Sunday, September 30, 2007

Board had a map. Staff still got lost.

In reviewing the notes taken by staff and handouts provided during the September 27th "All ESC" meeting, I am wondering why district staff did not utilize the Capital Facilities Plan in developing their student enrollment forecast. In discussing the 2004-2009 CFP with others, it clearly shows that enrollment was moving downward and was far more accurate in determining actual FTE for 2007 than anything provided by your budget analyst.

Why wouldn't a Board adopted document be part of the planning process? If Board members were provided a copy of the CFP, read it entirely and then adopted it, wouldn't they have every expectation that district staff would follow the forecasting methodology described therein?

To the casual observer, it would appear that district staff was aware these reductions in FTE were coming and chose to adopt a more optimistic forecast model so that more aggressive cuts could be made at a later date - without any reasonable warning.

District Presentation Outline

Friday, September 28, 2007

Pat Shields: Powerful Parasite?

For years, I have always wondered why Powerful Partners never paid rent for their use of precious cubicle space in the ESC. Now I know why.

Shortly after starting my job at the District in 2001, I was directed to prepare a "use agreement" for a program that works in conjunction with the District's mission. A use agreement differs from a lease in that no base rent is charged to the program but they are billed for actual charges that would otherwise be covered by the District's general fund. Essentially, the District would be subsidizing their tenancy but not giving away public money in covering utilities, telephone service, parking, maintenance and custodial care (clearly, a matter of interpretation).

When the use agreement was completed, I immediately provided it to Powerful Partners so they could begin making their monthly payments - but alas - they never did. I complained numerous times and worked my way up the food chain to Marla Miller, who promptly did nothing. I was told many times that she would take care of it, that she will talk to them, that she would sort it out - but alas - she never did.

Then it recently occurred to me, I have been sending the use agreement to the program manager, when really I should have been sending the use agreement to their director, Pat Shields. But wait, isn't Pat Shields a member of the school board?

Interesting. Very interesting. A textbook case of conflict of interest. Does the board member uphold the best interests of the school district and promptly pay rent or does he use his influence to get a free ride for his program? I am not claiming that the program does not do great work. Maybe they do. The mission statement of Powerful Partners secured them the reduced rate - a reduced rate they have never paid.

And it isn't as if Pat Shield's wife was the director of Powerful Partners. Because we all know how that would turn out. Don't we, Gary Noble?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kay Noble voted for a new Lynnwood High School.

Like many of my readers, I am left wondering why Gary Noble voted to construct a new Lynnwood High School. Could it be the District's explosive population boom and the huge influx of students pouring into the Lynnwood High School service area? No. Could it be the ever-increasing rate of student retention? No. Could it be that his wife, who works at Lynnwood High School, wants a stylish new classroom? No doubt.

This is precisely why the Board adopted their "Conflicts of Interest" policy. It was intended to prevent a situation like this. We will never know if Gary Noble ever engaged both sides of the debate. We will never know if Gary Noble truly deliberated the pros and cons of relocating Lynnwood High School. We will never know if Gary Noble's vote was tainted by the subjective opinion of a lone voice at Lynnwood High School.

Could I vote against constructing a new high school for my wife? I wouldn't have to pay a dime and it certainly would help the "family dynamic" in other areas. It would be better than any diamond ring or Lexus and wouldn't trigger years of payments (for me, at least). How could I admit to my wife that the numbers just don't make any sense.

Sure, Nick Brossoit can cite all the rules and regulations of other professional associations, like his favorite the "Washington State School Director's Association". They have a link that specifically claims a board member can have a spouse that works for the District, just as long as the spouse was an employee before the Board member was elected.

