Friday, July 8, 2011

No more APP at Lowell

An excerpt from an e-mail from the district:
We have decided to move APP students in Grades 1-5 to Lincoln for the fall.

I want to apologize to our students, families and staff for the timing of this decision. I know this has been frustrating for many of you. We are putting proper systems in place to ensure this will not happen again.

Moving APP to Lincoln for the 2011-12 school year not only provides a short-term solution while we look long term at our growing APP program, but it also ... [fixes] capacity at Lowell.
So, Lowell APP is temporarily moved to Lincoln for one year, resolving the severe overcrowding at Lowell, but also putting most elementary APP students (except those at Thurgood Marshall) in a temporary home.

Discuss away.

50 comments :

Greg Linden said...

The full e-mail from the district:

---------

Dear Lowell Elementary families,

After hearing from the Lowell community at our community meeting last week, in addition to feedback from an online survey and personal conversations, we have decided to move APP students in Grades 1-5 to Lincoln for the fall.

I want to apologize to our students, families and staff for the timing of this decision. I know this has been frustrating for many of you. We are putting proper systems in place to ensure this will not happen again.

Moving APP to Lincoln for the 2011-12 school year not only provides a short-term solution while we look long term at our growing APP program, but it also presents an opportunity for additional capacity at Lowell. We will be looking carefully at how we can work together to ensure that the ALO and Special Education programs at Lowell will be vibrant and successful. We will work closely with you and the community in the next school year on these issues.

We are working on the details and logistics of this move and we are compiling answers to the many questions you must have. We are working on issues about transportation, resources and other logistics. We will have more information in the next few weeks, including answers to frequently asked questions that we will post on our website at http://bit.ly/lowell-2011. You may also email us with specific questions at LowellAPP@seattleschools.org.

We look forward to working with the entire Lowell community on strategic long-term solutions for both APP and the school. I know this solution is not ideal, but I appreciate you working with us to make this the best possible situation for our students. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Susan Enfield, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

Fremont Mama said...

*Moving my comment over here from the open thread*

Lori had some great comments about PCP offerings on the open thread. We need to find out if McDonald and Queen Anne students were sharing any PCP teachers or how that worked. I would imagine we could probably work something out with the two schools at Lincoln next year.

Notice how there was no mention of "Lowell APP" moving to Lincoln which makes me believe that APP is not going back. I guess we won't be Lowell Dragons anymore and will have to develop a new identity? Which will of course be hard until we know what our permanent location will be.

I am certainly willing to donate funds and my sweat equity to do whatever needs to be done to make this a great year for our kids!

Susanne

Charlie Mas said...

I can't help wondering what Dr. Enfield means by "We are putting proper systems in place to ensure this will not happen again."

I'm thinking that she doesn't mean anything at all by it.

Lori said...

I'm with Charlie. I have a pet peeve about using the word "this" as a noun/pronoun because it allows one to weasel out of things.

This what? This *frustration* won't happen again? This *poor capacity management* won't happen again? This *poorly timed decision* won't happen again? This *giant clusterfrack* won't happen again?

This WHAT? It's an adjective. Please tell me exactly what won't be happening again, thanks to new systems because I cannot determine what you mean in this context.

Sad, sad Lowell APP parent said...

Lowell is dead. Long live Lowell.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie and APP AC,

Will you issue any statement about this decision, what is next for APP AC and Lowell APP parents? Seems like SPS did not agree to all the suggestions APP AC sent and we have some many questions and details to work out.

Lowell Parent

Anonymous said...

I am the parent of a student who was supposed to transfer to Lowell in the fall, and have not yet received an email from the district. Is it possible that they will be addressing us separately, with information about whether we still have the option to remain at our neighborhood school? I suspect I'm giving them too much credit.

Anonymous said...

My child will be new as well, and I got the same email posted here.

Lori said...

For the new families, might the difference be whether you attended the community meeting or not?

They had a sign-in sheet there, and I accidentally signed in with an email address that I don't normally use. I ended up getting the email twice, at my "regular" address for school communications and the one that I used by mistake that night.

