Saturday, May 08, 2010

Lay-offs, RIFs, and other job actions

36 certificated staff got RIF notices. Some will almost certainly be invited back (if they haven't hired on somewhere else in the meantime).

According to this story in the Seattle Times, "Pink slips will go to 25 teachers and 11 elementary-school counselors in Seattle schools"

The 25 RIF'ed teachers, all from middle and high schools, include:
2 art teachers
6 career-technical education teachers
3 history/social studies teachers
10 language arts teachers
4 physical education teachers

The work sites of the laid-off teachers does not necessisarily match the work sites that are losing FTE. Yes, two art teacher positions will be lost somewhere in the district, but the two art teachers who got laid off will be the two with the least seniority, regardless of their work location.

Also, there were reportedly 85 employees in the central office who will not see their contracts renewed as their positions have been eliminated. Only five of them are known: the five education directors. They, however, may come right back as their positions will be re-defined and re-opened. There's no reason to believe that the same five people will be re-hired into those positions, but someone will be.

Elsewhere in the news, there are some additional principal changes announced. There will be new principals at Bailey-Gatzert and McGilvra.

35 comments:

LG said...

New principal at Center School. Here is the letter from MGJ. I wasn't aware that Center School had a problem with graduation rates, but this is probably just her usual misunderstanding of option/alternative schools.

The letter:
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Oksana Britsova as the new principal for the Center School.

A team from the Center School participated in the selection process. The team developed a profile of the qualities desired in the next school leader, interviewed a series of candidates, and provided feedback on the strengths of each applicant relative to the needs of your school. The candidates were drawn from a highly qualified pool of individuals who participated in a rigorous interview process conducted by principals and administrators. Led by Education Director, Michael Tolley, the finalists that your school team recommended then participated in a Learning Walk at Center School. During this walk, they visited classrooms, interacted with students and wrote some reflections on what they observed. The Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer conducted final interviews and made the appointment.

We believe Ms. Britsova to be an excellent principal choice for Center School. She believes in the small school environment and its culture of proven successes; she has a background as both a high school teacher and administrator; and she has experience serving students with special needs. She comes to the Center School from the Alternative Futures School Program, an alternative school within Juanita High School, where she made a significant contribution to the school’s high graduation rate. Ms. Britsova has demonstrated that she values relationships with staff, students, families and community, and she is committed to ensuring academic success for all students.

Ms. Britsova’s professional preparation includes a Master’s Degree in English from the University of World Languages, Almaty Pedagogical Institute in Almaty, Kazakhstan; and advanced educational coursework from Seattle Pacific University and City University of Seattle.

We want to also take this opportunity to thank Lisa Escobar for her outstanding educational leadership. Her dedication to providing the best possible education for every child has been a gift to the Center School. We wish her all the best in her appointment as co-principal of Rainier Beach High School.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

I'm guessing that 10 LA teachers were RIF'd because of the number of literacy coaches who were displaced from downtown. But that's just a hunch.

dan dempsey said...

She comes to the Center School from the Alternative Futures School Program, an alternative school within Juanita High School, where she made a significant contribution to the school’s high graduation rate.

What school?
Juanita High School?

Technically this program is not listed as a school by OSPI on the school report card for Lake WA SD.

So I guess it must be an academy or maybe it is like Seattle's Pathways program and she was like a Pathways Dean. Is a "school within a school" a school, if school data is not reported to OSPI?
==============

Seems Seattle plays fast and loose with words like ....

Curriculum v. Instructional materials

and
School v. Program

Especially when closing the Cooper School or was it Cooper Program (?) because the building is still open with students.
==============

A big welcome to
Ms. Oksana Britsova as the new principal for the Center School.

I wish her well.

hschinske said...

I don't see that MGJ says anywhere that Center School has a problem with graduation rates. She says part of the reason for thinking Ms. Britsova is a good administrator is that graduation rates went up during her tenure, which seems fair enough.

Helen Schinske

LG said...

Helen, I agree, she didn't say that, it just struck me as a strange reason to recommend her for Center School.

Ms. Britsova was one of the school's top 3 picks, so I'm sure she has skills that are relevant to Center School, not to worry.

Jasper said...

Will Lisa Escobar be staying at RBHS?

Charlie Mas said...

Nevermind if Linda Escobar will be staying at RBHS; I want to know if Robert Gary will be staying there.

The District can't very well claim much progress at the school given that it didn't meet any of the accountability benchmarks for the Southeast Initiative. Isn't Dr. Gary responsible (and accountable) for that lack of progress?

