Thursday, June 14, 2018

BEX V Work Session

The Board had a Work Session on May 30th about BEX V.  Director DeWolf was the only Board member not attending.

The first part of the meeting was actually about the SMART goals, namely #2 - Ending Opportunity Gaps.   Directors Geary and Burke were both wondering about who will be doing the work on initiatives that the Department of Racial Advancement is putting forth.  Director Mack said she had attended a bbq on the weekend and had 9th graders asking about the science curriculum at Ballard and the 24 credits for graduation.  They said they had never met a counselor and just kind of guess at what classes to take.  (To note, Naviance isn't really going to help on this issue because it's there to follow the 24-credit requirement from the state of Washington.)

Mack asked if it would be possible with additional staff and have a way for 9th graders to get a plan for their four years early on.  Staffer Caleb Perkins says schools use money in their budget in different ways.  Director Harris asked if that would be clear in the CSIPs and he said, "That's the plan."  Harris said that it might be good to have focus groups on 24-credits to figure out "unintended consequences." 

When my son was at Roosevelt, I recalled asking if the PTSA could try to pay for a half-time counselor who was there just to work on schedules so that the regular counselors could actually talk to kids about college and career.  '

There should be a Work Session in the fall on high school revisioning.


Flip Herndon lead the conversation for staff.  Here's the presentation.  

He explained that there needs to be a common understanding of Board priorities including the big two - capacity needs and facility condition.  (My question is - which wasn't answered - is will one of them trump the other?)

In terms of the schedule, staff had "Home Language Focus Groups" which I note seemed to be at odd times like a Friday afternoon.

What's next for the levies:
  • July/August - Project Priority Refinement and Continued Community Feedback - this meeting would also see projects and their sequencing.
  • August 2018 - Board Work Session on BEX V Capital Levy Project List and Funding
  • September 2018 - Community Meetings to present list and get feedback as well as another Board Work Session on this topic
  • October/November - Intro to Board of staff recommendations for BEX V capital levy as well as the Operations levy 
  • Between Intro and Action, there will be a required public hearing
  • October/November 2018 - Board Action on Operations and Capital levies
  • Feb. 2019 - Special Elections for the levies.
The fixed dates are December 14th for filing Special Election documents and Feb 12, 2019 for the Special Election.

Somewhere in all that is also the Facilities Master Plan which is being pushed to change by Director Mack.  This is a good thing because the FMP never was "a plan" but just a recitation about district facilities.

Dr. Herndon said there was going to be some sticker shock on the prices, saying that it's a regional issue with building exploding in our region.  (I do plan to check around on what other districts are spending.)  He wasn't kidding:

High schools? Between $177-189M for Rainier Beach High School; $161-233M for a downtown high school (that does NOT include redoing Memorial Stadium which clocks in at about $54M)

- Middle schools?  Between $146-152M for Mercer; $165M for Washington; $130-142M for Whitman (saving their theater), Old Van Asselt as a replacement for Aki Kurose (which would leave their building as a badly-needed interim building) $127M or $111M if they just update the building

- Elementary schools?  Anywhere from a high of $93M for a new downtown school (does that include land? I don't know) to a low of $60M to replace Alki.  (There seems to be some issue with Alki because it shares land with a City community center.  I don't recall the district waiting when they wanted to redo another school that shared a building with the City.  Hmm.)

I'll interject here with some other considerations about BEX V.

1. If the Families and Education Levy loses, the district must think very, very carefully about what they want to present to voters for both the Operations and BEX V levies.  While the City levy is not the district's levies, they are all education levies.

2.  As I mentioned recently, the district is likely to start using BEX and BTA funds to pay off bonds for JSCEE.  While I agree with this move, it means that dollars that might have gone, for example, to Lincoln or JAMS for additional projects, will go to pay off bonds.

3.  Technology.  The Technology department gets 85% of its budget from levies (at this point, mostly BTA IV).  While I think this an incredibly dangerous way to fund an entire department, that's what the district is doing.   I shudder to think what would happen if the levies failed.  But again, for purposes of our discussion, that's more money out of facilities - actual buildings and their conditions - to be diverted elsewhere.

BEX IV was $694.9M.  Frankly, even though the need is there, I cannot support the district asking for more than that.   But if you slice off about $5-10M for Technology and then another $3M for bond payments, you'll lose maybe $15M.  Not a huge amount in the scheme of things but I suspect that Technology will be asking for more AND that's $15M you don't have for smaller projects.

Back to the presentation.  

Here's the draft scoring for priority/guiding principles:

Categories to be scored:
- equity which includes poverty, demographics like ELL, students of color, homeless) and achievement.  "Scoring - all schools grouped into four equity tiers.  Equity tier 1 has the highest needs based on equity; tier 4, the lowest needs."
- building condition
- educational adequacy
- health safety, and security includes accessibility, seismic, water safety, security, core space and safe playgrounds (what was fascinating to me is that it is 2018 and the district admits it does not know the condition of every playground in the district).  To note about water, every building is tested every three years but if a concern is raised, a building will be tested immediately.  But staff said water in bathrooms is not to drink and kids know that. 
- capacity
- environmental and financial sustainability- "Buildings to be constructed or renovated with a focus on conservation of resources, both for ongoing operational costs as well as preservation of district investments." 
- updating technology

They used a scale of 1 to 5 for all categories except for equity (because of the origin of the matrix they chose - this was a problem for the Board) with 1 being best condition and 5 being worst.  So, for equity, 1 is the worst and 5 is the best.

