Amid Plummeting Student Enrollments And Skyrocketing Homeschool Rates, Seattle School District Forced To Do Layoffs

 March 3, 2023

On a steady decline since COVID closures, Seattle Public School District enrollment has been plummeting, while Homeschool rates have seen increases, during the same time frame. Mother Sarra Burnett, of Washington, explains that her decision to homeschool her children, began during the pandemic. She now encourages other parents to advocate for their children and homeschool if possible.

All this while Seattle the school district, announced on Tuesday, that it is being forced to lay off employees amid financial turmoil, that was caused by plummeting student enrollments. The district, in their statement, regarding some staff members, that have been notified they may lose their jobs, to address a budget deficit, at the school board meeting on Tuesday night, said-

"This week...we've issued some notifications to employees about they're being considered for 'RIF' and displacement so that is happening," …"We’re in that phase right now,"

-Dr. Brent Jones, SPS superintendent

Explaining that its deficit is at a "tipping point," the Board noted that its "structural deficit" has grown to $131 million. District 7 School Board Director Brandon K. Hersey expressed concern about how the cuts to labor will impact education. The Board also cited as another cause, the expiration of their one-time state and federal resources from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) and funding of transportation without riders.

They added that student needs are increasing and that labor costs are "significantly more than state and local funding.". This they discussed, was in addition to the already adverse circumstances. Superintendent Jones, went on to outline the district’s "strategy to fiscal responsibility", that included a multitude of objectives including "aggressively" pursuing new or expanded revenue opportunities.

The starkest issue, however, is the downward trend of enrollment in the district. Enrollment has dropped since the fiscal year 2013-14, while staffing has increased to address the needs of students, according to the Board. They expect a continued trend of enrollment decreases at the present time. Further, Board members expressed their concern about how the cuts to labor will impact student outcomes.

District 7 School Board Director Brandon K. Hersey, suggesting putting expectations and parameters on a baseline level of services, that the district can provide, in order to guarantee a "streamlined equitable approach.", said-

"So, some of these cuts or rather programmatic changes could very well have little to no impact on student outcomes,"

- District 7 School Board Director Brandon K. Hersey

Conversely, the number of homeschooled students in the state has nearly doubled since 2019, per data found by the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), a research organization at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Research also shows, that the Seattle Public School District enrollment has been on a steady decline, since COVID closures, with the trend expected to continue through 2028.

CRPE reported that, from 2019-2021,enrollment in homeschool increased by 27 percent per year, on average. Further the study indicated, that enrollment in charter schools increased by 28 percent per year, on average, with private school enrollment increasing by 10 percent per year, on average.

In a previous report by Fox News Digital, according to the Nation's Report Card, average math scores saw the largest declines ever across every state, dropping five points for fourth-graders and eight points for eighth-graders from 2019 to 2022. Revealing significant proficiency setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, reading scores, likewise dropped to levels not seen since 1992, decreasing three points for both grades in two years.

“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.”

-Abigail Adams
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