We want better management of Bainbridge schools | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

Yes, “Our Schools… Our Future” — But, depending on your vote, which future?

If most people vote yes and we bet on the trend, that future is one of continuing tax increases, construction of some of the most expensive schools in state history, and a continuing fall in academic performance relative to peer districts like Mercer Island and Lake Washington.

If enough people vote no or simply abstain from voting, that future could be one of modest tax increases, of accountability and careful spending, and of renewed standing amongst Puget Sound’s better school districts.

There’s no question here that capital spending is on new buildings is out of control. Why? Because rather than focusing on the hard questions of management, the school district has instead spent its time planning glittery new buildings.

One reason for this is staff bias. Of the people working in the capital facilities office, 3.5 of the 4.5 FTE positions are paid out of bond proceeds. If we stop financing new construction, they lose their jobs.

The bigger issue here is in-bred management and lack of vision. The last three school superintendents have been promoted from within.

Second, there’s been a tolerance of bad managers and teachers, particularly at Sakai, where some of those pushed out of the elementary schools are parked before quitting.

Things have turned around now at the high school, but for about five years there was a new principal there almost every year.

The result is that, measured by state standards, academic performance on Bainbridge is now lower than in the Mercer Island, Lake Washington, Issaquah and Kenmore districts. By one standard put out by Stanford, BISD creates less “educational gain” than Seattle schools.

Unfortunately, with a weak school board that simply goes with almost anything district management wants to do, there’s little the public can do to get the district’s attention short of saying “no” at the ballot box. That “no” vote is a clear statement of accountability, that we want the focus on what goes on inside the schools, not what kind of stone goes onto their walls. With our wealth of talent here, Bainbridge should have some of the most interesting and innovative educational approaches in the country, but our district is instead becoming a regional also-ran.

If voting “no” goes too much against the social grain for you, then simply abstain from voting. Either one is a message to the board that we want better management.

ROD STEVENS

Bainbridge Island

More in Letters to the Editor

Enjoying the fresh airing of opinions | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Up in British Columbia for a wedding anniversary get-away… Continue reading

Let justice be done, starting in the House | Letter to the editor

To the editor: I am writing to publicly thank Representative Derek Kilmer… Continue reading

Many reasons for opposition to hotel | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Regarding the proposed land use for the 80-plus-room hotel… Continue reading

Medicare for All is politically popular | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Medicare for All is overdue. While the current political… Continue reading

Plea for H-E-L-P from the Tweeter-in-Chief | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Like many others, when I first heard the tweet… Continue reading

Thank you Bainbridge for your great support | Letter to the editor

To the editor: On behalf of Housing Resources Bainbridge, we would like… Continue reading

Squeaky Wheels had more to say in letter | Letter to the editor

To the editor: The Review article on “Bainbridge council votes to seek… Continue reading

Sending them out through the ‘in’ door | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Trump doesn’t see people of color as Americans. He… Continue reading

Elizabeth Warren has it right on health care | Letter to the editor

To the editor: I was surprised to see the a lengthy takedown… Continue reading

Court martial could end our nightmare | Letter to the editor

To the editor: We didn’t need Trump’s tweet telling congresswomen of color… Continue reading

WSF should do more to help senior riders | Letter to the editor

To the editor: I spend about one-third of the year on Bainbridge.… Continue reading

Pledge for no road signs | Letter to the editor

I’m currently serving as a Bainbridge Island city councilmember and mayor, having… Continue reading