- "Staff, families and community members are invited to attend quarterly community meetings on May 5, 6 and 9 for discussions and updates on the School District's Strategic Plan Excellence for All, development of the new Student Assignment Plan, information about upcoming levies, as well as other key topics.
Tuesday, May 5, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Ingraham High School Library, 1819 North 135th Street
Thursday, May 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m.at the Filipino Community Center of Seattle, 5740 Martin Luther King Jr.Saturday, May 9, 10:00 a.m. to noon at the John Stanford Center, Auditorium
2445 3rd Ave"
- This was on today's News and Calendar page:
Seattle Public Schools is working with public health officials to decide whether there will be a change in status for Madrona, Aki Kurose and Stevens. Families and staff will be notified by phone, Web postings and media announcements of any changes."
- The Board is having a Work Session this week on Wednesday from 4-5:30 followed by the regular School Board Meeting from 6-9 p.m.
- There is also a 4-hr (pack those snacks!) work session Wednesday, May 13th from 4-8 p.m. about BTA III planning.
The other is the BTA (Buildings, Technology and Academics) levy. This is a workhorse levy, every bit as important as BEX (Building Excellence) because of the large number of schools that received upgrades from it.
However, the BTA is a bit problematic for me. I don't want this levy to fail but there are some dark clouds gathering that could really hurt it (and possibly, scarily, the Operating Levy). One, this district has shown little real public accountability to how they have spent the money from BEX and BTA levies. Money is constantly moved around from project to project, fund to fund (look on either Board meeting agenda this month and I'll bet you'll find yet another request from staff for movement of money) and the public (and parents) have little idea of where the money eventually ends up. Do all the projects get done? Which ones and as described in the voter pamphlet? Who gets left off and why? You have to be a detective to figure it all out.
Now there may be some who say that all-emcompassing phrase, "But it's for the kids so who cares what buildings get what as long as they fix the schools."
But it does matter.
Schools get promises from the district that don't get carried out. I'll bet everyone reading this is at or knows a school that has real building problems. It also matters because this is PUBLIC money. We all, from the lay taxpayer to parents in the district, have a right to know how the money is spent and in detail.
What else is a problem? Well, that State Auditor's report on BEX is a-comin' and now that it has grown more complex (this according to the State Auditor's office), it will come out later in the year which puts it much closer to the levy vote. That could be dangerous. If the public perceives that the district is not handling these huge sums that BEX votes generate, they might show their disapproval at the polls. We're in a failing economy and taxpayers see the cuts coming from the Legislature and then they see a report, from the same group that audited the Port Commission, about BEX spending that is (to my mind) likely to be very unfavorable? Not good.
Right now the Seattle Council PTSA is asking PTAs to give donations to the levy campaign now and in the fall as well as find levy chairs from each school and likely, work phone banks in the fall. I have no problem working hard to support the district. But I wish the Seattle Council PTSA would say to the district that we, as a parent group, would like some accountability to back up our money and our hard work. What about a quarterly report from the district explaining the timelines, what is scheduled, what is done, what isn't done, money spent, money remaining and any projects not likely to get done? Is that really asking too much?
I don't think so. It certainly might make the public at-large to feel better about voting for the levies (no matter the outcome of the state audit of BEX) to know that the PTA, as a parent group, is asking for accountability and will be monitoring the BTA money.