Seattle Schools Releases Final Staffing Adjustments

Update: I almost hate to post this but the Times decided to opine on this issue.  I'm not sure most of you will appreciate it.  Basically:

The district is not eliminating staff positions because of lower-than-expected enrollment but instead is moving some teachers and staff to the schools with the most demand.

But they also say this which is funny considering they NEVER hold senior leadership accountable for lack of transparency in spending:

While it’s clear the state must put more money into education, it’s also true that individual school districts must spend every dollar as effectively as possible — for the benefit of students.

end of update

From SPS Communications (Editor's note: I broke up this press release into more paragraphs for easier reading):

SEATTLE–Seattle Public Schools will add certified staff to five schools next week, and reassign only seven certified staff to other schools, out of nearly 1,100 general education staff (elementary, middle, K-8).
As the district shared earlier this month, 52,399 students are enrolled in the district this year, according to the 10-day headcount (9/30). This is an increase of 411 students over last year. However, while we have more students this year, the number is lower than projected by 675. This translates into $4.23 million less in revenue from the state, not including the enrollment decline impact on Special Education, Transportation or Nutrition Services.

Some schools have increased enrollment, some have decreased enrollment. This made it necessary to add more staff at those schools with higher enrollment and to reduce staff at those with lower enrollment, with a couple of unique exceptions based on classroom configuration. SPS district staff have worked closely with school leaders to address the timeline during the reassignment process. This has resulted in a net reduction of 21.5 full-time positions. 

Eight start-of-school substitutes were added district-wide and funded centrally in schools where principals believed their enrollment may be higher than the district projection. Principals used this resource to support smooth start of school efforts. The goal was to reduce the number of classes without a teacher, and to mitigate for last minute enrollment changes. 

Five of the six elementary and middle schools that received a substitute did not qualify to keep this position.

One of the schools, Green Lake, will add a full time teacher. 

The six substitutes pulled were at the following schools: Emerson, John Hay, Schmitz Park, West Woodland, Washington and Queen Anne.  

Those staff will be assigned to hard to fill positions and assigned to one building rather than different daily assignments across the district. Some schools have enrollment changes at the grade level, as compared to projections, that generated the need to add staff in some schools but also reduce in other schools.

The five schools adding staff members are:
Green Lake                                          1.0 addition
Rainier View                                        1.0 addition
Viewlands                                            1.0 addition
Madison                                               2.0 additions
Hamilton                                              1.0 addition

The seven schools who have been impacted by the need to reassign a staff member are:

Jane Addams                                       .4 partial displacement             1.1 internal funds, 1 reassigned to Broadview Thomson as part-time building designated substitute
West Seattle Elementary                      1.0 displacement                      Reassigned to Lafayette
North Beach Elementary                      1.0 displacement                      Reassigned to Bagley
K-6 Stem @ Boren                              1.0 displacement                      Reassigned to Rainier Beach
Highland Park Elementary                   1.0 displacement                      Reassigned to Emerson as building designated substitute
Dunlap Elementary                              1.0 displacement                      Reassigned to Kimball
Bryant Elementary                               1.0 displacement                      Reassigned to Viewlands

Five schools had individuals choose to slightly reduce their contracts in order to remain at the school:

Sand Point                                           .5 vacant position closed, .2 reduction, .3 funds restored with internal/external
Wedgwood                                          .5 vacant position closed, reassigned to Roxhill as .5 building designated sub
Broadview Thomson                           Vacant position closed, two staff reduced .5 each to job share
Whitman                                              Vacant position closed, two employees reduced .2 each, .4 funds identified, .2 to be determined
Madrona K-8                                       .5 vacant position closed, two staff reduced .2 and .3 each

The following schools either closed vacant positions or found alternative funding:

Alki                                                     Retained in position due to community funding
B.F. Day                                              Grade one combined, vacant position closed
Beacon Hill                                          Vacant position closed
Concord                                               Vacant position closed
Bailey Gatzert                                      Funds restored with alternative funding
Laurelhurst                                          Vacant position closed
Lowell                                                 Vacant position closed
Martin Luther King                              Vacant position closed
Olympic View                                     Vacant position closed
Queen Anne                                        Allocation had not been utilized yet
Roxhill                                                 Two vacant positions closed
Denny                                                  Alternate  funding identified
Special Education:

Out of 900 staff members, four teachers and eight instructional assistants were reassigned to other schools.

