It’s been a wild week since “25 or something” Seattle Public Schools were blindsided with staff cuts. After the initial shock, parents came up with surprising ways to push back and work together.

A new group formed, called Kids Not Cuts, with the goal of advocating for ALL schools facing staff cuts. This was a revolutionary new approach to parent organizing in Seattle.

Traditionally, during staff “reassignment” periods, the district allows individual schools to raise money to offset staff cuts. This allows wealthy schools to mitigate painful staff reductions, while poorer schools get to struggle with less resources.

This time parents said: NO MORE.

Another group of parents dubbed T.R.A.P. – Teacher Retention Advocate Parents – staged a spoof bake sale in front of district headquarters. The goal was to draw attention to the absurdity of trying to fund basic education with bake sales and carwashes. (Full disclosure: I helped organize the bake sale.)

Throughout the week, the district has been steadfast in its refusal to reconsider its plan or release any information to prove these cuts to school staff was a decision of last resort.

So, here’s a little good news for a frustrating week: I just found $433,160 in unspent Amplify money!

Back in June, a split vote by the Seattle School Board prevented the district from spending an additional $433,160 to make Amplify a district wide assessment. (You can read the board discussion here: SeattlePublicSchoolsBoardPart2)

It gets better.

Amplify is losing money, laying off workers, and looking for a buyer. Basically, the board dogged a bullet back in June. If ever there was a time for the district NOT to spend scarce education dollars on a product that may not be around tomorrow, it would be now.

This discovery brings up a bunch of questions. Here are two.

  • Why can’t this money be used to offset some of the staff cuts?
  • What other money might be hiding on a spread sheet somewhere at the John Stanford Center which could be used to keep teachers in the classrooms?

Parents want to know.

-Carolyn Leith

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