Sunday, October 22, 2017

SAP Draft Plan Released

We will NOT be discussing HCC pathways in this thread.  We can have a separate thread on that issue but NOT here.  Any comment with HCC discussion will be deleted.

end of update

Here's the draft plan.  I haven't read it yet.  Meetings start this week:

Five open house meetings are scheduled for families, students and staff about changes to the Student Assignment Plan (SAP) and high school boundaries. 

District office staff will be available to discuss the 2018-19 SAP, including related updates to special education, school choice, and advanced learning opportunities in high schools. Visitors will also be able to review the proposed high school boundary scenarios.
Open house meetings:
  • Mon., Oct. 23, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Eckstein Middle School, lunchroom, 3003 NE 75th St.
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Amharic
  • Thurs., Oct. 26, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Ballard High School, commons, 1418 NW 65th St.,
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Amharic.
  • Mon., Oct. 30, 6:30 to 8 p.m., McClure Middle School, gym, 1915 1st Ave. W.
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
  • Wed., Nov. 8, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Cleveland High School, lunchroom, 5511 15th Ave. S.
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
  • Thurs., Nov. 9, 6:30 to 8 p.m., West Seattle High School, lunchroom, 3000 California Ave. SW
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.

At the end of the month, families and staff will receive an email invitation and survey to provide feedback on the three proposed high school boundary options. New high school boundaries will be implemented in 2019-20. 

The top three potential scenarios can be found on the High School Boundary Task Force Recommendations webpage.
 Here are issues that some readers are reporting:

K-12 students with a choice assignment may transfer to their attendance area school for the next school year during Open Enrollment through May 31, as long as the student’s services needs can be met at that school and space is available.4.

>>>Students with a choice assignment can only switch back to their neighborhood school if SPACE IS AVAILABLE. That is a significant shift.

4 For attendance area schools, space avaiality depends on the seats available given the staffing cacpity at the school. To determine the total number of seats available at a grade level in a school, the district will multiply the target class sizes across each classroom given the number of teachers at each grade based on the staffing allocated by the Budget Office. For Option Schools, space availability is not limited to staffing capacity in the event that that there is still additional physical cacpity in the building. If demand increases and there is space available for consistent cohort sizes, more seats may be available.

(spelling mistakes part of draft document)
Another parent's comments:
Just finished reading the plan.

One way or another downtown is going to remove all choice. They changed capacity to this mysterious "staffing capacity." Which basically means someone in enrollment planning is going to decide how many teachers are assigned to a school and that is the end of the story.

If there is physical space for 100 students and there are 100 students on the wait list but .... the budget folks did not forecast this, then there is no requirement for enrollment planning to respond to parent demand. What happened at Whitman and Steven's last year is now going to be applied to every school.

It used to be that schools got an initial allocation in Feb. Then post open enrollment that allocation was adjusted based on choices and demand. This is a way for staff to say ... we are going to do what we plan to do. If you don't like, leave the district. Based on this year's less that expected enrollment, it is reasonable to say that parents are doing exactly that.

Your siblings are now at two schools? You moved but thought since there is plenty of space of your old school, you could stay? Doesn't matter. You don't have any choice. You will be assigned. 


Robert Cruickshank said...

The JSCEE is determined to eliminate option schools and all other specialized programs. They tried it with EEU, they succeeded with Middle College, they're attacking dual language at Concord, and now this ridiculous rule about option schools and staffing capacity.

What that rule means is that the JSCEE can set the staffing capacity to an arbitrarily low number, then refuse to enroll more student despite a waitlist, then say that the option schools aren't popular and need to be closed.

This has been foreshadowed for years but most option school parents simply refuse to believe this truth. Without a parent revolt and demands that the school board stand up for option schools, *option schools will go away.*

Keep in mind also that the existence of option schools is a key argument against more charter schools in Seattle. Saving and expanding option schools is urgent. Complacency gets us nowhere. Demand right now that option schools be protected, expanded, and made more inclusive and equitable, otherwise they'll be eliminated. The JSCEE staff are making it clear that's what they want to do. Will parents finally listen?

Anonymous said...

NE Seattle has Thornton Creek as the only option school available to all of the Eckstein feeder schools. It is completely full and Laurelhurst and Sandpoint Elementary schools are under enrolled, while all the other neighborhood schools are holding steady. Replace the staff problems at the schools having issues, don't limit option schools and force families to stay in situations that aren't working for their students. We could use a STEM and a language immersion option while they're at it, since we have zero access to HW or John Stanford/McDonald.

