Thursday, November 19, 2015

Post Board Meeting After-Thoughts

A few thoughts after that long Board meeting (and I even left after the Action items so good for everyone who stayed until the bitter end.)

- I hope future Boards will realize that when you have a huge agenda with contentious issues, it might be important to scale back where you can.  I think there were some things at last night's Board meeting that could have been streamlined (see Superintendent's remarks) or done partially elsewhere (part of the honoring of Board members could have been done at a district party.)

I say this not just for the audience but for the Board and staff themselves.  What a long day for them and you could tell that Board members were getting tired.  Who can blame them?

- There also has to be some updating to the policy for Board testimony and conduct of the public.  I have noticed that there are a couple of people who are now consistently going over their 2 minutes...by a lot.  Last night President Carr had to tell at least four people - more than twice- to wrap up their comments.  To me, that means finish your sentence.  Nope, these speakers just continued on.

I note that other public entities, like the City Council, have a way to make the mic go dead.  I'd like to not have it come to that but, if the rest of us tailor our words to the 2-minute minimum, then everyone else has to.  No one's testimony is more important than anyone else's in terms of time.

If we all did that, how long would the Board meetings be?

As well, there are some people who feel they can speak out publicly during the course of the meeting.  Just randomly standing up and speaking.  One guy did this to Betty Patu last night over her remarks about the African-American Academy.  He wasn't obnoxious about it but I involuntarily let out a "hey" from across the room.  (I thought it felt a little like bullying from my viewpoint.) I was wrong, as well, but again, the point is that if everyone decides to talk to the Board from the audience, what does that do to the meeting?

I'll also point out the effective use of color (29 little kids in neon yellow shirts can't be missed) and a large number of signs.  I think that's a good way to show the Board your feelings without extending the meeting nor disrespecting the Board.

Also, cookies at the break from audience members - ALWAYS good.

- I also wonder about that August 15th waitlist date.  Was that appeasement to parents when staff really are just going to go with May 31st and then not work to move anyone else still on the list after that date?  Some of the less-than-clear statements from Dr. Herndon and Ms. Davies make me wonder.

- I hope parents do continue to pressure the district over reviewing Transportation and sticking up for those Tier Three schools.  Again, I wish when parents offer suggestions (like "what about more community bus stops so that buses don't have to go so far" or "what about parents paying for bus service") that staff would not brush them off but clearly explain why they might not work.  Again, piloting some ideas might be a good way to truly find out.

Also to point out, there is an Operations Committee meeting today.  Here's the agenda.  But there is also a new COW (Committee of the Whole) Executive Committee meeting.  

The Operations Committee meeting looks to be short but has a couple of interesting items:

Certifying Unavailability of Suitable Unused or Underutilized School Facilities in Contiguous District 


Per Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 392-341-080 Seattle Public Schools must submit the following to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to retain eligibility for state funding assistance for new construction:
  • -  A copy of the District Study & Survey;
  • -  A board resolution certifying no suitable space is available in any contiguous district. 

    Resolution (partial):


    WHEREAS, Seattle School District No. 1 intends to apply for common school construction funds (state matching money) for Arbor Heights, Bagley, Cascadia, Cedar Park, Genesee Hill, Loyal Heights, Olympic Hills, and Wing Luke Elementary Schools; Hazel Wolf K-8 School; Robert Eagle Staff and Meany Middle Schools; Seattle World School, and Lincoln High School; and


    To complete the Study & Survey, OSPI requested Capital Projects Planning staff contact their counterparts in the four districts contiguous to Seattle Public Schools – Shoreline, Highline, Tukwila and Renton – via email, within the context of Washington Administrative Code 392- 341-080- regarding status of suitable school space available for use by Seattle Public Schools. All four contiguous districts returned responses indicating “no suitable space was available”.
As well, it appears that the district is going into the building contingency money for Olympic Hills to the tune of about $3M.  Some is for things like street improvements and groundwater issues they say they didn't anticipate but that's odd because several of the items HAD been pointed out by the public.  

The other $2M+ is for the General Contractor/Contract Management budget.

The COW for Executive Committee has a conflicting time with Operations (so how the entire Board can be at the COW meeting when the Operations meeting is happening at the same time is unclear.)  The agenda is just the Board's self-evaluation (and it seems an odd time to do this with exiting Board members nearly out the door to other things) and review of the next Board meeting (which will be the first meeting for the new Board members.)

It's a bit odd because the majority of the meeting is for self-evaluation with just five minutes allotted to the agenda for the Dec. 2nd Board meeting.  I've never seen a board agenda gone thru in five minutes. 

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish all the Directors would check themselves on their comments on items. Not everyone has to speak to every item, and as much as I respect Sue Peters, she took what seemed like forever to list out every little thing about the Superintendent during his contract vote. I think they all could use some lessons on brevity and speaking concisely.

Tired

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tired, I think there was a method to Peters' speaking. I think she wanted to call out everything so people could compare and contrast and also to not allow other Board members to make it sound like everything is working well under the Superintendent.

mirmac1 said...

Peters is pretty much the ONLY Director who says it like it is. I can listen to her for hours.

n said...

I agree. If you have a board member paying attention to details and lighting them, that's a good thing. There's a difference between specificity and the soapbox