Seattle Schools Week of Feb. 11-16, 2019

Update, Monday night from SPS Communications:

We recognize that school closures create schedule changes that are challenging for students, staff, and families, and appreciate your patience. Make up days are determined though a bargaining process with our labor partner, Seattle Education Association. All options will be considered. We will also explore alternative instructional hours with the state Superintendent's Office of Public Instruction (OSPI). Graduation dates will be reviewed once we have clarity on snow make-up days. No decisions will be made this week (Feb. 11-15) as we continue to manage inclement weather that could result in school delays and closures.

end of update

I'm not going to be posting all the meetings and so forth because it's likely everything will be rescheduled.

Please post any cancellations/rescheduled events that you know of in the comments section.

On Monday, Feb. 11th, Seattle schools will be closed.  However, JSIS will be open.

Tuesday, Feb. 12th is election day for the Seattle Schools' levies.  Clearly, with the weather difficulties, I think there may be concern about ballots getting into ballot boxes/mail boxes AND getting counted on-time.

Also, I thought I understood that for a special election such as this one, the election is required to get a percentage of the ballots from the last election in order for it to count.  I'll try to call King County elections tomorrow to see if I have that right and, if so, what that percentage is that SPS needs to meet.

Naturally, with all the snow days - and only two snow days built into the school year - I see that some parents on Facebook are getting concerned with the Winter break, the Spring break and end-of-school plans.

To note, the state requirement is 180 days of instruction.  The calendar is negotiated with labor partners, primarily SEA, so that is not easy to change.  And, the district has a policy that each school's principal can make decisions on allowed absences for issues like travel.

That's a lot to juggle to figure out the solution to this problem.  And you can add to it that when days get added to the end-of-the-year solely to make up snow days AND kids are watching movies, then it's just the district trying to tell OSPI "yes, we had 180 days of instruction" rather than actually delivering it.

Personally, I think they should take the days out of the Winter Break.  Given that it's a whole week this year (it changes every other year), I would think the SEA would say yes to putting back in days in order for the school year not to stretch nearly to July.

Thoughts on any of this?


Anonymous said…
SEA is made up of a few thousand people who make decisions by a popular vote. The Rep assembly scheduled for tomorrow is cancelled, and with mid-winter break a week away, there is simply no time for the members to get together to make this decision. It won't happen.

School in July?
Anonymous said…
I believe mid-winter break is now back at a full week every year. The every-other-year switch from a few days to a full week only lasted a couple years and we've gotten the full week for at least the past two Febs, from what I recall. Anyway, I too am curious how we're gonna make all this up--without wasting time just letting kids watch movies at school.

Anonymous said…
So far SPS is just one day past calendar-scheduled makeup days. There is an awful lott of complaining about something people should have known is a possibility.

Wondering Allowed
Unknown said…
Principals can also go into classrooms to ask teachers why they're showing movies instead of finishing their curricula--unless they're afraid of SEA.

Anonymous said…
Out of curiosity, what’s to stop SPS from “officially” remaining open during the snow, even if teaching staffs are reduced and few students show up? Do a certain percentage of students need to be in attendance for it to count toward the 180 days?

Anonymous said…
Has the district ever moved back graduation?

almost college
WEA Swipe said…
There are calls to vote YES on Seattle Public Schools operational and capital levy. They tell us that we need special education funding, nurses, counselors and librarians; the types of things that parents want for their children.

Federal funding won't cover special education costs.

Parents dream.

The levy campaign has NOT told you that PART TIME employees will be receiving generous health care packages. Districts must help cover these costs. Across the state, part time health insurance costs are estimated to cost districts $100M. The legislature is trying to figure out how to pay for their portion of these benefits ($900M).

To cover part time health insurance costs, the legislature is looking to increase LEVY funding. Having the state pick-up these costs looks like a long shot.

Assurances that the levy will pay for counselors, nurses and librarians ring hollow, to my ears. Passing the levy will not produce Shangrila for your children. Those dollars will be used to supplement additional employee benefits.

Is there protected bucket of funds for students?
Eric B said…
I don't believe that there are guarantees that the levy money goes to fund staff positions. But you know the 100% certain way that those positions will get cut? If you and enough friends vote no and fail the levy.
Anonymous said…
I've heard but haven't substantiated that because there's a state of emergency for snow that districts can file to not make up the snow days. Anyone know more?

As a teacher I'm torn on the issue, but also the reality of trying to force kids to be productive as June drags out with no end in sight means students may not actually lose that much content. Every day after memorial day is the repetition of "Yes, school is still in session, we are still doing work."

I also try to point students to a number of free summer programs that start too close to the end of the school year (curious what districts they base off, since we all end within a day or two of each other), and I don't want my students missing finals or losing a spot in these programs that they desperately need.

Unclear, I think you do have to have a certain percentage of students to get the funding. Anyone?

WEA Swipe, where is your evidence that this will happen? You make many claims without evidence.

I think districts can ask for waivers but I saw at Facebook that it's for smaller districts.

I believe the district (and SEA) will have an announcement in a couple of days to clarify all this.
Via Twitter:West Seattle Blog@westseattleblog
55m55 minutes ago

"Big question put to @govinslee at briefing - will state be able to waive making up all these missed school days? He says it's up to Supt. of Public Instruction."
WEA Swipe said…
Fore evidence, please read attached article. The article discusses costs related to health care benefits for part time workers.

Here are a few excerpts:

-But the Legislature is looking at proposals to give districts “a little more levy capacity” to cover those costs, Sullivan said.

