Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Budget Presentation for Work Session

Seattle Schools' staff will be making a budget presentation at tomorrow's Work Session about the 2017-2018 budget.

The presentation for the budget portion of the Work Session has several interesting points/questions:

Among the "guiding questions" on page 3 are these ones:
- Are people more essential than other non-staff items in eliminating opportunity gaps? 

- While reducing the budget, how can we continue our goal to address opportunity gaps?
 - Because we will need to reduce school funding, how should we identify schools that need the most help/funding? 

So it looks as though the district will fund schools differently (see pages 20-21.) 

They also state that there are still unused dollars from last year, about $3.3M

The WSS recommendations include:

- rolling back K-3 class size as well as grades 4-5 and 9-12
- reduce the number of elementary school counselors, nurses, librarians, office staff and assistant principals and "discretionary" core staffing for all schools

Now for JSCEE, all it says is "Central admin efficiencies."  What that is remains to be seen is how many jobs are to be cut there (if any.)

  Services not taking cuts:
 - Special Education
-  ELL
-  Athletics
-  Levy funded Capital activities

So how come they wouldn't cut - of ALL things - sports?

There is this notation on Page 9  - Build off of Equity Tier Calculation Methodology- that appears on page 22.

Page 12 is a list of items not accounted for in the budget:

• Transportation increases for two tiers
• SE Dual Language pathway
• Amendments to Student Assignment Plan
• $750k for IB that was funded this year 

I think the writing is on the wall for grandfathering (except that without real data, this all seems like a lot of talk.)  

Page 13 explains that with all that cutting, they are still about $11M in the hole.  Then on Page 14:
Other Reductions to Solve Remaining $11.1m
  • Suspend all curriculum adoption through 2017-18 - $11.5m
  • 2017-18 planning year for Cedar Park - $1.5m 
  • Summer School - $.25m 
  • Creative Advantage/Arts and Music Pathway - $1.5m 
  • TV Station - $.4m 
  • Other - ? 
I'm a bit baffled by the Arts item as I thought that money came from the City. 
As well, the bell seems to be tolling for Cedar Park NOT to open next year.  (Also given that there was no real info about it at last night's kindergarten enrollment event.)
I'm also kind of sad to see South Shore K-8 in with other schools in the Tier 1 Equity spot.  They already received $1M extra a year via LEV (but the agreement is set up so that is not taken into account for any cuts or spending.)


Anonymous said...

How will they lift the student to teacher ratio in 9-12? As a teacher who sits with 30+ in a class routinely, I don't see the 29:1 and haven't EVER seen the 29:1. So, which 9-12 GenEd teachers are being reduced as a result of the ratio adjustment? Plus, they aren't budgeting for overages (above 32). I know they just play with numbers on paper, but in practicality, who is getting "cut"? Do we fight over it in the buildings again? Decide who gets to see even more kids than they already do? Not really setting us up to succeed with the "moral imperative" to develop personal relationships with students.

Anonymous said...

They say they want to cut $750K from IB. Does this mean Ingraham loses its IBX pathway? What about the students midway through?

Sorry Garfield, you are about to have a population explosion descend on you.

This is unbelievable.


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering which items would have priority to be funded again if some funds are restored? For example if the Levy Cliff is lifted for next year and that portion of funding is regained, which previous cuts have priority to be restored?


Anonymous said...

I am wondering that, too, StepJ. I don't think this is the budget we will end up with, but no one knows what that will be. It seems just as important to create a priority list for refunding as to cut now.


Melissa Westbrook said...

StepJ, I think most of these would happen even if the levy cliff doesn't happen. I think it's on an early page in the presentation.

mirmac1 said...

I note sadly that there is no mention of equity for the school assignment of students with disabilities beyond resource. They are widgets to fill programs and bus around at will.

It seems to be a given that denial of equitable access to their neighborhood, or "closest school" (as the WAC would mandate) is a loss-leader or a cost item to parlay. Nothing in IDEA or civil rights laws says that an LEA can design processes to maximize savings or reduce costs at the expense of student civil rights. This is as if a district can justify funneling all girls sports (Title IX) to inferior fields that no one else wants. Oh. Wait. They do that already. And it breaks federal law.

Who could say, conscionable, that extra support and early learning opportunities should not apply to kids with disabilities? Does that not make the inequity clear to everyone BUT the board, and staff that feeds them misinformation?

Dan D.A. said...

Athletics? Really? WTF.

Anonymous said...

We are in Ingraham IBx and now that we have experienced it we would not go any other way. Standard IB (which is exactly the same except in Jr/Sr year) would still (IMO) be a vast improvement over the SPS curriculum. My kid's Biology book is college level material (since I teach this material at the UW I can vouch for that). The math classes and teachers have been fantastic - even though my kid does not want to do the HL math. Since there is no difference between IB and IBx I do not see how the IBx "pathway" can be eliminated. The faculty may want to eliminate (in favor of the Jr/Sr pathway) it for reasons having to do with student maturity but funding really won't be the reason. If you are midway through IB you cannot stop or the program is ended - you have to do the 2 years in succession. Students will not be pulled midway from the program. That'd be lawsuit material. However, it would be a huge loss for Seattle students if Ingraham's IB program were smaller or less accessible to new students. It really is one of the very few chances for students to access a truly rigorous high school program. And the IB faculty seem truly engaged and excited about the program. We would never consider attending Garfield in place of IB.


Sports Supporter said...

Sports, for some, is their only measure of success. Sports provides an opportunity for individuals to feel part of a group. Coaches have the potential to become role models and influence students.

Robert Cruickshank said...

These cuts do not need to happen and should be opposed. There is no equitable way to cut a district's budget. SPS looks like they are trying to use the budget process to achieve desired program and policy changes. We should reject the thinking coming from SPS senior staff that suggests we must pit children and schools against each other.

Anonymous said...

Very true Robert, thanks for bringing us back to reality. There is no need for any cuts - the district is going to try to pull a classic bait and switch.


mirmac1 said...

Hello? Disabled children denied access to friends, neighborhood and community?

Never mind.

Anonymous said...

The worry I see for most schools that won't receive a pass on cuts via the "equity lens" is the proposal to remove the discretionary funding from principals. This is huge and would impact every school. The small pot of dollars each school receives to tailor its offerings to student needs would be gone. Unless parents raised money, staff hours would disappear. I imagine this would hit the funding of extra IAs for language immersion schools. Or math-reading specialists, portions of a librarian or extra music teacher hours, etc.

I don't see the presentation spelling out the impact of this extremely disruptive suggestion. I hope parents and board members and teachers and principals push back.


SeaMom said...

EdVoter, the PTAs of school communities in well-off neighborhoods will just raise more money from parents to fill the gaps and retain those FTEs - which would represent a difference in degree from what is already happening now, but not in kind.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the presentation, MW. You can look up the "equity tier" of your school and guess which schools will see the most cuts. Cutting ES librarians from 1.0 to 0.5? Cutting HS nurses from 1.0 to 0.8? Eliminating counselors for schools under 60% FRL?? Very, very bleak. I can't believe cutting counselors is on the table. There is a limit to how much PTAs can raise.


