Saturday, January 28, 2012

Money, our Schools and PTSAs

Another fine article by Brian Rosenthal in the Sunday Seattle Times, this time about PTA fundraising and our schools.  He certainly did his homework and here's some interesting information:
  • McGilvra Elementary raised over $390K last year.   They have about 240 students.  You do the math.
  • So far this school year, four of the district's nearly 100 schools make up more than one-third of the expenditures. They are all elementary schools in wealthy areas: McGilvra, of Madison Park ($240,280); Queen Anne's John Hay ($215,077) and Coe ($180,000); and View Ridge ($195,000) in Northeast Seattle. Other elementary schools at the top include Adams, John Stanford, Laurelhurst, Loyal Heights and Stevens.
  • At the same time, dozens of Seattle schools, mostly in the South End, don't appear on the list because they don't have PTAs or don't raise enough to go through the central office.
Wow. 

There is no districtwide database documenting PTA fundraising by school, but it is clear that parent groups in wealthy parts of the city collect hundreds of thousands more than those in poor areas. The money — raised through everything from sales of baked goods or Christmas trees to black-tie auctions — can go toward almost anything, from classroom teachers to building maintenance, as long as the school principal accepts it.

Two things.  One, I think the district is loath to collect data because, well, then they would have to admit how much money parents drive into the district.  The Seattle Council PTSA should flex its muscle based on this issue.  Parents are pumping money into this district.

Two, I really agree with the Washington State PTSA that parents should not be able to fund employees.  It's too much pressure to sustain, it's inequitable and it allows the state to continue not fully funding education.

Bellevue, Lake Washington and Issaquah already ban the practice.

A similar shift is unlikely in Seattle, said School Board President Michael DeBell and Lauren McGuire, president of the Seattle Council of Parent, Teacher and Student Associations. They each cited the issue's political sensitivity and a reluctance to do anything that would limit donations in the current budget climate.

However:


Still, some are hoping to start the conversation.  Among them is School Board member Betty Patu.


What is interesting is how other districts are handling this:


Portland Public Schools: One-third of all parent donations are pooled into an "equity fund" run by a foundation, which distributes the money to schools that can't raise their own funds.
Eugene (Ore.) School District: Five percent of all parent donations are pooled into an "equity fund" that is divvied up essentially equally among all schools. Parents are also allowed to donate directly to the equity fund.
Bellevue, Lake Washington, Issaquah: These districts do not pool donations but do prohibit contributions from being used to fund the salaries of certified teachers. It was in that spirit that Bellevue Public Schools — after a long and contentious debate — decided in June to enforce a long-neglected prohibition on using parent donations to fund staff positions.

And this paragraph is a great summary of the issue:

Indeed, as large as fundraising amounts are at schools such as Hay, they rarely come close to offsetting the differences in the district's weighted formula, federal Title I funding and other programs benefiting poor schools.


But advocates for low-income schools point out that those funding sources come with strict requirements. So while poorer schools have little control over how to spend the extra money, parents at wealthy schools get to choose what will be most beneficial for their children. And schools in the middle get neither higher district funding nor large fundraising.

One of the comments struck me:

I have long been disturbed by how Seattle parents can so easily rationalize such a blatant inequality in their public schools. That other school districts have already dealt with this issue, and yet the Seattle school board president and PTA district leader refuse to even put a discussion on the table, is yet another piece of the unethical milieu that plagues this district.

Once again, Betty Patu is way out in front in terms of wisdom, candor and fairness.


I don't know what the answer is.  I can never fault parents for supporting their child's public school and wanting it to be the best.  But eventually, these kids all meet up in middle and high school.  It would be great, at least from an academic standpoint, if they could have had something of a level playing field in elementary.   

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

hmmm..it seems to me that the district doesn't want to track PTA money because they rely on the wealthy schools PTAs to cover their shortfalls as they continue to cut support.

without PTA money, kid #1's school would have zero art, zero counselor, zero computer. it already has no choral music and a nurse only part of one day a week because the PTA can't fund them. next year, it looks like they'll lose the counselor and the computer because the PTA can't continue to fund everything.

kid #2's school has choral music, art, counselor, plus a nurse all week without any PTA money due to the weighted formula.

where is the inequality exactly?

signed,
confused by the differences

Anonymous said...

Good thing LEV et al are wanting all kinds of data on test scores, NOT data on which schools have more resources.

I'll have to get my Miss Manners editor because I can't think of calling ed De-Formers anything but ...

LyingScumbags.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the real story how abysmally we're funding education in Seattle/Washington and how the district has knowingly created a hodgepodge of different services at every school? It makes it confusing for parents (exacerbated by the fact that it changes every year) and breeds insecurity everywhere.

I'm beginning to think the district strategy is aimed at getting parents to fight with one another about what they do or don't have at their school so that everyone forgets to hold the district (and the legislators) accountable.

It's no wonder the percentage of families that send their kids to private school is so high in Seattle. At least you know what you're going to get and have a reasonable expectation that it will be there throughout your child's time at that school.

-- DISGUSTED

Anonymous said...

When the weighted student formula existed, the money was used for after school tutoring and supplementing summer school, not art and choral music. It also became a convenient excuse to begin this frenzy of fundraising. The WSF no longer exists.

Title One and state funds follow at-risk students to schools which, according to very watered down percentages by MGJ, must have somewhere around 50% FRL to be eligible. When high needs students reach a tipping point percentage at a school, it is no longer a graduated need scale but an exponential explosion of needs, all playing off on each other. The money comes nowhere near to leveling the playing field.

That many other districts have already had this conversation and addressed the inequity says volumes about the NIMBY attitude that keeps driving much of SPS and the attitudes therein. At the last school board meeting, Chris Jackins gave statistics about the resegregation of SPS under the new student assignment plan.

From the article, Betty Patu questions what example we want to give our kids about fairness. That has been answered since the mid 1990s in SPS. Time to look outside the bubble and realize that this inequity doesn't persist all around us but is alive and well here. Whenever funding unfairness is pointed out to parents and they experience cognitive dissoance, the typical response (instead of being willing to share) is to threaten to go to private school and remind everyone how lucky public schools are to enjoy the presence of their demographic-type in the first place.

--enough already

Eric B said...

I can speak to this issue, since I looked at it pretty recently. The District did have a funding database for donations for past years, since I know I saw it during the discussions about the cuts to the WSS. On the other hand, it didn't accurately reflect the actual PTA donations for Loyal Heights.

At any rate, Loyal Heights had the least, or near the least per-student funding from the District. After adding in PTA money, we were still in the bottom 5 in per student spending. Much like Confused by the Difference, we have no counselor, a very part-time nurse. We would have much less music and art without PTA money and volunteers.

