Big Agenda for tonight's Board Meeting

Apparently, my RSS feeds are seriously lagging – I am just now learning about a number of very interesting things going on at the Board meeting tonight.

From BoardDocs:

7. Reports: New Business
B. High School Options: Judy Wiegand
C. Summer Youth Employment: Orlando Thomas
D. District Technology Plan: Roger Grinnip
8. Action Agenda: Unfinished Business
A. Approval of Resolution: Notice To Issue Working Cash Bonds: Gene Logas
B. Approval of Resolution Expressing Intent To Reimburse Certain Capital Expenditures Form Future Bond Proceeds: Gene Logas

The PDF for the Great Schools Together (GST) is … not as exciting as I was hoping for. The High School Option PDF gives an analysis of what it would be like having one high school, but I did not see where the report is credited to any one person or group.

I am a little concerned about the working cash bonds; $15.5 million is a bit of money, and over the past month since Meg reported on this, I have not seen or heard of any kind of discussion happening about these things. I get the feeling that the District assumes silence implies consent, which is probably the furthest thing from the truth. 🙂

 

The Gene Logas documents spell out the legal requirements, and since I don’t speak Legalese, they don’t mean much to me. The one spreadsheet does give a broad breakdown of that $15.5 million. I see that the wireless ($2.3 mil) and the one-laptop-per-child ($3.4 mil) tie into Grinnip’s technology plan, but I was under the impression those monies came from other sources (the name of the Federal Grant escapes me now). That’s just one-third of the total pie, but a big third it is.

 

References:

BoardDocs: http://www.boarddocs.com/il/champil/Board.nsf/public

Meg Dickinson’s article from today: http://www.news-gazette.com/blogs/schoolhouse-blog/2012-02/champaign-school-board-vote-working-cash-bond-issue-discuss-merits-on

Meg’s Jan 23rd article: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-01-23/champaign-school-board-consider-high-school-possibiities-issuing-cash-bond

Previous blog entry: https://thecitizen4blog.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/concerns-about-where-the-administration-is-going/

 

My head is starting to spin. You all have 30 days to gather some 9,000+ signatures if you want to petition the cash bonds.

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7 Responses to “Big Agenda for tonight's Board Meeting”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    One other thing. Here is the “official notice” that went out:
    http://www.champaignschools.org/Board/1112BoardAgendas/board_notice_2012-02-27.pdf

    Talk about boilerplate and bland as cardboard.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    Aside from the fact that I am not seeing any engagement with the public (by that I mean where the public was actually engaged – Board Meetings do not count), I have no clue how working cash bonds affect us as citizens, property-owners and tax payers. I have asked Gene Logas to provide some of that information in “clear language” that anyone can understand.

    Subject: Request for “layperson” language about working cash bond at tonight’s Special Board Meeting

    “Mr. Logas, I would like to request a “common language” interpretation of the working cash bond information that you will be presenting tonight. For instance, what would $15.5 million working cash bonds mean for the tax payer? If I recall correctly, the elusive “sunset clause” of the 1% property tax referendum states that all bonds must be paid off in full before the 1% property tax can be retired. What other ramifications are there?”

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    Hmm… I took a look at the 2011 GST report and…. wow, there are a lot of similarities. In the past year, things like the Parent Inclusion Network (PIN), Parent Advisory Council (PAC) and the Teacher Satisfaction Survey have been “In progress”. Where do we get update/status reports on those things? Is next year’s GST report going to be more of the same?

    I realize I am being cynical. I almost feel like I should apologize. Maybe my expectations are just really high and they are not being met.

