Saturday, October 04, 2014

"Bake Sale to Buy Teacher" says the link on the West Seattle Blog

"Bake Sale to Buy Teacher" is a link to one of the top stories on the West Seattle Blog today.

The last I heard, private fundraising for FTE positions was not permitted in Seattle Public Schools, for good reasons. Can you imagine what the student-teacher ratio would be at schools with high-income parents compared to schools without those family resources? If that has truly changed, our district is in serious trouble.

I completely understand how upset the parents at Gatewood Elementary must be, and I certainly agree with concerns about how Seattle Public Schools handles enrollment estimates and staffing, but raising money to "buy a teacher" is not the solution.

If this story is completely true and not just a misunderstanding of district bureaucrat-speak, there will be PTAs all over Seattle starting their own fundraising campaigns next week. 

I imagine seeing emails like this: "Buy a teacher, decrease our student-teacher ratio, increase your student's chance of getting into a good college, all for a donation of only $X this year. Sign up now and you can be on a recurring donation plan so we can keep the teacher next year, too!"

Somebody in the district, please post here and tell us that the parents at Gatewood are confused and it's not possible for private money to buy FTE spots. Please. 


44 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Beth, it is indeed possible to buy a teacher. Last I checked, PTAs across the district support about 23 FTE. (I posted this at the West Seattle blog.)

I myself am against this practice mostly because of the sheer enormity of the burden on parents to raise this money year after year. Because yes, you will have to raise the money because the district is not going to fund that person if they don't have to.

A couple of dual-language schools raise money for IAs in the classroom. I know that some schools support art teachers.

But some principals, like Martin Floe at Ingraham, don't allow it because he know the burden it would be to parents and the worry he would have if the money wasn't raised and he would have to either figure out how to keep that person or let him/her go.

But yes, it's about better off PTAs being able to do this. BUT there are no schools filled entirely with wealthy parents in this district and so this kind of effort is a burden to all at a school.

I did urge parents NOT to do this because you are promising something that future parents may not want to fund.

We should also talk about - at some point - what WE think McCleary dollars should fund. The district, in its collective wisdom, seems to have some very different ideas about what is important to fund (see all the time and resources around pre-k).

Anonymous said...

This is what Nick Hanauer tried to do one year and was rebuffed by his district because it wouldn't be fair to other schools in the same boat who didn't have the rich population his kid's school had. And now he pushes charters, where he would be allowed to do that.
Though I support Gatewood's effort in spirit, it should not be allowed. That said, the district should look closely at keeping the smaller 1st grade class sizes wherever possible. The super-sized classrooms at 3rd on up are bad enough, but super-sized K-1 classes are the worst both for kids and teachers. Small K-1s with good primary teachers mean the subsequent grades/teachers are much better off.
Additionally, when you have teachers who have worked their tails off getting their rooms ready and the curriculum ready, it is a huge blow to move them around like that. Morale goes down, their workload doubles as they spend the entire rest of the year playing catch-up, and some research shows that teachers moved to a new building are much less effective that first year as they get to know the culture and the community of the building. They lack the support they might have had in a previous building, they don't have the same level of grade level teaming, etc. (I think that was a study by Yong Zhao, but I can't find the reference right now). Plus the new teacher evaluation system will really ding any teacher who moves grade levels, buildings, etc. (A normally proficient or distinguished teacher is going to be rated as basic with changes like that, and I'm sure the Seattle Times would be just as eager to publish teacher eval results as the LA Times is....)

Perhaps a few first grade parents with kids in the super-sized classrooms will see the class size at Gatewood and opt to move their child? All in all, not a fun situation, and a prime example of how numbers/data dictate policy rather than doing what is best for kids and teachers. So wrong.

CT

Anonymous said...

Until all schools must limit fund-raising to retain teachers, Gatewood has every right to try to do the same. More power to them.

To me the real culprits are the administrators who pack classrooms and yet request/require additional asst. principals to help them out in their jobs. Few schools - esp. in the north end - really need asst. principals. There are schools that do and some of those schools may have fewer kids than is required by rule to get an asst. principal. The assignment of an asst. principal to a school should really be based on need and not on numbers. And need can be determined in several ways other than numbers: test scores; poverty level; school culture and behavioral issues; spec. ed.

