Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Live Blogging from Budget Meeting

Update at 6:29 pm : yes, the Work Session on the Budget is still going.  Staff wants a consensus tonight (which is not what the Board expected.). I think there is a big squeeze on the Board but they are pushing back.

Consensus seems to be this is no way to run a district (and that not opening the Cedar Park is a non-starter for at least three directors.)

End of update

Everyone is at the table but Director Patu.  Lots of staff who seem surprisingly cheery for a serious budget meeting.

Superintendent is saying this is a manufactured crisis and on the Legislature.  Director Geary and other staffers were in Olympia this morning, visiting Seattle delegation.  "The stalemate continues" there.

Note: this is being broadcast on Channel 26 and live-streamed at district website.

There will be a press conference with 35 school districts tomorrow about levy cliff.

Noel Frame - 36th district and Nicole Macori for 43rd talked by phone for full funding.  Seattle delegation met with Nyland, a 7 am meeting this morning and the massive import of addressing levy cliff.   They are co-sponsors of bill on this issue and this hour, House is hearing bill on third day of session and get it moved out of House. They believe they have a mandate from voters to get swift action.

Dems behind this but they are worried about Reps and lack of progress on McCleary and worried it will happen to levy cliff.  What they want is calling on Senate to hold a hearing on this bill.  No hearing currently scheduled.  New chair of Senate Ed committee (she didn't name him or her) and believes that person should be pressured. Zieger from the 25th is chairman.

Not just a Seattle issue and need to mobilize around the state.  (I would think the WAPTSA could help with this effort.)

Blanford asked for specifics of Senate members to call beyond leadership/ committee members.
Frame said immediate next step is getting hearing from committee.  (I will look this up and provide names and contact info.).

MOved on to Budget presentation

Harris asked for Central Office Efficiencies to be explained.  It is RIFs there but no explanation.

Blanford then, unbelievably, asked about comparisons with other districts for administration.  Waste of time given our predictament AND the fact that school cuts are far worse than admin cuts.  Plus no one said that there is Central Office AND Central Adm so that percentage is far higher than is being explained.

Chris Kronos Highland Park principal and  president of PASS is speaking on WSS committee process. They were invited into process, we asked for principals who had experienced this in the past, Met 4-5 times over 2-3 months.  (There were also SEA and JSCEE staff.) Cuts Will hit elementary schools the hardest.  Cuts in office staff in larger schools is likely.  Assistant principal portion was difficult to deal with esp for schools that get levies dollars and purchase higher number of staff (like high needs schools.).

Issues created by reductions was brought up.

Back to JoLynn.

Page 19 of PResentation now represents the cuts:

- 19 assistant principals
- 120 teachers
- 2.5 librarians
- 2.0 nurses (plus lowering number of hours for some other nurses)
- 4.0 counselors
- 18 core certificated
- 12.5 office staff

I didn't do the math but they are saying it's 178 positions.

Director Patu has arrived.

Harris asked about CSIPs and accountability that is "clear as mud."  Kronos said that it's up to principals and EDs.

Peters opined about loss of counselors and 60% being the poverty cut-off while there are still schools hthat have high numbers of kids in poverty.

The room is now full.

I"m going to have to end it here as it is too hard to report in detail.  I will keep taking notes and try to just include high level info.


Eric B said...

Is the chair of the Senate ed committee the one to pressure, or is it one of the finance committees? I can dig up the name if I know the committee.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's Ziegler, I believe, on the Ed Committee.

Anonymous said...

I don't get why we should put everyone through this charade. If schools can make these cuts work, it sure doesn't help make the case that schools are underfunded. Why not agree on a calendar that shuts the district down on May 1st because that's as far as we can get and do right by kids? Time for the School Board to take a stand.

Get Real

Anonymous said...

The presentation is incredibly painful. The changes being made are drastic. The cuts are far worse than anything during the recession.

The room is packed with the "usual suspects" and then a huge contingent from Cascadia with signs that read 100% of Cascadia staff support geo split. The contrast is pretty painful.

- another mom

Karl said...

The district should not be planning on cuts; I agree it should simply shut down when the money/funding runs out. That creates a (negative) equitable impact, and as it happens other districts puts pressure on multiple legislators to get their act in order.

Cascadia's level of support from its parents and staff is something every other school in this district should emulate. (And yet, their per-capita PTA ask is lower than at many other schools in N Seattle.) I applaud them!

