Sunday, December 14, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, Dec. 16th 
Audit&Finance Quarterly Meeting, 4:30-6:30 pm.  UPDATE: agenda.  
A rather interesting document, Consolidated Program Review, is included in the agenda.   (Charlie, don't get too excited; no, not all programs are reviewed.)

Items of interest from minutes from last month's meeting:

1.     Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) Program Audit update (Technow)
Ms. Technow spoke about the work being done in the ALE audit.  Because of deficiencies in required documentation at Interagency, the auditors will now review whether those students qualify as basic education.  Directors noted that Alternative Learning Experience schools and programs like Nova High School may be in a similar situation and Ms. Technow spoke about independent courses that students take outside of the classroom.  Michael Tolley spoke about the flexibility in scheduling that ALE allows for Interagency Academy, NOVA and the Cascade Parent Partnership Program.  He confirmed Nova High School has changed its practice to not take period attendance.  Nova runs a variety of schedules, Interagency Academy has twelve separate locations with an emphasis on online learning, and the Cascade Parent Partnership Program allows for home instruction.

Ms. Technow summarized the audit and reiterated that the Cascade Parent Partnership Program and Nova High School had clean audits, but Interagency Programs audit outcome has not yet been determined. Mr. Tolley confirmed that Cleveland is now a traditional high school.

I thought Cleveland was an Option school but either something changed or I was mistaken in the first place.   It's confusing because that means that only students in that area can access their STEM program.

Directors asked about the Indian Education audits and Mr. Medina noted they are the focus of SAO. Kathie Technow confirmed there was a clean Indian Education audit for the first time in many years.

(I note that at last weekend's Board retreat, new committee assignments were discussed.  It will be interesting to see who lands where.)

On testing:

Mr. Medina confirmed school year 2013-14 was the last of paper-based testing and this year would be the first for online testing.  Mr. Medina noted there were early conversations around postponing the audit, but management agreed on the importance of setting a positive control environment so it was agreed the audit would proceed. The audit was designed to provide a high-level analysis of the controls in place to prevent cheating.

On Sped:

Mr. Tolley noted of the 14 open special education internal audit items, 12 of them are directly related to the revised Corrective Action Plan with OSPI. Directors asked if there are internal audit items not in the OSPI Corrective Action Plan, and Mr. Tolley confirmed there are two.
Michaela Clancy noted the online system for the Individualized Education Program (IEP) is being updated to a paperless process.  Ms. Clancy confirmed a year would be reasonable for testing, implementation and a complete data cycle review.  She spoke about work being done to change reporting processes.  Directors asked about the practices of other districts and Ms. Clancy noted that Seattle Public Schools had been using its own personalized system for years and recently began using the recognized program that other districts use.

If you ever think your voice, your input doesn't matter - it does (see below).  I have found the State Auditor's office to be especially responsive and helpful in school district matters. 

1. OSPI Program Review: Ballard Staffing Allocations (Technow/Schiers)

Mr. Gotsch noted a letter issued from OSPI saying that the matter of staffing allocations was compliant. In addition, he noted that the State Auditor’s Office letter reported that they did plan on reviewing this item on this year’s annual financial audit. Mr. Gotsch spoke about how this citizen’s complaint gave the District the opportunity to closely review and reexamine District’s school SPED budgeting practices.

Native American Community Conversation w/ Supt. Nyland
Duwamish Long House
4705 West Marginal Way SW

Dr. Nyland is grateful to have this opportunity to meet and talk with our Native American Families and Community members about the educational issues that matter the most to you, your family and our Native American Community. Dr. Nyland looks forward to listening to your feedback and questions.

Wednesday, Dec. 17th
Work Session: Finance and Risk Management from 4:30-6:00 pm.  Agenda (note: the presentation embedded in the agenda is for Business&Finance and Finance & Risk Management is part of that.  Not sure if a more specific presentation is coming.)

Work Session: 2014-2015 Superintendent SMART goals, 6-7:30 pm.  This might be interesting as we might finally get a hint of what the now-permanent Superintendent intends to do.

Thursday, Dec. 18th
Operations Committee Meeting, 4-6 pm.  No agenda yet available.

Saturday, Dec. 20th
Community Meetings with board directors.

Director Blanford from 10-11:30 a.m. at Douglass Truth Branch Library
Director Patu from 10 a.m.-noon at Cafe Vita


Lynn said...

Related to the Native American Community Conversation - Superintendent Nyland met with some community members in October and his response to some of their requests was posted in the most recent Friday Memo.

Charlie Mas said...

So we're what, about 25 days into Dr. Nyland's 100 day communication push. It's a quarter done and where are we? Has he even stated any goals for the effort?

Melissa Westbrook said...

So the link that Lynn provides is somewhat troubling. There are a lot of words but not as much action as you might think.

Of course there isn't a lot of money for new programs (well, except those generated by JSCEE staff). And Proyecto Saber has repeatedly been in danger of being cut.

If Nyland is saying that he created a program in Marysville only because he had the money, that's discouraging.

What I think I'm hearing from district headquarters is that THEY want to solve the opportunity gap their own way BUT what needs to happen is for Nyland and senior staff need to listen to community leaders in groups that are doing poorly. That means listening to the Native American parent community, African-American parent community, Latino-American community, etc.

