To the biggest news - did you hear about the University of Missouri president who resigned under protest from students about lack of sensitivity/action on racism issues? How did that happen? Big, steady, continuing pressure.
And so it goes for the Student Assignment plan. Staff has rolled back what they are doing in a major way AND the Board is pretty clear that this is what they want.
I cannot tell you how the support of the Seattle Council PTSA has mattered in this case. I am so proud of that group and their graceful (and seemingly fearless) leader, Cassandra Johnston. I truly believe that their support on this issue for transparency and clarity on this issue - along with many of you - have carried the day.
What was said at the COW tonight:
- the SAP is not changing except for the waitlist dissolves May 31st instead of in September. Open Enrollment is two weeks in Feb-March and so there is time for waitlists to form and students to be assigned.
- use of the distance tiebreaker will end.
The directors did not ask but I did ask Dr. Herdon:
1) What about the change from K-8s being able to have their assignment to their region middle school if they want to change schools to having to stay at their K-8? He said what was in the original SAP is what will happen. So no, you do not lose your ability to change to your assignment middle school if you are in a K-8.
2) I also asked about this in the BAR. "Seats that become available after May 31st will be available for assignments for new students." This sentence didn't explain what "new" meant and yes, it means students new to the district. So any open seats - at any school - after the waitlist dissolves can only be accessed by students new to the district.
So what about the community meetings this week and next? I don't think they are as vital as when they were first announced. BUT, do I always take at face value what staff says? Based on experience, I do not.
What I would recommend, after reading this thread is:
- either e-mailing the Board - this time at the e-mail address that includes all senior management which is email@example.com - and saying, "This is what I understand is happening regarding the SAP. I hope that the "clean-up" language does not include any surprises and hope that any future changes to the SAP come to parents in a more timely, inclusive, and transparent manner."
- attend one of the meetings, make sure that what was said to the Board is what you hear and let the staff know - "This is what I understand is happening regarding the SAP. I hope that the "clean-up" language does not include any surprises and hope that any future changes to the SAP come to parents in a more timely, inclusive, and transparent manner."
The Board Sets the Tone
What staff seemed to get wrong - and this from multiple Board members - is to have taken the 2013-2104 Transition Plan as their starting document for the changes (when it was only for a one-year transition and not the SAP.)
But now they will take the couple of true changes (noted above) and some "clean-up" language to the official 2009 Board-approved SAP. Complete with program language and pathways.
Staff said (and I mostly believe them) that they were just trying to streamline the SAP.
But the Board said there should be ONE document with everything in it. Certainly, there could be links to programs but that any link should be ONE link to a webpage with all the programs like ELL, Sped, Advanced Learning, etc.
Naturally, program placement is under the Superintendent and things can change from year to year but, as President Carr said, parents should not have to do the work to figure this out - staff should bear the burden to make any updates on programs to document.
Both Dr Herndon and Ms. Davies said that any changes to the SAP would be part of a larger conversation with the community.
Please note: There could STILL be program changes which could affect the SAP - that's a separate matter. But anything that changes in a program that affects the SAP must be updated for parents to see in the SAP.
Questions/Comments from the Board
Director Peaslee - Issues around waitlist because of the number of seats that open up at Options schools during the summer and those schools losing staff if seats not filled?
Dr. Herndon - We can always look at that but the seats are "minimal" and that there is less and less movement of waitlists. (Editor's note: I have heard from parents that both schools and parents wish the waitlists WOULD move but Enrollment won't do it. So this may still be a sticking point.)
President Carr was pretty clear about the creation of the SAP, starting back in 2006 before she was even a director. she said "I think the framework was rock solid and that this document was to stay the course."
Ashley Davies (director of Enrollment) - thanked the Baord for the history, calling it "helpful." (I'm a bit surprised she didn't already know this.) She said that the 2009 SAP had a lot of "descriptive info" which is true but it also definitely laid everything out there.
Dr. Herndon "I hear what people are saying." Our idea is that families have one document that is clear and with "all the information they need and options for schools and programs available to them."
He also said that an earlier waitlist would clear up enrollment around Advanced Learning as parents sometimes hold two places until they know if their child is accepted into the program.
Herdon also noted that appropriate Board policies to enrollment would be part of the document.
Director Peters gently pointed out that it was fine to condense and streamline the document but that it was important to get information out for oversight and accountability.
Director Martin-Morris stubbornly said that this had come to Operations and they had no real "heartburn" then. (They also didn't have the red-line version.)
Director Patu said yes, she remembered that but then, when they finally got a red-lined version, "I got panicky."
Peters also asked about getting the red-lined version (which Ms. Davies said she was working on.) The answer was before Friday.
The directors were also pretty clear that the SAP is part of their oversight and Ms. Davies agreed that a document can't transfer authority from the Board to the Superintendent. That is policy. (Now, oddly, the red-lined SAP HAD been called a "policy" document last week but I guess that was then.)