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Friday, March 01, 2013

Again? Parents STILL Pushing for Interim Plan Re-Vote

Apparently two NE parents met with Marty McLaren recently to plead with her to consider a revote on the amendment on the interim plan for 2013-2014.

To whit:

In order for a re-vote to happen, a Board member who voted in favor of Amendment 2 (McLaren, Patu, Smith-Blum, or Peaslee) must motion for a re-vote.  That motion can then be seconded by another Board member.  The desired outcome of a re-vote would be for the Board to reconsider their January 31 vote and, hopefully, vote in favor of opening Jane Addams as a comprehensive middle school now rather than waiting a year.   

Yes, I'm sure it is desired but they DID take a vote already. 

To re-vote, based on NO new evidence would be wrong and seriously undermine the Board's credibility.  

The e-mail goes on to encourage other parents to contact any of the four who voted in favor of the amendment to put it forth again at the next Board meeting (next Wednesday the 6th.)

The e-mail tells McLaren to consider the "expert findings" of FACMAC.  With all due respect (and I know some the FACMAC of them do have professional backgrounds in this case), all of FACMAC and what they know does not make them experts.

The e-mail also states:


The “equity” you are looking for can be addressed by guaranteeing that in 2013 the new JAMS gets the pick of the teachers; gets the best most qualified principal to lead, and the programmatic resources it needs and deserves.

Really?  These parents are willing to give up the award-winning music director at Eckstein, their principal and all their best teachers?  Nonsense and it would never happen.

Apparently, it's never say die in the some parts of the NE.   It's one year and then it all changes.  The equity is that then everyone will be equally sharing in the pain (rather than a smaller group who had already been promised no changes).

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm also baffled by the timing of this. Open enrollment started this week, and uses the NSAP as its guide. How screwed up would it be to throw that kind of wrench in the works? I hope no director takes them seriously, listening to the cries of these few will only anger way more of their constituents, and a couple of those ladies are looking down the barrel of reelection this year.

Stop The Madness!

mirmac1 said...

Some of these folks are just not used to NOT getting their way. Why should they be denied starting now, right?

Anonymous said...

Say What????

To re-vote, based on NO new evidence would be wrong and seriously undermine the Board's credibility.

Which Board's credibility ... this Board's or just Seattle School Board's credibility in general?

How does credibility arise?

The last revote I remember was when the Board voted 4-3 to spend $800,000 on the New Tech Network services for Cleveland (to get Cleveland ready to be a STEM option school ASAP). P. Meier said it had to happen NOW.... Then because of many errors and a legal appeal the Board came back with a revote on the same issue but with better paper work etc. and voted 4-3 to approve. --- and that "rubber-stamping" Board was really short on credibility for a huge number of reasons.

-- Dan Dempsey

Lori said...

I haven't seen this email, and I agree that now that open enrollment has started, it would be difficult to do a re-vote.

BUT, having lived thru the Lowell eviction in June of 2011, I can't rule out the possibility that the district is going to find itself in an enrollment mess at the middle school level come April and some sort of emergency plan may need to be hatched at that point.

I really wish that the Board and the district would have seriously considered the FACMAC plan for a geographic split starting this fall. As I understand it, that proposal moved E-STEM/K8 to John Marshall and split Eckstein between Jane Addams and Eckstein.

This would have given every student in the NE who wants a comprehensive middle school experience access to one and put no population into a forced 6th-grade only roll-up.

It would have been consistent with the Board's earlier vote a few years ago to keep E-STEM/K8 in the Jane Addams building until 2013 and development of BEX IV plans.

It would have simultaneously relieved overcapacity at Eckstein and likely reduced the burden on Hamilton by making room at Eckstein for Laurelhurst students.

Yes, many students would have been shuffled around, some relocating from Eckstein to Jane Addams during their middle school tenure, and the ESTEM/K8 moving to Marshall. I guess at the end of the day, I don't find the argument for building stability to be that compelling; what happens in the classroom is more important than what building you are in, and I say that as someone with a 4th grader who's been in 3 different buildings in 3 different neighborhoods in 5 short years.

