Seattle Hall Pass Podcast

E34 - Finalist Forum

March 30, 2024 Christie Robertson & Jane Tunks Demel Season 1 Episode 34
Seattle Hall Pass Podcast
E34 - Finalist Forum
Seattle Hall Pass Podcast +
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The 8 finalists for the Seattle School Board Director positions for Director Districts 2 and 4 participated in a candidate forum moderated by two students, Aayush Muthuswamy and Semai Hagos.

The finalists for District 2 are:

  • Carol Thompson
  • Sarah Clark
  • Danielle Gahl
  • Shawn Sullivan

The finalists for District 4 are:

  • Rachelle Olden
  • Joe Mizrahi
  • Gabriella Gonzalez
  • Laura Marie Rivera

See our Show Notes

Contact us -

Leave a voice message -

Support the Show.

Music by Sarah, the Illstrumentalist, logo by Carmen Lau-Woo.
Sign up for our newsletter

E34 - Finalist Forum
re: Seattle School Board Special Candidate Forum, 2024-03-27

See our Show Notes

Contact us -


[00:00:06] Christie Robertson: Welcome to Seattle Hall Pass, a podcast with news and conversations about Seattle Public Schools. I'm Christie Robertson.

[00:00:13] Jane Tunks Demel: And I'm Jane Tunks Demel.

In today's episode, we're recapping the forum for the vacant school board seats in director districts 2 and 4.

[00:00:22] Christie Robertson: Yep, in less than a week, on Wednesday, April 3rd, the current five Seattle School Board directors will be voting for which final candidate from each district will join them on the dais. 

[00:00:34] Jane Tunks Demel: Those two people will be sworn in the very next day on April 4th. 

[00:00:38] Christie Robertson: The candidate forum was held at Lincoln high school and live streamed on SPS TV. There's a recording at the Seattle Schools website. 

[00:00:46] Jane Tunks Demel: The forum was moderated by two students. Ayush Muthuswamy, 

[00:00:50] Aayush Muthuswamy: My name is Aayush Muthuswamy. I'm a senior here at Lincoln high school and a school board student member for the 23/24 school year. 

[00:00:56] Jane Tunks Demel: And Semai Hagos, 

[00:00:58] Semai Hagos: I'm Semai Hagos, a senior at Ballard High School, and I'm the president of the Black Student Union and the Multicultural Student Union. Additionally I'm also the second vice of the Washington State NAACP Youth Council.

[00:01:11] Christie Robertson: School board student members Lola van der Neut and Luna Crone-Barón also helped plan the forum.

The format of the forum was: opening and closing statements, five questions, and a lightning round. And how many people would you say were in the audience, Jane? Like 40?

[00:01:29] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, that sounds about right. And it looks like the YouTube video has more than a hundred views so far.

[00:01:35] Christie Robertson: So that's not a ton of people compared to how many people live in those districts or in the city of Seattle. But, still, it was a good opportunity. I thought the district did a great job of putting on the forum.

[00:01:48] Jane Tunks Demel: Christie and I were there in person, and the current directors sat in the front row. So you could see when someone said something that resonated with them.

[00:01:55] Christie Robertson: Superintendent Jones was there as well. In fact, remember Jane, there was that one question where they asked how the candidate would advise the superintendent on the budget. And I thought it was funny to see them actually looking at the superintendent and giving him advice, since school board candidates come out of nowhere with no particular expertise. But he took it in stride.

[00:02:19] Jane Tunks Demel: So let's get to some of the questions.

Q: Why Are You Running

[00:02:22] Jane Tunks Demel: The first question was, “Why are you running?” And that elicited a lot of interesting answers. 

We'll start with Sarah Clark, who's a candidate in District 2, and went through Seattle Public Schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. She also participated in the Highly Capable program. 

[00:02:39] Sarah Clark: I had a mixed experience. While I received a quality education, I was separated from most of my peers of color because I was in a program that they didn't have access to. And fast forward 20 years, I think we haven't made much progress since then. And so I would like to be a part of. the solution. 

