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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

This May Be the Line in the Sand

Several of us have seen advance notice of what Central Administration cuts lead staff is going to present to the Board this afternoon/evening at the Board Work Session on the budget.

What I saw almost borders on the ridiculous. There are, to the naked eye, almost no coaching cuts. There are also no senior level cuts (and that's where we would save money).

It is also confusing what they suggested and what got saved.

Example: 10 people work in Child Nutrition Services - no cuts. Enrollment/Planning has 6.5; they would cut 2.3.

Example of total elimination of work: cut all from the following: International Education (.5), Mail Services (1), Native American Education (.07), Native American (1), Risk Management (.9).

Example: Systemic Interventions - sounds like an important thing to fund - it would go from 7 people down to 2.5. But Visual/Perf Arts, at 8, would go down just one position. How are interventions less important than arts?

Biggest hit? 36 of 90 positions in Maintenance with the notation - "Maintenance will be limited to emergency incidents only." Frankly, at the point maintenance is, I'm not sure anyone would notice.

Coupled with these ideas for cuts are explanations of what it might mean and guess what? They ALL seem pretty dire. There's even language in there about not being able to be compliant with state regs or be able to provide an audit trail. Not going to fly. Part of the job of any government entity is following the regs.

After looking at it, I wrote to the Board about my suggestions about shaping the budget but here's what I had to say on what I saw in this staff list:

Either you stand up to the Superintendent and REALLY tell her no, the Strategic Plan has got to slow down, have some things suspended, whatever. These cuts do NOT reflect that understanding. I don't know if she thinks she can snow you or if you won't notice or, worst of all, if you will give in.

Please, go to the Supplemental Levy funds if you must. But please, stand up for what you know is right.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

They don't comply with state regs anyway.

grumpy

Greg said...

Melissa, did you see what the total size of the cuts are to central administration? Is central administration down to the norm of 6% of budge (from the current 9%)? Or are most of the cuts coming from teaching and support?

ParentofThree said...

Thank you so much for your continued efforts on this budget!

I am so sad/angry at how this district has been weakened under MGJ and this board. Granted, we had problems, but I feel that so much of our foundation, built with parent/teacher/staff work, has been compromised, eliminated.

I keep hearing about teacher morale at an all time low. In all my years I have never heard this before.

So many great program and schools are gone. $50 million spent on opening schools....

They knew that there was a budget shortfall coming last year and that is when the brakes should have been put on this stratigic plan that has not improved the quality of our children's education.

Here we are again, MGJ's staff has grown, again.

That Stratigic Plan is just one big white elephant in the room.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, try that post again with some sort of a handle/moniker/name. I saw a slightly different document than the one you posted.

Greg, the total looked like 108 positions but this is in Central Administration, not teaching and support. Those will come later. I haven't had time to figure out where this would leave us percentage-wise.

I'm going to the Work Session and let's see what can be found out there.

cascade said...

Did staff finally provide a list of central employees by job title or staff function and by funding type as part of the analysis? If so, great. If not, how the hell is the board supposed to analyze the proposals in context of the overall organization?

Wish I could be there today.

Anonymous said...

This is the link the Anonymous posted earlier. I am re posting in case he/she does not come back.

- altmama

http://www.scribd.com/doc/48516245/Core-Services-Reduction-Exercise-Non-Grant-Non-School-Based-FTE

Anonymous said...

Better version and live link here

Julian A.

Meg said...

I sat down with an OSPI F-195 report so I could remember what gets billed where, and then compared that to the list of proposed cuts. I looked at departments/cuts and assigned them to major OSPI spending categories. There are a couple cuts/departments that I expensed to categories that I'm not positive about (and without more detail, it's hard to be confident), but I'm reasonably confident.

The five major OSPI categories are as follows:

Teaching
Teaching Support
Other Support
Building Administration (Principals and front offices at schools)
Central Administration

This is how the cuts break out. Keep in mind that this is an estimate based on fairly limited information.

