LCSD Liveblog Post, March 2nd, 2009

UPDATE:  Home now.  The only thing on the agenda I see that could be notable is if someone raises a stink over renewing the contracts of the administrative or licensed staff.  I hope that doesn’t happen.  Also, I got a copy of the new LACE-LCSD contract, and with any luck, will scan it in and post it soon (assuming the DO doesn’t beat me to it).

Off to find some tea.  Will someone let me know if something crazy happens?  Thanks.

6:54pm:  Set up.  It seems to be pretty well known that Finch is out and Yates is in.  Most of the usual crowd is here, including Fandino, Brown, Kennedy, Baker, Wood, etc.

7pm:  I can only imagine how happy Sprenger is not to be involved in this anymore.

7:02pm: James Sundell of the NEA is here.

7:03pm.  Wineteer calls meeting to order.  Shimmin does not appear to be here – Wineteer notes she is ill.

First item is an announcement.

Lanning:  I met with a number of personnel, met with Finch and Yates last Friday.  My decision is that I am moving Yates to the LHS Principal’s position effective tomorrow (for all practical purposes).

Interestingly, Lanning asked that Yates be congratulated and he got a really solid round of applause.

Lanning:  Mark [Finch] will work with Zarate and her staff on the 21st century learning grant and I’ve also asked him to develop – there is a lack of good alternatives for some students, that were either not making it academically or behaviorally.  I’ve asked Mark to develop a HS-level alternative ed program this spring for implementation in the following school year.  It may be housed w/in HS, maybe in Boys and Girls Club.  I’ve met with Jason, depending on budget situation.  I’ve asked Mark to look at how we’ll staff that, work with Brian Bray on IT piece, look at instructional materials and software.  There is a whole series of things I’ve asked Mark to do including exploring an alternative middle school program as well, even though I am not as sold on that as I am on the need for one at the HS.  He will come back with a recommendation.

7:06pm: Lanning.  I DO NOT want an alt. school as a dumping ground for students.  Mark will do better than that.

7:07pm.  Lanning:  We anticipate layoffs across all sectors, from administrative, licensed and classified personnel.  From a long-term standpoint, I didn’t feel we could justify continuing with a MS principal, which explains why Yates has been moved… talked with spouses (that’s old school!)…. I went along with Jan and visited Seven Oaks and LHS staff earlier today.  Informed Josh of what I was doing.

Immediate reaction:  This is, in some ways, good for Finch, or at least Lanning is taking his being employed seriously.  Good for Lanning.  However, I can’t help but laugh at a little – Finch is now another administrator at the DO, not a teacher, not in a classroom, and the total number of admins in the district has not decreased.  Chalk this up to the headlong rush on the part of the board, I think; also, the way this was announced, to me, actually lends credence to the theory that Finch was going to be moved or fired.

7:09pm Wineteer:  Next item is celebration of student successes.

(For some reason, Kim Fandino looks mad.  I have no idea why.)

7:11pm:  Becky Pape of Good Sam is providing a video presentation about why they are supporting the Seeds of Change program.  Pape is providing a list of stats about Linn County kids…. and it’s depressing.  She’s also mixing  a lot of PR for Good Sam in there – I don’t think she can help it =)

The program, on the other hand, sounds really smart.  A 6900 sq. ft. garden!  Sweet!

7:15pm Pape:  Most surprising result was sudden spike in test scores – 10% in one term vs. the usual 2% per term gain.  Compare this to cost of failing, being held back, failing to graduate, dropping out, etc; result is incredible, even without remediation.

(This is one hell of a piece of evidence linking real-world learning, fresh food, and academic achievement!)

7:20 Students who have been gardening will soon be learning to cook the food they have been growing.  We are working with OSU Extension Services in various capacities.

(Observation:  Where did this program come from?  And why is no one asking about the staff and faculty relationships that have allowed this program to flourish and how they can be replicated?  C’mon….)

7:23pm Presenter (who name I did not catch):  We can put a garden in every school by the next year.  We have the people, we have the equipment.  What we need is the support of the school board, support of the teachers.  We have small groups coming to us already, they can see how this relates to the kids.  As Becky Pape noted, the kids are changing.  Not only have their scores increased, they are changing – one young man who I did not want back in my classroom, he now has a smile on his face. [She concludes]

7:25pm Joan:  ODE, school garden coordinator.  Has been in the job since July.  Statewide, the Lebanon garden is the one that I tell everyone about.

7:27pm: Beyond LHS.  Zarate:  Lately getting a lot of phone calls about Beyond LHS…. from parents in other school districts, homeschoolers, parents of students who have dropped out.  Would like to explain just what it is Larry Anderson, Kathy Chafin and others are doing to get all these phone calls.

