Thursday, December 01, 2016

Understanding the Dire State of SPS' 2017-2018 Budget

Update 3: partial from letter sent to families that has new information:

Next Steps

Between Dec. 5, 2016 and Jan. 4, 2017 we will continue to solicit feedback on budget priorities from staff, families, and community partners. I would like to thank the Seattle Council PTSA for hosting three regional meetings for families to provide feedback on budget priorities. 

Community Budget Gap Meetings
Tues., Dec. 13, 6:30 - 8 p.m. Ballard High School
1418 NW 65th St.


Thurs., Dec. 15, 6:30 - 8 p.m. South Shore PreK-8 School
4800 S Henderson St.


Tues., Jan. 3, 6:30 - 8 p.m. Franklin High School
3013 S Mt Baker Blvd.


Interpretation will be available. To request interpretation please contact publicaffairs@seattleshools.org with your requested needs. 

Additional details regarding the budget deficit, budget development timeline, and actions you can take will be posted to the 2017-18 budget webpage by tomorrow, Dec. 2. 

If you have specific questions or concerns about the budget shortfall please email the Budget Office at budget@seattleschools.org.

end of update

Update 2: at the end of this thread is the district's press release about this issue.  It has no new information.

end of update


Update 1: the Times now has a story on this issue and the district is talking about lay-offs.  A message went out to teachers on Wednesday from Superintendent Nyland. 
....Nyland said the problem is based primarily on a $23M increase in labor costs and the fact that the district could lose about $31M under the so-called "levy cliff.

The budget gap is the largest the district has faced since the 1970s, Nyland wrote in his message.
Information is to be sent to families today, according to the Times.  As well, from the Superintendent's letter to teachers:
Additional details regarding budget development and actions you can take will be posted to the 2017-18 budget webpage by the end of the week.
But here's what legislative wonk (and all-around smart guy) Robert Cruickshank says in the comments to my story:
It is important to keep in mind this is a fake budget gap. SPS does not have to cut a dime. The legislature cannot push districts over the levy cliff - doing so would be unconstitutional and the state Supreme Court would reject it. The legislature also promised in the 2016 budget to either provide new money to replace the lost levy authority OR extend levy authority for another year. That's a promise and not a law but it suggests that SPS will not actually have to cut anything.

So what should SPS do? Nothing.

SPS staff should NOT be planning for cuts. They should NOT be asking parents to fight amongst each other to decide which programs and teachers stay or go. They should NOT be preparing layoff notices.

Why? Doesn't SPS have to plan in case they lose state money?

No, because again, it's not actually possible for the district to lose that money. Whether through legislative action or court action, SPS will get the money they need.

We must insist that SPS - staff and board - refuse to undertake a divisive, unnecessary, and unconstitutional exercise of planning for a budget cut that is legally and juridically impossible to actually happen.
end of update

Here's some information on what the levy cliff is and what you can do to try to head it off before our district falls off that cliff.

I do note that I'm not sure how much of the $71-74M deficit projected by staff is due to the levy cliff.  All? Part? If so, how much?  I'll have to ask.

From John Freeman at the Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page (editor's note - I rearranged some of the information):

Basics
The levy cliff will reduce the total amount of money school districts can collect from levies on local property values.

For Seattle, the total effect of this may amount to more than $70 million, approximately 10% of the district's budget.

The levy cliff will occur on January 1, 2018, when the State’s temporary increase in the levy lid and Local Effort Assistance (levy equalization) for local school districts expires.

The temporary levy lid lift allowed many school districts to raise up to 28% of the total the district received from state and federal allocations. The school districts were able to generate this 28% from local levy money. Likewise, the state funding for levy equalization was raised by 2%.

On January 1, 2018, when the temporary levy lid and levy equalization both expire, school districts will be capped at generating only 24% from the local levy authority. School districts that currently collect more than 24% in levies will have their budgets decreased.



What you can do


Did you know the Governor and legislators hear very little about public education? It's true! As we get closer to the legislative session, it's really important to build up some heat on folks to get them motivated to effectively address Washington's school funding crisis.

