Lafayette Loves Admiral Menchie’s

This week, Admiral Menchie’s donated over 1,000 ounces of yogurt to over 120 Lafayette students who raised more than $200 each in Walk-A-Thon pledges. These Menchie’s parties were a huge incentive for these students to raise over $24,000 in sponsorships. The smiling students and statements of joy were almost as satisfying as the delicious yogurt. Please join the Lafayette PTA in thanking Admiral Menchie’s and the rest of our business sponsors for making this year’s Walk-A-Thon a success.

Kindergarten and 1st Grade Menchie's Party

2nd and 3rd Grade Menchie's Party

4th and 5th Grade Menchie's Party

Posted in Event, Fundraising, Walk-A-Thon

5th Annual Lafayette PTA Dinner & Auction

2015auction

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Doors open at 5:00pm for Festivities & Silent Auction
Dinner and Live Auction start at 7pm

The Foundry by Herban Feast
4130 1st Ave S
Seattle, WA 98134

The Lafayette Elementary PTA auction supports the great programs and resources that help our children succeed at school. It cannot be done without YOUR help!

DONATIONS ARE NEEDED!!!
Think you don’t have anything to donate? Things that do well at the auction include experiences, services, and gift cards. There are some other donation ideas below. You can enter your donation here: http://lafayetepta.com/auction/donate

VOLUNTEER POSITIONS ARE STILL AVAILABLE

  • Software Trainee – learn the auction software, help enter donations, help with registration and checkout the night of the event. 1-2 people needed
  • Procurement Chair – are you a go-getter, organized, can take the list of items and assign businesses and areas to the procurement team? Then this role is for you!
  • Procurement team member – fill out online donation forms, visit businesses and request donations. This is easier than you think. You will be trained, given a script, a list of businesses to visit, and forms to drop off!
  • Dessert Dash team; do dessert procurement, picking up donated desserts, and setting up the dessert table for the event.

A small army is needed for setup and for the night of the event. Visit http://lafayettepta.com/auction/volunteer to find the right position for you!

STUDENT ART
These art project are auctioned off during the live auction and last year they brought in over $14,000! Classroom parents should be contacting you to start your classroom art project soon. Contact Kathy Wimer (kswimer@hotmail.com) for more information or if your classroom needs help in any way. The Classroom Art Project must be turned in by March 1st!

Please contact Leslie Francis (lfran@outlook.com) with any questions.

DONATION IDEAS

TICKETS!
Are you a season ticket holder to the ballet, symphony, theater, or one of our Seattle sports teams? Donate a pair to raise big bucks!

MARKETABLE SKILLS
Do you have a friend, neighbor or family member who has a really cool job or hobby? Would they be willing to donate a few hours to educate others on what they do? Just donating 3-4 hours is plenty. Behind the scenes at a bakery, government office, or sports club house? Cool! Private lessons for golfing, snowboarding, knitting, or dancing!

ARE YOU CONNECTED?
Do you have connections to get some really cool technology donated? XBOX, iPad, Wii, iPhone, Kindle or Nook? Help get us plugged in and raise money for Lafayette PTA!

TIME TO EAT!!!
Do you like to cook or do you know someone who owns a restaurant or catering business? Can you teach someone to make something special? Restaurant gift cards are always a hit too! What else can be said? Lafayette parents love to eat!

FAMILY GETAWAYS!
Does your vacation home or timeshare? Why not donate the weekend to the auction?

GIFT CARDS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME DONATIONS!
Any sort of gift card (even at lower denominations) is welcome. These will be part of the silent auction; either individually or as part of a package or used as raffle and game prizes.

BASKETS OF GOODNESS!
Exciting gift baskets with inventive themes are always great sellers! Buy a basket and fill it up for a great donation which will get lots of attention!

Posted in Auction, Event, Fundraising, PTA Newsletter, School Bulletin, Volunteering

Keyboarding Skills Practice!

Dear Parents,

The Seattle Public Schools is proud to announce free Keyboarding Skills Practice for all students in Grades 2-8. They can build and improve their keyboarding skills at school and at home using Typing Agent. Using a web browser, (Firefox is recommended) go to https://seattleschools.typingagent.com.

Please have your child practice 15 minutes each evening. This will help them build speed and accuracy. Students will also be using this program during Technology Instruction.

