Thursday, September 20, 2018

Seattle Schools Cuts Teachers at Some Schools to Move to Other Schools

Update 1:
- I have heard that Intergency will not have two teachers cut but Nova is still on the list.  Still need to confirm
- I understand that Nova students will have a press conference at 9 am in front of their school.
- I believe that students from affected schools may be showing up to Superintendent Juneau's listening tour stop at North Seattle Community College on Monday night at 5:30 pm , Room CC1456 ('The old cafeteria').
- Story from KNKX's Ashley Gross

The Seattle school district said it had 52,943 students on the sixth day of school, 724 students below what district officials had projected earlier in the year.

The Bellevue school district has also had lower than expected enrollment by about 200 students, spokeswoman Christina Wilner said. No single school is impacted significantly, she said.  Tacoma Public Schools spokeswoman Kathryn McCarthy said so far enrollment is on track with projections.
Initially the story had stated that Superintendent Juneau had said the district had "frozen" hiring new staff at headquarters but their press statement had said "curtailed."  Apparently, curtailed is the correct wording. 

end of update 

Today, a letter signed from Michael Tolley, Flip Herndon, JoLynn Berge, and Clover Codd went out saying, "Dear School Leaders...."
The district has 775 fewer students than they thought they would.  They say that they are only off by 1.4%. From the letter, it is unclear if that is growth they had expected (but not gotten) or students who have left the district or both.  They claim that many nearby districts to the east and south have the same issues and put cost of housing up "as a likely reason."

They cannot cover all that revenue loss and so they are cutting teachers.  My understanding is that they are NOT losing their jobs; they will move to new schools.


Principals are to ask for volunteers and if there are none, then the least senior person in the teaching corps is displaced. If there is not a "suitable vacancy," then those teachers will be "assigned as building-designated substitutes until a position becomes available."

The timeline was that principals were told yesterday and today the principals told their schools (starting "the displacement process").  Those teachers to be cut will be notified by next Monday.    Those teachers moving will be told next Tuesday and Wednesday and move Friday, the 28th.

I urge you - whether your school is affected or not - to write to the Board and the Superintendent - you can reach them and senior staff at:
schoolboard@seattleschools.org

Why?

Because if there are this much needed movement of teachers, then there should be movement at JSCEE.  Why are schools bearing all the reductions in revenue? 

And, if it's just 1.4% off, it seems like a lot of movement. 

 (And I don't mean cut someone who works in food services at JSCEE; I mean that there should be someone else up the food chain.  When you have this kind of action, the pain should be spread out.)

One very glaring issue  is schools like Nova, World School and Interagency that serve many kids with challenges.  It's LGBTQ kids, immigrant kids and kids who have not found a place where they feel safe.  I can say that I know -for a fact - that Nova and Interagency save lives.  And, those two schools, along with Middle College, always get more kids after the October count. 

From the SPS website:

This year's count was 724 fewer students than projected, resulting in a shortfall of $7.5 million. 

But they told the principals that it was 775.  Hmm.

Staff applied a race and equity lens to support our schools with the highest need. While the need was greater than our available resources, we are able to stabilize staffing and minimize greater disruptions for some schools.

We know the changes will affect our teachers, students and families. We thank you for your patience and understanding in this process. If you have additional questions, please email staffing@seattleschools.org .

If you want to learn more about enrollment projections and staffing, please visit our Staffing Adjustments FAQ webpage.

From the FAQs:
In light of lower than projected enrollment, central office hiring has also been curtailed.

What that truly means is anyone's guess.
 
The letter to principals says:
As the instructional leader of your school, please help your school community understand these adjustments and the factors taken into consideration.  We need your local leadership to make this process as smooth as possible."
Problem is, I don't see a notation of the factors that influenced what schools are losing teachers.  I see some fairly popular/full schools on the list like Roosvelt, Queen Anne, STEM K-8 so it's confusing to understand what schools were picked.

Schools gaining teachers:
Cedar Park, Emerson, Gatewood, Lafayette, Loyal Heights, Madrona K-5, North Beach, Olympic Hills, Eckstein, Chief Sealth and Rainier Beach.

