Disqus

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Last Board Meeting

Here's a quick overview of the last Board meeting.

Speakers: this was really interesting as nearly half of those signed up did not show. And, there was no one to take their place.

I spoke on the issue of the nearly $1M payout and how it really didn't have to happen if our principals remembered their duty to act in a professional and fair manner (the majority do but if you read this appeals transcript, it is clear some don't). I also mentioned that in the additional material from the Auditor's report, the Auditor had sought counsel from the Attorney General's office on the issue of the expenditure on food that the Superintendent spent on the retirement banquet. The AG's office said that in the absence of district policies or regulations, it would be considered "gifting of public funds". And the district said that the Superintendent will be having a banquet every year just for certificated employees. (My thought here is that the Superintendent could just attend the luncheon for ALL the long-time retiring employees, shake everyone's hand and say "thank you for your service to our district" rather than spending public funds on a fancy banquet.)

There were also speakers in support of the early education program at Ballard that is being closed because Ballard needs for room for students. It's ironic because the Superintendent is pushing early education AND this area of Ballard High was built specifically for early education and yet, they're closing it. (Oh yes, and it was a successful program for the children in the school as well as the high school students who interned there.)

The Superintendent's remarks were about the Strategic Plan, MAP, rolling out the district scorecard, (yes, Charlie, she read her Powerpoint). BUT, you see because she's moved on to other parts of the Strategic Plan, NOW her public engagement will be different. "This year my engagement will focus on Listening, Learning and Responding." Odd, because she has given the distinct impression from various things she has said in the past that she didn't think it worth listening to parents because they were unable to see past their own child.

So it's not that she didn't want to talk with parents for the last three years. It's that now is the time to talk with parents and community. Oh. Funny, how I have never heard this said before but I guess there had to be some reason given for this turnaround because our Superintendent never admits a mistake. (FYI: there is a welcome to the new school year that I would have liked to see on the district's homepage; it's on the Superintendent's page. I'd laugh but it's not funny. Who ever goes to the Superintendent's page?)

So guess what? She's scheduled regional community meetings (5) and will have expanded "learning walks", brown bag lunches with principals and you can shadow a principal for a half-day (might be interesting AND entertaining so call your principal today). I'd like to be able to give you the dates but it's not at the News and Calendar page. Not at the Superintendent's page. I have no idea where to find it.

What was hilarious was that the Superintendent finished and asked for questions and one member of the audience got up and went to the microphone. Yes, imagine asking the Superintendent a question at the Board meeting and believing you could get an answer. The Board actually looked slightly embarrassed and Michael DeBell said sorry, she meant the Board could ask questions.

Director Carr stated that in the near future that there would need to be discussion about adjusting the Strategic Plan around the audit and especially around management. (It's about time someone said something.) She said that what's in the plan is what gets funded and we need people and money to take care of audit issues.

Betty Patu thanked the Superintendent for creating the outreach to parent and communities. Well, that's one way to look at it.

The Superintendent also said that she believes that the work around "aligning the curriculum has been inaccurately stated as standardizing the curriculum and that's not true." She said that "teachers could go above it and use supplemental materials." You heard it here.

Director DeBell responded to the comment about examining strategic plan goals and changes in the environment. He said that the State Auditor's report is sobering in some of the deficiencies in governing processes and how the Board makes decisions and holds itself accountable as a governance team. He said they would be discussing this at the Board retreat this Saturday (which is open to the public to listen to).

Then, as previously reported, the new head of Nutrition Services, Eric Boutin, was introduced and talked about the new pilot program for high school breakfast. (Interestingly, today I learned that West Seattle High School has unilaterally reduced the most popular breakfast period from 15 minutes to 5 minutes. So why bother with it? Clearly no kid can pay for the breakfast and eat in 5 minutes. This occurred without notice to any of the cafeteria workers or union reps despite repeated commitments from central administration that this would not happen AND despite the fact that is is not legal to have done so.)

Then we came to COO/CFO Don Kennedy and the district's plan to the State Audit. That will be part two of this report.

18 comments:

Central Mom said...

You know what I think about the board comments? I think it means this blog is getting increasingly effective in getting the voice of the public into the minds of the Board. Why else would they be getting comments from the public? They wouldn't be getting those comments, because there's no one else reporting on this stuff, which means the public couldn't react.

