He starts by explaining that in mid-November, the Board had been informed about the budget deficit. He says it's the biggest one the district has ever experienced and could not be solved by McCleary.
The SPS’s financial staff advice to the board was clear: Using the Strategic Plan as a touchstone, the board must commit to exercise financial discipline in order to manage current and future expenses. Otherwise, projected teacher layoffs and program cuts would be catastrophic in our classrooms and schools.Now I stop here to interject that when the district had this so-called "underspend" last year of $11M, staff could not find enough ways to spend it. To his credit, Director Blanford had wanted to not spend all of it. And, staff has continually thanked the Board for allotted the bulk of that money towards Strategic Plan initiatives.
He goes on to complain about the $1M voted in by the Board majority for transportation costs for grandfathering.
He doesn't explain that the overwhelming majority of the deficit is due to the levy cliff? That makes it sound like the district/Board are terrible managers of the public's money. He doesn't help the public understand that action needs to be taken to prevent this from happening. No, he says nothing about that.
He goes onto describe the Board meeting where the Growth Boundaries were voted on.
Afterwards, we moved to the business portion of the evening, hearing from a long line of angry parents clamoring for special treatment of their children’s schools with revisions to the Growth Boundaries Plan. Various members of the board, acceding to their demands, then put forward 12 separate amendments to the staff-generated plan. Not one of these amendments addressed conditions at any of our South End schools or clearly articulated the financial costs of implementation. And the amendments did not provide any cost savings, or even remain budget neutral.I'm not sure that it's "special treatment" for parents to want their child to be able to finish school where he/she started. And, that many of those parents clearly spoke for parents who could not attend or did not have the ability to advocate for their own child. Anyone watching that meeting would not say it was a bunch of NIMBY parents.
As for not addressing conditions at South End schools, I can only say that what was being discussed and voted on that night were growth boundaries for mostly the north end as that is where the majority of change would happen.
As for the costs, well, staff didn't put forth any amounts for how much it would cost to move 800 kids around from one school to another so how would anyone know the real costs versus savings?
He went on to explain how big budget cuts would likely hurt students of color most of all. I think we could all agree on that. That newer teachers get laid off before more senior teachers.
But then he veers off into an attack on the rest of the Board and their motivations.
Secondly, based on recent history, I have come to believe that the school board that I serve on is not sufficiently oriented to or motivated by the need to eliminate the gap, in spite of the fact that the majority of students (53%) served by Seattle Public Schools are students of color. Obviously, not every student of color is in the gap – in fact, many students of color outperform their peers. But for those that don’t, there was very little outrage or even discussion when the board learned of our national ranking in a story that was reported back in May. I’ve frequently seen members of the board disregard advice from the staff and parents when it conflicts with the narrow interests of some of their constituents.Betty Patu, who has served far longer than anyone on the Board, doesn't know or isn't motivated to eliminate the gap for students of color. And Scott Pinkham, who is a Native American SPS parent, isn't motivated to close that gap? Not to mention all the rest of the directors who have stood up for students of color including voting for the Strategic Plan and its focus.
I would have to think that his assertion that the rest of the Board doesn't seem to care about children of color might just violate the standards that the Board has set up for themselves about how they interact with each other.
Why the lack of clear information to the public about the reasons for the deficit? Why no call on trying to get the Governor or the Legislature to extend the levy for another year when that would be the one real solution, not cuts?
My spidey radar tells me there is more here than meets the eye so my real question would be, how does this help the budget situation, Director Blanford?