Seattle Hall Pass Podcast

E28 - 15 Compete for 2 Empty School Board Seats

March 02, 2024 Season 1 Episode 28
Seattle Hall Pass Podcast
E28 - 15 Compete for 2 Empty School Board Seats
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In Episode 28 of Seattle Hall Pass, Christie and Jane talk about the 15 applicants vying for two vacant seats on the seven-person Seattle School Board. Christie and Jane also share audio statements from 12 of the 15 applicants, so listeners can hear from them directly.

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Music by Sarah, the Illstrumentalist, logo by Carmen Lau-Woo.
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Episode 28 — 15 Compete for 2 Empty School Board Seats 

 A previous version of this episode implied that directors can't move to a different director district during their term. If a director moves out of their director district but stays within the school district, they can continue to serve until the next regularly scheduled school board election. That section also indicated that the school board could do something to change residency rules . Residency requirements for school boards are written into state law.  We've removed the section to avoid confusion. Please continue to send us corrections or suggestions at hello@seattlhallpass.org.

See our Show Notes.
Send errata and other notes to hello@seattlehallpass.org

[00:00:00] Christie Robertson: Welcome to Seattle Hall Pass, a podcast with news and conversations about Seattle Public Schools. I'm Christie Robertson.

[00:00:07] Jane Tunks Demel: And I'm Jane Tunks Demel. On today's episode, we are discussing the 15 applicants vying for two vacant seats on the seven-person Seattle School Board.

[00:00:16] Christie Robertson: There are four applicants for District 4, which was Vivian Song's district before she stepped down.

[00:00:22] Jane Tunks Demel: And there are 11 applicants for District 2, which was Lisa Rivera's seat. So there are nearly three times as many applicants in District 2 than District 4.

Before we start running through names. We want to include a statement from the Seattle Education Association, which is a union that represents about 6,000 teachers and other staff in Seattle Public Schools. Here is Jennifer Matter, the union president. 

[00:00:46] Jennifer Matter: During an election, there's a robust community engagement process that naturally occurs on the campaign trail with debates, endorsement meetings, door knocking, tabling. And that process serves multiple purposes and allows the community to get to know the candidates better in different settings and allows the candidates to learn about issues and develop relationships with the community. Obviously, this is not an election, but to the extent possible, we encourage forums and ways for candidates to engage with the community as much as possible prior to the appointment occurring.

[00:01:24] Christie Robertson: This episode is all about introducing you to the 15 applicants for the two school board director seats so you can be familiar with them as the process goes along. 

[00:01:35] Jane Tunks Demel: There are a lot of people speaking on this episode. And before we go further, we just want to note that each of the applicant’s opinions are their own. 

[00:01:45] Christie Robertson: And we'll start with District 2.

[00:01:46] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, and District 2 includes Ballard, Phinney Ridge, Southern Greenwood, Green Lake, Magnolia, Interbay, and some adjoining areas. We'll link to the District 2 map in our show notes.

[00:01:59] Christie Robertson: Yeah, it's a pretty big area. 

First up we have Sarah Clark. She is the Director of Policy at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She is from Seattle and she attended Seattle Public Schools herself as a highly capable student at Madrona, Washington, and Garfield. And she has lived in Crown Hill for a whopping 29 of her 39 years.

[00:02:25] Jane Tunks Demel: Wow, those are some seriously deep roots. 

[00:02:28] Christie Robertson: Yep. She has great budget and policy experience, and she seems analytical and data-driven, something we both appreciate.

[00:02:37] Jane Tunks Demel: She also said a few times in her application that she's committed to eliminating structural barriers for BIPOC children and families in Washington State.

[00:02:44] Christie Robertson: In her application, Clark says that she wants to prevent program cuts, especially to counselors, arts, and sports, which she notes can be important for youth mental health. And she sent us an audio statement.

[00:02:58] Jane Tunks Demel: That's right. We contacted each of the applicants asking them to answer the following question: "Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the school board?"

[00:03:08] Christie Robertson: And here is what Sarah Clark said in response.

