Monday, October 8, 2018

HCS AC Email

In addition to the news the committee has been suspended. The following letter on WMS was sent out last  night:

Director DeWolf and Director Burke:

I attended the Board Meeting this evening with the many other concerned Washington MS parents that stood behind Christine Shigaki while she gave her public testimony.  I want to thank you both for specifically acknowledging the concerns at Washington.  Because of the limited time available at the meeting, I wanted to put my thoughts in this email to the both of you.  I know you each have thousands of emails to process, but I was gratified to know that you actually read each of them.  

I am a lifelong Seattle resident and proud product of the public school system in Seattle (Graham Hill ES, Sharples nka Aki Kurose MS, Franklin HS, UW BSEE, UW JD).  I have three children in the school system now, each in the HCC program.  One is at Thurgood Marshall ES (Principal May), one is at Garfield HS (Principal Howard), and one is at Washington MS (Principal Butler-Ginolfi).  Our family is about as invested in the past, current, and future success of the public schools as any family in Seattle.

I have never commented on any school in the district before.  But I feel compelled to do so for the first time after seeing the destruction of a good southend school like Washington.  In short, this is the current situation: 

  • As you know, WMS houses the southend’s HCC middle school program, with over half of the students in HCC.  This year saw the arrival of a new principal.  During the first week, and without any prior warning, the principal proposed online math classes, cut out foreign languages, produced a schedule with enormous class sizes for HCC core classes.  After attending curriculum night, it was clear to me that many teachers were dismayed with the changes and that parents were in open revolt.  Science classes had 15 textbooks to be shared amongst 37 students.  The only explanation from leadership was that “equity” demanded taking away resources from HCC students.  

  • That argument is a red herring.  The parents expect (and in fact demand) that our schools can adequately handle more than a single academic program.  Plenty of other schools in the district can do so.  Thurgood Marshall and  Garfield can do it, why not WMS?  It’s a fallacy that it's a zero sum game - success of gen-ed and HCC programs are not mutually exclusive.  We are simply asking the principal at Washington to do what previous principals have done and other schools have done.  It is not asking her too much to "walk and chew gum at the same time".  Yes, it’s a hard job – no one disputes that.  But if leadership isn’t up to it, it’s time for a change.  Or alternatively, if the principal is unable to support what she perceives HCC represents, perhaps moving the program to another school with a more capable principal is appropriate?

  • The bad situation is exacerbated because of lack of communication.  I have sent 5+ emails to the Principal, to Sara Pritchett, to Mike Starosky, to Superintendent Juneau over the past month.  In each of the emails I offer to meet with them in person for as little as fifteen minutes.  Not a single email has been replied to.  If leadership is inundated with emails from parents on this issue, then that in and of itself is a sign that something is seriously wrong.  If however my emails are the only ones leadership is getting, then that is even more inexcusable that I do not receive the courtesy of a reply.  I think what is lost is that the district works for the parents, not the other way around.  It is part of the job of every employee in the district to be responsive.  Fundamentally to me, it is a lack of courage on the part of leadership to face a parent who has concerns about the education of their child. 

  • Parents deserve clarity on whether or not the district will support the southend HCC program.  As was mentioned tonight, the threat/opportunity of charter schools in Seattle opens up the possibility of competition for students.  Someone at the meeting openly mused about why students are leaving the district.  Lack of clarity and support for programs is certainly a contributing factor.  I think you will find that parents would even accept if the Board decided to no longer have an HCC program – we understand hard choices must be made.  What is not acceptable however is obfuscation and lack of transparency.  Parents need to have clear information so that we can make educational choices.  Having lived through the 70’s an 80’s in the public schools, I know what a death spiral for the public schools looks like.  And it begins with frustration on the part of parents, because once students start to leave the district, it is exceedingly hard to change the momentum.  

  • The Board has talked about equity and justice in the HCC program.  I absolutely agree with recruiting of more students from underrepresented populations.  But why recruit them if we won't support them in the southend where the majority of underrepresented students would be? 

  • Equity also means fairness between the northend HCC pathway and the southend HCC pathway.  Why is it that Hamilton, Adams, and Eagle Staff have increased curriculum options/activities?  Does the southend get a watered down HCC curriculum?  Is this the Districts policy?  If so, please let us know so that we can adjust our educational choices


I hope that my comments have been helpful.  Please take them in the spirit they are given.

With warmest regards,

Chun

Chun M. Ng

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Film: Science Fair

"At some science fairs baking soda volcanos can grab the blue ribbon prize. But at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), a winning project is a design to kill cancer cells. ISEF is the grand championship of science fairs, where students from around the world submit their best research projects and compete in a high-stakes, hormone-filled challenge, which is showcased in full display in the new film, Science Fair."





