Tuesday Open Thread

As I previously reported, Chicago Public Schools had not wanted to give the PARCC (Common Core) assessment to all their students, saying they were not ready.  Arne Duncan twisted their arm and they rescinded that announcement.

Here's a fairly amazing notice from one elementary PTA in Chicago where they say (as if it were a fundraiser):

The Blaine PTA would like to achieve a 100% PARCC opt out so our students can get back 10 hours of vital classroom instruction!

FYI, the Mayor unveiled a new 10-year city transportation plan, Move Seattle, yesterday.  I think it will come to us in the form of a levy this fall.   I read it with an eye to how it might help SPS.  The word "school(s)" is mentioned nine times in relation to:

- fewer high school students getting a drivers license (from 1996 to 2010, from 85% to 73%)
- one 10-year goal is to "Improve safety in school zones"
- "make the 27% of the city without sidewalks more walkable - through constructing up to 30 new blocks of sidewalks"
- partner with SPS for 12 more school zone cameras
- improve school walk zones at up to 12 locations

(They note that the revenue from the school zone cameras would pay for the safety improvements around schools.)

As well, also in the plan, increasing biking access/safety (which would help students who bike to school.)

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Third graders take on keyboard challenge [for SBAC]
Feb 12, 2015


Anonymous said…
This is why Hamilton breaks: It has only 2 acres and cannot accept a single portable, and, its feeder schools, JSIS and McDonald are Language Immersion, and so people have MOVED into Wallingford specifically to get LI, which means those schools are overstuffed, and remember McDonald is a new school -- that is why Hamilton will break. It has nothing to do with APP. But, it does mean APP has to move out of Hamilton. Which is why it should start to be partially redirected over to JAMS starting NOW.

Some numbers: In September 2013, JSIS COMBINED only sent 58 students to HIMS. in Sept 2014, they only sent 57. This year, they will send only 81. BUT then in Sept. 2016 they will send 157, and then Sept 2017 - they will send 193. Meanwhile, the kids entering 6th grade this Sept. will still be in the building at that point, they will be 8th graders. In order for the kids entering HIMS this Sept to 'survive' in Hamilton when the classes of 157 and 193 neighborhood kids show up, the non-neighborhood kids (eg. the Whitman service area APP students) should head to JAMS NOW. Hamilton simply cannot expand to contain the rapid growth of its immediate neighbors because it is 2 acres. It can take in Queen Anne and Magnolia APP, but, the other APPers should go to JAMS, which has 18 acres and can handle growth via portables.

Basically, JAMS will be the new Eckstein in terms of lots of portables. But hey, Whitman has its fair share of portables as does Denny and Washington. Even McClure has 2.

Plan ahead.
Anonymous said…
@ Plan ahead, I don't think you're quite right. For one, JSIS and McD were converted to option schools, so they have a better mechanism to manage capacity and prevent overcrowding now. Simply moving into the neighborhood does not guarantee you access. The large group cohorts of 3rd and 4th graders at JSIS, for example, seem to be followed by smaller cohorts in the earlier grades, so this particular capacity issue may be somewhat time-limited. JSIS is not going to keep sending more and more kids to HIMS each year--it can't, as JSIS doesn't have any room to expand.

You also said the Hamilton "breaking" has nothing to do with APP. How on earth do you figure that? When APP is about half of HIMS, and when APP testing numbers are skyrocketing, that doesn't make any sense. It's not APP's "fault," if that's what you mean. But yes, APP is in fact a huge factor.

Yes, the HIMS numbers are troubling, and there will likely be some big changes over the course of the next couple years. Someone looking for more stability might try rolling the dice and opting for JAMS now, to avoid a HIMS split. It's still a roll of the dice, though, as there are no guarantees your kid could stay at JAMS. If the district sends WP kids to an interim site next year, they may reassign them anyway. We've already seen HIMS HCC 8th graders get relocated to JAMS (willing or not), so I don't see why anyone would expect anything different.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
I got a ticket from the speeding cameras in front of Eckstein. $189. They sent me pictures, and a link to the video showing my car. I'm mortified that I was speeding (29 mph in 20 mph zone, while the kids were coming to school).

So, everyone be careful, keep the kids safer (and, avoid the fine; it will catch up with you). I look forward to traffic/sidewalk improvements. The kids should be safe around their schools.

sad speeder
Anonymous said…
How long are guaranteed seats in APP middle school going to continue? Other districts have most gifted learners clustered at regular middle schools, with a magnet school for self-contained and no transportation to the magnets and limited seats, usually filled by lottery
Frequentlty we hear how HCC is a blessing capacity-wise, but as currently structured it's an expensive and disruptive program. Parents have until after the start of school to decide to use free yellow bus service to to an HCC site; or they can go to their assigned school.
Planning is thus more complicated and it costs more to bus kids.

With curriculum alignment the need for HCC as a stand-alone program is vanishing. SPS can comply with WA state law by clustering and providing in-depth classwork at any middle school.All that needs to be done to comply with the law is give HC students additional assignments or even as simple as requiring better quality work to receive the same grade as gened or Spectrum-identified students.

Honors and Spectrum classes are already being eliminated in favor of clustering in middle schools and teachers are being required to differentiate both instruction, assignments and grading. Just because parents don't like it doesn't mean it doesn't work. The data on HC student performance at cohorted sites vs. cluster arrangements would be very interesting to see.

Many factors can affect performance, but is the cohort effect really helping the students to reach their fullest potential academically and socially?

Anonymous said…
Sad speeder-are you sure you were speeding? My partner got a "speeding ticket" with "proof" that he was "speeding" in a school zone. Only the video clearly shows that he was at a dead stop at the traffic light just prior to the ticket and was being passed by another car, which was likely the actual speeder. Make sure you really deserved that ticket.

Camera shy
Anonymous said…
Where's Mr. English? I'm surprised nothing has leaked out about the reason he was placed on leave.

On another note, SPS legal has started settling complaint$.

Maybe someone ran the numbers and realized $9,000 in compensatory services is much less than the estimated $75,000 the SPED data breach has cost so far.

Fools Money
Anonymous said…
@ Charlie,

I love how you're willing to say standalone HCC isn't needed, while also acknowledging there aren't data on how well kids do with clustering or in-class differentiation instead. Classic.

Also, please note that the WAC says that "For highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education. Simply giving students more work or requiring better output is not the same as acceleration.

