Thursday, March 4, 2010

Funding issues hitting home

On request, here is a new thread for discussing the funding shortfalls for next year.

To take one example, the PTA at Lowell Elementary just sent out a message saying that the school needs to choose between only one of a half-time counselor, increasing the librarian from half to full-time, and a half-time math coach. Class sizes also will increase, a reading coach will be lost, and there are no funds to pay for playground monitors. Most of this is due to district funding cuts, but part is also due to donations from parents being lower than the PTA expected.

I have heard that Thurgood Marshall faces similar funding issues, though perhaps even more severe due to loss of Title I funds and even lower PTA donations. Does anyone know the details?

Update: On the situation at Thurgood Marshall, in the comments, Meg Diaz writes:
Thurgood Marshall is getting eviscerated. The ALO program will take the worst of it.

The ALO program is somewhere over 85% FRL. The influx of the APP program has reduced the "school" FRL to 44% ... A school needs to be above 55% FRL to receive Title money ... Thurgood Marshall will lose nearly $200K in Title money ... Pull-outs for math and reading? Over. FRL population receiving tutoring from tutoring companies that are paid with title money? Over. Bussing for before-school programs for kids qualified for FRL? Gone. A classroom teacher? Buh-bye.

Last year during the closure process, multiple APP parents posited to the board that moving APP into the Thurgood Marshall building would put the kids already in the building at risk, because it would very likely cause the school to lose massive amounts of funding and resources that those children really, really needed, simply because the FRL % for the building would be changed. The board insisted that this would not be the case, that they would look after these kids and that, in fact, having APP in the building could benefit them. Diversity! Enrichment! Access and equity! Unicorns and rainbows!

Just as predicted, the neediest kids in the building have lost huge amounts of resources because of the influx of a program with very different demographics into the building.
Update: There is now a discussion of the situation at Thurgood Marshall over on Seattle Public Schools Community Blog.

Update: Meg adds:
[This] is entirely due to a decision the board made, which was actively questioned by parents (and the change in FRL and its effects on the ALO program was an issue that was raised). The board and staffers insisted that the kids in the ALO program would not suffer as a result of placing APP in the building. And it's just not the case.
Update: There is now a second discussion on this over at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog.


Shannon said...

[Note from the moderator: This comment was moved from another thread to this one.]


We had been warned – the budget situation for next year would be tough. Last Monday, the Building Leadership Team met for a budget retreat and learned just how tough it would be.

After paying staff and basic overhead, Lowell has approximately $93,000 of “discretionary” funds to allocate. This discretionary funding covers some basic office essentials, such as paper for the copier and office staff time. Once you subtract out those costs, Lowell has approximately $45,000 left. The BLT identified three possible options for spending the remaining amount of the discretionary funds. Each of these three options would use up virtually all of the funds; in other words, we can do only one of these options:

1) The District will pay for a .5 Librarian in the building next year. Lowell could use the discretionary funds to bump that person to full time.

2) The District will not pay for a Counselor next year. The funds can be used to provide a half time Counselor.

3) Next year we will have multiple split-grade classrooms – possibly one more than this year. The BLT teacher representatives made themselves very clear – it is nearly impossible to teach math at two different grade levels at the same time. This year we have had a .5 math coach in the building teaching math to half of the split grade classroom students. The funds could be used to retain that math coach.

In addition to facing elimination of two of the above options, PCP will be funded only for 2.6 full time equivalents (FTE). This year and in past years, we’ve had a full 3.0.

Class sizes will continue to be big for many classes – there’s no money to buy additional teachers.

Also, we have profited this year from some additional resources the District threw our way to ease the merger of two programs. They include the math coach, a reading coach, and the supplies brought over from TT Minor. In addition to their academic support the two coaches helped manage the after-lunch recesses. With them gone, we don’t have the necessary staff to monitor the playground. We need approximately $6,500 to pay for recess monitors who could come in every day for a couple hours. The BLT has discussed the possibility of parent volunteers, but unfortunately this simply cannot be a drop-in volunteer activity. We would need to have one parent responsible for putting together a schedule and confirming the attendance every day of at least two other parents, who would receive some sort of training to do that job.

What happens next?

The BLT made its recommendations to the staff, who will make the choice on which of the above will be funded. The final decision will be made on Monday, March 8.

