Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Film: Science Fair

"At some science fairs baking soda volcanos can grab the blue ribbon prize. But at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), a winning project is a design to kill cancer cells. ISEF is the grand championship of science fairs, where students from around the world submit their best research projects and compete in a high-stakes, hormone-filled challenge, which is showcased in full display in the new film, Science Fair."

This looks like it opens here this weekend:

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Some Washington M.S. Updates

First, I just returned from the school board retreat. Independently, amidst what was generally a discussion of improving the board/staff working relationship and not policy focused,  WMS was mentioned by both school board members and the superintendent. So awareness of the situation has bubbled all the way up the chain.

Also I received the following communication one from the HCSAC and the second from Principal Butler:


"Welcome back and hoping the best for the 2018-19 school year to you all!

I wanted to insure everyone knows there will be a special WMS PTSA meeting with first year Principal Butler Ginolfi on Monday, 9/17 at 7 pm to explain the significant schedule changes for all WMS students. A brief presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.

Robert Njegovan

HCS AC Communication Representative"

School Email

"Dear Washington Middle School families,
First, I want to apologize for the anxiety some students and families experienced the last two weeks. While many schools experience some shifting during the first month of school, a unique set of circumstances involving schedules, staffing, and budgets created a rocky start for many.

I was drawn to WMS because of the energy and commitment to creating a unified school community. I want to honor the work that has been done by families, staff, and our community and continue building on it.

I am writing to provide some updates, clear up some misconceptions, and invite you to join the PTSA meeting on Monday evening.

Class schedule update:  On Tuesday we finalized the remaining schedules and all students have complete class schedules.  Up until Tuesday of this week, the master schedule that was created last year was one the building could not afford or maintain. Between late resignations, hiring challenges, and changes to course offerings this year, we were able to fully fund the schedule we now have in place. We are also fully staffed at all positions with a recent recommendation to HR for our recently vacated Orchestra position.

HC courses: In alignment with our vision of one school community and breaking down siloes between students, we adjusted the course naming of HC ELA and Social Studies to “Honors” courses. The course titles are different than those that were used to describe HC or Spectrum courses previously. In the same way we would never want to specifically call out a Special Education class with a naming designation, HC class names have been updated to reflect a better sense of community within WMS, while maintaining the integrity of the HC program and cohort. No other change has been made to the HC curriculum or class offerings, or the self-contained cohorts. We continue to offer all HC classes that were previously offered including those that lead to high school credit. HC class sizes are consistent with averages from the last three years (35-36 students).

World Languages: With lower student enrollment numbers in our school, Washington Middle School is not able to offer any traditional beginning world language classes to 7th grade students this year. Students who completed Spanish 1A, French 1A, or Japanese 1A in 7th grade last year will be given an opportunity to complete the 1B continuation courses in 8th grade this year. Ms. Krasne will teach two sections of Spanish 1B. We are looking at other alternatives for students to complete French 1B and Japanese 1B because we were not able to hire a teacher for those languages this year. More details will be provided very soon to the specific families affected, as well as the full Washington Middle School community. We will continue to work with the district’s World Languages Program Manager, Michele Aoki (, to expand access to world language classes for all students in the coming year.

Music Program: The music program at WMS has a rich history and is renowned across the district. To expand music access so we can move closer to our goal of ensuring every WMS student has access to take part in our celebrated program, we are now offering four new sections of Music Survey that will increase the number of students participating in our program by more than 100. In order to increase this access, we reduced our band and orchestra proficiency levels to three levels from four, which is in alignment with what Garfield High School—a school with 1700 students enrolled—has in place.

Thank you to the WMS PTSA for inviting me to join the meeting Monday night, September 17th from 7:00-8:00. We want to make sure we can address as many questions as possible, so if you have questions you know you’ll want me to address, please feel free to send them ahead of time. Otherwise, we’ll ask families to submit questions at the beginning of the meeting so staff can gather the questions by topic and hopefully we will get to all the questions. I’ll post an FAQ to the WMS website afterward.