Anonymous said...

Robert Cruikshank is correct. These cuts should be opposed statewide, and loudly. I know SPS has to plan for the worst, but I sense defeatist resignation on the part of the District (Superintendent op-eds and emails notwhithstanding).

PTAs should join together now and commit to *not* funding staff positions at schools as a result of cuts. If the legislature (or SPS) is counting on parents to make up for these cuts, they need to know now that we won't do this. We can't let them off the hook again.

No More

Anonymous said...

Two questions...

1. Our school already has the class sizes listed for next year. The exception is K where class sizes are one to two students below what is listed for next year. Does this mean our school will not have any classroom teacher cuts, or will we have extra ginormous class sizes next year so that the overall district numbers will come to the norm of the class size numbers proposed for next year?

2. On page 13 it says Reducing Schools by 4% and Reducing admin by 5.3%. Does this mean the overall budget for each area by this amount? If yes, then these cuts are majorly out of balance. If schools are roughly 80% of the overall budget and admin. is roughly 6% of the overall budget then there will be like 100+ position cuts to schools and only like 11 position cuts to admin. I'm working off of approximations but it does seem the numbers are out of whack. It is late and I don't have exact numbers but on first and second glance it really does seem that it is being proposed that schools take the major brunt of proposed cuts.


Anonymous said...

Better said...you can't tell from the presentation how many positions are proposed being cut from schools overall, and how many positions for admin. overall. If this is not clear how can the Directors make a reasoned decision?


Anonymous said...

One slide in the presentations says: "Items That Could Add To The Deficit That Are Not Currently In The $74m Plan” It includes 4 items:

• Transportation increases for two tiers
• SE Dual Language pathway
• Amendments to Student Assignment Plan
• $750k for IB that was funded this year

Here’s a stab at clarifying the TRUE costs of Amendment 1 — costs that are well beyond the $766,900 discussed last week. More like AT LEAST $1,927,000 in taxpayer dollars, regardless which bucket they’re coming out of. That includes transportation costs, mitigation costs (as listed, for small numbers of 8th graders only), 4 portables at Hamilton. It does NOT include any mitigation dollars for students other than 8th graders or any portable cost at Washington.

Of that, $897,000 adds to the deficit. Eagle Staff and Meany both need butts in seats to bring the dollars. We should send students and the dollars that follow them INTO the new schools, rather than spend ANY $$$ to keep students out of the new schools.

**Amendment 1 costs - Listed in amendment**

"$432,000 in staff mitigation funding may be needed to provide a comprehensive educational experience for 8th graders at the new schools, but the exact amount of this mitigation is difficult to determine at this time because there is no recent precedent for this action”

"$154,900 for 2 additional buses. The amendment will require 6 additional bus routes in total, but because the Board has previously approved amendments to the Growth Boundaries Plan that require the addition of 4 buses, those buses can be used in both Tier 1 and again in Tier 2 for the 8th graders.”

$180,000 for EACH additional portable. "This amendment could also potentially create additional capacity constraints at the existing schools for the grandfathered students, particularly Hamilton and Washington.”

Keeping all 4 = $720,000. Hamilton has 4 portables that were planned for just 1 year. With grandfathering, enrollment would drop by fewer than 50 kids from 1195 to 1150, necessitating portables. Capital dollars are used for portables. But who is in a position to waste ANY taxpayer dollars?

**Amendment 1 - Unlisted potential costs**

1. Unspecified $$$ for mitigation costs for 6th and 7th graders if enrollment numbers are low…potentially under 350 total depending on amendments passed (Amendment 1 only lists costs needed to help small number of 8th graders)
2. $309,800 for 4 extra busses if no “free” buses are available by sharing between tiers 1 and 2 (per amendment language above). Is this freebie in the amendment at risk if a 2-tier bus system is not adopted due to one-time costs?)
3. Unspecified $$$ for duplicate busses taking middle school HCC students from the same neighborhoods to 2 different middle schools. Both in north and south. Neither the number of buses or the $$$ are specified in the amendment because they are covered by state dollars SPS receives for HCC transportation. Again, who is in a position to waste ANY taxpayer dollars?
4. Portables at Washington? The Enrollment Planning Director told the board that there was a plan to reduce portables at Washington with Meany opening. Is there a cost to keeping those for grandfathering?

If I got the numbers wrong, please clarify

-Equity in Numbers

Anonymous said...

IBParent, you might want to take a step down from your high perch. Downtown is talking about draconian cuts and you assume they won't cut IBx for your kid because "that would be lawsuit material"? Puhlease. They are talking about IB period. All IB. IBx does not exist without IB. Get it?

Way before IBx I want to know why they'd cut Beach's IB program when at least that one is half funded by a grant, right? Hope if they have to cut IB, with Beach underenrolled, at least let the students from the other schools fill in the IB program there. Would stink for Sealth though. They have the longest running program by quite a few years.

Another question. Do the downtown managers really think only the poor students need a counselor in their school? Broken families, substance abuse, pressure.......those things only happen to poor kids? What a crock.


Anonymous said...

I personally will sue the district if they eliminate IB midway through the program without grandfathering it out for students who are already in the program and taking (and paying for) the IB exams. I promise that. You can call that a "high perch". I call it parental involvement and oversight.


Anonymous said...

Not surprised that there is no mention of students with disabilities assignment plan. Much easier to do those assignments behind closed doors where the only battle is with individual parents who are already worn out from extra parenting stress that often comes with children's disabilities.

The funds for IB that are going away, were only granted for this year. Those funds mostly cover the required admin & one extra 1 semester class. IB programs will return to their previous funding source which was mostly squeezing school budgets & staff for a few extra teacher hours.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

I am not implying that I support the discriminatory practice of separate assignment process for students with disabilities.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

True that HS Parent,

I may be wrong, but I perceive an admirable level of enthusiasm among IB teachers, at least at Ingraham. I think they are jazzed to be able to teach a consistent and rigorous curriculum without as much hand-wringing about common core etc. It's not all easy on the staff, some students bail and the school has to reorganize their schedules. But generally it seems to be working at Ingraham so I think the school may do what it takes to keep it going. You can ask Guy Thomas about that though. I'm not the expert.


kellie said...

Robert is correct that these cuts should be opposed systemically.

However, it is important to note that half of the budget gap is because of the levy cliff. The other half is because SPS committed to spend money they don't have. The entire idea that McCleary would be all worked out in time to BUDGET for the 2017 school year, which happens in 2016, and therefore SPS could commit to spend money that they didn't have, is also a big part of the problem.

Even if the legislature works out some of their issues, we will still have draconian cuts on our hands.

