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Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Exciting Saturday Night (Shout Out to Kindergarten Parents; You Were Right)

Okay, husband on a plane, college-age son off in his room, decorating done, so let's humor Charlie and finish the Audit and Finance summary. (This also means for my effort I get to eat some of the Theo's Fig, Fennel and Almond dark chocolate bar.)

So I left off with the pending or impending) capital program management audit.

Sorry, Charlie but Sherry misunderstood Michael and let Noel Treat leave. No Ethics program review. (Yes, a shame but it was an honest misunderstanding. I realize now that I also misread my notes and this occurred BEFORE the audit review information. I include this so that you know that Sherry Carr DID hear the audit review information.)

They were then talking about the integrated planning for the 2011-2012 budget. I didn't get the handouts so this was very hard to follow. The one data point I got was that we are losing $66M from grants not included in the previous budget update. (I do not see this info online; I will try to find it Monday and post it. Sorry it is so vague.)

What was clear in the Directors' questioning is that they don't think things line up. Michael pointed this out on one page and there was a long silence. There was "I'll have to find the source for this info" statement from staff.

Sherry responded with "You're losing me." She seemed a bit curt but I think she's irritated that the charts are not clearer.

Peter asks about the general counsel position and why it says it is a 1.0 FTE and yet it's more like a 1.1. He asked, "Is that a rounding error?" Answer; yes.

Duggan Harman said that the budget survey ended on Dec. 3rd with roughly 2750 respondents. Duggan said he had looked at it but it needs a lot more analysis. He said he thought it was a fairly representative sample across all grade levels. He said it ranged from "great job" to "throw the bums out".

Then they had a brief (and I mean brief) overview of the Small Business Development Program (which I might called Potterville after its former director, Silas Potter). There was a Powerpoint handout on this which was ever-so terse and basically, the program has ended, small works projects are now in Maintenance, no more participation by other agencies, 3 remaining employees reassigned to other duties. (I was told they are now in the energy savings area of Facilities.)

Don Kennedy said he talked to Ron English, one of our legal counsel, about how the program had "changed over time". Holly Ferguson is developing a policy for the Board to repeal this policy.

Wait a minute. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Board policy that encourages the district to make the effort to include minority/small businesses in its business outreach. What WAS wrong is that someone up the food chain allowed Silas Potter free rein and he completely overreached and used capital fund improperly, according to the SAO, AND allegedly transferred some of that money improperly. That is what is wrong, not the policy.

Don Kennedy claims there was no budgetary impact but I still question having to retain all 3 of remaining employees.

Michael asked if there was any further liability for the transfer of funds ($2M) form Capital to Operations. Duggan said he didn't have an answer now and due to the audit findings that staff was working on they don't know but will have to verify that.

Then we moved onto what was called External Audit Firm. This was confusing to me because I believe it has to do with the internal auditor who recently resigned but again, no handout. Sherry talked about working with Holly Ferguson on this before the retreat with Don McAdams.

Peter asked who decides what to audit. Sherry said from her experience at Boeing the audit team has a work plan for the year and includes typical high-risk areas (procurement cards, etc.) as well as asking management for areas of concern.

Don said a third thing to do is for auditors to do their own independent analysis and develop part of their work plan on risk assessment. They asked the SAO auditor present and he said the plan needs to be independent from management and including a public member.

They mentioned the public member for A&F and said Holly is helping the consultant with best practices, our policies, etc. Michael stated that he had draft interview questions. (There was some mention of talking with community leaders and I just hope it's not the usual suspects.) The consultant, Karen Waters, should be presenting the information to the Board at the retreat in April (unclear whether this is the process or candidates).

They continued on with an RFP for an External Audit firm. How much this will cost? Who knows? I have no idea how all this stuff gets paid for by the district.

Kindergarten Tuition

This explanation was noted as by Duggan Harman but it was by Kathie Technow and was a disaster.

Kindergarten parent readers - you were absolutely right. The district has no clue what they are doing on collecting full-day K monies and accounting for them.

This is fairly basic accounting and the district is doing a piss-poor job.

