Monday, November 09, 2015

A Vote of No Confidence in Nyland Coming?

I haven't raised this idea but others have.

My analysis of the situation is below but here's what made me a "vote of no-confidence" believer; it's a quote from a story that KIRO radio did about the State of the District speech.

He also defended his salary. 

"My raise is not going to solve anywhere near any of the issues that we have on the table," he said. "I have done better than anybody else. I'm gonna take the smallest raise in the district, as far as I know.

Sadly, he didn't explain why he deserves a raise.

The raise is about $13K+.  He is offering to donate half of it back to the General Fund for this year.

I can only gently say that $13,000 won't solve big issues but let's start a list of how it could help (because for some groups/schools, that money is a big deal.)

- fund more ORCA cards at RBHS - I am still waiting on the data from SPS about how many students it would involve and the costs.  Frankly, I'm a little tired of waiting to find these answers.  And, given Director Patu is working with the City to figure this out, that $13K might actually go a long way.

- help fund a new playground for one of our elementaries

- help fund ASB at one of the high schools that has the least revenue from vending machines

- help fund clothing, supplies, etc. for the homeless students of our district

I'm sure all of you could think of something equally as important.

I'm just saying that, for this time and place, and given his performance, a raise for Superintendent Nyland is neither deserved nor advisable.


It's a sad thing because, initially, I was pretty happy about Superintendent Nyland as a great pick for interim.  The Board didn't go to senior management (whew) and Nyland was a seasoned administrator.  I remember telling Sharon Peaslee, who was Board president at the time, that they had done a great job.

He's a nice guy, very cheerful. 

He was semi-retired at the time (he is involved in a consulting business, Learning Unlimited.)  He said (it was either when he came on as interim or came on as permanent - I'd have to check my notes) that he did NOT want to stay permanently.  That he had mostly retired and his wife wanted it that way.  Someone apparently changed their mind.

But then, the Board decided to install him permanently, right before Thanksgiving.  No real notice, just "the new guy is staying."  On the campaign trail, I recall Director McLaren saying , when asked about this issue, that he had been working with the Board for a couple of months and they were all impressed.  A couple of months.  What she seems to have missed is that one element of whether a superintendent is working out is his relationship with parents, teachers and the public.  A couple of months didn't cut it for that group.

At least Susan Enfield was a known entity before she left after not being installed as permanent superintendent. 

At his first Board meeting as permanent superintendent, I welcomed the Superintendent.  I told him that there were a lot of people - not just the Alliance or others up the food chain - but parents and community who wanted to roll up their sleeves and help.  I told him he could be a figurehead, a follower or a leader and I hoped he would be a leader.

As someone who had been in the trenches in running a district, I thought he might come in and look around and ask, "Wait, what?" about how SPS runs.  I thought he might take senior management aside and tell them that their initiatives were good but that, basically, the trains aren't running on time and if the district doesn't run well, nothing else will follow.

That hasn't happened.  I was hoping at his second State of the District speech that we would hear more from HIM, what he was going to want to see in the district.  Instead, it sounded a lot like parroting what other people wrote.  His own most significant accomplishment in almost 18 months of employment is that he has visited every school in the district.  That's great but that's not bringing vision to the district.

He managed to negotiate himself quite a nice contract and that includes a yearly review.  Which is where we are at today.

Our district - which patiently waits for McCleary money, which underfunds maintenance, which has growing capacity issues, which has staffing issues - is able to offer him a 5% raise.  This, in addition, to a year's extension on his contract.

There has not been one document or explanation to the public why he should get this raise.  I guess the Board is waiting until the vote which is heck of a late time to be giving an explanation.

The Board should say no to this and if they don't, I would support a push for a vote of no confidence on behalf of parents.  If the teachers wanted to join in, great, but that's their separate call. 


Anonymous said...

Wow. He really said this??? "I have done better than anybody else."

I can't help thinking about the parent who so passionately testified at the last Board meeting about the dismal conditions of her child's school. I'm blanking out on which school but it was so sad and moving....While the maintenance backlog started long before Dr. Nyland joined SPS, that is one small thing he could have focused on (or donated ALL of his raise to).

