At a recent Las Vegas City Schools work session, two teachers from Robertson High School made a presentation to the board. That was no big deal in and of itself, until I found out why they were there, and who they represented.
I learned that at the direction of Superintendent Romero, an “advisory council” of teachers had been formed that was chaired by the associate superintendent, LeeEtte Quintana.
What struck me, in addition to what Gary Leger and Benny Ortiz had to say, was that two teachers were in direct discussion with the decision-makers, that is, the school board. They were there to inform the board of issues that teachers have in the district!
As someone who learned in a previous life that true collaboration can be not only be a good workforce motivator, but also facilitate the implementation of new policies, especially policies that people on the front lines (teachers) have to implement, I sat there thinking what a great idea in these difficult budget times.
I later inquired with the administration if I could attend a council meeting, and was graciously invited to do so on March 2. As stated, the associate superintendent chaired the meeting and all the members were in attendance representing their various schools: Charmaine Griego, Early Childhood Center; Erlinda Lujan, Legion Park Elementary; David Chester, Los Niños Elementary; Martina Tapia and Mary Jean Aragon, Memorial Middle School; Bernice Martinez, Mike “Mateo” Sena Elementary School; Benny Ortiz and Gary Leger, Robertson High School; Theresa Chavez, Sierra Vista Elementary School; and Anne Sanders, Paul D. Henry Elementary School.
On the agenda for that meeting were:
• Presentation at the next School Board meeting by Charmaine Griego.
• Input of students grades into the district’s computer system. Discussion involved problems with the server accepting data input, and the potential for better computer software.
• Dates for upcoming “Student Based Assessment” testing, that is, the days of the week best suited for testing students in math, reading, science, and writing.
• Notification of a “Beauty and the Beast” performance for kindergarten, and grades 1-3 at Ilfeld Auditorium, funded by an Elementary Arts Grant.
• An Earth Day presentation by Jane Goodall.
• Review and comments for the superintendent on the 2010 - 2011 School Calendar; a vote by teachers will determine the final schedule.
• New issues, including the significance of savings from the new energy-savings policy; supplies for classrooms; the increasing costs of standardized testing; and the cost to schools for support of the municipal political forums and election.
The council has also been involved with development of other district policies like the student dress code, food services menu, truancy policy, and budget issues.
Additionally, members collect issues from their peers at their schools and bring them to the council for discussion and recommendation. In turn they communicate the results of council meetings with the principal and teachers at their schools.
The council provides a direct line of communication between the teachers and the superintendent and board, not filtered by intermediate layers of the organization.
In tough budget times, rumors often surface and spread quickly, and in the end can damage the morale of the district. Empowering teachers with an opportunity to serve on the Las Vegas City Schools Advisory ultimately brings their skills to the table and makes them part of the solution. In my book, a big score for the Cardinals!
Frank Splendoria may be reached at 575-387-6166.