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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New T-Shirt: I Survived the Executive Committee Meeting (Part 1)

People have often asked me, "Why don't you run for office?"  The painful slog that is sometimes the Board meetings and/or committee meetings is one reason.  Today's Executive Committee meeting was one such experience.  Started at 8:30 am and ran probably till noon (probably because I left at 11:45 am).  This is Part 1. 

Not that it wasn't chock-a-block full of news - it was.  But Brian Rosenthal from the Times left early (and surprisingly right before a good part) and Charlie, a twitchy guy on his own, was fairly chomping at the bit to get out of there.

I'll start backwards because that's one of the most interesting parts.


Good news - they picked the "focus group' community for the superintendent search.  For the most part, a good list with touches of greatness and one truly bad choice.   But I have faith in the abilities of the majority of the committee.

Bad news - the process was a mess.  I hate to be this hard on the Executive Committee but this was NOT good organization or vetting.  They all seemed tired or unsure or in a hurry (but I won't name names).  For the most important job in the district, they did almost everything but get blindfolded and play "pin the name on the committee".   Why it happened this way, I don't know.

I am not at liberty to say who is on the committee because they need to ask the finalists and have made provisions for alternates in case some people need to drop out.  There was a hand-out of those who applied but it didn't seem like the committee had read it or had much of a clue about certain people on it.  One thing that Director DeBell did do (and I think it was a good idea) was to include at least five random picks for the alternates.  This allows for an eyes-shut diversity and the picks turned out to be good ones.

The committee is 25 people plus several alternates.  There is diversity (although this got to be problematic for several reasons.)  I think in trying to reach out in all directions, the committee made some de facto choices (like having finding a business-type or someone from the Alliance). There are several strong personalities on the committee but I think they will balance each other out.

Keep in mind, it is unlikely that the public will ever hear from or meet the finalists.  This has been made clearer and clearer.  I attended Sherry Carr's community meeting on Saturday, this topic came up and she demurred.  Then, a worker bee from Stand for Children said that she had been tasked by Shannon Campion, their leader, to organize some community meetings to meet the finalists.

Now Sherry Carr has a champion poker face but even she did a bit of a double-take.  Stand thought it would just borrow the finalists and have meetings?  Hilarious.  Sherry said she didn't think there would be time in the process for meetings.

So this Committee is very important because they will literally be the eyes and ears for the public.  I would think they might have the final announcement sometime next week.

Other items:

Snow day waivers
This was also a topic at the last Audit & Finance Committee meeting.  The district has a confusing explanation (I'm with Kay on this one) about how they would lose money from the state AND it would cost us money if they do have them.  There is also the issue of how useful those end-of-the-year days are.  However, even if they don't put them in, then the (new) last days of school become useless.  Where does it end?

Some of the Board seem to want them in anyway as we would be down to 174 days of school by then.  Dr. Enfield promised some messaging for the Board around them but it still seems up in the air as to whether they will happen or not.

Money from sales of district property
Apparently there is some sum of money from the sale of each property to go towards youth and family centers in these buildings.  It is a bit unclear to me how that was decided or when the centers would get the money.

Acknowledgment of South Shore-SPS partnership
When speaking of recognitions at the School Board meetings, Director Smith-Blum asked that South Shore/New School be recognized for the now 10-year partnership with the district.  Holly Ferguson mentioned she had a meeting with LEV folks today and would ask about it.  That does remind me to ask about the MOU between New School and SPS given that New School is now in LEV's fold.  Is that MOU still valid?  What will the new one look like with LEV?

MAP
At the April 4th School Board meeting, an NWEA rep will be there to talk about MAP issues.  It is likely there will be a public meeting with this rep for parents to come and ask their burning questions about MAP and MAP scores.  Stay tuned for more info on that meeting.

Legislative Update
Nothing much to report as committee meetings just started today.  Ms. Ferguson mentioned almost every ed bill but the charter school ones.  Odd.   She also noted that School Board members now have the same restrictions as other candidates on campaign contributions.

Apparently, though, the idea of a "25th" month (the Dems idea of waiting one extra day to pay districts' money due them) may become a forever rule and thus remain harmless even if the economy doesn't recover.

