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Seattle School District

The Seattle School District has faced a number of financial issues over the last few years. In January 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court said the state had not met its constitutionally mandated “duty” to fund basic education, putting a new challenge in front of all school districts.

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seattleschoolsSEATTLE — The Seattle School Board has released proposed school attendance area boundaries for elementary and middle schools. The recommended boundaries will be presented at the Oct. 16 school board meeting; the board will take action Nov. 20. Community meetings to discuss the proposed boundaries begin next week.

Here are the map boundaries Seattle schools.

Also, to see where and when community meetings will be held, click here to got to the district’s Web page.

 

 

SEATTLE — As Washington schools continue to face huge challenges with test scores and student achievement, there’s a new proposal from one state lawmaker to help kick-start public education: Pay school board members, he argues, and thereby attract better leaders.

“We can’t demand that our kids and our teachers improve their quality, and not improve the quality of our management as well,” said state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle.

schoolboardSchool board members in Washington are basically volunteers. Yes, they get reimbursed a little for expenses such as gas and supplies but certainly not for their time.  And in a district like Seattle, a $1 billion annual enterprise, it’s a big job for someone who isn’t getting paid.

“Don’t we deserve a higher quality education system for our 50,000 kids,” asked Carlyle.

Carlyle argues that many of Seattle’s problems, and many problems in other districts, including the achievement gap, low graduation rates, and high turnover, can be tied to the fact that board members are volunteers, aren’t up to the job, and don’t have much time for it.

Carlyle’s plan would pay board members, starting in the biggest, most complex district in Seattle, a salary in-line with state legislators, which is $42,000 per year.

“It is unreasonable to expect people to have all of that knowledge and then be full-time volunteers on top,” said Carlyle. “It’s a bridge too far.”

Carlyle says the quality and diversity of the board would improve if members were compensated.

Retiring Seattle School Board Chairwoman Kay Smith-Blum agrees that it’s time to start paying some kind of salary.

“This is a job that averages, I believe, anywhere from 20-30 hours a week,” Smith-Blum said.  “Part of the reason that I personally chose not to run is that it is such a huge commitment, particularly for someone who has a full-time job, and we have three board members who have full-time jobs.”

Smith-Blum said that there are good quality candidates who don’t ever run because of the fact that it’s so overwhelming, with no compensation.

But others doubt that board pay is a panacea.

“I don’t think we are going to get a better corps of board candidates for that level of pay, and I don’t think anybody who is doing it is doing it for the pay,” said Charlie Mas who writes for the Save Seattle Schools website.  “Let’s remember, six of the last seven people who had the job ran for re-election.  So, the actual people who actually do the job clearly like it and want to keep doing it.”

Mas argued there’s a better solution to the fact that the job can be demanding, a solution that doesn’t involve paying board members.

“They don’t need to be paid themselves, they need some paid staff to answer those emails, to do some independent data gathering,” he said.  “Right now they are relying on the superintendent and staff to provide them with data.  And that’s not an unbiased source of data.”

Carlyle is working to get legislative support for his idea before lawmakers reconvene in Olympia in January.

SEATTLE — It was down to the wire for Seattle teachers.

teacherAt about 8 p.m. Tuesday, teachers voted to accept a new contract, averting a strike and allowing school to start on time Wednesday.

“It was very close,” teacher David Zwiren said.

Under the ratified contract, teachers will get a 2% pay raise the first year, then another 2.5% the second year.

“The union leadership pressures us because of time constraints. We are told they did the best they could, and we get crumbs again,” said teachers’ aide Raul Miranda.

“I am happy for that 2% percent raise,” said teacher Len Hill.

But the fight against standardized tests will have to continue because it will still be used to evaluate teachers.

“State law requires showing student growth, but state law definitely doesn’t require putting standardized test scores in teacher evaluations,” said teacher Jesse Hagopian.

The new contract also lengthens the workday for elementary school teachers by another 30 minutes, to 7 ½ hours.

“I am an elementary school teacher. We work the extra hours anyway, so we are really not going to see it,” said Hill.

Even after hours of debate, many teachers called it a close vote, estimating that only 60% of teachers seemed to be in favor of the new contract. About 1,500 teachers out of the 3,000 in the district attended the meeting at Benaroya Hall on Tuesday. The vote was taken by a show of hands.

“You are characterizing it as close. I think it was clear, it was very clear, different perspectives all around. It was robustly debated, all the issues were put on the table,” said Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp.

 

SEATTLE — Statement from Superintendent José Banda regarding the Seattle Education Association vote to ratify contract:

“I want to thank everyone involved for their hard work and dedication in negotiating this agreement. I appreciate each and every one of our staff members, whose work contributes to the academic success of our students. All of us at Seattle Public Schools look forward to welcoming our students and families to a new school year tomorrow.”

SEATTLE — Mayor Mike McGinn on Friday urged the school district and teachers to reach an agreement in contract talks, but said the city will provide free drop-in activities for some students in the event there is a strike next week and no classes.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Education Association, the teachers’ union, aid a mediator was called in Friday night  when an agreement could not be reached. Both sides will be back at the bargaining table Saturday.

mcginn5

“I urge the district and the teachers to do what it takes to reach an agreement and ensure our students are in the classroom on Wednesday,” said McGinn. “If they do not reach an agreement, we are able to provide some drop-in services for the students most in need, but our capacity is limited.”
 The city announced it will open and staff drop-in activities at 20 designated community centers for Seattle Public Schools students on free and reduced lunch from kindergarten to 8th grade if a strike delays the opening of Seattle Public Schools.

