At the March regular Board Meeting, the school superintendent was given a $20,000 raise. Why?
Do parents, teachers, and students think that this was a proper use of LCFF funding that will help our students do better? Did this increase the number of elective classes that our students can choose? Did it provide additional teachers for these classes? Did it provide parent centers to assist parents in helping their children? Did it increase the possibility that the superintendent will be more responsive to parents? Or did it happen because the elected Board of Trustees is working for the Superintendent, instead of working for the citizens of this community? Rewarding a man's personal ambition for greater wealth does not help our children!
Public Comment from May 14 Board Meeting
Concerning Hiring Practices
It was requested that the Personnel Action Report be removed from the Consent Calendar, because the Board cannot logically and lawfully approve the employment of individuals in positions that have yet to be legally created with approved job descriptions.
Board Policy #4311 states that recruitment and selection processes shall be fair and transparent to ensure that individuals are not selected based on any bias or personal preference and that job announcements shall be disseminated to ensure a wide range of candidates.
Where were the job announcements for the two district office Director positions published? How widely were they disseminated? For how long? How many candidates applied, in-house and out-of-district? What was the selection process and was a committee of stakeholders used for interviews? Where are the contracts for the positions, which must be made public?
Policy #4311 explicitly states that the district’s selection procedures shall include screening processes and interviews, using a committee as appropriate……to identify the best possible candidate for a position. It would be especially important to include teaching staff on the interview committee for the C&I position, and parents for the director of student services.
However, it appears that persons for these two positions were predetermined in a manner that was indeed partial and biased. Additional evidence of this is provided by the fact that Ms. Cunningham’s retirement as Asst. Supt. was only announced at the April 16 board meeting, yet AES and KC Principal positions openings were advertised on EdJoin beginning April 9th. Since no resignations or terminations for these two principalships were presented for Board approval in April, it is quite clear that the persons currently filling these two positions had already been slated for the proposed new district administrator positions.
The then apparently vacated principal position at AES was quickly filled by moving the current Student Support Coordinator from the middle school to this job, and her current job was posted as available on May 1st, with a very brief two-week application window. How many other persons had applied for the AES principal position? Anyone from outside the district?
It should be evident to anyone looking at this course of events that what is happening is simply a game of administrator musical chairs. As for diligently seeking the best possible candidates, as policy requires, without personal bias and preference? Well, it appears to be a sham. The message is quite clear: No equally or better qualified candidates with fresh ideas and demonstrated success need apply in the Reef-Sunset District! Here, administrative buddies are merely shifted around in order to maintain the leadership cadre or cabal, enable pay raises for one another, and protect the status quo. A FCMAT study of the District’s employment practices is badly needed!
TChanging How Schools Operate
It is difficult for bureaucratic institutions to make changes. This is particularly true for public school systems that have adopted very structured procedures which move slowly and result in day-to-day operations being conducted and overseen by a select few individuals. This leads to "top-down" decision-making, and inhibits shared leadership, inclusive planning, and stakeholder engagement.
However, inclusive participation in decision-making is an absolute requirement of the new Local Control Accountability Plan. So school systems must learn very quickly how to adjust procedures to comply with the new funding laws.
Stakeholders must assert themselves boldly in many cases in order to assure that procedural changes are promptly put into action. LCAP input is not a "once-a-year" thing that districts must do, but rather a whole new on-going way of behaving and operating.
All year long, schools need to be offering parent education, setting up parent centers, involving parents/teachers/students/community members in monitoring progress and gathering data to use in the spring LCAP document update.
This is an accountability plan -- it needs to show the progress we are making as well as specifying what might need to be changed and what new activities and services should be added. It provides evidence that we are holding ourselves accountable for all of the eight State priorities.
The requirement for an LCAP update is not a call for district administrators to go into a huddle, juggle some budget numbers, change a few words, and then present their document to stakeholders for a stamp of approval.
Full participation by the school community leads not only to better schools, but to community improvement in general, resulting in making it a better place to raise our children. Everyone benefits!
BE A PART OF THIS -- COME TO MEETINGS AND SHARE YOUR IDEAS!
Cambiar el modo de Escuelas Operatetle
Es difícil para las instituciones burocráticas para hacer cambios. Esto es particularmente cierto para los sistemas escolares públicos que han adoptado procedimientos muy estructurados que se mueven lentamente y dan lugar a operaciones del día a día ser dirigido y supervisado por un grupo selecto de personas. Esto conduce a la "top-down" la toma de decisiones, e inhibe el liderazgo compartido, la planificación integradora, y el compromiso de las partes interesadas.
Sin embargo, estos cambios de participación son requisitos absolutos del nuevo Plan de Responsabilidad de control local. Así que los sistemas escolares deben aprender muy rápidamente cómo ajustar los procedimientos para cumplir con las nuevas leyes de financiación.
Las partes interesadas deben imponerse con valentía en muchos casos con el fin de asegurar que los cambios de procedimiento se ponen rápidamente en acción. Entrada LCAP no es una cosa "una vez al año" que los distritos deben hacer, sino más bien un conjunto nuevo en curso forma de comportarse y en funcionamiento.
Durante todo el año, las escuelas deben ofrecer educación de los padres, la creación de centros de padres, con la participación de padres / profesores / estudiantes / miembros de la comunidad en los datos de progreso de monitoreo y recolección de utilizar en la actualización del documento LCAP primavera.
