Friday Open Thread

Check my "Dude, Seriously?" thread for updates on McCleary.  I find it astonishing that legislators think somehow it would reflect worse on the Court to promise to shut down schools if McCleary isn't fulfilled by the start of school year 2017-2018 than the legislature.  And, that the action would be so distasteful to the legislature that they would actually entertain the idea of NOT getting the work done so as to make it look like it's the Court's fault.

The fault lies entirely on the seemingly touchy shoulders of the legislature.

Loyal Heights Elementary is having a rally this morning to protest what they are calling a "mega-school" building that the district wants to construct at their site.   Initially, the building was to be enlarged to about 650 students (they currently have over 400 for a building that holds about 330.)  But the plans seem to indicate a much larger building at 825.

How to fill a building that size? Expand the boundaries by a lot but that would seems to indicate they'd have to bus in a lot of kids to fill a building that size. 

Oddly, both Loyal Heights and nearby Whitter have seen a decline.  The district is taking back the Webster building (from the Nordic Heritage Museum) but they told me yesterday that they aren't sure what they will do with it.  (I keep hearing rumors it might be "a regional pre-k center. Why the district would take back a building for that reason is hard to fathom.)

I have warned and warned about this but once again, the state is encouraging families and businesses to be prepared for a big earthquake.  Do you have shoes under all the beds in your house (you'll need them if you are sleeping and there is broken glass in your house.  What's your family meet-up plan, either in the house or if you are in different places? 

The state is saying - again, as I have said previously - they are not going to be able to help much for 3-7 days except for dire circumstances.  Lesson from Katrina that we all saw - the government is NOT coming.  On Oct. 20, 2016, the state will have the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills.  Good info here at their website.  Consider it a summer project that may pay off big for your family.

Thought-provoking article from Slate on a neighborhood school in Portland and gentrification in its neighborhood.

A sad stat for Washington state public education - 2nd highest in the nation for chronic absenteeism.  From the Washington Post:
The problem of students habitually missing school varies widely from state to state, with about one-third of students in the nation’s capital absent 15 days or more in a single school year, according to an Associated Press analysis of government statistics.
According to AP’s analysis, girls were just as likely as boys to habitually miss school. Nearly 22 percent of all American Indian students were reported as regularly absent, followed by Native Hawaiians at 21 percent and black students at 17 percent. Hispanic and white students were close to the national average of 13 percent.
I'll have to ask the district what the rate is in Seattle.

Two director community meetings on Saturday:
Director Peters from 11 am-12:45 pm at the Queen Anne Library
Director Harris from 3:00-4:30 pm at the High Point Library

What's on your mind?


Eric B said…
The new Loyal Heights building is not being built for 825-900 students. It is being built for ~650 (4 classes/grade) under current and expected class size requirements plus some in preschool. The very large number comes from multiplying the current class sizes by the number of classrooms. On a side note, one of the arguments form the LH protesters is that since the District isn't starting new construction until January, there's still plenty of time to design and permit a 450-seat elementary. That's extraordinarily optimistic at best.

The Webster building is coming back to SPS because its current tenant (Nordic Heritage Museum) is moving out to their own building in the nearish future. It's not far from Adams Elementary which had to cover most of their play area with portables in the recent past. Webster is pretty small and its playground was sold to the city for a park a while back, so it's a challenging building to turn back into a school.
Anonymous said…
The chronic absenteeism rates for all districts can be found for years 2013-2015 at For the 2015 school year, the rate was 11.47%. Different subgroups have much higher rates. Particularly, students who identify as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander have a rate of 33%, American Indian/Alaska Native 30%, Migrant 26%, and 504 at 20%. The state average is 16%, with some smaller districts topping out around 36%. Yakima and Tacoma have the highest "large district" rates of 24% and 23%, respectively.

Anonymous said…
The above comment references Seattle's chronic absenteeism rate of 11.47% for 2015.

Michael Rice said…
Here is an article from the NTY Magazine on choosing a school for your daughter. Lengthy, but well worth it.
Anonymous said…
Why oh why would you suggest downsizing LH when space is desperately needed?

Charlie Mas said…
I was checking the district web site today, hoping for an agenda for the C & I committee meeting scheduled for Monday the 13th, when I re-read the minutes of the C & I committee meeting from April 4. While discussing the quarterly program placement report, the staff mentioned that Whittier and Lafayette will discontinue self-contained Spectrum. The Spectrum students will be served, supposedly, in general education classrooms. The Board Directors asked a number of questions about that and did not get very satisfactory answers. In short, Spectrum is dead and will be replaced with MTSS, if, you know, MTSS is ever implemented.

