Disqus

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Odds and Ends

 Friday is the deadline to file to run for any of the three Board positions on the ballot in November.  Director Patu has indicated she is going to run.  Director Smith-Blum seems to be on the fence.  Director DeBell, after eight hard years of service, is stepping down.  There is only one candidate registered so far and that is for DeBell's seat.

I hope that every single seat has at least two candidates.  It is vital to have the important conversations that only competition for a seat can bring.  As well, I do not like the idea of anyone just walking into office, unfettered. 

Over at Publicola, they are asking legislative leaders about their budgets.  Here's part of what would be cut using the Senate's budget:

$9.5 million in health care savings (that includes cutting a federally mandated $8.7 million child autism care program);
$166 million in supposed (this makes Hunter apoplectic) "Overspending?!? Really?!?" on K-12 school construction.

House budget
Rep. Hunter's budget proposal does spend the $575 million rainy day fund (which certainly require a two-thirds vote ... which he acknowledges he doesn't have), but Hunter points out that Hill's senate budget leaves only a $19 million ending balance, while the his budget leaves a $330 million cushion. 

So once again, it's Special Ed parents who have to fight for dollars?  As for the school construction, well, SPS certainly seems to spend more than most districts but I'm with Hunter - no way every district is overspending.

Looking over the speakers list for tonight's Board meeting, I see some interesting topics.  (Charlie's testifying on "the May 1st Board meeting minutes" so I can't wait to hear about that one.)  There are 25 speakers on the list plus 12 on the waitlist.

I also see speaker after speaker signed up for "green building resolution."   I would wonder what that's about since it would seem to be a good idea to get with the system and move faster towards green solutions (especially since the resolution specifies that the green steps can't cost more and looks for outside funding to help).  

Oh wait, I know.  Someone read an early iteration of the resolution and then decided the whole resolution was about building a "mega" school at Wilson-Pacific.  It's not.  It's quite a sweeping resolution about creating more cost-efficient learning environments that maximize the good (natural light) and minimize the bad (too much water usage, off-gassing carpets, etc.) 

Somehow a large number of people received an e-mail about this issue and have signed up to speak.
This is fine but it would help to follow the process and see how the Board does listen and change and shape their policies when they get input.  The resolution is simply not the same one that it started out as.

It's not about creating a K-8 at Wilson-Pacific; there will be two separate buildings.  One is a K-5 and one is a 6-8 with a possible third building that would have the shared spaces; administration, library, cafeteria, gym, etc.

I will note that I do have my concerns about flexibility at W-P which is THE key to capacity management.  But it is a large site and we need both an elementary and a middle school.  (Drive through many small towns and you will see the elementary next to the middle school.  It's nothing new.)

A few other thoughts based on this e-mail that was sent out:

- the writer takes issue with larger schools.  I can only say that this IS the direction our district is going in and it is staff-driven, not Board driven.  It is much more cost-effective and drives more services to students.  It is the direction of most large urban districts.

- the writer takes issue with "experimental policy."  The world is changing and I sure hope our district is trying new things.  We particularly owe it to the taxpayers to make sure that the district is building green.  If not now, when?

- and again, when we vote for a levy, we are voting for a pot of money.  Yes, there are projects planned but there is NOTHING in the law that prevents the governing entity from changing its mind on spending.  It certainly is a good idea to not sell a false bill of goods to voters but yes, it's a pot of money (not a list of projects).  I have learned this the hard way myself.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of this article :

http://washingtonstatewire.com/blog/lawyers-find-no-problems-with-senate-school-funding-plan-yet-political-opponents-at-statehouse-call-it-unconstitutional/

What pot of money is for building and which for operational needs ?

PSP

Melissa Westbrook said...

PSP, I don't know if you mean the district or state but there is usually an operations pot and capital pot. The capital pot usually only covers major maintenance/remodel/rebuild.

This fight in the Legislature is quite interesting and they seem to want to fight to the death (or, at least, to a court ruling). I've looked at it and I think it's probably legal but is it what the intent of the law is? No.

To say that school districts in this state don't need construction dollars is wrong. And to take money designated for that purpose and just move it into the General Fund is defeating. So you fulfill McCleary but limit construction dollars to schools?

It appears the Senate says they would issue bonds for school construction but that has limitations.

Watching said...

The district needs to find $200k to cover the costs of increased water taxes. That is a lot of cash.

It is essential that the district moves towards energy efficiency and conservation.

mirmac1 said...

Melissa,

Even more signed up to speak last meeting. They were nearly all architects and consultants, so I expect it will be more of the same.

What is interesting is there appears to be an abortive attempt by LEVites to shanghai the meeting to talk about their latest "issue" - disproportionate discipline.

As you may have seen in this self-congratulatory report by A4E on the progress of "their" Strategic Plan, the A4E/LEV/OSC paid organizers are attempting to drive an "issue" wedge into communities, essentially co-opting real problems and concerns so that the reform clique can push their own agenda. On community engagement:

It was difficult at times to determine exactly what the purpose was for this work and to meaningfully communicate to a variety of diverse communities. Over time we learned that outreach was much stronger when it was issue driven; but to be successful the foundational relationships had to already be in place.

Anonymous said...

Gees, I hope some of those Green speakers will give up their speaker slots so that others with equally impt issues can get a chance. There are important items on the wait list.

reader

mirmac1 said...

No such luck. Every one of them showed up last time (with an equally long waitlist). Snoozeville.

Anonymous said...

Well green is the new green! That's why all these builders and consultants are here. They care about children, the environment, and world peace. Especially with lovely tax dollars. Why built something for less, when you can built for so much more and be PC and look good at the same time? Remember Mirmac1, you snooze, you lose baby. (Full on sarcasm to this post)

Soylent

mirmac1 said...

ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

There is an "Idle No More Campaign" to petition support for the Indian Heritage program in SPS. It is being moved to Northgate, from the Wilson Pacific building. They will have a rally at 3:30 this afternoon at JSIS. They are asking to save the murals and to be moved back to the newly constructed facilities at Wilson Pacific, among other things.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/448926878530569/

fyi

mirmac1 said...

fyi,

There is an LEV "tailgater" that same time and place. Don't let yourself get co-opted. i'm not kidding.

See you at the rally.