Sadly, I think every parent in the district could vote "no confidence" for the Supe and this Board might well still give him the extension/raise. I have come to the depressing conclusion of late that the public doesn't matter anymore at any level of Seattle gov't.

But it's an intriguing idea...


Anonymous said...

I think Nyland has, but that's because the last 4 did nothing.

eyes closed

Anonymous said...

The school was John Rogers I believe. It was sad and shocking to hear what conditions their school is operating under. If you want to watch the school board meetings online, they are posted on YouTube. Search for Seattle School Board Meetings. The public testimonies are usually found in Part 1 of the meetings. It's a great way to see what issues are affecting our schools.


ConcernedSPSParent said...

Does Nyland respond to parents' emails? - I've had no luck. Also how did that 100 days initiative turn out?.

Anonymous said...

Thanks BT - yes you are right, it was John Rogers. I'm not someplace can watch the video but she was sooo terribly impassioned that it stuck in my head. That the kind of horrors she described are allowed to continue at ANY school is, in my mind, a direct failure for the Supe. And therefore, he's undeserving of a raise of any amount. Ever.

Classrooms first.


Anonymous said...

Keep in mind, our current board was elected by mostly the same people that voted in last weeks election. I would say that people are in for a big disappointment if they expect the next board to produce any quick miracles.

Remember what Rick Burke said at the QA forum, "SPS worked great for me and my kids, now I want to make that happen for other peoples kids." and "Time to get back to learning".

Of all the newly elected members, it's Burke who I think will be the biggest disappointment. He just has no grasp of the spectrum of problems parents are facing and believes Nyland has "fixed" special ed. I think Harris will try and give him a quick education, but will he get it?

It's easier to fool a person then to convince them they are fools.


Anonymous said...

What about the ongoing train wreck of SPED at Stevens? You'd think that Nyland or at least Tolley would be being held accountable. All these tiers of managers just serve to insulate those who are ultimately responsible from enacting any responsibility. I think that Nyland is burnt out and bored. He couldn't be more apathetic. Could he?

No raise

Anonymous said...

No raise,

The issues at Stevens where repeatedly brought up at the NW OSPI special education meeting. The OSPI and PSED representatives in attendance could not have cared less.

In light of Stevens failures, OSPI has upgraded SPS from level 3 to level 2...WTF!

Someone needs to request via public disclosure OSPI's and PSED's notes and parent survey data. Only the 3 Delphi plants had anything good to say about SPS SPED.

SPED Parent

Maureen said...

Was the reason for Ron English's "retirement" ever daylighted? Is Nyland complicit in that?

Eric B said...

Does the title of the thread mean "We'd like to have a vote of no confidence," "I think a vote of no confidence is coming," "The vote on the salary could be a vote of no confidence," or something else?

I'm slightly confused because the title indicates a vote is coming, but I don't know of one in the offing. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The job of SPS is to teach children effectively. Burke gets that they are way off track there, especially in math.

If he can just do better curricula, that will be something past boards have failed in. The new elementary textbooks looked great until the staff derailed them.

The physical state of the schools is another area of concern. Too bad some of that roads windfall cannot go to school infrastructure.

S parent

Anonymous said...

Sped parent, if this is true: "The issues at Stevens where repeatedly brought up at the NW OSPI special education meeting. The OSPI and PSED representatives in attendance could not have cared less" then the School Board (incoming) should be notified. Have you done that? Does the Special Education PTSA board know about this? Sure would be an antidote to all the "everything is coming up roses" information being spouted by Nyland and the rest. So much for checks and balances. This board wouldn't even bother to ask, right? When is the last time this board sought out parents for a reality check on what they're hearing about SPED? Or teachers?


dj said...

My five-year-old lost his kindergarten teacher and got "reorganized" into a new, bigger class in October. Bang up job, Nyland.

Anonymous said...

Does the Special Education PTSA board know about this?

The more important question is, why didn't any representative from SPED PTSA show for the meeting?

