One school’s story: What education-funding shortfall would cost Lafayette Elementary, and other news from tonight’s PTA meeting

You’ve heard a lot about school funding lately. The school-by-school discussions and decisions are where the toplines become real … and potentially painful. Thanks to Bill Schrier for the photo and report from tonight’s Lafayette Elementary PTA meeting, where attendees heard from first-year principal Cindy Chaput:

Principal Chaput reported to the Lafayette PTA tonight about budget cuts and other news.

On the good news front, the building is a historic landmark. It is slated for a remodel in three years, as long as levies continue to pass. The remodel will not change the interior, but significantly upgrade the interior and systems. In the meantime, she has arranged for repainting of the common areas, which badly need it.

The District has a $74 million shortfall, although $24 million of that is likely to be funded from levy proceeds. At this point, Lafayette is projected to have 415 students next year compared to 460 students this year. Chaput expects the actual number will be 460, and she encourages anyone with a potential kindergarten student to register immediately.

Between the budget shortfall and the District’s lower projection of student population, Lafayette would lose four certificated teachers, dropping from 20 to 16 teachers. It would also lose its half-time music specialist, who works primarily in grades K-3. The music specialist position would be restored if the District authorizes one more teacher. In addition, Lafayette would lose paid playground and cafeteria supervision, requiring teachers and instructional aides to perform such work.

Chaput also reported on how the school spends its $71,000 in discretionary funds for professional development, teacher leadership development, and to help fund the school’s interventionist. The PTA could help by raising and spending $100,000 to fund a half-time counselor, 1 day a week instrumental music teacher for the upper grades, the Writers in Schools program, and library supervision so the library could stay open 5 days a week during the school day.

Chaput concluded by saying she loves the staff and community at Lafayette, which makes her commute from Federal Way worthwhile. She loves her job.

The Lafayette PTA is presenting its annual auction on April 1st: lafayettepta.com

Bill also forwarded the e-mail that Seattle Public Schools superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland sent to families tonight. It’s not yet on the district’s special webpage for budget-related messages and information, so we’re republishing it below:

Dear Seattle Public Schools families:

Seattle Public Schools faced a $74M budget shortfall for next school year. Recent bipartisan action in the Legislature reduced that shortfall by $24M. Thank you to the Legislature and Governor Inslee for delaying the Levy Cliff and for restoring dollars, already approved by our local voters, to our 2017-18 budget.

We are extremely grateful for the timely action. I also want to thank the Seattle Legislative delegation for conveying the seriousness of the Levy Cliff and the potential impact in Seattle. Finally, thank you to the Principal Association of Seattle Schools (PASS), Seattle Education Association (SEA), Seattle Council PTSA (SCPTSA), WA Paramount Duty, and so many others for carrying our needs and message forward.

Delay of the Levy Cliff resolves one-third of the budget shortfall we are facing next year. We can now prepare, with greater certainty, school and central budgets for the 2017-18 school year. It also allows us to reduce far fewer staff and provide our students and families some stability in the short term as the Legislature continues to work on long-term budget solutions.

We find ourselves in a unique position, of being extremely thankful and relieved, but still facing a $50M budget shortfall. Without full funding from the state, the district will still need to make painful cuts. We are working with our partners to identify restoration priorities. We will take those recommendations to the School Board on March 29. We expect the restoration plan will restore most, but not all, of the proposed staffing reductions. Updated staffing allocations will be sent to schools after spring break.

As a result of the McCleary lawsuit, promises to fully fund education were made. Years later, they remain unfulfilled. Extension of our levy authority, while much appreciated, does not address our long-term financial needs, including adequate and ample educator compensation, nor does it address the state’s constitutional obligation.

I continue to remain hopeful. The Washington Supreme Court has set a firm deadline. By the end of the 2017 legislative session, the state must have a plan to fully fund education. I am encouraged by our community’s united efforts to get the Levy Cliff addressed. It is evidence that when we are aligned, focused, and persistent, we can get great things accomplished on behalf of our children.

Thank you for your patience, commitment, and continued support of our students. As more information becomes available, I will continue to share updates. Attached is a document that provides additional details. If you have any questions during the next phase of the budget process, please contact budget@seattleschools.org or publicaffairs@seattleschools.org.

At Highland Park Elementary back on Monday, Gov. Inslee told us and the TV crews covering his visit that he expects the Legislature to fully solve the education-funding crisis this session.

3 Replies to "One school's story: What education-funding shortfall would cost Lafayette Elementary, and other news from tonight's PTA meeting"

  • gato salvaje March 16, 2017 (9:04 pm)

    In Trump’s America, of course the Music program would be cut. No room for the ARTS although they’re the very thing that provide sustenance and creativity to our children.  What a shame! 

  • North of Admiral March 16, 2017 (10:36 pm)

    I pulled my kids from public school yet still pay 10k in property tax. It is a shame we don’t put our children first in this state. The homeless get more support. 

  • Neighbor mama March 17, 2017 (3:19 pm)

    I feel bad for Lafayette.  These types of cuts are so painful and frustrating.   Also, when we continue to squeeze parents because of underfunding it creates equity issues across the district with some schools struggling to raise anything and others under pressure to keep the fundraising dollars going (not easy when enrollment and demographics change).  I hope enrollment increases and the legislature gets their act together to fix this mess.

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