Monday, June 20, 2011

Lowell overcrowding even worse than expected

In a recent e-mail, the APP AC writes, "Lowell is looking at over 700 students in the building."

That puts the incoming 2011-12 population at Lowell at the high end of previous estimates and at what would appear to be 145% of capacity. The district considers "severely over capacity" to be 125% of capacity. The highest over capacity building currently is Gatewood at 116% of capacity.

This is in an old building that does not have a fire sprinkler system and houses fragile and difficult-to-evacuate special education children.

Please see also the earlier post, "Severe overcrowding at Lowell next year", and the lengthy discussion in the comments on that thread.

Update: Save Seattle Schools reports that Lowell Principal Greg King "announced [to teachers] that ... this fall's [Lowell APP] 4th and 5th graders were going to be going to Lincoln." It is unclear what is going on. Where Lowell Elementary's APP children will be next year appears to be in flux.

Update: Nancy Coogan, an executive director of Seattle Public Schools, has set up a community meeting to discuss what will happen to Lowell APP next year. The meeting is at 7pm Mon June 27 at the Lincoln school auditorium.

Update: From the comments after the big June 27 meeting, leading solutions to overcrowding at Lowell appear to be either the entire APP moves to Lincoln for a year or APP splits now into three sites (regional APP elementary schools for north/central/south, meaning half of Lowell APP moves to Lincoln temporarily until a permanent home or two can be found in the north). The district will decide on July 8.

Update: The Lowell PTA has set up a "Lowell Capacity Update" page.

87 comments :

Shannon said...

Look, I am all for addressing the serious questions around overcrowding, the confusion about teachers leaving and all...

BUT

Can we just lower the drama level a bit?

My son has had a good year in 4th Grade at Lowell despite 'losing' a teacher and having 2 new teachers. We did not have everything go smoothly but its not the train wreck recent blog discussions imply.

As is often the case, kids have a different experience of their school than the parents.

I don't think it will be easy but I expect next year to be fine too, despite the management, capacity and curriculum concerns.

AS my four year old said "I am just worried because when we move, everything is getted MESSED UP and CRAZY."

I think that Seattle Schools is altogether a bit messed up and crazy but that Lowell will be a good school for our kids next year, regardless.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been keeping up on this issue. Can someone catch me up as to why Lowell is overcrowded next year? Is it because of increased APP enrollment, increased general ed enrollement or both?
Mandy

Anonymous said...

AMEN, Shannon!

Signed, tired of the drama

Anonymous said...

Your request to lower the drama is understandable, however unfortunately the situation at Lowell is grave and there are very few places to share information. As has been mentioned here, there has been a serious sense of fear and retribution by employees there this year. It is a big relief to know that individual kids have had a good experience despite the crushing loss of experienced and dedicated teachers, but that is what makes this a concern for the whole program overall and is separate from the overcrowding issue and expected move.

Old Timer

lendlees said...

Mandy-

It's both APP and General Ed growth. APP is projected to be ~450 students next year and Gen Ed ~206 with 11 kindergartners on the waitlist.

And, I echo Shannon's lower the drama comment...

suep. said...

If "lowering the drama" means covering our ears and eyes and pretending that nothing is amiss, then count me out.

I've heard enough about the various administrative issues at Lowell this past year to not be willing to dismiss these matters so readily and without resolution.

Our family has also been at the school long enough to know that this amount of teacher and staff attrition is not normal.

Trying to imagine over 100 more kids fitting in the school next year is another matter I'm not willing to shrug off.

I don't want drama any more than anyone else here, but this is not mere drama we're talking about -- these are serious issues that need to be addressed.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Lowell is growing for a number of reasons.
The building now houses 3 programs not counting the preschool: Special Ed, ALO, and APP. The north end APP population that will attend Lowell in the fall is now about equal in size to what ALL of APP for the entire city used to be
only a few years ago.

This growth is due to many reasons, some are: the economy and more people choosing public school, an attractive middle school option closer to home at a virtually new building, other north end schools being very full, all kids are assessed now using MAP testing which has a higher ceiling than previous tests--more parents might be realizing their kids are advanced learners, and most of the growth in newly identified APP kids is in the north end. This is particularly interesting when some predicted that the split would cause the program to implode, and some still call the splits a failure or the end of APP. I don't think the district will view the splits as having caused the destruction of APP given the current enrollment situation.

That said, from a long-time parent perspective, things are definitely different than before. There are some of the same old challenges/problems and many new ones. Lowell will be stressed with so many students in the building, and the staff will feel it--they do already.

continued...

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

I also want to weigh in with my view of some of the staff issues over the past few years(even though some will probably attack this!). I don't want to minimize issues teachers are feeling at Lowell or parent concerns, but again, as parents we often don't see the full picture as to who does what or says what and WHY, and personnel issues are problematic to discuss in an open forum. Teachers leave for many personal reasons as well...they want change, more time with family, etc.

As the population at Lowell (and all the APP schools) increases, and the new student assignment plan means a shift toward neighborhood schools, curriculum alignment is becoming more and more important.

When I was a parent at Lowell, the school was small, there were many wonderful teachers and most seemed happy, in part because they were allowed the freedom to do their own thing in many respects. But there were serious gaps--kids were learning one thing in one class, something else in another class. The inconsistency was a problem.
Some teachers were great about teaching the basics, others never fully addressed math or science, for example.

