Cuts Happening Throughout Seattle Schools

From Facebook:
I just learned that my school Franklin will be losing 6 full time teachers next year. Other South Seattle schools are also apparently losing teachers. For a district supposedly committed to equity this is shocking. We'll have to either cut out some of our electives ( we already are pretty limited - 1 ceramics teacher, 1 drawing/painting teacher, 1 music teacher, 1 drama teacher in the arts, for instance, so what do we lose?) Or cram more students into core classes if we lose non-elective teachers. I teach English. 65% of our kids speak a language other than English at home. Around 70% are free or reduced lunch eligible. Let's lose 6 people at the Central Office ( I'd like to see the Director level abolished) and keep teachers in the buildings.
There was some discussion about how Running Start students aren't count and therefore, the school's enrollment count drops.  Maybe Kellie LaRue could give us some insights on this issue.

More comments:

Our principal at Eckstein held back tears at this morning’s staff meeting as she shared next year’s cuts.
Dearborn Park will likely be forced to drop the entire language immersion program if we aren't given another teacher...
But also if they make schools less attractive with fewer electives and/or crowded classes, more people will leave SPS for Charters and Private schools. It's a vicious cycle.
And, I think perhaps it’s on us to pressure our elected school board members to make it clear to our new superintendent that cuts at the administrative office must be equal to or greater than cuts to any staff who are directly with kids every day. 
On the heels of the recent generous levy that was passed, many parents will be confused and angry.

At the Ballard HS daytime tour, the principal said he’s projecting losing 15 staff members. The deficit is real, and the impacts will be huge.
Petition to save librarians in schools - yet another huge issue.  

What are you hearing from your child's school? 


Anonymous said…
Where can we find out about cuts at specific schools?

Anonymous said…
These cuts sound absurd. I fully support that cuts should happen in the Central office as well, but cuts that sound as heavy as posted are clear indicators that last year's contract should be renegotiated immediately, with significant cuts to pay (for teachers, principals and Central Office staff). Everyone knew they were unsustainable even to start.

We are going to close "the gap" rapidly if we continue to cut teachers/services and cut off access to advanced learning. We won't do anything about actual achievement gaps, however the optics will look better if we continue to make decisions that make it more likely middle to upper income families who can exercise choice, as well as many who have access to charter schools and scholarships, exercise choice and opt out.

NE Parent
Anonymous said…
High school staffing is based on enrollment, and allocations are equitable as they weight IEP, F&RL, and ELL contingents within a given school’s population.

However, there is also now a mysterious ‘budget fudge factor’ that is capricious: it is called the ‘equity’ factor and it was a subjective slush fund for Tolley to dole out money as he saw fit.

Higher needs populations do need more resources— Seattle citizens embrace & support that notion for equity so that children from impoverished backgrounds get supports so that they can thrive. Delivering those dollars via a CONSISTENT and TRANSPARENT equation so that ALL schools are treated equally, all schools are treated the same is what equity is all about. But, when some schools are singled out for ‘more’ just because.... or when some schools don’t get their fair share because there’s a reverse Marie Antoinette attitude from district staff... that is inequitable and causes damage with cynicism taking root and thereby risking overall support for the system.

Ballard HS will loose staff because it is going to loose the most number of students to Lincoln as Wallingford, Greenlake, Fremont and parts of Queen Anne are shifted to Lincoln. There’s no ‘net loss’, the teaching FTE will follow the student bodies.

Like everything else with this wonky, opaque district, we need clear, simple data breaking down the numbers, school by school, to see how funding lands to determine if it has been fair and in keeping with the funding algorithm the principals hammered out or if there are abuses.

Certain high schools that got “mitigation” FTE over and above their rightful allotment due to Tolley’s ‘largess’ (!equity factor!!) may be in for a rude awakening and will howl in response, not realizing (and possibly not even caring) that they were “over staffed” before and have merely fallen into line now with the rest of the high schools.

