UPDATE: Local schools hit with staffing changes, days before end of the year

(UPDATED WEDNESDAY with update on enrollment)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

With four days to go until the end of the year, and plans already in place for next year, Seattle Public Schools have just been notified of changes to teacher staffing.

In some cases, schools will add teachers. In some cases – they are being told to cut teachers, and Chief Sealth International High School is the hardest hit districtwide, with an order to cut 3 FTE (full-time equivalent) teacher positions, while the largest teacher addition districtwide is at West Seattle High School, with 2.4 more teaching FTEs. (added) Both schools were projected in the district “budget book” to be dropping in enrollment next year, but WSHS’s drop was projected to be larger than CSIHS’s – 1104 to 1090 for Sealth, 956 to 866 for West Seattle.

One of the educators who contacted us anonymously this morning with first word of all this sent along the district’s internal memo and numbers:

Today we are announcing teacher staffing adjustments at several schools. These adjustments are based on updated enrollment projections, open enrollment results, wait list moves, anticipated needs of each program and actual school capacity. If your staffing allocation has changed, please talk to your HR Business Partner to identify next steps for your school. If your allocation has increased, the Capital Projects team will contact you to discuss space implications. If your allocation has decreased, you must notify HR about potential displacements by 6/24.

We are pleased to report we are expecting 53,107 students (headcount) for our 2016-2017 school year, an increase of 783 students over last year’s official October headcount. …

Please keep in mind that while PowerSchool reflects actual enrollment through the current date, the enrollment projections include several additional factors, including the actual data and projected changes, as well as expected attrition and historical trends in enrollment for each school.

As a reminder, core staffing will not be adjusted at this time. We anticipate another set of adjustments following the start of school, which will be based on actual enrollment. At that point, core staffing will be reviewed for possible adjustments. Previously submitted mitigation requests for staffing above standards are still under consideration.

Please remember that elementary and K-8 schools must still adhere to the rules for K-3 class sizes. Schools have the option of using an FTE allocation for a reading and/or math specialist in order to meet the target ratios. The specialist must be assigned to the appropriate grade levels in order to be counted in the state calculations. If your school chooses to pursue this option, you must notify your Executive Director of Schools (EDS). Please see the email sent to all school leaders on May 13 for more details.

General Education: Please refer to the table below for staffing adjustments by school. Parentheses mean a reduction in staffing.

We can’t cut and paste the table, but here’s our transcription of what it lists for schools in the West Seattle area. If a school is NOT listed, that means it is not involved in this round of staffing-level changes:

*Arbor Heights Elementary, adding 1 FTE
*Chief Sealth IHS, losing 3 FTE
*Denny International MS, losing .4 FTE
*Lafayette Elementary, adding 1 FTE
*Madison MS, adding 1.2 FTE
*Schmitz Park Elementary, adding 1 FTE
*West Seattle Elementary, losing 1 FTE
*West Seattle HS, adding 2.4 FTE

Those are “general education” teachers. The letter also includes a table of special-education changes, affecting local schools as follows:

*Chief Sealth IHS, losing .6 FTE resource teacher, adding 1 FTE teacher for the SM4 level
*Fairmount Park Elementary, adding .2 FTE resource teacher
*Roxhill Elementary, losing .2 FTE resource teacher
*West Seattle HS, losing 2 FTEs at the SM2 level and adding 2 FTEs at the SM4 level

(Update: Here’s an explanation of SM2, SM4, and other special-education terminology; thanks to the reader who sent the link.) The letter continues with these closing paragraphs:

Displacement process: If your allocation has been reduced and you need to displace staff you must first try to solicit volunteers. The opportunity for voluntary displacements must be publicized at least five (5) days prior to identifying involuntary displacements. If there are insufficient volunteers, identify the least senior person qualified by category (ies) as the person to displace. If you displace an employee, all remaining teachers must be assigned in their approved categories. Employees must be displaced .5 or 1.0 FTE or to the extent of their contract. (Can be in increments of .4 or .6 at secondary). Complete one displacement form for each teacher displaced, checking the reason the displacement is necessary. …

We know that changes are not easy for our schools, students, staff, parents, and principals. By announcing these changes now, we hope to minimize potential disruption in September/October. Thank you in advance for helping make these adjustments occur smoothly.

