The Wildchat: 1/31/2023
January 31, 2023
After School Programming is returning to Whittier Elementary this February! Register February 3rd!
Registration for all clubs will go live Friday, February 3rd at 3pm; registration information will be available here when registration opens: https://whittierptaseattle.org/after-school-programs-at-whittier/. Spots will be given on a first-come, first-served basis, so please be sure to mark your calendars! If you are interested in financial assistance, have questions, or would like to be a volunteer hero, please contact Jared at email@example.com.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Prices range from $50 – $230 depending on the club
- Spots are limited, so be sure to ask to be on the waitlist if classes are full.
- The Whittier PTA only coordinates building reservations and hosts registration links for these independent enrichment providers. Please note: Whittier Elementary and Seattle Public Schools are not affiliated with or connected to the Whittier PTA Programs offerings or these individual program vendors. The enrichment providers will be managing registrations and schedules independently for each program.
AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES BEING OFFERED FOR WINTER QUARTER
|Wildcat Players Musical (4-5) with Miss Steph – Cast A (2:25-4pm from 2/13-6/9)*||Gamer Group (K-2) with Mr. Buck|
(2:25-4pm from 2/28-4/25)
|Ultimate Frisbee with the WUF Gang (Disc NW) (2:15pm-4:15pm for 1-1.5 hours, exact timing TBD from 3/1 – 5/20) at Loyal Heights Playfield**||Gamer Group (3-5) with Mr. Buck|
(2:25-4pm from 3/1-4/27)
|Spanish Immersion with Jump on Languages|
(2:25-4pm from 2/27-4/24)
|Wildcat Players Musical (4-5) with Miss Steph – Cast B (2:25-4pm from 2/13-6/9)*|
*Whittier Wildcat Players Musical audition sign-ups will be on a sheet outside Ms. Steph’s classroom starting January 30th. Auditions will be held on February 6th and 7th.
**Transportation assistance not available. Offsite activities are independent and are not subject to Whittier PTA, or Whittier Elementary guidelines and standards. Please contact Disc NW directly for any information regarding their program.
Questions? Contact Jared, Whittier PTA Programs Chair.
Spring Fling Committee Needs You!
The 2023 Spring Fling committee is seeking additional volunteers to help with the planning of the event on Saturday, May 20th! Open roles include an event MC, someone to help with food and beverage, as well as just general committee members to help out with other tasks. No prior experience necessary, we can help walk you through the details of what needs to happen. We have a fun and dedicated committee and would love to have you join us! Current committee meeting schedule is as follows:
- Thurs Feb 9th – Zoom meeting
- Thurs March 9th – In person meeting
- Thurs April 6th – Zoom meeting
- Tues May 2nd – In person meeting
Additional committee work to happen in between these meetings. Please reach out to Co-Chairs Courtney Sievers (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Renee Hartnett (email@example.com) if you are interested or have any questions.
- Multiracial/ Multicultural
- Create a group for a community not yet listed!
Affinity Groups play a vital role in ensuring an inclusive school environment where all are valued, included, and empowered to succeed.
Piloted last year, we are expanding the affinity groups offered based on community feedback.
If you’re interested to join an affinity group or learn more, please complete this form: tinyurl.com/whittieraffinitygroups
Part of the Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee’s goal of making Whittier a community where all children and families are supported to be their authentic selves.
Understanding SPS: Budgets, School Enrollment, and Fiscal Policy
If you haven’t heard, Seattle Public Schools is facing an impending budget crisis. SPS is predicting a $127.3 million dollar budget deficit for the 2023-2024 school year (compared to this year’s $10 million dollar projected deficit). While there’s discussion of using rainy day funds to improve the shortfall and some potential legislative wins (that could infuse $37.8MM into budgets next year), short-term solutions and small legislative gains don’t address the continued deficit projections for the years ahead.
