(The Center Square) – Seattle Public Schools is at risk of losing out on $3.6 million in state funding due to a staffing imbalance at a number of elementary schools.
Seattle Public Schools was able to provide extra funding to its schools in order to minimize classroom staffing assignment changes in previous years. However, the district cites a $131 million budget deficit for its inability to cover the cost for the 2023-24 school year.
All school districts are required by law to maintain a 17:1 staffing ratio for kindergarten through third grade general education classrooms to be eligible to receive $3.6 million from the state. That is a districtwide ratio that includes the classroom teacher, as well as any additional educators such as interventionists and specialists funded through basic education.
A new report from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction reveals that a number of elementary schools within the district did not maintain the 17:1 staffing ratio.
The Center Square reached out to Seattle Public Schools for more details, but did not receive a response at the time of this publication. However, the district said in a press release that it is working to correct its staffing ratio to be eligible for the $3.6 million.
“[Seattle Public Schools] is actively working to correct staffing assignments to align with the budget and ensure compliance with the required K-3 class size ratios to maintain full state funding,” the statement reads.
According to state law, a school district superintendent may only allocate the $3.6 million in funding, up to the combined minimum allocations, for physical, social and emotional support staff. This includes nurses, social workers, psychologists and counselors.
All school districts in Washington state submit an annual S-275 form to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, which assesses the staffing ratio for kindergarten through third grade classrooms districtwide.
In a social media post, the Seattle Education Association said the staffing adjustments are not routine.
“This is NOT routine … it is possible to be properly staffed before day one of school and avoid this type of disruption,” the Seattle Education Association stated. “Educators stand with students and families; we deserve stability and transparency.”
The teachers union called on supporters to attend the upcoming Seattle School Board meeting on Wednesday to share stories on how the classroom adjustments are impacting school communities.