Wednesday, December 14, 2016

SPS Budget Crisis Meeting Open Thread

I did not attend the meeting at Ballard last night but please give us your thoughts/report if you did.  Here is a photo from Rep Gerry Pollet who was at the meeting:




Kind of hard to read but cuts include elementary VPs, nurses, counselors, school office staff, K-3 class size reduction, librarians, and eliminate discretionary 'core' staffing for all schools.

What I believe is being suggested is $16.5M from schools and $16.8M for administration. 

Here's a tweet yesterday from the district:    
What could be cut at your school? Budget gap meeting tonight at Ballard HS 6:30pm - more info here:

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

People should tweet back, "What could be cut at SPS central administration?" Don't let SPS frame the questions and pit school groups against each other. -NP

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't this thread be re-titled to Budget meeting open thread?

-baitandswitch

Po3 said...

Any central office cuts on that list?

Anonymous said...

Where are the cuts to central administration? Those should come 1st!!!!!!! Seattle School Board please let Mr. Nyland know that parents and taxpayers want to see a reduction of management positions and a restructuring of the management structure to one with less levels of management.
NwMom

SeaMom said...

". . . eliminate discretionary 'core' staffing for all schools."

What does this mean, one wonders? No more using budgeted per-school discretionary funding to support staffing costs? Or something else?

Melissa Westbrook said...

NP, I did send that tweet.

Sorry, yes, I need to correct that title.

I can't go to the Thursday meeting at South Shore but I will attend the meeting in early Jan.

alex said...

I would love to hear how it went from anyone that attended. I also plan to attend on 1/3. But, I am not going to go an write a list of things that could be cut at my school. I will not be part of pitting SPS parents against each other to see who has the loudest voice. I don't know what the answer is (beyond the Legislature doing its job and identifying NEW sources of revenue) but I will not try to yell louder than other parents, and essentially, that's what SPS is asking us to do.

Dave W. said...

Seattle has classrooms cleaned only once every third day. Imagine your home under similar conditions (30 kids X5-6 hrs a day). NO OTHER DISTRICT HAS A THIRD DAY CLEANING SCHEDULE. Seattle also spends more on administration PER PUPIL than any comparable Washington district.

Pretty easy to focus cuts away from direct services to students.

Anonymous said...

link to the information presented at the meeting last night-

https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Budget/2018%20Budget%20Development/December13-2016_Community_Budget_Presentation.pdf

$$$

Robert Cruickshank said...

There's so much that's flawed, but this part in particular stands out: "From the previous list, what should be restored first when legislative decisions are known and if there is funding available?"

SPS is making it clear that they are fine with budget cuts. They aren't working very hard to avoid it (if they were, they'd be going to court) and now they're suggesting some of this is permanent.

The only response is solidarity: no cuts to classrooms. (Cutting JSCEE staff is probably wise anyway.)

Pro-Sleep Mom said...

Regarding cuts, the one line item from the budget that stands out for me is the $4.3M increase in Supervision of Instruction costs from 2013 to 2016- it was $11.8M in 2013-14; and is $16.1 in 2015-16. Maybe there is something I don't know about- but on the face it is much less important than keeping this $ in the classrooms.

The other cost that is not being discussed is the cost of 20 minute addition to the school day. No one will quote a cost on this. I don't know exactly how it all plays out in the contract, but it is an average of 8 minutes per day (after taking away 60 minutes for early release Wednesday). This is a 2% increase on a 360 minute day; the whole budget for teachers is $474M; so rough math would mean this 2% increase could cost $10 million.

I've been to several community meetings, and this change is not popular, particularly among those in Tier 3, who will have very young children leaving school close to 4:30; or even among Tier 1 elementary, who will be starting at 7:45.

I know this is a contracted item, but to me it would make much more sense to delay this program (preferably until the one time $2.8 million can be found to set up two tier bussing) and use this $10 million to prevent RIFs and increased class sizes.

Finally, any tests that can be skipped are easy found money...

Joseph Rockne said...

Mr. Cruikshank,

What is the District's cause of action that would support filing a lawsuit?

You make it sound so simple. Having filed and litigated dozens of cases over the past quarter century, it's my experience that lawsuits are never simple, never easy and never cheap.

I'm not afraid to file cases. I enjoy going to trial and I beleive the district should take more cases to trial...but your knee jerk assertion that, instead of thoughtfully planning for various financial contingencies, that the district should be going to court leaves me scratching my head.

What possible legal basis is there for a lawsuit?

Robert Cruickshank said...

