Thursday, May 29, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Tomorrow sees three Director Community Meetings - if you want something to change in the math adoption, you might want to drop in on one. 

Patu - 10 am - noon, Cafe Vitta
McLaren - 10 am - noon, SW Branch Public Library
Peters - 11 am - 12:30 pm - Queen Anne library, first hour for students (according to SPS website)

I was unable to attend the DPD meeting for Wilson-Pacific last night but I hear it was, well, "crazy."  Many upset neighbors and they couldn't get to a vote on the district's desire for several zoning waivers so there will be a third meeting.  Stay tuned. 

Word of the week for parents to consider talking to their children - son or daughter - about - misogyny.  From the Stranger Slog:

Men should care enough about the women in our lives—our mothers, sisters, aunts, and nieces; our female friends, partners, coworkers, and neighbors—to recognize that misogyny is dangerous.  This issue of speaking of women as sluts, whores, bitches and brushing off rape - it's not so much the guy who does these things; it's the guy who remains silent as other guys act that way.  We need to teach our children to speak up against universal putdowns of the other sex. 

Love art?  Here's the Met's collection of 394,885 records. 

Also, LeVar Burton is trying Kickstarter to bring back Reading Rainbow online.  I'm in - my kids loved that show and so did I.  It could be a valuable item to use at home and in-class. 

What's on your mind?


SeattleMama said...

Oops! This seems to be wishful thinking... It's only Thursday, the director community meetings are two days away. If only it was already Friday! :)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, and I do believe that Monday threw me off. Oh well.

Joe Wolf said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Big front page story on the Washington Post site today detailing the closure of the last non-charter public schools in New Orleans. The really interesting reading is in the 500+ comments about the story.


mirmac1 said...

Hey! I'll take two TGIFs! And SeattleMama thank you for saving me from a useless trip to the SW Branch Library tomorrow. : )

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just to be clear, I didn't delete Joe's comment because it came from him. We don't advertise events that are LEV-based.

Charlie Mas said...

We should all fight the patriarchy because the patriarchy hurts us all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the Post article about NOLA public schools. The question is whether or not an all charter urban school system is sustainable. What are the costs and how are schools monitored? How are students with special needs served? NOLA has had problems that some charter advocates don't want the public to know. I found this piece from September that is instructive: http://www.newsweek.com/2013/09/20/post-katrina-great-new-orleans-charter-tryout-237968.htm


Anonymous said...

I went to both the Wilson-Pacific departures meeting yesterday, and the SDOT School Road Safety Workshop Tuesday evening.

At the SDOT workshop, we were made aware of things like how it is safer for buildings to define intersections, with parking located behind the buildings, rather than parking lots right at the intersection, and it was mentioned that it is much safer for pedestrians, especially school children, to NOT have parking lots in front of a school's entrance.

At the Wilson-Pacific meeting, we were shown a design which has the parking lots of both schools located at intersections, with parking lots in front of both of the school entrances. They are also planning on-street bus loading and unloading for gen-ed buses for both schools, and there is a vague plan to route both sped buses and car drop-off pick-up through the parking lots in front of the schools. It appeared to be a very dangerous design.

Of course, only those comments specifically-related to the requested departures (building height, on-street bus loading/unloading, number of parking spaces, etc...) were relevant to the departures meeting discussion, as apparently, there are no City codes incorporating many of the school/pedestrian "best-practices" and safety "tool kits" that we learned about in the SDOT workshop.

Except for the assumption/perception that all kids walking to school would be supervised by adults, particularly those living north of 85th where there are few sidewalks; I thought the SDOT folks did a nice job with their workshop. There are plans to have an online feedback system to report school traffic/road safety concerns, and they are working to prioritize school-related safety projects, most of which are being funded via school zone speed camera proceeds.

IMO, the architects and project managers for the new school buildings should have been required to attend an SDOT school road safety workshop BEFORE planning started on the new school buildings. I'm sure Wilson-Pacific is not the only example of a design that doesn't seem to mesh with best-practices for pedestrian/student safety,

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Excellent summary, NE Mom, thanks.

Anonymous said...

RE: The FAQ from WP FAQ that putting a high school at WP was considered twice:

Not, to the best of an insider's knowledge, accurate. Or if it was, it was considered and rejected in five minutes by one person.

Putting a HS at WP did not come up on lists of potential BEX 4 projects in the run up to the original vote. I'm pretty close to 100% certain of that.

I'm sure someone could go back and look through the various dog and pony shows pre-Bex vote and see that it was never presented to the public. It was not even in the drafts. So don't think a high school at WP has been kicked around for years with lots of opinions weighing in and thus it shouldn't be considered now. Not so.

