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Saturday, February 02, 2013

If Anyone Wants to Talk...

I am hearing rumblings of a large-scale fight against BEX based on the interim plan vote.

Anyone who wants to talk with me about this before I release details, I'm happy to talk with you.  But understand, as someone who KNOWS about opposing a levy, you might want to give this a lot of thought.  And especially if it will come off as people opposing the levy for reasons that do not cover all the district. 

You can contact me at sss.westbrook@gmail.com.  

66 comments:

Watching said...

It is also worth noting that the district must close a $16M funding gap for the 2013-2014 school year. Further compounding the problem, it is quite possible the Feds will cut back millions of dollars in Title I funding.

Additionally, although the state may fund K-12, the district still will loose dollars on full day K. Why? The state will raise the FRL threshold and the dollars given to the district will be less than is presently being paid by parents.

The upcoming levy will fund 25% of district operations. Our schools are dreadfully over-crowded. We really need these funds.

This is an expiring levy..not a new one.

It is simply unrealistic to satisfy everyone.

I'm really hoping not to see knee-jerk reactions in opposing this levy. Our kids will suffer.

Watching said...

I meant to say "Although the state may fund full day K, it will not cover the costs of full day K."

Anonymous said...

Jesus. People are really that stupid, arrogant and blinkered that they'd try and destroy much needed funds because JAMS isn't opening until 2014 - which was the District's proposal until just a few days before the final vote took place?

Who are these people? Why are they being so selfish? If they are NE people resenting JAK8, how do they feel about Bagley, Arbor Heights, etc?

Time to think of the big picture, folks, and the big picture is our kids' education is at stake.

-flibbertigibbet

Anonymous said...

You mean the 700 people who signed the petition about *the soccer fields* and the group headed by the person who was named in the Seattle Times article on the levies and the people who have been showing up to the Directors' coffee chats for the last 8 months, on and off, to highlight that perspective? They are organized and have not waivered since the Thornton Creek new school was listed. They alone registered a complaint during the master planning process. I assume you are talking about them because they've been fairly high profile. I'm not naming names in case I misunderstand your writing, it's not that clear to me what you are getting at.

In any event, I would expect some opposition, based on a variety of reasons, some rational, some irrational, some spiteful, some valid, some invalid, some based on misunderstanding/confusion, and some because lots of folks are upside-down on their mortgages, so as much as they support schools, they feel they simply can't afford to continue to pay the tax. It is just how democracy works. I wouldn't single out any one particular group for a public shaming, not that you would. I just accept that that is how democracy works, the majority (levy=simple majority, thank goodness!) rules, and the minority, even if it is 49.99% of the voters who voted, must accept the outcome. Hopefully whoever prevails (go BEX IV!) is gracious, and which side looses is equally gracious.


--just vote: voting=good!

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, just vote, it's yet another person who is part of a larger group. It's not about TC at all (and the e-mail I saw doesn't even mention it).

The issue is that if you have an organized opposition (either underground or out in the light of day), it can be problematic.

I know very well (and thank goodness) that most Seattle folks vote in our levies. But that someone would oppose a levy based on what is happening in their very small slice of a region strikes me as not very big-picture.

CT said...

