Crowded classrooms: Seattle superintendent gets a WS earful

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe Johnson brought her “community coffee” conversation tour to West Seattle Elementary School Monday night. The number of community members who attended was almost matched by the number of district staffers on hand, but those who came brought up some challenging issues – primarily class size and closed schools. Most of the discussion centered on elementary-level class sizes; if classes hold 28 or more, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said, it’s up to the school’s principal to work with teachers and find solutions. School population in general is an issue as well; crowded elementary schools in West Seattle were mentioned, particularly Schmitz Park Elementary, which is now over 400 students – some parents asked when the district would open closed schools to relieve some of the crowding. The superintendent said her staff is currently reviewing the latest enrollment numbers (keep in mind, this is the first year of the new Student Assignment Plan). While schools have been reopened in other parts of the city, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson didn’t commit to doing that in West Seattle (which currently has two closed and not-in-use elementary buildings, Fairmount Park and Genesee Hill). Other topics included the school levy that’s on next week’s ballot and the district’s response to criticisms contained in a state-conducted audit (she noted they’re addressed on the district website). The superintendent has two more “coffee chats” elsewhere in the city (full list here), but if you want to discuss West Seattle SPS issues sooner, local school board rep Steve Sundquist has his next community chat 11 am Wednesday at Delridge Library.

14 Replies to " Crowded classrooms: Seattle superintendent gets a WS earful"

  • westello October 26, 2010 (4:40 pm)

    FYI, the district will be having a series of Regional Meetings as well as drop-in meeting and Board Work Sessions on the NSAP and the transition plan. They start as early as this Friday and continue thru December.

    Here’s the address for a list of places and times:

    The Board will vote in the Transition Plan (which will include the awaited “geographic zones” for Option schools as well as any tweaks to the NSAP) in early January.

    If this is an issue for your school, talk to your PTA about finding a person at your school to be your point person about what the district is saying versus what your school community needs.

    You can always find up-to-date info and discussion at the Save Seattle Schools blog (and naturally good info here at WSB).

  • madashell October 26, 2010 (4:50 pm)

    The Supt is forced to interact with (shudder) parents because she’s been rightfully accused of only listening to the downtown Alliance for Education, or Gates Foundation crowd. She’s got to go.

  • Dorothy Neville October 26, 2010 (6:04 pm)

    Sure, get the magic principals to fix it!

    Any wonder why the principals union is still negotiating their contract? they are just working on the expired contract in the meanwhile. Would be very enlightening to be a fly on the wall during a principals union meeting.

  • wsparent October 26, 2010 (9:04 pm)

    “Community coffee” don’t make me gag. Where was she when the “Community Bull” was being served (closing, NSAP overcrowding, crazy boundaries) and the number of concerned parents outnumbered uninformed staff by 100 to 1? She needs to go.

    Oh, and I can think of a solution, let’s house the kids in a rusty, moldy old third world trailers on the playground – dang, that one’s taken!

  • madashell October 26, 2010 (10:52 pm)

    Vote NO on Levy #3 this year. The Supt and her administration can’t manage their way out of a paper sack. Parents can only be heard with their votes and their pocketbook. Tell them to spend the money they’ve got on students and classrooms, not strategic plans, consultants, testing software, and crap capacity management.

  • lifer October 27, 2010 (2:10 pm)

    The not-so-Super’s levy on the ballot will NOT give a dime…not one thin dime…to extra staff for relieving classroom overcrowding. It won’t restore teacher and IA cuts. It won’t prevent future ones. It will do almost nothing for the K-8 crowd except standardize, let’s see…choir books and some other item. THAT’S IT.

    Wise up West Seattle. Do not vote for the levy. Force change downtown and get it to fund classrooms FIRST. Then get someone from the Community, not the Business World, to defeat Sundquist next fall in the board race. He has let central administration make a mess of West Seattle. In fact, he has supported her in doing so, in the name of The Greater Good of the District as a Whole. Well, when a massive section of town has been upended, and not for the better, it is NOT for the Greater Good.

    Get out there community activists. Get someone else to represent us.