Anonymous said…
@Plan ahead

You wrote:
"Basically, JAMS will be the new Eckstein in terms of lots of portables."

Let me see if I can follow this logic...

Eckstein was over-crowded, and projected to become even more over-crowded, so the solution was to geo-split all the north-end kids out of Eckstein and put them at JAMS, along with all the NE APP kids (from both the JAMS and Eckstein AAs), because of over-crowding at Hamilton.

So, now Eckstein has lots of breathing room (at least for this year), whereas JAMS this year, with a population of 730+ kids, was fully-enrolled and using 4 portables, because the building "repurposing" is not yet complete, and there aren't enough classrooms, science labs, etc... to house more kids.

HOPEFULLY Phase II construction at JAMS, which is scheduled to start up soon, will go as planned, and there will be seats available for all the kids expected at JAMS next year.

Please keep in mind that:

1. The number of kids enrolled in the neighborhood schools feeding into JAMS has been growing steadily since the NSAP.

2. The number of kids enrolled in HCC/APP@Lincoln, which also serves as a JAMS feeder school, has been growing by leaps and bounds.

The current 6th grade class at JAMS is about 320 students. This is remarkable for a BRAND NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL in an area also served by a popular K-8 school (Hazel Wolf), and in a neighborhood which has a relatively-easy commute to Shoreline Schools.

JAMS should have no trouble meeting and probably exceeding its target building capacity (post-construction) of 960.

As a neighborhood parent with a kid starting at JAMS next year, I am really curious why it is evidently OK (at least in the minds of some individuals) for my kid and his peers to attend over-crowded middle schools?

Are we, as neighborhood parents, supposed to feel fortunate to even have a middle school for our kid to attend? Like, hey - at least they didn't go with the middle school in the parking lot co-located with the K-8 "solution" that was being tossed around during the Growth Boundaries planning?

Are our kids somehow considered more resilient than those living in neighborhoods south of 95th? If anything, I would argue that the demographics, such as ELL, FRL, etc... would indicate the opposite.

I get that SPS is running at least 5 years behind, when it comes to capacity planning for middle and high schools. I get that Hamilton is over-crowded, and can't add portables. I get that starting Wilson Pacific at an interim site via a geosplit is not something most parents would want for their kid.

But, please keep in mind that it kind of sucked for folks to advocate so strongly to scrape our north-end kids out of Eckstein (6th, 7th, and 8th graders), so that kids living closer to Eckstein would not have to experience a massively-over crowded middle school environment. Now we have people like you advocating to over-crowd our new middle school (JAMS). That kind of sucks, too. Just because there is a big parking lot at JAMS doesn't necessarily mean that it is "OK" to fill it with portables.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
News flash, HF.

Acceleration in LA and SS is going the way of the dodo and the passenger pigeon. Math acceleration is available at many(most?) elememtaries and all middle schools.

The question is how to serve the students, in this conversation HC students.

As I mentioned other districts cluster and are complying with their state requirements to serve their gifted population. It can be done here. The questions are; how effective is the present model and how does it impact the rest of the students with the capacity obligation that currently exists for serving identified HC students, i.e. the guarenteed busing to an HCC site.

You ask the million dollar question about student performance in or out of the cohort for HC students. AL has the data and it squeaks out a little at the Task Force meetings, but it's hard to quantify the benefits of attending a self-contained program vs. clustered in terms of social development.

One could see the benefits of effective clustering in terms of transport times, neighborhood cohesion, reduced cost, socialization; general unity in the district.

It seems the district would be forced to show growth in HC identified student commensurate with other students or be in violation of the statutes.

Let's face it, somethings got to give with the burgeoning HCC and I don't hear any ideas from you or Lynn or any other defenders of the status quo. Are you all just hoping to get your kids through before it implodes or do you want to help all the SPS students including the HC get a better education?

Anonymous said…
Middle school north of the ship canal isn't about your kids or my kids or these kids or those kids or who did what to whom. Or who suffered the worst. Or whose building has the worst physical plant. It is bad all over the District. Yes, JAMS will have portables. Portables are not ideal. Eckstein use to have them. Washington has loads of them now, but, when Meany opens, WMS will loose most of its portables. If you are mad, get mad at the revolving-door Super and the clueless Board who failed ALL of our kids in terms of capacity -just ask Schmitz Park.

So, if it NOT about begin angry at Eckstein or bitter about some selfish parents - what is it about? It is about the absolute lack of space and how to cope to make it less awful for children while space is being built.

I may be in a minority, but I hope we all think less about our particular building and more about the whole region.

Planning now will help logistics during scarcity, and trying to make the best out of a bad situation for ALL kids.

(Guess what, in 2 years, the north will be having the exact same conversation except about HIGH SCHOOL!)

The evil I hope to avoid, almost at all costs: a certain group of kids (whether it is my kid or not is NOT the point -- these are kids!!) go through 5 or 6 building in 5 or 6 years.


Grade Building
5 Bagley Elementary
6 Whitman Middle
7 John Marshall Interim
8 Wilson Pacific Middle
9 Ballard High School
10 Lincoln High School (geo split to populate new high school)

How should the District try to avoid that? By keeping Hamilton kids in Hamilton, so they don't get geo-split out which will trigger a pull from Whitman.

JAMS was populated by geo-split neighborhood kids out of Ecsktein, and, non-geographic kids from HIMS, but that is the nature of starting up a brand new middle school. This will be repeated for WMS to Meany - kids who live north central will be pulled out of WMS to Meany. That is what happens in a geography based assignment system: kids closest to the new school get pulled in.

All middle schoolers north still will get a seat in a middle school while we all wait for WP, and that means our buildings will be overcrowded while we wait for those WP. But by shifting some kids *now* to JAMS, the whole of Hamilton might be rescued, and, if it is, then maybe, just maybe, Whitman kids can stay at Whitman, supported with a few extra portables (like Washington is now while it waits for Meany to come on-line) so that they can stay there and avoid a year at an interim Marshall building. Yes, some Whitman kids will be geosplit out to WP when it opens like Eckstein kids were geosplit to JAMS when JAMS opened, but, the JAMS kids did not have to get pushed out of Eckstein AND spend a transition year in a holding tank while waiting for JAMS!

If there is a way to avoid that - shouldn't we? It means distributing portables to Whitman and JAMS so that kids avoid becoming nomads.

