Thursday, March 31, 2011

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

44 comments:

bf said...

Has anyone else received a notice from the transportation office about a change in their child's transportation? The notice said my son may have to walk to a community stop, which is fine with us, but it also said that it was a temporary measure for two years and he may not be eligible for transporation after that. He goes to Lowell and we're in Wallingford.

avid said...

Yes, our daughter is in Spectrum at Whittier and she has lost bus service next year (we also live in Wallingford). But not to worry... we have preference if we want to put her in JSIS where she'll only be 3 years behind in the language immersion program (and not in Spectrum).

Anonymous said...

I also receved that email, the changes for next year are fine but after the potential elimination is a huge worry. I thought APP transportation came from state funding - has that funding been eliminated by the state?

Anonymous said...

I called transportation today and they said APP is excluded from the community stop. Not sure if it is only for this year or not. She said they will send out the real assignment in August.

Laura said...

might be nice if the APP AC looked into transportation changes and how they affect APP students. Seriously. We got the letter changing us to a community stop. We also got an automated call letting us know of the change. Anonymous @ 5:45 says the transportation office says that's not true. So what is it?

Also, keep in mind that TOPS will get to piggy back on our transportation next year. What will that mean for adding time to our bus runs? My kid already rides for over an hour each day, each way. We have one of the worst (i.e. longest) runs in the city and come from an area (Ballard) where there are a lot of TOPS kids who lost transportation to their school under the new student assignment plan.

I know Stephanie Bower reads this blog. So what is the APP AC's say on this important issue?

Fremont Mama said...

It is my understanding that APP students will continue to receive transportation services for as long as they need it since they are considered special education. But, what will change is that they are moving to community stops instead of coming into neighborhoods. The community stops will be neighborhood schools. I'm assuming our community stop will be B.F. Day since we live in Fremont. So, we will have to walk our daughter to B.F. Day to catch the bus to Lowell.

Jessica said...

Thanks for the info, everyone -- We got the transportation notice, too, which surprised me because APP is a magnet program.

This blog is a great way for parents to exchange info like this.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Laura and all,
I don't check the blog regularly, but do take a look every few weeks for a few consecutive days. I respond on behalf of the APP AC, mostly to provide accurate information as best I can (I'm a parent too...)

All: best to email the APP AC directly with any concerns. Email addresses are at the bottom of all our emails.

We do follow transportation issues, and I talk with Manager Tom Bishop every so often. He is pretty available and works hard to find solutions...it is a challenging job.

Transportation is creating more community stops to save money, we are in a dire budget crisis at the district.

APP is definitely NOT considered Special Ed in the state of Washington. APP has received transportation funding from the state in the past at a higher rate than general ed students because of its special needs status (major difference in Special Needs vs. Special Education), but with Olympia now (and I mean NOW making decisions for the next 2 year cycle) looking at cuts everywhere, we're not sure where transportation will stand.

Busing from all over the city is very expensive, piggybacking when possible makes sense.

I'll see what I can find out about changes and bring this up at the APP AC meeting on Tuesday, April 5.
Stephanie

Mercermom said...

My hope is that if APP is included in the new "community stop" approach, it will still result in a quicker overall transportation time. E.g., if we have to walk with our child 6 blocks to the elementary school, hopefully the bus will then do a straight shot to TM, making the overall time quicker than riding along to pick up kids at multiple neighborhood stops. But that maybe overly optimistic.

hschinske said...

TOPS has shared buses with Lowell for ages, and as far as I know that's usually gone reasonably smoothly. I wouldn't expect that bit of the process to introduce any new problems, certainly.

Helen Schinske

Lori said...

I'm hearing from reliable sources downtown that APP will have a mix of school-based community stops and other non-school-based stops, which will mean fewer stops overall that should reduce ride times.

One concern that they appear to recognize is having young kids crossing major arterials, which the school-based stops would require many of us to do. As it is now, my child is picked up on a busy stretch of 25th Ave NE, but the bus is always traveling north for pick up and drop off so that we never have to cross that 4-lane road. That's kind of nice, particularly if you want or need your young child to walk home unaccompanied.

The current goal is similar; they will try to create stops at perhaps libraries, community centers, etc so that young kids won't be crossing major arterials but they won't necessarily have those stops just a block or two or three from each home address as it is now.

Hopefully, this will be how it pans out this summer when routes are finalized.

Anonymous said...

what are the practical benefits of being in APP in the end? (other than being challenged, being with peers etc. ) We are only in elementary APP, so wonder what will happen in high school and onwards. Do they enter college earlier? have a shorter undergraduate time? being able to do two degrees? more merit scholarships? Would appreciate your advice.

hschinske said...