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

dj, you should organize a parent protest and email all the new incoming board members. Remember, they promised to fix everything.

Let's get back to fixin!


Lynn said...

Melissa, Is there anyway of starting a wish list for different schools for the holidays maybe? Perhaps some of the schools that are better off can run clothing drives for homeless kids in other schools, or we can help with classroom needs. Every classroom in every school needs something, but I would sure love my kid to work to help out kids in our city who have far less than we do. If we are getting such a small amount of money back from Nyland, let that go to help a school that desperately needs it like John Rodgers or Rainier Beach.

--the other Lynn :)

Anonymous said...

SPED Parent - find out who is on the board - it is likely that none are in the NW region so couldn't attend? Still, why wasn't there a system to report out.

another reader

GarfieldMom said...

Lynn, I know that Soup for Teachers is working on a project to get more books for schools. They are also running a survey right now for school staff and involved parents to fill out with information about what their schools and programs need. If you are a teacher or staff member at a school, or a parent involved in a program at a school/part of the PTSA, etc., please fill out the survey and pass it along to others who should be heard from also.

Soup for Teachers Survey on Educator/School Needs

Also, Rainier Beach HS is currently in need of donations so that they can provide a Thanksgiving dinner to 100 needy families at their school. You can donate here:

Thanksgiving for RBHS Families

SF said...

Lynn, when my kid was at Whittier (many years ago) - we had a book drive and I believe a holiday drive for kids at Bailey-Gatzert. The book drive was great - kids were asked to bring new or gently used books to give to the B-G kids and we had lots donated. I seem to recall one of the Whittier teachers was dating a teacher at B-G. But your school could likely do something similar without that sort of relationship. :) At the time (again, several years ago) the elementary schools with the highest FRL percentage were B-G, West Seattle and I think Hawthorne. Maybe contact the PTA at one of these (or other schools w/high FRL) and see if they would be amenable to something like that? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Whittier holds 3 "drives" for Bailey-Gatzert ... school supplies, holiday gifts, and books. SF ... I've never heard that "dish" before. I always thought it was b/c Whittier's principal (Greg Imel) moved to BG. :)

Since Greg Imel left, Whittier's principal has changed every 2-3 years.


Melissa Westbrook said...

RE: new Board members "Remember, they promised to fix everything." No, they didn't. Also, and for the last time, do NOT use my initials in any part of your name/moniker.

Other Lynn, I had been thinking of this as I saw there was a GoFundMe for Thanksgiving dinners for RBHS families.

Yes, when Imel moved to Dunlap first (then B-G), there was an effort from the Whittier community to support him. I am sorry about the continuing turnover at Whittier.

GarfieldMom said...

I can't be the only one who has heard more than one teacher express a readiness for a vote of no-confidence? The sentiment is out there...whether it will build to action is probably dependent on whether Nyland pivots from the adversarial stance he has taken with respect to teachers or not.

SF said...

PTA mum, I was there during the Coberly and MacMillian administrations, then Julie Briedenbach at the very end of my child's Whittier experience. She just graduated in June.

Anyway, sorry to get off topic. I would think the superintendent should not be given a raise just on matters of principle. The district seems to be always talking about how they have no money. Sorry, no elementary counselors, or high school career counselors, sorry, no class size reduction, etc etc. It's austerity measures time, and the sup does not need nor does he deserve a pay increase, period.

kellie said...

Here is a link to some salary comps that compares the salary for the Governor of Washington with a few public managerial positions in the state.

Here is a link to other education salaries in Washington.

Clearly, when Seattle changes the comp plan for superintendents with MGJ, there was some major changes in compensation at many districts.

Anonymous said...

I'm more concerned about extending his contract than giving him a raise. Why do we need him for 2 1/2 more years? Surely 1 1/2 yrs is plenty of time to find a new Supt. The dashboard suggests we are NOT on track, so let's start looking for a new leader sooner rather than later.


Watching said...

"The physical state of the schools is another area of concern. Too bad some of that roads windfall cannot go to school infrastructure."

