that at their meeting last year they were told that the district doesn't include APP students in the total numbers (even in terms of fire codes) for bizarre reasons, which makes the actual enrollment at Hamilton higher than is reported. This sounds so bizarre--is this true? I don't quite know where to go to research something like this. Does anyone know the realities of this?

Hamilton reference area mom

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see how all of the people applauding the decision to "take the time for appropriate planning" will have to say when the spring enrollment period ends and we learn that something needs to be done to relieve Eckstein. Are you going to be just as supportive for the families that get jerked around at the last minute?

I think that a vote to open JAMS next year would have been a positive measure to really address capacity issues sooner, rather than reacting later this spring. Instead, now we kick the can down the road further and some other poor kids are going to have to suffer from even shorter term planning.

Looking for real action

Anonymous said...

Wealthy neighborhood+international+imagined smarter-than-thou-kids=perfect place for status seekers.

This is such a snotty, chip-on-your-shoulder thing to write. The fact that my kid needs instruction several years beyond her age level does not make her better than any thou. I also have a "great but average kid". One is not better than the other. But to get the APP kid to learn to study, persevere and TRY, she needs work at her level. Period. No superiority complex about it.

If you feel inferior, that's you, not me or my kid. You are projecting your inferiority onto me, but I reject your whole mean-spirited argument.

Not buying it

kellie said...

So many people are making very reasonable conjectures based on the information that they have and other people are making counter arguments based on the information or experience they have. I wish there was a way that I could truly convey how there is an absence of reliable capacity information and this lack of info keeps everyone just spinning on this topic.

As a rule of thumb, watching paint dry should be more interesting than discussing capacity. If the conversation is interesting or controversial, it is likely about utilization.

A capacity calculation should work like this.

Look at a building, count all the homerooms inside the building (not portables). Multiple that number by the student teacher ratio in the teaching contract. This is your GROSS Capacity for the building.

Then calculate the amount of PCP (Planning, Conference and Prep) time required in the contract for that building. It doesn't matter if this is an art room, science room or music room, every building should have at least two rooms that are dedicated to PCP. This is your basic surge capacity.

Subtract PCP time from GROSS Capacity and you have the building's capacity. Portables are then counted as a separate category because well ... they are separate from the building and technically considered Surge Capacity.

The final part is the tragic flaw that causes all of these conversations to keep spinning - sometimes over years - is capacity allocated to Program Placement or Service Delivery. This needs to be calculated as a separate and transparent line item in order for there to be a dialogue.

The building capacity is based on a number that isn't of reflection of the real world. That capacity number is based on every classroom being filled to the contractual limit with only general education students.

Service delivery for special education, preschools, English Language Learners, and other legally required programs, mean that the capacity of the building is adjusted according to the services that are delivered in that building. Because of the lack of transparency in this category, all kinds of people are reasonably convinced that we as a district have a lot more space than we really do.

If a building has three Sped program rooms that are staffed at a ratio of 8 students to 1 teacher, then that building should have a capacity adjustment of about 50-60 students depending on the grade level. The three homerooms represent 75-96 spaces depending on the grade level. But there are only 24 student on the reports. This makes it look like there "should" be space but there isn't.

IMO, these two issues
1) treating surge capacity as it were core capacity
2) treating service delivery in a non-transparent manner

are the drivers of so much wasted energy.

mirmac1 said...

Here's hoping more time and effort (particularly Pegi McEvoy's) will be spent on planning the new comprehensive MS and less on the new sparkly downtown school we don't need!

Anonymous said...

Kellie:

Wow, I was kind of hoping that I was wrong about the special program kids not being counted in the number of kids at the school. But, it turns out that this is actually correct.

How do fire codes fit into this equation? There still must be some sort of reality around the number of people that legally can be crammed into a building, right?

Hamilton ref area mom

Anonymous said...

I think what has blown some of those numbers out of whack is excessive portables use. That's the only reason I can possibly imagine for a 1209 capacity for Eckstein. It doesn't have more cafeteria or bathroom or hallway space than schools capped at 900-1000, and when you add those extra students they still use all that stuff. Fine if it's just one portable, but at 9, 10, 11 it's not workable and probably explains why people on the ground there experience it as so much worse than people who have just looked at that 2009 number think it must be.

Thinking about how many bathrooms there are, how wide the hallways are; I think functional capacity is really around 1000 which should be the school's target. That still includes several portables, I think. But as Kellie said that depends on the number of special programs and kinds of students.

Fed up too

kellie said...

There was a reason why APP was put at Hamilton and it was discussed widely at the time and was a just as ridiculous then as it is now.

During the 08-09 closures designed to "right size" the district prior to the implementation in the NSAP, there were fewer than 600 students for whom Hamilton was their closest school. As such, it was asserted that there would always be at least 300 extra seats at Hamilton and it would be great for half of APP to use those 300 seats that would just sit empty once south end student would no longer receive yellow busses to Hamilton.

The bulk of the savings from the 08-09 closures came from closing a middle school because they were unwilling to close a high school so closing a south end middle school could only be done by sending at least half of APP north and well there were only three schools and Whitman and Eckstein were both full so Hamilton was assigned APP, in spite of the large number of people who keep testifying that there wasn't enough space. Hence, the push in 09-10 to make Jane Addams a middle school because there just was never going to be enough space once APP was pushed north.

Move ahead to the NSAP and well, Laurelhurst and West Woodland for which Hamilton is NOT their closest middle school were assigned to Hamilton because Eckstein and Whitman couldn't take everyone.

So the net-net is that since Hamilton won't fill from families for whom it is the closest school, the extra space was booked a few times, just to be certain that it filled. Into those extra spaces were booked APP, Laurelhurst, West Woodland and lest we forget, the brand new school McDonald.

This is just one more example in the file of decisions have consequences for years. It is completely understandable why the entire north end is upset about middle school at this point.

The basic plan to have everyone squeeze into three middle schools for 5 more years until TWO new schools open in 2017 was just ridiculous. The issue with interim plans is that you need interim space for an interim plan to work. We don't have enough actual space or interim space. Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Looking for Real Action: according to the data released this week, there are 974 students at Hamilton, 416 of whom are APP students.

APP Alum

kellie said...

@ Hamilton ref area mom

You are making another common and quite reasonable mix up regarding building capacity and student enrollment.

There are two ways that students are counted. There is the enrollment number, which is the number of students currently enrolled in the building and there is the RESIDENT number which is the number of students who reside in an attendance area and attend SPS, enrolled at any school.

So for Hamilton, there is a RESIDENT enrollment projection, which is the total number of SPS students who reside in the Hamilton Service area. So the Hamilton resident enrollment projections are much lower than the enrollment because APP is then subtracted from Eckstein and Whitman and added to Hamilton.

Anonymous said...

APP Alum:

If I'm reading this discussion (including your previous post), then wouldn't that be 974 students reported, PLUS (not including) 416 APP students at Hamilton? Equalling 1376 students currently at Hamilton?

Hamilton ref area mom

Anonymous said...

Kellie:

Thanks--and you're right, this is confusing!

Forgive me if I'm missing something obvious, but, I'm trying to get at the real, actual numbers of students that are physically at each school. As far as I know, any public building has legal limits on the number of people that are allowed in at any given time. And, I imagine that Hamilton (and Eckstein) are close to hitting these numbers, right?

