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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 24 ~ April 11, 2001

I almost missed an historic moment. I was scribbling when a vote came up and I heard Board President Roger Graziani say, "Three to two." What? A three-to-two vote? Really? Honest? In covering the regular meetings since about January of last year, I have never, ever heard anybody vote "no" on anything - ANYTHING. And now, somebody - actually two somebodies - voted "no." And they did it twice. Well, sort of.
~ Brad Haugaard (

SPLIT VOTES ~ The split votes were over the question of whether to expel a couple of unnamed high school students for unnamed offenses. The board had discussed the details of the cases in private (good practice) so I haven't the foggiest idea what the issues were, but it was surprising and encouraging to see some evidence of independent thinking. The first vote was three to two, and I kick myself for missing who voted "no." On the second vote, Graziani called for the vote and there were four "aye" votes. Then he asked if anybody was opposed. He answered himself by saying "aye." This confused me for a moment because I thought when you were in opposition, you said "nay" or "no." But then he summarized it as a "four-to-one" vote. I guess when you say "aye" about everything, it's a little bit hard to break the habit.

BLUE HAIR ~ A wife and husband told the board their son had been "intimidated" by a teacher at Bradoaks Elementary School who wanted him to get rid of his blue-dyed hair. The mother said the instructor, whom, she said, felt the hair was a distraction, repeatedly said to her son, "You're going to let your hair grow out, right?" Superintendent Louise Taylor said she would set up a meeting for the parents with the Bradoaks principal.

TEACHERS LEAVING ~ The mother of the blue-haired boy added in passing that she has "seen a lot of wonderful teachers leave Bradoaks." She added that she had just spoken to yet another teacher, who is also leaving. I'm sure teachers leave for a variety of reasons, but I have heard for a couple years about good teachers leaving because they are fed up with Bradoaks. If they were leaving to go into hardhat diving, start a company, have a baby, spend a year in the Peace Corps - that's fine, but for teachers to leave because they're fed up, that's bad, and it's the district's fault, and doubly so because this is an old problem about which nothing seems to be done.

WRITERS ~ Superintendent Louise Taylor said Monrovia students took four out of six writing awards for a Southern California writing competition. Details were a bit sketchy, but Taylor said the students would be properly honored at one of the upcoming board meetings.

TEXTBOOKS ~ Now you can wander right in the front dooor of the district office and examine and comment on the high school science textbooks the district is considering using. The books ("Biology: The Living Science," Prentice Hall, and "Science Spectrum," Holt, Rinehart, Winston) will be on display right in the lobby for about 45 days before the board takes action on whether to adopt them. I think most of the credit for making textbook selection a bit more public goes to Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn (who is definitely a keeper, in my book).

BAD SCIENCE ~ Board Member Bruce Carter, who said he has a scientific background, said he has a lot of concern about middle school science textbooks. He said scientists feel these texts are "shallow" and "full of factual errors." Carter said the state selects the science texts, so there's not much the district can do about it. Shawn, however, said the state selects a "range" of textbooks that districts can choose from.

BUDGET ~ Business Director Linda Dempsey said she expects revenue for the 2001-02 year will be about $237,023 less than for this year. From $33 million and change this year to $32.8 million next year. Reasons: Fewer students (which is a bit confusing since I heard Debby Collins say last time that she thought the number would go up), a one-time bucket of money the district got this year but won't get next year, interest rates are lower, plus some other stuff I didn't understand. She didn't pull her hair out, so it doesn't seem too bad.

LOCKERS ~ Dempsey also mentioned that the committee considering re-installing lockers at Monrovia High School should have a report "soon." She said the committee may recommend that lockers be put back in the school. That sounds like a pretty safe bet.

NATURAL GAS ~ The board voted to support a new Air Quality Management District rule that favors natural gas school buses. Then it applied for a grant to buy six such buses. The current buses use diesel, which is apparently bad for people. Six folks from six organizations asked for the district's support of the AQMD measure. One warned the board not to believe organizations supporting "green diesel," because they are funded by petroleum companies. When a representative of SoCal Gas spoke in favor of the natural gas buses I wondered if I should not believe her because she was supported by the natural gas industry. The irony didn't seem to strike anybody else. Someone up front said the district had recieved letters opposed to the AQMD rule, but nobody seemed interested in knowing what the letters said. Hmm. Shouldn't the board members listen to both sides' propaganda before making up their minds?

PLYMOUTH SCHOOL DAYS ~ There was a curious little item about the school calendar at Plymouth Elementary. Apparently the school has had a schedule that was different from all other district elementary schools. According to Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Debby Collins, the previous Plymouth principal, this meant that the state tests came just a week or so after the students got back from vacation. Not enough time to bone up. The board appeared hopeful this change will improve scores. Odd. I wonder why the calendar was out of whack in the first place.

BAZILLION ~ There were about ten bazillion volunteers honored tonight, so congratulations if you were one of them, but I'm not going to print almost three pages of names. Nice to know, though, that there are lots of people who care.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular meeting is on May 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive, but there's a special study session at the Monrovia High Media Center at 7:30 p.m. on April 18. If you go to that one, tell me what it's about. I'm too tired.

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