[00:02:52] Christie Robertson: Carol Thompson was motivated by her school experience. She grew up poor, but she said she felt seen.

[00:03:08] Carol Thompson: I felt taken care of. Our high school was a blue ribbon school, and I had a lot of opportunities. People jumped up and made sure I was registered for PSATs or whatever it was before I even knew I was supposed to. And made sure that it got paid for. 

[00:03:22] Christie Robertson: Danielle Gahl said that she felt called to service.

[00:03:26] Danielle Gahl: I think the place that my superpower lies is in listening. And right now we have this opportunity to listen to students, to listen to our community, and to take the time to do that. 

[00:03:40] Shawn Sullivan: Shawn Sullivan said he was running to give back to the community.I'm a white, straight, cishet male. I've had basically every privilege that you could ask for. And I didn't earn any of it. And I feel a responsibility to pay that back and to solve those problems and to make up for the disadvantages that other people have been born into through no fault of their own.

[00:04:03] Jane Tunks Demel: Moving to District 4, Rachelle Olden says she was running because she's tired.

[00:04:08] Rachelle Olden: I'm tired. I am tired of hearing about the opportunity gap, and I'm tired of hearing about the lack of equity in our school systems. And because I'm tired, I have to do something about it. I think that each of us have a responsibility to play a role. And this is me trying to do my part. 

[00:04:27] Christie Robertson: Joe Mizrahi experienced a lot of racism and inequity in his school districts when he was growing up. And as a result, he said he's made equity his life's work. He's running because he wants his three kids to grow up in a district that's rooted in equity.

[00:04:43] Joe Mizrahi: Specifically what I'd like to improve, I mean, I think we've all been talking about it, but the opportunity gap and how we address that and how we stay rooted in our student outcome goals.

[00:04:52] Christie Robertson: Gabby Gonzalez talked about her formative school experiences as well.

[00:04:58] Gabriela Gonzalez: when I went to high school, we used to have drive-by shooting drills. I witnessed the impact of teenage pregnancy, gang violence. And what impacted me the most was that of our 140 students, high school seniors that could graduate, only 40 of us were able to successfully graduate because the other 100 or more, didn't pass the assessments test. So that really has colored my experiences in terms of how lucky I am in terms of the opportunity that education has given me. 

[00:05:28] Jane Tunks Demel: Laura Marie Rivera took the opportunity to discuss disability, which she pointed out did not otherwise come up in the discussion that night. 

[00:05:36] Laura Marie Rivera: SPS has more students identified with disabilities than we receive funding for and are able to accommodate. So, just let that sink in. But then recognize that there are a whole lot of other students in our schools that have learning disabilities that have not even been identified. Oftentimes, these students are designated as stupid or lazy or not trying, but the truth is that they are trying. Their brain simply doesn't work the same way as a typical student. 

Q: Governance

[00:06:02] Christie Robertson: The next question was a test of the candidates conception of governance, something that the board directors clearly said they wanted candidates to understand. All of the candidates had heard this message, and they'd studied up. , 

We're going to play you a few of the most interesting clips here. Starting with Carol Thompson.

[00:06:22] Carol Thompson: I've got, had a lot of experience in my program and project management, type career of doing some of those five and 10 year plans. for organizations, for programs and figure out what are the outcomes we're really looking for, right? And then how do we partner with the district to figure out, is there an operational plan, an implementation plan that helps us get there and making sure that our coverage, our planning for these goals is not such that we set ourselves up for failure because they're too ambitious and we don't have a path forward.

[00:06:54] Jane Tunks Demel: Among the district 4 candidates. I thought Joe Mizrahi's answer was interesting. He's served on a lot of boards and he talked about his impressions from those experiences.

I've seen people who come onto a board and they just want to change everything. They think that they know everything and they don't respect the other board members. They don't respect the staff that actually are the full time people working in these jobs and understand a lot about what makes it work.

