Southeast Initiative a Largely Unfunded Plan?
Basically, the district has gone beyond what I knew about the SE Initiative. I knew there were to be additional resources driven to those schools; more AP for the high schools, more yellow-bus service, beefing up the curriculum. But it turns out that there were other promises like bonuses to teachers who teach at those schools.
From the article:
"Some members of the board are rethinking the Southeast Initiative, the district's much-lauded effort to improve three underperforming South End schools: Aki Kurose Middle School and Rainier Beach and Cleveland high schools.
The School Board launched the initiative last year with $250,000 and a three-year plan to draw back neighborhood students to the schools. But as the district staff has continued to propose arts programs, more rigorous classes, additional class periods, teacher bonuses and other extras for Southeast Initiative schools, several board members have wondered aloud whether it's getting too expensive. And some have expressed frustration that the superintendent has not yet identified specific goals for the schools.
There's no budget yet, but district officials have estimated the Southeast Initiative could cost $3 million to $4 million each year.
At a board meeting earlier this month, member Michael DeBell called the situation "problematic."
Board member Peter Maier questioned whether the effort would be sustainable.In an interview Friday, board member Harium Martin-Morris said he is open to backing off the Southeast Initiative if necessary — even reneging on commitments already publicized in the district's enrollment guide.
School Board President Cheryl Chow urged board members to be more patient. At a March 7 meeting, she said the district owes South End students extra resources after years of neglect."(Please note these director comments are not published here in their totality; see the article for complete quotes. Nothing has been taken out of context, however.)
The new budget is to be unveiled in May and voted on in June. But there are rumblings of discord."Even without the Southeast Initiative, the most recent estimate shows about a $22 million gap in funding for next year. Board members balked this month at a proposal to spend as much as $20 million of the district's $29 million reserve. That means the superintendent and the new board will have to decide what to pay for.
"I think there was discomfort among the board members at an approach that was that aggressive in its use of reserves," Sundquist said.
District leaders are counting on some private investment. The philanthropic community — including a newly refocused Alliance for Education — appears poised to help fund new district initiatives when the strategic plan is finished."
That's interesting that the Superintendent thinks the reserve could be used to back up the budget. I wouldn't have a problem with using some of the reserve for the SE Initiative if there are no other monies around but taking $20M from the reserve to fill holes in the budget is wrong. We have to have a strong rainy day fund and $9M isn't it.