Julie B. started the process of a more consistent alignment horizontally and vertically at Lowell, and parents felt this was much needed. That said, yes, that meant that teachers needed to be flexible and adjust what they do. Some could do this, some could not...

it has been difficult and sometimes a charged atmosphere at the school because of this. But was this a bad change to make? Depends on your values...if you are a parent who values a more independent, individualized approach in the classrooms, then you might be unhappy with these changes. If your kid had a bum year and didn't learn as much as a kid in the class next door, you are probably happy with some of these changes in consistency.
I have to say the vast majority of parents have liked the changes at Lowell, felt it became/is becoming a stronger school as a result of some curriculum alignment (keep this in mind for middle and high school too), and clearly, it has not stopped more students from walking in the door.

In my view, this is not the end of APP...and yes, THANK YOU for writing Shannon and others--I agree the over-dramatization of things hurts more than helps.

Are there issues? Yes. There are ALWAYS issues.
The school is in transition-- from the splits, from the rapid growth, with a new principal, new staff, and from changes coming next year which are still unknown, to name a few.

Assignment and reconfiguration changes need to be announced the previous academic year so families can plan, so Lowell will most likely just have to deal with higher numbers next year.

At this point, I'd say cut folks at the school some slack given their situation, help where you can, support the teachers in every way possible so they can minimize the stress for themselves and their students. Work closely with the Lowell PTSA--you can be sure they are in the thick of things and have a good sense for what is going on and what challenges the school will face. We as parents can influence some things, but not everything.

Stephanie

Anonymous said...

StephanIe--

Even assuming that everything you say is true (the programs are thriving, alignment is a good thing, teacher turnover is normal, etc), it doesn't seem responsive to the central allegation on this blog and the saveseattleschools that Principal King has behaved heavy-handily, uncivilly, and inappropriately in implementing his vision (however good it may be substantively). Why are you working so hard to avoid addressing this issue and to shut down those who are raising it?

--Annoyed at those who think we can't discuss serious issues like grownups

Greg Linden said...

This thread seems in danger of getting off topic. My intent was to follow up on an APP AC e-mail that announced the new expected enrollment of "over 700" at Lowell for 2011-12 and an earlier request for a thread on the "implications of the (capacity induced) remodels" on the fragile special ed children and the many children at Lowell. Other parents have voiced concerns about the health and safety issues around the restroom facilities as well, which would seem to be a heightened concern with these latest expected enrollment numbers. I had assumed people had interest in talking about that.

There are plenty of old open threads and I soon will open a new open thread where you can talk about anything you like. Also, if there is a new topic you would like covered, please mention it in an open thread or by e-mail to me. But, please, let's keep this thread on the issue of Lowell overcrowding and the issues around the remodel to deal with the overcrowding.

Anonymous said...

I would like people to stick to the overcrowding issue and not the personnel issue in this thread since it is already in another thread. As for the overcrowding issue, I heard from a parent who heard that Lowell APP might move to Lincoln this Fall. Anybody else heard anything about this or other locations this Fall and next Fall?

lendlees said...

Lowell Capacity Update

Dear Lowell Families--

During the PTA meeting last week we had some great discussions regarding our capacity issues at Lowell. In summary, the Lowell community said:

- Special Needs families are most concerned about losing valuable therapy space for a one year capacity fix, and equally alarmed about the safety issue of having more than 700 students in a space alongside physically restricted children.
- All parents were distressed about fire safety, and other physical logistics surrounding the severe over-crowding that the district has created.
- The APP community expressed its strong preference for the APP program to stay together.

One proposal that was communicated during the meeting involved temporarily moving APP to Lincoln to grow and strengthen the program while the district determined a long-term solution for the APP students. The PTA Board is exploring this option along with others, so please keep your ideas coming.

The PTA Board will work through the summer to help address these concerns. Understanding that no solution will meet the needs of every family, our goal is to make Lowell a healthy, safe school for the ALO and special needs students while protecting the strength of its APP program.

We are committed to keeping our parents apprised and informed of the situation as we learn more. But, parents should understand that as of next week (July 1st) the Lowell Link will be shut down and all communication will be going through your SOURCE accounts. Please, if you haven't done so, sign up TODAY. If you received a copy of the newly designed Thursday Note last week, you are good to go. And we are aware that there are a few parents who, although they are signed up with the SOURCE, did not receive the TN. That issue is being worked on by the district and shouldn't affect direct communication, only newsletter distribution.

Please contact any of the board members with your questions or concerns.

Enjoy your summer.
Lowell PTA board

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of moving it to Lincoln until they find a long-term solution. Can the PTA really push for this to happen? Will SPS really listen? Is Lincoln going to be empty next year?

New to Lowell said...

Holy Cow! Is there any merit to the anonymous post that APP might be moved THIS Fall, 2011? I literally was about to call enrollment to put our daughter back to the neighborhood school for one year and make the move to APP in 2012.

If anyone could substantiate that rumor or put me in touch with someone who could, that would be really helpful right now!

Anonymous said...

New to Lowell -

If APP doesn't move this coming year, it certainly will move the next year. Lowell is just too small to handle Special Ed., Gen Ed and APP.

These are early discussions, so no one will be able to tell you anything definitive now.

Formerly known as Cali said...

We are a newly entering family. One of the things I am wondering about is transition times -- parking, and/or drop off and pick up. I understand parents drive in a single-file one-way line and students line up against the exterior wall? I know lots of people will be taking the bus, but for those of us driving, I am wondering about the logistics of both how it operated last year and how the "system" will be able to accommodate the extra influx of students...

SkritchD said...