This looks like it opens here this weekend:
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/films/science-fair/screenings/

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Some Washington M.S. Updates

First, I just returned from the school board retreat. Independently, amidst what was generally a discussion of improving the board/staff working relationship and not policy focused,  WMS was mentioned by both school board members and the superintendent. So awareness of the situation has bubbled all the way up the chain.

Also I received the following communication one from the HCSAC and the second from Principal Butler:

HCSAC Email

"Welcome back and hoping the best for the 2018-19 school year to you all!

I wanted to insure everyone knows there will be a special WMS PTSA meeting with first year Principal Butler Ginolfi on Monday, 9/17 at 7 pm to explain the significant schedule changes for all WMS students. A brief presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.

Robert Njegovan

HCS AC Communication Representative"

School Email


"Dear Washington Middle School families,
First, I want to apologize for the anxiety some students and families experienced the last two weeks. While many schools experience some shifting during the first month of school, a unique set of circumstances involving schedules, staffing, and budgets created a rocky start for many.

I was drawn to WMS because of the energy and commitment to creating a unified school community. I want to honor the work that has been done by families, staff, and our community and continue building on it.

I am writing to provide some updates, clear up some misconceptions, and invite you to join the PTSA meeting on Monday evening.

Class schedule update:  On Tuesday we finalized the remaining schedules and all students have complete class schedules.  Up until Tuesday of this week, the master schedule that was created last year was one the building could not afford or maintain. Between late resignations, hiring challenges, and changes to course offerings this year, we were able to fully fund the schedule we now have in place. We are also fully staffed at all positions with a recent recommendation to HR for our recently vacated Orchestra position.

HC courses: In alignment with our vision of one school community and breaking down siloes between students, we adjusted the course naming of HC ELA and Social Studies to “Honors” courses. The course titles are different than those that were used to describe HC or Spectrum courses previously. In the same way we would never want to specifically call out a Special Education class with a naming designation, HC class names have been updated to reflect a better sense of community within WMS, while maintaining the integrity of the HC program and cohort. No other change has been made to the HC curriculum or class offerings, or the self-contained cohorts. We continue to offer all HC classes that were previously offered including those that lead to high school credit. HC class sizes are consistent with averages from the last three years (35-36 students).

World Languages: With lower student enrollment numbers in our school, Washington Middle School is not able to offer any traditional beginning world language classes to 7th grade students this year. Students who completed Spanish 1A, French 1A, or Japanese 1A in 7th grade last year will be given an opportunity to complete the 1B continuation courses in 8th grade this year. Ms. Krasne will teach two sections of Spanish 1B. We are looking at other alternatives for students to complete French 1B and Japanese 1B because we were not able to hire a teacher for those languages this year. More details will be provided very soon to the specific families affected, as well as the full Washington Middle School community. We will continue to work with the district’s World Languages Program Manager, Michele Aoki (maaoki@seattleschools.org), to expand access to world language classes for all students in the coming year.

Music Program: The music program at WMS has a rich history and is renowned across the district. To expand music access so we can move closer to our goal of ensuring every WMS student has access to take part in our celebrated program, we are now offering four new sections of Music Survey that will increase the number of students participating in our program by more than 100. In order to increase this access, we reduced our band and orchestra proficiency levels to three levels from four, which is in alignment with what Garfield High School—a school with 1700 students enrolled—has in place.

Thank you to the WMS PTSA for inviting me to join the meeting Monday night, September 17th from 7:00-8:00. We want to make sure we can address as many questions as possible, so if you have questions you know you’ll want me to address, please feel free to send them ahead of time. Otherwise, we’ll ask families to submit questions at the beginning of the meeting so staff can gather the questions by topic and hopefully we will get to all the questions. I’ll post an FAQ to the WMS website afterward.

It is an honor to serve as your principal and I look forward to supporting your family this year.
Sincerely,
Emily Butler Ginolfi
Principal, WMS "

Friday, September 14, 2018

K-8 Referral Period for identification ends 9/24

There is a little over a week left until 9/24.

AL pages on the process: SPS Link

Note: the K-8 referall window will open again in May if you miss this year.

There are different dates for H.S. and transfers so check on the page for less common cases.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

2019 National Merit Semifinalists

This years national merit semifinalists were announced and the numbers are much higher this year. Congratulations to all the winners.


Ballard: 3
Garfield: 13
Ingraham:  8


Seattle Times Link with more regional numbers: Seattle Times Link

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Washington M.S. turmoil

This is to track the situation at WMS:

[There's a thread here: on the SaveSeattleSchools blog  also discussing the issues.]

  • Schedules are still not stable as of 9/11
  • Music options have been reduced.
  • World Languages have been drastically reduced.
  • The LA/History classes are being labelled honors but its unclear if the content has changed.
  • Many (all gened?) of the students are being forced to take 2 periods of ELA rather than an elective.

Note Also: https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/in/2015/07/20/a-third-of-george-washington-high-schools-teachers-wont-return/


Apparently the problems at WMS sound fairly similar to chaos Butler left behind at her previous school:

"Butler said she was working around the clock — including scheduling multiple interviews on weekends — to get all the positions filled by the first day of school just two weeks from today.
The same problem happened last year, after Butler was hired late in the summer. Students and parents complained of substitutes filling in for months until teachers were hired."


As a comment: I strongly disagree with much of the logic below which seeks to deflect blame for administration issues on HCC.


"Good evening, Washington Families,
We had a strong start to the week with great community-building taking place in advisories and at an all-school assembly on Wednesday and Thursday.  Due to scheduling problems, Friday was not a strong day at WMS, and for that I am ultimately responsible.

Many of you have questions and concerns about your child's schedule.  To give some context, the schedule was developed by previous administration with the hope that the school would receive an additional teacher allocation, which means that it included a position the school did not have. We were not given additional positions during the summer.  The position we needed but did not have funding for was an English Language Arts position, which is particularly concerning given just 29% of our students not served in any of the district's gifted programs have met grade-level standards.  Throughout the summer, we were also searching for a teacher or teacher(s) for our French and Japanese courses.  We had very few applicants, and, like Garfield High School, we were unable to find anyone to hire.  Given both budgetary and hiring challenges, we decided to use the position to address the bigger priority of not having enough ELA teachers. This was a decision made early on Tuesday, 9/5, after the last lead we had for a teacher fell through and Garfield HS sent out a message to its families stating that first year French and Japanese will not be offered to students until the 2019-2020 school year.  Students who were enrolled in French 1B and Japanese 1B will be given the opportunity to take the course on-line.  Students enrolled in Spanish 1B will take that course.  Despite working late nights, all day on Wednesday and Thursday during Strong Start, and literally all night Thursday evening/early Friday morning, I was unable to get all students fully scheduled for Friday morning.  I’ve worked the majority of today and will work all day tomorrow in order to have them ready when your children come to school on Monday morning.

Many of you have questions about world language at WMS.  I have been impressed by WMS families' interest in and commitment to equity.  While world language is not a content area often thought of on par with English, Math, Social Studies, or Science, it is, unlike PE, music, technology, or fine arts courses, very often a requirement for admissions to college.  Exposure in middle school is important for all students and is a typical part of middle school programs in grade 8.  In reviewing course requests developed in the spring based not only on student interest but also the school's staffing capacity, world language courses were to be taken almost exclusively by students in the Highly Capable program.  83% of the 220 students were slated to take world language were in the HCC program, despite that group representing just over half of our student population; only thirteen were black (20% of our population) and nine Hispanic (just under 10% of our population).  Given the inequity in these figures as well as budgetary issues in other areas, we pushed all enrollment in first level world language to the 2019-2020 school year, and will spend the next budget and scheduling planning year identifying ways to ensure 100% of our 8th graders have access to world language.  
Similarly, our music program has almost exclusively served HCC students.  Seventy-five percent of students who were slated to be enrolled in music this school year were in HCC and just 14% were black or Hispanic, and, due to our offering of four levels of band and orchestra and a course not offered at the high school level in Eclectic Strings, there were no opportunities to offer survey-level music courses which are standard in middle school.  When our famed orchestra teacher resigned two weeks before school started, it was not only a tremendous loss to the community, but an opportunity to increase all students’ access to our incredible music program.  We reduced our performance levels from four to three, which is in alignment with Garfield HS, and while difficult, decided to eliminate the course offering of Eclectic Stings/Fiddlers, which served only 17 students.  Instead, we have opened up four new sections of an innovative, entry-level music course that will enable 120 students who were not previously enrolled in music courses to participate in our music program. 
When you view your child’s schedule next week, keep in mind that we are not only a public school, but also a small, public school.  Washington lost over 500 students in the last year and a half, which was almost half of its general fund or baseline budget.  Additionally, almost 20% of our budget comes from additional Levy and LAP funding, which is exclusively for serving our students living in poverty and not meeting grade-level standards.  That is funding that has not always gone towards that purpose, but in making this year’s revised schedule, it was.  Given our advanced learning programs, we are a middle school that not only needs to offer intervention courses for more than a third of our population that is not meeting grade-level standards, but we also have offered upper-level high school courses atypical for middle school including Algebra 2, Chemistry, and Biology, all without receiving additional funding for students identified as ‘gifted’.  In middle schools, it is typical for all students to take a rotation of PE/health, music, visual art, and computer/technology.  Choice at the middle school level is often limited to whether or not a student opts to be in band, choir, or the general music course.  This is in part because middle school is all about breadth and exposure, while high school begins to be more about depth.  As consistent with past practice, all 6th graders will take Health and PE.  I have worked extremely hard to ensure that all students who requested band, choir, or orchestra were placed in those courses.  Seventh and eighth graders will take a rotation of art, technology, the new music course or PE.  The school may not be able to honor all requests to waive PE courses as was done in the past.  Aside from music, our second largest elective department is PE/Health, with two teachers, and getting physical activity during the school day is beneficial to learning in middle grades in particular with the absence of recess.

