Transcript of Franklin Magnet PTA January General Meeting 1/11/12
Q&A with GUSD Superintendant Dr. Richard Sheehan (Dr. S), Deputy Superintendant Dr. John Garcia (Dr. G) and School Board Member Mr. Greg Krikorian (GK) with Principal Mrs. Vickie Atikian (VA) and German Consulate Rep Frank Duscha (FD) adding comments.
PTA President Jennifer Freemon (JF) presiding and moderating.
Meeting started with a truncated PTA meeting with Board Reports and note by Jennifer of PTA Board positions that are open – not transcribed.
JF: “At this point in the program I will turn it over to Dr. Richard Sheehan.”
(Dr. Sheehan makes announcement that there has been an agreement made with GTA and that furlough days for this year have been dropped)
Dr. S: “Tonight I would like to introduce a few people. When Mr. Krikorian gets here; we were doubled booked tonight, the Armenian National Committee is doing their Christmas event, so we started there, so Mr. Krikorian will be coming over (later) and then I will let him say a few words. Mr. Krikorian will be speaking on behalf of the Board. What you may not realize is each of the 5 Board members were assigned out to different schools. Mr. Krikorian is the Board Representative and liaison for Franklin. With me I have our Deputy Superintendant Dr. John Garcia, our Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Dr. Kathy Fundukian Thorossian, Dr. Maria Gandera, she will be one of the Co-Chairmen for the Task Force. She’s former Principal at Franklin, she is currently our Executive Director of Human Resources, she’s one of our Credentialing experts and then also we have Dr. Kelly King. Dr. Kelly King oversees a ton of programs but she will also be co-chairing the Task Force with Dr. Gandera. Kelly is a former Principal at Edison, so was a Principal in the Magnet Program. She helped write the initial Magnet Grant application and then, Vickie have you been introduced? I got here late, so… Vickie Atikian-Aviles, our Principal, and then quite a few staff members.” (applause for Vickie)
“So, obviously we were here before Christmas addressing specifically the issue with the German uh (program), and so, we did speak to that at that time, it’s my understanding that there were a lot of questions in regards to all the programs so, I realize there are a lot of questions, so I’m only going to give some brief statements as far as timelines, other pertinent information, which will allow more time for questions. I will be honest, we are looking to wrap up the questions and answers hopefully by 8:00. And once again, afterwards, if your question isn’t answered, or you have an additional question, we will be available afterwards. Individually we are available via e-mail at the District office as well. Just so you know, one mistake constantly with my e-mail, I go by Richard Sheehan, informally I go by Dick Sheehan, my e-mail is dsheehan@GUSD.net, and so I know some people have tried to reach me at rsheehan and I don’t get it.
So, at the December meeting, we talked about creating a Task Force. And so we’re going to put together a Task Force. We have applications here tonight, for those that are interested in participating in the Task Force, we are going to ask that you fill out an application. It’s not a long draw out application. But we are going to be getting representation from all the languages at Franklin. And so, going forward we see this as a Franklin issue, and we’ve talked about not trying to divide the languages, we talked a little bit about that in December, and so we’ll have equal representation, including the English Only portion of the campus that’s still here. And so each of the groups will have 2 parent representatives on the Task Force, and then there will be 8 District Representatives, and I mentioned that Dr. Maria Gendera and Dr. (Kelly) King will be heading it up. Mr. (Greg) Krikorian will be the Board Liaison, and so he’ll be coming and going from the group, Jennifer Slabbinck, who oversees the Magnet Grant, will also be on the Committee as well as Vickie (Atikian) and Ana (Jones).
Our time frame on that is we’re going to ask for applications to be turned in by the 24th, of January. (ed note: actual application has deadline as Jan 25th) That will give us a week to formulate the Task Force and then we will meet throughout February and March, and after the meetings, they’ll be given specifics Tasks on teacher credentialing, teacher recruitment and so we’ll talk about that. We will talk about the space here at Franklin and so there are obviously space limitations, um, we’ve received several e-mails (that) one of the points in the Magnet grant is that it talks about Franklin having a capacity of 980. Keeping in mind, that’s if we go to a multi-track year-round (calendar), ok, so that’s one, now keeping in mind that there have been a lot of ideas thrown around and this is stuff that will be discussed by the Task Force in greater detail. And I’m going to interrupt my time-line very quickly so Mr. Krikorian can give his welcome. So we have our Board member, Mr. Krikorian.”
GK: “Thank you Dr. Sheehan. Welcome back to everyone to school, I mean I hope everyone had a great winter break I know a lot of us had a long break with our kids and just getting back to school was a very interesting feat. I had to set 2 alarm clocks for my kids and 2 for myself and I knew it still didn’t fail at 7:35 we’re all rushing trying to get the kids in and do the swoop to go to Hoover High School and then go to Balboa Elementary and make it in time, but at the end of the day I’m glad to see all of you here again. As I said before, some of my responsibilities I have, aside from serving on the Board, I’m assigned to 8 schools. I’m assigned to Daily High School, Franklin Elementary School, Valley View Elementary School and La Crescenta Elementary School. I actually went to La Crescenta Elementary School, and one of the challenges they had was that with the whole windstorms they lost their power for awhile, and they’re one of the few schools that had no power for awhile, so the students actually had to go through some tough times. So, I want you guys, today, as we sit here today I want you to realize too that as I said before we almost have 27,000 students in our school district that we keep an eye on and try to go through with. And today we’re here to be here for you guys, to answer your questions, as Dr. Sheehan broached the subject of the Task Force that’s going to be forming, which will help us in a lot of ways. You know, I’ve reflected on some of the discussions we had several weeks ago, we had the meeting where we talked about specifically the German program, other programs we have, I recalled back I think it was 6 or 7 years ago, I was serving on the Board of Education. We had an ROTC program, Air Force ROTC program, at Crescenta Valley High School. And its’ program was running down in numbers. And what was happening was some of the kids from the other schools, like Glendale High and Hoover High, they were doing applications and getting their programs so they could attend CV High School. So they could stay in the program. Well what was happening was, those numbers started dropping, in the Crescenta Valley Air Force Academy that we had built there. We had that program for many years. And eventually it started getting to a point where we couldn’t run that program anymore because there weren’t enough students enrolling in the ROTC Program. And these are things we’re talking about now about devolving triggers, and things that would give us a warning sign, for these programs we’re going to have. And anything happens, the key things is here is to remember, we’re all in this together, to do the best possible job for all of our kids, with the means that we have, and the most important thing that we could do is this, right now, as a form, a means of communication. I know everyone has their e-mail rights, to send us e-mails (chuckle from audience) they like to send us e-mails. And I just have to attest as one board member I know that we have 5 Board members, it’s hard for us to respond individually to each one of them, because if each board member, we have a unified voice with the President of Board of Education, Joylene Wagner, and I know Dr. Sheehan will send responses back. Individual questions, I read them all, some were long and some were short, and we got the point and it is as I said before the first time we met, it’s like “Horton Hears a Who”, we hear that there are situations that we need to address here at this school, and there’s a lot of commitment from parents in this school, as we have parent committed in all of our school sites. Each one’s unique. I went to one school, La Crescenta Elementary as I told you, every parent has different concerns and different needs. And that’s why we’re here today, and hopefully today we’ll be able to address most of the questions and if we can’t, we’ll get back to you at a later time. Thank you.” (applause)
Dr. S: “So as I was saying the Task Force will look at specific issues that were identified in December and then what we will do, is we talked a little about communication, the line of communication, we will do a, probably in April, because we’re going to run the Task Force for February and March, the first (School) Board meeting in April we will do a discussion item on the findings of the Task Force and then we will do a parent meeting either the Wednesday or Thursday right after. So we will coordinate with Vickie and make sure that we come out and report out transparently we’ll have the Task Force report out on the findings and then following that we’re going to have a Board Study Session, and basically a Board Study Session is a period of time devoted to one topic. And so that one topic will be the Dual Immersion and out of this study session we will look at creating a District-wide Task Force on the Dual Immersion and as I discussed before that will look at Dual Immersions going into the middle schools, growth of Dual Immersion, it will also come up with potentially some of the triggers of when things aren’t going well and how we do it and when we evaluate but I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
And so, the one thing I will tell you is that we’re committed to all the Dual Immersion Programs. And we did hear you loud and clear in December. And here’s the fine line. In December, we heard you, and now you have to have trust in us to do our job. And I understand we have to re-establish some of that trust, but you have to let our processes run through. And there will checks along the way, we’re not going to do it in secrecy, we’ll keep the lines of communication (open), we’ll make sure that the Task Force is reporting out from time to time, but you have to trust in us. We’re going to do the best job we can with all the information that we get.
