Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Seattle Schools and Money

So why do I have this tweet graphic that SPS sent out this morning?  Read on.

The Superintendent has a budget update page at the district's webpage.  

In it, he thanks supporters of Seattle Public Schools and notes the efforts being made to avoid the levy cliff and fully fund McCleary.

The Board is having a Work Session today from 4:30-8:30 pm to cover a variety of topics;
- Seattle Pre-K programs,
- the 2017-2018 budget, and -Enrollment/Assignment (this is an oversight work session, not one to address a specific issue.)

There is also an Executive Session at the end of the meeting for "evaluate the performance of a public employee."

Pre-K
Page 13 of the preschool presentation is amazing - It has survey results from parents in the City's program in SPS buildings that show 100% of parents are 100% satisfied.  You don't see that very often. (This is from 36 out of 155 parents answering the survey.)  What's interesting is they did not include survey in the City's program in SPS buildings not operated by SPS nor those in non-SPS buildings.  I'll have to ask the City about those numbers.)

(Note to staff: you misspelled "caucasian" on page 15's chart in the preschool presentation.  Page 4 of the budget presentation, the word "it's" is used improperly.  I'm not trying to be unkind but it does glare when an educational entity makes these kinds of errors in public presentations.)

The City's explanation of the money spent is a series of somewhat tortured charts.  I cannot ascertain how much of the 25% holdback money based on outcomes that the district did end up receiving.

The City wants to expand into between 3-10 more classrooms (no schools named.)  Except for brand-new buildings, it's unclear to me where that space is.

They want to have a decision by early March.

Budget
See page 12 for an interesting list of questions and the answers that follow.  I'm not sure there is enough clarity there for a reader to understand what is being talked about and the outcomes.

It also appears that Capital may borrow money from the General Fund and vice versa.  How that happens and how it helps is unclear.

Curriculum adoption and implementation seems to be a key area that staff is looking for savings.

The next Work Session is Feb. 8th.

Enrollment/Assignment
Mostly overview of the department, although someone needs to decide if their name is Admissions, Enrollment or Assignment.  It's confusing when the Work Session uses one term and yet the presentation uses another.

So why the "SPS Hall of Fame" for Athletics graphic?  First, it was what the district tweeted out this morning.

Second, in the midst of all these budgeting problems, this is an important "to-do" for the district and a "to-know" for the public?  Oh wait, Athletics is not to be touched under the budget process, even as most areas will see cuts.  Athletics is so vital and yet I'm pretty sure there are far more students who access the arts than athletics (and there would be even more students accessing the arts if they were more widely available.)

But maybe that's because the district is anticipating a national title for Hale's manufactured and imported basketball team and that surely needs a big acknowledgement.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your point regarding the arts and athletics is spot on.

At a recent Ballard holiday concert, the orchestras, wind ensemble, and concert choirs were on stage to perform Mozart's Requiem. Nearly 10% of the students at Ballard were on the stage - it was amazing. And there were other choirs and band groups that weren't represented in that performance - so maybe close to 15% of Ballard students are in some sort of performance arts program? (adding in drama, etc?) These are mostly school-day classes, my daughter is looking at scholarship opportunities coming out of her orchestra experience. The arts are very important - what will their burden of the cuts be?

I wonder what is the total percentage of students participating in athletics? And there is no burden to bear from this group? Why? My daughter also participates in sports year round at Ballard so I'm not biased there, just wondering why they are exempt.

QA Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

There was some talk at another budget meeting that athletics is so important to kids and doesn't have a big budget but all I can say is that everything should be on the table except for Sped and programs for low-income students.

Lynn said...

Labor negotiations have been added to the executive session in the agenda. I wonder if this is about conversations with the SEA on the implementation of the 20 minute longer school day.

Anonymous said...

I thought the athletic budget was being covered by a big donor so the kids don't have to pay to play anymore. It doesn't cover very much.

I know at Hale that the athletic budget actually decreased dramatically when the school couldn't collect money for each sport played. We already had a way to pay for kids who couldn't afford the $75. The Sports Boosters picked up a lot of the coverage by encouraging parents to donate that $75 to the sport of their choice.

I have heard it said that 50% of Hale kids participate in at least one sport.

HP

Anonymous said...

I've heard that some principals from schools with a significant low-income population would like athletics to remain funded as sports may be the one thing keeping some kids remain interested in attending school. And sports can be a lever to get kids to maintain a minimum GPA (I assume that athletes have to have a minimum GPA but I don't know that for sure).

Jane

Anonymous said...

Double post as my questions fits better here than the open thread:

When is the state Senate due to vote on the House bill lifting the levy cliff for this year? Or when would it need to offer its own version? Bottom line, assuming the Senate will delay action as long as possible, when is the last date we could see the Senate take action? Assuming it is close to the end of the session, won't this force all state districts to issue layoff notices even if the levy cliff is eventually dealt with?

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

And with regard to The Arts: Time to trumpet its worth, but expect dollars to be in shorter supply than ever for the next four years. Neither Trump nor the Republican party want federal dollars set aside for the cause. The lack of money from feds, the non-movement in Olympia and the need to fund all the liberal causes now under attack means crumbs for art and music in schools beyond the goodwill of donors who can be prevailed upon to help. Very very sad.

EdVoter

Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, no, the Athletic budget was never covered by a big donor. Years back, a donor was covering some costs for low-income students to participate. That was for one year.

