Monday, October 27, 2014

Garfield High Updates

Field Trip

The proposed field trip last Friday to Vashon Island, an eight-year annual tradition by the Garfield jazz vocal group (about 70 students),  had been pulled at what seemed like the last second. This confusion happened because despite the approval of the principal and the district's risk manager, approval was not given by the Executive Director, Sarah Pritchett. 

They had only two weeks from the time that the ban on field trips at Garfield had been lifted and felt they had all the necessary documentation done.  

The Vocal Music supporters sent a letter to Ms. Pritchett and Mr. Tolley to ask what happened.  They are really upset because there are potential costs of $10K from breach of "various contracts."  They maintain they repeatedly called Ms. Pritchett on Friday to get an explanation and she could not be reached.  They want the district to help mitigate those potential costs.

Richard Staudt, Risk Manager, wrote them back today, explaining that: 

"..submitting field trip paperwork at 3:15 PM when the trip is scheduled to depart at 4:30 that same day does not allow a reasonable opportunity for review."  He said he told Principal Howard this.  He also said it would need Ms. Pritchett's okay.   He said he didn't believe the district was responsible for any costs. 

There is no explanation as to why Ms. Pritchett was unavailable to explain this on Friday.

Garfield Staffing

From Superintendent Nyland:
After a review of the official state-mandated October 1 enrollment count, the district maintains its recommendation to shift the funding for one teacher from Garfield’s budget allocation to a school that is overenrolled.

Please know that this adjustment is not expected to affect a teacher of a core required subject and will not occur immediately; the affected teacher is expected to stay in place at least through the end of the first semester in order to minimize any disruptions to students’ schedules.

The district initiated a review after Garfield reported that 49 additional students appeared to have not been counted toward the official October enrollment. The review of each of those individual students indicated that 29 of them attend the Running Start program, which allows 11th and 12th graders to take higher education classes. That means they do not take any classes at Garfield and cannot be included in the headcount for staffing. The review also indicated that the remaining 20 students should not be included for a variety of reasons (e.g., they were athletics only, transferred to other schools and other factors).

The final enrollment count for Garfield stands at 1,586, which is 67 students fewer than the August estimate of 1,653. Staffing is based on a 30:1 teacher-student ratio. Garfield enrollment numbers, then, suggest reducing staff by two teachers, but the district is recommending reducing by only one to lessen impact to students. The data shows that Garfield High School is essentially receiving the same amount of money per student as our other high schools receive. The only difference is that Garfield does receive fewer dollars overall because the school has fewer students with special needs and fewer English Language Learners.

The reduction would take Garfield from 60 to 59 teachers. This is roughly the same number of teachers as last year. For the 2013-14 school year, Garfield was staffed at 59.3 teachers and had 18 more students (1,604) than this year’s October count.

1) Okay, but what was the agreement worked out with Hazel Wolf K-8 and is that option available to all schools on the list?
2) What does Garfield is "essentially" receiving the same number of $$ as other high schools mean in relation to "Garfield does receive fewer dollars overall?" 

I'm having some concerns of this issue of "high equity" and what it means for ALL students.


Anonymous said...


..."the data shows..."

It doesn't show anything! Because, we are NOT getting "the data"

"the data" is Oct 1 2014 enrollment BY GRADE BY SCHOOL -- with SpEd, ELL, and FR&L numbers of those grade numbers.

Only THEN can we audit the 'landing' of the WSS: was it applied consistently against ALL schools? If not, where was the deviations? What explain the individual deviations?

Dr. Nyland, get a grip. RELEASE THE DATA. THE SEATTLE DELEGATION IS WATCHING. I know you don't give a flying fig about what we parents think, that much is obvious, but surely you must care about what they think. They butter your bread.


Anonymous said...

Seems the >$150K suits downtown woke up and figured they had to phone something in....

Done w/clowns

Po3 said...

I am having a hard time believing that GHS submitted paperwork at 3:15 for a field trip starting at 4:30 considering everything that has gone on around field trips.

I also would like to know if 1586 is jives w/ the principal.

I think GHS is getting screwed over, big time.

