Feb 25th Board Meeting

First, an announcement. Unit 4 is urging parents to take a survey from the ISBE that basically asks parents how welcome they feel at the school. I am curious if paper copies are being circulated. It’s a relatively painless and short survey:

https://illinois.5-essentials.org/2012/

And then the Board Meeting this coming Monday. It’s a Special Board meeting, which means there are more opportunities for comments. I am unable to go, but I encourage you to attend and ask some questions. Because questions need to be asked.

“Opinion Research”

First up is Paul Fallon (Fallon Research) in association with DeJong-Richter. In the BoardDocs agenda, the blurb only states that Mr. Fallon will be talking about the two 90-minute focus groups. However, I cannot see how he can completely skip the 400-person phone survey they did as well, which was the whole point of the focus group. I still very much dislike how the raw data is being held until it can be provided in all the glory of the “historical context”. I didn’t like how that went down the High School Siting options presented at the Community Discussions. The really major bad part of it is that folks will not have time to digest the data and formulate questions while the expert is standing right there. Yes, we can look at the summary reports we have now, and we can ask questions based on that, but the questions most pressing on my mind are answered by the raw data that I cannot see. For example:

how many of the 216 people who responded favorably to 19A make up the 170 people who said they were less likely to vote for it in question 19B?

We cannot correlate 19A to 19B at all. We have to wait for the “big reveal”, and by that time I fear it will be too late to ask further questions. Hopefully Mr. Fallon will answer this question (and the related one for question 20) and any others the community has been asking. Lastly, I am still very concerned that the “research” really only touched some 430 people – that is less than 1% of the voting population. Not a good sample size, imo.

“Community Collaborations”

Marc Changnon has the pleasant task (I mean that sincerely) of reporting on three outstanding “Community Collaborations”. I am not quite as familiar with the “Excel in College” program (which appears to have a $10,000 yearly budget), but the other two programs have been reported by Meg Dickinson and talked about at prior board meetings; eToys at Jefferson and the “Young Entrepreneurship Program.” I like what these programs are doing.

“Professional Evaluation Plan”

This one is interesting on several fronts: 1) it seems we have been lacking a good teacher evaluation system for a long time, 2) the software is a bit expensive for my tastes (if it costs more to maintain than a car, I have deep concerns), 3) this is going to be a big change for teachers, and 4) a couple other miscellaneous things like the strange page number references.. The topic is introduced by Ken Kleber, with further support from CFT President Cathy Mannen and Facilitator Dr. Pam Rosa, a member of the Consortium for Educational Change, which I had never heard of before.

First, the money. According to the BoardDocs blurb:

This professional development and software will be paid for with existing District funds.  The District spent $19,830 with CEC this school year.  Costs for next year and beyond have not yet been determined due to ongoing discussions about staff needs.  The cost for the software is $15,000 for initial setup and professional development plus a one year District-wide license and technical support.  There will be a yearly subscription fee of $10,000 in subsequent years.

It’s cool that Unit 4 can pay for this with existing funds, but…… Note that due to the limits that were raised last year, the district is not required to seek Board approval for this item. To wit, this is filed under “Information” and no action (by the board) is to be taken. But WOW, $15k up front for this software, on top of the $20k we already spent? What does it really do? And the $10k on-going fees….. someone is making good money on this. I also find it a little odd that this “Teacher Evaluation Committee” was not included on the list of committees I received in January.

What do teachers really think of this endeavor? Is this a “good thing”? Assuming that in every circle there is a range of perceptions and subjective opinions from “terrible, horrible, no good, bad” all the way to “love it!!”, I am curious what the teachers consider to be the pros and cons of this system.

On top of that, who exactly does the evaluating? For me, it is important to include the students and the parents in that process. The simple presentation on BoardDocs does not hint at this necessary ingredient; it does make mention to some nebulous document(s) that we cannot yet see. I went looking on the CEC website and found this “Continuous Process” page which looks promising – among other goals listed:

  • How to develop two-way communication systems to share information and ideas
  • How to develop two-way collaboration systems to be certain stakeholders have voice into the decision-making process

However I have to admit, the jargon-laden vocabulary is a bit off-putting for me; I hear these buzzwords (and buzzphrases) frequently in my own day job and for the most part, its just a bunch of huff and puff.