[00:03:11] Sarah Clark: Hi, my name is Sarah Clark. There are several reasons I volunteered for the Open Seattle Public School Board Director 2 seat. First and foremost, I want to give back to my community. I've spent most of my life living in the Crown Hill/Whittier Heights neighborhood and attended public schools from 1989 to 2003.

Second, I have a background in educational policy and organizational leadership to help the school board face an uncertain future and address urgent challenges that need solutions now. The state's failure to meet their K-12 funding mandate means there are a lot of tough staffing choices, school closures, and hard decisions ahead. 

We did not get here overnight. I moved back to the region 11 years ago and was surprised by the state of our local K-12 schools. My sister, who was a paraeducator at the time, told stories of under-resourced counseling offices, cuts in arts, language, and athletic departments, and the lack of progress on integration was really concerning to me.

Finally, I'm offering my service because of my strong belief in offering our youth. My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, taught me in their development preparation for the future, which is critical to the future of our city, state, and global community. I look forward to building deeper relationships with students, educators, and families and district 2 to ensure the actions I take are informed by their voices.

Thank you. 

[00:04:30] Christie Robertson: So that's Sarah Clark.

[00:04:33] Jane Tunks Demel: And so next up is Gina Griffiths. Gina is a teacher who is heavily involved in arts education and advocacy. She answered our question about motivation this way.

[00:04:44] Gina Griffiths: Hi, my name is Gina Griffiths and I'm running for Seattle School Board in District 2 because every child deserves access to high-quality education. I'm a proud resident of Loyal Heights, where my family has planted our roots. As a mother to a five-year-old son, I have a deep personal stake in the success of our schools and the future of education in Seattle.

Currently, I'm working as an elementary school teacher with a master's degree in education and over 10 years of experience in schools. I've seen firsthand the challenges educators face and the frustrations families feel at times. I understand the needs of our students and our teachers. Seattle Public Schools are grappling with a significant budget shortfall, declining enrollment, and unacceptable academic outcomes.

I will prioritize student voice and community engagement. I will advocate for greater transparency and accountability in order to improve outcomes for our least reached students. Despite the challenges ahead, I'm unwavering in my belief that together we can build a better school district. 

[00:05:43] Jane Tunks Demel: Griffiths teaches at a private school in West Seattle. And here's what she said about that in her written application. 

[00:05:50] Christie Robertson: Okay, I'll be Gina. [Reading from Gina Griffiths’s application] “Having spent time at public and private schools as a teacher, I do not think that private schools are inherently better at teaching students or welcoming families or creating joyful learning experiences. I do however feel they are much better at selling themselves, telling their story, and including parents in the decision making.

“This is where I feel SPS could improve. As someone that has been on both sides of the public and private school system, I feel uniquely qualified to offer my insights and ideas about how SPS could better attract, enroll, and retain families to attend their schools.”

[00:06:29] Jane Tunks Demel: Hear, hear. 

[00:06:30] Christie Robertson: And that's something that Superintendent Jones talks about quite a bit. 

[00:06:35] Jane Tunks Demel: Well, he always mentions it during the budget work sessions, but then I never see a plan about how to execute this. 

[00:06:41] Christie Robertson: Oh, that's true. He's probably a little bit tied up with other things.

[00:06:45] Jane Tunks Demel: Yes, he is busy.

[00:06:47] Christie Robertson: Okay, I will take Danielle Gahl, a PTA leader from Catherine Blaine K-8 and a board member of Inspire Washington. She was also Executive Director for Arts Ed Washington from 2017 to 2020. Arts Ed and Inspire Washington strive to increase equitable public access to the arts. Art sEd specifically has goals around addressing inequities in arts education throughout Washington's K-12 school system.

Here is Gahl’s audio statement in answer to: Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the school board?

[00:07:25] Danielle Gahl: Hi, my name is Danielle Gall and I'm a candidate for District 2. If there's one thing that motivates me, it's got to be our students. You know, they are such unique individuals, each of them, and they deserve to be seen, heard, and valued. And I think the best way for us to value them is to invest in them. 