Pretty unimpressed with Dr. Nyland so far.

Anonymous said...

Just gotta say that G'field has it pretty good and not ALL the other high schools are crying that their ninth year of a trip to this fest is not happening. How many other SPS schools have ever gone to this? Any?
Garfield's fancy programs need to get a little dose of equity like everybody else..

Suffering Loves

Po3 said...

Wow, suffering loves - that was really mean.

Inside as well said...

Sarah leaves at 2 on Fridays.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to Garfield to complain. They squeezed out sped, and have the lowest sped rates in the district. And then whine that they don't have funding for all their APP students to sit in classrooms staffed at sped ratios.


Anonymous said...

APP is not the opposite of sped, and Garfield has about 40% FRL overall- 10% higher than hazel wolf's for 2013-2014, which has almost certainly declined again this year. I am also sitting on tenterhooks waiting to see what they tell us "high equity" is. If it is not a school with 40% frl and 25% app, I don't know what it could be.


Anonymous said...

Reader -

Please provide the data that shows that Garfield is staffed at SPED ratios? We haven't seen any credible data for any of the decisions being made, so I would appreciate seeing the data that you are using to make your accusations?

Looking at the OSPI report card, I agree that Garfield does have a lower SPED % than the other two large high schools in the district:

Ballard: 11.20%
Garfield: 6.5%
Roosevelt: 11.2%

However, their FRL ratio is much higher:

Ballard: 17.8%
Garfield: 38.5%
Roosevelt: 14.7%

We can also look at the Transitional Bilingual ratio to get an idea of needed special services:

Ballard: 1.9%
Garfield: 6.3%
Roosevelt: 2.6%

All of these are used to determine staffing ratios and I don't see that Garfield is getting any preferential treatment when the district admitted that the school is funded at a lower level than other schools.

Not that the data really means anything to you.

I read this blog enough to know how much you just enjoy seeing your snide little comments in print.

-Moving On

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Garfield's fancy programs need to get a little dose of equity like everybody else.."

Not the point of this thread and yes, very unkind.

Reader, you are saying that Mr. Howard and staff squeezed out Sped? How were they able to do that? What does APP have to do with it? Details please, no innuendo.

Steve said...

Would love to hear more information about the "deal" that was worked out with Hazel Wolf. B.F. Day was not able to make any deal, and has had to shuffle staff around.

I read that Stevens PTA was able to fund the staff member. Any of the other schools on the hit list have similar outcomes?

- Steve

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

It sounds like what happened to me was the trip was approved, then one or more of the chaperones got sick (or otherwise couldn't make it), so they had to replace those chaperones at the last minute. That is when Sarah Pritchett decided to deny the entire trip.

The problem with this is that it looks like a petty, bureaucratic move by a senior administrator. Sarah Pritchett should have sought to make what what already an approved educational trip happen, student learning and all, despite the completely normal event of a chaperone having a last minute issue and needing to be replaced. There is no legal risk here, no reason to go for the letter of rules over the spirit, and it is not unusual at all for a chaperone to get sick and not be able to make it on a trip. Canceling the trip is a completely unreasonable action by Sarah Pritchett.

Jon said...

I'd also like to say, again, that it's stuff like this that makes me think this school system would be much better off if we fired Michael Tolley and Sarah Pritchett and most of the other overhead in District administration.

What do these people do other than damage? The schools run well in spite of SPS headquarters, not because of them. These highly paid executive managers do nothing but cause problems. They certainly don't do their job, which should be helping teachers and students in Seattle Public Schools. The only reason district administration exists is to help the schools, but, as they are currently run and managed, all they do is cause harm.

Po3 said...

If Pritchett knew there was an issue and knew GHS was handling it and then made herself unavailable I would start a petition of no confidence.

Anonymous said...

The overwhelming driver of funding is Sped, and therefore staffing. Sped has negotiated contracts if 8 in some cases, and down to 3. Half the sped rate of other schools is the primary driver in low funding. It's simple math. But go look at your AP classes, you'll see very low Sped ratio levels.. even though funding isn't provided for that. Do you ever see those 40 kid classes in AP.. nope. Those are for everyone else, and necessary to keep AP class sizes at Sped size levels.


