A confederacy of dunces – Meet your Dayton Public Schools leadership

The Review session last night lasted less than 45 minutes. It included long pregnant pauses while the board took time to review the documents- for the FIRST time. Stuff they should have seen 48 hours in advance.

Apparently, I missed that they’ve decided to hire Fahlgren Mortine – an ad agency out of Beavercreek (and part of a much bigger network based in Columbus) to advise them on “Strategic Planning and Development” – whatever that is.

The new “Chief of Schools Special Projects” made her debut- she’s the woman with her back to the camera. Can’t say she sounded remotely like an agent of change. You want to hear that- go listen to the new Trotwood Superintendent- who can spell out his entire plan- without having to hire consultants for $475K

One other question comes to mind- is how much would it cost to transport all the high school students in Dayton- and might that make a bigger impact on graduation rates and educational outcomes? Is it less than the $475K plus the $360K we’re spending for the next three years on this contract plus the new “chief”?

I’m going to swipe the rest of the analysis from Mario Gallin who attends all the meetings and was a school board member. Dayton voters screwed up when they didn’t put her back on this board. Harris, Al-Hamdani, Wick-Gagnet and Rhynard are absolutely clueless judging by their lack of questions. Walker is brain dead. McManus is too nice- and Taylor- a no show.

From Mario:

“The board review had its moments (see previous post), but beyond that it was business as usual. So many items and they were done in under 30 minutes.

Among the things they did not inquire about –

Who is this new Belmont principal, what makes him the guy, and how are we going to introduce him to the school and neighboring community, all of whom have a keen interest in what goes on there.

Ms. Spurlock gave a detailed analysis of recent hires for the district, include 9 SROs to be added to the current SRO roster. Mohamed Al-Hamdani did ask if some of the new SRO positions would be assigned to Belmont (answer – we don’t know). However, the opening for a new principal at Meadowdale High School wasn’t mentioned and no board member asked. In their defense they need a large piece of paper with diagrams to keep track of all the changes and shuffling around of personnel.

There are two positions listed for Challenger Flight Specialist. One member of the DPS Concerned Parents Facebook page who was connected to the Challenger Center in the past questioned Jocelyn Spencer Rhynard directly about their credentials. She did not ask at the review session, but again, in her defense, she may have asked outside the meeting. Hopefully she will respond back to that person. Once more, a great opportunity to talk about what an asset the Challenger Center is to not only to DPS students but to students throughout the Miami Valley, not taken.

Supplemental contracts. Top level administrators are getting supplemental contracts for the month of June. Academic Coordinator CTE – $3725, Academic Coordinator Fine Arts and Phys Ed – $3333, Executive Director Athletics – $4450. Most interesting was Chief of Schools- Secondary. She was awarded a supplemental contract last month for $2600 for the period 6/11-6/30 and is back on the agenda this month for an additional $2600 for the period 6/25-6/30.

Not even a raised eyebrow.

Messrs. Jackson are on the agenda to become Directors of Transportation along with Ms. Ludd. A perfect time to discuss how Transportation has weathered the sudden death of a dynamic Director last December. Also, I come to think of it, why they are replacing 1 director of transportation with 3. And—nothing.

Moving on to Contracts. Last month the board approved the sponsorship contract with the Dayton Business Technology High School and this month they are approving the sponsorship contract with the Dayton Business Technology High School. Again, curious? No.

Catapult Learning West contract for $1.57 million dollars for nonpublic schools. No cost to DPS General Fund, but since the Board has to approve it, what will Catapult provide? In addition, they did the DPS summer school program. How did that turn out and is that a recommendation for this contract?

They are on track to approve Fahlgren Mortine  to serve as the facilitator for strategic planning and development. The Board needs a plan to fully make informed decisions about staffing, buildings and programs. But I looked at their website and am confused as to how this fits. Apparently, they are an ad agency. Another opportunity to inform the community about their plans missed.

You all are going to have to go to Contracts, number 6 yourselves. I’m running out of incredulity.

South Community for $900,000. There was a contract for $250,000 in the review agenda on June 12 but appears to not have made the Board meeting agenda on June 19. Still don’t know what they are going to do for this amount. And possibly neither does the Board.

On the plus side, congrats on supporting the Neighborhood School Centers.

An additional shout out to Denise Gum, Board Assistant. She has begun to annotate changes to Board Docs so the general public can see what changes are made to agenda items. She also uses Board Docs to publish Policy Committee agendas and discussion items under Library, Policy Committee. Check it out.

