Operations Committee Meeting Today

I cannot attend the Operations Committee meeting today but wanted to alert you to a couple of things that appear on the Agenda.

  • transfer of $3M into budget for Seattle World School@ TT Minor from BEX IV "program contingency fund."  I do find this puzzling because it's unclear to me why they need this much money.  
  • Genesee Hill also will have a cost overrun as there is a change order item on the agenda
  • a resolution for a "moratorim on elementary out-of-school suspensions. 
  • BEX IV planning update.  This should be interesting as Dr. Herndon has to explain how the possible movement of $35M from BEX to the General Fund as a "loan" may affect the program.  (The first thing would be loss of any kind of interest for one thing.)  
  • Bell Times update by Pegi McEvoy
  • Sibling tiebreaker "discussion" - this from Director Peaslee.  I have no idea what this is about.
None of these topics have a live link so I cannot glean any further information.


Anonymous said…
The agenda for this meeting shows Dr. Herndon's update as a BTA IV Planning update, so you likely won't hear about that budget transfer.

South county mom
Eric B said…
A change order doesn't necessarily mean that the project is over budget. Typically on large construction projects like this, you'll have an overall project budget. This is the number that they listed on the BEX levy plan, although it is possible that those change if major requirements change. In other words, adding a million dollars because the architect is designing something fancy might be considered over budget, but adding a million to fit in an extra 100 students probably wouldn't be.

Once the project goes to construction, the total budget is the contractor's bid, the district's management costs, plus a contingency for change orders. That contingency might be large or small depending on how close the contractor's bid is to the overall project budget. The contingency is intended to cover the inevitable change orders in construction. As long as they don't use up the whole contingency, the project is on budget and you get an underspend that you can use elsewhere.

You need a contingency fund because it is not possible to build a major project without change orders. As the man in black said, anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something.
Anonymous said…
Awesome news. Suspension moratorium for elementary. Should be for all kids.

Sped Reader
Carol Simmons said…
Dear Sped Reader,

You are correct. A moratorium on suspensions should apply to all students. At the Board meeting last night Director Peaslee questioned why every year they talked about suspensions and then continued to suspend students. Dr. McFadden gave a weak (in my opinion) reason why suspensions were necessary. Director McClaren read a letter that Dr. Nyland had written to the Equity/Race/Discipline Committee that once again stated the rationale was "printing timelines." This was the rationale used in previous years. It seems as if this timeline constraint excuse/rationale could have been fixed by now. What is more unbelievable is that the entire Board voted to adopt the R and R that included suspensions as sanctions. No wonder there is vocal frustration expressed by community members.
Anonymous said…
Moratorium on all suspensions? What about if the child is violent toward other children and won't stop?
When my daughter was in 2nd grade - with an amazing veteran teacher - a boy who had been expelled from another school was put in her class. He proceeded to cause havoc, while his parents claimed he was never at fault. (He was a smart boy, not SPED) He repeatedly pinched and hurt other kids, he once defecated on another child's lunchbox, once after being in the principal's office he sprayed pee all over the staff bathroom, he refused basic safety instructions on the school bus forcing the bus driver to take him back to school and my daughter to be stuck on the bus an extra hour, etc. etc. As a second grader, he owned a copy of Grand Theft Auto, which helps explain his parenting and some of his behavior. He was suspended from the lunchroom, from recess, as well as other times.

These are real situations at real schools. What do you suggest doing in these cases?

What about secondary students caught dealing drugs on campus? Or sexually assaulting classmates?

GarfieldMom said…
Whoa, Momof2, you want to rethink what you said here?

"He was a smart boy, not SPED"

Anonymous said…
I'm sorry if I said it wrong. What I meant was that there are some kids who clearly have trouble controlling themselves due to underlying biological problems and who have been diagnosed to need extra supports. He was not one of those.

I don't mean to imply that all SPED kids have a problem like this, either.

Another example to explain what I said: at the same school there was an elementary boy in the SPED class that I observed randomly hurting another child and then trying to injure the teacher who restrained him from further outbursts. Although I was quite worried about my petite daughter's safety around a large boy like him, I would see his misbehavior much differently than my daughter's classmate.


Anonymous said…
(He was a smart boy, not SPED)

Regardless, kicking students out of school is not helping anyone. Students need to be supported in the proper environment. There needs to be exceptions of course for extreme situations. We want everyone to feel safe and be safe at out buildings while still meeting our legal and moral obligations to educate students.