The letter is signed by associate superintendents Michael Tolley and Flip Herndon and assistant superintendent Clover Codd.

Individual schools’ budgets for next year, and projected enrollment, had already been published in the “budget book” for 2016-2017 – you can review them starting at page 100. (Also note, we see via saveseattleschools.blogspot.com that the district has a public hearing on next year’s budget at 4:30 pm this Thursday, with time for public comment.)

You might recall that staffing changes ordered a month into the school year caused controversy each of the past two years (here’s our fall 2015 coverage).

We are pursuing more information and will update with whatever more we find out.

ADDED 5:40 PM: We received this from the district’s chief engagement officer Carri Campbell:

The projections used in the 2016-17 Budget Book were done in February 2016. Those projections were updated in June, to incorporate open enrollment results and wait list moves. The revised projections have been shared with all principals.

The new projections were re-applied to our school staffing model (WSS) and as a result, adjustments (both up and down) were identified for some of our schools.

This process is a standard part of the district’s annual cycle of matching staffing to enrollment. We plan to examine staffing levels again after school starts in the fall, once actual enrollment numbers are known.

Campbell offered to put us in touch with district enrollment director Ashley Davies. We’ll be accepting the offer as part of followups on this.

ADDED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: We spoke with Davies at noontime today and will be publishing a followup later this afternoon. Meantime, the updated enrollment projections are now on the district website, showing Sealth losing more than 70 students from the February projections, and WSHS gaining about the same amount.

31 Replies to "UPDATE: Local schools hit with staffing changes, days before end of the year"

  • AJP June 20, 2016 (1:09 pm)

    Welp, the way it looks right now, schools in higher income areas are gaining teachers, and schools in lower income areas are losing them. Nice. I sure hope I’m wrong.

    • fatkitty June 20, 2016 (1:24 pm)

      That’s what it looks like to me too, AJP.

    • WSB June 20, 2016 (1:26 pm)

      It does appear to be mostly a north-south split. It also doesn’t appear to be correlatory with enrollment, because, for example, both WSHS and CSIHS are projected to have enrollment drops next year, in the budget book (as linked toward story’s end) – but WSHS is losing more than CSIHS – West Seattle is projected to drop to 866 from this year’s 956, while Sealth is projected to drop to 1090 from this year’s 1104. Adding that to the lead.

      • Bonnie June 20, 2016 (1:36 pm)

        Then they need to explain how they came up with their numbers if both schools are dropping enrollment but CSIHS is losing and WSHS is gaining.   (btw-I am also fatkitty, if I use different browsers it automatically signs me in different)

  • daykay June 20, 2016 (1:28 pm)

    How can this be? Even if the enrollment discrepancies are legitimate, how can our public servants foist this on us now? They were at work during the strike, so were we not having a longer school year this would have hit on the last day of school!  How can families, students, and school personnel be expected to react with anything but anger and disdain? How can taxpayers tolerate such work?

  • Frustrated June 20, 2016 (1:34 pm)

    The cuts to Chief Sealth are unconscionable. 

  • Stefen June 20, 2016 (1:48 pm)

    How do you cut 4/10ths of a full time position?

    • MyTooSense June 22, 2016 (4:18 pm)

      At the high school level, each class equals .2;  full time is 5 classes or 1.0 FTE.  So you cut back on the number of classes they teach.

  • Repulsively clear June 20, 2016 (1:51 pm)

    Just look at the attendance areas on the District’s attendance maps to get a full sense of the cynicism at work downtown: students who live two blocks west from Sealth on Thistle (on Sealth’s side of the street!) attend West Seattle. Walk two blocks or drive 4.5 miles? 

    Have a look also at how close the Sanislo students live to Denny, but are sent to Madison.

    And why does Sealth get all the High Point neighborhood?

    Why is the boundary line not drawn straight across, east to west?

    Here’s the WSHS attendance boundaries map:


    And here’s CSIHS’s map:  http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Maps/nextyearboundarymaps/pdfs/AA_HS_ChiefSealth.pdf 

    • Repulsively clear June 20, 2016 (2:02 pm)

      I hit enter too soon.

