Seattle School Board Meeting - My Testimony Tonight
About TFA – what a long, strange trip it has been. It seems apparent at this point that our former superintendent didn’t have any real donors lined up – she just assumed they would materialize. Another in the long list of mistakes she made.
It’s good to have that settled except that the press release doesn’t make it clear whether Seattle Foundation is paying for two years or one. I tried to get confirmation from Communications but they said they didn’t know and I should ask the Foundation and I have been trying with no success. It might be good to iron out that point.
One delicate issue is that the Seattle Foundation named several donors. Among them are two that have contributed heavily to the campaigns of the directors running for reelection.
I would just gently point out that it is one thing to have campaign supporters who you know care about particular issues or programs. It’s another thing altogether to have campaign supporters who not only care about a program, but are paying for the program to be in the district.
You have to be your own best ethical judge but it gives me pause.
On a separate issue, I sent you all a copy of an e-mail I sent today to Mr. English, the district’s legal counsel. He had stated at a committee meeting that there was some confusion over where $20M was from the sale of several district properties.
Mr. English let me know that (1) the money is in one of two places and (2) there will be a status report at the Audit and Finance meeting in October and a full accounting in November.
He was unable to answer my question about whether the regular payment on the albatross that is this building is going to happen on time. My understanding is that the CEP fund is where that payment money comes from and the likely place the proceeds from any property sales would have gone.
Now I’m not a Board member but if I were, and there was ANY question about where $20M of taxpayer dollars had gone, I wouldn’t be waiting until the second week of October to find out where it was. And I certainly wouldn’t wait until November for a full accounting.
If we learned anything from the last school year, it is to NOT take anyone’s word that something is done unless you, yourselves, see it happen. This is not disrespecting anyone’s work or saying they are being less than truthful – it is your fiduciary duty as a director.
We hear a lot of talk about accountability and transparency. We hear that the district has learned much from the state audits. We hear that there are systems and checks and balances in place so we don’t have these kinds of missteps.
I would get out ahead of this one if I were you. You owe it to the students of this district and the taxpayers of this city. That money needs to be accounted for by next week, not next month or the month after.
End of statement
CEP = Capital Eligible Projects - a separate fund that keeps the money from sale/rental/lease of properties and investment earnings. It allows for a variety of capital projects, initiatives, etc. that typically aren't covered in levies.
There were several donors to the Seattle Foundation TFA fund. Three of them, Matt Griffin, Evelyn Rozner and James Faulstich, have contributed heavily to all the incumbents' campaigns. (To point out, the average campaign contribution is usually between $25-100.)
Mr. Griffin gave Maier and Sundquist $1K each and Carr and Martin-Morris, $2k each.
Ms. Rozner gave Carr and Martin-Morris each $2k and Sundquist $1k.
Mr. Faulstich gave Carr, Martin-Morris and Sundquist each $250.
Peter Maier has the largest campaign fund at $37k, followed by Sundquist at $28k, Harium at $22k and Carr at $20k.
All of the challengers are well under $10K except for Michelle Buetow who is at $13k.
More than 50% of Sherry Carr's campaign has come from 10 people/households including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife.