Angered Over Seattle Schools' Staffing Shake-Up, Parents Briefly Disrupt District Meeting | KNKX

Angered Over Seattle Schools' Staffing Shake-Up, Parents Briefly Disrupt District Meeting

Oct 15, 2015

Fired up over school district administrators' proposed staffing shake-up that would remove teachers from as many as 24 schools, a group of roughly two-dozen parents briefly shut down a Seattle school board committee meeting Wednesday night.

The disruption came just 10 minutes into the meeting. School board members left the auditorium as the parents shouted their demand that district officials put the teacher shuffle on hold.

“We want to be your partners in this. You’re making us your enemies," parent Chandra Hampson told board members as she held up a sign bearing the name of the group she leads, "Kids Not Cuts," which formed to oppose the teacher displacements.

Too Many Teachers, Not Enough Students

The shakeup is the result of lower-than-projected enrollments in Seattle Public Schools. Though overall enrollment has grown since last year, the district's latest student counts are roughly 675 students short of district administrators’ expectations.

Officials say that leaves several schools with more teachers than the district can fund.

’No One Is Losing Their Job’

District administrators have identified 24 schools spanning grades K-8 that are over-staffed by a combined total of 27.5 positions, necessitating a district-wide staffing shakeup just weeks into the school year.

That has left many parents angry about the disruption. But district spokeswoman Jacque Coe said "Kids Not Cuts" is a misnomer — no teachers, she said, are losing their jobs in the staff reallocation process.

"No one is losing their job," Coe said. "We are moving staff from one school that has a higher enrollment to a school with less enrollment.”

Though district officials identified overstaffing at 24 schools, it is possible that not all of them will lose teachers. Principals still have a few days to find "creative ways" to keep their positions in schools, Coe said.

For instance, Seattle Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Flip Herndon gave the example of a school where a teacher is out on a long-term leave.

"If we can keep a teacher in that particular school and take the place of someone out on leave, that probably makes the most sense,” Herndon told reporters Wednesday, adding, "We’re trying to match up everything so that we can have the least disruption possible.”

Too Many Students, Not Enough Teachers

District officials also said five schools were identified as under-staffed, likely because they had higher-than-expected enrollments.

These schools need a total of six additional staff positions, Coe said, "but the number of open positions is much broader" in grades K-8.

But parents seemed equally irked by what they saw as a lack of transparency at district headquarters.

"We need to know how these cuts are happening, why these cuts are happening, and what we can do to prevent them," one parent told board member Sue Peters after the meeting was disrupted.

Roughly 10 minutes after leaving the room, board members returned to the auditorium, and the board's regular meeting continued uninterrupted.