Monday, February 07, 2011

Budget Recommendations

I am going to create a one-sheet list of my suggestions for easy reading but here it is fleshed out. (I'll have the one-sheeter by the end of the evening.)

As a preamble to what I would suggest the district should cut, I make these disclaimers:
  • I have looked through all the documents available for 2011-2012 budgeting. They do not follow in a real and coherent fashion so it is not really possible to discern exactly what staff is saying. There was an initial listing, followed by another presentation and the Strategic Plan Budget Planning Tool followed by the Budget Balancing tool. I can't tell if the planning tools overlap. I know that the Board pushed back on some initial ideas (like selling the radio station at Hale) so naturally it fell to staff to look at other areas.
  • Staff is right about the difficulty of planning when there are unknowns looming. What will the economic update forecast be on March 17th? What will labor partners have to say?
  • I am going with the idea that things add up. So, to me, anything we save over $50k is worth it.
  • Keep in mind that there is always the option of stating a "cut" as a temporary suspension or a reduction. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. I know; you worry if something is even suspended for a year or two or three, it may be lost forever. That's a possibility but if the correct wording is used then it will be more difficult for the district to not follow-thru later on.
  • A bit of a wild card here is the Families and Education levy. It has been stated what the levy goals are (ELL students, schools with highest level of academic need, children 5 and younger likely to attend those schools, students with highest level of academic need, etc.) BUT we will not know until AFTER the levy passes what form these will take. Can we cut from Early Education in SPS' budget hoping that the F&E levy can take up some of that? The red for hold in the planning tools seems to indicate the district may think that way as well.
  • I have no crystal ball. I base these ideas on what I believe is the current state of our district (which is not a steady state to start with). It is frustrating to know that time and money is being spent on audit response. Not because they shouldn't but because the district knew, in many cases, exactly what they should have been doing and didn't do it. Eliminating the audit response work isn't listed anywhere and I give them credit for that. But we shouldn't even be having to put out that much effort when the district knew better.
  • I CONCUR with every red (stop) item in the Strategic Planning Tool with a couple of exceptions. One, SBOC. The hole digging has got to stop and the district has to act in a responsible manner and keep their promises to this community. Two, there are two small Family Engagement areas that I feel worth supporting. One is for $40k (outreach) and one is for $23k (for translations). I think all three of these are important to keep the lines of communication open between our non-English speaking families and SPS.
  • Last, I won't be putting forth a total worth of $36.6M to cover the gap. I am just putting forward the ideas that I think will do the least harm to the classroom and to any forward motion for initiatives already in progress.
Central Reductions

The district is saying they could cut between $6-12M. If they went high, that would be a third of the gap right there. This is in their green zone so I say go for it. Add into that their idea of Central Mid-Year Reductions that would happen this school year at $700k to $1.4M.

Meg Diaz has now pointed out, in vivid detail, that there were NOT anywhere close to 85 Central Administration jobs cut last year. So while any cuts are painful, it won't be as if they cut 85 last year and are cutting even deeper this year.

The district has given no real nod in any direction here except that they recommend:
  • "transportation changes",
  • eliminating summer school,
  • evening school, and
  • reducing custodial support (but at the same time they say they are looking at outsourcing that).
I would suspect that would mean job losses in all those areas. If I had to guess, it might be between 15-30 positions in all those categories and those are not enough cuts for Central Adm.

We currently have math, reading and curriculum coaches and data coaches (and I believe there's also to be science coaches). I know that we have both school-based coaches (who are there all day) and traveling coaches.

I recommend that we eliminate at-school coaches of all kinds.

I recommend that we cut the number of coaches, overall, by half.

If any of them are being paid with grants, great and we fund only those positions.

I'm thinking this might be 10-15 people. Staff recommends most of this at green or yellow.

It's funny but when the whole Brave New World brouhaha happened, there were a number of local pundits who scoffed at all this "professional development". "You mean you need teachers for teachers? Don't they already know how to teach?" It was a bit astonishing that so many educated people believe teaching is a static profession.