The free program will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Thursday and include supervised recreation activities, with an anticipated supervision ratio of 20 children to one adult leader. Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Associated Recreation Council will staff these sites.

 Due to space limitations, eligible students will be accepted as space permits each day. All students must have a completed registration form, which can be obtained at open community centers starting this weekend, at the community centers the day of the drop-in service, or online at http://www.seattle.gov/parks.

 

A registration form still must be printed and brought to the community center if registration has been done online. Parents can secure a spot for their child in advance by going to https://class.seattle.gov/parks/Start/Start.asp beginning Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m., but those spaces will not be held past 9:00 a.m. each day of the drop-in service.Parents are asked to drop off eligible children by 9:00 a.m. each day. Once signed in, children will only be released to the authorized contacts listed on the registration form (identification is required).

Parents are also asked to drop off a sack lunch with their child each day if possible. Breakfast, drinks, and snacks will be provided to all students, and lunch will be provided to those students who are unable to bring their own.The drop-in activities will be available at the following community centers:

  • Alki, 5817 Southwest Stevens Street
  • Ballard, 6020 28th Avenue Northwest
  • Bitter Lake, 13035 Linden Avenue North
  • Delridge, 4501 Delridge Way Southwest
  • Garfield, 2323 East Cherry Street
  • Hiawatha, 2700 California Avenue Southwest
  • High Point, 6920 34th Avenue Southwest
  • Jefferson, 3801 Beacon Avenue South
  • Loyal Heights, 2101 Northwest 77th Street
  • Magnolia, 2550 34th Avenue West
  • Magnuson, 7110 62nd Avenue Northeast
  • Meadowbrook, 10517 35th Avenue Northeast
  • Miller, 330 19th Avenue Northeast
  • Northgate, 10510 5th Avenue Northeast
  • Queen Anne, 1901 First Avenue West
    • Rainier, 4600 38th Avenue South
    • Ravenna-Eckstein, 6535 Ravenna Avenue Northeast
    • South Park,8319 8th Avenue South
    • Van Asselt, 2820 South Myrtle Street
    • Yesler, 917 East Yesler Way

    This service would be available until Friday, September 13, unless a strike ends and school begins before that date. If a strike continues beyond September 13, the City will examine its ability to continue providing this service.

    Parks will also retain the summer Teen Center hours until school resumes in order to provide some daytime drop-in activities for teens.

    Geographically located Teen Centers are Meadowbrook, Garfield, and Southwest. Hours will be from noon to 8:00 pm on days when school is not in session due to a strike. Parks will also have regular Late Night programs at the following geographically based Community and Teen Centers: Bitter Lake, Delridge, High Point, Garfield Teen Center, Meadowbrook Teen Center, Rainier, Rainier Beach, Southwest Teen Center, South Park, and Van Asselt.

Local News
08/29/13

Seattle teachers picket as contract talks go on

SEATTLE — If you passed Eckstein Middle School during the Wednesday afternoon rush, you may have thought Seattle public school teachers were already on strike.

teacher protestThere were teachers with picket signs chanting on the sidewalk and marching through the crosswalk.

They’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best — that a deal can be reached before the first day of school Sept. 4.

“I’m really hoping so. I’d really like to get in the classroom and get to work with the kids,” teacher Kurt Grevstad said.

Most of the teachers we spoke with say they are optimistic that a deal will be reached.

Union leaders say the demonstration is meant to send a message that teachers want to be in the classroom with their children when school starts next week.

Rest for these teachers has been in short supply.

“I’m tired. I thought everything would be done last week so it’s hard to have it go on, but I’m really optimistic,” Seattle teacher Kristin Bailey-Fogarty said.

The good news is both sides are still talking, but if Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp has any idea how the negotiations are going, he’s not telling.

“I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t go down to Vegas and gamble. I just deal with what’s in front of me and that’s what’s happening at the bargaining table.  The bargaining table is where the contract happens, that’s where the deal happens.  We respect the process and we’re trying to work as hard as we can to get a fair contract for teachers,” Knapp said.

Sticking points include longer days for elementary school teachers with no additional pay.

Compensation is another big one, and even bigger is teacher evaluations that some say are unfair for them and that don`t help students.

Their contract is up on Saturday and school is supposed to start on Wednesday — again there is optimism both sides will step up and come to an agreement for the sake of students.

“I know that our district wants to support kids. All of the teachers want to be back at work when school starts and I’m just hoping the two sides can come together and create a tentative agreement so we can vote and get back to work,” Bailey-Fogarty said.

Meanwhile, parents like Marc Logue are caught in the middle.

“We’ll just have to make slight arrangements and we’ll deal with it.  I think the issues they’re dealing with are important,” Logue said.

The district has told parents to prepare for a strike.

They believe the deal on the table is generous and good for teachers and students, but they, too, say they respect the process and will continue to negotiate as long as possible.

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