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Monday, March 07, 2011

News Roundup

The district has announced the appointment of Robert Boesche as interim CFO for SPS. From the district's news release:

Boesche, who started his job Monday, has served as an interim Chief Financial Officer for several Puget Sound school districts, including Edmonds, Shoreline, Vashon Island, Monroe and Kent. He also was employed as Chief Financial Officer for the Northshore School District from June 1989 until he retired in November 2001.

He looks like a "fixer" CFO. At least he has a lot of experience.

The Times states that Pegi McEvoy, the director of health and safety, is the interim COO. It seems odd that the district didn't include this information with the press release about the CFO.

I know Pegi and I like her but I have my doubts that she's the right person. Maybe as a placeholder because while I know she knows the district, her role in health and safety doesn't exactly qualify her for operations. I wish the district had released some more info on this appointment.

Next up, well, look who President Obama wants to appoint to be ambassador to China - Gary Locke. All fine and well but before he goes anywhere, Secretary Locke should compel Fred Stephens to talk to any and all investigators into this financial scandal. It would be very embarrassing for both Locke and Obama if word got out about our scandal with highly charged racial overtones. It seems likely that Rob McKenna got Gary Ikeda, the former lead counsel for SPS, to speak to the investigator for the Board. It would seem like a good idea for Gary Locke to do the same for Stephens.

In the Times, Mayor McGinn weighs in on what should happen next in an op-ed. I was highly pleased to see him mention the Moss Adams report:

Fiscal and management problems at the school district are, unfortunately, not new. Eight years ago, Superintendent Joseph Olchefske resigned after the district overspent its budget by $35 million. In the aftermath of that scandal, accounting firm Moss Adams offered numerous recommendations to the school district to prevent mismanagement from happening again. Those recommendations weren't fully implemented. Olchefske's successors, Raj Manhas and Goodloe-Johnson, failed to change the culture of the school district. As a result, public confidence in the schools has declined.

He suggests getting a financial expert. The recent hiring of an interim CFO with school district experience seems to fill that suggestion.

He also says to "develop a culture of accountability." (I hear the far off roar of Charlie's laughter.) But, the Mayor is right.

The third suggestion, which the Board seems slightly bristly over is "accept outside help." Kay Smith-Blum had sniffed elsewhere that "we have our own fiscal controls." Uh, Kay, three bad audits later, how's that working for the district? The Mayor says:

City government can provide staff, management and fiscal expertise to the district. But we will do so only if the district is serious about change.

Hmm, "only if the district is serious about change." Is that the sound of a gauntlet being thrown down? A warning shot across the bow?

He ends with this:

The school district has to work with its partners and the public and demonstrate there will be no more secrets, no more sacred cows. Kids come first. That is my commitment to the parents, children, and people of Seattle. I ask that the Seattle Public Schools join me in that commitment.

Also, the Seattle Council PTSA finally did have something to say about the crisis. They basically say "hey did you hear? We had a problem and the Superintendent and COO were terminated."

From the their letter:

The Seattle Council PTSA would like to extend a warm welcome to Dr. Enfield.

I wish our Council would advocate more for SPS parents. This is one reason Stand for Children and CPPS came into town because the PTSA is about fundraising at a school level and not a lot at a city level. I mean that with no disrespect because I like Lauren McGuire and I hope under her leadership the Seattle Council PTSA become a more active voice for parents.

PTSA is the largest parent group in the city, the state and the nation. We should use that power.

8 comments:

Grace said...

Pegi McEvoy-- is this anywhere in her expertise or background, to take on interim role? I'd like to give her benefit of doubt. Does anyone know?

Observer said...

I've always known the standardized essay test scoring was bad, but I had no idea how bad it really was.


Observer said...

(sorry for the previous incomplete post)

I've always known the standardized essay test scoring was bad, but I had no idea how bad it really was.

http://www.citypages.com/2011-02-23/news/inside-the-multimillion-dollar-essay-scoring-business/


So who is verifying the graders' work? Who oversees and certifies the test results?

Anonymous said...

With all the Pottergate info, I feel like we had dropped the ball on class sizes and functional capacity. I'm not sure of what would be the consequences of suspending the high school state assessment as a graduation requirement, but I would definitely like to see less overcrowding in our schools:

http://www.ourvoicewashingtonea.org/

Do you have any thoughts on that one?

One of many concerned parents

none1111 said...

Here's a NYT article that might deserve its own blog post. Especially in the time of a new Superintendent.

Coming Together to Give Schools a Boost

It's about how to get everyone at the same table and working together, and how to gather relevant data and use it to help students. Couple quotes:

"Improving schools by using data for progress, not punishment"

"The first meetings focused on boosting college readiness, but the focus soon expanded. Robert Reifsnyder, the president of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, recalled: “Someone said, ‘We’re focusing on the ninth grade, but these problems really start in middle school. Someone else said, ‘Truth be told, it starts in grade school.’ Someone else said, ‘Listen folks if we don’t get started by kindergarten, the battle’s half over.’ And finally we said, ‘This is a pre-school issue — it’s about kindergarten readiness.’ ” That set the tone for an effort that focused on the full education continuum."

There is a focus on data, which is NOT a bad thing. The key is how you choose your metrics and then how you gather and make use of the data. There is no point in implementing any type of program unless you have some kind of way to measure its success. The big problem is you need all parties at the table, and they all need to be willing to work together for the common good, in this case, all of our students.

none1111 said...

Some comments seem to have disappeared from this thread. Not marked-as-deleted, but just plain disappeared. :-(

Anonymous said...

Why is the district offered a choice in the matter of getting serious about change? A district is allowed to be an accounting mess if it chooses to be one? Wow. The SEC is a public entity that exist for the purpose of making sure the private "investors" are protected when money is at stake. How is the public investor protected when its money is at stake?
-saddened by reality of this mess

WV: this situation nagizate(s) me.

StepJ said...

So now she is apologizing?