Friday, December 29, 2017

Seattle School Board Meeting, January 3, 2018

Here's the agenda

Just to note, if you want to speak, sign-ups start at 8 am on January 1.  Yes, January 1.  I suspect it will be a rather full speakers list.


  • There is just one Action Item - the resolution against the City giving Green Dot charter schools zoning departures for a school near Aki Kurose and Rainier Beach High School.
  • There are 17 (!) Introduction items including yet another discussion of HCC pathways and high school boundaries. Oddly, no BAR attached so I'm not sure exactly what they are working off of.  (Buckle up: it's going to be a bumpy night.)
  • One item is buying more portables.
Currently, there are 271 portables at 54 school sites. Of those 271 portables, 82 portables are older era portables.

This year’s growth forecast translates into a projected need for a minimum twenty-six (26) new homerooms in portables, and possibly as many as thirty-four (34) across the district. Eleven (11), and possibly as many as nineteen (19), portable classrooms will be purchased and provided as new classroom modules under this contract. These will be installed at four (4) or more different sites. In order to accommodate this uncertainty, we anticipate awarding the contract for a minimum number, with the right to add up to eight (8) additional modules no later than April 5, 2018 on a unit price basis.

Relocation of fifteen (15) existing portable classrooms will be provided under the separate contract K1304.
Hmm, "growth forecasts" have not been so great as of late.  What makes the district sure now, given this investment.  I could see it if they said for capacity management now but this appears to be based on forecasting.
  • Another item is a "gift" from John Hay PTA for over $250,000 (they did snag a couple of City grants) for a new playground area.  
To date, John Hay Partners Board in partnership with the John Hay Elementary Foundation (Partners Board) have been awarded two City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Matching Funds grants totaling $50,000 to develop a conceptual master plan design and construction documents. The Partners Board has applied for a King County Youth and Amateur Sports Grant. Also, the Partners Board intends to apply for city of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Matching Funds for a Community Partnership Grant, and a number of other grants. Currently, the Partners Board is selling donor pavers, boulders and benches, which will be incorporated into the project. Other methods of fundraising are occurring, including a lemonade stand by one industrious student. 

The cost estimate for Phase 1 of the John Hay Playground Improvements project is between $250,000 and $340,000, dependent on the extent of fundraising before intended start of construction. The project will reconfigure the expansive grass play field, which currently encompasses the east half of the John Hay playground. The project will vastly increase Physical Education and play options, as shown in the Attachment depicting Phase 1 improvements.

Upon completion, the project will become the property of the District, thus it is a “gift” to the District.
The Racial Equity Analysis tool was not utilized for this project. John Hay’s enrollment includes approximately 42% students of color.
A big shout-out to the John Hay Elementary community for this hard work of looking in all directions for dollars and working to raise money on their own.  Thank you.  I'll say it even if the BAR doesn't.  I point this out because, if you read the BAR, this is not just playground equipment and will benefit PE for the school including any disabled staff or students using a wheelchair.  This is a tremendous boon to the district.  (Yes, I know there is inequity in that many other elementaries do not have the know-how or time to do this kind of fundraising.  I also note that staff didn't use the Racial Equity Analysis tool.  I think the Board should ask for guidelines as to when staff will or will not be using the tool because when they do, it's quite the stick.)
  • As well, the district is spending $4M for an 18 acre parcel on MLK, Jr. way for transportation housing.  Reading the BAR, it sounds like a good idea but when I see this:
The cost of the real property is expected to be totally offset by these savings in under a 6-year period.
Well, I've heard that before about the JSCEE and that hasn't worked out well at all.  This purchase is being done with cash,  not bonds, but I hope the Board asks for a yearly documentation that the district is saving the money.


Eric B said...

They'll be able to fill 11 portables just with HS students based on expected overages at Ballard, Roosevelt, and Garfield. I don't think that they can put more at some of those sites, so I expect to see more at Ingraham. I have no doubt that they can find a good use for 11 and possibly 19 classrooms.

Anonymous said...

Ingraham has 2 portables now and will have construction across the entire front of the school and a construction trailer in the back by the end of this school year.


NO 1240 said...

The city's Department of Neighborhood and Department of Construction and Inspection worked with Green Dot to build a high school in south Seattle. They worked on this project for approximately one year and they did so in violation of the law.

I'm glad the board is pushing back.

Anonymous said...

I hope that director DeWolf will abstain from voting on the Green Dot resolution due to his conflict of interest on this issue. He’s on the board of the public organization that is providing the land the charter school will be built on.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

Looking at specs for Ingraham addition (Introduction Item #17):

Since the Educational Specifications for High Schools assumes a full complement of program spaces for a 1,600-student high school, and core spaces for 1,200 students already exist at Ingraham High School, the Educational Specifications “template” must be selectively applied at a scale appropriate to the 500 student classroom addition.

