Questions posed to the school board about the April 13th board meeting

Here is a small list of questions I emailed to the board in regards to the April 13th board meeting. I also included newly elected board members, who will be sworn in next month.

I was looking over the April 13th BOE meeting agenda, and wished to find more information when you have an opportunity.

  1. Under “Recognitions”, there is a fascinating mention of how 24 HS students participated in a Khan Academy course, and how Mr. Jim Linnenburger will receive $100 per student. Were all 24 students participating in the Google/DonorsChoose program (ie, “traditionally underrepresented”)? Did students participate while at school, or was this done outside school hours? Please note, I personally think this is a very good thing, as rudiementary skills in javascript are extremely helpful in the current software development job market, and outlets like Codeacademy and Khan Academy have made these skills very accessible. I can easily see hundreds of additional students taking advantage of these resources.
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  2. Under “Reports: New Business”, line item A (“DLR innovation challenge”) briefly mentions the outstanding success of four HS students and a teacher mentor. Will the team’s innovative solution (sustainable vertical farming) be shared in detail at Monday’s meeting? Will there be materials online that others can read about? And more importantly, can any of those ideas be implemented here in Champaign? I would love to see more students tackling broad problems and applying solutions at a local level. 🙂
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  3. Line item B (“Juvenile Delinquency prevention” with IL State AG Julia Rietz) mentions a report; can that report be shared online? I am sincerely hoping that Ms. Rietz will focus her report on the work of restorative justice, as highlighted in the News-Gazette a couple weeks ago.
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  4. Action Agenda line item B (Administration Compensation): the summary says “A list of eligible administrators is attached”, yet there is no document attached in boarddocs available to the public. Please attach said list to the agenda and/or make available online. Personally, I fail to see why administrative salary percentage increases need to mirror teacher percentage increases; the justification about remaining “regionally competitive” is not enough for me.
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  5. Consent Agenda line item J (HLS Implementations): I know Consent Agenda items are typically discussed under “New Business” at earlier board meetings, but I was unable to find where this one was discussed when I looked at all board meetings in 2015. I see the bid on the Unit 4 website, but I do not see where the details are. What is being done for $424,000? Furthermore, I know the HLS reports in the past have detailed many millions of dollars worth of needed work (prioritized into three categories of urgency). I assume the $424k takes care of the most important items. Does it address all the Category A items?
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  6. Lastly, Consent Agenda line item M (Renewal of Superintendent’s contract): May we please see the current contract, and for how long the renewal will be for (starting when, ending when)? The summary on boarddocs is completely and utterly blank.
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5 Responses to “Questions posed to the school board about the April 13th board meeting”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    Well that was embarrassing – typo in the title of the post. Ouch.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    Responses from Dr. Wiegand

    1. Laura Taylor will provide additional information regarding this.

    2. At the meeting tonight there will be additional details shared and hopefully the discussion will include possible application of the solutions at a local level. [ note from Charles: confirmed, although the audio is exceptionally difficult to follow; I am hoping that those present will have more to share ]

    3. Late on Friday afternoon, Julia’s office contacted us and needed to reschedule. This item will be pulled and placed on a future agenda.

    4. The list of personnel and salaries will be provided and posted as we have done in previous years. Ken can provide the timeline for this if needed.

    5. I will have Matt follow-up regarding this.

    6. [ partial response ] I have asked that this item be removed from the agenda and moved to April 27th.

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    From Matt Foster in regards to #5:
    “The Health Life Safety work that was bid out takes care of the A Items as you noted in your original question. The A items that can better be taken care of by people outside of our O/M Department will be covered by this contract. Many A items were taken care of by our staff. The type of items I am referring to would be replacing exit signs, door alignment correction, window repairs, and moving items that are blocking areas of egress, etc. Last year BLDD Architects, who completed the survey for the District, anticipated the work to cost around $419,000 for the A items and we received bids in this price range.”

  4. charlesdschultz Says:

    Follow-up on two other items:

    1) During public comment, a number of parents, students, staff and admin gave testimony to the positive effects of something called “Freedom Schools”, an afterschool program funded by the Teen REACH grant out of the Department of Healthcare Services, and related to “sankofa”. I will be meeting with some of the administrators and observing the program; from what I have learned so far, the program sounds very impressive. However, the entire program abruptly lost its funding on April 3rd due to the onslaught of cut social programs in Rauner’s proposed budget.

    2) Also on Monday night, Cenergistic pitched a sale to the board, and Board President Laurie Bonnett drilled them with questions of fee schedules, expected returns, and basically all the nitty-gritty questions of how something that sounds to good to be true actually works. To put the icing on the cake, she wisely deferred the issue until the new board can take a look at it.

  5. charlesdschultz Says:

    Mr. Linnenburger responded to #1:

    “No, not all 24 students who completed the requirements were “traditionally underrepresented”. Of the 24 students, 8 of them were considered in the category (African American, Hispanic or female). The JavaScript curriculum is part of the Introduction to Modern Computing course, so most of the students were able to complete most of the requirements for this during class time. The Centennial High School Computer Science club also had several people complete the course (included in the 24). These students did the entire JavaScript course outside of school on their own time.”


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