Friday News Roundup

Seattle Public Schools

- Via the school board meeting on Wednesday, Superintendent Jones thanked the current Board officers and said that the Board will be having their election for new board officers at the next board meeting. 

This should be interesting because the majority will absolutely not allow anyone but one of the four of them to be president. Director Michelle Sarju says little and it's a public-facing job so, not her. Both Hersey and Hampson have already been president and Hampson has already been twice vp and once president. (Oddly, she doesn't say she was president on her official SPS page but it does on her LinkedIn page.) 

That would leave Director Liza Rankin and if you want longer Board meetings, she'd provide them. 

No, my money is on Hersey running again for president and Rankin for VP.  (To note, Director Leslie Harris has been Board president twice.) 

- Via The Seattle Times - Seattle school enrollment levels off, but district still faces budget woes 

In a sign that enrollment numbers could be stabilizing, Seattle public schools shrank by about 100 students this school year after two years of major declines.

With a straight face, this was said:
“There are not enough students living in Seattle to solve our financial deficit,” said Linda Sebring, budget director at Seattle Public Schools.

I do understand the birthrate is declining but when nearly one-third of K-12 Seattle children go to private schools, I don't think you can say there aren't enough students.

What was blamed by the district? Later start times. The inability for the district to convince parents to go to back to three start times. 

And uh oh:
The district is also looking at making program reductions to central office services and at schools, Sebring said. More specifics on how to balance the budget will be presented to the School Board in January.

You might consider that a thinly veiled threat. 

- Via the district, messaging from Superintendent Brent Jones on safety.

Filling security specialist positions hasn’t been easy. Seattle, like school districts around the country, is facing staffing issues. Despite those challenges, Safety and Security leadership began recruiting early and spread the hiring net wide to find talent for their team. Those efforts have paid off as the department expects to be fully staffed by December.

Really? I had not heard anything about this at the start of the school year nor after Uvalde. Hmmm.

In addition to staff, the district also has committed financial resources to providing a safe and secure environment for all students, staff, and visitors. Through a portion of the $1.4 billion Building Excellence (BEX) V Capital Levy, the district is making improvements to data security and access systems. View the list of BEX V projects that went through an extensive community vetting process and received 73% approval of voters in February 2019.

Although all schools are slated to receive upgrades, to equitably determine which school would receive upgrades first, Safety and Security Assistant Manager Benjamin Coulter said the number of incidents, neighborhood crime factors, and building safety walk-throughs were considered.

One, both the Superintendent AND Board President Brandon Hersey have said that safety at schools is their most important issue. If that is true, why haven't those levy dollars been sent into overdrive to get this done? And, if the district is doing this work based on equity issues, they should at least have the grace to provide a timeline list.

As I said to the Board on Wednesday night:

Right after Uvalde, the Superintendent pledged a complete look at safety issues. But not a week later, Sand Point Elementary School was invaded by a mentally ill man who chased kids on the playground to their portable where the kids could not lock the door and the man forced the door open, coming into the classroom and harassing the children before another teacher came in.

And now, a student at Ingraham has lost his life. And again, the Superintendent says there will be a a “safety audit.” Are these just platitudes? Because if there is extra facilities levy money it should ALL be going to make buildings more secure. I find it shameful that new cars are more important at district headquarters than secure locks on school buildings.

I would bet money that the district will get its new cars before even half the schools have their "safety audit" done.

Lots going on nationally but I thought I'd keep this post local.


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