Thursday, October 23, 2014

District's Statement to Garfield

I'm just on my way out the door to the Garfield walk-out and this message came up on my feed.  It's from Superintendent Nyland. 

(I don't see they are saying their numbers are wrong.  Well, something's wrong if Garfield says they DID meet the district's stated goal.)

Nyland also says:

  We are still working through this process, and we would hope the community will allow us time to complete our process. 

What? How does that help Garfield to say a process is still going on?

Nyland Letter
Dear Garfield High School community,

I want to thank you for contacting the district regarding Garfield staffing. We understand your frustration and we hear your concerns.

Each October, after student transfer periods have closed, the district conducts a state-required official count of all students. This count directly affects district funding for the school year.

As a part of our annual process, we then adjust staffing – up or down – to align with our official enrollment. Our staffing adjustments are based on the official October count and include many additional factors. As we do every year, this process includes working together with each school’s principal to identify all possible options, check the numbers for discrepancies, and identify potential impacts on students in order to make an informed final decision.

The district is committed to assuring we have proper and equitable staffing at each of our schools. We are still working through this process, and we would hope the community will allow us time to complete our process. While we review the situation at Garfield, we ask that students and staff stay in class and parents encourage students to remain in class.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns.

Sincerely,

Larry Nyland

Process
·         Each October, after student transfer periods have closed, the district conducts a state-required official count of all students.
·         This count directly affects district funding for the school year.
·         As a part of our annual process, we then adjust staffing – up or down – to align with our official enrollment.
·         Our staffing adjustments are based on the October count and include additional factors such as special education, English Language Learners, free and reduced-price lunch qualifications, and grade and program configurations.
·         As we do every year, this process includes working together with each school’s principal to identify all possible options, check the numbers for discrepancies, and identify potential impacts on students in order to make an informed final decision.
·         The district is committed to assuring we have proper and equitable staffing at each of our schools.
·         We are still working through this process, and we would hope the community will allow us time to complete our process.
Garfield
·         While we review the situation at Garfield, we ask students and staff stay in class and parents encourage students to remain in class.
·         Regarding whether teachers will face disciplinary action if walk out: Teachers primary responsibility is to ensure safety and supervision of their students during the assigned time period. If they do not ensure proper supervision for their students, then appropriate action will be determined.
·         Monday, Oct. 27, is a deadline to make a final decision on whether or not to adjust staffing at Garfield. This is not the day the teacher stops teaching the class.
·         The teacher is chosen based on seniority – the least senior teacher by teaching category.
·         Teachers have signed a one-year contract with the district and the district will work to find another position within the district.
·         While PTAs are allowed to raise funds to support a teaching position, it is not recommended and should be considered only as a last resort after careful review of all the data.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

So what JSCEE wants is to take away the media opportunity afforded by a walkout, so that it can quietly fix a hornet's nest created by the usual opaque analysis and subsequent poor communication about measures that hugely impact individual schools.

Walk out, Garfield. Walk out. Do it not just for your school but for all the schools on the list who do not have cunning principals who can work the system, ability to raise emergency funds, or the savvy to contact the media.

Walk out, with cameras rolling, to stop the madness at ANY SPS school of yanking staff in core classes 2 months into the school year.

-skeptical-

Po3 said...

Keep walking GHS!

My gut tells me wrong numbers were intentionally submitted to pull a teacher.

Process...ha

Anonymous said...

Well, here's a chance to see if Nyland's got the stuff to hold a job in this district. #MartinFloe #MAP

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

GHS, Keep the pressure on! What process, the school was given a dead line. WALK!

Supporter

Anonymous said...

Irony: SPS admin now wants Garfield to watch like a hawk to be sure kids are properly guided on out-of-school trips, but apparently didn't give a fig on whether it has enough teachers during the actual school day.

Parent

mirmac1 said...

I was told yesterday that this "culling' process has been going on for years, multiple times a year. In what universe?

Anonymous said...

@ Mirmac - That is true. It has been going on for years. There is even a formula for doing it. Sadly, that formula is not straightforward, it's not accessible let alone communicated to families or school staff. It is possibly unevenly applied. It absolutely impedes classroom learning.

"It's been going on for years" is no excuse for continuing this poor excuse for "budget balancing."

I am pleased Gatewood and now Garfield has chosen to shine a light on this harmful practice.

EdVoter

Lynn said...

Of course it's crazy to pull a teacher from Garfield at this point in the year. However, I think GHS administration and PTSA aren't being entirely transparent in their message to the community. From my reading of the contract, the district would have to identify the subject in which GHS has too many teachers. The teacher in that subject with the least experience would be laid off. It may very well be a core subject, but the "it could be any teacher and could affect any student" message is designed to get parents and students riled up about the situation.

