Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lincoln APP budget cut

By request, a thread to discuss a new development at elementary APP at Lincoln (Lowell@Lincoln), a letter from Principal Rina Geoghagan that says "enrollment was lower than ... projected" so "Lincoln will be losing a classroom teacher and reducing teachers Preparation, Conference, and Planning (PCP) by 0.5 FTE ... This will necessitate the reassignment of some students into different classrooms."

A letter from the PTA for Lincoln (SNAPP PTA) responds, "We intend to fight this decision ... We believe that this staffing cut is being driven by a budget shortfall, and it appears that schools across the district are not sharing in the burden equally. We currently have an average student:teacher ratio of nearly 25:1, equal to or higher than other elementary schools."


Anonymous said...

My bet is that this another budget glitch because the two programs are combined into one school.

Very likely that between the two schools there would be a loss of .5 PCP and one classroom teacher.

NESeattleMom said...

It would be nice if we had actual numbers available to us.

Anonymous said...

The reason is the District's faulty enrollment projections. The error comes from JSCEE; the school pays the price. No accountability at District HQ (again).

Lincoln parent

Anonymous said...

How do we get a copy of the Oct 1 enrollment numbers? And are any other schools having to make staffing reductions?

I am very upset about this. Can you imagine the number of kids that are going to have to be shuffled around in order to cut one classroom teacher? And my son's classroom is packed as it is (because it's a fairly small space) - I don't know where they would put more kids.

APP@Lincoln parent

Anonymous said...

Do we know yet which grade is likely to suffer the teacher reduction? I agree with Anonymous at 9:12 that this seems to be a problem created by poor enrollment projections. Making individual children, and teachers, pay for the mistakes is truly regrettable. And why exactly, does it take them 6 weeks to recognize this problem? The timing is as unfortunate (and potentially blameworthy) as the decision itself.

Lincoln 2nd grade mom

Lori said...

What I think we need is the formula for the Weighted Staffing Standards (WSS). Last year when we were projected to have 550 students, we were allocated 22 teachers. We have right around 530 students this year and 21 teachers, which they want to cut down to 20 teachers.

Our class sizes are as big as every other schools' numbers. We don't have any freakishly small classes to "compact." In fact, I'm pretty sure our smallest class this year is bigger than our smallest class last year, yet no one demanded we fire a teacher last year.

The way my brain works, I see not only having to split up one class, but perhaps even having to make a split grade class so that all classes stay below the threshold where the teachers would get extra pay. Think about it. If money is so tight that we have to let staff go in late October, surely there is no money to pay teachers the extra funds for taking on 28-30+ students.

These numbers don't look right to me. I think we are being cheated based on WSS, but I can't prove it. My letter to the district (working on it right now) will include a request (demand?) that they explain the math.

I hate to post conjecture and I hesitate a little to fan the flames, but at the same time, you can't wait til the house burns down to sound the alarm! The lack of transparency on this is concerning. Had there been a district-wide memo discussing the need to align every school with the WSS based on October 1 numbers, we might be more understanding.

But given what they've put our community through recently, I've just lost faith.

The district needs to consider the human costs of these decisions. Our kids got kicked out of Lowell on short notice. Their bus rides have been made longer this year for absolutely no discernible reason. The district threw some wood chips on the front lawn of Lincoln and calls it our "playground." Our kids waste precious time climbing 4 flights of stairs multiple times per day because they are housed in a facility designed for teenagers. The supplies we shared with McDonald are now gone and we have to fight to get things replaced, like computers and projectors and library books.

And now the district wants us to tell our kids that we have to fire one of their teachers and make all their class sizes really large because there's no money, yet again, for us.

I'm tired of feeling like a punching bag and I'm tired of constantly "advocating" for my daughter and her peers to simply be treated with compassion and respect. We keep hearing about "equity" being the district's biggest priority, yet where is the equity for our kids? I'm philosophically opposed to charters, yet I find myself this morning thinking that local autonomy might indeed be a good thing.

Sorry to ramble. I'm just at my wits' end at this point.

Steve said...

Tracy Libros at the District just forwarded me the link to the October 1 enrollment data. You can see it here:

According to this data, APP @ Lincoln had 524 students as of October 1. I haven't yet dug into the data for other schools, and we don't yet know if any of the other schools suffered staffing cuts.

Also, I don't yet have the data about enrollment projections. Tracy said she will find these and send them.

- Steve

Lori said...

