Thursday, October 08, 2015

Enrollment and Staff Cuts

 Update:  I asked, via public disclosure, for the official reports on enrollment.  Here's the reply:
Relevant staff members have informed me that the October P223 report is not yet available. Staff anticipates having it by the end of next week, and the report will be posted to the District Data and Reports webpage once available. All available past P223 reports can be found on that webpage as well. 
End of update

KPLU is saying it incorrectly quoted Superintendent Nyland at last night's Board meeting on enrollment growth on Twitter.   

Here's the portion of the meeting where the Superintendent speaks on the issue. 

But here's his exact quote (which I transcribed but find difficult to comprehend):

Our enrollment, as mentioned, is up.  It's up - uh - I think about 400+students - 411 -uh, however it is down from our projections.  It turns out that our projections probably would have been almost exactly right on but uh, but last year we had about 350 students who left the district for neighboring districts, this year we had, uh, about, uh, a little over 1,000 students so see our enrollment pattern in our schools near the boundaries lost students during the strike as parents found spots in Highline or Shoreline or Renton.

So we are working through the process of adjusting staffing at, uh, many of our schools, a few did go up and will get additional staffing and, uh, several went down and, uh, will probably be in the process of losing a teacher. Even after we do that, we still benefit from the 50+ teachers that the Legislature added to as part of McCleary so class sizes at elementary schools even after taking back some of these teachers will still be better than they were a year ago.

You'll note that he does say some students were lost "during the strike" so Kyle Stokes at KPLU did not get it entirely wrong.

Nyland did add that they would be putting in some "hiring and travel restrictions" at the district level to help compensate for that loss to enrollment.

I think that is a lot of students to overcount and I am hoping for clarification on what the Superintendent thinks happened. 

But about that enrollment.  Here's what the district told schools:

I wanted to share with you that 52,399 students are attending Seattle Public Schools this year, according to our 10 day headcount (9/30).  That is an increase of 411 students over last year.  While we have more students this year, the number is still lower than we projected by 675. 

Annually, at the beginning of the school year, Seattle Public Schools undergoes a staffing adjustment process to monitor enrollment at every school and to adjust staffing levels relative to actual student enrollment.  Staffing adjustment decisions are made to match student needs with limited staff resources.  In this process, adjustments are made in staff levels at schools to reflect the number of students actually enrolled in a program, grade and school, as opposed to forecasted/ projected enrollments.  While our enrollment projections are historically very accurate at the district level, a wide range of factors can influence the final number of students enrolled at a grade, program and school level.

Once receiving student enrollment counts for each school, the district then reevaluates staffing across schools, making adjustments up and down based on each school’s enrollment. Please know that our best efforts are being made to assess all factors for staffing adjustment decisions at all schools.  Staffing adjustment recommendations are developed by a team composed of members from Budget, Human Resources, Enrollment Planning, School Operations, Capital Planning, Special Education, Advanced Learning and English Language Learning departments, who use current enrollment numbers in determining staffing adjustments.


Additionally, Enrollment Planning also  takes into account other factors in staffing allocations, including projected changes, expected attrition, historical trends in enrollment for each school as well as unique factors affecting each schools’ enrollment.  Each school is carefully reviewed for any factors which could impact the classroom.

To the issue of cutting staff, I am hearing from a lot of heartbroken schools.  I am buoyed by the positive attitudes from many principals who are trying to right their ships and keep the school on an even keel.  A number of schools are having meetings especially for parents in grade levels where a teacher is leaving.  

But here's one oddity (from Green Lake Elementary):

Here at Green Lake, even though we have more students than ever before, we do not qualify according to district formulas to keep the number of full time teacher positions we had to begin the year. These decisions were centrally made and follow a specific formula and budget. 

We knew we were taking a risk to add an extra classroom.   We chose to do this knowing that if we had to return students to their original placement we could do so knowing they would be going back into highly effective classrooms.  Ms. Nelson will continue with us as the math teacher due to the generosity of PTA funding this position during budget planning last year.  Intermediate teachers will be talking with students in their classrooms tomorrow to explain what will happen.  Our tentative plan is to have students start with their new teacher on Monday.

I'm sure there is some sort of explanation in the formula but honestly, if your school is bigger (even if not by much), you still shouldn't lose staff. 

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's how you lose count even with more kids:

Weighted Staffing Standards (WSS).

All kids don't "weigh" equal in the count. So if your school's % of kids who have no extra factors attached goes up, and you lose kids who "count more" like FRL, ELL, SpEd, etc, under WSS you have a lower score and thus get less. Some kids are worth "one kid", some kids are 1.5 kids, some kids are 1.3 kids - a kid who is FRL and SpEd is a different "score" than one who is only FRL, etc. (It's so reductive and awful).