Also, at my school the ft principal is out of the building a great deal of the time and you never see him after 4:00. We really don't need an asst. principal. We just need our main principal to do his job.

Ann



Anonymous said...

Does anyone else remember this bumper sticker?

"It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

The legislature is in contempt because they aren't funding education.

They have found the political will to arrange a special session for Boeing to get an 8 billion $ tax break, with no assurances that Boeing will keep jobs in Washington state. The legislature literally handed them our kids education fund last year.

Our local unit PTAs are constantly putting out little fires at their schools because they need to. Many PTAs have to raise hundreds of thousands of $'s to simply fund basic education needs, like librarians and books and on and on.

And it IS inequitable, because schools with more volunteer power to raise the $s can fill the gaps and other schools are stuck going without.

If you want to help push our legislators to fund education, please join your PTA and get involved as the legislative chair, or on that committee. They won't act unless we raise our voices and ask them too.

Please contact me if you want to get involved, and please see the newly updated page at:

http://scptsa.org/advocacy/

You can view the legislative chair position description as well as our newly board adopted priorities for this year. Fully funding Education is #1.

I'm at legchair@scptsa.org and I need your help.

Eden

Lori said...

Having gone thru something similiar at Lincoln 2 years ago (removal of a classroom teacher and reduction of a PCP spot to 0.5 FTE that would have been effective November 1 of that year), here's my understanding.

PTAs used to be able to pay for classroom teachers. The example always used in the past was McGilvra, which apparently funded teachers to achieve small class sizes. At some point, that changed district-wide, although PTAs can still fund PCP spots, instrumental music, math specialists etc.

The exception they allow now is in this exact situation when they want to pull staff due to October enrollment numbers. Then they will allow the PTA to pay the ransom, oops, salary for one year. In theory, the PTA isn't on the hook for multiple years because the next year's WSS will determine allocations.

For the Gatewood families, just FYI, Lincoln only had to submit the Letter of Intent by the deadline, not the actual money. And there was much confusion about what the cost should be, whether it was the salary of the least senior teacher who was being moved (and therefore relatively low) or whether it was the "average" cost for a classroom teacher. That difference could be tens of thousands of dollars.

The $90K Gatewood is trying to raise sounds very high for a single FTE. Lincoln was asked to pay around $110K for 1.5 FTE two years ago. Have salaries really gone up that much since then? I would really push back on that fee, particularly given the short time frame you have.

Lastly, people should keep in mind that teachers aren't widgets. There are comment on WS Blog that the kids will be fine, they're resilient, etc. That may very well be true. But what about teacher, who interviewed for a spot at Gatewood? I assume she wants to be at Gatewood, working for the team that hired her. When we start acting like teachers are all interchangeable, we forget about the craft and art and human element that goes into it. I fully support what Gatewood is doing by trying to hold on to their teacher.

Reality Please said...

For every school, including GW, that has experienced the trials and tribulations of adding portables to accommodate expanding populations and rallied for reopening schools, building larger schools, and opening new school programs, you must not forget that bringing your school down to a size that is reasonable for your physical building (without portables) is going to involve losing teachers.

You can't complain about overcrowding but then yell when the efforts of the district (in this case, the reopening of Fairmount Park which shares the old boundaries of Gatewood) actually bring about a reduction in the overall student body. Isn't bringing every school more in line with its sustainable population limits without portables a goal that everyone can basically agree on?

As the overcrowding in WS and elsewhere is mitigated, there will be lots of shifting of teachers from overcrowded schools to the new/rebuilt ones. This is as it should be.

Perhaps it is the teacher contract stipulation that the teacher with the least seniority is the one who gets moved that is the problem. Was the option to move opened up to the whole staff at GW before this teacher was given their transfer papers? Perhaps there was a teacher that would have been happy for the change. Perhaps not. I just wonder if there would have been as much uproar if the teacher was not one so universally admired.

Again, as overcrowded schools begin to feel the completely intentional relief of reduced student numbers, people need to understand that fewer students means fewer classrooms and, therefore, fewer teachers. Yes, this happening in early October sucks but it should be no surprise to anyone who has ever paid attention. Sure, maybe it is a good idea to move up the timeline for enrollment/choice seats/etc. but the solution GW is proposing is out of proportion to the situation.

Smaller schools mean fewer teachers. Wanna get rid of those portables? Then you need to become more flexible.