All that said, we make up for a lot of the money with a vast amount of volunteer time. However, would be nice to get enough District-level funding for a part-time counselor or additional nurse time.

An equity fund (hey, the NFL does it, why can't we?) would be a good place to start. A third seems high to me and 5% seems low, but there's surely a middle ground somewhere.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Confused, what kids are you talking about? Yours or from the article? Title One money cannot be used to cover the same things as private fundraising. If you think the WSS pays for all that you listed for kid #2, I'd like to know what school that is.

David said...

Really disagree with you, Melissa, and it is rare for me to disagree with you, but I think you and Brian have this one completely wrong.

There are not huge differences in school budgets because of PTAs and if you restrict PTA funds you will only reduce funds given to our schools. The inequality even at the most extreme example you listed, McGilvra, only has the PTA adding about 20% to the funding of the school, but that is the most extreme example available, and PTA funds make much less of a difference in overall budget at most schools. Moreover, schools that do not have significant PTA donations often have more funding from special grants and title 1 funding, which is very appropriate, but adds to their funding as well, making the difference even less than Brian's article is implying.

In the end, if you intervene to try to correct what is a relatively minor problem, you risk making donors less likely to give, which only results in less funding for our schools. Better would be to focus on the bigger problem, which is adequate funding for all of our schools, and not asking parents to fund things like music programs or other things that should be funded as part of every public school child's education.

Charlie Mas said...

I believe that non-competitive grants, and that's what PTA money is, should not be spend on basic education expenses to preserve the intent of the state's effort of equitable basic education across the state.

The Family and Education Levy funds may not be spent on basic education costs and neither should non-competitive grants.

I would like the rule to come from the state rather than the district because it is the state that owns the idea of equitable basic education funding. But if the state isn't going to introduce such a rule, then the district should.

Anonymous said...

First of all - Hay doesn't have a PTA either. It has something called the Partners Board.

If people really cared about equity - they would vastly fund Title 1 schools, way more than they do now, at the expense of the wealthy ones. And then let the wealthy schools rely on their PTA's or Boards for their own funding. If you can pay, you should. If the district funded schools so that wealthy schools absolultely had to, they would. I think McGilvra - and Hay, could squeeze a lot more out their parent base than they do now.

- Hay parent.

Anonymous said...

Seattle has had a number of schools with strong parent support for a very long time. They end up being lovely public schools that come close to rivaling the best private schools. Almost everything that makes Seattle's best public schools great comes strong parent groups willing and able to raise large sums of money and volunteer time to supply and/or support everything from more teachers (smaller class sizes or additional kindergartens, etc.) to award-winning music programs.

I have been advocating some sort of "sharing" of resources for years. But how to develop a system that won't end in "shooting itself in the foot." Would parents at McGilvra raise as much if they thought a percentage would go to other schools?

The Alliance for Education used to play a part in trying to level the paying field. The newer organization Donors Choose is a step in the right direction: www.donorschoose.org/CHASE. But people have to be compelled to go to the site and choose a school.

I agree with Charlie. PTAs should not be able to fund basic education. Extras are fine...but even then, children should not be getting less of an education because they live in the wrong geographic region or because their parents can't afford to donate more to a public school than they would pay for a slot in a private school.

Solvay

Anonymous said...

I posted on the superintendent search article: I am outraged that the PTA is the'community represnetation' on the super search. No its not community representation. As shown by this article, These people represent their own damn schools and little else. Wouldn't want to share a penny of money in tough times with a fellow school.

The article shows clearly the total lack of interest from PTA head McGuire to advocate for poor schools in the PTA network. The usual. Out of sight out of mind. Would rather spend time chatting at central headquarters on a committee I guess.

Last fall I voted for Buetow for school board because of this. I heard her on a panel say she wanted a shared pot for some money to go to grants like in Portland and that the district working with the pta does not equal community engagement. Bet the northies didn't like that view one bit. She lost. Instead we have board president Debell crying political sensitivity as a reason not to touch the issue. And Goodloe-Johnson canned the race and equity office downtown, so I guess its 'every school for himself'. Nothing changes.

Southie

Floor Pie said...

What about a sister school program in which affluent schools are paired with schools in need? Students could visit each other's schools, be pen pals, attend events at each other's schools, do a joint field trip or picnic at a park, etc. When there is a fundraiser, parents could have the choice to contribute to the sister school as well.

Erin said...

First, this discussion is simply another tool to divide parents in Seattle. The big picture issue is WHY are PTAs driven to make capital improvements, or buy pencils and books, or fund a school counselor? Where is the district funding for basic grounds maintenance? Did you know that when the JSCEE orders a school to open a new kindergarten at the last minute, they do not provide any funds for materials or supplies? Those costs are covered by the PTAs at many schools.

Second, there are economically disadvantaged kids all over the district. PTAs raise money for their schools, not for their children. Therefore, all of the kids at a school benefit, including the poor kids and the not quite poor enough but still struggling kids. Excluding the McGilvras of Seattle, think of the impact a decision to limit PTA funding would make on schools like Greenwood, where there is a large FRL population but not large enough to receive extra money. There are a lot more schools in the middle than there are outliers.

Personally, I don't like the game parents have to play with the district. I resent having to raise money for new asphalt so kids can keep their teeth or to fund a school nurse at a school with an inclusion program. I hate that there isn't enough money for hand sanitizer or paper so that our children can stay healthy and have learning materials. And I absolutely despise the return to segregation we have had with the NSAP. However, pitting the middle class against the poor seems like a damn stupid way to fix the problems with funding.

Joy A. said...

This is why I HATE the idea of forcing children to go to neighborhood schools. Some of these children are literally victims of geography. If your school is inferior to a school around the corner and you can't afford to move, are you a victim of discrimination? We in Seattle knew perfectly well that schools here weren't equal before the dreaded NSAP was instituted. This is just another part of the NSAP that makes me want to scream.

Anonymous said...

Brian Rosenthal asked readers on this blog several weeks ago to contribute personal stories to the topic of PTA funding. I speculate that he got wind of the amount certain schools were raising compared to others that were unable to raise any money, and decided a story was needed. Maybe he got the idea from Beutow.

Parents are already divided on this issue--read the comments.
The issue has divided schools, parents and staffs for years. If you didn't know that, maybe it's because you were the one bene-fitting, and you were unaware of the impact of this issue on the less fortunate.

Another aspect of issue is auctions. If you have a well connected parent group, they can get contributions from spas, vacation planners, etc. Then, of course, the people at the auction can afford to bid. This is not about "working harder" but about having the money and connections to pull off such a lucrative money maker. (I am aware of the planning and time involved in an auction-- been there).