This is a whiny, "I'm going to take my toys and go home so no one can play with them since I didn't get my way" type of person. Pathetic. So make everyone suffer because something didn't go your way. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those thinking about voting against the levy. Contrary to the awful suggestions here, it is not a knee jerk reaction, or a "take my toys and go home" reaction. I've been debating it for months, regardless of which way the final vote on the JA MS went. (Yes, I do have an impacted child, but we're not hysterical over this issue.) I am just thoroughly disgusted by SPS, and their utter failure to plan. This last issue with JA MS was really over the top. The ugliness, the pitting schools against each other, the 11th hour changes, the whipsaw willy nilly approach. I feel like no one is really steering the ship. We are an APP family, but I have deep ties to my neighborhood, my community, my friends, and we are all impacted. I also have serious concerns about handing over this blank check to a group who has traditionally mismanaged and lost millions of dollars in the very recent past. Yes, I am aware how dire the situation is. Do we just vote yes on levies no matter what, no matter how poorly the money will be used, with zero oversight and by the same incompetent people who sold QA high for pennies on the dollar? My question, which I am researching, is what if this fails? Because if it means a year of serious pain (school in shifts, etc) and thus a REAL spotlight on this issue, not just on this blog, but by all media and by those parents who don't follow SPS issues here, i think it will be worth it. I wrote the school board this same sentiment - get your house in order, or I will vote against the levy. Not "vote this way for my kids school issue or I will vote against." Clean house. Fire people. Hire people in those vacant positions (Teaching and Learning?) Follow the rules on program placement. Show me a real plan for this district, then I'll give you the money. I've seen too many broken promises by the district, and too little planning, despite years of warnings. If it fails, they'll have to try again in a few months or a year - this might be acceptable to me. So you can tell me I'm just hurting the kids, but in my mind, if I vote against, I'm doing it for the kids.

I will write you offline Melissa, if you like, with my name. I don't want to inspire the vitriol here.

-Rare commenter

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Do we just vote yes on levies no matter what, no matter how poorly the money will be used, with zero oversight and by the same incompetent people who sold QA high for pennies on the dollar?"

I get this but why now? This has been the case for years and I find it interesting that people have chosen this time and this levy to publicly say no.

That's what bothers me.

And how would you propose they "get their house in order?" What should be done differently? I have my own ideas but I'm not the one saying "vote against the levy."

You can't fire the entire staff - is that rationale or reasonable? We have had tremendous leadership overturn at the top.

It's a little painful to hear this after years of being marginalized and derided for such a stand. Again, what is different now? Or is it just that after years of Charlie and me ( and many others) saying this that people are finally waking up?

Rare, please do write. I would be interested in what you have to say (and, of course, would not repeat your name here).

Anonymous said...

My guess: the sentiment is to have the levy fail then in going back to the drawing board, have a redo of the JAMS decision and a public scolding of the 4 board members who voted for it.

I doubt it will work. No time in a week for the anti-levy crowd to get enough votes to overturn a majority. Voting has already begun. A simple majority "yes vote" in a special election for schools is a relatively easy target to hit. That's why the vote is done in a special election...a smaller voting base with more voters inclined to take the time to vote yes.

I am not castigating those who want to force change through a vote. That's what voting is for. But I don't think it will be an effective tactic and runs the risk of burning bridges with the same board members and staff that the "anti-levy" sentiment will have to keep working with directly as soon as next year regarding staffing, boundaries, etc.

EdVoter

John S said...

If you like how things are going now, you'll LOVE it if the levy fails. The district will be in emergency mode, and the compromises will be even harder when they submit a revised levy. (Here's a hint: They'll reduce the dollar amount.) I hope you like portables.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Why now? Well this is the levy we have right now. I don't think it's ever been this bad. So I guess some people are just waking up. I've been following along here, and then talking to some friends who are also APP. Sadly, most of them didn't even know what was happening. I think like most parents, they are just going to work, sending their kids to school, and assuming all is fine. It is only an active few that know what is going on. If you say the name Pegi McEvoy to most parents, they won't know who that is. The only info that comes to them, is via an email from the PTSA, if they've even signed up for that. And even those many people ignore - 4/5 of those are about ice skating, pumpkin carving, recycle teams, and drop off parking instructions. So don't be too hard on those who aren't following along.

I'm sorry if you feel you've been saying this for years, but don't feel stung, feel like people are finally listening. You have been a great resource for me!

I do have ideas about who to fire downtown and who to hire. No, not the whole staff. But Bob V. would be a good start. Also, a few demographers. And I would insist on filling Teaching and Learning and really overhauling SpecEd.

Will write more offline.

Rare commenter

Anonymous said...

@EdVoter-
I'm confused. Voting to wait a year on JAMS was the least expensive option, according to the district's budget projections. I don't see how the levy failing would force a do-over on that vote. If anything, it could mean no money to open a new middle school at all. So then we all limp along in existing over-crowded buildings and move to discussions of shifts and year round school to solve capacity problems. Am I missing something?