The governor can be emailed here: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/

You can find other legislative folks here https://app.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/ or use the district finder http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/

SAMPLE MESSAGE: Please write or call your current or newly elected legislators and Governor Inslee with this request (you may use this language or develop your own):

I write to urge you to take two actions as soon as the 2017 legislative session convenes:
(1) fully fund public education with new progressive revenue and
(2) delay the levy cliff to January 1, 2019.

The hard reality is that even if the Legislature enacts legislation by the end of the 2017 legislative session, by allowing the State to meet its obligations to amply fund basic education by September 1, 2018, the levy cliff means that many school districts’ budgets will be reduced by millions of dollars from January 1, 2018 until September 1, 2018. 

Overall, the levy cliff threatens about $500 million per year in K-12 funding in Washington’s 295 school districts.

In many districts, these cuts will likely require numerous educator and staff layoffs. The levy cliff is already affecting school districts because districts budget based on the school year, and not on the calendar year. Districts are already preparing their 2017/18 school year budgets.

Of course, any local levy revenues and levy equalization amounts do not suffice; the State must fully fund public schools. Washington's constitution requires the State to amply fund basic education with dependable and regular State tax sources.

But the State cannot take the patient (the public school system) off life support (the local levies) before the new heart (regular and dependable State tax sources) is available for surgery.

Press release from SPS Communications, dated December 1, 2016
SEATTLE – The Washington State Legislature’s failure to adequately address public education funding may result in a significant budget shortfall next school year. In 2017-18, the district’s ability to serve students in the way they deserve will be challenged. Unless the Legislature takes appropriate action to address school funding, the district has a projected deficit of approximately $74 million for the 2017-18 school year. This is the largest budget deficit we have faced since the late 1970s and has the potential to erode many of the programs, supports and services students are currently receiving.
This potential deficit is the result of two key failures by the Legislature.  First, the Legislature has restricted how much we can collect from our already approved local education levies.  Second, the Legislature has not fully funded education as they are constitutionally required to do. 

The Legislature’s paramount duty in the state constitution is to fully fund public education. To date they have failed to carry out this duty. Districts, like Seattle, are forced to make up the financial difference by passing local levies and by asking our community and families to cover the cost of education services. The state only pays 70 cents for every dollar it costs to provide our students with the bare minimum of services. Each school year, our Seattle community provides an additional $100 million in salary compensation which should be coming from the state.

If the Legislature takes action, this deficit can be avoided or greatly reduced.  Because Legislative action is uncertain, we must plan for a worst-case scenario for our 2017-18 budget. Seattle Public Schools values our staff, our students and our families. The district is committed to educational excellence for every student. Closing the $74 million gap will be the most difficult challenge we’ve faced in decades. Right now there are many unknowns. These unknowns will cause challenges and disruptions to the good work that our schools, educators and central office staff are doing. SPS will be working closely with labor leaders, the Seattle Council PTSA, the City of Seattle, and community partners to ensure our community is informed and have opportunities for budget input. In December, the Seattle School Board will be reviewing additional areas of the budget to reduce, including non-staff and staff costs. The worst-case scenario budget will be complete on January 11. Budgets will be provided to schools in February to begin the school-based budgeting process.

64 comments:

Watching said...

In 2015, Chad Magendanz made a video regarding this issue. He claimed Seattle would see a property increase of $1.43 per 1000, and Seattle would loose $97M. I've not researched the bills related to this issue, but we are looking at a very serious issue.

Watching said...

Clarification: Seattle would see a $1.43 property increase per $1000 of assessed value.

Robert Cruickshank said...

It is important to keep in mind this is a fake budget gap. SPS does not have to cut a dime. The legislature cannot push districts over the levy cliff - doing so would be unconstitutional and the state Supreme Court would reject it. The legislature also promised in the 2016 budget to either provide new money to replace the lost levy authority OR extend levy authority for another year. That's a promise and not a law but it suggests that SPS will not actually have to cut anything.

So what should SPS do? Nothing.