The PTA needs to take this information into consideration when developing the budget (and possible volunteer plan) for next year. The PTA’s annual fund drive is currently expected to bring in approximately $65,000 for next year – far, far lower than in previous years, and nowhere near enough to compensate for any of these gaps, while still providing instrumental music, drama, and the many other programs the PTA funds. If you haven’t yet donated to the Annual Fund, PLEASE - do it now! If you have donated, consider an additional donation. To make a contribution,it's easy to donate online by visiting our website at; or download a pledge form and send it in with your child or in the mail. Pledge forms are also available at the front office.Remember that even small amounts given today help us deal with the coming budget cuts for the 2010 - 2011 school year. We can't do it without you!

To bring attention to the school budget crisis, parents can also write Letters to the Editor of local newspapers, letters to the District, and our School Board representatives regarding funding.

- Janet Pelz, APP parent rep to the BLT and Keith Scully, PALS PTA Co-President.

hschinske said...

"The BLT teacher representatives made themselves very clear – it is nearly impossible to teach math at two different grade levels at the same time."

Well, that's a new take on the matter. So much for differentiation saving the world, eh? Not to mention the description we always used to get of teachers making sure the kids were solid on three different grade levels at once (which never made any sense to me, as they'd start over the next year as if the kids had never been taught at two years ahead before, so it was kind of like that story about the snail going up two feet during the day and slipping back one at night).

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Though this is not related to the budget per se, it is related to the school environment. Lowell's librarian, Nancy Sears, will likely lose her position next year at Lowell. She has little seniority as a librarian, and librarians returning from leave or retirement can take her job. I would love to find out if there is anything parents can do to prevent this. She has only been at Lowell one year (after we lost the great Ms Hudson last year to TM), and it would be great to keep Nancy. If any parents have any ideas of things we can do, I would love to hear about it.

Shannon said...

That comment on Math was one of the main things that jumped out at me. There is a 2/3 split class for my son's grade and over summer, before classes were announced, I asked how that worked. The school told me that that teachers were able to teach both levels through small groups and that it worked very well.

Apparently only well WITH a tutor.

For me, that kind of thing comes before any of the others if it is true. I mean, we all have our views on the math curriculum but if the teachers just can't teach a split grade effectively then they should not be allowed.

hschinske said...

An awful lot of schools have split classes, though -- it's hardly just an APP thing. Most don't have tutors. Heck, my mother was in split classes for most of grade school. She said it was crowded but interesting -- the worst was learning everything in the grade above you from listening to the other kids recite, and then having nothing to do the next year except read the encyclopedia.

Helen Schinske

Dorothy said...

I don't remember there being tutors or coaches helping out at Lowell in the past in split classes (my son was there 2000-2005). I don't remember the math education being all that good, either.

I am not trying to diminish the funding issue, but this is one place where perhaps there's a better solution. Why not group ALL kids by ability or achievement level and have them all walk around and mix up for math? The range of kids in a split class is probably not that wider than the range of kids in a single class. Are those kids being well served? Not in my day.

(It is kinda obnoxious of them to say sure, split classes are no problem, and now for them to admit they can't do it. My suspicion is that historically, some teachers pretty much ignored math and that isn't allowed anymore.)

hschinske said...

Actually, it occurs to me that I at any rate was talking as if the split classes were only in APP, and they're probably not. I don't know what the particular issues are with the regular classes. But they're supposed to be teaching at least some of the kids in the regular classes at up to a year ahead (ALO, remember?), so there's supposed to be that grade span to cover anyway, and presumably some kids need remedial help. Seems to me they should take a leaf from North Beach's book and do creative cross-groupings for math.

Helen Schinske

Dorothy said...

Good point Helen about the reality of the math ranges in regular classes with ALO. View Ridge is doing something similar. I don't know if it is all the grades, but the four second grades walk around to math, to accommodate their needs. Seems like Lowell and TM would be wise to look into VR and NB to see how they manage the scheduling and assessing who goes where.

Maureen said...

I'm thinking this is one of those cases when it is useful to have four (or more) classes per grade level instead of two. With the split, APP has less flexibility in dividing their classes by ability. Schools that only have two classes per grade level risk arbitrarily splitting the kids into 'slow' and 'fast' cohorts (no matter how advanced the kids are on average).

hschinske said...