Bulldog said...

Let's not forget that Garfield has a significant number of homeless students and the school works very hard to make certain they extra support. Does Ballard or Garfield have that as well?

Anonymous said...

Hazel Wolf was budgeted at 763 and their enrollment is 711. I don't think the District has a leg to stand on here.

- north seattle mom

cmj said...

For future field trips: maybe the best thing to do is to field more parent chaperones than you need, so that you have a few alternates that you can pull if someone gets sick?

I don't put much stock in Nyland's explanation of the GHS teacher transfer situation. GHS is about average in percentage of ELL students (8% vs. district-wide 8.9% in 2012-2013), though fairly low for SPED (5.9% in 2012-2013).

If it's true that the teacher would be able to stay through the end of the semester, why wouldn't SPS have said so earlier? There's nothing about the teacher staying through the end of the semester in the letter that Nyland sent out last Thursday. People are objecting primarily because GHS could be losing a teacher part-way through the semester (according to the PTSA), no so much because GHS might be losing a teacher period, so why wouldn't HQ address the first concern earlier?

Michael H said...

"I am having a hard time believing that GHS submitted paperwork at 3:15 for a field trip starting at 4:30 considering everything that has gone on around field trips."

Well, then, produce something from the school that disproves the statement from Mr. Staudt. Mr. Staudt is a stand-up guy who is not going to lie to cover for some overpaid suit in the superintendent's wing.

And, Melissa, since when is being "mean" or "unkind" not allowed? Many of your commenters are frequently mean" and "unkind" to those that do not agree with them. Those that actually say that something was "mean" on this blog need to grow up.

Anonymous said...

AP classes are not kept artificially low at GHS or anywhere else. That's just a red-herring rumor. If 32 kids need the class, there is room for 32 kids.

open ears

Anonymous said...

Dear Suffering Loves,10/27 5:32 pm
There is no "fest" that they were going to. I have been to Camp Burton more than once with HIMS orchestra. It is a no-frills camp with unheated cabins and a basic camp lodge. You are totally uninformed if you thought they were going to some fancy festival. (Not that there is anything wrong with a choir festival) But this was a retreat where they practice singing all day with a clinician. It is fun being away. It is motivational. It is a happy memory, but it is not "a fest". And this past weekend, it did not take place.

Anonymous said...

Dear Suffering Loves,
If you have ever been to a Garfield choir concert, you would know that equity reigns. Anyone who wants to be in choir can be in choir. It is a great experience for all students. Why do you criticize Garfield if you aren't familiar with it?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Michael, I didn't say unkind or "mean" comments aren't allowed. I didn't delete, did I? But I think comments that aren't useful or mean-spirited can get called out.

A jazz program, open to all, is not a "fancy" program.

Anonymous said...

Mention Garfield and out crawl the misanthropes. Like rain in November.
Go Bulldogs. WSDWG

Charlie Mas said...

There's a lot of transparency missing here.

Where is the data - the actual data - used to calculate the staffing at Garfield? Let's see it and let's see the formula. Let's also see the data for every other school.

What is the real story on the field trip? If, as the district says, the trip lacked Ms Pritchett's approval then let's hear from Ms Pritchett about why she didn't approve the trip. If she was not available that afternoon, then where was she and what was she doing? There's a perception that she clocks out early on Fridays. If that isn't true, then she needs to set the record straight. If it is true then she needs to explain it and disclose it to school officials who might need to reach her.

Anonymous said...

If 32 kids need the class, there is room for 32 kids.

The problem isn't a lack of options or room. The problem is a lack of limits. If 12 kids really, really need some AP class, by golly they get it! At the expense of some other class stuffed full of ordinary Joes. That's why people take the staff cut pity party with a grain of salt.


Lynn said...

Misanthrope - you don't have a clue what you're talking about. Give us an actual example of this.
Can you come up with one equivalent to the Spanish class Ted Howard set up for three athletes? Garfield's cheerleaders are getting credit for a combination dance class/study hall this year. Are there 40 kids in there? How many students are enrolled in the nine periods of literacy support classes the PTSA pays for?

