Sunday, October 30, 2016

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, November 1st
Board Work Session from 4:30-6:30 pm at JSCEE.  Agenda

There is one topic  - Annual Evaluation of 2015-2016 Board Governance Priorities and Superintendent SMART Goals, Part 2.

This particular topic has - no kidding - 164 pages for the Board to review.   Most of it is around Cedar Park and its enrollment.  I do not understand sticking this topic in with SMART Goals.

Then there will be an Executive Session to "Evaluate the performance of a public employee" (likely the Superintendent as it is time for his annual evaluation.)

I am hoping that the Board will soon take control of their own Work Sessions and not allow staff to eat up time with endless reviews and/or documentation delivered before whatever the topic at hand gets actual discussion.

Wednesday, November 2nd 
School Board meeting, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda

My early prediction?  It's going to be a mighty long night with:
- Superintendent and Board comments (which I wish were on a timer because I don't think there is a realization about how long these people talk)
- Public testimony - given the intensity of feeling around the growth boundaries, I would think the speaker list would probably be at least 30 people.

Clearly the biggest item in the agenda is the 2017-2018 Growth Boundaries.  There are 10 amendments from every single director except for Director Blanford.

It is near impossible to predict the ripple effects of any given change.  There has been no real way for the Board or the public to see a big overlay of what would be happening where and yet that ability to map exists.

I wish the Board would vote in Director Harris' amendment to postpone.  Here's what Harris' amendment says (partial and bold mine):
I move that the School Board postpone consideration of the 2017-2018 Implementation Amendments to the 2013-2020 Growth Boundaries Plan until such time as staff can bring this Board Action Report to the Board concurrently with:
1. A proposed 2017-2018 Student Assignment Plan ready for Board final action, which includes Middle School Pathways (to be heard concurrently);
2. An updated review and report regarding the boundaries and use for Lincoln High School; and

3. The demographic and Free and Reduced Lunch/socio-economic status and disaggregated data regarding racial balance or imbalance for each proposed change.
I recognize that this is a significant delay to that action requested by our hard-working staff; however, it is problematic to move 800 children from their current assignments without having an understanding of the consequences of these many proposed moves and without understanding the strategy or systemic planning of the Student Assignment Plan that absolutely affects the purpose of the schools (e.g. assignment of the Highly Capable Cohort at Cascadia, currently housed at the interim Lincoln site, and the potential for opening an additional option/alternative school).
I also wish that the Board could, as Director Geary asked last Board meeting, be able to vote on boundary items with no real controversy.  That way staff could move forward with those changes.

I would predict that the Action portion of the Board meeting would not be done until at least
7:30 pm.  Maybe they can switch the order of the amendments and vote on Director Harris' amendment first.

Highlights of Intro items:
- Legislative agenda.  This all read very well until I got to the Summation.

The 2016-17 proposed legislative agenda is focused on three main areas:
  • Fully Fund McCleary by Providing Ample and Sustainable Funding for K-12
  • Fund Capital Projects and Remove Barriers to Address Capacity Needs
  • Eliminate the Opportunity Gaps 
Fully fund McCleary, including ample funding for: salaries; capital cost of class size reduction; and non- detrimental levy reform. Good teaching, fair salaries, adequate classrooms and class sizes are all needed to close opportunity gaps for our neediest learners. 

No, good teaching, fair salaries, adequate classrooms and class sizes are all needed for ALL students. 

It is absolutely important when a school district is considering a course of action to look at ways to support and lift up students who struggle the most.  But the overall vision for a school district should be to support ALL learners.   Maybe the summation was just poorly phrased but I find that phrasing to be troubling.

- Acceptance of a grant from the State for $332,657 for school security items at two high schools, two middle schools, three K-8s and several elementary schools.

Thursday, November 3rd 
Executive Committee meeting from 8:20-10:30 am.  No agenda yet available.

Talking about the 2017-2018 Budget community meeting at South Shore K-8 from 6-8 pm.  As I previously reported this is not a simple "here's how it works" meeting.  Rather, it seems to be getting parents and community ready for possible reductions in the budget due to McCleary factors. 

There are no director community meetings this weekend.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, while in general I agree with you about calling a halt to the boundary stuff, at Cedar Park there is nothing to be gained by waiting. Enrollment staff have submitted their proposal, which is extensive and took a long time but which did not align with community needs-- and which will not belikely to change. The Board actually looked at the community's points and have now crafted 2 choices-- option school or a K roll-up. None of that will change with another 2 months. It will just make more uncertainty for families and make it really hard to start an option school to open fall 2017, if that's the choice (seems to be the preferred choice). Other things might need to wait but CP needs to be decided NOW.

