Friday Open Thread

Wow, that was a busy week but there's still work to be done.

Please consider letting your friends/relatives know about your vote on 1240.  While the good people of King County are really getting those votes in, there are still a LOT of ballots out there.  Encourage your friends and neighbors to get those in. 

There are also other things you can do this week-end.  Check the Events page at No On 1240.

Good article in The Nation on 1240.

The Capital Hill Seattle blog did a nice piece on the schools in their region and their district scorecards.

As I previously noted, there are NO community meetings Saturday with Board directors.  This is sad given the gravity of next week's Board meeting where the final BEX IV list will be voted on.  I also note that there is no agenda yet available but I will link it as soon as it comes up. 

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Charlie often refers to a culture of lawlessness at SSD. I think I now get it. I found out that our school is getting targeted for a teacher cut not on the basis of WSS (weighted staffing standards). I was under the wrong impression that buildings get cuts when their actual enrollment comes in UNDER their projected enrollment, the latter being the number the principal hires for. So, if you hire for 431 students, but, only 399 show up, I can understand cutting a teacher because 32 fewer students need a teacher. I erroneously thought that all schools that got cuts had negative deviations below their projected enrollments.

Not so.

One school came in AHEAD of their projected enrollment (projected at 521, the principal hired for 521, but, 524 students enrolled). Yet, that school is getting a cut EVEN THOUGH THEY HIRED PER THE WSS. (Makes me wonder, why only one school? Why target them?)

What this means: ALL BUILDINGS, regardless of their enrollment, can get cuts! That's right: even if you hire appropriately for your projected enrollment, and, you come out ahead of your enrollment projection, YOU CAN STILL GET CUTS IN OCTOBER.

How can a principal create a stable learning environment when they could get a staffing cut, in mid October, even though all of the projected kids all showed up?

Basically, any school with a large number of classes, you are in the cross-hairs. If Enrollment Planning CAN collapse a class because they can mash together 8 classrooms and combine them into 7, they will. This is biased against any large school, because they may end up with numbers that could be squeezed to wring out a single teacher. Schmitz Park, Bryant, Lafayette, Beacon Hill, any school that has 5 classes in a single grade, you may be targeted next.

Please contact your School Board Director and tell them:

(1) Don't make cuts in October to any building -- it is too late and too destabilizing for children (if you have to make cuts, make them in the first two weeks of school in September)

(2) Don't make cuts in buildings that came out ahead of their projected enrollment numbers when those buildings hired appropriately for those projected numbers

-baffled parent
Anonymous said…
The only problem with the Capitol Hill piece is the following quote: "Lowell Elementary signed in as the star pupil with its 2011/12 performance classified as Level 4."

Of course, approximately 400 of those 600 "Lowell" kids were actually at Lincoln in Wallingford. It really irritates me that the District continues to lump Lincoln and Lowell together. As a parent, I am actually interested to see the information regarding staff perception of instructional quality, leadership at the school, etc - but there's no way to tell if the staff info they are reporting is for both schools or just Lowell. And then the "School Plan and Budget" on the second page is just for Lowell; and no info is included for Lincoln.

APP Mom at the "school that must not be named"
Anonymous said…
I *still* don't understand the numbers behind the cut for APP@Lincoln. I re-read the dialogue between Lori and Charlie a few threads back that attempted to explain the math, but it's not clear that Charlie was using the right numbers. Specifically, I've heard that the cut is affecting multiple grades and leading to multiple split-grade classrooms--even affecting the majority of the school? It's not a case of just one grade-level having five homerooms when they could fit into four?
Anonymous said…
The numbers for APP are complicated because of the mushroom model. As the grades increase, so do the number of kids in them, but not in even packages of 28 or 30. Any fix in one grade could have a trickle down or up effect on neighboring grades.

Almost out
Lori said…
APP in ALO, the story continued to develop after that thread you referenced. As I understand it, baffled parent has the numbers correct.

