Thursday, March 23, 2017

News on SPS Budget for 2017-2018

From Dr. Nyland (bold mine):

2017-18 Budget Restoration Update
Dear Seattle Public Schools families:

Our district has been facing a $74 million shortfall. Recent Legislative action restored $24 million in local levy funds. Thank you again to our Seattle Legislative delegation, our labor and community partners, and families who worked so hard to help us avoid the Levy Cliff.

At the board work session on Wed., March 22, the School Board reached consensus on restoring schools’ baseline funding, also known as the Weighted Staffing Standard (WSS). Restoring WSS returns approximately 175 positions to schools.

At this point, that means that less than 2 percent of all school staff will be reduced. Central administration is still scheduled for a 5 percent reduction. Thank you to the School Board for responding to our family, staff, and partners’ priorities and moving to restore school supports so quickly. We hope to have new school staffing allocations communicated by April 7.

Initial budget reductions and now restorations have been made with an aim to sustain student services, teaching and learning, and equity focused supports. On March 29, the School Board will review additional budget restoration options and complete the restoration process. Possible restoration options include: school program and equity supports, instructional materials, mentors for new teachers, eliminating opportunity gap supports, and central office.

With a remaining $50 million shortfall, we urgently need the full state funding promised by the McCleary lawsuit. We are doing what we can to reduce impacts on schools and equity work, but staffing and service reductions of this magnitude will still affect nearly every part of the district. Although restorations have been made to protect classrooms, central administration will continue to take a much larger reduction than any other part of the organization. These cuts will diminish the district’s ability to provide essential support services, resources, and assistance to our students, families, and educators.

We remain hopeful that some additional funding may become available through the Legislature’s final budget, which is in development now. We also need to refocus on the next phase of budget work, full funding of public education. Full funding is something I believe is achievable and is the moral thing to do for students of Washington state.

The state is under Washington Supreme Court order to approve a plan by the end of the 2017 Legislative session to fully fund basic education for the 2018-19 school year. So far, none of the proposals coming out of Olympia comes close to doing so.

As our community demonstrated with the Levy Cliff extension, when aligned, focused, and persistent, we can get great things accomplished on behalf of our students. Together, in partnership with our Seattle Legislative delegation, labor and community partners, staff, and families I am convinced we can realize the promise the state has made – that in Washington, we will ensure every student has access to a great public education.

For additional details and information, visit the 2017-18 budget webpage or contact us directly at or

Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving your family and student.


Dr. Larry Nyland


Anonymous said...

Dr. Nyland conveniently omits in his note, that the vast majority of the current shortfall is not because of the State of Washington, but rather because of the strike he forced.

Who in their right mind forces a strike over YEAR 3 of a contract? But yet, the extra 20 minutes a day, was the deal breaker for that last contract. Teachers deserve to be paid more when asked to work even longer days. That is not the issue. The issue is that Dr. Nyland made the longer day a deal breaker for the teacher's contract. ... With the "hope" that funding would materialize.

Now we are here and the funding did not magically materialize. Who could have guessed that? Who would have guessed that the McCleary money would not only be available in time for the 2017 school year but finalized in plenty of time to do the budget for the 2017 school year.

This has to be the most epic of Superintendent missteps. It is similar to the Olscheski financial scandal and MGJ closing schools while Seattle was the fastest growing city in the nation.

Dr. Nyland should at least own that he spent money that never existed and crossed his fingers and hoped that the legislature would give everyone enough money for all of his pet projects.

- another bulldog

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another Bulldog, I agree. You never make promises like this that you have no way of knowing you can keep. This "crisis" is here because senior management made a very bad gamble.

Anonymous said...

Let's keep it on senior management so the story doesn't turn to teachers asking for more than was available to deliver. The District added time to the day. The teachers fought for recess and lunch for kids. Who frustrates you?

As an aside...all surrounding districts have the longer days, so there's that.

Is it Nyland or Blanford who has pet projects?

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

Last I checked, it was the school board who approves contract -- makes no sense to pin this on Nyland. As for the strike, that didn't happen because of the extension of the school day. The strike and demand for a double digit raise was already issued. Nyland was right to make sure that in the bargain the district made up some ground that had been lost since the double levy failure of 1980.


Anonymous said...

I am pinning this one on Nyland, not the teachers or the school board.

Senior management and in particular Nyland, could easily have done a two year contract or a simple one year extension of the old contract (which has happened many times) and everyone would have been back to work on time. But no. Nyland and Nyland ALONE made the longer day the deal breaker of the contract. Nothing was going to happen until the teachers agreed to a longer day and the teachers deserved to be compensated for this.

