Thursday, October 23, 2014

Amazing, Inspiring Rally



It was pretty great.  Loud and proud, about 500+ Garfield students came out and spilled down the long front steps to the school.  The drumline came out.  There were signs and chants "We want to graduate!" Totally student-directed and organized.   The student were actively engaged and boy, it was a diverse crowd.

(There were two groups of three girls each, not with the students but standing in front with parents and teachers and reporters.  One group was Asian, the other were African-American girls with hijabs.  I asked them if they had left class.  Shyly, they said yes.  I asked if they were more quiet girls and they smiled and said, "Yes, but we wanted to come and be here."  Even the quiet girls came.)

The student leaders each read a section of their statement.  They don't want to lose a teacher, don't want their schedules disrupted over the loss and want Superintendent Nyland to take money from the rainy day fund of $8M to cover the cost.  (I'll jump in and say that if they have multiple $100K plus jobs advertised, it seems to me the district has the money.  Teachers before headquarters staff.)

Director Peters was there (didn't see Director Director Peters was there (no sign ofBlanford).  She spoke and told the crowd that she had talked with Superintendent Nyland and encouraged him to review the numbers. She also said she agreed that the teacher should be funded out the rainy day fund.

I got to the press conference late .  The district was represented by a female administrator I did not recognize and Stacy Howard of Communications.  They said the district is reviewing the numbers that Garfield has versus what the district believed them to have for "discrepancies."  They said it was not true that a core teacher would be lost.  They said that that the least senior teacher in whatever department it is would be the one to leave but no teacher would be "gone by Monday."

One issue about the discrepancies may be over the Running Start count.  Those students may or may not have been counted so that may be an issue.

There were several tv stations and radio stations there so I expect this will be all over the local news.

74 comments:

GarfieldMom said...

I saw Sue Peters there, I didn't realize she had spoken. She has a student at Garfield, so it makes sense that she would come.

Anonymous said...

Yay, the Times actually covered the rally with a short story:

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/educationlab/2014/10/23/garfield-students-teachers-protest-staff-cut/

-midnight

Anonymous said...

I would love to see them give into this fit of entitlement and then explain how they're not doing it for anyone else. Nor will they give back the money to the school that doesn't raffle a Tesla for the PTSA.

-Lemons

cmj said...

Very heartening to see so many students engaged! I hope that some of the social studies teachers are tying these walkouts and protests back into their lessons somehow.

I will humbly disagree, however, with the student whose sign asked SPS to support the GHS principal.

@ Lemons
"Fit of entitlement"? Could you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

I have to ask what about the picture of the Garfield community looks like "entitlement"? GHS is near or at 40% free and reduced lunch, has a large ESL population, and a very diverse draw from the neighborhood (Madison Park to the CD). It is a complicated place. The APP population is about 25% of the total student body, but they all stand together as one Garfield. Probably one of the best parts of the Garfield experience for all students. Not everyone can take AP Calculus, but everyone is a Bulldog. And they learn from each other.

The money raised from the Tesla sale went directly into the PTSA budget, which funds the Read Right program for students reading below grade level, the College and Career Center, and a host of other line items that mostly benefit the underserved populations at Garfield. That is how we roll. Jazz and Orchestra have their own fundraising arms and have nothing to do with the GHS PTSA budget.

Purple and White

Robert Cruickshank said...

Yep, retaining teachers should take precedence over hiring new administrators, always. Really inspiring to see these kids fight back, and happy to see Sue Peters showing that she's on their side.

Melissa Westbrook said...

.."a fit of entitlement.."

First, any school could do what GHS did if they wanted to (or some other kind of protest). It's not the students' job to advocate for other schools.

Second, the faces I saw today where not the faces of entitled kids. These kids truly felt that many other students would suffer at the loss of even one teacher.

Yes, some PTAs have powerful means to raise money.

That said, GHS plows it back into the school and supports for students. Truly.

Marissa Blogger said...

