KEVIN LAMM, local school board president: Interview about local school board responsibilities, special programs, hopes and dreams for the future. Visit the School Board Meeting, and meet the other members at Brentano School in Logan Square/Avondale.
00:00Copy video clip URL B-roll of Total Quality School sign hanging on a wall at Brentano Public School in Logan Square. B-roll of another sign that reads: Welcome to Brentano’s Birthday.
00:16Copy video clip URL Audio hum. Kevin Lamm in the middle of discourse talking about how parents can be involved in the school. He says the school is 80 percent Latino, the rest a mix of black and white. He notes the Latino community is an even mix of Mexican and Puerto Rican. He says his daughter is in second grade at the school. The school covers preschool through eighth grade.
02:47Copy video clip URL Lamm tells how he got involved in the school counsel. He was involved in education politics while at college. He noticed that people outside the school administration knew a lot about education issues and reform laws and had good ideas about how to contribute to the needs. He ran for a position in the local school board in October 1989. He says it is made up of the principal, two teachers, two community members without kids in the school, and six parents. The chair of the council must be a parent. It’s a two-year term. It’s a lot of work and no pay. He talks about how much effort goes into being on the council. He notes that at the high school level, high school students can nominate an adult to the council who must then be approved by the school board.
06:49Copy video clip URL Lamm says a lot of what he does is community activism. He grew up in a small town and never lost those small town values. He says some teachers will challenge the council, asking what right do parents who have no experience in education administration have to make decisions as part of a council? Lamm argues the school is made up of their kids.
08:06Copy video clip URL Lamm talks about the kind of decisions the council makes. Most are divided between issues of downsizing and decentralization. The council has a fair amount of authority. He talks a bit about Chapter 1 funding, federal government aid for schools. His council receives close to one million dollars. He admits that’s a lot for one council to be in charge of. We as the council have a great say over how that money is spent.
10:26Copy video clip URL Lamm waves to a woman walking past outside. Lamm mentions the woman was part of a tutoring program in the neighborhood driven by volunteer tutors directly in communication with the students’ teachers. Another program the woman initiated had to do with bringing volunteers into the school to help out.
11:51Copy video clip URL Lamm notes that the biggest decisions the council had to make this year were regarding how and where to spend their budget. They try to spend it on preventative initiatives so that they don’t become problems.
14:28Copy video clip URL He notes that people will come to the council with program needs. He says parents can make a big difference in these issues, but many of them have self-esteem issues.
15:50Copy video clip URL Lamm explains that tonight’s council meeting will be a regular meeting. There are no school board deadlines in the summer. We are going to be discussing forward-thinking issues. The big issue right now is whether or not schools will open in a few weeks. Because of the budget issue schools may not open in the fall. Our agenda is: if schools do not open this year, what happens to all the kids? We need to find places to take care of the kids while parents are at work, and a place that will allow the kids to continue with their education. Community centers and churches are good potential sources as such venues. The council’s job will be to provide volunteers.
20:27Copy video clip URL Change of location. B-roll of the exterior of Brentano Public School as Lamm and the interviewer walk past. Lamm says he’s lived in the area seven years. The area used to be Swedish, Norwegian and Polish. He notes that Knute Rockne and William Paley graduated from Brentano. He notes that during World War II this elementary school sold more war bonds than any other elementary school in the nation.
22:15Copy video clip URL He mentions that the Kennedy Expressway just outside the school is a big concern. Smoke and fumes come onto the play ground. But with an on-ramp being built it will help traffic slow up near the school. Lamm says his council is special because there’s not any petty fighting. No one is a professional on how to be a board member, but they work well together. He notes that one of the most important decisions a council makes is hiring the school principal. Officials at the Board of Ed makes the contract for the principal, but the process begins with the council. They advertised for a principal and had 82 people apply. We had committees set up to look at applications, reducing 82 applicants to 13 and then those 13 were interviewed by another committee. Those were cut down to seven. And groups from each committee got together to reduce the applicants down to the final three for the council to make a choice.
26:55Copy video clip URL Lamm says his philosophy on education is to trust the younger generation. He would like to see the council support the new principal, and bring the community together: a kid’s education, jobs they will have available to them when they graduate, proper housing, etc. He talks about partnerships with community associations, other schools. He also wants the council to help parents feel confident about themselves and about participating in school activities. He talks about how the council helped change the school’s reading program.
31:33Copy video clip URL Lamm and the interviewer walk back into the building.
32:14Copy video clip URL Lamm enters the school.
32:26Copy video clip URL B-roll of a clock on the wall. Audio signal is weak.
32:38Copy video clip URL Audio signal is back and strong. Two teachers identified as Barbara Fritz and Carol are interviewed about the accomplishments of the school council. It has given the school its arts program and computer program, computer labs with new computers. They note that before the council you didn’t have Chapter 1 money. This allowed us to get a new science lab and hire an art teacher. Fritz says she is a liaison between the teachers and the council members. We come to these meetings as an interested party. We can relay meeting info to those who couldn’t make it. Fritz says it brings her closer to the parents, the school, and the students. They agree this council is a little better than most councils. They work well together, listen to our professional advisory committee. They listen to us.
37:14Copy video clip URL Fritz says the school has to open in the fall. The kids must continue momentum with their education. If the school doesn’t open students will lose their enthusiasm of the kids and the parent cooperation. If teachers strike they will come back angry that they had to strike.
38:58Copy video clip URL B-roll of the council meeting. Lamm calls the meeting to order. They start with a roll call, everyone’s name is called. Lamm reviews the agenda, things they will do if schools do not open in the fall. A council member files a report about a homework and bulletin hotline for parents to access class assignments and school activities. Various b-roll.
42:10Copy video clip URL B-roll of a council member taking notes of the meeting. Various b-roll and reaction shots make the conversations and reports choppy.
57:53Copy video clip URL B-roll of lunch sign in the school cafeteria.
58:03Copy video clip URL END