And a move to Lincoln might help in more way than just alleviate crowding. Perhaps that is what is needed to improve teacher morale (and some parental) with Lowell's administration as I assume that probably a new principal will be assigned to an APP move to Lincoln.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that a move to Lincoln would mean a new principal. With a much smaller enrollment, two principals wouldn't be needed at Lowell. One principal could easily follow APP to Lincoln.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

Lowell community:

as you consider possible solutions to overcrowding, please consider that APP is not only a north end program...it is city-wide.

As you ponder multiple possible configurations and buildings, please consider the health and well-being of the ENTIRE APP program, including having strong cohorts at TM and WMS, and yes, maybe even Garfield.

Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,

Why would moving the North end app out of Capital Hill hurt TM and WMS? I don't understand your point. Can elaborate more on your concerns?

SkritchD said...

"Lowell community: as you consider possible solutions to overcrowding, please consider that APP is not only a north end program...it is city-wide."

Sorry, but I don't understand that comment either. It was the district that decided to split APP into South/North to begin with. Now that Lowell is the north end draw and the building is overcrowded, why would not a move to an actual north end facility make the most sense? And how does that impact the cohorts at TM and WMS any more than the initial split?

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

A major concern we had when splits first started being talked about years ago, and this was long before this current split, was balance and equity between sites, as much as is possible. This was in fact a major reason why we argued against splits in the first place.

Equity in terms of cohort size, staff, district support,and also PTSA support...Lowell PTSA raises many more dollars than TM, and that directly impacts the things the school can offer, especially in these dire budget times. A huge north end APP school would out balance TM and WMS, maybe eventually Garfield, in many respects.

I am not sure yet what the best solution is to the Lowell overcapacity problem. My concern is that when folks consider possible solutions, I hope they will also step back and consider the impact of any changes on the entire program.

Think creatively to see what solutions there might be that will be beneficial to all, so the entire PROGRAM is healthy and viable at ALL the APP sites.

Stephanie

dj said...

Stephanie, do you know anything about the plan reported on the Save Seattle Schools blog to move APP fourth and fifth graders to Lincoln next year?

Fremont Mama said...

I am also a new parent to Lowell and would be thrilled if APP was to actually move to Lincoln in the fall while a long term solution was figured out. I think McDonald is ready so all those kids should be leaving Lincoln which would make room for APP. I imagine the bus rides would be significantly reduced too.

I also don't understand how moving the supposedly northend APP program to a building in the north end would hurt the overall APP program.

Susanne

dj said...

Susanne, the plan as posted is not to move Lowell APP to Lincoln. It is to move fourth and fifth grade students only. Would you be thrilled with that? I would not be.

suep. said...

I also just read about splitting off 4th and 5th grade (APP only I assume) to Lincoln, on the SSS blog. Can anyone else confirm this?

How can fragmenting the APP kids this way -- and in some cases, the same kids for the second time in two years -- possibly be a good idea?

Why not move the entire cohort instead?

This sounds rash and illogical. Right now my vote on this idea is: Hell no.

Stephanie -- what's up?

Btw, it's Queen Anne Elem that's moving out of Lincoln. McDonald will still be there one more year.

Meanwhile, Stevens and Montlake are full, so Lowell will likely eventually fill up with neighborhood kids if APP moves out, so why not go with that idea?

Nice how this is sprung on everyone after the school year is over and with little or no parental input.

Fremont Mama said...

Moving just the 4th and 5th graders is not thrilling to me. Why not just move all of APP out - it has to happen eventually anyway.

Susanne

SkritchD said...

Can someone post a link to the plan about moving just the APP 4th and 5th graders at Lowell? I would like to read that document. Without seeing it, wow, splitting the split... ugh.

Anonymous said...

There is no plan posted. The comment referred to is comment 160 or so on the Lowell thread on Save Seattle schools.

Anonymous said...

Repost from link:

http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2011/06/whats-going-on-at-lowell.html

Anonymous said...
I wonder how many out there know the "latest" plan announced this afternoon for the Lowell over-crowding? Lowell staff and also the moving team that had worked all day were told by Gregory that nothing was going to be done after all. Now - the 4th and 5th grade APP classes at Lowell are to go up to Lincoln HS next year. A good decision finally to not overload the school anymore - and disrupt or take space primarily from special educ. - but also reactionary with no planning. Why now at this very late date and time tell the 4th and 5th grade teachers that they have to pack up to be moved to Lincoln? Have they put any thought into how to replicate things like choir, art, PE, before and after school programs, and services such as SLP, resource room, ..for these students now slated for Lincoln? FedUp
6/22/11 10:40 PM

Anonymous said...
A few more things - who will be the principal for the 2 grades of APP going to Lincoln? How about the kids that need a nurse there all the time? Sounds like the plan is to not make any new classrooms out of larger rooms - no construction - but still there is to be shuffling of some of the teachers to different classrooms. And - staff told they have to out of the building today by 4:00 several times - but then today, it's "ok" to stay till 10:00 and work an eleven hour day if they need to?? -- And how many parents know that almost everything in the "dungeon" was essentially thrown away last week w/ less than 24 hrs. notice to staff - but none to the PTA? FedUp
6/22/11 11:07 PM

Log said...

I agree it’s a terrible idea to move only 4&5 grades out of Lowell. The resources/ supports to APP program will be diluted and weakened, with the 4&5 graders likely taking majority of the hit. It would also make the life difficult for parents with multiple kids at Lowell now but got split into two schools with this plan.

lendlees said...

PTA Breaking News
Dear Lowell Families-

It has come to the attention of the Lowell PTA Board that the District has plans to move only the 4th and 5th grade APP classes to Lincoln for the upcoming school year, 2011-2012. The Board does not support the split of any one of our valued Lowell programs, and is working diligently to keep the APP program together. But, as we stated before, having 700+ students in one building is not an option from a safety, health and well being perspective.

