Friday, May 29, 2009

Take it to the Board!

In the interest of making sure our opinion is heard, I'd encourager people to attend the LASD Board meeting this Monday night at 7pm. There is always a "public comment" time, at the beginning of the Board meetings. I plan to speak to the board about my feelings related to the BCS offer. I'd encourage all of you to do the same.

To be clear, I don't believe that the LASD Board is entertaining this offer seriously. However, it is important that we nip this behavior in the bud. Please come, and if possible, wear a GB shirt. I've seen this before though- even if you don't speak, the show of support will have an impact. Speaking slots are typically 2-3 minutes long, but of course you don't have to speak for the entire time.

Board meeting is at Covington, normally in the District Board room. 7pm. See you there.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who's kids come first?

The Bullis Charter School has recently proposed making a one-time payment of $3m to the LASD in exchange for exclusive long-term use of the Gardner Bullis Campus.

I understand the idea of advocating for one's own children, and I have been frustrated at times with the LASD. However, this proposal seems like it should be beneath any rational person. I will not dwell on the discrepancy between the $3M offered for the campus and the $12M the district just paid to renovate it. I will also skip over the fact that a one-time inflow of $3M will hardly fix the District's ongoing financial woes caused by the economic downturn. Focusing on the dollars offered makes this about money, and that's not where this really is troubling.

The BCS argues that they want that campus to provide a neighborhood school for their students. BCS was conceived of in response to the closing of the Bullis Purissima campus, so I get the idea that folks are attached to a neighborhood school. My question, though, is very simple: what happens to the 210 students currently enrolled at Gardner, for whom Gardner is their local school? The message delivered by the BCS proposal is that someone feels the Charter School students are more entitled to a local campus than the students living on Robleda Ave and attending the Gardner Bullis School today. Viewed in this context, one must ask if it makes sense to displace 210 students to appease another group, regardless of the economics.**

The only likely outcome of the BCS offer is that it irritates the LASD Board and Administration. The BCS Board might also be concerned that they have now also irritated all the parents of students attending Gardner Bullis- a group likely to be just as vocal and as just formidable as those who formed BCS. In the process, BCS is making enemies where there were none before. Not a smart move...

** BCS is, by law, permitted to give preference to LAH residents for up to 50% of their spaces. The numbers still don't work. That would imply displacing 210 GB local resident students for fewer than 165 BCS equivalent resident students. (numbers based on GB attendeance of 210 students in 2008-09, and 326 BCS students in the same timeframe. GB attendence projected to increase by at least one class for the 2009-10 School year.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Upcoming restructure meeting

The May 18th school board meeting will showcase some of the changes to our programs that have been designed to deal with our budget shortfall. It would be a good board meeting to attend to learn how your child(ren) may be impacted by the upcoming changes in the district.

I try to attend most every board meeting, but I will be out of town for this one. If you are around, please show your support and try to attend.

Please Vote - and vote YES

The Superintendent's office sent out an update last week talking about the upcoming eelction. I think they've done a good job of telling folks about hte election, yet complying with the state law that prohibits them from taking a postion on the election itself. No such state law constrains me, so I'm going to be more direct.

Please Vote "YES" in the May 19 Election for all measures.

Even better, vote YES and get a few friends to vote YES also.

To be really clear, I'm a fiscal conservative and I don't like seeing taxes raised. However, without these ballot measures, our schools will suffer further revenue cuts, which means we'll lose more teachers. We simply can't afford the cuts.

The upside, if you're conservative like me, is that the ballot measures also create a reserve fund, which will help balance out the swings in state finances such as this one. It's about time we did that.

I normally wouldn't bother to tell folks about an election I'm pretty sure they'd support, but statewide polls show the ballot measures are in trouble. We need to get people out to the polls, and voting yes. Mail-in elections typically favor conservatives, which is putting pressure on the measures. Please, PLEASE find the time to vote in this important election.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Something's Working with Math!

I was at the school board meeting again this week. Among the normal news was a small ceremony to recognize 10 kids from Egan for their participation in a worldwide math competition. This contest has thousands of kids from across the globe competing on a series of 25 difficult math problems. The entire team did exceptionally well, and they are to be congratulated for their work. Of special note- 3 of the kids managed to get 24 of the 25 problems correct- putting them in the top 1% of all 8th graders, worldwide.

Nicely done!!!!