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 There is no system, other than an outdated Lotus notes app to manage certifications, professional development, or evaluations.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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Bullies on the Dayton Board of Education

In yesterday’s installment, we asked which board member was better suited to run board meetings, Dr. Adil Baguirov or John McManus. From comments on Facebook where the video has over 700 views and 17 shares in 24 hours, it’s pretty clear the public would like Dr. Baguirov to relinquish the center seat.

Today, we feature bad behavior by Joe Lacey and Hazel Rountree. Lacey makes it personal, since he used to coach the parent’s child. The child was there as he unloads on her mother.

Both Lacey and Rountree ran unopposed last time- along with Dr. Baguirov and Ron Lee. To replace them on the school board, you need 350 valid signatures of voters in the SCHOOL DISTRICT (note, the district doesn’t align with Dayton, with parts of Harrison Township included, and doesn’t include Forest Ridge for example). Petitions are due around August- 90 days or so before the November election.

However, after this bad behavior, resignations would be happily accepted. When board members resign, their replacements are picked from a pool of applicants who submit their candidacy, by the remaining board members. Sometimes this backfires- it’s how William Schooler ended up on the board over 8 other possibilities.

There is no need to repost the entire conversation from Facebook, but Mr. Lacey is still in denial that the reason Horace Mann is full in every grade except the 4th- is due to a screw up by Associate Superintendent, Student Services Sheila Burton Ph.D. Instead of 80 or so kids, they had 18. This loss of 62 potential students at one of the district’s best schools- cost, using Dr. Baguirov math, half a million in revenue.

Dr. Burton still has her $120K a year job, while the district that can’t get enough bus drivers- fired three bus driving supervisors to save a few bucks.

There has been no feedback on the missed opportunity to sell the Patterson Kennedy site for $900K where there may be 4 bidders waiting. While Dr. Baguirov has said we may need that land for expected growth of downtown students- reliable sources tell me that discussions in the sixth floor offices have been had about closing several schools- Horace Mann, the Boys Academy being 2 of the 5 or 6 in the mix.

Dr. Baguirov also has stated that the price CareSource paid for the Patterson Coop site was great. However, the parking lot behind Masque recently sold for $2M. The Patterson site was not only bigger- but shovel ready. Who knows what’s under that parking lot.

Back to our bullying video. The problem with Mr. Lacey’s comments that they invite public input at the “Business meeting” – this was a review session- and yet, they were conducting business. Firing 20 people. The purpose of these review sessions, and executive sessions, are so you can properly inform the public of actions, without having to waive the 48 hour rule- and conduct business in an open and transparent fashion- as the Ohio Sunshine laws dictate.

Instead- we’ve got some dictators on the board. Time for them to go.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

There is a meeting being organized for parents and interested parties to prepare for the upcoming Dec. 6th School board meeting. More info to follow. It will be at Corinthian Baptist Church.

A tale of two meetings: Dayton Public Schools

This video speaks for itself. Large crowd at both meetings.
Who would you want to lead your organization into the future?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

McManus was President Pro Tem- after Baguirov walked out of executive session that went 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The audience began to chant “come on out”

A lot of speeches were made. We put the whole thing up as a youtube video so you can embed it starting when ever you want.

We pulled a few speeches out for you:

Jamont Matthews

Thomas Nealeigh

And your humble scribe:

There will be more videos on this subject coming.

It’s time that the Board of Education, the new superintendent, the senior staff, realized that they will be held accountable for their actions.

Disrupting the classrooms mid-school year, firings without justification, contracts not awarded, bad PR, refusing legal offers for vacant property, and last but not least, taking credit for the work of others in getting them a single A among a sea of F’s.

 

Let there be light. A video about Dayton’s misplaced priorities

First there was CityWide development- a quasi-government organization that sucked up tax dollars to fix up a house here or there. 30 years later, it’s a fricking bank, building spec buildings that it rents for sub-market rates and hurts local property owners who try to compete. This is the worst of governement.

We don’t vote on who runs CityWide, we barely pay attention to it. And we’ve never asked for our money back- because, well, it’s supposed to come back as the “vibrancy factor”- as in, if we fake looking successful, we’ll be successful. You know people like this- it’s called “fake it till you make it” and if you don’t “make it” – at least you look good doing it.

Then we added the Downtown Dayton Partnership. At first we paid a snake oil salesman a ton of money to “revitalize downtown”- until he ran out of town on a rail, and we started using it as a place to park people we liked and wanted to pay well with no real oversight. We even passed an extra tax levy to fund them. Their major contribution 15 years later- they hire a company from out of town (out of state really) to pay people minimum wage to be “ambassadors” (a fancy name for street sweepers) to keep downtown clean. Their big twice a year parties- Urban Nights, are done with- after mobs of kids of the wrong color decided to come en masse.

Next up, the Port Authority. What’s this? They build buildings for rich private companies, but don’t have to pay property taxes on them, because “we” own them. The idea is, we get income tax from them, so it’s all ok. Can’t give the money to the Dayton Public Schools, because they, well, suck, but- we can give money to city government, because, they do such a great job (at getting themselves and their friends re-elected).