Also, the new teacher/principal evaluation legislation syncs up with SPS's policy fairly well, according to Ms. Ferguson.  Director Smith-Blum noted that the State came to SPS for information on our policy already in place.  DeBell said he receive frequent questions on how it is working and would like some talking points to stay informed.

Facilities
There was discussion of how SPS doesn't get as much from the State as other districts due to not building NEW buildings but renovating our old ones.  Another issue is that SPS has more square footage per student than other districts but as Ms. Ferguson pointed out, we have older buildings, many with higher ceilings and wider halls.  She also said the district has many joint-use agreements with the City and thus had built many full-size basketball courts to accommodate that use.  She said that the district needs to talk with the legislature about these issues.

BEX IV
Coming work is ramping up with the FACMAC, BEX Oversight Ctm work and the upcoming community meetings in early April.

Seattle University Lead Partner MOU
On the heels of the great news that our partner for Bailey Gatzert received an national award for their service to the school and its community, came the continuing agreement with SPS and SU.  What was interesting is that Mr. English, lead counsel, made a statement about Creative Approach schools that was something to the effect that a school would have to ask the Board to use an outside partner.  And, that the Board had to know, in advance, what policies were being waived.  I'll have to call him for clarification.

NEWS
The district is part of an organization of a group of districts that is suing the state over fully-funding school.  Each district is asked to pay $1 per student for legal costs and the district is committed to continuing with the group.  The money is part of the Legal department's budget.  (NEWS is the acronym for the group but I can't find the sheet that spells it out).

Alliance for Education MOU
Another fascinating section of the meeting.  The MOU was on the agenda and basically the Alliance wants more money for taking care of various school accounts.  It was explained that the Alliance wanted the cost for taking care of these fiscal issues to go up from 5% to 7 1/2%.  Plus apparently, the Alliance takes some interest for every $25k that they hold for school groups.

DeBell explained this is a big help for new groups who don't have the fiscal acumen and there is a lot of volunteer turnover at schools so it is a help to have a continuity at one end.  He said the bigger donor groups like the high school foundations don't use the Alliance's services.

There was a lot of vagueness as to exactly what the Alliance had been doing for years and who was paying what and what the Alliance's take was.

So leave it to Director Smith-Blum who cut to the chase - "Bottom line, we are reimbursing for 5% of what?"  I take time here to reiterate what Smith-Blum let the entire room know - she has done fund-raising for years and knows this subject very well.

Anyway, the answer was a bit vague so Smith-Blum pressed on about how much Alliance staff time was taken for this work.  The answer was about 1.4 FTE.  So Smith-Blum does some back of the envelope calculations and said, "This seems a bit high to me.  I think 5% is about right."  Could have heard a pin drop.

Now Charlie, the numbers guy, has been looking askew at the Committee because, as he wrote in a note to me, "why doesn't this go out to bid?"  Yes, how do we know that 5% has been a good deal and now the Alliance deserves 7.5%?   Honestly, I don't know but if it is work we are contracting with the Alliance to do, maybe it should go out to bid.

Sara Morris and her aide, Amy, did not look happy.  I'm thinking they thought this would be a fairly easy sell given that, well, they are the Alliance.  Morris said that 5% is the "extreme" low-end.

Smith-Blum pointed out that the Alliance would get $133k at 7.5% (based off a sum I didn't hear).  She said that it would be better to pay two Alliance staffers $50k each than pay out that sum.  DeBell did not look happy at this point but Smith-Blum had the one-two of (a) she's a business woman and (b) she's done a ton of fundraising.  Enfield looked at Noel Treat and she, too, looked very unhappy.

DeBell struggled on and said the rate had been negotiated between staff and the Alliance.  Smith-Blum just said maybe it would be better to get the full information to the entire Board and this should wait for Introduction at a Board meeting.  The Alliance staff left, looking none too happy.

48 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Thank you Ms Smith-Blum for asking the questions that MUST be asked. Sh*t, figuring the Visa charge, SPS is out a whole lotta of dime.

Po3 said...

Why all these unhappy looks anytime basic fiscal oversight is mentioned?

Anonymous said...

volunteers come and go because ...

THEY AREN'T PAID!

133k or 100k could cover a couple of people actually ...

nevermind.