"Scores from each category, excluding the equity score, will be averaged to one overall score."

Mack pushed that the equity score be used the same as others to avoid confusion.  It's unclear to me why staff didn't want to do that.

Geary noted that she has asked - several times - about analysis for 5-year adjusted data and where is that analysis over time.  Herndon said that was "in process."  Mack said that would be part of the FMP.

Mack also pointed out that in Slide 21 that categories like ed spec, condition, backlog of maintenance are rolled into one but previously had been separated.  Staff said they were trying to keep the matrix "simple."

Geary brought up the issue of landmarking of buildings by the City.  Herndon said that landmarking can limit ability to be energy efficient.  He also brought up that general cleaning of the buildings is just once every three days "so maintenance is not happening."

 Right and you know who decided this wasn't important? Staff and some previous Board.  The district has pulled back on maintenance for decades and it eventually catches up in the backlog of maintenance.

Herndon also mentioned people who file appeals on landmark grounds and the costs involved.

Harris mentioned the rate of internet speeds and head of Technology, John Krull, said that was always a consideration for new buildings.  Harris said she worried over the ability of Title One schools to catch up.

When they got to the part of costs for renovated buildings, Mack asked about Center School and if it would continue on if a new downtown high school was built?  Herndon said it was "a discussion to have."  I'd bet dollars to donuts that a new downtown high school would either mean bye-bye Center School or it would get placed in the new school and then gradually fade out.

Facilities staffer Richard Best also mentioned that they may have to put two elementaries that are being renovated at John Marshall at the same time.

Director Harris asked that documentation on BEX V have "draft" everywhere because of talk on social media.  


Middle School! said...

Thanks for the reporting!

Anonymous said...

"Director Mack said she had attended a bbq on the weekend and had 9th graders asking about the science curriculum at Ballard and the 24 credits for graduation. They said they had never met a counselor and just kind of guess at what classes to take. "

Are you kidding me? That's like educational malpractice. Especially since the district is already screwing over current 9th graders by not having a 24-credit plan in place like they were supposed to.


"There should be a Work Session in the fall on high school revisioning."

Are you kidding me? They've been working on this thing for YEARS now, and they still can't figure it out? When the state passed the 24-credit requirement, they allowed districts to apply for 1- or 2-year implementation delays so they could plan. Our 2 years was up before the start of the current school year, and this year's 9th graders are the first class subject to the new requirement--yet there were no provisions in place for them this year. Now JSCEE has apparently squandered another year of planning--with no parent engagement on this-- and won't have a plan in place for next year, either. That's at least two years late, beyond the two years of state-allotted planning time. That's at least 4 years of planning time... assuming they manage to come up with something for the following year, that is.

If they've really been working on it for 3 years already and can't figure it out, that's pretty sad. And if they haven't really been working on it for 3 years now, why the #^@% not?


Stuart J said...

I've studied Core 24 a lot. With a daughter in a nearby district who's in 9th, the requirements are a big deal. Here are some thoughts.
1. read the state board requirements list really carefully.

note the following:
A. personal pathway requirements can be used in place of a second year of art, and for world language. Now, the school districts do have final approval of their own requirements. But it is worth asking what a district's policy is for PPR.
B. In order to set up a PPR, my understanding is the student needs to get some type of signoff. this is where the availability of a counselor, or an advisory period teacher who knows what they are doing, becomes really important.

2. look for opportunities to fulfill some of the requirements outside of the school day. Use outside sports for PE for example. Take health online through BYU (like many kids at Aviation HS) or other schools or providers approved by Washington State.

3. speak up to legislators. Ask them what they think about the bill Rep Stonier of Vancouver sponsored last year to make grad requirements more realistic than Core 24? the bill number is 1509 in last year's House. It would need to be reintroduced in the new two year cycle.

4. create four year sample plans. Look at what might need to happen in the summer to make four years of something that's a personal priority, like music, work.

Dave said...

Which FUTURE Board might begin to change the 'every third day' cleaning schedule?

No other district has such a lack of maintaining these facilities once they are built and it's been many years.

As usual, staff simply pretend it isn't so.

Flip is good for at least calling attention to it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stuart, thank you for those good suggestions; I’m going to pass them along to the Board.

Dave, Dr Herndon May have brought it up but, to my knowledge, in his role as Head of Facilities, has never done anything to change that.

Joe Wolf said...

To note - school cleaning is paid for out of the General Fund, so to state Dr. Herndon has never done anything to change that is a bit disingenuous. Assigning a higher priority and more funding to cleaning means assigning a lower priority and less funding to other items paid for out of the General Fund.

Melissa Westbrook said...

How is that disingenous? His department gets money from the General Fund and he could advocate for this change at any time.

And of course it means something else gets less. I can think of several things that could be cut back so that we have cleaner schools and take care of the multi-millions that have been put in by taxpayers to build them. Not taking care of them properly is truly a dumb idea.

Anonymous said...

And guess who cleans the classrooms on the other three or four days a week when the custodians aren't cleaning? (Depending on the schedule, this is the actual result.)

Yup...teachers. (Right, Albert. Those money-grubbers.)

Disingenuous to call out the lack of priority to clean classrooms?

Get out of your bubble, Joe Wolf.

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