[00:07:18] Joe Mizrahi: I've also seen people go the opposite direction and treat it like too much of a volunteer job and not devote the time and energy and the critical thinking required to do the job well. So I really think there are two basic components to effective governance. The first is to keep focused on the goals, to ask the right questions to the staff.

We're actually lucky, all of us, that we're coming onto a board that has very clear student outcome goals and guardrails. They're well written out. They are measurable, they are accountable, and it's really our job to ask questions of the district staff when they come in, to make sure that they are adhering to those goals that have already been laid out.

The second is to be a liaison to the community, to explain what the guardrails are, what the goals are, why we are adhering to them, and then to listen to feedback and bring that back to the board. Those are the two things that we have to do as a board, and those are the two things that I think I can bring.

[00:08:06] Jane Tunks Demel: Rivera actually read an excerpt of her application because she said it captured her thoughts well, and that she was proud of it because it was borderline poetic.

[00:08:16] Laura Marie Rivera: The Seattle School Board is a bit of an enigma. It is everything and nothing depending on who you ask. It is an unpaid position that oversees a billion dollar budget. It is a role that voters often overlook, yet is expected to campaign citywide. It is the link between the district and the public, but it can be misunderstood from both sides.

It is frequently the subject of community parent criticism and also where they turn for help. I've been warned by many people, friends, colleagues, elected officials, even board members, that it is a difficult and sometimes thankless job. I believe that is true, but the school board, it's a challenging place, but our students are relying on us to get this right and make sure that they have access to the best possible public education.

[00:08:57] Christie Robertson: Another question asked of the candidates was what advice they would give the superintendent on the budget. 

[00:09:05] Laura Marie Rivera: Yeah. And Christie, you know I loved Gabby Gonzales's response because it was all about bringing people along.

[00:09:12] Jane Tunks Demel: She said that the board would do well to involve those who will be impacted by budget cuts and give them ownership during the process. 

[00:09:19] Gabriela Gonzalez: So there's going to be some short term pain. And as mentioned, we have to make those hard decisions. It is best to involve those individuals. They're going to be impacted by that short term pain, but a lot of people are okay with short-term pain as long as we know those are long-term solutions or a longer term solution, that's going to take us away from that short-term pain. 

[00:09:36] Christie Robertson: And did you hear Shawn Sullivan from the district to group? He went ahead and suggested That it might be time for a McCleary two.

[00:09:45] Shawn Sullivan: There's kind of two places to hold Olympia accountable. There's the ballot box and there's the courtroom. And the district has previously used the courtroom option. So I would have that on the table. I think the board owes it to the community to stand up for them and to try and go get the funding that they're constitutionally entitled to. 

[00:10:02] Jane Tunks Demel: Thompson's advice to the superintendent was to keep a growth mindset. Even in the face of a short term crisis.

[00:10:09] Carol Thompson: Think of it as a short-term crisis, but we should have a growth mindset. We can't be cutting things so badly that we hobble the school district and chase away more families. We have to be thinking about how we grow. 

We have to do it in a smart way. That would mean we have to prioritize the core mission of academics and make sure what we're doing will have really good outcomes there that we support the academics. But there are also a lot of other gems out there in our schools. And we have to understand with input from the families and the students, what those gems are that really need to be preserved. 

[00:10:39] Christie Robertson: And then Danielle gall and talking to the superintendent. She offered the board directors up to take some of the fallout from the budget cuts that are inevitably coming.

[00:10:49] Danielle Gahl: I'd like to encourage you to actually utilize your board members. Because we're all used to having people care loudly at us. And so with that in mind, I think that we can also be the folks that are advocating for the district, educating people out in our communities. And making sure that they're understanding why are we doing what we're doing.

[00:11:14] Jane Tunks Demel: I'm sure they love that.

[00:11:16] Christie Robertson: I know. I liked her line. I loved that people caring loudly at us.

[00:11:21] Jane Tunks Demel: Yes, that was really 

[00:11:22] Christie Robertson: It took me a minute to parse what she was saying. 

[00:11:25] Jane Tunks Demel: True. I liked the way she put it!

