Friday, November 23, 2012

Supplemental Materials for the November 26 Meeting

Here are the supplemental materials for the School Board meeting, being held at 7pm Monday, November 26, at Hoffman Trails Elementary School.


  1. Paul,

    Thanks for the material. Why can it only be found on your site. Is it on the web site and I can not find or is it not there. We are building an a innovative learning center but fail to post data to district web site.

    Several levy votes ago we were told to vote for yjr levy because we had or were building an Audit and accountabiity committee, what happened to that effort.

    1. At my request, the District has begun posting the memo from the Policy Review Committee recommending changes to the Board's policies. It is available on the District's website, under School Board > Meetings. No luck so far getting the rest of the material posted, so I'll continue doing so here.

      The Audit & Accountability Cmte has been allowed to atrophy. No new members have been appointed even though the terms of most if not all have expired, and they no longer meet. Apparently their opinions were welcome only as long as they didn't say anything critical.

      I recently wrote a memo to Board President Lisa Whiting in response to her request for feedback regarding the annual retreat, copying my fellow Board members, the Superintendent, and the Treasurer. I hope we will take some time before the annual Organizational Meeting in January to discuss the points I raised, which included not only reactivating the Audit & Accountability Cmte, but forming two more: Academic Accountability and Community Relations.

  2. Community Relations, now that would be interesting. But see you have to listen some as well.

    Audit Committee was heraled but THE UNDERSTANDING IS THEY WERE A BIT TO CRITICAL.

    Also, just for onnce with all the supplemental contracts and amounts, None of us on the outside get paid for any of our OUTSIDe work, we could save hundreds of thousands of dollars if you go back just 5 years. Some of this stuff for 1,000 a pop is an absolute joke.

    Not to mention a lot of time off.

  3. Upon further review

    We are paying out tonight in one fell swoop, over 3/4 of a million dollars in supplemental contracts This is just one meeting

    We have for severe part time contribution staff making
    almost 4,000 dollars for club compensation. How with the severe workload of the staff, can they handle an up to FOUR
    different staffed programs. This for a small portion of time would be 10% over less than 9 mo of a family of four
    making 40,000 dollars or some one making 12.00
    an hour it would take them 8 weeks of full time work

    Doesnt anybody get this as an issue.

    But we are allready forecasting a deficit. And then its about the kids right, and if we dont support this we are against education and kids How about an adjustment or
    are we doomed to the same cowardly past.

  4. I would like an "detailed" explanation of the exact job duties for teachers receiving compensation for IAT and school improvement. As well, I would also like a thorough explanation as to why I see current and "recently retired" staff providing tutoring at a cost to the district? Are we worried that the regular staff isn't "cutting it?" If kids need tutoring then that is up to families to provide for the extra! In the meantime, I know you are making an argument for cutting courses at the middle and high school level that are not "heavily" traveled--yet this scenario (heavy payments for extras at the elementary level) makes me wonder if we should hang on to our "experienced and highly trained folks" because they are carrying the district right now--and our departing super knows it!

    1. You are welcome to ask the Central Office for job descriptions. These are all functions that enter into the culture and fabric of our school district, just as does the breadth of our high school course catalog. We rave about the experiences our kids have in Hilliard Schools, then complain about the cost.

      We have to resolve these conflicting issues. The conversations won't be easy because every program has its constituency which is mostly silent, but becomes very vocal when threatened. This is what the public discourse has become in our country - let's cut YOUR favorite program so that MY favorite program can be continued.

      Maybe we all need to demand a little less, even when it means personal sacrifice.

  5. The governor of our state proposed more stringent guidelines for teacher evaluations that included basing 50% of a teacher’s effectiveness on test scores. The other half is supposed to be a combination of district assessments and collateral information (e.g. things like portfolios, work exemplars, video, lessons, etc.). When I see such a high volume of tutors being hired (and if you review old board notes from years past you’ll see that November 2012 shows a steep increase in comparison) I am concerned that the district is “diluting” the data on teacher performance. The tutors, in effect are picking up the slack for mediocre educators and/or the high volume of inexperienced teachers that the district hired to replace the “mass retirement” for the current school year. How will the community ever know if the ratings of our teachers in the elementary schools are based on their performance or one that has been “propped up” by the district with extra tutoring and intervention services for their students at a further cost to the tax payer?

