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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Did You Get a Postcard?

It appears the district is sending out postcards about the levy. I haven't seen on yet but apparently it describes the announced spending and tells you to remember to vote. (Of course, they can't tell you how to vote.)

Question is: who paid for this? And, why is the district doing this and not Schools First?

Very odd.

8 comments:

Steve said...

I got one. It was paid for by "Seattle School District #1", and it has the Seattle Public Schools logo on it. In addition to information about the levy, it simply says "Please mail your ballots by Nov. 2".

It says "These levy funds are designed to:

- "Reduce the number and severity of state cuts to education."

- "Support our students and teachers in the classroom."

- "Fund new textbooks and classroom materials."

It also says:

"State cuts to K-12 funding have been dramatic - about $32 million in cuts to SPS over the past two years - and we anticipate a $28 million gap for next year. This levy will fund $25.5 million (asterisk - "approximate") over three years to help offset state cuts to instructional programs."

"The levy will partially fund the new teacher's contract (about $16.8 million [asterisk - assume this also means "approximate"] of the $19 million total cost) that will help SPS retain, develop and recruit excellent teachers. Levy dollars will support teacher mentoring, career ladder stipends, a 1 percent pay increase in 2012 and 2013, and a comprehensive evaluation system."

"The levy will also fund $5.9 million (asterisk - again, "approximate") in needed materials for elementary music, middle school language arts, and high school science and social studies."

There are two other generic paragraphs about the legislature authorizing the levy, and the per-$1000 of assessed home value the levy would cost.

Dorothy Neville said...

For a slightly different take on the breakdown of what the levy will pay for, see the SEA website. According to that breakdown, the CBA implementation that is contingent on the levy passing is $19M AND the levy will also hold almost $10M in reserves to pay for the ongoing nature of raises and new positions, all the things that would be hard to bargain away in the next contract.

So, according to the SEA site, there is only $14M of the levy available for discretionary spending. That means it could go for offsetting cuts to classrooms or it could go to anything HQ desires.

Now, why does the postcard say that the levy needs to pay for only $16.8M of the contract? Well that's because they anticipate that they can use a bit more than $2M of the TIF grant for the CBA items.

Therefore, the latest information says that out of $48M of the levy, they will only really be about $16M discretionary blank check funds.

Please note that the CBA implementation includes at least THREE new positions at HQ.

The First Arnold said...

"..develop and recruit exccellent teachers."

Wondered if the District is getting poised to hire Teach for America's teachers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Of course, Arnold and that's why we all have to become better educated on this organization.

Right off the bat, I still wonder why we would need them and how we would pay for it.

Eric B said...

One good reason Schools First might not have done it is because it would violate FERPA to give them student addresses.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, only if they sent it to parents (and maybe they did). Schools First sends their mailings to all voters (but clearly that costs more).

suep. said...

Eric, Melissa -- Schools First can legally get the student contact info, so long as they sign a Declaration for Noncommercial Use.

They already have this list.

Lastly, Schools First has already violated FERPA once this year, so what's another violation to them?

I also got that postcard, wondered who paid for it and how accurate it was. I also wondered if it was appropriate for the school district to be engaged in political lobbying of this sort.

Did anyone else get a robocall from Maria(?) a few months ago, urging SPS parents to vote in the primary election?

I did, and I also found that a strange and political use of school district resources.

(At what point does this become an abuse of the robocall technology?! Is the district going to call us and tell us how to vote next?)

--sue p.

Charlie Mas said...

Perhaps SchoolsFirst! has been denied access to the contact data in response to their violations of the use agreement.

Ha ha ha! Just kidding. Accountability isn't for people like them.