Lost gem of the DPS board meeting: free wi-fi for some students

After the smoke cleared from the shit-show that pretends to be a school board meeting last night, a week after they hired The Ohlmann group to manage their marketing starting last Wednesday, there was one really important new program launched by DPS, led by Dr. Markay Winston.

You didn’t see it in the Dayton Daily news, because the story was the controversy over buying out former Chief of School Innovation David Lawrence for “over $200,000” because Rhonda Corr is our own version of Donald Trump- if she doesn’t like you- you’re fired (except as much as they try to turn their board meetings into reality TV- this is a government organization that actually enters into legally binding contracts that have to be honored. Corr and the board will have to deal with this issue again when either this board or the new one, decides to dump Corr and she wants her contract bought out).

So what was this big news that didn’t make the news, or get a proper PR roll out? The program that isn’t on the DPS website, the one that can’t even get the meeting time published correctly?

Slide about Dayton Public Schools Virtual Academy

“Marketing” via Dayton Public Schools

DPS is starting a home school e-learning program where students can enroll in DPS and get a DPS diploma, and participate in DPS extra-curricular activities, get a DPS supplied computer, and even get free wi-fi.

Wow.

The rest of the students, who are using their new 1 to 1 computers in school, and may be able to bring them home next year (I’m on the technology steering committee and have been pushing for this from day 1), will not get free wi-fi. However, Dr. Baguirov who likes to take credit for rolling out the program in record time, under budget with amazing success says they are still looking at costs for providing mobile hot spots to students who don’t have wi-fi at home, but the costs are high.

Winston had a lame deck Dayton Innovation Virtual Academy Board Presentation Feb 21 2017 which was clearly not done by a professional marketing firm. Had the board known what an ad agency does, this would have been rolled out in a way to get free press, and make a big splash- instead of the headlines being about another Rhonda Corr failure. See the provided slide image- does that look like an exciting new program you’d want to enroll your kid in? Does it look like it’s run by professionals? None of the other slides in the deck could stand on their own as an explanation of what DPS is doing.

E-schools as they are run in Ohio are a scam. If they were compared to the worst public schools, and the worst charter schools, comparatively- they make the worst public schools look like Harvard. Virtual schools are virtually unregulated and the results are a mixed bag. The largest, ECOT- the “electronic classroom of tomorrow” is bigger than Dayton, but has graduation rates that make DPS look awesome:

With its most-recent graduation rate of 38 percent, few districts in the state rank lower. Only 35 of the roughly 700 traditional school districts and charter schools that serve high-school students have a worse outcome, and most of those are other statewide e-schools and charters that exclusively serve dropouts.By comparison, Columbus schools’ most-recent graduation rate was 77 percent. Cleveland’s was about 64 percent.

Phillis said it’s astonishing that ECOT continues to escape the scrutiny of lawmakers despite meeting only three of the 24 possible state testing and graduation standards, receiving F grades in all but one category. ECOT got a D in the performance index, which is an index of state testing performance.

Source: Popular ECOT poor performer

However, while DPS keeps bragging about their single non-F grade, an A in annual yearly progress, at least ecot has a D in state testing performance. We all know the saying “when you’ve hit bottom, the only other direction is up” is the true meaning of that A- not that they are successful.

Even though my firm didn’t win the marketing bid- I think I’ll still do the job that the people they hired didn’t do- properly promote this new program.

The information sessions for Parent Information Sessions DPS Virtual Academy will be as follows:

  • Northwest Library: 2410 Philadelphia Dr
    Feb. 27 from 10 am – 12 pm (West)
  • Board of Education Community Room
    Feb. 28 from 4-6 pm (Central)
  • Burkhardt Library: 4680 Burkhardt Ave
    March 7 from 10 am – 12 pm (East)
  • Madden Hills Library: 2542 Germantown St.
    March 9 from 4-6 pm (West)

Make sure you tell them where you heard about this new program if you chose to go.

 

How bad decisions are made by the Dayton Public School board

“Did we ask to do this?” was a question asked last week during a protracted Dayton Board of Education meeting? This was during an hour long discussion about awarding a contract for marketing the Dayton Public Schools for the next four years.

During that discussion, board members suggested they use students to create the materials (one would wonder if that’s been the case over the last 20 years). Others didn’t know why they needed marketing at all. Joe Lacey didn’t like the use of the word “slick graphics” by the remaining person in the “public information office”- the one that couldn’t show them what they were purchasing. You know- a presentation on who they chose and why. The purchasing department that had run the process couldn’t do much better. And, when asked why they didn’t have an actual contract to look at before they voted, the board attorney tried to tell them that if they saw the qualifications- it could lend to bias, and wasn’t legal.

UPDATE

Wed. morning the 22nd, Forgot to mention, that the “Learn to Earn” board was mentioned in the Dayton Daily the morning of the 20st- for putting out an RFP to hire an ad agency to connect with the community and let them know all about their programs. Of course, they only have to reach about 1,500 parents each year, but at least they know what and why they need competent advertising. My firm will not bid the contract because we don’t believe in quasi-public organizations spending tax dollars without voter oversight.