During their third budget work session of the school year, the SPS School Board reviewed their initial budget balancing concepts. While budget plans for next school year won’t be confirmed until July 6, current plans primarily include reducing Central Office spending next year by $20-$36MM and reducing school-level spending by between $9-$11MM. What’s school-level spending? This budget work session first identifies cuts to “Cert Core” staffing (or 0.5 FTE allocated to schools with significant enrollment for an additional counselor, librarian, nurse, or teacher), increasing sizes of K-3 classrooms, reducing school discretionary funds and Assistant Principal support, and another $1.9MM in “school programmatic changes.”
Remember–Whittier’s current budget from SPS doesn’t fully fund the staff and services needed for our Wildcat scholars, including literacy support, a full Specialist schedule, adequate nursing and social worker staffing, sustainable teacher discretionary funds, and more (in fact, we weren’t assigned the allocated part-time Assistant Principal this year due to “budget”). Whittier PTA, through generous community fundraising, fills this gap–and it’s likely that SPS’ “school-level” reductions slated for next year will mean an even bigger gap to fill.
Washington State funding, representing roughly 60% of SPS’ total funding, uses enrollment for its allocations. The downsides to enrollment-based funding is that it neither considers the minimum cost of running a school of any size or in higher costs areas (the facility’s costs, essential staff required for the facility and by law, etc) nor does it help schools or districts find funds to “bounce back” from declining enrollment.
When examining SPS’ own school line-up in our broader North-end area, the challenges of this model become obvious. (With a few exceptions) schools featured in the chart below are all Tier 4 schools per SPS’ own weighted funding model and should have similar per student spending. However, the minimum cost of running a school drives up the per student funding dramatically, meaning schools with more enrollment (like Whittier) have to help more students with fewer dollars to spend on each one compared to their under-enrolled counterparts.
|School||January 2023 Enrollment||2023 Budget Allocation||Per-student||Tier|
|Sand Point||161||$3.2 million||$19.8K||4|
|Licton Springs K8||96||$2.7 million||$28K||4|
|Sugiyma HS||31||$1.1 million||$35K||N/A|
|Queen Anne Elem||202||$2.4 million||$11.8K||4|
|John Hay||276||$4.0 million||$14.5K||4|
|Cedar Park||202||$2.3 million||$11.3K||4|
|Madrona K5||215||$2.8 million||$13K||4|
|Middle College HS||53||$2.1 million||$39K||N/A|
While not considered for next year’s budget, the School Board’s budget work session did address the idea of school consolidation for the ’24-25 school year. They discussed a “system of well-resourced schools” and identified its process to begin work on school consolidation would begin “next fall” (although no specifics were provided during the work session).
Should SPS consider proposals to combine schools? If they’re considering combining under-enrolled schools, like Licton Springs K-8, with surrounding neighborhood schools (like Adams, Whittier, and Whitman), they wouldn’t be alone. While these conversations aren’t popular, proposals to examine opportunities for low-enrolled schools are happening nearby–Bellevue School District recently heard proposals to combine neighborhood schools with higher enrollment than some SPS schools. However, SPS appears to be going in the opposite direction: Northgate Elementary construction continues to provide space for 650 students, but the school’s current enrollment is only 189. Similarly, Montlake Elementary’s planned $64.8 million dollar construction project (still in its permitting phase) is planned to provide space for 500 students despite the school’s current enrollment of 181 and Stevens Elementary that sits 0.4 miles away with an enrollment of 169.
