Seattle Schools Taskforce Updates

From SPS:

Lunch/Recess Times

-          We understand the concerns of parents regarding lunch and recess times. This is an issue we are taking seriously and are working to address.
-          A Wellness task force has begun looking into the concerns and issues surrounding lunch times throughout the district. The purpose of this 18-month long task force is to examine nutrition, physical education and physical activity.
-          The task force will provide recommendations to the superintendent at the end of this time period.
-          Creating daily school schedules has become increasingly complex, due to multiple factors and requirements. This includes:
o   State Board of Instruction required educational hours
o   Recess times
o   Teacher/union contract constraints
o   Building capacity
o   Length of school day
-          Schools leaders have reported having at least 20 minute lunches. One main issue being reviewed, is the ‘passing time’ on the way to and from lunch/recess.
Yet ANOTHER taskforce and they have 18-months to do their work.

Also from district communications:

SPS Task Force for Prevention and Response to Sexual Harrassment formed
The Seattle Public Schools Task Force for Prevention and Response to Sexual Harassment has officially formed and scheduled its first meeting to begin conducting a comprehensive review of the district’s policy and procedures to prevent and respond to instances of sexual harassment (including sexual assault).
The current task force members are:
  • Rebecca Milliman
  • Kelly Kajumulo
  • Kelly Davis
  • David Bilides
  • Jennifer Perevodchikov
  • Jennifer Mackley
  • Plus, two SPS students
The task force was designed with openings for two teachers, two principals, two classified employees, two parents, two students, two individuals with expertise in prevention and response to sexual harassment in a public school or college environment, and one district staff person. Ideally, the district would like a minimum of 10 positions filled to begin meeting.

Since announcing the task force in September, 8 people have applied to participate. Not wanting to delay any further, the district is moving forward with the task force’s meetings and review of the district’s policy and procedures to prevent and respond to instances of sexual harassment (including sexual assault).

At the same time, we are still seeking four more members, especially principals and teachers. If you are interested in participating in this important task force, please fill out the nomination form and send Please put “TASK FORCE” in the subject line.


Anonymous said…
"The purpose of this 18-month long task force is to examine nutrition, physical education and physical activity."
Is this a joke?
- mom
Anonymous said…
18 month task force!!! I guess instead of actually doing anything about the issue, SPS's approach is to convene a task force that will do F* all, oops, I mean gather data and consider options until many of the concerned families who's kids are affected by this age out of elementary school. Probably their approach for high school start times too.
This district is such a joke. 18 months and a task force to examine this issue??? And what do you think the chances of SPS enacting any recommendations the task force make at the end of the 18 month period are??? Sheesh. If these people worked in the real world, instead of their little bubble at the JSCEE they would not know what had hit them. Why do we put up with this. And who in their right mind would think they are capable of handling preK on top of everything given their dismal performance at managing

18 months
Anonymous said…
In 18 months we will most likely have at least one new superintendent, new board members, many new administrators and even more capacity issues.
This can not be serious.
- mom
Anonymous said…
If the task force has 18 months, that means their recommendations likely won't be implemented until the 2017-18 school year. Half of current elementary students will be in middle school by then. What a joke.

-- D's mom
mirmac1 said…
What makes this even more ridiculous is that in a few months you'll hear some staff, led by Wright, saying how can they be expected to jump through Holly Miller's hoops with all these ×$@#!% task forces!
Po3 said…
A three ring circus.
I find some confusion here between this press release and the remarks of Pegi McEvoy to the Board tonight. It appears there are already two taskforces working. I'll have to get clarification but more confusion isn't helpful.

LOTS of people at Board meeting and support from Bd. Directors on lunch/recess.
Anonymous said…
I understood this was a movement to restore equity to Title 1 schools with high FRL levels. I didn't see many families of color at the meeting, however.

VAMM mom
Anonymous said…
" Creating daily school schedules has become increasingly complex, due to multiple factors and requirements. This includes:
o State Board of Instruction required educational hours
o Recess times
o Teacher/union contract constraints
o Building capacity
o Length of school day"

What? This statement is tantamout to saying: we have no idea what we are doing and how to manage the district. We don't know what we are doing and we have no idea how to get this done. This is all just too complex for us to figure out. So we will study it for 18 months.... Really - insane.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Reposting for Anon at 9:28PM
Please give yourself a name.
"Can we all flood the School Board's inboxes that 18 months is not acceptable?? What a joke!"

I still can not believe this. Can it be a mistake and it is only 18 weeks (that is still more than 4 months)?
- mom
Anonymous said…
Speaking of sexual harassment, my 8th grade son was forced by two other boys to view porn on the district computers in class. They googled "porn" and it came up, according to him.
In trying to get them to stop their repeated attempts at pushing this on him, he resorted to threatening to stab them with his pencil. He got lunch detentions for that.
I only heard about this two weeks later because the asst. principal had trouble getting the district IT staff to confirm what was viewed on the computer.
Has anyone else had this problem? How easy is it for kids to view clearly inappropriate material on school computers?
Besides being harmful for individual students to view, this availability opens wide the possibility of other kids being assaulted by it unwillingly.
Mom of 2
Larry said…
Include Larry Nyland, Charles Wright and Peggy Mc. on all e-mails.
hatetaskforce said…
Soon a taskforce to study the effectiveness of taskforces.
Anonymous said…
Who signs up for these task forces? I am certainly not masochistic enough to sign up for them.