Ms. Technow first stated how there was a "fair amount of swirl" to standardize pay for K and to centralize it. She gave out a handout that proported to be an explanation of how the district is tracking pay for K. There was a kind of timeline but when you see "F/RL information available mid October"and that they are STILL currently verifying it, you have to wonder.

Next steps were listed as "issue quarterly statements; shows payment history and amounts owed. Link to School Messenger to sent (sic) payment reminders".

Then there was an "Accounts Summary" that, in a word, was laughable. (The rest of the handout were print-outs of what was sent to parents.)

What has happened is that Accounting decided to go with the system that Nutrition Systems uses called PayPams. The issue is that despite that fact that PayPams has had "data reliability issues" with Nutrition Services but they were the cheapest so Accounting went with them for the pay for K fees.

Yes, you get what you pay for.

She stated, "We don't get clean reports from them." They don't allow credit card payments so it's checks only. (Is this the '80s? the '90s? C'mon, And we're in a bad economy in a high-tech region.).

Ms. Technow claimed a couple of people left PayPams and "it hurt them and consequently hurt us." She was serious.

Sherry said (and I thought I saw a little steam coming out her ears), "We need to screen our suppliers."

Ms. Technow tried to say they were just trying to piggyback services but the damage was done. And, she stated that the fee for services gets charged back to the parents.

Peter asked if things would change. Ms. Technow said that they will be having an on-line meeting next week and "we'll be logging on and checking them instead of waiting for them to send info to us."

Michael asked how long we had this vendor. Two years was the answer.

The issue was raised how the district wanted to take over this function from the schools and yet we are not getting all the payments nor do we even have a clear picture of who should be paying and who shouldn't. Michael said that if the district wanted to centralize it, "it behooves them to have a robust plan for a smooth transition".

Ms. Technow tried to say how the schools had no credit card option in the past either.

Michael said the schools had been doing the paperwork and reconciliation previously. Did the district think this all the way thru?

Duggan weighed in and said that when this was before the principals because of the NSAP and wanting a standard amount for Pay for K, they wanted the district to do it. Now, apparently some principals want it back and want to set their own rates. He said the Board had supported a set rate. (I'm thinking that's back when the Board thought the district could actually DO the work of collections.)

Ms. Technow continued her tortured explanation of how someone on staff had been RIFed and now was hired back and that slowed it down.

So Sherry tried to go over this "Account Summary". Here is is (in full):

Total K 4,600
Schools with fees waived 1,616 -note, she means # of students at schools

Subtotal, schools with fees 2,984-note, she means# of students with fees due

FRL verified 228
FRL estimated 670
Accounts with fees, estimated 2,086

Accounts with payments, est. 1,625

Revenue received $1,246,498

Note - Technow said that they estimated a third of K students to be F/RL but if you add the verified and estimated totals together, they are not a third of the subtotal.

Sherry asked if some people had already paid in full for the year and Kathie said yes. Sherry (again, with some amount of steam coming out her ears) asked for a clearer accounting of what has been paid and where the district is. She said "I see a lot of estimates". She also noted that this might be another audit finding if it is not correctly quickly.

Peter said he was concerned over loss of revenue from not collecting the money in a timely fashion. Michael noted the added number of kindergartners and what that represented in money. Peter also worried about the billings ending up pushing into July (if billed quarterly).

Sherry said she was not about second-guessing but that this doesn't give her the sense of a strong and robust system.

Don said he agreed and will continue to work on it. He said some of this is a "resource issue". If this is a resource issue, then give it back to the schools.

Peter said we need to get this revenue. Sherry asked him not to call it revenue because it isn't. She said the district is recovering money it is spending for full day K because it can't pay for it on their own. Any money they don't get is using public funds to pay for something they did not commit to paying.

So let's review:
  • the district wanted to take over this function and standardize the cost
  • the district used a vendor that was already performing below expectation (and I'm being generous here in my wording)
  • this vendor now is doing poorly with yet another contract with the district
  • kindergarten parents are not receiving statements nor quarterly billings in a timely manner
  • the district STILL doesn't know how many parents or which parents they should be billing
  • we are paying for services we don't have the money to pay for and didn't intend to pay for
Maybe I'm naive. Isn't this basic accounting? You bill for a service, receive payment, credit payment and then go after payments not received. What am I missing?

