Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Seattle Schools Staffing Changes due to Enrollment

From reader Data Hungry (bold mine), letter from Dr. Nyland to principals about staffing changes.

Dear principals,

I am pleased to report that nearly 52,000 students are attending Seattle Public Schools this year, according to our official October headcount. That is an increase of 978 students over last year and is within 1 percent of our enrollment forecast.

Now that we have the official October enrollment counts for each school, as we do every year, we are moving forward with annual staffing adjustments – up and down – based on each school’s enrollment. Some schools have additional enrollment and require additional staff. Some schools have lower enrollments than projected and require staff reductions. We also consider equity factors, such as special education, English Language Learners, free and reduced price lunch qualifications and grade and program configurations. This year our school board has highlighted resource stewardship as a board priority, refocusing the district on the importance of assuring responsible management of our limited funding. While we have more students this year, the number is still lower than we projected, which has left us with $3 million less than we anticipated. With less revenue district wide, we will have to reduce the staffing budget from schools with lower enrollment and add staffing budgets to schools with higher enrollment to assure our class sizes and support personnel are equitably distributed to best support all students’ teaching and learning.

We know these changes are not easy for our schools, students, staff, parents, and principals. As the instructional leader of your school, and with your knowledge of our need to distribute resources equitably across the district, I urge you to help your school community understand this change and our considerations. We need your leadership at your school building to help make this staffing adjustment move smoothly.

Today we are announcing the following changes at schools:

Schools receiving additional staffing budgets:

· Lowell Elementary – 1.0 FTE
· Jane Adams Middle School – 1.0 FTE
· Laurelhurst Elementary – 1.0 FTE
· Rainier Beach High School – 0.4 FTE
· Mercer International Middle School – 1.0 FTE
· Sanislo Elementary – 0.5 FTE
· Concord International Elementary – 1.0 FTE
· Middle College – 1.0 FTE

Schools with reduced staffing budgets:

· Garfield High School – 1.0 FTE
· Stevens Elementary – 1.0 FTE
· Hazel Wolf K-8– 1.0 FTE
· B.F. Day Elementary– 1.0 FTE
· Denny International Middle School – 0.6 FTE
· Madison Middle School – 1.0 FTE

For the schools listed above, we have written a template letter for you to use in communicating this change to your school communities. Feel free to add additional information as it pertains to your specific school and your plans for the staffing change. Thank you for helping communicate how this change will be made in your school.

Schools losing staff funding will have five days (as required in the Collective Bargaining Agreement) to ask for volunteers or determine with HR the staff with lower seniority to be transferred. Although not ideal, and under review for future decisions, schools are permitted to keep staff if they have building or PTA or other resources to do so.

Here is a timeline for the process:

· Friday, Oct.17: Principals communicate to school staff and community/PTA and start displacement process

· Friday, Oct. 24: Schools have until the end of day on Friday (based on CBA displacement process) to make their decisions and must inform their employment analyst and copy Dana DeJarnatt in Human Resources

· Schools adding staff can post their position from Oct. 20-27, but it is possible they may receive a placement from another school. We should know if there will be a placement before the schools start the interview process.

Carry forward dollars are typically allocated at the end of October. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide that information sooner to meet this deadline. As a reminder, the total amount for non-staff/supplies set aside is less this year ($750,000 in total compared to $1.5 million in FY2013-14) due to more funds distributed in March.

If you have any questions or concerns, please work with the Executive Director of Schools for your region.


Dr. Larry Nyland
Interim Superintendent


Po3 said...

Reposting from Tues thread:

Anybody know where I can look up current enrollment figures, I am baffled by the staff reduction at GHS. Did they under enroll and move through the wait list?

Meg said...

Current enrollment figures are unavailable without a public records request. SPS has to file the p223 enrollment form with OSPI every month. The form contains enrollment data for every school in the district, by grade. Until last year, the p223 form was posted to the district website almost immediately after being filed.

Last year, due to technical difficulties in a systems transition, SPS stopped posting the p223. The most recent p223 available on the SPS website (without knowing to search on p223) is from 2009-10.

