Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New calendars raise new questions

Board members voiced enthusiasm for the year-round calendars they approved Tuesday for four Project LIFT schools,  but they also had questions about some of the details.

For instance:  Faculty at Druid Hills and Thomasboro will have their students for 19 extra days next year.  They'll get an extra month's pay,  spread out over 12 months instead of the standard 10.  Meanwhile,  those at Bruns and Byers will work the same number of days as other Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers but have their breaks redistributed to shorten the summer vacation.  Their pay will also be spread over 12 months.

As a Bruns teacher noted at Tuesday's public hearing,  that means they'll have smaller monthly paychecks and less opportunity for summer work to boost their income.

Superintendent Heath Morrison said CMS will work with teachers who have problems to try to place them in the five LIFT schools sticking with the traditional calendar for  2013-14.

LIFT Zone Superintendent Denise Watts said teachers at Bruns and Byers will have a chance to work for extra pay during  "intersessions,"  or breaks.  She said principals are especially interested in getting strong teachers to work with students during the three-week spring break,  which falls closest to end-of-grade exams.  But Watts said there are concerns that teachers working through those breaks will burn out without time off.

Board member Tom Tate asked about options for families who aren't happy with having their students report to class in July,  five weeks before the rest of the district starts the 2013-14 school year.  CMS is taking magnet applications through Feb. 11.  Watts said officials are still discussing whether there will be any additional options for those who want out and don't get seats in the magnet lottery.

Board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart asked about absenteeism.  If students don't take the summer schedule seriously,  the benefits would be eroded.  Watts said her staff will be working constantly to make sure students and their families understand that the new July starting days are just as real as the Aug. 26 opening is for everyone else.

Bottom line:  A change like this is complicated.  But the Project LIFT donors are betting a little over $2 million a year that the challenge will pay off for about 2,700 kids who need an extra boost.  And board members say they're eager to see that bet pay off.


Anonymous said...

Another example of "we have to pass it, so we can find out what is in it" debacle.

"Board members voiced enthusiasm" yet had questions about the details.

Then why did you approve it before you got answers to the deatails?


Watts pushed for the extra time but said "there are concerns that teachers working through those breaks will burn out without time off".

Then why didn't you address that issue before going through this process we all know won't make a bit of difference?


Tate and Watts are concerned some parents won't like the new schedule and are looking at options for them.

Really? That's just plain stupidity.


Stewart worries about students not taking the summer session seriously and absenteeism. Really?

You can't make this stuff up!


So why in the hell did you BOE members vote for this mess?


Anonymous said...

I think year round school is a good idea for all students.

Texas girl said...

8:01 You're right. Pass it and implement it to find out what it is and how it will work. Kindof like the new BYOT initiative, not planned out well but CMS is trying to become a national leader of tech in the classroom (learning laboratories??) and now administrators and teachers are dealing with the realities and unplanned negatives in the classrooms. Another poorly thought out CMS initiative.

BolynMcClung said...


….last January L.I.F.T made its presentation to the Board.

My opinion at the time was that the Board signed the contract because everything else CMS had tried since 1974 had either failed or not survived the Unitary decision. Will L.I.F.T break the trend?

During the January 2012 presentation the foundation said that part of the budget was for the lobbying effort in Raleigh. Lobbying was presented as absolutely necessary and most unlikely to be successful in the first year; but hopefully soon afterwards.

As District 1 Board member Rhonda Lennon pointed-out at the Board meeting at Druid Hills Tuesday night, Raleigh came-through for the leadership and CMS in the first year.

So L.I.F.T has one success: but not yet one in the August to June classes.

At this Tuesday's Board meeting the nine members were much more upbeat than last year, though the vote to approve the calendars wasn't a very serious one. They would have looked foolish turning down Raleigh's offer. Let's call it a show or maybe it was just a anniversary celebration.

It needs to be noted that aside from the year-round school calendar, not much as has been reported to the public. Well, there were the good BELL summer tests for 1700 out of the 8,000 L.I.F.T. That was a little tainted when one of the supporting organizations attempted to say its summer program virtually eliminated the achievement gap.

All the adults are on the same L.I.F.T page. Are the students?

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

According to the story, all of the adults are not on the same LIFT page.

Watts said her staff will be working constantly to make sure students and their families understand that the new July starting days are just as real as the Aug. 26 opening is for everyone else.

Missouri said...

10:09, as you point out, getting eveyone on the page with this "new normal" is going to take a ton of manpower from the staff of these schools.