Anonymous said...

Sixty percent of Garfield seniors take AP exams, according to a recent high school rankings report.

Just one more reason Misanthrope's "AP student vs. ordinary Joe" argument doesn't make sense.


David said...

I love the not-to-subtle claim that the District could remove two teachers from Garfield, but decided to be nice and only remove one. The implication is that Garfield should consider itself lucky the District administration didn't cause more damage and, if Garfield complains too much, worse things might happen.

As Charlie said, if Nyland want to build trust, transparency and actual data would help a lot here. I can't even verify the numbers Nyland claimed. The OSPI website says Garfield had 1640 students and 69 core teachers in Oct 2013 for the 2013-14 school year, but Nyland claimed 1604 and 59.3. Nyland also claims a 30:1 student-teacher ratio is standard, but that doesn't appear to be true either, as 1640 / 69 = 23.8 and spot checking other high schools shows even lower (Franklin High School had 1375 students and 61 teachers, so 22.5 teachers per student).

There's a basic issue of transparency here. People don't trust the District on these decisions because the District in the past has appeared to be untrustworthy, making decisions like these for reasons that, at least from the outside, appear arbitrary. The way to build trust is to explain why a decision makes sense in detail, showing all the enrollment numbers across all high schools, establishing that the student-teacher ratio is correct, explaining why the wait list didn't move, addressing the questions openly, and being willing to admit and correct any errors found. We don't have that here.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The problem is a lack of limits. If 12 kids really, really need some AP class, by golly they get it! At the expense of some other class stuffed full of ordinary Joes."

And your proof of this claim is? Could you please name those small AP classes?

And what does this have to do with the Garfield enrollment numbers being wrong?

David, I saw that as well. "We only cut one" as if they should be grateful. When was two ever on the table?

Anonymous said...

Ballard has double the SpEd % of Garfield? How's that? FRL is a geographical fact but half the SpEd rate of Roosevelt as well? That indicates kids in the service area are being moved.
As far as special classes for jocks and cheerleaders, I guess that makes a boutique music program and tiny AP classes for the Ivy seekers OK?
I don't begrudge a strong music program but the whining while other kids play on cracked basses and dented and worn out brass and some schools have so much cash sloshing around they have two instruments for each kid, it's unseemly. And to the admins of this blog, how is maligning a person, Pritchett or any number of district staff, OK, yet noting the exclusivity of music trips is mean?
Still waiting to hear who else goes to this, not a fest-it's been made to sound like a veritable hellscape, other than Garfield prep(aka WMS or was it HIMS).
BTW have all these parents( no doubt many HCC) who know everything about Garfield ever been to the other high schools and seen how they compare?

Another Meany

Anonymous said...

Meany & Misanthrope: Your attitudes cause and permit mediocrity to thrive in SPS. Complain enough and SPS will take away everything special or unique from everyone else under the guise of equity.

God forbid people get off the couch and do a little extra for their kids.

Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one. - Bill Clinton Every time some whining miscreant bashes Garfield, I'm reminded of that quote.


Anonymous said...

Meany & Misanthrope: Your attitudes cause and permit mediocrity to thrive in SPS. Complain enough and SPS will take away everything special or unique from everyone else under the guise of equity.

God forbid people get off the couch and do a little extra for their kids.

Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one. - Bill Clinton Every time some whining miscreant bashes Garfield, I'm reminded of that quote.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm now going to ask people to please stay on the topic thread.

Anonymous said...

What I like about school choirs is that you don't need the funds for an instrument. There is not an advantage for private lessons. Choir provides an opportunity that is more equitable and can happen in any school. SPS seems to have emphasized instrumental music over choir. I think that is too bad. I would not be surprised to find that the choir in this case has a higher FRL participation than the orchestra or band at GHS. (Only a guess.) Providing an opportunity to that group of musicians similar to the traditional band camp (or football camp)offered at many Seattle Public Schools is something that I support.