Melissa- Is this what we are talking about? People disenchanted with the JAMS vote?

-I don't get it

Anonymous said...

@ I Don't Get It -

The theory, if disaffected Eckstein parents is the group pushing things behind the scenes, is that the district would look at why the levy failed, note that parents were upset about JAMS, and do something more proactive @ Eckstein in a levy put back on the table. It's politics, not $$, that would drive any redo.

It's pretty textbook political theory, but again, I'd be highly surprised if it were effective. As much as the NE is wrapped up in a gawdawful problem, it is only one piece of the voting populace. There is little organized anti-levy sentiment elsewhere.

People want facilities for their students to be built/upgraded. They may nod their heads about perceived district incompetance...but then check the "yes" box on their ballots anyhow. It has been happening for years, and in cases with far more widespread disaffection for the district than exists right now. (Past operating levy passed despite the Goodloe-Johnson/Silas Potter front page headlines debacle.)

IMHO this is one reason why district dysfunction has existed for a long time. Even when things aren't working downtown, the local money comes in...

EdVoter

Give me a break said...

Rare Commenter wants the house to be cleaned. Are you kidding?? The house HAS been cleaned. The superintendent responsible for giving away millions of dollars in properties and incompetence was fired. The voters replaced two board directors. Administration HAS been cleaned of high level ineffective members of the cabinet.

Does anyone care that we live in an earthquake area and our kids are in those old buildings??

Anonymous said...

Honestly, if the Transition Plan for 2013-14 had been passed with north-end kids assigned to a non-existent middle school at Jane Addams for 2013-14, the only school district that would have benefited from this decision would have been Shoreline Schools. They would have profited by the intra-district transfers, and the State dollars that travel with those students.

Plan a real middle school for 2014-15, and SPS stands a good chance of keeping those dollars. Seems like a pretty smart move to me.

-North End Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't feel stung; I'm mildly amused. Also, yes, it has been this bad before in the district but in other ways. Choosing when to pay attention doesn't necessarily make it the worst time. It's just the worst time you are aware of.

Don't get it, I am waiting to release the e-mail I saw but yes, it appears to be about the JAMS vote. It speaks broadly about "leadership issues" but then only notes the issues around Eckstein.

I would warn folks that if APP and Eckstein's names get attached to this effort, it could backfire. You might want to consider that.

Also, if whoever is pushing this thinks they can just send out a mass e-mail and get that vote done, good luck. Because one, I now know so it will not be some secret effort and two, a campaign is not done via e-mail.

I can guarantee you that if the levy fails, there will still be NO revote on JAMS. No way.

Anonymous said...

But Melissa, what I don’t doubt is the sincerity of their expressed opinion, that this levy was too problematic for them to just sit on their hands, so to speak, and vote yes.

I recall 3 years ago, you came to my children’s school, and spoke to our PTA general meeting about how we should vote no on a levy, and certainly, there is no one *more* pro-education than you! Your dogged service, thousands of hours, and outreach effort (including this blog!) are indicative of your commitment and community-mindedness. Your impassioned plea at the time, to vote no, I did not take as a nasty betrayal, I took it as a sign of your deep commitment. Just as I take rare commentator’s ‘vote no’ comments here at face value, and not see it as a whiny attack of someone who is taking toys off the table because he/she didn’t get his/her way. I respectfully submit that it runs much deeper than that.

Surely we have the space to agree to disagree (obviously we do - you are always clear about that). And ultimately, it is not about whether BEX passes the first time, it is whether BEX passes. I fear Mercer Island was a shade of things to come, that was far before any of the BEX controversies bubbled to the surface.

The biggest crisis in SPS is in West Seattle, and they are getting mitigated right now with the underspend from previous levies (yes, this District was *efficient* in its most recent building efforts!!). So one way or another, Schmitz Park will be alright, and that is the community I care most about, not because I live in that attendance area, or even geographic region, but because that is the community hurting the most right now.