SPS staff should NOT be planning for cuts. They should NOT be asking parents to fight amongst each other to decide which programs and teachers stay or go. They should NOT be preparing layoff notices.

Why? Doesn't SPS have to plan in case they lose state money?

No, because again, it's not actually possible for the district to lose that money. Whether through legislative action or court action, SPS will get the money they need.

We must insist that SPS - staff and board - refuse to undertake a divisive, unnecessary, and unconstitutional exercise of planning for a budget cut that is legally and juridically impossible to actually happen.

Anonymous said...

I will not support any additional taxes until JSCEE is gone. I see no value in the ridiculous management discussions produced by that group. I'm very confident we will not need more taxes if JSCEE and it's staff are dissolved.

Building + Principles + Teachers + Students - JSCEE = success

No Boxes

Anonymous said...

Why are you focusing on meaningless things like education? Look at the important things: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/is-vancouvers-safe-drug-use-site-a-good-model-for-seattle/

Our city would rather spend its money on providing heroin addicts a place to shoot up out of the rain.

Good Grief

Anonymous said...

And they have money to split north HCC into two schools rather than put a few portables on the Cascadia site???

open ears

Anonymous said...

I don't think that is going to cost very much if any money, open ears. There would have been mitigation costs for a giant school at the Cascadia site, more transportation costs, and not that sps is an especially long term thinker, but not doing the split now means just as likely a split next year or the year after, in (especially if it is next year) even worse budget conditions, more likely to Olympic Hills, which both programs oppose (especially Olympic Hills after all the work they have done).

Happy to complain about all the executive directors they think they can afford, though. Or all the fancy buildings the kids have to sit in crowded in like sardines because they can't "afford" teachers.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Give everyone an Orca pass and make a deal with the city.
-Tairred

Darren said...

The changes to local levy amounts to $30.7M. See page 8 in October 26, 2016 Board Budget Work Session - http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Budget/2018%20Budget%20Development/Otober26-2016_Board_Work_Session.pdf

Anonymous said...

"Give everyone an Orca pass and make a deal with the city.
-Tairred"

There are several problems with this,

1. Many Metro buses are rolling halfway houses.
2. There are large areas not served by meter buses.

I don't understand way the school district is paying for Orca passes. I already pay and don't ever used Metro. This should be free to all students and the cost NOT passed on to the district. Those buses run regardless and most of the time they look half empty!

Metro sucks

Math Teacher said...

Teacher here. The message that is being relayed via the union and some admin is that it's only the $30 million or so of the projected deficit that related to the levy cliff, and that the rest of the deficit (more than half) is unrelated. I'd love to hear more details about the other part.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I'll have to look at the full numbers. But even if just half comes from the levy cliff, keep in mind that the state legislature is in contempt of court for failing to fully fund public education. That means, among other things, that districts should not be in a situation where they're facing budget cuts, teacher layoffs, and so on. It's important to push back against the idea that this just has to happen. It doesn't, and we need to unite to demand that the legislature step in and finally do their job - the job the court has ordered them to do.

In brief: don't accept cuts as necessary or legitimate. They're not. Fight back. Resist.

Anonymous said...

Fight back! Resist! break windows! Hillary won! Hillary won!.

Turn those machines back on Hillary won! Hillary won!

What a little queen you are.

BLMS

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. McSchwinn's handmaiden,

Maybe you could resist trying to incite a riot. We already have carbuncle Sawant, so we don't need you stirring up shit. Seriously knock it off.

Not Joking

Anonymous said...

Well, this is certainly a signal to any great Seattle Public Schools teachers to start looking for work outside the district. Well done, Nyland. What a ridiculously short-sighted strategy for dealing with this. How about working with the city to stave off any levy cliff? How about making it the CHOICE OF LAST RESORT to even begin to talk about layoffs and classroom cuts that actually impact KIDS rather than central office. Unreal. We need to DEMAND this stops. Now.

Concerned parent

Anonymous said...