Stand back, look at the big picture, look at the long term. Nothing is going to be great for kids while we are out of capacity, but it will hit some kids worse than others, based on their address. Hamilton and McClure have hard caps - the rest of the system has to adapt.

No kid should go through 6 buildings in 6 years. If other campuses have to take portables so that we try and avoid it, that makes more sense to me. Even if this 6 years/6 buildings might not happen, the fact that it *could* would make me want to do what could be done NOW to protect those children from even that possibility. You could say that it is speculative. But, if you look at the numbers of the successively larger grades, it becomes clear that it is a distinct possibility. So, even if it is LOW RISK, it has HIGH CONSEQUENCES, so that requires the system to plan thoughtfully.

NO children should become nomads.

Plan ahead
Anonymous said…
@ Charlie, wow.

Acceleration may be going in practice, to some extent, but I was just pointing out that the WAC specifically calls for acceleration. With an and, not an or. If a district doesn't provide acceleration, they are out of compliance. Now HOW they provide that acceleration can vary. In-class differentiation whereby they provide extra work or better output, however, doesn't cut it.

As to whether I'm just looking out for my kids or trying to get all the SPS students including the HC get a better education, it's the latter. That's why I've pushed for better (any) evaluation of HC services, a better (any) HC curriculum, etc. I've also advocated for improved gen ed and spectrum programs and curricula, better district-wide capacity management, policy enforcement, PTSA fund-sharing, etc. You, on the other hand, seem content to do away with a program model that you don't like, even in the absence of hard data showing whether it works or not, and despite anecdotal evidence from many parents that is does work. So how is that trying to get all students including HC students a better education?

You want my ideas as to how to deal with the burgeoning HC population? For one, increase the rigor in gen ed and Spectrum. And reduce class sizes, so teachers can actually provide some differentiation for kids who are a little advanced beyond even that level. Those kids who are significantly advanced, however, need something more. A stand-alone program makes sense for them, but the teachers need training in how to teach gifted kids, and there needs to be a reasonable curriculum.

The status quo is certainly not perfect--but there are a lot of things about it that can be improved aside from blowing it all up. Wouldn't it make more sense to try that first? I'm not sure why you think send all those kids back to to the neighborhood schools from which they came is a better--or even workable--solution.

For the last time, the state pays for the buses for HC kids. It does not cost the district extra to bus those kids to APP sites.
Anonymous said…
Anyone have updates on the split district proposal? I know from the blog it went to the state senate but now what? Thanks! I'm also wondering about the McCleary timeline. I just don't see anything about it in the news. Only transportation.

Anonymous said…
I gotta laugh HF. Increase rigor and reduce class size.
That's your solution?
Parents percieve HCC as beneficial for their children and will continue to opt into it.
Yes, scrapping the current delivery method is my solution. It is untenable for even the short term.

The vast majority of current HCC students need to return to neighborhood schools and service needs to be provided there.

Anonymous said…
I think you're wrong Melissa; the state pays for testing only. BTW, private testing is also banned in many jurisdictions and I woud advocate for that as well.

Anonymous said…
Word is that at least some of the School Board directors, notably Peaslee and McLaren are pushing for year-round school as a solution to HS capacity issues...and not just for remediation, as part of the regular HS schedule.

- b-bye summer!

Anonymous said…
Well, Charlie, obviously we aren't going to see eye to eye on this.

One of the main reasons parents see HCC as beneficial is because the local school isn't providing what the kid needs. If you increase the rigor and differentiation in the local school, many parents will opt to avoid the hassle and trauma of switching schools, dealing with transportation, having kids at multiple sites, etc. I'm sure there are some parents who do care about the label, but I think a majority are more interested in having their kids' needs met, wherever that can best happen.

You laugh at the idea of increasing rigor in neighborhood schools, yet still want to send the HC kids back? Without any increased rigor? Unconscionable.

And talk about untenable, try redistributing the HC kids back to their neighborhood schools now. What a capacity mess.

I got a laugh out of one of your earlier comments, too. "One could see the benefits of effective clustering in terms of transport times, neighborhood cohesion, reduced cost, socialization; general unity in the district." Neighborhood cohesion and district unity??? Highly academically gifted kids (and their parents) are often stigmatized in this district, so I don't quite understand what you're talking about here. And reduced costs? If transportation and testing are otherwise funded, what are these extra costs? One could argue it is more cost-effective to serve these kids in a few locations, as opposed to recreating services, training teachers, providing advanced materials, etc. at each site, even if only a few kids.

Anonymous said…
Yes - exactly @b-bye summer!

She and Marty are looking at year round school to solve capacity problem. Hey, they are up for reelection.

See? We are all interconnected. Go ahead and 'shoo' *those* children from your building. That's a Pyyrhic victory: it just means your building will tip into year round school. Think big picture. Look ahead. See the interconnectedness of us all, then ask for what will rescue all our of children from the worst of the worst not just yours *for now*. The solution is more portables at Whitman and JAMS: Keep HIMS under the 1150 breakpoint enrollment (do that by having rising APP 6th graders from Whitman head to JAMS NOW!). Those Whitman and JAMS portables will protect all of our kids from year round school and prevent children from becoming nomads.

Plan ahead
Anonymous said…
@ Planning Ahead

In your original post, you suggested that all Hamilton-bound APP/HCC kids should go to JAMS, instead, except for APP/HCC kids from Queen Anne and Magnolia. There is evidently room for those kids at Hamilton, just not any of the NW kids.

Do you have numbers to back this up?

How many APP/HCC kids are expected at Hamilton next year who live in Queen Anne/Magnolia?

How about NW Seattle (Whitman and Hamilton AAs)?

How many APP/HCC kids are expected at JAMS next year (from the Eckstein and JAMS AAs)?

If you were to somehow direct all the NW APP/HCC kids (6th graders?) to JAMS, instead of to Hamilton, then how many APP/HCC kids, total would there be at JAMS? How many HCC/APP kids were there be, percentage-wise, at JAMS?

I understand some of the logic behind your scheme, and, believe me, any anger I have is directed at SPS for their poor planning. Still, wouldn't the end result of your scheme be a JAMS that is predominately an APP/HCC school...with some token percentage of neighborhood kids squeezed in?

Honestly, it was bizarre-enough to place APP/HCC in the North Seattle middle school AA serving the lowest number of APP/HCC-qualified students. To make that school predominately HCC/APP seems very odd, in this supposed era of "neighborhood schools."

