Telling it how it is.

Our back-to-back forums this week have been exciting, exhausting, entertaining, and, I hope, informative. I hope everyone feels informed enough to accurately vote their values on November 6th.

 

Today, I wanted to share my single biggest surprise while fresh on my mind: I couldn’t believe that Josh Barrow, our current board president, opened his first answer last night with an openly negative attack on his fellow board member Debra Turner.

 

I turned to my right and whispered to Kurt in disbelief, “Wow, question 1, attacking Debra!” To which Kurt leaned slightly away, tilted his head toward me and muttered back, “Just telling it how it is.”

 

So now, here I am, telling it how it is from my time on the stage with Josh and his team of candidates.

 

  • Josh wants to be in the majority, or off the board.
    • Repeated opening statement that he only considered running for re-election alongside Jen and Kurt as like-minded and ready to get things done
    • Followed later last night with mandate that you need to vote for all three so they can be effective and guarantee a majority vote from day one
    • So… the only way Josh seems to want your vote is if you vote for all three?
    • Which tells me, Josh only wants to serve if he is guaranteed to be in the majority position, which he enjoyed from 2012 to 2016

 

  • Josh, Jen, and Kurt pin the past two years of “deadlock” on a single member of the board.
    • Josh’s first answer last night was a negative attack on Debra Turner, a sitting board member for the past two years, after taking several shots at her the night before
    • During the evening last night, both Jen and Kurt chimed in with their own shots as well
    • It’s a five person board so a single person can never cause deadlock (by design)
    • Two of the five members recused themselves for all financial matters for the past two years
      • Which Ida Green, who served alongside them and Josh, addressed on Wednesday evening as due to the financial nature of their careers
      • The pending legal investigation by the AG may put their careers at risk if they continued to vote on financial matters while under active investigation
    • Those two members had a track record in line with Josh, and, without them, he was in the minority for the first time since being appointed 6 years ago
    • A dominant group being in the majority year in, year out for a decade can lead to lopsided decision making…  which might earn an investigation by the Attorney General
    • Being in the minority now and again means the system is working and a diversity of opinions are being represented
    • Being in the minority is not being deadlocked

 

  • Josh proved he is not a team player, unless his team is winning.
    • Rather than be a team player, or disclosing his aligned board members’ recusals as a pain point, he pins all failure on a single member of the board
    • Teammates, especially the team captain, shouldn’t blame other teammates if the outcome isn’t as expected
    • Josh is not acting very presidential when he is pinning the failure of a 5 person board that he leads on a single board member
    • Debra was voted in two years ago on a platform of revitalizing Bayside MLK and her voting record reflects exactly that, so her actions are not unexpected
    • An investigation leading to two recusals is unexpected (but not undeserved)
    • Yes, Debra does have a different opinion than most. That’s ok. In fact, that’s the point of a 5 person board.
    • Her opinion is not wrong – her opinion is her opinion and her vote is her vote

 

  • Josh, Jen, and Kurt all pointed to massive board failures in the past two years. What failures?
    • Programs have been restored to Bayside MLK that had been removed between 2009 and 2016
    • No programs were removed from Willow Creek to my knowledge (I am sure we would have heard about it in the forums if so)
    • Average overall scores at both Bayside MLK and Willow Creek have risen in the past two years
    • A potential financial windfall from the state that would have benefitted Willow Creek was passed up in light of the AG investigation and legal counsel
    • Does that financial missed opportunity outweigh the educational gains by so much that it makes the last two years an overall failure?
    • How can anyone, especially the board president, consider gains at Bayside MLK after a long period of declines a failure?

 

  • Josh, Jen, and Kurt all say the Attorney General investigation is a mystery, but definitely not about the money.
    • It’s about the money
    • It is always about the money
    • Josh, Jen, and Kurt say it’s about how we educate our lower income students… which is to say… how we spend our money
    • Bonnie, the only lawyer in the mix, pointed out that the Attorney General specifically called for the Willow Creek MOU – the agreement that governs discretionary budget allocated to Willow Creek – to be pulled out of closed session, it had to be in public, so everyone could hear about the money
    • As mentioned above, the investigation led to two board members recusing themselves from all votes related to the money.
    • The focus of the investigation seems to be the pattern of how our district has allocated the money for perhaps the last decade, flowing from board approvals to each school and what those schools were able to do as a result… which is to say… how we’ve been spending our money
    • It’s always about the money
    • It’s about the money

 

  • Speaking of money, Josh, Jen, and Kurt all point to our “debt service” as a terrible waste of it.
    • That debt service is tied to the portable buildings, state of the art or not, that were required to displace the Bayside students to the MLK campus, forming Bayside MLK five years ago
    • Josh, appointed six years ago, was on the board led by Bill Zeigler, a Willow Creek founder, that voted for that change and the purchase of those state of the art modular portable buildings
    • Kurt, as a Willow Creek board member for a decade, was definitely involved in that decision as well
    • The short sighted nature of that financial, cultural, and emotional decision saddled the district with debt that we are still paying off 5 years later
    • Now, Josh and Kurt point to the decision they made five years ago as a flaw in the system… that they created… while asking for your vote to fix it

 

I will still write new posts each Friday. Happy to share thoughts on them with anyone via email. Maybe school structure, maybe pros/cons list of all candidates (yes, all candidates have amazing pros), maybe digging into more data, maybe how we can better listen to and reflect our communities. I dunno. Lots to talk about.

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