Hamilton ref area mom

Meg said...

my understanding is that fire codes are often on a per room basis, so while it may be against fire code to have an all-school assembly anywhere but on the (portable-covered) playfield, and there need to be 5 lunch periods to comply with fire code for the cafeteria, you can otherwise cram in students without worry of being pestered by the fire marshall.

Anonymous said...

Meg:

Ah. And ack. Wow. Kind of horrifying.

Hamilton ref area mom

Anonymous said...

Kellie - I really appreciate your posts. They are very helpful and informative.

Hamilton/Lincoln mom

Anonymous said...

Hamilton Mom, it doesn't look like that from how the data is formatted. It appears that there are currently (or, there were in the October 2012 head count) 974 students at Hamilton, 416 of whom are APP students. If you look at the section of the report for APP at Lincoln, it shows total enrollment for the school being the same as APP enrollment for the school, so, the total enrollment column in the report includes APP. So, total enrollment 974 includes the 416 APP kids. But, I could be reading the report wrong!

The numbers I posted further up thread are predicted enrollment based on current elementary enrollment in each middle school's feeder schools. I left APP out in the first batch because my proposal is to put APP in it's own building, thus taking away the conflict when APP and a neighborhood program are competing for space in the same building.

APP Alum

Anonymous said...

App Alum:

Ah, got it. Thanks for the clarification.

Hamilton ref area mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Looking, both the principals at Hamilton and Eckstein said they could go another year. Ask them.

Also, the original steady state plan HAS mitigation efforts for both Eckstein and Hamilton. And I believe the Board, again, will hold staff to that.



Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I don't know these principals. Do you think that is an honest assessment or is that like the high school principals all saying they thought discovering math was the best curriculum for their schools?

-Interested

Anonymous said...

Melissa-

I have personally heard Ms Watters say that HIMS could work another year. My kid went to Lowell, Lincoln and now HIMS. Mr King at Lowell was also saying he could make 700 work. He said it would be tough, but he could do it.

I am sure you understand why I am hesitant to fully buy in to the "we can make it work" statement. Really, what else is she going to say? She can't lock the doors on kids. She has to take all the kids that the district sends her. It's not that I don't trust Ms Watters, I don't trust the district.

-won't get fooled

kellie said...

@ Lori.

"My main concern would be that I want a stable choice for 3 years. There needs to be a clear, compelling answer to that question from the recruiters."

You raise an excellent point and frankly the thing that is on the mind of many parents with 5th and 4th graders. I have a 5th grader so I truly have to think about that.

However, at least for me, I have just come to accept that there just isn't a "safe harbor" for my 5th grader in the north end at the moment and that we may very well start at one middle school and end at another. That doesn't mean, I don't think he will get a great education but since I have been wrestling with this issue for longer, I am no longer in the shock phase that so many families are in right now.

I also don't think the instability is isolated to the K8s. The attendance areas school may very well have a geo-split sometime in the next few years.

The bottom line is that there are currently 5200 3rd, 4th and 5th graders north of the ship canal. So that is the size of the cohort that will be entering middle school in the north end over the next three years before the earliest prediction around a fully functioning new building.

5200 kids just don't fit into the number of building we have. I really want them to start the 2014 boundary process because once that process starts, it will become clear how challenging this issue has gotten. Right now there really are just a few folks that truly get what a mess is brewing.

And I want to echo a few of the BEX comments. With BEX, this is a bad, much worse than people think. Without BEX, you can expect schools to go back to the days of two shifts, just like at the height of the baby boom and well, I have a hard time deciding which one is the short end of that stick. The 6 am to noon shift or the noon to 6 pm shift. Thinking about that choice is what gives me the perspective to roll with the other stuff.

Anonymous said...

Also wanted to add - did Eckstein principal saying she could handle another year know she was including Laurelhurst kids? Given the late amendment, I wouldn't think so.

NE Mom of 3

kellie said...

My understanding of fire code is the same as Meg's. There isn't a natural limit. You should feel free to call the fire marshall. I imagine that a few calls about that might manage to get it on someone's radar.

At some point, someone other than all the frustrated parents will have to care. If the boundary process manages to somehow line up the mayoral election process then maybe there is a chance for some bandwidth to be used on some solutions other than just a new downtown elementary.

For the record, I am not opposed to a downtown elementary in concept. I just wish it was one component of a larger plan to address the urban planning issues around building new schools. We need a downtown high school far more than we need a downtown elementary at the moment and we need a Lake City elementary more than both of those things.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Won't Get Fooled, I honestly think if a principal really felt that they could not go on, they would do the right and principled thing and speak up. (That or ask for a lot of mitigation help.)

I think it speaks to their belief that the district and Board ARE going to act on their behalf and that things will rapidly change within the next 3 years.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, let's all stop complaining about the decision the Board made last night and get on board with trying to make it work. The idea is to fill the option schools to relieve pressure at Eckstein and Hamilton now while we await two new middle schools. Let's find out what's good about the K-8's and help with "recruitment" by spreading the positives. From what I've heard, a lot of the NNE elementary kids that would have been assigned to JAMS if it were started in 2013 had already been contemplating Jane Addams K-8 vs Eckstein ahead of last night's decision. Now that the K-8 appears to have more support from the district, it should be even more attractive to prospective families.

- No point in whining

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

You are right that this is not the "do nothing" plan, but the "do little" plan.

The district has shown time and again an ability to misjudge enrollment, and as I understand it, the Eckstein mitigation is based, in all or part, on proactive parental action. This seems like an approach based on wishful thinking to me, rather than taking real action to address capacity. A LOT of people have looked at this problem, and in the end, the SSD staff proposal, the FACMAC proposal and the majority-decision from PTA leaders was to open JAMS next year.

Despite the mitigation, both HIMS and Eckstein still have no margin to absorb excesses if this plan of hope doesn't pan out. And I'm sure that the Principals were given an expected enrollment and asked to specifically speak to that. So, what happens in 4 months when, lo and behold, enrollment is higher than anticipated?

Despite what the Principals are saying, I think that we are all going to be wishing that action had been taken now instead of waiting. Whether your family is the one affected, or you are just feeling bad for the kids who are getting the last minute shuffle (which if the APP kids, then this would be the 4th time since they started school - a complete failure in the SSD to maintain any illusion of consistency). IMHO, I think that we will all be second-guessing this decision to delay.

Looking for real action

Anonymous said...

Kellie, I thought you mentioned at onw point that a preliminary version of boundary re-draws (including TC elem and JAMS) has been mocked up...is this the case?

NEPAL

Anonymous said...

I hear you whining. That's right, of course.

Do any of the option schools actually have any room besides JA? I know Salmon Bay has a long waitlist, and I was under the impression the others were just as chock-a-block. How much excess capacity do they intend to bring on line at JA? More than the 150 spots that was going to be the JAMS? (which does beg the question if it's the same kids why not just start the school, but I'm moving on now)

Are they maybe going to add an extra language? Advanced math? More science? Counselors? Get to help start the JAMS school for the fall by being in the building already? What can I tell my NNE neighbors, who are currently not exactly....fans... of the JA K-8 community and need some serious convincing.

I trust staff about as far as I can throw them to actually do the recruiting, and I am not very strong. It's going to need to be parents.

Fed up too

Anonymous said...

