Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tonight's School Board Meeting

Update:  Packed auditorium with SEA members with lobby nearly filled as well.

Kudos to Washington Middle School volunteers - big applause.

Following by big tension after Bernardo Ruiz finished his presentation on the annual Education and Racial Equity.  A man stood up and shouted at Bernardo to tell the truth about Middle College.  He wouldn't stop and President Carr said she would clear the room if need be.  He shouted, "*** you!" to the Board and left in a fury.

As for the transfers of money, I note that the presentation on the movement of money from the Capital Budget to Operations budget changed and asked Ken Gotsch about him.  He knew nothing and seemed confused.

I am VERY suspicious of what is going on with these dollars for the Interfund loan and the Operations and Capital budgets.

end of update

 Tonight's School Board meeting looks to have one of the longest agendas I have ever seen (and therefore, possibly one of the longest meetings ever seen).  There are 17 items on the Consent agenda (which means they will all be voted on at once, whew).

The Superintendent is also giving the annual Educational and Racial Equity report.

Unlike the last School Board meeting, this one is chock-full of speakers.  Many of them are around the Amplify contract for interim assessments, Middle College leaving the SW region and renaming Wilson-Pacific buildings

There is the vote for the settlement payment for a student who alleges he hurt his back weightlifting at Nathan Hale in 2011.  The payment will be for $325,000.  What is quite interesting about this case is that the student sued some boosters as well as the principal and the Nathan Hale High School Foundation (who likely oversee booster dollars).  (He later took the boosters and the Foundation out of the case.)

The Board is also voting on the Amplify contract (which I will be speaking on along with the SBAC resolution - see end of thread for my comments).  I am disappointed that staff did not - either with the Introduction of this item or the Action on this item provide the documentation they said they would.  I would vote against it on those grounds alone.

There are only five Action items which is good because they take the most discussion.  However, there are 27 Intro items.

What is very troubling about the Intro items is the one for the Resolution on the Operations and Capital budgets and the Interfund Loan from Capital Projects to General Fund. 

The amount on the Capital Projects budget goes down from $317,323,245 to $294,515,752.  That's about $22M.

  That $22M has about $14M going to the General Fund for what looks like....capital projects and about $8M to service the debt on JSCEE.

THEN, they move another $14.5M out of Capital projects for the General Fund use.

Here's what the Resolution says:


pursuant to RCW 28A.150.270 and WAC 392-121-445 320.330 the Board of Directors has been requested to approve operating transfers from the Capital Projects Fund up to the amount of $14,595,730 to the General Fund for certain major renovations, facilities repairs and technology-related expenditures; and to the Debt Service Fund up to the amount of $8,201,663 and Capital Projects Fund transfer up to the amount of $14,595,730 to the General Fund; and

Then, there's ALSO the Interfund loan for $35M.

But the BAR for the Interfund loan says, "Fiscal impact to this action will be a maximum of $35M in revenue..."



I'm confused.  It almost looks like the district is taking $22M from the Capital budget AND borrowing about $39M from BEX IV.  Weird.

My remarks to the Superintendent and Board:



Don’t close Middle College in the SW region; it serves at-risk kids in the best possible way.



To the Amplify contract and SBAC resolution. I’ll paraphrase what the Amplify item says about SBAC:



·      It’s not a transparent platform that can be customized.

·      Student scores are only reported at the general level, but not for specific standards and skills.

·      Teachers cannot view the test items.

·      Teachers cannot glean the depth of student understanding or knowledge or misconceptions.

·      To compensate for these limitations, Seattle Public Schools will use Amplify to develop formative and interim assessments

Our District isn’t buying Amplify for interim assessments – it’s buying it because the SBAC is so lacking.

The language around student data privacy has been changed for the better.  But I also note that that section of the contract says that the “Vendor’s Customer Privacy Policy would be attached.”  It isn’t  and it wasn’t in the original Intro item.  As a taxpayer, I resent not being able to fully vet what the district is buying.

To the Resolution on the Use of Smarter Balanced Assessments, I can only say, “Where have you been?”.  If you had had the courage of your convictions, like Directors Patu and Peters, you would have done this a long time ago.

There was no real public discussion at the state or district level on Common Core.  But now that there have been massive opt-outs and Superintendent Dorn wants to not use the SBAC test scores for a couple of years, NOW you speak up.  Most of the Board is VERY late to this party.  (Notwithstanding principals who try to punish students for opting out by denying them entrance to school carnivals, if you think parents opted their students out this year – wait for next year.)

The BAR says, “District scores are trending more positively than predicted…”  Really?  Because both the district and OSPI say that parents can’t see their students’ scores until nearly the beginning of the next school year.  So forgive parents who might say, “We’ll believe it when we see it.” 

I don’t think there’s much there to be proud of here.  Please say no to the Amplify contract.  We can do better.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What happened?

Momof2

Anonymous said...

Redshirt,

Your comment is creepy.
SERIOUSLY creepy.

Sped Staffer

seattle citizen said...

I agree with Sped Staffer, Redshirt. That is not appropriate, making such a comment anonymously in a public venue.