However, I think between regular professional development and the coaches, it's overkill. It's using money we don't have to spend. The coaches do NOT work directly with students. Most important, there is no real evidence - read, DATA - to tell us it works. Director DeBell was pretty clear at an Audit&Finance meeting last year, that if we had all these coaches, he wanted to see data-driven reasoning to keep them. There has been nothing of substance so far. Hence, reduce the number of coaches.

Any other cuts should come from the Executive Management team which has gone from 8.6 FTE last year to 15.5 this year. Some of these may be grant-based but it seems the new district policy is to keep them on after the grants end.

Strategic Planning Tool Items

College and Career Readiness #9

I would put off creating the IB program at RBHS. It's a savings of $150k. I know RBHS needs help but frankly, I think they need more direct supports at this point than a new program. Work has already started this year for IB at RBHS so this is putting the rest of the work on hold. To keep the work going through 2011-2012, the district could take RBHS teachers, on professional development days to either Chief Sealth or Ingraham to do one-on-one work with those IB teachers.

Data and Assessments #14 (as well as in the Budget Planning Tool)

There are several instances where the district is proposing to use capital funds. I find this disturbing and I wonder if it might come back and haunt the district in a future audit. (Keep in mind, the audit in July had a number of places where the district said it thought it was okay to use money in a certain manner and got their hand slapped by the SAO.) One place is where the district has already used (under the heading of "technology") $368,292 from capital funds for implementation of MAP and wants to use another $500K from capital for the MAP license.

The district also proposes to transfer between $400k-$1.1M under "technology" from the capital fund and yet didn't explain exactly where that would go. There should be NO movement of funds without a direct line of what those funds would be used for. There is also yet another instance of where the district wanted to charge an HR cost over to capital. I think this is folly.

We need to cut back on MAP testing now, whether it saves us money or not. It is costing so much and I do not believe there is evidence to continue 3x a year testing.

Data and Assessments #15
This would $410k. We had a Gates grant to cover this year's cost ($722k) but we need to suspend this. This is also marked as red (hold) by staff and I agree.

School Performance Framework #28
I recommend cutting this at least in half. It is budgeted at $8.2M; staff recommends funding it at this year's level, $2.6M. I concur with this.

Leadership Development #46/47
I concur with staff on holding off on these until there is funding. That is about $400 and $100k.

Student Assignment #48
I call this one out even though staff puts it on hold (which I agree with). It's for hiring yet ANOTHER consultant to figure out...functional capacity at our schools. What? How many times is this going to be done? I'm sorry, pick a number and stop.

Academic Assurances #53
With great sadness, I recommend to put this one on hold. It's for $432k for new music instruments and PD for those teachers. Again, a suspension for now.

Strategic Planning Department #56
This is stated at $555k and staff recommends $277K. I would recommend dropping it to $150k. If every other department is going to lose staff (and this one is unlikely to as many of its staff is paid through grants), they can run on bare bones like everyone else.

From the Budget Balancing Tool:

Eliminate dual principal at RBHS. Yes, I agree but I also say cut the second principal at Bryant and replace with a less costly vice-principal and/or head teacher. Cost savings - between $50-75k. Why this can't be done is a mystery that needs daylighting.

Eliminate Summer School - I strongly disagree with this one at $200-400k. It seems to fly in the face of all reason AND lowers the supports for struggling students.

Reduce Custodial Support and look at outsourcing - One, the district is already at every third day. Most districts try for every other day. If it goes lower to every fourth day, you'll notice it. Two, I think this unacceptable for elementary schools. Three Staff could not answer the Board's query on whether this would be for the entire school OR just the public areas. (Meaning clean the bathrooms and halls/lobby and not the classrooms.) As for outsourcing, well, we do negotiate with a union so I would suspect they might have something to say.

Transportation Changes - between $3M-4M but I have no idea what this would mean. Dorothy, was there discussion on this I missed? It was high on the budget survey list of acceptable cuts.

Across the Board Non-Instructional Furlough - $1.3M - $4M. I concur with this one as many other governmental agencies have done this to save money. The range may be for 1-2 days.

Eliminate Medical Retiree Subsidy - $3.8M. That's a lot of money but I'm not sure what this means to those involved. I have a call in to figure it out.