Make sure they sit up straight and position their fingers correctly on the home row (See below).

typing

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Thanks for helping developing your child’s keyboard skills.

Sincerely,
David Zwiren
Lafayette Elementary Technology Educator
206-252-9516
dazwiren@seattleschools.org

Posted in School Bulletin

January PTA General Meeting featuring Dr. Christine Ybarra

Happy New Year, Lafayette Parents! You are invited to attend the first Lafayette PTA General Meeting/Parent Academic Information Session of 2015 this coming Thursday, January 22nd, beginning at 6:30pm. There will be a brief discussion of PTA business, followed by a comprehensive presentation by our own Assistant Principal, Dr. Christine Ybarra, on the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) currently in place at Lafayette.

Dr. Ybarra will discuss:

  • What Lafayette staff is doing, behind the scenes, to meet students’ needs on various levels,
  • How Lafayette is planning for differentiated instruction for students,
  • How Lafayette is meeting the educational and instructional needs of individual students at various times throughout the year in reading and math,
  • And more!

As always, free childcare will be provided. Please consider attending this meeting and important presentation, where we can all get to know each other better!

Posted in Event, PTA Newsletter

Enrichment Program Coordinator Job Announcement

JOB OPENING:

LAFAYETTE ELEMENTARY
ENRICHMENT PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Job Description. Coordinator will work with enrichment program instructors, Lafayette staff, the enrichment program committee, the PTA Board, parents, and students to administer and improve Lafayette’s before and after school enrichment program. Duties would include, among others:

  • Work with enrichment program committee, and independently, to select and develop new programs and classes.
  • Interface with instructors, Lafayette staff and administration, and parents regarding administration of the program.
  • General administration, including enrollment, roster maintenance, communication with teachers and instructors, collection of payments, qualification and payment of instructors, and room applications and assignment.
  • Respond in a timely manner to parent and teacher communications.
  • Provide periodic reports to enrichment program committee and/or PTA Board regarding status of program.
  • Work to develop strategies for improving the enrichment program, including development of forms and procedures.
  • Be present before and after school on a frequent basis in order to oversee the program and deal with issues is they arise.

Qualifications. Qualified applicants should:

  • Be reasonably capable of using Excel or other database management software;
  • Be generally available by email and cell phone most of the time;
  • Be detail oriented, with strong organizational skills;
  • Have a flexible enough schedule to be around before and after school frequently in order to meet with instructors, parents, and school staff; and
  • Be a member of the Lafayette PTA.

Time Commitment. The expected time commitment is approximately 5-10 hours per week, on average (though there will be busier and less busy times), for one calendar year, beginning on July 1, 2015. Note, however, that in order to facilitate the transition, we would expect the new Enrichment Program Coordinator to serve in an “apprentice” role with the current Enrichment Program Coordinator, in the Spring of the 2014.

Pay. $4,000, payable in four quarterly installments of $1,000.

To Apply. Please send an email indicating your interest to Chris Weinmann at cweinmann@karrtuttle.com. You don’t need to send a resume or anything, but a paragraph explaining who you are and why you’re interested would be appreciated. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Chris at 206-948-9673. Please notify of us of your interest no later than February 28th, 2015 so we can begin the transition process

Miscellaneous. This job is a lot of work. Even with the pay, serving as Enrichment Program Coordinator is in fact a huge service to the Lafayette community. We hope that anyone that takes it on would do so as much as a labor of love as for the pay. Almost half the students at Lafayette participate in the enrichment program. Because it includes scholarships and an extremely wide variety of classes, many kids participate in the Lafayette enrichment program who otherwise wouldn’t participate in any extracurricular activities at all. The enrichment program coordinator works directly with many of Lafayette’s teachers, parents, other staff and administration. If it is your goal to get to know the Lafayette community, this is a great way to do so. In short, it is a demanding job, but because it is so important to so many families, it should also be very rewarding.

Posted in Community, Enrichment, PTA Newsletter, School Bulletin

Representatives’ Forum with Marty McClaren (Meeting Notes)

Katy Walum introduces Marty McClaren from the Seattle School Board and Dr. Christine Ybarra, Assistant Principal of Lafayette School.