I am sad that they did not know of a chaperone registration deadline. this kind of thing also happens more often to groups less 'in-the-know'. Remember Rainier Beach's dilemma with their production of The Wiz.

That is inequitable.

-choir alum

Anonymous said...

Is the topic Sarah's work habits?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Given she never answered any phone calls relating to this incident, yes.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, BHS at parent night openly admits that AP students enjoy vastly reduced class size. In fact, they advertise it. Guess what? It isn't the state that funds that. It's special ed, and everyone else. IHS, same thing. A place like Garfield where AP is maximized, clearly, that's where the inequity is also maximized. If Your kid is sitting in classes with fewer than 32 kids, other kids are subsidizing you. Simple math folks. Yeah, truth hurts. Get over yourself.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Ballard staff actually said that AP students have a smaller class size? How much smaller? Because yes, some AP classes would be smaller but if it's less than 15, I'd worry.

And thank you for that dig. Says more about you than me.

Anonymous said...

Really Melissa? Pointing out that AP students enjoy ANY reduction in class size (which comes without funding from any source) is somehow a dig at YOU? Personally. Really? That is weak. Most people actually notice this. Repeatedly. Pointing out a fact... says NOTHING about me, nor about anyone else who points it out. Failure to recognize advantages and entitlements, well that says something about you.


Anonymous said...

Misanthrope, I'm not sure your assertions apply to IHS.

I have a 9th grade student in IBx, and 3 of his core classes have at least 34 students. One has 37 - not sure if it's been adjusted down since the beginning of October, but I don't think so. It may be that class sizes were small when IBx was first starting at Ingraham, but that is no longer the case.

I like the program at Ingraham, but I don't need to hear about how my child enjoys small class sizes, when the reality is that his classes are much larger than the "standard" ratio.

-factcheck please

Anonymous said...

Oh, and other core class for my student - one of the smaller ones i which 9th grade IBx students are enrolled - has 29 students.

I'm looking for his subsidized, vastly reduced class size . . . and not finding it.

-factcheck please

Anonymous said...

My GHS kid's AP classes:
AP Calc 32 (Full), Enviro 30 or 31,
LA 28--some sections of AP LA are full (32). AP Gov, most sections full (32).

Lynn said...

Did you read the title of this post? You might know everything there is to know about class sizes at Ballard - but Garfield isn't Ballard. Assuming all schools have the same priorities and practices makes you look foolish.

Anonymous said...

IB has increased administration costs not covered by the state. That administration needs to be covered somehow, and that would be with increased class size. Therefore, a class size of 29 is actually significantly reduced considering that administration averages need to come from somewhere. Otherwise, other people are actually picking up your tab.

And really GHSmom, 32 is full? Not really, especially when those classes have 0 sped, ell, or poverty. Those burdes truly should be cost averaged in, and that would mean full would be way higher than 32. As it is, Joe average has all classes more than that.


Melissa Westbrook said...

If you say "get over yourself, " yes, it is personal and a dig. You could simply say, "you're wrong and here's why."

Do you seriously think every single middle and high school class is the same size? My son's photography class at Roosevelt had something like 18 kids. It depends on the subject. You don't cut AP classes because the class size is lower. Would you cut AP classes at RBHS because it's a small school?

And let's get back the topic.

Anonymous said...

Hi Misanthrope,
I thought there was a maximum number of students that can be in a class. At HIMS my kid was in an LA/SS block class that had (I think) 34 kids. Two kids had to transfer out or the teacher would have to be paid more. It affected my kid because of my kid's schedule. Luckily two of her friends broke the block and did unconnected LA/SS to bring the class to the maximum size. What did you think the maximum size of class was for high school?

Anonymous said...

You don't cut AP classes because the class size is lower. Would you cut AP classes at RBHS because it's a small school?

The size of the school is not the issue. A class size of 18 is significantly lower than a special education SM1 ratio, which is 22. The district is not funded to equitably support classes like this. Other people WILL and DO pay for these classes. Yes. I absolutely would cut classes that didn't have enough students to be funded by state or district funds and required dipping into special education or other funding sources to cover them. If RBHS has enough poverty funds to lower class sizes across the board - then great, offer go ahead and lower class sizes. GHS does not. (Wasn't that the topic of the thread?) To do anything else is inequitable and possibly illegal when other funding sources are used to pay for this. Union maximums are a guideline not a mandate. And the more undersized AP classes a school offers, the more offsetting it will necessarily have to do to reach budget.