So perhaps that is how some of the schools with *more* real kid bodies are being tagged with removals - their WSS score went down, due to changing demographics of the school, even though total # of children went up.

It sucks. And Tracy Libros was an expert at jiggling the WSS factors to minimize disruption as much as possible (because the WSS standards change EVERY year, they are NOT set, they are completely subject to administrative interpretation and change, completely).

-- Math Counts

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Math Counts.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Maybe Larry, the parents near the borders left because distance wise it is easiest for them and they (like many, many) are tired of the feckless SPS and Board?. On what facts did he derive his conclusion?

Anonymous said...

Is it really possible that a lot of parents near the border with other districts left Seattle because of the strike? I don't know many parents who would make that big a decision unless they assumed the strike would go on for a long time and/or they were just fed up with Seattle Public Schools and found a way to join another district at the last minute. Would love to see the numbers on this...

- Steve

Lynn said...

I looked at the September P223 to see what happened at JAMS. Here are the enrollment numbers - first the projection used for budgeting, then September actual:

6th 342, 318
7th 315, 314
8th 219, 196

There were 208 7th grade students at JAMS last June - so only 12 students at that grade level were lost.

TechyMom said...

Any board candidates reading this thread?

The board needs to set a policy that staff can never be removed due to October counts, only added. That means that every year, there will be a few classes that get lucky and have a smaller class size. That's ok. It is far better than the few unlucky classes causing ripples that impact whole schools.

This used to be allowed. My daughter's K class in 2009-10 had 2 classes of 20. The school decided to move the wait list and do 2 smaller classes, rather than one big class (high 20s IIRC). The next year, there was a k-1 split, which was a bad experience for the 1st graders in that class.

I think this changed as part of the big changes around NSAP. It is a failed policy, and needs to be put back. We should not be targeting class sizes at or above the contract limits. We should think of the contract limit as a the absolute top limit, and target around 80% of it.

Anonymous said...

And are the Highline, Renton, and Shoreline districts so open with extra space that they could so quickly take on 600+ students?
The Renton School District Enrollment web page states a student must provide a release from their boundary district, annually. There is a Choice Transfer Agreement Form that must be completed by the resident district. If this is true for this district and others, then wouldn't SPS know almost exactly how many students were being newly enrolled in other districts?

Disappointed in SPS

Lynn said...

TechyMom,

I think that can be done, but we'd have to budget operating levy dollars for it. The state allocates funding for teacher salary and benefits based on total enrollment, not enrollment by school. Before the NSAP the district could send late-enrolling students to schools that had over-hired. Now they have to move the teachers instead.

Anonymous said...

Bellevue or Mercer Island are more likely destinations than Highline or Renton. Few would choose Evergreen HS over Sealth, or Renton HS over Rainier Beach. WSDWG

Lynn said...

Disappointed,

That's a good point. If SPS released those students, they should have pulled these teachers before the school year started.

Anonymous said...

Nyland's attempt at spin is BS. The Interdistrict Release form that people complete when transferring out doesn't include "teacher strike" as a reason. Maybe they completed their transfers "during the strike", but that's because that's when school was starting elsewhere, duh. Here are the reasons listed on the form:

 The student’s financial, educational, safety, or health conditions would likely be improved.
 Attendance in the nonresident district is more accessible to the parent’s/guardian’s place of work or to the location of child
care.
 There is a special hardship or detrimental condition.
 The purpose of the transfer is for enrollment in an online course or school program offered by an OSPI-approved provider.
 Parent/guardian is an employee with the requested school district.

How I wish they'd add a box for "Our family got so fed up with the incompetence and mismanagement in this district that we just couldn't take it any more."

HF

Anonymous said...

My hunch would be that most of those kids had made other plans and the families did not notify Seattle Schools. Private school, moves, etc. And then the fact that the projection was just wrong. A 5 day strike at the beginning of school did not lose 675 students to neighboring districts.

Please

Anonymous said...

People I know who are going to Shoreline schools had decided long ago. I don't know if they let their assigned school know ahead of time or not. I don't know of anyone who decided to transfer due to the strike.

HP

Anonymous said...

Director Carr mentioned last night that part of the enrollment shortages happened when some schools lost too many students when wait lists were moved at other schools. Doesn't the District decide when a wait list can be moved, and they should know the enrollment and budget projections at each school, right? If so, why should the schools losing students do to the District moving other schools' wait lists have to pay the price?