Gregory King made the announcement to the teachers at a staff meeting yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. The PTA Board has begun to voice our concerns to the district, and we hope that the district will reconsider this decision. We remain optimistic as the district has yet not notified Lowell parents of its plan, and read this as a good sign.

We will keep you apprised as the situation unfolds.

Several parents have created a petition to lobby to keep the APP cohort together. If you would like to be added to this collective voice, go to: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Keep-Lowell-APP-Together-Fall-2011/

Lowell PTA Board

Methylgrace said...

Friends,

I've wondered about the utility of this and the Save Seattle Schools Blog in that there are often heated debates, with no obvious translation of the wishes/interests of these parents to actual action. There are a lot of caring parents who lurk on these blogs. I for one, get depressed when I see rumor and inuendo, and angry reactions to abrupt ill-communicated decrees from SPS (I agree; whiplash is no fun!) because I don't see these blogs as way to effect change.

I am really pleased to see the Lowell PTA Board and the APP Advisory Council read and comment on the posts here. I appreciate these groups putting our words and feelings into measurable action. Thank you for organizing a petition; please distribute petitions widely so that the slice of participants is not just noisy rable-rousers, but includes more of the silent majority.

The PTA and APP-AC seem to be the only way the Seattle Public School District will actually hear our complaints and maybe take them seriously. Can you continue to advise readers here how to contribute to change in a meaningful way?

Methylgrace said...

OK, I'm off my soapbox for a bit, and will relate my personal opinion:

I support a north-end APP.

And a south-end APP, but not a central-area APP.

Why? Two reasons, Geography and Quality.

The Geography is obvious ... We live in the very northwest corner of Seattle, and my son is on the bus for over an hour each way to get to/from Lowell. There are obvious effects on my son's behaviour; he is too tired at the end of the day to do any after-school assignments like prepare for Market Day, do math packets, or just be a kid (yes, an actual homework assignment from his awesome 1st grade teacher). And it is really really hard for him to be just a kid when he is so tired every day. I am making serious family sacrifices next year (no-income sabbatical), in part to commit to driving him to school every day. And if we have just one north-end APP, then the south-end APP kids suffer as my son does. No way. The ship canal is an obvious geographical split due to huge transportation issues across it. Lowell is south of the ship canal and is not a good option for me. I don't care if the APP program is moved to Jane Adams, Lincoln, Wilson or Viewlands, as long as it is really a North-end solution.

Regarding Quality and keeping the APP kids together as a cohort: It is so important to have a critical mass of like-ability students in order to justify dedicated teaching at a certain level. You really just can't have a classroom with widely separated ability kids, and add overcrowding to that too? Disaster. My son was in a kindergarten class of nearly 30 with some kids just learning their alphabet (english-as-a-second-language) and he was reading Harry Potter. We were promised Spectrum at his school the next year ... but only 6 kids enrolled. That does not a cohort make. When I went on school tours to see if I could find a better fit (the last year before the neighborhood schools policy was implemented), there was a distinct attitude from the principals at two of the schools that "all classrooms provide advanced learning" and it was clearly Spectrum in Name Only. And don't get me started on the lack of advanced math at Garfield ...

So, what to do about it? How many parents complaining does it take to effect change at SPS?


Guess I'll go to the next school PTA meeting AND the SPS Board meetings.

dj said...

Methylgrace, do not get too excited about the idea that moving the APP program to the north end will mean your kid spends less time on a bus. I live a ten minute drive from Lowell. Nevertheless, when my kid went there, her bus ride each way was over an hour. Why? Because Lowell and TOPS were sharing busses. I ended up quickly pulling her from the bus and driving her, as wasteful and inconvenient as that was.

So absolutely, I think a north-end APP site, as opposed to Lowell in the central part of the city, is a better idea. But make sure in advocating for it that if you want benefits such as being able to rely on bus transit, that you ensure that transportation is on board. Don't count on it happening without making sure that it does, specifically.

SkritchD said...

There will be community meeting regarding the potential move of APP 4th and 5th graders. That meeting will be at Lincoln School on Monday, June 27th, at 7pm, in the auditorium (4400 Interlake Avenue N).

Anonymous said...

Talking about school bus, how would SPS bus my two boys if we implemented the proposal? They're taking the same bus to Lowell now, an hour each way. If they are to go the two schools, either SPS would have to send two buses, or there would be one extremely long bus ride so one bus can stop by both schools.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie Bower,

What is the take on this from APP AC and what will this group do to prevent this move of only 4th and 5th graders? Will they really listen to parents and change this decision? What is Bob Vaughan take on this or was this his suggestion?

Anonymous said...

From Save Seattle Schools blog....

I just received this letter from the executive assistant of Dr. Enfield's office, written by Nancy Coogan. (Any typos are mine as I had to transcribe it). She said this letter is being sent to parents today:

June 23, 2011

Dear Lowell Staff and Families:

In Seattle Public Schools, our goal is to provide a safe and welcoming learning environment for all of our students, including those in general education, in special education and in the APP program. We have been excited to see the APP program expand at Lowell and throughout the district, but this growth has put significant enrollment pressure on our schools.

During the past few weeks, as we considered the latest enrollment numbers, it has become increasingly apparent we will not be able to accommodate the growth we are experiencing at Lowell.

We are studying a number of options, including moving the APP fourth and fifth graders to Lincoln School for the 2011-12 school year. Expanding Lowell Elementary to Lincoln would ensure that we have adequate space for all students, including those with special needs remaining at Lowell. This would be a short-term solution to give us time in upcoming months to develop a long-term plan for APP enrollment.