Reduce WSS by K-4 revenue loss amount - $5.2-$6.8 - The most obvious hit to schools. This is a moving target as we don't know what the state funding will be. Again, we need to cut as much from every other non-school area before we get here.

Eliminate 1x1.0 full day K in WSS - If this happens, it is likely that Pay for K tuition could go up next year (it is currently $207 a month). This would be a hardship for many families who are not free/reduced lunch.

Reductions in Strategic Plan and Budget Review - $500k - $1M. Have I already covered this in the Strategic Planning Tool? It's hard to say what has overlapped here but yes, I support this cut.

I would support cutting/reducing funding for athletics even if the Board doesn't. I know that it helps kids stay in school BUT the core mission in our district is academics. There are rec leagues and intramural sports to hold kids over a couple of years.


Greg said...

This is interesting, Melissa, thanks for doing it.

One thing I'm confused about is the central reductions. If central is cut by 33-50%, bringing administrative overhead down or slightly below the norm of 6% of budget and making our percentage of budget allocated for teaching (currently only 58%, Bellevue is 67%) closer in alignment with other districts, what would the savings be?

You said that the district proposed central office cuts of $6-12M, but I assume that is nowhere near a cut of 33-50% of administration.

If the school board forced a cut on the scale of Baltimore schools, if they pushed all decision making down to the principals and changed the role of central to supporting individual schools, if they put our budgets for administration down and teaching up in line with other districts, what would be the savings in dollar terms? Would that alone cover most of the gap? And, if so, shouldn't we do that first?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Greg, you ask some interesting questions and boy, I wish I had the numbers to answer them.

If the district did what Michelle Rhee did in D.C. with Central adm and apparently, what Baltimore, did, I'm pretty sure it would cover the gap (not alone but a big chunk of it).

That is one thing that MGJ is out of alignment with the national ed reform - her bloated adm which is NOT what is happening elsewhere.

Greg said...

Ah, my apologies, my answer appears to be here:


That document seems to indicate that a 33-50% cut in central administration would be $16-24M. So, it appears my answer is that a cut that brought central administration in line with other districts, down or below about 6% of budget, could eliminate more than half of the budget gap. That seems like the obvious place to start.

Also worth noting that, because teaching is such a small percentage of the budget, the district would only have to do a cut of 16% in all other areas to cover the $36M gap. If they started with a 50% cut to central administration, they would only have to do a 7% cut in the other areas to be able to do a 0% cut to teaching. That is, they could cut administration deeply and completely spare teaching if they wanted to.

Again, seems like the obvious way the budget should be prioritized, cutting deep in what is clearly excessive administrative overhead compared to other districts and sparing the core point of the district's budget, which should be teaching.

Greg said...

Sorry, just one other thing. If they did cut central admin by 50%, teaching by 0%, and the remaining budget areas (mostly support) by 7%, then central admin finally would be at or slightly below the norm for other districts, but teaching would still be be less than Bellevue (Seattle would go up to 63% of budget for teaching from its current of 58%, compared to Bellevue's 67%).

That just shows how far out of whack Seattle has gotten in terms of overhead compared to neighboring districts. We could take this entire budget shortfall, all $36M, out of admin and support (mostly out of admin) and still be below our neighboring districts in terms of the percentage of our budget directed to teaching.

So why don't we do that?

Anonymous said...

I recommend we cut all special education supervisors, the extra special education director, the special education coaches, and 50% of special education consulting teachers. That would leave Marni Campbell with 7 consulting teachers. Shouldn't that be plenty?

Estimated savings: $1.7 million. Not bad, and 100% waste.

sped parent

wsnorth said...

From the budget powerpoint:

"The state cut funding to the district by $32 M in the last two years, and we face a $36.6 million

1) Doesn't the special levy we just passed more than make up for this? Where did that money go?
2) Does this imply they should have been doing something about this for the last two years? Did someone just wake up and find there was $32 million missing?

I don't doubt there is a problem, but - as usual - has the district just been waiting for it to reach crisis proportions before doing something about it?

dan dempsey said...