I guess he'll become an education director. Or maybe he will follow in Ammon McWashington's footsteps.

SE Mom said...

Nice blogger pic, Charlie.

I about fell off my chair laughing.

You do have chutzpah.

Maggie Hooks said...

new principal announced at Madrona also. note the similarity to the Center School letter...

May 7, 2010


Dear Madrona K-8 Community:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Farah Thaxton as the new principal for Madrona K-8 School.

Representatives from the community and staff developed a profile of the qualities desired in the next school leader. A team from Madrona then participated in the selection process; they interviewed a series of candidates, and provided feedback on the strengths of each applicant relative to the needs of your school. The candidates were drawn from a highly qualified pool of individuals who participated in a rigorous interview process conducted by principals and administrators. Led by Education Director, Ruth Medsker, the finalists that your school team recommended then participated in a Learning Walk at Madrona. During this walk, they visited classrooms, interacted with students and wrote some reflections on what they observed. The Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer conducted final interviews and made the appointment.

We believe Ms. Thaxton to be an excellent principal choice for Madrona. She has an ability to connect with students. She also has successful experience working with racially and socio-economically diverse populations, including students who have not yet experienced academic success. In addition, Ms. Thaxton is a strong instructional leader and a lifelong learner who has also spent time as a classroom teacher.

Ms. Thaxton’s recent experience includes three years as a lead kindergarten teacher at Seattle’s Whittier Elementary, one year as a K-12 curriculum and instruction specialist for Victory Schools in the Philadelphia School District, and two years as assistant principal at Philadelphia’s Southwest Leadership Academy.

Ms. Thaxton’s professional preparation includes a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology/elementary education from Seattle Pacific University and a Master’s Degree in educational leadership/principal certification from the University of Delaware.

We want to also take this opportunity to thank Kaaren Andrews for her outstanding educational leadership. Her dedication to providing the best possible education for every child has been a gift to Madrona. We wish her all the best in her appointment as principal of Interagency Academy.


Sincerely,




Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D.
Superintendent

gavroche said...

Looks like Ms. Thaxton's pre-Seattle principal experience is at a charter school franchise:

http://www.victoryschools.com/about/mission.aspx

http://www.victoryschools.com/schools/schoolprofiles/philly.aspx

Jasper said...

The previous Madrona principal, with the blessings of the school families, ran Madrona like a militant charter school already so my guess is that Ms. Thaxton was a welcome replacement.

Problem is this is one more nail in the coffin of Madrona ever becoming a true neighborhood school serving the diverse and gentrifying population in the Madrona neighborhood.

Maggie Hooks said...

re madrona's new principal: if Farah Stanton is more of the same, why did the district bother moving Kaaren Andrews? first impression, this isn't going to make neighborhood families flock to the school.

Sahila said...

if she's from a charter school franchise... and if allowing charter schools is a requirement of RttT...and if SPS is signing onto the RttT bid...and if Madrona is already on the way to being a military-style school... then the answer to Maggie Hooks question is obvious!

Its a move to consolidate/shore up/perpetuate the military style modus operandi of the school, with a view to the day when it will become a fully-fledged charter school... a completely logical and predictable move...

owlhouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
owlhouse said...

I'm no fan of Victory Schools. They, like so many of their contemporary edu-industrial-complex charter upstarts, have a poor track record of financial management, let alone student outcomes- but Ms. Farah Thaxton's bio is interesting to me.

-3 years teaching K in Seattle public school.
-1 year central admin for k-12 charter op.
-2 years vp at a brand new, single-sex environment, k-4 charter (where she is not listed as current staff)

Now back to public ed at a k-8. Maybe she wanted to be back in Sea? Maybe back in public ed? I don't want to speculate too much on why she's here.

Unless she has an ed background beyond what is shared here, the bigger concerns to me are a lack of experience w/ middle schoolers and very limited teaching experience.

Still, I do hope it'll be a good fit for the entire Madrona community and that the district will support the transition.

parent25 said...

Dear McGilvra Community:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Mary Lane as the new principal for McGilvra Elementary.

A team from McGilvra Elementary participated in the selection process. The team developed a profile of the qualities desired in the next school leader, interviewed a series of candidates, and provided feedback on the strengths of each applicant relative to the needs of your school. The candidates were drawn from a highly qualified pool of individuals who participated in a rigorous interview process conducted by principals and administrators. Led by Education Director, Patrick Johnson, the finalists that your school team recommended then participated in a Learning Walk at McGilvra. During this walk, they visited classrooms, interacted with students and wrote some reflections on what they observed. The Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer conducted final interviews and made the appointment.

