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Friday, April 01, 2011

Budget Numbers Don't Look Quite Right

I've been looking at the budget numbers from the District and they just don't look right. I'm not saying that they are definitely wrong, but I have some questions. For example...

Each school I have checked so far has a lower expected enrollment than the current enrollment, but the District, as a whole, has a higher expected enrollment than the current enrollment. How does that work? It appears as if the District is intentionally under-funding schools. At the PTA meeting this week Director Sundquist said that over-funding a school was the worst sort of disaster. I guess he hasn't been in an under-funded school; that's no picnic either. It also puts the District in the worst possible situation for hiring if we're trying to bring on staff after October 1. There may not be anyone left but Teach for America corps members.

(By the way, how are we going to hire any new teachers while we're laying off teachers who are already on the payroll?)

Also: if the District balances the budget with these numbers, where will they get the money to hire those extra staff when the actually expected number of students appear?

Maybe someone could explain to me why the additional funding for Free and Reduced Lunch eligible students is $449.81 per student at the traditional high schools but it is $555.32 per student at the non-traditional schools. Is it because students at The Center School have to buy their lunch in the food court of Seattle Center?

Speaking of The Center School, what is the story on the funding formula for "non-traditional" schools? Why wouldn't the funding formula for The Center School be the same as the funding formula for any other high school? Don't Center School students deserve equitable funding? Why, exactly, should the funding at the Center School be any different than the funding formula at any other school?

And, while we're talking about funding formula for non-traditional schools, why is Cleveland funded as if it were a traditional school rather than a non-traditional school? Cleveland is an Option School and it is an Alternative Learning Experience. So why is it funded like a "traditional" school while NOVA, which is also an Option school and an ALE, funded like a non-traditional school? How is Cleveland any different from NOVA? Is it because Cleveland has a football team? Hey, if it will get them the traditional high school funding, NOVA will field a football team. They might not win many games, but it would be co-ed (which would be cool) and the Dead Rats would put on a rockin' halftime show.

I can understand why the S.B.O.C. needs to be funded differently; it's a 6-12. And the enrollment grows over the year at South Lake and Interagency, so they have to be funded for that. The Home School Resource Center funding has to be different because they don't have classrooms like other schools. But why shouldn't The Center School, The NOVA Project, and the Middle College be funded like any other high school? After all, the alterative K-8s are funded like any other K-8 and the alternative K-5s are funded like any other K-5.

It's not about size. Rainier Beach isn't much bigger than NOVA and the Center School and it gets the full high school funding.

Speaking of Cleveland... I see it is funded for only one assistant principal, but the STEM contract with NTN commits the district to having an assistant principal for each of the two academies, doesn't it? So shouldn't Cleveland have TWO assistant principals? While this might not be funded by WSS, it is not discretionary.

I notice that Rainier Beach is funded for only one principal next year. Bryant, also, is funded for only one principal. Bryant, is funded for 26 classroom teachers (23 K-5 and 3 PCP). Does that sound right?

So I have all these questions. It may turn out that everything is just fine and it can all be explained. Just the same, I'm going to ask.

20 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, did you get the expected enrollment number from the budget numbers or from the capacity management document? If not, then I'll pull mine out and cross-check.

Mr. Boesche said that it is better to underfund than overfund at the PTSA meeting. Again, better for who?

I still wonder how we got sold the bill of goods that is the supplemental levy and none of it seems to be going to cut this deficit.

I also believe the district is protecting Central more than they should. Why not furloughs (rolling or otherwise)? Why cut maintenance and not HR? Again, why is the Board going along with this?

In the end, if Central isn't down or near to 6%, then all their words about protecting classrooms are nothing but bullshit.

Lori said...

I wasn't there, but don't you think that when he says "better to underfund than overfund" that he means only at this point in the process? That is, by budgeting based on the lowest number of potential students for next year, you aren't committing funds and positions to a school that you might need to take away later if the expected number of students fails to show up.

Kathy said...

I noticed full time K enrollment is 23 for elementary schools- including heavily populated schools such as Bryant.

Not sure how to interpret this.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Lori, I do not think he meant for right now. I think in the context of Charlie's research about how a lot of schools seem to have lower enrollment numbers for next year than this year, that something is up.

kellie said...

I was at the meeting. What I heard him say was that it is incredibly painful for a school to be over-staffed on Oct 1 because of lower than expected enrollment and then need to down size staff after Oct 1. I think the only point he was trying to make was that while everyone wants to get staffing just right, it is easier to add new staff after Oct 1 than to let go of staff that already established in the building.

I think this was a purely all things relative comment as he emphasized that enrollment is counted monthly to avoid the need for any dramatic staffing changes.

KG said...

Melissa,

You are right on when you say keeping the cuts away from the classrooms is all BS. That is all just a feel good phrase. More of the same it looks like even with a new Superintendent and CFO. They act as if Boesche was some kind of a hero, and he is to Central admin.
as they will hardly feel the pain of these cuts. This continues to be a crime against students. When they do not deal directly with students and have to see them daily, it is easy to indirectly harm them. It is a crying shame.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay! I finished comparing the actual October 1, 2010 enrollment numbers with the projected enrollment numbers in the school budgets.

All of the high schools, except Cleveland, are expected to have fewer students. In total, the school budgets are predicting a net drop of more than 800 high school students district-wide. The biggest drops in enrollment will come at Ballard (-112), Ingraham (-108), Hale (-106) and Garfield (-177). I have absolutely no idea what makes the District think that Garfield will see 177 more students leave than arrive, but there you have it.