I appreciate your blog for the airing of different points of view. I loathe echo chambers. And, if someone posts why they are contemplating voting no, that just gives us ‘yes’ voters a chance to reply with facts to potentially convert that no to a yes. So, I say, keep it coming, all points of view, and, please do consider voting yes to BEX despite its imperfections!

-just vote: voting=good!

Anonymous said...

I am voting no because this district is not in control, has no plan (hasn't for years) nor are the children/students their primary focus. This district is run to give the adults jobs not educate adults. Big change needs to happen and I am voting with my dollars this time.

-Long gone

Anonymous said...

ooops meant
- This district is run to give adults jobs not educate children.

-Long gone

suep. said...

I believe people are entitled to their opinion about the levies and how to vote on them.

I just hope that no one is pretending to represent an entire community with a campaign that really amounts to the opinions of just one or a few people.

kellie said...

I have said this many times, the issue is that we have a $2 Billion facilities issue and a $700 Million levy. That means about only 1/3 of the issues are addressed. Period.

I honestly believe that $700 Million is truly the max Seattle voters should be asked to pay for this. There is State and Federal money specifically designed for growing districts and we should be trying to fill the gap with those funds.

As for cleaning house, this is the house that was cleaned post MGJ and it took much longer than three months. There are are some very good people and some truly exceptional talent in Capital planning at the moment. I would much rather work with the current team and anyone who ever tried to have a capacity conversation with Brad Bernatek would agree with me.

It took decades to make this problem. Many of the issues are the after affects of desegregation programs and a generation of suburban out migration. This is a complex urban planning issue and it won't be solved with one levy vote -either yay or nay.

10 years ago I went to my first meeting to say the district was growing, not shrinking. To say, I looked foolish is mild.

5 years ago, Meg did the most elegant analysis of the problem, I have ever seen, showing the nuances of student in-flow and out-flow. Almost nobody understood it.

Now today, there are more and more people who are getting more and more clear that this is HUGE issue that may take generations to work out.

I think everyone needs to vote their vote conscience. The folks that are opposing the levy because the TC school are doing so not because they are NIMBYs. They are doing it because many of those people lived through the closures in the 80s and they truly understand that sacrificing those fields to not solve the problem has repercussions for decades.

Anonymous said...

As someone else said, I think voting against this levy won't mean that we get a new levy to vote for, with different goals or better management. I think the signal SPS will get is that you have to manage without the money. Wasn't that the take home message in Mercer Island?

Any strong push against the levy is a killer. There are lots of people who only have the vaguest interest in the strength and health of the public schools and don't mind excuses to vote against paying more. Anyone who is planning on fighting the levy is playing a dangerous game if that result -- no more money -- isn't their ultimate goal.

What will no money mean for NE? (not a rhetorical question). Where would people see that going? I can see it going a number of different directions: crisis management(shift schedules, portables, cutting offerings, which could include K-8's, but also art, music, higher level science, math, special programs like APP, . . . .); cutting transportation; charter pushes, . . .


zb

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Anyone who is planning on fighting the levy is playing a dangerous game if that result -- no more money -- isn't their ultimate goal."

Excellent point. Understand that yes, the district can bring the levy back but two things. One, it costs money and that'll come right out of the General Fund.

Two, if BEX loses, it will have a taint to it. The last time levies failed, it took several tries to pass again. Consider that.

Louise M said...

Well the main reason I am considering voting no on the levy is I'm still spittin' mad that the words "downtown school" are on the list. With all the things the district needs to be doing, building a school downtown should not be on the table. I am still on the fence.

NW parent said...

Is this the same person who emailed the APP community to flood the board with emails and calls to start JAMS this year because APP *might* be moved again if it didn't? I'm glad I'm not on their list, I must say.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I believe that I've seen the email that you are describing, and I'd like to note that this individual is expressing their opinion as a parent within SPS, and is speaking to all other SPS parents. I don't find it to be a rallying cry for any one single school or community, and it would be wrong of us to ascribe this persons perspective to any organized group at this point.