There are so many parts of these story that is not included

The district pulls the funds from student enrollment
Each school Building Leadership team decides by vote what subject area is to be cut
Then they look for a volunteer teacher or teacher with least seniority, it is all in the CBA collective bargain agreement

THe Garfield leadership team is below:
http://garfieldhs.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=&pageid=304285

Garfield BLT chose latin subject area, that will impact a lot of students (because there is only one teacher), guess it was the easiest to chose, 1 teacher....

and Sue Peters-Seattle Schools Board Director- child is in that Latin class.
Ask her directly if you want

The PTA letter leave all these details aside....claiming it is a core teacher chosen by the district......
If the district revoke their decision to pull a teacher, this will be so unfair for all schools that had to pull a teacher
It will be so unfair to only keep the teacher of a board member child

I guess we could pull a teacher from any school in the South area as usual....
the community won't be able to organize, mobilize, tweet, email, complain, seek media, and walk out of school....parents don't know English, they don;t know their rights, they don;t have time, they have multiple jobs, no time to do this.....that sounds like a great idea....

Anonymous said...

There are so many parts of these story that is not included

The district pulls the funds from student enrollment
Each school Building Leadership team decides by vote what subject area is to be cut
Then they look for a volunteer teacher or teacher with least seniority, it is all in the CBA collective bargain agreement

THe Garfield leadership team is below:
http://garfieldhs.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=&pageid=304285

Garfield BLT chose latin subject area, that will impact a lot of students (because there is only one teacher), guess it was the easiest to chose, 1 teacher....

and Sue Peters-Seattle Schools Board Director- child is in that Latin class.
Ask her directly if you want

The PTA letter leave all these details aside....claiming it is a core teacher chosen by the district......
If the district revoke their decision to pull a teacher, this will be so unfair for all schools that had to pull a teacher
It will be so unfair to only keep the teacher of a board member child

I guess we could pull a teacher from any school in the South area as usual....
the community won't be able to organize, mobilize, tweet, email, complain, seek media, and walk out of school....parents don't know english, they don;t know their rights, they don;t have time, they have multiple jobs, no time to do this.....that sounds like a great idea....

GHS parent said...

@Marissa Blogger - How do you have this information that the GHS team chose the Latin teacher? That teacher has been at GHS for at least 5 years and is one of the most beloved, respected, charismatic teachers in the building. I know there are at least some language teachers (French, SPanish) who have not been there for 5 years. I would really like to know how you obtained this information, as far as we know, no teacher has yet been selected to be transferred.
- GHS parent

Anonymous said...

Re Marissa Blogger comments, please take them with a huge grain of salt. I can tell you quite emphatically that Sue Peter's child is NOT in a Latin class of any sort. How do I know this? I'm the other parent. This poster does a great disservice by spreading misinformation or hearsay. Sue has the best interests of (all) students front and center in her thinking and actions. And for those who have asked for Directors to give up their big salaries to fill the funding gap...please understand that Directors are effectively volunteers. They receive a tiny stipend that arguably doesn't even cover out of pocket expenses.
-- SP Lesser Half (and champion)

Lynn said...

If a world languages teacher is transferred out, it will have to be the one with the least years of teaching experience. That's not the Latin teacher.

Anonymous said...

The Garfield rally might have been amazing but Peters with the bullhorn was not. No matter that her kid is there. Electeds don't make their kids their rally point.

Was Peters out with a bullhorn for Gatewood? Is she gathering petitions for Madison or BF Day or Hazel Wolf or Stevens or any other school threatened with staff downsizing?

As the Super's boss she's now put him in an awkward place. Who wants to work for someone who undermines you with front page photos?

Peters is an elected. Her activist role was what got her to office not what her office role is. Her choice to mix it up with a bullhorn yesterday was a big mistake.

Voting parent

Anonymous said...

Voting parent

It is always a breath of fresh air to see ANYONE from HQ present at community events on matters of importance. Serious, do you think she was chanting "Hell no, teacher won't go!" or something like that? Would it have been different if it was Nyland. That would have been nice too. A bullhorn is used so that people can hear. Geez.

voting parent2

Anonymous said...

Voting parent, the time for political consideration of central administration personnel is long past.

-TheyDontCare

Anonymous said...

Voting Parent,

You are being insightful and correct.

Peters has great strengths, but has demonstrated on this blog that she becomes woefully inconsistent in principles when her children are involved. She talks equity but tried to ream me a new one when I stated that APP kids shouldn't be in for life without any type of testing (like students with IEPs are routinely mandated to do).

