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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seattle's Child Posts Candidate Responses to Questionnaires

Seattle's Child magazine sent a questionnaire to all School Board candidates and it appears that they all answered it.  Here's a link to their site so you can read all of them at your leisure. I'll read the incumbents first. 
Peter - Very funny as he said that he keeps a "careful watch on the district budget."  Okay then how did it escape your notice that the budget for the Small Business program morphed from $100k to nearly $1M?   He also says that the SBD program was ended but doesn't note that there is discussion to revamp it.

He also claims we saved $4M in transportation costs (and that could be true) but we never see the documentation on this issue. 

He also says he would like the public testimony to be more "satisfying" for both the speaker and the Board but give no ideas how to do that.   Every Board member I can remember has said this and yet nothing changes. 

He gives his usual rap about TFA (not mentioning that there is no donor yet for the payments for next year). 

Sherry - she talks a lot about the policies but as Charlie says, what good are policies without enforcement? 

She is very careful in providing a lot of detail to the work done.  She does continue to say one-third cut in "central administration" rather than central office which where people would have expected the cuts to come. 

She does a good job in expressing what qualities she thinks a good superintendent should have but oddly, doesn't mention parents. 

She mentions getting input on issues and how the Board works on an issue for months.  And yet, we have about a week's notice on capacity management meetings, an issue that affects every child in the district.   She mentioned best practices in Boston for engagement but nothing specific.  I'll have to look that one up. 

Here's a telling sentence on TFA:

"TFA teachers are not unqualified but rather qualified via alternate means."  Okay, we'll have to disagreed that a college degree and 5 weeks of training makes a person qualified to teach.  And again, the mantra of diversity and math/science, neither of which are really true for the hired TFAers.

She says this on the NSAP:

We must continue to accommodate out of attendance area siblings to every extent possible.  We must develop a sustainable plan for supporting APP growth in Seattle Public Schools.  Ensuring that language immersion, Montessori, expeditionary learning or other alternative learning formats, and STEM are available to all students is a priority.

Okay but what are you doing about it?

Harium - He "strongly" supports Susan Enfield as superintendent.   He says, "Because I am well aware of the qualifications for such a position, and the pool of individuals available with these qualifications, I would advocate that Dr. Enfield is, indeed, the most qualified person nationally for this job. I am concerned that the time and cost of a national search would impair the ability of our district to maintain progress with our limited dollars. Dr. Enfield is the right person at the right time for our district."

Good to know early on.

Interesting - he supports public input at committee meetings.  I haven't hear this before and that would be a welcome change. 

On capital projects:
First, we must develop a clear understanding of our capacity needs for the next 10 years. This will help us set the priorities for what capital projects are needed. The next step is to create a detail schedule of preventative maintenance programs for each building by major systems. It is more cost-effective to maintain systems than it is to repair and replace individual system components due to lack of maintenance. This needs to become a high priority item.

Great, but where was this thinking four years ago?

Steve - I love the way they are all touting the Audit & Finance Committee meeting twice a month.  They had to do that in order to cover all the work because of the poor management and oversight of the district.   Lemons into lemonade, I guess. 

Now Steve wades into dangerous ground because he says that they made deep cuts to staffing at Central "Office" and cut 90 staff for this year.  Again, the documentation please because I think those cuts were to central "administration" and not central "office." 

He didn't want to touch the superintendent question and deferred it. 

He mentioned doing more surveys of community and says "properly designed..."  and yes, that is the key.

13 comments:

Meg said...

Regarding "central office" vs. central administration.

There is a definition in OSPI for Central Administration. Every district in the state files their financials using this category and its subcategories.

There is no definition for "central office," other than what you choose.

The 1/3 "cut" to Central Administration that Sherry may be speaking of was accomplished not by a reduction in expense, but by the reclassification of around 100 professional development staff (coaches) from Central Administration to... Teaching. Do they teach students? No. In fact, the job description for coaches used to explicitly state that "this constitutes a release from full-time teaching duties." The reclassification muddied the financial waters, making it hard for everyone - the public, the board and even district administration - to see how much is being spent on direct teaching, operational expenses (like transportation or food services) and administration. Sherry can praise the supposed 1/3 reduction until she's blue in the face, but I'll repeat: a reclassification of an expense is different than a reduction in expense.

