Good News from Olympia

Cross posted from Juneau’s Journal

The legislative session in Olympia ended Sunday, April 28. Thank you to our hard-working Seattle legislative delegation, families, staff, and community partners who have been fighting hard to ensure our students have the supports and services they need.

Due to legislative action, beginning in 2020, we will be able to collect $3,000 per student from our local, voter-approved Educational Programs & Operations (EP&O) levy. This is an increase of $500 per student. Thank you to Seattle voters who overwhelmingly supported the EP&O levy in February and for proactively approving a higher levy collection. This allowed the district to take swift action in response to the Legislature’s levy policy adjustment.

The restored levy revenue will help us address a portion of the 40 million dollar budget shortfall for school year 2019-20 and replace staff reductions due to the budget deficit. Additional dollars generated from our levy will restore librarians, counselors, teachers, and assistant principals to our schools. Other staff reductions, including those related to declining enrollment and at the central office, will move forward.

With sweeping changes to Washington’s K-12 funding model, it should be expected that ongoing refinement and improvements will need to be made. The Legislature’s levy collection increase for Seattle is a good step in the right direction, but work is still needed in areas like special education.

District staff and the School Board will continue to communicate our needs in Olympia and advocate for our talented educators and all of Washington State’s publicly educated students. 

The highlight of my week is visiting schools. This week I had the opportunity to visit schools in West Seattle.

Genesee Hill Elementary

Superintendent Juneau with two teachers and a studentMy visits started off strong at Genesee Hill Elementary. The Fox Council student representatives gave me a tour of the new school building, funded by BEX IV and the generosity of Seattle voters in 2013. During the tour, students shared how their voice and leadership shape school culture. The “buddy bench” is just one way students are making sure the school is welcoming, kind, and inclusive.

Legacy is also an important value at Genesee Hill. I had the opportunity to meet Zoe, whose great grandma Virginia Galloway was once the school’s principal; and Gabe and Sophia, whose great-great-grandpa was Seattle Superintendent Fleming. Thank you to these young scholars for sharing family stories of service, education, and empowerment with me.

Gatewood Elementary

Superintendent Juneau takes a selfie with school leadersAt Gatewood, Principal Hogg and Assistant Principal Kaplan shared about the school’s racial equity work. They are using conversation circles with school staff to investigate how adult practices may be contributing to opportunity and achievement gaps. This builds off work already underway to support students’ social-emotional health and academic success. I appreciate the brave and focused attention staff at Gatewood are giving to this important work and their commitment to educational justice. I look forward to returning to Gatewood and learning about their continued progress.

Concord International Elementary

Superintendent Juneau talks with a student in a classroomI ended this week’s school visits at Concord International Elementary. It was great to have both Acting Principal Sansalone and Assistant Principal Harris lead the school tour. Concord is a dual language neighborhood school, rich with cultural and language diversity. During the tour, fifth grade students asked what inspires me. I got to share a little bit about my own educational journey, and that students are the reason I do this work. I also toured a Kindergarten class. They were working on writing skills and describing the party they want to host, and we all got invited!

As this week closes out, I want to remind families, staff, and partners that next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10, National Teacher Appreciation Day is May 7). Our educators are truly the best. I see the impact of their work daily. Every day educators in Seattle Public Schools go above and beyond for young people. They mentor, challenge, support, and inspire. Thank you for your commitment to investing in our students and our collective future.

Denise Juneau


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