Last night I had the great pleasure to attend the 2010 Monona Grove Alternative High School graduation ceremony at the Monona Community Center. It is an event that I love to attend and last night was no exception. The seven graduates' heartfelt speeches and gracious thank-yous to friends, family and teachers alike left me a little misty-eyed in the audience. In fact, it also made me want to go back to high school so I could have FB and McD as teachers. While I did have plenty of excellent and influential teachers throughout my secondary education, I don't remember anyone of them hitting hook-shots with a huge 'fro. Every time I'm with the Alt School staff, I feel like I've fallen into a Welcome Back Kotter episode and I have no desire to return to reality. Is that weird?
This year's graduation ceremony marks an end to the MGAS charter school and ushers in the new Monona Grove Liberal Arts Charter School for the 21st Century or “MG21". As you may remember, MGAS teachers Rebecca Fox-Blair and Bill McDonald recently discovered they needed to bring the charter for the school into compliance with federal statutes and guidelines, by listing MGSD policies from which MGAS is exempt and by creating a governance board. This restructuring also provided the welcome opportunity to bring $350,000 into the district by creating a new charter. Bill McDonald told us last night that they hope to hear more about the status of their grant application by the end of July or early August. Good luck MG21 and best wishes for the future to all MGAS graduates!
In other School Board news, the Board unanimously approved contracting with the Chartwells School Dining Services at a special meeting on Wednesday night. We listened to a presentation led by Barb Waara, Director of Food Services and members of her committee about the proposal. This contract will be a year long, giving the district ample opportunity to reevaluate it's merits. I was particularly happy to see that with the exception of Barb Waara, who will become an employee of Chartwells, all of our current district food service workers will remain district employees. I think it's helpful to look at the contract as a change in food providers, as opposed to outsourcing our employees, who will remain under their current contract. Thoughts on the topic from Board President Susan Fox's Board update:
After review and evaluation, including interviews with representatives of the companies and reference checks with other client school districts, the committee recommended that Monona Grove enter into a professional service contract with Chartwells School Dining Service for the management and operation of our food service program for 2010-11. Committee members believe that this arrangement will provide financial stability and even profitability, capture the benefits of pricing through a large company, build upon and provide education for students with regard to nutrition and healthy eating habits, address changes in eating preferences for students while providing more fresh fruits and vegetables, increase participation, and provide on-going staff professional development training for all food service employees, among other benefits. The Board voted to accept the recommendation of the committee and approved contracting with Chartwells for 2010-11. You can find more information on Chartwells at http://www.eatlearnlive.com/.
Board member Peter Sobol also has an interesting and informative thread on the Chartwells contract on his blog: http://www.petersobol.blogspot.com/.
I got a little smack-down of sunshine in last week's Herald Independent for a blogpost I wrote about the legality of talking about closed session topics in public. Ironically, I believe this may have been the only time that I have ever capitalized comments, but too late. Especially because I realized I was WRONG, as Sunny would have discovered had she gone back and read my follow-up post the next day. After hearing the thoughts of several sources including Superintendent Gerlach, Board President Fox, previous Board member Phil McDade, WASB attorney Barry Forbes and district attorney Mike Julka, it is my understanding that expectations about public disclosure about negotiation details are established as ground rules by both parties at the beginning of negotiations. We have none in place, other than the contractual language quoted below. Julka spoke with the Board before our June 2nd special meeting and advised the Board that we should not disclose any details of negotiations, outside of explaining the process that we are involved in. According to our current contract, page 6:
Section 4: Initial Open Meetings
6/4/1 In accordance with Section 111.70(4)(cm)(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes, the initial meeting or meetings held to present initial bargaining proposals and supporting rationale shall be open to the public. The first open meeting shall be for the purpose of exchanging written proposals, informing the other party of the rationale for each of said written proposals, and the exchanging of press releases.
Section 5: Closed Negotiations
6/5/1 Thereafter negotiating sessions between the Board and the Association shall be closed to the press and public unless the parties mutually agree that such continuing negotiating sessions shall be open to the press and the public.
Section 6: Press Releases
6/6/1 Press releases concerning negotiations shall be mutually approved by the Board and the Association until impasse is reached. This is not to preclude keeping the Association membership and Board members informed as to the progress of negotiations.
As Sunny writes "I think the board members’ reticence on the contract is born of ignorance. They won’t talk about it because they don’t know about it and they don’t want to know, either. They take no role in the nasty business of negotiations, assigning that task to Gerlach and the soon-to-be-departed Business Director Mary Ellen Van Valin. For all I know, the school board members are sitting there like a bunch of monkeys: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
Of course, there are those people who continue to keep talking (and talking) even after they realize they might not actually be correct in their assertions, but I'm not one of them. I'll see you one ignorant monkey and I raise you one unicorn who flew out of my butt. The district continues to wait for word from the MGEA.
And finally, a couple of updates:
A documentary about charter schools: "The Lottery": ONE NIGHT ONLY AT EASTGATE CINEMAS, TUESDAY, JUNE 8 AT 7:30PM.
From MGSC Registrar, Sue Carr:
A new education movie, The Lottery, will open at select theaters around the country on Tuesday, June 8.
"The Lottery is a feature-length documentary that explores the struggles and dreams of four families from Harlem and the Bronx in the months leading up to the lottery for Harlem Success Academy, one of the most successful charter schools in New York. The four families cast their lots in a high-stakes draw, where only a small
majority of children emerge with a chance at a better future. The vast majority of hopefuls will be turned away. By interlacing the families' stories with the emotional and highly politicized battle over the future of American education, The Lottery is a call to action to avert a catastrophe in the education of American children. With heart, humor and hope, The Lottery makes the case that any child, given the right educational circumstances, can succeed."
Tickets may be purchased online.
I am trying to get the word out that registration for the next year of soccer (Fall 10, and Spring 11) is happening now- The Deadline is June 14. I volunteer as the registrar for the U6-U!0 groups in Monona. That is kiddos going into kindergarten up to kids going into 4th grade. Kids who are K, 1, 2 do not need a uniform. Kids going into Third grade also need a uniform form and a separate check for the uniform. See attachments for the information form, and the uniform form. The actual registration form can be found here.
I am trying to get the word out as I have not gotten a lot of re-registration forms and do not want folks to have to pay the late fee. If you all could forward to any other kids you know who play soccer, who want to play soccer, and especially incoming kindergartners who may want to start this year. Remember that you register now, it is for both the fall and spring season. Same team, etc. I am available by email or cell phone- 347-7832 with any questions. You can also contact the head Monona Coordinator, Keene Kohrt, at the address above.
From an email:
Kids want to be in the triathlon but have not signed up yet??The Sawyer Crossen
Memorial Triathlon is Saturday Morning THIS WEEK but you can still sign up day
of event or even better tonight- FRIDAY at the community center between
6-7:30. We stuffed goody bags tonight and met with all the volunteers- it will
be a great event. The excitement is building..... So.... think about getting any of those kids ages 4-17 on board.