@concerned parent--I don't think the city has the budget and it's time for the legislature to do their jobs. Further, calling our Reps in Seattle will just bog them down. They're already fighting the good fight. There needs to be a targeted strategy to get the attention of the red side of our great state. Poor Whitman County!!

Real action

Elsa said...

Robert C. is absolutely correct. Do we know what kinda raise they gave Nyland?

Anonymous said...

It's not the raise to Nyland that is causing this. Everyone knew this was coming last September.

-SDD

Elsa said...

I realize that. But this yearly exercise is very stale in our minds when they never think of it when they continue to add administrative jobs, won't cut there and fail to provide the basics. Robert C. nailed it!

Watching said...

Robert is correct. It is time for Nyland and the board to stand-up and fight. It is absolutely unacceptable to put the district through the paces of laying off 440 teachers. The issue regarding the levy cliff must be addressed IMMEDIATELY.

Time to fight.

Anonymous said...

They should lay off JSCEE employees before teachers!!

Top down

Robert Cruickshank said...

So, according to the link Darren posted earlier: http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Budget/2018%20Budget%20Development/Otober26-2016_Board_Work_Session.pdf

About $30m is from the levy cliff and $23m is from one-time funds used to balance FY 2016-17. The rest is for costs that apply to basic education and should be funded by the state, whether it's K-3 class size reduction or labor costs.

But the state is on the hook for all of that money. The levy cliff, the class size reduction, teacher salaries, and so on. SPS levies also cover other elements of basic education and once the state fully funds that, then the levy money gets freed up and can cover the $23m in one-time funds used to balance FY 2016-17.

In short, there is no reason for SPS to put parents and teachers through a cuts exercise. These cuts are, as I've said before, illegal and unconstitutional. SPS should refuse to play this game, parents and teachers and community members should refuse to play, and everyone should instead descend on Olympia to demand our legislature fully and immediately fund our schools.

The only response to these "community budget gap" meetings should be solidarity: "no cuts." Instead of going in there to advocate for a particular program or an individual teacher, people need to go and defend it all. "You cannot pit us against each other, you cannot make us pick and choose which kids get their needs met and which ones don't." Unity, solidarity. No cuts, focus on Olympia.

Anonymous said...

Why is SPS threatening teacher lay offs? I think that is deplorable. The shortfall is less than 10% of the overall budget which can easily be dealt with. This is artificial, fear mongering B.S. and if there are any staffing cuts to be made, let's start with the Ed Directors, Chief of Schools, and all of the useless Directors and Executives that have continuously failed to produce any sort of substantive impact other than focusing on their own personal self interests (individual job longevity and keeping a fat paycheck to do next to nothing without any accountability). Mayoral take over is actually starting to sound pleasant...Please, please, please School Board - get rid of some of this dead weight!!! Shake things up. We desperately need you to act.

-Exasperated.

Anonymous said...

Yes, please school boring board DO SOMETHING!


JJJ

Jim said...

Yes, please, School Board! We're begging you. Dump the executive staff. Unify the district to refuse cuts until the state meets its paramount duty. Once the state is in compliance, then we'll look at numbers.

Anonymous said...


This was in today's Hamilton International Middle School newsletter. Note the last paragraph--sounds like it's time to write the school board so they can INVITE the city to help:

Budget Challenges for Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools currently raises a significant amount of its budget from levies. These levies must be authorized by the Washington State Legislature. The Legislature failed to re-authorize these levies and punted the issue to this coming spring. As a result, the Seattle Public Schools has to budget based on the expectation that the levies will expire.

One of the challenges of the “levy cliff” is the disruptive timing gap in the budgeting process. The schools may need to lay off teachers to accommodate the forecasted budget. These layoffs must happen prior to the likely close of the Legislative Special Session, even if the Legislature is on the verge of extending the levies.

On Nov. 16, the Hamilton PTSA hosted Mayor Murray. We asked him what the city was doing to minimize the disruption to the system. He said that he was very interested in assisting financially to ensure continuity but needs an invitation from the Board of Directors to start the discussion (since the schools don't report to the Mayor).