Having read the email, I can see that this person is frustrated (as we all are), and they seem willing to make a drastic statement with their levy vote. Personally, I don't believe that a no vote on the Capital levy does anything to address the issues described, and I am voting yes. But, I appreciate their right to express their view.

Looking for real action

mirmac1 said...

Louise M

I'm not on the fence. I too am disgusted with the machinations behind the downtown school. Pegi McEvoy should hit the road, instead of being in charge of critical decisions re: facilities.

Likewise, I feel the way the Native American students at W-P are treated is unconscionable and I won't abide it.

Everyone vote their conscience.

Anonymous said...

I am voting no because of the TC school, because of reasons that it will be a long-lasting, expensive mistake that will negatively impact a huge number of regional families while not solving capacity problems and exemplifies the lack of planning that defines our "solutions."

MIND MADE UP

dj said...

Louise M, I am right there with you.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Give Me a Break. Earthquakes are real and really dangerous. We have a problem when the inevitable "big one" breaks on the subduction zone offshore and I don't want to have my kids or any kids dug out of the rubble in the aftermath. Policy squabbles are trumped by physical safety.
Tyrone

Anonymous said...

Reading Along says:

@ Mirmac: Are you saying that McEvoy was involved in something unseemly regarding the downtown school? If so, what is it?

If not, it seems as though you are sullying someone for no reason other than a general tear down.

I get a lot of information from this blog and I think it is fairplay to call out the super and board by name. Or calling out perceived departmental incompetance or ridiculous inconsistencies? Fine. But piling on a district employee by name with no specifics attached? It's troubling. Not asking for sweetness, but a little less namecalling vitriol would be great unless you've got some facts.

And no, I don't know McEvoy.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Reading along,
My wife and I have followed McEvoy over most of the community meetings in the NE. She came over as well meaning but out of her depth. She constantly asked for community input but the results were constant thrashing. Look at the history of the plans provided by staff. They were introducing new ideas and dropping others right up to the deadline. We have no confidence she 'groked' the big picture and could offer a continual refinement of the plans. I hope she finds a position better suited to her skill set.

mirmac1 said...

I have this opinion based on the many emails between her and McGinn's staff and Holly Miller. During Enfield's last months of phoning it in, I see the city considered McEvoy the de facto supt, sharing with her Holly Ferguson's snarks and getting her on board with the whole downtown school giveaway. I see McEvoy shifting with the winds (like the events of the last week and a half), and not answering straightforward questions. Facilities and operations requires some degree of aptitude and experience. She doesn't have it and is purely political. I don't trust her with $600M.

Unknown said...

My Vote is No on the levy

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

I'm certainly no fan of the District. They have failed to plan and, when they have planned, they have planned badly. Their failures have been inexcusable.

I supported a NO vote on a supplemental levy as an appropriate protest. I cannot support voting no on either of these levies as a protest. The stakes are just too high.

Yes, the District gets a lot of things wrong, and we really talk about them. They also get a lot of things right - a whole lot of things. In fact, for all of the complaining I do, I have to admit that the District actually gets things right the bulk of the time.

I can quibble about how some of the levy money is going to be spent, but I agree with how they intend to spend the vast majority of it. So I voted for the levies. On the whole, I think they are good and necessary.

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing people bring up the Native American school at Wilson Pacific as a reason to vote against the levy. My cousin is Native American and has taught there and while she is elsewhere in the district now, she stays in contact. She says there are only about 30 students there and one teacher using online classes to teach. Most of the other students have shifted to the Mddle College at Northgate Mall. Does anyone know how many kids are at Wilson Pacific in the Native American program right now? I have to say, in talking to my cousin, other than the murals she doesn't really have any heartburn over moving the program.

HP

Maureen said...

Regarding the Wilson Pacific murals: I believe in this KUOW interview Greg Wong (Schools First president) said that they are planning to work with the artist to take digital photos of the murals and recreate them.

I've been to Wilson Pacific for various things over the years. The buildings are really a mess and the site has great potential.

Anonymous said...