Kathy (from LBCC):  Better to have students themselves about the program.  Before that, the LBCC process.  First, a ‘college readiness’ workshop, because we think they need some kind of instruction before they get to campus.  Example:  Don’t start an email with ‘Hey Dude.’ [Someone should tell the OSU students this, no?].  Other basics, like attendance, homework, proper email address, how to balance work and school.  “Raise consciousness on what it will take to be successful.”

7:31pm Kathy:  Very proud of the diversity of students that are referred to us and their success rate.  Success rate is higher than LBCC average.  Anecdote:  Most important thing is seeing things who didn’t think they would ever go to college turned into college students with the confidence.

Video on Beyond LHS.  Rita Cavin opens.  Interesting.  [The music in the opening bit should have been the Flobots’ “There’s a War Going on for Your Mind”].  First part of video is students talking to the camera, listing the classes they have taken.

7:36pm [It’s early in the agenda, but unlike many meetings, the board itself has basically said nothing so far.  Interesting.]

7:37pm:  One student made some particularly funny faces in explaining why they like LBCC… and the audience laughed.  The catch is that I think it’s a student who was often in Special Education classrooms @ LHS – she has a mild case of a syndrome.  The audience didn’t know, of course, but still:  Not cool.

Oh, and the video is kicking all kinds of ass.  The students are sharp, articulate, and clearly impressed by the opportunity they have been given.  Someone – or several someones – are doing something very, very right.

Kathy Chafin:  Beyond students have about a 3.0 GPA (which is a B average).

Unnamed instructor:  The HS students often seem really grateful.  Not sure if it’s because they get to take classes, or because they are treated like adults [emphasis added].  We don’t know they are HS students until the end of the term, and it’s often surprising.

7:45pm Unnamed instructor:  Way of the future is to have that shaded area, that overlap between HS and community college.  [Yes!  Yes!  Yes!]  We’re also helping them grow up and learn how to be adults in a way that is very efficient, very positive.  Learn how to ask questions, study, take charge for themselves.

Offhand, one thing Beyond LHS can offer is a different structure for students to learn in.  It also gives them more responsibility and control over their own education, and offers a wider variety of classes to take.  The other thing that occurs to me is that while this might serve as a bridge, it’s very resource-intensive, which means given current budget constraints, it can only be spread so far.  But overall, it seems – like so many other new-ish programs – to be geared towards understanding where students are and how they actually learn.  That this is not obvious, or is only now becoming obvious, is either scary or full-circle, or both.

Anderson:  Tim Geoghegan put that together, Ken Long was the camera person.

7:48pm Anderson:  Number of students keeps growing.  Roughly 110 students per term up to 130 per term, cost per term is about $80,000.  That means somewhere in the neighborhood of $650/student.  [That seems incredibly cheap compared to the numbers I’m used to dealing with.]  Demographics include homeschoolers, transfers, returning drop-outs, other non-trad students.

7:50pm Anderson [showing powerpoint slides]:  Non-trad students generate additional state dollars; these dollars pay for the entire program, with well over $240,000 coming in and the cost is only about $240,000. [HOLY CRAP!  That locks it – who would cancel this?]

[GPA distro seems to be pretty divided between 2.0 and 4.0; average for whole of last year was 2.77; fall term was just over 3.0, including nine special ed students]

7:54pm  Audience Comments!  Wineteer:  Please temper comments on personnel issues and be mindful.

First: Michelle Bailey.  Mother, special educator, frustrated step-parent.  Here because I’ve had difficulty obtaining photocopies of son’s emergency card record (?).  Would like some clarification as to board policy on viewing student records.

Wineteer:  I have letter, our attorney is reviewing.  Please speak with Lanning.  Because of nature of concern, please take directly to Lanning – I have a great deal of confidence he and Kelley can help.

Fandino: Following up on a letter provided to the Board regarding returning to the grievance process. [Her voice is controlled.]

Wineteer:  We have not discussed it as a board.  Will be added to the agenda.

Fandino:  Thank you.

Lynn Tucker:  Unhappy with contract negotiation process.  Expected some room for compromise, got nothing.  Put our faith in this district…. if district had not been so unbending…. could have been settled BEFORE Robinson’s buyout.  District’s salary offer NEVER changed during entire year of bargaining.  Lebanon is in bottom 10% of all school districts in the state.  We are grateful to have jobs and we understand fiscal situation – but we need to know you will make up past lost of COLA increases.  Comparison:  avg. admin (that makes $80,000) spends 5.8% of salary on insurance.  Licensed spends 14%.  Classified spends 24% out of pocket on insurance.  In tough times, classified staff gives up insurance first.  We start bargaining again next month for next contract.  As a community, we need to see you to step up and do the right thing.  Not about power and control, but about what is fair, and respect.

