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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thoughts for STEM and APP in West Seattle

K-5 STEM at Boren needs a permanent home. The District is currently thinking of using the Schmitz Park building, but the school is already too big for that building. Are we spending tens of millions of BEX IV money to take kids out of portables at Schmitz Park just to put a lot of other kids into portables at Schmitz Park? That doesn't make any sense. E C Hughes is another possible location, but it's not much bigger. Either choice would mean moving the kids out of a real building at Boren and into portables at the other site. Either choice would mean committing the District to spend tens of millions to renovate the chosen site to make it suitable. It will be difficult to find the money in BEX IV or BTA.

Fairmount Park, by the way, is really needed as an attendance area school. Not only does West Seattle need the additional capacity, but take a look at the map. West Seattle has a string of elementary schools in the north and a belt of them in the south, but none in the middle - except the Fairmount Park site. Attendance area schools are geographic communities and they need to be distributed geographically. A big hole, like the one in the middle of West Seattle, should be filled.

If Schmitz Park, E C Hughes, and Fairmount Park are all bad ideas - and they are - then where can K-5 STEM at Boren go? Why does it have to go anywhere? Why can't it stay at Boren?



Boren is right on Delridge, one of the primary north-south arterials in West Seattle. It is well served by METRO and a great choice as the location for a large-area draw. Schmitz Park and E C Hughes are harder to reach by bus.

I know that the conventional answer is that Boren is needed as an interim site, but is it? West Seattle High School and Madison Middle School each got total renovations within the past ten years. Chief Sealth International High School has seen a series of modular renovations. Denny Middle School is brand new. None of these schools should need a renovation for over thirty years. What about elementary schools? The District has the Schmitz Park building and the EC Hughes available for use as interim sites for elementary schools. Please don't complain about the state of their repair - not if you're going to say that K-5 STEM should move into them.

The Boren building is really big. It's possible that it could house both K-5 STEM and still serve as an interim site for another elementary school while their building is under construction. There is also the possibility that Seattle could adopt the practices of other districts that don't use interim sites while their school buildings are undergoing renovation.

Ah, but that raises another issue: the Boren building is really big. K-5 STEM doesn't begin to fill it. Isn't that inefficient? Well, it turns out that there's an answer to that.

Seattle now has a STEM elementary school and a STEM high school. We do not have a STEM middle school. K-5 STEM at Boren could be extended to a K-8. This would fill the middle school gap in our STEM curriculum. Boren was originally built as a middle school. It recently served as the interim site for Sealth. It has the kind of classrooms, like labs, that secondary schools need. It is a VERY suitable site for a K-8. Even if extended to a K-8, STEM alone might not make good use of the building's capacity.

What else could we do to fill the Boren building? There's an answer.

The District is looking at projected enrollment for APP in the south-end and they see too many students for one elementary and middle school cohort, but not quite enough for two cohorts. They need a solution like the optional high school pathway at Ingraham. Ideally, that pathway would appear in West Seattle, to create a local option for Westenders. But what elementary and middle school in West Seattle could accept another 100 APP students and serve them properly? K-8 STEM at Boren could.

While our STEM schools are best known for their focus on science, technology, engineering and math, the families that use them quickly become most excited about the project-based learning used in these schools. While differentiated instruction is a huge challenge with the traditional instructional strategies, it can be readily incorporated into project-based instruction. A K-8 STEM in West Seattle would be an absolutely IDEAL solution for an APP option for south-end families as an addition to the Thurgood Marshall - Washington pathway. In fact, almost no other solution is possible. There is no other elementary school in West Seattle that could accept the additional enrollment. The addition of the APP students would not only fit easily into the Boren building along with STEM, but the APP instruction would fit easily into the instructional strategy at STEM, and the APP students would fit easily onto the buses that go to STEM.

This is a "kill three birds with one stone" solution - it finds a place for STEM, finds a place for APP, and saves capital and transportation costs now and in the future.

Thoughts?

74 comments:

Jamie said...

This is a well thought out, very sound idea, Charlie. Therefore the district will reject it out of hand.

mirmac1 said...

Charlie and I disagree on this. Schmitz Park goes back to the Schmitz family if no school locates there. It is unsuitable for a neighborhood school, ideal for an option school.

Boren was the interim site for Cleveland in the past. It has served as a critical interim site for decades, and as we move into another BEX cycle, it is still needed.

WS doesn't need three middle schools. We can't even fully enroll Madison and WSHS (granted, fixing %$#* boundaries will help in this regard). Based on enrollment trends the MS bump won't hit until 2016-17. Meanwhile, we will have two mega-elementaries to fill: 650 seat Genessee and Arbor Heights.

The idea about APP is interesting. My preference is that we focus on improved math and science in all WS schools (actually, districtwide), before we begin investing in growing yet another standalone STEM, STEAM, K-8 whatever school.

Jon said...

Jaime nailed it. This is a well thought out idea, makes a lot of sense, so the district will reject it out of hand.

Anonymous said...

I thought one of the big draws of elementary STEM was avoidance of Seattle's standard math and science curricula (both of which are pretty weak). Aren't they using Singapore math, just like Schmitz Park?

observer

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think Charlie's assessment makes sense.

I offer that the district is rapidly running out of interim/emergency sites. Yes, things happen (like Coe burning to the ground) and those schools have to go someplace. Is Boren out of the way for that use? Maybe but not for an interim site.

mirmac1 said...

"I thought one of the big draws of elementary STEM was avoidance of Seattle's standard math and science curricula"

Right, so do we perpetuate this? Encourage families to flee one school to attend another. Why not improve that school/curriculum instead? Frankly, As a 50 yr West Seattleite, I shudder at the thought of balkanization.

Seaview Mom said...

The minute AH leaves the Boren building WS will need it for middle school enrollment. If you factor in right sizing Denny and Madison, in 2016 and on, consider space needs for special education, let Chief Sealth have some more room at Denny, and possibly add in the middle school APP population, you have will have enough for a 3rd comprehensive middle school in West Seattle. I think there is an overwhelming desire for comprehensive middle schools in Seattle, that there is enough K-8 capacity for those that choose it.
mirimac is correct, the Schmitz Park building is a great place for an option school, and an option school is the only type of school that the district can control enrollment, so they can make the program fit the building. Once the current population moves out, the next BTA levy could address upgrading the school to make it perfect for their indoor needs, while the huge site next to a beautiful old growth forest is ideal for STEM.

Anonymous said...

In 2020, the mid-range population estimates for West Seattle are 3,000 High School, 2,500 Middle School and 5,600 Elementary. If we don't use Hughes or Boren, but use Schmitz Park for elementary - and don't get rid of any of the portables currently in use, our capacity wil be 2,700 High School, 2,400 Middle School and 5,700 Elementary. Roxhill's current capacity is about 325. I understand it needs to be replaced - and there's no BEX IV cash to do that. So - we'll need 300 High School, 100 Middle School and 225 Elementary Seats.

