Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Odds and Ends

UPDATE: The Audit and Finance Committee meeting today is Executive so no outsiders allowed. Sorry, I missed that word.)

Anyone attend the Sand Point meeting last night? I'd be interested to hear about what you heard. This was a meeting that Michael De Bell and Harium Martin-Morris attended.

Also, FYI, there is a new photo at the School Board webpage with our two new Board members. Here are their e-mail addresses:


If you have an issue, now would be the time to engage them. They likely have the least e-mail of any of the other Board members.

They will both be at their first Board meeting tonight; it should be interesting. There is also Audit and Finance meeting Committee meeting today about real estate from 3-4 pm. Oddly, there is also another Audit and Finance meeting tomorrow from 3:30-5:30 p.m. I'm thinking one of them is about Memorial Stadium and one might be about properties that are being sold/leased soon.


anonymous said...

I hope attending board meetings is mandatory for the two new board directors. If not, I wonder if they would show up?

Charlie Mas said...

I presume that adhoc's remark was a reference to the newly elected Board members' absence from Board meetings during the campaign.

There is a Board policy that requires their attendance at meetings. Of course, waivers are available.

anonymous said...

Yes, my post was sarcastic, as the new directors have not been showing up at any school board or school district meetings.

Dorothy Neville said...

I officially took notes last night and am transcribing my scribbles right now. After getting them checked by a couple of folks, I'll make them public. Probably not until tomorrow.

Additionally, I have some editorializing to do, but that shouldn't come in the notes. Look for it separately!

gavroche said...

Tonight is also Smith-Blum and Patu's chance to show what they are made of when they are asked to vote on a bonus for Supt. Goodloe-Johnson.

Their ethics, judgment and common sense will be on display.

Details from ESP Vision:

Does Supt. Goodloe-Johnson deserve a bonus? Board to vote on it this Weds. Dec. 9

("Goodloe-Johnson's $264,000 salary makes her one of the highest-paid public employees in Washington. Other perks include $20,000 per year in a retirement fund and a $700-per-month car allowance." -- Seattle Times)

After meeting only 4 out of 20 performance goals?

After recklessly closing 5 schools and disrupting thousands of schoolchildren to allegedly "save" $3.5 mil/year, and now asking to reopen 5 more schools at a cost of $48 million?

What could $5,280 buy for your child's school?

Come and voice your views:

6 p.m. Weds. Dec. 9 at the School Board meeting.
John Stanford Center
2445 – 3rd Avenue South
Seattle, Washington 98124
(206) 252-0040

Action item # 4.
Superintendent Incentive Measure for 2008/09 and 2009/10 – Approval of this item will complete the 2008/09 evaluation cycle and approve the 2009/10 incentive measures.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/09-10agendas/111809agenda/incentivereport.pdf (full recommendation from Dir. Sundquist pasted below)

"I move that pursuant to the Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson’s employment agreement that Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson receive performance based-incentive compensation of $5,280.00 for the 2008-09 academic year.

I further move that for the 2009-10 academic year Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson be considered by the Board for the payment of incentive compensation based upon the achievement of the academic measures specified by the Board and based upon the review by the Board of the financial status of the District in July 2010 at the time of the adoption of the 2010-11 District budget." -- Steve Sundquist

More background information
(even the Seattle Times is against it!):

Seattle Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson: Tis not the season for a bonus


THE Seattle School Board should rescind a scheduled bonus for Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. If not, the city's top educator should refuse it. (...)

(contd on next post)

gavroche said...

(contd from previous post)

"School Board Proposes Yet More Money for Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson"

By Nina Shapiro in Education
Thursday, Nov. 19 2009 @ 12:38PM

​As the Seattle Public School Board approved a landmark new assignment plan last night, it also introduced a proposal to give Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson a $5,000 performance bonus. One might think that the superintendent already makes enough money in recession times, having received a 10 percent raise last year, bringing her salary up to $264,000--more than that of the governor.

"Are you out of your mind?" asked parent, schools blogger and onetime SW contributor Sue Peters in an e-mail to Boardmember Steve Sundquist, who introduced the proposal. The timing of the bonus is also questionable given that the superintendent has done little to publicly sell or explain the assignment plan that for the time in decades assigns students to schools based on where they live.