There are a few things on this list that have far greater than one time impacts. Those who were here during the closure era, know first hand the impact that teacher RIFs have not only on our current staff but on future hiring. It takes years to recover and we are just starting to recover now.

Because of some of SPS's more bizarre budget practices, we have reduced staff every Spring with the intent that we can rehire in August when folks are more confident about enrollment. This is despite year over year enrollment growth. This has lead to unfilled teacher positions district wide, every year and an inability to create a sub pool deep enough to cover the shortage.

RIFs of this scale, even if we find the way to hire back, will have a ripple effect on every school in the district, particularly the poorest. Even with these seeming protections to high equity schools, high equity schools will most likely lose most of their staff. This is because high equity schools tend to have the most junior teachers and those teachers will be the ones who are first in line to move to other schools when the rehiring starts.

This already happens every year now due to our budget practices. It would be dramatically accelerated with RIFs of this scale.

kellie said...

Additionally while the change at high school from 29:1 to 30:1 might seems almost innocuous, it is far more damaging that anyone could guess due to the complexity of capacity issues and the way the master schedule operates at high school.

K-8 is primarily a homeroom based experience, where teachers deliver classes to students in a homeroom and students are promoted to the next grade based on known criteria, including social promotions. Even when students don't get a full schedule in middle school, they are still promoted to the next grade. This is not true of high school.

High school is NOT a grade level experience. It is a 24 credit experience that is delivered via the master scheduled. I was thrilled when SPS changed the ratio to 29:1 because this small change gave the ability to schools to build a master schedule in May, that would enable them to deliver better services in the Fall.

There is something very bizarre that happens with high school enrollment that I neither fully understand nor can explain very well. There are almost 500 high school students who are on the enrollment reports during the first week of high school, who are no longer on the reports by Oct 1. The number drops every week and then .... enrollment reported "magically" matched the budgeted enrollment and there is no need to make any changes.

These students are going somewhere, most likely Running Start, but it could be anywhere. The change to 30:1 would force high schools to RIF teachers that will be nearly impossible to rehire. Some of our high schools have had open positions every year and some categories like Spanish language are particularly hard hit.

kellie said...


You have never seen a 29:1 high school class because of the fabulous practice done by the State of Washington and then passed down to our schools, despite levy dollars, called AAFTE.

AAFTE is designed as an incentive by the state to inspire schools to prevent drop outs. They way they create this miraculous inspiration is by only funding high school based on AVERAGE ATTENDANCE.

What this means in practice is that even at "good schools" with very low drop out rates, high schools are budgeted for 5% fewer students. For every 100 students actually in the building, only 95 students are counted in the 29 or 30 to 1 ratio. It is a barbaric practice that fails to recognize the complexity of the master schedule and means that in practice, every high school in the State of Washington receives not enough teachers to deliver the funded ratio, unless they use levy dollars to back fill.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of any unmandated standardized tests. That should save close to $1 million dollars.

And schools should not accept any reduction in staff unless they are mirrored by similar reductions to central admin.


Anonymous said...

The need to save money is real, and unbelievably ugly.

How about doing away with 'consultants', like the LEAN guy. SPS district links are broken of course, for info about LEAN, see this blog's entry for Sunday, January 11, 2015 Seattle Schools This Week
"It appears that the LEAN initiative included the hiring of Bill Echeverria in May 2014, as Director of Continuous Improvement. Mr Echeverria has a background in LEAN/Six Sigma.
From an Aug 2014 memo to principals about school staffing levels:
"Please know that Bill Echeverria, Director of Continuous Improvement, is redesigning the staffing adjustment process for 2015-16 using LEAN strategies to further improve the process." Ann D 1/14/2015"

Anybody else notice that the new-shiny "lean" has been TRADEMARKED! Awesome!
Because it is TM, clearly, it has a big mystic and awesomeness and will obviously make all educators, umh, that's what you and me (the plebeians) quaintly call 'teachers', instantly awesome... as if they were stumbling in the dark before the big silicon brains explained to them how to 'lean in'.
How many teachers out there, in front of kids, think that the one thing, the most important thing, you need to be successful in reaching struggling kids is some guru who did a computing device start up in silicon valley telling you to 'lean in' (trade mark)?
What if instead of having 31 kids in a K-5 classroom, you had 15? Would that help you be a more effective teacher to the students in front of you? Especially the struggling ones? You know, more time per pupil in real time? What if the load of a secondary teacher was not over 150 students? Might they be able to do more than simply check out writing assignments were handed in? Actually correct them and give constructive feedback??
Nah, just 'lean in'.
Good luck with that.
This is what the staff at the glass palace do all day?
That explains a lot.
Maybe less staff at the glass palace means less interference and time wasting of actual teachers who are in front of actual kids. Maybe that is how we get classroom teachers to be effective with struggling kids: have fewer bodies in the glass palace.

Really LEAN said...
Will administrators PLEASE stop buying things and put the resources in our classrooms?(!)
Let's fund IB, dual language,provide new math for middle school, put teachers back into the classroom etc.
What is the cost of LEAN?
I'm absolutely confident that if McLeary is funded, we won't see dollars in our classrooms.
Christmas is over, folks!

Does ANYBODY think that our children derived any value from this boondoggle?

Another source of big savings: DON'T open Decatur now, to 'relieve' Cascadia from 2 or 3 portables. That is a 90,000 sq ft brand new school. It can handle a couple of portables, just like all the other K5s in the north, many of which have 6 or 7! View Ridge, Bagley, Sacagawea, John Rogers, Laurelhurst, Wedgwood, McDonald, etc. They ALL have portables. Why do the teachers of Cascadia think their situation is so special they should be spared a single portable? Really? Opening up a new school costs the district's operating budget $400K per year in just fixed overhead, whether there are 10 students or 420 students. Opening up a new school in Decatur for 150 students is insane, when taxpayers just forked out about $44M to house these students in a brand new building on a big piece of land. Board directors are running scared. They need to learn how to say no. The board has been treated so unfairly for years. Forced to cave to the district's edicts that go against common sense because they have no access to real data and the time has run out.

This is a new disinformation low for the district. The fact that this is even on the table speaks to how much this district is run by politics and squeaky wheels rather than data and big-picture.


Anonymous said...

I agree with kellie and others that opening 4 new schools in a year of budget uncertainty is a recipe for disaster. Open fewer schools and not moving so many kids if possible may also resolve issues with moving kids and subsequent "mitigation" budget needed for small classes etc. It seems we are on a path to disaster, let's hope they can readjust.I am hoping this is an option on the table.
-bigger picture

Eric B said...

Last year, $750K was made available to the three IB schools to help fund the programs. This was new money to help offset some of the extra costs IB brings. The money came from the $30M windfall at the end of the year. If this year's budget is being used as the baseline, then a $750K cut takes us back to status quo antebellum and the programs will not be seriously harmed, especially at Ingraham. However, Sealth was having issues funding IB and other important stuff like wood shop.