Cuts to Other Support: -76.1

These cuts encompass the following departments: maintenance, custodial, utilities, DoTS - which on OSPI is "Information Systems" the number of stated employees maps pretty directly to the OSPI F-195 report on 10-11 FTEs, grounds, maintenance services, purchasing, safety/security and warehouse.

Cuts to Teaching Support: -8.7

I'm a little less confident of my categorizing of these departments, which are: Systemic Interventions (this looks like an actual school cut for Interagency, Middle College and South Lake), Student Health Services, Health and Safety, Athletics.

Cuts to Central Administration:
-21.8

The departments with cuts are: Advanced Learning, Archives, ELL, Enrollment/Planning, Facilities Administration, Facilities Planning, Grant Services, HR, Instructional Services, Intl Education, Literacy, Payroll, Research Evaluation and Assessment, Science, Special Education, Visual/Perf Arts. 6 of those departments have cuts at .5 or less.

I don't have precise positions for any of the cuts, so I don't know the precise savings, but if you use $100K per fully-loaded FTE as a rule of thumb, it looks like cuts to Central Administration will come in around $2.2M.

I do not think that SPS is down to Central Administration running at 6%.

Parent of 3 - yes, the $50M to open 3 schools less than a calendar year after schools were closed is more than a little galling and frustrating, but keep in mind that the bulk of that money came out of the Capital Budget, not the Operating Budget.

Meg said...

I think maintenance was slated for 54 cuts, by the way.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I were seriously thinking about looking at SPS again this year for our child—a 10th grader at an exceptional, but costly, private school. Money is tight and it would have been nice to save for college.

However, with the direction the Super is taking the district, and the constant shell game she plays with funds—coupled with a loss of terrific programs and low teacher morale—we cannot do it.

Looks like another year with no vacation, and that big hole in the kitchen floor (bad dog) has got to stay for a while. SIGH.

I am so tired of writing letters to the Board and commenting on other blogs to try and wake up the people of Seattle. If the Egyptians can overthrow Mubarak, why can't we get rid of MGJ? Nobody's restricting OUR internet use!

SolvayGirl
(Google is acting up—maybe they ARE trying to restrict our internet!!!)

KG said...

Back in the mid 1990s the Seattle School District raised the wages of all administrative pesonnel when the state allocated no funds for this. The District at the time also spent about $150.00 more pupil than any other District in the state to administer education. This was numbers given to the OSPI by the Seattle Schools. This also relatesto the over burdensome staffing in central administration that there is today. These before-mentioned raises in a time where money was not allocated is also part of the short fall that we enjoy every year or two. Maybe Mr. Kennedy could learn a lesson here?
LOL

dan dempsey said...

This thinking that Education needs vast numbers of administrators and decision makers outside the classrooms and away from the schools is insane.

I would like to point out that The Gov,, OSPI, SBE, WEA, LEV are all very much in favor of this trend. When I say WEA, I refer to WEA leadership.

All of these testified in favor of HB 1443, which will spend if enacted $187 million on adopting the Common Core State Standards for WA State.

Not a dime of this will help struggling students or go to schools.

The Gov's one day session in December took $208 million federal dollars headed to school districts to provide assistance to districts to primarily help with recessionary impacts on staffing. Yes Seattle had a chunk of that $208 million that went bye bye.

It went into the State general fund... and now HB 1443 proposes to spend 187 million on more administration and direction and requirements from Administrative experts.

MGJ is just following the administrative crowd.

Watch for more classic BS from Sundquist.

On my blog at:
The Math Underground

SadandAngry said...

One of the issues I remember back in the days when we were asked to rebuild the schools that were in dire need of repair was that students require well kept buildings to show them that learning is important. Now we have schools like Roosevelt where in a new building there are many necessary repairs and we can't pay the upkeep on a facility we just rebuilt.

Students are taken out of class on community day to pull dandelions and can't use the library because it is in use as a classroom. Teachers show Star Trek reruns on early release days (valuable content?) and Running Start is all we have to offer the students that want something more.

I agree with SolvayGirl - where can we gather to say it's time for a change?

Cap'n Billy Keg said...

