Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last Night's Sierra Madre School Site Council Meeting

Last evening a group of around 25 or so very concerned people packed into a rather small room for a meeting of the Sierra Madre School Site Council, or SSC. This took place at the Elementary Campus Arts Discovery Room. The SSC is where parents can become intimately involved in the running of whichever school they are concerned about. An agenda was handed out per usual and a lot of the regular business that has always taken place was covered.

However, this was not really that kind of meeting as most were there to show their outrage at the PUSD's stunning announcement that Measure TT moneys that had been promised to Sierra Madre's schools for replacing the Middle School and substantial work to the Elementary Schools, would be about 20% less than promised. A substantial cut that the PUSD blamed solely on Sacramento cuts due to the state's financial crisis.

Of course, and as was pointed out at Tuesday evening's City Council meeting by Chris Koerber, when Measure TT was sold to the voters it was to be the sole financial vessel for work that still needs to be done at PUSD campuses throughout the entire district. Nothing about matching state funding was heard at that time. Now, a 4 full years later, PUSD parents are hearing a much different story, and a lot of what had been promised is not going to be delivered. And for reasons that were not made clear, or even intimated at, when the tax payers voted themselves $350,000,000 in bond debt to fund school construction. Something many are beginning to view as a bait and switch.

However, identifying and discussing these aspects of the Measure TT hype from 2008 is only going to get us so far. A good benchmark for not trusting the PUSD in the future, but it isn't going to help us now.

A great and meticulously prepared handout at the meeting entitled "Response to PUSD Facilities Sub-Committee and Mr. Robin Brown, Facilities Bond Manager Responsible for the Master Plan Budget Reduction Concerning the Proposed Facilities Cuts to the Sierra Madre School Upper and Lower Campus facilities projects funded under Measure TT," shows that much of the data being used by the PUSD to calculate how these cuts would effect Sierra Madre's schools is called into question by parents. Here is how they rolled that out:

Background: On April 25, 2012 Mr. Robin Brown presented the PUSD Facilities Sub-Committee's response to the expected shortfall of $64,000,000 funding expected from the State of California. Without this State contribution, the Measure TT funded projects contingent on this additional State funding, must be cut to meet the projected shortfall amount. Applying a cut distributed across all of PUSD facilities projects, the proposed impact on the Sierra Madre Schools facilities amounted to $909,389 at the Lower Campus and $2,766,045 at the Upper Campus.

However, when it came to how the cuts were being made, it looks like the PUSD has been using fuzzy and outdated math. Anyone surprised?

SSC Analysis/Discussion: When Mr. Brown provided the supporting budgets used to make the proposed cuts to Sierra Madre, however, it became apparent that the figures they used were significantly outdated and did not take into account numerous updates, cuts, and additions enacted by the PUSD School Board and recorded in the PUSD School Board Minutes. The budget numbers they used appear to have been taken from the original estimates used for the Measure TT proposal rather than the numbers that were amended and approved in the ensuing years.

Much of this handout includes actual PUSD documents showing that significant cuts had already been made starting in 2009, and since those amounts had already removed from the overall equation nothing more needed to be cut.

Given these corrections, Sierra Madre School facilities will be well served within the budget numbers that Mr. Brown presented since they already reflect significant facilities budget reductions from the original 2008 Project Allocations and are sufficient to complete the full scope of the Board-Approved Facilities Projects on both Sierra Madre campuses, reinstating the field house project at the lower campus and, at the upper campus, the 4-classroom building, the work to the field, and the $600,000 in soft costs.

The recommendation that was put before the Sierra Madre School Site Council for a vote read as follows:

The Sierra Madre School Site Council Approve the Target Revised Project Budgets totaling $30,921,355 for construction projects at the Sierra Madre Upper Campus and $4,764,336 for the Sierra Madre Lower Campus but Rejects All Cuts to the Facilities Plans and, Because All Board Approved Plans Are Under Revised Projected Budget Amounts, No Facilities Cuts Be Enacted.

