Thursday, March 29, 2012

Already a shifting puzzle . . .
When starting to put a puzzle together I like to know that all of the pieces are in the box and I always begin with the frame. The puzzle that we face in trying to potentially build a new high school in the “donut hole” became a little more difficult today. In a brief conversation with a staff member in Executive Constantine’s office I learned that a land swap will not be a possibility, we will need to purchase the property. Though it is not necessarily what we or executive staff prefer, it is necessary because the property is owned by the Roads Division and current law requires that they receive full value for any surplus property.

Add to this that last week I learned that there is currently an agreement for future development on the site between the city and county that does not allow for a school. So, before we can even begin fitting pieces of the puzzle together the frame keeps moving. This could be depressing and cause us to fall back on our previous plans to build on the Junior High site, or it could mean that we need to get going and begin using some of the skills in our Outcomes and Indicators to ensure that we have the proper puzzle pieces and that they fit together. The vision is still hazy, but it also remains alive even with this new information.  I’m all for finding the necessary pieces and asked the county staffer today to arrange for a meeting to formally begin the conversations.

There are too many positive benefits to this potential project for us to not exhaust all possible options for securing the property and moving forward. It will not be easy as we find ourselves in the middle of difficult conversations between the county and city on a vision for this property, but perhaps we can serve a useful role with the district’s new high school as a visual symbol of how public agencies can partner for the greater good. This is a great example of the “real world” problems that we want our young people to engage with and an opportunity for the adults to roll up their sleeves and model being complex thinkers, collaborative workers, effective communicators, quality producers and community contributors. Wow, one problem with so much opportunity for learning and growth.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A complicated, but important puzzle . . .
Last week while making a presentation to the Chamber, we shared the potential to partner with King County on a land swap of our excess property on the Junior High site for property within the “donut hole”, an island of unincorporated land within the city. If we are able to put the many pieces of the puzzle together it could result in building a new high school on this site, something that many in the community have sought over the years. Since that meeting, we are beginning to see conversations starting in the community including this piece on the Maple Valley Post.

Why a new high school? As we have reflected on last spring’s failed bond measure to create much needed additional capacity in our system, it became clear that our plan would result in increased capacity, but much of it would be simply adding more space within the constraints of an existing footprint. Except for new elementary spaces, it would not be driven by a vision for the future. That leads us to why a new high school? Given this potential land swap, if we can have only one new school driven by a vision for the future we believe that school should be our high school. The concept was further influenced by my involvement on the county’s School Siting Task Force and came to life with a positive response from county staff when approached with the possibility of the land swap.

We are excited about this possibility to collaborate on this potential project with both the county and city of Maple Valley. The county would be involved with the land swap and the city with the potential to develop fields on city owned land adjacent to the donut hole property. This would allow us to have a smaller footprint, thus reducing the acreage that we would need for the school. There are many issues that need to be resolved before we will be able to think about a bond measure, but there is a hazy picture beginning to emerge on the horizon of how we can place all of our current and future students in quality learning environments that includes Tahoma High School with a Maple Valley address.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Success keeps rolling in . . .

Another group of high school students competed over the weekend in the Washington Technology Student Association competitions and once again Tahoma students did well.  Their advisor is Crystal Hess, high school technology instructor.  I follow her blog where I learned about the results of the competition and found this picture.  She described it in these words.

I am soooooo proud of my students!! I took 12 students to our TSA state conference this year--the most we've ever taken. ELEVEN of the 12 students placed in the top 5 for one of their events! They did awesome, awesome, awesome, and I could not be more proud of them ALL. I am impressed with their professionalism, hard work, and enthusiasm.

You can read the rest of the post and view an album of the event here.  I enjoy Crystal's blog and have come to appreciate and admire her commitment to students through her posts as well as enjoying her young son, E's experiences.  Give it a look.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

To charter or not . . .
I received two comments to my Teach for America post Thursday from Scott and Jonathan with a similar message. If a district were in a situation where they could not fill positions then TFA might be a viable alternative, but not given our current reality. I’ll follow this by sharing a Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) post from Thursday taking on state Democrats and the Governor over the lack of action on the Charter proposal put forward this session by Representative Pettigrew. In it Lisa Macfarlane, State Director, uses the following language to set the tone for the post.