With the split, APP has less flexibility in dividing their classes by ability.

They never did divide classes by ability, though. Their aim was totally heterogeneous classes, as far as I ever heard. The only time I heard of them using any other criterion than heterogeneity was when they picked the split classes: in the old days, and maybe still, they picked the older kids from the lower grade and the younger kids from the upper grade, so as to have kids who were closer together in terms of their developmental needs (not their academic ones). Apparently it made classroom management a lot easier if all the kids were almost as much alike developmentally (similar degree of wiggliness, similar handwriting, etc.) as a class on one grade level.

Helen Schinske

another mom said...

Helen in bygone years, APP did divide students by math ability. Students walked to different classrooms for math instruction based on a placement test,or were divided into math groups within the classroom. This was true for my kids, but it was many years ago and only for math. Many or most of those teachers are probably gone by now and it sounds like different philosphies abound for teaching APP students.

hschinske said...

Students walked to different classrooms for math instruction based on a placement test,or were divided into math groups within the classroom.

Both of those are compatible with heterogeneous grouping as far as being selected for one teacher's class or another's. I was reacting to Maureen's idea that there would be permanent all-year placements with one teacher or another based on math achievement. So I think we're talking about two different things.

It is interesting to know that Lowell used to use cross-class groupings, though (did they ever go as far as cross-grade groupings?).

Helen Schinske

kanne said...

Regarding Lowell's PTA budget for next year... if you had to choose between drama (all grades) and instrumental music (4th and 5th grade) what would you pick?

I would vote for music but am curious as to what others think.

another mom said...

Helen, I am an old codger. The math groupings happened at Madrona.My kids did not go to Lowell so I have no knowledge of what did or did not occur there. A few APP WMS students went to GHS for math. That is a bit different than cross grade groupings but it was an accommodation of sorts. Has anyone suggested cross grade groupings? Seems like something that would benefit those students who are very advanced in math.

And yes, after reading the other post, I agree we were talking about different things. I no longer have a stake in this just an interest.

Shannon said...

That's a hard one (instrumental music vs drama). My son is a 3rd Grader and we stand to benefit from both next year BUT drama has been a very good experience for him this quarter.

The class did a performance of short vignettes about Homework. He'd never performed before a large audience before but the whole grade did their sketches in front of the Assembly. He was very proud afterwards and it opened a new area for him to feel interested and competent. He's even thought of doing an out of school production. I think that drama is something that is inherently social and community building, thus good for a class, while instrumental music is very good for the individual.

However, many families have already introduced their kids to an instrument and lessons. Unlike us :) I think developmentally, its the right time for those who have not considered an instrument to get a chance to do so.

If I had to vote tomorrow I would say MUSIC but its a sad choice.

Dorothy said...

AnotherMom, your historical take is very appreciated. If only they had continued to be flexible with kids for math.

I don't know how the watered down acceptance criteria is changing things, but in my kid's day, the grade sizes doubled each year. And they were very clear about completely co-mingling the kids. Every classroom, every year, had a third to a half kids new to APP that year, so just about any above grade level work continuing kids had was lost out with the new kids moving from regular classes or Spectrum. So much for any "acceleration."

Sometimes, if you do cross grade groupings for math, it can seem to kids like they are in the slow group, if they are a 3rd grader assigned to a 2 grade math teacher. But having a bunch of split teachers might alleviate that. It could be made clear to the kids that the teachers are teaching a math level they are comfortable with (happiest with?) and that is not related to the grade level(s) they teach for the rest of the day.

Plus, at Lowell, since school tried to meet their needs and all kids were fast learners, they seemed a bit more relaxed about not being the best at something. So there may be less stigma attached with not being in the "top" math group -- as long as the math group they are in is actually challenging.

hschinske said...

I was using "Lowell" as shorthand for "elementary APP", but of course that's wrong on both ends of the timescale now :-)

Helen Schinske

Lori said...

Dorothy, what do you mean by "watered down acceptance standards?"

I'd also like to know if this belief that children entering APP at later grades somehow cause curriculum deceleration is prevalent. As a potential new family to APP, I'd hate to think that we wouldn't be embraced by the community because we are starting later than others.

Dorothy said...

