Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obvious candidates for RIF action are insulated.

I was amused by the following response from the District to a Request for Review from the City of Lynnwood for a development scheduled to occur in the near future. Click here to have a look at what the District considers to be a meaningful and timely response.

First, the response from the District was due no later than October 29, 2008. This response was generated on October 31, 2008 and faxed to the City of Lynnwood on the same day. What took the District so long to get back to the regulating jurisdiction?

Second, the response was faxed. Why wouldn't the District at least scan the document and then email it to the City so it can easily become part of the development record? Notice how the fax didn't feed properly and everything is skewed slightly to the left.

Third, the letterhead still shows "Facilities AND Operations". Wasn't this issue resolved nearly two years ago? It really should be "Facilities Operations".

Fourth, the fax machine is still stamping the initiating fax number as a 670 number. Wasn't this issue resolved nearly three years ago?

Fifth, the response is hand-written. How is the District tracking developments if responses are hand-written? What happened to FileMaker Pro? What happens when staff want to determine how many developments have occurred in one jurisdiction or if staff want to determine how many developments have been assigned to one cluster of bus stops? Perhaps no one is tracking this information, which calls future student enrollment forecasts into question.

Sixth, why is the mislabeled department letterhead directing all calls to 425-431-7334? Doesn't the department have an office manager? Why would all calls go directly to the Director? Perhaps "director" means "director of telephone traffic".

An additional and obvious concern is that the District's template cites the assigned "safe" walk routes to bus stop locations and then in the next sentence declares they do "not have the expertise to prescribe remedies to address these safety issues". What safety issues? There are no safety issues mentioned. Besides, who better to evaluate student safety than a school district? What would a city or a developer know about keeping kids safe? Wouldn't that be best left in the hands of professionals?

For those of you that have been watching the financial turbulence at the District, you will know that the Superintendent is preparing a list of RIF candidates for the Board to "consider". Of course, placing the Director of Facilities AND Operations or the Planning and Property Management Clericalist on such a list may be viewed by others as following the recommendation of the blog - and we all know that would never happen. So to the current occupants of those positions, rest easy in knowing that image means a lot more to the District than financial prudence. Your days of draining public resources are far from over.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

School board president aspires to be oblivious.

At the last BM, Ann McMurray uttered a few words that will not soon be forgotten. It was in response to an attempt from a member of district staff to explain just a little about a project funded by taxpayers.

"Just to be oblivious would probably be best."

These eight, simple words capture the essence of what plagues our school district. On the one hand, the comment makes light of the need to be informed when spending public money. On the other, it appears to suggest that those of us in the audience would be amused by such a statement. Since I was the only one in the audience, and therefore 100% of the audience, I can assure that 100% of the audience was not amused.

Of course, there is the possibility that Ann thought the comment would be funny to her fellow board members. While likely, it just strengthens the argument that this school board is out of touch with their financial responsibilities. The fact that no one attends these board meetings, aside from collecting the meaningless certificates - doled out like raises to district administrators - just reinforces the fact that this board is unengaging, uninspiring and undeniably stupid.

Perhaps my perspective is skewed but was there ever a time when board meetings were well attended on a regular basis? What does that say about the subject matter? Sure, it might be a little dry at times, but the unsophisticated approach to public education that appears to have infected our region gives great cause for alarm. People in our community don't care about making our schools better and they have elected five idiots that feel the same way. Our community is unengaged and unsophisticated and they have elected like-minded representatives. The Board will never change until people in our community change.

An extension of this problem is the tendency of upper management at the District to go out of their way to hire morons that, for the last several years, have been driving in circles in their intellectual cul-de-sacs. The Board doesn't care about making our schools better and they have no understanding of what that process might entail. Without forming expectations of district management, mediocre staff will continually be collected for no other purpose than to keep an assortment of $700 Mirra chairs warm.

Monday, February 16, 2009

First casualities in the latest round of budget cuts?

The blog received comments from a number of people regarding the first casualties in the latest round of budget cuts. It is believed that cashiers at lunch will be eliminated, thereby requiring that the recent adjustments to the lunch line sequencing be altered, yet again.

Some of us were under the impression that the community discussions around the frozen cheese sandwich issue resulted in an acceptable solution. By placing cashiers at the front of the lunch line, students could have been identified as having ample credit for a lunch or insufficient funds, thereby requiring a frozen cheese sandwich. Well, with the elimination of cashiers, food service staff will have to bounce between dishing up meals and taking payment from children.

Perhaps the plan is to automate the payment process. Maybe children will be able to have their eyes scanned and be able to just walk in front of an iris scanner and their meal will just magically appear in front of them while the funds will be charged to their parents credit card. Perhaps the plan is to leave an old, rusty coffee can at the front of the lunch line for students to make their payments using the honor system. Maybe children will stick their finger into a machine that reads their fingerprint. If they have adequate funds, they get to keep their finger - if not, it is sliced into a vat of soup and they are handed a frozen cheese sandwich. Of course, they can only make that mistake ten times.

If lunch cashiers are eliminated, where does this put the conversation regarding frozen cheese sandwiches? Is Nick trying to break a record and collect Schrammies like they were Golden Globes?

At the last board meeting, the Board was discussing the need to close one of the District's production kitchens. The District has already decided not to buy another $110,000 oven.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

... and nobody saw that coming?

There was a time, not long ago, when we the taxpayers of the Edmonds School District were told of a magical scheme straight from the lips of Nick Brossoit. We were told that if we passed the construction bond for the new Lynnwood High School (after it failed twice before) the District would use the proceeds from the long-term ground lease of the current Lynnwood High School to fund a lengthy list of other projects. Well, it sounded good at the time... to a few of you, at least.

Now that Cypress Equities is "rethinking" their development and delaying the launch of any real revenue-generating project, one thing is for certain - the trough is empty and the cows are coming home to be milked.

As for Marla's claim that Cypress Equities is "still very interested in developing the site", she is clearly detached from the realities of our economic circumstances. Give me a break. Many of us in our 30s are "still very interested in" retiring, it just won't be happening anytime soon.

I have also been informed that Cypress Equities is just keeping their foot in the door. At the moment, they have no real plan to move forward with the current project and would never back out entirely, in case the economy improves in the next few years. What sense would there be to leave the project when they already have a number of available exit opportunities built into the ground lease? Why would they give up their seat in the first chair when it costs them nothing to sit there? There is no expiration date. There is no meter running. Why not maintain the illusion to your investors that you have yet another iron in the fire? Never mind that the fire is just orange paint.

Just how much money has been spent so far on consultants and lawyers to prepare the ground lease? What about the cost of converting the property from public use? What other magical sources of funds are available to renovate the ESC for Scriber Lake High School or develop the contaminated site for the new administration center? And where is all the money from the Old ESC site and the Maintenance and Transportation site?

The board may be dazzled by the illusion of intelligence in district management, but it is all quite relative, I assure you. Five imbeciles and an idiot are easily out-witted by a moron.