I've been pursuing the information. This afternoon I received an email from public records informing me that:
"since we switched from eSIS to PowerSchool, our reporting has changed and we no longer publish these monthly reports."

I will share once I have it. In fact, I'll be happy to share a compiled excel spreadsheet of the last 10+ years of enrollment numbers.

I'm pretty ticked off. Fulfilling JUST my request will take as long or longer than simply posting this public data, and allowing the public to participate in the capacity discussion. And that's not counting the time that principals/front office staff at affected schools will spend giving out information.

Anonymous said...

Meg, SPS staffers have been directed to delay or refuse Public Information Request as part of a new strategy.

Many request are taking over 90 days which seems to violate Superintendent Procedure 4040SP and RCW 42.56.550, but SPS doesn't care unless you're the press with a lawyer.

SPS is being bombarded with request and have hired additional staff to help.

Many of the request are time sensitive and the requester ends up needing the request to be run again since many weeks have pasted since staff pulled the information ,legal reviews it and final release to the requester. By the time the requester receives the documents more documents where created that are not included, but are relevant to the request.

What's worst is separate request worded exactly the same by different people yield different documents. Sometimes vastly different results.

Every move SPS makes now creates a flood of public records request. It seems no one trust SPS.

-- tight rope

Jon said...

This process seems absurd. Why is this the mechanism for how SPS deals with unknown enrollment and unknown funding based on unknowns in enrollment?

Aren't there many other ways of doing this? Assuming funding is unknown until October, can't they not fund several positions in central administration (esp. teaching assistants or consultants) until October? Or maintain a flexible fund that is allocated in October for special projects (like technology purchases or upgrades, supplies or textbook purchases or upgrades, or building maintenance or upgrades) based on available budget?

Why is the solution to this enrollment uncertainty to cut teachers partway through the year? Isn't that the worst possible way to do this in terms of the impact on students?

Michael Rice said...

I want to say that I am very happy to see that Rainier Beach needs additional staffing. Yes, I know it is only a .4, but it is a start and way different than what happened when I was teaching there. Congratulations to every one at RB. May your IB program be a raging success!

Po3 said...

The memo should have included enrollment numbers that backed up the addition/subtraction of the staff.

Transparency please.

Patrick said...

Last year, due to technical difficulties in a systems transition, SPS stopped posting the p223. The most recent p223 available on the SPS website (without knowing to search on p223) is from 2009-10.

Appalling. Are they still blaming the Vax?

Patrick said...

Would the OSPI release the enrollment information without making a federal case out of it like SPS does?

Anonymous said...

@Po3- GHS definitely didn't move through the wait list. My son was wait-listed for 9th grade during open enrollment, and our initial wait list number was 13. We checked regularly throughout August and September, and never moved past 12. At the end of the wait list period, we were still listed at 12. That would seem to suggest that only one student was added from the wait list, which was listed on the SPS site as 87 for GHS 9th grade.

If GHS is now being listed as under-enrolled, why weren't more students on the wait list admitted?

-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

I expected to see West Seattle High as a school that would receive additional resources. During curriculum night, nearly all teachers mentioned that they were 12-16 kids over contract. Most of my child's classes have 32-37 kids. There aren't enough seats/books in several of his classes. Maybe it's just his classes that are large, but it seems packed. Is there a way to see how many kids are currently assigned to a particular school and what the stated capacity of that school is?

-West Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

When GHS loses a 1.0FTE, 150 students will lose a core class. The position cannot be cut from electives. 150 kids will be a year behind in obtaining the course they need to take to graduate!

The position lost will be the last hired. Most likely this person will teach the most vulnerable and youngest students, as most new teachers do. Those students will either have their entire schedule changed well after the school year has begun, or will have a free period and no place to be. This is serious.

GHS advocate

jl said...

It is kind of like how airlines work to make sure they have a full plane. Overbook and bump, or not enough tickets, cancel the flight. The dates however, are a function of the legislature determining the count as Oct. 1st. I would be curious to see if the numbers changed much after the first week of school. Although, now that I think about it the churn created by waitlists might create some movement.