If you also read in the 5th paragraph, now they've got to get the teachers to do extra duty during one of these 3 week breaks just before the EOG's to be sure the students have nto lost anything. Hello! How about scheduling these breaks with that in mind and not have to demand that of the teachers. I hope these LIFT bonuses for these teachers are going to be worth it. Talk about abusing a workforce.

Lastly, the comment about extra time at school is only half right. The reason this has any chance of success is because these kids will be in their homes less. This however is still no where near what the HAZ kids do.

Well this is lastly, I hope too that CMS has a little mercy on these teachers and tries to work out a way to give them a relief assignment if they wish to leave a LIFT school. They still have gained a lot of experience and knowledge and CMS does not to be stupid and make them leave the system.

Anonymous said...

As Bolyn pointed out, these failed schools keep failing no matter what is done. There should be a finite number of years that the school administrators have to turn around the schools. If they continue to fail, there should be consequences. Either close them or convert the schools to charters. The kids and taxpayers deserve better than what they're getting.

Instead the schools will probably just continue to fail and get restructured, with no negative consequences for anyone involved except the children and the taxpayers.

BolynMcClung said...

TO: ANON 10:51a


There is a former School Board chair who believes our school systems have a built-in bias against staying the course.

The person isn't speaking of time. The concern is effort.

One of the surprising angles of Tuesday night's L.I.F.T presentation was Ms Watts' preparedness and her ability to communicate that. It was more like a military exercise than an educational experiment.

It's good to see that structure. While some may see this as something that is happening "Over there," they should watch more closely. The model she's building could work anywhere.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...

The model will fail because there isn't enough money to implement it on a global scale.

Just out of curiosity, how did Windsor Park succeed without all this feel good crap, longer school year and $55 million?

Anonymous said...

Great so Project LIFT is providing daycare for their "prized students". With no data or review you give a failed employee Ms. Watts access to the students. Wonderful and it passed 9-0 by board. Watts clearly has no idea what she is doing.

BolynMcClung said...


Subject: Windsor Park

A most unsophisticated question.

L.I.F.T is a case of supply chain management. Windsor Park exists in isolation.

If you believe Windsor Park can be replicated then take it to isolated Reid Park. But I don't see any similarities between a single elementary school and a zone that is as large as many, many North Carolina school districts.

What I find interesting with L.I.F.T is that the two groups that want to split from CMS should be watching this like a hawk. Now! Not later when all the development stuff is unavailable to them…..unless they hired Ms. Watts………wouldn't that be something. If those two groups are successful, they'll be using the L.I.F.T model….whether it succeeds or not.

Bolyn McClung

Missouri said...

Bolyn, the other two "splits" you refer have a much different case. They are a case of strangled and diminshing funding from CMS and shown decrease in scores.

Anonymous said...

So Boyln, you are not opposed to the two split groups going out and fund raising to pay a lobbyist to the legislature?

Wiley Coyote said...


LIFT has nothing to do with supply chain and you know it. Supply chain would apply to each school in the test pool, which it doesn't.

Furthermore, Windsor Park - is what it is - just like Mallard Creek when they were bucking the downward trends.

If Windsor Park and Mallard Creek can be successful, so can these other schools and it won't take one extra dime to do it.

LIFT will never be replicated because there aren't enough funds to do it. We don't even know how successful this project will be. We know it will "succeed", but the definition and bar of success will be determined by those who have a stake in it TO succeed.

I have never claimed to be sophisticated, but I do have a brain and common sense, something sorely lacking with some of the 350 hand selected gurus assigned to fix a 40+ year old problem using the same driving principles under the same status quo microscope.

BolynMcClung said...

TO: 12:13 and 12:15

I only mention that the formation of L.I.F.T has been structurally sound. It has a combination of recognition of need, a set of founders, cash, a flexible time schedule, a talent pool, a set of goals and a "if this then else" approach that can be put on paper.

I'm opposed to a split in CMS.

I find it hard to believe anyone would want to go to schools run by the current "splitter" leaders.
Also, I see that a split will lead to cross district line busing, or if not busing, then sharing of resources.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

Boyln, these splitter leaders at least know enough about when to get out of the way. That is far better than an ivory tower manipulated by the "urban gang".

Anonymous said...

Bolyn , I think a teacher spoke last night against the long year that was approved. If I were implementing this type of unproven project I would at least have them on board. After all they are the ones that would help make this work correct? Keith W. Hurley

BolynMcClung said...

TO: Keith

Subject: Teacher with Summer employment conflict that spoke at Druid Hills

I was at the meeting.

The issue the teacher presented was a fair but very old one that the General Assembly has protected forever: school calendars must not conflict with summer industry. Now it will and with the blessing of Raleigh.

