The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Plainfield school daze

I don't know what time (or even whether) Plainfield's Board of Education got through the 117-page agenda for Tuesday evening's business meeting, but they did it without me and a bunch of other people who got tired of waiting for the meeting to start.

There were several items of interest in the mind-numbing agenda, and one interesting tidbit
that surfaced from the parallel universe of school reality you never learn from the smiley-face website or public BOE meetings.

Noted in Tuesday's agenda were the following --

Workforce Investment Board Grant (page 78)
The District is accepting a grant in the amount of $30,000 to provide summer work and an after-school program for twenty (20) students for the 2013-2014 school year.

Get this: The summer work component of the program will run from August 22 to August 30. And then the program will continue as an after-school program through November 22.

First of all, 20 students? And secondly a 'summer' program that begins the week before the end of summer vacation? What's wrong with this picture?
The Polonsky Brothers Foundation (page 93)
On a brighter note, the District proposes to accept an in-school program of assistance by the Foundation for 50 talented high school students to receive counseling, skills courses and workshops, mentoring and motivational programs to prepare for HSPA and SAT tests and prepare for successful college careers. The program includes social skills development and workshops for parents. All of this at no cost to the District.
Teachscape Inc. Teacher Evaluation Video Enhancements (Page 100)
This proposal is for purchasing a video capture system to be used by administrators to evaluate teachers.

Though it has the creepy air of dashboard cop cruiser video cams we are familiar with from reality TV shows, it is being presented as a tool for 'professional development'. Evidently this is part of the new world of 'teacher evaluation' (whatever happened to the days of an administrator actually sitting in on a class?).

You will be happy to learn that the kit (tripod, microphone, wide angle lens, iPod Touch 4, and carrying case) will cost a mere $44,910. Face to Face video training is an additional $2,850.
Plainfield Neighborhood Health Services Agreement (page 115)
There is an agreement proposed to contract with Neighborhood Health Services (alias the Plainfield Health Center) to provide medical exams/school physician services, including athletic physicals, visits for illness, general physical exams and obesity prevention education. The monthly $8,949.41 tab rings up at total of more than $107,000 for the year.
The tidbit that you won't find in any agenda or on the website?

Word has it that ten teachers from Stillman School resigned to take other jobs over the summer and the district had to scurry for replacements. Stillman is one of the smaller elementary schools and sits hemmed in on its block-square location at West 4th Street between Arlington and Madison Avenues.

The school is one of two Plainfield public school facilities under direct monitoring by the State (the other is Hubbard Middle School). The two were among six Plainfield schools highlighted in April 2012 as in need of improvement (see my post at that time here).

Scuttlebutt has it that the issue at Stillman School is the high rate of student transiency. It seems to me that is an issue that is beyond a school district's competency, but it certainly will be reflected in a school's performance on state-mandated tests when the student population is not stable and hence results cannot show improvement as would be more likely expected when there is a steady cohort moving through the system.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

What do you mean by transiency? Children are transient? Please provide an explanation as to what is going on at this Elementary Scholl.

Anonymous said...

We have to clear out the dead wood on the Board of Education, and the election in November is where we have to start!

Anonymous said...

Dan,why has the school district not informed the parents about the mold problem over at Paaas ? There were numerous rooms that have been affected this summer is it safe?