And then there's our Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire with her hardheaded unscientific opposition to charter schools and her treat to veto any charter school bill that gets to her desk. "I have told them I will veto it. I will veto it," said Gregoire.

Governor Gregoire does not seem to care that 41 other states have charter schools and she must have missed the memo from President Obama and his Democratic administration promoting their strong support for the expansion of high quality public charters. Why would our Democratic President do such a thing, our state party leaders might ask? Because there is an urgent need to accelerate student achievement in under-represented groups, and the research shows that public charter schools serving low-income, urban students consistently outperform traditional public schools.

What caught my eye was the link to the “research shows” since much of what I read suggests that her claim is not accurate. So, clicking on the link sent me to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools site. One might think that this site would be supportive of public charter schools as was the case when I reviewed the “Understanding Charter School Research” section. In it, the Alliance debunks the notion put forward by the authors of the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) study out of Stanford University that the findings were mixed and that the authors emphasized the more negative results of the study. They suggest that by going further into the data over time that it becomes clear that charter students out perform their counterparts in public schools.

I see no sense in debating the point; there are many studies out there that I believe the consensus would be that results for charter schools are mixed at best. To suggest, however, from one study that charter schools serving low-income, urban students consistently outperform traditional schools is not accurate. It concerns me that DFER and other organizations use data and language such as this to influence policy makers with increased success across the nation. Our legislators need accurate, unbiased data, as they make critical policy decisions that influence our work, not trends or unsupported positions by advocates for a particular position. I believe that we need better ways to get accurate information to staff members who have access and the ability to influence the legislators as they struggle with these important issues.

Perhaps they should read this opinion piece in Saturday’s Time by columnist Sirota who sites the same study as MacFarlane.

In recent years, major studies suggest that, on the whole, charter schools are producing worse educational achievement results than traditional public schools. For example, a landmark study from Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes discovered that while 17 percent of charter schools "provide superior education opportunities for their students," a whopping "37 percent deliver learning results that are significantly worse than their students would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools."

Sirota does, however acknowledge that there are successful charters, just not THE answer that many would have us believe.

Does this all mean that charter schools are inherently bad? Of course not — there are some terrific charter schools out there. However, the data do suggest that charter schools are not a systemic answer to America's education crisis. In many cases, in fact, they make the crisis worse, not only exacerbating inherent inequalities, but also distracting attention from the real ills plaguing the education system — ills rooted in economic inequality and anemic school budgets.

Given the chance, I would guess that DFER would say that teachers through the Washington Education Association do the same thing and have over time wielded a powerful influence in Olympia, one that they are attempting to change. We’ll see how that plays out as the budget resolution unfolds. If we are surprised by charters resurfacing in the compromise we will learn much about the shifting balance of power in state politics

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Huge win, on to St. Louis . . .

Our Robotics Team, Bear Metal, dominated the regional competition over the last two days and is now headed to the national competition in St. Louis.  I was so impressed this morning as they went round after round undefeated.  Marcie Maxwell, State Representative from t he 41st districtcame up to me and  shared how everyone was talking about the team from Tahoma.  The kids and their adult mentors did an incredible job creating the robot, operating it, and forming an alliance that contributed to their success in the finals. 

You can see in the chart below how dominating they were, losing only one round in the tournament.  Tahoma is Team 2046, First Place.  You can learn more about the competition at the FIRST Robotics site here.

The competition required the robots to shoot and make baskets with small basketballs as well as being able to balance with other alliance robots.  The picture below is our team practicing the balancing maneuver with two other robots.  I think there was also some negotiating taking place to form a winning team for the finals.

The team took first place and also won multiple awards including the most prestigious award in FIRST, the Chairman's Award.


The Chairman’s Award was created to keep the central focus of the FIRST Robotics
Competition as our ultimate goal for transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater
levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encourage more of today’s
youth to become scientists, engineers, and technologists.

The Chairman’s Award represents the spirit of FIRST. It honors the team that, in the judges’
estimation, best represents a model for other teams to emulate, and which embodies the goals
and purpose of FIRST. It remains FIRST’s most prestigious award.
On Friday, one of the mentors, Eric VanBuren, was awarded the Woodie Flowers Award for Regional mentor of the year.  He was nominated by the students for this award and is pictured below.
Another highlight of the event was the music from members of our drum line.  They came to support Bear Metal and did it in style.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

For TFA or not . . .

