The Seattle School District could split into two separate entities if a few Washington lawmakers get their way.
KIRO 7's Essex Porter is learning about why Democratic state reps Santos and Pettigrew introduced the bill to break up the district. His full report on KIRO 7 at 6 p.m.
The following is a response from Seattle Public Schools regarding Bills 1497 and 1860:
Bill 1497 – Mayoral Appointment of Two School Board Members
- Citizens have a right to elect their representatives to a governing body, regardless of what body it is - School Board, City Council, and State Senate to the federal level. A citizen’s right to vote should never be diminished, which is exactly what this bill does. Voter participation is the cornerstone of our democracy and we fully support Seattle voters selecting their school board members. Elected school board directors are accountable directly to the parents and other voters who elect them. That is how it should be.
- Research supports continuing an elected board structure. The number of appointed and mayoral controlled boards in urban cities has declined steadily over the past 15 years – and for good reason: they didn’t serve students and families well. In 2000, there were approximately 40 cities with mayoral controlled school districts, this year there are currently 12.
- There is no guarantee a political appointment will be based on a particular expertise in education or commitment to public schools. Appointees may come to the board with a political agenda which drives them to function in an elite or trustee orientation. School Board members should have an altruistic motivation for service, not position focused, and be concerned with the general welfare of students.
- Appointed boards, particularly in the Northeast, have a poor track record when it comes to reducing conflict and increasing board stability. The research indicates that partnerships between cities and school districts work better than mayoral appoints to the board. (Research from Prof. Tom Alsbury, Seattle Pacific University)
- Seattle Public Schools appreciates the strong partnership we already have with Mayor Ed Murray and the City of Seattle. This is evident in our Families and Education Levy as well as the recent passage of the Preschool Education Levy. When city and school leaders work together in partnership, resources are leveraged to the benefit of the entire community. We believe this is how city and schools should be working together to make a difference in the lives of our students.
Bill 1860 – Splitting Seattle Public Schools into Two Separate Districts
- Dividing Seattle Public Schools into two distinct districts would increase fiscal costs to taxpayers and create operational inefficiencies. Separate governance boards would need to be created, leadership teams and central office support, and additional equipment, supplies and materials.
- Currently, the coordination of school schedules and operations is done across the city, in partnership with the city, to minimize to the greatest extent possible, the impact of traffic (bell times), safety and security (before and after school programs), facilities (parks and recreation and school use agreements). This coordination would be lost by creating two distinct school systems.
- The formation of two separate districts would further segregate the City of Seattle. The city is already challenged by the economic inequities between north and south Seattle, and this proposal would further polarize the city and increase the disparity between geographic regions across Seattle. For our city to be a vibrant, healthy, urban center, we need to continue to strive for equity and inclusion for all citizens, regardless of what area of the city they live in.
- The suggestion that Seattle Public Schools is failing is blatantly false. This is particularly disrespectful to our school communities in South Seattle. While we continue to focus on raising academic achievement across the system and particularly in southeast Seattle, we have several examples of success stories. Cleveland, Franklin, Mercer and Wing Luke were recently named Schools of Distinction. We have seen significant progress in closing the achievement gap, particularly in our South Seattle Schools. Students enrolled in Title 1 schools increased in mathematics by 17.4% between 2010 and 2013. The increase in Non-Title 1 Schools was 11.4%. During the same period, reading for Title 1 schools improved by 13.7% versus 7.7% in Non-Title 1 schools. In 2013, student achievement in Seattle Public Schools Title I schools was significantly above similar schools across the state in math and reading by 10.4 (math) and 7.3 (reading) percentage points. As a whole, SPS outperforms the state average regarding student assessments.