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A standing room only audience cheered on high-achieving students of various age groups from the Santa Barbara Unified School District during Tuesday night’s Board of Trustees meeting. Dozens of young scholars were honored and recognized as among the highest scorers of the annual California Standards Tests.

The board also got an earful from Kate Smith, self-proclaimed education reform activist, during the Public Comment segment of the meeting.

Smith questioned panel members on whether they were aware of the global “Occupy movement,” with which she has aligned, letting the current 5-member ruling body know that transparency was “not one of their strong suits” during a lively evening. The board also recognized the good work of the District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC), whose President Carlos Martinez outlined the organization’s goals in Spanish, helped by a pair of interpreters. Martinez also described DELAC’s accomplishments which he attributed to the participation of the parents whose children had become a part of the program. Board member Monique Limon praised the group in first Spanish, then English. “I’m thrilled we’re on this pathway because I can see it building, growing,” added Vice President Susan Deacon. DELAC, in compliance with all state regulations, has increased its efforts to provide information to parents in their language.

The board moved quickly through the Action Agenda, unanimously approving the items discussed. One item toyed with the idea of changing the name of the board, while another passed as an approval to cancel the upcoming meeting Tuesday, Nov. 22, because of its close proximity to Thanksgiving. The members decided to retain the Board of Education title, while two parents were chosen as potential parent/PTA representatives on the Measure R2010 Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. Peabody Charter School parent Joe Andrulaitis would assume the post. If there happened to be another Peabody representative on the committee already, then Eric Pedersen would be appointed instead.

Dr. David Cash, Superintendent of the District, unveiled his vision of launching a Strategic Planning Task Force with an inspiring speech during the Conference Agenda segment. The comprehensive 3 to 5 year proposal will focus on bringing in a wide variety of citizens and professionals to support the proposal. Cash and staff hope to have documents and presentations in line by January 2012 that will demonstrate the goals of the new committee.

For the most part, the idea that involves addressing student achievement, violence and discipline was well received by board members, who also made suggestions. “We need some very clear outcomes that are measurable,” said Limon of the program that aims to have students college-ready and bi- or multi-lingual.