But, that's all past. They rejected the FACMAC option out of hand in favor of a 1-year plan that leaves most families wondering what happens in years 2, 3, and beyond.

I hope it all works out for everyone, and I hope there's a reasonable solution for 2014/2015. I really do. But I can't say that I'm not worried.

mirmac1 said...

If FACMAC follows the same method of manufacturing "consensus" (and squelching dissent) being pitched to the Assessment TF, then this recommendation falls in line with past recs (or silences) I question.

Louise M said...

Lori - I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. However, can you imagine the howling of the families whose kids got moved out of Eckstein to JA in the plan you mention? I believe it would be even louder than the howling these "re-vote" folks are doing now.

Which does not make the re-vote people any less ridiculous...

Anonymous said...

Oh please. FACMAC is no doubt a pointless exercise to cover whatever the district wants to do. It doesn't seem independent or strategic. It doesn't even keep notes from what i have heard. To make a change of board decision based on FACMAC expertise would be silly. There is no expertise. No doubt the FACMAC people are nice and work hard but......so what. The SPS needs to start making its own Big Boy decisions and stop hiding behind a bunch of powerless and possibly clueless volunteers. And parents its time to stop the whining and start using construction to make room for our kids.

North of 85th

Meg said...

I'm on FACMAC. I would even say I'm pretty well informed about inventory and enrollment issues in the district. However, FACMAC is a community advisory committee composed of volunteers that district staff are free to ignore (and we really don't have much influence), not a panel of experts.

mirmac1 said...

I believe that, all too often, "advisory committees" are simply used as a fig leaf for SPS's sins. Volunteer members are only afforded the info that staff wants them to see. It is the rare community member who can cut through the crap, get their hands on the documents, and get staff to provide specific answers to detailed questions. I especially liked how FACMAC discussed that enrollment projections didn't support a downtown school, even after the City planners' dog and pony show. The corrupted district just plugged their ears and went "nanana we can't hear you!" If I were on a committee that was so blatantly ignored, everyone would know about it. But it's the whole "committee reports should represent the ideas of the entire group" therefore if 49% object or just don't speak up, then they must forever hold their peace.

kellie said...

I would agree with Meg. There are technical experts on facmac but it is a community committee of volunteers.

The bottom line is not Jane Addams vs Eckstein. The issue is that the North end is out of inventory for schools. Every property is utilized. They are all full, the distinctions are now - full, really full, beyond full, or crazy full. Soon to come distinctions are - some portables, excessive portables, and unable to secure permits for additional portables.

The problem is that poorly constructed capacity numbers lead reasonable people to believe that there is "unused" classrooms, "over there." There isn't.

Fundamentally, the challenge is that there are two buildings and three community that need buildings. What will fix this? Another building.

A more efficient use of all of this energy would be some focused efforts to secure NEW property or NEW buildings in the NE. Until there is new inventory, this squabble is going to continue.

Anonymous said...

The squabble may continue but why should the committee? 2 posters here say they are on FACMAC? OK then. Out of the active committee, let's call that people who have shown up to 3/4 of meetings, how many of them are not from the Eckstein draw area or from APP? Because I hear FACMAC has turned into a permanent lobby for those groiups. With a few token others thrown in.
That ain't community and it ain't strategic and it ain't advisory AKA a sham and a shame.

Who can prove otherwise?

Eric B said...

Well, I'm an active member of FACMAC, and I'm not in the Eckstein draw area or involved with APP. To hear the rumors, we eat babies while scheming to racially cleanse Eckstein. Maybe I've been going to the wrong room, but I've seen a bunch of people who are doing their best to suggest ways to solve the capacity problems the District has in as equitable a way as possible. You don't have to believe me (or Kellie or Meg), but I can't prove anything to someone who would rather believe conspiracy theories than listen to people who were in the room.

