Sunday, March 30, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, March 31st
The final Strategic Plan Community Meeting from 6:30-8:30 pm in West Seattle at Roxhill Elementary.

Tuesday, April 1st
Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. , JSCEE, Room 2700

Wednesday, April 2nd
School Board meeting starting at 4:15 p.m.  Agenda.

- a rather large Consent agenda as part of a very long agenda. 

- One item I note is the construction contract for Lowell.  This is for electrical, fire sprinkler and seismic, all of which I'm sure Lowell needs.  But it's just another great example of the district not being able to clearly explain where all the money goes. 

I went and looked over the Capital Report of 2012 and sometimes, they can be quite specific.  Other times, when they are spend money on projects like this, they are completely non-specific.  (Interesting reading in there like, did you know they put a new boiler in at Wilson-Pacific in 2012?  Yes, and hopefully they will save it when they tear the building down.  Did you know in the BTA there's $1.7M for the Strategic Plan? Yes, there is.)

One thing that REALLY needs to stop with capital levies?  Academics and "special projects" creep.  That money should be for buildings. 

Action Items
- another item of note just to call this type of "action" out is Amending Policy N. 3130, student assignment.  Lots of review and committees and blah, blah and yet, is what this actually "amends" clearly noted? It is not.  I believe it is about homeless students.

- Contrast that with the "Race to the Top Project Deep Dive 3" which has a lot of detail.  (It also looks like a lot of data collection as well but at least you know what's going on.)

- Annual funding of immersion IAs for McDonald Int'l.  I note this is an Action item and yet the Request item linked to this item is not signed.  Might be good to sign it before the Board okays it.  The Request form itself states:  "A signed “Request for Advance Commitment to Expend” form must be received by G&FC before approval can be given."  Ditto on the Action item for JSIS and its IAs.

- Increasing the budget for the Genesee Hill project by $2M.  

It is stated: 

The Genesee Hill Elementary School Replacement project budget was not funded properly with
regard to hard and soft costs as they relate to projected escalation rates, undocumented fill and site constraints. Project contingency was also under funded.

Well, that sounds like someone did a poor job on this project's budget.  I would doubt if there's that much wiggle room in BEX IV and I suspect that the money will have to come from other projects.

- purchase of 14 single and 1 double-wide portables with the estimate needed at 22-28.

As of January 2014, the Annual Capacity Management planning process identified a potential estimated need of 22 to 28 portables to be located at various sites throughout the District. The exact number and location of portables will be adjusted based on Open Enrollment data.

Intro Items

- repealing some Transportation policies.  Again, not clearly written here what is changing but here's the significant part:

(NEW) The Board delegates to the Superintendent all other authority and responsibility for transportation within the budgets approved by the Board. The Superintendent may delegate such authority to Transportation staff or other designees as the Superintendent deems appropriate. The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures to implement this policy.

(OLD) The Superintendent or his or her designee is authorized to permit a parent of a student enrolled in school to ride district-provided transportation when excess seating is available and private or other public transportation is not reasonably available.

Saturday, April 5
Community meeting with Director Carr from 8:30-10 am at Bethany Community Church.

Community meeting with Director McLaren from 10 am to noon at Common House of Puget Ridge Cohousing Assn, 7020 18th Ave SW.

Note: the City of Seattle is having the Seattle Neighborhood Summit 2014 on Saturday, the 5th from 9 am to 1 pm at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.  If you have something you want the City to know about how you value schools in your neighborhood, you might want to stop in at some point and advocate for your neighborhood.

For example, if you would like to see the Roosevelt Reservoir lidded for more playfields to help accommodate Lincoln to take the pressure off the fields at Wilson-Pacific, this would be the place to tell the City. 

Translation and Interpretation services available upon request.


Anonymous said...

Beyond frustrated with this District's PLANNING. What planning?

Enrollment growth continued this year, and, nobody bothered to mentioned to the Board we have outpaced the expected growth, so that BEX IV, which wasn't enough to begin with, will seriously fall short.

HIGH SCHOOL!!!! It is a problem. What are they doing? Ejecting Special Education students out of Hale, Ballard and Ingraham??? To a basement in Lincoln? To be isolated away from community? Hidden, like how it was done in the 50s? NOOOOOOOOO

Please, do not allow this to happen.

The ONLY thing that will get the Board's attention is a failed levy. That is it. BTA 2015 is around the corner. Fail that, and they may start to have to answer questions.

You may say that is like 'cutting your nose off to spite you face'. But it is not, because like a salamander can regrow a tail, the District can 're-float' a levy within the year, i.e., 6 months later, and, then we can all pass it. But, if it doesn't fail first, they won't get the message.

THE ONLY PROTEST VOTE WE GET IS THE LEVY. FAIL IT. I have never voted against a levy. Ever. I voted for the income tax. I voted against charter schools. I am pro-public education. This District needs a wake-up call. Please, don't be cowed into voting yes ('it is for the kids'), go ahead, vote yes, just delay your yes by 6 months.