One other issue I wanted to bring up Dr. Garcia. Dr. Garcia is over at Educational Services, but prior to that he was the Assistant Superintendent of HR, so he knows the credentialing issues, plus he went to USC with a couple of people. I’m going to let you address.”
Dr. G: “Thank you Dr. Sheehan. Yes, so yesterday, and actually part of it was prompting from Gillian, which I truly, truly appreciate, and then connected with the Spanish Embassy. And we were able to go to a seminar at USC yesterday sponsored by the attaché for the local Embassy, so it was absolutely fantastic. We were not able to make it last year, but Dr. Gandera and I were able to be there yesterday, and I know Gillian was there and Ana was there was as well just doing the research. The program that the Spanish Government has put together in regard to teacher recruitment, and it’s not even recruitment it’s really teacher exchange, where they have facilitated everything with the State Department, the California Dept of Education all we have to do, go to Spain, chose a teacher and agree to hire that person. If that doesn’t make it completely, completely doable I don’t know what does (laughter) and Dr. Gandera shot her hand up immediately to go to Spain and you can see her raising her hand now, because yeah, she hasn’t put her hand down since yesterday, but we send at least one representative and depending on how many teachers we’re looking at District-wide maybe 2 or 3 to Spain to interview teachers who are Native speakers and proficient in English who will come here and be instructors. So, it’s very promising for the Spanish Program. We have Spanish Program here at Franklin, Spanish at Muir, Spanish at Edison, and so that we were very excited. In addition to that, Dr. Gandera and I were talking about and Gillian and Ana as well is they can supply us with teachers in the content areas, which really helps us with our Middle School and eventually our High School issues. Because, the challenges are, as of course the students get older, the level of proficiency needed to teach a content area is really, really rigorous, and really to have a Native speaker is preferable. So that really gave us some hope.
The other thing that we out yesterday that is available that we found out from speaking with Etta, from the California Department of Education is, that the Italian Government is dying to place teachers in our schools. And so she has contacts with people up in San Francisco who represent the Western region and that we can connect with who will help facilitate that as well. Now, they don’t have the same depth at this point that the Spanish Embassy does but there are contacts. In addition to that the French are dying to place teachers in our schools. And so she has contacts with the French community. So, of course, where did we go next? “What do you have from the German Government?” And at this point there really isn’t a formalized program in place but she said she is very open to that and that is something we obviously want to continue pursuing. We don’t know how long it will take and we’re hopeful that those in the German Consulate here in Los Angeles…(audience points out a rep is in audience) I see him… Can actually help us with that. But again, the articulation, what’s most powerful for us, is that it’s with the California Department of Education because they work directly with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and they facilitate all the credentialing, which has always been our challenge when we’re talking about bringing Foreign National into the United States, it’s the State Department, it’s the Federal Bureaucracy, but in addition to that it’s how do we get that person credentialed in the State of California? Because they have to go under our credentialing laws and those are incredibly, incredibly rigorous and not friendly to people out of state much less foreign nationals. So, this really gave us a nice opportunity to see what a model program looks like and how we can get some direction and go from there. So again, Dr. Gandera and I are very hopeful with that as well.”
German Consulate Frank Duscha: “Can I say something?”
Dr. G: “Certainly, by all means.” (applause)
FD: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I represent the German Government here and I’m the language advisor or consultant from Germany and I will be supportive as well in finding proper staff for this school. So we have to find some means in order to find somebody, for example by posting advertisements on a very frequently looked after home page in Germany so we can find better, not just here other than the States, I have four more colleagues here in the States and quite some teachers are looking for jobs at the West coast as well and we’ve worked together with (unintelligible acronym) and those organizations that help to facilitate the program, eh, the credentialing process here so I think I would be happy to be in the Task Force in order to support the German Program here in Glendale. I’m based here in Los Angeles so I’ve been here a couple of times already last year when Stephen Williams was the Principal and this year when Vickie Atikian took over and we support the school as well with some finances as you far as you know (as you know) so each year usually we present a check to the school and we hope the German Program can continue here because we think it’s very important to have one program here, more on the East of Los Angeles because as far as you know (as you know) we have a very successful on the west, in Mar Vista close to the airport so that’s it.” (applause)
Dr. G: “Thank you, Frank. So as we continue to move forward we’ll continue with communication with Etta, from the Department of Education. Dr. Gandera and she are going to exchange information and be in constant contact as how we facilitate these things and what we as a District can do and how we can ask for help from our community as well. Thanks Dr. Sheehan.“ (applause)
Dr S: “At this time we’re going to turn it over for questions and answers.”
JF: “Yes, for those of you who were here in November, we’re going to pretty much that same process. We do have some norms, which are hard to see so I’ll just review them. We’re going to first go through all the written questions, so thank you for all those that wrote questions. We still have our Board members walking around, so now that you’ve heard some information if you have more questions please feel free to write them. We will continue to walk around and collect them all evening long. We grouped the questions by topic so we’re going to go through topic by topic then we’ll open up the floor for follow-up questions if need be. As with anything, any of our PTA meetings or really anything here, we are operating with mutual respect and polite behavior, which is something we’ve kind of said over and over again. Are you ready?”
Dr. S: “I’m ready” (laughter)
Dr. S: “Or, we’re ready, I’ll say.”
JF: “Yes, ok, what I’m going to do I’ll think we’re start with the Task Force questions and then whomever is the best suited to answer go ahead. There are more specific questions and again, if you’ve already answered them, just remind us, because some of us, like me, didn’t listen as closely as they should have (laughter). Questions are: the Task Force; the structure, just setting it up; so we have the five languages, so does that need to be District appointed? There are some questions as to (whether) that can be a school site decision? (To) Have the parents decide who is going to represent their (own) languages? Can we have your thoughts on that?”
Dr. S: At this point, we have set it up for, well, there are time constraints I’ll start with that, the meetings are going to generally be from 3:30 to 5:30, so one of the criteria is that you have to be able to make those meeting times. When we do the selection we will be selection, we will be consulting with the Site personnel. To be honest, we hadn’t given that specific a thought as to whether or not, if a collection of parents wants to let us know that this one person is representing a large portion of us, we would be open to that. And like I said we want you to be represented by who you want to be represented by, but at the same time, we want it to be fair and equitable to everybody. And that is why we have equal representation from all the different languages.”