I'm not so surprised at this list except for Madrona K-5 which had very low enrollment in previous years.

Schools losing teachers: 
Arbor Heights, Cascadia, Bagley, Coe, Genesee Hill, Hay, Muir, Lawton, Leschi, Montlake, Queen Anne (2), Thurgood Marshall, View Ridge, Viewlands, Whittier, Broadview-Thomson, Blaine (2), Boren STEM, Salmon Bay, Meany*, Mercer, Franklin*, Garfield, Roosevelt (2), Interagency (2)*, Nova (2), World School.

*This has a notation of "vacancy" which I take to mean the school already had an empty spot.

Please note that staffing adjustments for Special Education and ELL will be determined and communicated by October 5, 2019.

From messaging out of Nova (not official):
Over the last two years the enrollment center has done things like not putting Nova on the list parents see of available high schools in the district, telling parents and students that Nova is already full, and moving back deadline dates for out of district students to apply to our school.
Between the three service schools I mentioned above, schools that support the most vulnerable students in the school district, five of the ten teachers are being cut.
The irony of all of this is that all the large high schools are holding onto all of their students until October 1st (when budgets are decided for schools) and then will release those kids who they deem are not appropriate for their schools to the service schools - Nova, Interagency, South Lakes, World School, and Middle College. 
Our teachers work with students who are highly vulnerable to depression, anxiety, PTSD, other mental health disorders, ADHD, and having been bullied for being LGBTQ, autistic, or simply different from others.  We provide a safe and stable place that some students have never experienced in their school years, and sometimes in their own homes.  Suddenly putting our community into this kind of chaos only creates chaos for those students.
Seattle Public Schools talks and talks and talks about equity and supporting students with challenges but when push comes to shove, they seem to always go after the schools that support those students.  Please don't let them undercut the good work at Nova, World School and Interagency.

If SPS keeps this up, I suspect you will see the growth of private, online and charter schools.  I'm not sure how the district thinks it won't happen.

53 comments:

  1. Roosevelt is not under projections at all. All, and I do mean all, of my kids' classes are over 30 kids. I just can't believe there is actually room to cut two teachers there. How many hundreds of kids are going to have schedule changes as a result of this?

    Awful SPS

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  2. This is unacceptable. Any properly run school district would slash central office staff, including laying off central office staff, before cutting a single teacher from a school. The result of these cuts would be to degrade the quality of education received at these schools, and preventing that should be the highest priority of the superintendent and the board.

    I also think the note from Nova is important. This is yet another piece of evidence that Tolley and his crew at the JSCEE are trying to starve option schools and service schools by preventing parents from moving kids there. When they did this to Middle College, attacking and gutting a social justice curriculum serving kids of color, there were no consequences. The board did nothing. Senior staff acted with impunity. The failure to deliver consequences to central office staff for the attack on Middle College enabled stuff like this.

    We have a school board that exists in part to put a stop to things like this. They have the power to do so, and don't let any of them or anyone else tell you otherwise. Defund the Executive Directors before cutting a single teacher from a school. Cut off or refuse to renew consultant contracts before cutting a single teacher from a school. Tell the senior staff they get no more tech deals or electronic gadgets unless they have first ensured schools don't lose teachers. The board has the power. Make them use it.

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  3. Every time I think the district can't sink any lower, they surprise me again. Three high schools losing 2 teachers a piece. Thousands of students being disrupted during the most high stakes portion of their educational career. This is absolutely malpractice. I hope someone sues.

    Bye SPS

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  4. Where do you find the list of specific schools? All I see when clicking around is general explanation. Also the monthly enrollment count is not yet published. Schools that were overcrowded just last year are losing teachers, really? I doubt the numbers are that different.

    This is what galls me - an enrollment projection missed by only 1.5% is not dramatically off. You simply CANNOT operate schools using a just-in-time inventory system that treats teachers like commodities. I know this isn't a problem exclusive to SPS, but SPS does seem to be making personnel shifts that maximizes visibility and disruption. THAT is absolutely a choice.