Rather than approve this recommendation, the Sierra Madre School Site Council chose instead to form a sub-committee and look into these things further. You need to remember that this is all very recent news, and if Sierra Madre's SSC is to present its recommendations to the Pasadena Board of Education, they need to put together some very good arguments to make certain this crude 20% hacking off of promised funding does not take place.

But some pretty valuable work has obviously already been done. Establishing that these cuts were made on outdated and faulty data is quite a coup, and will certainly provide effective ammunition when they go up against the governing parties.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

91 comments:

  1. Let us all hope they find, or already have a very good pro bono attorney who is passionate and experienced about catching School Boaard Thieves.

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  2. well, of course they'll put together a task force. they'll violate brown ten or fifteen times easy. yawn. there's your promise nothing is going to happen.

    have you looked at what the lower campus is lacking, really? they want lights for the auditorium stage, a toilet in the field (for what? didn't they just dump a bunch of money into their priority- making the facade look real perty with a garden?) and a new kitchen- even though a new one was built downtown- the food services are centralized and shipped in last i knew- isn't that why they built that in the first place?

    oh, i get it- is it because central don't make tofurky and tofu sushi and put little umbrellas in the vegan coconut milk for sierra madre school?

    all the talk about money. but no one is talking about the poisons in those portables, the debris that was "cleaned up" full of radon, asbestos, lead paint- and other yummy stuff. you kidding me? i'm sure a committee already said "it's all good."

    mary and i had made great progress on this stuff until October, 2010. at that time we had to deal with another problem- you know- the one where the community we were trying to help grabbed their pitchforks and used them on us instead of cleaning up the mess.

    good luck to those people. get your committee on.

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  3. Can't we just pass some more bonds? Bart says it is a possibility.

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  4. Patch has headline story up today about Sierra Madre not having a Pasadena Board of Ed representative until 2015. Nice to see them keeping up. Only about a month late on that one.

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  5. We need to demand that SM Middle School be built with the TT Bond money. There's plenty of $$ there.

    PUSD wants to hold our children hostage to pass another bond issue.

    Why? Because if they build the Middle School with TT money, as promised, PUSD knows that S. Madre voters will FAIL the next bond issue.

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  6. turn Sierra Middle School into Sierra Madre City College. I hear they have been looking for a campus for years. They have been conducting classes in the back offices of the Bottle Shop

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  7. Screwed on Measure Y, screwed on Measure TT. Anybody detecting a pattern here?

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  8. I remember when B.D. and M.K.(you can fill in the names), came before the C.C. to “ hawk” the renovation of the middle school, I looked at the numbers they were pushing, and was astounded by the budget costs. I remember remarking about how they could use gold plated nails to build the project.
    We needed to upgrade the campus, and since it was for the children of Sierra Madre, I voted to endorse the project in spite of the cast of characters who were there pushing it. I thought with that budget it was a guaranteed success.
    What a mistake.
    The same cast of characters are still there, still playing games. I guess you live and learn.
    The Council should seriously consider pulling Sierra Madre out of the PUSD. Is it no longer interested in being inclusive. It has turned into a bunch of self serving interest groups.
    Those citizens fighting to protect their children’s interests should work toward joining the Arcadia, Monrovia districts, or form a separate school district.
    If independent magnet schools can be formed in LAC, why not Sierra Madre.

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    1. Altadena is deeply involved in getting out of the PUSD. They've aleady got the number of signatures they need to pull it off.

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    2. Perhaps, joining with Altadena would be a good direction to pursue. It's obvious being in PUSD is no longer particularly worth being part of.

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    3. Thanks for posting Don. I remember the exchanges you had with the Measure TT guys, and you were so effective you actually got them to sputter out the truth. It was to your questioning that the PUSD rep said "Well we fully intend to spend the money on the middle school project" and "We are not going to expand. Why do you keep asking?" Lies for all to see.