I have a hunch that they use the Source for regular communications, and new families may not be linked to Lowell via the Source yet.

Anonymous said...

i wonder what the APP kids think about losing their lowell school. i know mine is very sad. and is unsure about what is in the future at Lincoln

Anonymous said...

two years ago with the first split the school district sold us this idea about diversity, and having ALO and APP work along side each other. i thought we were ONE school. well i hope APP got what they wanted now, but how about the ttminor folks and the other ALO folks its no wonder they didnt run out and join the PTA - the PTA dominated everything and had say in everything. maybe this is a blessing in disguise...just thinking

Anonymous said...

Just thinking,

APP wanted to stay at Lowell but not at the cost of splitting our kids. You make it sound like we wanted to leave Lowell. The District gave us 3 bad options and we took the option that is least harmful to our kids. You should be mad at the District and not us.

Lowell APP Parent

Greg Linden said...

Informative comment over on the Save Seattle Schools blog, copying it to here since it might add to the discussion:

--------------

My understanding -- and I may well be wrong -- is that, administratively, APP at Lincoln would be regarded as essentially a "satellite campus" of Lowell. All the APP kids will still be officially enrolled at Lowell this fall, regardless of what happens the year after.

That probably means some staff and resources will be shared between the two physical sites since they'd still be paid for out of the same budget, etc. The art, music and PE teachers are supposed to serve the entire student population after all, not just the students in one program. I'm not sure how that would work but I suspect they may not get to choose which site they're at, or whether they gave to split their days between the two.

Just an interested observer

Anonymous said...

The Lowell PTA set up a Lowell Capacity Update page. It has a link to a form people can fill out if they have questions or want to help out with the transition at either Lowell or Lincoln.

http://lowelles.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=235094

APP parent

Stu said...

just thinking wrote: well i hope APP got what they wanted now

Yeah, that's it . . we got what we wanted!

We wanted to take elementary students, many of whom had already been through a split, and move them out of their home; we wanted to leave behind a familiar location and, perhaps, familiar teachers, for one year at a run-down building with no playfield; we wanted to set the kids up for ANOTHER move for next fall; we couldn't wait to end the years of beneficial interaction with the Special Ed community; and, of course, we really wanted the APP kids to leave behind the new friends they made with the non-APP community. Of course, it goes without saying, we finally got rid of sharing a building with another community . . . oh, wait . . . APP will be sharing Lincoln with MacDonald for the year. Well, at least we have the comfort of knowing that our kids will be able to leave THOSE friends behind in 2012! Phew! Finally, there's all that involvement with the PTA and all that fundraising . . thank God we don't have to do THAT anymore!

You did it . . you found us out! Thanks for calling us out on this, we feel humbled.

stu

Fremont Mama said...

Thank you Stu!

This is clearly not an ideal situation, but the best solution to what was an impossible to fix overcrowding mess at Lowell. I hadn't even thought about half the things Stu said - makes me sad for all the kids.

My daughter is very excited to go to Lowell next year and now I have to tell her that she will be going to Lincoln instead! And then most likely another new school the year after that.

Maybe I am too personally involved to see how it looks from the outside, but I really wish people would lay off the snarky comments about APP parents!

Susanne

Stu said...

Susanne,

If this is your first child in APP, welcome. And get used to the snark . . .

I mean, after all, every once of us is an upper-class white family, with money to burn. Naturally, the little people get concerned when we tear ourselves away from our cocktails on the dock at our Highland Estates, to mingle with the rabble and tell them to take care of our kids.

Ah those huddled masses!

stu

Discouraged said...

I don't mean to be too pessimistic, but one thing I am wondering is if a lot of parents will leave APP or be discouraged from coming to APP because of this disruption.

And, I might be being too pessimistic again, but is that what the district staff wants? In some sense, from a bureaucrat's point of view, it is a good outcome since it reduces demand for APP and then the district staff don't have to do the hard work of providing additional capacity. Discouraging people from attending public schools is one solution to overcapacity issues, after all.

discouraged for other reasons said...

Discouraged, I don't think you're on the right track.