We would like your feedback on this option. Please join us at a Lowell community meeting:

Date: Monday, June 27, 2011
Time: 7 p.m.
Where: Lincoln School auditorium
4400 Interlake Avenue N.
Seattle, Wash. 98103

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at necoogan@seattleschools.org. We look forward to meeting with you on Monday.

Sincerely,

Nancy Coogan
Executive Director of Schools, Central Region

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

The APP AC is one advocacy group, the ptsa at Lowell is another, and of course parents advocate for their family's interests too.

That said, the APP AC is in the thick of all this. Co-Chair Geeta Teresedai and Lowell Rep Hilary Meyerson are attending meetings, walkthroughs, talking to others, working with the ptsa (Geeta is also on the PTSA board at Lowell), pretty much non -stop.

The APP AC is collecting information and will weigh in on this very rapidly changing situation ASAP. Some of us experienced the overcrowding at Garfield this year, so these issues are not unfamiliar (sadly.)We are also parents and teachers who have experienced program splits first hand. Many of us have already spent time with our children in the Lincoln building.

Our group will meet twice in the next few days to discuss. We talk with BV as well, who is one of the decision-makers downtown.

As far as we know, nothing final is decided yet about who moves to Lincoln.

We hear loud and clear what parents are saying, works best if you write us directly via email.
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,

Thanks for your comment. Please have everyone in the APP AC group read all the comments in the petition against moving only 4th and 5th graders.

ballardmama said...

Stephanie, Can you re-post the email addresses for the APP AC members that people should contact to share their opinions?

Thanks for all of the people who are working behind the scenes on this.

Stephanie Bower, APP AC said...

HI Ballardmama, here are the email addresses. It's a big group.
To sign up for the APP AC emails, contact Robert N. listed below.
Thanks...


APP Advisory Committee Members 2010-11

Parent Members:
Co-Chairs,
Stephanie Bower stbower@comcast.net

Geeta Teredesai geetaat@comcast.net

Secretary, Ann Owens ann@owensavage.com

Diversity Representative,
Roberto Jourdan Ahero@rocketmail.com

At-large Representative,
Rachel Miller rmiller_seattle@hotmail.com

Communications Representative, Robert Njegovan robertnappac@gmail.com

Lowell Elementary Parent Representative,
Hilary Meyerson hilarymeyerson@hotmail.com

Thurgood Marshall Elementary Parent Representative,
Sharmila Naidu-Williams sharmilanw@yahoo.com

Washington Middle School Parent Representative,
Shannon Wheeler
shannonw@msn.com

Hamilton International Middle School Parent Representative,
Kathy Tanaka
kathy.tanaka@att.net

Garfield High School Parent Representative,
Mary Ann Gwinn mgwinn@speakeasy.net

Ingraham High School Parent Representative, open

Staff Members:
Lowell Staff Representative, Theresa Roth trroth@seattleschools.org

Thurgood Marshall Staff Representative, Will Miller wlmiller@seattleschools.org

Washington Staff Representative, Amy Noji aahallett@seattleschools.org

Hamilton Staff Representative, Marcelyn Shadow mhshadow@seattleschools.org

Garfield Staff Representative,
Ken Courtney kcourtney@seattleschools.org

Ingraham Staff Representative,
Dean Ferguson dlferguson@seattleschools.org

ArchStanton said...

I was just scanning through this thread and given the recent events, I am wondering...

Is it okay to be dramatic now?

Anonymous said...

Good discussions in the Stranger.

Lowell Elementary Latest Casualty in Seattle Schools Overcrowding Dilemma

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/06/23/lowell-elementary-latest-casualty-in-seattle-schools-overcrowding-dilemma

Lowell parent

Anonymous said...

Here's a question, how will the PTA operate and disburse funds if the 4/5 kids are moved?

lendlees said...

The PTA is still the Lowell PTA even if the students are split at two sites. We will still operate as one PTA using the generous donations from our families to benefit ALL students.

Even if some students are moved to a different site, all of the infrastructure is Lowell.

Anonymous said...

Lendlees-

I think splitting the money is the easy part. It's all the other things the PTA does that's the real challenge. Are we really going to have two Heritage Nights, two Lunar New Years, etc. etc. I wonder if Lincoln families would go to Lowell for these events if they were only held there? The 4th and 5th graders wouldn't even have a classroom to display their stuff.

This is a real mess and the school environment will certainly be the worse for it. It will be two schools no matter what anyone says. Lincoln is further from Lowell than TM. How much interaction is really still happening there? There was all this pie in the sky talk at the time about shared grade level events. How many of those happened? I remember exactly zero.

I am not trying to be negative. But there's talk and then there's reality.

dj said...

Lendlees, even if you were to raise the same amount of money, you are going to end up with costs you do not have now and will effectively have less. Let's take the library as an example. When the split sent part of the program to TM, it took a sizable chunk of cash to recreate the sort of collection that young kids reading at an advanced level need (even though obviously TM had an existing library). Will 1/2 the library go with the fourth and fifth graders to Lincoln? I am thinking both the remaining APP parents and the ALO/special education communities at Lowell would have something to say about that. Will the 4th and 5th graders simply have to make due with whatever books are currently at Lincoln? I imagine you'll end up in the position of paying for most of a new library.

I imagine also that the ALO program, which will then be a much bigger percentage of the building at Lowell, will have something to say about spending huge chunks of PTA funds on projects for APP students in another building.

As a practical matter, I don't think the "we're all one school with one PTA" thing is going to work.

Anonymous said...

Any walk zone parents that would like to be included in an email discussion about these issues please send an email to me.

