Monday, January 17, 2022

"We pauperize education": a letter to my delegation


“The richest nation on Earth has never allocated enough resources to build sufficient schools, to compensate adequately its teachers, and to surround them with the prestige our work justifies. We squander funds on highways, on the frenetic pursuit of recreation, on the overabundance of overkill armament, but we pauperize education." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech to the United Federation of Teachers on receiving the John Dewey Award, March 1964

 To the members of the Worcester and Massachusetts delegations,

In the past week, thousands of students across the country, largely in urban districts including here in Worcester, walked out of their schools in protest of unsafe learning conditions. 
And those, of course, are just those who walked out, not all of those who feel this way. 

We have heard, over and over during this pandemic, that schools should be "the last things to close." That statement, however, continues to live in isolation, as there has not been a real policy in the United States or in Massachusetts that made other things the first to close. Thus schools have simply been ordered--and it is ordered, at this point--to open, without regard to what has been noted throughout the pandemic of the close tie with community spread and the intimate relationship schools have with all aspects of their community. There has been no community effort, let alone a state or national effort, to create the conditions and provide the resources in which schools can safety function in buildings during a pandemic. 

Likewise throughout the pandemic, there has been a significant lack of effort to close the gaping wound of racial health inequities which have continued through this time. Instead, the argument has been that children of color and in poverty most needed to be back in school buildings. This was well addressed this past week by Dr. Michelle Holmes, who in The Prospect wrote

It is curious to me that Leonhardt, Strain, Oster, and Bloomberg, none of whom are known as racial justice leaders, all now cite the disproportionate academic and social suffering of Black and Latino or low-income children as top reasons for in-person schooling, despite such disparities having been present historically. Nowhere in their arguments do they cite voices of color sharing their viewpoint. Also not evident are the voices of older people and those at high risk of exposure in their jobs.

As Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom noted in her New York Times column this week

How we got here is a story about parents engaging with schools as consumers who want to extract the most school resources for their children. Mothers are the ones societally tasked with doing that extraction. A good mom gets the best learning plan, best teacher, best school, best activities and all-around “best” school experience for her kid. And a mom with the privilege of race and class gets to define the terms of what counts as best. 

This week alone, I heard firsthand of: 

  • a promising young elementary teacher who had to quit her job, as her young children kept having their childcare close due to COVID infections;
  • a number of combined elementary school classrooms, due to teachers and students being out due either to illness or to quarantine; 
  • students coming to school with known symptoms in order to be tested, as their families have no access to testing; 
  • students who didn't have a first or second shot because parents have not had the opportunity to get their children to a site, due to work obligations;
  • staff who are still deceived as to the nature of the vaccine; 
Students continue to be concerned that they will miss work if they miss school. Teachers are torn between attempting to continue to cover skills and material and leaving myriad children who are absent well behind. Administrators open every day scrambling to ensure that students are at least supervised during the course of their day. Parents are continuing to send students to school because the national message has been that the 'pandemic is over,' and thus there is no provision for them to stay home with sick or isolating or quarantining children. Everyone in district leadership knows we don't have enough bus drivers, or school nutrition staff, or nurses, on an average day, and that we are dangerously burning out those we have. 

I know of no one in my city, state, or country who has the sort of easy access to testing that guidance assumes: at home tests are hard to find and not cheap; PCR tests require taking time during the workday to stand in line. Neither of these is achievable for many. 
I know of far too many people who are not vaccinated, some of whom are are staff, many of whom are our students. I am exhausted by those who have cars and flexible time and access to health care and speak English as their first language who say that there is no excuse. When you are juggling three jobs in a country that pays little mind to your language or your health, when you don't have a car and have unstable housing and access to food, then perhaps we can discuss who has 'an excuse' at this time. 
Omicron has made it necessary to upgrade masks for those in spaces with limited circulation and other people (that would be schools), which has set off a mad scramble for parents who can afford to upgrading masks for kids, a handful of districts making their own arrangements, and yet another illustration of health and safety coming back to resources. 
And we simply cannot run schools without people. 

It is the responsibility of both the state and the federal government to provide for the health of its inhabitants. This is absolutely part of promoting the general welfare, as the U.S. Constitution provides, and the Massachusetts Constitution is even more explicit in the commitment: government is: 
to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights, and the blessings of life:

When we are continuing to so poorly fighting a pandemic that has taken the lives of 850,000 Americans, nearly 21,000 of them in Massachusetts, I would assert that we who take an oath to uphold and defend these documents are not doing our jobs.  