She brought this up this during a discussion of the Student Assignment Plan. Evidently, staff are now proposing to dissolve wait lists prior to the start of school, maybe as early as June.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Wait lists should move over the summer. Dissolve right before school. Parents have begged for this for a decade or more. Teachers have begged for this for a decade or more. Principals have begged for this for a decade or more.

Apparently after 10 years the little lightbulb has lit up over the heads of Downtown. And eureka, Director Carr, hearing the tinkling of the little staff idea bell (having been oblivious to the resounding gong of parents/teachers/principals) is encouraging exploration of this novel idea.

Huzzah.

DistrictWatcher

Watching said...

:Nyland did add that they would be putting in some "hiring and travel restrictions" at the district level to help compensate for that loss to enrollment."

It is about time.

Melissa Westbrook said...

1) The Superintendent only stated one reason for the underenroll. There could be others but he did not state them. I doubt the underenroll was just due to the strike. It would behoove the Superintendent, when talking numbers, to be more clear.

2)Waitlists are another source of heartburn. I don't support dissolving them in the summer. My understanding -from years of talking to Tracy Libros -is that there is a lot of movement in the first two weeks of school. People don't show up or change their minds. To the best of my knowledge, parents haven't been begging for this change (at least not here).

tallynt said...

Last year Green Lake had intermediate classes of 31-32 each as we continued to get new students throughout the entire year. Any child that moves into the Green Lake neighborhood above I think 2nd grade will go to Green Lake because they are not eligible for McDonald or Stanford. In the last two years we have increased in size by almost 80 students due to the increased boundaries created with an addition of 1 kindergarten, 1 primary and 1 intermediate class (this is the one being dissolved). In addition, last year we saw an increase in the number of students who didn't speak english. Our principle had to fight tooth and nail to get extra support for the office even though our numbers said we should automatically receive help and to get a half time English aid. With all of these changes, it feels like our school gets absolutely no help from the district. I'm sure there are many schools who feel this way. We have quite an active PTA but this is absolutely ridiculous. Schools should not be pitted against one another, we are all in this together, we are educating the future. What the hell does one need to do in this district to get some positive change?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, people not showing up is one thing, but I don't believe we can give flexibility for people to "change their minds". Set a deadline for deciding that is before school starts and teachers start planning, and stick to it. I'm all for choice, but once you have a choice, you have to make it.

Steve

Benjamin Leis said...

In case anyone's forgotten last year's iteration of teacher cuts. We've set a precedent that the district can remove teachers in October and force the community to raise their entire salaries for the year. (Several other terms for this practice come to mind)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/friends-of-gatewood-elementary-deliver-on-goal-to-keep-a-teacher/

Melissa Westbrook said...

Steve, the point is there are those who saying they are going to a school, those who want to go and then the first days of school the former doesn't show up so the latter has no chance to get in?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Alki is having a GoFundMe to raise funds for their teacher.

It's nuts to feel you have to do this.

Levies, kids, levies.

Anonymous said...

So I'm new to this whole SPS and dysfunction thing, but in case people are motivated enough and fed up with this latest sudden crisis that will ultimately hurt our children, parents across affected schools are planning on attending the Candidates Forum this evening and making the most of the fact that media will be there covering the event. We're bringing our kids (since they're the ones that ultimately suffer and those making decisions should see and be confronted by the very children they're making decisions about), and making signs. Please, if you're able to, lend your voice and support to somehow call attention to the dysfunction that is going on in the SPS.

Anonymous said...

Bryant is going to be asking for parents & staff to pay to save their position heading up Interventions and Extensions.

Cargopants

Anonymous said...

I withdrew my current 6th grader in late June, via the online form.

I continued to receive everything - every single thing - from the MS s/he would have gone to. I eventually called the MS office and left a detailed message with the kid's id number and everything, telling them we had withdrawn, b/c I wanted them to do the right class schedule planning for other kids - not have my phantom kid taking a class space.

So my kid is probably one of those missing 600plus students - no fault of mine. Poor systems (hey! let's redo SPS systems!)

-- Math Counts

Anonymous said...

Nope, Melissa, staff and parents have wanted waitlists to be moved and then dissolved far earlier for years. Years. That doesn't mean there won't still be movement in Sept. It means staff has gotten off their @$$e$ in the summer months and have filled in known holes. It means the voluntary movement happens before September. When waitlists move earlier the house of cards that is September enrollment collapses at an earlier time, not when schools are on their knees, sidelined by lost teachers because of poor projections.

Q: When was the last time SPS did a great job with demography? A: Never.

