Thursday, October 29, 2015

Follow-Ups and Did You Know?

Did you know that the district has rank ordered programs/support activities in district buildings?  The reasoning is two-fold - for enactment of 1351 for smaller class sizes in K-3 and the growth in Seattle Schools.  Here's the list from a letter that Flip Herndon sent on Oct. 13, 2015 to "Seattle Public School Partners:"

1.       K-12 Instruction
2.       Preschool (because it requires dedicated space and licensing)
3.       Before and After Care (because it is more flexible in utilizing multi-use space)
4.       Other Youth Activities
5.       All other Activities

Currently, it looks like most of the impact will happen at the elementary level of buildings, but this space prioritization is applicable to all buildings. Additionally, an evaluation of space needs will happen on an annual basis and any impact to an organization or partner would be communicated as soon as possible to allow time transition. Just because you are receiving this letter, does not mean that you are losing space that is currently being used. This is a general notification. In the event that the space currently being used by your organization needs to be prioritized for K-12 instruction, a specific letter referring to the applicable lease would be sent with a timeline attached.

You see that? Pre-K BEFORE other before/after school care.  

Budget Items from the Work Session:

Budget presentation (scroll down in document to see it).   Really interesting page 6 which is the Current Year Enrollment by Grade Band (prior three years plus a 10 year previous).  The growth has been largely in  grades 1-5 and high school enrollment has decreased since 2006.

Upside: potential prior year carryover support, teacher reassignments for adjusted enrollment and possible decrease in transportation expenditures.

Downside: acutal enrollment budget variance ($4.3M) and SEA labor contract above anticipated budget ($3.5M)

So the staffing adjustments are both a good and bad thing for the district's budget.  Interesting.

As well they are still waiting for find out about the OSPI/DoE SPED funding holdback of $3M.  The other unresolved issue is "unfunded needs" at $71M.  They identify these as:
  • add 5 minutes to lunch/recess
  • bell time shift
  • African-American Initiative (which I believe only applies to boys)
  • Close Opportunity GAP (sic)
  • Sped/ELL program expansion
  • start of school process improvements
  • IB funding
  • School funding model enhancements
  • Restoration of pre-recession central operations support
I do not know what the second to last item means and I can't believe they want more money to central but there it is. 
Speaking of enrollment, here are the latest numbers as reported at the Work Session yesterday (which I only picked up the handouts and did not hear the discussion.) 

2014-2015 Oct 1 headcount           52,060
Projected 2015-2016 headcount     53,090  (a difference of 1,030 students)
Actual 2015-2116 headcount          52,324  (a difference of 766 student under)

So the actual growth for this year is only 264 students which is down from the 411 figure that Superintendent Nyland gave at Board meetings in the last month.  (See page 6.)

On staffing cuts, I want to point out the plight at Lowell.  They are serving a number of homeless students (last year, adding 20 children in kindergarten with 10-15 additional students who are homeless/transitional, in grades 1-5.)  Lowell also serves kids with life-threatening medical issues.  They have about 31 children in this category.  Even though these children are high-risk, very few have 1:1 support so all teachers/staff have to work to support them.  Adding to that, this is year three of the district encouraging families children with vision needs (including blindness) to attend Lowell.  The WSS adds weighting for deaf/hard of hearing students but not those with vision impairments. 

That's a lot for one school to take on AND to see their staffing cut.  

 I am hearing about other schools with higher numbers of homeless students.  I am told by Garfield PTSA that they have at least 200 students.  

Also, a reader sent me this link to Board Policy 6010, School Funding Model.  As the reader said, this almost seems like a "parallel universe" considering the lack of transparency in the school funding model and difficult in understanding it.

I also want to do an update on some capital issues, specifically at Loyal Heights, Cedar Park/John Rogers/Olympic Hills but that will be a separate thread.


Ed said...

Since when did "central" lose anything in the "recession"?

The facts show that central fte's have grown like weeds since 2005.

Just gimmie some truth.

Carol said...

Is there any way to know what the optimal capacity of a seattle public school is supposed to be. How do we know if a school is over capacity, using portable or otherwise overcrowded? I am looking at a bunch of public school options and I can't seem to find an optimal size relative to current size anywhere.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the budget presentation from the work session, you'll see that "backfunding grants" comes in at $5 mil and the way it's presented sure looks like that's a higher priority than paying the teachers. Of course, coming from Central that figures, huh! You'll also see that the staff has made a few early suggestions of how to close the budget gap. There are dollar amounts attached to each savings. At the bottom of the slide, clearly there to throw a bone to the public and without any enthusiasm or real data dive is the suggestion Central Staff Cuts. Followed by a bunch of question marks.

I have a couple of early ideas myself. Grant is out? Stop funding it. Want to keep funding it? Use the operating dollars from the ridiculous number of other grants that have turned into operating obligations. Cancel those projects instead. Sheesh.

