Seattle Public Schools

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Another 1,300 children will pack into already-crowded Seattle Public Schools next year as the district rides a wave of population growth that, if trends hold, could swell enrollment to more than 60,000 students by the end of the decade.

Projections district administrators released Tuesday show enrollment growing to more than 52,300 students next school year — an increase of more than 7,000 students from seven years ago, when enrollment bottomed-out after a decade of decline.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Following a cash infusion from the state and agitation from building-level staff, Seattle Public Schools administrators announced this week they won't be cutting staff members at schools after all.

Superintendent José Banda said the district will use the $8.3 million from the state Legislature's newly-passed budget to restore the equivalent of 50 assistant principals, counselors and clerical staff positions they had intended to eliminate next year.

"We intend to fully restore what was cut," Banda wrote in a district-wide email.


  Roosevelt High School has invited an expert on teen substance abuse to address concerned parents after the the school's principal sent a letter to parents about an increase in drug and alcohol use at the school. 

The letter by principal Brian Vance said the school's number of disciplinary incidents involving marijuana and alcohol use had "doubled" since last year, from 12 incidents to 24.

Seattle Public Schools officials say they've observed a similar trend district-wide.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Teachers in 25 Seattle Public Schools have voted to reject their buildings' budgets for the next school year, and more may follow suit in the coming week.

Local teachers and union leaders coordinated the vote in hopes of forcing district officials to avoid cutting the equivalent of more than 50 full-time staff positions — clerical staff, assistant principals and school counselors — across the district's 95 schools. 

Wenmei Hill / Courttesey of Northwest Center

Northwest Center Kids in Queen Anne has rented the same building from Seattle Public Schools for decades. But the district says it’s short on space and needs the facility back in the next six months.

The program's location is hard to spot from the street. It’s tucked in near a city park on the downhill slope of north Queen Anne. Inside, toddlers with Down syndrome and preschoolers with feeding tubes play side by side with typically developing children.

Inclusion was the goal of the program’s founders back in 1965. They had kids with special needs, and instead of institutionalizing them, they started their own school.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

The Obama administration has issued new recommendations on classroom discipline that seek to end the apparent disparities in how students of different races are disciplined for breaking school rules.

Government civil rights data show that black students without disabilities are more than three times as likely as whites to be expelled or suspended. Critics say that creates a "school-to-prison" pipeline because many students enter the criminal justice system for violations.

Florangela Davila / KPLU

Seattle police have arrested four people occupying the vacant Horace Mann school in Seattle's Central District. Some activists inside had refused to leave the building even after they were warned against trespassing on school district property.

Associated Press

Enrollment at Seattle public schools is growing. More students are graduating from high school. And more high school students are taking college-level courses, according to the school district’s own scorecard released Tuesday.

But the district admits the same scorecard shows there’s much more work to be done.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

An additional 770 kindergarteners can now attend school for free as a result of Seattle Public Schools’ decision to offer free all-day kindergarten at 16 more schools.

The change took effect Nov.1, but it is retroactive to Sept. 4, meaning families will get refunds for September and October.

Seattle Public Schools

Where should Seattle children go to school? That’s the question Seattle Public Schools is hoping to answer as it redraws the school assignment map.

But before the district makes its final proposal, it wants to hear what parents have to say. The district is holding two more community meetings tonight and tomorrow night. It is also taking community input online. 

Diana Bodwin, who lives in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood, says she had expected to enroll her 4-year-old son, Teddy, in what she thought was her neighborhood school, Maple Elementary School. But under the district's proposals, Georgetown children would be assigned to Van Asselt Elementary School, which is farther south.

"We know Maple. We know that we feel connected to it, and we were prepared for it. And we had a good experience and good recommendations from parents who had been there," said Bodwin.

The school year will begin on Wednesday for students in Seattle, Snoqualmie, and south Kitsap County after their teachers reached last-minute agreements with their respective districts Tuesday.

Late Tuesday, the Seattle Education Association voted to approve a two-year agreement reached with the school district over the weekend. The contract includes a longer work day for some, as well as higher pay. 

The school year will start on time for students in south Kitsap County after teachers overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract on Tuesday.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

As the school year draw near, teacher strikes are a possibility in south Kitsap County and Seattle following disagreements over contract negotiations.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle teachers are expected to reject the school district’s latest contract offer at its meeting Monday evening, but the superintendent suggests the district is ready to deal on some key sticking points.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Seattle public schools kicks off the new school year on Sept. 4 with a projected enrollment of 52,000 students—an increase of 4,600 students in the past five years.