Beth Bakeman said...

Leaving aside for the moment the question of income inequity and the effect it is already having on Seattle Public Schools, I'm still confused/concerned about what's going on here.

PTA support of FTEs to enhance school offerings (like art and IAs that you mention) is different than asking a group of parents who are outside of the PTSA to fork over $90K so that their school can have more core teachers, and therefore smaller class sizes, than the current enrollment / class size rules / school budget supports.

The PTA funding process happens during the school budget process, in a sanctioned, structured way. This is like the district asking for ransom. Are they asking for the money in unmarked bills in a brown paper bag? That would make more sense to me as a story of personal greed and corruption. But making staffing decisions based on whether parents can quickly raise some money...that's completely absurd...beyond the level of absurdity I'm used to from Seattle Public Schools.

BTW, when you get a chance Melissa, I'd love to have more details about the PTSA FTE funding...which schools, which roles, etc.

StringCheese said...

I know that our PTA has been told by SCPTSA and WAPTSA that it greatly discourages the use of PTA funds for buying FTEs. Not only does it conjure up the issues initially raised by Beth, but it is not fiscally sound in the long run. A work-around is that PTAs can instead focus on purchasing/supporting other parts of the school budget in order to free up the funds the school needs to supplement the FTEs it is assigned. It still reeks of PTA funding privilege but helps keep staff funding where it belongs. Six of one, half-dozen...?

I also thought the the district had officially put the kibosh on this practice. Lori's comments were enlightening. Is this written down anywhere on the SPS site? I'm guessing this is "unofficial" policy...

Lori said...

Here's a key quote from the District spokesperson from the WS blog, "Overall, we are waiting for the official 10/1 counts that will be reported on 10/12 to recommend more staffing adjustments. At the same time we are using the current student count to identify the hot spots adjustments and deploy/execute earlier."

So other schools that currently have several classrooms deemed "too small" should be prepared for the October 12th decisions. We may not be done seeing classrooms being collapsed to save money.

And, recalling the Lincoln situation too. The school doesn't have to be underenrolled for this to happen. Lincoln was not underenrolled that year, according to the WSS allocations. It's just that as a big school with several classes per grade level, there was room to collapse and take third grade classes of 22-23 and turn them into classes of 27-28 (and create a 2/3 split 2 months into the year - logistically very challenging!). The district preferred to pay the remaining teachers the overload money versus just maintaining the status quo. That is level of penny pinching happening district wide these days.

dan dempsey said...

Think about McCleary school funding decision by Supreme Court.

The constitutional rights of students are being violated because the State has refused to fulfill its constitutional duty.

Fund raising for FTEs seems like a response to the ongoing nonsense from the legislature.

WA State has been among the states with the worst Teacher: Student ratio for decades.

If the legislature is actually going to fulfill its responsibility ... then Future Parents will not be on the hook to continue funding for adequate staff for schools.

It should be noted that the Legislature in ts original declaration of full adequate funding by 2018 (made two years prior to McCreary) never made a step in that direction from the start.

At the original time that the court decided to watch the funding, the plan was two years old and the state had not improved the funding during those initial two years. --- The legislature has yet to do much.

What will those additional McCleary dollars fund?

-- Nothing if they never exist.

Beth Bakeman said...

Lori, Thanks for the additional info and insight you provided. This is why I posted today (after many years hiatus). I know that between Mel and the readers of the blog, I would get more information about what's going on.

For the record, I certainly don't blame Gatewood parents for trying to raise the money. In their shoes, I would do whatever it takes to keep the teacher.

The issue is, if this new policy that Lori describes is in place, there is actually an incentive for the district to poorly estimate enrollment and staffing assignments. Then in October, say "Oops, we were wrong" and get an instant infusion of cash from a parent population willing to pay the ransom.

What if we follow the tips of hostage negotiators, and work to negotiate a solution with the district rather than paying ransom?

Paying ransom just encourages more ransom requests in the future.

kellie said...

Gatewood was projected at 429. Does anyne know their enrollment number?

Anonymous said...

@Kellie

Wouldn't be nice if you could find the Gatewood enrollment number somewhere on the SPS website?

- North-end Mom

Lori said...

West Seattle blog reports enrollment of 405. So that is a fairly big difference from original projection.

Anonymous said...

I just hope they don't have to pick form the unions pool how depressing that would be.

