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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 25 ~ May 09, 2001 A surprise vacancy on the board. A split vote. A principal singing in a tub of noodles. Exciting stuff.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

BYE ~ Board member Yolanda Gallardo has resigned from the board effective May 3 because she and her family have moved to Duarte. The district is planning a party for her.

WELL, WELL, WELL ~ So, what to do? What to do? The board had the option of filling Gallardo's position by holding a special election, which would have cost somewhere over $60,000. Wisely (I think) it decided not to take that route. Instead, it decided to interview people from throughout the community, then appoint someone for the remainder of Gallardo's term, which would be until the election this November. Interestingly, this was a two-to-one vote! Yeah, really! A split vote. Bruce Carter and Francie Cash voted aye, and Board President Roger Graziani voted no.

OPTIONS ~ But let's back up for a second. To start the discussion, Graziani outlined five approaches the board could take. 1) Leave the vacancy until the next election. 2) Fill it with a former board member, providing that person agrees not to run again. 3) Consider losing candidates from the previous election. 4) Search for and interview people from throughout the community to fill the seat. 5) Wait until board member Betty Sandford gets back from Europe, then decide. Graziani didn't mention the special election option, which, since it seems like a big fat waste of money, is hardly surprising.

THOUGHTFUL ~ I find several elements of this situation interesting. First, that the board had quite a thoughtful discussion. (Yes, that's interesting in itself.) Carter and Cash proposed considering candidates from the entire community and selecting someone after interviews by the board and staff members. C and C said there are important decisions coming up for which it would be good to have a full board. Yeah, that makes sense, I thought. But then Graziani suggested waiting for the November election since it's not far away. He added that by the time someone is selected, that person will only get to serve about three months before having to run for election. Also, he said, with tests coming up, it's not a good time to pull staff members away from their duties. Hmmm. Interesting points.

POLITE ~ Let me butt in here for a moment to point out that during this discussion nobody bit anybody's head off. See! See! You board folks can have intelligent discussions and disagree and even - amazing but true - vote differently, without the Monrovia Unified School District exploding in a firey ball. Just thought you ought to know.

DIVERSITY ~ Where was I? Ah, yes. The second interesting element. Who to pick? I think a good board is made up of people who bring different skills and perspective to the table. As I've said before, I think the different type of person this board *really* needs is a business man or woman. A manager or business owner. Someone who knows how to measure results. Someone who understands balance sheets. Someone who can politely but firmly ask tough questions and insist on clear answers.

POSSIBLE ~ Okay, that's the kind of person I think the board needs. But will the board select that kind of person? (This is interesting element number three, by the way.) I don't know, but I think it is possible. It selected Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn, who strikes me as a bright light. Also, though I can't feel as confident in saying this since I haven't really seen them in action, several of the recently appointed principals strike me as good choices.

SUGGEST ~ So, since the board is looking, how about helping out by suggesting some of the good people you know. Or, maybe you should serve? You City Hall and Chamber of Commerce folks ought to know some excellent people. How about suggesting them?

Okay, I've about beaten that to death.

SEHR GUT! ~ Nine Monrovia High students were honored for scoring above 80 percent on the American Association of Teachers of German National Examination for High School Students. Those ausgezeichnete studenten sind: Nathan Livingston, Alex Rasmussen, Michelle Miller, Alison Ogden, Kate Burrill, Bianca Rios, Tom Anderson, Brigette Hochner and Chris Earle. Did I misconjugate "ausgezeichnet" (outstanding)?

NOODLES ~ Monrovia High School Principal Albert Clegg apparently made his singing debut recently while standing in a tub of noodles. According to the student representative to the board, the noodle event was a challenge by radio station KROQ. What a good sport. But what I want to know is this: Were the noodles cooked and did they have marinara sauce?

AVID ~ In our previous episode you may remember I said Monrovia students took four of six awards for a Southern California writing competition. Here's more from a trusty correspondent who's name I forgot to ask if I could use and who will therefore remain anonymous: "UCLA holds an annual AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) writing competition. Last year, a Santa Fe eighth grader took first place in the county(?), and a Santa Fe seventh grader took first place in the state. This year's ninth grade winner is a graduate of Santa Fe, and our current Santa Fe students brought home awards, too. In case you're wondering, Santa Fe's AVID classes are headed by Mrs. Suzette Williams (she also teaches freshman writing/literature at Cal Poly), and Mrs. Gail LaBau. They do a *terrific* job of encouraging youngsters to attend college, as well as teaching them the skills that will get them there. You should check out the AVID program. Enough good things cannot be said about it!" High praise indeed!

APPRECIATION ~ Mark your calendars. The board has declared May 16, 2001 as "Staff Appreciation Day," and May 8 as "Day of the Teacher" (sounds kind of like a not-so-scary horror movie, doesn't it?) and (we're not done yet) the week of May 20 as "Classified School Employee Week."

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular meeting is on June 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. There's also a joint meeting with the Personnel Commission on May 15 at 7 p.m. and a closed session on May 23 at 7:30 p.m. which I probably shouldn't have bothered telling you about since you can't go to it anyway, but I guess I just did.

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