(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
Next stop for the Shorewood Christian High School girls’ volleyball team is Tacoma, where SeaTac League tournament play continues Thursday morning following this victory last night.
Athletic Director Claudia Diama Rose sent word of the Lions‘ match last night vs. Northwest Yeshiva HS, played in West Seattle at the Salvation Army gym in South Delridge.
Shorewood, coached by Jesse Vanderveer and Jennifer Reed, won Tuesday night’s match in three consecutive games.
They play Thursday at Evergreen Lutheran in Tacoma, starting with a 9 am game against Puget Sound Advent. See the brackets here (you’ll notice that another local school, Seattle Lutheran, is in the tournament too).
The SC roster: #7 Natalie Billharz (lone senior), #4 Sarai Appert, #3 Misgana Mengesha, #5 Rosie Young, #13 Maddy Bir, #8 Shelaine Lorenz, #14 Kyra Goodspeed, #10 Lily Turner, #12 Alice Liu, #15 Amanda Tong.
Just two weeks until school’s out for Veterans Day on November 11th, and we’ve heard of at least one special school-holiday event: Melinda Fredricks and the West Seattle High School Cheer Team invite kids K-5 to the annual Mini Cheer Camp, 10 am-1 pm that day in the WSHS Gym. If you’re interested, you’ll want to register your kid(s) TODAY – because it’s the deadline to guarantee a T-shirt.
Campers will enjoy a day of fun and excitement learning cheers, jumps, making crafts and spending time with the WSHS Cheer team! All campers will receive pom =-poms, a hair bow, T-shirt, pennant, and photo with the cheerleaders! All campers are also invited back to show off their new talents at the Girls Varsity Basketball game Friday, December 4th, at halftime!! We are looking forward to seeing many returning campers as well as many smiling new faces. Bring your friends!! The more the merrier!!
Here’s the official flyer. Contact Melinda ASAP for a registration form and/or if you have questions – firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-940-6033.
Thanks to Kristin Gibson for the photo and report:
Four members of the WSHS Varsity boys’ golf team qualified for the 3A Metro/King Co. District tournament after competing in the Metro League Golf Championship last week. Tony Flores, Bailey Fuentes, Alex Nguyen and Zach Gibson finished in the top 39 to earn a place to compete Tuesday at Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent. Zach Gibson medaled for the Wildcats with a 6th-place finish and a two-round total of 149.
Good luck to them next week! Sports reports are always welcome at email@example.com.
FOLLOWUP: Final School Board votes expected on November 4th for bell times, boundary changes, after this week’s discussionOctober 23, 2015 at 11:25 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 8 Comments
Though we couldn’t make it to Wednesday’s Seattle Public Schools Board meeting in person, two issues of concern we’ve covered recently were on the agenda, so we’ve reviewed the archived video to see how the discussion went.
Those items and our most-recent coverage:
*“Bell-time” (school start/end) changes, revised
*Boundary changes (with an eleventh-hour change in West Seattle)
First: Both were “introduction items,” so neither was voted on – the votes are planned at the next School Board meeting, Wednesday, November 4th. But the board members’ comments during this meeting might give some hint of how the votes will go; they didn’t voice major concerns or opposition, though both were topics of public comment during that portion of the meeting (58 minutes into this clip).
BELL TIMES: Discussion began at 52 minutes into the video clip above. It was acknowledged that the “tier” times for next year will be 10 minutes later, so that’s why “Tier 3″ (latest-start) schools – including Lafayette and STEM K-8 in West Seattle – will be starting at 9:40. (The new times, in addition to being featured in our previous coverage, are on the last page of the documents for this agenda item.) Board member Sue Peters said she’s a Tier 3 parent and she wondered if there might be someway to roll the times back even “five minutes or so.” It was also noted that in two years, the district is scheduled to go to a longer school day – so, might a two-tier system be possible then? Assistant superintendent for operations Pegi McEvoy said they’ll “be looking at it.”
BOUNDARIES: The discussion began just after 2 hours, 3 minutes into the video above; the agenda documents are here. Enrollment planning director Ashley Davies reminded board members that the boundary changes were originally approved in 2013 – with one exception, what’s known as “Area 53″ in West Seattle is now going to move from the West Seattle Elementary zone to the Roxhill Elementary zone starting next year, instead of going to the Arbor Heights zone. She noted that fewer than 10 students currently live in that area. West Seattle/South Park’s board member Marty McLaren summarized concerns voiced at last Monday’s meeting at EC Hughes – to which Roxhill is expected to be moved once Hughes is renovated/expanded – describing it as “a strong amount of resistance,” bringing “angst” to WS Elementary in particular. Board member Peters asked about the plan for Roxhill once Hughes is reopened. That hasn’t been finalized, Davies said, but she characterized Hughes as “much larger” than Roxhill, saying that after the upgrades, it’s “going to be a much better environment for teaching and learning.” She also reiterated that Hughes isn’t expected to reopen before 2018. McLaren conveyed that some in the Roxhill community would rather see their school renovated so, she said, “just be aware it’s a continuing point of interest.”
SOMETHING TO SAY? The school board’s feedback address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
9:02 PM THURSDAY: Another football game of note tonight – score’s in from Memorial Stadium downtown: Chief Sealth International High School 18, West Seattle High School 13. That means the Seahawks move on to the playoffs; we’re awaiting word of their next game.
8:35 AM FRIDAY: In today’s CSIHS Daily Bulletin, athletic director Ernest Policarpio notes, “Chief Sealth will be playing either Blanchet or Prep next week in the playoffs.” (Those two schools play tonight @ 7 pm at West Seattle Stadium.)
(WSB photo: October 13th protest outside SPS HQ)
Two weeks after first word that some Seattle Public Schools were getting word of teacher cuts/moves – plans that sparked protests – the district has gone public with a final list of what it says has happened, with nine local schools affected (we’ve marked them with asterisks):
Seattle Public Schools will add certified staff to five schools next week, and reassign only seven certified staff to other schools, out of nearly 1,100 general education staff (elementary, middle, K-8).