Throw in the Dayton Development Coalition for good measure. They take care of our Congressman (and they used to take care of his now X-wife- remember “Get Midwest”)- because, well, he makes money come back to the companies we built the buildings for that don’t have to pay taxes. You shouldn’t pay attention to these people either- but if you’re wondering why Wright State is in a bunch of trouble, look to former Port Authority and Dayton Development Coalition “leaders” who are right in the middle of it.

So now, we’re supposed to raise the already high Dayton City Income tax to 2.5% because a bunch of the people who either get handouts from government, don’t pay taxes, or have been buying the people in power off for a long time, put a few hundred thousand into a campaign to tell you that you need ANOTHER quasi-government slush fund to pay for pre-school for all.

Let’s be clear. All of Dayton’s eligible four year olds is about 1,500 kids each year. That’s about 1 % of the population. But, Dayton Public Schools, a public system, with lots of oversight, already provides FREE pre-school that’s “5 star rated” to about 400 students and isn’t at capacity. If they had some more money, they could provide transportation which would boost their numbers.

But, no- along comes Dr. Tom Lasley, with his “Learn to Earn” program. He thinks that if he gets every kid into pre-schools, even if they are run by someone in a house, and are “three star” or more, he’ll dramatically change the educational outcomes of Dayton Public Schools.

This is hooey. No amount of pre-school preparation are going to solve the fundamental problems facing Dayton kids. Hunger, homelessness, drug addiction, parents incarcerated, pre-school doesn’t fix that. “Learn to Earn” is a phrase I personally find revolting. I learn because I love learning. To me knowledge and education are a form of worship. It’s how we evolve. It’s not how we earn. This phrase, when applied to our community that is disadvantaged in so many ways, reminds me of “Work sets you free” which was what the Nazi’s put on the gates of hell. I don’t make that comparison lightly.

The four to five million that we will donate to “Learn to Earn” may provide pre-school to another 500 students- but the real bonus is to the staff – including Dr. Lasley, who will spend 20% of it on paying themselves and for overhead. Next up is all the pre-schools that will now be able to get public money for day care- for anyone- not even poor kids, who are already covered by Title 20 money. That’s right, if you live in Dayton, and make $200,000 a year, you can have “Learn to Earn” pay for your child care while you work third shift at Miami Valley Hospital. They didn’t tell you that part.

Of course, Issue 9 is also going to pay for more cops. Let’s talk about “more cops.” Dayton used to have a force of over 500. We are at near our lowest staffing levels ever. But, there are probably 600 cops in Dayton now- the problem is they work for the people who are giving money to this campaign. The hospitals all have private police forces, the universities all have private police forces, MetroParks has a private police force. They don’t answer to anyone. Need a clue how this works Dayton? Ask Samuel Dubose. Any more questions?

And while a small business can’t get their parking lot access restored on North Main Street- because “there is no money available,” the City of Dayton has money for buying back the hole in the ground on Ludlow. And, we always have tax abatement plans for companies where the CEO’s annual salary has two commas in it. GE, CareSource, Emerson, Premier Health etc.

If we were going to raise taxes and wanted to improve our neighborhoods, and do something for all of Dayton- we could invest in free wifi city wide. All of the 15,000 Dayton Public School students will have their own computer next year- but many don’t have internet access anywhere but school. Bridge the digital divide with that money and you open the flood gates to online, self-guided learning for 15,000 kids- instead of preschool for 1500- and guess what, we can even let the taxpayers use it too.

Believe it or not, the United Nations Human Rights Commission declared internet access a fundamental human right back in 2011. No one declared preschool one.

Watch the video. Share the post. Vote no on issue 9.

We can raise taxes when it’s actually for the people, by the people, not another sell out to private enterprise.

Medical marijuana in Ohio: a false positive

Welcome to Ohio, where medical marijuana is now legal, except, you can’t get it, use it, sell it, grow it. Only in Ohio folks, where despite being a democratic state in the last 2 presidential races, we’re run by a bunch of goober republicans who are beyond reckless in their pursuit of petty control over everything that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, while the important stuff gets ignored.

They rushed through their medical pot legalization after a bunch of rich assholes tried to get the voters to create a constitutionally guaranteed monopoly on pot sales in Ohio. Luckily for once, the old adage of “never underestimate the stupidity of people in large numbers” didn’t hold true and voters told the future barons of pot to go smoke their stuff somewhere else.

Unfortunately, the legislature has now made pot legal, and then, put it on the legislative slow boat for the next two years. In the mean time, states like Colorado are rolling in dough off taxes on legal pot for all. We’re still locking people up for possession- as if being stoned is a threat to humanity. The real threat is the idiots we’ve elected- not just at the state level, but now, we have local jurisdictions passing ordinances to delay any kind of pot-dispensary in their jurisdiction for the next six months- as if legal pot would be here in the next 24 if we’re lucky.

My old friend and republican sparring partner Greg Hunter was in town, and we decided to have a little conversation about medical marijuana and recorded this last month. Sorry, personal events have slowed me down a bit. Here it is for you to enjoy, debate and discuss.

If the State legislature really wanted to do their job, the first thing they’d do is put together some parameters for how dense and big you can be in order to have your own local banana republic within the state. A simple formula based on population density would regulate how much power to do local legislation is possible, forcing cities to merge, urban township tax havens to disappear, and stop duplication of resources in the name of political patronage positions… but, no- teasing us with medical marijuana legalization without implementation is much more fun.