...during the development of the Educational Specifications it was recognized that a new graduation requirements for three years of science for each student would generate the need for additional science labs. Therefore, the program areas were adjusted to provide for 18 General Education classrooms and two additional Science Labs, as noted below.

...Science Labs: In order to provide sufficient space for additional sections of Science so that each student may meet the new State 24-credit graduation requirement, one additional Biology/Environmental Science Lab and one additional Chemistry Lab are proposed in the classroom addition.

For 500 students, it is assumed they take at most 3 years of science, or only 75% of students are taking science in a given year:

500 students x 0.75 x (1/6) = 63 students in any given period taking science

63 students, so 2 additional science labs. But wait, don't most college bound students take 4 years of science, so more than 75% of students would be taking science in a given year? Will they really have enough science classrooms for 1600 students? Is it assumed physics classes can be in dry labs, so they don't need as many full labs?


Anonymous said...

I’d guess they’re assuming they don’t have to offer four years of science.

Fairmount Parent

Michael Rice said...

Actually, Ingraham has four portables this year. They are all jammed together very tightly between the tennis courts and the the 300 building. The construction staging area will be on the outdoor basketball courts on the east side of the building. If we get more portables for next year, the only place to put them will be in the parking lot. That will make a bad parking situation even worse.

Anonymous said...

Another thread closed about HCC when the blog narrative is challenged.

I sure hope the board sees the lack of tolerance for respectful opposing views and stops posting here in the New Year.


Anonymous said...

MW, l believe people get angry with you because you are a sudo lobbyist for several programs, individuals on the board and various SPS staff. The lobbying is sometimes direct but in many cases its done by controlling the conversation of this blog.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Kayaker (or same person with multiple names), I ended one thread because of a foul-mouthed, violent statement from one reader. When it gets that, there is no reason to continue. This is not that kind of blog and will not ever be.

As for the Board, this is not a political blog - it's an education blog. I think the majority of people in Seattle would agree that DeVos is not capable in her post. What comments I have seen from various directors are mostly informational. I'm not sure they worry about their comments here provoking any kind of ethics challenge.

What is a "sudo lobbyist?" I'm a person with opinions (based on expert knowledge)who prints them in a blog and also lets her elected officials know them. That's called being a citizen. A lobbyist gets paid. I don't get paid.

Yes, I do control - to some degree - the conversation here. I'm the blog moderator.

Again, don't like the blog, don't be here. If you think it's not an open forum, don't be here.

What I am hearing is a few people who worry that people do listen to this blog - including the reader comments - and wish it wasn't so.

Anonymous said...

The issue here is that this blog is not open, despite pretending to be.

There has long been tolerance for ad hominem attacks against posters who countered the prevailing blog narrative (and this has been abetted by the moderators who themselves do the same).

But the recent turn has been that Melissa has increasingly made it routine to delete more and more posts--not because they break blog rules, but because she apparently doesn't agree with the messages.

This is censorship. And, it is political without a doubt, because schools are part of the local political landscape on many levels. The policies in schools effect everything from housing prices to corporate headquarters choices. School board races are very political.

So, no, it's not okay to pretend you have an open forum and then shut out the many voices that don't drink your koolaid.

And, since the public is now onto how this blog operates, it would be very foolish for school board directors to post here.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...


Starting the new year as a trolling social isolate attempting to censor the Board is not the mentally sound path. Endlessly haranguing Melissa and fixating on HCC is also a waste of precious life. Instead do something positive with your time.

Critical Reader

Anonymous said...

I would classify the repeated attempts by you and others to discount a contrary voice, by claiming that poster is posing as someone else, as ad hominem and insidious.

Maybe if you didn't keep deleting posts, people would feel more like using a consistent name.

Moreover, even though it might make you feel better to think otherwise, there are in fact many different people posting here (and risking deletion) who simply don't buy the prevailing blog narrative. A Linguistics 101 class makes syntax pretty discernible; it's rather easy to tell who's who here by applying some basic skills.

Also, shutting down three threads is over the top, despite what some sicko wrote on one of them. Those types of posts, in fact, are what delete buttons are used for in actual open forums.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

if a reader wants to shut down a thread they just post some nastiness and you close it.

that's you getting manipulated.

the thread discussing hcc had no nastiness, just cogent rebuttals of the oppressed gifted child narrative that prevails here.

you can't claim openness yet censor divergence from the groupthink.

you control the levers so it's on you to be fair

you have allowed hateful bashing of numerous administrator, some comments with subtle racial overtones, like the attacks on Sara Pritchett and Director Blanford and principal Howard.

not to mention your attempts to intimidate by accusing posters of using multiple monikers

why do that? to shut them up? is there a rule against making up new moniker for every post?

maybe some posters use a unique moniker each time to add flavour to their thoughts and entertain readers

dresser drawer

Anonymous said...

o ya ridiculing bad spelling is like real mature

some folks don't spell well so should we mock them?

i meen we see a lot of pseudo science on the blog about why the HCC is so under representative of poor students with what numerous posters feel are dog-whistle racialisms

i dont think mocking people for bad spelling or poor grammer is cool at all on a blog about education

and it's happened a lot and never been deleted when it follows the narrative

acorn squash

Anonymous said...