Looks like we'll have to move Roxhill to Hughes. It has 16 classrooms - so could hold 400 or so students. That will easily replace Roxhill.
K-5 STEM could have three classes per grade at Schmitz Park with the current portables or two classes per grade with just two portables.
We're left with Boren (capacity 760) for our 300 High School and 100 Middle School Seats. How about a Nova or Center School-like 6-8 school there?

If you want a strong math and science program in West Seattle - Madison needs something.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Charlie, for raising these issues!

Seaview Mom & mirmac1, could you please explain why Schmitz Park is unfit to be a neighborhood school? Couldn't the district lines be drawn narrowly enough to fit its capacity? As the mother of two preschoolers who lives a few blocks away I am very invested in what happens to that site. We would be happy to see it become a STEM school [preferably STEAM] or an option school if we get in. Parents of young children in our neighborhood [and yes, there are a lot of us] are concerned and we would like to weigh in.

Tara

Anonymous said...

If K5STEM doesn't go to Fairmount Park, what about APP or language immersion there to draw a student body larger than K to start? It's central to WS, large, and the boundaries can be drawn for this. When it was closed it did not have a PTA and many neighborhood families avoided it. It needs to draw engaged families who already have PTA experience. This will help build an attractive school community and allow a full program from year 1. It needs an attractive unique program and the ability to raise funds for the extras all the other schools provide or many families will avoid it. Based talking to friends with school aged kids near FP and my knowledge of the struggles K5STEM faced starting up, I fear it will not succeed for many years if it is not STEM, APP, Language, Montessori, etc. -Was There

Ms. Austin said...

I don't think SPSD should be moving ANY school permanently into a location where a good portion of its students would be in portables. I voted for the levy because I thought it was deplorable that Schmitz Park - a successful, vibrant school - had half of its students in portables and I believed it needed a new building for its students. If STEM were moved to Schmitz Park it would have to use 8-10 portables in its first year at the new location (based on projected interest and enrollment). That's half of its student population. What is the sense in that?

And, to say that STEM could reduce its size to 2 classes per grade and use "just 2 portables" is a bit baffling. Why would a school with such high interest want to reduce enrollment so low? So it can have less funding for administrative and special staff - less funds for music teachers, art teachers, PE teachers, school nurses, playground monitors? I just don't understand that argument.

I don't think SPSD realized that the interest in STEM and project-based learning would be so high. Let's support this school with a good facility and the ability to increase enrollment - which we can all agree is especially needed at the elementary level.

If Fairmont Park is also needed for projected elementary enrollment, let STEM have the Boren site and expand as well. Both north-end and south-end students could attend a centrally located option school. Most Seattle option schools have K-8 programs, and the Boren site with an 800 student capacity is big enough to expand to K-8 program - even with adding students outside the original K-5 STEM student group. This would definitely help with middle school enrollment.

We need dedicated vibrant school communities for our kids, and we need school choices like STEM. Please consider what it would do to this school to shove it into a site where it cannot adequately provide for current and future students.

StringCheese said...

A huge mistake was made that can very easily be undone. WS has a huge new neighborhood school at Genesee Hill. The mistake was ever calling it "Schmitz Park". When extra capacity is needed, you open more seats while maintaining the ones you currently have. Genesee Hill should be opened and draw from Schmitz, Gatewood, and West Seattle Elem. Schmitz Park should remain open as a neighborhood school at its proper size. Would moving such a large number of students out of a perfectly decent building fly anywhere else in the district? SP should never have been allowed to grow the way that it did. Exactly how many non-neighborhood students does it currently have?

SP wasn't being abandoned because the school is falling apart. It rates above Arbor Heights, Roxhill, and Alki. It is being abandoned because the SP families are stating they don't want to be split. However, this simply cannot be the case. If so, they would be upset over the loss of families to a Fairmount Park neighborhood school. Either way, students get drawn out of the current SP zone. Period.

In keeping SP open, you actually increase the chances of an SP "clone" school (i.e. supported and successful) being established at Genesee.

Fairmount Park as a neighborhood school? Found anyone yet that wants to attend? All I have heard are excited SP and Lafayette families eager for someone else to leave to go to FP so they can have a better shot at getting siblings into SP or Lafayette.

Ask the FP neighborhood whether they would want STEM there (with a geo-zone practically guaranteeing admission) or an unknown random school thrown together and see which they prefer.

How exactly do you justify, under any possible semblance of equity, putting an incredibly popular STEM school at SP where the geozone would benefit the families who many already see as having overflowing resources? Considering the district insisted on implementing a geo-zone this year, that would mean they are committed to busing even more students from the mid-section of WS to the north end.

Charlie, you make a great point regarding the common sense of a STEM K-8 at Boren. I know I, and many other families would be thrilled. However, I must disagree regarding FP. A neighborhood school is needed where the majority of children reside. More common sense boundaries would do a lot more to relieve this pressure than a feeble opening of a neighborhood school no one really seems to want to attend.

mirmac1 said...

Tara,

I understand why you would be concerned. Just look at JSIS to observe what happens when an option school tries to narrow its boundaries. There was such a tiff that another school close by was opened as language immersion too (with exorbitant pressures on neighborhood families to cough up $Ks in fundraising and "donations"). Now there are two language immersion schools right next to each other, and if you live next door but don't want that, tough luck. That is capacity management by spinelessness.

ws said...

string cheese- just want to clarify, there are probably many kids in the upper grades not in the neighborhood boundaries for SP, but for last years K's class I know of only one child that got in off the wait list after school started and this was because a neighborhood kid left the school in the first month.

SP boundaries were drawn way too big. WS people tried communicating this to the district but no one listened. why they were drawn bigger and allowed to fill so much I do not know.

JM said...

I think APP should offer a program at Fairmount Park. So many West Seattle students who qualify would love to stay in this community, more so than currently make the treck to Thurgood Marshall or opt for Private schools. Central West Seattle would be ideal for such a program. The remaining seats could be filled with neighborhood students, who would benefit from the program, as they have at Thurgood, which has co-housed general Ed, APP and Autism programs.

Heidi A said...

Thank you for raising this, Charlie. The K-5 STEM PTA has asked about this possibility from day one. We were immediately shut down each time, with the statement that SPS "needs" the building "in case...". There is no plan for Boren after we leave. There are no schools planned that would need the space. Yet, we now hear SPS say repeatedly, we have to do what is necessary and cannot afford "luxuries." Seems to me that maintaining a vacant building is a luxury that we can't afford right now when it is absolutely necessary to add capacity for current students. We are working on a proposal.

The truth is SPS (and maybe others pounding the nighborhood school drum) are afraid of our success because it highlights the undeniable truth that there is gross inequity in our schools. But - our school is a solution to that disparity. Come tour our school, we are diverse and not full of privilged students.

But the response I get from some at SPS is that it was bad to draw from other diverse schools. So, we stick STEM in an affluent neighborhood and cut-out those at West Seattle Elementary, Highland Park, Roxhill and others. How I would love to be a Schmitz Park parent with the option of choosing between two great schools, Schmitz Park at Genesse or STEM at Schmitz Park! How lucky for them that the district can "cap" access to their neighborhood.

