Oh the Things You'll Learn - Operations Committee

 I am a bit behind but did want to update folks about what was in last month's Board Operations Committee meeting.

I hadn't heard of anyone who was running the Tech Department but, from the minutes, it appears there are two people. One is Carlos del Valle, Executive Director of Technology and Nancy Petersen, Director of Technology Infrastructure. Mr. del Valle's LinkedIn page says he's been in that position since November 2019. Maybe I lost track of hires during COVID. Ms. Petersen has been with the district for about 10 years with a different tech title. There's an interview with Mr. del Valle from November 2020 on the Technology recovery for SPS during COVID.

From the minutes of the previous Operations Committee meeting:

  • BEX V: Purchase of new computers for certificated staff

Ms. Petersen provided background on the contract for new laptops for certificated employees, which would be distributed in November 2021. The contract would not exceed $7,900,000 and was estimated to be lower. The purchase aligns with a four-year refresh cycle for the devices. The devices will be a newer model with longer battery life, larger memory, and a faster CPU than the devices currently in use.

  • BEX V: Final Acceptance of Contract P5147 for BEX V Playground Improvements 2020 at the following schools: Beacon Hill, Dearborn Park, Green Lake, Hawthorne, Lowell, Maple, McGilvra, Montlake and Olympic View Elementary Schools

Mr. Best reported on the three final acceptances presented to the committee. He reminded the committee that final acceptance by the Board was required to file Notice of Completion with three state agencies. He highlighted the budget transfer part of the final acceptance for the Magnolia Elementary Phase 1 project, which was due to the accumulation of multiple small changes.

Director DeWolf asked that Magnolia be presented separately to the Board to address the budget transfer.

Mr. Best confirmed for the committee that it is unusual to include a budget transfer with a final acceptance. In this case, it was because multiple cost centers overspent their budgets. These overages came in under the Board threshold, but the aggregate was over $700K. Therefore, Capital Projects wanted to elevate the information to Board attention. 

  • Mr. Smith reminded the committee of the areas for improvement in Nutrition Services, which were identified at the December 2020 Board Retreat. He highlighted the work completed:

• Training department staff on culinary and customer service.

• Changing the name of the department to Culinary Services and establishing a dress code• Ongoing community engagement to better represent cultural items in the menu.

• Upgrading the equipment in the central kitchen to allow for more specialty items.

• Expanding produce purchasing to three vendors to provide the best quality items.

Mr. Smith reported on the work in progress:

• Transitioning from serving to offering selections to students to allow more student choice.  

• Developing a supper program, food truck, and improved technology.

• Prioritizing and streamlining operations and contracts. 

Director Rivera-Smith asked about the purpose of the food truck. Mr. Smith clarified that the truck would provide an additional serving line, serve a hot option during power outages, and could be incorporated into the curriculum for students interested in a culinary career path. 

Director Rivera-Smith asked about Hispanic groups included in the community engagement. Mr. Smith reported that there were no groups included at this time and invited her suggestions. 

Additionally, BEX V dollars will be used to renovate the Central Kitchen at about $1.2M. 

Items from the August Operations Committee:

  • Seattle Public Schools Alder Academy Easement and Operating Agreement with King County.

Alder Academy - Easement and Operating Agreement

The newly constructed 5,614 square feet Alder Academy is located in the King County Children and Family Justice Center at 1211 E. Alder St., near downtown Seattle. It will continue to provide a wide array of educational and transitional services to youth. The alternative high school has collaborative partnerships with various community programs, juvenile probation counselors, and Juvenile Court. As an interagency program, the academic goals are created individually in collaboration with teachers and students to achieve educational, career, and social goals.

In 2015, the district and King County began negotiating the terms by which construction costs for a new space to house the Alder Academy would be shared. The proposed agreement provides for a capital contribution total of $3,881,175 to be paid by the district to King County. The payment schedule calls for $1,000,000 upon execution of the easement, with four additional capital contribution payments, beginning each five-year period for an agreement term of 20 years.

The agreement includes all facility costs incurred by Alder Academy. Services, repair, and maintenance are to be provided by King County. There is a termination clause that allows the district to terminate with a 12-month notice. If the termination is executed within the first 10 years, the initial payment will be amortized and refunded to the district.