While I have perhaps grown accustomed to the lack of care for such issues by the state's executive branch, I confess that I have been puzzled to see what seems a similar attitude by the year-old federal administration. Justin Feldman's analysis of the Biden administration's response to the pandemic, posted last week, gave some much needed perspective. This, together with Daniel Boguslaw's piece in The Prospect looking at the leadership appointed at the federal level, well frames the lacks we have faced as a country. 

The argument has been "districts have plenty of money" due to the three rounds of ESSER funding. I would never wish to be seen as ungrateful, but it is the case that the rounds of federal funding don't provide anything close to the needs. As Jess Gartner of Allovue, among others, has been at pains to note, the total of ESSER funding represents about a 6% supplement to all K-12 spending over the life of the grants:

And even with money, there are things that the over three hundred districts of Massachusetts should not be having to sort out individually.

  • Everyone needs tests, and not just four from the federal government or two for teachers coming back from the state. If we are to base our actions on real knowledge, then anyone needs to be able to test as needed. We know this can be done, as its being done in other countries. The kinds of testing that require staffing--whether that's the public PCR testing or the schools pool testing--cannot be left to current staffing level. More support and access is badly needed.
  • Everyone in buildings needs masks, and they need good masks to protect against omicron. We cannot simply push this cost off to families of staff and students as well. There is no excuse for the back and forth about testing of masks given teachers, and we apparently could have been making them locally, to boot.  
  • The discussion around ventilation has demonstrated an enormous amount of ignorance of school buildings from those who should know better. I would suggest, however, that the state and federal government's substantial buying power could appropriately be applied to portable air filters for any school that doesn't have a system that runs MERV 13 filters already (which I am guessing, given what I know of local buildings, would be nearly anything not built or renovated in the past five years or so). Among other things, that would keep staff and students warmer in a Massachusetts January.
  • The inflexibility around local conditions that leaves superintendents negotiating safety measures with the Commissioner is a massive state overreach, as I have noted in the past, and it should be called out as such. It is simply not safe to have a single arbiter of school safety who has incredibly limited district level experience making the call for every district in the state. 
  • We cannot run schools without staff. We cannot run schools with sick staff. If the federal and state government mean to keep kids in school buildings, then they must live out what we have known from the early days of the pandemic and CLOSE THINGS THAT ARE NOT SCHOOLS. That means, please note, supporting those people who are impacted by closing other things. There is no reason and no virtue in pursuing a 'normalcy' that continues to kill people, do lasting harm to student health, and does not, in the end, actually keep schools open. 
As I said about this pandemic early on, if you had asked me to guess how Massachusetts would do at responding to a pandemic, I would not have dreamed that it would look like this. As a lifelong resident, as a parent, as an elected official, I believe it when I say that we are "a Commonwealth." We are not, now, acting like one. 
Both Massachusetts and the United States can and must be better than this.
Thank you, as always for your attention to this matter.
Tracy O'Connell Novick
Worcester School Committee

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Worcester School Committee standing committees for the 2022-23 term

 Released this afternoon: 


The very first meeting I ever went to for the Worcester Public Schools was what was then called a Business standing committee, chaired by Jack Foley. This has always been Jack's committee, so that's a lot to live up to.
I am beyond thrilled. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Most read of 2021


And sometimes the blogging happens at 4:30 am...

I don't spend a lot of time on my analytics on here, but once a year, I pulled them up to see what folks have been reading. Here's the top ten list for 2021:

As per usual, the blog itself is, far and away, the most often landed on, meaning that plenty of you stop by here to see what is new. Overall, this year was by far my smallest number of posts ever, which I will endeavor to do better on for the coming year. 

10. Letters to the Board of Ed ahead of yesterday's meeting, from March: These are the letters I wrote to individual members of the Board of Ed back in March when they were considering the guidance for this past fall's return to school.

9. A real "great divide" from October on the Globe continuing to ignore the elephant in the room around which parents have been behind the push to get kids back in buildings, "as normal" without masks and so forth. For the Globe, which terms its education "The Great Divide" to continue to ignore the role of race in this and other issues misses a major issue in Massachusetts education.

8. Switching to a non-pandemic local one, my comments on Worcester's sex ed vote from May is next. I rarely write out what I am going to say in a School Committee meeting, but for this vote, I did. Certainly among the most important votes that we took this term.

