Monday, June 06, 2016

Yearly Staffing Cuts - Just Part of the SPS Process?

Remember Kids,Not Cuts?  I think they may be back in business soon because I'm hearing of schools fighting staff cuts already.  Here's the latest.


Anonymous said...

What cut is Orca fighting? What cuts are others hearing about?


A k8 parent said...

My daughter is at a different k8. I've heard from our principal that he had been fighting the district on budgetting us at 498 not 500 which is a magic number about certain things. He said that we always run at just over 500. So we are losing an 498 vs 500 comes with staging cuts. Is this What is going on at orca?

Also join wa paramount duty to help us fight funding at a state level.

Anonymous said...

Orca's enrollment has been declining steadily, year after year.
Its current enrollment is well, well below 500.

2013-14: 482
2014-15: 473
2015-16: 420
2016-17: projected to be 390

Lynn said...

I wonder if the district is considering removing the middle school grades from ORCA (and possibly Madrona). I read in a comment somewhere that none of the 5th graders are returning to ORCA next year and Madrona has very small middle school grades. Providing equitable access to electives and accelerated classes is very expensive in those conditions.

Anonymous said...

District money administrators hate k8s. They don't fit into the neat little funding and staffing boxes that the beancounters like to check off. Tough.

By the by I heard the other day that SPS has taken away APs at a bunch of schools under their new formula that counts teachers not students. Don't know more about it and don't know if it hits K8s but wouldn't be surprised. Who exactly is supposed to handle student needs parent needs teacher needs building needs nonteacher staff needs if a principal is all a school has got? If this is true it's a crock.


Anonymous said...

Once again - for the second year in a row - we see clear evidence that SPS administration are blocking people from enrolling in option schools. First it was Middle College, and they used that to justify gutting the program. Now it's Center School and Orca K-8 - to name just two that we know of so far. Yet I know people who had to go through a waitlist to get into Orca K-8 just this year.

SPS is not playing fair here. They are rigging this process to keep kids out of the option schools so as to justify closing them down. It's time to rise up in revolt against this - and demand people be fired for doing this.

SPS administration doesn't like you. They don't take you seriously. They view you with contempt.

Fight back

Anonymous said...

Looking at SPS enrollment data, it seems like in the upper grades fewer students are selecting Orca K8 during the choice process. Historical data for number of 6th grade students choosing Orca K-8 as first choice (waitlist numbers):

2011 - 16 (5)
2012 - 13 (0)
2013 - 20 (15)
2014 - 10 (0)
2015 - 6 (0)

Students remaining at Orca K8 for 6th grade:
2010-11: 73%
2011-12: 68%
2012-13: 67%
2013-14: 72%
2014-15: 57%
2015-16: 41%

@Fight Back, the trend for the last couple of years is not positive, but is it by student choice?


LMM said...

Orca is looking for:
WHAT IS ON THE LINE? We are slated to have our Assistant Principle, Counselor, and Librarian all be reduced to half time from current full time. Furthermore, we are slated to lose our existing half time enrichment teacher. We are demanding the district:
MAINTAIN our full time Assistant Principal
MAINTAIN our full time Librarian
MAINTIAN our half time Enrichment Teacher
RESTORE our Counselor to full time instead of half time

WHAT CAN I DO & WILL IT REALLY HAVE AN IMPACT? YES! Writing letters, calling the offices of our district officials, and attending meetings are all incredibly important. The PTSA is working hard behind the scenes and if the work is not supported by the broader community, the efforts will not be as effective. Look for petitions coming home with students on Friday. Talk to them about these cuts, their school, and how they can have an impact by advocating for what they believe is right. Work with your student to get as many signatures as possible and bring the petitions to the meeting on June 8th.

Charlie Mas said...

I was able to find an enrollment report that shows the first choice, waitlist and assignment numbers for ORCA at Kindergarten to be:
2011: 48 (0 waitlisted, 52 assigned)
2012: 70 (22 waitlisted, 48 assigned)
2013: 59 (10 waitlisted, 48 assigned)
2014: 61 (10 waitlisted, 50 assigned)
2015: 56 (5 waitlisted, 50 assigned)

and at Grade 6 to be:
2011: 16 (5 waitlisted, 12 assigned)
2012: 13 (0 waitlisted, 13 assigned)
2013: 20 (15 waitlisted, 13 assigned)
2014: 10 (0 waitlisted, 19 assigned)
2015: 6 (0 waitlisted, 12 assigned)

With this level of enrollment, the District needs to seriously consider whether there is sufficient demand to keep ORCA open as a K-8 instead of a K-5 elementary. And when they do it, they should do it in an open and transparent way.

