"Why did the writer not mention Mr. Honowitz's rude and disdainful behavior during school meetings? Mr. Honowitz regularly rolls his eyes, makes noises, etc., when Mr. Miramontes and I are giving our views on some subject before the board." - Pasadena Board of Education Member Scott Phelps in a March 2011 letter to the Pasadena Weekly
In response to the recent announcement regarding school construction funding cuts, the folks from Organize Sierra Madre's Schools are encouraging anyone who can get away to attend the PUSD Facilities Sub-Committee Meeting today at the Education Center's Lower Level Conference Room, located at 351 S. Hudson Avenue in Pasadena. The time is 3 p.m., which pretty much means most parents won't be able to attend. Which is probably the point.
Bill Coburn, bless his wandering soul, has written what is probably the most revealing passage of news reporting on this situation so far. It pretty much nails the PUSD's strategy for dealing with these well-meaning but obviously over-matched parents. That being to basically manipulate, and then ignore them.
At the meeting, counter-proposals to the District's 20% across the board cuts will be considered. OSMA has been attempting to prepare a counter-proposal for presentation, however, they have been unable to get numbers from PUSD that are necessary to produce a proposal that properly responds to what is currently proposed. Since it appears this may be the only opportunity for such a counter-proposal to be presented, OSMS is asking that parents and supporters to attend not only the Facilities Sub-Committee Meeting, but also, tomorrow night's PUSD Board of Education meeting, at 5:30pm, Board Room 236, also at the Education Center.
A fascinating, yet so typical, move by the PUSD. Let's lay it all out here in three part harmony.
1) Schedule a meeting where counter-proposals can be presented, but hold it during working hours. Most PUSD parents will not be able to attend because they can't leave work.
2) Limit the possibility of an appeal to just that one badly timed meeting.
3) Deny parents any of the information they need to write their counter-proposal.
Lovely, lovely people. And then, just in case you don't already have your suspicions about where all that Measure TT money has actually been going, Bill shares this nugget with us:
Also on the agenda for Tuesday's Facilities Committee is the approval of a $300,000+ salary for the consultant who is overseeing this bond-reduction project and $239,000 for the architects.
A cool $539,000 in Measure TT money that could have gone to the schools, that is if we are talking one architect. All of which will now go to the individuals who will help to administer the 20% in "across the board cuts." I wonder, what would that percentage of cuts figure be without all the consultant fees? Both these, and all the ones that have gone before?
If it was only a nightmare, then at least you could wake up.
Who would have thought that when the Pasadena Unified School District was pushing for the passage of $350 million dollar Measure TT, it would have come to this someday? This certainly wasn't what they were saying back in 2008 when they were asking for your vote.
Here is what PUSD activist and spokesperson Peter Dreier had to say in an opinion piece published on October 30 of 2008 in the Pasadena Weekly (click here):
Our young people deserve schools that enhance their learning. Forcing children (and teachers) to work in rundown schools sends the message that we don't care about them.
Measure TT is needed to meet basic safety codes, expand computers in classrooms, make energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable repairs and upgrade classrooms, science labs and athletic facilities.
Measure TT, which will beautify our neighborhoods, increase property values and invest in our children, will also have immediate and long-term payoffs in terms of improving the business climate, expanding opportunities and reducing crime and social tensions.
Our PW scribbler all but promised Measure TT would also cure male pattern baldness and hives.
Peter Dreier, in case you are not aware, has an interesting political history. If you go to his Key Wiki page (click here) you can read about his efforts to lead the Democratic Socialists of America organization to the forefront of our national political discourse back in the 1990s. Like Measure TT, it failed to achieve its stated goals. Though for very different reasons.
Peter also wrote the PUSD's "Argument In Favor Of Measure T," which can still be found on the Pasadena Unified School District's website. It is basically a lightly rewritten regurgitation of his Pasadena Weekly article.
Finally, we have obtained an e-mail sent to various concerned Sierra Madre public school parents, and written by Bart Doyle. Bart, who is described on one admiring Facebook page as an "all around SM School advocate" (which is a pretty good indication that the fox truly is in the henhouse), describes his conversation about the Measure TT cuts with none other than Pasadena Board of Education President (Emeritus) Ed Honowitz himself. Here is one of the more opaque passages from Bart's e-mail.
Ed was very specific in saying that the initial 20% across-the-board approach is probably not workable for several reasons. First, reducing the number of classrooms at the SIMS contradicts adopted BOE policy on the restructuring of MS programs and the geographic reallocation of students around the District (i.e., increased enrollment at SMMS). Second, there are a number of technical funding issues with the initial architects' proposal, such as the proposal to move forward with classroom renovations at Washington when the funds for replacing all the windows were budgeted to come from rehabilitation/renovation funding that is no longer available. Third, the BOE is committed to expanding career/tech programs at the high school level and has not had an opportunity to determine what specific facilities needs, if any, that the expansion of these programs will require to be met.
Any of that make sense? Of course not, it isn't supposed to. The real intention of this boilerplate of baloney is to baffle the innocent. Something reinforced in the next passage. Note also Bart's ineffective role in the non-retrieval of the information Organize Sierra Madre's Schools had requested for today's meeting in Pasadena.
In terms of process, this item MAY appear on the May BOE Agenda, but only as an information item. Ed thinks this analysis is going to take months and months to complete to complete and asked for suggestions on how they could establish a process to obtain effective feedback from the campuses. The communication problem is not unique to SM. I told him that you had requested basic information to permit a fully-informed discussion at the SM Site Council, forwarded him the earlier e-mails where you requested the cost information, and asked if he could make appropriate inquiries to ensure a response.
The process will take months and months, eh? Of course it will. That is what "the process" is all about. Drag things out until everyone has given up, and then do exactly what it is you intended to do all along. And just how deeply concerned is Ed Honowitz about hearing what it is Sierra Madre's parents have to say regarding the heartbreaking news that promises made to them about their children's education will not be honored?
Ed is going to South America for two weeks unfortunately and will miss the next Board meeting.
You can't make this stuff up. The broken promises of Measure TT, $350,000,000 that we'll be paying for out of our property taxes for at least the next several decades. No wonder Big Ed is heading south.
Late Update 10:20 am
An email went out from Organize Sierra Madre Schools this morning. Important new information is now available.
We need your help even more urgently today.
After nearly four weeks of requesting budget information that Robin Brown presented at the last School Site Council meeting, we received the information from him last night. After spending a little time with the numbers, which showed cuts to the Sierra Madre Middle School project totalling about $2.6 million, it became evident that there was a major flaw.
The budget that the District has been working off of for our middle school site was the original budget for the school when there was going to be a renovation project, not the new budget that should have been drafted once it was decided that the project would actually be a complete tear down and rebuild. I have sat in a lot of meetings ever since Measure TT passed in 2008, and I only ever received verbal information about the difference in costs between the renovation project and the new school project. But the difference is significant. The renovation cost was to be $38 million and the estimated costs for the new school varied between $21 - $25 million.
Organize Sierra Madre Schools desperately needs your attendance at tonight's meeting.