Sunday, March 17, 2013

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, March 19th
Audit&Finance Committee Mtg (Quarterly Audit) from 4-6 p.m. at JSEE.  Agenda.  Items include:
  • internal audits of transportation, maintenance and Ingraham High School (note: these may be regularly scheduled audits or something else.  I'll check.)
  • Performance audit status
  • risk management ERM (which I believe is Enterprise Risk Management, managing risks and capitalizing on opportunities)
Wednesday, March 20th
School Board meeting starting at 4:15 p.m.  Agenda.  
Note: the student performance is the Salmon Bay Marimba Group.   I love a good marimba band so I may have to go just for that.

Items include:
  • approval of a grant from OSPI to boost science teaching for elementary and middle school teachers.
Per OSPI, Seattle Public Schools will partner with Renton School District, University of Washington College of Engineering, and the Institute for Systems Biology. The project will focus on professional development to deliver science modules that address teachers’ knowledge of science and engineering content and pedagogy with tools to support planning of and reflection on science and engineering instruction. Teachers will create three sets of adaptations to common instructional materials/science kits focusing on different science domains each year. Teachers will also collect student work samples and have opportunities for meta-cognitive reflection of their own learning and planning for instruction. This is supported at the schools through collaboration structures such as early release or late start as well as principals attending the content-based workshops.

Sounds good.
  • DDC (Direct digital controls for a building), upgrades at Eckstein, Blaine and Ingraham. I'll have to ask but Ingraham has been on every single BTA and BEX. How much would we have saved doing the whole building at once instead this piecemeal work? (This item has been delayed until early April.)
  • Annual funding for McDonald and JSIS for language immersion IAs. When people say they want more of this kind of school, this is where the extra dollars are needed to support it. There is no report to link to yet.
Thursday, March 21st 
Operations Committee Meeting from 4-5:30 p.m.

Also, there is the Assessment Taskforce meeting from 4-6 p.m. in room 2772.  

Friday, March 22nd

BEX Oversight Committee meeting from 8:30-10:30 am, JSCEE, Room 2776*
* I'll recheck this as I see elsewhere it was stated to have occurred on March 8th.

Saturday, March 23rd
No community meetings with any Board Director this week.


Anonymous said...
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mirmac1 said...

Read for yourself what happens at these board retreats.

Seattle School Board Retreat

I think if I had to spend four Saturdays a year at these things I'd want to drive pencils into my ears to make it stop.

It does seem Pres KSB's audacity to actually want to discuss business DID disrupt the usual banality of exercises, breakout sessions, circle diagrams and kubayahs. Hurrah for her!

Anonymous said...

WHAT?? From School Board Agenda for Wed. March20th meeting:

McDonald International School 2013
-14 Annual Fund for Language Immersion Instructional Assistants
Approval of this item would approve the request for the advance commitment to expend grant
funds, in the amount of 375,000.
(action report will be added by March 18, 2013)

John Stanford International School 2013 -14 Annual Fund for Language Immersion Instructional Assistants
–(A&F) Approval of this item would approve the request for the advance commitment to expend grant
funds, in the amount of $445,000.

WOW. Funding Wallingford neighborhood with lots of extra dollars because they want to lower their class size ratios to 1/13? Nice. Can we have that too, please? Language Immersion works without the extra help, perhaps not as efficiently, but it works. So, if you already are getting something great (e.g., Language Immersion), something many, many other families want but get no access to, do you really feel entitled to MORE MONEY too for your special program? Montessori doesn't get it, why should they?

I am worried about how high poverty schools will be doing this year with the as-yet unconfirmed cuts to LAP and Title 1 funds; it is utterly nonsensical to dole out extra money to 2 particular neighborhood schools that don't grant equal access to anyone else's child; these schools are not by lottery, they are by address, and, not everyone can afford to live in Wallingford.

And yes, immersion can be done without a special helper.


mirmac1 said...

dismayed, I absolutely agree. Meanwhile we see that ELL students who actually bring funding for IAs are often matched up with an IA whose native language is something entirely different. WTF!?

Anonymous said...

Dismayed - those figures are not what the District is providing McDonald and JSIS. Rather, it's the full cost of continuing an IA in each immersion classroom. Parents raise that money, not the District, with the exception of the District providing a one-time partial support to McDonald last year.

Anonymous said...

Even if parents raise this money via the PTA it is inequitable - not many schools have parent/PTA resources to be able to pay for additional classroom teachers/asssistant in order to reduce class sizes (to 1/13 - is that correct?, wow, wish my 1/29 kindergartner had that!).
That does trouble me, especially given these programs are not accessible to all families. Clearly they should be option schools open to all by lottery, not neighborhood schools.

language as an option

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dismayed, this is quite the issue. The schools like having these aides and feel it very important. Yet, they are very costly and do lower class size. Since foreign language immersion is so popular and yet only available at neighborhood schools, is this fair? And Dismayed is right - you don't have to have those aides to have foreign language immersion.

And, I just checked the McDonald and JSIS websites and found some interesting/disturbing details. I'm going to follow-up.

Anonymous said...

@ dismayed, where does it say they want to reduce ratios to 1:13?