The legal basis for a suit would be that the legislature is violating the court order in the McCleary case by not providing sufficient funding to districts, as shown by these proposed cuts. The Supreme Court did not apply additional sanctions last fall because they agreed the state had shown progress in McCleary compliance. These cuts, however, would show a step backward and suggest that the state is no longer in compliance and that stiffer sanctions are required.

Basically, there is no way that it is constitutional for districts to be forced to make these cuts.

I agree with you that there is no such thing as a slam dunk case. But the district's obligation is to provide a great education for its students. Budget cuts should be an absolute last resort after all other financial, political, and *legal* means have been exhausted. SPS is obligated to at least try in court.

Pro-Sleep Mom makes an excellent point about the extra 20 minutes. Surely SPS can agree to defer that to 2018-19. That would be a significant help.

Anonymous said...

It never fails to amaze me how SPS wants to hit the classroom first instead of some of the "more bang for the buck" Admin stuff - just looking at the SPS website page called "Senior Staff and District Leadership", I can see more than a few things that make me go hmmm...

For example - there are all these titles that would seem to be overlapping and perhaps could very easily be streamlined into ONE person:

1. Chief of Student Supports
2. Chief of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction
3. Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
4. Chief of Schools

There there's Chief Strategy and Partnerships and Director of School-Family Partnerships plus, according to the latest org charts all of these titles under those above, among others:

1. Executive Director Government relations & Strategic Initiatives
2. Director Project manangement
3. Director of Equity outcomes & initiatives
4. Director of Research & Evalulation
5. Director of School & Community Partnerships
6. Executive Director of School Health
7. Director of ELL &n International programs
8. Director of Special Education
9. Director of School based SPED
10. Director of Student Supports
11.Executive Director of Curriculum assessment & instruction
12. Director of Career & College Readiness
13. Director of C & I operations
14. Principal Leadership Coaches
15. Director of Grants
16. Director of School Operations
17. Manager of School Operations
18. Senior Project Manager for Continuous Improvement


Plus the infamous Executive Directors of Schools

Really? All those positions are needed? Especially when I'm sure most are making at least $100,000 if not more? Yes, it's a drop in the bucket but it's a drop not coming out of the classroom. Admin cuts first - classroom last - as I've said before -it's a SCHOOL district not a Corporation.

reader47

B-D said...

FYI, I attended meeting on Tuesday. For some reason my write up is not "sticking" to this blog...it was rather long and I had to break it up into two sections. I have sent it to Melissa, hopefully she can post it. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Robert, I personally would love to see SPS go to court over these cuts. I'd love to hear their legal justification for (1) expending local levy dollars on basic education and then crying wolf on the levy cliff and (2) providing % raises to teachers and other staff without the revenue to support those increases. I'd love to read the depositions on those.

So, please, please, SPS, take Robert's advice and head to court.

Francis

alex said...

Perfect! Let's tweet this in response to SPS' Tweet asking us for ideas on what to cut at our schools, like we're making a Christmas goodie list or something. I will not play that game.

"Admin cuts first - classrooms last!!!

Joseph Rockne said...

Robert,

The State has already been found to be in violation of the constitution and they have already been sanctioned for their noncompliance with the Court's ruling. The fines are accruing every single day they remain in noncompliance.

If there are additional damages which a district incurs because of their continued Constitutional violation, then an amicus brief at future compliance hearings could spell out those costs and perhaps the Supreme Court could be persuaded to increase the sanctions to cover those damages.

As a potentially aggrieved party, the district does have an obligation to mitigate any damages it suffers or might suffer because of the state's continued failure to comply with the constitution. I would imagine, not preparing appropriate budgets might fall within this obligation upon the district.

You suggest that there is an obligation upon the district to provide a "great education" for its kids. While that is certainly aspirational, I am not aware of any legal obligation that the district provide a "great" education. The state has an obligation to provide a "basic" education. I don't see how a district could have a higher obligation than the state. (Indeed,isn't that the point of McCleary? that the obligation to provide the funding rests with the state, not the local districts?).

But if your assertion is that the district has an obligation to provide a "great" education for its students, the appropriate lawsuit would be against the district for failing to provide this "great" education. (Assuming you believe that the district is failing to provide the "great" education). The district might have an affirmative defense that it lacks the funds to provide the "great" education and that might allow the joinder of the state as a party, but that gets us pretty far off the mark and we are treading into waters so deep there is zero chance that these issues would be resolved before we go off the levy cliff.







Watching said...

Here is the pay scale for administrative salaries.

Look at pay scales that begin around $153K. These same individuals to through a process of steps and have the capacity to increase their salary to $206K- or approximately $50K per year. This increase could pay for a part time counselor.