My “two cents”:

From the district: “No in-house video production or broadcast service - must contract services as needed; School board meetings would no longer be televised. Would lose TV studio as a means to deliver professional development. Also lose the production services provided by this FTE.

First off, to “contract services as needed” for taping school board meetings would not be a money saver... Second, without video taping of such meetings, “transparency” would be severely compromised...

dan dempsey said...

The Videos of the School Board meeting serve as the required public record. So what would replace them?

seattle citizen said...

Dan, maybe they'll contract with FOX to broadcast the meetings...

seattle citizen said...

Or wait, NBC - isn't NBC in the pocket of the reform crowd? What with that "education week" advertisement of "Waiting for Superman" and all...I can see it now: "We bring you Reform in Action, every other Wednesday night on NBC! See the dynamic innovations of innovative dynamos, reforming singlehandedly! Live! Every other Wednesday at 6:00! This show brought to you by the generous contributions of the Gates and Broad Fonudations."

parent and emp said...

I haven't seen any cuts listed for Risk Management so I'm surprised to see you list them as being eliminated. I know of at least three people in that department, although the Administration only lists .9. From what I've seen they of the work produced there things would improve if they eliminated the whole department.

concerned said...

It appears they are listing all custodians (266 employees listed) as Central Administration but not all Nutrition Services (10 employees listed). I know the lunch lady at my sons school. She is one of the hardest working people I know. The 10 listed in Nutrition Services must all be supervisors. Seems they can start by cutting there.

Meg said...

an updated list was handed out at the budget workshop, so my numbers are off. I'm recalibrating - it looks like the basic proportions are still the same with some changes in numbers.

And the handout at the board meeting went through the different reduction levels and the staff recommendation.

dan dempsey said...

I think Solvay Girl has it 100% correct.

It is time to organize local face to face community information meetings. The line in the sand needs to be drawn with actual bodies at meetings.

What is happening tomorrow evening at 6:30 at the meeting organized by the CityClub?

dan dempsey said...

Is anyone planning on reserving library space for a meeting?

Chris S. said...

Dan, I'm going. Will make myself sit thru it. Feel free to email me a leaflet.

parent and emp said...

Fact is that there has been no cuts proposed in real administration positions and severe cuts in service positions. Why do we have a Director of School Services and a Director of Facilities anyway?

concerned said...

If they'd let the custodians do the repairs needed, that they can handle, then the District will be fine with those maintenance cuts.

dan dempsey said...

If they would let the teachers teach will proven instructional materials, we would be fine with a skeleton crew of upper level administration.

Anonymous said...

Remember when lee iacoca took $1.00 for his salary? It's REAL wishful thinking that MGJ would do that for one year considering all she's been gifted by the board and district!!!

GreyWatch said...

Our kids were in private school for 4 years. Tuition was more than parochial schools, but less than some others so we were able to make it work.

The school tried to keep tuition low, but that also meant parents did a lot of the school upkeep, cleaning and maintenance -- everything from fixing the plumbing to building playgrounds. I'm talking hands on work, not fundraising to pay someone to do this stuff.

This works great when you have parents with the ability, time and inclination to do this, and it also helps foster a sense of community, ownership, family, etc.

I'm not sure its an appropriate model for public schools (they shouldn't be let off the hook for this stuff), but it would be nice if the smaller ongoing maintenance issues could be addressed in a timely manner if the community had resources. Not sure I'd want the norm to be parents working on the weekends to paint the school. Is there a happy medium?

Anonymous said...

I know someone who works in the arts in SPS so I was interested in his take on the example Melissa made regarding that department in her post.

He said that grand majority of the positions that make up that department are actually music teachers who have no home school. So they show up as central employees. So making big cuts to that staff would mean more teachers would be cut, not admin.

I am not sure what Systemic Interventions is, but I am guessing they have bigger cuts because they probably don't have people in the department who are actually in the classroom.

-Drummer's Dad

anonymous said...

"Remember when lee iacoca took $1.00 for his salary? It's REAL wishful thinking that MGJ would do that for one year considering all she's been gifted by the board and district!!!"

I wouldn't expect her to take $1, but I think she could take a pay cut of say, $50,000 for the year, and give up her company car. That would be more than reasonable.