Yes, some will be discouraged by this fiasco, or rather, this chain of fiascos, and that's unfortunate. The district should allow anyone who changes their mind to retain their neighborhood seat this year. But the problems aren't arising because SPS is discouraging families from enrolling in APP, it's quite the opposite. Prior to the push for "growth" several years ago, APP was relatively stable, and "just worked", for years. The problems are because of "growth".

There are multiple reasons for growth, most of which are due to SPS staff decisions. Location change (middle school), changes to entrance testing mechanisms, economy (return of some private schoolers), but most of all it's the lack of support for more appropriate gifted programs around the city. Spectrum, when managed correctly and supported strongly, is the best way to serve gifted kids who need to be working ahead of grade-level, but aren't so far out of synch that they need special services in an all-city draw program. And yet Spectrum is being killed. Not even content to let it linger and wither, principals are actively dismantling these programs as we speak.

APP Growth for growth's sake makes no sense, and is in fact a failure of the overall system.

So why is this happening? There are only a couple reasons I can think of. First, resume padding. It's easy to ignore failures on a resume, but you need to be able to point to significant changes, and doesn't it sound good to be able to say: We "grew" our highly gifted program by 50% over the past 5 years! No one will mention that the gifted program was gutted along the way.

The only other reason that makes any sense is this is effectively a way to kill APP without doing it outright, very slowly over a number of years. If APP is allowed to split again into 3 or 4 buildings, it will effectively be gone, morphed into what Spectrum should be: a program for high achievers with seats in all regions. Some School Board directors are already talking about doing this, and everyone needs to point out the huge flaw in this mindset! Otherwise, APP will be gone in all but name. We're halfway there.

Anonymous said...

Please take heed to what "discouraged for other reasons" has said here, this person is right on the money.

Anyone who says that APP needs to be spread around, dishonors the intent of the program. Some smiling board members (read Kay Smith-Blum) claim that this is what is needed, but it is a ploy for constituent votes and doesn't serve APP at all.

Look no further than the last split and what an utter failure it was, first for TM and now for Lowell. There will never be any peace if the district and the board continue to try to tear APP up into tiny bits and sprinkle it around the city.

APP students are not some kind of pixie dust that can be spread around to cultivate other magical fairy forests. Open your eyes everyone and see beneath the surface of the sales job we are being subjected to.

Centralized APP Advocate

Mercermom said...

I disagree strongly that the split was an "utter failure" for TM. Yes, there were and likely still are challenges. But many students transitioned to the TM site with no negative experiences, the program is growing, families in the Lowell Walk Zone who didn't have an existing connection to Lowell are now choosing TM, and some kids are even switching from Lowell to TM mid-stream.

dj said...

I understand Lowell APP parents now have a lot of practical, short-term issues to deal with.

Obviously the move to Lincoln isn't a permanent one, however. It seems to me that given that the district isn't planning and doesn't (pardon me) plan to plan, next fall would be a good time to . . . plan. One thing that would be useful would be to get the numbers on how much growth there has been in APP numbers over the past several years and to try to figure out where that growth is likely coming from. What attendance areas are growing fastest? Also, is there any way to get a survey to north end parents to find out how many more people plan to test their kids for APP if there is a north site or sites? I would really hate for us to be doing all of this again in two or three years, when the district puts pieces of the program in places they cannot fit in the long term and then says, whoops, emergency, we have to move you about again.

Anonymous said...

DJ-

You make many common sense points - why wouldn't the district be doing this all along?

Apparently Bob Vaughn has been working on a map of where all the APP qualified kids are no matter whether they are in the program or not. We know more north APP kids will enter the elementary program when it is moved north. We only have to look to Hamilton to see proof of that.

I have never heard an estimate of when this map might be done.

APP Parent

Anonymous said...

Can we stay at our home school instead? If so, what is the correct procedure to secure enrollment?

Anonymous said...

Mercermom - Thanks. I am a TM parent and totally agree with all of your points. Thanks for speaking up!

-Mom of 2 TM APP kids

dj said...

I am going to contact Bob Vaughn and Kay Smith Blum and see what I can do in terms of getting the numbers, plotting growth, and maybe getting a survey out to north-end parents. I don't think there is any way to plan for long-term stability if we don't have some idea what is going on here.

