Tonight, the Seattle School Board is scheduled to make its decision on the Denny Middle School/Chief Sealth High School shared-campus proposal. (All WSB coverage is archived here.) What board members specifically are being asked to approve or reject is a resolution to move $10 million from elsewhere in the budget to support Option 2 (district rendering below), the option recommended by district administration — going ahead with building a new Denny on the Sealth campus, but adding money to the required renovations CSHS was already scheduled to get:
WSB will be there tonight with live online updates; as the day goes on, we’ll report any late pre-vote developments, starting with this: Sealth teacher John Wright forwarded a petition signed by staffers who support Option 3 (building a new Denny on its current site; renovating Sealth with the basic upgrades it is scheduled to get no matter what). Here’s the petition text; Wright says of the 93 CSHS staffers contacted yesterday, 83 signed it (they hadn’t yet reached 16 staffers):
We the undersigned staff at Chief Sealth High School strongly urge the School Board to vote for Option 3 to keep the campuses separate. We strongly urge all available funds be utilized to build the absolutely best possible Denny Middle School to support our entire community.
There have been multiple admissions of community and staff engagement flaws in this entire process, some accidental, some intentional. Ultimately, however, we request Option 3 be chosen as there has been no evidence towards academic benefit for any co-location campus model.
1. All or almost all of the existing 6-12 models in the country referred to by the school district are either private, charter or magnet schools with self-selecting application processes. The models of 6-12 schools which exist were pre-planned projects, not mergers of existing schools. Successful 6-12 models had staff heavily involved in every phase of the development of the school and, in many models, the schools were created gradually (ex. one grade level at a time).
2. There is no academic plan for a 6-12 co-location model. Vague affirmations from the district that it â€œcould workâ€ as well as the Facilities Department websiteâ€™s Academic Benefits (actually just copied from the Denny principalâ€™s letter) do not constitute an academic plan. An academic plan requires considerable deliberation and intensive wide-ranging input prior to construction according to best practices.
3. Any large-scale educational program change absolutely needs teacher support for it to be successful. Combining the campuses without an educational plan for shared programs, shared planning and collaboration time for teachers, will lead to a lack of support and poor implementation.
Ultimately the reason why Sealth staff cannot find a single research study to clearly refute the proposed 6-12 model for Sealth & Denny is because something like this appears to have never been tried before. Never before have two existing schools with a significant FRL rate and no self-selecting application process had a building built prior to the development of an educational plan with the expectation that it would somehow work out. There are no studies to support or refute this exact model because it is a massive experiment on our kids â€“ it has not been tried elsewhere and we believe it has not been done because it is an inadequate model.
Wright says Sealth principal John Boyd (WSB interview from yesterday morning is here) was presented with this petition late yesterday afternoon, before it was sent to the School Board. He also notes “this is a staff petition because the district still maintains that all of the other ‘Sealth staff polls’ were unofficial. So to avoid charges of ballot stuffing or any other classic attempts to discredit the integrity of the staff’s position, the original petitions will be given to the Board along with the staff list so they can verify the accuracy by contacting anybody they want.” He says that will be done at tonight’s meeting.