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Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, you say the vote was not supported by logic. No, there were two things that could be done and, on balance, they chose the one they believed was the most fair and equitable.

FYI, the Board never says it made a mistake. I have almost never seen this. Did you see my post about the exiting of Asian teachers during WWII? It took the School Board until '84 to do anything.

Also, other Anonymous, (and I have to delete your comments because you did not follow blog rules that are posted), According to the City - the Fire Department and others - students are not at risk.

Voters can take their unhappiness out in the fall but this is a done deal.

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, want to post? Follow the blog rules. No anonymous posts.

But to answer this:

"A Board member may have promised the JAK8 program that they would not move in 2013-2014, but that is not a sound reason for approving the amendment."

Unfortunately it was NOT a Board member who made that statement. It was district staff and they did it at several meetings. Board members would never make such a promise as it is not part of their job to be able to do so.

Anonymous said...

The other option on the table was to assign 6th graders from 3 schools to Jane Addams. This would have been 130-150 students. Instead, the same amount or more will choose to go there. So there may just end up being more capacity relief at Eckstein with the adopted plan. So I just don't see what the problem is.

CCP

Anonymous said...

The big problem is not next year, it is 2015-2016. John Marshall will come online at some point, but that's it until the new JAK8 building in 2016 and Wilson-Pacific in 2017. Every school in the north end will need to be very full by 2015.

I expect Eckstein will need to be at around 1300 students in 2015, just like it is now. Would it make any sense to drop that down to 800 or so next year (if JAK8 got kicked out and there was a geographic split), just to go back up 200 each year? Then back down under 1000 in 2016? Can you imagine the issues moving teachers out one year and rehiring the next? That is no way to run a school.

Sorry, Eckstein will have to remain very full until 2016. But don't worry, other schools will be very full as well.

-dude

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Anonymous said...

So should I put my name and phone number on the blog? Would that make you feel better? Just because an opinion is anonymous that does not make it a lessor opinion. And I think FACMAC, a committee working for the school district, should be held to a higher standard than a blog commentor.

looking for transparency

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

sounds like FACMAC was like ALTF:
A BIG JOKE.

_Annie

mirmac1 said...

Actually if you go to the Capacity Management page on the district website. You will see FACMAC meeting minutes. What you don't see are the handouts they reviewed.

There is mention in the minutes of FACMAC members frustration with how the district portrays proposed scenarios to the public, often incorrectly saying they came from FACMAC. I believe that.

kellie said...

A wonderful thing about democracy. People are free to decide what they think the problem is.

I think the problem is poor packaging of data so that this poor packaging of the data leads very reasonable people to unreasonable conclusions, (but ones they can support with cherry picked data). The arguments tend to go something like this.

My school is really full and that school is not being used to its potential. The response from "that school" is equally predictable. My school is very full, too. AND I looked a the data and your school is not really full.

The data as presented tends to confuse "seats" with "capacity." Those are not interchangeable concepts.

In theory, a building provides a seats per the teaching contract. In reality, students do not come in neat little packages that fit the number of seats in convenient ways. Some grades are smaller or larger. Special education is delivered with a different ratio from general education.

Here is the simplest way to define "full" for a building. A school is full when every teaching station is assigned to a teacher. One teacher = one room.

When the school building is "full" because every teaching station is assigned with a certificated FTE, then either portables are added or teachers move to "art on a cart" type of instruction where they roam the building.

The district has placed over 30 portables a year for at least the last three years. They are likely to place 70 portables this year.

That leads me to conclude, that the entire district is FULL. 70 portables is about the size of TWO comprehensive high schools.

Both Jane Addams and Eckstein are full. Guess what, Whitman, Hamilton, Washington are also full. Mercer is probably full and if not full today will be full in a year.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay people, I'm just about done with these extra long monikers. If it's not two words or less, I'm going to omit it. I don't have time to deal with this.