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    4. 8:31, Altadena has some very serious problems - like less than 70% of its low-income student majority graduates from high school.

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    5. I have always voted NO for any PUSD bonds and I always will.

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    6. Good idea, Don. Thanks for your additional information.
      It's a complex subject, but it is almost certain some Doyle type shenanigans are going on.
      We need to uncover them.

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  9. What would be the base population of upper secondary school students you would need to have a comprehensive curriculum?Altadena may have that population. Would we? A survey was done here some years ago for the Youth Master Plan (regarding SM parks, etc.) and it was uncovered that our children attend 28 different schools, public and private, here and elsewhere.

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    1. There is a reason our kids do not go to school in the PUSD. It is called EDUCATION.

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  10. Yup, BD Bart Doyle kids went to private schools, gave legal advice to the parents who wanted to join Arcadia, now the poorly chosen liaison to PUSD, and MK Michele Kieth, are her children in PUSD? What is their real interest in all this?

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    1. There was a good reason that he sent his kids to a private school. He knew how bad the PUSD schools were. I don't know anyone who sent their kids to the PUSD schools in the 80's, 90's or early 2000's.

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  11. The SM schools have some fierce advocates. They are not going to walk away from this fight.

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    1. Even people who do not have kids in the PUSD's Sierra Madre outpost of their school system gulag need to get behind this. This is about Sierra Madre. We stick together.

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    2. Only 25 parents at the meeting last night. That is a very poor turnout for something that important. There should have been at least 150 if they really cared.

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    3. It was more like 40 parents. Of course, the 80/20 rule always applies.

      Don't use that as an excuse not to get imvolved, or to "let someone else do it."

      PUSD depends on that to keep scamming the taxpayers.

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    4. The thing that amazes me is that the major players at PUSD never change. It is always the same old guys. Do you think they would even be there if it wasn't all that bond money?

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    5. There are many activists in Sierra Madre who are tired and want to or will retire from activism. It's a full time job and an exhausting one. So what I'm saying is that you have to pick your battles, and once you have, your chief occupation for a while will be in organization and recruitment. There is a rich field to cultivate with all the parents of the PUSD school kids, and they have to be reached.

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    6. This was a School Site Council regular meeting with the added important item of Measure TT budget for the Sierra Madre middle and lower campus (reference to grades that others might call Junior High and Elementary).

      The turn out, following the School Board meeting the night before (and the 3 pm hard to attend meeting of the afternoon before) should not be seen as low or high or anything inbetween. It was attended by the folks who needed to be there.

      Also note, a School Site Council is in the State Education Code for participation for schools operating with certain level of funding resources. It is complicated enough as it is, without intentional misunderstanding.

      There were a few members of the public but mostly the council themselves, teachers, parents, school administrators, as required by the Ed Code. At upper and middle school levels, there are student representatives on the site council as well.

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    7. Are parents considered to be members of the public, or members of the SSC?

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    8. I love the oxymoron "intentional misunderstanding" 11:31. Very rich in unintended meaning. If ever something described the Board of Education's current strategy on the Measure TT question, that would be it.

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  12. Can we just leave the district? Is that a possible choice and does our council have the power to do that?

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    1. Been there, tried that twice. Most of the town wanted PUSD and now they are stuck with it. How many of the fools that voted for the bonds are crying now. Check out your tax bill to see how much money you are throwing into a black hole the idiots voted for. Probably the same people that voted for Walsh, Moran, and Johnny boy voted for the bonds.

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  13. I like the idea of a magnet or charter school for the middle school campus. And why can't we combine the middle school with a high school or make it 9th thru 12th? The elementary can become K - 8. We should be able to handle that with our population.

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  14. 1865, It is not only the year the civil war ended but the number of school days
    Your child will attend school from k till graduation. Not many when looked at in.the raw numbers. With so few we have no time to waste! Let's hold our schools responsible for a great product. Great students,ready to make a differance in our town and country. Let's do this together! Let's do it NOW!

