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Sunday, April 24, 2011

April Executive Committee Meeting

The information comes from the April 13th meeting of the Executive Committee.  The three Committee members - DeBell, Sundquist and Smith-Blum -  were in attendance.

There were a couple of Superintendent updates, mostly around the staff presentations.  Michael asked that if one presentation was longer, could the others pare back their remarks to keep the Board meetings from falling behind.  Dr. Enfield said yes.

They then went over the agendas for the upcoming Board meetings in May.

May 4th
There will be a public hearing during this meeting for the Board resolution to support the Families & Education levy.   There was a lot of discussion over how much time they have to give to the pro and con side; no one seemed to recall the exact wording of the law.  DeBell suggested asking the Washington Policy Center if they had a con side.  The Mayor and Councilman Tim Burgess had expressed an interest in testifying.  There was also discussion about whether public testimony in the regular Board meeting could be used as part of the testimony for the public hearing on the levy.

There was also a question of whether there is to be a public hearing about the RIFs.  It was unclear to me why they thought they might have to do so but it was brought up.

Michael asked about reductions in staff if there are enrollment predictions that enrollment will continue to climb throughout the district.  He said he didn't want a repeat, on a bigger scale, of what happened last fall at Garfield.  He stated, "We need to have this one well in hand and I will not vote for something that is not well-thought out."  Good for him.

One issue that crossed my mind is that while Tracy is saying we can't look at historical data for predicting enrollment (based on her belief that it is data from the old student assignment plan), then her still-held but again based on the old enrollment plan assumption that the number of students enrolled on paper doesn't not translate to who shows up on opening day, should also be challenged.  How does she know, under the NSAP that all those enrolled won't show up?  Or show up in numbers far greater than the old plan?

The TIF contract will be part of the May 4th agenda.

Kay asked about the introduction of the high school science instructional materials and what about the science courses that may need validation to count for graduation.  Susan Enfield explained that the validation is not part of the science materials adoption.

Michael said that he felt the Board was supposed to offer guiding principles around course of study.  Holly Ferguson said it doesn't call for that every time.  Michael said he felt they needed to have a record of how staff used the Board's guiding principles in their decision-making.  Holly said they can speak to that in the Intro for this item.  Michael was firm on his need to see Board principles being used for guide staff decisions.

There is also to be an intro item about student fees and charges which should have info on Pay for Play, Pay for K, etc.  This might be one to follow.

There was also a general announcement about there not being any SPS summer school offered this year.  They mentioned the school calendars for 2011-2012 and 2012-13 and same that they may be shortening Mid-Winter break from a whole week to maybe 2 days (coming off or on a weekend).  Apparently there has been some discussion with the SEA around this issue.  Michael said that they need to make this change as it has been discussed for some time now.

Dorothy was at this meeting so maybe she can help me out here.  I believe the Superintendent has switched her update topic so at the May 4th School Board meeting it will be about MAP and at the May 18th meeting it will be about middle school.

Kay expressed concern over an Intro item on the May 18th agenda for the OSPI Technology Action Plan (which they have to have to maintain compliance for Title II, Part D and other funding issues).  She said it hasn't been discussed yet in Curriculum & Instruction and yet it's an Intro item.  Susan said it was a compliance issue but that it should be shown to the committee first.  

Susan talked about the partnering with the City.  She said there had been a confirmation for both facilities and demographics help.  Michael said they needed long-range planning coordination with the City over issues like  the building at Yesler Terrace and then what that development would that mean to the district's planning. 

Here's where it got interesting.  They got into a discussion for something new for Work Sessions and/or committees; community partner participation.   They listed PASS, SEA, Special Ed PTSA and Local 609 as partners but they could/would be more.  The Board would decide who gets to give input.  The Director chairing the event would have discretion for altering the agenda and rules of participation.  Anyone who did not follow the rules might not be asked to the table again. 

They might offer questions prior to the meeting.  They might offer input/commentary at the Work Session.  (I get the feeling that there isn't to be advocacy for a position but rather offer a different or wider view.)   The Chair of the event would let staff know if any community partner(s) are participating.

Holly Ferguson expressed concern over staff not getting their allotted time for their presentations.  Michael broke in to say "It's the Board's time, not staff's time."  He said he wanted to hear from folks affected by an issue during the discussions and not always after the fact.  The idea seems to try to have a wider view of an issue and get questions/issues addressed at the time of the discussion.  Susan also seemed concerned but Michael said it might just be staff addressing questions submitted.  Susan asked about a model of this in another district and Michael said he knows it was done previously in SPS.  Kay said she thought this might good to seek outside input.

I was again impressed by Michael's steady push on what the Board wants to see and not just what staff wants to present.

There was also a presentation by Kay about getting more from the Work Sessions.  From her info sheet, "Seeing the 'universe' would be the first step for any Board looking to create policy that will enhance and create flexibility for change."

The proposal was a shortening of the Work Session (from 2 hrs to 1 1/2 hr - good luck with that), bringing in various experts with a summary of trends, best practices, etc.  Then discussion with staff about the possibilities of what that might look like for SPS and what other districts are doing, etc.  This is all very rough but I think it is a good direction for the Board to go to get more out the Work Sessions.  Michael seemed happy with this and Steve was mostly silent.

(Michael also referenced a next Board retreat where someone from the Alliance is going to be guiding them on governance issues.  I'll have check into that one.)

They are also getting a RFP for a search firm to hire the new COO/CFO.  It hurts to spend money like this but maybe we'll get people who know how to Google someone as well as ask outloud what issues - ethical and otherwise - they have in their past work history.

There was also a sheet about handling public testimony questions and issues.  It states, "Senior staff determines what is 'substantive' and needs a response."  I believe the Board will get a cheerful earful from people who feel their questions/issues are being dismissed but that's for the Board to find out.  The Board office would maintain a spreadsheet to track the questions and responses.

I will try to find all these handouts and give links.

5 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

"The Board office would maintain a spreadsheet to track the questions and responses."

About four years ago, at Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's first Board meeting, the superintendent committed to doing this. It was, in fact, her first promise. Of course she failed to fulfill it.

Charlie Mas said...

Someone on the Board needs to say it outloud and in public:

Why don't the enrollment projections for capacity match the enrollment projections for budgets?

Chris S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris S. said...

Melissa, I like your comment about Tracy. A good corollary to "everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts" (attrib. Moynihan) might be "everyone is entitled to their own logic but it must be applied consistently."

dan dempsey said...

"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data."

..... Why don't the enrollment projections for capacity match the enrollment projections for budgets?

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The above question can join the enormous list of questions that are never answered by District leadership ..... most of those unanswered questions precede extremely poor decisions.

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Hopefully someone on the Board will ask the question: Why don't the enrollment projections for capacity match the enrollment projections for budgets?

before the next pathetic decision.