Thursday, October 08, 2015

Seattle Legislative Delegation Visits Board Meeting Last Night

A good, brief wrap-up from SCPTSA's Eden Mack:

Last night at the Seattle School Board meeting, Senators David Frockt, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Jamie Pedersen and Representative Gerry Pollet were there to receive recognition for securing $25 million for capital funding. 

I was there to ask that SPS make their legislative agenda more clearly state that fully funding per the court's orders was the #1 priority, and that they continue to advocate for funding the school buildings we desperately need. 

They all said in their remarks (essentially) that they know that this amount is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. 

Here is what David Frockt posted this AM on his Facebook page: 

 "We are very appreciative of the recognition. We worked hard, as a delegation, to lead this effort to secure up to $25 million in additional capital funds for Seattle Public Schools. But we know much more is needed. The reality is we have so much more to do on education funding.

 I was up at the "Senate Listening Tour" in Everett on Wednesday. I hope my colleagues were listening. 

Seattle voices came through loud and clear and they represent the position that our Seattle delegation has been fighting for since I served on the Joint Task Force on Education Funding three years ago. Full funding with new revenue (and hopefully tax reform) to fundamentally change our education financing structure in this state (not just shifting of funding sources) --- and substantial new investment in capital expansion to build out the classrooms we need and expand our teaching corps. I believe we now have nearly 53, 000 students in the Seattle system. We are bursting at the seams.

 The Court order must be respected and not defied any longer. Thank you Eden Mack for your leadership and great advocacy for the PTSA the other night in Everett and at the meeting downtown yesterday."

About that "Senate Listening Tour," the only one directly in our region is on Monday, October 19th in Renton from 5-7 pm. at the Puget Sound Educational Service District, 800 Oakesdale Ave SW, Renton.  Sadly, that is not a region well-served by bus service and, of course, 5pm is not a great time for anyone.

There is a 40-minute presentation and then public comment.  Apparently, at the Everett event, they said they would take any other citizen comments besides those from Seattle citizens first.

Their mission:

To get constructive input and technical assistance on how the State should meet its constitutional duty to provide a program of basic education to all students in the State.  

Kind of odd wording, no?


Watching said...

The Seattle Times covered this story. Here is what they had to say:

"Questions the lawmakers have for public input include:

Should the structure of local levies be changed?

How can the state ensure that local levies are not being used for basic education?

How long should the transition be? Immediate, two years, four years, six years, more?"

I have to wonder if this is a "listening tour", or an effort to get support for the levy swap.

The district has included funding for charter schools in the levy, as well.

Carol Simmons said...

There are so many issues.

Chris Jackins addressed many of them in his testimony at the School Board meeting. The Board must listen, pay attention and save our schools.

It took 30 years, but the current Board passed the Moratorium on Elementary School Suspensions for non violent offenses. They are to be congratulated.

Our Legislators who were thanked at the last Board meeting must champion full funding for education.

What is this about the "district has included funding for charter schools in the levy as well." posted by Watching. Please explain.

Will there be Indigenous Peoples day Assemblies in every school or only "artifacts in the Libraries and Showcases and "lunch time cultural activities?"

Will the School District Data Profile be resurrected? ( It was discontinued in 2012. At least the new Board Directors know now that it once existed, and the former Board members will have support for the Data Profile to be published again.)

So much to do and so little time Before the Times and the Reform folk take hold.

We can do it.

Anonymous said...

Remember just a couple years ago when Pegi McEvoy and co. told the Seattle delegation, who wanted to shovel a pile of $$$ to us via legislature to build more schools: No need to help...we've got it under control. ?

SPS is lucky Frockt and co. are lifting one finger to help us at this point. On behalf of the 50K+ students here, I hope the JSCEE crowd has learned to grovel to our state reps. They need to.


Rebecca said...

Watching -

I was at the Everett meeting and it was obvious that they really only wanted to get input on the proposed levy swap, and the 8 invited speakers from the Everett Service District (a mixture of superintendents, principals, school board directors, a PTA rep and a teacher's union rep) did answer those questions for the most part. However, the public testimony was very different.

The public testimony was almost all a variant on: you're not doing your job, the levy swap is insufficient/unfair, why are you trying to kick the can down the road yet again?, you need to fix this with tax reform, when are you going to do this? There was a lot of anger in the room - no shouting, but people were obviously angry and there to tell the senators how irate they are at the legislature's inaction. I think my most memorable moment was the person who told them words to the effect of "you're supposed to be leaders - but I wouldn't hold you up to my children as an example to be followed".