I will send another update tomorrow afternoon/evening.  Your patience and understanding is appreciated as we work hard to finish tomorrow.
Mrs. Butler Ginolfi, Principal"

2018-2019 UW Math Circle

Registration for the 2018-19 University of Washington Math Circle is now open.

 The UW Math Circle is open to seventh and eighth grade students from the greater Seattle area. Our weekly meetings are scheduled on Thursday evenings from 5:00-7:00PM at the University of Washington.  Our first meeting will be held on September 27, 2018.

 The purpose of the Math Circle is to explore new and exciting areas of mathematics that are not part of your typical school curriculum in an environment that is both supportive and challenging. It is our expectation that participants will attend our weekly meetings regularly and devote time to weekly homework problems outside of class.

 Costs involved: The UW Math circle is partially supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, as well as generous contributions of several of the Math Circle families. To be able to maintain our minimal level of funding, we have to ask participants to share a portion of the operational expenses of the Math Circle. We suggest a donation of $100 per semester to help cover the very basic needs of the Circle. Any amount your family is able to contribute — large or small — will be a great help.

 To sign up for the math circle, please follow this link:  https://catalyst.uw.edu/webq/survey/pevtsova/360279  To guarantee your spot, please sign up before 11:59pm on September 17, 2018. Registration will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis and may close before September 17 if we reach our capacity.

 Please feel free to direct any questions to Julia Pevtsova (julia@math.washington.edu) or Steve Klee (klees@seattleu.edu). We hope you will be able to join us this year! On behalf of the UW Math Circle, Julia Pevtsova (University of Washington) Steven Klee (Seattle University)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Back to School Season

There are only 2 weeks to go until the start of school.    However, there is a real possibility of a strike again this year.


SPS Statement:
http://www.seattleschools.org/district/calendars/news/what_s_new/sps_and_sea_negotiations_2018

"Scheduled negotiations between the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) ended Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, without a tentative agreement. The hard working joint team has made good progress on many issues of common interest and on the difficult budget and compensation issues that confront us in Seattle Public Schools. 
The team is close to a tentative agreement that provides competitive and sustainable salaries for our educators, while confronting the realities of the district's significant revenue shortfall in 2019-20"

SEA Statement:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/SeattleEA/posts/?ref=page_internal

"A TA has not been reached, however we have continued to talk with SPS. The Special Education Committee bargaining sub committee will meet tomorrow morning to work on contract language. The main bargaining team will be back at the table on Wednesday."

So feel free to discuss this or any general back to school issues here.



Sunday, July 1, 2018

July '18 Open Thread

Its the first summer thread for the year. Depending on activity we may or may not have an August one.


  • As noted in the prev. open thread the Advanced Learning Task Force has started meeting.

Random Math Fun:

Aperiodical is hosting the Big Math Off which looks to be a lot of fun to read.






Humor:

“Crowded schools. Overworked teachers. In today’s education turmoil, can your child obtain the personalized teaching that every child, average or advanced, need?” (1963)



What's on your minds?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

June '18 Open Thread


From the Highly Capable Service Adv. Committee:

The final scheduled HCSAC meeting for this school year will be next this Tuesday 6/5/2018 from 6:30-8:00 at Madison Middle School. 

The agenda includes:

  • Approval of May meeting minutes 
  • Review and approval of the new HCSAC Charge
  • Discussion of recruitment for staff and parent positions for SY 2018-19
  • Discussion of election of officers
  • Update on the Advanced Learning Task Force (ALTF)
  • Farewell to departing members
  • Other items TBD


What's on your minds?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

HCS Advisory Committee Update

"Reminder the newest ALTF (Advanced Learning Task Force) application deadline is on noon on this Thursday, May 24, 2018.

Please complete the following brief application form for consideration to this task force:
https://www.seattleschools.org/families_communities/committees/advanced_learning/task_force_application/

The superintendent of Seattle Public Schools will establish an Advanced Learning Task Force (ALTF) to review and make recommendations to the Superintendent and School Board related to the policies, procedures, and practices of advanced learning programs and highly capable services. This task force will support the district’s work on equitable access to advanced learning as directed in School Board Resolution No. 2017/18-10.