The Seattle School Board at last night’s meeting voted 4 to 3 to continue the partnership next year for six Teach for America (TFA) teachers. I know something about TFA, but have not followed the conversations in Seattle and Federal Way, the only two districts with TFA teachers in our state. If you are not familiar with the organization, they recruit college graduates and place them in high poverty schools following a TFA-developed training program. The program is a nontraditional approach that does not require state certification. I have included part of their mission from their web page below

. . . Teach For America’s mission is to build the movement to eliminate educational inequity by developing such leaders.

• We recruit committed recent college graduates of all backgrounds to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools

• We train and develop these corps members so that they have an immediate positive impact on their students

• We foster the leadership of our alumni as they address this problem from all sectors

It seems from this Seattle Times article that the vote on this contract has been one of the two most controversial proposals it has considered this year. Fifty community members signed up to speak and of the 20 that did get the chance it appears that the majority were against continuing the relationship with TFA.

I found this quote from the Board President informative and interesting.

DeBell also said the debate over TFA has been distracting to normal district business, especially considering the small number of TFA teachers who have been hired.

"We sure have devoted a lot of time to six teachers," he said.

TFA is looking to increase its presence in the area. Fortunately, our demographics are not aligned with the focus of the program so I don't believe that we will get caught up in the same energy drain that Seattle has experienced.  Given our collaborative culture, even if approached, I find it hard to envision being supportive of TFA teachers in our system. What are your thoughts? Are you supportive of the program or do you see problems with moving in this direction?  l not

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Coming soon . . .

We have more good news to celebrate.  Tahoma Junior High is one of four nominees from Washington state for the national Green Ribbon Schools award.  This is a new competion out of the federal education office honoring schools that are:
  • Increasing environmental and sustainability literacy 
  • Reducing the school's environmental footprint 
  • Creating a healthy community for students and staff
Secretary Duncan will announce the winners on April 23rd who will then go to Washington D.C. for the recognition ceremony on June 5th.  I was told yesterday that all four of the state's nominees may actually qualify for the trip and recognition.  Regardless of the outcome, we are proud of the school's accomplishment and dedication to the focus on energy conservation and the environment.

Tahoma High School and Glacier Park Elementary submitted an application and were also honored with a Washington State Green Leader School award.  The High School received recognition at the Pillar 2 level; the school improves the health and performance of students and staff.  Glacier Park received recognition at the Pillar 3 level;  100% of the school's graduates are environmentally and sustainability literate.  Once again, thanks to these schools for their commitment to this work and congratulations on this accomplishment.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Still no state budget . . .

After one week in special session the legislators have been unable to agree on a compromise state budget.  They are closer, but have one major hurdle proving difficult to overcome.  The Republicans want to skip a pension payment by a year and the Democrats want to delay a $330 million payment to school districts by one day.  The one positive development for schools is that the parties in both the Senate and House appear to have agreed on no cuts to K-12.

Whether they can find a resolution soon is debatable as tempers flare with a new Senate Republican budget unveiled on Thursday.  In this Seattle Times article we learn that the Governor is very upset and has threatened vetoes of already passed budgets.

Her anger was stoked by a Senate Republican budget plan unveiled Thursday that she says was done without her knowledge, even after several days of meetings between Gregoire and Democratic and Republican leadership.

"You've got to have trust in the room," Gregoire said Thursday. "This does not advance trust in the room."

Negotiations between the Governor's office and legislators from both houses is scheduled to resume tomorrow.  I am hopeful that these negotiations will not result in surprises or major changes to what we have been lead to believe will be a favorable budget for K-12.  I can't, however, forget how the previous behind closed door negotiations impacted our teacher evaluation plans and agree that there are still major unresolved issues captured in the article that could resurface when the doors close.

Republicans are also pushing several structural changes to state government, including a requirement that budgets be balanced over a four-year period and a consolidation of health-insurance plans for education employees. The GOP also wants passage of a charter-schools bill that Democrats largely oppose.

