Sunday, December 30, 2018

Amazon Dollars Explained

Update:  here is the list of school funding so far.

The highest funded schools are Franklin at $31,600 and Mercer International at $26,500; the lowest funded schools are Dectaur at $1100 and Cedar Park at $1400.

I would urge everyone to speak to your principal about a school need that could be met with this funding when school resumes.

end of update

As you may recall, I recently asked about the $2M that Amazon had donated - via the Alliance for Education - to SPS "student needs."  I had wondered where it went; here you go. (Bold mine)

From: Superintendent Sent: Monday, December 10, 2018 1:19 PM
Subject: Right Now Needs Funds

Dear School Leaders:
We are excited to provide further information on the Right Now Needs Fund, the new fund created by Amazon and the Alliance for Education. This resource provides every school in Seattle Public Schools access to a designated individual fund to support the basic needs of students, especially students impacted by poverty. The goal of the fund is to provide fast, flexible support to reduce the most basic barriers to learning.

The tenets guiding the fund are as follows:

The Right Now Needs Fund will help school communities meet one-time or short-term urgent needs of students, to enable full participation and engagement in classroom and educational activities.
Students shall directly benefit from expenditures. 

Ongoing school costs such as staffing or other items typically covered in school budgets are not eligible for support from the fund. The fund cannot serve as a replacement for existing budgeted school expenditures.

Examples of appropriate uses for the fund include but are not limited to: food for students and families in need, cold-weather clothing, and school supplies for students.

Each school is receiving a baseline amount of $1000 plus an additional distribution based on the number of students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch program as of October 2018. Attached please find a list of all Seattle Public Schools, their designated individual fund amount and account number. (Editor's note; I'll ask for this list.)

Principals are the final authorizers of requests for funds, but recommendations for support can be made by any member of the school community. The Alliance is working on creating on-line tools for making fund requests, but for now, please utilize the request form attached. Requests can be for reimbursement (please save and include receipts), or to pay vendor invoices. Please make sure any requests align with the tenets of the fund.

Alliance staff are available to offer support and guidance with regard to accessing funds. If you have questions or need information, please call 206-343-0449 or email RightNowNeeds@alliance4ed.org. Please also check the Alliance website at www.alliance4ed.org for updates on resources and other news.

We are so fortunate to have these partners in our work.


Office of the Superintendent

I am a bit puzzled that previously, Budget said the Alliance would make decisions.  It doesn't sound like that but I will try to get clarification.


Clarq said...

Thanks for looking into this. It's still a little murky. Is Amazon ordering pizzas for students whose families can't afford food? Through the Alliance for Education? Huh.

Anonymous said...

There has been discussion about how some schools raise more money than other schools via PTA funds. However, most of the schools that are raising more money also receive a lot less funding due to lower FRL. I was told at our elementary school (low FRL) that PTSA funds are desperately needed to provide many basic needs. I do understand that although high FRL schools receive a lot more funding & have lower class sizes etc. that the funding may be more inflexible than PTSA dollars.

However, I am aware that quite often that higher FRL schools receive much more in the way of outside funding and are also targeted constantly to participate in various resourced programs (corporate, grants, various partnership programs with UW and other colleges etc).

This should also be factored into discussions of equity. The amazon funding is one example of how many higher FRL schools (ex Franklin, Garfield, Sealth) receive much higher amounts of any sort of outside funding.

I really think that although our local elementary raises a good amount of money, they are so resource poor they really need it. When I hear arguments about pooling PTSA money I have some real concerns. At what point is there a baseline of equity that is acceptable at lower FRL schools? Is the idea to just keep taking like robinhood even when the low FRL school is using the funding for basic needs that are covered at higher FRL schools?


Melissa Westbrook said...

PL, "baseline of equity" is an interesting phrase.

However, given that the Board and the Superintendent love to talk about "equity" and yet have still not defined it as it relates to this district, maybe your phrasing isn't off.

It would be interesting to truly tally up all the funds/services at every school. I still suspect that a major difference comes from what can be done at home versus in the school.

Arlo said...

It's just not worse for families to donate money to a PTA instead of buying Seahawks tickets or taking a trip to New York or donating to some other charity. Is it worse to donate $100 to the PTA or the Rainforest Action Network? The PTA vs. the March of Dimes vs. the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation? Donating money to the PTA just isn't the evil it's being portrayed to be by people who wish all children (in public schools in Seattle) had better access to this particular evil. There are many foundations and charitable organizations benefiting some but not all students in Seattle. Do we want a rule that if you donate to one school you must donate to all? What about Satturberg and Nesholm Foundation money, should that be shared equally among all schools/students? Donating money to benefit students is not a repugnance. Living in a district and state and country in which the schools and many students' families have so little money in the first place is the repugnance. I mean, they "forgot" to fund special education. Come on, people.

Anonymous said...

I think before we pool PTSA money we should indeed as you stated tally up funding, services, programs at every school. Lower FRL schools are targeted for interventions continually by colleges and other entities. In fact a friend had worked for a college intervention type program whose services were turned away by one high school because they were just so inundated at the time with other program opportunities.

I agree that home environment, parent resources etc is a hugely important factor in student success. However, not all students at low FRL schools have access to these things either. They may not be FRL, but there is likely variation between students. In addition, there should be some measurable definition or "baseline of equity" across the district. This is especially true when people are talking about pooling PTSA money that may be essential for what many consider are basic services, needs etc. at public schools.