Jason Y. said...

Yeah, if the school district was going to forcibly split my kids' school in half, I definitely think you'd be hearing from our parents and teachers about it!

Anonymous said...

Jason Y - Cascadia is asking to be split. You don't get that??

Karl - its real easy to pontificate when you have no responsibility or acccountability, isn't it.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Geary just said the public needs to be on notice that no matter what is decided tonight it is possible and she leaned toward probable that there will be a restructuring of the system next year to provide more equitable access to programs to all students. She also said she is against opening another self-contained HCC school meaning Decatur.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, Geary said that tonight? If so, I must have missed it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Melissa, she said that. I posted right after she said it so if there is a way to go backward on the streaming version of this meeting you should be able to use the timestamp of my comment to find it.


Robert Cruickshank said...

Hans Zeiger is the new chair of the K-12 education committee in the State Senate. He represents Puyallup, which is poised to lost $12 million next year if the levy cliff isn't extended or resolved.

As to SPS, it's pretty disappointing to see senior staff openly using this mess as justification to attack programs they've wanted to cut. Nyland's comments that "K-8 and option schools are unsustainable" is clearly absurd given that they've been around in some cases since the 1970s.

Worse is the senior staff treating these cuts as inevitable, rather than as an incredibly damaging thing that will hurt the education of every child in the district and thus should be avoided at all costs. Rather than finding ways to avoid this, such as filing new motions or lawsuits against the state (the Supreme Court is not likely to look favorably on the state forcing these cuts, as it counters the state's assertions made to the Court last fall that they are making progress in McCleary compliance), the senior staff are very quick to suggest these cuts have to happen now.

If they were serious about prioritizing education and equity, they would instead be refusing to make these cuts until a court comes in and forces them to do it. I'd like to see that kind of attitude - a protectiveness of children and teachers from SPS senior staff. That's not what's on display tonight.

If any board director votes for these budget cuts, I'll be very disappointed. Fight back. Stand up for our children. Don't just roll over and let this happen.

Anonymous said...

That is a comment I missed Robert. At what point did Nyland say option schools and k8 schools are unsustainable. I'd like to hear that for myself so a general time in the presentation would be helpful.


Robert Cruickshank said...

Trying to remember. I believe it was right after talking about savings that would come from not opening Cedar Park next year and an explanation of the curriculum savings. Not sure about an exact time. I'm pretty sure that's what Nyland said though about K-8 and option schools and someone else on Soup for Teachers heard it as well.

Watching said...


Get another handle. I"ve been using this moniker for years. I did not write the above comments.

Eric and others,

It is very important to contact the chair of the Senate Education Committee. I also feel it is important to contact others on the Senate Education Committee- especially Senator Joe Fain and Senator Ann Hill. Very important.

Watching said...

Clarification: The Senate Education Committee has not scheduled a hearing for SB 5023 which deals with the levy cliff. Please write to members of the Senate Education committee and urge a hearing.

Anonymous said...

Jeez Watching. I was simply watching the meeting. You don't inspire people to lift a finger when you're a blog scold.

Robert, thank you for the information. I have not located the quote yet because I do not have access to the taped interview. If I can find it, he actually said it, and this blog can broadcast it, there will be fireworks. When does Nyland leave again? Because with the option and K8 community, if he said it, he's done. Fork in him. Done. What a load. Keep the downtown staff and cut off access to the bare amount of choice left in this town? With charter schools begging for a toehold? I don't think so, Mister.

-watching- ... or - was watching - (Hope that works for grumpy Watching. Harumph.)

Watching said...

Name calling is not permitted on this blog and I hope the above comment is deleted. As well, it is common courtesy not to take another person's moniker. I hope Melissa addresses this issue.

not mc-t said...

it is cleared up watching - thin skinned much? someone purposefully stole my moniker today clearly pretending to be me. other watching seems to me to be merrily making a mistake. name calling would be to say you are a grump right... not to say that you appear to them (and me) to be acting grumpily.

this is bigger than petty scuffling right? mirmac on another thread is gleefully waiting for option and hcc demise. where is the decorum people?

i say no cuts until dt officers were cut. i would start with ed's as they don't do anything as there is site control at the individual schools. that is at least a million dollars. then there are 4 levels between those folks and the sup. cut one more level.

-no caps

facts said...

