The Team is made up of City staff, SPS staff, UW staff, community college reps, business reps and labor reps. It's quite a diverse group (well, in what they do - not so much diversity in what they look like). SPS staff there today included Pegi McEvoy, Duggan Harman and the Superintendent.
Most of the meeting was about the legislative agenda for each group.
The overwhelming talk was of McCleary and its enactment. Basically it was stated that the McCleary decision said:
- not spending enough on K-12 education
- the way the dollars are received is structurally unsound
- the outcomes are not good enough to create good citizens and a sound economy
The final meeting for the legislative taskforce is Monday morning but no one is expecting any great news or outcomes. What was suggested is the levy swap PLUS a tax so that NO district loses money. Interesting idea (like a bottling tax or something).
However, it was suggested that to make a tax palatable to Republicans that there would have to be real and direct measures for state intervention for schools that are persistently underperforming.
LEV's person said that the ruling on 1053 is due and they believe they will win.
I did some Tweets (follow me @WestbrookMel) but here's a general roundup:
- Mayor McGinn was there for about half the meeting but left to make a statement on the school shootings today in Conn. It was a sober note to open on.
- Duggan Harman, in talking about the SPS Legislative agenda, said that adjustments to state building formulas need changes. The State seems to think SPS has capacity for 83K students and he said they are having trouble fitting 50K. He said SPS has "portable farms." They would also like to see a rise in the per sq foot funding from $189 to $250 (I need to check the latter number as he might have said $205 but I don't think $6 a sq foot would help. He noted they are still seeking - with OSPI blessing - money for a Skills Center for the south end. One interesting note on the academic side is that a review of the LAP funding shows no real results and SPS generally agrees.
- UW, speaking for higher ed, mentioned trying to get the Legislature to see the bigger picture of Pre-K to higher education rather than just focusing on the McCleary decision. (You could take that a couple of ways but with the cuts to higher ed, I'm sure they don't like seeing all the dollars that might flow just to K-12.)
- For community colleges, it's how the tuition impacts their students who can't even think beyond the CC years.
- The Chamber of Commerce person distributed a handout detailing their leg concerns over transportation, "advance critical education reforms and funding" and improving the business climate. Under "ed reform?" "Provide a voice for business on the implementation of charter schools in Washington State."
- King County had a bit of good news. Their revenues are slightly up and they want to invest in early education. They want to work with several districts including SPS.
- Pegi McEvoy ran through BEX which included this notation (but she didn't mention it in the slightest until I brought it up) - "planning for a downtown school". * I asked about this and she said it wasn't on the map list because it "wasn't a structure." I asked her - pointblank - if there was to be a downtown school opening for school year 2013-2014 and she said no.
I had been quite surprised to read this and asked Ms. McEvoy via e-mail about it. She hadn't gotten back to me so I asked her at this meeting since it again is on BEX IV.
I have to wonder if BEX IV passes, then magically room will be found at a downtown location (but only for a short period of time, mind you) and the district will HAVE to take them up on it. We will then divert BEX IV money to fix up whatever that space is (plus the time and effort to organize it) and voila! a downtown school for 2013-2014.
That's what my Spidey sense is telling me.