AllianceForPowerpoint

Catherine said...

Oh... I LOVE IT... the accounting services SHOULD go out to competitive bid.

And lets not forget that at least in the past, the Alliance harvested names from that accounting they do to use for their own fundraising. The PTAs should be charging the Alliance per name harvested.

dan dempsey said...

NEWS
The district is part of an organization of a group of districts that is suing the state over fully-funding school. Each district is asked to pay $1 per student for legal costs and the district is committed to continuing with the group. The money is part of the Legal department's budget. (NEWS is the acronym for the group but I can't find the sheet that spells it out).


Network for Excellence in Washington Schools.

Here is the website for NEWS.

So the McCleary case was a winner in Superior Court. Then the WA State Supreme Court tossed the big curveball with its ruling .... that it is OK to keep violating students constitutional rights because in 2009 the State put a plan in place to fund schools adequately by 2018.

So what is happening at this moment?

Are we waiting until 2019 for next move?

Someone said...

That is an excellent point - why doesn't the accting go for bid? And why all the unhappy faces among senior staff? I am not a fan of conspiracy theories but everytime one of these circumstances gets reported that "appear" to entail a back room deal - it makes me soooo stinkin' angry. That's essentially my money you are playing around with, as a taxpayer. I'm willing to bet someone else could do just as spiffy a job for a much better deal. Is it worth writing to the Board on this one?

seattle citizen said...

"...the new teacher/principal evaluation legislation syncs up with SPS's policy fairly well, according to Ms. Ferguson."

I expect that the LEV/Stand/OSC/State law on evaluations is written such that test scores are actually some percentage of evaluations. The SPS evaluation currently in use "merely" uses test scores to trigger closer observation (a teacher could be dropped into the "lowest" level of the evaluatory system, and would be subject to more scrutiny/procedure)

My guess is that LEV/Stand/OSC will demand that districts use test scores as an actual percentage of an eval, rather than as a trigger of closer scrutiny. Because, of course, Gates->Alliance->LEV->A+, with Stand On Children, is really about helping teachers get better at their practice...

seattle citizen said...

And of course the Seattle Times has already come down against those dang unions regarding evaluations:Details of new educator-evaluation system will matter
The tragedy is that the Times, and all the others who constantly bash the union, are framing evaluation as a mere bargaining/work point, ignoring the detrimental effects of the massive swing to testing on teaching and learning.

The Times opines:
"...subject to union bargaining, setting up the potential for havoc...The Washington Education Association was able to weaken the evaluation bill...specific policies will also be bargained...That obviously waters down the original intent...Expect broad inconsistencies as local districts struggle to reach agreement with unions. More districts may face strikes..."

Perhaps the community could help refocus the discussion on what these tests do to education, rather than on how the union is supposedly merely an impediment to collaborative changes to make teaching better.

Anonymous said...

The sooner we can choose a group other than The Alliance to handle this "pass-through" the better. It should be done by a neutral party. The Alliance is clearly not a neutral party and aligns its interests with the Corporate Ed Reform in town.

Not Appropriate.

And P.S. What is the administrative overhead at The Alliance? This is easily findable. I had an impression a while ago it was high compared to other nonprofits.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

@DistrictWatcher

Someone would have to do the analysis about overhead but basic information on The Alliance is easy to find.

According to its 990 IRS reporting form for 2010 The Alliance has more than $10 million in assets, its employees are apparently technically part of The Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and three employees make 6-figure compensation packages: Sara Morris, Charles Schafer and Karen Tollenar Demorest.

It is nauseating to see the group put a hand out for a 2.5 percent raise in "service fees" given the state of SPS.

SavvyVoter

cascade said...

re: hiring. Wait. The public never gets to see the new superintendent until she/he is announced? That can't be right. What district of our size handles hiring this way?

re: LEV is now the foundation of record supporting The New School. Huh. Is there any indication of their intentions? Seems not quite right.

re: The Alliance funding increase. A non-starter. Why are they handling this for the district? SPS needs to shop around. How is this not a biddable contract?

seattle citizen said...

From the Alliance's 2010 990, we learn the following:
They spend 3.5 million on admin, etc, and about 3 million on actually doing something (like creating nasty "data management" sructures)
All data below is from the 990:

“no-cost fiscal administration to over 200 groups supporting neighborhood schools…”
Really? Then why do they need more money?