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    1. To me, not having children, this pusd crap is about principles & integrity & fighting for what is right. What is right is making sure the children get a good education, that parents deserved to be involved as their right. So, the dart boyles in education making decisions about other peoples' children & their parents money seems wrong to begin with because these pusd folks have their own agenda to fulfill & that usually adds up to $$$$ & cents. I will make sure to suppport the parents in the fight against measure tt lies. Something which I voted against in the first place. Without good education the children will be cheated of their future and as well informed adults. Sierra Madre kids have been in pusd district long enough. If their parents live here to provide a great place to live, then these kids have the right to a bright future & attend the schools of their choice. To hell with dart & other unethical buddies. It's time to clean up Sierra Madre's "dirty linen." TIme to "wash it up & air it in public!!" signed, old student of life.

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    2. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
      ~ Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)

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    3. I love Bible quotes. In a confusing and amoral world, here you can find unquestionable truth. It just feels right.

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  15. Has anyone got a total here, as in the total number of dollars stolen and/or mismanaged?

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    1. There is a lot of intentional misunderstanding out there. Plus PUSD has gone off the rails, made promises they couldn't keep, hired ridiculously expensive consultants until the cows came home, and people generally have no idea what is actually going on. How much money has been mismanaged, lost or stolen? Who knows? The people in charge sure don't. This is mayhem. Like the guy in the TV ads.

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    2. Then the ex-chief financial officer of El Monte Titan Group is the perfect fit for the job. In fact, dontcha think Big Bart will run to be the PUSD rep when the election comes up? Til then, he's a great poster boy for a hopelessly corrupt organization.

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    3. They could seat him right between Selinske and Honowitz. Quite a trio they'd make.

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  16. Get your hand out of my pocket, Dart Boyle, I want my money back!

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  17. Get your bible out of my politics!

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    1. Jesus was most definitely a political activist.

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    2. Jesus was a socialist.

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    3. Jesus had two daddies!

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  18. I was watching an interview John Edwards did in 2008, and his style reminded me of Doyle's presentation the other night. Under hard questioning from Councilman Koerber, Doyle said "I answered that." "I have already responded to that." Very Edwards, meaning liars' technique.

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    1. There were definitely some things Bart did not want Chris to dwell on. Any person in Sierra Madre who would vote for Measure A must be out of their mind.

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    2. That's a classic avoidance move, 4:13. Goodness knows we were schooled in it with Mosca. Fill up remarks with genial blather, then sidestep the intent of the question. We had years of it. Doyle does a different kind of blather , more factual than genial, but the sidestepping is identical.

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    3. Bart seemed incapable of summing up why we were getting "screwed" (his charming vocabulary) again, in one or two sentences.
      Too bad the whole council didn't ask for exactly that.
      Mr Doyle, why are we getting "screwed" out of representation, in 50 words or less?

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    4. Bart is a bit of a chameleon. He can hang with the Board of Ed, yet can also be accepted by the parents of school kids. The very ones who are suffering the most from the Board of Ed's incompetence.

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  19. Wouldn't it be great if all second graders were given a class in Introduction to Ethics, and then that course of study stayed in the curriculum through high school?
    And a ancillary part of the course: how to tell when someone is lying.

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    1. If it is a PUSD bond salesman, the best test is to see if their lips are moving.

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    2. they should also study basic economics. A firm grasp of Econ 101 would help these folks smell a rat right away!

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  20. Just FYI: The Altadena Schools folks did submit about 7,200 signatures to the county school officials in 2010, but in 2011 about 2,000 of them were tossed. They haven't really worked on getting another 2,000 signatures yet -- seemed to have taken the wind out of their sails.

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    1. Well Sage, we here on the far side of the education archipelago were holding out a lot of hope for you guys.

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    2. Hey Sage, we've had that same king of experience in Sierra Madre, what with signatures being thrown out and all. It is dispiriting. Getting the general public motivated is pushing water uphill, and when the powers that be go into cahoots to negate the work? It's hard, hard, hard.