Katy shares Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon’s Answers to the following questions:

  1. What plans do you have for how the State of Washington will amply fund basic public education for all students in grades K-12 by the 2017-2018 school year, per the McCleary decision and the Washington State Supreme Court’s mandate for the legislature to come up with a clear plan by the end of the 2015 legislative session? According to the legislature’s Joint Task Force on Education Funding, the state must raise $4.5 billion by the 2017-2019 budget cycle to meet this obligation.
  2. Currently, Washington ranks 47th out of 50 states for class size, with an average of 25 students in grades K-3, 27 students in grades 4-6, and 29 students in grades 7-12. What specific plans do you have for how the State of Washington will fund initiative I-1351, based on class size recommendations from the legislature’s own Quality Education Council, which will phase in class sizes of 17 students in grades K-3 and 25 students in grades 4-12 over the next four years?
  3. The school building is the most basic need of any educational institution. Currently many districts across Washington are experiencing over-crowding, using “temporary” portable classrooms, teaching classes and providing lunchroom seating in hallways because of an inability to access adequate funding to build schools. Due to the accelerating growth in West Seattle, school enrollment in our area is continuing to rise and outpace capital building planning. Aging school facilities are also an issue. At Lafayette Elementary alone, the Seattle School District recently noted almost $2.8 million in building deficiencies. These deficiencies include no sprinkler system in the building, a 60 year old boiler used to heat the entire school building which is past its recommended lifespan, exposed rebar and rusty fence on playground, and a rotting outdoor ADA ramp, as well as many other issues. The report also notes that the most recent renovation to this school was 61 years ago.

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon’s Answers:
Because all of your questions relate to funding, I will answer your funding questions all together rather than be redundant.

The combined funding obligations of the McCleary decision, Initiative 1351, court decisions relating to mental health and foster care, and other needs indicate that the Legislature’s funding shortfall in the 2015-17 biennium approaches $4 billion. Any responsible budget will require tax increases. There is no way that we can secure $4 billion with our existing revenue, even if we chose to vastly pull back on funding to non-constitutionally required programs such as higher education, public safety, and non-Medicaid health care programs.

As a member of the House Finance Committee, I have strongly and consistently supported efforts to increase revenue and to make our tax structure more fair and sustainable. The House of Representatives passed, and I supported, a tax package in 2013 that would have extended an expiring tax increase on businesses and repealed certain tax exemptions and preferences, thereby raising about $1 billion per biennium. Unfortunately this legislation went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate.

I have cosponsored a variety of other revenue-generating bills including a capital gains tax. I would also support eliminating the I-747 1% property tax growth cap. I am not sure which “tax increases which are scheduled to expire” that you are referring to, as the temporary 20% increase in the business & occupation tax on service businesses already expired in 2013 and there are no temporary increases scheduled to expire this year.

However the revenue solution to which I am most committed is carbon pricing. Either a carbon tax or a cap and trade scheme would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate a large amount of new revenue for education and other state needs. In the 2014 legislative session I proposed House Bill 2803, which would have generated $2.3 billion per biennium for education with a $20 per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent tax.

I continue to believe that carbon pricing is the best way for us to secure new revenue for education, to cover needs such as general basic education funding required by McCleary, additional class size reductions required under I-1351, and capital costs of expanding classroom space. I also deeply believe that we have as much of a moral equivalent to future generations to provide them a livable and healthy world as we do to current generations of students to provide them a quality education.

I hope this is helpful to the Lafayette PTA. In order for us to successfully fund education we will need to you to continue to talk to your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers and others about the need for the state to raise revenue to meet the needs of yours and other schools.

Question by Paul Hagenson and Kristen Franklin-Temple-Parent of Kindergartener:
What is the plan, coming out of the report, to fund renovations for older schools like Lafayette?

Answer by Marty McLaren:
Basic answer is I don’t know. I do know there is a plan and all the buildings are listed with severities to the deficits. As we roll out the BTA levy plan different buildings are brought into it, depending on the severity of their issues. I will send you more details when I hear. As far as the safety issues in the front of the school, you are doing the right thing by telling me about it. It is reasonable that you are in contact with Pegi McEvoy, Assistant Superintendent of Operations. Flip (Rep. Fitzgibbons) will be in contact with her if there is a plan and what that is. Thank you for alerting me.