    FNH

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  5. My understanding from a reliable source was that there are 7 teaching positions that were open but now will not be filled. That doesn't quite match up with the 4 vacancy notes above. However, that might be because an unfilled teaching position at some other school not on this list will be filled with a displaced teacher.

    It's sure a good thing that holding waitlists for staffing capacity improves the predictions so very much that there's virtually no staffing adjustment for the October counts. Or something like that.

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  6. I am not at all surprised by this on-going drop in enrollment. It is very convenient to blame this on housing but housing shifts don't show up like this.

    I and others have been posting and testifying for years that enrollment policies that refuse to both follow policy and respect family choices would inevitably result in people choosing to leave the district.

    There is no reason for a drop in Franklin's enrollment. Franklin has been a very strong school with a long waitlist for decades. Enrollment has simply refused to move that waitlist. This same story repeats with dozens of schools at this point.

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  7. The cuts at high school are seriously problematic. Unless there was an already unfilled vacancy, that was NOT on the master schedule, it is beyond disruptive to make cuts after the school year starts.

    High school is the master schedule. It is a not a homeroom based model. As such, each teacher has approximately 5 classes and 150 students. If you RIF two teachers at Roosevelt, that is 300 classes that just vanish from students schedules. It is highly unlikely that a month into the school year, those students can be absorbed into other classes.

    Please note, this is not a simple process of picking a few lightly enrolled classes. Because you need to RIF a person, that person's entire roster is disrupted. IMHO, the primary reasons why SPS has such a challenging time hiring world language teachers is because world languages bares the brunt of this RIF and re-hire nonsense. RIFing a math teacher is impossible because math is a graduation requirement. However, world language is a new requirement and historically, just an elective. World language programs have suffered substantial instability over the last 6-8 years as enrollment projections have been highly varied at secondary.

    For the last few years, the third day of school counts for high school have been much higher than expected. Over-capacity high school struggled to get students any classes. As graduation requirements are prioritized first, many students found themselves in the position of switching to Running Start. Running start, will start on Monday. Student who suddenly find themselves with schedule problems won't be able to use this back up program.

    Note: Every time I mention Running Start people post about how their student chose Running Start. Many students do make this choice on purpose (including mine) but the shifting numbers over the first few weeks of school, make it clear that more than a few students are nudged in that direction.

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  8. And 1.4% is a HUGE discrepancy. 1.4 off of a 5 year projection is barely a rounding error. But this 1.4% off of a THREE month projection.

    IMHO, this entire problem is because of too much rigidity on the part of downtown with regard to enrollment and staffing. Downtown believes they can allocate staffing in February and make only minor adjustments by limiting choice.

    Historically, staffing allocations were made in multiple batches. There would be an initial allocation before open enrollment and then a big adjustment post open enrollment and then multiple adjustments as schools got a better idea of what their population was doing.

    Downtown has the silly idea that choice is what causes all of the staffing problems and that if they just eliminate all choices that students would then behave like widgets and show up where they expect them to show up. The problem isn't the choice system.

    Families have choices other than SPS. Historically, there have been significant numbers of families who chose to live in Seattle but attend public school in other districts. Now with charters, families have more choices.

    As Eric noted, downtown keeps promising that more restrictive enrollment policies will result in more stability. However, every increase in more restrictive policies have resulted in enrollment drops.



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  9. I am wondering how the opening of new private high schools also impacted enrollment. We know quite a few who went private this year. Also, some families probably don't want the disruption of their kid having to move over to Lincoln in 10th, which is also an unknown high school at this point.

    Also, the superintendent did mention on the KUOW interview they would have to be looking at cutting both programs and teachers. That was also mentioned by the previous superintendent in an email to families over the summer due to the budget crisis. They are not cutting teachers right now but moving them. wonder if by moving around teachers first, it will enables the district to cut certain programs later like a world language?
    KL

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  10. LOL - back to the Thought Exchange! Just when I thought I had shared all my (many, many) concerns, SPS gives me even more to write about. Hooray!

