The first meet­ing of the month is des­ig­nat­ed a work­shop in which admin­is­tra­tive staff mem­bers make pre­sen­ta­tions to the Kansas City Public School Board about var­i­ous aspects of the organization’s oper­a­tion.  These meet­ings often pro­vide as much infor­ma­tion about the staff’s work as that of the board.  Observations by Board Watchers about the meet­ing and its impli­ca­tions for the district’s progress fol­low.

The improved visu­al and sound tech­nol­o­gy is appre­ci­at­ed.  The audi­ence can now hear oral pre­sen­ta­tions and see one of the four screens from any­where in the room.  Fine tun­ing to pro­vide larg­er print and few­er lines per page will make infor­ma­tion eas­i­er to com­pre­hend. 

The ques­tion cube is an inter­est­ing idea, but our observers found it some­what prob­lem­at­ic.   Those of us who sent ques­tions got no response.  In order to avoid the appear­ance of inter­est groups hav­ing spe­cial access, per­haps some­one oth­er than the board chair should receive and sort the ques­tions. Index cards need to be pro­vid­ed for those who do not text.

As usu­al, we were impressed with the pre­sen­ta­tion on finances.  This aspect of the dis­trict seems to be oper­at­ing well except that there were a num­ber of unan­swered ques­tions about enroll­ment and atten­dance fig­ures.  We con­tin­ue to be con­cerned about the board’s role in ade­quate­ly mon­i­tor­ing expen­di­tures.  For exam­ple, do we know how the $6.2 mil­lion for the African Centered Education cam­pus will be spent?  We are also con­cerned about enroll­ment pro­jec­tions giv­en what we know about new char­ter schools, stu­dents already mov­ing to sur­round­ing dis­tricts and pos­si­ble court deci­sions open­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties for more trans­fers. 

We are con­cerned about the ear­ly child­hood pro­grams.  Our sources tell us that cer­ti­fied teach­ers are being replaced by teach­ers with asso­ciate degrees.  With the nation­al focus on prepar­ing preschool­ers to read, is this a good idea? If fis­cal restraints neces­si­tate staff cuts should the dis­trict not be pro­vid­ing cur­ric­u­la based on best prac­tices along with staff super­vi­sion?  

One observ­er asked, “What is the board’s pur­pose, again?”  Is it lead­ing or fol­low­ing?  We see a focus on aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment at the ver­bal lev­el but less evi­dence of basic turn­around behav­ior in class­room teach­ing.

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

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