Seattle Schools, Week of November 21-23, 2016

Despite it being a holiday week, there are SPS meetings happening.

Monday, November 21st
An Executive Session for the School Board, probably around Superintendent Nyland's evaluation.

I am hoping that the Board recognizes that just 13 of 24 goals in the Strategic Plan have been met, that now for a second time in about a  year, staff approved money for staff BEFORE telling the Board, and it is still unclear what the Executive Directors and their Chief of Schools actually do to support student outcomes.

Last Wednesday night, the Board approved a two-person Board team (Blanford and Harris) to decide if the Superintendent deserves a raise.  I'm thinking that will be a very short review based on issues such as those I detailed above AND that the district is pounding home a looming budget deficit.  There is clearly no money for a raise.

Tuesday, November 22nd
Board Work Session on the 2017-2018 Budget from 4:30-5:30.
Board Work Session on Board's Annual Self-Evaluation from 5:30- 7:00 pm at JSCEE.  Agenda

I'm a little surprised at the times for each Work Session given the gravity that staff is stating for next year's budget.

The PowerPoint on the Budget includes the following:

- an updated number for the deficit from $71M to $74.2M due to the boundary changes that include grandfathering with transportation
-  changing Board policy on the Economic Reserve fund to access 50% of the funds
-  implementing an indirect costs policy for all grants and Capital (except for PTA grants)
-  moving "worst case scenario decisions" to January 11, 2017

There is an extremely tight timeline  on getting this information out that starts around November 28th until Jan. 11, 2017.  It appears the final budget allocations will be known sometime in Feb. 2017.

There is quite an intricate "Start of School Timeline for 2017-2018" on page 18.

Meany Middle School Family and Community meeting with Principal Chanda Oatis at the Miller Community Center from 6:00-7:30 pm.

All meetings will be held at the Miller Community Center, 330 19th Ave E

November 22, 2016, 6 p.m.
November 22, 2016, 6 p.m.
December 13, 2016, 6 p.m.
January 10, 2017, 6 p.m.
March 14, 2017, 6 p.m.
April 11, 2017, 6 p.m.
May 9, 2017, 6 p.m.
June 13, 2017, 6 p.m.

Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Family and Community Planning Meeting with Principal Marni Campbell at the Broadview Branch Library from 6:00-7:30 pm. (There will be other meetings for this community into December.)

November 29, 2016, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Loyal Heights Elementary at Marshall (520 NE Ravenna Blvd)

December 3, 2016, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m
Location TBD

December 8, 2016, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Loyal Heights Elementary at Marshall (520 NE Ravenna Blvd)

January 5, 2017, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Broadview Branch Library (12755 Greenwood Ave. N.)


Anonymous said…
Maybe Black Lives Matter can give him a raise?

Anonymous said…
I've been seeing a few stories about Middle School lockers getting post it notes with kind and caring messages, like "you matter" and think makes me wish the HCC community were quick on their toes after the BLM week when the rude "HCC=APPartide" hate sticker went up. Instead of taking them down, we should have covered them with living kindness messages. Next time!

Spread love
monkeypuzzled said…
Not one but two different message from SPS this weekend about growth boundaries and I (an extensively educated person and native English speaker with Internet access who follows these issues "for fun") still can't figure out where my children are going to school next year.

Called the admissions office and they can't answer my question either. They said the address lookup tool may be done some time in January, though.
Anonymous said…
One would think SPS would have clear answers and a functional 2017-2018 address lookup tool before opening their collective mouths, maybe they didn't want to spend the money just in case the SPS mob rule advocates successfully throw another monkey wrench into the situation. I'm sure the social justice mob will somehow claim racism and try and change the process. When you look at the new boundaries you have to wonder why SPS is trying to make students from the furthest NW corner attend the old Wilson Pacific. I'm sure most of the students in that area attend private schools, but if just one attends JEMS then SPS must run a bus from there. Also, if people haven noticed the area of 92nd and Aurora is very seedy. There pots stores, prostitutes, a recovery club and god only knows what else in that area, so I doubt the parents in the NW corner will want there children around that type of activities.