As the district shared earlier this month, 52,399 students are enrolled in the district this year, according to the 10-day headcount (9/30). This is an increase of 411 students over last year. However, while we have more students this year, the number is lower than projected by 675. This translates into $4.23 million less in revenue from the state, not including the enrollment decline impact on Special Education, Transportation or Nutrition Services.
Some schools have increased enrollment, some have decreased enrollment. This made it necessary to add more staff at those schools with higher enrollment and to reduce staff at those with lower enrollment, with a couple of unique exceptions based on classroom configuration. SPS district staff have worked closely with school leaders to address the timeline during the reassignment process. This has resulted in a net reduction of 21.5 full-time positions.
Eight start-of-school substitutes were added district-wide and funded centrally in schools where principals believed their enrollment may be higher than the district projection. Principals used this resource to support smooth start of school efforts. The goal was to reduce the number of classes without a teacher, and to mitigate for last minute enrollment changes. Five of the six elementary and middle schools that received a substitute did not qualify to keep this position. One of the schools, Green Lake, will add a full time teacher. The six substitutes pulled were at the following schools: Emerson, John Hay, *Schmitz Park, West Woodland, Washington and Queen Anne. Those staff will be assigned to hard-to-fill positions and assigned to one building rather than different daily assignments across the district. Some schools have enrollment changes at the grade level, as compared to projections, that generated the need to add staff in some schools but also reduce in other schools.
The five schools adding staff members are:
Green Lake – 1.0 addition
Rainier View – 1.0 addition
Viewlands – 1.0 addition
*Madison – 2.0 additions
Hamilton – 1.0 addition
The seven schools who have been impacted by the need to reassign a staff member are:
Jane Addams – .4 partial displacement – 1.1 internal funds, 1 reassigned to Broadview Thomson as part-time building designated substitute
*West Seattle Elementary – 1.0 displacement – Reassigned to Lafayette
North Beach Elementary – 1.0 displacement – Reassigned to Bagley
*K-6 Stem @ Boren – 1.0 displacement – Reassigned to Rainier Beach
*Highland Park Elementary – 1.0 displacement – Reassigned to Emerson as building designated substitute
Dunlap Elementary – 1.0 displacement – Reassigned to Kimball
Bryant Elementary – 1.0 displacement – Reassigned to Viewlands
Five schools had individuals choose to slightly reduce their contracts in order to remain at the school:
Sand Point – .5 vacant position closed, .2 reduction, .3 funds restored with internal/external
Wedgwood – .5 vacant position closed, reassigned to Roxhill as .5 building designated sub
Broadview Thomson – Vacant position closed, two staff reduced .5 each to job share
Whitman – Vacant position closed, two employees reduced .2 each, .4 funds identified, .2 to be determined
Madrona K-8 – .5 vacant position closed, two staff reduced .2 and .3 each
The following schools either closed vacant positions or found alternative funding:
*Alki * Retained in position due to community funding
B.F. Day * Grade one combined, vacant position closed
Beacon Hill * Vacant position closed
*Concord * Vacant position closed
Bailey Gatzert * Funds restored with alternative funding
Laurelhurst * Vacant position closed
Lowell * Vacant position closed
Martin Luther King * Vacant position closed
Olympic View * Vacant position closed
Queen Anne * Allocation had not been utilized yet
*Roxhill * Two vacant positions closed
*Denny * Alternate funding identified
Out of 900 staff members, four teachers and eight instructional assistants were reassigned to other schools.
English Language Learners
We added ELL services to 35 schools (all schools now provide ELL services).
Out of 326 ELL teachers, 3.5 positions were reallocated.
We understand families and staff are impacted by these changes. The SPS Human Resources Department staff continues to work closely with every building to ensure clarity and support throughout this process. Those seven staff being reassigned, have been assured that being reassigned has no impact on their contract status, FTE level, pay, benefits or retirement.
As you can see, the SPS news release does not list which schools were affected by special-education and ELL changes – if any are local, please let us know in comments or via e-mail – email@example.com – thanks!
This week, Mayor Murray paid a visit to Holy Rosary S.T.E.M. (Plus) School! The mayor attended Holy Rosary as a third grader in 1963 before moving to Lacey. While visiting, he was being filmed by a crew from Ireland, who is making a documentary about the Irish in Seattle. Mayor Murray was able to walk the halls and watch many students engaged in exciting activities. He met with a group of junior high students, and was impressed by their maturity and thoughtful questions.
In case you wondered, with the Irish reference – while the president of Ireland is visiting our area right now, the mayor’s HR stop was before his arrival.
P.S. If you’re not part of the HR community, you might notice something new in the school’s name. We asked registrar Kimberly Tish about it: “This year we have fully integrated the STEM approach into all areas of our curriculum. The (Plus) speaks to the focus on our Catholic Identity and our strong arts programs: art, music, foreign language (Spanish).” She adds that the school’s already accepting applications for next year.
Less than a week after their Huling Bowl faceoff (WSB photo/video coverage here), West Seattle High School and Chief Sealth International HS meet again tomorrow, at the start of the prep postseason. The game’s at 4:30 pm Thursday at Memorial Stadium downtown.
Domino-effect damage? Community members tell district that West Seattle Elementary will be harmed if part of its zone is switched to Roxhill next year, long before Hughes moveOctober 20, 2015 at 3:57 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 4 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
What’s the rush?
That was just one of many questions asked in a short but contentious meeting last night at the EC Hughes school building in Sunrise Heights.
The meeting itself was an afterthought for Seattle Public Schools. When SPS went around the city earlier this month for three meetings on a package of relatively small boundary changes for its attendance-area (aka “neighborhood”) school maps, the package didn’t address the fact that SPS was planning to move Roxhill Elementary into the Hughes building, after expansion and renovation.