[00:11:27] Christie Robertson: I know, because she's saying it's because they care. That's something that gets lost on people sometimes. 

Q: Reaching Students & Historically Marginalized Groups

[00:11:33] Jane Tunks Demel: Next, there were a couple of questions about reaching out to groups that have historically been left out. Including students. 

I thought it was interesting how many speakers used an analogy for students and they all gave them a different name or a different role. Starting with Carol Thompson who called them our main customer. 

[00:11:55] Carol Thompson: Students. They're our main customer, right? They're the ones who we're trying to help prepare them for the future. And they're the ones who can tell us how they feel like it's going.

[00:12:07] Christie Robertson: Sarah Clark called them our main constituent.

[00:12:12] Sarah Clark: the students are, I would consider them in advocacy-speak, our main constituent,  And they have a unique role in that, that they are actively being affected by the systems and structures that are currently operating. And they will be in the system over a period of time. And so, they have the opportunity to actually experience changes, and give feedback as we're rolling things out and testing new programming.

[00:12:45] Christie Robertson: Shawn Sullivan said they were the primary beneficiaries of the public education system. 

[00:12:50] Shawn Sullivan: Students represent a critical source of information that we can't get from other places. So they're the primary beneficiaries of the public education system. And they're going to have extremely relevant perspectives that should be factored into decision making processes.

[00:13:05] Christie Robertson: And then Rachelle Olden called them the client. Here's what she said.

[00:13:11] Rachelle Olden: So I want to lead with WWSD - What Would Students Do? And that is the question I want to always think about, is “What are students going to do?” And I also look at students as, they are the client. And I'm the consultant. I don't know what's happening in schools every day. And so I am here to just glean from their experiences. 

[00:13:31] Christie Robertson: Rivera pointed out that students are the reason that we're here. 

[00:13:36] Laura Marie Rivera: Students are the reason that we all are here, and their feedback is so very valuable. The students know exactly how things are going in the classroom. And there's just so much that we can learn from them. They know when there are 51 students in their math class, and it is very difficult to learn. They know when they do not feel safe, and as adults, we really need to step up on that priority. They know when the classes they need are no longer offered. And they know that sometimes the staff does not have the time or capacity to write that letter of recommendation that they're going to need for college. And these are all actual examples, by the way.

[00:14:11] Christie Robertson: And finally, here's Joe Mizrahi’s take on the role that students play.

[00:14:15] Joe Mizrahi: I think the students are the people who we’re here to serve. That's the fundamental core aspect of the work. If we're not centering student voices, then what are we doing? In my day job, I talk to workers every day. That's the analog there, is that the members are the ones who I'm there to serve. And I will say that getting out and talking to workers, if I am making a tough decision, or even if I've just been staring at a spreadsheet for too long, that's the thing that reinvigorates me. That's the most exciting part of the job. And getting student feedback, talking to students, is probably the most exciting part about this job. 

Q: Historically marginalized

[00:14:49] Jane Tunks Demel: In terms of reaching historically marginalized communities, the applicants were nearly all enthusiastic about the board's tentative plan to hold some of their meetings in different parts of the community, such as neighborhood schools. Here are some other notable quotes from their answers to this question. Joe Mizrahi.

[00:15:08] Joe Mizrahi: when I walk into a workplace, I talk to people who are active stewards in their union, and they've been involved for 10 years, and they come to every meeting that we have. And I talk to people who are like, wait, what's a union? I'm in a union? Who the heck are you? 

And you have to have those conversations. And you have to meet people at all levels. And I think it's the same in the school board role. You have to be out in the community, talking to folks where they are. You have to be asking, not just what they want, but also “Where should I meet you? What time should I be here? What's the best community event for me to come to?” And then you have to be incorporating that in the work that you do.

[00:15:38] Jane Tunks Demel: Rachelle Olden. 