The requirements for acceptance to the program have been watered down over the years, for both the aptitude and the achievement portions. The aptitude portion started including a third section (Helen, help me out here) some sort of non-verbal part, so the student only needed to get high scores in two out of three sections. Previously, that section was only used for ELL students. The reason given was to increase minorities in APP.

The achievement portion started using WASL scores when they became universal. I believe the youngest kids still get the Woodcock Johnson But the WASL for the older kids is a strictly grade level criterion assessment, unlike the ITBS which preceded it. (A friend in Lake Forest Park said her child was given an out of level ITBS for gifted assessment, which would be pretty cheap to administer.)

Additionally, they had more stringent WJ scores needed for first grade enrollment. I understand that was to ensure all students were already solidly reading. Back in the day, only one or one and a half classrooms worth of first graders were accepted. Last I heard 83 rising first graders were accepted in APP?

Also, when my son started as a first grader, there were about 340 APP kids in Lowell. By the time he was a fifth grader (during time of the above changes) there were well over 500 APP kids. An increase of over 50%The school became significantly crowded and all kids lost out, significant reductions in art, music and PE time for all, to accommodate the extra classrooms. This was also the first time the Lowell PTA raised money for a teacher. That was a big change and required debate and vote.

Do not use this as a reason for not moving a child in later years. I hear that curriculum is stronger. And at least in those days, since up to half of each year's grade was new, there was always acceptance. Some kids were always well served in APP, some kids, whether they started in first or later grades, were definitely under-served. But the reason is not new kids joining, the fault is with the adults.

ArchStanton said...

I'd also like to know if this belief that children entering APP at later grades somehow cause curriculum deceleration is prevalent.

While I have concerns/issues with APP not differentiating or somehow becoming watered down, kids entering in later grades don't come to mind as probable causes. If they belong in APP, then they belong and they should be able to catch up.

Anonymous said...

They used ITBS this year for students currently in second grade for the achievement portion at my child's school. I don't know if this is true for all second grade achievement scores. Our school is one of the few that didn't implement MAP this year due to not having enough computers.

Shannon said...

My son joined in 3rd grade this year. The community has been welcoming and he is never made to feel behind or a hassle.

He was clearly behind in writing - at Lowell the kids do a lot of writing from early on - but that was never his strong suit. However, it took only 3 months for him to catch up with the math curriculum and that required extra work rather than the class waiting for him. He was one of only 2 new kids in his class although I believe there were more newcomers in the other class.

Mercermom said...

Our child has adjusted just fine entering APP at the 6th grade level, and when I checked in with his LA/SS teacher to ask if there were any academic adjustment issues we should be aware of, she said she wouldn't have guessed he was new to the program. We did supplement with math pretty consistently in elementary, so we weren't as concerned there.

kanne said...

Back to funding issues...

Check out this letter published by the Times, written by Lowell Mom Janet Pelz. It's really heartfelt.

I SPENT three hours at a budget retreat for my son's elementary school.

And then I went home and cried.

I mean, really, is this the best we can do? Even fewer resources and bigger classrooms while losing the staff necessary to hold the pieces together.

In a stealth attack, Seattle Public Schools eliminated its funding of a half-time counselor position in all elementary schools. In our school, gone too is the half-time math coach critical to teaching students in each of four split-grade classrooms. And there went the full-time librarian — we got funding for only half that position.

Right about now, the School Board is countering, hey wait, we gave you some "discretionary" dollars! You can choose to retain one of those three part-time positions.

Talk about a Sophie's Choice.

But there's more. We'll no longer have a full-time art teacher. They don't give us money to pay for the daily copying of math work sheets for every student, as mandated by the district's new math curriculum.

And here's the worst of all. With the elimination of staff positions, we won't have bodies to supervise kids during after-lunch recess. Instead, we'll hold them in the cafeteria for an extra 15 minutes, and then at the point where the sugar in their system ignites with claustrophobia, we'll shoo them back into their classrooms for the rest of the afternoon.

There is no race to the top here — it's more a free fall to the bottom.

I face the naked truth of these budget numbers with teachers who take on yet another cut with resignation. They've been through this — or something just as dire — many times before. It is to their enormous credit that they don't just walk out and refuse to return until the situation changes.