  • Also Transportation Standards for this year (and some subsequent years) were included in this meeting. I don't know how much has changed from previous years but I thought one section interesting and have included it at the end of this post.
  • The Facilities Master Plan Update was also in the documentation but sadly, I can find no link to give you. Perhaps after it is approved September 9th? There are some maps of interest so when it is approved, I'll put up a post with those maps. A couple of key items from it:

The 2021 FMP update includes current data, such as facility information changes since 2018 (re-opened schools, address changes, school name changes, etc.) and updated building condition information. However, enrollment shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic have created uncertainties with growth and enrollment projections. It is unknown at this time if enrollment changes that occurred during the 2020-21 school year are temporary or permanent, or how those changes might affect future enrollment and capacity. Therefore, the 2021 update to the FMP does not include updated capacity or enrollment information. Ten- year census data, which is also important to developing the 10-year facilities plan, also was delayed due to the pandemic. The FMP will be updated again in 2022 when updated enrollment projections, growth data, and census data should be available.

District enrollment grew by approximately 8,000 students from 2007 to 2017 and the growth rate had begun to level off in more recent years. However, school buildings were closed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and schools were required to shift to remote learning. One result of this change was an overall reduction in enrollment for the 2020-21 school year of 2.3% (1,246 students) as compared to the prior year. Most enrollment losses were in the elementary grades, Kindergarten through 5th grade. Kindergarten enrollment dropped by the largest percentage, falling 15.4% from 2019. Middle and High school enrollment saw slight increases in 2020. 
In 2018, the total SPS enrollment was 52,931. In 2019 it was 53,627 and in 2020, it was 52,381. From 2019 to 2020, that is a loss of 1246 students. What is interesting is that in 2018 there was a loss of 449 students while in 2019 there was an addition of 696 students. The district's numbers had already started to bounce around before COVID.

Demographics from Facilities Master Plan Update 2021

  • In recent years, the City of Seattle has seen its population grow from 608,660 in 2010 to an estimated 747,300 in 2019 (data from the Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development, OPCD). Seattle is diverse; OPCD reports that the largest racial group in Seattle is White (64.5% of the city’s population). The next largest group is Asian (14.9%), followed by Black or African American (6.8%), Hispanic or Latino ethnicity of any race (6.6%), two or more races (6.0%), American Indian & Alaska Native (0.5%), Native Hawaiian & other Pacific Islander (0.3%), Other races (0.3%). Overall, persons of color make up more than a third of Seattle's population.

  • Capacity Issues

  • In 2021 the schools identified as potential future capacity issues include:

    - Green Lake Elementary School
    - B.F. Day Elementary School
    - North Beach Elementary School
    - Broadview Thomson K-8 School
  • - Jane Addams Middle School
    - Eckstein Middle School
    - West Seattle High School
  • Additionally, Capital Planning and Enrollment Planning are evaluating the following program changes and the potential impacts on enrollment and capacity:

    - Special Education Program growth and the resulting need for additional classroom space at all grade levels, including the 18-21 Bridges Transitional Program

    - Permanent space for the support programs such as Assistive Technology Team, Pre-School Assessment Team, Audiology, etc.

    - Impacts of program changes – K-3 Class Size Reduction, English Learner Program needs, and other student supports and community partners

    - Early Learning and other Strategic Plan priorities (increased number of pre-schools) (
    Editor's note - we were all told that handing over classroom space for the City's preschool program was not going to create any problems.)

    - Impacts of planned changes in the highly capable program. Over the next six years, the district will phase in necessary changes in highly capable services so all students that demonstrate the potential to perform at or are currently performing above standard will have equitable access to capable (HC) services within neighborhood schools to replace the current segregated cohort program. It is anticipated that multiple school boundary changes will result from this program change.

    - Measures taken to relieve the capacity issues include converting spaces (e.g. art or music rooms, computer labs, staff lounges, childcare rooms, etc.) into general education classrooms, adding portable classrooms, relocating programs, changing program delivery models, and adjusting school boundaries. If capacity issues are anticipated to continue long-term measures may also include construction of additional permanent space. This might include building additions, renovations, or replacements, or, where available, re-opening of closed school buildings.