I'm glad she was elected, but she has some growning up to do.

--enough already (all lowercase, although I'm in sympatico with Enough Already who has also contributed recently)

Anonymous said...

I'm groaning, but she needs to "grow" up.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Peters on the bullhorn will be passed around as Exhibit A that the district is governed by whack jobs. Way to bring mayoral control one step closer Peters.

Showing up at your own kids school during a staff walkout? Looked bad. Singling out a cause benefiting your kid when the rest of our kids suffer staff cuts and unfunded programs? Smells worse.

North of 85th

Melissa Westbrook said...

Marrisa is right; the district says it is NOT a core class that will be affected.

But, to note, it was not the "community" that organized this. It was the kids.

Director Peters spoke as a director, not a parent. I was right there. She has said she thinks the district should use the rainy day fund to save all the teachers. Sorry that message didn't get out but don't think the worst of people right out the gate.

Peters didn't undermine the Superintendent. She went to him with a concern and gave her input. She then went to the school that was having a rally and supported that stand.

I have no understanding of this "growing up" talk.

Anonymous said...

I have a daughter who's been going to Seattle public schools for 9 years and have been actively involved in the PTAs and school communities of all of her schools. I've never heard of the district pulling teachers from schools 2 months into the school year like this. Have I just not heard of this or is this a new tactic?

Also, I am glad that the Garfield PTSA decided not to raise the money for a new teacher. They called bullish*t on this tactic--which is basically the same as those of kidnappers. I realize that the school district is in financial trouble, but pushing the actual salaries of teachers directly onto the parents is not right. PTSAs have been fighting an uphill battle for years in terms of raising money to get basic stuff covered. Garfield finally said: "no, we will not do this anymore." Good for them

Roosevelt mom in support of Garfield (and all of the schools losing teachers)

Garfield Alum Mom said...

a few things to add to the mix

we are hearing that the late challenge to the garfield count is because the district has decided to deduct running start students from the official school counts. this is a change of rules for the 2014-15 year and was not shared with school principals/registrars until well AFTER fte cuts were announced.

there were several students languishing on the garfield waitlist who could have been added to the rolls had the district been straightforward about how the official school counts were going to be modified. the waitlist has now been suspended for the year.

every school who has "too many" or "too few" teachers on october 24th of a 180 day school year has the right to be outraged by the districts lack of management of this FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE.

the protest was amazing. we are a democracy and the students chose to exercise their american right to protest - to stand for their educators and in defense of their rights to a dependable education. a valuable lesson for all americans.

Anonymous said...

The district has been "pulling this for years." It is getting attention via the Gatewood rallying.

Only showing up at your child's school looks like the world starts and ends in your own backyard, Melissa. "Growing up" means having the maturity look beyond one's own interests.

Reread Voting Parent's post if you are still confused.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Also, don't forget that Jesse Hagopian is a teacher a Garfield, as are the others who organized the MAP protest. Obviously, their civil disobedience,and daily example as teachers, have had a huge impact on their students.

Let's give credit where credit is due.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Did Peters wave signs with Gatewood parents forking over pennies and baking cookies to keep a teacher desperately needed by the general education and sped students at school?

No she did not.

West Seattle

Bulldog Alum Mom said...

high profile events raise the pressure on seattle public schools administration and this benefits ALL of the schools.

when we stand against inept leadership we say to them "we SEE you".

when we stand against inept leadership we say to the rest of the community "stand with us in support of your school"

Po3 said...

There are two levels of Running Start - full time and dual enrolled.

Full time RS students must "associate" w/ a HS school but do not take any classes in the school so they should not be included in the in the headcount. However if a student goes from full time HS to full time RS, their seat is open for a transfer student (11th and 12th grade only) and should be filled.

Dual enrolled students take both RS classes and HS classes and should be included in the headcount, because the HS is seating them, for at least part of the day. So maybe dual enrolled only get counted as a .5 or .75 student, but they do need to be accounted for when determining staffing needs.

The district needs to clarify how they count RS students.

Po3 said...

Also ALL high schools have Running Start students. Seems odd that GHS was the only school impacted by this new calculation.