Budget Recommendations...
Three thoughts:

#1. Teaching is certainly not a static profession. In my teaching career I read research journals, professional publications and read studies and examined data.. I learned essentially zero from school inservice days and most professional development in math was offered usually by those who knew little math; and pushed an ideology. Ditch all math coaches. Buy materials that both teachers and students could learn math from instead of continuing coaching and professional development nonsense that attempt to make crap instructional materials successful. Note the UW professional development in math has been an absolute disaster.

#2. The March 8, 2011 appeals court hearing will probably confirm Judge Spector's ruling that the $1.2 million Discovering adoption was arbitrary and capricious and send it back to the Board for reconsideration using all the evidence. Is the Board planning to fix this disaster? (At what cost and how?)

#3. Big Savings: Fire the Superintendent with cause for Felony Forgery and replace her with a less expensive superintendent that is actually competent unlike MGJ.

dan dempsey said...

It was written...
"Eliminate Summer School - I strongly disagree with this one at $200-400k. It seems to fly in the face of all reason AND lowers the supports for struggling students.

The Governor has no interest in the support of struggling students. She recommends spending $187 million for more administration.

Perhaps MGJ should run for Governor in 2014. Would not the Gates Foundation financially support her candidacy?

zb said...

Melissa -- what's the bottom line on the numbers you support? What do they add up to?

I'm very sympathetic to these concerns about central administration and coaches. My suspicion is some coaches are doing administrative/support work that could be done by non-teachers, for example.

However, I think that we're fooling ourselves if we think that *all* of support (i.e. non-classroom teachers) aren't doing anything, or that they're doing things that don't directly support the classroom. Here's an example that came up in another school district: they cut the folks who worked in the lunchroom as supervisors (some form of paraprofessionals, who were inexpensive, and not part of the teaching budget). Result: the teachers had to take over the staffing of the lunch room, which in turn, meant that they lost planning hours (and, sometimes their lunch).

I'm not a teacher, but I know that if I were with 2nd graders all day, that an hour (or even 30 minutes) without 25 kids demanding my attention would be a vital need.

I think that we should ask everyone what they do, and how they spend their time, and use that information to decide whether that position is a worthwhile investment. But, I think it's dangerous to base that decision on titles (like "coaches"). There might be some coaches who do work that we'd like to cut, but there might be others who don't. I think we've heard from some parents that coaches in their building function as floating teachers, working with different students and classrooms as needed. That might be an OK use of teaching resources, and might even be more necessary as class sizes become bigger. Say, for example, we no longer have funding to have 2 18 student classes and have to combine them into a 36 student class (and yes, that's going to happen, I imagine). The coach might be able to provide support for 2-3 of these classes.

So my solution is to have some kind of evaluation of the work being done by central administration/coach other non-teaching staff.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't see the option of ending support for a sixth period in high schools. The state only funds five periods in high school just as the state only funds a half-day kindergarten. If we're going to cut the District-funded support for full day kindergarten, then why isn't cutting the District-funded support for the sixth period on the menu?

Whether it is cut or not, it should be on the menu.

anonymous said...

Sure put it on the menu, but seriously, a 5 period day in high school? When some other districts and many private schools have 7 periods. Doesn't seem like an option to me.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sped, there's an extra Special Ed director? Who is that? Also, I'm thinking you would want to redirect some of that money to direct services?

WS North, well, they are spending the supplemental levy on other things BUT yes, we should advocate for a hold on those things that can be held so we can close this gap.

ZB, you are probably right about across-the-board cuts of coaches. BUT

"So my solution is to have some kind of evaluation of the work being done by central administration/coach other non-teaching staff."

I know staff would tell the Board there is no time to do such an evaluation of who is doing what. We didn't have these coaches 3 years ago for the most part (except for reading and math). So cut back the curriculum and data coaches.

Maureen said...

I was wondering about the HS day as well. Pay for K cost will be increasing for next year from $2070 per year to something unknown right now. Why can't they charge HS parents for the sixth period as well? If kids sub Running Start or an online course they don't have to pay the District (and FRL free of course.) Heck, maybe they should charge for specific classes. Can you imagine what some parents would pay for music at Garfield or drama at Roosevelt?

I'm sort of kidding about that, but I do wonder why paying for 6th period is not on the table. Could it be because kindergarten is not required in WA? Well, neither is anything after a kid turns 16, right? So let's charge $2000+ per year for 17 and 18 years olds. If we don't think early learning is worth covering, why do we care about graduation rates?

