As you may have noticed from the tv ads, school is going to start up soon in some areas of the country. Here, SPS will be starting up again on September 8th. (Although the Board calendar shows that Hawthorne and West Seattle Elementaries will start on August 31st.)
We won't see the Board in action again until the August 18th Board meeting. That should definitely be interesting as I would expect them to say something, anything about the audit report. There will be many Board committee meetings this month but no Board member district meetings. (There is one Board workshop this month about Families and Education levy and budget goals.) I think one of the best places to hear the Board hash out the coming year will be at the Board retreat on September 11th.
But it sure has gotten heated over at Harium Martin-Morris' blog on the issue of the audit. Harium asks one anonymous person to watch their tone (and I would agree). Don't ever post in anger even if you are angry.
Let me first say that anyone who has signed up for what is basically a tough volunteer job needs some degree of respect.
That said, tough times call for tough questions. I don't like hounding public officials or heckling them, whether in a blog or in person. But, for example, Charlie asks a straightforward question, no snark, to a response from Harium:
On one hand, Director Martin-Morris tells us that the Board is working on a plan to directly address items in the state auditor's report.
On the other hand he says that the Board won't start work on any of this until they get together in August.
Which is it? Is the Board working on it now or will they start working on it in August?
Harium says later on:
I do not have a time frame for a response to all of the audit. The board and the senior management have not gotten together yet, due to vacation schedules and other events. That work will begin I would guess in August.
He guesses? So really I'm thinking they are not at all worried about the audit, either on the Board side or the administration side. Keep that in mind going forward. It feels like a simple "we're working on it" is all we are going to get which is the equivalent of "we'll get back to you on that". I think given how severe the last couple of audits have been, maybe the Board/district should put out a detailed explanation of each finding and how it will be addressed. (For example, I requested the MOUs for each credit card and was told that "the MOU for the Superintendent is being amended." And is that in relation to the audit? I don't know. I'd like to see the new MOU after it is signed.
An Anonymous person asks Harium (and it's a perfectly good question): I would also like to see a report on the savings from the transportation changes as my family was impacted by this change.
I think it fair to ask the Board to direct the Superintendent that, anytime staff claims a cost savings, to have to come back to the Board and the public and show the savings did occur and where that money was then directed to.
I know, I know. You want to enjoy summer (such that it is this year in Seattle - anyone else notice the odd yellow lighting this quiet Sunday?). But honestly, I'm a little worried at a Board that seems to be not taking the audit all that seriously that they can say they'll think about it later. That there has not been on official statement from the Board certainly should be noticed by all.
(On the election front, I've heard from at least one person who is going to challenge Harium and possibly one in West Seattle to challenge Steve. Honestly folks, Peter would be the easiest to challenge so there's GOT to be someone in that district who will step up.)