Thursday, October 19, 2006

Seattle School Closures on "The Conversation"

Excerpts from KUOW's The Conversation on 10/19/06:

Regarding the decision to table the Phase II closure recommendation:

Brita Butler-Wall: "I did not feel that the administration made their case for this particular set of recommendations. Nor did I believe that the process that was used in Phase II reflected our values of transparency and inclusiveness, and therefore fairness."

Michael DeBell: "Tabling it did not give us a chance to deliberate on the final recommendations. I had hoped that the School Board members could examine what the superintendent had offered and potentially make changes that would make it more acceptable and move forward...We certainly had vocal opposition from communities that were affected...The question is, 'Are the tradeoffs involved worth the sacrifice that community has to make?' and that's what I wanted to get at...ultimately, we still have to grapple with the question of having more buildings than we really need. And we can't really drop that issue."

Brita Butler-Wall: (confirmed that she called Raj last Friday and said she wouldn't support proposal and asked him to withdraw Phase II recommendation from Board agenda) I respect his decision to go forward. I can understand him wanting to finish out that process...I think it was important for people to have an opportunity to speak up...I think that he (Raj) is on the right track for staying on this path of closing schools. I do not think this process was the right process.

Regarding tone

Michael DeBell: "I really agree with Director Chow...I thought the way the adults were behaving and the level of discourse was quite disturbing...personal insults, especially toward the Superintedent...the idea of shouting and screaming rather than discussing the question...the threat of shutting down our meeting...We really need those we come to our meetings...to try and be respectful."

Brita Butler-Wall: "There are many different styles of discourse...makes me want to consider opening up additional mechanisms so there can be two-way respectful dialogue. I have weekly office hours...and that is definitely a place where I have very good two-way conversations with people about issues...Some of the people who were shouting the loudest last night, I have sat in meetings with and have certainly seem them be as respectful and calm as one could hope to find...there is seomthing about seeing people sit on a dias...that brings out shouting and screaming when they felt the relatively calm testimony at the site hearings was ignored."

Is the discussion about closing schools over?

Brita Butler-Wall: "I don't think so. I think it's back to the drawing board...I think it's really critical...I actually have some ideas about starting use a regional community look...drawing in some of our leaders from around town to help design that process....the problem is not going away, in fact it is going to get worse. We have structural underfunding of public education."

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