Seattle School District Spends $18,000+ to Cut Budget

From the Unclear On The Concept Files:

The Seattle School District is losing state funding as part of next year's budget, so to help cut costs, the Seattle School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson struck upon an idea: ask members of the teachers union to lose one day of work to help make up for the lost funds. Otherwise, they just wouldn't have a job next year.

Pop quiz:

You're Maria Goodloe-Johnson, and you need to communicate this news to 3,300 members of the teachers union. Do you:

a) Send an email to every teacher fully explaining the situation.
b) Send a letter to the teachers union and ask them to relay the information to all of the members.
c) Send a note to every teacher through the school district's mail system.
d) Send a certified letter to each teacher for $5.63 each, and bypass the teachers union completely.

Regular Laughing Stalk readers always know to pick the stupidest possible answer — it's always D — in these quizzes. 'Cause that's what Maria Goodloe-Johnson did (she must have peeked at the answers).

According to a column by Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur, Goodloe-Johnson spent $18,579 to communicate what I could have done for free with a computer and a Gmail account.

"(T)o spend thousands to cry poor is like driving to your kid's school to tell him to take the bus," Brodeur said in her column. "Do that, and you squander faith and respect from not just your charges, but the people who supply the cash. Taxpayers. Surely the district can find a way to not look like a bunch of hypocrites."

You would think so. But then you would think they would have come up with a different way to make up the losses than actually penalizing the teachers. They could have cut adminstrators' salaries, asked them to take a furlough, or you know, cut the postage budget by about $18,579.

It's like a large car company or bank cutting the salaries of its main workers so they could keep their executive bonuses. No company is actually dumb enough to — uh, never mind.

Brodeur said many of the teachers were so pissed, they protested in front of the district offices with well-written, grammatically correct protest signs. So she went down for a visit and to see if her math was right.

It was. Seattle teachers don't raise up no dummies.

"It's a waste of money," said David Fisher, a teacher at Cleveland High School. (Seattle teachers ain't no dummies either.)

As a further protest, Fisher is leaving his certified letter at the post office. That's $5.63 down the drain right there, so suck on that Seattle School District.

But district spokesman David Tucker defended the boneheaded move letter campaign.

"We have to make sure that the affected employees have the information at hand as soon as possible," Tucker said, adding that the only way to ensure that is by certified mail.

Hmm, now I don't know much about technology — oh wait, I totally do. That's why I know they could have sent the letters out by email, put a delivery and read receipt on them, and sent them all for free.

Or since this all happened in May, they could have sent copies to each school and asked the school secretaries to photocopy them and put them in each teacher's mailbox.

Or ask the dues-collecting teacher's union to send them out.

Or if you want to get really creative, put up a website with a sign-in page. Send an email asking teachers to visit the page, get them to sign in so you know who read it, and then do it all electronically.

"We need to confirm receipt and ensure that the information gets to them," Tucker said.

I'm telling you, David, Microsoft Outlook, which I'm sure you're using, lets you set delivery and read receipts on every email. You'll get notified about people who read the email. Then you can send letters to those who never did.

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