On 2019-2020 Enrollment Totals

JoLynn Berge gave the following report at the Board meeting tonight:

- The district is at about 900 students more than projected overall.
- They believe the October 1 count will be about 53,151 students. This will be slightly above last school year’s count.
- They were 1.7% off their calculations.
- They are adding about 47 FTE across 104 schools (not including mitigation).
- They are “moving” FTE for two Option elementaries and one Option middle school.
- “Principals are thankful we are adding FTE instead of pulling.” Berge said principals want “flexibility” and rather than adding staff may ask for the dollars as long as they meet their K-3 ratios.

The Superintendent said it was impressive that a district of this size was 98% accurate.


Anonymous said…
It’s unfortunate that the public can’t see the benefits of cutting staff when they overestimate student enrollment. This scenario of underestimating enrollment seems more of a logistical nightmare -easier to cut than staff up at the last minute. I guess the silver lining is we can avoid the hand wringing over staff cuts on social media and the news, but the district is stuck with whatever hiring pool couldn’t find jobs for this year. Chalk it up to activist narrative vs reality.

Talent Acquisition
kellie said…
That is some mighty fine tap-dancing by both JoLynn Berge and the Superintendent.

It is NOT impressive that the AGGREGATE number was 98% accurate. Anyone who works professionally with numbers know that is an epic miss.

98% accuracy on the grade by grade, school by school numbers, would be impressive. Even 98% accuracy on a grade by grade aggregate balance would be pretty darn good, if not terribly impressive. 98% on the aggregate is an epic fail, because it averages some pretty extreme misses, in both directions.

Simply put, if the finance department had has access to ZERO INFORMATION and had simply keep everything in the district steady from last year with zero changes, the accuracy level would most likely have been higher than 98%.

Let's call this what it is. The single greatest enrollment projection miss, in recent memory. The "about 900" (which is not a real number) is off-set by the shocking and entirely predictable nearly 1700 student miss at high school. It was only a handful of unexpected drops (like Washington Middle School) that made that 900 number manageable.
kellie said…
If you care about equity, you have to care about teachers. And you need to care about teacher hiring, if you stand a chance to hire truly qualified staff. Period.

47 teachers is a crazy number of teachers to hire after the start of school. Particularly when so many qualified staff were released last Spring. Moreover, this number would have been much higher, had so many principals not converted every penny of their discretionary funds into staff on the "bet" that over-enrollment would replace those dollars.

On an average year, SPS needs to hire over 400 teachers just to keep pace with retirements and resignations. SPS refused to hire last Spring to replace known departures, due to "fictional budget constraints."

Deputy Superintendent Neilson and JoLynn Berge happily defended their budget last Spring, when school communities resoundingly pushed back on comical numbers. They owe everyone a public apology along with some notion of how this won't happen again.

Anonymous said…
Hello Melissa, FYI, the person who posted at the end of the Brandon Hersey thread at 9/18/19, 7:31 PM. using my moniker wasn't me. (The thread is closed so I couldn't respond.) Don't you have a policy about people using other people's names?

Get Overit (the original)
Unknown said…
How do you square this with the fact, as reported by the PTSA on Sept. 10, that Garfield High School has 400 more students than budgeted?
muh said…
It drives me up the wall that, in a city with some of the finest data scientists in the world, AND, multiple academic units dedicated to developing data science for social good, the school district can't get this right. I think they just aren't trying.
kellie said…
@ unknown,

Here is part of the problem.

* The Day 1 count on 9/4 at Garfield was 1812
* The next reported count was 1769
* The most recent reported count to the PTSA adjusted for 9/10 was 1542.

Which coincidentally, now happens to be very close to the budget projection of 1488. Viola. We have a self-fulfilling prophesy and now downtown can sweep the under the run and claim parent histrionics and people who don't understand budget and teacher placement are over reacting, again.

There are only a few reasonable explanations for this.

* Absolute failure to have a counting system that counts. If this is a technical error, the difference between 1542 and 1812 is a huge technical error.
* The district was correct and there is an annual mass exodus, from a very popular school, with a long waitlist and a national reputation. Therefore, it was very wise to short staff this school, in anticipation of this annual exodus and save everyone from removing staff after the exodus
* There is a complete and total failure on the part of the budget office to understand how a master schedule actually works.

kellie said…
So the most natural question is "What happened to 300 out of 400 overenrolled students?" This answer provided by the district is "oh, that's just what happens in Seattle. We need to plan that they just don't show up."