    Welcome to Seattle, Ms. Juneau.

    Flummoxed

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  11. Plus one to Kellie's comments particularly her 8:28 am poost. I am counting the years until I am done with SPS. I like the individual schools my kids have attended but the central bureaucracy is maddening. I feel like so many issues are done to make administration easier - not what is in the best interest of kids and families.

    The whole waitlist thing is maddening - kids are only moved off the waitlist if it won't result in any staffing changes. Even if there is capacity at the school.

    Jane

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  12. Former Souper9/21/18, 9:48 AM

    775 students would have provided the district with approximately $11M. This number is quite large. With such a large number, I understand the reason the district wants to cut- now.

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  13. Well sure, Former Souper, but if that is the case, how did they get so far off?

    They seem to want to say that it's a huge amount of money but really, in the count, not so big.

    They can't have it both ways.

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  14. They are saying they are only 7.5 million off, though, not 11 million. Something is off with these counts.

    Agree that this proves their experiment to not move waitlists in order to keep staffing stable was an utter failure, and they should return to previous "capacity" definitions. It is ok if teachers move to schools where students are going (if there is physical capacity) before school starts. It is NOT ok to move teachers around, especially high school teachers, after classes have begun. I can only imagine the impact this will have on thousands of high school students.

    NJP

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  15. I'm puzzled why the response to this isn't to try to attract some of the 17,682 Seattle students who went to private school in 2017-18 (according to OSPI). Some of those families would be hard to win over, sure. But so, so many of them would have been happy at a public school if only the district had moved the wait list for the school they wanted. There are a lot of reasons people pick a different school than their assigned neighborhood school. Look at the wait lists for Franklin or Hazel Wolf or Cleveland.

    Why doesn't SPS care what families want? A lot of families are paying $10,000-$30,000 a year for private school. It wouldn't take very much to convince a lot of them to stop paying that. If you have 2 kids, you could donate $5,000 to the PTSA and still come out way ahead financially. Unless you just sit on the wait list for the school that you want, that had physical room, but someone decided... NOPE.

    Lure families from private with excellence, SPS. Do it now!

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  16. Without true honors and highly capable opportunities, expect more students to flee public schools.

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  17. I am beyond angry.

    I was one of those parents who attended a lot of the Kids Not Cuts meetings. At that time, our school (which was physically considerably over capacity) was on the chopping block. It caused huge disruption to lose an elementary school teacher.

    This year when school started, it just felt so much more comfortable. We were still over capacity, but not by as much. That was because they changed the school boundary. But now, guess what? Yes, our school is losing a teacher, and the other boundary changed school is gaining a teacher. Who didn't see that one coming?

    Everyone in enrollment projections and capacity needs to turn in their resignation. Has anyone seen their 5 year projections? A high school stats class could put together higher quality and more accurate projections.

    ANGRY

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  18. Next year we’ll see this happen at Washington. Last year 712 students attended WMS. Only 329 lived within the school’s boundaries. The other 383 chose to attend the school and have other public school options - including a guaranteed seat at their neighborhood middle school.

    Unless the district replaces the principal, I predict they might as well close the school next year. The only students enrolling there will be those who live in the attendance area and that boundary as drawn is too small to sustain the school.

    It may happen sooner than that. HCC students can choose to return to their attendance area school mid-year.

    Fairmount Parent

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  19. Nova Supporter9/21/18, 10:47 AM

    Three points:

    (1) The 2.0 FTE cut from Nova is devastating to students and the schedule at this point in the year. It would see 15% of enrolled classes disappear overnight, and necessitate essentially starting from scratch on the schedule and trying to register all students for new classes. It would cut 1 of 2.5 history teachers and 1 of 3 math teachers, making it nearly impossible to offer students the core credits they need to graduate. It's also shortsighted and unfair to base FTE on a Sept 5 count, as Nova's enrollment increases significantly every year after October 1st and at the beginning of 2nd semester.

