DPS Levy will fail until they learn marketing 101

I’m biased. I own an ad agency. Dayton Public Schools uses someone else. I think that’s mistake number 1, but, I’ll share number 2 and 3… and maybe more.

Would you buy this product?

Same old thing, doesn’t have any new features or benefits. In fact, it will give you less than you got before, but we want to charge you more.

Your answer? No.

So why is the Dayton Public School Superintendent talking about money saving changes and the customers inability to pay? Pan handlers know you don’t get money from people standing in the food pantry line, they go ask people with money, Percy should take notes on his way out of town. Time to come up with the Hail Mary Plan and sell it hard. Get the business leaders to stop scrutinizing the budget to save pennies and start believing that this district can produce quality products with just a few more dollars.

Second issue keeps rearing it’s ugly head: The sweetheart deal the Kids First board gave Reynolds & Reynolds for the palatial offices downtown. Treasurer Stan Lucas is still defending that purchase. The only Kids First person left is Yvonne Isaacs, who is now Board President. Time to admit it- they screwed up, apologize and try to move forward. The citizens of Dayton aren’t going to forgive the district easily, but it’s time to put the boat anchor firmly at the bottom of the chain of complaints and give them something new to think about. When the king is still living in a castle, it’s hard for the paupers to sympathize.

Three: Read Sun Tzu. If the district doesn’t learn how to parlay some of it’s strengths into sabers soon- it’s all over. Sell your strengthgs: Stivers for one, Horace Mann, DECA there are stories here… (of course they let DECA slide out of their system when the last levy failed, and didn’t get anything for one of their star players in return). It’s time to run a full court press, the blitz offense- on the good stuff- because the bad stuff is just putrid.

Read the DDN article today- and does it sound like Phil Jackson talking about the Lakers chances- or does it sound like the Bengals making excuses for their convicts and controversy?

Superintendent unveils plan to cut costs for smaller levy
Superintendent Percy Mack launched a plan Monday, June 2, to make money-saving changes in response to a consultant’s study of the city school district’s business and education operations.

A committee of business and community leaders commissioned the study to help the district reduce costs so it can seek a smaller levy this November than the 15.17-mill levy that was defeated in 2007.

Mack said the district must recognize that the local economy is troubled.

“People don’t have discretionary money,” he said. “Even if they wanted to, they don’t have discretionary money to give. We have to work hard to get the levy down as low as possible.”

Among the cost-saving measures in Mack’s plan is leasing out one of two downtown office buildings the district purchased from Reynolds and Reynolds in 2003 for $15.5 million and consolidating administrative offices in the other building.

Treasurer Stan Lucas said circumstances have changed since the 2003 purchase, including last year’s $30 million cuts and more than 400 layoffs in the wake of the levy defeat. But he still believes buying the Reynolds buildings was the right move.

“At the time, we made the best decision for the district,” he said. “We didn’t know in 2003 there would be such a cutback. It was the right thing to do then and this is the right thing to do now — try to maximize the use of the facilities.”

Mack’s plan also includes:

• Busing. Students currently must live at least 1.5 miles from school to ride a school bus. That perimeter will be extended to 2 miles. A new committee will review transportation operations to identify other cost savings.

• Nutrition. A consultant will review nutrition operations in search of savings.

• Facilities. The district will review of warehouse space, and a committee from business operations, human resources and the legal department will have recommendations by month’s end on union contract changes that could bring savings.

• Budget. A new financial oversight committee will include the treasurer, assistant treasurer, chief operating officer, chief academic officer, audit committee members, the executive director of human resources and business community volunteers.

• Education services. The Council of Great City Schools will send consultants for a comprehensive review of special education and early childhood programs. A new team will monitor teacher training and the district’s data staff will visit every school next year to help principals use data better. Also, the district will explore pay-for-performance plans.

And if that isn’t enough uninspired thinking- try reading the “analysis” they wasted money on in this article:

Outlook for levy grim in Dayton
DAYTON — A researcher painted a bleak economic outlook Monday, June 2, for business and community leaders helping Dayton schools plan for a November levy.

