The Board work session on Wednesday had three components; a discussion about distribution services (very straightforward stuff), a 15-minute update on "Interrelated Initiatives for 2016-2107" and Advanced Learning.
The brief discussion of Interrelated Initiatives had one handout that broke the work into two sections; Key Annual Activities and Key 16-17 Activities, each with a date of when "action" needed to done.
Under Key Annual Activities there was:
- Levy Resolution (my notes don't reflect discussion on this so I'll have to ask) - 11/16
- Boundaries 11/16
- Transportation Service Standards 12/7
- 17-18 Calendar 1/18 (And that's the way it was stated but I believe they mean "1/18/17")
- Student Assignment Plan 1/18
- 17-18 SMART goals 7/5
- Budget 8/2017
Under Key 16-17 Activities there was:
- Joint Use Agreement 11/16
- Policy 2415 (24 Credits) 12/7
- Transportation Vendor Contract 1/18
- Cascadia 1/18
- SEA CBA (re: 20-min collaboration) Info only to Board 2/15
- Other CBAs (re: 20-min collaboration) Info only to Board 215
- Additional 24-credit decisions 3/1
Deputy Superintendent Steve Nielsen said he was worried about all that work. "This is where we are." Nielsen said Flip Herndon, from his Facilities viewpoint, was also worried. Nielsen suggested they may need more work sessions on this work.
Director Harris said she was "terrified" about where the next high school will be and how those pathways are connect to the work on this document. She asked, "What are we doing with the HCC cohort at Cascadia and how are we changing the overall program?" She said there were a lot of "great people" offering input and that constituents were unhappy that FACMAC wasn't being able to address the issue and that this work was not being done in a holistic fashion.
Nielsen conceded that high school was not on the list because it is "short-term future."
Michael Tolley said that they would begin the conversation on high schools in January and that they had learned a lesson from the prior year of trying to "do it all at once and people get confused and think we are trying to manipulate the situation." He said the issues on Cascadia are related to the SAP and that work would start in the next couple of weeks.
Harris said that "If we stack it up that way, we may move kids around a lot."
Director Blanford asked about immersion program pathways and Tolley said that the International Schools Taskforce was helping to "inform decisions around pathways."
On this issue I believe it is folly to do some things that overlap and have multiple issues in a piecemeal fashion. If staff does not believe - as former deputy superintendent Charles Wright did - that they cannot wrap their arms around the entire spectrum of issues, then maybe it is time to bring in a consultant. Because I don't have a lot of faith in working in silos when everything is connected and there are ripple effects to any decisions made.
You may recall that last week there was a Board work session about the role of executive directors and I called it an epic fail. Well, as compared to what the work session on Advanced Learning was on Wednesday, I was mistaken. The Advanced Learning work session was truly the epic fail.
Let me set the stage for those of you who have never attended a work session. Normally, it's the department heads of whatever area is being discussed along with the full Board and the Superintendent, maybe a couple of people in senior management. Only at the budget work sessions to you see entire upper-level management and yet, for this work session for a program, they all turned out.
As I previously reported, an external facilitator was brought in. When I asked why this was, one person said "well, it might be a cage match." (Spoiler alert; it was not. I certainly didn't want a cage match but I think the Board may have be more willing to throw a few elbows.) While the facilitator did her job, she also was not able to guide the discussion in any direction (she said this) and I don't think it was money well-spent without that ability.
As well, there are normally just a few audience members but at least 20 people showed up. I believe they were teachers and they had signs (but never held them up.) The only sign I could read was "Prioritize Equity."
I can easily sum up the work session by saying that nothing got done. There was certainly a lot of talk but not on real issues, not on future steps, not on the work of either AL taskforce.
As someone who has covered this issue, watched this issue and this issue is the reason I became an active parent in this district, it was deeply disappointing.