Tuesday Open Thread

Get that ballot in for the Seattle Schools’levies; even The Stranger says yes to them.

There’s a levies rally this Saturday, the 9th, at Cascadia in support of the levies from 10-11 am.

Another snow day.  I have been seeing rumblings from parents on Facebook about the school year calendar and there being three snow days (but one passed in January).  I'm surprised at the number of people who make plans for the last day of school.

In fact, at  Kent Facebook page, one parent had this poll:

So, if you had your preference should inclement weather days be made up:
Extending early release days to regular school days
By having make up days during mid winter break
Having built in snow days (like this year)
Add on at the end of the school year
Students have computers. Count it as a school day.
By having make up days during spring break

Readers, what do you say?

Great new program for students:
The Early College program is hosted on the UW and Seattle U campuses. Twenty 9th graders will enroll at each site, go through high school together as a cohort, and take advantage of tutoring and resources provided by UW and Seattle U. Students will have an opportunity to graduate with a diploma and a two-year college degree.  
This is an “opportunity gap” program for students who are typically underrepresented on college campuses. There is an Open House at the Seattle U site on Tuesday, February 5. Email Steve Miranda at smmiranda@seattleschools.org to learn more.
Editor’s note; The Open House has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 7 pm in Loyola Hall, near the corner of Broadway and Columbia St.

Lobbying for public education in Olympia:
Washington’s Paramount Duty - Wednesday, Feb. 13th, 9 a.m. -- 3 p.m. (Please join us even if you can only attend for part of the day.)
Where: Capitol Campus, Olympia
Why: You can make a difference by lobbying for public schools this legislative session!

RSVP if you're able to attend and let us know if you're interested in carpooling. Children are welcome. Please comment with your legislative district. Thanks!

Questions: contact organizer Emily Carmichael: emcarm@gmail.com
PTSA- Monday, Feb. 11th

Hearing from Senator Jamie Pedersen that he’s not hearing from many parents about public education  funding.  PLEASE contact your legislator and tell them about the needs at your school like nurses, counselors, Sped support, etc.  (I note that the Senator has four SPS students so he knows the need.). Write in support of HB1265 which will increase ratios of school counselors in all grade levels including language that school counselors spend 80% of their time directly with students (and not being testing coordinators).  As well, ask for support for SB 5532 for Special Education funding.

Snoozed thru the snooze-fest that was the Super Bowl?  One big standout: a commercial for X-Box showing how an adaptive controller allows more kids in on the fun.  From LiveAction:
The controller allows for more inclusive gaming, so gamers with disabilities can play with their hands, feet, mouth or head.  Microsoft has had a larger emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility since Satya Nadella became CEO.  Nadella has a child with cerebral palsy.
 What’s on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Please fix this : Kelli Schmidt, Student Civil Rights Compliance Officer - klschmidt@seattleschools.org

Schmidt was gone a longtime ago. I think she didn't make it one year. I have no idea who replaced her or if that position still exist.

Anonymous said…
Because the SPS school year already extends long past most other school districts, students here are ineligible to participate in many camps and internship programs in other parts of the country and world. My sophomore has reluctantly foregone a premier summer program as it begins before final exams do in Seattle, and a second choice (for which already placed) begins immediately after the school year ends. So we are among the families sweating these snow days out.

Our ideal scenario? Having the school year start and end earlier, plus snow/flex days built into the calendar, and I would also eliminate the day off between semesters. That seems utterly pointless to me, especially mid-week.

A shout out to Garfield student Roland Feng who is once again the Washington State HS Chess Champion! He defended his co-championship from last year and also holds the record as being the youngest student ever to win the title. Bravo!

Steve said…
I finally realized that you can control how SPS contacts you about snow days. Log in to the School Messenger site and change your preferences. Of course, I realized I needed to do this after SPS calls at 5:30am Monday and Tuesday morning about the school closure. Sleepy parents with kids amped up on snow fun...
Anonymous said…
At the lower levels - the last few days are very poorly used by the schools usually field day + movies in class. So yes even if days are added if we have other plans we just don't show up.