    (2) The district claims to be reducing Nova's funding as well because it's receiving "double money" for IEP students. Nova accepts one of the highest percentages of IEP students in the district (30%+), including many high needs students on the Autism spectrum. It does a wonderful job with these students, and penalizing Nova for working with these students is patently ableist.

    (3) In my opinion, Seattle Public School's lack of support for innovative and nontraditional schools and magnet programs has a lot to do with the exodus from the district. Many Nova students come from out-of-district, homeschooling, and private schools. Consider a simple comparison to Tacoma Public Schools, which has three excellent newer magnet high schools (an outdoor STEM themed high school, an Arts magnet, and a new industrial arts magnet) as well as multiple magnet and nontraditional elementary or middle schools. Tacoma's overall attendance has held steady, and the rate of private school attendance in Tacoma is less than half of Seattle. Where is the support for choice, innovation, and diverse learning styles in Seattle Public Schools?

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  20. It's week ...Two? At WMS still doing "getting to know you" activities in 6th grade. No regular predictable homework, no evidence of any work at all in the core classes. No syllabus. No communication from teachers.

    Is any teaching going on at WMS? Is this principal for real? Is this district in more chaos than ever?

    Taxpayer

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  21. Honestly, I don't pay much attention to Seattle Public Schools, but when I learned yesterday that the District was planning to remove two faculty positions from my son’s school NOVA, I felt I needed to say something. Here’s part of an email I sent to the District:
    ====
    Dear Superintendent Juneau,
    It came to my attention today that the District is considering removing two faculty positions from NOVA. Please don't. ...
    Unlike other schools in the District, NOVA provides a superior educational and learning environment uniquely benefiting certain students for whom more traditional education is simply not a good fit. … Why weaken NOVA when it represents such a strong and positive link in a chain for a population of students for whom there are no better alternatives? Please reconsider and maintain current NOVA faculty and staffing levels.
    ====

    Why was NOVA singled out to to bear such a disproportionate burden? Why was the turnaround time only a couple of days (Thursday and Friday) with notifications going out on Monday?

    To me, this whole process feels more tactical and anything else, which again leads leads me to wonder, why NOVA and not larger schools for whom the cuts would be much less impactful?

    Let’s hope it’s not too late for the District to reconsider.

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  22. As the enrollment numbers were not released along side the staffing cuts, it is challenging to know whether or not these cuts are appropriate or valid. Historically, many of the these September cuts have been "strategic cuts" not true WSS cuts, as such school communities will need to be very vigilant about these cuts.

    The WSS is supposed to be a floor for funding. In other words, to create stability, schools are promised a minimum of staffing based on X enrollment. The WSS is pretty slim and was designed and intended to provide ample funding for mitigation for schools with special circumstances.

    Some of these cuts are appropriate because the students just aren't enrolled at that particular school and there is no need for a teacher. In the past, some of the cuts have been strategic at schools where some efficiency could be found or where downtown was confident the parent community could fund the teacher.

    At the moment, there is no way to either agree or disagree with the cuts, because of the lack of enrollment data. With the deliberate absence of data, there is only conjecture and precedent. The precedent does not inspire confidence.


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  23. @Kellie "The WSS is supposed to be a floor for funding. In other words, to create stability, schools are promised a minimum of staffing based on X enrollment. The WSS is pretty slim and was designed and intended to provide ample funding for mitigation for schools with special circumstances. "

    However, maybe they are making these decisions under another lens, the race & equity lens which they stated in the letter. It is frustrating that some of the most overenrolled schools were told they would be losing teachers. Seems like an oxymoron.

    PT

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    1. This is why we need a working definition for equity. My understanding is that equity means you add more to schools that need it.

      Downtown can use any lense they want. It would be helpful if they were more transparent in the decision making. Historically, many schools have been directly instructed to raise the money to save the teacher.

      That is certainly one version of equity. Olscheski used that definition. Our current PTA based hyper fund raising model started with a direct instruction from Olschegski for affluent schools to self pay so that there would be more money for schools that needed it.