The Preschool Promise board approved a large marketing plan this week, including plans to hire a vendor to run a “field campaign” for grassroots outreach in Dayton. Board member and former Dayton Mayor Clay Dixon said the marketing approach “is of the utmost importance.”

“That is actually how we’ll go out in the community, shoulder to shoulder, eyeball to eyeball,with the parents to make sure they are aware of the program, aware of what we do to get those kids into one of our quality programs,” Dixon said.

The board’s request for proposals for field campaign vendors is going out this week. Lightcap said the vendor will hire people who know Dayton’s neighborhoods and can build relationships with community partners, all in an effort to connect with the families who would participate in expanded preschool.

Source: Preschool board plans marketing blitz

That’s when I interrupted and called her a liar. And was supported by another staff person- with an Request for Qualifications, which was what they used to select a “winner”- the point wasn’t to compare actual proposals- but, the skill sets.

That the purchasing department misrepresented the amount of the contract on the agenda as $112,500 instead of the actual $300,000, was another problem, that they didn’t care to call the staff on.

Tonight, the school board published their “board docs” saying the meeting started at 6pm. Only when we got there, they were a half hour into it. Competent PIO’s and board secretaries wouldn’t make that mistake. Especially since this was the actual business meeting- the one where they were supposed to vote on business.

And vote on some sticky business they did. After, Dr. Walker mis-ran the public speaking section giving some speakers up to a half hour at the podium (and no- it wasn’t me). We’ll have that story after we edit some of our video. There is supposed to be a 3 minute limit. It should also apply to board members. The meeting ran from 5:30 to 9:05 before they went into executive session.

They couldn’t make up it clear what they were doing about an intervention specialist that they hired at Dunbar who used to be a sub. She’s working on her PhD, but is 9 credits short of a teaching certificate. They hired her knowing that- and so she bought a house, a car, and now has no job- and two kids at home to feed. Apparently, this district isn’t smart enough to know how to get her enrolled in Teach for America- where no teaching license is required.

Then came the issue of paying off David Lawrence to go away because Superintendent Rhonda Corr doesn’t like him. This has been subject of executive sessions for months. The buyout had been agreed to- and yet, here they were, waiving the 48 hour rule to vote because their staff can’t publish an agenda with the right start time, or in adequate time to not have to invoke the rule.

Dr. Baguirov objected, saying the waiving is for emergencies- something he didn’t protest last week when they did it to hire The Ohlmann Group to do their marketing. Then he and Joe Lacey objected to spending $200,000 to buy Lawrence out- when he could have been used in the district (had it not been for Corr being intimidated by a competent black male). The vote was 4-2 to send Lawrence away with what was contractually due him. A huge loss to the district- as board member Lee stated. In fact, the last thing I said to them as I walked away from the podium when I spoke was “you should have hired David Lawrence.”

Here is the text of my speech as written from tonight:
There is a 48 hour rule for a reason.
There is also reason we have an elected school board.
It’s your job to hire a superintendent, and a treasurer, and to run checks and balances on them.
Tonight you are waiving the 48 hour rule again.
It’s fitting that you are doing it to pay the home-grown competent internal candidate for superintendent you passed over, to go away. Because the current superintendent didn’t like him.
But I guess you were ahead of your time- picking a leader for our district much like the one our country ended up with. You know the one that brings huge protests out over their actions.
Remember her Reduction in force- based on numbers that no one was able to verify- including your treasurer, who you are re-hiring tonight.
The treasurer who was over the purchasing department that ran the process that extended 6 months- and you waived the 48 hour rule last week to execute.
If you were doing your job, and your due diligence before you voted to approve a contract for a year, with multi-year options, on something as important as marketing services for your failing school district and it was run competently, I wouldn’t have watched and recorded video for an hour of discussion about a contract that you eventually voted 5-1 to approve, with John McManus being the only no vote, and Mr. Lee being absent.
The contract, which was supposed to be awarded on Sept. 20th. When you actually came around to vote on it, on November, 1, you chose to not award because the process of the request for proposal was flawed. You had 5 bidders, and were about to award it to the most expensive bidder.
This time you used a Request for Qualifications, a different contracting vehicle, although it still asked for many of the exact same details, just in a more convoluted manner.
This time, you only had 3 bidders, and once again, the recommendation of your superintendent, was to award to the same, most expensive bidder.
When you had questions about what you were buying, why you were buying, and why it was necessary, your superintendent sat there- and at one point, even asked you for guidance to what you want. You still bought it.
The purchasing department couldn’t legitimately explain what you were buying. Ten days before you voted, at 10pm on a Saturday night, there was an email issued saying that “Responses have been evaluated and results provided for review and determination of a recommendation to the DPS Board of Education. It is expected that the recommendation will appear on the Feb 21, 2017 business meeting agenda.”
So, what I learned last week is that you had homework due in 17 days, but, your staff decided to change it to 10 days. They either never provided you with anything, or they did and you all decided not to do your homework, based on your confusion last week.
The waiving of the 48 hour rule on a million dollar contract, the fact that the agenda outright lied about the amount of the contract- listing it at $112,500 instead of $300,000 – “because it was pro-rated” as an excuse to mis-represent it to the public.
The public records request I filed the next day, still hasn’t been fulfilled as I speak, a week later. So I can’t tell you what you bought or didn’t buy last week either.
What’s even more important, is that you did it at a meeting that didn’t allow for public comment. So, yes, I was out of order when I interrupted and called your staff lawyer a liar. One of your staff confirmed I was right. That you voted on it- after learning your attorney was misguidingly stopping you from evaluating qualifications for a qualitative contract, is negligence.
You had every right to review all submissions of an RFQ, and to see the contract you bought.
She still has her job.
Your purchasing person, still has her job, and now, I am going to question if any of you are fit to carry out your duties other than Mr. McManus and Mr. Lee. There needs to be an investigation into the ethics filings of Dr. Baguirov and if his private business does work with CareSource, and why the board was never presented with offers for the Patterson Kennedy site as well.
This School System needs you performing your due diligence it’s what the kids deserve- because, as your superintendent loves to say- it’s all about the kids-
which should prove she has no business in her position-
it’s also about our professionals, our city, our future.? And by blindly awarding a very large contract, you shouldn’t be a part of that future.

