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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 69 ~ Nov. 10, 2003

Thank you very much everybody! You really came through and I am so grateful to you for voting in this last school board election. I think things will be different now. Not perfect, but better. No board report this issue. I just wanted to talk a bit about the election results (I am two-thirds thrilled!) and - I really hope you'll read this part - about what to do about this newsletter.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad@sacklunch.net)

ELECTION ~ For the election night I was invited to attend a "results party" at the Fourth Dimension for Clare Chesley, Bryan Wong and Alex Zucco. (I guess its wise to call it a "results party" rather than a "victory party" just in case.) Anyway, when I walked in KGEM was on and was showing the totals for the absentee ballots, and the totals didn't look very good. But, hey, those are just the absentees. After a while four precincts reported in, and, gulp, it still looked bad. We were feeling pretty glum. Clare wandered off and in a little bit we heard a lot of whooping and hollering at the other side of the hall. Well, I thought, at least somebody is having a good time tonight. Then Clare came running up and yelling "We won! We won! We won" and she started jumping up and down (literally) and we looked at the numbers on the TV and then looked at Clare and wondered what she'd been smoking. Well, her husband had plugged his laptop in to a connection at the bar and got the latest results from the county, and Yup! They'd won.

TWO ~ Well, two of them had won. Alex Zucco did not, and I'm sorry about that. I remain convinced she'd have made a good board member. So that's why I said I'm two-thirds thrilled. Actually, while that's how it calculates out mathematically, I'm actually a lot more thrilled than two-thirds because even with just two new members I'm convinced things are going to change on the school board. Let me explain why.

WHY ~ Because Bryan Wong and Clare Chesley have a) backbones and b) the understanding that the board should take the lead in running the district and c) a desire to get what little discussion there is out of the back rooms and before the public and d) the desire to dig into and understand the issues the staff reports about and e) a lot of smarts. Also, whatever criticisms I've leveled at the current board members, I don't think I've ever accused any of them of being obstructionist. If Clare or Bryan suggest a good idea, I think they'll go along, and hey, they may even get in the swing of things and suggest an idea of their own! Also, even if someone was inclined to be obstructionist, which, as I say, I doubt, I think there may even be a working majority on the board in favor of change. In watching Monina Diaz I am beginning to think her outlook is closer to that of Bryan and Clare than it is to the rest of the board. And finally, even if the three current members were to line up against Clare and Bryan (again, I highly doubt this) all it would take is for them to talk. Whether they are in the minority or majority, all they have to do is bring up the issues they want to talk about in the regular meetings and bingo! Suddenly things are out in the open.

HARD PART ~ I'm sure the election campaign was draining, but as the pundits always say, now comes the hard part. Undoubtedly it will be hard, especially with the state budget crunch, but a few things occur to me that would be easy first steps. Some of these are Alex Zucco's ideas, but since she won't be on the board to push her ideas, let me do it for her: 1) Get the district Web site up to date and keep it up to date. In the candidates' forum Alex mentioned trying to find information on the Web site about the district and finding it out of date and incomplete. I have had the same experience with the site, and in the words of my grandma, it's a disgrace to the hooty owls. 2) Have contact information for board members and staff members on the Web page and in school publications. This means email addresses, phone numbers, and paper mail addresses. Board members should want to have contact with the public, and if they don't want it, well... they should get it anyway. 3) How about at the end of each meeting leaaaning over toward the cable TV camera and inviting the public to the next meeting? 4) How about holding occasional board meetings at the various schools, maybe, as Alex suggested, in conjunction with a PTA meeting? 5) Hold hearings on topics of interest to the public, and let the public know the topic and when the hearing will occur. 6) Bring the discussion out of the back rooms and into the board room. Make study sessions the exception rather than the rule.

SCHOOLLINK ~ Now, about this newsletter. I've been saying since about January that I would only do this newsletter through this year, and the final regular board meeting for the year is coming up in December. In a way, I'm relieved, but in another way I've kind of grown attached to the newsletter and would hate to see it disappear. Plus, quite a few of you have said that I can't quit now, just as things are starting to change and parents are beginning to get involved. Nevertheless my strongest feeling is that attending these board meetings 17 or 18 times a year is just too much. So, what to do? Well, Reader Ann Hodgdon suggested organizing a group of people who would take turns attending the meetings and writing up a description of what happens. Then I could send it out. I'd be happy to do that! I'd even be willing to attend the meetings a couple times a year. But, I told Ann, I hate organizing people. Would she be willing to do that? She said she would. So, if you are not intimidated by people sitting at a semicircular table up front and if you can write a fairly clear sentence, maybe you'd be willing to join a small band of people to continue putting out the Monrovia SchoolLink? If you are willing, please let me know (I'd be happy to offer whatever guidance you feel you need), and if we get enough people so that it's light work for everybody, we'll do it! Or, if you have any other ideas, please let me know. I'm brad@sacklunch.net .

Copyright (c) 2003, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web, when I get around to putting it there, at: http://www.sacklunch.net/MonroviaSchoolLink