The Seattle City Council has moved around money from several other departments so that Seattle Public Schools will have money to help retain child care services on its campuses.

In its final select budget committee Monday morning, Nov. 21, the council voted in a provision to the city budget to create a $670,548 Child Care Space Mitigation Fund for the Department of Education and Early Learning to use toward on-site child care in Seattle Public Schools campuses. The council passed the budget in its regular council meeting Monday afternoon.

The final earmarked amount is a little more than two-thirds the amount of Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s original proposal, made the second week of November, to set aside $1 million for the Child Care Space Mitigation Fund.

Herbold submitted the budgetary green sheets -- altering Mayor Ed Murray’s original proposed budget -- to maintain on-site child care in public schools, in the face of shrinking space.

“There are many different constraints on the school district for space and we should have a way to mitigate those impacts … to make improvements or potentially looking at adding portables,” Herbold said. “The goal being that before- and after-care is best realized when it’s on-site to reduce the transportation to before and after school care for children.”

This past fall marked the eighth year of rising student enrollments in Seattle Public Schools, and the district has struggled to make space for the classrooms needed to accommodate every child. Last year, in October 2015, the district notified the 69 directors of its before- and after-school child care programs that some of them might lose their dedicated rooms to make way for new classrooms.

Officials initially estimated that providers at as many as 19 schools would be affected.

By February, that figure had been narrowed down to seven schools: Adams, Daniel Bagley, Bryant, Coe, Hawthorne and Maple elementary schools, as well as Madrona K-8. The list is the most recent list made publicly available by Seattle Public Schools.

District spokesperson Luke Duecy said that list is no longer accurate, but had not furnished an updated list as of this writing. That information will be updated when available.

An examination of a list of all Seattle Public Schools child care providers shows only Adams, Coe and Hawthorne elementary schools have each added off-site child care programs. Those campuses’ on-site providers also remain listed.

The money allocated by the Seattle City Council comes from money originally allocated to several other departments in the budget. The funding effectively came in three “chunks” covered in three legislative green sheets modifying Mayor Ed Murray’s original proposed budget, according to Herbold’s legislative assistant, Alex Clardy.

The first $330,000 chunk came from $98,000 from the Department of Parks and Recreation; $108,000 from the Department of Human Resources; and $124,000 from the Human Services Department. Herbold originally proposed suspending six months of funding from several vacant jobs in those departments, after Councilmember Sally Bagshaw pointed out more than 1,000 vacant jobs that would continue to be funded in the city budget. But Herbold ultimately submitted a substitute green sheet that would give each department freedom to choose where to cut the money.

The second $31,360 chunk came from cutting an unnecessary city vehicle from the budget, Clardy said.

The third $309,188 chunk came from projected funding set aside for 2018 evaluation of the recently passed secure scheduling legislation. The Office of the City Auditor will be encouraged to seek outside funding for that evaluation during 2017, and the City Council will look at funding the difference in the 2018 budget, Clardy said.

Councilmember Rob Johnson lauded the bill, noting that, as a parent of students in the district, he had seen parents at Bryant Elementary camp out the night before registration to ensure their children received spots in their school’s child care programs.

“This work is going to be critical for us to reduce some of the stress,” he said. “I think we’re taking a bold step here that will have pretty significant impacts on families with young children in the school district.”

But the injection of funds is complicated by the fact that the displacement of child care programs hasn’t been a matter of money, but space. No Seattle schools have lost their child care programs — the district’s West Seattle campuses in fact expanded their child care programs — but some providers have had to relocate.

Council President Bruce Harrell said, when he met with district officials, they gave the idea of the Space Mitigation Fund a cool reception — potentially seeing the fund as less a gift than outside pressure to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem.

“While they are sympathetic and empathetic to displaced children … they were less than enthusiastic about this measure,” Harrell said. “… I think there’s a lot of details to work out with the district because they have space concerns.”

Nevertheless, district officials were publicly gracious regarding the fund’s passage.

“Seattle Public Schools is thankful for the city of Seattle’s continued support of education for our students and providing access to childcare [sic] for families,” Duecy said.

He added the district was looking at “many areas” where the funding could benefit child care programs.

It’s possible the school district could decline the city’s funds, said Councilmember Tim Burgess, who noted the difficulty the city had in persuading Seattle Public Schools to set aside space for the Seattle Preschools program.

In that case, child care providers would be able to apply for the funds themselves to secure off-site locations, Herbold said.