Thursday, April 30, 2009

Closing in on a final decision . . .

As directed, we made the proposal this evening to the Board for bringing back adjustments that had been made in earlier meetings. The priority in the recommendation was to first focus on certified staff and I believe that the proposal does demonstrate this priority. Below, is a summary of the proposal that the board reached consensus on supporting.

  1. Elementary - Bring back 3.8 of the 4.8 teachers on the RIF list.

  2. Secondary - Bring back 4.3 of the 5.3 teachers on the RIF list.

  3. Classified - Reduce the number of days from four to three including the non-represented staff.

  4. ELL - Provide revenue for a partial paraeducator position and training to implement the new delivery model.

We shared some data that we believe make this adjustment possible for both years of the biennium though we won't know revenue for sure until January of 2010 for the 2009-10 school year. Though we were able to bring back most of the teachers on the RIF list, there are still retire/rehire positions and resignations that will not be replaced. Losing these people and positions and adjustments to so many of our other programs make these positive changes bittersweet.

I'll share some of my reflections on the process and outcome in a later post. For now I would like to thank those on the budget team that made the initial adjustment recommendations for their commitment and time; Emilie Hard, Mark Koch, Rob Morrow, Tony Davis, Nancy Skerritt, Bruce Zahradnik, Annette Whittlesey, Lori Cloud, Sheri Melewski, and Kevin Patterson. They engaged in a difficult task with skill and perseverance and presented the board with options that met the challenge they faced. The same can be said for our School Board and the work that they have done over the last few months; Bill Clausmeyer, Mary Jane Glaser, Tami Henkel, Didem Pierson, and Joe Vreeburg. A word of thanks for these two groups has been earned.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A positive turn . . .

Just touching base with another budget update. On Tuesday, the Board spent time discussing the feedback from last week's public meetings to determine if they wanted to make changes to any of the proposed adjustments. The one change that was made was to continue Camp Casey as a cost neutral program to the general fund. All other proposals were moved forward without any additional changes.

They also made the decision to use the projected increase in fund balance to bring back budget adjustments that have been proposed. The fund balance amount identified at the meeting is approximately $890,000. They further directed me to come back on Thursday with a recommendation on how to use this amount over the two years of the biennium to reverse the adjustment process.

We have been busy preparing for Thursday's meeting and the important discussions that will take place. Our budget committee meets in the morning to review the priorities that have been identified by the principals during discussions yesterday and today. We will look at the opportunity in front of us to make a recommendation that we believe best positions us in the short and long term to continue our journey.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A big step out of the unknown . . .

With the information as of late Friday, it looks like the budget compromise in Olympia will result in a projected deficit of about $3,600,000. This is an increase over what was estimated and includes restoring the fund balance, a contingency for setting the budget later this spring, and a small revenue increase from the enrollment projection.
Over the next few days we will learn more as OSPI analyzes the budget and posts information. Though we were hoping for better, we are thankful that we have the information so that we can move forward.

What does all of this mean? Well, last week the board identified adjustments that totaled $3,350,000 from a list that totaled $3,600,000. This difference of about $250,000 must first be made up before they would consider adjusting the original cut line. They have multiple options for making up this deficit such as moving the cut line to include other adjustments or decreasing the amount of fund balance currently included in the planning to make up for what was used to balance the current year’s budget.

All of this will happen this week as the board prepares for a final decision on adjustments on May 5th. It will be another interesting week starting on Tuesday with a review of the community feedback from last week’s three meetings.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Moving forward . . .

We learned today that the Senate and House have reached agreement on budget cuts that makes it more likely that the session will end on the 26th. Though we don’t yet have the final budget numbers, this is good news. We are being told that the information may be available as early as tomorrow morning. It means that the Board will know if our $3,350,000 target is accurate and, if yes, they can then begin to make decisions about potentially bringing back any of the recommended certified adjustments. Our May 5th date for final decisions may actually be final including any changes to the current recommendations if we get the budget detail tomorrow or early next week.

This evening was the last of our three feedback meetings. The turnout was larger than expected, about 200 over the three days, with a mix of staff and community coming forward to share their feelings about the recommended adjustments and to ask clarifying questions. Some of the themes that emerged include the following:
· Teachers must be saved.
· Find other revenue producers.
· Charge for zero hour.
· Have the community pay for Camp Casey.
· Advocacy on both sides of the Discovery program.
· Concern for the impact of adjustments to the Special Services program.