End of prepared speech.

After tonight’s meeting, Baguirov called me a liar to my face over questioning his business relationships and non-disclosure of all his businesses in the video about the real estate deals. He still thinks I’m a lobbyist for some real estate developer- yet won’t say why the vacant land isn’t being auctioned. Corr shot daggers at me for much of the meeting- and was particularly pissed when she saw Dayton Daily reporter Jeremy Kelley talking to me. She really doesn’t like it that she’s the one to blame for the buyout of Lawrence’s contract.

This board, under Walker is a model of incompetence. The meeting management was totally lacking. They couldn’t even figure out what they were voting on, nor could the audience follow. Compare their use of “Board Docs” with the simple agenda’s used by the Dayton City Commission and you can quickly see the why this district is dysfunctional- and the public being left out of the process or misled by the incompetence of their leadership and staff.

There are people pulling petitions like sharecroppers pick cotton. Hopefully, come next January, we’ll have four new, competent board members and this kind of chicanery will end.

 

Why politicians make lousy real estate developers and vice versa

Other peoples money. That’s the key to real estate, and especially real estate deals managed by those we elect who are supposed to be working in our best interest.

We’ve see stupid deals in Dayton for a long time, and they seem to slide along into oblivion in the mind of the public. No one got hoisted by their petards on the Arcade deal, or the Arcade tower, or the Wayne Avenue Kroger, or…. the list gets really long.

Let’s just say this: politicians raise bad real estate deals to a new art form. And locally, there are plenty of failures. However, it would appear that the deals by the Dayton Public School Board of Education may take the cake. This is a long video. But, it should make it pretty clear that there are serious questions about the deals they’ve done, the ones they’ve refused to do- and who’s been driving the deals- and questions about his entanglements.

We look closely at the site downtown on E. First Street where Patterson Co-op once stood, a greenfield, ready for development, and the site on Wyoming at Alberta where Patterson Kennedy Elementary once stood- near Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton.

We’ve spent the last two months pursuing this story- and trying to figure out why Dr. Adil Baguirov seems to be the only member of the Board of Ed- including the school superintendent, that knows what’s been going on when it comes to these deals- and we’re wondering if this is by design.

If the schools wanted to optimize the value of these vacant properties, the key factor would be what property taxes will the development generate to the district in addition to the sale price- nothing else.

Watch the video. We’ll post supporting documents later.

Here is “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap” featuring the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education, the Dayton and Montgomery County Port Authority, the former DPS operations Chief John Carr, the DPS board attorney, Jyllian Bradshaw and CareSource.

It takes time and money to do videos and research like this. If you value exposing Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap, please consider making a donation: www.esrati.com/donate.

DPS to waive 48 hour rule to hire ad agency for 4 years

Full disclosure: My firm, The Next Wave, did some work for the new superintendent Rhonda Corr last summer. At the end of the proposed solution was a pricing matrix that included an option to take over the complete marketing operations of the district, that were being handled by 3 people (2 of whom retired Dec 31, 2016). An RFP went out that was so badly constructed it lead me to write this post: Hiring An Agency: The R.F.P. Guide (for Governmental Organizations). The board was supposed to vote to pick an agency on Sept. 20, and work was to begin Sept 21. They blew that date, and on Nov 1. 2016 the purchasing department under treasurer Hiwot Abraha tried to push the district to hire The Ohlmann Group of Dayton, who were the high bidder. The number isn’t showing anymore on BoardDocs but if I recall correctly it was over $360,000. The board refused. Dr. Baguirov even questioned why the bids always go to large firms, and pass over veteran owned businesses (like mine). Some of this was covered in the post: The calamity named Rhonda Corr

So here we are again. The treasurer launched an RFQ this time, just as convoluted. There was no award date, nor was there a set time frame. They capped it at $300,000. There was no guarantee of award. It was supposed to be a request for qualifications, but asked for solutions- much like an RFP. They wanted everything submitted as an attachment- the language looked like it had been run through a cut and paste machine from several other RFPs. The purchasing department has zero expertise in hiring creative firms. The due date was January 20 2018.