First official word of that came when we asked the district on September 30th what the plan was for recently vacated-by-former-tenant EC Hughes, resulting in this WSB story.
But in the following week, when the aforementioned three meetings were held, there was nothing in the presentation about Roxhill/Hughes. And though the boundary changes that were discussed at those meetings were in south West Seattle, the local meeting was held in the north, at Schmitz Park Elementary.
Then, after at least one Roxhill parent pushed for more information about the changes that moving the school to Hughes would bring, the boundary-change map changed again, and last night’s meeting was added. The SPS website notes that the information about Roxhill and Hughes was added October 13th – less than a week before that meeting.
But the biggest changes now proposed for the “Growth Boundaries” map – originally approved by the School Board two years ago, and with this and other amendments going to the board tomorrow night – would affect a third school:
Click to read the rest of Domino-effect damage? Community members tell district that West Seattle Elementary will be harmed if part of its zone is switched to Roxhill next year, long before Hughes move…
Since a citywide round of public meetings that started in West Seattle three weeks ago, Seattle Public Schools‘ list of proposed “bell time” (start and end of the school day) changes has itself changed once again. Here’s the final proposed citywide list, which goes to the School Board when it meets this Wednesday night. Here’s what’s now proposed for West Seattle schools for next year:
Chief Sealth IHS: 8:50 am-3:20 pm
West Seattle HS: 8:50 am-3:20 pm
Denny IMS: 8 am-2:30 pm
Madison MS: 8:50 am-3:20 pm
Louisa Boren K-8 STEM: 9:40 am-4:10 pm
Pathfinder K-8: 8:50 am-3:20 pm
Alki Elementary: 8 am-2:10 pm
Arbor Heights Elementary: 8 am-2:10 pm
Concord International: 8 am-2:10 pm
Fairmount Park Elementary: 8 am-2:10 pm
Gatewood Elementary: 8 am-2:10 pm
Highland Park Elementary: 8 am-2:10 pm
Lafayette Elementary: 9:40 am-3:50 pm
Roxhill Elementary: 8 am-2:10 pm
Sanislo Elementary: 8 am-2:10 pm
Schmitz Park Elementary: 8 am-2:10 pm
West Seattle Elementary: 8 am-2:10 pm
Our coverage of the September 29th public meeting in West Seattle included the list of what was being proposed at that time. What’s changed since then – the two K-8′s are proposed to start 10 minutes later than they do now, and STEM’s end time would be half an hour later. The elementaries would all start significantly earlier than they do now, with the exception of Lafayette, which would start 10 minutes later.
WHAT’S NEXT: This goes to the board on Wednesday night, as an “introduction” item, after 6 pm – see the full agenda item, including the list, here. If the board approves it – or recommends something else – that would come up for a final vote on November 4th. You can send comments to board members via firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Seattle schools: Monday meeting for Roxhill boundary changes to take effect two years before EC Hughes moveOctober 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm | In Sunrise Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off
As first reported here September 30th, Seattle Public Schools is planning to renovate, expand, and reopen EC Hughes Elementary as the new home of what’s currently Roxhill Elementary. Since our original report, the district has proposed a boundary change to get ready for that, with a meeting tomorrow (Monday) night to discuss it. These changes were NOT in the amended West Seattle boundaries that were circulating before a West Seattle meeting earlier this month, but the district says the new boundaries will go before the School Board for action in November, to take effect next fall, so now is the time to speak up. As you can see on the map above – click it to go to a full-size version on the SPS website – the changes for fall 2016 (though Hughes is not expected to reopen until 2018) now include moving two areas from West Seattle Elementary to Roxhill. Tomorrow’s meeting is set for 6:30 pm-7:15 pm at the Hughes building (7740 34th SW), with Spanish, Vietnamese, and Somali interpretation available.
Two notes about Seattle Lutheran High School (WSB sponsor) – its Oktoberfest Auction benefit is tonight, starting at 5:30 pm at the school gym (4100 SW Genesee). And the Saints’ football team won on the road last night – 34-20 at Rainier Christian HS (thanks to Mike Jensen for the score report) – they’re 4-2 for the season so far. Next up, a home game against Quilcene next Saturday (October 24th) at West Seattle Stadium, 1:30 pm.
(Added: WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
10:05 PM FRIDAY: For the first time since 2011 – the West Seattle High School Wildcats take the trophy at the annual Huling Bowl game vs. Chief Sealth International High School. The final score at Southwest Athletic Complex in Westwood: WSHS 29, CSIHS 6. This was also homecoming and Senior Night for the Wildcats.
ADDED 6:25 AM SATURDAY: Top staff from both schools, including principals Ruth Medsker of WSHS (below left) and Aida Fraser-Hammer of CSIHS (below right), were at the grill for the pre-game barbecue:
Great turnout in the stands:
The WSHS fans included a group with members of the West Seattle Class of 1996, getting ready for their 20th reunion next year (with a Facebook page set up already):
Now, as for the football:
The first quarter was a long one. The Wildcats got on the scoreboard with just under five minutes left, with #3 Nate Pryor scoring the TD less than a minute after an interception. A WSHS field goal with 2:30 left in the first quarter brought the score to 9-0.
The Seahawks made an impressive defensive stand with just under seven minutes left in the second quarter, when a pass brought the Wildcats to first and goal, but the TD was denied, with plays including a sack by Sealth’s Sam Tino. Finally, WSHS kicked a field goal, and it was 12-0 at 5:04 left in the half. The next few minutes saw multiple turnovers, and the score remained WSHS 12, Sealth 0 at halftime.
First TD of the second half, at 9:42 left in the third quarter, was WSHS #18 Carter Golgart to Pryor. 19-0 is where the third quarter ended, and the game was already more than two hours old.
Golgart himself scored the Wildcats’ last TD at 10:25 left in the game.
#33 Joe Merlino kicked the point after, taking it to 26-0. Then a field goal for WSHS, and the score was 29-0 until Sealth started threatening in the final two minutes or so.