Carol Simmons said...

Members of the Native Community met with Dr. Nyland in October. The issues and requests included Revitalizing Indian Heritage School, Naming the buildings at Wilson-Pacific after Robert Eaglestaff and educating Native students appropriately. Thus far, no response to these issues. Clear Sky After School Programs have remained homeless. Additionally, the Assembly (requested by the students) at Ingraham High School to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day has been refused and the Rally by the Native community ignored. The Native School was destroyed and the Land was stolen again. The attempt to share the Native culture by Native students was refused and the Data Profile to track suspensions/academic achievement/placement into Special Programs has been discontinued. Why has the District made access to this important student data a secret?

Watching said...

The district's Strategic Plan is at risk due to lack of funding. We've seen this before and some things never change. When will the district make a 5 year plan with defined funding sources?

Next up: Prek.

mirmac1 said...

The board has no clue how much this Strategic Plan costs. Staff decides what it funds and what it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Who can articulate the opportunity gap?

"That means listening to the Native American parent community, African-American parent community, Latino-American community, etc."

This type of talk is highly offensive to all students.

So, you are saying that no white students are missing opportunities?

Charles Barkley

Melissa Westbrook said...

Offensive? For Pete's sake, of course I'm not saying no white kids aren't missing opps.

But I'm saying the district would be wise to listen to what different communities have to say.

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Gotsch noted a letter issued from OSPI saying that the matter of staffing allocations was compliant. In addition, he noted that the State Auditor’s Office letter reported that they did plan on reviewing this item on this year’s annual financial audit. Mr. Gotsch spoke about how this citizen’s complaint gave the District the opportunity to closely review and reexamine District’s school SPED budgeting practices."

I think SPS is confusing OPPORTUNITY with an OSPI mandate. The district does not investigate any allegations, because if they did they would NOT "deny" 99% of the allegations made in Citizens Complaints and hire outside attorneys. If SPS would investigate before hiring attorneys they would see for themselves the validity of the allegations most of which OSPI find to be valid.

SPS is still playing games with staffing these violations have been documented and sent on to OSPI and the DOE. The main issue is using non-certified IAs to provide SDI and using non certified IAs to fill-in as substitute teachers in Sped classes and using non sped certified teachers.

Draconian SPS

Carol Simmons said...

I should have said in my post that although Dr. Nyland did respond to members of the Native Community on December 5th, the response was not satisfactory. Perhaps he will respond to these requests tomorrow. It has never been dollars, only priorities.

Lynn said...


I believe Michael Tolley was saying that Cleveland (while still an option school) is not an alternative learning experience school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I believe Mr. Tolley should be clear in what he says. An option school is not a traditional school.

Charlie Mas said...

From the CPR we see that most of the Title IX work remains "In Process", which is the bureaucratic euphemism for "Not Done".

Anonymous said...

I think Lynn is right. Tolley was making his statements based upon the curriculum used.

An option school may not follow "traditional" assignment procedures, but some, like Hazel Wolf K-8, K-5 Stem, and presumably Cleveland, use a traditional curriculum and traditional school day structure, just with a emphasis on science, math, etc... They don't fall into the Alternative Learning Experience school category.

"Option" is an assignment term. "ALE" is a curriculum term. It gets confusing. Which schools, besides Interagency, Cascade Parent Partnership, and Nova are ALE schools? Are language-immersion schools considered ALE schools? How about schools like Thornton Creek and Salmon Bay?

- North-end Mom

mirmac1 said...

Here is a more complete version of the Consolidated Program Review, which found many issues with Federal and State grant programs.


(P.S. when originally posted on the district website, this document was improperly redacted. It took TWO parent reports to get that fixed.)

Anonymous said...

ALE is more than a curriculum term. It is a WA State term and the schools have different program requirements and funding structures than a traditional school.


Some of the confusion is around SPS vs WA State terminology. I'm pretty sure SPS option schools are still traditional schools in the eyes of the state, where traditional means they have the same education requirements and funding structures as neighborhood schools.


Charlie Mas said...

The NOVA Project is no longer an ALE.

Josh Hayes said...

Licton Springs K-8 (formerly Pinehurst, formerly AS1) is an ALE. But it's true that the number of such schools has dwindled over the years. Downtown has no love for non-standard programs.

Lynn said...

parent is correct - ALEs are defined by the WAC. We have just two - Interagency and Cascade. You can see the annual approval required by law on this agenda.

A school can be designated a Creative Approach School by the district. A CAS can be an option or attendace area school. The first of ours were authorized at a board meeting in February 2013. (Here's the link to the agenda.) I don't know if any others have been authorized after that point - or if any have lost the designation.

I guess I don't know what Tolley meant. Are traditional schools all those that aren't ALEs or CASs?

Ragweed said...

Licton Springs is neither an ALE nor a Creative Approach School.

There is also a board policy on Alternative Education - C54.00, which is different from ALE schools. The idea behind the Creative Approach schools was an attempt to create a new version of the Alternative Education Policy, while also addressing issues with SEA over hiring exceptions and some other rules. However, there is no board policy on Creative Approach Schools, nor on how a school could go about becoming a creative approach school. Board policy C54.00 is the only board policy addressing alternative education, other than the state mandated ALE policy.