The SNAPP Facebook page is acting strange today. Some posts are not showing up.

So... here's what I just posted there.

Last year, our projected enrollment was initially 550 students, and the WSS formula gave us 22 teachers in that scenario. That a ratio of 25 kids/teacher.

We started the year with 524 kids and 21 teachers. That's a ratio of 24.95 kids/teacher.

We are now being told that our student:teacher ratio is too small and we need to cut not only a classroom teacher but 0.5 FTE of either music, art, or PE.

Now, in my world, there is no difference between a ratio of 25.0 and 24.95. Any normal person rounds those numbers up!

Or, let's do the math this way. With 524 kids and a desired ratio of 25.0 kids/teacher, we need 20.96 teachers this year.

Again, any normal person rounds 20.96 UP to 21, rather than DOWN to 20.

I'm no school budgeting expert, but I look at these numbers and just can't get them to make sense.

Can anyone help explain this to me? Is this *really* how WSS is supposed to work?

Anonymous said...

This district so pathetic. Why not fire someone at HQ that will have no impact on kids and keep a dang teacher who will have a huge impact on kids. The removal of a homeroom teacher at this time is cruel. I am very concerned about the emotional security impact this will have on kids. Why are we not doing right by these kids.


pm said...

I've been looking at the district webpages, trying to figure it out and I can't. Here is what was originally budgeted, but it definitely doesn't correspond with the real current staffing because there are only 2 first grade classrooms. I don't know enough about the number of classes to figure out how the existing FTE compares to the budget sheet found here:

This site also lists the total number of free and reduced price students at Lowell as 4. I fuond that quite shockingly low. Even Laurelhurst had 32 FRL students. The FRL number also affects staffing, so maybe that is the source of the budgeting problem?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to include the number of ELL and spec ed kids when considering WSS. Makes a big difference to school budget and staffing.


RosieReader said... Follow this link to find Charlie's Mas's recent comment in the post "Wednesday Open Thread" of the "Seattle Schools Community Blog" explaining why the reduction of staff in this situation makes sense. Not saying you have to agree with him. Just saying you should read his calculations/explanation.

Greg Linden said...

Just to make it easier to follow that link, RosieReader, let me post a direct link to it:

Anonymous said...

Rosie - Charlie used outdated budget information - so his calculations are incorrect. He assumed we have 5 second grade teachers. In reality, we have 4 second grade teachers.

2nd grade mom.

suep. said...

But Charlie's calculations are wrong because they are based on outdated numbers, as Lori points out in her comments following Charlie's.

Those of us actually in the school are more likely to know how many teachers we have.

Lincoln needs strong leadership that will go to bat for our kids and make our case to the district.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you at Lincoln. Our school lost staff because we were one (!) student short last year on the October 1st date.

Charlie Mas said...

Whether the budget numbers are outdated or not, the WSS formula is still the same.

suep. said...

But Charlie, if the school already has one fewer teacher than the district realizes, wouldn't this mean its calculations are off by at least one FTE?

Anonymous said...

Let's get it together people. BIG BIG showing on Monday night at Lowell APP. We're not going take it!


dw said...

A loaded question:

Do you think this would have played out the same at Thurgood Marshall?

Don't you think Julie B would have figured out something, anything to avoid losing a classroom teacher a month and a half into the school year? Or done more careful planning in advance to ensure this type of situation didn't come up. Or at the very, very least, made sure that the community knew well in advance that it was a possibility and had time to brace for the impact.

Sadly, the effects of the split are still playing out years later.

Anonymous said...

Re: Lincoln APP:
Unfortunately Ms G (and the Ass. Principal) doesn't have the knowledge and the experience to do the same than in TGM.

Anonymous said...

"Let's get it together people. BIG BIG showing on Monday night at Lowell APP. We're not going take it!"

Please let us know what time exactly on this coming up Monday (Oct 22) and what are you planning. Will there be a meeting (inside, outside)?

Pm said...


You have got to be kidding. Nobody can plan ahead for cuts that don't fit the WSS formula. Nobody can understand where this is coming from. That's the whole point.

dw said...

Pm, frankly I don't think it would have ever gotten this far at ThM. I think Julie would have seen the potential for problems and been on top of it from the get-go. Even if something like this came in and totally blindsided the building, she's been around long enough to know how the system works and have various tricks and tools in her back pocket. Seriously, I think she would have shut it down before it even became an issue. Most of the families would be blissfully unaware that she had worked her magic.