Follow-up Question from Taeya Lauer, Budget Committee Chair Person:
Front entrance safety issue addressed sooner than later, I need to get back to the Principal regarding this issue. It’s not just a parent issue, teachers, and administrators. Anyone can walk in here at any time of the day. I have asked the Principal to ask the district if there is a plan to address it. We want to know if there is a district plan, if not, what would the cost be to the PTA.
(Not enough time to answer, on to next question)

Question by Ellen Zoffel, Co-Secretary of PTA:
Why do our boundaries keep getting redrawn? I went over your response to this question and I don’t understand how the district makes their reports based on our high enrollment numbers, free and reduced lunches, old building, etc. How do we become a priority?

Answer by Marty McLaren:
Boundary changes designed with each schools max cap in mind to right size the school. It has to do with the capacity of the building. New boundaries drawn because we need to protect Alki because they have no space for any more students. The north end of West Seattle is becoming more crowded.

Ellen: So how do we become the school you are talking about, not Alki?

Marty: I’m getting out my depth here, I don’t know capacity numbers.

Question from Paul DeFonzo, Legislative Chair:
Why are Lafayette parents required to pay for full day kindergarten? Apparently there was some formula used by the District (25% of school had to be free and reduced?) but this does not appear to be the case any longer, since the District determined that Fairmount Park Elementary would have free full-day kindergarten before enrollment information for that school was even available. This does not seem equitable to our families.

Answer from Marty:
We don’t know. We thought that FP was well over 25% (31%) after enrollment, but that was not the case and next year they will not qualify. District will revisit 2015 later this year only 2/3 can offer full day K. District will review 2015-2016 school year. They continue to lobby the state for funding. We’re not making progress on that.

Follow-up by Chris Weinmann:
It makes no sense that one group would pay and across the street they wouldn’t have to. It’s $150,000, that is the size of our PTA budget, that our Kindergarten families are paying for school.

Answer from Marty:
That’s how the state does it.

Follow-up by Sarah Dillard:
There is no transparency with the district. Why do we pay when our FRL is 23% but Alki doesn’t have to pay for K when their FRL is 21%? Why can’t we find this information on the SPS website?

Answer from Marty:
I hope that more info is coming. The District had to shift to the Power School Information System and in this tech shift, the District lost ability to track data. Supposedly it’s coming back. They will publish more info in February.

Question from Rachel Hagenson, Vice President PTA:
How does the District decide which schools warrant a full-time nurse? Why is the PTA paying for a nurse, playground supervision, and lunchroom assistance? We view these as basic safety and health measures that the District should be providing for our children. We do not believe “give it to the teachers to do” is a viable solution. We do not want the teachers to have to do more recess duty, or lunchroom duty to keep our kids safe. We do not want the teachers or the office staff performing the functions of a nurse. Approximately 25% PTA budget goes to funding these salaries.

Answer from Marty:
State needs to fund schools adequately, by raising taxes. Operations levy. It’s horrific. There is just not enough money. Get in touch with legislative leaders.

Follow up question by Kirsten:
Is our own funding of these positions enabling the situation?

Answer from Marty:
I have an email from Ken on staffing standards: How does the district determine what schools warrant a full time nurse? “Level of nursing support that a school gets is based on the school funding formula…Elementary schools start with a min. of a nurse once a week up to a full time nurse, depending on school size and need. Schools decide, through their building leadership team, use their discretionary funding to fund full time nurse staff, reduce class size, or play for hourly playground/cafeteria supervisors. It’s part of a teachers responsibility to help with these needs, but it is up to the schools budgeting committee if they choose to pay for these services instead. Collective Bargaining Agreement is made in agreement with the staff of each school. CBA negotiated that one member of the office staff take responsibility for responding, when appropriate, when students are ill or injured.”

Question from Taeya Lauer, Budget Chair:
School start times- who dictates that? Because our school has such a late start time (and has had this for several years now), Lafayette’s working parents must pay for before-school care as well as after-school care, where working parents at other schools with earlier start times can often get by with paying for just after-school care. This, again, becomes an equity issue. I am in touch with Pegi McEvoy and on a few committees on school start times, but what should I do as a follow up with you?

Answer from Marty:
Please continue and CC me, it should be workable. The big question would be if it would go over the whole district.