Lowell parent said…
When a child is a danger or a problem for other kids, then you are helping the other kids that have to endure or be harassed by 5 he child. Too often parents do not want to see that they have an awful kid and it is not the place of school to be a parent.
It is fine to suspend some kids that do not want to change their behavior.
mirmac1 said…
I appreciate that Momof2. Research supports that SpEd students are disproportionately disciplined - more than African-American males. It is also well-documented that SpEd students are victims of violence and bullying far more than any other class. Often SpEd students are disciplined for trying to defend themselves, as was the case with my 2nd grade daughter. It goes both ways.
Anonymous said…
Sheesh mom of 2 - did you ever stop to think about your expectations of building administrators and staff? They sound pretty low. Whereas, there is ample training and professional development to manage all kinds of behaviors. Why was your school so unprepared and so lax in allowing these things to go on? As if "oh we don't know what to do poor us." Meanwhile that child struggled and was allowed to fail, upsetting everybody else along the way. Shame on your school administrators. They sound like total dopes to me.

Anonymous said…
Mom of 2-

It sounds like the boy from your daughter's class was in need of specialized services by way of a special Ed category and then an IEP. I hope he wasn't just repeatedly suspended or passed on to other schools without getting the help he seems to have needed. I do get your concerns and the effect such behaviors have on other students. How traumatic to have ones lunch pail pooped on!

Sped Staffer
Anonymous said…
Lowell parent -- It is a false dichotomy to suggest that the only options are to either (a) to have a child with violence issues in a regular classroom,with no other supports and a teacher with 25 to 30 other kids, or (b) to suspend him or her if the child does not "want to change their behavior."

Classes that work with kids with behavioral issues, schools that work with kids with these issues, therapy -- either group or single. When my oldest was at GHS, one girl came to class every day with her own personal security guard -- who evidently accompanied her everywhere. But she WAS in school.
In this case, while sending that child home helps (temporarily) keep the other kids in the class safe, and has that feel-good, good riddance aspect to it, it does not solve or begin in any way to help a child who is seriously in need of help (who is instead "rewarded" for his or her behavior by getting to stay home and play Grand Theft Auto all day), is back in an environment that may or may not be the cause of, or a contributing factor to, the behavior, and leaves the child further behind in school -- so that next year he/she is placed in a class with even younger kids -- or is socially promoted and even angrier and more isolated as the education gap grows.

We shouldn't ignore ANY person with problems this severe. But we certainly shouldn't ignore a CHILD.

Anonymous said…
But isn't Momof2 making all of this up? Pooping on a classmate's lunchbox? In my experience, principals and staff in SPS are ready and willing to call the police if a child so much as sneezes. Calling mom is an everyday sanctioned practice in our schools. It's just not believable at all, what momof2 is saying. She's having us all on.

Another skeptic
Anonymous said…
Hear, hear Jan. Thank you for your eloquence. Sending kids home does not help them improve classroom behavior. There are better ways to help students in school, if we take responsibility to implement interventions.

-HS Parent
mirmac1 said…
BS. her experience is real. It is how we hold SPS to its duties to protect children from while educating all children in an appropriate manner. Period.
mirmac1 said…
I left out "the critical issue is holding SPS to its duty.
cmj said…
If a child really needs to be removed from class because they're being disruptive, in-school suspensions are a good alternative to out-of-school suspensions.

Out-of-school suspensions are not very good because the suspended child
- regards it as a vacation
- probably isn't being supervised because the all of the adults in the home are likely at work
- isn't getting classroom assignments and has to make those up when the suspension is over.
Anonymous said…
"It is how we hold SPS to its duties to protect children from while educating all children in an appropriate manner. Period."

Mirmac, exactly my point: MomOf2 needs to hold her school officials accountable instead of ragging on kids who are different.

n said…
Students need to be supported in the proper environment.

And just what environment would that be? A lot of wonderful ideas here to accommodate each and every child whether realistic or not. Well, who is going to pay for it all? I understood mom of 2 to indicate that the problem student wasn't an IEP student but just very troubled I guess. So, this behavior doesn't warrant an IEP or special classroom? I don't know. But I do know that schools cannot meet every single need. While it is wonderful to quote Jan's take on educating every child (wish we could), the fact is few children really get educated when somebody like that child is in the classroom.

So shall we double the levy (if legal) or demand that parents attend school with their kids of the kids cannot be managed or put counselors full time in every school not to counsel but to manage behaviors? Got the money for all that? And don't come back with another pie-in-the-sky response or tell me that I can't be a good teacher if I believe I cannot do everything for every child. Yes, we need way more support generally in our communities whether it be hospitals or specialized schools for such children. But public schools right now cannot do it all. If you all want your child in the classroom with the student who poops on kids' lunchboxes, just sign up. I'm one teacher that would be glad to send the parent of that child your way.