An individual that starts at $185K has the capacity to increase their pay to $250K; an increase of $65K (!!!!) per year.

I am not sure if these are state or local issues, but the amount of dollars we are paying administrators is absurd and I'm sure there are plenty of individuals in this category.

If this is a local issue, it is time for SPS to readjust administrative salaries.

http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Human%20Resources/Salary%20placement/ms5_management_salary_schedule_260_2016_17.pdf

Ed said...

And then at least one of them HIRED A PERSONAL ASSISTANT as a CONTRACTED employee. That won't add to fte #'s but costly just the same. She worked for him at his last job.

Wondering said...

Gee, Francis, how would you propose the district settle the teachers strike?

Cindy Jatul said...

As a teacher and parent I agree with pro-sleep mom. Although we signed a contract with SPS to extend the day by 20 minutes in September 2015, that was before we made significant bell time changes to align our schedules with the biology of students and before our current budget crisis. SPS and SEA conducted surveys on the 20 minute extension and the concept of moving to earlier elementary start times was very unpopular. There are also teachers who are opposed to the idea of 20 minutes of additional instructional time per day, since most of us are already working 9-10 hour days. If SPS is considering reductions in staff including counselors and nurses, then they shouldn't try to extend they day when they can't afford to adequately support schools on the current schedule. The benefits of extending the day are to gain one hour of collaboration time/week and 8 additional minutes of instructional time per day. We could gain 15 hours/year of collaboration time by just extending the day by 5 minutes. I've communicated with all board members to go back to the drawing board and find other ways to increase teacher collaboration time and not extend the day by 20 minutes because it will increase costs at a time we can't afford it and the gains to be made by adding 8 minutes of instructional time are minimal and not off-set by pushing elementary starts to 7:45 which means bus arrival times of about 7:30 am.

Meeting Attendee said...

Continued Post (2 of 3)

I am sure there are more "nuggets" within JoLyn's presentation, but overall I got sense that their approach to the situation and the proposed course of actions, given the information they have now, while not a good thing, makes sense. I am sure there are ways that the budget can be sliced or diced differently to create a “better outcome” and they can work to that effect, and I am sure we all will also provide lots of feedback on what is and is not worthwhile to keep/cut. However, overall, I felt much more confident in JoLyn's competence and abilities than the team handling the growth boundaries....and she has only been at SPS for 6 months.

The big thing I wanted to talk about is the advocacy part of the meeting. State Sen. Reuven Carlyle and State Rep. Gerry Pollet were at the meeting. Sen. Carlyle spoke to what happened in the last legislative session, and some of the eventualities that could happen this year which are too detailed for me to go into. (Perhaps someone could add to this thread). Some good news is that the prior Senate Education Chair was voted out so there is an opportunity to get someone who will be less of a roadblock.

When asked what parents can do take action. Sen. Carlyle's response it to write, call, email your representative. Both he and Rep. Pollet said that they have not heard a lot of voices and more support needs to be heard. This is both surprising and alarming.

They said a simple thing is to call the legislative hotline 1-800-562.6000 and leave a message.

Eden Mack SPTSA Legislative Chair also spoke, and urged the importance to contact the Governor, your Senators, and your Legislators.
There are a lot of good resources in their website to assist in their advocacy

She said the simplest thing to do is to print out the post card they have created and send one to the Governor, one to your Senator and two to each of your representatives. The link to the post cards are on their website.

There were also discussions about how the school budget deficit is not a "Seattle" only issue and that other districts will be affected. Seattle, because of its size and need to plan further ahead than most districts is coming to the realization of the budget deficits earlier than other districts, so other areas may not be alarmed...yet

To be continued (2 of 3)

Lynn said...

Suggestion number one - stop buying Math in Focus workbooks for schools that aren't using them.

Meeting Attendee said...

This is really weird. My Budget Meeting recap comment is not sticking to this blog. I will try to repost again. I have been trying for 3 days to post. I have split it into three posts. It may be out of order now as part 2 seems to be sticking. I will try part I and III again. Any help or tips. My character count is below the limit. I removed website links.

Meeting Attendee said...

Continued Post (2 of 3)Reposted again so it reads in order.

I am sure there are more "nuggets" within JoLyn's presentation, but overall I got sense that their approach to the situation and the proposed course of actions, given the information they have now, while not a good thing, makes sense. I am sure there are ways that the budget can be sliced or diced differently to create a “better outcome” and they can work to that effect, and I am sure we all will also provide lots of feedback on what is and is not worthwhile to keep/cut. However, overall, I felt much more confident in JoLyn's competence and abilities than the team handling the growth boundaries....and she has only been at SPS for 6 months.