On a similar note, who are the senators in Olympia who hold the reins on the levy cliff? I intend to drop by their offices on Monday even though I'm not a constituent.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain the IB funding? Did SPS finally agree to fund IB (the norm for every other district with IB), but now they are rescinding and going back to the lack of funding? Is it that they provided funding this school year, but they will end after only one year, or are they not even funding the one year they had promised? Ending funding is not the same as ending IB. They weren't funding IB to begin with! Wasn't it a school decision to offer IB? And a district decision to claim it was an HC service? They couldn't magically switch to AP offerings without some transition period. Well, I suppose they could, it's SPS after all. Who do they plan on putting in IHS with the 500 seat addition in 2019 (or is that waaaay too far ahead for SPS to plan?)?

not clear

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Eric B. I think you answered my question.

not clear

Anonymous said...

Eric: what you say about IB funding makes sense except that one of the ways schools are able to offer IB is through using its principal's discretionary funding toward the cause. Again, the removal of these dollars will harm every school. If that money is taken off the table as well as the money used to get Core 24 going, how will schools be able to offer IB? Their first job will be to handle core classes and it seems the IB schools will be back to bare bones. If I'm mistaken, good.

I don't want to overemphasize the IB situation, though. K-5s are really going to be hit hard. They often have the youngest staff and imbalanced class numbers. Staff laid off, split classes -- what a disaster. Thank you for going to Olympia on a holiday. SPS needs to get its bookkeeping in order, but the levy cliff is a fire drill entirely caused by politics. Politicians are directly...DIRECTLY...harming our students. They should be deeply ashamed.


Robert Cruickshank said...

All of the reported budget shortfall is due to Olympia's failure to fully fund our schools. A little less than half is due to the levy cliff. The remainder is due to the failure to fully comply with the McCleary decision, including funding teacher salaries. SPS has serious management problems at the JSCEE, no doubt about it. But the cuts are forced by Olympia - although SPS senior staff aren't exactly fighting back with everything they have, in part because they see the prospect of cuts as an opportunity to achieve policy changes they otherwise could not achieve.

One important thing to note is that the presentation Melissa shared shows they are going to try and impose fewer cuts on schools that don't have a high poverty rate (60%). But that means schools with a poverty rate of, say, 40% or 50% will still get hammered. And it's not as if the high poverty schools are fully protected - they get cut too.

The result of these budget cuts is that achievement gaps and inequities will grow worse. That is what happens every time you cut a school's budget, no matter how you structure the cut. The only way to avoid that is to avoid the cuts.

If SPS truly cannot avoid $44m (or $11m) in cuts, then they should protect the classrooms and gut the JSCEE first. Scale back central office staffing only to what is needed to keep the lights on in the classrooms, basically. All the consultants go away, all the extra staff go away, all the Executive Directors go away, all the funding for testing that isn't federally mandated goes away, and so on. But SPS isn't proposing anything like that, which gives away their game.

This is a critical moment for the future of this district. SPS has many good things going for it, and many serious problems to address. If parents and community members don't unite to demand SPS refuse to make any cuts, and that they instead go to Olympia and to the courts to stop it, then the students of this district may never recover. Inequities will grow far worse and the various gaps will grow far worse.

Solving this won't be easy, and it will require creative approaches as well as getting people in the JSCEE to step far outside their comfort zones and be willing to take actions they would normally not be willing to take. But the alternative is to start destroying our schools and hurting our kids, and that should not be an option.

kellie said...

I concur with bigger picture. We seem to be on a path for "perfect storm" in 2017. 2017 was the magical McCleary deadline and this is a short list of things that seem to be happening all at once.

2017 is the year that we would have fully reversed all of the draconian decision made during that closure and recession era, and of course, we have another crisis on our hands and almost nobody downtown who was employed during that time. So naturally, there is nobody looking at the big picture and lessons learned from the last time, we made cuts this deep.

* SPS committed to how they were going to spend McCleary money for the 2017 school year. However, the money, if it ever becomes available, was NEVER going to be available at the time of the 2016 budget cycle for the 2017 school year.

* Substantial change of power at the level of national politics that is emboldening obstructionism at the State level for the 2017 legislative session.

* An artificial "levy cliff" that should be easy to resolve, becoming a bargaining chip.

* It takes a long time to turn a battleship. For a 13 year school system, it typically takes 6-7 to reverse any major direction. 2017 was the year, that true NEW capacity was pushed into the system over and above, the capacity lost during the closure era. NEW Capacity is a true forward investment that adds significant costs to the operations budgets for 1-3 years after a new school is opened and four new schools, would be added to the system.

* 2017 is also the year that we would have fully reversed the drastic cuts from the recession. We are finally at the point where most of the pre-recession K-12 services are back.

* 2017 was the year that school communities were finally out of emergency, contingency, facilities (Boren, Lincoln, John Marshall, etc) and interim housing is used on a scheduled basis, not indefinite basis.

* 2017 is the scheduled implementation for a longer school day, that matches surrounding districts.

* 2017 was the target date for the return of the two tier system. Which SPS had for a long time and all surrounding districts maintained during the recession.

It would be nice if there was just one thing causing this mess, but it "looks and feels" like the toxic combination of closures and recession. People often wonder why SPS was still closing schools in 08-09, when the evidence of enrollment growth was so substantial. IMHO, the pressure of the recession generated budget cuts, caused people to be more reactive.

WANT NOT said...

The portables at Sacagawea are only used for preschool programs and after school Kids Co. Not for the elementary school. And John Rogers is slated for renovation in the next BEX. But in general the NE schools DO have a lot of portables, but that actually is an argument in favor of opening Decatur as an HCC location. There are too many kids in NE schools. They don't all fit in the buildings. That is actually WHY they need to open more school buildings. And the Decatur building is just sitting empty. If you had too many elementary school kids in one quadrant of the city, why not house them in a school that you have sitting around empty?

They are talking about 250+ kids or so for the Decatur building, not 150. Putting portables at the new Cascadia location would probably require about 7-8 portables. And at $70k per portable, that adds up. But it's a particularly wasteful idea to put the portables at the new Cascadia to house the kids IF they are still going to need to open up a whole new school for the kids the following year because by then they might need 15 portables. And there is actually no physical way to put 15 portables at the new Cascadia site. Not to mention that the building is only equipped for 660 kids. So the gym and lunch room and all the ancillary spaces aren't sized for the size they expect the population to be in 2 to 3 years. The Decatur building may save a lot of money in the long run because it already exists and it's sitting vacant. And it would save a ton on transporting kids from the Decatur neighborhood over to the Wilson Pacific site. I don't think it's as simple and clearcut as you make it sound. Even if saving money (as opposed to the education of children) were your only objective.

I'm completely in favor of not spending money on those silly consultants and their trademarked silliness.

kellie said...

Once again, Robert is correct. The SOURCE of this artificial problem, is the Legislature's failure to act.