"which does beg the question if it's the same kids why not just start the school"

Because they'd rather continue to have a choice between opting into the K-8 and going to the established assignment middle school they had been promised. They'd rather not be the segregated, small middle school population that was shoved out of Eckstein. And it's not ALL the same kids. Many of the NNE parents will stick with Eckstein, because it's what they were promised and got excited about. So recruitment will have to include attracting 5th graders from Eckstein feeder schools also into the K-8s. Families in the Eckstein feeder area that are looking for an alternative to that over-stuffed school might be happier at JA K-8.

Anonymous said...

By that logic we will never be able to start a new middle school anywhere ever. It has to start some time, and if it's a neighborhood school it has to be the neighbors of that building.

My point, though, is that given the choice, most people now choose a comprehensive middle school for their children(this is true both here and in the NW, where it's pretty borne out), and really the only choice is JA k-8, not the other option schools, which are full (am I wrong about this for next year? Is there excess expected capacity expected to be brought on at say Salmon Bay? Would like to know.). This is a big number we are trying to get to move over. Just "many people like a k-8 environment" will not do it, even with much larger than regular expected growth. What else will? They're getting money to put this on, right? What are the ideas for where it should go? This idea came from somebody- what was the plan? Is there a plan to help transition kids who opt into the k-8 now potentially to JAMS next year? That seems pretty necessary, too. People are talking and deciding RIGHT NOW. We should be out there talking RIGHT NOW. I can't help that people, including myself, are not happy about the way this went down or pretend that I like it. But I can help mitigate the damage done, and that is what I am trying to do right now. So tell me what to tell people that rings even moderately true to a strained community. I know you like JA k-8 and the community there, but we all need to convince a lot of people who don't to go anyway if this is going to work.

Also I'd like to clarify that what I don't trust is the district's ability to properly staff and fund any recruiting efforts. Actual staff I have worked with are mostly great, hardworking people within ridiculous constraints.

Fed up too

kellie said...

@ Nepal,

I am certain that staff have started to mock up some of the boundary work. However, I have not seen anything. At this point, it is all speculation. Some wild speculation and some pretty reasonable speculation.

Like with Laurelhurst back in the Eckstein Service Area, there will be some major revisiting of the Bryant/Laurelhurst boundary.

Anonymous said...

Salmon Bay had a large wait-list for 6th grade last year.
I don't think they made the Thornton Creek "tie-breaker" very clear. Students are assigned:

Siblings
Thornton Creek
Geo-Zone
Service area lottery

The Geo-Zone is a small square 8-10 blocks around the school. It's ridiculous to bus students from the NE to Salmon Bay when a kid who can walk ends up on the wait-list.

NW Family

kellie said...

I think "Looking for real action" has a great point.

"The district has shown time and again an ability to misjudge enrollment, and as I understand it, the Eckstein mitigation is based, in all or part, on proactive parental action. This seems like an approach based on wishful thinking to me, rather than taking real action to address capacity. A LOT of people have looked at this problem, and in the end, the SSD staff proposal, the FACMAC proposal and the majority-decision from PTA leaders was to open JAMS next year."

Mel, Would you be willing to start a new thread on what might make middle school capacity actually work (or at least less awful) for 2013 or 2014.

I think a lot of people are looking for something positive to do about this mess. I think that the generosity exhibited by Lori's post is typical. One thing I have learned time and again is that there is often someone out there with a fabulous idea.

Anonymous said...

Is there a historical number/percentage of kids who leave SPS after 5th grade for middle school?

I just added up the number of 5th graders in the Whitman Service area vs the number they project to enroll at Whitman for 6th grade. The 6th grade number is 15% lower than the current 5th graders.

I then did the same thing for the Eckstein area and again the 6th grade number is 15% lower than the current 5th graders.

I thought more students opted out for middle school?

NW family

Anonymous said...

When the first recommendation came out to shift Laurelhurst to Eckstein I wondered if it was a pro-active move to lessen the pain of the coming boundary changes.

Laurelhurst needs to grown and Bryant needs to shrink. And as their boundaries are adjacent...

I also wonder about the Green Lake boundaries. Green Lake is another school that needs to grow and as Bryant's western boundary neighbor, how much of Roosevelt and possibly Ravenna will be drawn into Green Lake?

And as a resident that lives at the joining points of Bryant, Ravenna and Wedgwood I do wonder how much of Roosevelt, Ravenna and Maple Leaf will be drawn into Wilson-Pacific. Will we walk the five blocks to Eckstein or take a city bus to Wilson-Pacific?

But, that is just me wondering. Initial communication from the District makes it sound like we won't see any boundary maps until Dec./Jan.

I don't know if it would be easier to quickly lift the veil just before an approval vote, or to give us a glimpse in the Fall and have many months of contentious community infighting like we experienced with the middle school decision.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

NEPAL: Regarding boundaries, below is a re-post of my comment on this Tuesday's open thread post.

"Two things:

It's interesting to me that the NE boundary conversation here has made no mention of the fact that BEX IV includes a 298 permanent seat expansion at Olympic Hills. I wonder why that is? In any event, that expansion should allow for the expansion of the OH boundary:

- To the southwest, taking in the current Olympic View boundary south to North 115th St.;

- And southeast, taking in the current Rogers boundary south to North 125th Street.

Regarding the boundary for the new NE/Thornton Creek elementary, it's not at all hard to imagine what it might look like. Consider it being composed of:

- Current Bryant boundary north of NE 65th and east of 29th Ave. NE, plus:

- Current View Ridge boundary basically west and NW of the Sand Point Country Club, and some part of the area west of 40th Ave. NE and south of of NE 75th, plus;

- Some portion of the Wedgwood boundary south/SE of the school campus.

This scenario gives the NE/TC school a patch of real estate about the same size as the current Bryant boundary, in a rough inverted "L" shape. If the student density is more or less constant across Ravenna/View Ridge/Wedgwood, it would enroll about 600 students K-5.

This scenario would give View Ridge or Bryant the option to take back some part of the western edge of the Sand Point boundary, if needed.
Sand Point is filling up fast.

Kellie posted a link to the Eckstein/feeder school map from the SPS website that makes it easy to do one's own boundary "what ifs".

- Wants the Full Story Discussed

Anonymous said...

"What can I tell my NNE neighbors, who are currently not exactly....fans... of the JA K-8 community and need some serious convincing."

Eckstein: Kids are not safe and can't get basic needs met reliably, like bathroom access and ability to eat lunch. Kids get hurt in the hallways just going to class. The general consensus of the Einstein community is great disappointment that they can't shed the NNE feeder schools quickly enough.

Jane Addams: Roomy, safe, School of Distinction, E-STEM, diverse, good reputation, involved community, parents go on and on about how much they love it

"By that logic we will never be able to start a new middle school anywhere ever."

Not true, future JAMS families are much more hopeful and excited about participating in the hiring of a principal and in the school planning and, post-boundary redefinition, having a larger feeder cohort to start JAMS 2014 successfully. The timing was the problem, not the idea of starting the school. Everyone recognizes the need for the school.

"It has to start some time, and if it's a neighborhood school it has to be the neighbors of that building."

No need to persuade, starting the much-need JAMS is happening in 2014 for sure. I haven't heard any resistance from the Jane Addams Community to either mushrooming or co-locating, as long as it can be well planned.

Anonymous said...

