Friday Memo of October 14

Another week, another Friday memo.

Dr. Nyland mentioned that the Board met on Yom Kippur and that they shouldn't do that. Or whatever.

Internally, the District has 17 initiatives designed to help eliminate opportunity gaps. 17? Want to know what they are? The staff will report on them at the December 5th Board retreat. Or you could check out the Eliminating Opportunity Gaps web page where you will find 20 (not 17) initiatives.
  1. Continuous School Improvement Plans (CSIP)
  2. Practitioner's Academy
  3. Continued PSAT/SAT access for all
  4. Everyday Matters Attendance Campaign
  5. Expand summer learning access
  6. Moratorium on non-violent suspensions
  7. Principal development 
  8. New employee orientation
  9. Equity and race teams 
  10. On demand 24/7 professional development
  11. Whole child support: RULER, Positive Behavior Intervention Support
  12. Trauma Informed Learning
  13. District-wide professional development focused on relationships
  14. My Brother’s Keeper: Success Mentors Summer Institute
  15. City Partnership and Mayor’s Educational Summit
  16. Labor partners
  17. Listening campaigns and convenings
  18. Family University and Family Connectors
  19. African American Advisory Committee
  20. Professional Development for Education Partners
The Superintendent will make a decision on where to place north-end Highly Capable Cohorts (HCC). Since there are already more HCC students at Cascadia at Lincoln (770) than can fit into their new building (660), the Superintendent will reveal his placement decision prior to Open Enrollment, which begins in mid-February 2017. He has a list of options. Odd that he seems to think that this is his decision.

The new Equity and Race Advisory Committee held their first meeting on Saturday, October 8th.

The Community Engagement Taskforce will meet on October 17 from 6-8 p.m

Michael Tolley wrote about converting Madrona K-8 to a K-5 elementary. There are currently 62 students in grades 6-8 at Madrona - 15 in 6th grade, 25 in 7th grade, and 22 in 8th grade. Madrona will be in the Meany attendance area when Meany re-opens as a middle school. They are considering doing the same with ORCA, returning it to an elementary (K-5).

Mr. Tolley also wrote about north-end elementary HCC placement. While he acknowledges that the decision is up to the Board, the staff will only present one option: Decatur. The staff are also working to narrow the Board's choices on north-end middle school HCC placement.

There's a report from the Capacity Task Force that everyone should take the time to read. Regardless of the content, the report itself is worthy of attention.

Here's the short list of options for north-end elementary HCC, according to the staff. All of the ideas are horrible except one which is only bad, but the staff is leaving the decision to the Board.

There's a paper on the idea of making Cedar Park an option school. Among the reasons not to do it we find this one:
"In order to be assigned to Cedar Park, families would have to apply through the school choice process. The school choice process creates an additional barrier for families particularly high poverty and ELL families. This population of families lives in close proximity to the school but would still have to go through the choice process in order to be granted a seat at the school."
So... option schools are racist. Is that what they're saying?

Here's a good reason:
"Cedar Park’s enrollment is determined by those who apply. If not enough students apply to sufficiently fill classrooms across all grades, the school could be under enrolled resulting in a need for significant mitigation funds and numerous split classes. Given the potential budget deficit, mitigation funds will be extremely limited for 2017-18."
In short, the District isn't confident that they could create an option school so attractive that they could fill it. And, let's face it, not many would change schools in the fifth grade unless they had to, so the only way to get kids into the fifth grade at Cedar Park is by forcing them in there.

There was some additional data about HCC, but it all appeared pretty pointless. The data isn't going to change anyone's mind either way.


Anonymous said…
The memo includes a summary of the survey on adding 20 minutes to the school day. 69% of respondents were parents of elementary students. 59% of respondents favor adding 20 minutes to the end of the school day (see first statistic...). I doubt the response would be the same if the majority of respondents were middle or high school parents.

Anonymous said…
Aren't most elementary students on the first tier? What a surprise- first tier families don'the want to go any earlier than 7:55 am.