The board will be meeting on the 28th to review this feedback to determine if they need to make any changes to their proposed list of adjustments. If necessary, they will continue this conversation on the 30th. I know that some of my thinking has been influenced by the feedback and I look forward to the discussion with the board.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One more call for common national standards . . .

Here's an article from Time on those pesky national standards with one mention of a national curriculum. Isaacson joins those that are calling for Obama and Duncan to take advantage of the stimulus package to entice states into joining this movement. There is a lot of money at stake in the Race to the Top program that will make it hard for states to ignore this potential revenue source during these difficult budget times.

I don't see a lot of new information in the article, but he does present a case for why it is important and for how to begin the process. What it does accomplish is to keep this topic in the news and in front of those in position to influence this movement. The numbers of those calling for this change are growing and when they include the names Obama and Duncan the leverage is obviously something that cannot be ignored.

As I have shared in previous posts, I find myself more willing to engage in the conversation than I would have previously. I am influenced by the potential to shift our focus from what to teach and assess to one of supporting teachers and students in the act of teaching and learning. What could we accomplish if the nation's resources were focused on supporting teacher growth over time? Of course, this would only happen after the many years it would take to develop and implement common standards accepted by all states. Oh well, one can dream.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tomorrow, we learn . . .

The Board met four evenings last week beginning on Tuesday with the regular first meeting of the month. This was followed by three straight evenings of budget discussions. On two of those evenings, the entire budget committee was present to answer questions and to share their thoughts on the process of identifying and recommending potential budget adjustments. On Friday, they met with the intent of sharing their individual scoring on each adjustment and reaching consensus on what will be recommended for public feedback.

The results of their work will be shared Monday on the district’s website. You will then be able to see what potential adjustments fall below the $3.35 target and are thus saved, unless the target increases because the state cuts go deeper into public schools. You will also be able to see the order in which the adjustments will be reconsidered in the event that the state cuts are not as deep as anticipated or if the Board chooses to consider using any anticipated increase to the fund balance.

The Board has spent many hours planning for and then implementing a process to review the recommended adjustments. They have completed this phase and now have additional hours of hearing public feedback, reconsidering their priorities based on this feedback, determining a final target, and making final decisions. Through all of this they have practiced skillful discussion, using communication skills to keep an emotional topic in their rational brains. Disagreement was often evident and always ended with a consensus decision that all will support. I am proud to have had some influence and participation in this process and to be associated with this committed team of Board members.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A different context . . .

I’m still struggling with the way that we approached the current budget problems and the mental model that we created for some with the potential deficit with and without the projected state cuts. This mental model was shared by one of the speakers at Tuesday’s board meeting. The question being asked by many is how could we be $2 – 2.5 million in the hole without cuts from the state? This then leads to other questions and concerns with the district’ leadership. Who is responsible for creating this situation and what are we doing to make sure this doesn’t continue?

If I could start over I would create a different and more accurate context for consideration that would include the following information.

Every budget process starts with a gap between revenue and expenditures. For the past few years, this gap has been in the range of $1.5 - 2 million. During the process we have been able to balance the budget with adjustments that have for the most part not been felt by most staff and community members. It isn’t a situation where we went from no problems to a potential $2+ million gap in one year. Sharing this information may have influenced people’s mental models about the current situation. With this being the case, then why the big deal now?
A number of factors have contributed to the current situation that makes the process of balancing the budget no longer possible without more visible adjustments. These include:

· The state funding formulas for non-employee related costs (NERC’s) do not keep up with the increased costs for these products and services. NERC’s include all expenditures not related to salary such as energy costs, insurance, instructional materials, and the basic day-to-day operational costs. Over the last few years we have made adjustments in building and department NERC budgets to the point where the budget committee did not make recommendations for additional adjustments to the Board. They did, however, make recommendations for adjustments in Central Office departments on top of the previous year’s adjustments. Because of these previous adjustments, this is no longer an area where we will be able to significantly reduce expenditures to help in balancing the budget.

