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Friday, October 26, 2007

Interesting Letters to the Editor

So I'm over at the West Seattle Herald checking out the newspaper. I checked the letters to the Editor and there were several about Steve Sundquist (one of the two candidates for that district). One of the letters had an interesting assessment of a Board member's job:

"Knowledge of the Seattle School District and its students is not enough to be an effective board member. An effective leader focuses on a few key issues; works well with other board members and the Superintendent and communicates often with parents and the wider community."

It's interesting because it seems half right and half wrong. Knowing the District isn't enough. (However, not knowing enough can put a new Board director on a long learning curve and some of them, from my viewpoint, don't have enough time in the day and don't ever learn much. I'm thinking of alternative schools and the highly capable program.)

The half wrong is that the letter writer says "a few key issues" and then says "communicates with parents and the wider community". Well, there wouldn't be much to communicate about if a Board member only knows about a few key issues. There are many areas a Board member needs to have a working knowledge about.

So what is the top five ranking of Board member qualifications? Communicates regularly with constituents and the community? Able to communicate with other members and the Superintendent? Experience/ability to work with others on a team? Understanding finance? Being able to focus on the big picture (the district) without forgetting the nuances/programs at each school? Willing to speak up even if no one else on the Board agrees with you? (This was a key issue because, at one point, Mary Bass was the only Board member who voted against a district budget because she knew something was off and, as it turns out, it was off by millions.)

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