It is an honor to serve as your principal and I look forward to supporting your family this year.
Emily Butler Ginolfi
Principal, WMS "

Friday, September 14, 2018

K-8 Referral Period for identification ends 9/24

There is a little over a week left until 9/24.

AL pages on the process: SPS Link

Note: the K-8 referall window will open again in May if you miss this year.

There are different dates for H.S. and transfers so check on the page for less common cases.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

2019 National Merit Semifinalists

This years national merit semifinalists were announced and the numbers are much higher this year. Congratulations to all the winners.

Ballard: 3
Garfield: 13
Ingraham:  8

Seattle Times Link with more regional numbers: Seattle Times Link

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Washington M.S. turmoil

This is to track the situation at WMS:

[There's a thread here: on the SaveSeattleSchools blog  also discussing the issues.]

  • Schedules are still not stable as of 9/11
  • Music options have been reduced.
  • World Languages have been drastically reduced.
  • The LA/History classes are being labelled honors but its unclear if the content has changed.
  • Many (all gened?) of the students are being forced to take 2 periods of ELA rather than an elective.

Note Also:

Apparently the problems at WMS sound fairly similar to chaos Butler left behind at her previous school:

"Butler said she was working around the clock — including scheduling multiple interviews on weekends — to get all the positions filled by the first day of school just two weeks from today.
The same problem happened last year, after Butler was hired late in the summer. Students and parents complained of substitutes filling in for months until teachers were hired."

As a comment: I strongly disagree with much of the logic below which seeks to deflect blame for administration issues on HCC.

"Good evening, Washington Families,
We had a strong start to the week with great community-building taking place in advisories and at an all-school assembly on Wednesday and Thursday.  Due to scheduling problems, Friday was not a strong day at WMS, and for that I am ultimately responsible.

Many of you have questions and concerns about your child's schedule.  To give some context, the schedule was developed by previous administration with the hope that the school would receive an additional teacher allocation, which means that it included a position the school did not have. We were not given additional positions during the summer.  The position we needed but did not have funding for was an English Language Arts position, which is particularly concerning given just 29% of our students not served in any of the district's gifted programs have met grade-level standards.  Throughout the summer, we were also searching for a teacher or teacher(s) for our French and Japanese courses.  We had very few applicants, and, like Garfield High School, we were unable to find anyone to hire.  Given both budgetary and hiring challenges, we decided to use the position to address the bigger priority of not having enough ELA teachers. This was a decision made early on Tuesday, 9/5, after the last lead we had for a teacher fell through and Garfield HS sent out a message to its families stating that first year French and Japanese will not be offered to students until the 2019-2020 school year.  Students who were enrolled in French 1B and Japanese 1B will be given the opportunity to take the course on-line.  Students enrolled in Spanish 1B will take that course.  Despite working late nights, all day on Wednesday and Thursday during Strong Start, and literally all night Thursday evening/early Friday morning, I was unable to get all students fully scheduled for Friday morning.  I’ve worked the majority of today and will work all day tomorrow in order to have them ready when your children come to school on Monday morning.