Something the bean counters don't notice however, is the fact that schools are communities built on relationships. It is heartbreaking to establish those relationships only to be transferred or laid off. Bureaucracies don't care about human beings so much, just the letter of the law

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the smaller than expected numbers at GHS were due upper-graders dropping out/moving to new schools. The number of 9th graders is a set number. It's possible for wait-list to barely move for 9th graders, while they are short kids in the upper grades.

GarfieldMom said...

My GHS senior is hopping mad over this. He heard that if we don't come up with $92,000 by Friday, a teacher is getting cut -- he called it blackmail, and he's right.

They've got to stop hiring all these expensive bureaucrats in central admin and put that money back into the classrooms. This is getting ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I always wonder...how many of the kids who didn't go to one of the under-enrolled schools was actually assigned to that school (his/her neighborhood school), but applied to go to another school and got in via the waitlist. And how many of those schools are the hyper-overenrolled ones that keep getting expanded using portables and other stuffing mechanisms. I believe it is a very real problem that people get in to these over-enrolled schools to the detriment of their neighborhood schools. Fewer students means fewer dollars from the district, it can mean teacher cuts just before Halloween, and it creates a downward spiral for the reputation of that school.

From the vantage point of the school losing students, this is a clear downside to the "neighborhood school" model that also allows "choice". And I'm not sure it creates an equitable situation.

- Data Hungry

Pro-sleep Mom said...

So where will the other cuts come from? We're short $3 million due to under projection enrollment. We're adding 7 positions and cutting 5.6; almost a wash in the big picture. Does anyone know what is likely to happen to balance the budget?

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS parent, you said:
If GHS is now being listed as under-enrolled, why weren't more students on the wait list admitted?

I think that question - how do waitlists move - is one I have heard over and over. I can only say that it seems to be at principal discretion and/or district whim. If there were sense to it, you'd see it.

But TS is right that it really depends on what grades are affected.

I think it was a huge mistake to allow any school, for any reason to pay for teachers. I note that Superintendent Nyland even mentions it in the memo to principals. No principal should be asking for this help.

PTAs are funding way too much (and the district knows it).

Anonymous said...

But the district can't drain blood from a stone, right? They have no money. Parents, kids and teachers need to just buckle up. Speaking as a parent.


Anonymous said...

I don't imagine that there were any cuts at the Stanford Center.

-- Ivan Weiss

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


There is enrollment data by school on the district's website for last year. It is at http://bit.ly/1pAnjLp.

You can get even more lovely data from October 2013 on the OSPI website by school at http://bit.ly/1rq2DW6. Scroll down to the October 2013 enrollment report and click on the link for school district level reports.

Current SPS October 2014 P223 summary data is available on the OSPI website at http://bit.ly/1rqhccm. This does not disaggregate by school, but does disaggregate by grade level. That's the most current and specific data I could find for this year.

What you are noticing about the lack of public information/data is a widespread problem in SPS. The district experienced a huge data issue last year,not just related to the move over to power schools, but also related to a drastic slashing of positions within the data support department. Data problems affected enrollment planning, funding for Special Ed and other entitlement programs, discipline statistics, etc.

On the other hand, as someone else pointed out, if there is no data, they can't report it, and they don't have to create it if it wasn't there in the first place.

I love data as much as the next person, and I do believe that data should be helping inform decisions. It is ironic to me that so many of the reform efforts are supposed to be driven by data, but the Emperor of Data Driven Decisions in SPS wears no clothes.

This fall SPS posted a link to a letter to SPS families of students who receive special education services. (It is interesting to me that it is called a letter, because I don't know that anyone ever received it. I certainly didn't receive it from SPS and no one that I know received it either.) In the "letter," located at http://bit.ly/1rf4eyJ, the Special Education department lays out five goals, one of which states "Develop a data craving culture where department, program and instructional decisions are based on multiple data sources."

Data craving? I would say I have that issue, sometimes even in the middle of the night, but I don't think data craving is going to actually solve any problems, especially if we go to our data refrigerator and there isn't any data there.

The bottom line is that the district needs to solve its data problems before it thinks it can solve any problems using data it doesn't have and can't report.