We have asked Director Rick Burke for his plan and will follow up when we learn more.


Anonymous said...

Ditch Nyland and bring in Murray. At least Murray holds people accountable for results and takes a stand. We need a real leader running this thing. I hope we didn't give Nyland a pay raise. Please tell me we didn't. As if his six figure salary isn't already enough. We are talking about teacher lay offs and he feels good about taking a pay increase - ? The nerve.

-SIS

Anonymous said...

I hate to think of anyone worrying about losing their jobs around the holidays or at anytime. There are opportunities for efficiencies downtown, for sure. I think it would be a shame to issue lay off notices and have good talent snatched up.

Maybe the Mayor can help mitigate the problem while we wait for the legislature to do their jobs. Can our Supreme Court step in and add more pressure? Obviously $100K per day doesn't make anyone hurry up and work together.

Are other Districts so top heavy? i know class sizes are an issue around the state--with the exception of those ghost towns running schools for ~$50K per student/yr....You know, those sweet places in our state stuck in the 50's who don't like the 206'ers to tell'em how to spend their money.

Well, I started off sympathetic and then got caught up in my anger over this election again.

Sorry. I'm not so hopeful.

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

From 2014 to 2016, the number of SPS students (budgeted) has increased by 6.1%.

Meanwhile, certificated FTEs went up 8.4%. At the same time, certificated salaries increased 24.1%(!). The classified side is similar, though a little less stark (10.2% / 20.2%).

The district saw a revenue bump of approximately $93 million over the past two years. Coincidentally, that's virtually the same amount of additional money that's going out in the salary categories above. Everything else -- benefits inflation, instructional materials, etc. -- has to come from money the district doesn't have. That's why they've had to dig into the reserve fund to come up this year, but that well is now dry.

SPS could eliminate its entire central administration tomorrow. That would only save $46 million -- not enough to cover the gap.

All of this information is here: http://www.k12.wa.us/safs/rep/fin/1617/17001195.pdf

-SDD

PreK said...

I'd be reluctant to involve the mayor. Taxpayers provided the city with $58M to provide prek for 1600 students.

Robert Cruickshank said...

No layoffs are needed. (Even though central staff surely could and should be leaner.) SPS should not go along with a clearly unconstitutional budgeting process that will not hold up in court. SPS should instead act as if they will get the money they need in order to avoid these cuts, and if that doesn't happen, they should take the state to court. Meanwhile, rather than playing along with these proposed cuts, we should all go to Olympia and demand the governor and the legislature find the new revenues we need to fully fund our schools right now, before April, and put an end to this disruptive and divisive process of managing cuts.

Cap hill said...

SPS is a failed organization that is badly underserving the people of Seattle. There is more than enough money in Seattle for us to fund first class public schools that serve our people well. We have what I believe is the world's largest charitable foundation in Seattle, 2 of the 10 wealthiest people on the planet, we are the fastest growing big city in the US where citizens are increasing their wealth the fastest from what is generally a household's largest financial asset (housing).

The flip side of that is that the people of Seattle have given up on SPS in epic proportions. The average private school attendance rate nationally is a shade under 10%, in Seattle it is 26% (according to OSPI data). Given the cost of private school that suggests that the majority of families that can afford to opt out are doing so. Businesses and foundations have effectively given up on SPS - and we have the largest/fastest growing urban-based tech behemoth in the world (which has 10K open jobs in this city and badly needs the city to produce its workers).

Failures like these are failures of leadership and culture that unfold over years to get to the sorry spot we are in now. The stuff that comes up on this site daily is just a streaming example of the poor leadership. Allow a small number of teachers to eliminate advanced learning programs because of their personal agendas? Sure, why not. I can literally see SPS losing families one by one.

At this point, is it salvageable? I mean, I'm sure a budget gap can be closed, but isn't more radical surgery required?

Anonymous said...

@cap hill-this public servant and public school advocate and believer...agrees with you.

Sharp knife

PN said...

