We are facing big staff cuts next year

We are facing the loss of many staff positions this year because of budget cuts, and strangely low projections of our student numbers next year. Lowell has crazy high student mobility (kids joining and leaving the school in the middle of the year) and we need these staff to help these kids transition in and out. This year 178 children have joined or left the community after the start of school. Kids transitioning in and out is stressful and time consuming for them, for staff, for the classroom teachers, and students. It disrupts a class to settle a new kid in, and the kids are unsettled when their friends unexpectedly dissapear. Lowell has been doing a really nice job lately (in my opinion) and does a great job helping settle these new kids, and help emotionally support those who remain. But it takes a lot of staff effort. According to our latest projections, next year we are looking to lose:

  • 0.5 FTE Assistant Principal (our current, very effective AP will not stay on at 0.5)
  • 1.0 FTE Counselor
  • 1.0 FTE Classroom Teacher
  • 0.5 FTE Family Social Worker
  • 0.7 FTE ELL teacher
  • 0.5 FTE Attendance Secretary
  • 0.3 FTE PE, Art, Music
  • unknown number of Instructional Assistants 

FTE = Full Time Equivalent

All this is based an a low projection for our student numbers next year, and doesn’t account for the fact that Mary’s Place is scheduled to return to our area mid-year next year, and we fully expect an influx of homeless students mid-year.

The PTA has written a letter (see below) to the district which explains the reasons why we need to retain the staff we have. We are asking you to write your own letters to the school board (schoolboard@seattleschools.org) and Superintendent Juneau (superintendent@seattleschools.org). Here is the letter, which you can feel free to use a template for your own letter:

Dear Superintendent Juneau,

The Lowell PTA is extremely concerned about the proposed staffing cuts to our school. Though we know you receive a lot of outraged emails about staffing cuts, Lowell is a Title I school with one of the highest populations of homeless students in the city. As of this writing, one-hundred-and-seventy-eight (178) students have come or gone from our community after the start of school. Last year our official student mobility rate was 48%, and it may be higher this year.  This is a shocking number, and deserves special attention from the district. If the Seattle Public School District is serious about equity it must reach beyond the typical staffing formulas, and respond to the unique challenges that Lowell faces.

Lowell serves a number of shelters in Seattle. Among them is Mary’s Place, which will return to downtown Seattle, and Lowell’s attendance area, in January of 2020. We expect an influx of homeless students at that time, and it is only reasonable and right to plan and staff for that eventuality.  If we do anything less than that, we will fail our students.

As a result of Mary’s Place returning to downtown Seattle in the 2019/20 school year, we know that we can expect between 30-50 additional students experiencing homelessness  to enroll mid-year. Because Mary’s place will be returning to our boundaries mid-year, these students are not reflected in our projected enrollment numbers.  Because of institutional and systemic racism, these are disproportionately students of color. These are also low income students who, it has been widely acknowledged, need additional support in order to thrive in school.

If SPS believes in doing something to move toward equity, rather than simply talking about it, SPS must fund our current staff, including:

Full time Family Social Worker
Full Time Counselor
Full Time Assistant Principal
Attendance Secretary
ELL Teacher
Instructional Assistants

These staff don’t just meet the “normal” needs of a high poverty, racially diverse school with large SPED, ELL, and homeless populations. These positions are essential to helping mitigate the challenges to students and staff of our extraordinarily high turnover rate, a mobility rate unlike any other elementary school we are aware of, except Northgate Elementary, which serves Mary’s Place North. Integrating this many new students, averaging more than one a day, into our community requires these dedicated staff. Think of the person-hours it takes to integrate a student, often with traumatic backgrounds, homelessness, and other challenges, into a school. This year, without Mary’s Place, our dedicated staff – the ones you propose to cut, have done that 178 times. We simply must have the staff to meet our responsibilities to these children.

Losing staff only exacerbates opportunity gaps and contributes to the segregation of our low income students and students of color. For years, Lowell has been in crisis, with huge staff turnover, and a parade of principals. Some Lowell students have experienced 4 different principals plus several long-term substitutes. Finally, just this year, we are finding some stability, and until the announced staffing cuts, we felt we were turning the corner. We only lost a handful of staff this summer, and Dr. Talbot, our new Principal, and Mr. Zillig, our new Assistant Principal, are proving to be effective at improving stability and creating a safe learning environment – they are making a real difference. The mood in the building is palpably better and if you visit a classroom you will find kids learning and working. It would be a disaster for this community to, once again, destroy this fragile progress and our newfound optimism. 