GK: “Just to add to that too, we have many Task Forces from our district and traditionally what we have done is we’ve given all the parents a opportunity to apply for it. Openly. Anyone, any parent. Like we just had our Measure S Task Force and we had applications from all over Glendale and La Crescenta. This case, we’re not looking where a parent lives, so we’re going to be open-minded about if a parent lives outside the boundaries of GUSD, they can apply for this Task Force. It doesn’t behoove you from not applying. So this is all open and when the names come in, we’ll be able to decipher and balance it how we set up the Task Force. Right? (To Dr. S)”
Dr. S: “Yes, and one thing I want to point out is it has to be a manageable size. Keep in mind, if you get a Task Force that is too large, you go nowhere. So our goal is to bring back some concrete information and recommendations. And I do want to clarify that, this is an advisory group who will give their voice ultimately to me and then I make recommendations to the Board of Education. This is not a binding group. And I want to be very clear about that, ok? But at the same time, obviously we’re here and we care about what you have to say.”
JF: “Ok I want to wrap up the Task Force questions. Is there a specific criteria the District is looking from parents aside from language distribution? Can teachers be on the Task Force? And will there be a second Task specifically for each language since some of those issues will be distinct in each of those languages?
Dr G: “We have the applications right here. And the plan is to put them out afterward. We have in English and Spanish and then they will go the (GUSD) website and the Thursday folders. The criteria, the bottom line is teachers will be asked to be part of the advisory committee as the staff, so there will be 10 parents positions and then 8 staff members supporting it. Dr. Gandera and Dr. King will co-facilitate and then talked about Ms. Slabbinck, Christina Allen, and then Vickie and Ana Jones and there will 2 teachers on the Task Force as well, so they will represent staff. (murmur prompt about criteria and now Dr. G is referencing the application) The questions are very simple; it asks about students enrolled in Franklin. And it basically says very simply explain about your familiarity with Ben Franklin Magnet School and why would you like to be selected for this committee. It’s essay-oriented bottom line. We’re looking for people who have familiarity with the school and who can articulate why it is they want to be on the committee and what they would bring to the committee as a person on it. “
JF: “I do have and I know this is going to come up so we’ll go ahead and address this. There is a specific question with the German Program that since the German Program has been threatened that they feel they should have a distinct German Task Force as well. Your thoughts on that?”
Dr. S: “We see this as a Franklin issue. We’re not, and I talked about this before, obviously the German Program will be discussed within this group and once again you have to let the process go forward, ok, and we’re going to base the discussions of this group around the issues that were brought up at the December meeting.
JF: “At this point that wraps up the Task Force questions and like you said we were going to open it up for just a few follow up questions. Does anybody have a follow up question specifically for the Task Force? Ok?”
Parent: “I have a question: the meetings will be kind of when people are working, so you’re kind of disenfranchising all working and single parents. I could never be on the Task Force, because I work.
Dr. S: “And unfortunately that is what works with the larger community here, because keep in mind we want teachers, we want teacher representation, so they’re working until 3:15 so we also take other things into consideration and that’s why we are making it available to everybody and I understand the time constraints.
Parent cont.: “But you aren’t.”
Dr. S: “Well, ok, but this is not unusual for school meetings to happen during the day and I’m sorry for that. Yes?”
Parent: “You said there were five languages represented? Can you tell us?”
Dr. S: “Sure. We’re doing German, Spanish, Italian, the English and we’re letting the French have representation as well.
Parent: “But that’s not the Franklin community.”
Dr. S: “It’s the Franklin community and we’ve talked about bringing French into the Franklin community.
Parent: “So that’s a forgone conclusion that the school’s just adding?”
Dr. S: “That depends. Once again, something that could come out of this that structurally that we don’t believe that Franklin is large enough, ok? One of the alternatives is that, or recommendations, could be that we move one of the programs to another campus. Ok? Yes, sir?”
Parent: “How do you suppose to find representatives for the (French) program when they’re not actually on site and haven’t been accepted to the school yet?
Dr. S: “We have a couple of contacts and those that are prospective parents are being asked to apply.”
Parent: “Will the district be reaching out all people who have applied thus far?”
Dr. S: “Yes, it’s going to go on the website. It’s going to go out to this community. As you have demonstrated through the German community, it’s a tight community and e-mails fly out and I’m confident that we will be able to reach out to a French contingent. Yes?”
Parent: “How familiar the French people, the French parents can be with this school? They’re not here?“
Dr. S: “And so part of it may be that they just sit and listen. They’re going to be part of the committee. Yes sir?”
Parent: “Can I have clarification on the teacher, what if the parent is a teacher in the District but not a teacher here?”
Dr. S: “Then they would apply as a parent. We’re talking about the two teacher (staff positions) being two Franklin teachers.”
Parent: “How often will the Task Force going to meet?”
Dr S: “We’re still trying to look at that. My guess is that they will meet either once a week or once every two weeks. Because basically, their given 2 month Task is to come back with recommendations.”
Parent: “And that information will be filtered through websites? So that everyone will…?”
Dr. S: “Yes, like I said we will be reporting out we’ll have someone there taking minutes, we’ll post the minutes. And we’ll also have the (School) Board report as well.”
GK: “I just want to add one thing and this is important. What this is, this Task Force is a Task Force to look at, to see the road ahead, to see what’s feasible, the whole community at Franklin itself. When the Task Force is done in two months, just because you’re not on that Committee yourself, you’re not on it, you have a friend on it, doesn’t behoove you from sending an e-mail or suggesting what your opinion should be. Ultimately this report will be coming back to us, the Board of Education. And we may vote in favor of the Task Force recommendation or we may vote for parts of or we may vote against it, we don’t know yet. This whole thing is saying, I don’t want you to leave here thinking, this Task Force isn’t totally going to be making the final decisions. Ultimately we’re going to look at it, we’re going to look at the dollars and cents of it, we’re going to look at the whole thing, not just only the German Program; all the programs at this school. And as Dr. Sheehan said, there’s going to be a second phase that’s going to look at it district wide that’s going to look down the road at the sustainability for the program for future grades, for middle school and high school, what our plans are too and how do we do that and what our plans are.”
JF: “Ok, I’m going to move us, because we can do some more, because we have a lot of questions here; we wanted to address the Task Force questions first, I know, I see, we’re going to have to come back to that, ok? We are going to do the Programmatic type of questions and then we’ll get to the hard structural questions. So the next piece we have is there’s a lot of concern about class size. And so I’m going to combine, I’ll do the best I can to kind of summarize; a lot of concern about 31 kids in Kinder. Especially since that’s going to be bigger than regular District average, and how is that going to look? Very specific questions about how does that English teacher and that pullout work? How is that going to work as they move through, a lot of concern there?”
