About 30 employees in the Seattle Public Schools central office received notices this week that they might be laid off in the 2023-24 school year. And it’s possible another 38 employees working in school buildings could be cut.

The district has seen dramatic enrollment losses since the start of the pandemic, a situation that sparked conversations last month about consolidating some of its 106 schools and laying off some staff as a way to save money. SPS is projecting budget shortfalls of about $131 million in the 2023-24 school year and about $92 million the following year.

The majority of proposed cuts for the 2023-24 school year — which would save nearly $33 million — are in the central office. The district would save another $11.2 million by making cuts to school-based staff, according to a budget presentation made to the School Board on Tuesday.

Some of those school-based employee cuts would be made to Running Start, a program for juniors and seniors that allows them to take college courses.

So far the most significant administrative shifts will be at Alan T. Sugiyama High School, Middle College High School, and STEMbyTAF at Washington Middle School. 

Alan T. Sugiyama and Middle College both have fewer than 100 students. Students at these schools will still have access to their classes and instructors but management for these schools will be shifted to another team. Officials said letters will be sent out to notify families. 


STEMbyTAF is a model of learning that focuses on problem-solving in science, technology, engineering, math and humanities. Traditionally more staff has been assigned to STEMbyTAF that’s “above and beyond” what other middle schools receive, said Concie Pedroza, associate superintendent. 

“We can no longer fund that,” Pedroza said. “That is something we really need to talk about.”

Resources for SPS students have been stretched thin this year, and as enrollment continues to drop, officials are looking at ways to provide more resources for more students. Officials have also said it’s a fiscally smart move to avoid thinning out resources. 

The earliest that schools could close or be consolidated is in the 2024-25 school year. 

“We can’t afford to have buildings that are half-enrolled, and it wouldn’t provide what I consider to be a well-resourced school,” board member Liza Rankin said during the meeting.

Schools with low enrollment could be more likely to face consolidation. There are about 30 schools with fewer than 300 students. The majority of enrollment losses have happened in elementary schools, with the biggest losses in kindergarten.


SPS’ highest enrollment count in recent years came in 2019-20, when the district taught 53,627 students. This year, it has an enrollment of 50,056. 

Five years from now, SPS staff projects the district could have as many as 48,515 students, or as few as 45,017. If the worst-case scenario were to happen, that would represent a 16% drop in enrollment from 2019-20.

SPS is working on an enrollment campaign to bring students back to the district, Superintendent Brent Jones also announced Tuesday. 

Jones has said the goal is to have “well-resourced schools,” defined as a school “that has sufficient resources to meet the needs of its students, including materials, technology, and people.”

Officials said it’s a working definition, but well-resourced schools should include up-to-date technology, various instructional materials, a sufficient number of teachers, and support staff. Students should also have access to libraries, science labs, athletic fields, and the district should have financial resources to ensure schools can maintain and upgrade their resources over time. 

“This is not the basis for school consolidation,” Jones said. “This is the basis for where we want to be in the future, and the future is open. I don’t know if all our schools meet this; however, I would like to have an ideal state for us to build towards.”


Consolidating schools could be part of what gets every Seattle school to be well-resourced, Jones said. If a school is on the chopping block, the board will discuss it.  

A community information session will be held this month. The School Board votes on the 2023-24 school year budget in July.

 The story has been updated to correct the year schools could close or be consolidated. The soonest schools could close is is the 2024-25 school year.