Anonymous said...

This is administrative crazy cakes. I hope Garfield keeps its staff member. I hope Denny and Madison and BF Day and Stevens and Hazel Wolf keep their staff members........Do I have them all? I also hope Gatewood gets its ransom money back. One school paying for staff and others not isn't good management and it isn't fair.

Downtown shouldn't be cutting these teachers the week before Halloween and it shouldn't be demanding money.

Aghast

Anonymous said...

Electing Sue Peters was a mistake.

I can tell you she is NOT looking out for the interest of all students. She looked a group of parents in the eyes and lied.

President Peasly had to correct her and Peters went into a stuttering fit trying to explain her lie.

Peter's gone

Anonymous said...

Why are you bickering over the presence of Sue Peters? And why is it "entitlement" when Garfield parents are showing up for a Garfield issue? Are people really saying that every public school parent who fights the good fight for their school is acting like a special snowflake if they don't fight the fight at every other school? As a voting parent, and involved parent, and a working parent, I feel like I am at the limits of what I can do to help my school and by extension, my school district.

Roosevelt mom in support of Garfield

Melissa Westbrook said...

It would seem that some of the comments are not about this subject but about Sue Peters and how some regret her election.

You can have that opinion but not hijack this thread.

FYI, it's Peaslee.

Lynn said...

Roosevelt mom - that is exactly what they are saying. If you volunteer your time at your child's school or donate money to your school's PTSA it is an act of selfishness because there are children in other schools who don't receive equivalent benefits. Never mind that the money raised by Garfield's PTSA is spent on tutoring programs for students whose reading skills are below grade level. Never mind that volunteering to chaperone an elementary school field trip provides an educational opportunity for some children that their parents can't provide outside of school.

Jesse Hagopian spoke at the Garfield protest yesterday. I didn't see him at Gatewood's bake sale or rallying students at Denny and Madison Middle Schools. How selfish of him.

As for Sue Peters, who do you think would do a better job? Where is Blanford? What has he had to say about Garfield's staffing and Beacon Hill's test scores? Has he even noticed what is going on?

Anonymous said...

Wait, what? There's Sue Peters and Sharon Peaslee. Sue Peters attended the Garfield rally, yes? Where does Sharon Peaslee come into this discussion?

Confused Roosevelt mom in support of Garfield

Gads said...


"I can tell you she is NOT looking out for the interest of all students."

Give me a break. Blanford is out of town and Director Peters showed-up to listen to parent, teacher and administrative concerns. She is a volunteer and one should be grateful that she used her time to listen to students/ teachers.

Director Peters has been a long time supporter of teachers and to say otherwise...is a lie.

I'm confident Director Peters will go on to advocate for continued teacher supports...at all schools.

Gads said...

I will also add..if a board member did not show-up there would be nasty comments hurled at these individuals, too.

Get a life.

Po3 said...

There is an Friday open thread - please move the Peters debate there - so the staffing issues facing our students is not lost here!

kellie said...

There are two things that are really missing in this conversations.

1) On the enrollment data page, the district had reported 100% of the budget add and drops for the 2012 school year. That transparency was very helpful to these conversations as it showed the whole picture. For 2013, this was not published and the reason stated was the system change. It has not been published for 2014.

2) High School is very different from elementary. Both the complexity of the master school and the higher stakes of high school education, are very different from the homeroom based elementary model. While it is NEVER a good plan to pull teachers in October, pulling teachers at high school is truly terrible plan.

In the 2012 data, the adds and pulls stopped on October 10th. October 10th is still a pretty rough change but understandable based on an October 1st funding date from the State. Oct 24th is just too late to be playing with the master schedule.

Also notable in 2012, the largest pull at high school was .5. It is my guess that this 1.0 pull at high school is potentially unprecedented.

Anonymous said...

Remember when Charlie -sort of- ran for the Board? The big question was how could an activist be a good board member. His answer was that he was astute enough to know different jobs require different hats - different actions.

Peters needs to put on her board hat. And boots. Because she stepped in 'it' deep by getting on the bullhorn. Too bad it is taking the focus off the students and teachers. That's where the focus belongs.

Garfield teachers and PTA and especially students had every right and reason to protest yesterday. They were effective.

