Five Do the Right Thing for Kids “Board Watchers” attend­ed the 10/26 meet­ing. This, the sec­ond meet­ing of the month, was the “busi­ness meet­ing” where offi­cial actions such as approval of con­tracts takes place. All stand­ing board mem­bers were present. Carl Evans, who is run­ning unop­posed for the vacant posi­tion, was invit­ed to sit with the Board. Our reports are aimed at inform­ing the pub­lic about the Board’s and District’s progress in address­ing aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment and oth­er issues relat­ed to accred­i­ta­tion.

Preceding the offi­cial start­ing time of the meet­ing two “Scholar Superstar” school groups gave per­for­mances for the audi­ence and board mem­bers present. Board Watchers thought this was a use­ful way to rec­og­nize stu­dents while sav­ing meet­ing time. We believe that such pre­sen­ta­tions should focus on exam­ples of aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment. One pub­lic speak­er, Kent Kahill, spoke elo­quent­ly about the fail­ure of some par­ents to nour­ish and sup­port their stu­dents and the need for more effort on the part of the District to edu­cate par­ents in par­ent­ing skills. Andrea Flinders, pres­i­dent of the teach­ers union, spoke about teach­ers being over­whelmed with new pro­grams, meet­ings, pro­ce­dures and oth­er man­dates from the admin­is­tra­tion.

We observed that this meet­ing pro­ceed­ed very much like pre­vi­ous busi­ness meet­ings, with no urgency or strong focus on strate­gies nec­es­sary to achieve accred­i­ta­tion or deal with the prob­a­ble upcom­ing shrink­ing of enroll­ment and the bud­get. Very lit­tle direct dis­cus­sion of aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment. We won­der whether over use of the Policy Governance board man­age­ment sys­tem is lead­ing the Board toward a pas­sive and reac­tive role in the District’s gov­er­nance at a time when strong lead­er­ship is need­ed.

We are struck with how dif­fi­cult it is for the audi­ence to under­stand what is going on. A sin­gle screen in the front of the room shows pow­er point pre­sen­ta­tions with fig­ures too small to be read by most of the audi­ence. Documents are dis­cussed that the audi­ence has not had access to. Presenters to the Board have their backs to the audi­ence. The expe­ri­ence of those present is more that of pas­sive observ­er than stake­hold­er.

The need for alter­na­tive edu­ca­tion sites is appar­ent from the num­ber of stu­dents who are caus­ing trou­ble in the mid­dle and high schools because they are not equipped intel­lec­tu­al­ly or social­ly to ben­e­fit from and con­tribute to reg­u­lar school set­tings. Information about progress in devel­op­ing alter­na­tive edu­ca­tion options was request­ed by board mem­bers. The staff pre­sen­ta­tion was very gen­er­al with few specifics about num­bers of stu­dents to be served, the scope of the prob­lem, etc . Nor was there much demon­stra­tion of con­cern about the prob­lem or com­mit­ment to solve it.
A num­ber of pro­grams and pack­ages are in the process of being devel­oped or installed, but lit­tle detail about them was giv­en.

As is usu­al­ly the case, the report by Dr. Lee-Gwin on the finan­cial sit­u­a­tion was clear and use­ful. She clear­ly has a good grasp of the bud­get and the fis­cal con­trol pro­ce­dures nec­es­sary for the District to pay its bills in the short term. There was no dis­cus­sion about the fact that if the District con­tin­ues to expe­ri­ence shrink­age in enroll­ment the finan­cial sit­u­a­tion will become more dif­fi­cult.

The inci­dent of shots fired at a school bus after a foot­ball game was asked about. Staff expla­na­tions of the late report­ing of the inci­dent seemed vague. Nor was the much assur­ance to con­cerned par­ents that strong mea­sures are in place to pre­vent sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions in the future.

Do the Right Thing for Kids will con­tin­ue to mon­i­tor KCMSD School Board meet­ings and report our obser­va­tions on this Website.

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

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