I'm not trying to deify her or anything, but when you have both brains and experience, and you're truly a strong advocate for all of your kids all of the time, there are a lot of clever non-standard ways to keep your building running smoothly. She's a master, and Lowell/SNAPP lost out with the split.

Anonymous said...

DW - from what I heard the executive directors were told to make cuts - so they got together in a room and came up with their cuts. Thanks to Nancy Coogan, Lincoln is now being asked to cut 1.5 teachers. I don't see how having Julie B as principal would have made any difference. I think Rina G is doing a great job trying to respond to a difficult situation.

APP@Lincoln Parent

Anonymous said...

As a Lincoln parent who thinks Rina is doing very well, I have to agree with DW about experience being critical here. A more experienced principal might have made fewer new hires at the beginning of the year, for example, in anticipation of faulty enrollment predictions from the District. I have seen principals at other schools with lots of experience in the system minimize the impact to their school (as much as possible). I'm sure this is a learning experience for Rina and that she will navigate these murky waters more effectively in the future.

Lincoln parent

Anonymous said...

If it is true that Nancy Coogan made this decision, then EVERYONE call Nancy (206) 252-0103 NOW. even if not call anyways.....


Anonymous said...

Problem is if you staff inadequately, you may not get the better teachers, but what's left in the pool by October. Included in that pool will be the new hires who because of low seniority are the first to go when their schools have to shed teachers because of lower enrollment. Talk about strategy, planning, and luck.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is how can they post their enrollment data that shows in Sept they projected APP to have 523 kids. Now Oct 1 they are showing we have 524. If we needed to make changes it should of been done in Sept. Here is the link enrollment data for APP at LINCOLN on Sept 10th vs Oct 1 go to if you look at the Sept 10th numbers vs the Oct 1st numbers the way I read it we PICKED UP ONE STUDENT. So if this was a problem why did they NOT correct it Sept 10th. Why wait until now. The Sept data APP is on page 96 (scroll down) to find the page and Oct Data is on Page 98. In Sept they projected us at 523 and now in Oct they say it is 524. I want some transparency with their numbers. This is really traumatic to all involved and just not ethical.

Anonymous said...

Oct. 1st is the deadline for ALL schools. While I dislike the loss of staff, I just don't want to sound over-the -top about this. It sounds like other schools have lost staff over low enrollment, and some have gained. I like to find out more info first like: is this budget cut across the whole district and affecting all clusters? That kind info should be pretty straightforward stuff and would go far in explaining why we're seeing what we are seeing.

pausing to parse

Anonymous said...

If Lincoln is being unfairly targeted to receive these cuts, that is unacceptable. But is that what is happening? I have no idea.

Of course it is terrible that this staff cut is happening in mid-October, but that seems like a district-wide problem.

--Lincoln parent

Anonymous said...

You are ALL invited:
Monday, October 22nd parent meeting in the library @Lincoln at 7:00pm- hear an update and possible contingency plan.

Also from the website:
PTA Call to Action: Save our Staff!
- SEND LOTS OF EMAILS TO THE DISTRICT - that’s you, your partner, grandparents and any other concerned adults!
- Call (206-252-0180) and/or fax (206-252-0209) the superintendent’s office and express your concerns

NESeattleMom said...

Survey of APP @ Lincoln parents will be coming out very soon. PTA meeting scheduled for Thurs. Nov. 1.

NESeattleMom said...

Survey will be available for APP @ Lincoln to respond to so the PTA board can have a feeling for parents' priorities/views. The survey is not yet produced.

Anonymous said...

What happened at the meeting last night?

suep. said...

Apparently someone asked if the school could instead cut its new asst. principal instead. Sounds like a better solution, especially if the district assigned the second principal to Lincoln based on overestimated enrollment numbers as well. It does beg the question, why should a school have two principals when it doesn't have enough students to keep all its teachers?

NESeattleMom said...

A question about the meeting where savings in transportation costs and savings in administration costs were discussed, do any of these savings affect the required lay off of 1.5 teachers? Does the budget tally up everything and if you save in one area, then you can expand in another, or is it basically there is a formula that you have to use, and other savings are not connected?

Anonymous said...

Elementary schools automatically get an assistant principal if they have more than 450 students under WSS. The initial project number had Lincoln far above 450 students, so the vice-principal position was never in question based on the enrollment change.

