Cliff notes from the June 10th regular board meeting

As with my other cliff notes:

  • all errors are my own; keep in mind these are not authoritative minutes, just my own notes
  • all times are offsets from the video I link
  • if you spot any problems or inaccurate statements, please let me know
  • feel free to fill in areas I did not cover

 

Video link

{note: the video is from TiVo and starts at 5:30; the board meeting starts at 6:00pm so be prepared to fast forward. Also, there is quite a lot of dead space at the end of the video that I have not truncated}

 

Read Meg Dickinson’s NG article for another take on the meeting, and her twitter feed (you have to scroll back to June 10th, I don’t know how to deep link all her tweets as a group for the night).

 

Cliff Notes

00:00 – 09:35
Press conference about gun violence by several prominent members of the African-American community.
33:42 board meeting starts with recognitions and academic spotlight
40:15 Laurie Bonnett asks what credit/remunerance kids get for the summer entrepreneurship program. Marc Changnon says they get nothing, 100% volunteer. Except personal satisfaction. 🙂
41:55 Jamar Brown gives kudos to Marc, thanks Marc for thinking outside the box. Also notes how the adults in the program are growing as well.
45:16 Kristine Chalifoux asks for list of companies that are involved in the program so we can thank them.
45:41 Recognitions
49:23 public comment
Dan Goines (sp??): site director, expressing a concern about why MTD avoids Carrie Busey.

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.

Building bridges with Shadow Wood

Unit 4 finally made good on their promise to return to Shadow Wood after their August 17th meeting (I think that was the last one); a group of residents and a bevy of Unit 4 reps crowded into the Shadow Wood Community Center. Superintendent Dr. Judy Wiegand opened the evening with introductions, joined by Assistant Superintendents Dr. Susan Zola and Dr. Laura Taylor; Barbara Ramsay had two of her Transportation guys there to listen and take notes, ESL Director Maria Alanis was there to do the bulk of the translating,  Board Member Ileana Saveley also helped bridge the language obstacles and engage the residents, and Central Assistant Principal Bryan Yacko was there to represent the high school district in which Shadow Wood now resides. Champaign City Council Member Will Kyles also dropped by and addressed the group.

The first order of the night was Transportation and the ongoing issues with buses. It was amazing to witness the interaction; the residents spoke about inconsistent pickup/dropoff times and how some drivers are just rude, and the administrators actively listened, showed concern, and then stated what they are going to do about it. That was the best part; “Ok, I hear what you are saying, this is what we are going to do to fix it.” And so on Monday and Tuesday, the bus that serves Shadow Wood is going to have a tail, checking to see what is going on with the route. The residents suspected that the bus was going to Savoy to drop off one child first, and then coming all the way back north with a 99% full bus. Having just done that exact route myself, I know it takes a while, and I also know it makes absolutely no sense for a bus serving Garden Hills to go to Savoy first for dropoff (for pickup, yes, sure, it makes sense). The folks from the Transportation Department said that should not be happening. But they are going to check. They also mentioned that one of the buses broke recently (I had this picture of a bus literally breaking in half) which might have accounted for some disruption today. What was really good, also, is that Maria explicitly said that if after Tuesday things are still not good, they should call her or Ileana. It was clear that the residents felt very strongly about this – and so they should! The mothers talked about how they have to drop off their kids and get to work, and if the bus is not consistent, they are sometimes late to work. It was equally clear that the Unit 4 staff were very concerned and want to make sure things are right. And this is what I love about this kind of environment – the residents were being empowered. They were encouraged to use their voice (and they did!).

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