Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meeting excerpts

Any time I'm able to be at a live D11 meeting of the board, I feel like I'm at the Oscars or it's a really special event.

I guess it is.

[Commence Recap]

As Billy Crystal used to say, "It's better to look good, than to feel good."  Suffering as I have with a week's worth of crud, tonight saw me doing neither.

It Is for this reason that I'm going to entirely let slide the one fashion faux-pas that snagged my eye hard.

How now, brown cow! From what I could see, most everyone dressed quite appropriately.  In front of each of the board members there sat a hat, like that worn by that Cat in the Hat!  "Oh, put that hat on, Jan," I thought, "pretty please; then smile for me big when you hear me say, 'Cheeze!'"  But time passed and Jan did not put that hat on; if ever she did, well, by then I was gone.

Just a bit of Dr. Seuss birthday fun.

Sandra Mann was belle of the ball in a subtle and shimmery white blouse that was quite simply All. of. That.

The show started with the winners of the PTA 2010 Reflections contest, the theme of which was, "Together We Can."  Several young people were recognized and made everyone proud.  

Next up was North Middle School and some of the great things happening there.  The video below does absolutely no justice to either the very impressive mural *or* the art teacher who was on hand to tell about it. Great teachers often have great presence...and the art teacher at North Middle School does

North further received a $300,000 grant that's being devoted to different publishing projects; students then presented each Board member with their own unique piece to keep, which the Board then showed off to the appreciative crowd.  My husband and my daughter are both North alumni -- GO VIKINGS!

March is School Social Worker Month.

Then came Citizen's Comments.  

Up first was Rick Johnson, who was there with several others to promote the innovative Building Technical Trades program being offered at the Career Building Academy.  The program takes the math and science lessons learned at school, and applies those principals to new home construction.  Students participating in the program will actually build a new home from start to finish, and at present, 70 kids are in the process of building two new homes.

One such young man described how the program had captured his interest like nothing had previously done; whereas he'd typically been a poor student, his grades were now straight A's.  He went on to tell of his growing confidence in the use of tools and estimating materials.  "I hope one day to be an instructor for the Career Building Academy, and one day possibly even operate a construction company of my own."

A worthwhile, super, super cool program...offered up by a group of consummate professionals.

Rick Johnson, by the way, also swept the Men's Best categories with ease... and this was despite the fact that BOTH Alejandro and Yellowman were in the hizzy.  Rick, the Big Kahuna at Johnson Heating & Plumbing, is a big guy...with a big voice...and even *bigger* presence -- think Zeus, Neptune, or the Brawny Man, and you get the picture.  When it came his turn to speak, he stood up looking *snazzy* making everything and everyone else in the room seem almost lilliputian in contrast.  

Bruce Cole  came to address the issue of public negotiations.  He sees it through many different lenses, he is a teacher, he is a member of CSEA, he is a taxpayer and voter in the city, he is a precinct chair, he holds closely to his political views.  Politics are a blessed reality of a free society.  It's important that the public know what their government is doing; if they are displeased, they have the right to vote them out.  There is no place for the public to doubt the integrity of their public servants; with that said, logical people understand that some things need to happen in private; even Jesus had some meetings with his disciples behind closed doors.  

Any agreements made in the negotiation process are open to public scruitiny.  There are some people, including some on the board, who are incorrectly discussing the details of this situation.  The parameter -- the big picture -- is looked at and then divided.  

These negotiations actually involve less than 1% of $1 billion dollars. There are no goons from the union bullying teachers into what to do and what to say.  CSEA membership is made up only by teachers.  There are various communication channels that are open.  Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent, but inflammatory language is only messing things up.  The negotiation process is long and arduous, and one goal is to remove the confrontational nature of bargaining.  IBB is working, but the learning curve is weak.  Neither side is ready to publicly show the model.  Both sides need the freedom to stumble…without people with ulterior motives to criticizing every step.

We risk otherwise becoming serfs to the tyrannical rule of urgency and expediency.  Living through CSAP, students have worked hard to show what they have been learning.  We need to get together and determine what w
ould-be tyrants would feign to. 

Kevin Marshall of CSEA up next.  "We call it bargaining, but that term reduces the nature of what the discussions are like…collaboration, responsibility, excellence, work, buildiung relationships.  Recently, forces outside the group are hoping to sway negotiations.  He hopes that everyone understands what’s happening here.  We have accomplished more as partners than as adversaries.

Jeff Crank of AFP followed up; I posted his comments in my post, "Cranking it up."