APP@Lincoln was initially allocated 22 teachers for a predicted 550 students last spring. In April, projections were updated, and we were then given 21 teachers for predicted enrollment of 521, and that's what was hired.

On October 1, we had 524 students, just a few students above projections.

The decision to displace a classroom teacher, and in concert with that also 0.5 FTE PCP, was made because we have 6 third grades and 4 second grades, each just below the contractual student limit of 26 per class (ie, generally 23-24 kids/class). By losing a third grade, creating a 2/3 split, and redistributing the 2nd and 3rd graders to balance class sizes among the remaining 9 classes, the district could save 1.5 FTE in salaries and only pay a few teaches the overage for going above 26 kids in a class.

I think parents were particularly aggrieved by this situation because the creation of a split class 2 months into the year is not appropriate. The "demoted" 3rd graders would be cut off from the rest of their age group at recess and lunch and might have to repeat material already covered the prior year given that the 2nd grade is well into its planned curriculum in November.

No school wants to create split grade classes mid-year. And with APP, there is another level of complexity given that so many kids are new to the school in any given year. Now, I know that some blog readers tend to disbelief that APP kids can have special social and emotional needs, but I've been vocal on this issue in the past and want to spell it out as it relates to the current cuts. The transition from general ed to a self-contained gifted program can be difficult for some kids. Moving from a comfortable place where you were perhaps the "smartest" kid in a class to a place where you're finally challenged appropriately and around *gasp* lots of kids who are maybe even smarter than you can produce anxiety and self-doubt in the short term. This was something a keynote speaker discussed last year at a local gifted ed conference that I attended, so it's not just me making this up or projecting from our own experience.

To my mind, having to "demote" some of these kids down a grade and cutting them off from age peers sends a dangerous message that perhaps they really weren't as smart as everyone said, that maybe their teachers think they can't cut it in APP. I think there is a real potential for hurting kids' self esteem in this scenario. No matter how a parent tries to spin the situation, some of these highly sensitive, emotionally fragile kids will view it as a knock on their abilities. It's the exact opposite effect parents hope for when moving to APP.

Now, I wouldn't have these concerns if there had been split classes on Day 1. As a parent, you can manage expectations for the school year when you know in advance. But asking kids to deal with this now, 2 months into the school year, just poses too much risk for harm at a time when some of these kids are already vulnerable socially and emotionally.
Anonymous said…
Lori, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for taking the time to write that explanation.

I also agree with others that at face value it looks that there are other schools with similar numbers in the K-3 grades that did not suffer the same fate on 10/1. I don't understand it and it does feel wrong.

dan dempsey said…

Very well stated ....

"Now, I wouldn't have these concerns if there had been split classes on Day 1. As a parent, you can manage expectations for the school year when you know in advance. But asking kids to deal with this now, 2 months into the school year, just poses too much risk for harm at a time when some of these kids are already vulnerable socially and emotionally."

The other factor is what about any teacher who midstream must transition to a split grade level without advanced warning. New class and new preparations and more materials to meet the needs at two grade levels.

As for me I think a summer to prepare would be in order.

-- Dan
NW parent said…
Lori, so you had 21 teachers at the start of the school year, and now you have 20? Just trying to get all the numbers straight. Thank you.
Anonymous said…
Lori, I think your last post already speaks to your mindset. "Demoted, vulnerable socially and emotionally, pose too much for risk for harm" may fit some kids, but most kids are smart, tough, and resilient. I think they will adapt just fine as kids in other schools have. Take a look at L@L demographics. This is a strong school with a very active, vocal, generou$, involved, and very well educated community.

You can make an argument for self containment based on academic needs. But I wouldn't push the envelope when it comes to social needs. There is a grain there, but I suspect you will find a lot more vulnerable and troubled kids outside APP. Just check your Spec Ed, truancy, and expulsion rate and compare.

PS parent
Lori said…
We still have 21. The district wanted to displace 1 teacher, which would have brought the number down to 20.