There was a single communication to bidders at 10pm on Saturday night Feb 4 2017:

Dear Responders: Thank you for your interest in DPS Request For Qualifications for Comprehensive Marketing Services. Responses have been evaluated and results provided for review and determination of a recommendation to the DPS Board of Education. It is expected that the recommendation will appear on the February 21, 2017 business meeting agenda. Selected firm(s) will be contacted to negotiate contract terms and conditions.

Lie number one was that the results were presented to the board of education. Lie number 2 is that it will appear on the Feb 21 agenda.

It’s now on the Feb 14 agenda- with a request to waive the 48 hour rule, and award it once again to the Ohlmann Group, this time, for $112,500 with 3 1 year options for a total of $450,000.

If you look at contracts presented to the Dayton City Commission, you can actually examine the contract that they are about to approve. In this case, all we see is this boilerplate:

Contracted services to provide Comprehensive Marketing Services for DPSD to include, but may not be limited to Public Relation Services, Print/Media Design & Management, Marketing Consulting Services, Social/Digital Media Services , Web Development, and other services to be determined by a defined “Statement Of Work.” Effective February 15,2017 thru February 14, 2019. To include three (3),one (1)-year options to be exercised at the sole discretion of OBOE. February 14, 2017 Board Agenda

Compare this to the text of the Nov 1 attempt to hire Ohlmann for over 3x more:

Contracted services to provide Comprehensive Marketing Services for DPSD to include, but may not be limited to Public Relation Services, Print/Media Design & Management, Marketing Consulting Services,  Social/Digital Media Services, Web Development, and other services to be determined by a defined Statement Of Work” Effective November 1, 2016-thru October 31, 2017. Funds to follow

And the public can evaluate these and weigh in how? With the 48 hour rule waived each time?

Of course, the public didn’t get a chance to weigh in on the 3 year contract awarded to Rhonda Corr either- which came as a surprise a few weeks ago, and basically, paid her as much as they were paying Lori Ward- who actually got them out of academic emergency and never caused the community to practically shout down the school board over mid-year reductions in force.

Considering the second RFQ talked about a rebrand, but didn’t specify timelines, budgets, all I can ask is how can DPS afford to hire Ohlmann Group who charged the City of Dayton $25K for a logo that looks a lot like what Fairborn bought for $20K. That’s about a quarter of their first years budget for DPS, gone.

There is no reason to skip the 48 hour rule to start this contract. It’s just an attempt to make sure the public and the school board, doesn’t look closely at this.

I’ll be putting in a public records request to see the bids and the score sheets, for both rounds. It’s time to shine some sunshine on the DPS procurement process.

Amateurs. School boards and quasi school boards.

If you have lots of meetings, it’s hard for people to pay attention. That’s been the modus operandi of the Dayton Public School Board under Dr. Adil Baguirov. Meetings were long, and many. Last night, where they had to pick a new president and vp and parliamentarian, the meeting ran 2 hours, and then into executive session for at least another 2.

Note- the president doesn’t make more money, has no more power, and has no extra duties other than to run the meeting. The district is run by the Superintendent, who is well paid to be the voice and leader of the school district. So, why it took 2 hours to do that is a pretty good indication of what’s wrong. They even had a long argument about their start times- so this year, their meetings will begin at 5:30 instead of 5pm. Sheila Taylor suggested they put an end time on their meetings- to be fair to the employees who have to be there, to be fair to the board members who don’t get paid more- and to try to put a damn cap on the long pontificating from the dais that became the norm under Baguirov. She was shot down.

She also voted as the only no to appointing Dr. Robert Walker (Div.) as president and Dr. Hazel Rountree (Ph.D.) as VP. I kept waiting to hear her resign in her later speaking opportunities- it was clear she had no faith in Walker.

Most bizarre was the speech by John McManus, who basically ushered Walker to the center seat- saying he’d promised to support Walker and would vote for him, but, if Lacey or Walker couldn’t get 4 votes, he’d step in…. really?

One change, it seems DPS is now going to record all meetings, but they take forever to post them, despite having the tools and bandwidth to do it in real time.

We recorded last night.

If you are looking for insight on how they are going to solve the RTA busing issue, don’t look here, they are still saying it’s not their problem and that they can’t organize a solution because of liability issues- both, untrue, especially next week when the state does count week for attendance for funding.

But as crazy as the DPS board is, we may have a new champion in amateur hour- the “Learn to Earn” board which is now in charge of $4.5 million a year from Dayton taxpayers thanks to the passage of issue 9. To start with- they meet in Riverside, not Dayton. And while they have managed to publish their meeting schedule, they haven’t published minutes, or much of anything on their website. They still have Lori Ward as the DPS superintendent.

We sent our video genius to try to film their first meeting- so the public could see exactly what this unelected body will do with your tax dollars.

First meeting- they got a lecture on the Sunshine Laws- from someone from “Nan Whaley’s office”- here’s that excerpt:

 

Every one who is interested in Ohio politics should learn about the Sunshine laws. Especially school board members (hint, hint).

They get to spend their money anyway they want- unlike the DPS board. So hiring consultants like UD Professor Richard Stock is not a problem for the Learn to Earn (or help our board earn) board. Stock is one of the people who helped guide the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission on the abomination that is Austin Landing- with its two tier tax structure (only the little people pay taxes there).