The big thing I wanted to talk about is the advocacy part of the meeting. State Sen. Reuven Carlyle and State Rep. Gerry Pollet were at the meeting. Sen. Carlyle spoke to what happened in the last legislative session, and some of the eventualities that could happen this year which are too detailed for me to go into. (Perhaps someone could add to this thread). Some good news is that the prior Senate Education Chair was voted out so there is an opportunity to get someone who will be less of a roadblock.

When asked what parents can do take action. Sen. Carlyle's response it to write, call, email your representative. Both he and Rep. Pollet said that they have not heard a lot of voices and more support needs to be heard. This is both surprising and alarming.

They said a simple thing is to call the legislative hotline 1-800-562.6000 and leave a message.

Eden Mack SPTSA Legislative Chair also spoke, and urged the importance to contact the Governor, your Senators, and your Legislators.
There are a lot of good resources in their website to assist in their advocacy

She said the simplest thing to do is to print out the post card they have created and send one to the Governor, one to your Senator and two to each of your representatives. The link to the post cards are on their website.

There were also discussions about how the school budget deficit is not a "Seattle" only issue and that other districts will be affected. Seattle, because of its size and need to plan further ahead than most districts is coming to the realization of the budget deficits earlier than other districts, so other areas may not be alarmed...yet

To be continued (2 of 3)

Meeting Attendee said...

Okay got two of three posted. Will try for the third now.

Anonymous said...

@ Cindy Jatul, you said: "Although we signed a contract with SPS to extend the day by 20 minutes in September 2015, that was before we made significant bell time changes to align our schedules with the biology of students and before our current budget crisis." You say this as if the the thing that came first (agreement to add the 20 mins) is the problem. What I'm wondering is why weren't the extra 20 minutes per day factored into the bell times advocacy and final decision, since everyone already knew the 20-minute change was coming? I remember repeatedly bringing this up at the time, pointing out that the new bell times were likely only a temporary, 1-year transition period.

Similarly, we still haven't figured out our response to the 24-credit requirement. Before you start advocating for eliminating the extra 20 minutes, maybe we should figure out if we need to use those to offer an optional 7th period in high school. We could shorten all the classes by 5 minutes over what they are now, then add in one more. There are additional costs involved to be sure, but that's likely the case whatever we do. The 3x5 proposal that came out of the task force is a disaster, so what are our other options?

We need to think more holistically, and stop acting as if things like bell times, the length of the instructional day, and the new 24-credit requirement are all unrelated.

Half Full

Anonymous said...

Could someone provide the link to the advocacy website with the postcard info? Thanks. -NP

Meeting Attendee said...

I have reposted part I and III again. Hopefully it is not too confusing to read out of order.

Meeting Attendee said...

Part I

Meeting opened up with the President of the Seattle Council PTSA , Sabrina Burr, providing a bit of history on the PTSA, and provided a bit of a rally cry, stating the urgency of Seattle Schools...and all schools, brought on by the failure of the State Legislature to act on the McCleary Decision

She then introduced the CFO of the school district, JoLyn Berge, spoke to the history of the McCleary Case, the Levy cliff and how the interpretation of exact date when the "2018" deadline by the court to September 2018 vs January 1, 2018 created the budget cliff. She then went on to the current plan to address the budget deficit. She said that the numbers presented were the same ones presented to the School Board I will not go into numbers as they can be seen on the SPS website.
Some interesting items that may be of note:

1. JoLyn stated that first and deepest round of cuts will be in Central Admin. They expect to take the largest share of the cuts.

2. District will fund to its priorities, meaning that it will work to prioritize funding to address the achievement gap. So schools with the greatest need will not necessarily take as much a hit as other schools.

3. As for if/when RIF is taken, the schools seniority system not as simple as "last in/ first out." I don't want to create any false information or swirl as to the nature of the system, but I got the sense that it was a good thing (if there was ever a good thing in RIFs) in that it was less dogmatic about overall seniority, in that it looked at seniority within different divisions. (I hope I got this right, I am sure there is someone within Teacher's union who can speak better to this)

4. The current budget projections are based on information that they know now. While there is optimism about extending Levy Cliff, they cannot plan on that event, only on what they know. Naturally they will be reworking projections/budgets when new information is available.

5. The big issue, and the reason for the urgency, is that the State Legislature needs to act fast. First to extend the Levy Cliff to align with the "due date" of McCleary Funding. The second is to pass legislation to fully fund public schools by end of April which is when schools would need to give teachers contracts for next year.

