Policy Committee Meeting Report: March 5, 2020

by Lisa Haver

Are Board Members Hearing Community Concerns on CSPR?

Present: Co-chairs Maria McColgan and Joyce Wilkerson, Committee members Julia Danzy and Lee Huang. Chris McGinley was absent. Board members Angela McIver and Letitia Egea-Hinton also attended and participated.

The Board considered eliminating or amending seven District policies on curriculum, academic standards, exemption from instruction, discipline records, missing child registration, student activity funds, and debt. (Find the full agenda here.)

No public documents were distributed; as usual, one binder with the policies under consideration was kept on the table outside the room. The policy titles, without content, were projected onto the wall during the review.

The Committee approved the January 16, 2020 Minutes.

District Chief of Staff Naomi Wyatt, representing Dr. Hite, read the sections to be amended but not the full policies. The Committee called up Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson to answer questions about Policy 653 on Debt. A question was asked which prompted Monson to talk about derivatives and swaps, but no explanation was given about what those terms meant or why the District used them. Monson said that under the amended policy the District’s derivative portfolio income would go from 45% to 25%. Wilkerson asked about oversight of charter finances; Monson responded that they were hard to track. The Board does not hold public hearings on charter renewals, but that would be an obvious place to review that information.

Lisa Haver, the only public speaker, renewed her request that the Board provide printed documents at all Board meetings. Haver reminded the Board members that meeting materials are legal documents that must be made available for many reasons, including that the Board has changed the online materials after the meeting several times.  Haver also told the Board members that APPS members including her have attended CSPR (Comprehensive School Planning Review) meetings and that conflicting information has been given by the consultants facilitating those meetings. In particular, it is not clear who will make the final recommendations to the Board or after how many public meetings. Wyatt was called back up; she said that the District will take the time it needs to make decisions. Wyatt said that the Board would hold any legally required hearings before any school is closed.  Actually, unlike charters, no legal hearings are required to close a public school in the city. Egea-Hinton said that she had attended one of the Planning meetings at Clemente and was aware that the Sheppard community was protesting possible closing, although she said that she didn’t understand how that idea “got this far”. APPS members who attended the Clemente meeting on March 4 were present for the discussion of that proposal. No District staffer denied the fact that Sheppard was being considered for closure. In fact, the District report shows one proposal to eliminate Sheppard through co-location; students might be transferred to DeBurgos. From the District’s January 22, 2020 report:

  • Change Cramp from K-5 to K-4
  • Co-locate or reassign Sheppard students to de Burgos
  • Seek opportunities to re-purpose Sheppard building
  • Seek programming alternatives for underutilized schools

Committee members declined to discuss any other policies.  The meeting adjourned after 28 minutes.