Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced last week that district-wide fall enrollment is lower than anticipated, necessitating fall staffing adjustments. STEM K-8 is affected by a .5 FTE reduction in staffing. Our circumstances were driven by lower middle school student enrollment than anticipated. Last spring STEM was projected to increase enrollment in all middle school grades. Our limited middle school history reflects stable, not increasing enrollment numbers. Apart from the addition of new grades, we maintain approximately the same number of middle school students each year (we lose a few, gain a few). The trend continued this fall. Compared to the overall SPS loss in enrollment, our enrollment remained stable.
STEM’s staffing adjustment will not affect classroom assignments or our middle school master schedule. It creates a .5 reduction to our new school intervention position filled by Anhsaly Grant. Ms. Grant will continue to be at STEM half-time supporting student intervention.
Staffing adjustments are disruptive and frustrating for staff, families and students. This year is especially challenging district-wide. Every year SPS sets aside funding to mediate enrollment changes at the school level. Unfortunately, the district’s actual enrollment for the 2018-19 school year is significantly lower than anticipated. For the first time in 10 years SPS enrollment is lower than the year before. District-wide there are 724 fewer students enrolled than were projected. District set-aside funds were not enough to cover the $7.5 million revenue loss from lower enrollment. SPS is also constrained by the projection of a significant deficit next year due to restructured state education funding. The outcome is that SPS must move staff from schools with lower-than-projected enrollment to schools that need additional teachers. SPS is not alone in having fewer students. Districts near Seattle are also experiencing lower enrollment, while districts further south have seen an increase. Reasons vary, but the cost of housing in our area compared to wages is one likely factor. The appearance of charter schools has also affected secondary enrollment. District staff are committed to analyzing and better understanding the shifts in enrollment. Enrollment planning staff will be working closely with other districts, the city and partners to produce more accurate student enrollment projections that consider new trends and variables in Seattle.
STEM K-8’s work with families to support student learning will continue move forward. K-5 Curriculum Night/Open House is this Thursday, 9/27 from 6:00-7:30 pm. We will introduce staff in the cafeteria and then have two, 35 minute classroom sessions. Preschool will schedule a separate family night at a later date. Middle School Curriculum Night is October 4 from 6:00-8:7:30.