Board Agenda

This week sees another School Board meeting on Wednesday at 6 p.m. (Before that, there is a work session on International Education. I'm thinking it didn't get covered enough at last week's work session. This one is from 4:15-5:30 p.m.)

One interesting item is the approval of some work done at Ingraham for asbestos floor removal, communications, mats for the entries and more security cameras. This contract went 47% over its estimate with change orders of $240k. Okay so $160K of this was the district asking to do complete removal of all asbestos flooring. That is great and fine. But (1) how come more cameras at Ingraham? and (2) what was the other $80K for? I really dislike when a partial explanation is given when you read these things and you are left with, "okay, what else?" Doesn't the Board read this and wonder about this? I question this extra spending because hello? we have a HUGE backlog of maintenance issues and yet we don't consider that when we have extra capital funds.

Other Action Items:
  • the materials adoption for social studies for 4th and 8th grade (were these books available for review at your school?)
  • Leases for Hughes, TT. Minor and Van Asselt. There is a list including these and two other schools (Columbia and Mann) and nearly all these tenants are private schools (with at least two religious). There is a lot of tricky wording in this one so if someone can read it with a careful eye, let me know if I missed something (bold mine).
At these schools, the tenant will take over the entire building, and the District’s only
responsibility will be for major maintenance of building systems such as the roof, walls and
water and sewer systems and mechanical systems. It is not yet known what the net operating return will be, as the maintenance costs are unknown and the leases are not fully negotiated, but the District expects to net over $450,000 per year from these five buildings.

What? Yes you do know the maintenance costs because we paid for a facilities condition report and while some of these buildings haven't been used in awhile, most have. This is a very odd thing to say.

At John Marshall, we will be actively managing the building and renting to a number of tenants. The building will not be fully rented at this time and we are seeking additional tenants. Initially, this building will have more expenses than revenue. Occupancy began on April 1, 2010 with tenants that have been moved out of the Sand Point building. Over time, we expect to locate additional tenants to reduce or eliminate the loss.

What?!? We are losing money on renting and we hope the loss can be reduced? If it's not eliminated, aren't we making a bad choice?

An additional benefit to the leasing program is in avoided expenditures. This program will avoid expenditures averaging approximately $50,000 per building per year at the five fully rented buildings, in addition to the net operating profit stated above. The total annual gain to the District from this effort for these 6 buildings is projected at over $650,000, including the avoided expenses.

Avoided expenditures? What is that - maintenance? I'm not sure they can say in one place they don't know the maintenance costs and yet they have a very specific number for how much they will save.

In addition, by having the buildings occupied, the District substantially reduces the potential for vandalism, and keeps building boilers, pipes and other systems operational on a daily basis.

  • OSPI waiver to try to get a reduction in the number of days South Shore has to make up because of their one-week loss of days due to the sick building. Poor South Shore would, if the waiver is granted, have to make up the days on June 23, 24 and 25. Poor kids!
Intro Items:
  • Changing the name of Brighton Elementary to Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary. Brighton is not named after a person so it's not a big loss there but what a blow to the original school. It's almost like it never existed.


Carolyn said…
Anyone know what they discussed at last work session, as it related to international education?
Charlie Mas said…
Very little of the information about the leases makes any sense.

We are told that buildings are closed to save money. Chief among the savings are capital expenses needed if the buildings continue to be occupied.

Then we hear that the District will lease the buildings and will have to pay for those capital expenses anyway because the buildings will be occupied.

So where's the savings on the closures? Not in the capital expenses.

If the removal of the asbestos flooring at Ingraham is necessary, then why wasn't it part of the original bid? Same for all the other stuff.

The Board should simply say no to these budget increases on capital projects. This is how the Garfield renovation more than doubled in cost.

If we have $240,000 to toss around on this, then why haven't we done more on the maintenance backlog?

How in the world is the District renting the John Marshall building at a loss? What are the operating costs for the building? The tenants don't pay enough to even cover the heat, water, and power? That's simply not credible.

What in the world costs $50,000 a year at an empty building?
Carolyn, the original work session was to be about International education and then RTTT was added in. My guess is they never got to RTTT or didn't finish int' education and that's why it's added on this week.

Call the Board office; they would know.
grousefinder said…
Since I have the cast metal "B" from the original Brighton School in my house, I feel that qualifies me as an expert on the cost of school name changes. This is a cross-post from the Rainier Valley News Blog. I did this research when I heard about the name change proposal.

"The installation price for new cast aluminum letters (independent contractor) would run about $3500-$5000. However, the name won’t fit over the current entrance. Brighton School vs. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School would require a modification to the covered entry facade. Either way the old facade will require repairs to fix the holes left by the removal of the Brighton School letters. There will also be the cost of specifications and facilities inspectors in addition to installation charges. Currently, the sign and paint shops at the District offices are so far behind in workload that they cannot even paint the rotting and crumbling facades on existing schools, so doing it in-house is out of the question. During a recent conversation with a facilities and maintenance department employee he told me that the district is so far behind on scheduled maintenance that Seattle Schools cannot even perform routine repairs to heating and ventilation equipment. In his words, “We just wait until they [the fans, boilers, controls] completely fall apart and buy a new piece of equipment.”

I estimate (with all the human capital expended thus far and in the future) a cost of $10,000 to change Brighton's name. This school district needs to get its priorities straight. to the name change...I vote for Caroline Kline Galland School. She was one of the original philanthropists in the neighborhood. Given the school's proximity to the Orthodox and Conservative Jewish Community, the name of a local Jewish Philanthropist is apropos.
dan dempsey said…
HERE are my thoughts on the SPS and Race to the Top.