Which means that we are going to have this big shortfall, and we're going to need to have some long-term strategies and some short-term solutions to be able to address that. Also, I would love to encourage your listeners to get ready to lobby in the next legislative session because we are going to have to work really hard to make sure that we don't have this kind of problem happen again.

Thanks.

[00:08:15] Christie Robertson: Danielle Gahl was also a middle school teacher in Texas and I thought this was an interesting quote from her application that draws on that experience. 

[00:08:24] Jane Tunks Demel: [Reading from Danielle Gahl’s application] “My experiences during the No Child Left Behind era in Texas taught me that quantitative metrics should not stand alone. As we set goals and monitor progress, it's vital to remember that a single data point can only reveal a fraction of the story. A comprehensive and nuanced understanding requires examining a wide array of indicators that reflects students diverse experiences and needs.”

[00:08:48] Christie Robertson: Thanks for being Danielle Gahl, Jane. 

And on community engagement, you'll like this Jane, Gahl suggests regular listening sessions to truly understand and represent community's needs and perspectives.

[00:09:01] Jane Tunks Demel: Oh yes, I love that. 

Another applicant, Eric Feeny, emphasized funding in his statement to us. Here's what he said. 

[00:09:09] Eric Feeny: My top issue is funding, but I'll come at it from the lens of coalition building, which ties into another of my priorities, improving community responsiveness. SPS has at least a 25 percent funding shortage due to local inflation and needs that are unique to cities. We can and will be creative to improve efficiency, but when you're driving a car with three tires, securing a fourth tire will make for a much smoother ride.

To fix the state funding problem, we need to strengthen our position by unifying the message with other large urban metros. But more importantly, we need to engage representatives from the rest of the state to win them as allies for the freedom to let us solve our own problem. As to how coalition building ties back to better serving the community, I've seen too many concerns fall off the SPS radar from my spectator seat.

So if appointed, I plan to organize constituents that reach out into interest groups so their concerns will be strengthened and so we can work with them better. Similar to a sports arena, the difference between individual cheers and sections chanting in unison.

[00:10:04] Jane Tunks Demel: Feeny is a long-term PTA board member at Cascadia, one of the elementary schools that serves the highly capable cohort.

Feeny also had new ideas about how the school board should engage with the community, such as 30 minutes of mingling at every school board meeting.  He's clearly an out-of-the-box thinker.

[00:10:32] Christie Robertson: Are you ready for Ramona Hattendorf?

[00:10:34] Jane Tunks Demel: Yep.

[00:10:35] Christie Robertson: I have to admit I have a bias here. I've been watching Ramona Hattendorf's work for close to a decade. She has been the Director of Public Policy and Civic Engagement at the Arc of King County since 2016. And the Arc, if you're not familiar with it, is an organization that supports and advocates with families of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Her top priority for school board work, not surprisingly, is an educational system that works for all kids. And this is what she talked about in her voice memo to us. 

[00:11:12] Ramona Hattendorf: Hi, my name is Ramona Hattendorf. I'm one of the applicants for District 2. My passion is inclusive education. Inclusionary practices are an intentional way of engaging students and providing support: respond to the child, meet them where they're at, design learning spaces that consider sensory needs, empower students to make choices.

Inclusive education is best practice for all students, with decades of research behind it. It's my passion, because it centers on kids who are often pushed out. We see the same student profile in suspension and expulsion, restraint and isolation, and early withdrawal. These kids have potential. They have imagination, insight, and intelligence.

I want schools where they and all their classmates thrive and have an equal opportunity to benefit.

[00:12:01] Christie Robertson: She talks a lot about her extensive experience in her application. Ramona Hattendorf's is one of the couple of applications that I think would be really worth people's while to read. 

[00:12:12] Jane Tunks Demel: I also thought her answer to the application question about the school board's three goals for student outcomes was interesting.

She had a more holistic view of how to measure success. And suggested a variety of other indicators that might work, such as school climate survey data, family and staff feedback, and disciplinary data. She said that looking at test scores in a couple of areas will not give you the information you need to guide transformative work.