Greg said...

zb, where else would you propose the cuts come from? Teaching? If you want to cut teaching rather than administration, is your justification really going to be that cutting teaching is necessary to avoid the impact of cuts to administration and support on the teachers?

Right now, Seattle spends much more on admin (9% vs. 6%) and much less on teaching (58% vs. 67%) compared to other districts. I think it is completely reasonable to expect our district to allocate similar amounts on admin, support, and teaching as other districts.

We can solve the entire budget gap, all $36M, by correcting this imbalance. Without any cuts to teaching, with deep cuts to administration and smaller cuts to support, we can cut $36M from the budget. Yes, it will require changes. It would require giving individual schools authority to decide how time and money will be used, hire and fire their own staff, tailor professional development to their needs, and develop their programs. It would require shifting central administration from enforcing top-down compliance to providing support for the decisions made by each school.

When you look at how our district spends its money, when you compare to other districts, when you see the obvious imbalance, then it becomes clear that deep cuts to administration is the right way to solve our budget gap.

ParentofThree said...

If memory serves me, don't we have to pony up again for the Everyday Math consumables? I know we had one "free" year, which I believe was last year and now we need in the neighborhood of $300 - $500K this spring. I also recall the board being quiet surprised at this cost when it hit the agenda. Is it reflected anywhere in the budget?

I also have to wonder how those CMP booklets are holding up?

anonymous said...

"Why can't they charge HS parents for the sixth period as well? If kids sub Running Start or an online course they don't have to pay the District (and FRL free of course.) Heck, maybe they should charge for specific classes."

This is just going way to far maureen. Many of us are not FRL, we are lower middle class working families, skirting by, pay check to pay check. We have to put off going to the doctor and dentist sometimes, we can't afford to pay for a 6th period day, we can't afford $2007 for pay for K, we can't afford to pay for transportation. We do pay our fair share of taxes though, and education is our constitutional right. It should not be based on how much "extra" we can pay. Look, if you want to cut out the 6th period, fine, but damn all kids, not just the middle class, who will be the only ones who won't be able to pay for it.

southmom said...

CUT the support for IB at RB? Please, say you're kidding. Once again, something gets started in the southend to help a school and you want to CUT it? Is there ever an initiative that can be completed? If parents eying the program now sees it cut, they will not go there.

Maureen said...

Guppy, of course you're right. I really need a sarcastic font for some of my posts. My point is that if they think it's ok to charge for K, which I think is criminal given how much is being spent on administration, why is the HS day off the table? The rationale for Pay for K is that the state doesn't cover it. Well, the state doesn't cover 6th period either, let alone 7th.

(We would have had to pull our first kid out of full day K if the current fees had applied in 1999. I really wonder what price the schools are paying in terms of goodwill and volunteer hours when they have to charge for K.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Didn't say cut the IB program at RBHS; I said suspend the work for a year AND I offered an idea of how to keeping progress going anyway.

Maureen, tell me when you figure out that sarcastic font (it might be helpful at times.)

Central Mom said...

Note that cuts to athletics aren't out of the questions...they are just out of the question for this year. The board appears interested in shifting the costs of administering some? all? of the program to a non-profit working in tandem with the district.

But this sort of change has enough operational work that it cannot be done for this budget cycle. Next budget cycle? Quite possibly.

Dorothy Neville said...

Academic assurances are critical for the NSAP. It's not just PD for teachers and it is a seed of an expense, not an ongoing one.

It's to address the inequity of music programs by jump starting some orchestral programs. So it provides string coaches (for the kids) to schools that only have a band director, someone without experience teaching string instruments. Delaying this directly affects kids and breaks promises of the NSAP.

A little less than half the $432K is for instrument purchases. Perhaps we could start smaller and only purchase half as many instruments at first. And I know Kay is interested in getting private donations going for that part.

Once enough kids at a school are in orchestra, the WSS will provide a teacher. And the kids and their parents will pay for (or fundraise for) section coaches. RHS Orchestra charges students for the hiring of section coaches. Because there are so many kids, it's not onerous and if parents cannot afford it they are not penalized. I think it was 20 or 40 dollars a semester.

