Highlights from Board Meeting
Beth covered most of this but I wanted to provide bulleted items. (I managed to miss most of the speakers, recording Channel 28, not Channel 26.)
- UPDATE - Two of the speakers I heard referenced that there would be no more SE Initiative money (this was an RBHS speaker and a AAA speaker). I thought we were in year 2 of a 3 year plan so it was confusing. Anyone know for sure? (My apologies - I skipped over this in my notes.)
- Center School alum referenced Center School as an "alternative" program. (This may be something that needs to be addressed at Center School keeps moving towards being an alternative rather than non-traditional general ed program.)
- It looked like an overflow crowd. Michael DeBell thanked the crowd for their respectful attitudes as well as the speakers.
- Mr. Kennedy went over financials, both revenue and expenditures. He did say something I hadn't heard before; namely, that we might still loss state K-12 money (7% reduction) even if we don't lose I-728 money and that it is nearly equal amounts in any case (about $21M).
- He stated that as far as central office reductions went that 80% of them would be job eliminations and 20% would be unfilled jobs that will be left unfilled.
- Once again, in terms of transportation, the subject of bell times was tantalizingly mentioned and then not explained.
- Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said that the issue of closing a high school is off the table for this round but they will keep it open for the future. She said that there are "significant issues" over creating a 6-12 school or closing a high school. (Really, you mean like Denny/Sealth?)
- She said there needed to be a "thoughtful" discussion about comprehensive versus small schools versus alternatives. (I didn't know what small schools she was referencing.)
- Steve Sundquist asked for clarification about closing any high schools and that wouldn't happen before Fall of 2010. Yes, said Dr. G-J. Michael asked if that meant that closing Center School and Aki and RBHS are off the table. Yes, said Dr. G-J. Then Mary Bass asked if that were good for one, why not all? Is Nova off the table? No, the preliminary rec stands. Summit, Meany, SBOC , AAA and AS#1 (all with middle/high schools). All those preliminary recs stand. (Oh, so it's just certain high schools and certain middle schools - interesting how Dr. G-J made a blanket statement about taking high schools and middle schools off the table but had to backpedal...over and over.)
- Carla Santorno went over the Program Design Team concept. The "purpose is to have a dedicated team charged with successful implementation of new programs and identifying possible questions, concerns and solutions." She referenced staff and students but it was unclear to me who would be on the teams or how they would be found. She said they would have a charge and benchmarks and goals and report to a Project Manager. Interestingly, in answer to a question from Director Carr about scope she said that the teams would try "to continue the culture and best practices from the previous school". (Really? So part of Summit would be part of the new Thorton Creek?) Director Martin-Morris seemed troubled by the scope of the work and said that they should publicly let people know what work would have to be set aside to get this work done. Michael asked who from staff would be in charge and Dr. G-J said that hadn't been determined.
- As Beth said, Special Ed families will learn about assignment info on Jan. 6th during the final recommendations presentation and those assignments would be per the audit findings.
- Then the Functional Capacity presentation was given by Brad B. This was very data-laden (and difficult to read). What was interesting was he said, for elementary, it was "about classrooms and class size than looking at seats in general." (I thought Dr. G-J said yesterday on KUOW that it wasn't about class size.)
- But the presentation ran into a little problem during questioning. Harium said, quite plainly that if the Board received the final information on Jan. 13th for functional capacity and the final recs come out Jan. 6th "I have a little problem. If I have to make a decision based on data...I need the data." (Much applause.) Dr. G-J tried to dance around this with "based on technology we have" "a lot of work to create this" "even if we're a little late, you still have between Jan 13 and 22nd". (What about the schools that may fall into this late window of time - how do they prepare? Shannon McMinemee at this point came over and whispered something to Brad - Shannon is one of the district's legal counsel.) A couple of directors asked why they couldn't have this information for the buildings under consideration for closure but there was a lot of waffling. (Why can't the list be prioritized? You have to wonder why there is any problem doing this if schools' survival is on the line.) Steve said that based on public testimony and public hearings that he sensed it was important to get this information for the Central area and the NE/north but then he kind of shrugged. (Hey Board - this is the MOST important thing you can do as directors outside of selecting a superintendent. TELL the staff that you want this list prioritized and you want this information by the final recs. How this wouldn't have occurred to staff or worse, why it would and they don't do it is a question for all of us.)
- Michael ended the presentation with a really, to me, odd statement. He said that he had gone thru the process last time with a "tally system with not robust data at all". (Really? I myself thought that using value-added data and a closer look at how schools were doing academically was worth a tally system last time. But this time, it's all about room and building condition and that is becoming clearer by the minute.)