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    3. I think we need to pass a petition that says you don't need to collect so many signatures to make things happen. It would really help to move things along.

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  21. Wouldn't it be even better if parents at Sierra Madre took the ethics course that PUSD's attorneys were forced to take after being caught lying for them?

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    1. tony brandenburgMay 24, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      @4:37. i am sure you are referring to the 9th circuit court ruling that nailed PUSD in 2005. that law firm STILL shows up on purchase orders to this day. i did a talk on their budget three weeks ago and saw the firm on a document. and the people at SMES think they have a snowball's chance in hell of cutting through the red tape. ha. haha. good luck. they don't EVEN know what they are up against. they'll see. they think they are going to get these through a pdr, and that it will actually be provided. ha. haha. it is hilarious how naive they really are.

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  22. tony brandenburgMay 24, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    i would LOVE for sierra madre to secede.

    in fact, i will assist and advocate for it 100%. in seceding, you will find out where your preciousssss staff at these pusd schools REALLY stand. does anyone believe that these teachers would forfeit their tenure to start at column 1 for the privilege of teaching your kids at a pay cut? haha. and folks call me delusional. ha. haha.

    bring it. make it happen. put it all on double zero, and let it roll.

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  23. tony brandenburgMay 24, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    waaaa. our school doesn't have an air conditioner in the teacher lounge. waaaaa. the pinnochio auditorium doesn't have stage lights. waaaaa. we want a bathroom on the field so parents can have slugfests on our fields, too. waaaaaaa.

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    1. When is Little League Parents Boxing Night?

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    2. At least the native garden is in. But most frightening of all is the possibility of removing the timeout/guidance room. Where will the money be found for that? Word is that the librarian is on the way out. Priorities.
      Books or submission of the naughty ones- easy one there.

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    3. Tonight at Sierra Madre is Open house. Is the baseball field still there?

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    4. no kidding, 5:03. where will kids go to say, "after school, on the field?" what if there was no field to fight on? and where would everyone pee?

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  24. So if Doyle is so bad (And don't get me wrong, I think he's so bad), why doesn't Koerber or Capoccia move to remove him and replace him with somebody who cares about education in Sierra Madre?

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    1. Doyle's gig on the redistricting whatever commission is basically over. They made their mess and like any other pack of unhousebroken hounds they're moving on.

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    2. We watched John Buchanan lead the votes for Bart Doyle, herding his yes people into line behind him, while they bypassed an excellent candidate. That's what happened - a guy under investigation for financial fraud was chosen, while a man with sterling credentials was not. Another memorable act of destruction by John Buchanan.

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  25. Poster 4:51, because it's not about the best person for the job. If the City Council wanted the best person for the job, they could have picked Zimmerman who actually went to Sierra Madre elementary and graduated Valedictorian at Muir -- i.e., he's a product of the PUSD and has a stake in its continuing success.

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  26. Hopefully the Troll pack is finished. Bart the King of Trolls, will just not leave, die or go away. He is hoping that the whole school thing will keep him out out Prison. Bart is very self serving. If Bart is involved, the out come is never good.

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  27. Isn't it a shame that when a school does well - look at the scores for SM Elementary, they must somehow be punished or attacked. We must all bow down to the least common denominator.
    We voted to build the school, our tax dollars are to be used to build it, build the d--n thing!

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    1. Face it 5:39, there are some in Sierra Madre that behave like spoiled, ENTITLED, brats- causing a knee jerk reaction to their complaints.
      You want to build the school, fine. You want to lament the AIR CONDITIONER in the lounge? Please.
      Oh, and regarding the school doing well? There are people who have seen first hand the outright cheating that occurred under Bluemel's "watch". It's hard to keep up the pretence now that they're on the top.

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  28. And it can be quite a fall from such a lofty, high fallootin' perch.
    Sierra Madre needs to get real, warts and all, and stop with all the superiority b.s.