I'd like the doors to be ajar or open for us to influence as these conversations continue.

Almost home . . .

At last week's school siting task force meeting we came one step closer to being able to build a new school on our Junior High site and/or renovate and add classrooms at the Junior High.  All but two members of the committee supported the following language in the recommendations section of the report. 

Tahoma 1

1. Find alternative site in the UGA.
2. Allow school district to connect to existing sewer

Site specific: The Task Force encourages the district to work with the County and cities in the district to explore opportunities for finding an alternative site in the UGA that would meet the pressing need for additional capacity that development of another school would provide. If no viable alternative site within the district's fiscal plan can be immediately found, the availability of sewer and an existing school on the site present compelling reasons for development of the site to meet the district’s needs. The site does have conservation value and the Task Force recommends that any new development on the site occur adjacent to the existing school so that impacts to the site’s forest cover are minimized.

Though the recommendations are in priority order I feel good with the compromise that was reached.  We made the decisions to support the process by engaging with the county to determine if there are any possible sites within the UGA that would meet our needs.  If not, we can use our current site to meet our current and future housing needs.
It was an interesting experience working with people on both ends of the continuum to allow schools outside the UGA.  For the most part, everyone attempted to suspend assumptions and work toward an agreement that supported schools while preserving the rural area.  It worked in meeting our needs, but not that of all school districts as twelve to fourteen of the involved sites in the county are not being recommended as potential sites for future schools.  We have one more meeting to see if we have consensus on the final report and recommendations.  Barring any unforeseen circumstances we should be home free.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Classified Employee recognition . . .

City Council reading a proclamation
This evening at the high school was the annual Classified Employee Recognition Dinner.  It was once again a wonderful experience with a mixture of fellowship, recognition, door prizes, and good food.  Each year the number of classified staff attending has increased and this year was the largest turnout.

I am proud to be an "honorary" PSE member and I am so thankful for the relationship that we have with the leadership of the Association and with Lee the state representative.  We meet monthly to share concerns and seek solutions to issues that emerge.  Over the years the faces around the room change, but the relationship endures.  That is something that we should all take pride in and continue to pursue.

Please join with me in extending a heart felt THANK YOU to these critical members of our school system. 

Representative Hargrove

Tim, Karen, Lee, and PSE State President

Administrators preparing to serve food

Monday, March 12, 2012

Remember the concert . . .

Just a quick reminder about the Music Faculty Concert as you plan your week. It is this Friday at Tahoma Middle School and it promises to be an enjoyable evening of music performed by our music teachers. Proceeds from the donations go to support music scholarships for graduating seniors. Come and join us for a wonderful evening of music and fellowship while supporting a good cause.

Tahoma Music Faculty Concert

Friday, March 16th

7:00 p.m.

Tahoma Middle School

Sunday, March 11, 2012

An unwanted signature . . .

Last week following passage by the House, the Governor signed the new teacher evaluation bill into law.  In this Seattle Times article, she used these words to describe what this legislation will do for our state's public schools.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said she expected the measure to make Washington a national model in teacher evaluations. Dozens of states are working on similar systems, but many are struggling to make them work.

She said Washington state succeeded by designing the system from the ground up, involving teachers, principals, parents, administrators, education researchers, lawmakers and community groups.

"This law will help ensure every public school student has the good teacher he or she deserves, and every neighborhood school has the good principal it deserves," Gregoire said.
I struggle to share her positive thoughts.  This legislation builds off of work done by the groups she mentions above that was passed two years ago with what I see as significant changes.  The changes are the result of compromise between the democrats, republicans, and the Governor behind closed doors without the groups she mentions above.  Though not present, however, the "reform" advocates position had an influence on the negotiations reflected in the changes to the use of student achievement data in the process. 
The change that I find most objectionable is the requirement that every district must choose from one of three identified instructional models.  This means that our Classroom 10 instructional model cannot be the framework for evaluating our teachers.  Years of collaborative work is now in jeopardy as we face difficult choices on how to proceed.  So Governor Gregoire, I respectfully disagree that "This law will help ensure every public school student has the good teacher he or she deserves,".  Allowing us to continue our focus would have been better for the seven plus thousand in our system and for thousands in other systems who have also been engaged in similar work over time.
Realizing the glowing "expectations" she has for the law will be much more difficult than simply requiring the use of achievement data as one of the evaluation components.  If the intent is to support growth for every teacher it will require a significant increase in the professional development time currently available in our school system.  If it is intended to rid the profession of "bad" teachers it will not without additional changes.  Creating change intended to have significant impact on all public schools in this state should not be the result of compromise with a handful of people struggling to overcome budget issues and seeing this issue as a pawn in that process.
I have respect for our Governor and the difficult issues that she has faced over the years.  At the same time, I am saddened to see us lose the autonomy to continue our work knowing it will be aligned with how we hold ourselves accountable for the success of all students as part of a compromise in Olympia.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Vision or rhetoric . . .

