Sunday, March 22, 2009

How are the design teams doing?

I thought it was time for a new thread to see how people evaulate the developments so far. Discuss on.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like the Lowell design team has run into trouble:

Parents planning on staying at Lowell next year may want to watch a few comments from the last school board meeting:

At 21 minutes into part 1 Bonnie Wilson (a current TT Minor parent and a member of the Lowell BLT and Design Team) speaks. It sounds like there are major financial disparities between TMarshall and Lowell. I don't know if everything she says is correct, but I do know that some of it is.

Like Bonnie, and another poster here, I will be shocked if Lowell isn't closed next year as part of the new assignment plan. The district doesn't appear to be putting any money in to the building.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the budgets are final yet. I've been trying to find this information (anywhere), but can't. Along with this, I don't think a decision has been made yet about which Lowell APP teachers will be staying at Lowell vs. moving to T. Marshall. Has anyone heard anything?

Anonymous said...

Bonnie says the budget for Lowell is $139,200 while the budget for T.Marshall is around $400,000.

Anonymous said...

I just watched this bit of the board meeting and would love to know where this budget information is coming from. As it is presented by Bonnie Wilson, I'm concerned about next year.

Also - I think teachers now know where they are going next year. It hasn't been made public, per se, but I have heard from a few teachers that they know where they are at next year.

Ben said...

Just got information about which Lowell APP teachers are going to Marshall and which are staying put:

From the email:

Continuing at Lowell are Teresa Sherwood, Erika Dore, Althea Chow/Tamra Hauge (job share), Allison Fenzl/Kristen Anderson (job share), Dustin Wood, Candace Jacobsen, Caroline Perkins, Bob Schilperoort, Theresa Roth, and Margaret Saunders.

Moving to TMarshall are Cindy Numata, Ashley Priest, Susan Moon, Cathy Villanueva, Arlene Vosti, Ann Gilpin, Mary MacDonald, Will Miller, Al Dunlap, and Spring Zoog.

Now, being the parent of a Lowell first-grader who will be attending Marshall next year, I don't know anything about any teachers other than my son's current teacher. But this pisses me off.

I think his teacher (Sherwood) is wonderful. I really like her (and so does my son) and I really think she knows what she's doing. But at that last big meeting Lowell, with the board there, she stood up and spoke in praise of the split. She wasn't just resigned to it, or willing to see the positives in it. She was four-square in favor of it. But she's staying at Lowell? I can only assume that wasn't her decision. Because if it was, I'm feeling even more sold out than I did before.

Ben said...

Wait. I just checked out those names on the Lowell site. Three 2nd grade APP teachers are moving to Marshall?

Shannon said...

Can someone who knows the staff provide some feedback on it. Does this seem a fair division of expertise?

Anonymous said...

Maybe they won't be all teaching the same grades as this year? Because otherwise it's a perfect 10/10 split when you account for the two job share duos at Lowell next year.

Off the top of my head, I know that some of those moving to TM are ones I'd heard supported the split. That's only rumor though, and I wouldn't put much stock in rumor as meaning much of anything.

Anonymous said...

My son's teacher is not listed here for either school -- she teaches first grade and it is her first year -- so it may be the case that not all teachers were offered a spot, or that some opted not to remain at either school.

gavroche said...

At first glance, I don't see a pattern or logic to the choices here. Here's the basic information, though, using the current 2008-09 teaching assignments:

Continuing at Lowell are Teresa Sherwood (1st grade), Erika Dorje (1st grade), Althea Chow/Tamra Hauge (job share) (2nd grade), Allison Fenzl/Kristen Anderson (job share) (3rd grade), Dustin Wood (3rd grade), Candace Jacobsen (4th grade), Caroline Perkins (4th grade), Bob Schilperoort (4th grade), Theresa Roth (5th grade), and Margaret Saunders (3rd grade).

= 2 first grades, ONE second grade, 3 third grades, 2 fourth grades and JUST ONE fifth grade

Moving to TMarshall are Cindy Numata (2nd grade), Ashley Priest (2nd grade), Susan Moon (2nd grade), Cathy Villanueva (3rd grade), Arlene Vosti (3rd grade), Ann Gilpin (4th grade), Mary MacDonald (4th grade), Will Miller (5th grade), Al Dunlap (5th grade), and Spring Zoog (5th grade).

= ZERO first grades, 3 second grades, 2 third grades, 2 fourth grades and THREE fifth grades

Clearly this doesn't make sense. Only one second and fifth grade APP at Lowell, and zero first grades and three fifth grade APP classes at TM?

What happened to the idea of a 'cohort' that even the district's APP web site touts as important for academic cohesion? One class of one grade does not make up a cohort.

Will there will be more hires --or will some teachers switch to a different grade? Or will some of the job shares be divided?

As for 'resistance' vs. 'collabos' - I am also surprised that T. Sherwood is staying at Lowell. I do see good teachers in both groups. And a mix of new and experienced teachers.