I'm not saying sports don't help keep some kids in school. But that is verifiable to the point of saying they should have no budget cuts. (Yes,athletes have to have a minimum GPA although how you know that for homeschooled students who participate in sports is unclear.)

The head of the Senate will not allow the vote to get to the floor. Right now they are in the situation where a GOP senator has resigned. If the vote could get to the floor, it would be a tie (assuming Dems and GOPs vote on party lines) and then our Lt Governor, Cyrus Habib, would break the tie. I think he'd vote to stay the levy cliff.

But as long as nothing gets to the Senate floor, nothing gets voted on. I do think the fact that House passed their version may be giving an added push.

Ed Voter, if we get to the end of the session before anything gets settled on McCleary, yes, districts will be forced to make those cuts. It will be too late by then.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I suspect the Senate will continue its "hold up" until it can name a replacement for the GOPer headed to D.C. Unless there is some rule preventing it, they'll shove someone in yet this session. I disagree with almost everything the Repubs have to say in Olympia but I do not doubt their smarts. They'll never let Cyrus be the deciding vote (unless it benefits them in some political way.)

I continue to think McCleary will end up back in Court hands, but what I am specifically asking is Levy Cliff which is somewhat separate. What is the last day for the Senate to either put out its version of a Levy Cliff bill or to vote on the House version? I ask because it would be the M.O. of this group to give relief, but to give it after the date in which districts throughout the state have issued layoff notices. I think Seattle said sometime in Feb is when the process of layoff notices begin? Though some damage could be undone if we got a last minute legislative reprieve, other damage would be permanent as people quickly seek other employment. So I am trying to get us in Seattle to understand what that district deadline is vs. what timeline the Senate is playing with. I use "playing with" deliberately. So very angry.

EdVoter

Melissa Westbrook said...

There is a Senate version for the levy cliff - SB 5023. But whether it's McCleary or the levy cliff, you are right, Ed. The GOP wants to delay any vote as long as possible.

What is a drop-dead date for schools? I can ask the district but yes, I think end of Feb. is about right.

I do believe the GOP believes this is a high-stakes game.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's an excellent story from the News Tribune's Melissa Santos on the situation in the WA Senate. It is possible a levy cliff bill could get to the floor for a vote but it would take several moving parts.

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article128525814.html

Anonymous said...

Thank you Melissa.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

I thought the pay to play thing was covered for 5 years. Schools are not allowed to charge for paying because of this money. If they cut the athletic funds (I'm not saying they shouldn't), then they should allow the schools to ask the parents to contribute like they did before.

Hale lets you use playing a Hale sport (club or regular) for up to 1 PE credit. Each season you play a sport counts as 0.5 PE credits. Hale wouldn't have enough PE classes to cover the requirements.

HP

Anonymous said...

From personal experience at Eckstein the fee to cover sports has been covered for the past two years. There is also a grade requirement to play. Students participating in school sports need to have their teachers sign off each week on their grades, and I'm told that is because a requirement in the grant.

-StepJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, that donor fund is not all that Athletics covers. They have at least $1M in their budget.

Lynn said...

Here's a link to a Friday Memo attachment on the athletic department grant the district accepted in May 2015. The donation covered almost all of the student athletic fees in the budget for 2015/16 and required the district to gradually take over the costs that had been covered by the fees. In 2015/16 the district's athletic department costs were budgeted at $2.6M plus $590K in student fees that had covered transportation costs.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Lynn.

Anonymous said...

Okay. I thought the grant might be a possible explanation for why Athletics are not being cut. I would actually prefer to pay a fee to play, with a little extra tossed in to cover scholarships. Too bad that is not a consideration in the budgeting process.

-StepJ

Lynn said...

If the pay to play fee of $75 covered the transportation costs, it would take an additional $330 per student to cover all of the costs of the athletic department.

Would the community donate $2.6M for athletics? That would free up money to move to a two tier transportation system or to hire counselors for elementary schools or purchase middle school math textbooks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I attended a wonderful concert by Herb Alpert last night. (If you don't know who he is, look him up - very influential musician.)

He said he often got asked what was his secret to becoming a great trumpet player. He said passion, love of the instrument and, when the other guy is sleeping, you're practicing. He also said arts are vital to children.

I agree.

Anonymous said...

Is some of the cost of athletics covering PE classes too? If sports aren't covered anymore and it goes completely to pay for play, I imagine many schools would have to cut some sports and sports would not count for PE credits. Therefore, you would need more PE classes and PE teachers to cover the additional credits. Allowing kids to use playing a sport for their school as PE credits frees up their schedule to take other electives.

HP

Lynn said...

No the cost of PE classes is included in the school budgets not the athletic department.

Offering more PE classes would be one solution but there are other PE waiver options. Garfield waives the PE requirement for any student who takes a full courseload for all four years - no sport participation required.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to look later to see if the info is there, but I'm curious as to how many of the 100% of satisfied parents pay anything for SPP. Even if not great, it'd be fabulous for many/most people who want their kids to go to preschool to be able to send them for free. It'd be a more impressive statistic I think if the people paying $1k/mo are equally as satisfied with the program.

NE parent

Anonymous said...

So Garfield doesn't require any physical activity for their students? No PE, no sports, but you get a waiver? Getting a PE waiver for no physical activity defeats the purpose of having a PE requirement in the first place. Even my college prep high school required PE.

HP