But, I guess by your logic, it would only be a temporary thing, right?

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
K-5 STEM needs to move to EC Hughes and stay an option school to control enrollment.

Denny needs to move to Boren, then Sealth will expand into that wing.

Anonymous said…
Big fat NO to year round school. Take away summer, the only months of decent weather and opportunity to learn someplace other than the crap facilities of SPS?


North of 85th
Anonymous said…
Can also predict that the majority of SEA members will say DOA.

North of 85th
Anonymous said…
The only other option besides year-round may be split schedules--also a big bummer. For kids who have afterschool activities they want to stick with--they'd likely have to start school at something like 6am. Add in transportation and those kids are getting up at like 4:30am! So much for later start times to accommodate their developing brains. Teachers may prefer split schedules though--they might get shorter days, and probably fewer staff meetings and PD to deal with.

It's hard to see a good way out of the HS capacity mess that seems to be just around the corner...
Eric B said…
A reliable source said that Peaslee has said she would not run for re-election. I haven't heard it from her mouth myself, but I believe the person who said it. If that's true, I find it hard to believe that year-round school could be pushed through before the end of her term. They'll have to re-do HS boundaries before that.

My prediction: Split shifts and/or year round schedule will be proposed as the only possible last-minute solution to an entirely foreseeable HS capacity crisis in about 2-3 years, probably just after an election. No board director is going to take that on just before an election until it's the least bad option.
Anonymous said…
Much interesting national education news today:

NYT says Rahm Emmanuel will have a fight on his hands in his mayoral runoff because of his policy of school closures.

WaPost: Similar story, different politician. Explains how Chris Christie's autocratic approach to remaking Newark public schools has not been successful with the community and is (further) hurting his presidential chances.

And the one that really struck me. (An eerie reflection of Seattle trajectory:) Beverley Hall, the previous Atlanta superintendent who was waiting to stand trial on charges of setting up a system that encouraged and enabled massive standardized test fraud, died of breast cancer yesterday,. Hall was a poster child for the Broad School of Superintendents: Big Data, Big Testing, Big Emphasis on teacher failure. Who was an acolyte? Maria Goodloe-Johnson. who also died of cancer shortly after she was fired in Seattle.

No, Charlie, the state pays for the transportation; that has been what the district has stated for years (and I have been around a long time).

Private testing is also available - for free - for F/RL students.

Common Sense, I think you are right about what should happen in that area.

As you all have pointed out, elections are coming. Make those capacity questions specific and get specific answers. (And no pie-in-the-sky stuff.)
Anonymous said…
Uh, does SPS have a permanent replacement for Tracy Libros (enrollment). And is there an in-house demographer? For years there hasn't been.

The high school capacity issue is every bit the school closure issue that first got me watching SPS. A slow moving disaster that the entire community sees and for which neither board nor administrators take ownership. Until it's too late and the students are harmed. Significantly. To call the lack of planning for high school capacity a travesty is an understatement. Criminal comes closer.

Anonymous said…
In my opinion they should look at the Amgen building for high school space. It is a large facility and they could lease some of it. The location is fabulous.

It is near bike trails and transportation routes. It would appeal to families all over the city. It would give Ballard H.S. back to Ballard families.

Parents should ask SPS about this possibility. If nothing gets started the opportunity will be lost.

S parent
DistrictWatcher, no permanent Enrollment director as far as I have heard. Yes, they have a demographer (but I don't know his/her name).
Anonymous said…
In other random news, some Bronx schools have just lifted a ban on cell phones. They still need to hand them over in the morning (after passing through the metal detector), then pick them up at the end of the school day. Most interesting is the business that popped up during the cell phone ban - the "green truck" holds students cell phones for a $1/day.


Anonymous said…
They can't afford the Amgen building due to its triple net lease requirement. SPS usually neglects its buildings resulting in huge repair cost.

Most likely Seattle Genetics will be moving in to the space. They need to keep the labs even if they end up sub leasing out much of the 750,000 sf of space.

Pete S.
Holy COW! said…
Directors Peters and Patu have submitted a resolution to suspend Smarter Balanced tests.

Here is a well crafted resolution:

Anonymous said…
I love, love, love Director Peters.

Thank you for showing up for our kids.

Can't imagine this will be successful, but, I can dream, can't I?

Peters FanGirl

Anonymous said…
Wow, that does seem to be a well-written and well-reasoned resolution. Kudos, Dirs. Peters and Patu--and thank you!

Anonymous said…
So Bev Hall is dead? Too bad. Too bad for her family and friends. And too bad that the case could not have continued and she could have spent some time in jail. That would have been a giant step forward for getting out from the national fervor for high stakes testing and the whip the teachers until the students achieve mindset.

Let no one forget what happened to Atlanta on her watch.

Anonymous said…

There IS something that can be done. The two high schools that have absolutely "nowhere" to put portables and are at basically 100% capacity, give or take a kid or two, are Ballard and Roosevelt. Both have big practice football fields. They do NOT play their games there.

Instead of disrupting every single HS family (and the ripple effect - basically every family) and creating a huge and expensive mess - b/c split shift schools and/or year round will absolutely mean increases in all kinds of costs - running the cafeterias more hours, but for fewer kids in those times? Maintenance year round? All kinds of BIG hidden costs.

Instead of doing all that to every family and adding all that cost, they could do any of these:

(1) put portables on the BHS and RHS practice fields, and use Sand Point/Magnuson soccer fields with practice uprights. Isn't the city supposed to be our PARTNER? Wouldn't these be creative problem solving from our mayor?

(2) have those 2 schools practice at Hale and Ingraham - ie, split shifts only for football practice rather than for schools and families.

(3) They could do partner programs - ie, BHS and Hale have a joint team -


(4) cancel football. Seriously - it's okay, we'll all survive. There are a few kids who play football. There are well over 1000 at each school who don't. And they ALL need an education first. Football is not education.

Signed: Just saying
Anonymous said…
Agree about Amgen leasing. Too expensive unfortunately. Better to fix up the properties SPS own. People mentioned it before. Convert Blaine to HS. Convert shuttered Magnolia school to K-8. Needs to be done now. Otherwise, yes it'll be split shift, etc. Really need to take a hard look at ALL SPS properties and evaluate best use. And no, don't buy the whole too expensive cop-out excuse for not converting the Magnolia school NOT when SPS was bidding on the downtown fed building.