When they do, they need to explain why they waitlisted 15 students for ORCA grade 6 in 2013 and why only 13 students were assigned. Those numbers don't make sense.

ORCA has the lowest retention rate for the 6th grade among Seattle K-8s in 2015-2016 at 41%, and that's when they had 19. The next lowest is 66% and the average is 76%.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Rather than shrug their shoulders and close the school, SPS should instead ask why there are lower retention rates and what they can do to reverse that trend. But my guess is SPS central staff don't want to do that, because they are on a mission to destroy all alternative learning in the district and force standardization on everyone.

Mom of 3 said...

LMM, My kid's school isn't much different in size than Orca, but has none of the positions you mention Orca might be losing next year. I'm sincerely curious, why would some schools get those positions and others not? I'd be happier to get enough ink for the photocopier to last a full school year than an assistant principal.

I think an interesting post would be what size schools have what positions and why similar size schools don't. Again, I think if the district really wants to close the gap, they'd pony up for less testing - more loving, smaller class sizes and support positions in schools where there is a large achievement gap. The gap won't go away otherwise since, I for one, will always supplement the meager education my kids get in SPS (even in the "rich, white north").

Robert, I know many families in north seattle who chose a K-8 in K thinking they'd want a small middle school, but their 5th grade kids are really, really desiring "fresh meat" meaning new friends and a change of environment. I don't know if SPS is starving these schools, but I know many current 5th graders who are ready for a change and want to go to a comprehensive middle school.

Lynn said...


I looked at the district's December 2015 enrollment report and the school choice report you found.

Let's compare some K-8 schools.

ORCA (page 97) total enrollment = 427, 6th grade enrollment = 36, continuing 5th graders = 19, new 1st choice 6th graders = 6, other new 6th graders = 11.

Licton Springs (page 100) total enrollment = 124, 6th grade enrollment = 19, continuing 5th graders = 8, new first choice 6th graders = 6, other new 6th graders = 5.

Madrona (page 56) total enrollment = 298, 6th grade enrollment = 29, continuing 5th graders = 19, no new 1st choice 6th graders, other new 6th graders = 10.

In the current year's budget, Licton Springs received 1 extra teacher to reduce K-1 class splits and 1.5 extra middle school teachers for miscellaneous program needs and Madrona received 3 teachers above the number required by the Weighted Staffing Standards to ensure that the middle school grades had two teachers per grade. ORCA received no extra classroom teachers.

Small K-8 middle school programs are very expensive to operate if we guarantee things like two classes per middle school grade or even no split middle school classrooms. Madrona is not even filling it's building. Maybe that's not a problem in the central region? NOVA is not full either and when Meany opens there will be more middle school seats than the area requires. A TOPS 2 would be a better use of Madrona's space in my opinion.

ORCA is in Mercer's attendance area. The elementary schools in that region with waiting lists are the language immersion schools. I wonder if demand for ORCA would increase if they added some kind of world language program. It wouldn't have to be immersion - but maybe adding a Spanish class for all grades would increase enrollment enough that they could also hire part time art and music teachers.

Licton Springs makes no sense. The entire north end is crammed full of students and we just carved a hole out of the much-needed new middle school. Why not turn the John Marshall building into a K-12 Indian Heritage School? There are no plans for the building after the scheduled interim use.

Anonymous said...

Loyal Heights Elementary population is dropping from 430 to 410, thus we are losing a 4th grade teacher and gaining a 3/4 split. While I am lucky enough to send my child to a school where the PTA can make up any lack of funding from the district to continue to pay our support staff, I do dream of a school district where a 22 kid classroom is not seen as a problem that needs to be fixed.

-NW mom

Anonymous said...

Somehow I thought the JM building couldn't be used for anything other than an interim site. Permitting issues? Air quality issues?

-hazy memory

Karen said...