      Delete
  24. One of the reasons why the teacher cuts will not match the shortfall is that there will be some schools that are over their projections more than enough to cause a teacher to be added. Some schools will receive displaced staff.

    In some cases, the district will decline to add staff, thereby pushing the school under the WSS. This soft cut is real as over crowded schools will be understaffed but those cuts won’t be on this list.

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  25. I agree on needing to define equity.

    In the final year of the old Schmitz Park facility, there were more portables than classrooms. There was no ability for kids to have PE twice a week because the gym couldn't accommodate that many kids. The PTA helped fund a part-time dance teacher, just so there were two times per week for kids to get their wiggles out. Dance was held outside, with a roof and a chain link fence. The dance teachers kept getting sick, so the PTA had to kick in for an outdoor heater. I am sure this was viewed as "equitable" downtown.

    I would love to spend my time advocating for and raising funds for Title 1 schools. But I feel like I keep getting sucked back into the drama of SPS. Guess where the portables are now? At Madison Middle School. Guess the first question I asked Superintendent Nyland on his intro tour? Tell me how SPS is planning to accommodate all of those West Seattle kids in overcrowded elementary school when they enroll at Madison. What was the answer? "Oh, we'll look into it."

    WestSeattleParent

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  26. One of those years when Schmitz Park was so over crowded, SP was one of the schools that did not receive an added teacher. I was horrified. Frankly, I thought SP should have gotten mitigation dollars and instead they were short funded.

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  27. Yes they need to define equity. They also need to clearly define what they want to achieve specifically at schools with lower levels of achievement and truly determine what is obtainable.

    And what if just throwing more resources (& taking away like a bottomless pit from other schools) does not impact outcome? And what if the expectations are unreasonable? Is it reasonable to expect 100% of kids passing state tests in majority minority schools or do we need to create classes of five students per teacher in order to do it? Is that reasonable?

    Seems like there should also be measures to ensure what they are doing is working and I would add not to the detriment of all other students.

    Perhaps adding more money or resources is not as beneficial, as utilizing a different targeted intervention.

    Those with means will continue to be able to afford to send their kids to private schools that prepare them for the best colleges and careers. While middle and lower class kids will languish and fall further behind with even less resources in their public schools.

    Recent leading research I read on the achievement gap by Reardon (out of Stanford) is providing data that the black-white achievement gap has narrowed significantly, while the income achievement gap has widened drastically due to income inequality, especially between working as well as middle class and the rich affluent.

    https://nppsd.socs.net/vimages/shared/vnews/stories/525d81ba96ee9/SI%20-%20The%20Widening%20Income%20Achievement%20Gap.pdf

    https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2018-05-28/income-inequality-exacerbates-the-achievement-gap
    WC mom

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  28. HCC Parent - expect highly capable children WITH PARENTS WHO CAN AFFORD IT to flee public schools. Having affluent parents in the Seattle School system is no prize - you keep your PTA money and have your segregated schools - why should the rest of us care if you stay public or go provide? At least you'd be paying your fair share at a private school.

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  29. There are plenty of advanced learners in Running Start. There is at least one board member that thinks Running Start is a great way to meet the needs of advanced learners.

    If you want dollars in the system, recruit Running Start and private school students back into the public school system.


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  30. Anon for this9/21/18, 11:32 PM

    We are one of the families who just left for private at the middle school level. I wanted a chance for my child to feel like they mattered to their teacher, and that the teacher knew who my child was. This is not an insult to the teachers my child had; they were doing the best they could and I could tell they worked hard, but my rule-following child—easy but one who just needed acknowledgement from a school figure—didn't have an urgent, must-fix-now need and therefore, never got attention. It kind of amazing how this child is doing only three weeks in wth teachers who have a small classroom and can acknowledge her. She likes school again.

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  31. @Seattle Up- I agree with you, but I would also add that there is a major majority of affluent & upper middle class Non- HC students fleeing to myriads of private schools in Seattle. The 2017 statistic had over 17000 enrolled at private schools! That's 30% of the SPS students enrollment population.