I am not disputing that or contradicting that in any way. I am simply trying to add the conversation that SPS has gone through cuts of this depth that were not artificial and there should be a way to capture lessons learned and do this in a way that focuses on the education of students first.

My greatest concern is the churn that this process has on the long term ability to hire the people on the front lines that work inside school buildings. For example, if 100% of Ed directors were RIF'ed, they would still have jobs because there are Principal slots that could be filled. AND when the money was restored, it would be possible to rehire those job with minimal difficulty. This happened in the past.

However, we have learned the hard way, that there are certain job categories of building level staff, especially teachers, that once RIF'ed are challenging or impossible to backfill.

The need to protect the buildings is profound and there is not a lot of institutional memory.

Anonymous said...

@ Want not,

Schmitz Park moved into the new Genesee Hill building, which is equivalent to the Cascadia building with 720 students and no portables.

It is clearly a luxury item to open a new school in this budget crisis.

- NE mom

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa ... when you state the writing is on the wall for grandfathering ... do you mean yes or no?


N by NW

Anonymous said...

@waste not-the portables at Cascadia are a minor issue. It's to total size of the school. There are currently 754 students at Cascadia and families in neighborhood schools are not happy with MTSS for meeting AL needs, so that number is sure to grow. There are EIGHT 3rd grade classes. To compare Cascadia with 3-4 portables to smaller schools like Wedgwood, Laurelhurst and others is like comparing apples and oranges. I've heard this argument and it doesn't work for me. Besides, having more than 660 students on the new Cascadia site is against regulation and new permits would be required. Also, are you planning to escort the little kiddos to the bathroom?

Split Cascadia

Robert Cruickshank said...

Yes, I completely agree with you kellie, especially your point about reactive budgeting and its far-reaching consequences. Thanks for sharing your insights and suggestions here, as always.

Anonymous said...

Well our family for one will gladly take another year at overflowing Cascadia to splitting to Decatur next year. At least Cascadia has enough bodies to have staff for flexible scheduling. Reading through the particulars tells me if Decatur opens next year it gets close to nothing in staff beyond a teacher in every room plus two additional teacher headcounts for planning time. That means no additional classroom help and if we do one full time art and music teacher we won't have a full time librarian. And how do you run a new school with no assistant principal? The planning for the school has not even begun and it is more than a full time job for any one principal. I'm also wondering if we would be forced to take the junior teachers bumped from their own schools by the layoff. None of which will likely have experience teaching gifted kids. This looks like a mess. Just save a bit of money and let us suffer the effects of overcrowding until this budget gets straightened out.

North Mom

Watching said...

"However, it is important to note that half of the budget gap is because of the levy cliff."

I agree with Kelly's statement. There is legislation that would delay the levy cliff if the state provides funding for education.

I do disagree with commenters in that I believe funding is unpredictable for a few reasons:

1. What is going to happen at the federal level? Will the Trump administration
want to push charter schools? Or, will the feds want to provide
states with autonomy? At one point, we saw the feds want to link test
scores to teacher evaluations and the state lost flexibility
of federal funding ($40M).

2. We don't know if the legislature will fund education.

3. There are issues with levy swap that have not been addressed.

In regards to high school class sizes...when was the last time you saw a high school class with 30 students? I see high school classes with 32 - 40 students.

The board worked hard to fund IB and I continue supporting this program.

The legislature created uncertainty and board has a tough task ahead. I expect the budget process to continue for MANY months. We're looking at the START of a very long process.

Anonymous said...

Delaying Cedar Park for a year seems sane. Even more sane, because it will cost more than Cedar Park to run? Delay Meany for a year. Washington won't be more crowded next year than it is this year. Delaying Meany doesn't send the dominoes tumbling the same way Eagle Staff might. There's an easy $1 mil maybe more in one-year savings, I bet, between running the physical plant and staffing the school. Planning principal can have the job one year later and maybe with more staff to start. Win for all.


Watching said...

Clarification: There is legislation to suggest that if the state fails to fund education, the levy cliff will be delayed.

Lastly, last year there was one proposal to "fund" education and Seattle would loose $97M. The issues revolved around property taxes and levy issues.

Anonymous said...

Aghast-- Actually opening Eagle Staff sends dominoes tumbling in every direction. With or without grandfathering this train has lots of issues. It causes many small classes, lots of mitigation budget, two schools that may have serious issues. Might makes more sense to open Meany, grandfather Washington 8th graders who otherwise will not get core classes, and move some of the incoming 6th and 7th HCC at HIMS to Washington where there is an established three grade HCC program.

Anonymous said...

It's time to shelter in place folks.

Our poorest schools are about to take a hit even with mitigation money. Our slightly more wealthy,around 40 percent FRL, are going to be hit harder. Our enrollment plans for the north end are a mess and likely to cost millions in mitigation and transportation while still providing subpar classroom experiences.

This is unacceptable.

No opening of any school next year.Just stop. Do it now, this week, before open enrollment tours start. Hint: That means bring it up, Board, at tonight's workshop and insist upon it in the next Board meeting.

No new projects, capital or operational. Drop any current project downtown requiring federal or grant funding that is not identified as solid for fall 2017. Curriculum adoption process is already identified as tabled. Keep it that way.

No mitigation money for odd enrollment, but do not take away principal's discretionary dollars, which could help that situation a bit.

Carry on with projected 5% downtown cuts. Bump it up to 7.5 percent. Hit the central staff hidden in the school budgets. Do not cut front line staff from schools.

To repeat, do not cut staff at schools unless every school opening is delayed a year, downtown cuts are increased 50%, and budgets still cannot be met.

Upset parents can demand that downtown does better projecting for 2018-19 and more to the point can get their butts and their letters down to Olympia and tell them to cough up our levy and McCleary dollars.


Lynn said...

NOVA's building is expected to be half empty again next year. (255 of 510 seats filled.) How could that space be used to postpone opening Meany for a year? Of course, if Garfield is expected to be 300 students over capacity, they may need those seats. It'll be interesting to see if HCC students are more likely to choose Ballard or Roosevelt over Garfield in open enrollment.

It's too bad we're not opening a high school at Wilson Pacific next fall.

Anonymous said...

As we approach dealing with the consequences of big decisions, tonight and for the next four years, it might be an appropriate time to reflect on some thoughts in this timely article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-and-the-pursuit-leadership/201701/civil-dialogue-what-s-the-point


Motivated Ignorance

Anonymous said...

It's almost comical to see when AL is being impacted it's a 4 alarm fire and the hunt is on for waste. SENECA FAMILY OF SERVICES take a look at a crime.


Anonymous said...

I am very interested to see how enrollment ends up at Garfield next year. So far from what I am hearing people who have Roosevelt, Ingraham, or Ballard as an option are choosing it. People who live in the presumed Lincoln attendance area or Nathan Hale are a little more on the fence.

