Sunday, April 14, 2019

Trouble/Change on the Horizon

Is it trouble or change that I see on the horizon?  


I plan on writing a longer thread about the direction of the District.  I see many dots that are starting to connect and I think it's troubling.  I expect after the State of the District speech by Superintendent Juneau (Tuesday, April 16th from 5:30-7:00 pm at Seattle Central Community College) that the picture may be even clearer.

But, in advance of that thread, here's some fairly big news - Lead Legal Counsel Noel Treat has left SPS.   Last time he left SPS was to manage Mercer Island city government but now?  He's gone to Strategies 360.  Who are they?
With offices in 12 Western states and Washington, D.C., Strategies 360 is the leading public affairs, communications, research, and marketing firm in the west. With experts drawn from the worlds of government, politics, the news media, quantitative and qualitative research, advertising, marketing and design, S360 crafts and executes the strategies that help clients. 
Strategies 360 also employs the former SPS Communications spokesperson, Lesley Rogers.  And, as well, former head of the League of Education Voters (and noted hothead), Chris Korsmo, is there, too.

I also note this from the Board agenda for this week's Wednesday Board meeting (bold theirs):
To consider the selection of a site or the acquisition of real estate by lease or purchase when public knowledge regarding such consideration would cause a likelihood of increased price and; to consider the minimum price at which real estate will be offered for sale or lease when public knowledge regarding such consideration would cause a likelihood of decreased price. This session will begin at the conclusion of the regular Board meeting and last approximately 30 minutes. 
 I'm trying hard to understand how the district - which cries poor at every turn - has the money to buy any kind of land.  I'd love to hear it's to lease property but I'm thinking it's probably a purchase.

Of course, paying for this would come out of Capital Funds, not General Funds.  But with the JSCEE bonds still (!) not paid off and many buildings needing fixes, it's hard to contemplate what could be this urgent. 

20 comments:

Eric B said...

It is too bad to see Noel Treat leaving the district.

This is 100% wild speculation, but what about a bus lot? The reason First Student has no real competition is that nobody else has a bus lot big enough. In theory, the transportation RFP could be written to request two prices, one using the transportation company's own lot, and one using the SPS lot. SPS would open the door to a lot of competition for that contract if all the bus company had to do was supply buses, drivers, and maintenance.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric B, that would make sense.

Anonymous said...

It's possible that Treat is leaving to avoid the huge upcoming ADA lawsuit and its bad publicity. I wonder if board member Geary spilled the beans? There's something going on with SPS and the USDE office of civil rights that's for sure.

--Owler

Bus Top said...

I second Eric B's bus lot theory. That would also match with the timing of Juneau's recent tweet where she had been talking to Lyft or Uber or whatever bicycle shares about transportation. I think there's some kind of transportation thing in the works. Which obviously makes a huge amount of sense given all the ridiculous problems there have been with First Student (although my kid's personal bus driver is awesome).

Anonymous said...

I agree with Owler that this might be a good reason to leave. In fact, I think there is a lot fan-splatting coming up over the next couple of years in a few different areas, which might also be why Geary and potentially DeWolf are giving up their spots. You can smell the reputational damage that the board and higher ups on staff will incur over the next 2 years or so if they stay onboard.

One thing I've wondered about is the effect the new ESSA rules are going to have, where schools will need to show not just achievement of grade level but also growth for all their students. Those initial numbers are not going to look good in both expected and unexpected demographics. I also think the implosions of more and more schools over head-scratching principal hires (Thornton Creek and Washington Middle School come to mind) are going to finally endanger the jobs of some of our worst, out-of-control executive directors.

Hoo, Hoo

Owler said...

New owler,
Would you mind using a different moniker? I don’t post often, but I’ve used “Owler” on this blog for the last couple of years when I do. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

More change too - Deputy Superintendent Nielsen has announced that he is leaving. Who is next?

EdRed

Melissa Westbrook said...

EdRed, flipping the table - I have always thought this a good idea but it depends on what direction you are flipping the table.

Anonymous said...

Some of these departures have been very good ones - Michael Tolley, now Stephen Nielsen, Flip Herndon. These folks needed to be fired a long time ago. Their departures are welcome news.

But on the other hand there are growing concerns. Nobody on the board or the superintendent or the senior staff have stepped up to fix the mess at WMS. The science adoption is corrupt, breaks several laws, and is in service to an online method that is racist. There are reports that people of color are being pushed out or marginalized out of senior roles. And Juneau is totally isolated, inaccessible, and refuses to address parent concerns.

I don't know what Juneau is up to here. But she's heading for a spectacular crash. All she needed to do was consolidate the goodwill she brought to the district and use it to help clean up some of the mess and bring parents together in service to a common agenda. She seems to want some kind of different path, perhaps because she thinks it'll get her the Education Secretary job in a Democratic administration in 2021.

She will quickly discover that instead, nobody in DC will want to bring her on if the problems here in Seattle continue to get worse.

Catboy

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Melissa Westbrook said...

Catboy’s comment about the possible aspirations of Juneau were not an invitiation for a catfight.

Stick to the topic.

Anonymous said...

@catboy "and is in service to an online method that is racist" ...WTF?

Please stop with the theatrics! Your claim is just that. Try "I think" once in awhile.

Oh and try to included some facts not just your ideas.


SPS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS Parent, I’ll let your comment slide but watch the language.

Anonymous said...

Juneau's name has been publicly linked with the Secretary of Education job several times in the fall of 2016:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/11/03/who-will-be-the-next-u-s-education-secretary/

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2016/08/clinton_education_secretary_candidates.html

In 2016 she was seen as a popular statewide elected official who had good views on public education (she was very critical of NCLB and rightly so) and would have been a consensus choice for the job. But in 2020 a Democratic presidential nominee and their vetting team might take a look at a record of controversy and scandal in Seattle and decide to look elsewhere.

Catboy

Anonymous said...

@catboy And where is the racism you claim?

SPS Parent