    The affluent "HC" qualified kids can be served well at Lakeside, Evergreen, Seattle Country Day, a few and finite number of spots. They are also schools that prioritize admission for "legacy" applicants who have parents etc who graduated etc.

    Also, I happen to be a parent of a student who qualified for HC services, and the latest income figures indicating who is middle class in Seattle, places me far below. We would receive aid in private school, but cannot afford the remainder, cannot afford private. Besides I believe in the value of public education.
    WC mom

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  32. Maybe parents of affected schools should consider going on strike. Picket at JSCEE. Demand the central office staff be cut before any school teaching staff are cut.

    BTW, the SSD has a long history of sabotaging alternative schools. IDK why, but it definitely happens. Although it was a financial stretch, we moved our son to a private school starting in middle school because, although I work for the district, I find the policy and procedures to be untrustworthy, and their treatment of innovative principals to be appalling (yet they keep and often promote the rotten tomatoes).

    Sped Staffer

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  33. @Seattle Up- I should also clarify I agree with you regarding this statement, but not the rest of your post. "HCC Parent - expect highly capable children WITH PARENTS WHO CAN AFFORD IT to flee public schools."

    Regarding segregated schools, that would apply more to non-hc students attending their neighborhood schools than Hc students. Hc students may even be being bussed out of a more affluent neighborhood school into schools with higher FRL.

    And having families with diverse incomes sending their kids to Seattle public schools is hugely important for our public schools, as well as society! Big picture please. So I don't agree with that sentiment.
    WC parent

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  34. "Having affluent parents in the Seattle School system is no prize - you keep your PTA money and have your segregated schools - why should the rest of us care if you stay public or go provide? At least you'd be paying your fair share at a private school."

    What an ugly sentiment but if that's how you feel, okay.

    But "affluent" parents keep programs going. Do you think that SPS is how Roosevelt/Garfield have great jazz programs? Nope, it's parents. That robotics team at Ingraham? Parent-driven. The list goes on.

    Yes, most PTAs keep their money but know what? If there's an out-of-town field trip for kids at most high schools, the PTA uses money to provide scholarships so any child who wants to go can go.

    I know in past years, the PTA at Garfield provided the funding for tutoring after-school for students who were struggling.

    So sneer all you want but painting any group of parents with a single brush makes you wrong in other ways.

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  35. Thanks, Anonymous. (Next time give yourself a name as we don't print anonymous comments.)

    "Nova parent here. The proposed cuts speak to a basic ignorance of how Nova functions. In a district with too few alternate options, and with a school that serves a high number of vulnerable students, this ignorance on the part of the district is not only embarrassing but unconscionable. The district should be supporting alternate education, not undermining it. Thank you very much for your in depth coverage of this issue. You are an invaluable resource."

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  36. @ Seattle Up, I suspect that the people fleeing SPS for private are more likely to be NON-highly capable students from affluent families than HC-qualified students, as there are very few private schools with "gifted" programs. Many private schools don't offer much in the way of differentiation, nor do they provide multiple levels of the same class. Incoming private school students are often forced to repeat courses they already took in elementary or middle school--are forced to take classes below their current level for the sake of class unity of whatnot. Parents of students working significantly above grade level aren't likely to want to pay a boatload of money so that their child(ren) can repeat a bunch of classes. I think you have a misconception about how private schools work. HCC isn't perfect, but it is by far the largest advanced learning opportunity in Seattle.

    At to "paying their fair share," what are you talking about? Affluent HCC parents pay taxes and levies that support public education regardless of whether their parents make us of public education--and they probably pay a lot more than many others because they probably have more expensive houses. Affluent parents in HCC also tend to give a lot to their PTAs--in both time and money. How are they not paying their fair share? Are affluent parents of non-HCC students also not paying their fair share, meaning it's affluent families in general who aren't paying their fair share? Tell me, which groups in SPS would you say ARE paying their fair share?

    inquiring minds

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  37. People who either can afford private or who can get full rides at private can leave SPS. Those people are the canaries in the coal mine. If they leave, it's an indictment of the quality of the education SPS delivers. They are kids at all points of the spectrum of academic ability.