Crooked union

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lori, good thoughts about the effects of this on a teacher. You are right; teachers do interview where they do because that's the school they want to be at.

I will try to get a statement from the district on Monday about the funding of any kind of staff, locations and costs.

I also need to get clarity on why the Data and Reports page seems to be scrubbed of info. Enrollment numbers have to be reported to OSPI so why can't we see them? I perceive something is happening but I'm not sure what.

maureen said...

Beth, I have sympathy for the Gatewood students and teacher but I think it's wrong to think of this money as ransom. If the Gatewood teacher doesn't go to FP then SPS will have to hire someone to fill that spot. They aren't making a profit from what the GW famiies pay.

Anonymous said...

The Gatewood situation is egregious b/c of the vulnerability and/or struggles of many children affected - remove the teacher and dropping the kids into existing classes three weeks before Parent Teacher conferences? No. Stupid. It's stupid for any school, and what makes them think this is okay to do in a school with higher than average FRL? It's not. Another example of lip service.

The Lincoln situation was egregious in a different way - something like 220 kids and 9 teachers were going to be directly impacted. One (of 5) third grade teachers was going to lose a job, with half the kids dropped by 2s and 3s in to the remaining 4 classes (oh great for them - you know, widgets), and then the other put into a second grade that was going to be changed to a 2/3 split. So to do that, of course half the 2d graders were going to be peeled out of THAT class and dropped by 2s and 3s into the 3 other second grades. Nine classes - 5 thirds and 4 seconds - were going to be changed on Nov 1, and every single 2d and 3rd grader - in excess of 200 kids - was going to have a changed situation. But what does that matter? And given that Lincoln has grown every year, and THEY WERE ONLY 2 KIDS UNDER THE NUMBER!, it was obvious they'd have to rehire the next year - but sure, go ahead, disrupt all for one temporary year.

What a nightmare - the district totally held the school ransom to pay it. Luckily with 600 kids at the time, and a huge panic, and massive help from parents at all grades, Lincoln was able to rally and save the teacher and .5 PCP.

At the time some parents argued that it was giving in to ransom demands, however, and a bad precedent and that the PTA should ask the district to cut the asst principal back to .5 and keep the money in the classroom instead. But of course you know where that went.

Because really, the service to the kids? Does that even matter to downtown? It matters to good people downtown, and there are many of them (JW)but it seems like those people must beat their heads against the wall over people that think these things are okay to do to kids.

Signed - tired

Anonymous said...

To Lori re differences in projections:

429 to 405 looks like 24 kids - 1 whole class - but assume that it's not an entire 24 K/1 lost, but rather spread out over all six grades. There's no individual class of only 6 kids.

Probably some kids at higher grades left for the new school or moved too. But because the district divies up FTEs in a very imprecise way, the impact is heaviest on one small group of kids, those who lose a teacher, and the ripple on the kids/teachers where they're shoved into, even though the underprojection is across all grades (usually).

If you lose a couple kids at each grade level, over K - 5 (6 years), it can add up to a whole class worth of kids, even if no particular class is terribly empty. Also remember that the preferred number of students is smaller for the lower elem. grades.

signed- tired

Tracy @ WSB said...

In our original story from Thursday (this has all developed over just the past few days - I started getting deluged by parent notes on Thursday, waited until I could get some district comment before publishing a story Thursday afternoon, then a followup on Friday after the parents announced their fundraising plan, and then coverage of their fundraising today), we quoted from a letter that Gatewood's principal sent to parents, saying in part, "If we want to keep Gatewood’s staffing and class configurations as they are now, the district will allow us to raise the money to pay for a full time certified teaching position. Unfortunately, we must raise the money to fund that 1.0 FTE by October 8th. If it is not possible to raise the money by then, we can continue efforts to raise the money but the reduction in a teacher will occur October 10th and we will have to hire a different teacher when the money is raised."

Anonymous said...

Beth,

I applaud your sense of fairness but am a bit alarmed that you are so naive and late to the party.

Fairness and equity in this district? I was thankful when then stopped allowing PTAs to "buy" teachers (and believe me, I know first-hand when you are the bought teacher, the PTA controls the strings as much as Gates controls his charitable purchases).