We believe Ms. Lane to be an excellent principal choice for McGilvra. She has a strong understanding of curricula and data-driven best practices; she has 26 years of experience as an elementary classroom teacher, principal and administrator; and she is committed to making decisions based on what is best for children. Her recent experience includes serving as principal at the Shanghai American School-Puxi Elementary in Shanghai China, as assistant superintendent of the Carol Morgan School in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, and principal of Belfair’s Hawkins Middle School in the North Mason School District. Ms. Lane values relationships with staff, students, families and community, and she is committed to ensuring academic success for all students.

Ms. Lane’s professional preparation includes a Master’s Degree in education from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in elementary education from Tennessee Temple University. She received her educational specialist degree in leadership and administration from the University of West Georgia in 1990.

----------------------

So, looks like McGilvra has almost exactly the same form letter... except McGilvra needed the principal with the private school experience, Madrona needs the one who connects to students and can do racial and socio-economic diversity. Isn't it great that they're getting such well-rounded, high caliber people for these principal jobs? The Univesrity of West Georgia doesn't even offer a masters degree in education, and only has bachelors in P-5. What kind of "leadership and administration" is it I wonder?

Dorothy said...

"The Univesrity of West Georgia doesn't even offer a masters degree in education, and only has bachelors in P-5. What kind of "leadership and administration" is it I wonder? "

That's funny, isn't it. I guess one really ought to verify that the same held in 1990 before casting too suspicious an eye.

parent25 said...

Not suspicious, just curious. Seems like an odd list of professional preparations. Do private schools really prepare people for a public principalship? Especially odd because they are those American schools abroad cater to a very narrow group. Look up the Shanghai American School, tuition is more than 20 grand (actually higher than the tuition at Lakeside here in Seattle). And, students are weeded out by private entrance exams. Is that the sort of thing needed at McGilvra? In Seattle, you're going to be moved to a wider variety of schools and have to deal with broader range of humanity. Doesn't "superintendent" of a single school seem to be an odd title for 1 school?

And then to think... we've got this great need for principals because we're opening 3 schools each with around 50 students. I guess the suspicion is growing.

jen said...

My testimony from 4-07 school board meeting re: The decision to cut elementary counselors from the Weighted Staffing Standard (WSS)...

The decision to cut elementary counselors from the 10-11 budget is based on misinformation at best and these positions should be restored to the WSS.

It makes zero sense that everyone was stunned when the budget paperwork didn’t include counselors. Principals, program managers all shocked. Move up the chain and no one seemed to know about the cuts ahead of time. I assume Dr. Goodloe Johnson and Don Kennedy knew. But I wondered: Was the school board involved in this? Is this all a typo? How was this decision made if no one knew about it?

District spokesperson Patti Spencer and various board members have defended the decision, saying it was made with the input of elementary principals. Counselors and principals know this isn’t true. School board, I think you know now it isn't true either. It is unfair to pin this decision on principals who clearly value the elementary counseling program.

Concerned citizen, Eric Blumhagn attended a finance meeting and reported on save seattle schools blog on 3/25/10 that after a lot of pushing from Kay Smith Blum about specific cuts, Don Kennedy admitted that HQ cut counselors even though most principals didn’t want to but because it was the cut that saved the most money. I am dumbfounded and offended that the serious social and emotional needs of children are so trivialized in this process. Just a number crossed off by the financial officer? No discussion of value, of what that cost represents in terms of benefits? Of the costs of cutting these supports? No community input?

Director Martin-Morris identified Don Kennedy as the source of this cut. He told this to me personally at his last community coffee hour. I don’t get it. Don Kennedy’s job is to balance the numbers in the budget, not to choose what is in the budget. That is the job of the board. So this is how huge decisions are made? And besides this district belongs to the people of Seattle so there is an obligation to base decisions on community input not on the wishes of one or two people. Ask the stakeholders how they prioritize counselors and listen to the responses.

So now it turns out that these devastating cuts are the equivalent of a typo. Director Smith Blum apparently reported at a meeting at Lowell the other day that the school board was led to believe elementary principals supported cutting counselors when it wasn't actually true. Was this an error? If so, how does an error like this happen and what are you going to do to fix it?? Perhaps it was like a game of telephone, the message was distorted by the time it got to the school board and into the budget – perhaps principals said “hire more elementary counselors” but it was passed to the board as “fire core elementary counselors.” It’s hard to know.

Part of being responsible is fixing things when you do damage, making things at least as good as they were before. This is what counselors teach kids. In this case, it means returning counselors to the Weighted Staffing Standard. Counselors are core staff and not a luxury.

