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Saturday, February 07, 2009

New Hire at SPS

The Office of Communications at the district sent me a press release about their announcement of a new hire for the capital building program.

"We wanted to make you aware of the recent appointment of Mr. Bill Martin as Senior Manager of Capital Projects for Seattle Public Schools. Please see the attached press release for more information.

Seattle Public Schools is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Bill Martin as Senior Manager, Capital Projects. Mr. Martin will join Seattle Public Schools (SPS) on March 2 and be responsible for overseeing a nearly $230 million annual capital budget. His duties include oversight of program development and budgets, engineering, architectural design and construction. Current Seattle Public Schools’ capital programs include the six-year, $490 million Building Excellence (BEX III) bond, approved by voters in 2007; and the six-year, $178 million Buildings, Technology and Academics II levy (BTA II) approved in 2004.

Reporting to Fred Stephens, Executive Director of SPS’ Facilities Department, Mr. Martin will work on key planning, legislative and policy initiatives and will be responsible for communications with the School Board operations committee, the Building Excellence Oversight Committee, schools and community groups. Capital projects under Mr. Martin’s guidance will include new and renovated schools, major and minor building renovations, and relocations.

The new position was created as a direct result of recommendations contained in a District-requested peer review conducted by the Council of Great City Schools. The purpose of the review was to determine what aspects of the management of the district’s capital programs were working well, and what could be improved. The review team recommended that three District capital programs be merged under one umbrella and that a senior manager be hired to oversee and coordinate the programs.

“Bill’s appointment as Senior Manager of Capital Projects is a direct result of recommendations from the Council of Great City Schools peer review of our capital program,” said Fred Stephens. “We are very fortunate to have found in Bill a leader who can oversee the creation, development and implementation of the very complex capital projects that our District will undertake.

Mr. Martin has more than 17 years of experience managing large capital projects. Since 2003, he has served as the Deputy Division Director, Capital Projects and Roadway Structures for the City of Seattle Department of Transportation. He has overseen an extensive portfolio of highly visible, controversial and complex transportation capital construction programs and projects, including the Chief Sealth and Burke Gillman multi-modal trails, Mercer corridor improvements, the Spokane Street viaduct widening and bridge rehabilitation and improvement programs, and has developed and delivered over $1 billion in complex capital construction projects.

Mr. Martin received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Washington State University and his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Washington."

A few thoughts:
  • No, your eyes don't deceive you. While there is a hiring freeze in general, somehow this one is okay because it is BEX money and General Fund money. However the BEX wording given to voters never mentioned hiring a new person. My understanding is that Mr. Martin along with an assistant will be paid $500,000 over 3 years (at least that is what was requested from the Board).
  • This should free up some other staff who have worked on the capital programs. I'll look forward to see that realignment of staff soon.
  • "Capital projects under Mr. Martin’s guidance will include new and renovated schools, major and minor building renovations, and relocations." Note that word "relocations". So the district is already underway with closures and relocations but Mr. Martin will be coming in (March 2nd) soon enough to make an impact.
  • I'll have to ask for this peer review by the Council of Great City Schools. I wonder if they asked for this review of the capital program to try to ward off any surprises that might come from the soon-to-be released audit by the State Auditor.

2 comments:

Meg said...

hmm. Not only does this apparently NOT fall under "hiring freeze" but it also doesn't appear to fall under "central office cuts."

And speaking of the Council of Great City Schools, did anyone else notice that in their peer evaluation of the finance dept of SPS (requested by the Superintendent and the CFOO), that they noted a major weakness was that the finance dept can do transactional work, but is not so hot with the analytic and strategic work?

Maybe we need this guy in this spot, and there's just nobody in the central offices that can step up. Maybe he is absolutely perfect for it. But... I would love to see rationale from the district that appears to be genuinely rational.

Meg said...

I forgot to include a link to the peer review on finance (and HR and DoTS).

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/strategicplan/operations_report.pdf

The stuff I was being catty about is on page 15.