Wednesday, July 17, 2013

APP/Lowell/Lincoln

A reader, Budget Reader, asked some questions about the seemingly low budgeting for APP@Lowell/Lincoln (which to most people's minds are two schools but not to the district).  BR followed through and asked the district's Joe Paperman.  I thought it worth having its own thread for institutional memory and because several parents have asked the same questions.

This is NOT a thread to start in on APP (so please don't).

A thank you to both BR and Joe Paperman for doing this work.

From BR:

As a follow-up to my earlier post about the budget document and APP @ Lincoln, I sent my questions to Joe Paperman, who is in charge of budgeting for the District. He was kind enough to send a detailed response:
1. Re: Is APP @ Lincoln still connected in any way to Lowell Elementary (on Capitol Hill):

For item #1 there is no financial link any more. We had a database table we used for putting the documents together and it still had the old name for APP @ Lincoln in it. I’ll make sure we get that changed for the revised version which is coming out on Friday.

2. Re: why APP @ Lincoln has a lower per-student budgeted expenditure than any other elementary school:

For item #2 it is essentially because of the way dollars are pushed out to schools and school size – sort of a perfect storm for APP@Lincoln.

Staffing - Gen Ed teachers are allocated to all elementary schools based on enrollment at each grade. Most schools would show up pretty much the same on that measure but because the contractual class size is larger at higher grades (26 for K-3 and 28 for 4-5) and APP @ Lincoln is weighted towards the higher grades due to the way students enter there is a small effect on the average dollars allocated per student. Other staffing is based on student characteristics but is added on top of the general ed allocations. At elementary one ELL teacher is allocated for every 45 ELL student – APP @ Lincoln has ZERO ELL students and thus has no allocation. This means they automatically have a lower cost per student than any school with ELL students. Special Ed teachers are allocated at a rate of 1 per 18 SM 1 students. APP @ Lincoln has 6 SpEd students and thus they only get a 0.4 FTE resource teacher (rounded up to the closest .2). This ratio puts them by far at the lowest percentage SpEd students in the district thus again lowering their cost versus other schools. Finally the big add for many schools is the self contained SpEd class rooms. So with gen ed ratios the cost per kid for APP is around $3,632 for the teachers ($87,169/27 kids per teacher +12.5% for PCP time). Our cheapest self contained room per student is a 9 student to 1 teacher and 1 IA ratio which gives a cost of around $16,000 per kid (the highest self contained is around $25,000 per kid). Adding a self contained class or two in an elementary thus drives the average way up (check out the Lowell building which has a high ratio of self contained SpEd for example).

Discretionary Dollars – Every elementary school gets the same basic allocation per kid at $93 each so that has no affect. Additional dollars are pushed out at about $212 for every FRL (Free and Reduced Lunch) student. APP has 3, so they get about $600, or $1 per kid on average. The average across the district is around 40% FRL so most schools get about $80 added per kid.

Grant Money – We give schools either Title I or LAP grant money with the Title I going to the schools with the highest needs based on FRL %. Obviously with their low FRL numbers APP is not a Title I school. LAP dollars are allocated out based on the number of FRL students but the rate per student is also a sliding amount base on the FRL %. So with the lowest % FRL in the district they get the lowest rate also multiplied by the lowest number of students (only 3 of them). So the LAP allocation for APP is pretty much non-existent.

So all of the above – the goal is to push money out to school based on student need. The measures of student need are SpEd, ELL and FRL – APP comes in last place on pretty much every measure of need (by a large margin) and thus has a way lower allocation per student.

Lastly there is a scale factor. There are fixed costs (only 1 principal) and as one of the largest schools the cost per student get’s pushed down. The one area where APP would come in higher than other schools is transportation. At the district we record all the transportation costs centrally rather than at the schools so it’s not included in the numbers presented.

22 comments:

ben said...

Did you by any chance ask about the OSPI classification of the schools and test reporting? I've been half tempted to write a mail to Randy Dorn etc. calling SPS out about this.
Thanks

none said...

"...APP @ Lincoln is weighted towards the higher grades due to the way students enter ..." WT? The WSS (on the district's website) has no such formula...

Watch the answers you get from JP

Anonymous said...

I thought he just meant that the upper grades had slightly lower cost/student because there are more students per teacher in the higher grades. And APP has more kids in the upper grades because it mushrooms as kids continue to enter.