The city collected $5M from cameras and those going beyond speed limit in school zones. The city will be adding $800K each year to improve walk to school routes.

Sanislo elementary will be one of the first schools to see improvement.

dj said...

"dj, you should organize a parent protest and email all the new incoming board members. Remember, they promised to fix everything.

Let's get back to fixin!


That sounds like a excellent idea. Has someone compiled the new members' email addresses? I will do it myself if not.

Juana said...

With homeless kids and adults in Seattle, I don't understand why someone who makes $250K+ needs a raise. If he has done a good job, aren't there other avenues to praise, thank or congratulate him besides more money? I doubt that he is starving.

n said...

He's done better than anyone else? Is that really true?

Squirrels: a few squirrels' nests were padded by humans studying behavior. In a few weeks, the surrounding squirrels had all made their nests bigger. True story according to Thom Hartmann. Doesn't that sound like Kellie's comment about the districts all following suit with Seattle under MGJ? What Seattle giveth, Seattle can taketh away. The surrounding districts might even thank us.

Lynn said...

Thanks for all the great ideas everyone! I'm not a teacher, but will poke our PTSA. It might be worth trying some post-holiday drives as well. I know we always end up purging my kiddos closet after the holidays as she always gets things for Christmas that replace items which don't fit. It would be better to directly donate things to other schools rather than dropping everything at Goodwill.

-- the other Lynn :)

Ebenezer said...

Well, Nyland drove the teachers to strike. It's been 30 years since a Seaatle SD superintendent could say that. In that sense, Nyland is the worst of recent superintendents.

GarfieldMom said...

Kellie, do you have more info on this?

"Clearly, when Seattle changes the comp plan for superintendents with MGJ, there was some major changes in compensation at many districts. "

Spokesman-Review only goes back to the last year MGJ was here. Is there an easy source for compensation figures from before then? Or would I need to dig? What was notable about her compensation plan compared to prior to her being here? I am concerned about the salary inflation, not only because it causes salary inflation at other school districts in WA, but because raising the superintendent's salary gives a higher ceiling for compensation for the cabinet and other district admin. Salaries are of course bound to rise, but that process can and should be controlled and thoughtful, not a race-to-the-top of salary mountain.

HF said...
"I'm more concerned about extending his contract than giving him a raise. Why do we need him for 2 1/2 more years? Surely 1 1/2 yrs is plenty of time to find a new Supt. The dashboard suggests we are NOT on track, so let's start looking for a new leader sooner rather than later."

I don't understand extending his contract for a year, even if he was the second coming of John Stanford (he wishes). Research shows that it takes a minimum of five years for a superintendent to successfully implement changes, so if he isn't going to stick around for at least five years, then what good is it to increase his time at SPS from 2.5 years to 3.5 years? They need to give it more time to see if he can make some progress -- a year is not enough time to go off of -- and then offer him an extension if we want to keep going in the direction he's steering us.

Unless of course someone is thinking that there's an internal candidate who would step into the superintendent role when Nyland's contract expires and he goes back into retirement, someone who could be counted on to continue his plans... Maybe the thought is that they need an extra year to time that just right. I am sure there are some top administrators who would LOVE to make the jump up to superintendent in a couple of years.

Oh hey, adding a year would also make him the supe through the rest of the current strategic plan, so that a new superintendent would be coming in after a new strategic plan has already been drafted. I don't think it's a good idea to let a lame-duck superintendent and his staff be the ones to craft a new strategic plan for an as-yet-unidentified new supe, but it the new supe were going to be an internal hire, it would make more sense. Otherwise, you'd want to bring a new supe in before you write your new strategic plan, wouldn't you?

Curiouser and curiouser.

Anonymous said...

Please stop talking about internal candidates for Superintendent. You're scaring the children!


Ed said...

By bringing back several of Maria's cohorts, he hasn't even done as well as Enfield.

This is what you get from surrounding yourself with "yes-people". He actually thinks this sounds believable.

Smallest raise? There are hundreds of employees that received smaller raises but they don't have the opportunity to cry a river in public.

Non-reps get "market adjustments" every other year so state COLA is just the beginning.

