Disqus

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's E-mail to Staff

A number of people have let me know about an e-mail that the Superintendent sent out on Friday to all staff. She says this in the opening paragraph:

"I am writing to share some facts with you about the operations levy on the November 2 ballot. I ask you in turn to share this information with your family members and neighbors to ensure they are fully informed about the purpose of this levy request. "

She goes on to outline info about the levy and then urges people to remember to vote. She does not tell anyone how to vote.

I called and talked to the PDC about the e-mail.

Because she does give information on how much the levy is asking for and its costs to taxpayers, that is considered to be balanced. (Yes, I know that is funny that including the amount of the levy balances her message.) As well, I was told by the district that she frequently discusses policy issues via e-mail. So the e-mail is legal.

I asked a couple of people I know at UW if they ever get e-mails about ballot issues that affect UW. The answer is no and no way. UW is very sensitive to how they look to the public and even if it were legal, they wouldn't do it because of how it appears. Obviously, that's not the case for SPS. (And, from the audit, you can see that skirting ethical issues isn't a problem either.)

There is one interesting thing said in the levy that I see that is different from the language the district uses elsewhere. At the district's website, it says:

These levy funds are specifically targeted to:

Reduce the number and severity of cuts ($25.5M) that will have to be made to instructional programs and services over the next several years.

The e-mail says:

This 3-year, $48.2 M levy will:

· Reduce the number and severity of budget cuts we will need to make for 2011-2012 and beyond as a result of reduced funding and increasing costs (approximately $25.5M of total levy funds)

The key word here is "will" versus "targeted to." Will means "is going to be done" and targeted to could mean anything. At the end of the day, if the district gets the money, they can do whatever they want with it. That's how a levy works. However, if they are using wording like "will" then it's our duty to hold their feet the fire to use the levy against cuts. But again, they use the very vague "instructional programs and services" and NOT the word "classrooms."

8 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

The contents of the email are presented as "facts" but there are no "facts" about how the levy will be spent.

ParentofThree said...

Obviously they are very nervous about this levy getting tanked by voters.

See here's the thing. I have seen nothing to indicate that any widespread changes in spending is being made downtown. No cutbacks, nothing put on hold, just more and more pet project spending and the continued threat of classroom cuts.

If I saw an honest attempt to address the concerns voiced by many parents, I would be inclined to give this levy another look.

But when Peter Maier tells parents at his coffee, the audit was not that bad I know that something needs to hit these people over the head, but good!

Bird said...

But when Peter Maier tells parents at his coffee, the audit was not that bad I know that something needs to hit these people over the head, but good!

I'm convinced that many people will not take the audit seriously because there was nothing in that would send someone to jail. The reasoning goes it's just a little incompetence, and isn't there always a little imcompetence?

I'd expect this from the general public, but I'd hope the members of the board, being better informed, would have more clarity of vision.

Chris S. said...

What about the "hockey stick" graph of the number of findings since you've been in office, eh Peter?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bird, wait for it. I think there may be something in the audit that is a prosecutable offense. It just takes digging and investigation.

PurpleWhite said...

What shocked me about this email was that we were previously sent an email a few weeks before that said "no employee of the SPS can use any kind of school property including copy machines AND email" or something to that effect - for the levy. Seems a FINE FINE line she's walking here...Does she even care that we gave her a no confidence vote?

Real Arnold said...

@PurpleWhite: "What shocked me about this email was that we were previously sent an email a few weeks before that said "no employee of the SPS can use any kind of school property including copy machines AND email" or something to that effect - for the levy. Seems a FINE FINE line she's walking here...Does she even care that we gave her a no confidence vote?"

Can you tell us (me) when that email was sent, and who sent it?

Anonymous said...

Hey Charlie,
this levy might pass, because there is so much money involved and so many ignorant people with voting power. Superintendent is thinking that the Seattle Way will continue - you know, the Seattle Way is where people here do a stupid thing even though they know it is stupid. The District needs this levy badly - those huge salaries are paid with Levy money. Looking at the General Fund balances the Audit Report, there is no way General Fund could get salaries paid. Do auditors look at the Salary payment Matrix or just the numbers?