Teachers and staff members in 18 Seattle schools will be moved to other buildings because, while the district’s student population grew this year, enrollment was significantly lower than the district thought it would be.

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Teachers and staff members in 18 Seattle schools will be moved to other buildings, the district said this week, because of lower-than-projected enrollment and a budget shortfall.

Eleven other schools will add new staff because those buildings had more students than expected on the fifth day of school — when the district does its annual head count.

The district’s student population did grow this year, but significantly less than the district thought it would. This school year’s fifth-day count was 53,259 students, 1,114 fewer than the district had projected in June.

This is the third year in a row that the district’s estimates were high. Teachers were added to 17 schools last year and no schools lost any positions thanks to a $2 million fund the Seattle School Board had set aside the year before, when about two dozen teachers were transferred. Without that funding, 40 teachers would have been reassigned.

This year, the district allocated $4 million to reduce the need for staffing adjustments, which was focused on schools that would have been most impacted by the loss of a teacher, such as buildings with a high number of low-income students.

“We know that taking any teacher away is disruptive, and we wish we didn’t have to do that but we’re funded based on student enrollment, so when we don’t get the student enrollment … eventually we’ve got to balance the budget,” said Superintendent Larry Nyland.


Nyland attributed the enrollment decrease, in part, to rising housing costs in Seattle, noting that enrollment has increased in neighboring districts.

When asked about the effect that charter schools could have had on enrollment, Nyland said the math didn’t add up, as the number of students in charters doesn’t equal the number of students Seattle didn’t get.

Principals in schools that are losing a staff position are in the process of adjusting schedules and class lists to determine who will be reassigned. No teachers or other staff members will be laid off.