Monday, September 17, 2012

BEX IV and APP

A draft of the BEX IV plan came out recently, and it sounds like parents are getting concerned.

One parent wrote:
it shows APP@Lincoln through 2016-17. The modernized Lincoln high school is shown as opening 2019-20 (a current 5th grader would be a HS senior). The interim site for Lincoln HS would be the John Marshall building, beginning in 2017-2018 (a current 5th grader would be a HS sophomore). Beginning in 2014-15, John Marshall is scheduled to be an interim site for the new middle school at Wilson Pacific (a current 5th grader would be in 7th grade). John Marshall is shown as an interim site beginning in the 2013-14 school year, but with no indication of who would be there. Will APP@HIMS be split, and/or moved to John Marshall for next year, when JM becomes an interim site? Is the interim site for APP@Lincoln just for elementary?
Another quoted a SNAPP (the north-end PTA) e-mail saying:
If approved, the BEX IV levy will provide capital funding for 6 years (2014-2019) to help with building remodeling, replacement, and new facility projects district-wide.

We are very troubled by the lack of a clearly defined plan for APP@Lincoln and the uncertain future of north-end elementary APP. We are therefore asking families to attend the first BEX IV community meeting, this Thursday, September 20th from 6:30-8PM at Whitman Middle School (9201 15th Ave NW).

We have 3 major concerns at this time:
1: APP@ Lincoln has no clearly designated building assignment in this latest iteration of BEX IV projects. Because the district considers APP@Lincoln to be a program, not a school, they can "slice and dice" us as they see fit to meet capacity needs rather than to meet advanced learners' needs.
2: As a program, our placement is decided by the Teaching and Learning department, which is currently lacking a director and interim director due to recent personnel changes within the district. Without decision-makers who understand the academic, social, and emotional needs of highly capable learners, our school remains an easy target for displacement and disbandment.
3: The district is not utilizing student roll-up data (ie, projecting which middle schools current elementary students will attend based on current elementary assignment patterns rather than home addresses) to assess needs for middle-school capacity. As a result, the district is not building sufficient middle-school seats in our region.
BEX IV will determine capacity for the next several years. Certainly looks like it doesn't do much to address the poor temporary location of APP elementary in the north-end at Lincoln nor the severe overcrowding at Hamilton. And I'm not sure if the BEX IV plan has much in it to address likely overcrowding at Thurgood Marshall, Washington, and Garfield either.

Update: Charlie Mas just put up a post, "BEX IV Re-order", that has some thoughts on BEX IV.

11 comments :

Steve said...

I hope parents pack the house this Thursday (September 20th) at the BEX IV community meeting from 6:30-8PM at Whitman Middle School (9201 15th Ave NW). Make your views known about APP with respect to this levy and the future plan for APP (elementary and middle school especially - all over the district).

To me, the lack of a cohesive plan about advanced learning in Seattle Public Schools is both a.) causing capacity problems and b.) giving the District a means to deal with the poor planning by constantly shuffling around APP to meet short-term needs. It's like whack-a-mole, or like our kids are mortar between the bricks...pick your metaphor. Either way, I'm not convinced that it's in the best interest of kids in this program, or kids anywhere who can benefit from a program like APP, Spectrum or ALO. See you at Whitman on Thursday...

Steve

Steve

Lori said...

The BEX IV plan also indicates that they are considering "Building stronger core facilities to provide for expansion and including academic program placement and services close to where families live."

That could be interpreted to mean that part of dealing with APP in the long-term is to simply disband the program and send children back to their now-larger, expanded elementary schools.

It sounds benign in the abstract ("of course kids should go to school close to where they live") but for north-end APP, having children served close to where they live and keeping them together as a single, robust cohort of like-minded peers are mutually exclusive goals.

Be on the lookout for this sort of language seeping into capacity planning documents. We need to ask at the community meetings exactly what that language is supposed to mean, and to what populations it applies.

Anonymous said...

There's a great Op-Ed piece in the Sept 18 New York Times about the need for gifted education in public schools.

Here's an excerpt: "Many more students could benefit from schools like these {exam schools like APP} — and the numbers would multiply if our education system did right by such students in the early grades. But that will happen only when we acknowledge that leaving no child behind means paying as much attention to those who’ve mastered the basics — and have the capacity and motivation for much more — as we do to those who cannot yet read or subtract.

It’s time to end the bias against gifted and talented education and quit assuming that every school must be all things to all students, a simplistic formula that ends up neglecting all sorts of girls and boys, many of them poor and minority, who would benefit more from specialized public schools."

I plan on citing the NY Time op-ed piece when I email school board members and Supt Banda about the BEX IV Levy.

APP Mom

Anonymous said...

We are considering APP for middle school. I've heard Hamilton will be out of room next year. Is this true, and if so, what will happen to north-end middle school APP?

Concerned parent

Zella917 said...

No one can give you a definite answer on that, because the district isn't giving us that information. My guess is that if the new BEX measure passes, they will plan to put APP in the newly built middle school at Wilson Pacfic. I believe the interim site while the new school is built will be John Marshall, and they will likely have kids start going there at least a couple of years before the new school opens. So I hope my current sixth grader will make it through all three years in APP at Hamilton, but I wouldn't be surprised if changes started happening sooner.

Anonymous said...

I'm less optimistic than Zella, and I'm bracing for changes as early as next school year. Given our past experiences, it could even be announced after open enrollment. Of course, it's just a hunch.

Anonymous said...

I asked Marni Campbell at the HIMS meeting last week about the future of the APP program at HIMS. She replied that she is not aware of any changes planned for next year at this point of time. Which is quite interesting since the 8th grade APP class that is leaving contains about half as many students as the the incoming 6th grade class will hold (next year).
HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

To put that in context, when Lowell's principal was asked about what will happen with so many students he responded that Lowell would still be there...which it was, so he was being truthful, though APP students ended up moving. MC can be correct in stating that she's not aware of any changes at this time (and, really, they probably won't plan anything until the numbers come in), but that doesn't bring me much comfort.

Anonymous said...

Remember that a mere two years ago the district would also have said there were "no plans" to change Lowell in any way. They hadn't even started measuring the special education classrooms so that they could take that much needed space from them in order to squeeze in ever more kids.

The district is continuing on it's popular path of ignore until it's on fire. The district didn't announce any plans to move Lowell until just before school ended. We have a long way to go until we know about next year.

-been around

NESeattleMom said...

Capacity flexibility: Building larger core facilities to provide for expansion and including academic program placement and services close to where families live.

This is a quote from today's letter about the BEX IV plan. Does anyone know what they mean by the sentence above?

dw said...

Capacity flexibility: Building larger core facilities to provide for expansion and including academic program placement and services close to where families live.


One could easily interpret that to mean APP will be split up into several regional locations. In other words, the fulfillment of the dissolution of APP.

I think the text above is actually bigger than that, but unless this mindset of the administration is fixed (and fixed soon), I think it's clear this is on their minds. APP is in real danger, and parents are going to have to step up their advocacy if they want to keep this program alive and not diluted down to nothing. Be sure to discuss this with your School Board Directors at their community meetings, and email the superintendent as well.