If professional development (or consulting teachers - name your misclassified administrative position that isn't billed to Central Administration) is truly a legitimate part of its current expense segment, then break it out so everyone can see how much is being spent on PD for teachers. Doing so will maintain clarity - for everyone - about how much is being spent on what.

Steve, in many respects, is on safer ground talking about "central office." It can mean whatever he wants it to.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks for the clarification, Meg.

Sahila said...

Time to spread the word.... SEATTLE PEOPLE - please ask your friends/family/colleagues to "like" this Facebook page and to VOTE for Marty McLaren for Position #6 on the Seattle School Board..


Marty McLaren for Seattle School Board

Schoolhouse - OUR House: Learning Together in Truth, Trust and Transparency with Marty McLaren!

Charlie Mas said...

I have posted comments on the Seattle Child web page in which I told the truth about the incumbents. I suggest others do the same.

Sahila said...

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Meg said...

I guess I posted more of a lecture than a clarification. Thanks for being nice about it.

anonymous said...

My child is taking his second year of Spanish in middle school. Next year as a freshman in HS he will skip Spanish I and be placed into Spanish II. My question is this. Is Spanish II in HS the equivalent of the second year of Spanish in middle school. Will he be repeating the same thing over again?

Anybody have experience with this?

Also how does he get HS credit for the two years of MS Spanish that he took? I understand it is possible but don't know what to do to get it.

LIS

Eric B said...

LIS- my own experience was that I took two years of middle school French, which placed me between French 2 and 3 in the high school placement test. I went into the French 2 class, and I think it was a good choice, since I would have struggled a lot in 3. As always, your mileage may vary.

anonymous said...

oops sorry, I meant to post my question about Spanish in the "open" thread. Sorry.

Lis

hschinske said...

Is Spanish II in HS the equivalent of the second year of Spanish in middle school.

It's not supposed to be. The slower pace in middle school is a pretty standard thing as far as I know (it was true back when I was in school in the seventies). You get occasional teachers who get through more material than is planned; I think I have heard of unusually good MS language teachers who routinely had lots of their students place into third-year rather than second-year language classes on entering high school. But the curriculum is not generally planned that way.

Hamilton has three years of language instruction, and seems to me I was told that it still varies which level the students place into for high school (after doing what presumably amounts to a year and a half at the high school rate).

Helen Schinske

Chris S. said...

It is interesting that Harium is throwing his support behind the superintendent so completely. Didn't that kind of backfire last time? Methinks it's not the voters he wants to please...

dan dempsey said...

"It is interesting that Harium is throwing his support behind the superintendent so completely."
----------

Well Harium .... has supported and taken lots of positions that defy logic and evidence and occasionally the law.

All four directors up for reelection filed declarations during a recall sufficiency hearing in which they stated they did not consider it their job to file a transcript of evidence that was certified to be correct in legal appeals of school board decisions. Preferring to believe that responsibility could be delegated to staff. (Read the Law .. it cannot)

RCW 28A 645.020 was ignored by the Board in regard to appeals of School closures and the $800,000 New Tech Network Contract.... => Appeals Court hearings coming on 11-3-2011.

The District did not meet the legal requirements of the RCW because the Directors did not do their job.

Susan Enfield, CAO at the time, submitted the transcript of evidence on NTN but failed to certify it correct. In fact she submitted a document that was not what she claimed it to be. This document was used as a foundation for the New Tech Network action report of March 12, 2010 submitted by Goodloe-Johnson with CAO Enfield as lead person......

Harium and the entire Board (except Betty Patu) voted to make CAO Enfield interim Superintendent about 12 months after March 12, 2010.

Harium needs to publicly support Susan Enfield and a bunch of other junk to be consistent with his past actions..... All of which should lead voters to reject him in the coming election.

Adam Thomas said...

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Montessori Schools