I hope we are all aware that opening new schools largely comes from the CAPITAL budget, which is not in deficit. The OPERATING budget is in deficit, though it will almost certainly be different by next fall. Opening new schools where overcrowding creates operating budget expenditures currently (like Cascadia or HIMS) is a way to use a different pot of money to protect students from the budget crisis. It does seem like Cedar Park may be different, depending on how much John Rogers costs to overload and whether Cedar Park will cost more to run as an option school.


Melissa Westbrook said...

N by NW, I mean that with the lack of money and staffing clearly calling out amendments as problems, it will be hard to vote yes. I think parents have a very good case but, in the end, I think the Board will have to say no.

I think DistrictWatcher is right. Stop now. First do no harm and spending money when you don't have it (or opening new schools with sub-standard support) is wrong.

I also agree that staff is being very cagey about downtown cuts and if they can be so specific about cuts to schools, they can about downtown.

I am also appalled that the district - so focused on equity and race - would hurt a program at three schools (two of which are heavily diverse). IB is making a difference at RBHS (and Sealth and Ingraham.)

What bothers me is that this campaign about equity and race is so vague - what exactly, in concrete steps, is being done? It feels like a lot of things for show and not many outcomes.

Anonymous said...

@YT "Might makes more sense to .... move some of the incoming 6th and 7th HCC at HIMS to Washington where there is an established three grade HCC program."

Since it would make most sense to move QA and Magnolia kids, you would have to move the 8th graders too.

2015-16 HCC enrollment showed 132 McClure area HCC kids. Sending just the 6th and 7th graders wouldn't provide enough relief if Eagle Staff doesn't open and NW kids stay put until Eagle Staff opens. I'm not advocating for QA/Mag kids to be moved... just saying you have to look at the numbers.


-Musical Chairs

Anonymous said...

As a Meany-to-be family I'd say stop the presses is about right. Washington is crowded, but it can hang on for another year. "Sleeper" above is wrong. There is a capital cost to having these buildings open. But there is a large staff cost too. You are doubling administrators from the old school. And non-core staff like music and art. Teacher ranks grow. Don't forget the janitors. Back of napkin is easily at a million per school at expanded salaries. If we are projecting these ridiculous cuts at all of our schools, it is plain wrong to be opening four new ones. I am not blaming our downtown people either. I am blaming our legislature and Inslee. Inslee is horrid. Is there a way to get the Soup or Paramount people on this? A petition or somesuch to get people activated yet this afternoon before the board makes a big mistake and plunges forward with a bog of grandfathering details? It feels the cart before the horse. Let's stable the horse, get a look at the budget if school openings wait a year, which means we'd be done with this stupid levy cliff issue and have some insight into the court-ordered funding. There is a bonus in that holding off would generate big news headlines which would make the lawmakers look like the asses their behavior indicates they are. Maybe it would help.

Caphill lurker

Anonymous said...

Have any of you driven on the Mercer mess...this decade? Seriously!?! Who would recommend shifting QA and Magnolia kids to Washington? That sounds like a traffic nightmare.

Beep beep

Anonymous said...

There are families at Whitman who live near Eagle Staff and are looking forward to the opening of the new neighborhood school. I understand the lack of funding but if the money follows students, shouldn't there be adequate funds for opening Eagle Staff?

Assigning the 6th, 7th and 8th grade HCC students from QA and Magnolia to Washington MS would be a drastic move by the district.

I wish the district would immediately report on the different scenarios with numbers and perceived impacts whenever an amendment is proposed. It would be helpful to have solid data instead of parents trying to obtain information individually. Either that or produce a page similar to the voter's pamphlet with an argument for and an argument against followed by a rebuttal for/against, contributors and contacts. My 2cents.

Jenny Young

Anonymous said...

Jenny, teacher money follows students but no way the full cost of opening a school.

I'd think you of all parents would be fine with a year breather to figure out this mess.

Do you realize Eagle Staff would not have any discretionary funding for 2017 either? I went and read the spreadsheet posted by Melissa. Do you think any other parents or board members will push for mitigation money for Eagle Staff when they have looked at this spreadsheet? I think it's more like there may be an uprising.

Who wants a skin and bones staffed new school? Who wants to be in a shiny new building when the rest of the kids get less than gruel and will have to like it?

Not me and not my student.

One mom

Anonymous said...

It doesn't make any sense to me to reassign QA and Magnolia HCC kids to Washington this year and then send RESMS and Whitman area HCC kids to RESMS the following year (if opening is delayed). That seemingly moves too many HCC kids away from HIMS, and going from severely overcrowded to underenrolled so suddenly would have huge impacts on the school overall. Plus, people are complaining that we don't have enough kids to fully open RESMS this year...so why start sending kids south of the ship canal?

Instead of crazy changes for this year, why can't we just figure out which school populations we need where in the longer term, then start to work toward that? If 5 is too many neighborhood feeder schools for HIMS (as kellie has said), why not move a feeder school to Whitman now to since Whitman apparently has room? Whitman already offers a comprehensive GE program, so access to courses wouldn't be diminished. Then when RESMS eventually opens, Whitman would have a larger base to prevent the underenrollment that is projected for that time. Maybe this makes more sense big picture?

reality bites

Anonymous said...

Jenny-- It will be a nightmare to open 4 schools without mitigation funding and a bad plan that does not address enrollment issues as well. JAMS had some mitigation funding (although cut) and even then ran into issues. Please look big picture. This is ALSO about kids (all grades) and their core education.

Although some Eagle families are "looking forward", it is a very bad time to move kids. In addition, as Kellie has pointed out on previous posts, this plan was based on old data. The train left the station and we are on a bad path. Whitman is not over enrolled.
-another mom

Anonymous said...

Another thing to consider, RESMS will need some serious physical security. There have already been numerous issues with people trespassing and sleeping in the RESMS building and in those terribly thought out alcoves. Who's going to pay for this security and physical damage? Are school staff going to be responsible to clear out the homeless addicts each morning from the alcoves? I see a huge law suit if one of our teachers is assaulted.

Parents need straight answers to the various crime and a traffic safety issues BEFORE any student is assigned to RESMS. SPS is pretending these issues do not exist and hoping no one talks about them. SPS has provided no details on the mitigation for health and safety.


Anonymous said...

Reality Bites-- Removing a feeder school is another option. As long as those kids classes align with the new school where you are sending them. Otherwise, same situation about mitigation funds for small classes. Foreign Language offerings at HIMS do not align with other schools, such as Whitman for example, that offers one semester. HIMS is full year for many kids all three grades. Mitigation funding is needed for any split or change in which there will be small classes. Math is another issues, multiple levels. For any change, they need to think about the kids impacted, mitigation funds and figure out who needs what class for a basic education.

At Washington is that as there is already an established 3 grade HCC program, incoming 6th and 7th would be integrated and have classes they need. If 8th were moved, there would be a lack of alignment with Foreign Language as HIMS offers Third year to 8th graders, Washington only offers second year. This would likely be the only class that would be small and need to be mitigated for 8th graders only.
-big picture

Anonymous said...