The Edmonds School District did not adopt such a policy. They specifically elevated the standard and haven't backed away since. It was the Board's choice and that's exactly what Board Policy 1260 states. There is no gray area and no room to negotiate. Gary Noble must step down at once.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

School Board doesn't follow its own policies

It seems the Board doesn't like to follow its own policies, like 1260 Conflicts of Interest. It reads as follows;

It is the policy of the Edmonds School District that no member of the Board, or any spouse or dependent relative of such member, shall receive or accept any compensation or reward for services rendered to the District OR have any pecuniary [financial] interest in any contract to which the District is a party except to the limited extent authorized by law. For the purposes of this policy, such pecuniary interest shall not be deemed to exist by reason of a contract between the District and the employer of a Board member if: (a) the compensation of the Board member from such employer consists entirely of fixed wages or salary; (b) such employment relationship is disclosed and is recorded in the minutes of a Board meeting prior to the formation of the contract with the employer; and (c) the contract is approved by a vote of the membership for the Board sufficient for the purpose without counting the vote of the Board member employed by the contracting party.

Gary Noble's spouse, Kay Noble is a teacher at Lynnwood High School and therefore receives and accepts compensation for services rendered to the District.

The Board would be well-advised to spend more time reading their own policies and less time violating them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Board wanted site. Marla just negotiated.

[Mark to Rachel]
While I appreciate that you are interested in facts, I am afraid you will not get them from Marla on this topic. Facts may be provided by the people involved in that meeting (assuming they will not be blacklisted by the District for speaking up) like Mark Quehrn from Perkins Coie, Al Morgan from Reid Middleton, Deb Ladd from AMEC, and Jack Dinniene from Northwest Valuation Services. Marla should offer them assurances that they, or their respective companies, will not be negatively impacted for confirming the validity of my statement.

Minutes from that meeting will confirm that we all agreed that the site would be too expensive to mitigate the soils issue even at the lesser amount of $3.3 million.

To jog Marla's memory, it was one of the few meetings that I attended on this topic - in part because that meeting was supposed to be the final nail in the coffin for this transaction. I sat to her right and we both had our backs to the window. Mark Quehrn sat between us. It took place in the main conference room at Reid Middleton in Everett, Washington. I will check my PDA and get back to you with a date and time.

Thank you for your interest in seeking the truth.

[Marla to Rachel]
On May 10, 2005, two board members met with AMEC and Reid Middleton to talk directly with them regarding their analysis of the site. Following that meeting the board instructed me to proceed with the negotiations to purchase the site.

I’ve never been to the Reid Middleton offices in Everett.

[Mark to Marla]
So, which two board members attended that meeting?

[Marla to Mark]
(The sound of crickets chirping)

Interesting turn of events here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

District leadership will lead us where?

Top ten reasons the Board thought buying a contaminated bog was a good idea.

1. Seller was wearing Reid Middleton and AMEC name badges,
2. Thought the seller was saying "This site is conterminated",
3. Certain that erratic settling and cracked foundations would become hip,
4. Residual pesticides would keep away the mosquitos from the bog,
5. Big savings for Transportation in being able to dump oil on site,
6. School kids could collect asbestos samples for science class,
7. Rain would create a pretty, rainbow-colored sheen across the site,
8. New uniforms for District staff fashioned in Tyvek,
9. Encourages staff to sweat more to over-power chemical smells,
10. The Superintendent could catch three-legged frogs during his lunch hour.

Top ten reasons Marla negotiated a purchase price of $5,800,000.00 for the site.

1. Had her fingers crossed when she agreed to pay $5,800,000.00,
2. Thought she was buying the Lynnwood Park and Ride,
3. Overcome by noxious cloud while touring the site and lost her senses,
4. Convinced the large black line to the southeast was river frontage,
5. Site offers numerous places to dump the bodies of disgruntled employees,
6. Forgot to include that payment would be made in Zimbabwean dollars,
7. Focused on the fact that they threw in a KitchenAid toaster oven,
8. Had not yet discovered rebate coupon for $2.5 million was misplaced,
9. Adopting a new strategy to get staff to burn up sick time more frequently,
10. Thinking about the frequent flyer miles she would get by using the District's procurement card.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Always drink upstream from the herd.


While we may differ on many issues, I am writing to express my concerns regarding the upcoming appointment of a new Board Member for Director District 4 and hope that you can see things the way many others do.

