Home > Education, FUSD, New Media, Police State > PFLAG, ECONA and Budget Discussion

PFLAG, ECONA and Budget Discussion

By Elisha Dorfsmith

When I last wrote about FUSD, I left you with a cliffhanger…the promise that at the next board meeting, PFLAG would be giving a presentation asking the board to support a proposed school bullying policy. Unfortunately for them, at tonight’s work session, board president Paul Kulpinski requested that the presentation be given by board member Miguel Vasquez. A total of 7 people were in the audience to support the policy including local activist Lisa Rayner.

Mr. Vasquez started off by saying that he attended a recent open house at Sinagua and a counselor there told him that bullying is a considerable problem. Vasquez told the board that bullying affects not only the victim but also 90% of students who witness bullying. He also suggested that bullies are victims too. Vasquez went on to say that bullying not only affects children at school but also at work, home, and on the street. He never clarified how FUSD should address the bullying problems outside of school.

According to Mr. Vasquez, bullying leads to the diagnosis of several different mental illnesses including ADHD and Bipolar. Makes me wonder if the district will get any bright ideas and decide to send bullied students to the mobile health van so they can be diagnosed and drugged for their bully induced disorders.

Vasquez admitted that current programs and policies in the district work well but he suggested that they are not comprehensive enough.  He said that Homophobia is an issue but the biggest problem in Flagstaff is gender identity and presentation. He used examples of male students being harassed for wearing kilts or black nail polish. The district must “embrace a culture of acceptance” he said.

Classmates were not the only ones who were faulted for bullying. “Teachers can be more ignorant and more harrassing than students in some cases”  Vasquez stated.

Mr. Kulpinski asked what kind of solutions Mr. Vasquez was looking for. Vasquez reiterated that the district must start by creating a “culture of acceptance”.  He also suggested adding language concerning gender identity to the district’s discrimination policy, changing wording in school forms which place the burden on the victim and educating teachers.

Several times during the presentation, Ms. Hickman jumped in and tried to lead the conversation toward cyber bullying. She seemed to be very frustrated with privacy laws that didn’t allow teachers and school staff to search students cell phones. Mr. Bavasi said he was pretty sure the supreme court had recently ruled that you don’t need a warrant to search a cell phone. He said he was not suggesting that the district go that route but he wanted to throw it out there. Mr. Vasquez said the district should add language to their policy that deals with cyber bullying.

The board agreed to request and analyze data that had been compiled on bullying in the district. At a future work session, the public would be invited to speak and PFLAG could make their case. Mr. Kulpinski said that it could take some time but they would start working on it.

If anything can be taken from this presentation, I think it is pretty safe to say that if the school board does adopt a new policy that includes a “culture of tolerance” and requires teachers to accept everything from kilts to black nail polish,  you can pretty much kiss the idea of school uniforms or a dress code goodbye forever.  Rejoice my Gothic brethren!

Up next was a presentation by board member Chris Bavasi on ECONA (Economic Collaborative Of Northern Arizona). Mr. Bavasi is the current chairman of ECONA and he said that the district really needs to sign on to this program and get some “skin in the game”. Businesses, private organizations, and government branches are all joining ECONA in an attempt to promote economic growth. They will accomplish this through better communication and working together to lobby Washington. He said that the district would need to contribute a little “change” ($1,000-$10,000) if they wanted to have a voice on the education committee. All board members seemed to be enthusiastic about the idea.

Lastly, a budget presentation was delivered by Budget and Finance director Ken Garland. He reported that the district saved an estimated $2,154,057 by closing schools in 2010. He went on to give a best and worst case scenario for the fiscal year 2012 budget.  Contrary to the gloom and doom scenarios we have heard from the district, best case scenario, the district is ahead $1,650,000. Worst case, they are in the hole $1,700,000. We were also informed that an increase in class size (currently 22.5) by 1 student per class would save the district $900,000. By my math, an increase in class size to 24.5 would solve even the worst budget crisis in 2012. I am sure many will try to dispute this information so if anyone wants to discuss these figures in more detail,  please feel free to post in the comments section of my blog. I would be happy to talk about it further.

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

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  1. February 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I like the kilts. Been considering these: http://www.utilikilts.com/

    Our son’s theater arts class was asked by Safe Schools to create and perform an anti-bullying play. They have spent all January on it and will be performing for all the schools in the district on Friday with a public performance Friday night (in Page). There are many ways to address bullying; medicalizing it does not sound particularly effective. Until kids are not bullied by those in charge, though, I doubt we will see an end to it. Parents and authorities might not see themselves as bullying, but it happens all the time. Let’s see, forcing a kid to show an authority hir cell phone… not bullying? sheesh Can’t see the forest for the trees. :/

  2. February 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    It bothers me that school administrators are so anxious to violate the privacy of children. Kinda reminds me of this story:

    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local-beat/School-Spies-on-Students-at-Home-with-Webcams-Suit-84712852.html

  1. February 8, 2011 at 9:12 pm
  2. September 15, 2011 at 9:25 am

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