Monday, November 1, 2010

Kay Smith-Blum at Lowell Nov 5

Lifting this from the comments, Lendlees writes:
Don't forget that Board member Kay Smith-Blum is coming to Lowell this Friday (11/5) for the "Coffee with Gregory" time (9:30 am). She's always a breath of sanity and is a big advocate of APP.
Kay Smith-Blum is the School Board Director for District 5 (Central Area, including Lowell). If you can't make this 9:30am Nov 5 meeting at Lowell Elementary but want to talk with Kay Smith-Blum, she has another meeting Nov 13 at 10am at the Douglas-Truth Library.

Also, Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has her last coffee chats tonight 6-7pm at Mercer Middle School and tomorrow (Tue Nov 2) at North Beach Elementary from 8:10am-10am.

Update: Good summary of the Nov 5 Kay Smith-Blum meeting in the comments.


lendlees said...

Jen asked for a report on the meeting yesterday. Caveat: I didn't take notes so much of this will be from the top of my head, and I had to leave early. Hopefully there are other folks who can fill in the gaps.

Topics covered:
1) The split and how it's working (or not) at the four schools. Lots of discussion on how Hamilton and Washington were not equal, how Hamilton's teachers are not used to working with APP kids, how Hamilton's library isn't set up for APP, and how there isn't critical mass at either school to offer advanced math. In addition Hamilton is not offering very advanced math in 6th grade as they do not have an advanced enough course at 8th grade. And, finally, the music program at Hamilton is in jeopardy because they did not plan properly in the rebuild and there is no space for it.

2) An intriguing question posed by KSB: Should the Superintendent be able to continue deciding program placement or should it go back to the Board. Read into that one as you will, but I think there might be some changes afoot downtown.

3) Garfield and Lowell overcrowding are issues and there are long-term and short-term solutions. Long-term solutions: find other locations and actually build up a program there (North APP in the North and some schools like Marshall were suggested); grow and build a good IB-APP program (like there is on the East side) at Ingram; rebuild Lincoln as a new high school; rebuild the Mann Building and move NOVA back there; Raise the threshold of APP eligibility (think about whether all of us would be OK with our kids getting re-tested in this scenario); have three feeders for APP (North, Central, South--lots of discussion on lack of critical mass)

Short-term solutions: Get rid of choice seats at Garfield; change the boundaries at Garfield and Lowell to reduce the attendance area size; move elementary APP to new schools coming on-line up north (but we all know there's not enough capacity at the new schools)

4) We did air our issues with her about how APP has not gotten any of the things were were promised in the split so we have great distrust of any 'promises' from the district. And if they can't do elementary/middle school split properly, what makes anyone think they can do a high school split any better. We did bring up the fact that many of us live near almost-as-good-as-Garfield schools (Roosevelt/Ballard) and would choose those over an unproven, unsupported APP North high school and that staff needs to survey and understand how that would then impact those overcrowded schools.

I'm sure I've forgotten stuff, so hopefully other attendees can add more.

lendlees said...

Oh, and a couple of other items:

1) MAP discussion and how we lose our library/librarian three months of the year for a test. KSB is pushing to have a MAP proctor put into the core WSS (staffing standards per school). Also, a discussion on how inappropriate the test is for K-2 students.

2) Potentially losing the Pre-K program at Lowell to free up some rooms. The district is looking to use AS1 (Pinehurst) as a central Preschool location.

I'm sure I'll remember other items...

Anonymous said...

I think lendlees description is quite thorough. I would add that I was very surprised had how badly the split is working at Hamilton. It sounds like there is open hostility of the program at the school. I have heard before that the principal does not like the program, but I had not heard that some of the teachers teaching APP kids don't like it. One parent reported that a teacher actually told an APP kid that they didn't like APP. That's great. Blame the kids for this.