Keep in mind that string coaches, section coaches are the old fashioned use of the word coach -- someone who coaches kids. Not like the academic coaches that work only with teachers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Central Mom, I hadn't heard that about athletics being shifted to a non-profit. Can you tell us where you saw/heard that?

Dorothy, I am all for reductions rather than cuts. I'm just trying to figure out where to find enough of them.

Charlie Mas said...

The district can fund six periods a day for freshmen, sophomores, and students re-taking classes to recover credit. Juniors and seniors can be scheduled for five classes a day and be expected to take at least one Running Start class to complete their schedule.

This will go the Federal Way district one better. They are automatically enrolling students in AP, but we will enroll them in real college classes.

Anonymous said...

Sarcasm indicator


Mr Ed

Marion said...

I love it - we can't afford to provide a complete day of education to our teenagers so let's just move them on to college - ready or not...

Anonymous said...

Running start classes aren't free. When a student does running start, the district has to pay the community college. Also, state attendence laws make attendence complusory from 8-18.


Anonymous said...

I'm all for looking at all of the options and everyone here knows a great deal more than I do, but in some cases, I'm concerned that taking away staff or programs from one area will just put the cost in another.

For example, if central administration is reduced and the schools need to take on more, won't they need additional staff at the school? (Although, one can assume at possibly a lower salary.)

And if high school students all took running start classes, isn't there a cost for that somewhere?

It would be useful to see if districts with smaller centrals staffs have more administration at the school level.

- curious

Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, that's not something the staff put out in those stats so I can't say for sure. What I do know is some work that is being done at the central level would just stop but likely not affect the schools in a noticeable way. Some might be and yes, at the schools, some might have to do more.

There is no way around what we are facing down. I'm looking into how much parents might be allowed to do to help. I am TOTALLY against the reduction in custodial work. We are the ONLY district in the state currently doing every 3rd day. Bellevue does it every day. But maybe if we steady state at every third day, perhaps there can be a 10 minute "pick up around your desk" or during recess clean-up time.

Honestly, I think this will only be this bad for a year or so. Reductions, suspensions or on hold programs won't have to go away; they may just have to wait.

Central Mom said...

Melissa, Check back in with a board member re: specifics on the long-term idea of moving some? all? athletics mgmt. costs onto a 3rd party. I believe it was the same group that already does a lot of the op-rec organization in the city. I think they are in the exploratory phase, but they appear serious about that exploration. Again, not for 2011-12 implementation.

Meg said...

Keep in mind that teaching is no longer just direct instruction - around $10M of costs charged to teaching are for professional development coaches.

zb - I think you're right that there may be some unintended consequences to schools and students as a result of cuts. But there is literally almost no way to slice the data and find that SPS central administration is in line with other districts. SPS has a larger administrative spend per student than other districts, a larger administrative percentage budget than other districts, a much higher compound annual growth rate in administration than other districts.... and on.

And what's strange about this overgrown administration is that it is not helping schools deliver a better education than other districts, or making sure that SPS is in total compliance. The recent audit report was the worst for any district in the state of Washington, ever, and it's for a district that has the economies of scale to be able to have specialists for issues, specialists that smaller districts (with many of the same issues with a hugely diverse student body) can't afford. And yet those districts have managed compliance and efficiency where SPS has not.

Which makes me ask: if SPS is already out of compliance on numerous fronts, botching alignment efforts, messing up enrollment projections and staffing adjustments... how much do we have to lose by making deep cuts to Central Administration? I'm sure there are places where it would really be felt by students - but I am talking about administration, not district-wide costs (transportation, maintenance, custodial, nurses, OT/PTs, speech therapists and other staff whose work is a district-wide cost, not an administrative cost).

So what do people here perceive as necessary parts of Central Administration and why?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Someone asked and I tried to total up what the cuts I suggest add up to and I come up with - roughly - $25M.

I have no idea how many "coaches" there are out there so when I say "cut half", I don't have a number.

Kathy said...

Here is my problem.

Over the past couple of years, the state has been cutting funds to SPS. At the same time, the district spent money and time creating an even bigger bureaucracy to institute controversial and ineffective ed. reform initiatives.