If they mushroom that makes taking the building for the middle school too complicated. The k-8 needs to remain able to be moved(either to JM then Pinehurst, or straight to Pinehurst). It's got to be a co-location, which also means there needs to be discussion about how to transition families who choose JA k-8 this year to JAMS the following year. A true interim plan, not something that further anchors the k-8 program to the building. Maybe this will all become clear soon.

I look forward to hearing from someone about a plan to recruit families which does not primarily involve demonizing Eckstein families.

People generally want a comprehensive middle school, but the one they were originally promised has been so neglected in planning that it is now a bust (I agree with you on that point, and that JA is roomy, about the size of Eckstein with half the students. Does it have a science lab? Is it easier to get advanced math classes or languages than either of the stuffed middle schools? I wonder if they could offer something musically, since that is what a lot of people were afraid of losing at JAMS). But so far people have gone anyway, NOT for status reasons but because it's the only comprehensive game around. If the plan is to get people to actually opt away, there has to be a plan, with particular steps and add ons that people can see. What is true about the k-8 has been true all this time, and it's growing like any new school, but not enough to help for next year as is. Where is the money going? It's got to be more than just a nice kitchen remodel.

I've talked to a lot of future JAMS families, and have come away with a very different impression than you are providing on here. Which seems perfectly plausible- there are a lot of stakeholders; no one talks to all of them, and we all get in our little bubbles. I wonder, though, if you are one, or if you are like many of the JA k-8 advocates just deciding to speak for them, especially when it suits your interests. Many of these people consider themselves "Eckstein" families, are friends with Eckstein families, and it seems an especial slap in the face to have been insulted all these months and then asked to send their children into the very community that has spent a year villainizing them and their motives. Maybe you think those people are just a lost cause, but since I also don't believe people go to Eckstein for something like "status," but for programs, teachers, and neighborhood friends. I think they could be persuaded with clarity. But that process is deeply hampered by trying to "otherize" Eckstein. Most people think Eckstein families are good people. Screaming otherwise says so much worse about you than them. The JAMS families I know think the JA k-8 community as-is is a con, but there are plenty of pros that could make up for it, especially if people could come en masse, participate for a year, and then transition to their own school.

I wish they had another option for a school to choose. Whitman? Is there TOPS capacity?

Fed up too (and signing off for the night)

Anonymous said...

I am a NE Seattle parent... If I had a fifth grader, I think I'd consider Jane Addams K-8, at least because of the overcrowding at Eckstein issue alone. If the parents are that disappointed with the one year plan and this vocal about it, it really must be packed there. You can always opt back into your neighborhood school when the K-8 leaves, right, if you prefer comprehensive or don't want to switch buildings? Since we're stuck with it, we should all give it a chance to work and try to be happy that we have choices, albeit limited, and that JAMS is coming and will be great in 2014. Let's focus on passing the levy and on smart boundaries and keep an open mind about increasing enrollment at K-8s.

- lots of options

Anonymous said...

By waiting a year will the district be offering 6-8 at JAMS in 2014, or just 6th? This is an important question for people with 2 students 2 years apart.

If JAMS will be 6-8 in 2014-15, I will be more likely to try out JAK8 next year, as I expect I'll be redrawn into the JAMS feeder zone. I don't want an 8th grader at Eckstein and a 6th grader at JAMS.

Weighing the options

Anonymous said...

I have never seen a child at Pinehurst walk with their head down in the hallways.
Do you remember those kids, especially in junior high/middle school?Were you one of the kids that walked that way?
Many of the children at our school came here because of painful experiences at other schools.
A small inefficient school, empowering and full of love.
We are dismissed out of hand, starved of support,avoided at all costs (busing to Salmon Bay).
Maybe you will remember us when your children all go to Mega schools with loads of enrichment(sounds like Eckstein). Enrichment isn't that what they do for animals at the zoo?

Tired of the Beat-Down

Charlie Mas said...

The time to build the new middle schools was with BEX III. No doubt about it. Unfortunately that levy came at exactly the same time that the state legislature was putting pressure on the district to close under-enrolled schools (particularly in the south-end), and it would have been way too impolitic for the District to build new schools in the north-end at the same time that they were closing schools in the south-end.

So no new, much-needed elementary and middle school capacity in the north-end was kept off of the BEX III project list. The re-opening of needed elementary schools (Sand Point and McDonald) was delayed by the same north-end/south-end politics. They were closing schools elsewhere and didn't want the political consequences of opening schools north of the Ship Canal.

If the state legislature had not be cutting education funding and had not be pressuring the District to close schools - mostly in the south end, then the District would not have been afraid to open needed schools in the north-end.

Anonymous said...

Charlie your background is factual but it also reads like an excuse and there should be no excuses for the district or the continuing board members - DeBell, Carr and MartinMorris here.

Staff and board spent years denying the crowding problem. Years. Then when they accepted it they did nothing more than start JAK8 (and then promptly backed away from that decision.)

And Carr "we must take action now?" Puhleese. Her public line as recently as 18 months ago was "don't go too fast, we can't overbuild." She said it multiple times in public forums. As for DeBell and MartinMorris they gave zero - ZERO - leadership in pushing staff forward to present program and space options.

They could have insisted on a long range program planning. They could have insisted on starting the Marshall and Cedar Park and Sand Point and Macdonald remodels earlier. They could have LED not LED TO FAILURE on the Thornton Creek mess. They could have given Pinehurst a path forward for the program and the building.

They could have done a lot. They did nothing but wring their hands. The tone in the NE is every bit as ugly as watchers expected it would get.

But the Lord of the Flies situation was brought about by a failure of leadership downtown. DeBell's stern lecture at the special meeting on Wed. that "Citizens Expect Us to Move Boldly Forward" was the biggest piece of baloney theater in quite some time. Yeah...he should have led the way when he was president of the board but he didn't. The crowding is mainly in MartinMorris' district and he did N-O-T-H-I-N-G for his whole first term except promise people a middle school would be coming. He let our community tear itself apart.

The whole thing is so shameful.

DistrictWatcher

PS And to promote slamming JAMS into being next year when Carr, MartinMorris and DeBell know full well that boundary changes will make a further mess of our community next year? That would have been throwing a steaming pile on top of the pile that has already been dealt. And they wouldn't have owned the transportation and sibling grandfathering problems that came with it. Hard to imagine, but those three along w/ our gelatinous quivering mass of facilities "planners" almost made things worse.

Rant over.

Melissa Westbrook said...

DistrictWatcher, that may have been a rant but it was a truthful rant. There was a lot of political theater the other night from people who don't really have a leg to stand on (given their past records as long-time directors). And yes,Carr has been on record as "go slow" on building so that we don't make mistakes.

And your point about the boundaries is the exact one I made. Let's have shared pain and not focus it on one small group of students.

Boundary changes will come soon enough, be widespread and painful but at least, everyone can be okay knowing EVERYONE else is sharing that pain.

It is my understanding that when JA MS opens, it will open as a full middle school and not a roll-up. I will check that.

Anonymous said...

Well said, District Watcher.

Melissa, I am newer to all this, having younger children - though I do remember some community meetings about 4 or 5 years ago when I still had preschoolers: Would it be naive of me to hope that KSB will be a stronger leader and that perhaps we might be about to turn a corner and get some stuff cleaned up? (So far, I am neutral but expecting to be disappointed on what I've seen of Banda.)


Also, massive shout out to Kellie for being right on all this, from what I can see.