Question by Cindy Adams 3rd grade Teacher:
How did the current math curriculum come to be adopted? Why did the Board not take the committee’s recommendation? Why were some schools allowed waivers? What data did you use to inform your decision, particularly when we expect our students to use data to inform their thinking and decision-making?

Answer from Marty:
It is going to be hard; MIF (Math in Focus) is such a different learning structure than most math programs. The first year is going to be a really heavy lift. Math department is really focused on professional development to teachers, family engagement to get parents on board. I can’t tell you precisely what they are going to do but we have a monthly report on MIF. There are professional development courses for this program offered by the MIF trainers and District.

Follow-up from Cindy Adams:
Large gap of time in retraining teachers, huge responsibility put on teachers to. What is the district doing for the people in the classrooms for support?

Marty:
I need to learn more about what we are doing for the teachers for support. MIF visual component is more accessible to wider range of people. Singapore Publisher provides pacing guides for aligning MIF with Common Core Standards. It was a very heavy decision to make. It was not arbitrary. I believe our students will reap great benefit from it. We will see changes in students starting in Kindergarten; it will be harder for upper grades. I will look into what is available for support. Email us or me.

Cindy:
Our school was not given a waiver, to teach Envisions, but two other schools were based on college and career readiness. We had a waiver as well but it was not withheld.

Marty:
Those schools already had existing waivers. I will follow up and find out why yours was not withheld.

Follow-up from Paul DeFonzo:
It sounds like the committee wasn’t supplied with all the information that was needed to make a recommendation for a math adoption. It sounds very dysfunctional to me.

Marty:
Everything was done impeccably to state law, to me the thing that needs to be addressed; you have board directors who wanted a simple, visual, not word heavy text. Our policy did not allow for a choice. Reasonably met with common core. We need to fix the policy so that there is a clear range of choices. It was a tough decision. Everybody did what he or she did for the sake of the children.

Who are the schools that have waivers?

Marty:
Thurgood Marshall and Montlake.

Question Chris Weinmann:
What is the overall plan for advanced learning in West Seattle? How do APP and Spectrum fit in with the various and changing tracks through our public schools in West Seattle? What is the plan to keep APP and Spectrum in middle school instead of bussing kids to Washington?

Answer by Marty:
Conversations are now underway to have a highly capable track at Madison Middle School. That is in the works, not a set date but it sounds like serious conversations are going to start in January.

Question by Pamela Q:
What is the plan for bussing for Lafayette students, why does there appear to be a disadvantage to general education students in their neighborhood schools? Including students who attend before and after-school care at local community centers? Transportation zone starts at 1.25 miles off the assigned school, general education students do not qualify for bussing to their pre-care and after-care programs unless they live outside the walk zone. Spectrum, IEP, or option school students all qualify for transportation regardless of their address, including before and afterschool programs, as long as they are in the service area. My daughter starts at Alki before school care, but the eliminated the bus service there. My family lives in the walk zone, but we are way down by Hamilton Point, and my daughter is 6 years old. We are both working parents; she is too young to walk to school, too young to be by herself, too young to take a bus, cab, etc. They have given us no options. The responses I have been given by SPS and Transportation systems are maddening and emotional. You can’t punish working families.

Follow-up Comment from Parent:
I signed up for busing, even though I didn’t need it, because I am a spectrum family, and other kids need it.

Answer from Marty:
It’s a travesty, I don’t have an answer. It needs to be a city thing.

Pamela:
They deliberately cut bussing to childcare to cut costs.

Marty:
You have all brought up some pretty tough points and I’m sorry. People understand the stress and the challenges that people are dealing with are a step. I am optimistic about our Interim Superintendent. Thank you.

Question Rob Duseburg with West Seattle Community Orchestra:
Symphony Orchestral music programs with local schools, non-profit, we can’t apply for permits until at least two weeks after school starts so we don’t get started until October because of how long it takes to get our permit process, which is a scheduling nightmare for our Christmas programs. It seems to be at the level of the District in processing our permits. Can we have permits done in the spring?

Katy Walum:
I know you did a lot of work and research for all of your questions, thank you. Thank you to Marty for coming and supplying us with answers.

End of Meeting.

