Monday, July 24, 2017

School board agenda for July 25

Some of the items on this week’s school board agenda:

We’ll discuss and possibly approve the district’s legislative priorities for the next legislative session. Proposal here.

We’ll hear a report about the district’s efforts to teach students about safe and responsible use of social media. Information here.

We’ll hear a report about reading assessment results. The district has been implementing a weighted resource allocation model to shift resources (including classroom teachers) toward schools with larger numbers of students from low-income households, students receiving special education services, and students who are English-language learners. This report will focus in particular on reading assessment results at those schools. Information here.

We’ll hear a report about school climate disparities when it comes to student gender identity and sexual orientation. Information here.

We’ll hear a transportation update, including an update on activities buses at the secondary level and a comparison of busing costs in the 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 school years. Information here.

We’ll hear an update on the progress at Hoover East and on its use by Longfellow students this coming year (while Longfellow is being renovated). Information here.

All that and more! The full agenda is here. Feel free to chime in with a comment about anything that catches your attention.


amy said...

On gender/sexual-orientation issues:

Teaching staff need significant training in this, and if the same sex-ed materials that were in use a few years ago are still there, they need to be replaced. "Gay" goes unaddressed entirely except to warn kids not to use it because it's a bad thing to call someone; that's the full extent of the exploration away from Jimmy and Susie at the dance, iirc. Nothing in there to do with partner abuse and what constitutes a healthy relationship, either, as I recall, even though there are some excellent programs out there that do take into account the fact that not every kid is straight. And zero contraception talk in 6th grade, either.

We still have teachers referring to any orientation that's not cishet as a "lifestyle", and at least one who refused to allow a student to do a social-studies project on global women's rights, maintaining that it wasn't an important issue.

I'd think it'd be a picking-across-a-minefield experience for any non-cishet kid, going to school in ICCSD. Which, frankly, seems to be the case in an awful lot of issues in which a kid is not white, middle-class, native-English-speaking, fully ablebodied, and never been considered for an IEP. We have many teachers who really get it, want to learn when they hear about issues new to them, and are terrific. The ones who don't, won't, and aren't are allowed to go on disrespecting kids, though I expect they'd insist -- even in the face of the kids' disagreement -- that they treat the kids just fine.

We also have teachers who are wonderful and really mean to do right by the kids but just do and say some jawdropping things out of ignorance sometimes, which is why ongoing training in these issues is important. Sometimes it takes a while for communities to find language for and articulate problems.

I've brought up such problems before with admin, but the reality is that short of effective leadership from Steve on these issues nothing's going to change. We get, now and then, the appearance of intention to change, particularly if it involves orders from some agency or other. But I don't honestly think he cares or intends to do much of anything about these issues. And I don't think it's just a matter of not caring much; I don't think he'd know where to start.

Stella said...

Please DO NOT accept the limited increase in proficiency at some of the schools as proof positive that the WRAM is working. Until our black and brown kids are reading at same proficiency rates just like our white kids, a few percentage points is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!! There are a zillion ways to lie with statistics and don't trust this hasn't happened. Our kids deserve better.

Stu said...

A healthy climate is important for the safety and learning of all students. This climate survey, along with one in January of some SPED teachers (brace enough to speak), along with the State Department of Education's June 2016 Accredidation Report say WE DO NOT HAVE A HEALTHY CLIMATE FOR ANYONE. The ICCSD got millions of dollars in a Healthy/Safe Student's grant from the federal government and spent that money over 5 years to fully implement PBIS and a Bullying Prevention Program in all schools. These are programs empirically chosen to improve climate if implemented with fidelity (I know Chris didn't like the method of implementation in some schools and I agree there were better ways to be positive than give a crappy ticket) Has anyone asked to read those annual evaluation reports we sent into the Feds each year? Bet ya a dollar we fully implemented the programs.... yet we never really did...over $5 million and what do we have to show but a climate hostile to everyone except a few at the top. Some administrators need to take responsibility for failing to fully implement PBIS and the Bullying Prevention Program we paid for. Who holds the admin accountable?

Anonymous said...

The FAST test is not a proficiency test.

Anonymous said...