Stock catches himself trying to self-edit, since this is a real public meeting- and, oops, maybe he shouldn’t share the facts that the pre-school promise won’t make a bit of difference to the residents moving into Dayton’s new tax abated projects- singles, empty nesters- not parents with kids- at least not parents with good jobs with kids.

The reality is, this board has to waste tax dollars, duplicating a lot of the things that DPS already has in place- finance, HR, health benefits, legal counsel, purchasing, video of meetings etc- as well as a website… that all are overhead- to help give money to people who have 5 star pre-schools? Really? Remember, DPS has the most 5 star pre-schools, and they aren’t at capacity- and have to scrounge for money.

The entire meeting is here:

Lastly, and most important- the pre-election report from  Neigborhoods for Dayton’s Future.PDF was the last filing of the organization that paid for this tax funded quasi-public slush fund. They have still not filed their post general election filing. You can see the big dollar donors in my last post about this.

Until they publish their campaign finance report, they shouldn’t be allowed to meet, or to spend any of the funds- in the name of Sunshine. Also, they need to provide minutes, organizational documents, and their articles of incorporation etc. as well as disclose all expenses. These are public tax dollars at work.

We’ll tape the Friday meeting, but after that, they should have to pay someone to do it. And, maybe, they should consider having their meetings in Dayton- since it’s our money, and our city they are working for- meeting in Riverside just doesn’t cut it.

There ain’t no “F” in Dayton: Time for DPS to get serious

Leaders are able to communicate a vision of a desirable future. They don’t do all the work- they just point the way.

Dayton Public Schools and the Dayton Board of Education haven’t ever been able to tell the story of why you should send your kids to their schools. You know, the ones with the big fat “F” is every category (except for the one time A in annual yearly progress- which is pretty easy when you are on the bottom.).

The board president believes that the one-to-one computer initiative and computer guided learning is the answer, but, just passing tests, day in and day out, isn’t what school should be.

The new superintendent thinks that changing personnel is part of the solution- never mind the fact that we’ve been losing about 20% of our staff every year.

The community just passed a tax levy to support “the pre-school promise”- as if pre-school is the golden ticket.

We’ve got bigger problems than pre-school in Dayton. Back on Valentines day 2015, I posted A plan for the Dayton Public Schools and it garnered a whole 21 comments (most from the regulars). It had many of the same ideas that are in this video, but, the reality is- half the people read, and half watch TV.

So, here is a video, to show the feeble minded un-marketers at DPS how you effectively tell a story about a vision of what could be (if we were doing the work for them- it would have a different slant- but, since they refuse to hire people who can actually market them- T.F.B.).

Please share. Please discuss. Please do something other than the same old half-baked solutions- because, we’re running out of time for Dayton.

Fallout from Issue 9 passing?

Starting January 1, 2017, Dayton residents will pay 2.5% income tax up from 2.25% income tax. Believe it or not, the residents actually voted to raise their own income tax believing any one of several lies:

  • It’s for the kids, because we are going to fund the “pre-school promise” of free pre-school for all.
  • We’re going to keep essential city services and add 20 police officers.
  • The tax is mostly paid by people who don’t live in the city so it’s like legalized theft- taxation without representation.

With this increase we pay the same as Oakwood. We don’t have their schools, their housing values, their public safety forces, but we pay the same. This causes a problem for Oakwood, who used to survive on the .25% gap between rich CEO’s living in Oakwood and working in Dayton that they could collect- now- all the tax goes to Dayton- leaving Oakwood to either raise their income tax- or stop forgiving all of the income tax paid to outside jurisdictions- or raise property taxes. Brookville has already said they won’t forgive 1% of any other jurisdictions- so if you live in Brookville and work in Dayton- you’ll be paying a whopping 3.5%

Just remember that John Kasich lowered your state income tax .25% because he’s such a great guy- and stopped giving money back to all the local governments- which has put them in this bind.

As to Dayton- the quasi-governmental “Learn to Earn” people who are just charter schools in disguise will be getting somewhere around $4 .5 million a year for the next 8 years. They are allowed to keep 20% for overhead. They were funded by a mysterious PAC which didn’t file their post election report- but their pre-election report showed that this effort was well funded by all the people who manage to not pay real-estate taxes. We will see if the BOE posts their report late tomorrow.

The average donation in the pre-election report was $1873.00.

Connecting the dots?

When I saw that East End Community Services just announced a big building for a new pre-school, I said- ah ha, thank you Issue 9.

East End Community Services is seeking financing to build an $8.3 million, 44,000-square-foot child and family learning center at the intersection of Steve Whalen Boulevard and Wyoming Street in the Twin Towers neighborhood — on land that could be donated to the nonprofit….

The learning center project would consolidate existing East Dayton Head Start classrooms and services done now at several sites, and if completed would grow the group’s space to seven classrooms for infants through pre-schoolers, with the children’s programs specifically managed by Miami Valley Child Development Centers.

Source: East End Community Services proposes $8.3M expansion –

Since there are no restrictions on these tax dollars, could this be one of the places Learn to Earn will spend the money? And- will there be parity across the river?