The audit. The lack of public engagement. The failure to account for $$ in project planning. The superintendent addressing concerns about curriculum alignment.

All of it first reported at length and discussed here. Here only.

GO BLOG.

Sarah said...

Loved the part when a woman asked the Board a question!

How can we obtain minutes from the Board's retreat?

SP said...

Melissa- Thanks for your report (and looking forward to the audit section also).
I'm curious about the WSHS breakfast news. Are you talking about their "second breakfast"? With a new principal and 2 new AP's, maybe some changes have surfaced, although the new bell schedule still isn't posted online. I know there was talk about having only the straight-6 schedule (and no blocked days) because of SEA new interpretations of "unfair labor practice" for planning time (not evenly spread every day with blocked schedule).

Wildly popular of course with students, the second breakfast has been a 15 to 20 minute extra break mid-morning every day which then made a huge mess with food in the halls and classrooms.

Add that onto a 10 minute shorter day than other schools some years, a 15 minute morning "tutorial" at 8:00am start of school with no required attendance, another 10 minute break in the afternoon on blocked schedule days, and you've really got to wonder when did those students ever have any time inside the classroom?

Every spring parents asked why the second breakfast couldn't be shortened in order to have more classroom time for the next fall, but the line always was that it was "too late to negotiate a change with the union" (even though other schools had done this). Apparently, it turns out in the 609 union contract that the district has the right to set hours of work & schedules! So, the bottom line was that the kids were shortchanged instructional time year after year because of a non-existant union contract excuse by the school's administration?

Melissa Westbrook said...

The minutes aren't available until the next Board meeting (when they approve them).

You could look up Channel 26's schedule and see if they are rebroadcasting the meeting.

Seattle Parent,I won't pretend I know all of the situation. I was just reporting what I was told by a firsthand party. I know that WSHS has had a lot of upheaval and maybe the shortened second breakfast was a way to appease a lot of people (but seemingly pleasing no one). I think the issue for me is that the union had a commitment from the district not to make changes without telling them in advance (not a lot to ask, just at least some notification) and didn't.

SP said...

Yes, I agree that it's unfortunate that the district didn't give "proper notice" to the union before changing the schedule.

But as a direct consequence of a faulty and misleading excuse, 1,200 kids have lost 45 hours of classroom time every year (15 min. for 180 days) compared to Roosevelt for example, just in that one extra break, much less all of the other extra breaks!

Unfortunately, this mess could have been avoided completely by the district following the right steps to initiate a change. Sounds familiar?

Charlie Mas said...

Another year, another performance evaluation for the superintendent, another low grade for community engagement, and another 60-day coffee campaign.

The superintendent has responded to the Board's call for more community engagement just as she did last year, with a half a dozen staged events in September and October. There isn't likely be anything of the kind from November to August.

You better go to these things, folks. There won't be any more until next September and October when the Board, again, gives her bad marks for community engagement.

Maureen said...

Is there an actual schedule for these coffee things posted somewhere? I don't see any reference to them on the website (for this year that is).

A Community Meeting on Sept 14th to get feed back on the web site is posted:

Please join staff from our Department of Technology to learn more about the goals and timeline for the Web Content Management System project. Meeting participants will be asked to provide input on how we should organize our website content to meet our users’ needs using a card sort activity. Card sorting is a technique that is often used to gather information about how users organize and expect to access content on a website. Meeting participants will also be asked to provide feedback on potential design mock ups for the redesigned district website.

Tues Sept 14th 6:30-8:30 pm at Rainier Beach HS
(Sigh-I guess it's good that they are reaching out to that community but it is WAY over there in the corner--it seems like they could choose a more central location for stuff that impacts the whole District.)

Jan said...

So -- why can't the Board admit that it was sold a "bill of goods" and get rid of this administration. Did she ever say, when she started, that her "strategic plan" would take 4 to 5 years before any results of any kind would be evident -- so that there was no accountability for results of any kind for 4 or 5 years (and what of the kids whose entire high school careers occurred in that silly little gap?) Would they have hired her if she had admitted that?
Did she ever say that her "plan" involved no community engagement for the first three years -- but after that, she would pencil in "listening, learning, and responding?" Would they have hired her if they knew that was her management style?
These are supposed to be rhetorical questions, with "Of COURSE not!" roared back as the answer. But as months go by and they approve, or pretend to approve, of her management, I begin to wonder.