Schools across the district buy "extras" after incredibly lucrative auctions. Again, professional lines are blurred because teachers and other staff are partying with the parent donors, who often "buy" the class project for thousands (which can include a day outside of school with with the teacher for the donor's kids and specially chosen friends). Strings attached? Even the most ethical teachers feel the heat to be really, really nice to these people.

Whenever I and others have suggested on this blog that maybe the PTA can pool this largese and share it with other schools--Tilly Bar the Door! People cynically bring up the money that goes to schools with high levels of poverty as an excuse not to share. This little bit of money does not even begin to address the needs of these students and schools.

Thanks for caring, Beth.

--enough already

kellie said...

Thanks Lori for posting that number.

24 kids still a pretty borderline decision for headcount because as tired mentioned, those 24 were spread across all the grades. It seems to me that this is one of those many magic things that Dr. Tracy Libros managed behind the scenes. The number is not large enough that this was part of the August adjustments.

I suspect that this is all because while overall projections were within 1%, the elementary projections were 269 students too high, the middle school was 290 students too high and high school was 311 too low. This is a KNOWN error in the projection methodology. Because they use a five year average, that means that an established trend is OVER estimated and a new trend is UNDER estimated.

I suspect that this is more about trying to pull back some elementary head count than the fact that Gatewood is so dramtatically over-staffed.

kellie said...

@ enough already, the folks that read this blog do it because they care about something more than their own school. Most really care about poverty and that is why they do the fundraising. If you look at the district budgets, it is clear that the fundraising is a tiny fraction of the budget. It is typically big and noticeable but it is still a tiny fraction.

For those of us, who have been at this a long time, we remember Olshelfski's famous mandate that the economically affluent parts of town can and should subsidize everyone else. That is when fundraising became part of the budget for schools. Fundraising is and always has been a self fulfilling prophesy. The more schools raise, the more the budget is shifted away from low poverty schools to high poverty schools. Every parent I know would vastly prefer to NOT do this crazy fundraising but ...

In this case, Gatewood did not start a campaign to pay for a teacher to reduce class sizes. They are simply trying to keep in place what is already there AND what will need to be there AGAIN next year. In my opinion that is the critical part. Next year, Gatewood's numbers will be back up again and need that teacher back. Losing the teacher for ONE year is most destabilizing to the most fragile families.

And as for the the PTA sharing its largess argument, that is how we got the Alliance for Education. The entire premise of the Alliance was to have a body that pooled all the fundraising and shared it. But what tends to happen in ALL scenarios where money gets pooled instead of being local, is that the money gets focused on non-local issues.

kellie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Kellie,

I daresay I've been at it longer than you, but that isn't the point.

The point is, however, that the district is a tale of two cities, and that schools that can and do routinely raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction have their own child's school as the sole beneficiary.

You can blame Olschefsche, the old weighted school formula, Title One funds or state funds to excuse the lack of desire to "share" all you want, but it's not an ethical excuse.

That's why Portland, Oregon and neighboring districts have elected to share the pool.

It's not about "percentage of the total" when we are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars with many strings attached.

I have seen that first hand for many, many years.

--enough already

Gatewood Resident said...

To those raising the equity issue for those schools with PTAs who are not able to fund teachers:

Gatewood is NOT a rich school. It does not have a PTA that is able to raise this money. Gatewood has a higher population of students eligible for FRL than normal, has many english language learners, and has two behavioral disorder/special ed programs. This is not a case of parents using their affluence and privilege to buy a teacher.

That is why they are literally standing on a street corner begging for money. Stop by and see for yourself. If you really are concerned about the poorer schools - then help Gatewood!

Gatewood Resident said...

P.S - I do appreciate the equity issue and agree with the sentiment. I'm just pointing out that this is one of those situations of inequity.

The parents are told to raise an absurd amount of money, while the district knows damn well the parents can't afford it,and a large number of socio-economically diverse students are placed in a foreseeble position of falling behind when this is done this late in the year.

Also, as to comments about the equity of class size, I also agree with that - if this decision had been properly handled before the school year.

The issue is the timing; the first trimester is a total loss for the students effected.

kellie said...

@ Enough already,

And that is why I said, I don't know ANYONE that likes the fundraising. Both the schools that raise it and the ones that don't dislike it intensely.

I didn't say anything about Title 1 money. That money is not a part of the equation in my opinion. That is not money that should be factored in as it just barely puts a dent into poverty.