[00:12:39] Christie Robertson: She was also president of the Seattle Council PTSA from 2009 to 2010, which was a time of school closures, something that will be coming up again in the next couple of years. She says in her application that during her many years as an SPS parent and community leader, she's lived through school closures, budget cuts, collective bargaining, and all the advocacy and communication to families that entailed. And she wants to ensure that our school communities feel supported, heard, and connected during this time.

Another District 2 applicant, Janai Ray, is also involved in the PTA. She served as PTSA president at McClure [Middle School] for two years. In her statement to us, she outlined the supports she thinks that all students need. 

[00:13:26] Janai Ray: Hi, my name is Janai Ray. My priority within the education system is helping students get the support needed to be productive. SPS students require mental, physical, and academic support. Counselors are needed in the schools to help with mental struggles facing our youth today and how to deal with stress in a healthy way.

Physical support for students includes proper nutritional information, healthy exercise and sleep habits, and seeing doctors and dentists regularly for checkups. Academic support will depend on each student's individual needs. These needs can be assessed through assessment tests and also through understanding of classroom concepts ascertained by an educational professional with minimal societal bias input. To have a well-rounded student prepared for the future, academics must include the arts and learning life skills. Thank you. 

[00:14:29] Jane Tunks Demel: So that's Janai Ray.

[00:14:31] Christie Robertson: Next up is Sean Sullivan. 

[00:14:33] Christie Robertson: He has two kids at West Woodland [Elementary] School. Here's what Sullivan said in answer to our question about his motivation to serve on the board.

[00:14:44] Shawn Sullivan: Hello, Seattle. I'm Shawn Sullivan, a paren of two students at West Woodland Elementary and a candidate for Seattle School Board of Directors. My motivation to serve on the board is rooted in my experience as a parent. I've seen firsthand SPS's challenges educating our children, and they're all rooted in one thing: funding.

The district has a deficit of over $100 million. Cuts to programs, staff, and even school closures are already part of the discussion. Community outcry narrowly prevented major cuts this year, but these same topics will come up next year. We can't keep kicking the can down the road. We need to find sustainable funding increases or else we'll lose educational services, students, families, and the community as a whole need.

That's a prerequisite to success in all the district's other priorities, like ensuring equitable education, addressing the increasing child mental health crisis, and improving educational outcomes. On the school board this will be my top priority. I believe that by working together as a community, we can solve this problem.

It won't be easy, but we simply have to do it. With my experience as a parent, school volunteer, engineer and entrepreneur. I have the skills to help us solve this problem and I intend to do it. Thanks. 

[00:15:45] Christie Robertson: He's CTO for a tech startup that uses AI to create educational materials, which is utterly fascinating to me. And it seems like he would have some pretty interesting perspectives on curriculum and instruction.

[00:15:58] Jane Tunks Demel: He's got a science background too. 

[00:16:00] Christie Robertson: Yeah, he actually founded a genomics company and ran it for years. Analytical and organizing experience sounds like to me.

[00:16:07] Jane Tunks Demel: And we've got another scientist who applied for District 2, Carol Thompson. She's worked as a director and project manager at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. She clearly also takes an analytical approach and goes deep in the application about the goals and guardrails, offering many suggestions about how implementation could be improved. 

And here's her answer to our question about what was her motivation in applying for the board position.

[00:16:34] Carol Thompson: My name is Carol Thompson. The issue that should be on everyone's mind is the budgetary crisis that Seattle Public Schools is facing. I have always been a strong supporter of the idea of public schools that they can be the great opportunity that helps the next generation succeed, wherever they started.

With the pandemic and declining enrollment, to remain solvent this district needs to make tough budgetary decisions while also making the schools a desirable and equitable solution for families. This is what motivates me to serve on the board. 

[00:17:04] Jane Tunks Demel: And these are the top candidates. There were a few people that we reached out to and we didn't hear back from them. 

[00:17:10] Christie Robertson: If you want to read their applications, there are a few more: Kelly Lusnia, Jayne Garcia, and Jonathan Hendrix.