Dr. S: “Once again this is one of the things that is going to be shared with the Task Force. One of the things; we’ve been looking at this now, we started looking at this with Mr. Williams, we’ve looked at it with Mrs. Atikian, you know? I know it seems like we made a rash decision, but we have been looking at this and so we have been trying to think outside the box and look at different configurations on how do we make this work? Because we realize that Franklin is a very special place. And so our efforts have been trying to make it successful so one of the concepts is to do 31 and so if you think of 24 in the classroom, that’s 4 classrooms, that 96 kids. And so ne of the concepts was to do 3 classrooms of 31 that’s 93 kids but hire 4 teachers for those 93, one of the teachers being an English only teacher who would then work throughout the day in these classes therefore lowering the class size as they work. It’s just one model that we will bring forward to the Task Force. That was just an idea, ok? It was not, and we have to be more careful… the other thing that will be discussed and I’m sure this will be another one, if we go to 4 languages, does that mean we would have to phase out 6th grade? That will be something that we will bring up with the Task Force. Because right now there are a finite amount of classrooms on this campus, ok? The potential to bring in some portables might be there and it might not be there. And we passed Measure S, but keep in mind that we just got through 10 programs that qualified for the Overcrowding Relief Grants (ORG), those will go to the State in July, the applications; we will find out in November if they are approved and then we won’t know until the State sells Bonds as to when it will be funded. And right now the number one school who has already been approved is Keppel and they are 2 to 3 years from seeing constructions. Because once the plans are approved, then you have to work through different layers of the State government to move things forward. And so they’ll be working with a finite size of the layout of the school.”
GK: “I wanted to add something too, about the class size. This afternoon I had the pleasure of being at the Lakeside Country Club. And at the Lakeside Country Club, they had an event for Burbank Unified School District. In their presentation, this goes across the board, Burbank Unified School District K – 3 is 31 to 1, ok? We have a luxury here in Glendale; we’ve been very blessed. Most schools districts, a lot of you, some of you, live in LA, Los Angeles proper, those city or those boundaries. They don’t have the luxury we have here in Glendale or La Crescenta schools. We’ve been blessed to be able to maintain these numbers. Yes I know in the Dual Immersion program we have some flexibility, which we need. But leaving here today and see what’s going on in other districts outside of Glendale, we’re very blessed with what we have. I know it’s not great numbers and we’d, we’d love to have 20 to 1 or 22 to 1. But obviously, you all know as I know, the economy isn’t there, the State’s in financial crisis, and for us to look at this we have to, that’s why this Task Force is here, we’re looking at all the languages, and all the programs. And as we care about the Italian program, I care just as much as (about) the German Program but just as much as I care about the Hoover High School Football program, just as much as I care about the GATE Program, the gifted program, just as much as I care about the Special Disabled program, for our disabled children. So I look at it as a selfish sense for all of our kids. I know some of us have specific program that we’re really advocating for. I know some of us are fighting for the Italian program or the German program. But I know it comes a point that for me to look at it for the greater good of all of our kids, 31 to 1 is the least of my, our, worries, if we can do something with a teacher that shares some of the class size, that would help alleviate some of these things too.”
JF: “Well just, and you guys can tell me if I’m totally off on this (gesturing to audience), I know some of that concern is, Dual Immersion is a little different. I know it would be nice if some of our classes were smaller than the average, I know that’s not, across the board, that’s not necessarily fair, but to ask them to be larger, is a tough pill to swallow.”
GK: “I understand.”
JF: “And I guess along those, there’s a couple more, it’s the details, and I know you don’t have a lot of them finalized, but I want to get these out here, especially as I’m guessing the people in this room will probably end up being on the Task Force, so there are some future concerns about class size and what the Spanish specifically, we’re at two classes so 48 kids, you’re now cutting capacity there, what does that do for siblings, what does that do for overall for the capacity of the program? And is there some research behind the pull out program of the English to support that that is educationally sound?”
Dr. G: “So…”
JF: “That was a lot of questions I know.” (laughter)
Dr. G: “Hold on, let me process it. Ok, so in regards to Spanish we’re looking at one class. As far as our records indicate right now, and Jennifer (Slabbinck) correct me if I’m wrong, we have enough room for siblings for next year. We have less than 24 siblings at this time for the Spanish program. From that perspective the way we do our Magnet process, siblings always get preference, so that’s a good thing. Looks like maybe students who are not siblings who want to come into the Magnet program at Franklin that may be a challenge. That’s where we are with the applicants. (Dr. S interjects we have two other elementary schools in GUSD offering Spanish) Now part of that process is that Edison has a program and Muir has a program. I know the big concern here would be siblings, and as far as what we’ve been able to track we have less than 24, which means we would be able to accommodate the siblings in our process in one class.”
JF: “And then, just the educational soundness of the pull-out. Of the research?”
Dr. G: “The ‘pull-out’ meaning the 31 and the English?”
Dr. G: “And, again, as far as we know, Vickie has a model, the pull out is for the English only program, so the Native Language is maintained by that process, and I don’t know the specifics of the schedule, so I can’t explain that portion, but again, if it’s what Dr. Sheehan described, with 31 students in the class, they’re in the Target language starting out the day, in the Native language, and then that English only teacher is a pull out for 10% of the day for the Kindergartners. And I can’t necessarily go into specifics about it, I’m sure Vickie can talk about if you have more specifics questions about it. Yeah, Norm?”
Parent: “Can Vickie talk?” (laughter)
Dr. G: “Ok, sure, she can talk.”
JF: “People do want to know.”
VA: “Hi, everybody. Ok, so one of the thoughts was that we were going to work together as a team, starting with Kindergartens teachers of course, and it was to make a really sound English program, as well as the Target language, and it was to take that off the plates of the teachers so that there was someone that specifically worked on creating an English program so that it’s really strong because although the Target language is really important so is the English program and we’re trying to get these kids ready for standardized testing and everything else. And so if we have someone who is specifically focused on that, you know you can rotate through, that is what other schools do I’ve researched things at other dual schools at other states so that is just one option. And the other issue that we’ve been talking about for years is, if you don’t have enough kids coming in in the primary grades by the time they get to upper grades they’re in splits. So by the time the curriculum gets to be really difficult not only are they challenged with splits which is always challenging when you have standards, but now they have the dual language and a split. So we were trying to alleviate that by having group stay together. And having a class that is a regular class size that is one grade as they move up into the upper grades. So that was the other part of the program. So maybe it’s a little heavy on the primary side of it, but when you move up and the curriculum gets even harder, you have one grade level to work with. And the ratio will still be 1 to 24 or even less depending on how the schedule worked out and at times it would be even less than that to allow for differentiation and small groups instruction. It was just an idea again, it was just one way of doing it. Yes?”
Parent: “Hi, if I understand it, this is an idea that will be contemplated by the Task Force, is that correct? (“yes” off camera) So I just wanted to understand the timing a little better. Applications for next fall are due at the end of this month, so this isn’t something being contemplated for this next fall but for the following year is that correct? (off camera “correct”) Ok.”
Dr. S: “Most likely, but once again, see, I’m going to let the Task Force come with recommendations. Next year, what we are envisioning as right now, is a Kindergarten in each of the 4 languages. Of 24, is what we’re envisioning now, now if the Task Force were to come up with an idea, ‘Hey, wow, that’s a great idea’, sure, we’ll be open to it.”
Parent: “In which case we’d have to get people, you know, renew the application process?”
Dr. S: “Yes. We always have, usually we do not have a problem going deeper into the process and that would still be early enough to ask those on the waiting list and if not, early enough to still be able to recruit. You’re still talking about April, so May, June, July, and August. So you have 4 months.”
Parent: “A point of clarification Dr. Garcia about what you said, I just wanted to understand, there would still be two Spanish tracks is that correct, so 2 Spanish classes if we went that route of 31 students each or 1?
Dr. G: “1. And under that scenario it would be just 1 Spanish class. We have opportunities for Spanish at other schools. So looking at it, we have opportunities for people who are interested in Spanish at other schools as well. But, many of our neighborhood students here are interested in the Spanish program so we want to continue to offer at least 1 class of Spanish as well.”