I neglected to point out the second cognitive dissonace reaction by parents (when confronted with this blatant unfairness). In addition to the private school response, some parents also say that donations will go down considerably at their school if they share. After all, who will donate if all monies are not going directly to their own child?

Again, I remember Patu's question:
What are we teaching our kids?

Michael DeBell's reaction was classic--he can't bring up this issue because it might hurt him politically. Ethics or fairness--be damned! I'm just glad he keeps revealing who he is.

--enough already

David said...

This is fighting over scraps. The typical PTA funding differences are not significant compared to the overall budget for each school.

You are pitting parent against parent in our district for something that does not matter. We would be far better off using our time to advocate for enough federal, state, and local funding for all of our schools.

Anonymous said...

1) Brian Rosenthal -- Thanks for writing an article about a topic that I've wondered about for years but haven't seen anyone tackle.

2) Confused by the Differences -- I think the weighted distribution of funds is intended to reduce the gap in student outcomes and address unequal levels of need. Under the scenario you present, I'm guessing Kid #1's school has much better test scores than Kid #2's school despite a greater per-student funding by the district . In general, South End schools have much more limited PTA funding potential than North End schools, and they have greater need (potential examples: children have less family support at home and need more counseling, children have more trouble speaking English and need extra support, children are not getting regular medical care and rely on a school nurse to identify issues, etc.). The greater need is the reason for the greater government funding. Under the current PTSA system in Seattle, the children with the least need are receiving the greatest outside funding, and that doesn't seem right. However, it also doesn't seem right that not all schools have nurse, counselor, and music resources funded by the district.
3) David - The typical PTA funding differences may not be significant compared to overall budgets for each school, but they're significant compared to student outcomes. Should the top-performing students in the district be allowed to continue to receive the greatest outside funding, while the poorest-performing students continue to get none of this outside funding? Does that seem right? It doesn't seem right to me.
That said, I'd like to know more about Portland's equity fund. How did the 1994 introduction of the one-third equity fund affect parent donations? Also, how would such a fund be distributed? It sounds like Portland's fund does not get reallocated directly to schools for use at their own discretion, but rather it is distributed by some foundation that is partnering with local businesses like Northwest Natural, US Bank, etc. Here in Seattle, I could see the use of such an equity fund being a highly contentious issue.

--JvA

Bird said...

What about a sister school program in which affluent schools are paired with schools in need?

JSIS and the other international elementaries put on a pooled auction every year and share the proceeds between them for arts programs at all the schools, so this is happening to some degree at least for these schools.

I also agree that there are poor kids everywhere. The district's funding formulas don't help with serving poor kids at affluent schools and the PTA helps make up the difference.

JSIS is a relatively affluent school, but we certainly have friends in the school who are barely making ends meet. I try to always contribute to the PTA scholarship fund to make sure that these kids can participate in school activities with everyone else.

I agree that disparate PTA funding can create inequality, but when looking at the problem, I think it's important to look at the outcomes rather than the inputs.

When I look at very high need schools, I see a lot of programs for academic support and a lot of non-profits providing a lot of enrichment activities. I suppose there is some argument about how lack of input in how money is spent when it is not your money, but, honestly, while I have some input, I don't have a tremendous amount of say in how the money I donate is spent at my school.

The real gap, I suspect, is in the middle income schools. Schools without enough FRL kids to draw special funding and non-profit support, but not enough affluent parents to fill the gap.

David said...

JvA, absolutely not true that "the children with the least need are receiving the greatest outside funding." There are many sources of outside funding, such as grants and title 1, most of which are much bigger than the typical PTA funds. And all outside funding is dwarfed by the budget, the actual funding for the public schools, which should be fully paying for the education of all of our children.

PTAs are not the source of our problems in our public schools. Making our public schools effective for all the children of Seattle will require funding well beyond that available from PTAs. Fighting over scraps will get us nowhere. We should be fighting for more funding from local, state, and federal sources for all of our public schools.

Anonymous said...

By "outside" funding, I meant non-governmental funding.

--JvA

David said...

Typical PTA budgets are tens of thousands. Typical school budgets are millions. There is no comparison.

Brian Rosenthal is making us fight over scraps. Stop fighting over scraps. Focus on bigger problems, like how to get the level of funding all of our schools need and deserve.

Dorothy Neville said...

I really wouldn't characterize the district as being "loathe" to collect this information. Mostly the lack of clear information is an artifact of budget coding and changes in the way PTAs handle their money. Used to be that when PTAs had big money, they established a grant with the district. This allows them to more carefully control how the money is spent. That is easily accessible through budget coding and grants management (as Brian describes).

However, it has become more common for PTAs to raise money that simply goes into the schools Self-Help fund and therefore the control of that money lies in the BLT budget committee, and ultimately, the principal. There are reasons of efficiency and simplicity for PTAs to do this. But that means that as things are coded now, that money is harder for the district budgeting office to tease out. The spreadsheet that Eric refers to lists outside grants and self-help funds per school, but, IIRC, doesn't completely daylight PTA money due to this Self-Help fund issue.

Interestingly enough, Sherry Carr, former SCPTSA chair, said she strongly advises PTSAs to stick to the grants method, so that they have more control over the spending. The grants method adds work for both the PTA and the district, as far as I can tell. And possibly leads to more divisiveness? Certainly is might lead one to suspect the PTA cannot or should not completely trust the principal.

Anonymous said...

David -- I agree that we should all be advocating full funding for all schools. And I know this may sound cynical, but I could see how a Bellevue-style prohibition on rich-neighborhood PTSAs funding instruction may increase the incentive for those high-clout voters to do just that.

--JvA

numbers said...

From the Seattle Schools 2011-12 Budget:

School: Average school funding per student (% of school spending on Special Ed), listed in order of highest to lowest

Rainier Beach: $8,206 (14%)
Cleveland: $7,746 (19%)
Ingraham: $7,467 (26%)
West Seattle: $7,190 (22%)
Sealth: $7,024 (20%)
Nathan Hale: $6,597 (21%)
Franklin: $6,507 (12%)
Roosevelt: $5,799 (14%)
Garfield: $5,590 (10%)

Carol Simmons said...

The state must be forced to fully fund basic education.

Dorothy Neville said...

Numbers, that is very interesting. I would certainly like to tease that out a bit more. What is the effect of economies of scale with the larger schools? Also, High Schools are funded based on AAFTE, or average annual full time equivalence, to account for the fact that kids drop out. We get paid by the state based on monthly enrollment counts, so drop-outs mean less money in the Spring. That might be a reason why a high school with a higher drop out rate might show up higher on the list (but I am not sure, so therefore that needs to be teased out).