Richard Stock, director of the Business Research Group at the University of Dayton, said the city has seen dramatic drops in employment, median income and real estate values in recent years.

Stock said the prospects for a recovery in the next three years are slim. And while the tax burden in Dayton is lower when compared to nearby communities, it feels heavier to city residents who, on average, have much lower incomes.

“There are reasons why lower-income people are concentrated in the city of Dayton,” he said. “There is a reason why, as a collective, they make decisions about the kinds of taxes they can afford.”

Stock gave his report to a committee that is reviewing the city school district’s operations to recommend changes that might bring cost savings with the goal of reducing the size of the November school levy.

Tom Breitenbach, president of Premier Health Partners and chair of the group, said he is still optimistic about the levy’s chances, despite Stock’s report. He pointed to recent successes in countywide levies for Human Services and Sinclair Community College, the resiliency of the school district and the community’s commitment to its schools.

Economic issues

Among the economic issues cited by University of Dayton researcher Richard Stock were:

A steep decline in the employment index since 2000, in contrast to employment gains in Cincinnati, in Ohio as a whole and nationally. The losses were driven by 33,000 job cuts in manufacturing over that period.

Median income, adjusted for inflation, is 10.5 percent lower in Dayton today than in a decade ago and has fallen faster here than in any other major Ohio school district.

The poverty rate for children age 5 to 17, which was 24 percent in 2000, grew to 32.8 percent in 2005.

The taxable value of real estate per student in Dayton, which grew steadily over the last decade, has now fallen to its lowest level in 20 years.

Uh, DOH! And, let’s start by asking Tom Breitenbach how much Premier Health Partners pays in property taxes? Sitting on a cool billion in cash, maybe it’s time for Premier to step up. They rent space right across the street in the 40W Fourth Tower- maybe they might want to move to the old Rey Rey training center and help the schools out.

Anyone who needs a researcher to tell them times are tough, really needs their head examined. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and talk trash (like I’m doing), but, it’s time to create a recovery plan that sounds like something some taxpayers might want to actually buy.

Breitenbach gets paid millions each year as CEO- if he’s all that great, time for him to try being Superintendent for a few years and prove he’s really worth all that money. You up for it Tom?

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1 Response

  1. Mike Bock June 5, 2008 / 11:46 am
    David, you write, “It’s time to create a recovery plan (for Dayton Public Schools) that sounds like something some taxpayers might want to actually buy.” Interesting idea, but who will write the plan? Does Dr. Mack have a recovery plan that taxpayers might want to buy that he has already presented to the board? I don’t know.

    And, when you say, “Get the business leaders to stop scrutinizing the budget to save pennies and start believing that this district can produce quality products with just a few more dollars,” you seem to be suggesting that a recovery plan should do more than simply recover, more than simply reestablish, the status quo. A good plan would show how to improve the status quo. But, again, who will write such a plan?

    I wrote a post, “Why You Are Not Entitled To Your Opinion,” http://daytonos.com/?p=2741 and replied to a blogger: “If you are trapped in a burning building, you’d better hope that someone knows the way out and that it’s not just a matter of opinion. If you are in a recession, you better hope that someone knows the way out and its not just a matter of opinion. There may not be a “right” way as in “one best way,” but there sure are myriads of wrong ways, ineffective or lethal ways. And we better hope that someone has some actual knowledge with which to give enlightenment. … ”

    If I wanted to build a skyscraper, I would want someone with expert opinion to help me, and I would give that architect a lot of authority to create a building plan. But in education, finding reliable expert advice is not so simple.

    What I think it would impress voters is a plan that would show a way to a future of higher quality schools — and lower taxes. Part of the resistance to approving new school levies is the fact that the need for ever new levies seems relentless; your phrase, “just a few more dollars,” has been sounded many times before.

    I think a good option for the Dayton Board to consider would be to create a 15 year plan that would show a gradual transformation of public education in Dayton from a government controlled bureaucratic system to a government controlled free enterprise one. A Dayton Board of Education could organize an entire district using free enterprise principles and organize in such a way to assure high levels of accountability for quality. If I were a board member I would want to know how possible superintendent hires might analyze such a proposal.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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