Many of you have questions about world language at WMS.  I have been impressed by WMS families' interest in and commitment to equity.  While world language is not a content area often thought of on par with English, Math, Social Studies, or Science, it is, unlike PE, music, technology, or fine arts courses, very often a requirement for admissions to college.  Exposure in middle school is important for all students and is a typical part of middle school programs in grade 8.  In reviewing course requests developed in the spring based not only on student interest but also the school's staffing capacity, world language courses were to be taken almost exclusively by students in the Highly Capable program.  83% of the 220 students were slated to take world language were in the HCC program, despite that group representing just over half of our student population; only thirteen were black (20% of our population) and nine Hispanic (just under 10% of our population).  Given the inequity in these figures as well as budgetary issues in other areas, we pushed all enrollment in first level world language to the 2019-2020 school year, and will spend the next budget and scheduling planning year identifying ways to ensure 100% of our 8th graders have access to world language.  
Similarly, our music program has almost exclusively served HCC students.  Seventy-five percent of students who were slated to be enrolled in music this school year were in HCC and just 14% were black or Hispanic, and, due to our offering of four levels of band and orchestra and a course not offered at the high school level in Eclectic Strings, there were no opportunities to offer survey-level music courses which are standard in middle school.  When our famed orchestra teacher resigned two weeks before school started, it was not only a tremendous loss to the community, but an opportunity to increase all students’ access to our incredible music program.  We reduced our performance levels from four to three, which is in alignment with Garfield HS, and while difficult, decided to eliminate the course offering of Eclectic Stings/Fiddlers, which served only 17 students.  Instead, we have opened up four new sections of an innovative, entry-level music course that will enable 120 students who were not previously enrolled in music courses to participate in our music program. 
When you view your child’s schedule next week, keep in mind that we are not only a public school, but also a small, public school.  Washington lost over 500 students in the last year and a half, which was almost half of its general fund or baseline budget.  Additionally, almost 20% of our budget comes from additional Levy and LAP funding, which is exclusively for serving our students living in poverty and not meeting grade-level standards.  That is funding that has not always gone towards that purpose, but in making this year’s revised schedule, it was.  Given our advanced learning programs, we are a middle school that not only needs to offer intervention courses for more than a third of our population that is not meeting grade-level standards, but we also have offered upper-level high school courses atypical for middle school including Algebra 2, Chemistry, and Biology, all without receiving additional funding for students identified as ‘gifted’.  In middle schools, it is typical for all students to take a rotation of PE/health, music, visual art, and computer/technology.  Choice at the middle school level is often limited to whether or not a student opts to be in band, choir, or the general music course.  This is in part because middle school is all about breadth and exposure, while high school begins to be more about depth.  As consistent with past practice, all 6th graders will take Health and PE.  I have worked extremely hard to ensure that all students who requested band, choir, or orchestra were placed in those courses.  Seventh and eighth graders will take a rotation of art, technology, the new music course or PE.  The school may not be able to honor all requests to waive PE courses as was done in the past.  Aside from music, our second largest elective department is PE/Health, with two teachers, and getting physical activity during the school day is beneficial to learning in middle grades in particular with the absence of recess.

I will send another update tomorrow afternoon/evening.  Your patience and understanding is appreciated as we work hard to finish tomorrow.
Mrs. Butler Ginolfi, Principal"

2018-2019 UW Math Circle

Registration for the 2018-19 University of Washington Math Circle is now open.

 The UW Math Circle is open to seventh and eighth grade students from the greater Seattle area. Our weekly meetings are scheduled on Thursday evenings from 5:00-7:00PM at the University of Washington.  Our first meeting will be held on September 27, 2018.

 The purpose of the Math Circle is to explore new and exciting areas of mathematics that are not part of your typical school curriculum in an environment that is both supportive and challenging. It is our expectation that participants will attend our weekly meetings regularly and devote time to weekly homework problems outside of class.

 Costs involved: The UW Math circle is partially supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, as well as generous contributions of several of the Math Circle families. To be able to maintain our minimal level of funding, we have to ask participants to share a portion of the operational expenses of the Math Circle. We suggest a donation of $100 per semester to help cover the very basic needs of the Circle. Any amount your family is able to contribute — large or small — will be a great help.

 To sign up for the math circle, please follow this link:  To guarantee your spot, please sign up before 11:59pm on September 17, 2018. Registration will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis and may close before September 17 if we reach our capacity.

 Please feel free to direct any questions to Julia Pevtsova ( or Steve Klee ( We hope you will be able to join us this year! On behalf of the UW Math Circle, Julia Pevtsova (University of Washington) Steven Klee (Seattle University)