Anyway, the district is thinking about switching to a model of a three year rolling average of *site specific* AAFTE.

Jack Whelan said...

Surely no one has a problem with local PTAs raising money to enrich the experience of the students at their school, but that has to be done within an understanding of the fundamental mission of public schools, which is to insure a certain level of equity to all children in the public system.

Even if there are only four or five schools that raise super big bucks for their schools, there is a principle at stake here--the equity principle. And we have to ask ourselves at what point does a public school become in effect a publicly subsidized private school?

Where do you draw the line? Where do you find the balance point? That's a matter for honest debate, but surely there is a line.

Isn't the threat to the equity principle really at the heart of our resistance to charter schools?--that the state will put up the first 7K and then other entities--foundations with an agenda, rich parents, etc.--will start putting up the next several thousand per student?

Some people might say why not? Well because it has a destructive, destabilizing, and fragmenting effect on the larger public system; it undermines the fundamentally public mission of public schools, and as such is a misuse of public funds. In America, if you want a private school, you're free to start one, but without public money.

Clearly this fundamental equality principle has to be respected if we're serious about maintaining promoting the fundamental mission of public schools.

numbers said...

From the Seattle Schools 2011-12 Budget:

School: Average school funding per student (% of school spending on Special Ed), random list

Elementaries

Whittier: $5,652 (12%)
Bryant: $5,524 (8%)
Dunlap: $7,883 (15%)
Hawthorne: $8,206 (19)
Lafayette: $5,502 (9%)
Laurelhurst: $5,283 (5%)
Rainier View: $10,794 (17%)
Roxhill: $8,464 (28%)
West Seattle: $8,315 (19%)
Schmitz Park: $5,313 (12%)

Anonymous said...

Numbers -- Thanks for providing that here. Because this brings up a great point. Any district parent is free to send their child to schools with the highest per-student funding. If you want your child to get their $8.8K annual funding at Rainier Beach, you are 100% allowed to do that, no matter where in Seattle you reside. But if I want my child to get the superior $5.5K education at Roosevelt, I need to be able to afford a home within expensive lines. (They're not reserving any seats, right?)

That does seem fair to me. That anyone who wants a seat in a school that gets higher government findi g can do so. Any takers here?

--JvA

Anonymous said...

In principle I dislike the idea of funding certified teachers through PTSA donations, but I can see why it can happen and banning it is not so simple. Two anecdotes:

* My daughter and the rest of her class absolutely adored their 3rd grade teacher who was in her first year of teaching. As a teacher, she was not only adored but also very demanding: it was at least an hour of homework every school night and sometimes it took two. At the school auction the following year, we learned that a bit more than half the funding for this teacher's position was being cut from the budget. (The principal was great and had already made sure that there was no one else in the school who deserved to be cut, so seniority wasn't the problem.) Raising that money was a big focus of the PTSA auction. I recall that the teacher herself donated a some entire weekends of babysitting that were auctioned off for $6K towards her own salary. There were tears at the auction when we surpassed the needed total to save her position.

* At Eckstein middle school there was one librarian for the school and when that librarian was teaching library skills to classes as a group the large library had to be closed to those of the other 1300 kids who had a project or break because there wasn't a second librarian to monitor them. For several years the PTSA had been funding a non-union librarian (probably not certified) to serve part-time to help out during that time. The PTSA got word that there was a complaint and this now had to be a certified union position that was at least half time. They had to drop the program for lack of money but what if they had been able to fund it? Would the "certified" versus "non-certified" distinction in such a ban be something one should rely on union contracts to enforce? (In our kids' elementary school, the PTSA music program was taught by UW Music grad students and not certified teachers.)

Former NE SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

Just can't help but point out that I ALREADY PAY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL through my taxes, kindergarten full day tuition (yes, I could choose to have my child go half-day but then she would miss MATH and SCIENCE), and the weekly volunteer hours I put in. I am disgusted with the district administration and board that has systematically mismanaged my money, and has created a school district that is getting by ONLY on the backs of those parents who can donate MORE money and time to make it work. At my child's school we are CONSTANTLY making up the difference between what the district provides and what the kids actually need to make it through the day. Disgusted. Sorry for the caps, I'm just so mad.

Just So Mad

Anonymous said...

This is such a complicated issue. Imagine if there was a way to make a list of priorities, and then have estimates of what those priorities cost in time and in money!!

Kids with less family resources need more support in the classroom and outside the classroom - wow - it is all numbers!

I suppose it is good that there isn't a way to make a list and estimate costs and figure our priorities, otherwise we'd have mass unemployment for middle and senior managers who are busy going to training on how to write memos about being effective!

By the way - If I donate to goodwill, I didn't donate to the red cross. If I want to split my money, I will. If all charities deserve an equal cut, then tell me... or ... let's just kick the can down the road!

ProblemSolvingIsDumb?

Anonymous said...

@Dorothy: Our PTA used to direct donations to the school's self help fund BUT over the years have learned how little input we have over how the money gets spent.


Now, we write grants for agreed upon expenditures AND if the money is not entirely spent, it comes back to the PTA.

spsma

Anonymous said...

Oh please. Give it a rest. Just so mad you are actually just so ridiculous. You DON"T actually pay. You don't pay enough to have the high quality you want. So shut up or put up. It isn't all about administration or bungles. Private high schools are mostly around 25 grand, and that's without any expensive students. Around 5 times the money given Roosevelt. That's the real cost of quality education.

-reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

David, agreed. But I think you may have misinterpreted what I said.

First, I didn't (and neither did Brian) say the PTA contributions were huge.

Second, I favor the motion to not allow PTAs to fund staff positions. I think it is too much stress for a PTA to keep it up year after year when there are other things that PTA could fund (like enrichment).

Third, I really don't know what to think about PTA sharing of funds. I really don't. What I think would be lovely is if the Seattle Council PTSA might make more known about Schmitz Park's efforts to help in their region and encourage other PTAs to do the same, maybe once a year.

Bird, good point about the middle income schools which have neither big fundraising nor Title One money.

I'm sure if anyone wanted to check with the district, they would explain that Title One money does NOT support the same things as PTA money can.

juicygoofy said...

Floor Pie said, "What about a sister school program in which affluent schools are paired with schools in need?"

Whittier's PTA sponsers school supply drives, holiday gift drives and book drives for Bailey-Gatzert. I've heard that other schools have voluntarily paired up also, but don't know the details.

Anonymous said...

Yep, like I said this thread shows off the PTA for what it is. Me, me, me and my family and my school.

There is no we. There is no crossing geographic lines or economic lines beyond Me and Mine. --I will nod to the International School's efforts, but that is outside the PTA.--

Therefore the PTA can just stop putting itself up as the Voice of Seattle Schools. It ain't about the community of the whole. It's about My Slice of the Tiny Little Pie.

