Board of Education Joint Committee: December 3, 2020

by Lynda Rubin

Only a few months ago, Board members discussed the possibility of closing more neighborhood schools in response to the projected budget crisis. Now they are considering layoffs and furloughs of teachers and support staff.  Their promise earlier this year only to approve essential contracts quickly went by the wayside. Their scheduling of a special Policy Committee meeting, billed as a first step in reassessing the 10-year old Renaissance charter initiative, didn’t even broach the subject of reform; its purpose apparently was to reassure charter operators that the public trough would remain filled. 

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Joint Committee Meeting: October 8, 2020

by Lynda Rubin

At the combined meetings of the Student Achievement and Support Committee and the Finance and Facilities Committee, several Board members questioned the accuracy of reopening information District staff has presented. Their repeated follow-up questions to 440 staff struck a different tone than that of previous meetings.  It remains to be seen whether Board members will stand firm in their pursuit of in-depth answers and standards necessary for safety or continue to accept the vague answers given by the Hite administration. 

Board members Angela McGiver, Leticia Etea-Hinton, Julia Danzy, and Lee Huang attended both meetings in their entirety; Maria McColgan joined late. President Joyce Wilkerson appeared at the beginning of the first meeting, but was not seen for the remainder of the session, although she could be heard at times. The Board should display the images of all those in attendance. If that is not possible–if they are connected by phone or their camera is disabled–their names should be on screen for as long as they are actually present. The public has a right to know who is present and who is not. (The Board website page indicates that Ameen Akbar has not yet taken on a committee assignment.)

Click here to read what transpired at each committee meeting.

Board Protects Charter Status Quo

by Diane Payne

Policy Committee Meeting, September 10, 2020

The Board’s Policy Committee scheduled a special meeting just one week after its regular quarterly meeting. The Board did not explain on September 3 why it was having a separate meeting on September 10 or why the three policies on this agenda could not have been discussed the week before.  Members of the public who signed up to speak could only guess about the Board’s intentions about revising or deleting Policy 141, the Renaissance Charter Initiative.  By the meeting’s end, however, it became clear that the purpose of the meeting was to assure charter operators that their interests would be protected. 

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Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting: September 3, 2020

by Lynda Rubin

This remote Committee meeting, held  immediately after the Student Achievement Committee,  opened with an update on the District’s financial health in light of additional expenses and drops in revenue. The meeting did not, however, address the Board’s continued spending of large sums of money for contracts to favored businesses despite stating months ago that it was only going to spend money on essential programs. The Facilities Safety Report presented by the new Chief of Operations stands in contrast to the just released Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report that found both errors were made during the process and lies to the public about the safety of students and staff during in-school construction work and asbestos abatement. To date, no one has been held accountable. Any doubts about who the Board actually represents evaporated when, without prior announcement, representatives from a company vying for a tax-free KOZ contract, along with the City’s Commerce Director, were allowed to present a lengthy presentation that contradicted many statements in its August presentation. 

[The posted agendas for both committees can be found here.  Slide presentations and descriptions of upcoming Action Items for both committees can be accessed through links on this agenda.]

Minutes for the Joint Committee meeting of August 13, 2020 were approved.

Lee Huang chaired the Finance and Facilities meeting; Committee members Letitia Egea-Hinton and Joyce Wilkerson attended.  Board members Angela McIver, Julia Danzy, Mallory Fiz Lopez and Maria McColgan also attended. (Note: McColgan and Egea-Hinton left the meeting just before the Facilities Update.)

Click here to read the rest of the report.