Dorothy Neville said...

Jan, MGJ from the beginning said "Hold me accountable!" But she must have been whispering the second half (but not for six years) to herself.

In levy news, some teachers have started a Facebook page, Seattle Teachers against the Levy 2010.

hschinske said...

I think MGJ says "Hold me accountable" the same way St. Augustine used to pray "Lord, make me chaste ... but not yet."

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

Here is the presentation from the Board's quarterly update on the Strategic Plan.

There is a weird emphasis on community engagement and an eerie, disingenuous pretense of confusion around how the engagement hasn't been adequate.

I don't expect the Board to advocate for more authentic engagement at the District level since they, themselves, are guilty of some of the worst community engagement in the whole District.

Charlie Mas said...

They honestly don't seem to understand that taking questions in October and answering them (selectively) in January doesn't qualify as authentic engagement.

suep. said...

Did Supt. Goodloe-Johnson ever reveal that her "Strategic Plan" was in fact created by McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm (with the emphasis on "con") that advised the corrupt and now-extinct Enron, helped it developed its consumer-robbing practices, and whose analyses of that company helped sell the world on the lies that Enron's practices were sound?

See: "Developing a Strategic Plan for Academic Success
Summary of McKinsey & Company Analysis"


("McKinsey is a global management consulting firm that
works with businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations to
improve their effectiveness and efficiency and help them better meet the needs of
the people they serve." -- from the above SPS document.)

Maybe this is where many of SPS' current problems stem from -- a non-credible "strategic plan" created by discredited shysters.

Just a thought.

-- sue p.

seattle citizen said...

I thought it hilarious that the superintendent, with a straight face, could extoll MAP at the meeting, saying it was a great "formative" tool that allowed teachers a deeper look at students, and not mentioning at all that its primary purpose is to evaluate teachers.
Suh-weeet!

seattle citizen said...

While extolling MAP she might have added, "this fine, expensive product of NWEA, of which I am a board director. Their CEO deserves a bonus"

Guess we couldn't expect THAT.

SP said...

Here is the schedule for both MGJ's Welcome Back and also her Coffee Chat meetings, listed in the 9/01/10 School Board/Superintendent's
PowerPoint

Superintendent/CAO
Regional: ‘Welcome Back’

•Northeast: September 20 at Eckstein Middle School
•Central: September 22Central at Bailey GatzertElementary School
•Northwest: September 23 at Hamilton Middle School
•Southeast: September 28 at Aki MS
•West: September 30 at Chief Sealth High School

All regional meetings are from 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.


Superintendent
Coffee Chat Dates
•Central: Thursday, October 7 at SBOC from 6:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m.
•Northeast: Tuesday, October 12 at Jane Adams (K-8) from 9:00 a.m. -10:00 a.m.
•West Seattle:Monday, October 25 at West Seattle Elementary from 6:00 p.m. –7:00 p.m.
•South East: Wednesday, October 27 from 6:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m. at Mercer Middle
•Northwest: Tuesday, November 2 at North Beach from 9:00 a.m. -10:00a.m.

dan dempsey said...

While advocating for increased engagement the only director with an active blog stopped.

The good news, if there is any, is that Michael DeBell still has a blog
HERE.

Nicely enough there is a posting (6-02-2009) on the NSAP. How about submitting a few more NSAP comments. HERE.

The last comment was from June 16th 2009. ... maybe he thinks we just don't care.

Central Mom said...

For those superintendent coffee chats...is there a way to organize so that there is an active member of this blog community at each meeting, taking minutes? That would be a great way to share info to the wider city, get superintendent quotes and promises on record,and see whether the message is consistent for each audience.

My worst case is that she checks off the public engagement box in the fall, for the year, and there isn't even a public record of what was said. And, of course, then the board would be giving her a checkmark for "duty fulfilled" in their next review.

Lets make sure public engagement is often, and thoughtful, from MGJ's office this year.