Isn't it time for us to stop in-fighting and start putting serious pressure on the Board, District and city council? As I said on another thread earlier in the week, just think what we could achieve if we could pressure them and the legislative candidates, instead of arguing over the scraps they're feeding us at the moment.

-Maple Leaf Mama

Lori said...

Well, this post probably won't make me popular here, but I want to put it out there because I've been trying to follow the capacity issues for a few years too.

In June 2009, the Board directed the Superintendent to evaluate elementary and middle school capacity district wide. A June 17th memo describes it in detail. Here are some of the key points:

It appears clear at this point that additional elementary and middle school capacity will need to be added over the next five years; the evaluation contemplated by this motion will enable a thorough analysis of enrollment (including projected enrollment) in relationship to capacity. This analysis will identify options to increase capacity that staff can provide to the Board.

It is very likely that this analysis will result in the recommendation to open one or more buildings currently in the district closed building inventory. Closed buildings, including Wilson-Pacific, John Marshall, Old Hay, Sand Point, Viewlands and McDonald Elementary Schools will be analyzed for capacity, timeline and capital costs since there is significant interrelationship between drawing boundary lines for the new student assignment plan and the identification of what specific building(s) should be re-opened.

I [Sherry Carr] move that the Superintendent be directed to evaluate elementary and middle school capacity across the district and to make recommendations to add capacity, including opening one or more schools (including at least Wilson-Pacific, John Marshall, Sand Point, McDonald, Viewlands and/or Old Hay) if necessary. The evaluation of elementary school capacity, including any necessary board action, would be complete in time for dissemination of information prior to open enrollment for 2010—11 school year. The evaluation of middle school and K-8 capacity and facilities, including Jane Addams, will be included in the BEX IV capital program planning. Therefore, there would be no change to the Jane Addams K-8 program prior to completion of BEX IV levy planning in 2013.


So, back in 2009 the Board committed to no changes to JA K-8 before 2013. Well, it's 2013 now. And FACMAC worked for over a year to make its recommendations, which I believe consisted of recommending that JA K-8 be relocated and that Eckstein be geo-split to start JAMS in 2013.

The fact that the Board ignored this recommendation and refused to relocate JA K-8 does NOT mean that the situation has been ignored all these years. It simply means that many parents, community members, and Board directors didn't like the recommendations on the table, so we are back to square one. Just because it appears that nothing has been done, doesn't mean that nothing was done. Lots of work went on "behind the scenes" but all of those proposals were rejected.

Anonymous said...

Lori,

I'm curious because I believe Kellie's position - that even with opening these sites, we won't have enough capacity - is true...did FACMAC spend any time investigating or recommending that the District find more land or properties to build on beyond those mothballed sites? I'm thinking of the Lake City property, for example.

Because frankly, while I think we need more space yesterday, I do sympathize with the Thornton Creek NIMBYs who don't want a second school built on their space, ESPECIALLY because I believe that school needs to be further north (though I know that's not their reason for not wanting it there).

Also, are there other FACMAC recommendations that the board or district have rejected?

-ML Mama

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time for us to stop in-fighting and start putting serious pressure on the Board, District and city council?

Yes, definitely.

Charlie reminded me of a really important point I implore all to remember: We are in SPS, the biggest district in the state, in the biggest city in the state, and always the bulls-eye in the center of financial cutbacks. In many ways, we in Seattle represent what all those outside of Seattle hate, and moved to the burbs to avoid.

It is true the state pushed SPS to downsize it's underused space back in '06-'08, and my kids got tossed out of Lowell as a result, while others got it much worse, like the Cooper and Summit kids. While we adjusted as a family and community, it is the divide-and-conquer strategy the district employed back then still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, as did the thousands of comments in the Seattle Times which lauded MGJ for "finally showing those whiny Seattle liberals how a district SHOULD BE run," for example.

I sympathize for everyone involved and affected by what's going on in the NE, and it's all happening in my neighborhood too, which is damn-straight why Marty is now on the Board and Sundquist isn't. But the kids are still suffering in overcrowded schools throughout the City, while the Vulture Philanthropists and local Ed Reform lobby are licking their chops as they read the angry comments on this blog, smelling blood in the water and a crisis they can exploit under their Disaster Capitalism model, wherein capitalizing on pre-existing divisions saves them the time and work of creating them.

So, folks, bury the discord now. We are all in this together. Yes, there are winners and losers and it's easy for me to sound condescending to those in whose shoes I don't walk. But I have walked in them before, and I'm as frustrated as anyone at the incompetent, indifferent attitudes towards parents from those at JSCEE, who for whatever logic-defying reason, keep their jobs year after year.

As much of a problem as it is, we are better off having more demand than supply right now, rather than the other way around. The problem of yesteryear, with the choice system, was the perpetuation of bad leaders at schools people could simply avoid. Many of those are still in the system, and are as bad of a plague in some schools, even in good to great neighborhoods, causing more discord within communities and harm to kids and families than will a few years in limbo and/or uncertainty between schools. I'm sure it's no consolation to someone being sent to a school they don't want to be at, but the situation at JA, as an example, will be better for all if people work together, embrace the good things they have, and focus on building upward and forward, rather than resenting those who have it "better" at another school, and refusing to go along with decisions adverse to themselves.

I guess my point is, for those who feel they got screwed, keep in mind, it could be one hell of a lot worse. Stay engaged, keep up the pressure, and don't start throwing hand grenades into the system. There are too many enemies at the gate, ready to capitalize on your discord, and there are many other factors, such as poor principals and leaders remaining in the system that can ruin a school or make it a disaster for your child very quickly and defiantly than your neighbors at Hamilton or Eckstein.

Just my .02 based on my 2 kids 13 years in the system. WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

.02

I'd say you nailed it.

Anonymous said...

DistrictWatcher: I am one of the "gelatinous mass of quivering 'facilities planners' " you refer to here in your latest comment. I invite you to have a discussion with me about the district's planning process and efforts ... non-anonymously, in person, and free of juvenile name-calling. My contact information can be found on the SPS website.

Joe Wolf
K-12 Planning Coordinator
Seattle Public Schools

FORTUNATELY GONE said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FORTUNATELY GONE said...

This is the only good Vote that Marty McLaren has cast as Board of Director

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Meanwhile, let's all stop complaining about the decision the Board made last night and get on board with trying to make it work. The idea is to fill the option schools to relieve pressure…. Let's find out what's good about the K-8's and help with "recruitment" by spreading the positives. …Now that the K-8 appears to have more support from the district, it should be even more attractive to prospective families.

- No point in whining
2/1/13, 4:50 PM
Wow. Just Wow. Encourage people to go to the JA K8?? That’s great, maybe with some catnip?? Oh, you are talking about other peoples’ children, right? Not your own?
I’m sure the Jane Addams K8 will be ‘recruiting’ like crazy (as if they needed any incentive to do that), beating their chest to tell prospective families how amazing their award-winning program is, but regardless, it is completely unstable and likely to disintegrate the next year. So, you and the Board want us to ‘recruit’ IN GOOD FAITH someone else’s kid into this mess? Target naïve preschool parents or scared soon-to-be middle school parents who are looking for a ‘safe harbor’? Bump up the JA K8 numbers to what end? That campus is going to implode (what part of 17 portables did you not understand?), and there is no way I would in good faith tell any parent to put their child voluntarily into that, since clearly it is in the cross-hairs. Apparently, neither would the three K5s who were targeted to be forced to go there for the 6th grade, as clearly they fought tooth-and-nail not to go there. And yet, you now want to support the notion that they should go there, only ‘voluntarily’? You may mean well, but to me, that just comes across as mean. The Board declared the Jane Addams a middle school, the campus will be JAMS the September after next; it DIDN’T talk about it as being the place for a simultaneous K8 as well (which is telling). Which makes me think the K8 will be dissolved, promise or no promise. So, if anyone asks, tell them to not go to the JA k8 this year, it is not the year to pick it given the history of promises from the District, and, the elementary enrollment needs of the area: the new Pinehurst building will be needed as K-5 seats, the existing middle school building at Jane Addams is needed (and has been designated) as a middle school. Since I think everyone’s children deserves the same, I would tell them to pick Eckstein, with a known educational and extracurricular program. You seem to want other people’s children to endure the uncertainty and take their chances.