Southie

Anonymous said...

And I cheer for the Whittier partnership with Bailey or other partnerships. But those happen on school levels not through PTA encouragement.

PTA president Lauren McGuire's duck and cover quote on behalf of her organization speaks for itself.

Southie

Anonymous said...

Nathan Hale high school funds teachers through its fund raising. I know they were aiming to raise $100,000 through pledges last year. I am not sure if that includes auction money.

Susan

emeraldkity said...

MGJ changed the requirement of schools eligible for Title one money from 40% FRL to 55% FRL.

Any interest in changing it back?

Anonymous said...

I've often hoped that there would be a discussion about the monies PTS'a raise all across the district. But to me it all comes back to how much finding the district/state ISN'T coming across with. Having been involved with 6 schools over the course of our parenting, we have watched PTA's set aside funding for the Principal to have in 'reserve'-(something I never thought to be ethical), we saw Title I funds withdrawn from our northend school due to the FRL population decreasing to "only" 21%, (of course meaning that there were STILL 1 in 5 children at our school-80 or so-that needed that funding and all its accompaniment); we've also seen funds used very well to benefit EVERY child in the school; we've seen parents/guardians/neighbors contribute hours beyond description for which a monetary value isn't even formulated: for tutoring, teacher-help, field trips, computer setups, playground duty, dental/vision screening, jog a thons, plant sales, hanging art show, science shows, providing instruments, playground and grounds re-dos, etc. Often I have thought that at this point, it is a co-dependent relationship in the sense that as help is provided, the district monies dwindle.....finally the PTA picks up providing the service if they still want it. At least those PTA's that can raise the funds.

I do agree that Rosenthal's article is about fighting over scraps. Olschefske once told me that it was about 'building community'! But this matter should be daylighted, and the SSD should be forced to address what has been, and is, happening. Partnering with another school is an immediate proactive item. Get your own PTA to talk about it. If this is an important issue to you, make your presence known at your PTA meetings.

Begin in your own community and teach those kids to take it outward.

Two and a half years to go.

Powers said...

Melissa/All:

Here are some additional details/facts on McGilvra:

At McGilvra, the funding we receive from the District/State/Federal is so low, much of what the PTA spends money on is fairly basic. If the PTA did nothing, we would have classroom teachers with core classes and pretty much nothing else. This year, the PTA funded:

A 3/4 time art teacher (we had no art without PTA money)
A 1/2 time math specialist to help with upper grades in math
A 1/2 time reading specialist to help with lower grades in reading
A 1/2 time counselor (the District provided zero counselor)
A 1/2 time computer teacher (who handles a lot of the state/District testing and "pushes in" to work with classroom teachers on projects).

Thats it. No calculus, no chemistry. Nothing very extravagant (we don't even have a choral music program this year). Other schools get enough basic funding to cover many of these positions. We have to pay for them ourselves (the above five positions cost the PTA $240K this year - out of a total PTA budget of $307K).

What else would you have us do? Most of us would like to see this State make a larger commitment to truly fund basic education for all students. In the meantime, our school is not adequately funded. We have parents with means, so we are going to fill those gaps (our kids are in school today, we don't have time to wait for the revolution).

On the broader issues, the commenters who criticize our school for only looking out for our own simply don't have their facts straight. We have a very active parent community and that activism carries beyond our school. Just ask people like Peter Maier or others who have been involved for many years in broader school funding issues. Every time there is a levy or other campaign or issue related to the broader funding of all schools, the McGilvra community has been there - to support the effort, to give money to the campaign, to man phone banks, to put up yard signs, etc.

So, from a macro level- We have pushed to raise taxes to better fund education. With taxes based on property values, on average, the Madison Park folks certainly pay their share of the money that goes into the overall education pot in the first place. Then, we get significantly less of that money back in basic funding per student. So we make up the difference - again, with our own money.

Given the current (in my opinion, messed up) funding system, what else would you have us do? Stay in the public system but hold on to our money so our kids can have a lesser program in the name of equality? Leave the public system? How does any of that help the other schools?

Scott Powers
McGilvra dad

Anonymous said...

Bryant discussed sharing with a partner schools a couple years ago and most parents were outraged. That is when I decided I did not want any part of PTA there. This is the culture the current PTA president comes from.

ex-Bryant

Fruitbat said...

About six years ago I was on the PTA board at my daughter's school, and asked about sending a few hundred of the $120,000 raised to a south-end school to buy library books. I did not expect the reply "Those schools have more money already." (Really? Then why are they lacking in library books, art teachers, and all the other PTA funded goodies up north?).
I then asked the Seattle PTA head at the time--Sherry Carr--about some kind of equity (like the funds I see are in place in parts of Oregon) and got the same "Those schools get more money" answer. I would guess that's some official line in the Seattle PTA. No point in setting an example of sharing.


Not all PTA funds go to "enrichment" Every school I've been involved with offered a yearly allotment to teachers for buying supplies or for other classroom expenses. That would be, I'm sure, even more useful to some south-end teachers, and that's not going to come out of government funding, or grants. But it sure could come out of some PTA sharing.

numbers said...

For the schools mentioned in the Seattle Times article-

Per student PTA funds
(total fundraised/#students):

Coe: $426
John Hay: $406
McGilvra: $1322
View Ridge: $331

Total funding per student, with avg PTA funding per student added to the avg SPS school funding per student:

Coe: $6,251
John Hay: $6,500
McGilvra: $7,456
View Ridge: $6,649

For comparison, the SPS average school funding per student, without PTA funds included:

Concord: $7,847
Dunlap: $7,883
Hawthorne: $8,206
Thornton Creek: $7,236
Greenwood: $7,359
Northgate: $8,848
B.F. Day: $6,787
Madrona K-8: $8,506

Maureen said...

If a Portland style system is adopted by the Seattle PTSA, would anything stop schools from forming other nonprofit entities to fund specific activities at their own schools? I'm thinking about Roosevelt where the PTSA raises very little, but the sport/music/drama boosters raise hundreds of thousands. It seems as though that money wouldn't be accessible to the general pool. My kid's K-8 doesn't have a PTSA at all (though I can imagine we would voluntarily join in if revenue sharing was enacted.)

I'm hoping all of the 2nd order impacts of a change in policy will be considered before it's enacted.

Chris S. said...

Yeah, I've been having this argument with myself for years. Same thoughts, sister school, central granting fund. Learned most of the nuances contained in this thread. (Again, so m uch more information here than in the times, but I am going to buy my first copy in years today because of Brian Rosenthal.)