  4. charlesdschultz Says:

    August 2011 email to the GST team, Dr. Wiegand and Sue Grey with outstanding questions (only the SES question has been answered):

    Good day,

    In reference to the GST report posted on the Unit 4 webpage: http://www.champaignschools.org/Great_Schools/2011-02_board_presentation.pdf

    In re-reading the February report, I am finding that I still have no context for the term “SES”. I know the acronym stands for “Socioeconomic status”, but that is not enough to help me understand graphs as on page 12 (page 10 of the “attached report” as indicated in the PDF) and others throughout this document. I do see on another page (15, or 13 of the report) the term “Low SES”, which indicates “low socioeconomic status”. However, in both cases these terms are vague and in my opinion, not exactly clear. This metric is used along-side other very obvious metrics such as Ethnicity/Race (Black, White, Hispanic, Asian) and Gender (Male, Female). How exactly is Unit 4 defining the terms “SES” and “Low SES”? It would be helpful to publish that information as part of the report, perhaps in the “Glossary of Terms” located on the last page. I would hope to see not only a definition, but a comprehensive breakdown of the factors involved in defining it. This should probably be linked, in some form or fashion, with how Dr. Alves defines and derives “SES” in the context of the school lotteries.

    In this regard, I am quite concerned about the mixed messages. I echo Dr. Mark Aber’s sentiments that he raised in both the 2000 and the 20008 Climate Survey, that while overall the picture of Unit 4 looks pretty good, there are individual and focused areas that need attention. Specifically, I would say “Student Achievement and Well Being” is not being met by certain segments of the population, for instance the Low SES and in some cases, and particular Black and Hispanic populations. Let me point out that my concern is strictly about the steps we (the Community along with Unit 4, Together) are currently taking and plan to take in order to address these issues, because I truly do wish to see this goal met for all our children. I know many of you, perhaps all of you, share this desire.

    The reported AYP (page 4/2) shows a negative trend (even though the word “negative” is not used). The report indicates that “CU Scholars”, “Response to Intervention (RtI)”, and “Common Core Standards and Assessment” are Initiatives for these concerns. How? How exactly is the School District going to address these issues? How is the Community coming along-side the School District in this effort? Is it even a practical, feasible goal to have 50% of the schools achieving AYP with the NLCB standards continuing to increase?

    The reported Diversity (page 10/8) also shows a negative trend, and there are Initiatives identified with this goal as well. And yet my questions are the same – How?

    Please note that I do realize there are lots of folks already involved in the “How”; volunteers, staff, faculty, students, parents, and business owners. While I realize this is true, I do not see this involvement in the report or on the U4 website. Or at least, it is not clear to me. And I fully admit, I do not need to see it. But it certainly helps as a concerned citizen trying to be involved and wanting to take “Great Schools, Together” seriously.

  5. charlesdschultz Says:

    I don’t have the energy for a full-blown post – tonight’s meeting was a grueling 3.5 hours. We covered a lot of ground. My personal highlight was Don Kermath who made it quite clear that he opposes the “mechanism” by which the Board and the Administration is acquiring the working cash bonds. I believe I would agree; from my perspective, there is a lack of community input into how the problems of the district are to be solved. Instead, what I see (I spy with my two eyes) is that the Administration is making a recommendation (a very viable financial need, but couched in financial technical jargon) and the Board deliberates the nuances of what the money is going to go towards. I did not hear the Administration nor the Board talk about getting the public’s opinion. Speaking with Don afterwards, that is his big deal – our taxes are going up and we have no say whatsoever.

    I think I see part of the picture from the Board’s point of view. I think. They cannot possible go to the community with every single issue. I get that. It would not only take too long, it would sow division.

    But the problem they have now is a lack of trust. I personally have talked with most members of the Board (some on a regular basis) and I trust them very much. But as a group, I want more of a voice. And I hear others around me saying they want more of a voice. It feels like the Board is doing what it wants to do “in the interests of the children”.

    I don’t think this is because the Board is on a power trip. Rather, it looks like from where I am sitting that the Board has always done this, so it is just the normal thing to do. Going to the public on something like working cash bonds seems inefficient, slow, ponderous and time-consuming. Well…. yes, it is. One of the things I mentioned in open comment was that I would like to see Unit 4 collaborate more with the University. And I have told the Board in the past that I want to see more community involvement. I know Judy Wiegand is working on building trust, and I realize it will be slow. Unfortunately, they do not need to convince me. They need to convince a whole lot of other people. 🙂

    3.5 hours. Holy MegaMetting, Batman!

  6. Feb 27th Special Board Meeting « A citizen’s blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] into the GST report. Personally, I was a bit underwhelmed with the report. I had looked at it yesterday and was hoping that Judy would go into more detail. I find myself wanting to like GST and wanting […]


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