Education watchdog Melissa Westbrook unearthed a memo on the Seattle Public Schools website today. What about? The pros and cons of charter schools! (And what happened when school district officials spent time exploring them.) It begins:

As you are aware, staff has been asked to understand and communicate the implications of charter schools on Seattle Public Schools. We have formed a cross-departmental working group to better understand the implications for the district. The working group includes representatives from Budget, Enrollment, Facilities, Legal, DoTS, Policy and Strategic Planning. Staff is not a making recommendation in this memo, but is simply outlining the information and current understandings.

The district can barely maintain its own buildings and isn't prepared to roll out Smarter Balanced tests (which some teachers have pledged to boycott), Westbrook points out—among other pressing concerns. "And yet," she says, "at least seven people at SPS did this work on charter schools." For Seattle politico Robert Cruickshank, this demonstrates "that central staff at Seattle Public Schools is out of control."

School board member Sue Peters says the board received a memo this summer informing them of an upcoming state deadline for SPS to become an authorizer of charter schools. "And I'm not interested in pursuing it," she says. "I don't support charter schools. I support fully funding public education. The majority of Seattle voters do not support charter schools. The last thing we need right now is to divert our attention even more from our busy agenda."

Peters isn't sure who on the school board requested the staff memo. Whoever it is: you're not making SPS, which continues to be dogged by scandal and federal investigations, look like any less of a mess.