Regardless, the formula for HS teaching staff is too miserly and the tweek that raised up student:teacher ratio by 1 body is going to be damaging everywhere and cause many negative unintended consequences.

Schools that particularly ration rigour are going to be more affected because loosing kids to running start dings their budget and with diminished scale, meeting diverse needs of remaining kids will be extra challenging.

Anonymous said…
After cuts to librarians, 8 of 102 schools will have FT librarians (11% of students). Schools with 160 students, as well as schools with 900 and 2000 will have 1/2 time librarians. Libraries will be closed 2.5 days a week. 24 SPS secondary schools’ librarians are being cut to 1/2 time to balance the budget.

Anonymous said…
Reducing last year's astronomical pay raises for teachers to a reasonable level would have provided plenty of money for librarians. This is a manufactured "crisis" by our incompetent SPS administrators. I'm not buying it.

Fed up
Jeremy said…
Ballard is overcrowded and will be losing students to an expanded Ingraham and a new Lincoln. It would be a big problem if it were not losing teachers.
However, there are students that are now being asked to go to their 4th school in 4 years. (In 8th grade, they moved to the new Eagle Staff. They are now being asked to move from Ballard for 10th grade.)

WEA Swap said…
Fed up is correct. Double digit pay increases CREATED a crisis. Teachers bargained themselves out of a job.

This year, the state promised part time teachers $900M. The state is desperately looking for dollars to fund this benefit. Some want the levy to pay for healthcare.

Special education dollars will be distributed to schools this year. They must resist the urge to use special education dollars to fill budgetshort-falls.
seattle citizen said…
Those claiming that the raises are causing this issue might provide evidence that they are solely responsible.
I suspect that the state's levy caps are also shortchanging SPS. My understanding is that during the negotiations last year it became evident that the new state funding formula the state is using was based on an algorithm that negatively impacted Seattle, Tacoma and others.
For instance, the state imagines a higher cost of living in Shoreline than in Seattle.

And I wonder why people are so vehemently demanding a rollback of pay from what is, finally, a somewhat equitable level instead of demanding the state fully fund salaries?
Levy Equalization said…
Seattle's levy capacity provided $4K per student. Other districts did not have this capacity. Thus, levy equalization. So, yes, Seattle lost levy funding, but they were given regionalization dollars to make-up for high costs of living and tens of millions of dollars for teacher salaries.

Do your own research.
Anonymous said…
"So, yes, Seattle lost levy funding, but they were given regionalization dollars to make-up for high costs of living and tens of millions of dollars for teacher salaries."

Then why the current predicament?

Anonymous said…
Do the math - 12 senior staff at range of $211K-$330k+

- Seattle Parent

Anonymous said…
Ballard will be losing students to Lincoln, but it is expected to still be a full school next year. Losing 15 teachers may not be quite proportionate, as I had heard they were only losing around 300 students to Lincoln. It seems like cuts to overall education will definitely impact students. Is there anything parents can do at our schools to save some of our teachers?

Anonymous said…
Lincoln is also expected to open with 400-600 students maximum (2 grades) next year.

kellie said…
To address the question of Running Start and high school enrollment calculations, you need to distinguish the funding formula for high school.

Grades 9-12 are funded using a completely different funding model than grades K-8. Most people are very familiar with the K-8 funding and very few people are familiar with the 9-12 model. The high school funding model is terrible and I wish there was more organized push back on it but ...

K-8 is funded based on the October 1 enrollment count. Every K-8 student enrolled on October 1 is fully funded. As such, school districts are able to staff schools based on that enrollment count. If enrollment grows or shrinks over the course of the year, there are no changes.

Grades 9-12 are funded based on AAFTE - The Annual Average Full Time Equivalent. This is a rather crazy formula that has two big components.

Part 1 - Students are ONLY funded for classes in which they are enrolled. If a student is only enrolled in 4 classes, not 6, the State of Washington only pays 2/3 of that student's funding. This is why high school students are required to become a TA in a class if they can't get a class they need. They need to be enrolled in something, in order for SPS to get the funding.