More Options

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm misreading the plan but I interpret that option school language differently. Thornton Creek has more rooms than students right now as the 4-top grades roll up. This would mean that if the district has allotted 3 teachers at a grade level but there are more kids and room, they could create another classroom instead of being limited by the staffing allocation. This in fact happened this year, when they overfilled K and 1 classroom there, then made an allocation to create an additional K-1 class to deal with it.

SSD Optimist

Anonymous said...

There is an important disconnect between the draft SAP and the high school boundaries revision, despite the fact that the district has acknowledged the two are closely related and must be considered together. The problem is that the draft SAP is only for the 2018-19 school year, whereas the high school boundaries redraw options are for 2019-20 and beyond. This means that important placement and service delivery decisions--such as whether to serve students through pathways that allow for better targeting of services or dispersed models that assume any site can serve anyone equally well--will be made based on geographic and capacity convenience as opposed to academic soundness. That's not an effective way to run a district. It seems to me that the SAP and the high school boundaries proposals need to cover the SAME years for any of this to make sense.


Anonymous said...

Why is Nova labeled a "service school" and not an option school on the H v.2 map? What exactly does service school mean?

Robert Cruickshank, are you suggesting that Cleveland and the Center School will soon cease to be option schools?


Anonymous said...

And here's where institutional memory will come in. Very few in the enrollment department were here in 2009 and the years leading up to it - so they have little to no idea how/why the plan ended up the way it did. So, per usual, parents who've been fighting this fight for over 10-15 years (or longer) are the ones who will have to remind and push for the same important considerations over and over again. Here we go....

Haven't read the whole document yet - and need to go back to notes from 10 years ago...but my biggest concern that's been highlighted so far is the definition of capacity using staffing as an arbitrary metric. Hand's down. It essentially allows HQ to decide which schools succeed or fail based on how they allocate staffing vs. how much space is actually available at a school.

QA Parent

kellie said...

I have read this plan and there are many problems with it, not the least of which is that the document is red-lined against the 2017 transition plan, not the 2009 SAP.

One way to think about any Student Assignment Plan is that the SAP is a power sharing agreement between the district and families. The Assignment plan is HOW members of the public are able to access the services funded by tax dollars. As such, there are lots of State level rules and regulations regarding how the SAP is created and there is a legal requirement that ALL SAPs are approved by a publicly-elected-board.

IMHO, this plan removes key elements from Board oversight and into the hands of staff. This "staffing capacity" is HOW all enrollment decisions will be made and any ability to influence "staffing capacity" is removed from both the public and the board oversight. It would be one thing if staffing capacity required board approval, but it doesn't.

Staffing capacity is determined by enrollment planning. Who is enrollment planning? Nobody knows. If you check the SPS website, all you get is an email. there is no information about who is in that department. The phone number goes to regular enrollment services but they can't transfer you to planning, the only give you the email address.

The 2009 SAP is a really sound document. It pretty evenly divides things between the district and families. This new document effectively says ...

* we have to assign choice seats at "options schools" via open enrollment, because there is no other way to assign students to these schools.
* we do NOT have to assign choice seats at "attendance area" schools, because we can assign attendance area students, so we are just not going to do that any longer.

kellie said...

Nova became a service school, when the rules around open enrollment changed.

Many students enroll at Nova during September, often when they get their schedules and find that their prior school is not going to be fit that year. When enrollment changed the rules so that you can only pick an option school during open enrollment, then high schools students were effectively "locked out" of choosing Nova as an option.

Rather than fix the open enrollment rules, they changed Nova to a "service school" because you can enroll in a "service school" at any time during the year.

As for Robert's suspicion about option school going away ... well ... the high school task force was asked to examine converting Cleveland to attendance area status.

David said...

I've just got to say thank you to everyone who is providing sane analysis of the SAP. I don't consider myself terribly uninformed or naive, but I do very much feel that way reading through it. I lack the the historical knowledge of this process, I lack an understanding of the problem(s) the district is even trying to solve (and remain confused about how this plan solves them), and I lack an appreciation of the political maneuvering going on underneath it all. I can only hope the board of directors has the bandwidth to do the analysis and not rubber-stamp what staff wants but stand up for what their constituents want.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

It appears they are preventing as many students as possible from returning to their neighborhood school next year in anticipation of the yet to be announced changes for 2019-20. Our child was actually contemplating moving back to our neighborhood school, but the draft SAP makes it sound like that won't be possible. Since transportation is generally not provided to option schools, it's surprising this change is being introduced. Having a neighborhood based plan that blocks students from their neighborhood school is a head scratcher. Since it's not the modified SAP, but the modified transition plan, the rules are unclear. What happens if a student selects an option, but is waitlisted, do they default to their neighborhood school?

