Three Seattle school board members' terms are up this November, but only one of them, board President Michael DeBell, has been public about his intentions to seek re-election before candidate filing begins next week.
DeBell, who represents District 4, has already opened a campaign account with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Thus far, he has raised $946 and spent $500 in the non-partisan race. Neither he, nor any of his colleagues who could seek re-election, have knowledge of any opponents or potential opponents.
Seattle School Board member Cheryl Chow will not seek a second term. In her statement this morning, Chow said that "there comes a time to walk away from the public spotlight and focus my energy on other personal goals. Now is that time."
The former City Councilmember said that when she was elected to the school board the district was in "turmoil." While in office Chow said that she made a difference by helping to recruit Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, creating a balanced budget and improving the relationship with the Legislature and the Governor.
The layoffs affecting teachers and certificated staff in Seattle Public Schools for 2009-10 will total about 172, the district reported in a news release Monday.
Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson confirmed the details, all of which are in response to an estimated $34 million budget shortfall for 2009-10. The layoffs account for 5 percent of the total certificated workforce, although Goodloe-Johnson said in the news release she was optimistic that retirements and resignations would allow the district to recall some of those who are being laid off.
After three years of planning a new method for assigning students to a school, the School Board is ready to vote on a proposal next month.
Public hearings will be held on June 3 and June 17, with a vote scheduled for the latter date. The new student-assignment plan would begin to be implemented in fall 2010.
At recent board meetings, parents have insisted that "proximity to home" should be the number one priority in making the school assignment decisions.
Seattle Public Schools' budget deficit going into the new fiscal year is projected at $34 million, up from the previous estimate of $25 million.
The district made the announcement in a news release Wednesday, crediting the larger deficit to additional fund reductions from the state.
"Due to the unprecedented reduction in state funding we now have made the painful decision to implement a reduction in force of certificated staff" (which include teachers, counselors and librarians), the news release says. "We know that valuable staff, their families, students and school communities are affected by this news."
Last week labor negotiations between Seattle Public Schools and the teacher's union made headlines when the union accused Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson of firing more than three thousand schoolteachers and other certified employees.
According to the union, Goodloe-Johnson sent out letters to teachers which stated "there is probable cause to nonrenew your contract."
Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson informed 3,300 teachers that she was terminating their contracts and offered them a new one with one less day. By doing so, the teacher's union is accusing Goodloe-Johnson of firing the schoolteachers and probably breaking the law.
"Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson's decision to fire nearly all of Seattle's teachers is bizarre," said Olga Addae, Seattle Education Association president. "Her actions are a flagrant violation of state labor law. She can't do it, and even if she could, what she's doing is a slap in the face to every teacher in Seattle."
State lawmakers on Thursday announced they would not hold a special session, which could provide school districts with a clearer picture of how they should arrange their budgets.
Earlier in the week, Seattle Public Schools spokesman David Tucker said one of the more significant proposals yet to be resolved was a bill that would have lifted the levy lid by 4 percent. The Legislature also sought to cut $60 million in school-levy equalization funding. Since lawmakers weren't able to get to those bills before the end of regular session on April 26, none of these changes will occur, at least for next school year.
Two cadres of people left the Seattle Public Schools district office Wednesday with disappointment and concern, those who fought against using a certain math textbook and those worried about layoffs.
The school board, by a 4-3 vote, approved a math committee's recommendation to replace the four, integrated instructional materials now used in high school classrooms with the Discovery Series next school year, which affects algebra, geometry, advanced algebra, pre-calculus, calculus and statistics.
For the first time in over a decade, Seattle high schools are very close to receiving a new math textbook series.
That is dependent on the outcome of Wednesday's school board meeting, where a vote is scheduled on switching from four, integrated series of math instructional materials to just the Discovery Series. Teachers and students voiced numerous objections to Discovery at the April 22 board meeting, and after lengthy discussion, each board member indicated how they would vote, which would have resulted in a 3-3 deadlock.
Three Seattle schools have opted to close for a seven-day stretch "out of an abundance of caution" over the 10 probable swine flu cases reported in King County, including two elementary school-aged children.
Officials with the district were not immediately available for comment Thursday, but the district's Web site says that public health officials have recommended Aki Kurose Middle School and Stevens Elementary close starting Friday, May 1, with plans to reopen May 8. Madrona K-8 was closed on Thursday, April 30, with reopening planned for May 7.
This is not the time to panic. Seriously folks. So far 13 people in Washington might have swine flu. No one in the state has been diagnosed with swine flu. However, as a precautionary measure, Seattle Public Schools have shutdown three of the city's schools: Madrona K-8, Aki Kurose Middle School and Stevens Elementary for a week at least.
Members of a local school employees union that includes cooks continue to object to the district's plans to prepare food off site at a central kitchen starting this fall.
Several dozen of them took to the street outside the Seattle Public Schools district office ahead of Wednesday's regular board meeting.
Seattle Public Schools plans to layoff or reduce in rank a "limited" number of employees to balance its 2009-10 budget.
Many unknowns exist in exactly how the "reduction in force" will play out, as the district is still waiting to see how the state Legislature reconciles the budget differences between the House and Senate, including where to allocate federal stimulus dollars.
The level of rigor in high schools is strong enough that a high school reform committee is recommending the school board abolish a requirement that graduates have at least a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average.
Several other reform proposals will come before the school board between now and May 1. There may be a weighted, 11-point grading system, in which "+" and "-"; grades can be assigned. This would throw out the current five-point grading system. Honors courses would be worth a half-point more than they are currently and a full point more for advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses.
The latest round of school closures has brought the total number of buildings or sites to meet that fate to 28, and the Seattle School Board must decide their future in the next few months.
During a workshop on Wednesday, district staff presented to the board the first proposal for what to do with 16 of the buildings or sites. The Martin Luther King Elementary School, Rainier View Elementary and Van Asselt Elementary would be declared surplus under the proposal, meaning they could be leased long-term or sold.
Emotions ran wild last night as the Seattle School Board voted to approve a plan to close several schools and to relocate and eliminate a number of programs.
One day before the Seattle School Board is scheduled to vote on a plan to close schools and relocate, or eliminate, as many as 13 programs, several of the board members have recommended changes.
Days before the Seattle School Board is scheduled to vote on whether to close four Seattle public schools, hundreds of people gathered on Sunday afternoon at T. T. Minor Elementary School to march to Garfield Community Center to protest the plan.