Unbelievable mismanagement
Anonymous said…
Though WP is close to Aurora, the new buildings are probably more secure than many other school campuses. Have you walked by the site? Isn't Ingraham just as close to Aurora as Wilson Pacific, with the same questionable activities? WP would have been a good location for a high school, centrally located and right on a bus line, but that ship has sailed.
Anonymous said…
I would love to see community meetings scheduled for the option school at Cedar Park, so that prospective families and local school communities would be at least kept in the loop. So far, there have been two school communities surveyed regarding a potential move of their programming to Cedar Park (Cascadia/HCC and now Licton Springs K-8), but no discussion of these or any other programming options has happened locally.

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
@Northend mom--the only reason Cascadia was surveyed regarding Cedar Park is because the PTA forced the discussion. Otherwise, the District would have continued with their HCC@Decatur plan in a silo, without even tapping the capacity management task force members or HCC Advisory Committee...not that I've seen any real value come from either group.

Loose Ends
Anonymous said…
The Capacity Management Task Force came out with a list of recommendations to the Superintendent for the 2017-18 Growth Boundaries, but if they were actually acknowledged or discussed by the Superintendent, I missed it. The recs are buried in a Friday Memo, and have been posted with the documents from the October 5th CMTF meeting (on the CMTF webpage). In a nutshell, they were:

1. Race & equity assessment of changes should be done.
2. Relook at plan and see if there is a way to minimize changes to boundary change areas
to result in less disruptions to students and families.
3. We are not confident in the data framework compared to actuals or projected based on
residential data and growth.
4. We want a plan that includes a whole vision of schools (SPED, preschool, ELL, HCC, art
and music, after school programs, summer programs, option schools).

The Superintendent was completely silent during the Growth Boundaries discussion at last Wednesday's Board meeting. I got the impression that the work of the CMTF was not of value to the Superintendent and his staff, though the Board's action largely supported the CMTF recommendations.

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
I noticed Nyland's silence. I felt sorry for Ashlie Davies (sp?) and thought the entire planning process and recommendations were poorly managed. I do commend them for lots of community outreach, but it didn't seem like the feedback from any meetings or task forces/committees mattered.

Loose Ends
kellie said…
I am shocked that all of sudden the board directed changes now have a cost of $3M.

The original Growth Boundaries BAR has zero cost information. It stated that the cost could be neutral, increase or decrease depending on transportation.

The board directed plan, essentially maintained the status quo and at least when I learned accounting the status quo was cost neutral. The could only be a $3M increase if the staff created plan was going to save $3M and then the return to the status quo causes a costs savings to be reversed. Hence an increase.

Unfortunately, it is because of estimates like this, the it is almost impossible to have confidence in cost estimates around capacity management.

Just for giggles, remember when the closures were going to save several hundred of millions of dollars?? Remember when the three tier bus system was going to save $4M but cost $20M to return to two tiers?

Anonymous said…
We have been asking for a cost benefit analysis for splitting Cascadia vs waiting things out, but nobody seems to ever have the numbers on how much it might cost to open a small under enrolled school and run a big under enrolled school vs the cost of bringing in 4-5 portables.

Not Giggling
Green Lake Parent said…
I was just writing something similar to what Kellie posted. I don't understand the $3 million increase, and I hope the Board pushes for clarification. To say that it's "due to the boundary changes that include grandfathering with transportation" is incorrect. At the elementary school level there is very little grandfathering happening because the Board voted by and large NOT to make the boundary changes. Only two elementary schools have boundary changes and grandfathering next year -- Whittier and West Woodlands -- and the area that is switching between the two, and number of students impacted, is very small. There could still be grandfathering for 8th graders at part of the Student Assignment Plan, but that will not be determined until the vote at the Board meeting in early January.

How does NOT changing boundaries = $3M increase? What all are they including in that number?

-Green Lake Parent
Anonymous said…
This reflect a MUCH broader issue of analysis and transparency of analysis around "costs." At the Lincoln High School meeting with Director Burke this fall, parents asked for a comparison of the costs of a roll-up (grades 9/10) versus opening with grades 9-12 (due to pressing concerns around yanking kids in their junior and senior years from the high schools they will attend for 9th and 10th grade when Lincoln isn't open).

