Gee, ya’ think?

Two hours and ten minutes into the school board club meeting of August 28, Trustee Martha Fluor launched into this speech:

“From the board’s perspective, I think it’s incumbent upon us as [unintelligible] because we have – one of our duties is policies and bylaws and procedures, and I believe it is time for us as a school district to start looking at those policies that need to be – have those courageous conversations about stress eliminators, grading policy, start time. We need to start addressing those issues. Homework policies. Grading policies. All those conversations which, at the board level is our duty and our responsibility to do. Period, amen and finish. That’s our job. That’s what we’re elected to is protect the students and the families and the aspirations of those children. And so I think it’s incumbent upon us as a board – and Dr. Navarro, I would – and Mrs. Snell – I think that we should be having a study session to establish what our priorities are – what we should be focusing on in this area. We know that staff is doing fabulous work, but how do we as a board support that through policies and that’s something we need to have a conversation about and come to some conclusions because to be real honest, our policies – while we take a lot of our policies from CSBA, they’re not really addressing this in a manner that we could go further with and I think we need to. And so, I would appreciate scheduling that study session or some sort of a process by which we can have those conversations and start this ball rolling.”

Nice speech. I agree with almost all of that. What I’d like to know is why it took her 27 years to give it. I thought of this in view of the fact that I raised the issues of grading, start times, and homework on this blog four years ago when I ran for a seat on the school board. Each was one of my 12 “School Improvement Idea of the Week” recommendations during my campaign.

The only part of Fluor’s speech with which I take issue is this notion of having conversations. In the beginning of her remarks she even referred to them as “courageous” conversations.

Why is talking about new ways of doing old things considered courageous? These conversations should be routine. They should be a part of every board meeting. No sacred cows – everything is on the table for review. Always.

And why didn’t the superintendent raise these issues and make recommendations or even suggest starting these conversations?

When Fluor was finished, school board club president Vicki Snell, pictured here in a different part of the meeting, said, “OK! Moving on…”

Eye roll

School board club president Vicki Snell

There was no comment by the superintendent. No, “I agree and I’ll get something scheduled.” No, “I disagree and here’s why…” Nothing.

Safety update

Earlier in the meeting, Phil D’Agostino presented an update on campus safety and used the term “school shooter.” Thank you for that. Thank you, Phil D’Agostino, for directly addressing the number one safety concern of students, staff, and parents without using some squishy term. School shooters are what the increased safety focus is all about. Following his remarks, school board club member Karen Yelsey said,

“Dr. D’Agostino, I want to thank you for this. It really is a complete program and I think we all are very proud of being part of this. And I know over time – none of this is new to us – it’s things that you have presented at board meetings to us and for me, for a member of the public who has heard this at board meetings to go out in public and state falsehoods about what we’re doing and saying we’re not doing enough is really very unfortunate and reprehensible, in my opinion. So I do appreciate you reiterating this list of things that we already are doing. Thank you.”

Gosh, that “member of the public” must be feeling really bad right now. Imagine being attacked from the dais without a chance for dialog and being told that your comments are “reprehensible.”

Here’s what

At 7:15 a.m. on a weekday morning last week, a high school student entered the campus by opening a door and walking in: No metal detector, no badge, no adult supervision, – no adults anywhere – no screening of any type whatsoever. Nothing.

Just walked right in with a backpack.

The board and the administration can talk all they want about their wonderful, amazing, and exciting school safety initiatives and gizmos. Karen Yelsey can try to defend this late safety effort all she wants, but talk is cheap.

Seven months after Parkland, that kid walked right in, unchecked.

This is not about that student- that’s just a symptom; proof that Yelsey’s words do not match the actions of the district.

The real issue – the one that she failed to address on Aug. 28 – is that the district still is not doing the one thing that is the most effective – and inexpensive – way to reduce or eliminate the threat of a shooter.

That “member of the public” knows what they have to do. Ask 10 students and I’d guess 7 would get it right, too, because it’s not rocket surgery. But it’s not being done.

Reprehensible indeed.

Steve Smith

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