Adding police and cutting police

Miami Valley Hospital has been a benefactor of Historic South Park and the Fairgrounds/Rubicon neighborhood for the last 15 or so years. Subscribing to the idea that if the neighborhood around them is a slum- and riddled with crime, they may have a hard time attracting nurses and doctors to come to the hospital late at night (need an example- see Good Sam).

They funded the Genesis project and rebuilt the Fairgrounds neighborhood- subsidizing the housing for their employees- and making promises that the houses wouldn’t become student housing. Of course, they lied on the second part- as multiple homes have become very profitable Single Room Occupancy housing for some landlords who seem to be exempt from city law.

They also funded 2 community based police officers- actual Dayton Cops who only worked our neighborhoods. That was a big part of why Historic South Park was able to turn around- and be one of the few neighborhoods where property values actually increased- while the rest of the county tanked in the aftermath of the Wall Street real estate meltdown.

They have recently stated that they will stop funding our CBP’s in March. Why pay for Dayton cops- when:

  1. Dayton voters just voted to pay for more cops
  2. MVH has it’s own private police force and chief who have all the same powers as Dayton Cops- but don’t have to report to anyone elected or be subject to the same sunshine rules on their actions.

The neighborhood is devastated by the news. The new police chief at MVH- another former Dayton Cop- is thinking he just got more men under his command- which in a cops mind is like getting a bigger gun.

As if we didn’t notice…

And the myth that the higher income tax will continue to be paid by the businesses in Dayton who have employees that live outside the city- is all well and fine, except we’ve seen the growth of jobs at Austin Landing and Pentagon Parkway- where there is no income tax for white collar workers. In the long run, that 2.5% vs 0% figure is great for developers who want to build office parks on farm land- and is horrible for a city trying to fight its way back.

The worst part about it is that to encourage companies to locate in Dayton, the only tool left to entice them is handing over property tax abatement that adversely affect Dayton Public Schools- which are the number one reason why people with kids move out of the city if they can- leaving the district full of kids in poverty- that require more wrap-around services to effectively educate. It’s a vicious circle- and Dayton can’t seem to learn from its mistakes.

There are solutions, but they won’t come from City Hall, or other elected leaders. In the next few weeks, you’ll learn about some of them here, on esrati.com

Time for an accounting of the Dayton Public Schools Treasurer

At the parents meeting Thursday night, Dr. Adil Baguirov cited yet another set of figures for student and money loss, now claiming the loss is closer to $3 million- and that the students discrepancy was off by 8 students. Yes, we know that student counts vary, but the funding shouldn’t yo-yo like this mid-school year. He also claimed that the reserves aren’t at the sacred “10% level” needed for bond ratings from the same losers at Wall Street that ranked junk securities AAA and threw this country into economic chaos- and then in today’s paper- their treasurer, Hiwot Abraha, claims they are on track.

At Thursday’s meeting, DPS parent Dave Fanjoy asked, given howmuch money the district has in reserve, why DPS chose to make the cuts in the middle of the school year.

Baguirov pointed out that the district’s bond rating was recently downgraded by one agency, in part because its reserve levels might be at risk if there was an economic downturn.

“Their requirements are always above 10 percent of the revenue in the budget,” Baguirov said. “We do not even have that 10 percent as of today.”

DPS Treasurer Hiwot Abraha confirmed Friday that DPS does narrowly have more than 10 percent in reserve today. According to the five-year forecast that the school board approved a month ago, that figure was just over 11 percent this past summer, and is projected to march upward to 13 percent this coming summer, 15 percent in 2018, and 17 percent in 2019.Asked about those numbers Friday, Baguirov pointed out that DPS had been below that 10 percent level in recent years.

Source: Dayton school cuts may be delayed

It seems that Baguirov and Abraha can’t get their figures straight- and the district has suffered a huge PR and credibility blow- because Abraha can’t give the board legitimate numbers. This was never a problem under former Treasurer Craig Jones who wasn’t retained by this board- and is currently suing them for not following the law on his dismissal. The 19 fired “administrators” from Nov 8th- may have the same basis for lawsuits.

But, if we need proof that Abraha’s office is a mess, a parent just called me to share that her $250 transportation check from the district (compensation for driving her kid to a charter school instead of using DPS buses) bounced- and she was charged a bank fee- that the district will be liable for.

It would seem that besides not being able to manage an RFP for marketing services properly, or giving the board correct info on loss of dollars or students, the treasurers office can’t keep their accounts balanced either.

At this point- it should be easy to fire the treasurer, but the public should really be looking at firing the school board. There has never been this much turmoil in the district- and it comes down to the Board’s hiring of Rhonda Corr and promoting Hiwot Abraha- instead of keeping Lori Ward- who took the district out of academic emergency (but Corr got a $7,500 bonus for it) and keeping the steady financial hand of Craig Jones.

If you need further proof that the public has had it with this board, the staff has had it with Corr, note that a video posted of a parents meeting has 37 views in 12 hours, without me promoting it.

Other than Baguirov spouting off new “numbers”- the interesting parts are he responds to my question about the para’s firing this upcoming Tuesday- with “we probably won’t fire them until summer,”

If you need an indication why the district can’t keep jobs filled, this kind of inspiring statement should be all you need to know.