As the district is required to provide a basic education to every student, and the core courses are a part of a basic education, they can't just stop teaching one of those subjects to 150 students. That's an empty threat on Ted Howard's part.

The equity question here is why some schools were allowed to keep teachers when their enrollment isn't high enough to support them. Of course, if the district backs down, you can bet Gatewood parents are going to want their money back.

Lynn said...

Slightly off-topic but still on "Crazy Things Happening at Garfield", the following event is on Garfield's calendar for tomorrow: Hello Garfield Freshmen Families,

Garfield is proud to offer family and student engagement opportunities. Beginning Friday, October 24th, there will be a series of six two-hour sessions focusing on the success of our freshman students. The parent sessions will focus on how to support your freshman student in navigating high school. The student sessions will focus on how to be a successful Garfield Bulldog.


These sessions will take place the first two hours of the day and students in grades 10-12 will not be on campus during that time. Basically, they'll be missing 12 hours (2 full days) of instruction for this. We were not informed until Tuesday afternoon.

Po3 said...

I am sorry, but all Freshman support is done at the beginning of the year - ideally in late August and should not impact the class time of 10-12 grades.

Crazy indeed.

Anonymous said...

I personally wish the district would be broken-up into 3-4 smaller ones. I'm sick of the central district consistently stirring up trouble and thinking they always get a raw deal, that's total BS.

Go Riders

Anonymous said...

This brings back BLT memories. I remember as a newbie sitting in in the Spring with the principal, PTA prez, and BLT members hashing through the next year budget. We were given a formula, projected numbers, and a proposed budget. There were a lot of if this happens or if that happens, yada yada, yada. Some of the uncertainty was waiting on the state budget and what SPS actually gets. One year the school number was very close to being over the cut off for an assistant principal and a 1.0 FTE. The PTA even sent out a survey and with siblings, people thought they had the number. There were a lot of discussions about over estimating vs. underestimating. If we thought we had the number to hire another teacher, many felt it was better to hire before school year ends as you get better pool of applicants. The downside is if your number comes in below, you lose a teacher. That's exactly what happened, we were under, lost a full FTE and no VP. Ended up with reshuffled large classes, including one mixed grade. Ack! People were mad.

bad days

GarfieldMom said...

Well, to properly supervise their students, the teachers had to be outside because that's where all the students were! Woohoo!

Sorry, Supe, your letter was way too little, way too late. That train had already left the station.

mirmac1 said...

Thanks EdVoter, I just don't remember all the visibility. It must be those schools and communities that are balking. Good.

With the STR and Gates' new PreK carrot/gotcha grant, SPS could be on the hook for >$1M of Ed reform niceties by the year after next....let's see, that's 11 teachers. Gee, what should we do....?

Charlie Mas said...

A couple interesting contrasts.

1) Dr. Nyland asking the students to stay in class while Director Peters participates in the walk-out.

2) Dr. Nyland threatening the teachers' certificates ("Regarding whether teachers will face disciplinary action if walk out: Teachers primary responsibility is to ensure safety and supervision of their students during the assigned time period. If they do not ensure proper supervision for their students, then appropriate action will be determined."

That "proper supervision" is a reference to the professional code of conduct. If a teacher fails to properly supervise students the superintendent is required - by law - to report the teacher to the OSPI. The funny thing about this is that the family of the girl who reported the rape at NatureBridge raised this issue with the superintendent about the teacher chaperones who walked away from the students and slept in cabins hundreds of feet away. Dr. Nyland, however, chose not to regard that as a failure to properly supervise.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, they just tried to pull a teacher from Stevens Elementary because enrollment is down from their projection. The school was notified Friday and the cut was supposed to happen pronto. The lower enrollment was due to 2 or 3 kids fewer than expected across grades. How the hell does that work? How disruptive to teachers, staff, students and families. Fortunately, the PTA pulled through to close the gap but this is unacceptable.

Along these same lines, there seems to be a blatant shorting of SPED IAs across the district. I have heard now of 4 K-5 and K-8 who do not have the coverage they should to serve IEPs. The district is stalling and school leadership is complicit or at best opaque about the real reason for a failure to fill these positions mandated by law. OSPI Citizens Complaints are on the way.

- Enough Already

mirmac1 said...

Excellent, enough already. Seems SPS only listens to OSPI, and only fairly recently. At least that's the reason given for their even worst family engagement now than previous years (as if that is possible!)