[00:17:18] Jane Tunks Demel: Hey Christie, should we talk about District 4 too?

[00:17:22] Christie Robertson: Yep, four people running for District 4. And District 4 includes Fremont, Queen Anne, South Lake Union, and a portion of downtown.

[00:17:31] Jane Tunks Demel: And this was Vivian Song's former seat.

[00:17:33] Christie Robertson: Mm-hmm.

[00:17:35] Jane Tunks Demel: Let's start with Parent Advocate Laura Marie Rivera, who is a parent of four students who are attending or have graduated from Seattle Public Schools.

[00:17:44] Christie Robertson: If you recognize that name, it's because she's had her eye on the District 4 seat for a while.

[00:17:49] Jane Tunks Demel: She was one of three finalists during the District 4 board appointment process to fill Eden Mack's seat after Eden Mack's resigned earlier that year in 2021. At that point, Erin Dury was selected to fill the seat. Rivera then ran against Dury and Vivian Song during the election in 2021.

[00:18:08] Christie Robertson: Vivian Song obviously won that election because she is one of the directors who just resigned. Hence, the District 4 seat is open once again. That is a lot of turnover.

[00:18:21] Jane Tunks Demel: It sure is. 

[00:18:23] Christie Robertson: Since 2021, [Laura Marie] Rivera has been a regular at Public Comment, testifying in support of students with dyslexia and other disabilities, as well as twice exceptional kids, who are advanced learners who also have a disability. And she's been involved with the Seattle Special Education PTSA.

[00:18:41] Jane Tunks Demel: Here's what she said about special education and students with learning disabilities in her application. 

[00:18:46] Christie Robertson: I'll be Rivera. [Reading from Laura Marie Rivera’s application] “SPS needs to do the work, build the bridges, and truly support our students with disabilities. There is a lot of talk about equity and the students that are furthest from educational justice, but it is sad and harmful that students with disabilities are not being included and uplifted.” 

[00:19:05] Jane Tunks Demel: And here's another part of her application that resonated with us.

[00:19:09] Christie Robertson: [Reading from Laura Marie Rivera’s application] “One simple but meaningful thing that the board can do is remember to think about students with disabilities and how they will be affected by any given policy or practice, then also remember to address those aspects in their comments and decisions.” 

And here's what Laura Marie Rivera said in her audio statement to us.

[00:19:27] Laura Marie Rivera: Thank you to Christie and Jane for including the candidates on your podcast. The school board is such an interesting role and just so often overlooked. You know, when we have a problem or a complaint, the school board is often where we turn, but the real magic of the board is in the planning and curriculum and shaping the future of our next generation.

So, in answer to your question, the kids are the issue that motivates me to serve. I have four children, and they mean the world to me. And I know parents everywhere feel the same. But I'm also an educator, and I understand that this time with them is fleeting, and we really need to make the most of it. So I guess you could say that my issue is the future.

We must ensure that we are giving students the skills and experiences and empathy that they will need to succeed, and we need to acknowledge that success may look different for each child, whether we're talking about college, the trades, arts and media, or anything else. We want our students to be prepared to go out there and thrive.

That's what I want to see for each of our 50,000 students. 

[00:20:25] Christie Robertson: Let's talk about Rachelle Olden. She's another impressive applicant who helps lead Google's Tech Equity Collective, which is an initiative started by Google to accelerate Black innovation and representation in tech. She was also an MBA fellow at the Gates Foundation. And according to an article in Shondaland that we'll link to in the show notes, Olden's team at Google has the ambitious goal of doubling the number of Black software developers in the U.S. by 2030. Wow, that is ambitious.

[00:20:57] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, that's serious.

[00:20:59] Christie Robertson: When we interviewed Brandon Hersey in our last episode, he said that he wanted to expand the board's goals to include outcomes for Black girls. And it seems like Olden's experience in broadening opportunities and representation could help push that forward.