The wording around physical space vs staffing capacity seems to be codifying what happened last year. They are codifying what was a pretty lousy process. Let's hope the Board pushes back on these changes. How are parents to plan when the document only covers one year??


Anonymous said...

So Kellie/Robert - if my child is considering Center School for high school next year, should we be worried? Is it possible that the school will just cease to exist, or more likely that the space will continue to be used, but not as an "option" school? I guess I could also ask this question at one of the community engagement events, but I'm not optimistic that I'll get an honest or useful answer.


Anonymous said...
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Robert Cruickshank said...

Flummoxed, I honestly don't know the answer to that. But I do know the district continues to cut staff to Center School. There have been many threads and discussions about it here - as I recall they nearly (or maybe did) lose some key art teachers. And then there's kellie's comment about the evaluation of turning Cleveland into an attendance area school.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether I'm right that the JSCEE has it out for option schools - as long as we ensure that the board passes, and the staff implements, policies to help option schools thrive (and that includes making them more equitable). If those strong policies are in place, then there'd be no way the JSCEE could ever undermine the option schools and these concerns would be rendered moot.

As kellie points out, however, it would be bad for the board to cede their power to the central staff by letting those staff make decisions about staffing and thus programs that should be handled by the board itself. Whether the board goes along will be a key test about whether this board is willing to do what it takes to support and protect great public schools in this city.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Robert. So is the best course of action to write the board members directly about the concerns and Kellie you bring up? Should we bring up these concerns at the community meetings about high school boundaries? And who would best answer the excellent "Real Question" above: exactly what problem(s) is this new plan trying to solve?


Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

"I think it's irresponsible to not acknowledge the interconnectedness of these three areas of current work."

Not sure if this deleted comment was referring to me or the staff or both. Of course, I know how interrelated these boundaries, SAP and programs are.

But I do not want this thread to devolve and so there will be no discussion of HCC.

kellie said...

David is right on target.

School districts need to re-work assignment plans. It is pretty typical that this work starts with identifying the problem that they are trying to solve. What is the problem? What is the result that this plan is supposed to produce?

The were a number a benefits to the old 100% choice plan. However, if you were new to Seattle, didn't submit your paperwork on time, or changed your address, you had NO choice. You were simply assigned to whatever school had an empty seat. Likewise for the vast majority of sped families.

The plan had zero predictability. You never knew if you were going to get assigned to your school. One year, you needed to be three blocks from Steven's Elementary to get in. Middle and high school was a guessing game and many parts of town had NO reliable access to a school. It was not uncommon for siblings, even twins to be assigned to different schools.

There were many years of meetings to delineate the problem of predictability vs choice and the result was the 2009 SAP. What problem is trying to be solved with this new plan? Some staff have said these changes are necessary to prevent changes to staffing in October.

Well, that can't be correct. Last year, Whitman was capped at 600 students with 100 students on the wait list. Despite a promise to honor all the choice requests because there was plenty of space, these families were not admitted to Whitman. Staff asserted that this was necessary to protect the enrollment projections. So what happened?

This fall, Whitman is enrolled at 560 students, well below their projections. There was plenty of room to admit those families and more than likely the vast majority of those families left the district.

kellie said...

The question of the board's authority is critical to this discussion.

Opening and Closing of schools is under the authority of the board. This is part of state law - only the publicly elected board can determine the closure of a public asset.

This was debated endlessly during the closure-era, because only in Seattle is there a question of whether or not a building and school are the same thing. Everywhere else, there is absolute clarity that closing a building is closing a school.

Staff closed Middle College in West Seattle as part of program placement. It looked like a school closure. It felt like a school closure. For the staff and students at that school, there was really no distinction between closing their school and "a shift in program placement." However, none of the legally required processes for closing a school were followed and Middle College's doors were shut.

If this plan is approved, the process becomes even more opaque. Enrollment planning could simply plan for ZERO staff at a school and Viola! The school is gone. No process. No oversight. No recourse.

While that might seem a touch extreme, for the families at both Stevens and Whitman (and likely other schools) this is their reality. Stevens' has had a wait list every year for the last three years. Despite this, the school is shrinking by one homeroom each year. Steven's families testified that they feared this process could result in the eventual closure of their school.

This plan does not benefit families. I do not know if there is any benefit to anyone with this new plan. If anyone has any insight, please share.