Longtime Seattle school supporters struggle to back new levy
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Its-painful-Longtime-Seattle-school-supporters-struggle-to-back-districts-capital-plan-189586481.html
-News article

Anonymous said...

Here is what it says about the Native American program:

American Indian Heritage Middle College is located in the Wilson Pacific building near North Seattle Community College campus. All students are welcome at AIH where they receive individualized attention and support. The curriculum is mainly digital. Students earn a standard high school diploma while learning in a nontraditional setting. AIH offers a collaborative learning environment where students take ownership for their own learning. Working in partnership with community members, students are empowered to be successful in their academic studies and in discovering and fulfilling their life goals.

Curriculum is mainly digital. I have been told that they have one teacher.

HP

Jan said...

I am voting yes on both levies. I NEVER do this reflexively (well, I guess with the ops levy, I sort of do -- but not with capital levies). My biggest concern remains the TC issue, but frankly, I was so pleased by the decision last year to LISTEN to community voices on the imbalance between harm and benefit to trying to rush to open JA MS next year -- rather than the following year, that I am inclined to support what I think is the first vestige of thoughtful decisionmaking in years.

Was it late? Yes. This district is so unaccustomed to community involvement that NONE of their timelines allow for the kind of give and take that occurs when you REALLY ask for and want community input on decisions. So, it was again rushed at the end. I agree that they need to get the timing right (we needed this process launched 3 months earlier than it was. Still -- there was a time when the administration would have just announced the decision, ignored and belittled all evidence to the contrary, and been done with it. Think of Cooper. Think of NOVA. Think of the co-housing at Lowell that led to kicking APP out in about 2 years. It is getting better, but it is not a painless process.

Unknown said...

Following up on what Jan said, considering the dysfunction of the last decade, there are no quick fixes. A dysfunctional culture isn't changed overnight, and it starts with a board that has its head screwed on right and a Super who can listen while placating/resisting the powerful downtown interests who are in his face. (e.g. the Map flap)

Don't blame him for all the problems he's inherited. His situation is like the mess Obama inherited from the administration that preceded him. The people and the mindset responsible for creating the mess still have a lot of credibility and power in influencing policy.

Both men also have a moderate, reasonable-people-can-work-this-out kind of leadership style, and that has its strengths and weaknesses--it is what it is--but regardless, there's only so much any leader can do when he inherits a monumental mess with at least two factions pushing for largely incompatible approaches to clean it up.

I'm still hoping for the best from him, which doesn't mean he'll do it "my way", but I think he's smart enough to understand (or learn) what the different agendas are and to gradually assemble a team that he can work with (I don't think he has it yet) that will move the district toward greater health and educational effectiveness. This time next year we'll be in a much better position to judge whether we'e on the road to recovery or not.

So what does this mean for the levy votes? I'm still undecided because I see the plans for them as the product largely of the last decade's dysfunction. The timing is unfortunate. But ultimately my vote will be determined by whether I think that voting No will create more of a mess, will it be creating even greater burden for an already too-burdened district, or would it just be better to start over.

NICK ESPARZA said...

Response to If Anyone Wants to Talk... ABOUT THE THE levy!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am voting yes for both levies. I am unhappy with the District's lack of planning that has resulted in pitting schoools against each other. But I am planning on voting yes for both levies. To vote no seems like it would be cutting off my nose to spite my face. We have a major capacity problem and voting no isn't going to result in a new plan that is any better than the current plan.

APP elementary & middle school mom

David said...

I'd like to know more about what this "large-scale fight against BEX" is, who is behind it, and what groups they represent. Wasn't that the original topic of this thread? What large groups are coming out against BEX? Is there any more information?

John said...

I agree with David. If it's so large-scale, how come we don't know where it's coming from?

I'm assuming it's related to JAMS, correct? Because it's not happening soon enough?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have pondered whether to say much more about this "large-scale" fight because frankly, I don't want to encourage it.

What I will say is that I looked into it and apparently the person who wrote the e-mail isn't going to have an actual campaign but is trying to encourage parents to vote no on BEX.