See notes below:

The following are written responses Marty McLaren sent to the PTA before the meeting regarding specific questions and the MIF Adoption:
Lafayette PTSA questions. Nov. 30, 2014

1. School start times- who dictates that? Because our school has such a late start time (and has had this for several years now), Lafayette’s working parents must pay for before-school care as well as after-school care, where working parents at other schools with earlier start times can often get by with paying for just after-school care. This, again, becomes an equity issue.
This is the responsibility of district leadership and, ultimately the Board, which approves the transportation plan, upon which start times depend, each year.
History: As the district transitioned to the Neighborhood Assignment Plan in 2009, and as the state entered into the recession and schools suffered dramatic funding reductions, we looked for ways to reduce costs by streamlining transportation. In order to provide the highest possible level of efficiency, buses must drive more than one route in the morning. Traditionally, secondary schools tend to start early, elementary schools later. We have saved millions of dollars by simplifying to a three-tier system, with buses arriving at approximately 7:40, 8:30, and 9:20 or later.
As you may have heard, the Board has requested that staff conduct public engagement and analysis this year on switching elementary and secondary arrival times. We are doing this in response to parent demand: research has shown irrefutable correspondence between later secondary start times and increased student well-being and success, because adolescents need more sleep than younger students. Since elementary students are generally wakeful earlier, the switch could be a win/win. However, the logistical challenges of switching start times – to families, to various kinds of youth/child service providers, athletic field use, etc., are enormous. If the study yields a practicable plan, we may be able to make the switch in the fall of 2016.

2. How did the current math curriculum come to be adopted? Why did the Board not take the committee’s recommendation?
Please see my attached letter to a member of the Math Adoption Committee, answering these questions. Note the highlighted sections.
Why were some schools allowed waivers?
Two schools had previously been granted waivers to use the enVision text: since the adoption committee had determined that enVision aligns with the College and Career Readiness (or Common Core) standards, they were allowed to keep their waivers. In addition, three Montessori schools were granted waivers to use Montessori math, which aligns to that curriculum.

What data did you use to inform your decision, particularly when we expect our students to use data to inform their thinking and decision-making?
There is some discussion of data in my attached letter.

3. Why do our boundaries keep getting redrawn?
Changing population patterns are the root cause of boundary changes. For example, as one school’s neighborhood becomes more densely populated, the school may no longer have enough classrooms to serve the students. When addition of portables or other options have been exhausted, it may become necessary to shift the boundary closer to the school, so that some number of students become residents of other schools’ attendance areas.
Additionally, policy changes may affect boundaries: In 2009, the district changed from offering an array of school choices to a neighborhood assignment plan that limits student enrollment to, primarily, neighborhood attendance schools; in addition, due to declining enrollment, some schools were closed. These changes meant that there were dramatic boundary adjustments, both to define the neighborhood attendance areas and to redistribute the areas of the closed school buildings.
Ironically, almost immediately, the district began to see rising enrollment, and overcrowding in many schools. As a result, some schools were reopened, or construction of new schools was planned, with voter approved financing through the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) levy, passed in February, 2013. The district then set about a careful process of planning new boundaries to allow for both the newly opening schools and changing enrollment predictions.
In November, 2013, the Board approved a Growth Boundaries Plan designed to implement these changes in a methodical, well-thought-out manner. The plan includes phasing in the anticipated boundary changes over several years: each year’s changes are implemented to align with the opening of new buildings and/or to offset the growing capacity challenges in existing buildings.
Thus, the changes anticipated in northern West Seattle for the 2015-16 year help to address intractable overcrowding that is expected to increase at Alki Elementary next year; the adjustments will also position the area schools for the expected opening of the new Schmitz Park Elementary at Genesee Hill in 2016.
Two changes anticipated in southern West Seattle will relieve overcrowding at Denny/Sealth. The first will be that students rising to middle school from the newly reopened Fairmount Park will move on to 6th grade at Madison; many would otherwise have gone to Denny. Also, Sanislo risers will go to Madison in the fall of 2015.

Additionally in the fall of 2015, adjustments to boundaries of West Seattle, Sanislo, Highland Park, Gatewood, and Concord elementaries will relieve overcrowding at both West Seattle and Highland Park elementaries.

