June 3rd "special" board retreat

The June 3rd board meeting has been posted on BoardDocs. The agenda is extremely slim so I asked for some clarifying details:

I see that the agenda for the June 3rd retreat has been posted. The agenda is rather bare, showing only two items for Open Session (other than comments), both of which are HR Ken Kleber items. But no extra information is provided whatsoever. I am curious, what is the Administrative appointment and the reclassification?
Also, from talking to Board Members who have attended “retreats” in the past, I am aware that usually a lot of awesome things happen and/or are discussed at retreats. Is the bulk of the June 3rd meeting going to be held in closed (executive) session? If so, why? If not, I am curious what else is being planned?
Also, I noted that various reasons for Executive Session are being highlighted on BoardDocs – please pass along my thanks to whomever made that decision, I appreciate it.

 

Dr. Wiegand responded:

The administrative appointments will be for the Interim Principal at Garden Hills and the Administrator for the Alternative to Suspension Program.

The retreat on Monday will be facilitated by the Illinois Association of School Board representative, Patrick Rice.  Since it involves self-evaluation it takes place in Executive Session.  I do plan on holding on a Board/Admin Retreat later in June (date not yet secured) similar to what we did in the past, and this will be in open session to discuss goals for the 13-14 school year, along with our work on how to become a more student and family centered organization.

 

Having been to a a couple of the board retreats (the public ones), I encourage the public to pay attention and perhaps even participate if possible.

 

As to the Garden Hills Interim Principal, I have heard from a couple parents and I encourage them (you) to make your comments public as you see fit.

News-Gazette article about the Board

re: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2013-05-31/board-officers-vote-may-have-had-outside-influence.html

Also, the results of the FOIA: http://www.news-gazette.com/sites/all/files/pdf/2013/05/30/FOIA_request.pdf

Text searchable version (has errors due to conversion): https://thecitizen4blog.wordpress.com/misc/may-31st-ng-foia-request-pdf-converted-to-text/

This is one of the rumors I hinted at earlier. I have a number of issues with this, but I fear I have not fully gelled my thoughts coherently, yet. So, in a sense, right now I am merely hopping on the news bandwagon since a number of readers already alerted me to the article – figure I might as well at least say something about it.

From my own personal conversations with those involved, I know there is more going on than what is being said publicly. What I struggle with is “what is really important here?” I mean, I can see folks getting all worked up about “he said she said” kinda thing. But what do we want to fall out from this? Of course, everyone is going to always be wondering who this mystery 3rd party is, what their motives are, etc etc. Does it really matter? Does it really have to be a big bad secret? What about all this talk of transparency? Or is transparency only to be applied when conveinent?

I don’t know all the answers. I am still chewing on this myself.

Read the emails. Form your own opinion.

PS – I am going to convert the FOIA pdf to searchable text. (now done)

Why I invest so much of my energy in Unit 4

prop_tax

 

 

Short and sweet. I would be curious what the chart would look like for those that live in Champaign proper. Bondville?

8th grade promotion

I had the opportunity attend 8th grade promotion at Jefferson this morning. While the keynote speaker from Leaders for Life was good (“If you don’t see before you see, you won’t see” *grin*), what I was most impressed with was the sheer number of family and friends (way more than the number of tickets handed out). I don’t know how many people can fit into the gym (much less what it is rated for), but we totally packed it (overflowing, even). Wow! Keep in mind this is 8:30 to 9:40 on a Friday morning. When I arrived at 8:05am, the line was already down the sidewalk outside the building. This is serious stuff. The parents really consider this an important event; grandparents flew in, families dressed in their Sunday best, balloons, flowers…. absolutely amazing show of solidarity and support for these kids. I also saw a lot of Unit 4 folks I know; secretarial staff, assistant superintendent, and I think Lanesskog’s daughter was in there as well. This reminded me that we are all in this together.

I had a mischievous thought. What if parents demonstrated that passion more frequently? At first I thought of PTAs, but our PTAs have become rather dry. But what if….. what if some gathering of teachers and parents could entice such large crowds and such strong support? To give up an hour on a weekday morning?