    So, Seattle Up, if you care about quality of education you should hope fewer families choose private education, because it's a big indication of quality. And yes, the PTA money we used to donate that was used for field trip and after-school scholarships, and for extra support for kids who needed more help learning, that money now goes to our private school, to pay for scholarships for kids who can't afford private school.

    Hostile Much?

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  38. I am what you would call "affluent parent". I believe in public education as the cornerstone of our democracy. BUT I did pull my kid from SPS and transferred to a very expensive private school because his IEP was not properly served.
    I still have three kids left in SPS.


    Not arrogant, just honest

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  39. Michael Tolley has stated numerous times that he doesn't believe in nor support "Alternative Ed." He's systematically cut as he's been able, and, in some cases, has used staffing cuts to undermine otherwise successful programs.

    Former SPS Insider

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  40. I believe the flight of families from SPS can be laid at Tolley's feet. I'm surprised that it happened so fast given the large influx of new families into the Seattle area. Amazing that Tolley was able to alienate so many families so efficiently. I hope Juneau can stem the tide. I think it is clear what she needs to do. We got a pretty good education from SPS but would probably not go the same route if we were starting kindergarten now.

    -Cynic

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  41. Not arrogant, just honest-
    You do realize that your “expensive” private school does not have to follow anything in your kid’s IEP? Private schools are not bound to federal special education laws at all. So good luck with your “expensive” private school.

    Private does not equate better

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  42. Public schools must provide IEP services to all students who qualify, even if they attend a private school. The public schools must also provide transportation for the student. The services take place in the public school during school hours.

    Sped Staffer

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  43. Sped Staffer-
    Exactly. The private school is not required to do anything for students with IEPs. It’s up to public schools.

    Private does not equate to better

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  44. Hilariously (at least to me) one of the top legislative issues for WA charter schools is...more money for Sped. You think?

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  45. @ Private does not equate as better, not necessarily, but in many cases yes. The private school may not HAVE TO follow the IEP, but that doesn’t mean they don’t. There are also other factors that can make a particular private school s better fit for a particular kid: curriculum, teacher-to-student ratio, other support staff (counselors, nurses, etc.), classes offered, school atmosphere, etc. in other words, it’s not all about the IEP, and it’s not a given that a private school won’t implement an IEP. If private works better for this SpEd family—as it does for ours—what’s the problem? Nobody is making any promises that it’s a solution for all.

    Gone girl

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  46. I agree with Gone Girl. Some of the cost-saving measures that SPS implements end up exacerbating the problems students with IEPs experience. In a more appropriate, supportive, child-friendly learning environment, even without many of the IEP steps being implemented in the classroom, things can go better than in some of this city's public school classrooms. It can be really hit or miss in SPS with a student who needs something that many teachers just can't seem to grasp because they haven't experienced it personally.

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  47. I remain confused about how re-assigning teachers save money -- can someone explain? Is it that you save money by re-assigning a teacher, rather than hiring a new one?

    zb

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  48. ZB - My understanding is that cuts to achieve the lower budget were achieved by not hiring for open positions so no existing employees needed to be fired. So then some schools were short staffed because of these unfilled positions or more kids attending than planned. Some schools were overstaffed due to lower enrollment than planned. Then the district had to make decisions about how to deploy the limited employee pool they had.

    TH

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  49. Troublesome news from Thurgood Marshall today in regards to displacement. Three 5th grade classes have been condensed into two and a half. That means that there will be one 4th/5th grade split, which I am not sure how that works. What I really don't understand is why the students in the class that is being taken away didn't simply get divided into the remaining classes. Instead, kids are getting pulled out of the two 5th grade classes to be put in the split, my kid included. Why the disruption to students who have just gotten settled into the routine? Seems like they are making this more disruptive than it needs to be. Is this normal when split classes are being created? Feeling very frustrated.

    TM Parent

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  50. Today there is a protest/sit in at Garfield in response to a re-assignment of a PE/Health teacher. All teachers and students apparently in the gym.
    GHS Parent

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