Burke said "roll ups cost more" but could not provide data or analysis to back that up. I'm not bashing Burke--he is well intentioned and clearly wants to do right by kids. But all the SPS staff in the room at the meeting remained SILENT. The board must DEMAND data and know enough to question WHERE the data comes from and WHAT it represents to assess whether it is reliable or not.

Data. Evidence. Facts. They matter. Otherwise decisions (often poor ones) get made in a vacuum.

Concerned SPS parent
Anonymous said…
The original growth boundaries plan for 2017-18 (approved in 2013), called for Cedar Park as an attendance area school and boundary changes throughout the north-end that were assumed to be implemented with grandfathering. It wasn't until this September that it was announced that there would be geo-splits for all students (except those at Wedgwood and View Ridge). I'd be curious what the costs would have been for the original plan, without wide-scale geo-splits, since it would seem that would have been the budgeted scenario.

If Cedar Park was implemented as an attendance area school, then there would have been some transportation costs saved, because some neighborhoods currently receiving busing to John Rogers would be in the new Cedar Park walk zone(though they would have been forced to cross some very busy streets to get to school). As an option school, presumably drawing from the JAMS attendance area, Cedar Park will probably need more buses than if it had been an attendance area school...but not anywhere near $3M - worth of buses.

Some of the added costs probably have to do with the projected need for additional portables at schools receiving grandfathering or who would need portables if their boundaries weren't changed, but if Cedar Park eventually fills as an option school, it would be helping with capacity needs just like it would as an attendance area school, which would decrease the number of portables needed overall.

-North-end Mom

kellie said…
Basic math and budgets, should be more straightforward.

Saying a roll up is more expensive than a geo-split is like saying that chocolate is more expensive than vanilla. It is a nonsensical statement that can't be answered with more context and amounts.

The MOST expensive thing that can happen is to plan a school and have students and families avoid the school.

Folks are basing geo-splits are "less expensive" based on the opening of JAMS. In the case of JAMS, the critical factor was Paula Montgomery and the year she spent building parent buy in and attracting an excellent teaching staff. JAMS had a cost effective opening because people believed that Paula was going to deliver what she promised.

High school will be a completely different scenario. For a few reasons

1) The expansion at Ingraham is going to open also in 2019. That means there will be new capacity in two locations and significant choice seats at Ingraham, a proven school.

2) During the NSAP meetings, when the high school boundaries were originally drawn, Tracy Libros said a huge challenge was the 70% of high school students had two addresses and that these students could enroll at either school making projections challenging. There is no reason to suspect this number has gone down.

3) 11th and 12th graders all have the choice of Running Start.

In other words, high school is a big deal and people will do whatever is necessary to ensure that their students get their needs met. Without a cohesive plan to start building parent buy in, people will start to make other plans and there are lot of other plans that can be made.

Anonymous said…
North End Mom, I agree. I would like to see a community meeting about Cedar Park ASAP. And it is sooooo interesting how the district never comes and asks US anything. I do not doubt that if we were a high-income area our opinion about the building and potential programs would have been asked in depth. In fact when our community said over and over what we we wanted, we were not listened to by a single person downtown-- except the school board. Now it looks like Licton Springs may move in, and I do see their perspective, as a program that's been yanked around a lot. But if it's such a good idea, why can't CP we be trusted to engage in the conversation too? SPS is so completely against true discission with families. It's not in the downtown culture. What's so sad is how they wring their hands about this or that "gap" down there but NEVER really ask kids or families what works, and I don't think they ask successful teachers and schools either. Untill they approach families BEFORE decisions are made, not after behind-the-scenes deals, this system will not get better. Was excited, now

Anonymous said…
The upcoming Student Assignment Plan meetings might have information regarding the plan for Cedar Park. There are a couple north-end meetings:

November 30th - Nathan Hale HS (Library) 6:30-7:30
December 1st - Ingraham HS (Lunchroom) 6:30-7:30

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Licton Springs moving to Cedar Park "sort of" makes sense but only if it was offered to the program as a voluntary choice and at least a majority of the current families and staff agreed i.e. something like the right of first refusal. And from a planning perspective if this is a sensible move, then it really should have been planned for in the first place not chosen as a reaction to the last board votes. That would have certainly avoided the recent fire drill.