Lynn, I am not here to bag on Licton Springs K-8, but I agree with what you wrote based solely on the numbers. From my understanding, they serve a population that might be left behind otherwise. I don't know. Anyway, looking at the numbers, it doesn't look right.

Melissa posted something the other day - some work order changes or something that needed approval at a board meeting. I was SHOCKED SHOCKED to see SPS spent $2 MILLION on retro-fitting Lincoln for Licton Springs. I really hope I misunderstood what I was looking at since it is a temporary space. The changes to Robert Eagle Staff MS for the k-8 are also really expensive and I still don't believe the K-8 will end-up there due to capacity needs.

I don't begrudge SPS for looking at the K-8s. Everything else, yes, I hold them responsible for bad decisions, but Sharon Peaslee seems to have done some major financial damage here.

Again, I will eat ALL those words if these kids wouldn't be served elsewhere or would have otherwise fallen through the cracks. Then, it's worth it, but it's a tough sell financially and capacity-wise on the surface.

Melissa Westbrook said...

1) Personally, I have always thought this district had too many K-8s. I brought this up when Carla Santorno was CAO. She shrugged and said, "Some parents like them." As to why Orca's numbers are down, that's a question the district should be asking.

2) The district is strict on numbers to get certain staff. Some people believe the district deliberately underenrolls to avoid having to staff and is so surprised when the enrollment is (slightly) higher than what they thought.

3) John Marshall will be getting updated so I think the district will be able to use it for something other than an interim.

Anonymous said...

Oof, 390? I think they need a full time counselor, but full time assistant principal too? Does anybody at 390 get a full time librarian? I thought if schools had those, they paid for them themselves. I think middle schools should be staffed with more admin/non classroom teachers than elementary, but how many middle school students are we actually talking about? Not many, right? I also notice k-8's tend to be slightly overstaffed compared to other models, and use that extra staff meant for middle school on the elementary side. Since we generally understaff it doesn't bother me a whole lot, but I wish SPS would be so generous with regular k-5's. I won't be a whole lot bothered if SPS keeps more people at ORCA, but gosh, that does seem like it will be an unusual lot of staff for a small amount of kids. Not as out of whack as Licton Springs (which, yes, does serve students who otherwise fall through the cracks. I don't think that means we need to place it in the most crowded hot zones in the district, which we are doing now, but overstaffing is 100% appropriate there. They did a presentation on some of their students as part of their effort to save their school several years ago, and it was heartbreaking and inspiring), but a lot. And now that we seem to have moved to the mega-school model of elementary, I think we need to consider whether the cap on staffing we have now is approrpriate- some of those huge schools need more people to help with the tremendous number of kids we stuff in them and the problems that happen, above and beyond just X students to Y adults.


Anonymous said...

Licton Springs is being placed at the old Wilson-Pacific site because that is where the previous Indian Heritage school was and that is where the Native American murals reside. Also, there is a connection between Native Americans in this area and the actual Licton Springs which is close by. I think once Licton Springs gets settled in, its enrollment will naturally increase. People who cannot afford Montessori or Waldorf schools often enroll in Licton Springs as well as other option schools. From personal family experience, I know that Licton Springs is a lifesaver for some kids, especially Native American ones.


Anonymous said...

Every student with an IEP needs administrative involvement in oversight of his/her learning plan. K8s get a lot of kids with IEPs precisely because the K8s tend to be smaller, "we're a family" environments. (It would be interesting to see if the numbers are proportionately higher than in comprehensive K5s and 6-8s.) This environment also means everyone wants "more" of the administration, not less. Apparently the district is replacing vice principals with "head teachers" whatever that is in as many schools as possible. Looks and smells like a cost-cutting measure. How many schools are getting this swap I don't know, but I have heard the disgruntlement from parents at different schools.

As DistrictWatcher points out, how a head teacher is supposed to replace a vice principal in assisting with the special education needs, let alone teacher evaluation, responsiveness to parents, managing the physical building and - most importantly - working with and knowing students, especially in the tricky area of discipline (remember we don't do much out of school suspension anymore so these kids are in the building and are in need of supervision, retraining and encouragement) is beyond me. And then of course students and families want to see their administrators at after school events such as plays, sports, etc. One administrator only goes so far. It is duplicitous for the district to say they are putting more money in the classroom with a head teacher v a vice principal. No they're not. They are shortchanging buildings.

