I attended the Executive Committee meeting last week.
The minutes from the previous meeting on June 12th were somewhat telling. They reflect some discussion of the new Seattle Teacher Residency program. Michael Tolley noted that it had been assigned to the Audit and Finance Committee and not the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. That's interesting because I would think training teachers would be C&I but there was not an explanation in the minutes.
As well, Duggan Harman said that "costs have not been finalized." Remember that for the future because the STR program may well cost much more than we suspect and the money has to come from somewhere. As well, this item WAS to be on the August 21st Board agenda and the Superintendent pulled it. I suspect it is because the Board was not going to vote for a program with no budget attached. Rightly so.
I note that Directors were updated on conditional certifications for TFA teachers and "Directors asked for data on the effectiveness, retention rate and progress" of these teachers and asked that the data review occur at the next C&I meeting. I was at that next C&II meeting and it wasn't brought forth. I'll check on this but again, why have the time and resources going into two teaching programs when one of them - TFA - is not popular in SPS at all.
It was also stated in the minutes that there were 260 public disclosure requests made to the district last year, mostly by media sources.
Director Peaslee spoke about attending the national school board directors convention in Seattle in June and that most Board meeting agendas had items in a logically grouped fashion and moving some, as a group, to the Consent agenda. This was agreed upon as a good idea as well as putting items likely to get much community input/discussion towards the front of the agenda.
Director McLaren did point out that moving some items to the Consent agenda may negate public input on them. To understand, items WILL start on the main agenda as intro items and the public can speak to them. But if it is decided, after intro, to move them for approval to the Consent agenda, then speaking about them won't matter if all these items are rolled into one vote.
Duggan Harman said he believed that the next legislative session will be shorter but is likely to go into special session just as the last one did. He said that SPS, working with other school districts like Bellevue, Tacoma, and Highline, were effective in lobbying at the Legislature this past session. Director Peaslee asked about the levy lid and Duggan said that he felt they needed to get through the McCleary funding before any talk of lifting the lid could occur.
Director Peaslee asked where Washington State would rank after McCleary and the answer was that our state would be higher on the list but still in the bottom third for funding in the U.S.
There was note of the growth boundaries meetings as well as the Strategic Plan. Apparently the SP has a new brochure about it so look for that at your school first-day packet.
Director Peaslee asked about state tests and, to my amazement, Michael Tolley didn't know the complete list right off the top of his head. Duggan tried to fill in but you have to wonder why Tolley, who oversees this area, didn't know them.
President Smith-Blum asked about Wilson-Pacific and seemed dismayed to find out that the plan was just for two separate schools and not a third "core" building to share administration services.
There was some discussion about amendments to Policy 1400 which covers Meeting Conduct, Order of Business and Quorum. One change is that Board members can waive their right to notice of "special meetings" by both e-mail and phone and just get a phone call. This strikes me as a bit dangerous because that means a Board director - during a crisis or just busy time - had better be checking their phone or they might miss notice of a meeting (which can occur with a day).
It also includes a new section that Board members do NOT have to be physically present to attend a Board or committee meeting. They can teleconference in. As well, the amendment also says that Board members should refrain from communicating electronically (e-mail or text or social media) with each other during Board meetings.
There was also discussion over Policy 6114 that covers gifts to the district and to staff. Director Peaslee thought this might be about PTA funds but it doesn't cover those. She did state that she believed school PTAs should notify membership about the cut that the Alliance takes (7%) for processing PTA money. This will go to the A&F Committee.
The largest amount of time was spent going over the two agendas for the next two Board meetings, for August 21st and September 4th.
There is to be a Board retreat on Saturday, Sept. 7th (no location yet). It would seem to be mostly around the 2013-2014 district/Board priorities. What was interesting here is that the Alliance, who had been running the retreats, had no one in attendance. Perhaps the message has been received that the Board wants to run its own retreats.
I was happy to see that the discussion around Board retreats included
the request that "the full Board" should be prioritizing the items on
Superintendent Banda said that the staff wanted to talk about what was working so far and what other things they should be looking at to make the system work better/more smoothly. (He also said there is work being done on a video about the Strategic Plan which, for my money, is a waste of time.)
President Smith-Blum asked for a list of initiatives already in play and how they work with the SP's priorities.
(I do find it odd that the Board has to ask for calendar updates and ask for a list of initiatives, their timelines and how they fit into the Strategic Plan. It all seems like things the staff would WANT the Board to know and keep up with.)