I can only simply say: our district is not able to carry out basic operational functions. They are falling further and further behind in their ability to keep up with basic operations while still being asked to do more for the Strategic Plan.

I told the Board last Wednesday that I thought the staff is overburdened. I said you cannot ask for good work when you give too much work. I urged them (and whoever was the new Board president and that's Steve Sundquist), to pull back on the Strategic Plan.

Choose your metaphor - house of cards, sinking ship - but this district has been going in circles and is now sinking. We are NOT a well-managed district.

Whatever assets Dr. Goodloe-Johnson may have brought to the table 3 years ago are now offset by her inability to come in, accurately understand what is happening (and not happening) in the day-to-day operations of our district and make corrections. It's odd because she has been quoted as saying that what surprised her the most coming in was our "lack of systems". So it's almost like she knew we were not well organized and yet did nothing. And nothing has happened until this audit.

This Audit and Finance Committee meeting this week had some terribly revealing and frightening information. So who's listening?

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is hurting our district.

35 comments:

Steve said...

I always wonder about PayPams when I add money to my son's account for his lunch. I am supposed to be able to get a report online showwing his purchases, but it isn't available. I guess I need to do my own accounting now. This district is simply ridiculous.

seattle said...

Odd. Paypams takes credit cards for school lunch payments. For the past two years I've solely used my credit card to replenish my kids lunch account - never sent a check.

Wonder why they would take credit cards for lunch payments but not for Pay for K payments?

Did any director ask?

Anonymous said...

Of course this is scary stuff! It is the first time that many of the employees are doing the type of work they are doing. For example, Don & Duggan have never prepared financial statements from Start to finish, and therefore they do not know how to trouble shoot the process.
And Kathie Technow? Do I need say more? Ask her what she is doing with the General Ledger. Eric Sonnet might as well talk all day because he continues to frustrate Budget staff with his misunderstanding of the budget process.

Accounting Staff.

Chris S. said...

Wow. Not a good advertisement for "strong management" and the Broad foundation.

Yes, I've definitely fed PayPams a credit card. I don't know what they are talking about.

Also, when they say "principals wanted them to take over" they are just referring to the three they talked to while not covering their ears and singing "La-la-la."

suep. said...

Hi Melissa -- What role did you say consultant Karen Waters was playing in all this?

She's the Senior VP of Strategies 360 -- the political and marketing firm behind the infamous "Our Schools Coalition" and push-poll, and FERPA violation fiasco.

I wonder what kind of 'expertise' and 'data' she is going to deliver to the board now.

--sue p.

Sabine Mecking said...

I decided to pay all the K tuition ($2070) up-front in early September so that I wouldn't have to deal with monthly payments. But since they don't seem to be billing people nor keeping track who needs to pay, does that mean I screwed myself by paying early? Do I get money back if the district doesn't get it together to charge everyone the full Pay-for-K amount throughout the year? The answer is probably "no" of course.

dan dempsey said...

So what is the Board doing about the Superintendent?

(1) She is an incompetent manager.

(2) The annual change in OSPI test scores for English Language Learners and Special Ed was horrible, yet she gave that ridiculous 66% of Limited English Speaking students are making gains on the State reading test as a cohort from grade 6 to grade 8.

(3) Change in writing scores was also abysmal at grades 4 and 7.

(4) Score changes were overall very weak for grades 3 and 4.

(5) She is the Secretary of the school board and the district has yet to submit a certified correct evidence filing in any appeal of a board decision since she has been here. There have been at least 5 appeals.

(6) After excluding evidence, She refused to reconsider the HS math adoption because the Judge said the Board had to use all the evidence.

(7) She lied about the 17% and misled lots of folks as decisions like TfA used that number to point out how poorly the District was doing.

(8) She forged of the NTN action report. Then submitted the Draft memo instead of the original memo to the court. {Little wonder no one certifies those filings to be correct --- a perjury charge was at least avoided}

===========
Now the Board is well aware of all of the above (and lots more).

