Seattle School Board Meeting
|RBHS Coding Team|
|In support of teacher Jon Greenberg|
This thread will cover the last School Board meeting last Wednesday, Feb. 5th. All directors were in attendance but Director Carr. The Rainier Beach High School T.E.A.L. team (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) gave a presentation on coding work they have been doing. There was a large crowd primarily around transportation, former Center School teacher, Jon Greenberg and the NW Center Kids program.
- an APP student at Lincoln had a video he/she had made about the Seahawks featured on the Today show.
- he was aware of the controversy over whether to close schools for the Seahawk victory parade but the decision was made based on how many families would have been inconvenienced with so little notice. (Last count I read was over 500 teacher out and about 20k students out.)
- he said they had heard from many, many people about the Transportation Service Standards which were updated and now have an amendment attached (to be voted on at this meeting)
- he tried to placate the NW Center Kids folks by praising their work since 1982. This was good but then his phrasing "a couple of years ago we noticed growing enrollment." Just noticed? It was more like seeing a tsunami coming. He said they are working on "options."
- he said the Board would be voting on a new contract for Local 609 workers that includes nutrition, custodial, security and response staff.
- he reported that Standards and Poors gave SPS a AA bond rating which is the highest for all districts in the state.
- he reported an ELL increase of over 500 students this year
- Facilities manager, Dr. Flip Herndon, gave a brief report to the Board about the issues around BEX IV and the funding. They are using BEX III "seed" money for current BEX IV funding. (See that mixing of the pots? Makes it very hard to track what money was spent where.) The district has not received any BEX IV money yet but will get a small amount this month from those who pay their taxes early. He said there should be $60M by May and another $60M in October.
- it was noted there would be only one Board meeting this month because of the mid-winter break
The frustration was that, despite the fact that the report was not aligned with Board policy on it, the Board said very little. Ms. Garmoe stated that there were no structures or systems in place for this work and she had just been hired in November. I can certainly understand the statement about no structures simply because we've yet to see a full-fleshed out, Board policy-compliant report.
My frustration is in hearing person after person, at meeting after meeting, say, "I just got here" as a reason something didn't get done properly.
Michael Tolley was funny in his statement that this report "is a high priority for the community." And yet, it's late and it's incomplete. Regarding some of the reporting that Charlie did on the report in an earlier thread, it was stated that some things that appeared in the quarterly report appeared in the Annual Report (but didn't have to). What? Frankly, I was confused (but I think that was the point.)
Director Peters said that Advanced Learning and Special Education parents were "anxious for a clear vision of placement." She asked if the report had solid information on these issues. The answer was no. The director of Special Education said they are working with enrollment planning and looking at Sped projections and couldn't provide a date but said they were "very close."
President Peaslee noted the lack of community engagement in some areas. Staff noted there were in some places but yes, "we want to do that in future reports." Well, it actually isn't a choice of "wanting to" because it's Board policy. The Board will need to hold the staff's feet to the fire in the future (but don't hold your breath).
Topics included later start times with yet two more sleep professionals weighing in, one a UW nursing instructor who talked about puberty sleep patterns and the other the director of sleep medicine at Swedish. He argued that the current start times hurt students in many ways but that they hurt disadvantaged students most.
Another topic that was passionately argued was about the NW Center for Kids with a pediatrician who does work with the Center saying that 35% of the children are special needs. He said it was unfair that the district only gave 6 months notice for a group who had been helping special needs students for 28 years. There was also an argument against moving the Center because 95% of the parents are north of downtown.
(I will note here that this issue of WHEN notification took place is key. Overall, I feel the district - because the Center is serving students that the district itself would otherwise have to serve - should be helping them find a suitable space or allowing them to stay where they are. This group spent $250,000 in September to upgrade that space and I seriously doubt that any group would spend that kind of money - and they did let the district know they were doing it - if they truly knew they were under threat of non-renewal of their lease.
However, I would also submit it is NOT the district's issue to place any leasee in any precise location. I would venture that many parents throughout the city might have the need to access these services and might not in its current location.)
There were many teachers in attendance in support of Jon Greenberg (who, because of the ban on speaking specifically about personnel, was He Who Shall Not Be Named). One teacher said that teachers feel unprotected by the district over a "poor investigation over one anonymous action." It was also stated that new City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant asked about the status of the program developed by Mr. Greenberg and had been told the program still existed. The teachers said that was simply not true. This group annoyed President Peaslee by speaking out of turn and challenging the Board on statements on this issue.
There were two oddities in the speaking list and that was two different people from non-profits that do support work for students. Both said they had to have access to student data in order to do their jobs and support students. They both said they followed FERPA guidelines (which don't mean a lot these days).
But, to my mind and understanding, one of them really stepped over the line. (Both women said "I will give a specific example" exactly like that almost as if someone told them to say that.)
The first woman's example was a student and the woman named the school, the level of school, the grade, the gender, behavior issues and attendance. I was more than shocked because if you are at that school and you have this data, you could probably narrow it down to a couple of students. (I went to her after she spoke and told her I believe that was wrong to do. She said, "Well, I would never say her name out loud.")
And this is PRECISELY why I am worried about student data privacy. What kind of guidelines is the district giving vendors/contractors about what they say about students? She was making a determination about data that wasn't hers to make. At a public meeting, she gave very specific data about a student.
I checked into her group and, to my astonishment, found a student name and photo (whether it is real or not, I'm not sure) and additional sensitive information about the student's family. I personally find it hard to believe that a family would put out that kind of information no matter how much they were being convinced it would help other students.
Martin-Morris - C'mon take a wild guess what he opened with? "I just got back from D.C. several days ago from a meeting." Of course he did because that seems to be his mission - to go to out-of-town meetings and "report back." I'm not saying that what he is doing is wrong but I'm not seeing how it plays out in the running of this district. Is this really the best use of his time as a Director?
McLaren - She said that yes, staff is hearing parents on the issue of transportation. She said that she was not scheduling a lot of meetings because of her chemo treatment and she appreciates all the good wishes.
Blanford - He said he had received a tremendous amount of e-mail and had deep concern for your positions.
Patu - She thanked the RBHS coding team for coming. She also said six months was not enough time for the NW Center for Kids to find a new space.