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 »

Carrie Busey Community Forum

I am not a big fan of going to meetings. But in my defense, this was supposed to be a forum. 🙂 It was still basically a meeting, but with some time for questions afterwards.

Stuart Brodsky of OWP/P presented a slideshow of graphics and information. EDIT (March 30): Now hosted on the U4 website: http://www.champaignschools.org/Construction/photos_carrie_busey.pdf

Here are some of the highlights I took away:

  • An official Request for Bids will be filed soon (tomorrow, maybe).
  • Once the bidding process is complete, the General Contractor should break ground in June 2011.
  • Construction should be complete some time in July, 2012.
  • OWP/P took a lot of input from certain community members and really listened to the current teachers; the overall design reflects this feedback. In particular, a central Library and Dining area that may potentially be used by the community, clustered classroom environments, and a playground area nestled in the heart of the structure.
  • Both Stuart and Jeff Scott emphasized their desire to see a lot of community collaboration and afterhours use.
  • Still ongoing discussion for a Balanced Calendar, but definitely not for 2012.
  • Plans are being discussed for a wind-powered turbine generator and photovoltaic cells (solar panels).
  • Lots of flexibility and personalization of features, like  temporary partitions in clustered classrooms and a temporary partition separating gym from dining area.
  • Lots of thought given towards orientation of classrooms, lots of sunlight and attention given to special kinds of windows.

One of my concerns is that the high degree of flexibility might be a bit overwhelming, like a new gadget with too many buttons. Will all that flexibility actually be used? Sure, it sounds awesome! But will we end up with spaces or ideas that are simply gathering dust? I am very curious to see how the collaborative classrooms work out, since I grew up with very traditional, non-collaborative classes. How do you minimize distractions from misbehavior? Do teachers still retain a sense of individuality and uniqueness, or do they get blended into a cooperative soup?

Also concerned about the community collaboration aspect. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is an awesome goal to have. But how are we going to actualize it, make it real and practical? From talking with neighbors, I get the impression that most folks see Carrie Busey as something that the school district is doing. Period.

Lastly, some very interesting news. BTW and Stratton both qualified for and were awarded a “one laptop per child” type of grant. I think this is good news. The state pays for laptops that are kept at the school but available for students to use. This has a lot of awesome potential, and I dearly hope it is not abused or neglected. But since I work with computers, I start to think…. is this really a good use of money? I often hate computers. 🙂 What happens in a few years when the laptops start to break, get worn out and/or become obsolete? Are they replaced? Everyone gets an iPad? Anyone, there is good in there, and I do not want to take away from that.