The capacity issue is only going to get worse. This is the only way to make them get serious. Want to take bets that any of the current crew (Banda and others) will still be here the the sh** hits the fan? We will be, but they probably won't be.

-NO BTA2015

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sounds familiar to me.

So Sped high school kids are being moved to Lincoln? Where did you hear this?

Anonymous said...

This is Peaslee driven: She needs to 'lower the costs' of AS1, so, by putting the older SpEd students under that principal's responsibilities at Lincoln, she 'kills two birds with one stone'. The overcrowding at Ballard, Hale and Ingraham is lowered, by a couple of rooms, (really, that is not going to solve anything?), and, the economics of the AS1 overhead don't look quiet so bad. AS1 gets the benefit of some window-dressing for their numbers, and, ejects these kids when they move on to where ever they do land (keep in mind, they currently are capped at 150 if they go to Wilson Pacific, at DeCatur, they could grow to 300).

BUT DID ANYONE ASK SPED IF THEY WANTED THEIR STUDENTS PUSHED OUT OF THEIR CURRENT COMMUNITIES? Must the capacity crisis get continually solved on the backs of SpEd (or ELL) students?? That is unacceptable.

Instead of moving 4 homerooms worth of SpEd students out of HALE, how about we randomly pick 4 homerooms worth of general ed high school students out of Hale and evacuate them to Lincoln, and, isolate them in the South Wing. What? That won't work? Educational adequacy will be compromised? No kidding. Then why do it to older SpEd students? Shouldn't they be part of the community too? It is heartbreaking. It was discussed at the Ballard Jose Banda Strategic Plan meeting. I suppose, viewed from a certain perspective, this move is plenty strategic. Equitable, no, but strategic, sure.

Did the SpEd PTSA weigh in? Is this what they want? Do the families and communities involved think this is a reasonable plan?

-NO BTA2015

Anonymous said...

I heard the same thing about Lincoln. It's the secondary transition students.

SpecialEd Parent

Anonymous said...

No way will Hale be down with that. Those kids are a part of the community. It would be like sending all the freshman elsewhere.

What are secondary transition kids? What would happen to the mixed teams?


Anonymous said...

The older special education students at the high schools, who also have a right to be in their least restrictive environment, or at least the feds think so: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2012/07/10/feds-lre-transition/15988/

Apparently, at the last Special Ed PTSA meeting, there was concern about whether the students would still be able to play on the teams. See the last Friday Open Thread, where some parents (including Mary Griffin) posted about this new district idea.

specialed parent

Anonymous said...

May I request a separate thread for opting out of MAP testing? I'm told by SPS that kiddo has to take the MAP for APP eligibility but my student is already in APP and will be in APP next year.

Anonymous said...

So...is this what's happening?

1. The renovations being done at Lincoln are for "a second elementary" in the Lincoln south wing.

2. Instead of housing elementary students in the Lincoln south wing, they will be housing AS-1 K-8 students merged with Native Heritage. As I understood it, the AS-1/Native Heritage merged program will be K-8.

3. Now they are proposing to add HS students to the mix, under the direction of the K-8 principal?

THIS is how they are proposing to deal with HS capacity management???

Are they at least planning to change the scope of the renovations to accommodate big kids (toilet height, furniture, etc...)???

I'm confused, and very disheartened that such a thing was even proposed.

I looked on the calendar, and Sharon Peaslee doesn't seem to have any community meetings scheduled for April, so I guess the other SB directors should expect an earful about this at their upcoming meetings.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

And a wing of Hamilton students slotted 2015. Where are they supposed to go now? Seems to me the district is triple counting that space.


sped teacher said...

The only special education students that will potentially be moved are students between the ages of 18 and 21. Most of the transition programs are located off of the campus of the high school that they are attached to. That attachment exists primarily for paperwork.

I can't speak to the wisdom of placing the programs at Lincoln, but I do believe that placing the transition programs together administratively makes more sense than the current system of students listed as attending a high school that they haven't stepped foot in for the last 2 years.

I also believe that having the students based out of a high school is not age appropriate. After 4 years at their high school, the students walk at graduation. It makes sense they are moving on to a transition program at another place rather than staying at high school for 7 years.

sped teacher

sped teacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Hamiltonian, where did you see/hear that a wing of Hamilton is supposed to go into Lincoln for 2015?


Anonymous said...

From the board, from staff, last fall, as the reason an annex would not work for Hamilton to avoid an app split this year- the Lincoln space was already going to be needed in 2015, even with the split. Hamilton is not really going to get less crowded with it, and will need overflow (no portable space) in 2015, at least until Wilson Pacific comes online. The plan was to use a wing of Lincoln for some classes, like a foreign language or block la/SS classes.

Now ??? Put Hamilton students on the roof? Surely they wouldn't move sped students twice in two years; can't see them moving as 1 out, so...?


kellie said...

