Six Do The Right Thing for Kids Board Watchers observed the February busi­ness meet­ing and made the fol­low­ing obser­va­tions:

Comments from mem­bers of the board and admin­is­tra­tion seem to indi­cate recog­ni­tion of where pri­or­i­ties need to be: stu­dent achieve­ment and accred­i­ta­tion.

Valerie Watson, pres­i­dent of the Niles Home for Children, explained the prob­lems she has with obtain­ing ade­quate edu­ca­tion sup­port for stu­dents who are res­i­dents of Niles and emo­tion­al­ly, men­tal­ly and behav­ioral­ly chal­lenged. Students are sus­pend­ed from school when they act up. “You can­not obtain schol­ar­ship when you are sit­ting at home.” Ms. Nicholson-Watson request­ed a plan be devel­oped for the future. The dis­trict had its legal rep­re­sen­ta­tives ready to explain that the dis­trict needs court doc­u­men­ta­tion show­ing the Niles Home is the student’s legal guardian. The dis­trict may be abid­ing by the law, but bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the Niles Home and the dis­trict is obvi­ous­ly nec­es­sary. This is an exam­ple of how an insti­tu­tion in cri­sis is unable to main­tain atten­tion to its mis­sion, in this case to serve ALL chil­dren.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson, new­ly appoint­ed inter­im chief aca­d­e­m­ic offi­cer, gave an upbeat report about “the road to accred­i­ta­tion.” She report­ed that prin­ci­pals are accept­ing the charge to be more autonomous in their respon­si­bil­i­ty for stu­dent achieve­ment, and some schools are plan­ning Saturday school, stay­ing in ses­sion over spring break and pro­vid­ing tutor­ing for stu­dents who need extra sup­port. Most strate­gies are tar­get­ed to show­ing improve­ment on the math seg­ment of the MAP test. In spite of focus­ing on test scores and accred­i­ta­tion require­ments, Dr. Anderson said reg­u­lar instruc­tion is still tak­ing place. We hope you observe this in your school.

A one-page sum­ma­ry of the first amend­ment to the fis­cal 2012 bud­get was inter­est­ing but lacked detail. A four-page detailed analy­sis was avail­able on Board Docs. It would have been infor­ma­tive for the board to have addressed details, for exam­ple, an expla­na­tion of the undis­closed amount of the increase in the con­tract to ACECC.

The super­in­ten­dent pro­posed mod­i­fy­ing his finan­cial sign­ing author­i­ty amount from $150,000 to $250,000. Dr. Green said he needs to be able to retain and attract exec­u­tives for staff posi­tions.

It was encour­ag­ing to hear Dr. Green state that mov­ing spend­ing to class­room activ­i­ties is the trend in bud­get plan­ning. Mr. Richey under­scored the empha­sis on not spend­ing mon­ey on the things that do not con­tribute to stu­dent achieve­ment. Mr. Benson apt­ly not­ed that drop-out pre­ven­tion has proven to be inef­fec­tive and expen­sive, in con­trast to ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion which is cheap and effec­tive, and asked that this be con­sid­ered dur­ing the bud­get process.

During board com­ments, there was an embar­rass­ing exchange regard­ing the lack of con­fi­den­tial­i­ty after closed ses­sion meet­ings.

Mr. Rea asked Dr. Green to exam­ine SB590 regard­ing pub­lic schools check­ing and report­ing stu­dents’ immi­gra­tion sta­tus.

View the agenda/minutes of this meet­ing
(will open in a new win­dow).

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