Unknown said...

Before I spend time trying to get data on how much money is raised by PTA's and their location, does anyone already have that information?

Jon said...

I want to say again that the current system makes no sense. It is absurd to pull teachers in October. It's the worst system they could come up with.

It's obvious that the right way to do this is to allocate teachers based on early numbers, then add, but never subtract, a few additional teachers where needed in October. To ease budget pressure when projections are wrong and to maximize the teachers allocated early, you could also withhold funds from central administration projects like teaching assistants, technology purchases, supplies, and maintenance until a final budget is known and available in October.

The only reason they don't do it this way is artificially limited controls in their budget process. Only a bureaucrat who thinks in terms of fixed cost centers could come up with this system, but it obviously is broken to anyone who looks at the whole system. It is the wrong thing for anyone who cares about students, a system that maximizes the negative impact on students, created and continuing solely due to lack of anyone doing anything about it at the executive level in district administration. The superintendent could fix this with a single order, and that fact that he doesn't is a problem.

Melissa Westbrook said...

My question is: are other districts doing this/experiencing it?

kellie said...

@ Mary,

Thanks for posting the link to the annual enrollment report. However, that is not the information that Meg is referencing.

The information that you linked to at OSPI, used to be on the SPS website and that information was pulled off of the website and is no longer being published. At a time, when it is more and more import to enroll the public in these capacity conversation, there is less and less data available.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher at Garfield. We need people to mobilize quickly. This is happening and it is going to be a really big deal for everyone. Not just the 150 students who no longer have a teacher or a year of a class required to graduate. It will impact all students - we'll have even more overworked counselors (trying to find spots for the 150), our classes will be overloaded next year to accommodate a large group of kids that will need them the year after they should have taken them, etc....... Please be in communication with the district and cause a ruckus such that this does not actually happen.


kellie said...

These staffing adjustments make very little sense. According to the limited enrollment information that was released, here are the difference from projections (and by extrapolation, from budget)

K - 80 Additional students
1-5 - 269 fewer students

Elementary net is 189 fewer students.
Middle school had 290 Fewer students and High School had 168 Additional Students.

All in all, those numbers are really very close. However, you would then expect to see adjustments that looks like

Minus 6 elementary teachers
Minus 10 middle school teachers
Add 5 high school teachers

Does anyone have a link to other adjustments? Garfield was budgeted for 1612 students and the principal reported enrollment of 1688 at the PTSA meeting. Anyone have any insight?

Unknown said...

@ Meg,

Yes, I know that the current P223 for Seattle form are not available anywhere right now. It stinks.

Po3 said...

My advice to GHS is to organize a student protest, call the media and try to get a camera out. Because telling an over enrolled high school to come up with $100K by Friday or your teacher is gone is a great story!

Anonymous said...

And, consider holding a bake sale, complete with folding tables, cute kids and hand-written signs, outside District headquarters. Seriously, do this, and call the press.

There needs to be a media story about this "process" and how ridiculous it is.

- Data Hungry

Anonymous said...

Kellie, the staffing reductions are not always made just because total enrollment at a school is down. If there are specific grades within a building that are underenrolled (i.e. if two 2nd grade classes have 14 kids each), the District will combine them and reduce staff by one. This is even if overall enrollment for the school is on target. Still disruptive, and it should never happen 6-7 weeks into a school year.

- Data Hungry

Greeny said...

@Melissa - What "I" want to know, as a first year SPS, is this what happens every year in SPS? If not, what's different this year? I think the waitlist policy- allowing transfers throughout the entire month of September-is ludicrous. When enrollment numbers drive teacher#/ specialists#/ scheduling, the need to "distribute" kids can (and does - see Gatewood/ Fairmount Park) mean a ripple effect throughout the ENTIRE SCHOOL. Which is understandable, pre-day 1. But not in October! And offering the opportunity to parents to pay-up, to mitigate the effects of this ridiculous policy, is ABSOLUTELY (@Garfield Mom & Son, @ Teach)- a ransom demand.