The middle schools are gaining students. Led by Aki Kurose, which will attract 92 more students next year than this year, and Mercer, which will attract 84 more students, every middle shcol will gain enrollment except Madison (-37) and Denny (-59), both in West Seattle. McClure is expected to have three fewer students as well. Total net change in middle school enrollment: +192.

The elementary schools are something of a mixed bag, some up some down, but mostly up. The big ones will get bigger with all five of the schools with enrollment over 500 adding yet more students. Bryant will find room for 25 more and go from 570 to 595. Lafayette will find space for another 28 and grow form 526 to 554. Lowell (thank goodness APP was split so this school wouldn't be overcrowded!) will add 34 students and grow from 545 to 579.

The fastest growing schools will, of course, be the new ones: Viewlands with 129, Rainier View with 100, McDonald adding 76, Queen Anne adding 40, and Sand Point adding 37. Surprisingly, the District also expects big growth from Arbor Heights (+48), Roxhill (+53), West Seattle Elementary (+42), Gatzert (+45), Hawthorne (+42), and McGilvra (+36). McGilvra's growth will come from removing the caps on class size. I get that. Hawthorne and West Seattle might be due to the SIG grants. But I can't help noticing that three of these schools are in the Denny service area, which is expecting a net increase of 156 elementary students. From where?

Charlie Mas said...

Nearly all of the elementary schools will grow. The only three are expected to lose more than 20 students are Laurelhurst, (next to the new Sand Point), Emerson (next to the new Rainier View), and Rogers (next to the nearly new Jane Addams). Sacajawea is expected to lose 19, maybe because it is also close to Jane Addams.

Net, the elementary enrollment is expected to grow by about 900 students.

So who is shrinking? The K-8's. Only two K-8's are expected to grow, Jane Addams and South Shore, which are still building out. Blaine is expected to remain about the same. The other seven are all expected to shrink. I can understand Broadview/Thomson getting 74 students smaller with the opening of Viewlands, but why should anyone expect lower demand and enrollment at TOPS (-10), ORCA (-8), Pathfinder (-8), or Salmon Bay (-15). Most disturbing were the predictions of further shrinkage at Pinehurst, dropping 20 students from 150 to 130, and Madrona, dropping 36 students from 356 down to 320. That building at Madrona can hold a whole lot more than that.

McGilvra, Stevens, Gatzert and Leschi, the schools around Madrona, are all expected to grow. Thurgood Marshall, too.

If the District is manipulating the predicted enrollments to alter the budgets, they are doing it to favor the middle schools and the big elementaries over the high schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's a little confusing as to why South Shore isn't at 8th grade by now. In 2008-2009 they were prek-6. So in 2009-2010, didn't they add 7th and then 8th this year? They have the room.

Charlie, those are some interesting numbers.

Dorothy Neville said...

Sandpoint is already more than 37 kids over their October count. And with phase 2 of Magnuson Park housing opening, they are expecting between 30 and 50 kids from there alone, next school year.

(And I think they are up to 15 languages? 55% FRL, according to the principal. I think in October they only had 8 or 10 different languages spoken at home.)

This is all from a neighbor who is on the SP PTA board. I could have the numbers off, but not by much.

KG said...

This is an area of waste having these miniscual enrollments at Sandpoint, Viewlands, McDonald, and
Queen Anne Elementary. These students could have been absorbed into other schools such as Broadview-Thomson for another year.
Of course this is not a big a waste as the Central Adminocrats are.

LG said...

Charlie,

Center School free-reduced lunches are NOT at the food court but are the usual district food delivered to the school. My guess is that the small number of meals makes the cost of delivering each meal higher.

Charlie Mas said...

LG, the higher allocation for FRE students at Center School is the same for all of the "Non-traditional" high schools, and not specific to The Center School. I was just making a joke about the food court.

Po3 said...

South Shore is graduating its first class of 8th graders this year.

Melissa Westbrook said...

That's interesting because the New School Foundation makes it sound like they are still growing the school. Also, there don't seem to be WASL scores for a couple of recent years for South Shore.

dan dempsey said...

South Shore has grade 7 OSPI scores for Spring 2010 grade 7 HERE

Looks like this year is the first year of an 8th grade class at South Shore.

Current South Shore Principal Keisha Scarlett was a Math Coach in 2006-2007.

Anonymous said...

remember the riffs-displacements-layoffs of 2 years ago, and how the de-form-istas came out of the wood work with some astro turf anti-riff by seniority stuff?

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/2009298324_schoolrally04m.html

IF the new administration is as venal as the last, a whole bunch of displacements are a great way to help keep the day late and a buck short WEA-SEA looking at inept as ... they are!

carlyle's stand on children seniority bill might have died a few weeks back ... but ...

the deform-istas are still ca$hing billy boy'$ check$.

Zombie A$tro Turf Never Dies

wsnorth said...

I can't find the links to this info on the new district web site. Can someone post the "main" link? Some of those numbers seem to make no sense, particularly in West Seattle, which I am familiar with.

Charlie Mas said...

South Shore is growing out now instead of up. In their new building they have more capacity than they had before.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh! Sorry not to have provided the links!

Here is the link to the budget pages for the schools.

I took the 10/1/10 enrollment numbers from the District's Data Summary report.