The Seahawks’ #11 Daron Camacho had a big run, then a TD with :15 on the clock, and that was the final score – 29-6. The Tom Burggraff-coached Wildcats’ trophy celebration followed, with #85 Andrew Burggraff and #17 Gabe Gangon hoisting it as our video begins:
That was the last regular-season game for WSHS and CSIHS. What happens next, we’re told, depends on the outcome of tonight’s Garfield-Rainier Beach game – there’s a chance Sealth and WSHS could face off again at the postseason’s start.
P.S. Lots of pink last night for breast-cancer awareness – socks for players, pom-poms and bows for cheerleaders:
For new arrivals … here’s our 2012 report with the backstory on why the annual crosstown-rivalry game is called the Huling Bowl.
Congratulations to West Seattle Elementary nurse Terri Helm-Remund, who, after 28 years as a school nurse – the last seven of those at WSE – has just been announced as statewide School Nurse of the Year by the School Nurse Organization of Washington. We photographed her as school staff took a moment to congratulate her during their afternoon meeting on Wednesday. She’s holding one of the special memory books that students made for her, full of pictures and drawings. Here is what her WSE co-worker Laura Bermes tells us about “Nurse Terri”:
Terri is pretty remarkable in the care she offers our students and families, in her service leading our Safety Committee, and in her work on our Student Intervention Team and Attendance Intervention Team. She takes a lead role in assuring the successful integration of the Neighborcare Clinic within the school, in supporting our Fruits and Veggie program, and in coordinating our annual School Health Fair. She’s also President of the School Nurse Organization of Washington (SNOW), she mentors multiple nurses every year, and has been published (along with some of her nursing colleagues) regarding her work with our Attendance Team.
In addition to all of her assigned duties, Terri took her passion for mosaic arts and started an after-school mosaic club for our students. Their mosaic creations are displayed around the school, and at the Bee Garden in High Point. Terri puts the PRO in professional. She’s one of the most competent people I’ve ever worked with – she knows her job, and she’s willing to go the extra mile to assure it gets done right. Terri’s also one of the most compassionate people I know. She isn’t afraid to speak on behalf of children and families in need, and she takes time to get to know people. She holds herself to a high standard, but isn’t prideful. She’s always ready to learn new skills, and she’s eager to teach others. Terri is no doubt the perfect candidate for School Nurse of the Year for the State of Washington, and we at West Seattle Elementary know how lucky we are to have her on our team!!!
From the staff of West Seattle Elementary, Congratulations, Nurse Terri!!!
Also to celebrate – this cake:
But we don’t know when Nurse Terri and co-workers got a chance to enjoy it – after a brief moment to celebrate, they had to get back to some urgent discussions, so we moved on.
This Friday afternoon (October 16th), the Southwest Seattle Historical Society is teaming up with The Kenney (WSB sponsor) on a “pop-up museum” themed “School Daze.” You bring the items and stories to share – in this case, as SWSHS executive director Clay Eals explains it, “photos and other memorabilia from youthful times in school.” Bring it to The Kenney’s lobby (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW) 2-5 pm on Friday and see what happens from there – enjoy light refreshments, too. Everyone’s welcome – including community members who just want to hear and see what’s in the pop-up museum and don’t have stories or items to share (yet) – more info here.
5:07 PM: We’re at Seattle Public Schools headquarters, where the School Board is meeting as a “committee of the whole.” The parents involved with Kids Not Cuts – formed after word last week that teacher positions would be cut at more than two dozen schools around the city – came to demand a few minutes of the board’s time. We walked in a moment after the meeting started, and what ensued is what you see below:
If you can’t watch the video, the parents asked for 10 minutes to speak to the board before their agenda – with no related items – moved on. Board leadership refused, and eventually adjourned the meeting to a smaller room nearby. All but board member Sue Peters left. Several parents, including two from Schmitz Park, stayed to talk with her, as did most if not all of the media there (including us). When that conversation left and Peters headed to the other room, reporters and photographers were told it was at capacity and they could not go inside. That was being challenged vigorously when the board members decided to come back into the auditorium. Right now the meeting has resumed and at least two dozen parents remain; the agenda item under discussion involves the City of Seattle levy-funded Preschool Program, which is reported to include two “under-enrolled” SPS classrooms right now. One parent found that ironic, to say the least, and got up to again demand time with the board; president Sherry Carr said there will be a break during this meeting, at which time parents can talk with board members. More irony was pointed out by parents as Carr went on to explain procedure and how tonight’s agenda had to be published in advance; she invited parents to address the board next Wednesday, while the parents pointed out that’s too late, as the teacher moves/cuts have to be finalized before then.
5:33 PM: We have to get back to West Seattle; parents remain here, and citywide media too, so we’ll find out later what happens here. And if you missed it, here’s our earlier coverage, including the early-afternoon media briefing about the cuts/changes.
TEACHER CUTS: Final word going out to schools; district summons reporters, but still has no list; memo confirms ‘district office budget’ up 16%October 14, 2015 at 12:25 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 42 Comments
12:25 PM: Six days after word of teacher cuts and moves started getting around, Seattle Public Schools is
announcing (updated) working on its final decisions. We’re on our way to a 12:30 pm media briefing at district headquarters (announced on short notice), and we’ve just heard from a member of the STEM K-8 community that principal Ben Ostrom has sent an announcement. Excerpt:
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) October staffing adjustment has been finalized and unfortunately affects STEM K-8. District enrollment shortfalls necessitated the displacement of STEM’s K-8 class size reduction position. This position was assigned to reduce class sizes in our 3rd and 4th grades. Lower than projected district-wide enrollment, combined with higher than anticipated operating costs, resulted in SPS being unable to support positions below contracted class size ratios. Displaced staff are reassigned to support schools with enrollment above projections.
We’ll update live from the news conference when it begins. If you’ve heard anything from other schools – email@example.com – thanks.