Bonus for supe with a B minus?


By Danny Westneat
Seattle Times staff columnist

It's hardly a Goldman Sachs-style bonanza. It's no AIG outrage.

But a plan to give the chief of Seattle Public Schools a pay-for-performance bonus — albeit only $5,280 — had parental jaws hitting homework tables around the city last week.

Really? A cash reward for a heckuva job running Seattle schools? Now?

As tone-deaf as this seems, it's true. It also turns out to be more interesting than just a populist outrage of the week. It's the first try at merit pay in local schools. (...)

Charlie Mas said...

The Board is contractually committed to paying the bonus. I don't know why they are even voting on it. There is no possibility that they could vote it down.

And if the Board does not keep faith with the superintendent on a contract, then what hope do we have that they will keep faith with the public?

Anonymous said...

OK. I have a question for everyone.

I was at the board meeting tonight. I did not give my testimony as intended but ceded my time to Chris Stewart who talked about how several of the schools receiving an award for most improved and recognized at the meeting tonight were alternative schools. It seemed more appropriate. I plan to testify about MAP in January.

Anyway, whenever I listen to our CFO talk, I learn something new and interesting.

Tonight Don Kennedy talked about the budget gap this year. Last year the gap was $35M and this year it is $49M. Much of the difference is the SAP plan that for this year, for one year only, will cost us $9,284,000. There will be additional expense next year but I didn't note the projected cost. Kennedy included STEM in this amount. STEM cost $1,668,000 for the first year only as well. There will be additional cost next year for STEM. The central office budget made up the remainder. There was $4,391,000 for General Counsel and yet only $2,250,000 for math in the central office. I'm assuming that the lawsuits brought the counsel number up.

Kennedy said that they would come up with some ideas on how to decrease this gap in the finance meeting tomorrow which I plan to attend.

How could our superintendent cause so much pain to save $3M in closing schools and then turn around and spend $9M on the SAP when SPS already had a deficit that it couldn't close? And where was the board on this?

With such a deficit and such a big deal made about being over budget and having to rif teachers and close schools this year, how could our superintendent turn around and present a new SAP that just got us deeper into debt? Couldn't the new plan have waited until we were back on our feet financially?

This is not a rhetorical question.

Any thoughts?

dan dempsey said...


MGJ and Kennedy were mum at the June 2009 School Board meeting when the board was looking for economy measures to reduce teacher RIFFING....
Mum on the fact they were going to spend $10+ million on 111.5 academic coaches while the teacher RIF proceeded.

Money and these folks and plans ...
I haven't a clue. {Ask Meg Diaz}

Joan NE said...

Does anyone know what the expected annual savings in transportation costs will be due to implementation of SAP and school closures? What is total transportation cost in 2007-2008 school year, and what is expected cost in year 2010-2011, and what part of the 2010-2011 expected budget will be due to the transition costs?

Dora - how does the nearly $50M cost incurred by injudicious closing of schools relate to the numbers you gave? Does the upward revised budget deficit reflect this? If not, where does this mistake show up in the numbers?

Am I naive to be astonished that this Sup is not being excoriated for the nearly $50 million school closure debacle? Is it fair to compare this mistake to the reasons that Olfshevske was induced to resign? After all, didn't the District have the demographic data BEFORE closures, that showed that too many schools were being closed?

When we compare the estimated savings for various decisions, the magnitude of suffering and hardships that decisions would cause, and the size of the annual District budget (now exceeding half a billion dollars), many of the biggest initiaties by this Sup (especially school closure, SAP) seem to me, on the balance like very bad ideas.

Any thoughts on this?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dan.

Actually, I am going to ask the board members about this.

By the way, many of us appreciated the remarks that you made at the board meeting last night.

Anonymous said...


Good question about the money spent on closing and opening schools. That wasn't mentioned.

We have a budget gap of $49M as opposed to last year when the gap was $35M. That's a difference of $14M. $9M of that money was from the SAP and the STEM project at Cleveland. Our superintendent might think of herself as a CEO but in my book, a CEO who spends money faster than we can make it should be fired, not given a bonus. That is unless you're head of AIG.