English Language Learners

We added ELL services to 35 schools (all schools now provide ELL services).
Out of 326 ELL teachers, 3.5 positions were reallocated.

We understand families and staff are impacted by these changes. The SPS Human Resources Department staff continues to work closely with every building to ensure clarity and support throughout this process. Those seven staff being reassigned, have been assured that being reassigned has no impact on their contract status, FTE level, pay, benefits or retirement.


Anonymous said…
Clear as mud. What does "vacant position closed" mean? In the case of B.F. Day, a 1st grade teacher left out of fear her position was going to be eliminated, which it was. So that "vacant" position was "closed". Clearer language would be " position eliminated". When oh when will I ever see communication from SPS that doesn't seem like something is trying to be hidden from me?

Anonymous said…
Melissa, can you find out what the "unique exception" schools are and how that exception works?

Full disclosure

spedmama said…
It's so telling that there is NO detail in the SPED section of this memo. Why the lack of transparency here, SPS? Is it that in underfunding positions and rushing to fix things now that you've been confronted, it's obvious you have violated IEPs and the CBA?
I thought Nyland said staff were not being laid off; if so I do not understand the comment regarding 21.5 staff reduction
Anonymous said…
There's no detail in the sped section because it is a big lie. They cut open positions staffed by subs. Rather, they displaced permanent staff into positions currently filled by subs ... and claim it isn't a cut. It is. Sure - we wish we didn't have positions filled by subs in October. But we do. Now we won't, we'll just have fewer positions.

sped reader
Chandra said…
a) all those "vacant positions closed" are actually teachers/classrooms removed from schools, interesting turn of a phrase to be unnecessarily kind b) spoke with our ELL staff today about the 35 ELL hires. This has to do with the OSPI ruling that the district responded to by putting all ELL kids into their neighborhood schools. Seemingly a good idea if they can get services. However, what they have done instead is hire standard issue $10/hr tutors to serve them. Not ELL staff. They have no training or background in working with ELL students. There are c) and d) etc. but will leave those for another commenter. Suffice it to say, their spin seems to have become rather malicious.
Anonymous said…
The SPED #s are completely disingenuous. 31.6 positions were cut. 25IAs + 6.6 teachers. They are not reporting the open/unfilled positions that were cut.
Anonymous said…
I don't understand why some schools had to reduce staff (Broadview Thomson, Roxhill), but then got a substitute assigned specifically to their school. Full time teachers and subs are different I know, but I just don't quite get things ...

Anonymous said…
"vacant position" = "position SPS forced a teacher out of"

"reassigned" = "removed from a school"

"alternative funding" = "school paid ransom to keep teacher, check didn't bounce"


-SPS Math
n said…
I'm curious about $10 tutors replacing ELL staff - I thought hiring outside the contract was illegal. Either that or my principal has a good thing going because we never seem to be able to bring part-time parents, tutors or almost anything into our school these days. But then my principal seems to hate a lot of us.
kellie said…
I ran a quick building-wide student teacher ratio for the final reported number, post the cuts for elementary schools.

The average presumes that all grades are roughly equal
* OSPI funding is approximately 22.5:1 for high poverty and 24.33 for low poverty.
* SPS funding via the WSS is approximately 24:1 for high poverty and 24.67 for low poverty

Here are the schools with a building ratio, higher than the WSS average.

Bryant 24.67
Greenwood 24.71
Adams 24.73
Schmitz Park 24.73
Coe 24.77
Fairmount Park 24.95
Hay 25.00
APP at Lincoln 25.07
Olympic View 25.11
West Woodland 25.33
Lafayette 25.37
Wedgwood 25.37
Alki 25.88

Anonymous said…
Dear Whitman Families,

We would like to thank Matt Ficcaglia, Sam Riedeman, and Toby Jarman for teaching and supporting our students since the start of the school year. Due to lower than expected enrollment, these teachers will be leaving our school. We wish them all the best in their new endeavors.


