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.

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