Peters didn't show leadership with hre bullhorn. It came off as favoritism toward her kid and worse as someone who doesn't know how to interact with her fellow board members and her direct employees the Superintendent.

The protest alone would have been great and probably effective. Now we'll have all kinds of questions if staff grants Garfield's request but not other schools. Peaslee and Carr and Patu and McLaren's and Martin-Morris and Blandford's constituents are going to want why their schools aren't in on the deal. The Superintendent is going to wonder why if Peters had already made her point to him she had to go throw down a publicity bomb.

This was not a way to establish trust with staff or board. Her motives may have been pure but her actions are problematic in multiple ways.

Veteran

Anonymous said...

Kellie I must disagree that pulling staff from high school is more problematic than grade school. At least in high school grades are taught by subject and period, not majority by grade level. Kids from mixed grades are the norm and provides some creative ways to supply a substantial class offering even if staffing and/or enrollment holes appear.

In grade school pulling a teacher often means having to reshuffle kids into a split grade class. After 2 months of building a teacher and peer relationship. There simply isn't much room to maneuver otherwise. Or you end up taking a reading and math specialist and putting them into a class to teach when they have no background with curriculum at that level and no preparation for the year ahead. At the same time you lose instruction supports for kids most at risk of falling behind. Or the special education students take it on the chin.

Losing grade school teachers in late October is every bit as disastrous as Garfield or other high school losing a teacher in this time period.

Veteran

Melissa Westbrook said...

"..act of selfishness because there are children in other schools who don't receive equivalent benefits."

Seriously? You would fault parents for helping their child's school?

We've had the discussion here - maybe you missed it - about co-mingling PTA funds after they hit a certain level. Roundly beaten down.

Thank you Kellie for injecting some real info here.

FYI, Blanford's constituents ARE Garfield parents. That's his region.

Veteran, you seem to have a beef with Peters but that is NOT the subject here. I delete any other comments about ANY board member on this thread. Not because you can't criticize but this is not the thread for it.

Lynn said...

Melissa - you misunderstood me. I was replying to Roosevelt mom who asked "Are people really saying that every public school parent who fights the good fight for their school is acting like a special snowflake if they don't fight the fight at every other school?" I was confirming for her that yes - that's really what some commenters are saying. I don't agree with it.

Lynn said...

Veteran,

What elementary schools have reading and math specialists that can be pulled in to act as a classroom teacher?

Lori said...

Don't the issues around the master schedule affect the middle schools the same way? I think Denny and Madison are both slated to lose an FTE, but I haven't seen anything yet about how that plays out at the student level.

Won't about 150 middle school students also be losing a class at each of those schools? Or are middle schools somehow better equipped to re-arrange their master schedules and get those students into another section?

Anonymous said...

While it may be difficult and upsetting for an elementary aged child to switch teachers in October, it will be disastrous to a high school student's college plans and even ability to graduate on time if they have to drop a class mid way through the first semester. There is not room in other sections to accommodate 30 students per period, and they will not be able to take the second semester of that course. 150 students will lose a year of a class.

If they are talking about eliminating a world language teacher, which is technically an elective in SPS high school and not required for graduation, they are targeting the college bound kids. While world language is not required to graduate from SPS, it is absolutely required at most 4 year colleges, 3 or ideally 4 years of a language.

These are the kids and parents who are going to rally and protest. Their voices speak for all the schools that are experiencing the threat of losing a teacher. Go Bulldogs!

Purple and White

Anonymous said...

Melissa, respectfully, there is no beef with Peters in particular. I would have said this about any board member showing up at that rally, even Blanford and that is 'his school', right?

It is not about the board member. It is about the board. I have no disagreement with Peters idea of using the rainy day fund. I support all schools getting their late cut staff back. We are not in a fiscal emergency people. But beyond this latest fire we have to have a district that runs more smoothly from downtown and that is not going to happen if the superintendent and board don't have a working relationship and it is not going to happen if the actions of one board member, any board member, creates too much heat for everyone else.

You might remember Mary Bass? She had a lot of good ideas but she burned her effectiveness and in my opinion messed up the ability of the board to solve problems because she became the activist loner. We need strong opinions and good ideas - Peters - but married with enough diplomacy to move the whole system forward in actuality and in perception. Part of being a board member is doing that work as a body of seven.