7. Every so often, people come across one of my older posts that has photos from a school and clearly start passing it around, and so it was with my 2015 post on Vernon Hill School. Note the WPA-era murals of Native Americans from the lobby. 

6. I spent a long time putting together a response to a student email I received last January on in-school transmission, so I decided to post it for those who might find it useful. Clearly many did!

5. My notes from the March meeting of the Board of Ed, at which they voted to change the time on learning regulations to force schools to have students in buildings full time are next, for obvious reasons. 

4. My length rebuttal to the Atlantic's article pushing for schools to reopen--one of many pieces in which the Atlantic fumbled the issue--is next. I would also note that the Atlantic piece is one of many this year in which the hyperlinks don't tell the story the text claims.

3. My February letter to the Worcester delegation, pleading with them to act as a co-equal branch of government--something, I'd note, we could still use--is next. I continue to think this:

 Had we started our response there--with Worcester, with Chelsea, with Lawrence--we would have had a very different result. 

And yet, of course, here we are.

2. Something we haven't seen in some time is a charter school application for Worcester; we had one this year (which didn't get sent forward to the next step), and that blog post is next. This is, I think, something which is not going to go away quietly in the coming years, so Worcester needs to be ready for it. 

1. And topping the most read individual posts is my March letter to the delegation questioning the Commissioner's authority, something which I have yet to hear anyone at the state level do. I think that coming out of this era, one of the things with which we need to wrestle is the question of who has what job. The model of everything being left to the local level except when the state decides it doesn't like what you're doing is not a good one. 

And on into 2022! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

It's a staffing issue

 You may have caught in passing the mention from today's Boston Globe that the Department is providing six million KN95 masks to school districts for staff when they come back to school next week:

To help protect school employees, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has supplied 6 million KN95 masks. That’s enough for one mask per day for each employee, including teachers and bus drivers, said a department spokeswoman.

Below, this appears to be predicated on there being about 100,000 staff in Massachusetts, so that's 60 days of masks, assuming one per day, which gets us (with February break off) to mid-March or so. 

This afternoon, the Department announced that they were sending out 200,000 tests to districts, allowing two tests per staff member: 

...strongly encourages all school personnel take one of the at-home antigen tests no more than 24 hours before they return to work 

It has been noted by others that the Department said they're spending $5.6M on this last, which would be $25 per test, and then the next email in my inbox had this headline:

I assume DESE paid what was being asked for what could be had now.
The above is occurring during a school vacation week and without warning. Masks are coming to central distribution points, from which districts need to retrieve them. I assume tests are likewise being sent out the same way, at which point districts will have to find a way to get them to staff, who are also on vacation.
As has been noted, we have been warned for weeks that this week's vacation is of concern. It's why districts that could manage it sent tests home with students before vacation for their use. Districts largely didn't have access to enough tests, and thus we have what it is difficult to describe as anything other than a very late effort. 

Students, of course, are not mentioned in any of the above--we have nearly a million of them in public schools in Massachusetts--and they're also going to be coming back into buildings on Monday morning. There are districts in Massachusetts that were among those to get tests in students' hands before vacation; some of the higher risk communities that had received the state distribution focused on schools. Not all did, and that would leave many districts out, regardless. Lines at testing centers have been long in the places where those tests are available; at home tests are difficult to find.

And the COVID rates in the state have never been this high before. As of last week's data, 41% of 5-11 year olds, 77% of 12-15 year olds, and 78% of 16-18 year olds had at least one dose, which doesn't appear to be enough to blunt the force of the virus.

There was a good deal of online (and elsewhere) outrage this week when the CDC rolled back quarantine recommendations, following staffing concerns expressed by an airline executive, after a weekend in which thousands of flights were cancelled

The above, on the other side, is based on protecting staff. But it is still focused on staff.

I have two concerns as we head into this holiday weekend, which has school on the other side.
The first is for students, most of whom were not sent home with tests, most of whom don't have access to free testing (as we even do in Worcester, if you can get there and can stand in line in the cold), most of whom simply, I'd guess, are not going to be tested before Monday morning.
And many of whom are not going to be walking in the door on Monday with masks equivalent to the above.

The second is actually a staff concern. The state positivity rate right now is over 13%, and that is only of those tested at medical centers; it does not count at home tests.
If anything like that many of the tests the state is sending out to districts to get to staff come back positive between Sunday night and Monday morning, what's our plan for Monday? 


