The Costly Seattle Schools Shuffle

A thoughtful, well-crafted new schools blog, Seattle Education 2010, raises questions about just what, exactly, city school leaders have in mind in the reassignment of students, schools and tax revenues. The strategy of "closing five school buildings, shuffling students to different schools and now proposing the re-opening of seven buildings within a year's time," write Sue Peters and Dora Taylor, "speaks volumes about the lack of competency of our superintendent and her chosen staff."

Supt. Maria Goodloe-Johnson's reputation for turning around failing schools and financial programs gets a close-up look as she tries to cover a mostly inherited $34 million shortfall. Clearly, the school board thinks Goodloe-Johnson (above) is dynamite, awarding her a ten percent raise even before her first anniversary last year and extending her contract to at least 2011. She now makes $264,000, plus $20,000 going to a retirement fund and $700-per-month in car allowances.

But her tactics include a graveyard of shuttered buildings such as those housing Nova and SBOC: They were moved to another building that, according to the district's own figures, needs $6 million more in repairs and upgrades than the two closed buildings combined. (Additionally, under Goodloe-Johnson's watch, the district could not account for more than half a million dollars in equipment, electronics and other property that are missing or were stolen from area schools, the State Auditor' reported. The district still doesn't know how much it has lost, what the value of the loss is, and appears to have not even made an insurance claim on some of it.)

In Seattle Ed's view, by closing five schools and moving students, equipment and materials around only to re-open seven schools, the district has "wasted" even more public funds.

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