It seems to me that Kay Smith-Blum was pretty good at this dance once she got some fellow thinkers on the board. She seemed to make things happen according to her wishes but without giving opportunity for people to undermine her with 'favoritism' or 'crazy activist'critiques. She only 'stepped in it' a couple times that I remember.

I hope this offers clarification?

Veteran

Anonymous said...

@ Lynn: It is common practice for BLTs to choose to use some of their paltry discretionary funding toward a math-focused or reading-focused building support. These are generally certificated teachers.

I don't think calling out individual schools on this thread would be helpful, so I won't. We don't need to foster any feeling of haves/have nots on this thread when the state and this district so often puts all schools in this town into the have not category.

Veteran -who wishes Friday was not being consumed by agonizing on the poor administration of this district.

Anonymous said...

Did Peters wave signs with Gatewood parents forking over pennies and baking cookies to keep a teacher desperately needed by the general education and sped students at school?

No she did not.


@West Seattle: Was Peters asked to attend and speak at the Gatewood rally by the students who organized it, as she was by the Garfield students?

@Veteran: What did Peters say with that bullhorn? Please tell me what she said. Anything.

Or is anyone who holds a bullhorn a rabble-rousing, no-good hippie in your mind? Sure sounds like it.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Quickly @Veteran! Hurry now! Scan those news videos for some controversial verbiage! Gotta have a comeback! Wouldn't want to give the impression that you judged everything from a simple photograph, right? Hurry! The clock is ticking....

WSDWG

Charlie Mas said...

As a Board member, Director Peters has a duty to comply with the Board Code of Conduct.

The Code says:

"4. Refrain from publicly impugning the integrity or credibility of fellow School Board Directors, the Superintendent, or staff."

and this: "11. Strive for a positive working relationship with the Superintendent and staff, respecting the superintendent's
authority to advise the Board, implement Board policy, and administer the district.
"

and this:"12. Refer complaints, requests, and concems to the Superintendent or appropriate staff members."

Did she violate the Code? People will have differing views.

Patrick said...

Superintendent and staff seem to do a pretty good job of impugning their own credibility.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Veteran, thank you for those thoughts. And I tell every single person contemplating running for the Board that it's a team sport.

I guess my question is - did Peters act on her own? Maybe in going to the rally but in talking to Nyland to ask for clarification? Probably not. Asking to use the rainy day fund? Not sure. I'll ask.

"..activist loner." Mary Bass was a loner who could never quite get her ideas into action nor convince other Board members. However she was the ONLY person to see the problem in the district's budgets under Olchefske and was pooh-poohed by the rest of her Board when she would not vote yes to the budgets.

She was the only one to see that something was terribly wrong and it was wrong to the tune of $32M and got Olchefske exited. Sometimes, as I myself have found, you have to be the cheese who stands alone.

Anonymous said...

Two hours ago I asked what Peters said at the rally. Crickets...crickets...

So is this blog now fed entirely by innuendo, or just mostly?

Apparently what haters hate the most are facts.

WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

Your doppelganger confused me there for a moment enough already.

Onward said...

I believe this blog is a community service and is import place to share information, thoughts, etc.

However, on this string, there appears to be a few trolls.

Anyone that thinks Director Peters was acting for self serving manner is wrong. Being a director, requires an enormous amount of time, community meetings etc. This, takes time and attention away from director's children.

Director Peters is nothing less than a rock star. She was one of two directors that are in town this week and I appreciate the support she has given to the community.

Several years ago, there were staffing miscalculations at Garfield. As a result, hundreds of kids sat in the cafeteria for months trying to get a schedule. At that time, the highly respect student/ teacher/ principal advocate- Director Smith-Blum- spent a lot of time at Garfield on behalf of student interest.

My hat goes off to both Director Peters and former board member- Kay Smith -Blum.

My advice: Don't feed the trolls!

Have a great day.

Onward said...

"So is this blog now fed entirely by innuendo, or just mostly? "

Director Peters was at Garfield as a gesture of support and she was asked to speak. I hope someone posts her statements.