· We are in the third year of a commitment the district made with TEA to bring salaries to the average of surrounding districts. For the coming school year this commitment adds approximately $580,000 in expenditures and for the three years approximately $1.5 million. This is being done with no new revenue source to balance these expenditures. Adjustments were and will continue to be necessary to make up the gap between revenue and expenditures that result from this commitment.

· Our fund balance has been another source used to balance the budget. Once again, this is not something that is visible to those not directly engaged in the process. For the current year $805,000 was used in the balancing process thus eliminating the need to make adjustments in that amount. The use of these funds is problematic as we need a reasonable reserve and in any given year it may not be possible to draw from this source. In the current process, the Board may choose to once again use this source to negate the need for some adjustments. It is, however, in some way putting off adjustments that will be necessary to balance revenue and expenditures in the future.

· A slowdown in enrollment growth has added to this problem because enrollment is the main driver of state revenue which influences the amount that can be collected in local revenue. With increasing enrollment, the gap between state funding formulas and escalating expenditures was partially made up through this increased revenue. The slowdown in revenue growth is making it more difficult to make up this difference between revenue and expenditures resulting from the comprehensive program we offer today.

There are others, but hopefully this creates a different context. This deficit has increased because of the state budget deficit and the potential to add $2+ million more in cuts to state revenue. The big cut at this time is to I-728 with the Senate cutting $2.7 million and the House $1.9 million. This is partially offset in some way that we do not yet know through stimulus funds. It is this I-728 cut that has placed us in the position of needing to look at staffing adjustments to certified staff at the level included in the recommendations before the board. We can’t make up this amount of lost revenue through adjustments to NERC’s or other programs.

Well, if you were able to persevere you may have a better understanding of why this budget process differs from previous years and that the difference when starting the process wasn’t at the $2 – 2.5 million at the local level. It was $.5 – 1 million more than in the past few years, a number driven by the use of fund balance in the previous year and year three of the TEA commitment.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The public sharing started this evening . . .

Tonight's board meeting was the beginning of the public budget process. It was a wonderful site to look out and see an almost full board room. I would guess somewhere between 60 and 70 people were in attendance, perhaps more.

In the public comment section of the meeting ten people shared their thoughts. The main topic of sharing during this time was the potential loss of the elementary gifted program with six of the ten having this as their main focus. Others shared their concern with the potential loss of Camp Casey, the loss of teaching positions, and the struggle with the need for these budget adjustments.

The first speaker spoke eloquently and from the heart of his concern with what he views as a closed process and uncommon for our school system. He also shared concerns with among other things how we could be in this situation, why there are no administrators being cut, concern with what he perceives as a lack of focus on students in the work done by the committee recommending the adjustments, and the desire for the board to look to the research for guidance as they make adjustment decisions. Unfortunately, I believe that he speaks for many who have similar concerns about the process and about the specific adjustments. That may be the nature of the situation as we have not found a way to create common understanding or a systemic view of how we arrived here and how best to move into the future.

Though the meeting was not the place to debate or engage in skillful discussion about the stated concerns I think it is important for people to know that the committee looked to the research many times with class size being one of those situations. The research in this area is not conclusive as you can find some to support many positions, but what we do know is that with some special exceptions there is no significant achievement gain until class sizes approach the mid-teens. I don't believe that conclusive research can be found to suggest significant achievement differences when class sizes are already in the twenties. The committee also was concerned with the research around attachment to school and the importance of keeping this context when discussing program adjustments. Another area that was discussed was the research around staff development and adult learning as the committee struggled with the review of the Teaching and Learning Department. Though considered, it was not the driver for the recommended adjustments as adult learning was sacrificed for a focus on students and programs.

So much more to say, but it is getting pretty late for me to keep thinking clearly enough to share. I might have already messed up in what I said above as I won't review it with the same focus as normal. In closing, the theme that was the most prevalent during the entire meeting was the praise for the quality of adults that work in our school system with an emphasis on the commitment and competency of our teachers. This was accompanied with the sadness of losing some and a concern for each of their futures that was shared so well by one the of the PTA representatives that reported to the board.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I tried to preempt the rollout, but . . .

