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Budget, transportation, and policy effects dominate Part II of Kay Smith-Blum meeting

About 15 to 20 community members and parents attended the second and original/official School Board Director Kay Smith-Blum community meeting on Saturday morning at the Douglass-Truth Library (see Part I).   The more relaxed space and time allowed for a more focused discussion on each topic.  School budget, transportation, the World School (Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center), and Special Education were dominate, along with a question wondering if the School Board meetings are still  being televised or streamed live.  

A representative from the the former Garfield Design Team raised questions about joint use agreements between the District, the community, and Parks especially in regard to the Quincy Jones Auditorium and Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center.  He was also interested in pursing and finalizing some of the plans for the super block (23rd to 25th Avenues, and E. Alder to E. Cherry) as had been outlined in the Garfield plan.  While the District is not necessarily responsible for funding art and parking mitigation, he was hoping to reconvene the Team to, for instance, help the community decide on the art work which was suppose to represent all 5 of the major ethnic groups that have lived in the Central District.  This type of work is necessary in order for the community to pursue the funding.    Kay took notes and referred him to the new Director of Facilities, Bill Martin.

Director Smith-Blum indicated that there may have been some recent changes in the how the School Board Meetings are broadcast in response to a question.  The videos are definitely still available on Channel 26 and likely broadcast live there.  Videos of the meetings are streamed on the Seattle Channel but perhaps no longer streamed live.  She suggested contacting Erinn at the School Board office:(206) 252-0041.

While a representative from TOPS was the attendee to express concern regarding the new transportation plan, it is probably something many in Area 4 should note as there is a portion of Area 4 not within 1.25 miles of any school, especially  the assignment area school.  Under this proposal (yellow bus service) would not be provided to students attending and living further than 1.25 miles of their assignment area schools. These policies as outlined in the link below would profoundly affect Option schools.  TOPS presented Kay an analysis to demonstrate that carrying through with the transportation plan for TOPS may actually prove to be more costly than the current one.

Transportation Meetings for public engagement:

Thursday, February 3, 2011,6:30-8:00 p.m., Hamilton Int’l Middle School,1610 N. 41st St., Seattle, WA 98103

Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Chief Sealth Int’l High School, 2600 S.W. Thistle St., Seattle, WA 98126

 A parent who had been a member of an advisory committee addressing Integrated Comprehensive Services (ITC)  questioned if the the current situation for the inclusion vs the self-contained rooms is being fairly represented to the Board by District staff.  Kay indicated that the Board is award of some the successes and some of the challenges, and that the Board may request a separate report with more details regarding the challenges and professional development in that area.

In response to budget concerns Kay indicated that the Board is definitely looking to keep those as much as possible away from the classroom.   The Weighted Student Staffing (WSS) formula determines much of the classroom staffing.  Leaving that alone is the number one priority.    Central Administration is still one of the main areas considered for cuts since Seattle still has a fairly high ratio of their funds going to the central staff compared to other similar districts. Renegotiating union contracts especially in the area of benefits is something she supports. Cuts to new more costly initiatives in the Strategic Plan are also under consideration.  Here Kay received kudos from representatives from the World School for her advocacy to protect the plans to allow students to remain at the school longer and until they are older.  Despite the fact that a community survey seemed to indicate that the public supported cuts to central staff and sports, the District is not considering cuts to sports. 

Kay agreed with proponents to change or at least review the District’s difficult policies regarding allowing high school student to transfer schools at semester, especially in the case where the exit and receiving school agree that this would serve the student well.

Kay made two announcements:  A contract with Teach for America (TFA)  has been signed allowing their corp members to be considered during the third round of hiring.  In response to questions she said she supported taking a look at what percentage of new hires they would be.  She also let the community know that Garfield is working to eliminate the second year of sanctions for their football team.  The final decision on this should be known within a couple of weeks.

0 thoughts on “Budget, transportation, and policy effects dominate Part II of Kay Smith-Blum meeting

  1. Sometimes copy and paste fails. Below is the response so far:
    The transportation zones are proposed to begin in three years. At that time the 1.25 mile radius is set up as a transportation framework that can potentially accommodate students within a 1.75 mile radius and that covers a very large area in the Washington service area. Additional transportation will continue on for schools that provide ELL and Spectrum and in those cases additional students may take advantage of that
    Tom. Bishop
    There is still a portion of Area 4 that is more than 1.75 miles from Stevens. His email address is: [email protected]

  2. It’s really great to get such detailed reporting on SPS issues. Thanks!

    Perhaps due to a formatting error, I am a little confused about Tom Bishop’s exact response. Can you repost it?

  3. (1) The 1.25 mile limit proposed in the new Transportation Service Standards does not impact Option Schools. Option Schools will retain transportation from the entire Middle School Attendance area so will not be ‘profoundly effected.’ TOPS parents are concerned about kids assigned to TOPS under the old assignment plan who live outside the WMS area. Those kids will be cut off from busing to TOPS in ’12-’13 and won’t have a guaranteed seat at any school they can get to because they won’t be in ‘entry grades.’ Many of the south end kids may end up bused back north under No Child Left Behind rules, so will cost the District more than if they are allowed to finish 5th grade at TOPS.
    (2) Transportation Zones for attendance area schools will include anyone who lives outside of the walk zone and is assigned to that school as their neighborhood school. So even if Zone 4 is greater than 1.25 miles away from Stevens, kids in that area will get a bus to Stevens as long as it is their attendance area school.