Anonymous said...

Anon July 11 -

The PTA is keeping and updating a FAQ on their website. You question is answered there.

http://lowelles.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=49b39b7d89b33eaa7a0073e02ddafb95&pageid=236159

APP Parent

Anonymous said...

So far, the only info posted from the District:

- start time will be 9:25

- transportation will be provided for next year (will there still be community stops?)

- enrollment for neighborhood schools is on a space available basis (same as anyone else wanting to switch schools after open enrollment)

School starts in 8 weeks...

Anonymous said...

I don't have a student at Lowell, so maybe I don't understand why some APP parents are upset by the temporary move to Lincoln.
I would prefer having my student moved with his/her entire cohort to another location, rather than stay in a building with 700+ students. I think the district made the right decision by moving the students temporarly to Lincoln. It was of course because of district oversight that Lowell was so terribly overcrowded to begin with, and that is very annoying and unsettling. Moving only 4th and 5th graders would have been hard for families with more than one child in different grades.
I was surprised to read that there are two teachers for art and music. At all the schools in my neighborhood there is only one teacher for both art and music. The kids at Lowell have been very fortunate to be able to have two teachers for instruction in art and music up to this point. Does the PTA pay for the extra position? Is it the same at Thurgood Marshall...two teachers for art and music? Just curious.

APP middle school parent

Anonymous said...

Not sure where you're getting the two teachers for art and music...

PCP rotates weekly between art, PE, and music. There is one teacher for art and one for music. Instrumental music for 4-5 graders (optional but open to all) is separate and is paid for with PTA funds.

Anonymous said...

I clearly misunderstood - you meant two teachers, as in 1 art + 1 music, yes?

Anonymous said...

I don't agree parents are upset that 1-5 was moved to Lincoln. I am upset, and I know others are as well, that the district did this during summer vacation. We have know for MONTHS that Lowell was going to be overstuffed. Did they hope that if they ignored it, it would go away?

I would say most APP wanted to go further north, but would've like that it had been done intentionally and not as an emergency.

The worst is that we are not getting answers now because so many people are on "vacation." How can they do this and then allow people to go on go on vacation? Ridiculous.

APP Parent

Anonymous said...

Tour dates have been set for Lowell @ Lincoln Tours:

Thursday, July 28th: 6 - 8 PM
Tuesday, August 2nd: 2 - 4 PM
Wednesday, August 10th: 6 - 8 PM

The Lincoln building is being cleaned and furniture is being moved around the week of July 18th, so tours will start the following week. Parents are welcome to stop by the building and look around anytime the building is open, but formal tours will only be held on the above dates.

Lowell Parent

apparent said...

The Schools Directory on the SPS website now lists Marella Francois as the Principal of Lowell Elementary. Just happened to notice while clicking onto the Lowell site. This online directory contains no separate entry for the Lincoln school building.

Anonymous said...

From Lowell FAQ: Can people provide more details about Marella and Meany? Was Meany a school for gifted kids before APP? What did she do that was bad since it looks like she will be @ Lincoln. See below.

"Gregory King will oversee both schools as principal. Marella Francois and Rina Geoghagan will provide additional leadership at Lincoln."

Post in the Save Seattle Schools about Marella

KG said...

Marrella Francois Griffin is a terrible principal. Just ask employees who worked in the Meany magnet school program in 1996.

Institutional memory? You bet.

They probably kept her in a locked room with DeWanda Cook Weever for years expecting us to forget.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear this and then to blog anomalously. I can't stand this. She was given to Garfield free of charge during the early part of the last decade due to the some issue where the District has to pay her whether she is assigned or not. Is this still true. "Marrella Francois Griffin is a terrible principal. Just ask employees who worked in the Meany magnet school program in 1996."

Anonymous said...

Marella Francios Griffin's relationship with the District and the parent groups is just too toxic to believe that she still wants to work here.

Lowell Parent @Lincoln

Anonymous said...

From the other blog....

Anonymous said...