Move the waitlists earlier. Dissolve them prior to school start. Parents way happier. Staff happier. Principals happier.

Now I know this doesn't take care of overenrollment. Kids will always show up in Sept, wanting a spot in the neighborhood school. Fine. Adjust the )@!*#@*&# staffing formulas. You can't run a system based on 100 percent capacity. Can't do it.

Besides: Dissolving wait lists doesn't mean families can't get a spot in even a choice school in Sept. It just means the waitlists wouldn't be the way to get in. The way to fill those remaining holes would be for the flipping staff downtown to pick up their flipping phones. When the waitlists dissolve it would be first ask-first in. Speaking of ask: Ask any administrator. Any parent. Half the problem is staff won't pick up their phones. Staff picks up the phones, remaining holes get filled, schools don't lose staff in the middle of fall quarter.

Should I keep ranting? I really should. Flippin lack of planning and systems downtown and lack of listening to calls to fix the system means we all have to freak out yet again.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

@Math Counts
Same thing happened to me! I called to unenroll my 6th grader and was told I couldnt do it over the phone I had to download and mail in forms. I was out of the country and that was impossible so I figured I tried to do the right thing but was foiled by SPS bureaucracy.

2boysclub

Anonymous said...

It seems once again like the WSS is a huge issue.

You cannot fund and target schools at maximum capacity. Maybe it works for providing some additional resources for kids on FRL. But for special Ed? It should be based on IEP needs. For ELL? Based on need. For general education, based on bodies in seat - preferably by grade. And those bodies can't be planned for some ridiculous maximum capacity. Then lock it August 15 so they can hire - no changes for the year unless the +/- is more than 10% per grade. Why on earth don't we plan for something semi-reasonable (in comparison) like up to 24-25 per class per grade = 1 teacher. If you add kids then you have the wiggle room. If you lose some kids, well, you'll probably fill those seats a bit later in the year anyway.

North Seattle

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

In regard to Wait List moves…sooner vs. later is definitely better. It is tough for families who experience a boundary change after an older is already enrolled and younger are yet to come – it is many anxiety ridden YEARS of waiting, not a few summer months.

The District is just plain unpredictable, so you just don’t know when a last moment change will ‘pop’ in after open enrollment that will impact your family for many years to come. Will there be a boundary change? A change in HCC sites? Or, some other completely new unpredictable change. The lack of predictability, predictably leaves families without trust and on edge.

For predictable wait list accepts – such as an older sibling at the school – a few less months of stress is truly a blessing. It is a Summer without being tethered to e-mail, and not experiencing an extreme emotional surge at each ping or ring of some device hoping that it is some good news of your child being off of the wait list.

I would agree sooner vs. later. But, would not agree with a dissolve of the wait list before the start of school unless there is a change in how students are counted, and a defined space availability at schools.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Anonymous speaking about Lowell...there is no explanation for the math or anything else. That your school is losing any teachers, after all the messing around the District has done with you, is simply appalling. Our school is also losing a teacher, but I feel particularly outraged about what they've done to you. Very sorry...

- Steve

Anonymous said...

Wow, the District is really, really trying to pull a fast one.

Parents, don't bite.

Fight the FTE pulls, fight until you are satisfied that you have been given all the information and can see reasonable justification for what they are trying to do.

Don't just accept the cut and try and fund it via fundraising. The District could pay for the teachers if they really, really wanted to.

It seems like some schools have been particularly hard done by, and that there are unique circumstances in some communities that warrant tapping reserves to pay for teachers so that those teachers don't get cut. If the district is not going to lay off or reduce pay for the multiplicity of suits downtown, then, take from reserves.

At one of my kids' buildings, the principal put on a brave face tonight and said all was okay, and the gullible PTSA jumped in happily, even though they did nothing useful, and what little they did, was make ineffective suggestions with a very laid back demeanor late in the day. As if that is going to have an impact.

