Seattle Public Schools

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.

As Seattle Public Schools begin their final week of classes, the district is turning to technology to rescue some summer school programs it cut last year. SPS will offer online courses at Franklin and possibly another high school, and three others plan to extend their school-year virtual learning into the summer. Cleveland and Rainier Beach high schools will have limited classroom programming.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

You might say the Dalai Lama was his guidance counselor.

When Choega Thundrup dons his cap and gown Friday, it will be thanks to the spiritual leader who set him on his path, and people who risked their lives to help him get there.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

It wasn’t on the school board agenda, but members of Susan Enfield’s cabinet paid her a surprise tribute during her final school board meeting Wednesday. Enfield is leaving Seattle Public Schools this month after 16 months as interim superintendent.

Enfield wiped away tears as a string of her deputies praised her, beginning with Enfield’s number-two, Interim Deputy Superintendent Bob Boesche.

“So my word is motivator. There wasn’t a meeting ever, an encounter ever with you, where I didn’t walk out [feeling] motivated to do my best,” Boesche said.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle school counselors say they’re getting hit harder than ever by budget cuts, and a pack of them turned out at Wednesday’s school board meeting to protest the latest round of layoffs.

It all stems from a change three years ago to how Seattle Public Schools funds counselors in elementary schools. The district stopped paying for them as regular employees, and instead gave schools a choice: use your discretionary money, or let them go. Now, almost two thirds of elementary schools don’t have a counselor, and the district has sent pink slips to a dozen counselors at middle-and high schools.

All 3 candidates for Superintendent of  Seattle Public Schools have classroom as well as superintendent experience.   The finalists will be in Seattle next week for interviews.

The finalists are:

Jose Banda, 55, is a former high school principal who now heads the Anaheim City School District, a district that just includes elementary schools.  84 percent of the students in the district are Latino and Banda  is bilingual. 

All Seattle schools will be closed on Wednesday, according to Evening activities are also canceled.

A new look at test scores by Seattle Public Schools shows American-born black students lag behind black immigrants in academic achievement.

The interim head of Seattle Public Schools says she doesn't want the job permanently.

Susan Enfield made the surprise announcement Friday in a letter to staff and community members.

A man accused of taking money from a Seattle School District program pleaded not guilty Thursday to theft charges. KOMO Radio reports Silas Potter remains in jail following his arraignment.

Katie Kennedy

Hundreds of high school students are rallying at the University of Washington in protest of cuts to education. They walked out of their classrooms this afternoon and marched or rode buses to the University District. 

Students from at least five high schools, including Ingraham and Nathan Hale - and even a few students from Tacoma - have banded together for the protest. 

Paula Wissel / KPLU

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg has brought felony theft charges against former Seattle Public Schools manager Silas Potter Jr. and two associates, David A. Johnson and Lorrie Sorensen.

Potter was at the center of a financial scandal that led to the firing last March of former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johsnon and Seattle Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Don Kennedy.

It's been eight months since the Seattle Public Schools financial scandal was first uncovered, and after a full criminal investigation, King County prosecutors plan to bring charges of felony theft against Silas Potter, Jr., the man at the center of the scandal.

The school year just started last month and chances are a lot of kids have already missed a day or two of class. Educators say that’s a huge problem since attendance is one of the biggest indicators of whether students will graduate.

Now, some new efforts are underway to get kids to school ... one involves famous people. 

Tom Woodward / flickr

The Seattle City Council voted Monday to provide high-speed Internet to low-income students for less than $10 a month. The Great Student Initiative is expected to help 16,000 of the 47,000 students in Seattle Public Schools who are on the free lunch program.

rytc / Flickr

When kids in Seattle head back to school in a few weeks, you might notice a lot more of them getting there on foot.

Some Seattle students who took yellow buses last year won’t have service this year. Others could have to wait at new stops, up to a half of a mile away from their homes. 

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools will shut down for a day just before school starts this fall. It will also close early on a later date during the school year.

Lesley Rogers, chief communications officer for Seattle Public Schools, says asking most of its staff to be gone on the same day sends a message to the state.

Despite facing the steepest budget shortfall in the past 3 years, Seattle Public School officials say class sizes will not get any bigger next fall. The district's school board unanimously approved a plan last night to close a $45.5 million gap with considerable cuts to school supports and jobs, but teachers were largely spared.

Troy Cryder / NASA

The Space Shuttle Endeavor is headed to the International Space Station after a successful launch. On board is an experiment conducted by students in Seattle

A team from Ballard High School is cultivating E. Coli in space to see how it compares to bacteria on Earth.

Jean-Christian Bourcart

The University of Washington plans to launch a program to train and certify Teach for America recruits. People who go through the program would start teaching after just five weeks of intensive instruction.

Teach for America expects to bring at least 35 of its recruits to Seattle and Federal Way this fall.

Seattle Office for Education

Seattle Public Schools will get to keep using a controversial math textbook. An appeals court struck down a challenge to the "Discovering" math curriculum by a group of parents and local residents who call it “mathematically unsound.”

AP Photo

Girls start to think math is a boys’ subject when they’re just 7 or 8 years old. That’s what University of Washington psychologists found when they studied children’s stereotypes. They say those beliefs could play a major role in the choices kids make as they get older.

Charla Bear / KPLU

An independent watchdog committee could soon take over ethics investigations at Seattle Public Schools. The move is an effort to rebuild public confidence after an audit exposed questionable spending and a lack of oversight at the school district.

When state auditors investigated nearly $2 million in misspent funds by school district employees, they say an “atmosphere of fear and intimidation” was one reason whistle-blowers didn’t come forward. 

Charla Bear / KPLU

Most people know very little about the new head of Seattle Public Schools. After Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson was fired over financial irregularities last week, the school board named Susan Enfield interim superintendent. Enfield had only been with the district for a year and a half as Chief Academic Officer. KPLU education reporter Charla Bear sat down with her to find out what she brings to Seattle schools besides an impressive resume...and dozens of rubber duckies.

The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, which received $595,000 from Seattle Public Schools, insists taxpayers got their money's worth despite a state audit report calling the payments of questionable value.

Gary Davis / KPLU

The Seattle School Board could soon decide whether some district employees should lose their jobs over alleged fraud within the school system. This week, the board expects to receive the results of an investigation into $1.8 million dollars in contracts for services that might have never been completed, or even started. 

Elaine Thompson / AP

As schools across the state grapple with huge budget issues, administrators in Seattle say they need to cut elementary counselors, programs for struggling students and full-day kindergarten classes. Those are some of their final recommendations after months of pouring over options.  

Administrators did manage to shave more than $1.7 million from the budget gap, but they still face a nearly $35 million shortfall.