Paid Brainbox on Bainbridge Island – Info/Data management for SPS – $611k
Paid Strategies 360 – $118k
Operating expenses, basically:
Pay to employees: $900k + Program service expenses (related to employees) $300k + management and general expenses (related to employees) $400k
= $1,600,000 operating expenses, not including fundraising expenses.
+ $400,000 misc (payroll tax, legal, office expenses….
+ $1,500,000 expensed under “other” [?]
= 3.5 million dollars
Income:
Over $6,000,000 in contributions, grants, etc
Investment income $187k
Administrative fees taken in – $86k
Income from assets other than inventory: $137k
= about 6.5 million dollars
Ratio of money spent on actually maybe doing something (like creating test systems) to management costs:
For every dollar spent on doing “something” another dollar is spent on the maintenance of the company, uh, non-profit.

seattle citizen said...

Speaking of the Alliance's LEV:

LEV has a new thread, linking to a Tacoma News Tribune article LEV just loves:

"While anti-school reform elements among teachers and parents have been winning the rhetoric battle, they’ve been losing the legislative war.
You may have heard the talk: Those who want to start holding adults in the schools just as accountable as the kids are really out to “privatize” education. Those who seek higher standards are dupes for billionaires like Bill and Melinda Gates.
It goes on: Americans who want to encourage the brightest college students to choose teaching, who want to reward good teachers, who want to help weak teachers get better or get a different job must, in fact, be anti-union teacher haters..."

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Kay Smith Blum is getting some mojo back, after being verbally slapped by DeBell
and his media blitz (he continues to be very patronizing toward his female colleagues through his tone of voice and body language at meetings).

Hopefully, KSB can continue to connect the dots enough to see how TFA fits into this entire Gestalt.

--enough already

dan dempsey said...

More on NEWS from the website news:

As NEWS lead attorney Tom Ahearne summarized: “The highest Court in our State has clearly told our Legislature, once and for all, that the State is violating its Constitutional duty to the people of Washington - and has declared that the Court will retain jurisdiction to enforce its ruling rather than sit on the sidelines and 'hope' that the Legislature someday complies."

The Supreme Court upheld a 2010 decision by King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick, declaring that the State must amply fund education first before any other State programs or operations. In addition, the Supreme Court prohibited the Legislature from eliminating or cutting funding for reasons of unrelated to educational policy - in other words, financial expediency cannot be used as an excuse to further cut education. The ruling also rejected the State’s contention that federal funds and local levies should be counted toward meeting the State’s constitutional mandate.

The Supreme Court has unequivocally told the Legislature that our State Constitution leaves it no choice but to fully and amply fund public education,” Ahearne said. “The only question now is whether our legislators will voluntarily obey the oath they took to our Constitution now, or be forced to do so by the courts later."

-----

and Blah Blah Blah ..... 2018 or 2019 .... so what good is that for students actually attending school over the next 6 years ???..... The WA Constitution is important but your rights are NOT. ... fine message about the law and reality --- a real civil rights lesson.

SP said...

re: Facilities
"Another issue is that SPS has more square footage per student than other districts but as Ms. Ferguson pointed out, we have older buildings, many with higher ceilings and wider halls."

Good try, SPS- Square footage has always been L x W (and not Height). When I hear these kinds of arguments district credibility erodes further...

dan dempsey said...

re: Facilities

At one time classrooms were larger (total sq. ft)

Then in subsequent years the allotment of (sq ft) for new schools was lowered from the previous sizes.

Older buildings did have larger classrooms.

Larger classrooms make for a better learning environment in many cases.

But this is all about politics and NOT about learning or better education.

Maybe Absher Construction could lobby for larger classrooms .... clearly the efforts of parents would be pointless.

dw said...

Holy cow, didn't anyone stop to consider that unless the base amount significantly changed, a raise from 5% to 7.5% is a 50% raise?! Maybe Kay did.

I'm not sure anyone deserves a 50% raise from one year to the next, let alone this group at this time.

Anonymous said...