How does the district not see how inequitable it is? It STINKS.

We should keep the school centrally located (currently the geozone is around West Seattle elementary) and in a building that can accommodate the highest number of interested families.

Yes, I absolutely agree neighborhood schools should be improved and should have rigorous offerings in STEM subjects. But how do we get there? It doesn't happen magically by forcing people into schools they don't want to go to. But we can create model programs that can then be replicated in those schools. And we don't have to give up on the students that are here TODAY that are well served by our school's alternative project based curriculum.

We can think outside the box. Why not make Schmitz Park a school with TWO buildings near by? Current building is for K-2, new building 3-5. That helps the north end capacity and keeps families together in a school with a single PTA. Why have we not considered that?

Heidi A said...

And, I agree with the comments about the lack of real interest in Fairmount Park as a neighborhood school (other than by those who want others to be forced to go their). I live in central West Seattle and am very involved. I know not a single person interested in sending their child to FP as a neighborhood school. It was failing when it was open. It's going to take a very attractive option for anyone to choose to send a child their. Obviously, our succcess shows that STEM would draw people there to efficiently utilize the 500+ seats on day one. Current plan is to open without using the full buidling because it will mostly be Kindergarteners from less influential neighborhoods who are forced there. Nice job, SPS.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to see comments from those of you who are closely following the multiple issues around WS capacity planning! Has anyone organized a group to discuss these ideas and advocate for a good plan?

Tara

Charlie Mas said...

I certainly understand the train of thought that goes like this:

1. Schmitz Park unsuitable for use as an attendance area school because it is too small and too close to other attendance area schools.

2. Therefore it is only suitable for use as an option school.

3. Since K-5 STEM is the only option school in West Seattle that needs a home, therefore it should go to Schmitz Park.

While putting K-5 STEM at Schmitz Park makes sense from this perspective, this is the most egregious example of the operations tail wagging the academic dog that I can even imagine. I see this as the exactly wrong perspective to bring to the question.

The preferred perspective would be one that begins with the students. What is best for the students?

It cannot be better for the students to move from real classrooms in a permanent building with excellent transportation access to classrooms in portables at a site with poor transportation access.

How about this? Let's go ahead and declare Schmitz Park as the eventual permanent location for K-5 STEM, but let's delay the move until the building is ready for the program. Leave K-5 STEM at its interim site at Boren until after the work is done at Schmitz Park - in about eight years.

Charlie Mas said...

Here is a link to the District's projected capacity needs.

On slide 8 you can see that the District projects about 200 extra middle school seats in the Madison service area and less than 200 seats needed in the Denny service area. In short, the District only has to shift one elementary school with two classes per grade from feeding Denny to feeding Madison to balance the whole equation.

There is no middle school enrollment imbalance disaster looming that Fairmount Park will not fix - if it is included in the Madison service area and feeder pattern instead of the Denny service area and feeder pattern.

The extension of STEM from K-5 to K-8 will create some excess capacity and allow some needed flexibility in the system.

But that's an operational reason to do it. The academic reason, to provide a STEM middle school option which is currently missing, is a better reason. The equity reason, to provide the Denny service area with equitable access to an option school and a K-8 school, is better reason. These are the considerations that should be driving our decisions, academic needs and policy priorities, not operational preferences.

Charlie Mas said...

Those who think that Boren is needed as an interim site, please tell which school needs to move into Boren that could not move into EC Hughes or Schmitz Park. All of the West Seattle secondary schools were recently renovated. There are only elementary schools that could need it for the next thirty years. Surely any one of them could fit into Schmitz Park, which is, currently, one of the biggest elementary schools in the region.

There seems to be some disagreement about the need for additional middle school capacity in West Seattle. mirmac1 says that there is no need for any more capacity, while Lynn says that the region needs 100 more seats. We have the District's resident projections (which includes APP students who leave for Washington), but we do not have building capacity numbers. What is the capacity at Madison and Denny and what is the middle school capacity at Pathfinder? Without the capacity numbers and without a sense of how many APP students leaving for Washington would stay if there were an APP pathway in West Seattle, we can't reach any conclusions.

Heidi A said...

Good points, Charlie. This is exactly why we need real community discourse. We have many bright minds in WS that will be harder to ignore if we have many participating.

To that end and to answer Tara's question, the K-5 STEM PTA is hosting a meeting on Monday for the purpose of discussion the proposals and rational alternatives. All are welcome - August 5th at 6:30 at Southwest Library (9010 35th Ave. SW).

Sorry for short notice - but we have short notice on community meetings with Director McClaren and district staff (let's hope that they are not just for the appearance of listening to community input):

Saturday, August 3
Marty McLaren, Growth Boundary Meeting
10am-12, Southwest Branch Library (9010 35th Ave SW)

Wednesday, August 14
Marty McLaren, Growth Boundary Meeting
6-7:45pm, West Seattle Branch Library (2306 42nd Ave. SW, behind Metropolitan Market)

Saturday, August 17
Let’s Talk Meeting with District Officials
1-3pm, John Stanford Center
(2445 3rd Avenue South, Room 2750)


Mom 2.0 said...

I've got 2nd and 5th graders at STEM and would love to see it extended to K-8. I had a concern from the beginning about the middle school pathway, but figured the district would work it out (we're new to SPS, so I was obviously too optimistic). Not sure how much traction was made at Denny and Madison, but I'm guessing Madison's new principal has higher priorities than ensuring continuity in STEM education.

If K-8 STEM were to "roll up" a grade each year, we would be in a position to provide some relief when enrollment trends indicate a middle school bump would occur. I think it's also safe to say that a K-8 STEM would not have the same number of 6-8th graders as regular middle school. We'd be adding less than half the capacity of a typical middle school, not a third middle school in West Seattle.

I also want to stress the project based learning (PBL) aspect of our school, which I think is overshadowed by our Singapore math program. I agree that all schools should have strong science and math curriculum, but PBL isn't right for every school.

Charlie, thanks for starting this conversation. I was the STEM parent at the June Let's Talk meeting and really appreciated your questions and perspective.

Heidi A said...

Sorry - one more thing because I think someone needs to have the cojones to say it explicitly. As I mention above, the recommendation to place K-5 STEM at Schmitz Park stinks. And by that, I meant of the implicit bias that has resulted in other decisions that had a disparate impact on minorities.

K-5 STEM also has a transition pre-school program and, this year, will have an autism inclusion program. These programs will be displaced again if the school goes to Schmitz park where there is no room for them. Where will they go?

Anonymous said...

Disparate impact on minorities. Oh, you mean like closing Cooper and plunking a K-8 option school there?

I realize that it serves a purpose to make this building grab into a social justice/good for ALL the children kinda thing. That rings hollow when the Fairmount Park neighborhood's needs are dismissed out of hand.

I've been to enough meetings where this PTA makes demands. Yeah Charlie what IS best for the students, at Sanislo, Highland Park, Cooper and Fairmount Park?

Sanislo parent

Heidi A said...

