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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 3 ~ March 8, 2000

I heard no mention at tonight's school board meeting of the recent State Department of Education report showing crime at Monrovia schools mostly increasing while crime in neighboring districts is mostly decreasing. Discouraging, but, well, sometimes government agencies move kinda slowly. Maybe next meeting.
~ Brad Haugaard

CRIME ~ If you happened to have missed it, the California Department of Education just released a school crime report showing that crime is down in virtually all categories in virtually every one of ten West San Gabriel Valley school districts - except Monrovia, where it is up.

First the good news. The stats, which compare the 97-98 year with the 98-99 year, show that Monrovia had no assaults with weapons in either year and no robberies in either year. It doesn't get much better than that. And those are some of the most serious of the crimes that were reported on, so that's good. Also, the number of weapons possession incidents slipped a bit.

But on the bad side, drug and alcohol incidents were way up; battery (that's when someone beats up on somebody without using a weapon) was way up; property crimes are up; and even sex offences were up slightly, from zero to one.

If Monrovia was caught in a statewide crime wave, that would be one thing, but when Monrovia schools' crime rate is increasing while all the nearby schools are (with a few small exceptions) experiencing a decrease, that's pretty disappointing.

Here are a few numbers from the Star-News if you missed them. The first number represents the number of incidents in 97-98; the second 98-99. I picked two economically different neighboring communities for contrast.

Drugs/alcohol
28/41 Monrovia
14/8  Arcadia
14/12 Duarte

Battery
8/22  Monrovia
6/1   Arcadia
70/33 Duarte

Assault with a weapon
0/0   Monrovia
1/0   Arcadia
13/10 Duarte

Robbery
0/0 Monrovia
1/1 Arcadia
2/3 Duarte

Sex offences
0/1 Monrovia
0/0 Arcadia
4/2 Duarte

Weapon possession
9/7 Monrovia
1/9 Arcadia
7/5 Duarte

Property crimes
15/22 Monrovia
26/16 Arcadia
31/19 Duarte
SNIFF ~ Maybe this is a good place to tell you about the sniffer dogs. Dogs may soon be visiting Monrovia High School on a random basis to snuffle around for drugs, alcohol and firearms. The board is considering hiring Interquest, which already provides sniffer dogs for Pasadena High School, Temple City and other local districts. "Our dogs are trained to sniff," the handler said, "but not to inhale." He virtually guaranteed a reduction in drug/alcohol/firearms problems at the high school. He estimated that the schools Interquest works get an average 40 percent reduction in problems.

SNEAK ~ People are trying to sneak their kids into Monrovia schools. Yup! Pupil Services Director Yolanda Lopez-Head said parents (mostly from Duarte, and some from Baldwin Park, according to Superintendent Louise Taylor) try to get their kids into the district. Some not-so-legitimate tricks she's discovered: Registering at an address that's an empty lot, registering at an address that's a half-built home, and having half a dozen out-of-district kids registered with a single guardian who lives within the district.

VISUAL MATH ~ I saw a demonstration of a "visual math" technique by Wild Rose Elementary students. The system involves a 100-square grid, which the students chop up and count in various ways. The teacher starts the students with the grid, then restates the problem using a complex numeric formula, then re-restate it using a rather simple numeric formula. I was impressed with the concepts the kids were learning, but at the same time I've heard concerns that some students have a tough enough time learning one way of doing problems without having to learn three ways to do the same thing. Personally, I think ... I dunno.

INTERNET ~ The district is moving into the Internet age. According to Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Linda Harding, the district places on-line ads for people (my company does that too - very effective). Also, she said, the district gets back the mandatory fingerprint checks it submits through the Internet. Much faster, she said.

RETIRING ~ Speaking of Linda Harding, she mentioned in the pre-meeting study session that she'll be retiring at the end of this school year. Maybe everybody already knows that, but it was new to me.

SUBS ~ Harding suggested that substitute teachers are somewhat harder to find these days. When the number of teachers increases, she said, the number of subs goes down. I guess the logic here is that if you turn all the subs into teachers, you don't have as many subs.

CROWNED ~ The board honored former Clifton Middle School Principal Bill Card, who has taken a job with the Glendale schools. Card, who was presented with a Burger King-like crown that had mismatching socks on the points (I didn't quite get the significance, but it was colorful) said he never imagined when he attended Clifton in the 60s that he'd be its principal. It was "a blessing," he said.

FAPE ~ Our acronymn lesson today, class, will be on FAPE and APE. FAPE stands for "Free Appropriate Public Education," to distinguish it (I suppose) from "Free Inappropriate Public Education." Also, FAPE should never be confused with APE, which means "Adapted Physical Education."

RESTRUCTURING ~ Congratulations to teacher Elizabeth Tapia, who was honored at the board meeting by Dick Singer of the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce. Elizabeth is credited with restructuring the Learning Lab for the Adult Education program.

FREDDY ~ When I was a kid I *loved* a series of books about Freddy the pig, a detective. "Freddy the Detective" by somebody Brooks was the first one, then there were about 26 more. I wonder if they'd still be good if I read them again. Maybe I ought to try. I think the Monrovia Library has a few of them. Hey! Tell me what your favorite books were when you were a kid and maybe I'll plug a few of them in here.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ Next meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22 at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

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Copyright (c) 2000, Brad Haugaard