UPDATE: the above was posted prior to DESE's email to superintendents Thursday night that the tests would not, in fact, be in on Friday as scheduled.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

December Board of Ed laterblog

 Due to the Board changing their meeting to a Friday (they meet on Tuesday) fairly short notice (and this after they cancelled their November meeting at the last minute), I didn't get a chance to watch the meeting live. Here's a blog of meeting as watched afterwards. The agenda is here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

FY23 Joint Revenue hearing LIVEBLOG!

 Welcome to the FY23 budget discussion! 

It's supposed to broadcast here, but it isn't...

Okay, we're in and late...FY22 numbers, that I'm going to pick up later from people who get this stuff in writing

Geoffrey Snyder, Commissioner, Mass Department of Revenue:
forecasting revenue for FY23 to be between $36.484B to $37.684B
That is 2.1% and 2.9% higher than FY22 range
Now we're getting the subsets of where the money is from...
uncertainty about sustainability of trends going forward
significant degree of uncertainty in these forecasts
Rep. Michlewitz: any impact on this from omicron so far?
Snyder: not specifically so far

Sen. Rodrigues introduces Mass Taxpayers' Foundation
"how difficult it has been" to project revenue
like a roller-coaster ride "and I think we have one more loop"
"startling" 15% growth in tax revenue
"in large part" due to federal relief
projecting reverting to slow growth for next year
1.1% in growth for FY23, or revenue of $37.6B
capital gains slowing, they project
sale tax revenue at only 1%; spending on durable goods shifting back to services
inflation rates to slowly decline over the next 18 months
"labor force issues" taking a firmer hold
pandemic has accelerated retirement among baby boomers
MA may be able to offset with "higher productivity per worker"
"highly educated workers tend to be more productive"
(this isn't going to help us with bus drivers)
Access to talent moves to forefront
workforce screening and skill development needed from state
outside factors that impact the forecast: global pandemic and geopolitical risks
stronger and more destructive storms due to climate change
Russia, China, Middle East
Cyber threats
Divisive political climate
failure to pass Build Back Better could slow economic recovery, per Moody's

Alan Clayton-Matthews, Northeastern University
"I have a different outlook"
FY22 $38.301B (12.2% above FY21)
FY23 $40.795B (6.5% over FY22)
federal stimulus has largely achieved its objective of buffering the economy
inflation will be subsiding
corporate profits will continue
assumes strong stock market has and will continue to spur a surge in capital grains
effect of unemployment insurance programs on tax revenues is waning
MA gross state product has been growing in step with U.S. GDP for past several decades, as well as past several years specifically
by 4th Q of FY23, employment is expected to achieve the pre-pandemic peak
after that, difficult to grow further without migration into the state
core inflation expected to wane (doesn't include fuel and food): FY22 3.8% FY23 2.3%
"capital gains realizations are much more predictable than stock prices in the model I use"
"fairly reliable predictions"
(I am going to add photos of the charts in here)






Rodrigues: does this include any consideration of the Build Back Better?
Only extension of the child tax credit "so essentially no"

Michael Goodman, UMass Dartmouth
supply chains, labor supply, and continuing pandemic creating headwinds for economic recovery
third quarter recovery, continuing into fourth quarter, slowing next year
labor market recovery has been constrained, well below our pre-recession employment peak
job market and underlying economy have been pretty strong despite these headwinds
"significant wage growth"
particularly at lower end, and even representing real wage growth, in excess of inflation
people still not returning to labor market, though
"a number of good reasons" for that (chart to put in here)


Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: workers have other options, switching positions


aging of workforce also helps explain our current labor supply woes
high quality childcare very expensive; retirees caring for grandchildren?
all of these things reduce the size of the labor force
prices have been rising rapidly but supply constraints are a big part of the story
energy prices have been driving this, as well as things like new and used cars
"kinks in global supply chain are weighing heavily in our economic outlook"
national survey of CFO's suggest supply chain disruptions are likely to persist for some time
broad and uneven distribution of vaccines tied to economic trajectories: by county, higher vaccination, higher consumer spending, lower unemployment
surge in hospital admissions, but overwhelmingly those who are not vaccinated
do have hospital capacity issues, nonetheless
vaccinations "are not a force field of vulnerability"
six to eight weeks, suspect we'll see an uptick in cases
extending vaccinations and making it easier for venues to make it easier to see who is vaccinated and not so as to ride out the disruptions while having the highest levels of public health
"wind up with a little bit of humility"
chair of Federal Reserve saying that none of us knows where the economy will be in a year or more
inflation, labor supply, supply chain issues