Anonymous said…
If Amgen is so expensive, then why don’t they sell the run down Magnolia school that has been empty for years? Sitting on top of Magnolia, it would be a lovely location for view condos and they could get a lot of money for it.

Amgen would make a nice high school. Think bigger.

S parent
Anonymous said…
I have an open enrollment question: We will be putting in a choice form for our upper elementary student for an option school that has both spectrum and gen ed seats (though I think the school itself does not have separate spectrum classes).
In terms of waitlists, are there a few set aside "spectrum" seats and the rest are gen ed? Or is it one big pot of seats and the labels are so they know how many of each? We don't care which it is, but want to try to figure out what to put as first choice, since that is the only thing that you go on a waiting list for.
Anonymous said…
S parent, i luv your bigness! But if SPS got outbid for the downtown building, SPS most defintely can't afford Amgen. It's a huge campus and very new facility. But gosh if I win the next big lotto, for real, I donate and shame those Seattle gazillionaires with my measley 100 mills to buy the bloody thing...for the kids y'know.

Anonymous said…
For those saying goodbye summer if looking at year-round school to alleviate over-crowding, not necessarily true. There are a lot of ways to configure multiple tracks and year-round schooling. Oftentimes kids will have at least a month off during the summer, sometimes more.
Various examples are here: http://www.nayre.org/cal.htm

My niece in AZ was on a year-round schedule, and she had the full month of July off, with 2 week breaks interspersed. She liked it because she got a "break" in each season, and rarely got sick. The teachers seemed to like it too. For those vehemently opposed, there were still schools on a traditional schedule. Utah has used year-round schools and multiple tracks for decades now, since they refuse to support public education properly even as they push for quivers full of children.

Watching said…
Expedia might move into the old Amgen site.

Translation: SPS can not out-bid Expedia.
TechyMom said…
Split schedules, with one group going to 6-12 and another 12-6, would be unpleasant. Year-round school might or might not be. Want to know what wouldn't be unpleasant? A 10-period day with flexible scheduling. You want to play football? OK that's your 9th and 10th period class, and you will probably need to take a 1st period. Want an after-school job? Take a first period class and leave early. Want to pull espresso before school or babysit your little sister while your mom finishes night shift? Don't take a first and second period. Want to sleep in a little? Don't take a first period. Like to have things spaced out, and have time to relax or do homework during the day? Take early and late classes with free periods in between. Want to take PE *and* Music? Do it. Want to take a running start class in the morning? Or at night and sleep late to make up for it? Do that. Want to graduate early? Take a extra class or two every semester (I had a friend in HS who did this). Having the school open from 7:30-5:30 would give kids a lot of options, and would allow more kids to use the same classrooms. We would need to hire more teachers, janitors and cafeteria staff, but we're going to need to do that anyway to handle more kids.
Anonymous said…
CT-I have a niece and nephew in AZ as well. They have never known anything but year=round school, and they DO get about a full month off in the summer. It's plenty to go to visit grandparents up north, or for the older one to put in more hours at work. There seems to be no problem with sports or school activities either. They also get 2-week breaks at other times, the niece dances and has plenty of time to travel to competitions. I thought my sis was nuts to choose such a system but it has worked out well for them.

Anonymous said…

There are no seats set aside for Spectrum. The enrollment first looks to see if there are any seats open (GenEd), if yes, then it is determined if any Spectrum seats are available.

Some schools limit the Spectrum placements. In this case if there were seats open in GenEd. but no Spectrum openings (and you listed Spectrum as your first choice) you would be placed on the wait list.

Other schools are open to all comers if there is space available. If a seat is open the instructions are to be admitted - Spectrum or not.

I would recommend contacting the school you are interested in to ask how they treat Spectrum - all comers, or limit. And then submit your application with GenEd or Spectrum listed as first choice based on what they say.

Anonymous said…

The answer to the animosity between the gifted community and the gened is going to be found through integrating the gifted into the rest of the student population.

And how, pray tell, is transportation funded by the state?
Does the district charge them or is their a per pupil payment? What about districts that have minimal transportation fees for their gifted, do they get to keep the money? The state payed for all 2nd grade testing last year as well? Anybody got that in a document?

HF, rigor will not change the exodus of HC to the cohort by much, if any. Parents sincerely feel that a homogeneous grouping is more amenable to academic growth and that will not change.

Anonymous said…
About 5 or 6 weeks ago I drove past the old Magnolia school on 28th and saw a light on in a second floor classroom and maybe 8 or 10 people standing; looked like a meeting of some kind. It was in the evening. That school has been locked up tight for years. I wonder what the meeting was about. Can't imagine why anyone but SPS would meet there and why there but to discuss using it in some way.

Anonymous said…
"HF, rigor will not change the exodus of HC to the cohort by much, if any. Parents sincerely feel that a homogeneous grouping is more amenable to academic growth and that will not change."

Disagree, based on my experience. Been in too many discussions with other HC parents agonizing over the decision to stay in the neighborhood school or leave for HCC. We stayed at the neighborhood school, but not an easy decision. For those we know, the desire to avoid uprooting a kid and the convenience of being in the neighborhood plus the advantage of them sticking with their friends is balanced against the kid getting a needed challenge that is promised but not delivered in the mythical differentiated classroom.

For me and others I know, it'd have been a no-brainer if the school only delivered the promised differentiation.

Anonymous said…
Regarding the Amgen site — SPS would not need to buy the building. They could lease part of it for a high school. The University of Washington or a tech company could use other parts of the campus.

This would not be unlike the Center School, where they lease space in the Armory building along with other tenants.

We need to get away from the idea of stand alone buildings. SPS should be able to lease spaces and grow with expanding enrollment.

S parent
Anonymous said…
Like I said, Charlie, we're not going to agree on this. I know plenty of parents who waited and waited at their neighborhood schools because they really wanted to be there, only to leave when it just became too detrimental to stay. If it were all about "escaping to homogeneity" they would have switched as soon as they could, according to your theory. Although in our case, switching to HCC provided INCREASED diversity over the neighborhood school--and believe it or not, we welcomed it! But I understand you are steadfast in your beliefs.

