- the importance of having a self-evaluative tool
- following a policy governance model
- the need to complete the oversight work session 2-year cycle
- completing the work on the updating of Board policies
- organizing committee meetings and work sessions around strategic goals
- training opportunities for committee chairs, such as having an annual calendar, alignment to Board priorities, and tracking what is work that has to be done
- holding themselves accountable for strategic and operational outcomes
- placing an emphasis on the oversight role to maintain an accountability structure
- connecting the strategic plan and the Board committees to the urgent work of the district
They could do each and every one of these things if they really wanted to do them. The fact that they don't do them is evidence that they don't really want to do them. So why do they even pretend that they want to do these things. Of course, I could be wrong. This could be the moment that they draw a sharp line between the way that they used to do business and the way that they will do business going forward. Yeah, that's a good fantasy. They get opportunities to do these exact things later the same day but don't take any of those opportunities. This whole discussion was one of the most discouraging thing I have ever read about Seattle Public Schools.
Here was the best and most encouraging thing I have ever read about Seattle Public Schools:
Supt. Banda noted his concerns about how to work more efficiently to support the Board in how they make decisions, and that the current pace may create burnout amongst staff. He spoke about getting guidance on the work he does and how to build the relationship to increase trust from the Board. Bob Boesche spoke about the need to stabilize things in the district to then be able to focus on important work to be done. Supt. Banda spoke about prior work where many fast decisions were made and that the structure created issues. He noted the need to look at things from all angles and get greater input from the Board and community. Mr. Ness spoke about different leadership styles and how Supt. Banda uses the servant leadership model, which begins with idea that they want to serve first.When times get tough I hope to come back to this and read it again.
The Board took a moment for a post-mortem on the Creative Approach Schools MOU to determine how that fiasco was hatched. Director DeBell blamed it all on Director Sundquist and Director Maier: "Director DeBell noted that prior work on the CAS MOU had been handled by two former Board members".Nice. The conclusion they drew was this:
Directors discussed the overall process for items coming before the Board and the level of involvement needed to ensure a better final decision. It was noted that work should be evaluated to determine if it is routine versus reform, and that reform work should come to the Board to provide guiding principles to guide the work.Sounds like a good rule. Let's see if they follow it.
The Board then turned their attention to the Strategic Plan. They have taken a lesson from the former Strategic Plan, "Excellence for All": Don't try to do too much. They decided that the new plan should only focus on three to five projects. Then they went on to make a long list of things that should be in the new plan:
- determine what should be centralized and which de-centralized
- professional development
- duplicating successful strategies from school to school
- updating the district scorecard
- improving performance management
- create economies of scale in purchasing
- following up on program audits
- following up on unmet goals
- interventions for struggling students
Now we come to the part of the meeting in which the Board sets their priorities for the year. These will be the three to five items that will be designated as Board Priorities. I'm not sure what comes with that designation. The first items identified for priority were those which were currently underway and needed to continue. They included:
- Common Core Standards
- The equitable access framework
- Bringing evaluations to scale
- International Baccalaureate at Rainier Beach High School.
- Bringing Teacher & Principal Profession Growth & Evaluations (PG&E) to scale
- Development of Equitable Access Framework: Phase I
- Development & Implementation of Student Support Strategies/MTSS
- Replacement Strategic Plan
It appears that the Board treats these priorities like a Ronco rotisserie - they set 'em and forget 'em. Let's remind ourselves of the Board's Priorities from last year:
- Capacity Management - not done. It has been rolled into BEX IV and it's a mess.
- Discipline policy - not done. To be fair, some initial work has been done.
- Graduation Requirements - not done. Conversation hasn't even started.
- Innovation Schools - not done. This is the Creative Approach Schools and it has been botched - badly.
- Budget Development - not done. Conversation hasn't even started.
- Instructional Materials Waiver Process - done.
- Program Access is last year's fancy way of saying program placement procedure. It had a September 2012 deadline that was, as we know, missed. You'll notice that this year's Board Retreat, while it did identify this as a priority again, didn't make any reference to the fact that it was one of the Board Priorities last year, didn't make any reference to the the September 2012 deadline, and didn't make any reference to the idea of anyone being held accountable for missing the deadline.
- Bell Times - Last year they committed to making bell times a priority this year, but then didn't actually identify it as a priority for this year
- Credit retrieval - withdrawn as a priority
The Board and the District completed only one of the seven Board Priorities for the year. Only one of them was rolled forward as a priority this year. One that was supposed to be rolled over wasn't. I don't know what it means when a project has been identified as a Board Priority but it clearly doesn't mean that the Board is going to hold staff accountable for doing it or even talk about it very much over the year. I don't think the Board knows what it means either. It doesn't appear to mean anything at all.