[00:15:40] Rachelle Olden: The key word in this question is “historically marginalized communities”. What that means is the most vulnerable, and the people who identify as black, or identify as Hispanic plus. And the major sentiment that they're feeling is, 1) they don't feel heard. They don't feel heard. They don't feel that their voices are valued, and they're asking themselves “why?”. And so I do think that as a board, we can think about how do we incentivize them bringing their voices, right. Them actually taking up the mic. How can we make it accessible for them? 

[00:16:16] Jane Tunks Demel: Carol Thompson.

[00:16:19] Carol Thompson: But we need to consider, there are newly marginalized communities that are occurring, whether because of faith, or race, or current events. And a community that we need to look at is the people who are leaving Seattle Public Schools. I looked at the stats. I think Asians are a growing demographic in the city, and they are the largest population to leave. 25% of them have left over the last couple of years. That's the biggest group leaving, and we need to understand why they are leaving and why they don't feel supported as well.

Lightning Round

[00:16:49] Christie Robertson: Next, the students did a lightning round, and I thought this was pretty fun, so we're just gonna play through the handful of lightning round questions that they asked. 


Here's Ayush Muthuswamy, and Semai Hagos asking lightning round questions.

[00:17:05] Aayush Muthuswamy: The board is a team, and this question is about your role in the team. “You and your fellow school board directors are stranded on a deserted island. What role do you see yourself playing?” One word answers. We'll start with Director... Oh, sorry. Um, Candidate Gahl. 

[00:17:20] Danielle Gahl: The Professor.

[00:17:21] Shawn Sullivan: The Solver. 

[00:17:23] Carol Thompson: A workhorse. 

[00:17:25] Sarah Clark: A comic. 

[00:17:26] Gabriela Gonzalez: Solutionizer. 

[00:17:29] Laura Marie Rivera: “Working hard and getting things done” because director Rankin said it could be a short sentence. 

I heard “short sentence”!

[00:17:36] Rachelle Olden: Entertainment. 

[00:17:38] Joe Mizrahi: The Negotiator. 

[00:17:40] Semai Hagos: Okay. Question seven. “Describe your unexperience as a K-12 student.”

Candidate Rivera, please go first. 

[00:17:49] Laura Marie Rivera: One word??

[00:17:51] Semai Hagos: Yes, one word. 

[00:17:53] Laura Marie Rivera: It was a long time ago. 

[00:17:55] Gabriela Gonzalez: Optimism. 

[00:17:57] Joe Mizrahi: Inequitable. 

[00:17:58] Rachelle Olden: Serendipitous. 

[00:18:00] Shawn Sullivan: Formative. 

[00:18:02] Danielle Gahl: Experimental. 

[00:18:04] Sarah Clark: Segregated. 

[00:18:06] Carol Thompson: Supported. 

[00:18:09] Aayush Muthuswamy: In one word, what is your superpower? And we'll start with Candidate Thompson. 

[00:18:15] Carol Thompson: Prioritization. 

[00:18:17] Sarah Clark: Creative Thinking 

[00:18:19] Danielle Gahl: Cheerleading. 

[00:18:21] Shawn Sullivan: I'm going to cheat and have two answers. Because I do have a real superpower, which is parking. I always get good parking. Um, determination. 

[00:18:28] Rachelle Olden: Empathy. 

[00:18:30] Joe Mizrahi: Listening. 

[00:18:31] Gabriela Gonzalez: Curiosity. 

[00:18:33] Laura Marie Rivera: Uplifting. 

[00:18:36] Semai Hagos: . “And beside budget, what do you see as the most pressing challenge facing the Seattle school district?” We will start with Candidate Mizrahi. 

[00:18:46] Joe Mizrahi: The opportunity gap. 

[00:18:48] Gabriela Gonzalez: Engagement 

[00:18:50] Laura Marie Rivera: Options and quality. 

[00:18:53] Rachelle Olden: Iteration <unclear>. 

[00:18:55] Shawn Sullivan: Equity. 

[00:18:57] Danielle Gahl: Communication. 

[00:18:59] Sarah Clark: Competition. 

[00:19:01] Carol Thompson: Satisfaction. 