Treasurer Deb Goldberg
long-term all weather portfolio will continue to perform well
Commonwealth's "robust economic base and its prudent fiscal management practices"

Evan Horowitz, Center for State Policy at Tufts
FY23 $36.5B 
unappreciated risks and weaknesses of current situation
"many ways for our economy to stumble" and fewer ways for corrections
more stable revenue streams are only slightly above state benchmarks
high corporate taxes and prepayment
little jump at end of state revenue as a share of GDP 




two paths possible, either fall dramatically or have a more gradual curve down
FY23 more likely to see a reversion in corporate taxes and prepayments
not particularly concerned about runaway inflation or stagflation
"inflation is much higher right now than anticipated"
each of the (more) dollars collected is less valuable
cost of running state government is higher (AND LOCAL AS WELL)
"makes revenue projections less cheering" 
once you account for inflation, projection is actually a decline

Hearing closed

Friday, December 17, 2021

What happened last night at Worcester School Committee

 
The upshot, not in order, of what happened last night at Worcester School Committee (full agenda):

  • Superintendent Binienda gave us an update on COVID, of which she said there has been "a great increase" in cases. For the week ending on Wednesday--the state measures from Thursday to Wednesday--there were 197 positive cases among students (up 10), with 33 quarantining (up 16). Among staff, there were 35 positive cases (up 8), with 2 quarantining (down 3). She gave us the test and stay numbers, but I missed one, so let me update that.
    There is a significant amount of contact tracing going on, as a result, which means the school nurses, who make these calls (which, can I just say, is really amazing, because it means that families are being contacted by someone who can actually answer their questions!), are working a LOT of hours. Our director of nursing, Debra McGovern, noted that we were being asked to approve a grant last night--which we did, and reconsidered it, so it can be spent immediately--which increases the dollar amount per hour nurses who are working those extra hours receive. 
    The district is emphasizing that all students need working devices that are going home. THIS DOES NOT MEAN CLASSES ARE GOING REMOTE.
    The superintendent was at pains to note that, per the Commissioner's meeting with superintendents this week, any remote decisions would be done ONLY for classes or schools--not entire districts---where positivity was "more than a half or three quarters" (that's quoting the superintendent) of the students. That would then need to be the recommendation of BOTH DPH AND the Commissioner's COVID group (?), and it would be for no more than eight days.
    PLEASE STOP SPREADING RUMORS ABOUT "ADVANCED APPLICATIONS" FOR REMOTE LEARNING. THERE IS NO SUCH THING.

  • We took up the report from the City Manager's office on the removal of School Resource Officers from schools and the move to a liaison position (starts on page 113 on the agenda). A few additional notes on the report, which was referred to Finance and Operations for further discussion and updates with the City Council's Education Subcommittee:
       I would say that the Committee in general is supportive of the major change, which is removal of the police from the buildings. Mrs. Clancey rightly noted that the timeline on this--the report coming to the respective public bodies the week of December 13, with removal of the police happening at the end of the calendar year--left questions as to implementation of the plan regarding training and staffing in the buildings. While there was a response that some of that training will happen during January (if I was understanding that correctly), this is concerning.
      Though the liaisons will not be the schools, and this largely moves towards a neighborhood policing model, the liaison positions will still count as "police" in the Worcester Public Schools budget as a city contribution. The--I guess?--positive point here is that this removal doesn't put us any closer to plunging below required net school spending than we already were (remember, we're only $14K over this year, which isn't much of a margin for a budget of any size), but it does mean that, yes, we're still going to be spending $700K+ on police in the schools budget, which I know was something many advocates were hoping was going to be over.
       (This is reminding me that we probably are overdue for an explainer on Net School Spending around here, again. I went on at some length about this during the meeting, because I am beyond exhausted--it's been three city administrations now--of being lectured to about what the schools need to find money for, and how the schools need to be grateful for capital spending, in city where the municipality barely meets the legal requirement for operating costs, in a state where the average is spending a third more than required. In any case...)
       The joint MOU between the police department and the school department we asked to come back to us, in part because this will involve the devotion of resources (which is under our purview). The initial one is due the end of January (I hear some indications that some language already exists) for the next six months, for reconsideration this summer for an update.
       There were four focus groups. In total, those involved 12 students and 4 parents. While those weren't the only ones involved, it's...less than compelling. And, as I noted, having a school safety plan created by the city manager's office left us light on details on the "inside the school building side," which...would seem to be key? Thus this didn't appear to have a lot of voices of those inside our buildings every day.
       I should note that SROs are part of the survey that the student reps are collecting responses on, so that will be useful to have back--in January!--as well.