The vast majority of the current deficit is directly related to paying for the longer school day. And even worse, nobody even knows how to make the longer day work with bussing.

The teachers didn't ask for more than what was available. They asked for a completely reasonable amount in response to a unreasonable request from Nyland.

The school board doesnt' NEGOTIATE the contract, they either approve it or not. The school board was boxed into a corner on this because teachers needed to get back to work and students needed to get back to school.

I don't disagree with Emile that matching neighboring districts on the amount of time is a "good idea". But there are lots and lots of good ideas out there. This is the ONE idea that Nyland pushed hard, over substantial objection, and now ... we have to find a way to pay $50M for a 20 minute longer school day and a one hour early release.

Yes, pin this mess on Nyland.

- another bulldog

Anonymous said...

Blanford opposing cuts to Central Office, from the Thurgood Marshall newsletter, March 23rd:

"Cuts Threaten Equity Efforts
The impact of budget cuts is starting to become
very real. You may know that we received some
legislative relief, that greatly reduces the $74M
deficit we were expecting, but does not get us
anywhere close to our anticipated expenses next
year. Thus, we're looking at significant reductions.
The Superintendent proposed Tuesday night that Central Office
bear the brunt of most of these cuts, which I believe could
negatively impact our efforts to close opportunity gaps. I've
asked that the Superintendent be clearer about his rationale for
all cuts falling on Central Office and any assurances that he is
prioritizing equity when making these cuts."


Lynn said...

Even more obnoxious:

Three of the seven positions will come up this summer and fall, and candidate filing deadlines are May 19. I have announced that I will not run again, so the District 5 position is available, as is District 4 (held by Director Peters) and District 7 (held by Director Patu). I’d be happy to talk to anyone considering throwing their hat in the ring, because I believe we need good candidates who are well informed about the issues that will face the District and the challenges of serving on the Board.

He's burning his bridges with his fellow board members awfully early in the year.

Historian said...

Many people on this blog supported the strike. You don't get to pass. You don't get to pin result on Nyland- or anyone else. The district was half of the equation. SEA was the other half.

The goal was to get children back into school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Emile, senior staff, not the Board, negotiated the contract. And you are talking about a levy failure more than 25 years ago?

I did not know Blanford wasn't run. There's some good news. And of course, all positions are "available" but Peters and Patu are very established candidates.

Historian, yes, many of us supported the strike but we were not privy to the negotiations. Who knew the district was making promises it could not keep? The SEA probably knew as well, that's true.

Anonymous said...

@ Historian,

Your argument is silly at best. Does anyone think that the SEA called for a strike because teachers wanted a longer schools day and senior managment just wouldn't let them?

Not all fights are 50/50. Sometimes one side is a bully and the other side needs to stand their ground.

People do not plan to become a teachers so that they get a great opportunity to strike and NOT teach. Of the 16 or so years, I have had students in SPS, it was a very normal event for there to not-be-a-contract in place in September as folks are working out details. In all of those cases, staff went back to work under the terms of the old contract for a few weeks or months in good faith.

This strike two years ago was exceptional in that senior staff was unwilling to allow anyone to go back to work until the SEA agreed to the longer day.

It was ridiculous. Teachers would have happily gone back to work under the old contract and the issue of the raise and the longer day could have waited. They could have done a two year contract only and given everyone time to address the longer school day, closer to the McClearly deadline.

But no. Nyland in his arrogance, insisted that the longer school day was the deal breaking item and now here we are ...

No plan in place for the longer day ... that is somehow magically going to change ... something.
A three tier bus system that gets even more insane with a longer day.
And no money to pay for this $50M not-actually-a-plan.

And ... even though this was a gamble. They didn't bother to put in a clause stating that if McCleary was not done in time, the longer day and corresponding payment could be delayed.

- another bulldog

Historian said...

The district wanted to lengthen the school day to help meet state requirements. Other districts offered more instructional time to students.

Historian said...

Are you sure teachers would have gone back to work without a contract, another bulldog?

“We will stay out as long as we need to get that done,” Campano said."

Here are a couple of numbers to digest:

"Shortly before midnight Monday, the district had offered a $62 million proposal as a counter to the $172 million union proposal, according to the district."

dan dempsey said...

So Blanford stated:

"The Superintendent proposed Tuesday night that Central Office
bear the brunt of most of these cuts, which I believe could
negatively impact our efforts to close opportunity gaps.
asked that the Superintendent be clearer about his rationale for
all cuts falling on Central Office and any assurances that he is
prioritizing equity when making these cuts."

