Notes from the April 8th BOE Meeting

Stig opened the meeting to give special mention of Dave Tomlinson’s last day on the Board, and to open the floor for Board comments praising Dave for all his work over the past few years. Stig honored Dave with a plaque, after which Dave shared how he feels best about advocating for teachers.

No public comments.

Board member comments
Tomlinson: talked highly of the early childhood center, good news about not RIFfing anyone. (note: RIF = Reduction in Force, a practice of letting staff go with the hopeful promise of being hired again)
Jamar: good stuff at college and career center, good “state of the district” address at Carrie Busey, good feelings all around at address; talked about how Dr. Wiegand met all her goals and is changing the perception.
Chalifoux: go vote tomorrow
Van Ness: one positive and one negative. positive = “Gold card” thing, college and career center. Negative = some schools still have no Proximity A – 1) either get rid of Proximity or 2) give every child Proximity A, the 1.5 mile thingy is IRRELEVANT (his emphasis).
Chalifoux: “Gold card” thing is good; asked about doing a REALTORS brunch. Wiegand responds that we are doing them, and in fact one is scheduled for May (if I heard correctly).
Stig: acknowledges present candidates again.
Upcoming events (among the many events, I focused on one)
May 6th, special board meeting to swear in new board members

Item D moved up to the front.

Future facilities presentation:
Steering Team Co-Chair Bruce Knight started; lots of background provided; enrollment projections need to be looked at annually.  I ask (and have asked previously) “who is going to do that?” More on this in just a little bit. Most dense population around Garden Hills. Population shift moving north and east.

In discussing the “opinion polling” by Fallon, Bruce Knight says a majority of they “yes” votes came from low-propensity voters. So his solution is to get more people to vote. I wonder about that; to me, it essential to make sure folks are first educated properly about the issues (and candidates where relevant). In addition to the above, the majority of “yes” votes came from the younger generation, while the majority of “no” votes came from those who are older. Are the older folks just stodgy? Are the younger folks just naive? We cannot really assume anything – we just don’t know.

Given all the work that must be done for Central, how practical/feasible/expensive is it to put Edison in there?

Board Member and Steering Team Co-Chair Kristine Chalifoux picked up the second half of the presentation. We will be out of space in middle schools by 2017 (according to projections). The cost to update Edison is almost the same cost as building a new Edison. That is hard to believe. If this is true, then it would follow that renovating Central would also be almost as expensive as building a new Edison. Right?

She also mentioned that the community wants DR. Howard to stay where it is. Need more elementary school space by 2016. Current plan is to use the Kirby Ave building. Even with that, will still need another school by 2022. Using a “conservative” growth rate.

Kristine says that adding a k-8 does not give us enough to substitute a middle school. However, following-up with Stephanie via twitter, this obviously depends on the size of the k-8. It seems to me a 4-strand k-8 would in fact substitute a middle school.

Dejong-Richter’s report to be delivered to Wiegand in the next week or two.

Jamar asks why Bruce specified this as a “scientific survey”; Bruce’s answer is a bit shaky in my opinion. He also asks what is the next step, what is the plan moving forward. The plan is for DeJong to deliver the report to Wiegand and for Wiegand to present to the Board in May.

Van Ness: Band space is also sorely lacking (not just athletics). Questions about growth – Van Ness assumed south and west. Bruce qualifies that the “growth” is of the student population only. Not taking into account new houses and births?

Tomlinson: from board retreat at Parkland (I blogged about it, don’t recalled Trentz). “Make a decision!” quoting whom I thought he said was Bill Trentz, who sits on the Steering Team. “Community needs to swallow the fact that Central is not central”. Also talks about Proximity A; might need to build a school on the fringes. He make the implication that it is not “fair” to have families in the middle of town that have 6 “Proximity A” schools, but some out on the perimeter that have no Proximity A, Good points. He challenges to the board to buy land for Central (the only promise from PMPK not yet met). We can’t wait. Looking back over my notes from the 2012 board retreat, I see that Sue Grey said the same thing.

“We are no longer in bubble time, folks”; another high incoming kindergarten class expected.