Anyway, watching state funding decrease and realizing the middle class goes thru several rounds of Robin-Hooding even before they get out their checkbook for their own kids...less excited about of shared fundraising. Mostly because it's a band-aid.

SO, let's pool a percentage of PTA funding for an income tax initiative and PR campaign. Figure out what it will cost and calculate what those of us who can need to cough up. I'll be honest, I got this idea from Michael DeBell. Let's do this. Now. I for one am much more inclined to dig deeper for a solution than a feel-good band-aid.

The caveat: I-728, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Erin said it well for me.

Two things: I had a principal whose previous experience was in the South Seattle schools. My school routinely did fundraisers (usually books or supplies) for a sister school. The principal couldn't believe it and told our PTA that the school we were helping had way more money than we did. Apparently, there's a lack of transparency when it comes to outside funding for schools. I'm including federal money as well as community support, business support, grants and gifts. We really don't know how much money is out there. It is hard to argue when you don't have the facts.

Second, every school should be funded for a full-time nurse and counselor. And isn't the discrepancy in the SpEd percentages simply a reflection of how many children are served at each school? What does that mean? Unless, of course, there are candidates for SpEd that are not being identified. It doesn't take many children to overwhelm SpEd teachers if ous is any example. If they were there and being served, the percentages would be higher. No limit on serving SpEd kids unless I miss the point here. When we budgeted as a staff, Sp Ed was outside the process ecause it was determined by numbers served.

David, perhaps it is scraps to you but for each program it purchases, those kids have an advantage. I don't think it is just the more affluent areas that determine enrichment; I think it is also how the schools who get that extra money choose to spend it. Maybe academic overkill reducing the engagement level of students at some of these "poorer" schools? Providing art classes may raise math scores or reading scores. Performing a play. I have no proof although there is evidence out there that enrichment increases engagement and learning. So. perhaps re prioritizing how that outside money is being used is part of the fix.

I find it difficult to accept that any school should be penalized for enriching its own coffers. And I teach at a school that is not in the upper echelon of auction money although we do have an auction.

But first, show me the numbers - all of the numbers.

n...

Anonymous said...

After seeing the PTA numbers, wouldn't it be nice if some generosity were modeled at McGilvra!

But your numbers speak to my point: it is not all about the amount of dollars going out but how they are spent as well.

I previously posted that in high-poverty schools, class size needs to be small. Is that being done? It doesn't seem like it if those numbers are correct. Certificated teachers take up a good percentage of budgets.

n...

Anonymous said...

Scott Powers -- In terms of "what would you have us do," one of the alternative approaches mentioned in the article was a Portland-style equity fund. That could be one step toward helping increase outcomes at poorer schools. The kids in those schools don't have time to wait for the revolution, either.

--JvA

Melissa Westbrook said...

From the Times' comment section:

"I'm surprised there isn't an organization like this with the Seattle Public Schools as many suburban districts have Foundations set up."

"Everett school district already has a district-wide foundation that can be donated to (for distribution to teachers who write a grant proposal detailing what the funds would be used for)."

I think there's a foundation - the Alliance for Education, something like that - that was supposed to help our schools but I'm not sure what they really do today.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one kind of grossed out by the idea of "sister schools," wherein a rich school chooses a single poor minority school as the beneficiary of some of its funding? It reminds me of adopt-a-child programs where you spend 50 cents "adopting" a specific Third World child, and the program forces them to write you letters about how thankful they are for your munificence.

I do understand where you parents of means are coming from. I am also a parent of means, married to another parent of means, and we're considering joining you guys in a high-scoring K-12 zone so our kid can get an excellent free education too. It isn't fair, but it makes sense.

--JvA

Anonymous said...

I am gong to cross-post from the newer "Another Piece..." thread since the conversation is more robust here:

This changing demographic for MacGilvra will definitely be something to watch in both test scores, as "n..." notes, and in school economics.

If a portion of PTA funds are to be shared, there should definitely be some factor in the equation that takes the number of FRL students in the school into consideration. A school like Graham Hill with a strong PTA that comes primarily from the 40% non FRL families raises much less than a school like MacGilvra (was), AND the funds it does raise do benefit the 60% of students that are FRL. Should a percentage of that relatively meager pot be spread around to a school with no PTA, but possibly less FRL students? Will schools with marginal non-FRL families sit back and let the schools with bigger non-FRL populations fund them? The scenarios could play out in many different ways.

It is a GIANT can of worms, and very complex. I must admit that the only true solution is for our government (and thus the taxpayers) to fund all schools for items WELL ABOVE the basics. But I honestly don't see that happening in my lifetime.

Solvay

Anonymous said...

Well, McDonald will leap to the top of this list next year with a $300,000 goal just for Immersion Assistants in the classroom.

http://tinyurl.com/83xz3rh

How do they take a % of that away?

Signed Parent at Lincoln

Anonymous said...

Maureen -- How I think it works in Portland is that any funds (raised by PTAs or sports boosters or whoever) intended for instruction must go through that school's " Local School Foundation" and get the one-third cut. I assume that means the funds for sports uniforms could go through a separate foundation.

I'd post the Portland FAQ link I got this from, but am having trouble posting comments via iPhone.

--JvA

KG said...

Mr. Powers,

I appreciate as an employee and an
activist your help to make the community better.

Funding the positions that McGilvra
PTA does is very noble and is great work more important as education is than most things.

I will tell you that the Seattle Schools has over funded central Administration for years and has passed the PTA's the boondoggle of attempting to bring basic education support to the children.

This last year and many more to come will continue to test the education community.

Especially in Seattle where The Director of finance received an 18 thousand dollar raise along with many other colleagues in the John Stanford building.In the 2010-2011 school year the total spent for Central verse any other Central admin. if any other district was 18 million more than it should have been.

It is a huge number. Mr. Duggan Harman and his school board cronies always say that the cuts will stay as far away from the classroom as possible.

Wrong! They should begin telling the truth and say we keep the most money in Central admin. to have the largest negative impact possible on the children.

Just food for thought.

You could check the OSPI numbers under the F-195 reports and see
how phony their lies are.

Anonymous said...

From the article:

The disparity goes back to the 1990s, when parents at wealthy schools upped their fundraising to make up for a decrease in district money resulting from a new funding formula that gave more to low-income schools.
...
But advocates for low-income schools point out that those funding sources come with strict requirements. So while poorer schools have little control over how to spend the extra money, parents at wealthy schools get to choose what will be most beneficial for their children.


Perhaps I'm missing something, but rather than picking on McGilvra, shouldn't we focus on giving poorer schools more control over the money they do get?

Wick

Anonymous said...