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    1. Wanting to get the best possible education for your children is not in any way an expression of superiority. It is doing the right thing by your children. Doesn't everyone do this for their children?

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  29. Sierra Madre school parents need to remem ber their taxes are the same as anybody else. They also need to remember its a public , NOT PRIVATE, school.
    The elitist attitudes from a bunch of wannabe yuppies-vegan-ecofriendly BIGOTs is wearing thin. When those "types" venture out of the sierra Madre pond, they either try and blend into the woodwork, or get smothered by the diverse culture beyond .

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    1. I'm not certain who the bigot here is, 7:44. By all accounts I suspect it is you.

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    2. Seems obvious to me that a lot of the Sierra Madre bashing you see from the far left elitists running the PUSD has a racial origin.

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    3. Rather than go after the parents for their varied tastes, which in all likelihood include everything from cosmopolitan to provincial, how about focusing on the thieves and scoundrels who steal and abuse the money we all, vegan or carnivore, give them?

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  30. I suggest sierra Madre revisit Spangler. No surprise that PUSD was the last stand before forced desegregation.

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    1. I think you are referring to the German Philosopher Oswald SPENGLER, right? Author of the book "Decline of the West?" What 16 year old wanna be philosopher hasn't tried to tackle that one, right? I really don't understand how that applies to parents living in a school district who have been disappointed by its having reneged on a promise, Spangler.

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    2. http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_75_164

      a very famous case.

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    3. anon. http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/427/424/case.html

      gaw. decline of the west. there's an exciting book to dissect at the next sewing circle meeting.

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    4. You walked right into that one 10:46.

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    5. Hokay Mr. Spangler.

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  31. It's a very big deal to accuse a principal and teachers of cheating.
    Requires evidence.

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    1. @8:11- you're right, it should be a big deal. Perhaps the CDE should do an audit? The word of students would likely not be enough.

      Although Sierra Madre school just loves to rub their stunning API in all the other "lowly" schools faces, maybe there should be a closer look into exactly why their scores are so much better. Is it the demographics? Is it that they have far superior teachers than at any other school? Do they have far "superior" parents? Do they garner more PEF funds for special field trips and learning experiences? What is it? Don't they all use the same text books?

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    2. Poverty has got a lot to do with schools that score poorly, nationwide. The more affluent a community, the higher the scores. And you must know different Sierra Madre parents than I do - none of them are boastful; just relieved that there's some success. Everyone knows that Arcadia and San Marino far outrank Sierra Madre in test scores and achievement. Follow the money, again.

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    3. Enough students reporting testing fraud would be heard. One or two? Maybe not.

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    4. I wouldn't say the teachers were cheating per se but a heck of alot of teaching time at SM schools was about test scores - the old school teachers saw it coming and when I had to deal with new teachers just out of school - jeez it was like dealing with the kids themselves

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  32. I'm not certain how sacrificing your children to an atrocious school system can be viewed as a form of egalitarianism.

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  33. years ago, we should have picked Arcadia as the school district

    just like now, we should pick the County Sheriff as a primary police agency, save us a million a year and the piled on costs from defending against the annoying lawsuits by the bratty entitled Police Union and the lack of truly qualifed officers on our force and how we know nothing about our "small town" police force

    except we all know Barney :)

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    1. As Chester would say, "Yes, we know".

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  34. after Ty Gaffney, the SM Middle school basically became a me me me me me me school - favorite parents of the new principal got their teacher selections above others and if you weren't in the "arts" you were a nobody to the Principal

    being a Principal isn't about being a rah rah cheerleader and after Ty we received a Middle School principal who was really only about school plays and concerts, which are nice but aren't the primary focus

    SM would have been better off with the Arcadia school district and maybe we should reconsider it

    In my kid's 10 years in the PUSD system, I can count on one hand the number of teachers and administrators were were impressed with at the school system in Sierra Madre

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