Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Audit&Finance Committee Meeting Tomorrow

I had been wondering where the agenda for tomorrow's Audit and Finance Committee Meeting was.  Well, now I can see why it was delayed.

1) It's HUGE.
2) It's a mess.  Literally.  Things added links not there - very confusing.

The minutes from the last meeting note note a troubling trend - the end of funding for number of programs.  To whit:

- Mr. Corrigan noted the Paul G. Allen Foundation grant for Diplomas Now at Denny and Aki Kurose has ended.

- He outlined the Federal competitive grants ending this year, including the High School Graduation Initiative Grant (HSGI) and the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). (The HSGI funds 22 FTEs.)

- Mr. Corrigan noted that the Urban School Turnaround Initiative (USTI) will end at the end of June.

- The District will apply for other State/Federal grants such as the Deep Dive 3 Investment Fund to develop community-school partnerships, funding for which is also not guaranteed.



Then there's 20 minutes allotted to a presentation on the "Annual King County Investment Pool Update."  Must be pretty important for 20 minutes in a chockful two hour meeting.


Again, there's the MOU with Africatown that continues to baffled me.  Board report (another mess that no person could read and truly know what is being said) and MOU.


The latest is that the district wants the Board to authorize a settlement with Africatown over back rent/utilities.  The issue seems to be that Africatown says Banda promised them a 50% break in the rent (in the form of a somewhat vague letter of support) and, for whatever reason, did not pay the rent the district thought they owed. 


So the district has decided that it wouldn't be worth pursuing the money because (1) of legal costs and (2) Africatown probably doesn't have the money.  What?!  That's a great message to send to others who lease/rent from the district. 

So the settlement would get half of what is owed ($9,299.50 owed but the district is settling for $4,724.75). 

One interesting item to note - the district is now differentiating (sometimes) between students from Africa and American-born African-American youth.   This is important because the district is saying the Africatown programming will close the opportunity gaps "our African American students are experiencing" without saying who they are really talking about. 

The MOU is no clearer- "ACEI offers educational enhancement services to address the crisis in education for students of African descent." 

If a person were reading just the Action Report, they might think these are services for African-Americans.  This is not real transparency to use different language in the Action Report vs the MOU.

As well, there are two options in the MOU for the Superintendent on continuing the lease.  Why would there be two different ways to do this?  

I'll again state that I do not believe any other district would be going this far for a group that in the past has already proven itself untrustworthy, cost the district time and money and,  now, this time around, got behind in rent and put the district in position to settle. 

Moving on. 

The district is conveying a piece of land by Arbor Heights to the City to become a sidewalk. 

There also some added items about the "Pinehurst Replacement Project" but no links.

Then there are no fewer than eight items on the "Regular Agenda" including the extension of Alliance of Education MOU.  This is an oddity because the district already has an extension.  Why haven't they come to agreement - if any - for a new MOU with the Alliance?  I think something is off here. 

9 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Crap. Not another meeting I have to drag my tired x*x to.

Well, if it hasn't been made clear by now (and don't feel bad if you are not aware) but the district gap-closing strategies, MTSS initiatives and other things they talk incessantly about, are now specifically focused on African-American males. I do not disagree that this issue has been in freefall for years. My gripe is that, at least with respect to special education, the focus on African American males came up without notice in the SpEd Dept's Vision statement (and I pay close attention to SpEd).

At today's work session the bulk of the time was spent, once again, on fancy charts showing that yes there is a gap and by golly REA is going to devise a "research program" to look into this data further. When will the district quite engorging itself with data and finally act upon what most successful districts know already works? I'd be mighty surprised that an Africatown program with its accompanying issues is a research-based best practice.

The end of these carrot grants has been expected for some time. Soon new shiny things will be bought by Allen and Gates, by way of Clover Codd. For example the RMP Deep Dive grant for Emerson is expiring and a new grant is now floated for joint community centered wrap around service CBO P-5 (insert jargon here) program is in the works for New Holly. My question is: what will happen to Emerson, arguably the most challenged school in our district, now that the RMP "seed money" disappears? Are we back to square one? Will SPS try to find some other sugar daddy to continue the critical services these children need? Are Emerson's problems now considered solved by the players downtown?

Melissa Westbrook said...

And here's the thing - Martin-Morris (and now Blanford) have talked about how they want to do "something" about the education issues for African-American boys. What are they doing? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

The only reason Africa Town is still a player is because the district has nothing, and I mean nothing for African Americans. The district has not a researched-based molecule for itself when it comes to this issue.

GL

Jon said...

It makes absolutely no sense to offer a lease again to a group that was unable to pay on a previous lease. The Board clearly should reject that.

They won't reject the renewed lease but, when they don't, the Board and Superintendent should be reamed by the press for their dysfunctional and incompetence. The story writes itself.

Melissa Westbrook said...

GL, the district has been partners in the Road Map project for a long time. And RM has a new ambitious project for the New Holly area.

Anonymous said...

What are HMM and SB doing, you ask Melissa?

Simple Answer: Talking. That's what they do, all they do, and all they ever will do. Talk, talk, talk, talk....

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

What I am talking about is projects specifically geared at the issues that the DOE is looking at.

When you look at what the district has in place to foster the identity of young African American males, there is nothing.

It has no ongoing discussions with any group representing families of students who are African American. What it has is this pseudo "relationship" with a group purporting to expertise in the area of African American culture.

Nor does it have in place any programs to handle disproportionality of discipline.

You and I know that the RM project has no interest in issues of disproportionality of discipline. All it gives a sh*t about is test results.

The problem with that approach is that it ignores issues of race, culture, and socio-economics so that it can tie test results to teachers.

That's what's going on in this district and that's where the money will continue to be put.

It's not like these issues haven't been going on for decades. It's not like Martin-Morris couldn't have directed some policy about this a long time ago instead of galavanting around the country on the taxpayer's dime. It's not like it's rocket science. It's neglect, pure and simple.

GL

Melissa Westbrook said...

GL, yes, I would agree. There have been few, if any, open discussions with communities on these issues. There is nothing stopping Martin-Morris/Blanford from going out and having open meetings.

But also, to my point about Africatown, again, it appears that the district and Africatown are differentiating between new students who have immigrated from African countries and native-born African-Americans. Both groups have fairly specific needs and my perception is a turn towards the newer students. Why, I don't know.

mirmac1 said...

At the MTSS Update and Work Session this week, reference was made of the African-American Male Scholars Think Tank "The Think Tank is developing a plan that will provide recommendations that help us increase academic achievement, social/emotional development, and access to opportunities and support for African American Male students." Ruiz said there was a hiccup of sorts some months ago but that the group is working again (?)

Yesterday Cleveland's principal made a presentation on the concrete steps they have taken on Restorative Justice. He described considerable support staff funded by money he got somewhere (would've like to have heard how much and from whom, guessing WASTEM). Is this going to be another unsustainable effort like the Road Map Deep Dive at Emerson? Goodbye site coordinator. Goodbye Arts Impact, Sandalwood camp, SESEC, Arts Corp, afterschool support, and summer learning institute. What is the lesson we learned? That we know this stuff works but we can't afford it so...?!