June 11th Board Meeting: plowing through that massive agenda

This was an experiment on my part. I thought “If I were a Board Member, I would have about 3 days to go through this entire agenda, read the associated documents, and try to be prepared for the Monday night Board Meeting.” Having gone through this ludicrous list, I now have much more respect for Board Members. At the same time, if I were a Board Member, I would be punching myself in the face! 🙂 There has got to be a better way to do this. For the record, it took me about 2 hours to type all this up, going through the agenda items one by one.

Also, much respect for folks like Dr. Wiegand that have to fill in for Gene Logas – he certainly carried a lot of responsibility.

[apologies for the formatting – WordPress is not being kind to me today]

Public Hearing: School Calendar Holiday Waiver: Maria Alanis

The Administration recommends that the Board hold a public hearing on some kind of proposed school holiday waiver. It is not exactly clear to me what was proposed.

High School Grade Configuration Report: Judy Wiegand

See my previous post. Basically, no silver bullets. Debate about whether we can “kick the can down the line”. 🙂

High School Options: Judy Wiegand

Holly Nelson has been generating a slew of reports. Public comment (on her blog) is highly encouraged.

Administrative Appointments: Margie Jobe

Blank. Literally.

Refurbished Desktop Computer Units: Judy Wiegand

Why do we need 600 Dell Computers? What is Option 1 and Option 2? I have to assume that, based on the wording of the recommendation, Option 1 is for the Dell 760 as opposed to the Dell 755 in the bid. I mean, at $235 a pop, it’s not that bad a deal (there are better deals online, but I am not sure about bulk orders like this), but still, why 600?

Bid – Buses: Judy Wiegand

I know nothing about buses. But I am concerned about the larger issue of so many kids being bused in the first place. Are we replacing buses that have been retired, or are we adding to the fleet?

Title I School-Wide Plan – Bottenfield Elementary: Trevor Nadrozny

Hmm.. didn’t realize that Bottenfield is now Title 1. I think it is a good thing we are receiving federal money, right? Curious, what is the school improvement plan for Bottenfield. We saw several improvements at a previous Board Meeting, but they were all old. Are the SY2012 plans available to us?

Safe Routes to School – Dr. Howard: Barbara Ramsay

Again, the administration would like the Board to approve The Plan, but The Plan is not included in the documents listed. Granted, I do find it helpful (thank you!) to see the report by the CCRPC. (The document entitled “Safe Routes to School” is perhaps a bad link? It only shows an unsigned form letter of sorts) I find it rather cool that the CCRPC is doing analysis and a report on each school – I was not previously aware of that. Gotta love how on page 6 of the plan, the “proposed” idea has significantly greener grass than the “existing” picture. 🙂 Good sell, that. As I biker, I very much appreciate what Safe Routes is doing.

Resolution – Prevailing Wage Rates: Judy Wiegand

Holy Wall of Legal Text, Batman! This is one of those kinds of things where I am so glad I don’t have to jump through all this bureaucracy in my own day job. My head hurts just reading this stuff. Another sad reminder of how Gene Logas faithfully took care of these kinds of things, and how now someone else has to take on these duties.

Resolution – Permanent Transfer of Working Cash Fund Interest: Judy Wiegand

More legal mumbo jumbo. I was sorta kinda hoping I would have a clue what this all meant, since Gene did previously attempt to teach me a little about some of the various Funds and Working Cash. I guess I need to go back and brush up on my lessons. However, what little I understand of the language use, it seems like the interest was earned in FY2009 – why are we transferring funds now, here in June 2012?

Resolution – Transfer of Capital Projects Fund Interest: Judy Wiegand

Much the same as the above. I am confused on another aspect; the language speaks as if it is by the initiative of the Board that funds are transferred. But from where I sit, it appears that the Board is merely voting on a recommendation made by the administration. Sure, I get “this is the way we have always done it”, but it confuses me know that I take a slightly closer look at things. And then I wonder, why are funds being transferred in the first place? Where is the justification? The interest goes into the Education Fund, but why? For what purpose? I know I am but a grasshopper – even the grass seems large to me.

Career Centers Update: Judy Wiegand

I like how this line-item has a bit more background information – I find this helpful. Thank you to whomever did this. I currently do not see Bid that is supposed outstanding, but for right now, that is not a big worry to me. Also, it is not often we get to see responses from vendors. Just out of curiosity, is this abatement work outside the scope of the original bid for the College and Career Center? What does this do to the project’s budget?

Proposed On-Line Meal Pay Plan: Arlene Blank

I thought this was quite interesting. And I think I like it. While I am curious about “the plan” (there are those words again), I am not sure it would be helpful to me if it is all legal jibberish again. Having experience significant problems with the food system this past year (ie, parent’s being charge erroneously when they have a $0 balance), I wonder if the internal staff will use this tracking system or not for those that continue to pay with cash.