Anonymous said…
The long school year forced my student to forgo a mission to the ISS and so had to settle for discovering the lost city of Atlantis right after winning the gender neutral world international blind million dollar challenge. The injustice has to stop!

Cooling planet
Eric B said…
FNH, did you talk to your school administrators about your child being absent for that program? Some schools will be flexible about excusing absences.
Grouchy Parent said…
Look, teachers have a whole union to negotiate when school will be session. The district and the unions call the shots. But parents and students are stakeholders, too. Parents just want to know when we can schedule shit. Day care and camp providers want to know when they can schedule shit. It affects adults' ability to show up for their jobs. It affects whether or not little kids are being left home alone. Or with their stoned teenage half sibling. Or with grandma. We are stakeholders and it's not like we're even trying to call the shots. We just want to know what days there's school.

They JUST decided on next school year but now the rest of this school year is up in the air. It's money. It's child safety. It's adults' ability to do their jobs.
Anonymous said…
So what happens if we get more canceled school days? It would be nice to know beyond those three days. And from experience when the last school day is a Monday... many students and teachers don't show up.

And speaking of wanting to know dates in advance, I'd like to know when HS student orientations take place in January, not June, July or a week before it's supposed to take place... Regardless of what type of plans you make (travel, summer camps, work --yes some students work!--) it should be easy to find out when you're supposed to be at school.

Eric, FNH's kid goes to Garfield. There are NO absolutely NO excused absences for any type of academic trip unless it is sponsored by SPS. I wonder whether it's the same for athletes.

-Fly (on the wall)
Anonymous said…
Two of the 3 built in snow days are just days tacked on to the end of the school year. Those don't really seem built in to me. Isn't that what normally happens with snow days -- they just extend the school year?

Eric B said…
Ah, yes, Garfield is special in that way. If it was only a day or two, it might be worth eating an unexcused absence or two. Missing finals gets ugly for grades though.

If a snow day happens before the end of January, then they'll take out the vacation day on the day between semesters. Otherwise, they just extend the school year. I think the year of the strike they cut into mid-winter break so that the kids wouldn't be in school in July.

That's really the other option. We don't usually get snow later than President's Day, so they could add days at the end of school until they hit a Friday, then start taking away pieces of mid-winter break or spring break. Some people would probably complain about having to mess with vacations then though.
Anonymous said…
I really do wonder why the district even pretends they would ever use the snow bus route option with 2 hour delay. Has the district ever used that option? I think today would have been a good day to try it.

Wondering Allowed
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
I just finished my taxes and wow was I surprised that I received over $2000 more back this year than last year. According to the liberals only the rich were going to benefit off the tax cuts. Now I have money to contribute to my daughters school's PTA.

Unfortunately the taxes on the house I inherited from my working class parents will gobble up $1000 of that. Voting NO on any new taxes for the rest of my life.

Stop stealing
Stop Stealing, you must be one of the lucky ones with your income tax because Twitter is littered with people who are furious at paying more.

Voting no on any levies will reduce money going into your daughter's school.

Just a thought.
Anonymous said…
I cry BS Stop Stealing. Every year we have gotten a small refund. I have never had to pay additional taxes until this year. Instead of a refund, I now owe $800. I am solidly middle class. The GOP and Trump screwed us over. Most likely I will be donating less this year because I'll need to save it to pay the US Government.

Anonymous said…
Anyone know the rationale for the "day between semesters" being a no-school day? Besides that it is likely negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement? Teachers don't work on that day, correct? (I thought perhaps it was to give teachers a day to reconcile grades to close out records on the ending semester, but if they don't work, I don't understand what it's for.) Anyone know?

Concerned parent

Anonymous said…
I challenge you, I will wage the $2000 refund that it's a fact.

Do you accept?

I make $90K a year, filed Head of household with 3 children one child tax credit.I have mortgage payment interest deduction and property tax deduction of $8400 but no other deductions. My W4 withholding was set to 13.

My tax refund was $2000 more than last year and last year had 2 child tax credits.

My monthly escrow part of my mortgage payment increased this year by $114 wiping out most of the windfall.

