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?

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.
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.
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


I am highly unimaginative today. Here are a few things floating around my radar.


1. Bristol Place Forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters:

What’s happening to Bristol Place?
A forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters Champaign County

April 29, 2013
When: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Champaign Public Library: Robeson Meeting rooms

Come join us to hear about the origin of the current Bristol Place project, plans for the demolition of Bristol Place and the relocation of current residents. A panel composed of city staff and involved citizens will answer a moderator’s questions followed by an audience question and answer session.

Panel members:
Rev. Eugene Barnes, Founder/Executive Director of Metanoia Centers
Kevin Jackson, Neighborhood Services Director, City of Champaign
Rachel Phillips, Masters Candidate, Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois”


2. Chicago Students boycotting school for a day to send a message:

Today many Chicago students will not be in their schools. One of them has written this, explaining the reasons why.


3. WICD ran a short clip about TALP (suspension alternative):


4. April 17th video of Dr. Alan Kalmanoff on the county jail issue (1:53:40, youTube):

April 22nd special board meeting

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


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.

Challenge for Jim Dey

I submitted a Letter to the Editor tonight in response to a NG Saturday Monday Editorial (“New approach on suspensions“). My challenge for Jim Dey and the rest of the Editorial Board is to go hang out with some of the kids that are suspended (past or present) and learn a little more about who they are, their circumstances, and the classroom environments in which they “misbehave”. I am bothered that editorials can be so “off the cuff” and written without much substantiative backing at all. And I do not understand how Mr. Dey can proclaim to be in support of the program when his article drips with “good luck with that”. Nobody said it was going to be easy. In fact, I can guarantee it will be difficult and laced with trials. As Jamar stated at the Board Meeting on April 8th, it is all about relationships. And that is another thing; Mr. Dey was not at the board meeting and did not watch the video of it. I am now curious if he even read the materials on BoardDocs? Or talked to Mr. Orlando Thomas directly?

I emailed Mr. Thomas and requested student responses to his questions. He wrote back with a small list of replies to “What do you need to succeed?”:

  • A job
  • A tutor
  • More time do to my homework in school
  • More help from my teachers
  • Another resource period to complete my homework
  • More clubs, activities and sports
  • More school dances
  • A job for my mom
  • Somewhere to go after school
  • Cable tv at home
  • Longer hours at Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club
  • More black male teachers
  • Ms. Lane-Rose (AP on active duty)
  • Someone to help me to get into college
  • A stable house, tired of moving

Wow! Some of those really tug at my heart. Obviously, “cable tv at home” kinda sticks out like a sore thumb (*grin*), but I give the kid kudos for being honest. Some of those other ones… I just have to ask, what can we do to provide those things? Perhaps TALP addresses some of those needs. I will remind you that these are responses from kids who have already been suspended at least once. I cannot help but wonder what would happen to these 15 students if they received what they said they needed. If you had the power to provide for these needs and you had the knowledge that it would counteract a suspension, would you consider that a fair trade?

No, seriously, I am asking. Even if you only chose to do, say, five from the list.

What’s stopping you?


EDIT: I said Saturday’s Editorial. *facepalm* I meant Monday’s Editorial.

Notes from the April 8th BOE Meeting

Stig opened the meeting to give special mention of Dave Tomlinson’s last day on the Board, and to open the floor for Board comments praising Dave for all his work over the past few years. Stig honored Dave with a plaque, after which Dave shared how he feels best about advocating for teachers.

No public comments.

Board member comments
Tomlinson: talked highly of the early childhood center, good news about not RIFfing anyone. (note: RIF = Reduction in Force, a practice of letting staff go with the hopeful promise of being hired again)
Jamar: good stuff at college and career center, good “state of the district” address at Carrie Busey, good feelings all around at address; talked about how Dr. Wiegand met all her goals and is changing the perception.
Chalifoux: go vote tomorrow
Van Ness: one positive and one negative. positive = “Gold card” thing, college and career center. Negative = some schools still have no Proximity A – 1) either get rid of Proximity or 2) give every child Proximity A, the 1.5 mile thingy is IRRELEVANT (his emphasis).
Chalifoux: “Gold card” thing is good; asked about doing a REALTORS brunch. Wiegand responds that we are doing them, and in fact one is scheduled for May (if I heard correctly).
Stig: acknowledges present candidates again.
Upcoming events (among the many events, I focused on one)
May 6th, special board meeting to swear in new board members

Item D moved up to the front.

Future facilities presentation:
Steering Team Co-Chair Bruce Knight started; lots of background provided; enrollment projections need to be looked at annually.  I ask (and have asked previously) “who is going to do that?” More on this in just a little bit. Most dense population around Garden Hills. Population shift moving north and east.

In discussing the “opinion polling” by Fallon, Bruce Knight says a majority of they “yes” votes came from low-propensity voters. So his solution is to get more people to vote. I wonder about that; to me, it essential to make sure folks are first educated properly about the issues (and candidates where relevant). In addition to the above, the majority of “yes” votes came from the younger generation, while the majority of “no” votes came from those who are older. Are the older folks just stodgy? Are the younger folks just naive? We cannot really assume anything – we just don’t know.

Given all the Read the rest of this entry »