A disappointing BUSD Board Meeting...

Leading up to tonight’s board meeting, I was led to believe there were many parents and teachers that were upset over the size of opening day class rosters. There are 36-39 five year old children in kindergarten classes throughout the district and even one fifth grade class with 40 students. It was indicated to me there would be numerous parents and teachers addressing their concerns to the board tonight. I even sent out several emails to encourage parents at my school to let the board know how important it was that class sizes be held in check. Only one teacher and one parent, not counting yours truly, got up to address the board. I guess there isn’t the outrage out there that I expected.

When I asked if there was a maximum limit the district was willing to accept in a kindergarten class, I was told their goal was to average 33-1 student to teacher ratio but they did not have a maximum limit. We were told by Dr. Kayrell and his staff they would work on balancing the classes within the first three weeks of the school year,sometime around Labor Day. The board members told us to “have faith” and “remember patience”. One even reminded us that kindergarten is not mandated by law and in the future, if budget cuts required laying off more teachers, they could eliminate it all together . This last comment came from the same trustee that had just said “I don’t have a kindergartner but if I did, I would be concerned”.

I also inquired tonight about when the first Measure Z Oversight committee meeting was scheduled. I heard about a week ago the meeting was scheduled soon, it didn’t appear on the district’s calendar. I was informed the meeting is to be held in two days and public notices would be going out tomorrow. I asked if the meetings were covered under the Brown act which requires 72 hours public notice and I was told that since this was a “special” meeting they were only required to give 24 hours notice. I’m not sure how the initial meeting could be classified as a “special” meeting when the law requires the committee to meet two times a year. But let's assume it is a “special” meeting and only 24 hours notice is required, if committee members were aware of the meeting a week ago, why couldn't the district inform the public sooner? Does the term “minimum legal requirements” sound familiar?

The one bright moment of the night, in my opinion, was followed by one more disappointment. We were shown a preview of the content management system the district is working with to develop new websites and I thought it was very impressive. If deployed correctly, it will be a huge improvement over the current sites. Currently the assistant superintendent of business and the technology director are spending what little time they have available trying to get the district and school sites (about 10 sites total) up and running. They told us they now realize how valuable a competent webmaster is.

The next agenda item was to authorize renewing the $3,000 contract with the current webmaster, something I advised them against two weeks ago. The same assistant superintendent who had expressed the importance of a webmaster informed the board that the webmaster they were about to re-hire would be going back to school soon and wouldn’t even be available through the end of 2009. The board went ahead and approved the contract renewal by a vote of 5-0 without a single question. Huh????

I came home asking myself “what am I doing?” Why am I missing valuable time with my kids to go to these board meetings? I usually read to them every night before they go to bed. I felt like giving up but I know this is too important. My focus is “Our Kids”.