Fix AL:

NO OTHER DISTRICT (regardless of size) spends the amount PER PUPIL, that SSD does. It has been thus for decades. Administration always points to fractional changes (usually atributable to shifting administrative fte's in and out of central, but per pupil spending on admin has always been head and shoulders above.

Elsa said...

"spends the amount" ON ADMINISTRATION.

SORRY.

Leslie Harris said...

Robert, et. al.,

Could you please deposit say $200K (probably more) into an escrow account to fund the defense of this public employee when, if I were to fail to follow the law on balanced budgets, I could be jailed and charged. I get to pick my own attorney. It's easy to say - stand up and fight back - it's unconstitutional, but when the law is not on our side, what do you propose we do? March in the street - been there, done that, so has the State PTSA, WA Paramount Duty, WEA, SEA, Social Justice Educators, thousands of individual voters and teachers, etc. How's that been working? Today, the fines on McCleary at $100K per day equal $47.2M.


For a terrific primer on McCleary and which I hope folks will share with friends and family and their legislators - see this snippet from Thomas Ahearne, lead attorney on McCleary. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNTP2wBAzkM

I always appreciate your insight and assistance, but do think your hard earned money is better spent saving for your son's college education rather than bailing me out of jail.

Happy holidays.

Leslie Harris


Robert Cruickshank said...

Leslie,

My suggestion is that SPS file suit seeking to invalidate the "levy cliff" and get the Supreme Court to order the legislature to provide bridge funding, whether through an extension of local levy authority or through some other means. I believe there is good reason to believe this will be handled expeditiously by the courts.

Washington's Paramount Duty attempted to do this a month ago via a motion in the McCleary case, but the Supreme Court ruled that motion out of order because we were amicus and not a party to the case. However, a school district could bring a new case. I am (clearly) not a lawyer and would suggest you speak to the district's legal counsel about the district's legal options here. I would be happy to put you in touch with our own legal team, who can walk you through this much better than I can.

I certainly don't want you to face jail time. However, we must also consider that the situation the state has put you in is not constitutional and flies in the face of the contempt finding the Supreme Court handed down in the McCleary case. I don't think any of us should go along with it. And while I realize the balanced budget requirement, I also think it is worth exploring ways to handle this situation other than Nyland asking the community to sit down and decide which children we will throw overboard.

This is a difficult situation, but at some point it is appropriate to ask how we can stop doing this to our children, our teachers, our parents, and our community. Thank you for all you've done and will continue to do.

alex said...

I appreciate you weighing in, Leslie, and I appreciate your honesty, as usual.

But, as an SPS parent, I agree with Robert.

I WILL NOT attend a community meeting in January where I debate with other SPS parents about what programs to cut and why. How about sports? No. Special ed? No way. Advanced learning? Nope. Cut regular classroom teachers? Nope. Reading specialists? There aren't enough. Specialists, like PE, art & library? No, and the PTAs already subsidize those positions at many schools.

No. We need to find another way. I will not agree to cut one single thing (except maybe a BUNCH of positions at the JSCEE) that is not that important to me, but is doubtless very important to someone else). In this rich city in this rich state, there has GOT to be a better way. And Nyland is going to have to put up some kind of a fight too, not just roll over. We will go to Olympia, and make our voices heard.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Alex, I think maybe this blog and Soup for Teachers should start a boycott of those meetings. We show up to protest and will not support any cuts at the school level.

Anonymous said...

About $30M is associated with the levy cliff, $20M with increased labor costs - mostly the raise SEA negotiated to end last year's strike - and $20M with the ending of one-time revenue sources.

Robert is entitled to his Rage Against the Man hissy fit (for the record, those with actual accountability don't have that luxury). But Melissa, you saying he's "a smart cookie" and validating this childish B.S.? Wow. So disappointing.

GrowUpAlready

Joseph Rockne said...

Could someone explain to me the relationship between the state's obligation to pay teacher under McCleary and the locally negotiated labor contracts?

I understand Mr Cruikshank's argument (at least I think I do) to be that the state" under McCleary is obligated to pay teachers. But isn't there some limit? Seattle couldn't negotiate a contract that pays teachers twice the state average and then send the bill to Olympia, could it? Where is the limit?

