Friday, January 16, 2009

More of the Same?

Reported by the Hilliard Northwest News January 13, 2009:

"By unanimous vote and without comment, Denise Bobbitt continues as president, and Andy Teater continues as vice president of the Hilliard Board of Education for a second year."

I'm not sure which troubles me more – that there was no change in leadership, or that there was no discussion. Surely there was some discussion sometime – somewhere. While I acknowledge that our School Board enters Executive Sessions much less frequently these days than they have in the past, the reduction of time spent in announced Executive Session does not seem to have resulted in more discussion during the public meeting.

I can only conclude that the Board members have developed a way to discuss school matters in some other venue or media than their public meeting (e.g email, phone calls). In this case, one must believe that the Board members came into the meeting having already agreed to return Mrs. Bobbitt and Mr. Teater to their leadership roles, and the public vote was merely a formality.

I'll also admit that I had hoped Dave Lundregan would become the new President of the School Board. The biggest threat to the future of our district is economics – funding vs spending, and I believe Dave has the knowledge and experience to understand these matters best of all the Board members. I would much prefer to have him driving the agenda this year. I'm also interested in knowing whether: a) he threw his hat into the ring, but was shot down; b) he wanted this position but couldn't commit the time (it's not an easy time to be a banker); or, c) he just wasn't interested. We may never know since the real nomination and selection process happened out of the public eye.

All this just amplifies my belief that we have be sure the right three people are elected to the School Board this November.


  1. Paul, also of note it would appear they have their personnel for the
    Audit committee picked out.
    Interesting they did not reach out to the community for volunteers.

    Hopefully we will see some new faces on this committee, I have my doubts but am patiently awaiting that outcome

    Perhaps you can shoot me an email on whom besides your self on the committee is going torun for the board. ?

  2. Interesting, just saw This week paper
    noting cuts in theatre program.
    Was anyone there to make note of this. According to the paper a lot of
    theatre students /participants were there.

    Just wondering with all the increases that are listed each board meeting
    for various positions, that if they held the line they could have saved one position or more.

    Now I know why in consideration for
    awards that theatre participation did not count or carried much weight with the administrators making the decisions.

  3. Rick:

    The slate is still wide open. As I told the folks at the meeting, if the three candidates we come up with doesn't include me - that's okay.

    A tradition of the Boy Scout unit I grew up in was that you didn't complain about anything you weren't willing to fix. That usually applied to dinner on our camping trips (ie - the first guy who bitched about the food got to cook the next meal!).

    Same thing here. Once I figured out that some things were screwed up, the thing to do was to jump in and try to change those things. However, my mission is to change the behavior of our school leadership, not to get myself elected to public office. We need to select and support three electable folks to accomplish that mission.


  4. More of the same? Rhetorical, right Paul?

    Sadly, we all knew 2009 would not result in major changes with the BOE/Admin. One can only hope that the HEA changes and leads the way..... but I'm not banking on it.

    We are heading for a showdown. And it's not going to be pretty. HEA vs BOE, BOE/HEA vs Community, and Admin vs Reason and Accountability. Maybe its the gloomy days of January talking, but I'm not expecting anything new...... maybe I'll be pleasantly surpised.

    From where I sit, the willingness and eagerness of those on this board to act (whether in agreement or not) is the most positive thing happening in 2009!

  5. Never underestimate the head-in-the-sandness of public sector workers. (Note in national politics how Republicans slept even as events pulled the country leftward).

    My sense is that with local politics it's so personal and everyone knows everyone so well, that no one calls anyone out for poor performance. You have to fail in some incredibly obvious way to lose the confidence of those in a position to demote you.

    I think Bobbit and Teater's job security rested mostly on the passage of the last levy. Which they accomplished.

    The real head-scratcher is why the public keeps voting for poor performers. Perhaps it's related to party chauvenism: when I was younger and more naive, I thought anyone with an "R" next to their name was smart and able.

  6. Another thing I shouldn't be surprised about:

    Mayor Schonhardt, who is term limited and therefore cannot be elected to another term as Mayor of Hilliard, now thinks that shifting to a City Manager form of government is a good way to go.

    It's worth noting that Schonhardt is the former finance director of the City of Upper Arlington, which uses that form of municipal government.

    Although the Mayor says he intends to return to private life at the end of his term in 2011, one has to wonder if this is a maneuver to create a way for him to continue to be involved in executive leadership of the City - without ever having to run a campaign again. All you need is enough friends on City Council...