Likewise, if a student does an online class or PT running start, then SPS will only receive the percentage, based on the number of classes the student is actually taking.

Part 2 - Students are only funded for the month that they actually attend school. In theory this part of the model was intended to inspire districts to stop the drop out rate, by only paying for the average attendance. However, in practice what this really means is that schools district are unable to staff schools based on their actual enrollment. 5% of high school students enrolled in September receive ZERO DOLLARS based on the expectation that they will no longer be enrolled by June.

There is no distinction between students who leave because of early graduation, medical reasons, running start or true drop outs. It is just attendance based. The next effect of that policy is that schools are deprived of the ADULTS that would be needed to stop the drop out rate and a vicious cycle of short funding is permanently in place.

kellie said…
The AAFTE funding model is a problem for all districts in the State of Washington. However, the problems that it creates for Seattle are vastly disproportionate.

Most Washington State school districts have 1-2 high schools. Seattle has 19 distinct high schools.

In a small district with only one high school, the effects of AAFTE are pretty easy to manage. That one school will have larger classes sizes in the Fall and smaller class sizes in June.

But for Seattle with 19 schools, it becomes a much bigger problem where you need to distribute that aggregate lack of funding across 19 schools. It is not a pretty process and it creates serious and substantial staffing instability, because at NO POINT is high school ever full staffed.

This is why there is always a desperate search for high school teachers in October because there is a REQUIREMENT in the funding to short staff the high schools every year based on the idea that some students will leave.

Benjamin Leis said…
We may lose up to 3 FTE at Jane Addams MS despite probably growing next year past the 1000 mark.
kellie said…
As for the situation at Franklin, my strong suspicion that this is a direct result of the enrollment practice of refusing to move Franklin's wait list over the last few years.

Both Franklin and Cleveland have had long waitlists and available physical capacity for many years. There has been this mythology that restricting enrollment at these schools would support the enrollment at Rainier Beach. That is pure mythology, not supported by data and frankly, deeply insulting to the Rainier Beach community. The narrative that the ONLY way Rainier Beach will improve is to cripple the neighboring schools is so deeply toxic that words can barely describe this practice.

Institutional memory has completely lost sight of the fact that Franklin's boundaries were drawn intentionally small, in order to admit choice students. The failure to admit choice students, over nearly five years, is producing the predictable results of declining enrollment and teacher cuts.

High School is different from K-8. These young adults are getting ready to launch and there are hundreds of reasons why one school could be a better fit than another. There needs to be some flexiblity and unfortunately for everyone, that flexibility is being provided by Charter Schools which are focusing on secondary and the SE.

The process of not filling Franklin and Cleveland has driven students directly into Charters and now we start a vicious cycle, whereby losing electives at Franklin this process is likely to accelerate.

kellie said…
As for Ballard, my strong suspicion is that Ballard will not see much of an enrollment drop. My best guess is about a 100 student drop, maybe 200. That would translate to a reduction of about 3-7 teachers. 15 seems really extreme and is most likely the result of some other budget forecasting issue.

70% of high schools families have two legitimate addresses. It is extremely likely that a healthy percentage of families will use this flexibility to remain at Ballard.

Additionally, Ballard has about 120 Running Start students this year, which is the largest in the district. It would be reasonable to expect that number to drop to be more in line with neighboring schools.

Joe Wolf said…
Hi Kellie:

What do you see happening when RBHS is rebuilt and re-opened as a 1,600 seat high school? Thanks.
Anonymous said…
@Kellie, do you have a source for K-8 not being subject to AAFTE? It is my understanding that it applies across all grades.

kellie said…
Hey Joe,

Great to see you and great question, as always.