Evidence is now coming forward from individuals that claim you were aware of Bruce's relocation long before it surfaced on In fact, I suspect you may recall suggesting the quick revision of Director District boundaries to accommodate his relocation - like that was a viable option. These statements, coupled with a long-serving Board Member's full awareness of Board Policy 1245 should have caused Dr. Williams to immediately withdraw his application with the County and step down as a candidate. The fact that Dr. Williams continued to pursue his Director's seat could be described as election fraud.

While I have no knowledge of the political or educational background of Roger "Cowboy" Wilson, it would appear that the Board's only reasonable decision at this stage is to reverse a series of poor choices made by Dr. Williams and others. To appoint anyone other than Mr. Wilson would be disrespectful to democratic principles and would demonstrate the continued separation between the Board and its constituents.

Mr. Wilson's application for Director District 4, assuming he chooses to apply, should be provided more than just a passing glance.

Mark Zandberg

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Some people are under the impression that everyone is a public employee and that email addresses should be doled out like Tootsie Rolls on Halloween. Well, for a limited time only, your friends at are offering a brand new email account for communicating with District administration, co-workers, friends and fellow taxpayers.

Never again will you have to worry about having your email account added to someone else's SPAM list. You can also remain entirely anonymous - which is how we like it. Even Nick Brossoit launched a survey recently seeking anonymous comments. That last field was just a bit too small for the comments we would like to make.

All we ask here at is that you keep your comments clean, sincere and honest.

Contact our account rep today:

Oh, and thanks to Amber, we've added labels for better tracking of issues on the blog. Who wants to wade through all those topics to find the desired thread.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The So-Called Attendance Incentive Program

The District has a number of Board Policies that don't accomplish anything. They are merely placeholders for future action - when the Board isn't busy plotting real estate schemes and handing out raises during a budget crisis. Two such policies quickly come to mind, one is the Whistleblower Program and it reads as follows;

The Edmonds School District:
1. expects its employees to report improper governmental action taken by its officers or employees, and
2. protects employees who have reported improper governmental actions in accordance with this policy and related procedures.

The superintendent shall establish procedures for receiving and acting on employee reports of improper governmental actions and responding to allegations of retaliation.

To date, no procedures have been established.

The other policy is the Attendance Incentive Program and it reads as follows;

The Edmonds School District shall provide an attendance incentive program for employees who are not members of a recognized bargaining unit. This program shall operate in accordance with the terms and limitations of applicable statues and regulations.

While the District claims to encourage staff to attend work regularly, they limit the number of vacation days to 50 and then refuse to compensate a departing employee for any days accumulated over 30. Where is the reasoning behind this ill-conceived formula? What incentive does anyone have to accumulate more than 30 days? Can we infuse a little wisdom into the program and meet in the middle? Sick days are paid out at a rate of 25% of actual value. Where's the incentive there?

It would make sense to reduce the accumulated maximum for vacation days to 45 days and then compensate an employee for the full 45 days when he or she is constructively terminated for whistleblowing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rise above the confusion of conflicting rumors.

You indicated in an e-mail to the superintendent and Board that Mark Zandberg shared with you a rumor there is soil contamination at the new administration site. The rumor is false.

[Definitions of the words "rumor", "false" and "fraud".]

Allegations concerning hazardous materials are extremely serious, and I believe it is important to provide accurate information and ask you to share it with others who may have also been told of this rumor.

[Definitions of the words "contamination" and "hazardous".]

As a part of the purchase offer for the new administration site, the District conducted “due diligence” activities before closing the deal, including geotechnical and environmental assessments of the site. We hired Reid Middleton to conduct the geotechnical analysis, and AMEC to do the environmental assessment. Our attorneys reviewed previous environmental studies of the site, as well as Department of Ecology correspondence with the owner about adjacent property he owns (and continues to own).

[Like the detention pond that the District now maintains for him. And by the way, I was in the room when Reid Middleton, AMEC, Perkins Coie and Northwest Valuations recommended NOT buying this site and we all left the room with that understanding.]