As I looked into it further, I read the Advanced Learning policy and the Advanced Learning procedure. The policy requires the superintendent to describe Spectrum in the procedure, but the procedure does not, in fact, describe it.

Really that's what is needed. That is what the Board Directors were asking for and not getting: a clearly articulated and enforceable description of Spectrum.

Let's have it.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Taxpayer, why or why didn't you read what was written? No one is suggesting downsizing any building. But building a very large building in an area where the schools are not growing rapidly may not be the best idea. The fact that there is are no firm commitments to the use of the Webster building should tell you that. If they needed the room so much, why squeeze it all into one building (that will end up costing more in transportation costs?)

Anonymous, next time, please read our comment rules and give yourself a name.

"Michael-- Good article, but it lacks historical context. I feel the article is biased in assumptions and should focus more on income disparities between schools, a commonality shared within many ethnic peoples rather than race. My parents came from extremely poor backgrounds, one from S Bronx, other from a low income area of Brooklyn. During the time my grandparents arrived in the US completely illiterate (without any schooling at all) from Sicily they were not considered white either. Our family is one generation from poverty. I personally can relate to the authors of the article socioeconomically. We are also now considered "white" in the US, my grandparents were not at the time they arrived. Although our skin is actually darker than many Latino people I know due to the diverse DNA ( Greek/Italian, N African, Middle Eastern, Iberian) in our heritage. I am the first in the family to go to college. One cannot determine the "diversity" of "white" people and assume all share a common heritage. This article is flawed in that regard."

Anonymous said…
I live in Loyal Heights and note that a lot of young people (from Amazon and their ilk) have moved here and are starting or growing families. It's hard to imagine SPS actually planning ahead, expanding a school's capacity to accommodate a growing student population down the line. But who knows anything's possible.

Also, if the district is acquiring/reacquiring additional space in the NW (e.g., the Nordic Heritage Museum) I hope they consider using it for the HCC overflow from Cascadia rather than co-opt school property from General and Special Ed students in Lake City/Cedar Park/Olympic Hills for said overflow.

Loyal Heightsite
Anonymous said…
Charlie ...

Whittier's principal describes Spectrum as 'students receiving instruction one grade level ahead of their assigned grade in reading, writing, math. She has stated that reading comes naturally to Spectrum students, differentiation will cover writing, and the Spectrum enrolled students will walk to the same classroom for math. The other students get to walk to other classrooms and learn grade level math ... regardless of their capabilities.

N by Northwest
Anonymous said…
Melissa ...

Could you clarify this comment ? "Oddly, both Loyal Heights and nearby Whitter have seen a decline". Whittier's enrollment has declined or will decline when the renovated Loyal Heights building opens?


N by Northwest
Eric B said…
I believe a project to re-open Webster is on the BEX IV levy, but I could be wrong. That at least implied a planned use as an attendance area elementary, but it was pretty expensive and a landmarked building.
Anonymous said…
Well, as someone who also lives in greater Loyal Heights, I can say there are certainly lots more little kids on our block than there were 10 years ago when we moved in. Also, as part of the city's infamous HALA housing discussions, parts of Loyal Heights (closest to 85th) are included in a proposed Upzone as part of the "Crown Hill Urban Village" - which means single family housing could be replaced with multi-family and/or backyard cottages etc, etc etc.

So that drop in enrollment could be a temporary one - but, then I also agree that it's rather unusual for SPS to actually be planning ahead...hmmm...;o)

Lynn said…
I think the Loyal Heights situation is more a case of building more capacity wherever it's possible. Attendance area boundaries can be redrawn later.
From the BEX webpage:

"The recently land marked Loyal Heights Elementary building is 38,000 square feet and was built in 1932. It will be modernized and a 54,000-square-foot addition will be built to increase capacity to 660 seats."

It says construction is to begin this fall but I'm not sure that's still true.

N by Northwest, I will double-check but neither Loyal Heights nor Whittier's enrollment is going up that fast. LH parents report their enrollment down 9%.

While true that more people are moving to that area, that the district is unclear what it will do with Webster is odd.

