Sunday, June 25, 2017

A New Twist at the Board Meeting This Week

The Board is having a special Work Session this week along with the regular Board meeting.   The Work Session will address:
There will be a special School Board work session on June 28 to discuss the budget, waitlist process and a path forward. The work session will take place at the beginning of the regularly scheduled School Board meeting. 

Additional Background: The district has started to move waitlists at Option Schools where seats are available, and at attendance area schools that can accommodate additional students with their current staffing allocations. At the June 28 work session, staff will present recommendations on waitlist moves, various scenarios and implications.  
A path forward on what?  Waitlists or the budget?

They have scheduled an hour for this -from 4:20 pm-5:20 pm- and must adhere to that schedule in order to keep the rest of the Board meeting on time.  You CANNOT speak at the Work Session but testimony to the Board will start at 5:30 pm.  (I see that the agenda includes both the Superintendent's Comments and the Consent Agenda from 5:20-5:30 pm which seems very short.)  

I would say that the Board needs to make clear to staff there MUST be time for questions and discussion by the Board.  I doubt that will happen and what we will hear is pretty much a done deal. 

There are no Intro items on the agenda, just 25 Action items.  Whew!

Several items of note on the agenda:
- more money for Lincoln.  I find their constant switching of where the money is coming from very troubling.  I'll have to recheck those numbers but I believe the source of funding has shifted.  The new issue - that I'm having a hard believing no one could see years ago - adds another $8M.  They are now at $101M for this project.

- a resolution in support of ethnic studies
The Seattle School Board Resolution in support of ethnic studies responds to a January 2017 resolution from the Seattle National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was endorsed by additional community groups.
 So far so good.
While the District is currently under severe budget constraints, the resolution encourages staff to make every attempt to improve and expand ethnic studies.
Well, yes, there's that.  Money and time.
In order to take action on the resolution, to assess what currently exists in the district’s curriculum, and to develop recommendations and guidelines for the development of ethnic studies, a task force, jointly facilitated by the Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction (CAI) division and the division of Strategy and Partnerships, will be convened.
In addition, teachers, in a work group coordinated by CAI staff, will work to develop ethnic studies resources for utilization by social studies and English-Language Arts teachers. Both the task force and the work group will incur substitute and teacher compensation costs. Because of the current tension around ethnic studies and deep need to build trust and accord among teachers, community members and the District, a consultant will be employed to help facilitate the harmonious participation of all stakeholders, both on the task force as well as the working group developing curriculum. Total costs for the work during the 2016-17 budget year ending on August 31, is estimated at $88,000.
Wait, what?  A task force AND a work group?  And what's this "current tension around ethnic studies  and deep need to build trust and accord among teacher, community members and the District" - what tension?  And, of course, they always have to hire a consultant.  Sigh.

- a new Board policy on assessments. Except that it's not much help to post it if they don't have a redline version to show what was changed, added or eliminated.

- CTE (Career and Technical Education) annual report to the Board (I have not had time to review it but the district has again lost a very capable CTE director in Dan Gallagher (which is going to Shoreline School district).

- I also see a contract for a new student data portal for MTSS work that the district field-tested this year.  This is fine except for two things.  The City of Seattle appears to have been part of this work and yet it is not noted why.  I would assume it is because the City needs data for grant efficacy for funds from the the Families and Education Levy.  I find it odd that it is not mentioned.  Second, there is this notation
Behavior data is still very limited in portal, have to get data from other places.
Does the City need to see behavior data on individual students?  I'm not sure I think so.  If I were a parent whose child was receiving services from the City via the F&E levy, I'd be asking about student data privacy.

- the district is spending $325K over three years in an effort to increase/better community engagement via an on-line site, ThoughtExchange from Fulcrum Management Solutions.   I have not read all I'd like about this but here's the K-12 section at their website.  Apparently Highline is using this instrument.

- I see a capital item for Eckstein for nearly $500K for seismic work which signals to me that Eckstein won't be on the BEX V list.

- Six schools will be getting solar panels at a cost to the district of about $1.6M.  That's good except that the money is coming from BEX II and BEX III, with nearly $1M and $600K respectively.  Boy, those BEXs and BTAs are just an endless source of funding for capital projects that staff wants. 


kellie said...

This should be a very interesting work session.

I think the simplest explanation is often the best. Every year the district gives extremely ultra conservative budget allocations in Feb. Very few schools push back on these allocations, because they expecte a post-open enrollment adjustment by March or April that will more accurately reflect the point of view of the schools, because schools tend to have a more direct connection to parents and families and will typically have a good idea of what to expect.

