June 10th Regular BOE Meeting agenda available

I wish I could deep-link the agenda, but for the next week or two, it should be at the top of the list:

http://www.boarddocs.com/il/champil/Board.nsf/public

 

Aside from the pre-weekend flurry of news about Stig’s resignation, it looks like it will be a full meeting. I am sure Executive Session will continue to be interesting. *grin*

The public meeting kicks off with an Academic Spotlight of the Young Entrepreneur Program followed by a series of recognitions. I see that in the “Upcoming Events” the June Board Retreat is not listed, so perhaps the details have not yet been hashed out. I hope they still have one.

Under “New Business”, Dr. Wiegand kicks off with a presentation about CUSF (not online as of this writing). Next up Maria Alanis is posing an informational item that will become an action item at a future meeting; a new International Academy. It is not clear exactly how much this will cost as part of the funds are coming from a Title III grant. Apparently, the Board approved all the positions back in March. That seems really hard for me to follow – we approved the positions before the Academy was even approved? Maybe I am just confused. The next four items are all Policy changes being introduce by the school attorney Tom Lockman (movable soccer goal, education of homeless children, student abassador program, and using district networks/social media).

 

Nine items are listed under “Action Agenda” with quite a variety, most of which have attached documentation. One thing stuck out to me – we are hiring a consultant firm at a price of $60,000 to help with the Business Office. Since the word “transition” is used, this is to help the new Business Director Matt Foster dive in? That just seemed a bit odd to me. We are also leasing (to own?) two used busses for roughly $180,000 (to be paid over 5 years). And lastly, board appointments to various committees. I strongly advise the Board to consider transitioning this committees to Board Committees, as opposed to Superintendent Committees. Board Committees are a lot more formal and must report back to the board. Superintendent committees report to the Superintendent and there is a significant lack of public visibility on these committees as they exist today.

 

The “Consent Agenda” is packed with 18 items; a lot of change orders for the schools that are currently being renovated, a purchase order for more busses, HR changes, a “Rising Star Action Plan” (which I want to read more about), a Policy change and other sundry items.

 

Tons of stuff to read. Board members have their work cut out for weekend reading and preparing to meet on Monday. We the public have our own work cut out for us. This is our school district – it is our job to hold our school board members accountable. Ideally, this is a very good thing. *grin* But it takes the work of informing the public and taking the time to digest all this information.

List of Unit 4 Committees

committee_list Stephanie Stuart provided a final list of all Unit 4 Committees – the PDF to the left lists the Administrator, Committee Name, Purpose, schedule and location.

Stephanie also tells me that the Promises Made Promises Kept (PMPK) website is being updated this week. Along with Dr. Wiegand’s comment that the district is taking a serious look at transparency and making the financial information easier to understand, I am actually looking forward to the fruits of their labor. 🙂

Partial list of Unit 4 Committees

I asked for a listing of all committees and tasks forces that Unit 4 and the U4 Board are involved in, their contacts and mission statements/purpose. I received a listing of a lot of committees, but not a comprehensive listing (eg, nothing for Promises Made, Promises Kept (PMPK) nor the Futures Facilities Steering Team, and I don’t see the Board Members listed at all).

 

But at least this is a start. I have asked for more information so we will see what happens with that.

Here is the document:

FINAL District Committees

 

After the full listing, my next goal is to ask to get these all online or more visible in some way. My reason for pushing for more visibility is twofold:

  1. I fully believe we need to engage in more accountability (at all levels of government, but in this context we are talking about schools)
  2. I believe accountability leads to participation and active involvemnet and higher levels of trust

 

I grant that this is a slow process and we cannot expect dramatic changes overnight. Having said that, Dr. Wiegand has already stated multiple times her desire to increase transparency (her words), so I like the direction they are heading in.

Updates from Stephanie Stuart in regards to Unit 4 and the PE firm

Stephanie Stuart, the Unit 4 Community Relations Coordinator, delivered a bunch of answers and responses to various questions I had. She has given me permission to post the responses “as is” and also to pass along an invitation to contact her with any further questions (stuartst@champaignschools.org or 217-531-0252). As such, I will forward questions from this blog as warranted, but feel free to contact her directly.

 

High School Retentions

First up, I asked about High School retention rates (ie, reclassification) as a follow-up to Meg’s article earlier this month. I asked why there is a special push in the first place when this should be bread & butter for any high school (right?). I pondered how social promotion played into this and what other ramifications are at play. Stephanie responded with:

“I have attached a document that will give you some statistics on the percentage of students who did not advance to the next grade over the past few school years. Admittedly, this is a topic that is quite involved and Dr. Wiegand let me know she’s happy for you to come in and speak with her, and perhaps the executive team, if you would like. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions!”

I am glad the numbers decrease significantly for 10th and 11th grade. I am however extremely concerned about the obvious over-representation of A.A. (African Americans). Something isn’t working out well. What exactly is the issue, and more importantly, how can we Read the rest of this entry »