The question now is looking more like..... Are the Directors going to act and request the Governor to have the Attorney General investigate the Superintendent in regard to criminal acts?

..... or are the Directors more co-conspirators than Directors?


This gets more absurd with each passing week.

Paul said...

I hear there is a superintendent vacancy in Atlanta that sounds right up MGJ's alley.

Dear Atlanta: Please consider "wooing" this mess away from our doorstep.

MGJ: Please go, take the whole gang (Tolley, Kennedy, Broad, MAP,etc.) with you and never dirty our civic landscape again!

ParentofThree said...

Questions to board:

Whose idea was it to move pay for K to the district level?

Who is the person in charge of that program?

Who will be held accountable for this failure?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Weird Seattle, because I thought for sure they said PayPams didn't take credit cards at all. I'll let the directors know.

My understanding is Karen Waters is helping with governance - Board policies. I'll double-check.

I urge you to tell the Board how troubling this all is and that you are worried.

Anonymous said...

The reason for this mess is that the supe's/Broad's agenda has no basis in the reality of the needs of our district.

Goodloe-Johnson ignored what needed to be done here and focused all of her attention and SPS' resources on her Strategic Plan which is in many ways the agenda of the ed reform movement and has little to do with our schools in Seattle, where we were when she got here and what is important to us as a community. We are not a Detroit or Chicago. Our situation is entirely different. The supe is trying to create a need for charter schools which is not there or at least wasn't there until she re-segregated our schools and created a transportation plan that eliminates choices particularly for families who cannot drive their children to school.

There was and is a conflict regarding her/Broad agenda and what we need within the SPS community. They do not dovetail at all. It's just been a willful subjugation on the part of the supe of her agenda over our students and teachers.

And if you don't think that this is all about charter schools ultimately, check out the LEV website and look at the parade of people who they have brought to Seattle. Their forums include folks who own charter franchises and people like Ben Austin who sells them with a Gates rep thrown in for good measure. Broad and Gates are doing everything that they can to turn this town into another New York, City, LA, Chicago and Detroit with the privatization of our public schools, something that we do not need in Seattle.

The Broad is not about good management. They are about managing a system that they have created and that they think will work for all children, everywhere, no matter what the actual circumstances might be.

Don Kennedy could hardly run the Charleston school district. That man is way over his head. Between that and taking his directions from the supe rather than responding to the needs at hand has created a conflict and the best interests of our students loses out.

By the way, if you want the skinny on Ben Austin, check out: Ben Austin and His Parent Trigger, Now in Seattle

seattle said...

From the Paypams FAQ page:

"Automatic payments can be set with MasterCard and Discover cards only. Users who wish to make payments with Visa will still be able to submit one-time payments online by clicking ‘Pay Now.’"

SE Mom said...

PayPams can be difficult. It used to work just fine for us when we made online payments. Then we switched to another school and never could get our account transferred. School said to contact PayPams, Paypans said to contact the school. I gave up and just send in checks!

Janis said...

I am thinking about organizing K parents at my school (and maybe others) to withhold their payments until the District can assure us they have set up appropriate accounting procedures. I also want to know that the District has some way of tracking whether the $207/month fee is more than the school needs to cover full day K. I know that at our school last year families were charged $200/month, but it actually cost less than $200/month to pay for full day K and families are receiving refunds. When I hear that Peter Maier referred to these fees as "revenue," I fear that this money will be used by the District to pay for other things besides full day K. What assurance do K parents have that this money is ONLY going to pay for full day K?

Kparent said...

Other than the first payment for September, we have not received a single bill or communication about our kindergarten tuition. For some families, even those that don't qualify for F/RL, it will be a huge hardship to have to pay a larger sum at all once.

Paypams accepts credit cards for my son's school lunch.

Anonymous said...

How many accounting staff does the district have? This is not difficult accounting to do. Yes, perhaps time consuming because of the number of people, but not difficult.

I cannot believe this one. I hope that kindergarten parents and schools do stop making any payments to the district until they provide an accounting for every penny, and a plan for how to mitigate the damage that a family may suffer from having a bill for several months of payments all at once.

