Tuesday, December 01, 2015

New Seattle Schools Board Directors

A much larger than normal crowd for the oath of office for our four new board members. Quite the sight as compared to other years.  I see former Board director Irene Stewart here.

Fun fact: turns out that we have been inducting board members incorrectly for the last - what? - 10+ years.  Turns out the oath can only be given by a superintendent, judge, principal or assistant principal.  Other years, we have seen husbands, wives and even children give the oath.   Legal counsel John Cerqui looked up the law and figured it out.

That's why tomorrow - before the board meeting - Patu, Peters and Blanford will take their oath of office again.
Director Patu is our director of ceremonies for tonight.

Superintendent Nyland  is speaking.  He thanked the new board members for stepping up to the task and stepping up to help children.  He also thanked the continuing board members.

Scott Pinkham was given the oath first.  He had the head of the Duwamish tribe, Cecile Hanson, come forward with his family and witness him signing his official papers.

Rick Burke was next.  It's a short and sweet oath and the signing of the papers takes the most time. I'm looking forward to all the new members' remarks which come after everyone has taken the oath.

Jill Geary was third.  Geary was all smiles and brought two of her five children, her mom, her campaign manager and her husband.

Last was Leslie Harris, to big applause.  She was given the oath by Judge Faith Ireland.  Funny moment when the notary public asked for Harris' ID and Harris had to run to her seat to get her brand-new SPS ID.

Pinkham remarks
He greeted everyone in his native language, Nez Perce.  Looking forward to working with adults to help students.  He talked about the seven generations he wanted to honor- the three before, three after and the current one.  He thanked his opponent for his input on Special Ed, said he looked forward to working with the other three new directors and acknowledged the presence of  the three continuing directors.

He said he wanted to listen to communities and bring cultural awareness to the district.   He thanked  his wife and daughters and all the support he has received.  He mentioned what one daughter said at the last school board meeting, "Watch out, my dad is on the school board."

Burke remarks
He agreed with Pinkham on the honor of being elected.  Thanked all the people who supported his campaign and voted for him.  He singled out a few people - " Some people to thank and some to blame."  Big laugh.  He mentioned Kate Martin, Ted Nutting (Ballard high math teacher), Joanne Berett (sp - I'll check that), shout out to entire community.

To improve "we need to identify our problems, it won't be pretty but it has to be done."  He said he had been watching and learning from "triumphs and challenges" that they faced.

Biggest thanks to his wife, Linh Co.  (He said she was the best part of his Ballard High  experience - they were high school sweethearts.)

Hopeful that "drips of funding might turn to dribbles in the next 1,2,5, 10 years.  Talked about the No Child Left Behind legislation.  He spoke of our growing, prosperous city and said the district could ride the wave or face a wipeout.

He met with Superintendent and met senior staff and is enthused to work with them.  He, like Pinkham, talked about community-building.

Geary remarks
Thanked all her supporters, especially people she did not know before she ran, and who had faith in her.  Glad to learn from them about the needs of the district.

Thanked her husband especially for his sign-placement abilities.  Thanked her kids for their patience as well as her mom for being treasurer.  Her great campaign manager, Bailey Stobber, also got a shout-out.

She thanked the teachers for their support and was glad to support them as well.  She also acknowledged the three continuing directors and her new fellow board members.

Wants to be a voice for families.  Wants to hear from parents and public to help keep her on track especially around Special Education issues.

Harris remarks
Made a joke about always being at the end of the speaking line-up and how other new directors stole her best lines.  It is good to see a great sense of humor from these candidates.

Thanked her sister, Holly, her brother, Laird ("a Republican but still a rockstar").

She thanked the principals and school staffs for their hard work every day. She said she was here to work on their behalf.

"We can do and will do so, so, so much better.

She thanked her husband, Michael, and daughter, Monica.

She thanked the rabble-rousers who will likely find her "a hoot on the dais."  She thanked everyone for their honesty in helping her learn more but wants that circle of people who give her input to grow.  She made a joke about legislators going to jail if they don't fund McCleary.

She said senior staff and others at JSCEE have been welcoming and warm and said they would all be "a hell of a team" that would do great things.

She had a shout-out to Soup for Teachers and Kids Not Cuts for their work and called it "the start of something big."  She expressed concern for alternative education, special education, advanced learning but said equity was important for all children.  (She mentioned Pathfinder K-8 and Middle College High School.)


9 comments:

Carol Simmons said...

Dear Melissa,

Thank you for your report.

Sounds like a gala affair. Our Directors have the will and hopefully will have the support to correct the inequities in the District. There are so many promises that need to be kept.



mirmac1 said...

I hope that the board sets the tone from Day One on their expectations for Nyland's (and by extension his staff's) performances, processes, and transparency. This should not be interpreted as hostile, rather raising the level of professionalism of senior management at JSCEE. No more vague answers, incomplete briefings, secret budgets and processes.

Jill Geary said...

Melissa, You forgot to mention the shout out that I gave to you, and my expressed appreciation for the invaluable service you perform in keeping us up to date on what is happening in Seattle Public Schools. Thank you again and again.

Brian Duncan said...

Hear, hear, Director Geary (nice ring to that, congrats)! Melissa is a real hero in the Seattle Public Schools community. Full stop.

One may disagree with her, as I do on occasion, but she is unfailingly fair, generous, dedicated, and principled. Thank you Melissa, for maintaining this blog, and for bettering our community.

Brian in Ballard

Anonymous said...


Here, here MW!

I am so excited. I also like the fact the only big thing staff were able to sneak through was the raise (and is he donating it or not?) and extension. Now all we have to do is get a better representative for the central district and not one willing to follow the district's whim on preschools.

-Do it!

Anonymous said...

The staff also sneaked in a different math curricula for elementary schools. No idea why the former Board put up with that, since they helped choose Math in Focus a year earlier. I hope the new Board reinstates it and improves math in middle and high schools. It would be a great achievement and long overdue.

S parent

Anonymous said...

Awesome call out to MW - and I love that Director Geary chimed in here!

- B

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wasn't trying to transcribe everything verbatim so I included the most important thanks but yes, several of the directors thanked me. I was grateful for the acknowledgment.

I would add that all of the new members said they had met with senior staff and were glad to so and looked forward to the work ahead. I think the Board retreat on Saturday will be an interesting first open discussion among the newly-formed Board and the senior staff.

Anonymous said...

******Fun fact: turns out that we have been inducting board members incorrectly for the last - what? - 10+ years. Turns out the oath can only be given by a superintendent, judge, principal or assistant principal. Other years, we have seen husbands, wives and even children give the oath. Legal counsel John Cerqui looked up the law and figured it out.******

Hmmmm...... must be WAC or RCW out there that can be used to role back all the voting that was done for the past ten years by the "VOID" board members and get this District started in the right direction.


Rocky