Given that enrollment didn’t grow as much as expected, the district’s annual staff reshuffling is bigger than usual.
Enrollment in Seattle’s public schools is up once again this year, but the number of students who left the district rose, too, leaving the district with about 675 fewer students than it expected.
The shortfall is part of the reason why the district will soon reassign 25 teachers to different buildings or positions. No one will be laid off, as teachers are under contract, but the district still will make adjustments based on the needs of individual schools.
A total of 52,399 students are attending Seattle schools this year, according to the district’s annual count. That’s an increase of 411 students from last year, but the district had expected an increase closer to 1,100.
Part of the reason for the discrepancy is that more than 1,000 students left Seattle for neighboring districts, up from 350 last year, Superintendent Larry Nyland said at Wednesday’s school board meeting. District officials say they’re looking into why more students left, but did note that the delay in the start of school due to the teachers strike could have had an impact.
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Schools near district boundaries “lost students during the strike as parents found spots in Highline or Shoreline or Renton,” Nyland said at Wednesday’s meeting.
The lower-than-expected enrollment translates into a loss of about $4 million in revenue, officials said.
The district hasn’t released a list of which schools will lose teachers. However, principals, teachers and parents from a number of schools have said they are losing staff. Those include at least eight elementary schools: Thornton Creek, Green Lake, Wedgwood, Alki, Schmitz Park, West Seattle, Roxhill and Bryant.
At Schmitz Park in West Seattle, for example, a first-grade teacher will be reassigned to another school. Parents said the change will be disruptive to the entire grade, “just as they have settled in,” according to a petition on Change.org that has garnered 730 online signatures. A second-grade teacher at Bryant will be reassigned, and the school’s intervention-and-extensions coordinator will teach the second-grade class.
The district hasn’t said when the reassignments will take effect, though it will likely be within the next few weeks.
Last year, the district announced they would reassign teachers from six schools to adjust for enrollment, but parents from at least one school — Gatewood Elementary — raised enough money to keep the teacher who otherwise would have been reassigned elsewhere.