Numerous test pits were dug on our site to sample the soil. One pit – test pit 15 – had material that was questioned, and both our consultant and the seller’s consultant reviewed the laboratory results of the analysis. The Seller agreed to remediate that test pit, and that work was observed and the results examined by our consultant, AMEC. To quote the senior scientist on the project for us: “Marla - I have no remaining concerns regarding TP-15.”

["... but I do have concerns about everywhere else." TP-15 is an incredibly small sample. How do you draw conclusions about an incredibly small sample (needle) and then compare it to the huge volume of soil (haystack)?]

[The school board favored the seller's appraiser over their own - why would they now favor the District's consultant over the seller's?]

As a precaution to protect the District, we negotiated in the purchase agreement that the Seller would pay for an insurance policy to pay to mitigate any soil contamination found on the site during construction. The District reviewed several options and selected an insurance company, who also reviewed the environmental reports before issuing coverage. The Seller paid for a two-year policy, and the District chose to pay to extend that policy for another three years to provide a 5-year window for construction to occur.

[Why buy insurance if the contamination is a rumor? How much was the seller's premium if no activity would be taking place during the initial term of coverage?]

The construction of the new building is dependent on revenues from the sale and ground lease of properties, and we wanted to be certain to have ample time to complete the necessary transactions.

[In other words, financing this poor choice is dependent upon the outcome of other bad choices.]

We have now demolished the old buildings and begun an “early site grading package”, to do the earthwork and other site preparation within the coverage period of the insurance policy and to prepare the site to be ready for building construction regardless of time of year. The contractor currently working on the site was provided with the geotechnical and environmental reports by our capital projects staff. The insurance company who issued the 5-year policy was notified that we are beginning earthmoving work. We hired AMEC to be on site to monitor the condition of soils during this phase of construction, and they are monitoring the earthwork being done now. Nothing has surfaced as of this date.

[Why hire environmental consultants if the contamination is a rumor? Who is footing that bill?]

If you have additional questions please let me know. I will be responding to your request for public records as soon as I complete several others that have been submitted ahead of yours.

[There are others seeking to expose a pattern of bad choices.]

Marla Miller
Assistant Superintendent

Fun Factoid: Calling something a rumor does not make it one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Doctor of Medicine or Geology?

The board minutes have been released. Bruce Williams resigned because he "recently relocated his residence".

Board Minutes for September 11, 2007

Yeah, and we were all born recently. I thought he was a medical doctor not a geologist. He relocated his residence in 2005. That would be years ago. He got caught "recently".

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fuzzy Meth

Imagine a house in Lynnwood that sold in 2001 for $90,000.00.
Now imagine that same house being sold in 2005 (four years later).

To determine value, your lender asks that you have it appraised.
Your appraiser establishes a value of $330,000.00.

The seller, of course wants more money (don't we all).
The seller's appraiser establishes a value of $580,000.00.

What price would you pay?

Now imagine that the house was a meth lab.

Fun Factoid: Public agencies use the Request for Qualification (RFQ) process to protect the public and ensure competent service from public employees and their designated consultants.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pandora's Box found in Lynnwood

I was reading Gary Noble’s cryptic comment about the Board being well aware of the differences between the two appraisals, and a thought came to me. Is there an environmental issue at the new administration site that would cause a difference in the valuation of the property?

It is my understanding that while the District’s appraiser was aware that contamination may be an issue, his appraisal did not directly address contamination or its impact on valuation.

So, what you are saying is that on top of a difference in valuation of $2.5 million, there is a hidden cost related to environmental contamination that was not considered?

That is correct. Neither appraiser included environmental issues related to contamination.

Ok, so they came up with two different amounts on the market value. But neither addressed liability associated with the development of the site. Isn’t it part of due diligence prior to a property transaction to have at least a Phase I Environmental Assessment completed for the proposed acquisition? A bank would require this prior to financing.

A Phase I Environmental Assessment was performed but the site was not financed and therefore not subject to a review by a lender. This was a cash purchase and the funds utilized came from Capital Fund Reserves.

Did the Board see the Assessment?

I am not sure. I saw the assessment and I am not quite sure every aspect of its contents could be easily understood. It couldn’t just be handed to them. They would need to be walked through the document and portions would have to be explained in layman’s terms.