Rachelle Olden lives in Belltown and is a first-generation college student and closing the persistent academic achievement gap is a high priority for her. And here is what she said about what motivated her to run.

[00:21:28] Rachelle Olden: Hi, I'm Rachelle Olden, and I am a candidate for District 4 Director on the Seattle School Board. An issue that motivates me to serve on the Seattle School Board is school enrollment. I believe in creating an educational system where everyone is excited about public education. Where everyone is eager to enroll their kids and where kids are eager to learn and to grow.

I want to create schools that offer opportunities to all, regardless of your background. I want schools where students are learning and growing. Every student sees possibility and opportunity in our Seattle Public Schools. And that's what I'm going to be focused on: helping to create schools where learning is a possibility for all.

Thank you.

[00:22:28] Christie Robertson: So that's Rachelle Olden.

[00:22:30] Jane Tunks Demel: And next up, we have union leader and attorney Joe Mizrahi. He is currently serving his third term as the elected Secretary Treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers 3000, which is the largest union in Washington State. That union represents essential workers in the grocery, retail, and health care industries.

We recommend reading his application, which is super inspiring. Here is some of what he shares about his experience as a public school student in a San Diego suburb.

[00:23:01] Christie Robertson: [Reading from Joe Mizrahi’s application] He says, “I grew up as a POC student in a highly segregated district, fraught with barriers to accessing everything from college preparatory classes to inconsistent AP course offerings to regressive discipline practices that perpetuated tracking students by the color of their skin and the neighborhood they lived in.”

[00:23:23] Jane Tunks Demel: And Mizrahi's wife is an elementary school teacher at a Title I dual-language school in Bellevue. He also has three kids who are currently students in Seattle Public Schools. And here's his audio statement about what motivated him to apply for the position.

[00:23:38] Joe Mizrahi: Hi, my name is Joe Mizrahi, he/him pronouns. And thank you so much for the opportunity to speak on this podcast. And I'm sorry if there's any background noise, I'm actually in an airport right now. I'm really excited to be considered for the open District 4 Seattle School Board position. I'm a person of color, first-generation American from a refugee family.

And, you know, my background has really led me to devote my life to fighting for equity and social justice. I went to law school to focus on workers rights. I’ve spent the last 15 years working for United Food and Commercial Workers, representing grocery and health care workers. In that role, I talk to low-wage workers in Seattle every day and know how deeply they need a Seattle school system that's built around closing the opportunity gap for their kiddos.

I'm a parent of three kids in the district as well, so I've seen the best the district has to offer. I've also seen the cracks in the system. I'm deeply steeped in education issues. Both my parents were lifelong educators — special education teachers — and my wife is actually the principal at a Title One elementary school out in Bellevue.

I really look forward to engaging with the District 4 students, parents, and community members. The issue that I care about the most, because of my lived experience, is spending time leading with equity as a core value, especially when it comes to budget issues. In my professional life, I've served on boards responsible for billion-dollar budgets, so I know how to navigate hard budget decisions while not compromising on values. So when I look at the district's student outcome goals, I feel like they're actually very grounded in the accountable and measurable equity work that needs to be done. As a board member. I want to make sure that we stay focused, keep grounded in those goals as we make tough and hard decisions.

My appointment has already been endorsed by King County Council Member  Teresa Mosqueda and Rod Dembowski. And I really look forward to engaging in this process and having as many conversations as possible. Thank you.

[00:25:10] Jane Tunks Demel: Joe Mizrahi is also one of the few applicants who talked about dealing with the ongoing budget challenges facing the school district

[00:25:20] Christie Robertson: I think it would be great to have a first-generation or immigrant voice on the board. Just from talking to families of immigrants, especially the ones that have limited English, they have a unique experience in Seattle Public Schools that’s, quite frankly, often really bad, especially in special education. So I think it's really important to tap into those lived experiences. 

[00:25:45] Jane Tunks Demel: So that's Joe Mizrahi. He's a very impressive applicant with a wealth of experience. Seattle Public Schools would be really lucky to have him.

[00:25:54] Christie Robertson: And last but not least, we have Gabriela Gonzalez, who also has that valuable lens of a first-generation American. She currently works under the title of Chief Data Officer, which would undoubtedly be helpful for the kind of analytics needed in evaluating the budget. And she has taken on many leadership roles, including on boards. 

I really liked her answer to a question about progress monitoring.

[00:26:23] Jane Tunks Demel: [Reading from Gabriela Gonzalez’s application] "Based on recent progress monitoring, it appears that the goals for 2024 are at risk of not being met. From my experience, achieving multiyear goals necessitates regular monitoring and realignment. This realignment should not aim to change the goals, but rather to identify which strategies and tactics are effective and which are not. Such insights should lead to adjustments in execution."

[00:26:50] Christie Robertson: And here's Gabriela Gonzalez’s answer to our question about an issue that motivated her to run. 

[00:26:56] Gabriela Gonzalez: Thank you for this opportunity to share with your audience. There are a few issues that motivate me to serve, but if I were to pick a top one, it would be the impact of low enrollment and resulting budget challenges. So why this issue? For me, the journey to enroll my daughter last year was filled with questions, confusion, and concern.

What are the options? What will happen if the school closes? Low enrollment and budget issues are connected. And the impact of these issues are felt by the families and the children. Fear of school closing, working through mixed classes, these add extra stressors to parenting. When big problems present themselves, everyone usually has an opinion on how to fix.

I'm not here to just provide opinions. I believe that there's no single solution. Instead, it will require all of those who are responsible to work together to break down those big problems into actionable pieces. I want to serve to bring my expertise in this area so we can tackle these big problems. Thank you. 

[00:28:01] Christie Robertson: So, Jane, wow, that is a really impressive field of applicants for District 4.

[00:28:07] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, it sure is. And overall, it's a lot of strong applicants willing to take on the district's challenges in, essentially, what is a volunteer role.

[00:28:16] Christie Robertson: Yes, that is impressive. I want to put in a word about some people that we're not seeing on this list of applicants. Most significantly, there's people who don't have the bandwidth or the financial means to do a ton of work without earning a salary. So remember, this job only pays $4,000 a year. A year. There was a bill this year brought by state Senator Nguyen to provide at least some salary for school board work. And it did not get very far. Maybe it'll come back next year.

 The other piece is who we don't see when it's time for elections. And it's all of these really amazing applicants here. I hope that we all think about who has come out for this appointment versus who comes out for an election cycle, in terms of both quantity and quality. And I think I'm allowed to say that has somebody who ran for the school board last election.

So I wonder what the fundamental difference was. None of these people ran in the last election. Was it the campaigning that's required to run in an election? Was it the fundraising? Was it the fact that this position will be for two years versus four if you were elected? Or is it that the people who will determine their appointment their fellow co-workers, their future co-workers, as opposed to an entire city of voters who mostly are uninformed and a handful of editorial boards and their endorsements.

[00:31:16] Jane Tunks Demel: It also could be just because there's no incumbents.

[00:31:20] Christie Robertson: So we don't know what the reason is for this, but we are very excited to have so many amazing people applying for this position and we're excited to see what happens next. 

In terms of a timeline, the district plans to hold a candidates forum on March 21st or 27th and appoint the new members at its April 3rd meeting.

 And then they're going to administer the Oath of Office the next day on April 4th.

[00:31:45] Jane Tunks Demel: And at that April 3rd meeting, the superintendent and his staff will be previewing their proposed budgets for the next three school years. So it'll be great to have seven people on the board to do that important work. 

[00:31:57] Christie Robertson: That April 3rd meeting is going to be a very full one. 

[00:32:00] Jane Tunks Demel: And that concludes this episode. Our show notes are available at Seattlehallpass.org.

[00:32:06] Christie Robertson: You can subscribe or donate to support our podcast. Email us at hello@seattlehallpass.org. I'm Christie Robertson.

[00:32:15] Jane Tunks Demel: And I'm Jane Tunks Demel. We'll be back with more episodes soon, and we hope you'll join us next time on Seattle Hall Pass.