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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 53 ~ Feb. 12, 2003

I really don't know why I go to these meetings. They are such a joke. If you go to a Monrovia school board meeting expecting to hear issues discussed, you go in a badly deluded state. Real discussion seldom happens.
~ Brad Haugaard (

PRE-DECIDED ~ What set me off is this. The board had an item on its agenda about electing representatives to the California School Boards Association. They could vote for two out of five candidates. Board member Bruce Carter nominated Monrovia School Board President, Frances Cash, and Lina Harper of the Glendale Unified board. I didn't expect any discussion about Cash, since of course the board would vote for one of its own, but nobody asked anything about Harper. No discussion. Nothing! And there were several other candidates whose resumes looked respectible. Maybe Harper is the best candidate, but how did the Monrovia School Board members know? Is every board member independently familiar with all the other candidates, so much so that nobody even needed to ask a question? I find that hard to believe. And why did nobody try to make a case for Harper? Wouldn't it make sense to do that, unless, of course, you knew that the whole issue had already been decided? It certainly smells that way. I'll assume this was done legally, perhaps a sort-of informal agreement in a study session or something, but regardless of whether it meets the letter of the law, I think it stinks. The public's business, including the discussion leading up to it, should be done out in the main room in front of the camera where the world can watch.

THE AGENDA ~ As I mentioned last time, people are unlikely to go to board meetings if they don't know what they're about. I also mentioned that you can have the agenda sent to you by email, and I suggested that maybe the board should announce that. But since the board seems disinclined to publicize this (It ought to go out as a press release to the local papers and the board prez ought to look the cable TV camera in the eye and announce it), I'll do it. Send an email note to Kris Mariconda at and she'll put you on the list. Of course this means the district will know you read this newsletter (How else would you have known to subscribe? Certainly not through any efforts of its own.) but if that doesn't bother you, go for it.

ME TOO ~ Someone recently wrote to me to say that some teachers are not grading a lot of papers their students turn in. Responding to this another person writes: "I can honestly say that this was the experience I had with many of the classes that my daughters took at Clifton. To be honest, I think it is more common for teachers to do this, than we realize, in any school. There seems to be this inability to have the time to really check homework, cover it in class, leave room for questions, and then return it, in a lot of schools. Nevertheless, I was often frustrated as a parent at Clifton by the lack of follow-through. I would also find English teachers who would refuse to correct grammar or spelling in a written assignment, because the teacher was more interested in my child having an understanding of the writing process. Excuse me? Spelling and grammar have somehow become absent from the writing process?"

ALASKA ~ The district has hired a former Alaska fisherman as director of Alternative Programs. James Tarouilly, who will head up the program for Canyon Oaks and Mountain Park schools, used to own a fishing business in Alaska. He's been back in education for a while, so he's not just going to teach the kids angling. Quite a career change. He'll be starting this month.

RAIN ~ Chief Facilities Officer Clay Hess said that with the rain a school warehouse has been leaking pretty severely, and fixing it will be a "major project." He added that the gym lobby at Monrovia High also got wet, but fortunately not the wood playing floor. Monroe, Canyon Early Learning Center, and Bradoaks also had some minor problems, but all classrooms remained in use. Hess said the problem at the schools was not so much the roof, but drainage. Isn't that exciting? I knew you'd want to hear.

NEW CLASSES ~ The board approved four new drama courses (covering acting, theater literature and history - Greek and Elizbethan periods, screenwriting, technical theater and evaluation/critiquing) and two new statistics courses for Monrovia High School.

BLEAK ~ Chief Business Officer Linda Dempsey painted a bleak picture of the district finances, based on Governor Davis' budget proposal. For the remainder of this fiscal year a 2.15 percent cut, plus cuts to categorical programs and acronyms I don't understand. Then, for the 2003-04 year, no budget increases. Making this tougher is that the district expects enrollment to be down. Schools are paid by the state based on enrollment, so this is not good, except that the district can put off that part of the pain for another year since the state allows districts to claim their money based on the previous year's enrollment if they want.

ENROLLMENT ~ Speaking of enrollment, I thought these numbers were interesting:

Total enrollment
2000-01 6,659
2001-02 6,676
2002-03 6,696
2003-04 6,584 (guesstimated, I assume)

For Kindergarten
2000-01 496
2001-02 466
2002-03 426
2003-04 426

COUNSELORS ~ February School Counselor Recognition Month because they do good stuff (I'm paraphrasing). So anyway, block that off on your calendars.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular Monrovia school board meeting is on Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

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