Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One of these things is not like the others....

Remember this Sesame Street Game?

Well, we're going to play it on this blog today.  Afterall, it IS educational. Look carefully at the top photo and tell me which one of those things are NOT like the others.  I'll wait

Okay, ready?  If you guessed that ALL THE OTHER SCHOOL BOARD SEATS are for a 4 year term and EVERETT School Board seats are for a SIX year term, then YOU WIN!

The question is, "Why?"   We are one of just THREE districts in the whole state who operate on 6 year terms.  I believe Spokane and Tacoma are the other two.  When Director Jessica Olson proposed a discussion regarding it (because the school board may change it with a vote, from what I understand), she was shot down and told that they NEEDED the term so they could really get up and going and have continuity.  Really?  Why do WE need six?  Are we not as bright?  Are we special?  Are we afraid of giving up our power and having to answer to the voters more often?  

Picture this - if you were elected to the school board the same Fall your child started Kindergarten, you wouldn't have to be accountable to the voters until they were in 5th grade.  If you were re-elected, you wouldn't have to face the voters again until they were Juniors in High School.  So, two terms on the Everett School Board spans nearly the entire school life of a child.  If you were elected the year your child was born and served just THREE terms, you would be on the board from birth to adulthood.  That. Is. Nuts.  

Conversely, under a 4 year plan, you would have to face the voters and be accountable THREE times in that same "school lifetime" time period and FOUR times in the "Birth to Adulthood" scenario.  That would give more people a chance to serve and more people the chance to change the face of the board and make more board members accountable for their actions.  

What does state law say about this?  School board elections must be held in odd-numbered (off) years and elections must be staggered, meaning you can only have a few up for re-election at a time.  That's it.  That's all it says about the issue of "how long".  

So, this Fall, Everett will have the opportunity to elect two new members of the school board.  According to the current schedule, in 2015, two more seats will be up for re-election and then in 2017, the member we elected in 2011 would be up.  But, you could simply add the 2011 member to the 2015 ballot and have THREE up for re-election.  It's really very simple.  She would have served 4 years at that point and the other two would have served 6 but will then start the 4 year cycle.  Then, the two elected this Fall would be up for re-election in 2017. It's really not that complicated, nor is it that disruptive to do.  

But, alas, what practically every other school board in the state manages to do in FOUR years, we need SIX to do.  Gotta keep hold of those seats as long as possible....  Facing the voters and being accountable is messy and unpleasant stuff (and makes the Superintendent NERVOUS).