How to cut $74 million? Here’s what Seattle School Board will look at Wednesday

Seattle Public Schools has warned of a potential $74 million budget gap because of underfunding from the state and the so-called “levy cliff,” both explained here. At a special School Board meeting tomorrow, a long list of ways to make up that gap will be discussed, including larger classes and smaller staffs. It’s now available online – here’s the slide deck:

(You can also see it on the district website here.) The presentation also includes a list of schools are ranked through an equity list the district could use to protect some of the highest-need schools from some of the cuts. Among West Seattle schools, Denny International Middle School ranks highest there.

The board will not be taking final votes on any of these proposed budget cuts tomorrow – it’s a work session, starting at 4:30 pm at district HQ (3rd Avenue S. and S. Lander). The meeting is open for public observation but not spoken comments, so if you have comments for them, you can e-mail P.S. While board work sessions aren’t usually streamed, the agenda says this one will be.

28 Replies to "How to cut $74 million? Here's what Seattle School Board will look at Wednesday"

  • Ex-Westwood Resident January 10, 2017 (3:41 pm)

    Here’s a few ideas….

    1. Cut the administration at the district level. In the 70’s the ratio was 50 students to one administrator. Today it is about 16 students per one administrator.

    2. Quit printing EVERYTHING in several languages. English is the language of the land. Not only that, but think of the money you’ll save and the contribution to the prevention of “Global Warming” by saving trees! 

    3. End forced busing. Return schools the their neighborhoods. This will also increase parental involvement in schools as parents are more apt to go to meetings and events at the local school vice having to spend HOURS in traffic getting from one end of the city to the other during rush hour. And again less drivers; the less “Green House Gasses”


    • WSB January 10, 2017 (3:48 pm)

      #3 – Neighborhood schools were adopted several years ago. Covered extensively here and elsewhere.

    • AMD January 10, 2017 (5:13 pm)

      #2 English is not the language of the land. The U.S. has no official language. You voiced your concern about parental involvement in #3. Printing forms and notices in the languages parents are fluent in enables more involvement from ELL parents.

    • Sealth parent January 10, 2017 (6:58 pm)

      Hey Ex-Westwood,

      If you are Ex, how about you let people who live here and have kids in schools have a say and therefore know what is going on (forced busing?) have a say?  Our schools have an obligation to teach ALL of our children, and yes the kids take English classes in school, but their parents may not, and parental involvement is crucial to student success.  Or would you prefer to see dropouts with all the tax-payer expense that will involve?

    • Curt January 10, 2017 (9:06 pm)

      You are totally on the mark!  Fancy private schools spend less per student than public schools because they aren’t flushing money down the toilet on “admin” aka useless bureacracy.

      • School parent January 10, 2017 (10:25 pm)

        Fancy private schools spend less because they don’t have to accept all students – students with special needs, students with disabilities, students with varying levels of preparation, even students with different levels of English proficiency, and more.  Public schools make a commitment to educate ALL children, and yes, that does cost more on average.

        • Curt January 11, 2017 (6:32 am)

          Not a valid argument.  Students with real disabilities get paid even higher school fees from state, and public schools on graduate about 70% of kids so they aren’t actually educating everyone.  You are just defending the status quo, not trying to solve the problem.

    • Mike January 10, 2017 (10:14 pm)

      “Quit printing EVERYTHING in several languages”

      wow… the only part of that I agree with is ‘print’.  Translating is not only simple and super cheap, it can now be totally automated.  It’s also a federal law that public schools would need to provide that upon request, it’s cheaper to just do it than hire more people to handle individual requests.

      Stop printing everything, could be cut to print a few and utilize electronic messaging more and post a PDF Online.  We live in a tech hub, pretty much THE tech hub now.  SPS needs to catch up.

  • Craig January 10, 2017 (4:09 pm)

    Have a period for the children to package orders and get the school receive pay based on output.

  • FundOurSchools January 10, 2017 (4:45 pm)

    Our great state’s biggest shortfall is that we are not funding the education of our children. We shouldn’t be cutting librarians, nurses, and teachers, we should be funding the schools so everyone can get a quality education! We need to lead by example up here not fall behind.

