This was my first time visiting a state legislature other than for a tour of the rotunda in my home state of Illinois, and the opportunity to rub Abe Lincolns statues nose. When I arrived in Olympia I was struck about hot causal entrance was into and around the building. After asking the front desk where representative Tomkio Santos Office was I was directed back outside, into an adjacent building, but not before finding the George Washington bust.
I had scheduled an appointment to talk about a bill that Representative Santos is co-sponsoring HB 1860, an education reform bill. The bill proposed a few changes that would dramatically change the public education provided in Seattle. Firstly it sets a limit on how many students may comprise a school district, 35,000. Secondly limits the number of board members from the seven today, down to five. Lastly it hands over the power to draw the dividing line over to the superintendent of the current Seattle Public School District.
While I am in favor of smaller districts that are easier to manage, I wonder how this bill impedes the cities desires to host a school downtown. By splitting the schools in half each district effectively has half the funding and bargaining chips to make large scale changes. If we were not able to fund the school last time, how would it happen with a smaller district?
I am in favor of smaller school districts, but not when the dividing line is drawn without community involvement. In high school, my school was used as an example to show the disparity in public education spending throughout Chicago. I am worried that separation of districts would increase the disparity between schools in North Seattle and those in South East Seattle. If there was a way to implement more control over the division of SPD then I would be supportive of a bill that can support local districts.
My meeting was set up with Rep. Tomiko Santos, but when I arrived I was told she was still in the chamber. I had a couple of minutes with her assistant Julia Kwon. We did not discuss many things in great detail; she was just concerned with my opinion on how to vote. I talked about a suggestion to change the bill language to include a board to divide the school districts rather than leave it up to the school district itself. I feel that in the future my input would be easier received, and make a stronger impact via email, but going down to the capitol building reminded me of the importance of participating in government, I plan to now speak up about future bills.