By Deborah Brancic, Pasadena Now Correspondent
The Pasadena Unified Board of Education passed several items at the board meeting Thursday night, including the spending plan for allocation of Common Core Standards Initiative Rollout. There was a brief discussion on the specifics of the fund allocation, with a final result being the passage of the plan with no changes.
PUSD Chief Academic Officer Brian McDonald presented the proposed allocation of approximately $3.6 million, a one-time Prop 98 grant apportioned by the state. The spending plan called for roughly $1.6 million to be spent on professional development, about $2M to be spent on technology, and $30,000 to be spent on instructional materials.
Some issues were raised by members of the board, mostly for clarification on specifics of the plan.
Elizabeth Pomeroy, District 5, questioned the instructional material allocation. “Can you explain to me why instructional materials come in at such a very small part? Will there not need to be new materials or new software at some point?”
McDonald explained that since the goal was mainly to move towards more technology-based learning, it was not economical to spend a large amount of money on textbooks. Software and other products that would phase out the need for printed texts were included in the technology section of the plan.
PUSD President Renatta Cooper compared the plan to flying a plane while building it. “I am wondering, are teachers excited about this?” she said. “I know that it is difficult to learn content and then turn around and implement it at the same time.”
“Teachers are very nervous,” said McDonald. He said that currently there was only one instructional coach. Due to the need for teachers to get the proper support during their training, three additional instructional coaches had been written into the plan to support the CCSS instructional shifts.
PUSD Vice President Tyron Hampton commended the plan for providing several resources for a diverse student body, but raised the concern for lack of funds allocated for special needs students. McDonald explained that funding for special needs would be pulled from other sources, and not necessarily from the Common Core funds. However, training for all teachers was included in the plan, which included special education teachers.
Kimberly Kinne, District 1, said she would prefer allocating more money towards professional development, and purchasing the technology with other funds. Superintendent Jon Gundry agreed that it may be a good idea to reconsider the ratio in grade levels that would be going through assessments. Pomeroy said she would like to hear an update on the implementation of the plan in three months, to gauge its progress.
Cooper moved to vote on the plan, after hearing no major opposition. Selinske moved to approve the plan, the motion was seconded, and the Common Core Rollout plan was approved with no changes.