Friday, March 9, 2012

Kicking Off This Blog

I guess I should really get this blog going.  Honestly, although I set it up a few months ago, I kept hoping I wouldn't have to start blogging.  Not because I don't want to, but because I keep hoping something magic will happen that makes this blog and it's accompanying FACEBOOK GROUP irrelevant.  I kept hoping for the best - that the dysfunction within the Everett School District School Board would somehow magically solve itself and I could stop banging my very bruised head against the wall.  But, alas, it hasn't happened.  

Six months ago, I started paying a whole lot more attention to what was happening in the Everett Washington School District.  Strike that, my interest actually started to awaken a couple of years ago during some public budget cut meetings we attended.  It all seemed very "rigged" to me.  The community was invited to make recommendations on where to make some pretty big cuts in the district.  I thought the group made some very good recommendations that impacted students the least.  Recommendations included cutting the district office staff to the bone (I think I counted like 22 administrative assistant types there - seemed like they could do with a whole lot less) or reducing maintenance to buildings.  These were things that simply didn't do much to bother the students.  After several of these meetings all over the district, they decided the best thing was to cut bus service to elementary kids who lived within a mile of their school - thus impacting tons of students and families.

Now, normally, walking to school would not be a big deal.  I walked a mile in some districts I lived in.  However, it WAS a big deal because the elementary school my kids went to was on a 45 mph state highway.  Since my kids had started there in Kindergarten (and actually since the school had opened about 8 years before that), it was beaten into our heads that NO CHILD, no matter how close you lived to the school, was allowed to walk or ride their bikes because of safety concerns.  It was in the school parent/student handbook and we were constantly reminded in emails and meetings.  Yet, all of a sudden, due to "budget cuts" the safety issue magically went away....  There was no barrier between the sidewalk and the highway.  Kids trying to ride bikes were vying for sidewalk space with walkers.  Their best suggestion was to force all the kids to walk out of the neighborhood on ONE street that limited the distance they were walking down the highway.  That meant some kids were forced to take the REALLY LONG WAY to school.  And, the street became absolutely clogged in the morning with cars of moms and dads who chose to drive their children instead.  After an entire school year and part of another, suddenly steel railings were put up along that stretch of road to protect the kids, thus virtually guaranteeing that even when that money returns, that the kids at Penny Creek will STILL be walking because it's now "safe".

But, I digress.  That was just the start.  Fast forward to what seems to be an endless list of problems and attempts to keep information from the public as well as a continual fight over what is and isn't public information.  I won't talk about all of them here, but there have been many.  Some have been information suppression and some have been personal attacks (hello, fist, I'm not kidding) on one school board member.  They finally drove me to DO SOMETHING about it.  So, shortly before the election of a new school board member last Fall, I created a Facebook Group called The Everett School Board Project with the goal to bring the public together and to create a stream of information and commentary about the situation that no one else was.  Sure, there were lots of "complainers", but I believe most of them were dismissed by the board and superintendent as "singletons".  They didn't believe anyone else was upset, because in their world, they only hear positive comments about their actions.  We wanted to show that more than one or two were dismayed by the behavior of the School Board.  

I will cover some of the issues here in the future.  We'll take them one at a time and I'll try to provide links to news stories and comments from others about each situation.  I'll even have others contribute their own concerns abou the situation.  This isn't my blog - this is the community's blog - meant to distribute our side of the story.  Check out our Mission Statement on the right side of this page.  If you agree and want to join us, come to our Facebook page.  Stay Tuned....