12:33 PM: We’re awaiting the briefing. But the district reps who are here – including associate superintendent Flip Herndon and communications officer Jacque Coe – say they don’t have a list.
12:37 PM: If you have Periscope, we’re live there with this. Coe says they’re “moving less than 1 percent of teachers,” and that these are “not cuts,” no teachers are losing their jobs. Teachers will be “moved to positions of highest needs” – if one school has less enrollment, they’re being moved to one where “children have a need for a teacher because of class sizes … it’s a balancing act … it occurs in every district around the state.” She says this was “earlier notification” than in years past. She said there was a “significant number of students projected to show up … that didn’t … that we believe went to surrounding districts.” She says they can’t just add a teacher to a school – “it would be just as disruptive as pulling a teacher.” She says that they don’t want to slow down the process, because “waiting (longer) will be just as disruptive.”
“This is what inadequate state funding looks like at the local level,” Coe declared. “Because of (that), districts are constantly adjusting budgets. District have to live by their budgets, by law. Dipping into district reserves is not fiscally responsible.” She says almost every elementary school has “an extra teacher” at their building, “but that’s not enough.” Friday, she says, is when they “should know all the staff who are being moved … but it’s still a very fluid process.” The deadline for changes to be in place is October 26th.
12:47 PM: Herndon and Coe are answering questions based on regional reporters asking about Seattle policies compared to other districts. They basically contend this is something all districts are going through. We asked about Schmitz Park’s teacher loss (as discussed last week) leading to ratios of 28 or 29 students to one teacher in first-grade classrooms and Herndon said it was just a matter of how the state funding shook out. “When we’re talking about the overall class ratio .. there’s going to be some variation from school to school.”
12:54 PM: Coe says again, it’s not accurate to say “cuts,” no one is losing their job. Asked about reports of district unresponsiveness to parents’ concerns, she says one specific contact went awry. Asked “is there a better way to project?” Coe says that “we had a major event prior to the start of school” – apparently referring to the teacher strike – that could have had a significant effect. Last year, more than 300 students opted out to other districts, Herndon said, this year, more than 1,000. But, he says, they don’t know why those parents opted out. Coe says that “private funding” (like the Alki Elementary fundraiser, though it wasn’t mentioned by name) “lets the legislature off the hook” and they would “encourage parents to talk to their state legislators.” Asked about the letter that legislators sent to the district asking them to hold off on these changes, Coe says, “When last I checked, the Supreme Court was waiting” (for legislators to fully fund education). She reiterates that it’s not responsible to “dip into reserves.”
1:01 PM: Asked again why they don’t have a list of schools that are losing and gaining teachers, Herndon said, “Because we’re still working through the process.” He also said they’re trying to work toward “the least disruption.” Asked how these moves save money, Herndon says, because if they’re moving a teacher from one position to another, they wind up with one position instead of two. The number that’s been circulating, 25, they say, is accurate so far as they know. Coe says she’s hopeful we’re going to have a list “soon.”
1:07 PM: The briefing just ended. We recorded it on conventional video as well and will add that when it’s uploaded. You can watch the playback (really only worth listening, our visual angle was a bit janky) on our Periscope channel.
1:28 PM: The school district’s increase in central administration (“district office”) budget – 16.4% – has come up often. West Seattle/South Park school board rep Marty McLaren sent us this memo she had received from the administration spelling out where the increases were made, and it confirms the budget went up by that number:
TEACHER CUTS: Protest at district HQ, as legislators ask School Board to put teacher changes on holdOctober 13, 2015 at 7:43 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 12 Comments
And they got some encouragement in their cause – a letter signed by legislators asking the School Board to put the changes on hold. Thanks to Amy King for sharing this scan of the letter:
(Here it is as a PDF if you can’t read the Scribd embed above.) The parents who are organizing under the name Kids Not Cuts plan to be at a school board Committee of the Whole meeting at district HQ at 4:15 pm tomorrow to directly make the request, though the issue is not on the agenda. The meeting is open to the public.
ADDED 8:39 PM: The board has already responded to the legislators’ letter, saying basically, sorry, they can’t. Thanks to Robin Graham for sharing their letter:
The afternoon protest, by the way, was the second of the day outside SPS HQ, after the “Half-Baked Sale” at midday.
Thanks to Helen Green for sending photos from today’s 11 am-1 pm “Half-Baked Sale,” organized by Louisa Boren STEM K-8 parent Shawna Murphy.
Helen, also a STEM parent, says, “There was a great turnout of parents from all over Seattle. A lot from West Seattle. I talked to two Roxhill parents who said that kids have been hit very hard by the teacher reduction there.”
Next up: At 4 pm, a rally – also outside district HQ at 3rd/Lander – everyone concerned about the state of school funding (the big picture as well as situations like the current one) is invited. The North Seattle parent who contributed $70,000 to save a West Seattle teacher job, first reported here Sunday night, is expected to be among the speakers.
In the midst of the current school-funding crisis – with schools here and around the city facing the loss of teachers, and voices (including last night’s $70,000 donor) calling for a look at the big picture – here’s your chance for the latter. Just out of the WSB inbox:
Fairmount Park Elementary PTA cordially invites members of the West Seattle Schools Community to join us Wednesday for an overview of the current education funding situation and a candid conversation about how our schools can come together to effect change.
Our Paramount Duty: Getting to the Heart of School Funding in WA
Wednesday, October 14th, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Fairmount Park Elementary School Auditorium
3800 SW Findlay
*Welcome from FPE PTA Leaders
*Show Us The Money: McCleary & Washington State Budget – Heidi Bennett
*Coming together to create change: How can community members work together to address the ongoing funding shortfall in our state?
*Participate in constructive dialog and candid conversation with longtime education advocates and PTA leaders to formulate action items to which our community can commit to moving forward.
