So I guess the folks at Schools First are getting a little desperate. Because in not one but two radio interviews, their spokesperson said things that were just plain wrong and/or misleading. I want to point this out because no matter how much you want to win, you do not tell voters wrong information. Not if you want to have your group keep any integrity going forward.
Exhibit 1. This afternoon, Dorothy Neville of the Committee for Responsible Education Spending debated Sharon Rodgers from Schools First on KUOW.
Sharon stated, that "no money was lost" in the audit.
Yes, it was. The district overpayed something like 80 employees over a series of months and is working to get the money back. It is unlikely this will happen. Missing assets (equipment) was also another of the findings. The Superintendent's gifting of public funds in the form of the gift certificates she gave out at the retirement money is money lost (this from the Attorney General's office, not me). Using $1.8M of capital money improperly (which is now leaving the General Fund to go back into the capital fund). The district had to repay the feds money from incorrect counting of Native America students.
Exhibit 2. A story on KPLU. Sharon said (and I didn't know this because we did our interviews separately because otherwise I would have called her on it). She said,
"This is purely to help keep our classrooms in business over the next three years," she said.
Look folks, please understand that no matter how emotionally attached you are to your child's school, this levy is NOT going to drive dollars into the classroom. Whether or not the teachers get their raises or the contract is enacted (more on that in a minute), your child will have a teacher in their classroom. The classroom is in business.
(Keep in mind with the TIF federal grant, the teachers contract - sans raise but with everything else - will be enacted at 34 schools (that's about a third of our schools. So it's like getting free money to pilot the program.)
Crappy textbooks? Yes, but who let them get this old and out of date? Who stopped buying books on a timely basis? And if the Legislature hadn't lifted the lid? No textbooks at all (which most would consider, after the teacher, a classroom basic so how come the district doesn't treat it that way?). And how much will the consultant cost for the social studies and science textbook adoption? The one for the LA adoption was pretty pricey.
And understand that the first year money is about $14.5M for school year 2011-2012 when the district says we will be about $28M in the hole. The levy will give the district that $14.5M in 2011. So when they start preparing budgets, look and see if any of that money goes to protect the classroom. Out of that, about $12.5M is promised in other directions, not the classroom. So money to go directly to the classrooms of the 94 odd schools we have? About $1.5M for 2011. How that will fill school budget holes all over the district is a mystery. Come 2012? Probably the same thing.