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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 13 ~ Sept. 26, 2000

Well I think I had more fun at the school board meeting tonight than I've had since I began doing this. Parents addressed the board, the board responded, a bit of intra-board discussion. Encouraging.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

LOCKERS ~ A representative of a group called United Parents for Students of Monrovia High School told the board it is time to put lockers back on the Monrovia High campus. (Gee! I didn't know they didn't have lockers. Shows how out of touch I am.) Anyway, he said it's not good for students' developing bodies to have to tote around heavy backpacks stuffed with books all the time. Several board members agreed about the need for lockers and Superintendent Louise Taylor said the district is gathering information about getting the lockers back on campus and will put an item on a board agenda at some point. I should hope so. My locker was my best friend in high school. You're right, that doesn't say much for my social life.

POOR COMMUNICATIONS ~ Four Mayflower Elementary parents told the board they thought the district handled the closing of two kindergarten classes at the school pretty badly. They said the closures (for lack of students) were rushed and poorly communicated to parents, and they wondered if transfered-in students were given preferential treatment for staying in the remaining morning kindergarten classes. They said the incident needs to be investigated and explained. Superintendent Taylor said it would be.

LESS MORE ~ The district could lose somewhere around $400,000 in money from the state because of its lower-than-expected enrollment, according to a guesstimate by Director of Business Services Linda Dempsey, who was commenting on a report by Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Debby Collins that the district is down 229 students from its projections. Though I'm not sure, I think this is one of these situations in which the district is getting more money than before but less than it anticipated.

OPEN COURT ~ The new Open Court curriculum had had a successful launch, according to Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn, although he said some teachers are "struggling with it" since it involves a more constrained teaching style. He said he'll be taking comments but for now the district is committed to giving Open Court a thorough implementation. Board VP Roger Graziani suggested the board do a bit of PR to let parents know about the program. Good idea, Shawn said.

REPORTER ~ I actually saw a reporter at the meeting. She left before the end, so I didn't get to ask which paper she was from (Star-News I'll bet). How do I know she was a reporter? Well, reporters scurry around talking to whomever just addressed the board and scratch in skinny little notebooks. Anyway, I regard this as a good thing. I think government works better when people watch it, and the more the merrier.

BASS ~ You'll be glad to know that the Monrovia High Auto Shop is the proud possessor of a donated Total Bass Number kit. A what? You know, a Total Bass Number kit! or "TBN" as the board agenda helpfully adds. Okay, okay. A TBN - this one worth 20 bucks - is used for "testing lubricant quality." Aren't you glad I don't waste your time with trivia?

PROPOSITIONS ~ The board took stands on two ballot measures: Propositions 38 and 39, the voucher initiative and a bond initiative that would allow school bonds to be approved on a 55 percent vote. The board voted unanimously to oppose 38 and to support 39. No surprises.

LOSING FRIENDS ~ Sigh. Here's where we get into politics and here's where I lose friends, (Yes, I do have a few - or did.) I guess it had to come.

PROP 38 ~ It seems to me that a well-run school district has nothing to fear from vouchers, since schools would only loose money if students leave. I don't know about you, but if I'm pleased with my local school, I'm not about to pay several thousand dollars more - which it would cost, even with vouchers - for private school. It's when schools suck that they need to fear, and frankly, I think sucky schools should fear. A little competition might do wonders.

PROP 39 ~ On this one I'm a bit more sympathetic with the board. On the one hand I believe that many schools have not been properly maintained for lack of funds, and I believe that getting a two-thirds vote for bond measures is perhaps too high a margin (though we've done it in Monrovia). But on the other hand, taxation can get out of hand, which is *why* we have the two-thirds vote requirement, and I think we should require some sort of a super-majority to go dipping into people's pockets. I don't feel comfortable that 55 percent is a big enough majority. I'd feel happier with 60 or 65 percent, but I could go either way on this. Waffle, waffle.

CHEAP ~ My item last time about someone donating National Geographics to the district sparked a thought for Dr. Greg Wheeler. He wrote to say that the magazine (plus a ton of other materials) are on computer CD. He said you could fit the entire National Geographic set in an inch of shelf space, versus 100 feet for the magazines. "I'll bet a cost analysis would reveal that one computer plus CDs beats the cost of the full real collection every time." I think he's right, though I do like printed stuff (it smells nice), and that I can read volume one while somebody else reads volume two, but CDs are so cheap that it's hard to imagine not devoting a good part of a library's reference budget to developing a CD collection. For all I know the district is already doing this. I hope so.

SPEAKING ~ It was invigorating to hear so many people speak to the Board tonight. Just in case anybody else is interested, here's how its done: 1) Show up at a meeting. 2) Pick up an agenda near the entryway. 3) Find the spot on the agenda (usually one of the first few items, though you may be amazed at how long it takes to get to it) labeled "Public hearing for items not on the agenda." 4) When the board president calls out that item, come forward. You're on.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular meeting is Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

Copyright (c) 2000, Brad Haugaard