Applicants will be notified by email, if possible, or by phone no later than Friday, June 8, 2018

----------

The final meeting of the HCS AC this year will take place:
June 5, 2018 - Madison Middle School, Library"



Note: Committees have not had a great track record in the district and this one is being run by a staff with particular agendas on behalf  of a deeply divided board. That all said, while I can't spare the time myself it would be really great to have strong parent advocates on this task force.

Friday, May 4, 2018

May '18 Open Thread

We're heading towards the end of the year.  Last night I attended the STEAM fair at Jane Addams which was very impressive. There were a ton of exhibits by students especially from the Stem/Mesa classes. This  has extra resonance for me since I know many of the kids now through a variety of outlets including the ones who have done Math Club with me.

What interesting things are happening in your building?

Note:

The Advanced Learning Task Force page  https://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=38024891 is back up again and the process seems to be restarting.

Monday, April 30, 2018

HCS Advisory Committee Meeting Tomorrow


The 
May meeting of the Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee will take place tomorrow TuesdayMay 1, 6:30 - 8:00 pm - at the John Stanford Center, Room 2700. You can check in at the Security Window for access to the 2nd Floor.

The agenda will include:

- Update from Advanced Learning Office
- Update on the new Advanced Learning Task Force being formed
- Capacity concerns at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School

The final meeting this year will take place:

June 5, Madison Middle School, Library

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Advanced Learning Task Force being formed


The Advanced Learning Task Force provides a District-recognized forum for the parent community and agencies that support children’s advanced learning needs, including Highly Capable.

Role of the Task Force

The primary responsibility of the Advanced Learning Task Force is to provide Seattle Public Schools with parental and community agency perspectives on Advanced Learning and Highly Capable services, including current operation and management, policies, proposed changes, future plans, and goals.
The Advanced Learning Task Force will present its findings, recommendations, and opinions in a final report to the Superintendent. The final report will include a review of all projects and activities, as well as all recommendations of the task force.

Family and Community Representation

The task force will include up to 20 members appointed by the superintendent or his designee.

A minimum of one-third of the members will be parents of children currently designated as advanced learner or highly capable (HC) and/or parents of children who hold the designation of advanced learner or highly capable.

The balance of the council will include: parents of non-advanced learners and non-highly capable children, students, staff representatives, agency personnel, civic groups, and college or university personnel who have an interest in advanced learning and highly capable services for students in Seattle Public Schools.

Expected Timeline

Advanced Learning Task Force is established as a task force to run for one full year. Term of office for members is set at one calendar year (May-May).

Applications are due by April 27, 2018. [Update: this is being pushed back.]


Official Link:
http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=38024891

Lincoln High School Planning Team

There was a meeting on the design of Lincoln H.S. and announcements of several of the design team members. I don't see anyone representing Mathematics so I assume there will be some more folks named in the future.

https://www.seattleschools.org/schools/high_schools/lincoln_high_school/staff_bios/


  • John Fox  (ELA)
  • Jen Fox (Science)
  • Daniel Noyes (SS)
  • Michaela Peterson (Science)
  • Stephanie Taylor (ELA)
  • Katie Hathaway (Spanish)


I wasn't able to attend the in person meeting so if anyone who was there wants to offer up their impressions that would most appreciated.

Monday, April 23, 2018

SENG conferences coming up this Spring

We wanted to be sure you let your blog followers know about the upcoming SENG regional conference in Seattle (this is a first!  a great opportunity for families who can't travel to the annual SENG conference).  Also, we are putting on another workshop for parents of gifted children this June.  Thanks so much for helping to get the word out to all who might benefit.  Below are links, and I've also attached flyers if that's easier for you.

Thanks!
Anne

May 5Saturday:  SENG comes to Seattle!  Come learn and connect at this 1-Day SENG mini-conference right here in Seattle:  http://sengifted.org/seattle-mini-conference/

June 9,  Saturday:  Gifted Together hosts a half-day parenting workshop for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children:  https://www.seattlerelationshiptherapy.com/GiftedParentingSupport.en.html  



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

School Assignment Results Available

The district has updated the school assignment lookup tool with the results of open enrollment:


If you haven't received notification of the results and you have your student id in hand you can check it here.


The overall waitlists are up as well:

http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Admissions/School%20Choice/2018-19_Waitlist_Report/2018-19_Waitlist-Summary_ADA.pdf

Offhand: the waitlist at Ingraham is quite short so it looks like the district did expand the quota (or less people applied than normal) and there are some odd at least to me waitlists at Fairmount Park. I wouldn't expect that many non West Seattle families to have applied there.

[Update: I missed the AL notification that FP was full and some West Seattle families would be assinged to TM which explains the waitlist numbers there.]

Monday, April 2, 2018

April '18 Open Thread

The big news for the week and really the year as a whole is the pending announcement of the new superintendent.