      The maps show that West Seattle HS’s area dips down to capture all the waterfront, rises up to leave High Point to Sealth, then drops down again to capture Sanislo. There’s no river to blame that bizarre border pattern on – just human interference. To what end? A cynical person would think the district was trying to create a homogenous, higher income school in West Seattle’s north end….

      • Bonnie June 20, 2016 (2:37 pm)

        Don’t quote me because I do not know if this is correct or not but I heard once that the lines are drawn that way so that they can get more money if one school has more free/reduced lunch.  They get more money.  So if they have both schools more straight down the lines neither school will get money.  Something to do with Title 1.  I don’t know if that is true or not though.

      • MyTooSense June 22, 2016 (4:20 pm)

        Those boundaries likely follow the boundaries for the feeder schools at the elementary and middle school level.

    • Lynn June 20, 2016 (3:33 pm)

      When the new student assignment plan was put into place many parents in West Seattle told the district that assigning four elementary schools to Madison and West Seattle and six to Denny and Sealth was going to starve the north end schools of students and teachers and the ability to offer a variety of electives and overcrowd the south end schools. The error was not corrected and sure enough Sealth was overcrowded and West Seattle was one of only two high schools in the district that had empty seats and no waitlist.

      A couple of years ago boundaries for many schools were redrawn to correct situations like this and to prepare for the new buildings coming online over the course of the BEX IV levy. District staff suggested moving West Seattle Elementary into the Madison/Denny pathway to rebalance enrollment and equalize the poverty rates at the two sets of schools. Somali immigrant parents living at High Point and the staff of organizations working with that population spoke up very clearly and stated that they wanted their children to remain in the Denny/Sealth pathway both for the IB program at Sealth and the resources available to them at those schools. As a result, Sanislo was moved to the north end pathway in West Seattle Elementary’s place.

  • AJP June 20, 2016 (1:53 pm)

    Everyone, call your legislators and demand that they fully fund education. It’s in our state’s constitution, and with very little exception, all the legislators and even the Governor are just pushing it aside. SPS can only do so much. The quality education gap is ridiculous between rich and poor even on our own peninsula. Push hard for it, even if you don’t have kids, and especially if you complain about “kids these days”.  This non-profit group is a great resource in understanding this problem and finding ways to fix it: http://paramountduty.org/

  • Smitty June 20, 2016 (2:06 pm)

    Tangential question.

    What would happen if all the private/catholic parents all of a sudden decided to send their kids to their neighborhood public school?  Enrollment would increase by about ~20% but would funding also increase?

    • melissa June 20, 2016 (2:40 pm)

      Yes. Funding is connected to enrollment. And if enrollment is higher or lower than predicted, staffing is adjusted accordingly. Remember the kerfuffle at Gatewood (last year, I think), where the teacher was cut — moved to another school — after school had already started? That happened because enrollment was down. It’s a crazy way to do things. Destabilizing to students and staff alike.

      • watertowerjoey June 20, 2016 (4:49 pm)

        Not to beat a dead horse, but would the “pie” grow too or just the percentage received of the overall amount that is going to be spent?  In other words, does the amount “per student” change based on total enrollment?  I have private school friends who say they are already paying for public education just not using it?

        • melissa June 20, 2016 (10:23 pm)

          The amount per student remains the same.

  • WestSeattleSteve June 20, 2016 (2:41 pm)

    @ smitty,

    Dollars directly follow students. The state pays x$/student. Thats the October 1 count they are referring to  

  • Sealth Parent June 20, 2016 (3:06 pm)

    Teachers, staff and parents put in endless hours juggling to meet the budgeting and scheduling process. Now this? At this late time? What about the 11 million surplus? Do we need to craw on hands and knees and beg? 

    No we do not get more title 1 funding as we are “only” at 60% free/reduced we need more like 80%. Our families and staff are continuing to  suffer due to district neglect. No matter how hard our staff and kids work, we don’t seem to get a break.

    • fatkitty June 20, 2016 (3:19 pm)

      Thanks for clarifying.  Now I can’t figure out why one schools adds staff and one loses staff.  How does that work?  Is it because of the HCC program?  Or something to do with Special Ed?  I’m confused and frustrated.

