Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quick News Updates

New Update (6:27 p.m.)   Here is a link to the Governor's list of possible education options. 

Another area of reduction; preschool enrollment for 3-year olds.  Another reason to vote for the Families and Education levy.  

Eliminate school bus transportation $220.0 million 
Shifts responsibility for transporting students to parents and communities through local transit
systems, beginning in the 2012–13 school year. Maintains required transportation for eligible
children with disabilities.  

 Also, reduce the school year by a week, eliminate National Board certification bonuses (boo), eliminate full-day K in high poverty schools, change daily attendance calculation and change the calculation for withdrawal from school from 20 consecutive days to FIVE
Read the full list for all the ideas put forth.  You might want to weigh in with the Governor or your state legislator about what is a non-starter versus a maybe versus "okay if you have to".   Don't let THEM decide.

Update:  Here's part of Dr. Enfield's response; clearly I missed a couple of things.  It is even more serious and discouraging than I thought (bold mine).

The Governor’s proposal to increase class sizes by two students in grades 4-12 will result in an additional “hit” to our already strapped school district budget. Our classroom size is mandated by our teachers’ contract so we have to pay for that contracted classroom size, even if we receive no money from the state. 
The suggested change to the state attendance policy to withdraw students after only five days of absence may save the state money, but will have the effect of increasing the dropout rate because the students will totally lose their connection with their school after five days.
The Governor’s plan to eliminate school transportation for all but those students who qualify for special education services will again disproportionately affect low-income families who are least able to provide transportation for their children.

We appreciate that the Governor does not appear to be recommending a cut to the school year or the elimination of full day kindergarten, but her recommendations will have the effect of increasing disparities and will have a negative effect on our students’ ability to be successful after high school.

 End of Update
The Governor has laid out her proposed cuts to the budget.

For K-12 education there is some sort of accounting sleight of hand to not paying the schools a $330M payment one day and waiting until the next (so it falls into the next 2-year budget).   I'm not sure that hurts the district much as I think that is mostly operations money.

She proposes cutting in half levy equalization money to districts that usually are the ones to take advantage of this option (the more property-poor and/or rural ones).   That is supposed to save $150M.

She also proposes to increase class sizes by two students in grades 4-12, supposedly saving $150M.

So Seattle Public School parents who have extra full schools, now you get extra full classrooms (not like it isn't happening in some classes anyway).  This is much more likely to impact classrooms and not school administrations.

But interestingly, on a KUOW interview today, Peter Maier says he would give the district a "B+" and that parents should be "celebrating" the growth of our district.

The grade is laughable and frankly, a little insulting to anyone who knows the history of our district over the last year or so (even taking in the good things).  

As for celebrating, I guess you parents can do that AFTER all the capacity issues are addressed which should be, oh, in 4-10 years when Peter Maier will be long gone.


Question said...

She's also proposing another 15% cut to higher eduction.

So when the kids that do graduate and want to go onto four year colleges, they are going to find even more onerous costs and crowded classrooms.

Why is it terrible that as a senior in high school you might have 35 to 40 kids in a class, yet at the UW, as a freshman, you might have three times that many?

mirmac1 said...

Thanks for the details Melissa. I've been searching for a line by line breakout of Gregoire's proposal all morning.

Folks, now's the time to contact your state reps and senators to give them your two cents.

Anonymous said...

"But interestingly, on a KUOW interview today, Peter Maier says he would give the district a "B+" and that parents should be "celebrating" the growth of our district."

During the Carr/Martin KUOW interview yesterday, Carr also gave the district a B+ (I believe).

Kinda like the Board giving themselves a social promotion.


Lori said...

As much as it pains my progressive little heart to say this, I hope the levy equalization funding cuts stick. The folks who consistently vote against every tax measure because they say they want "limited government" should now be forced to live with their choices. I don't see any other way for the electorate to finally understand the relationship between taxes and services. We need to give them the government they've asked for, and that means no more handouts from wealthier parts of the state.

mirmac1 said...

WTF about transportation?? I need more info!

dan dempsey said...

JC wrote:

Kinda like the Board giving themselves a social promotion. ... with the B+

Perhaps the voters will apply some NON-promotion provisions. As in it requires achievement to pass into year 5.

someone said...

Wow cutting transportation is - well - riduculous! - while Seattle might have "some" options re: public transit - there are lots of places in the state where there just isn't other viable options - kids living out in the boonies really don't have a lot of choices.

Just the most idiotic thing I've read in along time - what's the point of having schools if the kids can't get there to LEARN! Arrrgghhhh!!!!