Anonymous said...

I would encourage people to examine whether there are sufficient protections for (what ought to be) the right for siblings to attend the same school. There is a big difference between tiebreakers / preferences and a guarantee, and I don't see a strong guarantee in this plan.

Also the wording about twins is unclear. Reading between the lines I would guess that "twins" here means "siblings assigned to the same grade", and that if twins are assigned to different grades, the rules for siblings would be used but not the rules for twins. But it is not really spelled out and clarification is in order.


kellie said...

IMHO, The Center School is both a safe choice and a good choice for incoming Freshman next year.

On the safe side, it would nearly impossible for the District to close Center School anytime in the next four years because of capacity constraints. The center school has physical space for 400 students, so there is plenty of room for any incoming students.

Downtown is strongly focused on creating a downtown high school of some sort. The earliest this could happen would be 2025. Between now and then Center School is the downtown high school and maintain some form of downtown high school is very important to that plan.

There is an outside chance that when or if a downtown comprehensive high school is created that Center School might be folded into that. However that is years away and for a plan that has no funding and I do not think will ever materialize.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the enrollment office is picking the winners and the losers. I hope the board heard from enough frustrated people this fall that they know better than to let the current approach continue. There were examples where moving wait lists would have been cost nuetral but enrollment denied requests because they then might have to make a special consideration in another set of requests. It was easier to just say no to everyone, regardless off the impact on families.


Anonymous said...

And there it is in a nutshell.

"If this plan is approved, the process becomes even more opaque. Enrollment planning could simply plan for ZERO staff at a school and Viola! The school is gone. No process. No oversight. No recourse. "

Thanks for summarizing, Kellie - that will be my talking point at the meetings and in an endless number of emails to the board.

QA Parent

Anonymous said...

There are some problems with the current edit of this document.

1. Two things on p6:
a. "Current and new students will generally be assigned to their attendance area high school, as long as the school offers the services the student needs."
--They don't outline the assignment process if an attendance area school does not offer the services a student needs.

b. "Assignment to Ingraham depends on space available and tiebreakers"
--This case of "space available" has not been clarified as to whether it means physical space or staffing capacity. The footnote explaining what "space available" means (p3) only addresses attendance area schools and option schools.

2. There are three phrases they are using to refer to the period during which a student may make an enrollment change:
"during Open Enrollment through May 31"
"during the on-time Open Enrollment period" (with "through May 31" in strike-through text)
"during the on-time Open Enrollment through May 31"
--Is there a reason why these aren't consistent?

3. On the title page they have removed the word Transition from the title, but on p. 1 they refer to this as "this Student Assignment Transition Plan"

4. on p1 they refer to Lincoln as "an attendance area high school in Northwest Seattle." Since upcoming boundary changes will greatly impact NE Seattle this wording should change.

Good fit

Anonymous said...

One other problem with this document: it automatically assigns students to schools that may not continue to house them in 2019. A default assignment should come with full transparency, so families know they may need to make changes during Open Enrollment. In the case of attendance area enrollment, all families will know before enrollment if their boundary is changing. In the case of all other kinds of enrollment, there is no transparency. We need transparency for everyone to minimize disruption in 2019.

Good fit

Anonymous said...

"We need transparency for everyone to minimize disruption in 2019."
That's right, historically though those kids in programs have not gotten this information in time. They are excluded from the process until much later, although it affects large groups of kids and influences them directly. SPS makes program decisions after boundary decisions.

Anonymous said...

Didn't SPS staff try to do this last year too? Present their transition plan as the SAP? They need to go back to the SAP and red-line it compared to their proposed SAP.

N by NW

Transportationless Transfers said...

With regard to switching between option schools and assignment schools, I noticed this:

"K-8 students with a choice assignment who live outside of their assigned school’s walk zone and are not eligible for transportation may transfer to their attendance area school at any time, as long as the students’ service needs can be met and space is available."

So, for example, if you were attending Thornton Creek, but you lived outside the walk zone and you were not eligible for transportation (because you live outside of the Eckstein area and busing is only provided for students who live within the Eckstein area), you would be allowed to transfer to your attendance area school at any time as long as there was "space available." They should specify if this "space" is in their mythical staffing allotment mirage or actual physical space in the school building.

Anonymous said...

They also need to provide draft SAP language for 2019/20 at this time.

If they are making 2019/20 high school boundary decisions now, then they should also be approving a 2-year SAP transition plan, laying out what happens next year and then what changes happen the following year. As it stands, the current draft SAP for next year is CONTRARY TO assumptions underlying the proposed HS boundaries.