Geary didn't say that. I watched the whole thing. Not sure why she's under attack. She seems reasonable and smart. I have a kid in APP and don't find her troubling.

Anonymous said...

facts, Geary did indeed say that. Why she has such an axe to grind in the HCC program is truly an interesting question. She also said that her own child is in the IBX cohort at Ingraham.

As a board director she needs to speak respectfully to and about all students and families, not just to the ones she personally likes. AL needs work, but we can do this work without her threats and obvious bias.

fight lies

Anonymous said...

I believe the comments re: unsustainable budget bit is at around !:07 on part one of the meeting via Youtube. He actually doesn't say the option schools are unsustainable, he says the District's overall budget is, but uses option schools getting extra teachers as an example - though I'm not 100% sure on that - his speaking style is rather.. "low key" for want of better term


Lynn said...


Director Geary's comments appear on the second video from last night's meeting beginning at 12:10.

Here's my take on what she said:

I'm not in favor of passing the student assignment plan because it includes the creation of another self contained program at Decatur. This decision should be made as part of a greater discussion rather than being included in this process. We are growing something that has been shown to be inequitable.

If I had my druthers we'd be looking at opening advanced learning option schools at both Cedar Park and Decatur. This would satisfy the law by offering the required types of services but not limiting access to them.

We leave other students behind when we say that we provide these services everywhere because we allow the kids who'd provide the passion to those kinds of curriculums to siphon off into HCC. It leaves the kids who'd also benefit from that cohort not getting access to what it brings.

I want to put the public on notice that we are in flux trying to manage the equitable delivery of our education models to all of our kids. That may require reshaping and rethinking because we have a structural problem in this district that contributes to the opportunity gap and the achievement gap.

We aren't providing the same kind of opportunities to everyone. We created a structure that doesn't appeal to all populations. They don't feel welcome in it and need access to advanced learning opportunities.

....something about academic, intellectual and creative...

Anonymous said...

I'm stunned. Central admin only gets a 5% cut? And no breakdown?

I just sent the following to Sup. Nyland -- probably won't do any good, but I had to say SOMETHING:

"Dear Superintendent Nyland,

Thank you for providing the budget overview to all SPS families.

Please ask your staff to provide a detailed breakout of what cuts are projected for Central Administration ASAP. Many SPS families are dismayed at the bloat that has taken place at the top of SPS -- including whole new layers of management with salaries of over $100k/year -- while our principals, teachers and critical support staff struggle to meet the daily needs of our kids and families. And now we hear that in the face of this budget crisis, the administration is proposing cutting nearly 180 front line staff positions, while cutting the central admin budget by only a little over 5%. Where is the equity in this decision?
Cut the bloat at JSCEE. Keep our assistant principals, teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses, and support staff right where they are -- helping our kids to learn, day in and day out.

A concerned SPS parent,"


Anonymous said...

PS: Re: Potential ways to reduce bloat at JSCEE, I just had a look at compensation data/job titles at SPS in this database of public salaries:

I sorted all SPS staff by salary, in descending order.

I identified 41 individuals who had a salary in excess of $100k in 2015-16 who were not principals -- I don't think any of them were teaching staff, either (not sure what "professional" covers in the classification system).

Those 41 employees were paid over $17.7 million in base salary in 2015-16, and an additional $108k in bonuses.

If SPS would temporarily reduce pay/eliminate bonuses to this class of its staff-- this includes Sup. Nyland and the Directors -- by 20%, they could cut another $3.648 million off the budget. A 25% paycut would increase the budget savings to $4.533 million.

I once took a 23% paycut to pursue work I believed in. They would still all be making well over the median income in Seattle.

Oh, and I also did some googling on some of the names in this highly paid cohort and could not find obvious traces of them on the internet. Which seems a bit odd. You make over 100k working for SPS and you aren't on LinkedIn? What exactly do you do?


Anonymous said...


You are so predictable but so am I. The difference is that you continue advocate for your own children and I am advocating for all of the children I have ever taught. I am
well into the late second decade of teaching. I have no children of my own I'm promoting.

How about if you and nc and all the others fess up. You are trying to promote your own
children. All your rationalizations and attempts to grab for straws boils down to this: You are trying to be good parents. I have hiked enough to have come across mother bears in the wild.

What you are forgetting is that, in the process, many others are getting the shaft.

