The January, 2012 KCPS School Board meet­ing was list­ed as a reg­u­lar busi­ness meet­ing; how­ev­er, much of the meet­ing con­sist­ed of staff pre­sen­ta­tions and cer­e­mo­ni­al activ­i­ties includ­ing stu­dent recog­ni­tions and an award to the board. More effi­cient sched­ul­ing and time man­age­ment could have pre­vent­ed the meet­ing from being adjourned at 9:00 pm with­out com­plet­ing the busi­ness of the board.

Staff pre­sen­ta­tions involved how to mea­sure achieve­ment, how to demon­strate progress and com­mit­tees to be estab­lished with much less focus on what con­crete steps are being tak­en, how to improve read­ing in the ear­ly grades and in oth­er ways define what progress is. The dis­cus­sion sound­ed like a board with a good deal of time and resources under­tak­ing a long-term improve­ment program—not a turn­around plan for a sys­tem in cri­sis. Board mem­bers’ com­ments tend­ed to be dif­fuse and ori­ent­ed to per­son­al inter­ests rather than focus­ing sharply on mea­sures to regain accred­i­ta­tion.   Many sta­tis­tics that we have seen before were pre­sent­ed, but there was lit­tle infor­ma­tion about the cur­rent sta­tus on spe­cif­ic achieve­ment vari­ables.  Volunteers who serve in schools were some­what sur­prised to hear the inter­im super­in­ten­dent say that pri­ma­ry lev­el stu­dents are not pro­mot­ed with­out req­ui­site read­ing skills. If so, why are so many ele­men­tary stu­dents read­ing below grade lev­el?  

It was men­tioned that stu­dents attend­ing stu­dent cen­tered learn­ing schools were regrouped into grade lev­els to take the acu­ity tests–different class­rooms, teach­ers and class­mates.  Instability in the class­room is prob­a­bly not a good way to improve test scores.  Several com­ments fol­lowed to the effect that the dis­trict is ahead of the state in its learn­ing strate­gies, and the state is empha­siz­ing the wrong things and needs to catch up to the dis­trict.   To the observers these com­ments sound­ed like ratio­nal­iza­tions.

Consent agen­da items were approved with­out dis­cus­sion, as is stan­dard pro­ce­dure.  Some $16.5 mil­lion in expen­di­tures were autho­rized with­out any details.   Members of the pub­lic have lit­tle infor­ma­tion about what is actu­al­ly being spent and for what pur­pose.   We are asked to assume that prop­er admin­is­tra­tive con­trols are in place.  With the district’s prob­lem­at­ic his­to­ry with con­tracts and employ­ment this assump­tion seems some­what risky.

All in all, the observers saw a board and admin­is­tra­tors focus­ing on details and struc­tures rather than grap­pling with the seri­ous prob­lems that have caused the loss of accred­i­ta­tion. Specifically, why is ade­quate learn­ing not tak­ing place in the class­rooms?

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

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