The Kansas City Public School staff workshop meeting on December 5 included presentations on academic readiness and student engagement/motivation: components of student engagement, safety and security, and the role of teachers. Professional development on how to motivate students will be scheduled. DTRTFK observers hope that this will be more than lectures on motivation. Motivating students and teachers is a much more complex and challenging process than simply talking about motivation. It has to do with the culture, leadership, rewards and other factors.
Jerry Kitzie has been hired to coordinate pre-school programs, a positive development. Vickie Morello spoke to the board about learning readiness.
The December 19 business meeting began with 40 minutes devoted to recognizing Scholar Superstars and employee team awards. Andrea Flinders, president of the teachers union, spoke about the student safety discussion presented during the previous board meeting expressing concern that the role of teachers and teacher safety was not adequately addressed. Tom Love complimented the board about the hiring of reading interventionists. It is still not clear about the special qualifications of the individuals, their training, and roles. Michael Sherman discussed new efforts to deal more effectively with students with educational disabilities.
Mr. Tunis presented the district’s current financial picture which will be sound when year-end tax money is disbursed. Approval was given for over $2 million in purchases and contracts. It is as a good sign that the board has a treasurer; hopefully he is able to analyze expenditures and communicate issues and questions to other board members. The board is appropriately concerned about the 4-way stops replacing traffic lights at intersections near schools; this is a significant safety issue, especially when students must cross four lanes of traffic.
We do not get a sense of urgency and dynamic leadership on the part of either the board or administration in mounting a strong turnaround effort. What we do get is a feeling of “ownership” of the district by board and constituents.
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