Tomorrow morning the recommendations for budget adjustments will be posted to our web page. Fifty plus pages of information, recommended adjustments, and areas studied, but not recommended for adjustments from the small team of administrators. I was a member of this small team as their facilitator so I did not have the opportunity to advocate and be part of the decisions. This was very difficult for me to do because of my beliefs and opinions on the content being reviewed. Early in the process I struggled with this role and made some statements that were perceived as parameter setting and advocating, but after some feedback realized that it was not supporting the work and that I must make the choice to facilitate. I owe this wise choice to Mark for the feedback that helped me realize the role I was playing. Thank you, Mark.

I want to thank these people for their work and commitment. They spent hours and hours in the basement of the Transportation Center and many additional hours preparing for the basement discussions. The use of SPACE was evident and was necessary as much of the discussion created emotion with the potential for fight or flight. They didn’t do either; they disagreed and were able to continue the discussion until consensus was reached. I don’t recall one time when there was the need to use MOST for reaching consensus. I am proud to be associated with them and with this work product.

I think Lara Lindersmith said it better than I could when she shared this on the discussion board.

That said, I would like to remind people that when budget decisions are made public, know the committee did their best in trying to do their best for our students. I am not a member of the budget committee, but I can only imagine what an incredibly difficult task they have. They may not implement your suggestion and they may not do what is best for every individual child or district employee, but they are trying to do what is best for the most students. It is important to remember that they look at the complete picture, which most of us do not get the opportunity to see. Let's remember to treat each other with the respect and professionalism each one of us deserves.

There are so many things I want to share. Here are just a few of the things I learned in no particular order.
· I care deeply for the people in this school system. It is very difficult to balance this caring with the need to maintain focus on our young people and the short and long term health of our school district. Balancing these competing commitments is very difficult while making budget adjustments.

· I am so proud of principals, assistant principals, supervisors, non-represented central office staff, and department supervisors for the decision to take a 2.25% to 3% salary cut next year. This is not a wage freeze as you see others taking in surrounding school districts; it is a cut to current salary. They made this decision early in the process thinking others might follow. When this didn’t happen there were concerns expressed, but they reconfirmed their earlier decision. Thank you so much for this demonstrated commitment to our young people and to our school system.

· We are blessed to have a quality school board. They have also met for many hours preparing for Tuesday. Their commitment is evident in the discussions and the process they have chosen. They want to use their knowledge base to make the critical decisions that they face while balancing the need for public influence during the process. These have been difficult decisions and balancing these will become more difficult as they enter the final decision making and public phase of the process.

· The antiquated public school financing system at the state level must change if we are to meet the needs of today’s youth for success in their future. We can’t provide the comprehensive program demanded by these needs with formulas to meet the needs as they were in the late 1970’s. I fear that the recent push to raise the local levy limits will be the answer from Olympia. This has not worked in the past and won’t work in the future. It simply leads to more inequity and struggles at the local level.

· We have a remarkable school district. The young people that we work with have talent and capacity that allow us to be successful. The adults in our district care and are committed to supporting their needs and we have support structures in place for students and for staff.

· The need for focusing first on the Central Office when needing budget adjustments was not new learning for me, but it was reinforced multiple times during the discussions in the basement and in the community. When you read the report I believe that you will see this in the results. Almost one third of the recommended adjustments come from budgets controlled in Central Office departments.
o Central Office Recommended Adjustments $1,101,000
o Total Other Recommended Adjustments $2,517,000

· One of the reasons we are a school system that parents want for their children and that adults want to work in is because of the work done through the Teaching and Learning Department. Nancy, Dawn, Ann, and Kristin are treasures that I wish all could come to understand and appreciate as I do. Unfortunately, for many this is the place where adjustments should first come because they are perceived to not be close to the kids. The committee did review this department first and made the decision to recommend adjustments totaling approximately one third of the department’s current budget. These changes, if accepted by the board, will result in significant impact on our ability to support adult learning and leadership development; two areas of our work that have had influence on who we are and one of the reasons why we are a destination place for families and staff. This is difficult for me to not view as a priority, but when placed alongside people losing their jobs, the context does change.

I could go on, but maybe I’ll leave some for later. Before stopping, I want to share one of the drivers for the committee was the need for balance in the recommendations so that no employee group would be perceived as having the adjustment made on their back. When you review the report I believe that you will see this. You may not agree on the specific recommended adjustments, but balance is evident if one can objectively view the data in Table I on page 6 of the report.