FOLLOWUP: Alki Elementary reaches teacher-saving goal with $70,000+ donation; donor says it’s time for ‘some real change’October 11, 2015 at 11:23 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 70 Comments
ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:23 PM SUNDAY: Just in: The West Seattle school that was crowdfunding to try to save a teacher from being cut has apparently met its goal. After receiving e-mail announcing that the Alki Elementary fundraising drive had reached its goal thanks to a $70,000+ donation, we checked the crowdfunding page, and the donation is listed there. Donor Brian Jones posted on the Crowdrise.com page:
This lack of funding has to end. It starts with our state legislature who has dropped the ball and is failing our children. We need to come together as families and support the most important need of our children – education. I donate this money on behalf of my two children, one who entered kindergarten at Loyal Heights this year and the other who will start kindergarten in two years. I am outraged and fed up with this entire issue and the fact that our legislature does not seem that this is an urgent priority. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel the same and let’s make some real change. I am ready to lead and make that happen. I’m not a politician. I’m just a pissed off parent, who is sick and tired of the horrible leadership that is failing our children.
ADDED MONDAY 12:25 AM: We e-mailed Brian Jones with a couple questions, to follow up. He replies:
I have two daughters, age 3 and 6. I live in Ballard and have no children that attend school in West Seattle. When my daughter entered Kindergarten this year at Loyal Heights, I learned I had to pay over $2000 to cover the second part of the day. I found that ridiculous and didn’t know why until I learned more about the McCleary decision and the basis of that lawsuit.
The legislature and Governor seem to be taking forever, (and my state rep and senator never even email me back). So when I heard about the lack of funding and teacher pulls, I talked with my wife and we decided that enough was enough and that we would do what we could to help, because our elected officials are failing our children. I don’t know anything about politics, but I do know a child’s education and a loving family is a recipe for success.
The first step that anyone can do is come to the rally this Tuesday at SPS headquarters and learn how our children are taking a back seat to this absolute ridiculous inaction by our elected officials.
After that I plan on galvanizing others to pressure our legislature to move fast and swift regarding this issue or face a movement of parents who will vote them out of office. … I’m not a politician or even “political,” I just can’t stand by and see our education system run like this.
The rally he mentions has also just been mentioned to us by Schmitz Park Elementary parent Rachel Lazar, who’s been a leader in advocacy at that school since this all started circulating on Thursday. It’s set for 4 pm this Tuesday (October 13th) outside district headquarters, 3rd and Lander in SODO.
2:24 PM: As promised, dozens of local parents are rallying right now at California and Admiral in hopes of raising awareness of the teacher cuts hitting at least five West Seattle schools (among what the district says is approximately 25 citywide). We first reported on the cuts Thursday, with a followup on Friday, and updates on Saturday. In addition to the parents, the people at the rally right now include Schmitz Park principal Gerrit Kischner – whose explanaton to his school’s parents is part of our Friday coverage – and school-board rep Marty McLaren. She told us on Friday that the board had “little power to help in this extremely painful situation.”
SUNDAY EVENING: More photos added. Some signs, like the one above, focus on the sentiment that the district is top-heavy and should cut administration jobs to get more resources into school buildings. There were school-specific sentiments too:
We’ll continue to follow up during the week ahead; the district said in its statement on Friday that final decisions were yet to come.
Two days ago, we reported that at least five West Seattle schools were dealing with the news that they would lose teachers because the district’s enrollment projections had fallen a bit short – along with about 20 other schools around the district. We followed up on Friday with updates including how Schmitz Park Elementary‘s principal explained the situation to families of his first-graders, and early word of a Sunday rally for West Seattleites to show their concern.
Tonight, some updates:
*The start of tomorrow’s rally has been described as “after the Seahawks game” (which starts at 10 am) – approximately 2 pm. Everyone interested in participating is invited to show up at California SW and SW Admiral Way. This is a rally to call attention to the West Seattle-wide situation. Organizers suggest wearing your school’s colors and bringing noisemakers.
*A Tuesday afternoon protest outside Seattle Public Schools headquarters in SODO (4 pm, 3rd and Lander) is being planned.
*Alki Elementary families are expanding fundraising to try to avoid losing a first-grade teacher, in the vein of what Gatewood Elementary did when facing a cut last year. The fundraising now includes two dine-out events announced by the Alki PTA:
-Mission (2325 California SW) is donating 20 percent of food/drink sales tomorrow (Sunday)
-Marination Ma Kai (at Seacrest, 1660 Harbor SW) is donating 15 percent of its food sales 4 pm-8 pm Tuesday (October 13th), according to Patti Johnson from the Alki PTA. She also shared these points about how loss of a teacher affects more than that teacher’s class:
The loss of this one teacher will have an enormous impact to the school and the children.
*First grade class sizes from 21-22 students per class to 26.
*Second grade class size from 23-24 students per class to 26-27.
*Will put at least one classroom in overload status.
*Creation of a 1st-2nd grade combination classroom (in addition to the 4th-5th combination we already have).
In addition to the statistics above, changing classes in-year will have other ramifications and effects on the children:
Learning a new routine takes approximately 2-3 weeks. Students changing to new classrooms will result in all students in those classes losing instructional time because the teacher will have to spend time teaching every class routine to the entire class, again, after having just become proficient in routines from the start of the school year.
Students will spend time meeting their new classmates and new teacher prior to the change in class assignments, thus resulting in more loss of instructional time.
Building custodians and other staff members will take time out of their normal duties to move student furniture (desks) and any other furnishings needed into new classrooms to accommodate the need for more desk, table, and shelf space in the newly assigned classrooms.
School counselors will have to work with students who have anxiety, fear, depression, etc. from loss of stability due to new class assignments. (Some students have pre-existing issues that make them more susceptible to these feelings).
Tutoring time that was intended for intervention of students needing to reduce the achievement gap will be shifted to support students in a split classes.
There will be less Playground Supervisors during two recesses per week for Alki 1st graders because of the reduction of staff members able to do supervision.
