Monday, November 22, 2010

Giving & Taking Tree (Board meeting recap)

Hello, hello, hello -- hope you are all well; I've been better, but HECK, I've certainly been worse.

Here's an expository recap of the Board meeting; some of it's shallow, some of it's deep...but then, so is the ocean. It is what it is -- glean from it what you may.

(Don't you just love the word *glean*?)

First of all, let me say that Lyman Kaiser is a BADASS...and I mean this in only the best way.  I don't know much about him, but I'll tell you this:  He Commands Respect.  So understated, sitting there with his yellow legal pad and pen, you just know that everyone is on his and her absolute Best Behavior.  Unlike me, who does the whole stenographer thang and types out every word everyone says, Mr. Kaiser just jots a note here and there; I get the sense he doesn't even need to review the video or audio recordings of the meetings -- he has like a photographic and phonographic (?) memory, and can tell you who said what when at a moment's notice.

Moving on to the moving of the records from the old Pike Elementary School Building.  Yeah, yeah, yeah...everybody already knows that I was/am/will be ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OPPOSED TO ANY AND ALL SCHOOL CLOSURES.  So what, I guess; a grip of them are closed now, and nobody cares but the people who still live in those neighborhoods and day in and day out have to drive past what used to be a school.  I'll tell you what:  for myself and my's a darn good thing my 1st grader is blessed with his mother's brains...otherwise, he'd really be suffering from having missed out on kindergarten as a result of Adams closing and its kids bussed over to Hunt; sorry, but my little man just wasn't ready for all of that, especially with a perfectly good school building being wasted across the street.

I just don't get it, though...I mean, I really puzzle over it.  Think about it this way:  say you were getting married...and just wanted an intimate gathering, because it would mean more to you that way.  But say that some know-it-all said, "Hey, well, Miss Bride, as far as announcements go, it would be a lot more efficient to invite EVERYONE AND HIS MAMA to your wedding -- that way, everyone will know at the same time, and you won't have to repeat yourself over and over -- you'll be able to save your breath."  Well, yeah...but Everybody Knows that the bigger the wedding...THE MORE EXPENSIVE AND PROBLEMATIC THE WEDDING.  Some Messages are Supposed to Be Intimate; Some Messages are Best Communicated in Smaller Settings.

I have simply no idea why the people at the District seem so damn SOLD on the Walmart SuperCenter method of educating children, and moving from schools with a capacity for 200 students to schools with a capacity for 600.  There's no way they can honestly advocate for "achievement"; I hate to say it, but the Administration at District 11 seems to care a lot less about its kids and a helluva lot more about $$$$...and it's no wonder, they way they sit and daydream the time away, preparing for their imaginary future.

Maybe they know something I don't neighborhoods will be going the way of the dinosaur, and women will give birth to some kind of sexless half-sheep, half-robot Play-Dough offspring who benefit from being manipulated while crammed  into small containers -- it works for cows, right?

I digress.

Anyway, I was always opposed to moving the records from the Admin building to Pike, because anyone with an interest in obtaining any type of records would have to drive all the way over to practically the west side to put in a request for them -- and you don't get them lickety-split on the spot.  The original move, I guess cost $80,000; now, because of a contractual commitment to AACL (I think I know who that is, but I'm not sure), the records have to move again.  Well, if you thought the Pike location was convenient, you'll really love their new destination:  that's right...The Warehouse, all the way out in Bum^#$% Egypt....right over there by Transportation.  Believe me: if you ever needed your kid to take a different bus than the one he or she was assigned, then you KNOW where it is I'm talking about -- the forms to request the different bus MUST be filled out in person AT the Transportation Building...and for some of us, it would be just as easy to let your kid climb up on your shoulders and carry them to school.

"This is one of the final pieces of the reutilization," said Glenn.  Yeah, yeah, yeah -- I doubt we'll ever hear the end of that line.

