Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, confirmed today, May 15, that the School district is implementing a layoffs in response to an estimated $34 million budget shortfall for 2009 and 2010.
The layoffs will affect approximately 172 teachers and other certificated staff (approximately 5 percent of the total certificated workforce), although Goodloe-Johnson said she was optimistic that retirements and resignations would allow the district to recall a number of the individuals who are being laid off.
“Closing a $34 million budget gap requires a combination of strategies,” said Goodloe-Johnson in a statement released Friday.
She noted that the district has already implemented a number of budget-cutting strategies, including a reduction in central office staff, hiring freezes, increased efficiencies in operations such as transportation and nutrition services, closing schools, a responsible use of reserves, and freezing cost-of-living-adjustments.
School Board representative for district VI (West Seattle and South Park), Steve Sundquist, will be at Uptown Espresso for an informal discussion with parents and guardians Tuesday, May 26 at 9 a.m.
Uptown Espresso is located at 4301 S.W. Edmunds St. in West Seattle. All people interested in education are welcome.
Since elected to the School Board in November 2007, Sundquist has held several of these informal gatherings where he has invited the public to engage in a discussion about any concerns or comments regarding public education.
Eight students from Chief Sealth High School recently took an educational trip to Antigua, Guatemala to both help build and learn about community and leadership.
Another group of six high school students from Chief Sealth will be participating in the summer 2009 trip to Guatemala, which begins on June 24 and ends on July 8 this year. Both trips are sponsored by Global Visionaries, a group which states its mission to be to "educate and empower youth to become active community leaders and global citizens."
Chief Sealth High School is one of the eight schools that have been participating in year-long educational programs sponsored by Global Visionaries. These educational programs culminate with a two-week trip to Guatemala.
Michaela A. Milo, a student from Chief Sealth who participated in the program, which culminated with the spring 2009 trip said, “I’d say Global Visionaries is something to experience if you love meeting new and exciting people, because I know I have made so many new friendships and its hard to leave them behind in Guatemala.”
Seattle School Board member Michael DeBell has announced that he will seek re-election to the post he has held since 2005. DeBell represents School Director District IV, which includes Ballard, Queen Anne, and Magnolia.
“We have plenty of work ahead of us,” DeBell said in a release announcing his bid for re-election, “but we’ve made great strides in our effort to bring positive change to Seattle Public Schools. The pieces are now in place: a strong new superintendent, a thoughtful and effective new board, and an ambitious five-year strategic plan to guide our work. We are positioned to accomplish the turnaround that will make our schools a model for the nation. I am eager to continue building on what we’ve started.”
Citing improved student achievement in every school as his top priority, DeBell highlighted several steps currently in progress that will have a positive impact:
- Reorganizing our budget to maximize tax dollars going to classroom instruction.
- Redesigning our Student Assignment Plan to insure that every home has a guaranteed nearby school assignment.
The Seattle School District presented to the public a preliminary draft of its new Student Assignment Plan that is scheduled for implementation this fall, but some local parents are petitioning against it out of concern the new system could force students out of their neighborhoods.
Dr. Tracy Libros, manager of enrollment and planning for Seattle Public Schools, said the district decided to split up the schools into three types; attendance area, service and option schools.
She presented the draft plan on May 6 at a community engagement meeting held at Ingraham High School.
“Each attendance area school has a geographic boundary and students are assigned to those schools based on their address, this is kind of the starting point,” Libros said.
Elementary attendance area schools would act as a filter for nearby middle schools in the area, so students who are in the elementary area will go to middle school together, Libros said.
As for students in K-8 attendance area schools, they too will be a part of the same middle school attendance area.
Six local teens are raising money for Amigos de las America to help fund community service projects in Latin America that they will work on this summer.
Andrea Adachi, Rachel Cermak, Johanna Garcia, Kata Martin, Kyeti Morgan, and Lukas Shadair will work on Amigos projects in rural Paraguay, Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua.
They have organized the Amigos Garage Sale, part of the West Seattle Community Garage Sale. All proceeds from the Amigos Garage Sale will go toward the summer service projects. In addition to garage sale items, organic Fair Trade coffee and chocolate will be available for purchase.
Amigos de las Americas is a non-profit service organization that has fielded approximately 20,000 volunteers during the last 40 years working in more than a dozen Latin American countries on projects related to healthcare, water sanitation, the environment, youth education and community based initiatives. Amigos values and encourages youth leadership, multicultural understanding, service, and the development of projects that address community priorities.
During the months of April and May in celebration of Earth Month, Seattle Public Schools students, staff and volunteers are participating in numerous environmental projects throughout the district.
Environmental studies and projects support Seattle Public Schools’ strategy to strength and align science and math curriculum as part of the district’s strategic plan, Excellence for All , according to a release from the district.
This Saturday, April 25, Arbor Heights Elementary volunteers will trim ivy and weed to beautify their school’s front entry and playground between 9 a.m. and noon.
From 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. that same day, Schmitz Park Elementary will be hosting its annual Spring Clean. Thirty to 40 volunteers will work with students and staff to weed and mulch their landscape and garden beds.
Ballard High School senior Lizardo Lopez has been awarded a scholarship from the South Seattle Community College Foundation. He is among 18 graduating seniors to receive the awards, which cover full resident tuition for the 2009-2010 academic year at South Seattle Community College.
Scholarship criteria included academic achievement, leadership potential, community service, and financial need.
The remaining scholarship recipients represent, Lindbergh, West Seattle, Chief Sealth, Global Connections and Highline High Schools; Seattle Urban Academy; and South Seattle’s Career Link Academy.
West Seattle School Board member Steve Sundquist will be at the Uptown Espresso for an informal community gathering to discuss education issues Wednesday, April 29 at 9 a.m.
Uptown Espresso is located at 4301 S.W. All people interested in education are welcome.
Union Pacific Railroad awarded $5,000 recently to Page Ahead, a program that provides new books and develops reading activities that empower at-risk children.
Brock Nelson of Union Pacific delivered the check in person to Susan Waller, development coordinator, and Susan Dibble, executive director, of Page Ahead.
“I’m sure it can go to a good cause and they can use the money and I would like to do it in person as opposed to putting it in the mail,” Nelson said.
Union Pacific Railroad has an annual foundation program where candidates can apply for donations from the railroad branch present in the their community.
Nelson said they do the best they can to get the money back into the community where they operate.
“For an organization our size, it’s a very significant gift, we appreciate it very much,” Waller said.
Page Ahead, located at 1130 N.W. 85th St., is an office of seven, with two full-time employees and a group of dedicated people who volunteer, some for up to the past 11 years.