As for the cuts at Central? Yes please. And move the item up on the slide. And attach $1 mil as a starting discussion point. Now we're talking.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Carol, that's generally a moving target. It really depends on the programming in the school (specialty things like Sped or ELL). It also depends on how many kids the district actually WANTS in a school.

For example, Cleveland can hold about 950 students but has about 860. And a waitlist.

Eckstein got slightly smaller because of JAMS and that should have held given how unhappy parents were about the crowding but recently, at least 20 JAMS students on the waitlist for Eckstein, got moved to Eckstein.

I don't have the capacity list link handy; any readers out there that do?

Anonymous said...

When Flip says, K-12 Priority, I assume that it is just a minor oversight to once again forget to mention Special Education Preschool Programs. You know those legally mandated programs that Seattle has been operating for 35 years: the first ones to get moved when a building gets "crowded." I guess its easy to move them since they don't require licensing like the City Preschools for "typical kids" do. Yes, it's complicated, but lets not forget anyone here.

Hey, maybe he is including them in the second priority: Preschool. Any way to find out????


Voting Geary said...

"As well they are still waiting for find out about the OSPI/DoE SPED funding holdback of $3M.

Another good reason to vote for Jill Geary. She is the only candidate with the skills and knowledge to assure the district is in compliance with special ed. issues.

Geary was OSPI.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know if there is any way (maybe from the Oct headcount?) to get an approximation of how many classes per grade and kids per class at each school now? Particularly elementary. I can't find it on the SPS website.

North Seattle

Anonymous said...

You mean the same OSPI that should have prevented the SPED failure in the first place?

The same OSPI that's letting the district off the hook with a MOU?

So, you must mean the same Geary that has taken campaign contributions from layers that sued special ed families?

Did I leave out anything, voting Geary? Glad you told me Geary was OSPI.

Are you one of her $71,000 contributors?

Will delete

Anonymous said...

Enrollment data is on the Research and EVal page. Look for the OCtober 2015 p223 report
Can't post link from phone.


Anonymous said...


Thanks! That's exactly what I was looking for.

North Seattle

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

Huh? Jill Geary served as an administrative law judge that included OSPI cases, but she was never involved in their policymaking side. To say she "was OSPI" is not totally accurate, though I do agree she has a great deal of knowledge about how OSPI works from her time as an administrative law judge and as an attorney representing parents in special education cases.

See for yourself here:

mirmac1 said...

Board Policy 4120 reads:

First priority of use shall be for school programs. Second priority shall be for programs provided by the Seattle Parks Department under the JUA. Third priority shall be for programs which support youth education, as described below. Last priority shall be for other community uses.

Definition of Support of Youth Education The Board encourages the development of robust out-of-school-time programs which support youth education. Such activities increase success in school and prepare students to succeed as adults. Such activities could include, but are not limited to, those that benefit students in one or more of the following areas: academics (including the arts and foreign languages), tutoring, reading and other supplemental education classes; dance, art and sports programs, self-esteem and confidence, social skills, technical skills, problems solving skills, health and fitness, college and life readiness skills, family engagement activities, parenting skills classes for parents and similar activities primarily directed to enhance and enrich childhood experiences
No mention of preschool

Superintendent Procedure 4260SP reads:
A. First Priority – Seattle School District Programs. The district has priority use of its facilities for instruction and other aspects of the school’s education
B. Second Priority – Seattle Parks and Recreation.
C. Third Priority – Support of Youth Education. Support of Youth Education is
defined in Policy 4260.

Flip is either making this *&%$ up or someone forgot who sets district policy.

mirmac1 said...

Will delete,

Please do. Geary's contributions stand at $53K while McGuire's are at $42K. You appear to count a loan to the campaign. Nice try.

Of course McGuire's would've been nearer Dale-Estey's $150K (plus $30K in "independent expenditures"), except for some reason the wealthy patrons who are used to buying their candidates have shied away. This is in no small part due to the incredible impact Sue Peters win and subsequent service has brought to the electorate.

The poster with the Geary was OSPI tagline was using editorial license. You're just spreading disinformation.

Tresanos said...

Hi Melissa and blog community,

I am looking forward to the thread on the inequitable Olympic Hils / Cedar Park boundary issue. Thanks North-End Mom for the informative posts. Folks, this stuff is really big. Please follow this situation closely! The institutional racism here is STUNNING. Read the info on the Olympic Hills PTA website for more info, Many readers on this site are likely not affected by poverty or language barriers: but we all know how SPS can disengage (vs. engage), obfuscate, or act to protect adults over kids. Reading the material about Olympic Hills, John Rogers, and Cedar Park, it's straight-up racism. I'd like to see the parent community represented in this fabulous blog rise up and get active (email board, etc.) to same degree we are willing to about math issues, advanced learning, etc. Let's SPEAK UP together for families in support of families who aren't as versed in institutions as many of us are.

