Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Layout

Hope you like the new layout. Maybe a little easier on the eyes.


  1. Paul, a very nice update to the website.

    Question, obviously this is a slow time of year with vacations, almost back to school, et al.
    However, the upcoming contract negotiations should not be swept away undercover.

    Will we hear from the board as a group or individuals do you think about the challenges ahead ? We obviously are running out of money fast. Can we really afford any type of increases ? short term ?

    Also what is the response to some of the rumblings allready about a slow downs, and non participation by the HEA
    and another year of disruptions. I was hoping we would avoid this again. Will the board stand up do you think and say enough allready upfront.

    I would hope that given the economy that we would hear a kids and community first focus from our elected board.

    If not, can we really expect to pass any kind of levy.

    Thanks again for being upfront on how you feel and trying to move things forward in a positive direction. It is why you should have been elected last time, and why we need more members like yourself on the board, versus the HEA endorsed candidates. The community needs to be represented, not just looked at as a cash cow to be tapped when compensation adjustments come up.

  2. Rick:

    Thanks as always for your support.

    The union negotiations are an interesting thing. School Board members come and go, but the folks on point for the actual negotiations tend to be the same people for a long period of time. That body of institutional knowledge and culture which develops is powerful stuff, and it's tough to overcome the inertia of "we've always done it that way."

    In our district, the culture has pretty much that the school leadership doesn't communicate much until the negotiations are over (or until they reach and impasse), and the community doesn't care enough to engage when it's getting close to the end of the contract.

    It's not like that information is hidden after all. People just don't care. One can understand how the school leadership can develop a mindset that there's no sense trying to engage the public because almost no one seems to care even when the school leadership tries.

    Maybe I'm naive enough to think we've got to at least give a try to thinking about this from a consumer marketing perspective. You don't hear McDonald's saying "Hey, we ran a Big Mac ad at 5pm on Thursday a couple of week ago, why aren't more people buying Big Macs this week?"

    You can't do that in consumer marketing. First of all, only a fraction of people would see an ad that runs one time at 5pm on some random Thursday. You have to run it many times to make sure lots of people are exposed to it.

    Then you have to accept that not everyone who is exposed to it will actually watch it, much less remember it. So you have to run it even more in hope that at least once, the viewer will pay attention.

    And then you have to realize that even if the ad makes a person run out and buy a Big Mac, the next day they will have forgotten it, and you have to run a batch of ads once again if you want that person to buy another Big Mac next week.

    After all, is there anyone in America who doesn't know what a Big Mac is? Geez, they came when I was a kid. Still McDonald's spends $millions if not $billions each year promoting them. Because if they didn't, the product would fall of our collective consciousness, and sales would nosedive.

    Same thing with the basics of school economics. The message is simple:

    1. We get our money from state funding and local property taxes. The state part of this is in jeopardy, meaning that an every increasing burden is being placed on the local taxpayers.

    2. The thing that drives our costs is compensation, and it's been growing pretty aggressively for the past decade.

    3. New home construction is a bad thing if it is not matched by an equal dollar amount of commercial development, because it means the rest of us have to subsidize the cost of educating new students by increasing our property taxes.

    If I were designing such a program, I would create three post cards, one for each one of these points. In first month, the "Funding" post card would get mailed to every voter in the school district. The next month, they would get the card describing compensation stuff. And the next month, the one on residential development. Then in the fourth month, I'd start the cycle over, and would repeat it forever.

    Or maybe after one cycle, you'd take three months off, then run another cycle.

    The point is to hammer home a simple message over and over until a lot of our voters have a decent understanding of the basic economic drivers. Then maybe we could have a productive community dialog about what we spend money on and how we're going to pay for it.

    Make sense?

    I've introduced this concept to the school leadership as well, and hope to make the case that we should give this a go.

  3. Paul, thanks as usual for your comments and insights. It is regretable that you would have to even push this.

    At this point no one is going to pay much attention
    (Less than usual unfortunatly which is not a good thing to begin with !) so come back to school I hope to make a plea to the board in an organized
    forceful, passionate and postive fashion that business as usual is going to have to be adjusted.

    Will Mark or Justin ? or anyone else start up Educate Hilliard again as in the past? Summer timeI know is tough but they have done a good job.