For some history, just google Meany and Ms Griffin's name and you'll get a serios of articles. Her time at Meany started with glowing reports of, but kinda went topsy turvy, to gone from the school after a year. I don't see much in the news where she went after that.

(Note: I take what I read from the media and hearsay with a grain of salt. But it's worth doing a little research while keeping an open mind as my mom used to say.)

Go to this:

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19960517&slug=2329632

Letter to Editor re: reassignment of Ms. from a parent:

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19960528&slug=2331550

This after she was removed as Prnicipal of 1 year from Meaney

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19970523&slug=2540794

1998, 2 years later

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19980211&slug=2733837

More telling is why would the district put a controversial and possibly polarizing figure into a controversial, demoralizing situation (fragmented school community) at this very moment?

another reader

Anonymous said...

Another post from the other blog.

Anonymous said...

From one of the referenced articles:

"She handpicked her whole staff and she can't seem to get along with the majority of them," said...one of the disgruntled parents. "Until the climate is one of teamwork and support, I think we're going to lose a huge number of teachers."

"With this one (Griffin), we've tried. I'll put it like that," said Roberta Bond, who was the school's site-council chairwoman during fall semester, referring to what she says is a lack of communication between Griffin and the parent group.

...The superintendent has staked a lot on Meany's success. The school had a reputation - somewhat undeserved in recent years - as a tough, inner-city school weak in academics. Stanford's goal was to create a challenging new academic environment that would attract kids from all over the city.

But several teachers who've left Meany were driven out by Griffin, according to teachers who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they fear for their jobs. Griffin threatens teachers with whom she disagrees with loss of their jobs or negative performance reviews, they allege.

"Meany Principal Getting Some Heat"

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19970523&slug=2540794

another reader

Anonymous said...

This is what has been posted on the Q&A page that the PTA is keeping up:

Gregory King will oversee both schools as principal. Marella Francois and Rina Geoghagan will provide additional leadership at Lincoln.

It sounds like there will be two principals at Lincoln for APP.

new lincoln parent

Anonymous said...

Rina Geoghagan was the assistant principle at Lowell last year. They should provide more details on what Marella role will be at Lincoln.

Lincoln parent

apparent said...

On the online SPS School Directory webpage, Gregory King is again listed as Principal of Lowell Elementary (Lincoln has no entry). Marella Francois is no longer so listed.

sad said...

Lowell is gone. In only two years, the district has destroyed it.

The district took what was once the top elementary school in Seattle and split it in 2009, mismanaged it for two years, and now shattered it into pieces.

Goodbye Lowell Dragons. Goodbye Lowell Way. Goodbye Lowell.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I took a peek in the Lincoln building yesterday and were pleasantly surprised. While the outside of the building looks decrepit, the inside was pretty nice: large windows, fairly big classrooms, more updated than Lowell by far. The gym is huge and the library was a good size also, so I think the facility will work well, even as a shared space.

vampirecat said...

I meant to sign the last comment as Zella917.

suep. said...

sad is right.

Nice work, SPS...

suep. said...

Another blow to Lowell APP -- just heard that yet another experienced APP teacher is leaving Lowell/Lincoln APP. Ms. Chow is going to Thurgood (closer to her home). That means that Lowell/Lincoln's three 2nd grade teachers will potentially have a total of only 2 years of APP teaching experience between them.

hschinske said...

Out of the seven teachers my two kids had at Lowell, only one will still be there after this year (two others will remain at TM as far as I know).

WV is "rends."

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Of the five wonderful teachers my child had at Lowell not a single one remains.

Very sad

Anonymous said...

Out of our 9 Lowell teachers, only 2 are left.

-- also very sad

Anonymous said...

We care for and support
All of the Lowell School family
We speak out against unfair and hurtful behaviot toward others
And get adult help when needed
We use extra effort to include all students in activities at our school
We care for and support
All of the Lowell School family

(I thought that had a good lesson for my kid, but hey, its no "I can learn and I will learn, I am unlimited"... )

- goldengoose

Mom of 2 qualified but not enrolled said...

Are you all happy now? (Just trying to interpret the silence.)