[00:19:03] Aayush Muthuswamy: “What will be better at SPS after your time on the board?” And we'll start with Candidate Gahl. 

[00:19:10] Danielle Gahl: Collaboration. 

[00:19:12] Shawn Sullivan: Outcomes. 

[00:19:14] Carol Thompson: Sustainability. 

[00:19:16] Sarah Clark: Cross-sector collaboration. 

[00:19:20] Rachelle Olden: Inclusion. 

[00:19:21] Joe Mizrahi: I'm gonna help the opportunity gap. 

[00:19:25] Gabriela Gonzalez: Reputation. 

[00:19:26] Laura Marie Rivera: Inclusivity. 

Other Themes

[00:19:28] Christie Robertson: And there were a few other themes that we wanted to talk about, right Jane?

[00:19:33] Jane Tunks Demel: We noticed that a few topics came up again and again, and one of them was enrollment. Of course, as we all know, Seattle Public Schools has had declining enrollment in the last five years or so. They've lost about 10% of their students. 

And Gabby Gonzalez had a really interesting perspective as a kindergarten parent. 

[00:19:52] Gabriela Gonzalez: In terms of specific improvements, what I really hope that we can improve on is the image of Seattle Schools. When I started my process of enrolling my daughter, some of my colleagues were very heavily influencing me to either move out of the district or enroll her in private school. And that was not an option for me, because if all students who have the supports move out, then it makes it more difficult.

[00:20:14] Christie Robertson: Sarah Clark shared her perspective as well.

[00:20:17] Sarah Clark:  I think starting with really grounding ourselves in the reality that this is a regional problem and actually a nationwide problem. Enrollment rates have dropped. post-pandemic in some ways, We are in uncharted territory, and in some ways we are not. And I think that the benefit of that is that there are a lot of people that are actively looking for solutions and thinking of ideas. 

[00:20:42] Jane Tunks Demel: The thing about enrollment is that the higher enrollment the more money from the state. Much of the talk has been about budget cuts, and so it was nice to hear these candidates talking about how we can grow revenue.

[00:20:56] Christie Robertson: Another theme of the night was acknowledging the oppressive systems that exist in our public schools. Several candidates talked about how they might want to try to dismantle those. Here are some clips from Joe Mizrahi about this.

[00:21:12] Joe Mizrahi: I talk to workers every single day. I know how important it is for them to have a school system that works for them. At its best, a school system that is a tool - the best tool we have to dismantle systems of oppression. But at its worst, it can often reinforce those same systems of oppression. 

[00:21:26] Christie Robertson: And here is Rachelle Olden, speaking about a middle-school-aged boy she met.

[00:21:31] Rachelle Olden: ...whose eyes were filled with wonder and possibility. We talked of his dreams, of learning and exploring. But we also talked about his reality and his fears. And he said something that shook me to my core. He said, adults say that I'm the future, but most times I don't feel like I have a future ahead of me.

Our students only get one shot at a K-12 education, and it's on us, the adults, to make sure that we get it right. Because that boy could be any one of the countless students in our city, students who deserve nothing less than the very best education and future we have to offer to them. I'm Rachelle Olden, a candidate for your District 4 director seat. I'm here tonight because I believe in the power that education has to change lives, break barriers, and to build brighter futures.

[00:22:22] Jane Tunks Demel: Another topic that was brought up was mental health supports. Sarah Clark shared some of her thoughts.

[00:22:28] Sarah Clark: I've heard a lot about students' desire for more mental health support in schools. So much so, in fact, that the Seattle city council appropriated an additional $20 million in support. Which is another thing I'd like to work on - planning for that money. But I think you can't go wrong when you seek diverse input and put students' needs first. 

[00:22:55] Jane Tunks Demel: So, this was really interesting to hear Sarah Clark talk about. Because she works for the Seattle chamber of commerce and the Seattle chamber of commerce has made it very clear that they do not support the jumpstart tax. The jumpstart tax is this city's payroll tax on big business. And last November, the Seattle city council passed an additional one 20th of 1% tax that would generate an additional $20 million to pay for mental health counselors in Seattle Public Schools. 