Se trata de un plan de responsabilidad - que necesita para mostrar el progreso que estamos haciendo, así como la especificación de lo que podría ser necesario cambiar y qué nuevas actividades y servicios deben ser añadido. Proporciona evidencia de que estamos celebrando hacemos responsables de todas las ocho prioridades del Estado.
La exigencia de una actualización LCAP no es un llamado a los administradores del distrito para ir en un corrillo, malabares algunas cifras del presupuesto, cambian algunas palabras, y luego presentar su documento a los interesados por un sello de aprobación.
La plena participación de la comunidad escolar no sólo conduce a mejores escuelas, sino para mejorar la comunidad en general, dando lugar a lo que es un mejor lugar para criar a nuestros hijos. Todos se benefician!
SER PARTE DE ESTE - VEN A REUNIONES Y COMPARTIR TUS IDEAS!
Who, What, Where?
....to the Facilities Citizen Advisory Committee for your regular faithful visits to our school campuses to make sure they are clean and safe for our children and school staff. Chairing this Committee was longtime teacher, Cheryl Tuttle. She and husband Jim Tuttle have served on the committee since it was started back in 2007. The Committee has included such notables as former school board members Donna Elliott, Joan Johnson, and Bill Hatcher; Mayor Harlin Casida;
newspaper writer/editor Arlene Santino, and others, working with district Maintenance Supervisor Paul Cobine. These citizen "school inspectors" have diligently walked all of our campuses multiple times. Thank you for your countless hours of volunteer service! This committee is no longer functioning and we need parents and students to be a part of regular school campus inspections!
...that there continue to be serious issues with the new block scheduling at the high school, and our students may not be receiving a high level of rigorous instruction every day, due to the frequent use of substitute teachers to "cover" classes when the regular instructor is not present. This may be an ongoing problem each Wednesday when the WHC instructors do not come to Avenal. What is being taught/learned?
......to the excellent young spellers who participated in the series of local Spelling Bees held the last week of January -- your studying paid off! Maybe we'll send someone to the Nationals one day!
Posted February 1, 2015
The theme for 2014-15 is "New Alternatives in Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation" and the 2-day event is being held in Corcoran this year. Avenal High School has a team of "academic athletes" participating. These students have had a lot of extra studying to do in order to perform well in all areas: Science, Literature, Art, Music, Social Studies, Economics, and Math. We are proud of you!
Your Help is Essential !
Do you know the story of the Little Red Hen? In this children's story, when those who should have pitched in to help, refused to do so, the Little Red Hen said, "Then I'll do it myself" and she did. This new website is a Little Red Hen undertaking. When the school system we pay for, the trustees we elect and the adminstrators we hire do not in good faith reach out to parents, students, and staff to involve them meaningfully in education decision-making, then it is time to demand a change! It is time to let your voice be heard! "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" (Burke) When public figures say "I did it because I could" to explain their wrongdoing, they are saying, "I got away with it because you allowed it." Let's not allow our schools to be second-rate just because we ourselves did nothing!
It Takes a Village!
Are We Ready?
The 2014-15 school year is nearly over. What has been done to prepare our school community for a thoughtful review of the LCAP that was put together last spring?
How have parents, teachers, students, and community members -- all stakeholders in public education -- prepared ourselves for a new look at how our schools are doing and what changes we need to make?
The best place to start is with a wonderful website created just for this purpose. It is sponsored by the California PTA and promoted by the CA Department of Education as well as the CA School Boards Association and other groups.
This website actually has an LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan) template that is designed around the State's Eight Priorities of Education. So it is easy to follow along and fill in the boxes, working alone or with a group of people at a planning session.
It also has "lessons" to learn about education and the various sections of the plan, and links you to other resources.
Are we ready? Parents? Students? Teachers? Other staff? Community members?
Have we done our homework using this tool? Are we aware of all of the different things we need to consider and discuss when updating the LCAP?
Bring your notes, suggestions and questions to LCAP meetings. Talk to your children about school in general and about this important Plan. Ask for their ideas and their opinions about their schools and classes.
Invite your friends and neighbors to LCAP meetings! Everyone has a stake in our community's schools -- not just parents.
LETTER TO THE PUBLIC
Avenal citizens have formed a grassroots group called PUMA (Pueblo Unido Mejorando Avenal) to work for a better community. The City Council is starting “Chat” meetings to hear from citizens directly. Our RSUSD public school system needs to take notice and begin genuine conversations with the community.
Fresno and Kings County Grand Juries have been looking into districts like ours where things have gotten out-of-kilter due to lack of community oversight and real stakeholder involvement. See article on Parlier:
Unfortunately, there are too many similarities here in our own district:
a false sense of privilege amongst administrators/directors, a lax and inadequately informed puppet Board, teaching staff reluctant to speak out openly, stakeholders marginalized and out of the loop…..
Having an insider’s view as a long-time local educator and former board member, I am attempting to shine a light on questionable practices, and to genuinely engage parents who have not been accustomed to step forward and demand something better for their children.
The Facebook page and Website (Our Schools for Our Children) serve to notify people of opportunities to get involved, and to share information often fiercely guarded by the bureaucracy. (
New Local Control education funding laws REQUIRE genuine family engagement in decision-making, and shared leadership practices.
Please join with others in our community to retake local community control of our Public Schools and give our children a high quality, well-rounded education!
BIG NEWS! New School Climate money is available from State!
Note: RSMS and AHS staff had a one-day seminar with "TIME TO TEACH" on August 10th.