HCSAC Meeeting

The April meeting of the Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee will take place tomorrow - TuesdayApril 3, 6:30 - 8:00 pm - at the John Stanford Center, Room 2700. You can check in at the Security Window for access to the 2nd Floor.

Remaining meetings this year will take place:


May 1, JSCEE, Room 2700
June 5, Madison Middle School, Library

College Accceptance Success Stories

I just heard from a friend that some of this year's IHS seniors have been accepted to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Dartmouth, Penn and MIT.  Congratulations to all of these seniors.

[I'll add any other school/acceptance info that people post/send my way.]


Transportation Letter Snafu
If you've received a letter indicating your child was not eligible for bus service next year its probably in error and the transportation department will be sending out an update in the mail.


What's on your minds?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Principal Turnover at Washington and Hamilton Middle Schools

In a coincidence both Susan Follmer and Tip Blish are stepping down this year.  Now is the time for parents  to get organized and push for a voice in the replacement process. There are few things more critical to a building's success than its principal.

Dear Washington Middle School Community,As you may be aware, Principal Susan Follmer will be retiring at the end of this school year.  Principal Follmer has worked hard to serve the Washington community for the past four years and we are thankful for her commitment and dedication to our school community.Looking forward, we are beginning the process of selecting the next principal for Washington Middle School for the 2018 – 2019 school year. The principal selection process is a great opportunity for the whole community to revisit priorities, values and hopes as they participate in the selection of a new principal. This letter articulates Seattle Public Schools’ hiring process for principals as well as the specific timeline for your school’s hiring process.
The Seattle Public Schools Principal Hiring ProcessThe following are the guidelines Seattle Public Schools uses when hiring for a principal:
  • The Superintendent has hiring authority at all times and may appoint or move a principal (or assistant principal) at any time.
  • Per the Principals’ Association Collective Bargaining Agreement, we consider the interest of principals and assistant principals for horizontal or vertical movement. The Chief of Schools reviews the requests and can make recommendations to the Superintendent if the person is a strong fit for the school.
  • If the Superintendent does not make an appointment or approve a transfer, Human Resources posts the position to candidates in our principal leadership pool. Internal and external applicants apply to be in the principal pool starting in January. From there, the school’s Executive Director of Schools works with the school’s Building Leadership Team (BLT) to form a hiring team that screens applications, interviews candidates and recommends their top 2-3 candidates to the superintendent. The superintendent then makes the final decision. Hiring teams typically consist of the following:
  • Elementary School – one primary teacher, one secondary teacher, two parents, one specialist (SPED, ELL, PE, Art, etc.), the administrative secretary or a classified representative, 1-2 school or central office administrators, and one to two executive directors. The total would be 9-10 members on the team.
  • Secondary School – three core instruction teachers (or two core teachers and one specialist), three parents/guardians or community representatives, the administrative secretary or a classified representative, one instructional assistant, 1-2 school or central office administrators, and 1-2 executive directors. The total would be 11 or 12 members on a team.
  • There are times where the Superintendent will recommend a candidate be hired with an “interim” status. This usually takes place when a position has not filled by a specific date, usually in mid to late August, or a position comes open after the student school year has started.
The Timeline for Hiring a Principal for Washington Middle SchoolWe are moving to open hiring for Washington Middle School. The following is the approximate timeline:
  • Mid-February:  We will post the principal position for applicants who have been screened into the SPS principal pool.
  • Early March: Sarah Pritchett Executive Director of Schools, will work with the staff and community to determine desired characteristics of the new principal.
  • Early/Mid-March: Sarah Pritchett will work with the Building Leadership Team (BLT) to form a formal interview team made up of staff and families.
  • Mid-March: The interview team will select candidates to interview, interview those candidates and then select 2-3 finalists. The superintendent will interview the finalists, make the final decision and announce the new principal to the community.
We are looking for parents who are interested in serving on the interview team who represent the diversity of our school community. If you are interested in being considered for the interview team, please contact Assistant Principal, Devin Murphy, at dlmurphy@seattleschools.org who will share your names with the Building Leadership Team.Sincerely,Mike Starosky, Ed.D.Chief of Schools, Assistant Superintendent