Wireless proposal

On the one hand, I am glad to see Unit 4 moving forward with “modern” technology. On the other hand, $768 thousand dollars for wireless?!? Holy Smokes! And while we are keeping the money in Illinois, we are still going out of town (Entre is in Normal). It blows my mind that we have a friggin’ University in our backyard, the home of some super sharp network folks like Charlie Kline and Debbie Fligor, not to mention the rest of CITES and NCSA, but for some odd reason we seem to never tap those resources. We have several local technology firms that for some reason, never seem to win any of the technology bids. Why is that? What is wrong with this picture? Color me confused.

Misc

The last action agenda item is “Employment Action on a Tenured Teacher”. The lack of any other explanation just makes me raise my eyebrows. *grin*

10-Year Health Life Safety report

To kick off the Consent Agenda, it looks like we are awarding  $82,000 contract to BLDD to examine our buildings for some kind of 10-year forecast. I get that the State mandates this so we have to do it. But we are being charged to have Garden Hills, Robeson and Westview evaluated even though architects and engineers are already and currently renovating said schools?? What? Did I miss something? Also, as I reflect, if the State requires this 10-year HLS, where are the past reports? BLDD states in their proposal that they can use the previous report. So it must exist. How many years have we been doing this? Ironic that the very next line item is a Change Order for Westview.

Back in 2003, BLDD said we had $200+ million of “catch up” work to do. This gave rise to the current trend in fixing up our buildings, the 1% sales tax and the working cash bonds. I wonder what they will find this time. 🙂

Human Resource Changes

I usually don’t pay much attention to these reports because, well, there simply is not much information in the BoardDocs at all. However, this chart made me think “You know, this is a test to see who is actually looking at these things; I going to intentionally put an error in this chart and see who catches it”:

ADMIN

DSP

CERTIFIED

CLASSIFIED

TOTAL

Leaves of Absence

0

0

1

0

1

Resignations

0

0

0

0

0

Resignations – Differentials

0

0

0

0

0

Terminations

0

0

0

0

0

Reassignments

0

0

0

0

0

RIF/Rehire

0

0

0

0

0

Appointments

0

0

0

0

0

Appointments/Differentials

0

0

0

0

0

TOTALS

0

0

1

1

2

Can you spot the error? =)

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3 Responses to “Feb 25th Board Meeting”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    Email sent to the Board, Dr. Wiegand and Stephanie Stuart

    Good morning,

    In looking over the documents posted on BoardDocs, I have several questions about items that will be presented at the Feb 25th board meeting. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the meeting, but I will record it and watch it afterwards.

    For Paul Fallon: how many of the 216 people who responded favorably to 19A make up the 170 people who said they were less likely to vote for it in question 19B? Similar question for question 20A and 20B.
    In regards for the Professional Evaluation plan
    How long as the Teacher Evaluation Committee been in place?
    Where are the meeting minutes?
    Does the board agree with premises put forth by the Consortium for Educational Change?
    The document on BoardDocs makes reference to at least one other document by page number (not by name). Is that document available for the public?
    The district is presenting this to the board as “informational”, meaning the board will not vote on whether to approve the almost $20k already spent, nor the $15k to purchase the software or the $10k/year on-going costs. Are you ok with that? What will the software accomplish, and is it really worth that much?
    What do the teachers think of this plan?

    In terms of the $768k wireless proposal, I am curious to know what the University said when they were approached in collaborating on the wireless project. How many local (within the boundaries of the school district) technology companies submitted a proposal for this work? What did Volo, who specializes in wireless technology and is heavily involved in the community, have to say?
    In terms of the 10-year HLS, why is BLDD being contracted to evaluate schools that have recently or are currently being renovated (ie, Robeson, Garden Hills, Westivew)? I realize the State mandates the 10-year HLS, but the work on these schools is so fresh one would think the people who worked on them (and even BLDD for that matter) would already know the evaluation.
    I know BLDD did a similar report back in 2002 or 2003. Can that report be made available? What other 10-year HLS reports have been done?

    Thank you for your time and attention. I hope most, if not all, these questions can be answered on or before Feb 25th.

    May each of you have a most pleasant weekend and enjoy the warming weather.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    Stig (Board President) responded and said to ask again after the Monday night board meeting if my questions are not answered.

  3. Answering questions about the Feb 25th Special Board Meeting | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] the weekend, I posted a series of questions about the Feb 25th BOE meeting (tonight). Dr. Wiegand was kind enough to respond (and with comprehensive answers at that) and has […]


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