Over 40 people signed up to testify, so we were cut to 2 minutes each (from the original 3) and Senator Ann Rivers left on the dot of 7, when the meeting was scheduled to end, rather than stay to hear the rest of the testimony (which lasted almost another hour). Now, maybe she had commitments and I'm sure she had a long drive, but as a public servant if you're not prepared to stay to hear the public when they have come to talk to you, at your invitation, that's just obnoxious behavior.

In the end, we Seattlites were allowed to speak, though they kept us until last. As the largest contingent of people testifying who were speaking just as parents, I think that was quite powerful, having so many parents at the end, since most of the other speakers also wore another hat as a teacher or school administrator or school board director, or had retired from one of those roles.

Btw, if you want to join the new parent advocacy group for this issue, you can find us on Facebook at Washington's Paramount Duty.

Anonymous said...

Since the legislature went into three special sessions to try to avoid new revenue, I doubt the listening tours will change the impasse on revenue much. How does it play out? The legislature has to find 3.5 B in new revenue before July 1, 2016, which is basically the deadline to set it up for the 2018 court mandate.

Assuming the Republicans continue to logjam on revenue, there are only two paths, levy swap, or go to the supreme court for action next summer. What will the court do? Shut down school, where's the logic in that? How about shut down the non essential state government, or sequester 3.5 B of transportation funding.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I hope the Court will bring the hammer down. Jail them, shut it all down.

Most in the Legislature are not showing leadership and yet they have not shown leadership. They do not seem to fear or even care what the Court says.

Well, something has to give.

Brian Duncan said...

Another option to significantly raise revenue to fund McCleary would be an Initiative for major state tax reform that would close non-performing tax breaks, and substitute a combination of capital gains, progressive income tax, a revenue-positive carbon tax, for corresponding decreases in sales tax, property tax, and B&O tax, so that most voters understand that their net tax burden will go down, while tax burden on very wealthy will go up to better reflect their fair share. Running such an initiative in 2016, a presidential election year, will have far a better prospect than the failed income tax initiatives of the past, such as I-1098 that ran in an off year midterm election in 2010. For example:

Brian in Ballard

Anonymous said...

Should Seattle fund the east side of the state's education needs when that part of the state resists paying taxes in every other area of need? Should Seattle, which already sends revenue out to the rest of the state, for a net loss, have even more outflow for education? I don't think so. My family is prepared to pay more taxes for education, but only with a plan that asks for $$ skin in the game from all parts of the state. Otherwise, no. No way will we support 'levy equalization' as a solution.

Seattle Taxpayer

kellie said...

I attended that meeting that DistrictWatcher referenced with Senator Frockt and the district years ago.

I learned something very important that day. Most capacity related conversations are extremely ineffective because there is no shared understanding of what a "capacity problem" really means and who is accountable for solving that problem.

I also learned to have tremendous compassion for the complex position that capacity problems create for SPS staff. Public schools are the only organization that are required to "drop everything" in order to serve the students who are currently enrolled. As such, when SPS talks about capacity problems, they are mostly discussing the requirement to provide a seat for every student.

From that point of view, SPS, does have it handled. They have managed to get enough portables in the right place and move enough programs around so that every student who has enrolled at SPS has an assigned seat. That has been no-small-task and folks like Joe Wolf have done heroic work to get those seats in the right locations.

However, from the point of view of other constituents like students, parents, building staff, educators and legislators, when constituents talk about "capacity problems" we are generally talking about the profound negative impact that capacity problems cause for the actual work of educating students.

The issues of the work of education were very much at the core of the strike. It is certainly cheaper to pay teachers and specialists an overload fee, than to right size the buildings and classrooms. However, we all know that work of actually educating students suffers when teachers have over-loaded classes year-over-year.

When most constituents talk about capacity problems, they are mostly talking about how the work of education suffers when a building is spending substantial time doing crowd control and capacity management. One year, there was simply not enough chairs for the 40 students in my son's math class. As such the first 5 minutes of each class was spent shuffling students into chairs ...

In that meeting, I really got how profound the disconnect regarding "what is a capacity problem" is and how often that disconnect repeats in conversation after conversation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kellie, oh God yes, these people in Facilities and Capital do work hard. I see no slackers there. But they put out fires and little else.

I know they would like to do better.

I know they are doing the best with what they have.

"However, from the point of view of other constituents like students, parents, building staff, educators and legislators, when constituents talk about "capacity problems" we are generally talking about the profound negative impact that capacity problems cause for the actual work of educating students."

It's about the student learning experience and how to maximize it within the confines of public education funding.