January 31, 2018
Dear Hamilton International Middle School Community,
I am sharing an announcement I made to the Hamilton staff on Tuesday: This summer, my family is moving overseas, and I will resign as principal effective July 1. This is a wonderful opportunity for our two daughters for Bridget and me; her work is taking us to London for two years, and we are thrilled to share an immersive, international experience. But it is taking me away from the very best work I can imagine. 
I am extremely optimistic about Hamilton and about the direction we are headed but bitter I won’t be here to share in its future and work alongside you, the educators here, and, best of all, the wonderfully diverse, creative, quirky, inspiring Hamilton students. 
I will leave a school and community that’s in a great place – not where we want to be but clear on where we’re headed. Our students are performing at the highest levels of middle school students anywhere around and that’s been increasing year over year since I got here. That as true for our students of color as it is for our white students even though we know that the gap between those two groups of students remains unacceptable. 
I am especially encouraged by the leadership and focus of our teachers and support staff. They are strong educators individually but have been increasingly working together to make a Hamilton education even better for every student who walks in our doors. That’s taken the form of collaborating on aligning curriculum in math and science as well as work on making this school a place of learning that is welcome and is place where each student and family feels they belong. 
As you likely know, Hamilton is supported by a group of family volunteers on the PTSA and the Friends of Music at Hamilton International whose work is infused with thoughtfulness, innovation, care, and commitment to what we do here.
Hamilton has a bright future and an amazing community of people to take it there.
Jon Halfaker, Executive Director of Schools, will lead the process to find the next Hamilton principal. He knows the school and its community very well. As soon as that process is prepared, he or I will let you know.
In so many ways, I wish I were not writing this letter—if I listed the ways, this already long letter would be even longer. I love this work, love this school, and love its community. And it will be personally very hard to leave it. It’s small but important comfort that I will hand over the keys to a great, great middle school.
I look forward to seeing you over the next six months,
Sincerely,
Tip

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March '18 Open Thread

March brings the beginning of the district and school wide budgeting process.  I'm hoping we'll see more clarity on the structure of High School as well.


Board Working Session Agenda on 24 Credit Planning:


There are several different scenarios discussed in this document.  I snipped only one of them above so definitely take a read if you're interested. Its a bit unclear how this process is working since I've heard but not verified that several High Schools are rolling out schedule changes prior to this being fully adopted.

https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/17-18%20agendas/20180228/20180228_Packet_WS_ResolutionGunSafety_Budget_24Credits.pdf


Running Start: 

"Community colleges had been counting on more generous state dollars from Washington’s public schools to help fix a funding imbalance in the state’s dual-credit program known as Running Start. 
But a budget bill passed by the state Senate could undo that possibility."

Seattle Times Link

New Assignment Plan Task Force


Seattle Public Schools is seeking parents, community members, and students to join district staff in the upcoming Student Assignment Plan Task Force as we review the policies and procedures around student enrollment, assignment and school choice and develop a set of recommendations for improvements that support the success of all students across the district. 
The Student Assignment Plan Task Force will carry out two key objectives:
Review the Student Assignment Plan and most recent Student Assignment Transition Plan and Develop recommendations for an equity focused enrollment and student assignment process.
To learn more about the task force, please visit the Student Assignment Plan Task Force webpage. Applications are due on Mon., March 19, 2018. Applicants will be notified no later than March 23, 2018. Please email questions to enrollmentplanning@seattleschools.org 
Its a bit unclear from the description what the scope of the work is and how much his affects HCC but it may be of interest.

March HC Advisory Committee Meeting

The March meeting of the Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee will take place tomorrow - Tuesday, March 6, 6:30 - 8:00 PM - at the Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Library, 1330 N 90th St, Seattle, WA 98103.


- Update from Advanced Learning
- Continued work on the Program Review Tool

Upcoming meetings will take place:

April 3, JSCEE, Room 2700
May 1, JSCEE, Room 2700
June 5, Madison Middle School, Library

Math Counts Scholarship
"We know that an experience in MATHCOUNTS can be transformative and incredibly meaningful for a student. MATHCOUNTS can change opinions about mathematics. It can lead a student to a career in science, engineering, technology or mathematics. It can build critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are invaluable to success in the future. In short, it can help a student realize no less than his or her full potential.
The MATHCOUNTS Alumni Scholarship is a $3,000 award presented to an outstanding alumnus/a whose experience in a MATHCOUNTS program had an impact on his/her outlook on math and influenced his/her academic or professional pursuits. Created in 2014, this scholarship ensures that MATHCOUNTS can recognize the work of talented alumni and continue to expand their academic and professional opportunities."
https://www.mathcounts.org/mathcounts-alumni-scholarship


Pi Day Video




What's on your minds?

UW Math Hour Lectures

We are excited to announce our spring series of Math Hour lectures, aimed at middle- and junior high school students and their families.  The dates and titles for the talks are:
March 25, 2018
Henry Cohn, Microsoft Research -- "Dense sphere packings in a million dimensions"

April 15, 2018
Jennifer McLoud-Mann, UW Bothell -- "One Tile at a Time: Mathematicians' Quest to Discover All Convex Polygonal Tessellations"

May 20, 2018
David Pengelley, Oregon State University -- "All tangled up and searching for the beauty of symmetry"

For more information about the Math Hour talks and the UW Math Hour Olympiad, which will be held on June 3, please visit our website 

All talks take place on the main UW campus in Savery Hall room 260.  Information about parking, along with a campus map, can also be found on our website.
The Math Hour lectures are aimed at students in grades 6-10, along with well-behaved parents, teachers, or older siblings/friends.  The lectures are free to everyone.  No registration is required. 
Flyers for the first talk and for the entire spring series are attached.