Anonymous said...

So, what happens with these scenarios under the proposed SAP?:
A) student leaves bryant to attend Sand Point elementary and two years later wants to return to bryant (their assigned neighborhood school), but that grade level is full.
B) student leaves Wedgwood to attend Decatur and the next year wants to go back to Wedgwood because HCC was too hard for their student, Wedgwood is full.
C) student who lives in the Eckstein service area (Wedgwood student) is attending Hale as a freshman and loves it, does not want to attend Roosevelt.


Anonymous said...

Student A either stays at Sand Point or goes to their 2nd or 3rd (and so on) choice with space available. From this SAP:
"K-12 students with a choice assignment may transfer to their attendance area school for the next school year during Open Enrollment through May 31, as long as the student’s services needs can be met at that school and space is available."

Student B is an interesting one. The document doesn't address it as far as I can tell.

Student C continues at Hale *next year* but future years are unknown. This SAP says students with a choice assignment to an attendance area school that is not the student’s attendance area school "will automatically receive a continuing assignment to the same school, as long as the school offers the grade and services the student need." It does NOT say what happens to those students in 2019 when boundaries are redrawn. If I were Student C I would be worried about this.

The TC student a few posts above is in the same situation as Student A and could end up with no transportation anywhere.

Good fit

Eric B said...

Re: Cleveland and Center School. This version of the SAP actually gives pretty strong protections to Cleveland and Center. It explicitly says that they will only hold waitlists at option schools for space available, not for staffing capacity*. So that should give them a pretty strong enrollment base. There is a minor negative that parents and students may not choose an option school because they might not be able to get back, but I don't know how big that would be.

The entire drive to make Cleveland an attendance area school was to stabilize enrollment so that the school could plan for the future. For the last couple of years, Cleveland has opened in September with a waitlist and empty seats because staff are trying to boost enrollment at Rainier Beach. If Cleveland is guaranteed to move their waitlist to physical building capacity, then there's no reason to become an attendance area school. Center would also benefit from more predictability.

* or cacpity, which I think is sort of like covfefe.

Anonymous said...

I really think the board should implement either plan E or F and keep the old assignment plan. Open Lincoln and then move foward with changes if needed.

I have sincere doubts that the district can pull off all of these changes without harmful disruption to many student's learning.

N by NW

Anonymous said...

I believe enrollment staff is trying their best, from their enrollment viewpoint, but yeesh. What a mess. What. A. Mess.

Eric B: I wouldn't be so sure that Cleveland and Center School get more stabilization under this plan, because the whole "we'll fill Option Schools to physical not staffing capacity" guarantee seems to be written for K-5 and 6-8. If you read the footnote on page 3 of the proposed document, it says "if demand increases and there is space available for
consistent cohort sizes, more seats may be available." As Kellie often points out, "cohort" size is a thing in K-5 and 6-8 but not in high school. What matters is each child's master schedule. Leaving Nova aside (because its building does have space and the way it delivers classes is highly flexible) Center and Cleveland are still at the mercy of staffing capacity. Adding one or 150 students to either school would be possible physically, but that doesn't mean the district will allot the $$$ for the school administration to then add sections of mandatory subjects or desired electives. Which means Cleveland and Center will grow and shrink via centrally-determined staffing, not physical plant, considerations, despite the "promise" of this plan.


kellie said...

@ Eric B,

I would hope your reading of Option School enrollment is correct, but I doubt it. Capacity Wonk's reading seems more in line with recent history and cohort has flexible definitions. They are still basing this on staffing.

That said, I would like to highlight something about this "proposal to stabilize enrollment" for Cleveland. Enrollment Planning are the people who destabilized Cleveland's enrollment, in the first place. So a plan to fix a problem they created is not technically a solution.

All that is needed to fix Cleveland's enrollment is to enroll the students who apply, up to the 300 seats per grade that was promised when Cleveland was converted to option status in the first place.

The theoretical reason for strangling Cleveland and Franklin's enrollment has been to support Rainier Beach. However, there is ZERO evidence that has been presented that this strategy with measurable harm to two schools is creating a commensurate benefit for Beach. It would be very straightforward to either prove or disprove this theory.

Enrollment has the student ID numbers for all students. It would be straightforward for them to pull the ID numbers of students who applied to Cleveland and Franklin but were assigned to Beach. Just run a report that shows what percentage of those students attended Beach and which percentage left the district.