That "we've considered a HS at WP and rejected it" is not true in any substantive way - group of insiders never saw potential boundaries, potential enrollment projections, any of that stuff.

Signed: insider in dark

Anonymous said...

At the Wilson-Pacific departures meeting, the lawyer representing the neighborhood coalition spoke, and said that the problem is that they don't have room for two schools at the site.

I have to admit that, until I sat through the entire presentation at yesterday's meeting, I thought the property was large-enough to house both a middle school and an elementary school. After last night, my thoughts on that have changed.

It had been a while since I had driven around in that area, and it was very apparent that there has been a lot of new development of townhouses without substantial off-street parking. Both the on street bus loading and unloading and the sub-code number of on-site parking spaces will impact the neighborhood.

The study of available on-street parking that was presented at last night's W-P meeting looked at mid-day availability...between 11:00 AM and 12:30 PM, which didn't make a lot of sense.

After seeing how tight things are (for instance, they were saying that if they had to do on-site bus loading and unloading, it would sacrifice a big chunk of the already-limited field space), I honestly wish they would reconsider putting a high school at Wilson-Pacific, rather than a middle school/K-8/elementary school campus. It would, in my opinion, be a much better use of space, and there would be room for athletic fields that won't be possible at Lincoln.

- North-end Mom

kellie said...

I know I raised the issue that the Wilson Pacific plan was not enough capacity for North Seattle last Fall as part of the re-boundary process and that the boundary process should focus on the bare necessities so that there could be a fresh look at all the capacity challenges.

I was told that they had considered the suggestion of making Wilson Pacific a high school but that this would cost an additional $40 Million and that it would provide more capacity that was needed and was therefore dismissed.

I have no knowledge that this was considered before at any point.

Anonymous said...

"That "we've considered a HS at WP and rejected it" is not true in any substantive way"

They also never did a feasibility study of incorporating a 150-seat K-8 into W-P middle school, yet that didn't stop President Peaslee from introducing it and the Board approving it (which is peculiar, considering some of the feasibility studies she had previously directed staff to do...like building a K-8 building on the fields next to JAMS).

The "planning" process stinks.

-reality check

Anonymous said...


More capacity than needed? More HIGH SCHOOL capacity than needed?

Please explain.

-North-end Mom

kellie said...

@ North-end mom,

I wish I could explain but I can't. This was just a few months and remember that there were still folks convinced we were over-building and that Wilson Pacific would be half empty.

IMHO, the important part of the WP as a high school plan was that it was "faster." I would mean that elementary and middle school capacity at Hamilton/Lincoln came on line immediately and that a new high school would be online in 2017, which is when all the non-capital solutions for high school would be exhausted.

Meg said...

For the middle and elementary projections, we've already hit what the district projected for 2018-19.

I haven't taken the time to break that down by region, but overall, I take that to mean that SPS's growth has accelerated well beyond expected rates, and that since capital options (building more seats, either through portables, additions, bringing mothballed inventory online or building new buildings) are becoming exhausted, SPS is rapidly approaching discussions of non-capital options that are best for students.

Translation: what's best for our public school students? Split schedules, year round schools, or a hybrid? It's a discussion Seattle should engage on, because capital options are running out more rapidly than anticipated.

Anonymous said...

Why can't the district rent property? I realize that's not a long-term solution, but for now?


Charlie Mas said...

Parent, the District does rent property. Right now the Center School is in leased space.

I'm curious, however. What property do you think they should rent? Where is there a vacant property in the north-end that is suitable for use as a school?

I have wondered at times if a motel could be re-purposed as a school. I've seen schools located in office buildings. There is always, of course, the possibility of using a church building as they often have classrooms and meeting rooms.

Do you have a property in mind?

Melissa Westbrook said...

And guess who the district might run into as they might look for space? The City who needs space - if it passes - for their PreK for all initiative. Maybe they could work together and save some money.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, no, of course I don't have any great ideas. I'm not being helpful.

My question was genuine, though. I know about the Center School, but I'm not aware of other rented properties (maybe there are some).

There was a Waldorf school in Queen Anne that vacated or is vacating its building, right? What happened to that one? Is everything at Magnuson taken?

And, yes, I think the district should be looking into office space (plenty of that around Northgate, though possibly nothing appropriate) or churches. Some churches have classroom space and little going on during the week.

And, of course, there is that old vacant building in Magnolia. Expensive to renovate or rebuild, sure, but what are the options? The district can't just throw up its hands.

Personally, I'd rather my first grader be educated in an office building (or church basement, etc.) in a class of 20 kids than in some amazing school building with natural light and a rock climbing wall but with 30+ kids in a class.