We hope to see you there!
Sincerely,
Steven Klee (klees@seattleu.edu)
Seattle University Department of Mathematics
and
Julia Pevtsova (julia@math.washington.edu)
University of Washington Department of Mathematics

Friday, February 16, 2018

New Facebook group for High School Parents

Some parents have recently setup a new facebook group specifically for high school HCC discussions. I assume it will operate similarly to the elementary and middle school ones and should be of use to many of you. (Note: there usually is a verification process to join, make sure to accurately fill out any questions.)

If you interested sign up here: HCC High School Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/1159951057475090

HCC Middle School Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/658956350817901

HCC Elementary Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SeattleHCCelementary/

If you have other groups you'd like to publicize (and have appropriate permission) I'm happy to add to the list.

As a side note, I think this blog plays a unique role given the many social media options and I hope others feel the same and keep coming here as well.



Thursday, February 1, 2018

February '18 Open Thread

I'm very relieved after last night's board meeting.  The recap for everyone who didn't tune in is:

  • The last boundary map F4.3 was adopted. 
  • Lincoln will serve as the north end HCC pathway and the Language Immersion pathway.
  • Most of the big boundary adjustments are in the Lincoln area. The side effects around the rest of the map were minimized versus some of the earlier iterations.
  • Re:grandfathering:  students who choose the pathway high school next year are to be grandfathered, current W. Seattle students at Washington are also to be grandfathered at Garfield. 
  • The resolution passed asking the staff to report back on improving identification and increasing advanced learning in every high school next year. Based on that work, the board may revisit the need for a pathway. So basically, the arguments will continue next year but hopefully with better supporting data.

So hopefully, everyone has enough information to make an informed choice for next year.  Open enrollment will start on February 5th. District Link

Things I'm tracking
  • NGSS Science Standards
  • The new superintendent search
  • Lincoln H.S. rollout.
  • Bus Strike

The February meeting of the Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee will take place tomorrow - Tuesday, February 6,:30 - 8:00 PM - at the John Stanford Center for Education Excellence, Room 2776.

A code for the elevator/door code is available at the security window in the Lobby.

The agenda will include:

- Recap on High School Boundary changes
- Updates from new schools: Madison, Robert Eagle Staff and Decatur
- Update from Advanced Learning on the eligibility process
- Continued work on the Program Review Tool


Future meetings will take place:
March 6, Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, Library
April 3, JSCEE, Room 2700
May 1, JSCEE, Room 2700
June 5, Madison Middle School, Library


What's on your minds?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Notes from the Ballard Meeting on new Science Standards

I received some updates from the folks (mostly at Ballard) organizing around the proposed High School Science realignment,

Background:

District Page:

"The current and new course sequence are: 
Current Requirements
  • 9th Grade: Physical Science
  • 10th Grade: Biology and Biology B
  • 11th Grade: none
New Science Requirements for Class of 2021 and Beyond
  • 9th Grade: Physics A and Chemistry A
  • 10th Grade: Biology A and Biology B
  • 11th Grade: Physics B, Chemistry B
  • 11th Grade: Advanced Path: HC, AP or IB science
  • 11th Grade: Alternative Path: Science Elective or Career and Technical Education
Because high school students will now have to take three years of science instead of two, the High School Alignment Team has already begun re-arranging standards taught in 9th and 10th grade to help prepare students to successfully take the third year of science and pass the state science exam.

The Alignment Team bundled the standards into six one-semester courses. Each course includes content in either biology, chemistry or physics (Biology A, Biology B, Chemistry A, Chemistry B, Physics A and Physics B). Embedded in each course are the new earth and space science standards as well as engineering, technology and application skills that are a part of the new state standards.

Physics A and Chemistry A are conceptual in content, and the math covered in each would be what students had taken to that point in ninth grade. According to school board policy 2026 and superintendent procedure 2026SP, the A and B courses are not new, but rather a re-alignment of current chemistry, physics and biology course content to align to the new standards, and therefore do not go through a review process."


Link to notes from the recent meeting at Ballard: http://bit.ly/2EeIZvK

Facebook group organizing around the issue


Google drive with info:


Currently contains:
  • Letter from a Ballard Science Teacher
  • Response from the district Alignment team.

Here is a signup form (mainly to get emails to add to the Google Group): https://goo.gl/forms/9pF43lKL5oZkWA7t2