Of all the quirks of the parent fundraising system in Seattle schools, the story of McGilvra Elementary may take the cake.
Last year, Seattle Public Schools gave $60,000 to a group of parents at McGilvra Elementary to — in essence — stop them from donating so much money.
Still, parents say they will continue to raise massive amounts of money for the school.
“We just want to, kind of despite the district, provide a really excellent elementary school,” said Scott Powers, who has a daughter in 4th grade there.
McGilvra’s story perhaps illustrates the quirks of Seattle’s parent-fundraising system better than anywhere else.
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The oddity started in 2000, when parents at the small and then-low-performing school in Madison Park negotiated a unique contract: The PTA would buy two portable classrooms for about $120,000 and pay $200,000 per year to put teachers in them. In return, the district would keep the school’s class sizes low or provide extra programs for the next 20 years.
It was an agreement unlike anything District Attorney Ron English had ever seen, he said.
And it worked for a decade.
But last year, amid implementation of a neighborhood-based assignment plan, overcrowding at some schools and pressure about the fairness to other schools, the district opted out of the contract, paying a $60,000 buyout fee.
Officials then assigned more students to the school, significantly increasing class size.
Still, the PTA has given more than $300,000 this year, which pays for some creative solutions, such as hiring additional classroom instructors to effectively reduce class size.
As for inequity concerns, the parents say they’re just doing what they can to make a difference in their own community.
“We’re just trying to make our neighborhood school the best school possible,” Powers said.
Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal.