Apr 6, 2008

breaking: Board chooses no one; decision goes to ESD

The Olympia School Board deadlocked again, and, unless a miracle occurs, the decision rests with ESD 113's board of directors.

I'm certain The Olympian will publish a summary, with all the quotes; I was feeling too analytical, too reflective to liveblog.

Little changed between Thursday and today. Both sides held their positions, Frank Wilson and Carolyn Barclift refusing to name a second choice, Russ Lehman and Bob Shirley calling for compromise. At the impasse, Lehman and Shirley voted against a motion to send the list of three candidates to the ESD, and the matter ended with adjournment at 3:24.

Free of charge:

Shirley gave a five minute lecture on the proper role of the Board, Lehman accused Wilson and Barclift of merely paying lip service to diversity, and Barclift ended a sentence with "I'm not gonna go there." When Wilson said the Board should quit wasting time, and that the ESD could make a "good decision," Shirley asked him point-blank why the Board couldn't just do the same itself. Overall, there was enough general orneriness that you might think you'd walked into a church's choir practice.

What happens next? Word is the ESD Board, hamstrung by Policy 1250, which says it has to request a slate of candidates chosen "by majority vote" from the local Board, will have to amend its procedures and choose whoever they prefer. (This process usually gets frustrated when no one steps up.) Once April 13, the ultimate local deadline, passes, the ESD has to find a replacement for the District 2 seats "in a timely manner," which means whenever.

I'm disappointed, not so much by the outcome, which at times seemed inevitable, but by the failures in the process. The personality conflicts and political wrangling were no surprise to anyone who followed this fall's election, but if the Board had a preferential, rather than simple "majority rules" decision in a three-way contest, we may have already reached agreement, politics aside.

May. Also the name of the earliest month this affair might be settled--and when the district will send out word that, if it has to, it'll make a RIF list. After all, that budget shortfall isn't getting any shorter.

Update: The Olympian's summary, which gets some of it right, is posted.


Ryan said...

That's pretty incredible. Were I a voter I'd be furious that my elected school board punted on a decision this big.


Jim Anderson said...

They didn't so much "punt" as "volley for serve."

I've kept pretty detached from emotion on this one. Once it became clear that this was going to be another political battle over the future of the district--and it became clear a few weeks ago--I buckled down and concentrated on finishing my National Board portfolio. Head down, keep teaching. I blogged so others could know, and react accordingly.

Beth Flynn said...

The two Board members who "punted" were Frank and Carolyn. I was at the meeting today and the only Board member who spoke in anger was Carolyn but she stopped herself and said she wasn't going to go there.

When there are three candidates who are highly qualified, it is ridiculous that Carolyn and Frank can't come up with a second choice. Bob's comment regarding Frank's statement that any of the three applicants would do a good job was right on the money. If that's true, Frank should have a second choice.

This inability to make a decision lies soley with Frank and Carolyn. Of course, Carolyn's been in such a big hurry to send this decision to the ESD that it appears she's been told her choice will make the cut and she can get her way without having to compromise. I don't doubt that is true.

Anonymous said...

Jim, I am fascinated by your site, links, and appreciate your coverage on this matter as well as all the others. Keep up the great effort. I think I'll start passing out this website to folks who need the scoop.

Anonymous said...

Simple. Why doesn't the Board appoint the student rep as an official Board member? The only requirement is that they be registered to vote. If Adam isn't over 18 yet, go down the list of student officers from student President, VP, Sec, Treas, Math team capt, Football capt, prom queen, etc.

Russ said...

Mr. Anderson, as I've said before to you: you are a wonderful blogger and, according to many students, even a better teacher. Thank you!
Now, to the issue at hand... a bad journalist is one who thinks their job is always to take both sides, act like all sides are always equal, give them the same weight and space and call it good. We all know that many people (including the ed Board) at The Olympian can't really call tehmselves journalists but be careful here. The truth is simpler than it may appear.
There are two members of the board who apparently can't let the election go. Speakig for myself, the candidates I supported lost. I'm very sorry that is the case but life goes on. Since the election however: a winning member quit (months after he was looking for a way out) after he is assured that his candidates won and his replacement would be picked by at least two of his compadres; a superintendent (who was very likely on the "winning" side) sided with two union leaders, had an inappropriate communication with our counsel and clearly tried to figure out a way for the public (and the board) to be shielded from the truth; the former and the current president also had clearly inappropriate communications with the counsel and otherwise could't let the election go by trying to embarrass me with union "letters of concern"... in executive session.
Now we have two board members, the "winners", who won't compromise, yet want the "consensus " candidate (a man with a clear record of undistinction on the board many years ago, who would not even correspond with two members of the board because "there is no reason"), can't seem to find a second choice (even though there are "three highly qalified applicates" for the position).
The truth here is easier than it looks...to the countless people who render opinions but never seem to make it to a meeting.
Again, great seeing yopu bat the meeting...and blogging.