And I am for much more money to increase our social supports not only in schools but in communities as well. I think we could find some of it in administration. But it isn't happening so we have to settle for less wonderful remedies. Suspension may be one of those unfortunate choices.

mirmac1 said…
Disruption worthy of exclusion and suspension in your eyes is "just a rambunctious smart boy " to someone else. n, the district seems to offer an array of options in some schools and neighborhoods. And we know they're supposed to offer a continuum of placements in all. To "wish we could" educate every child but oh well smacks of the Chinese system of picking only the quiet, compliant kids to educate.

"Smart boy" may have experienced dreadful trauma in his life. I don't care if he doesn't have a neat diagnostic label, he has as many special needs as a child with a physical disability. Part of me wonders if he is African American. Kids are smart; if a child figures everyone expects him to be a failure then well then I might act up to.
Anonymous said…
Interesting comments - some more helpful than others.

Yes, the 2nd grade boy was African American, had been expelled from another SPS school at the beginning of 2nd grade and was sent to our school. My daughter's -and his - teacher was an amazing veteran African American teacher, who was so good that many parents begged her not to retire until their younger child could have her as their 2nd grade teacher.

A big part of "Johnny's" problem was his mom's insistence that he could do no wrong, regardless of the evidence. We heard that she claimed that school staff were being racist when he got into trouble. I imagine that those claims would hinder school staff from doing interventions that could have helped him. Of course, letting a 2nd grader play an M-rated video game glorifying crime is terrible as well.

The teacher tried everything she could to help him change, but it didn't work. It was painful for her to see how he caused so much trouble to other kids, and ultimately for himself as well.

I've told this story to get beyond the pie-in-the-sky "we should never suspend any student" statements. Suspending kids is not the answer, but sometimes it's the least-bad solution to allow other kids to get an education. And it might be needed to get the parents' attention as well.


mirmac1 said…
By all means, suspend the parent : help the child.
Anonymous said…
N, we absolutely have the money to implement a "no suspension" policy. And Momof2, absolutely, students may need to be removed from classrooms, the question is where?

The real question should be, Does suspension really work to improve behavior?

I believe the answer is, sometimes. Suspension works, when applied rarely, for very privileged students whose families can be rallied into action... and whose families can change course when their student faces a behavior challenge. But, public school isn't just for privileged students or those with highly capable parents. Public schools also can not be trusted to have suspension as an option because they abuse that punishment availability to cherry pick students that they prefer to educate. In-school suspension with an administrator, or Saturday school with paid staff, are fine alternatives. Schools can never be allowed to have policies that exploit various protected classes, to save money. Suspension is a money saving policy. Remove the cost savings of suspension, but retain the possible benefits by keeping students at the school.

Another Sped Staffer
Charlie Mas said…
Out-of-school suspension is on the chopping block, not in-school suspension. Even if the change is approved, schools will still be able to remove children from classrooms, they just won't be able to remove them from school.
Stop coddling said…
Another Sped staffer,
Money is not unlimited and we cannot just through more money at a problem and hope that it will solve the problem of an out of control child.It is the responsibility of the parents to deal with their children not schools.
It is not the place of schools to make up for bad parenting.
Does suspension work for the individual child in question, maybe maybe not. But it does work for the other children that have to endure a bully or violent behavior.
Anonymous said…
Stop coddling, you have VERY low expectations of building staff, who should be trained to assist kids who are acting out in the manner that Momof2 purports to have witnessed. The fact of the matter is, they have the training but they don't have the accountability for applying it in a given situation. It's distressing, reading this thread, how much building staff get a free pass to not do their jobs and to turn around and accuse the parent. Student failure is instructional failure. Deal with it.

Anonymous said…
Yeah, Stop-Cod, Money IS pretty much unlimited. Look at SPED central staff - there's more than 100 central staffers, up from 20 a year ago. Every day we've got a new administrator, director, junior director... heck, in SPED, we've got 3 directors now. One is "director of school-based services". What other kind of services are there? Hey, it's a school district, and it's full of schools. It's ALL school-based, that's what we do. Regular ed, same thing. Executive directors seem to grow on trees. Just a few years ago, this was a new job title. Now, "executive director", it's a whole hierarchy. And, do you like IB? Well, that's another director in every building. And testing? Well, testing coordination at every high school - to make sure SBAC is going a-ok... we've got plenty of money for all that. We are rich! Since we've hired all those people - it's not too much to ask that SOME of them actually look after and instruct actual students, having actual challenges, on material (behavior) that we actually all need students to learn - regardless of the parenting skills their parents.

This thread does not "distress" me. I know that when schools actually have to deal with the problems that students bring to the table - they can do it. Sending students home means they can avoid the problem, and it puts that problem in somebody else's lap. I agree that sometimes students have to be excluded from a given situation due to behavior. That much is part of special education law - for students with disabilities. But that means that instruction that works, should be determined on an individual basis for students with behavioral challenges. Keeping it in the school means that the thing motivating the instruction (or the consequence) is the needs of the student alone.

Another Sped Staffer

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