IMHO, I think rebuilding RBHS is a district priority and the right thing to do. That said, RBHS is not being rebuilt for capacity reasons, so it is challenging to forecast what will happen, when the capacity is being provided for "other reasons" and not as a straightforward capacity solution.

For starters, there are two critical data points when examining SE high capacity. 1) SE Seattle has had excess high school capacity for decades. 2) There are more than enough resident students in that area to fill the schools.

So the problem is not really a physical capacity issue, it is an issue of providing the programming that the resident students want.

The challenge in the SE has always been providing a good reason for students and families to opt-in to the schools. Until Mercer Island and Bellevue recently closed their doors to choice students, students in this the SE regularly went out-of-district. This is no longer an option but Charter Schools seem to be doing a bang up job of filling that role, as the back up public choice.

The process of restricting choice seats at Franklin and Cleveland has been so destructive because this area has always needed to be proactive to give families a reason to pick their schools. Families on the wait list, clearly want those schools and the messaging from SPS has been "so sad, too bad, take what we give you or leave." The enrollment data strongly supports the notion that families have just left.

When even more high school capacity is added to the SE, SPS will need to do some signifiant outreach to attract and enroll families or manage the excess capacity in some way.

Providing a safe physical building is step one but there is still work to do in terms of providing the teaching and learning that families want. When Cleveland was newly rebuilt there was a presumption that the building would simply fill based on the attractiveness of a new facility. That did not happen. The building did fill to capacity shortly after its conversation to a STEM option school and that caused the overall total enrollment in the SE to also grow. The later artificial enrollment caps, did the reverse.

And now that the charter law has survived multiple legal challenges, it is reasonable to expect that charter schools will also expand is SE seattle, because there are plenty of potential students there.

A new building for RBHS is the bare minimum that SPS can provide to give RBHS a fighting change to survive and grow, but the rest will depend on how well downtown manages enrollment for the next few years.

Only one thing is absolutely certain in this conversation. The process of restricting choice enrollment in SE Seattle is great for charters and bad for SPS.

kellie said…
@ SDD,

Full time equivalent or FTE does apply to all grades. AAFTE is for 9-12.

That said when you look at the P223's, the difference in headcount and FTE across K-8 is negligible and not a major impact on building funding. This is primarily caused by "part time homeschoolers" at K-8.

The Annual Average aspect is so destructive for 9-12. For example, if a student misses a few months for medical reasons, the funding for that student just vanishes. However, SPS still needs to have a teacher in place for that student both at the start of school and for the students expected return.

The entire concept is so destructive that I have been shocked that it has not been a priority for either the union or for the PTAs. But that said, the funding is so freaking opaque, that very few people really get just how destructive it is.

Anonymous said…
kellie said: "When even more high school capacity is added to the SE, SPS will need to do some signifiant outreach to attract and enroll families or manage the excess capacity in some way. Providing a safe physical building is step one but there is still work to do in terms of providing the teaching and learning that families want."

Well, if the Lincoln outreach and programming is any indicator of how the district will approach this at the high school level, good luck. People seem to be doing what they can to avoid Lincoln, too.

Re: the funding issue, I wonder how the cuts will impact Lincoln's course catalog and the proposed classes for fall. Does anyone know? With only 2 grades for the startup year, already there were trouble spots (e.g., no science option for former HCC students who took AP Physics in 9th grade, and no math option for those who took AP Calculus AB in 9th grade), and this may further limit some of the options. I assume most students in that boat would have found a way to stay at an already-comprehensive high school, but for any who didn't--or for any students new to SPS for high school--I feel sorry for them. You can't start Running Start until 11th grade, so they'll be forced into part-time homeschooling if they're an edge case. It doesn't seem like the district or principal were interested in thinking about how to accommodate potential outliers.

Was Lincoln slated to get mitigation money for buses to sports facilities since it lacks fields? Would that funding be at risk, too?

all types
Anonymous said…
What are the chances that the legislature is going to increase special ed funding? Or change the levy cap? My guess would be if either of those things happen, these cuts would be much less draconian.