I also appreciate that DPS Facebooks and broadcasts the review sessions and board meetings. It is not easy to put yourself out there for criticism every time, but they have not flinched. It would be nice if they expanded to committee meetings as well.”
And her earlier post: “So today, during the board review of next week’ voting items, John McManus asked for information on a contract for Partners for Leaders in Education (a group out of University of Virginia) in the amount of $475,000 over 3 years. Conveniently, the new Chief of Schools – Special Projects was on hand to explain.

This is a turn-around program for failing schools. It is a 3-year contract with an option for an additional year. The goal is to develop principal and teacher leaders, with the result that academics will shoot through the roof (sarcasm added). She has used this in Cincinnati and thinks it is the bees’ knees (my words, not hers).

The Board announced the five schools that will be involved in this endeavor, which are coincidentally the 5 (previously unnamed) schools referred to in the job description for her position.

Fairview, EJ Brown, Belmont HS, Louise Troy, Ruskin.

I am infuriated on behalf of the staff, students and families which make up Ruskin PreK-6 school. I am beside myself because I have spent the last 10 years of my life working with some of the most successful, yes, successful, teachers, administrators, community partners, after school staff, and don’t forget students – people who have taken the Ruskin mission to heart and have made it work in many ways, but also and importantly, in ways that outsiders judge education – test scores. Room for improvement -of course – but Ruskin has consistently been in the top 5 for test scores overall in the district, student attendance, and discipline issues (actually lack thereof).

Rather than say, “We have a new principal and an exciting opportunity to improve on what already is going well”, we are now out there before God and everyone as being among the worst of the worst.

The administration and board talk frequently about sharing “the good news” of the district but they have just put one of the successes of DPS in the dumpster.

Makes me want to cuss out loud.”

Thank you Mario. We should all be cussing out loud.

Who is Dwon Bush, and why DPS board should be fired before her

On my wall is an Einstein quote: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

At the Dayton Public School Board meeting last night, a 17 year old young black male had the room in tears.  “I’m a young black male” and he’s succeeding because of someone they fired on the November Eighth- because the leadership has no imagination and limited knowledge. From today’s Dayton Daily news:

Several Dunbar students passionately asked the board to bring back the school’s early college coordinator, Dwon Bush, who was laid off last week. She oversaw the process of students taking college classes at Sinclair, and her departure left them asking what would happen next.

Jamont Mathews talked about how Bush encouraged him when he was struggling, helping him succeed to the point where he’s been accepted to Tuskegee University. “You don’t know what I’ve been through,” Mathews said, breaking down in tears. “Don’t take this away from me.”

Source: DPS board postpones further layoffs

But, here’s the thing- if the board hadn’t hired a rookie from out-of-town, and had competent PR, the money to continue Ms. Bush’s contract would have appeared faster than Dr. Baguirov bugged out last night.

Who went out to ask the Sinclair Foundation to subsidize Ms. Bush’s salary? To bridge it? Until enrollment goes back up? No one.
Who thought to ask the Principal how critical this position is to Dunbar- the “Early College Academy”? No one.

Who told this story of success? Before the leadership acted with bad data, supplied by incompetent staff, and adjudicated by some HR consultant who doesn’t know this organization at all.

It’s time for some heads to roll.

The board decided to not act in haste with imperfect data last night, but how can they let the previous mistakes made with imperfect data stand?

For example: MariJane Recob, director of the Challenger Center, actually brings revenue to the district. The “consultant” probably had no idea of what the Challenger center is- or that it’s one of 50 in the country, and that there would be training costs in bringing in a replacement.

Dwon Bush used to be the principal at Belle Haven. In switching over to running the Sinclair coordinator spot, the “consultant” probably just looked at the salary and said “cut.” Not realizing, that if you want Dunbar to be taken seriously and be able to attract students, the coordination with Sinclair may be more important than the Principals job- that’s why it’s called an “Early College Academy.”

No doubt, there are other people who this board was willing to cut, based on imperfect data, bad advice, and with the guidance of a rookie superintendent who never bothered to learn what was working before she felt she “had to break it to fix it.”

There are places this district could save plenty of money. One example, the site that hosts DPSTV- where I had to wait 2 days to get the footage of Jamont- starts at $2,388 a year. Youtube is free.

The board had 3 employees getting paid overtime during the 5.5 hour meeting- to put the chairs away. Save that for the next day.

It’s time to reverse all cuts of direct instruction/pupil interaction, and delay until summer. The administration positions, support positions, etc- how many can be eliminated via retirement? Reassignments? How much are we spending on outside legal counsel each year to make up for a legal counsel who just got a $30K a year raise and is giving the district poor counsel?

And, how many abatement deals did this board grant to companies like GE, Emerson, CareSource etc? Maybe next time, we ask our corporate citizens to pay their fair share.