Marty McLaren, Director, SPS District VI, November 30, 2014

A letter from Marty McClaren to a member of the Math Adoption Committee who disapproved of the Board’s Math Adoption vote, attached in response to Advance Question #2

I’m very sorry that it’s taken me so long to reply to your thoughtful and candid letter. Before going on, I want to make it clear that I am speaking for myself only. I will give you my take as one of the authors of the Math in Focus Singapore amendment that the Board considered last month; also as one of the four Board Directors who voted in favor of it. Board authority rests in our public votes as a body; individual Directors ordinarily do not and cannot speak for the Board.

Your points are very well taken, and, indeed, this process has led me and others to think about how our policy can be revised to more successfully address the demands of selecting strong textual materials while also giving due deference to the knowledge and insights of Board members and of the wider community as well as to Materials Adoption Committee.

1. Selection criteria
Your statement that the prescribed process needs revision gets to the heart of the problem, in my opinion. Board Directors made several good-faith attempts to alert the committee, through the staff leads, that Directors were very concerned that the chosen text be accessible and not text-heavy, while still aligning with the Common Core Standards. However, it appeared that the MAC emphasized the standards over the other factors that made Math in Focus a superior choice in some people’s minds. Placing that criterion first did not accurately reflect our priorities. I, for one, believe that the alignment to CCSS can be worked out at the district level and can be efficiently shared district-wide, and thus enVision’s better alignment is not so important as other factors. I will refrain from going into more detail here about comparisons of the texts. Suffice it to say that, as you well know, thoughtful people came out on both sides.

2. Possible policy revisions?
I have so far heard two suggestions about changing our policy in order to provide better continuity between the adoption committee and the Board of Directors. I cannot speak to what changes the Board might ultimately make, but the two ideas are: To clearly request that the committee present the Board with a small array of options, ranked by the committee, with the understanding that the Board will select from among those options. Another idea is that Board Directors have the opportunity to nominate members of the committee (persons properly vetted by the Instructional Materials Committee). There may be other possible policy revisions as well that would facilitate a result that is widely accepted. One of my hopes would be that in the future, the Board would agree with the Committee regarding ranking of criteria.

Regarding the process as it unfolded: If you have patience to read more about my perspective, here is more detail:

3. Math Adoption Committee and the community
It is absolutely true that members of the Math Adoption Committee gave far greater time to the selection process than did the Board. Your work was orders of magnitude more intense and focused than ours — it was a prodigious accomplishment. However, it would be a mistake to infer that Board Directors were ignorant of the differences between the texts and of the advantages and disadvantages they would offer to students and teachers. At least three Board Directors had been passionate, deeply knowledgeable and well-informed advocates for coherent, challenging, and accessible math curriculum for at least five years before election to the Board – Directors Peaslee, Peters, and I. I believe each of us was elected with a clear mandate to address this issue. Other Board Directors have developed expertise through previous math adoptions and their own personal study of the issues. The same can be said for many members of the wider community. In the last 15 years, at least, a host of concerned parents, teachers, and tutors from throughout the region have been motivated to study math education extensively in order to ensure that their own children and students could successfully master basic and, often, advanced mathematics, despite the confusion many students experienced using district adopted texts.

4. Brief rationale for my choice
I am convinced of the integrity of the process followed by you and other members of the Math Adoption Committee, and I deeply regret the offense that has been taken because we selected the third place finalist instead of your top pick. A number of factors influenced my thinking as I took that step. I will only mention three: You were charged to judge texts according to their alignment with the Common Core State Standards, among other factors. While good alignment is important, I believe that the factor of accessibility of content of the texts is equally important – the visual, language neutral aspect of Math in Focus Singapore makes content much easier for students, especially those who have challenges with language, such as ELL students, to master. Also, prior to your deliberations, members of the MAC were apparently not made aware that Math in Focus publishes an online CCSS alignment guide; local math education advocates made sure that we Board Directors were aware of this. Second, Math in Focus Singapore has accrued a good track record over time – however, the MAC was not informed of the success that Highline students, for example, (despite the high rate of poverty in the district) have shown with MiF in the last three years; nor was the committee informed how Schmitz Park’s general education students’ state test scores rose from the 50th percentile to near or above the 90th within three years of the school’s adoption of Singapore (Math in Focus). You may have been told that Schmitz Park’s scores later declined as the school grew enormously and had an influx of new teachers and new students, both in kindergarten and in upper grades; I didn’t see that as a contradiction of the previous results. Finally, there was an outpouring of concern from members of the community representing all areas of the school district after the announcement of your choice; as you know, community members strongly favored Math in Focus (for the reasons cited above, plus others). On the other hand, there was very little community support voiced for enVision. These community members supporting MiF usually spoke from personal experience working with students – I found that their input was frequently informed by considerable expertise, not often did it seem driven by some sort of “bandwagon” effect.