I’m sharing Danny Westneat’s article in yesterday's Seattle Times not necessarily because I agree with his politics, but because it demonstrates the challenges faced by our legislators in Olympia and the political posturing we are experiencing. The article focuses on the Republican legislators verbal commitment to fund “Education First”, but when they gained control in the Senate last week they forgot this pledge and made cuts to both K-12 and higher education, something the Senate democrats did not do.  From the article:

"Our state constitution is clear: Education is the 'paramount duty,' " said state House Republicans when they released a plan calling for more school spending. To underscore it, they named their budget "Fund Education First."

. . . So what did the GOP do with its earthquake moment?

They slashed education!

I don’t agree with his choice of language that the Senate budget “slashed” education. It did include proposed cuts, but it is far from what was imagined just a few short months ago or what we experienced over the previous two years. Again, I don’t want to get into the budget itself, but more of the context we find ourselves in related to public education. When one party is on the outside of the power bubble it makes it easier to promote an initiative such as “Education First”. When then faced with the reality of controlling the budget process, it becomes a much more difficult task as witnessed by events over the last two weeks.

Matching rhetoric with actions becomes more difficult and tests the commitment to the stated belief of “Education First”. In this small case, the decision was to not move current reality closer to the stated vision of “Education First”. That makes me question if it is a “shared” vision and the beliefs driving the vision? Is it driven by a belief that we must meet the intent of the constitution and recent court decision? Is it driven by a belief that young people need a stable learning environment? Is it driven by a need to gain political traction knowing that some cuts will be necessary and saying this allows one to stand above the prosed cuts? I suspect that all of these and more are behind the initiative and until all can agree on a shared set of beliefs moving current reality closer to that vision will not happen. Once again, the lack of a shared vision of what school is for and how best to realize that vision results in what we see in this article. We were led to believe that last year’s legislation was intended to accomplish this, but lack of revenue and behavior suggest it is not shared at the level necessary to move forward with one voice and commitment.

Read the article if you are a democrat wanting to say told you so because it will validate your position. Read the article if you are a republican and want to get fired up once again at the liberal media, or at least this staff columnist’s support for teachers. Then if you have more time and want to get worked up, follow the comments that are numerous, combative, and not always closely associated with the article.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Purpose for schooling . . .

In this Ian Juke’s post, I was reminded about a Seth Godin manifesto, "Stop Stealing Dreams" written to promote reflection and conversation around the purpose and success of schooling.

It’s written as a series of essays or blog posts, partly because that’s how I write
now, and partly because I’m hoping that one or more of them will spur you to
share or rewrite or criticize a point I’m making. One side effect is that there’s
some redundancy. I hope you can forgive me for that. I won’t mind if you skip
around. This isn’t a prescription. It’s not a manual. It’s a series of provocations, ones that
might resonate and that I hope will provoke conversation.

I have not read much yet, but it is certainly challenging me in many ways while validating my beliefs and much of our system’s experience. This excerpt from Section 6 is an example of validating our work. We have for many years been focused on what he calls the “output“ of schools that are embedded in our Outcomes and Indicators and in our focus on the Thinking Skills and Habits of Mind. Test scores and other measures of traditional success are the byproducts of our work. Our struggle is associated with the difficulty in measuring these outcomes and negating the federal and state focus on tests to measure success.

If school’s function is to create the workers we need to fuel our economy, we
need to change school, because the workers we need have changed as well.
The mission used to be to create homogenized, obedient, satisfied workers an
pliant, eager consumers.

