Language School Financial Projections - DOC by sff13096


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									September 20, 2007


Dear Shoreline Schools Community,

I am writing to share with you the process that was used and the rationale behind the elementary staffing
decisions made this fall.

When classroom teaching staff was originally allocated to school sites last spring, the District was
intentionally conservative in order to avoid any overstaffing situations due to decreased enrollment. In
other school districts, conservative staffing allocations may be simply prudent; in Shoreline, given our
recent financial history, such conservative financial projections are essential. After the state’s official
student count on September 10 (the fourth day of school), the District was able to deploy additional
staffing based upon the actual enrollment.

On Thursday September 13 (the seventh day of school), the District allocated an additional 7.0 FTE (full-
time equivalents) of certificated teaching staff to its nine elementary school buildings. These positions
will be used to create new classes, reduce the staffing ratios, provide relief to particular classrooms and
avoid overload situations for classroom teachers. The District is simply hiring more teachers to reduce
the number of those with a workload over the class size target in the District’s contract with the Shoreline
Education Association.

The District’s staffing plan also requires additional split-level or combination classes. Last year, there
were 11 split/combination classes district wide. The most that would be created with the staffing plan set
forth last Thursday is 13. While split classes can be more challenging to teach, they also create
opportunities for skill-level groupings that span two grade levels and are deliberately staffed (by the
District and by contract language targets) with lower teacher-pupil ratios. The District has expressed
willingness to consider other solutions proposed by building site teams that resolve issues with split
level/combination classes within the allocated staffing. We continue to be open to collaborative problem
solving around this issue.

The Shoreline Education Association has stated that the District is changing a long-standing practice of
equalizing class size and class mix. I have not heard anyone suggest a change in the way buildings
consider a multitude of subjective factors to match students with teachers while staying within the class
size targets in the collective bargaining agreement. In those situations where the District allows a single
class to exceed class size targets while keeping other classes at the same grade level below the targets, the
District is assigning an additional certificated teacher to reduce the teacher-pupil ratio and provide
significant relief to the teacher in the classroom, as allowed by the contract language.

This additional teaching assistance of .2 FTE or more is neither trivial nor useless. The additional part-
time teacher can take over teaching a particular subject on a daily basis that the original teacher no longer
has to prepare for, provide instruction in, and assess. Or the additional part-time teacher can provide large
blocks (even an entire day) of planning time each week. Team-teaching and collaboration among
professional educators has always been a hallmark of the Shoreline educational process.
The K-6 enrollment numbers in Shoreline as of September 10 placed 61 of 142 classrooms in overload.
By allocating an additional 7.0 FTE certificated staff, and rearranging class assignments, the District was
able to eliminate ALL of the overload situations at this time. The District’s rapid response to address
class sizes over the target does nothing more than honor the class size and workload language in the
collective bargaining agreement.

As we shared with the Association during the recent contract negotiations, the Shoreline Education
Association’s collective bargaining agreement contains overload language for compensation and/or
classified support at threshold class-size numbers that are lower than any other surrounding district. In
fact, both Everett and Bellevue do not have any overload language or compensation in their contracts at

The District spent approximately $650,000 in either monetary or paraeducator overload relief in the 2006-
07 school year. By hiring additional teachers with restricted-use fund sources like I-728 and Title II, the
District can save some of the overload costs that came out of the general fund while reducing both
teacher-pupil ratios and teacher workload. Returning a healthy balance to the general fund is not only
critical to the District’s financial future, but also the financial future of its employees.

The Association’s bargaining team is contending that they were misled as to the meaning, intent or
application of the change in language in Section 32.2.9 of the collective bargaining agreement. This is the
section that allowed the addition of .2 or more FTE of certificated teaching staff to be used in calculating
class sizes. On the morning of Saturday, September 1, and again on the evening of Monday, September 3,
the Association bargaining team asked the District team how changing .5 to .2 in this section of the
contract would work, and how it would save the District money.

On both occasions, the District team explained:
• How assigning a .2 FTE teacher would change the class size calculation;
• How the District could use I-728 or Title II funds to hire this kind of certificated teaching assistance;
• How the District cannot use I-728 or Title II funds for monetary or paraeducator overload relief;
• How such a teacher could provide more personal teaching services to students in a class over the class
   size target; and
• How such a teacher could provide workload relief to the other teacher in the classroom.

The District team very clearly explained how this change in the contract language would be a win-win
solution that provides more teachers for students, fewer teachers with classes over the targets in the
contract and cost savings for the District.

As we move forward with classroom staffing decisions this year, we will continue to honor the collective
bargaining agreement ratified by both the District and the Association as well as the input of the
professional staff in our schools.


Sue Walker

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