Interesting aside that the president of AIG is on the Broad board. Eli Broad has a financial connection with AIG. I believe that he sold some of the interest in his Broad/Kaufman company to AIG. Anyway, I am digressing.

The main point of this is, just like with the financial failure of this country, it's going to be the rest of us who take the brunt of our CEO/Superintendent's decisions by trying to figure out how each school will manage with even less money. Each school is now going to have to determeine how they can cut back and still keep going. And if you don't believe me, ask your principals.

Joan NE said...

Thank you Dora. If I understand you, the $40-something cost of reopeing schools has not yet been entered into the budget deficit? So, if this were included, the deficit would be nearly $100 million? This deficit is cumulative deficit, right?

Joan NE said...

I am troubled by how fast these changes are being pushed through. The ink on the SAP decision was still wet when the cimm.engagmt mtgs took place - right at time when people are very busy anyway. It wasn't taking input as much as it was infomercial.

This changes are coming so fast through the pipe that the public doesn't have time to understand the implications and organize to make their views known.

Please take the time to document all the good things happening at your schools - high schools especially. Most of what makes each school special and beloved will be history pretty soon. If we form a good record of what we have now, it will be easier later to understand what we have lost, and might want to recover.

Anonymous said...


The money for re-opening schools, like the $7M for Old Hay to completely refurbish it, will be part of the BTA levy that will be voted on in February.

In terms of how fast things are coming down the pike it's part of our superintendent's MO. Everything is top down with no one questioning her decisions until it's too late, the deed has been done.

See: http://www.timesizing.com/gts0409c.htm

Scroll all the way down to #13. Below is an excerpt.

"Rapid changes taking toll on some teachers - Charleston County educators say demands leaving them overwhelmed, exhausted, BY SEANNA ADCOX, Charleston Post-Courier, SC.
A month into the school year, Charleston County teachers say they are exhausted. Many feel overwhelmed by Superintendent Maria Goodloe's new initiatives, which added hours to their work week without a penny more in pay. They want to do whatever helps students, they say, but the pace of change is stressing them to the breaking point. "It's all coming down so fast and furiously, we're feeling overwhelmed," said Jewel Brown, a James Island Elementary teacher in her 30th year of teaching. "Before we have a chance to figure out what to do with the first part, the second part is coming. There's a great deal of frustration." Goodloe's new initiatives include standardizing math and English curricula district-wide to ensure, for example, that third-graders at Minnie Hughes Elementary in rural Hollywood are learning the same thing as third-graders at Charles Pinckney Elementary in Mount Pleasant. Teachers in every school meet at least once a week for training in the drafted lesson plans, handed down just days before school began."

Anonymous said...

Part One:

Notes from the Field

I sat in on the Audit and Finance Committee meeting today.

I was looking forward to hearing our CFO’s ideas on how the budget deficit could be rectified as he had suggested would happen in the school board meeting the night before. I was expecting some creative ideas that could be implemented, fat that could be cut, just about anything to get us back on our feet and boy was I amazed. Not impressed, just amazed.

Let me start at the beginning.

The people in attendance in the meeting were Maier, Sundquist, Carr, DeBell, Kennedy, our CFO, and a host of other folks from the district side who for the most part didn’t say a word but were there because….they needed to be there I suppose. Our tax dollars at work. There were eight of them at one point. The one person who was not in attendance was our superintendent and “CEO” as many liken her to be.

First the monthly reports were presented for September and October. I guess we’ll see November’s report sometime in the spring. There were a lot of numbers.

Something got picked up by DeBell about the 111 coaches that were part of the central administration costs. He asked how many were paid for by grants and maybe we could so something there to “help the debt”.

OK. A decent call. The district would get back to him on that by the end of the meeting. I didn’t stay until the end so I don’t know if that happened or not.

Another really hard question from DeBell, was the hiring freeze still in effect? Don Kennedy said that they would get into that later motioning to another person who later made a “presentation” to the board members. To make a long story short, that question never got answered. A simple yes or no would have been sufficient. Did Mr. Kennedy really not know? Hmmm.

