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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kent School District Doing a Slash and Burn for their Budget

Hard to believe but.... (from KOMO-tv):
Families are fuming over a plan to eliminate 127 teachers from the school district. The cuts are projected to save $18 million, but the fear is that it will be students who pay the price.
The teacher layoffs are set to take effect this summer. In addition, nine administrator positions will also be eliminated.
It's unclear how many teachers vs staff will be cut; I've seen conflicting reporting on this.  From the Times:
The announcement Tuesday follows officials’ move last month to eliminate 45 positions in its central-administration center and scale back on some employee benefits for the 2018-19 year.

In total, the staffing cuts will save the district about $18 million, the release says.

Their Board heard from the public last night.
On Wednesday night, students and parents showed up in droves to the Kent School Board meeting to try and turn their anger into action.

These sweeping teacher cuts are expected to result in more crowded classrooms and the possible elimination of many elective classes. Those impacts to students are what drove many of the public comments.
How could the district need to make this kind of cut?
The district only grew by about 100 students from the 2015-16 school year and the 2016-17 school year, but district staff had projected more based on new housing being built in the area. But some housing plans didn’t materialize, the district said. The district also cited more students moving to the Running Start program and Excel Public Charter School in Kent as another reason the projections were off.  (Times reporting)
(KOMO reporting) Another criticism is that the staff reductions came with almost no input from the school community. The district has struggled with ongoing budget issues over the years. People who took to the podium said it’s hard not to see it as a sign of fiscal mismanagement by district leadership.
“We've recently passed not one but two levies. The second levy, to my understanding, was to keep teachers on,” said Brianna Kamran, a senior at Kent-Meridian High. “So with the recent outcome that a large number of staff will be laid off, I'm just wondering where is the levy money going?"
Good question: where is the transparency in those levy dollars?

How can they get rid of that many teachers?  Parent activist Carolyn Leith has some ideas:
Kent is a Digital Promise school district. One of the core missions of this project is:
"Maintaining a 1:1 device program: The mission of the Kent School District is “Successfully Preparing All Students for Their Futures,” and a central component of student success is access to one-to-one computing."
 If software is doing the teaching, class size doesn't matter as teachers are transitioned from instructional leaders to data managers and curators of digital learning playlists.
http://digitalpromise.org/district/kent-school-district/

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

”data managers”

Does any parent anywhere think that what their kids, regardless if their children are age 7 or 17, really need is actually a data coach? As opposed to a teacher?

Children haven’t changed. They need a caring person connecting with them to teach them, show them, believe in them, care about them. Under such an aegis by a thoughtful teacher, they flourish. That will never change. Developmentally it is what every child, regardless of culture or socioeconomic status, needs to grow and thrive and succeed: a caring, insightful teacher with the capacity to nurture learning as they nurture relationships.

That’s why I’m no fan of the heralded announcement that kids at Sacajawea as young as 3rd grade now get a one to one device to student ratio. Kids need to hold pencils to develop neurocircuitry in their brains. Screens can’t accomplish that. Teachers, wise teachers who’ve been teaching for years and possibly have kids of their own, know that.

Kids are not widgets. Grrrr.

Technology has its place, but it is secondary to the humanity of teaching.


Blue Bus

Stuart J said...

The Seattle Times had a story in August about how poor the finances were at the start of the current school year. This should be required reading because parents need to monitor budgets.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/kent-school-district-projects-69-million-budget-shortfall/

Also, here are some articles on technology. 24,000 devices running Windows 10 is a marketer's dream come true. https://www.kent.k12.wa.us/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=11&ModuleInstanceID=4622&ViewID=047E6BE3-6D87-4130-8424-D8E4E9ED6C2A&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=13555&PageID=4146

But they found that penmanship still counts , so they bought convertible laptops

http://www.kentreporter.com/news/kent-school-district-gets-ready-to-think-with-digital-ink-briefs/


and then use stylus inputs

https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/tech-is-cool-but-handwriting-helps-learning-so-kent-tries-new-pen-friendly-laptops/

But does the community really value this? The technology levy in Feb passed by a whopping 10 votes out of 23,598 votes cast. Their operations levy passed by just 266 votes.

http://www.kentreporter.com/news/voters-approve-both-kent-school-district-levies-friday-update/

It is hard to tell what the budget situation has been in past years, but a teacher friend from Kent said a year ago to me the district was on an unsustainable path and had drawn down reserves over the years.

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