    1. I think you're off base on this. The 'tutors' in this case are typically the teachers themselves who stay after hours to work with kids who otherwise are at risk of being left behind. I've personally sat in on these tutoring sessions, and have gotten to know both the teachers and the kids. It's part of the investment we make as a community to try to help all kids be successful.

      The gap this fills is not so much the lack of experience in the classroom, it's the inability, or lack of interest, of parents to participate in the educational effort for their kids. Far too many kids go home, jump on the couch, and play video games alone or with their buddies, and put very little effort into simple but powerful activities like reading.

    2. You have GOT to be kidding me, Paul. You are blaming parents for this? On what basis? With what evidence? It's bad enough that the dirty little secret in Colleges of Education across the country surrounds the lack of training we give to educators in terms of how to work with families... and now you are going to further the mythology that it is the parents who are to blame? Come on, man, you are going to have to walk back this comment or lose the respect of a lot of people who knew you back in the day when you were a bit more fair-minded about the SHARED RESPONSIBILITY that MUST exist between students, teachers, and family members.

    3. I didn't say ALL parents fail to adequately nurture their kids, and not all kids need tutoring. And not all tutoring is a consequence of a lack of nurturing in the home. But a lot of it is, in my opinion.

      I'm glad I was born when I was - in the 1950s. When we got off the bus after school, the kids in our neighborhood ran home to check in, dump our books, then went right out to play. If the weather was bad, we had to read a book, or play with our chemistry set, or geez, maybe do homework.

      And I'm glad our kids grew up before video games became big. They too played outside with their friends after school. And every night until they were old enough to read for themselves, we read to them for 30mins. They could recite a large number of nursery rhymes before they could read (and would tell you if you skipped one). As adults, they continue to be readers, both with graduate degrees (one a teacher, one a physician).

      I don't know that I was a particularly good parent. I think I'm lazy enough that had video games been available, I might not have read with my kids so much, and let the video games be their babysitter. I'm beginning to believe that we shouldn't be letting kids play video games - other than education ones - any more than we should let them smoke cigarettes or drink booze. All three lead to addictions and wasted lives.

      I've not changed my thinking one iota about the shared responsibility. I'm just saying that, with only observational evidence from a lot of time spent with 1st-3rd graders over the past few years, one can tell which kids are getting parental attention, and which ones aren't. The very first thing one 3rd grade kid said to me the first day I met him was "Hey, I can reach level 7 on XYZ video game, can you?" Yet he could barely read.

      The primary teachers I'm around constantly ask parents to spend 20-30mins reading with their kids every evening. No elegant methodologies or expensive tools are needed. Just a parent, a child, a book, and a little time....

    4. I regret to say this sounds more like political posturing than dealing with the fact that teachers are ill-prepared to work with families, mixed with misplaced pining for a world that existed only for a portion of the population even in the 1950's. Stop blaming families for the shortcomings of an educational system still lodged in that decade you desire to return to my friend.

  6. With all due respect you did not answer the question: how will we know the true measure of competency and effectiveness of our teachers if we are hiring tutors to fill in the gaps?

    And, now I am wondering if the teachers are already staying after school to tutor why do we need to hire extra staff at all? You lead me to believe that the teachers are doing this for free? That's hard to believe especially given the "empty" school parking lots we see come 4:00pm.

    As well, what data do you have to support your claim that parents are the problem? Did the district conduct some study the public is not aware of??

    And finally, when someone writes to you asking for the "what and how" of why teachers are being paid to do IAT and you direct them to central office--does that mean you voted on a consent agenda without doing your homework? Do you know what they people are doing for 1000 dollars??

    This author has no dog in the fight--no special program to protect!!! I am looking for truth and accountability. I was counting on you to be the one voice who would take time to get the real story.

    1. I don't know how to measure the amount of thought and energy I've put into this school district over the past 6-7 years. The one thing I won't be is a punching bag for those with demands, but who aren't joining me on the battlefield.

      I once had a sign in my office which read:

      "There are three kinds of people in this world: 1) those who make things happen; 2) those who watch things happen; and, 3) those who stand on the sidelines and complain."

      For most of my 30 years in this community, I was of the second kind in regard to community affairs, occasionally drifting to the third. Then I decided to get into the fight. I was thankful to find others similarly motivated, and grateful to have been supported in Nov 2009 when elected to the Board.

      I could have spent the last three years fighting ideological battles, and been totally ineffective. Or I could pick a few key issues, and concentrate my efforts there. I believe I've had some influence with that approach.

