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Informal Discussion – Nov 19, 2018

November 20, 2018

I ran into retired PE teacher Claudia Wilde at the library (she volunteers with the “Friends of the Library” group) and she was interested in giving me background on physical education and the gradual change to K-8 schools (versus elementary and middle schools) in the district. We also talked about the sometimes disagreement between music and PE programs (a current issue) and the changes before and after the great recession of 2008. (I was chagrined to hear: she referred to one of her early teaching assignments in 1974 – that was when I was a freshman at Fairfield High School!)

(Here’s a link to a photo of Claudia in the Daily Republic.)

I said my ideal would be to get a dedicated revenue stream to fund supply and support needs in the extra-curricular programs (art, PE/athletics, music, others?) so that there wouldn’t be an eternal tussle between priorities in the general fund (the main operating budget).

I would also like a mechanism to measure student engagement and motivation as a result of participating in the extra-curricular areas, then we could adjust the funding in each to match the results as they are manifest in student lives. We systematically measure academic results, but I’d like to measure extra-curriculars as a magnifer/multiplier, to see how much they increase student commitment and achievement in the academic areas (reading, writing narrative reports, history, math & real-world problem-solving).

She said that to best understand the dynamics behind historical changes in the district (school boundaries, closures & realignments, the differences between each side of the freeway, “equity”), one would need to talk to the old-timers in the district, who have watched things unfold over several generations. There are still pockets of deep knowledge in various places and departments, she said.

She also mentioned the perceptions of real estate agents and home buyers, which may not be fully reflective of facts on the ground, but constitute a reality of their own which we need to factor into our efforts to balance and allocate. She gave me a few specific examples, which were new to me. I’ll be watching to become aware of currents of public opinion relating to specific schools, so that if they are inaccurate, we can change them. (If the perceptions are accurate, we’ll just deal with them as we do.)

I hope we, as a school district, are able to find a way to hear from the pockets of wisdom as we participate in inevitable further changes. I’ll be looking for ways to connect those who are most motivated (energetic, interested, free time or wide influence) with those most knowledgeable. Ideally I’d host periodic community forums on long-term issues such as these, and help shift public attention from hot-button current topics to long-range solutions that build a community identity and reflect broad values.

That’s what I envision as a proper role for a school board member.

#informal #longrangeissues

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