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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 58 ~ May 14, 2003

Well, the best part of the school board meeting tonight happened after it was all over. I'll tell you about it. Also, I discovered a very curious holiday. Maybe one of you can explain it to me.
~ Brad Haugaard (

CANDIDATES? ~ As I wandered toward the back door following tonight's board meeting, a woman said, "Are you Brad?" I confessed that I am, and she gave me her name, which, as I didn't get permission to use it, I won't share. But anyway, she and a man sitting next to her are readers of this fine publication and they said they are *both* thinking of running for the school board! Happy day! I said something about, "May the best person win," or something like that, and they reminded me that there are three positions open, so they could both win. True enough. Well, blessings on you both.

REPORTER ~ You may have read my complaint about local newspapers not doing their jobs by failing to cover school board meetings, as they used to do years ago. Well, after I walked away from the conversation with the potential board candidates, a man stopped me and asked, "Are you a reporter?" "Uhh," I said, "in a manner of speaking." Well it turned out he is a reporter for a local paper and was assigned to cover to the meeting. Cool! We chatted a while about why I subject myself to these meetings, and I said that I think the board needs some new blood, some person or persons who can do a little challenging and prodding in a polite but firm way. Anyway, it was good to see the media take a bit of interest in the district.

HOLIDAY ~ I took a glance at the schedule of holidays the board approved tonight, and one holiday really caught my eye. The holiday was the "First Day of School." The first day of school is a holiday? So does this mean the real first day of school is on the second day of school?

BUDGET ~ Chief Business Officer Linda Dempsey and Superintendent Louise Taylor said that a recent meeting of the District Budget Advisory Committee was "very difficult" because people had different ideas about what should be cut. It ended up that the committee could only agree on about $1.9 million of cuts, but more cuts are needed, so Dempsey and Taylor will figure out what else to chop.

SURPRISE ~ Dempsey said she was a bit surprised that Governor Gray Davis' proposed budget fully funds class size reduction and special education, which, she said, is good news because "we were projecting a 10 percent reduction." Of course this is just what the Governor is asking for, and since his proposal involves tax increases, Dempsey said, there is a lot of opposition.

INDICATORS ~ Member Roger Graziani mentioned - again, it's a theme of his - that "testing is not the only indicator of good students." This is undoubtedly true, but what concerns me is that - in large doses - this "testing isn't everything" philosophy can be an excuse for failure. Though I'm sure Roger wasn't advocating that, I think it would be good to have someone on the board who thinks that while scoring well on tests isn't everything, it's a big, fat chunk. It would provide a bit of balance.

A PLAN ~ Betty Sandford said she and Board Member Monina Diaz have been working on "a plan" for community involvement. Sandford said the public will hear more about this "in a few weeks." If this means more openness in the board's deliberations and a greater effort to reach out to the public - I've gone over my complaints about this before, so I won't now - then hooray. I can only hope.

GIFT NIGHT ~ The board accepted a bunch of gifts tonight. Twenty nine, to be exact - or was it thirty? They including cases of water (for Canyon Early Learning Center's family picnic), 109 auto manuals, a 55 gallon drum dolly, and - da, da-da-da - $6,000 from the Monrovia Schools Foundation for instrumental music instruction at the elementary schools. What's a bit weird is that Superintendent Louise Taylor mentioned another gift of about $6,000 for a theater stage curtain, but I couldn't find any mention of it on the agenda.

HONOREE ~ Superintendent Taylor said district Administrative Assistant Kris Mariconda was honored late last month by the Quota club. For what, I didn't quite catch. Kris, by the way, is the one you can get to email you the board agenda, if you're interested. She's at

RENAISSANCE ~ Betty Sandford has recieved the Monrovia Arts Festival Association award as its 2003 Renaissance Award winner. The item was on the agenda, but apparently MAFA couldn't make it, so no presentation tonight. But congratulations to her anyway.

WINNERS ~ Speaking of which, congratulations to first and second place National Geographic regional winners: seventh grader Francisco Luna and eighth grader Marc Shutman, both of Clifton Middle School. And more congrats to first place AVID Write Off winner, eighth grader Danny Magana of Santa Fe Middle School, and also to second place winners, Monrovia High students Geri Rodriguez (tenth grade) and Haydee Cervantes (twelfth grade). They were up against students from 40 other schools. And finally, congrats to counselors Bruce Langdyke and Ben Henley, of Santa Fe Middle School, on winning what the speaker called the "Academy Award for counseling," the Support Personnel Accountability Report Cards, or SPARC, sponsored by the state and county departments of education. Note that the goofy name of the award does not detract from the honor.

PROMOTION DAYS ~ If your student is being promoted or graduating, here's the schedule: Fifth grade promotion day is June 18 at 8:30 a.m. at each of the elementary schools. For eighth graders, promotion is on June 18, at 2 p.m. at Monrovia High for Clifton Middle School, and at 11 a.m. at Santa Fe Middle School for Santa Fe students. Graduation for Monrovia High students is June 18 at 7 p.m. at Wildcat Field, and for Canyon Oaks High students on June 17 at 7 p.m. at Clifton auditorium.

OPEN HOUSES ~ Some open houses: On Tuesday, April 29, Canyon Early Learning Center pre-kindergarten open house will begin at 6:30 p.m., and kindergarten will be at 7 p.m. On Wednesday, April 30, at 6:30 p.m., Monrovia High School will have its open house; and on Tuesday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m., Bradoaks Elementary School will open its house.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular Monrovia school board meeting is on May 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. If you're planning to run for the school board (You *are* running, aren't you?) then you should really come and familiarize yourself with the routine and acclimatize yourself to monotony.

Copyright (c) 2003, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web at