I would have no problem with this except that this person has some prominence and may have access to parent group lists. To me, if you believe so sincerely that voting against the BEX is the right thing to do, then go on record as saying it.

Yes, it is related to JAMS. What is surprising is that the e-mail starts by saying its about leadership and the district but then goes on to single out one staff member (as not effective) and three great Board members (guess who). And, the email describes all the disservices to Eckstein in the last month (and no other issue in the district).

Folks, it is about leadership. It is about finding a cohesive plan.

But these levies are about the ENTIRE district and I really worry about one issue over the rest of the district.

I will have a more general thread about why I think this is happening and how maybe FACMAC may have overstepped/exacerbated this issue.

Josh Hayes said...

I can't speak for the Pinehurst community, but I think if BEX fails then our school is even more doomed than it would be if it passed -- I think there's some chance the district will at least attempt to find a place for Pinehurst with the passage of the levy, but if it fails, our space will be absolutely needed to cram more sardines -- ahh, I mean, students! -- into.

And that, of course, is just the selfish, "what's in it for MY school?" perspective. From the district-wide perspective, it's a no-brainer: we HAVE to have this money. I'm voting yes on both.

mirmac1 said...

I disagree Melissa,

We ALL have access to parent group lists. It's called the Public Records Act.

I'm not defending this use, but if you get a mailer re: Ed Reform and the sponsor is, say, Our Schools Coalition but the return address is a PO Box registered under, say, PR consulting firm Strategies 360 - is an individual bound to attach their name to it?!

Of course I say don't hound this person for expressing their opinion and trying to convince others. If they use coercion, like vote my way or else (certain fat cats downtown), that's something different. Otherwise it is no different than you or I writing to the school board, asking them to vote my way.

CT said...

Josh - Pinehurst is one of the reasons I voted yes. That and some of the West Seattle schools, along with the earthquake retrofits/repairs were the key points for me. I don't agree with everything, but looking at the district as a whole and not just my own personal space, there is no way things even have a chance to get better without this levy.

I was surprised some of the buildings made it through the Nisqually quake as well as they did, given how much they shudder and shake when doors close. Not OK in my book, no matter where the school is, and no matter how ticked off I might be at the SB or the superintendent or the district.

Jet City mom said...

I am undecided on my vote.
I do have a concern- there are roughly 47,000 students enrolled in Seattle public schools, and roughly 40,000 more children in Seattle, not attending public school.
The district estimates 7,000 more students to enroll over the next ten years.
I havent seen anything to reassure me, that their estimate is accurate.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Mirmac, I don't think most parent group lists ARE public records. That's the problem.

Emeraldkity, I can just say that 1) that number of kids in private school has held steady for many,many years and 2) the economic recovery is very slow and I suspect that growth in SPS will continue.

Jet City mom said...

I wasnt saying that the 7,000 is high, I expect that number is very low, and anticipating less than 1,000 additional students every year despite the growth of housing & jobs in Seattle is too low.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh, sorry. I misunderstood.

mirmac1 said...

Melissa,

I have 10,000 parent email addresses obtained through the PRA.

Just think of the havoc I could wreak, spreading my rants over the interwebs. (Kidding!)

Anonymous said...

I also worry that SPS is underforecasting. When I look at how many babies, toddlers and preschoolers there are in NE Seattle (all of it, from just north of the UW Campus right up to the border with Shoreline), I really think they are underestimating what's coming in the next decade.

--ML Mama

Jet City mom said...

Underestimating demand, underestimating costs, underestimating need, I feel like SSD basically tells the public what is most palatable, and counts on their short memory.

I also don't like handing over money to them unless the way it is spent is explicitly spelled out- with oversight built in.

For instance, I voted for the Families & Education levy. I liked that they helped to fund after school tutoring and the like in schools. What I didn't realize though, was that much of the funding was race related.
I don't know if it was actually presented to voters that way, or if it was up to a committee to decide how the money would be allocated to schools, and how it would be spent within the school.
But I was surprised to see that in the middle schools, it wasn't enough to be low income, or fail to pass / or barely pass the MSP tests. Students also needed to be ELL &/or African American or Hispanic to benefit.
McClure also included special education students and Pathfinder targeted all students who did poorly, but for the most part the programs were not open to all who could benefit, which is disappointing to me as a parent.