-If the Legislature doesn’t increase the districts’ levy capacity, some will have to choose between a mixture of cutting programs their families want and reducing employees, he said.

-But Wellman believes lawmakers will come up with a plan that it works for big school districts like Spokane and Seattle, as well as medium and small districts, then spend time explaining it and getting input from the districts. Still, she warns:
“Nobody’s going to be completely happy.”

Do people want levy funding to support healthcare benefits for part time workers?
WEA Swipe said…
Correction: For evidence....
"They’re seeking help from the Legislature, but lawmakers already face a new bill the state must shoulder, some $900 million over the next two years to cover the health insurance and other benefits for school employees throughout Washington who provide what the state considers basic education.

For the school districts, the benefits contract that the state negotiated without them only multiplies their problems."

"On top of those salaries for employees not covered under the model for basic education, districts also face a change in 2020 on the cost of health care. The state has negotiated a new School Employees Benefit package for all public school workers, whether they are basic education staff paid by the state or other staff paid by the school district. Patterned after the Public Employees Benefit plan for state workers, it includes health insurance that is more expensive than many districts currently provide.

The contract the state negotiated also has a different calculation than many districts use for determining when a part-time employee is eligible for full-time benefits.

“It’s a punch in the gut,” Jim Kowalkowski, superintendent of the Davenport School District, said of the higher cost of health care benefits. “Full-time benefits for part-time people? No business does that.”

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said the better employee package – which is comparable to what legislators have – helps equalize benefits for school employees and their families across the state by giving them more affordable health care."

So the district has to figure out how to fix issues that the State created and you are mad the district is going to do that? What they are legally obligated to do because the State set it up that way?

"House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, noted the state will be picking up the cost of 31,000 basic education employees in schools all over the state. The districts will only be responsible for the employees they add to the basic education model.

But the Legislature is looking at proposals to give districts “a little more levy capacity” to cover those costs, Sullivan said."

So the district should not hire part-time IAs or part-time nurses?

It's a bit of a Sophie's Choice NOT of the district's doing.
Anonymous said…
WEA Swipe:
I think people don't understand how many part time workers have huge impacts in students lives. Most of the paras I work with are part time--a 5 or 6 hour/day contract. A good para makes *everyone* in class more successful. A bad para is worse than no para by an indescribable amount. I can't get rid of bad paras if a student has para minutes assigned in their IEP the para stays -- even if the para consistently has the student doing the work incorrectly or interrupts class. Anything the state can do to attract better candidates top to bottom through the system I'm in favor of...

And those part-time workers - most of them, I'd bet - are not SEA.
Anonymous said…
Are people arguing that part-time workers shouldn't get benefits? That seems pretty lame. Most larger organizations offer full benefits if you work over a certain percent time, so I don't see why school districts shouldn't also. It's hard to imagine not offering health insurance to someone who works 6 hrs per day in a germ factory (AKA school). We want them taking care of themselves, which helps take care of our kids, too. It's not like SPS is going to pay part-time workers so much that they can go about buy decent insurance on their own, and it would be a pretty pathetic statement if they were paid so little they qualified or public assistance. I understand times are tough, but all this griping over giving benefits to employees is bizarre to me.

Via Twitter from KING 5:

"State Supt. Chris Reykdal tells me OSPI is looking into the waiver option.
State law appears to allow a max 3 waiver days."

On the issue of needing a certain percentage from a previous election to pass a current election, via SPS Communications:

"The percentage issue you’re talking about applies if it’s a bond. It doesn’t apply to levy ballots. A simple 50 percent plus-1 majority is what is required for passage.

As for the question about the weather: we hope all voters get their ballots in on time, taking extra care and precaution to stay safe as they navigate the icy roads and sidewalks."
Anonymous said…
Adding to what OuttaSeattle expressed above, many part-time staff work with the most challenging student population. Burn-out and staff turnover are high for just the students who need stability and consistent relationships the most. Rapport and trust take a long time with many of those children (autism, severe physical disabilities, behavior disorders). Many other part-time staff do important jobs such as recess, bus duty and lunchroom monitoring. Part-time, part-year gigs that are notoriously hard to fill with qualified candidates. If offering health benefits help attract and retain those staff then I'm all for it.

Also just saw Shorelin email saying snow make-up days will NOT be out of mid-winter or spring break and they are waiting to hear from OSPI. So I'm guessing 1 or 2 days will be waived in the end.

NW Parent
Anonymous said…
I can recall at least one semi-recent time that SPS got a waiver for snow days--2008-2009, when it was a similar multiple-hit of snowstorms kind of situation.

Tired of Snow
Eric B said…
SPS just called to say that Tuesday is another snow day. We have nearly 12" on the ground in north Ballard and it's still coming down hard.
Thanks, Eric, I just heard that as well. Sigh.
Via Twitter from Genesee Hill School:

"As this snow persists, we’re very grateful for the @Alliance4Ed RightNowNeeds funds that helped us get Safeway cards to several very grateful families for provisions before the storm."

That Right Now Needs fund is still there; consider asking your principal to ask for help when school starts.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
WEA Swipe said…
Employee benefits should be covered by the state; not local school levies.

What happens to districts that don't have the capacity to pass state levies? Do those in poor rural districts not deserve part time benefits to support special education?

A problem exists when collective bargaining agreements exceed state funding.
WEA Swipe said…
Problems also exist when the state legislature provides benefits without additional funding.
WEA Swipe, yes, that's all true but it doesn't make it the union's fault. You need to be fair.

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