GHS dad said...

If 12 kids really, really need some AP class, by golly they get it! At the expense of some other class stuffed full of ordinary Joes.

Utter bullshit. Care to give an example?

I'll throw a few more GHS facts out there.
- AP Stats? 32 kids with a waitlist.
- AP Chem? 32 kids with a waitlist.
- AP Computer Science? Both sections full at 32 as well.
I could run down a long list and prove you are absolutely, unequivocally wrong. Not every AP section is full, but for every AP class that comes in at less than 32 kids, there are more non-AP classes that aren't full. But I'm not complaining because that's life. It's not perfect for me, for you, for the staff or anyone else. For the most part, they're just doing the best they can.

And really GHSmom, 32 is full? Not really, especially when those classes have 0 sped, ell, or poverty. Those burdes truly should be cost averaged in, and that would mean full would be way higher than 32. As it is, Joe average has all classes more than that.

You're not making any sense at all. Classes are capped at 32, period. Your "Joe average" doesn't have ANY classes larger than that, let alone all of them. When you've been proven wrong (above), you attempt to change the assumptions, but we're not 8 years old here, so it's obvious. Many kids taking AP classes are simply shut out of them when they reach that cap, my kid included.

Nice job Misanthrope, you just keep digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole with your ignorance and lies. I'm not going to make any claims about Ballard, because I don't know the details at that school. Perhaps you should stick to commenting about buildings you know about as well.

Anonymous said...

Guessing that the choir class has more than 32 kids. Most choir classes do. Certainly the orchestra does, probably more like 70 kids, I've seen them play. So why pick on those groups? They are not using sped funding to reduce class size.

There is no advantage to having a smaller size choir. My choir teacher had 3 choirs a day of 200 students each. Maybe those programs benefit other students by allowing some classes to be offered in years they don't completely fill. It doesn't make sense to me to punish the choir program because of some perceived privilege that isn't being demonstrated in this thread.

-Choir alum

Anonymous said...

The class size limits are not hard and fast cut-offs for individual classrooms. Individual classes can be greater than 32. My child was in a 5th grade class of 34 students. My freshman is in a class that was at 38 last I heard. Because of scheduling limitations, it's just the way it's going to be for this year. I don't think the teacher's load exceeds 150, but one class is above 32 while another is below.

The class sizes are based on school and district averages, with overage paid to teachers.

Collective bargaining agreement language:

SPS will maintain an average SPS building ratio of students to full-time equivalent teachers at no more than 26:1 for grades K-3, 28:1 for grades 4-5, and 150-1 for grades 6-12...An exception to the average ratios will occur when SPS ratios do not meet state mandated class reduction requirements.

Further, they Take actions to limit class sizes to thirty-two (32) students for core classes in 6-12. Teachers are compensated for an overload if they decide not to reduce the class size.

Collective bargaining agreement 2013-2015

Also, the class size reduction initiative may not reduce class sizes in Seattle. Districts with space restrictions are not mandated to actually reduce class sizes. From the voter pamphlet: "The measure would leave intact the statement in the school funding law that nothing in that law requires school districts to maintain a particular classroom-to-student ratio."


Melissa Westbrook said...

All I can say is that it does matter the size of the school. RBHS was struggling with enrollment and wanted AP classes (this was before IB). They complained it was an equity issue that they had almost no AP and the district said it was too expensive (your argument).

So we can choose to not have classes that are college level for some schools and not others but you run into equity issues. You can disagree if that matters but apparently it matters to the district.

"Other people WILL and DO pay for these classes."

I have no idea what that means. The district does not charge for AP classes.

Misanthrope, I think I will end my discussion with you here. I'm not sure you know the facts on the ground so it's not helping to put out info that is not true.

David said...