I've heard the city is providing $1 million to help with safety issues (no details). Someone previously mentioned that safety would not be a problem because parents would act as safety monitors. I would suggest otherwise, because there are some very dangerous people lurking around the area and they are not easily intimidated, even by the police.

Parents would be wise to visit the area at various times of the day and especially the evening after dark as in the time your kids might be participating in after school activities.

I can guarantee you will not feel comfortable even if you're 6'5".


Anonymous said...

I'll be the first to say it. I don't believe Ingraham will be able to maintain its IB program for the HCC cohort if this is the final $$$$$$$$ situation out of downtown. Maybe this is another reason SPS has been so cagey as to just how many HCCers Ingraham will take. You can't find the number anywhere.

Prove me wrong SPS. Guarantee Ingraham will have an IB path for HCC come fall. Someone downtown and not Principal Floe state it as a fact before open enrollment. If it is happening, give us the number of students it will serve.

North of 85th

Oh yeah. Count me as another parent who says let the kids stay in their crowded schools next year and don't monkey with things until some budget budges from Olympia. Bunch of dolts in Olympia. Cuba Gooding Jr. nailed it. "SHOW ME THE MONEY."

Anonymous said...

The Taco bell on the corner is a magnet for drug selling and prostitution. Boy I really miss the old business that sold firewood and bark. Johns don't like bark splinters!

Just a little humor.

Too bad SPS just didn't sell off that land and pick a better location or save the proceeds for an emergency.

90th Aurora

Another NW said...

SPS did state the following in the October enrollment projections update "Ingraham was assumed to draw no more than 90 HCC 9th grade students, until additional capacity comes
online in 2019."
Since I already have a 9th grader there, wondering if they don't have IB going forward will they be replacing current IB classes with AP classes so my kid can have an equitable education to other area High Schools? And of course what about the kids in the middle of their IB diploma which must be completed in 2 years?

Anonymous said...

Ingraham already offers Honors classes to all. That's good enough.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I've heard the city is providing $1 million to help with safety issues (no details).

Yes, I reported on this last year but no details. I could try to ask someone at the City.

"Someone previously mentioned that safety would not be a problem because parents would act as safety monitors."

No, they won't. They might for a couple of weeks but then, well, people have lives (plus no training in how to handle various situations.)

Peaches, if you know for a fact that those Honors for all classes have fully differentiated teaching, let us know how you know. IB and AP classes are absolute stepping stones to college and until that changes all the "Honors for All" notations will mean very little to college admissions officers. I asked about this years ago to UW Admissions.

Anonymous said...

@ Peaches, Ingraham doesn't offer a full slate of AP courses--far from it. From the course catalog:" Ingraham currently offers three AP courses. These include AP Statistics, AP Calculus, and AP Computer Science."

It's an HCC pathway option school, so no, that's not good enough. Actually, it's not good enough for anyone, if IB goes away (which I doubt will happen).

reality bites

Anonymous said...

@One Mom and Another Mom
Yes, there are "Eagle" families that are ready to go because you know, they aren't being given an opportunity to grandfather. So what would you suggest they do?
-yet another Mom

Anonymous said...

Ingraham doesn't have an IBX "pathway." They have 90-some spaces for out-of-area HC students who apply by lottery. These spaces take much-needed pressure off of Garfield, Roosevelt & Ballard. IB, even without the X, is an attractive enough program to draw 90 HC students. As Eric B noted, the 750K is extra money that they're not getting next year. It's not the base funding for the entire Ingraham IB program. I'm not worried.

good fit

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I thought Honors and AP were synonymous. Oh Well how confusing, gened classes, honors classes, AP classes and IB classes.

I don't see how this is manageable or fair to any district or it's students.

If the goal of K-12 public education is to prepare public school students for college then they need to provide the classes that our state public universities require for admittance.

I believe this should be good enough, if you want more frosting mix it yourself!


Anonymous said...

Will anyone other than me declare war if our schools take cuts but they keep the budget-sucking middle-management executive directors on board? That's more than a cool half-million in savings in one easy cut.

Seen it

Anonymous said...

Ingraham had an IB program for years before they had this extra funding, which was only for this year. It is hard on the school & teachers to pull this money from the school budget. Continuing the IB program at Ingraham is not dependent on the extra funding, though Sealth & Rainier Beach need the funding more. IBx program is also not dependent on this funding.

The 3x5 schedule is a much bigger threat to IB all over the district than this funding change.

-IB Parent

Anonymous said...

On the one hand, the people downtown are taking away K through 8 discretionary spending but high schools can keep theirs. On the other hand, if all Core 24 support is cut but high schools still have to make sure it happens for their students, I'd expect some massive changes in how schools are staffed and what courses are offered. That's where I suspect IB could get burned. AP is cheaper so school budgets stretch farther. Someone at JSCEE definitely needs to clarify intent prior to kids choosing a high school.

Seen it

Anonymous said...

Imagine if Lakeside, Seattle Prep, Holy Names and other schools were facing a budget shortfall of this magnitude. I would imagine they would reach out to current families, alumni, corporate sponsors and be able to raise more than enough money. These stakeholders are in a position to give, and as importantly, have the will to give.

We've lost most of the upper middle class to private schools in Seattle. 28% private school attendance, and given the cost, this is the vast majority of those that can afford (given the cost of living here) to pay $15K-$40K per year. There is more than enough money in Seattle to fully fund (compared to the best funded school systems in the US) our schools. We've also lost 28% of the most politically active, active in the classroom families.

Imagine how different it could be. Instead of threads like this, fighting over a diminishing pie, we could actually be investing much more. I have to imagine that would do so much more to close the opportunity gaps that continuing to push people out of SPS through closing advanced learning and focusing solely on closing the opportunity gap. It's not that we shouldn't focus on the opportunity gap, it is that the school has to make a commitment to serve every single student.

It's a massive failure of leadership over years and years by SPS to get us to this point. The title of the blog is save seattle schools, but if they don't understand how to save themselves...

Cap Hill

Anonymous said...

@ Peaches, it's not so black and white. You said "if the goal of K-12 public education is to prepare public school students for college then they need to provide the classes that our state public universities require for admittance. I believe this should be good enough, if you want more frosting mix it yourself!"

Our universities do have basic admission requirements (e.g., 4 years on English, 3 years of math and social studies, 2yrs of lab science and world language, etc.), but to suggest that just meeting those basic requirements is enough to get in is wrong. SPS students will be compared to students from all over the state, including public and private students from schools that DO provide honors, AP and IB classes. They're also compared (to some extent) to students from other states and countries. I can't believe that taking the bare minimum will get them very far in admissions processes--and not just for our own state colleges and universities, but at most schools around the country.

Reality bites

kellie said...

The change in staffing ratio at the high schools will have a far greater impact than the discretionary dollars.

