Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seattle Schools Staff Cuts - Not So Restored

Update:  here is what Superintendent Banda said in a press release on Tuesday:

As a result, each school was given a funding amount based on student population, including weighted discretionary dollars, to make budget decisions that best fit the needs of their school. The goal was to provide as much flexibility to schools to meet the needs of their school population. Subsequently, we have heard from our school staff that this new formula is detrimental to our schools. Please know we listened to your concerns and funding of our classrooms and schools remains our first priority.

As of today, $1.8 million has already been restored to schools and the Executive Directors of Schools are working with school leaders to have the remaining amounts in place this week. We intend to fully restore what was cut during the WSS allocation.

End of update.

In an e-mail that was sent yesterday to SPS principals, Executive Directors and the Superintendent Leadership Team (but not the Board) by Michael Tolley - this was at 3:42 pm, about a half-hour before the Board meeting started, he told the principals a slightly different story than what was previously understood.

He says that the WSS committee had first decided on "the strategy of giving schools as much flexibility as possible...by converting some positions to discretionary dollars, knowing that schools could buy back positions if needed."  Ah, the Sophie's Choice for principals.

He said then they cut $4M from discretionary dollars.

Then he said that in the all-staff letter Tuesday morning they "communicated our intent to fully restore the $4M with....money we received from the State and projected SPS reserves."  Great.

BUT "schools that lost positions will see the restoration of funds as discretionary dollars.  We strongly recommend that this restoration of discretionary funding be used to restore staff positions that may have been cut through the budgeting process."

The point is - if you are missing it - that the staffing positions, as needed parts of a well-run school, are NOT being restored.  Instead the principals are being allowed to make the choice that the BLTs want.  I would assume most BLTs would keep clerical staff but maybe not.   It's hard to know what staff the district believes any given school needs to run but it appears they think it is fewer and fewer people.



Eric B said...

So.... If a school had a discretionary budget of $400K when the clerical staffing cuts were in place, and those cuts were about $100K, is the new discretionary budget $500K? That seems to be what he's saying, but it's not clear to me.

Regardless, staffing that is necessary for proper management of schools must be in the WSS. Otherwise, discretionary money is at the whim of future budget cuts.

mirmac1 said...

Wow, they just can't get that "messaging" thing down... I'm not sure what I don't like more - wrong information or contradictory information. The latter keeps everyone off-balance and unable to form an opinion and position.

Anonymous said...

This is happening very often with Mr. Tolley and his executive leadership - constantly shifting information where you have to sift and sift and sift for the bottom line.

Bottom line searcher

Anonymous said...

From the hard-to-follow evolution of this news, I believe the answer to my earlier query is that central staff is keeping their new-and-improved (?) WSS formula in place.

That would seem to have ramifications beyond this year. As Eric B. points out, it means (even more) counselors and (some) administrative positions are not "must haves" at schools. Do school staff and leadership agree with this?

I am very unclear about Special Education funding. Yes, it is protected by contract and law, but it looks like the way it is apportioned to buildings has changed. I don't understand the ramifications there, except the law of unintended consequences seems likely to raise its head.


mirmac1 said...


As I have explained to Mr Gotsch and Ms Sebring, what Budget thinks are "SM1" students are in fact the students left to suffer the fate of ICS. No one downtown knows how many students in K-5 were sacrificed to the slogan "All services Everywhere" and ill-served in resource rooms when they were owed a FAPE in the least-restrictive environment with appropriate supports.

I see WSS calls for "Resource" students (or Level 1 or SM1 or ?!?) to be weighted a .5 while FRL students are weighted by a factor of 10. This is a radical swing from previous years, where schools with high FRL enrollment received a compensatory allocation, and SpEd students had varying "contact time reductions". Wish these WSS committees (made up primarily of PASS and SEA GenEd members) would make up their minds.

I informed the Budget office that school counselors were on the chopping block just two years ago, only to be restored and now hacked again. On a personal level, I'm tired of the pendulum swings. Get a comprehensive vision of WHAT a school environment looks like! Isn't that why those folks downtown are there?! Not to jump when Mary Jean, Tim, or (insert politically-connected individual's name here) says "do this and that!"

Anonymous said...

Mirmac (or others), I don't have the background to be able to understand your post, and I really want to. Why would special education students listed as SM1 be weighted as only a 0.5? Wouldn't that hit schools hard with high numbers of SM1 students? And what is a "contact time reduction"?


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

Reposting this for anonymous:

"1) Why would one assume that BLT's when dominated by certificated staff would vote to save classified (clerical) staff?"

This comment isn't true for all schools.

Eric B said...

"Why would BLTs dominated by certificated staff preserve clerical jobs?" Because I hope most people on a BLT recognize that the school doesn't function without clerical staff. It's in the certificated staff's interest to have a school that works. Otherwise, they get blamed.

Anonymous said...

The writing in on the wall.

If certs are cut and kids packed into rooms, teachers will tough it out- as usual. Nothing will be "restored", but we will get paid for overages.


If the day to day operation of a school comes to a grinding halt because there is no one in the office to make it "run", something MIGHT happen.

Teachers teach in less than ideal conditions on a daily basis. What is one or three or four more bodies in an already crowded room?

But if those bodies cannot get a schedule to tell them which room to be in by what time...

Perhaps someone needs to higher more office staff to get it done.

If something needs to happen, it needs to be "set up" to force a hand. Teachers are expected to suck it up. Nothing changes no matter how much "grit" we display in these situations. Perhaps a different wheel, the STEERING WHEEL, needs to squeak!

- suggesting an alternative path

Anonymous said...

sorry for the typo-
hire, not higher