Monday, October 01, 2012

Meet the Superintendent

This week the Superintendent brings his road show to Bryant Elementary School on Monday and to Concord International Elementary School on Tuesday.

Mr. Banda may say that he wants to listen to folks and get to know the District before he starts any new initiatives, but he will, in fact, be starting some. BEX IV is certainly a new initiative. He says that he will not be inactive, but continuing the work that is underway.

The Board, at their retreat, is thinking along the same lines. The work they identified as their highest priority is all continuing work. These include:
  1. Bringing Teacher & Principal Profession Growth & Evaluations (PG&E) to scale
  2. Development of Equitable Access Framework: Phase I
  3. Development & Implementation of Student Support Strategies/MTSS
  4. Replacement Strategic Plan
Still, it would be nice to get a list of that work that Mr. Banda regards as continuing. For example, is the plan to change the delivery of Special Education services continuing or complete? It's not on the Board's list of priorities. And why is the Board listing program placement yet again as a priority when it was one of their priorities last year and no work was done? Why is that new work or even continuing work when it should be completed work? Where is the accountability for that?

The District needs a new Strategic Plan because the old one is in tatters. No one knows what elements of it, if any, are continuing, which have been dropped, or which are - at least officially - completed. Is curriculum aligned yet? Is the recruiting and hiring process fixed now? Do we now have internal financial controls? Is the Board getting all of the reports they are supposed to be getting? Why hasn't there been a quarterly report on the Strategic Plan for over a year?

As you hear Mr. Banda speak about his plan, and as he solicits input on what he should be doing, think about these things. If he is "staying the course", then what course is he staying? Is he staying the course on ICS? How's that working out? Is he staying the course on school segmentation? What help or autonomy are schools getting? Is he staying the course on curricular alignment? Where do we stand on waivers?

With regard to the board's priorities, what will MTSS cost and where will he get the money? Why hasn't the staff been able to come up with a program placement procedure when they were given a whole year to do it? Who is being held accountable for that failure? What procedure was followed for recent program placement decisions (NOVA to Mann, SWS to TT Minor, APP @ Lincoln to Wilson)? How will principal performance be measured and how will they be held accountable? How can he participate in the development of a Strategic Plan while he is listening and learning?


Anonymous said...

Although not a strategic question, I intend to demand to ask how many portables our Bryant school can take, because 3 years ago we were told city zoning laws meant we couldn't have any, but last year the District said we'd be getting 4. So, what is the absolute number of portables Bryant can take?? Also, are we going to have an emergency boundary change this September, the way John Standford had one last year? Families should be told that NOW if it is in the offing, because those of us with more than one child who live near the eastern boundary with Laurelhurst should think about that before we send our child to Kindergarten this September.

And special education, how can that not be the #1 priority considering how unclear leadership has been about the model and about serving students?

-signed SARDINE in Bryant

Charlie Mas said...

I think if I could ask Mr. Banda any question right now it would be this:

Do you feel any obligation to fulfill any of the many broken promises that the District has made to various communities?

If your predecessor had signed a contract, you would feel obligated to fulfill the terms of the contract, wouldn't you? You don't hold contracts with vendors more sacred than promises made to students and communities, do you?

Jon in Bryant said...

I attended the Bryant meeting last night and was struck by Superintendent Banda's repeated message of focus and consistency. He struck me as a capable and thoughtful leader and overall my confidence in him was increased.

Attendees did indeed ask lots of questions about capacity planning (along with Qs about shifting attendance area boundaries). MAP testing worry/frustration featured pretty prominently also. My sense was the room was pretty friendly and glad to have Mr. Banda. (No one asked your question, Charlie.)

I can appreciate the skeptical point of view many here have adopted, since there is much to suggest that Mr. Banda's best intentions may amount to little practical result. At this point though, I would say I have a cautiously optimistic attitude, personally.

mirmac1 said...

Mr Banda seemed much more relaxed than his previous engagements. I didn't feel he was feeding us the same ole song n dance.

I wish there had been more questions related to Concord's concerns. The meeting was well attended and I think the audience felt a connection with Banda.

Charlie Mas said...

That is a welcome report, mirmac1. At the first meeting, Mr. Banda came off as slick, backpedaling, political and defensive. If he's now appearing engaging and authentic that's only good.