I hope my spouse doesn't read this today - guaranteed freakout material - sigghhhh... wv says ingestro - yep, got that.

Jan said...

I am with Lori. My sense has been for the last few "eyman" years tht a lot of the Districts that get levy equalization are those whose votes have prevented any increase in revenues to the system statewide -- whereas the districts from which that money is transferred are often the Districts that would agree to increase taxes for what they see as valuable services. I don't really want to go wholesale into the dividing up of every single dollare between who produces it and who consumes it -- but maybe if levy equalization goes away, the anti-tax folks happy to take that money will be a little more willing to look at the revenue side of the equation, and not just the spending side.

dan dempsey said...

Transportation .... hummm

well in McCleary v. State this was a big one because the state was not funding it adequately and the Districts had to subsidize transportation from levy funds.

The Governor’s plan to eliminate school transportation for all but those students who qualify for special education services will again disproportionately affect low-income families who are least able to provide transportation for their children.

So is the Gov. planning on telling the WA State Supreme Court what to say in its coming ruling on McCleary v. State over school funding?

Lori said...

Would class sizes increase everywhere? Because as it is now, not all districts have class sizes as big as Seattle.

I remember an article in the Times many months ago where Randy Dorn lamented that budget cuts might raise class sizes in elementary from an average of 23 kids/class to 26 or 27! Uhhh, if that's the average state-wide, and Seattle routinely has classes of 28 kids or so, someone, somewhere in this state has very small class sizes.

So, again, I'm not going to get upset if other districts have to increase their class sizes to be commensurate with ours. But, I don't want us getting up to 30 kids in elementary if other places only have to grow to 26 or 27.

Here's the article link: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013690505_education16m.html

Peter Bunch said...

I too agree with Lori and Jan. Its about time communities keep tax dollars close to home and its a crime when an area like ours pays for our schools and many in communities that put the Seattle down (like "NEW YORK CITY!" in the chili ads) at every opportunity. Its a sport in Olympia and the republicans think its hilarious.

I would love to see their bluff get called but don't think the Seattle delegation will insist upon it.

As usual, Ruven will take both sides on diffrent days.

RosieReader said...

I wonder if the plaintiff's in McCleary would consider an aggressive move. Given that they've already got a lower court decision in their favor, perhaps they would try a motion to prevent further cuts pending the outcome of th Supreme Court decision.

dan dempsey said...

Big Question:

What is the Supreme Court doing?

I think it was late June they heard the appeal in a day.

So what is UP.

SP said...


Here is the link to the details. The education section is 3 pages from pre-school through cuts to colleges and financial aid grants. Other cuts include eliminating full-day K in high poverty schools, reducing staff at high schools <300 kids, reducing administration by 10%, eliminate Nat'l Board certification bonuses, and reducing the school year by 5 days ("offsets the loss of instructional time by reducing or eliminating non-instructional activities").

The attendance funding cuts include 2 options:

Base school funding on an average daily attendance calculation $33.0 million-
Reduces state allocations to schools by basing funding on daily attendance instead of monthly enrollment.

Alternative: Revise state attendance policy $6.4 million-
Changes policy that considers a student withdrawn after he/she is absent unexcused for 20 consecutive days. Five, not 20 days will more accurately account for students who have dropped out of school and for whom the state continues to provide funding to the school district.

mirmac1 said...

Dam Rosie! I like how you think!

StepJ said...

How much of current Transportation funding is provided by the State?

If GenEd. bussing is done away with I need to figure out how to get my elementary age kids to two different schools that start at the same time.

Unless by some miracle there will be something for out of area siblings - separated by NSAP not choice - in the Transition Plan for this year. (ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,)

Dorothy Neville said...

"How much of current Transportation funding is provided by the State?"

From the 2010 F196, pupil transportation cost $31.3M and state provided %17.7M and nothing from the feds so we had to come up with $13.5M from other sources (levy? the numbers look right for this to be pretty much levy money but I didn't know we used levy money for transportation.)

peonypower said...

Wow 5 days and you are out of school. I hate to see what would happen at high school. Kids would be dropped like hot potatoes.

I find it ironic that while the state is demanding that all school districts have a stricter and more complete evaluation system by 2013 that the circumstances for teachers to teach in just keep getting harder and harder. Oh, and if you have taken it upon yourself to do national boards, well that is nice, but the money you spent will not be coming back to you. If the state is serious about "the best teachers" in every classroom they should back it up. If they are not why not do away with NBCT, and professional certification, and just hire TFAers in every school who will cycle through in 2 years and save money that way.