The cost to relocate the records themselves is about $60,000; the required building modifications to the Warehouse will run about $140,000.  What I want to know is, if there's so much room at the Warehouse for these records, why did the District have to use the Adams building to store all of the copiers and school furniture left over from the reutilization?   I mean, shouldn't there have been enough room for all of that at the Warehouse?  But there wasn't...and as I recall, the reason given at the time was that there were pallets and pallets of H1N1 vaccine supplies taking up a bunch of space at the Warehouse.

Of course the common sense location for the records would be at the Admin building.  Listen, the reason why that surplus furniture and equipment was stored at Adams is the exact reverse of why the records will be stored at the Warehouse:  convenience/inconvenience.  It was more convenient for people to *shop* at the Adams building like a second-hand bargain mart located mid-town...and now with the records, it's just more nonsense, farther away, designed to make it harder for the common folk to access records.

You knew it was coming, and here it is.  First, this is just my opinion...and sometimes, I think her skirts are cut just a tad too long -- but it's always wise to err on the side of conservative:  anyone wanting to add some class and sass to their haberdashery would be wise to imitate Mary Thurman, whose pantsuit made her look like a freshly sharpened navy blue colored pencil -- she was happening, and didn't even look like she was trying; she probably wasn't, cuz a lotta times, girlfriend just has it going on like that.

I have grown especially fond of Sandra Mann lately; I liked her sweater and earrings LOTS and I REPEAT -- I LOVE HER EYEGLASSES.  Even after she got cold and put on a warmer sweater, she just looked so nice and watching the evening news by the fireplace with hot cocoa in the winter time twenty-five years ago.  And her voice hasn't changed an iota -- yes, I'm digging on Sandra as of late, and think she's doing a decent job of representin'.

Ditto for Tom Strand -- I don't know about the rest of y'all, but doesn't he come across as damn affable?  And he LISTENS -- I love the way he encapsulates whatever free-form musing has been going on and repeats for the speaker, to ensure said musing has been accurately interpreted.  He just has a real easy-going way about him, and mild-mannered sense of humor -- I dig him, striped shirts and hand-print ties and all.

Mike Poore lately just doesn't seem to be trying very hard; I liked his coat better this week, though, and thank goodness his tie wasn't the exact same color as his shirt.  And of course, Bob and my hero Charlie are reliables, no matter what they're wearing.

Tom asked if there was a suggestion program in the District that would provide the suggester with some sort of monetary recompense for an especially efficient idea; Glenn said yes, but the only type of recompense would come in the form of profuse thanks, which was met by laughter.

Glenn was wearing one of my favorite suits; even though it wasn't black, it was quality-made, along with his tie, and had the effect of giving him a fitter and trimmer appearance.  Well prepared and rehearsed, Double G was simply on point -- as per usual.  But I noticed it again, that weird bearish behavior he ends up exhibiting whenever the talk turns to the 2011 legislative priorities, or "agenda" or "policy" or "platform" -- for some reason, there's a lot of tip-toeing about which of those words to use.  Gledich is always so smooth in dress and manner, and quick on his feet, expressing the nonchalant desire merely to have the Board speak with a presumably unified "D11 Voice"...but even though Glenn didn't slip into pre-hibernate state this time, I still saw it; whenever the discussion turns to this legislative stuff, it's like he turns into some kind of thoughtful honey-bear:  "Somebody's been sittin' in my chair...somebody's been eatin' my porridge..."

I dunno...maybe I'm mistaken...but believe me -- I've taken a fancy to studying a couple of these Wednesday Night Superstars with a magnifying glass...and I'm telling you: something's up with this legislative crap, otherwise, it wouldn't keep coming up again and again, and it wouldn't have such an odd and noticeable effect on he's getting ready to do some sort of Tantric Yoga.

