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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seattle Times Headline: The Times Recommends Rejection of Seattle's School Levy

I thought Lendee was joking when he/she posted that.

I am surprised and shocked to my core. The Times has been so seemingly myopic in their education vision, so one-sided in their coverage and now this. I do think that seeing that other groups (the 11th district Dems, the 43rd district Dems and the League of Women Voters) expressing lack of confidence in the district helped. I think having staff on the Committee (Ken Berry of Van Asselt and Eric Muhs of Ballard) lends an inside voice. But I think that Dorothy Neville and her quiet, persuasive manner have made many people listen.

I don't know what it means (in many directions). Will it influence the outcome of the election? It is hard to say. Someone at Hamilton asked me last night after I spoke about the levy, "How do you know if the levy fails that the district will take it as a referendum against its direction or if it is the economy?"

Well, just like EVERY election, you cannot say why voters went one way. There's the economy, there's the passage of two levies already this year and there's some sense of mistrust/frustration about public education. Then there's the smaller things like the actual reasoning behind another tax for public education, leadership issues, the audit, the vote of no confidence, etc. And the biggest one of all is that people in Seattle just plain care about kids in this city and vote yes for levies.

Is it a game changer? I don't know. But I feel relief that no matter the outcome, more people have listened and considered our message.

17 comments:

owlhouse said...

Melissa, can you add the link? I'm sure everyone wants to see for themselves!


http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorials/2013164155_edit15levy.html


Thanks to Dorothy and all who've worked to raise awareness on funding priorities and accountability.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, duh, look at me, forgetting the link. Sure.

Aunty Broad said...

I'm actually voting NO because of carving-station-Gate.

I know, it seems petty, and there really are much better reasons.

But it's a damning metaphor for every arrogant, know-it-all, F-U to taxpayers, teachers, students, and parents have put up with from this rotten Superintendent and School Board.

Plus Dr. No-Confidence never apologized for it, and never gave the money back.

The sooner she hits the road, the better.

Don't look back, Maria. Just keep driving.

ParentofThree said...

My only beef with this (and I am very glad they did it) is this statement, absolving G-J of any wrongdoing.

"A "no" vote is adults sending a message to adults — not so much to Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson as to the bureaucracy dug in behind her."

Really? OK, whatever you say dear.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can say with a straight face "not so much to Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson as to the bureaucracy dug in behind her." when the Superintendent has been here for three years. After about a year or two they are HER bureaucracy. Then again if that is the only way that the Seattle Times can tell their readers to vote NO, I'll take it.
~CE

ParentofThree said...

Yeah, voting NO sends the message to the little worker bees downtown, enuf of your entitlement spending, you worker bees...

No, it is sending a message not ONLY to the super, but the board of directors, who on the ballot are the sponsors of the levy.

Voted NO!!!

The First Arnold said...

Quoted from the Seattle Times:

"A "no" vote is adults sending a message to adults — not so much to Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson as to the bureaucracy dug in behind her."

I am posting this in hopes that Bill Gates, District and Board of Directors is reading.

Clear message...we don't want our tax payer dollars funding educational research for Bill Gates! Keep the dollars in our children's classrooms. The classrooms are in desperate need of help.

Finally, someone has listened. Thanks Seattle Times!

The First Arnold said...

You can add to the list of bureaucrats---politicians and business leaders!!

Let's make Seattle the city that says NO to this non-sense.

Keep up the good work!

Magua said...

Assigning at least partial blame to the entrenched bureaucracy behind MGJ is a fair point.

Yes, the Times needed to cover its own rear/unyielding support, but the district's audit problems have been around a LOT longer than MGJ.

A big problem of hers (okay, one of many) has been trying to turn the bureaucracy to her own ends rather than just cleaning it up.

That said, it's fun to speculate who might have thrown the nameless bureaucracy under the bus to preserve MGJ's good name? That's a pretty short list... hmmmmmmm.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually, I think some of that bureaucracy talk came from Dorothy and I speaking with the editorial board at the Times. What we pointed out is that many of the issues covered in the state audit were in the Moss-Adams report (see the main page if you want to read it). So these problems are long-standing. I also pointed out to them that you can change all the procedures you want but if the culture of a bureaucracy remains the same, nothing will really change.

mirmac1 said...

It is a culture of entitlement. Some feel they don't have comply with state regulations. They don't have to run themselves like an honest enterprise using other peoples money.

I'm sick of hearing staff parrot MGJ's admonishments "oh budget cuts, rightsizing, fewer services" followed with "but excellence for all, All accountable." My ass.

dan dempsey said...

but the district's audit problems have been around a LOT longer than MGJ.

Let us not forget it was MGJ that recommended the Board approve the contract that was not there for $800,000 on 2-3-10 and Maeir, Martin-Morris, Sundquist, and Carr voted to approve.

