Friday, October 30, 2015

BTA IV and Operations Levies Public Comment

Not so many comments but a lot of QAE parents coming in support of Principal David Elliott.  Several of them did manage to speak on QAE via BTA IV and thought acquitted themselves quite nicely.
One mom, Jennifer, said that she had talked to Greg Wong about what to do about the lack of accountability in the district when other avenues have been exhausted.  He said that you keep the district accountable thru Board votes.  Well, if that's true then we should be voting for Board members who DO keep the Superintendent and staff accountable and that is just not happening now.

But really, that's a two-year cycle and won't create systemic change that needs to happen.

Mr. Wong, as the President of Schools First, the district group that pushes school levies, and said that he was surprised to hear himself quoted but that Jennifer had asked permission. (Note to Mr. Wong - she didn't need your permission.)  He said the Board's message on the BTA IV levy is that
1) the vast majority of projects are on-time and on-budget.  Yes, that's true but are those budgets done correctly?
2) that the staff made their considerations for the list based on "objective analysis."  Kind of true.  I'm not sure staff push for one project over another because they like one school better.  But do I think they have a rational reason for picking every single project?  I do not.

District watcher Chris Jackins had a number of issues including the issue of sports fields being made of grass over plastic.  There has been a lot in the news on this issue lately and I'll have a separate thread on that.

Kim McCormick expressed her deep worry over Cedar Park and John Rogers.  Kim is a very knowledgeable SPS parent on facilities and I'm going to be using some of her research for the Cedar Park thread.

Chandra Hampson, PTA prez at Sand Point, pointed out that there just doesn't seem to be enough ways for parents to give input on the district.  She said that people generally don't want to vote against levies.  And she echoed a statement that many of us have said for years - there are so many bright, capable parents out there with great skill sets that they would love to bring and use for the greater good of SPS.  Crickets from the district.

Here's my testimony:


Good afternoon.

One, this public comment meeting had just been announced about a week ago. That is not enough notice.

Two, there is no documentation linked to this public comment meeting. None. I put it up at my blog – you’re welcome – but there are no links for the public.

Three, there is NEW information in here that was NOT noted at any of the community meetings. Namely, rearranging funds to help pay off bonds in this building.

Look, we all understand that virtually no one working here today was around when this disasterous decision was made to buy these bonds.

The district – rather than taking the John Stanford method (and the building is named after him) – of laying out the problem, in detail and then rallying the troops with “we’re all in this together” – has sought to hide this problem.

Why can’t we be told – why can’t the A&F committee be told – what the original bond costs were, how much has been paid so far, how much needs to be paid, where those funds will come from and when does it end?

Four, why is there so much in there for management? You don’t need an outside general management team for every single project. That is NOT cost-efficient.

Five, here’s the public comments list thru September 2015, with a column that says, “ Projects included on BTA IV nomination list.” Know how many checks in that column? Just one for athletic fields. What was the point to nominate if staff was going to ignore all the nominations?

Six, please rename BTA to BEX, Jr. (or Baby BEX) because that’s what it has turned into. Because less and less maintenance – big and small is being done on our buildings and to say the district is making the backlogged maintenance list smaller is a lie. A bold-faced lie because while you may upgrade some schools, the vast majority are getting no maintenance. That means the backlog just chugs along. 



And what about Cedar Park?  It's okay for an interim but that building cannot hold or support large numbers of children.  It has been gerrymandered to include F/RL kids from Olympic Hills and John Rogers.  And, there will be a geo-split with some kids staying in the unpleasant building and some going to a brand-new building.


Plus, if you put half of APP North in the new Olympic Hills and then the other half go to a new building at Wilson-Pacific, how will that all look?

You have a lot of parents upset with the district, for various reasons. As a long-time advocate and watcher of this district what I find different is how much younger the parents are who are speaking out. It’s not the high school parents that you normally see – the older, more jaded parents. Nope, it’s the fired up younger ones. That's a problem.

I personally cannot vote for BTA IV on the basis of Cedar Park alone. And if it loses, it will be on your watch, not the next Board’s.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Melissa! That's all right on target.

I agree with all that you said, and just sent an email to the board and to the district levy email (capitallevy2016@seattleschools.org)with the same sentiments.

-Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

When does the next board officially start?

- Interested

Watching said...

The district will be asking the board to vote on enormous changes to the Student Assignment plan, this week.

These changes should be incorporated into levy discussions.


http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/15-16agendas/110415agenda/20151104_Action_Report_Student_Assign_Plan_Packet.pdf

Anonymous said...

One significant change to the Student Assignment Plan is the loss of guaranteed grandfathered assignments to students affected by boundary changes. According to the SAP up for Board approval, grandfathering will be on an "if available" basis.

No grandfathering "available" = geo-splits

-North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interested, the new board members are normally sworn into office in early December. The date isn't on the calendar yet but the swearing-in is usually its own separate event.