Neither L.I.F.T nor CMS has any more of a responsibility to the teachers than a private company that changes its hours. I'm guessing an argument can be made that CMS is doing better than private industry; it's providing a long notice.

My impressions on this issue from the meeting was that Denise Watts told the board on several other issues that she didn't have complete answer because everything depended on the board vote. I think the teacher's employment falls in that range.

But here's something to consider. In December Dr. Morrison gave his four top issues for 2013. Human Capital was one. All of the manpower adjustments in L.I.F.T will be a good test of that.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

Heath "Door to Door" Morrison is following the BROAD playbook.

Way to spend over $100,000 on another useless survey of skewed questions and run around data. It only shows that you are just buying time.

You should have been fired with 100 days of no measureable results.

Anonymous said...

WILEY! You're back!

Devil is in the details aside, year round schools make far more sense to me than a lot of other cockamamie ideas pubic education experts have come up with.

From yesterday...

Cultural Competency:

There isn't ONE student of color in my "professional sequence" classes to become a licensed NC K-6 classroom teacher. With the exception of one white male, the students in my classes are all young undergraduates in their 20's (I'm a post-grad Adult Degree Program student). Most students in my classes are female - white females. It's 2013. What's going on? I'm living and breathing America's future teaching force. Again, what's going on? Why isn't there a task-force devoted to exploring this dilemma? Or, perhaps, this isn't a dilemma? I don't know? Cultural Competency.


Anonymous said...

The BOE and CMS cant pay for the Teachers and TFA's they have now!

How would they ever be able to pay for year round. Oh,take away the few benefits they still give. Try to recruit and retain the best and brightest then. You cant do it NOW.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect. I don't need one more Cultural Competency class, Diversity in Education course, Understanding and Awareness workshop, I'm OK /You're OK seminar, or round-table in-service pow-wow about the differentiated learning styles of Hmong and Amish people.

What I DO need are the skills necessary to effectively teach FUNDAMENTAL science, reading, language arts and math to the broad spectrum of children who are proudly American.

Thank you,
Alicia Durand

Anonymous said...

Cultural Competency. It's called ART.

ART for Cultural Competency.

Anonymous said...

Bolyn - Yes I saw you at the meeting.
My thoughts- I have yet to see a "program" the LIFT is going to or has set in motion that does not have major holes in it.
To state or sell to the board on a 9-0 vote that teachers will accept the year long schedule after one stepped up and said its a issue is obsurd.
It does not surprise me the Ms. Watts never has a answer nor does she answer a question regarding LIFT without back peddling. My issue with LIFT is that nothing is measured or proven with a national link. It seems to be a excuse mentality and very poorly run.
Proven by the whole crowd supporting LIFT getting up and disrupting the board once they hard what they wanted. Similar to Kojo and crew during the school closing meetings very poor taste and unprofessional. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

"Roseboro says she decided to focus her mentoring program on Myers Park precisely because the school doesn't get the government and community support that higher-poverty schools do. She's holding a "lunch and learn" session at the school on Tuesday, Jan. 29, for people willing to commit to spending at least six hours a month providing support and career guidance to students."

Bingo. Some schools actually have a larger number of high poverty students but a lower school percentage overall. For example, a smaller school with an 80% FRL population could have fewer low-income students than a larger school with a 50% FRL population. And as Myers Park demonstrates, having a lower overall FRL population doesn't equate to higher test scores for low-income students. Low income students at schools like Myers Park don't receive all the extra resources that low income students do at schools with higher overall poverty rates.

Jeff, I think you comment is interesting. Penguins in a rainforest.

On the subject of career guidance; I hosted a CMS homeless student last year. I think CMS does a horrible job preparing students for the college admissions process which needs to kick into full gear during a student's Junior year. This includes financial planning, creating a resume, college visits, essay writing, ACT/SAT prep, guidance in selecting schools that match a student's interest and aptitude, scholarship opportunities, and so on. In my opinion, CMS guidance departments are woefully understaffed to meet the full range of needs of students headed to college. It's not that CMS doesn't care or doesn't have the expertise to help students. It's an understaffing issue. I feel sorry for students who don't have parents to help them through this process. I think there is a great need for community mentoring in this area. Any parent who has survived (and I mean survived) the college admissions process understands the need for adult guidance and support. It's not just support through the college admissions process it's support after the process as well. The CMS student that I hosted successfully completed his first semester of college only to drop out the second semester due to an inability to pay his tuition - which I knew was going to happen. The kid is working 3 jobs but he still can't afford to pay his tuition and the college he was attending simple doesn't have the endowment necessary to provide him additional funding.