Monday, November 16, 2009

Community meeting w/ District 2 Director

On the November "Start a New Post," Kathy Fine wrote:

"I attended a community meeting at Dilworth School hosted by Dara Ware Allen, new school board director from District 2. There were four parents there as well as Ms. Ware Allen's family and School Board Director Bill Isler.

After a brief introduction of her background, Ms. Ware Allen asked for concerns/questions.

One parent said that she was impressed with the district's communication regarding the new magnet process, but expressed concern that if a student is applying to CAPA as their first choice and another magnet as their second, if they do not get into CAPA, they are not entered into the lottery for another magnet (I think because the admission processes are different for CAPA than the other magnets, students in the past would apply to CAPA and get in while taking a slot at one of the other magnets from someone else).

Two parents expressed concerns over the facilities study's recommendation to close Fulton, citing increasing enrollment and test scores.

I asked three questions/concerns:

Will she advocate for the reconstitution of the Peabody and IB site selection committees in light of the recommendations of the facilities report? Will she advocate for the formation of the Schenley committee and ensure that the membership is open to stakeholder's with diverse viewpoints?

The facilities reports was somewhat misleading by putting renovation costs in "like new" dollars. Estimating costs to make a building usable for 30 or so years would have been more relevant.

Will she advocate for more transparency/openness from the administration? I related how the district deflected my request for information regarding Excellence for All goals to the districts lawyers. Bill Isler stated that the information that I was requesting was in the A+ report, however review of that document revealed that some of the information was in the report, but most was not.

Ms. Ware Allen Wrote everything down on a large pad without comment except to clarify what the parents were asking."


Questioner said...

The reason for the low turnout seems to be more that people didn't know about the meeting than lack of interest. Others from Highland Park have said they knew nothing about it and that it was not on the HP listserve. It may have been announced at some schools but without much lead time.

Anonymous said...

Agree -- I know that this was one of three meetings within just over a week at Dilworth for parents about various issues and also the school was part of a fundraising concert this weekend. Short notice and lots of other commitments probably made it hard for many to attend.

Annette Werner said...

Obtaining information is difficult. Yesterday I asked the hotline for a figure on the percentage of students receiving a free or reduced lunch from 2000 to the present. This is a basic piece of information that should be readily available, but the request was referred to the district's lawyers as a Right to Know request. When I noted that the lawyers take more than a month to provide information the hotline responded that this time was needed to research my question.

It is incredible that this "data-driven administration" would need a month to find information on the percentage of students receiving free/reduced lunch.

kanonymous said...

The district uses the ALERT NOW system to promote many things. Some schools make good use of the system, too. It is very likely that attendance might have been better had ALERT NOW been used here. I have noticed that the system is used more often at the beginning of the school year. This allows staff to say they use it and parents still don't show up. Consistency is the key to its effectiveness. The on-line calendars could be more effective too if they were more timely.

That the newest Director held this meeting at this time is astounding and commendable.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with kanonymous that holding this meeting was astounding and commendable. I find it to be neither. All that Dara Wara Allen had to do was post a notice on the Highland Park list-serve, use one of the many available email lists that would contact many constituents, or contact key neighborhood leaders. This ineffective attempt to have a "community" meeting strikes me as one that adds up to- "I had a meeting and no one came." For someone who is supposed to be in touch with the public and student issues, I give the new director a failing grade. Once again, the constituents of our district did not have the opportunity to be heard.

kanonymous said...

Anonymous, more than anything I meant that there are several directors who never have any meetings specifically for discussing school business. She is new and not having kids in the district yet may not even be aware what options are available to promote attendance. I do agree that far too many meetings are held just to say there was a meeting.

Anonymous said...

Did Mr. Isler offer any answers?

Anonymous said...

Kanonymous, I thought that she was appointed because she is an effective leader. Some of the characteristics of a leader are how to convene a meeting and how to reach out to your constituents. These skills are not reserved to school directors. She is a professional, the director of an organization,not just a prospective parent.

Anonymous said...

Annette, take solace in the fact that you are not alone in facing the shell game with regards to requests for information. As a teacher, asking the PFT for any number of items must bring great laughter behind the scenes. What a stranglehold these people have. If you want to have rank and file become aware of issues, you can not have a mailing list. If you want to run for an office and make your voice heard, you cannot have a mailing list. If you want a seniority list, I hope you are patient. If you want accountability in elections and votes, you are looked down upon.
What a game these people have going.

Anonymous said...

Could you zz-allschools or zz-name of a school to reach everyone by email?