-Sigh- This doesn’t sound good. What you are telling me is that there could be Pandora’s Box when they go to excavate. I did these assessments for years and found even a good one can only hit the tip of the iceberg given the limited scope of work of a Phase I. It isn’t until you get into sampling that you figure out what the potential costs could be. Would the liability for the site be covered by the Risk Management Pool the District belongs to?

If the contamination was limited to one specific area on the site, I could imagine a scenario that might allow excavation and development to occur. However, everything I have seen shows that the contamination is everywhere and varies in magnitude. Regarding liability and protecting the District’s bottom line, I know the District was exploring and then eventually purchased a supplemental insurance policy to protect them from any unanticipated expenses associated with contamination. The likelihood of hitting contamination would be very high, given the nature of District activities to be placed on that site.

I’m shocked at what you are telling me. I’m trying to regroup here; the implications of knowing there is contamination and then purchasing a policy is less than above board. This is very, very sad. It’s scary to think of what the taxpayers might have to pay to develop the property. The increase in construction costs on contaminated soils is significant.

Where is the Assessment? Is it on file at the ESC? Is it a public document? Is it under attorney-client privilege?

The Assessment was provided by AMEC and is in the ESC. It is a public document and can be reviewed by anyone seeking it out. You can call the Planning and Property Management Specialist (425-431-7332) to coordinate a viewing, dependent upon approval from the public records request designee – Marla Miller.

Ok, I’ve already expressed an opinion about whether Marla should be the custodian of public documents, so I’m not going to repeat myself. But, if it’s not attorney-client privilege and its 90 days past the transaction, why would I or anyone else need “approval” to view it?

You can ask Marla why her approval is needed when you make your request.

Well, I now understand your passion about all of this. Not only was the market value possibly inflated, not all of the information regarding the actual development of the site may have been known or understood. I will make a records request tomorrow. I will let you know when I receive it.

That will be in 15 days. Talk to you then.

Fun Factoid: Claire Olsovsky is the former Loss Control/Safety Specialist for the District. She left the District shortly before Marla put this land transaction together. Claire has a Master’s degree in Environmental Health and 22 years of experience in the field. Her first site was the 93rd Street School at Love Canal and worked on the first Superfund site to be de-listed (the Wade Site, Chester, PA).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Hire a third party to investigate."

Given the light of the allegations regarding Marla Miller’s behavior revealed on the blog, I am curious to why she has not been put on administrative leave? The District in the past has used this tool when investigating allegations of illegal, unethical, or harassing behavior. The content of the web page and the number of contributors and visitors to the site would suggest that something is awry with not only the management of District funds, but in the treatment of its employees by Ms. Miller.

It wasn’t so long ago a foreman in the Maintenance Department suffered this consequence after allegations of bullying and harassing behavior. It took a brave employee registering a formal complaint to initiate the investigation that resulted in the leave; does not Mark Zandberg’s account lend the same weight? He continually spoke up during his tenure about the land dealings and was disregarded. He then used the proper channels and provided the State Auditor a painstaking account of the events he observed. The Auditor’s office deferred immediate action and is conducting an “ongoing” investigation. This is not surprising since it took them over twelve years to detect simplistic bookkeeping fraud by a District employee. When he was constructively terminated in retaliation for whistle-blowing, he used the blog as a last resort because TIME IS CRITICAL.

Ms. Miller has control of all the documents that could either incriminate her or prove her innocent of any illegal, unethical, or incompetent behavior. To have her as the continued custodian of public records requests is clearly a conflict of interest. Why has she not voluntarily stepped aside from this role to dispel any doubts cast on her performance as the business manager handling millions of dollars for the District? More importantly, given the dollar amount of the alleged mismanaged funds on both the Capital and Operations side of the house, why wouldn’t you want to seek the facts independently? You cannot deny there is a shortage; you just announced another $400,000 shortfall.