That's what the rest of us are saying. And I'm glad Jill Geary gets it. She knows that there are gifted children who haven't been identified. And, unlike you and others (including Melissa, who continues to try top play both sides of the fence but clearly sides with those in power), Jill isn't using poverty as an excuse for not recognizing their gifts and capabilities.

"....something about academic, intellectual and creative..." (there are many, many,
many besides YOURS who have those traits, qualities and gifts).

So, because Jill isn't becoming the Whipping Doll that you may have predicted, you are taking an insidious approach but the truth remains: You are on the losing side on history on this MLK weekend even though Trump won this round.


Anonymous said...

Lake City Mom,

You are ON IT.


Anonymous said...

Lake City Mom - lots of people departed LinkedIn after their massive hack so that's not surprising - it's always been more business-centric in the first place.

I personally think the biggest lie SPS admin has told for the longest time is the wordplay involved in using both "Central Office" and "Central Admin" as 2 separate and distinct categories. This is how they play the "but Central is only 6% of the budget" game over and over and over and over.

It is a SCHOOL district, not a corporation. Bonuses are nice but in a time when you are depriving children of needed services like oh say nurses...or counselors...etc etc, then no one should get a bonus. NO ONE.

Cuts should always always always be Admin first, Classrooms last


Anonymous said...

Discussed this before but according to the 2016/17 Budget Book, SPS has made the following increases in upper level staff since 2014.

Deputy Supt - 2014 = 1.5 and 2016/17 = 2.5 up 1
Other District Admin 2014 = 34.0 and 2016/17 = 41.7 up 10.7 (at over $100,000 each)
"Professional" 2014 = 155.3 and 2016/17 = 173.2 up 17.9
Director/Supervisor 2014 = 87.4 and 2016/17 = 100.9 up 13.5 (many over $100,000)

A lot of what most people would classify as "central admin" is lumped into the category "Student Support Activities" which is described as

include the cost of building operations, including grounds, building maintenance,
custodial services, utilities, property management, property and liability insur
ance, technology services, printing, mailroom services, procurement, and warehouse services. This group also includes the expenses for school buses, Metro bus passes, and for the food and operations of the district lunch and breakfast program.

and accounts for 16.1% of the 2016/17 Budget



Anonymous said...

I have to chuckle at the idea out of judging a person's professional merit based on their Linked In activity. - TS

Anonymous said...

@ FWIW, I don't have an HC student in SPS either, so I guess that makes my perspective more valid in your eyes? Awesome. But guess what? I'm a strong advocate of cohorted HC services. These students are often such outliers that their needs--academic, social, emotional--really can't be met in a typical classroom. Teachers have very little experience with such students, and even if they are interested in trying to serve them appropriately--which is often NOT the case--they rarely know HOW. Most teachers have only a handful of gifted children each year, and those are much more likely to be mildly or moderately gifted (which might qualify for "highly capable" programs). Statistically speaking, individual teachers are not likely to encounter many--if any--highly, exceptionally, or profoundly gifted students in their entire careers. You being in your second decade of teaching does not make you an expert of the needs of gifted students, especially as compared to those of us who have spent decades actually raising such children/teens/adults.

I find it kind of ironic that on one hand you argue that as a teacher your perspective on giftedness is somehow more valid, when at the same time you argue that it's not fair that the gifts and capabilities of children in poverty aren't often identified/realized... Aren't teachers like yourself partly to blame for that? If teachers aren't very good at recognizing giftedness, why should we take your word about how best to serve such students?

rare birds

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you for that data, LakeCityMom. Kind of stunning but not surprising.

No one here gets to criticize others because they do have children in the system or don't have children in the system. People get to advocate for all kinds of reasons. And, then to try to make an illusion to bad motives linking it to MLK, Jr. Day? Please.

Yes, there are always some teachers who love to point the finger in all directions but never look in the mirror.

mirmac1 said...

"mirmac on another thread is gleefully waiting for option and hcc demise. where is the decorum people?"

What a ridiculous statement. I just want everyone to feel the pain we feel, let's spread the pain. SpEd civil rights can go the way of the blue-footed booby, but to suggest that it may happen to others is tantamount to a terrorist threat? Very thin-skinned.

Anonymous said...