Anonymous said…
I think Kellie's analysis on the negative impact on charter schools in SE Seattle is well taken. I would note, however, that Summit Atlas is kind of saving SPS's capacity crunch problem in the SW. Madison is overcapacity, and there is not a whole lot of room at Denny. Summit Atlas has added 200 seats of middle school capacity to the SW region currently (which will be 300 seats of added capacity next year). Madison already has portables, and it will likely have a huge incoming 6th grade class next year. (Oh yeah SPS, why no enrollment projections for 2019-20 on your website??) I don't see how SPS would have been able to add that much capacity to the SW region quickly. I am not pro-charter, just saying it probably helped to give breathing room to the middle schools in the SW region.

Anonymous said…
Some parts of the city are exploding with growth and overcrowded schools. Yet other parts of the city are losing tons of families leaving for charter schools. I know families who wanted Cleveland as well as Franklin, so badly yet could not get a spot.

It's nuts that they are opening a new high school (Lincoln) that will need mitigation funds to provide basic core classes to a wide range of students, yet are simultaneously facing severe budget and teacher cuts.

Like Starving stated I am also wondering what the chances are that the legislature will act prior to these cuts being enacted?

Anonymous said…
@Kellie, I don't believe you have that correct. The averaging happens across all grades. For reference here:

And also that the 16-17 enrollment numbers are almost a match:

Where HS gets different is in the accounting for things like Running Start and Skills Centers. Also, as you noted, the older kids are the ones who drop out (or graduate early) so those counts change much more over the year.

I know this is a small point in the broader discussion, but if it worked that way it would have been news to me.

Starving, news today in media outlets is that there is a push for about $400M for Sped. Will that happen? Stay tuned.
Jeremy said…
Now is the time to ask the state for flexibility. 180 school year is too short for some and too long for others. The current daily schedule does not properly fill all needs.
kellie said…

As Charlie used to say, I can't tell you want is correct, I can just tell you what the reports say.

The primary point is that high school funding is incredibly opaque and is dramatically different from the familiar homeroom based model used for K-8. And that this legislative practice for attendance based funding, is for 9-12. While K-8 is still funded based on the October head count.

As to your question, and the terminology. Here is the link to the purple book.

Here is the link to the corresponding P223.

When you go through the multiple documents, you will find that AAFTE and FTE are used interchangeably and pretty sloppily. So it makes sense that the distinctions I am using (provided by SPS's budget office) are less than transparent.

Based on your link, it looks like the WAC has another definition of AAFTE and that they made changes to use AAFTE for how funding is provided for "ancillary services" for K-8.

When you look at the P223, you have

total student count - the total number of bodies associated with the high school, including Running Start and Skills Center, etc.
P223 total count - total day to day enrollment, minus the full time running start, etc.
P223 total FTE - the adjustment made for part time high school students and other part time students.

As you can see in the P223, the numbers in all three columns are nearly identical for K-8. For high school there are dramatic differences, based on all the types of part time enrollment. It's important to note that the "total student count" is a new column and makes it so easy to see the full time running start and skill center students.

If you then go back to the purple book, you will find the terms headcount and AAFTE, being used at high school and the term AAFTE being used for all other grades. AAFTE is being used the way you describe for K8. (I think that is fairly new and it used to be FTE, but ... I haven't tracked this that closely)

That AAFTE at high school in the purple book is adjusted based on the attendance. The gap at K8 is minimal. The gaps at high school are huge and represent 2-3 teachers at the comprehensive high schools.

Confused yet? The high school funding is opaque to say it kindly.

Person posting the "cow" link.

Please go look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Is this the person I want to be?"

I don't know the person whose photo you are posting but I know she's a public ed activist like me.

Be a better person and move on.
kellie said…
When I looked at the purple book, I noted a reason why these high school cuts might be so severe.