That is a possible answer. Except that answer is not very plausible, particularly, when you are looking at a nationally ranked high school.

High School is the Master Schedule. Every .2 in funding translates to one slot on the schedule. SPS is only funded for each slot in which a student is enrolled.

Coincidentally, the Master Schedule is also a gating factor. Students can ONLY be placed into slots that exist on the Master Schedule. If there are more students than slots or the slots don't actually match what a students needs, then the student has a problem, that the student needs to solve.

The district is under NO OBLIGATION to provide anything other than graduation requirements. Now obviously, counselors and schools work very hard to get student's needs met. However, they can only do this within their budget and the slots on the schedule.

So where did the students go? Technical error and they never existed? Failure to confirm enrollment and these are students who left over the summer? Or these students made other choices AFTER the first day of school, when they did not get classes they needed.

This question needs to be answered or we will have this problem every year.

Unknown said…
Hi Melissa and All,

Talent Acquisition, hiring a teacher in June and cutting them in September is just plain cruel. I've talked to different principals through the years, and mind you: they were all beginning teachers once, they avoid your scenario at all costs.

As far as the GHS numbers are concerned, I've reached the point where I don't trust anything here or on Facebook that deals with GHS. That school is so full of activists and hyper-educated busybodies that it's all smoke and mirrors down there--their PTSA included.

However, I still stand by my previous statement: I believe the district is using this opportunity to hold more funds downtown for Superintendent Juneau's projects and initiatives. She cleared the deck last year, so she's now in position to rebuild with people who share her vision, and that means a lot of dollars to pay the social justice crowd a lot of money to not teach students and come up with ways to keep Seattle's "politics over pedagogy" tradition going strong.

So maybe the crew down at JSCEE is holding student FTE dollars that should go to GHS for faculty, but don't worry, Bulldogs, your beloved Jesse and his affiliates will make good use of those dollars to further inflame tensions.

Stuart J said…
One way to look at where people go is to talk with the community college counselors who help students with Running Start, and see if they get a lot of inquiries after the start of Seattle schools.
kellie said…
@ Muhs,

You don't need a data scientist to figure this out.

This year was simply a case of a management decision to NOT use any of their own data to update their projections that were published in February and likely formulated in December or January. The district then had access to their very own enrollment trends for the next 7-8 months.

Well .. maybe you do need a data scientist to convince the budget department that when you have current data and data that is 8 months old, maybe you should use the current data.

kellie said…
@ SP,

I can't speak for anyone else, but every single number I post has a publicly available source.

Unfortunately the district no longer publishes this information on the website, but all of it is available to the public by either requesting documents from the board office or public records requests.

And yes, cutting teachers in September is just plain cruel. But the solution to that, is a commitment to securing and using ACCURATE enrollment data. Other districts have processes in place where families confirm their placement and receive phone calls BEFORE the start of school to confirm their enrollment.

This attitude of helplessness regarding enrollment data is the real culprit. You need to hire and retain teachers in order to provide education. That should go without saying, but yet somehow with SPS, you need to repeat that often.

And seriously, it is not the worst thing in the world for a school building to be overstaffed by 1 teacher from time to time. The budget can handle that, where it not for the dozens of special projects that are funded via surprise budget surpluses.

Anonymous said…
@ Kellie who said "The "about 900" (which is not a real number) is off-set by the shocking and entirely predictable nearly 1700 student miss at high school"

Yes, you can see this clearly in their budget allocations, versus actual enrollments. 900 seems to be a made up number. They under budgeted just at the high school level nearly 1700 fewer students.

@SP who said "However, I still stand by my previous statement: I believe the district is using this opportunity to hold more funds downtown for Superintendent Juneau's projects and initiatives."

I agree with you. Cutting staff and classes at all our high schools is wrong and does nothing to help those furthest from social justice. I am shocked. Have a listen to Juneau's NPS radio KUOW interview the other day. She stated she had more funds this year to allocate differently to budget priorities. Hmmmm where did this new money come from? I am just a parent, but is the board paying attention here? It's a big deal.

A Parent

SP,you may be onto something. When Juneau was on KUOW earlier this week, she was asked where the money came for the teacher/para raises. She deflected talking about why they got raises and said "McCleary" which is somewhat odd considering they also say the McCleary money is not enough.

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