People should make their own personal decisions accordingly. And, with eyes wide open, they will be well-advised to either go with their attendance area K5s (or Thornton Creek as an option) or pick Eckstein, and duck the mess for at least this year. Anybody who thinks the K8 is going to land at Pinehurst either doesn’t know or doesn’t remember much history of this District’s program placement.

--continued below

-would you like rainbows with that unicorn?

Anonymous said...

As for the District staff, they were pummeled, PUMMLED by the JA K8 while most everyone else was asleep at the wheel. Do you really think that the majority of NNE parent of kids in kindergarten and second grade realize that they do not have a middle school to send their kids to? Do you really think they showed up in their representative numbers for the last 8 months to continuously lobby the District to ‘fix’ the problem and hire a phenomenal middle school principal NOW and make JAMS a reality NOW, because K8s are nice-to-haves, not have-to-haves? They didn’t, hence the problem. But, JA K8, to their credit, did. The District staff got squeezed in a vice-grip between them, Peaslee and the JA K8 principal. No other principal was advocating for their ‘middle school-lessness’ flock. Because, that is not their job, whereas, it certainly is the job of the K8 principal to advocate solely for her school, no matter how it affects that 11 other feeder schools and the existing comprehensive middle school in her middle school feeder pattern. This was a badly lopsided equation from the get-go, and anyone who keeps insisting that the JA K8 is powerless and downtrodden, well, you obviously weren’t there watching it unfold for all of these months.

Peaslee and KSB’s intent to direct Eckstein-bound incoming middle schoolers this year to either Salmon Bay, TOPS, and Pinehurst (RIP) was, at best, stupid, and at worst, manipulative and disingenuous. It was stupid because they HAVE NO ROOM AND THOSE KIDS WON’T GET TRANSPORTATION (anyone say, ‘elitist’??) (not to mention it disenfranchises the NW – they matter too!), and it was the worst because those schools have no room (or are being shuttered), so, they were knowingly suggesting a false premise. Michael DeBell stepped in and informed them of same. And you guys call him the bad one? Well, if being informed is a problem, then sure…

And lastly, JA K8 gets the $1M+ for a mitigation NOW? SWEET!! How’s that working for Broadview Thompson K8? I can’t believe the myopia that is going on here. We have to place portables for the Eckstein campus for 9 months, which then need to be removed the next year, when JAMS finally does get going? And you complain about planning?

Like I started with, Wow. Just wow.

-would you like rainbows with that unicorn?

Spruiter said...

First off, thanks to sped parent for the clarification on the MS SPED program at Jane Addams.

As a JAK-8 parent in my third year of working on school recruitment, I'd like to address a few of the questions that have come up on this thread.

The JAK-8 elementary enrollment has been strong and getting stronger every year. MS enrollment has been slower to gain traction, partly because of its small size (2 classes / grade until this year - when we added a third class at 6th grade), and partly because of the uncertainty surrounding the school's future. Despite this, the program has continued to grow - at all levels.

Assuming the levy passes, there is now more certainty, particularly for prospective middle school families. Middle schoolers choosing Jane Addams K-8 for 2013 do so knowing that there will be a comprehensive middle school in the building the following year (whether the K-8 program is there or not). I would expect that any current JAK-8 middle schooler would have the choice of attending either program at that point. That is actually a lot more stability than others can expect in the NE for middle school right now.

Regarding the program size, with a third or fourth (or potentially fifth if there is enough demand) section at sixth grade next year will come more budget for electives and more scheduling flexibility. Jane Addams K-8 already offers drama, art, MESA, orchestra, band (2 levels), Environmental Science and Spanish as electives. We also offer algebra, and students who are ready can take geometry at Nathan Hale. We have already begun discussions about adding a second foreign language and I am very confident that will happen next year. We do offer a MS after school activities program (including a Friday Ski bus), although because of funding issues it was slow to get off the ground this year. The JAK-8 PTSA is already talking about taking this program on to make sure that there will be an organized and comprehensive program for middle schoolers next year (the PTSA already runs an elementary program, but the MS program is not currently managed by the PTSA).

So while a K-8 may not be the right choice for everyone, I encourage anyone interested in learning more about your options (for elementary or middle school), to come to one of our tours and see for yourself what Jane Addams K-8 has to offer. I’ll even list the dates again, so you don’t have to scroll up:

Daytime
Feb 13, 8:30-10:30
Feb 21, 8:30-10:30
Feb 27, 9:30-11:30
Mar 5, 9:30-11:30

Evening
Feb 13. 6:30-8:30. All k-8
Feb 28. 6:30-8:30 Middle School only

Anonymous said...

NNE k5 and Eckstein Tour Info:

K5s


John Rogers

Kindergarten tours – Wed. January 23 and Tue. February 19 at 9:15 AM.
Prospective John Rogers parents are invited to a guided tour of our school. Meet the Principal, the PTA and current parents. Contact the Kindergarten Tour Coordinator, Kristina Bartelson, at thegalley@hotmail.com with any questions.


Olympic View

Tour and Open House already done. Contact school to arrange or PTA president with questions:
OV Phone Number: Main Office: (206) 252-5500
Kathleen Zagers, OV PTA President, kathleenzagers@msn.com


Sacajawea

Sacajawea Open House Schedule
Come visit our wonderful school! We're offering an Open House to prospective parents on the following date: Wednesday, February 13, 5:30 - 6:30. Hear presentations from Principal Barry Dorsey and our Kindergarten teachers, and then join our school community during our annual Math & Science Fair. Questions? Call the school office: 206-252-5550.


Olympic Hills

Zoe Jenkins, Principal
Olympic Hills Elementary
Seattle, WA (206) 252-4300
zjenkins@seattleschools.org


Thornton Creek Elementary School

Open house and school tours
In 2013, open enrollment for Seattle Public Schools runs from Monday, February 25, through Friday, March 8. To assist your decision-making, the staff and parents at Thornton Creek School cordially invite you to take a tour of our wonderful school or attend an open house. You will have an opportunity to hear from principal John Miner, see some classrooms, and meet parents who can speak to the culture of Thornton Creek.
Daytime tours
The daytime tours will start off with a brief introduction about the school from principal John Miner, followed by a brief question and answer session. Parent volunteers will then lead small groups in touring the school and visiting some classrooms.
When arriving for a tour, please check in at the table set up near the main office. Since school is in session and it can be very distracting to the classrooms, we ask that children not come with parents on the daytime tours. Thank you for your consideration.
Tours begin at 9:30 a.m. and end at 10:45 a.m. Tour dates are as follows:
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Monday, March 4, 2013
Evening open house
The evening open house will include a brief welcome from the general and special education kindergarten teachers, an introduction to the school from principal John Miner, and a question and answer session. Visitors will also have an opportunity to tour a few classrooms and talk with current parents.
The open house will be held on:
Thursday, January 31, 2013 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Comprehensive Middle School:

Eckstein

Incoming Student Info Night
Date: 2/21/2013 (7:00 PM - 9:00PM)
Calendar: Eckstein Middle School (General)
Description: 5th graders and their families are invited to join us for an informational night if they are considering attending Eckstein in the 2013-14 school year.