The Alliance should not be getting a dime of SPS money. Why? Because they have an agenda. If it was just a group or organization or business where a party is able, for whatever reason, to manage or "hold" SPS money at a negotiated percentage, OK. Although I don't understand why someone else has to hold onto SPS money. Isn't that something someone in central district can do? Don't we pay those folks enough downtown to manage SPS money?

Anyway, then they use our own money to turn around and bring to town NCTQ who referred to teachers as human "capitol" which brought about SERVE and the Community Values Statement that was about merit pay and high stakes testing. And all of that just before negotiations with the teachers union in an attempt to have the union concede to some major items like merit pay and teacher evaluations based on test scores.

Remember?

And remember who was behind that? SFC and LEV big time.

I am very surprised to find out that the Alliance is getting paid to manage or hold SPS money. Are they a non-profit or money managers? They can't be both in my book particularly when they fund a specific ed reform agenda.

It would be best to keep them and our money completely separate.

Another question, if the Alliance is holding on to SPS money, there is interest being accrued in a bank or other financial institution. Who receives that interest?

It's good that at least one board member is awake at the wheel in terms of the finances.

Anonymous said...

Speaking about being awake at the wheel or actually not in this case, the teacher evaluation bill that the Governor signed is very different from what the teachers union was working on. There was legislation that passed last year that OSPI and the union were developing and there was a pilot program in place for a teacher evaluation program. But that wasn't enough for the likes of LEV, SFC and their backers. This bill is extraordinarily different in the sense where a certain percentage of the evaluation will be based on test scores of the students that the teacher has in their classrooms.

It is a horrific bill that will cause teachers to focus on test material and little else. Some term it "narrowing the curriculum"
but more on that later. I will be focusing on that on the Seattle Ed blog next week.

Charlie Mas said...

The Alliance acts as fiscal agent for about 200 school-based groups. They maintain an account for each group under the umbrella of their 501(c)(3), collect the contributions, provide receipts to donors for tax purposes, and write the checks for their expenses. Anyone who has been a PTA Treasurer knows the gig.

In compensation for this service they take all of the interest earned by the first $25,000 in each account and they bill the District for their costs. The amount they can charge the District is capped at 5% of the cash flow by contract. They say that they run it as a break-even enterprise.

The Alliance reported that the work takes about 1.4 FTE cobbled together from several different people. Each year they process about six or seven thousand transactions and about $1.6 million passes through their hands. They keep about $2.5 million total on account for the various groups. They used to get tens of thousands of dollars a year from the interest retained, but due to the drop in interest rates they now get no revenue from that and need the District to make up the difference so they can continue to break even on the service. They want to increase the cap on the amount they charge the District from 5% to 7.5%.

The Alliance claims that if you look around the country you will see that the other agencies that perform this work charge 7.5% to 10% and up. They say that 7.5% is still very, very cheap.

7.5% of $1.6 million (the cash flow) is $120,000 per year.

Conflict of Interest
Micheal DeBell sits on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Education and he should have recused himself from this discussion. See the District's Conflict of Interest policy.

He should have followed this instruction:
"A Director shall disclose and have noted in the official minutes any remote interest, as defined by state law, in a contract prior to Board approval of the contract. The Director shall not vote on, participate in, or seek to influence approval of such contract.
"Remote interest" includes:
(1) That of a non-salaried officer of a nonprofit corporation;
"

So he should have opened the discussion by saying "As the president of the school board, I sit on the Board of the Alliance for Education as does Dr. Enfield. Please have that fact noted in the meeting minutes. It would be a conflict of interest for either of us to participate in this discussion. I pass the gavel to the Board Vice President and Dr. Enfield and I will leave the room so we do not influence the discussion." Then he should have gotten up and left and he should have taken Dr. Enfield with him.

He didn't do this. He did mention his seat on the Alliance board in passing once, but not in a way that would appear in the minutes. He - and Dr. Enfield - remained in the room. Director DeBell participated in the discussion and clearly supported the approval of the MOU.

I should note that not only was Dr. Enfield at the table (and didn't have her seat on the Alliance Board noted in the meeting minutes), but so was Mr. Treat - a person who I expect knows the policy very well, and Mr. English, the District's General Counsel.

