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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 33 ~ Nov. 14, 2001

Mmm, this is good. Pardon me while I finish this chocolate cupcake. Okay - whoops, gotta wipe my fingers - Okay, school board. Well, I'm a bit depressed because both school board candidates I voted for won. But on a more upbeat note, the district has honored Jennifer Dana as its teacher of the year! A truly fine choice.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

TEACHER OF THE YEAR ~ Jennifer Dana, a third grade teacher at Mayflower School, has been honored as the district's teacher of the year. She got flowers and balloons and one of those clocks on a wooden stand with pens on either side. Plus, Mayflower staff members sang her a song to the tune of Bingo (You know, "There was a farmer had a dog, and Bingo was it's name-o.") No doubt this was highly embarassing to her, which was probably the point, but in any case, it was a well-deserved honor, and I speak with authority since both our kids went through her class. Miss Dana, however, seems to think she's kinda average. "I'm just doing my job," she protested. If only everyone was so average.

MORE HONORS ~ The board also honored Lisa Michael, Jenny Price and Joe Price for their work with special education students, Marsha Coronado for coordinating a student art exhibit, Personnel Commissioner Sandy Hollifield for 12 years service on behalf of classified employees (the non-teacher, non-administrator staff members), and...

WHOOPS ~ The board attempted to honor a whole list of Monrovia High Key Club members, but none of them were there. Alex Laushkin, the high school student representative to the board, finally solved the mystery. He said the wrong list had been sent over to the district office. But there were some Key Club members present, so whomever they were, they got honored.

AMMUNITION ~ The board began the approval process for its new "Governance Standards," which is basically a set of rules the board says it will play by, or, as I prefer to think of it, ammunition. For example, listed first among the board's responsibilities is the requirement that it "shall involve the community, parents, students and staff in developing a common vision for the district..." Let me use this bullet. Community involvement happens to be an area in which I think the district has done a poor job. I think it's idea of soliciting community involvement is to get a few like-minded friends to "represent" the community. Instead, how about holding a series of board meetings at each of the district's schools and publicizing the meetings to the parents at those schools, asking them to come say what they think could be improved? Or, just send press releases to the newspapers and notices home to parents announcing a public hearing for people to comment on the district?

REMEMBRANCE ~ These "governance standards" remind me of something I saw an Arcadia School Board member do. He worked with the board to get the various employee groups to write their own standards of behavior. It struck me as brilliant. When asked to write down their standards, people tend to be pretty noble (It's *doing* what you write that's the tough part). But after you've written your standards and agreed to them, other people can hold you accountable. And since you came up with the standards yourself, you can hardly complain.

THANKS ~ Okay, I'll keep doing this newsletter. I must have recieved a dozen or more e-mails, a few in-person comments, some remarks relayed by my wife, and a phone call, all encouraging me to continue. So I'll stick it out until I can't stand it anymore or until the next election, whichever comes first. Thanks for all the nice comments, everyone. You know, getting more subscribers would sure help me stand it longer. Hint, hint.

MUFFED ~ One of the reasons I thought about quitting was the lack of serious candidates for the latest school board election. I found that pretty discouraging, and frankly, I think the folks at City Hall and at the Chamber of Commerce muffed it. I can't believe nobody at either of those institutions knows a highly qualified administrator who could make a difference on the school board.

SQUEEKY ~ But on the other hand, for this election even *I* was hesitant, so how can I blame everybody else? If I had to throw a member off the board, neither Bruce Carter or Monina Diaz would have been my first choice. But next time! Next time if it's just the incumbents and your mouse Squeeky, one of my votes will go to Squeeky. I'll even put up a lawn sign: "Squeeky for School Board!" What I'm hinting at is that there is at least one board member who just flat shouldn't be there. And I'll leave it at that for now.

DO OKAY ~ When the board reorganization happens (next meeting I think) Bruce Carter will probably be the new board president. I know I've said hard things about him, but I think he'll do okay. I'm still miffed at some of his recent comments, which seemed to be an attempt to deflect criticism for rotten test scores, and I still think he doesn't exercise half the intelligence he has, but now that the election is over and his seat is safe maybe he won't feel obliged to make excuses, and maybe being president will encourage him make full use of the brains I'm convinced he has.

CHEAP ~ Perhaps you read about Monina Diaz' little campaign flyer. I got it the day after the election so I threw it out without looking at it, but the Star-News says the flyer had a letter from, quote, "Mayor Robert (Bob) Bartlett, City of Monrovia," that looked a lot like an official mayoral endorsement, though, of course, it wasn't. The Star-News thought this was tacky, and I agree. The paper said Bartlett has apologized and that Diaz should as well. Yup. Kind of a cheap little political trick, Monina. And that's from someone who voted for you.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular meeting is on Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. I'll save you a seat.

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