They remind me of that knight in the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The one who comes out raring for a fight and gets his arm chopped off. Blood spews from the shoulder, but he retains every bit of cockiness taunting his opponent to continue. And so it is with our teachers saying, "I can teach these kids! I can teach these kids!" Whack goes the other arm and still they keep coming back. We laugh while the legs are cut and blood is pouring from where every appendage once was.

But this is not a joke. These are our kids, the people we're supposed to be preparing to cure cancer or end global warming or educate the next generation. These are our kids, the education of whom is our government's top priority as stated in the Washington Constitution: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders."

This notion that we might get around to fully funding our constitutional obligation by 2018 is ludicrous. By the time we start, we've already lost an entire generation. I say to Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, bully for your income-tax proposal, but keep the other taxes as well, because we can't afford revenue neutrality and the cuts you are pushing down the pipeline.

And I say to Seattle Public Schools, shame on you for putting us in this situation. For slashing, with no warning, the school counselor positions. For denying federal Title I support for kids who need it when you closed schools and shifted student populations.

I've heard the stern lectures that adequate funding does not correlate directly with student performance. But I also know what you get when the money isn't there. You get what you pay for.

Janet Pelz is a writer and public-affairs consultant with two children in Seattle Public Schools.

Anonymous said...

Um, so this'll probably win me no friends, but I think this Janet Pelz letter is over the top.

I know we're facing severe cuts, and personally I'd rather the legislature step up and raise taxes than cut into the public education budget.

Nevertheless, I can't but help think that when I was kid, we didn't have a math specialist, a full time art teacher, a full time PE teacher, or an elementary school counselor.

Classroom teachers taught art, PE and took turns supervising the playground.

Is it better to have more specialists and more time for classroom teachers to prepare? I'm sure that's true. All the same, I don't think anyone wept for us or our teachers when we were kids because of our deprevation.

A lot of people in the state are hurting economically. The state is in a severe budget shortfall. I don't think the hyperbolic rhetoric will win the hearts and minds of old fuddy duddies like me, who got a perfectly good public education on less.

I'm not saying I'm happy with the cuts. I'm just saying have a little perspective.

Meg said...

Thurgood Marshall is getting eviscerated. The ALO program will take the worst of it.

The ALO program is somewhere over 85% FRL. The influx of the APP program has reduced the "school" FRL to 44%. SPS, starting in 2009-10, said that 1) schools can receive EITHER Title or LAP money, not both, and 2) that a school needs to be above 55% FRL to receive Title money (side note: both Title and LAP funds are intended to help kids who are living in poverty, performing below grade level or both). As a result of this brilliant policy change, Thurgood Marshall will lose nearly $200K in Title money, and yet the ALO population that was there before APP flooded into the building does not need the resources any less than they did before. The loss of title money also leaves the school at a disadvantage in gaining scholarships for things like field trips and other donations.

Thurgood Marshall's staffing reductions will hit the ALO program hardest. Pull-outs for math and reading? Over. FRL population receiving tutoring from tutoring companies that are paid with title money? Over. Bussing for before-school programs for kids qualified for FRL? Gone. A classroom teacher? Buh-bye.

In 2008-09, enrollment at Thurgood Mrshall was 264. Total FTEs were at 32.1. For 2010, the district projected some 440 kids (relatively stable from this year), and 33.6 FTEs. 180 extra kids in the building merit... 1.5 additional staffers and almost $200k LESS in additional funds.

Last year during the closure process, multiple APP parents posited to the board that moving APP into the Thurgood Marshall building would put the kids already in the building at risk, because it would very likely cause the school to lose massive amounts of funding and resources that those children really, really needed, simply because the FRL % for the building would be changed. The board insisted that this would not be the case, that they would look after these kids and that, in fact, having APP in the building could benefit them. Diversity! Enrichment! Access and equity! Unicorns and rainbows!

Just as predicted, the neediest kids in the building have lost huge amounts of resources because of the influx of a program with very different demographics into the building.

I would be very curious to learn what the benefit is to screwing over a struggling kid living in poverty.

Lori said...

Meg, that's just heartbreaking. Thanks for posting; we need to know the details, even if we don't know exactly how to respond.

ArchStanton said...

I'm not saying I'm happy with the cuts. I'm just saying have a little perspective.