I wasn't on the CACIEE (Community Advisory Committee for Investing in Educational Excellence). Sherry Carr was. I thought they did the best job of any volunteer group but yes, their recommendations were ignored.

I was on the Closure and Consolidation Committee and our work was only as good as the info the district gave us (plus our own gleanings). That's always something to consider with these volunteer committees - who is controlling the agenda, the process and the information.

No one here (that I can find) ever said FACMAC was lazy or stupid and I think you should not use those terms for any committee.

Thank you Kellie (another voice of wisdom, clarity and reason). Folks, we are ALL in this together. Fingerpointing won't help.

kellie said...

Thank you Mel.

I think the "intensity" of this situation was really only matched at the height of the 08-09 closures. During those closures, round after round of community group presented information about how full their schools really were. But yet, closures marched forward because the "data" said there was just tons of extra space.

Years later, the community groups were proven right and every single school closed in 09 was re-opened.

IMHO, you can only pretend there is "excess space" for so long before the "reality" that not every classroom is full to the contract limit sets in. And that is what happened in this issue once again.

There is no doubt that Eckstein is full. While the student headcount is about the same, as far as I can tell, there are at least 8 more teaching stations and at least 8 more certificated teachers. While that may not seem like much, when you consider that those 8 homerooms were added to the largest middle school in the entire state, well ....

There is also no doubt that Jane Addams is full. This summer the district will divide the 4 largest classrooms in half to create 4 additional homerooms. The district is not doing this because the building is empty, they are doing that because the building is full.

All of this intensity is reasonable. However, I wish this energy was being channeled into an aggressive legislative agenda with the City and the State. We need NEW property and buildings desperately.

Anonymous said...

We also desperately need the district to do a better job of leading the work on these citizen committees. Establish them, yes, but then dedicate staff resources group working rules, and straightforward public reporting to make them worth something. Otherwise committees will self-destruct, and more harm than good is done.

The district could start with by either stating what FACMAC is supposed to do post-BEX...and then making sure it happens in a professional (and community-inclusive) manner. Or it could disband the committee.

The current state of affairs does not appear to be working.

Community Volunteer

Anonymous said...

Hello? Assignment letters have alrady gone out. There's no assignment of people from Eckstein to anything else. Give it up!

-parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, based on what I am hearing at the Board retreat, this is unlikely to go anywhere.

mirmac1 said...

Looking forward to that thread Mel.

My critique is only one the way the district tries to: a) tightly control what volunteer committees hear and say, and b) tries to co-opt the work of committees with their own pre-ordained solutions. "We consulted with so and so, so it's all good!" Usually it is we consulted with so and so, then did what we wanted anyway because the Alliance and their benefactors wanted that instead.

ben said...

My instinct is that if the folks involved in this petition are the same, that they have even less leverage now then they did prior to the levy.

In any event, none of the facts about next year have changed. The nature of the enrollment crisis is known as is the general pro/cons of any alternative. If there were a fair and easy to make choice it would have been already been made. Instead, we have significant disagreement in the community at large. I realize many of those who disagree with the last vote are still looking for redress and perhaps in their shoes I would mount one last letter campaign as well. However, I'm personally, more interested now in the next year's planning and the management of the BEX funds. It will be interesting to see how this year's enrollment turns out.

Ben



Ben

Anonymous said...

No Eric B, people just need to read what you wrote and wonder why you gotta to put it this way:
"To hear the rumors, we eat babies while scheming to racially cleanse Eckstein."
I want to let this slide because I figure you must be pissed or something. Or trying to defend FACMAC (and why FACMAC recommendation weighs in so much now on this one particular area after so much time when it hasn't on other areas). But I just can't forget this comment. I guess I have been biting my tongue too long and trying so hard to turn the other cheek trying to fit in and get along, not be that angry person in the room when stuff like this gets said, but boy it gets harder and harder. Especially when you look around the whole district and see what other kids and schools are going through. Maybe we all need a LOT more of what Jon Greenberg is trying to teach.

sick of it