Competitive Bid
Shouldn't the contract have been put out to competitive bid? The District's policy doesn't require it (See Section VII of 6220 SP.F), but does say:

"In all cases, District staff must use prudent business practices, competition to the extent feasible, and contracts and contract forms which have been approved by the General Counsel's Office."

I told Kay that I would do the work for $80,000.

Anonymous said...

Boy when you look at how these do gooders handle public money, it sure gets messy, but somehow never quite illegal. DeBell and Enfield on the Alliance board. Nice to have well connected friends. And what profitable overhead cost for a non-profit. I can't think what could be on their mind when they cash in their paychecks while bemoaning the utter failure of teachers and Seattle schools. Bad, bad teachers! Probably, a vacation in Hawaii or Paris. Just think at all their lovely grant money and contribution$. Does any of it actually go driectly into helping one kid in the classroom? No, just a lot of TALK about helping kids in the classroom and of course the necessary fundraising cost so they can raise more money to TALK some more about helping kids. I was wrong, talk is expensive!

The Pottergate folks must be hurling at this point.
There's way to drink at the public trough and Silas Potter must be kicking himself for not being smarter.

-yuck!

Charlie Mas said...

I need to correct myself.

Director DeBell DID NOT violate the conflicts of interest policy. He may be a director of the Alliance for Education, but he is not an OFFICER of that organization. Consequently he violated neither state law nor the conflicts of interest policy.

He did, however, violate the Ethics policy 5251, which extends the definition of conflicts of interest to include directors.

I have made a complaint with the District Ethics Officer.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh! The process that they used to select the members of the advisory committee for the superintendent selection was HORRIBLE. It was shamefully bad. Not only was it racist, but thoughtless.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information Charlie.

So they are a non-profit that makes a profit off of SPS. OK.

I thought that they were about raising money to support SPS or in their words "Fostering city-wide support for excellence in Seattle schools".

And they want to support excellence by bringing in NCTQ, tearing down the teachers union and promoting teacher evaluations based on test scores. Hmmm.

According to their website:

The objective of this new organization was to serve as a catalyst for change, a convener of community leadership, and a conduit for directing private resources – both dollars and expertise – toward critical needs in Seattle Public Schools.

Then they have a link to Our Schools Coalition which was a ghost group paid for by, how do I put this and not say Bill Gates, business interests. This is an old link and refers to what I referenced in a previous post about NCTQ and teacher/union bashing.

Here's what they say about that:

Our advocacy efforts are primarily local in nature, focusing exclusively on issues facing Seattle Public Schools. In 2010 the Alliance founded the Our Schools Coalition in partnership with the League of Education Voters, the Technology Alliance and 32 other citywide organizations and civic leaders. Members of the Our Schools Coalition united to successfully advocate for significant changes to the Seattle teachers’ collective bargaining agreement in support of student achievement.

That's a nice way of putting it. Then, there is a link to another group that just sprang up out of the blue to sing the praises of this teacher evaluation bill, A+ Washington. If you haven't already, you will be receiving an invite for a LEV sponsored "forum" with all of the "experts" on the bill who are Pettigrew, our ed reform/charter school champion, Eide, the TFA guy who quit after a year of teaching within SPS to form a non-union teachers group and Powell with Stand for Children.

I could go on but it is very clear where the Alliance stands on the issues and it does not seem right that they are handling our money and at the same time preaching the gospel of all things ed reform and at the same time creating faux roots groups to disseminate their gospel, not on my tax dollar.

Someone said...

So what IS the logic of the "public" never meeting/hearing from the finalists? That just seems so counterintuitive to a public institution. I'm starting to think there are no grownups in charge at SPS - these are not the thought patterns of logical people - sigghhhh

And Charlie - thanks for the explanation - even if it doesn't rise to the level of legal conflict of interest - it certainly would have been very easy for both DeBell & Enfield to make a simple statement about their Alliance relationship just in the interest of above board behavior. Again, why not err on the side of daylight? double sigh.

Anonymous said...

I think DeBell and Enfield were both too close to the issue to be involved in the conversation.

Just on principal, they should have disclosed their involvement with the Alliance and stepped away from the discussion.

Anonymous said...

The website search annnouncement says "after seaking input from Board members, staff, students, and community via indivuidual and group interviews and from the results of Public and School District Leadership and Priorities survey..."