The district uses these task forces to show they are "doing something" without ever really doing anything. This new task force will allow the district to say they are working on "nutrition, physical education and physical activity" and they don't ever have to do anything for 18 months!!! By that time, there will have been so much turnover both with district employees and parents of elementary school kids that no one will even remember task force existed.

You really must congratulate the district. The cynic in me thinks these task forces are are pure genius.

People really need to stop signing up to participate in these. They are only helping the district with the charade.

kellie said…
A large part of the issue is pretty simple. The WSS does not provide any money for multiple lunch shifts and multiple recess shifts. Many elementary schools have had their enrollment increased by 50-100% in the last several years. During that same time, most of these school have had to add additional lunch shift (or two). An additional lunch shift does not trigger additional funds to cover a longer lunch / recess time.

So either the parents have to find the money to pay for more lunch and recess time or it doesn't happen.
Anonymous said…
I suggest inviting district staff to lunch and giving them only the proscribed amount of time to eat. Every day for two weeks, at different schools.

Charlie Mas said…
The problems and issues of concern to students, families, and communities (lunch/recess, sexual assault, start times, math curricula, etc.) are not operational or academic problems for the school district - they are public relations problems. Consequently, the District addresses them with a public relations response rather than an operational or academic response. Forming a Task Force provides the District with the illusion of responding (a public relations solution) without ever having to develop an authentic operational or academic response.

So long as they see the community as external rather than a partner, theyt will see your concerns as communications challenges rather than functional challenges.
Kellie, that point was acknowledged, I believe, by Director Peters.
Anonymous said…
Kellie, What is WSS?

The way I see this problem of too short of lunches and too short of recess is another way that our children can be treated as not important by the powers that be (principals).

I also don't like it at schools when principals do a variety of things to control lunch, especially yelling into a microphone. Or not letting kids get up when done, instead having to wait until the whole table is done. That puts pressure on the slow eaters, and cuts recess for kids who are done. Or being forced to eat at a specific table when they should be able to sit with friends.

Saying that parents have to raise the money for recess or lunch seems unfair. Some schools can't raise the money both because of lack of disposable income plus lack of a strong volunteer team of parents. Maybe the Surgeon General or Seattle Children's or the Pediatricians association should make a recommendation of relaxed seated lunch for 20 minutes and two recesses a day with outdoor play.

There are constraints from having too many kids for the lunchroom size, but they have to figure it out. Maybe they can get some UW interns to do the organizing of the schedules for a class.
kellie said…
The WSS is the Weighted Staffing formula that is used to fund schools. Here is a linkto the current standards.

Prior to this WSS, there was another WSS that was a weighted Student formula. Under the Weighted Student formula, schools got a certain amount of money per student and they could spend that money as they saw fit. So if a school was very crowded, they also got more money.

The switch to the other WSS which was for Staffing formula was so that schools could have "better" predictability in staffing. But a side effect of this is that when schools can have a range of several hundred students and the same dollars.

So in essence, as the schools have grown, the staffing has remained the same. A few years ago when my children's elementary school switched from one lunch to two lunches, which meant that all the folks working the lunch shift were now working 30 minutes longer at lunch than previously, I tried very hard to get some additional money to try to mitigate this and really got nowhere.

So effectively when a school that was designed and staffed for one lunch, goes to two or even three lunches, the burden of supervising all that time falls on the same office staff that also has to do extra work associated with all the extra bodies in the building. This really becomes a double whammy for elementary building staff.

More students -> More paperwork -> More supervision ->

Longer lunches and more recess = less time in the office to do that paperwork.

It might be pretty interesting to take a look at the cost per student over the course of the last few years at the schools that are losing lunch and recess time. I would suspect that you might find that these same schools have a lower cost per student.

So the bottom line becomes that there is no time in the day or money in the budget to cover extended lunches and recess, unless the parents do it.
Po3 said…
They can take 1 month or 18 months - the conclusions will be the same:

The byproduct of overcrowded, underfunded, understaffed schools is shorter lunch and recess to make the master schedule work in overcrowded, underfunded, understaffed schools.

Anonymous said…
There are funded and unfunded state education mandates. What happens when the district fails to meet an unfunded mandate? Everyone including the state just shrugs. Can't get water from a stone. When the state fully pays for a full high school academic day, I'll believe that it cares about and will look into funding a reasonable lunch and recess for all.

Until that time, what would any pragmatic principal and teacher do? Short the kids on math or reading instruction time vs. lunch and recess time? Not if they want to keep their jobs.

Another place that our under-attack public education system just can't win. With the result being that students can't win.

And DistrictWatcher nails it.

Is there fault when there is not time or staff to do what the state says should happen (and yet does not fund)?

I am meeting with a legislator this afternoon and I plan to write up a sheet about issues and the importance of McCleary.
Carrie said…
I agree with the above two points, but I also have to say that I do not think SPS does the best job with the funds it receives. In an underfunded state, the SPS central admin should shrink, but it seems to grow every year. Layers of middle management are added. At the end of the day, the money should stay at the school level when times are tight not downtown. Even if there wasn't consistency, etc. across the schools, for the most part, the schools seemed to be doing a better job managing themselves than now that the District is so heavily involved.

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