I share some of your views on this and agree that we all may need to tighten our belts a bit, but we should also make sure that we aren't presented with false choices by those framing the debate.

It may be that we need to choose between art/music/library, but let's be sure that everything is on the table not just things that directly impact kids and schools. We need to be sure that the budget cuts are framed in terms of:

art vs.district coaches,
music vs. BEX FTEs,
librarians vs. district travel expenses,
recess monitors vs. Broad residents,
counselors vs. legal appeals (math)

Just because they say we have to choose between art/music/library, doesn't mean there aren't places to trim some real fat

Stu said...

Cross-posted to Harium's blog

The Board was told that this would happen. The Board voted to make it happen.

I'm sure I'm going to end up cross-posting this but Meg's post might be the saddest thing I've ever read on these blogs.

We've all had complaints and concerns about the way things have been going, and, while I believe much of the administration and the board have remained blissfully unaware of the consequences of their actions in the trenches, many of us have witnessed first hand the way decisions have hurt the schools and programs. However, this one feels so much more "evil" because parents, advisors, and experts warned the board about the co-mingling of the populations and the effect if would have on the budget.

Staff and administration salaries need to be slashed; positions need to be eliminated; Broad folks . . . gone; assistants to assistants, gone; the people who've wasted countless millions on the VAX computer should be fired and forced to repay parts of their salaries.

This latest round of budget cuts, to programs that are already bare-boned, are cruel and unnecessary and, for the life of me, I hope that someone in the Thurgood Marshall community can find a way to sue the district.


PS - At the end of "sue the district" I started to write "because lawsuits are the only thing these people can understand" but stopped myself. Why? Because this administration doesn't even seem to understand lawsuits. How much money are they wasting on the appeal? All they had to do, even if they wanted to keep Everyday Math, was to re-examine the process. But that would be too easy; much better to spend the money on lawyers and tell elementary school kids that they can't have recess 'cause the budget for playground monitors is gone!

hschinske said...

(crossposted from saveseattleschools)

Seems to me I remember reading that when APP was at Madrona the district argued for calculating Title 1 funds by the percentage of FRL in the regular program, not the school as a whole. Anyone else remember this? I can't find the original blog post or wherever it was I saw it.

Helen Schinske

Mercermom said...

We just received the TM "Pup Press," which detailed all the cuts resulting from the loss of Title I funding. It also said enrollment was projected to go from 445 to 404. Does anyone know why? Is it concentrated in ALO or APP? Is it a result of the SAP?

Also, won't the SAP likely have a demographic impact on TM? I can't recall what the before and after SAP projections were -- does anyone?

Anonymous said...

Could you outline the cuts that were communicated in the Pup Press for us?

Anonymous said...

The TM BLT and staff agreed to the following for the next year:

- PE, Music, Art will remain at same staffing level (we have 0.8 art this year, PE/Music are 1.0)
- Librarian reduced to 0.5, but she will also be staffed as a 0.5 reading specialist so Ms Hudson will effectively be 1.0
- the 1.5 math specialists are gone with the lost Title money
- nurse drops from 0.6 to 0.3
- counselor will be funded to 0.7
- the bilingual 0.5 is gone
- the 0.5 literacy position is gone
- before school math and reading tutoring is also gone with the Title money

Anonymous said...

Mercermom, the new SAP maps show the TM area pretty small. Unless there are lots of high density in that area, the incoming Kindergarten class should be pretty small, one class at if those kids are FRL, they would be better served going to a school like Gatzert, Leschi, Muir or Hawthorne which still have their Title money.

On the other hand, Lowell's reference area is pretty large. I bet they will have two incoming Kindergartens again. But what if they have three K classes? (Stevens will have 3 K classes this fall) In a few years each GenEd grade at Lowell will have multiple classes, where are they going to stuff everyone?

TechyMom said...

Lowell is projected to have 1.5 k classes and a k-1 split next year in the ALO. I think this is a low projection, because Capitol Hill has had a baby boom in the last 5-6 years, but we'll see.

The new attendance area is not a low income area. It's basically the length of Broadway and half a mile on either side. There are a lot of rental units, but they are not inexpensive. This year's k class is mostly from the old Stevens and Madrona reference areas, and is a pretty affluent and involved bunch.