For example, Whitman was allocated at 500. Everyone was clear that Whitman would be enrolled at well over 500 but ... they were told to wait until after open enrollment so the folks could see the enrollment.

This year because of all the mess associated with a legislature that seems to have no interest in passing any budget, let alone a budget that complies with McCleary, the budget folks feel backed into a corner and very simply do not want to release any money to school buildings over and above what was allocated in Feb.

Now all of that is your basic budget process at nearly agency or large company. There is always some mess in the back and forth of budget.

However, the board did fully restore the WSS to school building. Therefore, the only way to "hold back" any money is to have the enrollment projections be ultra conservative.

I suspect that there will be updated enrollment projections at this meeting. I also suspect these numbers will not reflect any movement for waitlist to move and these numbers will be much lower than anyone expected. I have spoken to a few high schools and they are pretty shocked at the sharp drops in the enrollment numbers for the junior and senior classes, moving up.

Anonymous said...

What are the numbers for Running Start? Because of limited class offerings, a significant change from just one year prior, our child chose Running Start over senior year at HS. Taking HS classes with friends would have been preferred, but our child felt forced into Running Start for academic reasons.

pushed out

kellie said...

@ pushed out,

I have no idea what the running start numbers are because they are not listed in the projections.

That said, I know you are not alone. Because of the way the master schedule works, when high school is short staffed, it creates as self fulfilling prophesy.

Every teacher represents 5 slots on the master schedule. When enrollment projects a 50 student drop between 11th and 12th grade, there are fewer teachers assigned and then fewer slots and then .... the students have to go to running start as there are no classes.

High Schools really need to do their schedules in the spring to get a more accurate picture of what students really need.

Anonymous said...

Am angry that there is $88K in the SPS budget to higher an outside consultant, but absolutely no more money to higher additional teachers. Priorities????

-NW Mom

Anonymous said...

NW Mom, I, too, am angry about that. Does JSCEE really need to hire an expensive outside consultant to determine where to trim the fat? Isn't that a job the already existing and management can do? Or Nyland himself? $88k buys a a counselor, or a part time counselor and a part time nurse, or any number of school based positions, and that's where our money needs to go, where it directly impacts students. SPS administration should stop pretending that they work for Amazon. The first priority for spending needs to be positions in the schools, not at JSCEE.

I'm positive that any SPS parent would be glad to suggest which JSCEE positions should be eliminated, for free!

SW Mom

Anonymous said...

I also agree. If the budget is as dire as the district has said in writing then, at the present time, there are no funds for consultants. In the 10 years our family has been tortured by this district many expensive consultants have been hired: for curriculum decisions, for enrollment predictions, you name it. All decisions that should be part of the skill set of the central administration. Now they are hiring a consultant to tell them how to administrate. My kids would be eager to get paid to teach the central administrators how to use the toilet. Because that is next.......


Anonymous said...

Is there any data to support this method of seemingly intentionally throttling enrollment? Does the resulting lower enrollment end up saving the District money?


Anonymous said...

As enrollment is currently up (more money), yet many teachers let go (less expense) - who/what department is the recipient of these extra dollars?


Anonymous said...

@StepJ, what good questions.

I posted this info on the Stevens thread below, hope it's ok to add here too:

From the agenda, this is the staff presentation to the Board for Wednesday's waitlist work session:

It looks like the Board is being asked to choose between 2 options, both of which ignore the Board's policy of allowing choice assignments on a space available basis. There is no mention at all of moving waitlists with corresponding staffing adjustments for elementary schools.

Here's hoping the Board chooses Option 3 (not in the presentation): follow Board policy and move waitlists to allow siblings to be assigned together & families to have choices where schools have space available.

This is the full agenda:

--worried about waitlists

Lucia said...

We presume Gallager is taking his (non-budgeted/"personal services contract") expensive "Personal Assistant" (from his last job) with him. Those two positions are a good start. One person at a reasonable salary could restore that department but the will of SEA won't let it.

kellie said...

Thanks for posting the documents. I am very happy that the enrollment planning documents note which schools do not have physical capacity and therefore there will be no waitlist moves. I concur with their list.

Anonymous said...

Link to the June 19th enrollment projection document presumably without any waitlist moves in or out. I am wondering why the numbers are so different between June 19th and report presented at work session above link for some high schools (ex Ballard 1900 versus 1818 etc)