Then DeBell asked about a $3M reconciliation that he had requested and had not received. Well, Mr. Kennedy would have to get back to him on that too.

I’m starting to wonder what this guy does all day. He certainly doesn’t prepare for his meetings, his big moments in front of the board. Or maybe they aren’t such big moments for him. Maybe he thinks that the board members will forget and move on just like with those rif numbers that DeBell asked for in two different meetings that were to substantiate the superintendent’s decision to fire teachers and staff. Another, hmmm.

Well, finally to the big anticipated moment that we had all been waiting for since the board meeting the night before, Mr. Kennedy’s ideas on how to rectify the deficit.

What we were handed was a copy of the PowerPoint that we had seen the night before. Everything was in really big letters, using an entire page for just a few words and not double sided. Boy, they sure do know how to save a buck downtown.

There was no new information, no breakdowns, just those numbers again in a really big font.

It was interesting that no one asked the obvious question. Why, when we are in a deficit, did the superintendent think that it was worth increasing the deficit by $9,284,000 (A number that you could see on the other side of the room on that piece of paper) in such a financially difficult time? Couldn’t the SAP have waited a bit? But that elephant in the room was never questioned about its’ presence.

The number for “Academic Assurances” was questioned by DeBell. How much would be on-going? Kennedy said that he would provide a breakdown…at another time.

I was thinking that one of the board members would have requested a breakdown for the SAP cost of $3,596,000 but no one did. Was I on another planet or was I the only one wondering where $3.5M goes to pay for the SAP for one year? I’m sorry, but in my profession, if a contractor comes to me with an invoice for $3M, I want a detailed explanation. Pronto.

Anonymous said...

Part 2

So on page six in the largest font possible were five lines;

“Projected GAP” (shown just like that) $35,026,000

“New Student Assignment Plan” $9,284,000

“Budget Enhancements” (don’t you like that phrase?) 4,826,080

“TOTAL SHORTFALL” $49,136,080

By the way, on the bottom of every page were the words “Every student achieving, everyone accountable”. Hmmm

And now to the “Proposed Solutions” in huge letters on the next page.

“Delayering/Central Reductions” $6M (I kid you not)

And what is “delayering”? Well, first of all, it’s a pretty cool word don’t you think?

It is something that the Department of Finance learned about in a seminar, that hopefully was in town and not really in Texas, and it describes how many layers there are between the superintendent and the students.

Well, fortunately in Texas there are only seven layers, which apparently is a good thing, and it also is in Seattle. Of course they will need to work further into that analysis but hey, doesn’t look like we need to cut any costs down here (meaning downtown). The layers would be superintendent, CAO, directors, principals, assistant principals, teachers, students. I was wondering about all of the other people that surround each of these levels, like assistants for the superintendent and the staff for the CAO, but I guess that doesn’t matter. It’s a layering thing.

There was nothing about four day work weeks, a week off without pay each year or just plain layoffs, something that the rest of us have had to live through, just “delayering”. Fortunately DeBell and Carr did mention “furloughs”, which was a very nice way of putting it. Someone said that they would look into that. Who’s wants to put money on that actually happening?

Another term used by the presenter was “span of control” yet another pretty cool term you can use at your next family gathering. It means that some managers might have two people who report to them and another manager might have 17 people who report to them. The number of mangers could be consolidated. OK. This is not rocket science. Just start culling through staff like the rest of us have had to and start the layoff’s.
Then came “WSS Cuts (Core staffing, Class Size, Weighting)” $6M

This meant free and reduced lunches, wouldn’t that be better than losing some of that bureaucracy(?) and discretionary funds. This would be up to each principal to figure out where they could, and would have to, cut their budgets. Don’t worry, we are all going to get to feel this pain.

“Freeze on Purchases and Contracts” $3M

“Shifts to Grant Funding” $1M

“Translation Efficiencies” $1M

(That means having interpreters at all SPS meeting with the public. The proposal was to have them as requested.)

For some reason at this point someone from the district brought up the fact that they would look at summer school. No additional explanation was given.

