Saturday, December 07, 2013

Random Seattle Schools Thoughts

From SPS history:

South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela, visited Seattle and toured Madrona Elementary School almost 14 years to this date on Dec. 8, 1999. Madrona is now a K-8 school.

What a lucky group of students on that day.

At Board retreat today, a very different tone and feel.  Still the same kind of talk and team-building but not the same vibe.  A major theme is being collegial, being respectful of everyone's time and changing the public talk about the district.

So refreshing to hear:

- Facilities' Flip Herndon say one is his major goals is cutting down the maintenance backlog.  (You know me and that backlog so Friday, I'm in love.)

- President Peaslee expressing the desire to get rid of the drumbeat of a "dysfunctional" Board and going around the table and asking Board members what committee they would like to serve on.

-   Both new directors said that they would like to see if the committee meetings could start later as they both have young children.  Likewise, Superintendent Banda expressed concern over staff workload and their personal lives.  

- Deputy Superintendent Charles Wright saying that the systems in the district need some real review and promising to do that.

- Director Peters mentioned her campaign having fewer dollars but focused on outreach and that the district might consider following the model of directing dollars.  

- Director Blanford also touched on the negative talk of the Board/district and seeking compromise and being willing to listen to those who are "fully engaged" in the discussion.

- Director Martin-Morris said to stop trying to do 20 things well and do fewer things better.  He called it "education ADD" over the next "shiny, new thing."  He said the Strategic Plan is the roadmap.

Boy, I am feeling hopeful and it's nice to feel that way.  (I fear a Charlie Brown football moment but I'm a sap for believing that people mean what they say.)


Po3 said...

I would like to see Director Martin-Morris make more of a commitment to SPS and specifically his district and less gallivanting around the country at conferences.

I also would like to see an accounting of expenses for such trips - who pays for them?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Po3, yes, Director Martin-Morris said he still would like to be the liaison for "city, state and national" communications. You could write to the public disclosure officer and ask for details of trip costs. I would like to know who paid for both the Superintendent and DeBell to go on their recent Asian trip.

mirmac1 said...

From the first board meeting I've detected a far more collegial atmosphere.

Sitting at the retreat, I'm hearing less navel-gazing, "governance" indoctrination and generic team-building, and more listening to each other's perspectives on the work before them, work priorities, and an earnest desire to start on the right foot.

mirmac1 said...

Hmmmm DeBell's ears must be burning. Lengthy discussion on a Code of Conduct....

Anonymous said...

DeBell was a thorn of entitlement.

Sadly, I don't think he set out this way. However, he allowed his ego, privilege, and ambitions to direct his course.

This new board, along with the humanity of Banda, is the best hope for this district I have seen in quite a long time.

--enough already

Po3 said...

I wonder who gave Director M-M this particular mandate to be the liaison for city state national

Such an odd way to spend the limited resources of a board director, especially when that particular directors region has some of the biggest capacity issues in the district.

Very tone deaf and troubling.

As far as Debell's trip at the end of his tenure, that will come back to haunt him if he decides to run for another office.