--TC

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ben, not sure what you are talking about in specific but I think BR only asked the questions listed.

Anonymous said...

So, to be clear, there is no financial link - they have separate budgets - yet they are still one school on paper (with a satellite location at Lincoln)?

ok...

Anonymous said...

"...APP @ Lincoln is weighted towards the higher grades due to the way students enter ..." WT? The WSS (on the district's website) has no such formula..."

What is the grade level distribution at APP @ Lincoln? My guess would be that their students are weighted towards the higher grades because students can test in every year (i.e. there are fewer 1st graders than 5th graders) while the opposite is true at a neighborhood school (because the kids leave the school to go to APP or elsewhere).

That distribution would result in APP being weighted to higher grades, and thus lower cost (because of higher student/teacher ratios).

3 FRL, 6 SPED and 0 ELL. Wow. Is this a change? I guess the change to a "north app" site would change the distribution, too, since the north schools are not 40% FRL to start out with.

zb

Charlie Mas said...

APP @ Lincoln is not a school. It has many of the trappings of a school, but it is not a school. It is, officially, an annex of Lowell.

That's simply a fact. It is also a fact that someone decided that it should be this way. It was a conscious choice and someone is responsible for that choice.

The question is: what children are served by keeping APP @ Lincoln an annex instead of a school and what children are harmed by it?

According to the Strategic Plan Core Belief Number One:

"We believe it is essential to place the interests of students above all others in every decision we make."

How does this decision serve students' interests?

Charlie Mas said...

I've reviewed the District policy, 6010, on budgeting and it does not allow the District to create a budget for APP @ Lincoln that does not follow the WSS.

For budgetary purposes, Lowell and APP @ Lincoln are treated as if they are two separate schools, but they are not - officially - two separate schools, so treating them that way is a violation of the policy.

mirmac1 said...

I have checked the 2013-14 Weighted Staffing Standards on the district website and the CBA ( Pg 81). K-3 is 26:1 and 4-5 is 28:1. I don't know too many students who enter APP in grades 4 or 5 but I could be wrong.

It is hardly a revelation that there is an under-representation of ELL or SpEd (2E) students.

What Charlie says is correct. That is why K-5 STEM at Boren was so woefully underfunded last year. It was never a "school", it is a program or curricular focus or whatever. The state funding model is based on prototypical schools based on size. You get X number maintenance staff, Y number custodians, and Z number librarians. If you're not considered a "school", you don't qualify under that formula.

Anonymous said...

There may be no students getting ELL services, but believe me, there are MANY MANY students in APP for whom English is their second language and not the one spoken at home. They are just not needing/using services, although many are still learning English. And yes, the ethnic diversity in the program locations can only reflect the neighborhoods from which they draw, so North APP is whiter than South APP.

And why the higher grades mushroom? People prefer to keep their littler kids in the neighborhood school, but as time goes on, a gen ed classroom can no longer meet their academic needs, then they test and transfer. Hence, two first grade classes and 5 fifth grades.

sidneyd

Anonymous said...

Mirmac,

Many students indeed enter at 4th and 5th...for the reasons that sidneyd stated and also as the want APP for middle school and want to get a year (or 2) in for social reasons before the switch. In the northend, I would argue as well, many parents the last few years were looking at the overcrowding at Eckstein and wanted to jump ship to Hamilton. A lot of new faces in my kid's 5th grade classes.

Over elem

Anonymous said...

sidneyd,

How many are the "many many" students you refer to? Also, what are the statistics on "North APP is whiter than South APP"? How many white students does this actually mean(as percentages)in each program?

--enough already

Charlie Mas said...

Because North APP's demographic numbers are mixed with Lowell's, and South APP's demographic numbers are mixed with the general education program at Thurgood Marshall, it can be tricky - if not impossible - to get this data disaggregated by program.

mirmac1 said...

Not really Charlie. 2012-13's disaggregated #s for Lowell@Lincoln was .7% ELL and .7% SpED. Is probably comparable for the coming year.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr. Paperman could be asked to disaggregate percentages at the Lincoln and Lowell programs by race.

They obviously have this data, Charlie. I wasn't born yesterday.

--enough already


Anonymous said...