Schools with higher FRL rates or other indications of poverty get more money (albeit with more rules) than any PTA, even at McGilvra, could hope to compensate for.

Here's my provocative question ---what's the 'right' amount of money to give to a school with 80% FRL? What's the right amount for a school with 5% FRL? How do we know that the pie is being divided the correct way?

I certainly don't want to deny anyone their best shot at a good education. But allocating a budget is the very definition of a zero-sum game. The money we spend in the hopes that we can make a difference for at-risk kids comes from somewhere: it probably comes from kids who are NOT labeled 'at risk'.

So again, how many reading tutors for at-risk kids is 'enough' before my kid can get a full-time librarian? How much test prep for at-risk kids is 'enough' before my kid's music program will be funded by the district?

I suspect there's no right answer that makes anyone feel good, which is why nobody talks about the problem this way. I don't feel good after writing it down---but to me this is the elephant in the room....there is no reasonable allocation of resources that will do what people say they want to do.

Feelin' Crabby

Meg said...

If McGilvra had a significant percentage of Free/Reduced Lunch eligible students, would resentment of their supplemental funding be as high?

Compare South Shore K-8 to McGilvra:

* South Shore K-8 receives nearly $1M in annual funding from the New School Foundation
* Upwards of 150 seats in the new building are unoccupied. Most option schools are being used to ease capacity issues, but South Shore is not.
* SPS has an MOU with the New School Foundation for small class sizes (as well as more control over principal selection than most schools have)
* In addition to providing South Shore with a new building, SPS is considering opening an additional school in the region -- costing at least $1M a year -- instead of filling South Shore to its capacity

It's easy to dislike McGilvra because the parents are perceived as wealthy. It's easy to scream that through privilege and influence, McGilvra effectively turned their school into a private school.

However.

SPS administrators, knowing it was unfair, told schools that if they could come up with a plan to turn themselves around, SPS would sign off. Should the McGilvra PTA have told SPS to suck it, and that they wouldn't do a thing to improve their school until every school in the district had an equal opportunity to do so? Seriously?

I don’t think so. And I don’t think SPS should have skipped a chance to have a school community put some serious skin into turning a school around.

The question of whether outside sources should fund what amount to basics is a sticky one. It isn't only a question of "rich school" vs. "not rich school." It's happening at South Shore just as much as McGilvra (or Coe, or Laurelhurst...)

There are other questions too -- whether school communities (PTAs) or other funding sources should tithe to benefit all schools, or how much say PTAs – regardless of their financial contributions – should have in how schools are run.

I don’t know the answers. But if we are willing to stick it to one school's students “on principle,” then that same principle should be applied elsewhere. Otherwise, we're just cutting down programs for public school students simply because we don’t like their parents.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations folks: You're being divided and conquered. Nothing like seeing proud turkeys at their own thanksgiving.

Enjoy kicking McGilvra's parents in the teeth for trying to do right by their kids. If ripping down others makes some feel better about themselves, so be it. But nobody wins if this keeps up. Instead everybody loses.

It might be easier to take dollars right out of McGilvra's pockets rather than emulate them, but remember the proverb If you give a man a fish, it feeds him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he'll feed himself for a lifetime.

We'll do better for our kids to grow the pie instead of forcing everyone to take paper-thin slices while McGilvra & a couple others pay the tab. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

"It's easy to dislike McGilvra because the parents are perceived as wealthy."

Sounds like Mitt Romney invoking the politics of envy when someone questions his Cayman account.

This issue is not about parents with means (translation: this is not about you) but involves questions of fairness and equity in public schools.

Eugene, Portland, Issaquah, Lake Washington and Bellevue have already recognized the discrepancy and made reasoned policies. Concerns about schools being forced to abandon parental support under an enacted policy are clearly hyperbolic, given the results in these neighboring districts.

The fact that Seattle has yet to even recognize such a glaring unfairness while all of these other districts have already had the discussion and enacted policies speaks volumes. This is another component of a general milieu of unethical accounting in this school district.

The South Shore model has been a
concern for years, starting with Stuart Sloan's effective takeover of TT Minor when many of us were part of that community. However, that issue is about early proto-charters rather than PTA funding.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Thanks, enough already. That's what I meant to say. Just because there's no easy, perfect solution to inequity, that doesn't mean our only real option is to ignore it. We could consider taking any of the steps that Portland, Bellevue, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Eugene, etc., have taken.

--JvA

Anonymous said...

For the districts who have enacted the pooling of a percentage of donations... do they also have a similar disproportionate WSS per pupil funding? That is to say, in those districts mentioned, are there schools who get more money per student and some who get less money per student, like in Seattle?

Not being snarky, -- I'm just curious whether it is an apples to apples comparision.

It seems like if all students get the same state/fed per pupil funding in those districts, then donation sharing is appropriate. If not, then it does seem like an equalizer.

-sps mom

Anonymous said...

I did not think the District still did the WSS. Does anyone know for certain?

But even then...that extra money does not go for additional teachers to create smaller class sizes, nor does it bring in art teachers, etc. It is more for support staff that his sorely needed, like counselors, family support workers, reading tutors.

And please keep in mind that schools with high FRL populations have far fewer parents volunteering in classrooms or even supplying snacks, etc. That extra money barely brings them up to a level playing field with the schools with less FRL—even without a big injection of PTA money.

If you have ever volunteered in a school with a large FRL population,you will understand. If not...well you need to check out a few and see what that extra money from the District (if any) provides.

WV reminds me I have to get back to my real work now: typset

Solvay

Maureen said...

Solvey, SPS does still use the Weighted Staffing Standard Model, so every school of a certain size is supposed to be given the same core staff (a classroom teacher for every so many kids, 0.5 of a librarian...).

sps mom, good questions! I would also like to know how 'poor' the schools in those Districts need to be to receive Title 1 money. As we know, MGJ raised the bar in Seattle from (I think) 40% FRL to 55% FRL.

Anonymous said...

I participated in a conversation among a sped support group once about paying for private tutors/specialists. These kids were getting their needs met to a much greater extent than their classmates who couldn’t afford the private providers & were left with only the crappy services available at school. Parents felt that they would far rather have effective sped staffing levels at school where it would benefit all kids. There was a lot of concern about what was going to happen to the kids who were not getting the help they needed. Parents were willing to donate their tutoring money to help provide more staffing hours. However the PTSA & BLT policy in that school was that no staff could be paid for out of donations.

What is the right thing? Is it more selfish that they continued their tutoring/OT/PT privately or would it have been more selfish to donate to their school where some of the other kids would have benefited along with their kids? Should they have stopped their tutoring & sent the money to the Alliance to divide among the poorer schools in the district? Would that money have helped with the sped staffing they were so concerned about? I do not think they would have done that because they desperately needed to see their kids make some progress and were not willing to sacrifice that to balance funding in the district. They would have made partial sacrifice to balance the services in their school. Is that selfish?

