From SPS Communications (to my e-mail at 5 pm):
Media: The following letter is being distributed to all SPS families this afternoon. It is a reminder of our annual required enrollment count process. We are still in the process of finalizing staffing adjustments at schools, therefore individual school information is not available at this time. Once adjustments are final, principals will communicate with their schools.
Every year at the start of the school, districts across Washington State go through a process of comparing enrollment projections with actual student counts. School districts receive state funding to pay for staffing based on actual student enrollment (counts) as of October 1st. Seattle Public Schools (SPS) undergoes a staffing adjustment process to monitor enrollment at every school, adjust staffing levels relative to actual student enrollment, and comply with negotiated staffing ratios. This process is not unique to Seattle; all districts undergo the same process of staffing adjustments by school relative to the actual numbers of students who enroll and attend. Staffing adjustment decisions are made to match student needs with limited staff resources across the district.
In Seattle, 52,399 students enrolled in the district this year, according to the 10-day student enrollment count. That is an increase of 411 students over last year. While we have more students this year, the number is lower than we projected by 675 students. This translates into $4.23 million in less revenue, not including the enrollment decline impact on Special Education, Transportation or Nutrition Services. The reduction in staffing allocations will reduce the impact of the loss of revenue. The number of students who left the school district to go to another is higher this year than last year.
As your principal may have shared with you, staffing adjustment recommendations were developed by a team of representatives from School Operations, Human Resources, Enrollment Planning, Special Education, Budget, Capital Planning, Continuous Improvement, and English Language Learning using enrollment data. The team considers multiple factors including equity and detailed school, class and program configuration. Staffing allocation analyses are conducted at the individual class and grade level. Staffing allocations were reviewed and approved by the Superintendent’s Cabinet. Some schools have additional enrollment and require additional staff. Some schools have lower enrollments and require staff reductions.
It is important to note, teachers and instructional assistants will continue to be employed by SPS. Each staff member will be reassigned to another school. This process is a careful matching of individual skills and qualifications of certificated staff to school positions and needs.
Eight start-of-school substitutes were added district-wide and funded centrally in schools where principals believed their enrollment number was going to be higher than the district projection. Principals used this resource to support start of school efforts. The goal is to reduce the number of classes without a teacher, and to mitigate for last minute enrollment changes. Based on enrollment counts and class configurations, seven of these eight substitutes will be removed from their schools and returned to the substitute pool because anticipated enrollment did materialize at the individual schools. The eighth will be converted to a teaching position to support enrollment.
The School Board has highlighted resource stewardship as a board priority, refocusing the district on the importance of assuring responsible management of its limited funding. While more students are enrolled this year, the number is still lower than projected. With less revenue district-wide, SPS must reduce the staffing budget from schools with lower enrollment and add staffing budgets to schools with higher enrollment to ensure our class sizes and support personnel are equitably distributed to best support all students’ teaching and learning.
Additional good news is that elementary schools have benefited from an increase in funding for teachers in order to reduce class size (about one additional teacher per building) as part of the Legislature’s action in June. And the district has invested more in staffing for unique situations (mitigation) than we did last year. Reductions are never easy – and especially so after the school year begins. Average class sizes district-wide, however, are improved over last year at the elementary level.
We know that these changes are not easy for our schools, students, staff, and parents/guardians. Such decisions are a delicate balance of financial resources and needs across the entire school district. Our district team takes this work very seriously and tremendous effort and thought goes into every decision about every classroom in every school as the team works hard to allocate limited resources to the greatest need. In a situation where one school loses a staff member, that individual is moved to a school which has less staff and desperately needs more.
Staffing adjustments are being finalized, and your school principal will communicate that information once completed.
Michael Tolley Flip Herndon
Associate Superintendent Associate Superintendent
Teaching and Learning Facilities and Operations