Speaking of CP-- it's funny that the race and equity toolkit documents are being used as evidence for the Superintendent's eval. The community-- with a solid voice, and with 150 plus parents who are primarily ELL and parents of color, said the same thing a year ago as they are saying now, and so did parent representatives on the toolkit team, who did not agree with enrollment staff's outcome. One representative testified to that effect at last Board meeting. Parents do not want to be forced into an attendance area building that does not meet ed spec and will become overcrowded very easily, because that really affects kids-- especially when so many live in poverty. The enrollment planning staff took notes at each meeting but at no point altered the course. Only when the Board became involved did we see real choices. THANK YOU Burke, Pinkham, and Geary. Board, please follow their lead and make a solid decision about Cedar Park. Our PTA is surveying people now and I know they'll passon what they learn. Please don't postpone this decision.


Melissa Westbrook said...

OHCP, and I said that some of the boundary work could/should be approved if possible. I think staff will balk at that but your good point on the work needing to go forward is valid.

I hope you let the Board know that you support Director Geary's idea of getting some work done now.

Anonymous said...

@OHCP, this isn't all just about CP, is it?


Anonymous said...

I'm not OHCP, but if the Cedar Park decision could be made ASAP (and, hopefully, for it to become an option school), many of the other boundaries wouldn't have to be changed in 2017-18, so a lot of that work would become moot and the work could begin in earnest about figuring out what kind of option school it would be.

Many of the elementary grandfathering issues would also go away at the same time.

If they make no other decision this Wednesday, I do hope they vote on the CP amendments.

~ CP neighbor

Lynn said...

It's an amendment to the growth boundaries plan not a separate agenda item. They can vote to amend the growth boundaries plan but it would have no effect unless the plan itself is passed.

I foresee Blanford using his comments to chastise his fellow board members for micromanaging staff with these amendments. Where's his fix for the imbalance created by the crazy Meany attendance area?

Anonymous said...

One of reasons Director Harris is requesting a delay is because SPS staff have not provided a demographic breakdown of each boundary change area. School Board directors, notably Director Pinkham, have been requesting this information since the BAR was introduced to the Ops Committee back on September 15th. A race and equity analysis of the boundary change areas was also recommended to the Superintendent by the Capacity Management Task Force at their Oct 5th meeting. Staff have had 1.5 months to provide this information, and they have not.

The race and equity analysis for Cedar Park only took the boundaries between John Rogers and Cedar Park and Olympic Hills and Cedar Park into consideration, and did not address the cascade of boundary changes triggered by splitting Olympic Hills and John Rogers into Cedar Park. It was a race and equity analysis using tunnel vision.

How much more time do they need? I think we have come to the point where it is time to go with amendment 6A, which keeps boundaries as they are currently drawn for the 2016-17 school year.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I posted this on a thread further down, but it is relevant here.

I was under the impression that, if they don't pass an amended plan for 2017-18 (either staff's recommendations for amendments or the staff recommendations plus various Board amendments), then the plan reverts back to what was previously-approved by the School Board in 2013 (Cedar Park opens as an attendance area school, and north-end boundaries redrawn). With no clear implementation specified for the 2013-approved Growth Boundaries Plan, this would be at SPS staff's discretion, and it could very well be geo-splits for all.

So, I might be wrong, but I think the Board has to either go with the motion to delay, OR vote in an amended plan. A no vote doesn't scrap the boundary changes, as they will go forward since they were approved by the Board in 2013.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

? rb, not sure your point. Of course the boundary changes aren't all about CP, and I had not said they were. However, because if CP is an attendance area school it creates a ripple effect that is a large part of why the district planned that over 800 kids in the N end would have to move, it's reasonable to talk about solving the CP issue now, even if other boundary stuff is on hold.


B-D said...

I just took my kids trick-or-treating on NE 70th between 15th NE and NE 12th Street. It is a vibrant pocket neighborhood that often closes off the streets so kids can play. This is a neighborhood that totally fits into the whole Neighborhood school ethos. It just hit me that this is the boundary between Change Areas 41 and 44. So...going forward kids on the south side will go to Bryant and kids on the north side will go to Wedgewood.

I know there is an amendment to grandfather these two change areas, which is great but a short term mitigation to the impact of this change. Going forward, in next few years as kids age out, I wonder what will happen to this neighborhood and how much involvement they will have in their respective schools which is not part of their identity.

It is frustrating because 41 and 44 were put forth to create an alignment of elementary schools with middle schools. Cutting out a part of GLES AA that is closest to Eckstein (at the time) would seem a little bit logical and had an understandable benefit. But now with the whole Hamilton / Eckstein imbalance which hopefully will get rectified with Amendment 2, that whole logic and benefit has unraveled. And Bryant and Wedgewood's capacity demands will be increased even more.