JF: “I see one, yes?”
Parent: “So it seems you’ve determined to go down to one class so we will all be in splits then? So for future families coming in, you can’t have 2 Spanish classes seeing as there is the demand and avoid the splits? You’ve just decided that splits is going to be acceptable?
Dr. S: “One of the things we’ve talked about is the Task Force taking a look at that. I don’t want to commit one way or another.”
Parent: “Ok so it’s definitely not decided then?”
Dr. S: “As of right now, it is not definite. Yes?”
Parent: “My question is that last year we were told specifically that there would be no French coming in. That this school was going to concentrate on the three languages that we already had. Where did that go? How did that go out the window? And, I’m sorry Mrs. Atikian, but what you just told us was very convoluted and very confusing.”
VA. “I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have anything written down.”
Parent: “Ok, maybe (audio unintelligible but seemed to desire having it explained again another time) obviously, maybe not necessarily now, but that was very convoluted and confusing. But my question is that, where did that go?”
Dr. S: “Well, the Magnet grant has always included French as one of the programs that we were going to look to bring onto Franklin. So…”
Parent: “But we already, obviously, clearly, we have a space issue, so where did that come from because no one here was ever told we were going to have maybe a forth language and clearly we have a space issue, so…”
Dr. S: “I wouldn’t say everybody didn’t know you would have a forth language. And that may be something that comes out of the Task Force. Yes?”
Parent: “Just to a get a point of clarification, when you were talking about the Task Force you were saying the Task Force would have input as to whether or not there would be French here at school but it sounds like you’ve already decided that next year there definitely will be French?”
Dr. S: “As of right now….”
Parent: “As a general question could you answer that but also, what if any changes for the school have been decided?”
Dr. S: “The decisions that’s been decided is that we have committed to a full German class for next year… (parent interrupts “Only for next year?” and GK answers “the Task Force is going to look at that”) and so, ok, we’re looking at bringing French in that is something that we want to do. We believe that it’s best location is here, if we can make it work, so that’s where we are right now. And as we go through this process, and we look at the specifics of the size and other programs, we may see if another program voluntarily wants to leave, well, but that may come out of it. We may look at relocating the French. But we want to examine it, through the task force.”
Parent: “Have any changes been decided? Have there been any decisions?”
Dr. S: “No. No.”
GK: “The Board hasn’t voted on it.”
Parent: “You voted to get rid of the German program.”
Dr. S: “No. There was no formal vote taken”
GK: “I want to clear the air. The Board does (did) not vote to abolish to the German program at all. There was discussion. It’s the assumption, everyone’s assuming and jumping way ahead in front and advance. I understand that we’re all concerned about our kids’ education and where they go. And I understand in this room we have some parents from Glendale and La Crescenta and some outside our boundaries too. I know that. And our concern is the kids and developing and strengthening the program. As I told you before, we have so many programs in this District. A lot. And we look at all of them. There’s a Task Force I’m assigned to for Measure S that’s meeting right now, that I left, on Central Avenue, and there’s actually another event on Central Ave, an Armenian Immersion program, an Armenian Christmas event that we left to come here too today. There are so many different things going on in our District that we’re looking at. And things aren’t set in stone, we haven’t voted, these are things that are being proposed to us, so we’re listening.”
JF: “And our last follow up question on this topic?”
Parent: “So I just want to clarify, I think that the confusion is really all about the announcement that was made to the school prior to Christmas. And in that announcement, there were clear decisions that were issued now–
GK: “–clear recommendations, don’t say decisions–”
Parent: “well, that’s not, I understand, I just want to make sure that we all agree, and we are (unintelligible) and we’re so impressed with the commitment that all of you have made to the school, but what we don’t understand, and we just want to make sure that we get it, you know we can be kind of thick over here, we were told a number of things, that there was a recommendation that was going to be followed about K 31, there was a recommendation about ending 6th grade, there was a recommendation about the German program, and there was a recommendation about adding French next year. Now we know that the German program, that was decided before (in) December, ‘yeah!’, about the German program having a full Kindergarten next year. But what I don’t understand is which things are things are done and which things are not done and they’re going to the Task Force and we’re going to get to talk about it. I’m not trying to be argumentative, I’m just trying to…”
Dr. S: “Yes, and I agree. I realize we’ve been clear as mud at times. (laughter) And basically what we’re looking at and the premise that we will start the task force is we will have 1 German, 1 Italian, 1 French and 1 Spanish. Now, as far as our commitment to the Spanish and the 2 and the non-splits, we’ll look at that in the process. Right now, that’s what we’re looking under the premise with which we’ll start the Task Force and it’s going to be programmatically, “what’s the best we can do?’ Yes?”
– continuity break to change camera tape –
Parent: (unintelligible audio on 1st part) “…which is for a couple of years you’ve been trying to figure out, so why then, I still just don’t get it, how you then start talking about adding another language when you’re already talking about space issues for years? That’s what I don’t understand.”
Dr. S: “Part of the discussion have been around what we can do facility-wise to expand the classrooms, and so we have looked at, but see I don’t want to make any promises on getting you additional classrooms, because one you have a small play area to begin with, and so part of the conversations have been along with Measure S, if, so part of it is, one of the first processes of Measure S was, ‘If you could dream, what would you want for your campus?’ Ok? And so that’s part of where those conversations have come from. Yes?”
Parent: “So, you’re saying everything is up and down, and up for discussion, but clearly you are moving in one direction.”
Dr. S: “We are clearly moving with the four.”
Parent: “No. Because you are accepting French applications, right? And the deadline is end of, for them, to apply for the private school, is end of January. So they either miss their deadline, or, so what’s going to happen? Or they come here and— (unintelligible)? “
Dr. S: “Well that’s a decision that the French parents are going to have to make.”
Parent: “But do they know that we have space issues here?”
Dr. S: “Yes, they are aware of it. Yes?”
Parent: “I was wondering if you could clarify briefly on the previous answer you gave, as far as the approval process of any of those steps, when I look back to the December 13th meeting, video (the GUSD Board meeting where Dr. Garcia made the Franklin presentation and is available on line at http://www.gusd.net/157910320134353467/blank/browse.asp?A=383&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&C=54576), that I’ve seen several times now trying to figure out what exactly is going to happen, I remember Mrs. Wagner saying during the French presentation, no worries if you run out of time, we’re not deciding anything today, this is sort of a presentation and discussion type of thing.”
Dr. S: “Right”
Parent: “And then in follow up in a discussion, someone, ‘You know I’m not really sure, we the Board member need to vote on because it’s a programmatical [sic] change what languages are being offered; we don’t remember voting on Japanese v. Korean’ and so on…”
Dr. S: “I remember the conversation.”
Parent: “So I’m just trying to figure out, at what point from the list of things we just went through, like the class size increase, the 6th grade cutting out, the German in out whatever, and the adding of the French, are those Board approval type of things or are they programmatic or is there a difference?”
Dr. S: “They are a combination of both. And so this is an internal conversation that the Board and I am currently having. I make no bones about it, I’m in my second year; I’ve made some mistakes I’ll be perfectly honest there. Part of it will be Board decisions, and once the decision the Board makes then we will make the overall programmatic decisions. The staff will. Yes?”
Parent: “I just want to understand the process in April. So there will be a follow up meeting to the Board of findings; no decisions made then. And then a meeting with all open to all the parents at Franklin, and then at what point will the decision making happen?”