Whittier faces an enrollment challenge for next year–SPS’ current budget model requires Whittier enrollment to increase by 25 net students or we’ll face increased staffing challenges next year. Our School Board and District leaders face big decisions ahead; as a community, it’s vital we share our voice if we have an opinion on how SPS faces this budget reality. Share your voice by contacting our School Board Director, Lisa Rivera Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-475-1817), provide feedback to SPS directly using the Let’s Talk tool, and attend and provide testimony at School Board meetings and budget work sessions. Key meeting dates to make an impact:
- 2/1-28: Community Information Sessions (details TBA)
- 2/8: School Board Meeting
- 2/15 (tentative): Budget Work Session
- 2/28: Budget Allocations for ’23-24 to schools
- 3/1: School Board Meeting
- 3/15: School Board Meeting
- 4/4: School Board Meeting
- 5/3: Budget Work Session
- 6/21: Board Action Report and Budget Resolution
Want to learn more? For an amazing overview from Principal Watters of how Whittier’s budgets and funding are structured, both year over year and in comparison to other SPS schools, we encourage you to watch this recording of last week’s Community Meeting (skip to 12:08 – 35:53). You can also contact Principal Watters with questions or join the conversation at our next PTA meeting.
Want to Join the PTA?
We’re recruiting the PTA’s board for the 2023-2024 school year! There are roles available across skills sets and time commitments. Help support Whittier in a real way! To learn more, contact email@example.com.
Can’t volunteer but still want to support the PTA? Become a member!
Advocacy In Action
The 2023 Legislative Session is in its 4th week where more than 1,000 bills have already been introduced. These bills cover critical issues including reducing gun violence and increasing access to special education. To follow the latest news, check out the WSPTA Blog for timely updates and bill tracking. Other ways to stay informed and get involved include:
- Join WSPTA’s Focus on Advocacy Day on February 20th!
- Stay tuned for Focus on Advocacy Week 2/6-2/10 – look out for ways to take action on Konstella and Whittier PTA social media.
- Connect with The Alliance for Gun Responsibility – their Legislative Session HQ has information on each bill and how you can use your voice to make a difference.
What the EDI Committee is thinking about this week!
Introducing….a new school-wide resource aimed at embedding EDI principles into the classroom year round! Rebellious Read Alouds by Vera Ahiyya.
Whittier staff are thrilled to be using the book Rebellious Read Alouds this year! It’s a compilation of picture book read alouds that are organized by different themes:
- Our Names Are Important
- Our Features Are Important
- Our Disabilities Are Important
- Our Families Are Important
- Our Foods Are Important
- Our Traditions Are Important
- Our Identities Are Important
- Our Histories Are Important
- Our Actions Are Important
Within each theme, there are 5-6 picture books included that help teachers and students explore deeper conversations in age-appropriate and meaningful ways. These picture books feature characters that are diverse in many ways, and the texts are written and illustrated by people from traditionally marginalized groups. The books are a jumping off point for classrooms to learn, connect, and embrace the world we live in through rich conversations centered around these themes.
Help Whittier Build a Diverse Library Collection!
In order to continue building our collection of diverse books as well as those titles and series that our students love, we are partnering with Bound to Stay Bound Books in the “Support Our Library” program. Please consider donating a book to our library collection. You even have the option to add a donor plate and donate a book in honor of a child’s birthday, special occasion, or a staff member! All books will be shipped to our school processed and ready to be added to the shelves! The program will go through the end of May. Email Ms. Newcomb if you have any questions. This link will take you directly to the Whittier book wishlist. Thank you in advance for supporting our library!
Volunteer to be a Classroom Bucket Coordinator!
As part of our Spring Fling fundraising, each class puts together a themed gift bucket to be auctioned off in the silent auction. Themes can be anything…think cooking supplies, picnic fun, wine tasting and accessories, pet related themes, family game night, self care or spa day, sports themes, backyard BBQ and more!
Your job as the class volunteer is to pick a theme and solicit donations from your class to fill the bucket with fun items. You can collect items and/or money that you use to purchase items. The end result should be a fun bucket full of cool goods that someone will be dying to bid on to raise money for our Wildcats!
We need one volunteer per class to collect and deliver items and deliver by May 1, 2023. If you don’t feel like you are the person to make it all look put together, attractive and auction-ready don’t worry! We’ll help put it together for you! Sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0e44a8a729a0fac61-spring1#/
If you need help thinking of ideas or have questions, please email Mendy at firstname.lastname@example.org.