The point of APP, as with most gifted programs, is to provide appropriate accommodation for advanced abilities alongside age-mates to the extent possible. Even within APP, some students do end up skipping grades, entering college early, and so on, but the presence of APP is if anything meant to make it less necessary to resort to such measures in order to get access to an appropriate level of education. Radical acceleration is a very valuable tool, and I'm not going to knock it, but it's not appropriate for everyone. (APP serves a huge range of abilities, after all, and an even bigger range of maturity levels, executive function skills, etc.)

By the time students apply to college, it isn't whether you were in a gifted program that makes any difference: you're judged like anyone else on your stats, essays, activities, and so forth. The question to ask about a gifted program (and the school it resides in) is whether it will help or hinder your child's academic happiness and success. (Programs being imperfect, they generally both help AND hinder.) The label by itself will do precisely nothing.

Helen Schinske

Jessica said...

FYI, TM APP parents received this email from the District's transportation office:

For APP Students in Intermediary Transportation Zones :
This is an important message for families from the Seattle Public Schools transportation department. You received an email on March 31st that said that after two years, your child may no longer be eligible for district transportation.

This message is to inform you that there is no plan to discontinue transportation for APP programs after two years. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Tom Bishop
Seattle Public Schools
Transportation Manager

Anonymous said...

Than you Helen!

Anonymous said...

Yes well said Helen!

hschinske said...

Susan Enfield is taking questions at http://questionland.com/topics/-susan-enfield (answers to be posted April 13).

Helen Schinske

Robyn said...

Questions for Enfield: How are you going to fit all these kids into Lowell next year? Why does the projected enrollment decrease next year? From what I've seen, that doesn't seem realistic.

Stacey said...

I'm looking for demographics for the APP program specifically and all I can find is for Lowell, which includes all programs. Anyone know where I can find this?

Anonymous said...

I've heard through the grapevine (unverified) that Lowell expects even more kids next year, which would put enrollment well over 600.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't more folks talking about moving the preschool out of Lowell into another school that is undersubscribed. Seems like an obvious solution.

Anonymous said...

It's a special education preschool and Lowell is set up to accommodate them. No way would I suggest that they move. I don't see that as a solution.

Anonymous said...

I am fairly confident that the preschool is not for the medically compromised students, is half day and those students will not continue on in Lowell for K. Seems like a good way to get a couple more needed class rooms.

Anonymous said...

One of my children attended preschool at Lowell; she's medically fragile as are many of the preschool children (both a.m. and p.m. classes). A different class had children with cochlear implants as well as other disabilities. Many children continue on at Lowell in the K-5 program. The OT/PT/SLP, therapy equipment and therapy room is well-used by this population.

Anonymous said...

From the Lowell website:

In the early 1960's Lowell was remodeled to provide facilities for special needs children. The building has accessible hallways and an elevator. Lowell's schoolyard contains a handicapped-accessible playground. The nationally recognized Low Incidence Special Education program offers excellent and challenging opportunities for students with developmental disabilities, sensory impairments and/or severe orthopedic handicaps. Instruction takes place in a secure, warm environment. The program emphasizes academic and social skills in a larger community setting, including the school community of regular education learners and the outside world.

There is an Early Childhood Developmental Preschool serving children, ages 3 - 5 years old and a program for elementary school aged children with a variety of handicapping conditions. The Early Childhood Developmental Preschool has two half-day sessions during which children work in individual, small and large group settings. Each session includes a wide variety of activities such as pre-academic skills, art, music, PE, fine and gross motor, enrichment and speech therapy.

Maureen said...

Maybe Stephanie Bower can clarify the preschool issue? I was at the APP Advisory Committee meeting last week and the impression the co-chair(? not Stephanie, but I don't know her name) gave was that there is a preschool at Lowell that is not a special needs class and whose children do not feed to Lowell in either special ed or ALO. She seemed to think that moving that preschool out (she suggested to Madrona) would free up two large rooms. She said it was under discussion. I'm not sure who is discussing it. (Sorry about my vagueness-but this isn't my issue, I've been waiting for someone else who was there to clarify.)

I do know that the cochlear implant/DHH preschool was moved from Lowell to TOPS this year. That makes sense because those kids feed to one of the two DHH K-5 programs at TOPS.

Anonymous said...

Oh sounds like I had my programs mixed up and that the obvious preschool has been moved and that the medically fragile one is continuing which is the way it should be. Thanks for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

My son will be in second grade next year at Lowell (APP), and I would be happy to hear from any current parents who have spent time in the classroom to discuss the various teachers' styles.