-robertnapppac@gmail.com

Dorothy Neville said...

I have it on very good authority that the construction that was planned and cancelled regarding the special ed space was designed to be temporary. The administration promised the special ed staff that it would be for one year only until APP got its own building. (of course, promises from the district are not of much value, but the folks designated to do the construction confirmed this with special ed staff, they were building temporary walls.)

I strongly advise y'all to dig into that, find out more and what the longer term plans really are.

ArchStanton said...

Two years ago, when Lowell Split I was upon us; many parents wondered about the feasibility of starting a new private gifted school.

With the impending Lowell Split II, I'm wondering if the time is finally ripe for creating a new school to fill the gap between public schools and the more expensive private schools (i.e. Evergreen & SCDS).

Anonymous said...

Did you mean Ucds?

If so, I would caution anyone thinking of sending a highly gifted kid there. Don't be fooled by the need for an IQ test at entry, they are simply not equipt.

signed: Me

Anonymous said...

The overcrowding situation is really poor planning and there has been loud outcry over finding a solution.

Are affected families willing to put up with the overcrowding to avoid the 4th and 5th grades in a different location?

Does the petition, or other document, suggest a different way of handling the Lowell overcrowding?

thanks

ArchStanton said...

@Me: No, I mean SCDS. Seattle Country Day School

suep. said...

To Anonymous at 2:38 p.m.

The petition suggests moving ALL of Lowell APP to Lincoln until a more permanent north-end location can be established.

This would alleviate the overcrowding at Lowell.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Keep-Lowell-APP-Together-Fall-2011/

Anonymous said...

Hey Arch, you know we're in. I bet we could get half our first grade class back together. Things haven't been the same since Split I.
- G's mom (@TM)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it's time for a reunion.

Anonymous said...

with no onsite childcare facility at lowell im not sure if the neighborhood families would make this school their first choice which is just ONE of the resources that we lost at tt minor. that is why alot of ttminor families did not come to lowell 2 years ago and alot of families are leaving now because the limited resources and the difficulty of trying to transition into a new school. im sure that there will be more families leaving come next fall. its alot easier to be in a neighborhood school that offers services that fits their needs.

suep. said...

To Arch @ June 23, 2011 7:29 PM

Exactly.

(btw, loved your pottergate posters too!)

--sp.

Anonymous said...

would placing a couple of portables at Lowell help ease the overcrowding just until they figure out a more permanent solution.

Anonymous said...

i think it is too soon to be making drastic changes.
why not put a classroom portable at Lowell like Montlake and McGilvra

Anonymous said...

maybe the incoming students should be waitlisted

Anonymous said...

Is it the case that TT Minor will be available to come back on line for 2012-2013?

If so, could TT Minor resume being a neighborhood school, and then draw the current Lowell ALO kids for 2012-2013?

If so, then the 4th-5th grade APP classes would return to Lowell in 2012-2013, and Lowell would remain the long-term home for APP North.

signed: Gregg Miller

Ed said...

I'm afraid we cán't lower the drama level. The Lowell PTA (dominated by APPs) has spent the last five days pushing for an immediate move for all of APP North, with no plan to deal with how that would affect Lowell Elementary, the neighborhood/ALO school that just opened 2 years ago. (Remember TT Minor?) The PTA pushed a move-all-APP petition out for signature to the entire school without surveying the parents as to their wishes. Since school is out of session, the non-APP neighborhood families have no way of getting organized. Monday night's meeting, situated up North, is meant to be a fast close with limited opposition.

We have put together a petition that does not oppose the move, but insists that the move not occur without 1) plan for a permanent location for APP North and a Improvement Plan for Post-APP Lowell. It can be found here.
http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/Lowelldragons/

Anonymous said...

Ed, as a parent, I can completely understand your position. As a parent of kids in the APP program, however, I have to hope for a full cohort move.

Anonymous said...

Repost from open thread:

The PTA meeting ended with an informal vote on priorities to put forward in District level discussions of APP changes/moves for the 2012 year. There was little time to discuss various priorities, but many in attendance voted in favor of efforts to keep the Lowell APP cohort together.

There was some talk about surveying the parents, but I'm not sure when or if the survey will take place.

Ed said...

I asked the PTA to poll on Friday.

They refused.

Ed said...

Friday, after they refused to poll the parents, I asked the PTA to openly solicit feedback. They refused. Instead, they again sent the request to sign the move-everyone-north petition (3 times in total) to the all school list, each time indicating the direction from the PTA was to sign the petition and show up at the meeting and speak the "keep the cohort together" talking points.

Finally, tonight, at 8pm, they sent a reminder, and for the first time they said "The PTA has no position."

Now, I am told that Betty Patu says that they have already gotten the School Board to sign off on the move. Perhaps that is why they are now suddenly of an open mind.

Anonymous said...

as im reading this blog i am wondering if the ALO families were included in this recent decision that the PTA made. what about the families that has multiple kids at Lowell that are in both APP and ALO or even SPED. is the PTA mostly made up of APP - how is that possible. is there anyone on the Lowell PTA that represents the ALO families best interest. im sure they would not have voted for this-i would think they would feel left stranded.
there should have been meetings to discuss what should be done with the WHOLE school not just one program.

Anonymous said...

As I'm reading this blog, I was wondering if during this decision process to move the whole APP cohort to Lincoln, if anyone considered the needs of ALO and SPED families? Lowell currently houses at least 3 distinct programs, and it appears that most of the PTA is comprised of APP parents.