  • Neighbor January 10, 2017 (4:59 pm)

    It seems like every election we have a school levy, and have since I first started voting in 1983. We have shiny new schools almost everywhere, but no money to run them. Our school system seems to be a jobs program for architects, builders and artists. 

    How did we let this happen? 

    • WsEd January 10, 2017 (5:10 pm)

      Very accurate description.

    • JS January 10, 2017 (7:09 pm)

      West Seattle schools were crowded and crumbling. The most recent new build, Arbor Heights Elementary was almost 70 years old. Leaky roof, leaky lead pipes and was as appealing as an army bunker. It was way past its pull date. Money well spent, in my opinion.

      • Neighbor January 11, 2017 (6:32 am)

        Of course you need to replace or fix buildings when they get in bad shape. No one is disputing that (although I think that some of the schools just needed a good renovation, and some of the new buildings look sort of flimsy). What I object to is that all the emphasis was put on buildings, and not keeping the buildings functioning – very similar to what we went through with the library system: Shiny new Taj Mahals (Especially that ridiculous and impractical Central Library) yet they had to cut hours. Where’s the adults? 

  • WsEd January 10, 2017 (5:08 pm)

    I wonder how the parents are some of these schools feel about the equity tiers that are unabashedly based on race.  And I agree with Ex-Westwood, you could probably cut half of that shortfall from central administration.  

    I have never been a proponent for charter schools, but this system is broken.

  • West Seattle since 1979 January 10, 2017 (5:39 pm)

    Agree that there are too many administrators. 

  • wsgal January 10, 2017 (7:14 pm)

    Sad state of affairs. Seriously. Where is all the weed tax going???

    • Rick January 11, 2017 (7:18 am)

      Probably following the lotto “school money”.

  • TheKing January 10, 2017 (9:24 pm)

    Just shutter all the schools. Let everyone involved explain why you will be homeschooling your children on your own time and dime. Taxes are increasing at an alarming rate and this is the payout. 

    • WSB January 10, 2017 (9:28 pm)

      Administrative cuts are among the proposals in the document above.

      • TheKing January 10, 2017 (10:05 pm)

        I believe the last superintendent of schools Randy Dorn also brought up closing all of the schools K-12 last summer as a way to get serious about this problem. These are strange times indeed. 

  • Wsres January 10, 2017 (9:40 pm)

    Administrative suppor cuts (cutting from the stanford center) should come first. The state legislature needs to fully fund education for sure, but SPS could use more restructuring. Anything that does not directly effect the education of the students should be looked at. Librarian positions greatly effect student education and motivation to read and should not be cut. 

  • Wsres January 10, 2017 (9:44 pm)

    Seriously. Why are district office staff cuts not on that?? How many positions that are based in the standford center will actually be cut? They do not directly work with kids. They should be cut first.

  • WSParent January 10, 2017 (10:10 pm)

    There are also, at any given time, an alarming number of teachers (20+) out on administrative leave. These teachers are removed from their classrooms and replaced with a substitute while they and their careers are held in limbo. Investigations proceed at a snail’s pace. In 3 instances that I know of, the teachers were out of the classroom for up to and more than 6 months. Seattle Public School dollars are paying their full salaries, the salaries of the substitutes and the salaries of the attorney/investigating team. And in all the above cases the teachers were exonerated. 

  • 99% January 10, 2017 (11:56 pm)

    The funding of education has been heavily placed on the shoulders of the 99% for decades so of course we are tired of paying more. IMO, it’s time for corporations and 1% to share the load. It’s about contributing to the future of our state, our society, our country. 

  • Chris January 11, 2017 (6:41 am)

    Currently, there is a teacher shortage and under qualified teachers are getting full-time positions. 

     Young,  energetic and talented people making career decisions who might go into education are  seeing this. Why would anyone want to be a teacher in the current climate?  

  • aa January 11, 2017 (10:12 pm)

     I support admin cuts!  I have had several first hand experiences of working in departments where we could easily handle the work load with less people. It was astounding to see that the stereotype of government workers is alive and well within the Seattle Public School Administration. Who is watching the store?

    I miss John Stanford… 

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