In this case, the District precipitously informed the principal on Monday that 2.4FTE were being cut over 40 student shortage. Those 40 missing students turned out to be illusory. They were not actual missing students, they were missing projections. Dr. Libros, we miss you. Turned out to be the District's unfathomable error, because real enrollment grew in absolute terms from last June to this September, AND, the cohorts survived pretty much intact as grades progressed (e.g., virtually the same number of 7th graders now as 6th graders last year, and same number of 8th graders now as we had last year as 7th graders, and, the incoming 6th grade class was about the same size as last year's incoming 6th grade class). Pulling the 2.4 teachers throws the school into chaos. Our excellent principal is doing all that she can to make it work; she got very creative and stripped out budget for supplies, sub time, professional development, discretionary, etc, to push money into restoring the 2.4 as much as she could. The District today said they would restore .5. So, the children got shorted 1.9 teachers. And the PTSA takes this statement and says it is all good? They don't seem to understand the roll (support and advocate for the students in the building) they should be playing in this. Politely accepting 'it is all good' is puzzling, because it is NOT A DONE DEAL! Not by a long shot. I think when the District realizes that in the mind of the public, they just put into play all new secondary schools, and this move once it is fully digested by the larger public will risk further eroding public trust and confidence (if that is even possible), they will realize they are making a huge strategic mistake, all of over 1.9 FTE. So, the District is considering what it is going to do. This case is not over. I don't think the PTSA even realizes this. But meanwhile, parents have been mollified by the announcement, without realizing their kids just got had. The school is still down 1.9 FTE, only, magic and painful shuffling by a heroic principal is going to blunt the full force of that hit and push the pain everywhere else. Classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. IMHO, the PTSA should not step in to try and hustle money to pay for those basics, at least not until they've waited until the final decisions are made. The PTSA could at least mount a 5 day proper fight before turning to the parents to fundraise.

So, keep on fighting. Fight for the kids. They deserve better. It is not about getting more money right now from the Olympia, that is a long-haul and systemic problem to work on; the teacher pulls are all about spending the money we do have better. That is the urgent focus of this crisis.

Tired Optimist


Anonymous said...

Tired Optimist is most likely talking about JAMS. Yeah, they were celebrating getting 0.5 FTE (it is better than nothing), and parents are now supposed to step up and fundraise like mad to make up the other 2 FTE funding gap? Because, you know, HCC parents.

Bryantmom said...

From Bryant:
"The Bryant PTSA Board and Bryant staff have come up with a plan to save the Intervention and Extension program and retain Jessica James in her 2nd grade classroom.

The Bryant staff is invested in saving this program for this year, and they've also made a one-time pledge of their own dollars out-of-pocket to support it. Additionally, the building plans to use reserve funds for the Intervention and Extension program. PTSA Board members have also pledged their own dollars out-of-pocket to save the program. A PTSA budget reallocation is also in the plan (see below). An additional amount of money, about 15% of the total $80k cost of continuing this program, will need to be raised through the rest of this school year. But right now all we need is a declaration of support from the Membership."

NEMom said...

It seems to me there are two issues at hand:
1. SPS incompetence for not optimizing systems and policies
2. Educational funding (McCleary) and 1351 -- $$ would allow schools to not have to plan to 100% capacity.

Am I wrong?

NEMom

Anonymous said...

Back of the envelope calculation for the average "ask" is $200 per JAMS family with 100% participation and around $400 per family with 50% participation (more likely scenario). That's in addition to what families need to contribute to support other extras, such as music, field trips, etc.

Anonymous said...

So the district comes up with enrollment and staffing projections for each school early on, and then principals hire and plan based on this, is that correct? Is that based on those May projections?

Then October rolls around and there are cuts and adds and chaos and outcry. But I'm wondering, why are principals surprised by the cuts? Are their actual enrollment numbers hidden to them before school starts? Or do they have an opportunty to see that enrollment is higher/lower than projected, so they can adjust their plan and staffing in advance? Are they being overly optimistic and happily believing they'll get the add'l staff, even when a more cautious approach might be prudent? Or is there truly no way any of the schools losing teachers could have seen this coming?

This is not to suggest the district's system isn't problematic, because it clearly creates a lot of turmoil. But I'm wondering if principals are exacerbating the problem by going full steam ahead even in the face of uncertainty? I'm not trying to blame, just trying to understand.

HF

Anonymous said...

Melissa: I don't see how you and the commenters here can be so convinced that the main enrollment issues were not strike-related. Everyone posting so far has ignored the Superintendent's claim that the previous year they had about 350 transfers out of district and this year they had over 1000.

If it wasn't the strike, what other explanation is there for that sudden year-over-year change?

PB

Anonymous said...

@ HF
At attendance area schools, there are always some no-shows in the first few weeks of school. Some students may have moved out of District, moved elsewhere in the District, chosen an out-of-district school, etc... Some of these situations could be tracked by SPS, but some just don't show up, and those are hard to plan for. A Principal isn't going to know about them until school starts. I think most principals are conservative in their staffing because of this. It is my impression that option schools have fewer no-shows, due to the open enrollment process.