We know SPS is facing a budget shortfall, that you must make difficult budgeting and staffing decisions, and that many schools are facing cuts. But considering the extraordinary, and quite unique challenges our school faces, these staff must be funded. We would welcome an opportunity to discuss the issue with you directly. 

Lowell PTA

THANK YOU, Montlake PTA!

We want to give huge thanks to the Montlake PTA, whose membership recently voted to donate 5% of their projected revenue in 2018–19 ($10,300!) to Lowell Elementary.

Montlake is just over the hill from Lowell, and the Montlake PTA wanted to help Lowell as a Title I (high poverty) school within the same Meany Middle School cluster—i.e., many of our kids are and will be classmates together at Meany.

With our many challenges and high turnover rate (in addition to 65% of Lowell students qualifying for Free and Reduced Lunch, upwards of 30% are homeless and 40% leave within the school year), Lowell doesn’t have the ability to fund-raise within our school community at the level of Montlake and other schools, so this gift really makes a big difference.

Let’s all keep working towards the day that all of our schools are funded adequately—but in the meantime, thank you to the Montlake PTA for showing solidarity and helping us work toward equitable funding!


Monday Night Square Dance, 4/23: A benefit for our music program!

Thanks to Ms. Shelby working together with the music teacher at Stevens, the Tractor Tavern will be hosting a Monday Night Square Dance fund-raiser for the Lowell music program!

It’s a Traditional Square Dance and Two Stepping night with an instructor who teaches you how to swing your partner to and fro.  All skill levels welcome!

Here are the details:

Mon Apr 23 2018, 8:00 PM (Doors 7:30 PM)

Tractor, 5213 Ballard Avenue NW Seattle, WA 98107

$7.00, Ages 21+

Heritage Night tonight, 5–7pm!

The cafeteria is newly festooned with flags, and teachers and students have put a lot of work into tonight’s cultural celebration.

Everyone is welcome, hope to see you there! Tours start at 5pm, potluck dinner and pizza 5:30 to 6:30, performances at 6:30pm.

Spring After-School Enrichment Classes—Register March 6!

Update 3/6/17: 

  • STEM Powered Girls – No gender restrictions (this needs to be cleared)
  • Anyone Can be An Artist (1st Session/178203) age restriction changed from K-3 to K-5
  • Launch It! (2nd Session/178222) age restriction changed from K-3 to K-5


Does your student love soccer, art, chess, or martial arts? Miller Community Center has a busy after-school enrichment program that’s available to all Lowell students—with classes *at* Lowell.

Spring session is 4/16 to 6/15. You can register through the Seattle Parks and Rec website (https://class.seattle.gov/…/Activit…/ActivitiesAdvSearch.asp) or call Miller Community Center at (206) 684-4753.

For details, see the full schedule below. Classes have a minimum enrollment of 5. Prices adjusted for 8- and 9-week classes. (Miller also has a great selection of summer camps—registration opened on February 6!)

Remember: scholarships are available for all Miller Community Center camps and classes. For more information, email Eric at eric.luu@seattle.gov.

*Age restrictions may be lifted

Free “Family Talk Time” and Computer Literacy classes

We received an exciting invitation for parents and guardians of Lowell students who want to attend classes designed to help you communicate with teachers and find your way around the district.

See the flier below, and here’s an introductory email from the kind folks at Seattle U with more details:

I’d like to share an opportunity for Lowell families through Seattle University’s Youth Initiative. At Seattle University’s Center for Community Engagement, our Family Engagement team offers free English (Family Talk Time) and computer literacy classes to parents and guardians at Bailey Gatzert. We would like to extend the offer for these free classes to the parents and guardians at your school. These classes hosted at Bailey Gatzert are drop-in classes, so no pre-registration is required.

Family Talk Time is offered Monday and Wednesday mornings. Our English learners have various proficiencies, and we adapt our classes to suit the needs of each individual. Much of our content is based around the school environment; some lessons include parent-teacher conferences, talking to your students’ teachers about performance and behavior, accessing the Source, and the various holidays students are celebrating at the school and how families choose to celebrate holidays at home. We try to make the class as accessible as possible for our families, so we include free child activities for younger children who aren’t in school yet.