I also wanted to say more about KSB. While her frankness is the proverbial "breath of fresh air," I am worried that she is being bamboozled by other board members. She said that she thought she was changing opinions about APP in at least two other board members and maybe a third. Aside from the two new members, these people all voted for these changes to be made and are not following through to see how the splits are working. I think actions speak louder than words, and the board has showed over and over that they will do whatever MGJ wants. Carr and DeBell both have APP-qualified kids and chose not to send their kids to the APP schools. Neighborhood education worked for their kids, why wouldn't it work for everyone?

Jen said...

Thanks so much, Lendlees!

Maria Renninger said...

I attended the 11/5 KSB chat. I'm concerned about the prospect of moving n-end APP out of Lowell. KSB said she doesn't anticipate that happening for 2011-12, & I understand that Bob Vaughan has no indication that it will. However I contacted a friend who consulted on the student assignment plan. My friend's understanding is that moving n-end elementary APP is definitely being considered for 2011-12 though perhaps not by Kay or Bob; my friend also said that executive staff & the board understand that Bob doesn't want to undertake that for next year but that the task may still come his way, in addition to moving the north-end APP Garfield cohort. So it appears to me that at the least, opinions vary among the well-informed regarding what's on the table for 2011-12. Not surprisingly!

I'm concerned about the district considering this any time in the next few years, when they are anticipating a *decrease* in the already-stretched-thin budget in that timeframe (1 - 3 years). And that they're looking at moving the north-end APP out of Garfield in the same timeframe. Even if they stagger the moves by a year or two, it seems like it'll be a big hit to the integrity of the APP program. E.g., building an APP-elementary library collection, providing needed supplies (dictionaries, globes, calculators) and so on in a new location seems...expensive. And that'd be true even with a principal who welcomed the program and buy-in from an existing PTSA to help fund APP needs... etc. Thoughts?

Maria Renninger said...

More feedback - I heard back from an acquaintance who's on SPS staff: Her perspective is very similar to that of my friend (see earlier post). She added that KSB may be less in the loop with other board members due to being new. She strongly advised that we develop relationships with board members in our home districts so that we can have a fuller view. She also advised that Bob V is not as included in discussions or decision-making as we (APP parents) could wish, and that it'd be wise to advocate for his fuller involvement, that as staff rather than parent he can advocate in different ways, that he's a good advocate for APP, incl for reasoned rather than rash APP planning, but that he needs a better place at the table.

Lori said...

Carr and DeBell both have APP-qualified kids and chose not to send their kids to the APP schools. Neighborhood education worked for their kids, why wouldn't it work for everyone?

This statement hits a nerve with me because I know how easy it is to see the world through your own experiences. As a parent whose child has been absolutely transformed by APP, I feel like I need to be a very vocal supporter of the program, precisely for people who don't "get" how important the program is for those kids who can't be served anywhere else. I thought the whole "finding their people" thing might be an urban legend, but seeing my daughter now happier than she's ever been, making friends, and liking school, I can attest to the importance of the cohort.

Having heard on Friday about how badly the Hamilton split is going, I am fearful of any more changes to the program at Lowell. As much as I would love a location north of the ship canal, I have no confidence that it would be handled well. And haven't these kids been through enough in the short-term? Losing half their friends 2 years ago with the TM split?

If APP moves north, it needs to be a longer term solution that has community input along the way, not something that gets sprung on us in March or June and goes into effect in September.

(and thanks Maria for your posts on the topic)

lendlees said...

Folks--understand the time is NOW to discuss and get involved with this. The district is going 'introduce' the transition plan in early January with the board vote at the end of January...not March.

So, if at all possible, attend the transition plan meetings (I think the ones downtown are more 'inclusive of ideas' vs. the ones in the neighborhoods) and bring up issues and concerns with moving APP to who-knows-where as there isn't a site that can handle it next year.

Maureen said...

When does Viewlands open? I wonder if that is part of the plan?

BL said...

Viewlands opens next fall.