There is also an exchange between the parent who was disrespected by Joe Lacey and Dr. Hazel Rountree and Ms. Hazel, where she blows off the parent’s concerns for being talked to like a child in front of her child. As Hazel sits in denial, people chime in “watch the video”- which went organically viral on Facebook with over 5,600 views and almost 150 shares within days of posting.

And as that conversations ends, Dr. Walker apologizes for the boards behavior, but doesn’t apologize for the RIF (even if the numbers were wrong).

At some point, the public should be able to get a full and honest accounting of not only the costs of the bad marketing, that caused the loss of students, which created the funding shortfall, which caused the RIF mid-school year in an emergency that caused the loss of faith and respect of all involved and brought massively bad PR to the district and has employee morale at an all time-low.

Maybe a bounced check will be the final straw that broke the camels back.

Dayton Public Schools Board of Education meets weekly because….

Last night I went to a Dayton Public Schools Board of Education meeting. It began at 5 pm, it ended at 8pm. Most of it was in executive session.

Why did they meet? Was it because Dr. Adil Baguirov couldn’t stand the fact that John McManus was still President Pro Tem until they met again?

Or was it because they needed to discuss yet again the layoffs of the para professionals – the action they tabled at the Nov 17th meeting- and Dr. B stormed out of, because he’s so anxious to fire people.

It certainly couldn’t have been to watch Judy Spurlock the head of HR give a presentation that would have had her fired from any professional organization. She just had to provide the excuse- because there was nothing for the board to learn, to act on, to advise on, to direct, to….

The meeting was held outside the board room, around a big square table. No microphones, no video by the board (just me) and a bunch of highly paid people sitting around with nothing to add. This kind of meeting is why meetings get a bad rap.

Dayton Public Schools state of HR presentationThe presentation was titled “Human Resources: An update” and was 9 slides using a template suitable for a funeral invitation. This is the norm for DPS presentations. No standard templates from a brand standards manual- because a brand standards manual doesn’t exist.

Not only were the slides a ramble, with no clear deadlines, actionable items, or decision trees- they were read to the group. To make matters worse, Ms. Spurlock sounded like she had one foot in the grave- thanks to some sort of illness. She didn’t even have control of her presentation- instead, having the board secretary advance her slides.

They were all uploaded to Board Docs just before the meeting- as JPGs- which aren’t ADA compliant (American’s with Disabilities Act) which also means they weren’t searchable.

Typically, corporate presentations include a title, a date, and the organization name on every slide- these didn’t. After I mentioned the omission of the PDF- it was uploaded.

What did we learn from Ms. Spurlock?

We learned that a half-a-billion dollar organization didn’t have standard operating procedures for standard HR tasks: posting jobs, interviewing, hiring or enrollment. There is no system, other than an outdated Lotus notes app to manage certifications, professional development, or evaluations. That the process for firing people- which seems to be very critical right now- doesn’t really have a process for exit interviews, collection of DPS property, or even what to do with their email accounts, passwords etc. In other words, we’re dealing with an organization being run by people with systems from the eighties- maybe.

Flowcharts would be really helpful in defining the workflows- but those weren’t presented. We learned they use CASNET- without defining what it was. It seems to be some kind of document scanning and archival process. No one asked how it fit in with other systems- if they even exist? It seems that this organization hasn’t heard of ERP- Enterprise Resource Planning, maybe that’s the norm when you turn an Elementary School principal into an HR Director.

I guess I’m qualified to teach physics, because I stepped foot in the Science building at WSU a few times too.

They’d looked at one piece of software- “Search Soft”- but had ruled it out because it wasn’t user friendly. Was a specification written? Do we know what they are looking for? I sit on the Technology Steering committee- do you think this has come up? Nah.

They will launch PD Express in summer of 2017 to manage their Professional Development. Again- the presentation didn’t inform the board of costs, length of contract, where the content was coming from. I’m sitting here wondering why they aren’t using the same tools they use to teach their students for their professional development- Google Applications for Education- GAFE, why there is even a spot on the web talking about it. Of course, because this is a meeting for board self worship- those of us in the peanut gallery who would ask this question- aren’t allowed. In business, we call this “eating our own dogfood.” In Dayton Public Schools, we call this buying what some other district bought, because no one we’ve hired actually knows anything about IT, Web Development, Cloud apps, ERP, Open Source Software etc. etc.

They are planning on evaluating evaluation software in Jan of 2017. They’ll form a committee. Amazing that the outline of the goals and objectives aren’t already specified and presented- just, “hey, we’ll form a committee.”

Then we talk about “Customer Service” where we want to redesign the HR page. Really? The district just spent over $90k building and rebuilding their proprietary site with a local firm. If it’s bad after that much money, why is the person in charge still employed… oh, right, she’s retiring in 30 days, and the RFP for marketing and communications support is still not awarded.
And the redesign needs to be  “Visitor Friendly and Easy of Use.”

We also need to redesign the office to make it more appealing and have private areas. No photos to show the flaws, no sketches of new floor plans, no budget for changes, no request to hire an architect, nothing- just we don’t like our offices.

