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 »

Notes from the April 22nd BOE Special Meeting

I took the time to watch the BOE meeting a little while ago and typed up some notes. Unfortunately, they are not yet formatted very well. Instead of delaying, I finally decided to just dump them here, and hope that readers will forgive the horrid formatting.

 

{the times listed below are elapsed times from the beginning of the video}

start at 5:02

spotlight on middleschool to highschool transitions: 10 minutes (music stops at 15:36 after all the credits roll *roll eyes*)
jamar brown – found it entertaining, found the whole thing very good, transitions are important

public comment:
laurie bonnett – only quotes from one vendor, are we reaching out and seeking participating from other vendors?

CFT:
Cathy mannen – thanks to the board for support of the early childhood center.

PTA Council:
Sheri Williamson – summer reading program, 300 books from UofI. Parent Resource Group.

Communications from board members:
Kristine – shout out about the amazing musicals past two weeks. Big praise for the stage design, acting, music, etc.
Van Ness – College Career Center; great facility, great idea. Shout out for the CUSF. Need to support them better.
Ileana – Make the College Career Center grow bigger – good stuff.
Brown – PSUs (?) at Novak, like a graduation thing. Lots of praise/congrats for many other events at other schools.
Stig – congrats to those who run board elections. Interesting thoughts about “supporting” more folks on future candidates, getting more folks to run.
Board retreat follow-up: how to make the school district a family-centered organization. hmm… not child-centered? 🙂

Asia Fuller-Hamilton & Joe Williams start with Transitions. jwtobe.org?? jw2b.org??
Jamar and Kristine mention how awesome this is. Kristine reiterates the pain/confusion of the first day. Mentions how awesome it would be for every freshman to have a mentor/guide. Joe says they are working on it.
Stig asks the same about middle school. He says why can’t we divulge as much information as possible BEFORE they come to school, and then handle the unknowns as they arise. A bit of discussion (even Wiegand intercedes); can the kids have the data before the first day of school? 🙂 Lots of great things are happening in pockets, working towards making those things consistent in general.

Elizabeth DeGruy (no presentation, just reporting).
Stig asks a lot of questions and makes comments. Very engaged. 🙂 Again, can parents have as much information as soon as possible? All about transistions. Importance of setting a first impression by making the first day in school a very positive one.
I think a question from the audience was fielded about “child time”? Yes, Sheri Williamson from the audience is given the floor. Awesome! 🙂

Tony and Cheryl are up at 1:05:40. Tony walks through the overview of the goals and “ideal reality”. Cheryl talks about the specific multiple recommendations. Elizabeth chimes in with SpecEd recommendations.
Stig asks how parents who are in these situations can reach out to a person (*not* a helpline). Maybe a FAQ?
Action Items:
Kleber announces the promotion of 3 assistant principals.
1:23:40
TALP – Orlando Thomas
Kristine wants to verify this is not fun, and that students don’t really have a choice once suspended.
student discipline procedure – lockman
confirming adoption for administrative reasons … ?? That’s not vague. 🙂

Kleber on adding an administrative position for overseeing the food department; one year appointment for a proof-of-concept.
Van Ness asks where the person will be housed. Kleber doesn’t really answer the question, saying they will be “everywhere.” Interesting that the Board is asked to approve the position even before the job description is finalized. Doesn’t that seem backwards?
Item A from Consent Agenda moved up – Champaign Telephone contract. curious, was this moved up in Executive session? Meg Dickinson mentioned that Phil Van Ness moved on it, but I did not witness it.
Brown asks, we will *never* bid out these jobs? Joe Davis assures the board that if they need to, they will. Who bids it out? “talk it out” with architects and superintendent.
Van Ness comes out and says he pulled it out of the Consent Agenda. Wants to make sure the board is putting things before the public. Likes that we are keeping this local.
Kristine mentions that consistency is very important.
Ileana: not exactly sure what she said, something about good for the community and taxpayers knowing.
Kristine, we don’t want everyone to know what the budget is….. interesting. In the context of bidding… they want contractors to bid competitively, not to the budget.

1:44:40 remaining items of the consent agenda

Answering questions about the Feb 25th Special Board Meeting

Over 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 given me permission to post her reply. The following has only been formatted so it looks better on this blog (a la “the following movie has been formatted to fit your screen”).


q 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.
a (from Paul Fallon) Judy, I will have to get that data file from my office, so I will try to send it to you tomorrow or Wednesday. Thanks, Paul
q How long as the Teacher Evaluation Committee been in place?
a The Committee was established at the end of last school year to address the need for a teacher evaluation system that would meet the requirements of PERA (Performance Evaluation Reform Act).  The committee began working this school year during first semester to collaboratively develop an evaluation document and process.  In previous years this was not done in a collaborative manner.  The Administration would develop a document and then present to the CFT for feedback. This is the first time a process was used that had both Administration and Teachers at the same starting point.
q Where are the meeting minutes?
a The work done during each session was documented by Pam Rosa from CEC.  Committee members were then charged with sharing this with the groups they represent to obtain feedback.  Since this work was ongoing and part of an internal committee, minutes were not posted publicly.
q Does the board agree with premises put forth by the Consortium for Educational Change? Read the rest of this entry »

Demographics and the Jan 14th Regular School Board Meeting

In preparation for the Jan 14th board meeting, Dejong has posted a couple PDFs about their work to date:

 

Source: DeJong-Richter

Source: DeJong-Richter

Historical and projected growth trends

GIS summary of current population densities

As such, Dejong will be presenting more details at the Jan 14th board meeting. In addition, a reminder that Scott Leopold has agreed to meet with us at Houlihans on TUESDAY (Jan 15th, 11:30) (not Wednesday). Sorry, Laura B, I know this doesn’t work for you.