Another interesting observation I had; a number of African-American parents were loudly clapping and yelling support for various children even though the Interim Principal encouraged parents to wait until the end. One white father yelled support for his child. This is very similar to what I observe about cultural churches; black churches tend to be a lot more energetic and participatory, whereas white churches are very much “follow the program, be respectful and somber.” Personally, even though I am white and grew up in a white church, I much prefer the former. *grin* Why do I point this out? We all have different backgrounds, different ways of showing respect and support. I don’t know if one way is “better” than another. But I personally like the inherent richness of variety. I also do not subscribe to following all the rules “just because”. Some rules are good, some are bad, and we have to have a way to figure that out for ourselves. For me, it was encouraging, amusing and celebratory to hear and see parents show such vocal for their children. It filled me with good feelings. And I hate traditional ceremonies because they are way too stuffy for me.

FOIAs: another step of accontabiliity and transparency

I have heard some rumors of FOIA activity in regards to the school district. Instead of propagating rumors, I am going to see what comes out in the public sphere. I have also asked 1) if the school district is currently publishing all FOIA responses, and 2) if not, will they consider it. I have since learned the answer to the first question is no – I am now waiting on the second question.

The University has a very nice FOIA page (a whole subdomain dedicated to FOIA):

http://www.foia.uillinois.edu/cms/one.aspx?portalId=1017570&pageId=1083933

I really love how they set the tone:

“The goal of the FOIA request log is transparency for the public and increased understanding of the FOIA process and timelines.”

The University FOIA homepage says:

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides public access to government documents and records. The new Illinois FOIA notes that it is “the public policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials and public employees consistent with the terms of this Act. Such access is necessary to enable the people to fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgments and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest.”

That last sentence is a kicker – wow. That’s right, you and I have a duty, and it is to talk about these public issues, make informed decisions and monitor government to make sure they are doing what we want them to do. Now how often does that actually happen?

So my question to you – in the grand scheme of things, how important is a FOIA index? Something I should push hard for? Or just send occasional requests? Surely there are “big issues” on the plate, and I am not sure this is one of them. However, from my point of view, it seems like low-hanging fruit that would be easy to knock out without much overhead at all.

Financial accountability: one small step

Last week I was browsing for monies being spent on the “Educational Consultant”; the school district has been doing a good job of posting electronic check registers, but unfortunately, they were not organized at all, and only listed from respective regular board meeting agendas. So last Friday I asked for an index on all check registers, and this morning I was pleasantly surprised that they delivered one:

http://www.champaignschools.org/finance-registers.html

 

Woot!

 

Thanks to Stephanie Stuart and David Hohman.

Cliff notes from the May 13 board meeting

As with my previous cliff notes, I apologize for the raw nature, and again, all times listed are elapsed video times.

boe May 13, 2013

Art Recognitions: 00:00 – 15:36
Service Awards: 15:37 – 27:53

public comment – 28:30
Chuck Jackson
Spoke about the DeJong-Richter Recommendations report. “What do we need and why do we need it?” There is a lot of information we do not have. Need more feedback on exactly what the weakness of each site are and why they are weaknesses. Be creative.
Recognitions: 32:19 – 38:29

38:28: Cheryl Camacho, Asia Fuller-Hamilton and Janelle Weinzierl going to Harvard for the summer:
http://www.gse.harvard.edu/ppe/programs/prek-12/portfolio/stl.html
Communcations 38:45
CFT (Cathy Mannen): welcome to new board members. Common goal to teach students.

Board members:
Stig: 40:20: important things going on. Facilities – very critical. Gotta move, waiting detracts from educational opportunities. Focus on best interests of school district, teachers and especially students.
Scott MacAdam: 42:07: mandatory board training. Enjoyed it
Kristine: 43:02: first year all the middle schools doing track and field, all three schools sending kids to state. Big kudos.
Ileana: 44:46: recognition from one of her schools, PBIS assembly, top scorers in Mathematics. Shout out to Robeson.
Jamar: 46:28: Marc Changnon taking all (45) students through a career program; graduation ceremony at the CPL, 30 grads. Shout out to Central. Shout out to 1-to-1 mentoring programs. Summarized involvement at Kenwood, including his adopted 5th grade class.
Laurie: 51:19: lots of diversity, learning the ropes.

52:47 Orlando – speaking about the Student Code of conduct.

54:06 Laura Taylor – High school graduation dates; can’t use Assembly Hall next year.

57:30 Future Facilities
Dr. Wiegand invokes a quote from “Great Schools Together”. Read the rest of this entry »