North by NW
Anonymous said…
How can Seattle Times say "The district is not eliminating staff positions because of lower-than-expected enrollment but instead is moving some teachers and staff to the schools with the most demand." when the SPS's own press release state that "This has resulted in a net reduction of 21.5 full-time positions." How can this mean anything other than 21.5 FTE have been cut? How can you reduce the number of fulltime positions without eliminating any positions?
What's more the obfuscation with language like 'vacant position closed' - I'm assuming that means a teacher was cut there - not reassigned, there is just no longer a position at that school and they were cut or put in the substitute pool or something (otherwise wouldn't they would be in the 'reassigned' list. And why are schools getting letters saying they are losing staff (see Whitman one above- losing 3 teachers) when they are not even on the list in the press release. Seems they are not providing complete information. Why am I not surprised?!

Ann D said…
And how many students were affected by these changes? From my understanding it was thousands.
Anonymous said…
Current sped positions that have a sub, or long-term sub (because nobody bothered to recruit) were obviously cut first. Regular staff who were displaced were moved into those positions. So how does SPS report this? Nobody was displaced... which is a lie. SPS lost many more special ed positions (maybe not permanent staff) than it is reporting. Cutting a position that is currently filled by a sub is still cutting staff for students.

Anonymous said…
Nice to see that SPS is getting its money's worth from the PR department.

-reality check
Meg said…
kellie - SPS funds at a higher ratio than they're funded for?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like even if SPS administration "overstaffs" schools using the WSS, they would still be ahead of what OSPI gives them and not need to make cuts, wouldn't it?
QA parent said…
Here's what I don't understand: SPS makes it look as though John Hay lost a "sub," when the teacher we lost was hired at the end of the summer to teach a kindergarten class full-time. Nobody thought the individual we hired was a substitute, least of all the children and families in her classroom! Can SPS just decide retroactively to change the designation of its hires to fit the desired narrative? Wait, I think I know the answer.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, would you consider a post on standards based grading, specifically for middle schoolers? Our child is incredibly demotivated by the practice. What normally would be considered an "A" - submitting quality, completed work on time - is MS (meeting standard), and translated as 85% in the grade book. ES (exceeding standard) is some unstated mystery, not to be attained. Students are told by the teacher that middle school grades don't really matter, but they do! Thank goodness not all teachers follow this grading practice.

mirmac1 said…
Here are the Final ELL adjustments:

Final ELL Staffing Adj

Here are the SpEd FTE adj:

SpEd Oct Adj Summary

Here are the GenEd FTE "reassignments"

Gened Oct Adj Summary

After the school allocations were developed which included mitigation (mega-spreadsheet provided earlier), and classrooms configured just so - the district applied two additional contingencies: all schools had ratios adjusted for smaller class size based on PASS recs (26 FTE), then SOS subs were hired.

Then once school starts, the bean counters apply this process:

SOS Staffing Adjustment Process

I have a lot of problems with this kind of "right-sizing". Why pretend to offer mitigation or equity factors when you end up going with WSS ratios, overages, and # of butts in seats/classroom configuration anyway!? This is not "service-based budgeting", a practice that, believe it or not, Central based its (climbing) budget on. How's that workin' out?

One thing I WILL say is good is the assignment of dedicated subs to some buildings. This should mean the district will stop misdirecting SpEd funding and harming students by pulling SpEd teachers out of their classrooms to sub in Gened classes. This would never happen the other way around and is a practice that must stop or the district will pay.
Lynn said…

In what way do middle school grades matter?

I think the problem with standards based grading arises when it's translated to percentages. If it's used correctly, progress on each standard should be reported separately with no summative final grade. The point of standards based grading is to refocus attention from grades to the skills/content a student is expected to learn in this class.
Anonymous said…
Middle school grades matter if you're trying to get into a selective high school.

kellie said…
@ Meg, Yes, you are reading that correct. These cuts are purely opportunistic and are not in alignment with State Funding. So placing the blame on the State funding in this instance is not appropriate or correct.
kellie said…
Here is more detail for anyone who is interested. The Weighted STAFFING standards replaced the old Weighted Student formula back in 06 or 07. The intention for this shift was to manage, precisely what happened this year. The Weighted Staffing was supposed to be a GUARANTEED MINIMUM staffing so that schools would not lose staff in October but rather gain staff in September.

The WSS provides LESS money than is provided by the State of Washington. I am OK with this conservative funding, because some schools do cost more.

HOWEVER, the entire point of the WSS was that a school was GUARANTEED that they would NEVER fall BELOW that amount.

That is why so many schools started the year with a sub. Many principals only want to make a permanent hire for a position that is guaranteed under the formula.

