The status quo isn't working.
I am running to ensure there is more transparency, accountability and deeper levels of community engagement when crucial decisions are made. I believe representation matters and I want to be a strong LGBTQ+ voice and ensure protection for trans kids and youth.
Our school district is facing a major budget deficit, possible neighborhood school closures, continual declining enrollment, poor labor relations, and a failure in addressing student’s pandemic learning loss. At the beginning of the pandemic, the school board voted in a new governance model, with little community engagement, that has lessened the board’s ability for oversight and accountability.
With the threat of eliminating neighborhood schools and corralling students into large or mega schools, eradicating more option schools and with no plan in place to create smaller class sizes, families are leaving the district.
Voters have the opportunity to make a pragmatic, positive difference by not supporting the status quo.
Below are issues also important to me and that I will address as a School Board member:
Public schools must be fully funded. The Board needs to fully understand the district’s budget and how it reflects the values of the district. The board should be able to explain the budget in a digestible way to the public, SPS families, and state legislators. To ensure our schools are fully funded, the board needs an independent party to examine the district’s spending, so we can show our state legislators that the state is not fulfilling its paramount duty of fully funding K-12 education. Because the district is not transparent with how it spends its dollars, many state legislators, even among the Seattle delegation, do not believe SPS is spending its money wisely. To help daylight the district’s spending, I support a biennial independent financial audit of the budget that will be reported directly to the board. This independent budget audit would happen in a timely manner to provide the space for the board to analyze, ask questions, and provide feedback to the district.
Access to culturally appropriate mental health care for students, especially for students of color and LGBTQ+ students, is imperative. Mental health stakeholder partnerships are key to providing affordable and culturally appropriate mental health for all students. Access to funding for these programs are key to increasing access to mental health in elementary school to high school. I will help to increase stronger partnerships connecting the district, city, county, state and federal governmental entities for mental health funding sources.
Based on what happened during the last school closures and the negative impact it had on families and the district; school closures should be the last option. Fifteen years ago SPS closed 10 schools and because of poor enrollment predictions had to re-open 5 of those schools a few years laters, costing the district almost $50 million. This mistake cost the district more money than SPS saved in originally closing schools.
This October the district miscalucated enrollment of 53 schools which resulted in a teacher reshuffle. This reshuffle resulted in larger class sizes, more split classes and some school losing teachers. (A few schools gained a teacher) This miscalulation of enrollment predictions has left families and educators unconfident in the district's ability to accurately predict enrollment, which is key to accurately predicting school closures.
If the district and board decide to close schools, based on a state law, charter schools have the first right to rent or buy the buildings. or property. Closing schools could increase charter schools in Seattle resulting in more falling enrollment and funding loss.
Lastly, the district hasn’t proven to the public how closing schools will save SPS $20 million in the next 2 to 5 years. The district and board should take a more proactive response to increasing enrollment.
The district acknowledges that the growing displacement of Seattle Public Schools families is one reason for the declining enrollment rates. As the sole endorsed candidate from the Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund, I will bring my years of experience as a housing advocate.
Housing advocacy for mulit-family housing is imperative to increasing enrollment in our public schools. Thoughout Seattle there are multiple low-income housing developments, a possible new housing levy and HB 1110 Middle Housing legislation, which is building more multi-familiy units in Seattle. The district and board should be active advocates for increasing affordable housing and actively address declining enrollment rates because of displacement.
As a school board director, I will fight and advocate for housing and tenant protection policies that will eradicate displacement. I will also advocate for funding that will support the development of affordable housing. I will bring my analysis around housing justice to the school board to help mitigate the declining enrollment rates partially because of displacement of SPS families.
Last year when Ingraham High School experienced a student shooting with one student being killed the school community was devastated. The board and district was slow to respond with information and support. My opponent did not show leadershp by facilitating the Ingraham community with the information and action they were seeking.
This cannot happen again. We need leadership who will respond to family, educator and student needs when tragedy happens. We need board leadership that leads with a sense of ambassadorship of an elected official.
Safety in schools is supporting mental health services, social emotional skills taught at every grade level and strong restorative justice practices in schools.