The Jan 14th board meeting is going to be kinda wild. At 5:pm, the board will conduct interviews with a small subset of the 13 vacancy candidates in closed session, and it looks like the two newly minted board members will be sitting for their first board meeting. Looks like we have a number of recognitions again, mild policy change suggestions (nothing seemed outrageous to me *grin*), the DeJong presentation, new school attorney (no details), a new emotional disabilities self-contained program, a Change Authorization for the Kenwood project, a request to renew board representation on a list of 12 committees (including the heretofore unmentioned Choice Committee), and a bunch of consent agenda items mostly made up of more money being requested to fix things. The whole thing with fixing the Mellon Center entrance has me confused – it is way overdue, and now I get the impression it is over budget (unconfirmed)? What happened? Also, the changes for Westview say that there is a “contingency” budget – what is that?

In some ways, I apologize for questioning relatively small expenses, but I firmly believe that each of us taxpayers (and by “taxpayers”, I very much mean district employees and board members as well) have the obligation to scrutinize where our money goes. Having said that, I see that there is a “treasurers report” that lists recent expenses in the form of a check register, and monies for attorneys (a majority of which goes to Flynn, Palmer and Tague for “Real Estate Matters”, whatever the heck that is) and investments; I heard a rumor that Dr. Wiegand and Dr. Joe Davis are working on a way to make financial information more accessible (ie, understandable) to the common man, but not sure if we will see that on Monday or not.

Thoughts this week about the school board

Walking in reverse direction down the path of my thoughts of the school board this past week:

Who are we?

I subscribe to a feed of the Wake County School District blog, and just this morning is a post about the new school board chairman of the Wake County school district (which, by the way, is frickin’ HUGE!). What is fascinating about his “acceptance speech” is that he casts an identity for the school board that unites it with the community; he readily acknowledges the rocky road they have been through (you think Champaign has an issue with Schools of Choice? Ha!) and the challenges going forward.

“We the Wake County Board of Education will provide the kind of exemplary leadership that is expected of us by this community, and I intend to lead us in that direction. I ask my colleagues around this table to join me in this commitment and this effort for we are Wake County.”

2013 Board Candidate John Williams, III

I am going to be reaching out to candidates as I find out who they are. Last night I had a great facebook dialog (be sure to click the tiny “See More”) with Mr. Williams. I am impressed by his convictions and desire to tackle some big issues. Better yet, not just desires but ideas on how to make them come to fruition. I asked him further about two points (getting the community to show up at meetings and pedagogy); he responded to the first by admitting there is a lack of community participation that is not solved by free food, the need to build relationships and the need for more open communication; to the second he agreed there is no “one size fits all” and very much wants to move away from lecture-laden approaches to engaging the students more thoroughly. What’s cool is that I see a number of excellent teachers already doing this. Hearkens me back to the Sir Ken Robinson video shown at the Futures Conference. Having said all this, don’t take my word for it – go read about John Williams yourself, or better yet, ask him some questions of your own.

As I find out who other board candidates are, I am going to make it a point to drop by and get to know them. Laurie, I have some questions for you next. *grin*

Transparency

I already shared how I attempted to address the board at Monday’s board meeting. Dr. Joe Davis was kind enough to follow-up with me (and CC: Dr. Judy Wiegand). He mentioned Gene Logas’ previous efforts to spell out “Where does all the money go?” I agree that this is a good first step in breaking down the complex tongue of finances, but it only goes so far (it is, after all, a first step). I responded with an example of Jess Bachman’s now famous “Death and Taxes” poster which gives an awesome overview of the Federal Budget. On top of this, I followed up with a member of the Promises Made Promises Kept (PMPK) committee; here is an excellent example where the district communicates a ton of information to a group of people that is open to the public, but the public has next to no clue what is going on because 1) very few community members attend the PMPK meetings, 2) the “transparent” reports take a REALLY long time to make it up on the website. In fact, the last one I can find is from December of 2011. So, first hurdle is to get this information in the public sphere, second hurdle is to get these reports so that we the common people can understand them. 🙂

Transparency is not about pointing fingers. It is about collaborating towards a common goal. As John Williams implied, accountability is a good thing, when done right. It helps all of us.

[PS – I hope that a letter-to-the-editor I submitted on this topic is printed soon]

More about 2013 Board Candidates

Meg Dickinson wrote an article on Tuesday in the aftermath of Tom Lockman stepping down from his position on the board. One particular quote of Mr. Lockman that I really like is:

I truly believe that public education is the most critical aspect of a community’s ability to succeed and develop…

Most. Critical. Those are big words, ones that should challenge our community. But back to Meg’s article about the candidates. She relates the Stig Lanneskog intends to run for the 2-year slot. She also says that seven people to date have checked out petitions from the Mellon Center. Note that the petitions actually come from the County Clerk’s office and that the Mellon Center merely provides the forms as a courtesy; since the forms are downloadable from the internet, there is no telling the maximum number of people that have expressed an interest. On top of that, just because someone picks up a packet does not mean they will get all the signatures and actually submit it by December 26th. What is most curious to me is, of the people that have picked up a packet, we only know about three (Ileana Saveley, Laurie Bonnett, John Williams and Stig Lanesskog). Personally, I really want to find out who the others are because I want to meet these people who are so interested in the school district that they want to serve on the board, which is not all fun and games. 🙂 Very worthy, no doubt, but a sacrifice none the less.