Monrovia School Link ~ Number 51 ~ Dec. 11, 2002
It looks as if Monrovia - along with the other school districts in California - will face some pretty tough budget cuts, depending on how much monbey the state deigns to hand over. Also, musical chairs time. The new board president is Frances Cash.
~ Brad Haugaard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CUTS ~ Chief Business Officer, Linda Dempsey, certified that the district has enough money to pay its bills for the rest of the 2002-03 school year... maybe. However, everything gets pretty dicey depending on how much money the state whacks out of its educational expenditures. Board member Bruce Carter said he estimates the district could lose $2.5 million, about the cost of running an elementary school. Superintendent Louise Taylor said, "We will almost certainly need to cut." But, she added, "What could we cut? It is going to be a formidable challenge." Frances Cash called the likely cuts "pretty dire."
HELPING ~ This brings me back to a pet peeve. The state seems to regard this money as its property. In my fuzzy recollection, the state began collecting the money for the districts so the funds could be distributed equally among the districts, as required by a judicial ruling. So how did this money become the state's? Maybe the moral is: Beware of state governments "helping" collect your money for you.
NEW OFFICERS ~ The board members rotated into new positions tonight, unanimously electing each other into new offices. Frances Cash is the new president; Betty Sandford is the new vice president; and Monina Diaz is the new clerk. I've never quite figured out what the clerk does.
KUDOS ~ New President Frances Cash commended outgoing President Carter (Bruce, not Jimmy). She said he is not just known in Monrovia, but across the state, as a very powerful, passionate speaker. Superintendent Taylor said he has two skills not commonly found in the same person: the ability to listen and yet to be able to speak with a "formidable presence and voice." I can vouch for that voice. Sounds very authoritative.
STUDY ~ Outgoing President Carter said that in its study session the board heard from the principals of Bradoaks, Canyon Early Learning Center, and Clifton Middle School. He said they briefly presented data on state standards and students' performance. Carter said, "We're encouraged with the stratgies to raise student achievement." Good.
BIG JOB ~ Speaking of study sessions, Superintendent Louise Taylor said that few people appreciate the task of a board member. She said that in addition to meetings, the task also involves a lot of outside stuff, plus reading board reports and attending study sessions, which, she said, are not televised (Nor, I might add, are they publicized in any manner, shape or form that I am aware of. If anybody out there has ever heard in advance what the topic will be for a study session, please tell me. I'm dying to know if this miracle has ever occurred.) But back to the topic, I basically agree; a board member's task is indeed a lot more than just attending an occasional meeting.
PRETTY ~ The reception room at the school district office was beautifully decked out with a Chris... I mean, a "holiday" tree. Pretty, green, nice twinkly lights.
SEASON ~ Tis the season, I guess. The district acknowledged tons of gifts from various community-minded folks and organizations. There were the mandatory cars for the auto shop - an Olds, Dodge and Mitsubishi - plus printer cartridges, cold cash and even a football down-marker and chain set. The Monrovia Arts Festival Association gave $7,300 for arts programs. Tidy sum.
SANTA FE PRINCIPAL ~ Stephanie Hall, a new Santa Fe Middle School assistant principal, stopped by the board meeting briefly to be introduced. She has degrees from USC, Cal Poly Pomona, and Cal State LA. She began teaching at Chafee High School, then taught English at Arcadia High and later became dean of student services there. She believes that, "All school decisions should be based on empowering teachers, students and parents." I don't know what that means, but it sounds nice.
SIGNALING ~ The board has decided to allow students to use what it calls "Electronic Signaling Devices" (pagers, cell phones and walkie-talkies) in school, with a few provisions. Gotta turn them off during instructional times, except in an emergency (if authorized by school officials), or upon direction of a physician if the thing is essential to the health of the student. That seems pretty reasonable.
LETTER ~ I mentioned last time that Santa Fe and Bradoaks progressed by just a single point in the APIs. I got this response: "I am not a big fan of Bradoaks, but I am of Santa Fe (just from personal experience with my child). Did the Board happen to point out that a majority of Bradoaks students feed into Santa Fe? [No.] Most of the traditionally low-score schools do. Also I'm sure that there are differences in parental involvement between Clifton and Santa Fe (and probably the Arcadia schools too). Sometimes we forget that teachers aren't the only ones responsible for good or poor test scores. Of course, a good curriculum is a must, as is a strong administration."
TEACHERS ~ I agree with this writer, but I'm going to go a big, radical step further and say that in a long-term sense it isn't the teacher's fault at all. What I mean is that any continuing problem that is within the control of the district (I exclude state governments, acts of God, and parents, here) is the board of education's fault. It is a school administration's responsibility make sure its teachers are doing their job. It is the district administration's job to make sure the school administrations are doing their job. And it is the school board's responsibility to make sure the district administration is doing its job. If a school board is doing its job, I think you'll have strong schools.
NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular Monrovia school board meeting is on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.
Copyright (c) 2002, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web at: monroviaschools.tripod.com