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Friday, March 12, 2010

District Announces Central Office Cuts - Sort Of

Here's a story in the Seattle Times about lay-offs announced in Seattle Public Schools' central office. It says that the District is laying off 90 people, including the education directors.

It also says that the education director jobs will be re-defined and re-posted and, let's face it, the education directors will be hired back. How many others among the 90 will be hired back?

The story reports that 18 teacher coaches will be let go. Hmmm. But I thought that they were announcing cuts in the central office? Apparently when they are retained, the teacher coaches work in the schools, but when they are laid off, they work in the central office. 18 is a good start. The only ones they need to keep are those few curriculum experts in each subject who are needed for curricular alignment and maybe a couple who can go out to address crises. The use of coaches as the primary professional development technique is a failed experiment.

Now when will they cancel the expensive contracts that we cannot afford? $800,000 for NTN, $756,300 for Education First, whatever they are paying the lawyers to appeal the math textbook decision, etc. When will they decimate the Facilities and IT departments that have proven so useless for years and years? Those are not the District's central mission and should be outsourced.

Finally, how were these cuts found? Was it the usual political process or did they use the budget prioritization tool that the Strategic Plan promised they would develop?

15 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

I attended the meeting and I'll try to post my notes today. It's bad news and worse news. I heard nothing good.

Maureen said...

For you visual thinkers out there, here is a link to the SPS Organizational Chart from last fall. I'm thinking these people are being paid $100K and up (make that maybe $140K with benefits).

So once we cut out the five ed directors (who will apparently be rehired in some capacity), we're left with maybe $5.3M spread over 85 other employees, or about $62,000 each (with benefits) -- ie, probably no one you will see on the Org Chart.

Meg said...

So... I counted closer to 77 cuts. I didn't count those 5 directors (since those positions will be filled again, at over $110k a pop in salary). I didn't count vacant positions that were not filled (6 FTEs). And I didn't count the 2 resignations that had happened before the cuts came.

I would also debate the merits of counting firing laborers as reducing Central Administration costs. What, exactly, is a laborer administrating?

I would also guess, Charlie, that coaches are only a portion of professional development costs in SPS. If you read through this doc, you'll see that all teachers are required to take between 24 and 42 hours of professional development coursework. I haven't read through it thoroughly enough to provide any significant analysis other than: those courses aren't free of cost to offer.

Unknown said...

Forget dollar amounts and departments affected.

Where is the chart or line item list that lets the public see the positions that are being cut? It must exist and the community needs to see it so that the perpetual Hide the Position games will not be played.

This needs to be coughed up or someone needs to file a FOIA.

yumpears said...

District-
You can see the hiring/firing information for each month on the board meeting agendas. It takes a little work to get there and I cannot get a link to work but if you go here:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/agenda.htm
click on 2009-10 Agendas
click on the hyperlink for the March 3, 2010 meeting on page 4
click on Personnel Report on page 2
click on Human Resources Personnel Report
and there is the report for March

Maureen said...

Here is a direct link to the Human Resources Activity Report yumpyears refers to (I think), but I don't see anything about laying off ed directors or much of anyone else (are the 'separations' at the very end people who were fired or quit-as opposed to retiring?) Maybe the cuts don't show up in the report until the people are off the payroll? The 'effective dates' in this March report are virtually all from Jan/Feb (except 2 retirements effective in July, one in March)

Meg said...

So... Linda Shaw noted that $6m of cuts are about 8% of the central administration expenses. If that's the case, doesn't that put those expenses around $75m?

Just a thought.

Unknown said...

Quick comment from Sherry Carr's community meeting--of the 90 or so coaches at District HQ*, 75 are funded by grants, so are relatively non-negotiable. As I understood it, the other 15 are getting the axe.

* Again, it needs to be clarified whether these coaches are really part of HQ funding or whether they just have their desks there. If they have a desk that they spend half a day at each week in the Stanford Center, I have no problems with calling them school-based staff. If they spend most of their time at HQ, they need to be called HQ staff.