    Lastly, drumroll for the buildings in the worst shape, according to district measurements:

    - Sacajawea Elementary
    - View Ridge Elementary
    - SW Interagency Academcy @Roxhill (but I believe the new facilities co-housed with King County juvenile detention will negate this)
    - North Beach Elementary
    - Wedgwood
    - Monroe (Salmon Bay K-8)
    - Blaine K-8 (which was in BEX II but I don't think it was a full remodel)
    - McClure Middle School
    - Lowell Elementary
    - Green Lake Elementary
    - Washington Middle School
    - Whitman Middle School

    You may notice that the majority of the schools are to the north. That is probably the result of the district remodeling more south end schools in the first 15 years of BEX than those in the north end. (No judgment, that's just a fact.) Also, no high schools because they seem to be considered "the Crown Jewels" of the district. But, just to say, Ingraham High has been piecemeal renovated as has Chief Sealth High. And, of course, finally, Rainier Beach High School is scheduled for a total renovation under BEX V. 
  • Also within the documentation for this Operations Committee agenda is the 2021Annual Report from the Traffic Safety Committee. I see lots of good info in this report.

    1. All Sugiyama High School at South Lake students receive ORCA cards regardless of eligibility standards.

    2. All Interagency students receive ORCA cards regardless of eligibility standards.

    3. All NOVA students receive ORCA cards regardless of eligibility standards.

    4. Cascade Parent Partnership Program students receive ORCA cards as an

      exception to Transportation Service Standards.

    a. Cards are provided to the program for distribution, possibly given to kindergarten through fifth grades.

    5. Skill Center students receive ORCA cards regardless of Service Standards. a. The program sends a list and all students are assigned cards.

    1. Middle school students (other than those that attend Aki Kurose or Jane Addams) who live more than one and a half miles but less than two miles from their attendance area school receive ORCA cards as an exception to normal middle school eligibility standards.

    2. Aki Kurose Middle School students are provided yellow bus transportation if they reside more than one mile from the school, as an exception to normal middle school eligibility standards.

    3. Jane Addams Middle School students are provided yellow bus transportation if they reside more than one and a half miles from the school, as an exception to normal middle school eligibility standards.



  1. Chief Sealth students residing in the South Park neighborhood receive district-arranged transportation service in addition to ORCA cards.

  2. Ingraham students residing in the southwest portion of the Ingraham attendance area, west of 15th Avenue NW, shall receive district arranged transportation service to the school. ORCA cards shall be provided for afternoon transportation requirements.

  3. Ingraham students residing outside the Ingraham attendance area may receive supplemental district-arranged transportation to augment ORCA cards as required.

  4. Madison Middle School students may receive supplemental district-arranged transportation to augment ORCA cards as required for transportation to and from the Denny service area due to the lack of available Metro service.

  5. Ballard High School students residing in the Magnolia neighborhood receive district-arranged transportation service in addition to ORCA cards.

  6. Lincoln High School students residing in the Queen Anne neighborhood receive district arranged transportation service in addition to ORCA cards.

  7. Garfield High School students residing in the West Seattle neighborhood and in the Highly Capable Cohort program receive district arranged transportation in addition to ORCA cards. This supplement service ends in June 2023.


  1. Whittier Elementary students enrolled during the2021-22 school year who reside in areas No. 127 and No. 128 and outside the Whittier Elementary walk zone will receive district-provided transportation until the 2022-23 school year.

  2. Adams Elementary students enrolled during the 2021-22 school year who reside in area No. 2 and outside the Adams Elementary walk zone will receive district-provided transportation until the 2022-23 school year.

  3. Genesee Hill Elementary students enrolled during the 2021-22 school year who reside in the Boundary Revision Proposal – Scenario F change area and outside the Genesee Hill walk zone will receive district-provided transportation through the 2022-23 school year.

  4. Maple Elementary students currently enrolled in the 2019-20 school year, whose attendance area has been moved to Rising Star Elementary (RSE), will receive district-provided transportation if residing outside the RSE walk zone.

  5. Licton Springs K-8 students currently enrolled in the 2019-20 school year moving to Webster will receive district-provided transportation.

  6. Yellow bus transportation for two years to Washington for all students who live in the Kimball attendance area and that will attend Washington, if the district tis providing to/from transportation for students beyond what is mandated by law. After the 2022-23 service, this will be reassessed.


