Friday, July 31, 2015

Two Seattle Public Education Items of Note

First, after review by hired reviewers, the Washington State Charter Commission staff are recommending approval of two new charter schools in our state.  These are the recommendations that the Commission members themselves will be considering at their next meeting on August 13th.

The schools the applicants have put forth:

Operator: Innovation Schools
School Name: Willow Public School
Grades Served: 6-8
School Location: Walla Walla

Operator: Summit Public Schools Washington
School Name: Summit Public School: Seattle #2 
Grades Served: 6-12
School Location: South Seattle

Both schools received "Meets" standard in four categories (out of four measures with "Exceeds" being the best, followed by "Meets," "Partially Meets," and "Does Not Meet.")

I note that Summit has this named at their website at "Summit Public School:Sierra" and both appear on the application but under the Proposal Overview, it's "Summit Public School: Seattle #2."

Second, the SEA has an update on their bargaining activities(partial):

Seattle Public Schools will receive at least an additional, and substantial, $37 million in discretionary state and levy funds this coming school year, according to SPS budget director Linda Sebring. About $20 million of that is from the state, along with another $17 million from the levy (levy funding is tied to state funding; the more state funding, the more levy funding, too).
These discretionary funds are in addition to funding to provide COLAs and K-3 class size reductions. Some of the funding will be needed to pay for TRI and salaries for non-state funded staff.

"The District was more forthcoming about their budget this year than last time we bargained, when they kept trying to deny the existence of additional reserves,"said SEA treasurer and Madison Middle School teacher Jennifer Matter.

The District projects a very healthy ending fund balance of 8%.

Bargaining team members were glad to hear that the District has been pro-active about hiring more K-3 teachers to take advantage of state funding to lower class sizes.

"We could see it coming," Sebring told our team. "And we knew if we waited until the state finalized the budget to start hiring, we wouldn't be able to find enough teachers."

Seattle parents need to know their kids aren't going to be tested to death come September. They need to know their kids have the recess time they need to grow socially and physically, and to be the best learners they can be. They need to know that all kids will be treated equitably, both in discipline and in learning opportunities.

Educators need to be able to afford health care and housing, and to feel respected for the jobs we do. We need workloads we can manage, and which don't force us to make sub-optimal decisions for kids. We need an evaluation process that promotes growth, and has safeguards that promote fairness and reliability.

It appears they will be voting on three contracts - paraprofessional, certificated, and SAEOP (office) - at their August 24th General Membership meeting.

"The public is with us on all of our key bargaining issues: living wages, reining in testing, ensuring sufficient recess, sensible evaluations, supporting equity, and reasonable workloads," said Phyllis Campano, SEA vice president. "We're hopeful that the superintendent and school district are on the same page as well."

More interesting news from the SEA newsletter:

Family Support Workers

Schools and families also rely heavily on Student and Family Advocates (SFAs) and Family Support Specialists (FSSs). But, perhaps because FSW funding is from the city, those jobs are paid much more than FSWs. And as FSWs have been laid off due to changes in city funding, they can't move into vacant SFA and FSS positions because they are at a lower pay grade even though they are performing the same job duties, and maybe even additional ones!


"A few years ago, having a couple of kids in the school with inhalers was a big deal," said Jenny Evans, admin secretary at Thornton Creek. "Now we've got 167 kids at my school with medical needs. I've got two drawers full of inhalers, a foot locker full of Epipens, and two more drawers of other medications. And a nurse for just a day and a half each week."

Nurses joined our team this week to present a proposal to increase the number of school nurses, as well as to provide them the time to get schools ready each year.


mirmac1 said...

I distinctly remember Ken Gotsch's statement June 30th:

"Unfortunately, the State budget that has been adopted is $1.3 million lower than very conservatively forecasted, so no new State resources. (The PPI factor was lowered from 5% to 4%, costing the District $ 1.1 million in local levy revenues. Year 2's PPI factor of 0% will cost the district almost $11 million.)


Ken Gotsch"

Smoke and mirrors.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Me, too.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, they have not been hiring more K-2 teachers!!!! Please tell me the SEA isn't taking that statement at face value, they can't be THAT naive? My daughter's school was way under-projected for this fall (apparently over 40 kids are going to vanish this summer, in a school that has grown by 25 kids every year for the past 4 years). That has not been corrected yet, nor has an additional teacher been hired. There were 29 students in my son's kinder last year, and there will probably be 29 in his 1st grade as well. Enrollment is filling option schools at 26 per class in K-2. SPS has no intention of lowering class size with the extra money.