Thoughts, yes, if you had to describe this district, it would be "reactive."
Anonymous said…
"Reactive" would be generous.

The District couldn't build a new K-8 building for Hazel Wolf K-8 at the Cedar Park site, because it received landmark status (after the District self-nominated it for such status), so SPS decided to put the Hazel Wolf program at the Pinehurst site, which happened to be occupied at the time by the Pinehurst/AS-1 K-8 program (oops!).

Pinehurst was then proposed for closure (again). Sharon Peaslee swooped in and negotiated a marriage between Pinehurst AS-1 and Indian Heritage, thus saving the Pinehurst K-8 program (the only other option being discussed at the time was a merger with Hazel Wolf K-8). This gave Pinehurst/Indian Heritage 14 classrooms in the Lincoln building with the direction that the program (now called Licton Springs K-8) would be moved to the Wilson Pacific campus in 2017.

Strangely, only 6 classrooms were set-aside for Licton Springs in the planning for the Robert Eagle Staff building, limiting their enrollment to under 150 students (oops, again!).

Now there is the offer to move the Licton Springs program to Cedar Park (which, frankly, IMO should have been the plan back when they were displaced by Hazel Wolf). But now, the Licton Springs community has to decide between the potential for program growth and sustainability at Cedar Park, or honoring its partnership with Indian Heritage and keep its 6 classrooms in the Robert Eagle Staff building near the sacred Licton Springs site.

So many questions come to will the District continue to support a K-8 program of under 150 students? Will they continue to receive funding for their own principal, counselor, etc...if they are co-located with the comprehensive middle school? What happens if there is enrollment growth in the middle school? Would Licton Springs, as an option program get squeezed out again? If they moved to Cedar Park, would current families receive grandfathered transportation?

It is such a mess, in so many ways.

-North-end Mom
kellie said…
I was on the design team for the Wilson Pacific campus. Another piece of this puzzle is that two floors of one wing of the middle school building was set aside for LIcton Springs. This set aside was based on extra space at Whitman and came with the instruction that the middle school feeder patterns would need to be adjusted in order to protect this set aside.

However, rather than adjust the feeder patterns, the decision was made to reduce the space allocation at Licton Springs. My guess is that the six rooms represent most of one floor of one wing.

Now all of the testimony about "broken promises" to the Native community at the board meeting make sense. The decision to reduce the Licton Springs allocation at RESMS should have been brought to the board for board approval as it was a major programatic change, akin to closing Middle College.

The most frustrating part is that we have more than enough middle school space, for the first time, since the closures. (The closure of Meany never should have happened as it triggered multiple capacity problems for middle school.) However, the middle school seats are allocated very badly with some schools way over capacity and some way under capacity.

Anonymous said…
Is there any chance of Licton Springs K-8 being located at Cedar Park and the 6 rooms at REMS being used as an Indian Heritage HS that the LS program feeds into? Or maybe the split eventually becomes k-6 and 7-12 for grades? That would allow those students to graduate from a school on the Native lands...

- being creative
Anonymous said…
Supt. Nyland and a raise....

Does anyone believe that the salaries paid to superintendents of large school districts are justified?

What would be the purpose in raising Dr. Nyland's pay?

Really does the thought of more money improve a superintendent's performance?

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
With all of the capacity planning work thrown out the window and still a few big important messes to sort through, I want to know who will get thrown under the bus for the debacle at hand? They can't blame the current or previous boards, this has been just really bad planning and management.

Bad Planning
My kitten just walked over my keyboard and eliminated 15 minutes of writing. Sigh.

But basically I was saying:
- the district did not support Licton Springs/AS #1 for the last decade. Is the reason they are so underenrolled because of the program or the district's lack of support? It's hard to say and it leaves the district in a bad position should they try to close it or move it.

I was suspicious from the get-go with the placement at Wilson-Pacific but I've seen the staff go along with something but really are just waiting until the right time to undo it.