Now the issue for 41 and 44 to get pulled from GLES AA is capacity. Which is a real issue. GLES just added a 4th kindergarten class and has gained the equivalent of another class in the upper grades. At first look, one would have to say there is a huge baby boom in the GLES area. However, if you look at the total number of kindergarteners in the three schools that are within the GLES AA, that number has dropped by a total of 2 students. It is just that MIS and JSIS enrolled a combined total of 24 less Kindergarteners than last year while GLES enrolled 22 more. And to boot, the combined wait list for K Students at MIS and JSIS was 73.

Not to mention that the language schools attrition of older students cannot be made up so their cohorts only get smaller, while GLES has to absorb them and any new upper class student coming into the area.

And to add to the whole issue, BF.Day which borders the GLES AA, has 5 empty class rooms. If you use SPS numbers that equals $800,000 in portables.

Capacity issues at GLES have solutions that make sense.

My question to group is how much can the District modify/direct JSIS and MIS enrollment to address capacity issues in the larger AA? I know they are able to cap their enrollment but could they require the cap to be raised to increase their K and 1 cohort next year. Can they increase the Geo-Zone to take over more of the total GLES area so there is opportunity for more students within GLES AA to get into these option schools.

There is a proposal that JSIS GeoZone be attached to B.F. Day (Option 3 from the 10/20 Friday memo). While it would be unreasonable to in act such a major change on such short notice with out community engagement, it should be something that could be done in next year's cycle. And if so, hold on changing 41 and 44 this year, to align with the overall boundary discussion for GLES. The capacity issue at GLES....well that could...or in my view..should be addressed through amplifying the enrollment at JSIS and MIS for next year. In looking at the schools combined stated capacities, they have 47 extra spaces right now. And afterwards in 2018-2019 rebalance the area using the 5 empty class rooms at B.F. Day.

Lynn said...

The new class sizes for K-3 are the cause of reduced enrollment at the option schools. They can't take more students without adding another class - which would have to roll up through the grades. Does either building have six empty classrooms?

B-D said...

What is the change in Class Size requirements. Does this have to do with McCleary? Could K-3 Size requirements be adjusted so that Option Schools have the same class sizes as Attendance Area Schools. Also looking at the P223 and JSIS website, JSIS has a large cohort of 4 fifth grade classes, with only 3 fourth grade classes coming in behind it which would mean it would have a spare class room next year. In addition, according to SPS website, JSIS has 24 classroom sized spaces but only 19 are used as actual class rooms, 2 are for before and afterschool care and 1 is computer lab. I don't know where Gym and Stage fall in regards to being a Class Room space. I don't know enough about the workings of the Option Schools but looking at the raw numbers, they are taking less students this year than in past while GLES is taking more and they appear to have capacity.

Green Lake Parent said...

It's separate from McCleary. It's due to initiative 1351. Starting in 2017-2018 it's 17 per class in K-3.


I've been thinking about this during various boundaries/capacity conversations. If I understand correctly (and please correct me if anyone knows more -- I'm very curious about how this works) in the end the funding from the state is based on having an average class size of 17 in K-3 across the district, based on the ratio of kids to teachers. First, I don't know how SPS can possible attain this given capacity constraints and the current Student Assignment Plan that guarantees any student who moves into/lives in an attendance area a seat at that school. Second, in the end it doesn't technically have anything to do with space and rooms. The goal could be met by hiring more teachers. Hypothetically, you could have a classroom with 34 kids and 2 teachers. (Not saying that's a good idea...just thinking about the math.)

I'm wondering whether the state will actually hold districts with space issues to this standard in the end. And, I can't help but feel like SPS is using K-3 classroom reduction to push certain agendas around growth boundaries (like "no grandfathering"), when in reality it's not currently attainable anyway.

Thoughts? Am I missing something here?

-Green Lake Parent

B-D said...

Thanks for posting the article on the Initiative 1351, but reading the article, it said that Jay Inslee signed a law in 2015 that would delay the implementation for 4 years, so this initiative mandate for smaller classrooms is not currently in effect until 2019. So, is the push for 17 students in K-3 McCleary or is it coming from somewhere else?

Green Lake Parent said...

B-D: Good catch. I see that now.

I'm assuming it's part of McCleary then and I do see class size reduction referenced in various documents regarding fully funding education. But, I can't find anything with timelines/requirements specific to 2016-2017 or 2017-2018.

I do see it in the RCW with an effective date of Sept 2022:

Curious if anyone knows more specifics...

-Green Lake Parent