The district also entered into contractual agreements with SEA... The district contracted with 1600 teachers to provide mentor pay, career ladder stipends etc. I can't imagine the district having an actual number on this project.

These expenditures are non-sustainable.

The district is firing people at the same time they are handing out raises. Does this make sense?

The district proposes cutting up to $6M from the WSS. Loss of $6M from our classrooms would be a disaster. The district also considers continued cutting of WSS an option!

Meg said...

My estimate is 80-100+ coaches, based on numbers from the exec director of finance, the CFOO and recent district numbers showing how many FTEs got pulled from Supervision of Instruction (and how many got added to teaching).

29 have assignments to the Stanford center (a couple of these folks may be on leave, but I'm not sure). The bulk of those are in Instructional Services. Coaches that work in schools are assigned to schools.

SPS receives somewhere in the neighborhood of $14M in Title I money, and 10% of that money must be used for professional development. Cathy Thompson, at the 1/26 budget workshop, stated that the professional development must be IN schools receiving Title I money. SPS budgets around $95K for a full-time coach (fully loaded cost). SPS could do other types of professional development with the ~$1.4M of Title I money that must be spent on PD, but if coaching is their choice, they've fulfilled their Title spending duties at about 16 coaches.

Ms. Thompson also said that some coaches are funded with Title II, which can be used for class size reduction.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kathy makes a good point. What other government entity gave out raises this year across a wide swath of employees? SPS to both teachers and principals. Now it is interesting that SPS put the teachers' raises into the levy (which could have failed and then "sorry, no raise") but they didn't do that to the principals (even though they knew that when they finally approved a contract, principals would get a raise).

By March or so, when we know what the Legislature is going to do and it's bad, people might want to think about organizing around using the supplemental levy to help WSS. The money can be used for anything (except for the part for teachers' raises which is a contractual obligation).

Maureen said...

Ok, so Title II can be used for class size reduction (how much $ is that?) and $(14M-1.4M)= $12.6M of Title I can be spent on something other than professional development. Right now we have something like 80+ 'coaches' on grant spending, which is likely to be Title I or II. At $95K per coach, that is $7,600,000.

Let's free that up for 'class size reduction' (which this month means 27 in kindergarten instead of 30) and maybe even more class size reduction in Title I schools (so poor kids 'only' have to have 25 kids in their classrooms).

My point is that Title money could go to support WSS if professional development coaches were cut (even those 'on grant' not paid from general funds.)

What am I missing Meg?

Kathy said...


If I remember correctly, teacher raises amounted to about $4M.

zb said...

"So what do people here perceive as necessary parts of Central Administration and why?"

I really don't know the answer to this question, and if I'd be asking someone, it would be the teachers. The kinds of things I imagine being classified as "coaches" or "support" or "administration" that actually help the kids in the classroom are things that teachers should know about, because they help them. Coaches who actually teach them useful instructional approaches (with new materials or with a group of students), for example, Principals and support staff who are go-to people for getting things done.

I do agree that there's been an expansion of administration to support "reform." I'm not sure that this is altogether a bad thing in the long run (for example, a research unit examining data on learning and interventions that have been taken, non-teaching, but might help in the long run). But, even though I believe that in the long run, I think we're dealing with short term here, and need to suspend those initiatives, when they mean that we're loosing more direct work in the classroom.

It's a tough call (do help the patients with cancer now, or do you do cancer research). Sometimes I support the long term initiative, but not right now, for a variety of reasons.

Anonymous said...

Yes Melissa, special education has 2 directors. Marni Campbell, the executive director and Becky Clifford, the director. Couldn't we scrape by with just 1? Which one to keep? Nobody cares. They are both bad. I'd suggest keeping the cheapest director level position in the interest of cost savings.

sped parent

Greg said...

zb, the problem is that something has to be cut. The question isn't whether cutting admin has an impact on teaching. The question is whether cutting admin has less of an impact on teaching than cutting teaching.

So, if are going to argue that cutting admin might make more work for teachers, you need to ask whether cuts elsewhere would be worse. Do you disagree that cutting teachers would be worse for teachers, the kids, and the classrooms than cutting central admin?

