Here's a quick overview of the last Board meeting.
Speakers: this was really interesting as nearly half of those signed up did not show. And, there was no one to take their place.
I spoke on the issue of the nearly $1M payout and how it really didn't have to happen if our principals remembered their duty to act in a professional and fair manner (the majority do but if you read this appeals transcript, it is clear some don't). I also mentioned that in the additional material from the Auditor's report, the Auditor had sought counsel from the Attorney General's office on the issue of the expenditure on food that the Superintendent spent on the retirement banquet. The AG's office said that in the absence of district policies or regulations, it would be considered "gifting of public funds". And the district said that the Superintendent will be having a banquet every year just for certificated employees. (My thought here is that the Superintendent could just attend the luncheon for ALL the long-time retiring employees, shake everyone's hand and say "thank you for your service to our district" rather than spending public funds on a fancy banquet.)
There were also speakers in support of the early education program at Ballard that is being closed because Ballard needs for room for students. It's ironic because the Superintendent is pushing early education AND this area of Ballard High was built specifically for early education and yet, they're closing it. (Oh yes, and it was a successful program for the children in the school as well as the high school students who interned there.)
The Superintendent's remarks were about the Strategic Plan, MAP, rolling out the district scorecard, (yes, Charlie, she read her Powerpoint). BUT, you see because she's moved on to other parts of the Strategic Plan, NOW her public engagement will be different. "This year my engagement will focus on Listening, Learning and Responding." Odd, because she has given the distinct impression from various things she has said in the past that she didn't think it worth listening to parents because they were unable to see past their own child.
So it's not that she didn't want to talk with parents for the last three years. It's that now is the time to talk with parents and community. Oh. Funny, how I have never heard this said before but I guess there had to be some reason given for this turnaround because our Superintendent never admits a mistake. (FYI: there is a welcome to the new school year that I would have liked to see on the district's homepage; it's on the Superintendent's page. I'd laugh but it's not funny. Who ever goes to the Superintendent's page?)
So guess what? She's scheduled regional community meetings (5) and will have expanded "learning walks", brown bag lunches with principals and you can shadow a principal for a half-day (might be interesting AND entertaining so call your principal today). I'd like to be able to give you the dates but it's not at the News and Calendar page. Not at the Superintendent's page. I have no idea where to find it.
What was hilarious was that the Superintendent finished and asked for questions and one member of the audience got up and went to the microphone. Yes, imagine asking the Superintendent a question at the Board meeting and believing you could get an answer. The Board actually looked slightly embarrassed and Michael DeBell said sorry, she meant the Board could ask questions.
Director Carr stated that in the near future that there would need to be discussion about adjusting the Strategic Plan around the audit and especially around management. (It's about time someone said something.) She said that what's in the plan is what gets funded and we need people and money to take care of audit issues.
Betty Patu thanked the Superintendent for creating the outreach to parent and communities. Well, that's one way to look at it.
The Superintendent also said that she believes that the work around "aligning the curriculum has been inaccurately stated as standardizing the curriculum and that's not true." She said that "teachers could go above it and use supplemental materials." You heard it here.
Director DeBell responded to the comment about examining strategic plan goals and changes in the environment. He said that the State Auditor's report is sobering in some of the deficiencies in governing processes and how the Board makes decisions and holds itself accountable as a governance team. He said they would be discussing this at the Board retreat this Saturday (which is open to the public to listen to).
Then, as previously reported, the new head of Nutrition Services, Eric Boutin, was introduced and talked about the new pilot program for high school breakfast. (Interestingly, today I learned that West Seattle High School has unilaterally reduced the most popular breakfast period from 15 minutes to 5 minutes. So why bother with it? Clearly no kid can pay for the breakfast and eat in 5 minutes. This occurred without notice to any of the cafeteria workers or union reps despite repeated commitments from central administration that this would not happen AND despite the fact that is is not legal to have done so.)
Then we came to COO/CFO Don Kennedy and the district's plan to the State Audit. That will be part two of this report.