I tried to link the report, but I cannot figure out how to embed an Adobe file into Blogger and I'm tired of trying. When you open it from the web page I encourage you to read the Introduction and Summary before looking at the specific adjustment recommendations so that you have a context for how the decisions were reached.

Thanks for caring and remember to thank those who worked on the report.

Lori Cloud, Director of Financial Services
Tony Davis, Director of Athletics and THS Assistant Principal
Emilie Hard, Glacier Park Elementary Principal
Mark Koch, Cedar River Middle School Principal
Mike Maryanski, Superintendent and committee facilitator (non‐voting member)
Sheri Melewski, Food Services Director
Rob Morrow, Tahoma Junior High Principal
Kevin Patterson, Public Information Officer (non‐voting member)
Nancy Skerritt, Assistant Superintendent and Director of Teaching and Learning
Annette Whittlesey, Director of Special Services
Bruce Zahradnik, Assistant Superintendent and Director of Human Resources

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The answer - a longer day . . .

It seems that Secretary Duncan thinks that our kids need to go to school longer days and a longer year. His rationale; our kids need to compete with those from India and China where they do spend more time and days in school. Sounds good, but it sounds more like the KIPP schools to me. It also sounds like some of what Bill Gates is proposing, a simple solution to a complex problem.

Spending more time in school doing the same things they are doing today will not necessarily better prepare them to compete with the best students from other countries. Test scores might increase because districts will have more time to focus and prepare students for the standardized tests used to measure success, but will this be better preparation for the competition they will face for jobs in the future? I don’t believe it will. I don’t argue that more time might have a positive influence on learning, but it must be accompanied with changes in what students learn and how they learn it. It would be cruel to subject students in some districts and classrooms to more of the same for longer hours. The end result would be increased boredom and dislike of learning.

Adding time will not bring passion to the learning process for students or for teachers and passion is what we must find to transform our profession. I believe that we are doing this work in our school system and that it should be embraced by those in Olympia and Washington D.C. as a model that can be replicated and that will support the changes necessary for young people to experience success in post high school learning and work. If only we had a way to share our story.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finally, some light in that tunnel!

We received the pivot tables on Monday and spent the next two days reviewing them. Lori made the decision to plug our data into her own model after spotting some problems with the OSPI data. The results are as follows:

Budget Deficit
Governor $2,350,000
Senate $3,822,890
House $3,700,000

Since the Governor’s budget was built on a projected shortfall of $6 billion that is now $9 billion, we believe that the final version will be closer to the Senate and House version. Though the totals are close the details that result in these numbers are very different. For example, the Senate budget cuts I-728 by $2,980,000 while in the House version it is $1,915,000. They also use stimulus revenue in very different ways to offset the cuts. With these differences and the other budget differences we believe that it will take until late April before the final version will be published.

Though there are still unanswered questions, this information is critical as we begin to make final target decisions and the Board begins the review process. On Monday, the Board made the decision to use a projected increase in fund balance to partially offset the projected deficit. This means that they can keep the original target at $3.35 million and back fill what is needed to balance the budget when the final numbers are known. The good news, because of the increase in fund balance, is that the target number could decrease. Unless things change in the final budget for the worse it should not have to be increased.

The not so good news is that using federal stimulus money for the next biennium may simply put off future adjustments that will be necessary when the stimulus revenue is not available. This problem is further exacerbated by again using fund balance to make up the difference between revenue and expenditures. Oh well, one step at a time and the one we are taking is truly a GIANT step.

We share the budget committee’s report tomorrow and Friday with the small community committee with representatives from the following organizations. The same information will be made public on our web page sometime on Monday the 13th.
· City of Maple Valley
· Greater Maple Valley Area Council
· Maple Valley Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce
· Maple Valley Rotary
· Maple Valley Community Center

These individuals will review the committee’s report and on Tuesday the 14th will share their response to the recommended adjustments with the Board. The Board will use this feedback to review their rating system prior to three straight evenings of work that will result in identifying the adjustments necessary to meet the $3.35 million target. This information will then be shared with the community in three public meetings the week of April 20th for their feedback.

Though a long time in coming, things are beginning to happen rapidly. There is now some light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The waiting continues . . .