I don't begrudge any K8, or any school at all, their VP. How many private schools have only one administrator and run a quality program? Oh.


Anonymous said...

May 2016 enrollment report -

Madrona k-8

5th grade - 14
6th grade - 27
7th grade - 22
8th grade - 23

Wondering if the current middle school at Madrona k8 has two teachers per middle school grade band. Assuming yes and the precedent is just holding for next year. Does 5th grade also have 2 teachers?? The school is half full, the middle school is less than half full (each class should be 60) and they keep throwing money at it. Why?


Anonymous said...

Madrona K8, with a total enrollment of 278, has an assistant principal. And a family support worker, nurse, librarian. Families and Education Levy money. And yet other schools lose 20 students from full enrollment and they lose a teacher - unbelievable.


Anonymous said...

Our AP position at Gatewood Elementary school, ( a k-5 with an EBD program) was reduced to .5 FTE, so our NEW AP is going elsewhere next year, of course. I guess we will get someone else, but who would want a .5 AP job? It's not much of an assignment. So, here we go again with a significant cut at a school that is having significant problems, IMO. Way to go, SPS! I thought things were supposed to get better with a new budgeting process that wasn't just based on numbers? What happened to that?


Anonymous said...

Both Orca and Madrona are hard schools in which to work. For schools their size the staff turnover is high.

A couple of years ago the then science Teacher stopped teaching in the adjacent science/greenhouse due to students having problems just walking the few feet to class. What was once a thriving interesting program with the garden/plants has become something the PTSA now maintains.

Madrona has equal problems and many of the students who end up at Garfield are fielded into recovery level classes to build skill sets. This may be due to long term subs teaching both math and science classes and constant churn of staff.

Both buildings once thrived but are dying on the vine. I won't work in them anymore it is too challenging and with no support it becomes even more so.

- Long Timer

anonyme said...

A dozen staff members left Orca last year. It is expected that around 9-10 will leave at the end of this year.
Lots of infighting among staff.

Jan said...

Madrona seems to have had problems for years -- and I doubt they can be tidily summed up as resulting from just one thing. But Orca? I always thought of Orca as a thriving, highly desirable school.

I wonder whether some of these issues are not school leadership issues -- and whether the District has staffed these two sites with principals who have the capacity of leading a K-8 option school? This is TOTALLY conjectural -- for all I know, each school is staffed by a superstar principal. But the kinds of issues being described (kids not having sufficient discipline to get from a class room to an adjacent science/greenhouse, infighting among staff) are the kinds of things that often flourish when there is either too much turnover at the top -- or where a principal is placed in a position that exceeds his/her management capacities.

I hope that both sites get help -- and wish I had more confidence that all the highly paid Assistant Supes and Exec. Directors, etc. were working diligently and effectively to fix these issues.

Anonymous said...

The Orca PTSA parents are planning a "walkout" of some sort for June 13, 2016 - unless they get their way.

Anonymous said...

The Principal at Orca has in recovery for cancer. The last VP left after one year. The one before that was not in place much longer.

Orca has been struggling for a long time in the same way Madrona has but under less of a spotlight.

My friend whose daughter goes there is leaving for Washington for Middle School, she has shown me letters that verge on illiterate from varying staff members. Two student Teachers nearly lost it about two years ago in the Middle school from the stream of abuse by the kids and both women were women of color who were just holding on without any support.

Madrona has had a churn and burn of Admins and staff. The most famous was Ranice Innocent who was applauded by Senator Murray and all and then this year went promptly to Shoreline district. So much for supporting Teachers.

The district does a hideous job of K-8. And for some they are wildly successful but ask many who go into them about how they are maintained. I have worked in them all and found few (well one) that works

- Old Timer

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Anonymous said...

There are a ton of Sub requests for Monday, the supposed walk out day. I have told anyone to not accept the jobs it is that bad. My neighbor used to work there and left as it became impossible to teach.

There are real problems there and a former Teacher who "works" there refuses to go upstairs it is that bad. Orca has become what Aki used to be

_ Old Timer

anonyme said...

Yes, going up to the middle school floor is unpleasant - loud, chaotic, pushing and shoving, and lots of the "N" word being used - which the school allows (not making this up) because it's "part of their (black) culture".

- anonyme