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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 19 ~ Jan. 30, 2001

Let's call it generic news this time. General stuff about education. General stuff about energy. Oh yes! Suddenly, comparative rankings have been rehabilitated.
~ Brad Haugaard (

EDUCATION WEEK ~ California schools are doing sorta okay and not-so-okay in Education Week magazine's annual State of the States report, which compares education by states. According to Superintendent Louise Taylor, the National Assessment of Educational Progress ranked California's schools as doing poorly in reading, math and writing - 36th of 39 in fourth grade reading and 29th of 40 in 8th grade math. (It is true that there are still 50 states, but apparently some states didn't have this information.) The state did better in teacher quality (we got a C+), 19th among all the states. We also were ranked rottenly (is that a word?) in the Adequate Resources category, 47th of 50 (see, there are 50 states), and finally, to bottom it all off, we rank dead last (50th) in the number of computers per student (we have 14.8 students per computer versus a national average of 9.8). Weird, huh? Here we are the computer capital of the world and our students have the least access to computers.

AN OBSERVATION ~ Remember in the last issue how the board dismissed the comparative school rankings recently released by the state? (Monrovia's scores, as you may recall, were so-so at best.) Taylor said those results were "not that informative" and Board President Roger Graziani seconded her comment and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn said the district "has no control over its rankings; it can only control it's improvement." Hmmm. I find it odd that comparative rankings, which were invalid two weeks ago when they struck close to home, are now suddenly valid. What happened?

SMART MOVE ~ The district made a wise move some time ago by not taking Southern California Edison up on its promise of lower electricity rates in return for turning off the power during shortages. Apparently some districts that took advantage of the deal have been slammed with huge fines for not shutting down during the current crunch. Business Director Linda Dempsey said Monrovia decided against the plan because it didn't seem like a good idea to run the risk of having to turn the air conditioning off on hot summer days. Now it turns out to have been a good economic decision as well. "Thank goodness we made the right choice on that one," Board VP Bruce Carter said.

SAVING ~ To save electricity, Dempsey said the district has turned off half the lights in the district office, no longer leaves computers on overnight, has been putting air conditioning on timers, put newly installed lighting on sensors, is replacing air conditioning filters on a regular schedule, has been installing energy efficient lights, installed tinted windows on the west-facing windows at Monroe school, and will be sending home an energy conservation letter to parents. (I don't think all this has been done since the energy crunch, but hey! that some of it was done earlier shows foresight.)

OPEN HOUSE ~ Here are the dates for open house:
~ Bradoaks Elementary, Tuesday, May 29, 6:30 p.m.
~ Canyon Early Learning Center, Monday, April 30 (Pre-K, 6-7 p.m.; Kindergarten (6:30-7:30 p.m.)
~ Canyon Oaks High, Thursday, April 12, 7 p.m.
~ Clifton Middle, Wednesday, April 4, 6:30 p.m.
~ Mayflower Elementary, Wed.-Fri., April 4-6, "Mayflower Daze." Classroom visits during school day. Barbecue lunch April 4 at 11:30 a.m.
~ Monroe Elementary, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 6:30 p.m.
~ Monrovia High, Wednesday, April 11, 6:30 p.m.
~ Plymouth Elementary, Wednesday, July 10, 6:30 p.m.
~ Santa Fe Middle, To Be Announced
~ Wild Rose Elementary, Thursday, May 24, 6:30 p.m.

HONOREES ~ The School Board and the Chamber of Commerce honored the district's lead groundskeeper, Jim Brown, and teacher Gwen Graber, of Mayflower Elementary. Superintendent Louise Taylor said Brown "doesn't accept mediocrity," and, surprise, surprise, his hobby is topiary. Apparently a few examples of his sculpted plants are planted in front of Wild Rose School. Mayflower Principal Gayle Grant said Graber is a super teacher, and an expert in language arts. Her nomination for the award was apparently signed by the whole Mayflower staff, which also sang a song in her honor to the tune of Jingle Bells.

OPEN COURT ~ In a brief comment (that I'll try to bulk up a little bit by rambling along pointlessly for a minute about our dog, which kept me awake for 20 minutes last night by a marathon bout of sneezing) Superintendent Taylor said the Open Court reading program is "moving along very well." That's it. I told you it was a brief comment. But if you're interested in the program, there's going to be a study session about it at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the district office.

TWO CARS ~ The district is back to getting gifts of cars again. I guess the Monrovia High Auto Shop must fix them and sell them, or something. Otherwise, where do they put the things? Anyway, this time the auto shop got an '86 Honda and an '86 Oldsmobile. That's probably my old Honda! Is it blue?

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ If you are interested in the Open Court reading program, there'll be a study session prior to the regular board meeting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28. That's two board meetings from now. The next meeting is on Feb. 14, 2001 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

Copyright (c) 2001, Brad Haugaard