On Thursday, the staff learned that View Ridge was one of 28 schools in the district that would lose one (or more) staff members due to lower than projected enrollment at the school. The staff and PTA leadership mobilized immediately, and have been working hard both to simultaneously fight against this decision and also make a plan whose number one priority is making sure the kids’ needs come first.
At this point, a plan is still being finalized by the staff and building leadership as to how we will handle the loss of a classroom teacher position this school year. For the most up to date information, please join Principal Roos and Asst. Principal Eckert for a parent information meeting on Wednesday from 8:00-8:30 a.m. in the cafeteria. In the interim, we wanted to share as much background information as possible:
- The district makes staffing adjustments every school year at the first of October – comparing how many kids are actually enrolled to how many they expected to enroll. They then notify schools if they need to adjust the number of teachers. According to the district, View Ridge is under-enrolled by 21 students. This year, 19 schools in the district have to reduce the number of teachers, 9 will not be allowed to fill a teacher vacancy, and 11 need to hire at least one additional teacher.
- Which teacher is displaced during a staffing reduction is based purely on seniority in the Seattle Public School (SPS) district. Ms. Ang – a current second grade teacher – is the teacher in our building with the least SPS seniority and will be displaced. “Displacement” means that she doesn’t lose her job in SPS this year and will be eligible to move to another school with higher than expected enrollment that needs to hire a teacher. The actual enrollment in a grade has no impact on who gets displaced – our second grade has enough kids for four classrooms. We can’t speak to all the reasons for this policy, but it comes from the idea that elementary school teachers are hired into the school and not just a grade level. The size of a grade can change from year to year, but since teachers are certified to teach all elementary grades people don’t have to be fired just because you need three 4th grade classes one year and three 2nd classes the next year.
- Seattle Public Schools is down 724 students from what officials projected in the spring. Lots of people have ideas as to why, but the biggest factor is likely due to the fact that it is becoming prohibitively expensive to live in Seattle, and young families are moving north and south (where we understand school enrollment is up).
Building leadership and the entire teaching staff have been painstakingly deliberating the pros and cons of several options for the last couple days. A big thanks to our engaged parent community, many of whom continue to provide their insight and perspective on this situation to the teachers and Mr. Roos.
Many people have asked whether the PTA could just pay for Ms. Ang to stay on. Unfortunately, the short answer is no. Our PTA heavily fundraises and writes a large check to the district every year to pay for extra staffing – this year we paid over $241,000 for a whole bunch of staff (counselor, music, librarian, nurse, technology, and reading specialist). Issue #1: The LIMIT for PTA paying directly for staff is $250,000. The $9,000 extra we could pay to the district won’t make a dent (the average cost of one FTE is above $80,000). Issue #2: Funding an extra $80,000 for this year would force us to make additional cuts to other staff members next year, many of which we wouldn’t have at all in the building without PTA funding. Plus, if schools started paying more than the allowed $250,000, then we basically become a private school, disproportionately endowed over other Seattle schools who don’t have that kind of fundraising firepower. And, in that case, there’s also no incentive for the district and state to FULLY FUND elementary school education as a first priority.
Thanks to all of the parents who have been loudly advocating to the district against the displacement of Ms. Ang specifically, the district’s enrollment projection method that hires a teacher in May and displaces them in September, and the district process that allows teachers to be moved from a building a month into school. There are other schools even more affected than ours, and advocating for a better process can help all schools..
This is a long post, and thanks to everyone who made it to the end. Please know that, above all, we’re out there (along with the staff) advocating every day for our kids and will do everything in our power to make these transitions as painless as possible. Information on the staffing reductions has been changing often, and we’re trying to keep up to date and find ways to pass on the best information we have to our whole parent community.
In the meantime, move forward with flexibility, positivity, and above all, friendship. We’re lucky to be in the midst of a group of resilient kids and loving staff. Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions, and we’ll get you additional information as soon as we have it.
2018-19 PTA Co-Presidents