Dr. S: “Generally the process we use with the Board is we have a ‘Discussion Item’ at one meeting and then it moves to ‘Action’. Now under this one, depending on the situation, so this would all be done in April, because we have two Board meetings in April, if we believe that it warrants two discussions, then we would make the decisions the first meeting in May, which is the first Tuesday in May.”
Parent: “I’d like to make a request that any decision be made after the meeting here at Franklin with the parents.”
Dr. S: “It will be.”
Parent: “So that it has the benefit of the input.”
Dr. S: “Yes, and that fits into that time.”
Parent: “Thank you.”
Dr. S: “Uh huh. “
JF: “So along the in and outs, we’re just trying to figure out what we know and what we can do. There are a lot of questions about 6th grade. Bottom line is you know at the Elementary model we go 50/50 and the middle school being more of maintenance at 70/30 so if you move the 6th grade to the middle school, are you programmatically looking at then changing them to the Immersion program for a 50/50 to a 70/30? And the other part about the 6th grade is that English Program, and when are they looking and how, I know I guess everything is up in the air, but when are they looking at being moved and how will that affect them?”
Dr. S: “Let’s start with the English only portion. They’re in 3rd grade, correct? No, 2nd grade. So the 2nd grade class is 24 students. So as they progress, they will progress probably all the way to 5th grade, because they will not be large enough to be a 6th grade by themselves at 24. So the second grade English only will go up to 5th grade here, and then the 5th/ 6th will matriculate together. (It will be) The last 6th grade class, and the 2nd graders, once they get to 5th grade, they will do 6th grade at Toll, but we will also give those parents the option, because you have some parents who don’t want their 6th grader at a middle school, we would give them the option of another elementary school if they’re more comfortable with that, or going in as a group to Toll Middle school. The Immersion model, and once again if a decision were made that 6th grade would be moving to Toll, we would be able to staff it if they all go. So we would look at doing the best we could at a 50/50 model. We would maintain the 50/50 model and as they go into 7th and 8th it would be 70/30. One of the things that Dr. Garcia talked about with the teacher credentialing and the program about going to Spain, is currently the Edison the first Dual Immersion in the District are 8th graders and will be going into Hoover next year as 9th graders. What this will allow, with the Spanish, is we will be able to go to Spain and interview content area teachers, so we will maybe be able to get a maybe a Science teacher, who is also a Spanish speaker. So that is the beauty of working out these details with the California Dept of Ed and the foreign countries is we will be able to get area specialist in Science and Math and then that will allow us to look at the 50/50 models.”
Parent: “Dr. Sheehan I just want to make sure I understand clearly. So you’re proposing that 6th grade will be phased out when the English 2nd grade class right now gets to 6th grade? I mean 5th grade.”
Dr. S: “When they go from 5th to 6th they will not, the current 2nd graders most likely will not do 6th grade here. Now, if we get some anomaly, that when the classes go to 36 and we were to pick up 10 kids in the 3rd grade or the 4th grade, in the English only class, then we might let them finish here.”
Parent: “But it’s not going to happen before that?”
Dr. S: “It’s not going to happen before that. And the another thing and I’m not trying to be doom and gloom, but we talked about class size a little earlier, the preliminary numbers on this year’s budget, should the tax proposal that Gov Brown is proposing for November, the initial numbers, and we don’t have the fine detail, are a cut of 11 to 19 million mid year next year. If the taxes don’t pass and his conceptual budget, because we all know that when the Governor proposes a budget it actually starts the budget process with the Legislature. If we get cut worst case scenario, everybody in the District will be at 31, K thru 3, and potentially higher in higher grades. That’s the reality. I just want everybody to understand how precarious class size in today’s budget world. ”
Parent: “A point of clarification. You said 24 wasn’t large enough for 6th grade, what is large enough for 6th grade?”
Dr. S: “Generally we want it 30 and above.”
JF: “So then kind along those, again this is the information piece, Edison is also looking at moving some 6th grade Spanish over and in general do we already have 6th grade at the middle schools, how is that working?”
Dr. S: “We have 4 middle schools in the District. Rosemont Middle School, which is in La Crescenta, is our largest middle school and is only 7th and 8th, and it’s still our largest middle school. Wilson Middle School, has 6th grade and, this is where, the history, I’ve been in the District 5 years, so I know they’ve had it at least 6 years, if not 7. 7 years is what I’m told. They have it they’ve been very successful with it. Toll Middle School has 6th grade currently and those kids are doing well there. What we’re finding with the 6th graders who go there, kind in mind, depending on the campus, we have a 6th grade wing, so we keep them together, some of them are in blocked classes, so instead of having 6 different teachers, 1 period each, they will have an English/ Social Science teacher, so they’re in the same class for 2 hours, then they have a Math/ Science teacher, they’re in that class for 2 hours, then they go to their elective and then P.E., but the electives tend to be done, there’s a 6th grade wheel, so they’re in electives with other 6th graders. What we have found is that they acclimate and have less issues; I know it’s not scientific or, it is, it’s been proven but it seems like common sense, they adjust better as 7th graders. Because if you think about the educational model, Middle School in the US being only 2 year, it’s kind of an interruption, because right as you settle in you leave for High School. So, there are other places who have done models of four eight and things like that.”
Parent: “Just as a follow up, we have kids every year in our 6th grade who chose to go to Toll? Already. Some people, you lose some of your, maybe mature students or whatever, by the parent choice. Already.”
Dr. S: “Yes.”
Parent: “If you have Rosemont as your home Middle School and it’s 7th and 8th and then here it cuts off at 5th grade and you’re in the German program or the Italian that might not have a language component in Middle School, what are you looking at to bridge that one awkward 6th grade year?”
Dr. S: “Then we would find you a class, a 6th grade class, in your home school, would be the hope, for the one year, until you go to Middle School.”
Parent: “So you would go back to your home school that’s English only and then move on to…?”
Dr S: “Correct. But you’re choosing; if we move the language classes, say we decided, we haven’t decided, but if 6th grade is at Toll, and you chose not to go to Toll, then yes, that would be a decision you made as a parent to go back to your home school.”
Parent: “So are you anticipating moving all the languages, Italian, Spanish to Toll?”
Dr. G: “Dr. Sheehan, if I may? That’s the purpose of the District-wide FLAG Committee that’s going to be put together because it’s going to be representatives from all over the District, from all schools and from the different programs, because we’re getting to a point now, you know there was a point just a few years ago that we had a couple of hundred kids, out of 26,000+, in our FLAG programs we’re now at what? 1200? We’re well over a thousand and we maybe even over twelve hundred, but we’re growing significantly, but that’s the purpose of the whole District–wide Task Force, that’s going to be put together later this Spring. But it’s a great question, because how do we, if we make different adjustments at different schools, where do those kids matriculate to? And we don’t have the answers to those (questions) yet, that’s why we’re putting this together. The only students right now that are that far along are the original Spanish students from Edison, there are 8 of them, and they are in the 8th grade. (laughter) So now we’re building a program at Hoover for 8 students next year, and the following year I think there about 10? There are about 10 that are now in 7th grade, so we know probably 90% what we’re going to do at Hoover next year, but with the FLAG District wide, we’ve got to start to look at where are the programs are going to go, what Middle Schools are they going to go to? Are they going to go to this Middle School? Could they go to this Middle School; maybe they have more space? So, all of those things. So I don’t want to get too deep into those type of District-wide questions now, because we don’t have those answers but we’re going to finding those answers in the next year.