Trying to get back to the topic, commenting on what Superintendent Nyland said in his letter, I wrote earlier:

I can't even verify the numbers Nyland claimed. The OSPI website says Garfield had 1640 students and 69 core teachers in Oct 2013 for the 2013-14 school year, but Nyland claimed 1604 and 59.3. Nyland also claims a 30:1 student-teacher ratio is standard, but that doesn't appear to be true either, as 1640 / 69 = 23.8 and spot checking other high schools shows even lower (Franklin High School had 1375 students and 61 teachers, so 22.5 teachers per student).

I was hoping someone else would comment on this. Is Nyland correct about a 30:1 student-teacher ratio being normal? Is he correct about the enrollment numbers and number of teachers? Why doesn't what he say match the OSPI data? Is this some definition issue where what he said is technically correct under certain definitions and assumptions? Or is he getting bad information from his own staff?

I think this is important. The entire justification for him cutting a teacher from Garfield is dependent on the 30:1 student-teacher ratio actually being what is normal, the count of students being correct, and the count of teachers being correct. Nothing he said matches the OSPI data, so I was hoping others might comment on it. Is Superintendent Nyland right on this or did he get bad information from his staff?

David said...

My daughter is in 2 AP classes at Ballard. Both have 32 kids in them. It was the same last year. Not sure where your #s are coming from, Misanthrope.

Lynn said...

Here's some information on the budgeting process/staffing ratio:
Weighted Staffing Standards
School allocations

Anonymous said...

Misanthrope just learned that facts are stubborn things. WSDWG

Anonymous said...


SpEd, and ELL teachers are included in the teacher total.

Simply dividing the total number of students by the total number of teachers won't yield an accurate class size for say, LA/SS.

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

David, Nyland may have been referring to contractual ratios.

kellie said...

@ David,

The SPS enrollment reports put Garfield at 1604 for the 2013 school year. The OSPI report is 1640.

This looks like a typo with just transposed digits.

The 30:1 ratio is the ratio used for building the budget for the school as the teacher contract is for 150 students, 5 instructional periods and one prep period.

Lynn said...

To complicate matters, you've got to provide a teacher for those 30 students during the planning period - so every 30 students gets 1.2 teachers - equivalent to 1 teacher for every 25 kids. (Class size is still 30 though.)

A few things surprised me about the process. ELL students are only counted as a .6 FTE for general ed teacher allocations and most special education students are only counted as .8 FTE. (Because they're assumed to be out of the general ed classroom for a portion of the day.) Aren't these students in general ed classrooms as much as possible? (So potentially all day?)

The other thing is the AAFTE calculation. This reduces the projected enrollment by the number who are expected to leave during the year. (The projection differs by school and by grade.) For example, Garfield is expected to lose 162 students over the course of this year. This means that they were allocated 3.24 teachers less than needed at the beginning of the year. (81/25) I'd think it would make more sense to allocate more teachers to schools with lower retention rates in an attempt to decrease dropout rates.

Finally, Garfield was allocated teachers for two SM2 special education classrooms (staffed at a 1 to 9 ratio) even though their projected enrollment didn't include any SM2 students.

David said...

That a 30:1 student-teacher ratio actually means you should see 25:1 in the OSPI data because of the passing period explains a lot of the issue, but not all of it. We're still seeing ratios well below 25:1 at high schools in previous years, which raises doubts about whether this 30:1 student-teacher ratio is being applied consistently, correctly, and fairly. At stake is whether Garfield, other schools, or no one should lose teachers.

Perhaps I am being overly suspicious. Am I wrong that it is still unclear if Nyland is correct that Garfield should lose a teacher? Do we have the information to verify that Garfield has the correct number of teachers this year under a criteria that says they had the correct number last year? Can we verify that the criteria for teacher staffing has been consistently applied across schools and years?

At the core of this is that I think Nyland has told us not to worry, the calculation is correct, without giving information that establishes that, yes, the calculation is correct. And given past performance of the District on these kinds of things, I have little confidence and trust that the calculation was done correctly, so I'd like to be able to verify it.