My post was really a reaction to the poster above saying that since there is no place left to build & no room, we'll have to move to things like split shifts and year-round schools (with shifts). That's hard on kids and potentially really hard on working parents. (I am a stay-at-home parent, but did grow up with a single working mom in a district that went to shifts for a while, and I remember how hard that was on my family.) As a parent and a taxpayer, and as someone who votes for the levies, I would like to see evidence that ALL options for properties are being considered before there are discussion about anything like split shifts. (Seriously, the district has enough trouble changing bell times. Split shifts? Who thinks that would go well?)

Honestly, I don't even see evidence that the district realizes the magnitude of the problem. I get that people on this blog do.


Anonymous said...

Lots of buildings (which I think are vacant) in Discovery Park. Former offices of the army.

Not sure who those buildings belong to but they were only vacated in the past few years so they could probably be brought on board pretty quickly.

And yes, time for them to look at the old school in Magnolia. It will be costly to renovate but it is property SPS actually owns.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, as Kellie has reminded us time and again, what's the plan SPS? They may not even need to reveal it but I don't have a lot of faith there is any long-term planning going on.

Making a mistake, particularly a large one like Wilson-Pacific, will beyond costly.

So what's the plan for the future if, by 2020, SPS will have 60K students?

Anonymous said...


YOU NEED TO TELL THE DISTRICT YOUR EXPERIENCE with split shifts etc when you were a child of a single working mom - email the board, with Joe Wolf and all the Teaching and Learning people (Tolley and Heath) and the superintendent and Flip Herndon in the cc list.

Some people downtown seem to have the mistaken impression that it's no big deal to shift. Ha.

It seems they would rather skip making any changes or adjustments to the BEX 4 plan, which they KNOW is inadequate b/c the data changed on them and they didn't change the plan, and just hope the next levy passes and they can fix it "in the future" but in the interim they'll be in a hole with not choices. Frankly, one of the choices is portables on high school football fields - but they'd rather go to split shifts than consider that. They'd apparently rather screw up every single family in SPS (and frankly even the ones not in SPS b/c if SPS goes on a weird schedule, how can things like sports that play against private schools on a regular schedule, all the other things kids do that mix with kids not in SPS, jobs, etc work if 20% of the kids in Seattle are not on splits and 80% of Seattle kids - the ones in SPS - are??)

So they seem to consider that doing away with football fields in favor of portables is WORSE than changing the entire high school structure to splits or year round. Huh? T

They also don't seem to think they should discuss this until the capacity is so bad there's no choice.

But there's a choice right now in the north end - until the groundbreaking at Wilson Pacific, they could shift and make a giant 2000 or more kid high school there and have the seats sooner, avoiding split shifts and buying time.

But they just keep saying "it's too late ... we have to think about the next levy, we can't change Bex 4 plans now..." (WHICH IS NOT TRUE ... )

So please tell them your experience was very hard, and that if changing Wilson Pacific to a larger high school project avoids that crisis, please do it.

Signed: Please

Carol Simmons said...

The Show put on by the Garfield Theatre Department at Garfield is as good as many professional Broadway musicals. The cast and Production staff should be very proud. Garfield's "Against the Odds Award" Recipient for 2014 performs in the show. Like the lead character, Garfield's Award Recipient has worked against the odds to become successful. Teachers, students and Administrators at Garfield nominated her for this award due to her leadership, values and dedication to making positive contributions at Garfield and in the community. She is President of the Black Student Union and Captain of the Cheer Squad. She was instrumental in preventing the potential violence which could have erupted between Issaquah High School and Garfield during the Basketball playoffs.
Lalah Muth will be receiving this award at Garfield on June 12th at 6:00 p.m at the Garfield Awards Assembly. ....Everyone is invited to attend this event and congratulate all of the graduating seniors and award recipients.

Linh-Co said...


MTA Elects Anti-Common Core President as Opposition Increases

The Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), a union that represents about 110,000 teachers in the Bay State, elected an anti-Common Core president on May 10 in a hotly contested and close election. Barbara Madeloni, a clinical psychologist turned teacher, beat a Brockton teacher by 681 to 584 votes. A proponent of local control, Madeloni opposes high stakes testing and nationalization of educational standards.

State Representative Keiko Orrall, a former public school teacher and homeschooling mom, who has been tirelessly hitting Common Core issues, welcomes Madeloni’s reinforcement in the fight. Orrall has filed numerous bills in the legislature to slow or stop Common Core. One of her bills demanded a cost benefit analysis from the commissioner of education, Mitchell Chester, chairman of the PARCC Commission which is developing the new test. The cost benefit analysis on changing assessments from the MCAS to PARCC passed the Democrat-controlled House.