Parent: “I have a quick Task Force question that was left over? So if there are two from each language, is it ok if the District picks one and we pick the other? I think it would do a lot of good for the trust issues that we’re all working on? And we have 60%, I think, in Google groups, so we can do a little mini election efficiently if either Jen or Gillian…?
Dr. S: “We can talk about that afterwards and we’ll talk with Vickie about that, ok?
Dr. S: “You have to understand, Vickie knows you all better than we do.”
Parent: “We can do it really quick.” (laughter)
Parent: “I had made a presentation to give, that was trying to look at some of the space issues, and honestly, I don’t think I should give it, because you’ve said quite a bit that is new information to me and I’d have to factor in, and it seems to me it may address some of these problems, I’m not in favor of dropping the 6th grade, but I’m very confused/ concerned about this 31 approach with the split multi whatever it is, I think, as it was explained it doesn’t cut down on the number of classrooms you need in the school, at least as I understood it, and therefore I’m not really sure how it addresses space issues. I would like a lot more…”
Dr. S: “Right. Ok, we’ll talk about that more, that’s more specific. We’ll talk more…” (gestures “later”)
JF: “Ok we have kind of two, thank you, you’ve segued into this perfectly, our last 2 questions are about space issues. Specifically about Measure S can we get a new building, will that increase capacity and can we put bungalows?”
Dr. S: “This gets very complicated, the Overcrowding Relief Grants, Franklin did not qualify. The ORG is done on a formula based off of LA Unified. And they go back to 2005/2006 and they look at numbers from that far back and then they determine, the whole goal of it is to get portables off campuses. When we passed Measure S, we had 2 schools, Keppel and RD White that qualified for ORG money. And what that is, is the State gives us a 50/50 match. And if you go by Roosevelt Middle School, we just put in a new turf field, track, we put in 16 classrooms, high-tech, they’re all going to have 40 laptop computers in each classroom. And this was done with ORG. The ORG pays for half. Our District qualified for approximately 30 million dollars worth, of additional money on top of Measure S, so it’s a lot of money. The State in October approved another round of ORG, which allowed us to apply for 8 more schools. Franklin was not one of them. But what that does, is those plans have to be into the State by July 30th of this year. Which causes us as a District to qualify for the 27 million dollars those all jumped to the forefront. And so those are all we have 10 sites that we are currently drawing the expansion, the architectural drawings of what those schools will look like. Now, we’ve done that and we’re looking at Measure S dollars that are already committed. In August we sold 54 million dollars worth of bonds, which is supposed to take us over the first 3 years and then we’ll sell another 54 million dollars. On Tuesday, at the Board meeting, we’re going to show how much of the 54 million dollars is already committed out for the first 3 years before we start the priority because we already committed to solar programs, other programs, we’re looking at redoing College View, it’s the only school that was not touched by Measure K, and so that doesn’t mean we can not look at potentially putting on portables, but you have to understand there are certain regulations. We have certain portables on campus that we cannot put students in. I know you guys understand that. We have some that are done for Kindergarten, so we would actually have to go out and buy new portables to bring them up. Because when we take an ORG site, like at Glendale, we have about 20 portables, once we apply for ORG monies we are promising that we will not use those classrooms anywhere in the District to house other students. So those are the types of issues that complicate that. So that is something we can look at and once again, we start on a space issue, because we are required to have square footage of playground space to children.”
JF: “Along with space here, some other questions about space elsewhere, is there some looking at K-3 here or somewhere, basically splitting the program, K-3 at one site 4-8 at another? Or changing sites entirely? Some of those other space options?”
Dr. S: “That’s I don’t want to, it’s one of the areas I don’t necessarily want to commit to; that’s what I want the Task Force to look at. We can potentially look at K-3 and 4-8, and Dr. Garcia brought it up, we’re going to have the 2nd Task Force look District-wide. Because currently we have Korean and Japanese so there might be a plan that puts them at one Middle School. We have 2 schools doing Armenian, so we may move Armenian to a different Middle School. Then we have the Romance languages or the European languages, those might be at 1 or at 2 Middle Schools. And with the expansion of the Spanish to 3 sites it may make sense to have Spanish at 2 different Middle Schools. As we move forward, those are the issues that we want to address.”
JF: “So at this point we’re approaching 8:15 and we try to wrap up PTA meetings by 8:00, so I’m sure—“
Parent: “No, no, no, sorry, no.”
Parent (different): “I was kind of just part of the space presentation, we kind of just had these things put together–”
Parent (continued): “If I may have 3 minutes?”
Parent (different): “No, 5.”
Dr. S: “To do what?”
Parent: “Can I have the mike to make—“
Dr. S: “No. That’s not; you can come and talk to us.”
Parent: “Ok, I’d just like to raise a point about the Magnet grant. So, in the Magnet grant, which we’ve now read and re-read multiple times, in that grant it clearly states and you make the point that the capacity at Franklin is 980 students. In that grant, that is stated as an absolute fact. There’s no clarification about anything about a year round, multi track. And that is compared, that number is directly compared to Keppel and Edison; those schools are nearly at capacity, as presented in the grant, and then they present a capacity number maybe a hundred or so above that. Our numbers were presented in such a way that were about 360 students or so, in Franklin at the time the grant was written and 980 capacity, about a third, of the school was at capacity. The number one goal of that grant was to reduce the minority isolation at Franklin and in the Magnet schools. The way you reduce that number is to increase the number of ultimate enrolled students, and so the goal for the grant was to get to 651 students, which you could accomplish by having 1 Spanish, 1 German, 1 Italian and 1 French. Clearly another one of the main goals of the grant is to introduce French program, and we actually think that would be a great thing. We think bringing another language in would be a wonderful thing, and it certainly seems that way, when presented with a 2/3rds unoccupied school. It’s a wonderful idea, let’s fill up the school and bring in as many languages as we can to fill that school. But it’s clear, from Dr. Garcia and from you tonight and from our own analysis over which we’ve spent many, many hours over the last few weeks and many thousands of e-mails over the last 27 days and an incredible number of hours, it’s clear that the capacity of Franklin is 600 or so. That’s what was stated. And so it just seems completely silly almost to bring in another language. Which you know it’s clear that when another language comes into the school; we like people, we do well with people, people like us; they’re going to ameile (audio unclear) themselves to us and us to them. It’s seems absolutely clear to many of us that bringing in another language will ultimately pit one language against another and pit one program against another and it seems to us that the hope is that one of these programs will fail and then that will solve the space problem. (GK interjects “That’s not true”) My main point is that I think this number 980 is causing us a lot of problems. That’s my own opinion. It has the potential, in fact, to cause many more problems, I would imagine, because it seems to me that number is not a stated fact, and it was stated as a fact, but it’s clearly not correct, and that’s a bad thing, to have in a Federal grant. I just think it’s absolutely the wrong thing to do to bring in another language, at this stage, I think it would be great if we have the space, which we clearly don’t. Seems like there are other Immersion programs around the District, why not start French at one of those schools. I think once the French, or another language, start in this school, it’s just going to be an incredible uphill battle, for you, first off, to keep everybody in this school, or even a third of the people in this school, happy. Seems like you’re setting yourself up for an incredible headache—“
GK: “Sir, what program in this school is your son or daughter in?”
Parent: “We have a son in the third grade in the German program and another coming into the Kindergarten in the German program.”