As for levy equalization, yeah- let the parts of the state that vote against any tax increases suffer. I keep voting for taxes that support education and frankly I am sick of seeing levy dollars go elsewhere.

CT said...

SB taking comments on not doing a search for a supe?

I saw the petition, but didn't figure they'd respond so soon, if at all, given their past track record.

StepJ said...

Thank you Dorothy.

Charlie Mas said...

I think RosieReader is on to something here.

The Court should be able to prohibit the state from cutting funding during the appeal.

StepJ said...

FIVE consecutive days might be a death or illness of a family member. Or, a terrible tragic illness or injury.

It might be mono - a not uncommon illness for a teen, chicken pox for a little, or just a horrible flu.

With the newly approved Board policy if the Principal does not approve of the absence - game over.

Five consecutive days seems very short and horribly life changing in a very bad way, if you as a family are so unfortunate to experience a terrible life event, and also have a Principal that is severe.

SP said...

The key words are five UNEXCUSED
absences for five CONSECUTIVE days.

The devil is in the details- currently state law allows districts to define "unexcused" absences (and Seattle just changed/tightened their definition considerably).

Will SPS rethink this definition when state funding is on the line? We'll see...

dan dempsey said...

Wait just a darn minute here...

The education section is 3 pages from pre-school through cuts to colleges and financial aid grants. Other cuts include eliminating full-day K in high poverty schools,

Rosie is definitely onto something.

Consider article IX of the State Constitution and its Race and Caste statement.

Consider the recent NY Times article:
by Nicholas Kristof Occupy the Classroom

“Schooling after the second grade plays only a minor role in creating or reducing gaps,” Heckman argues in an important article this year in American Educator. “It is imperative to change the way we look at education. We should invest in the foundation of school readiness from birth to age 5.”

So here is the relevant Constitutional section:
Article IX

Text of Section 1:
It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

Sure looks to me that ample provision is NOT being made for high poverty students.

Looks like the WA Supreme Court should say stop all this other spending on other stuff and increase the school funding .... then we should see some rapid voting for TAX reform. This state is not meeting its constitutional obligations to children and that is very clear and very disturbing.

Will the Supremes ever emerge from hiding?

Kathy said...

In times of historic cuts to education, why did the incumbents ever believe the Strategic Plan was sustainable?

I'll give them a D for fiscal management.

StepJ said...


I had the same thought.

There are newly approved SPS definitions for excused/unexcused absences.

The school principal gets to decide if the absence is approved or unapproved.

If the principal does not approve of the five plus day absence - then your kiddo’s current enrollment for anything other than address - Spectrum, APP, grandfathered status, Option school, etc. is toast.

You then get to try and enroll again to try and regain you previous enrollment.

The combo. of the new State rule (if enacted) and the newly passed SPS rules (relying very heavily on Principal decision) leave families in a very precarious predicament.

dan dempsey said...

Right on Kathy ...

"why did the incumbents ever believe the Strategic Plan was sustainable?

I'll give them a D for fiscal management."


DeBell keeps asking about results from the Strategic Plan ... It was a poor plan to begin with.

Eli Broad head-hunters delivered MGJ to Seattle and with her we got Eli Broad's Strategic Plan.

Shorty after MGJ arrived the $500,000 Four took office and the embracing of everything Ed Reform was on.

This is not really a question of PLAN sustainability ... the Plan was flawed from the beginning.

Now we need school directors with enough sense to dump it.

The NSAP requires the abandonment of the Centralized control model, if it is actually going to improve student learning and retain any hope of making every school a quality school. A lot more teacher and school autonomy is needed.....

it is time to PLAN to meet the needs of each student rather than planning to fit everyone into the one size fits all box.

Dorothy Neville said...

OSPI has been tasked to come up with a definition of unexcused absence. I believe that was done to make it possible to pay districts based on daily attendance rather than average daily enrollment. Therefore, our district definition of unexcused absence (with the overly subjective principal discretion) will probably be moot.

Actually, what we will have is reporting requirements, audit findings and scandals where schools cheat with attendance figures to ensure state funding.

KG said...

Folks, now is the time and along time ago was the time to e-mail and protest at the Board meetings the gross over spending on CENTRAL ADMIN. Give them you loudest displeasure as appartently it is OK they continue this abuse of the school children. NO!

Juana said...

KG, I was similarly appalled when I saw how many people in administration make $100K per year. Granted some people deserve it but based on the results coming out of the district, I truly believe that there are people overpaid for just thinking with no positive results.

KG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.