In short, Lowell's population will be more like Stevens' historical population than TT Minor's. Stevens, on the other hand, is expected to become a much lower income school. I wouldn't be surprised to see it qualify for title 1 in a few years. f

Zookeeper said...

Anon at 9:57: thanks, but you left out that TM is also dropping their 0.5 tech specialist.

Meg said...

So... I got my hands on a district budget document for next year. The district appears to have projected, in the budget document, that Thurgood Marshall will have 443 kids next year, while in the budget allocation the school has been given, the projection is 407. The total dollars appear to correspond (you have to take a stab by using the average cost for each position allotted, as well as any additional dollars allotted for the copier, LAP money, etc), though.

Can I explain why? No. And open enrollment isn't over yet.

Maureen said...

Meg, could it just be the difference between real living human beings and those same kids adjusted for "contact time?" The simplest example is that a kid nominally assigned to 1/2 day K only counts as 1/2 a kid, so one K class of 26 only counts (in 'contact time' equivalent) as 13 kids. Special Ed kids also don't count 100% since a chunk of their time (varies with level) is spent with resource room or other teachers.

TOPS is supposedly taking on a new pre school class of 24 (where they will go is a mystery), but they don't show up in our total enrollment at all.

hschinske said...

This just in from WMS PTSA:

At our PTSA board meeting last week, Principal Halfaker shared an early draft of
the 2010/2011 WMS budget in order for the PTSA to begin its own budgeting process
for next year. Seattle Public Schools are facing significant cuts in funding and
the WMS PTSA Board is writing to inform you of the potential impact to WMS next
year and ask for your support as we seek reconsideration of some areas that have
a significant effect on WMS.
Reductions in the WMS budget are being driven by several factors including:
Loss of state funding for I-728
The new student assignment plan of Seattle Public Schools
Changes in the demographics and estimated student counts expected at WMS
These changes in funding will impact WMS in the following ways:
Reduction of 6.5 classroom teachers
Reduction in counseling staff
Loss of administrative support staff
Loss of 1 house administrator
There are two major issues that are of particular concern to our community. The
District has projected that WMS will have an enrollment of 987 students for the
2010/2011 school year. This represents a reduction of 31 students when compared
with the 1018 students currently enrolled at WMS. Funding for teaching, counseling
and administrative support staff is based on how many students are projected to
be enrolled at a given school, and so the budget is very sensitive to changes in
enrollment. The House Administrator position is subject to all or nothing funding
and is not funded below a threshold of 999 students. This means that the projected
reduction of just 31 students for WMS will result in a cut of 25% of Administrator
staffing of the school.
WMS has consistently maintained enrollment above 999 students with wait lists of
additional students seeking to attend. This causes the PTSA board to question the
projection that WMS will only house 987 students in the coming school year. The
loss of teaching staff, counseling services and administrative support staff are
difficult, but faced by schools throughout Seattle. The loss of a full time House
Administrator position for WMS is beyond what a school should have to absorb and
we would like to see an adjustment to the budget process that would provide, funding
for the majority, if not all of this position.
And, while all of these losses are of great concern, one additional, but perhaps
most significant loss has to do with the available funding for a School Nurse at
WMS. WMS is designated as the north-end middle school for medically fragile students.
This means that the school serves students who have serious medical needs that need
to be attended to while they are in school. The District budget policy provides
funding for a half-time School Nurse in middle schools regardless of the size or
demographics that make up the student body of that school. Historically, WMS has
allocated some discretionary funding in order to have a full-time School Nurse available.
With the overall reduced funding to WMS, there likely will not be the dollars available
to fund this critical position.
The PTSA board feels that the absence of a full-time School Nurse at WMS puts our
medically fragile students at significant medical risk and places our teachers and
administrators in the untenable position of caring for students without appropriate
access to the clinical resources necessary to provide a safe learning environment
for these children. We would like to request that the District reconsider their
budget to provide a full-time School Nurse at WMS.
So now is the time to be heard. Your PTSA Board is asking you to reach out to the
administration of the Seattle School District and the Seattle Public School Board
Members and let them know you are concerned for our students. This issue requires
timely action as the school budget is due to the District on March 24th.
Please let your voice be heard.
Chris Turner & Stephanie Jones
Co-Presidents, WMS PTSA

[board emails snipped for space]