And please remember that IAs only help out for part of the day, not the whole day. I have a kid in immersion, and they spend half the day in English (no IA), and half in the new language (with an IA only part of that time as well). Making it sound like every class has an IA all day is completely inaccurate.

That said, I agree that many language immersion programs can be done without the extra cost of IAs. However, I think that capacity depends on the model. In a full-day immersion program, teachers can more quickly bring kids up to functional levels in the new language, making the IAs less necessary in older grades. Another consideration is that in a Spanish-only immersion program, it's typically easier for parents to provide homework assistance than in say, a Japanese or Mandarin program, where it's harder for parents to just look things up. In the SPS model, where you have multiple languages for half-days only, I think it adds complexity and slows down the language acquisition a bit, making the IAs more necessary than elsewhere.

Yes, that means over-the-top parent fundraising--and recommended donations that are beyond what many can afford. I hate that. But please remember that language immersion schools aren't the only ones with extensive parent fundraising to fund extra positions. There are a lot of schools in SPS with large PTSA budgets for additional staffing, enrichment, etc.


Anonymous said...

My problem with the PTA money is not so much the raising of the money (I do understand that the money differences are problematic), but more that the district relies on parents to pay for programs that they put in place. The district brags about having these programs, but they are unable to pay for them. That is not a model that should be allowed to continue.

I still remember MGJ saying during the 2008 splits that she wanted to split APP elementary so that those new PTAs would fund programs for the two schools in which APP was placed. PTAs at these schools (JSIS and McDonald) should remember that the district can remove those programs at will.

I do know that language immersion programs were given a disproportionate amount of money two years ago. That is another issue. If these schools aren't all city draws with access for everyone, they should not get more money than other schools.


Melissa Westbrook said...

The Board agenda says "grant" money but I'd like to see that grant. I have a call into the district.

The point is that the district is willing to spend more money on programs that are at neighborhood schools. I'm sorry but that's wrong. Either make them option schools for all to access or they should make do with what EVERY other school has to.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, are you sure the district is in fact willing to fund more for these programs? Based on the JSIS principal's most recent letter to families, this looks to me like it will be up to families to raise the IA money. As she states in her letter (available online): "Seattle Public Schools does not provide any additional funding for this program." My guess is that maybe these requests are more procedural requirements than actual funding (e.g., the schools will raise the money, but the district needs to "agree" to cover them in the meantime so that the district doesn't have to go through layoff and rehire processes with all the IAs?).

In any case, before everyone freaks out all this extra funding for immersion program, let's make sure the facts are straight. If we want to talk about disparities in PTSA fundraising capacity, that's a whole other issue--NOT related to immersion programs. Or if we want to talk about the merits of neighborhood-based immersion programs vs. making them option schools, that's another issue as well.


Anonymous said...

Whenever a PTA or person contributes monies to a specific school to fund personnel it is processed as a grant.

Even Pay 4 K is processed as a grant (including the extra fee charged.)

My question is why the JSIS grant is being pulled out as a separate line item on the Board agenda.


Anonymous said...

I think the reason DDC projects get done separately is because they need to do before and after benchmarking, and they don't want other work screwing up their benchmarking data. This data is used to establish a rebate for the electricity cost in running a particular building.

I can't speak to the other reasons Ingraham has been on BEX lists, but in my mind it makes total sense to have this one out by itself.

--Fremont Dad

Michael H said...

Melissa - What "performance audit" are you talking about? When did this start?

Melissa Westbrook said...

HSIS, I am checking but this is a discussion that was done previously here and YES the district was providing funding to the IAs.

And actually it is related to PTA fundraising. Do you think Concord and Beacon Hill - also foreign language immersion - are raising the sums that McDonald and JSIS are?

Michael, I am going by what the agenda says. I don't know when it started. It would be great if someone went to the meeting and found out.

Someone said...

There appears to have been some kind of "performance audit" in Dec. of 2012 - based on this audit response document (pdf) - the performance audit itself was done in Feb. 2011 by the State Auditor.

Audit Response Log Performance Audit

Link to SAO construction audit

Seattle Public Schools Construction Audit

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I'm interested in the answer to your question: "And actually it is related to PTA fundraising. Do you think Concord and Beacon Hill - also foreign language immersion - are raising the sums that McDonald and JSIS are?"

JSIS is the the oldest. Did McDonald open after Concord and BH started their immersion? I understand parents wanting to raise money for enrichment, but this is different. It's a PROGRAM, not a building. Why isn't the SPS guru of language immersion raising money and writing grants, and isn't this what the Alliance was created to do by the General, raise and distribute money? It's the next century. Continuing to rely on parent money has to stop.

Make immersion sustainable. My sons would've wanted this back when they were students. As a parent, I would've found no comfort in knowing my kid's new immersion program might live or die based on how much $ my neighbors pledged each year.

Mr White

mirmac1 said...

Agencies with large capital programs often undergo construction management performance audits. I recall the report from 2011. It was years in the making, because auditors were stonewalled by staff and consultants. Was pretty mediocre, and the resultant "reforms" were regressive (take a look at the current "authorities" matrix in the procurement procedures. Thorough performance audits were completed on Metro and the Port of Seattle that led to very dramatic reforms that were in line with best practice in the industry. SPS? meh..