Is there another document available from which the WRAM information provided in the board docs is generated from? The way it is presented is difficult to follow and I would prefer to see the raw numbers and more information broken out. How do they decide which schools fit into each WRAM group? What about FRL black and hispanic students in WRAM group 3 schools - how is this fair to those students having larger class sizes? The data on the asian student population is very interesting. Is the data from previous years available for comparison somewhere? I think it is difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions from data after one year.

arial said...

I am not sure the activity bus outreach document could be more disappointing. First of all, I have heard Liberty isn't going to have a marching band the first year (unless something has changed since early July), but apparently whoever prepared the document doesn't even have that information? There are lots of extra curricular activities that aren't marching band or athletics that it would be helpful for Kirkwood and Alexander area students to have transportation for. ELL teachers and student family advocates should be used to help reach out to families with language barriers.

arial said...

I finally figured out what I found so totally disheartening about the activity bus outreach document. It is that it looks like they don't already have a list of the Kirkwood and Alexander area high school students. The list should have been made in the spring. Every employee that might need it should have access to it. If only 82 kids are being bused to Liberty, shouldn't every teacher and administrator at the school know who those kids are? How can transportation barriers be overcome if nobody knows who has the barriers?

Mary said...

Chris, I saw this on an agenda attachment and have a couple of questions/comments.
"● Users have no right or expectation of privacy with respect to their use of school technology.
School administration and IT personnel retain the right to access and monitor the activities and files of all users, at anytime for any reason on school owned devices.

1. Will the webcams on student devices be activated/monitored while the students have their devices outside of school (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robbins_v._Lower_Merion_School_District)?
2. What student data will ICCSD vendors have access to? Does ICCSD have any written plans in place to protect student data?
3. Will ICCSD allow the use of "free" aps where student data may be available to vendors?
3. I have seen no ICCSD privacy policy or practices with respect to student data (e.g. sharing student data with vendors, etc.). This topic should be addressed.

amy said...

Given the district's success (/s) in blocking in-school use of sites like Snapchat, I'm wondering how fast this'll teach kids to use encryption protocols, particularly if they're required to use the Chromebooks.

Anonymous said...

Chris - do you know what is going on with the Penn elementary expansion and capacity issues? I see a lot of comments on the North Corridor Parents and it doesn't sound good. How did the administration overlook this - were they trying to add classroom space without anyone noticing or something? Just another example of their incompetence.

Chris said...

The administration came to us at last night’s meeting asking that more rooms be created out of common space at Penn to make up for the loss of temporaries (which were relocated elsewhere). We were told that this change would permanently raise the capacity rating of the building to 683. This was the only option we were presented. It represented a change the Facilities Master Plan that would have a lasting effect on how many students the district will expect that building to hold, and it came to us in the form of a consent calendar item just four weeks before the project's completion date.

Earlier this year, the administration had already revised the Penn building capacity up from 587 to 633, based not an any additional space but just on a reassessment of the building. But the building is still using the same cafeteria it was using when the building capacity was 387. Eight classrooms (200 seats) have been added since, and this proposal would have added 50 more. I don’t have confidence that that building can comfortably hold 683 students, even with more classrooms added. Moreover, I don’t believe the board should approve a permanent change to a building’s capacity under the Facilities Master Plan without receiving any input from the families at the affected school. This proposal at the very least should have been brought to the board much sooner, so the affected families could have a chance to comment on it.

The North Corridor does need more elementary capacity, but that shouldn’t be achieved simply by carving more classrooms out of a building that is already too large for its common spaces. I saw the proposal as creating a long-term problem to address a short-term problem, so I voted against it. The proposal failed by a vote of 3-3. I expect the administration to go back to the drawing board to address the needs of Penn in this coming year; I don’t know what they will propose, but the option we were presented with last night was just too problematic in the long term.

Anonymous said...

How many of the total students at Penn are preschoolers? Where did it's temporaries go? What is the average number of students in an elementary grade at Penn? Is there a report showing how many physical classrooms each building has now? Capacity seems like it keeps changing. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Where is the money for West High's millions increase in budget now really coming from? Original West High phase 1 was supposed to be paid for by SAVE. Phase 2 by the GO bond. I thought the district spent the last of SAVE $ on Chromebooks?