Similarly, OSPI might actually stir from its decades-long slumber and impose (and enforce) meaningful corrective action to comply with Federal law.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, when we see jobs - at headquarters advertised for $100K plus - when we are losing teachers and disrupting class schedules because of it, I just don't get it.

The money should be in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely hope that the district does something to reverse the decision at Garfield, because then those of us at B.F. Day and all the other schools losing a teacher whose PTA can't pay to keep them will be able to demand the same consideration. And I hope that all schools will join together to stop this annual insanity - if it isn't your school this year, it could be next year.

- Data Hungry

Christina said...

FYI- if the cut does happen, it doesn't happen immediately. The teacher has a contract so the district then places the teacher in whatever school there is a shortage. That can take weeks.

Lynn said...

It can happen quickly. The teacher released from B.F. Day will be teaching at Fairmount Park next week.

If Garfield releases a World Language teacher, I expect that will take longer - unless Rainier Beach, JAMS, Mercer or Middle College is looking for another World Language teacher.

Greeny said...

@Melissa - isn't one of those posted big$ positions open, for a Director of Enrollment? Personally, I don't have a problem paying up for competence. Paying for incompetence - way worse.

In his letter to principals of 10/20, interim superintendant Nyland prefaces his announcement that SPS is putting 14 more schools in play with "Each October...As part of our annual process.." THIS IS THE PROBLEM! Not whether Garfield's numbers look "off," or FTEs vs. budget, or if kids will still graduate or are "resilient" in first grade. The problem is in accepting and managing a process that CAN ONLY RESULT in ripple-effect changes in our schools IN OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER. And JSCEE' terribly skewed, internally acceptable priority to attempt "fiscal responsibility" (more akin to "penny wise, pound foolish") by confusing our children and teachers with chess pieces.

Just over two weeks ago, Gatewood's reaction to "raise $40K, then $90Kin 5 days" launched them into fundraising action, nearly immediately launching "the Biggest Bakesale Ever" on the busiest street in West Seattle, scrambling to pull together an evening auction, donations from Gatewood teachers at $500/pop, and community letters hand delivered to JSCEE to protest and then to request more time, and importantly, rallying their School Board rep to explain and intervene not just for Gatewood, but to keep this from happening to ANY school.

I'm not at Gatewood. I find this SPS' practice of Reconciliation and Extortion outrageous. Yet, I admire the h*** out of Gatewood, for what they did, and what they went through earlier this month.

That interim superintendant Nyland can now so casually announce that here's another 14 schools(!) (how many kids are in these 14, which exclude Gatewood and Fairmount Park? All grades, all classes, can be affected with the loss OR add of 1 FTE) is astonishing. Nyland could make an explicit policy edict, reflecting a reasonable expectation our community wants and deserves: "NO SPS movement of teachers after school starts." Assuming C-level management skills, this would force internal fixes and alignments- in waitlist practices, enrollment deadlines, data-demands, forecasting refinement - even transparency. That Dr. Nyland attempts to rationalize launching turmoil by trying to use "the process" as a fig leaf is astonishing, and completely unacceptable. Maybe James Carville is too blunt, too rude, but he can get a message through: "It's the TIMIING, stupid."

Greeny said...

From the 10/20 letter to principals, in case you missed:

Schools receiving additional staffing budgets:
· Lowell Elementary – 1.0 FTE
· Jane Adams Middle School – 1.0 FTE
· Laurelhurst Elementary – 1.0 FTE
· Rainier Beach High School – 0.4 FTE
· Mercer International Middle School – 1.0 FTE
· Sanislo Elementary – 0.5 FTE
· Concord International Elementary – 1.0 FTE
· Middle College – 1.0 FTE

Schools with reduced staffing budgets:
· Garfield High School – 1.0 FTE
· Stevens Elementary – 1.0 FTE
· Hazel Wolf K-8– 1.0 FTE
· B.F. Day Elementary– 1.0 FTE
· Denny International Middle School – 0.6 FTE
· Madison Middle School – 1.0 FTE

Jack said...

"Blogger Charlie Mas said...
A couple interesting contrasts.

1) Dr. Nyland asking the students to stay in class while Director Peters participates in the walk-out."

Hey Charlie,

I hope you start fact finding before you document such "contrasts"

Director Peters was working in conjunction with Dr. Larry Nyland on the Garfield issue. She was invited to speak at the event and she provided support to faculty and students. Students would have walked out with or without Director Peter's presence.

Your assertion unfairly casts doubt on a board member.

Thanks.