You do realize, however, that these kids WERE integrated into the rest of the student population initially, right? For some families that may have only been K, but many others don't join HCC until later grades. There's even a large group that joins in middle school. I'd be willing to bet that a lot of those kids and families were made to feel out of place, and that teachers and other parents treated them differently (and often times horribly). My kid, for example, was accused by his teacher of showing off if he asked a question or made a comment that went beyond the way-too-basic concept being studied. He learned he had to just keep his mouth shut and be bored instead. He also had kids take his homework without his consent and copy it. Oh, and teachers loved to point out any mistakes he made to the whole class, as it made the other students feel better. Other parents made it clear that I could talk about their kids but not my own. And so on. Unfortunately, I know I'm not alone in these experiences. There's a lot of anti-intellectual sentiment, and simply putting highly academically gifted kids back in that environment doesn't make those types of problems go away.

Charlie, could you do me a favor and put an initial (anything but M) after your name? I worry that readers will think you are Charlie Mas and I don't want that confusion.

To your comment about "animosity" between HC and GenEd, my perception is that it is one-sided. But fyi, most districts have gifted ed programs. That's the reality.
Anonymous said…
Can't argue against anecdotes.

Charlie Tulip
Anonymous said…

Homogeneity in CogAT and achievement, that's the pot o' gold people want.

Charlie T
Rufus X said…
Just Saying said There IS something that can be done. The two high schools that have absolutely "nowhere" to put portables and are at basically 100% capacity, give or take a kid or two, are Ballard and Roosevelt. Both have big practice football fields. They do NOT play their games there.

First, when hypothetically repurposing practice fields, don't forget Garfield.

Second, your entire post would indicate that you do not have a student attending these schools. If you did, you might know that these practice fields are not just for multiple football teams. They are used for:

**Girls soccer - training (every other day for 2-3 months) & most home games (1 per week during the season)
**Boys soccer - training (every other day for 2-3 months) & most home games (1 per week during the season)
**Ultimate Frisbee
**Track & Field
**Marching band practice
**Weekend use for local rec, select & premier soccer games (partnership w/ the City Parks Dept, which is woefully short of turf fields for the many sports it supports)
Lynn said…
It makes more sense to cancel all those activities than put high school students on double shifts or year round schedules.

The case against high school sports.
Anonymous said…

I take it that your kids are not into sports.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
For some kids, sports is the only reason they keep their grades up. Hale's field is shared with the community center and Hale only gets to use it until around 5:30PM for practice sessions.

Anonymous said…
My kids play high school sports. I see no reason that sports should be attached to high schools instead of community centers or athletic clubs.

Evidently sports are more important than academics when it comes to decision making about school start times. Students miss class regularly for games. The district funds athletic directors but not college/career counselors. Now sports may be a factor in pushing us to split shifts.

I will always hope my kids play sports but this level of district commitment to sports is nutty.

-HS Parent
Anonymous said…
I come from another country. A very successful one with high GDP and standard of living. A country that does not have the disease burden that the USA endures which is associated with obesity.

High school athletics is not glorified where I come from. It is available, as are other extracurricular activities like drama or debate team, but it is not the reason for school. Rather than push a school of 1,700 students (Roosevelt) into a 9 period day, putting portables on the feild makes more sense, from my perspective. The students can still run around the track for exercise or play basketball in the gym. Lincoln high school will not have a football feild, so their team will have to go else where anyway -- why can't Ballard and Roosevelt high schools' football go elsewhere too? Why must 1,600 students x 2 face split shifts or year round school for the sake of the soccer and football players? Does OSPI have a graduation requirement that requires certain number of outdoor field-based team sport mandatory participation hours? Yes, our children do play sports, as do we, but we see the priority is to focus first on the academic day and student learning.

Just Saying, it's funny because I don't think that the school sports would trump using those fields - the sharing of outdoor space with the City would. I think that's the hoop to get thru. Maybe we should be writing the City Council.

I agree (having lived abroad) - sports are huge in other countries but not school-based. It takes up way too much time and energy for schools and districts. Allowing kids access to sports (on the notion that it keeps them in school) is still possible with community-based programs.
Anonymous said…
Core facilities at schools - number of bathrooms, lunchroom space, etc. - need to be taken into account when talking about simply adding portables. Just ask the schools that have been over portablized. Portables are not the answer.

Anonymous said…
Thank you StepJ (re spectrum vs gen ed seats). Principal said ask enrollment, enrollment said the principal would know...that tends to make me think that there is not a set number of seats. Who knows!
Lynn said…
My kids do not participate in team sports. I would never suggest that their chosen extra-curricular activities should take precedence over a reasonable schedule and healthy start times for their entire school.

After school athletic activities are not included in the definition of a basic education and are not required by OSPI.

I believe Garfield's College and Career specialist is funded out the school's discretionary dollars. Guess who was hired for this position? The football coach.
Anonymous said…
Garfield's PTSA is not going to fund the career and college counselor position going forward because the football coach was hired for the position.

Anonymous said…
RE: facilities needs... I too would love the Amgen space to be leased by SPS (all, part, sublet whatever) - it's location, convenient to public transport, and the state of the building (not rundown, has labs etc) could be a great opportunity for SPS. Sounds like it's a property in demand and that isn't viable.

I've mentioned it before but what about all the Fort Lawton Army Reserve Base buildings in Discovery Park (http://www.friendsdiscoverypark.org/issues-updates/ft-lawton-brac). It's not central but there are bus stops. The buildings have been vacated relatively recently so not to far gone for retrofitting for a school/s. Lots of open space for play. A huge part to utilize for curriculum. And it's maintained by the city (not sure of technical legal relationship there but could SPS work with the city to utilize it)?

Before we go to split shifts, year round school, or altering sports programs - isn't there space we can use as longer term swing space while new HS is brought online?

I don't know - just throwing it out there. It's a shame that prime property, with functional buildings is sitting vacant when the SPS needs space!

Joe Wolf, are you out there? has anyone at SPS investigated this as a use of space? Also, is the sighting of the poster above indication that there may be movement on the old Magnolia school?

David said…
I remember Joe Wolf posting about this a while back:

Joe Wolf said...
Posting this for the third or fourth time in the past few months. Perhaps it will stick this time (?).

The two ideas below have not been formally vetted with Ops Committee or the Board. They have been discussed with leadership and FACMAC. They are not mutually exclusive.

* Create 1,000 new high school seats in QA/Magnolia by:

- Modernizing and expanding the closed Magnoklia campus, and moving Blaine K-8 there.

