The big thing is that the district is being investigated by the California Dept. of Education to determine whether it is “compliant with the purposes and application of funds from the Federal Title I program.” According to the Super, the district was chosen at random. Here are his thoughts on the subject via a recent “District Office to Staff” memo he wrote:

“This week we were officially notified that the State has added NMUSD to the list of districts to participate in Federal Program Monitoring. The California Department of Education (CDE) is required to conduct on-site monitoring of at least 60 school districts and online monitoring of an additional 60 districts. The odds of getting selected for either the on-site or online monitoring program is fairly high. According to the CDE website, various factors are considered:

‘CDE follows a risk-based approach to identify where it should use monitoring resources. This approach includes several analyses of risk factors to guide selection of the local educational agencies (LEAs) that will receive a Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) review. This enables the CDE to focus its monitoring resources to foster student achievement and fiscal compliance. These risk factors identified are not, by themselves, evidence of noncompliance.’

“In speaking with CDE officials, NMUSD was not selected based on identified risk factors or groups – those being Academic Achievement, Fiscal Analysis and Data Reporting. Our district was selected under a fourth factor; Random. It is therefore our legal obligation to conduct a thorough evaluation to ensure that we are compliant with the purposes and application of funds from the Federal Title I program. After all, we do have a 48% unduplicated count of students who are English learners, in poverty or in foster care. Since this money is intended to assist us in eliminating the achievement gap in our schools, a team from CDE will be visiting the district office and school sites to verify the appropriate use of funds and our compliance with all state and federal policies.

“The visit is to take place in the second week of March. If you happen to see an unfamiliar group of people visiting your school it will most likely be the monitoring team who, I have no doubt, will be validating all of the impressive work being done for atrisk students at our schools. While no one appreciates the added work heaped upon all of the other state initiatives on our plate, this monitoring is actually an opportunity for us to highlight the exceptional work being done in classrooms and throughout the district for all NMUSD students.”

It’s going to be a classic California weekend and I hope you enjoy the summer-like weather!

Fred

Me again. Once again, the district is whining about being hamstrung by all those darn English learner students. Board Pres Martha Fluor did it on Sept. 22 and the Super just did it yesterday. Oh, and have a nice weekend!

The other part of this that is troublesome is this line: “While no one appreciates the added work heaped upon all of the other state initiatives on our plate…”

Aside from the poor sentence structure, this is more whining. Reading this, you’d think that the N-MUSD is the only district in the state that has to comply with all the state regulations. It’s not. Every district has state stuff to deal with. But instead of taking action – instead of organizing a team of district Supers to tell the Dept. of Ed to knock it off – taxpayers in Newport-Mesa get whining from the top guy.

Here’s my reply:

  1. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
  2. You have choices. Either you do what the state says, or you don’t, or you try to change the system. Pick one.
  3. Stop whining and get back to work.

Now for the little thing: This memo is poorly written. Another standout line is: “The odds of getting selected for either the on-site or online monitoring program is fairly high.”

Yep, you read it correctly: The odds is fairly high.

For about $300,000 in compensation for a required 7 or 8 months of work, I expect more from the head guy, particularly when he has a doctorate and is referred to as “Dr.” Navarro.

Maybe this poorly written memo is not a little thing. Maybe the sloppiness is indicative of the cavalier attitude toward many of the challenges facing the district. Maybe it’s indicative of the low bar that this administration has set for performance standards on the Westside of Costa Mesa.

Maybe I have this all wrong. Maybe the district looked at the recent terrible Common Core testing performance of those Westside schools and thought it was a victory.

Steve Smith

Advertisements