    Charlie Mas posted a very clear summary of the proposed changes on Jan. 27th at: )

  4. I checked the post. Maureen, is this the post from the saveseattleschools.blogspot? Where are you seeing something different?
    “Here is the short, ugly truth: students assigned to attendance area elementary and K-8 schools will be eligible for yellow bus transportation if they live within 1.25 miles of their school and within the school’s service area (the Transportation Zone). Students living within the walk boundary, an area immediately around the school which has not yet been defined, will not be eligible for transportation. The Transportation Zone will look like a doughnut which will have an outside edge 1.25 miles from the school (less if the service area boundary is closer) and a hole in the middle for the walk boundary.

    Transportation from a wider area will be made available for students enrolled in special programs such as ELL, EBOC, Special Education, APP and Spectrum. The stops for the routes to serve students living outside the Transportation Zone for their school will located at schools.”

  5. Maureen, please see post below for correction of your statements. I totally understand the TOPS situation. Since it has traditionally drawn from across the District the students and the school will be profoundly affected. Yes, the main concern expressed has been for the south end kids. The reality is that the school has drawn from all areas and that it will be affected. Yes, the TOPS representative presented the analysis to Kay. I think the other piece that is not taken into account is that research regarding students from schools that are closed shows that their achievement patterns usually decline. I would assume that this might also translate to any student who is forced without choice to change schools.

  6. At the community meeting for the Transportation Plan at Aki Kurose last week, Mr. Bishop clarified the size of the Transportation Zones. They will have a radius of 1.25 miles around the school except that they will be reduced to stay within the middle school service area and they will be extended to cover the school’s entire attendance area.

    So Stevens students living within the Stevens attendance area will be provided with transportation even if their homes are more than 1.25 miles from the school.

    This does represent a change from what was initially said and reported.

  7. Hi Charlie, thank you for the clarification. Kay did not seem to know this information on Saturday as she referred to the 1.25 mile zone. Why did Tom’s email to me simply state that it has been extended to 1.75 miles in this case rather than just saying the “attendance area?” 1.75 miles still leaves some students out. I am emailing Tom for a clarification of his answer to me. Just making it the attendance area seems simpler and more in line with the idea of assignment.

  8. Joanna, I’m sorry if I was unclear. I thought you were implying that Option schools would also be limited to transportation only within 1.25 miles or at least that this NEW proposal would hurt Option Schools. It is true that Option schools (TOPS in particular) will be profoundly impacted by a loss of transportation over their historic service area, but that started last year when the New Student Assignment Plan went into effect and four Board Directors voted against five year grandfathering of busing (and limited it to two years). That hasn’t changed under this new proposal from Tom Bishop. The issue TOPS has is that next year is the last year of grandfathering. Thank you for pointing out the negative impact of this on TOPS’ most vulnerable students.

    At the December Operations Committee meeting where he first presented this plan, Tom Bishop explained that the transportation boundary for neighborhood schools would bump out to the boundary for that school. The example he used was Van Asselt which has a very long skinny attendance area, but the same would be true for Stevens’ current boundary.

  9. that it is 1.75 miles not the “attendance area.” I don’t think that was totally clear at the Operations Committee meeting and is not now clear. He got back to me immediately just yesterday with the 1.75 miles extension without a word regarding “attendance area.” I need to see him put into writing somewhere. “Attendance area” would be simple and nice to see even if 1.25 or 1.75 works for most. It would spell out intent of the policy.

  10. If you dig deep into the Transportation Page at SPS:

    It says:
    Transportation Zones

    Transportation Zones will include the entire attendance area of a school (emphasis added)
    Transportation Zones will extend to areas within a 1.25 mile radius from the school and within the middle school service area
    Walk zones to schools will still apply

  11. Thank you. I don’t think I can attend the transportation meetings to answer all the little questions. I don’t want to go to all the meetings. If the plan is to include the entire attendance area, why does the District continue to list 1.25 miles as a criteria? Does this mean students not living in the attendance area but within that radius may be eligible for transportation? My understanding has been that only students within the attendance areas would receive transportation.

  12. on exactly what the intention of the materials on the new transportation policy is. So that I can move on and stay away from the subject for a few days, I left the following comment for transportation and Tom Bishop:
    If on the transportation plan you intend to serve all students in the attendance area except for those who live in the walk zone, please eliminate the statement from your policy that seems to restrict it to those who live within 1.25 miles of the school. If the intention is to imply something different then say so. These two statements conflict. Be clear about your policy.

    If the point is to call out the families who live more than 1.25 miles from the attendance area schools as expensive and a drag on the system, then please do an analysis on how much reopening TT Minor with a community supported program could save the District on transportation.
    Thank you.