Our Computer Literacy class is offered Tuesday mornings. As with the English class, the curriculum is adaptable based on individual student needs. We also offer free child activities for participants in this class. With Computer Literacy, participants not only learn more about the school webpages and communicating with teachers, we also work on developing resumes and job-searching skills, and navigating the wider Seattle community. While this class is developed with English learners in mind, we have gladly helped native English speakers one-on-one to work specifically on resumes and job searches.

Our greatest goal is creating a strong community for families.



Miller summer camp registration is open!

Here’s more info from our friends at Miller below. It looks like the brochure hasn’t been posted on Miller’s site yet, but check out the screencap of the schedule, the camps should be up in the SPARC registration system.

Hello Miller Community Center families!

We hope that everyone is off to a great start of the new year. We are writing you because, believe it or not, 2018 Summer Camp registration begins on February 6th at noon. We are offering 30 BRAND NEW Activity Camps at Miller Community Center in addition to our School Age Care Summer Camp. There is a wide variety of activity camps including Art, Cooking, Carpentry, Parkour, STEM, and more! A brochure is attached with the schedule and more information. At the time of registration, a $15 nonrefundable deposit is due for each camp registration.

Summer Camp scholarships are available!
The new 2018-19 scholarship application is available and I’ve attached it to this email. [Email lowellparents@gmail.com and we can forward this to you.] Please submit the application in person and not via email as we don’t want sensitive information transmitted over email. If you submitted a 2017-18 scholarship application it’s only valid through June of 2018. If you are interested in using scholarship on Summer Camps, you must complete this new form. Keep in mind scholarship funds are limited so submitting the application early is very important. It does take a couple weeks to process. The new application looks a bit different than previous years so don’t hesitate to email or call if you have any questions.

Miller also has many new programs including Jewelry Making, Yoga, Recycled Art, Guitar Lessons, and more! We hope to see you and your family at Miller soon!

Continue reading “Miller summer camp registration is open!”

School Funding: Take Action Monday, 1/29!

Did you know Washington State ranks 35th in the nation in funding per student? We can change that! Our new PTA Legislative Chair, Ali McKay, has sent along the following information and guidelines for parents interested in taking action this week on the state’s failure to fund public education in Washington state. Scroll down for a helpful call script and email template. Thanks, Ali!

Continue reading “School Funding: Take Action Monday, 1/29!”

Draft Standing Rules and Budget 2017/18

Update: These rules and budget passed at the general meeting on Oct 4.

Each year our PTA is required to approve our “Standing Rules” and Budget at the first general meeting. Typically, each year, amendments are made to the previous year’s standing rules rules, and a new budget is made. A rules committee and budget committee, appointed by the full board, created this year’s proposed Standing Rules and proposed budget. The proposed standing rules and budget are just that; a proposal. They don’t become official until voted on at a general meeting. The proposed rules are very similar to last year’s with the substantive changes being highlighted in the “Standing Rules Explainer”. You will have an opportunity to bring up questions or concerns at the meeting, or feel free to reach out to us sooner.
Continue reading Draft Standing Rules and Budget 2017/18″

Is your kid’s brain ready to sponge up Spanish?

[Update: Sponge canceled the class due to low enrollment. If you’re interested in helping organize other enrichment activities, contact Nick Hodges, nickhabq AT gmail.com.)

Sponge School is offering before-school Spanish classes every Wednesday morning at Lowell starting next week. Check out this video from the Sponge website to get a feel for this cool program:

Here’s all the info and registration details from the instructor:

“At Sponge class, students learn important, everyday language through exciting thematic units and a wide variety of interactive games, activities, and songs. This year online portal is upgraded and students will be able to practice pronunciation and play games outside of the classroom! Each student also gets a course book !

Our goal is to build a strong foundation of comprehension and communication skills, all while having fun!

Spanish at Lowell, Wed 8:00-8:45am, 10/4(Wed)-12/13(Wed) $175+Material fee $25
Visit www.spongeschool.com/sign-up/ to register.

Contact us by email at info@spongeschool.com or give us a call at (425) 274-5188 with any questions! Register now and secure your spot in class!”