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

April 22nd special board meeting

I have not had a chance to watch it – only spot-checked it to make sure it was recording:

http://www.cb-pta.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/board_meetings/2013-04-22-special-board-meeting.mp4

 

A couple interesting things on the agenda; Cheryl Camacho and Tony Howard presented on the Parent Advocacy recommendation(s) and Elizabeth DeGruy presented on special needs (aka, “Board Retreat Follow-up”),  Orlando spoke again on TALP, Lockman again on the changes to policy concerning discipline, three folks bumped up to Assistant Principals, and a couple other things.

 

Meg’s article focuses on the approval of the TALP program, and mentions a couple other things as well.

Special board meeting tonight, update on Schools of Choice RFP

Tonight is a special Special Board Meeting. Occasionally the Board is called in to deal with one of these issues:

  • 120/2(c)(1) Employee appointments, employment, compensation, dismissals, complaints
  • 120/2(c)(2) Negotiations
  • 120/2(c)(5) Property Acquisition/Lease/Purchase
  • 120/2(c)(8) Emergency Security Procedures
  • 120/2(c)(9) Student Discipline
  • 120/2(c)(11) Actual/Potential Litigation
  • 120/2(c)(16) Self-Evaluation, practices and procedures or professional ethics when meeting with a representative of a statewide association of which the public body is a member
  • 120/2(c)(21) Closed Meeting Minutes Discussion/Review

 

What I am torn about is that I think they are technically abiding by OMA, but they are not disclosing as much information as they possibly can. For instance, I have since learned that the meeting was specifically called for 120/2(c)(9) Student Discpipline. Why is that not mentioned on board docs? The only reason I have right now is that it is not required (not by OMA nor by Policy). I get it that it is the “easy” thing to do to announce all the possibilities for Executive Session “just in case”, but I sincerely wonder, is that the best way?

 

Here is the flip side. What if I just shut up about this? I have to question myself, is my pestering of the Board in this manner productive in any way? I really don’t know. I hear both sides; some of you like what I am doing, some of you think I am a hindrance and an obstruction. As always, I am glad there are differences of opinion – I highly value that! But what good is my question-asking really doing? That is what I am searching for right now.

 

On that note, I recently asked about the progress with the Schools of Choice (SoC) RFP. From the school attorney, Mr. Tom Lockman:

I have been working with District staff on the Choice RFP and am comfortable with where it stands at this point.  The District is planning to follow the same schedule as last year in terms of issuing the RFP.  This will allow us to have gone all the way through the selection, determination and notification processes to determine if there is anything the District feels needs to be added or changed to the existing language based on how things go.  If you do have additional thoughts beyond what was shared at our first meeting which you wish to share, please feel free to email me.  Thanks.

 

I told Mr. Lockman at “our first meeting” that I had at least two bottom lines (sometimes you just can’t have one *grin*):

  • make a system that is intuitive and garners a positive experience from all who interact with it
  • we don’t waste taxpayers dollars (which I fully believe we have been doing for many years)

 

So again, I wonder about my effectiveness. Is it worthwhile for me to raise my voice and become a “squeaky wheel”? Or what would happen if I just turned my attention elsewhere? I really really want to hunt this down. But at what cost?

 

For my part, I want to see the RFP; I want to make sure we stop sending money to Massachusetts; I would love to have the software solution be handled locally. But I personally do not need these things. My question then becomes, what is best for all of us? That I do not know.

 

Tom is no stranger to the Schools of Choice saga; just a couple years ago, he was instrumental in writing some enhancements like going from 3 to 5 choices (5 was a compromise, we wanted more), and I think helped to spur the video and other little things that have slightly improved this beast. One of my options is to just trust Tom and see where this goes.

Nov 26th Special Board Meeting agenda has been posted

Even though it is not up in BoardDocs yet (and hence no additional documentation), the Nov 26 special board meeting has been posted on the Board’s Unit 4 page:

http://www.champaignschools.org/Board/1213BoardAgendas/board_agenda_2012-11-26.pdf

 

The highlights seem to be:

Brief review of the March 26th Special Board Meeting

First off, I could not stay for the whole thing; as it was 7:pm by and only up to first half of the High School Initiatives update (Section 7: Reports), I knew it was going to be a long night and I needed to spend some time with family.

 

Chatted with Meg a little before the meeting – not sure how much she wants me to talk about her article coming up on Wednesday, so I’ll let that little mystery linger. I am looking forward to reading it. Also noticed that WCIA was at the meeting – I wonder how long they stuck around. First time in a long time that I saw the camera rolling like that.

 

The first part of the Board Meeting was actually quite good, in my opinion. There was no “open comment” from anyone in the audience (and there were a LOT of people there – mostly teachers, faculty, and Architects). Tommy Lockman kicked of the “Communications from Board Members” (Section 5D); in an effort to be responsive to the community, Tommy suggested that the Board re-open discussions and/or possibly not move forward with the working cash bonds. I was thrilled to hear this, not so much because of the working cash bonds itself, but it was (from my perspective) a great way to send the message of “hey community, we hear you”. It will be interesting to see how the Board as a whole responds. Dave Tomlinson did mention Read the rest of this entry »

Special Board Meeting: March 8th

When I found out that the Vavriks were going to the Special Board Meeting tonight, I decided to go and show support. I had no agenda whatsoever. It was quite emotional; Gaby McClellan shared some very heart-felt sentiments on behalf of the PTA Council, affirmation of Greg of the family, and how Greg took her under his wings as she started getting involved in the school district. The Board moved into executive session and we chatted with the media a little, trying to remember things about Greg. Gaby did a great job! You’ll see her on the news and in the paper.

 

The more people I hear and the more stories I read, it is amazing how many lives Greg touched. For me personally, that in itself is a testimony of who Greg was. As I stated to the WILL reporter when asked what his greatest accomplishment was, I said Greg won everybody’s respect, no matter where they were in life. I also begin to see the many interwoven relationships. How Judy Wiegand was good friends with the Novaks. As well as Tommy Lockman. How Donna Novak was, at the very beginning, both Greg’s boss and girlfriend. 🙂 How Greg spoke so highly of Jamar Brown when he was elected to the Board. I could go on and on…. I’ll defer to the historians to record the deeds of one of their own.

Jan 23rd Special Board Meeting

I decided to drop by the Special Board meeting tonight because I heard from Holly Nelson that Wiegand was going to talk about the high school options. For that, I was glad I went. They spent almost an hour on this topic; it is rather unfortunate that more community members were not present; I saw 2 reps from CTF, the NG, about 3 Mellon employees, Centennial Principal, Central Principal, Holly and myself. Lynn Stuckey and Will Kyles showed up a little later. In a way, it is really sad that these Board Meetings have got to the point where they drive people away instead of attract people. I feel like a reporter giving readers a mouse-on-the-floor view.

I am really glad that the high school options discussion was first on the agenda. During the “Public Comment” section Read the rest of this entry »