Yes, I do mean like what happened with Cooper. No one would be displaced at either Farimount Park or Boren because no one is currently at either location. But anyone from Sanislo, Highland Park, and the Fairmount Park area are effectively displaced from any access to a project based learning STEM school if we are moved to Schmitz Park. Our geozone is WSE, that won't be the case if moved to Schmitz Park. Is that best for the children of Sanislo, Highland Park, and Fairmount who could benefit from the alternative approach?

I don't think any of us are dismissing the Fairmount Park neighborhood's needs. To the contrary, several of us on the PTA board and original design team are from the neighborhood, yet we know no one who wants it as a neighborhood school; plenty are thrilled to have it as K-5 STEM.

Truly sorry that you see advocacy as demands; we are trying to speak up for a plan that is beneficial for all of WS. Most of us speaking up will be gone by the time the decision is implemented, it's not self interst. but I feel an obligation to speak up as a founding steward and have very personal reasons for advocating for the less affluent families without influential PTAs

wsmama3 said...

I'm in the "Fairmount Park neighborhood" and here is what I need.... SPS to start making decisions that are reasonable and helpful, and well thought out. Does that mean as a STEM PTA member that I get "demanding"... heck yeah! No one else is demanding that all kids in West Seattle have the best education available! We come from all these schools, so as a community we are super aware the situation "on the ground" and feel a true obligation to make opportunities for all kids in this community.

I've been at 99% of these meetings and honestly can say it doesn't matter where we go. The teachers, the way we are doing education and learning is revolutionary. SPS actively making choices to limit that exposure to more kids is a shame. And if I am "demanding" by saying that nicely than so be it.

Anonymous said...

"PBL isn't right for every school."
(Mom 2.0)

"While differentiated instruction is a huge challenge with the traditional instructional strategies, it can be readily incorporated into project-based instruction...APP instruction would fit easily into the instructional strategy at STEM" (Charlie)

What do these comments actually mean? Research is clear that students who are in schools with high FRL and "minority" populations are stuck with the most drill-and- kill instruction when, in fact, they need enrichment and project based learning as much (or more) than their well-off peers.

This mentality really stinks, people. The focus should be on overcoming Goodloe-Johnson's stranglehold on classroom teacher flexibility, rather than acting like only certain children and populations can "handle" project based learning.

I'm all for incorporating these choice programs like STEM, but not under the guise that only the deserving get a quality education.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

"The teachers, the way we are doing education and learning is revolutionary."

Actually, it's anything but revolutionary, but it might look that way if you have only had experience since NCLB and the Goodloe-Johnson reign in Seattle.

Many teachers and schools were doing Project Based Learning as a matter of course until the testing mania started (I also believe that schools needed to be more accountable but not by killing actual teaching).

It's great news that the pendulum may finally be swinging back.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I live in Tacoma, but know of someone who sends her children to the STEM school in West Seattle. She is raving about it and I am considering moving there if it becomes a middle school.

My daughter will be entering 5th grade, and I am looking beyond the south sound at middle school options. If STEM K-5 becomes STEM K-8, I would relocate in a heartbeat. K-8 schools of any type are much more effective for those children who need a more intimate environment to thrive. My daughter is one of those people, so I will be keeping a close eye on how things develop here.

Best of luck and keep up the amazing momentum!

Charlie Mas said...

"I'm all for incorporating these choice programs like STEM, but not under the guise that only the deserving get a quality education."

Oh. Good. Because that's not the guise that was used. No one either said or suggested any such thing.

Charlie Mas said...

Sanislo parent asked:

"Yeah Charlie what IS best for the students, at Sanislo, Highland Park, Cooper and Fairmount Park?"

Gee, you tell me. How would the siting of K-5 STEM impact students at Sanislo or Highland Park? As for Cooper, do you mean Pathfinder?

There are no students at Fairmount Park, so I don't see how the location of K-5 STEM will impact that population of zero in any way regardless of the decision.

My answer would be that students at Sanislo, Highland Park, and Pathfinder would be best served by having high quality education delivered in their attendance area school without overcrowded classrooms and for them to have the option of alternative instructional strategies at other schools accessible to them.

Do you have a different answer?

Anonymous said...

Heidi A, thank you for the info re meetings. I will do my best to attend a couple of them. If it hasn't happened already, I hope someone will get the folks at the WS Blog to post these meeting times and write up the issues at hand. It might help to get more parents involved. Those of us with preschoolers - who will live with the SPS decisions and consequences the longest - are not getting invited to the PTA meetings, etc.

Tara

Anonymous said...

No. I meant Cooper. Those kids who live in the Delridge area and were shipped off to kingdom come because a K-8 wanted their new building. And Fairmount Park residents of K-5 school age who were shipped off in the same boat. The vocal PTAs are the ones who get the buildings. Nice. I'll bet the Pathfinder folks argued that those Cooper families didn't want to use that building, and they deserved the revolutionary, extra special offerings of that K-8.

Sanislo parent

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

When you proposed combining APP and STEM, through the rationale that Project Based Learning is a learning style for APP students rather than a teaching method, then you certainly made a clear argument for admitting select students. APP is not open to all, and combining it with STEM would limit access to all students in the region.

--enough already

wsmama3 said...

Tara,
Please do come - we have a facebook page and a website and our meetings are always posted on those and on the West Seattle Blog.

Our community is bigger than just those of us there - it's everyone who will be impacted by all these decisions long term.

Come say hi if you make it! - Robin

wsmama3 said...

APP and STEM could be co-located (think program in s school) much like APP is at TM. STEM could operate as an option school - not limited by those kids who are APP.

Charlie Mas said...

@enough already

"When you proposed combining APP and STEM, through the rationale that Project Based Learning is a learning style for APP students rather than a teaching method, then you certainly made a clear argument for admitting select students."

Interesting hypothesis, but I didn't do that.

Here's what I wrote:

"While differentiated instruction is a huge challenge with the traditional instructional strategies, it can be readily incorporated into project-based instruction."

I don't mind being called to account for what I write, but I don't like being blamed for things I did not write.

StringCheese said...

Sanislo, the parallels you seem to want to draw here simply can't be made. In my experience, most people agree that Cooper got a raw deal, and i hope the same mistake would not be repeated. If Fairmount were currently occupied, this would be a very different conversation. However, FP is EMPTY. Furthermore, FP is not Cooper. Although some of the prior Cooper service area might be drawn into the FP attendance area should it become a NS, this has nothing to do with Cooper.

If there is a huge outcry from FP neighborhood families for starting up a new school, then I encourage them to come forward. Again, personal conversations with FP neighborhood families has shown NOT that they, themselves, wish to attend a new non-established NS, but for OTHER PEOPLE to choose to go there and release seats at Lafayette and SP for their children. The other thing I've heard is that people would love to have STEM as a choice there. The truth is that people in the FP neighborhood (and Cooper) are currently attending some of the most desired elem. schools in WS, Lafayette and SP.

What happened with Cooper was wrong. This is simply not the same thing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Those kids who live in the Delridge area and were shipped off to kingdom come because a K-8 wanted their new building.

Nope.