Anonymous said…
Your work is such good service to the community. Thank you, Melissa!

Seattle Public Schools has become more inconsistent with making and filling their executive positions for the last few years.

There are Chiefs and assistant superintendents, while something like Technology has been under a director who just reports to Finance for some reason. So, has Mr. del Valle, as the Director of Technology, spearheaded any improvement for the students or led any strategic improvements? It doesn’t look like he would under his Finance boss. It’s not helpful if his job is to just keep things very quiet.

Although Seattle Public Schools used to be more forthcoming about announcing their execs/leaders, as they have with Dr. Jones, Dr. Pedroza, Mr. Treat, Mr. Gannon, etc., who knew that they got new Chief of Staff position filled about a month ago? Will this be the last Chief or assistant superintendent to be created in the already enlarged collection of "leaders" to be running a “chronically underfunded” district?

A bright side to the current organization may be that Dr. Jones is more legit superintendent material than a social media obsessed politician. That said, I still wonder if he is leading now or already rolling with the same staff he inherited from the Juneau time while collecting $300K and planning his exit.
Transparency Needed said…
Led by the Executive Committee (Hampson, Hersey and Rivera Smith), the board continues to show a disregard for public transparency.

The September 9th board meeting has 12 items on the Consent Agenda. The Consent Agenda will be voted via a simple collective "yes" or "no" vote. The public will be denied an opportunity to hear district and board comments.

There is a very large $4M expenditure for Risk Management. There apparently is concern for sexual misconduct. It would be nice to know the manner in which the district is handling
these issues.

There is also a Restraint policy on the Consent Agenda. It certainly would be nice for the public to have the opportunity to weigh - in...as a matter of public record.

NO items on Introduction.

Community will hear a SINGLE discussion on one Action Item.

I agree, Transparency Needed. But do tell me about this $4M expenditure. I saw this item way at the end of the agenda with no documentation. I have asked for it and was referred to Public Records. What?

I think I know what the issue is but don't want to say until I am certain so if you know anything, let me know.

I am going to try to listen in tonight but I might not be able to listen to all of it.

I wonder what Director Harris thinks of the differences in the meetings.
Transparency Needed said…
Some board members tell the public that items are Introduced before being placed on Consent Agenda for passage.

Please look at the upcoming Board Agenda. There are absolutely NO Introduction Items.

Calling BS!
Anonymous said…
Does any local reporter routinely cover Seattle school board meetings anymore and report on what happens/is decided there or punted on? There seems a real lack of local accountability reporting.
Anonymous, I need you to name yourself (Princess Lea, Wu Tang, whatever).

But here’s the truth:

- The Times is now on a third education reporter in about 3 years. And, since they get their education reporting money mostly from the Gates Foundation, you aren’t going to see this stuff covered.
- I know Ann Dornfeld at KUOW is on a leave but don’t know when she will return. And KUOW seems only interested in COVID stories.
- Local tv? Nope
- The Stranger? Not really their thing.

The only reason I came back is 1) as long as meetings are online, I can be there and 2) because SOMEWHERE on the Web the goings-on at SPS need recording.

The Board has decided to have committee meeting minutes very vague and sanitized. The Board has decided to do most of the work of decision-making at committee meetings where almost no one outside the district can sit in on. The Board has decided to cram most of the votes - including the district’s budget - into the Consent Agenda where multiple items can pass on a single vote.

It’s appalling.

I know some of this is very in the weeds but a lot of it will have real outcome/consequences for parents and schools. By the time, parents are able to realize this, a lot of change will have already been set into action.

Stuart J said…
I am hoping legislators read this blog and can introduce some good government bills that will reshape what's allowable for committees.

To add to the list of who's not around any more:

1. the Municipal League doesn't seem to be doing anything, either for candidate ratings or any type of studies of governments.

2. KNKX Ashley Gross is now working outside of radio.

3. Most other TV and radio reporters only seem to cover short-term events, not longer-term background, if they cover anything.

4. UW and other colleges: I don't think they are in a position to ever critique how the schools are run because they are so vested in working relationships with the employees who are there. They are not vested in relationships with parents.

The precedents Seattle sets do have a big impact on other districts, both in the short run as a model, and in the longer run because many employees from Seattle will leave to become leaders in other districts.

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