The Seattle School Board on Wednesday will consider proposed changes to the district's transportation plan, weigh a proposal to allow commercial advertising on school athletic fields and take a final vote on incoming Superintendent José Banda's contract.
Seattle school officials, having backed away from a cost-cutting bus plan that inflamed families across the city, will still face a horde of parents at a School Board meeting Wednesday night.
And they’ll likely anger another set of activists when they take up a proposal to allow commercial advertising on school athletic fields.
The drama will all play out in front of incoming Superintendent José Banda, who is planning to fly in for the board’s formal vote on his contract — a three-year pact that would grant him an annual base salary of $270,000, which would make him the highest-paid superintendent in the state.
It should make for an interesting evening at Seattle Public Schools headquarters, 2445 Third Ave. S. The meeting will start at 6 p.m.
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The highest-profile item, a revised version of the transportation plan, would double the standard bus-ride time and shift start times half an hour later at a handful of elementary schools.
But it would not move bell times an hour earlier at any high, middle and K-8 schools, as recommended in the earlier proposal that outraged parents when it was released earlier this month.
The board is expected to approve the scaled-back bus proposal and look for other ways to cut costs.
The end of that debate will coincide with the beginning of another one about commercial advertising.
While the proposal the board will consider would only allow advertising on athletic fields, stadiums, scoreboards and calendars, some activists say that is a slippery slope in a world where children already are too affected by commercialism.
More than 30 community members have already signed up to speak at the meeting; only 20 will get to do so.
School Board President Michael DeBell, who was out of the country last week, jokingly estimated that he returned to “about 500 or 600 emails” from parents about the transportation proposal.
The proposal, which would have shifted start times at dozens of schools in an attempt to save $1 million, prompted more than 2,500 parents to sign a petition in opposition. It was quickly canned in favor of the less extensive proposal, which school district officials said in a Friday news release would only minimally affect families.
But some parents said they’re still concerned and confused.
“What is the definition of minimal?” asked Robin Forman, the mother of a student at Hamilton International Middle School, adding, “It’s as clear as mud at this point.”
Meanwhile, officials will have to identify more savings as part of a package of $20 million overall cuts expected in the fall. A likely victim is the discretionary budgets of individual schools, district financial officer Duggan Harman said.
The board will discuss several options during a work session before the meeting.
Financial considerations also have led the board to consider allowing advertising on some school property, a practice that was banned in 2004.
Exactly how much money would be gained is not yet known, said Holly Ferguson, who oversees strategic communications for the district. But putting ads on a new Memorial Stadium scoreboard alone could bring in $20,000 a year, she said.
Nike, KOMO-TV and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have already expressed interest, she said.
School Board members intend the money eventually to go to high-school student governments, which were hit hard by the elimination of advertising and junk food in vending machines.
Board members said they’re inclined to support the proposal because the advertising is limited in scope.
“It’s not in our schools,” board member Harium Martin-Morris said.
It will be the first meeting for Banda, who will start in July.
His contract, which also includes a $22,000 annual annuity and a $700 monthly allowance for vehicle expenses, is likely to be scrutinized for its high base salary, although it is only $6,000 more than what former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson made. It’s higher, but not significantly so, than superintendent salaries in the other largest Washington state school districts.
It’s about $40,000 higher than Banda is now making as the leader of the Anaheim City School District.
And it’s higher than the salaries of other government officials. Gov. Chris Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn each make about $150,000, while Seattle Police Chief John Diaz makes about $185,000.
Some Seattle School Board members initially said they were hoping the salary would be about $225,000, the amount that Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield is making.
Enfield will leave next month to lead the Highline School District.
Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or email@example.com. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal.