Letter to Ken Gotsch, CFO

Dear Ken,

I am working with the parent leaders from various schools over the staffing cuts announced last week.  I know you have given of your time to several parents in order to explain the situation.  But it continues to be murky and honestly, this is not good.  Parents are losing faith in what they hear from senior staff.  To that end, I'm asking for clarification on some issues. 

1) In Jan of 2014 you said this:

The WSS committee which includes both Central Office and school staff, examined the WSS formula, which makes up 53% of school funding. We looked at deciding on the best revisions to WSS if we have to make school-based reductions ranging between $3 million, $6 million and $9 million this year.

What is the current WSS formula being used?  I tried to search for it at the SPS website but cannot find it. 

2) I note that Superintendent Nyland said at the Board meeting that hiring and trips are to be curtailed at headquarters.  Could you be more specific about what that looks like -  are trips being cancelled or just not scheduled, does that apply to STR, the Board, the Superintendent and senior staff?  What kind of money will that save?

3) And clearly, hiring will continue (I see there are still jobs today at the SPS website) so what does "curtailing" hiring look like?

4) What the less-than-anticipated enrollment will actually cost (not just the lost revenue; but the net after not providing for those students)?

5) What are the implementation costs to the cuts - having fewer teachers for lunch/playground supervision, loss of instructional time, kid anxiety over classroom switches, decreasing resources for high-need kids.  How is that all being calculated? 

6) Parents understand that because of the underenollment of about 589 students, the district is not getting money it anticipated.  What they don't understand is how the cuts can be made (to save money) and yet the teachers/staff are retained and placed elsewhere (which is continued spending). 

I appreciate your time and hope to hear from you.

Melissa Westbrook
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog


Anonymous said…
You ROCK Melissa. I just wrote a letter to all of em-- so much less organized or eloquent, or detailed, but I did ask the administrators to look deep into their souls, and realize these are the people who sill someday be taking care of THEM.

Shell Game said…
When did the WSS account for 53% of school funding?

"The WSS committee which includes both Central Office and school staff, examined the WSS formula, which makes up 53% of school funding."

The state provided an additional $37m to schools and the district has been silent on the use of these dollars.

One thing is certain, there is a clear lack of transparency.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Reprinting for person who can't read posting guidelines:


I will point out that no matter how I search at the SPS website, I rarely find what I am looking for including this document.
Anonymous said…
Too bad such dense, baroque and hair-splitting guidelines aren't in place for hiring at the central administration office.

Anonymous said…
Melissa - it is indeed difficult to find but this Budget Instruction book for schools includes the "WSS Models For 2015-16"

Budget Instructions For Developing FY 2015-2016 School Budgets (gold book)

mirmac1 said…
But there was a shadow WSS Equity committee who refused to divulge their meeting minutes (I got some anyway). I've also determined that there is a "Strategic Initiative" that seems to have behind these last-minute SpEd cuts. Picture it, a smoky backroom of downtown suits who've just decided "Sped costs too much. Cut it." Not "How do we improve it?" or "What can we do to make it work for our students?" I will let you know what I find out.
Anonymous said…
According to the [lengthy] document, a working group tried to address some issues with the 2014-15 WSS model. One issue was mitigation requests to address staffing for special programs. It was decided:

"Schools that have consistently received mitigation resources in the last three years will be reviewed for similar needs in FY15-16. If necessary, resources will be added in the initial school allocations.

The schools to be reviewed are Chief Sealth, Cleveland, Fairmount Park, Hamilton, K-5 STEM, Licton Springs, Madrona, NOVA, Rainier Beach, South Lake, Thurgood Marshall and Washington."

What do Fairmount Park, Thurgood Marshall, Hamilton, and Washington have in common? They serve HCC students in a special program within a neighborhood school. Will JAMS be added to this list?

Middle and high schools are receiving $193.50 per student as discretionary, non-staff funding ($93.50 per elementary student). They can use the money for supplies, PD, etc., or for additional staff. FRL discretionary allocations are $535.85 per eligible middle school student ($548.14 per eligible high school student). [These are the funds PTAs can be pressured to match so schools can divert the funds to staffing...]

Schools are encouraged to use allocated funds within the current school year, but can carry forward unspent funds, and will also carry forward deficits.

-a reader

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