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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 34 ~ Nov. 15, 2001

You haven't finished your Christmas shopping, have you? Oh, good! I was afraid I wouldn't get to you in time. Many of you have been asking, "What does one get the school board member who has everything?" The solution - a copy of Roger's Rules of Order. Read on; all will become clear in due course.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

MUSICAL CHAIRS ~ Tonight everybody played musical chairs. Bruce Carter was elected board president, Frances Cash became vice president and Betty Sandford (who was out sick) was elected clerk to the board, whatever that is. These little intra-board elections are almost always a formality since the offices pretty much just change by rotation. Keeps the peace, I guess.

STILL EARLY ~ I said last time that Bruce Carter would do okay as board president. Was I right? Uhh... I'm going to plead that it's a bit early to tell, though I wasn't impressed by how he handled a couple public hearings. For a public hearing, the president is supposed to say, "I declare the public hearing to be open," and then look out at the audience (such as it is) and ask, "Is there anyone who would like to comment on this matter?" Then, because nobody'll say anything, he'll say, "Seeing none, I declare the hearing closed," then the board will vote.

HIS WAY ~ Bruce did it differently. As far as I could tell, he never declared either public hearing open, though when informed that the item required a public hearing, he humorously asked, "Is the public hearing?" Nor did he invite anybody to speak, though I won't swear to it since my hearing is a bit off (I did something really stupid with a pistol in the Army). He did, however, close one of the hearings, which is very tricky, much like closing a door that isn't open. Now granted, I was the audience, and I wasn't about to say anything, but still, for that one-in-a-billion chance that somebody *does* want to say something, maybe we should follow the rules.

WANT TO ~ This whole public hearing business reminds me that I'd really like to see the board hold public hearings because it *wants* to hear from the community, not just to comply with state law. When you want people to come, you publicize the meeting. You announce it to the 13 people watching the school board show on cable, you put it in the newspaper, you send notices home to parents with their kids, you tell the PTA and the chamber of commerce and the city hall. In other words, you make an effort.

SCORES ~ I noticed in the agenda that the study session preceeding the regular board meeting (which I didn't attend) consisted of half-hour "Site Accountability Reports" from the principals of Clifton Middle School, Monroe and Wild Rose elementary schools, and Canyon Early Learning Center. Then student representative Alex Laushkin mentioned a study at the high school designed to figure out how to raise test scores. Clues, I think, that the district feels the sting of recent rotten upper-grade scores, and - more to the point - appears to be taking some action.

IN THE MONEY ~ Wild Rose Elementary and Santa Fe Middle School have decided what to do with the money they won for doing better on state tests. Wild Rose is getting computers, tables for the lunch area, a P.A system for the cafeteria, and other stuff. Santa Fe is getting computers, a marquee, a copy machine and what not. Both are putting lots of money in their piggy banks. Wild Rose, $31,165 and Santa Fe, $40,104.

HEALTHY ~ Auditor Jeff Nigro of the CPA firm Nigro, Nigro and White told the board that the district is in pretty good financial shape, with a "healthy" reserve of more than the required three percent. The firm gave Monrovia - like most districts in the state - a "qualified opinion."

UNQUALIFIED ~ Why not an "unqualified opinion," which is the highest rating? Because, Nigro said, the district would need a full historical accounting of its land and buildings, including, for example, how much it spent to buy the land the construct the buildings. A big pain in the neck or...

BUT ~ But, if I understood, the state is going to begin requiring just such an accounting of "fixed assets." Can you imagine tracking down costs from 1920 or something? Business Director Linda Dempsey said the district is trying to hire a consultant to help do this.

HONOREES ~ Congratulations to clerical assistant Miriam Kagel and fifth grade Bradoaks teacher Suzanne Keck on being named employees of the month by the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce and the school district.

MAD WOMAN ~ I get a vague feeling that Monrovia High will be presenting the play "The Mad Woman of Chaillot" on Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15, though at what time I do not know. I suspect this because student board representative Alex Laushkin repeated it three times in rapid succession, then Board President Bruce Carter told the cable camera for good measure. Nobody said where it's going to be, but I think the high school would be a good bet. So if you enjoy plays - or mad women - support our thespians.

QUOTE DU JOUR ~ Board Member Monina Diaz on some material presented at a conference she attended: "It was not new, but it put language to the things we've been talking about."

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ I missed you at tonight's meeting. Don't miss the next exciting episode! It'll be on Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

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