The list of elementary schools that I provide are all schools who "most-likely" being funded at LESS than the WSS provides. I say most-likely because without a detailed list of per grade enrollment, I can't be 100% certain.

However, that list is long enough that some of those schools and likely a few that have a lower ratio but special program should also be on that list.

The bottom line here: These staffing cuts are opportunistic cuts, not policy based cuts. These are places where the Start of School team decided that it was more important to fund the 28.6 NEW staff that have been added downtown rather actually fund the buildings as promised.
Anonymous said…
Why does none of what Kellie points out surprise me in the slightest. I don't pretend to understand the spreadsheets Mirmac just posted, but the one thing that strikes me is that the Enrollment planning folk see the number of students as data points, rather than flesh & blood kids who might be truly impacted by the loss of a particular adult in their lives.

And since I have zero doubt these were indeed "opportunistic" rather than necessary cuts, I am, as always, beyond appalled at the callous way HQ treats what should be their NUMBER ONE priority - kids in the classroom.


kellie said…
My analysis was limited to Elementary Schools as that was all the data I have. The situation is likely to be much worse at high schools.

The state fundings high school at 28:1 but SPS funds at 30:1. That different is 3-4 teachers at most high schools. That is why the proposed teacher cuts at Garfield last year was so crazy. The WSS already does NOT provide enough funding for high schools.

The WSS was intended to be the bare minimum and then high schools would be added back 2-4 teachers based on how complicated their master schedule would be. Garfield, Ingraham and Sealth have the most complex master schedules due to the vast range of types of students in their enrollment, combined with programming commitments for Advanced learning.

kellie said…
I need to leave this question to the folks who are more technical regarding policy than I am -- Shouldn't these staffing cuts have to be approved by the board as a significant deviation from budget???

Here is my logic:
* The budget must be approved by the board. My understanding is that the entire point of having an elected board is to approve and oversee the budget

* The budget was for a minimum set of standards for each building but there are now buildings receiving less than the minimum.

* So what happens when administrators make a change that is substantial enough to actually change the approved budget.

Anonymous said…
I imagine you are right Kellie (as usual). So, if I'm understanding you correctly, you are saying that somehow funds designated to fund classroom staff have "likely" been reallocated to fund Central staff, or at least that's the supposition involved.

And they did this by staffing at less than minimum ratios in schools. Which means there are some dollars floating out there that should have been in the "designated for classroom staff" pot but have gone elsewhere.

If any part of that is true, then logic would suggest the Board would be involved. But this is SPS-land, where logic doesn't apply....hmmmm...


Anonymous said…
Like Full Disclosure, I also would like to know what the Unique Exception schools are and why they were exceptions and and what their numbers were. That information is in none of the charts, but should be as presumably those are schools that were underenrolled but still did not lose teachers due to being in this exception category. Is this something you have the bandwidth to ask the district about Melissa? You are awesome by the way.

Transparency Now
Anonymous said…
I'm sorry if this question has been addressed, but isn't the state funding at a significantly lower teacher salary than the SPS negotiated salary? So, wouldn't that be a factor in the way SPS has to fund (30:1 rather than 28:1)?

SchoolFinance Newbie
Lynn said…
SchoolFinance Newbie,

Our local levies cover 25% of operating costs. As long as the state is funding 75% of our actual payroll for certificated staff, we should be able to staff at the levels included in the state budget.

Transparency Now,

In the past unique exception schools were K-8s without enough students to create two classes per grade (Madrona), language immersion schools without enough students to provide a separate class at each grade for each language, schools with two separate programs (Montessori or Advanced Learning) and a school like JAMS that pulled students from two different schools and needed (temporarily) to provide more language electives than a typical school.
Anonymous said…
SchoolFinance Newbie -
The short answer is no. The long answer is still probably no, but so hard to ascertain and explain that most people would nod off long before they got through the entire thing.

The state only funds base salary, and their allocation is based on a salary schedule they set up. Districts do not necessarily follow that salary schedule though. They don't have to. There are some specific minimums they have to maintain but otherwise they structure and fund their salary schedules as they see fit in coordination with their local union.

The specific raises negotiated for the new contract are not for base salaries, they are for what is called TRI pay. That pay is funded from local (levy) money.

