Events This Week

Monday the 21st
Reminder of the lecture on water tonight at by Robert Glennon for the Chief Sealth Int'l High School World Water Week.  Doors open at 6:15 for music and refreshments with the lecture at 7 p.m.  Robert Glennon is the author of "Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It."

There is a discussion at Jane Addams about serving their advanced learners.  

This meeting is a Jane Addams school community discussion around how best to serve their advanced learners. Current Jane Addams families, and families considering the school are welcome to join the conversation.  It runs from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the library.  Please note this is school event (not district) with the discussion about Jane Addams only.

Oversight Work Session on Human Resources Department from 4-5:30 p.m.  This should be interesting as I haven't seen a work session on human resources previously. 

Then there is an half-hour break and another Work Session on the Strategic Plan Quarterly Update.  This also could be interesting as staff may be revealing how and where they might be pulling back because of budget issues.  This is scheduled to run from 6-7:00 p.m.

Board Community meetings
Smith-Blum - Douglass-Truth Library, 10-11:30 am
Patu - Tully's at Rainier and Genesee from 10-noon

Also, there is a Spring College Fair at Seattle University from noon to 3 p.m.  This is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Association for College Admission Counseling.  It is free and open to the public.   For more information, contact Matt Bishop, (206) 296-6971,

Also, Pinehurst K-8 is having a festival this weekend with food, music, bouncies, vendors and a silent auction.  I don't have the timeframe for this event but I know someone will let us know.  Here's a link for tickets: 


Dorothy Neville said…
The oversight work session for Human Resources is a Big Deal. I will be there and suggest that it will be interesting to follow.

These oversight work sessions are not the typical staff presentation to the board. Instead of the staff choosing the topic and controlling the message, these are supposed to be clear and simple presentations of basic district operations. The board is expecting to see Org Chart, budget and staffing, Key performance indicators, major contracts, some indication that key staff have the background to do their job (this of course refers to the giving the fellow hired to move furniture – and did not do a stellar job at that – responsibility over a million dollar budget) and a list of potential risks and opportunities for the department. Now some of these details were fleshed out at the Board Retreat and are supposed to be in effect for next Fall, so we will see how well HR follows them this week. Absolutely, per the executive committee meeting (which happened before the retreat), HR is to provide a complete Org chart.
Dorothy Neville said…
HR is notorious for incompetence. It has long been considered a department in need of overhaul. Many people have many anecdotes reporting that the failures of HR are responsible for SPS losing talented teachers. (delays in posting jobs, delays in hiring are two common themes)

Fixing HR was on MGJs radar from day one. (As I said, the problems in HR are not hidden or subtle or recent.)
Since MGJ arrived, HR has had a number of directors. I think Michael DeBell said four, but don't have that written down for verification.

The current director, Ann Chan, was given a special title of Chief Talent Officer. She has made public gaffes showing her inexperience with district operations twice. First time she had only been on the job for a couple weeks, but it was about teacher hiring phases, which was an extremely timely issue to understand given how it was related to the TfA vote.

At a recent budget workshop, Jonathan Knapp of SEA pointed out that with the “district's new aggressive interpretation of the CBA will result in more grievances and all of HR top staff new and inexperienced in this.” I asked Michael DeBell about that and he agreed. He shared Jonathan's trepidations.

Failures in HR are also linked to Payroll failures. These payroll failures have resulted in pay irregularities that frustrate teachers. Additionally a few large overpayments do not get rectified and lead to loss of assets to the district. This has been cited in each audit for the past several years.

At the board retreat, Michael pointed out that grievances that are not resolved go to the board. He has been uniformly disappointed in the district's performance. Now, of course grievances that go all the way to the board would be biased toward ones where the district was at fault. So it would be helpful to have an understanding of how often this happens and how that compares to other districts.
Dorothy Neville said…
Budget. According to materials from budget workshops, in FY10 HR had a budget or $4.1M and staffing of 33.5 FTE. Benchmarking around the state, this was 0.8% of the overall expenditures and 0.7% of the overall FTEs. This is right in line with the average for the 10 largest districts in Washington.

However, FY11 (current year) shows HR staffing of 35.63 FTE. So during a time of budget crunch, HR grew by more than 2 FTEs. I would be mighty surprised to find that other districts increased their HR staff. Therefore, we are probably high with respect to other districts.

District proposed cut to HR was 5 FTEs, down to 30.63. Since there was recent increase in HR, this is really only a cut of 2.87 FTE from FY 10.

Some board members (you can guess who) were shocked to think of any cuts to HR. They know that HR has had problems so are worried that downsizing would create more problems.

Speaking with other board members afterward (you can guess who) this sentiment is not shared. Some board members would like quality over quantity in HR.
Northender said…
Interesting observations Dorothy. I'm interested in the things that have come out of late re: lack of adequate background checks (think about Potter being given access to millions when his own wages were being garnished for income tax issues - that would be a giant red flag in my company).

Quality over quantity would seem a logical choice - though clearly, logic does not drive too many SPS decisions. I hope the Board actually steps up to the plate and holds HR to the stated expectations re: org charts etc.

Thanks for watchdogging this important issue.
Anonymous said…
My impression of Ann Chan everytime I've seen her is "timid mouse". Sure hope it's actually "quietly and respectfully authoritative" within the bowels of JSCEE, otherwise we'll be off to Director Number 5 sooner rather than later. This department needs huge improvement.

seattle citizen said…
Rehire Amy Valenti at HR. BY most accounts of building staff, Ms Valenti knew HR, responded to queries, was immensely competent. Then she was canned.

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