Trying to pack a bunch of updates into one. 🙂
This week I switched our Houlihans gathering to Thursday so Laura B could join us. Later on we were joined by Patricia Avery, a fellow candidate for the Board appointment back in April. We talked about a range of things, including where negative perceptions of schools come from, how awesome most of the teachers are, how some times the school principal can make or break the experience (especially for first-time visitors). We talked about the Choice program, some of the pros and cons of neighborhood schools and tried to define equity. We also talked about the Public Engagement firm (DeJong-Richter and Fallon Research) and highschool site selections and “when is a building officially declared no good anymore?”; I had a very questions for Laura given her background with information systems, and we both agree that we would like to see at least something of the data that these firms are collecting with our tax dollars. I have been told that one of the reasons they are holding their cards close their collective chest (chests?) is that they don’t want anyone to feel like their opinion has already been expressed and pass the opportunity. I get that; however I am of the opinion that if something were put into the public sphere, it gives us a way to keep the conversations going amongst ourselves. Right now, this whole exercise is like a big giant vacuum sucking up all our perspectives into a black box.
Just curious, if we did Houlihans on Thursday once a month or so, is there anyone who cannot make Thursday? Just curious.
We also segued into “Letters to the Editor”, and I was encouraged to write a letter about our Houlihans gatherings. That sounds like a good idea; my original letter was more along the lines of “you readers need to hold your elected officials accountable”. The one person I had look it over so far thinks I am being too soft. 🙂 But I am thinking about changing part of it to include a paragraph about Houlihans and what Chuck Jackson and I are trying to do with our open forums. As an action item from Thursday, I told Laura to brainstorm a list of topics so that we can have a “team” of letter writers hit common themes. Pattsi reminded me to open this up to you all (*smack forehead* of course, great idea!), so you all now have homework to do. 🙂 What topics should we cover of the next 4 months, and when will you write your letter?
The newly dedicated Novak Academy was overflowing last night; it was an awesome show of support for both Greg Novak and the Board Members (there was also an official “Thank you Board Members” time). I had never been in that building before (previously the “Academic Academy”, directly west of Stratton); it is a rather small building with about 7 or 8 rooms that looks like it can hold about 30 students or so plus staff. Several folks spoke about the significant influence of Greg Novak; I had a hard time hearing because I was with many others out in the hallway. With Greg’s history as a librarian, there was a large basket full of books demonstrating how the somewhat lackluster library was being multiplied and supplemented with more quantity and quality.
At the ceremony, they also mentioned the Clorox Bright School grant:
I personally thanked and chatted with several board members; they are all very excited about what is going on. Kristine Chalifoux spoke to me about the upcoming board elections, which leads me to my next topic.
When I stop by the Mellon Building later this evening, I intend to ask how many board candidate packets have been picked up. Meg reported in the NG a while ago that only two had been signed out for – I am curious if any one else has decided to take the plunge. 🙂 To recap, anyone interested in running for a position:
- Pick up candidate packet at the Mellon Center; there are two packets to choose from, one for the 2-year term and another for the 4-year term
- Fill out a statement of Candidacy (this might happen when you pick up the packet – maybe?)
- Get 50* registered voters to sign your petition (but don’t try to circulate on the University campus *grin*)
- Get the petition notarized
- Get a “Statement of Economic Interest ” from County Clerk Gordy Hulten
- Submit petition by Monday, December 24th (yes, someone will actually be at the Mellon Center on Christmas Eve!)
* From the 2013 Candidate Guide, page 45:
Petition must be signed by at least 50 qualified voters or 10% of the voters, whichever is less, residing within the district.
And why am I heading to the Mellon Center later this afternoon? Unit 4 is kicking off their “Parent Advocacy Committee.” I have read a bit of the materials they have prepared for this committee and I like what I see. Except, like most other Unit 4 committees, I am quite concerned about the ratio of Unit 4 staff vs parents/community members. We will see how this evening’s meeting goes – I will report back here (probably a new post) later tonight or tomorrow. Having said that, I am rather excited about the prospect of Advocacy (as mentioned several times on this blog). It is my hope that this committee takes on some of the roles of ombudsman and focuses on going to parents and community members and listening to them. That will be my agenda.
I have asked to share the draft documents, but I have been asked to wait until after the meeting. I’ll upload them when I get a chance.