LETTER: Highline School Board President shares concerns about misinformation

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Waterland Blog nor its staff:]

January 14, 2015

Dear Highline Community:

As your elected school board, we are concerned about the recent repetition of misinformation and misstatements of fact regarding school district budgeting and operations. We want to give you the facts on two frequently repeated, but inaccurate statements.

Superintendent’s salary: The school board’s most important job is to hire an excellent superintendent, and we take this responsibility very seriously. In 2012, the school board launched a national search for a new superintendent and selected Susan Enfield as the best person to lead our schools. We chose a leader who is highly respected in her field and recognized as an outstanding education leader on regional, statewide, and national levels. We made the right choice for Highline, and we remain as supportive of Dr. Enfield today as when we hired her.

Superintendent Enfield was hired at a salary of $220,000 per year. Dr. Enfield did not receive a raise at the end of the first or second years of her contract. This year, when her contract was extended to 2017, she was paid $5,000 for extra days worked, and she received a $3,600 annual stipend due to her doctoral degree, a benefit afforded to all administrators with doctoral degrees. This salary is in line with other school districts in the Puget Sound region. I want to state for the record that the school board has never considered nor approved a $75,000 pay raise for Dr. Enfield.

Last year, a reporting error resulted in a much-inflated salary figure appearing on a document posted on a state website. This led to a news story naming Dr. Enfield as the top-paid superintendent in the state – a story that was inaccurate and has since been corrected by the news organization that reported it.

District communications: The school district’s communications budget, identified by state reporting codes as “Public Relations,” funds a comprehensive effort to engage and inform families and community members about our schools. This budget pays for the district’s website, community meetings, emergency notification system (Robocall, text, and email), informational materials for students and parents (and translation into the many languages spoken in our district), online tools for parents and students, and annual and quarterly reports mailed to all households in the district, an important tool for holding the district accountable to the public. In the 2014 budget year, this budget received a 13 percent increase to pay for new communication tools, including the mobile app, which helps parents access school and student information quickly and easily, and a much-improved emergency notification system with text and email capability. There is no automatic annual increase to this budget. In some years it may be increased to pay for communication improvements; in some years it has significantly decreased.

We understand that voters and taxpayers have questions about how public dollars are spent. The school board strives for transparency, and we welcome the opportunity to answer questions about how our schools are funded.

We invite all those with questions and concerns to attend our Town Hall meeting or participate in our Telephone Town Hall. Here are the details:

  • Town Hall Meeting – Thursday, Jan. 22, 6 p.m., Highline High School
  • Telephone Town Hall – Tuesday, Jan. 27, 7 p.m. (all residential phone numbers will be called, and you will be invited to stay on the line to participate.)

We thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions and set the record straight.

Bernie Dorsey, President
Highline School Board

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4 Responses to “LETTER: Highline School Board President shares concerns about misinformation”
  1. willski says:

    Thank you.
    I support the Highline School District and school board.

  2. SSOS Sensible Spending on Our Schools says:

    The public meeting should have been a live, real town hall meeting months ago, with an open mike and spontaneous questions from the audience for the Board members and Susan Enfield. That is TRANSPARENCY. Canned, rehearsed and pre-prepared answers to a phantom audience on a phone call doesn’t cut it. Corralling the few individuals who attend these current meeting dates into little groups for control and not asking the pertinent questions to get truthful answers is manipulation at its utmost.
    Who are they kidding?
    Not us……

  3. Bree Davidson says:

    Thanks for clarifying, Bernie Dorsey.

    I shake my head in sadness about all of the energy spent fighting the bond and levy. I can’t imagine that anything positive can come from such vitriol.

    For my part, I support the district, I support our dedicated volunteer board, and I will vote yes for both the levy and the bond.

  4. Highline Voter says:

    You can thank the school board and the HSD administrators for creating this environment of unrest. We are pawns in the way of the ambition of district administrators. Eventually, that will become more clear. By that time, the damage will be done.