GK: “In the German program. Ok great. And a lot of what you’re saying is, I’m listening, because ultimately, they’re going to suggest it and I’m hearing in your viewpoint some of the questions that we ask even on the Board. Is it feasible at the school? Can it work there? I’m hearing your concern and I’m hear the concerns specifically, primarily from the German program parents which is exciting, in that realm. I haven’t heard a lot of concerns from the Italian program I haven’t heard a lot of concerns from the Japanese program, hear me out—“
(general hubbub of parents talking and murmuring over each other, audio too muddy to make out.)
GK: “Listen, there’s plenty of time for us to debate. And I like to know and I’m more than happy to meet off-line, and obviously, this is not a private school setting, we’re in a public school. Welcome to the United States; these are things that we have. There are some restrictions that we have in this country, we can, our wherewithal, we can handle. There are things that are here that we have in this country we can deal with. I said in the very beginning; we’re getting 4800 dollars a year per student. And expect; I wish my kids could be in a class with 20 kids. I wish my kids could have a language.”
Parents interrupting: “But we’re not talking about class size.”
GK: “I’m not debating you, I’m telling the whole group here. For you as parents, there’s a lot of issues each of us have. There’s different concerns you have. There’s different wants you have. My own neighbor on my own street, which; I live up the street on Raymond, which I bought a home up the street in Northwest Glendale; my neighbor alone goes to the Italian Program and another neighbor goes to the Armenian program in different schools, we all live right next to each other. I have two parents on my own street that go to this school. And they tell me some of the concerns they have. We listen to this. Ultimately the staff will recommend to us. Some of the same questions you’re asking, I presented to them: can it fit? Can it work here? As we have 4 other Board members, ultimately. That’s why we get elected to ask these questions. We ask them. This grant is just a 2-year grant? No, a 3-year, but we’re in our second year? So one more year beyond this. So after that point it’s a whole other challenge in itself, which we have to tackle. Things aren’t totally sustainable, I wish. I love your passion, I love your excitement, but a lot of these things, trying to be realistic with some things too. Doesn’t mean, doesn’t mean things are closing. The sky isn’t falling. Your kids have a facility, we have a great classroom, and we have great passion here at the school. I love the energy at this school, but also I’m a realist too. I have some friends who are dying, trying to get their kids into certain High Schools and they’re saying, ‘Greg, you know my timeline to register for Providence or St Francis is running out, I don’t want to have to pay the fee to register, I want to send my kid for free, because I want him to go to public schools…’ And we try to do these things. There’s things we have to look at here and be realistic here for the greater good, for the 27000 [sic] students we have in our District too. It doesn’t mean these programs are shutting down. I’m excited and have faith in the Task Force. I have a lot of faith in the Task Force. This Task Force is going to look at issues and say, ‘hey, let’s set up triggers, let’s do this, let’s look at this’. Maybe the Task Force is going to come back and say ‘only 2 languages’, we don’t know what they’re going to say. Let’s give it faith and let their, ultimately the decision is going to come down to the staff and come down to the Board at that point.”
Parent: “So the single piece of information that made me decide that it wasn’t that useful for me to present, was that you had said, that you were going to discontinue the Spanish strand.”
Dr. S: “Ok, that’s going in, that’s going in, and that’s what the Task Force will start with.”
Parent: “Have the Spanish parents heard that before tonight?”
Other parents: “No.”
Dr. S: “No, they have not, not before tonight.”
Much upset parent hubbub.
GK: “we’re going into discussion that are way ahead things.” Someone says, “We’re going to move on.”
Parent: “Just a quick note, and you known me for a while and Ana, we’re super grateful for being here. We’re LAUSD and we talked about home school, so being here and learning German for my daughter that’s wonderful. We have a second one coming in as well. She speaks three languages already, having French come in and maybe having the opportunity of adding French on and making it a forth for her; I learned 6 years of French and I love it. So Mr. Krikorian, if I heard you say this just now, you said, it’s amazing to me that mainly the German parents pushing against the French program, I just want to clarify—“
Parent: “No, not pushing, but we all know it means; there’s a big elephant in the room. And it’s not us, I’m speaking for myself, it’s not me and I don’t think a lot of other German parents that say, ‘we don’t want the French program’, I’m going to be really clear here, we’re just concerned about the space issues and we don’t understand how logistically it can all work. Honestly, I’m not opposed to French, I would love it, I just am honestly the fact that some many German parents are active now and are speaking up and seem to be more active against anything else changing, or anything new coming in probably has to do with the fact that since December 13th we had been put on notice we were about to be chucked off, we got really organized, as you know, and we have gone through pages and hours of emails and documents and I think that was the only, time-wise, the only advantage in acquiring knowledge and becoming more familiar with this whole thematics of, that gives sort of the opinion to speak up about this. As you mentioned, the Spanish parents didn’t know about the plans of changing potentially from 2 to 1 and so on. This is why we know these things and this is why we ask these questions. And we’re hoping that all of the parents will equally get—“
GK: (first part unintelligible as he’s talking over the parent) “Here’s the thing. I was one of the Board members that voted for the German Program. I voted for the Italian Program. We want these programs to be successful. As individual Board members, as all Board members, we want these programs to be successful, sustainable and economically make sense. So we’re at this point, it’s moving forward, let’s keep the ball rolling in the right direction. If we want to roll in one direction, have this school be successful, in German or Italian, whatever it may be, I don’t care if it’s Japanese at Verdugo Woodland, in all of our schools, we’re going to look at a global picture later on, but specifically for you, your calling is now, let’s keep this ball rolling, let’s keep the enrollment going, let’s keep the challenge of the busting classrooms it keeps the sustainability of the program vibrant. What was a red flag what came to us was some of the communication that the numbers were going down, there was a lot that transpired that was different information and now we know, we know certain things that are moving in a good direction. Let’s look at the positive thing. The positive thing is the Board and you hear the staff saying, ‘we’re committed to doing German next year.’ Ok? Let’s fill and let’s resonate this message that we’re committed to this program, or and the same thing with Italian or any other program that we have at any other school, that we’re going to build upon and it’s going to grow. If it comes to a point like I told you we stopped, we had a typewriter repairman in our District. That job ended and he’s gone. If there comes a point if I see Italian’s not working, and enrollment’s down to 7, and I have other programs that are suffering, I would be a very bad School Board member if we kept that program going. It’s a fact of life. So these are things here we have to realize. We’re all in the same boat. We want what’s best for all our kids. And it comes right now, we are committed to the Italian program, we are committed to the Spanish program and we’re committed to the German program, which is here now at this point tonight.
Dr S: “Levon with the last question.”
JF: “Yes, last question.”
Parent: “Quickly, does anybody on your staff, Dr. Sheehan, have numbers on how many native French speakers and how many French students have enrolled into 2012?”
(Murmurs of clarification)
Dr. S: “We have a full class.”
Dr G: “How many applicants? I can tell you and the deadline is when Jen? The 29th?”
JS: (Jennifer Slabbinck) The 27th. We do have enough applicant for a full class, first choice applicants for a full class for all four languages. And that doesn’t include second or third choice applicants, that’s just the first pool. I can’t tell you Native versus non-Native because we have to go individually through and contact and test those students. And they have to meet that test score to be considered Native. So I don’t have that data, but we defiantly have enough applicants.
At this point I want to thank all of you for coming. I know there are a lot of questions left. Some of our pre-school Parents are here and Dr. Sheehan is going to save space and time for your questions, so please meet directly with him. If you have kids, go get them and come back here and mingle and talk and District staff will take questions.
END OF TAPING.