Anonymous said...

First, given a lifetime as a minority (jus' sayin') and years in district advocacy, I've learned to take others' cries of racism with a grain of salt. It great when there is full and ample evidence that the claims made (with full disclosure from every perspective) are not motivated by some personal interest. "Natural" boundaries are not somehow sancrosanct. You'll find some "natural" boundaries seem to skew closely to socio-economic boundaries. Other boundaries make no logical sense but are driven by locations of schools built over 50 years ago but now surrounded by skewed densities.

Some recent posts re: CP are not convincing. Provide more evidence.


Anonymous said...

A gentle correction on the policy quote above by Miramac1…the text is actually from Use of School Facilities procedure 4260, not from 4120 (which is regarding School-Support Organizations).

It is important to make the distinction between facility use that is hourly and short-term (non-exclusive use that generally requires using the reservation system to reserve a library, gym, auditorium, classroom, etc.) and facility use that is covered by leases or other agreements, such as when a community partner moves in and exclusively occupies a space for an extended period.

When Mirmac1 first posted the letter from Herndon on October 13, I noticed Herndon's strange wording introducing the priority list. It said: "The following is the list of prioritization related to non-hourly before/after hourly use:" No policy or procedure was mentioned in the letter and "non-hourly before/after hourly use" makes no sense. Which is it? Hourly or non-hourly? And is it talking about longer-term exclusive use of space or before/after school use of shared space? Procedure 4260 SP (Use of School Facilities) specifically applies to hourly use and the "Application" section of the procedure describes types of facility use not covered by this procedure, but which are supposed to be covered in other policies and procedures.

From Use of School Facilities 4260 Procedure (emphasis mine):

I. APPLICATION This procedure applies to short-term (12 months or less) and hourly use of school buildings, rooms and grounds for the following categories of use: (1) school programs, (2) supervised programs of the Seattle Parks Department under the Joint Use Agreement ("JUA"), (3) programs which support youth education (defined in Policy 4260), and (4) other community uses.

This procedure does not apply to facility use covered by leases. Seattle Public Schools Property Management uses a lease system consistent with Board-adopted policy to manage: leases of buildings that are no longer operating as schools under Policy 6882; longer-term uses (such as twice a week for longer than twelve weeks), and agreements (whether termed a lease, contract, or use permit) for exclusive use of a building or defined area of a school that precludes use of the space for educational programs, such as child care providers, school-based health centers, out-of-school time providers and similar partners under the Community Alignment Initiative (CAI) under School and Community Partnerships Policy 4265; and Lead Partners under Policy 4270.

I am most familiar with policy and procedure 4260, which were rewritten in spring and summer of 2013 and implemented in fall of 2013, followed by official approval by School Board and Superintendent. I'm less familiar with the policies and procedures covering non-hourly use. However, I will point out that the School and Community Partnership 4265SP is woefully out of date--something I pointed out to school board members, high ranking administrators and facility management many, many times in 2013 and 2014. 4265 was left outdated and in conflict with some of the changes to policy and procedure 4260.

I'm wondering if the use of "K-12" was shorthand or intentional. A broader terms such as "School District Programs" would seem be preferable, since it would reinforce that the highest priority (for both exclusive and hourly use) is always core SPS programs, including SPED preschool and the programs for special needs young adults.

Is the new prioritization supposed to apply to exclusive facility uses governed by leases, or only to hourly use? A policy or procedure reference in the letter would have helped clarify. Facility use discussions and procedures are muddy enough without conflating exclusive use and hourly use.

Is an existing superintendent's procedure is being revised in accordance with Herndon's letter and prioritization? And is the relevant policy being reviewed by the school board?

-Reluctant commenter

mirmac1 said...

Thanks for clarifying Reluctant commenter. Yes, it is a mess and yes it is hard to track when changes are made to Superintendent Procedures. They do not necessarily go before the board, and only as a "courtesy".

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the many criticisms one can rightfully point out on Flip's list; there is a real zinger!

"start of school process improvements"

That is our friend Bill! Guillermo "Bill" Echeverria, Director of Continuous Improvement, who works for our friend Chip, Charles "Chip" Wright!

Sucking at the teet. Nice. He's made himself a priority. Over and above students! How did we ever get along before Bill came? Or, for that matter, Chip? This, the guy who cut teachers yet who has never stepped foot in the buildings against whom he has cut away their teaching corps. Excellent!

So, just to be clear, it is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT that Bill gets some more money to think about how to cut staff than it is for Rainier Beach, Ingraham, and Sealth to get funds to pay for IB to support students!