This change will most likely create a reduction of at least 2 FTE at each of the comprehensive high schools, which will result in the loss of at least 10 slots on the master schedule.

This will dramatically impact the ability of seniors to get the classes they need for graduation and/or college entry. We should expect to see an uptick in Running Start enrollment.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seen It, if they got rid of the EDs and their boss, that would be almost $1M.

I am very unhappy that no Director asked what the Central Office cuts would be. Why is the cuts to schools so detailed? (Also, this is Central Office, NOT Central Adm.)

Anonymous said...

I don't care about other state's colleges or private college's admission requirements. We the citizens of this state own all publicly funded colleges in this state and those colleges should be working with all districts to build a equitable system so all our state's children can achieve a proper K-12 education to be admitted.

These schools are out of sync and are not fulfilling their duty to this states citizenry. If students choose to leave the state's system or choose to go private then it's their responsibility and not the school districts to meet those schools admittance requirements.

It's time for a state's citizen first admittance policy at all our tax payer funded state colleges.


Anonymous said...

@ Peaches, you're not getting it. If SPS provides the bare minimum in requirements, SPS students won't fare as well in our in-state admissions processes. Our students who graduate with the required number of years of GE-level courses will lose out to students from private schools and other districts in WA, because those others will have transcripts that include honors and AP an IB level work. SPS students would have more trouble getting into our state universities, and--not that you care--they would have fewer options out of state, too. Are you suggesting SPS should become a feeder district for community colleges, and leave the university prep track to surrounding districts and private schools?

Reality bites

Anonymous said...

No you're not listening to what I'm trying to say.
Let's try it a different way.

SPS should be required to provide the education that EVERY student needs to attend the UW or WSU and the UW and WSU should be a partner in making that happen.

Our local state students should be confident there will be a place for them if they complete high school.

It's time to stop pandering to elitist and fulfill our duty to these kids.


Anonymous said...

@Peaches, the state funds less than a third of UW costs. The rest has to come from students. WA students get lower tuition, students from out of state and out of the country pay higher tuition. The state legislature mandated a tuition cut for in-state students. The university needs more and more of the higher tuition non-residents to make the budget work. Citizen first only works if the numbers work, that is, if the state's contribution and in-state student tuition is enough to balance the school's budget. And it's not, not by a long shot.

And "good enough" is all SPS students are getting. Which, ironically, increases the gap, as anyone who can afford to get out of SPS, does.


Charlie Mas said...

I wonder how things would be different if there were an education fundraising group in Seattle that was less political and less in the pocket of the Chamber of Commerce than the Alliance for Education.

Would people contribute to it generously? What sort of grants could it make (or should it make)?

Charlie Mas said...

@ Peaches,

UW and WSU are, without a doubt, two valid paths to success for our children. There are, however, many, many others, and our schools should support them all - not just those two. Our schools should provide the skills and education each student needs to succeed in that student's chosen path.

As for other choices being "elitist", the students seeking a path through community college, vocational school, the military, or even Western Washington University might see your UW/WSU path as elitist.

Our duty to the children is not to narrow their range of choices, but to broaden it.

Anonymous said...

@ Peaches, I'm listening--you're just not making sense to me.

SPS can only provide access to the classes students need. It can't force students to take higher level classes they aren't ready for, and it can't force them to learn the material and pass the classes.

You originally said offering honors classes to all was good enough. Then when you were informed that honors and AP aren't the same thing, you said having GE, honors, AP and IB classes was confusing and not fair. Then you said "if the goal of K-12 public education is to prepare public school students for college then they need to provide the classes that our state public universities require for admittance... This should be good enough, if you want more frosting mix it yourself!" This was apparently in reference to advanced classes (e.g., AP and IB classes), which it appears you don't support. However, when it was pointed out that AP and IB classes are important in order for SPS students to be competitive with students coming from anywhere else, you now say SPS should be required to provide the education that EVERY student needs to get into the UW or WSU. So now you do support AP and IB classes--and maybe even a great expansion of them? It's clear as mud.

Care to share any specifics re: what you think should be different re: the high school course offerings available now? Currently SPS does provide access to the classes students need to get into UW and WSU, as evidenced by the fact that SPS graduates are accepted into these institutions. Is your premise that ALL SPS students should be required to take and pass honors, AP and IB level classes and do exceptionally well on the SAT and ACT so that ALL of them can gain access to these universities? Should this apply only to SPS, or also other school districts in the state? Should every high school graduate in the whole state be admitted to UW or WSU? I doubt there's room, but even if there were, the quality of education at these institutions would likely suffer. It would be like extending an "honors for all" (aka "honors for none") approach to the university level. The prestige of our universities would suffer, and with that so would their ability to attract high-caliber professors and research dollars. Interest from out-of-state and international students would diminish, further hurting the bottom line (and resulting in even more cuts to quality). It's a vicious cycle. If we want to turn our university system into more of a community college system open to all, this will have wide-ranging impacts on the overall community and economy and business environment and housing prices and... you get the idea. I'm very interested to hear more on your thoughts about what, specifically, should be different.

reality bites

Anonymous said...

My eldest child went to a Waldorf high school. Colleges ask that you take the highest level classes available. At Waldorf, there are no Honors, AP or IB classes. Everyone takes the same classes. Everyone takes at least pre-Calculus. What colleges were looking for in my eldest child's application were test scores, essays, extracurriculars, and recommendations. My eldest child was accepted to the UW as well as other competitive universities.

I am not saying that SPS should do away with IB, AP, etc. What I am saying is that colleges can deal with kids not having AP, etc. available.


Eric B said...

Maybe this is a middle ground between Peaches and Reality Bites. The state should fund minimum entry requirements for UW and WSU. Heck, the state should fund 24 credits, since they're going to start requiring it before long. Maybe not every student takes the minimum entry requirements for UW and WSU, but the option is there. That is the bare minimum, IMHO.

In addition to that, I think the state should fund some level of vocational classes (wood, metal, auto shop, etc.) for all students. Some will take more, especially if they want to go to the trades, some will take less (although I think everyone should take some). The state should fund some level of AP/IB/honors classes. Everyone who is qualified to take these classes should be able to if they want to. Again, some will take more and some will take less. In short, everyone who wants to go to college should be able to do it, but those who don't want to should be able to get into post-secondary training needed for a living wage job.

Anonymous said...

@ Eric B, I don't understand how this is a middle ground between what Peaches and I said. I'm not quite sure what Peaches is advocating for, but it seems to be less than me, and I was mainly talking about the status quo. What you propose seems to be even more than the status quo--which is great, and which I fully agree the state should pay for, but that doesn't seem likely anytime soon.

I think this side conversation has gotten confusing because Peaches' comments have been all over the map, so maybe it's best to wrap this one up.

Reality bites

Elsa said...

I would cut (CTE) Mr. Gallagher's "Assistant", who was his assistannt in Bellevue and got hired here as a "consultant" so as to continue to assist him despite all that equal opportunity stuff.