Proposed Board Policy 440.03 FOOD SERVICES – Charging Costs of Meals: Arlene Blank

Obviously related to the above line-item. But my question still stands. On a slightly related note, I am compelled to consider the children in such situations that parents are not able to pay for their food. I realize “not able” covers a broad spectrum from “not willing” to “I had to choose between paying the power bill in December vs food”. For right now, I am going to assume the majority is the latter. The social justice part of me wants to start a conversation about what to do in these cases. I don’t like the idea of a school district being Creditor. But what are better alternatives?

Proposed Board of Education Policies/Procedures: Arlene Blank

A continuation from the previous Regular Board Meeting about changes to Policy concerning Child Well-being (re, diabetes, bullying and Safe Zones). It looks like the Board will vote on it. It is my understanding that any differences of opinion, tweaking the fine points, etc will be handled in Closed Session, and when the Board votes in Open Meeting, it is my expectation that everyone will vote in favor. While this is a long-standing practice, I wish there was a better way to have a true discussion/dialog. Granted, it would be utterly impractical and a huge waste of time to allow every single issue to be ironed out via consensus. So what is the better way? Ideas?

Student Code of Conduct 2012-13: Orlando Thomas

I am not sure what to say about this section. This was also brought up in the last Board Meeting (as Mr. Thomas acknowledges). I did not realize that the Discipline Advisory Committee meets with so many representatives (CFT, CESP, parents, Board Members and district administrators) to hash out this Code. As stated above, I know that Board Member Brown (and others?) raised a concern about how long records were kept, who gets to see them and how they might be used. If I recall correctly, Mr. Thomas (and Dr. Wiegand) assured the Board that these records are kept quite secure and certain people are only allowed to view documents under special circumstances.

The next three sections were all blank

Motion to approve the Consent Agenda – New Business

Minutes of May 14, 2012 and May 21, 2012

CFT Request for Additional Sick Leave: Margie Jobe

And then the no-so-blank items….

Donation – Summer Break Skating Passes: Judy Wiegand

Woot! Something good to vote for. 🙂

Kids Plus Salary Increases: Judy Wiegand

To my untrained/unexposed mind, this sounds like a great thing. However, I must ask, how effective is Kids Plus at providing a quality program in a safe environment? I am assuming the environment is exactly the same as the school. What about the quality? I don’t know, so I cannot cast any stones. Does it make sense that we continue to make Kids Plus work?

Additional Staffing Request: Judy Wiegand

Wow, 5 more positions. And Wow, we ate up the 8 that were already approved in previous Board Meetings (March). Wow! Obviously we are dealing with larger-than-anticipated growth in the Kindergarten classes (from this year and next). I don’t mean to be cynical, but I would like to understand more about the Response to Intervention team, if it warrants two more positions. I also wonder if all these new positions “to address overcrowding” serve as the impetus for funds (in the form of interest from Working Cash, et al) being diverted into the Education Fund. Maybe?

Bills and Treasurer’s Report – May: Judy Wiegand

I am thankful that Unit 4 is being transparent in this way. I have to confess, the numbers are a bit overwhelming to me, but I do very much appreciate that Unit 4 comes right out and makes things public. I am rather skeptical of attorney fees (because, of course, all lawyers are evil *grin*); while not made explicit, I see that between the three Firms we contract with, we paid about $264k last year, most of it going to Franczek Radelet for “General School Law”. Yeah, that is helpful. 🙂 And that firm is charging us a chunk of change for “Johnson et al”. What is that?

Human Resource Changes: Margie Jobe

Wow, another monster list. Again, not exactly sure what to make of this. Sad to see that Lynn Peisker is leaving. And Mike Harden? That leaves the IT department a bit short, even with a new “Director of Educational Technology”, doesn’t it? I should go look up how Unit 4 defines a “Leave of Absence” – is that a paid or unpaid leave? I am assuming unpaid, but the position is available to the person next year.

RFP: Hovercam T3 Document Cameras: Judy Wiegand

Hovercam?!? Are we going sci-fi now? =) Google tells me they are document scanners and cameras (basically). But why do we need them? What purpose do they play? And 320 of them?!? Wow.

RFP: Interactive Whiteboards and Digital Projectors: Judy Wiegand

227 smartboards?!? Holy Camoley! Ok, some quick math (on my part); if each k-5 3-strand school has 24 rooms and we have 11 k-5 schools, that is approximately one “interactive whiteboard” per classroom at the k-5 level (assuming several classrooms already have such boards). Wow. That one vendor that bid on this is going to make a stack of dough. I have to ask though – I realize this is coming out of the technology budget, it just seems rather unfortunate that we have such a dire need for teachers and assistants and yet we are spending big money on tech items. On that note….