Wanda said...

The state of the District has actually rarely worse than today. What has improved is the army of PR people engaged in selling "sizzle" as "steak".

Ed's right, this guy is delusional but quite practiced at it.

How soon can a "no confidence" vote be taken?

How about making it retroactive and we can pretend he never happened.

Anonymous said...

Be very careful what you wish for. A huge part of the SPS dysfunction are the silos created by turnover at the top that only strengthens the next layer. None of the assistant/associate sups was hired by Nyland nor most of the next layers (sheesh, there are a lot of layers), so no one has a parachute tied to him. Any new sup would surely take a year before any sort of cleaning house, so the silos would strengthen further. Add to this that we have a brand new board majority. I'd like them to get a little deeper into the work before they hire a new sup.


Ed said...

Knapp (Alliance croony) would never let any no confidence vote by teachers happen to his buddy Larry.

Jan said...

I have to say - I think Emile makes a lot of sense. Here is what I wish -- I wish the new board would come in and basically say to Mr. Nyland --

We (and District parents) are very unhappy with much of the District's management below you. We (and District parents) feel that the administration is bloated, inefficient, and oblivious to parent and school concerns. We are not getting program reports from your staff (like we are supposed to), and much of what we DO get is frankly untimely and insufficient. We want less PR and more substance. We want community engagement that actually engages with, and takes into account, the community and its feedback on problems.

Within the next 6 months, we want:
1. Downtown staffing streamlined by X percent (probably in dollars, not bodies).
2. Budgets and operational models that make it very clear what staff are actually school based (on site at schools, or seeing kids/in classrooms regularly) vs. all the rest of the district's administration ("coaches," etc. --
3. Active community engagement, and proof that it is being used in decision-making.
4. Confirmation that staff downtown are working -- full time -- on District priorities (including equal opportunity, SPED, etc.), rather than City priorities.
5. Engagement and movement NOW on the coming capacity problems with high schools.
6. A maintenance plan that begins to cut into the backlog of building maintenance.

We do NOT want:
1. More updates to the Source or the District website.
2. People siphoned off to work on (or secretly working on) City initiatives for preschools or Alliance initiatives for heaven-knows-what.
3. Additional high level hiring downtown (there are enough executive directors, deputy this's and that's, etc. to sink a battleship).
4. Changes to District adopted instructional materials (like the elementary math program) that require teachers to abandon district approved materials in favor of the flavor du jour of some curriculum pooh bah flying under radar).

If your staff is unwilling to get on board and work WITH families and school staff to address issues, or if they are unable to do so, we want you to replace them with folks who will. And we want quarterly reports on the status of this turnaround. Your next evaluation (and any raises) will be based upon moving the needle on these things.

Better this, I think, than someone new who comes in and needs a year to figure out where the problems are.

Anonymous said...

Ah Jan - you are such a dreamer ;o) An excellent list. I could not agree more Perhaps you should send it to the Board? What's there to lose.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually Jan, I think this will happen.

And people at the top can make a choice about what they want to do. Follow policy, be transparent and timely in info to both the board and parents and communicate more clearly.

That's it.

GarfieldMom said...

I'd love to see every certificated person at JSCEE spend one day a month as a substitute in a classroom for a day. Get them back in touch with the hands-on work that happens in the schools. Call it both community engagement and professional development. If there's no need for them as subs, let them be classroom volunteers, recess monitors, lunch monitors, etc.

Anonymous said...

Heck Starbucks makes their engineers spend a week every year as a barista, why can't SPS do something similar with JSCEE?


Patrick said...

GarfieldMom, but the administrators aren't qualified teachers. Would you want your kid having one of them as a sub, even for a day? No slur, administration and teaching are just different jobs.

Anonymous said...

But it would be interesting if every admin person had to volunteer a day at a school - shadow a teacher or an IA or whatever - see the real life consequences of some of their decisions. Unlikely to happen, but interesting concept


GarfieldMom said...

I'm suggesting those with teaching certification do actual subbing. Anyone else can shadow, or just volunteer for a day.