There's an agenda for a breakfast, where the Board will meet with the incoming least one of whom hails from Colorado Springs (read:  Pete Lee) and enthusiastically supports D11 arriving at a list of things that matter to the D11 Board.  Remember, Pete is listed as the agent of record for Giving Tree Montessori Pre-School; it's my belief that he's the CEO/Owner/Big Kahuna of Giving Tree...and that would explain why a bunch of this legislative priority stuff seems to include Early Childhood Education initiatives.  Any doubts you have to this end can quickly be answered by reading the write up about Giving Tree in the Indepdendent's "Best Of" issue -- tell me it doesn't practically SCREAM "restorative justice for toddlers."  If I'm wrong, you can hand me a Peace Rose and we can talk about it civilly, in a One-World Way, like the big boys and girls do at the United Nations.

I dunno why the previous paragraph is all bold; God just told me to do it, and so I did.

Whatever Example Legislative Priorities ONE, TWO OR TEN are -- take a good look at 'em; after guesstimating Alejandro's temperature, one, two and ten are the ones that really matter to the clique all hot and bothered about this legislative stuff.

Bob Null said:  "We're putting the cart before the horse; let's read all of the policy, not just the parts that we like; what are we going to do with it, how do we get these items before us, not only have we not developed an agenda previously, we need to be willing to spend the extra time to review the long list of bills we'll receive, and take the time to read them; I'd challenge everyone to remember what was even discussed."

Bob said the only priority that came quickly to his mind was to never support any unfunded mandates...and to mention the things D11 would oppose and those D11 would like the new governor and the CDE to support and/or reject.  Bob again asked, "What's the difference between the policy and the agenda as opposed to the platform? That will hopefully have some impact...Larry Liston would like to meet with the Board to discuss our hopes and dreams and likes and dislikes; right now, while [these incoming legislators] are still new, we ought to grab them while they're interested."

The meeting with Liston is to occur on Nov. 29, 2010 -- I'm not sure if that's the same event as the Big Breakfast; whatever, however, Bob suggested reviewing the policy and making sure they all know what they mean by it in an upcoming work session.  Time sure seems of the essence, for whatever reason.

You know, it just came to me...what this is probably all about.  Some of you may already be aware that Colorado again lost out in Obama's Race to the Top; there's like a bazillion dollars available to the states that meet these new "standards" and such; these guys probably want to get all lined up so that *this* time, they'll be sure to snag the money.  Well, I've said it from the Git-Go:  somebody call these guys a WAAH-mbulance; so what if Colorado doesn't get a piece of that commie pie.  To be perfectly honest, we'd all be better off WITHOUT IT; pass me the pumpkin, the apple, the cherry, WHATEVER, just please NO COMMIE PIE FOR MY KIDS, THANKS VERY MUCH.

All of that federal money comes at a very steep price, my friends; doesn't the District already have PLENTY of money that it takes from we, the people??  Friends, I want to believe everyone means well, and none are motivated by selfishness and personal gain.  But believing doesn't necessarily make things so.

Wrapping up was Jan Tanner, and I'm just going to put up here what I typed as she spoke:  "I think it's important to solve a problem we maybe had in the past but we definitely have now; if anyone were to come to us from Educational Oversight and ask, 'What does D11 think about this?'  We need to be able to say, on this particular point we feel like such.  If we have legislative positions and objectives on funding, then whoever is called can say, well, based on the Board's position, we would support or reject this bill.  We can't even say what we think about certain things, we can't just pass it back onto the State; even if a majority of the Board believes in innovation, we can't tell the legislature that most of the kids and families in Colorado Springs feel the same way.  For instance, closing the achievement gap -- we may have certain things in mind to make that happen; we need to know what these things are in order to support them, go forth and talk to that Glenn and our grant writers can go back speak to these things.  I absolutely support it, no matter what word we use for it."

It was a long meeting, and right about now, I had to pop in a VHS tape and record the remainder of the meeting; I haven't watched it yet...I hope to, but can't/won't promise.  Keep your ears out for something called the "Underwood" approach to school finance; I dunno what it's all about, but it's got something to do with increased mill levy, increased property tax, either for perpetuity, or just for a three-year plan (YEAH, RIGHT).

Anyhoo, friends, love ya; thanks for reading this far, and ciao.