I've been a follower of opportunity gap talk for over a decade.
I would be interested in Blanford's research that leads him to believe that the central office staffing is a major component in successful efforts to close any opportunity gaps. I've watch committees and work groups formed at district and state levels focused on this topic, none of which ever had much impact.

Instructional materials and practices are normally neglected in these conversations.

Once again I am mystified.

I would ask that Mr. Blanford be clearer about his rationale for his belief that central office staffing relates to closing the opportunity gaps.

If opportunity gaps are of concern, I suggest that Mr. Blanford look at the questionnaire put out by Ms. Box in regard to the middle school math instructional materials adoption as well as review the last 15 years of SPS central office decisions regarding curricula. He might discover the central office is the problem and not the solution.

Anonymous said...

@Historian, are you saying there will be a longer school day, but not more instructional time? How does that work? If schools start 10 min earlier and end 10 min later, wouldn't class time be extended?? For elementary I could understand the time going toward more recess or PE, but what about MS/HS? Is it up to each school?


Anonymous said...

There is one simple solution to this 'he said/she said' on what started and sustained the strike/work stoppage: Make collective bargaining negotiations between public unions and public institutions subject to our state's open meetings law.

Currently, they are exempt. How is that transparent to public interest? These negotiations, as evidenced by this significant budget shortfall, have a significant impact on the public, i.e., taxpayers.


Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that Nyland is comparing a 2% reduction in school staff to a 4% reduction in Central Offices budget. A very apples to oranges kind of comparison. I suspect if someone were to do the math, we may see that the schools are bearing the brunt of the cuts.

-NW mom

Anonymous said...

Stephan Blanford holds all of you in contempt. He doesn't think you or your opinions matter. He believes that the parents and teachers' jobs are to serve the interests of the senior staff, rather than the other way around.

He speaks for the senior staff in that respect, I might add.

I'm glad that the Central Office is taking increased reductions. Does this mean the Executive Directors are finally losing their jobs? If not, can someone explain why any school's class size should go up in order to protect a class of bureaucrats who actively hate and despite you because you're a parent who won't just shut up and do as you're told?


Anonymous said...

I want to know EXACTLY what is being cut at central office, not just some blanket statement. Where can we see this in writing from the district? Transparency anyone? This district leadership just doesn't seem to get it. The public isn't going to just settle for spoon-fed information. Show us the evidence. Show us the data. Make your case for WHY you are doing what you are doing. Don't just say "trust us." Because, frankly, you lost this family's--and many families'--trust long ago through your actions, inaction, lack of transparency, and lack of strategic vision centered on KIDS not ADULTS.

Concerned parent

kellie said...

I have to concur with another bulldog over Historian on this one.

Over the last decade or so, it was very typical for teachers to return to work without a contract and continue under the terms of the last contract. This was so typical that many senior teachers were shocked about a strike.

Additionally, "historian" is incorrect about the instructional time. The plan is to lengthen the school day and add collaboration time. Once you add the early release there is not a meaningful gain in instruction time.

Bulldog is correct that the "longer day" was the deal breaker item for senior management, which presumable has to include Nyland. I have no idea why this was the deal breaker but it clearly was.

I think we may never know all the ins and outs of that strike. The strike made so little sense as so much of the negotiation focused on year 3 and years 1 and 2 were settled very early.

Bulldog is also correct in that there never was the money to pay for the 2017-18 school year. It was a gamble and the bet was lost.

Anonymous said...

WOW with this kind of management, how many folks will be finding increased enthusiasm for some competition like say charter schools?

Is anything capable of reforming central office thought processes?

-- Dan Dempsey

Sigh said...

I order for something to be "the deal breaker item for senior management," it HAS to be priority for the school board. Yes, the board is not involved in day to day negotiations, but they do play a huge role in what the priorities are and are not at the bargaining table.

Anonymous said...

The strike was totally unnecessary. Nyland and his team forced it, and then created a fiscal crisis by getting a pointless 20 minute extension for the workday that they did not have any ability to pay for. Once again, just as in the strike, it's students who are going to suffer for his mistakes.

Probably time for Nyland to resign. As long as nobody on senior staff loses their jobs for stuff like this, it will keep happening.


Historian said...

In part, the strike happened because of state(?) and district instructional requirements. Children did not have enough time to eat their lunch. Parents got behind SEA.

The school day has been extended. Some schools are using this time to do their homework.

