Fred Fife is here talking about reapportionment and fair representation. Everyone clapped, but let’s face it, the west side isn’t going to get any more representation than they’ve ever had. And this is even though about half the students in the district live on the west side of the city.
Another speaker asked for transparency and maybe a website to track the precinct-ifying. The problem is that the school board really kind of follows the city. And some of think the city follows the state, which as you know, enjoys the practice of gerrymandering.
Rosemary Hunter – University Neighborhood Partners – came to ask that as the board approaches redistricting please be transparent and seek involvement. There are informal networks of community leaders who could help in this process.
Julie Miller, principal of Wasatch Elementary, noted that they have a persistent 30 percent gap between hispanic and caucasian students. She’s worried about their arts programs because of declining scores – especially in language arts. “The arts are the very breadth of discovery,” she says.
Heather Bennett asked if Julie had any ideas about how to measure the effect of an integrated arts program. The Sorensen Foundation apparently is looking at that for the legislature, which will probably think it’s an evil socialist plot.
Now we’re talking about Exceptional Children Services. Collaboration and support are the keystones, according to Randy Schlebe. This is one of the largest staffs with over 100 people. But some of these kids need one-on-one support.
So I wonder if Margaret Dayton knows that Salt Lake District believes it has a responsibility to provide special ed support to the private schools in the area. Amanda Thorderson wants to know how things are shaking out now that Sue Sakashita is gone and no longer leading the Extended Learning Program – for the district’s gifted kids.
Randy doesn’t think things are disjointed or fractured, but rather are “synergetic,” a new word which we in the cheap seats kind of like, even in the era of Sarah Palin-isms.
There are some fun acronyms in special ed: HAS, for instance, means Highly Aggressive Students, and Artic Classes, which means something about Articulation for kids who are having trouble with speaking.
Alama Uluave wants to know about how you treat kids who lick the floor, and how you handle the other kids being jealous because they’re not getting attention. This started a discussion about what happens at home or at school and you can meld the two, which really means that there’s no answer to the licking-floor question.
Heather wants to know about setting aside 15 percent of IDEA money to prevent overidentification of any group of kids among the special ed population. Randy says it was a concern about overidentification of English Language Learners and kids of color, but with autism rising and in districts where you can access identification tools, we see overidentification of white kids.
Alama felt it was necessary to talk about how giving a kid a calculator and then giving him or her another two days to complete their assignment really helps with their confidence level. I’m sure that has something to do with special ed.
Now for the BUDGET. The recommendation is that all take 7 percent cut. Growth in students is huge. The legislature wants to set aside $92 million and won’t tell anyone where they’ll distribute it. Like a shell game or something.
The structural imbalance was $3 million, had a plan to get down to $1.2 million until the bad news on Monday. Now the leg wants to get rid of funding formulas, which guarantees certain populations are taken care of.
Greg Bell apparently told McKell that there are “new realities” and the norm will be “starving the beast.” The legislature was really mad because districts couldn’t track textbooks. “The new normal means it’s never coming back.”
Now for the common elementary school calendar. Egad. The idea is to save $125,000 by scrapping the year-round schools. Amanda said it’s been difficult, but really was a kind of process. She first thought the money was secondary. The info on test scores, though, showed that there’s not a lot of difference and “we’re not putting students first.” And then the budget discussion tonight just literally scared the pants off everyone.
Why isn’t this a site-based decision now when it was 20 years ago, asked Rosemary, who’s Major Issue since being elected appears to be site-basededness. McKell said it wasn’t site-based, but the schools were allowed to weigh in. Heather says it was always a part of the budget discussion, and that now that we look at the data, it doesn’t make sense to keep them.
Rosemary says we’re eliminating some school choice, and she agrees with Laurel Young on this, which is positively puzzling since Laurel was never a school choice person.
Alama’s been struggling with this, too. He’s saying something like it’s meaningless to compare two failing schools. Anyway, he saw year-round schools out-performing others, but oops, that’s not the case now. Oh yeah, and he’s talking about school choice, too.
Oh and he thinks there’s a double standard in the district. I guess this means if the year-round schools had been on the east side, they wouldn’t be targeted.
Kristi Swett says it’s not about de-valuing choice, but oh gosh, they may have to eliminate some choice programs if the data indicates. We have to make hard decisions sometimes, she says.
Amanda says there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the calendar committee and its process. I think this is a little digression, but who am I to say. The calendar lands in the status quo, she says.
Heather agonized over it to, and she’d like to give everyone a fall break and what they want. But the data on Title I schools doesn’t make significant difference for kids, and may handicap them slightly.
Eek, Doug Nelson says he’s going to rant, but knows the decision’s already been made. Still, how come we start school on a Wednesday when we could start on a Monday and throw in those extra two days during fall break.
McKell says with a common calendar, you could ask the district to survey all the schools about whether they want to have a longer fall break.
Well now he’s done it. They’re making Patrick Garcia go up to “testify” while one of the SLTA people is agitatedly pointing to the calendar options. Still they went ahead and voted in favor of the Common Calendar and Rosemary and Alama voted no. Goodbye Year-round (or year-roundish) schools.
Patrick says they could easily gather info from the schools about coming back to school a couple of days earlier. McKell wants to get this back in three weeks. So it looks like they’ll have the info by the March meeting.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.