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Monday, July 04, 2011

Board Agenda for Wednesday

If you wish to speak on the Board agenda on Wednesday, the 6th, be sure to call 252-0040 and leave your name, phone number, e-mail address and topic you wish to speak on.

The agenda has several interesting items of note. 
  • one is a renewal of an agreement with Microsoft for software.  There is one puzzling item which I'm sure someone here can explain to me.  "Allows District staff access to the most current version of MS Office for home use."  Does that mean so they can take it home?  Work from home?  
  • a huge item - approval of the budgets.  General Fund for $577,741,503; ASB for $4.4M; Debt Service fund for $85M and Capital Projects fund for $101M.  Adding all those up you get roughly $770M.  That's a lot of dough.
  • Final vote on the attendance policy.
The change I see is this:

This motion has been discussed at the 5/23/2011 and 6/27/2011 meetings of the Curriculum &
Instruction Policy Committee. On 5/236/27/2011, after this item had been introduced, the
Committee recommended the following revisions to the Superintendent Procedure:  Clarify that
educational trips are allowed to be excused and that principals have the final say on whether a
planned absence is excused. The Committee recommended changes have been made in track
changes in the attached document.  With these changes, the C&I Policy Committee then
reviewed the motion and recommended that the item move forward to be reviewed by the
entire board.
  (color theirs)

So really, it's up to your principal to decide if your idea of a trip is valid.

It is also noted that they contacted the Seattle Council PTSA to review this policy and submit comments.  I know at the Committee meeting they had not heard back from them so I don't know if any SCPTSA comments were ever received.
  • There is also an item to buy 725 new Macs.  However the numbers on the Apple quote don't match up with what the agenda item says.  And, the quote is higher than the amount on the agenda item so I don't quite know what to make of this one.
  • approval of Wallace Foundation grant.  This one is troubling to me although, on the surface, it sounds like a good idea.  As I previously reported, it is for $1M (with the City) to support arts.  I was at the Committee meeting where this was discussed and this $1M is only for a 19-month planning period.  If approved by the Foundation, then the district would get more money for its plan.  What I find troubling is that extra staff will have to be hired (3-4) to administer just the planning phase.  The item states that they would get money from various sources but also from SPS academic assurance budgets and Visual and performing arts staff.  I'm sorry but what gets loss if the planning money goes that way? 
Staff makes this statement with no backup - Failure to approve the Wallace Foundation Arts       Learning Initiative Grant will result in a significant delay in our ability to increase students' access to quality arts learning.  

Why is that?  I don't know.  But here's the line we always hear:  The Wallace grant will provide us the internal capacity (through consultants) to significantly accelerate our work towards an equitable arts system and aligned resources.  Always with the consultants.

There is one item on Teach for America but I want to address that in a separate post. 

11 comments:

Terrence J. Menage, Ed.D. said...

I realize this is off-topic, but wanted to do my best communicating a related announcement. As I had publicly announced my candidacy for the District II position on the Board of Directors, I believe it appropriate to use this valuable blog to announce the suspension of my campaign. My hopes are that the good people who are concerned about the future of public schools in our city will continue their work and use of this blog to debate/discuss important issues.

It is my intention to continue serving as an advocate and supporter of learners and learning as well as teachers and teaching. Future plans also include working with others to clean up district headquarters and improving our public schools. Wishing all a glorious and Happy 4th of July.

Best wishes,

Terrence

Chris S. said...

Thanks Terrence, for putting you hat in the ring. I am sure you will continue to raise issues and work to daylight the inadequacies of the incumbents.

North Seattle said...

The Microsoft Home Use Program is at http://www.microsofthup.com/hupus/home.aspx?culture=en-US The University of Washington has an agreement for staff to enroll and pay for it if they choose to. Sounds to me like this program is being rolled into the Microsoft EES for District staff.

MathTeacher42 said...

I bought a copy of MS office for use at home for ... ten bucks? I'm happy.

IF I had read all the legal mumbo jumbo I had to agree to, and IF I could understand it,

it was probably giving them the right to hang me out to dry if I sent the copy to some offshore bootleg hacker site ??

oh well.

R. Murphy

dj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dj said...

I will give the board credit, in that I emailed them about the attendance issue, and more than one member emailed me back to respond to my concerns; to express that the were changing the language to include educational field trips; and to indicate that my email was being circulated to the whole board.

The language change does "fix" my problem, but I am still not sure why the district wants to put a school principal or anyone, really, other than me, as a parent, in charge of deciding whether or not a particular trip has sufficient value to warrant an excused absence. What is the evidence that this is a problem?

dan dempsey said...

DJ,

I would like to know if following the money, might clarify the reason for this change.

Is average daily attendance now determining state funding for schools?

If so this looks like a move to increase average daily attendance. I do not know but ... following the money often explains "odd" actions by the SPS.

Carol S. said...

I am testifying tomorrow re the proposed revision to the attendance policy. I am requesting that the policy not be changed. Short family trips are currently excused and the proposed revision would state that short family trips would be counted as unexcused absences. This revision would penalize students, parents and teachers as a certain number of unexcused absences lead to suspensions for non-attendance, and loss of course credit. Families should have the right to take their children on family trips without their children being penalized.

mirmac1 said...

What!? Cordell Carter on the separation list again?! He's like a cat with nine lives. Doesn't it make you feel good he's been collecting his paycheck all this time while doing absolutely NOTHING!

Charlie Mas said...

I notice that the Board is being asked to approve the Highly Capable Student Program grant application without being provided with a copy of the grant application.

How can the Board approve a document that they are not allowed to see? What basis would they have for either approving or rejecting it?

cascade said...

KUOW just now had a piece on the meeting tonight. Featured Sundquist defending salary raises downtown.

Glad Phyllis Fletcher at KUOW chooses to cover SPS.