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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 55 ~ March 12, 2003

The district has announced that by 2005 it may not have enough money to meet its financial obligations. In one sense, I think this was a bit of dramatics, since the district will *have* to meet its financial obligations, but the serious part is that it looks as if the district will need to do some cutting.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad@sacklunch.net)

QUALIFIED ~ For the first time in history (according to Superintendent Louise Taylor) the board has approved a "qualified certification," saying it "may not be able to meet its financial obligations for the three years ending June 30, 2005." At the current rate of spending the district would, if I'm reading these numbers correctly, be $645,238 in the hole at the end of fiscal 2005. That projection is based upon Governor Davis' proposed budget. But the district can't legally go in the hole, so, assuming a budget something like what Davis proposes is passed, there will have to be cuts, which you can expect shortly. Immediately after this the board tentatively let go, or "approved release and non-reelection," of some 43 "temporary certificated employees." I think this is essentially giving people pink slips just in case the money doesn't come in to fund them. Ouch.

CRITICIZE ~ Board members went on at some length about how people may criticize them for these cuts. Well, I hope not. I think there are a lot of things for which the board can be justly criticized, but adjusting to the state's cuts shouldn't be one of them.

VOLATILE ~ In an online message, I saw a well-written note, apparently by an MHS student, who commented on a "very well done assembly to celebrate African American Heritage in recognition of Black History Month." The student continued, "The aftermath of today's specific presentation, however, was very frustrating as no less than three racially motivated fights broke out during [the] day (with more fights 'planned' for after school). Last year, a student was shot (thankfully, not killed) because of racial contentions. We always go through ups and downs with the race issue at the high school, but it's seemed to be especially volatile lately." I remember when I was stationed at an Army base in Germany. We were all getting along great until we went through a race relations seminar. Then everyone was embittered and we immediately had a race riot. I think some people felt the weight of historical injustices and others felt that whatever happened in the past, they didn't have anything to do with it. Anyway, it's kinda sad I gotta learn about what's happening at MHS through the Internet and not at a school board meeting.

DIVERSITY ~ Okay, I sort-of take it back. There actually was a vague mention of violence in a report on the MHS counseling system. The speaker told of a three-day seminar on "diversity awareness," "violence prevention" and "conflict resolution." I'm really not sure about the "diversity awareness" part of the plan. I don't think diversity awareness is the solution; I think it's the problem. The more people think about how they are different from others, the more possible points of contention there are. Perhaps it should be replaced by a What-we-have-in-common seminar.

MILITARY ~ Frances Cash suggested that the counseling staff not dismiss the military as an option for some students, since it does provide skills and often the money for higher education.

RELIGION ~ As required by law, the board certified that its policies do not deny students the right to participate in "constitutionally protected" prayer, meaning, I think, student-sponsored prayer (or Bible-reading or whatever) during non-instructional times. The school policy doesn't focus on religion, but essentially says students have First Amendment rights of free speech and religion. Superintendent Taylor said there is a "gray line" and the district doesn't want to err in violating the Constitution on the one side, or in violating this provision [the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001] on the other. Pardon me, I realize this was probably just a slip of the tongue, but while there may be a gray line, it is between freedom of religion on one side and government sponsorship of religion on the other; it is not between the Constitution on one side and freedom of religion on the other. As the letter from the Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, says, "The First Amendment forbids religious activity that is sponsored by the government but protects religious activity that is initiated by private individuals."

INITIATIVE ~ Board Member Monina Diaz said she has been talking with a representative of the Los Altos School District, which, she said, has raised more than $1 million per year extra for the district. This is actually interesting, because ages ago Monina suggested that board members take the lead in helping raise extra money for the district, and, I thought, was kinda shot down. It's nice to see her taking the initiative in this matter.

BAND FAN ~ If you are an MHS Marching Wildcat Band fan, check out its new Web site at www.monroviamusic.com.

OPEN HOUSES ~ I wonder why they call it "Open House" instead of "Open School?" Hmm. Well, anyway, here are some upcoming open house dates:
~ April 1-4, Mayflower School (during school hours). Mayflower "Daze"
~ April 2, Clifton and Santa Fe middle schools, 6:30 p.m.
~ April 3, 7 p.m. Canyon Oaks High School and Mountain Park School
~ April 8, 6:30 p.m. Wild Rose Elementary School
~ April 29, 6:30 p.m. Pre-K and Kindergarten, Canyon Early Learning Center
~ April 30, 6:30 p.m. Monrovia High School
~ May 20, 6:30 p.m., Bradoaks Elementary School

ARTS ED ~ The board proclaimed March as Arts Education Month because "dance, music, theatre [that's 'theater!' by the way, unless we've suddenly become a British colony again], and the visual arts" are an "essential part of basic education for all students." Hmm. I dunno about the dance part. I remember when I was in elementary school I had to dance with girls, which, at the time I regarded as pretty high on the yucky scale. I've outgrown my prejudice against girls, so, well, okay, I guess dance is okay.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular Monrovia school board meeting is on March 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 http://www.sacklunch.net/MonroviaSchoolLink