I write to you with both a heavy and joyful
heart. Heavy because there is so much frustration and sadness in our
district this early in the school year. Not because of the teachers
strike but because of the staff cuts at a large number of schools.
I am joyful because enough parents are now ready and willing.
I am joyful because, unbidden by me or anyone else, they have risen up
to act. I am joyful because they have decided that being nice, playing
along and raising money for this district is no longer going to be the
status quo for them.
They feel insulted that they are
expected to pay for basic education for their child when they are
already paying into the system. Now before you say McCleary, let me
point out a couple of things to you.
1) It is absolutely true
that this state has been starving (to use a parent phrase I heard today)
our public education system. One meal will not resuscitate nor sustain
someone who is starving.
2) BUT our district is very cagey with
how much money it has AND how it is spent. There is NOT transparency in
the dollars. It does not seem to matter a whit to senior management.
It is hurting the relationship that this district has with its parents
and a day (or more) of reckoning is coming.
3) That there has
been more hiring in central administration AND raises to senior
management is not good in the face of these cuts. Honestly, no one
believes the sliver on the budget pie chart for administration simply
because it doesn't include BOTH central office AND central
4) Neither you, as a Board, nor the district has
been clear to parents on the dire situation our district faces. With
not-fully-funded education, our district needs to treat parents as
adults, not children.
- Maintenance. Not
happening and we all know it. You asked taxpayers for hundreds of
millions of dollars for new and renovated buildings that you will not
maintain. And that backlog of maintenance? Please do not believe nor
repeated that tired statement that the BEX (whichever one is current) is
cutting it because the problem is that you may retire some backlog but
it just continues to grow between under-maintaining new buildings and
the terrible aging process on our old buildings. The backlog is NOT
- The district moved $39M from the Capital budget to the General Fund this year.
In the BAR, one sum (about $15M) was moved to the General Fund with no
explanation of how it was to be used. None of you - to the best of my
memory - asked. Another sum (about $10M) was to be used for capital
issues related to capacity management which kind of begs the question,
"if it's a capital use, why didn't it stay in the Capital Budget?" The
last amount? There was never any explanation of what it was to be used
Please ask the district to publish - in detail - what each
amount was used for. If they don't, then parents have the right to be
angry and suspicious.
- President Carr said at the Board meeting
that yes, it was sad these cuts were happening and that some money had
to go to pay for fulfilling the OSPI Sped issues. That's true but see, if our district was in compliance, money would NOT be going out the door for lawsuits and compliance issues. That's on senior management. Why is no one being called out for costing the district dollars it cannot afford to lose?
Former Superintendent Olchefske is the gift that just keeps on giving.
Not only did he run the district into the ground about $30M (most of
which was never explained) but he brought us JSCEE. I'm pretty
sure that General Stanford, the law-and-order guy that he was, would
roll over in his grave if he saw what his name was on today and the
terrible cost to our district.
So there is a payment - in full - of $17M on the bonds for JSCEE that has to be paid in 2017.
the BTA levy team has been out at the community meetings but, at the
most recent A&F meeting, it was revealed that from here on out, all BTA/BEXs will have some portion of money to pay for JSCEE.
Could the district give us a FULL accounting of where we are now and
where we will be after that payment and, of course, where the money will
come from for that payment?
- Seattle Teacher Residency,
also a gift that keeps on giving. Because the Alliance, according to
the Superintendent at the last Executive Committee meeting, didn't even
return a call from HIM. Is the Alliance still a partner on this or is
the district going to be left holding the bag? If so, shut it down.
It's in the earliest years and yes, there are better things to spend the
- Not charging rent to any group for long-term uses of SPS classrooms. The district can no longer afford this. Paying for utilities and custodial services is not enough. I note that Cashel Toner mentioned that both the
City-enrolled pre-k classrooms were severely underenolled and note that
"we tried to help them." Was the district reimbursed for that service?
My fear is that, in the name of this new partnership, that the City is not paying its way for ITS program.
I said, parents are now rising up. That whole Soup for Teachers
group? None of the usual suspects there and I had nothing to do with
it. The newest group rising up against these staff cuts? A new and
young flock of parents.
Parents are tired. They want to send their children to schools where the building is clean and safe and not overcrowded. They want to fund enhancements for their children, not maintenance and staff. They do not want to see the "talk to the hand" attitude at Central and the seeming indifference to their pain and concern.
should understand - these are savvy, smart parents who see the writing
on the wall. They will take new measures to get the district's
For the majority of you leaving/up for reelection,
is this the legacy you want to leave as you walk out the door? A
district where parents don't trust the Board OR senior staff? An
disliked district that is fighting both a City and a County levy measure
on the November ballot when its own levies come due in Feb.?
Is your legacy to be the Board that so ignored parents that parents stiffened their resolve to not create change but force it?
not a religious person but I was raised with religion. I know from the
Bible that as you sow, so you reap. And if you sow the wind, you may
reap the whirlwind.
Seattle Schools Community Forum Blog