- Spydra

P.S.:  Consider participating in the National Opt-Out Day this coming Wednesday; I'll post some pretty compelling reasons why tomorrow.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Missed a spot

Ok, well, yeah, while I was sleeping, I missed a spot or two of Wednesday's regular meeting of the Board.

I really don't have time to fully devote right now -- birthday parties and housecleaning and laundry and the like...but I do STRONGLY RECOMMEND catching tonight's re-broadcast; I know I will.

On deck is discussion on the Irving building reutilization...WHICH I believe I've already said was brazenly lifted from a proposal I WROTE for the Irving Village Community group and Johnson Heating and Plumbing, and submitted to the District in response to their RFP a year ago.  The District ended up rejecting all of the proposals, wasting everyone's time; then all of a sudden, there's Mike Poore, presenting to the Board what a great idea it would be to start a vocational school at Irving (!).

Indeed, it is flattering and the source of much bemusement to see so much of what I'd envisioned for Irving taking shape.  But -- someone correct me if I'm wrong -- the remodeling at Irving took out the metal shop and the wood shop that came part and parcel with the building; the existence of those two rooms provided the very substance of the proposal to establish a building technical trades program at Irving.  I'll tell you what -- Rick Johnson is a man of high integrity, and the program he had envisioned for Irving was just perfect, all the way around, and I've always thought it was stupid of the District not to have partnered with his outfit to make this part work.

The proposal also suggested that the remainder of the building be used as a community center.  By becoming a resource for the community, it could have helped the people there heal from the closing of Irving Middle School -- because believe me:  the people in that area ARE still hurting over it, and will for a long time.  The community center portion of the proposal would have also offered some rental revenue; after all, there's the auditorium, the stage, tennis courts, cafeteria, computer rooms, etc.

I mean, the building was already all set up for it -- so there was no need for capital improvements.  DUH.

But having the tendency to take a good idea and make ONE GREAT BIG GIGANTIC HAIRY EXPENSIVE MONSTER out of it, the District, No Doubt, is finding that chewing all it's bitten off is gonna be one challenging mouthful. 

The price of gluttony.

I dunno...but I'm not at all sold on the the Achieve K-8 or K-12 program there -- why is the District so sure, and so ready to sink SO MUCH money and time and effort and retrofitting in something so uncertain?

It's called fixing what isn't broken.  YOO-HOO, you know what was a sure thing, School District 11?  Irving Middle School, and the kids who went to it and the families that grew from it and the neighbors who benefitted from it; yeah, not the kind of big money-maker like the District is always chasing after...but the regular, bread and butter kind -- you know...THE SUSTAINABLE KIND.

The meeting ends with the defeat of Jan Tanner's repeated suggestion to rejoin the Coalition for a Thorough and Uniform Colorado Public Education System.

Will write more on this later.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Hickenlooper selects Mike Merrifield to be one of his inner-circle henchmen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Morning Assembly what's up at Lincoln?  Who complained about the principal there, and the morning assemblies?

I'll be honest, this is the first I've heard of it; but I always sit up and take notice when citizen comments come from...shall we say, a more diverse group of opposed to the general PTO-ish cheerleaders.

So, I don't know all the details, but from what I could gather, some parents think it's a waste of time?

Well, for me, I think it's kinda cool to all meet at the start of the day for a quick morning pep-talk.  I was a Terrorette, and so maybe I'm a little biased; but there's not much more *rousing* to me than the sound of a school band doing the whole "let's get rowdy" thang...and the sound of a whole group of kids banging their feet on the bleachers and shouting is just like *WOW*.  I always loved pep assemblies; heck -- I always loved morning announcements.  Things like this didn't necessarily shape my day; but I really feel like it helped me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself; it's called "spirit" -- and if it helps the kids achieve, then so be it; be glad no one's starting out the morning with a (*gulp* dare I say it) prayer. 

And to be recognized in front of everyone at school is just cool.