All I am saying, is that if you supported the strike, you don't get to complain about the fiscal impact. The union wanted $170M. What financial amount would have settled the strike? Nyland pressured SEA with an injunction and SEA pressured the district with parental support.

Historian said...


Nyland pressured SEA with an injunction. SEA pressured the district with a strike with parental support.

It is easy to say that Nyland gave away too much funding, but we were not involved with negotiations.

Anonymous said...

SPS has made Levy Cliff and McCleary negotiations exceedingly difficult for our amazing and tireless Seattle legislators.


Historian said...

If I recall correctly, increasing the school day provided more time for students to eat their lunch.

Lynn said...

I don't think so. The district has clearly stated that it's intended to be additional instructional time. Kellie is correct though - it's really not a meaningful increase in learning time for students. 20 minutes per day is 100 per week. After taking out the weekly one hour early release, students will receive 40 more minutes of instruction per week. In return for that 40 minutes, our elementary students have to get to school at 7:45 (10 minutes earlier than this year) every day. In my opinion, this is going to hurt, rather than help students. Many of my child's classmates are already sleepy and unengaged for the first hour of the day.

Lynn said...

The school day has not yet been extended in SPS. That happens next year. Kids in elementary school don't need a longer day to do homework because they shouldn't have homework.

Melissa Westbrook said...

All I am saying, is that if you supported the strike, you don't get to complain about the fiscal impact."

And again, you are wrong. You can support the premise of a strike but, if you had known all the details, you might not have done so. We were never told all the details.

Hindsight, yeah, I think what happens in SPS is a big reason some GOP lawmakers can say, how is the money being spent?

kellie said...

@ Historian,

The not-enough-time-to-eat-lunch-issue was a not a problem with the number of minutes in a school day. It was a capacity problem, that downtown refused to accommodate via the WSS.

The WSS provides enough staff for each elementary school to provide exactly ONE lunch and recess shift. When elementary schools were "forced" because of capacity issues to have 2, 3 or even four lunch and recess shifts, due to the size of cafeteria and playground, there was no corresponding adjustment in the WSS to pay for the additional staff time this required.

Many schools just dealt with this via parent volunteer hours or fundraising dollars. As the capacity issues are disproportionate to the higher SES schools, this worked for a little while. Then the capacity issues began to hit predominately middle class schools and low FRL schools (20-40% FRL) that did not have the resources to cover those extra shifts.

it is not surprising that the lunch and recess charge was led but a school that was forced to cover FOUR lunch shifts.

When schools were "right sized" as in enrollment was matched with the historic enrollment during the choice system, which was right sized for the use of the cafeteria and playground, there was plenty of time in the day for lunch and recess.

The added time to the school day has ZERO IMPACT on lunch and recess challenges.

kellie said...

@ Historian,

I am NOT saying Dr. Nyland gave away too much funding. I did not read that in any of the above comments so correct me if I missed something.

I am saying that Dr. Nyland made a bold-bet that McCleary would be done on time and that it was in the best interest of all, that the first McCleary dollars be spent on a longer school day, rather than on the hundreds of other competing priorities.

Had McCleary been done in time, Nyland would likely be lauded as a hero, with bold vision and the superintendent that aligned the SPS school day with neighboring districts.

However, McCleary is not done on time and now we all have to live with the consequences of that bold-bet. The longer school day is most likely to make things WORSE for students without a two-tier bus system. With three tiers that extra 20 minutes makes the first shift shocking early and the third shift unconscionably late.

So now we have a budget shortfall and a plan that doesn't really work.

kellie said...

To be fair about this, the 2017 school year, does seem to be a bit of perfect storm. Here are just a few of the things that are going to hit during the 2017-2018 school year, all of which are very expensive.

The capacity issue strikes hard at high school. The cohort that triggered the opening of elementary schools and later middle schools will be Freshman next year and they are the first class to be accountable for Core 24. The state is NOT funding 24 credits and most local districts pay for a significant portion of high school with levy money.

National politics has created tremendous uncertainty in all of education financing. Local politics are influenced by the national stage and we have a significant number of state legislators who do not believe it is their job to compromise and create legislation that protects children. Hence the entire levy cliff battle, which never should have been a battle at all.

FIVE new schools are opening and all of the expenses that come with forward-investing in education. The plan was already pretty aggressive with FOUR new schools in 2017 and that got pushed to FIVE new school. New schools need significant mitigation.

Those are the things that are also hitting in 2017, so the longer school day as part of the CBA and all of the extra expenses to go with that, including the rationalizing of the bussing, is quite possible a victim of terrible timing.