What irks me is when wait lists are moved at the last minute (just prior to the Oct 1 count), and this wait list movement results in enrollment losses large-enough to trigger staffing pulls. SPS should NOT be creating enrollment deficits by moving wait lists.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Tired Optimist,
No one is stopping you from continuing to advocate for your school. Instead of anonymous name calling on a blog (gullible PTSA), why don't you contact the PTSA reps. Families are the PTSA (along with teachers). If families want to do more/change course/etc, the PTSA will do it. It's a representative organization, there's no magic, just a bunch of parents working to do their best for/with the school and kids... Everyone has a different definition of best. More feedback means more informed decision making. There's a board meeting on Monday in the library and email addresses went out yesterday via school messenger.

HabitualReader

Anonymous said...

@ North-end Mom, if something is "always" that way, shouldn't it be easier to plan for? If the district projects and budgets based on 800 in the spring, but you have 750 enrolled in Aug, and you know you always have no-shows, hire based on a number lower than that projected 800. But it sounds like you think principals are already conservative in their staffing. If that's the case, a school losing 2.4 FTE now is losing 2.4 from a total staff that was already under the budgeted staffing, so this would be an ever greater cut from the projection? So the 2.4 to cut might actually represent a 3FTE reduction from budget?

HF

Anonymous said...

"If it wasn't the strike, what other explanation is there for that sudden year-over-year change?"

Hmm....

Could it be the ridiculous 3-tier busing system? Maybe those living at the fringes of the District are tired of the long bus rides, and have decided it is worth looking elsewhere?

Could it be the lack of support for advanced learners in our "neighborhood schools" and the ever-changing screening criteria for AL testing?

Could it be the upcoming boundary changes that will impact nearly every elementary school north of 95th St?

Could it be due to the upcoming opening of two new middle schools and the uncertainty of support for those schools?

Could it be due to there being NO PLAN for the impending HS enrollment crisis, and concern that there will be high school in shifts?

Could it be due to the endless hours wasted by assessments like Amplify?


Could it be due to the continued hiring of high-level execs downtown while our schools are inadequately-supported by the WSS?

Could it be due to "October surprises" becoming the district routine?

Could it be due to the on-going overcrowding at our schools?

I think any or all of those reasons are more plausible than pinning it on the strike.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I also think principals are typically very conservative in their hiring(and often save some hiring until right before school starts when they have a better idea). But they also don't know what is going to happen to their FRL, ELL, or SPED percentages, and just have to rely on the previous year. It sounds like at JAMS some of that went down (which I know the principal knew would happen to some degree because of the incoming demographics, but it did even more than the school thought.). This is especially terrible to me for schools on the margins- ok, things have gotten slightly better for families, or worse, the programs are WORKING so the kids don't need services, so here we're going to yank teachers 6 weeks in.

Even when schools add staff I don't think it's really good news. Better than losing, obviously, but the way we do it everybody kind of loses. At the elementary level, for example, I am unsure of whether I would prefer 28 kids all year or 23 but having to start all over a month into the year (so pretty much losing a month). I think they need to just go with their projections, and only add. Maybe only add if the numbers are way over. And also agree at elementary this needs to be grade by grade only, and secondary schools should be almost entirely immune. I could see secondary schools potentially dealing with adds easier. At least for certificated teachers. Staff is a little different.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

@HF

The no-shows, etc... would be taken into account as part of the projections, right? So maybe what was projected was too high in the first place? Just guessing on my part.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Here at Green Lake, even though we have more students than ever before, we do not qualify according to district formulas to keep the number of full time teacher positions we had to begin the year.

It's not clear from this quote what is actually going on with the numbers at Green Lake. It could be that they started the year with more teachers than last year, and more students than ever before but still fewer than projected so some teachers were cut. So the total number of teachers left could be more or less than last year- impossible to know from the way it is being framed. If there are fewer teachers than last year, while there are more students, then yes that is outrageous.

I'm not doubting that Green Lake is being dealt a bad hand by the district- it's just hard to understand what is going on from what is being said, and so far what I've read hasn't sparked my sense of outrage.

-Fuzzy Numbers

Anonymous said...

I bet if there were a policy that no teachers would be lost once the school year got going the projections would suddenly get a *lot* better. Or a lot more conservative.

For what it's worth, Viewlands Elementary seems to be gaining a staff member, from what I've heard... I wasn't at the PTSA meeting where it was announced but that's what my spouse reported to me. That's a school that is growing by leaps and bounds and it's going to run out of space pretty soon.

-Viewlands Parent

Anonymous said...

I have a *great* idea- instead of firing teachers when projections are off, fire the projectors (projectionists?)! For every 200 students over/under counted, a district staff member must go. Then they will see what it feels like. Maybe they will start answering their phones when they actually *feel* the impact of their own mistakes.