This year, an additional $5 Million was added to the high school budgets using Core 24 money, via a staffing ratio of 25:1 for grades 9-10 and a staffing ratio of 29:1 for grades 11-12.

I think next year's budget has a ratio of 30:1 for all grades. That is why the cuts are so severe and would easily explain the numbers. That change in the WSS could easily represent up to 10 teachers at the comprehensive high schools.

The change to the WSS was made by a committee of principals. The irony here is that so few people understand the high school funding and how it works via the master schedule, that these draconian cuts at high school may not actually save any money. In K-8, when you change the ratio, you simply increase class size. But when you change the ratio at high school, you change the master schedule and you change the courses that can be accessed by the schedule.

Because teachers just represent slots on the schedule, it looks like you saved money because you cut teachers. However, you won't actually know anything at all until the master schedule is produced and classes are assigned. If students are unable to get the classes they need, they look for other options, and become "part time." As the district only gets paid by the class, you lose both teacher and students, so the cost savings is mostly an illusion as you lose a ton of revenue at the same time.

The legislature has given the district money under the label Core 24. I suspect that this money has not been applied this year as one of the "budget cuts." I know most of the attention has fallen on the loss of libraries at K8. But if these reports are true, the cuts to high school are truly devastating.

Anonymous said…
All blogs require moderation. OU has fabricated some very quaint semantic rules for blogs but they just reflect frustration that Melissa is resisting information manipulation and propaganda.

BTW, thank you Director Harris for your service.

Anonymous said…
Many of us get deleted sometimes. Don't take it so personally. If you keep beating a dead horse, people get tired of hearing it and it's reasonable to get deleted. If you're off topic, it's reasonable to get deleted. If you're being rude or obnoxious or threatening or misleading or any host of other adjectives that do not further meaningful discussion it's reasonable to get deleted.

Maybe sit back, take some deep breaths, and reread your posts a few times (and check that you're on the right thread) before publishing your comment. Even better, since you think your posts are likely to disagree from the perspective of the blog owner and/or the majority of posters (and readers?), maybe take extra time to present your case in a manner that others can follow, with solid evidence to back up your position. That's how to create true dialogue, if that's really what you want.

(By the way, checking on something--even checking with SPS legal---does not signify that one thinks it's a bad idea. That argument re: Leslie Harris is absurd. Confirming that something is ok, even when we're already pretty sure it is and should be, is a good idea, especially for a public official when someone is harassing them and claiming it is not.)

kellie said…
@ Beware,

There are BOTH shifting staff to align with students AND substantial cuts to the WSS over and above any student shifts.

Some schools are being hit with both lower enrollment AND cuts. Some schools have increasing enrollment AND cuts.

The official narrative is not distinguishing which cuts are because of the levy cliff issue and which cuts are because of enrollment shifts and that lack of distinction is causing trouble.

Anonymous said…
Thanks you Kellie for pointing out "There are BOTH shifting staff to align with students AND substantial cuts to the WSS over and above any student shifts."

As Benjamin also stated "We may lose up to 3 FTE at Jane Addams MS despite probably growing next year past the 1000 mark."

@Beware There does not seem to be a transparent correlation between number of teacher cut and shifting populations. Ballard for example is slated to lose 15 teachers, yet only lose up to 200 students max to Lincoln. They are still projected to be well over capacity.

Anonymous said…
So how do we stop these cuts from happening? I've read all 43 comments and don't see a clear answer - and we need a clear answer.

How to prevent cuts is a tall order as they are likely already being enacted.

I have told some Board members that a very clear and transparent accounting of dollars is what is needed. The district’s budget goes up and up and despite new money, it’s still not enough. The district made the decision to give the teachers a raise with dollars they did not truly have.

I don’t fault the raise but, at the time, I had not understood that they did not have the money. It was a poor choice on their part without dedicated dollars.

Clear and accountability transparency of dollars is what is needed plus identification of ALL pots of money, not just some.

I’m ending the discussion here. To be continued.

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