Nothing about community meetings, except that one of the desired characteristics is "reaches out to parent groups and elected officials to encourage engagement and build trust, confidence, credibility and respect."

How is the hiring team going to assess communication skills if they don't see the prospective candidate in action with community groups?

sign me,
disappointed

Sahila said...

“Trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.” ~ Arundhati Roy in her 2001 book, Power Politics.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, it would seem counterintuitive if you were looking at the recent examples of Bellevue and Highline who DID hold community meetings (including one with Dr. Enfield).

The issue, though, is that some of the Board is spooked with the last process which saw finalists drop out for various reasons. But the reason some saw was that their names were revealed before they told their own districts they were looking. The Board doesn't want names out there until they put them out. The search consultant seems to want to keep a lid on it.

I don't think it's right and have told them but they get to choose.

cascade said...

Oh! The process that they used to select the members of the advisory committee for the superintendent selection was HORRIBLE. It was shamefully bad. Not only was it racist, but thoughtless.

Charlie, "shamefully bad" and "racist" are quite strong accusations. You generally give quite specific details behind your opinion, which makes your opinion more valid in my book. Will you please do so in this case? Thank you.

Also, was Rosenthal at the Times still there when this Alliance boondoggle happened? If not, could someone on this blog with a relationship to him ping him? I believe it is now past time for that group to have some more public scrutiny. I guess Rosenthal is the most likely to do so. If we are cleaning house at the superintendent level, time to redefine what the Alliance can and cannot do downtown.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Alliance is still pulling the strings. Note their puppet that sits as president of our school board. He pushes 1620BP outa the blue. Pushes cutting public testimony to 2 minutes, noe pushing public testimony to the end of the meeting (that'll really allow the public to comment on action items on the agenda.)

Mr Ed

Someone said...

But the reason some saw was that their names were revealed before they told their own districts they were looking. - then you put something in place to prevent that - once you get to the top 3 or so, you let them know there will be some kind of public event and they might want to let their home constituency know - or drop out now if that's problematic.

But geez peez - these people are so seriously dysfunctional - it's ridiculous beyond belief.

Oh, and I get to choose too - come election time!!

Charlie Mas said...

Cascade, You had to be there. The words won't carry the vibe. The tone was really ugly in that tone-deaf oblivious way of most liberal White privileged racism.

They went through the list of names they had selected and counted those representing the African-American community to see how many there were. As they were counting they came to Norm Rice and decided not to count him.

I heard things like "We need a Filipino." while saying that people already on the list from Pan Asian organizations were incapable of representing the interests of the Filipino community.

The suggestion that someone on the committee represent the East African community they were dismissed because they "just got here" and didn't yet deserve a seat at the table.

There was no top-down effort to have specific communities represented. There was no managed effort or thought about which communities or interests should be represented and in what proportions and then an effort to select people to represent those communities. Instead they just suggested names as the names occurred to them. Then, when they got to around 17 names they became more careful about deciding.

English Language Learners aren't represented except by one person who is really representing El Centro de la Raza. Students who don't speak English or Spanish aren't represented at all. There is no one representing alternative schools. There is no one representing advanced learning.

Latinos, who are a large proportion of our student population, are represented equally with Native Americans, South Pacific Islanders, Vietnamese, and Filipinos. There is one student on the Committee, and about four representatives from downtown business interests.

They literally held a lottery for the final places on the committee.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm hoping that Mel's Part 2 of the Executive Committee meeting report includes the schedule for Phase II of the Policy Review Process - the C & I Committee is schedule to review five policies in April. - and the options being considered for changing the board meetings.

Charlie Mas said...

Yes, Brian Rosenthal was there. I sat next to him and passed him a note saying that Director DeBell should have recused himself and asking why the contract wasn't awarded in a competitive process.

He has those.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thinks it's weird that the Alliance, which is supposed to raise money for the District, charges the District for their services.

Anonymous said...

The revelation of DeBells's conflict of interest is very interesting.

For quite awhile now my friends and I have wondered just for whom exactly he is working.

Sounds like easy grounds for appeal for any board decisions if he is not acting solely in our interests.

Remember the MGJ conflict of interest scam.

-JC.

suep. said...