Yes, WSDWG, it appears some are making innuendos that don't make any sense. These individuals only serve to discredit - themselves.

Outa Here said...

I'm becoming increasingly concerned about Charlie's comments, here. It appears Charlie is more interested in whipping up a frenzie than providing the facts.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Director Peters statement (and I was right there when she gave it and this is what she said):

I am here today as both a School Board Director and fellow Garfield parent.

I share your concerns and frustration over the proposed staff reduction.

Garfield is one of six schools that have been told they need to reduce their staff, based on enrollment.

Eight schools will be allocated an increase in staffing.

I asked Superintendent Nyland to review the calculations that led to this determination.

I am pleased to share that he sent a letter to the community this afternoon announcing that the matter is being reviewed.

I have also asked if the district can use reserve funds to prevent any of the proposed cuts to any of the affected schools.

For, I believe the district should do everything it can to protect our students from bearing the negative impact of budget shortfalls.

Indeed, I believe that protecting our students and classrooms from such cuts is a fundamental responsibility of the district.

Thank you."

She was also invite to come AND speak by the student organizers.

She told the Superintendent she would be there and offered to convey the basics of his letter.

Blanford was out of town (and like, Martin-Morris, seems to be gone a lot).

Melissa Westbrook said...

Outta Here, there's the door. There is nothing about his comment here that is "whipping up a frenzie (sic)."

kellie said...

@ Veteran,

As I said, it is NEVER a good plan to pull teachers at the end of October. However, because of the complexity of a high school master schedule, pulling teachers in high school is very different than elementary.

The home room based set up of elementary schools make elementary schools simpler to execute, which is why SPS was able to create brand new elementary schools with significantly less than a school year to start. However, it took over 18 months to get a middle school underway.

Moreover, split grades are a grade school reality. Kids do not come in neat little packages. If SPS were to take a stand that split grades are no longer OK, then the WSS would have to be changed significantly. I would support that idea but at the moment, there are elementary schools all over the district with split grades.

That said, there is a huge difference between starting a split class in September and frankensteining split classes at the end of October.

Po3 said...

Thank you Melissa for posting Director Peters comments - they were appropriate and do not appear to be in any violation of this that or the next thing.

I am optimistic that ALL staffing reductions will be reversed next week and reserve funds will be used to cover the shortfall.

I am hopeful that Dr. Nyland will also review the current hiring proposals and freeze a few positions.

kellie said...

@ Lori,

Yes, there is a big difference between losing a teacher at middle school and one at high school. The high school master schedule is vastly more complex.

The complexity of a middle school is 4 core classes multiplied by a handful of electives (band, pe, language, etc). At most middle schools, the electives represent less than half of the course. However, at high school, the depth and complexity of both core subjects and electives multiply exponentially. Additionally, the stakes are higher.

Losing access to a middle school course, simply puts you in a non-optimal class in high school, however, you will still be fully high school ready. Losing access to a class in high school, can cause a student to lose a full pathway in that course, college access as well as just put the student in an oddball place vis-a-vis the master schedule for the remaining high school years.

And as Veteran noted, it is always the most fragile that wind up taking the brunt of it. If my student winds up losing a pathway somehow, I will know how to make certain she is back on track. One of her high school classes is sub-optimal this year and we already have a plan in place to supplement so that she is back on track for next year. That is not the case for everyone.

Also, in looking at the 2012 drop/adds for staffing, there were examples of both drops and adds for almost every middle school, with 2 drops and 5 adds. You always hear principals say it is so much better to add than take away and they all seem to have experience with both versions of this.

kellie said...

@ Veteran,

I also think you are completely off base about restoring Garfield vs restoring all of the cuts.

From the very limited amount of enrollment information that has been released, with the exception of Garfield, all of the other schools were below their budgeted enrollment numbers. Interestingly, Gatewood also lost a teacher during the Oct 10th round in 2012. So the elementary and middle schools most likely had some clue that they were under their budgeted enrollment and that these cuts were a strong probability. Very likely once folks made it past the Oct 10th date, they might have thought they were in the clear.

Garfield is both over it budgeted enrollment and well over its building capacity. An interesting point to remember is that during the rebuild, Garfield was built for 1400. With some post construction modification, they squeezed out space for more students but at the 1688, the school is very very full.

