Education A National Roundup

Seattle District Scrambles to Save Foundation Funds

By Jeff Archer — January 25, 2005 1 min read

Seattle school district officials say they are working to resolve concerns raised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which recently halted the payment of grant money to the 45,000-student system.

The foundation withheld the money after finding that some schools in the district had yet to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars already given to them by the Seattle-based foundation, said John Thorp, the Seattle public schools official who coordinates the Gates-supported effort.

At stake is the final, $2.9 million installment of a five-year, $26 million grant awarded in 2000 to help Seattle’s schools carry out planning, training, and restructuring to improve student performance, foundation officials said. Much of the work is being done at the secondary school level.

Mr. Thorp said leadership turnover may have hampered progress at some schools. Because of retirements and employee transfers, all of the district’s 10 comprehensive high schools are led by principals who have been in their jobs for two years or less, he said.

He added that the schools have worked to get things back on track, and that he plans to meet with Gates officials this week.

“It was a withhold to get us to pay more attention to what the high schools are or are not doing,” he said. “And it worked.”

A version of this article appeared in the January 26, 2005 edition of Education Week