      That main issue is the same as it has always been: times are a'changing in regard to fiscal resources and our ability to operate in the future as we have in the past. We have our own 'fiscal cliff' coming, and the sooner we accept that and deal with it, the better.

      Otherwise, the next couple of years in our community - when we have to negotiate a new teacher contract and pass a new levy - are going to look like our Federal Govt: first denying there is a problem, then blaming the other side, a finally being unable to find reasonable compromise because partisan politics are more important than the country.

      The battle isn't over supplemental contracts and stipends - it's about the number of people we employ and how much we pay them. It has to be solved in the context of an overarching strategy, which realistically aligns desires with resources. There are solutions all the stakeholders can live with, but we have to be willing to show some tolerance and flexibility.

      No one is going to get 100% of what they want.

  7. The challenging issue in all of this is that after I spoke publicly about 1. tabling the allocation, or 2 setting up an advisory committe with the board and public members that the best question I got back was, are you sure your numbers are right. I did the quick math and came up over
    750,000 and then 800,000. Not sure why with over 10 pages of spending, that the total could not be listed at the bottom, instead of having the taxpayer figure it out. Is this not what we pay people for.

    As I stated at the board meeting MOnday in public participation, I dont think any one wants to see a lot of this go away. It is the cost we are paying to do whatever it is they do, and I am not sure anyone at central office or in the buildings wants to come clean on this.

    My point was we are allready projecting a levy, but wont look at cutting these stipends, and some staff are collecting 4,000 per year, thats 9 mo. really, for multiple duties, which I find hard to believe that with all the academic duties someone has time to handle 4 to 5
    individual commitments. Something is rotten in Denmark and if the district is going to threaten cuts then here is the first place to start. How about 500 dollars for Safety patrol, and Mentors, do not get me started on that one with multiple mentors in schools. Dept Heads, and we can go on with Multiple positions. In the private sector
    this does not happen

    Paul, if the board is going to play hardball with the voters on cuts, and cant see that some of this garbage is
    just padding pockets of the chosen few, then we have bigger problems then what we are letting on to.

    Unfortunatly the newest board member continues to the 4 to 1 vote and let me say I told you all so. Another rubber stamp.

    Again, I am calling for an advisory committee or someone
    to chalenge this spending.

    The final kicker to all of this is that this is only one
    meeting where the supplementals are approved. We are going to be in the millions of dollars on this, no joke
    and so please dont tell us its about the kids.

    And weight room duties are and should be part of the coaching salary. An extra 4800 per year for this compensAtion is ridiculours. And there is no oversight
    on how much time is supposed to be covered to get this compensation.

    The first cuts coming will be met with the above response as an absolute waster of taxpayer dollars with no accountability.

    Wake up, another 7 to 9 mill levy will soon be upon us when it can be much less if anyone starts paying attentionand holds our fiscal spending in check

  8. All,

    I would like to share my thoughts here on parent responsibly and involvement this has become part of the discussion of Paul's current blog post. The following is an excerpt from a draft letter (was significantly shortened) that wrote to the local paper recently:

    "In predicting student success, dedicated parent involvement can be more significant than teacher quality or dollars spent per student. As an example, the following is a performance comparison of 2 actual districts (District A and District B) in central Ohio using 2011 data from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). District A was among the lowest performing districts in central Ohio at 59% OAA/OGT student proficiency while spending $14,996 per student. In contrast, “District B” was among the highest performing districts with 93% of its students testing proficient while spending just $9,602 per student that year. Both districts have a majority of “highly qualified” teachers (master’s degree or better) on staff. So clearly spending more money and having highly qualified teachers does not ensure student performance."

    At my kid’s high school over the years, I have noticed that the majority of the parents that you might see at the end-of-year academic awards ceremonies are usually the same parents that you would see attending “meet the teacher night” in the beginning of the year or parent-teacher conferences throughout the year. On average those kids are not necessarily any smarter than others but they achieve at higher levels and realize more of their academic potential because more than likely education has been made a priority in their lives.

    One of the areas that I would love to see the board take on is being more proactive in encouraging and engaging district parents/stakeholders in academic performance/progress of the district. The ultimate mission of the district is to provide a high-quality education to our students. I believe that Paul's suggestion for forming both an Academic Accountability Committee and Community Relations Committee could provide needed transparency, accountability, and independent liaison for district stakeholders that is currently not being provided. In addition, these committees could help answer to the question “how well is the district performing its ultimate mission of education and to what efficiency with the financial resources it has”?

    Steve B.