Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WCCUSD thumbs its nose at the CBOC

Last weeks Citizens Bond Oversight Committee meeting was combined with the board meeting. The KEY agenda item was the response to the Grand Jury report regarding bond oversight. Here's the report.
So, this is a big deal. Drafting a required response to a Grand Jury report is a civic duty that we should welcome with honor.  Or at least I would.  So get this.  The governing school board had 90 days to draft a response. So, one week before the deadline, a joint meeting with the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee is held, and guess what?
These suits (they were wearing suits) from the district show up at the meeting...with nothing in hand. No draft copy although they say they had a draft. They said "We are going to submit our response, but we thought we'd get your (obligatory?) feedback first."
I blew a gasket. These suits showed up to the citizens committee ill-prepared. They should have sent out a draft when the agenda was set so the committee could have time to review the responses.  This would have been efficient, productive, and respectful of the committee. 
How do we know they weren't going to submit another incomplete response like they did for the Grand Jury report on Truancy. 
A total lack of respect for the oversight committee. And King Ramsey says the oversight is fine as is. Seriously?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Hercules Citizens Education Committee?

In my opinion, we do need to pass the parcel tax in November. Although many citizens supported this parcel tax on the last ballot, many did not. The citizens of Hercules need to understand that their property values also depend on the quality of our schools, that the city projects and vision mean little if homebuyers go elsewhere if our schools do not meet their approval. We are making progress as evidenced by the new Ohlone school facility. Let's keep moving forward.
Perhaps Hercules should establish a Citizens Education Committee. Currently, the PTAs exist to help with fundraising, as does the Hercules Education Foundation. Unlike the PTA and Foundation, the Committee could provide an oversight role for addressing any concerns that parents may have about their school or the district. The committee could help establish tutoring networks or volunteer math, science and music programs or even a charter school. The committee could also lobby for our school teachers and principals who in my opinion, are not always supported by the district.
If the citizens of Hercules had a greater voice in their education needs, would they be more willing to support our schools? If so, then let's create a vehicle for that voice asap.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Forty four WCCUSD schools in violation of Ed Code

Forty four WCCUSD schools are in violation of Ed Code for failing to provide the number of credentialed teachers employed at their respective sites in the 2010-2011 school year.
The 7 Principals who complied are:
Coronado: 19 credentialed teachers, 1 non-credentialed teacher.
Hannah Ranch: 21 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers.
Madera: 21 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers
Mira Vista: 21 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers
Tara Hills: 28 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers
Middle College High: 11 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers
Richmond High: 75 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers.
Portola: Reported 20 credentialed teachers, but chose to not report the number of non-credentialed teachers. This is the only school that provided 1/2 of the information.  Note to the Portola Principal: to obtain the number of non-credentialed teachers, subtract the number of credentialed teachers from the total number of teachers.
Where were the 100 plus non-credentialed teachers employed? We have 1 accounted for. If I am paying for their salaries via a Parcel Tax, don't I have a right to know what I am getting for my money? According to the Ed Code, I do.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

President Ramsey bites meeting attendee

At last night's board meeting, a member of the audience had the audacity to ask a speaker to stand closer to the microphone because her voice was hardly audible.  An enraged President Ramsey quickly tore into the audience member, shouting "I'm running the meeting here!"  The lesson being that a member of the audience should adhere to the chain-of-command by addressing President Ramsey instead of the speaker.  "President Ramsey, can you please ask the speaker to stand closer to the microphone?"  Seriously?  This man scares me.  Too much caffeine?

I then watched in horror as the board recognized the construction management company, Seville Group:

Verbiage from agenda
"D.1 Recognition of Seville Group for 10 Years of Service
Over the last ten years, the Seville Group (SGI) has provided service to the District as Program Manager for the bond program. The District deeply appreciates the expertise and commitment that SGI has brought to the effort."
Now view this document about one citizen's plea for campaign contribution limits
The Seville Group donated $330,000.00 to the campaigns of board members. The Seville Group landed $46 million in contracts. And we are thanking them?
Now read the following statement from a district Financial audit found here
"The District also places an over-reliance on construction management firms to perform the budgeting and cash flow functions of the projects."
The WCCUSD has two weeks remaining (out of 90 days) to submit a response to the Grand Jury on their report on school construction bond oversight. Here is the report.
Was it too much to ask for our board members to respond to this report BEFORE voting on a bond measure?
Candidate Studdiford is on the CBOC. Why didn't he ask for an update on this response last night?   And then there was board member Elaine Merriweather's comment, "I don't really know the Seville Group, but I hear nice things about them from the other board members."  She certainly was not one of the recipients of large cash contributions from this private business.