I have to be pretty careful with my money, and put it where it can do the most good. I also have to revisit my decisions, to help improve subsequent choices.
I can't keep telling my boss things are expensive and I have to keep up with the neighbors, to get her to increase my paycheck.

I have to make what I allocated on groceries to last the week, even if I had to reduce what I spent on groceries because I had to pay out of pocket to hire a math tutor for my child because although they had an IEP and were legally eligible to receive specially designed instruction everyday, and despite making zero progress on their IEP goals for over a year, neither the school nor the district saw the need for anything to change.

Obviously the small amount of tutoring I was able to afford wasn't enough to make a difference for my child, but common sense tells me that a family who is trying to find their child help, should be assisted rather than ignored.

Now you know why Sara Woolverton makes me gnash my teeth.

Anonymous said...

EmeraldKitty,

Where did you get the numbers of 40,000 kids not attending public school. I always thought that that public school in Seattle had a 75% of the market share of kids.

Just,
Curious

Jet City mom said...

From the most recent census.
They listed 88,002 kids as being under the age of 18 & living in Seattle.
Im assuming some are school age, but hardly all, hence my concern about underestimating numbers.

wants to know said...

I have 10,000 parent email addresses obtained through the PRA.

Mirmac1, could you give a little more information about this?

Parents are not public employees (in general). PTAs are not publicly-funded organizations. Student/family records are private by nature. How is it that you were able to get 10,000 parent email addresses, and did you get other information, such as which student(s) and school(s) they are associated with?

I could understand if you got a few dozen or even a few hundred by carefully combing through the various PRA documents and email threads over the years. But 10,000 implies that you were able to get access to actual email lists, and that sounds fishy. Like when most of us complained about Strategies 360 getting access to a large list of telephone numbers. What's the deal?

Anonymous said...

Whats to know:

ANYONE is able to get what's called "directory information" on students from SPS UNLESS you've opted your student out at the start of the year.

This is allowed under what's known as FERPA - the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act. It's a federal law. As is the opt-out vs. opt-in process.

Search FERPA on the SPS website and you'll find the opt-out form and other information. Not sure if it can be turned in at any time.

Parent of 2 in SPS

Jet City mom said...

It should be able to be turned in at anytime, legally.
Too bad it is an opt- out form rather than opt in, but it is tied to federal money/nclb.
http://epic.org/privacy/student/

mirmac1 said...

Parent of 2 in SPS,

Bingo!

What is interesting is a) what the law allows; and b) how certain private citizens try to get around the law.

For example, it's interesting how often I get records with Frank Greer's or Sara Morris' 'n pals private information extracted, but not mine. Seems staff/legal is proactive in "protecting" their privacy interests. Nobody ever asked me. If they did, I would say No Big, it is public information.

Like censorship, we should guard our rights as a democratic republic (or a republican democracy, I suck at Poli Sci) to access to government records.

Anonymous said...

EmeraldKitty,

The 2010 Census says that there is 61000 school aged kids (93,513 < 18 yrs old less 32,036 < 5 yrs old). This is consistent with my understanding that the Seattle public schools has about a 75% market share.

http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cms/groups/pan/@pan/documents/web_informational/dpdp022089.pdf

Curious

Jet City mom said...

I wasnt really nterested in market share, my question was if the population of Seattle continues to increase as it has been , will allowing for an increase of only 700 students pr year increase in the district be enough over the next ten years?
In 2010, the census found that there were over 7,000 kids who were less than one year old, & about 6,500 kids who would be turning five about now.
Is there room for them?

Anonymous said...

emeraldkity,

That's why this levy - to build capacity - is so important. It's also why we should also be lobbying the city and legislature for support for the school district, in terms of both funds and finding land/locations for new schools.

-ML Mama