Victory Ebright - came to thank the board for listening to their ideas about expanding some of the programs at Buena Vista Elementary.  Montessori philosophy is a popular alternative to traditional educational methods.  They have a detailed presentation they will share at a later date.  Jannice Swift is developing a new buisiness model. 

The gentleman in the video below spoke after Jeff Crank and before Ms. Ebright.

Special Reports:

Charlie:  Citizens Bond Oversight will have their last meeting tomorrow night in the board room and discussing their fusion with the executive DAAC.

Al:  they were alarmed at terms like “backroom deals”….and while nothing of the sort is occurring, the appearance of that happening yet remains.  The only way to eliminate that type of characiature is to let people see for themselves the parameters, and the whats and the whys; for this reason, he feels it's important for these negotiations to be open to the public.

Sandra:  she received a lot of response from the public on this subject, and thanked CSEA for partnering with them.  The board is continuing discussions with CSEA and exploring ways for the dialogue to be opened up to the public.  CSEA has been a good partner for them. The community engagement meeting at Palmer was a success; there was a lot of discussion, and the event was very well attended. 

Bob: insurance committee has met, and will be presenting to the board.  The investment committee – there’s a good team together on that.  EDAAC listened to a panel of experts discuss the achievement gap.  The audit committee just merged with the milo committee, and this year, there’s an external company who'll be auditing the plans and the spending to assure rules are being complied with as agreed.   Bob is a member of the negotiating committee, and it was he who made the motions for the discussions to be opened.  While the contract does not allow him to protest the negotiations, his goal remains to open the negotiations; here are two sides.  Title One committee – how we spend those monies will be part of the combined grant report, and Holly Brilliant has done a great job explaining things to the group.

Tom:  I missed what Tom said.

Jan:  At the CASB winter conference a great speaker, Jamie Fullmer addressed the audience of approximately 200 school board members, along with the lieutenant governor and the state board.  Jan was at the communications meeting in February, and was happily surprised to find a great group of women there.  She was also involved in working on a family toolkit for _________. The Palmer community engagement meeting was a very good meeting.  The Crystal Apple award is coming up, there are some great nominations, you can send a teacher appreciation note to recognize and thank a teacher.  Jan then commended the public on their interest in school district matters, and remarked that there are many opportunities to get involved in the district.  "You can do all kids of things, there are school accountability committees, calendar committee,  please get involved."

(read:  "Spydra, please get a hobby."  But, indeed, I do have a hobby, though my husband says it's more of an infatuation.  I prefer to use its proper term, Janology).

Luann:  Communications – a lot of good coonversations, enrollment and withdrawl discussions, we talked about parent engagement, board engagement sessions, ESP.  On April 30, 2011, the regional science fair will be held at Swigert.  LuAnn attended the CASB conference with Jan, and confirmed it was an awesome experience; they were there on the floor of the house, and able to discuss different concerns regarding budgets.  She also confirmed that the community engagement meeting at Palmer was awesome and student led.


And that's when my coach arrived and I departed. 

For the Record:  I apologize for anything erroneous and/or inaccurate I may have said with regard to the CSEA Master Agreement negotiations...which is why it's important for the discussions to be public in accordance with and as stated in the Master Agreement.  No one wants to split hairs over the minutiae...but neither does anyone want to be left in the dark.  Allow me to use a 21st Century metaphor, and use sex education symbolism to support that contention:  keeping the talks closed is akin to an abstinence-only approach, whereas transparency includes some condom explanation and safe-sex instruction...lessening the risk of the unplanned, unknown and misunderstood.  Contract negotiations that are entirely open to the public are even more useless than tightly closed talks, akin to the perverse, Thank-You-That's-Entirely-Too-Much-Information free-for-all so often on display at GLBT Pride Parades.  

Common sense is common ground.

And while I was mistaken about the board policies being up for discussion and review...

Jan Tanner is, evenso, reaping unethical harvest from her as-yet (formally) undisclosed, 10-year, million dollar contract to provide lunchroom pizza for School District 11.  

No, we are NOT talking about a Mom and Pop Pizza Shop; here, go get the big Yellow Pages phone book....look and see how many Dominos Pizzas there are between Monument and Pueblo; now count all of them.  Next, estimate the revenues, or find the actuals, if you know how to obtain that information (Ed. -- and if you do, please clue me in).  Tally up the figures, don't forget to carry the one...and as you consider those numbers, consider that the Tanner family owns or has an interest in EVERY DOMINOS PIZZA FROM MONUMENT TO PUEBLO -- AND THAT'S JUST IN COLORADO.  

If you've tasted Dominos pizza lately, I needn't go any further in explaining why this situation is a crime.

Thank you, and good night.

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