  7. Hizzoner says:
    "The complexity of operations, the challenges of efficiently running a large corporation, may in fact best be vested in an individual who has been trained to accept the challenges and to do so without the inherent political implications that often accompany the strong-mayor form of government," Schonhardt told the chamber audience.
    So is he saying that HE is in over his head as far as qualifications go? And exactly what are the inherent political implications? Coziness with the
    residential developers come to mind for me. I'm betting he is all for the 300+ homes being planned for Hayden Run/Wilcox - line the pockets of the developers, increase tax revenue for the City, and contribute to bankrupting the school system. Thanks a lot!

  8. Schonhardt: the new Putin!? Could be.

  9. Rick, I was at the Board Meeting on Monday for the comments regarding the Theater program. The large (30?) contingent of theater students gathered in the side of the Beacon gym shortly before or during the beginning of the meeting. They were very quiet and respectful, even though they had to wait over 30 minutes during the Davidson, Master Teachers and Beacon Singers recognition. During the open comments from the two staff members, they continued to be respectful and quiet. After the discussion was over, they politely filed out. The meeting ended shortly after, and they were gathered in a circle with the staff members in the parking lot. You can tell there was a lot of commitment and emotion from the group. I felt bad for them.

    Both staff members seemed to indicate they thought the theater cuts were safe since the levy passed. Everyone on this blog was saying for awhile that there were $3 million in cuts coming from somewhere on that list, and obviously it was lost on these people who worked hard to support the levy. In retrospect (and not meaning to be harsh), if the Board/Administration get away with only complaints from this small group for that $3 million, then they got lucky.

  10. Marc, I appreciate your perspective from the meeting. It now allows precendent to eliminate similar programs, especially in the music area, that benefits only smaller amount of students. Many of those programs could be handled through private lessons after all.

    I support a wide range of programs
    provided we can provide the funding. The community has consistently supported increases.
    Somehow I think we as a community will get the blame again for
    "allowing this to happen" andhurting the kids"

    We have a paradigm in this district that somehow a compensation rate
    affects how students are taught.
    So if we contribute less to the overall compensation module, the kids get less educational success

    In the private sector, if you back off your effort because you took a cut, or no increase, more contribution to medical, you get set on a road to be dismissed !

  11. Band directors at the high schools have been cut from 3 to 2 at each, so there will be no new positions created for Bradley HS. Unfortunately, it appears a show band will be coming to Bradley HS as well. Just another example of our administrators not really knowing what they are doing. We are beginning to see cuts that will have large and lasting impacts on our students. It is a shame that we place so little value on what the arts provide. Looking at them as anything other than crucial to the success of our country is foolish.

    Without culture, we will be left with nothing. Cutting theatre and music leads us further down that path.

  12. I think it is appropriate to have a debate as to what should be part of the public school curriculum, and how much should be spent on it. For example, there's no way that the expense put into the performing arts centers or the sports facilities at the high schools should be considered absolutely necessary.

    They might be necessary if we feel compelled to compete with New Albany, Upper Arlington, Bexley, et al, but in absolute terms, they aren't necessary to provide a well-rounded education to our kids.

    And my high school band, which was about the same size as Davidson's, did just fine with one band director. In fact, we were an award winning band, earning Grand Champion in our regional competition my senior year, and receiving an invitation to march in the Cherry Blossom Parade in DC.

    We had no athletic director, just one coach for every sport, although football had two. Take a look at the list of 'supplemental salaries' in the HEA contract, and tell me all those positions are necessities. They aren't.

    We're going to need an attitude recalibration to survive what is apt to be a very tough economic time. The sooner we face up to that, the better off we'll be.


  13. Anon, I do support the music, arts and theatre expenditures. As a former Division 1 athlete, I also enjoy my sports, but we are spending alot of money in that area also. Paul makes a great point on the supplemental salaries
    Everyone should take a good look just at the board agenda adjustments to compensation just since November. There are adjustments that could have been made and might have saved the theatre program issue.

    I have zero problems financing extra curriculars, but as a district and its hugely empowered entities a simple adjustment as proposed can insure we continue to have a wide ranging offering.

    Increasing the contribution rate
    ONLY of the community taxpayer without taking pro active financial actions just will lead to
    eliminating programs like these
    as at some point the community will
    throw up their hands and say enough.

  14. Amazing. There are people who actually believe "the arts" will save our country. No wonder we are going down the tubes.