I am speaker #1 Wednesday on RttT. I will not be covering much of what I wrote on my blog in my testimony.
Unknown said…
I am posting here because the thread below where I just posted may not be active anymore and I want this message out there.

re: tonight's vote for $$ allocation for the CMS

I work in the tech industry.

I second everything said here about handing over huge $$$$$$$ to the central staff for this Web project. Staff is clearly not equipped with talent or time or priorities to deploy a cms correctly. CMS deployment is complicated on both the technical and on the communications fronts.

This isn't The middle of nowhere. This is Seattle. We know tech. We know digital communications.

If you are going to do this, please have the staff prove they have the deployment and digital communications know-how in place to do it right or do not allocate the funds in the first place. Do not waste our scarce money. Do not embarrass us.
cascade said…
Thanks Ralph.

$414K going to IT and Communications as of tonight.

Pay attention people.

Do you trust these departments as currently existing to be good stewards of this project money!!

Share your thoughts. How can we insist on a well-run web project that reflects the public's interest, and not just staff's. We have only a few hours until the board hands it over into the black hole.
Anonymous said…
Regarding this evening's vote on RTTT, I sent this letter to Kay Smith-Blum who represents my district and copied it to all of the board members. I should preface this letter by saying that I do not believe in this "turnaround" model at all, but I can still fight for less school communities having to go through this trauma. The e-mail letter goes as follows:


I will not be able to participate tonight at the school board meeting but wanted to bring to your attention a concern that I have regarding Resolution 2009/10-12.

There is wording regarding Optional Component #2 and it goes as follows:

Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools: The district would complete a competitive grant application to participate in the following program:

In the Title I and Title I eligible schools identified in the lowest 10% of the persistently lowest achieving schools, districts will:

o Implement one of the four federal models, and rapid improvement and turnaround

o Participate in leadership training through Washington State Leadership Academy.

O Scale practices within and outside of the cluster.

According to Bill 6696 that was passed by the state legislature regarding Race to the Top components, it is stated in the bill brief as follows:

Accountability. In 2010 phase I of the accountability system is voluntary; will use federal funds to target the lowest 5 percent of persistently lowest achieving schools in the state eligible for federal Title I funds; and will use federal intervention models. A required action process will begin in 2011 for those eligible schools that did not volunteer and have not improved student achievement. Phase II will use state funds for a required action process in schools that are not Title I eligible and begin in 2013.

First, I want to clarify what the "four federal models" are for "rapid improvement and turnaround".

The options in terms of the Federal requirements are:

1.Fire the principal

2.Fire 50% of the school staff and replace them. (It would be helpful to know how staff would be replaced in such a quick turnaround. How do you find these "better" teachers, particularly if there is a system set in place where these potential hires know that they could be so easily fired?)

3.Close the school.

4. Close the school and re-open it as a charter, privatized, school.

All four options are harsh and extreme and so far in other states none of these options have proved to be an effective means to create a better learning environment for the students. If you need additional information on this aspect of RTTT, please let me know.

I believe that students would be better served with smaller class sizes and "wrap around services" that can support the student and family as needed. A student's success has more to do with outside influences that teachers and principals have no control over. In supporting the student and their family, you are then supporting the teacher and staff. This is what provides an environment where a student can succeed.

This "Optional Component #2" is just that, optional. I recommend that this option not be approved. It's not necessary to increase the percentage of schools that would fall under this turnaround model and there is no track record to show its' success in other states.


Unknown said…
$414K going to IT and Communications as of tonight.


I guess this money came from the levy? Why are we at this cash poor time giving one dime to a central staff idea of how to talk at us. Why is the money not going into classroom tools?
Where is there any attempt to engage the public on a project approaching half a million dollars.
Without answers vote no.
No, it can't be the levy money so soon. It may be they are "borrowing" against the levy money. The motion says:

BTA II - Initial Website Improvement Budget ($150,000.00 previously allocated)
 BTA III for Web Upgrades ($571,000 to be allocated)

I have a hard time believing the BTA III money is already coming in because I had heard from staff it would be into the fall.
Sahila said…
Go here:

and tell SPS Board Directors not to sign on to RttT... an average one-off payment of $22 per pupil is not enough to sell our public education system to the private enterprise charter franchises, and will have negative impacts on our already disadvantaged low income communities and children of colour...
Unknown said…
Last week the board didn't have the work session on international education. Something came up (I don't know what) and they dealt with it in a closed session. They rescheduled Karen Kodama's presentation to today, and it went from 4:15 - 5:45 pm. The proposed plan takes a lot from the JSIS model. The 2 problems are money and the student assignment plan. Where will the money come from for schools to study, plan and implement the switch to an international school and how to choose international schools given the new assignment plan? Choosing schools will be revisited in November when the board looks at capacity management and the 2nd year transition plan.
Charlie Mas said…
I'm finding it increasingly pointless to watch the Board meetings. Nothing happens in them. The Board members move through their scripted steps like the kinetic statues on some charming Bavarian town clock. They pass the motions put before them and vote exactly as they could be predicted to vote. They don't make any insightful comments, ask any compelling questions or make any amusing remarks.

I think the Board has learned not to discuss their reasons for their votes because it is likely to appear in legal documents of the appeal. The Board isn't trying to get any more information from the staff, they aren't trying to do any oversight, they aren't even trying to exttract information for the public's benefit.

Honestly I think they could phone it in.

I will say, however, that the saccharine story that the Superintendent told for Teacher Appreciation Week sounded like she was reading it cold right out of the Reader's Digest. It's a shame she could tell a true story. The story she told is entirely fictional.

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