Tuesday, June 30, 2009

District will meddle in school board election

For those of you that may think our electoral process is free and impartial, let me caution you now. We have only to look at the record to see just how far the District is willing to go to protect their own.

It is only through having an unengaged crop of board members that management can force through poor property decisions and illegal procurement practices.

Bruce Williams
Shortly after Bruce was compelled to leave his home through the filing of a restraining order, the Superintendent contacted me to have Bruce's director district redrawn. The intent was to have a rather elongated portion of Director District 4 reach across Director District 1 and include the apartment on Edmonds Way where Bruce Williams was living at the time. Of course, I knew it was sheer lunacy and didn't even pursue the matter, and in the process tell the world we are a collection of fools.

Nick Brossoit even expended considerable effort researching WSSDA recommendations as to the validity of Bruce Williams' status - not that WSSDA governs anything or has any influence in the manner in which the District is held accountable to its voters. Clearly, Nick was prepared to chase the issue to the end of the earth to save Bruce from a premature departure from the Board.

Gary Noble
The matter surrounding Gary Noble was made very clear to the Board and the Superintendent and yet they spent public money hiring attorneys to unsuccessfully reinterpret the English language. Board policies made it very clear that his occupation of a board seat was improper and his position as a board member was unauthorized under the terms of board policies.

This forum reported the issue to the State Auditor and the Board was directed to adhere to their policies or change them. The Board elected to change board policies to allow clear conflicts of interest to occur. They also went as far as to review all board policies so as to suggest to voters that the need for changing the restriction upon Gary Noble was something they discovered on their own.

Oddly, even though the Board had gone through a review of all board policies, they had missed the policy regarding the filing date for school board candidates - a point raised by this forum. The change was immediately adopted because it was characterized as an issue coming from a member of the public. Had it been revealed that the blog made the suggestion to revise the policy, there would probably be a flurry of legal briefs generated and untold fortunes spent on lawyers.

Pat Shields
The issue surrounding Pat Shields has more to do with his affiliation with Powerful Partners and the protection the program has been provided. Despite having signed a lease, Powerful Partners refused to honor their obligation to the tax-payers of this district. When the matter was brought to the attention of the State Auditor, Powerful Partners had mysteriously changed their name to Powerful Tutors, though still used their original name to endorse the District's ballot action.

The refusal of Powerful Partners to pay the rent was particularly painful since it had been happening for more than seven years and the District was in the process of redefining their facility use policy and seeking to pass along rental obligations to casual users of community facilities - particularly parent groups and fund-raising activities in support of district schools.

Susan Phillips
No one is saying that Susan Phillips is a bad person. On the contrary, her willingness to continue her involvement in the community should be applauded. Unfortunately, this district needs someone on the Board that cares about the financial stamina of our public schools. We need someone that knows what enrollment forecasting is all about. We need someone that knows a scheme when they see one. We need someone that knows how the District works from the inside. We need someone on the Board that isn't afraid to speak up for tax-payers and ensure that public funds are spent appropriately.

Unfortunately, that person is not Susan Phillips.

The District needs someone on the Board that understands facilities issues. We need someone on the Board that knows about the legal requirements of public procurement. We need someone on the Board that knows what a Capital Facilities Plan is and the impact such a document has on an operating budget. We need someone on the Board that is significantly more critical of how dollars are spent on education than a group of five people with an irrefutable belief that any money thrown in the direction of education is money well spent.

In times like these, we need to be a little more particular and much more targeted in our approach to funding.

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