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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 52 ~ Jan. 15, 2003

Well, I'm pretty sympathetic about the situation the district is in at the moment. Monrovia, and all the other public school districts, face budget cuts from the state. Exactly how large a percentage cut this will be, I don't know, but I'm sure it is no fun squeezing pennies. Actually, considerably more than pennies. Glad it's not my job.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad@sacklunch.net)

BUDGET ~ Chief Business Officer Linda Dempsey said there is "more than a possibility for current-year budget cuts." And cuts for the following year. The cuts, she said, could touch the class-size reduction programs, adult education, ROP (Regional Occupational Program, or something like that), and other stuff I didn't catch. "The total dollar amount," she said, "is expected not to be there for these years." Uhhh. I think what she's getting at is that the total dollar amount is going to be less.

EXIT ~ Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Joel Shawn reported that 73 percent of Monrovia high school students have passed the math portion of the required high school exit exam, 96 percent have passed the English portion, and 46 percent have passed both. That doesn't sound too good, but I think it actually is, since the students have multiple opportunities to pass the tests before graduation time and I'm sure some haven't even taken the exam yet.

PAT ~ I was really impressed with a presentation on PAT, the Pro Active Tutoring program. Although I could fuss about the term "pro active" (professional active?), the program sounds outstanding. It involves both middle schools and is open to "at risk" students, those with at least two Fs. It is staffed by 24 tutors, including Maryknoll sisters and Citrus college students. Money for the program comes from grants from the federal government and state. Here's the impressive part: For Clifton, there were drops from 80 to 12 in the number of at-risk students. I wasn't quick enough to catch all the numbers from Santa Fe, but the drops were equally dramatic. Very encouraging report by retired school counselor Harold Freyermuth, who heads the program.

WOOF ~ Congratulations to the green-and-white crew ("woof, woof, woof"), the Monrovia High Varsity Football team, the latest Rio Hondo League Champs and CIF Division X Quarter Finalists. And congrats also to Monrovia High teacher, Patrick Hooven, the recipient of the Seaver Award for 2002-03. He got $2,000 to spend any old way he likes. If I understood the bio correctly, Hooven started in 1970 teaching Social Science and English. He also coached basketball and is president of Monrovia Teacher's Association. Hooven, a psychology teacher, left everyone with one thought: "Just because a message may not be received, that doesn't mean it isn't worth sending." Maybe that's a word of encouragement for me.

UNSTUDY ~ President Frances Cash said that in the study session preceding the regular session the board reviewed Governor Davis' budget proposal and developed a list for local legislators of things that she said would help the district live with the upcoming state budget. Well, that's nice, but I thought study sessions were - legally - just for studying, and specifically *not* for taking actions. I'm all for figuring out how to live with the budget, but how this was done bugs me. If this meets the letter of the law, I don't think it meets the spirit of the law.

MUNCH ~ The district received a number of cash gifts, including one for $236.36 from Teri & Yaki Chicken House as the proceeds from "Munch Across Monrovia." Shucks. I missed that. Speaking of munching in Monrovia, I tried that Opera Caffe, or whatever it's called, just a few doors up Myrtle from the theater. Really good!

YELLOW ~ The board approved Jan. 20-24 as Yellow Ribbon Week, which encourages schools to work against "campus crime and violence."

DISCARDING ~ I get a letter: "I recently pulled my kids out of private school and put them at Clifton and Wildrose, respectively. My reasons are personal, but my kids are now in 'the system.' I just generated an extra 28K for MUSD, so they're happy, I'm sure. Observation: a seventh grade math teacher doesn't check the weekly homework, kids just bring it in and if they do two-thirds of it, it's counted as complete. Then, she 'discards' it. She doesn't grade it or give it back! This worries me. Unless a student has a question about a particular problem and raises their hand for help, she doesn't address the other problems... I'm too new to question this teacher's M.O., though."

THE AGENDA ~ In response to my comment last time that the topics of study sessions and meeting are never publicized, I had one person write to say that the meetings are announced, as required by law. Absolutely. True. They are. But the agenda is not. In other words, it is fairly easy to find out when the board meets. But what it will be talking about not publicized. My correspondent tells me the agenda is available by e-mail (I've just had that confirmed). Okay, so why have I never heard any mention of this from the board or on the district Web site, or anywhere? The writer suggests that the real problem is lack of parental involvement. Perhaps so, but who's stupid enough to go to a board meeting when you don't know what it's about? Well, I am, but I mean aside from me. Hey board! How about announcing this agenda-by-email service to the rest of Monrovia?

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular Monrovia school board meeting is on Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

Copyright (c) 2003, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web somewhere.