Charlie -- in the supt-search focus group selection 'process' (for want of a better word), didn't they have a list of applicants they were working from? People had to apply, after all. From your description it sounds like they pulled names out of the air. And from your description, it's sounds appalling.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sue, they did have a list. Rather, they had a chart of names of those who self-nominated or were nominated.

But there was some "no brainer" list of about 15 people/entities that was quickly passed out. It was in no order and they were rifling through that list in no real organized way.

I would have thought that they would have organized by what the candidates would bring to the table such as a minority perspective, business, education,youth, advanced learning, special ed, ell, arts, etc. Naturally, people who overlapped in groups might rise to the top.

Some of the people on the list and who made the committee have already served on other high-level district committees. I'm not sure why they were there but no one seemed to know they had been on previous committees.

I agree with Charlie - you had to be there. I did not like some of the language used but I just didn't understand why it was so disorganized. It was not reflective at all.

Brian had left before this and saw none of it.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Thanks for your descriptive report.
One thing is missing, however: Who
made those offensive comments? The voters need to know.

The most sad, pathetic part is that it is clear that the bean-divided participants were included only because it was politically expedient. The fact that families with children they love and care about are the main stakeholders was obviously not a priority.

Thanks again for the description.
Also, thanks for your candor and outrage.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

When only ONE board member is a minority (sorry Harium but your past actions seems to count you out), you get this kind of stilted, yes, "progressive white savior" language.

Okay, wait, I will grant HMM that he DID recognize that the public (or the "customers"... who the heck else would be at board meetings?) must afforded their say. Still, in the Exec Comm., it's tough call. W/ DeBelle pushing his Alliance/Hanauer agenda, it takes more than Betty to ensure the "underprivileged", that Hanauer and his ilk would deign to care about, are being count.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, Melissa,

"I am not at liberty to say who is on the committee because they need to ask the finalists "

??? This was an 'open air' meeting, so I do not understand why you won't publish names as you recall them. Seems like total fair game to me.

I am utterly disappointed in the way this was handled, per your description. I cannot understand why it was handled so haphazardly. How many total applications for the community focus group did they get? 2,000? 200? Are they trying to beat-out Larry, Curly and Moe??

I applied, foolish me. I doubted I'd get picked because I assumed there would be many, many applicants. Still, I thought I had at least a shot given that I am involved with the District as a volunteer and my kids are different schools and different programs, which means that I cover a lot more bases than an typical parent. To think it came down to pin the tail, or whatever.

Are the 15 'shoe ins' just all mucky-mucks? Please, do reconsider and publish their names. Anyone who applied certainly had NO expectation of a right to privacy, especially given that all correspondence to SPS are subject to public disclosure laws.

And, after all that, the group doesn't even sound like it is a deliberate construct to fairly represent all PARENT stakeholders. Truly, not one sped ed parent? Makes me want to give up.

So, please do tell who is potentially in.

--silly parent who foolishly wasted a couple of hours drafting the perfect paragraph to apply

A reader said...

Crosscut was there and has a story about the selection process and names names, because of COURSE it's no secret as it was a PUBLIC meeting. Go here: http://crosscut.com/2012/03/16/seattle-schools/22089/A-coalition-of-the-willing-wants-more-say-on-a-new-superintendent/

Anonymous said...

Director DeBell's comment: "He said the bigger donor groups like the high school foundations don't use the Alliance's services"...is factually incorrect. I know, since I have received thank you letters from the Alliance for my auction donations from more than one high school foundation. I expect him to know these facts.

two and a half years to go.

Someone said...

Thanks for pointing out the Crosscut story - yikes - messy and silly all at the same time - again - do any grownups actually lead SPS? sighhh...

Anonymous said...

And thank you facilities for your 10:24 p.m. post regarding square footage typically being figured upon L x W and NOT including ceiling height and wall width! as Holly Ferguson was implying!!!!! Apparently, she missed this part of math class.

Two and a half years to go.

Anonymous said...

This comment on Crosscut speaks volumes:

Very depressing article. I would instantly abolish the 25 member special interest collection of regulars who put race, diversity, ethnic politics, money, contracts, and kingdom building over the interests of the 46,000 K-12 students. The students could do a better job of selecting a new superintendent.

— animalal