I blame a system that is structured to depend on this crazy level of fundraising. Before Olshefski, PTA money paid for small things and it was the rare school that raised crazy money. Now it is a new-necessary-norm.

And the equity argument is missing the fact that Gatewood is not a white and wealthy school. With over 40% FRL, significant ELL, over 12% Sped, 2 EBD programs, this school is the picture of the diverse needs. It is also the picture of a school that does not need to have a teacher pulled this year, just so that they can add a teacher next year.



kellie said...

Thank you Gatewood Resident. I went to go look for the school demographics and I was really impressed. Raising that type of money is not easy in a wealthy community and it is an incredible sign of community solidarity.

I was really amazed that all of the staff put up $500 to keep that teacher in place. Teachers already do so much more than their job description and to vote with their paychecks like that says so much about your faculty. I hope you make your goal.

I also agree with Lori that I think the $90,000 amount is too high. They should be charging you for the least senior staff member as that would be the person who would be transferred.

Jet City mom said...

Summit K-12 had a high FRL rate but it also had a coalition of parents and teachers, some who had been at Summit for decades, that worked their asses off to continue to offer arts programs to kids. ( dance/art/music/drama)
They ever raised money to install a black box theatre ( which the Jane Adams community is now benefiting from), and other updates throughout the building.

Anonymous said...

I feel for the families and students affected and think the district should not pull a teacher from Gatewood at this point. I do have a couple of comments on the situation.

Gatewood's FRL percentage was 35% last year compared to the district-wide 40%.

The extra first grade classroom will likely not be needed next year. There are three classrooms each in K, 2,3 and 4 and two in grade 5.

Families at Fairmount have known for weeks that it's likely a new teacher will be assigned and many classrooms (split-grade) will be reconfigured. Why didn't the district give Gatewood's principal advance warning? There was no need for this last-minute panic.

The cost to the district of the least senior teacher at Gatewood last year was about $79.5K. $90K is probably a bit high, but not by much.

If I were this (well-liked) teacher, I'd be open to moving to Fairmount. As enrollment is not growing at Gatewood, the teacher will likely have to find a new job next year and Fairmount seems like a good place to work.

Here's a report on staffing adjustments two years ago. This happens every year and I expect we'll be seeing more next week.

West Seattle

KG said...

Again as I have stated her before but to little acknowledgement, as long as this state treats BOEING AND MICROSOFT WITH a negative tax LIABILITY THEN EDUCATION WILL NEVER GET FUNDED. As long as school board members work for these abusive entities they will not say anything to assist in changing it.

Anonymous said...
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FocusontheKids said...

KG, it's not the school board - it's US. If you want the legislature to fully fund basic - basic - education in this state, which is "the paramount duty" of this state (our Constitution, or listen to our Supreme Court Justices re: McCleary), then closing corporate tax loopholes (registering brands in Nevada, shell subsidiaries in Ireland, et al ad nauseum) is a good place to start. State Corporate Income tax would be another.

But your underlying assumption is that this is about SPS and budget. Yes, SPS is holding GW and FP hostage with a "budget" rationale - but, this should not be their go-to solution to rectify problems resulting from their own mismanagement. The SPS Enrollment/ waitlist process - particularly allowing movement THROUGH THE WHOLE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER - is begging for root cause analysis and reform. This is NOT about not knowing there were going to be flip/flops between a school and an newly opening school 1.2 miles apart. The opening of FP was, in fact, to help alleviate overcrowding in the surrounding WS elementaries. So, the plan communicated to the surrounding elementaries re: stafffing ratios was...what? And, when? Again, the problem is in the timing - the process the SPS spokesperson describes happening DURING September, now the 10/1 counts and waiting until 10/12 before data is available, with more staffing adjustments after that (how much after?!)- NEEDS to happen in August and earlier, BEFORE school starts. I don't think it unreasonable to take away this "option" time for parents to make up their minds - Private Schools in the area require enrollment decisions in February via a sizeable hold-the-spot fee. SPS is certainly not able to implement this commitment incentive, but I'm certain SPS can improve it's process to the point waitlists move earlier, stop allowing waitlist moves before the overcrowded, and parents commit and we all know where students are going to school and teachers need to be, BEFORE school starts - not into mid-October!

parent said...