  • Gabe October 27, 2010 (3:49 pm)

    Vote YES on the levy. All this chatter about sending the Superintendent a message is ridiculous. Punishing kids because YOU don’t like the Superintendent is juvenile.

    How are we going to replace the $32 million the state has cut? How are we going to deliver quality education with the $32 million our schools will be under-funded by next year? How will we offset just a fraction of the state cuts that are coming on top of all of this?

    We need textbooks. We need to support our teachers. We need to implement the new contract. We desperately need to implement the new evaluation system so our kids have the best teachers possible.

    We need to do everything we can to full our responsibility to our children for a quality education.

    Put kids first. Vote YES on the Seattle School Levy.

  • Gabe October 27, 2010 (4:07 pm)

    I’ll also note that West Seattle’s 34th District Democrats are fully behind the School Levy and urge West Seattle residents to VOTE YES.

  • yumpears October 27, 2010 (4:27 pm)

    Vote No on this levy. The levy funds will be spent over three years (about $15 million/year) and is less than 2% of the annual school budget. This levy won’t make a dent.

    I’ll also note that the 11th Legislative District Democratic Organization and The Seattle Times are not supporting the levy either.

  • ParentSaysNo October 27, 2010 (4:36 pm)

    We desperately need to implement the new evaluation system so our kids have the best teachers possible.

    Wow. You totally lost me there. We don’t desperately need to implement the new evaluation system.

    There is very little evidence that the new evaluation system will have any meaningful impact on the education kids get.

    It will, however, cost a lot of money for the necessary teacher raises and additional adminstration. That will be an ongoing expense that will need funding long after this levy runs out. So the levy funds yet another Central Adminstraion initiative that will, going forward, drain money out of the classroom. Why would anyone who cares about kids vote for this?

    The district needs to clean house before asking for additional money. There is, as yet, no evidence that they can focus limited funding on classrooms and deliver a clean state audit.

    It’d be great of the Superintendent would pay back that money she blew on a retirement party as well. It’s not a lot of money, but it sends a big message.

    Vote no.

  • Gabe October 27, 2010 (5:14 pm)

    Vote YES on the Seattle School Levy.

    Shame on those who try to downplay its importance by suggesting “it’s only 2%; it won’t hurt kids.”

    That 2% represents $48 million that our schools need to offset just SOME of the $32 million in cuts that have been made, and the millions more in cuts that are on the way.

    West Seattle, please vote YES on the Seattle School Levy. It’s located at the bottom of your ballot on the back page.

  • lifer October 27, 2010 (10:06 pm)

    I’m sorry Gabe but you have it wrong. This money is not offsetting cuts. It is enabling new projects. If it was offsetting cuts, eg funding an adequate level of teachers and support staff then I would be the first one to vote for it.

    Instead, we’re getting new, strategic projects. They may even be worthwhile projects, but that’s not the point. The point is we have NO MONEY and we’re prespending this money on projects that are not directly for staff to teach our kids. Do you think that 1 English Language Learner assistant to 47 kids is effective? That’s what this administration gave us last year. How about not backing the family support workers…you know…the ones who address issues of poverty –which actually is HUGELY more impactful than teacher quality on student achievement.

    Don’t think that the legislature, miserly as it already is, doesn’t notice what is going on. It does. And do you think they’ll be in a hurry to better-fund us at a state level, when we are choosing to cut teachers and staff but instead roll out New! Testing! Programs! and Textbooks** (**larded w. the spending fat of Textbook Consultants and Implementation Teams from Central Administration. The answer, direct from their mouths is NO.

    This levy HURTS our kids. It’s mindboggling, but it’s true. And that is why more people every day are becoming very, very angry with Central Administation.

  • Dorothy Neville October 27, 2010 (10:28 pm)

    Just a reminder to lifer and madashell and yumpears and ParentSayNo that word of mouth is effective and necessary here. Talk to your friends and neighbors about why you are voting no. I have found my friends and neighbors are listening and thanking me for the information. I have gotten quite a few to vote no just from one to one conversations.

  • lifer October 27, 2010 (10:58 pm)

    This SPS mom parsed out the levy on her blog. She knows her data. The data is not pretty. It leads to: Vote No.

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