-Tough Noogies

Anonymous said...

Projectionists! Love it! I had images of the Great and Powerful Oz in my head after reading that one! :)

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Sounds perfect to me. They should bear the brunt of their undercounting, not students. If 25 FTE need to go(is it 25 FTE? Or from 25 schools?), they should all be at district headquarters. If it is illegal to run a deficit, don't. Fire 4 regional executive directors and you have probably 12 teachers' salaries right there, right? Or if this is shuffling because say 10 need to go and 6 need to be added somewhere, just fire enough to hire 6 new ones for the adds.

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

1) To those who complain about not being able to get a live person on the phone at JSCEE, add me to the list. (Save Customer Service but they never have any answers.)

2) "Educational funding (McCleary) and 1351 -- $$ would allow schools to not have to plan to 100% capacity."

I will hope that Kellie LaRue will weigh in (or another capacity specialist) but no school should be working to 100% capacity. One, because that leaves zero room for anyone who moves to town (and they seem to be doing that in ever larger numbers). Two, it taxes the entire building to be that full.

The whole issue of funding for students versus funding for facilities is murky but I do not believe the state funding IS to cover building costs as well. That money has to go for teaching and learning and overhead.

Thank you NE Mom for answering the question if not the strike, then why would people be gone? It was not the strike.

Patrick said...

How can they just shut down the enrollment office in the summer? Schools shut down because summers off is good for the students and teachers in lots of ways. But the enrollment office is clerical staff. Why don't they work year-round and schedule vacations so that some staff available throughout the year?

Outsider said...

Here is a guess why enrollment numbers were lower than expected, which has nothing to do with the strike: at some load level of soaring rents, car tabs, and everything else, the working camel's financial back breaks and families with children start to leave.

The city elites think the Emerald City can only keep growing because it's so wonderful. And they are right, at least for now. But at some point, the nature of the growth shifts: from a cross section of society to just young, single brogrammers, Chinese investors, and the rich.

TechyMom said...

why the bump in transfers and no shows? I see two potential reasons. One is that the first wave of the baby boom (my child's class, the kids who started K in 2009-10) is hitting middle school this year, and middle schools are really crowded. Because that's a promotion year, it's a natural point for people to look at other options like moving to Bellevue, private school, and out of district transfers. One of the private schools we applied to said that applications were up 40% this year.

The other is that things just keep getting worse in SPS. The frog eventually boils and dies. People who would normally not even consider out of district, moving to the suburbs or private school are doing just that in larger numbers. The district thought enrollment growth was because they were doing such an awesome job, and estimated based on that, not on population growth with a growing contingent of people who don't want to buy what they're selling.

Anonymous said...

TechyMom is spot on...And the schools and kids are paying for it, while the high-paid "capacity managers" breathe a sigh of relief.

- reality check

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

TechyMom has good insights on the off numbers and yes, the charter schools could have taken some. (Of course, if the Court upholds the decision - and I think they will thus kicking the funding issue straight to the Legislature - who knows? We may be welcoming back some kids.)

kellie said...

With regard to this question

2) "Educational funding (McCleary) and 1351 -- $$ would allow schools to not have to plan to 100% capacity."


Education funding at both the State and Local Levy level is divided into two buckets - education services and education facilities. McCleary is primarily focused on the education services portion.

While from the parents point of view, things are clearly linked (aka class size reduction will increase your need for facilities), they are not linked at all from the funding point of view.

Anonymous said...

Tagging onto Kellie's important point: The lack of funding "therefores" between education services and facilities is one of many reasons WA legislators are doing their best to run from the voter-approved class size reduction initiative. Smaller class sizes leads to the need for more facility space. Legislature is staring at an empty funding well there in addition to McCleary education services demands. Of course, legislature sticking their fingers in their ears doesn't negate the need for more facility funding RIGHT NOW in addition to the much larger needs that would come into play if action were taken class size reduction beyond the earliest grade school years (which legislature is sort of onboard with).

CapacityWonk

kellie said...

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics ... is a famous quote for a very good reason. Throwing around certain cherry-picked numbers without the context winds up being meaningless.

So the assertion that previously there were 300 students enrolled in neighboring districts and now there are 1,000 so that is where the other 600 students are AND they are there because of the strike is an example of fallacious reasoning in so many dimensions. Both in the actual numbers themselves and the attribution analysis.