Right, Flip, Ken? That is what the Super and Cabinet prioritize?

That is what you are telling us?

Funding suits downtown is a higher priority than kids in buildings learning?

Who are you?

How did you come to this conclusion?

Did you ask, for example, Martin Floe, principal of Ingraham, who has to scape bare bones to keep his school, populated by students with very diverse needs, going and ensure equity by meeting all of their different needs, and Floe just said, "Sure Flip, give Bill and his team of SOS more money to 'improve process' and we will just go without funds for our IB and other students?

I am voting NO on the levies. Until you prioritize children, you will NOT get the money. I will be pointing this list out to my friends and neighbors as to yet another example of how you are out of control and have lost your way.


kellie said...

@ waiting,

The initial report for the Cedar Park boundaries would have CP at 90% FRL, while making the adjoining schools (Olympic Hills and John Rogers) FRL drop dramatically.

Moreover, Cedar Park was funded ONLY as an interim building. It was pushed into BEX IV after the BEX IV vote, when it was finally clear that there simply was not enough interim space for the BEX IV plan to actually work. Cedar Park was not funded via BEX but rather by a State Grant.

The "plan" at that time was to add money for Cedar Park during BTA IV. However, Cedar Park is not on the BTA IV list and therefore will have facilities that are significantly below the educational standards for a full time (not interim) elementary school.

So, natural boundaries wind up absorbing almost all of the FRL in Lake City AND the gap in funding creates a substandard building.

That combination is what is creating the "other-cries-of-racism."

Anonymous said...

Looking at the Budget document - it's fascinating how many times "Central Cuts" appears, with what would appear to be some rather hefty dollar amounts attached and yet there are MORE high paid people at Central than ever before. How does that particular feat of magic happen.....

And I would agree with others who suggest "strategic initiatives" and "start of school process improvement" are two very obvious places where funding can wait...and wait...and wait.


Joe Wolf said...

Reply to Casey re. Pre-K

The #2 rank order for Pre-K refers to private Pre-k and the new City Pre-K. SpEd Pre-K is part of the District's core mission, it is included in rank order #`1.

Editorial by me: This is an example of taking a SPS internal communication and treating/broadcasting it as if it was public.

Joe Wolf said...

" ... an example of the confusion that can result by taking a SPS internal communication and treating/broadcasting it as if it was public."

mirmac1 said...

That's the rhetoric that causes this conflict Joe. There remains a, for lack of a better word, paternalistic attitude that the great unwashed masses of feeble-minded parents/guardians must be protected from themselves, lest they know the truth and, because of our small brain cavities, fail to comprehend what's good for us.

You may think I use hyperbole but I've seen the "internal communication" that say, essentially, that public information cannot be released lest it inconvenience staff to have to answer their customers' confused questions.

I am increasingly perturbed by this attitude at JSCEE. While some downtown feel affronted by the protests and raucous interruptions, at the same time these same few seem to think that its okay to embargo information, then spring it on us after staff has embedded itself into the minds and judgment of our volunteer, semi-informed board majority.

I have no qualms stating I was very pleased when the (lame-duck) board majority woke from it's slumber and said "uh, we don't have to rubberstamp the City preschool expansion before our data-loving district provides us data!"

Small victories add up to big ones.

Anonymous said...

Vote No,
Although I am sure you were just looking for a specific example of funding needs, your fictitious quote of me could confuse others. I would like the blog community to know that any comment attributed to me regarding any "Bill" never occurred and should be removed.
Thank you.
Martin Floe

GarfieldMom said...

Joe Wolf, I can understand that. I'm sure it is frustrating to have information get out into the public that hasn't been given any context. But they don't leave us any choice but to seek out documents they don't really want broadcast because they won't communicate clearly with us. And people are quick to jump to conclusions when they see those documents because no one trusts them to be doing the right thing or communicating what they are doing honestly. That's on them.

You're one of the few -- based on how people interact with you here -- that I think we parents feel can be trusted to be straight with us. I know when I read your comments here, I take them as accurate and truthful, and I'd have to have strong evidence to believe otherwise. Some of the other people at JSCEE? I figure they are lying if their lips are moving, and it would take mountains of evidence to get me to believe any differently.

mirmac1 said...

I was just lied to on Friday regarding a report sought by parents, and it pissed me off to no end. I'v amassed a pile of evidence that SPS does NOT comply with the Public Records Act.

Lynn said...

Yes - what's with "embargoed" documents? Friday Memos should be available on Friday.

Why aren't the math scope and sequence and links to suggested materials available on the website? These should not be hidden from parents.

Tresanos said...


Please read the materials I found at the Okympic Hills PTA website, Like many institutions, SPS has a history of institutional racism. My point was not that there is personal racism by any staffer, etc, involved in this decision. If you spend time reading the materials it may clarify.