Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Puget Sound Business Journal put out its annual "best of" list for area elementary schools based on diversity, class size and academics.

Among the SPS schools named:
#100 - Thornton Creek
  #99 - View Ridge
  #86 - Loyal Heights
  #70 - Pathfinder K-8
  #68 - Thurgood Marshall
  #66 - Wedgwood
  #65 -  Genesee Hill
  #60 - McDonald International
  #57 - McGilvra
  #46 - Green Lake
  #30 -  Montlake
  #19 - John Stanford International

I was amazed at some class ratios like Thornton Creek at 14:1, View Ridge 17:1, Montlake 16:1 but in a random check of non-SPS schools on the list, most were under 20 students.

I'm hearing word there may be some movement on the district asking the City to be included on an EIS for the Fort Lawton property which may end up with the district getting some free land from the feds.

Here's a good idea; if you opt your child out of some/all testing, let the State Superintendent know your reasoning as well as your legislators. 

chris.reykdal@k12.wa.us and here's the link to look up your legislator's e-mail address.   

Here's a great article from Seattle's Child about the school funding issues in our state.  Also to note, the Kansas Supreme Court yesterday rejected their legislature's attempt at school funding.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state’s new school finance system is unconstitutional, striking a definitive blow to the Legislature’s latest effort.
The decision found the state failed to meet the Kansas Constitution’s requirements to adequately fund education, but it did not specify a dollar amount to reach constitutional muster.

With Monday’s decision, the latest stage of the Gannon v. Kansas school finance case, the justices sent the issue back to lawmakers as they head into an election-year legislative session in January. 

“...While we stay the issuance of today’s mandate through June 30, 2018, after that date we will not allow ourselves to be placed in the position of being complicit actors in the continuing deprivation of a constitutionally adequate and equitable education owed to hundreds of thousands of Kansas school children,” the decision reads. 
“I think the court’s drawn a line in the sand and they’ve issued the warning of, ‘Don’t test us on this one this time around,’ ” said Olathe Superintendent John Allison, a longtime Wichita superintendent who started in Olathe this school year.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article176606731.html#storylink=cpy
 I predict this will be the outcome with the Washington State Supreme Court and McCleary in the coming weeks.

What's on your mind?

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article176606731.html#storylink=cp

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article176606731.html#storylink=cpyKII


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure the teacher ratios are based on the OSPI data which seems to match those numbers. Since the the ratios seem high unlikely I thought I'd dig into a sample one.

Thorton Creek 14:1.
Well OSPI reports 34 teachers for 480 kids which matches

But that is not the same as the number of classrooms. I'm assuming they're folding all the art, music, gym, sped teachers, (maybe prek as well) in to that count. If you look through the staff for the school there appear to be ~18 rooms. Giving the real ratio around 26 although I'm sure the classes are bigger in the upper grades and smaller in the lower ones. [I'm really likely to have made a simple counting error here but that's the gist]

- IWishTheClassesWereThatSmall

Sandy said...

Thornton Creek also has a couple of classrooms that are smaller than your standard gen ed classrooms (the developmental preschool and dedicated SpEd classrooms). Maybe that plays into it? Also more than one teacher in each of those classrooms maybe further skewing things?

Anonymous said...

These ranking show why context is important when looking at data. All schools are funded with the same funding ratios. As such similar schools should have similar classroom ratio.

TC has several special education classes with 8:1 ratios. That can change the average for the entire building but would not change the experience for a general education classroom. General education classrooms are funded at the same ratio as every other school of about 25:1.

High poverty schools do have a lower ratio but none of the schools listed are high poverty.

- data matters

Owler said...

IWishTheClassesWereThatSmall, I ended up doing similar math. I think it is misleading to display teacher ratios in place of classroom size. I don't think parents look at 26 kids in their child's 3rd grade classroom and think, "thank goodness our school has a 1:16 ratio!"

Anonymous said...

Where are the south end or north end schools with high FRL? What's interesting to me is how most of these schools have PTA's that raise tons of $$ and pay for classroom aides and salaries of staff (which it's my understanding is not allowed under PTA law) or academic enrichment during the school day.

-southend mom

madpark said...

Garfield was on lockdown/shelter in place for almost an hour today. You find out about it from your kids and you are wondering what the heck is going on.

Nothing on the Garfield HS website and nothing at the SPS website. 3 hours later an email from the Principal.

I get an email telling me she was late for 5th period, why can't I get a timely email explaining "In an abundance of caution we have....."

Jet City mom said...

Likely this. madpark.


JP said...

John Stanford has dual-language Spanish and Japanese programs. That likely helps attract a diverse student body. And the dual-language programs lose students over the years but can't backfill by adding new students, for example in 4th grade or wherever there are spaces available, because you would have to speak quite good Spanish or Japanese to join in at that point. So the upper grades tend to have smaller class sizes. And what with the Wallingford location and the proximity to UW, it's the perfect storm of affluence and diversity and brains, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Thornton Creek teacher. Our general education classes have similar class sizes as our neighboring schools. Upper grades range from 25-28 students. Primary grades 21-24. Wouldn't it be great though to have lower class sizes?
TC teacher

Anonymous said...

View Ridge has a large sped program with very small classes, unless things have changed a lot in the past few years the gen ed classrooms are packed.

former VR

Anonymous said...