Again, lay the blame where it should go and that's right at the feet of district staff and the New School Foundation. THAT's why Cooper got kicked out of their building.

The reason probably doesn't matter because the end result was the same - it stinks.

BUT, understand that it was not Pathfinder's call at all. They were in one of the worst buildings (and look at it getting rebuild now and not for them, fyi)and STILL couldn't get a rebuild.

But New School (now South Shore) in a '70s building that had issues (but real structural problems, no), somehow they made the top of the list. I still call BS.

That domino started and then Pathfinder was still in a crappy building with the entire middle school in portables. (Eckstein should consider that one - how about your entire middle school experience in portables.)

But the district knew they couldn't leave Pathfinder there and picked Cooper. (The rest of the in-fighting I cannot speak to well but the backstory I know.)

Dumb, dumb, dumb. (And, look for South Shore to be one of the picks for a charter group to take over - a nice, new $65M building.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Also, if all it took was a vocal PTA to get a rebuild, many schools would have been redone.

Nope, Arbor Heights? The worst. Meany? The worst.

StringCheese said...

One more thing...

We have yet to see ANY data whatsoever that is informing the staff recommendations. If they can demonstrate that they have run all of the possible scenarios and that the data for WS for the next 10 years points overwhelmingly to their proposal, I will stop. So far, I've encountered nothing but the faint, but detectable, odor of back-room politicking...

Anonymous said...

Your suggestion that APP should be combined with STEM would certainly restrict the eligibility of ALL students who could attend the STEM school. Is this incorrect?

Your reference to the type of instruction APP students would be responsive to (PBL), and the fact that this style would fit into the STEM approach, is the rationale that you used to promote the two schools being put into the same building. If this is not what you meant, then what did you mean?

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Heidi - Do you know why families in Fairmount Park don't want their kids to attend a nearby school with their neighbors? That seems curious to me.

Thurgood Marshall's multiple programs work well together because the principal is supportive of all of them. How does the STEM principal feel about APP students? Also, how do you think APP families would feel about your uniform requirement?

JM - (The district suggests 250 is the minimum for an APP elementary program. If Fairmount Park has a general education program - I don't see what could be done there for the less than 60 elementary APP kids in West Seattle.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

The capacity numbers I used are from the 2012 Facilities Master Plan. It's still marked draft - but can be found by searching on the district website.

Lynn

StringCheese said...

Lynn, to answer your question to Heidi A, there isn't much mystery as to people's aversion to jumping on the FP neighborhood bandwagon. First, families that already have children in SPS, most are already enrolled in successful, proven programs at SP and Lafayette. Add in a brand spanking new building for SP and the question becomes, "Why leave what is working?" The second factor involves all of the unknowns that goes with starting a school from scratch. As STEM can readily attest, it is not easy. Unknown principal, unknown teachers, non-existent PTA, unknown curriculum. Again, why leave? STEM was so successful with these same adversities because the Project Based Learning STEM curriculum was incredibly desirable. The district could force incoming K classes by assignment but you are not likely to get people leaving current schools for an unknown entity with nothing going for it aside from proximity. You might get some transfers from less successful WS schools but that only increases the district's transportation burden rather than diminishing it.

Heidi, did I miss anything?

Ms. Austin said...

Again, it comes down to what is best for the kids at every school.

Like every school, STEM wants and deserves a permanent home where it can continue to be a vibrant thriving community. With so many kids on the wait list, it seems clear that expanding capacity to more kdis, rather than limiting capacity, should be a primary goal.

There is no consensus on whether STEM should go to Fairmont Park or stay at Boren - just a strong number of STEM members who think Schmitz Park is not a good location. Moving to Schmitz Park will focus access on the north-end of West Seattle and limit capacity at a school that has become highly successful in its very first year (undoubtably because WS NEEDED a school like this).

These meetings have been set to discuss, whether there is a true need and desire for a K-8 STEM program that could effectively utilize Born, and whether there is a true need and desire for a neighborhood school at Fairmont Park. Simply put, if you are a STEM parent, or a parent who lives in either the Schmitz Park or Fairmont Park areas, these decisions affect you and you should come to a meeting.

Heidi A said...

Exactly, string cheese. Fairmount neighborhood is currently assigned to gatewood. We left gatewood for stem. I love the GW community, but we left for project based curriculum. I wouldn't leave to go to an unknown sure to face problems as a start up. Gatewood, i would add, is not far from Fairmount, i consider both part of my neighborhood.
Also, dont assume Fairmount park will actually serve the neighborhood. There's a lot of discussion of shifting the former cooper boundary to Fairmont park. Yeah, that makes sense to again shift that neighborhood.

wsmama3 said...

I have no idea how it could work (APP or K-8 STEM) and honestly I am throwing out any and all ideas. What I do know is that SPS is looking for an APP site in West Seattle. What I do know is we need a middle school pathway (and seats!) for middle school)

Moving a program into Boren with STEM (either as 2 schools or as a program in a school or possible other options) are all on the (my) table.

As for uniforms - if a family makes the choice to not attend a school because of the uniform that is totally their prerogative.

Principal would have a choice - just like when a program moves or school closes or SPS makes any one of the 1000 decisions they make.

This is the brainstorming I'd like to see SPS doing.

No, I did not write that STEM and APP would restrict the eligibility of ALL students. STEM is an option school, APP is a program you need to be accepted to. Again - I have no idea how on earth it could be structured but many STEM kids are not APP kids.

APP might or might not choose to use PBL. That is a curriculum decision.


Again - this is all in response to SPS NOT thinking about all options. There are obvious pros and cons to any and all decisions and as a community we think (after hours and hours of discussion) that we might be on to something that could work for more families.




Anonymous said...

One of the proposals at the end of 2011 alongside starting K5STEM was creating a K-only campus at Boren to relieve the crowding at Gatewood, Roxhill, West Seattle Elementary, Schmitz Park, Lafayette, etc. There was a loud outcry against this from the entire WS community at meetings I attended. No one wanted to be forced to send their kids to a K only school that lacked the comprehensive program of a full K-5. Just like many parents were against the 6th grade academy idea in North Seattle recently. K5STEM was the alternative but many feared it wouldn't help the capacity problems at all. Instead K5STEM was able to help Gatewood and West Seattle Elementary reduce their crowding (the top two neighborhoods STEM students came from). Projected additional portables at Gatewood (and WSE I think?) were canceled after the K5STEM enrollment impact. By moving the PreK and transitional K program from Roxhill to K5STEM, it freed up classrooms at that school as well.

Now Fairmount Park families who don't have money for private school or sibling preference at other schools face starting in a K-only school. Imagine your kids having teachers new to the school every year for six years. These are the same families who have the least PTA leadership and fund raising experience. These are also many of the same families (the one's who don't have the funds to move or go private) who don't have the free time to volunteer or extra income to donate. I suspect FP would be like the other catch-22 schools: too wealthy to get FRL funds but too poor to raise tens of thousands from parents. I also fear that the perceived neighborhood school need is for planned construction in the triangle area that is years away and may or may not add elementary aged public school kids. Show us the data! We can adjust boundaries if and when that happens but we shouldn't put kids back in the very portables at SP that the will of the voters said “NO MORE!” to if we have empty seats at newly renovated FP and Boren. -Was There

Anonymous said...