Arlene: she used to keep track of live birth data herself. But nobody since has been (past 8 years). Who is going to do that? She followed new development and scraped data from various planning departments. How is it possible that we were surprised by so many incoming students? We failed to be prepared. The district has do planning. (Kristine mentioned this at the 2012 board retreat as well) We have to take advantage of the data we have and not sit on our asses. (my wording, not exactly hers :)). Arlene urges the board …. (I lost what she actually urged the board to do). Talks about the PMPK committee and how they have been “good”. The board needs to do what they said they would do.

STIG: why what how.
Why: enrollment going up, building don’t meet needs, community is saying “do something”
The time is now; give us an option and let’s run with it.
Go in with eyes wide open, acknowledge deficiencies.
We need to get going now. “Better schools make better communities”

Next agenda item
Lockman presents policy change for booster organizations. Mandatory parent participation; policy says participation not mandatory but rather optional and encouraged.
Kristine asked a question which I could not understand, and then lots of people talked at once and said they are already there. I don’t know what they are talking about, Dr. Wiegand will review.

Very hard to understand what Ileana said.

Arlene: mentions she helped write the booster policy. Mentions that a lot of policies need to be reviewed and updated. I would totally agree. 🙂

Interesting discussion about how it is good that Tommy is going after this, and how other similar areas of the policy need some work as well. Curious why this is a big deal (I simply do not understand).
Orlando Thomas – TALP

Temporary Alternative Learning Placement (TALP)

Two curricula in place, academic and social.
Discipline Equity Committee; they are working on revising policy. I was surprised to learn that some committees actually have revising policy as part of their goal in such an explicit way.

“unwarranted racial disparities as it relates to after school suspensions”
“facilitating and getting the voice of our students”. Orlando talked to 25 students. asked some good questions (ie, “What do you need in order to be successful?”). Very interesting to hear how students responded.

Tomlinson: says that students who are suspended cannot (should not?) “choose” to serve a suspension out of school instead of in-school. Orlando says that he would hate for a two-day suspension to become 5 days.

Kristine: agrees that we need to keep kids in school. Focuses on making sure it is a punishment – it should not be fun. Hmm… Discussion on how to involve the student in “education” and not “free time” per se.

Jamar: asks how long the pilot will be. Wiegand says one year. However the document on BoardDocs says three years.
http://www.boarddocs.com/il/champil/Board.nsf/files/96H3676CB0DA/$file/Final%20Apr82013TALP%20ProposalAttachment.pdf. I am thinking this is just a minor point.
“Relationships!” Totally agree. If we catch them early, we might save half a million and avoid sending them to READY.

Dr. Taylor: talks about the importance of making sure the transition from “normal” (or home) school to the alternative environment is smooth. “we love you, you made a mistake, here’s what you need to do”. Need to make sure students are still learning. Maybe the teacher/assoc principal at the TALP is getting assignments from the home teacher asap.
Van Ness assumes most the students are secondary; Orlando suggests it is not.

Wrapping up

Expulsion hearing on a student to the READY program; passes 6-1 (Saveley abstains).

Meg Dickinson provides some other details in her article:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2013-04-08/school-board-hears-about-pilot-alternative-suspension.html

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3 Responses to “Notes from the April 8th BOE Meeting”

  1. Laura B. Says:

    Just FYI, band space at Central is *very* tight now and will be impossible without a giant shoehorn next year. Current enrollment in marching band is 150. It’s 180 for next year, according to what I hear from my daughter. She says that they could barely fit everybody in the band room this year. If you’d told me ten years ago that this would be a problem, I wouldn’t have believed you.

    As for the comment about Central not being central, fine. But there are other infill locations that could work equally well. I couldn’t make last Sunday’s charrette, but would be really interested in seeing what other alternatives were discussed there. Using greenfields out on the edge of town creates a lot of problems, all of which have been enumerated in other posts.

    As for the presentation by Orlando Thomas, it sounds like he asked some excellent questions. The example you gave above is one that the District needs to ask more. It seems to me that more often than not, they’re making assumptions about what students need to be successful without asking them what they need.

  2. Another look at the school board candidates | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] at the April 8th Board Meeting, Arlene Blank specifically said the board needs to do what the board said it would do. Admittedly, […]

  3. Another look at the school board candidates | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] at the April 8th Board Meeting, Arlene Blank specifically said the board needs to do what the board said it would do. Admittedly, […]


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