Accountant - but not for SPS

Unknown said...

thank you for blogging about the pay-for-k insanity. everyone seems to agree the entire premise is wrong, however i think pepole just pay it and move on and never think about it again after that K year.

1) i don't get why entire schools can go w/out paying for K as a whole due to their % F/RL? F/RL kids never have to pay, regardless of their school's F/RL population %? so the struggling middle class that happen to have more higher income families than lower income families in their school boundaries lose out? $240 a month is a lot of money, at least to our family.

2) i stopped paying in October. apparently the district doesn't need my money to pay our teacher's paycheck? what does this money go towards? if the K parents never paid, would it make that much of a difference to the budget bottom line?

3) how did we get to the point where seattle parents have to pay for K anyway?? i am so tired of feeling obligated to pay the annual appeal, donate to the aution, attend and buy crap that i dont't need at the auction, all for a PUBLIC education?

4) paypams charges a user fee. i thought it was a great easy premise to keep funds in the lunch account, until they tried to charge me, per kid, to add money to their accounts.

Anonymous said...

Re: PayPams from the school lunch menu for Dec: Parents and guardians now have the convience of paying by the internet or by phone using a credit card/debit card anytime day or night. A $1.95 fee per payment is charged... Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards can be used...
So, the accounting lady doesn't know what she is talking about and doesn't want to accept responsibility for dropping the ball setting this system up. Wasn't the $7 over the $200 supposed to cover the 'management costs' for SPS taking over the billing for the schools? How much does PayPams charge for doing the accounts receivable work for Pay for K? Now there is another $1.95 per transaction for for K.
I'll bet that PayPams has yet to receive the all of the basic billing information to even set up accounts. Having had so many things lost, misplaced, or just plain disappear even after hand-carrying them down to the JSCEE, the cluster &#€$ of Pay for K is not surprising. I wish sending money to downtown for management was less like -to borrow a phrase from my father- pi$$*%& down a rat hole.
paid 4K

Unknown said...

i just reread the part

"the district used a vendor that was already performing below expectation (and I'm being generous here in my wording)
this vendor now is doing poorly with yet another contract with the district"

to be clear, i have a feeling paypams didn't enter the picture until just recently. or the district engaged the vendor, but the vendor has yet to "perform" for K families. in late august, K parents were sent a letter asking to return a slip indicating whether we were F/RL, or paying full. (which i never returned, does that mean i'm not liable for any payments?) it include the dollar amount due, address, and a note along the lines of "in september you'll receive notice of how to submit payment via credit card". never received anything further. if paypams was on board all along, i have a feeling we would have received more explicit instructions in sepetember, similar to notices regarding lunchroom accounts?

Bird said...

Last year when we paid for K, our schools said it was a voluntary donation.

We paid it to the Alliance.

The benefit of this system was that we got employer matching for the donation, and effectively doubled our contribution.

Jan said...

Dora is spot on, here. It has seemed, since the day MGJ arrived, like she is marching to a drumbeat that is totally disconnected from the issues that we needed a new superintendent to solve. We had a whole HOST of problems waiting for our next superintendent, but none of them involved instituting MAP, curriculum standardization (under the guise of alignment -- which would have been fine, but is NOT what they are doing), etc., etc.

I get it -- that leaders can be hired for one set of problems, only to have another, more urgent set, suddenly foisted upon them (just ask Obama about that economic crash thing) -- but that isn't the issue with MGJ. She just arrived with a totally different, very expensive, and very damaging agenda -- and she has never had any interest in fixing the problems that already existed (which included weak accounting and a whole host of operational issues at Stanford Center)or managing the District assets that we already had. I get the feeling that she STILL isn't interested, one bit, in fixing them, -- though she really hopes they don't "interrupt" her real agenda. Anything she does on them seems to me to be totally a bandaid -- just enough to keep the festering stew of problems from becoming bad enough to stop her teacher-reform train from continuing down the tracks. That her staff is incapable of doing all that she is heaping on them is glaringly evident.