String Cheese mentions SP and Lafayette. While it's true that many families living around Fairmount Park have older kids at SP and Lafayette the homes surrounding the school were assigned to West Seattle Elementary (before NSAP) and then Gatewood, never SP or Lafayette. Younger students in the FP neighborhood are not getting in to North WS schools even with sibling preference. I know several families in the FP neighborhood with an older kid at Lafayette or SP and a younger one who couldn't get in who seem to want FP to open with the Cooper area reassigned to FP or some of SP so their younger kids can get into SP or Lafayette. Not that there's anything wrong with wanting to keep siblings together, but these voices should not be mistaken for FP neighbors who want to send their kids to a new neighborhood school.

Also when you look at the impact of moving APP to Boren or Fairmount Park you need to include the numbers of kids who are APP qualified but go to Spectrum or their neighborhood schools instead to stay in West Seattle. I have anecdotal evidence that this happens a lot especially in the lower grades. If an APP elementary option was in West Seattle it would not just be kids currently at TM filling it.

Rolling up a K-8STEM at Boren that could mushroom to provide more middle school seats when needed and have an optional Pathway to Cleveland STEM could totally solve the projected need for MS an HS seats in West Seattle if the numbers are right. I think lots of families who were not interested in sending an elementary student (especially K) to a STEM program would be really interested in MS STEM. By then you have more evidence that your child is really STEM-focused by their interests and career aspirations. -Was There

Anonymous said...

Can we never build new neighborhood schools then? Either new attendance area schools have to start with kindergarten only - or the district has to reassign older children to a new school - or every new school we build has to be a option school.

STEM is freeing up seats at West Seattle Elementary and Gatewood - but a neighborhood school at Fairmount Park would do that too.

If a K-8 STEM can fill up Boren, that might make the most sense. If we have to use Schmitz Park in order to keep it, how about removing the portables, cleaning up the building and putting a Montessori option school there? I wonder how much it would cost to do that.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Does K5STEM have to remain an option school? Could it move to Fairmount and then become a neighborhood school with a STEM curriculum focus like Arbor Heights is doing? Seems that way the currently enrolled cohort continues on together and slowly each subsequent year the incoming Kindergarten grade could then be filled with kids from within whatever the FP boundaries are once they established those.

Just throwing out ideas. A STEM K-8 at Boren does sound appealing too.
-Neighbor

StringCheese said...

Lynn, I believe that SPS has created a culture in which it is extremely hard to successfully open a new school. Unless the district grows some cajones and pulls the plug on grandfathering, no one will switch from what they know is a successful program to an unknown. Also, it is not like FP is a "new" school. It is an old, motel-style-outdoor-walkway school with dated facilities.

When I was growing up in a suburb of a large city in a different state, I went to 3 different schools between K and 5th as new schools were built. We didn't have any choice to stay. It was what it was and as "devastated" as I'm sure I was to be forced to switch schools before 5th grade, we all survived. That said, all schools had advanced learning, music, art, FT school nurses, and science labs. (None of it funded by PTAs) Switching schools, unlike SPS, didn't mean losing any services.

The FP situation is made more difficult by the fact that the community they are trying to tie together do not have any real community ties. You have no real core seed of individuals/teachers/families with which to approach all of the challenges that come with starting a new school. In contrast, keeping Schmitz open and splitting off Genesee Hill would seed both the new Genesee building and SP with families/faculty/students with the knowledge to recreate the success of the current SP.

Don't forget that a school starting slowly with few students also suffers from the weighted staffing standards problem. Fewer students means fewer staff (outside the standard admin core). You lose positions and hours for music/art, nurse, etc. Imagine trying to get specialists to agree to come in for a 0.1 FTE position.

All told, I still don't see it as the best solution. Still waiting on ANY data supporting their recommendations...

Anonymous said...

Good point Lynn, and I do have a response. I think it's easier to start a new MS or HS from scratch because families already have SPS experience like running a PTA. Also, for MS or HS it's only 3-4 years to roll up not 6. Rolling up a school from K may not always be avoidable but when it reasonably can be prevented I think it should be. If it has to be done, there needs to be a plan to make it fair and successful. When the 6th grade Academy was proposed for North Seattle recently there were all sorts of promises floated of how to make it fair and successful for families. Things like giving extra funding for extracurricular staff, moving the well-liked experienced teachers from the existing middle schools there, having the other PTA's in the region sponsor the new school's PTA so that it could share the funds raised and get off the ground smoothly. If FP rolls up from K or K-1 it needs this sort of help too. It was an unpopular school with no PTA when it closed.

We have a unique situation here because we have a K5 School in the area in need of a new home with a geozone very close to FP and the ability to fill the building K-5 in year 1 or 2. This school is drawing lots of kids from the area surrounding FP, and needs a central location for the other enrolled students to minimize transportation costs and times. Have you seen the waiting list for K5STEM?

We also have a near-by Spectrum program that is crowding out it's co-housed neighborhood school and splitting up families. Last I heard qualified kids couldn't get into Spectrum at Lafayette unless they already lived in the neighborhood zone and were offered not really there yet program at far away Arbor Heights. I don't know what the current status is on the Spectrum seats but putting APP or Spectrum at FP is an option that should be on the table to help the school start with more than K.

We also already have the promise of another language immersion school in West Seattle and the call for a WS APP site for the equity throughout the city. Either of these could solve the many problems of a K-only school at FP. The feeder pattern for language programs to overcrowded Denny is a given so APP or STEM makes more sense.

If you have to start a K-5 school from scratch and it can't be a special program, I think it should be done by splitting an existing successful school that is too crowded into two locations. Why wasn't this the solution for SP? It could still be split into Gen Hill and old SP or Gen Hill and FP and you would quickly have two successful K-5 schools. I think FP is getting a deal no other community would accept simply because unlike AH, K5STEM, SP, APP etc. it doesn't have any parents or staff or representation to lobby for its interests. How is that fair?

The Montessori idea was more popular than STEM for a new K-5 school in 2011, but we were told SPS has a terrible time finding qualified staff for its current Montessori programs so WS is just never going to have any access to that option, tough luck. -Was There

Heidi A said...

Yes, the school that is k-5 STEM should remain an option school. Should all non-option schools have strong stem curriculum? Of course! What is not always understood is that the school that is k-5 STEM is a project based learning environment with a focus on STEM subjects. It's alternative method that engages my son, but it's not right for every child. Some do better with less structured Montessori programs, some do better with more structure in a typical school. That's the beauty of an option, we can reach students that aren't engaged by the norm and find places where all kids can reach their full potential.

StringCheese said...

Very well stated, Just There. No matter what, SP isn't going to be able to stay together -- whether it be to move enough kids to alleviate overcrowding at the current SP building or siphoning off families to Fairmount -- the result is the same. The district should really be focusing on how to best creat two exceptional schools using the teaching and family resources that SP has. The line that SP supports the FP neighborhood plan because they don't want to be split is disingenuous. Families will be drawn out of SP no matter what. Best to make the best of those resources and keep the Schmitz Park building open as a small neighborhood school as the Schmitz Family has always intended for their amazing gift of that land.