- I don't think putting Licton Springs at Cedar Park is the answer, though. I'm not sure if the district will truly support the program and encourage parents to enroll.

- Dan, the only purpose I could see in giving Nyland a raise is to keep him (and he asked for one in order to stay.) He already has a one-year extension on a very good contract and I think that should be enough. He claims a lot of things got done but I'm not sure I think he deserves the credit and/or it's too soon to tell. A list does not reflect outcomes.

- To Bad Plannings' point - I know of no one who ever was publicly held accountable for bad planning.

I've said two things before:

1) we need a sheriff to come in and clean up JSCEE and that means organizationally and staffing. This is not - from an operational standpoint - a fully functioning, well-managed district. It hasn't been for a long time.

And despite the fact that Dr Goodloe-Johnson wasn't my first pick, at least I thought her strong enough to come in and get stuff done. She was strong-willed but mostly for what she wanted to do, not necessarily getting the trains to run on time.

2) you CANNOT have a good/great district if it doesn't run well. The proof is the long time of initiatives and Strategic Plans that have had minimal effect on outcomes.
kellie said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ragweed said…
"So far, there have been two school communities surveyed regarding a potential move of their programming to Cedar Park (Cascadia/HCC and now Licton Springs K-8)."

Licton Springs K-8 has not been surveyed about the potential to move to Cedar Park, though we are going to survey our community about it. The whole idea was first mentioned on the Thursday after the 11/16 board meeting, when admin were clear they did not have a plan for how to make Cedar Park an option school.

"Now all of the testimony about "broken promises" to the Native community at the board meeting make sense. The decision to reduce the Licton Springs allocation at RESMS should have been brought to the board for board approval as it was a major programatic change, akin to closing Middle College."

The testimony about broken promises was mostly about the closing of Indian Heritage and Jose Bonda's statements about revitalizing Indian Heritage Middle College. The only exception was Carol Simmons, who testified specifically about the space for Licton Springs (Thank you again Carol!). UNEA still wants to have the high-school program at that site. In 2013-4 they tried to get a program started at Ingraham on the model of Proyecto Saber, but it did not get any traction with the principal, so they have moved back to advocating for a stand-alone high-school.

UNEA learned about the Cedar Park idea this weekend and has come out with adamantly against moving Licton Springs from the Eagle Staff site.

As I understand it, the decision to limit Licton Springs to 150 students was included in a spreadsheet attachment to the Ed Specs in the Spring of 2014. I don't believe it was ever day-lighted to the board nor brought up in any of the committee meetings for board discussion, but I might be wrong about that.

Anonymous said…
MW wrote:

Dan, the only purpose I could see in giving Nyland a raise is to keep him (and he asked for one in order to stay.) He already has a one-year extension on a very good contract and I think that should be enough. He claims a lot of things got done but I'm not sure I think he deserves the credit and/or it's too soon to tell. A list does not reflect outcomes.

It is time to reject Dr. Nyland's raise request and get on with selecting a new superintendent.

I certainly would like a greater amount of school based decision-making with less central office control (meddling).

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Talked with one of my Native American cousins whose son goes to Lichton Springs. She said the community is really angry about not getting the 14 classrooms promised at Robert Eaglestaff. We are likely to see some demonstrations if Lichton Springs gets shafted again. Native Americans are already upset about DAPL. I don't believe they will want to move to Cedar Park. Lichton Springs is sacred and the murals were saved and installed at Eaglestaff.

Dan, I wrote that sentence poorly.

To the best of my knowledge, the Superintendent HAS NOT asked for a raise. I should have written:

(and IF he asked for one in order to stay...

I am going to try to get more info from leaders in the Native American community that I know about the issue of Indian Heritage.
mirmac1 said…
When the district was trying to find holes to stuff kindergartners with disabilities they added Access programs to Pinehurst. I believe the principal was also "sponsor" of some age 18-21 Transition programs there at Lincoln (an odd mix, wouldn't you say). I read many documents that said these sped programs were NOT moving with Pinehurst to the WMS; that our kids would be removed from their friends and shipped off wherever there's a fresh hole to fill. We're talking 3-4 classrooms, I believe.

Access or inclusion is a service not a place, my eye!
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