Monday, October 18, 2010

Meetings this Week

Director Maier has a community meeting tomorrow morning (the 19th) from 10-11:30 a.m at Lake City Public Library. It seems he may be jockeying with Director Sundquist for president of the School Board. Ask him why he thinks he should be president. (Also, if anyone knows of any good candidates for District 1 - Mr. Maier's seat, please let me know at sss.westbrook@gmail.com. It is always good for every incumbent to have a challenger if only to have a more well-rounded race.)

Before the Board meeting there will be a Work Session on "Test Scores." Sounds interesting especially in light of our discussion over MAP scores. They might also discuss Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's interesting comment that maybe some schools might only need to take MAP twice a year or only certain groups of students might need to take MAP 3 times a year. The meeting is from 4-5:30 p.m.

Board meeting on Wednesday night so sign up now if you want to be on the Speakers list. (They have, in the last couple of meetings, moved people off the waiting list so don't give up if you don't make the main list.) Interesting items:

- release of the superintendent and board evaluation instruments

- the sale of the MLK, Jr. property to First AME church (Interesting thing I just learned is that our former head of Facilities, Fred Stephens, was a member of First AME all during these discussions. I have no idea if he ever recused himself from any discussions around this issue but he should have given this is a capital issue and he was the head of Facilities. Also interesting is that the contract is not with the item.)

- Audit response. A couple of funny things here like under Best Practices -"It is best practice to run the school district in such a manner that the district does not receive audit findings." Yes, and the Auditor has been trying to tell the district this for a long time. It might take a levy failure to get that message across. The other funny item is that under Community Engagement it says, "As with the Board Committees, there was no specific engagement around this Resolution.
However, the Board has discussed responses to the audits in numerous public meetings." You'll note that (1) the Board was silent almost all summer on this issue (2) "the Board discussed" and that was with who? Each other? That doesn't count. At a few community meetings? Very lame on this one.

- the IT department will get resolution on a proposal to pilot "virtual" desktops. They will $2.5M for a contract with a company to pilot this "School Technology Equity Plan (STEP). Basically, it should, in the long run, be cheaper to have one central server and virtual desktops (rather than every school have one and replacing hardware desktops). I asked my husband (Dr. Computer Science) and he seems to think this sounds good. What makes me very worried is that concurrent with this is a Data Center Disaster Recovery plan. Director Martin-Morris has wanted this for a long time and I just don't see why this is taking so long. It is vital to this district to have a back-up plan (VAX, anyone) for our data. The item says,

"At the conclusion of successful Pilot phases, a rollout proposal we will brought back to
the Board along with a status report of Data Center disaster recovery planning." Problem is the pilot phase is 36 months. I'm hoping that we have a disaster recovery plan in less than 36 months. You think the audit was a disaster? Wait and see what would happen if our data system failed with no off-site backup. (Update: I did get a call from IT and the pilot program is 6 months and so the data system disaster backup plan will be planned and ready for the Board to sign off on by then. This was not entirely made clear in the agenda item so I'm glad I checked. There is money in BTA III for this project so we can hope by the end of this school year, our district will have its data backed up and off-site for safety.)

- approval of the "alternative learning experience program policies of Cleveland, Homeschool Resource Center, Interagency, Middle College and Nova." Naturally the policies are not yet posted but Charlie? What's this about?

-an interesting item on Board policies on "appeals of Board-adopted and supplementary materials". What is interesting is how the new policy works:

The proposed new procedure aligns with our current system in a number of ways. First, the
procedure is linked directly to the policy (C 21.00) that addresses adoption of materials. Second, the procedure sets forth a clear appeals process, including standards for filing an appeal and a process for the appeal, including timelines for each step in the appeal process.

It is hoped that the majority of complaints about instructional materials can be resolved at the
school level, which is why the first step of an appeal, whether it be for an adopted or
supplementary material is at the principal level. If the complainant is not satisfied at the
principal level, he or she can elevate the appeal to the Chief Academic Officer, who is charged
with pulling together a small committee, including a community member, to evaluate the
complaint and provide the Chief Academic Officer with a recommendation about the complaint.

Note that "community member" on the appeals committee. Interesting.