[00:23:26] Christie Robertson: Last up for this episode, we want to play some comments from our listeners. We put a call out with a question: “What did you hear last night that you're still thinking about today?” And here are some of the answers that we received. What had stuck with people seemed to be some of the themes that they heard among all the speakers, as well as specific qualities that they hope to find in whoever is finally appointed.

[00:23:48] Dawn Dailey: Hi, my name is Dawn Daily. Thank you for giving everyone the opportunity to speak our mind on the School Board Forum. I live in the D4 area and I am an educator with over 17 years of experience in traditional K-12 and informal educational experiences with STEM and art education and special needs education. I just think it's so important that somebody is on the school board that has the same, if not more, experience in educational development, curriculum development, informal and formal, school curriculum development. And understands the needs as parents, as a former educator or current educator, and represents the parents, the students and the schools in the school board. Thank you so much for listening to my response and I hope everyone listening has a good day. 

[00:24:45] Jane Tunks Demel: We also heard from a listener named Marjan.

[00:24:49] Marjan: It was wonderful to hear and see very passionate folks wanting to take that to the next step and support the policies that's shaping the future of our students, As someone who values education so much, as an immigrant living in this area, I would say it has changed my life. One of the things that I also value a lot is how are we making education accessible, not only in terms of financial, but also accessible to those who may have visible or invisible disabilities. 

[00:25:27] Jane Tunks Demel: Next here's what we heard from Alex Estevez . 

[00:25:31] Alex Estevez: Hey there, Hall Pass. One thing I'm still thinking about regarding Wednesday's forum is, given the status of the school board's budget, I think it's important to have someone in this seat who has experience working with the legislature to obtain more funding for our schools.

[00:25:46] Jane Tunks Demel: And Robert Cruickshank, president of Washington's Paramount Duty, made this observation.

[00:25:52] Robert Cruickshank: I'm still thinking about how pretty much every applicant on that stage pointed out that the state legislature is not amply funding our schools as the state constitution requires. A few of them noted that the proportion of the state's budget that goes to public schools has dropped by nearly 10 percent since 2019. I got the strong sense that all eight of the applicants recognize how unsustainable that is, how damaging the lack of money is for our kids, and how we need to pressure the legislature to fix this in 2025.


[00:26:18] Christie Robertson: Hopefully some of what you heard on this episode has helped you to get to know these eight finalists a bit better. I imagine that even the six who are not appointed to school board seats will be folks that we will see around and active so that it will have been worth our while to get to know them. The choice of which two will serve on the board starting next week, as we said before, will be made by the five current board directors next Wednesday, April 3rd. And next Thursday, we will have to sworn-in, brand-new school board directors. 

[00:26:52] Jane Tunks Demel: And to be appointed, the candidate needs to get votes from four out of five school board directors. So it will be really interesting to see how that shakes out.

[00:27:02] Christie Robertson: Yeah. I feel like I don't have any sure prediction about who they're going to pick.

[00:27:06] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, and because they need to get four votes, it's near unanimity, which might be difficult.

[00:27:12] Christie Robertson: That's true. They might go around a few times. 


[00:27:15] Jane Tunks Demel: And that concludes this episode. 

[00:27:18] Christie Robertson: Do you have a comment or a correction for us? 

[00:27:21] Jane Tunks Demel: Or do you have a wondering about something related to Seattle Schools?

[00:27:25] Christie Robertson: Now you can leave us a voice message at We may play your message on the air.

We'll be back after the vote to let you know who the two new school board directors are. Until then, remember to look at our show notes at, where you can subscribe, or donate to support our costs. We also welcome your emails at I'm Christie Robertson.

[00:27:49] Jane Tunks Demel: And I'm Jane Tunks Demel. Thanks for listening to Seattle Hall Pass. 

Q: Why Are You Running?
Q: Governance
Q: Reaching Students & Historically Marginalized Groups
Lightning Round
Other Themes
Listener Comments