RFP: Wireless Access Points, Switches, Licenses, Installation and Other Related Equipment: Judy Wiegand

Wow, it is going to cost $79.9k to outfit the new Carrie Busey with wireless? Yeouch! I ran these numbers by an acquaintance who does wireless work in the area and he said the numbers (and equipment) are hyper-inflated in typical government fashion. The price could be significantly reduced if different models were used, and fewer of them – or for that matter, the entire architecture were addressed to focus on offering a much better bang-for-the-buck, instead of flashy name brand units for the sake of brand loyalty. I mean, for this high-end devices, do you really need one in every single room?!? Keep in mind that Unit 4 is not sharing any of this bandwidth with the community. Additionally, this local vendor was never made aware of the initial bid in the first place. Personally, I would love to see us use a company based in the Champaign area over some large corporation out of Chicago.

RFP Netbook Computer Units Batteries Charging Stations and Laptop Carts: Judy Wiegand

More of the same. The slightly good news is that we are getting a small discount (due bulk? Education discount?). But I am missing the justification for this “need”. And personally, the whole battery replacement industry is a complete scam. I am reminded of Don Kermath’s argument – laptops rarely last more than 3 years. That means we are going to have $60k worth of doorstops in 3 years?

Bid: Cafeteria Pizza Services: Judy Wiegand

Ahh… pizza. It is just a shame that no local venues want to give us that much of a discount; $5 for a 14″ pie does seem like a pretty good deal, for an individual. But ordering several thousand of them? Also, I am the kind of person that hates it when cheese for a cheeseburger costs 40 cents (really?!??). From the quotes, it looks like the opposite is true – sausage and pepperoni are free. 🙂 Funny how pizza has become a Friday tradition – I have been in the lunch room during one of these days and it is rather eye-opening. Lots of very happy kids, lots of adults getting sick of the stuff, and a fair amount of waste.

Bid: General Supplies: Judy Wiegand

Not much to say here – we all need supplies, right? I am slightly curious why the amount went up from $9,000 to $11,000. And I gotta feel bad for Rogard’s Office Plus only getting a measly 7 bucks. 🙂

Bid: Petroleum Products: Judy Wiegand

I get that we need to buy gas for the buses and such, but I do not understand the information as presented at all. Why is the bid by measure of profit margin? What does that mean? Will Petroleum Trader’s Corp charge us $0.0347 over and above the normal going rate, or is that over wholesale? And now because I am curious, how does Petroleum Corp get the gas to us in the first place? Just wondering.

Bid: Warehouse – Arts and Crafts Supplies: Judy Wiegand

Same as the General Supplies thing above; except this year we are down $1.6k. I do wonder if we have a practice of favoring local companies or not (not familiar with any of the vendors on this list).

Bid: Warehouse Training Aides and Blood Borne Pathogens Supplies: Judy Wiegand

No clue about “training aides” or why we would want “blood borne pathogens”. I am guessing these are standard medical supplies, but since there is a complete lack of description, I am truly guessing.

FY13 District Depositories: Judy Wiegand

Unit 4 apparently deals with 14 local financial institutions. Wow. This is probably one of those things where you simply vote “yes” because you have little to no motivation to vote “no”. Hypothetically speaking, what would be a good reason to vote “no”?

Temporary Non-Union Positions and Salaries: Judy Wiegand

Now that we are getting near the bottom (finally!!), this kinda sounds ok. I would be a little concerned that the min/max salaries are hardcoded, if this is to be adopted as guidelines – would it not make more sense to use the standard minimum wage as a index?

2012/2013 LUDA Membership Dues: Judy Wiegand

It is great that LUDA is advocating for schools and school children in the legislature. But because this involves money, I am curious what they have doe to earn the dues? Is not Voices for Illinois Children basically doing the same thing, yet we send them no money, do we? What tangible benefits have come out of participation in LUDA? Or even intangible benefits for that matter?

2012/2013 IASB Membership Dues: Judy Wiegand

IASB’s motto is “The Experience of Each for the Benefit of All”. Whatever dude. We pay $13k for what?

I really have no envy for Board Members who have to read through and try to comprehend all of this. This is crazy!

One Response to “June 11th Board Meeting: plowing through that massive agenda”

  1. Summary of June 11th Board Meeting « A citizen’s blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] is my summary of the June 11th Board Meeting. Note I do not intend to rehash what I wrote previously in preparation for the […]

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