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Spring Enrollment Projections

Summary: Enrollment projections are used to determine school and central office budgets and staffing.

Enrollment Projections for 2022-23 School Year and Adjustments to School Staffing

Seattle, like school districts across the nation, is facing lower student enrollment.  

Enrollment projections are used to determine school and central office budgets and staffing. Because of lower enrollment, staffing adjustments will be made at schools and in the district office for the 2022-23 school year.   

What does this mean for students and families?   

  • Staffing ratios at schools will not be changing for teachers, school staff, or school leaders.    
  • For some schools, they may receive an increase in staff to accommodate additional students.    
  • For other schools, staff may be moved to another building because their final enrollment was lower than predicted.     
  • The school principal may need to adjust the schedule and class lists to accommodate the final student enrollment.  

How are Enrollment Projections Used? 

Twice a year, we project student enrollment figures for the coming school year. These figures are important because they help us anticipate state funding and hire the anticipated number of staff for each school building. Funding for staff is based on student enrollment.  

The enrollment adjustment is a process all districts across the state use to match the number of teachers and students at each school.   

On February 28, SPS school principals received staff allocations for their school for next year.  

Early staffing, although not final, is needed so that the district does not miss hiring top candidates, especially in hard to fill positions.  

More School Nurses and Social Workers  

We know, listening to our educators, school leaders, families, and students, that student mental and physical health are a priority.  

Every school needs support for their students who are in crisis. Additional physical, social and emotional staffing supports students, educators, and school leaders. 

School Nurses 

Additional nurse allocations will be distributed across schools. These changes are determined by the Health Services Department after review of current staffing and student health needs at each school. 

School Counselors 

Every elementary and K-8 school will have at least a half-time counselor or social worker in their school. 

The Budget and Enrollment 

Student enrollment was down in 2021-22 and we expect that to continue next school year.  

School year 2021-22 enrollment was budgeted at 52,165, however actual enrollment for this school year is 50,250. That is 1,915 students less than budgeted. That difference resulted in receiving $28 million less in revenue than expected.  

Next Year’s Enrollment Represents a Trend 

The 2021-22 actual enrollment represents a decrease of 1,867 students from the previous school year enrollment count of 52,107.  

We anticipate that our lower enrollment will continue through the next school year, with a budgeted enrollment of 49,650.  

We made very few staffing reductions this year, which means staffing levels for 2022-23 need to be adjusted for our lower budgeted enrollment. 

Any changes to school staffing are challenging for school communities and we wish the situation was different for our students, staff, and families. Disruption is hard, and it is especially hard as we come out of a two-year pandemic. These staffing decisions aren’t made without considering numerous alternatives and consideration of the importance of our fiduciary responsibility to have a balanced budget, which at the foundation means aligning staffing to expected enrollment.  

School Staffing 

While school communities will see shifts in staffing, staffing ratios at schools will not be changing for teachers, school staff, or school leaders. 

These school-based positions affected include classroom educators, administrators, and classified staff.  

While this will feel like a reduction, these are not budget cuts, they represent the alignment of staffing to a lower projected enrollment. 

The Central District Office 

An estimated $2 million in budget reduction is being made at district office for the school year 2022-23.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

If more students enroll or students move to other schools will the district adjust staffing again?  

June and fall adjustments are part of the district’s regular staffing process and will be made if needed this year.  

During the school choice process, that began on February 1, families can apply to have their children attend a school outside their attendance area.  

After the school choice process ends on May 31, waitlist moves are made, and new students may continue to enroll throughout the summer. Fall staff adjustments are made again after the final enrollment count in October. 

Are there school-based sources of funding to help mitigate displacement of staff?  

Every year, most schools don’t spend their entire budget and roll funds to the following year.  

For example, as in previous years, millions of dollars ($20 million dollars in school year 2020-21) are also available in school accounts. Schools may use these dollars to stabilize staffing.  

Will my child’s teacher or other school staff lose their job?  

If there is a reduction in force (RIF), it will be limited.  

Every year, the district has an average of 400 educators leave the district. We anticipate that most teachers, instructional assistants, and classified staff will find jobs within Seattle Public Schools. On average 15 to 25 school leadership positions are available each year. We are hopeful that every displaced staff member will find a position in SPS.  

When there are RIFs, they tend to occur in specialized areas like career and technical education, languages, or with staff that have limited endorsement areas such as language arts only or social studies only. RIFs are also influenced by each school’s programmatic focus. 

How are February staffing allocations generated? 

Once the February student enrollment projections are finalized, data is sent to the budget team. The budget team uses the same Weighted Student Staffing (WSS) formula to generate staffing allocations. School leaders and central staff are represented on the WSS team and each year the formula is reviewed and revised.  

How does the Weighted Student Staffing (WSS) formula address racial equity?  

The WSS uses an Equity Tiering Methodology that has four tiers created by using both the number and percent of total school enrollment represented by students of color, English learner students, and students experiencing homelessness.  

This methodology results in higher levels of resource and funding allocations to our schools serving these students. Examples include smaller class sizes in elementary schools and counselors. 

How were school leaders engaged? 

School leaders select members to be part of an internal committee that develops, adjusts, and reviews both staff allocations and our WSS equity tiering methodology.  

How were the 2022-23 projections calculated?  

The staffing process starts in December when an expert team predicts the following year student enrollment.  

The team considers: 

  • population  
  • registration  
  • birth rates  
  • economic trends  
  • housing  
  • neighboring district trends 
  • opening of new SPS schools, and more 

What is the difference between a displacement and a reduction in force (RIF)? 

Displacement occurs within a building or central department and RIF is district-wide.  

Displacement occurs when a budget reduction or staffing decision requires a reduction of SEA represented positions in a school or program. If a staff member is displaced, they are eligible for other positions in the district for which they are qualified.  

A RIF occurs after district-wide staffing is complete and it is determined that there is a greater number of staff than funded positions. A RIF results in layoffs.  

How does recall from RIF work? 

The recall period for laid-off employees shall be renewable on an annual basis by the former employee for a two-year length of time.  

Recall is done in seniority order within category and job title as positions become available. Classified employees must inform Employment Services by the 10th of every other month beginning in September that they are available to return to work. 

Have additional questions? You may send additional questions about the SPS budget and staffing to budget@seattleschools.org  

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