Anonymous said...

When we were in our neighborhood public elementary, the parents did a lot. We weeded the grounds at least twice a year. We raised funds for and built an incredible playground which we then kept clean and neat. After we left, I saw that new parents painted some interior parts of the school and started a serous garden with a greenhouse.

In our private MS, the kids had a special time once a week to help keep the school clean—emptying trash, vacuuming classrooms, etc. Parents helped create a native plant garden and watered to maintain new plantings over the summer, etc.

In our private HS, my daughter has a "class" called Environment. Each "class" has a specific janitorial task assigned to them—everything from cleaning bathrooms to picking up trash outside around the school. It helps them take pride in the school and keep it clean. It does not, unfortunately, transfer to their rooms at home.

I might also add that BOTH schools had small but effective administrations. Our hefty tuition goes to pay incredible teachers.

Now I'm off the blog to write up a Parent Rep report for tomorrow am. The school actually wants to know what parents and students think (both good and bad), so once a Quint a team of parent reps put out a call for comments. Those comments are then compiled by one person per grade level who then makes a report at a staff meeting. All comments are submitted anonymously, so parents have the opportunity to really rant if they need to.

At this meeting, the staff actually listens, and discusses what can be done to resolve any particular issue, etc. They follow up on past issues and how they were resolved. It is quite refreshing and how a school should treat its families, ie customers.

SolvayGirl

Chris S. said...

I've been thinking the entire exec. team, especially if the entire 15.whatever persists, should take at least a 10% pay cut. I don't suppose that's what they mean by "support for displaced employees."

Anonymous said...

Now watch, the Families and Education Levy they'll try to stick us with will not replace counselors or music, put will be used to fund...wait for it...the Strategic Plan!

(gagging on vomit sounds)

grumpy

Anonymous said...

At some point we all have to stop being "Seattle nice" and demand our schools back.

Reading this blog and seeing how small bits and pieces of us, our children and our teachers are being eaten away at by our superintendent and her agenda, I believe that action beyond preaching to the choir needs to happen.

By that I mean protests by parents at the board meetings, demanding that the school board members start to pay attention to us or be replaced, seriously, filing suits against individual school board members, contacting KUOW and demanding equal time on weekday programs like The Conversation and Weekday,telling our state representatives that it is our way or the highway with all of this ed reform b.s. that the Republicans in our state are trying to pass hand in hand with Gates backed "organizations" and our Washington state PTA which at this point has nothing to do with what is best for our children but rather what is best for their political gain.

Yes, private school is a nice option but not something that most parents can consider. To keep our schools and make them better, we will need to roll up our shirt sleeves and fight for what we know is best for our children.

If you have any ideas on action that can be taken or want to participate in something beyond our blogs, please e-mail me at seattle.education@gmail.com.

SSD Electrician said...

"If they'd let the custodians do the repairs needed, that they can handle, then the District will be fine with those maintenance cuts."

Do you want a custodian fixing the lights, heat, fire alarm, security systems that keep our kids safe in these old buildings?? These jobs all require licenses to perform the work, but the District is trying to exploit a loophole in the laws to allow minimally trained custodial engineers to take this work from us.

I'm an electrician for the school district and I can tell you we work tirelessly to keep these schools up & running. We are restricted by what we can do with hiring freezes, spending freezes and emergency calls.We are short staffed, with minimal tools and materials.

The newer schools are built using expensive, one-off fixtures that once broken are extremely expensive to replace or repair. So the schools are told we have to defer the maintenance. If the schools were built using uniform standards, we could have lights, heaters, motors, etc that would fit into any school. Not nearly as fun for the architects to draw up, but a lot cheaper to maintain.

Maintenance is taking the LION SHARE of the cuts. FTEs are being slashed and its just going to get worse.

Mark my words, someone is going to get injured or killed by letting maintenace of the schools slide and or using UNQUALIFIED workers to do work they arent properly trained to do.

Do you want the janitor to come fix your electrical panel @ YOUR house?? I didnt think so.....

KG said...

Janitors???????????