If I and other parents can afford to pay for teachers, than it should be up to us if we want to do it. Why should our children not get the best possible education that we can provide for them. Of course the state should provide more funds, but until that time I will continue to support our school funding teachers salaries.

SPS is a Joke said...




Washington State is withholding $3 million from the SPS earmarked for special education because the Seattle program is so mismanaged. So last week your Seattle School Board approved a $421,000 contract to an outside firm to come in and tell them how to do their job and fix their broken program. So there's where your tax dollars and teacher salaries are going.

It defies common sense to leave a policy in place that is so flawed as to encourage and facilitate significant enough numbers of kids moving schools to necessitate staffing adjustments. SPS is either unwilling or unable to fix the problem...in either case they are unfit to hold their respective positions.

And we have to have a bake sale to save a teacher a month into the school year. It's shameful and I look forward to voting against the incumbents when the next school board election rolls around.

http://www.kplu.org/post/state-freezes-part-seattles-special-ed-funding-district-takes-step-improve

Anonymous said...

The Lincoln situation was pretty pathetic. The district behaved in an absurd manner and the parents at the school swooped in and raised over $200,000 on a couple of weeks to make it right by these kids. Yes, it was embarrassing that the parents could raise that kind on money so quickly, but life isn't fair. This district drive me crazy.

Been there. Did that.

Anonymous said...

Rich PTA?

Our PTA (not McGilvra) raises more than $300,000 per year. They fund teachers who provide ALO in math and reading, science instruction, art, and music. I believe the part time counselor is also funded. Also, field trips and allowances to staff for their out of pocket expenses or special inservices they want to attend.

Although I don't know what the "District Policy" is, I do know the PTA was not allowed to fund as many FTEs as everyone wanted. There IS some kind of limit put on PTAs ability to fund teacher positions.

We give what we can but don't feel pressured as much as we feel annoyed by the continuous fundraising ventures.

Fundraising Fatigue

Another GW parent said...

For anyone still paying attention, it is starting to look like we are not going to be able to raise the ransom money. The PTA is not funding this. The fund was started by involved parents doing what is best for the students of Gatewood. We are not a wealthy school nor are we a Title One school. So we will shed tears as we say goodbye to a beloved teacher and over the next few months we will adjust and do the best with the hand we have been dealt.
Before that happens we will be at the Stanford Center begging for more time to raise money and asking if there is anything else we can do to keep our teaching staff intact. Stop by and give us a hug. We are going down swinging.

Melissa Westbrook said...

GW parent, I like that the distress/unhappiness over this situation is negated by "give us a hug." So good for you.

But I hope you tuck away that resolve when it comes to levy votes and Board elections. Otherwise, no one in power will ever get the message.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, it was embarrassing that the parents could raise that kind on money so quickly, but life isn't fair."

So says "Been there, done that."

--enough already

Anonymous said...

What the hell, ea. That was just mean to quote at a time like this. Let them grieve a little before getting right back to the snark.

I am really sorry, Gatewood parents. I hope you see some success with the district. I absolutely think the process needs to change- so that it is relatively easy to staff UP a month into the school year, but requires more than a small decrease under projections to staff DOWN. The disruption added up across each student affected is definitely not worth the money they save, and I was recently appalled to see the statistic that there are 2.5 administrators for each classroom teacher in sps. (3100 teachers, 8000 administrators, I think) It is true that all I have really is my vote come election time, but I'm remembering all this too.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Just reminding GA of his audience on this blog, Sleeper.

Words are cheap. So are hugs. Coming to this blog for real equity in donations gets you the response I quoted from a Lincoln parent.

I've been advocating for real equity and sharing for year among PTAs.

Don't blame the messenger, Sleeper. I'm quoting a Lincoln parent. That's the real issue.

--enough already

Lynn said...

I don't understand why Lincoln parents should be embarrassed that they could raise a large amount of money in a short time. Should Gatewood parents be embarrassed that they couldn't raise $90,000 in a week? Shaming people for their financial circumstances is weirdly acceptable in Seattle. In this case, it's distracting us from the real problem - which is the staff allocation process used in this district.

Maybe someone (enough already) could volunteer to gather info on funding opportunities within the district and publicize them through the Seattle Council PTSA. Donors Choose could be a useful tool for this. Some well-written project descriptions would be a more effective fundraising tool than scolding parents for making up for district failures at their children's schools.