Watching said...


Robert's idea is a good one:

"My suggestion is that SPS file suit seeking to invalidate the "levy cliff" and get the Supreme Court to order the legislature to provide bridge funding, whether through an extension of local levy authority or through some other means."

The legislature put SPS into a precarious position. Seattle will spend enormous amounts of administrative time - and dollars- on this issue. It is unreasonable. It is my hope that the district stands=up and fights for the legislature to address this issue- immediately. The legislature is creating additional administrative costs and disruption to the district.

I differ with Robert in that the district must balance the budget, but it is worth trying to get the legislature to resolve this issue and prevent the district of going through enormous disruption.

Thanks for stopping by Director Harris.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I'm not saying the district shouldn't balance the budget, of course they must, but they shouldn't do so assuming that they lose the levy cliff money. As others have said, I think the time is better spent going to court to ensure that districts don't face those cuts. I recognize the situation board members are in, but as a parent and a member of the public, I'll use the greater freedom and flexibility I do have to lay out the case for a different response.

There's a lot of talk about "normalization" lately. What I'm saying is that these cuts are not normal and should not be treated by the public as normal. They're unconstitutional and we should insist that the court step in to ensure school board directors are not placed in an unconstitutional situation where they have to make unconstitutional decisions that hurt kids. WPD can't do it because it's not a party to McCleary. But SPS could. And should.

alex said...

I like that idea a lot and will see if I can get my school's PTA on board. What good could possibly come from attending these community meetings and pitting one group of parents against another? It sounds like a recipe for a blood bath, and I want NO part of something like that. There is no $70 M of fat to be cut from SPS' budget without doing real harm. Count me as with the resistance, and asking the adults in Olympia to do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

" There is no $70 M of fat to be cut from SPS' budget without doing real harm."

Divest various real estate holdings which currently have no school related activities.

Oak Tree
Lake City Professional Center
etc.

It is a school district not a Commercial Real Estate firm

SPSParent

Anonymous said...

Nooooooooooooooooo. Those need to be turned back into schools at the earliest practicable time. Not sold off.

This budget crisis is fully manufactured. There's no reason for it. We are not in a recession. They just made up a problem and are trying to stick us with it. Let's not do permanent harm to ourselves because of this made up threat.

-sleeper

Lynn said...

Those properties produce income - they're not adding to the deficit. We'll likely need them for new school sites in the future too.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame me for the above pointless post. I've been using this moniker for 16 years.

-SPSParent

Anonymous said...

Well stated Lynn and sleeper

-SPSParent

Anonymous said...

Oh, I did think that was you, and was a bit surprised. Thanks for the clarification, sps.

-sleeper

Joseph Rockne said...

Robert,

What would the district's cause of action be? Would you argue that the status quo should be maintained?

Assuming the lawsuit is successful, where would the funds to operate the district come from while the litigation is pending?

I would suggest that the district prepare for the worst case, dream about the best case and assume that the result will land somewhere in the middle. That's what usually happens.

My prediction is that we are going to see some pretty hefty college tuition price hikes in the next few years.

RLM said...

Thanks for commenting, Leslie. If we set-up a fund for your legal needs, will you stand up to the state legislators on behalf of our students? You're in a difficult position, but I would set-up a legal fund for you if it would truly help.

Anonymous said...

first a point of order: this is not an open thread. sorry. an open thread shouldn't be dominated by the blogger's post. it should be open to other folks thoughts and concerns. no comments means no one has anything they are concerned about. if it were truly open i would like to ask how those optical-equity programs at thorogood and ghs were going. but alas this open thread has a topic heading far weightier than that.

as for this topic: what about reserving the top of jssc for board and staff and use the other floors as a magnet high school? solves hs capacity issue and cuts budget for all that staff. perhaps a hs based on governance and law. you see we would have to cut somewhere and that is where i would go. why are there so many levels between principals and nyland if the schools can do what they please anyway? and look at al identification process and the tortured mess it has become. it is less equitable now then it was five years ago... all in the name of equity. it is truly orwellian.