The better question would be how important is having the assistant principal for Lincoln? There is a waiver process to bypass WSS. Lincoln is a school that has gone through many changes and has a new principal. Is it helpful to have a 2nd in command right now? What do the staff want? In some schools, they have a lead teacher who is willing to undertake some admin duties. Is there a teacher willing to step up and take on such duties if Lincoln got the ok to shed the assistant principal position? If parents say they are willing to trade an assistant principal for a classroom teacher, are they willing to suport Ms. Geoghagan as she tries to perform the work of two? (That may mean less response to parents' queries/complaints, less time available for meetings, etc.) We are a very vocal and demanding bunch. Can we live with that and check each other?

Anonymous said...

I think having the asst. principal is very important. I think not having one will lead to principal burnout. My oldest went to John Hay. About 3 - 4 years ago, our principal only had a lead teacher (who spent half her time teaching in a classroom and half her time assisting the principal). It was really hard on our principal. And John Hay is a much more stable school than Lincoln (i.e. they've been in the same school for a long time, have a pretty stable student and parent population, and have a lot of long-time experienced teachers). I think it would be expecting way to much of Ms. Geohagen to manage a 525 kid school, a lot of new teachers, desire to find a new math curriculum, move to project based learning, deal with all the operational and kid issues that come with any school, etc.

Lincoln parent

Anonymous said...

Here you go- district wide staff adjustments:

NESeattleMom said...

Re staffing adjustments chart posted above this comment, it says APP at Lincoln needs to add a 0.4 Sped teacher. Do any of the teachers there have Sped certification? And how would that relate to "pulling" 1.0 teachers? Maybe no relationship....

Anonymous said...

The assistant principal should spend time with students, teaching. The principal at Franklin teaches a class. Its time to reward contact hours with students

Anonymous said...

Re: Lincoln Survey and supporting our Teachers

Perhaps you don't have a child in the third grade, or the second (which could also be affected if the 2/3 split happens). I don't have a child in the fourth or fifth grade. And yet, I've been supporting instrumental music for three years. My point is that we are all in this together, and not just Lincoln of course, but every single SPS school. That is why I supported an income tax, even though it would have hit my family, and that is why I support the levies, they pay for teachers in all schools.

But to bring the focus back to Lincoln, please do understand that even if your individual child may not be affected, I hope that when you fill out the survey, you will choose to support the school as a whole, just as I personally support all schools as a whole District, and support the all of the students and our essential, hard-working teachers.

Plus, with the loss of .5 PCP, indeed ALL lincoln kids will loose some art, which I think is absolutely essential for young kids. Or, it might be music or PE, I am not sure which, but whatever it is, all three of those are vital.

Please support the effort to avoid the 1.5 teachers cut.

Lincoln Parent and Public School supporter

Anonymous said...

Here's my issue with paying for staffing- it sets up a really bad precedent, and gives an out to the district. I've given money to Lowell/ Lincoln ever year, served on the board, volunteered quite a bit, and totally understand the disruption of losing a teacher. And yet, I think that parents paying for staffing is a really bad idea. What incentive will the district have to fund us next year?

Anonymous said...

The art teacher's been in the district for a decade at least, which would mean music, if PE is mandated...?


Anonymous said...

Realizing I actually don't know how long music's been here either...

-Old Timer, fogey doesn't know what's what. :)

Anonymous said...

" issue with paying for staffing- it sets up a really bad precedent, and gives an out to the district...I think that parents paying for staffing is a really bad idea. What incentive will the district have to fund us next year?" Oct 26 12 5:26 PM

I get what you're saying; my sense is no family wants to raise money to pay for staff now or ever, for so many good reasons. Its not sustainable, its not a reliable way to staff a building, its too burdensome, the focus of a PTA should be enhancement, not basics, its not equitable across all buildings, etc. We agree.

If the District had told us on upon the 4 day counts, Sept. 9, that our building had to loose a teacher and half a PCP teacher, I wouldn't have liked it, but I would have lumped it. Recall two years ago at Lowell we had a 4th day count shuffle triggered, where the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades were affected.

But, this is different. Per the District proposal, 10 classrooms out of 20 total would be affected. Unlucky soles in the third grade would be demoted to a classroom of the second grade. (To avoid that, all of the 5 remaining 3rd grade classrooms would be overfilled and the PTA would have to foot an estimated bill of $11 to $15K.)