FYI, we aren't at a 25%/75% split anymore. It's closer to 30/70 now.

kellie said…

I just read the SOS Staffing Adjustment Process that mirmac posted and it was a rather shocking.

Apparently there are TWO Staffing formulas. There is one formula for 26 elementary and K8 schools and then another formula for the remaining schools.

Here is an average presumes that all grades are roughly equal

* OSPI - 22.5 student per teacher for high poverty and 24.33 students per teacher for low poverty.

* SPS funding FOR 26 SCHOOLS, NOT IDENTIFIED - 24:1 for high poverty and 24.67 for low poverty

* SPS funding, everyone else - 25:33 students per teacher for high poverty and 26.67 for low poverty

So, wow! 26 schools get one formula, which is pretty close to OSPIs formula and everyone else, just gets the budget development formula.

Lynn said…
Don't forget - these aren't the final adjustments. High school principals will be notified on Monday about their staffing changes.
Lynn, I already heard Sealth is losing someone. Maybe they got started early.
mirmac1 said…
For those of you who think SpEd is a money sucker, read what SPS staff knows full well: SpEd subsidizes Gened FTE, especially at Ballard.

Anonymous said…
Lynn and Ranting,
There are some things I like about standards based teaching/grading. I like the focus on everyone working to meet specific standards. It seems clearer to me how one can be successful and it decreases the practice of grading on a curve.

BUT, what I don't like about it is that some teachers interpret standards based grading to mean all you teach is the basic standard. If the student meets the basic standard, they get a "Meets Standards". The only way the student can get above a "Meets Standard" is if they are taught and tested on materials above standard, proving they are above standard. So if the teacher doesn't teach/test anything beyond standard, the student is never able to get more than "Meets Standard".
Lynn said…
I'm more concerned with limiting teaching to grade level standards than what a middle school report card says.
Anonymous said…
I'd not be so quick to dismiss the impact of lower grades on students. A middle school child is not going to have the big picture perspective of middle school grades not mattering in the long run. They do matter in the short run - you can't participate in sports if you don't maintain a certain GPA, private high schools look at middle school grades, and they do provide some external motivation (which has the benefit of students doing the work and learning).

Ms206 said…
I work for the School District of Philadelphia as a teacher. A similar process of staffing adjustments takes place in my District, which is known as "leveling." It typically happens around mid-October. In large school districts, I understand why this process takes place, but it of course is very disruptive, especially when schools lose teachers. So it behooves school districts to minimize the disruption of leveling or staffing adjustments as much as possible.

One problem that I observed really starts with parents. There were still parents registering children for school two weeks after school had started. We also have the problem of kids coming from charter schools (which isn't a problem in Seattle).

Anonymous said…
Re unique exception schools: We were told at our language immersion school that the classes must have at least 28 kids to get a teacher. My child was at end of 2nd going to 3rd grade at that time, so I don't know if the higher grades had the same requirements. The rationale for this was the expectation that some kids would move away and leave each year, and since only heritage speakers and kids who can pass the language tests can enroll after 1st grade, the classes would get too small if there were less than 28 kids in each classroom. I don't know how many kids left or came, but my children's classes never had fewer than 26 kids throughout their 6 years at the school. In 3rd grade there were 33-34 kids in their classes. The poor teachers!

I don't know if SPS still requires this or not. I do know that each year there were less money for Art/Music/PE/Library/Counselor in the budget. We never had an art teacher, the counselor was only .5 even though there were > 500 kids (and we almost lost him completely, until the decision was made to lose the Vice Principal instead). In the meantime there are more more assistant superintendents and directors created down in central admin each year.


kellie said…
I just completed an analysis of these cuts. As many have suspected, the Staffing Adjustments are DISPROPORTIONATE to the enrollment shortfall.

A reasonable person would expect that when the district is funded on a per student basis and there are fewer students, then there would be a corresponding reduction, using the same ratio that is used for funding those same teachers.

* FTE were removed from buildings at a ratio of ONE FTE for every 15.5 students in the enrollment shortfall. This is dramatically different from the OSPI funding formula and SPS formula.

* The staffing formula that is used during budget development, would have generated approximately 18 FTE for the 465 K8 students. However, the total adjustment was approximately 30 FTE.

During all the changes to transportation and boundaries and school closures, the message was, we have to protect the classrooms. These cuts are sending the opposite message.

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