8pm Debbie Vandiver (?):  Parent of two.  Want to thank everyone who is committed to transforming district for the better.  Acknowledge lots of great things that are going on.  My senior is in Beyond LHS.  These things have been done in the midst of a tremendous amount of conflict.  Went to meeting on Thursday – saw on bulletin board outside pool – I was concerned.  I want to see us be proactive rather than reactive if possible.  I myself flip-flop sometimes.  I listened to presentation on Thursday about schedule change.  My concern was that what I heard was that a change had to be made in the next week because teacher cuts had to be made in the next week…. [weird budget analogy…. OK, now she’s outing herself as being ignorant of the situation and another parent who talked before thinking]. Problem is lack of discipline, teacher morale and experience, standards of expectation among students.  Personally believe it’s irresponsible to change now without more planning.  My daughters (Ethopian students) has thrived in some ways in the smaller classroom setting…. [goes OFF on ESL program, low standards, how she had to help them herselves, bad treatment of her kids – racial slurs – no one told her, etc.]  I expect students to have basic manners – if you offend someone, apologize.

[This lady needs to CALM THE BLEEP DOWN.]

8:08pm Vandiver: “The last thing I want to say…” [for the third time!]  Brings up streaming or tracking students AS A GOOD THING.  Good lord – this isn’t the freakin’ 1970s.

[I feel REALLY bad for this woman’s daughters right now.  She just made an ass of herself, knew it, and yet continued anyway, saying things that made little sense – and the audience applauded!  What the heck is that about?]

Wineteer:  Any students that would like to come forward? [Jerk – the daughter is clearly mortified.]

Audience comments closed.

8:11pm:  James Sundell leaves.

Lanning:  Pam Lessley, Nutrition Services Director, is awesome.  She won an award that spanned the entire West Coast.  [Audience gives short but vigorous applause.]

[Still feeling like crap, in case you’re wondering.  Thinking about going home….]

8:15pm Lessley:  For two weeks now, we’ve expanded our program to feed the Sand Ridge kids.  Want to thank office staff @ Sand Ridge school.  “A special, special thank you goes to Mary Northern.” [Who is in the audience and gets a round of applause.]

Alexander’s only comment thus far tonight, in response to Lessley asking if anyone has questions:  “Can we get a free sample?”  Genuis.

8:17pm Lanning:  For elections, Zone boundaries have changed.  On the agenda we have first reading and adoption on board

OK, I am going home.  I feel terrible and I don’t think anything else crazy is likely to happen – but make sure and read your local newspapers to be sure =)

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4 Comments on “LCSD Liveblog Post, March 2nd, 2009”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Many of us laughed because we know and love that student who has special needs. We weren’t meaning to laugh at her (although we can see how it looked that way). We were thinking “way to go!” Did you catch the classes she was taking? Was it advanced trig.? Some of us have been around the block a time or two with her.

  2. Dennis Says:

    I did not catch the classes. I think she was only on there talking about how much she liked the experience so far. And it’s good to hear that at least some in audience knew her.

  3. anon Says:

    I hope your arrogance about Debbie Vanover’s comments to the board were driven by feeling ill last night. Debbie is a well-educated and respected member of this community. She is the chaplain at the Lebanon Hospital. She is an Episocopal priest with an MSW. She is a dedicated Mom, which is more than I can say for you. Cut people some slack. This is an emotional situation — the poor education of our children — when you are a caring parent. If she rambled, so be it. She probably wasn’t reading from a script. You do a service by liveblogging, but your snide and judgmental and uninformed comments are just plain mean and hurtful to the community. Could you possibly just stick to the facts when you liveblog?

  4. Dennis Says:

    I think Ms. Vanover did the same thing many others have done before her: See something they don’t like regarding the school district, and rather than either ask at the relevant level – in this case LHS – or even go to the Super or other staff (or even board members) and find out more, they decide to sit in front of the board and an audience and rant. This is not helpful, it’s not productive, and it sure doesn’t actually make anything better.

    Moreover, she put her daughter on the spot in a way that I think was pretty darn disrespectful.

    None of this is to say that anything she said about the LCSD is right or wrong, by the way; rather, it’s to point out that the way she presented herself does not help solve any of the problems. It was complaining, nothing more.

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