Monday, October 12, 2015

Alki Gets Money to Retain Staff (from a complete stranger)

Update: Kids Not Cuts leader, Chandra Hampson, had an interview on KIRO radio this morning.  (It's brief and starts at about minute 23:00.  But, the reporter said that the district said "nothing is final."  So I'm hoping that is true.  More to come.

end of update

From the West Seattle blog:

The West Seattle school that was crowdfunding to try to save a teacher from being cut has apparently met its goal. After receiving e-mail announcing that the Alki Elementary fundraising drive had reached its goal thanks to a $70,000+ donation, we checked the crowdfunding page, and the donation is listed there.

The donor is Brian Jones who does not have kids in Alki.  Here's part of what he has to say:
I have two daughters, age 3 and 6. I live in Ballard and have no children that attend school in West Seattle. When my daughter entered Kindergarten this year at Loyal Heights, I learned I had to pay over $2000 to cover the second part of the day. I found that ridiculous and didn’t know why until I learned more about the McCleary decision and the basis of that lawsuit.
The legislature and Governor seem to be taking forever, (and my state rep and senator never even email me back). So when I heard about the lack of funding and teacher pulls, I talked with my wife and we decided that enough was enough and that we would do what we could to help, because our elected officials are failing our children. I don’t know anything about politics, but I do know a child’s education and a loving family is a recipe for success.
The first step that anyone can do is come to the rally this Tuesday at SPS headquarters and learn how our children are taking a back seat to this absolute ridiculous inaction by our elected officials.
After that I plan on galvanizing others to pressure our legislature to move fast and swift regarding this issue or face a movement of parents who will vote them out of office. … I’m not a politician or even “political,” I just can’t stand by and see our education system run like this.
 The rally he mentions has also just been mentioned to us by Schmitz Park Elementary parent Rachel Lazar, who’s been a leader in advocacy at that school since this all started circulating on Thursday. It’s set for 4 pm this Tuesday (October 13th) outside district headquarters, 3rd and Lander in SODO.

Bless Mr. Jones for his kindness.  But, I gently but firmly say - this is wrong to do.  It's enabling the district to continue to nearly blackmail school communities into paying up for support for kids.  It's like buying drinks for an alcoholic who says he needs them to continue working at his job to support his family.  

Parents, this movement is growing and it's not just about the 25+schools seeing staffing cuts.  It's about the fight for transparency in the dollars that the district has and how they spend them.

On Tuesday, please come to either the Half-Baked Bake Sale from 11 am-1pm at JSCEE OR the rally at 4 pm.

Or, on Wednesday, come to the Executive Committee Meeting of the Whole at 4:30 pm and stand with parents to ask the Board to please take a vote to direct the Superintendent to hit the pause button until the clarity on spending is fully explained. 



Anonymous said...

I agree. I do not support this at all, even while I have a friend with a kindergartener at Alki.

What about my kids at a NE school also slated to lose teachers? Or my other friend at a SE school that will also lose teachers? Who will pay for those staff to remain? Any donor willing to step up? We, as parent groups can't possibly raise the funds to pay for all of them, nor should we--that is the State's role.

I don't like discussions of wiping out PTA reserve funds to pay for staff cuts for one year when this will happen again next year--then what? This is all just bad precedence.

--Sick to my stomach

Maureen said...

Sigh, you know, I hate to discourage newbies from getting involved, and maybe Mr. Jones figures the $70K will buy publicity and it doesn't matter which school it goes to, but I really wish he had at least parsed his way through the list of staff reductions and FRL/SPED levels and capacity issues before he pulled out his check book. Maybe it still would have gone to Alki, but it seems unlikely. Maybe this is just his initial salvo and he will be fronting a full on public relations attack on JSCEE and Olympia?

Maureen said...

Sorry, forgot to say: Welcome aboard Brian! :)

Patrick said...

It's like paying ransom to a kidnapper. Pay us $70 grand by Tuesday or da teacher gets it! But this kidnapper will never run out of victims or get prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

Brian Jones isn't doing anything that all the PTAs already do--financing art teachers, language teachers, IA's etc. The one thing that is good about this is that it brings a lot of publicity to the issue, and that alone is probably worth the money.


Anonymous said...

I guess the District just needs to find about 30 more generous strangers? Then next year they will need what, 50?

- reality check

Anonymous said...

Go Mr. Jones! Your generosity has overwhelmed me and the Alki community.
Thank you for putting your money where your heart is: the students. You have set an example for the downtown staff. Maybe they'll step up to doing their jobs now and do the same for the other schools. I cannot write my own check but I can be


Anonymous said...