I have requested (for many, many years now) that the enrollment reports include a line item for Seattle students enrolled in other districts. I have requested that this line item be included because it is always a major risk factor that the neighboring district can close their doors at any moment and those students will be required to be absorbed by Seattle. This happened a few years ago when the Hollywood school district closed their doors to Los Angeles and all those students needed to be immediately accommodated and there was no plan.

I have no truly current data on out-of-district enrollment as I haven't dug through all of the OSPI reports to track this, very simple number for SPS to generate. However, I do know that back in 2008 (ish) there were about 700 students enrolled in just Shoreline alone, with the bulk of those students at the high school level.

Because the "choice plan" meant that families that lived north of 125th in Seattle were unable to get an Eckstein placement, many of those families routinely picked Shoreline schools for middle school and high school.

Therefore without an actual trend line of some sort that shows out of district enrollment over .. at least 10 years, it is impossible to attribute out of district enrollment to the strike.

There are hundreds of reasons, families would go out of district at this point - relative stability, more reasonable bell times, greater access to electives at secondary, etc.

Plus the current question I get the most from parents .... where do I need to live so that my student won't be geo-split in high school. The notion that you can start and finish at the same high school. It turns out that is very important to some people.




Broken flowers said...

"Viewlands... is growing by leaps and bounds and it's going to run out of space pretty soon."

That's very interesting. Nearby Broadview Thomson had more than 750 students three years ago and this year has 615. Because of these numbers this week they lost 2.0 certificated FTE and 2.0 parapro FTE.

Nobody has explained why that school has lost so many students -- or why 1/4 of all their staff quit over the summer.

kellie said...

So on the attribution analysis part ....

Projections were short by 675 students. There is only one place where the 675 number matters - the TOTAL BUDGET.

When SPS does the total budget, as the budget is based on TOTAL ENROLLMENT, the number that projections were short by 675 students, means that the budget is now short by ... probably about $3M. Now $3M is real money that will no longer be in the budget and that is a real and meaningful number. And the statement, "the 2015 budget is now short $3M because projections were short 675 students" is a meaningful statement.

But otherwise, that number is completely useless, without the rest of the context of enrollment. Over the years, parents have been able to provide very helpful insights about enrollment patterns that would not make sense from the pure demographic based projections.

Here are some examples of insights for "unknown" enrollment patterns.

- in 2011, Garfield was dramatically over-enrolled. The 9th and 10th grade projections were spot-on. However, the 11th and 12th grade had a huge "unknown" increase. it was obvious that it was worth it to transfer to Garfield for just two years.

- The new housing development at Magnuson meant greater than expected enrollment at Sandpoint Elementary.

- my favorite - the year that Pay for K prices were centralized and nearly doubled, K enrollment was dramatically down (in only some areas) and the subsequent year, first grade enrollment was up.

675 students could be anything from .... 52 students per grade evenly distributed across the district - - something like one student, per grade, per school to ... huge clumps of specific grades and limited geographic patterns.


Anonymous said...

Shoreline's enrollment for out of district closed for K-6 for this school year IN FEBRUARY of last year. http://schools.shorelineschools.org/childrenscenter/2015/02/13/district-closed-to-new-non-resident-applications-for-grades-k-6-for-2015-16/

-WhereDaKids?

Anonymous said...

“new formula, new ratio” was applied to the budget for K-3 classes in Schmitz Park

from http://westseattleblog.com/2015/10/followup-questions-advocacy-emerge-as-teacher-cut-news-circulates-at-local-schools/

Something smells fishy...

-yumpears

mirmac1 said...

Given that this year SPS does not see fit to divulge actual discrepancies between May projections and Oct "actuals" tells me they are hiding something. I suspect it is their intent on following their original specious negotiating strategy that SPS decides just how many teachers and IAs they think our kids REALLY deserve...

Why would SEA allow this crap to come to fruition?!

Anonymous said...

Sooooooooooo...
If kids left one district for another and it's partly because of the strike, then it should be an occurrence that is mostly near district boundaries. Oh wait, it's not. It happened all over.
It also should be something that is specific to this year, since this was the first strike in 30 years. Oh wait, it's not. It happens all the time.

Kate Sipe

Anonymous said...

Broken Flowers, Broadview-Thomson's enrollment went down due to boundary changes. Previously, the attendance area included East of Aurora and further South.

LAP

Anonymous said...

Broken Flowers,

I forgot to mention that the drop in enrollment had nothing to do with cutting the 2 SpEd IA positions. That happened because the new contract eliminates IA support from the Resource Room if the school has ACCESS programs. BT has 3 ACCESS programs. This is true for any school with a "continuum of services." There are no more IAs for Resource Rooms if the schools has a "continuum of services."

LAP