Have others looked at this too? Am I wrong that the District staff have not made data available to outsiders to verify that the teacher staffing is correctly and consistently applied across high schools and years?

Lynn said...


We don't know how many teachers each school has now - so we can't check the allocations. We do already know that the district chose not to pull four teachers from "high equity" schools. They were allowed to be overstaffed at district expense this year.

Anonymous said...


That's 5 schools that were allowed to be over-staffed, including Hazel Wolf K-8.

- reality check

kellie said...

It is 30:1 in the allocation. There is a separate line for PCP which provides the extra .2 to cover the sixth period. So teaching staff plus PCP is total general education allocation. Then there are additions for ELL and sped to complete the teaching faculty.

mirmac1 said...

Actually, Misanthrope is correct about the situation at Ballard and robbing SpEd to reduce class sizes elsewhere. It is inequitable to those students who need support are instead crammed into large classes. Thanks Misanthrope for your information.

Jamie said...

No, he is not. Perhaps some AP classes are smaller but in my kid's experience at Ballard her AP classes were 32 for the past two years, and one AP class this year has 34 kids in it. So they are not smaller than the Gen Ed classes. Her non-AP Physics class last year had 26 kids. So it's all over the place.

Anonymous said...

Jamie is right--it's not an AP or APP issue. Some people just seem to resent the fact that some kids are more more academically advanced than others, and like to use these kids/programs/services/classes as scapegoats for whatever problem is being discussed.


mirmac1 said...

Yes. One must take into account: classes of students who have different ratios; the CBA; and other qualifiers. Dr. Nyland is not getting the whole story. I think he is coming to that realization. And staff that blow smoke up his whatzit should be put somewhere so that they do not hurt their bosses nor their customers.

Anonymous said...

From the APP blog -

Anonymous said...
Students at Garfield were told yesterday that the Latin instructor will be gone at the end of the semester. I can't imagine where the district will place him. Is anyone aware of a school in the district that has 150 or so students who need 1/2 year of instruction in Latin?

October 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Ted Howard is brilliant, as usual! This targets the exact demographic at GHS (mostly APP) that can fundraise heavily and save the Latin teacher. The Latin teacher is going nowhere and the district will get the ransom they are demanding. It's only $46,000 for the second semester. No problem!

This is crazy. I wonder what the classes are that Running Start students are taking that may be reducing the load at GHS? It's not Latin. The Latin teacher has been there for about 5 years, so it's not a seniority issue. If it is true, this strategy is targeting parents with money to solve the problem, while absolving the district/TH of eliminating a core class for graduation requirements. World Languages are not a graduation requirement in SPS.


Anonymous said...

I doubt the accuracy of this rumor . My son is a Latin student at GHS, active with JCL, and has not heard this. For what it's worth.


Anonymous said...

He told my son's Latin class that he's the teacher who'll leave if the district doesn't back down. It was discussed in class on Wednesday.

Garfield Parent

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying. Nothing like one more stressor going into the holidays.


Bulldog said...

The "announcement" that it was the Latin teacher was made indirectly at the Superintendent Meet and Greet on Monday night at the community center. A student asked Dr. Nyland who was going to be let go and he answered the Latin teacher.

It was not made at the school. This whole thing makes no sense. There were over 100 students on the waiting list. If Garfield's enrollment was so dangerously low, why were no students moved from the wait list.

If you want to think about a conspiracy, then ... enrollment was deliberately withheld from Garfield. Then the adjusted full time equivalent was changes and viola ... the school that makes trouble loses a teacher.

Anonymous said...

One idea is to invite families to donate $5 to $50, if they can, to save the Latin teacher. Maybe they can raise $45K. I think it is sad to lose the legacy of Latin at GHS. I think it is worth paying the ransom money to save the program. Maybe next year they can budget better.

Anonymous said...

It would be a real shame for Garfield to lose its Latin program!! It is part of what makes Garfield so unique, and the Latin program there is fabulous.

Just encouraging everyone who cares to write an email or letter to the Superintendent and to the Principal, Ted Howard. They are most likely the people who will be making the final decision about this, but if anyone knows better, please do let us know.