Every fiscal year, the district ends with a budget surplus that is over $30 million above the required $20 million surplus. This surplus also increases every year, although the District leadership doesn't seem to wish to publicize this. In the letter from Michael Tolley and Flip Herndon, it is stated that enrollment is 675 students lower than what they projected. If we assume a very generous ratio of 1 teaching FTE per 15 students,(higher for General Ed, Lower for Special Ed) that would be 45 teachers. At a cost of $90 000 per FTE this would amount to $4 050 000 that needs to be made up. Displacing teachers and collapsing classes 1 month into the school year is, needless to say extremely disruptive to the learning of the students that are affected. Do they really wish to do this to the children to save an amount of money which is a small fraction of an enormous budget surplus? This is clearly not a rational way to manage a school district. As a Seattle taxpayer I am incensed that they would do this. If I were a parent, I would be even more incensed. Given the generosity of the community, such as what happened at Alki, I would say that it is a calculated effort to bring more self help money down to the JSCEE.

I have watched class sizes at my high school increase well above the contractual limit of 150 students per teacher in many core classes. I have 157 students in my 5 periods and I know that my numbers are rather low by comparison with other teachers in my building. 1.3 FTE has been taken from the SPED department in my building, which puts class sizes in some SPED classes over the staffing ratios that are specified in the new contract. Over the last 2 years,FTE has been cut in my building with each Spring budget, even though there has not been a reduction in student enrollment when September rolls around. These cuts have instead, been imposed as a result of changing the formula for staffing ratios as well as lowballing projected enrollments.

Roosevelt SEA

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Jones. The perfect answer at the right time. Hold up a mirror. Pretending to do one job when you're really doing another is getting old. We can't pay you JSCEE rock stars enough to stay here so please go, don't deign to stick around and possibly show us where the money went.


Tresanos said...

According to the Budget Book Laurelhurst got $210,000 from "outside sources" (Laurelhurst fundraising). View Ridge got $394,000, fundraising. Go Brian! His motives-- and impact-- are far more pure.

Lynn said...


I don't understand your comment. Are you assuming Alki's donor works for the district? (He does not.)

Catherine said...

Please - as you're voting for City Council Members who could assess developer impact fees to help pay for school buildings, but haven't (and in many cases are unwilling to do so), think about that too. There are some real differences out there.

While impact fees do nothing for operational costs, they do pay for building capacity, and would spread further or lower the levy asks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"You have set an example for the downtown staff."

Yes, an example that money will continue to flow in to enable them to NOT fund schools.

According to the Budget Book Laurelhurst got $210,000 from "outside sources" (Laurelhurst fundraising). View Ridge got $394,000, fundraising. Go Brian! His motives-- and impact-- are far more pure.

You'll have to explain what you mean. Laurelhurst and View Ridge parents raised those dollars. How is Mr. Jones' money any more "pure?" Because he gave it to a school not his own? And how many of you know that other schools don't give money to support those who don't have PTAs? Do not cast stones if you don't have all the facts.

And there's that "divide and conquer" mentality that they love downtown. Do not fall for it.

I'll have a thread on City Council and School Board races which are absolutely vital to get right.

Anonymous said...

Donating $70,000 was a very kind and generous thing of Brian Jones and his family to do, especially since it wasn't even for his own children's school! For those that are critical of his donation, we should be counting him as an ally and welcoming him and others into our fight for a better education system. His donation is exactly the kind of example of what PTAs have been doing for years to prop up an inefficient and underfunded system, and it shines a bright spotlight on how desperate the situation really has become. Everyone should hear about this and realize how we need to fix our school system right now.

Working Together

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I'm not assuming Brian Jones is with the district. I think his donation comes at the right time to shame the parties who are supposed to prevent this from happening. That, and he saved a teacher. That's never a bad thing.


Watching said...

Has the district accepted these funds?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Working Together, it was very generous of Mr. Jones. It is unclear why he chose the school he did (I think he read an article).

But everyone - from PTAs to Mr. Jones - are enabling the district to spend money in other areas rather than putting the money in schools. That PTA "grants" appear as a regular feature on district documents should tell you something. That some principals will not allow staff buying at their schools should tell you something.

I do appreciate as much attention on the issue as possible. But it has made things kind of uncomfortable for Alki Elementary. But the big issue is where is the money being spent in this district and when is McCleary going to be fulfilled?

Let the shaming begin.

GarfieldMom said...

I would imagine part of the reason for choosing Alki was the fact that they had set up an online fundraising campaign already.