Once again, it would have been so much better for the district to have simply released the same public information to the public that they release to OSPI and the board. But alas, we are mostly left with partial information and conjecture, until the public information requests are filled at much great time and expense.

The conjecture seems to be that there is an ex-post-facto new analysis, that identified an "opportunity" to save a headcount at Garfield. This is very different from a transparent and known gap between a schools budgeted enrollment and their actual enrollment.

kellie said...

One final note here for the real geeks that follow this subject.

By and large, district enrollment projections are very accurate and staff deserves a tremendous amount of credit for how close they get. Out of the nearly 100 schools, there is only a small number of schools with these drastic staffing adjustments.

However, as I have been saying for years now, the gaps are very predictable. The methodology that the district uses to project enrollment is based on a 5 year average. This method works very well for the vast majority of schools. However, this method completely and totally does NOT work, when there is a trend or deflected demand or a policy change.

During the first 2 years of a trend, this method under-predicts enrollment. This is why the numbers for high school were so low and why the high school projections have increased so much from the BEX plan.

During the 5th year or more of trend, this method over-predicts. This is why elementary enrollment has been over-predicted for three years now. Once the trend is fully loaded into the average, the method has a predictable error rate and a industry way to calibrate it.

The staffing question at Garfield is very high stakes with regard to the capacity issues that are quickly looming for high school. High School enrollment increased this year by over 450 students. That is an entire large elementary school.

By my count, the vast majority of the high schools should have had staff added as part of the budget adjustment. Indeed they might have, but because of the lack of transparency, there is only conjecture. My guess is that Ingraham, Nathan Hale and Roosevelt enrollment was significantly higher than the budget but that they are not getting additional staffing in light of the $3M shortfall. Not getting a staff member added that would have been warranted under the original budget model is a "soft cut." So it is possible that the Running Start math applied to enrollment that caused Garfield to lose a headcount, also caused other high schools to lose a staff addition that they would have been entitled to have added under the budget formula.

The WSS for high school is going to need to be examined in light of the fact that several high schools now have enrollment that is larger than the top rug of the WSS. When the WSS was designed, there was an expectation that NO high school would ever be larger than 1600.

Irresponsible Charlie said...

Melissa,

Thank you for posting Director Peter's comments. Clearly, she was working with the Dr. Nyland and providing support to the staff and students at Garfield.

Charlie owes Director Peter's a public apology and I am challenging him to do so.

With blogging comes responsibility and I'm finding Charlie to be more interested in creating a frenzie that actual conveying of the facts.

Irresponsible Charlie said...

I just read an e-mail from Dr. Nyland. He is quite busy making sure the students in our schools are safe and I'm confident Director Peters shares Dr. Nyland's concerns.

Dr. Nyland's letter also offered suggestions regarding the manner in which to speak to children about gun violence in our schools.

While Charlie is busy whipping-up a frenzie about Director Peter's presence at Garfield, there are serious issues real work to be done.

I am really disappointed in Charlie and I'm finding his rants to be a distraction.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie said nothing against Peters; he pointed out the Board policy. He had ONE comment this entire thread.

And again"frenzie?"

Again, no one has to read everything. We have no rule on that.

Irresponsible Charlie said...

One comment, all speculation and NO facts from Charlie.

We are all entitled to our opinions and I have mine. Charlie needs to be more factual.

Melissa Westbrook said...

IC, you have made your point. More than once. Move on.

cmj said...

According to US News & World Report, Garfield had 1723 students for the 2011-2012 academic year.

That's far higher than the 1400 that Kellie said that it was rebuilt for.

Also, according to Kay Smith-Blum (quoted in 2010, after the renovation), the school was built for 1600.

kellie said...

Garfield was designed under the BEX remodel plan for 1400. However, when Garfield was flooded with students under the NSAP, they modified the building to add as many classroom spaces as possible. As such all the flex spaces and open spaces were taken so that it could be pushed up to 1600.

The reason why this is important is because it means that the building has already been optimized to squeeze an extra 15-20% capacity. It also means that common areas were designed for a smaller number.

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cmj said...

@kellie,

Thanks for the clarification on capacity at Garfield.