I attended this meeting yesterday, along with at least 60 parents (plus School Board candidate Leslie Harris). Director Peters did a superlative job in handling the crowd.
There were two topics; bell times and the QAE issue.
- There is still mistrust over the idea that there can't be just two tiers. I think the district not providing real data on the costs fuels this suspicion. It's just not enough to say, "trust us" (which appears to be exactly what some on the Board are doing).
- One Magnolia parent said that, for an isolated region like theirs, having their two elementaries in different tiers that will make it very hard for after-school activities. She said she had checked with some orgs like Arena Sports and they will gear their offerings to earlier released schools.
- It was stated that the Taskforce asked that clusters be aligned.
- Director Peters said that last year she had fought to keep the latest bell time at 9:30 am but it got upped to 9:40 am and it's not clear to her why that happened. She did praise staff for getting the number of schools in Tier Three down to 13.
- It was stated that the principal at John Hay Elementary is new this year and didn't even know this change was coming.
- Many in the crowd thought Nyland's released announcement felt insulting.
- One parent said that some middle school students at Blaine get dropped off at a nearby Starbucks to hang out because their parents have to get to work and can't leave them at the school.
- One person said that he had sent in a message to his Executive Director with no response but when he sent it again, cc'd this time to the Board, he got a response. (And that is exactly why I tell you to ALWAYS cc the Board or your director when you send an e-mail.)
- On Mr. Elliott's inability to finish the teacher evaluations - ostensibly the reason for all this - one person said it is a state law. This is true but it is a "fireable" offense and that doesn't mean the person has to be fired.
-Director Peters told the crowd to e-mail the directors as the volume of e-mails does matter. She also said to e-mail the Superintendent and ask why the focus in SPS seems less on the child and family. She said the Board can lead the superintendent in this direction but it is very helpful to have the back-up from parents.
(I note that you might not bother with Director Peaslee as she has repeatedly complained at Board meetings about the volume of e-mails she gets and how tedious it is to hear she could be wrong on an issue. She told staff at an Executive Committee meeting how her adult son was reading some e-mails sent to her about the strike and how "dumb those people are." I personally was offended that she allowed her son to read e-mails that constituents sent to her, that she found this amusing, and that she told staff about it.)
Peters said she felt that there was an overlarge number of initiatives at JSCEE including the City's pre-k program.
She also said that parents could write the Superintendent and ask that he NOT accept Mr. Elliott's resignation.
She explained that if Mr. Elliott does not resign and is then terminated that he could appeal and that appeal would go to the Board, not the Superintendent. This would be a calculated risk on his part and could have implications for his pension/health benefits.
If the Board, like in other actions, were to go strictly on the law, it is likely to go against him.
- Parents kept clamoring about what else they could do. I told them that the Superintendent was giving his "State of the District" speech on Nov. 5, at two times/locals and it might be good to show up to listen to that. And I told them that they could consider not supporting the BTA IV levy. If it were to fail, that would surely get their attention. Basically, the district only reacts to a couple of things - lawsuits, continued bad publicity and money.
Director Peters is against this idea and worried it might play into the hands of those who want City control.
I do understand her position but we can never wrangle the district back to a focus to child and classroom by e-mails and protests outside JSCEE. It will take a huge effort AND follow-thru but I believe it can be done.