However, further down it says (italics mine):

"While the policy model we are working under is moving towards creating Superintendent
procedures rather than Board procedures, this procedure is recommended to be a Board
procedure. The reason for this is because part of the procedure relates to Board adopted
materials, and a procedure about a Board action should be a Board adopted procedure. Because
the track for appealing Board adopted and supplementary materials is the same until the Chief
Academic Officer hearing, it made sense to include appeals of both adopted and supplementary
materials in this procedure. "

Superintendent procedures rather than Board procedures, hmmm.

If the complaint is about a supplementary material (supplementary materials are chosen at the school or classroom level, and are not approved by the central office of Board) then the Chief Academic Officer has the final decision. If the complaint is about a Board-adopted material, the complainant can appeal to the Board, and the Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee will make a recommendation to the full Board.

There's an Operations Committee meeting on Thursday from 4-6 pm.

I note that upcoming Work Sessions are about the NSAP and capacity management so stay tuned for that work.


seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

So many interesting things to be discussed at the Board meeting.

For example, the Superintendent's update on the Supplemental Levy. What news could she possibly have? What updated information could she provide the Board? How would that information help them to set policy?

Then comes the CAO's report on high school science alignment. Here we will learn the fate of innovative science classes like Marine Biology at Garfield and the BioTech academy at Ballard. Will they count as science classes towards graduation or will they be electives?

Mr. Kennedy will follow with the latest installment of his audit response. He continues to think that this is about credit cards, payroll systems, and personal service contracts, but it is really about a Wild West culture in which all the rules are personal.

I'll be interested to see the Board's criteria for evaluating the superintendent. I'll be interested to see if it includes things like:
* Followed Policy and the law
* Performed actions as directed by the Board
* Provided the Board and the public with clear, meaningful financial statements
* Provided the Board and the public with clear rationale for decisions
* Maintained positive labor relations

The Board resolution regarding the audit has the sort of verb tense confusion that we often see from the District. For example:

"The district has put into place a number of responses, including:"

The use of the present perfect "has put" might create the illusion that these are completed actions. But when you review the list, the very first one is this:

"The School Board is developing a comprehensive plan to address the audit findings as well as to improve oversight and management of the District overall;"

This doesn't note any action has taken place as yet. They just have good intentions to take some indeterminant action sometime in the indeterminant future. In fact, not even that. They only have good intentions to make a plan to take some indeterminant action sometime in the indeterminant future.

A number of the other items on the list of responses that the District "has put" in place are also agonizingly incomplete.

It's also disturbing that the second item in the list is actually another introduction to the items in the list. It's as if they want credit for making the list as an item on their list of actions.

They have established a team. Good. Has the team met? Has the team made any decisions or taken any action? Who is on the team? What is their authority? What is their charge? There is also an Audit Response Team established by management. Is this a different team than the one established by the Board? Why is this action taken by management on a list of Board actions?

Did you notice that adding oversight work sessions is listed twice? First as "Establishing regular oversight work sessions for the board" and then as "Adding 3-4 “oversight” work sessions" Notice also that these are among the actions intended but not yet taken.

In fact, not one action in this list has actually been taken yet and every item on the list is listed twice. What roomful of monkeys with typewriters wrote this?

Charlie Mas said...

The Board is going to vote on the Technology Equity Plan.

This will cost the District $2.5 million.

So, at the same meeting in which the Board and the District are saying that they need to cut spending on classrooms and schools because they are so poor, they are going to vote to spend $2.5 million dollars on computing in a cloud. That's the highest priority for their spending. Got it.

Note the community engagement: none.

The Alternative Learning Experience plan approval thing will probably go on the consent agenda at the next meeting. These are totally non-controversial. They essentially attest that the four schools that qualify as ALEs under state law promise to meet the requirements of the state law. Like most state law regarding public education they are completely meaningless and totally unenforced.

The First Arnold. said...

Charlie, I agree with you. Spending $2.5M on computers, knowing cuts are coming is ridiculous. Additionally, future state funding looks dim.

peonypower said...

The CAO will give an update on the high school science alignment. Watch our favorite MAP bears for what is happening.
I hope every parent who cares about science education is there.