Alki also has an online petition:
*”Keep Alki Elementary Class Size Manageable” – petition here
Schmitz Park, whose principal says two 1st-grade classes now will be at 28 students each and a third at 29, also has an online petition, first noted in our Thursday story – find it here.
This one has a broader focus:
*”Our Kids Need Their Teachers – Rethink Budget Cuts” – petition here
And as noted at Schmitz Park on Thursday night, advocacy to elected officials matters most of all – whether you’re involved with any of the affected schools or not, you can help with this.
The district, meantime, as reported on Friday, has responded with this general message.
At Southwest Athletic Complex on Friday night, Chief Sealth International High School‘s homecoming game vs. Ingraham ended in a 1-point loss, 13-12. But before we get to the details, an update on a frightening incident that stopped the game for a while just before the end of the first half:
Sealth senior Andrew Leota was down for about 20 minutes before being taken to a medic unit. Both teams and their cheer squads made a line to the ambulance and applauded as the stretcher went by.
While injuries are not uncommon at football games, many already had a nearby tragedy on their mind, the death of Evergreen player Kenney Bui after an injury in Burien a week earlier, so that gave this even more gravity. This injury, however, did not appear to be major. Sealth athletic director Ernest Policarpio told us that Andrew thought he “took a helmet to his lower back” and was doing better as he was taken to the hospital for evaluation. The game eventually resumed and the first half was finished. We will be checking on his condition.
Here’s the rest of the story from the game:
FOLLOWUP: Questions, advocacy emerge as teacher-cut news circulates at local schools; Sunday rally planned; district’s letterOctober 9, 2015 at 11:00 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 38 Comments
(UPDATED with new online petitions, plans for a Sunday rally, and more – scroll to story’s end)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At least five West Seattle elementary schools have been told they’ll lose teaching positions as a result of Seattle Public Schools‘ review of where enrollment stood at the end of September.
While a district-wide list has not been made available, as first reported in our Thursday coverage, we were able to confirm Alki, Highland Park, Roxhill, Schmitz Park, and West Seattle Elementary Schools are among the ~25 schools citywide dealing with this.
Nothing’s completely final yet, though, and principals and their school communities have been scrambling to see what they can do to minimize effects. Here’s what’s new so far today:
*Last night at Schmitz Park, this area’s most populous elementary with 600+ students, the annual Curriculum Night for first- and second-grade families found principal Gerrit Kischner trying to explain how his long-crowded school – moving into a new building next fall – has wound up with a teaching position on the chopping block. And it found parents declaring that the ongoing funding challenges of public education are unacceptable and vowing action, including a letterwriting campaign. (They also are continuing the online petition we mentioned in Thursday’s report.)
*This morning, an Alki Elementary parent confirms that school has started a crowdfunding campaign to try to save the position that’s slated to be cut.
First, from the Schmitz Park meeting, which we covered at the suggestion of several concerned parents:
“Remember, the kids are going to be fine,” Kischner reassured the first-grade parents who gathered in the school cafeteria instead of dispersing to classrooms as would have been SOP – a change made necessary by the expected loss of the first-grade class that was to be taught by Julie Pietsch.
Several parents, including PTA president Robert Kelly, sported T-shirts in support of that classroom, P-8:
(“The fox says” is a reference to Schmitz Park’s mascot.) In the early going at the meeting, before the second-grade parents left to visit their teachers, he promised the organization would find ways to support the teachers in what he declared to be a crisis, and reminded parents that volunteer work would be important like never before.
Kischner said principals had found out about the cuts on Monday night. He said a group of them is meeting with Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland today “so we can say we did everything we can to lessen the impact on kids.”
West Seattle’s newest community-created playground is officially open. It’s at Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point, whose principal David Dockendorf wielded the ribbon-cutting scissors:
One of the parents who led the project through years of fundraising and volunteer work parties, Kelly Guenther, emceed the celebration:
Along with the play equipment, you’ll find a message here and there:
It was a true reason to celebrate, after more than a year and a half of work:
And now, it’s all about playtime.
See all the steps along the way via the playground project’s official website.
Parents angered to learn that Seattle Public Schools’ fall reshuffle will cut teachers at local schoolsOctober 8, 2015 at 1:18 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 63 Comments
(NEWEST UPDATE: Adding fifth school, West Seattle ES)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Seattle Public Schools says “approximately 25 teachers are being pulled from” schools around the city now that it has actual enrollment counts for the start of this school year, with overall district enrollment up, but not as much as expected.
At least five elementary schools in West Seattle are affected, according to what we have found out so far from information that includes, in two cases, letters sent by principals and forwarded by parents, some of whom are furious.
The district checks enrollment in early October every year and decides whether schools have appropriate staffing levels. Last year at this time, you might recall, Gatewood Elementary was told it would lose a teacher, and raised more than $66,000 in a frantic fundraising campaign to keep the position, one week after getting the initial word.
We asked district spokesperson Stacy Howard for a list of the schools affected this year; she told us that’s not available, but also added that no teachers are being laid off – just being moved.
Since there’s no list, all we know so far is what we have learned from parents – letters sent by the principals of (updated) Schmitz Park, Alki, Roxhill, and West Seattle ES, plus information from the PTA president of Highland Park.
SCHMITZ PARK ELEMENTARY: Losing one teaching position, according to e-mail that principal Gerrit Kischner sent last night to the school’s first-grade parents. More than a dozen parents have forwarded it to us.
He began, “Every year, the Seattle School District reevaluates enrollment on October 1st and makes budget adjustments accordingly. I am writing tonight to share some very unfortunate news: because of significant shifts in enrollment District-wide, Schmitz Park has lost funding for one of our first grade classrooms.” That means, he went on to write, that one class will be “collapsed” with its students reassigned to the remaining four 1st-grade classrooms. He had notified that class’s families directly, but added that “we know that the impact of this staffing reduction will be felt throughout the first grade cohort and across the school. Schmitz Park is not alone. In fact, enrollment is lower than projections by over 600 students districtwide (although we have grown overall in our total enrollment), and approximately 25 elementary schools (nearly half) will be losing one and, in some cases, more than two teachers. This news comes as much as a surprise to us as it is for you, and I am very sorry to have to bring you this news. In fact, I maintain a glimmer of hope that this budget decision can be reversed, but at this point it is extremely important that we plan rapidly to ensure that students can make a smooth transition to their new classroom.”