-sped parent

Maureen said...

sped parent makes a very important point. I have also seen this played out in a situation where parents pooled money to hire an uncertificated person to effectively cut class size for all of the kids. (Class size set by SPS was exceptionally large.) At some point the District cracked down and said they would have to hire a certificated teacher for that position and run the hiring through SPS. That would increase the cost to the point that the person couldn't be hired at all. The admin (channeling SPS) said it was the union's fault (though no complaint had ever been filed.) I am a huge union supporter, and think admin often uses union conflict as an excuse. This is a case where I think the Creative Approach MOU could help by creating a framework where the union members in the school agree to exceptions to policies that benefit everyone.

dj said...

I have had kids in four different SPS elementary schools now (and frankly by the end of all of this expect at least two more. I will be a veritable expert!) Two of those schools are McGilvra and (obviously-now-closed, then-mostly-FRE) T.T. Minor. The kindergarten size for my kids at McGilvra and T.T. Minor? Comparable. PCP access? Comparable. After-school activities? Comparable. Do I see any differences? Yes -- the disciplinary approaches are not the same, the educational culture is different in ways that are hard to explain, and family-oriented events (shows, festivals, etc.) are packed at McGilvra while they were not at T.T. Minor. Also, T.T. Minor was more racially diverse, obviously, although the kindergartens at McGilvra now look more diverse (my son, at his original table of four kids in kindergarten, was the only one who had parents who were native English speakers).

I moved my son from a mediocre private school to McGilvra, and certainly don't see "private school perks."

Anonymous said...

McGilvra and S. Shore are opposite ends. I think if you just focus on those extremes, then the in betweens get missed and that's most schools. There are schools with higher FRLs, slightly higher per pupil funding, but overall in the classrooms, not enough to fund what's really needed. Same can be said for schools with PTAs that raised far less than 100K and have lower per pupil spending. Think it would be better for district and SCPTSA to look at this and figure out a more equitable way to work out PTA funding and how it's being used in schools (enrichment vs. support services vs. basic ed- classroom size/certificated teacher). Think SCPTSA would be better off continuing with their advocacy for Basic Ed funding and NOT get sidetracked (by charter or teacher eval bills).

stuck somewhere in between

Anonymous said...

stuck...
I agree compeltely "SCPTSA would be better off continuing with their advocacy for Basic Ed funding and NOT get sidetracked (by charter or teacher eval bills)" !!!

Our PTA (not named in the article and probably midpoint in the $ raised arena) pays for tutors,playground supervision, enrichment (artists in residence, support to PE, music and library programs), classroom support via small 'grants' to each teacher for use in their classroom etc... With everything we fund we try to have the broadest reach in the school (helping all the staff and all the students) possible. We've made a point of saying away from paying certificated core staff, exactly for the reasons that 1. core staff needs to be funded by SPS and the school's budget and 2. it is not a reliable source of funding, difficult to sustain and places a huge fundraising burden on the PTA and families. The 'staff' we do pay for (playground, tutors) are all hourly folks. Of course, by paying for those things the school's budget is freed up for other expenditures that we can't or shouldn't pay for, I get that.

It's worth noting though that every student in our school benefits from the funds raised and dispursed. I have no data on this but I'm sure our school is not different than many in that not all parents donate (time or money) but ALL students benefit, regardless of the investment of their parents.

-sps mom

Who is Paying? said...

Ok, my beef is that the money comes from only some of the parents, is distributed by a membership organization which represents only a small group.

Also, poor schools get more per student to account for the PTA inequity, apparently, and their money is less fussed over. Where is the problem?

Maureen said...

Interesting national level response to this article on the Parent's Forum at College Confidential .

Anonymous said...

What a thread. Just waded thru and wow, what a revelation. So parents can buy a public school in Seattle. Or at least be influential shareholders while their kids attend. And if there is an issue of contention at one of these schools would money talk?

Hipster with a kid

Disgusted said...

The concept being played out before our eyes is called Horizontal Agression.

Instead of fighting with each other, why not get after your legislators to fully fund education. Your time would be better spent.

Charlie Mas said...

Hipster, yes, you can buy a school. Or at least you used to be able to buy a school. They are, however, very expensive. The New School Foundation bought a school but it cost them several million dollars.

Anonymous said...

1)I find that many of the numbers portrayed are not exactly correct. Using the data summaries on the SPS site (source below) the per student dollars are as highlighted below. I called the district budget office and if PTA's pay for staff (counselors, art, librarian, etc) directly through the district it is reflected in this number (it is in the “grants and other” category). Most of the PTA's mentioned in the article as raising unfair amounts are still at the bottom of the per student dollars---even with all the money they raise. So how is PTA money raised for these schools unfair? Yes, there is inequality, but not just in PTA dollars raised.
2)How is sharing the money/pooling really going to solve the problem? For each individual PTA/school there is enough money for a counselor, librarian, etc but the sum of the money raised by all these PTA’s would not even make a dent in the per student dollars. Let’s say (and I am being generous here) that the combined money of all the PTA’s was 2 million. With 45,000 students that would be about $45 dollars per student. That gets us nothing.
3)Also with a district riddled with fraud and controversy, the parents that are currently donating to these individual PTA’s would stop. Donating to an individual school makes parents feel like they are making a difference. Their money has an impact. That would not happen with a pooled fund. The donations would decrease significantly and there would be no money to share. Again how is that solving the problem for all kids in Seattle?
4)Lastly, if I understand my call to the district correctly the schools that are paying for teachers, counselors, etc are paying district rate salaries and benefits for these people. If the district rules that PTA’s can no longer pay for staff through them, then PTA’s will just pay via individual contracts. These contract employees will be paid much less with no benefits. And there is a lot less oversight with these contract employees vs. a district employee. How is this better?

Per Student Dollar(with PTA Funds)
Rainier View $10,794.00
Northgate $8,848.00
Roxhill $8,464.00
West Seattle $8,315.00
Hawthorne $8,206.00
Bailey $7,825.00
MLK $7,600.00
Leschi $6,766.00
Queen Anne $6,741.00
Stevens $6,671.00
Dearborn $6,660.00
Beacon Hill $6,345.00
View Ridge $6,318.00
Montlake $6,270.00
McGilvra $6,134.00
John Hay $6,094.00
John Muir $5,854.00
Coe $5,825.00
Loyal Heights $5,348.00
Laurelhurst $5,283.00


Source:http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=197023&sessionid=a5d4d100026d37d544b1cdfda760a078&t