Why do you this it's BS? Run the numbers yourself and you will see.

Stop stealing

P.S. If you run the numbers you will find the population increase of king county and Seattle coupled with the massive increase of taxable homes and apartments more than cover the basic responsibilities of the local government. There is no need to keep increasing property taxes. On my block 4 SFH turned into 16 SFH and one turned into 42 apartments. Do the math and this is just one block that's a $290,000 tax collection increase not counting the real estate taxes and fees that I estimate at $90,000.

juicygoofy said…
The day between semesters IS a snow day. It's just too early.

I grew up in Pennsylvania, where we had a short winter break, no mid-winter break, and a short spring break which was used for snow days. Adding dates at the end of the school year was a last resort.
Jet City mom said…
I also am paying less income tax than we did last yr, but with Trump in office we have also lost $80,000 in our retirement acct during the last two months.

Since we are now retired, we are panicking.
Anonymous said…
That day between semesters was also for snow makeup, but it waited too long to snow. We need to start at least Tuesday, instead of Wednesday; teacher work day could be the Friday before Labor Day weekend. (Because it only takes one day to set up a classroom, LOL) Bag midwinter break and make it a 4 day weekend instead. Add a day to Memorial Day weekend as a make up snow day (eg, don't schedule a vacation for that day.)

Love the idea of bagging the last 6 early release days to make up a day.

It's really hard to pull days from breaks once the year is rolling because of vacation plans. If the days are identified up front as make up days, then it's on you if you schedule something for that day.

Jet City mom said…
I thought that mid winter break was originally implemented to give extra room in case of snow days.
Quite a few districts do not even have mid winter break, &/or not above canceling spring break so as to limit the days the school yr is extended.
Adding multiple days onto the end of the year impacts families whose teens are working much needed summer jobs. Reasoning that you can’t take days away from mid winter or spring breaks because of vacations sounds like catering to families with money.
Granted, median family income in Seattle is six figures, but almost 40% of district qualifies for FRL.
Are those folks going on vacation?
Or are they struggling because they not only have to work, but they have to find child care for their kids during the school holidays?
Additionally, does it make sense for the longest stretch of days without interruption to be at the end of the year when all students can think about is getting outside away from school?

I haven’t observed that the money spent is worth it. Everyone is distracted and lots of movies are watched.

Save some money said…
scrap The 180 day rule. Reduce teacher pay for the missed days. Help cover the cliff.
Hold Accountable said…
"If the district procures both additional state funding and more local levy dollars this year, Berge said that the extra money would be budgeted toward enriching arts curricula, hiring more librarians and adding more mental health services for students. But as it stands now, the district’s special-education programs are particularly vulnerable, with a pressing need for additional support staff."


Remember the district's own words. If the levy passes they will fund art curricula and mental health.
Anonymous said…
According to CNN, the average tax refund is down 8% this year.
fellow retiree said…
Jet City mom said...
I also am paying less income tax than we did last yr, but with Trump in office we have also lost $80,000 in our retirement acct during the last two months.

Since we are now retired, we are panicking.

First, don't panic. These things have a way of averaging out over time unless you are in need of funds in the short term.

But if you lost a significant amount in your retirement account (so did I), then it sounds like your retirement is heavily invested in equities, which is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your age and goals. But it also means that you gained very handsomely over the previous two years. And there has been some recent recovery.

My point? You can't blame Trump for your loss without crediting him for the much larger gains through this past fall. For two years he managed to keep wall street happy, which kept all of our retirement monies growing very strongly.

Now don't get me wrong, I think the guy is crazy and is doing more harm than good overall, but you can't blame him for your losses without crediting him for your gains. It's either both or neither.
Carol Simmons said…
Our ballots have been mailed with 2 votes for each Levy.

Regardless of property tax issues, we cannot take it out on our students and teachers.

Anonymous said…
A teacher told my kid that SPS would just ask for a waiver.
Can they do that?
WEA Swipe said…
There are calls to vote YES on Seattle Public Schools operational and capital levy. They tell us that we need nurses, counselors and librarians; the types of things that parents want for their children.

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.

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