Thursday, February 5, 2009

Transparent Process The Color of Mud

This past Tuesday evening 200 community members and fellow parents attended the LG school board "workshop." It was an interesting study in contrasts. Articulate questions from parents kick started the meeting. The idea of self policing and review standards for teachers was brought up by a parent.
Many in the crowd advocated small class remain a non negotiable. Class size at 20, was a marketing pitch we all rode hard when the bond measure was up for vote and passed. Textbooks and the need for a change in Math curriculum a major and necessary hot button issue, discussion about the potential pink slips to teachers, music staff, admin staff. Although I do wonder if the superintendent has his own admin, and if that position might be under consideration as a potential cut as well.
The glow of honeymoon wanes for the superintendent. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. From a budgetary stand point, any complaints (gee, imagine that) would be the lack of time & numbers. Instead the power point presentation was a bit too snoozy lacking any real bite of quantitative to back up the qualitative.
When questioned about a few of the data points, Mr. Whitmore was unable to regurgitate any of the figures or data necessary to carry home the points in the presentation overhead. My initial reaction was to ask, why would these numbers be so unfamiliar to him? State and school district knee deep in the business of nothing but budgets. You might imagine the numbers perhaps rolling rote from his tongue, so much practice.
A spread sheet with a few key points teased out of the mix to give all involved in this apparently "transparent" process a clearer picture of just how grave the situation is. In our community, I assume we would be hard pressed to find those non savvy to the spreadsheet. The state is still at a standstill with it's budget too.
Lastly, a few community members could not attend the meeting because they missed the "memo" about the venue of Dave's Avenue vs Fisher. Apparently the note left on the door of the district school office read Fisher...we have no way of knowing just how many missed out due to the mix up.
What's next? The time line is Friday (tomorrow) for submitting a rough draft of revisions with the public opinion taken into account, Feb1oth will be a "draft revision" for the board and staff. March 10th is the next regular meeting with a final draft for the community. March 15th is the deadline for any notice for potential termination of staff (teacher) positions submitted to the state. The superintendent said that he didn't have time to incorporate the suggested items from the teachers since he had to write the draft resolution by Friday, huh? They kept stressing that the public can continue to comment till March but it sounds as if those comments won't necessarily be documented, kind of frustrating. One savvy parent sounded off about the meeting simply serving as a box to be checked off a list.

Sorry about the cliffnote version of the event but should you seek a forum to learn, discuss, and digest the issues with the school board members and district please email rwhitmore@lgusd.k12.ca.us or phone him; 408-335-2000.
A community user group or open online forum would be a welcome tool due to the depth and breadth of the subject matter, but noticed most of the eyes at the table looking a bit glazed over at the suggestion so.....perhaps you can email the board and superintendent any ideas you may have. Maybe you'll have better luck. I hope so for all our sake.

So after you read the presentation of this "transparent" process it should be clear as Mud.

5 comments:

Surabao said...

We too missed the meeting due to the note at the district. Sounds like we can't submit comments anyways with tomorrow's deadline.

Anonymous said...

there goes the real estate values. Tied directly to the quality of local schools.

Anonymous said...

I helped on the phone drive with the parcel tax, we talked up the small class size and quality of schools. Is
the decision made to cut teachers already?

Anonymous said...

This is not the first instance of muddy figures and murky reasons for budget cuts with regard to the LG school system.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher in the LGUSD, I was disappointed that the misinformation brought up about teacher reviews was not clarified by the superintendent or the board members. We go through multi-step review annually, complete with goals, standards, and formal observations that must be met. Not to mention the frequent drop-ins and informal observations by our principal on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. I feel I work with an entire staff of STELLAR teachers and am proud to work with such passionate, hard-working, and qualified personnel. I would be proud to have my child in any of their classes.

The last thing on the budget cuts should be teacher's positions. The small class size is imperative to the stellar education provided by the teachers/community of Los Gatos. Even one extra student makes a difference. The administration needs to think creatively to solve the budget problems.