Irrespective of the allegations of mismanaged funds, (which the examination of the paper trail will prove or disprove) doesn’t the low morale bordering on despair amongst the employees in the District plague your consciences’? Can you not see why no one signs their name on their blog entry? Do you really expect someone to come forward when Ms. Miller is the head of Operations? Especially since someone like Mark experienced retaliation after exercising his right to free speech outside of work?

Your silence and inaction are viewed by many as a form of complicity.

Be the stewards you promised to be when you ran for school board and accepted the job as Superintendent. Place her on administrative leave and request the State Auditor hire a third party to investigate.

Claire Olsovsky
Former Employee

Friday, September 14, 2007

"The Board was well aware"

I want to assure you that the Board was well aware of the $3.3 million valuation for the property. Although I cannot get into details, the difference between the two appraisals was very understandable, and was due to several differences in assumptions and ground rules, including a different "highest/best use" assumption. It was clear to the Board that the second appraisal more accurately represented the current commercial value of the property.

The Board [considered] these property transactions very seriously, always striving to use capital project funds as wisely as possible.

Gary Noble
Edmonds School Board
425-342-5181, Cell: 425-931-5118

Editor: I would be willing to bet that Mr. Noble couldn't articulate the details even if Marla was holding his cue cards.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dumbing Down a District

Be aware. There is a move afoot to change the Operations side of the Edmonds School District that will result in a more ambitious and energetic approach to solving problems and tackling long-standing issues. The plan will streamline discussion and quickly build consensus on every pertinent issue confronting the District and how it handles the operating side of the organization.

The strategy is unique.

It involves the aggressive and unmistakable "dumbing down" of the District. When they adopt this philosophy in the private sector, the business crumbles and quickly files for bankruptcy protection. Eventually, like every poorly-managed business in history, it fails - leaving people unemployed and investors adding up their losses. Fortunately, the Edmonds School District is a public agency and the taxpayer will keep it afloat. It will survive long enough to see where this curious little experiment in economics takes us.

Imagine how quickly things will be decided when everyone in the room looks to their leader for a cue. Pre-meetings will become all the rage ensuring that everyone knows how to respond when their opinion is sought. There will no longer be a need to delay action to debate wisdom and direction. No one in the organization will be standing in the way of change and outsiders will gaze in awe at how the whole District seems so unified in purpose.

It is the beginning of a new era. Redefining the destination to accommodate the speed and direction in which you are traveling.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What's this?!? More budget cuts?

It was announced at P-12 yesterday that enrollment projections were even lower than previously anticipated. The financial impact of these unanticipated reductions amount to $400,000.00 in budget cuts on top of the $4,500,000.00 just cut earlier this year.

Does anyone read the Capital Facilities Plan? It clearly shows a striking downward trend for the next several years. Since the District is paid per head and the heads are not showing up in our schools, maybe they shouldn't plan to spend money they won't ever receive. Here is the link for the CFP.

Please, for the love of God, read it. At least look at the pictures. The yellow line going down and to the right means your checks from the state will be getting smaller.

Maybe the District's administrators can give back their recent raises. That alone would save $550,000.00 per year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And then there were four.

Breaking News

Blog reporters claim that a resignation was tendered this evening at the school board meeting. Unfortunately, the vacancy will be filled by appointment and the candidate will be selected by the current board of directors - two of whom will likely not be holding their seats much longer.

Stay tuned for updates through the remainder of the week.

Monday, September 10, 2007

If you don't have anything nice to say...

From: Brossoit, Nick
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2007 11:31 AM
To: @All Edmonds Email
Cc: 'Tatia Prieto'
Subject: State Performance Audit

September 10, 2007

Dear Colleagues:

As part of the state required performance audit, the superintendents of each of the 10 largest school districts were asked by the State Auditor's Office to send out the following text. Participation in the on-line survey is optional; however, it is also an opportunity to provide input which could be helpful at the local and state levels. Thanks for your consideration of this opportunity in the context of your busy schedule.


The Washington State Auditor's Office (SAO) is currently undertaking an independent performance audit of the administrative and overhead operations of the 10 largest school districts, which includes ours. The audit will review and analyze the economy and efficiency of the administrative and overhead operations in the districts.

