On February 2nd 2017, the Ballard High School PTSA held a very successful High School and Education Funding Panel Summary at the Winter general meeting. Below is a summary of that panel. First, a thank you to our panelists for the evening:
- Jerry Bender, Association of Washington School Principals
- JoLynn Berge, Assistant Superintendent, Seattle Public Schools
- Rick Burke, Director, Seattle Public Schools District 2
- Noel Frame, WA State Representative, 36th Legislative District
- Dan Gallagher, Director of College and Career Readiness, Seattle Public Schools Career and Technical Education
- Eden Mack, Legislative Chair, Seattle Council PTA
- Keven Wynkoop, Principal, Ballard High School
- Heidi Bennett, Ballard High School PTSA, Moderator
State Funding Crisis –Levy Cliff – Teacher and Staff Layoffs, Budgeting
Dem proposals using current Prototypical School Model (PSM)/funding formula to allocate FTEs and resources in their proposal, while Republican proposals to go back to using per pupil funding blocs for budgeting.
Current situation was likened to having carefully designed and built a car (PSM), but not putting gas into it, and saying that it doesn’t work. Dems want to fill up with gas, Rs want to re-design the car, and make do with less gas (funding).
Principals Association top priorities include: full state funding of public schools, including supports like counselors and nurses; professional development for principals, and simple majority vote for school bonds (as distinct from levies, which have already moved from super to simple majority vote approval margins).
School Board perspective includes value of continuity and stability for students and families, as well as robust materials, best practices by teachers and staff. Levy cliff disrupts these values.
Dems in legislature stress that state funding for public schools should be Sustainable, Sufficient, and Equitable.
District has around 3,000 teachers; anticipating around 200 RIFs between teachers and staff at schools and at central office, with many associated disruptive staff displacements between schools occurring as well.
TVW is a good resource, particularly Legislative Review program, to keep up with events.
- Senate Republicans proposed and voted in a bill that would fully fund basic education (SB5607) and postpone the levy cliff until 2019.
- Many problems with this bill, including, but not limited to the following:
- The Republican plan is based on replacing current local levies with a state property tax levy. Unfortunately, this assumes that current levels of funding are sufficient.
- Past legislation has allocated funding based on a “prototypical school”, but the Republican plan changes this to a per pupil funding model of $12,500. The problem with this is that it ignores the needs of schools based on location and the diverse needs of their students. Independent studies have shown the prototypical model is the most fair at allocating funds.
- There would be more money for ELL and Special Education students, but no extra money for students with mental health, drug, alcohol, or homelessness issues.
- All money the state receives from federal sources, including free and reduced lunch funds, Title I funds, bond issues, and special education funds would be deducted from the $12,500 total.
- High poverty schools would receive extra funds, but the poverty level would be changed to the federal poverty level. Right now the state uses free and reduced lunch income levels to determine which schools receive extra funds – these levels are significantly higher than the federal poverty rate.
- The plan also eliminates lower class sizes that were voted into law in initiative 1351.
- Some results: ⅔ of school districts will lose funds; many districts would lose funds and see an increase in taxes; Seattle could see $50 million decrease in Special Education funding; new funding system not put into place until 2020 while levy funding would expire in 2018, leaving a 1 year gap in funding (another levy cliff).
- The House has come out with its own policy for funding and will discuss it in the appropriations committee on Monday, February 6th (HB1843).
- The Governor has also come out with a plan for fully funding education.
- A comparison of all 3 plans can be found here: WEA comparison and WSPTA comparison
SPS options for this coming year’s $74 million budget shortfall:
- Spend all reserves
- Roll back decreases in K-3 class sizes
- Roll back assistant principal supports
- Decrease funding for librarians, counselors, and nurses
- Cut central office funding by 5.3% (25 positions), and schools by 4% (limited layoffs, mostly through natural turnover, but there would be a lot of staff moving around)
- Most of the cuts would be at elementary schools
24 Credit Graduation Requirement
Principals study group is evaluating options for 24 credit graduation requirement, which will phase in starting with this year’s 8th graders. They are re-envisioning high school programming and scheduling; possibly moving away from traditional 6 period day. They are viewing issues through an equity lens. Graduation requirements not the same as college entrance requirements.
Considering 3 trimesters, 5 classes instead of 6, for 7.5 credits per year; more choices and flexibility to meet 24 credits, and have more wiggle room to achieve graduation.
- Currently students in Seattle need 21 credits to graduate
- 24 credit requirements will affect rising 8th graders
- SPS currently offers 24 credits, so there will be no buffer for failure after new requirements take effect
- There are opportunities for students to get “cross-credits” in which 1 class actually counts for 2 credits (especially for Career and Technical Education – CTE – classes) or “dual-credits” in which 1 class counts for high school and college credit
- High school principals are currently meeting every 2 weeks to reenvision the high school schedule to make it more relevant for today’s students
Lincoln High School opening
Rick Burke is lead for School Board on Lincoln HS. There will be public meetings over next several months; opportunities to get involved in planning. Opening date 2019. Capital funding in place. Lots of details to be worked out.
Plans for the New Lincoln High School:
- Will open in 2019
- Will require a reevaluation of high school boundaries across the district, with new boundary adoptions made by October 2017
- Boundary adoptions will also reflect a planned 500 student addition to Ingraham High School
- The enrollment model has not yet been determined (SPS Board member Rick Burke is leaning toward opening it as a 9th and 10th grade school)
- Planning to select principal by fall of 2017
- Program will be determined by community engagement (SPS Board member Rick Burke is planning a community meeting on February 17th, but no details yet
Notes provided by Brian Duncan, Legislative Chair, Ballard High School PTSA and Natalya Yudkovsky, Legislative Chair, Eckstein Middle School PTSA. Please note that while our note takers did an excellent job, there may be inaccuracies and errors. It was a busy night, and a lot of ground was covered.