No longer.

Changing school doesn’t involve sharpening the pencil we’ve already got. School
reform cannot succeed if it focuses on getting schools to do a better job of what
we previously asked them to do. We don’t need more of what schools produce when
they’re working as designed. The challenge, then, is to change the very output of
the school before we start spending even more time and money improving the
performance of the school.

You can read his 30,000 word manifesto here. I will be doing so as he suggests, at my leisure and will probably find some sections to blog about.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Plan to attend . . .

Please consider joining me and others at this year's Tahoma Music Faculty's Concert.  It is a wonderful evening of music performed by our music faculty.  Great music, humor, and fellowship in one place.  If that is not enough for you to consider attending then please know that it is also a fundraiser in honor of Mary Lou Harting, a former music teacher at Rock Creek.  The funds go to support the continuing education of a Tahoma senior continuing a study of music following graduation.

So, join me in honoring Mary Lou and thanking these teachers for sharing their talent and for the important contribution they make to our work. The performance is supported by the Maple Valley Creative Arts Council founded and led by one of our board members Mary Jane Glaser.  She and our entire board are one of the reasons why we have not waivered in our commitment to the arts during this time of focus on assessments in the core content areas.

Tahoma Music Faculty Concert
Friday, March 16th
7:00 p.m.
Tahoma Middle School

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Muddy Olympia budget situation . . .
Earlier in the week what appeared to be an easy budget negotiations in Olympia became anything but on Friday when the Senate republicans, with help from several democrats, were successful in getting the republican budget to the floor. Early today that budget was adopted with a few minor amendments. Since it doesn't delay payments to school districts, a major component of both the house and governor's budgets, I would guess that finishing this week has just become much more difficult. 

This budget includes a much larger rainy day fund and also cuts to both K-12 and higher education, something that the Senate democrats did not do.  The K-3 class size reduction would be a problem for us - we'll need to see how big on Monday.  You can see the differences in the two budgets below.

An important difference between the house and senate budgets for us is there are no provisions for cutting levy equalization or the levy lid in 2014 that were contained in the house proposal.  This would be a savings of over $2 million in that budget year.  For many in our profession, however, there is one component of the Senate budget that will not be supported.  SSB 6442 to create a consolidated K-12 health care system is alive and was poised for a vote today.

Needless to say, this came as a complete surprise as today's front page Seattle Times headline suggests.

These words from the article show us what we have to look forward to as this budget meets the solid Democratic majority House budget and Governor's budget.

If reactions by House Speaker Frank Chopp and Gov. Chris Gregoire to Friday's events are any guide, the Legislature will be in town far beyond the scheduled March 8 adjournment day.

"The Senate Republicans have exercised the worst abuse of power I have ever witnessed in the Legislature," Chopp, D-Seattle, said in a statement. "It says something about them that the minute they gained power, they abused it."

Gregoire, standing outside the speaker's office, was furious as well.

"I am chagrined that they're over there right now working on something I've never seen, the members have never seen — members on both parties have never seen, and they're going to take a vote tonight?" she said.

"This is not how we do business in Washington state."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Support from the task force . . .

Today the School Siting Task Force had its fourth meeting.  This is the group put together by King County Executive Constantine to study and make recommendations to the County and Growth Management Planning Council on the 18 school sites located outside the urban growth line.  This is important to us because we have one of those sites adjacent to the Junior High.  In last springs bond measure one of the projects was to build an elementary school on this site.  If the recommendations that were made last fall to not allow schools outside the UGA were passed it would have prevented us from using this site for a school.

In today's meeting four teams were tasked with reviewing each site, placing it into one of four categories, and then making a recommendation on how to proceed.  Fortunately, each of the teams placed our site into Category A, the category with the greatest potential for actually building a school on the site.  Three of the four teams then recommended that we "allow the school district to connect to the existing sewer, meaning we can build.  The fourth team recommended first that we "find an alternative site in the UGA" as they did with all the sites being considered.  This is great news and barring some unforseen circumstance, we should emerge from this process with the capacity to site a school on our property.  I believe that only 6 of the 18 sites made it into this category and two of those are still questionable so we are indeed fortunate.