6. As for comments relating SPS asking for suggestions on how to address the pending budget deficit, I think this was truly a matter of good intentions resulting with a potentially poor (and unintended) outcome. I don't think SPS is trying to pitch schools against schools, or communities against community. I think they are genuine in that they want to know what is valuable to the school community, as well as any suggestions on how they can cut costs. I think we should take the request at face value. Perhaps there is a cost saving idea out there that SPS staff is overlooking….just like Growth Boundary team over looked or ignored fact that there is a school with seven empty classrooms in NE Seattle when developing their boundary changes.

Meeting Attendee said...

Here is link to Seattle Council PTSA Webpage with the postcard PDF

Link to actual PDF is on the bottom of the page.

http://scptsa.org/advocacy/

Here is link to Focus Day. Note it is January 16th not 19th.

http://www.wastatepta.org/meetings/focus_day/index.html

Sigh said...

SEA really needs to organize teachers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you to everyone for all this good reporting and advocacy ideas.

I'm going to the 43rd Dems holiday party this weekend just so I can buttonhole Frank Chopp and beg for a one-day special session to extend that levy cutoff year so no district faces the levy cliff.

As for the district and giving them the benefit of the doubt, well, I do not doubt the sincerity of their concern over this budget. But they got themselves somewhat in this mess, they are the ones with the big salaries (with continued hiring at JSCEE and raises for all.) You do not do that when you know there are pending budget issues (which they did.)

And, if the district doesn't know what school communities value by now, they are not listening.

Meeting Attendee said...

Melissa,

Why does my comment from budget meeting keep disappearing? My Part3 of 3 was up for a while and now I don't see it. I checked on different devices as well.

I have uploaded the sections multiple times and it keeps disappearing. Can you check into it?

I will repost it for 10th time now

Thanks

Meeting Attendee said...

10th time did not stick. I want to give up on it but I would like to share a few key items that I stayed up to 1 AM writing.

Items include areas out side of Seattle that may be worthwhile to target advocacy.

5th District (Maple Valley, Renton, Issaquah) 28th District (Tacoma, Lakewood, Dupont) 44th District (Mill Creek, Snohomish, Marysville) 47th District (Auburn, Covington) and 48th District (Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland)

There were a number of parents in the audience who were interested and eager for information on how we can reach out to help get voices heard in the locations where it really mattered. Sen. Carlyle stated that if 6-7 dedicated, vocal and determined parents and educators were able to organize for full state funding of education and bring a voice, a face and an alternative narrative to the "no new taxes" dogma.

I am thinking back to Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point and his argument that a few people motivated and skilled people can be the catalyst for large social "epidemics" as he call it.

I also wanted to bring up the January 16th (MLK Day) PTA Focus day in Olympia. I am excited to bring my sons and show them the Capitol (which will be in session) and democracy in action...and show them how it takes involvement in order to make it work.

Another alarming item was that the two Representatives stated was how little they have heard in support of full funding of education.

There needs to be some coordinated effort to get the "Full Funding" messages heard... and soon.








Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link and website. -NP

Anonymous said...

@ Meeting Attendee

You wrote "Perhaps there is a cost saving idea out there that SPS staff is overlooking….just like Growth Boundary team over looked or ignored fact that there is a school with seven empty classrooms in NE Seattle when developing their boundary changes." (In Part 1)

Which NE Seattle school has seven empty classrooms?

Thanks.

North-end Mom

Meeting Attendee said...

B.F. Day

They have capacity for 430 students. Enrollment in October based on P223 was 290 students.

I guess technically this would be North Seattle. However, SPS wanted to shift students from Green Lake to Bryant and Wedgewood (both at or over capacity) vs. looking at other options (like shifting part of southern Green Lake Boundary to B.F. Day). It took parents to point this out to the Growth Boundary team.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification. B.F. Day is considered NW, since it is west of I-5.

-North-end Mom

z said...

Pro-Sleep Mom said (regarding adding 20 minutes) it would make much more sense to delay this program (preferably until the one time $2.8 million can be found to set up two tier bussing)

One part of this bears repeating, because I don't think most people know this.

THE COSTS TO MOVE OUR DISTRICT BACK TO A 2-TIER SCHEDULE ARE ONE TIME ONLY! As far as I understand this, after one year, the state will fully fund our 2-tier transportation.

THIS SHOULD BE A NO-BRAINER! Moving back to 2 tiers would make the additional 20 minutes far more reasonable. This is what everyone should be advocating for!


Melissa Westbrook said...

I am sorry about the posting problems; I just don't have a clue what it could be if not length.