With new and unexpected cuts now coming from the State, I think the Board has to stop and think for itself. Bad things (like getting rid of teacher LA course autonomy in highly successful schools like RHS; replacing AP Euro History with AP Human Geography; etc.) are happening. Good things (like fixing RBHS problems, fixing middle school capacity in the NE, replicating successful programs, providing equitable access to LI and Montessori, etc.) are NOT happening. What is the list of priorities that they can accomplish with the staff and money they have, who is accountable (ah! that word) for delivering a solution, within a given budget, for each item? What needs to be deferred because we lack the assets to work on it now? What should be killed altogether because it was a horrible idea from day one?

We need to stop all of the new stuff that is going so badly, yet costing so much in time and staffing. We need to focus on funneling as many dollars (and as much autonomy) as possible to classrooms. We need to abolish coaches -- unless specific teachers request specific help from them. MAP? It is expensive. End it. STEM contract for project based learning program? Expensive, and NOVA does fine without it. End it. Coaches? End 4/5th of them. Make the waiver process (for things like Singapore, etc.) easy. Get rid of half of the high priced "executive level" hires at Stanford, and use that money to hire (with outside help, if need be) some competent accounting types to fix the current audit problems, and institute the systems that we should have.

Sherry sounds like she is (and she should be) appalled. Kay Smith-Blum is a businesswoman. She has to be horrified by this as well. Michael is certainly smart enough to know how dreadfully bad all of this is. I don't know enough about Betty's background -- but she certainly seems willing to nix bad ideas. The others?

As for kindergarten billing, maybe the Board should tell the District to give billing back to the schools -- or are they so screwed up at this point that they cannot even do that because they have no way of telling each school the current state of its accounts?

Sahila said...

Jan.... MGJ's agenda is the reformers' agenda... she is merely implementing the Broad plan on target and on schedule...

Some of us have been in communication with others in school districts all over the country, and this is the same MO unfolding here as has already unfolded in other places...

Actually tending to the nuts and bolts of running a school district is not MGJ's job - as far as Broad and she sees it anyway...

Lori said...

I'm furious about this Kindergarten payment fiasco. Setting aside for a moment my personal feelings about the impropriety of having families pay for full-day K to begin with, the district took a system that appeared to be working well, centralized it, and completely lost control, resulting in a loss of as much as $1.2 million so far this school year (my estimate).

[4,600 kids, 1/3 FRL who don't pay, leaves 3,000 potential payers, at $200/month for 4 months so far this year = $2.4 million. According to the post, $1.2 million has been received, meaning the district has failed to collect the other $1.2 million.]

I hope the Times, KUOW, The Stranger, Crosscut, all look into this. I think parents can relate to this example of gross incompetence perhaps more so than other examples in the audit report that don't directly affect their lives. Many parents have paid the K tuition in the past or are currently affected by the confusion this year. This is wholly unacceptable and should give every SPS family pause to consider whether or not the district is acting as good stewards of the public's money.

Bruce Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Taylor said...

Our school (Laurelhurst Elementary) had a popular half-day kindergarten program (one full-day class and two half-day classes).

MGJ forced us to kill the half-day program -- which was very popular in the community -- and replace it with full-day kindergarten instead. The principal and Central Administration ignored a campaign by the community to save the half-day program.

Despite our wishes, the District is paying three kindergarten teachers instead of two and using three classrooms instead of two. There's a greater burden on our playground, our lunchroom, and (I presume) our specialists.

Now we learn that it may cost the district even more because they're too dumb to account for income and expenses?

How typical. How disheartening.

Maureen said...

And has anyone looked into the cost of busing home the kids who chose not to pay for full day K? One bus costs something on the order of $40K-$50K which is about the same as it costs to provide a full day vs. a half day K class. Families must be accomodated if they don't want full day K. If paying $2070 per year drives even one or two kids out of full day K class and onto a middday bus, SPS could be netting out negative for that class.

Sahila said...

If you really want to know what's going on here, you'll read this series... Part three posted today, with several more postings to come...

Hijacked - the Battle for Seattle Part 3

Anonymous said...

