On a night in which two board members were absent, the remaining five took just over an hour to rubber stamp the authorization of millions of dollars without so much as a single question. Nothing.

Early in the proceedings, we were given the full extent of the damage from the failure of the air conditioning contractor to protect school roofs during the last rain. The damage was enormous: 14 classrooms closed at California, 17 at Killybrooke and 19 at TeWinkle, which also lost its computer lab.

But to listen to the board and bureaucrats (let’s call them B & B), you’d think the flooding was a good thing. Trustee Charlene Metoyer, who continues to bat .000 in the Contributions to Academic Improvement Index (CAII because the education establishment loves their acronyms), lavishly praised everyone involved in the clean-up and the transfer of students to dry classrooms. “Phenomenal job!” she crowed, then went on to gush about the “convoy of buses” that were need after the contractor failed to protect taxpayer-owned property.

But this was the line of the night: “There was a positive attitude reverberating around what could have been a real opportunity to be negative,” said Metoyer, who has assumed the role of the board’s Effie Trinket.

In Metoyer’s world, everything is wonderful and the administration can do no wrong. Actually, she fits right in.

As the meeting went on, bits and pieces of the Great Flood of ’15 leaked out:

  • Tarps covering vents in classrooms that caused temperatures to rise
  • Kids bused to dry classrooms sitting three abreast on the seats instead of two
  • Workers using student bathrooms (uh-oh…)
  • A complaint of workers standing around without supervision “doing nothing”
  • Shortages of supplies to replace those that were damaged

Yet again, the meeting was notable not for what was said, but for what was not said. Not a single board member asked about, and none of the high-salaried bureaucrats offered to tell taxpayers the answers to the two questions we want to know:

  1. What is being done to ensure that this does not happen again?
  2. What is the status of the claim against the contractor or the contractor’s insurer so that taxpayers get every cent of the damage that was done, including compensation for the district’s transportation costs?

No one asked and no one offered because no one cared. It’s just tax dollars you see, and it comes in every year whether the administration works hard or takes it easy. So why work hard  or rock the boat?

After the descriptions and complaints of the Great Flood, which came from speakers, not from any of the bureaucrats, it was time for board clerk Walt Davenport to read the legal mumbo jumbo about the consent calendar before it was rubber stamped 5-0 without a question. Davenport’s routine clerk recitations, plus his 30 seconds or so in his board member comments were the extent of his contributions last night. Nothing about fixing the Westside schools or plans to attend community meetings to get a better understanding of what parents want.

Other board member comments included Metoyer, who wanted you to know that Peer-to-Pier “is spelled P-E-E-R and P-I-E-R,” did not offer any remedies for improving academic performance. She smiled a lot and put on her best “I’m concerned” face when a speaker told a story about her student not qualifying for a bus pass.

Trustee Dana Black muttered about the data that was revealed in a recent study session and congratulated someone or some group on the fine job they did. But she did not say what academic improvement, if any, would come as a result of the data dump. So, instead, I’ll tell you: Nothing will come of this.

The Super had an opportunity to be a leader but declined once again. Instead of talking about plans for the improvement of Westside schools, he talked about an article in the Register that could lead to some money from a youth sports league. I’m not sure if it’ll be enough to cover the raise he’s getting next month – his third in two years – but it’ll help.

In a moment that made me smile, board president Martha Fluor blamed the english learning kids for the poor Common Core results, as though there have not been any Spanish-speaking kids on Costa Mesa’s Westside until last year. English learners in high numbers have been on the Westside for decades. To play that card now is irresponsible. Spanish-speaking kids are not the reason why the test scores were so low. The reason is decades of district complacency.

Fluor said something else that made me smile. Speaking about a survey that the district took last year, she said, “I don’t recall seeing the results.” Maybe that’s because those district surveys are like “Roach Motels,” except in this case, data goes in, but it doesn’t come out. I wrote recently about the same thing – lots of surveys, no results.

Oh, and thanks to Trustee Judy Franco who took the time to explain to all of us that when the president gets the new federal budget in a few days, he has a choice: He can either approve it or he can veto it.

You see: Go to a school board meeting, get a civics lesson!

Steve Smith

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