-nc

Anonymous said...

oops i guess i dropped this in the budget topic thread. but if you look at the open topic threads there are many topics mentioned that could have been separate threads and left completely open we would get more variety of thoughts.


-nc

Robert Cruickshank said...

Joseph, I believe the Supreme Court would act on this quickly. They ruled on WPD's motion within the space of three weeks - and WPD is not a party to the McCleary suit. As a school district, SPS has a better position and is much more likely to get the Court to act expeditiously.

The legislature promised in their 2016 budget that they would either extend the levy cliff another year OR find new money to cover that and that they would do so by April 30. Given the situation at the Supreme Court, the legislature will likely not be allowed to miss that deadline. SPS has every reason to expect that money will be there by the 2017-18 year, and thus it would not be appropriate to budget as if it's not going to be there.

SPS is right now telling parents they can't guarantee that if they send out a layoff notice to a teacher that they'd be able to rescind it even if the legislature gave them a year extension on the levy cliff. So that tells me SPS should not be allowed to put those jobs at risk in the first place.

This is a problem created by the legislature, not SPS, and that is where our advocacy should be focused. The legislature can be moved on this, but we have to create intense pressure.

Watching said...

Robert,

Do you have WPD's motion? If so, please post.

Anonymous said...

@Robert-is there a list of the legislators who put us in this position? Realizing most of Seattle's reps are working hard in our best interests, it would be helpful to publish a list of the legislators across the state who put us on this position. Faces, names, District, city, town, roundabout...with phone numbers and email addresses. I'm sure WPD or some seasoned advocate must have this....

Many thanks

Anonymous said...

Watching: Here is WPD's motion for clarification. Kathryn Russell Selk and I wrote and filed it: http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/McClearyMotionforClarification110716.pdf

Here's a tweet you can use to advocate: Gov Inslee and legislators need to immediately fully fund WA public schools w/new revenue and delay levy cliff! #waedu #waleg @GovInslee

Summer Stinson
Washington's Paramount Duty

Anonymous said...

Leslie-- I love your post, it made me laugh out loud.

In all seriousness, it is extremely rare for a public official with this sort of colorable argumemt to be found in contempt and actually jailed. There is law on your side, if you take the hard, high road and fight back. Please seek outside legal counsel now from someone experienced in education law as well as governmental law in general. Lots of firms would be willing to do this pro bono (especially because you are a very sympathetic client). Try a few of the big firms. There are also maaaaany high powered attorneys who are SPS parents...

Anonymous said...

Whoops above is

SPS 2

Elsa said...

Run for school board Robert but don't drink the kool-aid.

Joseph Rockne said...

Robert,

Because the Washington Paramont Duty group is not a party to the McCleary case, the Court rejected their motion for filing. They didn't rule on their motion.

If they had been a party, the motion would have been treated as a motion for reconsideration. The deadline for filing a motion for reconsideration is twenty days after the order or ruling the party wants reconsidered.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Joseph, yes, that is correct. Summer Stinson can speak more effectively to exactly what happened but your synopsis is right. What that means is this is still a live question before the Court. I am not sure if SPS can directly file a motion in this case, as they're a party to it but indirectly (via the NEWS coalition) but they certainly could file a new case.

I have a very difficult time believing the Court would allow these cuts to take place. They have held the legislature in contempt for the better part of two years. They did not increase sanctions because they believed the state was making progress toward compliance. However, their actions on the levy cliff would show backsliding and progress away from compliance. Therefore, I expect the Supremes would quickly take action on this matter.

I believe SPS ought to be pursuing that path, rather than beginning the damaging and divisive exercise of cuts.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Robert, I have a very difficult time thinking the Legislature would allow this to happen. They should convene for a one-day session, extend the levy payments another year until they finish their work on McCleary.

If that doesn't happen, the Court should bring the hammer down. No more waiting or fooling around; the patient, from all the funding paper cuts, is now going to bleed out.