I don't know how ell services work, but if it's anything like sped the qualifying process might be at issue. My child in APP has a significant speech issue, causing enough of a detriment that ordinarily he would qualify for services. But the bar is "causes him to work below grade level," so since he compensates enough to work ahead(though still well behind his other areas), he doesn't get services or "help" Lincoln's numbers, though he's several years behind in his area of issue. It's very frustrating and expensive, as a parent. That must also occur with other designations- qualifying for APP disqualifies you for a sped or ell designation, because you are able to compensate for your problem with other strengths, not because you don't have issues. I can think of reasons why we might want the system to work this way generally, but it does skew numbers.

I also agree that the district split the program so as to make the north as white as possible. IIt seemed atrocious when it was happening, and is annoying now that the district pints the finger at the program for problems they created. I am worried that the further planned splits only make that worse. We'll see.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

@Sleeper: Actually, increasing diversity was a goal of the elementary splits, by theoretically locating the South program - originally proposed to go to Hawthorne - at TM, which was about 95% non-white at that time. Harium and others on the Board, as well as many parents, believed co-locating with a predominantly non-white gen-ed program would increase APP's diversity overall by making the program more appealing to non-white families in the South End than they felt it was at Lowell. Problem is, "If you build it they will come" didn't work, because "closer-to" access was never the problem. APP kids were bused from the farthest reaches of the district and still are, and surprisingly, the kids love the long bus rides. It seems we are once again seeing the "if it were closer to X, Y, or Z, it would be more diverse." Beware that theory. It's been tried and didn't work.

Access to APP has never been the problem. Identification and recruitment are. To diversify as it grows, APP needs to focus energy in those areas, and back off the idea that we can throw seeds of APP at people's feet all around the district where it will miraculously grow like apple trees. We tried that experiment already, and it didn't bear fruit.

I wish some folks would realize that the APP community would gladly serve all groups a lot better if they weren't constantly preoccupied with where they will be located next year, who will be their principal, why their teachers are being chased out, why their curriculum is not the same between their schools, why they are growing so fast, causing overcrowding and turf wars, etc., etc. No, I'm not trolling for APP sympathy, but just saying that it's hard to be proactive when all your time and energy is spent reacting to God knows what coming down the pike from SPS. I realize every parent in SPS experiences this too, but there's a lot of goodwill and energy being burned up by APP parents fighting for things they really shouldn't have to be fighting for, and which could be better spent addressing ELL and 2E issues, for example, if SPS Admin could get their act together and give its families some predictability.

Anonymous said...

I remember that theory. It seemed dumb to me then, and it seems dumb to me now. I was talking about the line they drew, though, for who goes north vs. south.

For the rest you must not be talking to me, since I said I think splits will make the problem worse. I think more locations will make the program less diverse. And I agree navigating district politics as an APP parent has so far been more frustrating than navigating as an option school parent, and that's saying something.

Also, mirmac, about a half class to full classroom of kids enters at 4th each year (so, 20% of the program is new). The big years are as far as I can tell first and third, then 4th, then 2nd. Some in 5th, but you're right, fewer. The anecdata I have leads me to believe it's because of when curriculum shifts (ESP from learn to read to read to learn). Either for first because the kid is so far ahead or the school is not interested in accommodating at all, or third because it starts to become harder to differentiate, kids speak up more if they're bored.

-sleeper

confused said...

I don't understand Paperman's comments about increased transportation costs. I get that almost all kids are bussed to Lincoln, but I have always heard that the state gives SPS transportation money for APP kids. Is that not true? Is it not enough to cover the costs? Or, is SPS not reducing their transportation costs for APP kids by the amount received from the State?

StringCheese said...

Mirmac1, I just wanted to clarify something about your comment on K-5 STEM. The woeful underfunding of the school was due to SPS funding for an enrollment of 55 students. They did this even after 500+ people showed up for the first meeting at Schmitz. It is possible that they even did this after the first open enrollment numbers showed 3x that number. When the doors opened in September, enrollment was at 270. Due to the absolutely ridiculous and inflexible way the budgets are handled, we were forced to "make do" with 1/6 the budget we should have had until mid-November when the budgets were adjusted to the October 1st enrollment counts.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Confused, that's my question as well. I"m wondering if maybe Paperman, being fairly new, isn't aware of this.

Ignacio said...

Fantastic!