Eric

KG said...

Mr.Mas,

Why is the Facilities Department so USELESS and why should they decimate it?

Would be interesting to know why you think so. Could you please elaborate?

Thanks,

KG

Melissa Westbrook said...

I can answer why Facilities is problematic (and no, it shouldn't be decimated). I think, from my experience, that Facilities gets far less oversight than other departments. I think they are overstaffed in some places (BEX) and understaffed in others (Maintenance). The Board finally seems to have gotten the message about basic maintenance but where the money will come from to back it up, I don't know (there's some in BTA III but not available not and not for all uses).

Facilities gives all sorts of different answers to basic questions about the state of a building, functional capacity, etc. It seems to change yearly with no discernible reason.

The Board never seems to question them too closely mainly because they don't know much about capacity management, building management or construction. So it's easy for them to pretty much do what they want.

This is not to suggest that Facilities is happy about the state of the SPS facilities. I know they probably worry a lot about the large number of buildings and the deferred maintenance built-up. But I still think they need oversight and I am hoping there will be a BTA oversight committee created like there is a BEX oversight committee.

KG said...

Thank you Melissa for your reply to this question. I agree with you, as I believe asking for 500 miilion for levy's to replace buildings and then not to maintain them with the proper amount of maintenance is ludicrous to say the least. I believe in many cases because of lack of oversight of contractors that build these new facilities the District is forced to deal with the poor construction that occured, thus building a large stock-pile of much needed maintenance on older facilities. Who knows, Maybe the board doesn't want to do anything about this issue
because they know the taxpayers are good enough to pass every and all levies, or maybe the board has ties to the construction industry. The board definitley needs to add to all maintenance in all buildings as this would put the need to replace buildings further off in the future saving big $. Buliding new buildings less often with a little more preventive maintenance instead of Band-Aid maintenance would go a long way.

Maureen said...

of the 90 or so coaches at District HQ*, 75 are funded by grants, so are relatively non-negotiable.

But isn't the question really whether or not that grant money HAS to be spent on coaches? If the money could be spent on tutoring for at risk kids or reducing class size at targeted schools ... then shouldn't we consider it? Sometimes grant money is just money, sometimes it comes with strings. Do we know which is true here?

SSDemp said...

Charlie's "outsource" idea misses the real causes of the problems which are contractors doing "outsourced" work for profit, and too many administrative people downtown with not enough in-house,"hands" to maintain taxpayers investments.

Believe me, the business community has just the Board (and superintendent) they want in getting returns on their (campaign) "investments" these days and outsoucing is their favorite idea.

Charlie, please be clearer as more profit for the downtown association and the members of the alliance are NOT the solution for anyone but them.

SSDemp said...

Providing more clarity to my last post, one only has to look at Roosevelt High School and the HVAC system contract that was awarded by a suit downtown who probably rarely visits the inside of a school building.

The outsourced company that did that work made nothing but money for what they put in place there. After costly over-runs they cleaned up on Seattle taxpayers and were well paid. They only ones unhappy were those who had to actually live and work inside the "new" building we paid for.

Things were miserable EVERY DAY for as long as the (outsourced)employees of that (outsourced) firm had a lingering responsibility for their contract.

It has only been since those gastly (I forget the term Charlie used to refer to them) in house District Facilities technicians have taken over the maintenance and operation of the poorly designed system, that conditions have begun to improve.

Now, those who work there have someone to call who can actually address problems without trying to squeeze even more profits from the community.

Is this a good example of the outsourcing you are talking about Charlie?

I think not.

KG said...

I agree with and thank SSDEMP for the enlightenment on greasing of the businesses who spent record amounts in electing board members who really pretend to put Children ahead of Profit. I guess the board does run like a portion of congress and we might as well teach it at the K-12 level.