Kischner’s letter also quoted Schmitz Park’s enrollment at 643, one above projection, but “a drop from the 663 students we had on our rolls at the end of August.” First grade is at 114, up from the 99 at which the cohort ended kindergarten. He also noted the district’s end-of-September headcount as 52,399, 411 students more than last year, but 675 below what was projected, citing “budget pressures at the District level” for leading to the loss of what was the last teacher hired there before the school year began. “Unless new information comes our way very soon, our plan is to introduce students to their new classrooms Friday afternoon, ahead of starting Monday in the new classrooms.”
This information from the letter was attributed to the district:
Annually, at the beginning of the school year, Seattle Public Schools undergoes a staffing adjustment process to monitor enrollment at every school and to adjust staffing levels relative to actual student enrollment. Staffing adjustment decisions are made to match student needs with limited staff resources. In this process, adjustments are made in staff levels at schools to reflect the number of students actually enrolled in a program, grade and school, as opposed to forecasted/ projected enrollments. While our enrollment projections are historically very accurate at the district level, a wide range of factors can influence the final number of students enrolled at a grade, program and school level.
Once receiving student enrollment counts for each school, the district then reevaluates staffing across schools, making adjustments up and down based on each school’s enrollment. Please know that our best efforts are being made to assess all factors for staffing adjustment decisions at all schools. Staffing adjustment recommendations are developed by a team composed of members from Budget, Human Resources, Enrollment Planning, School Operations, Capital Planning, Special Education, Advanced Learning and English Language Learning departments, who use current enrollment numbers in determining staffing adjustments.
Additionally, Enrollment Planning also takes into account other factors in staffing allocations, including projected changes, expected attrition, historical trends in enrollment for each school as well as unique factors affecting each schools’ enrollment. Each school is carefully reviewed for any factors which could impact the classroom.
A change.org petition has been started by parent Rachel Lazar – see it here. She also shared her initial reaction: “What kind of screwed-up educational system gets kids back to school two weeks late after a strike, lets them settle into their classes, then decides to cut a beloved 1st grade teacher because their counts were off and cram her students into the other classrooms, letting them hit nearly 30? Add to that a school who has been forced to expand its boundaries again this year BEFORE our new facility opens, leaving it bursting at the seams. Oh, and do this all in 48-hours time so there is little time to work through it with the kids, and no time to try and address or fight it. This makes absolutely no sense to me and I’m fired up. Our kids deserve better. This phenomenal teacher deserves better. How the hell do we fix this mess our school system is in in Seattle!?!”
ALKI ELEMENTARY: Scheduled for a 1.5-position cut, according to the letter, forwarded to us by multiple parents, sent by principal Shannon Hobbs-Beckley to her school’s community. She began, “Earlier this week, I was informed by Seattle Public Schools that we are one of several schools that will experience a staffing adjustment based upon our current school enrollment. Last year, our adjustment resulted in adding staff to our school. This year, our adjustment results in a reduction of staff to our school. … This is not an easy adjustment to make, by any means. And some questions remain unanswered, so I consider this letter the first communication about the changes we are about to embark upon.” She quoted the same district information that Kischner’s letter did, and said that with Alki Elementary having “lower enrollment than projected,” its budget was cut “by 1.5 full time teaching positions (1.0 from a general education classroom and .5 from the specialists of PE/Multi-Arts/Technology).” She went on to write that the staff was still “determining all of the impacts of this change” and thinking they might be able to cover the half-position specialist reduction, but, “What we are still working through is the 1.0 reduction from a general education classroom.”
Parent Nikki Eisenhut, who has three children at Alki, shared her letter of concern with WSB; it talks about her children’s experience at the school and concludes, “These teachers have worked hard to create a safe, inspiring learning community in the last month. I cannot support a ‘staffing adjustment’ that is going to interrupt these communities. I do not see the benefit of interrupting student learning to create larger classes and less support for the students who need it the most. I want you to know that the ’1.5 FTE’ that you will take from Alki is removing a human being and impacting countless students. It will create larger class sizes and interrupt learning. I know that at Alki, we will weather the change, our students are resilient, our teachers are inspiring and our leader is our foundation. These staffing changes are unjust and our community is strong and resilient.”
(2nd update, 3:40 pm) ROXHILL AND HIGHLAND PARK: Thanks to the Roxhill Elementary who scanned the hard-copy letter sent home by principal Sahnica Washington; she quotes much of the district explanation excerpted above, before saying her school has “experienced lower enrollment than expected” and therefore has had its budget cut by 3.7 teachers: “As a result of the loss of teachers, we will be consolidating classrooms.”
Earlier, after this story’s initial publication, we heard from Highland Park Elementary PTA president Holly Briscoe, who says that HPE is slated to lose one teacher: “The 4 kindergarten classes will be combined to create 3 classrooms and the kindergarten teacher will then be moved to another grade level and displacing the least senior teacher, and affecting upward of 90 students, or approximately a quarter of our total population.”
(added) WEST SEATTLE ES: Thanks to the parent who sent an image of the letter sent to some families, in which principal Vicki Sacco said a lower enrollment for first grade than expected had led to the loss of one teacher.
THURSDAY NIGHT P.S. Some of the concerned parents at Schmitz Park suggested we cover tonight’s Curriculum Night for the first- and second-grade families, and so we did. The cuts were a hot topic, to say the least. We will be writing a separate story about it for tomorrow morning. No revelations but some insight, and also a spirit of bringing together the wider West Seattle community to fight for the state to fix education funding.
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