-because Unicorns aren't for everyone

Anonymous said...

To add to the above tour/open house info:

John Rogers is having a Kindergarten Open House and Math/Science Night, Feb 13th, 6:30-7:30 PM.

-JR Mom

Benjamin Leis said...

I appreciate the last few constructive posts.
Thanks

Robyn said...

NW APP middle school at McClure and NE APP middle school at new JAMS starting with this year's 4th graders.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rainbows, you sound very upset and so upset that I suspect you work in the district and are not a parent. You make some pretty big statements so let's go through them.

1) You say about JA K-8, "it is completely unstable and likely to disintegrate the next year" and it's a "mess". There is zero evidence of that except that yes, if the district moves it around repeatedly, it will become unstable (like Pinehurst). If you would like to make a bet with me on the continued existence of JA K-8 over the next five years, I'll take that bet.

2) I get your unhappiness with K-8s. I think we have too many and I think too many parents do not understand that a K-8 cannot be both small and have the huge programs of a comprehensive. Director DeBell has said this repeatedly and something needs to change on this front. But we're not getting rid of them just because you don't like them.

3) Peaslee offered a suggestion. It is not enforceable in any way. But the key to understand, this is a ONE-YEAR plan. One year. And then JA will be JA MS. And Eckstein will get its breathing room. Consider that if you, as a parent make this the end of the world, your child will think of it that way as well. Consider what busing was like in the '70s for many SPS students.

4) No one here said Michael DeBell was a "bad" person. He isn't.

5)That some parents were "asleep at the wheel" while JA K-8 parents (who have everything in the world to lose and so it behooved to them to keep up) is not anyone's fault. I have always advocated for regional councils for our district just SO parents in each region would know what is going on. Something to consider for the future.

But to think that JA K-8 parents are anywhere near as powerful as the parents at Eckstein is laughable.

6) That mitigation money for JA is for JA MS. JA K-8 will see little to none of the benefit of what gets spent as it is for JA MS. Pegi McEvoy told me this when I question the dollars. And yes, just as was stated a week ago when the rec was to stay steady for one more year, Eckstein and Hamilton will see mitigation dollars.

suep. said...

@ Lori,re:

(...)In June 2009, the Board directed the Superintendent to evaluate elementary and middle school capacity district wide. A June 17th memo describes it in detail. Here are some of the key points:

It appears clear at this point that additional elementary and middle school capacity will need to be added over the next five years (...)

I [Sherry Carr] move that the Superintendent be directed to evaluate elementary and middle school capacity across the district and to make recommendations to add capacity, including opening one or more schools (including at least Wilson-Pacific, John Marshall, Sand Point, McDonald, Viewlands and/or Old Hay) if necessary. (...)


Unfortunately the Jun 17, 2009 memo you cite merely underscores the utter idiocy and shortsightedness of the board members who voted to CLOSE schools just five months earlier on Jan 29, 2009, in support of Goodloe-Johnson's "Capacity Management" plan, which helped get the district into the capacity crisis it is currently in.

Who cast those costly and damaging votes to close and split schools, evict thousands of kids (and dissolve Summit K-12 into Jane Addams K-8)? Sherry Carr, Michael DeBell, Steve Sundquist, Peter Maier, and Cheryl Chow.

(And over the objections of parents district-wide: Petition to
SAVE SEATTLE SCHOOLS -
We Deserve a Better Plan
)

mirmac1 said...

I agree suep,

At the risk of being obvious "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it"

As I recall, DeBell, Carr and HMM were around for years (two from at least 2008). Yet some would hang the neglect of central managers, who are supposed to deal with these issues, on a few directors, some who have been in office one year.

How do the Eckstein-ites know that the Imperial Forces at JAK-8 somehow beat down district resolve? I've been to enough board meetings where I have heard enough complaints how those "other" kids need to go somewhere else...!

Anonymous said...

As a newbie to this forum and a parent of 5th graders, I wonder if it is possible to split this discussion between the (political) process, and the likely practical effects (for those of us trying to sort through our options for the coming year of two)?

For example, nowhere in this thread do I see any mention of the question of Thorton Creek kids having priority at Salmon Bay...

Thanks,

APPcurious

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of the "get rid of those other kids" argument. As an Eckstein parent, my number one short-term concern is safety, and those hallways are not safe. If the district/board members are wrong about having an increased amount of kids choosing option schools, then they need to do something next year to make the hallways safer with the adult sized kids barreling down those hallways. Otherwise, they are risking possible serious injury and a lawsuit. I don't care where the kids live, I care about the number of kids in the hallways

Sick of my kid being bounced around in the hallways

Melissa Westbrook said...

APPCurious, TC going to Salmon Bay is an outgrowth of the lack of planning and program focus.

Many schools get started and the district doesn't think about what happens in middle school and then high school if parents want to continue that focus. TC believe Salmon Bay better aligns with their program than say Pinehurst or JA K-8.

However, we seriously do not have the money to bus them over to Salmon Bay. I myself believe this preference is wrong and should stop especially with the capacity issues we have. But I believe they have it yet another year.

Sick, I think the district needs some real ideas and thinking about the issues at Eckstein. I recall being worried about this when my son was there (and the then-superintendent unilaterally installed 100 extra kids and I was told by a Board member that those kids had been "wronged" by not being admitted in the first place).

kellie said...

@ Mel and APP Curious,

The TC to Salmon Bay issue is much more complex than this.

1) It is a sign that even one class of kids out of Eckstein to the NW is a win. That is huge indication of what a mess Eckstein is. In December, TC was told the preference was over and to let it go - and they were willing to. But the capacity heated up and at one point, I almost expected SP to give a preference to the entire NE to Salmon Bay. (Yes, Eckstein needs and deserves that type of relief)

2) There is no extra or special bussing costs. The preference was passed each year to be clear that nothing other than the transportation standards are applied.

3) This is a lesson in know your history and how well intended promises just disappear. The middle school at Salmon Bay used to be NOMS - New Options Middle School. In a capacity management move of years ago. NOMS was forced to co-locate with COHO because the Monroe building was no longer needed as an interim building. For years, there were two separate parent groups.

4) TC is attached to the program because NOMS was started by a group of AE2 parents long ago. There is a deep attachment in both directions on this connection. When COHO and NOMS were merged there was a promise of a permanent preference. That preference all of a sudden changed to a year to year vote as part of the NSAP and capacity issues.

5) History is history and the preference will eventually disappear like so many other promises. Like leave Pinehurst alone 5 years to rebuild.

The current system is under tremendous pressure and I don't expect all promises to be kept. However, I do believe in transparency on all of these issues.

Sometimes, things are complicated and it is OK for the district to say so. In the absence of transparency, people are left to draw whatever conclusion they can.