The cutest little teacher from Lincoln came in and slapped everyone around with a bunch of achievement numbers, and the Lincoln community liaison said it well:  "If parents are upset that their kids didn't earn some sort of recognition, then the parents can recognize and reward their own child themselves."

"Here ya go,'s a gold star just for being you."

Anyway, I love school.  I love everything that makes kids love school.  I've only heard good things about Shirley Stevens (or is it Stephens, I dunno), and while I know I'm pretty uninformed on this subject, my gut is to support the principal.  Tell ya one thing for sure:  I didn't see a single soul step up in support of Ms. Herbst.

I love Sandra Mann's black hair, and her eyeglasses are the BEES KNEES y'all.

It was most unfortunate that the next item up was the District's audit and the results thereof.  I tried, and I tried, and I tried...but after three tries, I was out like a light -- as though an enormous Alejandro sandman crooned me a lullaby after covering my face with a cloth dipped in chloroform.  I tell ya, he has his way with me using that exact same tactic time and time again.

So, I'll have to tune in over the weekend to catch all that I missed.

( know who you are:  good job.  two weeks in a row.  nice sweater)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Madman Hold Music

While we wait:

I just love this song...wear headphones and turn it up LOUD, it is totally amazing.

Just a thought...

...that's been bothering me for some time:

I gotta hand it to Bob Null -- he advised against 60, 61, and 101 so many times...sometimes on the verge of tears...that he sold me against them.  I mean, even though it sure seems like D11 wastes a lot of money, wouldn't be terrible to take so much money away from them?

But won't it be a slap in the face, now that 60 and 61 were defeated, if these guys end up voting to close another school?

Even just one doubt about it, I WILL HAVE A FIT.

So, let's see how the Board discussions on the boundaries play out; I sure hope my suspicions on this one are proven wrong.

Come to meetin' night all -- be there, or be square.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mann Handled

Hey y'all,

Not a whole lotta time...but for my background mood music, I was just listening to cool, rockin' sounds of Wednesday's work session.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about the District's hiring practices, watch the first hour of the Wednesday's Board Work Session meeting.  Kudos to Mary Thurman, whose suit was just too-too; she is just like *so* together, she makes me feel like a hobo.

For those of you interested in the Purple Packet Process, watch the second hour of Wednesday's Board Work Session meeting. 

Sandra Mann, by the way...I'm not sure what's gotten into her, but lately her questions have been *WAY* pointed, and she doesn't let up until the question has been decisively answered (or not).  My admiration for her grows with each hard-hitting question she she insists on having answered.  She did the same thing to Brenda LaBrasse several weeks ago, and it seemed like she came pretty close to making Brenda cry. 

Make sure to listen to Sandra's questions about HRO's involvement in the Purple Packet Transition process and how it affects external applicants, as well as her astute observations on how a lot of the hiring and "transition" procedures seem totally slanted against the District and in the teacher's favor. Her look, by the way, was dramatically spider-like.

Tom Strand, Charlie Bobbitt, Al Loma and Bob Null all asked very good questions as well...with several of them commenting on HOW EXPENSIVE PURPLE PACKET EMPLOYEES ARE...and Tom actually saying something about "the appearance of [Purple Packet] double-dipping." 

Just a couple of random Strand thoughts here: Is he growing a beard?  Does he have a cold? He's been a bit hoarse for two weeks now. I really like the way he controls the meetings...and he ended this one with a pretty humorous quip; sometimes, his sense of humor really cracks me up.

Good to see Reverend Loma back in the saddle again.

Final comment:  It's a little troubling how LuAnn *always* comes to the teacher's defense, even when it's nearly impossible to do.

Wednesday's work session only went 2 1/2 hours, so it's manageable; it's a must watch, so as soon as it becomes available online, watch it.

Good job to everyone on their clothing choices. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Are we too late?

...well, are we?
check out this video

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thanks alot Dan Maes

What was your point in staying in?  Don't you realize that you have become one of the most reviled men in the state of Colorado??  Don't you care???

It literally disgusts me that you allowed this to happen to everyone in Colorado.  I AM MAD AT YOU.