Then, with 20 teachers, the way the WSS works, you only get 2.5 FTE for PCP (art, music, PE). So, displacing 1 teacher automatically triggered a reduction in PCP from 3 FTE to 2.5 FTE.

And I don't mean to entirely harp on just Lincoln. The bigger issue is that this could happen to any relatively large elementary school in the future, just as baffled parent indicated.

We all need to work together to ensure that in the future, the district is making these decisions in the summer, before students and staff have arrived for class.
mirmac1 said…
I had the budget director tell me yesterday, downtown is counting the empty seats in each classroom and thinking ka-ching, ka-ching.

Gotta cram those kids, baby!
Anonymous said…
I did some digging around and a lot of Districts throughout the state and country perform adjustments based on October enrollment counts.

Is this because enrollment counts is how districts get funded?

-still not a believer
Anonymous said…
The argument that the APP kids are somewhat more sensitive or vulnerable to mid-year changes just seems specious to me. Changes this late in the year are disruptive for all kids, yes? It's also hard when a teacher leaves mid-year for health reasons, maternity leave, etc. It's not unlikely that sometime in their future that will have to deal with such a situation.

been there
mirmac1 said…
Okay, shooting near Franklin. Where's the shooter? Where's SPS Communication$ with updates for Franklin Families?!
Anonymous said…
To been there:

I've gone through staffing changes based on the October headcount at both John Hay and now at Lincoln. What was different at John Hay is that the community is so much more stable: they've been in the same school for a long time; they have a lot of experienced teachers with low staff turnover; and there's a lot of stability with the kids. At Lincoln, we've only been in the school for one year (after being told to move from Lowell on very short notice); close to half of the kids are new to the school; and one-third of the teachers are new. There has just been so much disruption that one more change feels like too much.

And similar to baffled parent, I still don't understand why if our actual enrollment was slightly higher than our projected enrollment, we ended up being cut.

Lincoln Parent
Josh Hayes said…
I dunno if this qualifies as good news or not, but George Lucas is apparently going to put the proceeds from his sale of the "Star Wars" franchise to Disney into an education-oriented charity:

"After that, Lucas plans to quickly put the bulk of the money into a foundation that will primarily focus on educational issues, a spokesperson for Lucasfilm tells THR.

PHOTOS: When You Wish Upon a Death Star: The Surprising Symmetry of 'Star Wars' and Disney

“George Lucas has expressed his intention, in the event the deal closes, to donate the majority of the proceeds to his philanthropic endeavors.”

It's not yet clear which foundation will get the proceeds. Lucas is currently the chairman of Edutopia, which is part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. He could put money into that or create a new foundation that would be funded from the sale."

(From the Hollywood Reporter - don't ask why I was reading that.)
NW parent said…
Ok, so there are still 21 teachers at Lincoln. Is it definitely going to be reduced to 20? Or is the 2/3 class combination going to happen with 21 teachers? I am still confused on these numbers.
Josh Hayes said…
Oh, and in case you weren't aware of the size of the deal, Lucas - who is sole owner of the Star Wars franchise, which carries virtually zero debt - will realize a bit over four billion, that's BILLION, with a B, dollars from this sale. It could do a lot of good. It could also buy a lot of charter school ads. Time will tell.
Carol Simmons said…
I wanted everyone to know that Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos included in her UWAA Distinguished Alum acceptance remarks her opposition to Charter Schools. She received thunderous applause from the 500 guests who attended the UW Multicultural Alumni Partnership (MAP) Breakfast last Saturday.
Anonymous said…
NW Parent, there currently are 21 homerooms at APP@Lincoln. 2 first grades, 4 second grades, 6 third grades, 5 fourth grades, and 4 fifth grades. The District has told the principal to cut an FTE teacher and .5 FTE PCP teacher by collapsing a third grade class in it's entirety and shuffling all the other kids in the 9 remaining third and second grade home rooms to reconstitute 5 new third grade home rooms and 3 new second grades and 1 new second/third split classroom, eg. a total of 9 new classrooms out of the 20 remaining. Also, it would not be so "simple" as to remove one home room teacher, no, because of seniority rules per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, sounds like a current non-home-room teacher in the building would be bumped into a home room position and two home room teachers would exit their home rooms, leaving their kids and the Lincoln community behind. The teachers would then have to if course write report cards and host parent-teacher conferences in a little over a week for kids they don't know. That is the Districts idea of how things should go down. Oh, but wait, they are more than happy to have the PTA pay for the additional compensation owed to teachers who take on overfilled classrooms, which is yet another option they have suggested.