See 10/8 West Seattle Blog "We're being held for ransom" - Gatewood told to raise $90,000 to keep 1st grade teacher

That was the source of much anger and frustration during the meeting: Trying to figure out how the situation happened, what role school waitlists played in it – whether families enrolled at Gatewood were allowed to make last-minute switches, whether families were allowed at the last minute to add to Fairmount Park’s over-expectation enrollment – and what would be done to make sure anything similar can’t happen again, not just here, but anywhere in the district.

Above reported at a 10/8 community meeting with Board member Marty McClaren, who has met with deputy superintendent Michael Tolley and executive director of schools Israel Vela, reported to “both are very concerned, (saying that) the district would not want to do anything to disrupt the situation at Gatewood. Deadlines are secondary to resolving the problem successfully.”

If you are losing or gaining, or you recognize that WE ALL are at risk for these disruptions/$demands until this policy/mismanagement is changed, I suggest leveraging info from the WSBlog/Gatewood/Fairmount Park situation of earlier this month. I would hope Tolley/Vela have already taken their sore ears internal, and McLaren raising it with the Board - but renewed pressure would likely help spur real action.

@Jon is right. The Super can change this policy of a 10/1 reporting deadline tail from wagging the entire school district with one word. His memo on the changes should have included, "...and I'm sorry - I'm new, I didn't see this coming, and I have a root cause analysis as to what is driving this problem RIGHT NOW, and will keep you all apprised on what we find and a solution plan in the coming next few weeks." That he doesn't feels a lot like same old, same old - not even a whiff of potential change agent.

Anonymous said...

This is outright blackmail ... guessing Garfield, Stevens and Hazelwolf will come up with the money?


N by NW

Lynn said...

Garfield students are organizing a walk out tomorrow at 1:30.

Students are right to be outraged. The first quarter is almost over and they're going to have to start over with scheduling for 150 students?

I would like to see a list of the schools that are supposed to be (under our weighted standard staffing calculation) losing six teachers but are keeping them - without paying for them. The district describes them as 'high equity schools' - meaning they have higher numbers of students living in poverty and/or requiring special education services. The WSS already takes those numbers into account.

No students should be losing their teachers after school starts. The district can use their idiotic one-time $3M transportation savings to cover the cost of these teachers. Then next year they can do a better job with their forecasts.

kellie said...

@ Data Hungry,

Thank you. I know the staffing reductions are not about total enrollment. In many ways, they are identified "opportunities" for savings. However, I am looking at the aggregate information (because there isn't specific info) and noting that the grade bands in the adjustments do not correspond to the grade bands in the gaps.

This would imply that more of the "cost savings" were opportunistic and not necessarily related to the budget.

In other words, I can completely understand budget changes. If your school was budgeted for 100 more kids that you got, then your budget should be adjusted. But if you are are right on your enrollment target, and a teacher is being taken away, then there is something else going on and that something else, should be identified.

In Gatewood's case, they were a full classroom under their projected enrollment and while I disagree with the process. (the earlier reference to overly sensitive cost center accounting was spot-on). However, if you are over-your enrollment AND your are losing staff, there is something going on OUTSIDE of cost center accounting and that should be day-lighted.

Lynn said...

Marty McLaren is changing her tune on the Gatewood/Fairmount Park debacle.

Anonymous said...

The walkout is tomorrow at 1:50, not 1:30. It's at 1:50 because that is how many students are going to lose a teacher.


Ragweed said...

Mary - the information on PTA/PTO funded staffing can be found for last year on the Active Grant Inventory, 2013-2014. I don't think there is a comperable report for 2014-2015.


In a quick count I found 28 schools receiving PTA/PTO staffing grants.

Lynn said...

The GHS PTSA hasn't sent anything out about raising money for a teacher. They are tired of fundraising - this year's budget cut the subsidy for tutoring services by 50%.

Greeny said...

@Lynn - Thanks. I don't think McLaren is changing her tune, or at least, it's not been my impression that she was saying something different from what a number of very angry and frustrated were still able to understand: that "$ follow #s." But she DOES really seem to have dropped the central issue, which James Carville might call, "It's the TIMING, stupid."