About the RIF - please reverse the counselor displacements sooner rather than later because if you wait and we all get RIFed first before being called back, we will be shuffled around to different schools and relationships, which cannot be measured with dollars, will be needlessly discarded, trashed, wasted.

Thank you for listening. Do what is right for children and turn this around. The money is there (think strategic initiatives). It’s a matter of priorities. The finance meeting tomorrow will be a great opportunity to restore funds and return elementary counselors to the weighted staffing standard.

J. Greenstein

jen said...

My testimony from the 5-5-10 school board meeting re: reasons elementary counselors should be returned to the Weighted Staffing Standard..

Stand up for the needs of children and restore elementary counseling positions to the WSS.

A half-time elementary counselor will no longer be provided to each elementary school as part of a core package (the WSS) for years to come. This change was made after the board was led to believe that elementary principals supported the cuts when the opposite was true. It was also made with zero consideration for the social and emotional needs of students. Please review my 4/07 testimony for detailed evidence about this that I will not repeat. It’s unbelievable. It’s unethical. Board, how can you allow such a decision to stand?

You could have done the responsible thing and restored positions to the WSS mid-April. Instead you sent the equivalent in dollars of what was cut from the WSS (mainly counselors) to the schools as discretionary funds. In addition to the concerns just mentioned please also consider the following as reasons to restore counselors to the WSS:

1. The point of the WSS is to set a standard for core services and fund them. Counselors belong in the WSS as staff that should not be subject to discretion. We’ve had plenty of testimony about this from stakeholders themselves. Please listen to them.

2. Let's respect the school board process that added these positions to the WSS two years ago. Have you even gone back and reviewed the reasons for the decision in the first place?

3. Relying on discretionary funds will impact the safety, well being and academic success of students. What if we relied on discretionary funds for nurses? How many schools would lose nursing time, clearly an essential service? I just learned that 11 elementary counselors will be RIFed for next year. This could mean 22 elementary schools losing these services. Once positions are lost it is much, much harder to get them back.

4. Discretionary funds will mean unstable staffing at best. There will be on and off positions and high staff turnover. This will greatly jeopardize the benefits that build over time when services are provided with fidelity and provided by the same person for years (think school climate, for example). If positions aren’t sustainable it may also be a reason schools vote against funding the positions through discretionary funds.

5. Including elementary counselors in the WSS guarantees consistency and equity across schools and narrows, rather than widens, the achievement gap.

6. Including counselors in the WSS sends an important message to the state that counselors are core staff and need to be funded at the state level. Removing the positions from WSS sends the opposite message.

So I was at the 4/08 Audit and Finance meeting when you made this decision to go discretionary. You spoke to flexibility for schools as the reason behind it. BUT the WSS has flexibility built into it!

Board, you have thrown away all future protection for student social and emotional needs for the sake of flexibility that was already there! There has been a waiver process all along. The allotted half-time counselor money can be spent otherwise if a school can prove these needs are somehow otherwise being met. Schools have applied for and have been granted waivers. Isn’t this the most sensible system? It allows for flexibility but very importantly, it first screens for student needs.

Do the right thing and protect critical services for students. Stand up for the needs of children and restore elementary counseling positions to the WSS.

J. Greenstein

spedvocate said...

Stand up for the needs of children and restore elementary counseling positions to the WSS.

Better yet, get rid of the weighted staffing standards completely. Weighted staffing standards count special education students as a fraction of a "real" student. For example, all level 4 special ed students count as 20% of a whole. And, as a result they increase general education classrooms to make up for all the non-entities. This robs everyone of reasonable class sizes (since this group only marginally counts resulting in a greater load in the classroom), and often results in denial of a "seat" in general ed for students with IEPs.. regardless of IEPs and IEP requirements.

Charlie Mas said...

I wonder if the District will use the waitlists at TOPS to justify the conversion of Madrona to an Option School. After all, the waitlists at TOPS shows that the demand for Option School seats in the Washington Service Area exceeds the supply, so good capacity management would call for the creation of more seats.

TechyMom said...

But Charlie, a whole lot of the people looking for option seats in Washington are trying to get away from Madrona.

seattle citizen said...

My informed guess would be that capacity management is not necessarily reflective of demand (which flucuates) as it is in consistency and predicability. This means that what we might see are set option schools, one or two in each Service Area. Once set, the capacity of the Option programs would be locked in, and no more would "grown" or cut.

To me, this representative of one of the problems with the NSAP - lack of ability to add programs due to demand. My feeling is that in the "interest of equity," each Service area will end up with a like number of similar programs (Option, Academy, Spectrum etc) and that will be that.

