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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 23 ~ March 28, 2001

A bit of bad news for some elementary schools. Fewer teachers at some of them. Also, what I've always thought has been confirmed - the initiative in the district comes from below.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

FEWER TEACHERS ~ Four elementary schools are projected to lose teachers for the 2001-2002 school year, according to Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Debby Collins. She said all the expected losses will be through attrition, not layoffs. She said she expects Bradoaks will lose one, Mayflower two, Monroe two, and Plymouth 1. Six total.

ENROLLMENT ~ Why would these schools lose teachers? Well, I got the impression it was because enrollment is down, and according to Collins' figures, it was down at the beginning of this school year, by about 1.5 percent for the district. But what is a bit confusing is that the numbers Collins released show that the district expects enrollment to be up at the beginning of the next school year. So why cut teachers if you expect there to be more students? Maybe this was as clear as crystal to all the board members since nobody asked, but it wasn't at all clear to me. Or maybe the air conditioner was too loud and I missed something. Anyway, maybe what it is is that the district is currently overstaffed and even with an increase in enrollment it'll still have too many teachers. I don't know. Just a guess.

EXHAUST ~ A guy from the South Coast Air Quality Management District told the board about a proposed new AQMD ruling that would get rid of diesel school buses. The buses' exhaust is apparently bad stuff. The AQMD guy said there is some state money to help replace the buses with natural gas burning models. He asked the board to support the proposed ruling and then asked if any of the board members had any questions. Nope. None of them did. Sigh. Although Business Director asked a few. Gee! It seems they might have wanted to know if this bus thing is going to affect Monrovia, for pete's sake! It was a bit confusing whether it would or not, and nobody asked for clarification. And if it would affect Monrovia, how long would the district have to comply? Seems the board *might* have wanted to know.

LOBBYIST ~ We've pretty well hashed over the lobbyist thing, but I need to report that tonight the district agreed to join a consortium of districts to hire a lobbyist. See the previous two editions (monroviaschools.tripod.com) for details.

ELIGIBILITY ~ Monrovia High Principal Albert Clegg gave a report suggesting that the high school should require students to maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average for a full quarter (now it's five weeks) in order to participate in extra-curricular activities during the following quarter. Board President Roger Graziani suggested also requiring that there be a no-F policy, so any student who had an F in an academic subject would also be ineligible to participate in extra-curricular stuff.

FORTY PERCENT ~ In Clegg's presentation, he mentioned in passing that 40 percent of Monrovia High School freshmen have a grade point average of less than 2.0. Hoo boy! I didn't get to see the report, which wasn't included in the agenda packet, so I'm not positive about the other numbers, but if I heard correctly, the GPAs got better for the higher grades.

BULLDOG ~ I was pretty impressed by Roger tonight. He was a bulldog about the eligibility requirements. He has obviously given the matter some thought. (I seldom get the impression from the board.) He really dug into the topic and even suggested that the board put the matter on the agenda to discuss it at length. Now there was a comment he made in forwarding this radical idea that I'll mention in a moment, but before I do I should also add that member Francie Cash also showed a bit or verve, wanting to know if students who might be affected by the proposed rule change had been consulted, and insisting on having an answer to her question of last meeting, whether having a lobbyist had benefited other school districts. Okay, I'll agree that none of this sounds particularly noteworthy, but remember that this is the Monrovia School Board and if you're going to get excited at all, it's gonna have to be about small things.

GROUND UP ~ Now back to what Roger said. In saying he wanted the board to discuss the eligibility requirements rather than have the staff initially develop a proposal, he said to Superintendent Louise Taylor, "I know that we like to work from the ground up, but..." I think it kind of trailed off with the "but," but what he was saying seemed clear to me: In the Monrovia School District, standard procedure is that initiative starts from below, not from the board. Sigh. While there is certainly nothing wrong with ideas coming from the staff, it is utterly obscure to me why that would be the preferred way of operating. Ideas should come from the board as well. Isn't that why they were elected?

ELECTION ~ The board adopted a resolution setting an election for Nov. 6, 2001 for two open board seats. I don't know who's seats are up for grabs, but this brings up some thoughts. As I've said, I think all the people on the board are good-hearted, but I think the level of leadership is - I was going to say "abysmal" until I saw a few sparks this evening - so, let's just say, poor. Maybe a D+. I think the board needs at least one hard-nosed, bottom-line-oriented business person; someone who will politely but firmly bring up problems that need to be addressed. More thoughts on this later, but if you have managerial skills and the guts to *insist* on addressing problems, your school district needs you! (P.S. I've been asked myself, but I'm not a manager - though I'm flattered by the suggestion.)

PENGUINS ~ Congratulations to instructional aide Helen Hernandez and instructor Lucy Field, the district's (and Chamber of Commerce's) employees of the month. Helen, who has been working at Mayflower School for five years, was honored by eight Mayflower staff, who dressed as penguins (Helen's a penguin buff). Lucy, who has worked at Santa Fe Middle School, was nominated by her principal, Ron Latourneau, who said she runs a Social Science class that is a "model for other middle school teachers."

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next meeting is on April 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

Copyright (c) 2001, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web at: monroviaschools.tripod.com