I don't know what the Garfield student's are planning, but I'd much rather see them drive the point "It's the TIMING" Not only would this seem more positive than a "we're mad" rally, but it could very well rally action by others on this point to the Board and the administration. Then we might stop getting platutides on fiscal responsibility (i'm in corporate finance - i call bs - it's about priorities- and allowing disrupting kids be the go-to solution to mismanagement) and start getting some ACTUAL problem solving inside the Center for Educational Excellence.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Develop a data craving culture where department, program and instructional decisions are based on multiple data sources."

Who wrote that? Gates? TFA? Broad?

"The bottom line is that the district needs to solve its data problems before it thinks it can solve any problems using data it doesn't have and can't report."

Well said.

Mary, all I know from about 2 years ago is that PTAs fund about 23 FTE. (Some teachers but I think some tutors, counselors, etc.) Frankly, I would not even know where to start as I'm not sure the SCPTSA even knows (maybe).

Meg said...

At the secondary level, budgeting is primarily done on a total student level. 9th graders don't have a lower staff:student ratio than 12th graders.

Kellie makes a great point. If Garfield (or any other school) has total enrollment at or above budget, it shouldn't be losing a teacher. The principal would have shuffled teachers, and a class might have vanished, but the school would not have had its teaching faculty reduced by the central office. In elementary schools, I believe that K-2 has a slightly different lower ratio than 3-5, so a smaller K-2 cohort but an on-target total enrollment could potentially cause the loss of staff.

But as a rule of thumb? If teachers are being pulled when enrollment numbers (which are difficult to get at...) are coming in as expected, then there is something else causing central administration to reduce staffing in schools.

What is it? Without transparency, all we can do is guess.

TechyMom said...

If two 2nd grade classes have 14 students each, that is a GOOD THING. We shouldn't be trying to get rid of it. We need stop being so bleeping cheap all the time. </rant>

Greeny said...

Do these October teacher adds/losses happen every year? If not, why not?

Don't principals know these rules? Why don't they manage to them, so their staff plan/children's class assignments/ reflect what will become their adjusted reality in October, thereby mitigating the impact somewhat from their students?
If not, why not?

How MANY waitlist movements are made in September, anyway? If it's not waitlist, why cannot the registration deadline for deciding to attend your attendance area school be moved, to sometime before school starts? (Private schools decide/put $up to hold a seat in February. SPS Advanced Learning is absolute about their October x deadline, in the year Prior!) If not, why not? I'd like to see what possible reasons justify these chain reaction movements of children, one, two, and now likely three months into the schoolyear.

Greeny said...

s/h/b - "..what reasons could possibly justify.."

Anonymous said...

Yes, staff levels change in Oct/Nov every year. I have not been in a school with a staff cut. But I have experienced staff adds every fall. There is a lot of schedule shuffling going on at that time for hundreds of students in the secondary schools I have been in. It is very disruptive & anxiety provoking.

-HS Parent

Ragweed said...


The information on PTA funded teacher is all spelled out in the Active Grant Inventory. Last updated 10/20/14 - it includes the additional Gatewood funding. All the information is consolidated in one single report.


It also lists many other grants that you might find interesting.


Anonymous said...

Ragweed ...

Interesting link. I check our school and the information AND dollar amount are incorrect.

Downdown needs a complete staff overhaul!

N by NW

Anonymous said...

Can somebody explain the details of why exactly the 150 students wouldn't be able to get their credits? Why can't they go into another classroom? I'm not defending the district on ANY level - but it seems like they're leaving it up to the school to decide how best to make the cut, so I'm curious why it would be done in such a way that would leave 150 kids without their credits.

Anonymous said...

By giving only 5 days notice, it seems like the district is trying to prevent the PTA from even having the option to adjust their budget. PTA has to provide 10 days notice to call a special meeting. So it kind of seems like SPS isn't trying to blackmail the PTA but is trying to discourage them from staffing the position themselves. I hear that in past years, there has always been enough notice for PTA's to call meetings and make adjustments in response to these crazy October staff cuts. Or am I missing something?