On The Issues

Top Priorities

  • Excellence for All - Promote, evaluate and oversee the implementation of our Strategic Plan, Excellence for All.
  • Fiscal Responsibility & Quality Education - Continue to balance our budget while directing all possible resources to improving the quality of classroom instruction.
  • Clearly Articulated Policies & Goals - Develop and maintain a compact and understandable body of policies that incorporate a vision and concrete goals for excellence and guide the actions of staff to be fair, accountable, transparent and equitable.
  • Higher Academic Standards - Move the District toward increasing our academic and graduation standards so that a diploma from Seattle Public Schools is an entry ticket to our fine colleges and universities.
  • Strong Partnerships - Work closely with the Superintendent to build strong partnerships with our city government, local business, foundation and community organizations, the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the state legislature and the Office of the Governor.
  • Well Supported Alternative Schools & Advanced Learning Opportunities - Insure that Alternative Educational models continue to flourish in Seattle and that Advanced Learning Opportunities are widely available.

Record on the Issues

  • Closing the Achievement Gap - The achievement gap between different races and poor and middle class students is the greatest social justice challenge for K-12 public education, locally as well as nationally. I support the weighting of our discretionary levy dollars for greater spending on children who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. I support the many strands in our Strategic Plan designed to improve instructional quality especially at high poverty schools. I believe that cultural and racial sensitivity should inform our work but is secondary to academic achievement toward measurable standards for all our students.
  • Instituting Job Performance Measures - I believe the District and State should move toward a compensation and retention system that incorporates job performance measures. The School Board is modelling this change. Future increases in the Superintendent's salary will be based on measurable progress in the Strategic Plan. Young, highly motivated teachers should have opportunities for recognition of high performance that motivate them and improve retention, especially in math and science. Outstanding principals should be paid well and weak performers should have monetary incentives to improve or leave the profession.
  • Highlighting Inadequate Funding - The present economic contraction in our state has highlighted the inadequate funding of public education. I am a fiscally conservative business owner, generally willing to cut spending that is inefficient or ineffective. The tens of millions of dollars being cut from next year's budget exhausts all obvious opportunities for efficiency and will raise class sizes and reduce course offerings in some cases. This is tragically short sighted. Well educated citizens are our most valuable resource in global economic competition and the foundation of a healthy democracy and vibrant culture.
  • Reallocating Utility Cost Savings - I championed a Resource Conservation Policy that reduced our utility costs by $900,000 in the first year. Part of the savings is returned to schools that conserved the most. This fosters innovation and classroom education and projects around decreasing energy use and solid waste and increasing recycling and walking. Though I get blamed anytime a building feels too cold, it's worth it.
  • Reducing Transportation Costs - I proposed and advocated for the placement of all our high school students on metro buses. Metro passes are less expensive than yellow school buses and give students public transit access seven days a week, ten month per year. It allows high schools to start an hour later, improving learning in the morning. It also reduces congestion and pollution by reducing our bus fleet.
  • Improving Capacity Management - Closing schools has been the most difficult issue of the last three years. Arguably it should have occurred regularly in small doses. Instead, two rounds of closures and program moves shuttered ten schools and finally right sized the district. I supported both rounds for the obvious savings of tax dollars but also for the higher quality of education possible in a full building and the progress toward consistently high quality schools derived from closing weaker programs unable to attract sustainable enrollment.
  • Assuring Seats in Neighborhood Schools - Enrollment is growing in some parts of our city. Overcrowding is just as unacceptable as half-filled buildings. Our capital and building program needs to prioritize the assurance of seats in a nearby school for all children who enroll.
  • Meeting Unique Student Needs - Seattle Schools must educate the whole child and different types of learners. We must continue to offer robust music, arts, physical education and career and technical education. Our Special Education, Alternative Education, Advanced Learning and English Language Learners Programs all serve students with unique needs and each must reflect educational best practice. Our policies and budgeting around these activities deserve the same attention as our general education program.
  • Implementing "Peer Review" Audits - I applaud the audits of nearly every aspect of School District work undertaken by our Superintendent. I study these "peer reviews" to inform my decision making, though I recognize Seattle's uniqueness in many cases. The Executive Committee has similarly embarked on a complete audit of all School Board policies. We are studying exemplary policy books by peer districts that are much shorter and more accessible than our mosaic of policies and procedures that runs to more than seven hundred pages.
  • Improving our School Assignment Plan - Our new Assignment Plan is being developed with changes happening every week. I look forward to a simpler, more equitable and more predictable opportunity for enrollment at both neighborhood and alternative schools.

 

Thank you,
Michael