But based on overall attrition rates, I strongly suspect this plan is not working how they think. That is what is so distressing about this current SAP. There is no evidence that their staffing capacity plan works. There is lots of anecdotal evidence it does not work. The Whitman and Steven's examples are extreme and very measurable.

What is truly amazing about all of this. Traci Libros just made all of this work. Maybe they could get Traci to do a couple celebrity consulting weeks.

Anonymous said...

N by NW said: I really think the board should implement either plan E or F and keep the old assignment plan. Open Lincoln and then move forward with changes if needed.

Unfortunately, implementing any one of the proposed boundary options now makes SAP changes by default, as all three of the HS boundary options presented include SAP-type changes that they assume will happen in 2019/20, although they are not being discussed now... Accepting one of the proposed boundary option "as is" means that decisions about service delivery in 2019/20 will be driven by enrollment staff, as opposed to whether or not the decisions make sense academically. We should not let these decisions go forward without transparency and discussion re: the academic service delivery issues that they will greatly impact.

I'm feeling like Chicken Little here, trying to get people to see that there are some huge SAP assumptions they are sneaking into the HS boundaries decision, but because these will affect the SAP a year from now instead of this one, it's all under the radar. Am I wrong here? Am I misinterpreting something? Kellie, anyone? Help?


Eric B said...

Capacity Wonk and Kellie, I will go back and re-read. There is a lot of messed-up stuff about staffing capacity in general that seems to focus on elementary and not middle or high schools. The whole notion just needs to get pitched, but there you go.

DisAPP, you are not alone there. The boundaries proposed make big assumptions and are based on very thin data. The boundaries approved in a few months will drive many program placement decisions, in particular one that may not be named in this thread.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I believe enrollment staff is trying their best, from their enrollment viewpoint, but yeesh. What a mess. What. A. Mess."

I agree - what a mess. I do not believe enrollment staff are "trying their best." They are trying to do what they want to do and I'm not believing it's a best effort.

Anonymous said...

I also agree What A Mess ...

I believe the task force is doing their best BUT enrollment staff are influencing them to support what staff wants. Both are stating that parents are clamoring for predictability. By asking for more predictability, I believe most families just wanted some reasonably advanced warning on where their children, who are currently enrolled in SPS would be going to school in the next few years. Not a guaranteed K-12 assignment regardless of neighborhood/walkability.

N by NW

Eric B said...

OK, I agree that Footnote 4 is a hot mess. It could mean anything. I take back all the nice things I said up above.

NNE Mom said...

Some of our public schools are attracting and keeping a large percentage of the students who live in their zones. Some of our public schools are not. Some have an enormous opt out rate. And some have a lot of families that just assume they'll send their kids to public school and everything will be fine the way it was for them when they were children. This is what I assumed. And then you send your child and you realize the school is a terrible fit for your child. And not only that, a shocking number of the other families at your school are also realizing that the school is a terrible fit for their children. So you end up with certain neighborhood schools (like mine) that are hemorrhaging students as quickly as families can scrape together some way to get their kids into any other school which takes time for those of us who aren't rich. But families are surprisingly resourceful and come up with all kinds of solutions (especially option schools but there are all kinds of other workarounds in play in this city, too).

So, what's weird about this SAP is that as far as I can tell it's an elaborate, shady attempt populate schools by self-fulfilling "staffing" predictions instead of populating schools by running good schools that people want to send their kids to. That's as nuts as trying to close the achievement gap by holding down the top instead of raising up the bottom. I think the commenters who say a surprising number of families don't like being treated this way and just leave the district. So their solution perpetuates the problem they're trying to fix

Anonymous said...

I honestly think they're okay with people leaving the district--it's a win-win: solves capacity issues and closes the gap by capping achievement.

If families are not their customers, who are they trying to please?

Real Question

Anonymous said...

Yep. Well said. I am going with Michael Tolley.

HCC Parent

Anonymous said...

If an option school has dwindling enrollment, this plan will prevent its students from jumping ship in the event the ship rocks a bit. That’s a step toward saving the option school from mass exodus, don’t you think? I don’t follow how this hurts option schools.
Options matter

Anonymous said...

What option schools have dwindling numbers, really? They create dwindling numbers by limiting staff and shutting down wait lists. This hurts option schools because people will be hesitant to join an option school if they can't have a decent exit plan should the school not work out for their student. That is a sad plan and not in the best interests of students.


CascadiaMom said...