Anonymous said…
Quote attributed to Flip Herndon - From the Capacity Task Force doc Charlie linked to:

Disrupting families is a big deal but once they readjust they can be ok.


Anonymous said…
Orca held a community meeting last night, which was attended by Kelly Aramaki. There was overwhelming support in retaining the K-8 school, and Aramaki said it would remain so for the foreseeable future.
Anonymous said…
I wish and hope that instead of denying local option school access to ELL families, the district would put some real muscle power into recruiting families to fill Cedar Park as a STEM option school. To paternalistically say that 'because ELL and families in poverty experience barriers we'll take away the option' is akin to saying that the same families cannot easily afford organic food and so the local store should not be allowed to sell it. All moms and dads want choices and a great education. Please give these families the same choices savvy middle class families demand. I'm in the nearby community. We'll go door to door to help families with forms if we have to. There's clearly demand in the area (hazel wolf wwit list over 400). Cedar Park is not the place for an HCC dedicated site or enrollment preference. The most equitable, capacity-oriented use of the building would be to serve the families already there (with the cap option schools provide). A look at the HCC heat map shows the HCC qualified kids live in Bryant and View Ridge-- blocks from Decatur. If a new HCC site actually needed. Those families would be very welcome to apply in same way as everyone else at what would no doubt be a great, rigorous option school (I have met Dedy Fauntleroy and she seems amazing, hope she'd keep it).

CP Hopeful
Anonymous said…
Of course the majority of elementary schools want to add 20 minutes to the end of the day because the majority of elementary schools are Tier 1. We are at a Tier 3 elementary. It feels like we're just getting screwed again and again. Is there no recourse? Does anyone know anyone on the team making the decision?
Just sayin said…
Capacity Task Force off to a good start-- nice to see that they are considering all students as a part of the school community (ELL, SpEd, Preschool, HCC, etc) as well as valuing how our schools and their spaces need to reflect the needs of our children (art, playground, before and after care).
Anonymous said…
I'm with "Sucks." We also attend a Tier 3 elementary school, and I completed the survey, basically begging SPS to not add more time to the end of our school day, which already ends at 3:45, more than an hour earlier than most elementary schools. As it is, our kids can barely make it to activities that begin at 4:00, and that means eating a snack and changing clothes en route. And we miss out on many community activities that start earlier. It's crazy. The survey responses need to be viewed in the context of the current schedule at the responder's school. The results can't be all lumped together in summary fashion. It's infuriating.

Anonymous said…
Why isn't integrating schools a goal?

Nw mom
Anonymous said…
The Friday memo says they are finally analyzing enrollment and capacity data re: north end middle school HCC pathways. Better late than never, I suppose, but hopefully they will have some preliminary data to feed to those working on amendments to the BAR re: growth boundaries. It makes no sense to revise middle school boundaries for the NW region in the absence of information on where HCC students will be. None. Maybe some of the Directors will demand this info in advance so they can at least have preliminary data to use in crafting amendments and making decisions.

Of note, the memo also says they are sharing this middle school pathway information with Cascadia leadership, and the results of the analysis and initial recommendations will be shared with "impacted families." After that, a final recommendations will go into the Student Assignment Plan for School Board review and approval. The SAP is supposed to go to the Ops Ctte on 11/17 before being introduced at the 12/7 board meeting. Additional community meetings will supposedly be held in that window.

How are they determining "impacted families"? The way it's all worded, it seems the district sees this as Cascadia families and will be doing its initial outreach on the analysis and recommendations only to them, with the wider community only involved after the final recommendation has been determined. A significant number of students join HCC in 6th grade, however, and the priorities and needs of these families may be very different from those who choose HCC for elementary grades. Why is there no engagement of the wider HCC community in the early stages? This does not seem very equitable.

Anonymous said…
Disappointed- What!? Only elementary level students?? Write the district & board. They keep leaving out the HCC community and outreach needs to be all HCC families and middle school HCC leadership. This is not o.k.
"Why is there no engagement of the wider HCC community in the early stages? This does not seem very equitable."

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