  • Last night our student reps--Adalise Rivera Lugo of UPCS, in addition to our ex officio Stacia Zoghbi of Tech--updated us on their student survey efforts (Students, if you haven't: take the survey! Check your emails!), their work on a social media policy for the student advisory council, and the Zen Den at Worcester Tech, which is something they'd like to see expanded to more schools.

  • The report out from Finance and Operations--agenda here, remember this includes transportation updates!--sent me down a line of questioning that I want to explain a bit here.
      The first thing to note is that our grants department is currently under the Deputy Superintendent, which is a change from prior administrations. Much of the current committee flagged that as of concern during our budget deliberation, particularly due to the influx of ESSER spending coming to the district, but it remains as it is.
      The ARP special education grant for $1.7M that came before the Committee at the end of October had 18 positions in it. I asked that we send it to subcommittee because it wasn't clear to me how we were going to fund what, from what one could discern from the grant backup, were new positions, once the grant, which would fund then for 18 months, ran out.
       Once it got to subcommittee, it became clear that these were not, mostly, new positions. When we received the September update on the budget, the IDEA grant (the usual one) came back $58K more than was budgeted. All to the good.
       However, between then and the end of October, the funding in IDEA that we as a district can spend fell by $313K, partly due to the money we're required to set aside for private schools, and partly due to a DESE program (that I'd never heard of before) called 3M, which is a required set-aside for turnaround work.
       Thus our federal IDEA grant, which funds the salaries for 192 people in the FY22 budget, was $313K short. 
      The School Committee didn't receive an update on this in the first quarterly report--grants, remember, aren't part of the finance office--so we had no idea that we suddenly had no funding for the salaries for quite a number of employees.
      Those, it turned out--and this we only gathered in subcommittee--is most of what was being carried by this ARP IDEA grant, with the intent once the grant runs out being to pick up the positions in the increased funding through SOA (which I am beginning to think that we are overcommitting, but one thing at a time).
      In any case, I'm not sure that was clear in my line of questions last night, but it's worrying to me to have a drop in revenue that funds positions that we don't know about and have to kind of stumble across.

  • Both ESSER II and III were approved, but remember, there's a lot of scope in there for application (and grants can be amended), so you should please attend our public hearing on ESSER on Monday at 7; that's the agenda with the Zoom link, so please share! 

  • I asked for a report on our access to the Massachusetts Immunization Information System, which is a statewide datebase for, yes, immunizations. I know other districts have been using this access to have up-to-date information on how many of their students are vaccinated; we do have this access, so we're getting a report on how that works and, moving forward, should be able to have those percentages as part of our COVID updates.

  • Mrs. Clancey requested an update on open teaching positions and what is being done to fill them. I hope we get this back soon.

  • We had a boatload of items come back as requests to be filed (that starts on page 59 of the agenda). I did ask to pull a few back out, including the request to put the homeschooling form on the website; we now have the PowerPoint about homeschooling, but not the actual form, and I asked that this be fixed before the end of the calendar year. 
    We also aren't following our own fundraising policy (GBEBD), which requires that all such efforts be approved by principals, first to keep the school moving the same direction, but also, because sometimes (believe it or not!), we can actually pay for things. Also, if the principals don't know, we never hear about it, and we can't fix it. With over 200 projects currently up on Donors Choose from WPS, I'm going to bet that most of them didn't follow this process.
    (And yes, I know this is a pain, teachers. But I also want us to actually fix the problem.)
    The other thing, incidentally, is we're not following is the part that doesn't allow for solicitation among those to whom someone is directly answerable; there should not be solicitation coming from any administrative office, thus, nor should solicitation go from teachers to families in a specific fashion. That section reads: 
    Employees shall not use a crowdfunding source, or set up their appeal in such a way, that they are asking for donations directly from people over whom the employee making the request has authority, or with whom the public employee is having official dealings (such as parents of student's in a teacher's classroom - the solicitation can say "Classroom X needs tissues and crayons," but it shouldn't be directed to parents who have shared email addresses with the teacher for purposes of communicating about their student).

  • We did also honor our outgoing members, and I won't try to summarize that. I do want to note that Mayor Petty had each of the outgoing members chair part of the meeting, which was a very nice gesture. 

Important note: the city inauguration is on January 3 at 5:30 at Mechanics Hall, and the public is MOST welcome!