I went to the Eckstein meeting tonight. I felt like a pingpong ball. All the issues covered at the meeting are connected (area maps, SAP, advanced learning, SPED, 24 credit schedule, transportation) and each had their own table. But at every table, if you asked a complicated question, staff would say "that's not me, you have to ask that person over there" and would point you to another table. I felt as though every person at the meeting was in a silo and was refusing to engage in the cross-cutting questions. It felt like a giant bureaucracy where everyone was monitoring their cog in the system, but no one was running the actual machine itself. It's going to take real leadership to take these disparate units and issues and figure out a plan that can pull this together. I didn't meet anyone at this meeting who seemed up to that task.

I will say that everyone I spoke to seemed interested in the feedback, and I was glad that I went and gave them some. I encourage people to keep attending these meetings.

kellie said...

I also attended the meeting last night and concur with CascadiaMom.

Every table was a silo on work that is deeply interconnected. The narrative I used centered on the following.

There are only two ways to run boundaries in a School district.

1) Reasonable boundaries, with uneven enrollment at schools and the use of programs to balance this out.
2) Right sized schools, with not-reasonable boundaries, where many students are bussed to a further school.

Most staff concurred with this basis. This scenario is so universal for all districts everywhere. Students and schools are just not conveniently located so someone has to go on a bus. This is why the State provides extra transpiration funding for Advanced Learning programs. You either have AL students volunteer to be bussed or you distribute the based on address and there are more total busses.

Every single boundary scenario is in group two. There are ZERO scenarios that represent group one. Group 2 means that there will need to be substantial changes to the SAP that include the elimination of pathways, because now every high school will be expect to do everything, despite the simple fact that State level funding does not pay for this.

When staff would assert that the decision to eliminate pathways has not been made and that board needs to make that decision, I would note that there are ZERO boundary maps that would align with that option.

Staff is only presenting one side of the story and the side they are presenting is both more expensive in operation costs and backs the board into a corner.

Anonymous said...

Re: meeting format

Staff answering questions in front of an audience, even if they are selectively answering based on comment cards submitted at the beginning, might help bring those silos together. As a parent, I want to hear other concerns as well. When the crowd around the table grew, it was next to impossible to hear. My guess is that many parents had similar questions that could have been answered more effectively with staff on a stage with a microphone. I'm not sure what was worse - the Lincoln meeting where parents were asked to sit around tables and accomplish nothing, or this past meeting where it was a noisy free for all.

beyond frustrated

Anonymous said...

When staff would assert that the decision to eliminate pathways has not been made and that board needs to make that decision, I would note that there are ZERO boundary maps that would align with that option.

Staff were not only asserting that the the decision to eliminate pathways has not been made, they were actively asserting that there would still be pathways in 2019, despite the exclusion of pathways in the proposed boundary maps. Either staff are lying and they know there likely won't be but don't have the courage to admit it, or they really think there will still be pathways, in which case they need to get their act together and work with their colleagues in other departments who seem to be convinced otherwise. Regardless, they need to all get on the same page soon. The board can't vote on any of this until there's a comprehensive proposal that's internally consistent. This is

crazy making

Anonymous said...

Um, so that's obviously what they intend the extra 500 seats opening in 2019 at Ingraham for. I can't see how they haven't planned for it?


Anonymous said...

If I had an 8th grader and some extra money and time, I would take a sabbatical year next year to Argentina or someplace where my student could be immersed in a different culture and language and just avoid a really, really bad year at SPS.


Anonymous said...

I wonder how much enrollment impact private to public makes as well. I know some private school families who are oblivious to all this (or don't care) and are considering sending their kids back to public for high school! So some will leave and others will enter.
-musical chairs

Anonymous said...

The next *2* years seem like they could be especially bad. This coming year, families will make unpredictable changes to try to buffer themselves from the yet to be decided assignments, while schools continue to struggle with overcrowding, then an unprecedented amount of disruption will occur with the new boundaries and opening of Lincoln in 2019. Enrollment will limit choice with their shenanigans around "space available" creating budget issues for schools, while teaching staff will be moved and displaced, wreaking havoc with course options and scheduling.

Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic.

or not

Anonymous said...

@ Challenge, you're assuming that's intentional? If so, shouldn't it be in the projections? So we can all see it, have evidence of intent, etc?


Eric B said...

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. I read the words of the infamous footnote 4 and believed that they said what their language says. I asked Flip and Ashley about this today. For the record, "For Option Schools, space availability is not limited to staffing capacity in the event that that there is still additional physical capacity in the building." really means "We will hold Option School waitlists for staffing capacity regardless of physical building capacity and we won't put portables on those sites to increase physical capacity."