But here is the kicker- now we announce how great we are for hiring over 220 new teachers. Considering the teaching staff runs between 800 and 900, this means that there has been nearly a quarter of the staff turned over in one year. In most organizations this would send red flags. Here, the board is happy- and ready to fire more people, while promising to hire new people.

Gee, I really want to work for this organization said the new teacher. Never.

The final slide was about reading specialists and bus drivers. Sort of like talking about Lawyers and Janitors at the same time- only distantly related as in they both clean up shit.

The pie in the sky information on reading specialists brought some edu/speak jargon from the superintendent, and Dr. Rountree, who is convinced that all teachers in Ohio are reading specialists- at least they were when she came up- back in the days of chalk boards and capital punishment. I still don’t know what a “RIP Band” is- and I’m sure none of the board does either- I googled it- nothing.

As to transportation- we’re still short drivers. We fired all the supervisors. If we can’t get the kids to school or home, does any of this matter? Was there a chart of how many we need, how many we have, what we do when people don’t show up- hell no.

But, this is the norm for presentations from Dayton Public Schools staff. No substance, no actionable information, no key, no goals, random format, poorly labeled. With no clearly defined next steps.

The next step for citizens is to meet on Thursday Dec 1, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Corinthian Baptist Church 700 S James H. McGee Blvd, Dayton to discuss next steps.

For the board, they should have posted their agenda for the Dec 6th meeting by noon Dec 1- where the fate of the paraprofessionals still hangs in the balance. This was punted from the Nov 17th meeting- so, there is no excuse for not knowing what’s coming.

One of the things that yesterdays meeting did, was end the possibility of reversing the actions taken at the Nov 8th meeting where 20 “administrators” were fired or terminated. That number isn’t really right, since some reverted back to their teaching positions- which may have effectively fired someone else- and at least one, Linda Stagles, the grant writer who didn’t bring in any grants, is being allowed to retire quietly- a courtesy not extended to Challenger Learning Center director MariJane Recob. After the second meeting, board policy requires a crazy 6 votes to rehire instead of just 4 or 5.

If this district wants to establish trust, and build confidence in the community, a new respect for the people and their time and money needs to be put in place. Meetings should cover real issues and involve substantive discussion, and create actionable plans. Meetings shouldn’t be held, just so the board can go back into executive session to argue over things that subvert the power and authority of the Superintendent. If you have to discuss her recommendations that much, you must not have that much faith in her.

It’s time for a new level of transparency and honesty in our district. It has to start with the timely posting of the next meetings agenda- including groundrules for citizen participation.

 

 

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Time to file an injunction against the Dayton Board of Education

I produce a video that goes viral on Facebook, showcasing the bad behavior of board members Joe Lacey and Hazel Rountree. I produce another video that asks the viewer to compare and contrast the leadership styles of Dr. Adil Baguirov and John McManus– which gets a fair number of FB views in a short time.

Both videos end with a call for parents to be at the next board meeting, Dec. 6th- to protest their bad behavior and the coming cuts. It was unclear if the public would be allowed to speak at this meeting, since it wasn’t the normal business meeting, but, then again, they shouldn’t be conducting business at non-business meetings.

Today, a meeting is first called for 29 November 2016, notifications by Cherise Kidd, the board secretary, at 11:23 am. I write a post. This meeting pre-empts both the parents meeting on the 1st- and the meeting on the 6th where it was unclear if citizens could speak.

Then at 4:48 pm Kidd sends yet another notice: The meeting is at Dec 6th, and people will be able to speak.

Then at 5:03, another notice, the meeting previously scheduled for Tuesday Nov 6th- will be held on “Thursday November 29th”– which according to my calendar- the 29th is on a Tuesday- and Thursday is Dec 1. But- minor details. When you are incompetent, you are grossly incompetent. And, “Public comments will not be heard at this meeting. The Board will allow comments from the public at a special meeting being held December 6, and at the regularly scheduled Business Meeting.”

I’m not even sure Baguirov is allowed to schedule these meetings- they came out of executive at the long meeting- with McManus as President Pro Tem. Until they go back into executive session, or vote in a public meeting, Baguirov isn’t president, McManus is. His term ends Jan 1, 2017- but, there is nothing saying this can’t be changed now.

In a Dayton Daily news article by Jeremy Kelley, we learn the layoffs will be discussed in exec on the early meeting- Tuesday or Thursday of next week- and then the vote will be at the Dec 6th meeting- and citizens will be able to speak. That’s unclear via the public notices and agendas.

At 6:34 pm on Friday the 25th, there is still no agenda on Board Docs for this meeting that is so important. How are people supposed to keep an eye on an organization that plays these kinds of games?

The board is losing credibility by the minute.

These kind of shenanigans only further prove that this is an organization in full blown panic mode.

As far as I’m concerned, the notification process has been botched. The meeting wasn’t called legally, and the next meeting should still be the 6th.

Of course, maybe this next meeting isn’t about the layoffs, but the mess they made on the non-sale of the Patterson-Kennedy School site for more than the minimum bid?

Or could it be to end the reign of terror and confusion caused by Rhonda Corr as superintendent?

Those might actually be more pressing than the layoff question.