      • Lynn June 20, 2016 (3:42 pm)

        Not everything can be blamed on HCC. There is no HCC program at West Seattle High School. Several things could have happened. Maybe an unexpected number of private school students in WSHS’s attendance area enrolled in the district for high school. (I don’t think that’s it.) Maybe an unusually high number of students who live in Sealth’s attendance area requested to attend West Seattle High School. Maybe the district limited transfers from WSHS to Sealth in order to shore up enrollment at WSHS. (They do this to Rainier Beach students.)

  • Doree Fazio-Young June 20, 2016 (3:58 pm)

    Chief Sealth’s main problem is the Principal She needs to go!!!!! Since she took over the helm our enrollment has continued to drop and the moral of the staff has suffered tremendously 

  • pissed teacher June 20, 2016 (6:32 pm)

    This district will do anything to give lip service to diversity, the underserved, and the work they do towards equity.  All the while they slash and slash and slash.  The three people it took to compose this announcement make over $300K/year combined!  Yet they sent this letter to principals at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon.

    Even middle school students trying to dump their first boyfriend/girlfriend know that if you don’t have the guts to do something face to face you send a note when you know the person won’t read it.  Then at least one of them decided to be ‘out of the office’ most of the week just incase someone had something to say about their decision.

    Sealth staff and families have worked for years to make this the most appealing school in the district.  From the days when all schools were choice schools Sealth started the IB program and started syphoning students from across the district.  Our enrollment even when up when we went to Boren! The district put a stop to that.  We continued to build the IB program (along with many others) that the district does not fund.

    Our school is constantly the whipping boy of the district.  Those at the top need to be held accountable.

    The district office will be holding meetings around budget on Thursday afternoon.  Sealth could use all the help we could get.  Many teachers are choosing to skip our planned end of year celebration in order to attend.

  • Paul Fischburg June 20, 2016 (7:25 pm)

    West Seattle Families: I’ve heard anecdotal reports that families who WANTED to enroll their students at Chief Sealth during the open enrollment period were told by the school district that they couldn’t for one reason or another.  If this happened to you, can you post here?  It would be truly strange if the District was steering families away from Sealth and then we end up being under enrolled and losing staff as a result.  Thanks!

    • Lynn June 21, 2016 (6:53 am)

      If that’s the case, it was likely done to maintain enrollment at their attendance area school. In the last year or two, they have begun to consider the effect on the school a student is leaving when making transfer decisions. It does seem they might be forcing enrollment at WSHS.

  • realist June 20, 2016 (7:31 pm)

    This does not take into account the loss of tier 2 intervention programs like Resource losing their instructional assistants. Parents of SpEd students should inquire about their student’s schools changes in support staff as well as certificated staff. The district advertises to families certain ratios of teacher:student:instructionalassistants but they are removing the instructional assistants for Resource (tier 2 intervention) if the school also has the ACCESS program. Messed up. SpEd staff got screwed in the new contract                

  • sick of SPS politics June 21, 2016 (9:17 am)

    It is TIME for SPS to be made accountable, quite frankly, for their discriminatory actions — and this sure appears to be one of them.  The south end typically gets the shaft and the district gives the parents/community very little time to react — likely to avoid any backlash.  It’s not very convenient or comfortable to be challenged on your crappy decisions, and I guarantee you the goal is to sweep this one under the carpet.

    The truth of the matter is that the downtown administration is the top-heavy load that takes away teachers from our kids’ classrooms in some behind the scenes “budget” (or is it keep-my-own job?) meeting. 

    I’m sick of SPS politics and feel our kids deserve better leadership.  Let’s support our teachers and make our voices heard at this Thursday’s budget meeting. 

  • C June 21, 2016 (12:21 pm)

    Remember WSHS dropped it’s Chinese program. So one of the added positions might be trying to replace that horrible decision. I’d love to hear that they reconsidered their mistake. 

    • MyTooSense June 22, 2016 (4:25 pm)

      The Chinese program has been reinstated.

  • Admiral Mom June 21, 2016 (3:38 pm)

    Unbelievable. Unacceptable. This is no way to treat our families.

    I encourage parents and community members to write to the school officials as well as the School Board Director Distric VI, Leslie Harris leslie.harris@seattleschools.org

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