No competitive bid, no exemptions from competitive bidding, contract as written did not match action report .... no problem because we are in a hurry.

The rerun on 4-7-10 still failed what state law requires to be exempt from competitive bidding; but Carr, Maier, Martin-Morris, and Sundquist voted to approve again without any additional explanation for these votes.

These folks play by their own rules. It is time to fire MGJ with cause.

DO NOT give these folks another $48 million at this time.

Entitlement to the MAX seems to be the central office view.

Charlie Mas said...

I continue to be astonished by people who think they can say how this money will be spent. They clearly don't understand that money is fungible. Once the levy money goes into the District's Operations budget it is indistinguishable from any of the other money in that budget. Any $16 million of spending can be attributed to the levy.

The question is: what spending will the District forego if the levy fails? What spending would they make with it that they wouldn't make without it?

The answer, of course, is their lowest priority spending that totals $16 million.

So all of those things that they swear are absolutely critical will not be cut. Instead the cuts will come from spending that is less critical.

Maybe they will defer their web site upgrade. Maybe they will defer some more maintenance. Maybe they will defer hiring consultants. Maybe they will cut back on assessments.

I don't know what they will cut, but if it is anything in the classrooms, then they will be saying that their other efforts are higher priorities than the classroom.

Sandy Blight said...

our school funds are in danger. Board members have become naturalized to a laissez faire attitude and they do not seek any answers: Instead, they accept excuses from the Superintendents team. At stake is $500Million and the expected levy of $48.
The biggest excuse at this time is that the District does not have the right tools, or "Systems and Structure" as they call it. As of today, the District continues to hire outside consultants to work on 36 vague projects. No one has any information and it is not clear whiter there have been any improvements in performance, after the District has spent more than $1.5 million on consultants, project management and so forth. In fact there are undefined positions such as Project manager and Director of Governance - $300 thousand of your money.
Then there is the real problem - competency. There is an adage about workmen and their tools, and this adage should be about workmen and their qualifications in Seattle. Would you let a long time untested nurse do your heart surgery? If you expect a competent doctor to do such a task, why is it that you allow a long time District Clerk to look after your $500 million? IS there a problem with accepting that the District has no qualified Accountants with a License handling our money? Is it possible that the Superintendent has hired her friends to play with public funds?
This time, use your vote. Say NO - no more money until the Superintendent gets some competent staff to work on District financial statements. One of my friends tells me that the Finance committee cannot even look at the August financial statements as of the last committee meeting? And how is that? It is October.
Say No, and stop the practice of hiring consultants to play with ideas that do not bear fruit. Take for example the VAX project- after attending many Operations Committee meetings, I hear that we have spent close to $5million and yet, the VAX migration is far from coming to a successful close.
Say NO, and you will have some positive outcomes. Vote Yes, and expect to see the same of what you have seen before...Crowded classrooms, Teacher lay offs and a Superintendents team that loads $1million of your money in their pockets - Say no to Holly Ferguson, Donald Kennedy, John Duggan Harman, Bradley Bernatek and Lynn Van-deventer. Say NO, Vote NO and you will have sent the right message.

Sandy Blight said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dorothy Neville said...

District responds! Teachers report that they got email from the district AND from SEA supporting the LEVY and the SCPTSA has also sent an email to PTA leaders supporting the levy. All since Thursday's big reveal at the Seattle Times. Coincidence?

The District also posted a NEW! Power! Point! explaining the levy. See for yourself here.

Two items I found interesting. First, they do not seem to get it that the thing we object to is this insistence on fully funding the Strategic Plan at the expense of kids! Pointing out that the Strategic Plan needs us to say yes on the levy? Not so logical if they had been paying attention.

Second, and more intriguing in my opinion, is page 7 with this bullet point:

"Decisions about how to allocate this category of levy funds (and all revenues) will be made by the School Board, as part of each annual budget development process."

Is the district throwing the school board under the bus, blaming them for the allocation of budget money and cuts? That's not really fair, since even though it should be true, it's not. Does the School board get a clear enough budget, clear enough tools that they can intelligently allocate funds? Not yet, but they should.

So this is the ideal -- the School Board ought to be deciding how to allocate revenue. The School Board sets policy and the way to ensure that policy is being implemented is through the budget. The District's budget is their policy in action.

I plan to print off page seven and carry it with me at all times, in case I run into a board member and we get into a discussion. Just to remind them that the elected School Board is the body that sets policy and puts that policy into action by adopting the budget.

Anonymous said...

I want to hear more from Sandy Blight. You sound as though you have a great deal of info-- as a district employee? Can you describe the 36 vague projects? And who is this District Clerk in charge of 500 million? Point us in the right direction and public records requests can be made.

PJ