Next Door is a social networking portal for neighborhoods, not people. When you join Next Door, you become part of an online community that exchanges ideas, services, and recommendations.

And alerts. A couple of weeks ago, someone posted an alert about the highly suspicious activities of a FedEx driver in our area, complete with regular updates on the communication with FedEx. This was very helpful.

After each meeting of the recently formed Human Relations Task Force (HRTF), N-MUSD Trustee Vicki Snell – the trustee in my area – has posted an update. What Snell posts is not original, it’s just the standard issue blather from the district.

The real disconnect, though, is that Snell is giving updates on meetings she has not attended. Without adding that she did not attend and is simply providing a recap that was written by the district, she is misleading people in our area.

Trustee Vicki Snell

Snell apparently forgot to mention that she has not been at either of the first two meetings, so I pointed it out in the “Reply” section.

More than just some disingenuous behavior by a trustee, providing these updates without experiencing the meeting is a great disservice. At the last meeting, for example, we discussed what is arguably the most glaring problem in the HRTF process, which is that there is so little student participation. I believe we had one student present at the last meeting.

I have recommended to the board, to the superintendent, and to the meeting facilitators, Orange County Human Relations, that we do not meet again until we have sufficient student participation. I also suggested that if we can’t get more students to come to the meetings, we should bring the meetings to the students, physically or virtually.

Student participation is important for these reasons:

  1. Students have a better idea of the language we need to use to get students to embrace the message.
  2. Students know the best communications channels to use to get the messaging out to the most kids with the least amount of time and expense.
  3. The program has a much greater chance of succeeding if students are involved in its development.

One trustee told me that she understands how critically important it is to have more students on the task force. And that trustee is not Snell.

I know what you’re wondering: Where’s the superintendent on all this? Good question. The answer is that I do not have a clue. He had a good chance to say something about this challenge at last Tuesday’s school board meeting – two good chances, actually – but he did not.

So, whatever.

Put a CAP on it!

It’s called the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and it is supposed to describe how a school district is going to address the following eight challenges:

  1. Access to core services
  2. Implementation of Common Core State Standards
  3. Access to a broad course of study
  4. Student achievement
  5. Other student outcomes
  6. Student engagement
  7. Parent involvement
  8. School climate

The LCAP is not optional, it’s required by law.

Over at the Escondido Union School District (EUSD), their annual budget is about half of that of the N-MUSD. Despite the fact that they are working with a lot less dough, they have somehow managed to lap the N-MUSD with regard to transparency.

Some comparisons:

Want to find the current budget quickly and easily? Type the word budget in the search box on the EUSD website and you get this:

Easy to read and easy to navigate, yes? Yes. Type “budget” into the search box on the N-MUSD website and you get this:

I know what you’re thinking… “Hey, Steve, what’s the big deal? That last entry from February, 2018, “Budget Powerpoint,” that’s it, right?

Sorry. Click on that and you get this:

In other words, type in “budget” and the latest budget copy you’ll get is ten years old.

What’s with the lack of transparency? Why is it so hard to get basic information like the budget quickly and easily? Why do they make us trudge on down to HQ to see the LCAP instead of putting it online like the EUSD and other districts?

Because this administration doesn’t care if you know. After writing about their antics on this blog for just about five years and for many years prior for the Daily Pilot, I believe that it’s more than just simple oversights that keep important information offline or at best, hard to find online.

I was alerted to the missing online LCAP copy by activists Erica and Jeff Roberts. It was Erica who led the charge to replace math program that was so full of problems that people in two separate sixth-grade promotion ceremonies celebrated the fact that they would no longer have to deal with it.

Type “LCAP” in the search function on the EUSD site and you get this:

Nice, eh? But if you type “LCAP” in the search function on the N-MUSD site, you get this:

No current LCAP to be found.

It’s business as usual: No attempt to be transparent or user-friendly and no accountability for failing to be either one.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering whether I cherry-picked the EUSD because it’s some super high-achieving district with a bar so high no one could ever reach it, here are their latest test scores:

70% of the kids failed to meet the standards for math and 58% failed to meet them for English. Despite that and despite the fact that they have half the money we have, they still get the whole transparency and accountability thing.

It’s not hard, really. You just have to care.

Steve Smith

P.S. If the images are fuzzy, I am sorry. I’m not sure why that happened.