Although the Seattle School Board wants to cut funding for the Seattle school district's Family Support Workers program from a city levy, the City of Seattle is in no hurry to see it go.
Seattle's Office of Education Director Holly Miller defended the FSW program. Miller said that the program had met 80 percent of its goals this year and would likely be supported by the levy planning and oversight committee in its final recommendations to the City Council. "It has done very well," she said. "Other programs have also failed to meet 100 percent of their goals, that doesn't mean they will be defunded."
But School board president Michael DeBell said that the program was not meeting the targets set for "improving academic standards of students in high poverty schools." As a result, the board wants to replace it with elementary and middle school counselors.
"The state does not fund counselors in elementary schools—we feel that a counselor with a masters degree will be able to do more for students," than family support workers (who do not have teaching certificates), DeBell said. "It's not like we want to get rid of family support workers—the work they do is really valuable. It's a question of priorities."
The board's plan has angered the teachers union and some community members who are campaigning to save the program which provides struggling students with basic services. The program gets about $2.4 million from a $17 million Families and Education Levy which is up for renewal next year.
A 2008-2009 report (.pdf) from the Office of Education shows that poor and minority elementary school students continue to lag behind in math and reading despite investments such as the FSW program. Miller said that the program might be restructured to serve the needs of older students as well.