So it seems that all this talk of moving is happening pretty quickly, without much input from the other programs that would be affected...there definitely should have been more meetings. Has anyone reached out to the parents who just moved from TT Minor? What about parents who have children in both APP and ALO?

Because I honestly can't imagine them all agreeing to this impromptu plan without feeling stranded..

dw said...

Ed,

What you're describing doesn't sound fair, and while I can't speak for any of the PTA board directly, I can say that for many years (maybe forever) APP parents have walked around on eggshells for fear of the administration screwing up our program. The biggest fear is the loss of our kids' cohort, and we were split just 2 years ago, in spite of an amazing show of unity. Hundreds of parents did everything possible to stop that move, and we were steamrolled anyway, in spite of obvious problems like what we're facing now. So any reactions by APP parents are likely to be made with emotions running high, and perhaps even in haste. It's a result of constantly watching your back 24/7 365 days a year, year after year.

But I'm not sure it has to be an either/or situation. I'm in favor of a full-cohort move, but I'm also sympathetic to the kids and families who would be left at Lowell.

If we do move out intact, I will do my part to push for supporting the local and SpEd families. Not because it sounds good, but because it's the right thing to do. They will be left in a lurch, just as the APP families will be thrown into one. At the end of the day though, Lowell will need to be able to stand on its own without the super-active APP parents. So the question is, how can we, as APP parents, help ease that transition? What kind of "support" do you think will help?

Certainly there will be PTA monies to share, but beyond that, are there other organizational issues to help with? I can't speak for them, but what if a couple current PTA members volunteered to stick around through the first part of next year to help with the transition? Is that the kind of thing you're looking for?

Another problem I see is after-school activities, which will diminish in both buildings, but Lowell (in the short run) will have a harder time because of numbers. Is there something the district can do to help with that? Like offer transportation to a nearby building, or help subsidize existing offerings? I'm just thinking out loud. We're all going to suffer for a while, no matter what decision comes down. We just can't all fit in the building anymore, thanks to dreadful planning, policies and attitude.

ArchStanton said...

@ G's mom & Anonymous:
A big reunion playdate at Lowell (or some other park) of the 08-09 first grade class? Might be fun. I wonder how much interest there is.

@ suep:
Thanks, I appreciate your work, too. Sometimes, I wish I could observe people's reactions when they first see them, but I mostly do it for my own amusement and send them off into the cloud.

@ Ed:
I'm not sure what to make of your petition. I believe you are serious, but the signatures that I see look phony/jokey - I think it's hurting your message. You might consider a different site to host it.

Anonymous said...

Turns out I can't make the meeting tonight, despite my best efforts! Can someone please post a recap of what happened???
- kinda frantic

Log said...

Ed,

Lowell PTA had suggested moving APP to Lincoln BEFORE SPS proposed just moving 4th&5th grade APP. If you consider that's selfish, I wonder what would you call it had Lowell PTA instead suggested moving ALO program out?

I do remember there were supporters for the last APP split proposal, unpopular as it was. If we had a poll then, I bet at least 75% would oppose the split (about 90% of the people spoke at SPS hearing opposed the split), but the split still went through. I hope SPS would listen to the voices from majority this time, but you never know!

Anonymous said...

A very good post from another threat posted by Lori.....

Thanks, WSEADAWG, for your wonderful post describing the social and emotional needs of a lot of APP kids. As the parent of one of those "complicated, bright, but chock full of issues" kids, I totally get it, and while I try to explain it myself on this blog from time to time, you've written a far better post that I ever have!

The potential Lowell split angers me precisely because I understand that the program is not just about academics. Elementary school is a critical time in a child's life to learn how to make friends, how to interact in groups, and how to exert influence and practice leadership skills. If you don't have a relevant peer group, you can practice none of these things.

I watched this happen with our child at our neighborhood school for an entire year, and when no one wanted to play the games she suggested at recess and no one laughed at her jokes or invited her to birthday parties, she eventually gave up even trying to fit in, and became sullen, sad, and lonely, and she didn't have the knowledge or experience to understand why life was so dang hard and frustrating.

Now, at Lowell, she has found her tribe, and she finally gets to be a normal kid, suggesting games at recess that others do in fact want to play, taking her ideas to the Student Council and leading an initiative for something she's passionate about. It's absolutely amazing to see the transformation that's occurred, and it's not just due to her grade level peers but rather to the exposure to like-minded kids of all ages, particularly the older kids that serve as mentors and inspire her.

The last day of school, she couldn't wait to go thru the Lowell year book with me, pointing out kids from each grade level that she knows and interacts with. I won't bore you with any more personal stories, but I have no doubt that splitting up the grades would truly diminish the school experience for all of the kids. The cohort needs to be sufficiently large to allow all of the kids to work on their social skills in the optimal environment; elementary APP should have as many kids in it as any other elementary school does, and the grade levels need to be together. Socially isolating just a few classes at a separate location is actually offensive to me and shows that the district just doesn't understand this program.

......
Lowell Parent

Anonymous said...

Big agreement with many important things mentioned in the most recent posts: the district doesn't understand the program, the program is life changing to the children it is designed to serve, the APP community overwhelmingly wants to stay together for a multitude of great reasons, and most importantly-we have all spend years walking on eggshells even when we are getting last consideration from everyone else.

Whereas it is always good to think about who else is affected and how, moving any school group two months before the start of a school year is so unprecedented, it would be unwise not to advocate for APP on this occasion.

ex-Lowell parent

Ed said...

I appreciate the comments on our petition. Remember, the point is not to block the move, it is to insist on fundamental fairness to the people who until last week were our fellow Lowell parents, and to insist on good policy for the school, the district and the neighborhood.