Your input is an important part of this study. Later this Fall, a team from Cotton and Company, LLP (the contractor selected by the State Auditor's Office to perform this work) will be on-site in each of the 10 largest districts to review operations and you may be asked to provide input at that time during interviews or small groups. Your first opportunity to provide input is through an anonymous web-based survey.

This survey can be accessed through this link, beginning on September 10th:

The Edmonds specific instrument is at:

Technology has been enabled to ensure that respondents only complete the survey once. If hitting "control" and clicking on the link does not take you directly to the survey, you will need to copy the link and paste it into a web browser.

If you have any difficulty accessing the survey, please contact Tatia Prieto either by phone at 954-465-1175 or by e-mail at

Please submit your survey no later than September 17th at midnight. All survey responses will be kept confidential and go directly to the consultants with Cotton and Company.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Emergency sheds or public storage?

Well, word has gotten out that the District just installed emergency sheds at every location and filled them with emergency supplies. Unfortunately, one can never rely upon the contents being inside during an emergency because looting has become prolific. A few simple screws are all that stand between saving student lives during a crisis and mischievous kids building a tree fort.

In 2005, the District, under more competent leadership and direction, scoped a steel structure that was secure and could hold its own against prospective looters. Of course, in the spirit of tossing out anything and everything scoped by intelligent predecessors, these structures were re-scoped to reduce the per unit cost. In the process, structural integrity and adequate security were eliminated and now money will forever be poured into keeping the equipment inside stocked to a usable level.

Saving a few capital fund dollars today while blowing a wad of general fund dollars day after day, for the rest of forever. Another triumph in facilities management.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Disgruntled or uninformed - those are your choices

When my supervisor left the Edmonds School District in 2005, his insulating powers left with him. When fecal matter hit the fan, he was always standing between us and that fan. The extent of our collective observation would be nothing more than the faint whiff of something unsavory. What arrived in his place was someone with fecal matter between his ears. No insulating happened and the exposure to all that was unholy was laid out right before us. It was unpleasant. It was raw. It was agonizing to behold. What was once explained in advance and resulted from departmental collaboration was now plunked down in reeking filth without so much as an introduction.

For those among you that still do not know, I love the District sincerely. I want to see our public schools thrive and churn out healthy, happy and intellectually-developed young men and women. Unfortunately, such results depend on money. The same money that is being handed out in questionable land transactions and through unnecessary raises for only district administrators. Employees on the front line have to carry the burden of program cuts and staffing reductions - not administrators. The real sacrifices are being made in the classrooms, when class sizes increase and academic programs are scaled back. Students have fewer opportunities. Staff have greater pressures on rapidly dwindling resources. How can you be anything other than dissatisfied?

Am I disgruntled, as Marla Miller claims in the board minutes? Absolutely. Disgruntled means "in a state of sulky dissatisfaction - discontent". What is happening in the District makes me incredibly dissatisfied and far from content. Like many people, I intend to express my dissatisfaction and discontent with a ballot. I will not vote for the current school board. I will be voting for change and strongly encourage others to join me.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

More than just stealing milk money

There has been a lot of chatter recently about the list of required items that students must purchase prior to the start of school. For the many families that have more than a single child in school, these expenses can quickly add up. Just ask Assistant Superintendent Marla Miller how much it cost her to send her children to school - or you can just read it in the Seattle Times by clicking here. Why would anyone advertise their hyper-extravagance during a budget crisis of $5 million?

For the many of us that are raising families on something less than a superintendent's salary - of more than $200,000 per year - these expenses can make a big difference in a family budget. A reasonable person has to ask the obvious question like, "How can a person earning more than the Vice President of the United States and Secretary of State endorse such a lengthy list of new fees and necessities?"

Are you aware that while parents and students were away from the classroom, the school board passed a rather large and grotesque set of raises for administrators that amount to just under $30.00 per student. How far could that $30.00 per student have gone toward helping correct other budget casualties? Why hand out cash to your friends with one hand while cutting back needed programs and services with the other?