Sunday, August 14, 2011

More Belt-Tightening Likely for SPS

I attended a Crosscut lunch with their guest, Senator Ed Murray.  There wasn't a lot to smile about in listening to him.  The September revenue forecast is unlikely to be good.  The Governor has already sent out signals that she expects departments to find another 10% to cut.

As the Senator points out, K-12 is somewhat protected because of the constitutional mandate.  However, that doesn't mean they might not cut something else.  As I mentioned elsewhere, Director DeBell is worried the Legislature will tie money to attendance, forcing a really big mandate on schools and school districts.  Don't be surprised to hear more about attendance at your school.

What was sad was that he said that he didn't feel many of his fellow legislators held that kind of regard for higher ed.  He said some of them felt the state should get out of the higher ed business (which begs the question of whether it is a "business").  That felt a little scary because we are so focused on K-12 and then the focus drops off after that?  Why?  He said he thought it was a combination of a mistrust of higher ed (elitism) and not being sure the money is worth the investment.

Really?  Having an educated workforce isn't vital to a state's economy?  Having major research done at universities isn't both an economic issue and a point of importance to our state and our country?  (And, most of the research is paid for, not by the state, but by grants and other funding.) 

I communicated to the Senator that I felt maybe, like the school district, the Legislature isn't being transparent enough to voters about the budget.  A lot of numbers get put out and there's pie charts,etc.  but no one really feels they know where ALL the money comes from and where it ALL goes. Same for the district.  He agreed more outreach is important.

I also asked him about his past support for mayoral control of the district.  He said that was Greg Nichols idea but that he had supported a possible half-appointed and half-elected school board with possible payment for the appointees with special skills (like finance).   I could not read the rest of the table so I'm not sure what the mood was.  I'd have to think about that one myself.  But it's not on anyone's "to-do" list so I don't know if we'll ever hear any more about it.

Lastly, not about education, but of interest in the voting on Tuesday, here's what he said (from Crosscut's article) about what might happen if the vote on the tunnel goes down:


"If there's a 'no' vote, the entity that has to act is the Legislature," Murray said. He said there would be three paths to follow. One, "if Seattle can present a unified plan," would be to accept that, adding that unity would be unlikely if the tunnel receives a thumbs-down. Second, "the most responsible thing to do" and most likely, is the Legislature sticks with the deep-bore tunnel. The third, the dire-picture one, is that the state decides to tear down the current Viaduct, a safety hazard, and then washes its hands of the whole mess. That means letting the city figure out its own routing of traffic, and allocating what remains of the $2.4 billion (maybe half) to projects in Spokane and elsewhere.

Could that happen, letting the city stew in its own mess? It's unlikely the City Council would let go of the issue it has steered these past years, and bonded over. Even more unlikely that the Legislature wants the thankless task of coming up with a new solution, even if it had the satisfying flavor of sticking it to Seattle.


I was quite surprised to hear him say that the Legislature, in the case of a no vote, might tear down the Viaduct and then leave it alone.  Interesting.  I wouldn't have thought that would be option but again, many members of the Legislature could just throw their hands up in frustration and tell Seattle to go, well, you know.

2 comments:

Ed Murray said...

Let me be clear. I have consistently stated as I did at the meeting that I strongly support a public higher education system and that it is the way to create jobs and move out state forward.
In addition I stated some republican members would like to privatize our Higher Education system.
Thanks,
Ed Murray

dan dempsey said...

Dear Ed Murray,

There are a number of us that would like to see evidence based decision-making in government. The Superintendent of public instruction was to submit a report on Jan 1, 2011 detailing the complete impacts of the adoption of the common core standards. Mr. Dorn did not do that ... the report arrived on Jan 31, 2011. Apparently few legislators read it and few if any discussed it publicly.

The legislators completely disregarded Mr. Dorn's violation..... a reading of Mr. Dorn's tardy report revealed that local school districts will be footing most of the CCSSI cost.

You and your fellow legislators have saddled local districts with a $165 million cost over 5-years.

This is an unfunded mandate for WA schools, which will have local districts financing the largest expansion of {pointless} testing in the history of education.

In a time of severe budget restrictions, the legislature's decision not to delay the adoption of the common core standards .... forced districts to spend the equivalent of salaries for 330+ teachers per year.... on more administrative nonsense that has zero to do with improving classroom instruction.

Sincerely,
Dan Dempsey