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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 63 ~ August 13, 2003

New school scores will be out soon; I'm relieved to learn that "Como se dice?" is not English; language as an undirected subject, and a word of advice on how not to fire a pistol.
~ Brad Haugaard (

SOON IN SEPTEMBER ~ Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Joel Shawn said he should have a report on the new school score data "soon in September." He said the new scoring system is good but complex. He added that the format is different and requires some explanation. But from the raw data, he said that - off the top of his head - the schools "continue to make progress," but there are a few "areas of concern," particularly with math scores in the middle and upper grades.

NEW ENGLISH ~ The board voted to adopt what the staff report said was a set of "English language arts textbooks." I scratched my head a bit since all the books had names like "Como Se Dice?" and "C'est A Toi!" Shawn said the books were actually for "modern languages." Whew! I was worried there for a moment that I didn't no English that good.

EXAMPLE ~ Board President Frances Cash said the district did some sort of government mandated report - I didn't catch what it was - that was so well done that it will be used as an example to show other districts how to do it. She congratulated Joel Shawn, who in turn gave the credit to his staff.

SPELLING ~ Rosemary Harrahill, a Monrovia parent, asked the board to address some problems her daughter experienced in middle school. She said a teacher called spelling "a self directed subject." She showed the board a worksheet on synonyms on which the teacher had noted that her daughter needed to form her letters more carefully, but wrote nothing about the factual errors in the paper. Harrahill mentioned a similar problem with a math class. She said she spoke with the teacher and the principal months ago, but without effect. Superintendent Louise Taylor said she would speak to the new principal, and suggested Harrahill also speak with the principal, saying, "I think you will find she will follow through readily."

8 OF 12 ~ After the meeting Harrahill gave me a copy of the worksheet, which asked the student to put the correct synonym or definition from a list next to each word in a column. She was right. There was a comment about forming letters at the top, but nothing below, where I counted 8 wrong answers out of 12! For example, "sympathetic" was matched to "harden," "typical" to "tornado," "synopsis" to "doctor," and so forth. And believe me, the letters were formed well enough that the teacher could easily read them. It's pretty amazing to me that a student could get 8 out of 12 wrong and the teacher looks at the paper but doesn't mark anything wrong. This is bad, bad, bad and I don't blame Harrahill a bit for being angry.

BOND ~ The board voted to support the Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2004, which Superintendent Taylor said would fund a new building and modernization at Clifton and some work at Monrovia High as well. Asked about public support for the measure, Chief Business Officer Linda Dempsey said the measure "may not be as strongly supported because of economy."

GIFTS ~ The district picked up $3,430 from Five Acres to build a counseling office at the Healthy Start Center, and $500 from Rio Hondo League and the South Pasadena High School ASB to be used to benefit the ROP Food Service Class at Monrovia High. I'm not familiar with Five Acres, but that's a mighty generous gift. And interesting that South Pas High would be donating money to Monrovia. There's probably something I don't understand here, but nice of them, in any case.

WHAT SAY? ~ The Monrovia-Duarte Quota Club donated $1,650 to provide hearing test equipment (and maintenance money) for elementary school students. June Chafer (hope I got the spelling right) said Quota Club is dedicated to serving the deaf community as well as women and children. Chafer said Linda Dempsey and Gail Grant, two district administrators, knew of a need, and the club stepped up to help. "Hear hear," she said, of their involvement. That's a pun, get it? This reminds of a bit of hearing advice I feel qualified to give. When you are in the Army and firing a 45 caliber pistol on the firing range, don't open your mouth. I figured it would equalize the pressure on my ear drums. Apparently it doesn't work that way. My ears have been ringing ever since. Stupid, huh?

COLA ~ One of the things you hear Chief Business Officer Linda Dempsey talk about all the time are "Colas." What kind of colas are these? you may ask. Coca? Pepsi? RC? Nope, just one of those standard financial acronyms. It stands for "cost of living adjustment," I believe.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular Monrovia school board meeting is on, uh... I don't know. For some reason the agenda doesn't say. But they're usually at 7:30 p.m. on occasional Wednesdays at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. So just come every Wednesday evening and if the door is open walk in and if the janitor looks at you quizzically, ask, "Are you guys having a board meeting tonight?" and if he shrugs his shoulders just walk in the board room and hang around until about 7:55 or so (sometimes these meetings get started late) and if nothing happens, you'll know to come back the following week. Just keep doing that; you'll hit one eventually.

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