The critical piece is STUDENT LEARNING. If an existing teacher got 6 additional students in 9 days time, tell me, how would that teacher fill out a report card? Host a parent-teacher conference? In terms of academics, how would that teacher provide an appropriate stretch for those students or support areas of weakness over the course of the next 4 weeks? Answer is they couldn't, because those 23 students aren't known to any homeroom teacher except their own. And that is only addressing the academics, it is not even touching the social/emotional piece, which is equally as important. How much differentiation do you think would go on in a classroom that was overfilled? How would that impact student learning for the balance of the entire year? There's a reason there's a cap on student numbers in the early primary grades, and that cap of course holds for all classes in all buildings.

As a result, I plan to pay funds towards avoiding a massive disruption for 44% of our students ((93+137)/524). Again, I would not do this if it was Sept. 9. But, it is not, it is going to be November, and it is too late.

I'm furious the District didn't do this back in September, but I am not going to cut off my nose to spite my face by not participating in the fund drive, because that only hurts children.

Keep in mind these are the kids who got pushed out of Lowell after the school year ended, losing friends to TM, plus they were not able to say goodbye to their buddies, this was also the grade who experienced instability last year in terms of some teaching issues. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, children should have 'bumps' to develop 'grit', but this current 'bump' impacts student learning too greatly to go down as proposed.

Would I rather my 'donation' be spread equally across ALL buildings who are suffering this same fate? Absolutely! That's why I voted for income tax. But, that didn't happen, so, although I am willing to pay more for the benefit of all, I'll instead support the levies in February and in the meantime donate to save students.

I hope you join me.

As for the District perceiving our rescue efforts as some kind of sign it can 'underfund' our building and discriminate against these children, that is false and a red herring. The District staffs all buildings the same with standard rules (WSS, FRL, SpEd). So, what we do will not affect how we or any other building is assigned FTE next year.

Regardless of whether you choose to participate in this effort to mitigate the impact on students, I do hope you write to the District to let them know why they must change their ways and be responsive to changed enrollment (by all of 6 students) in a far more timely manner.

Lincoln Parent and Public School supporter

karen said...

Nice e-mail Lincoln Parent at 8:46 AM. I am voting against the BEX Levy due to this type of insanity. It's 6 kids as you mention and almost 1/2 the school is negatively impacted? The worst part of it is the obnoxious answers to complaints sent out by school board members. This is unacceptable. This is one time I'd actually support a lawsuit. And, not just for L@L, but for any of the schools seeing this type of disruption. Some had far fewer kids than expected so maybe it won't be such a big impact, but it is very alte in the year.

Anonymous said...

How does voting against the BEX levy help to change this? You're only hurting the kids by doing that. Nobody in SPS is held accountable by BEX pass/fail. Please reconsider.

Anonymous said...

Is SNAPP allowed to pay for staffing? Didn't McGilvra get in trouble a few years ago for "buying down" class size. I thought that the district put a stop to it. Or is this apples and oranges?

-confused about PTA-funded staff

Anonymous said...

McGilvra no longer pays for general teacher staff, because if they added another staff member the district would just add another 25 students from other lower-performing schools in the area to get back to the usual student/teacher ratios. (Never mind that they would be way beyond bathroom/lunchroom capacity, but that ship sailed long ago.)

Lincoln may be able to get around this, though, since there likely aren't add'l APP qualified students who are on the waitlist for the district to transfer.

Anonymous said...

Also, Lincoln isn't buying down class staff. The current teacher-student ratios are within the Weighted Staffing Standards. This is a one-time fix to try and maintain some level of stability at Lincoln which has gone through a huge amount of disruption in the last couple years.

Hopefully the District will commit to making any staffing changes due to changes in enrollment in early September rather than waiting until the end of October to notify schools that they are losing staff.

Lincoln Parent

Anonymous said...

Oops - that should read "Lincoln isn't buying down class size..."

Lincoln Parent

Anonymous said...

If you're paying a teacher's salary so as to avoid classes being split-grade and/or much larger (which is my understanding of what will happen if we lose the teacher proposed by the district), you're buying down class size. I support doing it, but let's be honest about it. If the PTA didn't have the money to pay for this teacher, classes would be larger -- which is what would happen at other district schools in the same situation who can't muster the same resources.

I agree that this may be "one-time" fix. But I bet if it happens again next year, the PTA would pony up again.

Like I said, I support paying for the teacher, but I think we all need to recognize that if this happens, it's a fix that wouldn't work for most other district schools.