- Convert current Blaine campus into a 1,000-seat neighborhood high school.

* Create 1,200 high school seats by expanding Ingraham and Rainier Beach ... the only two extant high schools where any significant expansion is possible. Create seats and appropriate core space to make each school 1,700 seats (about the same size Roosevelt, Garfield and Ballard are now).
8/14/14, 10:34 AM

Perhaps there are different plans now, but the Mag idea has been out there for some time...
Anonymous said…
Seattle's Public school sport programs are nothing compared to what is available in other school districts. The most outlandish I have seen is middle school football in Texas. The stadium looked like a college team stadium with a big screen and everything. Even when we compare Seattle schools to other schools in the area, our sports are not nearly as big a deal nor do our sports programs get as much support as they do at other schools.

Thank you Joe (I know you have been trying).

Obviously what you say has been suggested is just talk because between the closed Magnolia building and revamping Blaine, there's a lot to be done and with what money? BEX V is a long time off.

You could create more seats at RBHS but getting a lot more people to go there might be a heavy lift. It is growing but slowing.

The answer may have to be - for the short-term - finding space to lease in Mag/QA.

HP, I'm not sure it's about how much the district puts - via money/attention - on sports. It's how it affects capacity and academics.

Anonymous said…
I had kids at eckstein when there were more than 20 portables. It was a huge stress on the infrastructure in the building. But frankly, it was preferable to me compared with split shifts or year round school.

I hear that Ingraham teachers eat in their classrooms at least a couple days a week so they can supervise lunchtime clubs. They have a tiny lunchroom and one all-school lunch period. Awfully nice of them to do that.

-been there

Anonymous said…

Regarding the old Magnolia school on 28th and your siting of people on the 2nd floor...I would love it if SPS folks were in there strategizing on future use to mitigate capacity issues. Last spring, there was a SWAT team using the school to practice (I don't even want to think about it). They had vehicles parked in the back of the school on the blacktop and were using the school for drills. Much, much prefer your scenario though - hope you are right!


Anonymous said…
I loved year-round school in CA as a child (elementary). 9 weeks on, 3 off; 9 weeks on, 4 off. It was a shock when I went to middle/high school - couldn't believe how annoying it was to spend a month reviewing everything most everybody forgot over the summer. Used to review for a day or so after each "break" and then moved on.

That said, I fear it's DOA because most of my peer teachers won't like it.

SPS teacher
Lynn said…
I could see it being less annoying further south. Who would be happy to go to school in August and get three weeks off in March in Seattle?
Anonymous said…
@ Charlie
...and teachers are being required to differentiate both instruction, assignments and grading. Just because parents don't like it doesn't mean it doesn't work. The data on HC student performance at cohorted sites vs. cluster arrangements would be very interesting to see.

If you haven't seen the data, how do you know it is working? Differentiation is very, very difficult depending on the range. So telling teachers to do it is solving the problem?

just asking
Unknown said…
One could see the benefits of effective clustering in terms of transport times, neighborhood cohesion, reduced cost, socialization; general unity in the district.

In addition, school is about intellectual pursuit and achievement. Yeah, social stuff as well. But basic ed isn't about transportation, reduced costs or socialization. Hopefully they are side benefits but you sound rather presumptuous and a bit bitter about it all to me.

Also, I wonder what school schedules are like in the midwest which have some of the finest academic scores nationally?

just saying
Anonymous said…
Why did Garfield hire its football coach as its college/career specialist? I don't understand. Can somebody enlighten?

Anonymous said…
The same arguments to do away with sports can be made against art, music, and numerous optional electives that aren't "essentials" to many who don't share others' pet interests and world views. And without football, bye, bye marching bands. WSDWG
Lynn said…
Football requires the use of land we need for classrooms. We don't need to maintain large empty fields in order to offer art and music. (Which are actual classes that will count toward the 24 credit graduation requirement.)

Are you saying there's no point in having a marching band if you can't perform at football games? I'm sure it's a worthwhile activity - but not valuable enough to require other kids to go to school at 6 am or during the summer.
Anonymous said…

I don't know how you can say that when Seattle has a great all-city high school marching band, better than any of the high schools have. It plays at zero football games.

There are also several youth orchestras, drama programs, film-making clubs, reel girlz, school of rock, coyote central and other art programs not to mention all the similar activities that happen at community centers. In fact having a good orchestra or jazz band program available at a community center would make it more accessible to all kids instead of reserved for only those kids who get into Roosevelt or Garfield.

However, music and art do not exacerbate the capacity problems because they are taken for credit during the school day. In fact shoving 100 students into the music room each period helps capacity. Perhaps football could become a PE class.

I am not saying that we should eliminate PE, music & art in schools. I am saying that we don't need to have expensive competitive programs that drive district decision-making to point of sending teens to school at 6am so the football team doesn't have to leave school ground to practice.

In fact many high school athletes play club sports that are not the favored few sports funded by the district. They have to find their own fields & coaches. Even district supported sports like swim team often have to go elsewhere to practice. If we are willing to do that to lacrosse & swim team, why is football a sacred cow?

-been there
Anonymous said…
However, music and art do not exacerbate the capacity problems because they are taken for credit during the school day. In fact shoving 100 students into the music room each period helps capacity.

Very true. Music programs have mitigated capacity issues to some degree. Three or fours classes worth of students can fit into one band room in a given period. @plan ahead should encourage more students to play an instrument.

go arts
Anonymous said…
Like I said, the same arguments hold true against whatever you think is important too. No field that I know of is used exclusively for football. Girls soccer? Boys soccer? Track & field? Physical education? Band? Community leagues? Little leagues?

Shared field space throughout the City is in very short supply throughout our growing communities, and every field I know of is heavily used by people trying to maintain their health and the invaluable lessons learned from sportsmanship.

Frankly, eliminating sports fields for more classrooms to force more common core stupidity into the heads of the masses is about the dumbest idea I've heard all year. I won't list all the applied art and science children learn through engaging in sports, nor will I go through all the cultural values and social abilities we desperately need and find in short supply these days, which sports teach and infuse in children. No, I won't bother, because some people have closed minds about all those brutes who play football.

Okay, then bulldoze all the gyms while we're at it. And seriously, who needs art & music? Kids can learn that elsewhere too. In fact kids can home-school, so why do we even have public schools. For the free day care? Ridiculous. WSDWG
Anonymous said…

Sorry that I offended you. I agree that the city needs more fields. I agree that sports are a valuable thing for kids. My kids play high school sports. It is our thing.

