Sunday, August 19, 2018

Seattle Schools This Week

On waitlists, here's the page and the pertinent wording:

District staff have been making waitlist moves since April, and staff continue to contact families as choice seats are available. Waitlists remain active until August 31, and moves will continue to be made where seats are available and such that waitlist moves do not impact staffing between schools.

In order to support attendance area schools and our district’s model, unfortunately not all students are able to get a different assignment beyond their attendance area school. 

Each year, after open enrollment, district staff look at the effect of moving waitlists before making any adjustments. Typically, staff do not move waitlists that positively or negatively affect staffing. We recognize this can be confusing when there is physical capacity at a potential receiving school. Enrollment staff need to consider that a shift at one school has the potential to negatively influence the staffing and program viability at another school.
I continue to dislike this.  I believe that it masks what is truly happening at schools and doesn't give the Board the truest picture of what parents want.  And, it props up schools that the district should consider giving a change in order to transparently boost attendance.

Starting this week, it's Jump Start for kindergartners.
Aug. 20 - 24, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Jump Start, a one-week free transition program for new kindergarten students at most schools.

Jump Start is a FREE week-long experience for Kindergartners to learn about school. Children will become familiar with their new school building, staff, typical school day activities and practices. Their parents/guardians will be able to meet with the school principal and ask questions about school. 
To note,  there are no agendas yet available for any of these meetings.  The Board's strategic manager, Nate Van Duzer, is gone now and the office adm has no published email.

 As well, I have written the Board to ask that the policy of NOT providing documentation online for committee meetings be changed.  It is just silly to have to write - for every single committee meeting - for the documentation.

Monday, August 20th 
ITAC (Information Technology Advisory Committee) meeting, from 4:30-6:00 pm at JSCEE. 

Tuesday, August 21st
Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting at JSCEE from 4:30-6:30 pm.

Wednesday, August 22nd
Operations Committee meeting at JSCEE from 4:30-6:30 pm.

Board Work Session on BEX V at JSCEE from 6:30-8:30 pm.  (I will not be able to attend this one and hope someone else can and report back here.)

Thursday, August 23rd
Executive Committee meeting at JSCEE from 3-5 pm.
Immediately after this meeting, there will be a closed session for Bargaining.

Saturday, August 25th
Race and Equity Advisory Committee at The 2100 Building, 2100 24th Avenue S from 9 am to 1 pm.


Anonymous said...

Is Nate Van Duzer gone for good?


Melissa Westbrook said...

I believe so and it's a loss to the district.

Anonymous said...

This seems...significant:

"In order to support attendance area schools and our district’s model, unfortunately not all students are able to get a different assignment beyond their attendance area school."

This dramatically undermines school choice in SPS. It's basically saying you're locked in to your neighborhood school. This strikes me as a significant attack on the existence of option schools in SPS. Did the board authorize this? If not, the district staff have gone rogue and this ought to be addressed.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Optional, I'm not sure I would go as far as you but yes, the district is driving towards a very pure neighborhood assignment plan.

Because of the growth of the population of Seattle plus not enough buildings (i.e. the capacity management issue), that choice is in the rearview mirror (and I think JSCEE staff like it that way).

A previous board authorized the assignment plan but, at that time, there wasn't the capacity growth issue that we have now so they probably had no idea how rigid it would become.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is a natural consequence - what I'm pointing out is that a major change has been made to the way option school assignments happen, and I'm not sure if the Board approved it.

It's one thing to have a neighborhood assignment plan that is flexible, and where parents can request their child attend an option school and have that be granted if there is space at the option school. I understood that to be how the process worked.

But now the district is saying that they will only process requests if the child leaving the neighborhood school doesn't affect staffing at the neighborhood school. That's a big change. So the option has now been significantly limited, and this could be the thing that kills off option schools entirely.

What I'm suggesting is that the staff made a major policy change - and I don't know if the board signed off on it. Did they?


Melissa Westbrook said...

How so, Optional? There are geo-zones to get into Options schools; what have I missed?

I think you may be comparing apples and oranges.

What I read it to say is that the district wants to lock you into your neighborhood assignment and won't change it to another non-Option school even if there is room at that school. I thought the Board had said no to cutting people off like this but maybe something changed?

UpAndDown said...

What if the school you want to leave is over-enrolled? When schools, for whatever reason, go over capacity they add teachers/portables/etc. However, when the opportunity arises to bring enrollment back down to a more manageable size, everyone goes nuts. When a teacher is added to address over-capacity, it should be made clear that the extra teacher is not a permanent fixture. Everyone wants schools that aren't overcrowded, but don't want to accept the fact that if numbers go down, staff should go down as well (assuming classrooms weren't illegally overcrowded too).

Every effort should be made through the choice process to move kids out of over-capacity schools even if it means a change in staffing.

Perhaps they are doing it now, but years ago they were not. They artificially capped Boren to prevent losses at two schools, one of which was over-capacity. Ridiculous.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So yes, if the point is that the district has nearly completely eliminated choice, sure. But the Option schools do remain as good choices.

Again, I think that the Board is allowing the district to artificially populate some schools. That will drive people to charters if they feel they have fewer options. And, it doesn't make those schools better, just fuller. It masks what may be real issues at certain schools.

In short, it's a bandaid for a real problem.

Eric B said...

Optional--the Board most specifically did not approve this. Last spring, when asked how this was supported by Board policy or Superintendent's procedure, Ashley said that it wasn't policy or procedure, it was practice. The Board needs to make their student assignment plan specific in regards to this if they want it to stop.

With a little flex in the system, a lot of students can be given choice seats without changing staff levels much or at all. Last spring when I ran numbers, you could give something like 500 high school students their first choice assignment and not change enrollment at any school by more than about 20 students. Staff have crippled choice by making the system rigid.

Anonymous said...

This practice followed by enrollment services means that students whose attendance area schools have low enrollment and high poverty levels have less access to school choice than students living in wealthier areas. It’s a good example of district discrimination.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

Isn’t what Fairmount Parent is saying exactly true?

Kids in poorer areas are assigned to less desirable schools, as a direct consequence of NSAP. The district can shrug this off as an of it we’re an unintended side effect of neighborhood zoning.

But then allowing kids in rich white neighborhoodd much greater access to option schools in order to support the staff funding model, which is fully within the district’s ability to change — how can they shrug that off as not racist? How does it pass the Racial Equity Toolkit test to allow kids in rich white neighborhoods greater access to option schools?

SE Parent