What I find the most odd about all of this is, how can the district predict how many classes they will need until after enrollment is over? With walk zone inconsistencies, bell-times vs. start times uncertainties, gen ed siblings not being offered transportation to the APP schools, uniform brouhahas, rumors of attrition all around, I think it's anyone's guess who will be going to either school when the music stops.

Unless, of course, the district has a Master Plan it isn't telling us about.

Anonymous said...

Many of the teachers have taught different grades in the past at Lowell. Ms. Moon taught 1st grade 3 years ago, and Ms. Numata had a 1-2 grade split and Ms. Saunders taught 5th grade last year.

I don't know Ms. Priest's background, but it seems like there is a higher percentage of higher seniority teachers going to TM.

Anonymous said...

Going back to the comment earlier about the budget, in Julie's email tonight, she mentioned that TM budget includes Title I funds.

I thought Title I was associated with the percentage of FRL, which was getting reduced with the transfer of Lowell kids to TM?

Anonymous said...

Capital Hill Dad-reduced Title 1 funds doesn't mean "no" Title 1 funds. Obviously, they expect there to be enough FRL students to continue to receive the funding.

Also, you're right about teachers moving around grade-wise.My daughter's 3rd grade teacher at her old school teaches 4th grade this year. A fifth grade teacher last year had been a 4th grade teacher the year before.

It's ridiculous to assume that the grades the teachers are currently teaching will define what grades will be taught at Lowell and TM next year. It's been explained at more than one meeting that because every kid who tests into APP and wants to go gets a seat, that the numbers of classes per grade are fluid yearly-like the late addition of an extra 4th grade class this year.

I am sure that after the open enrollment ends they'll look at how many kids from each grade will be at each school and assigne teachers based on that.It's not strictly a Lowell/TM thing.

Ben said...

Yes, we all know that APP enrollment is fluid and predicting how many students will be in each class is tricky. Of course, how this is handled in a cohoused situation has never been clarified. What do you do when there are enough APP students for, say, 2 1/2 3rd grade classrooms?

Anonymous said...

I think the split looks pretty fair, from what I know of the various teachers. My kids among them have had eight of those teachers, four of whom are going to Lowell and four to Thurgood Marshall. Seven of the eight did well by my kids, and the eighth (whom I admit I don't like very much) does have some strong points as a teacher. The two very best teachers my kids have had are each at one of the schools.

Anonymous said...

Ben, at the last PTA meeting, that issue came up and there was a muddy message that the schools would be equalized "creatively." Which might mean that Lowell spots will be offered the kids who live closer to Lowell but are assigned to Thurgood Marshall. But who knows?

Ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Funding differences by the numbers:

According to the SPS budget allocations, Thurgood Marshall is going from $259,600 (08/09) to $240,300 (09/10) in Title I funds. They are also losing about $20,000 in LAP funds.

TT Minor is going from $186,300 in Title I funds to $0. Zero. Zip. Nothing.

The total Title I funds being lost due to school closures and the change in the FRL threshold is $1.5M district wide (summation of Title I funds received by affected schools last year).

Anonymous said...

Here is the link for SPS budget allocations:

Steve said...

So, why did Lowell not receive Title I funding while T. Marshall did? If, as someone write above, it is based on FRL students, aren't these two schools in roughly the same category with the changes in student population next year?

Anonymous said...

The FRL threshold for Title I has been raised this year from 40% FRL to 55% FRL. This was a district decision, as schools aren't required to take Title I funds until FRL reaches 75% (under NCLB). Based on projected enrollment, Lowell won't meet the 55% threshold next year.

Several other schools are losing Title I funding because of this change - according to the budget info on SPS' website, BF Day, Graham Hill, Sanislo, AS#1, and Broadview are also losing Title I funds.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...I'm not sure how %FRL is calculated. If you look at the TM numbers on the budget allocations the FRL is 51-54%. Lowell's is somewhere from 48-52%, depending on what numbers you use. Very confusing.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the SPS Goldbook (instructions for doing the budget), it outlines which schools get Title I funds. And TM is getting the funds for 2010 because the FRL percentage is calculated on the current population, not the estimated incoming population.

For 09-10, the Goldbook shows that TM has 245 students that qualify out of a total of 271 students, or a percentage of 86.72% which gives TM $240K Title I funds while Lowell has only 34 out of 531 that qualifies. The bummer for Lowell is that TTM is closing and the Title I funds they would have qualified for ($186k last year)don't transfer over and just disappear.

So for this upcoming year, TM will get a big Title I bonus of $240k, but for 2011, Title I funds will also disappear for TM unless the threshold drops back to 40%.

Here's a link to the SPS Goldbook (section 3 shows the schools that get Title I):

Steve said...

Thanks for all the information. Can anyone say what programs/services the incoming students from TT Minor will lose as a result of Lowell not getting Title I funds? If 55% is the threshold, and enrollment for Lowell goes as it has in the past (new students + most of the returning students), it's not that likely that Title I funding will return for 2011 either.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the split supposed to be equitable? Is there any movement to equalize this enormous funding disparity? If only for one year?