Anonymous said...

But out of curiosity, aside from personal preference, could the K5STEM option program be converted over the next 5 years to instead be a STEM neighborhood school at Fairmount Park instead of a option school at Fairmount Park?

Would Schmitz Park work as a stand alone elementary West Seattle APP site? What about a K-8 APP program at Schmitz Park?
-Neighbor

Anonymous said...

Lynn, to respond to your second point. If you can accomplish a goal in two ways surely you should pick the kindest, fairest, least disruptive one. I'd always support a “pull” over a “push” if it will do enough to solve the capacity problem. In a perfect world every school could just get a brand-new right-sized building like SP is doing. I know why they lobbied so hard to get it because redrawing boundaries hurts schools, communities, and families. Jane Adams got a chance to show they could make a “pull' work by attracting Eckstein and Hamilton MS area kids. Why not give K5STEM a chance to do the same with a carefully designed geozone? The current demand seems to show it could be a win-win capacity solution for the existing crowded FP area schools. We will have Hughes, Old SP, and Old Denny, new AH to work with in the future, but I think we should always use large centrally located schools for the sought after successful programs. Forcing people into a program they don't want and leaving lots of seat empty for 5 years should not be the way forward. There are other possible draws to help FP succeed but STEM was the originally proposed plan that WS supported in 2011. I haven't seen the evidence that it isn't a good solution. If STEM stays at Boren, FP needs something else to help it succeed. The FP area preschool families need to be surveyed if that's what it takes to get the data right. In the preSTEM meetings lots of people said they would move to K5STEM once when it was in a permanent location and had proven itself. Current K5STEM families signed on knowing that there would be a move in 2014. Because it's an option school families can get younger siblings in if they choose and it doesn't split families the way a new neighborhood school does. They seem to vocally welcome the move to FP or a stay at Boren. In contrast families who were counting on another school who would be forced into FP (maybe split from siblings) are not being heard from because they don't know it will happen to them yet. With a few more years and less uncertainty K5STEM could be split/replicated at old SP (remodeled) or expanded to K-8 at Boren leaving FP as a geozone or neighborhood STEM school. If STEM moves far away from it's current families now and into a too small building that could easily prevent it from being a thriving school. Families could go back to their neighborhood schools and mess up the new boundaries again. If SP needs to stay open then some of SP should stay there (less disruption for kids and families) or it could be the new WS APP site. -Was There

Anonymous said...

Where is this claim that we must use SP every year or lose it coming from? I've never heard that before. I know the family wrote a letter saying it wants it used. I also heard it was given for use as a neighborhood school and might not be able to be anything else. Is that the case? Couldn't it be closed for a short period, remodeled, and then reopened as a neighborhood school when it's needed....which should be soon given the recent SP growth! -Was There

Anonymous said...

Was There,

If K-5 STEM is placed at Fauntleroy, the Geo Zone tiebreaker will eventually make it impossible for students outside the neighborhood to get in. Students from Sanislo, Highland Park, Alki and Roxhill will lose their access to STEM.

It's a good idea to ask families of preschoolers in the area if they'd prefer a general education program - or STEM. Does the district ever do that?

How is it splitting up a school community (SP) kind, fair and not disruptive?

The district isn't going to create APP-only schools - so that's not going to happen at Schmitz Park.

Lynn

StringCheese said...

There is no solution that doesn't split up SP. under any scenario, families will get drawn out of the SP attendance area. This is an opportunity for the district to make a smart decision and make the "pain" result in the most successful outcome. Keeping the SP campus open for its immediate neighborhood while simultaneously opening Genesee for its appropriate neighborhood boundaries has the greatest potential for the creation of two highly desirable and successful "Schmitz" schools.

Anonymous said...

Lynn & All,

Thanks for the dialog. I hope you will come to the meetings and voice your concerns and ideas. We all have a lot to learn and consider about this complex situation. Here are my thoughts and some more info:

For option schools sibling is a higher tiebreaker than geozone. If STEM becomes too crowded families will not be split, instead neighborhood kids will not get in. This year siblings and geozone kids got it, others did not. That is with a super large geozone that was drawn to alleviate WS Elem. crowding not to be a walk-zone as the concept was intended. I think crowding out a reasonable geozone is unlikely to happen before Arbor Heights has their new building and a second WS STEM school is up and running there to draw off some of the demand for K5STEM. Also geozones can and do get adjusted year to year without making a painful neighborhood school boundary redraw. There is not a perceived guarantee to access an option school the same way as there is for neighborhood schools....option schools are always lottery based on space so no guarantees. SPS could open another STEM school at Hughes or offer the program elsewhere if it is so in demand that a 500 seat school can't accommodate enough. I am hopeful that SPS will have a better math curriculum and more PBL at other elementary schools (with SP and K5STEM helping bring this change about) and students won't have to go leave the schools to get access to these. Alki, Gatewood, Lafayette and other schools have already changed their math.

I'm not sure that K5STEM at FP is the best solution, a K-8 at Boren sounds compelling too. I do think that FP would be far better than K5STEM at old SP and that is what the K5STEM community thinks and the FP neighbors I know who would be assigned to FP think. The enrollment numbers do not show a demand for K5STEM in the SP neighborhood (where PBL and Singapore Math are already available).

The neighborhood of SP and the school district has benefited from the generosity of the Schmitz family all these years. Suddenly asking a school in Delridge with a High Point geozone with a enrollment that is too large for this campus to move to this far away location seems like asking more disadvantaged families to be in the portables farm that everyone agreed was not a good learning environment. STEM's current kids would have to spend much more time on buses and their families would have a harder time participating at school events and volunteering at the school. People who enrolled this year from the High Point area geozone were told staying at Boren, FP, or Hughes were the possible permanent locations, all campuses close to their homes. This seems like a real bait and switch to fulfill a debt of gratitude for a gift these communities did not directly benefit from.

con't below -Was There

Anonymous said...

The late breaking news that the family doesn't want the school closed should not have come as a surprise. Did the family want all those portables moved onto the campus? The needs of the district and the demand for SP drove those decisions instead. Why isn't the demand for K5STEM allowed to influence its placement? SP is slated to move to GH midyear are we going to ask another school to move midyear so the building will always be used? I hope not. I think closing it for a year or two, removing the portables, and seeing what is needed in that neighborhood would be a better answer. I know families who live close to old SP who bought their homes 5+ years ago so they could send their kids to this small neighborhood school. Now they are going elsewhere because the small neighborhood school they wanted is gone. If SP was returned to its original vision it would meet the needs of kids who would thrive in a smaller community who don't do as well in the larger noisy environment of a 500+ seat school. Some aren't able to get into Pathfinder and would love a smaller old SP. That could be a win-win for SP area families having a choice between a larger GH with more offerings and a smaller more intimate school at SP. I know the smaller schools are going away because of economies of scale but for an APP program or Pathfinder-like option program this could be a needed addition. K5STEM decided to accept 4 K's in year one and then plan for a 3 homeroom per grade future because that fit their educational strategies while allowing the most access from all over WS and beyond. What goals does moving them to a 2-up campus far away serve?

