At Seattle Public Schools HQ downtown: The district proposal to reopen Boren as an “option” elementary school drew fire from 3 board members, including West Seattle’s newly elected rep Marty McLaren. She says she will propose an amendment to remove that from the plan. Two other board members said they had been ‘flooded’ with mail from West Seattleites saying they want a new neighborhood school instead.
This came after district managers admitted a new option school next year likely wouldn’t draw enough from any single school to avoid having to plan for adding portables, saying they thought they would still need the same projected amount of homerooms at the existing elementaries, so they are proceeding with planning for portables and then waiting to check numbers after “open enrollment.” They said they hadn’t proposed a new neighborhood school in the short run because they want to hold off on boundary redrawing as much as possible until the BEX IV levy – to raise more than half a billion dollars to build new schools, among other things – is mapped out.
Board president Michael DeBell warned the other members that trying to appease any one group of constituents creates issues for others. “More to come on this,” as DeBell put it. A vote is scheduled in two weeks – amended or not. We’ll be following up before then. (Our previous report on a staff briefing about the originally proposed Boren-plus-portables-elsewhere is here.)
ADDED: The issue of overcrowding at Chief Sealth International High School came up too; while not part of the “Short-Term Capacity Management Plan,” it surfaced as Sealth staffers spoke during the public-comment period at the start of the meeting, discussing their petition asking the district for more portables (previously reported here). We recorded their remarks on video:
With the remodel a few years back, they lost nine portables and gained five classrooms, but with the student population rising by 400 in the past few years, that wasn’t enough, they said. (As we reported earlier in the day, district administrators say they are considering one portable for Sealth for next year, but won’t make a decision till later this winter.)
ALSO OF NOTE FROM THE MEETING: A lot of hot topics, which is why it didn’t adjourn till 10:45 pm. Transportation guidelines for next school year were approved in the late going; the presentation included a chart of “civil twilight,” so the district can figure out how to make sure its youngest students aren’t walking to or from bus stops in the dark. The only West Seattle mention was the fact that Denny and Sealth are legally required to stagger their start times, so any forthcoming bell-time adjustments would have to work around that fact. … Then there was the issue of rules for schools to get waivers if they want to use instructional material that is not standard-issue, with notable examples including Schmitz Park Elementary‘s use of “Singapore math” (and the resulting achievements). … The board authorized a superintendent search, though some members told interim Supt. Dr. Susan Enfield they are hoping she reconsiders her decision not to seek the permanent job. And one more item:
SURVEY ON ‘SCHOOL DISTRICT LEADERSHIP AND PRIORITIES’: We attended a briefing on this right after the capacity-management-plan briefing this morning. The PowerPoint with toplines is here. Among the research findings – Dr. Enfield had a 65 percent favorable rating from staff, 56 percent from teachers. In other groups, views were more “neutral” – they didn’t know her well enough – than unfavorable. The survey showed an almost-universally positive level of “satisfaction with quality of education” – 73 percent among families, 66 percent among the general public. In terms of “essential qualities of the superintendent” – now that the district is launching a search – “local knowledge” rated the lowest. The highest, after “leadership to staff,” was “education background” – notable since the district has had two superintendents in the not-too-distant past whose backgrounds were elsewhere.