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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 41 ~ May 8, 2002

I should have had coffee before I went to the board meeting. I started a bit fuzzy, then talk about ROP and AVID and MAFA and STAR and WASC and CSEA and MTA and CSEA and CCM and all the other acronyms added to my fuzziness. I thought I was way ahead of the pack in fuzziness, but then Superintendent Taylor leaped ahead to win first prize.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad@sacklunch.net)

HUH? ~ I'm going to try to clarify this as best I can (now that I'm awake), but I defy you to tell me what it means: Superintendent Louise Taylor reported that there was a delicate situation involving the First Ammendment rights of a club at Monrovia High and people who were uncomfortable with the topic being addressed at the meeting the club was putting on. She said the district heard from both sides, and the meeting went on. But we teach tolerance of other views, don't we? said President Bruce Carter, looking at Taylor meaningly. Oh, yes indeed, we do, said Taylor, smiling back.

RUMORS ~ First of all, it annoys me that we hear for 30 minutes the details of a scholastic team winning a prize, but when something (apparently unpleasant to the district) happens, we get Grade A certified obscurity. Did a club invite Nazis to speak? The KKK? An abortionist? Osama Bin Laden? This is precisely how stupid rumors get started - when government officials are not forthright about things that happen. So, I guess I'll have to rely upon rumor. Somebody tell me what happened? Don't worry, I won't identify you.

LITERATURE ~ The Board of Education is thinking of adopting Glencoe/McGraw-Hill's "Literature: The Readers's Choice," for Monrovia High's Language Arts Department. The book will be available at - I think - the Monrovia Library and at the school district offices, at 325 E. Huntington Drive if you'd like to review it. I tend to snicker a bit at the book's title. It should be called "Literature: The District's Choice," but, hey, could be a perfectly good book. Joel Shawn said the books "cost a lot of money" but they broaden "diversity" by including authors of more ethnic and economic backgrounds. I wonder if they remove an author when he or she changes economic status. Whoops, you got a big royalty contract; you're out buddy!

NAUGHTY JACKIE! ~ Speaking of textbooks, I'm 100 percent behind the board in its opposition to Assembly Bill 2160 (Jackie Goldberg), which would make textbook selection a matter of collective bargaining between teachers' unions and the district. This is wrong! The board is responsible to the electorate; teachers' unions are not. Teachers have every right to recommend books (and because they are professionals, their views should be given weight), but to have textbook selection become a bargaining chip in closed-door contract negotiations is a usurpation of the board's authority. Who knows, the board may want to use that authority some day.

CONTRACT ~ The district has agreed with various district employee unions on a 4.72 percent salary and benefit proposal. Business Director Linda Dempsey said it will cost the district an extra $1.2 million next fiscal year. She wrote that the district is reducing other expenditures to accomodate the settlement and that the settlement "will increase deficit financing." Reserves, she said, are sufficient to finance the increase through October, at which point the district will reconsider if the pay increase can be continued.

UNIFORMS ~ Senior Pupil-Personnel Director Gail Grant reported that a questionaire - apparently sent by mail - about the uniform policy at Santa Fe and Clifton middle schools got a paultry response. Too few to be able to draw any conclusions about whether parents like it or not. (Did you include a postage-paid response envelope?) Board member Roger Graziani suggested also polling fifth grade parents, since their kids will be in middle school next school year.

CANDIDATE? ~ Steve Topia, of the Monrovia Arts Festival Association, is pushing what sounds like a great idea. He and MAFA want to raise $50,000 for arts in the Monrovia Schools. He's planning to get a bunch of community groups together for an event - I wasn't totally clear what kind of event - but anyway, MAFA would try to get 1,000 people to come at $25 a head, and then raffle off all sorts of valuable prizes, such as dinner with a school board member (Second prize, two dinners. Just kidding.) Steve sounds smart (he said he was a Vice President at Coca Cola) and it seems he has a lot of drive. I wonder if he'd like to run for school board next election.

BIG MAY ~ You'll be happy to know the board has declared May 8 as Day of the Teacher, May 15 as Staff Appreciation Day, and the week of May 19-25 as Classified School Employee Week.

CONGRATS ~ Congratulations to Jose Magana and Lisa Kevorkian, who won first place in the Southern California AVID writing contest. Jose won first place for seventh grade writing and Lisa won first place overall. AVID means "Achievement Via Individual Determination. Now which do you suppose came first, the title or the acronym? Congratulations also to these award-winning ROP (Regional Occupational Program) students: Kristyne Esparza, Eric Farrow, Josue Flores, Brandon Forde, David Mier, Leticia Rodriguez and Sara Kirk.

WHAT GOT DONE ~ Back in February I said, "One of these days I'm going to have to slog through the old newsletters and find all three times board members have said, 'We really oughta do this!' and see how many of these 'oughtas' actually got done." Well, I've done it (how do you people stand reading this stuff?) and here are the results, back through 2000. Remember, I have missed meetings, I daydream and overlook stuff, and the answer may have been shared privately (which I really don't like). With those qualifiers, here we go.

~ Oughta: On July 12, 2000, Roger Graziani insisted that the district make a serious effort to publicize the textbooks it is considering. Result: At public hearings to consider textbooks, there are now copies of the textbooks being considered. Also the books are available for review at the district office. Maybe other stuff, too.
~ Oughta: On March 14, 2001 Francie Cash wanted a report about how similar districts have benefited by having a lobbyist in Sacramento. She repeated the request on March 28, 2001. I seem to recall Joel Shawn giving a verbal report on that.
~ Oughta: On March 28, 2001 Roger Graziani suggested putting a discussion of eligibility requirements for students participating in extracurricular activities on the board agenda. Result: I don't remember any such discussion.
~ Oughta: On June 13, 2001 Bruce Carter asked for a staff report on why so many Monrovia High students have grade point averages below 2.0. Result: I don't recall ever seeing such a report.
~ Oughta: On July 11, 2001 Betty Sandford and the rest of the board asked for a report about why Monrovia High starts out with about 500 freshmen and ends up with only about 300 seniors. Result: I don't remember ever seeing such a report.
~ Oughta: On Sept. 12, 2001 Monina Diaz suggested board members be the district's lead fundraisers. Result: Roger Graziani said he wasn't sure that was the board's role, and that ended that. (I think it discouraged her. It was the most creative thing I've heard from any board member, and I haven't heard anything similarly creative since.)
~ Oughta: On Jan. 16, 2002 Roger Graziani asked for a "formal report" explaining how Monrovia High is doing getting the average student GPA above 2.0. (Notice the similarity to Carter's June 13, 2001 request.) Result: If there was a formal report, I never saw it.
~ Oughta: On March 13, 2002 Frances Cash suggested a curriculum to help parents know how to help in their kids education. Result: That was recently, so maybe it's a little early to tell.

HMM ~ Not what I'd call a lot of great ideas bubbling up here. And when ideas do bubble up, the results - if there are any - frequently seem to elude me.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular board meeting is on Wednesday, May 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

Copyright (c) 2002, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web at: monroviaschools.tripod.com