Until the district norms the tests correctly, like the author of CogAT, NAGC, and many others insist is the proper protocol for scoring, there will continue to be abysmally low percentages of underrepresented populations in HCC. Due to the discrepancy in experiences between these students and privileged students, these experts make it clear:

Being children of educated (and, especially, highly educated) parents gives them advantages on both CogAT and achievement tests. To disaggregate the advantange from ability, local norms and sub-norms should be used. Otherwise the test scores are not valid. CogAT is not an IQ test, as the Lohman makes clear, but is a test designed to measure the thinking, skills and processing that is usually required in schools.

(On a side note, the author of CogAT, David Lohman, has also written about the role of test preparation on the growth of identified students and how savvy parents know how to navigate the system.)

Blaming principals for this (as Melissa has consistently done) and now teachers, who have no control over how AL determines scoring, is ill-informed and a diversion from the essential causes for these low percentages. Those in the trenches can continue to nominate students, but they will not be identified as long as their scores are not normed properly. That's why the universal screening attempts in SPS did not yield results in any significant way.

Until SPS does local norming and sub-norming (for ELL), these percentages will continue to result in a segregated and exclusive HC program, which violates state law as well as ethics and morality.

Rare bird, I have been saying that true giftedness is extremely rare on this blog for years. You are preaching to the choir. That's why it is so ridiculous (and now against state law's continuum of services) that such a huge number of SPS students are in self-contained.


Anonymous said...

Re: the state of Special Education. There have already been news reports that the Trump administration plans to cut funds dedicated to upholding IDEA. SPS has said publicly they have been told to plan on it and to consider that when budgeting. Further, the Office of Civil Rights is unlikely to prioritize IDEA complaints. That also has been reported in the news. I'd say if we don't want the next 4 years to be a complete disaster we find a way to work with patience and positivity within SPS. There will be no money or will to send in the enforcement troops from higher up. Yes SPS failed miserably and catastrophically for years and that history is indefensible. It is nowhere close to perfect today. But intentionally causing pain to our special needs kids? As an intentional system action I cannot buy it. There has been positive change and the trajectory is up not down in working with our kids. As with another thread where Mirmac's comments have been deleted for name-calling, the surly "let's spread the pain" approach seems ill-conceived even if the intention to do right by students is laudable.

Better Together

Anonymous said...

Having an assignment plan for students with disabilities - instead of a meeting of the secret society of special education should-be-retirees - is not "expensive". Students in special ed DO have to be assigned somewhere. SPS can do it with a plan, or they can hire 100 staff (who really should just be retired) instead of using a plan - to divine where students with disabilities are assigned according to "capacity" and private notions of "good fit". Having special ed assignment system that looks like a giant yarn-ball on the map, isn't somehow "saving money". It's simply "that's the way we've always done it", and "we control where education happens. Piss us off - you'll be sent to Gulag Elementary in south Seattle." And every single person in the secret society of would-be-retirees - will be gone in a year so they're afraid of changing something they don't understand.

The continuum of services? Nowhere else in the country has a method of bizarre program specificity or non-local school assignment that SPS has. Ask anybody in another district if their kid is in "Focus"... or "Distinct". Was there really great Distinct back in Cali? Nobody would have a foggy clue what you were talking about. And surely nobody would want to have their kid shipped across town so they could get a little of that Focus. Absurd.

Better Together - Washington's education for All act predates IDEA, and so does the obligation to support students with disabilities. It doesn't matter if IDEA funds dry up all together, the obligation remains in Washington state at the state level. Where did you hear they were planning to cut sped? It wasn't in the budget meeting.


not mc-t said...

where to start with fwiw. first i am really surprised that after such hyperbolic claims were being made an that you were putting geary up such a pedestal i thought you would say that wasn't me!!! no it was and that is sad. prove your racism claims please. again i am just shacking my head... i was sure i knew who wrote that post and they thankfully don't teach.

now fast forward and you are stuck deeper in the weeds than a wart on the heel of a frog with your inane claims of testing and norming for frl and ell students. no one buys what you are saying and yet you perseverate on it nearly every post. lynn points your out many factual inaccuracies and you ignore them. like they never happened but sure enough you read them enough to proclaim she and i are racist.

so you claim to teach kids at sps and like the ghs teacher feel that there is racism but you need to do more than feel it. if it is as wide spread as you say there must be something a whistle blower like you or she can show as evidence. keep in mind honors classes that are mostly white, where anyone could sign up, is not racism. but help charlie out WHERE IS THE BEEF!

no caps

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