Maureen,

Busing costs was the main reason that one of the northern districts, Brier? Edmonds? changed their schedule for half day. Half day kids go full day either Mon & Wed or Tues & Thurs. They split friday and go every other week. Not good for kids and families who want the half day schedule.
Busing was the major reason for this, so yes it is expensive. I have heard the district is doing away with half day next year and anyone who wants K will have to pay up. Except for FRL, who get another free ride. It really is the struggling middle class that gets dumped on here.

SLP

Sarah said...

Each school used to get Pay for K funds collected from their respective school.

The process then became centralized. Our school is receiving less Pay for K funds(obviously, the district isn't collecting funds).

Was there an intention of Pay for K to be distributed throughout the district? Was the intention for MGJ to manage more and more of school funding?

seattle said...

"I have heard the district is doing away with half day next year and anyone who wants K will have to pay up."

Not sure where you heard this but the district can not do it. It is illegal. You can not require tuition for 1/2 day kindergarten as it is funded by the state. And the district has to offer it.

If you want full day K, the district can ask you to pay, but they must, legally, offer you the 1/2 day (free) option.

StepJ said...

I've wondered about Pay 4 K being centralized. I had thought the schools did keep the funds as previously they set the Pay 4 K rate (unless they were a Title 1 school) based on the particular circumstances at their school.

For example, having teachers with higher seniority on staff, more than 1 K class, etc.

My understanding is that through the WSS the District pays for 1 full time K teacher, and beyond that only .5 of a K teacher is funded.

If you have a school with 3 K classes then only 2 of those teachers are funded and the school would need to come up with the remainder with Pay 4 K, or some other means.

Schools had a small measure of autonomy in that some schools chose to use their PCP funds to pay for non-funded K teachers, or some PTAs or BLT's chose to subsidize the Pay 4 K rate at some schools to bring it to a lower amount. For example Olympic Hills found funds to have 3/4 day K at no charge, Thornton Creek kept their Pay 4 K really low, and Laurelhurst as well.

I do not believe that MGJ actually knows enough about the minutia of the day to day operations of a school to specifically target Pay 4 K as an area to sabotage a school's bottom line. From her comments at community meetings or other events she really does not seem well informed about how things operate.

However, there might be a general checklist she refers to -- deny funds to high performing schools - so that a *check mark* on the centralize Pay 4 K funds might qualify as one way to siphon money away from non Title 1 schools.

I have had a suspicion for a long time that her means to close the achievement gap is to bring down the previously high performing schools by whatever means (huge boundaries = intense overcrowding, strip funding from schools for Strategic Plan projects, etc.) to bring the performance of all schools down to a level of mediocrity and voila -- achievement gap eliminated!

Just my personal observation - unfortunately no concrete proof.

Sarah said...

I'd really like to know if Pay for K funds are being transferred from non Title 1 schools to Title 1 schools.

StepJ said...

Sarah,

As far as I know there has never been any sort of transfer from non Title 1 to Title 1.

Title 1 schools receive extra support funds from the Federal Gov't.

Non Title 1 schools have needed to make up for the lack of non-Fed. funds with private fund raising.

It is not a matter of redistribution of funds -- just who - Feds, or parents - who make up for the lack.

Anonymous said...

Here's a letter I got via my kid's kindergarten teacher today.

Dear School Office Staff and ET’s:

We would like to announce a new payment option for Full Day Kindergarten fees. Credit card payment through www.PayPAMS.com is now available. Register a student once, and the same account is good for Full Day Kindergarten fees (and also Lunchroom Account). Please click the following links for more Full Day K program fee information:

Accounting: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/accounting/payfork.xml

Enrollment: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/pay4k.xml

Please pass on this info to parents and staff concerned. Please also ask your webmaster to include the above two links in your school website regarding Full Day Kindergarten, so parents can find the most current info. Thank you very much.

Accounting Department
Full Day Kindergarten Fees
MS 33-343, 206-252-0275

Just Jackie said...

I used to work with Kathie Technow when she was A/P 'Supervisor'and since she did such a sub-standard job in that position, it stands to reason that the District would promote her to Accounting 'Manager' after only a few years in her previous position. As there was ZERO ACCOUNTABILITY in her Dept. under her 'supervision', I can only imagine ALL HELL BREAKING LOOSE under her 'management'. Good luck kids!