I know that we are not alone, but waiting for information is getting tiresome. We were supposed to have the tables from OSPI on Thursday to understand the differences in revenue for the three budgets now unveiled in Olympia. As of Friday, still no release. Now we are being told tomorrow some time. As soon as we get this information we can begin our analysis to see how far apart they are and then narrow our target for budget adjustments. This information is critical because we need to have the committee’s recommendations ready for the board and public on Monday. We do not want to make adjustments at a deeper level than necessary so the sooner we get this information the more time we will have to arrive at a number that we believe will be close to the final state budget due at the end of April.

By now, many of you know that we have shared with some certified staff that their positions are part of the recommendations that the board will consider. We did this because of the timing of spring break and the release of the information on April 13th. We wanted to share with these people before next Monday so that they would not come to work after break and be surprised by a colleague with a question or an I’m sorry statement. Though we are trying to provide general information whenever possible, some adjustments are tied to specific positions so it was important to share this with the potentially impacted individuals. Our principals and supervisors have spent many hours with Bruce and Lori struggling to make the adjustments based on the staffing they were given. I know that these were not easy decisions and that the board will experience the same difficulty in making the final decisions.

Well, for many this is the real beginning of experiencing this difficult situation. Unfortunately, there is more to come. Our administrative team has done a great job and their work continues this week as we make final decisions and prepare the information for board and public review.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bullies don't prevail . . .

Have you seen this article in the Washington Post where Bill Gates shares his thoughts on saving American public education? I have followed the work of the Gates Foundation from the high school small school fix to his new initiative focused on pre-K, charter schools, and teacher effectiveness. I don’t know that this latest initiative will have any more influence at implementing and sustaining change than did the small school fix.

I’ll let you read the article and form your own opinions, but I will share some thoughts. First, let me share this excerpt from the article.

One purpose of measurement would be to deploy the best teachers to the neediest schools, and pay them accordingly; another, to fire the worst teachers. But the main point, Gates said, is that effective teaching can be taught: "The biggest part is taking the people who want to be good -- and helping them."

I don’t disagree that we know what effective teaching looks and sounds like and that we can support teachers in acquiring the knowledge base and skill set to become increasingly effective. The last sentence, however, is of grave concern to me and at the core of why I believe they have been and will continue to be less than effective. PLEASE, show me the teachers who do not want to BE GOOD and therefore should be fired. There are far more teachers that want to be GREAT, but need the learning opportunities and support over time than those that come to school every day wanting to harm young people.

Where is the positive presupposition that makes me want to engage with them? Telling me how bad our schools are and that the answer can be found in the KIPP charters does not put me in a position of wanting to be a part of their solution. It just ticks me off and puts me in my reptilian brain where I have the choice of fight or flight.

The fix must start with examining the cultures that are necessary to support teacher growth over time. In the absence of a safe and supportive culture, sustaining change will not happen. This does not mean that we do not place high demand on ourselves for the achievement of all students because we do. But, this must emerge from the adults at each building and in each district where this work takes place.

We must find ways to create a foundation of communication knowledge and skills that result in the capacity for the skillful conversations that are necessary to create these cultures. We must also find ways to distribute leadership to teachers. Effective change that sustains over time will not be possible until we put teachers in positions to support each other in these learning initiatives. When in place these cultures will demand and support the changes necessary for ALL students to achieve at high levels.

Our doors will not be open to influence from the Gates Foundation until they understand that our schools are living systems and that we won’t simply change because they tell us the KIPP schools are doing it. Labeling all those in public education as bad and praising a small charter movement as the only or primary alternative route to success will not result in the collaboration that is necessary to create and sustain change in public schools. Trying to embarrass us in the newspaper and every other media source they can find will not promote dialogue, but just the opposite; debate followed by fight or flight. Acting like a bully who is aligned with and supported by the President and his education secretary isn’t going to work. This bully won’t win in the long run, just like they haven’t in earlier initiatives. Until they change strategy and embrace us and our work they will not experience success. We could teach them something, but they won’t reach out to us. We don’t have Charter after Tahoma, we are Tahoma Public School District and proud of it.

Sorry for the length of this post, but sometimes I get a little wound up. After reading the article, what would you like to tell Mr. Gates?