But how best to accommodate all those students in the future has Seattle schools and the teacher’s union at odds.

Seattle Public Scools

A group of local and national experts is calling on the Seattle School Board to get its act together.

Specialists in school district governance say the research is clear: School board dysfunction matters. Seattle Pacific University professor Thomas Alsbury said drama in the board room can poison the whole organization, which affects students.

“When boards and central office leaders are viewed as unstable or chaotic, excellent principals and teachers choose to go elsewhere,” he said.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle’s superintendent of schools was hired in hopes that he could avoid some of the turmoil and scandal of recent years. Jose Banda just wrapped up his first year in charge, and can claim some high-profile accomplishments. But some of the melodrama still lingers, with the school board sharply divided over its own role, and that of the superintendent.

Taking stock of his first year at the helm of Seattle Public Schools, Banda told KPLU a divided board has a definite effect on how he does his job.

Gabriel Spitzer

Seattle public high schools will be able to opt out of the controversial Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP tests, starting next year.

The policy change comes after teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School staged a boycott of the MAP tests in January, blasting the tests for giving unreliable data and for sucking up classroom resources. A half-dozen more Seattle schools have since signed on, and the protest has drawn national and international attention.  

how3ird / Flickr

Rainier Beach High School will become the third Seattle school to offer the International Baccalaureate program, district officials announced.

IB was originally developed to educate the children of diplomats in Europe, but is gaining popularity as a way to help turn around struggling urban schools. And Rainier Beach is one of those, with chronic under-enrollment and the lowest test scores of any comprehensive high school in the district.

Seattle’s school district has frozen hiring and spending in anticipation of a budget shortfall next year. But since officials say the change won't affect actual classroom resources or essential personnel, you might say the district has put hiring and spending in the fridge.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle Public Schools is reinstating a high school curriculum on race and social justice after suspending it over a student’s complaint, but the controversy is likely to continue.

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools is set to stop busing students to schools outside their neighborhood next year, but that move might cost more money than it saves. The situation dates back to Seattle's move to a system of neighborhood schools instead of district wide school choice. The district continued to give some kids rides to their old schools during the transition. 

A pack of King County school districts has won of slice of the federal government’s Race to The Top fund, worth $40 million dollars over four years. Seven districts applied for the grant together, as the Road Map District Consortium. They said they’ll use the money to beef up preschool programs, enrich science and math learning in the primary grades, and offer training and testing subsidies to high schools.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Many jobs of the future will be in fields that go by the shorthand “STEM”: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. But these are precisely the subjects where many American students are falling short. Educators are responding by creating STEM-focused schools, and in Seattle officials are breaking ground by pushing that emphasis back into younger classes, all the way to kindergarten.

Principal Shannon McKinney is in charge of figuring out how to build one of the first STEM elementary schools in the Northwest. K-5 STEM at Boren, as it’s awkwardly named, is in West Seattle, but any elementary student in the district can apply for a spot here.

As the school wraps up its first semester, McKinney and her team are still working out what a STEM education for Seattle’s youngest learners should look like.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle Public Schools will ask voters next year to approve more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funding, and this week the public will have two chances to weigh in on the district's proposal and its priorities.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The Washington state auditor has uncovered another batch of questionable spending by Seattle Public Schools in recent years, widening a scandal that cost a former superintendent her job. The new investigation found that former district official Silas Potter, Jr. made even more inflated payments than was previously known, spending millions of taxpayer dollars on work that was never done or grossly overpriced.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

As students around Puget Sound begin a new school year, administrators are pushing hard to close disparities in student achievement.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle’s new superintendent of schools won’t be voting for the charter schools initiative on the November’s ballot. He doesn’t care much for “site-based management” that gives lots of autonomy to individual schools and he’s leery of letting schools more easily opt out of controversial curricula, such as “discovery math.”

Backers of a measure to allow charter schools in Washington are scheduled to turn in their petition signatures Friday. Meanwhile, a pilot project designed in part to short-circuit the argument for charter schools was blocked Thursday in court.

The Seattle School Board voted Wednesday night to allow some commercial advertising on school grounds.

The vote reverses a ban that was imposed in 2004.