I think that the Loyal Heights community just wonders exactly what they are getting and why. At what point is a "neighborhood" school a neighborhood school? It's a fair question.

Liza Rankin said…
Shoes under the beds! I never would have thought of that, Melissa!
Anonymous said…
This was a gross question:

- profiling much
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Crowded Adams Mom said…
Adams Elementary has 540 students in a school building that is smaller than the current LHE. This includes several portables on our very small playground (I believe smaller per student than playground in the proposed LHE expansion plan). We are projected to grow by another 90 students in the next few years, so while LHE enrollment may be decreasing, neighboring Adams is increasing greatly with no room to grow. I'm guessing SPS will need to move the LHE boundary further south to accommodate this growth at Adams.
Anonymous said…
Since we've been at Whittier, the school has seemed to be around 460-470 students.

The building is packed out and my children's class sizes have been on the larger size. Student 1: 30 students in her class 1st - 5th. Student 2: classes have been 25 - 29 students. Next year, the school is having to convert one of its WK pre-school classes into a K-classroom.

The school is built for the 3 up model but has had 4 K classes and 4 1st grade classes for the last few years. When the LH remodel is finished, part of the northern attendance area (above 85th) is re-drawn to LH and the school should be able to return to the 3 up model with smaller class sizes.

Of course ... it doesn't make ANY sense for the kids above 85th to be bussed to LH ... which makes me wonder why North Beach wasn't the NW school to be remodeled???

Loyal Heights enrollment down ... I know some families who enrolled in other schools to avoid the relocation to John Marshall.

N by Northwest

Jet City mom said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, some of your questions about Spectrum may be answered in the revised AL policy:

ALO and Spectrum students are typically served in General Education classrooms through flexible grouping, acceleration, and/or interventions through the MTSS model. The words "differentiated instructional practices" were added and the words "more advanced work" were crossed out.

(thanks to Lynn for posting elsewhere)

Another change - Eligibility will be based on district administered achievement tests, but the AL office will no longer administer achievement tests. Appeals will still consider private testing results. Less testing by AL, but possibly more appeals??

Anonymous said…
Looks like an alert and quick-thinking student averted a bloodbath at a local high school.

Thank-you student and police.

No district testing for AL? Yes, I think more appeals.
Anonymous said…
To be clear, district testing will be used for AL eligibility. The AL office will continue the CogAT testing, but according to the revised policy, the achievement portion will no longer be conducted by AL (you can't opt out of SBAC and expect the AL office to administer another test). The eligibility will be based on district administered achievement testing, meaning SBAC and ?. The policy doesn't specify what achievement tests will be used.

mirmac1 said…
Good article in the NY Times on school choice:
Charlie Mas said…
THe revised superintendent procedure for Advanced Learning is no good because it does not provide an enforceable definition of any of the programs.
Anonymous said…
I also question the inclusion of a large preschool in the new Loyal Heights Elementary Design. Will it be used by the City of Seattle Preschool program? Nobody is saying but I suspect so. Voters approved the BEX IV levy before the City Preschool program even existed. Why then are our K-12 capital dollars being used to build preschools?

Removing the Preschool from the new Loyal Heights design would free up playground space on the site. And there are plenty of preschools in the north end including at the City Owned Community Center in Loyal Heights.

Furthermore there was just a big article from Tim Burgess about how all the south end schools need preshools because the school quality is sorely lacking. Why not put the large preschool on one of those school sites? And why isn't the money to build the new preschool being paid for out of the City Preschool Program dollars?

Nw Mom
NW Mom, most of the BEX projects in elementary schools do include a pre-K. (I checked that a long time ago.) That said, I have to wonder how the City gets this space for free when the district is paying for it.

And again, you have to ask - as NW Mom is - why the City is so determined to be in SPS buildings when there are many other spaces available.
seattle citizen said…
Article in today's NYT mag on segregation in NYC schools. Relevant to gentrifying Seattle...Including, if course, the 2007 SCOTUS decision and its implications for Ballard HS and schools across the nation...
Choosing a School for my Daughter
Watching said…
"NW Mom, most of the BEX projects in elementary schools do include a pre-K"

It appears there isn't much one can do regarding a voter approved initiative. The federal government and Gates, LEV etc. have been working on including prek into our K-12 education system. LEV has been pushing free community college. We've also seen some legislators push for free community college. I suspect we'll see an income tax initiative, and backers will use prek and free community college to help sell initiative.

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