We had lawsuit by QA/Magnolia parents that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The outcome was a minor win for the parents (they got rid of the use of the racial tiebreakers used by SPS) but they didn't get race thrown out for use in enrollment plans. Instead, the district created a small high school, The Center School, which is great little high school but was not what those parents wanted and has cost the district a lot of money (to create and sustain). The rippled out effect are the large legal fees the district is likely to have to pay (and thus we lose money for our district) and to over enroll Ballard and likely Roosevelt and create problems there.
And, those two neighborhoods still have no high school.
The mistrust and anger and unhappiness that act - of closing, leasing and selling QA High - has affected the whole district and is still here years later.
So, why bring it up? Well, because it is likely happening again and maybe in a worse way.
I'm speaking, of course, of the Denny/Sealth project. I could give you a long litany of how this project was flawed, from almost its inception when former Director Stewart gave Board members the impression that the communities involved were all for it, to today.
The latest is that the BEX staff in Facilities has recommended to the Board, at Wednesday's Board meeting, Option 2 which is the one where more money will be put towards Sealth's project (but it's also an illusion because this amount had been taken out in previous discussion and now is basically just being returned). That money, $10M, is to come from other accounts that, to my mind, the staff and Board have no business using for this purpose (they are a fund to pay off the headquarters and two BEX III funds for other projects). This is not an emergency; they are simply trying to buy off a community to continue what they want to do. However, it seems that the obstacles in this project are not really money based so that extra money isn't going to solve these obstacles.
So what does this have to do with the district overall?
- the district printed one thing in the voter's guide and another in its mailing to 45,000 households. Why would they do that? It was a deliberate decision. This kind of action is just the thing to make voters mistrust the district.
- this project is going to alter or destroy work done previously on Sealth in the last 5 years. Again, how can voters trust the district to use their money responsibly when they do something like this?
- If the district can come into Sealth and say that they have to create a new program, without asking parents or staff, then every single school community in this district should worry. Because it means they will feel they can do it anywhere at any time.
- the first community engagement meeting (at least that I know of) by Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson is one where a presentation is made, the audience is divided into small groups who get to ask questions and report them back to the group at large but receive no answers. Can you imagine doing this for the meetings for the new Enrollment plan? That is not public engagement and it doesn't bode well for the future.
- this district preaches about academics driving everything. This project is not driven by any real academic program or outline of a program. We are told there can be academic benefits to 6-12 collaboration. Period. That's not really enough to commit two schools to a 50-year relationship. (Denny is being built for a 50-year cycle so if this great experiment doesn't work, well, the two school are co-joined and it will stay that way.)
The district and the Board are sowing some bitter seeds of resentment. Surprisingly, Director Sundquist said he already favors Option 2 and said, at the community meeting at Sealth this week, that "the community will have to challenge his beliefs". I kind of think that's backwards. He should be going out and asking his community (at this meeting, they were clearly skeptical) about their beliefs.
I told the Board at last night's Board meeting (paraphrasing) - as you sow, so you reap and if you sow the wind, don't be surprised to reap the whirlwind. I also said, in closing, it's never the wrong time to do the right thing.