Anonymous said...

The whole point of NSAP was for kids to attend schools in their neighborhood ... I think TC was lucky to get the year-to-year extension in each of the transition plans.

**I almost expected SP to give a preference to the entire NE to Salmon Bay. (Yes, Eckstein needs and deserves that type of relief) **

So what do families in the NW deserve?

NW family

Anonymous said...

Let's have a little reality check here about this vote.

Looking for Real Action says "A LOT of people have looked at this problem, and in the end, the SSD staff proposal, the FACMAC proposal and the majority-decision from PTA leaders was to open JAMS next year."
This is not entirely true. SSD staff had recommended waiting until 2014 as recently as a week before the vote. They got leaned on by someone (Director DeBell perhaps?) to change their recommendation. I don't have direct knowledge of what exactly FACMAC recommended, but my understanding was that it was basically "open JAMS sooner than later". And mind you, FACMAC is disproportionately weighted with folks from the VR/Bryant/Ravenna areas, so their recommendation is therefore biased and must be taken with a grain of salt. As for the "PTA Summit" that took place, the resulting letter, signed by most of the PTA Presidents actually was a proposal around supporting the opening of JAMS in 2014. Here is the pertinent line from the letter:
"As part of the current STCM plan, we request that SPS take action now, with a board vote, to ensure that a new comprehensive Jane Addams Middle School (JAMS) can be opened successfully and thoughtfully in 2014-2015 in the Jane Addams Building."

At the beginning of this process, the goal was basically to figure out the path to 2017 when both JAMS and WPMS were to be open. At least one possible plan was to wait until 2017 to begin the roll-ups or geographical splits of both. Certainly this would have been the "ideal" for JAK8, as it would leave them alone in their building until the Pinehurst building was ready for them in 2017. Then, the district began to get an earful, and rightfully so, from parents about the overcrowding at Eckstein and that it wasn't sustainable until 2017 and that the timeline needed to be moved up. The fact that JAMS will now open in 2014 means that Eckstein parents WON that battle. Relief is coming in 2014. Yes, JAK-8 advocated mightily for their school, also rightfully so. They have a good program going and don't want to see it killed. 2014 opening of JAMS in co-location with JAK-8 certainly wasn't the K-8's first choice. In the end, rather than overreacting to the Eckstein problem and creating a different problem, the end result is a very reasonable compromise. And I didn't hear any of the four board members who voted to wait say anything about doing it to appease the K-8. They did it because there were serious doubts and concerns about the quality of education that was going to be offered to the 150 kids from JR, Sac, and Oly Hills, as well as the fact that those families were unfairly blindsided with the proposal of a 2013 JAMS at a very late date. This vote looked to deal with the Eckstein and Hamilton problems, but also protect the kids from the three elementary schools from being placed in some social experiment. So everyone from Bryant/VR, or wherever, please take a deep breath and realize that you DID win something. Your voices WERE heard. The new middle schools will be here significantly before 2017, even though it is a more complicated process with co-location and all. This was not a big victory for JAK-8, and they certainly aren't the power base in all of this. Maybe nobody got exactly what they wanted. But it was a pretty good shot at trying to look out for everyone.

-Keeping them honest

Anonymous said...



Kellie, NW Family, Melissa and APP curious:

I was surprised to learn that for the last three years, the Thornton Creek to Salmon Bay middle school preference has included transportation. Last year’s inclusion of a shuttle for NE students was slightly more transparent as the assignment plan strikes out the no transportation language and refers to the transportation standards (which describe a shuttle). Prior to that, however, Harium MM’s annual amendments all have “no transportation” bolded and yet transportation was given.

So Kellie there have been “extra or special bussing costs.”
NW Mama 2

mirmac1 said...

Thank you Keeping Them Honest for the history and the clarifications.

kellie said...

A blog is a strange place to try to have complicated nuanced conversations.

Over 10 years, I have had many conversations about how capacity issues impact everyone. Some people believed me but most didn't.

My first conversation with the district was about what seemed to me to be a tiny isolated equity issue. I was in the last two blocks of the NE cluster and nobody on my block could go to our reference school. I thought this was just a small obvious easy to fix issue.

You may think your issue in the NW is clean and simple. It is not, the NW will very soon have the same capacity issues as the NE and West Seattle.

There are 5200 3rd, 4th and 5th graders north of the ship canal. No matter how you slice it, they don't fit into any of the current middle school configurations. Big changes are coming.

If any other district was growing by 1400 students per year, there would be assistance from the State. But for ancient reasons, Seattle is just not eligible for this money and expected to solve this problem alone.

Capacity problem impact everyone.

Lori said...

Kellie and others, this will be a naive question, but Representative Gerry Pollet (46th LD) was at the capacity meeting at Olympic Hills in December. He basically asked the district personnel who were there to tell them what they need.

Reading between the lines, it made me wonder if the district is not doing a good job trying to ferret out money from every possible source. When a state representative comes to a community and asks for a request, it seems like maybe money might be available but no one is asking? Could that be true? Has the district not made its case to our folks in Olympia?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the TC to SB point that I made about transportation:

I’ve given up on the TC to SB preference being unfair and out-dated. I realize that it is a way to reduce the burden on the NE. My point, however, is that it seems very dishonest and problematic to have the Board vote yes on an amendment that says “No Transportation” in bold and then have transportation provided. My point is not about capacity issues, but about transparency and honesty. Why can they (not sure which they it even is – District staff, the board?) do that?

NW Mama 2

Anonymous said...



One more point about the TC preference to Salmon Bay; of the current 5th grade TC students interested in looking at Salmon Bay for middle school, 1/3 to 1/2 of them currently live in the NW service area. That's right; they leave the NW service area to attend school in the critically crowded NE and most of them receive transportation. And I have never thought to begrudge them at all.

It needs to be said.

kellie said...

@ Lori,

Gerry Pollet was at the Olympic Hills meeting at the invitation of a parent who really felt that the legislature needed to involved. Because of the many parents that have been contacting their elected officials some of these elected officials are beginning to take a look at things.

I can't speak to what the district is asking of the Legislature. However, I do know that the legislature is infinitely more responsive to voters than institutions. A large number of requests from parents for Olympia to find a way to help is much more persuasive than a district request.

kellie said...

@ NW Mama,

You have a partial story. Prior to the NSAP, TC was a North and NE cluster school so the upper grades represent a wide variety of zip codes, like many other schools. Post NSAP, TC is NE school. Post Geo-Zone is it is now very close to a neighborhood school. The younger graders are full of families from the geo-zone.

Anonymous said...

... and nobody here is even mentioning this year's attempt to boot out the autism inclusion program from the Salmon Bay middle school. This is the oldest autism inclusion program in the district and the district inexplicably tried to kill it. They even gave the teacher a pink slip. The only word on why they tried to kill it, was there was no demand. People were assigned to Broadview Thompson instead. But, it's pretty obvious that was done so that other people could have access to their seats. The whole thing was absurd. People were told there was no demand for the program. That was obviously false. Everyone who applied for it was put on a waiting list. Many were given the same wait list number. How can you have multiple people who are "number 3 on the waitlist", and then also tell people there was no demand for it? Guess what. Now it's completely full. It's a small world and that plan failed.

With guaranteed assignments for all other students, you can no longer simply boot out the special education. That game of musical chairs is over now too.

-SpedWonk.