We would have liked to not host the petition on a public site, but the PTA would not do a survey, our first choice, so we have to deal with what we have. The PTA petition is also hosted on a public site with specific direction to have anyone at all sign.

Thanks for your comments and we look forward to solving the District's panic in a constructive and fair way.

Anonymous said...

At this point, there really needs to be a survey of some sort. Lots of options each with lots of consequence and really no consensus.

There should be a way for the district to survey all the families are registered. I really like Arch's suggestion or making APP at Lincoln and opt in program. I imagine that more than enough families (like mine) would appreciate the shorter distance to make it work.

- ne parent

Anonymous said...

Can anyone accurately summarize tonight's meeting?

Anonymous said...

Here's the short version:
There is no plan.

July 8 was given as the date for releasing the short-term plan for next year. There was no presentation of plans beyond next year.

The short-term options were given as:

1) Keep everyone at Lowell (not an option due to safety)

2) Move 4-5 APP (there was clear and repeated parent testimony against this plan)

3) Expand APP to 3 sites (the few supporting this option most likely hadn't gone through the first split)

4) Move all APP to Lincoln (this seemed the clear preference of APP families, though several expressed concern about the viability of Lowell if all of APP were to move)

Under cons for moving all of APP to Lincoln (as presented by the District), there were suggestions about reductions in PCP options (there would be music/PE or art/PE, but not music/art/PE) and another note that some may not get transportation to Lincoln (no details on who would lose transportation or why).

If the cohort would be split - again - it would be North, Central and South, with Central and South feeding to Washington. North was defined as North of the ship canal.

Anonymous said...

I have sent the following to PTA/APP-AC

Those of us with incoming students to Lowell Elementary have given up our guaranteed places at our (often very good, often ALO optional) attendance area schools. I would urge you to strongly advocate for what many requested at the meeting last night; that is the option for students who were to be new to Lowell in the 2011-12 year to return to a space in the ALO program (if offered) or general education program at their attendance area school for the 2011-12 school year (i.e a guaranteed a place at their attendance area school if they prefer to return to that instead of the entering the great unknown that Lowell Elementary now represents).
For us, as for many parents, the choice to leave a good neighborhood school was not an easy one. It involved touring Lowell Elementary and seeing what it had to offer, talking to existing Lowell APP families, and weighing up the benefits for our child against the inconvenience of getting to Lowell. After much deliberation it culminated in showing our child around "the great new school they will go to in fall". Now we find out that our child will likely not being going to this school at all. We must have the option to return at our original school under these circumstances.
This is particularly important for younger grades in order to minimize what seems likely to be several moves in a short time period. Many parents would prefer to keep their student at the attendance area school and minimize the stress and uncertainty involved in these transitions until the much-needed longer term solution is, at least decided upon, if not in place.
While keeping the entire cohort of APP student together is desirable, a move to Lincoln HS it may not be a satisfactory option for those of us with children in the early grades. The building is, after all, a high school and does not appear physically well equipped to house primary grade students (inadequate play space etc). As much as I am are excited about the program offered at Lowell, I would be loathe to send my first grader to a ill-suited temporary school especially in the absence of an ongoing plan for the 2012-13 and thereafter.
I would also like a commitment from the district that it will continue in the years ahead to honor the current rules regarding retesting (i.e no retesting is required for students who test into APP providing they are enrolled in an APP/spectrum/ALO program) to ensure that future entry into APP would remain open to any students who had qualified for Lowell this year but chose to go back to the attendance area school until the capacity issues in the program are addressed.
The availability of this option may alleviate a little of the pressure on Lowell this coming year.
Signed-
Incoming first-grader mom

Jon Sloan said...

My wife and I are in the same place as Incoming First Grader Mom above. We got our son excited about Lowell and now have to explain why he may be going to a different school, one with inadequate library, play space, adornment, etc. I'd be grateful for input of veteran Lowell APP families as to whether you would start a child at Lowell in the fall given the uncertainty and what you heard at last night's meeting. We're sick about the situation because my son is not getting what he needs from his current school, both socially and academically, but at least it's comfortable, consistent, and safe, with committed teachers. On balance it's an excellent school...just lacks an adequate APP type option.

Shannon said...

I think we need a new thread for discussion of the meeting.

Anonymous said...

We should all go to the Save Seattle School blog with 40 comments about the meeting already instead of doing it in 2 different blogs.

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=28765366&postID=8525486814808405235&page=1&token=1309275000365

Greg Linden said...

I am a bit wary about creating a duplicate thread over here.

For talking about the June 27 meeting and reactions to that meeting, I'd recommend going over to the thread at Save Seattle Schools, "Lowell: What to do?"

For the longer-term discussion of what is going to happen to elementary APP in Seattle over the next few years, I just created a new thread, "What will happen to elementary APP?"

Hope that works well for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Farwell APP

From reading the blogs and getting a report back from my wife about the PTA/District meetin one thing is clear: The neighborhood kids are low priorty.

If PUBLIC schools are funded by # of students, then we are about to get a budget cut.
What admin staff will stay?
If Stevens is overcroweded, will there be re-zoning?
Does anyone seem to care?

It seems the talk is all about the APP kids. Do our local and regular kids matter in this debate?

I now feel very bad for quiting the PTA. It seems a new one is needed for us leftovers. We need to start from scratch since the APP PTA is set to jump ship.

Goodby. Since there seems to be no love for us I'm having a hard time caring what happens to the poor APP program.

Selfishly, I want to know what will happen when the smart kids leave.

Will my daughter have a good school to go to? Will we suffer for not being super smart?

I guess time will tell.