I hadn't heard about this particular re-shuffling of SPED. However, SPED has been re-shuffled many times as a capacity management tool.

I wish I had an idea of what it would take to get the district to just admit that they are out of space and need to reexamine the entire capacity plan from the ground up.

All of these little isolated mitigation efforts just delay the inevitable hard conversation and do a great job of "making it work" but the costs are too high in my opinion. Picking up and moving established students should be clear sign that the capacity issues are bigger than advertised.

Joe Wolf said...

Re. # of new portables needed/purchased:

- My January BAR estimated a need of 22-28 additional homerooms in portables for 2014-15, and authority to purchase up to 28.

In the interim it was confirmed that we will be re-using the two newer double portables (4 classrooms) at Eckstein as part of the mix. Add those four to the 16 in this week's portable contract BAR: 20 total.

I suspect we will be placing a couple more as the results of Open
Enrollment, so the actual number needed should be at the lower end of the projected range (22-28).

Re. Hamilton "annex" at Lincoln: There are no plans for this. I expect there will be pushback on this next statement, but we see Hamilton being slightly smaller next year and then a larger drop in 2015-16.

Re. High School capacity: As some of you know I've been very "public" aboout the fact that SPS will run out of HS seats in 6-7 years, with both Lincoln (1,600 seats) and Rainier Neach (about 1,150 seats) full, and be short 1,200 or so seats by the end of the current planning period.

As staff we have to try to make things work. Currently there are no easy or pleasant solutions. Some of the "best practice" long-term solutions will require lots of political will, and pushing as much at the city as at my elected bosses (there are lots of folks in Seattle that will be happy to say "no" to more schools/larger schools/schools 3+ stories).

On my own I have started researchin how other parts of the U.S. implemented year-round scheduling/calendar for high school.

mirmac1 said...

Joe, that is thinking ahead. Too bad others downtown don't do the same. I'm not the only one who figured moving Denny to Boren is inevitable when Sealth needs its site back.

As for the draft proposal to consolidate 18-21 transition programs in a north and south hub. I see the logic behind placing these young adults into a setting that more closely resembles life AFTER high school. What I want to see is the research that supports this setting as a best practice. Perhaps if SPS would explore these major changes in meaningful consultation with parents, rather than drop the bomb on them, the merits and cons of a change like this would be fully vetted in an atmosphere that attempts to respond to parent concerns.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Perhaps if SPS would explore these major changes in meaningful consultation with parents, rather than drop the bomb on them, the merits and cons of a change like this would be fully vetted in an atmosphere that attempts to respond to parent concerns."

Is that really asking too much for most issues? I don't think so.

Eric B said...

Mirmac, I believe there is some research that shows that locating 18-21 programs at a community college is a good thing. The affected people I've talked to are not opposed to change. They're opposed to sudden changes that don't benefit the students. I don't think that consultation is too much to ask. I think there are also a lot of people who saw Superintendent Banda say some really nice words about inclusion in reference to these programs (here) and are quite willing to quote him if the district comes back and goes for a separate and unequal approach.

mirmac1 said...

I agree Eric B. I could see the logic in the proposed changes, if they're done right.

I don't want to viewed as a member of the Party of No. Change may equal improvement but the district must do its job of proving this or face the music.

As for Banda, I have a hard time reconciling the nice guy I know with some of the actions of his administration. Makes me nutty.

Anonymous said...

Shoreline has had their transitional students on campus at Shoreline Community College for the past few years. It might be wise to look at what they are doing and see if SPS can replicate some of it. Perhaps North Seattle Community College might be willing to start up a similar partnership with the help of King County or City of Seattle?



UWs DO-IT center might also be a good resource to find some alternatives to being shuffled to another campus that may or may not be of benefit to those students.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I note some things have changed on the Board agenda. To whit here's what I told the Board in an e-mail:

"I wanted to write to you about some issues about the Board agenda tomorrow night. I just reviewed the agenda again and was quite startled to see the massive editing to the BAR on Wilson-Pacific. What is very distressing is to see this in the BAR for W=P:

"To reiterate, this does not change the project budget. Escalation was always assumed and included in the project budget and the shifting of funds occurs completely within the project budget."

What? (emphasis below mine).

I was at the last Board meeting where Director Carr carefully talked Eric Becker through this issue. He said that the change to this contract was "solely related to budgeted escalation." So far so good but then he said "the previous contract was negotiated with no escalation." Director Carr said, "I get that but my question is was it assumptions or is it absolutely no escalation?"

Mr Becker said it was not having escalation and then having it.

Director Carr pressed him, "We won't see this repeated?" and he said, "It's fair to assume it's one time unless we have 'odd events.'" She asked why the escalation was NOT there to begin with and he said he wasn't here when the budget was negotiated."

Look, staff cannot rewrite history to their own terms. I ask that you look at the Board minutes and I suspect you will see the same thing. This should not stand unchallenged in the Board minutes.