There are multiple major expensive items scheduled for 2017, many of which have been scheduled for over six years. This is a terrible year for a $50M budget gap.

Dave said...

Hope its not custodians again.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Hi everybody. I'm an actual historian. And I was also present for the 2015 strike. Here's what happened: Nyland and his crew felt they could jam an extra 20 minutes into the school day, as well as get the public to turn against teachers unions. (Remember Liv Finne and the Republican Party crowing about how this strike would get Seattle parents to become anti-union)?

Nyland felt so confident that he could get what he wanted from a strike that he and his team rarely met SEA for bargaining sessions. SEA's bargaining team was ready to hash everything out well before the start of school. SPS dragged their feet.

Once it became clear a strike was in the offing, parents swung into action - and nearly unanimously supported the teachers. They made it very clear to Nyland and the board that they supported the teachers, and expected the district to bring an end to the unnecessary strike as quickly as possible.

Nobody in the public was clamoring for another 20 minutes in the school day. It's one in a series of ed reform ideas that the SPS central staff impose on us, and that all of us don't fight back as much as we should. But what we didn't realize was that Nyland had no clue how to pay for the extra 20 minutes.

Now that he has to pay, he prefers to take that money out of the classroom. Sure, now he says - under public pressure - that central office will take a larger share of cuts. But he still won't say what the cuts are. He still won't say whether the Executive Directors are getting the heave-ho or whether classrooms will be cut so we can spend six figures on salaries for bureaucrats to stonewall parents.

Everyone here should email the school board - all seven of them - and Nyland, and tell them that not a single dollar should be cut from the classroom. Not a single class size should go up. The central office is top heavy. Besides, who here believes that an Executive Director is more important than a teacher?

Tell Nyland and the board right now that on Wednesday night, they need to can the Executive Directors and put that money into classrooms. Remember, you're not asking them to do it - you're telling them to do it. And tell Nyland to look for other central office cuts. If they wanted those extra 20 minutes so badly, they can pay for it themselves.

Anonymous said...

I also worry about counselors, nurses, and classroom support specialists.

I'll write

Historian said...

Much of Robert's account are correct:

"Once it became clear a strike was in the offing, parents swung into action - and nearly unanimously supported the teachers. They made it very clear to Nyland and the board that they supported the teachers, and expected the district to bring an end to the unnecessary strike as quickly as possible." True.

Some claim that Nyland is responsible for the SEA settlement. According to the Seattle Times, SEA wanted $170M. We have no idea what SEA would have accepted. Would SEA have accepted $20M? $30M, $40M? SEA had parental support. So, now why are some complaining that Nyland settled the strike before McCleary was funded?

Good things happened from the strike i.e. teacher evaluations are no longer tied to test scores, more recess for kids etc.

In terms of the budget, the deficit is huge. The manner in which the budget gets closed is uncertain. I hope you continue to advocate for classroom funding!

Anonymous said...

@ Historian-read more carefully. Rather than complaining that Nyland settled before having McCleary funding, people are frustrated he forced the issue of 20 extra mins and essentially caused the strike and the debt/whole. It was just bad timing and judgment all around.

What is Bellevue's old superintendent doing?


Historian said...

@Hindsight- read more carefully. I never complained that Nyland settled the strike before McCleary.

Without parental support, I don't think the lunch and recess issue would have been addressed. I will research, but I think the extra 20 minutes were used to address lunch and recess.

Signing off.

Historian said...

For anyone that cares, here is a Negotiation Proposal Timeline:

Anonymous said...

Hindsight summarized things nicely. People are frustrated that Nyland forced the whole extra time and budget mess and now he gets to blame it all on McCleary.

The timeline that Historian posted, shows that on August 17th, SPS dropped the bomb of the extra time in the day. Three months after negotiations started and it was a deal breaker. And that time was NOT in any way intended to deal with the lunch and recess issue as Historian keeps stating. The extra 20 minutes is being added in YEAR THREE of the contract and protections for lunch and recess for elementary students was started in year one.

Historian should pick another moniker. This person is either profoundly misinformed or just re-inventing history.

Robert's version seems much more accurate.

- another bulldog.

Historian said...

I'm not changing my moniker- another bulldog. Your attack reflects poorly on you.

I absolutely recall benchmarking that showed Seattle schools provided less instructional time.

The contract negotiations were not all peaches and cream. I do recall that Nyland tried to eliminate Creative Approach Schools as part of the CBA.