Moving, starting, or splitting up any school is disruptive. However, if it has to be done I favor sharing the challenges. Not giving SP and other schools all the established resources and asking FP to start with nothing. K5STEM started with nothing (unfortunately the district broke their promises to provide things for them like a playground on day one) yet parents chose to take some of those sacrifices on for other benefits. FP as a neighborhood school would not be a choice. Families would be forced into an unequal position unless the district provides an attractive draw or other extra help to build the school. I don't favor splitting SP. I favor putting another draw into FP like APP or STEM. I think STEM should be at Boren or FP (with an option to go K-8 at Boren in the future) I don't favor giving one school all the space they need and no portables in their area and asking another school to move far away to take their leftovers when nearby renovated seats are readily available at Boren or FP.

I believe the district currently has a stand-only APP school at Lincoln. If it needs to be associated with another nearby school like Lincoln is with Lowell there are several candidates. Maybe Lafayette could be associated and they could share some professional development, staff or other partnerships with the Spectrum program. -Was There

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is a great discussion and I hope someone can make up a paper/chart with the options and pros/cons. It would be helpful to Marty and the rest of the Board (and maybe the staff).

"It's a good idea to ask families of preschoolers in the area if they'd prefer a general education program - or STEM. Does the district ever do that?"

Well, that's a fun(ny) idea. The district barely asks existing parents anything but mirage parents? No.

I think I would opine - as someone who does not know the region well - that the district doesn't generally expand Option schools. So this idea of K-5 STEM "growing" at one school doesn't seem to be a valid idea.

They could create another one somewhere else OR have a co-housing a la Montessori.

But the beauty of Option Schools - for the district - is that they DO exist as option AND that they can control their size.

Anonymous said...

I 'm seeing what I said about the current K5STEM enrollment was not worded correctly. Nonsibling kids outside the geozone got it as well this year. It was just that all siblings and geozone kids got in first (for K at least).

Also, I want to reiterate I am not in favor of splitting current SP families. I commend the SP community for remaining welcoming under great stress and seeking a solution for all their members. I thank them for putting up with hardship to wait for a plan that would not exclude current kids from their school. They have found a solution. I was just responding to Lynn's hypothetical question of how to avoid staring a new K-5 from a K only roll up. I think the clear solution in this real case is to locate a program at FP like language immersion, STEM,Spectrum or APP that would allow the school to start as a K-5 campus with involved parents. If all the seats are needed for the growth in the triangle area down the road then the program could change. If we didn't have these options, splitting a successful overcrowded school that didn't have a new campus on the way would be a better solution than a K-only roll-up.
-Was There

Mom 2.0 said...

Melissa, K-5 STEM PTA posted their response to the SPS recommendations on their website: k5stempta.org, with a PTA meeting to discuss options and next steps on Monday 8/5.

StringCheese said...

Melissa, representatives from most PTAs (as many as we could wrestle together on short notice) met, discussed and submitted a letter, signed by all the WS PTAs, requesting the district to draw up a chart of scenarios to be shared with the community. This letter was sent to all School Board members, Banda, and staff known to be working on this issue in APRIL. Here we are in August with recommendations already submitted and not a shred of data in sight. With all of the shuffling around at JSCEE, who is the right person to contact to demand accountability and transparency on this? Is there a public records request that can be submitted?

Shouldn't the district have created the type of chart you are suggesting before making their recommendations? (I am only half-joking on that.)

Charlie Mas said...

enough already asked:

"Your suggestion that APP should be combined with STEM would certainly restrict the eligibility of ALL students who could attend the STEM school. Is this incorrect?"

Yes. That is incorrect. There would be plenty of space for students - both APP and non-APP at STEM if it were located in a building of adequate size, such as Boren.

"Your reference to the type of instruction APP students would be responsive to (PBL), and the fact that this style would fit into the STEM approach, is the rationale that you used to promote the two schools being put into the same building. If this is not what you meant, then what did you mean?"

I meant what I wrote. That STEM is using PBL, not that "this style would fit into the STEM approach". I wrote that PBL more readily lends itself to differentiated instruction than the traditional instructional strategy. Easier differentiated instruction suits students of all skill levels, including APP students, but certainly not exclusively APP students.

Anonymous said...

From the APP blog, June 25th:

Charlie says:

"I'm not sure what schools would be the APP alternative pathway in West Seattle, but an authentic and intentional stepped up K-8 STEM program at Boren would fit the bill very nicely given the Project-Based Learning there. Yes, a lot of chess pieces would have to move for this to happen, but not as many as you might fear."

It would be nice if your chess game included ensuring the program becomes successful for all students before figuring out how it might benefit APP kids. If the program becomes successful enough, it may need the whole space.

I knew I hadn't misunderstood you, so am still unsure why you corrected me in your second post. All schools are supposed to be doing differentiated instruction. You called it "APP instruction" in your original post. Herein, lies my concern.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

Interesting. My child gets differentiated instruction, yet its not PBL nor APP. Hmmmm. Sorry, this sounds like a bunch of subjective opining, not based on data.

Melissa Westbrook said...

String Cheese, I would assume that the staff does some kind of "if this, then that" chart.

If you want to ask for something via public disclosure, that's possible as well.

It sounds like you sent it to the most important decisionmakers but I would get this info to our blog, the West Seattle blog, and then get to the next School Board meeting with as many people as possible. Get out in front of the boundary meetings.

Good for all of you to meet and try to find solutions.

Anonymous said...

enough already,

I assume you are just annoyed (yet again) by the thought of someone making a plan for APP. On the slim chance you really don't understand, here's what I think Charlie is saying.

The district believes there are too many APP students south of the ship canal for one just one elementary program and one middle school program. They've determined how many students are needed for an effective program - and they do not anticipate we will have enough for two at either level. When this happened at Garfield, they started a smaller option APP program to entice students away from Garfield.

The district has identified overcrowding at TM and Washington as a problem. Where in West Seattle do you suggest we could provide the accelerated instruction APP students need? Charlie made a suggestion and you don't like it. What is yours?

Boren has room for about 750 students. If STEM stays there, they can have three classes per grade as a K-8. You could fit some APP students in there and have quite a few non-APP seats available.

I would not choose this program for my kids - but if it solves a problem for the district and for some West Seattle families - why is that a bad thing?

The district has indicated they intend to make pathways for immersion schools with two elementary schools, a middle and a high school. West Seattle has only one immersion elementary. Maybe we should leave STEM at Boren as a K-8 and open a K-5 immersion school at Fairmount Park - both as option schools and both with APP programs. That would pull families out of Schmitz Park, Lafayette and Thurgood Marshall.

Lynn

Charlie Mas said...

There is very little differentiated instruction happening in Seattle Public Schools. That's a fact and there is a mountain of data to support it.