PTA law? The PTA doesn't have the power to make laws.


Anonymous said...

Short recap of Lincoln meeting: Focused on lofty ideas and visions - innovation, deep learning, higher order thinking skills, etc. - but no real idea of who will be at the school and what's happening with HCC. No discussion of continuity for transferred students. The push is for a 9-10 roll up...but it doesn't seem realistic. The SAP will go to the board on Nov. 1 and should include a decision on AL/HCC.

-not encouraged

Anonymous said...

There was not significant Q/A at the Lincoln meeting, but Director Burke attended the meeting and remained to answer individual questions. General feedback was requested through a url. If families have concerns about boundaries and program placement, the Lincoln meeting was not that forum, even though many families attended hoping to hear more about the who, what, and when of the larger changes. How can you fully participate when you don't know what's going on district wide in terms of placement and transition plans?? It was like there was no acknowledgement of those students on a pathway at Roosevelt, Hale, Ballard, or Ingraham, who would be out of sink with the nondescript program being discussed at the meeting (the description of Lincoln's program sounds very similar to Hale, NOT Ballard or Roosevelt). As most students will be coming from either Ballard or Roosevelt, it was alarming.


Melissa Westbrook said...

What? is right - there is no PTA "law." By-laws which, of course, are just their rules but it's not a law in the sense of the word. But clearly, it can be done because no one's PTA charter has been pulled.

I'll have my review of the meeting but yes, not much really said and frankly, kind of an annoying meeting.

Anonymous said...

It appears the "diversity" score is really the percentage of non-white students at the school. At 73%, TC has one of the highest percentages of white students in the district. Even Cascadia, Roosevelt and Eckstein have more diversity than Thornton Creek. Only a handful of schools have a higher percentage of white students, namely West Woodland, Bryant & Catherine Blaine. Interesting company for the "best of diversity" nod.


WSmom said...

Our school has our ratio listed as 15:1. That has to be overall building ratio including PCP teachers like music, PE and library and all the special education teachers too. We have 3 self contained classes so I'm guessing that drives our ratio down too. Our kindergarten classes are very small but every other class in the building has between 24 and 26.

Anonymous said...

Do they count SPED as a diversity measure? That could explain TC, otherwise this is laughable.

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

Re the Lincoln meeting, I guess I have to give Medsker and Director Burke credit for holding the meeting, given how little is resolved at this point. They did it to convey transparency in what actually is in place, and can't help what's not in place yet. Would people have preferred they just not hold a meeting until after January when boundaries, HCC pathway and 9-10-11 is figured out? They could have held off until then, but then would have caught crap from the community for waiting so long too. It's a hard community to please when big decisions have yet to be made.

At least it was good to know that lead staff will be hired very soon, and they'll have budget to provide a year of prof development and gatherings for staff who'll be at Lincoln. And the athletic director will be hired a year ahead to work on all the challenges of full athletics programs without fields.

Yes, I could have done with out the table talks, but I appreciated that they are trying to communicate with the community, despite big decisions not yet made. It's a hard situation for most of us - few of us want our kids at a startup high school, yet we choose to live in this rapidly growing city.
Tough choices.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will get up a thread on Lincoln tomorrow.

Joe Wolf said...

Hi Melissa: The strings tied to the Fort Lawton property are the same as the old Federal Rwserve building downtown. The district would have to fund anc build a school there within 36 months.

Melissa Westbrook said...

JOe, I believe you are incorrect. The parent and community who have done the research say that is not so (at least somewhat).

Joe Wolf said...

Melissa - text below is directly quoted from the federal gov't attachment to the District's Oct 4th EIS resolution; all can be found here. https://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=26671877

"Conditions and Restrictions

Transfers of federal surplus real property at Public Benefit Allowance discount are legally accomplished in the form of a sale in return for the contractual commitment of the applicant to deliver education programs and services upon the property rather than pay for acquisition through monetary consideration. All conveyances are made by deeds, which require that the property must be utilized solely and continuously for a period of 30 years from the date of the deed for the education programs set forth and approved in the application and for no other purposes. Other deed conditions also provide that titleholders may not sell, lease, mortgage, encumber or otherwise dispose of, or grant any rights or interest in that property to other parties without the advance written consent of the U.S. Department of Education.

The Public Benefit Allowance discount varies from 40 to 100 percent, depending on the proposed program, but classroom facilities usually qualify for a 100-percent discount. Titleholders must agree to comply with nondiscrimination acts and must submit periodic reports on utilization of the acquired property. Property will not be approved for transfer unless it is needed at the time of application. *The property must be placed into use within 12 months after conveyance or 36 months where major construction or renovation is contemplated.* If applicable time limits are not met, or the property is not utilized at any period of time, the titleholder may be required to pay, for each such month of nonuse, the percentage of the current value of the property that otherwise would have been earned through educational use. Payments will cease when the property is used for the approved educational purposes. Upon breach of any of these conditions, title to the property may revert to the United States.

Educational use restrictions on the property may be abrogated and released with the consent of the Department and the disposal agency upon payment of the unearned Public Benefit Allowance discount that was granted prospectively at the time of conveyance based upon the current fair market value of the property at the time of request for release."

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