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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 10 ~ July 12, 2000

Whew! Barely made it home. I stopped at Taco Bell before going to the school board meeting tonight and you know how they give you those GIANT cups? Well, I filled mine with iced tea and drank it all down, so, toward the end of the meeting, I was getting... well, a little anxious, if you know what I mean. So anyway, now I can concentrate, and the main thing I want to concentrate on is that I saw a few glimmers of things I liked at tonight's meeting. Stay tuned.
~ Brad Haugaard

GRAZIANI ~ This impressed me. Board member Roger Graziani actually *disagreed* with a staff member, a bold step for a school board member. Oh, he was perfectly polite, but he *disagreed*. The staff member, Joel Shawn, the new assistant superintendent of instruction, was reporting that some pre-calculus and calculus books the district is considering are on display at the Monrovia Library for the public to examine. But Graziani didn't think simply putting them in the library was sufficient. He wants the district to make more of an effort to let people know the books are there. Shawn said there are some "time constraints" and Superintendent Louise Taylor added that the books have already been reviewed by teachers, but Graziani insisted, so Shawn will report back on how other districts publicize the textbooks they are considering. Way to go, Roger!

CALCULUS ~ Just in case I obscured the point in the previous item, let me make sure I do my small part: If you want to look at the pre-calculus and calculus books the district is considering, they're at the Monrovia Public Library. You check them out; I barely squeaked past algebra.

BUSINESS COOKIE ~ I was also quite impressed by the new Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Joel Shawn. He struck me as a smart, businesslike cookie. (Can cookies be businesslike?) When Graziani wanted the district to publicize the calculus textbooks, Shawn bounced back by saying he'd report back on how other districts publicize theirs. Good! Later he gave a preliminary analysis of the district's Stanford 9 tests which was coherent, brief and informative. He clearly knew what he was talking about.

STANFORD 9 ~ I just mentioned I'm rotten at math, but let me give Joel's Stanford 9 report a try. If I understand it correctly, the overall scores (in national percentile ranks) are, frankly, nothing to write home about, but the *improvement* between 1999 and 2000 is. Joel said there were improvements in 31 of 36 comparisons, and when comparing cohort scores (I think that's like comparing 1999 second graders with 2000 third graders. In other words, the same kids), there were increases in 24 of 31 comparisons. Here are the district-wide numbers:

  Reading:
  1999 37.7
  2000 41.1

  Math:
  1999 41.8
  2000 47

  Language:
  1999 42.4
  2000 47.6
BOMBER ~ Dick Singer, who has been working with the district and as director (or whatever) of the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce, got an award at the meeting upon leaving district (and Chamber) employment. He's a great guy. Easy going but sharp. I used to work under him when he was editor of the Foothill InterCity Newspapers (which included the now-kaput Monrovia News-Post). He's taking a job as public information officer for the City of Monrovia. He's a great writer too. I still remember his column about buying a B-17 bomber control stick for his wife. Long story. Don't ask.

VIDEO AWARDS ~ A whole bunch of Monrovia High video production students - and a few former students - won gold, silver and bronze medals at regional and state VICA competitions. VICA means "Vocational Industrial Clubs of America." If I'm counting right, in the regionals the students won 12 golds and four silvers, and in the statewide competition they won two golds, two silvers, four bronzes and two fourth place awards. Wow!

CLUNKERS ~ I think there must have been a glitch. Nobody donated any old clunker cars to the Monrovia High auto shop tonight. Must be the summer slump.

FREE MONEY ~ This item's not from the board meeting, but I think it's interesting: There's a Web site, GreaterGood.com, which donates to any nonprofit organization or school you specify when you make a purchase from any one of a large number of online stores. For example, if you go to GreaterGood, then to its Monrovia High School page (if it existed, which it doesn't - yet), then if from there bought a book at Amazon.com, you would automatically contribute several percent of the purchase price to MHS, or any other school you like, at no cost to yourself. The only catch appears to be that someone at the school needs to go online and sign up, but the sign-up form looks trivial. Seems like an awfully good idea to me.

BOND BUCKS ~ Speaking of money, Superintendent Taylor said the district has "preliminary information" that the district will get $3.8 million from the last of the state's facility modernization bond fund. It will help, she said, but won't meet all the district's needs.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next meeting is an all-day affair on Wednesday, August 16 somewhere in Monrovia. Superintendent Taylor said is is a "vision" and study session kinda thing. The next regular meeting is Wednesday, August 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

WORRIED ~ I'm a little concerned. I wasn't as nasty this time as I've been the last couple times. Maybe things are changing. Maybe I imagine things are changing. Maybe I'm in a better mood. Maybe my stock went up five points. I dunno, but I'll try not to get too nice.

Copyright (c) 2000, Brad Haugaard