I'm sure some of you might think, "Why is she bothering to interview them when it seems clear she doesn't support them?" My answer is that it is the fair thing to do. Is there something I can glean from talking to them one-on-one that I have missed? I have very few questions for them so I'm not grilling them. My most basic question is this one:
Going forward, what will YOU, as an individual Board director, do differently in your second term based on what you have learned from your first term?
I am endorsing Sharon Peaslee because I believe that:
- she has the skill set to get up to speed quickly (something that is key for new Board member)
- she has had the experience as a parent in three districts in our region
- she has the understanding of Special Ed because of her own children
- she has shown herself someone willing to stand up for parents and for community engagement
- she is tenacious
Peter Maier has not shown me, over the last 3+ years that he uses input from parents and community to guide his decisions. The incumbents talk about listening but it is not enough to listen. I want to know what do they get from that listening that is helping to guide their decisions.
I asked Peter my main question in red above. There was a mighty long pause. Frankly, I was surprised. I would have thought of all the questions he might be asked, this would be one that would roll right off his tongue. He seems to believe that the new financial systems as well as the quarterly reviews of different departments will take care of the oversight.
My problem with that is that the previous "professional" Board thought they had it all taken care of with Moss-Adams. They believed systems were being put into place. It didn't happen so I'd like to know why we should believe this Board.
Peter also said that the quarterly reviews would show if different programs within a department had completed a review. The Board didn't say one single word to Silas Potter for his disobedience in lobbying the Legislature even when he stood before them and admitted it. So we are to believe that during department reviews, the Board will be tough and hold staff's feet to the fire if review work isn't done?
In other areas, Peter had some thoughts about the focus for the district but no real ideas about how that might happen. He brought up Mercer Middle School and how well it is doing (and says they closed the achievement gap but that's news to me). I mentioned to him about how at the Seattle Channel Town Hall Mercer's achievements were brought up (apparently he never saw it which is surprising) and that it was because they were NOT on the same page as the other middle schools. I said if Mercer can get permission to run differently and other schools get math waivers, how will he promote this autonomy to other schools? I didn't get any real answer.
So he's for innovation and math hybrids but he's has no plan for other schools to try this.
I also asked him why he didn't recommend that other Board members read the Sutor Report once he had and was concerned about it. (He keeps saying that it wasn't about the RSBD but about the Small Business Works but Silas was involved with both so that argument just doesn't hold water with me.) He said he had no idea if Fred Stephens had given it to other Board members. I asked him if he knew if other Board members had read it after the notice in the Superintendent's Friday update. He said he didn't know.
This all brings me to my major reason to not re-elect Peter - how many times do you get burned before you do something? When will Peter hold staff's feet to the fire? We haven't seen it yet (firing the Super and Kennedy don't count; the writing was on the wall there). If we haven't seen it in 3+ years, I don't think it's going to happen.
We need people on the Board who want true accountability and transparency and I believe in Position 1 that person is Sharon Peaslee.