During a recent interview in the Pathfinder Compass newsletter (February 25th issue, page 4), when asked about the impact of the new Weighted Staffing Standards and how schools who were going to lose staff would be supported, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said “First of all, I don’t know any school that’s losing significant staff. We have principals that work with instructional directors… There’s an opportunity to request a waiver or ask for mitigation funds… it’s really just the first step in the transition to a new system.”
And information on the district website, including a PowerPoint presentation of the features of the new funding system, delivers the message that the Weighted Staffing Standards change "Furthers equitable access to educational resources" and "Provides basic foundation for academic success for all students."
But those messages differ from the reality I’m hearing about at several schools, including Pathfinder. From what I have heard, the Education Directors are overwhelmed with mitigation requests for which they have insufficient budget. Most waiver requests (which ask to exchange one position granted in the process for another) are being denied.
And while some schools fared well in the process, others (particularly K-8 schools) are suffering, losing several staff members in the process and being forced to change program offerings and grade configurations.
For example, I learned from a Pathfinder parent that our upper grades, which in our small K-8 alternative school currently has 2 classes each for 6th 7th and 8th grade and a strong team-teaching approach, will, if the mitigation request isn’t funded, be forced to let go of one middle school teacher and create a multi-grade classroom. This is based on enrollment projections. But I’d be willing to predict that this kind of staffing change will only decrease Pathfinder 6-8 enrollment, not increase it.
I learned from a parent at another school (K-5), that a waiver request to exchange a counselor position for a lead teacher position (based on what the principal and teachers know about their student population and their needs) was denied. The school is now forced to let go of an instructional leader.
How does any of this improve teaching and learning in our district?
If you don’t already know what’s going on at your school, ask your principals and Building Leadership Team what is happening with the budget and staffing for next year under the Weighted Staffing Formula.
If you do already know, please post it here.