Disappointed But Not Surprised

I just finished listening to the podcast from last night's Beaumont Unified School District board meeting so you don't have to. What I heard, didn't surprise me but it did disappoint me. The board approved another $50,000 in contracts with Action Learning Systems (ALS). 

ALS has been the primary provider of training for the district's teachers and administrators (principals) for at least the last four years. Some teachers have questioned the need for 3rd party leadership and coaching training for some time now. 

In March 2011...

The last contract approval was in March of this year for $133,000. At that time, some teachers asked the district to consider employing Beaumont Teachers On Special Assignment (TOSA) to provide the training instead of ALS. They argued that the years of training provided by ALS has prepared Beaumont teachers to assume the leadership roles. They said it would be more cost effective for the district and it would keep the funds local. Keeping the funds local is something we've heard over the years from BUSD board members as justification for the awards of most of their construction projects to local contractors.

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Dr. Latham, was asked if she felt Beaumont's teacher could provide the training instead of ALS. She said she didn't believe our teachers were ready to abandon 3rd party training yet, "maybe next year." Board President Suzie Lara then solicited comments from principals knowing they would support the ALS contract. After listening to 45 minutes of discussion it became obvious to me the training would be approved. I hadn't heard anyone ask when the next contract would come up for approval. I asked Mrs. Lara if I could ask that question. She reluctantly agreed. Dr. Latham told me there were no plans for future contracts with ALS. The next morning I received an email from Dr. Latham in which she wrote she wanted to "correct and clarify" her answer to me. She told me "There will be other contracts presented to the Board after July 1, 2011 that will be initiated in the 2011-2012 school year." It seems she may not have told the board members, they seemed a little surprised last night.

This Week...

The administration brought forward another ALS contract, this time $50,000. The bulk of the new contract, $40,000, is for Accountability Coaching for "principal, site leadership, and school staff." Mr. Orozco and Mrs. Poulter once again lead the inquiry into the need of the outside training. Mrs. Poulter remarked that she thought the training supported by the principals in the March meeting was for the principals and wondered if this additional training was necessary. Dr. Latham informed her that the training approved in March was for the 2010-2011 school year and didn't include the principals. She added that this latest contract was for the principals. Mrs. Lara completed the discussion by asking the cabinet to prepare a report of all the training that the district has contracted with ALS over the years.

 My Thoughts...

The report should be very revealing and I wonder if it will be made public. I asked for the same accounting in January 2010. A month later I was provided the following information:

The amount spent or encumbered for 2008-2009 and 2009 to-date is as follows:

 Teacher : $792,148

Administrative: $  39,250                                                               

Total: $831,398

I was a little surprised at the time; I had thought it had been considerably more. I will be interested to see if the report provided for the board will match my information. I do know the total contracts awarded to ALS will be in the millions.

What happened to Dr. Latham's assessment that our teachers were ready to replace ALS "maybe next year"? Isn't this next year?

There were only two brief mentions last night of the Brookside street project. Superintendent Dr. Kayrell told the board the city had pulled the issue from their action items tonight. Mr. Orozco remarked that he would like to ses a solution that would make our kids more safe. Not a word from Mrs. De Longchamp, our self appointed advocate for safe streets around our school.

Disappointed but not surprised.