In other news, up is down and black is white.

kellie said...

@ Eric B,

Thanks for the report. I was hopeful that your initial reading would turn out to be correct and that I was being cynical.

This anti-choice stance on the part of enrollment planning is very distressing. Nationwide there is an obsessive focus on vouchers and charter schools as the ONLY way to give families a choice. In many ways, Seattle has been a leader in promoting an alternative and a middle route.

Seattle's limited choice model is really different from the national conversation, because the choice model, gives families some flexibility while still ensuring that schools are staffed by trained professionals with access to a union and collective bargaining. In many ways, Seattle could be a model for other districts to adopt.

But instead, we are swiftly moving in this very rigid anti-choice direction, which will ultimately mean that families will start to push for charters and vouchers as the only way to get some choice. I have been pretty staunchly anti-charter, but I will likely soften that stance if all choice options are really removed.

The NSAP is far from perfect. However, I think many folks have lost sight of the simple fact that in recent memory during the 100% choice system, SPS was at 55% FRL, while Seattle itself had an average FRL of about 20%. The 20% has held pretty steady but SPS's FRL numbers have dropped steadily every year and we are well under 40% FRL as a district.

The most probably outcome of this rigid stance will be that those with choices will make them and leave the district.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately, speaking from an elementary school perspective anyway, I think we will continue to see more of these policies from enrollment as long as funding/central basically requires each class to be full to capacity AND as long as different schools are highly different (hostile to kids with special needs, lack walk-to programs, are known for stressing test scores, etc). Allowing any real amount of choice and flexibility means you have to have some slack in the system. Of course, you could end up spending those dollars elsewhere on bussing, but that’s harder to parse out than when you can see you have 4 classes that aren’t full - and 3 classes at another nearby school, and know if kids were just widgets, you could only have 6 teachers, not 7. And as long as different schools, even within a mile of each other, are wildly different, parents will go to significant lengths to work out something else vs watch their kid struggle, especially when they can see that another school might be a much better fit. Allowing parents more choice could help, as could forcing a more consistent program at neighborhood elementaries.

I’m not very familiar with high schools here, but it seems they would have a very similar problem. Roosevelt and Hale are wildly different approaches. Either are probably better for different kids, but the district sets up a system where parents(and kids) can’t look at what is better for them, but are basically stuck depending on where they live.

NE Parent

Anonymous said...

What gets measured, gets done. Let's find us a new superintendent ready to close the gap while provide Choice (via public school) and advancing learning for every student. https://www.tacomaschools.org/pages/super.aspx

Looking Forward

Anonymous said...

Is a student following a "pathway" a "choice" student? In other words, a kid in the dual language immersion program at Hamilton opts to attend Ingraham HS, which is the North End DLI "pathway" school (versus Roosevelt HS, which is student's reference school).

That student is in 11th grade when Lincoln HS opens. Is that kid then forcibly moved from Ingraham to Lincoln? Does it matter if Lincoln HS is made the North End DLI "pathway" school? My understanding is that even if they do name Lincoln a DLI pathway school, they won't REMOVE the DLI pathway to Ingraham.

Thanks for any light that can be shed on this mess.

Meantime, note that I was told that Michael Tolley this week stated in a staff meeting (unfortunately, no written presentations or notes to verify this in writing) that there would be no DLI pathway changes for next year's SAP. This says nothing about the 2019-20 SAP, which is when Lincoln HS comes online.

Concerned Parent

Anonymous said...

@ Concerned Parent, I think it would be considered a choice assignment, since assignment to the pathway is not automatic and has to be done by choice. According to the draft SAP,

The following students will automatically receive a continuing assignment to the same school, as long as the school offers the grade and services the student needs:... [bullet #3]: Students with a choice assignment to an attendance area school that is not the student’s attendance area school.

I guess the big question mark is how any DLI pathway changes impact that. I doubt there's sufficient demand for two north-end DLI pathways, and I heard the rec is to move it to Lincoln. Move it from IHS, not add a new one. So then it's a matter of how to interpret the two components of the SAP statement above. On one hand, even if the DLI pathway moves, your child might be still be able to get their foreign language needs met at the choice school, so it seems like you'd have a case. On the other hand, they might say the "service" they need is DLI pathway services, and if those move, they might need to as well.

Sorry this isn't a particularly helpful answer, but it seems to be kind of a gray area. I'm not sure the downtown folks will have thought of this particular scenario, so you might mention it...or not, if you want to preserve your right to fight it if they decided the other way!