“Reduced Extra-time/Overtime” $2M

“Non-essential Hiring Freeze” $2M

“Increased Revenue” $1M

Pay for play came up here, meal costs, rental of buildings and rental of instruments.
“Other Cost Savings” $4M
Mr. Kennedy would provide more detail about this (blah, blah, blah).

“Total Solutions=” $26M

Yeah right.

DeBell did bring up that in other countries there is a greater percentage of teachers as compared to school bureaucracy. He also suggested eliminating elementary school counselors and eliminating some security and replacing them with police officers.

Anybody ready to propose a state income tax?

Anonymous said...

Part 3:

But the best part was saved for last. I was curious as to what the “Southeast Education Initiative” meant so I decided to stay for that presentation. The handouts were distributed with great fanfare ( The Emperor’s New Clothes came to mind) and someone commented that it must have been written using invisible ink because there was nothing in the columns. No, Don Kennedy said, the columns would be “populated” tomorrow. So basically, that presentation was not quite ready yet. Oh well, maybe we’ll get that information when Don Kennedy finally gives us the analysis on the rif’s. The worst part, could it get any worse (?), is that DeBell said that the matrix didn’t include information that he had requested.

This entire presentation was sad.

In the real world, Mr. Kennedy would have been on the short list for folks to be laid off in the first round. But, he is the superintendent’s CFO who she brought with her from Charleston and her right hand man. He is apparently very influential and someone to be feared. What a sad state of affairs.

The board is working with one hand tied behind their backs with this guy. I just hope that they can free themselves of this and demand a real and professional accounting of our finances.

Joan NE said...

Dora -Wow! What a quote. I keep thinking that if we look at what has happened in other districts that are further along a Broad-ian reform path than we are, then we can see the future of SPS. What better place to look than Charleston.

Is there a lot to be learned from Charleston? Can you share more about Charleston?

The pacing also reminds me of the Shock and Awe! concept that is the theme of Naomi Klein's book. Does this concept apply here?

So why don't they roll the shortages into the BTA? Then it would look like Maria balanced the budget. I saw that the BTA has about $36M in projects to set up all the infrastructure for computer assessments (including dedicated computer labs) and warehousing and analyzing data. If I had the line item veto power, I would nix that.

I went to my first Board meeting this week. I got the feeling that the Board is following rather than leading, and that, like the community, they are struggling almost as much as the rest of us to understand where the Superintendent is taking us. What is your opinion?

Joan NE said...

Dora-sorry for being out of synch. Thank you for the run down of the meeting. It is hilarious and quite disturburbing at the same time.

I asked Harium last Saturday if the Board would call for the District to do a survey to find out whether different sub-communities and the community-aggregate want "predictability," in the long run, as the district puts it. (I have never seen any data that says a strong majority of SPS families want the predictability that the SAP will bring.) He was absolutely opposed to that.

I asked if the SAP could be postponed for a year. No. Absolutely not. That would create chaos. For whom, I asked? No answer.

Were these really dum questions to ask? I mean, the SAP is re-segregationist. It will pretty much force low-income families with a school-age and preschool age child to move the older child to neighborhood school - from a non-neighborhood school that they may be quite happy with and which might be their first choice - so that both kids can be in same school. This means social and academic disruption for the older child - increasing that child's risk of failing to graduate on time.

The SAP may be solving some problems for a few families (mainly for home-owning class families that have or will choose a house in part on what school they want access to), but it is introducing problems for other families - such as the one I mentioned. For many families, the Plan to Eliminate Choice is not desirable, I am sure.

Isn't there some good sense to let resegregation come about naturally under the auspicies of open choice? If MGJ succeeds in delivering the dream of making all schools indistinguishable in program and achievement, then reassortment toward neighborhood schools will come about of its own accord. I have no problem with resegregation, if it comes about through exercise of free choice.

I don't like that the SAP is forcing resegregation. This disturbs me. Is no-one else bothered by this?

Isn't it true that the transportation savings that will result from the SAP are pretty small - perhaps not enough to justify all the hardship the SAP is going to cause?