5. Polarization of opinion; dual adoption proposal
Another factor worth mentioning in this story is the admitted divide between proponents of MiF and enVision – the two approaches have important differences, with many (not all) teachers supporting the former, and most community members supporting the latter. As you may have heard, Director Peters and I initially hoped to address this polarization by proposing a dual adoption of the two texts. Despite the attendant extra challenge of carrying out professional development for two adoptions, we believed that it would be wise to honor the polarity and allow principals the choice so that we could, essentially, pilot both texts over the next seven years and collect comparable data. A dual adoption would have also allowed for “cross-fertilization” so that, with two approaches (rather than the multiple approaches being used heretofore), teachers from different schools could learn from each other and might thus enhance their practice. It seemed like a “win/win” proposal. However, our leaders in the Department of Teaching and Learning were adamant that a sole adoption represented the best practice; given our respect for their expertise and for their responsibility of implementation, and our deep convictions around MiF, we changed our amendment to one for a sole adoption. (District staff was also concerned that that school communities would not have sufficient time to make an informed choice between the two texts if we approved of a dual adoption. We needed to order texts immediately after the vote in order to ensure delivery by the fall.)

With great respect, I apologize for the distress that you and other members of the committee experienced because our policy and criteria did not, in retrospect, match the needs of this adoption. It was a dynamic process, and I am determined that we will learn from it in order to modify policy for our next adoption so that the process fairly weighs and honors the input of all participants.

The Board, and the entire Seattle School District, owes you and your fellows on the MAC an enormous debt of thanks for your work on the K5 mathematics adoption. Ironically, despite your unhappiness with our decision, it was your work that enabled us to make our decision with confidence. The fact that Math in Focus Singapore was one of your top choices, based on painstaking analysis, was essential to the outcome.

Thank you for your work, and thank you for writing to us. In stepping up and participating in the MAC, as well as offering your feedback, you have demonstrated leadership and commitment that are both commendable and inspiring.

Yours truly,

Marty McLaren
July, 2014

Posted in Community, Event, PTA Newsletter

Math Buddies Program Comes to the West Seattle Library

Discover the joy of playing with real-world math through games and activities at the West Seattle Library! Children grades K – 5 will be paired with a teen volunteer “buddy” who will lead them through fun games that reinforce mathematical skills. This program is free and no registration is required (first come-first served).

West Seattle Branch
2306 42nd Ave SW
206-684-7444

Tuesdays, 4 – 5 p.m.
February 3, 10, 24
March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
April 7, 14, 21, 28
May 5, 12, 19

Posted in Community, PTA Newsletter

Eat and Earn! Marination Ma Kai on Thursday, Jan. 15th

Plan to have your dinner at Marination Ma Kai after 4pm on Thursday, Jan. 15th and Marination will donate 10% of sales back to Lafayette’s PTA! Just mention you are a Lafayette Family when you eat.

Posted in Community, Event, Fundraising, PTA Newsletter

Early Release Jump Rope Party on 1/14

A Ropeworks’ “jump Rope for Fun and Fitness” Special Event! This workshop costs $30 and will take place on January 14th, from 1:30-3:40pm. Kids grades 1-5 may participate, whether you are in jump rope class or not. The special workshop day will include:

Single Rope Skills
Lots of jump rope games
Watch jump rope videos by the BEST jump rope athletes
Relay Races
Work in skill books & choreograph routines (older jumpers)
Double Dutch – prizes and more

Register for this workshop online at http://learntojumprope.com/classregistration.

Posted in Enrichment, Event

Do You Have an Idea to Improve Lafayette?

The PTA Budget Committee is creating a wish-list of ideas and themes to build future fundraising campaigns! If you have an idea that you’d like to have considered for the 2015-16 budget, please complete this form and return it to the PTA slot in the school office or email it to Taeya Lauer at tlauer123@yahoo.com. Forms will be accepted throughout the year, however the deadline for ideas for the 2015-16 school year is January 23rd, 2015.

Posted in Budgeting, PTA Newsletter

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