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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 26 ~ June 13, 2001

Fast turnaround. Lose a board member, get a new one next meeting. Also, the board wants to know why so many students at Monrovia High have less than a C average (About time). Oh! And the locker report finally came in.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

NEW MEMBER ~ The board selected Monina Diaz to complete the term of Yolanda Gallardo, who had to resign from the board when she moved to Duarte. Board President Roger Graziani said Monina is 24-years-old, a Monrovia schools graduate and a Princeton education major. Uh, no, she said, she was a public policy major. Well, whatever, congratulations, Monina!

THE PROCESS ~ I was kind of stunned at the selection process. According to the agenda, there were four applicants, also including Ed Gililland, Peter Bryan and Deborah Showers-Kelly. They were apparently each given half-hour interviews this evening, after which the board selected Monina. Roger described this as a "grueling process." O-kay. I'm not sure whether to be impressed at the speed at which the board got this done, or wonder if it was done well. Roger thinking she was an education major is not reassuring. Hopefully just a slip of the tongue.

IMPRESSIONS ~ As it was her first board meeting, I don't yet have a strong opinion of Monina. All I have at this point are impressions. To wit (I always wanted to say "to wit"): She abstained from voting on everything, which seems wise since she had no time to have any clue about what's going on. (That excuse is good for precisely one meeting.) Also, 24 seems kinda young, but there are probably lots of Internet CEOs who are 24. Uh, maybe that's a bad example. Also, she didn't know about ADA ("average daily attendance"). I find her unfamiliarity with this centerpiece of school finance encouraging since it means she at least brings something of an outside view to the board. One final negative - she seems a bit too nice. I was kinda hoping for someone who would growl a bit.

ADVICE ~ Dear Monina, I know you didn't ask for it, but here it is anyway - advice. 1) The staff works for you. Yes, you! You and the other four board members. It is not the other way around. 2) Board members are permitted to have ideas of their own. Don't ignore ideas that percolate up from below, but think for yourself and initiate things yourself. 3) The Monrovia school district will not collapse if you decide to vote "no" on something. Just ask Roger. He actually did it just last meeting.

SPEAK UP ~ I was sitting in the third row and a good part of the time I couldn't hear what people up front were saying. I used to think it was just me (bad ear) but this time the guy in front of me was straining to hear too. Would you all please turn your microphones up.

TEACHER OF YEAR ~ Congratulations to Jenny Dana, Monrovia's Teacher of the Year! She teaches third grade at Mayflower School, and is, from what I hear from my spy and wife, a very good teacher. Superintendent Louise Taylor said something I could barely hear, but it had something to do with her being a good teacher and that the district will honor her right good sometime later this year.

SWIMMING ~ Congratulations also to Sara Gilbert, who was selected along with some other Southern California athletes to compete in the Marcelo Salado International Water Polo Tournament in Havana, Cuba. Hmm. I didn't know US citizens were supposed to go to Cuba. Anyway, she said they had a great time but "kinda got whomped." And a friend, she said, got bitten. Bitten? Also, congrats to Monrovia High for winning a really long-titled award, the "2000-2001 California Interscholastic Federation - Southern Section - Sportsmanship Award."

A FOR TACT ~ I'm going to give Board Member Bruce Carter an A for tact. He asked for a staff report on why so many Monrovia High students have grade point averages below the C level. He said the district just finished its acreditation, so he thought maybe those numbers would be readily available. "Just a brief overview," he said, "when you have time." Roger Graziani added a bit more bluntly that the number of students who are below a C average is "alarming." He explained to Monina that the less-than-C-average ratio was discovered incidentally during a discussion of students eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities.

TACTLESS ~ I don't have to be so tactful, so I'm going to say that while I think Bruce is on the right track, he is asking for far too little. I think the board should get precisely the same stats for every school in the district. It is amazing to me that a board of education can make any kind of reasoned decisions without knowing what percentage of students are at what grade point average. This kind of data should be in their hands as soon as possible after each grading period, and it should be summed up at the end of each school year. Come on, this is kind of basic, folks.

LOCKERS ~ Business Director Linda Dempsey reported that putting about 1,500 lockers back in Monrovia High will cost about $112,000, plus maybe as much as $9,000 a year for maintenance. The board just "recieved" the report, which means they didn't do anything about it, but everybody seemed pretty positive about putting them back in, and it seems they were leaning toward doing the installation at one time, in which case it would be sometime in December when they go in. President Roger asked for a report on how much it used to cost to maintain the lockers since the cost of maintenance is why they were removed in the first place. Superintendent Taylor whispered something about not comparing new lockers to old lockers, and suggested it would be better to compare with other districts that have new ones.

SPENDING MONEY ~ Bradoaks School and Clifton Middle School have plans for how they are going to spend the money they won in the state's Academic Performance Index Awards program. Bradoaks is getting $80,397, which it'll spend on TVs and VCRs, textbooks, language arts materials, playground equipment, interventions (interventions?) and some other stuff. Clifton is spending its $77,800 on computers, furniture, a video projector, staff development, large screen monitors, an auditorium screen and new carpeting.

LINK CREW ~ Monrovia High is instituting a new program that sounds pretty smart. Upper grade students buddy up with incoming freshman to show them the school and how to get involved. That's pretty cool! Walking into a big new place like a high school can be pretty intimidating. Good idea!

SHERI ~ The board adjourned in memory of second grade Mayflower teacher, Sheri Burnett, who died just last Saturday afternoon of cancer. Mayflower will be planting a tree in her honor next Tuesday at 9 a.m.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular meeting is on June 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. Come one, come all.

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