I know that many high school athletes do not practice on school grounds. Some do. It is not currently the responsibility of the district to provide practice grounds for all high school athletes.

I believe that it is not the responsibility of the district to provide practice fields for the city if it interferes with the primary function of the district.

When there is the rising enrollment we currently see at the high schools, we will have to change some things. Someone will not get to continue using space they way they are now. If you think that should be some other group I respect that, as long as replacing that elective with sports will make more space available. That is why making the sport into a PE class would be workable, even desirable if more kids were in the class at once.

I can tell you a group that is already being moved out of high schools due to the capacity issue, which is special ed. So they got picked on first before sports.

Why pick on football? Because crosscountry, tennis & swim team don't need the field. Football gets first pick of the field, if another sport conflicts, they have to go elsewhere for practice.

So what is your preferred solution to the capacity crunch?

Also curious about how after school sports would work with kids coming to school in split shifts or coming different months for year around school?
Anonymous said…
oops above

-been there
Anonymous said…
THERE WILL BE TWO SCHOOLS ON THE THORNTON CREEK SITE. TO SAY THERE IS NOT GOING TO BE 2 SCHOOLS IS A LIE. The district told that lie in order to appease some folks and get this past the powers that be.


I just saw a comment on another blog - let's bookmark it now, so that in a couple of years, we can go back and ask them why they said this!

MARCH 2, 2015 AT 1:28 AM · REPLY
This article contains a significant factual error. There will NOT be two schools on the site. The Thornton Creek program will move into the new facility Fall 2016; that summer the portables on site will be, depending on condition demolished or re-used at other sites. The Decatur School building will be vacant with future use TBD.

Seattle Public Schools

Hummm... so, just to clarify, there will NOT be two buildings on that site. BUT, there will be a future use for that building on that site... like, perhaps, a school? What else could a school building be used for but a school?

I understand the district is out of capacity and therefore needs that capacity, but then, just say so. Don't mislead. It just damages trust and confidence.

Anonymous said…
At Hale, playing football counts as a PE credit if you attend all the practices or most of them. Hales field is shared with the community center and the park around it. There is the football field that is used by the Lake City Braves pee-wee league, boys soccer, girls soccer, adult league soccer, track and field for both Hale and JAMS. Hale also uses a baseball field on the park property for both baseball and softball. The field is also used by the community teams. Same goes with the Tennis Courts and the swimming pool. Hale is very fortunate to have the shared facilities. I don't see the community giving up the space for portables. Perhaps they can put portables in the teacher/staff parking lot as it is the only parking lot that is clearly 'owned' by Hale.

I did wonder one thing though, attached to Hale so that it looks like it is a part of Hale, is the Meadowbrook Teen Center. I have often wondered why that wasn't moved to the community center so that Hale could use that space for more classrooms instead of portables. I don't really know the history of it.

David said…
Regardless of my feelings about portables vs football fields, I believe it will be a cold day in Hades before the district would ever do this.
Anonymous said…
@Anon above: I'm not "offended." It's not personal. It's a fact that if you don't support the rights and privileges of those you don't necessarily agree with, then your time is sure to come as well. What goes around comes around, and American society has spoken loud and clear that sports are a big priority and a way of life for millions. Doesn't mean you or I have to agree with it. What it means is that it's only a matter of time, just like in the 1980's where music and art will no longer be considered "core learning" subjects either. Our economy is in terrible shape in manufacturing because we don't teach kids how to use their hands in shop anymore. Meanwhile the hot new thing is "coding" in school, even though that can be learned at any age in a variety of settings, without going to college or being all that great in math.

Something is always popular while something else isn't. The literati may poo-poo football, but what about girls soccer? Ultimate frisbee? Lacrosse? And every other sport that's sure to pop onto the scene in the next several decades? If we worry about what our kids eat in school, what about the other side of their physical health as well?

We need more buildings and property, and the property is available. The Charter Schools have figured that out already, and are picking up buildings and property for a song, while we cannibalize ourselves.

WSDWG, you are wrong on one point. The BIGGEST issue for charters is finding space and affordable property. This is true in most areas but really for urban ones.

That's why Gates started a property funding group for charters in Washington State.
Anonymous said…
I disagree that team sports impart "invaluable lessons." At least, I believe many of those lessons can be found elsewhere. Organized sports are a distraction and take away valuable academic and personal/unstructured time from kids. The very word "organized" says it all. There was just as great a benefit in the disorganized "pick up" games as practiced by kids in alleys and backyards years ago, when they had more time after school.

Plus, as we discover more and more about the lasting effects of even minor concussions incurred by young players in team sports in our middle and high schools, I think many will find it high time to re-evaluate the role of team sports in our schools.
Anonymous said…
@MW: A charter chain picked up a nice space on a major corner in West Seattle that the district never even sniffed. The private sector knows how to manage property and leverage our tax dollars to fatten their own wallets. Our taxes will pay the lease while Gates or the charter chain realizes all the equity gains. That's how its done by the oligarchs. Point is that properties are available if we were smarter about acquiring them. Instead we'll wind up leasing instead of buying - a much worse deal in the long run for SPS.

@Anonymous - re organized sports - I am sure your bookshelves and mine are very, very different. Sitting at desks all day kills more people than sports, btw, unless you endure the dangers of running or biking in an increasingly dense and dangerous city, or submit to the hamster wheels at a local gym a few times a week. (With earbuds in and not engaging with anyone else, of course.)

Boo-hiss for organized sports! Go ahead. But that's where you'll find the happy & healthy people later in life. To each their own. WSDWG
Anonymous said…

I am quite sure our bookshelves ARE very different, as you say. However, happy & healthy people are too be found everywhere, not necessarily participating in organized sports, or running the hamster wheel at the local gym.

My point was not to undermine physical health and exercise, which is important for everybody, especially young people, but to put in my 2 cents about school sports. Nothing wrong with organized sports per se - just those that take away time that could be better spent doing other things at school, like (ahem) learning, or that drastically affect school start times for everyone else, and with other DRASTIC mental and health consequences, as study after study has pointed out.

As someone else mentioned, people from other countries think we're absolutely nutty to place such an insane importance on school sports at the expense of academics. I for one happen to agree. That's all.


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