Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Appointed School Boards

True to his word, Senator Ed Murray is introducing a bill for appointed school boards.
Here's how it would work

"The bill sets out a procedure for citizens or organizations to file petitions with the county auditor to transform a district from an elected board to an appointed board, or vice versa. To be successful, a petition must be signed by 10 percent of registered voters in the district and clearly designate who would appoint the board."

Re-reading the article, it isn't clear to me if that puts on the ballots or, if the signatures are verified, it just changes. I'm thinking it puts it on the ballot but I'll have to go hunt down the original text of the bill.

I had called the Senator's office twice this summer when I first heard about this bill. I am a constiuent of his and had expected to hear back from someone but I didn't. I don't honestly believe that he is hearing this from his constiuents. It didn't get mentioned in his newsletters until recently.

I'm with Cheryl; how is appointing a board better than electing one? If you allow elected officials to appoint the board, well, they were elected based on what people thought of their qualifications; why can't people make the same judgments for the people they elect to the school board?

And in a great bit of schadenfreude, the Board is hosting a luncheon in Olympia today for the Seattle delegation. I'm sure the Senator and Cheryl Chow will find lots to talk about today.

7 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Who, exactly, is upset with the Board's actions and which actions in particular are they upset with?

There is a recall effort underway (Court hearing likely to be scheduled for February 2) for five of the Board members for approving the school closures.

On the other side of the decision, there is the Seattle Times and the Seattle Establishment which is upset with the Board for not closing more schools. These folks seem to think that the Board works for the Superintendent instead of the other way around.

If this is supposed to be about accountability, then an elected Board is MUCH better than an appointed Board.

If this is supposed to be about expertise, then either system is equally likely to produce good or bad results.

I can't say that the Seattle City Council or the State Legislature has demonstrated any more accountability or competence than the Seattle School Board. Perhaps they should be appointed as well.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a link to the bill, SB 5535:

http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2007-08/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5535.pdf

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

Thanks for the link, Charlie.
The attention has been on elected vs. appointed, but it's interesting that the Bill is broader than that. It includes a section on training and professional development for Board members that would be state funded, free to Board members, and participation would be made public to hold Board members accountable to training. It also has a section that would allow for Board members to be compensated. So, even if Seattle decides to stick with an elected Board, this bill might improve the quality. I didn't notice anything about paid staff (perhaps districts can do that on their own without state legislation), but I think that might be the most useful thing to help Board members do their jobs effectively. Maybe the paid staff members can be appointed? :-)

Charlie Mas said...

I would not mind an appointed school board if we could elect the Superintendent

Anonymous said...

Leslie here

What is to prevent the Board from budgeting for and adding one or two staff analysts to report to them? Do we know of another legislative body that does not have staff directly accountable to the legislative body?

Also what is to prevent members of the general public from drafting and offering resolutions to the Board, e.g., draft policies and requesting publicly through the public testimony portion of the meetings for the Board to review and consider? Don't interest groups/lobbyists do this every day? Then, one would hope that the accountability issue of the draft policies being ignored or completely changed would be transparent.

Perhaps the first draft policy should be to develop a mechanism to address a process for policies coming coming from a party other than the SPS Administration or a schoolboard member, the second might be for hiring staff accountable to the board for independant information; and third, if not prohibited by statute or WAC - give the boardmembers raises - (at least in other legislative bodies the current board can't give itself raises but would kick in w/ new members and/or during the next term . . .)

Feedback?

Charlie Mas said...

There is a process for proposing Policies or drafting resolutions. The District has it on their web site. Unfortunately, the Board web pages are messed up right now.

The problem with the process is that it requires a Board member to introduce any proposal.

Anonymous said...

Leslie here,

Charlie I understand that - but the idea is like any other legislative body/interest group - we draft policies, send to the Board and/or advise of same in public testimony and request that the Board review, analyze and address in the future. Just like in Seattle, King Co Council, Legislature, etc.

Then it is incumbent on us that have issues to deal w/ them constructively and the Board to be responsive.

Thanks for listening - others - Feedback?