Shannon said...

I was reading the minutes of the last APP committee meeting and wonder if anyone has any comments on the number of kids testing into APP this year (both registered and not currently in SPS).

I wondered whether the low number of 2nd and 3rd graders was within the normal range.

Kindergartners - 85 students
1st graders - 30 students
2nd graders - 26 students
3rd graders - 15 students
4th graders - 16 students
5th graders - 57 students
6th graders - 31 students
7th graders - 10 students
Total - 270 students

Shannon said...

Sorry, I meant the lower number of 3rd and 4th graders.

Anonymous said...

3rd and 4th grade looks typical - those are the kids that will be entering 4th and 5th grade next year, respectively. We are in the 5th grade this year and we were new in 3rd grade. Our class gained the following each year:

3rd grade: 27
4th grade: approx. 8
5th grade: approx. 3

The large number is kindergarten (entering 1st grade) - that's a huge number.

Keep in mind that not all that tested in will come (although we are keeping our fingers crossed for every one of the 57 5th graders since our cohort is so small).

Seattlehorn said...

What is typical? There is a little historical data available online here:

No data for 2007-8.

Compare these APP-eligible data
"grade is grade will enroll in fall"

Grade 2004-5/2005-6/2008-9
1st 40/58/85
2nd 100/18/30
3rd 50/29/26
4th 20/28/15
5th 44/52/16

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a sense of approx # kids expected @ Lowell (or at TM, tho I'm more interested in Lowell, that's where we'll be) by grade for 2008 - 09, broken out by APP, GenEd, and SpEd? Latest projected enrollment figure total fr GKing per the APP AC notes is 408 total. It seems that, at least for the 3rd and up grades,t hey should have a pretty good sense at this pt, although wont know for sure til Open ENrollemnt closes. ANy thoughts?

Steve said...

I recall reading that in any given year, 80% of the kids eligible for APP actually enroll. If this percentage holds for the kindergarten class, that means about 68 kids will enroll. I think there's something like a 60/40 APP split between Lowell/Marshall, so if the 68 students hold up, that would make 41 first graders to Lowell, and 27 to Marshall. Two smallish classes at Lowell, and one big relatively big one at Marshall?

Seattlehorn said...

While the 80% might hold, it doesn't mean 80% at each grade. I've heard that many parents do not send their eligible kids until 3rd grade (as it was explained to me, this is due to parents' increasing realization of the value of APP as their child ages, coupled with parents' increasing ability to "let go").

Stats anyone?

Robert said...


On the save our schools blog someone was posting that there was a lot of questions about the test/proctoring this year for intermediate grades. Not sure but that may be why so few qualified this year.

Monica H said...

What about this I received from another Lowell parent?
"It has come to my attention that, despite being told otherwise, there is a chance there will be no "standard" classrooms for our kids next year. From what I understand, the Design Team is still considering creating all multi-age classrooms at the 1st and 2nd grade level. I have rather strong feelings regarding this, and before I talk to the design team, I thought it would be better to have an idea how the rest of the people involved feel.

There are several different classroom styles which I will briefly explain (sorry to those of you who already are in the know!)

Standard: What we have this year. Kids of varying abilities all the same age.
Multi-age: Kids from two different grade levels (in equal numbers). Generally the teacher teaches grade specific curriculum one year, then switches for the next. i.e. Next year the classes would be mixed 1st/2nd and the teacher would teach the science and social studies units from the 2nd grade curriculm (since we already did first grade) and the following year the remaining kids (now 2nd graders) and the incoming 1st graders would study the first grade curriculum. Areas such as reading, math and writing would hopefully be adjusted to each child's needs. The kids usually have the same teacher 2 years in a row.
Split: Kids are from two different grade levels-not necessarily in equal numbers. The two different grade level curricula are taught to their respective kids. Sometimes kids travel to another class to receive instruction in science, social studies or wherever necessary. You may have the same teacher two years in a row depending on if another split is needed the following year, and which grade the teacher teaches the following year. Often, schools try to ensure kids aren't in a split two years in a row, unless requested by the parent.
Looping: The teacher remains with the same kids for 2 years and the teacher teaches a different curriculum each year (1st this year, 2nd next). After the 2nd year, they return to the lower grade where the process begins again. Kids are all in the same grade.

Part of my concern regarding the Multi-age is the fact that I don't feel my kids were particularly challenged this year and I envision it being harder to do when there are 1st graders in the class. This is why I included the second question on my brief, 2 question survey.

I'd appreciate you taking a minute to fill out the survey so I can have more to go on when I next contact Greg and the Design Team.

Treena, Julita, Jana, Mark/Diane and Monica-if you know folks from your classes who will be at Lowell, could you please forward this to them, the more responses I get the better idea I have if this is worth pursuing.

Thanks all-I'll be out of town until Sunday without internet access, but if you have questions and get back to me today I should be able to answer them before I leave tomorrow.


Are we being hoodwinked after all???!!!!