Is there still money to acquire land for Mann and Lincoln?

Anonymous said...

I like how Brian Kirschling is basically throwing certain board members under the bus for the Penn capacity issues. I am so angry about this. Why did the district remove the temporaries in the first place if they were needed and where were they moved to? It is no secret that the North Liberty student population is growing rapidly - these student capacity requirements should be no surprise. There will be hundreds more kids coming with all of the new developments around Liberty high. North Liberty kids have been crammed into overcrowded schools and in temporaries for years. Soon the new high school will be over capacity. But if the bond doesn't pass that won't be administrations fault, it will be our fault. I like how administration and board majority likes to blame everyone but themselves for these issues. But we have plenty of space on the East side and can even afford to tear down a perfectly functional school while still building new schools nearby. This administration fails to plan and is keeps showing incompetence. We need to be building two new elementary schools in North Liberty NOW. Another reason to vote NO for the bond. I have no problem with the size of the bond, our district needs this money. The money is not allocated in the right places to meet our current needs and our leadership is severely lacking and is simply not good at their jobs.

Brian Kirschling: No one is "altering the FMP". There is an immediate need for additional classroom space at Penn. This is the District trying to provide appropriate space for those students quickly before school starts and there is no time to spare. Kristy needs classrooms in a hurry because the enrollment jump is so large. The work would have been done by the start of school, but now it won't be. The Penn community has tonight's vote to thank for that.

Anonymous said...

And to the comment above about acquiring land for Lincoln - that is not going to happen. The current expansion to Lincoln plan is all on their current blacktop play space and land acquisition is not part of it. They are on a tiny plot of land and a good portion of it is unusable elevation and ravine. I don't know about the Mann renovations, but I have a feeling all of their plans were just to get everyone excited to gain support for the bond. Remember, they don't have to do these projects if the bond passes, or they can scale back however they choose. We won't have enough seats for kids up in North Liberty, but at least we will have millions worth of Chromebooks for everyone and state of the art tennis courts at West. Bravo Murley, job well done.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:10, you hit the nail on the head. A lot of the items on the plan are just to entice people to vote yes and the board will drop them if the bond passes. They are not obligated to do any project on the list and can drop/change at will. So yes, it is a blank check. Given the past behavior of this board, I don't see a single reason any sane person would want to vote yes to this bond issue.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the superintendent and three of the board members tried to change the facilities master plan using the consent agenda. That is not right so thank you.

Can anyone comment about what exactly caused the West High Phase 1 Budget to increase by millions?

Anonymous said...

Penn parents seem to not want additional permanent classroom space for a multitude of reasons. I believe they are right.

Who moves trailers that are needed before getting board approval to change a needed gym into two classrooms and two resource rooms? Who starts work on a project that adds capacity to a school before getting board approval? Who thinks the FMP should be changed through a consent agenda item? Who thinks they can turn a 387 seat school into a nearly 700 seat school without increasing all common spaces and adding twice as much parking as before? Who thinks any elementary school should have 700 seats? Especially when the drop-off and pick-up lanes were designed for 387 kids and are just off a busy street? Who thinks only parts of the district should have 32-34 kids in a classroom as a matter of routine should this trend be allowed to continue from what I've read elsewhere?

This is just plain maddening! This is a glimpse into the future for Van Allen, Garner, the new North Liberty elementary when built, and Wickham. Possibly Weber too! Because with only one elementary on the bond, the only thing they can do is add onto existing schools until some other money is secured which doesn't seem likely.

Vote NO. Force them to build a better bond that actually meets ALL needs in the district for a while at least.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:19: "Who starts work on a project that adds capacity to a school before getting board approval?"

Steve Murley, that's who. He wasn't counting on one of his board majority stepping down. He was counting on another rubber stamp 4-3 vote, where the majority blindly follows his questionable management decisions without question. This situation MUST change. The board is forcing the community to pay a huge price by keeping Murley around, because of the lack of trust in his management and absence of accountability. Even the reliable supporters of prior school bonds are voting NO this time.