Tuesday, March 03, 2009

March 4 School Board Meeting

There are still 12 speaking spots open for the School Board meeting tomorrow night.

The current list of speakers and topics is:

1. Chris Jackins, Aviation High School
2. Ricky Malone, School Closures
3. Stephanie Bower, Start Times
4. Mary Vester, Programmatic Design Teams
5. Winifred Unterschute, Budget - Library Asst. Position
6. Charlie Mas, Program Placement Update
7. Lara Grauer, AS#1
8. Olga Addae, Budget

In addition to Goodloe-Johnson's report from the Programmatic Design Teams, I'm also looking forward to hearing COO Kennedy's reports:
  • Bell Times Update
  • Stimulus Package Update
  • Dietary Program
The agenda also includes a link to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that is being proposed between the Seattle Alliance for Education and the District.


Charlie Mas said...

I notice that the Program Placement Update which appeared in earlier drafts of the agenda has been removed from the Superintendent's update.

dan dempsey said...


Perhaps MG-J figured you would do a great job on Program Placement in three minutes so her update was not needed. ;)

Charlie Mas said...

I was there for the meeting - the WHOLE meeting - and it was horrible in almost every way.

The presentations from the staff ran from before 7:00 to nearly 10:00.

Tom Bishop from Transportation literally read his powerpoint slides to us - word for word without additions or omissions - as if the Board were illiterate. It cast the impression that he had never seen them before and had nothing to do with their creation.

He was unable to answer any of the Board's questions - at all. He couldn't answer the detailed questions (how many yellow buses go to Hale), but he couldn't answer the big concept questions either. When asked about community engagement he acknowledged - in a stunning bit of understatement - that they were a bit behind with it.

I have no idea of the purpose of the Dietary Program presentation. It was interminally long. It did manage to bury the news that GOING FORWARD, LUNCHES FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS WILL COME FROM THE CENTRAL KITCHEN AND NOT BE PREPARED IN THE SCHOOL KITCHENS. The school kitchens will only be used to heat the food up or to prepare grill items, which will all come pre-packaged to the school kitchens. I think this means that all of the middle and high schools will be getting the same nasty food selection that NOVA is getting now.

Local 609 was protesting because this will mean jobs in school kitchens will be cut. Also, they weren't notified of the presentation or the decision in advance despite assurances from Mr. Kennedy that they would be.

Interesting data from nutrition services: about 42% of SPS students eat the school lunch. What's interesting about that is that 45% of them can have it for free. The students who get the school lunches for free actually eat them at lower rates than the students who pay for it. They have no explanation for that.

The CTE program report was good, but also very long. Why doesn't the Board set a time limit on these things? They say that they can only take 20 public speakers and they have to hold them to three minutes each or else their meetings will run too long, but they put no controls on the length of the staff presentations which are the real reason that their meetings last for hours.

There weren't many people at the meeting, just the regulars, which made it feel kinda homey and intimate. It reminded me of the old days when the Board met on Queen Anne.

momster said...

I saw the meeting and second Charlie's assessment of the astonishly ill-prepared presenters of the "bell times rationale".

My favorites:

- neither Mr Bishop nor Mr McWashington could cite the number of special needs students at Nathan Hale, their transportation issues, or the number of cabs they use - in spite of the fact that all-Metro high schools are being included in the bell time re-draw almost entirely because of their special needs students

- when asked by Dir Carr whether any K-8 building staff had been engaged on the subject, Ms Santorno fumbled, "Yes, Ruth Medsker met with some of the principals, not the teachers, and um..they're ok with it"

- when asked by Dir Martin-Morris how much the purported savings would be reduced by taking the K-8s out of the 8:00 column, Mr Kennedy could not say, except - "almost all of the savings"

You could say that the CTE and Nutrition Services presentations were long, but at least they contained data and their presenters could answer questions on subject matter with ease.

Not very confidence-inspiring WRT the quality of the analysis on this bell-times decision - which the superintendent is obviously well down the road beyond.

What I especially resented on all parts (directors, sup't, staff) was the reductionist reasoning that any question about this particular bell-time configuration represented a rejection of the savings and ANY bell time re-configuration. The petulant-seeming "Well, where are you going to cut if you don't cut this?" responses seemed childish to me - along with Dir Chow's predictable peevish characterization of challenges to something she wants as "nit-picking'.

seattle citizen said...

Re: momster's
"the reductionist reasoning that any question about this particular bell-time configuration represented a rejection of the savings and ANY bell time re-configuration. The petulant-seeming "Well, where are you going to cut if you don't cut this?" responses seemed childish..."

In discussion with school staff and community members, I am left with an uncomfortable feeling (still) that the "budget crisis" is being used as a rationale for a substantial reconfiguring of the whole dang thing. But I'm still unaware of what that new vision might look like.
This is my ongoing concern: that there is some brave new configuration of the system that is being imagined behind closed doors. The changes we see happening are based on the budget, but is there a pattern?
Eliminate support staff;
"common curriculum";
"common start times";
"common menus commonly prepared for commoners";
"class size does not matter";
reduction in programs (particularly alternative)...
My prediction is a streamlined, formulaic, standardized, single-outcome ("college-ready" whatever that means) system that ignores the differentiation in programs and students, the inquiry-based learning that values exploration and personal connection, the plethora of supports and programs that address the different needs of different children...

"Teaching is dead."

Welcome to the factory model.

Charlie Mas said...

I didn't want to mention it, but Director Chow was angry at her Board colleagues for asking questions about the bell-time changes. She accussed them of picking at it and said that if they voted against it that they would have to find some other way to save $2.2 million in the budget.

At the meeting of the closure vote, Director Chow admonished her Board colleagues not to try to change the plan because the staff had been all over the numbers and had it all worked out.

What does she think the Board job is?

It is appropriate and necessary for the Board to review the Superintendent’s decisions to confirm that they comply with state law, Board Policy, the District’s Vision and Goals, and the Strategic Plan. Aside from these regulatory concerns, the Board should review the superintendent’s decisions to confirm that they are data-based, built on sound rationale, and reflect best practices. That’s their job. It is also the accountability that the Superintendent welcomes and wants.

Director Chow is not only a proud rubber-stamp, she wants the other Board members to be proud rubber stamps as well. No wonder she has never - not in three years on the Board - voted against a staff proposal.

ArchStanton said...

Tom Bishop from Transportation [...] When asked about community engagement he acknowledged - in a stunning bit of understatement - that they were a bit behind with it.

BWAAH-HAAH-HA! (sorry, I can't help myself, here) maybe they could try some radical approach like, I dunno, maybe COMMUNICATING?!

Welcome to the factory model.


TechyMom said...

Please, Please, Please run against Director Chow.