Right now, the superintendent is proposing a cut of $6-12M in central administration, but that leaves central admin still much larger than other districts (7-8% of budget compared to the norm of 6%). In this budget crisis, when cuts otherwise will have to come out of the classrooms, a much steeper cut is warranted. Central admin should cut at least down to the norm of 6% of budget, ideally below, and the savings used to prevent cuts in the classroom.

Jan said...

Melissa: why don't we just cut ALL the coaches? Just "zero out" that entire line item.

ALL of our teachers (at least the current, pre-TFA ones) have college degrees AND teaching degrees. Many have now taught for several years, vastly upping their knowledge base.Presumably, NONE of them should need to be "coached." Arguably, it would be nice to have coaches around for teachers in their first year, but they have been through student teaching. And there are olders teachers in each school who can mentor. These folks are professionals. Many are true "artists" at their trade. We should let them teach -- and work out support structures within each school to make the overall "team" better. Why is this a bad idea? What am I missing?

Meg said...

Maureen - the rule of thumb with Title I money is "supplement, not supplant." So if you used it to pay for WSS stuff, like, say... a 2nd grade teacher you would have anyway, then you would be supplanting, not supplementing.

Title money is supposed to bring aids and teaching to the students that they wouldn't otherwise get.

However, if you went with the bare minimum Title I requirements on PD (and I don't know what the contractual professional development obligations come to in the agreement with the SEA), you could, for instance, have a grade school math teacher, which a school wouldn't otherwise have. Or a full-time counselor, which the school wouldn't otherwise have. Or... something else in the way of direct teaching to students that the school would not otherwise have.

Did that answer your question, or did I kind of miss what you were asking?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jan, I think there needs to be a balance but what you are saying is true.

We need coaches because the math is new and possibly the LA and science. I see the point of having someone to ask questions to. BUT, do we need someone to help teachers every day? I have to wonder. Why we need data coaches, I don't know.

I suggested cutting the number of coaches in half. I really think this would save money AND still allow teachers to ask for help if they need it. That the coaches are there for the teachers and NOT the students is something to keep in mind.

Bird said...

Are math and reading "specialists" at elementary schools coaches? Or are they some other position?

Anonymous said...

Math and Reading Specialists.

At our elementary they help students below grade level with 1:1 or small group instruction. A supplement or 'double dip' as one teacher phrased it, to help those that need a little more practice before mastery.

Don't know if this is the norm at other schools.

StepJ -- as Google sign-in is not working.

Maureen said...

Meg, what about class size reduction? Is that a legitimate usage of Title money? If a class would have had 30 kids and can be reduced to 25, would that count as supplementing?

Why we need data coaches, I don't know.

At our school, one of the data coach's job was to tell our Asst. Principal that the appropriate goal for our CSIP was to increase every grade's MAP scores 10% in every subject.

We used to have a 'math coach' who worked with the little kids who were behind on basic math facts. We paid her out of fundraising and building discretionary funds. We couldn't afford to keep her last year. This year SPS sent a "literacy coach" to talk with our MS teachers about nonfiction reading skills (All of our MS teachers have at least 10 years of experience and 86% of the current 8th graders passed the reading WASL last year, 91% passed writing.)

Meg said...

Maureen - Title I money can't be used to reduce class size.

Title II can, and at last night's budget meeting, a staffer (Cathy Thompson, maybe?) said that Title II funds about 30 school-based coaches. SPS budgets ~$95K per full-time coach, so SPS has around $3M in Title II that could be used to reduce class size at some schools.

I would imagine that Title II has some of the same "supplement, not supplant" rules that Title I and LAP have, so although it would be a way to add staff at buildings that need it, it can't be used as a WSS funding patches.

Why did the district send you all a literacy coach?

Maureen said...

Why did the district send you all a literacy coach?

That is unclear to me.

Unknown said...

Please note that maintenance upper management takes no cuts and zero pay reductions. They want to reduce the maintenance administration staff and the maintenance trades staff. This means little to no maintenance will be done to the school buildings; however, management will suffer no cuts while the tax payers buildings disintegrate.

nikki said...

According to the Executive Director of the N.E. sector of schools there will probably be cuts in Custodial and Security as well.