Btw, I'm not Kayaker or "DevinB" but using that name is clearly against the blog rule re: outing. That post should be deleted pronto, since it is a recognized person. Right, Melissa?

Yet another attempt at self-soothing: conflate opinions that counter the blog status quo into singular villain figure.

Don't worry, I can handle the rest of your Trumpian smear. It won't scare me off. I've got bigger fish to catch as a long-time advocate for students and families.

Delete Me

Melissa Westbrook said...

Delete Me, great, venture forth and do your best.

What a new year's treat for us all.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I have two kids starting at an overly crowded High School next year. They will not be deterred from attending high school with their friends.

I do appreciate the posts of other parents, the researched comments of Melissa, and our elected Board Directors that are working on behalf of students.

Thank you.

Wishing us all the best in the New Year.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Step J. I have also found the Board Directors comments, invitations to upcoming board meetings,and meeting summaries posted by Melissa helpful.


Watching said...

Thanks for your work, Melissa.

Best wishes in the New Year.

kellie said...

Delete me certainly loves to throw stones inside their little glass house.

The outing rule came from a poster who outed the full name of someone behind their moniker not because of suspicion about moniker switching and hijacking. Prior to that incident, you needed to have an account to post and I sincerely wish that Melissa would return tot hat policy. It doesn't prevent anyone from switching monikers but it does create a certain level of civility and the ability to follow threads more easily.

If "delete me" can't be bothered to create a moniker and can't be bothered to put in the time and energy to build their own voice, then they are the one that opens themselves to certain types of questions about the similarity of the "syntax" of multiple posts. There are tradeoffs between protecting one's anonymity and building respect for your voice.

Thank you for your good work Melissa. I truly appreciate everything you do and the resource that this blog provides for community building and connection.

kellie said...

@ Michael Rice,

Garfield, Roosevelt and Ballard have their parking lots covered with portables at the moment and the lack of parking does have a real impact on the school communities.

I would strongly suspect that for next year, there could easily be zero parking lot space for Roosevelt, Ballard and Garfield. I would not be at all surprised if Ingraham also loses an entire parking lot next year, between construction and capacity management for 2018. 2018 is going to be beyond over-crowded at all north end high schools.

Hopefully, Ingraham will only feel the squeeze for one year. Ballard, Roosevelt and Garfield truly can't handle much more and Ingraham does have the space for portables.

Anonymous said...

It's strange to me that when there's a wave of criticism of this blog the tone of comments take a defacto defence of blaming the criticism on one person using multiple signitures. The blog then goes into lock down by turning off comments on old and new post. Im going to leave it there.


Melissa Westbrook said...

MJ, I regularly end comments for two reasons.

One, I cannot go and monitor every thread for weeks/months on end. To protect the blog, I end comments.

Second, when commenters are violent or insulting or repeat the same point over and over. I find it tedious and if you've made a point once or twice, move on. When a commenter doesn't, I help that happen. This is not a rant and rave blog and I expect people to behave as civil adults.

I don't think it's just one person; I know who at least two of the people are. But it's clear that at least one other person is using multiple monikers including hijacking other people's names.

To post a comment using anyone else's name/moniker is wrong and will not be tolerated. Again, have the courage of your convictions.

I am again going to make the effort to ignore/delete these people. They are rarely on point, they tend to focus on me (and it's a rare topic that should include me) and I suspect they are trying to get me to use my time and energy on them.

I'm not.


Anonymous said...

These teachers forgot to hang up after calling a parent and were recorded ridiculing the student, a Special Education student.


It makes me wonder, didn't this behavior happen before in the hearing of other staff? I wonder was there a code of silence.

Is there one in SPS?

Are teachers comfortable coming forward with complaints about other teachers' comments or behaviors that are inappropriate?

me too

Anonymous said...

@me too

Then there's this,



Anonymous said...


This according to Nature journal:

...do "'not feed the trolls’ has little impact. They are cultural scavengers who feast on alternative facts and false news already in the system, and thrive on condemnation."

However, your most virulent troll's posts removes the one thing they require - an audience and platform - as they attempt to control and shape perception armed with the troll's toolkit of lies, threats and insults.



Anonymous said...

supposed to say "deleting" after "However,"