Friday, January 11, 2013

Hercules City Council WCCUSD joint meeting next week

Date: January 15, 2013
Time: 7pm
Where: Hercules City Council chambers

Some suggestions in letter to President and Mayor

Dear President Kronenberg and Mayor Delgado,

Here are some thoughts I have regarding our schools.  Perhaps some of these items can be discussed at the joint meeting next week?  Thank you for taking the time to hold this meeting.

Giorgio Cosentino, Current parent, former WCCUSD teacher

1. Safety:  Can we review the data previously presented at the safety committee which broke down the safety incidents by year and school?  Are there trouble spots at any of our campuses?  Is there a safety assessment report for each school. Can we receive copies of these?  What can Hercules do to make our schools safer?

2. Principal turnover: Here is the job description for school principal.
"Establishes and maintains sensitive and mutually beneficial relationships with the community...The principal is to be a visible and active leader in the school’s community."
Does principal turnover compromise these responsibilities?  What can we do to build strong bridges between our school leaders and our community, bridges that can stand the test of turnover?  What can we do to support new principals?  I applaud the decision of having President Kronenberg as a liaison to Hercules HS for some committee assignments.  

3. Teacher turnover:  The WCCUSD HR Director is reporting a very high teacher turnvoer rate of 47%.  What is the teacher turnover rate at each Hercules school for each year for the past 5 years?  What are the consequences of this turnover?  What can Hercules do to help negate the ill-effects of turnover?  Can we review the last 5 School Accountability Report Cards for each Hercules school for purpose of reviewing average teacher salary?  Hanna Ranch has the highest average teacher salary in the district, so possibly less turnover?  Hanna Ranch is also an award winning school.  I believe the same observation can be made with Madera Elementary School in El Cerrito--highest average salary and highest test scores and possibly an award-winning school?

4. Truancy:  Recently, it was reported in the Contra Costa Times that Hercules Middle High School has a policy that requires a 3 day suspension for any student who skips one class.  As a former teacher in the district, this policy makes no sense to me.  In fact, such a policy could be detrimental as this student could become alienated from the education process.  Can I please get clarification as to the reasoning behind this policy.  What is the truancy rate at each Hercules school for the past 5 years?  Is Hercules PD enforcing truancy laws?  Neighboring Pinole has a high truancy problem, and gangs.  Due to geographic proximity, I must ask does Hercules share these problems to any degree?

5. School rankings and test scores:  Excluding Hanna Ranch, the recent state ranking and test scores for Hercules schools were low.  Can we get clarification on this, including a 5 year history of scores for each Hercules school.  How much of the cause for these scores is the responsibility of the school district and teachers?  If the parent and child does their part, can they excel in our schools?  Part of the problem we have been told is that there are limited AP classes.  If there are limited AP classes, then how can the WCCUSD spend money on Adult School when we cannot afford to offer AP classes to our k-12 children? I support the Adult School program, but not at the cost of our children.  How about a volunteer taught Adult School?  Provide the buildings and the volunteers will come?  I will volunteer to teach science at night at this volunteer school.  You have it in writing.  For formal classes, these adults can enroll in at Contra Costa JC.

6. Intern teachers:  Can we see a break down of how many intern teachers have been employed by each Hercules school in the last 5 years. Are we able to view the test scores of the students who were taught by these intern teachers?  What can Hercules do to support intern teachers?  Can we purchase a copier for them or help them post documents on the school website?  Other?

7. Unsatisfactory teachers: In 2010-11, according to the HR Director, 19 teachers in the district were deemed unsatisfactory and not invited back to teach.  What were the effects of having these unsatisfactory teachers in the classroom?  Was there an intervention on the part of department heads?  What can Hercules parents do to ensure that the education of their child is not compromised by unsatisfactory teachers?

8. Transfer students:  There is a perception that some transfer students bring problems to schools in Hercules.  If not true, what can we do to dispel this myth?  If this is true, what can we do to provide the necessary support for transfer students.  Sometimes, students are transferred because they are having difficulties.  This means they require additional assistance.  Does Hercules Middle-High School offer peer counseling?  I am a strong proponent of this as I participated in it myself as a child.   

9. Teach For America:  Do we have data to show how effective these teachers have been in our district.  If they are effective, can we rely on them more?  Are they more cost-efficient?  In the past 5 years, how many TFA teachers were employed at Hercules schools and how did they perform?

10. A teacher at a Hercules school who received positive feedback from parents was bumped to another district school by a senior teacher.  I am a public employee.  I do not have such bumping rights except when it comes to layoffs.  Where I work, no one transfers unless it benefits the program as a whole.   I would like to see a contract that gives principals more latitude.  

Having said that, once a teacher formally demonstrates competency, they should be given the latitude to teach as they see fit.  Some WCCUSD teachers are reporting that they are not being given this latitude by their respective principals.  If competent teachers are not being given this latitude, then perhaps we will lose them, thus adding to the turnover.  Are there items in the teachers union contract that perhaps should be modified to give more control to the site principal with respect to assignments?   Have I missed the "sun shining" of the next UTR contract?  As I understand it, this is my opportunity to provide my input on any proposed contract. 

11.  Can the school board share examples of how other communities in the district have supported and helped their schools?  Portola had the Math Initiative.  Can Hercules have such an initiative?  

12. City Councils and school district relationships:  It appears some city councils play a more active role with respect to their schools.  Can our city council do more?  The Richmond City Council appears to be very active.  Recently, Councilman Romero requested safety resources from the WCCUSD for our schools.  Is there more that our City Council can do to build bridges with the WCCUSD (and John Swett Unified SD)?  Supporting our schools is good for the city as a whole, so it seems that our city council should be actively involved with decisions regarding our schools.   

13. The need for a new school in Hercules?

14. The selection of our next representative for the CBOC?

15. Formal recognition by City Council of outstanding Hercules teachers?

16. Hercules Education Commission:  Proposed by Councilman Romero.  Update?

1 comment:

  1. Posted agenda:

    A.1 Pledge of Allegiance
    A.2 Welcome and Meeting Procedures
    A.3 Roll Call
    A.3 Public Communications


    Ohlone Elementary School Construction Update Safety Update on Hercules Schools
    Hercules Middle-High School Update
    Joint Facility Use Agreement
    Discussion of Need For and Site for New School in Hercules
    Capital Project Plans for Hercules
    WCCUSD Debt Limit Waiver for Measure E 2012