Tonight’s meeting was unusually short and quiet, even though we did have a sizeable group from John O’Connell High School to protest the layoff of the school’s wellness coordinator. This employee is certainly a major asset to a site that has more than its share of students who really need her services, and it was difficult to hear about the potential impact on her students if she leaves. Board members have asked district staff to continue to work on the situation, and I hope there will be a solution that keeps this employee where she wants to remain: serving the students of John O’Connell High School.
Also of note on tonight’s agenda:
- Proposals establishing open enrollment in honors classes and revising Board policy on graduation requirements were withdrawn by the Superintendent, pending review by the Board’s Curriculum and Budget committees;
- A tentative agreement between UESF and the school district was ratified by the Board — for their part, UESF members are in the process of ratifying the agreement by mail-in ballot;
- UESF, UASF, the Association of Black Educators and the Carpenters’ Local 22 announced winners of their annual scholarships — some of the winners even got checks right then and there! (See photo above);
The board also heard a presentation on the district’s plan for the 10 SFUSD schools that landed on the state’s list of the 5 percent of schools in the “persistently underperforming” category. While the staff is still putting the finishing touches on the district’s application for School Improvement Grants (landing on the state’s list makes a district eligible to apply for these grants, also called “SIG”), Deputy Superintendent Carranza told the Board tonight that the Superintendent has decided the following:
- To apply for all 10 schools this year — this has been a tricky decision because the Federal government says that a district can apply for a few schools at a time rather than committing to work on all of its schools in any given year; the state disagrees and says that districts must apply for all schools at once or risk losing out on SIG funding;
- To implement the application over time, so that some of the schools will have a planning year and others won’t;
- To implement the least prescriptive “transformation” model at five (as yet unnamed schools), and the more prescriptive “turnaround” model at four schools (also unnamed until the application is finalized). Both models require replacing a principal who has been at the school longer than two years, and the “turnaround” model also calls for replacing 50 percent of the staff at the school. One school will be closed temporarily, and rebuilt from the ground up.
This decision is probably the best we could have done considering the carrot — potentially millions in extra funding — the state is dangling for participating in the SIG program. There’s also a big stick, since state law requires us to eventually apply one of four intervention models to every school that lands on the persistently underperforming list — whether we ask for the money or not. Still, the turnaround model is going to hurt: it means displacing half the staff at four schools.