WV thinks this policy is sectic.

Charlie Mas said...

The newly adopted Capacity Management Policy requires the Superintendent to produce an annual report on Capacity Management. That report is required to monitor program demand.

Sahila said...

Charlie - would you consider changing your avatar back? Seeing MGJ on each of your posts is completely freaking and grossing me out... I will soon be wondering if you were always she in V form....

seattle citizen said...

Sahila, I think that picture of Charlie is quite flattering!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wait a minute, seeing Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's photo "grosses you out"? Then my advice would be to move on.

Look, I don't believe in how Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is managing our district. I find a little to like, some to fault and a lot to be suspicious of in her work and words.

That said, she's a person. Saying that she's grossing you out demonizes her and that, as plainly as I can say it, is not fair and unwarranted.

Again, let's keep it civil.

Sahila said...

Oh Melissa - I was joking... and yes, it does freak me out to see Charlie's name married to a picture of MGJ - its hilarious and freakish at the same time... and no, I dont want to see a picture of her here every time I post something... and Seattle Citizen as a joke has changed their avatar to a picture of Bill Gates... someone joked that they had kindly left Eli Broad for me...

And the bit about respecting MGJ is a bit late in the piece isnt it? We've been dumping on her on this blog and every other blog around town for a long, long time, and that includes you... I didnt see you complaining about that on the Soppy Super Story thread...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sahila, I was talking about her performance, not her. And you may have been joking but saying it both "freaked you out and grossed you out" seemed a bit much.

Don't mistake honest criticism for something else.

Toni said...

Saying someone is "freaking and grossing you out" is not constructive or productive and really doesn't have any place in a public forum.

Reminds me of an old quote:

"You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him." ~Leo Aikman

gina said...

I can't find any information on a new principal at Bailey Gatzert. They got a new one this year.

Sahila said...

Marie Goodloe Johnson freaks and grosses me out... statement of fact...

And I'm going to get into trouble for basing that on a whole bunch of stereotypes, that the feminist in me would not have used in the past, but which, as I get older and understand the true nature of femininity better, I do subscribe to now...

Freaks me out because I expect more and better of a WOMAN when she's making decisons that affect the lives of 47,000 CHILDREN... with almost every decision she's made, because she's driven by a non-child focused agenda she's abdicated from her responsibility to protect children from unnecessary harm...

Freaks me out because I expect more and better of a WOMAN who has given birth...she makes decisions that impact other children negatively while she's made sure her own child is inoculated from harm... (and the South Shore building issue is not relevant in this context)

Freaks me out because I expect more and better of a mature WOMAN who has the advantages of education and money to use her power well and to make good choices for those in her charge...

Grosses me out when I see her using such disrespectful and power-over tactics and strategies to drive through what she wants...

Grosses me out when I see her completely ignoring the desires of the community she serves, even when the data the community presents is more accurate than that provided by her own staff

Grosses me out when I see and hear and read her articulating nothing but empty, wishy-washy PR-spin...

Grosses me out when I see her walk over normal professional ethics by maintaining her conflicts of interests

Grosses me out when I see and hear her insensitivity and insincerity - the Teddy Stoddard story and Rifing teachers during Teacher Appreciation week...

Grosses me out when she doesnt acknowledge the validity of community input and refuses to apologise when that input is later found to be accurate and she and her staff have to back pedal on a decision or action...

Could I have used more subtle words to say the same thing? Yes... Should I have used more subtle words to say the same thing? No... we're adults, I'm not into "Seattle nice", I'm in favour of being 'real', I call it how I see it and I own it as my own.

"Seattle nice" and PC language has allowed this woman and the Board to ride rough shod over parents, teachers and children for too long. This town is famous for its passive-aggressive nature and the "Seattle Freeze". I'm not going to enable that by buying into this crazy notion that for anyone's opinions to be taken seriously, they have to couch it in neutral, objective, impersonal (as in directed at actions, not at the person performing the actions) emotion-free language...

(There's no such thing as objectivity anyway)

If anyone has a problem with that, then that says more about them than it does about me...

Sahila said...

I dont get the SPS community...

What MGJ and the Board have done over the past three years ought to have enraged you all, absolutely enraged you...

What is holding you all back from feeling that absolutely normal psychological response and then taking action?

Fear? Apathy? Overwhelm?

Have you all been inured to the craziness and inappropriateness of what's been going on?

If you have, its high time time to un-inure yourselves ... our kids are being sold down the river to the privatisers/privateers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privateer and it will soon be too late...

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.