I hope that helps clarify.

No child in any building should have teacher cuts in November. This is driven by budget and enrollment, which rolls up to budget. WHERE IS TEACHING AND LEARNING? M-I-A? how does this District proposal for scrambling and reconstituting 10 classrooms down to 9 with a split in November with an accompanying teacher shuffle support student learning? Are some students less worthy than others?

Are some buildings less worthy than others? Isn't this why we have a staffing standard to begin with? Why deviate from that standard? Which other school community and children want to have staff cuts in November? Is there not a better way to deal with budget problems?

I mean really, if things are this desperate, why did they just give McDonald an extra $100,000 to pay for Instructional Assistants for this year? Or, how about dropping expensive testing like MAP? I would rather my kids not take 3 or 2 MAP tests a year than have anybody's child lose their teacher and be shuffled into a newly reconstituted classrroom in November. I am really not anti-MAP at all, but, if things are this desperate, that the District is trolling for ways to fill 3 'empty' seats in a classroom, then isn't it time they look at the nice-to-haves rather than the have-to-haves (eg. TEACHERS)???

-signed, very discourage
Anonymous said…
Josh, my 6th grader also read about George Lucas selling his "Star Wars" franchise and is pretty excited with hopes the next movie will be awesome in epic proportion. He also thinks Star Wars is the stuff of his generation (giggles, didn't have the heart to tell him babyface Mark Hamill is now 61!)

As to Lucas giving away his billions to education, makes me paused especially after reading about how technology is changing how kids learn today. Not all of it is good.

SkritchD said…
Forgot to mention Gregory King was in Detroit news back in October.
SkritchD said…
Forgot to mention Gregory King was in Detroit news back in October. And here is the link...
Anonymous said…
One school came in AHEAD of their projected enrollment (projected at 521, the principal hired for 521, but, 524 students enrolled). Yet, that school is getting a cut EVEN THOUGH THEY HIRED PER THE WSS. (Makes me wonder, why only one school? Why target them?)

Dear Baffled - the WSS for secondary schools continue to count special education students as fractional. So, it isn't the total enrollment that matters under the WSS - but the number of sutdents in each program.

-sped parent
seattle citizen said…
Here's some horrifying and sad news in today's Times:
Franklin High football coach arrested in attempted sex with 13-year-old
My thoughts and prayers go to the victim and her family. The offender needs more than the "help" he asks for, he needs jail time.
Anonymous said…
So, I see on the revised BEX IV projects list the following changes...

*New K-5 at the Thornton Creek site, or equivalent seats at an alternate site in 2016. But, the alternate site is not named.

*Jane Addams K-8 relocation to an alternate site in 2017. (No more mention of Jane Addams K-8 at Pinehurst.)

*Move Arbor Heights up in the schedule if possible.

Jan said…
I get how bad this is -- and that the solution that has been imposed is a horrible solution (works for the bean counters downtown -- no thought for the kids and teachers in classrooms). But given that no one knows (except maybe in option programs -- and in APP, where you have to test in, the prior year) how many kids will show up, I cannot see how this can all be done "in the summer," which some have proposed. I guess I could see how you might be able to move it up to late September/early October -- but again, only if you have shut down (or expedited) wait lists, etc.

I don't mean to side with the District as they hack away here, but it seems to me that when we propose a solution, it has to be something that works for all schools (including neighborhood assignment schools that may be overenrolled/underenrolled by dozens).

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