A Bleak Time in Seattle Schools

One issue is the financial situation for Seattle Schools. According to the last Budget Work Session held during the last Board meeting:

SPS faces a projected deficit of $104M - $111 million for 2024-2025. 

I am unsure what raised that amount that had been $104M to $111M but it's not good news. 

Now SPS is suggesting an "interfund loan" where the district would "borrow" about $25-35M from the Capital side to shift to Operations. And "to be repaid by June 30, 2026." (This is a legal option via state law.) 

The district hasn't even made a move to repay the rainy day fund they used up and we are to believe they will repay this money?

I'm absolutely against this so that means SPS is likely to do it. (Not meaning I have sway but I tend to not agree with many SPS moves.) 

I also see "Capital fund interest" which I would be okay with if only because Capital monies seem to have a whiff of being a slush fund. 

Looking at the district timeline for this budget work, the Superintendent is to announce his "Recommendation for System of Well-Resourced Schools" at the Board meeting on May 8th. 

Here's what I think you'll see (and these are noted in the Budget Work Session presentation):

- Changes to transportation. At the very least they will go back to three-bell system and at the furthest end, no transportation to any school that is not your neighborhood school (save Special Education students). They say they will save $9M to which I say, if that IS true, you need to show parents that. This "cutting transportation will save us millions" line has been in SPS for decades and they never show their work.

- Reductions in school staffing as well as school allocations. This will articularly hurt underenrolled schools. However, it appears the Board pushed back on this for allocations to schools besides staffing. 

Reductions in per pupil dollars by 25% at ALL schools. 

Increase in secondary staffing ration allocation from 30.1 to 31.1, aka larger class sizes. 

50% reduction in Running Start Administrative funding at high schools. (They save a pretty meager $100K but it's a good way to keep more kids in their schools and hence more dollars.)

- Voluntary Athletic Fees. I see this as very likely.  However:
Staff are confident we can implement a system for collection to ensure no student would be prevented from participation for not contributing. 

For next year's budget, it appears that "lease or sale of non-school properties" and "program adjustments and restructuring" have been taken off the table.  Interestingly, in this section that "interfund loan" gets up past the previous page's $35M to nearly $37M. 

But on page 16, it says that for 2025-2026 the Superintendent's plan "may include" that school consolidations would be implemented (meaning, 2024-2025 would be the hard year with the announcement of schools they want to close), grade level reorganizations, and program adjustments and restructuring.

But hey, on the next to the last page of this presentation, here is what they say A Well-Resourced School Looks Like:

- Social and emotional learning support

- Connections to the community

- Safe, healthy, and beautiful schools and grounds 

- Stable operational budgets

- Full-time support staff

- Inclusive learning for EVERY student

- Multiple teachers per grade level 

- Art, music and PE teachers

 I'm a bit perplexed. I think most parents want the money in the safe, healthy building. Are the grounds "beautiful?" Not sure that should even make the list. 

Not sure what connections to community means and does "multiple teachers per grade level" mean they will not have any school with just one teacher in each grade level?


Anonymous said…
Teachers Unions take pride in protecting the members’ jobs and pay raises. Forget about how the individual members can educate their students or contribute to the society’s well-being. Some teachers do take advantage of the sham union job security and do and say whatever they want. Admins are not unionized but obviously not required to care about the ROI of taxpayers money, especially at SPS where they “me too” the union raise %. Not a single one of them had any thought of giving up a sliver of the ridiculous amount of increase in their salaries since 2018. Never minding the educational and financial outcomes their poor quality jobs have produced.

When you say the “capital funds” it’s not supposed to be a single account for all the money. Capital funds are collected from the public based on the levy promises for the purported specified communal assets. Which ones of those promises is SPS violating by “borrowing” to keep their entire aggregate pay raises going on and on?

On top of that, when they do levy taxes for the district, it must be a prerequisite to have a board that provides strong oversight. I’d be fine with $100 million or more if SPS had oversight and transparency. But I despise a levy for even $0.1 million with the current administration and board that have neither transparency nor oversight. Forget about accountability or honesty. Quite frankly, SPS is exceptionally good at turning this public funding system into an oppressive burden on the society.

Staying Bloated
Anonymous said…
Good time to build a new SPS stadium? Whats another $200 million in the hole!

Anonymous said…
These elements of “well resourced schools” are pretty squishy! And sneaky. “Inclusive classrooms” is one way to characterize removing differentiated learning, I guess.

Does this balance the budget though? They’re paying bills but going deeper in debt. When does the state intervene?

Anonymous said…
This bleak situation is 100% the doing of the board and admin. I have zero sympathy except for the students stuck in SPS. And my wish for them is to leave now and go somewhere that values education.

Both my kids started K at SPS and neither will graduate from SPS. Their education is too important to stay in a district that is openly hostile to learning and dismantles programs.

Mag mom

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