I am basically interested in three axis points, but maybe there are more I might consider. The first:

1. Does the teacher veer toward straightforward, or absurdist?

2. Is the teacher strict or open in terms of tolerating (or not) the fidgeters, singers, toe-tappers, and others who would seem to be keeping their own beat?

3. Does the teacher obey the curriculum, or does the curriculum obey the teacher?

Thanks in advance!

hschinske said...

Absurdist? I can't say I've encountered any teachers who were exactly absurdist. I did think Vosti had a rather roundabout way of expressing herself, but she's at TM now anyway (and she's third, not second). Ms. Chow was definitely calm, competent, and straightforward, and in her class my son seemed to have a lot fewer problems with the wigglies (she did provide him and some other kids with those rubber seat cushions). I don't know any of the other second-grade teachers at all.

Helen Schinske

lendlees said...

Preschool at Lowell:
There are two preschool rooms, two classes per room (morning/afternoon). Each class has 12 learning delayed children and 4 typically developing peers. So, they are not part of the medically fragile group and could potentially be moved at some point. But, it's not on the table for next year that I know of.

Greg King is having his coffee morning session this Thursday (4/14 @ 9:30) and my guess is capacity will be a topic from parents. Maybe we will have more clarity at that point?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Helen (inre: 2nd grade at Lowell).

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the proposed start times for next year? I thought it was 9:40am, but I want to see if there were any updates to that.

Anonymous said...

I meant start times for Lowell.

Lori said...

there is a post on the SaveSeattleSchools blog this morning with a link to proposed bus times for next year.

Buses are scheduled to arrive at Lowell at 915AM, and it says that start times are generally 15 minutes later, so 930AM.

Buses will depart Lowell at 345PM, so the school day will end just prior to that.

Fremont Mama said...

Lori (or any other current Lowell parents) - did you attend the principal's chat? Was there any discussion of capacity management or anything else of interest?

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

Lori and anyone else, if the Lowell bus will arrive at 9:15am and leave at 3:45 pm, and the rule is the buses come and go 15 minutes before and after bell times, doesn't that mean that the Lowell day will run from 9:30-3:30, making it 10 minutes shorter than it currently is? If so, that's a pretty significant loss of potential instructional time. Or have I calculated incorrectly? Anyone have any solid info on this?

Sue p.

Anonymous said...

I think the busses arrive 15 minutes before the bell, and leave 5 minutes after the bell making the school day 9:30-3:40.

Anonymous said...

Hi. In the minutes for the April 5 APP Advisory Council meeting, it says the following:

"There will be many teaching staff changes in the APP program at Lowell next year.
Tamra Hauge, currently teaching 2nd grade, is leaving. Kristen Anderson and Allison Fenzl, both currently teaching 3rd grade, are also leaving. Emily Betz will move from teaching 1st grade to 3rd grade and Gary Bass will move from Kindergarten to 1st grade. And Margaret Saunders, who taught 5th grade, retired in December. So there will be open positions in both 2nd and 5th grades and a .5 position open for 3rd grade."

Lots of changes. Anyone have any background on whether these are retirements, moves to other schools, or something else?

Anonymous said...

Also from the minutes, Garfield is getting ready to RIF 5-6 teachers due to decrease in enrollment next year. I think they are getting ready underfund/staff the school and we will see a encore performance of what happened last September. Wondering what the committee's response was to this information?

Greg Linden said...

Good questions, Anonymous. I started a new thread to discuss it.

Anonymous said...

Lots of changes. Anyone have any background on whether these are retirements, moves to other schools, or something else?

Yes, LOTS of changes at Lowell. Even more than you've listed above. For a variety of reasons, but I would not characterize most (any?) of the moves as pleasant ones (i.e. planned retirement).

There is great deal of stress on staff at Lowell right now, greater than there has been in many years. Morale is in the toilet. It's a really sad situation, and it would be great if there were more daylighting of the issues, but I think the teachers are too scared to do so, at least in any major way.

Oddly enough, WV says "kning".

- Anon on this matter

Greg Linden said...

Hi, Anon on this matter, this blog might be a good place to daylight those issues? Could you elaborate on what the problems are at Lowell so it could be discussed?

Best spot might be in the more recent thread if you don't mind moving this over there.

Methyl said...

Anonymous@12:21-

I second Helen's comment. We chose APP to give my child a richer depth of material and faster pace of learning. My son's emotional and physical development matches other 1st graders, so accelerating him above grade wouldn't be beneficial. But he was miserably bored to the point of mischief in kindergarten.

Anonymous said...

yes i agree